Saturday, December 27, 2008

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen

I like instant change. In fact, friends who know me well can vouch that when I want change, I usually grab some scissors and start cutting on my hair. Reading Karen Scalf Linamen's book, Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, makes more sense than grabbing the scissors. This little book should be read with a pen in hand so you can underline, jot notes to yourself, and smiley faces. Linamen knows how to encourage. Of course, we've all heard her common sense advice, probably more than once, but there's something about her voice, her tone, that makes us want to succeed this time.

This book is the perfect New Year's gift to yourself. Linamen's 52 ideas can work no matter what you want to change. Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight is easy to read, and a fun one.

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight


Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately, fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.

In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life. Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!

Author Bio:
Karen Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. more about Karen, please visit her website here.

Want to make a change in your life?
To win Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, leave a comment with your email address. I have two copies to give away.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Season's Greetings and Answered Prayers

Merry Christmas. Gifts are flying around our house like crazy. Every time I turn around there's another one under the tree.

One special gift we've already received is answered prayer. You might be a friend who has lifted Alvaro Garcia's name to the Lord. He was in the accident in Houston on that snowy day a few weeks ago. The doctors gave the family little hope, but we stormed the heavens on Alvaro's behalf and begged God to heal our friend.

Alvaro’s daughter called with the latest report. Though he isn't completely out of the coma, he is responding to voices. His wife asked him to squeeze her hand, to give her a sign that he could hear her voice. He did squeeze her hand and he opened his eyes for just a minute. The doctor says he has all the good signs of recovery but it will take a long time and lots of rehabilitation.

Can you imagine how Mrs. Garcia felt when Alvaro squeezed her hand, when she saw his eyes flutter open for that brief second? Hope had to fill her heart.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Please keep praying for a complete recovery.

"Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?'" John 11:40 NIV

May Jesus be the light of your Christmas celebration -- and when the holidays are over, may He be the light of your life.

See you after the holidays.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blue Christmas Without ...

Christmas is such a busy time of year. People rush around choosing that special gift. Music blares on the radio and inside stores. Church parties and friendly get-togethers take place in every neighborhood. There's laughter everywhere.

Please remember those who find it hard to laugh this season because of some tragedy. For many this will be the first Christmas without a loved one. I can't imagine going through such a special holiday without my husband or children.

Our friend Alvaro Garcia is still unconscious. The doctor told his family that he may come out of the coma but it could take as long as a month. Every rib was broken in the accident and he sustained multiple injuries to his head. His family must be living at the hospital, and living in fear . They will certainly experience a different kind of Christmas this year. Let's pray they feel the Spirit of Jesus healing their beloved husband and father--Alvaro.

In our house, we believe God still performs miracles. I'm praying my friend Alvaro Garcia is the recipient of a healing miracle and that he and his family will be able to sing God's praises for mending his broken body and restoring him to perfect health.

Do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? Someone who is living a tragedy, experiencing a horror, has a broken heart? Send a special note to let them know you're thinking of them. More importantly, lift their names to our Lord Jesus Christ. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Day - Prayer Day

A 'blizzard' hit Beaumont, TX. Here's what it looked like from our apartment patio at 1:00 A.M. ->

Later during the morning it looked like this. Every one I know got up during the wee hours to see the snow. Nature's beauty brought laughter and fun . . . and tears too.
A friend of ours was in a horrible accident and had to be air-lifted to Hermann Hospital in Houston. Please pray for him. His name is Alvaro Garcia. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

I'm almost in the Christmas spirit. Almost. Okay, okay, I really am ready for Christmas. This is the first time in a long time that we've been together to get the tree and decorate it. What fun! And when it's all over, we'll go back to our regularly scheduled program: writing, reading and reviewing, plotting and planning. Can't wait to see what BOOKS Santa has for me under this perfect tree. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

As Time Goes By

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we spent some time in a nursing home with a loved one. A young man--about 20 years old--sat down at a nearby piano and struggled through a very bad rendition of As Time Goes By. I'm the only one who recognized the tune because it's a favorite.

I'm sure every day drags for the many people who live in that home. They sit in their wheel chairs or lay helplessly in their beds with nothing but memories to keep them company. Some don't even have their memories left.

I couldn't help but remember one of the lines in As Time Goes By:

"Moonlight and love songs never out of date, hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate ..."

I wonder if any of those old timers nurse regrets--remember things they should have done, could have done, meant to do. Or maybe something they shouldn't have done. Spending time with them, watching and listening has made me look back on this year.

