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...

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Birth of Characters

This week, COTT is featuring a Clash of Leading Ladies. But just how are interesting characters born? Here's one author's experience. Welcome Carol Moncado.

Do you ever wonder how authors come up with their characters? I've heard of authors who fashion their main characters after a barista at their favorite coffee shop or some guy on the bus who looked interesting. The further I get into my writing journey, the more I find my characters often come from real life. For instance:
The weekend before Easter, I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy - where half your face just stops working. Fun.
Not really, but it's great story fodder. That's me. The story is one I started recently.

She was wearing an eye patch.
At church.
On Easter.
It might have been what drew my attention to her, but it wasn't what kept it. She stood there, singing along with the praise and worship band, her hands raised. Worshiping her Maker with abandon. But only half of her face worked. The whole thing lit up but only half of it moved. The half with the eye patch seemed to be paralyzed, but it didn't bother her.A pink eye patch.
Now, to be fair, the heroine is younger, skinnier, with darker, straighter hair than me, but that's where the idea for her came from.
In February, Travis [one of the shift managers at my favorite Panera] informed me I needed to name a character after him. Travis-with-the-faux-hawk became the hero in a manuscript.

I flopped into the recliner and ran my hands over my face until my fingers furrowed rows in my faux-hawk. The one that made the kids think I was way cooler than I really was.

But Travis won't see his name in print. A week ago, he was in a car accident. At age 22, he left this life - leaving behind the love of his life and two children.
I'm deeply saddened by news of Travis' passing. To me he was more than 'just' a shift manager at the Panera I frequent. He was a nice guy I loved to chat with. Another manuscript I planned to work on is about a widow. That's all I knew until last week. Now, she's a widow with young children a few years after a senseless tragedy.
Twenty-two is too young to be a widow.
Bethany Sheer knew this with absolute certainty.
And even though twenty-two had passed her three years earlier – along with her husband, the love of her life and the father of her two children – she remembered all too clearly what the pain tearing through the heart of the young woman on the news felt like.
Someday, I hope to be able to share Travis-with-the-faux-hawk with his family. To let them know that he touched my life. That he inspired a character in a novel – and so did they.
Because the best inspiration is what we find all around us.

When she's not writing about her imaginary friends,Carol Moncado is hanging out with her husband and four kids in the big yard of her southwest Missouri home, teaching American Government at a community college, reading, or watching NCIS. You can follow her ramblings on her blog .

 **Be sure to head over to Clash of the Titles and cast your vote today!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

COTT Spotlight on Delia Latham


I love those private moments when He cuddles me to His heart and reassures me that I am His, and that I'm special to Him.
~ Delia Latham

Welcome, Delia! It's a pleasure starting off our day off visiting with you. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Do I have to go directly to jail if I confess to rarely eating breakfast?  I've never been a fan of breakfast foods. To make it even worse, I usually get out of bed and feel my way to the refrigerator (instead of the coffee pot) for my wake-me-up Dr. Pepper. Oh, no! I think I just heard the clang of a slamming jail cell...

Uh-oh, lol. I'll give you a place to hide when you go on the lam. So after that can of morning law-breaking, you must then head for the closet to get dressed. Would you consider yourself a skirt, jeans, or sweats kinda gal?

Sweats when I'm home with no company expected and no errands to run. Jeans otherwise. And, although you didn't ask, bare feet.

I'm addicted to socks personally. Preferably fuzzy ones. But besides our feet, we probably look a lot alike in the outfit department. Nice to know I can dress casual if I ever visit your house. Which makes me wonder... If you were having me over for dinner, what would you be serving?

Hmmm...good question, since I'm not the cook in my family. My husband does that, and loves it. (Am I blessed? Oh, yes, I am!) Off the top of my head, I'd say you might be dining on his famous chili verde burritos. They're mmm-mmm good! Dessert would be chocolate Heavenly Hash, which is a scrumptious concoction made of chocolate pudding, cool whip, and...I'm not even sure what else is in there, but you're going to love it! And, since it's you, it would all be served on a silver platter - my contribution to the meal. LOL

Oh Yum! I think I'll bring the whole fam. They might get bored of our book talk though. Can you tell me, of the books you've had published, which is nearest and dearest to your heart?

Come now, darling...surely you wouldn't ask a mother which is her favorite child?  But, for the sake of cooperation, I'll just say that the new baby always gets the most attention. Of my older "children," however, I think Goldeneyes is probably the most "like" me. A vintage romance (set in 1936 and 1959), it is set partially in Weedpatch, the tiny, California farming community where I grew up. How could it not have a little of my own heart and soul written into its pages?

