Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THE JOY OF CREATION

Last night my 6-year-old daughter started writing her first book. We stapled the pages together and she sat down with her pencil and an idea.

First she came up with a title, World of Crimes. Then her sweet face illuminated as she decided that our family should be the main characters, who go around the world fighting crime. She hammered out the first paragraph (by this time she was topping my word count) and then decided that the end should be very exciting. Amazing how, even at 6, she has a sense of story ;)

Watching her reminded me of my early writing days. As a child I created simply for the joy of creation. When I started writing seriously the joy was almost enough to make one giddy. As the years passed, the joy morphed into a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. As great as those two emotions are...

I want my joy back! That pure, childlike joy at watching a story come to life. (Kinda makes me wonder how God must have felt at creation!) When the self-editor takes a nap during the first draft is probably the where the highest sense of enjoyment has the opportunity to come out and play.

What do you feel most when you create?

Monday, October 25, 2010

COUNTDOWN!!!

Ambitious, perhaps overly so.

At the start of October I set my goal at 51,000 words for the month as part of ACFW Novel Track. Unless I can type (and think) at light speed, there's no way I'll make it. This weekend I crossed the 30,000 mark, which is a super happy thing, but adding 21,000 in the next few days is a stretch.

Though I'm a wee bit disappointed about missing the Novel Track word count, I'm looking forward to November.

I spent time plotting out the book I want to work on for NANO. (Really, what am I thinking?) Because I needed to see my plot, I utilized an easel and a mountain of posty notes to help:



Because my NANO novel is a contemporary romance, I divided the page in half and put the hero on one side and the heroine on the other. For the scenes where they are physically together I have the posties in the middle. Scenes where they are apart I have solely in their own column. I decided on this approach because last time I wrote a romance I had a hard time making sure they were actually together enough to fall in love, and had to do some maneuvering after the fact.

The next step for me is to flesh out each scene on colored index cards so I'll have enough room to include the setting, and the GMC for each scene.

Very excited for November!

Are you set to reach your goals for October?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Very Private Grave
Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)
by
Donna Fletcher Crow





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime. Find out more at www.donnafletchercrow.com.



Endorsements:

"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pages turning ... A fascinating read." –Liz Curtis Higgs, bestelling author of Thorn in My Heart
“A Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller, a sweeping, page-turning quest served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.” – Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters
“As in Glastonbury, Donna Fletcher Crow’s descriptions of the English and Scottish settings in her new mystery are drawn with real artistry. Lovers of British history and church history will be impressed by her grasp of both.”—Sally Wright, Edgar Award finalist and author of the Ben Reese Mysteries






ABOUT THE BOOK



Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood.



Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony—who is wanted for questioning by the police—flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert.



Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle...and considerable danger.



If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of A Very Private Grave, go HERE.



Watch the book video:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
While We're Far Apart
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
by
Lynn Austin







ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.



Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.



Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.





ABOUT THE BOOK



In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.



Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.



And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.



Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.



If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MASQUERADE


I'm a sucker for a pretty cover. Masquerade has that and so much more. An intriguing premise and memorable characters propel this story forward through a somewhat slow opening. There is amazing character growth throughout the story, and I loved the tense moments that kept me hooked. The ending was highly satisfying and a perfect fit for the characters. Highly enjoyable!

Blurb:

They risk it all for adventure and romance, but find that love only flourishes in truth...
1886. Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions. She is headed for New York to marry one of America's wealthiest heirs--a man she has never even met. When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid Dora. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. But when this chance of a lifetime turns into her blackest nightmare, can her faith and hope survive?

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'M JUST LIKE EMILY BRONTE!

Admittedly I haven't penned anything close to a masterpiece like Wuthering Heights, but I do share her personality type, INFJ. One item of particular interest that stood out to me while reading up is this:

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership.

Hee hee! I'll do anything to justify that I am, in fact, destined to be a writer! Not that I put total stock in an online test, but it was a great way to fiddle around this morning while waiting for the caffeine to soak in.

