Q&A with Rick Acker, author of Blood Brothers
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Q&A with Rick Acker, author of Blood Brothers
At least I am in Blogland =P
You Are Most Like Liv Tyler
“I don't want to spend so much time obsessing about myself.”
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Many thanks to those of you who have made the Table for One tour a success. Today is the last stop on the tour. Make sure to click over and wave to Sally Bradley! In case you missed any of the posts, here's a recap of the tour:
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE THIS TOUR A SUCCESS!!!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
A few weeks ago at baby gymnastics, one of the other mothers and I were talking about how terrible we are at remembering simple things like names during an introduction. Let's not even ask how many times I had to learn her name, and the names of all the kids in my daughter's class. True confession: I'm also terrible with faces.
On my quest to learn new and interesting things, I've decided to check out how to improve my memory, both short-term and long-term. While I had a few minutes, I took an online quiz (and we all know how much I love those) to see how my short-term memory stacks up without any tricks.
NUMBERS: 12--I was able to remember a 12 digit number. The quiz starts with a 3 digit number and works up from there. When I got to 13 I bombed.
LETTERS: 6--evidently I'm more skilled with numbers. Getting to 6 was pure luck.
WORDS: 13--This one was the most fun for me, but I think I'd have done better had I known how it would work. They show you a list of words and give you 90 seconds to memorize as many as possible. I thought they'd show me random words and I'd pick out the ones I remembered from a list. Not so, I had to type in as many as I could remember.
I'm going to share what I learn about memory every now and then, just because I like you ((wink, wink.)) For now, CLICK OVER and take the 3 short quizzes and come back and give us a report. Let the fun begin!
Monday, July 28, 2008
When summer began, I had a specific list of things I wanted to accomplish. With only two weeks left before school starts, it's time to evaluate and see what's what.
- Finish the book. While I'd love to say I typed THE END, I'm not there yet. With some hard work and 2000 words a day pounded out, I can finish the 2nd major draft by the time conference rolls around.
- Launch Table for One. Woo hoo! Yes, it's off the ground. In fact, today TFO is #3 on the inspirational bestseller list on The Wild Rose Press site. Plus, my blogging friends have helped spread the word!!!
- Lose 15 pounds. I was so ambitious when I came up with that number. I've officially lost 5 pounds. Only 5. Of course it's better than gaining, but still....
- Help oldest daughter get in shape for cross country. She's in much better shape than me, and I'm confident she'll do great when she starts hitting the trail in 2 weeks.
While it's not all that I'd hoped for, I'm sure it's more than I would have accomplished had I not made these goals. No excuses. I'm here to say that I can always do better, but I'm happy to have some parts of my list checked.
How about you? How are you coming on your summer goals/pre-conference goals?
Friday, July 25, 2008
...from Erica for today's post. On Friday's she does a FRIDAY 5, and makes a list. So today I'm making my own list that stems from an experience earlier this week.
THE TOP 5 REASONS I LOATHE SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES:
1. Too many items are designed to show cleavage, either top or bottom (eww!)
2. Loooong lines at the checkout counter.
3. People who cut in loooong lines at the checkout counter.
4. No matter how many miles I run, I stay the same size year-to-year.
5. Using public restrooms that are so...well, public (eww!)
This ties in with a question that Eileen asked me in an interview she's featuring today! Also, she's giving away a copy of Table for One!!!
My question to you today is: clothes shopping, love it or hate it?
Thursday, July 24, 2008
You Are a Ham Sandwich
You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.
Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.
And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.
Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich
Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
...I'm addicted to numbers. I find myself checking numbers way more often than I should, and now that I've noticed, it's slightly embarrassing! Consider these:
- Word Count Button: whenever I'm writing, I click on this button every time I write a big ol' honking paragraph. Why? Because I need to get to at least 1000 words before I can think about stopping. I'd probably get there faster if I could stop clicking this button.
- Post counts on the ACFW forum: Now this is ridiculous, but I so wanted to pass 1000, and my next goal is to beat Kaye!
