Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish all my American readers a very happy Thanksgiving weekend!!!

I've been taking a blog break recently and will continue to do so until Monday. I see many others are, too. May we all have a wonderful family time and also be productive in the writing end of things too.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Blog Hop for You with a Giveaway

Writing is calling to me--actually, it's more like proof reading is calling to me, but I got hold of this great character interview and a giveaway opportunity for Deep Cover by Sandra Orchard on Noelle Marshand's blog that I thought I'd pass the link and opportunity on.

I hope you'll head over there and see just how interesting Ginny really is. For those who have read Sandra Orchard's Deep Cover, I'm curious, did you envision Ginny to look like the picture posted on Noelle's blog?

May your day be productive and good luck on any giveaways you've entered as of late!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Needed Muscle

Have you ever worked through something that felt like drudgery?

Like losing those last five unwanted pounds.

Yup, that's me, and I feel like giving up. Why is it that I can force myself through hours, days, months of drudgery working on a wip, but being disciplined in the food intake department is too much of a challenge for this old bird?

But since this is supposed to be a Motivation Monday post, I did some research on how to fix my dilemma.

Since I can't cut calories anymore and continue to eat healthy, I've decided to go the exercise route. Did you know that for every pound of muscle you build it burns 35 to 50 calories a day. So if I can convert just 10 of my fat pounds into muscle, that'll burn an extra 350 to 500 calories per day. With Christmas around the corner, it'd sure be nice to be able to enjoy a few morsels of festive treats without packing on more weight.

Did you also know that there are many health bonuses to creating muscle? All the more reason to gain some of that lean muscle mass.

So who's going to join me in doing a little weight training and toning? I don't want to be alone. If you have some favorite exercises, I'd love to hear about them.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Here in Canada we call Veteran's Day Remembrance Day. On and around November 11th we wear Poppies on our lapels and see memorial wreaths displayed in the foyers of stores and malls to remind us of those who fought and those who gave their lives to secure our freedom in this world.

I struggle with the concept of war, but they even existed in biblical times so I know God is overseeing them somehow. I would like to believe that something good comes out of every war. That God makes sure of that. But in the midst of all the bloodshed and loss, it's not easy to hold fast to that belief. But still, when we look at the bigger picture, I do see that freedom is worth fighting for. I just wish the fighting was of a more peaceful manner.

Do you ever wonder if when we get to heaven if there'll still be differences to fight for? As a fiction writer I'm forced to dream up conflicts and tension because that's what keeps the story interesting. Life would be pretty boring if we all saw things through the same perspective and agreed with each other 24/7. If heaven is full of peace, does that mean we'll be bored out of our skulls? Or will we have finally figured out how to debate and fight for what we believe in a peaceful way? 

I wonder. I really do. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Okay, so on a less perplexing note, if you look closely you'll notice that the previous two pics posted this week are within this grand finale picture of my kitchen bay window. Everything I do is a work in progress and this window took the majority of the week to do. I think I'm finally satisfied with how this display looks. Washing dishes isn't near so boring now. What shall I decorate next? The mantel? The living room? Or perhaps the front porch?

Did you decorate anything this week? And may you take a moment today to lift those who have fought for us in prayer and for us to discover peaceful ways to fight for freedom and justice in this world.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goals are Depressing

Please forgive me, but for this Writer's Wednesday post I'm going to be a bit of a pessimist.

The only goals I seem to be able to achieve these days are outside of writing. I can start my writing day with my daily devotional from Our Daily Bread, which by the way is a wonderful way to start any day!! And I can even do a bit of decorating each day. But beyond that my goals seem to be geared around writing lately and I never seem to meet those goals.

Weeks ago I thought I'd be done the revisions I felt were necessary on my wip (work in progress). And it's not that I've been procrastinating, or dilly-dallying, either. Each day I put solid hours into this story and each day I come out a page or two ahead. A PAGE OR TWO.

And to top it off, just when I think I've gotten over the hump and will run right into a scene or two that shouldn't need revising at all, BAM, it's all crap again. Seriously, and I'm not being ridiculously hard on myself, either. I must have been living in dream land when I did my full read through and thought (in comparison to what I know now) that there was minimal work to be done to smooth it all out.

So I've given up on setting a goal date for this story to be fully polished. Instead, I'm switching my writing goal to putting a minimum of three solid hours in on this manuscript each day (which I've been doing so far) and let it be done when it's done. Not easy when I have new characters fighting for the stage right now and bless them, they want a Christmas setting for their romance. Maybe by the time the snow falls thick and heavy here I'll actually get to dig into their story, but until then, please Lord, help me revise, rewrite, smooth, go back and patch a little more, and finally polish to a gleaming shine this current wip I'm determined to finish. Amen. 

What's the longest time you've ever taken to revise/polish a novel? Did you do it in the allotted time you had initially set for the task?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, November 7, 2011

Balance, Anyone?

Okay, I'm in Christmas decorating mode. But I'm also still really busy with revisions, so I'm having to hold myself back. Anyone else suffering with me? Thinking of all you Nanowrimo contributors out there. Feeling your pain.

As my hubby often has to remind me, "Balance is important". It is, I know, and when hubby says this I know I'm too heavy on the writing and not enough on everything else that is important to me. So, since we have several Christmas parties planned for December at our house and I don't want to be rushed to decorate the day before the first event I'm committing a bit of time each day in November (which might only consist of 5 minutes on a given day, but at least it's something) to getting the house ready. To keep me on track, my post pictures from now until Christmas will be of my decorating ventures. Many will be totally unrelated to my blog topic, but hey, at least they'll be seasonally appropriate. And my prayer is that they help fill you with the Spirit of Christmas.

When I see beauty in the world  I see Christ.
When I see twinkle lights, I see the Star of David.

I know many think that seasonal decorating is just commercialism. And Christmas decorations have nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, and I can certainly see their perspective. But to me, decorating in a festive way is how I recognize the importance of the season. It makes me Christ centered. So as I open up the boxes of stored trinkets and lights to celebrate Jesus' birth, I also fill shoe boxes and contribute to baskets for those less fortunate. I support the Angel trees in the malls. And I dream of one day getting myself over to a soup kitchen and volunteering there (that's the getting-out-of-my-comfort-zone challenge I have yet to achieve.)

What about you? How do you bring balance to your life in the midst of the Christmas or as some like to call it, the Holiday season?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, November 4, 2011

What Ever Happened to Christmas?

Hubby and I were driving home from shopping for our daughter's birthday gift yesterday and as we were stopped at traffic lights, I noticed workers changing an advertising sign outside Home Depot. You know, the kind where they slide one letter in at a time?

Well, the words "Get a new kitchen before" had already been spelled out. As we sat at the light I anticipated seeing them spell "Christmas" next, but sadly "the h" got slid in just before we proceeded through the green light.

My heart sank as I realized they'd taken the politically correct route and chosen to refer to Christmas as "the holidays." When did "Christmas" become a word only used in Churches? And how did we let this happen?
Any suggestions on how we can bring "Christmas" back onto our streets?

P.S. Did you know there are only 51 days now until we celebrate the birth of our Saviour this year?

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Taking the Plunge

Dare I admit that I've sent out a submission?
Patting myself on my back here. I really did! Pinching myself now.

See, if you're like me and the whole self-confidence or lack thereof is an issue, it's not easy to share such a milestone. But there you have it, I've sent a partial out, and you betcha that I'm praying all over it, and praying for a healthy dose of toughness, too.

