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!