Monday, December 28, 2009

Good-bye 2009 -- Hello Tomorrow

This is the time of year I look back and say, "I should have..., I wish I could have..., Why didn't I..."

Looking back on 2009, I actually accomplished more than in 2008. This year I wrote and took pics for The Times of Southwest Louisiana. One of my pictures actually made the cover. I've been able to get needed publicity for deserving artists, writers, and different organizations. Overall, I feel fairly satisfied with this year, though I didn't write a lot of fiction. I've been able to encourage and teach and I absolutely LOVE that--encouraging those who truly have talent and teaching/instructing on a casual level. I've learned a lot about myself.

But what do I want for 2010?

Arghhhh, I hate verbalizing goals, tossing them out there for all to see. That's the kiss of death. I hate--yes, HATE-- commitment, even though I never miss deadlines and will bust butt to meet them. I hesitate to obligate myself for some weird reason, but I've certainly done a lot of that this year. And that's what makes me wonder. . .

If I toss my goals out there for all to see (or at least the 24 of you who follow this pitiful semblance of a blog) will I be more likely to accomplish them?

Let's find out and see what happens.

In 2010 I want more of the same, but also I want to . . .

Rewrite Miranda's Mistake and In the Valley of Broken Dreams. Both novels are completed but I plan to revise/rewrite using Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method--a program I bought and really like. I'll give each revision 6 months.

Do some freelancing--just a little--outside the regional market.

Completely outline the three nonfiction books I've started. No pressure here. I want to just sit down and devote some time to them; give each some serious thought.

For fun, do some beading. I'm always threatening to quit writing and go into jewelry-making. Well...I've taken the first step and joined a beading group.

And last, become a serious blogger. That's where YOU come in. What do I blog about?

I've noticed my favorite blogs are those that are organized with a specific schedule, like my friend Erica's at On The Write Path. That's what I want: ORGANIZATION!

So... give me some inspiration or advice. So far I have Monday Motivation which can be any little motivational tidbit including quotes and on Saturdays I'll revive my Louisiana Saturday Night--interviewing Louisiana authors. I'd like to blog about three or four days a week. I plan to cut back on the blog tours/reviewing except for special friends and books.

Suggestions, anyone? Come on, help me out here!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And the Winners are . . .

Last week I caught a cold, or something, and have been under the very rainy weather for several days. Bummer! I hardy ever get sick. Orange juice has never tasted so good.

In spite of sniffing, sneezing and coughing, popping Sudafed and Advil, I had a few assignments so I've dodged raindrops to make deadlines. This isn't fun. Louisiana weather is weird--hot one day, freezing the next. No wonder everyone is sick! Curling up with a good book is the only way to go during this kind of weather, and that's exactly what my two winners can do:

Congratulations to Sherry Ann Miller and Sherry Dale Rogers. I know they will enjoy Mistletoe and Murder by Florence Case.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Parties, Mistletoe and Murder

Bayou Writers' Group celebrated Christmas this past Saturday. Here are some of our members. We were really surprised when Santa made a surprise appearance. Believe me he looked like the real deal.
Don't we look great? We've just come through a successful conference and now we're looking at a new year. I pray 2010 is our best year yet--for fun, fellowship, writing and marketing our work.

If you ever find yourself heading to Lake Charles, Louisiana, let us know. We'd love to meet you for coffee or have you speak to us.

Now on another note, If you read my blog regularly, you know my writer friend, Florence Case from North Louisiana passed away awhile back. Her last book hit the stands a few weeks ago so I bought three copies: one for myself and two to give away. Some time ago, I interviewed Flo for my weekly Louisiana Saturday Night, interviews with Louisiana authors. I'm sharing Q&A #11 with you because so often, especially at the end of a year when we look back and see how little we've accomplished, we begin to doubt and wonder if we should try beading, photography or some other craft to satisfy our creative itch. Flo's answer is one for us to keep in mind.

11) What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Ask yourself if you're meant to be a writer. Signs? You try to quit, but you keep going back to writing. You keep envisioning scenarios about people and stories. Anything else you do for pleasure or work makes you feel incomplete.
And/or you have a background involving any or all of the following: You always had a book in your hands; you'll stay up really late to read a good story; English was one of your easiest subjects; you like to spin unique tall tales or embellish on things when you tell what you've been up to. You have opinions on lots of stuff and find people fascinating. If you see yourself anywhere in the above, and you have strong skills, you'll need perseverance. Don't worry about if the market is out there. Just keep writing.

