Monday, July 30, 2007

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE...


Not.


The faster you can type, the faster you can write. Well, only if you already know what you want to write. If you sit in front of a blinking cursor like I do half the time, then it doesn't really matter how many words per minute you can type, LOL.


At night I read to the clacking of keys--fast clacking. My teen is a speedster when it comes to IMing and leaving comments on people's blogs. In fact I'm totally jealous of her quick fingers. So I wanted to find out exactly how fast I can type. I took a test, and while my accuracy was impressive my WPM, not so much.


54 WPM


Now it's your turn. Let us know how fast your fingers fly.
CONFERENCE COUNTDOWN!

It's almost conference time. Are you as excited as I am? It's my first one and I must be having some level of subconscious anxiety. Last night I dreamed I went to the conference and no one would talk to me, AND it was Saturday and I hadn't even been to a workshop because the rooms were too full. Yes, I'm a dork, I know.

Thankfully I have my great buddies (that's YOU!) to hang out with in Dallas! Did y'all catch the new conference blog? Yes, another blog to keep tabs on, LOL.

So for those of you keeping track, we have 50 days until Dallas! Woot woot!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Writing Meme



Fellow friend and blogger Sabrina Fox tagged me with this super-cool meme that took me down good ol' Memory Lane.


1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?


Hmm, I think I'm writing it now. Every time I've had a desire to write a certain book, I did. Trust me, my ideas don't roll in fast enough for me to have a dream project on the backburner.


2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?


LOL, see Tuesday's post. I'd love to work my way through the pile! But having an entire day to read is fiction in itself.


3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?


My grandmother's portable typewriter. When she told me I could have it, I knew it was my life's mission to be a writer. Then a week later my parents bought me an electric typewriter. Am I giving away my age?


4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?


As we all know from my Speed Reading post, I'm slow. Nowadays I probably read 2 books on a good week. I used to read 4, but now I write more than I read. Oops, I guess the question was books per month...OK, 8.


5. What's your most favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned?


That's easy, my laptop. Love it love it love it.


6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read? (And if you don't read historical fiction--shame on you.)


The height of the Roman empire, ala Mark of the Lion series, by Francine Rivers


7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?


Eighth Moon, by Betty Bao Lord. It's a non-fic about a young girl living in China under Mao. This book impacted me more than anything else I read as a child, and if you have a chance, get it!



Now here's the part we've all been waiting for, the tagging. Because I'd love to read all of your answers, please do the right thing and tag yourself. Then let me know so I can visit :P

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LAST WEEK I WAS ROCKY...

...this week, not so much.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
MY LAST WEEK...



...as a guest blogger at Writer...Interrupted. If you've never visited the incredible blog Gina put together for busy writers, then stop by and get acquainted.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

YET ANOTHER BIG PILE...


New books are one of life's greatest reasons to celebrate. When we went to the bookstore this weekend there was nary a place to park. I had to circle more than once (not easy in a gansta' car like ours) to find a spot. Let's see...Potter mania?


I must confess, I wasn't there to buy Harry Potter like the hordes of excited readers snatching up book 7. But I did find some treasures, like Catch a Rising Star, by Tracey Bateman and True Light, by Terri Blackstock. Funny story--a month ago when I heard True Light was supposed to be out, I grabbed a book off the shelf with Terri's name on it, and only when I got home realized it was Night Light, which I'd already read. I was so excited I bought book 2 in the series twice. Duh!


Here's a picture of my TBR pile (keep in mind, this is not a complete photo, as I'm terribly embarrassed by the amount of books I haven't read that were in my last photo!):




What's in your pile this week?

Monday, July 23, 2007

HOORAY FOR ROCKIN' BLOGGERS!!!





My good blogger buddies Sabrina and Delia both awarded me the Rockin' Girl Blogger award. Yippee! Thanks ladies!

