Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Settings: So Many Places To Go

Guest post by Gail Pallotta

How relaxing to sit on a beach and watch the waves roll onto shore. No, maybe to plop down in a rocking chair and overlook distant mountains. 

 How about a day shopping in Paris? Oh yeah, that’d be nice. It might be fun to browse at an open market on a Caribbean Island or go to a Luau in Hawaii. What about walking where our ancestors walked? Find out more about ourselves. Or better yet, walk where Jesus walked. 

Even the most seasoned traveler can find new places to go. Thanks to all the writers who transport us to sites we’ve never seen or show us something different at the ones we have. We hear so much about a book’s plot and characters and rightly so, but the characters need to live in interesting surroundings.

 If a writer’s plotting a scuba diving expedition, the diver needs to see clear water, coral reefs and exotic fish and know all about boats and dive equipment. If a character is in the kitchen cooking grits while looking out a window at blue tinted mountains, that person’s in the south in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A character walking on a crowded street surrounded by high rise buildings with Times Square in the distance is in New York City. The setting also can make characters seem real when they smell newly mowed grass, watch a sunset, listen to the wind howl or feel the onset of a sudden shower.

It’s fun to sit back in a favorite easy chair or curl up on the sofa with a cup of coffee or tea with visions of new places to go and read until the heart’s content. If the character in the novel sees something the reader’s never seen, that’s traveling by book.
Do you have a favorite setting for a novel? The Civil War? The beach? Paris? Do share!

Gail’s husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with someone’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. Working as an editor and freelance writer, Gail published a couple hundred articles. While some of them are in anthologies, two ended up in museums. In 2004, the American Christian Writers Association named Gail a regional writer of the year. She recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. When she isn’t writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God’s love. She and Rick live in Georgia.

Contact Gail at pallotta[at]gailpallotta[dot]com. Visit her Web site at http://www.gailpallotta.com or her blog at http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com

Monday, June 27, 2011

Social Media Monday...?

I was honored to be mentioned today on Marji's blog as one of her top 10 favorite posts of the week. I was truly touched. You can read the post here.

I guess today was Anti-Social Media Monday. Sorry no post, please visit tomorrow. And in the meantime, enjoy these photos of kitties in cups.


But watch out, they aren't all cute and fluffy...

What are your goals for the week?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiction Friday- Rom Com

Brandi, you won!!
Check your email for info on your prize from Lisa Lickel. =)

Here is last week's story (credits at the end):

Dana H. Strauss reached out and grabbed a handful of little Tyler's shirt sleeve, successfully bringing the boy's department store antics to a halt. His sister Tina, on the other hand, still roamed free. And finding her amidst all the clothes racks would take some doing. Why she ever agreed to watch the little monsters for her old school chum was beyond her imagination. But here she was.

She stooped down digging through the rounders muttering, "When I get my hands on you..."

A throat cleared from behind her. She twisted her head and looked up at the linebacker in a suit. Not her best moment.

"Are you looking for something?"

She blinked and smiled. "A red dress. All I see is brown."

He grinned as his eyebrows twitched upward. "Is that right?" He pulled the other little terror out from behind the curtain, also known as his back. Tina's cheesy grin punched her in the stomach.

"She says she belongs to you."

Dana jumped to her feet and smoothed out her shirt. "Well, not technically. Just for today. I'm single." Heat flushed her cheeks. She did not just say that.

His mouth tipped up at the corner. "And I'm now officially late." He nudged the Tina toward her and scowled.

Dana eyed the green tie in his hand and saw his open collar. Last minute shopping. She could relate.

Only he didn't have to do it with the poster child for contraception. Ugh! If only she had as good a handle on the word 'no' as Tina did.

"Sorry you had to corral her for me, I--" Dana's words were cut short as the little girl stomped on her foot and ran in the other direction.

Dana, quickly shoved Tyler into the "hunk" and took off running in her high heels after the brat. Yes, brat, just like her mother was when she was young. Poetic justice to Dana's way of thinking. Her mad turned quickly into fear as she saw Tina exit the store's front door.

"Tina! Stop!" Dana sprinted as fast as she could in those accursed heels but the front door seemed a mile away.

A green tie floated to her feet as the man whooshed by her in a blur. Within seconds he reappeared, dragging Tina with a solid clasp of her hand.

