Wednesday, October 31, 2007

THE RETURN


After reading The Return, I have to rethink my whole image of sci fi. This is one time I can say I'm glad I branched out and read something a little different. Good storytelling transcends genre--period. In addition to a fast-paced read, the characters became real and I was fascinated by their life on Mars. The subplot was well developed and when I finally figured out what was going on, I had to sit back and say, "Oh, cool!" There was a bit to catch up on after having missed the first two books, but Austin Boyd did a good job weaving in the details. But enough from me, here's the blurb:


IS SEEING BELIEVING?

Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."

While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth.

Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.

From the Back Cover:

With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.

Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.

"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."
--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar


Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.
THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

38 QUESTIONS...

Here's a fun lil' thing I found on Erica's blog. Probably more than you ever in a million years wanted to know about me =)

1.Name one person who made you laugh last night? My two year old who was trying to walk without dropping the binky between her knees.

2. What were you doing at 0800? Making breakfast for the mob.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Booting up the computer.

4. What happened to you in 2006? I'm thinking really hard on this one, and nothing comes to mind. Sad that nothing noteworthy happened! An endless cycle of laundry and diapers, I suppose.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? Use "is" if it's singular, "are" for plural.

6. How many beverages did you have today? Can't count that high. At least 3-4 cups of coffee, 2 glasses of milk, and I'm now guzzling my 3rd Diet Coke. Hmm, water is suspiciously absent from the list.

7. What color is your hairbrush? Brown handle, black bristles

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Coloring books at the Christian bookstore

9. Where were you last night? Home, hanging with the fam

10. What color is your front door? White, except for the shoe marks I haven't wiped off; those are brown.

11. Where do you keep your change? I'm supposed to keep it? I spend it, baby!

12. What’s the weather like today? 60's and clear =)

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? Strawberry cheesecake

14. What excites you? Writing THE END.

15. Do you want to cut your hair? Only my bushy bangs.

16. Are you over the age of 25? No.

17. Do you talk a lot? No

18. Do you watch the O.C.? What's that?

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? Yes, our pastor.

20. Do you make up your own words? Ask my 3 crit buds.

21. Are you a jealous person? No reason to be. I have the most loyal husband in the world.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. Ann

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. Kaye (don't you just love your name this week?)

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? This is sad--an 800 number.

25. What does the last text message you received say? Don't text

26. Do you chew on your straw? I rarely use a straw, but when I do I don't chew.

27. Do you have curly hair? I wish.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? Bed

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? Who thought of this question?! LOL, it would have to be the person who kept talking about my weight and scrutinizing my food choices, then proceeded to ask me my size. Ugh.

30. What was the last thing you ate? Broccoli and cheese soup with crackers.

31. Will you get married in the future? Hmm, I don't think my husband would approve. HAHA. Why would I remarry? See #21.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? I was supposed to see a movie in the past two weeks?

33. Is there anyone you like right now? I like lots of people, starting with my hubby, my kidlets, my family, and of course all my blogging buds.

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? The better question would be, when do I not do dishes? Oh, lol, I guess I don't do them when my teen is home =)

35. Are you currently depressed? HAHA, I must be sleepy because I glanced at this and thought it said "Are you currently dressed?" So, yes I'm dressed, and no I'm not depressed.

36. Did you cry today? Almost--when my computer ate the page I wrote.

37. Why did you answer and post this? Hello? Didn't want to get left out! It's the whole bandwagon situation rearing its ugly head.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey. I'm taking Erica's answer: Does anyone want to play?

Monday, October 29, 2007

I FIXED IT & ANOTHER COOL TOOL...

You all have been so kind, continuing to visit my blog even when it was loading ever-so-slowly and quite possibly freezing your computer. (Now that's friendship!) Well guess what I found: a website that shows exactly how long it takes to load a blog, and which componants are taking the longest. When I tested my blog, it showed me that a webring was stalling out my blog at more than 20 seconds load time.

Click here to test yours.

BUT WAIT, there's more!

How do you know if people on the web are talking about you, or if you're creating an internet buzz? It's called Google Alert. By entering a key phrase (such as your name or title of your book or blog) you can keep track of where the key word/phrase/name is appearing online. Google sends you a daily report. Pretty cool, eh?

