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.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Too Busy to Blog - Here's Everything in a Nutshell

Last Saturday we had our Bayou Writers' Group meeting. Our speaker, Erin Cormier, writes for some of our local magazines. She is also the assistant editor of Sotto Voce, an online literary magazine. Erin gave us a list of no-nos that come across her desk on a regular basis.

1) too much telling and not enough showing; too much exposition
2) pov confusion
3) the use of too many adjectives and adverbs
4) shifts in tone
5) the story is too little to be big
6) grammatical problems--obviously we all have trouble with commas.
7) poor dialogue-we need to know how our characters speak; they don't all sound alike.
8) no new stories - we should look at our stories through different eyes and from different angles.
9) Satisfactory endings need to wrap things up. So often they don't.

These tips apply to our novel writing too. These aren't things we haven't heard before, but they sure are things we can't seem to master.

After our meetings we always adjourn to Picadilly cafeteria to eat and visit more. Seems we just can't get enough of each other. That's a good thing; it makes for a close-knit, happy writers' group.

I got a sweet gift from Janice, my favorite cousin who has finally, finally joined BWG. I just have to share this fun gift with you. I hung it from the door, but that didn't do justice to this precious Elvis apron so I let Mel model it for you. What'cha think? Some of you know that my book, The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes was about an Elvis look-alike. Needless to say, Elvis is still dear to my heart. Yep, I love anything Elvis. Thanks Janice! Too cute, too cool, and so, so thoughtful!

My work week has been busy in spurts. I had interviews on Tuesday, lunch with friends on Wednesday, rewrote chapter 1 of my novel on Thursday, ran to the post office, the cleaners and the grocery store each day, but on Friday around one, I hung out with the rich and famous. Well, maybe 'hung out' isn't quite the right phrase. I went to a press conference and rubbed shoulders with these two guys: Actor Chris Mulkey on the left. I must have had a blank look on my face when I met him because he smiled and told me he worked for Verizon. Was I in shock? :)

The wonderful Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is on the right.

Ahhhhh, the life of a . . . journalist.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

We were on vacation last week and celebrated each other and my birthday. Brian came in from Little Rock, Chaney bounced back and forth from work. Here we are. The bright colors seem appropriate because it was such an exciting, fun week of being together.
Don't we look happy? I love my guys and gal!