My big question is how personality type affects our writing or creative process. I started out a pantser, then quickly realized after the first book that I prefer knowing where I'm going. YET, armed with this knowledge I rarely make a detailed plot more than three chapters ahead. I know the highlights and my final destination, but so much of the story is a mystery to me.

A few days ago I actually took the time (and brain matter) to sort through what I know of my current WIP and map out everything that needs to happen from now to the end (I'm about 30K words into the story, 20+ written this month for ACFW Novel Track.) With my plan on paper, I'm totally excited to get to the keyboard.

How does your personality type affect your creative process? You can take the Jung Typology Test HERE.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Lady In Waiting

WaterBrook Press; Original edition (September 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc., for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Susan Meissner has spent her lifetime as a writer, starting with her first poem at the age of four. She is the award-winning author of The Shape of Mercy, White Picket Fences, and many other novels. When she’s not writing, she directs the small groups and connection ministries at her San Diego church. She and her pastor husband are the parents of four young adults.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Original edition (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458830
ISBN-13: 978-0307458834

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Jane

Upper West Side, Manhattan

ONE

The mantle clock was exquisite even though its hands rested in silence at twenty minutes past two.

Carved—near as I could tell—from a single piece of mahogany, its glimmering patina looked warm to the touch. Rosebuds etched into the swirls of wood grain flanked the sides like two bronzed bridal bouquets. The clock’s top was rounded and smooth like the draped head of a Madonna. I ran my palm across the polished surface and it was like touching warm water.

Legend was this clock originally belonged to the young wife of a Southampton doctor and that it stopped keeping time in 1912, the very moment the Titanic sank and its owner became a widow. The grieving woman’s only consolation was the clock’s apparent prescience of her husband’s horrible fate and its kinship with the pain that left her inert in sorrow. She never remarried and she never had the clock fixed.

I bought it sight unseen for my great aunt’s antique store, like so many of the items I’d found for the display cases. In the year and half I’d been in charge of the inventory, the best pieces had come from the obscure estate sales that my British friend Emma Downing came upon while tooling around the southeast of England looking for oddities for her costume shop. She found the clock at an estate sale in Felixstowe and the auctioneer, so she told me, had been unimpressed with the clock’s sad history. Emma said he’d read the accompanying note about the clock as if reading the rules for rugby.

My mother watched now as I positioned the clock on the lacquered black mantle that rose above a marble fireplace. She held a lead crystal vase of silk daffodils in her hands.

“It should be ticking.” She frowned. “People will wonder why it’s not ticking.” She set the vase down on the hearth and stepped back. Her heels made a clicking sound on the parquet floor beneath our feet. “You know, you probably would’ve sold it by now if it was working. Did Wilson even look at it? You told me he could fix anything.”

I flicked a wisp of fuzz off the clock’s face. I hadn’t asked the shop’s resident and unofficial repairman to fix it. “It wouldn’t be the same clock if it was fixed.”

“It would be a clock that did what it was supposed to do.” My mother leaned in and straightened one of the daffodil blooms.

“This isn’t just any clock, Mom.” I took a step back too.

My mother folded her arms across the front of her Ann Taylor suit. Pale blue, the color of baby blankets and robins’ eggs. Her signature color. “Look, I get all that about the Titanic and the young widow, but you can’t prove any of it, Jane,” she said. “You could never sell it on that story.”

A flicker of sadness wobbled inside me at the thought of parting with the clock. This happens when you work in retail. Sometimes you have a hard time selling what you bought to sell.

“I’m thinking maybe I’ll keep it.”

“You don’t make a profit by hanging onto the inventory.” My mother whispered this, but I heard her. She intended for me to hear her. This was her way of saying what she wanted to about her aunt’s shop—which she’d inherit when Great Aunt Thea passed—without coming across as interfering.