"Th-thank you. Again."

"Don't mention it. Just uh... get these little escape artists home to their mother ASAP." He winked.

I picked up the tie from the floor and handed it to him. "Yes. I'm dropping them off right now. I'm sorry you're late for ... wherever you're going."

"Speaking of, I have to go. Job interview, big one. Sorry if I snapped at you, I'm kinda nervous."
The linebacker in JC Penney's version of Armani gave a final wave and disappeared. Dana whispered a quick prayer for her hero, limited by the kids and a ringing cell phone.

"Dana, how are the kids? Never mind, I can only imagine. I need one more big favor from you." Dana's friend rushed her words, most likely from her habitual three coffee a day habit.

"I don't know how it can get any bigger but go ahead, what do you need?"

"My boss just threw a last minute interview at me. He was supposed to give it but his daughter is in labor and this is the first grandbaby. He's on his way to get his wife and go to the hospital. I should only be a few minutes, the candidate's resume looks amazing. Can you pretty please give me a few more minutes and then bring Tyler and Tina to me at work?" Dana glanced down at the two making funny noises with their armpits and sighed.

"You owe me big, my friend."

She clicked her phone off. "Well good luck, Mr...?"

"Campbell. Mike Campbell. Thanks." He smiled at her before trotting off toward the cashier.

Dana watched him go, then strengthened her grip on each of the kids' hands and headed for the car.

Once she'd wrestled them into their seats, buckled them in, and got the doors locked, she pulled out of the lot just in time to see one Mr. Mike Campbell slide into the driver's side of a shiny, black Camry and roll up right behind her. She turned on her right blinker at the light. So did he.

Her heart quickened as his car trailed her down Rivertown. Was he following her?

The answer came all too quickly when she turned into the Golden Arches. His Camry flew by without so much as a wave. Of course. Disappointment dropped its weight onto her stomach.

Screams erupted from the backseat. No way she was going inside with those two. She pulled into the drive-thru and ordered two chocolate shakes and fries along with her Coke. That should buy her some quiet time. She needed it to work her thoughts of Mike Campbell out of her mind.

Couldn't she have met him any other day?

A sigh escaped. Today was yet another example of her infamously bad luck with men. Her friends would love this story. She'd settle for one with a happy ending. Whatever that was.

"Okay, Lord, I know you have a plan...maybe someday you'll whack me upside the head with it..."

written by: Jessica Patch, Susan, Jo, Julie Arduini, and myself

I don't know about you, but I want to read more of this! Was he going to the interview with her friend? Would he ask her to coffee afterwards? AHHH, it ended too soon. Ah well, time for the next story. Let's try another Rom Com. Jump in to play:

Brenda hoisted a bag over her shoulder, picked up her suitcase in one hand, laptop case in the other, and skittered down the aisle toward her gate. Why had she worn these accursed wedge heels instead of her comfy sneakers? She needed to be there five minutes ago. If she missed her connecting flight, she'd be stuck in new Jersey overnight. With him. . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3 Steps To Writing A Christ-Centered Novel

Please enjoy this repost today, due to my gimpy arm.  :-) Drawing winner announced Friday.

Alrighty folks, here it is.  The simple (yeah, right) steps to writing a captivating spirit-filled story.

How to write a Christ-centered novel:

1) Pray.  Ask the Lord to give you a story to tell.  Ask Him what message He would have you convey through your writing.  Always keep your time with Him a priority.  Remember: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."  When we try to skirt around spending time communing with God, often with the excuse of spending that time instead writing something to convey His message, we shoot ourselves in the foot.  For the Christian novelists, it's HIS story we want to tell.  So how can we know what that is if we don't meet with Him and spend time where we just shut up and listen?  When it's time to write a new story, first spend time being a Mary.  Sit at His feet and listen to His words of Life.  When He speaks to you through your quiet times and Bible reading, or jolts you through a sermon, song, or online devotion- hold onto that message!  If some spiritual lightbulb goes off and gives you goosebumps, that just may be the thread that He wants you to weave into your story.

2) How can that message which He impressed on your heart be illustrated in real life?  Your pastor does this in his sermons when he shares a brief personal story to underscore a bit of truth he is presenting.  Jesus did this in His parables.  You get the privilege of doing the same thing and taking it deeper, farther.  But just start by considering what situation- from your real life experiences or from hypothetical ones- would demonstrate the message God has been whispering to you? Heartache or addiction or betrayal perhaps?  Got the basic idea?  Now it's time for fun.  We get to go 'Further Up and Further In'...