To read the full interview with Florence, go HERE. And to read my tribute to this special lady, go HERE.

I couldn't think of a better Christmas give-away than Mistletoe and Murder. Leave a comment if you want your name dropped into Santa's Stocking. He'll be drawing two winners.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Conference Pictures - A Bridge to Publication

Many of you have heard me whining, bragging, complaining, worrying about our Bayou Writers' conference here in Lake Charles. Well. . . it's over. Hard to believe I've been extremely involved with two conferences and there's always something to learn. What you expect to happen probably won't. What you don't expect to happen, of course, will. I thought there would be all kinds of problems this year--not because of any one person, but because of the way we worked. We all had a job to do and we did our jobs, but this year it seemed we worked far more independently than we did last year. Whatever works, I guess.

My husband works construction. I've worked construction too, and I noticed right away that a construction project usually takes on the personality of the project manager. If he's one who likes to party and stay out all night, believe me, the entire project exemplifies that kind of behavior. A more conservative type personality will definitely have less problems.

I should have remembered that and worried less about this year's conference. Our conference coordinator has a quiet, laid-back demeanor and so did our conference. It was a sweet, lady-like conference with no glitches. The only time I truly panicked was when I looked at the schedule, my watch and the back door where food was supposed to be delivered. Shortly after my stomach dropped, the food arrived. :)

We had great speakers, a wonderful conference committee, the Beaumont Barnes & Noble drove over to sell writing books and our book room volunteers were perfect. Author Curt Iles who is also our TV spokesperson handled the sound-system. Now that's where all the pressure was! Curt did a super job. He was cool, calm, collected and very efficient. I have to brag, because I'm so very proud to be president of Bayou Writers' Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana for one more year. We're a great group.

Just look at our pictures. We had fun.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Vampires are Coming! No, the Vampires are here!

As I write this, Twilight fans are going bonkers in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Yikes! There's a very cute Jacob (my daughter's fav) smiling at his screaming fans. Uh oh . . . tears are pooling in eyes and streaming down cheeks. Is this the profile of a girl who needs to sit down with a mom who has read Touched by a Vampire?

Last night, near midnight, a 26-year old friend stood in line for almost two hours to see New Moon, knowing she had to get up for work this morning. And my own 26-year old daughter is driving to a near-by town to see New Moon with a friend--and she can hardly wait. Let me point out that both of these young women are strong Christians. They read across the board--contemporary to classic, and they're avid movie-goers.

When I watch how excited everyone is about the Twilight series, when I see how concerned Christians are, and when I watch the media frenzy, I feel incredibly sad that we've come to this point, that we take our entertainment so seriously, that we're so influenced by it. I know it's not unlike the feelings and emotions my generation experienced when Elvis hit the big screen. What upsets me is that we've reached a point where we really do need to be educated about trends in general, not just vampire trends. So if your kiddo is drawn to vampires, you might want to call on Touched by a Vampire by Beth Felker Jones. This is a thorough Bible Study of sorts.

Faith and Fangs
What do you need to know about vampires? You may think that you don’t need to be educated about the vampire trends in media—especially the Twilight Saga—but your family is being bombarded with messages from books (Twilight, Wuthering Bites) to television (Vampire Diaries, True Blood) to movies (New Moon releases on November 20).
One of the most popular vampire outlets is the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. The second book New Moon is being made into a movie that hits theaters in November, so we want to make sure that you and your family are prepared to make the decision if you’ll go see it, and if you do see it to have thoughtful discussion about some hidden themes it holds.

You can see all the different options where to purchase Touched by a Vampire by clicking HERE.

People around the world are asking the same question, enraptured with Edward and Bella’s forbidden romance in the Twilight Saga, a four-book serial phenomenon written by Stephenie Meyer. The bestsellers tell the story of a regular girl’s relationship with a vampire who has chosen to follow his “good” side. But the Saga isn’t just another fantasy–it’s teaching girls about love, sex, and purpose. With 48 million copies in print and a succession of upcoming blockbuster films, now is the time to ask the important question: Can vampires teach us about God’s plan for love?

Touched by a Vampire is the first book to investigate the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful, and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers, and pop culture enthusiasts. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups.


I confess: My kids grew up watching Salem's Lot, The Shining, and The Birds. We huddled around the TV and we were all scared together. While I'm really not a vampire fan, I couldn't resist seeing what Thirsty is all about. I've read a few Bateman books. Some leave me cold while others are wonderful. In all honesty, I haven't finished Thirsty, but only because my own deadlines have interfered with my reading schedule. I feel confident in saying this: Bateman is a storyteller. You won't be disappointed in her story. Bateman's writing in Thirsty is superior to anything else she's written. I believe she really had a passion for writing this book. I highly recommend Thirsty and suggest that Tracey Bateman is an author to watch.