2008 zoomed by for me. There are so many things I meant to do. I didn't accomplish much. Finished a novel, started a couple of new ones, was part of a conference committee, taught a class. I should have and could have done more.

Now it's time to start fresh, but in a sense, do it all over again. Life is repetition, isn't it?
Next year about this time, we'll be at this same point, won't we? Looking back.

Don't you love this video scene from Casablanca, and the music? It seems happy and sad at the same time.

As Time Goes By . . .

What's on your To Do List for 2009?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

So much to do--so little time. I hope to be back on track (and organized) after Thanksgiving. Seems I've been on a treadmill ever since the BWG conference. I'll probably literally be on the treadmill after this holiday.

In the meantime, I pray you all enjoy your time with family and friends...that God surrounds you with His hedge of protection as you travel and blesses you with special Thanksgiving memories.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Conference is Over-I can breathe again

First note: A good pair of conference shoes are worth their weight in gold. Yeah, a tacky cliche but so very true.

Our Bayou Writers' Group conference is over. It was great. From my point of view, it went smoothly, we had some wonderful speakers and I connected with some sweet people I used to know and made a lot of new friends. I absolutely love collecting writer friends, encouraging them, and watching them grow and succeed in their careers.

In hindsight, there are a few things we'll definitely be changing for next year. As always, experience is the very best teacher. That applies to writing too. Write, and you will learn how to write.

Here are some pics of our conference.

This is author Randy Denmon. His voice didn't carry and our microphone decided to be contrary, so Randy moved to the center of our group and it worked well. Rumor has it that Randy is our 'most quoted' speaker.

Our Boy's Life editor, Paula Murphey was super. She brought magazines and writers guidelines for everyone. We love personable and easy to talk with editors, and Paula is that and more. Here she is meeting with our friend Ray. Paula is excellent at brain-storming ideas with writers.

My good friend, author Barbara Colley, stepped in for a speaker who had a personal crisis and couldn't make it. Barbara is always professional and well prepared. She should be. She's published over 14 books, is excellent at promotion, and always willing to share information. Barbara even created a hand-out at the last minute. Visit her website here. If you ever need a conference speaker, she has my recommendation. You can also read my interview with Barbara here.

What can I say about David LaBounty, The First Line Literary magazine editor? Actually, I'll try not to go gushy. I have a weakness and an unnatural love for literary magazines. Reading them and submitting to them back in the 70s was my very favorite thing to do. I have billions of rejections. Very little success. David and his family brought back memories of when I traipsed around at writing conferences with my daughter and husband in tow. We always had a good time; we always had interesting family discussions, learned together and shared a lot. The First Line is a great publication and family effort. Check out their website and if one of their first lines grabs you, sit down and whip out that story. There's a lot to be said for spontaneity. Now, because David likes his privacy when it comes to the Internet, I thought I'd treat him to his anonymity but still share with my readers so here he is speaking to our group.Photobucket

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bayou Writers Group Conference is Here!

Yes, conference is here. This weekend. I'm ready. Honestly, I'm ready to look back and say, well done.

What I'm really looking forward to doing is meeting the speakers I've been emailing for several months. I feel especially close to them since I hand-picked them myself. :) I'm sure the closeness is a wonderful figment of my imagination but I consider David, Randy and PJ all mine. Paula from Boy's Life is Angie's editor. I think we have a wonderful line-up. We've worked hard, and I hope everyone will benefit from it.

I'm also very excited about meeting writers who will be driving in from the surrounding area: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and different parts of Texas.

If I stop to think about the 50, 60, almost 70 people attending this conference, hoping to learn something, make that needed connection, my heart leaps because I want so badly for them to get everything they want and need from our small conference. I feel obligated to them and to our speakers. I guess I put a lot of stress on myself for wanting everyone to walk away completely "writerly-satisfied."

This is the first time I've worked on a conference though I've been to many. I've complained about the lack of organization, lousy, unprepared speakers, even the food.

I'll never complain again. I'll say it louder: I'LL NEVER COMPLAIN AGAIN!