3) Time to play the 'what-if' game!  Take your basic concept and really wade through it. I mean, what if it really happened?  See those purple ribbons on all those trees in the summer?  What if you really lost your child by leaving them in the car?  Depressing idea right?  We're not done yet.  Really immerse yourself in it... you walk up to your car and see your daughter through the window- what happens first?  How do you feel?

You're going to do that with your own 'what-if' scenario:

What if.... you lost everything, like Job did?  What if... your spouse was diagnosed with cancer, your husband cheated on you, your father was caught embezzeling, your daughter was abducted, your son rejected Christ, or your best friend died? (There are lots of what-ifs!)  This is where your novel will find its conception.  One or more of these ideas will take root and capture your imagination.  It may sound morbid, but allow yourself to really think about the nitty gritty of what it would be like.  Some questions to get you started:

How would you feel in that moment of discovery?  What would you say to God?  [By the way, this is where your story begins- not with the years, months, or weeks leading up to the 'event'].  What might God and/or your pastor say to you?  How would you receive it at first? What might be a catalyst to finally get through to you?[This is your Middle] How would those closest to you feel? [secondary characters/subplots] How would you get through that?  If you allowed God to have His way with you, what beautiful truth would shine forth at the end of such a dark time? [And this of course is your Ending] Hey- is it the same message God has been putting on your heart through devotions lately?  BINGO!   You've found His novel!

Congratulations.  Now what?  Why, Snowflake of course!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Social Media Monday: Lisa Lickel

Good morning. Today we are getting to know my friend Lisa. But first let me update you that I have broken my wrist. There's sure to be a blog post about it in my future, but for now I just wanted to let you know that my posts this week will probably be short and sweet. I appreciate everyone who has sent me encouraging messages. Thanks!

*Lisa is offering a giveaway at the end of this post!* 
Everybody, meet Lisa!

Hi, Michelle and friends. I'm Lisa Lickel. I've been a wife and mom to two grown-up and married sons. I started writing while I was working as a church secretary, and took the Christian Writer's Guild course, selling some articles before I graduated. I wrote my first novel for the first First Novel contest in 2004, where it made the top ten, but has made a better paper weight ever since. My husband and I live in an old house. I love history and my Kindle, the Brewers, and filling the bird feeders.

What do you write? I'm eclectic. My three (so far) published novels are mystery, women's fiction and romance; I write short stories, radio theater, had some devotionals published, some interviews, some poetry, tons of book reviews and I'm also the editor of Creative Wisconsin Magazine.

What are you working on right now? I'm working on a couple novellas for a Barbour Four-in-One with some very lovely ladies. I'm doing history, which I don't tend to like to do because I am a historian and know how hard it is to get the facts right.

How did you and I meet? The talented and lovely April Gardner, author of Wounded Spirits, introduced us when she invited me to participate in Clash of the Titles.

Any interesting stories or anecdotes about the two of us? Welllll, you've been immensely gracious about allowing me to use you as a guinea pig for First Monday Critique Clinics at Reflections In Hindsight.wordpress.com. That went over like a lead balloon, so I haven't been able to find others who are interested. You are so sweet and energetic with your belief in COTT that you gave us mugs for Christmas. A local author asked me if we were selling stuff when she saw a picture of mine.

Hey, maybe we should look into that again. :) What's the most exciting thing that has happened this year, relating to your writing? Can’t do just one LOL. My book, Meander Scar, won a Grace Award. Could knocked me over with a puff of hazelnut coffee breath that morning. I never even thought I'd get a vote, much less make it to the final round. I got a new web site that I like better than my old one. And…after a year and a half with no contract, just signed one to publish the sequel to my cozy mystery, The Gold Standard. And it’s only June.

Woo hoo! Congratulations, Lisa! How has social media affected your writing relationships and/or marketing strategy? I feel better doing those social things, Facebook here and there, network here, blog there, comment everywhere. Goodreads and Amazon profile…it still doesn't match up to going around face to face and meeting and talking to people. The readers who flock to the interviews that offer a free book don't much buy the book if they don't win a copy. Sometimes they do; absolutely; and once a free arc I sent out for reviews resulted in other sales (but no review), so…I still say pounding the pavement works best.