- Statcounter: this goes without saying. I'm SURE you all understand this one!
- Technorati: blog rank and authority. I don't check this daily--only when I'm procrastinating.
And here's the new one, and it's highly addicting:
- Amazon sales rank. Yep, this changes literally hour to hour, so you know I must check this because the world hangs in the balance on where Table for One stands in the rank. I was silly excited the other day when it hit approximately 50,500. Yes, I know that's still high, but it was closer to #1 than I've ever been!
Okay folks, tell me I'm not nuts. What numbers do you check daily? Fess up!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The only time I'd seen those words before last week was on the list of items to include on a book proposal. The few times I've written proposals, this question stumped me because when I sit down to write it's only with the story in mind, not a reader response. Take-away value, for those who might not know, is what you want the reader to come away with after reading your book.
Here's an example: one of my favorite authors is Jodi Picoult, and I walk away from her stories thinking about how some situations are so multi-faceted that there's no black and white, only multiple shades of gray. I have no clue if that's what she intends for her readers to "get," but that's what I take from her books every time.
Over the last week or so I've done a few interviews. The take-away question is one that has recurred in different forms. I love that this thought gives me pause and makes me really contemplate the meat in my writing. Even in comedy, there has to be some kind of substance in order for the story to resonate with readers.
I'll let you browse the interviews to see how I answered the question for my own book, but for now I'll put the question to you:
*What do you hope readers take away after reading your stories?
Monday, July 21, 2008
This is my first James Scott Bell book, but you can be sure I'm reading the rest of them. His style is unique--very clipped and to the point, yet he uses such colorful language that you totally see the picture and feel the emotion. The pacing in Try Darkness should be a lesson to us all. Oh, and come back and tell me if you're pulling your hair out over the last line like I am.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JAMES SCOTT BELL is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He has also been the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.
The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles. His first Buchanan thriller, TRY DYING, was released to high critical praise, while sis book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica’s, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancée and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the underrepresented from his “office” at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. With his new friends, the philosophizing Father Bob and basketball-playing Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan has found a new family of sorts.
One of his first clients is a mysterious woman who arrives with her six-year-old daughter. They are being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest that Ty soon discovers is represented by his old law firm and his former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won’t back down. He’s going to fight for the woman’s rights.
But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.
The trail leads Buchanan through the sordid underbelly of the city and to the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. No one is anxious to talk.
But somebody wants Buchanan to shut up. For good.
Now he must use every legal and physical edge he knows to keep himself and the girl alive.
Once again evoking the neo-noir setting of contemporary Los Angeles, Bell delivers another thriller where darkness falls and the suspense never rests.
If you would like to read chapters 1 & 2, go HERE
“Bell has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist, and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists.”
“Engaging whodunit series kickoff . . . Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development.”
“James Scott Bell has written himself into a niche that traditionally has been reserved for the likes of Raymond Chandler.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A master of suspense.”
“One of the best writers out there, bar none.”
—In the Library Review
Friday, July 18, 2008
And the winner of Sisterchicks Go Brit! is...........
Oh, and friends, remember to stop by and visit the nice bloggers who featured Table for One this week:
Thursday, July 17, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. Writing had always been a hobby, a way for me to express my innermost thoughts and feelings in a way I sometimes find difficult with the spoken word -- although my friends will tell you 'shy' is not in my vocabulary. Thanks to the gentle nudging of a fellow author -- Tracie Peterson -- in 2002, I took the next step in my writing career and joined the American Christian Fiction Writers. I owe all so many there a hearty hug of appreciation for their constant encouragement and unselfish assistance. I feel a lot more confident thanks to their support and love. For those of you who are also fiction writers looking for a wonderful support group, check them out!