My mother thinks she tries very hard not to interfere. But it is one of her talents. Interfering when she thinks she’s not. It drives my younger sister Leslie nuts.

“Do you want me to take it back to the store?” I asked.

“No! It’s perfect for this place. I just wish it were ticking.” She nearly pouted.

I reached for the box at my feet that I brought the clock in along with a set of Shakespeare’s works, a pair of pewter candlesticks, and a Wedgwood vase. “You could always get a CD of sound effects and run a loop of a ticking clock,” I joked.

She turned to me, childlike determination in her eyes. “I wonder how hard it would be to find a CD like that!”

“I was kidding, Mom! Look what you have to work with.” I pointed to the simulated stereo system she’d placed into a polished entertainment center behind us. My mother never used real electronics in the houses she staged, although with the clientele she usually worked with—affluent real estate brokers and equally well-off buyers and sellers—she certainly could.

“So I’ll bring in a portable player and hide it in the hearth pillows.” She shrugged and then turned to the adjoining dining room. A gleaming black dining table had been set with white bone china, pale yellow linen napkins, and mounds of fake chicken salad, mauvey rubber grapes, and plastic croissants and petit fours. An arrangement of pussy willows graced the center of the table. “Do you think the pussy willows are too rustic?” she asked.

She wanted me to say yes so I did.

“I think so, too,” she said. “I think we should swap these out for that vase of Gerbera daisies you have on that escritoire in the shop’s front window. I don’t know what I was thinking when I brought these.” She reached for the unlucky pussy willows. “We can put these on the entry table with our business cards.”

She turned to me. “You did bring yours this time, didn’t you? It’s silly for you to go to all this work and then not get any customers out of it.” My mother made her way to the entryway with the pussy willows in her hands and intention in her step. I followed her.

This was only the second house I’d helped her stage, and I didn’t bring business cards the first time because she hadn’t invited me to until we were about to leave. She’d promptly told me then to never go anywhere without business cards. Not even to the ladies room. She’d said it and then waited, like she expected me to take out my BlackBerry and make a note of it.

“I have them right here.” I reached into the front pocket of my capris and pulled out a handful of glossy business cards emblazoned with Amsterdam Avenue Antiques and its logo—three As entwined like a Celtic eternity knot. I handed them to her and she placed them in a silver dish next to her own. Sophia Keller Interior Design and Home Staging. The pussy willows actually looked wonderful against the tall jute-colored wall.

“There. That looks better!” she exclaimed as if reading my thoughts. She turned to survey the main floor of the townhouse. The owners had relocated to the Hamptons and were selling off their Manhattan properties to fund a cushy retirement. Half the d├ęcor—the books, the vases, the prints—were on loan from Aunt Thea’s shop. My mother, who’d been staging real estate for two years, brought me in a few months earlier when she discovered a stately home filled with charming and authentic antiques sold faster than the same home filled with reproductions.

“You and Brad should get out of that teensy apartment on the West Side and buy this place. The owners are practically giving it away.”

Her tone suggested she didn’t expect me to respond. I easily let the comment evaporate into the sunbeams caressing us. It was a comment for which I had had no response.

My mother’s gaze swept across the two large rooms she’d furnished and she frowned when her eyes reached the mantle and the silent clock.

“Well, I’ll just have to come back later today,” she spoke into the silence. “It’s being shown first thing in the morning.” She swung back around. “Come on. I’ll take you back.”

We stepped out into the April sunshine and to her Lexus parked across the street along a line of townhouses just like the one we’d left. As we began to drive away, the stillness in the car thickened, and I fished my cell phone out of my purse to see if I’d missed any calls while we were finishing the house. On the drive over I had a purposeful conversation with Emma about a box of old books she found at a jumble sale in Oxfordshire. That lengthy conversation filled the entire commute from the store on the seven-hundred block of Amsterdam to the townhouse on East Ninth, and I found myself wishing I could somehow repeat that providential circumstance. My mother would ask about Brad if the silence continued. There was no missed call, and I started to probe my brain for something to talk about. I suddenly remembered I hadn’t told my mother I’d found a new assistant. I opened my mouth to tell her about Stacy but I was too late.