Thirsty by Tracey Bateman

There's no place like home, they say.
"Hello, I'm Nina Parker…and I'm an alcoholic."
For Nina, it's not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier–and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone–or something–igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like a wildfire.

Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?

As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina's feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfold to its startling, unforgettable end.

You can purchase Thirsty HERE.

These books were provided free for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CFBA presents What The Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy

I didn't receive this book from the publisher soon enough to read it and by the time I did get it, I had moved on to other projects and deadlines. I loaned it to a friend to read until I can find time and here's what she emailed me this evening. This is an honest, from the heart assessment from a lady who knows her books!

"jess, About What the Bayou Saw, author Patti Lacy is GREAT! Julie Lessman is right. Lacy is a "blazing light on the horizon." She won me over at once with her vivid, anything-but-hackneyed phraseology and characterization. Is she on her way to stardom as a writer? I would say YES! In women's fiction, she's one of the best I've read this year, if not the best. I haven't finished reading the book yet, but I hated to put it down." ~Lena

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

What The Bayou Saw
Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)


Patti Lacy


Though Patti's only been writing since 2005, she thinks her latest profession of capturing stories on paper (or computer files) will stick awhile.

The Still, Small Voice encouraged Patti to write after a brave Irish friend shared memories of betrayal and her decision to forgive. In 2008, An Irishwoman’s Tale was published by Kregel Publications. Patti’s second novel, What the Bayou Saw, draws on the memories of two young girls who refused to let segregation, a chain link fence, and a brutal rape come between them.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, My Name is Sheba, has been completed. Patti's WIP, Recapturing Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed.


Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever. Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.

The past can't stay buried forever Rising author Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana.

Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood.

But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally's memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally's story comes to light, the lies she's told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

If you would like to read the first chapter of What The Bayou Saw, go HERE

Take a look at the book trailer:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And The Winner Is . . .

I'm running behind schedule drawing a winner for Erica's book, The Bartered Bride. Our BWG conference is Saturday so every free moment is devoted to fine-tuning something. But today, I wrote names on snippets of paper and my daughter drew . . . NANCY!

Nancy and I have known each other for several years. She's a wonderful writer and amazingly creative. I'm thrilled that she's won Erica's book because Erica is a great writer too, and amazingly creative.

Congrats, Nancy! You will totaly enjoy The Bartered Bride. I guarantee.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Meet Erica Vetsch--A Timid Marketer

Meet my friend, Erica Vetsch. I met Erica at the ACFW conference in Dallas, TX several years ago before she sold her first book, The Bartered Bride. Today I have the privilege of being a part of her blog tour. By frequenting her blogsite, I've watched Erica grow as a writer and a marketer, and because hers is one of my favorite blogs, it seemed only fitting that I invite Erica to share some of her marketing tips.

The Timid Marketer by Erica Vetsch

I am a timid marketer. And yet, authors are supposed to market their books, are encouraged, even in some cases required to market. I find it hard to talk about my books, especially in person, and when I do, it feels so unnatural for me. So, how does a timid marketer, someone who finds it difficult to talk about herself and her works, overcome this timidity, work with her marketing team, and let people know about her books?
I’ve found a few things that I’m comfortable with, and a few things I’m learning to be more comfortable with.

Blogging. I’m a big fan of blogging. I’ve had a blog at for several years now, and I really enjoy it. There are a few things I do to blog effectively.

1. Consistent posts. I post Monday through Friday.
2. A mixture of industry news, new fiction, book reviews, and personal experience. I devote a day each week to something fun called The Friday Five. Five things about me on a specific topic. Examples: Five things you will never hear me say. Or Five things I always carry in my purse. Then I invite folks to share their own Friday Five on that topic.
3. Answering and acknowledging comments. I’m getting better at this one. I’ve found that if I want people to visit and feel welcome, I should respond to their comments.
4. Visiting other blogs and making meaningful comments. I have a list of blogs on my blog page that I visit each day. I have a great network of blog friends that support me faithfully, and I try to return the favor.
5. As a result of making friends via blogs, I’m in the midst of a blog tour hosted by these friends who are helping me spread the word about my new book.

