Monday, June 30, 2008

An Amazing 500th Post Blog Contest over on Kaye Dacus's Blog

Hey, Everyone!

Just thought I'd share the news that my writing cyber friend, Kaye Dacus, is coming up on posting her 500th blog post and is CELEBRATING BIG TIME!

Hop on over to and check out how to enter. She gives great writing advice and has lots of movie info to read up on over at Write Place, Write Time.

Good luck everyone!



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Exodus 23:22

But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

Exodus 23:22

As I pray for God's guidance with respect to attending ACFW's 2008 Writer's Conference in Minneapolis, I ask God to show me His will through blockades or progressive stepping stones.

May this Sunday be one of rest, and may His will and His desires be known to us.

Sunday Blessings,


Saturday, June 28, 2008

ACFW's 2008 Writer's Conference

American Christian Fiction Writers is hosting their annual writer's conference in Minneapolis this year. I'm hoping to be one of the many attendees who will be learning, worshiping, sharing, socializing, and pitching with the masses that this conference attracts. Does that sound daunting to you? It does to me.

So why even consider attending, you ask? Why not stick with attending the smaller writer's conferences that my comfort zone can easily handle?

For several very good reasons, I'll point out my top three and then reveal some more from past attendees.

#1. Meet those virtual friends you've shared, studied, and learned with through the e-loops and forums. Meet your critique partners who have endlessly helped you with your manuscript and encouraged you week after week to keep writing and learning. Meet knew friends to share and learn along side.

#2. Learn from the best of the best through workshops, classes, through the plenary session, meals, and other quiet moments {but never in the restroom!}.

#3. The advantage of having a wide representation of publishers and agents available for specified appointments is for sure a big advantage of the larger conferences!

And, here are some reasons why members keep returning to the ACFW Writer's Conference:

“My experience has been that editors and agents just give you one extra little bit of respect because spending money and time on a conference shows a commitment to your writing.And remember to LISTEN when you're talking to an editor. Even if they're saying, 'no, you're work isn't what we're hunting for' you're learning about them, about your work, about the market, lots and lots to learn.” Mary Connealy

“For me, the #1 reason is networking. You can't beat the opportunity of having 450+ writers, authors, editors, agents and industry professionals gathered in one place. It's THE place to be if you write or want to write Christian fiction.” Tiffany (Amber Miller) Stockton

“The great classes and workshops! They always change, always have proven authors teaching them, and are always top notch. I’ve never had a repeat of any class. There are more fiction agents and editors at the ACFW conference than any other one. AND these editors and agents seem to mingle more at the ACFW conference.” Ane Mulligan

I love the camraderie, fellowship, atmosphere, lessons, fun, worship, collaborating, and most of all....talking about FICTION!!!” Michelle Sutton Hutchinson

"After the first conference during which I met and fellowshiped with and took workshops from authors I admired, I was anxious to reconnect with them and make new friends, also to have the opportunity to pitch to more agents. And, in my case, to hear keynote speaker Jim Bell from whom I took the Mt. Hermon mentoring clinic.” Bonnie Engstrom

“The overall friendliness of those attending, the knowledgeable instructors, the wonderful spiritual aspect during general assembly, these are just a few of the reasons why I keep returning to the ACFW Conference. (Oh, yeah, the food hasn't been half bad either.) { :-)” Janice Olson

“My #1 reason is to network. I've got an agent now, which I didn't have the last time I attended. But it's worth a great deal to me, to hear what's on the editors' radar scopes to acquire for this year. Are historicals out or in? What about spec-fic? What are some of the publishers looking for, which have been absorbed into larger (secular?) conglomerates? What themes/characters/setups are they all sick of (hopefully not something I'm actively writing on right now, LOL)? And I go to see friends I can touch base with only online.” Deb Kinnard

“I return to the ACFW conference for the encouragement of being surrounded by people who understand the strange way writers' minds work and for the instruction. I always leave with a long list of ways and tools to improve my writing.” Cara C. Putman

“I love getting to talk to online friends face to face.” Lena Nelson Dooley

“Worshiping and learning with authors who also love the Lord.” Cynthia Hickey

“Truly, my number one reason for returning is divine appointments. Last year was my first time, and I had a specific reason for going. Obviously, God had another, because while my plans flopped, God blessed me through the relationships He gave me. I don't know what God has in store for me this year, but I'm open to whatever it is and very excited!” Jennifer AlLee

So you see, there are many great reasons to pray about attending the ACFW Writer's Conference, even when anxiety creeps in. Pray, then take a look at the selection of Conference Workshops and Continuing Education Sessions, highlight the ones that would be the most beneficial to you, then, if the answer is "YES", head over to register, and be sure to say hi when you see me there in September.

I hope you'll check out all the other contributors to the ACFW Conference Blog Tour, click here for the link to the complete listing of links.



Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Writing Goals and Vocabulary Enhancement Friday

There's something very scary about publicly announcing one's goals. At least it is to me. I'm referring to the accountability factor that comes with letting others know just what you're hoping to accomplish.

I always have numerous goals set out for myself. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people whose success level is becoming more and more dismal with each passing year. It's not that I don't set out to make it happen, it's that life has a way of interrupting. That, and sometimes perfectionism, as well. I need to learn that sometimes doing something well, but not perfectly, is better than not doing it at all. (I need to remember this especially for my gardening.)

Don't worry, I have no intention of listing my numerous goals here, but I do want to share my high-priority writing goal because it has to do with what I post about tomorrow. My summer writing goal is to have my final, final revision of my very first story, A New Beginning, completed for the ACFW National Writer's Conference that I'm hoping to attend in September. If I can polish this baby of mine until it's the miracle that every child is, then I'll feel as though I'm finally free to delve deep into editing and revising of my other two stories. Reading and Writing are the pillars of learning the craft of fiction writing, and I'm ready to move on, so I need to finish this final run-through of edits and concentrate on my other stories. I know that my writing will never be perfect, as I'm continually learning, so I have to be satisfied with doing my best now and then let it go and expend the bulk of my energy on the next project waiting for my attention.

So there you have it. I'll do a goal check again in September as a follow-up, and pray that I will be announcing the successful completion of A New Beginning's face lift. Feel free to join me in praying for that. I'd love it if you did!


Okay, on with my chosen word of the week. What new addition can I add to my limited vocabulary today, I wonder?

How about, Doughty?


Spelled Pronunciation[dou-tee]
–adjective, -ti·er, -ti·est.

steadfastly courageous and resolute; valiant.

Related forms
dough·ti·ly, adverb
dough·ti·ness, noun
—Synonyms brave, bold, intrepid, fearless, dauntless. Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Using doughty in a sentence:

The doughty goal-setter will succeed.

Let's see what sentences you can come up with using doughty.



Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Interview with author Julie Carobini and Giveaway of her Newest Release.

I welcome contemporary women’s fiction author, Julie Carobini, to my Authors-Helping-Writers segment today. When I hear Julie’s name, chocolate automatically comes to mind. Read on to find out why.

Julie, will you tell us how you sold your books and who published them?

Julie Carobini: Bethany House bought my first book, Chocolate Beach, on proposal. I’d actually finished about a 1/3 of it at the time, and when I got ‘the call’ from my editor, Charlene Patterson, I cried! (I was not agented at the time). I’ve worked with them on two books.

