July 30, 2010

When God Whispers...

 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." 
 Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  1 Kings 19:11-12

He whispered. God whispered and I heard.

There is something beautiful about the Creator of the heavens and Earth connecting with you. Interacting with you. Giving you affirmation. It is a humbling thing. 

I have been plagued with doubts and paralyzed with fear in regards to my writing. I had convinced myself that my manuscript was rubbish. It's my first. Of course it is the stink of the world. It is riddled with beginner mistakes: passive beyond belief, little description, POV issues. You name it, it's there. I was so frozen with fear that I quit editing it. I gave up.

And then God whispered. 

He allowed me to have the humbling privilege of winning first place in the historical category of the Touch By Love Contest, put on by the Faith, Hope, & Love Chapter of RWA. I admit to being completely blown away. I was just so honored to have finaled. I know that sounds so trite, but it is completely true.

I felt as if God pushed back the hair from my face, leaned in close, and whispered, "I believe in you."

What greater motivation do I need to put fingers to the keyboard, my behind in the chair, and just write the stories He's placed in my heart?

Thank you, Father, for your sweet whispers of love. May I be mindful of your whispers in the wind and be willing to step out in faith to do what you have encouraged me to do. I love you so.

July 28, 2010

Winner of Ransome's Crossing!

Using a random generator, the person selected to win Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus is....

Una Keen

Congratulations! I will get the book in the mail to you this week!

July 26, 2010

Back From Turkey

I am back from Turkey, Texas. Population 500. There was dry heat, enough dust to collect between my flip flop free toes, and lots of two-named people to meet and love. (Two-named as in Mary Kate, Billy Bob, etc.) My husband's sister's husband preaches there and they were having a Youth Rally, so we packed up our two youngest teens and made our way west.

Isn't it funny how being a place so unlike your own spurs your imagination and gets the creativity flowing? Everything I saw, felt, smelled, made me wonder if I could use it in a book. There were so many unique sights and experiences that I stored up for future reference.

I'm glad to be back home and I plan on doing absolutely nothing this week. It is my last week home before I start back to work and I want to take advantage of it! I hope to write blog posts to get me through much of August since I will be working 60-70 hours a week and won't have much time for blogging...or writing.


I'm tired just thinking about it! But I won't complain, because it is a job that allows me to supply insurance for my family. Yay! for insurance that you pay through the nose for and don't ever use! (grrrr) But Yay! that we are that healthy!!!!

What are your plans for the week? Writing? Plotting? Playing? Napping?

July 23, 2010

I Write Like....????

I succumbed to the curiosity and checked out the site called, I Write Like. What you do is put in a few paragraphs of your WIP and it gets analyzed to see whose writing is similar to yours. I tried it and here is who I write like....

I write like
J. K. Rowling
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hhhmm, that can be good in that she is famous and has money now, but in writer's circles, well, I've heard talk that she is not the best writer. So what is better? To be published and have tons of people read and love your books? Or to be a great, profound, deep writer?

I couldn't stand it and I tried again with a different snippet from my novel. Here's what came of it...

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Now that is weird. But I must say it is a bit flattering. Like Rowling, he is famous and most likely wealthy. I haven't read any of his books, other than his book on writing, so I can't say that my writing compares with his in any way. Now I want to try again...here goes...

I write like
Anne Rice
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Ha! I think I may be supposed to write fantasy or paranormal, which is interesting, because the story I am plotting out right now is a speculative book. It's a contemporary with a bit of magic in it. No witches or anything, just a wee bit of magic to make for a fun read.

Okay, okay, I couldn't resist and tried again....

I write like
Charles Dickens
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Bahahahahaha! Now that is hilarious and most likely proves that this site is just a random generator of author names. I would say that my writing is NOTHING like Charles Dickens' writing. NOTHING like it. Whatsoever.

But this was a nice way to pass the time on lazy summer day. Try it out and let me know who YOU write like.  I WRITE LIKE.

July 21, 2010

Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus: Review & Giveaway!

Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus is the second book in The Ransome Trilogy. I took it with me on my vacation to Colorado and loved it! I hadn't read the first book so I wondered if I would have a hard time jumping into it, but there was no problem. Kaye seemlessly wove in information from the previous book so that you knew what was going on.

Here's the back cover copy:

In order to get to her secret fiance in jamaica, Charlotte Ransome must disguise herself as Charles Lott, a midshipman who joins the crew of one of the ships in a convoy led by her brother-Commodore William Ransome. Unknown to her, First Lieutenant Ned Cochrane, also in Ransome's convoy, has set his heart on Charlotte after meeting her briefly in Portsmouth. But because he is about to leave for a year of duty in the Caribbean, he despairs of finding her unmarried when he returns home.