I got involved with web design in 1997, when I was asked to take over running the official web site for the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That eventually led to a series of negotiations where I was offered the job of running world-renowned actress Jane Seymour's official fan site. That has branched into doing web sites for a variety of clients, including: authors J.M. Hochstetler, Trish Perry, Kathy Pride, Louise M. Gouge, Susan Page Davis, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson, actor William Shockley (the voice of AT&T and Sony) and many others. With the help of a handful of other web site "technos," Eagle Designs was born! Feel free to visit and see our other clients.
Books are a definite passion. Why else would I be writing and publishing them? I firmly believe that a good book can take you away from all of your problems, into a world you've never seen. My favorite food is Italian; I sing all the time, and I once worked with my church choir to do a professional recording for a music CD of our performances.
I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, and live in beautiful Colorado, but I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher nestled in the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Raelene Strattford knows God has promised never to leave or forsake her. But after the catastrophic deaths of her parents, she doesn t believe it. What kind of God would take a girl's family and leave her alone in a wild land where women have no voice? Gustaf Hanssen has admired Raelene from afar for a while, but his poor attempt at courting her in the past has made him unwelcome in her life. When Gustaf promises Raelene's dying father that he will take care of her, he finds himself bound to her happiness, her success, and her well-being in ways he never imagined. To keep his word must Gustaf really oversee all of Raelene's affairs, find her a husband, and maintain her farm, while she does nothing but scorn him? Can God reach through Raelene's pain and self-centeredness and give her the love that awaits, if only she will accept His will?
If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE
At this time,
Promises, Promises can only be purchased through the
Heartsong Book Club.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
It's been a long time since a good meme has come along. Kaye started this one the other day.
What’s the last thing you wrote?
Besides this blog post? It'd have to be my current WIP, which has no title. It's about an uptight business woman who falls for a former Olympic hopeful-turned-drifter.
What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
All of my early writings no longer exist. You see, when I rededicated my life to Christ, I threw away everything from my past because I believed I was a completely new creation. That said, the first thing I wrote that's in existence is the AWFUL story I wrote for NANOWRIMO 3.5 years ago. It. Was. Bad.
Favorite genre of writing?
Most fun character you ever wrote?
I really enjoyed writing Molly Beane of Honey Do Inc. The woman was trouble on feet.
Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Mrs. Flowers in Table for One. The woman needs to let go and quit harrassing my heroine!
Best plot you ever wrote?
Even though I've officially hung up my suspense hat, I really loved the plot of Shadows of Alaska.
Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?
The end of Shadows of Alaska when the villian was revealed. I loved finally showing which of the two men involved in the heroine's quest was not who he seemed.
How often do you get writers block?
Very rarely. Mostly I suffer from lack of time, rather than lack of momentum.
How do you fix it?
When I do have writers block (like I did three weeks ago) it's usually because I've resolved the conflict too soon. In this case, I had to go back and chart out my scenes to pinpoint the problem. Once I figured out that resolving one issue deflated the main conflict, I readjusted the plot and charted out the book to the end. Now that I know where I'm going each day I shouldn't have a problem. You see, I wanted to be a pantser (because it sounds way cooler and less anal), but it just doesn't work for me.
Write fan fiction?
No. I have my own stories that need tending to, and limited hours in the day to do it.
Do you type or write by hand?
I adore writing by hand. You see, I have a not-so-secret love affair with notebooks and office supplies in general. I HAVE to leaf through fresh notebooks and journals at every store. There's nothing quite as satisfying as writing in a new notebook. That said, I don't write by hand, LOL! Who has time? If I had more quality writing time I could easily write by hand. In fact, I wrote a large portion of Table for One by hand because I didn't have a laptop (had to share computer with teen daughter) until the final draft.
Do you save everything you write?
I do now! In fact, it's slowly taking over the house because I also love to eventually print everything I write.
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
So far, I've only abandoned one idea, but it's plotted extensively so it's there for the finishing if I ever jump back into suspense. (Hey DCCPs--I see you cringing!)
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?
That's like asking which of my children is my favorite! What kind of sicko wrote this question?