Facebook. I have a Facebook page that I enjoy. It is a great way to connect with people I haven’t seen for a long time. I have my blog linked to post on my Facebook page. I enjoy the networking, the give-and-take with friends, and seeing everyone’s photographs.
• Twitter. This is a new one to me. I’m trying Twitter out at the moment. I’ve got it cross-posted so when I update Twitter, it automatically updates on my Facebook page. I’m following a lot of people, and am daily getting more followers. If you’d like to follow me on twitter, you can find me at user name EricaVetsch
• The ACFW. Through their e-loop, their monthly new release posts, book reviews, and especially through I’m hoping to let people know about my books without seeming pushy.
• Book trailers. I’ve got some book trailers in the works as I write this. Hopefully by the time this blog is posted, they will be finished and up for view on YouTube and on my blog page.
• I’m also working on getting a website up and running.

You’ll notice that all of this marketing takes place via the internet. A good way for a timid marketer to get the word out.

As I become more accustomed to the idea of having published books out in the marketplace, I’m hoping I will become more adept at letting people know about them. I’ve got a line on a few book signings, and hopefully a radio interview in the near future. Those types of marketing scare me rigid, but the book signings would take place with some other authors, so I won’t have to sit at a table all by myself.

There are a couple of things that keep me back from marketing more aggressively:

1. Talking about my novels feels so much like tooting my own horn. I’m much better at promoting other people’s fiction. It feels awkward to even tell people that I’ve got a book coming out, much less what it is about and that I hope they will buy it and like it. In a workshop I took with the amazing Karen Ball and Allen Arnold, they tried to show us how marketing our work was less like making a stump speech and more like hosting a party. Now that was an idea I could get behind. I can host a party. I can hopefully provide an interesting and entertaining time to my guests that will have them talking and inviting their friends to visit.

2. The time. Marketing takes time. Even more than money, and there is a financial investment to aggressive marketing, there is a big time investment. I’m trying to find ways of marketing that will be effective while not sucking up too much of my time. My primary job is to write good stories. Marketing, while necessary, must be secondary to that.

Hopefully, marketing will become easier for me as I do more of it. I’m very thankful for friends like Jess, who have been so enthusiastic about joining in the blog tour, and helping me along the way. I’m so blessed to know her.

If you haven't been to Erica's blog, I can't encourage you enough to check it out. She's an organized blogger--the very best kind. You'll learn more about writing, and come away with some pretty tasty recipes too.

And with Erica's permission, I'm giving away a copy of her debut novel, The Bartered Bride. It's filled with love and laughter, excellent characterization and fine writing. Leave a comment here and your name will be included in the drawing. I know some of my readers can't leave comments so if you'll email me privately, I'll post your comment for you. And please, don't forget to tell us how to reach you in case you win!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shadow Government by Grant Jeffrey and Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur

Years ago I watched Grant Jeffrey interviewed on various TV shows. I thought he had some far-fetched ideas back then. Afterall, no one ever wants to believe they can't trust their own government. Unfortunately, we can't. Much of what Jeffrey has written is true. Oh, it still sounds far-fetched, conspiracy theory in BIG BLACK CAPS, but look at where we've been and where we are now. Hindsight is wonderful, isn't it? But not when it's really too late to do anything about it.

If we didn't believe Psalm 46:1, that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, we'd be hopeless, wouldn't we?

If you enjoy reading about the final events in the history of our world, the end of mankind, then SHADOW GOVERNMENT is a book you'll enjoy.

Shadow Government
Author: Grant Jeffrey

Security cameras, surveillance of private financial transactions, radio frequency spy chips hidden in consumer products, eavesdropping on e-mail correspondence and phone calls, and Internet tracking. No one is protected, and privacy is a thing of the past.
An ultra-secret global elite, functioning as a very real shadow government, controls technology, finance, international law, world trade, political power, and vast military capabilities. These unnamed, unrivaled leaders answer to no earthly authority, and they won’t stop until they control the world.
In Shadow Government, prophecy expert Grant Jeffrey removes the screen that, up to now, has hidden the work of these diabolical agents. Jeffrey reveals the biblical description of Satan’s global conquest and identifies the tools of technology that the Antichrist will use to rule the world.
Readers will have their eyes opened to the real power that is working behind the scenes to destroy America and merge it into the coming global government. Armed with this knowledge, readers will be equipped to face spiritual darkness with the light of prophetic truth.

Author Bio:
Grant R. Jeffrey is the internationally known prophecy researcher, Mideast expert, and author of Countdown to the Apocalypse, The New Temple and the Second Coming, The Next World War, and twenty other best-selling books. He is also the editor of the Prophecy Study Bible. His popular television program, Bible Prophecy Revealed, airs weekly on TBN. Jeffrey earned his master’s and PhD degrees from Louisiana Baptist University. He and his wife, Kaye, live in Toronto.

