Friday, July 31, 2009

Save the Penguins... and a Book Giveaway

We interrupt my Love Is... Friday post for a peek at author Betsy St. Amant and her debut Steeple Hill Love Inspired novel Return to Love that released this month, July 2009.

Return to Love is a fun read! I loved the penguins in it, especially their names. And the youth group involvement brought back so many fond memories for me. The main characters, Gracie and Carter, were well developed and I could connect with and understand each of their reservations and concerns. Betsy St. Amant offers some wonderful one liners in this novel too. She had me chortling more than once at her unique characters.

I'm really looking forward to her next story, A Valentine's Wish, being released February 2010 by Steeple Hill LI as well.

Betsy was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. So here they are:

1) Your writing is so fresh, fun, and telling, Betsy. And I've just got to know where a couple lines came from. Lines like: "You're making a bird's nest out of French fries." and "Carter shifted in the dark theater, wishing he were sitting beside Gracie instead of Andy, who smacked popcorn like a six-year-old." Did these come from life experiences, or is this solely your creative mind at work?

Well thank you! I guess it was just my creativity coming through, because those lines weren't premeditated. That's when writing is so fun to me, in those moments where something funny or completely random pops out of your fingers onto the keyboard and you laugh at yourself. =)

2) I know you have another book contracted for Steeple Hill LI to come out in 2010, so can you tell us now that you're on the publishing treadmill, how long does it take you from start to submission to write an LI novel? And just for comparison, how long did it take you to write and prepare Return to Love before you submitted it?

I have two books scheduled for 2010 so far. The first is the sequel to Return to Love, titled A Valentine's Wish, which picks up with Lori's story at a chocolate boutique in the French quarter. It releases February 2010. My third Steeple Hill novel will release April 2010 and its a separate story, set on a dude ranch in Texas, titled Rodeo Sweetheart.

Now that I'm selling on proposal to Steeple Hill, I have to have my story plotted out, obviously, to make the sell. I have deadlines to work with now too, so obviously I am more motivated! On average, from proposal submission to turning in the final manuscript is about 4 months. Then of course the rest of the process varies over the next several months, back and forth with my editor--revisions, line edits, final galleys, etc.

Return to Love took me much longer to write compared to my second two SH novels because of the circumstances. I wrote the story and my agent submitted it. Then a few weeks later, SH sent me a revision letter, saying they were interested but would need to see major changes before saying anything about a contract. I made the revisions, resubmitted, and then was contracted. Upon contracting there were a few more plot tweaks, then line edits, etc. And WHEW, we finally had a book. =)

3) And lastly, what compels you to write short (55k to 60k word) category romances? You do it so well, that I'm assuming your compelled.

Well thanks!! I don't feel that way! haha!! I guess I do what I have to. Some stories it's easier to write "short", but other times its a struggle and I go over my word count and then have to cut. One day I do hope to publish my full length stories, I have several--but that's in God's timing! =)

And here's Return to Love's Back cover blurb: "I'm not the man I used to be!" - if only Gracie Broussard could believe that. Years ago, Cater Alexander broke her heart and betrayed her. Now, just when she needs him most, he's back--asking her to believe he's changed. But this time, it's not just Gracie who'll be hurt if he disappears. A penguin keeper, Gracie urgently needs to find a new home for her beloved birds. Carter is the only one who can help. He promises that she can trust him, that he's not the rebel he once was. And that he needs Gracie as much as her birds do.

Now, to order a copy of Return to Love, click here for the link. You can also try and win a copy through my blog by letting me know you want your name put in the drawing in the comment section. I'll draw the winner next Tuesday evening and post their name on Wednesday.

Good Luck Everyone!!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Preparing for the Cottage

I'm getting so excited. In less than two weeks we are packing up and heading to cottage country--the whole family, dogs included--one full week of bonding, fun, and relaxation time together.

We won't have Internet access, so that'll be my unplug week. Now, this could be a problem, though, for my munchkins, two of which are huge fans of the Internet and use it to interact with their multitude of teenage friends. So, in order to keep them busy and minimize their Internet withdrawal symptoms, I'm trying to come up with some fun activities that can keep us all busy, and happy.

Here's what I have so far:

Go-karting (it's near our cottage, but $$ dictates that this won't be a regular event throughout the week)
Camp fires with lots of smore ingredients and spidy wieners


that's it. I know, that's a sad list, isn't it!