They say you're not a writer until you've received a hundred rejections. Well, maybe not a hundred, but you know what I mean. Now I've only received two rejections so far in this near nine-year writing journey of mine, and to be honest, one I sent in those very early years when I was way too naive so I don't consider it a serious submission. And I thank the Good Lord for it being rejected!

The other I sent in a rush because I heard this particular house was "hurting" for manuscripts. Now, that story I'd spent a good number of years working on, so the rejection that came did hurt, even if I suspected it would be the outcome despite the years of work I'd done on it. Deep inside I knew I still wasn't ready for publication nor was my writing at that time.

But this time, I feel like this story has real potential. I'm guarding my heart and running through a slew of reasons why a rejection might come back. Not near touching all of them here, but here's a small sampling:

  • Your getting there, but your writing just isn't strong enough yet.
  • Not a good fit for our readership. Your heroine's too sassy.
  • Your characters are two-dimensional. 
  • Your plot is weak. 
  • Sorry, already bought a similar one.

Need I go on? 

So as I prepare myself for my next rejection, I'm also preparing myself for a miracle! I like to burn candles at both ends it would seem.

I continue to polish and re-polish this manuscript as I wait, and will move onto a new project soon--a sequel to this story. And I'm looking forward to taking Deborah Raney's ACFW Loop Course, The Business End of Writing.

If you're interested in joining me in taking this homework-free course, you can sign up by going to and logging on. Click "Get Connected" on the top bar. Choose E-loops and subscribe to the ACFW Course Loop.

Hope to see you there!
Surrendering to Him,   

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

May your evening be spooktacularly terrific!

Surrendering to Him,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Twelve Hours Ago . . .

I knelt on the cold, sandy arena floor holding my baby.

Praising God that I can write this post today.

Hubby rarely does barn duty with me and the girls, but last night he did. There the two of us got chatting with other barn parents of horse-loving kids as our youngest daughter took Donner into the indoor arena to begin her ride.

We positioned ourselves outside the viewing window just before hubby blurted, "Oh no."

My eyes locked through the Plexiglas window on a child hanging sideways on a cantering horse.

Our child.

On our seventeen-hand horse acting nothing like himself.

As we bolted to the arena door we heard a sickening crash and thud. (Ten years as a horse mom has me hearing a lot of these, and every time my heart stops, then quickly reboots.)

First line of vision is our horse prancing toward the other end of the arena. His reins aren`t dangling. He`ll be okay.

The coach and hubby are at Cassandra`s side. I can see her legs flayed up against the side board. I zero in on her knees. Please God don`t let them have dislocated again.

They`re okay. Both knees of my near-crippled-child-of-late are safely positioned. Thank you, Lord!

I turn to retrieve our horse who is now in the thick of ponies with their mounted riders at the far end of the arena.

"Eileen!" Not hubby`s voice.

Panic sears me. That`s the coach`s, Laura`s, voice. She never asks for parents to come until the child is up and walking. Phil`s already breaking the cardinal rule of "stay away until she's up".

Her imploring glare has me buckle over.

". . . your daughter." I don`t know how, but now the coach is behind me and I`m kneeling over my baby girl.

I either thought she was dead or I took her seizure as a sign of no spinal injuries. I turned her contorted torso to hold her head in my lap. "Don`t move her," ricocheted off the side board from numerous people.

Stupid me. But there was no way I was going to let go of my baby now. All I could do was keep her as still as possible in the position I had her. Cradled in my lap and arms.

"She`s seizing." I cried. Her ashin face bold against the stark black helmet. Her eyes open, but not seeing.
Tremors worked her otherwise lifeless body.

People gathered. But I saw none of them.

I wrapped her soul more than her body in my arms for fear of injuring my girl more. "Dear Heavenly Father I ask you to heal my girl. Bring her back to us, Lord. Please God, heal my baby. In Jesus His precious name please God bring her back to us." It felt like minutes/hours that I prayed aloud over my baby.

The tremors ceased.

Praise God! He listened. He answered the way I wanted Him to! Praise God!

But Cassandra still didn`t come back to us.

"Cassandra, do you hear me?"

"Cassandra, Mommy's holding you, do you feel pain anywhere?"

"Cassie, do you feel your toes?"

Then her tears came.

Then sobbing. Precious, lovely sobbing. My girl could sob all day if she wanted to now. She was making her way back to us!

"Thank you, Lord!"

As I write this post, I'm tucked into our comfy round chair in our home and Cassandra is sitting on our curved couch across from me working on an assignment. Crayons rush rapidly over paper to colour a treasure box for a school project. She has a badly beaten tail bone, not broken. Praise God! She has a headache that prescribed Motrin is tackling. She's alive. She's all that she was before this incident, just a little worse for wear. And I'm still praising God!

We spent over four hours in ER last night. Of which near three of those hours Cassandra lay bruised and hurting secured to a board for fear of spinal injuries. Her butt hurt, and I loved hearing every complaint her sweet voice rang out while we waited. It's not every day a mother can say that!

The Doctor has assured us that her seizure was a response to her head injury. There is no reason to be concerned that she may have Epilepsy unless she experiences another seizure without obvious cause.
We are gifted with yet another day to raise our three precious daughters, and I'm PRAISING GOD!!

May we all see the beauty in every mundane complaint that our children and loved ones cry out. It is a gift. And after last night, I choose to praise God for it!!!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is Wordiness a Part of Your Writer's Voice?

Okay this picture has nothing to do with my question, but isn't Emma just so cute? She's forever finding tight nooks to curl up into and this time it's my Hawaii bag that I see has my missing pencil case in it. So that's where it's been hiding! Thanks, Emma!

Do you ever do brainstorming with a writing buddy? Well, I did that right after my devotional time this morning and this particular fabulous writer, who is the queen of tightness, had also suggested I send her something of mine to read.

Okay, I'm going to be completely honest here (not that I'm not always honest, I just usually choose carefully what honesty to disclose on-line, like I'm sure we all do for good reason) but I hummed and hawwed over whether or not to send those chapters because . . . well, I'm wordy, and she's JUST NOT! Now I love this writer's stories, so however she tightens her writing it works wonderfully for me, but when I try to tighten my stories like she does I feel like something gets lost along the way, and that's what made me ask myself "Can wordiness be a part of my writer's voice?"

I suggested in my email that she's busy (she is on deadline afterall), so to not critique but rather just point out any glaring issues she might discover along the way of reading my manuscript. I'm feeling especially weak today, I guess. Told my hubby I think I'm PMSing and he suggested he was having sympathy pangs of it, too, so there'll be no consoling hugs this week, I suspect. :(

Even as I write this I sit in trepidation suspecting that she's going to tear that baby to shreds. And if she does I know it will be a blessing, even if it leaves me scarred and with mega work ahead. Am I alone, or do others feel this same angst when they send their work off to writer's who are far superior to themselves, even after seven years of doing so and living through it? I wonder, does a writer ever get beyond that fear?

I know I have to keep pushing myself to get better. And putting our work out there to writer's below, at, and above our writing level is one of the best ways to learn and grow. But discerning how much tightening to do while protecting my own voice and style is something I grapple with on a daily basis.

So you tell me, when is wordiness just wordiness that needs to be addressed as a writer and when is it a part of your writer's voice and needs protecting?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, October 24, 2011

A Gift Unused is . . .