Now I get to pass it on to girl bloggers who've helped and encouraged me in multiple ways. You guessed it, I've chosen my crit buddeies:

Betsy

Erica

Kaye

These three ladies have made a huge impact on me with their patience and commitment. I can't even put into words (how bad is that for a writer?) how deeply I appreciate them.

So thank you!!! You girls rock!

There are two other people I'd like to thank, who support me in amazing ways. My hubby, who does everything from making a way for me to go to the conference to watching the babies when I go write on Saturdays. And my teen, who watches the babies at all sorts of random times so I can pound out a few words.

Support people are huge--I pray you have people in your life who make the positive contributions for you that these wonderful people have for me.

I'm so very blessed to blog with you all!

Friday, July 20, 2007

THOUGHTS ON SETTING...

...Setting explored and used to its fullest
is not only part of character,
it can also be a key to plot.
~Elizabeth George, Write Away

Setting is, by far, my weakest link. As I prepare to dive into my second draft next week, I need to gather my thoughts on setting and work hard not only to take the reader to where the action is, but also to create a particular mood for the story.

The first two books I wrote could have taken place almost anywhere and still been the same story, with a few minor adjustments. Not so with this one, which is set three different places in Alaska: Anchorage, the mountains outside of the city, and the tundra several miles above the Arctic circle. There's no fudging.

In the book Write Away, Elizabeth George recommends actually visiting the place where the story is set--taking notes, pictures, and recording details (sights, smells, moods) to incorporate during the writing. Sadly, this is not possible for me, at this time, although I have visited all the locations of my story several years ago.

Since an immediate visit is not in my future, here's what I have done:

*pulled out tons of photos from my previous visits

*spent hours on Google Earth to get proximities correct--this is a must-have

*watched Man vs. Wild (hey, it helped!)

*studied the Eyewitness Travel Alaska book--by far THE best book to help with setting. It includes plant life, suggested sites, tons of photos, visitor info, and bits of history

*spoke with a relative who lives in Anchorage to get the details of the mall and the airport correct

*studied the weather patterns for the time of year my story takes place for rainfall and temperatures to make clothing choices and events plausible

What kinds of research do you do for setting?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

CRUISING IN FOR A LANDING....

The moment I've been waiting for has finally arrived: the end of my first draft. I started this book back in May (or was it April) and have had so much fun writing a suspense. With scene cards, the whole process flew by, even though I veered away from the cards multiple times. So it's a good news/bad news situation.

The good news is...I get to see how the action plays out--who has the gun, when a certain someone breaks in to help save the day, how the heroine turns the tables on the bad guy, and the reaction of my heroine when she finds out who the mystery woman in the boat is.

The bad news is...I have to start the second draft. My first--or, rough--draft isn't even close to where it needs to be. A new POV is getting slipped in. Several scenes must be added (about 15,000 words worth, to be precise!) Characterization must change to fit the story. It's going to be way more work than the first draft.

How are your WIPs coming along???

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

DROP IN AND KICK OFF YOUR SHOES...

...at Writer...Interrupted. I'm guest blogging today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

HERE'S ME YESTERDAY....




......except for the grungy sweats. And I'm not a boy.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I WANT TO BE FRANCINE RIVERS...

...or at least learn to tell a great story the way she does. I've read all of her novels. She makes topics I don't even particularly enjoy seem like the most interesting thing in the world (ie gardening, in Leota's Garden.) Why? Because she's a storyteller who's mastered her craft.

This weekend we watched The Last Sin Eater. It's been a good 10 years since I've read the book, but WOW. Here's the blurb:

In seeking her own redemption from the one man of whom she is most afraid, 10-year-old Cadi Forbes discovers a secret sin haunting her community of Welsh immigrants in 1850's Appalacia.

The child actors, especially Liana Liberato as Cadi Forbes, were amazing. Some of the special effects were a little on the cheesy side, but I could easily overlook that in favor of getting lost in the 1850 Appalacian Mountains for a few hours.

