Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Heartfelt Tribute to Florence Case

My sweet, sweet friend Florence Moyer (she wrote as Florence Case) has gone to be with the Lord. Flo was my RWA Chapter - Faith, Hope and Love friend. We never met, but oh, the love and encouragement she gave to me via email. Once when I was particularly low, she offered to read my proposal. That doesn’t happen very often—at least not in my little corner of the writing world. I’ve even asked authors if they’d look over a chapter or synopsis for me, only to receive a no, I don’t do that. That’s how I knew Flo was a gift from God—she offered, I didn’t have to ask. And she told me that she didn’t often make that kind of offer but felt God connected us.

Flo was a former instructor for Writer's Digest School. She taught for them for 5 years, with over 300 students during that time, did critiquing of proposals and whole books for them in a separate section of the School and she also worked as a freelance critiquer for about seven years. She sold three secular historical romances and five Silhouettes, and two Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspenses. Melissa Endlich was her editor.

Flo and I often ‘talked’ about ideas from God and writing for God. She believed if an idea wouldn’t leave you alone, it must be important.

She told me: “If writing is your dream, please do not give up on it. I recently read that there are two ways to write as a Christian--to be called to it by God, and to just write and offer it as a gift to God. Isn't that something? I'm not sure which mine is. ”

When I complained about all the writing rules that writing loops espoused, Flo came to my rescue and confessed: I generally stopped reading about rules and wrote from my voice--that is, the way my head is saying it as it goes to my typing fingers. For instance, while it's perfectly fine to not like to read or write "moving body parts": His arms reached out to her---it is not incorrect if it's from the heroine's point of view and it's your writing style. For a while, I felt myself stilted because every sentence I wrote, I stopped and analyzed it and pretty soon, I got so bottled up, I didn't want to write. So I stopped worrying. I've never sold a book directly to an editor that didn't have that sort of thing sprinkled through it. And "was" sentences, too. In my experience, editors look for voice and character first, and then the goal needs to be emotional for category romance. The hero's goal should be either in opposition to the heroine's, or he should want what she does for an entirely different reason. Then throw in lots of opposition, both on the hero and heroine's part to each other, and maybe a villain in a suspense. But it's the emotional cost, I have finally come to understand, that the editors really seem to look for. (Ha, there I went--it's just the habit of teaching this stuff for all those years.)

I dropped her a note when I saw her Romantic Times review and she responded:
Thanks for the congrats on getting a 4 on DEADLY REUNION. I was so happy. I really believe it was because the editor left my writing style as is. In the past, the books where the editors let me be a little "sassy" in my dialogue did better rating wise. I have to admit I started looking up the rating right around Dec 30th, even though I vowed not to.

Flo's friendship was special to me. She didn't rush through her posts or her explanations. She spent time composing just the right words and encouragement. Once I opened an email from her and read, “I DO NOT want you to lose your passion. So persevere, Jess. Write from the heart and your emotions. And don't give up. Flo"

Flo's gift wasn't only writing for God--it was encouraging others. I'm going to miss this very special lady and receiving her wise counsel. I pray she knew just how much I cherished her friendship.

You can read my January 23rd interview with Florence Case HERE. Flo's last LoveInspired Suspense will hit the stands in late October or early November. Let's honor her memory by buying Mistletoe and Murder. I know you won't be disappointed because her writing partner was God.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Personal Tribute to Kate Duffy

Let me say up front, I was a Kate Duffy fan. Nothing could have shocked me more than hearing about her death. I always thought—and still do—that I would be a much better writer if I’d had the privilege of being in Kate’s stable of writers.

I met Kate at the Golden Triangle Writers Guild conference in Beaumont, Texas. Each time she attended our conference, she was always kind and cordial to me. I think she recognized that I was quite the wimp, totally intimidated by her presence. I stood in awe of her, sat on the fringes and listened to everything she had to say about writing, publishing, editing, acquiring books for whatever publisher she worked for at the time. As far as I was concerned, her word was the law back in the late 80s and early 90s.

One of my most prized possessions is a rejection slip from Kate when she was editor in chief at Meteor Publishing in October, 1990. It's priceless and I’d like to share it with you:

Dear Jessica,
As you may know, while I was at Tudor I was involved with publishing the book IS ELVIS ALIVE? And that project turned my phone into an Elvis Presley hot line. I, in fact, had calls from two Elvi. I had somebody call and offer to sell me Elvis’s hair brush with Elvis’s hair still in it. I was offered, for a considerable sum of money, the table on which Elvis was embalmed. People called my office claiming that Elvis was speaking to them through various appliances. And, last but not least, I heard from a significant number of the population who decided to name various children and animals “Elvis.” I have to be the only editor you will run into who has had this kind of experience and, therefore, I am the least likely to be interested in a book that has anything to do with Elvis.