Anyone have any suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

Hope you'll stop by on Friday for a quick interview with author Betsy St. Amant and a book giveaway offer, and then on Monday, I'll share a couple favorite cottage recipes I have from many moons ago that we always took to the cottage prior to becoming parents. If you have a great cottage recipe of your own, I hope you'll share it on Monday too. We'll be pre-preparing snacks and meals to take with us on vacation throughout next week. Some new ones to try would be wonderful!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, July 27, 2009

Got the Call last week

No silly! Not one from an agent or editor. Are you crazy? I haven't even sent anything out yet.

No, this was an inner call that sent my writing in a new direction, no, actually, in an old direction. I still have about 15,000 words to go to finish my first draft of the story that's a Genesis finalist, so I'm in a bit of a quandary getting this call or tug or whatever you want to label it at this time. But what do you do?

An old story beckoned me to make another pass of revisions, and man, I'm finding myself falling in love with it all over again. Don't you just love it when your inners flutter and dance in anticipation of the scenes to come? And the neurons in your head churn and spin ways to make the current scene more active, conflict riddled, and tight. These are the experiences that verify that I followed the right call this past week.


And there's always a but, right?

I'm investing a good chunk of savings to head to Denver in September to attend my first (and probably last, considering the expense) ACFW conference, and I need that Genesis finalist ms to be complete with at least one round of revisions under it so that I can take full advantage of being a finalist, and pitch that baby in hopes of receiving some partial requests. But the revisions to this other novel are taking more time than I expected, though they really are helping, so I must keep going. So I'm reaching out and asking for prayer.

If you can squeeze another item into your prayer agenda, I'd really appreciate your prayers regarding my fitting all this in while maintaining a relationship with my family. God is huge, and I know if I listen to His guidance He'll show me the way to accomplish all this within two months. But I'm a little deaf at times, so I'd appreciate you asking Him to shout when He's talking to me.

I'm praying that we all have a productive and eventful week ahead! Blessings to you all!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, July 24, 2009

Love is...

aiding in the fostering of friendships!

I'm cheating because I know hubby is going on a boys weekend away tonight with his university buddies. Knowing this reminded me of how important it is to help the ones we love develop, keep, and strengthen their friendships. And so, instead of wallowing in loneliness (not like our three munchkins will give me much time to do that anyway) I'm sending hubby with Kettle salt and pepper chips, various other snacks, Gatorade, and huge blessings for a fun, relaxing, stress-free weekend without me or his children or his various four-legged dependents, either.

So my challenge for all you out there looking for one this week, is to encourage your spouse to foster their friendships, whether it be a a free hour to shoot the breeze over whacking some golf balls side by side, or helping a friend build a deck, or going to a horror flick with a buddy, whatever, just help them carve a little more time than usual for fostering their friendships this week.

Oh, and returning to last week's challenge: it turns out that assorted boxes of chocolates are seasonal for non-specialty stores--Valentine's and Christmas only. So I had to go to Laura Secords (Canada's big chocolate stores) and purchase a box from there that contains the chart hubby loves to use in selecting his morsel of the moment. I went to Staples and had a collage of photo's photocopied to wrap the cover of the box in for a little uniqueness, since a candy dish really wouldn't be the best for hubby's choice of candy. Here's how it turned out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

do do d'doah.

Got the tune yet?

Yes, it is raining outside in the little part of the world in which I live, and for some inexplicable reason, I feel the need to blog about it.

Rain means little outdoor work will get done by me today. Not much different than the last few days, because I got my full of my overgrown gardens last week and needed a break from them. But it also means I won't be needing to hand water my plants that are still settling in. Hurray for steady rain drops!

After starting my morning coffee, I pulled on my daughters yellow raincoat with the lovely plaid lining, and ventured to move my flower pots from the covered front porch out to the stone walk so they could get a fresh drink of unaltered H20. It's amazing what real water from Heaven above will do for plants that the hose water won't. Don't you think?

Anyway, I'm thanking God this morning for the gift of rain and man-invented hydro, of which I'm certain He inspired, because I can write guilt free this morning--no gardens calling me hither--way too muck for anything to get accomplished out there. And while the gardens get their drink of Heaven's blessing, I'll be a good steward and write His answer.

May Our Heavenly Father bestow many answers on me and you today!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Discovering the Evils of Blog Awards...

Err, I mean, the precious gift that they are.

Yesterday I was awarded the Superior Scribblers Award by blogger friend, Sherrinda, at A Writer Wannabe. I've been awarded one or two other blog awards in the past, but in an attempt to follow all the rules and post about it, they never got posted because...Blog Awards reveal my serious impatience.

This one is no different, other than that I'm determined to use it for today's post, so I'm struggling to make it work. All the cutting, pasting, tracking, is not for the easily frustrated, of which I am one. So, although I'm honoured that Sherrinda passed this award to me--Thank you very much Sherrinda! Really I do love being recognized by my blogging friends!--believe me when I say that I will not be the least disappointed if those I bestow this award upon simply smile, nod a little thank you, then forget all about it.

The blog award rules are as follows (which according to rule #5 I am required to post here.

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog. (BTW: These rules were supposed to be numbered, but of course, I couldn't get my blogger to do that correctly for me. It numbers everything all wrong, so I had to retract it. Geesh, is this a sign of a difficult day ahead?)

So, the 5 people I'm passing this prestigious award to, and in no particular order are:

Susan Mills, A Walk in My Shoes. Check out Mooch's story!

Jillian Anger, Sleep is Not Required. Jillian is not a novelist, but she writes more than I do some days in her scrapbooks and she creates wonderful layouts. Also, she's my little sister. That deserves an award in itself.

Susan, Notes from Innisfree. Susan has neat things to share on her blog. Like black mice stories and fun in the library.

Stephanie. I just started following Stephanie. Her blog stories make you think and want to be a better person.

Jordan McCollum. The wealth of knowledge shared on this blog is amazing! A must read for writers and networkers!

I would pass this award to everyone I love to visit in the blogosphere, but rules are rules, so I must stop here.

Have a blessed Wednesday, everyone! And Thank You, Lord, for getting me through this post! I think it's finally done! (I know, enough exclamation points now.)

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Proposal

Hubby and I went on a date Friday night to see The Proposal. It's been out for near a month and still, the theatre was full--a good sign.

We, along with the majority of attendees, laughed hysterically through it, and found reprieve to catch our breath a few times, too. Love it when a movie is so balanced.

So guess what I plan to do when this releases in DVD form?

Yup, I'm going to analyse it. I want to write it down in its GMC scene by scene structure and study it. Not just because I never once glanced at my watch during the viewing, or that I came out of the theatre feeling rejuvenated, or that I'm still thinking of the characters and seeing how this relationship could really work because the guy is definitely no wimp, but because I over-internalize in my writing.

Even though no mental bubbles popped up on the screen to tell us what the characters were thinking or feeling, I really felt as though I knew just from their actions and reactions. I'm hoping to discover how to maximize scenes and lesson the internalization in my wips by studying this movie.

Have you ever done that? Studied a movie to gain writing techniques? If so, which one and for what technique?

P.S. On an aside. If anyone knows how I could have the YouTube video show up inside this post, please do tell. I really want to figure out how to do that.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, July 17, 2009

Love is...

a dash of thoughtfulness for life!

Since most of my readers are married, I thought I'd post my weekly challenge in doing something special for my hubby. It'll hold me accountable, and if nothing else, you might find my challenges interesting.

Feel free to tackle them with your own spouse, if you so desire.

This week's challenge:

Find out what is hubby's favorite candy, (I'm hoping it's not candy canes or something else seasonal like that) and create a little candy dish filled with them--be inventive. In a quiet moment, present the package to him and enjoy just one with him alone. Send the rest to work for his enjoyment when you aren't around.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

10K Word Day

Devotion, Bible reading and Prayer enjoyed. Downed two boiled eggs, have a bowl of raspberries and cherries cleaned and ready, a pot of coffee on, and water bottles chilling. Hubby's off to work, and the girls are away at horse camp. Canines are behaving nicely.

I'm set, ready, and typing away to attain at least 4,000 words, but aiming for closer to 10,000 words before hubby returns home from work.

Will I make it?

Will you make it? [Check out the challenge here if you care to join me. I'd love the company. A special thanks to Megan for revealing this challenge to me.]

Due to this crazy word challenge, I hope you don't mind me ducking out of cyber hopping today. I'll check in here periodically to drop my progress report into the comment section so I'll have statistics to go by for the next 10K challenge I endeavour.

Have a blessed day everyone, and may God infuse mounds of creativity into the minds and hearts of all facing today's 10K challenge.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I've been in the gardens way too much. It's messing with my brain. Seriously, I can't even remember my sisters' phone numbers lately. It's like I'm in a fog. I wonder if it's sun stroke? Anyway, I'm going to blame it on that and to show you just how out of it I am, I'm going to attempt to explain what I feel reveals a professional looking post.

The link I had kept to exemplify professional posts was this, but as you can see, that's a website, not a blogger blog, so it doesn't work for what I wanted. But, it does reveal several things that can be applied to postings and making them look professional.

1) Inserting pictures or snapshots of pieces of interest. The more accurate the picture is, the better the effect. I love it when people are able to import a word document that shows graphics, etc. But how do they do that in blogger? Anyone know?