God's grace denied.
A profound thought. At least for me it is.
Consider the following verse:
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various form..." 1 Peter 4:10

I've always thought of God's grace as an amazing gift that I don't deserve, but so thankful to have. But never before did I really consider that I could be used as a vessel to deliver His grace to another person. According to Peter, though, we are to be faithful in administering God's grace through the gifts we are given.
We are instruments through which God extends His grace to others. Doesn't that make our responsibility to discover our gifts all the more important? It does to me.

P.S. I'm in need of this today, so I'm reposting from an October 2008 post. Hope this verse speaks to you today, too!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, October 21, 2011


Life is rarely black and white and neither are goodbye's.

Goodbye's often come with mixed emotions.

Sadness for what is lost. Anticipation for the future and what opportunities it might afford. Perhaps a portion of hurt is blended in, too. Feeling let down, cast aside, unimportant enough to keep the person around. Loneliness. An unease that makes your insides feel brittle.

How do goodbyes speak to you?

Last Sunday we said goodbye to our pastor of five years. I will miss her sermons (I can honestly say that not one of her sermons lulled me to sleep, which is far more than I can say for a few of the speakers we have had in the past), and I'll miss the understanding we were gradually building of one another. I'm not the easiest person to get to know, so trust is an exercise in patience. There are times when I feel that this chapter at our church was cut much too short, though I saw the end coming quite a while ago.

I mourn what could have been.

See, time is the most precious of gifts, I think. Given enough time a deep, special report can be built between pastor and parishioner. A respect and meaningful understanding that can work wonders in the running of God's church can be formed. But that takes time. It takes conflicts and working through them, it takes growing side by side and learning how each other ticks and respecting each other's ways.

But now that time has come to an end and we must start all over, afresh, with whoever God sends our way.

Though I trust that God is in control and what is to come is healthier for everyone involved, I still question this detour put before us. But most of all, I pray that we continue to grow together as a congregation, being an instrument through which God works in our community and beyond.

Are you mourning a loss, today? May I lift it in prayer for you?

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Kitchens

I know I've said it before that I love all seasons and that I'm always ready for the next by the time it rolls around. But one of my favourite parts of fall is the harvest. And so I have to share this recipe with you all, as it just tastes of fall to me.

As you work away at whatever you've got on your chore list this fall, I hope you'll brighten your day and scent your home with this baked Apple Torte. It's easy to put together, but looks and tastes like a well-practiced chef created it. Trust me, I'm not one of those, so if I can create this and my whole family love it, so can you!

Bavarian Apple Torte  

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 pkg (250 g) Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups peeled sliced crisp apples
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Crust: Combine butter, sugar and vanilla. Blend in flour. Spread dough on bottom and 1-inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. I use a pie pan and that works well too! Note: If you haven't planned ahead to get things to room temperature, a few seconds in the microwave does wonders!

Filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. This takes a bit, but make sure you get it good and smooth. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Spread evenly over the crust.

Topping: Combine sugar and cinnamon. Toss apples in sugar mixture. Place in pinwheel pattern over cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 F and continue baking 25 minutes longer. Cool on wire rack. Chill 3 hours before serving.

Serves: 8 (or if you're watching your delicate figure, it could easily serve 16)
Preparation time: 20 minutes (do it while pondering a plot issue to multi-task)
Baking time: 35 minutes (and in this fall air, it nicely helps to heat your home and scent it all in one)


Surrendering to Him,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Grueling work!

There's a reason I've been absent from the blogosphere and social networking for a bit. I've been hiding behind my Kindle and as a direct result of that, I've been struggling to fix the broken pieces of my manuscript.
See, I can't, seriously CAN'T, not edit my stories when I read them on a computer or even when I print them out. But when I send it to my Kindle, I find I can just input quick notes on occasion and keep moving forward with the read. Sadly, with this one, I discovered some ill-ordered scenes, missing pieces . . . still, and areas that need a whole lot of tightening yet.
When I finished the read I felt overwhelmed once more. I had such hopes that it was near perfect when I mailed that baby to my Kindle address, only to discover that in my patch-work method of editing, I'd missed a lot. Thankfully, one of my wonderful writing buddies sent me notes on how to save a manuscript. (Thanks, Sandra!)
I'm at the storyboard stage and having fun with brightly coloured (yes, I am Canadian, so that's how I spell it) sticky notes lined up on an accordion of folded paper. I love working with 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of paper that I can tuck inside a clear sleeve within my story duo tang that holds my character sheets, this-and-that notes pertinent to my story creation, pictures, etc.
Some like to post a wall with stickies to create their storyboard. Other's use Excell and keep it all neat and tidy on their computer. Still, others make use of a whiteboard or some other surface of choice. Where you create this storyboard doesn't matter, as long it works for you.
The more I struggle through the grueling work of polishing this novel, the more I realize that I need to infuse some fun into it, and for me that means colourful stickies on a long transportable accordion of papers right now so that I can get this ordering of scenes right and fill in the missing blanks on the move.
What do you do to keep plugging along when nasty reality strikes you? Have you ever created a storyboard? Did it save you time in the long run

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Introducing Fit For Faith by Kimberley Payne

Today marks the launch of Kimberley Payne's e-book Fit for Faith - 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical health.

As a special promotion, today’s buyers will get free gifts for each copy of Fit for Faith that they purchase.

For details on the book, launch, and promotions please visit:
Kimberley Payne's site.

An Interview with Kimberley Payne

Author of Fit for Faith - 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical health

Are you looking for balance in your life? Believing that prayer, Bible study and journal writing are to the spirit what exercise, healthy eating and stretching are to the body, this workbook unites spiritual health and physical health through a 7-week program to lose weight and develop a deeper relationship with God. This workbook is a motivational tool to empower women to improve their health to live balanced, whole and joyous lives that glorify God.

1. How was the idea for the book born?

Although I was born and raised within the church, it wasn't until I attended a Christian women's retreat that I realized how much I had compartmentalized my life: family in one corner, work in another; finances here, health there, faith over there. I began to see that my faith shouldn't be kept partitioned off from the rest of my life. Instead, it needed to be intertwined with all the parts of my life. If I was going to follow Him as my Lord, God wanted me to include Him in everything and that included my health and fitness.

2. What authority do you have to write this book?

I certified as a Weight Instructor through the YMCA, then went on to certify as an Aerobics Instructor through A.C.E., then went on to certify as a Personal Fitness through Can-Fit-Pro.

3. There are many fitness books on the market. How is Fit for Faith any different?

Fit for Faith makes no assumptions about the reader’s spiritual walk. All levels, whether a new Christian or a mature Christian, can benefit from this program. It is a program for a new Christian who wants to learn about prayer, journal writing and Bible study in the comfort of their own home, but a mature Christian can still be refreshed in their faith and re-commit to a daily relationship with God. It is motivating with inspiring reflections included each day and Christian truths set forth in a non-threatening manner.

Fit for Faith makes no assumptions about the activity level of the reader. All levels, whether a sedentary individual or a seasoned athlete, can benefit from this program. It emphasizes overall health, not just weight loss. Expertise and professionalism are provided throughout the program in easy-to-read “fit tips” and goal-planning assistance. The program includes strategies that empower people to make small changes in their daily routines to improve the quality of their life.

Fit for Faith is a well-rounded balanced program that follows the stages of change and so inspires confidence and builds esteem.