That sounds amazing! Can't wait to read it. =) COTT is lucky to have such a talented writer on staff. How long have you been on staff at Clash of the Titles and what do you envision for its future?

I don't think it's been quite a year yet. Seems like I started about the beginning of August 2011. As for its future, I see COTT becoming a very important cog in the wheel for helping authors get noticed. It's already becoming known within the writing field, and has enjoyed participation by some widely recognized authors. I can't help believing COTT will become one of the places on which authors look forward to claiming a spot, and the Laurel Award could easily become one of the sought-after crowns (ummm...laurels?) of achievement within the industry. I honestly believe we have the potential for that kind of success, because everyone on staff truly cares about our authors and their success. I'm so proud to play a small part behind the scenes!

Sounds like a bright future for COTT and we love you being a part of our family of staff. We love your sweet spirit and the way Jesus shines through you. When do you feel closest to God?

When I'm alone with Him...shut in with God, in a "secret place," as the old hymn goes. Just me and the Lover of my soul. I love those private moments when He cuddles me to His heart and reassures me that I am His, and that I'm special to Him. Even though I know He gives that same assurance to many others, it's absolutely true for each of us. He loves us all the most.

Ah, that is so beautiful. Love it. Thank you, Delia, that was so wonderfully well-put. You have such a way with words. And on that note, tell us about the last book you had the pleasure of seeing reach reader's hands.

That would be Gypsy's Game - Book Three in the Solomon's Gate series...and it reached reader's hands only last Friday, March 16! I'm very excited about Gypsy's story, and can't wait to start hearing what readers think. Here's what it's about:

Gypsy Lovell stands to inherit an enormous amount of money from a father who never gave her anything but a ridiculous name. Even now, he doesn’t make it easy. A stipulation in the man’s will demands that Gypsy be married in order to claim what is hers.

Desperate for the monetary windfall that could save her ailing mother’s life, Gypsy visits a Christian dating agency, hoping to find a temporary husband. Someone easy to handle for the required six months, and easy to get rid of when she no longer needs him.

Jal Garridan is neither of those things, but he's willing to take on the challenge presented by the beautiful stranger—on his own terms.

What Gypsy doesn’t know is that Solomon’s Gate is a dating agency with a Divine connection. What she finds there may save more than her mother’s life. It may save Gypsy’s soul.

I must  admit, there's a certain melancholy that goes along with knowing this book will most likely be the last time I'll swing open the giant portals of Solomon's Gate. But then...only God knows the future...perhaps He hasn't thrown away the key.

The first in that series was one of our summer book club selections and it was a great read! I'm looking forward to continuing the series, and I hope our readers will head over to Amazon to check it out too. They won't be disappointed! 

Thank you so much for chatting with us this morning. Go grab another Dr. Pepper and have a wonderfully productive day. And readers, be sure to visit www.clashofthetitles.com for the latest Clash and giveaway. 

Have a blessed day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Whoa, Back The Train Up! Genesis and stuff...

Wow, what a day! I got the call on Wednesday around 10:15 a.m. I was getting ready to leave the house at the time. Pam Meyers was on the other line. I didn't dare to presume or even hope. Maybe there was a problem with a score sheet. Maybe something got lost in cyber space. Maybe she needed a favor or who knows what.

But no.

She did indeed inform me that my entry had made Semi-Finals. I capitalize that because it makes it look more impressive. (It does, doesn't it?)

I "SQUEEEEE"'d on the phone. I giggled, I thanked her. She told me about the next round and dates I'd hear back, but I barely heard any of that. I did pluck out that "Mum" was the word (publicly) until the official announcement went out.

I bit my lip and ran to my husband's home office (i.e. the garage) and did a Snoopy Dance. I blurted out the news. I twirled in a circle. I told my home-schooled daughter. But I was late for an errand! I texted at stop lights and squee'd with my besties.

The rest of the day was spent texting and squealing in between the regular "mom" stuff like taking my toddler to the potty and making lasagna and checking throats of the suffering sickies.

When the official email finally came through, the party began. Virtual of course. One friend and myself talked about feeling like one of the "cool kids", as the congratulations poured in. Even from some "big names". I got to see who else finaled, and be overwhelmed all over again by the company I was in. Every two minutes another slew of notifications came in from well-wishers. I'm still not caught up. It hasn't stopped even today. And you know what?

I love it!

I love that I have such a fantastic group of friends and supporters to celebrate with me. I didn't expect this and I'm flabbergasted. Awed. Humbled. Thrilled.

My heart is tender toward those who didn't make it, because that was me last year. But I redrafted and reworked and learned and grew, and this time...

I'm a SEMI-FINALIST in the Contemporary Fiction category of the ACFW's Genesis contest 2012.

Woo Hoo! Yeah baby! For my BFF's who have cried with me and cheered with me, thank you so much. Love you! For those who are bummed because you didn't make it, don't give up!

Now begins the horrible wait to see if, by some small chance, I make to Finals. Gah! Dare I hope? Oh, I dare! May 28th is the day marked on the calendar. 

Well that's all I wanted to share with you today! Thank you for stopping by!! =)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Current Covers Clash

Your Clash Hostess:  Gail Pallotta

Clash of the Titles has a great selection of books in our give away this week. Shelley Adina will donate a copy of Lady of Devices, Keven Newsome offers a choice between a signed print copy of Winter OR two e-books, one of Winter and one of Aquasynthesis. James Rubart gives away a copy of The Chair

Wow! Vote in order to enter. You'll find the voting box below. You can also leave a comment on any COTT post or on our Facebook page. Multiple entries encouraged!

Many times we hear a word or phrase and another comes to mind. The two go together so well we can’t think of one without recalling the other. Some easily recognized pairs come from life experiences, others from songs, books or movies.

Here are a few to complete just for fun.

A  song:  “Love and Marriage.”
“Love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a  _____ and _____.”  According to Wikipedia, this tune was introduced by Frank Sinatra in the 1955 television rendition of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. It aired on Producers Showcase.

Something we eat. 
Hot apple pie and ____ _____. No one eats apple pie without it, do they?

Movie stars often cast together: Doris Day and _____ ______.
Three of their 1962 movies, “Pillow Talk,” “ Lover Come Back” and “Send Me No Flowers,” are available today in a romance collection.

From Books and Television:
The Hardy Boys / _____ ______. This series was based on two series published by Edward Stratemeyer.

A heroine in a book. Her name is in the title. 
 ______ of Green Gables. This book was published in 1908 by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Originally written for all ages, recently it’s been considered a  children’s book. Since publication it’s sold 50 million copies, and is taught to students  worldwide. It’s been adapted to film, television and stage.

The prey in a tale of the sea.  
Captain Ahab and the great white_____. Published in 1851 by Herman Melville, this is  one of the great American novels. It tells the story of Ishmael, a sailor on a ship named  Pequod.

A character in a novel.  Miss Scarlett in _____ _____ ___ _____. Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer prize for the  novel in 1936. The movie, considered a classic epic film today, premiered in 1939.

Answers: 1. Horse, carriage  2. Ice cream  3. Rock Hudson  4. Nancy Drew  5. Anne 6. Whale  7. Gone with the Wind

That was fun. Now vote for your pick in the cover and book blurb Clash.

When we read the blurbs, do the images on the front of the books come to mind and vice versa? If so, which of these go together best? Later when you think of what the book blurb has to say, will you see the cover in your mind’s eye?   

Please vote for one.
Cover and Blurb A

We're all freaks. It's just a matter of perspective. 

Winter Maessen didn’t ask for the gift of prophecy. She’s happy being a freak – but now everyone thinks she’s crazy. Or evil. Goths aren’t all the same, you know. Some are Christians…

Christians to whom God sends visions.

Students at her university are being attacked, and Winter knows there’s more than flesh and blood at work. Her gift means she’s the only one who can stop it – but at what price?

Cover and Blurb B

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world. 

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head.
It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . .

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

Cover and Blurb C
If someone gave you a chair and said it was made by Jesus Christ, would you believe them? 

When an elderly lady shows up in Corin Roscoe's antiques store and gives him a chair she claims was crafted by Jesus, he scoffs. But when a young boy is miraculously healed two days after sitting in the chair, he stops laughing and starts wondering . . . could this chair heal the person whose life Corin destroyed twelve years ago? 

As word spreads of the boy's healing, a mega-church pastor is determined to manipulate Corin into turning over the chair. And that mysterious woman who gave him the piece flits in and out of his life like a shadow, insinuating it's Corin’s destiny to guard the chair above everything else. But why? 

Desperate, he turns to the one person he can trust, a college history professor who knows more about the legend of the chair than he'll reveal. Corin's life shatters as he searches for the truth about the artifact and the unexplained phenomena surrounding it. What’s more, he's not the only one willing do almost anything to possess the power seemingly connected to the chair.

Please vote below, and don't forget to enter to win one of these great books.

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