I have now contracted with B&H Publishing Group for a series of three books set in Otter Bay. I was in a store dressing room yanking on a pair of skinny sweats when I got that call from my agent, and I had to scream into the phone to be heard over the loud background music. He says it’s the weirdest deal call he’s ever made…

By proposal? That’s amazing for a new author to achieve. Congratulations, Julie! Did you have smaller works previously published?

Julie Carobini: Before writing novels, I wrote many, many stories and articles for all sorts of publications. I received two awards from The National Association for American Pen Women: one for non-fiction, and the other for short story fiction.

As far as novels go, in total, how many books will we be seeing published in the near future by you?

Julie Carobini: I’ve published two novels in the past two years, and I have three more due out within the next two years.

In addition to writing your novels, what other endeavors do you do related to writing?

Julie Carobini: I blog nearly every weekday, and love it! We talk about writing on Mondays and Fridays, and whatever I want in between J I love my blog buddies! As for judging, I’ve recently been a judge in the ACFW Genesis contest—very fun. Lots of talent out there.

What inspired you to take up fiction writing? Or, who inspired you and what did they say or do to help you get started?

Julie Carobini: I can’t remember not wanting to write fiction, but after rededicating my life to Jesus, I decided to hone my skills by writing non-fiction stories about Him. These appeared in all sorts of Sunday School papers. After that, I began writing for magazines and newspapers, almost always incorporating some element of my newfound faith. I wrote a couple of novels, too, at this time, but they never sold.

Finally one day, I plucked a pink-covered novel from the shelves of B&N, and was hooked on fiction again! I decided to write a sassy, first-person story about a laid back beach chick who finds evidence that her older, distinguished husband had grown tired of her carefree ways—and what she does about it. That became my first published novel, Chocolate Beach.

What is special about you and your books?

Julie Carobini: Well, I adore the sea, and not just as some abstract thing that makes me happy, but because it’s one amazing demonstration of our God’s infinite creativity. It’s my favorite place to pray, and my books all have some fun element of God’s creation in them (for example, the heroine of Chocolate Beach loves watching dolphins; and the heroine of Truffles by the Sea, talks to a friendly sea lion.) I so hope readers feel the grace of God when reading my books.

How long would you say you studied the craft of fiction writing before selling, and how best do you learn the tools of writing?

Julie Carobini: Too long to say. I did find the teaching at the Mt. Hermon writer’s conference in CA to be most helpful! I’m not much of a book learner, though, and learn best by reading fiction that I like, and then taking it apart.

Have you felt like giving up writing?

Julie Carobini: I gave up several times, actually. Rejection hurts, especially when you believe that acceptance is coming. That’s happened to me more than once, both in fiction and non-fiction. But here’s the thing: God would not allow me to give up for good. He let me wallow a bit, even take a job in a completely different field, but that only seemed to stir up the embers within me. I realized I should not rely on other people—consult them, yes—but my faith has to be in God’s call and in my own hard work. Once I got that through my thick head J, I felt free to go for it again.

You mentioned that you had written two novels before Chocolate Beach, do you ever intend to try and sell them?

Julie Carobini: Now that I’m writing full-time, I can see why J I won’t try to sell them now, but I might use pieces of one of them in a future story. I really liked that heroine!

What’s a typical writing day for you?

Julie Carobini: I’m a mom to three kids (two teens and one elementary), and so much of my writing must be done while they’re in school. When I’m on deadline, I try to write 2k words a day. Now that summer’s here, I’m hoping that 1k a day will be enough to get me to my next deadline in plenty of time! But it’s a balancing act to be sure. Sometimes you just won’t have all the time that you need, and you’ll have to stay up late, or get up very early. Still, it’s a huge blessing to be able to do what I love, and to set my own hours as well.

About finding an agent: You sold your first novel without one, what’s your recommendation for new writers?

Julie Carobini: For me, it wasn’t necessary that first time out, because I’d already made a connection with the editor beforehand (this can be done through writer’s conferences). Did I tell you that she’d rejected a previous story? In her rejection, though, she said that if I ever had anything else for them, she’d like to take a look. So I took her up on that with my next proposal, and eventually had a sale.

That said, I’m hearing that it’s harder and harder to make a deal without an agent. I’d encourage writers to get to know as many agents and editors as they can through conferences, because hopefully you’ll meet the perfect team to work with that way.

What benefits do you find having an agent offers?

Julie Carobini: I did contract with agent Steve Laube after receiving word that Chocolate Beach had found a home. I wanted help with the business aspect, and with future deals. Anyway, I chose Steve because we’d met at a writer’s conference, and he had showed great interest in the story I was working on. He seemed to ‘get’ me and all my quirkiness (insert happy face here) We’ve since put together four more deals, and have a terrific working relationship.

Once you received the contract, what does your publishing house require of you in terms of marketing your books?

Julie Carobini: They expect me to be accessible and available, and I’ve tried hard to pull myself out of my shell and be those things J I participated in about 16 signings last year, and already 10 this year. Plus, store visits, interviews like these, mailings, and radio, oh my! There really is more to it than writing, you know?

Thanks for taking the time to share your road-to-publication journey with us, Julie. I pray you have much success with your writing and that we’ll be seeing books by Julie Carobini being published for years and years to come.

Julie Carobini: Thanks so much for having me here today, Eileen! And thanks too, readers, for stopping by. I’d love for you to visit my cyber-beach pad and say hello: or

Julie has one of the most beautiful, uplifting websites and blog that I've ever seen. You must check them out!

Okay, now let’s take a look at what books Julie Carobini has out for us to enjoy. With Beach and Sea in their title, I’m thinking they'll be perfect summer reads!

Truffles by the Sea,
Bethany House,
Feb. 2008;
ISBN-13: 978-0764204272

Gaby Flores has a penchant for drama and an unfortunate knack for dating Mr. So Wrong. After breaking off yet another relationship, watching her apartment building burn to the ground, and discovering that her dippy delivery guy has run off with most of her business, Gaby decides it’s time to turn things around.
So she moves to a tiny waterfront loft and takes on a new motto: “Be gullible no more!” With help from her friends, she works to rebuild her flower shop—and her life. But when legal troubles and quirky neighbors and two surprising romances enter her beachy world, Gaby’s motto and fledgling faith are put to the test.
Can a young woman prone to disaster in both work and love finally find happily ever after?

Chocolate Beach,
Bethany House,
Feb. 2007;
ISBN-13: 978-0764202612

Meet Bri Stone, a laid-back “beach chick” from Ventura, California. Bri has it all: the man of her dreams and their surf-ridin' teenage son, a chocolate-loving best pal, an adorable beach bungalow, and a kicky job as a Southern California tour bus host.
She also has a few things she didn't ask for: a know-it-all friend, a snobby mother-in-law, and a Fabio-meets-Dilbert boss. Ack! All three of them seem eager to share their strong opinions and suspicions about Bri's relationship with her husband, Douglas.
When Bri's rose-colored sunglasses crack after she finds evidence that Douglas has grown tired of her carefree ways, she resolves to win him back.
Can she reinvent herself—and recapture her husband’s heart?


Remember to leave a comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing to win a signed copy of Julie Carobini's Truffles by the Sea. The draw will take place Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm Eastern time.

July 3, 2008 Update: Congratulations goes to Kamewh for winning Julie Carobini's Truffles by the Sea. Finally a Family, written by Carolyne Aarsen, is the next book giveaway offered through my Canada Day post. I hope you'll check it out and enter to win.