I have an enormous amount of respect for anyone who works on a conference committee and tries to guess what other writers want and need. And I have an enormous amount of admiration and respect for anyone who does it more than once. :)

I hope you enjoy our Bayou Writers Group conference. We worked hard--for you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bayou Writers Group Conference Speaker - Editor

I am not a short story writer, but I wanna be. Does that count? I've always dabbled with short stories--and now Flash Fiction--but never been too successful at it. These days it's hard for me to identify good short stories. Seems the rules have changed. Just like they've changed for every thing else. I liked book stores before all the different genres hit. I liked the writing markets before the Internet. I love and miss traditional everything. Yep, I've fallen into that category of old person who says, "Awwwwww, the good old days when a book was a book, a short story was more than slice of life, and a literary magazine was something prestigious." For the first time in my life, I feel like an 'old dog' who can't learn any new tricks. Okay, I'd better tone it down or you might get an inkling of what I really think. :)

I get great joy out of introducing our next Bayou Writers Group Conference speaker: David LaBounty--not to be confused with the poet by the same name.

David LaBounty is editor of the literary magazine The First Line. His plays have appeared on stages across the country. His fiction has been published in various magazines including The Friend Magazine, Zu Zu, Young Salvationist, Hopscotch and Kids’ Highway.
The purpose of The First Line is to jump start the imagination-to help writers break through the block that is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that stem from a common first line; it also provides a forum for discussing favorite first lines in literature. The First Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance for readers to see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.

The First Line is the longest running, fully independent journal of 100 pages or less published in North Texas every three months.
Go to The First Line and take a look. Here is proof that we can all take the same sentence--even the same idea--and write hundreds of different stories. What fun! And The First Line is a great little literary magazine.
Guess what: The 2009 sentences have been posted. Check them out here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bayou Writers Group Conference Speaker - Publicist

I can hardly wait to meet PJ Nunn of BreathThrough Promotions. Publicity--at least, publicity for other people--is one of my very favorite things to do. I love brainstorming ideas on how to get my writer-friends out there. When I was a realtor, I enjoyed this aspect more than the selling and listing. You'd be surprised how similar selling houses is to selling yourself and your manuscripts. Maybe I should hit PJ up for an 'internship' and really learn the ropes. Don't think I haven't thought about it. I hope you'll visit her website and look at her impressive list of clients. Check out her blog too. Promoting ourselves in this business is a must. Get your questions ready.

PJ Nunn's career started out as something else entirely.
With a Masters degree in psychology, she left a job teaching at multiple campuses of the Dallas County Community College District in the mid-1990's to become a freelance writer, but found that a few favors she was doing for friends—writing press releases and setting up book signings—was better suited to her talents and her drives.

In 1998, she founded BreakThrough Promotions, now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work.

Even in such a short period of time, BreakThrough Promotions has become a respected firm, representing many distinguished authors, like Chris Grabenstein, Elaine Viets, Karna Small Bodman, Julia Spencer-Fleming and Denise Hamilton. The client list sometimes reaches 80 at a time, and BTP's staff has been as large as 15 associates.

Nunn says she is most proud of the fact that BTP has grown each year it has been in business, and her fondness for authors means her client list has become something more than that—in a way, PJ Nunn is still helping her friends.

PJ Nunn is the founder and president of BreakThrough Promotions. She lives with her husband and some of their five children near Dallas, TX.

PJ Nunn
BreakThrough Promotions

Check out her blogs:

There's a Dead Guy blog

Criminal Pursuits (put on hold until further notice)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bayou Writers Group Conference Speaker - Editor

I've always had an interest in writing for kids. I collect ideas and tuck them away just like I do pretty candles, coasters and my depression glass. I'll use them someday, I think. I guess it's time to dig out those ideas and 'use them' too. I'm excited that we have Paula Murphey coming to our Bayou Writers Group conference. This will be an excellent opportunity for all of us.

Paula Murphey is senior editor for Boys’ Life magazine, the national publication for the Boy Scouts of America. After graduating with an M.A. in English from the University of Texas at Tyler, Paula first tried her hand at teaching and then writing/editing in the advertising industry before landing in the journalism world.

Boys' Life magazine is a general-interest magazine published monthly in three demographic editions for boys from first grade through high school. Many stories and articles in Boys' Life reflect the program themes of Cub Scouting and program features of Boy Scouting.

The mission of Boys' Life magazine is to entertain and educate America's youth and to open their eyes to the joyous world of reading. This is accomplished through a proven mix of news, nature, sports, history, fiction, science, comics, and Scouting. Check out their website HERE.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bayou Writers Group Conference Speaker - Novelist

Writer/engineer Randy Denmon is a lifelong resident of Monroe, Louisiana. Prior to publication, his first book, The Lawless Frontier, was a finalist of the National Writers Association’s annual novel contest. After being picked up by Kensington, the title was eventually shortlisted for the 2007 Spur for Best Original Paperback Novel. Award winning author Elmer Kelton called The Lawless Frontier an "impressive debut" and National Book Award laureate Tim O'Brien hailed it as "well-written and engrossing."