I'm reading Wisdom Hunter now. The writing is excellent and the story, even better.The very first sentence yanked me in and wouldn't let me go. Ahhhhh, fiction, but there's truth in this fiction.

Book: Wisdom Hunter
Author: Randall Arthur

Pastor Jason Faircloth knows what he believes. His clear faith, in fact, is why he is one of the most prominent pastors in Atlanta. He relies on it to discipline his daughter, his wife, his church. He prays daily that others would come to see God’s ways as he does.
And it is about to cost him everything.
Groping for answers in the face of tragedy, Jason begins a search for the only family he has left: the granddaughter kept hidden from him. Soon he finds himself on an international adventure that will take him straight into the depths of his soul. He is determined not to fail again.
A fast-paced suspense novel rich in spiritual depth, Wisdom Hunter explores what it means to break free of Christian legalism—and discover why grace can mean the difference between life and death.

Author Bio:
Randall Arthur is the bestselling author of Jordan’s Crossing and Brotherhood of Betrayal. He and his wife have served as missionaries to Europe for over thirty years. From 1976 till 1998, he lived in Norway and Germany as a church planter. Since 2000, he has taken numerous missions teams from the United States on trips all over Europe. Arthur is also the founder of the AOK (Acts of Kindness) Bikers’ Fellowship, a group of men who enjoy the sport of motorcycling. He and his family live in Atlanta, Georgia.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Golden Triangle Writers Guild Conference - Recap

I had so much fun at the GTWG conference this past weekend. One major goal in my life has been achieved--being a GTWG conference speaker. There's something about being a part of this particular conference that makes one feel they aren't a fake, they can truly call themselves a writer. I'm very honored to have been part of this writers' reunion.

The Golden Triangle Writers Guild conference was a great success. In a conference this size--with four and five simultaneous speakers, there are always a few glitches, but over all, I have absolutely no complaints. I saw my best pals, Kent Conwell and Rogayle Franklin. Kent has written over 50 books--westerns and mysteries, and Rogayle is a freelancer, novelist and travel writer. She just signed a contract for yet another coffee table book. When I lived in Beaumont, we three (and another friend) met weekly to critique each other. I miss those days.

This is my friend, DJ Resnick. DJ has been over the GTWG since the beginning. He loves it, lives it, breathes it. He's battled hurricanes to keep GTWG alive; this conference proves to many that he's winning.

Here we have the infamous Robert Vaughan.I believe I've been coming to GTWG conferences for as long as Mr. Vaughan has but I've never actually met him. I find him just a tad intimidating. If you get a chance to hear this man speak, grab it. He's brilliant! Check THIS.

Here are speakers from my favorite seminars: Linda George spoke on Strong Writing and Plotting. These two sessions alone were worth the conference fee. Linda is an excellent speaker and her knowledge of good writing surpasses many who have best sellers on the NYT list. Publisher/editor Phillip Martin of Crickhollow Books was another worthwhile session. I heard one multipublished author say his session was the best at the conference. Phil's poetic delivery and soft voice had us holding our breath so we wouldn't miss one word he uttered. Check him out HERE and while you're there, take time to order Linda George's book on plotting. If you're looking for good speakers for your conference, consider Linda and/or Phil. I guarantee them both. Your attendees won't be disappointed.

I came home to company, dirty clothes, writing assignments. No time for post-conference syndrome--that time when I want to--no, NEED to decompress and think about all I learned. One can't come away from a conference without new ideas and goals.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Update - Golden Triangle Writers Conference

I'm sitting in Rao's Bakery in Beaumont, TX -- surfing and eating Jimmy Dean kolaches. Yum!
I'm in Beaumont for the Golden Triangle Writers Conference--one of my favorites from long ago. As far as conferences, this one is 'home' for me. When I discovered GTWG, and began entering their contests, visiting meetings when I could, and attending their conference each year, my ultimate goals were: to get published and reach a point where I would be invited to speak at a GTWG conference. Well, that day has come. I speak today on nonfiction writing. I'll give an update later. As always, I've met some great people and reunited with old friends. It has been fun to see how far we've all come--and to see that we've grown old together: no one has been left behind. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

REJECTED! (hint, hint)

Today I received my Hint Fiction rejection. I wasn’t surprised. Searching out and studying many ‘hint fiction’ examples, I realized mine was probably too . . . wrong. I noticed hint fiction has a vagueness that I couldn’t capture. The only way to describe it might be this way: my submission could be compared to a ‘romance novel’ vs. ‘literary fiction.’ It was fun writing--or trying to write--hint fiction. If you can't grasp the hint fiction concept then visit Robert Swartwood’s site HERE. You can read a few examples. You might want to try your own hint fiction contest within your writers' club. I don’t know when Robert's anthology will be out but reading an entire book of Hint Fiction will be fun--sort of like standing at the greeting card rack in a Hallmark store.