Blessings and Good luck to everyone!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Psalm 119:130

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Ps. 119:130

I've decided to add Scripture Sunday to my blog roll. Each Sunday I'll post a new verse to share, and I thought for my first one I'd use the verse that I refer to often as I write.

The unfolding of your words gives light; helps me to focus my writing on illuminating God's ways, direction and will for His children in the fictional stories I pen, or rather, type into my keyboard. If my writing isn't for Him, then it isn't worth toiling over, after all. And trust me, I do toil over every single word when I get into the revision process. That's one of the little crosses that I bear for Him.

May we all have a blessed Sunday and may we find rest and peace in knowing He watches over us!

Sunday Blessings,


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Review of Megan DiMaria's Searching for Spice

Searching for Spice by Megan DiMaria
Published by Tyndale, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-1887-5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon Purchasing Information Quick Link

If you are in want of a love affair with your long-time spouse, Megan DiMaria’s debut novel, Searching for Spice, is the book for you.

With a hint of chick lit flair, Megan DiMaria delivers an entertaining, yet realistic depiction of the challenges of a seasoned marriage. The spunky heroine in Searching for Spice, Linda Revere, attempts to rejuvenate romance in her twenty-four year old marriage, only to discover interruptions and setbacks abounding not only from the world around her but from within, as well. As the story progresses, friends, family and work conflicts compound one another in Searching for Spice, all advancing the plot and the pace while making this novel one enlightening fast read.

I closed this book with far greater respect and admiration for my own husband. Through Linda and Jerry Revere’s story, Megan DiMaria subtly reveals the makings of a healthy marriage and shows that flirting isn’t only for the courtship years. And men, though the cover is predominantly pink and this story is written in first person from the heroine’s perspective, don’t let that deter you from reading this title. It gives great insight as to the inner workings of the female mind and shares a few of our secrets, too.

For more information about Megan DiMaria and Searching for Spice, please visit my author interview featuring Megan. Megan has created an entertaining and yet meaningful story that is well worth the read in Searching for Spice, in my humble opinion. Searching for Spice is available on Amazon. Click here for purchasing information.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Write! Canada Conference and Vocabulary Enhancement

(First, let me apologize for how these pics end up in this post. I'm not very good at html and placement. Hopefully you'll enjoy looking at them, though!)

Where do I begin with writing about my three intensive days of learning the craft of fiction writing in the beautiful, peaceful haven of Guelph Bible Conference Center? I'm still processing it all, so what ends up in this post will surely not be inclusive.

This was The Word Guild's twenty-forth writer's conference, my second to attend, and it did not disappoint. With approximately two-hundred attendees including faculty, there was ample opportunity to mingle, network, worship, and lots of great learning to be had, too. For me, this year's line-up of workshops and continuing classes seemed most fitting. I was especially excited about the Romance Writing Intensive continuing five-hour class lead by one of Steeple Hill Love Inspired's best authors, Carolyne Aarsen. Carolyne is an amazing author and a wonderful, personable teacher. You couldn't help but feel at ease in her presence and that makes for the absolute best learning experience possible. If you ever get an opportunity to hear Carolyne Aarsen speak or participate in a class she is leading, don't hesitate, get thee to the front of the room. You won't be disappointed. Her humor and sincerity blend into a spell-bounding talk and her shared knowledge offers great learning for all writers.

Our small class of eight for the continuing class on Romance Writing ended up being a mix of genre writers, not all of us were romance writers, but we all learned from each other. I believe we all went out from those classes with more direction for our own individual stories, as well as gaining valuable writing skills and concepts to enrich our craft.

Attending writing conferences is most definitely "the" way to move forward with respect to writing. No matter what genre you write or whether you write fiction or non-fiction, it's at writer's conferences that you get to connect with others struggling just as you are and learn from those who have defeated the hurdles you may be stumbling to concur yourself right now. The interaction, learning, and networking that happens at writer's conferences is invaluable and very much a stepping stone to reaching your dream as a writer.

If you are blessed enough to partake in a Christian Writer's Conference like Write! Canada, then you gain the added advantage of the most amazing worship time as well. The peace and security you feel when you wake up early in a mini resort-type place such as the Guelph Bible Conference Center, and stroll across the well-manicured grounds into a Fireside room, complete with a stone fireplace, to hear praise lifted for Him in the form of devotionals and wonderful music, is like none other. It's the perfect way to start the day and focus on writing for Him. Boy, I wish Write! Canada's worship team could be a part of every morning for the rest of my life! It's such a wonderful experience to be a part of!

I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to The Word Guild team who organized and prayed this wonderful Write! Canada conference into being! Your amazing effort and attention to detail is greatly appreciated, and although you'll never know how many lives your efforts have touched, please know that your work is truly a ministry and I'm praising God for all you've done! I'm looking forward to next year! See, I already have the countdown on my side bar. I'm not too anxious, am I?

Also, I was just reminded that Bonnie Grove, a member of The Word Guild, will be continuing in the spirit of learning at Write! Canada, with a great line-up of blog postings to help writer's fine-tune their manuscripts with some great guest bloggers participating as well. So bop on over to her blog, Fiction Matters, to continue the learning.

Considering the topic of this Friday musing, my vocabulary enhancement word of the week I've chosen is: Erudite.


er·u·dite [érry dt, érr dt]adj

very knowledgeable through study: having or showing great knowledge gained from study and reading scholars erudite in Sanskrit

[15th century. From Latin eruditus , past participle of erudire “to instruct,” from rudis “untrained” (source of English rude).]
-er·u·dite·ly, adv -er·u·dite·ness, n Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


er·u·dite [er-yoo-dahyt, er-oo-] –adjective

characterized by great knowledge; learned or scholarly: an erudite professor; an erudite commentary.

er·u·dite·ly, adverb
er·u·dite·ness, noun

—Synonyms educated, knowledgeable; wise, sapient. Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

My sentence for erudite:

The erudite writer attends conferences and shares their expertise and knowledge for budding writers to gain from. (And we budding writers thank you oh so much for sharing!)

I'd love to see what sentences you can come up with using erudite. And for your effort you'll be entered into my CATY drawing for a Starbucks gift card. May we all have a wonderful weekend ahead.



Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Authors-Helping-Writers interview with Leah Starr Baker and Giveaway of The Bunko Babes.

I welcome author Leah Starr Baker to my blog today. Leah is the debut author of the chick lit novel, The Bunko Babes. But chick lit isn’t the only genre Leah Starr Baker writes. Lets hope we’ll one day see her mystery/political intrigue novel on the shelves soon too.

To start off this interview, Leah, will you tell us about your hobbies?

Leah Starr Baker: I love to read, watch movies, shop, read fashion magazines, talk to my friend’s, play Bunko, go out to lunch with my girlfriends, play with my kids, hang out with my husband, sing, watch the Denver Broncos games, and watch the Houston Rockets. I am a huge sports fan.

Sounds like you’re a busy woman, Leah. Will you tell us about how your contract came to be?

Leah Starr Baker: I actually got offered a contract with Emerald Pointe Books out of Tulsa, OK over a lunch date. I had been waiting on pins and needles for months to hear from them. When the V.P. of Marketing and Sales slid that contract across the table I thought I would cry. I had worked so hard and waited a long time to have my dreams come to fruition.

Did writer’s conferences play a part in getting you a contract?

Leah Starr Baker: I have never entered into any writing contests.

