Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learning From Football (Players)

Instead of a picture of a turkey or big platter of dressing, I thought I’d leave you with a thought or two to ponder.  
Meet five of my favorite guys: Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Mike Strahan, Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long. 
Hubby and I come in from church every Sunday, settle back with our veggie burgers and enjoy Fox NFL Sunday. Specifically, these fun five. They seem to genuinely like each other. If any one of these guys left the show, I'd probably quit watching. You can’t imagine how much I love their interaction--their personalities. And how much I learn from them about writing.
A few weeks ago Howie said, “There’s a lot of ways to become a great quarterback.” Of course, when he said quarterback, I heard writer.

There are a lot of ways to become a great writer. There are a lot of ways to become a selling writer. Well, obviously, we have to write but what else?

To quote Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Packers: "We defeat ourselves. We have to go out there hungry."

How hungry are you to be a good writer? A great writer? A selling writer?

Think about it and share your words of wisdom. 
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Visionary by Pamela Thibodeaux

Yikes! I'm running behind schedule with today's post. Today is blog tour day with my friend Pam, author of The Visionary published by Five Star.

Everyone who comments will have their name tossed in a hat to win a copy of The Visionary. And I'm sure Pam wouldn't mind answering questions if you have any.

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Learn more about Pam by reading an interview I did with her back in 2008 HERE and by visiting the following links: 

A visionary is someone who sees into the future Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disturbingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives? Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the power of God's love heals the most wounded of souls.

If The Visionary sounds like a story you can't resist, then head over to Amazon  or Barnes & Noble these links and purchase a copy.

Read more about Pam and The Visionary in the following interview:

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?
Answer:  When I first wrote The Visionary in a 5-subject notebook (where most of my stuff began way back when) I had in mind a sweet romance featuring m/f twins and their love interests. When I first typed the novel, I thought, “this is my light romance!” which was a great relief after some of my other work which dealt with subjects like domestic violence, grief, and betrayal. However, one day I sent off the first 3 chapters to a friend and her response was, “these twins are awful close, you need to be careful.” Of course that made me wonder Why? What happened to them or between them to make them so close (I couldn’t seem to tone down their intense feelings for one another). Then one day I walked out of my office into the living room where my husband sat watching a popular talk show. In a heart-wrenching scene the young man on the show apologized to his sisters because he couldn’t stop the abuse they suffered at the hands of their father. I swear, every drop of blood drained from my body and I began to argue with God…. No! Not that! Anything but that! I can’t write this! I have no experience in this! I’m not qualified as a minister or therapist! God….PLEASE….no. Three days of wavering, three days of arguing, three days of not being able to sit down and write a single word and God finally confronted me with…. “Who are you writing for anyway?” I capitulated and wrote the entire story in 4 months during the busiest time of year for a bookkeeper/tax preparer (Jan - April).

Question: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Answer: The hardest part of writing The Visionary was depicting the gruesome abuse the twins suffered as children and then realistically portraying the healing available through the awesome power of God's love and their struggle for relief from a past too horrendous to live with any longer.

Question: How did you come up with the concept and the setting?
Answer: Characters came first then setting for The Visionary I wanted to do a book around a set of M/F twins, don’t know why, just thought the concept would be interesting and I hadn’t read anything similar so I thought it would be something different. My family history goes back to the early settlers of Lake Charles, and I’d visited the old ‘LeBleu’ homestead so the idea that these twins would be hired to restore/remodel this home back into its previous grandeur and was supposed to be a light-hearted story until the twins revealed to me the horrific abuse they suffered as children. This has been my most difficult—yet most rewarding—books to write.

Question: Is any part of The Visionary factual?
Answer: Yes, the research Taylor uncovers about the LeBleu estate is factual as I actually did the research into the family history myself. However, that homestead no longer exists—the family sold the property to a pipe manufacturing company.

Question: How much research did The Visionary take?
Answer: Other than the research into the LeBleu estate –which I enjoyed immensely—actually very little, after all, the book is set in the area where I grew up so the setting was very easy to incorporate.

Question: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?
Answer: That regardless of where you’ve been or what you’ve done the awesome love of God has the power to heal the most wounded of souls and to forgive the ugliest of sinners.

Question: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
Answer: To what or whom do you credit your success?  
Answer: Many people have a love/hate relationship with their muse. My muse is the Holy Spirit and I accredit every ounce of success to the grace of God because without HIM I seriously doubt I could write a single word, much less stories that bring hope and healing to so many.

