Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to Someone Special

Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart. ~Author Unknown

This cutie is 28 years old today, though technically, being a leap year baby, he's really only seven. :) When Brian came into my life, he awakened my maternal instincts. His hugs and kisses made me want a little one of my own. So, I married his daddy, and we had the perfect little family.
Photobucket Don't we look young?

What fun those years were, and boy, did they go by fast. I thank the Lord for you, Brian. You made my life special.

Chaney and Brian smiling behind their books.


You're all grown up now, but just as precious as that little boy who captured my heart. Happy Birthday! I love you.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Secret Thoughts - Don't Tell

I came across a discussion on best writing advice the other day. One author said we should take ourselves seriously and never apologize or offer a disclaimer for the confidence we have in our writing and the BIG vision we have for it.

I think we often shoot ourselves in the foot when we don't take our writing and our goals seriously. It shows--in the way we respond when a non-writer asks what we're working on, in our interaction with other writers at conferences, and probably in our writing. I know there's a fine line between taking ourselves seriously and arrogance. I've met writers who believe in themselves to the point of alienating editors and agents and other writers. I find their cockiness annoying. Yet often, I get mad at myself because I don't have--and exhibit--their confidence.

I'm filled with uncertainty regarding my own writing and goals, and I know that can cause an editor to look at me suspiciously. I suspect they wonder if I can turn out book after book? I wonder too. I've written four books, published one and have a background in newspaper and magazine writing. I can meet deadlines with no problem. But do I want to? I ask myself if I can promote the way I'd have to if they honored me with a three-book contract. I'm constantly looking inside myself, trying to determine if I believe in myself to that extent? Do I want to put writing and promotion before everything else in my life? Actually, the answer to that question is no, I don't. I want God and family first--always.

I'm an observer. I watch and listen to everything going on around me. I've seen writers relegate family and friends to the back of that publishing bus. They become obsessed with that next contract--will it come? Deadline after deadline pummels them into submission.

Honestly, I don't want that. But I do want to sell another book, and another one, and another one.

The question I have is--how can we produce over and over again without sacrificing those we love. And that includes ourselves?

Is it possible? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A CFBA Review: STUCK IN THE MIDDLE by my friend Ginny

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Stuck in the Middle Revell (February 1, 2008) by Virginia Smith.

I didn't join the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance in time to request a copy of Stuck In The Middle for review, but I had the pleasure of reading a portion of it long ago. Virginia--better known as Ginny--was one of my crit partners for a short time, and I've never read a funnier, from-the-heart writer. Ginny's debut novel, Just As I Am, is one of the finest books I've read and I hope it's on everyone's shelf. Ginny is a natural storyteller and humorist. God has blessed her with an enormous amount of talent . . . and responsiblity. Keep an eye on this author because I predict she's going places. Every story she writes incorporates a beautiful message.

About the Author: Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.

Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!

About the Book: Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.


"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Write Through What Ails You

What gets in the way of your writing?
For me, it's worry. I can't focus if I'm worried about something. When I'm anxious I tend to work on short things. I'm in and out of the writing zone with spurts of creativity and anxiety. I write for a few minutes, block everything from my mind except what I'm writing--almost as if I'm trapped in some madness. When I finally return to reality, I return to worry--a different kind of madness, pace from one end of the house to the other shooting desperate prayers to heaven. Finally I sit and write some more. I suppose it's safe to say my voice is different when I'm tormented by this kind of anxiousness.

What distracts you?
What stands between you and your writing? What do you do about it?
If you've ever been blocked, what caused it? How did you get back on track?
NOTE; I'm not blocked. I'm focused on the short stuff. I'm using writing as an escape from worry. I'm not going to stick my head in an oven. :)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Short Stuff

Home Remedies for the Soul is a paying market.

They're looking for inspirational stories about ordinary people who have overcome obstacles or have made a contribution to life. They request that your story open hearts and remind people why they're here on this earth. Stories should touch the heart and mind of the reader and help them discover values they can use in their own lives.

Stories published in Home Remedies for the Soul should inspire and motivate readers. They should have a strong point of view. They are more likely to publish your story if you are familiar with their message.

Tour their website and read the stories they've accepted. Remember: Home Remedies for the Soul is a paying market.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Short Stuff

Sometimes I need a break from novel writing. How about you? Writing short stuff is good practice and teaches you to make every word count. Got any fun memories of Grandma? Check out the submission guidelines and go for it.

Patchwork Path: Grandma’s Choice Deadline: March 31, 2008. Choice Publishing Group is looking for original stories and essays up to 2000 words about and by grandmothers and the choices they make. Each submission will be reviewed and considered based on creativity, originality, concept, and style. Reading will be continuous and submissions will be considered as they arrive. Not all works will be accepted. There is NO Entry or Reading Fee.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Trying Something New

I've been searching for something new to blog about. Something other than my opinion. Thanks to my friend Erica, I've jumped on the promote Christian fiction bandwagon and will be posting reviews about once a week. If you'd like to do the same, check out the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.

In addition to that, I hope to periodically interview Louisiana authors. Since I live in their very interesting bayou state, I may as well plug one of 'em every couple of weeks, huh?

If you have questions for writers that never seem to get asked, let me know. Maybe we can probe some of those deep, dark secrets about writing out of them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

TAGGED by Christa

The rules are simple.
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
Find page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

The book within reach as I sit here on the sofa is Starting Your Day Right--Devotions for Each Morning of the Year by Joyce Meyer.