Now that you’re published, do you plan to enter any contests with your new book?

Leah Starr Baker: I did enter “The Bunko Babes” into the Book of the Year contest for the ACFW. Keep your fingers crossed.

I wish you all the best in that, Leah! Will you tell us about your writing related endeavors since publication.

Leah Starr Baker: Getting my novel published has opened a lot of different avenues in my life. I built my own website ( and when time permits, I write blogs and post them there for others to enjoy. I have recently been speaking at Writing Clubs sharing the things that I have learned regarding Point of View and Character Development. I also visit Bunko groups both locally and in other states. I read a chapter from “The Bunko Babes” and share with them some of the challenges that God has brought me through. I love getting the opportunity to talk about the value of friendships and how to find your way through the crisis of our lives.

That’s an amazing speaking ministry, Leah, thanks for sharing. As far as your fiction writing, will you tell us who or what inspired it?

Leah Starr Baker: I have an insatiable appetite for reading especially novels. You will never find me without a book in my hand or stashed somewhere nearby. That love for stories was instilled in me at a very young age by my parents and most especially by my father. I spent many evenings as a child sitting in a chair in my father’s office watching the flickering flames of the fireplace, listening to Rod McKuen and seeing my dad bent over a yellow legal pad scratching out his latest prose, story, or sermon.

As a author himself (Richard Exley has published over 30 books), my dad always encouraged me to express myself through my writing but it would be many years before I ventured out into that area. I guess you could say I wanted to find a niche of my own. A talent and career that others wouldn’t think had come about just because of my father. But you can’t outrun your calling. Like Jonah I finally gave in to God’s wooing and found a sanctuary for my soul. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

That’s amazing and so very true. Often our search for independence drives us from what our true calling is. I’m glad you decided to follow your calling after all. Tell us, Leah, what is special or unique about you or your writing?

Leah Starr Baker: In “The Bunko Babes” I found myself writing in a first person point of view for the first time in my life. The entire novel is written through Rebecca Thornton’s eyes. What makes my writing style different than others is that I write in a way that draws the reader so deeply into the moment that they feel as if they are sitting right there in the living room with these 8 amazing women. At least, that is my goal and what I hope I accomplished.

So how long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer, Leah?

Leah Starr Baker: My road was a little shorter than some others due to the fact that I had an amazing resource that I could draw upon and still do draw upon. My father has invested an insane amount of time into nurturing me and teaching me the quiet quality of the novelist. I had hours of one on one instruction from one of the truly great storytellers of our time. I am truly blessed. As a result, it was only about 4 years from first putting pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) and seeing my debut novel in print. It is staggering to think of that little time.

Were rejections a part of your journey? If so, how did you handle them?

Leah Starr Baker: I received two formal rejections one from Plume Publishing and the other from a highly respected Literary Agent out of NYC. But in reality, I received daily rejection (in the form of literary critiquing) from my Dad along this entire journey.

My most difficult rejection came after I turned in the first draft of “The Bunko Babes”. Most of the editor’s didn’t initially like the character of Rebecca Thornton. They thought she was crass and unlovable. As a result, I was informed that unless I made some major changes in the story and to the character they wouldn’t publish it. Boy is that difficult to swallow. Especially since so much of my own personality is similar to Becca’s.

It was at that point that I had to step back and take an honest look at what I had created and what I wanted to do. One editor did say that if what the publisher’s wanted was a “Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” than that’s what they had but if they wanted a less intense read than it needed to be changed.

I reread the manuscript and went over it with my dad and decided that I could make it a stronger story involving more of the other 7 women and tempering Becca. Obviously, I had failed to make Becca three dimensional. I hadn’t gotten across to the reader all the levels that make up a person. So, I started again. The final product is something that I am extremely proud of and I am now grateful for the harsh criticism I received.

That’s so interesting. I’ve heard the softening request before, and you’re so right, it’s got to be difficult to separate yourself from the comments, but that’s what is expected of writers. Don’t take it personally, just do the work required to make it saleable. So how did you persevere?

Leah Starr Baker: Ever since I made the decision to pursue writing it has become a daily discipline for me. I once read a book (forgive me for not knowing the exact title. I can’t find the book) it laid out step by step how to complete your novel in 90 days. I followed it to the letter and within 90 days my first manuscript was complete and it was over 89,000 words. So, here’s my advice: always write at least 3 to 4 pages a day. Write for the sheer joy of writing not because you think it is going to be published. This is the one time in your writing journey that you will not have a deadline. Enjoy it. Once you are a published novelist, you will have to live on a deadline and that can be stressful and trying. Don’t misunderstand me having “The Bunko Babes” in actual book form is one of the best moments of my life but the deadlines were torture.

Leah, how many novels did you have completed before your first sale? Do you intend to try selling all of them? Why, or why not?

Leah Starr Baker: I had one complete novel and 50 pages of “The Bunko Babes”. So even though I was given a contract on an incomplete manuscript I had proven to them my ability to complete a project.

I have just recently picked up my first novel and am realizing now why it didn’t sell the first time around. I am currently working on that story in hopes to find a publisher for it as well. I love the storyline. I am also currently discussing the possibility of a sequel to “The Bunko Babes”. So watch for it.

I will! So how about actual writing time? Has the length of time required to write your stories changed along the way?

Leah Starr Baker: These are tough questions. I love them. I can tell that you are a writer yourself. Okay, I started shopping my first manuscript after two drafts. I am nothing if not confident. After receiving some interest in it after a Pitch and Shop Conference, I came home and did another draft of it. It did make it much stronger even though it was rejected. But nearly four years later and one published novel, I now see the holes in the story and the work that needs to be done to fully develop the characters. That is what I am working on right now. As for am I becoming a faster writer…no, I am becoming a more consistent writer and discovering that to write fast means to leave things out. Not something you want to do if you want to get published.

Oh, I didn’t want to hear that. I’m all for speeding this process up. But, hey, one must do what is required. I know! So tell us what a typical writing day is for you.

Leah Starr Baker: My life is divided into two areas: Summer and the rest of the year. From mid-August till the end of May, I write from 8 to 4. I do allow myself breaks especially if I’m not working on a specific project. But for the most part, I commit my days to writing or promoting. But life changes come summer. With a first and second grader, I have to revolve my days around entertaining them for the most part. At this time, my writing schedule shifts to after they go to bed. I don’t get near as much time to write but I do manage to write between 3 and 5 pages. I can’t stay up too late due to my systemic lupus or I’ll be down for days. It takes a lot of willpower and a supreme commitment to your craft.

Family balance, it’s great to see you have it prioritized. Coming to the publishing part, what does your publishing house expect of you with regard to self-promoting your novel(s)?

Leah Starr Baker: Quite a bit honestly. I work long hours writing e-mails, doing interviews, searching the internet for possible contacts, and scheduling my own speaking engagements. I also do book signings if I am fortunate enough to get them scheduled. I am constantly promoting “The Bunko Babes”. I eat, sleep and breathe promotions. It is a definite commitment and not an easy thing to do. Fortunately for me, I believe in my book and have no trouble promoting my skills and creating new opportunities for me. If I don’t promote, then sales will definitely decrease.

I ask this next question because it’s one huge problem for me. So here it goes. How do you decide when your manuscript is ready for your editor’s or agent’s eyes?

Leah Starr Baker: When your deadline is right upon you. LOLJ But it’s true. You can always find something that you can make better. Just do your best, work up until it has to be turned in and then let it go. Don’t worry, they’ll send it back to you with all kinds of comments and changes that need to be made.

Thanks for providing such wonderful and insightful answers, Leah. I wish you all the success with your book and many future ones for you too. Do you have any last words of encouragement for us wanna-be writers?

Leah Starr Baker: Don’t give up. If this is your dream or your calling, then go for it. No one can take it away from you. Keep creating, keep writing, and keep sharing it for always to experience. The only kind of bad writing is when you’re not writing at all.

But keep in mind this is a tough business and the numbers are stacked against us. Who cares? The impossible would never be accomplished if someone wasn’t willing to risk failing. It is much better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try at all.

Awesome advice! I’m holding that close right now. Thanks for all you’ve shared with us, Leah. Now comes the time to see what you’ve published.

The Bunko Babes,
Genre: Chick Lit,
Released: November 5, 2007,
ISBN: 0978513754,

"It's 6:15 p.m. on a Thursday evening and I'm rushing around getting ready for my weekly Bunko night. Picking up old newspapers and empty pizza boxes, I shove them haphazardly into the oven. Quickly, I brush the crumbs off the counter into the palm of my hand before tossing them in the sink. Glancing around, I peruse the kitchen looking for anything else that might give away my penchant for messiness."

Becca Thornton loves her thirteen year old twins, her husband Thomas, and her lovely home but she is frazzled, exhausted, and longing for some time with her girl friends. With the help of her three childhood friends, she starts a weekly Bunko group involving an eclectic group of women. Their original plan was for an evening of fun - indulging in their favorite foods while laughing and talking over a game of Bunko. Little did they know that they were embarking on a faith journey that would change their lives and perspectives forever.

Throughout the course of the year, these eight unique women come to depend upon one another in ways that will surprise them all. Beneath the surface of their everyday lives each woman is dealing with her own personal issues. In the midst of ordinary routines, a weekly game night, laughter and tears, The Bunko Babes find strength and faith as they turn to each other in crisis with the bonds of friendship.

A book that goes way beyond spa trips and beauty tips to deal with the real issues women face like infertility, loss, the heartache of infidelity, and temptation. Whether it is something as common as aging or as devastating as addiction, these "Bunko Babes" find new strength through faith and friendship as they turn to each other in times of crisis. In a society and time where role models are lacking, this is a book that teaches the value of women, mentoring women.

Giveaway Info:
Remember to leave a comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing to win a copy of The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker. The draw will take place Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 9:00 pm Eastern time.

June 26th update: CONGRATULATIONS GOES TO CHARLENE SMITH! Charlene will soon receive a copy of The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker.

Blessings and Good luck to everyone!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Review of Debra Ullrick's The Bride Wore Coveralls

Back Cover Blurb: Can Bitter Rivals Come To Love Each Other? Fighting deep prejudice against her femininity, her choice of vehicle, and even her heritage, Camara Cole is determined to win the mud-bog racing championship this year. Her biggest competition seems also to be her worst enemy.

Chase Lamar has been racing mud-boggers as long as Camara, and he grudgingly admits she's the best driver-mechanic he knows. Their rivalry has been long and bitter. But Chase is a new Christian. As he begins to change, he finds his relationship with Camara changing, too.

When Camara's vehicle is sabotaged, she naturally blames Chase, despite a growing attraction. Chase must prove his innocence, but evidence points his way. When the smoke clears and the truth is known, will each be able to extend forgiveness, maybe even love?

My Review:

The Bride Wore Coveralls is most definitely an Inspirational romance. The level of spirituality in this story is as equally refreshing as the amount of romance weaved in throughout the whole book. I loved that! There is no doubt that these two rivals will get together, so disbelief has nowhere to enter. The challenges they meet and the growing relationship between them carries Debra Ullrick's book right to the last page and what a unique setting and hobby she presents in this story. I learned things that I never knew existed before. So very cool!

With all that the young heroine and hero have the story lends itself to a fairytale romance, but make no mistake, this book has meaning and there is at least one lesson in it for each of us. For some us, like me, there are more, but most importantly, those lessons are delivered in an entertaining and identifiable way. Great story, Debra! Thanks for the read!

You can purchase, The Bride Wore Coveralls, by calling: (740) 922-7280, or by going to and downloading their order form.



Friday, June 13, 2008

Musings Friday and Vocabulary Enhancement

Hello, All:

I've written this post ahead of time as I am currently at Write! Canada, a writer's conference in Guelph, Ontario. I'm hoping that I'm learning lots and meeting wonderful writing friends and getting reacquainted with others that I met last year at this conference, too. The praise time is likely a highlight for me, once again, since the coordinators of this event do such a wonderful job of planning daily worship. I so look forward to the songs and readings!

Tucker update: Tucker is doing wonderful. The cast came off just in time for our unseasonably high temperatures. Praise God. We bought our Little Man a doggy stroller so that he can join Tippy and I on our walks again. The doctor has limited his exercise for the next couple months to bathroom breaks only until his bones are well healed, so the only way he can get a walk is by being carried or pushed in a stroller. I don't relish carrying him in this heat, so the stroller won out. I must say that I feel rather foolish pushing a doggy stroller while being tugged along by another dog. I'm sure people are thinking I'm nuts not to just walk the other pooch too since I'm walking the big black one anyway. And trust me, as soon as Tucker gets the go-ahead to walk for exercise again, he's out of that stroller. He can keep up with Tippy no problem when all four legs are functioning and that's what I pray will happen again soon. We are very pleased with how he is doing!

This has been a busy week of preparing for my absence in our home as well as getting all my ducks in a row for conference prep, so I haven't much more in the way of musings this week. Too busy to really sit and think up a great topic quite frankly. Please forgive me. But I did come across an interesting word in one of the submissions I critiqued for the Romance Intensive course I'm taking. So I think I'll use it for my Vocabulary Enhancement word.

The word of the week: Fisticuffs.

fist·i·cuffs [físti kùfs]npl

Definition: fighting with fists: fighting using the fists (archaic or humorous)

[Early 17th century. Origin uncertain: probably from fisty “with the fists” + cuff2 “blow.”]Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Using fisticuffs in a sentence: The fisticuffs continued as the entertained onlookers cheered the participants on.

May you all have a wonderful weekend and may fisticuffs NOT be a part of it!



Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Interview with Debra Ullrick and Giveaway of her book: The Bride Wore Coveralls

A big welcome goes out to Debra Ullrick, debut author of The Bride Wore Coveralls. Debra writes contemporary Christian romances, Christian historical and Christian romantic suspense novels. One busy woman! And you’ll never guess what one of Debra’s hobbies is.

Now that I’ve dangled the bait, I’ll just go ahead and ask. Tell us about your hobbies, Debra.

Debra Ullrick: I collect classic car and monster truck models. I love classic auto shows, Monster Jam rallies, mud-bog races, drag races, demolition derbies, and figure eight races. Can you tell I love cars and trucks? *smiling* I love to read, write, draw western art using charcoal and pastels, play word games such as, Scrabble, Bookworm, Wheel of Fortune, and crossword puzzles. I love to spend time with my writer buddies, and talk on the phone.

That’s too cool. Debra, will you tell us about the “acceptance call” and how it made you feel?