4. What is your purpose in writing this book?
The purpose in writing is to share knowledge from the health and fitness field and to demonstrate that partnership with God always leads to success, in every area of life. It is designed with the message of the gospel at its heart.

5. What is involved in the 7-week program?
The Fit for Faith program starts with developing an action plan that includes exploring benefits and success strategies of exercising, healthy eating, and stretching the body and the spirit. Then, the reader moves into implementing the plan through a daily program of prayer, Bible study and tracking of healthy habits. Each week is capped with a review that is a natural lead into the next week.

6. Can the book be used in a group setting?

Fit for Faith is a simple workbook to support a person through their day. It is designed for individuals to participate on their own at any hour, and anywhere. However, the workbook is extremely versatile and has proven success as a group program. Leader’s Notes are available to work within a group setting that can also be used as an outreach program within a church or workplace.

7. What are the benefits of the program?

It's like having your own personal trainer, without the cost. There is a ton of useful information that helps the reader wade through the myths and misconceptions that are out there.

It's an awareness program. The reader is accountable to record their activities, and this helps to recognize where their strengths are and what areas they need to improve.

It's a lifestyle change. Over the 7 weeks, the reader will gain habits that last a lifetime.

8. Do you offer workshops/presentations based on the book?
Yes, my main three presentations are:

Fit for Prayer
Learn how to fit prayer and physical activity into your daily routine
This workshop unites physical health and spiritual health to lose weight and develop a deeper relationship with God. In this highly interactive session, you will gain insight into how to incorporate prayer and fitness into your daily round.

Food for thought
Find out how to nourish your body and spirit through healthy eating and Bible study
Just as eating healthy foods nourishes your body, Bible study nourishes your spirit. You will learn practical suggestions and scriptural guidance to achieve your goals. Feel the joy of a healthier and more spiritually fit life.

Flex your Spirit
Discover a new way to express yourself with God through journal writing and stretching
Taking care of yourself physically is one way to honor God with your body. Your thoughts and emotions directly influence your physical health. Learn how to recharge your physical and emotional health through stretching activities for your body and spirit.

9. Where else can we find you on the Internet?
Facebook: Kimberley Payne, author & speaker
YouTube: Fit4Faith channel

Notes from Eileen:

I've just begun looking at Fit for Faith and so far I'm pumped to treat my body as the temple God intended it to be, in eating, fitness, and growing in spirituality. I hope you will be as encouraged by what Kimberley has to say in this e-book as I am.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, October 7, 2011

Seeking, again.

I just discovered today that we are seeking a new pastor for our church.

There's something hauntingly numbing about that. Perhaps it's because it's still sinking in, and that we only had her for five years.

That sixth sense of mine had me suspecting our pastor's resignation was on it's way, but still, I find myself anxious about the search that is about to ensue.

I'm curious, if your church has recently undergone a pastor search, what did you find helpful in seeking and narrowing down candidates? I'm not on the search committee, nor would I wish to be. But I'm wondering how other church's have included the mass parishioners in helping with the search so that the best fit for all is found.

Was a survey performed, perhaps? If so, what questions helped define the church's needs?

Please pray for our church as a whole as we traverse this pastor hunt once again, and also pray for our pastor who has made this difficult decision to resign. Many souls are affected when a pastor leaves. Strength and healing are just two of the things we need. In God's amazing grace we will get through this, though, I know.

May you all have a blessed weekend. For us in Canada, it's a long one--Thanksgiving Weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to all us Canadians!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What a Difference . . .

a new computer makes.

If there is one tangible tool a writer needs this day and age, it's a "working" computer.

I've worked with a slower-than-a-slug, crash happy, burn-your-thighs kind of laptop for quite some time now. So when it crashed this weekend with heat rising from it, I knew I had to go searching for a new one.

Now I'm in the midst of transferring data from the so-close-to-dead old one to my new speedy hp laptop while eagerly writing. Well, editing really, but since I'm not dealing with a chug-kerplunk-chug-along Sally any longer, I'm enjoying this editing journey more now.

I stretched my last laptop to work for me for near six years. I'm told that's amazing. I wonder how long I should expect this one to last?

When you got a new computer, did you notice a drastic change in your writing productivity? I sure hope you did, because this is one sweet gift I'm experiencing now! [Choosing to worry about the bill later. :)]

PS. Okay, so I've discovered one bug. I can't seem to publish blog post on my new laptop. I must be missing something on that computer. Lots and lots to learn.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 30, 2011

Are You Working Hard?

I'm piggy backing on Jody Hedlund's blog post today. Jody says that there's no secret to gaining success as an author or on building a web presence.

It takes hard work to gain success.

And if anyone I know is the epitome of hard work, Jody sure is.

But saying it's hard work to me, is like reading a book with absolutely no setting, or vise versa, only setting, no dialogue, no internal monologue, no interaction between characters. It's too vague for me. It doesn't offer advice on what to do. I want to know what constitutes working hard?

This made me pause to consider if I'm working hard. But more importantly to me, if I'm working hard and smart. Let's face it, time is of the essence this day and age. It's hard to come by, and yet it still does exist. We still have twenty-four hours in a day, and we don't have to plow our own fields, hunt for our food, travel up hill to the outhouse, chop wood for the stove, or pump water from the well in that same time span today, but yet it just seems to disappear in a fog regardless. If we use our time wisely in this age of amenities though, God can do wonders with it . . . in His timing, I'm certain!

So, okay, I'm going to do a little analysis of how I believe a writer should use their time.

1) Write daily. Whether you're working on a first draft or editing, or creating a query or proposal, be sure to write with respect to your writing career daily. Am I not working hard if I take weekends off for my family's sake? That's debatable, as most things are. But for me, if I've destroyed my relationships with my loved ones in order to build my writing career, then I'm not okay in God's eyes or my own. But if I can etch out a half hour or more on those "family" days when my working isn't taking away from family, then I better make use of that time wisely, or I'm not working hard. Do you have a TBD (to be done) list? Make sure there are things on it writing related that can be done in small increments of time for when the family unexpectedly disappears during "family" time.

2) Never stop learning and apply that new knowledge every chance you get. If you don't have a novel you're "studying", you most definitely should have a how-to book on the craft of writing, or on social networking and marketing on the go. Life is a journey of learning and growing and there are all kinds of ways to nurture this. Find what works for you, and make sure it's available for a daily dose of L&L (Live and Learn). If you're creative, you can even do this while enjoying "family" time on occasion. Hint: Movies as homework --have a pad of paper at hand to jot down the structure, find the MOG (moment of grace), discover the moral premise (if there is one), or whatever else aids in your current study.

3) If you're a blogger, be consistent with posting. I'm failing in this lately. Good thing I'm doing this analysis after all!

4) FIGURE OUT the social networking sites you SHOULD be on, and learn how to use them wisely. I'm still working on this. How do we do this smart so that it doesn't eat up precious hours of our writing time? This is one journey that's a huge struggle for me. I've read Kristen Lamb's books and I'm still in a fog. Guess it's time to reread and find other sources of how-to's regarding this topic.

and to do all of the above leaves me with one more glaring analysis.