Without prejudice, I did read your query letter, and it does sound like Love You Tender is not a romance. Therefore, I cannot encourage you to submit this book to us. Best of luck in placing this project elsewhere.

Sincerely, Kate Duffy
Editor in Chief

I have no idea if Kate was in a hilarious mood, just feeling creative or if her tone was total sarcasm, but this rejection slip made my day because it was funny, and it was definitely not a form rejection. I have a feeling this letter is a perfect example of Kate Duffy’s quirky personality, and I have no doubt she touched many lives and left many of us with wonderful memories.

Love You Tender eventually became a romance and sold to Silhouette Romance of which Kate was founding editor. The title was changed to The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes. I wonder if my editor at Silhouette was contacted by any Elvi.

Rest in Peace, Kate. You were loved.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bayou Writers' Group Annual Conference

Bayou Writers' Group will hold its annual conference on November 14, 2009. Take a look at our speakers, visit their websites and plan to join us for an exciting one day affair. We're also having our On The Wall First Page Contest. You can go TO OUR WEBSITE to download a conference brochure and learn the details. If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a message in the comments section below. Thanks!

Charles McGrew is editor and publisher with Brown Street Press, an independent publishing company that has released their first titles in 2008, including several authors in Louisiana. Charles has worked in publishing since the mid-90s. He wrote and developed a line of adventure and role playing games prior to working in fiction.

Kathryn Casey is a Houston-based journalist who has written for Rolling Stone, TV guide, Reader's Digest, Texas Monthly and many other publications. She is the author of six acclaimed true crime books and one novel titled Singularity, the first in a series.

Trent Angers is editor and publisher of Acadian House Publishing and Acadiana Profile, The Magazine of the Cajun Country, one of the longest running regional publications in the U.S.
Trent, who was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature (2000 and 2001), is a veteran journalist who has authored thousands of published news and feature stories, as well as five books, in a writing and editing career that has spanned four decades. Acadian House Publishing publishers non-fiction titles ranging from biographies and histories to books dealing with psychology, philosophy and theology. The company also publishes Louisiana-related titles focused on the state’s history, heritage, food and culture.

Melanie Rigney is the former editor of Writer's Digest. Earlier in her career she worked for Advertising Age, Macmillan Computer Publishing, Thompson Financial Publishing, and United Press International. Melanie is the owner of Editor for You, a publishing consultancy that has helped more than 200 hundred authors, publisher and agents. She writes for Living Faith, a leading devotions publication and she lives in Arlington, VA. Melanie will speak on Memoir Writing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson w/David Kopp

This is my kind of book: a combination how-to/inspirational/Christian Living. This is the kind of book I have to read with pen and paper beside me because I get a lot of ideas, not only for my own writing, but for my life. Another reason this book appeals to me is because I believe in "miracle-specific signals" (tho I've never called it that) and that if we learn to read them, then we can definitely respond to them. I believe God puts opportunities in our path and if we're in-tune with God, then yep, we're blessed over and over and over again. And we can bless others.

I'm giving away one copy of You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson. If you want to be tossed in the basket for a drawing, leave a message.

His New York Times phenomenon The Prayer of Jabez changed how millions pray. Now Bruce Wilkinson wants to change what they do next.

Anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by a direct intervention from God. Around the world these acts are called miracles—not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and that God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn how Heaven works.

In the straightforward, story-driven, highly motivating style for which he is known, Wilkinson describes how anyone can help others experience miracles in such universally significant arenas of life as finances, practical help, relationships, purpose, and spiritual growth.

You Were Born for This will change how readers see their world, and what they expect God can do through them to meet real needs. They will master seven simple tools of service, and come to say with confidence, “I want to deliver a supernatural gift from God to someone in need today—and now I know how!”

Author Bios:
One of the world’s foremost Christian teachers, Bruce Wilkinson is best known as the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The Prayer of Jabez. He is also the author of numerous other bestsellers, including A Life God Rewards, Secrets of the Vine, and The Dream Giver. Over the past three decades, Wilkinson has founded several global initiatives, including organizations that recruited and trained thousands of Americans to address hunger, AIDS, and poverty in Africa. Bruce and his wife, Darlene, have three children and six grandchildren. They live outside Atlanta.

David Kopp has collaborated with Bruce Wilkinson on over a dozen bestselling books, including The Prayer of Jabez. He is an editor and writer living in Colorado.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog Tour for Stray Affections

I am so behind on my reading, I'm embarrassed about it. Stray Affections (love the title) is sitting on my coffee table screaming my name, but here I am transcribing interviews and wondering when and how I'll ever get back to my own novel, much less all the books I want to read.