Debra Ullrick: When I first got the email, I was so afraid to open it. As soon as I clicked on it, I closed my eyes and slowly opened them and braced myself. When I saw that first line, “We are happy to inform you…” I can’t describe the joy I felt and the relief that came over me. Tears chased each other as I stared at the email for several minutes. Then I reread it umpteen times to make sure it really said that they were offering me a contract for, The Bride Wore Coveralls. After the initial shock wore off, I whooped and hollered and called Snoopy to dance with me while I made a ton of phone calls.

I can feel your excitement through that response. It’s wonderful. So how long did it take you to calm down?

Debra Ullrick: A few hours at least because I called a bazillion people.

A bazillion? Tell us about the first few at least.

Debra Ullrick: My husband, Rick. Second? My mentor/best friend, Staci Stallings, then Jeanne Leach, who was my first mentor and a very dear friend too. Then Michelle Sutton who is another one of my dear friends. After that, it’s all a blur. *smiling*

So, how many books have you published so far?

Debra Ullrick: Only one right now. Déjà vu Bride, which is the sequel to, The Bride Wore Coveralls, is sitting on my acquisition editor’s desk. And I’m currently working on, Powder Puff Bride, the final book in my racing bride’s series.

With all the time required for these stories, are you able to find time to keep a blog, judge writer’s contests, write reviews, etc. too?

Debra Ullrick: I’ve judged several contests. I do write reviews, but I must say I’m definitely not your normal reviewer. It throws me on a drag whenever I read a review that gives away a lot of the plot. So, instead, I like to write reviews with a lot of unanswered questions. I post my reviews on,, and my blog at I also belong to Shoutlife.

Is there something unique or special about you or how you write that you would like to tell us about, Debra?

Debra Ullrick: I don’t know if it’s special or unique, but the first thing I do when I sit down to write is pray. I’ve discovered if I don’t ask the Holy Spirit to guide me and show me what to do or what happens next, then I almost always hit a block. As soon as I stop and spend time in prayer, the flow starts up again. Though sometimes when I’ve hit a block, I’ve discovered that there’s a piece of the puzzle that hasn’t been revealed yet. As soon as the Holy Spirit reveals that particular missing piece in my story through whatever channel He chooses to, then the story flows again. Not only that, sometimes I ask myself questions too. You know, the “what if” game. Or I might call one of my friends and have them help me plot.

Okay, into the nitty-gritty. How long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?

Debra Ullrick: Six years.

You know all about perseverance then, Debra. I’m still trying to master that. Will you tell us how you survived rejections?

Debra Ullrick: My first rejection was from Love Inspired. I have to say I wasn’t disappointed at that time, because when I submitted it, I didn’t feel ready to commit to a three book series. I only had the first one written, and as a seat-of-the-pants writer it can be intimidating to send in a proposal for a three book series when only one of them is finished. I’m a bit more confident now. Not in my ability to get them written, but in God’s ability to get them written through me.

How did you keep motivated during those six years?

Debra Ullrick: The most important thing for me during this time was I had friends and people I trusted that I turned to whenever I got negative critiques or conflicting opinions. Their encouragement is what kept me going and kept me sane. Because when you receive a ton of different opinions, it’s hard to know who’s right, especially as a new author. Also, they helped me when the rules became stifling. It’s important to learn the guidelines, but when they rob your creativity and voice, then you need to stop and ask the Holy Spirit to send you a person, or persons, who understand your unique style and your distinctive writer’s voice.

Another thing that helped is, I like to think—deadline. If I put a deadline on myself, it helps me to meet that goal and work harder. However, I don’t let the deadline goal become a legalistic thing, because I know the Holy Spirit has a timing for everything, and as long as I take the steps He is asking me to take, write what and when as He leads me, then things work out much better. When I struggle to do it on my own, it becomes a chore and extremely frustrating.

That’s great advice. I need to remember that! Tell us, did you write any “practice” novels or did you revise and edit your initial story until it sold?

Debra Ullrick: The Bride Wore Coveralls was rewritten scads of times. The title changed several times too.

How long did it take you to write your story?

Debra Ullrick: Oh gosh, it took me a year and half to rewrite the story. Then I had to make revisions and resubmit it.

Have you noticed a decrease in the time it takes you to complete novels to your satisfaction now?
Debra Ullrick: Oh hi, you darn up and betcha. It doesn’t take nearly as long to write a novel now. For two main reasons. One, I now turn to the Holy Spirit and trust in His guidance and timing. Two, I’ve learned a lot about POV, active vs. passive, showing vs. telling, succinctness etc. Do I have it all figured out? NO WAY! I’m still learning and growing with each new book I write. And I still struggle with punctuation. Drat! *smiling*

How do you write? Ie. SOTP, Compulsive plotster, etc.

Debra Ullrick: I’m a SOTP writer. Plus, I’m a very visual person. My mentor, Staci Stallings, knows this, so she works with me according to how I learn. She’s taught me to close my eyes and watch the story play through my mind.

She’s also had me watch a scene in a movie, then rewrite it according to how I saw it. She does it too, then we compare. I’ve learned a great deal doing this. I saw what I was lacking in my writing. Staci had all the layers and I didn’t. Mine was mechanical, and she touched on all the senses.

Plus, I watch movies and pay attention to the different body languages and facial features etc.

Wow, what a great way to learn. I’ve go to try that. Tell us what a typical writing day is like for you, Debra.

Debra Ullrick: I try to sit down every afternoon and write for a few hours. It has to be quiet with no distractions. If I’m distracted, it really stops the flow for me. Sometimes I’ll set a goal to write a certain amount of words that day. But not usually. I let the Lord guide me.

As a fairly new author, how important do you feel agent representation is in this industry for first sales?

Debra Ullrick: It depends on if you are able to go to a writer’s conference or not. I pitched my story, The Bride Wore Coveralls, to Jim Peterson at the ACRW conference back in 2004. I know a lot of multi-pubbed authors who obtain agents after they have several books in print. Again, I think it is personal preference and being led by the Holy Spirit.

What was the timeframe involved between signing your initial contract to seeing your book on the shelves?

Debra Ullrick: I was notified December 2006, got my contract in April 2007, and my book came out in April 2008.

And how many revisions or edits does your publishing house generally request during that timeframe?

Debra Ullrick: When I got my review, there were a lot of revisions I had to make. When I got my copyedit changes, there weren’t quite as many as the review. And when I got my final galley, I only found a few mistakes.

I must say, the people who reviewed my story after I got my contract did an excellent job with their suggestions. It made my story much stronger and better.

What does your publishing house expect of you with regard to self-promoting your novel(s)?

Debra Ullrick: I don’t know that they do. I just do whatever I can to promote my book. Barbour Publishing provided me with some beautiful bookmarks that I gave away to friends, family, church, etc. I announced, The Bride Wore Coveralls, on Shoutlife and my blog. Plus, I’ve made numerous phone calls, and sent several free copies out to various places.

With all the revisions you did, how did you finally decide your manuscript was ready for your editor’s or agent’s eyes?

Debra Ullrick: Even now that my story is in print, I see things I wish I would have changed. I guess you’d have to go with your gut feeling. Or when the Lord says it’s time to submit, submit. Keep in mind that just because God tells you to submit something, it isn’t a guarantee that it’ll be published. I think we make the mistake of thinking just because God led us to submit a story to a certain publisher that that publisher will buy it. That’s not always true. Does that mean that God didn’t really tell you to? I don’t believe that. I felt led to send my story to Love Inspired and I got turned down. Now I look back on that time and thank God that they did. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about submitting a proposal, about handling rejection, and what to do and what not to do. Did I hear from God? You betcha. Did Love Inspired? Yeppers.