5) Divide the household chores. My kids would hate me if they read this. But it's true, somewhere along the way I've made the upkeep of our home my responsibility. And I'm sacrificing sanity/health for writing. Yes, you read that correctly. Since I can't do all those things "writerly" and keep up with the daily chores, I settle for dust and fur motes surrounding me as I write, which increases my blood pressure and has me mentally fighting with myself. Why am I not super woman? Why can't I keep up our house AND build a successful writing career? I just can't. At least not alone, I can't. So, girls, a new ship's about to sail (no, I would never use that cliche in a book, but since I need to get back to editing, I will here), and you're not a guest on it, you're a fully fledged member of the crew! (Check back with me in a week to see if I stuck to my plan. Lifting prayers now that I do.)

So what did I miss? What more do we have to do to work hard and smart as novelists?

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recap in Pictures

Welcome to St. Louis.

We stayed downtown within walking distance of restaurants, Busch Stadium, a park, and this historical courthouse which happens to be a museum. On Sunday, Sandra Orchard and I were able to tour inside the courthouse. Beautiful. It was absolutely beautiful, but I discovered I can't handle heights as we climbed up winding staircase after winding staircase.

If you know me at all, you'll know why I just had to take a picture of this horse drawn carriage. Such gentle animals, and so great to see them every time we stepped outside.

Here I am with my fabulous roomie, Susan Mason, and my wonderful flight buddy, Sandra Orchard.

Some blogging buddies and a surprise trespasser!

I wasn't that great at pulling out my camera this time, so I didn't get near as many pictures as I should have. But between the courses and the socializing, 2011's ACFW's conference delivered big time. I'm always amazed at how positive and encouraging every one is at an ACFW conference. Competition doesn't exist there. It's replaced with the wonder of prayer. Such a blessing indeed.

If you were in attendance this year, what was the highlight of the conference for you? Or were you like me, everything about it fed your soul?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 26, 2011

The Aftermath

Hi, All:

I'm back home from conference, but woke with a terribly itchy, achy throat. Been sucking on Zinc lozenges and Fisherman Friends all day. And I'm plum worn out. Frustrated too, because my USB cord is missing for my camera so I can't get my pictures downloaded to share with you all. Hoping to rectify that by Wednesday's post.

But, if you haven't heard yet, the 2011 ACFW Conference in St. Louis was wonderful. I send a huge thank you to all who worked so hard to put on such a positive conference. We are truly blessed by the dedication and selflessness that so many offer to make this such a successful conference every year!

This year's conference, once again, was full of great learning experiences and awesome friend finding and making. I have discovered though, that as I gain more knowledge in the craft of writing, each conference seems to refresh and build on previously learned writing tools. Which is very cool because I'm finally starting to believe that I've got the basics down. Yay for me!! Seriously, I never thought I'd be able say that. Now I have a whole lot of learning still to go (learning should never end in my opinion), but to finally have the foundation of the craft down to build on feels awesome. The skies the limit now.

If you weren't at conference, did you watch the live feed of the Gala Saturday night? If you were at conference and I didn't get to chat with you, where were you hiding? I'm so sorry I missed you!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Au Revoir . . .

for now. It's ACFW's conference week!
And things are a little nuts around the household so I'm signing off blogging for the week.

I hope to see many of you in St. Louis! For those who can't make it there, I lift a prayer for your needs to be met this week.

Blessings and safe journeying prayed for everyone.

See you again Monday, Sept. 26th.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Newest: NetBooks?

You know, like Netflix. Only with books. That's what they're suggesting for the future of e-books. Pay a monthly fee and get access to a wide range of e-books.

I'm not sure what I think of this concept. If they stick with how Netflix only offers older releases, then this might be an interesting offer for forgotten previously released e-books. But if they're considering putting newly released e-books into the lineup for a monthly fee, then I have issues.

I just heard about this concept yesterday, so still mulling through the ramifications of it. What do you think? Yay, or nay for a book version of Netflix?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering 911

Most days I don't remember one day from the next. But I distinctly remember ten years ago yesterday. I suspect I'm not alone.

The girls were off to their new school of all of one week and hubby was preparing for a flight out west. We received a call from his office saying that all travel had been banned by the president due to the attacks on U.S. soil.


We'd been rushing around getting hubby organized and packed for his trip and hadn't had radio or T.V. on so we were oblivious to what the world was seeing. We immediately turned on the news channel. As soon as we saw what was happening we both had this NEED to have our family near. I can't describe it any other way than that a longing to gather our girls into our arms struck us full force. I called our girls' new school, where no one knew me yet, because in our system they don't get volunteers in during the first couple weeks until the students are well settled, and informed that we were coming to pick our girls up.

The secretary sounded shocked on the phone, so I proceeded to give an explanation. It was obvious she had been sheltered from the world's events that morning, too. Granted it was still relatively early in the morning in this part of the world. We gathered our flock and spent the day playing games while praying for all who were injured, all who had lost their lives, and all who were left with a gaping hole from losing loved ones in this senseless hatred-induced catastrophe.

God never said that life would be easy or fair, but He did promise to be with us. When I think of 911 I question how God could let such evil happen, but then that's why I'm not God . . .

Our understanding is minuscule compared to God's, and quite frankly, I don't think we'd be able to handle even a little of what He knows.

May we find our strength through Him who knows all, and Who can draw good from even the worst of evils!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 9, 2011

Seize those Opportunities

On the inside of my daughter's Ariat riding belt, the following is engraved: "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."

Sabrina's eyes lit up when she noticed those words. It was like whipped cream on top of a delicious piece of cake for her. You see, the leather belt is embossed with flowers on the front and has blingy silver eyelets running across the top and bottom, so it's quite beautiful for all to see. To discover such encouragement hidden inside, for just the wearer to know, made her day. Imagine if the maker of this never seized the opportunity to engrave such encouragement inside, would my daughter still have purchased the belt? Probably, because she loved the look of it, but she'd not be near as optomistic as she is now when she wears it.

Let us seize opportunities to write, so that we may seize opportunities to edit, so that we may seize opportunities to seek agents, so that agents may seize opportunities to seek publishers for our books, so that publishers may seize opportunities to share our stories with the world.

See, it really does work.

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized."

May your weekend be enlightening and may angels guide opportunities your way!

P.S. I'm trying to reach that golden number of 25 "likes" on my Facebook Writer's Page. If you wouldn't mind popping over, please "like" it and I'll go searching for yours to "like" too.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lululemon Makes You Think

After church on Sunday, I took a drive to London for my girls to get their Lululemon fix for the start of school. My girls have enjoyed the quality and look of Lululemon fitness wear for several years, but because we don't have one near by, it's a real treat to go there. One can only afford an item or two at a time, even that often breaks the bank, but the quality is what keeps us coming back.

Guess what mom loves the most about Lululemon?

Yes, it's the bag! Not only is it free with purchase, reusable, and even attractive, but also . . .


Have you ever taken the time to really ponder all that is written on their bags?

"Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks." If my editing goes at a snail's pace when I'm rushing for conference, do I just give up on it? Do I keep trudging along, knowing that I'm not going to have this piece fully polished by then? Yes, but I also work on one-sheets, elevator pitches, etc. to discuss the story's merits with editors and agents, in hopes of sending off a proposal in a month or so when it is ready, and by then it will also have any suggested changes incorporated in it too.

"The world is changing at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you 2 steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!" Just write already--create that new mythical adventure that seems way too out there and write it. It may be the beginning of a new craze like vampires and warlocks. You'll never know unless you do it now!

"Do one thing a day that scares YOU." Imagine if we had our characters do this? When my youngest remarked on this one, I commented that I think the word "scares" should be replaced with "challenges". Totally less scary to me! Heehee.