Here are my two submissions to the Hint Fiction contest. Maybe you can give me a hint as to why they don't work.

Mr. Fix-it and The Kindergarten Teacher

She didn't have a headboard in her bedroom. Didn't matter. In high school he'd been elected 'Most Creative Guy.' He grinned. He liked this challenge.

I liked my Mr. Fix-It story. The idea came to me while I watched HGTV. You guessed it, they were creating a headboard. Couple that with Looking for Mr. Goodbar and what kind of story do you get?

View from a Bridge
The cherry Popsicle dripped down her arm and onto the sleeve of her white blouse. He sucked in his breath, pulled the camera closer. Gotcha.

I can't remember where this idea came from but I like the image it brings to my mind. In my mind's eye, I saw a young woman in a park. Weeks later when I reread this submission, I saw that the girl could be mistaken for a child. Made for a creepy read.

I think we could get a number of stories out of these two "hints" and I like the game a lot. Thanks Robert! I hope your anthology is a bestseller!

hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story

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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

CFBA Presents Gone to Green by Judy Pace Christie

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

Gone To Green Abingdon Press (August 2009) by Judy Christie


Judy Pace Christie, after working as a journalist for twenty-five years, left the daily news business to open a consulting firm that works with individuals, businesses, and churches on strategies for meaningful life and work, including goal-setting, living fully, and balancing personal and professional lives. She is the author of Hurry Less, Worry Less; Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmastime; and co-author of Awesome Altars. Judy and her husband live in northwest Louisiana.


Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

While secretly preparing the paper for a sale, Lois begins to realize that God might indeed have a plan for her life and that perhaps the allure of city life and career ambition are not what she wants after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gone To Green, go HERE

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Writer meets Artist

Last night I covered a really interesting art exhibit at the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center, but what made it interesting wasn't the art, but the artist himself. He spoke for an hour, illustrating how he worked and, like most writers, I applied everything he said to my writing. Amazing the similarities between artist and writer. First let me tell you about him: His name is Albino Hinojosa. He was born in Atlanta, Texas in 1943, not far from my home town. That means we have a lot in common--the way we say things, the way we think. When I listened to him speak, I heard East Texas. :-)

Hinojosa was raised by his Cherokee mother and Mexican-American father. Because of his family’s poverty, he didn’t buy his first paintbrush until he was a senior in high school, but he had already been pursuing his interest in art for years, working with an ordinary knife and the pieces of wood he found for himself. He carved intricate wooden guns and toys, not realizing he was actually sculpting. He was offered an art scholarship to Texarkana College. He grew up so poor--that scholarship made everything that followed possible.

Albino Hinojosa was so inspiring, and so encouraging to the many students, art lovers and amateur artists sitting in his audience. He shared all his secrets, and by sharing his secrets he shared his heart. He said, "an artist is always trying to do that master painting, the one that will make him famous, or at least pave the way." So are writers.
He said, "Join a reputable organization and network."
And we writers do, don't we? That's part of it.
He said, "Incorporate passion in what you do."
Yes, that's necessary in writing too. If we don't have passion for what we're writing, it shows, doesn't it?
Hinojosa said he always had the feeling the piece he'd just finished wasn't finished at all--that there was something more it needed, that it was incomplete.
Don't we often feel that way about our stories? That we can add one more chapter, one more character, one more layer of love? That we need to edit or revise one more time.
Hinojosa said that landscapes usually have background, middle ground and foreground.
And so do our books: beginnings, middles and the ending. He also said, "People, you have to get your work out there if you want to rub shoulders with the big guys."
Ain't it the truth?
What spoke to me most was when he said he'd always dreamed of being a portrait painter.
So many of us dream of being novelists, short story writers, famous poets or screenwriters.
It doesn't always happen the way we want it to happen, but that doesn't make us any less a writer.

Albino Hinojosa isn't a portrait painter. He's so much more.