The first thing that grabbed me about this book was, of course, the title. And then the blurb, and then. . . you know how I am about first lines. :-)

Preoccupied by troubling news, Cassandra accidentally broiled a batch of cookies.
Ah...I love having something in common with fictional characters! I can honestly say, been there, done that, but not accidentally. When I'm in a hurry I try to broil it. Doesn't always work.

Take a look at the following summary and and if it grabs you, run to your nearest bookstore and buy. Or let those well-manicured fingers click the following links and get Stray Affections sent right to your door.

Meet the author and watch the video HERE.
Buy it HERE

In Stray Affections, the last thing that Cassandra expects out of her Sunday is to be mesmerized at a collectors’ convention by a snow globe. She’s enjoying some shopping time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home—even if means wrestling another shopper for it!
The beautiful snow globe sparks long-dormant memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski. Life in Wanonishaw, Minnesota is never dull, though, and Cassie keeps the recollections at bay, busy balancing her boys, her home daycare operation, and being a good friend to best pal Margret. But after a strange—flurrious, as Cassie deems it—moment happens with the remarkable snow globe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.

“As a believer, I know the power of forgiveness and new beginnings, and of a God, and family and friends, who love me the way I am,” Charlene Ann Baumbich says. “The heartbeat of change flows through those wonderful gifts.”

With the quirky, close-knit Midwestern small-town feel that made Charlene Ann Baumbich’s acclaimed Dearest Dorothy novels so popular, Stray Affections invites readers to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.

Author Bio:
Charlene Ann Baumbich is a popular author and speaker and an award-winning journalist. In addition to her Dearest Dorothy series of novels, she has written seven nonfiction books of humor and inspiration. A bungee-jumping, once motorcycle-owning grandma and unabashed dog lover, Charlene lives with her husband and rescued dog Kornflake in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She loves telling stories, laughing whenever possible, and considers herself a Wild Child of God.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Are You A Professional Writer?

I've found a blog that I've become addicted to, and want to share it with you. The writer's name is Robert Swartwood; he's a writer from Pennsylvania. Today he's posed a question about what makes a professional writer. The discussion is interesting. Everyone should save this blog to your favs, link to it, and visit it often. You can learn alot from this guy and his followers. When you read his posts, always scroll down to read the comments. I'd like to know what you think of his site, his thoughts and also...

Are You a Professional Writer?

I’m a professional writer. I get paid by a local magazine for writing articles, doing interviews, snapping pictures. I pulled together a writing program for a university and I teach basic NF. Through the years I’ve had a few poems and a novel published, but more nonfiction. I’m the president of a writers’ group and oversee an annual conference. I critique and edit. Over the course of 32 years, I’ve had four agents who have tried to sell my novels. None of them have exhibited a passion for my work. The one novel that was published, I sold myself.

I do not feel like a professional writer. There’s this ‘something’ way down deep that keeps telling me I’m a phony, and maybe I am. ‘Cause I’m lazy. I don’t ‘construct’ poetry anymore. I don’t struggle with exactly the right word to use anymore. My creativity comes and goes.

Friends who know me well, say I’ve lost my passion. Others say I have a fear of failure and rejection. I often look at my work and ask myself if I can really write. Was that one novel a fluke? Yeah, it probably was. But I’m still a professional writer—no matter how much or how little I submit or how much I get paid.

Last week I interviewed the State Treasurer. When he sat across the table from me, he saw a professional writer. He didn’t know I feel trapped in a game of pretend.

Are you a professional writer? What makes it so? Tell me where you get your confidence, how you feel on the inside?

A very dear writer-friend of mine told me a few days ago that she has too much confidence. I've noticed that about her but she's not one of these arrogant types that you can't stand. She's just . . . confident. Sure of herself. She knows what she knows, and she definitely knows the freelance writing business.

Let me hear from you: What makes you a professional writer?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blog Tour for The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed our Nation by Jerry Newcombe

Author Jerry Newcombe stated: “The first Great Awakening, of course, helped lead to the founding of America. The Second Great Awakening helped lead to the end of the evil of slavery. Now, we need a Third Great Awakening. Such a move of God is what this nation desperately needs.”

That just about says it all. We need to get back to our Christian roots.