Awesome insight, thank you. What other advice would you give to other aspiring authors? Set some goals, write up a business plan, continue to educate yourself and network, network. I interacted with a person new to ACFW who lived within half an hour of a free workshop being given, and she decided she didn't want to come because she was beyond the proposed material. I say…if you can, go meet people. And it doesn't matter if you have an award-winning best-seller out there, you still will never know enough.

Good point! Thanks so much for sharing from your experiences with us. Can you share a snippet from your latest project?

From Oakville Chronicles:

“He’s my son. You have no idea—” Art stopped, confused. That’s what his mother had said about the farm.

“Then act like it.” Dana sat up, her eyes no longer soft, but steely. “I’m making this my business. Too many kids are lost and out of control these days because there’s no one teaching them any different. I like your folks too much to let you ditch your problems on their doorstep.”

“How dare you?” Art didn’t care that the other two customers at the lunch counter were fully engaged in their discussion.

“That’s it! I dare! I dare you to stop walking in the past and live in the present.”

Outraged, Art watched her slump back again with a little cat smile playing around those peachy lips. The smile mocked him. Art took a breath and skewered the men on the round stools with a death ray look.

How can we connect with you and get our hands on your work?  

Web  blog Facebook Goodreads Amazon author page

Group blogs: http://www.thebarndoor.net/; http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com/

Book Links:

For Healing Grace
Amazon Print
Fiction Wise
Barnes and Noble

For my cozy mystery, The Gold Standard
Barnes and Noble 

For my romantic story, Meander Scar
Amazon print
Barnes and Noble
The book is also available in Large Print.

Lisa will give away either a snuggly hand-crafted pillow case in EITHER the butterfly or coffee mug pattern OR an eReader sleeve in EITHER the notebook or alphabet pattern. Leave your email in the comments and follow my blog. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fiction Friday: Story Improv

It's that time again, folks! Ready to flex those creative muscles? Add a line to our story. I'll keep it open all weekend and sometime next week will post the results, naming all contributors. Get your typing fingers ready!

Dana H. Strauss reached out and grabbed a handful of little Tyler's shirt sleeve, successfully bringing the boy's department store antics to a halt. His sister Tina, on the other hand, still roamed free. And finding her amidst all the clothes racks would take some doing. Why she ever agreed to watch the little monsters for her old school chum was beyond her imagination. But here she was. . .

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Whatevah Wednesday

Here are the final results of last weekend's Story Improv:

Darren watched Lydia's delicate mouth curve upward when his hands encircled her tiny waist. They swayed on the dance floor, not caring that neither of them had any rhythm. The rhythm of their hearts beating together was all they needed.

Lydia closed her eyes. Finally, she was safe. When she opened them, her heart bucked into her throat. What was he doing here? Not now.

He knew her and all of her secrets. She tucked her chin into Darren's chest wishing she could telepathically explain their danger. The moment Ross recognized her, all of their work on this would be wasted.

At that moment Darren decided to try to twirl Lydia with his right hand, but his foot got in her way!

"Oh no!" Darren grabbed for Lydia but it was too late! She went sprawling across the floor, landing square on her former boyfriend's alligator cowboy boots!

Lydia has several options, cave in to fear, run away awash in embarrassment or do what she did. She hauled off and slapped Ross with all the force of a prize fighter. "You have no idea how long I've waited to do that." She made an about face, holding her head up and walked back to Darren.

The angry staccato of boots trailed her. Refusing to look back, she squared her shoulders, even as the cold sweat of fear tingled her upper lip. One step from the safety of Darren's embrace, a pinching grip seized her arm.

As nails dug into her arm, Lydia realized it wasn't Ross. Their contact had finally arrived.

"Sorry, I was late," the short brunette said as her leg angled up and around, landing across Ross's neck, taking down all six-foot two-inches of him. "Over here," she continued while straightening her earring.

Lydia jetted across the room, eyes pegged on her contact. It only took 1.5 seconds for terror to nail her feet to the wood floor as Ross gathered himself up out of the pile on the ground, threw his head back and let out an ear-popping howl. Lydia turned her wide eyes to the window--a full moon.

So it was true.