Randy is a US Army veteran of the Gulf War. He has written two more novels that are presently awaiting publication. One of them tells the story of two Texas Rangers during the Mexican-American War while his third novel deals with a Marine in Central America during the interwar years.

What I find realy interesting is that The Lawless Frontier started out as a collection of short stories that he eventually turned into a novel. I'm excited to meet Randy Denmon and hear his words of wisdom. I think we'll all come away from his presentation feeling encouraged and inspired.

The Bayou Writers' Group one day conference is on November 15TH. Our theme is: Bridge to Publication and we do believe we can be your bridge to publication. For a registration form email me or go to

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Words and Pages = NaNoWriMo

And the race is on! NaNoWriMo, 2008!
I wanted to stay up until midnight last night and start my book. I felt anxious, knowing today would be a busy one, and somewhat stressful. I hated getting a late start with the writing but all went well. My detailed outline paid off. I sat down at six o'clock, and turned out 3,041 words by 9:30. They came so easily I had to wonder why I don't force myself to do this on a daily basis. After all, that's what professional writers do--they write.
Professional writer?
I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a professional writer. One book, numerous articles, even a few poems published, even an agent! and I still don't feel like the professional. What's it gonna take?

Maybe I need to go to the dictionary and read what professional really means.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting Ready for Bayou Writers' Conference

On November 15Th, the Bayou Writers' Group of Lake Charles, Louisiana is holding its annual writers conference. I'm excited about it. This is the first time I've been so involved in pulling together a conference. Lots of work! I have a new respect for anyone who does this more than once.

Our conference coordinator, Beverly, had a firm grip on what she wanted to see accomplished. Angie, Walt, Nona and I were compatible--no squabbles. I've heard horror stories about members of conference committees who competed with each other instead of working together so I went into this thing half dreading it. Anyone who knows me has probably seen my t-shirt: Suspect Everyone. Yep, I really do!

Angie is all business and knowledgeable about the world of writing. She has a fine eye for detail and is great for brainstorming ideas. Nona is a sweetie and she's worked on the conference committee over and over and over again. Yeah, go figure! I believe she's braver than I am.

Walt--our one guy on the committee kept us females grounded. He was the final say when it came to my brochure and booklet design. Thank goodness for his good eye and copying skills. Like Angie, Walt has an eye for detail. Must be a Yankee thing.

Working with this group makes me think I might, might be interested in doing it again. But then, I'm feeling a little mellow today. Conference will be here and gone before we know it. It feels a little like a holiday meal; it takes days to prepare then it's gone in no time.

Visit Angie and Nona at their blogs. Walt and Bev don't have blogs yet, but if I have anything to say about it, they will very soon.

See us work? Oh no, Angie is going to kill me! She hates that messy table. :) We really did work, and we forged friendships that will last a long, long time. I thank God for this new experience and these good writing buddies.

Tomorrow I'll introduce you to our speakers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NaNoWriMo with Me

I'm excited about participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again this year. We start November 1st and write like crazy until the 30Th. Last year I got 100 pages before I had to stop and think about Thanksgiving. I just sat down and started writing. No planning whatsoever. This year I have my entire novel planned out, chapter by chapter. My characters have names and I've done my research. I even have a plotting board so I can try to stay organized. If there's one thing I've learned it's that I'm not real good at cleaning up messy projects.

I enjoy browsing the NaNoWriMo discussion board. Reading how different writers approach their stories is interesting. I guess there's a thousand different ways to approach a novel. It's not too late to sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo. Determine how many words you need to write a day to complete a 50,000 word novel. If I write three pages during the early morning, then hit it again in the late evening for four more pages, I might be able to complete my NaNoWriMo novel this year. That’s my plan. We'll see what happens.

Join me. Sign up right here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quicker than Boo!

Writing is one heck of a rough racket, which means that if you dog it lazy, it will defeat you quicker than boo.
~from Fiction is Folks by Robert Newton Peck

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Thoughts

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully."It's the same thing," he said."
~A. A. Milne

Monday, October 13, 2008

CFBA Introduces Home Another Way by Christa Parrish

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Home Another Way
Bethany House (October 1, 2008)
Christa Parrish


Christa Parrish graduated high school at 16, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theatre and journalism.