And are you ready for this? I cried. Yep. Big fat blobs. I won't tell you which scene, in case you haven't watched the movie yet, but I will say that it takes a rare movie to get me going. Hooray for Michael Landon, Jr. for making this movie! I hope many, many more Christian books make it to film. Yes, I secretly (or not-so-secretly) hope that someday one of them is mine, LOL! (I know, I have a long way to go, but a girl can dream, can't she?)

What good movies have you seen lately?

Friday, July 13, 2007

5 DAYS IN A ROW!!!

Yay! This is the first time I've ever blogged 5 days in a row! That's exciting stuff around these parts. I'll bet you want to know the definitions of the new words on yesterday's post (wink wink.) We'll get to that in a minute.

First, I want to congratulate Delia for winning a copy of A Sister's Secret! Enjoy the book. I'll be emailing you for your addy later.

Second, don't forget to read all about Fearless on the post below this one.

And now, here are the definitions from yesterday's words:

AGNOLOTTI: pasta in the form of semicircular cases containing a filling (as of meat, cheese, or vegetables)--although I like Erica's definition that it's pasta you have to prove exists.

CHAEBOL: a family-controlled industrial conglomerate in South Korea.

CRUNK: a style of Southern rap music featuring repetitive chants and rapid dance rhythms--Kaye gets the points on this one!

FLEX-CUFF: a plastic strip that can be fastened as a restraint around a person's wrists or ankles--this is one of the few words I actually knew from all my suspense reading.

GRAY LITERATURE: written material (as a report) that is not published commercially or is not generally accessible--Kaye's definition was pretty dern close, Erica, not so much. Sorry babe.

HARDSCAPE: structures (as fountains, benches, or gazebos) that are incorporated into a landscape.

MICROGREEN: a shoot of a standard salad plant (as celery or arugula)--Erica's definition of pond scum had me rolling.

NOCEBO: a harmless substance that when taken by a patient is associated with harmful effects due to negative expectations or the psychological condition of the patient

TELENOVELA: a soap opera produced in and televised in or from many Latin-American countries

VIEWSHED: the natural environment that is visible from one or more viewing points.

I believe Kaye had the most correct answers, and Erica had me in stitches. Bonus points for both!

Now, how many of these new words can we use today? Thanks for playing!
FEARLESS

Book Two of the Dominion Trilogy:

The world changed after that terrible day when the sky burned, and now every heart is gripped by fear...

Earthquakes, fire, disease, and floods pummel the earth, and its citizens watch in horror.

But in the darkness there is hope -- an anonymous but powerful hero whom the public dubs "Guardian." He is Grant Borrows, one of a chosen few who walk the earth with extraordinary powers. But while Grant enjoys this new life, signs of a dangerous ancient prophecy begin coming true, and those closest to Grant worry he may be hiding a terrible secret.

A search for answers brings Grant and his friends to London, where an extraordinary discovery awaits that will challenge everything they thought they knew. With a deadly new enemy dogging his steps, Grant realizes that the world's only hope may come from unraveling the truth about himself once and for all. But what he comes face-to-face with leaves even this most powerful of men shaken with fear.

Secrets will be revealed.

Friends will make the ultimate sacrifice.

And destiny will not be denied.

The story continues...



Robin Parrish had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist.

In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract.
Born Michael Robin Parrish on October 13, 1975, Robin's earliest writing efforts took place on a plastic, toy typewriter, and resulted in several "books" (most between 10 and 30 pages long) and even a few magazines.

By the age of thirteen, he had begun winning local writing awards and became a regular in his high school's literary magazine. In college, he garnered acclaim from his English professors and fellow students while maturing and honing his skills.

After college, he entered the writing profession through a "side door" -- the Internet. More than ten years he spent writing for various websites, including About.com, CMCentral.com, and his current project Infuze Magazine, which is a unique intersection between art and faith which he also conceived of and created.

One of his more "high concept" ideas for Infuze was to return to his love for storytelling and create a serialized tale that would play out every two weeks, telling a complete, compelling story over the course of nine months. That serialized story eventually came to the attention of several publishers, who saw it as a potential debut novel for Robin Parrish.