Thanks so much for sharing all this with us, Debra. Do you have any further direction or thoughts that you care to share with weary authors-in-training?

Debra Ullrick: Don’t give up. Randy Ingermanson told me one time that if you find someone who understands your unique writer’s voice and style, they are worth their weight in gold. He’s so right. God sent me someone who doesn’t try to change my voice, but gently guides me by using my style and enhancing it. She is worth more than her weight in gold.

Also, don’t get bogged down by the rules. Don’t misunderstand me, guidelines and rules help us to write better. However, I think we have to be careful that we don’t let the rules stifle our creativity, or that we become so bogged down by the rules we quit writing all together. All I’m saying is, be careful that you don’t become legalistic with the rules. Because where there’s legalism, there’s death; death to a dream, death to creativity, death to the unique voice and writing style that God gave you.

Most importantly, let the Lord be your guide. Ask Him to send you a person, or persons, who can help you become the best you can be. And whenever that person tells you to change something, ask the Lord if they’re right. If He says yes, then ask Him how He would like it changed. I made the mistake of getting too many opinions when I first started and all it did was confuse me and discourage me. I didn’t know who to listen to. God sent me someone who really listened to me and understood me. She encouraged me and worked with me and not against me. That’s when things changed for me. Am I saying you shouldn’t get several opinions? That’s between you and God. We’re all unique individuals who learn differently. You have to discover what works best for you. But you’ll never go wrong by asking the Holy Spirit to show you who and what does work best for you.

Great advice, Debra! Thank You! I wish you all the best with your series and future books to come!

Let’s hear about The Bride Wore Coveralls.

Tell us what gave you this story?

Debra Ullrick: I wrote, The Bride Wore Coveralls, after I rode with my nephew in his bog truck as he raced through the super deep mud pit. What a thrill! They say to write what you know, or what you’re passionate about. Well, I love mud-bog racing, so I wrote, The Bride Wore Coveralls.


ISBN: 9781602600317

You can purchase, The Bride Wore Coveralls, by calling: (740) 922-7280, or by going to and downloading their order form.

Fighting deep prejudice against her femininity, her choice of vehicle, and even her heritage, Camara Cole is determined to win the mud-bog racing championship this year. Her biggest competition seems also to be her worst enemy. Chase Lamar has been racing mud-boggers as long as Camara, and he grudgingly admits she's the best driver-mechanic he knows. Their rivalry has been long and bitter. But Chase is a new Christian. As he begins to change, he finds his relationship with Camara changing, too. When Camara's vehicle is sabatoged, she naturally blames Chase, despite a growing attraction. Chase must prove his innocence, but evidence points his way. When the smoke clears and the truth is known, will each be able to extend forgiveness, maybe even love?


Remember to leave a comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing to win a copy of The Bride Wore Coveralls by Debra Ullrick. The draw will take place Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 9:00 pm Eastern time.

June 19th update: Congratulations goes to stampedwithgrace! You won Debra's The Bride Wore Coveralls. Please e-mail me with your snail mail address to eileenastels [at] rogers [dot] com. Thanks to all who participated and I hope Debra's journey thus far helped many of you!

Blessings and Good luck to everyone!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Come Visit Me at Writers' Rest--We're discussing Emotion there.

Hi, All:

I'm blogging on Writers' Rest today as well. Pop on over and see what I have to say about evoking emotion into your writing. Drop a comment in there on how you show emotion in your own writing and I'll add a ballot to my CATY Giveaway for each of the comments left in that post as well.



Friday, June 6, 2008

Writing Essentials and Vocabulary Enhancement

Hi, Everyone:

My hubby picked a great word for my vocabulary enhancement part of this post, but for an entirely different reason than you'll find me using it below.

He's been away on a business trip since Tuesday and felt the word fitting regarding how he felt about our girls and me, with missing us and all. Oh, to be so in love nearly eighteen years into our marriage. We are truly blessed! I praise God for him and our girls every hour of every day. No wonder I gravitate to romances, eh? (Yes, I am truly Canadian), and I guess that's why I read books like Keeping His Pants On...Until He Gets Home, too. Keeps the spark alive. Hey, if you haven't already commented in the posting regarding this new release to get in on the wonderful Blog Tour basket being offered as a giveaway to all commenters throughout the blogs hosting Joyce S. Oglesby's interview and book release info, stop into this post after reading this one and see what it's all about and leave a comment if you want in on the drawing. Good luck to everyone!

Okay, enough sappiness. I'm sure if cyber space had a camera on many of you you'd be gagging right now. Sorry, but I couldn't resist.

I'm actually going to take this time to talk about Writer's Conferences. A very important and motivating topic for sure. If you happen to pick the right Writer's Conference to attend, then there is much to be gained from them! These conferences aren't cheap, especially when you include travel and lodging in with the cost, so you have to be choosey--no doubt about it.

In the past I've attended an ORWA conference in Ottawa called Sweet and Spicy. This was a small gathering with a wonderful teaching lineup. The intimate and small group was just what I needed as my first Writer's Conference experience being the natural introvert that I am. I learned a lot at that conference and wish I could attend the second edition of it coming up this fall, Sweat & Spicy 2, but I'm hoping to swing the ACFW National Conference instead to try it out. I'm told this one is amazing and huge. Please God prepare me well for it!

Writer's conferences are on my mind a lot lately as I'm going to my second Write! Canada conference in Guelph, Ontario next week. (I'm getting very familiar with Guelph as I visit there weekly with my little Tucker for splint/bandage changes.) Last year I thoroughly enjoyed EVERYTHING about this conference. The early morning praise time was amazing and the perfect way to start the day and the workshops were informative, directional, and most helpful!

This year I believe next to the amazing praise time, the highlight for me will be the Romance Intensive course lead by Carolyne Aarsen. So apropos to my desired line of writing, isn't it? I'm currently working through critiquing the other participants' 3000-word submissions and looking so forward to all that we can share in this five-hour intensive class spread over the three day conference. Other highlights will be learning about Platforms, Blogging so people will read your posts, hearing the three key-note speakers presentations, one of which will be Carolyne Aarsen too and much, much more.
As with all conferences, there will be editors and agents there too. My shy nature keeps me from interacting with many of them, but it is nice to get seated at a table with one of them and just eaves drop in on their conversations and occasionally answer a question they may ask. A good way for us introverts to scout out who we may or may not want to work with once we're reading for the pitching stage.
The bottom line, though, is that Writer's Conferences host a wealth of knowledge, networking, friendship-building and hands-on-learning that you can't find anywhere else in this industry. So take a look around, get some recommendations and if you are seriously wanting to grow in the craft of writing begin attending conferences that boast a line-up you can gain much from. Pray lots for the event to be graced by God's presence and that you might hear what He wants you to. That's where I'm at now.

Good luck to everyone as they conference shop and please do feel free to drop me a comment on your experiences and how best you have utilized conferences in the past.


Tucker Update: Yesterday we went to the OVC for Tucker's weekly check and bandage/split change, but this week they were adding his first post-op x-rays to the routine. Guess what? I'm so very pleased to announce that new bone is growing and fusing the breaks together. The bones are still in perfect alignment (well, as perfect as reset bones can be) and the pins and screw are still in the identical position that the surgeon placed them in during his three-hour operation. So, this is the absolute best case scenario we were praying for. He came home free of bandages and splint and his stitches were removed as well.