Story by: Jessica, Marji, Jerri, Jo, April, Gary, and Michelle

Thanks for playing! Come back Friday for a new Story Improv... see you then. =)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Favorite Protags: Saying Goodbye

Guest post by Amanda Flower

When you finish reading a novel, are you ever sad to see the protagonist go? Does it feel like you’re saying good-bye to a good friend? Those are signs of well-crafted main characters, like the ones in our excerpts this week.

There are many protagonists whom I’ve met in my life who have felt like old friends, and I miss them at the end of the book.

Here are eight of my favorite protagonists and their characteristics which I found most endearing as a young reader and still admire to this day:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird- Scout Finch’s imagination

2. Pride and Prejudice- Elizabeth Bennet’s wit

3. Mouse and the Motorcycle- Ralph S. Mouse’s sense of adventure

4. Charlotte’s Web- Wilbur’s loyalty

5. The Baby Sitter Club Series- Kristy Thomas’s organization skills

6. Jane Eyre- Jane Eyre’s conscience

7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- Lucy Penvensie’s bravery

8. Mandie Series- Madie Shaw’s crime solving skills

My question for you, who is your favorite protagonist?

Make sure to hop on over to COTT this week to get to know the authors of our current Clash:
Best Description of a Protagonist!

Amanda Flower is an academic librarian for a small college in Ohio. Her first novel, Maid of Murder, was released in 2010. When she is not at the library or writing her next mystery, she is an avid traveler, aspiring to visit as much of the globe as she can.

She is the author of Maid of Murder

Contact Amanda: amandaflower(at)gmail(dot)com
Amanda's Site, Blog, Facebook

Monday, June 13, 2011

Social Media Monday

It's a short post today, folks. I'm conducting STAR testing here at the Massaro Academy, and I also have a bit of summer-brain sneaking up on me. But I am thrilled with my editing progress and thankful for all of you who continue to encourage me every day. You are my peeps! So thank you April, Jessica, Casey, Pepper, Carol, Katie, Lisa, and all the rest of you out there. =)

My social media adventure began just over one year ago with the creation of this blog. I didn't know what I was doing (I can't claim expertise even now) but that didn't stop me from jumping in. In the past year, I've met so very many wonderful people, many of whom you have gotten to know in recent months through this Monday feature. My journey has included tremendous growth in my writing skills, becoming close with friends I've never set eyes on in person, having articles published, joining CWG and ACFW, and becoming Assistant Editor for Clash of the Titles. It's been an amazing year!

To celebrate, I ran a thirty-day drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift Card. And today I am tickled to announce the winner.





Woo hoo!In the coming weeks, I'll be introducing you to a few more of my online pals. But today, just take a minute to congratulate Carol and say 'hello'. Wednesday I will post the results of the weekend Story Improv so make sure and visit again--I'll be here all week! ;-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fiction Friday: Story Improv!

It's Fiction Friday! Woot! You know what that means. . .  Story Improv time!  But first another quick mention about the COTT bookclub. A Tailor Made Bride is turning out to be one of my favorite reads of the year! There's still time to join in, even if you feel you are behind (I am). Get the book anyway! You won't be sorry! Then head over to the Book Club page and add your thoughts to any of the questions that strike a chord with you. No pressure to address everything, just what you want to express about the book as you move through it.

>>Today is the last day to enter to win the $10 Amazon gift card in honor of my one-year blogiversary! Leave a comment to be entered. What better day to come out of hiding (hehe) than on Story Improv day? <<

Let the game commence:

Darren watched Lydia's delicate mouth curve upward when his hands encircled her tiny waist. They swayed on the dance floor, not caring that neither of them had any rhythm. The rhythm of their hearts beating together was all they needed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

COTT's first YA Champ: Shellie Neumeier

Shellie Neumeier has just received the honor of being named a COTT Champ with her teen novel, Driven. This is a first for COTT, having a YA title take the crown. And Shellie deserves high accolades. She had some stiff competition: Julie Carobini and her book Fade to Blue.

So how did this story come about?
"The plot [for Driven] morphed over several dinner conversations with my kids and my hubby," Neumeier says. "It started with a whole lot of what-if questions and ended with a girl, a demon, and a whole lot of forgiveness."

You can read COTT's excellent interview with Shellie here.