Just thought I'd share. What cool tricks do you know???

(P.S. Dear lurking friends, you only have a few days left to vote in the poll on my sidebar!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

ILLUMINATED

What a great first book! This is one that I couldn't put down, I just had to find out what was going to happen. Maybe it's because I'm a mom, and the thought of one of my children being in danger and me not being anywhere close to help just panics me! Or maybe it was the idea of secrets and messages and age-old texts. Either way, this was a fast-paced read, and I'm already looking forward to the sequel. I will say I was surprised not to find a spiritual thread, but had I not had that preconceived idea, I may not have missed it. And don't forget to check out the soundtrack that goes with the book on Matt's site! Anyhoo, here's the official blurb:

IT'S BEEN 500 YEARS IN THE MAKING...PREPARE TO BE ILLUMINATED...

August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine



Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.

One caution: If you are sensitive to violence, this might not be your book. If you're like me, CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IT'S A GOOD THING I'M NOT A TEACHER....

How pitiful is it to fail an 8th grade History quiz? Pretty sad. Thankfully I have a decent IQ, at least according to a quiz I took on Facebook in the wee hours of the morning. The more important question is why do I take so many quizzes? Let's see how you fare. Oh, and don't forget to vote on the sidebar.


You Failed 8th Grade US History

Sorry, you only got 5/8 correct!
Does anyone else out there need a History refresher?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SILENT SOLIDARITY

I'VE NOTICED THAT EVERYBODY THAT IS FOR ABORTION
HAS ALREADY BEEN BORN.

~Ronald Reagan, NY Times, September 1980


I don't usually post controversial topics, but today I must. It's the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, where students across the nation are remaining silent in support of unborn children. My teen and her friends are participating, and I ask for your prayers as they take a stand, and for the young people who will be impacted as a result.


Thanks, friends!


PS. Remember to vote in the poll on the sidebar. Results are anonymous!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I HAVE A DATE!

I received a release date for my book, Table for One! Actually, I have two because first comes the digital release, then the print release. So grab your calendar and a pen, and make a note:

1/11/08 E-book
7/11/08 Print

Because I don't read E-books (hurts my eyes, ouch!) I'm promoting the print date. But that brings me to the poll on my sidebar--how many of you read E-books? Don't forget to vote before you click away from my blog!

As a little reminder, here's my back cover blurb:

Successful stockbroker Lucy Brocklehurst hasn't had a date in four years. In a town where the ratio of single women to men is 7:1, she's determined to wait on God for the perfect mate--as long as it's the hot new youth pastor at her church.

Lucy will do anything to get his attention, including volunteering for the youth group. Through a series of misadventures on the teen outings, Lucy finds herself falling in love with a kindhearted chaperone named Edgar Flowers. But when their relationship grows serious, Lucy discovers the lengths his recently-widowed mother will go to in order to keep them apart. What starts out as harmless interference turns into an all out tug of war, with Edgar as the prize!

Will Lucy crumble under the scrutiny of her would-be mother-in-law? Or can Lucy and Edgar's budding romance survive the schemes of his meddling mom?

EXCERPT:

It's a well-known fact that single women outnumber single men in the Church by a ratio of 3:1, probably 7:1 in my small town. Don't get me wrong, I still would have become a Christian, even if someone had warned me. But I can count the number of dates I've had in the last four years on one hand. Okay, so I don't really need a hand to count to zero, but that's beside the point.

Friday, October 19, 2007

CRIMSON EVE

I'll start with an official, "WOW!" This book reeled me in from the moment I started Chapter 1. Not only is the action edge-of-your-seat (hence the term seatbelt suspense), but each character is full, developed, and round. Even the villian has a strong--and dare I say, understandable--motivation. And here's something even more surprising: the book touched deeply on friendship and community. How Brandilyn managed to weave that into the action still amazes me.

Back cover:

Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”

Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”
TitleTrakk.com

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.”
–a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!”
– one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at gayle.brandilyncollins@gmail.com with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.