Question: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
Answer: Unlike many writers, I'm not strictly disciplined. Sometimes I feel I need to be because I haven't written anything new in quite a while. I've completed a couple WIP's and edited existing projects, but nothing brand new—and how I long to just throw everything out and start fresh LOL! However, when I am actively writing, I write—very little editing, or working on other projects, limited time online, not much networking or blogging, sleep comes only in snatches, meals are scarce and light, and definitely no playing!

Question: When do you feel like it all began to come together for you as a writer—was there a particular moment?
Answer: After years as a closet writer, penning stories in 5-subject notebooks, I'd have to say when I purchased my first, USED word processor and started typing in all those handwritten manuscripts I really began to feel like a writer.

Question: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?
Answer: There is really no one person to whom I can attribute this to, so many have helped me along the way. I’d have to say that my love of reading has influenced me the most. Reading opens doors to the imagination, takes you places you’d never be able to go otherwise and improves your visualization and vocabulary skills. Now, I’m able to implement all those things into my own writing.

Question: What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Answer: The biggest challenge I face is not having my work accepted by the “Christian” publishers. As one reviewer said, “though undeniably Christian, it is never dogmatic or insular; offering faith rather than religion.” (Review of Tempered Dreams by Elizabeth Burton for Blue Iris Journal) My books deal with issues in a way that is unacceptable in the traditional CBA market. Now that is not saying that my books are better than those published through traditional CBA publishers, only different. As I’ve said many times, everything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!

Question: What are a few writing tips you could share with aspiring writers?
Answer: The bible exhorts us to “study and show yourself approved.” Keep studying, keep writing, keep learning, stay open to constructive critique and NEVER GIVE UP! Writing is both gift and talent given to you by God. Don’t hide your gift or bury your talent. Whatever you write, write well. Strive for excellence. Stay teachable, pliable, and flexible. Never believe that you know it all because knowledge is power and the more you know the more valuable you become. Above all share what you learn with others and make someone’s load lighter to bear.

Question: Any marketing tips?
Answer: Marketing is an intricate part of the publishing business and publishers today expect authors to do their fair share. However, marketing/promotion can be overwhelming as the more you learn, the more there is to learn. For every thing you accomplish, there are hundreds more you can do. My motto is: Do something every day and your best then let God do the rest and remember it takes time to build a career.

Question: What is your goal or mission as a writer?
Answer: A committed Christian, I firmly believe in God and His promises. God is very real to me. I believe that people today need and want to hear more of His truths wherever they can glean them and I do my best to encourage readers to develop a personal relationship with Him. The deepest desire of my heart is to glorify God and to get His message of faith, trust, and forgiveness to a hurting world. My hope is that all of my stories will touch the lives of everyone who reads them and - in some way - bring them a truer knowledge of God and urge them into a closer walk with Him.

GREAT interview, Pam! Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading my copy of The Visionary.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

BWG Writing Conference 2011

Our BWG conference is over. I enjoyed it this year because I wasn’t on the conference committee. I didn’t work the door, the book room or anything. I was able to truly listen and not worry about anyone having a good time. There’s joy in being a spectator.

Here’s a little summary from the notes I took. Let me warn you—I’m not a good note-taker. I tend to collect quotes, phrases with a nice rhythm to them, sayings that will look great on  bumper stickers. BTW, the pictures were taken by my friend Sylvia.

D.B. Grady told us, “To write is a sacrifice.” Can’t you visualize that on a bumper sticker? I’m sure David isn’t the first to say it—and we all know it, have lived it, but I wrote it down anyway. David’s advice and encouragement was laced with sardonic humor. He’s come a long way since his Red Planet Noir, a combination crime fiction and science fiction novel, was publishing in 2009 by Brown Street Press. His nonfiction book will be out late next year.
Agent Anita Mumm--actually a literary assistant--was a delight; very approachable, friendly, encouraging, but at the same time, professional. Anyone looking for an excellent speaker about queries and proposals, I encourage you to consider her. She’s the gatekeeper at Nelson Literary Agency. Bad queries and manuscripts do not get passed her. Anita said her agency receives 100 queries a day (minus holidays), 35,000 queries a year. Only 952 sample page sets went to the next round. 85 full manuscripts were requested and six new clients were signed – these are 2010 numbers. Do you see how important it is to hone our query writing skills? Anita told us we have to sell our book in two or three paragraphs within our one-page query letter. Yes, it can be done. “Even War and Peace has a blurb,” she said. She suggested we read the blurbs from the back of books—not new advice, but are we doing it? I am!