What about you, are you a Lululemon fan? For the bag, or the attire?

P.S. I have a Facebook Writer's fan page up now, but having trouble getting people to "Like" me. Does anyone know how to install that tiny "like" button on your blog? I'm embarrassed that I can't figure this out on my own.

Have a blessed week, everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 2, 2011

It's moving day...

not for me, but for our eldest daughter, Alisha. Hubby and I are moving our all of seventeen-year-old girl into her dorm room today on the University of Guelph's campus. She begins studying within the Animal Sciences program next week. Sometimes I just have to blink myself through acknowledging that. Where have the years gone?

I've been asked so many times from friends and family if she' ready for this. They're not asking from Alisha's perspective, they're asking from a mother's over-protective nature if I think this is a good thing, or if it's doomed for failure. Is she mature enough to handle the rigors of post-secondary education while gaining all that independence in one fell swoop?

I honestly think Alisha is ready.

She's spent the last two summers as a councilor at an overnight horse camp for girls, so she knows what it's like to be away from home, and she knows what responsibility is. In fact, she's always been the responsible type. Sadly for her, she also inherited her mother's more serious, quiet, dependable nature. I'm thinking she's not going to be the party girl type at all. I'm hoping I'm wrong on this and that she does allow herself to have a bit of fun (not the kind that will get her into trouble mind you).

As far as separating from us? Well, let's just say she's been doing that for several years now. Hence why my own needed mental leap from writer to publication has taken so long to come. I'm finally breathing in non-pins-and-needles air around here. Hallelujah!

Oh, I'll worry as all mothers do, but I'm at peace with this transition. I've lifted my little girl into the Lord's hands, and I'm ready to see her soar. If she should ever take a bit of a nose dive, we'll be right here for her to perch on. She can rest a while, regain her strength and direction, then take off again. I know we're only meant to have our babes under our wings for a short time, then it's their turn to fly free.

I also know how children hate to hear words of wisdom from their parents, especially teen children, but as I put together a laundry basket of care filled with all things odd and wonderful to make her dorm room uniquely hers, I just had to tuck a card inside. Leaving all praise and encouragement within didn't seem quite enough, though. I just had to add: Success is often altered in hind site, and changing direction doesn't imply failure.

If there is one thing I want my daughters to know, it's that the roads we travel won't always be straight or how we initially planned them to be. And that's okay. Life is a journey, not of successes and failures, but rather, of discovering our purpose. We might get lucky and discover a fairly straight path, but then again, that might not be the path for us.

As my daughter begins her venture in discovering her purpose in this world, let us all be reminded that our journey's are ongoing, too. We, too, have more life to live and may our Good Lord continue to guide and protect us all on our journey.

Have you ever experienced a twist that felt like a failure, only to discover its great purpose later? And what about your leaving home experience? What things did your parents do that made the transition more fun or easier?

I pray we all have a wonderful weekend filled with much love and fellowship!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Transition from Writer to Author

A week ago I linked over to Michael Hyatt's cyber home and watched a wonderful video interview he did with Rachelle Gardner. Lots of great information was given during that informative interview, but one message in particular that Rachelle addressed really hit home for me.

Rachelle noted that one of the most common mistakes is "failing to make that mental leap between writer and published author." She went on to explain that the desire and passion that many writers have isn't enough to enter into the business of publishing. I knew that long ago, but as one watches writer friend/acquaintance after writer friend/acquaintance see their dream of getting an agent and then publication arrive, one wonders what is wrong with themselves, personally, for not "feeling" ready to seriously venture into submitting.

For some of us, that mental leap is a longer process than it is for others. Some grasp the skills of writing at lightening speed, while breathing in all they need to know about the publishing industry, too. Others, like me, take the slow but steady approach. Some, like me, take advantage of not being ready, and even take breaks when family matters call. Gasp. I know, we're not supposed to admit to that if we want to be taken seriously as writers. Right?

Personally, I don't agree with that mentality. Now's the time (before you plunge head-first into shopping your stories) to take breaks when needed to keep life sane, because once you are agented and then published, if you take your career seriously, long breaks from writing won't be an option. Now's the time to take those breaks and see if the desire ever becomes strong enough for you to return to the job of writing and getting published. Because then you'll be that much more confident in knowing that this is the job for you!

Stages of life have a way of dictating how fast you'll reach that ready-for-publication crest, and as a wife and mom of teens now, I'm starting to understand why my path has been so drawn out. And I wouldn't wish it any other way. As my oldest daughter heads to university this coming weekend, I'm seeing a shift in my mental processing of this dream I've had for so long.

I'm feeling very close to being ready. Maybe not for publication yet. Only the powers that be can discern that. But I'm ready to take charge. To claim a career out of this writer's journey I've been traversing for eight years. As hubby would say, "It's time to take the bull by the horns, honey, and go for it."

So off I go with Mary E. DeMuth's tutorial of Write a Powerful Fiction Proposal. Wish me luck, please, and if you'd throw in a prayer or two as well, that'd be awesome!

For all those still with me in the before-agented/published stage please know that you're not alone. God has a plan for us, too, let us do the work He asks, and leave the timing to Him. I hope you'll click on the links in this post and that they help guide you where God is leading. And I'd love to hear how long you've been on this writing journey with me.

For those who are living the agented/publication dream now, any words to the wise you want to share with us still venturing along?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, August 29, 2011

A Gift Unused...

Sorry, we had a family emergency in the midst of creating my blog posts for this week (our youngest dislocated her knee at camp and the stubborn thing wouldn't go back in without a hospital visit). As such, I find myself recycling an old post for today. It's one I like to remind myself of often, so I thought I'd reshare.

A Gift Unused is God's Grace Denied.

A profound thought. At least for me it is.

Consider the following verse:

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various form..." 1 Peter 4:10

I've always thought of God's grace as an amazing gift that I don't deserve, but so thankful to have. But never before did I really consider that I could be used as a vessel to deliver His grace to another person. According to Peter, though, we are to be faithful in administering God's grace through the gifts we are given.

We are instruments through which God extends His grace to others. Doesn't that make our responsibility to discover our gifts and use them all the more important? It does to me.

What gifts are you sharing to spread God's grace to others?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Takeaway Friday & Winner

Before I announce the winner of Sandra Orchard's LIS debut novel, Deep Cover, I just want to thank Sandra for all her time here at Faithful Romances this week and all that she shared with us. Sandra is a blessing to me, I hope her posts blessed you as well and that if you haven't already, you'll pop by her cyber homes, both website and blog, to get to know her better and start building a friendship!

I see many blogs host a Friday Five, so today I'm going to list five takeaways I got from Sandra's posts here this week. For the record, I've garnered lots more than these five, but here's a taste of them.

  1. Perseverance is key to success. And in my personal experience, God uses writing to test this!

  2. I'm not as much a pantser writer as I thought I was. Yeah, I'm on my way to conversion! October will most certainly test this as I prepare for NANOWRIMO 2011.

  3. I need to share my brainstorming of stories with non-writing friends who are willing to play. Not only will it be fun and informative no doubt, but it could also be therapeutic and a blessing.

  4. I seriously need to somehow bring my office into the light of upstairs--white board and post-its in the very least. Since creating my lovely office downstairs, I've discovered it's just too secluded to work comfortably in. I need to be upstairs with my pets and natural lighting. And I need the use of that huge white board to plot, plot, plot!! Fearing my living room may become my new office. What do you think? How weird would it look to have the first room you see as you enter being a writer's office (and our house IS open concept, so foyer is only separated from the sunken living room by an oak railing?)