If you are in a position to bring this artist to your town, please do. He's a wonderful, from-the-heart speaker and a fantastic artist. His work is included in a number of museums, including the Masur Museum in Monroe, the Tyler Museum of Fine Art, and the Museum of American Illustration in New York City, and he has had more than 14 one-man shows at various museums and institutions. The Norton in Shreveport, Louisiana is delighted to add its name to that list of host institutions with “Albino R. Hinojosa: An American Realist”. He will be at The Norton from August 11th to September 20th.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bayou Writers' Conference

We're gearing up for our annual Bayou Writers' Group conference in November. Our speakers are Charles McGrew from Brown Street Press; Trent Angers, Acadian House Publishing; crime writer Kathryn Casey and Melanie Rigney, former editor of Writer's Digest. If you want a brochure, I'll mail you one.

Conferences are fun, and necessary for a writer to grow, learn, and make connections. Networking is crucial in this business. I hope everyone plans to attend at least one conference this year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Q&A with Author Preetham Grandhi

When Preetham Grandhi contacted me to ask if I would participate in his blog tour, I checked him out on Amazon. I wanted to read what others thought about his book before I committed. More than 60 people have read and reviewed Circle of Souls, and all of those reviews have been exceptional. His endorsements from Judge Judy, M.J. Rose, Paul Castro, and Linda Fairstein are impressive. This is Preetham Grandhi's first novel and deals with paranormal elements, the brutal murder of a child, predestination and other Indian beliefs and traditions. It began as a self-published book. Because of these wonderful reviews and reader comments, my curiosity got the best of me, so I agreed to participate in Preetham's blog tour; he mailed me an ARC. I'm still reading Circle of Souls. I'm fascinated by this new author's stortytelling abilities as well as his attention to detail so I emailed him to ask a few questions. Please take this opportunity to meet Preetham Grandhi and learn from his honest answers to my questions:

How did you write this book? Did you meticulously plot it out or did you just sit down and start writing? Feel free to elaborate on your writing process.
It was a few months post 9/11, and I was looking at the biographies of the people who had lost their lives. I began to wonder if there was a larger meaning to their lives. All of a sudden, a story flashed into my mind, and I quickly wrote it on a piece of paper. I knew then that I needed to write a story that was larger than life. It needed to communicate the essence that there is a bigger purpose and meaning to our passage on earth. I knew that in order to capture and convey such a message, the book needed to be captivating, interesting, and thrilling. I realized that a story based on the work I do would be the right place to begin. I am a child psychiatrist and had just started a new job. During my fellowship, I worked with children with numerous psychosocial issues and had many life stories to tell. It was at that moment that I decided I could write a book that would capture all these thoughts. That was how A Circle of Souls was born.

What aspect of writing this book was the most difficult for you to grasp/conquer? How did you overcome it?
I think overcoming writers block at crucial moments was the hardest to pass. I had to put it away for weeks before coming back to write. In the end I had to be very patient and had lots of encouragement from my wife.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced in writing and marketing your books?
I had thought writing was hard but marketing is much harder. Thanks to bloggers like you I am getting the word out there.

You give wonderful attention to fine details--do you have to work at that or does it come naturally because you're a doctor? How does your profession play into your writing.
Fictional realism is the term used to describe a story that is based on both fiction and the author’s real life experience. If it was only based on author experience and no fiction then the book would be a memoir. When an author uses his or her own experiences it can make the book feel more real. As an author it is sometimes easier to write content from one’s own experiences. It is best to have a good balance of both fact and fiction. In fact without my profession there would be no book. My interactions with children gives an accurate portrayal of their struggles.

Is this a self-published book? How did you find your publisher and if it is self-published, why did you choose that route instead of a traditional publisher?
When I started writing my first novel in late 2002, I never imagined how challenging and long the process would be. The first task was finishing the first version of the book that took about a year and a half. Then it took me about three more years to go through the next sixteen versions and revisions of the book.

Then finally, I had the finished book at hand only to find the task of finding a literary agent or a publisher even more daunting. I went through many agents who said they were either not interested or would get back to me. When I tried to reach the publisher directly they all said I needed an agent. Now I was in a pickle with a good manuscript on hand and nowhere to go.

Then one day I discovered iUniverse the independent publishing house. So in November 2007 I published the first print of “A Circle of Souls.” I was awarded their publishers choice award for excellence. I found it both a relief but yet frustrating that the book was finally available but was poorly received by book reviewers and had limited distribution to online vendors only.
So in early 2008, I began the search for a traditional publisher to pick up the book again. In July 2008 I was at the Book Expo in LA. I was fortunate to meet Lyle and Bryce from Cedar Fort. They are a wonderful father and son team who have been running a midsized publishing house in Utah. They were kind enough to look at my book and accepted to publish it just the way it was. There were no changes in content but had a brand new fabulous cover.
So in June 2009 “A Circle of Souls” was born again with a new gorgeous cover and renewed life. It came with the perks of a traditional publishing house and a better distribution opportunity.