What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Sci-fi/fantasy. Ugh. Can't read it, and there's no WAY I could write it.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
One. My Type A personality dictates that I finish one thing before moving on. Although, I did pause for a few days to write The Promise of Forever, a short story to be featured in the Christian Fiction Online magazine.
What are your five favorite words?
It'd be so much easier to tell you my five least favorite words, but let me think on this...
snuggle, fresh, breakfast, silly, lovely. Now, that list is subject to change at any moment. Also, if you look at one of my recent WIPs, I seemed to enjoy the word TOTE.
What character that you’ve written most resembles you?
The heroine I'm writing right now. She has some insecurities that need to be dealt with, and she often covers them by being brusque. Hey, can I change one of my favorite words?
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No, my dreams are rarely coherent.
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes, however, my crit buds may not concur =)
Does music help you write?
No. Way. I must have silence to create!
How do people react when they find out you write?
They want to know if such-and-such a saying made it into my book, and if they can have a share of the royalties.
Quote something you’ve written.
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.
Robin Jones Gunn is the queen of gentle women's fiction. There's such a sweet spirit in this book that I find soothing and unique. Also, the characters trip to England is highlighted in a way that makes me want to hop on the next plane. Since I'd like to share the fun with you, please leave your email address, and I'll draw a winner on Friday!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawaii.
Robin’s first novel was published in 1988, and she has continued to write between two to five books a year. Her 63 published books include 47 novels, all of which are still in print. Sales of her popular Christy Miller Series, Glenbrooke Series and Sisterchicks Series, including Sisterchicks in Gondolas and the new Katie Weldon Series including Peculiar Treasures all of which are approaching four million copies sold, with translations in nine languages.
Robin’s passion for storytelling and travel are evident in all her books, especially the Sisterchicks novels, and she has received thousands of letters from readers around the world who have come to know Christ through her writing. She sees this as her dream come true. Her novels are traveling to foreign lands and her characters are doing what she always longed to do; telling people about God’s love.
She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.
As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.
Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.
ABOUT THE BOOK
SISTERCHICK® n: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.
Two midlife mamas hop over to jolly ole England and encounter so much more than the usual tourist stops. Liz does have a bit of a childhood crush on Big Ben, and she has hoped to “meet” him ever since her fifteenth birthday. Kellie dreams of starting an interior design business and figures Liz needs to be a part of that equation–a calculation that hasn’t added up for Liz yet.
Nothing on the excursion goes the way these two friends had envisioned. They start with a village pancake race and end up being held for questioning on The Underground. Kellie and Liz take a wild tour through the land of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and then find themselves swept up, up, and away in a hot air balloon over the Cotswalds. London beckons with the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, shopping at Portabella Road in Knotting Hill, and of course, reservations at the Ritz for a posh high tea.
A few detours along the way and the possibility of being lost in a London fog of wonderment aren’t enough to stop these two Sisterchicks! Each step of their regal journey is lined with evidence of God’s gracious compassion, and both come to realize that God knows their every wish. He is the One who planted every dream in their hearts.
And, oh, what a surprise awaits them when they return home!
To read the first chapter, go HERE
“Robin has done it again! You and your Sisterchicks will love taking this new adventure together!”
- Karen Kingsbury, New York Times best-selling author of Between Sundays and Ever After
“My only complaint about Robin’s latest is that now I want to hop a plane to England! But combine a cup of Earl Grey tea and this charming story and you’re halfway there. Another delightful tale about women helping women to live their lives to the fullest.”
- Melody Carlson, author of These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking and A Mile in My Flip-Flops
“Sisterchicks in Gondolas is a true delight. The characters shine, and evocative language will make any reader want to visit Venice. Biblical truths are portrayed simply, yet will touch hearts and lives with their realistic application.”
- Romantic Times magazine
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Hello, friends! Where are you all? Is it vacation time? Here are a few tidbits I wanted to let you know about.