During the transatlantic journey, an attack on the conveoy throws Ned and "Midshipman Lott" together. Through unsure as to whether he should let Charlotte know he sees through her ruse, Ned decides to keep her secret...and hopes to eventually win her love. However, Charlotte soon discovers that losing her heart to the handsome lieutenant is not the only danger she faces on this Atlantic crossing.

My thoughts:

What I loved about this book is the adventurous spirit of Charlotte. She is one tough gal who is courageous enough to risk her reputation (this is the Regency era, you know) and even her life to work among sailors in the midst of war. While a bit misguided in her quest to reunite with her fiance, she does what she does with honor and determination. She is amazing in this book!

I love how Ned secretly longs for Charlotte and she slowly begins to long for him. It is a slow and beautiful dance Kaye orchestrates between the two and I was routing for them from the get-go.

I will warn you though...there is a HUGE cliff hanger at the end of the book that made me jump up from my seat and gasp in....well, I suppose frustration. Frustration in that I will have to wait until next summer to continue the story!!!! Oops, pardon my exclamation points. But Kaye, really?????  I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation....and I'm sure that was your intention. :)

Because I won the first AND second book in a blog contest, I am giving away my reviewer copy from the publisher to a lucky person who comments and leaves their email address. (Remember to leave it in a spam-free way).

If you can't wait to win a copy, you may go HERE to purchase Ransome's Crossing.
If you would like to visit Kaye's site to find out more about her books or to browse through her great Writing Tips and Resources, go HERE.

July 20, 2010

The Dreaded Writer's Block

I'm talking about writer's block over at The Writer's Alley today. Stop by and share your tricks for overcoming it!

The Writer's Alley

July 19, 2010

My Vacation in Colorado

I've been on vacation in Colorado. I wanted to let everyone know why I wasn't blogging or responding to comments, but I'm one of those weird people who don't want to let burglars know that my house is empty for a week. Maybe I am paranoid, but I'd like to think I was careful.

My parents' 50th wedding anniversary is this year and what they wanted was a trip to Colorado with the entire family. We all headed to Cuchara, CO (near the Spanish Peaks in SE Colorado) and stayed at the Yellow Pine Ranch in the Lodge. I was so excited to see that it was over 4,000 SF and had beds for almost everyone.

I have two younger sisters who each have two children. There were 17 of us total and we all get along. Amazing, right? We spent the whole week together and still love one another! The great part about this trip was we all did whatever we wanted. Some golfed. Some played tennis. Some hiked. Some fished. Some climbed to the top of a mountain.  And some just liked to take goofy pictures. It was so much fun!

We had a time of blessing for my parents at the end of our trip and each person told what they appreciated about them, what they have taught them, and shared special memories. There was not a dry eye in the lodge...well, at least for the women. We then gathered around them and prayed over them. It was a beautiful time.

This was one of the most relaxing trips I have ever taken. It was perfect, though I admit I was tempted to hole up and write. But since this trip was about family, I spent the whole time enjoying them and having fun. (I did do alot of brainstorming for my next story and it's gonna be a fun one!)

I'm glad to be back home, but not happy about the 100 degree temperature here in Texas. Now I am just doing laundry, getting back into a routine, and enjoying my last two weeks of summer before I have to go back to work.

I missed you guys!

July 12, 2010

Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I absolutely loved Highland Blessings! Jennifer Hudson Taylor swept me away in a time period I love and a setting I adore! Medieval Scotland. Lush, untamed land, coupled with courageous, braw lairds of the clan...well, I practically swooned in several of the scenes.

Scotland in the 1400's was a time of feuds between clans. Jennifer takes us on a journey of two clans attempting to make peace at the expense of a young womans freedom. I loved that the heroine was a feisty woman, strong and secure in her beliefs. I loved the hero, who was all that a medieval warrior should be, yet with a gentle heart that could treasure a woman as strong of will as the heroine was. Their story has twists and turns, and is a great, compelling read.

This is the kind of book I would love to write! I love the setting, the time period, the characters, the plot twists...everything! Jennifer has a great handle on the era and the details of setting. She transports you to a breathtaking place of love and danger. You will love this book!

Scotland, 1473. Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. Her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. She learns to forgive, and he begins to trust. How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland Blessings, when there is a traitor in their midst and murder is the ultimate weapon?

You can find out more about Highland Blessings and purchase it HERE.

July 09, 2010

The Time Juggler

We writers are masters of time. Or at least we should be. Whether we are a full time writer, a stay-at-home-mom writer, or a full time employer-night writer, our time is valuable and we have to manage it well or we won't get any stories written.

I work full time in a school office that is mentally draining, so I come home tired with the normal house chores to do. I don't always fit writing in because I don't have the right balance. I haven't learned to juggle all my responsibilities in a way that keeps a steady flow with no mishaps along the way.