A winner of Associated Press awards for her reporting, Christa gave up her career after the birth of her son, Jacob. She continued to write from home, doing pro bono work for the New York Family Policy Council, where her articles appeared in Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. She was also a finalist in World magazine’s WORLDview short story contest, sponsored by WestBow press. She now teaches literature and writing to high school students, is a homeschool mom, and lives with her family in upstate New York, where she is at work on her second novel.


After her mother’s death and her father’s abandonment, tiny infant Sarah Graham was left to be raised by her emotionally distant grandmother. As a child she turned to music for solace and even gained entrance to Juilliard. But her potentially brilliant music career ended with an unplanned pregnancy and the stillborn birth of her child.

In an attempt to escape the past, Sarah, now twenty-seven, is living life hard and fast–and she is flat broke. When her estranged father dies, she travels to the tiny mountain hamlet of Jonah, New York to claim her inheritance. Once there, she learns her father’s will stipulates a six-month stay before she can recieve the money. Fueled by hate and desperation, Sarah settles in for the bitter mountain winter, and as the weeks pass, she finds her life intertwining with the lives of the simple, gracious townsfolk. Can these strangers teach Sarah how to forgive and find peace?

A story of grace, of God’s never-ceasing love and the sometimes flawed, faithful people He uses to bring His purpose to pass.

If you would like to see a video book trailer of Home Another Way, go HERE.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Home Another Way, go HERE

Friday, October 10, 2008

Congratulations New Authors!

Barbour Publishing Awards Three Contracts to Authors at ACFW

Contact: Angie Brillhart
Barbour Publishing

Uhrichsville, OH—Continuing an annual tradition, editors from Barbour Publishing awarded surprise contracts to several unpublished authors at this year’s American Christian Fiction Writers Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Barbour has been doing this since at least 2003, and we are pleased to make dreams come true for unpublished authors,” said Rebecca Germany, fiction editor for Barbour. Contracts were awarded to Annalisa Daughety, Susan Sleeman, and Erica Vetsch.

Annalisa Daughety was awarded a three-book contract for her Walk in the Park series. The first book in this series, Love is a Battlefield, will be released in October 2009. Annalisa was also recognized for this book in the Genesis contest for unpublished authors, winning first place for contemporary romance. Annalisa was an American Studies Major/History Minor at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN. After college, she worked as a park ranger for Shiloh National Military Park. Using her experiences as a park ranger, Annalisa loves to put the settings of her stories in national parks. She now lives in Memphis, TN. Find out more about Annalisa at

Also joining the Barbour family will be Susan Sleeman. Sleeman’s first cozy mystery, Nipped in the Bud, is slated for release in May/June 2009. Long before she knew she would be one of Barbour’s published authors, Susan had been an avid supporter and promoter of Barbour’s new cozy mystery line, Heartsong Presents—MYSTERIES! Sleeman’s enthusiasm for the inspirational mystery and suspense genres is contagious. Check out her popular review site at For a more personal look into the author’s life and works, visit Susan Downs, acquiring editor for the HPM line says, “Susan Sleeman is just the kind of author I’m constantly searching to find. She not only writes a great story, but she also infuses fresh energy and excitement into a perennial reader favorite—the cozy mystery.”

Erica Vetsch was awarded a contract with Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line for her book The Bartered Bride, due to release in the Heartsong Presents book club in November 2009. Erica lives in Rochester, Minnesota, and enjoys her roles as a home-school mom and bookkeeper for the family business, Vetsch Hardwoods, Inc. Visit Erica’s blog at to learn more about her and her current projects. “The Bartered Bride is an engaging, romantic read. I’m excited to work with Erica Vetsch on this book and more in the future for Heartsong Presents,” said JoAnne Simmons, Heartsong Presents editor.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Louisiana Saturday Night with Author Erica Spindler

It is my pleasure to introduce to you, Erica Spindler. Erica and I go back many years to SOLA-RWA, critique groups, pre-publishing. It thrills me to see how much she's accomplished and to watch her become a household name. For me, Erica's books are like eating Pringles: Give me more! Give me more! I hope reading her interview inspires you and motivates you to chase your dreams until you catch them.

1) Tell us a little about yourself and what part of Louisiana you live in.
I’m originally from Rockford, IL. My husband and I moved to New Orleans 25 years ago- we fell in love with the city on our first visit. We still love the area and except for a brief time after Katrina, have never considered moving.

Does living in Louisiana influence your writing?
Absolutely. An author uses details about a place to bring a story’s setting to life for a reader. And what better place than one she loves and knows intimately. It doesn’t hurt that Louisiana is such an interesting place to write about!