  5. I'm sure I knew this before, but it had slipped my mind obviously--Sandra and I share a math background. I graduated with a BMath degree from the University of Waterloo...many moons ago. Sandra's living proof that a mathie can become a romance writer...and do it WELL!! There IS hope!

And now for the winner of Deep Cover.

Congratulations, Robyn Campbell!!

Send me your snail mail address so I can mail you this awesome book!

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marketing in Today's World & Book Giveaway

We're finishing off our week with Sandra Orchard here on Faithful Romances. It's been a pleasure having Sandra enlightening us this week, and today's topic is Marketing a novel in today's world. I've asked Sandra to highlight what her marketing plan is.

Marketing. The word alone is enough to send icy chills down my spine. Promoting oneself just feels…wrong.

But the days of publishers marketing our books is long gone. (Although with Harlequin, it’s still pretty good.) Readers expect to be able to find and interact with authors online. So at the insistence of my agency’s publicist, I started a Facebook page.

Figuring out how it all worked was a huge learning curve for me, but I have to admit, I’m enjoying it. I still get a thrill every time an email pops up to let me know someone “likes” me. Not sure how pathetic that is to admit. But there you go.

I always click on the person’s profile and learn a little about them. Because ultimately, I’m not there to promote my book, but build relationships with my readers. It’s fun. It’s addictive. It can quickly swallow my time.

For that reason, among many, I had avoided social media like the plague in the past. I didn’t want to spend any more time online than I already was. I wanted to write. When I interact with friends, I prefer one-on-one emails. I’m a fairly private person, and the idea of posting generalized comments for the world to read (or even just my “friends”) was uncomfortable to say the least.

I still feel embarrassed to announce the latest stop on my blog tour, or my latest personal blog post on my FB page. After all, how many times do my friends and fans want to read an interview or review on my new release?

Yet, I want to promote the blogs of the wonderful bloggers like Eileen who invite me to share my story with their readers. Generally, I try to post items that give value to readers, such as the latest free Ebook offerings etc., or share some humorous or newsy items about what’s going on in my life. I’m still searching for a happy balance.

I also started a blog, Conversations About Characters, and am thoroughly enjoying writing it. I didn’t think I could possibly think of enough things to say in a blog, and am surprised by the ideas that keep coming. I’ve designed it to be interactive, and am very grateful for the comments of my faithful readers. I’ve already made some wonderful new friends.

But to be honest, I’m finding it difficult to find time to actually write my novels!

Since Love Inspired books are only in stores for one month, I decided a blog tour would be the best means to get the word out to potential readers. I was blessed to receive dozens of invitations, and as a result, I have been very busy answering interviews and writing guest posts. I know this is just a season, and once I get caught up, I’ll find my rhythm again.

And hopefully, people who follow several of the blogs that are hosting me, won’t be so sick of hearing about my book that they’ll run the other way at the mere mention of my name!

I haven’t looked into Twitter or the gazillion other marketing opportunities out there. I don’t want to market myself. I want to build relationships with people. So I need to find a pace that works for me. The one thing I’ve committed to do without fail is to personally respond to every reader who emails me. I am sincerely touched when someone takes the time to send me a note.

This is an exciting time to be an author. The opportunities to reach people around the world are truly amazing. Just last week, an editor of a German romance magazine emailed me to ask for an interview for their September issue. I was thunderstruck. I mean, how cool is that?

The best piece of advice I’ve received on marketing came from fellow Canadian author Anne K. Albert. Her editor told her, "Self-promotion is not a sprint, it's a marathon." Now, whenever I feel overwhelmed by the long list of things that publicists suggest I do from press releases to book signings to bookmarks to blogging, I remind myself to pace myself. It doesn’t have to all be done today, or this week, or even for this book’s release. If I do a little each day, that’s good.

Ultimately, the best way to keep readers happy is to write fabulous books and keep them coming.

Sandra, It's been a real pleasure having you visit and share this week. Thank you so much! I wish you all the best with your writing and sure look forward to all your books to come!!

Last Day to Get in on Deep Cover Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post or any of the posts here this week and you'll be entered to win a copy of Sandra Orchard's debut novel, Deep Cover.

Good Luck everyone!

Surrendering to Him,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Art of Plotting & Book Giveaway

I asked author Sandra Orchard if she'd be willing to share how she plots. As a panster I could use all the help I can get, and after reading Sandra's notes I realized I'm not totally a panster anymore after all. There is hope for me, I guess! Anyway, without further ado, let's hear what Sandra has to say:

Eileen has asked me to share how I plot my stories. I'm not sure I'll convert her from being a pantser. Except to observe, that many self-proclaimed pantsers are really longhand plotters. That is they figure out the story as they write the first draft, but unless they have a really good "feel" for the essential elements of a story, it can take many more drafts to work those elements in.

That said, even as a plotter who had thought through the GMCs of my characters and the main turning points before beginning the first draft of Deep Cover, since I didn't have a solid grasp of essential story elements at that point, the final story evolved over many, many drafts.

In contrast, I submitted the sequel with only minor revisions to the first draft. I wrote a second draft at the request of my editor to add more elements of the heroine in danger and to heighten romantic tension, which I’d polished with the help of my wonderful critique partners, so final line edits were minimal.

All that to say, pre-plotting is only as effective as our understanding of story. The more we write and read and revise, the stronger that becomes. And sometimes it's the story that causes troubles. Some stories seem to write themselves, whereas others, especially if they make us dig into places we don't really want to go, become excruciatingly painful to write.

Enough preamble…

I start with a story idea. It may be a character, an occupation, a crime. For example, while visiting a writing friend who is dying of cancer, her handsome male nurse came to check on her. I remarked that he'd make a great hero for my next book. So… after he left, we brainstormed his story. That was over a month ago, and it's still stewing in the back of my mind as I work on revisions for my third book, and write blog posts etc.

We came up with an inciting incident, a heroine, her complete backstory and GMC (ie goal, motivation, conflict), and several main points of the suspense plot. What I have yet to figure out is the hero's GMC, the romantic conflict, and what needs to change in him before he can be with the heroine. I have lots of ideas, but nothing has gelled yet. And to be honest, I haven't had time to give it much thought.

The important thing to keep in mind at this stage is that the more interrelatedness you can create between each of the hero and heroine's internal conflicts, the external conflict, and the romantic conflict, the better.

From the outset, I find it useful to frame the concept of the story as a "what if?" question. The answer leads to further "what if?" questions, and the answers become the structure of your story. The theme of your story (i.e. what your story is illuminating about real life) often becomes clear in this process. I have one critique partner who is particularly adept at spotting it. Understanding this somewhat ethereal thing is useful, because then you can be more purposeful in the events you bring into the story.

For example, my "what if?" question for Deep Cover was: what if an undercover cop finds the perfect woman, but can’t tell her who he really is or what he does for a living? The theme that evolved was twofold. Does the end justify the means? Or more personally, is it possible to be a man of honor and live a life of lies?

If you're planning on attending the early bird session at ACFW this year, you'll be learning about premise. I find it useful to frame the premise of my story as early as possible, because then I'm always looking for how it can be illustrated in a scene. The premise of Deep Cover is simply that truth overcomes betrayal.

Okay, is your head spinning?