ME AGAIN: This is my favorite Brandilyn Collins book. Absolute favorite. If you haven't read this book, WHY NOT? Don't wait. CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IT'S TRUE, I'M A GENIUS!

OK, not really. I had to look up how to spell genius for this post because it looked wrong every time I typed it. The truth is, I'm only 85%, LOL! Actually, I was hoping for more because it would explain a few things. But there you have it.

You Are 85% Tortured Genius

You totally fit the profile of a tortured genius. You're uniquely brilliant - and completely misunderstood.
Not like you really want anyone to understand you anyway. You're pretty happy being an island.


Are you as "tortured" as me?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

She Wrote What?

Tonight on the way to my daughter's choir concert, I heard an interview on NPR with Alice Sebold discussing her new book, The Almost Moon. Though I didn't read her bestseller, The Lovely Bones, several things she said resonated with me as a writer.

The interviewer was discussing with Alice something Graham Greene once said, that a chip of ice has to be in the writer's heart. The conversation evolved into a discussion of writing things you'd prefer not to say in public to get to larger truths about characters. The interviewer asked why Alice is more willing to cause pain in the pages of her books than in public discourse, and Alice responded that it's because she's a writer not a speaker (good answer!)

This got me to wondering what kinds of things I write that I'd never say in person. There are tons of situations/ideas that are in my books that have little or nothing to do with my life. (Especially now that I'm writing a thriller with dead bodies!) But larger truths, emotions, and character issues belong to me. I'm hoping that readers, especially people who know me in real life, will be able to separate the larger ideas I believe in from the things I make up from thin air.

There's a sentence toward the end of the book I'm working on now where the character says something awful. Downright rude. But it's a bad person, and in character for that situation. It fits. But I've debated taking it out because someone out there might think I really think that way and take offense.

Here's my question for you: Do you find yourself writing things you'd never say? Do you worry how it will be received? Do you feel you have to explain yourself? OR, do you avoid all things controversial?

Monday, October 15, 2007

10-20-30

Erica tagged me! The idea on this one is to tell your friends what you were doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago.

Ten years ago I was in retail management, working like a dog. So much, in fact, I really don't remember anything else about that period of time. My oldest daughter was starting kindergarden, and we had recently moved to my hometown where I could work like the aforementioned dog.

Twenty years ago I was a junior in high school, running cross country and marching in the band. But I wasn't a nerd. I wasn't. (Although I did have extremely tall hair that year.) I had my first boyfriend who, ironically, was a dog.

Thirty years ago I was in first grade. That was the year I met my good friend Sharon, whose wonderful family faithfully took me to church every Sunday for years and years and years. The only other thing I remember about that season of life was the orange striped carpet in our living room--it was the 70's, after all.

He he he, now who will my victims be? I have certain friends, who shall remain nameless, who can't play because they are not yet thirty. (Life is so not fair!) I won't double tag the people Erica already tagged. So......

Jennifer at A Spacious Place
Delia at Gatorskunkz and Mudcats
Sabrina at Hijinks from the Heartland
Mary at Home Steeped Hope
Gina at Portrait of a Writer

Friday, October 12, 2007

NOBODY



Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?

Nobody was absolutely riveting from the opening scene to the final page. With compelling characters, a plot that surprised me at every turn, and a subtle, yet profound message that moved me to tears, this book goes straight to the top of my highly recommended list.”
- Deborah Raney, author of Remember to Forget and Within This Circle

“A taut, entertaining novel of mystery, intrigue, and spiritual truth. Creston Mapes delivers a winner in Nobody.”
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of No Legal Grounds and Try Dying

Nobody had me fascinated from the first paragraph and kept the surprises coming to the very end. Somehow, as the pages flew by, it also managed to convey a beautiful picture of faith the size of a mustard seed. From now on I’ll read anything by Creston Mapes the instant it hits the shelves.”
- Athol Dickson, Christy Award—winning author of River Rising and The Cure


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Creston Mapes is a talented storyteller whose first two novels, Dark Star and Full Tilt, made him a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards and the Inspirational Readers Choice awards. Creston has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries, including Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Oracle, Focus on the Family, and In Touch Ministries. Committed to his craft and his family, Creston makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Patty, and their four children.