Book Synopsis:
The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. The town s top detective, perplexed by a complete lack of leads, calls in FBI agent Leia Bines, an expert in cases involving children.

Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist at Newbury s hospital, searches desperately for the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya s parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope.

The situations confronting Leia and Peter converge when Naya begins drawing chilling images of murder after being bombarded by the disturbing images in her dreams. Amazingly, her sketches are the only clues to the crime that has panicked Newbury residents. Against her better judgment, Leia explores the clues in Naya s crude drawings, only to set off an alarming chain of events. In this stunning psychological thriller, innocence gives way to evil, and trust lies forgotten in a web of deceit, fear, and murder.

How can interested readers purchase your book?
It is available at, and in the stores at Borders and Barnes and Noble. Visit my website at for the direct links.

Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed. ~Preetham

Sunday, August 16, 2009

10 Great Reasons to Write

When I took the Memoir Writing class at McNeese a few months ago, this poster was displayed outside our classroom. At first glance you might think it's strictly for nonfiction writers, but look again. We can accomplish all these things in our fiction too. Here are some interesting quotes I've found to go along with the 10 great reasons above:

1)Ideas won’t keep; something must be done about them. ~Alfred North Whitehead

2)If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough ~Albert Einstein

3)Why do you laugh? Change but the name, and the story is told of yourself.
~Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

4)It’s all storytelling, you know. That’s what journalism is all about. ~Tom Brokaw

5)A reader is not supposed to be aware that someone's written the story. He's supposed to be completely immersed, submerged in the environment. ~Jack Vance

6)Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted. ~Jules Renard

7)The pen is the tongue of the mind. ~Miguel de Cervantes

8)We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. ~Anais Nin

9)Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please will you do the job for me. ~C.S. Lewis

10)My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly. ~John D. MacDonald

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BLOG TOUR for The Friends We Keep by Sarah Zacharias Davis

Book Summary:
During a particularly painful time in her life, Sarah Zacharias Davis learned how delightful–and wounding–women can be in friendship. She saw how some friendships end badly, others die slow deaths, and how a chance acquaintance can become that enduring friend you need.

The Friends We Keep is Sarah’s thoughtful account of her own story and the stories of other women about navigating friendship. Her revealing discoveries tackle the questions every woman asks:

• Why do we long so for women friends?
• Do we need friends like we need air or food or water?
• What causes cattiness, competition, and co-dependency in too many friendships?
• Why do some friendships last forever and others only a season?
• How do I foster friendship?
• When is it time to let a friend go, and how do I do so?

With heartfelt, intelligent writing, Sarah explores these questions and more with personal stories, cultural references and history, faith, and grace. In the process, she delivers wisdom for navigating the challenges, mysteries, and delights of friendship: why we need friendships with other women, what it means to be safe in relationship, and how to embrace what a friend has to offer, whether meager or generous.

Author Bios:
Sarah Zacharias Davis is a senior advancement officer at Pepperdine University, having joined the university after working as vice president of marketing and development for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and in strategic marketing for CNN. The daughter of best-selling writer Ravi Zacharias, Davis is the author of the critically-acclaimed Confessions from an Honest Wife and Transparent: Getting Honest About Who We are and Who We Want to Be. She graduated from Covenant College with a degree in education and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Summary for 40 Minute Bible Studies

The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.

Titles Include:

•The Essentials of Effective Prayer •Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost

•Building a Marriage That Really Works •Discovering What the Future Holds

•Forgiveness: Breaking the Power of the Past •Having a Real Relationship with God

•How Do You Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk? •Living a Life of Real Worship

•How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret •Living Victoriously in Difficult Times

•Money & Possessions: The Quest for Contentment •Rising to the Call of Leadership

•How Do You Know God’s Your Father? •Key Principles of Biblical Fasting

•A Man’s Strategy for Conquering Temptation •What Does the Bible Say About Sex?

About the Author:

Kay Arthur, executive vice president and cofounder of Precept Ministries
International has worked with her teaching staff to create the powerful 40-Minute Bible Studies series. Kay is known around the world as a Bible teacher, author, conference speaker, and host of national radio and television programs.