These three sentences are a stretch because the devo is so short. The three sentences are:

All of us need to be broken as David was; we need to be totally dependent on God to deliver us from evil. Pray today as David did: "But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God" (Psalm 31:14)

Because I'm sure they're reading some interesting books, I tag:

and because they need to update their blog,
I also tag Sandra Robbins

Okay, ladies. Start tagging. :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gig 'em and Hook 'em

January and February have been filled with judging contest--published and unpublished categories. I think judges learn a lot by delving into the first thirty to fifty pages of an unpubbed manuscript, and just as much by reading published books.

I'm a pretty lenient judge. I tend to offer a lot of suggestions and smiley faces. I also ask a lot of questions or note what I'm thinking when I read a passage--especially if I think it might not be what the author wants me to be thinking. I don't give extremely low scores because I can't stand the thought of discouraging anyone. Truth be known, I come away more discouraged from judging than I do from entering contests.

First chapters are supposed to yank the agent, editor, reader into the story and keep them there. During these two months, I haven't read any published books that have yanked me in and kept me there. I wonder why? Is it me? I called a writer friend who has some fourteen books on the stands. She's judging too. It's not just me. She's wondering where the hooks are? Why aren't those first few pages keeping her attention.

So... if I had one wish today, I'd wish to meet the agents and editors of those published books. I'd like to sit across from them, sip a white-chocolate mocha and have them explain why they bought such-in-such book, what it was that jerked them into the story and kept them there? Why they kept reading.

Anyone want to grant my wish?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Last Minute Decision Pays Off

Back in my younger days, I was a real contest junkie. I mean all contests. I'd send my name and ten soup labels in hopes of winning a truck load of firewood for the winter--okay, slight exaggeration. But I really did enter those kinds of contests. . . for awhile.

In December, I felt drawn to the North Texaas RWA Great Expectations contest. I waited until the deadline had passed, sort of regretted not entering then learned that the deadline had been extended.

I entered

Four reasons I was drawn to this contest is:

1) I could submit my 30 pages via email
2) I could write a query telling a little about myself and my book (no names allowed)
3) I would have a chance to revamp my submission if I made the finals.
4) Melissa Endlich of Love Inspired judges the finalists.

And I placed.

For the past few months, I've been praying about putting my fiction aside and concentrating on nonfiction. I have more NF publishing credits and I can whip out articles and essays a heck of a lot faster than I can a novel. I wonder if this is God's little nudge of encouragement, telling me to hang in there. I don't know.

Here are the finalists. Take a look at this contest for next year. It's a good one.

North Texas RWA congratulates the following finalists of the 2008 Great Expectations contest. We wish everyone the best of luck in the final round.

~~ Contemporary SERIES Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Megan Long, Editorial Assistant, Superromance, Harlequin Books

The Goblin's Trick by Ella Drake

Diner Girl by Mary Duncanson

The Cleopatra Secret by Greta MacEachern

The Nanny's Secret by Ami Weaver

~~ EROTIC ROMANCE Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher and Senior Editor, Ellora’s Cave

Wings of Desire by Cynthia Arends

Running From the Past by Katie Reus

Eternally Three: Perfection by Lee Swift


FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Tessa Woodward, Editorial Assistant, Avon Books

Midnight Promises by Anne Barton Ardizzone

The Duchess Competition by Vicky Dreiling

The Making of Jenny Keeble by Courtney Milan

Passionate Persuasions by Jennifer Ziros

~~ INSPIRATIONAL Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Melissa Endlich, Harlequin Books

Sarah's Rainbow by Margaret Brownley

Miranda's Mistake by Jessica R. Ferguson \o/

Sourdough Creek by Caroline Fyffe

New Hope by Yvonne Harris

~~ MANSTREAM with romantic elements Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Liza Schwartz, Editorial Assistant, NAL

Kingdom On Fire by Yvonne Harris

All For One by Chris Keniston

Heart Wishes by Edie Ramer

Twisted Snare Of Fate by Gracie Stanners

~~ Romantic Suspense Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Allison Brandau, Editorial Assistant, Berkley/Jove

Lying Eyes by Amy Atwell

The Chameleon Effect by Tina Butts

The Surrogate by Tina Butts

See Jane Run by Angela Platt

~~ Single Title Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Alex Logan, Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing

Saints And Sinners by Catherine Chant

The Cost of Love by Vannetta Chapman

The Weight of Love by Vannetta Chapman

Once Upon A Margarita by Heidi Luchterhand


Fantasy, Futuristic, Paranormal & Time Travel ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Chris Keeslar, Senior Editor, Dorchester/Leisure

Love Bites...Literally by Michelle Lauren

The Night Caller by Laura Martello

The Slayer's Circle by Michelle Odell

To Tame His Heart by Lori Sowell

~~ YOUNG ADULT Category ~~

FINAL ROUND EDITOR: Karen Chaplin, Associate Editor, Puffin/Speak Books

Super Chick by Kimberly Duffy

Fear of Falling by Amber Royer

The Art Of Selling My Sister by Shana Silver

Megan Delaney, Psychic Misfit by Bonnie Staring

Saturday, February 9, 2008

We All Need Mending

Listen to this beautiful essay, We All Need Mending by Susan Cooke Kittredge.

Do you have a story that can touch someone's life the way Kittredge's does?

Some of you may remember how your parents or grandparents gathered at their radios to hear essays by Helen Keller, Harry Truman, and others. Now you have an opportunity to share the essence of your day-to-day philosophy and shaping of your beliefs. In 300-500 words touch our lives. See guidelines here.
Payment is $200.

Jay Allison and Dan Gediman united in hopes that in sharing one's story, others will come to respect a view different than their own. They've done a fantastic job. Explore their website and feel something. This I Believe is based on the 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow.