Friday, January 30, 2009


I look forward to Sally Stuart's book every year. If you're serious about writing for the inspirational market, this is a must-have. The great thing is that there's something for everyone, whether you're writing articles, books, searching for an agent, looking for a conference or writers' group--it's in there! Did you know that there are companies looking for greeting card material, and slogans for magnets, mugs, and shirts? Whether you're looking to get established or looking to branch out, get your copy today!!

Here's the blurb:

The Resource Guide to Getting Published

For 24 years running, the Christian Writers’ Market Guide has remained the most comprehensive, complete, essential, and highly-recommended resource for beginning and veteran Christian writers, agents, editors, publishers, publicists, and those teaching writing classes.

This year’s Guide is even handier with a CD-Rom included that features the full text of the book for easy searches of topics, publishers, and markets, as well as 100 pages of exclusive content including indexes and writing resource listings.

This is the resource you need to get noticed—and published.


Completely updated and revised to feature the latest on…

  • more than 1,200 markets for the written word
  • 416 book publishers (32 new)
  • 654 periodicals (52 new)
  • 96 literary agents
  • 100 new listings in Resources for Writers
  • 226 poetry markets
  • 316 photography markets
  • 25 African-American markets
  • and 166 contests (29 new)

Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-six books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers’ Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight and lives near Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Part of the fun of hanging out with everyone in the blogger world is giving and receiving awards. Happily I announce that two gracious friends gave me awards. Here's the interesting part, both my friends are named Delia! Many thanks to Delia, a Christian writer and mother to man, from Gatorskunkz and Mudcats, and Delia Latham, author of Goldeneyes, from The Melody Within.

Premio Dardos Award: 
This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write.

And these are the rules...

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted it to you, along with his/her blog link.

2. Pass the award to (15) other blogs that you feel are worthy of this recognition. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.

*Please note: when copying the award picture, please download it to your own computer first and upload from there to your own blog site.

The Lemonade Award

Here's how the "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade" award works:

1) Link back to the person you received the award from.

2) Nominate 10 bloggers who are deserving of this award!

I'm combining the two because I'd nominate the same people for both. These bloggers (in alphabetical order) are people who keep it real while pressing on for God. I'm keeping it to ten.

Check out these nice ladies and say hello!


...I forgot to blog! At least I finished chapter 3 of my new WIP, and had a great time doing so. In honor of finishing chapter 3 (hey--a girl's gotta find reasons to celebrate!) let's do something a little different:

Pull out your WIPS and post your favorite line--a line that you wrote sometime this week. 

I'll start. Mine comes from the middle of chapter 3, when the heroine is preparing for the second day of fitness boot camp at the swimming pool.

Since the gym-issued towel was too small to fit all the way around 
Darcy’s body, she’d use it to strangle Aubrey instead. 

YOUR TURN! The winner gets their choice of lots o' cyber hugs, or we can stand around them in a circle and chant their name ;)

Monday, January 26, 2009


As it turns out, taking so much time off from writing may not have been the best idea. While a break was definitely necessary and much enjoyed, taking up the ol' pen again is akin to re-starting an exercise routine. Just a different set of muscles. Still a lot of sweat.

On Saturday I took my Dana with me to a kid's birthday party where I knew I'd have 90 mins of uninterrupted time. Problem was, the cursor blinked at me. And blinked. 

And blinked. 

It was as though the cursor was saying, "Hee-hee-hee....thought you could ignore me, did ya? I'll teach you to walk away!"

And like a ninny, I cowered. Should it take 90 mins to write 200 words? Not likely! We've all heard a million ways to overcome the problem, the most popular probably being to turn off the internal editor and write. But I'm here to give you three ideas that are a little out of the box (bad, bad cliche!)

*Don't take fingers off keyboard. Seriously, keeping my fingers on the keys until I complete several paragraphs is a great way to keep pounding out the words. Afterward I usually stretch a bit and breathe deep to get some O2 flowing again.

*Chew gum. You heard me right! We've probably all heard that chewing gum during a test improves scores, but do you know why? Because the chewing action causes both sides of your brain to work in sync. Here's a good article on that. Now, apply that to your writing and see what happens.