*If you're involved in the Christian writing community, then undoubtedly you've heard about the Christian Fiction Online Magazine. It's a monthly online mag dedicated to Christian fiction, with loads of information by writers we all know and love. Well, I'd like to announce that I wrote a short story entitled The Promise of Forever, and it'll be in the January 2009 issue! If you haven't read the debut issue of CFOM, check it out today.
*Yesterday I had my first (probably last and only, knowing me!) internet radio interview. A sweet woman named Leslie Howard that I met on ShoutLife invited me onto her show Sister Circle to discuss Table for One, and a plethora of other things. If you have some time, click here to listen to a replay of the broadcast. There's even a cameo appearance by our friend Erica Vetsch!
Which brings me to my point for the day: doing the interview really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I confessed to the hostess that yes, I'm shy. Of course, Kaye Dacus called me out on it after the show! But it's true, I'd much rather blend into the wallpaper than call attention to myself and be seen/heard, at least by strangers. There are times, however, when it's necessary to step out and take a chance.
When was the last time you moved beyond your usual comfy space to do something you knew would be beneficial?
Monday, July 14, 2008
One can only hope!
In this month's Romance Writers Report (the monthly magazine put out by RWA) an article titled "Romancing the Trends" has some great news. According to industry experts Paige Wheeler of Folio Inc. and Caren Johnson of the Caren Johnson Literary Agency, romantic comedy may be on the rise again.
Since chick lit was declared "dead, dead, dead!" by people in the know, I shifted to a sub-genre of romance where my voice and humor could be put to good use: romantic comedy. It works out well since I adore writing from the hero's perspective, and now I have the chance to explore "the other side."
We all know that chasing the market is a bad idea because it's hard to force the passion to write a book that you're not naturally in tune with. Because writing a book is such a long labor of love, you have to love your WIP. BUT, I believe it's wise to keep abreast of the market and make changes as necessary. That's not the same as chasing, but perhaps it's bending our work to make it more salable, and give our WIPS a fighting chance while staying true to personal voice.
And that's where the good news about romantic comedy gets me excited: my work just may have more opportunity than before, and I won't have to ride the flat end of the genre wave.
What's the state of your chosen genre? Have you made choices to fit the market, or are you waiting out the cycle and writing the book of your heart?
Friday, July 11, 2008
This is one of the most exciting days in my short career, the day Table for One releases in paperback. Writing a book and seeing it through to publication is truly a journey of love, not to mention a long, slow process. More than two years ago I started writing this book with a flash of inspiration in the parking lot on Valentine's Day. I'd been mulling over a related idea, and not getting far because I couldn't quite peg the beginning of the heroine's journey. Then I realized that, like myself, she loathed Valentine's Day.
And BOOM...Table for One began to take shape.
In case you're new to my blog, here's the 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?
**IN CASE YOU'RE HOOKED, CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK!!!**
To celebrate with me this month, click on over to visit my cyber friends who are featuring TFO!Thanks for stopping by today, and thanks for being a cyber friend =)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
- watching infomercials seems exciting, and possibly beneficial for your writing
- all the laundry is done, the house is clean, and the cookbooks are alphabetized
- your e-mail in-box is empty, and you've already clicked refresh 50 times
- the people at the video store say, "Congratulations, you've rented every title we stock!"
- the idea of grunting out 5 miles on the treadmill doesn't repel you as much as the thought of opening your WIP
For having the deep desire to write novels, I can sure come up with a plethora of excuses not to. It's when I'm down to wasting time with stupid stuff and turning to my 2-year-old for ideas that I know it's time for the Butt-in-Chair technique. But never fear, that method almost always works, and once those first few hundred words are on the screen, the rest seem to come a bit easier.
Remember: the more you write, the more words you'll have written.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Oh how I wish I had more time to read. I'm almost halfway through this book, and even though the heroine is a bit harder for me to identify with, I'm enjoying the discovery of who she is, and what makes her tick. Also, the whole labyrinth angle is fascinating, and I can't wait to see how this all ties together. This is a story where I can't predict how the different threads will wrap up, so of course it makes for a page turner.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Of her three main interests, art, music and writing, she chose to study English at the University of Colorado and thrived on Creative Writing and Literature classes. She married her husband Jim, and turned her energy to building a family. They have four children whom they have home schooled for all or most of their education. Kristen is a music minister with the ecumenical covenant community People of Praise.