In 2005, Bethany House Publishers brought Robin full circle by contracting him for the rights to not only that first book, Relentless -- but two sequels. A trilogy, to unfold in the consecutive summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008. One massive tale -- of which that first, original story would form only the foundational first volume of the three -- spread across three books.

Robin is the Editor in Chief and creator of Infuze Magazine. He and his wife Karen reside in High Point, North Carolina. Karen works for High Point's First Wesleyan Church, where Robin and Karen are members and Small Group leaders.

Click here to get your copy!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A GINORMOUS STEP FORWARD FOR MERRIAM-WEBSTER

I've always loved making up words. I made up my first word when I was a tot--MEW. No, not the sound a kitty makes, but a hybrid of ME and YOU. Much more efficient in my two year old mind than having to say two separate things. I know throwing random words into a WIP is a no-no, but sometimes you just gotta do it. In Honey Do Inc., I used the word GINORMOUS, maybe even more than once.

Merriam-Webster finally caught on. GINORMOUS, along with 99 other words, was officially added to the dictionary.

GINORMOUS
gi-nor-mous
adjective
Extremely large

I just knew if I plugged at it long enough, MW would catch on. LOL, if only! Anyway, let's play a little game. Define one or more of the following words, without looking them up.

agnolotti
chaebol
crunk
flex-cuff
gray literature
hardscape
microgreen
nocebo
telenovela
viewshed

NO cheating, folks. Give us your best shot! Bonus points for the most creative.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'M BLOGGING TODAY...

...over at Writer...Interrupted.

Come join the fun!





P.S. Leave a comment for a chance to win A Sister's Secret on Monday's post.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

UPDATE

I'm not turning this into a exercise/diet/fitness blog. Honest. But this is becoming a huge (no pun intended) issue for me.

Have you ever had one of those workouts where you struggled to find your pace, you could feel your flab jiggle every time you moved, and your shorts bunched up between your legs? That was me earlier. Ugh. The more time I spend at the gym, bored to tears, the more I realize how much exercise and writing have in common. (Not the bored part, writing could never, ever, be boring.)

But here's what they do have in common:

*Nothing happens overnight. Work hard today for a payoff down the road.

*Sometimes it's way more fun to do related activites. Instead of writing, sometimes I read blogs, or write posts, or cruise forums. Instead of exercising, it's more fun to shop for the gear, and watch other people work hard.

* I have very little control over the ultimate outcome. Even if I write, improve, and learn every single day, there is no guarantee of publication. And even if I exercise every day, I may not ever be a Size 2. (Okay, that's a given. I haven't seen a single-digit size since grade school.)

Those are my fitness thoughts for the week. And now, ice cream.


Don't forget to comment on A Sister's Secret below--you'll want to read this book!

Monday, July 09, 2007

71 DAYS!?!?!?!?!

Every time I go to Erica's blog, I panic. She's got a countdown widget to the ACFW conference. T minus 71 days. Eek! So I'd planned to have my suspense novel 100% finished by conference time--gotta love self-imposed deadlines because that's all I've got! I wanted to pitch it as a "completed novel" since that has a better ring than a "work-in-progress that will be done in 3 or 4 months."

Alas, that may or may not happen. I'll keep pounding out the words though, and we'll see what happens.

How are your conference prep plans coming along?

P.S. Leave a comment at the end of A Sister's Secret for a chance to win on Friday! You'll want to read this book.

A Sister's Secret

I love Amish books! This is the first book I've read by Wanda E. Brunstetter, and now I'm anxious for the second in the series (not to mention the fact I need to pick up her previous books!) In addition to experiencing the Amish world, A Sister's Secret is full of suspense that will keep you turning pages way past your bedtime.

LEAVE A COMMENT FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY! The drawing will be on Friday.

Here's the blurb:

Everything is going well for Grace: a loving family, a waitress job, and a wedding on the way. But when Gary Walker comes to her Amish community, Grace's secret threatens to destroy everything she holds dear. Grace is ashamed of her running-around years (rumschpringe), and has kept it hush-hush since returning to join the Amish church.