The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation (Nordskog Publishing) by Jerry Newcombe is a definitive volume on the Christian roots of our nation. Those who want to restore knowledge of our Christian heritage have their work cut out. As secularism continues its stranglehold on American education, we move further and further away from retaining our Christian roots. The Book That Made America will challenge anyone to know the true origin of our Nation and to fight to keep it. Newcombe hopes to educate Americans by providing the facts of history, proving that America began as a Christian nation and American’s have every right to preserve and uphold that heritage.

All that is positive in our foundation can be traced back to the Scriptures. Recently, President Obama declared that America is not a Christian nation, while Newsweek announced the demise of Christian America. This book is the answer to America’s critics with the facts of history.

Jerry Newcombe, D. Min., is senior producer for Coral Ridge Ministries and has produced or coproduced more than fifty documentaries. The host of two weekly radio shows, he has also been a guest on numerous television and radio talk shows - including Fox Business News, C-Span, USA Radio and Moody Radio. He is the author or coauthor of twenty two books, including with Dr. Kennedy, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, How Would Jesus Vote?, and The Presence of a Hidden God.

Coral Ridge Ministries is a media outreach founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy. Its programming reaches a national television, radio, and Internet audience.

Nordskog Publishing

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Don't Do As I Do--Do As I Say

I told someone today that I believe my calling is to encourage other writers and create opportunities for them. I’m not sure what that means—‘create opps’ for them, except, I search out markets, keep my ears open, look for good articles, blogs, websites, agents, and quotes that will help them reach and stretch in the right direction to grab some bylines and bucks.

When I was growing up, my mother bought Dial soap. In her mind (and experience) Dial was the only soap that got us clean. She used Tide—no other—and Purex. When it came to fruit drinks, Hawaiian Punch was it. And there was nothing better than Crisco.

She baked with Fleischmann's Margarine. Absolutely no compromises.

When I married, I chose my own brands. Well, actually, I still use Dial, but I prefer Cheer, don’t use Purex at all, prefer I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and my fruit juice consist of Crystal Light powder sprinkled in a bottle of Aquafina.

When I became president of the Bayou Writers Group, I wanted each and every member to work hard, enter contests for feedback and send their work out. You learn by doing, I tell them. You learn from rejections and critiques. Writers write, I say, as if I’m some great philosopher sharing wisdom. I also harp for them to read how-to books, stand at the magazine rack for hours like I do to know what’s there, study the periodicals, surf the net to learn what’s out there, write, write, write.

Recently I told Robert Swartwood that
many new writers want to be spoon-fed—they don’t want to teach themselves, work hard to learn and achieve their goals. I think I might have been wrong. I guess what I’m trying to say is… I’m becoming my mother.

Am I guilty of force-feeding?


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Writer Friends and Writer Business

The past few days have been hectic but fun. Daughter hopped a plane with three friends and they're sitting in Seattle now waiting to attend the LSU game. Honestly, I doubt if they're sitting and waiting. :)

I hooked 'em to Beaumont to visit friends and take care of some business. Spent Wednesday with Rogayle, my travel writer/novelist friend, then met hubby to have dinner with cousins. Then today, I met with another writer friend.
Debra and I have known each other via the Internet since 2007--if not longer. We "met" when she emailed me about Lamar's writing classes. We clicked and have kept in touch ever since. Debra took my NF writing class. I believe when Debra and I first started emailing each other, she was unpublished. Since then she's sold a recipe and she's got a regular column in a newsletter--a paying gig! Plus, she blogs on a regular basis because she always has something to say. Talk about a go-getter. Every time Debra opens her mouth, I hear myself saying, "That's a fantastic story, you need to write it!" or "Debra, you've got a book there, you need to go home and focus on your writing!" This woman has more stories in her than anyone I've come across, and believe me, there's nothing she can't do.
Today we sat in Rao's Bakery and talked blogging, books and writing for almost three hours. This is a picture of us standing outside Rao's. I can honestly say I wish I had half her energy and all her ideas!

When I left Debra, I ran to Barnes & Noble to meet with the Cindy, the Community Relations Manager and Cathy, the store manager. I hurried to the reference section to see if they had any new writing books and saw a young man browsing. I'm always so curious when I see people purusing the writing books so this time, I was bold and asked if he was a writer. We struck up a conversation, so let me say right here: Anthony, I hope you accomplish all your dreams with your art and your writing.
Cindy and Cathy and I spent an hour discussing our Bayou Writers' Conference. The two ladies are going to manage our conference bookstore/author signing. This will be the first time we've had an author signing at our conference so it's great to have a couple of pros in charge.

Overall, a very productive day with old friends and new ones. What would we do if we didn't have writer friends to encourage us and help us along the way? I can't imagine.
Tomorrow morning I interview the State Treasurer. My brain is mush. I think I'll immerse myself in Project Runway.