Once she realized the stories in her head were truly a calling from the Lord, she made writing not just a passion, but a ministry. She has written seven historical fiction novels as part of the The Rocky Mountain Legacy series, the Diamond of the Rockies series, and the Christy Award winner Secrets. Most recently, she has written several contemporary fiction novels, including Echoes, Freefall and Unforgotten.
Kristen and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Tessa Young, an up-and-coming landscape architect who specializes in the design and creation of labyrinths, has immersed herself in the mythological, spiritual, and healing aspects of the elaborate structures. She also is searching for God and hoping to make sense of the nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.
When Smith Chandler, an estranged colleague--with whom she'd half fallen in love a dozen times before catching herself every time--calls to propose a project he claims is the opportunity of a lifetime, she reluctantly agrees to check it out. Smith is reconstructing a pre-Revolutionary War abbey for wealthy clients. Among its remarkable features is an overgrown labyrinth.
Unable to resist, Tessa accepts his offer to work with him. Soon she is immersed in the project of a lifetime. But one evening, after weeks of work in the labyrinth, Tessa and Smith are attacked. While protecting Tessa, Smith is stabbed, and the nightmare begins...again.
If You would like to read the first chapter, go HERE
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
*In response to a comment made on the last post, I thought it'd be fun to pull this out of the archives. I retook the test, and this time scored a 325 WPM with a 55% comprehension. OUCH! Of course, my excuse is that Barney is playing in the background, and who wouldn't be messed up by that? LOL! On to the post:
How many times have I said, "Wow, there are SO many great books out there, I wish I could read faster!" And how many times have you said the same thing? So I took a lil' online test to see exactly how many words per minute I'm reading, and you know what? I'm exactly average at 230 WPM, with a 91% comprehension. (I'll give you the link in a minute.) After finding out that I'm average, I decided to do some research and see if I could improve, and that's what I'm sharing with you today.
~HINDRANCES TO READING FASTER:
Subvocalization: (sounding out words in your head.) Children are taught to read letter-by-letter, then word-by-word. They are taught orally, since it's the only way to observe progress. Once most people start reading to themselves, they never stop enunciating each word in their head and pick up some speed.
Too many eye stops. If you watch someone's eyes as they read, they usually move from left to right, then down the page. Also, the eye tends to go backwards to pick up lost material. The more the eye stops, the less words per minute. One book went so far as to say that all eye movement is a total waste as far as productive reading goes.
Low reader expectation. It's one of those things people don't consciously think about improving. Did you know that "real" speed readers soak in up to 1000 WPM?
~TIPS FOR FASTER READING:
Eliminate distractions. The more chaos/noise/chatter in the background, the slower a person is able to read. (How many times have you had to re-read a sentence because of interruptions?) Also, get comfy, and have the proper lighting.
Use peripheral vision and begin block reading. Instead of the word-by-word method taught to children, expand your field of vision to take in more words per blink. And instead of allowing your eyes to stop every few words, keep moving. This will take practice. There are books available with eye drills if reading faster is something you're serious about.
Read from directly from the page to your brain--in other words, quit subvocalizing, or sounding out words in your head. Instead of going from mouth to ear to brain, go from eyes to brain. This, too, will take practice.
Turn pages faster. Studies showed many readers wasting time turning pages. If possible, lay your book flat, and have your thumb ready to turn the page without skipping a beat.
Use a marker. I've read two differing opinions on this one, so take your pick. Using a pencil or the tip of your finger MAY help you keep your place and increase speed.