A clip of her winning excerpt:
Robyn can’t help but notice the handsome new guy at her school. She ignores, however, the arrival of another being at Brookfield Central High School—a demon assigned to destroy her…

Read the full blurb, along with that of her competition, here

About the book:
Robyn can’t help but notice the handsome new guy at her school. She ignores, however, the arrival of another being at Brookfield Central High School—a demon assigned to destroy her…

Robyn loves her friends, enjoys her youth group, and looks forward to meeting cute Caleb Montague. But when a caustic news reporter challenges her school’s prayer team, Robyn must choose: defend their right to meet on campus and pray for whomever they wish or back down at the principal’s request.

Now she must learn what God wants her to do. And she had better learn fast, because there’s a supernatural enemy in town whose sole mission is to stop her—no matter the cost.

Shellie's reaction:
Oh wow!! I'm wordless! Especially since, Julie's Fade to Blue has such a wonderful blurb. (Actually, I can't wait to go get her book, now:D.)

Thank you, COTT crew and Jennifer for letting me be a part of your competitions. And a big thank you to all the folks who left encouraging notes. That means so much!!

Here's what our readers had to say:

"Good work . The books you write help us go to a different place in our lives."

"Both blurbs are very appealing. I have to say that if I was a teenager I would be more attracted to "A", but because I'm older and love anything to do with art "B" is my choice. Very Close!"

"I'm wanting to know just how big a role this demon plays in the story. I've always been fascinated by books that give glimpses into the spiritual realm. (i.e. Frank Peretti, Randy Alcorn")

Visit Shellie Neumeier's website to find out more about her and her writing. Then visit Amazon to get a copy of Driven.

Congratulations, Shellie!!

Make sure to hop on our to the Clash of the Titles Book Club to join the fun discussion on Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride. (In July, we'll dive into Elleanor Gustafson's novel, The Stones.)

And if you'd like to get your vote on, head over to COTT for their current Clash and BE HEARD (not to mention be entered to win a free copy of a contending title.)

COTT Assistant Editor Michelle Massaro is married to her high school sweetie, Mike, and they have four amazing children. They attend Living Truth Christian Fellowship in Corona, CA where they are involved in teaching the youth- primarily about origins science- and where Michelle is involved in the worship ministry. Michelle is also a new homeschooling parent and an aspiring author of contemporary Christian fiction. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end!

Contact Michelle: michelle_massaro(at)hotmail(dot)com
Michelle's Blog Find Michelle on Facebook.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Social Media Monday: Spotlight

So far you've met Jessica Patch, Jennifer Slattery, April Gardner, Elaine Cooper, Elizabeth Veldoom, Becki Reiser, and Donna Pyle. Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a few more wonderful writers I've been getting to know online recently.

Ane Mulligan- Ane writes "southern-fried fiction". Isn't that a great tagline? Ane is an editor with Novel Journey and a humor columnist for Afictionado. She also serves on the ACFW Operating Board. If you are a member of ACFW, you will recognize Ane's name from the email loop. She is always quick to answer a question and help out a fellow writer. Something else cool about Ane? Not only does she write, she's also a theater buff! Ane, we gotta go see a play one day. There's a great little dinner theater not too far from me. I'd love to take you. Ring me up next time you're in So Cal. =)

Katie Ganshert- Katie is a work-at-home mamma who has a knack for bringing out the writing bug in her young students. She's got a great blog with plenty of advice for up and coming authors like me, and she's got such a friendly countenance . Katie is just on the other side of the second hill in the climb to publication, having found representation by Rachelle Gardner and landed a book deal! Woot! Her debut novel will be released next May through Waterbrook Multnomah.

Carol Moncado- Carol is a great messenger buddy who is always there to be a sounding board when you need one. She's also editor in chief at Pentalk Community Blog, and we've joked now about how formal we both were when we first "met" online because of that title. Carol is a very approachable, down to earth kind of gal that puts you right at ease. Her favorite place to write? Panera! I love that. If you're ever up late at night thinking nobody is around to answer a question on the loop or bounce an idea off of, chances are high that Carol is up working on critting your WIP while she waits for her 3 yo to stop wandering out of his bedroom and finally go to sleep... for reals!  =)

Who are some of your favorite people online? Share a name, and remember there are still 5 days left to enter my $10 Amazon card drawing by leaving a comment and following my blog.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fiction Friday: Review of Margaret Brownley's A Vision of Lucy

Can you believe it is really June? The weather is warmer and the sun is staying up late, but I can't say I'm prepared for summer yet. We've got a few more weeks of school left and then it will be all about sleeping in, going to the pool, and visiting Sea World and the Zoo. I'd love to go to Hawaii instead, but with a family of six, even a weekend up to San Diego takes some careful budget planning. We'll have a blast though, showing Trevor all the neat animals and staying overnight in a hotel. We plan to get two adjoining rooms to accomodate all of us and I think the kids will enjoy that.