2) What do you write and tell us about your path to publication.
I’d planned on being an artist and university art instructor. I studied and planned for that career, had earned a MFA at the University of New Orleans and secured a teaching job at a local university-- then I was bitten by the writing bug.
I came down with a summer cold and had stopped at a local drugstore for cold tablets and tissues. A free category novel was dropped into my shopping bag- a Nora Roberts romance. I’d always been a voracious reader, but had never read a category romance. Well, I read that one and became addicted to them! For the next six months I read as many as I could get my hands on. Sometime during that reading frenzy, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing one.
The moment I did, I knew I had found my true calling. Goodbye paint and brushes, hello pen and keyboard. It took several books and a pocketful of rejections before I was published, but it was worth the wait.
Although I left the romance category behind in favor of suspense, I never abandoned the lessons learned there: ones about character, motivation and relationships. The suspense-filled tales that I write today have their roots in my earlier work.

3) How much do you know about how your books are going to be structured, who the characters are, and what the plot is going to be, before you actually start writing, and how much comes to you during the writing process?
Once I get an idea for a story--with my suspense novels, that idea begins with the villain or crime--I sit down with legal tablets and begin brainstorming. I jot down every idea that comes to mind, sometimes filling two entire tablets. During this process I begin narrowing the ideas to the ones that fit together, excite me, etc . . . Once I feel I have enough of the pieces, I go to my laptop and begin a synopsis. My synopses used to be really long, like 50 pages! Nowadays, I just like to have enough of the characters, plot and setting to get a good start. Sometimes I’m not even certain how it’s going to end!

4) How much do you research? Do you love it,
hate it or look at it as a necessity?
When it comes to research, I’m part bloodhound, part pit bull. I research every part of my novels that I know nothing or little about; it may include police procedure, technical terms, or simply a locale. Authentic details are absolutely essential to creating a story that suspends a reader’s disbelief and totally engages them in the story. I’ve found that nothing can provide that detail as well as a person actually in the field--be the lingo of a psychologist or the day-to-day routine of a homicide detective. Often they steer me to the best sources for further information. For example, in Bone Cold the psychiatrist I consulted with directed me to the best sources on several psychiatric illnesses.

5) If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were a beginning writer, what advice would you offer?
That’s easy: Believe in yourself but never stop learning.

6) Do you have or have you ever had a critique group? What advice do you have for those writers who live and breathe critique groups?
Early in my career, I worked with a couple different critique groups and they were good experiences. I think the keys are trust and respect. You have to have both for it to work.

7) Do you blog? How does blogging/MySpace and websites fit in with your writing and has it helped you market your writing? Can you tell if your website/blog has raised your profile as a writer?
I have a blog, though I only update weekly. Truthfully, I don’t know if it’s helped market my writing, but I do enjoy the opportunity to connect with my readers.

8) How has writing changed for you now that you're a well- known author. .. and in some homes a house-hold name. :)
In some ways it’s harder- more pressure to top my last book, to please my fans, my publisher and myself. But don’t get me wrong- I’m so thankful for my success. To know so many people enjoy my stories is unbelievably satisfying.

9) What piece of writing advice have you been given that you still bring to mind each time you sit down to start a new book?
“Keep your butt in the chair.”

10) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I keep regular business hours, 9-5, Monday thru Friday. Except when I’m on deadline when all semblance of normalcy gets blown to smithereens.

11) What is the last book you read and why did you read it?
I’m currently reading TAN LINES by J.J. Salem. It’s a big, sexy romp-- a la Jackie Collins-- perfect summer reading and nothing like what I write.

12) What professional organizations do you belong to and why? Or how have they benefited you?
In the early days of my career, Romance Writers of America provided writing essentials: networking with other writers, writing tips, and marketing info.
I still belong to RWA, but have recently become involved with International Thriller Writers, an organization dedicated to promoting the thriller genre.

Wrap it up: Tell us what's new on the horizons for you.
I’ve just finished my next novel, BREAKNECK, to be released January 20, 2009. It heralds the return of Detectives Kitt Lundgren and M.C. Riggio, continuing the partnership they formed in COPYCAT.

Also, I’ve started writing and researching my next project, tentatively titled BLOOD WINE, a thriller set in California’s wine country.

I've marked my calendar for BREAKNECK. I hope you have too.

Visit Erica's website HERE.

Go HERE to order her books.
And then . . . go write!