*Pray. No--really! God can help with breakthrough. According to the Bible, He orders the steps of the righteous. If that's the case, then he can help us make the most of our time. Be specific. (Lord, please help me to know what's supposed to happen next in the story. Is it really Miss Scarlett, in the library, with the lead pipe?) You don't want to not receive because you didn't ask.

How do you get past the revenge of the blinking cursor?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Yesterday I started pounding out the words to my new story. Ahh, the possibilities the beginning of a story holds. There's nothing better than knowing you haven't made any giant errors, and the whole book is a clean slate...

Except for doing the subsequent drafts. Knowing that your plot held together and that your story is, after all, going to make sense is a such a relief...

But not as big a relief as typing THE END.

Well, I guess this means that it's all good! No wonder I love to write. Still haven't figured out which part of writing I love the most: planning, first drafting, subsquent drafts, finishing....
For now I'll enjoy starting out, getting to know my characters, and the fun that comes when I get a deeper revelation of where the story is supposed to go.

What's your favorite part? And if you say writing the synopsis I'll know you're lying!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Because I've read a good deal of book 2 in Kaye Dacus's Brides of Bonneterre series, reading Stand-In Groom was like settling in with old friends. In her debut novel, Kaye introduces us to Anne Hawthorne, a wedding planner who falls for a man she thinks is the groom! This is a sweet romance, and a story of miscommunication, forgiveness, and most of all love. 

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


Kaye Dacus


Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.


When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Regardless of your politcal persuasion, it's a great day to be an American. Correction--every day is a great day to be an American. We are blessed! Today we celebrate =)

Let's remember to pray for our new leaders and our country.

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Monday, January 19, 2009


...I still love speed. In plotting, that is.

After finishing the last book right before Christmas, I began to kick around new story ideas. I had all kinds of storylines, not to mention genres, bouncing about in my head and it took a 40 minute phone call with my agent to focus in on one genre (and then idea.) In the 24 hours following, I had a flurry of characters, scenes, and conflicts that solidified into a plot.

Here's the cool thing: I allowed myself to try something new. You don't realize how huge a statement that is coming from a Type-A, creature-of-habit person like me. What new thing did I try, you ask? (C'mon, ask!) I'll tell you:

I worked non-linear. Before last week, I worked everything linearly because it only makes sense. But now I've discovered the freedom of randomness. 

First I came up with a premise (this took longer than anything) and fleshed it out a bit, complete with characters with internal and external motivations.

Because the premise lends itself to several unique settings and activities, I wrote down every place/activity in which I wanted to see the characters.

Next, I developed concrete turning points in the story, plus an ending.

Then I paired up the turning points with the activities--where best to have each turning point take place. The rest was a matter of filling in the interesting settings with what would naturally be happening in the story.

See? Completely random! OK, maybe none of that made sense to you, but somehow it all worked out. Of course it's all subject to change because as I begin to write a new course of action might spring to mind--it usually does.

Though it was 100% different from my previous methods, in an odd way I still plotted by the seat of my pants.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sweetwater Gap

Thomas Nelson (December 16, 2008)


Denise Hunter


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


A story of new beginnings from best-selling Romance for Good™ author Denise Hunter.
When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence-she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.

The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way-he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.

A brush with death tears down Josephine's defenses and for the first time in her life, she feels freedom-freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, freedom to live her life the way it was intended, with a heart full of love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sweetwater Gap, go HERE

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Yesterday I had my very first massage, and now I wonder what on earth took so long! At first I was nervous, after all, a massage involves ((insert whisper)) disrobing. But after putting on my big girl pants and just doing it, I soon decided this would be the first of many such experiences. Not only did I feel pampered and relaxed, but I had knots in my back that may have been contributing to a rash of headaches and--here's the best news--the masseuse worked out the knot in my neck caused by the crocheting debacle!

Now be honest, have you avoided getting a massage because, like me, you were squeamish about the whole process? Let me dispel the myths and tell you how it really goes. (At least how it went at the place I got mine.)