Of course I'll also be doing some summer reading. =)  I started with A Vision of Lucy and also can't wait to dig into my TBR pile (it's growing cobwebs, I think I'm over-committed.)  If you haven't already added Lucy to your gotta-have-it list, check out my review below and see what you think.

A Vision of Lucy

Lucy Bradshaw dreams of working as a photographer at the Rocky Creek newspaper. If she can earn money making photographs, then maybe her father will see that what she does is worthy, more than just a distraction. And her deepest hope is that he'll see her as an artist, the way he thought of her deceased mother, a painter. But trouble follows Lucy on every photo shoot: a mess of petticoats and ribbons, an accidental shooting, even a fire.
When Lucy meets David Wolf, a quiet, rustic man who lives on the outskirts of town, she thinks she can catch the attention of the town with his photograph. She doesn't count on her feelings stirring whenever she's near him.

Two things happen next that forever change the course of her life: Lucy meets someone who sees her as no one else has-as the compassionate, creative young woman that God made in His image. And Lucy helps David uncover a secret that forces him to change his perspective on an event that left him deeply-scarred. God's arms are around this unlikely couple as they discover the truth about long-held assumptions and the importance of forgiveness.

My review:
This is book three in Margaret Brownley's Rocky Creek Romance Series but it was a first for me. I enjoyed Margaret's fun story world and the way she took the deep topics of racial prejudice and women's right to vote, and mixed it with the comedy of a town full of quirky characters and a girl always seeming to get into trouble and come away with a tear in her dress. The poignant and painful subjects are delivered without an abundance of angst making it a great summer read. I would happily read the other two books in the series and recommend the book for anyone who enjoys historicals, comedies, romances, or Chrisitan Fiction in general.

I give this book 3.5/4.0 stars

Thank you to the author for providing me a copy of this book for review.

I love seeing my besties drop by and I love making new friends. If you are usually a lurker, I want to meet you! In honor of my 1 year Blogoversary, for 7 more days, when you comment on any post on my blog, you will be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. If you mention me and link back here on your own blog, you'll be entered a second time. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Whatevah Wednesday: Writer's Helps and COTT Bookclub

Hi guys (and gals)! June is here--school's almost out, the weather is warming up, (and Clash of the Titles is launching its summer bookclub. More below).

I've been wittling away at my redraft and am happy to say I am now about halfway through it. At this rate I should have no problem finishing it in time for the ACFW conference and for entering the OFN contest again in September. I am learning so so much. Last year at this time, I felt I was growing leaps and bounds but now? ... now I've come so far that it's hard to imagine I ever finished this novel without those skills. I've come across two awesome resources that every writer simply must check out and bookmark:

The Bookshelf Muse- (thesaurus for emotion descriptions, setting descriptions, and all kinds of insights for facial expressions and visceral responses)

Deanna Carlyle's 1000 Verbs to Write By- (an exhaustive list of descriptive ways to have your characters walk, sit, stand, put, etc)

Looking for some encouragement? Check out Jessica Patch's blog. Her current devotional series is insightful and uplifting.

Want to know how to navigate Twitter? Kristen Lamb's blog is just the place for you.

Need to find some good summer reads? COTT will show you what books readers are enjoying.

You can even participate in the COTT Summer Bookclub and connect with other lovers of Christian Fiction to read and discuss an award-winning title. I've never been part of a book club before, so this will be a new experience for me. It should be fun since our first book is by COTT champ Karen Witemeyer. I can't wait to dig in to A Tailor-Made Bride. Who out there is going to join me?

What are you doing today?

I love seeing my besties drop by and I love making new friends. If you are usually a lurker, I want to meet you! For 9 more days, when you comment on any post on my blog, you will be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. If you mention me and link back here on your own blog, you'll be entered a second time. Have a great week!