Monday, September 29, 2008

CFBA presents: John 3:16 by Nancy Moser

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing John 3:16 Tyndale House Publishers (September 9, 2008) by Nancy Moser.
I was introduced to Nancy Moser when my daughter read Stranger Beside Me. Daughter kept exclaiming how good the book was but I don't read airplane books so it was easy to resist. When John 3:16 came my way, I grabbed it. I found the title and cover alone intriguing. Scanning the first page, John 3:16 immediately yanked me into the story and wouldn't let go. I had other things on my plate--all I wanted to do was glance, but I was hooked. If you like to get involved with your characters, try this one. Moser does a fantastic job of putting us in the hearts and minds of Roman, Lianne, Velvet and all the others. I sympathize with Roman because his love for his son is so great it's sinful. Something to think about, heh? Moser is an expert at building tension. I care about these characters. I hurt for them. And even though I'm still reading, I already know Moser's characters are going to stay with me for a long, long time.
And what better message is there than John 3:16?


Nancy Moser is the author of three inspirational humor books and eighteen novels, including Solemnly Swear, Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner, and her latest historical, Washington's Lady.

Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters,
symphonies, and choirs. She gives Said So Sister Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included.

Find out more at Nancy and Sister


Five people looking for a reason to keep living are about to find it in the last place they expect... In my usual "big cast" style comes a story of what happens when one man puts his faith on the line and holds up a John 3:16 sign at a sporting event. Roman Paulson's life revolves around his son, Billy, a University of Nebraska football hero with a promising life ahead of him. But when Billy's coach encroaches on Roman's relationship with his son, Roman fears he'll lose Billy forever. Roman isn't the only one whose world turns upside down. He's one of five unsuspecting people whose lives intersect on a bright fall day.

If you would like to read the first chapter of John 3:16, go HERE

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn

I'm reading The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn. The author has an easy style, conversational. I made a mistake when I didn't sit down with a highlighter in hand. There are so many passages I should be marking for easy reference because this is a book I'll return to over and over again. In fact, I'll put this book up there with Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life.

Mark Sanborn makes valid points we should already know about how to glorify God in all we do, and uses scripture to back up his words.

Don't be put off with Sanborn's use of the word performance. After all, this is pretty much a book on leadership for people who are judged by their performance. But think about it: we should all be leaders into the Kingdom of God. Performance. Yep...a lot of people are watching us: Our lives should shine like a light, attracting the right kind of attention. This is another way that our good works--our remarkable performances--can glorify God. See Matthew 5:16.

Here's a summary of The Encore Effect:
Everyone wants to make a difference in the world, but most have no idea how to maximize their impact. In The Encore Effect, best-selling author and leadership expert Mark Sanborn provides the answer. He leads readers in six practices that will move them beyond excellence to distinction and from mundane to memorable. These principles guide readers to draw on their passion and devote themselves to preparation, practice, presentation, polishing, and finally, avoiding pitfalls. When readers follow these principles they will find that people are attracted to them. More importantly, they’ll find that they now have an influence over others that can impact lives for eternity. By following the six principles of The Encore Effect, readers can:
Deliver a remarkable performance in everything they do (for the Glory of God)
Elevate the performance of the people they lead and influence (for the Glory of God)
Extend and deepen the impact they have on others—even for eternity. (And the Glory of God)

About the Author:
Mark Sanborn is the best-selling author of The Fred Factor and You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader. An internationally acclaimed
motivational speaker, Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. Having served as president of two national organizations, he regularly keynotes meetings in the United States and abroad—speaking on leadership, team building, customer service, and mastering change. He and his family live near Denver, Colorado.

Visit his website here and follow the links to his blog. This book is way too good to pass up. I promise...when you read it, you'll feel motivated and ready to perform... for the Glory of God!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Made of Honor - A Fun Romance

We just finished watching Made of Honor. Talk about cute. But what could we find wrong with Patrick Dempsey, heh? Just look at those eyes, that face. I can't remember when I've laughed so hard at a movie. I did find one scene with his dad very offensive. I wondered why he'd even have a heart to heart with his father. Seemed totally out of character to me. Aside from that --a fun little romance.

This guy is definitely hero-material!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance presents Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Faking Grace Multnomah Books (August 19, 2008) by Tamara Leigh


After Tamara Leigh earned a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology, she and her husband decided to start a family, with plans for Tamara to continue in her career once she became a mother.