There are other tips that pertain to reading non-fiction, but I won't go into that here. And keep in mind that not everything is intended to be speed read (like critiques, LOL!) But increasing your speed will allow you to get to more of those wonderful books out there. Oh, and all of my research indicates that speed reading actually INCREASES comprehension instead of reducing it. (Think of a movie: you get more out of it watching it all at once, rather than in pieces. The slower you read, the more interruptions you'll face.) There are tons of resources out there that go into more detail and give practice exercises.
Here's the link to the speed reading test, and scroll down to the bottom half of the page. Let me know how you fare!
*Those of you who did this last time, try it again and see if you've improved. And if you've never taken the test, this is a fun way to gauge how fast you're making it through material, and how much you're comprehending.
Man, this book has it all: internation intrigue, human trafficking, and of course, romance. What's amazing to me is how well it's woven together with a spiritual thread to make an entertaining story fit for the big screen. The exotic locations and the detailed setting were an added bonus. At the bottom you'll see the contest info. By the way, Susan is donating 15% of the book's royalties to the International Justice Mission.
But enough from me, here's the blurb:
When her sister vanishes into a human slave ring, FSB agent Yanna Andrevka is determined to rescue her. Unfortunately, she's in over her head, with no way out, especially after destroying the undercover operation of Delta Force Operative David Curtiss, who is deep undercover in the Twin Serpents crime syndicate. David has his hands full trying to save Yana, and his operation -- one that could rescue hundreds of women from the Serpent, or cost he and Yana their lives. The thrilling next chapter of the Mission: Russia series!
About Susan: Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.
A note from Susan:
Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.
Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission:Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group.
The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction.
However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (www.ijm.org), an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.
Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest…click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here (http://susanmaywarren.typepad.com/scribbles/2008/06/wiser-than-serp.html) and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why! Susan will randomly select three winners!
Monday, July 07, 2008
The great thing about this writing gig is that it's the one area of my life where I can be a bit more pliable without feeling out of control. In this instance, I'm not talking about my schedule--because I'll never lose my rigidity on that count--but the writing process itself.
As I may have mentioned once or twice (or a thousand times, but who's keeping track?), I'm a three draft girl.
DRAFT ONE is for finding the story, and getting a grip on who's who. Even if I plot, I have to write that first draft to make sure the whole thing fits together, given the characters and the changes I make along the way.
DRAFT TWO is for incorporating the changes I knew I needed to make in the first draft, but didn't stop to fix. Usually this means adding and deleting scenes, switching up characters, deepening characterization, adding or eliminating subplots, etc. Big picture stuff.
DRAFT THREE is for fixing the details. This is when I really look at the writing itself, and add more meat to the bones in terms of description. By this time I'm usually weary--make that sick to death--of working on the same book.
Bear in mind that within the three major drafts, I do tons of editing, so it's not like I only handle each scene three times total. With excellent crit buds, there's never a shortage of fixable moments ((wink, wink!!))
With this new work, however, I'm doing something different. I didn't write the entire first draft (GASP!) Why, you ask, would I deviate from my method? Well, it's simple: this time I know how it's going to end. I wrote 2/3 of the draft and at this point I know who is staying in the story, who is exiting stage left, and what their roles are in the book. Last week I took some time to plot through the end of the story, knowing what I know about the major players, and I felt it might be redundant to do the full drafts three times. We'll see how it works out. For all I know, when I get to the end of the book I'll be blogging on what a train wreck I created!
So that's the plan for today: begin take two of my WIP. And for the record, the second draft is my favorite part of writing. If all goes well, I'll be finished toward the end of summer. A girl can dream, can't she?
Now it's your turn to go on the record: how many full drafts do you write, or do you have a different process altogether?
Friday, July 04, 2008
I just received this book, so I'm only a few chapters in. As usual, Rachel Hauck delivers a great story, and I'm excited to continue reading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel Hauck is a forty-something, a child of the '60's, '70's, '80's, '90's and '00's, who roller skated through the '70's into the '80's with Farrah Fawcet hair and a three-speed orange Camero. She graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism.
After graduation, she hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. But, she's traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine.
Rachel met Tony, her husband, in '87, at church, of all places. They married in '92.