Mine still does when I try to wrap my mind around all these ideas. But that's the fun, and power, of brainstorming. You start to see threads that work together, that share a common theme. As we write, we often intuitively include elements that enrich the theme, even when we haven't consciously figured out what that theme is!

Once I have a general idea of the main plot points of the suspense and romantic plots, and a decent grasp of my hero and heroine's internal, external and romantic conflicts (and it would take many more blogs to detail how I do that), I start writing. I usually write the first three chapters and then email them to my critique partners for feedback.

Writing a few chapters gives me a better feel for the voice of my characters and how well the plotting will work. At this point, I'll make adjustments to my framework as necessary, and then write the synopsis.

I must admit that I hate writing synopses. Pantsers biggest complaint is that all this pre-plotting takes away from the joy of discovering the story and the momentum of writing. Plotting doesn't do that to me. It energizes me, fills me with an overflowing well of ideas to draw upon. However, writing a detailed synopsis does. I prefer to plot the main turning points, black moment and epiphany, and then as I write the story, draw on the other ideas to fill in the gaps.

Clear as mud?

**It is to me now! Thanks Sandra for sharing this wealth of story planning! Since I do use the GMC model, I guess I'm not a total panster. I just need to delve into it a little deeper now to get the full benefit out of it. I'm thinking NANOWRIMO now, must put in my October calendar to do the PLOTTING first!!

Book Giveaway:

Remember, for every comment entered this week up until Thursday night your name will be entered to win a copy of Sandra Orchard's debut novel, Deep Cover. A great read!!

Good luck to everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet Debut Author Sandra Orchard & Book Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Sandra Orchard to my cyber home today! It's such a treat to have you visiting, Sandra!

Sandra and I met years back at a writer's conference in Guelph. I remember the first time I saw her, she of course, was volunteering. Standing outside the main building, she helped anyone and everyone who came across her sight line with a puzzled look on their face. I was one of the people she took under her wing.

Later we met in an intense Romance workshop led by Carolyne Aarsen, and since then have kept in contact, and I'm so excited that Sandra lives in pubbed land now! Her debut novel, Deep Cover, is released in September through LIS. Leave a comment on any of the posts this week up until Thursday and you'll be entered to win a copy of Deep Cover. I'll announce the winner on Friday.

Sandra was kind enough to be interviewed by me, so without further ado, here we go.

Q1: Many of us unpubbed writers question how long it's going to take to write a publishable novel. How many novels did you write and prime before selling? What number was Deep Cover?

Deep Cover was my fourth manuscript, although I’d completely rewritten it (and manuscript number three) so many times it felt more like manuscript ten! By the time it sold, I’d written six novels. Deep Cover evolved over several years through many different drafts as I learned about the essential elements of a publishable romantic suspense. In contrast, by the time I wrote its sequel (my sixth manuscript), I finished the first two drafts in less than four months, and once it was contracted I completed the requested revisions in three months.

Q2: I know you've gone to several Writer's Conferences, both here in Canada and abroad over the years. Do you attribute any success to signing a contract from attending these Writer's Conferences?

I have learned so much through conference workshops, and have met many, many writers through them. I highly recommend the investment. For this particular story, I paid for a critique from Margaret Daley at the 2008 ACFW conference. She was very enthusiastic about it, and kept urging me to submit it to LIS. However, it was another year and a half before I did, because I was getting requests at those same conferences from other editors who wanted to see it, and LI doesn’t allow simultaneous submissions. I’m so glad I waited, because at the 2009 ACFW conference, I connected with fellow Daphne DuMaurier finalist Wenda Dottridge. We became critique partners in the months that followed. She had a really good sense of what the editors wanted and helped me edit the manuscript to better suit the line. In that interim year, Margaret (a special needs teacher) had also helped me fine tune the mentally-challenged sister character. As a result, I had minimal revisions to do once the manuscript was contracted, and…I already had the first draft of the sequel ready to submit.

Q3: You've made it to pub land. Congratulations, Sandra! Now, aspiring authors want to know, what do you believe is the single most important attribute a writer must have to succeed in getting that first contract?


Q4: Are you a Pantster or a Plotter? Which do you like best, first drafts or the editing phase? Can you explain in 200 words or less how you go about doing each?

Oh, no!!! Word count limit—the bane of writers! I’m a plotter. I majored in math at university, very logical thinker, which is probably why I gravitate to mystery/suspense so I can plot out lots of twists and turns. Explaining how I plot is a blog in itself…let’s save that for tomorrow. For now, I’ll just say that I love brainstorming and plotting the best. The actual writing is hard slogging for me no matter what draft it is. Although, on some magical days the words do seem to flow effortlessly.

I do prefer the editing phase over the first draft, because that’s where I have fun layering in details and emotions that make the story breathe. My first drafts are about getting the suspense plot down and the skeleton of the romance and character arcs in place. The pacing is usually atrocious. I love to see the story come alive on subsequent passes. Thankfully, now that I have a better understanding of the elements and how to pace them, it takes me fewer passes to get everything in its place.

Q5: Your contract is with LIS. If you're bestest friend was trying to get a contract with them, what would you recommend he/she do to get noticed there and out of the slush pile?

Write an amazing story that meets the expectations of LIS readers. How do you figure out what those expectations are? Read debut authors. No, I’m not just trying to promote my book.

Established authors can get away with things that untested authors can’t. By reading debut authors, you’ll see what editors are looking for in books for their line.

The basics for LIS are: heroine in danger throughout the story, start in the action/danger (or at least hint at it) from the first line, first paragraph, first page. Introduce both the hero and heroine in the first chapter. They don’t have to meet, but it’s preferred. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but following them will help your chances. Writing in third person pov is mandatory. Keep the romantic tension high. Ensure there is a clear romantic conflict. Why could these two never be together? Craft a story in which they must work together to solve the mystery and/or avoid danger. Meeting editors at conferences, pitching your story idea and working out potential bugs with them ahead of submission will also give you a foot up.

Q6: In writing, there's no instant gratification, no magic wand to cast a spell of "greatness" on our writing, so what words of wisdom can you offer to help us survive the years of just-keep-writing-and-learning-even-though-the-road-seems-never-ending?

First of all, recognize that writing Christian fiction is a ministry. If you have dreams of making lots of money, you should know that most writers don’t. If you still can’t imagine yourself not writing, keep at it and don’t give up.

The coolest thing to me over the past six years was seeing how God used the fact I was a writer to connect me to other aspiring writers who I otherwise would probably have never met, or who would never have read a page of Christian fiction. They’ve become dear friends and I’ve had the privilege of sharing Christ’s love with them in ways I’d never imagined.

I also treasure the online and at-conference friendships I’ve cultivated with fellow Christian writers (both aspiring and published). We share each other’s triumphs and defeats, and carry each other in prayer. Writing can be a lonely business, but in today’s plugged-in world, it needn’t be. So my best advice is to have realistic expectations and enjoy the journey!

Thanks Sandra, for sharing these inspiring answers! If you have any questions, any at all, for Sandra, drop them in the comments as Sandra will be stopping by periodically today.

Tomorrow Sandra will take us into her world of plotting here. Since I'm a frustrated pantster myself, I'm really looking forward to learning about Sandra's method. Praying she can convert me! :)

Remember I'm hosting a GIVEAWAY of Deep Cover this week. Leave a comment with an email addy or link to it to be entered. Good luck everyone!

Surrendering to Him,