“So what do you hear from Brad?” she asked cheerfully.

“He’s doing fine.” The answer flew out of my mouth as if I’d rehearsed it. She looked away from the traffic ahead, blinked at me, and then turned her attention back to the road. A taxi pulled in front of her, and she laid on the horn, pronouncing a curse on all taxi drivers.

“Idiot.” She turned to me. “How much longer do you think he will stay in New Hampshire?” Her brow was creased. “You aren’t going to try to keep two households going forever, are you?”

I exhaled heavily. “It’s a really good job, Mom. And he likes the change of pace and the new responsibilities. It’s only been two months.”

“Yes, but the inconvenience has to be wearing on you both. It must be quite a hassle maintaining two residences, not to mention the expense, and then all that time away from each other.” She paused but only for a moment. “I just don’t see why he couldn’t have found something similar right here in New York. I mean, don’t all big hospitals have the same jobs in radiology? That’s what your father told me. And he should know.”

“Just because there are similar jobs doesn’t mean there are similar vacancies, Mom.”

She tapped the steering wheel. “Yes, but your father said . . .”

“I know Dad thinks he might’ve been able to help Brad find something on Long Island but Brad wanted this job. And no offense, Mom, but the head of environmental services doesn’t hire radiologists.”

She bristled. I shouldn’t have said it. She would repeat that comment to my dad, not to hurt him but to vent her frustration at not having been able to convince me she was right and I was wrong. But it would hurt him anyway.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” I added. “Don’t tell him I said that, okay? I just really don’t want to rehash this again.”

But she wasn’t done. “Your father has been at that hospital for twenty-seven years. He knows a lot of people.” She emphasized the last four words with a pointed stare in my direction.

“I know he does. That’s really not what I meant. It’s just Brad has always wanted this kind of job. He’s working with cancer patients. This really matters to him.”

“But the job’s in New Hampshire!”

“Well, Connor is in New Hampshire!” It sounded irrelevant even to me to mention the current location of Brad’s and my college-age son. Connor had nothing to do with any of this. And he was an hour away from where Brad was anyway.

“And you are here,” my mother said evenly. “If Brad wanted out of the city, there are plenty of quieter hospitals right around here. And plenty of sick people for that matter.”

There was an undercurrent in her tone, subtle and yet obvious, that assured me we really weren’t talking about sick people and hospitals and the miles between Manhattan and Manchester. It was as if she’d guessed what I’d tried to keep from my parents the last eight weeks.

My husband didn’t want out of the city.

He just wanted out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I KNOW I'M REALLY SHALLOW BUT....

I'm so excited for Dancing with the Stars. LOL!!! Since the dance portion is on Monday night I don't get to see the whole thing, but you can bet your sweet dance shoes I tune in when I can.

There's something so predictably unpredictable about the stars who suit up and take to the parquet floor that I'm riveted. Admittedly, some of the outfits are scandalous, and I try to keep the kidlets occupied doing something else, but I'm hooked.

And I have secret fantasies of twirling the night away and people texting in to vote for me. Only I'm not famous. But 4985734985 seasons from now when I finally hit the bestseller list, it could happen.

So I tried to think of a way to relate this to writing, or to life, and I totally came up empty. Haha! Maybe something will hit me when I am cheering on Kurt Warner and Kyle Massey.

Until then...who are you rooting for? Don't watch DWTS, then which "reality" show DO you watch?

Friday, October 08, 2010

F is for Friday and Favorite Lines!

Happy Friday, friends.

What's your favorite line that you wrote this week? If you're not a writer, how about a favorite line that you've read or a project you're working on?

Here's mine, from my current WIP called Organized Chaos:

Judging by the lobby filled with replicas of Grecian Olympians and fountains of little boys tinkling, I could not afford the luxury of sweating among the elite.