*A good masseuse takes time to find out your specific needs, problem areas, and comfort level. For example, I told my lady that I did NOT want my gluts done. Plus you get to pick the gender of your masseuse. It's also good to remember that there isn't anything they haven't seen before, so don't worry about that hairy mole on your back...assuming you have one =P

*You only take off what you feel comfortable with, and the masseuse keeps your whole body covered, except for the part they're working on. And the sheets are heated!

*The lights are turned super low. It was practically dark, and the pan pipes on the overhead speakers relax you. 

If you're going for the first time, let me give you some advice:

*SHAVE, SHAVE, SHAVE!!! And that's all I'll say about that.

*Bring a bottle of water because you're going to need a TON to flush out the toxins released. When I got out of the massage room I was in a stupor, and so relaxed that I was slurring my words. In fact, I had to sit in my car to get my bearings before leaving. 

If you have sore muscles, tension headaches, or just want to relax, check it out. Do it as a reward for finishing your book (or writing 1000 words, if need be!) But don't miss out on one of life's most pleasurable experiences for the sake of modesty. Trust me on this!
10,000 HOURS

That's how long some experts say it takes a person to become proficient at a task. If you consider that an average full-time job is 2,000 hours per year (minus a 2 week vacation) then it would take someone 5 years on the job to truly learn and know what they're doing. 

((Keep in mind I got this info second hand from websites that discuss Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Outliers: The Story of Success. The stats come from a study on musicians at the Berlin Academy of Music, but evidently the results can apply to all fields. I didn't read the book, so take it for what it's worth.))

Now, let's apply the rule of 10,000 to our writing. For our purpose here I only counted hours actually spent writing or learning about writing through conferences, books, etc. I did NOT count networking, reading in my genre, critiquing, or puttering online even though we can learn from many of these sources too. Also, I estimated the number of hours spent writing per day, knowing that some days were more, some less.

208 weeks ((4 years)) x 5 days in a week=1040 days since I seriously began to pursue writing

1040 days x 2.5 hours per day=2600 hours

Using this formula, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there's plenty of room for growth. The bad news is that I have a long way to go! What a reminder that I'm truly a baby when it comes to fiction writing. The real eye-opening part for me is paring down all my activities and focusing on JUST actual writing and specific learning instead of counting all the peripheral stuff.

Grab a calculator and find out where you stand!

Monday, January 12, 2009


No in real life, but on the chalkboard. You see, lately I've been spending tons of time teaching the kidlets to read! Talk about fun/rewarding/fulfilling all in one! My 4-year-old is doing a great job reading sentences like:

Pat the rat, Mom.
The fat cat sat on the pig.
The tan bat is big.
Dad is glad.

((insert big, satisfied sigh))

Life is grand!

On the writing front, I'm in the midst of plotting, and am starting to realize how much I love to plot. Or maybe it's that I adore index cards, sticky notes, graph paper, and my new gel pens. Hmm. Not sure which I love more: plotting or office supplies. I have come to one realization that sort of breaks my heart, and it's that the purchasing of office supplies does not actually increase my word count. Pity.

Friday, January 09, 2009


How's that for an attention grabber? Well, it's true. This is the first time I haven't set goals at the start of the new year, and it's torture reading about what everyone else has planned. The thing of it is, I didn't want to set goals when I wasn't certain that's what God had in mind for me, and this time around I really haven't felt clued in on The Plan...

...until two nights ago. Have you ever been at a crossroads where you just weren't sure if the time/energy/devotion you had for (insert something important to you) was worth the toll on (insert something else important to you) ?  That's where I've been with my writing. Let's face it, there comes a point when, no matter how much I love writing, I could be putting the time/energy/devotion to better use for my family.

Though I've been praying on it for a while, I came to God a few nights ago and asked Him to really show me what to do, and that I was ready and willing to give up writing if that was The Plan. Less than 10 minutes into my Bible reading, here's what He said loud and clear:

2 Corinthians 8:10-11
And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you must also complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.

Of course the context of this passage is talking about generous giving and completing a project they had going, but I took it for me! I really believe He showed me that I should keep writing. It's not time to stop--I haven't completed this journey. It was one of those amazing God moments you hold in your heart when circumstances are tough and you want to hide out and nap.