Gary shows up as a freelance photographer and writer, but he is capable of much more. Not only does he know some of Grace's secret, he is part of it. As a contrast to Gary's evil ways, fiance' Cleon Schrock is filled with all things good. Does Grace have the strength to reveal her secret?

Compounding the situation are the unusual pranks gone too far in hurting the Hostettler family. Is Gary to blame, or is someone upset with Grace's father? Why is it easier to turn the other cheek for strangers than for your own kin?

Wanda E. Brunstetter is a nationally recognized expert on the Amish community. Last autumn her Amish-themed book sales surpassed the million mark, bringing her total of books sold to
1.6 million. She enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish community. Letters from all over the country arrive from her Amish readers, and she's been told her books are passed "from buggy to buggy." Wanda's books have received various honors including the 2006 Retailers Choice Award and Christian Book Distributor's Book of the Week, as well as topping the charts of the Christian Booksellers Association and CDA.

Where did you birth the idea for A Sister's Secret? When? How did it come about?

Sometime ago, I read about some Amish people in Pennsylvania who had suffered a senseless attack, and it made me wonder how they dealt with it, and how it must have made them feel to be unjustly attacked. I decided to use that as a focus for this series and show my readers what true forgiveness is all about.

If your book was turned into a movie, who would play the main characters?

I would pray that whoever was chosen to play the main character would be a person of integrity. Also, it should be someone who respects the Amish way of life.

Which character do you most relate to, and why?

I think there are elements of all my characters that I can relate to on some level. Just like in life, it's not all that difficult to put yourself in someone else's shoes and relate to what they are going through.

What sort of research was involved in writing A Sister's Secret?

I visited Holmes County, Ohio several times before the idea came to me to set a series of books there. I also have spent many hours with Amish friends who live in that area, which helped me understand them better, but also gave me a good understanding of the lay of the land.

Tell us a little more about the series of books that starts with A Sister's Secret. Why did you choose this county for the setting of this series?

I chose Holmes County because my husband and I have visited there several times and we've come to appreciate the beauty of the area, as well as come to know and love many wonderful Amish and English people who live there. I wanted to tell a story of love and forgiveness, and show the reader that despite anything in our past, God forgives and can use us to His glory.

What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from A Sister's Secret?

Secrets from the past can sometimes be painful when the truth is revealed. Harboring resentment toward someone who has wronged you can only bring anguish. True forgiveness brings peace to the soul.

How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near deadlines?

I sometimes have to let everything but my writing go, and with the help of my husband, I'm able to do that whenever necessary.

What's your favorite writer's block trick?

I take a shower. Ideas always seem to flow well under running water.

What book are you reading now?

I'm reading Freedom of the Soul by Tracey Bateman. It's Book 2 in the Penbrook series, and I highly recommend it.

What's your favorite worship song, and why?

"They that Wait Upon the Lord," because I know from past experience that it's sometimes necessary to wait for God's answers, and that His timing is always best.

What do you crave (beverage or food) when you have writer's stress?

A big bowl of fresh strawberries drenched with maple-flavored yogurt.

Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

After spending time with some of our Amish friends recently, I was reminded of the importance of taking time out every day to enjoy all the beauty God has made for us, and to keep my focus on God and my precious family, not the "things" of the world.

Why do you think readers have an interest in the Amish/Mennonite way of life?

In this hectic world we live in, our souls cry out for simplicity. I believe many people are searching for ways to simplify their lives and put their focus on the important things in life, not on material things. Reading about the Amish and Mennonites, who don't put an emphasis on worldly things, helps others to be able to do that, too.

What does the Amish community think about your writings?

The Amish I know personally have told me that they enjoy reading my novels. I've had many Amish people who attended my book signings tell me that they appreciate the way I portray them.

Thank you, Wanda, for visiting with us today. I can't wait to read the next book in Holmes County Series.