Your turn!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

MOMENTUM

ACFW's Novel Track is underway and I have 6000 words hammered out. I tend to write the same way I run: steady, with occasional bursts of energy. No doubt I will end up sprinting at the end. However, there are times when it doesn't quite work out that way.

When I can't find the time to be at the keyboard writing, or for whatever reason the words won't flow, I try to find ways to stay engaged in the story. In fact, I have to do this because when I take time off and ignore the WIP (as happened shortly before and after conference) it's doubly hard to orient myself when I come back.

Other ways I stay involved:

*plotting a few scenes ahead
*research
*re-reading previous chapters as time allows
*doing what my characters do (in this case, organizing)

How do you stay engaged in your story when you can't write? OR, do you keep writing until you're done with no major stops?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

TANDEM


I never thought I'd be one of those people who gets sucked in by vampire lit--but man, count me in! Coming off the heels of the novel Thirst, the novel Tandem comes at us full force once again with the people, and the un-dead, in Abbey Hills. Gives me shivers thinking how the subject matter became so real. Even if you've never read a vampire book before, give this one a shot! You'll be amazed how Christian themes are woven into the story. It's great as a stand alone, and I have a feeling you'll get sucked in just like I did.

Here's the blurb:

As obsession and loss become dark partners, how far must the people of Abbey Hills go to survive?
Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

When Amede Dastillon receives an unexpected package from Abbey Hills, she hopes it might be the key in tracking down her beloved sister, long estranged from her family. Visiting Abbey Hills seems the logical next step in her search, but Amede is unusually affected by the town, and when mutilated carcasses begin turning up again in the small community, the local law enforcement isn’t sure if they are confronting a familiar evil or a new terror.

Two women brought together by questions that seem to have no answers. Can they overcome the loss and darkness threatening to devour them—or will their own demons condemn them to an emotional wasteland?

Author Bio:

Tracey Bateman is an award-winning author of more than thirty books including Thirsty. Tracey has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since it began and served as its president for nearly two years.She lives in Missouri with her husband and four children. Visit her online at traceybateman.com.

Get your copy HERE!

Friday, October 01, 2010

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Mayan Apocalypse
Harvest House Publishers(September 1, 2010)


by
Mark Hitchcock & Alton Gansky






ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



Mark Hitchcock is the author of more than 17 books related to end-time Bible prophecy, including the bestselling 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World. He earned a ThM and PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the senior pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He has worked as an adjunct professor at DTS and has served as a contributing editor for the Left Behind Prophecy Club for five years.











Alton Gansky is the author of 30 books—24 of them novels, including the Angel Award winner Terminal Justice and Christie Award finalist A Ship Possessed. A frequent speaker at writing conferences, he holds BA and MA degrees in biblical studies. Alton and his wife reside in Southern California.









ABOUT THE BOOK



On the heels of Mark Hitchcock’s prophecy bestseller 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World comes a suspenseful novel (coauthored with bestselling novelist Alton Gansky) about the supposed expiration date of planet earth—December 21, 2012.





Andrew Morgan is a wealthy oil executive in search of the meaning of life. In his quest for answers he encounters the ancient Mayan predictions that the world will end in 2012. That the claims seem supported by math and astronomy drives him to check on them. Then he meets Lisa Campbell, an attractive Christian journalist also researching the Mayan calendar. When he learns that she is a Christian, he quickly dismisses what she has to say.



As the time draws closer to December 21, 2012, a meteorite impact in Arizona, a volcanic eruption, and the threat of an asteroid on a collision-course with earth escalate fears. Are these indicators of a global apocalypse? Will anyone survive? Does Lisa’s Christian faith have the answers after all? Or has fate destined everyone to a holocaust from which there is no escape?



Watch the book trailer:







If you would like to read the first chapter of The Mayan Apocalypse, go HERE.
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