That said, it's time to develop goals and get moving again. I can only crochet so many scarves and blankets! Well, something I am taking away is that all things should be done in moderation and balance, so I refuse to give up the ol' yarn and hook. But at least now I don't feel like I'm jumping ahead of The Plan.

I encourage you to take time with Him. He really does meet you where you're at =)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I haven't read this yet--it just arrived today in the mail (a happy surprise!) 

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Perfect Match

(Tyndale House January 1, 2009)


Susan May Warren


Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.


Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart.
(This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Perfect Match, go HERE.


2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year

A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars


Romantic Times Magazine:
Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read –once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

This year I read a whopping 92 books. That's NINETY TWO BOOKS! Not that I'm bragging, mind you, but that's 1 book every 3...uh...3 days...wait...well, that's a lot of books. (3.9, I just checked.) After going on a spree (or is it a binge?) in '08, it's hard to choose favorites. But since I love lists, I'll give it a try, in no particular order:

*The Shape of Mercy, by Susan Meissner

*First the Dead, by Tim Downs

*Dark Pursuit, by Brandilyn Collins

*Whispers of the Bayou, by Minday Starns Clark

*A Clearing in the Wild, by Jane Kirkpatrick

One thing I noticed about all these great books is they all have a strong sense of place. Talk about great setting and mood--these were the books that I loathed putting down because I felt like I was actually there. Definitely something to strive for in my own writing!

Do you share any of my favorites?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My head is spinning--in a good way. There are so many layers to The Unseen, that I didn't see it coming (pardon the pun.) The book starts with Lucas, a man who spies on people in public places, and lives in underground tunnels and other unauthorized areas. Honestly, I didn't know what to think of him at first, and thought he was kind of creepy for a main character. But the longer I read, the more I found myself concerned for Lucas and drawn into his character journey. 

Enter the Creep Club. The book escalates to a new level when Lucas finds others like himself who watch people. (As a side note, one of the websites mentioned in the book is real:, and there really are people slinking around in places they don't belong, and then bragging about it!) From there we have a surprising mixture of secret agents, genetics, and the key to Lucas's past. Though he was an unlikely hero in the beginning, he had me rooting for him in the end. Lots of twists and surprises, and there was no way I could've predicted the end.

Make sure to stop by T.L. Hines's website and see the cool trailer of the book. And CLICK HERE to get your copy!

Monday, January 05, 2009


Hey friends, I'm ba-ack!!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's. We had a great time around these parts, including a visit from Santa (my beloved father who is a great sport!) on Christmas Eve. Here's what happened:

Santa comes through the door, large and red and bellows out a loud, "Ho, hO, HO!!!"

My three-year-old stops in her tracks with frightened eyes and says, "I peed, I peed!"

Naturally my four-year-old insists she isn't scared but, "just doesn't like all that ho-ho-ho-ing."

Other parts of the break were not so happy, including getting two vehicles (including our 4-wheel drive) stuck in my parents' driveway, having our pipes freeze, running out of gas on the freeway, and worrying about ice dams. Seriously, should it snow this much in Arizona? It's just not natural.

I've enjoyed the holiday season, though, because I also took a break from writing. Remember I told you about learning to crochet? Well, I'm afraid I have a new addiction. Either that or I seriously needed an outlet since I laid the writing aside. I made three scarves and now I'm starting on a blanket. 

The blanket is for my hubby, a devoted Vikings fan, and of course I'm using Viking colors. Since I'm using granny squares and haven't stitched them together yet, my hub picks one up, shakes it around and says, "Are we supposed to wave these around during the games?" Oy.

The sad thing of it is that I realize I'm too out of shape to crochet. No joke! I got a nasty crick in my neck that rendered me near-paralyzed on Christmas. It's a sad, sad day when you're so old you have to stretch before you sit down to crochet. And that's all I'll say about that.

Oh, in case you haven't yet checked out this month's Christian Fiction Online Magazine, CLICK HERE to read my short story, Promise of Forever. Ignore the extra quotation marks. Honestly, I didn't put those there!!!!
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