LEAVE A COMMENT FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Come Join Me!

I'm blogging today at Write Place, Write Time. Come by for a visit!
ISLAND INFERNO

If you're a fan of action in any way, shape, or form, you must read this book. Not only was the action real, but the setting came alive and literally caught me up in the story. This is one of those reads where you need to lock the door and pretend you aren't home. Turn off the ringer on the phone. Ignore the dishes.

Here's the blurb:

>
TASK FORCE VALOR

EXPLOSIVE ORDINANCE DISPOSAL--THE BOMB SQUAD
As the global war on terror heats up, the U.S. deploys a team of highly trained special operators overseas to locate and neutralize threats, bringing EOD expertise to dangerous missions that have no room for error.

A DEADLY EXPLOSION
A new specialty explosive is on the black market: ITEB looks like water, but when it's exposed to air, the effects are lethal! The United States government is frantic to keep it from our shores. Staff Sergeant Euripides "Rip" Rubio knows how destructive ITEB can be. He has already risked his life to thwart a horrific terrorist plot involving the chemical. Now Task Force Valor heads to Panama, on the trail of an arms dealer who plans to use ITEB to make a killing...literally.

AN ADVENTURE ABROAD
Fernanda Lerida is a University of Florida grad student who jumps at the chance to join a biological expedition to a mysterious former prison island. But the snakes, bugs, and crocodiles are soon the least of her worries as the group stumbles upon something they were not meant to see. To Make matters worse, Fernanda soon finds herself alone and being pursued by an unseen foe.

A RISKY RESCUE
When Rip's path collides with Fernanda's, they find themselves caught in the midst of a brutal turf war. Can they use the chaos to their advantage, or will one false step set the entire island ablaze?

"Island Inferno is a boy-meets-girl story. But in Chuck Holton's world, boy meets girl in the middle of a jungle at 25mph. hanging under a parachute with an assault rifle strapped across his chest. You'd better plan on reading this in one sitting. And once you're done, you'd better give yourself time for your pulse to calm down."----TOM MORRISEY, Author of Deep Blue, and Dark Fathom



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chuck served four years in the Elite 75th Ranger Regiment–the same unit profiled in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Chuck saw combat in Panama in 1989. After leaving active duty, Chuck flew helicopters in the Wisconsin National Guard while attending the University of Wisconsin.

In 2004, after ten years as a stockbroker, Chuck left that profession to pursue full-time writing. At the same time, he began working as the "Adventure Correspondent" for CBN.

He is the author of five books, including A More Elite Soldier, Bulletproof, andAllah's Fire, the first of three books in the Task Force Valor series.

Today, Chuck, Connie, and their five children live on a farm in Appalachia, where Chuck now pursues his varied interests of farming, writing, adventure travel and public speaking, among other things.

Click HERE to get your copy today!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

COME VISIT ME...

Happy 4th of July!

I'm blogging at Writer...Interrupted today. Stop by for a visit.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

THE MOUNTAIN & ONE MONTH OF EXERCISE


I beat my body and make it my slave.
~1 Cor. 9:27

This is my verse of choice when I exercise. Taken out of context? Maybe, but I have to hang onto something! Especially today when I hiked Fat Man's Loop on the mountain. It seriously kicked my butt, even after one full month of exercising at the gym.

Despite going to the athletic club three times a week since the end of May, I haven't lost a pound. Ugh. Still, I torture myself because it affords me the ice cream splurge I can't seem to put an end to. Perhaps I need the above-referenced verse when I pass the freezer?

I took pictures of the mountain--you know, the one that kicked my butt--while hiking and sweating and turning bright red.




Here is the beginning of the trail. The actual loop goes up and around, making it about 2 miles.











There's about 15-20 minutes of hard climb. This picture does not do it justice, unless I'm just a wimp.








And this is the view from about 1/8 the way up the mountain.

I used to do this hike 4-5 times a week. Maybe someday I can work up to that level again, but until then I'm sticking with the gym.

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