They don't have any children of their own, just lots of kids-in-the-Lord and they love them all. However, they do have two very spoiled dogs, and a very demanding cat.
With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. My current release is Sweet Caroline from Thomas Nelson. Romantic Times Book Club gave both books their highest rank of 4.5 stars, with Love Starts With Elle being honored as Top Pick!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Elle's living the dream-but is it her dream or his?
Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.
Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.
But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.
Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?
If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Here's a quiz that has me pegged, and it's perfect for 4th of July weekend:
What Your These Fireworks Say About You
You are focused, single minded, and intense.
You don't let others see your intensity often, and when they do, they are quite surprised.
You burn brightly, but you also burn steadily.
You have the endurance to get the one thing you desire most.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
By now you all know I'm a fan of Amish fiction--this one takes a different spin and brings an outsider into the community. Seeing the life of the Amish through Anna Metzger's eyes as she's on the run brings a new flavor to this type of book. The romantic conflict is strong, with good characterization. The heroine is definitely flawed, and it served the plotline well. If you enjoy Amish fiction, make sure to get your hands on a copy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Hidden is Shelley’s first foray into inspirational fiction. Previously, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio where she writes full time. Shelley is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and is part of the Telecare ministry, which calls homebound members on a regular basis. Shelley looks forward to the opportunity to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Hidden is a remarkable story about the unlikely love between a modern girl on the run and an Amish boy from the family who shelters her.
When Anna decides it's time to leave her abusive boyfriend, she doesn't know where to turn. Rob is a successful and respected person in her community. He has completely won over her parents with his good looks and prestigious position at a top law firm. Only Anna has seen his dark side. But when Rob hurts Anna yet again, she realizes that she must finally help herself.
Desperate, she runs to the one place she’s always felt completely safe, the Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, where years ago she and her mother once stayed, and where Anna met life-long friend Katie Brenneman. When Anna shows up years later unexpectedly, the family welcomes her in, with few questions asked, and allows her to stay, dressed as the Amish in Plain clothes, and help around the inn.
But Katie’s older brother Henry doesn’t take too kindly to the intrusion. Anna wonders if it’s because he’s already had his heart broken. To Henry’s shame, from the moment he sees Anna, he feels a strong attraction. To cover his infatuation, he tries to ignore her, knowing no good would ever come from keeping an eye on a fancy woman like her. But as he sees that Anna has a good heart and is not the selfish, spoiled woman he imagined her to be, he feels his heart pointing towards her.
Anna comes to realize that she’s found a home and true love in the last place she’d expected. How can she deny the life she left behind? And will her chance for happiness be stolen away by the man who can’t seem to let her go?
If you would like to read the Prologue, go HERE
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Who said this: I PUFFED OUT MY CHEST SO FAR I ALMOST CRACKED MY STERNUM ?
A. My husband, quite proud when I told him how much gas I'd been saving
B. My dad, after requesting my book at a bookstore
C. My kids, elated that I made pancakes for lunch
Scroll down for the answer...
If you guessed my dad, then (ding, ding, ding!) you're correct! He and my mother went into a bookstore recently (out of town, thankfully!) and asked the nice saleslady to look up my book. When it popped up on the screen, she asked if they'd like to order it. At this point they proudly claimed me as their daughter (I think this is where the chest-puffing came into play), which led to the lady asking if I was a local author. How wonderful to have my parents spreading the message one store at a time!
My hubby made me order business cards last weekend with all the ordering information on them because he's been telling everyone he knows about my book. He wants to have something to hand out when the time comes. Talk about viral marketing!
No matter where we are in our writing journey, there are people who have come alongside us and made it possible to keep on keeping on. Let's face it, there are soooo many times where it'd be just as easy to stop. I'm thankful for the wonderful support people God has placed in my path, from teachers to crit buds, and of course my family and friends that have made it possible to face the hard times, and celebrate the good.
I know we've talked about this before, but it's one of those subjects that bears revisiting. Who are your cheerleaders?