A juggler is like a writer who has found the perfect time-balance to be productive in work, home life, and  writing. Here is why I think so,

  • FOCUS: A juggler must keep his eyes on the highest point in the ball pattern. When a ball gets near the zenith, he throws the next one. 
    • A writer must prioritize his life. Do the most important first, then move on to the next. A writer must focus his attention on the task at hand and not get distracted on the little things (ahem...facebook, twitter, the new book sitting by your bed)

  • BALANCE: A juggler must have good balance. He must rest secure in his position, being able to move back and forth with ease to make sure he catches each ball. He must make his throws consistent in order to keep the balls in the correct pattern. 
    • A writer must balance all his responsibilities in life. If he/she watched TV all day, that would be an unhealthy balance. If he/she scrubbed the house from top to bottom while ignoring his/her family, that would be an unhealthy balance (but oh-so-nice to have a clean house!). All things in moderation.

  • PRACTICE: A juggler must practice many hours in order to be proficient in his craft. He practices the balance and focus, and becomes proficient in his craft. 
    • Ah, so it is with the writer. He/she must continually focus on their goals and have balance in their goals. To focus too much on something other than writing lets your craft fall by the wayside. Spending all your time writing at the expense of all else will burn you out and could possibly create conflict with the other areas of your life.  
So we must become a time juggler in order to be balanced and focused and productive. Has anyone become proficient yet? Could you give me a few pointers? 

July 08, 2010

My Characters' First Encounter

My friend and critique partner, Pepper Basham,  is having an excellent series on First Encounters at her blog. She has had some fabulous authors such as Janet Dean, Audra Harders, Deb Raney, Ruth Logan Herne, Siri Mitchell, Missy Tippens, Cheryl Wyatt, and Jamie Carie.

The next two weeks she is featuring aspiring author's first encounters and today she is featuring my scene of Malcolm and Jocelyn's first encounter.

Stop by and get a glimpse into my story at....

Don't forget to check out Pepper's scene, because that girl can WRITE!

July 02, 2010

Creating A Casting Book

I am singing the praises of Kaye Dacus today! I have been reading through her Writing Series Index on her website and it is a treasure cove of writer helps! Here is a list of just a few of the topics in her writing series:

  • Top Ten Writer Tips
  • Creating Credible Characters
  • Making POV Work For You
  • Manuscript 101 (formating & more)
  • Voice
  • Writing the Romance Novel
  • The Inspirational Element
The topic I want to highlight today is Be Your Own Casting Director. Kaye has written a 6 part series on creating a casting book to help storyboarding. Click on the link to get to the first of her series. She goes into great detail on the "how to's" and the "why's". Today I want to show you how I took her instructions and started my own! 

First, Kaye showed how she keeps a spreadsheet of movie stars, models, professional ball players, etc who she thinks would make great models for a character. She then inputs their info (hair color, eye color, height, birthdate, etc) into a spreadsheet. She can sort this spreadsheet to look for actors with blue eyes or actresses with brown hair to find one to represent a character she is developing. See her series to download her spreadsheet template. You can then use it as is, or do as I did and delete the names I didn't know and start adding names of my own. 

Here is a picture of my spreadsheet:

Now that you've found the actress you are looking for, you can go to your Casting Book to find pictures of her to spark your writing and give you different facial expressions to use in your writing.

Now, you need to visit Kaye's site to get detailed instructions on how to do this, but basically, you use Power Point to organize photos of actors. It is like a catalog of headshots that you can look through to choose your ideal character! Create a slide for each actor and alphabetize for easy sorting. Kaye has so many that she creates a folder for each letter of the alphabet.

Here is a look at one that I created:

Now isn't that the coolest thing? Seriously, this is so easy and so much fun. Annnd, it is a GREAT way to procrastinate your editing. ;)

So what is your way of creating the look of your characters? Are you visual and need pictures? Or do you have it all in your head?

P.S. Remember to check out Kaye Dacus! She not only has great writing tips, but is a fabulous author of both contemporary and historical fiction.

ADDENDUM: Kay left a comment which I thought was so cool, I wanted to add it here. Another new tool for you.....

I'm going to throw everyone for a loop and add a new twist to this . . . in addition to keeping my casting book images in Power Point (and I have a folder for "actors" and one for "actresses," with a separate document for each letter of the alphabet), for my last two novels, I've incorporated Microsoft One Note, which came with MS Office 2007, as the place where I collect all of the images I need for my WIP. 
I posted screen captures of them in this post:
Another great resource for collecting images of characters are stock photo sites. My favorite is http://www.jupiterimages.com. I set up an account (a username/password) so that the images don't have watermarks on them. It's where I found the heroines for books 2 and 3 of the Matchmakers series---and they actually used one of the images I selected for the front cover of The Art of Romance. See---while it's fun to do, it can also come in quite handy when sending cover-art info to a publisher!

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