He's been married for twenty-one years to the girl he first loved way back in fourth grade. They have three lovely girls and a boy in a very close-knit family, spending a lot of time together - watching old classic movies, going on outings, and taking in various school and community events and activities. Creston loves to go for morning walks with his dog, read, paint watercolors, meet friends for coffee and Bible study, watch hockey, take his wife on dates, and spend time in God's Word.

Me here: This book actually had me cringing--in a good way!-- every time the main character, Hudson Ambrose dug himself deeper into a hole. Wow. Loved the premise of the book, and how it made me think at each turning point, "Hmm, what would I have done?" To order the book, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CHECK THIS OUT...

About a month ago I blogged on a teeny tiny word rut that kept cropping up in my work. What I neglected to mention is the other word I used over and over and over: heart. For some reason my heroine's heart was pounding across multiple pages. It had the opposite effect I was shooting for, and instead became dull. The challenge is finding new ways to convey the same experiences or emotions without sounding ridiculous.

Yesterday my friend and I had a cyber conversation about when a gesture or reaction (could apply to anything, actually) is a cliche, and when it is the most economical/least intrusive way to communicate. After all, a writer can try so hard to come up with something cool and original that the reader can see that was the goal and snicker at it, rather than enjoying the story.

My newest challenge is to be original without sounding hokey. Naturally, there's a website for that called The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, and Body Language Cues. It gives insight to numerous gestures, and I think it's going to help me give my writing a face lift...and my crit buds a break from all the references to pounding hearts and adrenaline surges. I can expand my repertoire of movement and have the reader see (visible movement) what's happening, rather than tons of internal reactions. (Especially since my CPs are going to have to read my book ONE. MORE. TIME. Hee hee hee.)

Here are a few examples from the site:

Adam's Apple Jump: an unconscious sign of emotional anxiety, embarrassment, or stress
Clem: (never heard this one before!) involuntary eye movements to the left or right; signals information processing, reflection, or thought. Reflects unvoiced doubt.
Hand Behind Head: may be read as a potential sign of uncertainty, conflict, disagreement, frustration, anger, or disliking.

This is a small sample of the information to be mined. And you all know what a sucker I am for body language. (I only found one post in my archives, but I know there are more!) Hope this is helpful to you too!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

IF ONLY I WERE WRITING SCI-FI...

While watching my babies twirl, run, play, jump, flap their arms, and generally run amok, I had a flash of inspiration. Here's the premise:

In a world where energy sources are being depleted, a brilliant scientist discovers a way to harness the energy of toddlers. Suddenly, children become the most valuable resource on the planet, and it's a struggle of good vs. evil; people who seek to exploit the young vs. people who value children as God's precious ones.

Seriously, my toddlers are an unlimited supply of energy. I'm. Worn. Out. There are days when I feel flattened on the pavement like a grease spot. And by the time they go to bed, my brain is mush. Sticky, gooey, mush. So is it any wonder I only wrote 10 paragraphs yesterday?

Still, I have the best responsibility on the planet--being a mom. Not only to our toddlers but also our teen. A little--okay, a lot--of extra exhaustion is worth it. If only I could find where they plugged into me to sap my strength; the invisible cord that gives turns them into SuperKids. Oops, there I go with the sci-fi again!

Anyone else out there fighting the odds to get a little down time? And more importantly, any takers on the sci-fi?

Monday, October 08, 2007

A WORD ON ONE SHEETS...

It's been two weeks (can you believe it?) since the conference ended, and I'm still going over my notes and figuring out how to apply everything I learned. During one of the late-night chats, agent panelists Chip MacGregor, Steve Laube, and Janet Kobobel Grant allowed participants the opportunity to watch their first reactions to one sheets. My heart thundered in my ears as I waited for my one sheet to appear on the top of the stack--well, it thundered for over an hour because mine was almost last, LOL!

So why am I sharing their insights now? Because I believe the first impressions they noted, in a most sensitive way, are applicable to writing in general, and query letters and one sheets specifically. Therefore, the information is as relevant today as it would have been several weeks before the conference =) While their detailed opinions may have varied, they largely agreed on the big stuff.