When the blessing of children proved elusive, Tamara became convicted to find a way to work out of her home in order to raise the children she and her husband longed to have. She turned to writing, at which she had only ever dreamed of being successful, and began attending church. Shortly thereafter, her agent called with news of Bantam Books’ offer of a four-book contract. That same day, Tamara’s pregnancy was confirmed. Within the next year, she gave up her speech pathology career, committed her life to Christ, her first child was born, and her first historical romance novel was released.

As Tamara continued to write for the secular market, publishing three more novels with HarperCollins and Dorchester, she infused her growing Christian beliefs into her writing. But it was not enough, and though her novels earned awards and were national bestsellers, she knew her stories were lacking. After struggling with the certainty that her writing was not honoring God as it should, she made the decision to write books that not only reveal Christianity to non-believers, but serve as an inspiration for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Her inspirational romances are peopled with characters in varying stages of Christian faith, from mature believers to new believers to non-believers on the threshold of awakening.

Tamara Leigh enjoys time with her family, volunteer work, faux painting, and reading. She lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, David, and two sons, Skyler and Maxen.

Two of her latest books are Splitting Harriet and Perfecting Kate.


All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy headline. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break.

A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. Maizy is sure she can fake it with her Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith–a plan of action that includes changing her first name to Grace, buying Jesus-themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing British hottie wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s boss at the newspaper decides that she should investigate–and expose–any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she must decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her Steeple Side colleagues–and Jack–will show her grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Faking Grace, go HERE

“Tamara Leigh takes her experienced romance hand and delights readers with Chick-Lit that sparkles and characters who come alive.” - Kristin Billerbeck, author of The Trophy Wives Club

“A delightful, charming book! Faking Grace has romance, truth, and a dollop of insanity, making Tamara Leigh a permanent addition to my list of favorite authors. Enjoy!”
- Ginger Garrett, author of In the Shadow of Lions and Beauty Secrets of the Bible

“Tamara Leigh does a fabulous job looking at the faults, the love, the hypocrisy, and the grace of Christians in a way that’s entertaining and fun. Maizy Grace is a crazy character I couldn’t help but like. I loved this book and highly recommend it!”
- Camy Tang, author of Sushi for One? and Only Uni

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our Post Office is Delivering Mail - :) Book Review

Our post office didn't deliver mail over the weekend because of Hurricane Ike. You can scroll down to my previous post to see pictures of what we encountered here in Lake Charles. But first... let me tell you about The Road of Lost Innocence, the book I received in today's mail. The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam--just from reading the first chapter--is sort of Ann Frank-ish in that Somaly always wanted to believe the best of people. Haven't had time to read more than those few pages, but I have strong feelings about human trafficking--as I'm sure you do.
And if you don't have any opinion, I hope you'll pick up The Road of Lost Innocence to educate yourself.

About the author and the book:
Born in Cambodia and orphaned at an early age, Somaly Mam, a Buddhist sex trade survivor, grew up never knowing her real name or birthday.

As a teenager, Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution and spent years in the brothels of Cambodia where she witnessed and experienced the full-blown horrors of the human sex trade – rape, torture, and nearly unfathomable abuse. After her eventual escape, she could not forget the young girls (some as young as 5) left behind in the brothels, and so she returned to serve them. Her new book, "The Road of Lost Innocence," is her newest means of advocacy. It tells her personal story, ultimately inviting people of conscious, such as our Christian community, to become involved (or to continue involvement) in this war against an epic evil, a modern battle for "the least of these."
Truly, not only is this book worth reading, it's worth sharing. Buy it HERE.

See Somaly Mam on MSNBC and learn more about her story and what she's doing today.

Safe and Sound in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Ike came through and covered a lot of territory. There was water all around us. See these pictures of our downtown lake area. While winds weren't as bad as I feared, I don't think I'll be staying around for the next one. Our neighbors in the back still have trees left over from Rita and they're pretty tall. We felt vulnerable sitting in our den watching them blow back and forth.

Look! there was even an unwanted visitor in a Sulphur home-about 8 miles from us. Woooooeeeee, glad I didn't look out my back door and see this 10' gal. :-)
We lost power for about six hours. Ate hot dogs twice. That's enough weiners to last me for a couple of years. Hubby agrees. So does daughter.
With water all around us, thankfully, none in our neighborhood. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
We continue to pray for our friends in Beaumont--the Golden Triangle area of Orange and Bridge City, and Houston and Galveston.
If you'd like to help Ike victims, call 1-800-sal-army or go to
Above all, please give your prayers.