Mark Harris has been writing about pop culture for 26 years—since 1985. He said, “No one wants to read a writer that says the same thing all the time. (This hit home to me; sometimes I feel like a record hung on the same spot, playing the same thing over and over and over again.) Mark said we should look for subjects that have the potential to surprise us. He was talking about NF writing but I think we can apply his suggestions to our fiction too.  He really spoke to me when he said, “Your writing should be an extension of your passion for the world.” And “Don’t be afraid to risk being wrong.”

The best way to enjoy a conference: Don’t work it. Let everyone else do the worrying. Sit down, listen, be a sponge then go home and write.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard at a conference? Share!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Bridge to Publication - Bayou Writers' Group - Lake Charles, LA

Tomorrow is our Bayou Writers' Group annual conference. We have an interesting line-up this year. Check it out. You can get more info from our website: .

   D.B. Grady is a Correspondent for The Atlantic co-authoring Secrets: What You Need to Know About What You’re Not Supposed to Know with Marc Ambinder of National Journal (John Wiley & Sons, 2012). His debut novel, Red Planet Noir, won the 2010 Indie Book Award for Science Fiction.

  Mark Harris is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and a columnist for Entertainment Weekly. His first book, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, won the 2009 Theater Library Association Award and a CODES Notable Books Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book and the year’s best nonfiction book by Booklist Magazine.

  Anita Mumm, of Nelson Literary Agency (, is the first reader for all query letters and sample pages that come in through the slush pile. She takes pitches from writers at conferences across the country. Mumm has picked a number of exciting new authors for the company, including Jennifer Shaw Wolf, whose edgy young adult, Tigerseye, will be out in early 2012.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Remember when I told you we’d be moving to Columbus, Mississippi? Didn’t happen and not going to.

2012 will be spent in Oklahoma. Dodging tornados. Hopping over cracks caused by earthquakes. Slipping and sliding on icy roads. I don’t even own a coat because we don’t need them here in SW Louisiana.
The way it looks now, we’ll be relocating sometime in January.  The job will actually be in Yukon, about 17 miles west of Oklahoma City. Don’t know yet where we’ll live.

In case you aren’t familiar with Yukon, it’s the home of Garth Brooks but best of all, one of my favorite old cowboy actors lives there. Remember Dale Robertson, Tales of Wells Fargo? He’s around 88 now. And yes, I will definitely look for him and recognize him. No one had a smile or voice like Dale Robertson. Surely he meets up with a bunch of pals for coffee. 

When we face a relocation like this, I can't focus on anything else. So many unanswered questions. All I know about Oklahoma would be a drop in a thimble. I have a writer friend there—but of course, she lives just far enough away that we won’t be able to have daily meets. We have family in the Tulsa area. That’s more than an hour away.
There are many, many writers, writer groups, and conferences all through Oklahoma so why can’t I get excited about this?  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a new adventure, but I’m past the age for really enjoying new adventures--unless it's coffee with Dale Robertson.

Any of you live in the Yukon-Oklahoma City area?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Flash Fiction Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered my flash fiction contest and signed up as a follower. I recruited three judges and they have spoken. My judges liked the energy and voice in the winning entry as well as the use of dialogue. So the winner is:

 A Halloween Collar by Wayne Zurl
Wayne Zurl is a retired New York police officer who lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara. Wayne has been getting good reviews on his Sam Jenkins mystery series so it isn’t  surprising that he can also whip out a little flash fiction. His latest release, A New Prospect, was named the year’s best mystery at  the 2011 Independent Publisher’s Book Awards. To learn more about Wayne, visit his website HERE.  My friend Sylvia Ney did an interesting interview with Wayne HERE.  And he was a guest blogger for Sylvia HERE.  If you like series characters, check out Wayne’s books on Amazon and make note: they’re print, some are audio and some are digital.

Now, read Wayne’s winning entry:

“I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it,” I said, and smacked the kid on the back of his head.
The ghoul mask fell from his hand to the floor.
“Up yours,” he said.
I grabbed his nose and put my face an inch from his ear. “The next time I hit you, sport, you’ll lose your teeth.”
His eyes strained to look at me. I removed my fingers from his beak.
“I chased you four blocks,” I said, “and ripped my pants going over that fence. I am not a happy policeman. I’ll ask again. Where did you get those fireworks?”
“I forget.”
I smacked him again, this time a little harder.
His hand went defensively to his head. “I’ll have your badge for that, man.”
“I doubt that. Blowing up a mailbox makes you guilty of a felony. Where did you get the
An arrogant smirk crossed his face. “From my father, the chief inspector.”

Wayne will receive a print copy of Southern Writers Magazine. Thanks everyone!