*Don't ever say fiction novel--it's redundant
*Watch for long sentences, as the cadence of your words matters
*What makes your novel different from others like it?
*Novels that are clearly agenda-driven are a no-no
*Complete your thoughts and avoid rabbit trails
*Immediately identify your books (genre, length)
*What hook can a marketing person use to sell books?
*Need viable, marketable ideas
*Make one sheet clear, succinct, consistent

The debate over this late night chat on the ACFW loop almost--ALMOST--caused me to back out. I'm so glad I steeled my nerve (bad, bad cliche) and passed my one sheet to the front for the big review. They offered detailed feedback on about 40 sheets, and taught us in a way that can't be replicated on a simple blog post. If there's another opportunity like this, take it and glean everything you can from watching the real-life process.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Trophy Wives Club



This is one of my favorite Kristin Billerbeck books. It's got everything: drama, emotion, and spunk. The main character, Haley Cutler, is rudely awakened to life when her husband leaves her for another woman. She embarks on a journey to reclaim her life, and discovers friendship and faith along the way. Once again, Kristin has stretched the boundaries of Christian chick lit in a sensitive way, while allowing her trademark humor to shine.

FROM THE BACK COVER:

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

But before Haley can even consider another relationship, she must learn to accept her inherent worth, and what it is to be loved for who she is, not what's on the outside.

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.

Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April 17, 2007)

She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (Nov 13, 2007)

Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (Oct 1, 2006)

Pick up your favorite drink, a little something to snack on, and lock the door so you can spend some time getting lost in a fun read. CLICK HERE!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

OH NO, I'M BIG BLACK BOOTS!



You Are Big Black Boots!

You can be best described as: attitude
You've got lots of it - and you love to give it
A guy has to be pretty gusty to hit on you
But if he's your type, you'll warm up... a little



Please, please, please tell me I'm not the only pair of super-ugly boots!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

EDITING, TAKE 3...

Books aren't written--they're rewritten. Including your own.
It's one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the
seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
~Michael Crichton

Guess what I'm about to start? Yes, another draft of my book--this time armed with the tools I picked up at conference. Even after the first day--maybe even the first few hours--of the conference, I realized how much room I have to improve my WIP. Naturally, I want it finished, but patience is having its work in me, and I need to slow down enough to do the story justice.

The process I used on my first two books was 1st draft to get the story down, 2nd to get the characters/plot/structure solidified, 3rd to polish. Now I realize, with a cringe, it's going to take more than my lil' 3 draft method to write the quality book I want to produce. Did you know that Dean Koontz makes at least 40 passes over each page? Forty. FORTY! And from the quote above we know that Michael can go at least seven. Then here's me, "Hey, I want to be done in three drafts."

I know, I know. Let's not compare ourselves or our process, because everyone has their own method that works for them. I believe that. But I also think my lack of patience will do me no credit when it comes to writing. I'm always anxious to get to the next work. Onward and upward! Well maybe it's time to take it down a notch (bad, bad cliche!) and begin to examine every scene, paragraph, and sentence for maximum impact.

And that's where I am today. On the brink of another draft. Pray for me, that the babies take a really, really, really good nap! I'll need the writing time=) How are your WIPs coming?

Monday, October 01, 2007

THE B WORD

Whether you agree with it or not--and believe me, there are a thousand opinions--the word "brand" continues to surface in multiple writing discussions. While in Dallas, I had the opportunity to ask an editor what brand means to her. I learned something new.

*While it isn't genre, it encompasses genre. New authors shouldn't jump genres while trying to build a name and a reader base.

*Brand is retaining the same elements from book to book. Some authors are known for always having a strong voice or animals or children or (fill in the blank) in every story. A reader knows you will always have (x,y,z) every time.

*Brand is a particular feeling readers have when they finish reading your books. They know they will walk away surprised or enlightened or refreshed or creeped out, etc.

There are tons of opinions out there on what brand means (some folks even say it includes how you present yourself in public because YOU are your brand), along with other elements. But this was one editor's take.

I know my stories will always have a smidgen of humor--it's something I can't delete, it's part of me. Still trying to figure out the other elements. What about you? Thoughts?
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