I've got to tell you, though, our little Tucker has chicken thin legs when you see them shaved. He's adorable.

What's ahead: Well, it's highly likely that our little guy will not keep those pins and screw in his leg forever. Most need them removed, which will require a second operation sometime in the future. For now, we need to encourage him to use his healing leg so that it will stimulate more bone regrowth, but we also have to watch that he uses it cautiously until the breaks are well recovered. We're on the right track, but much can go wrong from here, so prayers are still needed. Thanks all for your concern and joining in my family's prayers. He's hearing us, and so far He's agreeing with what we're asking! Praise God!

On with my Vocabulary Enhancement for this week.
This week's word is: Desideratum

Some definitions:
something desired as a necessity; "the desiderata for a vacation are time and money"
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

de·sid·er·a·tum [di sìddə rtəm, di sìddə ráytəm]

(plural de·sid·er·a·ta [di sìddə rtə, di sìddə ráytə]) n

something desired: something that is desired or felt to be essential (formal)

[Mid-17th century. From Latin , a form of the past participle of desiderare (see desire).]Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

And my chosen sentence for Desideratum will use the plural version of it, Desiderata:

Writer's conferences should be considered desiderata for all who want to grow in the field of writing.

I welcome your sentences using desideratum or desiderata.
Be sure to check out my Current Giveaways, links are available to the appropriate posts on the top of the left-hand side bar. Comment away and Good Luck to everyone! And remember, commenting in any of my posts also enters you into my CATY Giveaway drawing each month! My way of saying thank you for stopping by.

May you have a blessed weekend and may you see how desideratum your spouse, dear friend, or relative has become to you and may you find an appropriate way to let them know of their importance in your life.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Author Interview With Debbie Fuller Thomas with Giveaway

I welcome Debbie Fuller Thomas to my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview segment this week. Debbie writes Women’s/General fiction and her debut novel which just released this month is Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. Debbie will be giving away a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon next week to one lucky person who leaves a comment in this posting.

Debbie, what hobbies do you have?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I work full-time, so writing is my other life. I don’t really have time for hobbies at this point.

Makes perfect sense to me. Tell us about the “acceptance call”, please.

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I received the call from my agent, Wendy Lawton, five minutes after saying ‘goodbye’ to our youngest son at the Marine recruiting station as he prepared to leave for 13 weeks of boot camp. God’s timing is perfect – I was at my lowest point, and needed major uplifting.

How many books have you published and over what period of time?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: This is my debut novel, although I’ve contributed to Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul and Lord, I Was Happy Shallow, in addition to publishing some magazine articles

How do you keep in touch with your readers?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I have a blog through my website at and I am just exploring opportunities for speaking engagements. My blog address is

Tell us, Debbie, how long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I believe my story is unusual because I sold the first article I ever sent to a publisher and didn’t sell another thing for 19 years! Shortly after that first sale, I changed from writing articles to fiction, and fiction can be a long apprenticeship. I tried writing historicals, then juvenile fiction, and ended up writing contemporary women’s fiction. I was also employed full-time, so I wrote in stolen moments, read lots of fiction and books on writing, and went to writer’s conferences. I also gathered a circle of friends who were writers, both published and unpublished.

How do handle rejections?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: Rejection doesn’t always mean your writing is poor or your ideas are bad. It can simply be a matter of unfortunate timing. I pitched my first (unpublished) book, a prairie romance, at a conference just as editors were saying they had no slots left for prairie romances. I pitched Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon as juvenile fiction at a time when editors weren’t buying juvenile fiction. The market had been open when I began working on it, but since I was working full-time, it was slow-going, and the market had changed by the time it was ready. An agent then suggested that I give it a more adult viewpoint. Of course, I didn’t really want to completely rewrite it, but I ended up with a mother-daughter dual viewpoint story that I think works. I’ve had many ‘discussions’ with God over the years about getting published, and I’ve realized that I really love writing contemporary women’s fiction, and I may have ended up writing in a different genre than the one He intended if I’d gotten published earlier.

Wow, that’s great insight, Debbie. Tell us about your “practice” novels.

Debbie Fuller Thomas: My practice novel was a prairie romance which sits in a drawer. I love the characters and their story, and through it I learned how to plot a novel and develop characters and dialogue, but I don’t think it will ever be published.

Will you tell us how you write?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I plot with a loose outline and some vivid scenes that present themselves. I don’t like to have a brainstorm ¾ of the way through and have to go back and adjust everything to suit it. Of course, that still happens.

What is a typical writing day for you?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I get up at 6:00 and write until about 8:00 when I have to get ready for work. Then I begin again in the evening at about 7:00. Sometimes I fall asleep at my laptop. I’ve learned that when my head starts dipping, it’s time to quit. Nothing I type after that point makes any sense, and it’s more productive to get some sleep. I keep my notebook with me at all times, in case an idea comes to me at a stoplight, or at the doctor’s office, etc.

Oh, I know what you mean. I have a little black flip pad in my purse that often gets pulled out at the stoplight.

How important do you feel agent representation is in this industry for first sales?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I owe my first book sale to my agent. She knows her business and looks out for me. The business changes too fast to try to stay on top of it, and she has relationships with editors that I could never have as a newbie.

How important is a platform to you?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I didn’t have a platform to begin with, so it didn’t get me a sale. I think the platform will come out of my books, since it looks like there may be a common thread in the next one.

Regarding publishing, can you give us an idea of what time is involved in seeing your book on the shelf?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: I signed in October (the book was completed) and the book debuts June 1st. I think it is a rather quick turnaround, though. I did one rewrite with a wonderful, insightful editor. I don’t honestly know if that will be my experience the next time.

What does your publishing house expect of you with regard to self-promoting your novel?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: Travel to book signings, postcards & bookmarks (with book cover), book giveaways, blog tours, a website, book clubs, radio or TV interviews – to name a few.

You’re one busy woman. Thanks for sharing all this, Debbie, and I wish you much success in your writing. Do you have any final thoughts for weary authors-in-training?

Debbie Fuller Thomas: If you ever get to the point where you consider giving up, remember the times when someone who knows the business has told you that you have talent or a good idea. Keep a file of “warm fuzzies” for positive critique comments, inspiring quotes from your favorite authors (they struggled, too), or anything that reminds you that God has given you some talent. God sees the whole span of our lives and we only see short-term. He’s working, we just can’t see it.

Oh, I needed that. Thanks, Debbie! Please tell us a little about your new book, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon
Release date: June 1, 2008
ISBN #0802487339
Moody Publishers, Women’s Fiction

A mother discovers the child she lost was switched at birth.A daughter discovers the family she lost was never hers.

I got the idea for this story from an article in People magazine about two toddlers switched at birth. It was the day of my last radiation treatment for breast cancer, and my family was waiting in the loaded car to drive to Disneyland. Along the way, I got inspired and started writing in the car. When we arrived, my family badgered me until I set it aside, but the story kept going in my head.

Debbie, thanks for sharing and I pray for continued health and many more books from you. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.

Giveaway Info:

Remember to leave a comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing to win a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas. The draw will take place Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 9:00 pm Eastern time.

June 12 Update: Congratulations to ChristyJan. You won! Thanks to all who entered and I wish you all the best of luck next time.

Blessings and Good luck to everyone!