2) Like I'm doing here, creating number lists. Though some have a really cool way of doing it. They indent and make the numbered section look so professional, like a separate entity to the post. Wish I knew how to do that, too.

3) And the number one thing that I feel is the coolest tool for posting like a professional is using that hyperlink icon. You know, the thing that looks a little like a green globe with some black circuit graphic up on top. That links readers to other URL's without having to write out the whole long URL that just looks nasty and uninviting. I'd much rather see the name of the site in a bright color that I can click on, then have to read the whole path to get to the page. And this, thankfully, I have figured out.

So what other tools or aspects of posting do you find give the impression of a professional post? And if you know how to do it, please do tell.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, July 13, 2009

A Little of This, and a Little of That...

It's vacation week in our household and as a result I'm scatter-brained and still in a lot of pain due to pulling too many weeds and transplanting too many varieties. We dropped our girls off at horse camp yesterday after a weekend of packing and preparing for it. They were so excited!

Hubby is off for a few days this week, one is today, and maybe tomorrow--his work load is dictating day-by-day. So depending on his schedule I may not be around much this week.

Twitter and Facebook runners, have you got yourselves linked? If not, check out this article on Connecting Twitter to Facebook. It's simple enough that it worked for me. I'm in search of an article that links blog updates to Facebook and Twitter too, so if you find one please let me know. Or something that reveals how to create a tiny URL would be helpful too.

No writing happened this weekend for me, what about you? What about today? Who's going to join me to aim for 2000 words today? I better get writing before hubby wakes up. I pray we all have a productive and blessed Monday!

Surrendering to Him,

Friday, July 10, 2009

Being Flexible

Okay, I'm deferring the professional looking posts post due to technical difficulties. I had a couple links saved in an email to refer to for this post and now email is down for me.

But if anyone knows how to upload snapshots of screens in their original rectangular form, I'd be interested. That's something I'm still trying to figure out, among many others. When I do get that post up (hopefully on Monday) it'll be more interactive than anything because I have soooo much to learn.

On an aside. My body aches.

Seriously, I love looking at gardens, enjoying all the different flowers, but man, I could do without all the work it takes to buff the gardens each year. I got a late start and now am pulling half of my foliage out to be able to see the little gems hidden beneath the overgrown monster flowers. And I haven't even got to my largest garden yet.

I'll be tackling this one over the weekend and throughout next week, I suspect. It'll look a little different as this pic was taken last fall, so some of these flowers are just starting to awaken. I'll try to take a pic when I'm done and post.

In fact, I think we should have a garden blog party once I complete my gardens. Yeah, I really like that idea. Motivates me to get mine all done. Care to join me? If your gardens are buffed and ready start taking pictures for a future garden party in cyber space. I'll be bringing fresh squeezed old-fashioned lemonade to share.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun with Dialogue and Winner Announced after Noon

Hey, all, I'm over on Writer's Rest today. Hope you'll come join me there.

I'll update this post after noon as to the winner of Betsy St. Amant's Return to Love. If you haven't entered yet, and want to squeeze a ballot in, go here and leave a comment in that post.

And on Friday we'll be taking another look at postings. Think professional layouts. How do they do that?

Prayer for us all today: May we see God's hand in all we come in contact with today and take a moment to praise Him for His graciousness. Amen

UPDATE of winner of Betsy St. Amant's Return to Love:

Congratulations, Jessica Nelson! I shuffled the little pieces of paper, didn't look inside the bowl, and drew out your name. Please send me your snail mail address. I don't harvest them, so no worries there.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Posting Length--What's your pick?

First, if I knew how to create blog awards, I'd be giving Booking It by Jessica Nelson a Consistently Concise Award. I love Jessica's posts. I never have to skim; they're always so compact. And her material never ceases to make me think.

So I have a couple questions for you all today:

1) What length do you desire blog posts to be?
2) If a topic is lengthy, how do you feel about it being split up over several posts? Would you welcome it being broken up, or prefer to see a single topic in one lengthier post? (I know, that makes it three, but they're so related.)

My prayer today: May sparks of creativity ignite during our writing/play time today!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, July 3, 2009

Age Criteria...Sadly Overrated & A Giveaway

In books and at conferences I've repeatedly heard reputable agents and editors say something to the tune of: "You need life experience to write, so people in their twenties or younger aren't likely to write saleable books."

I've always questioned that theory in the quiet recesses of my mind and heart, and not because I'm young. For the record, just so we're clear on this, I didn't start writing until I was nearing thirty-seven, and I'm now forty-three. I questioned it and still question it because it seems so unfair. No matter what age we are, if we're living, we're experiencing life, and thus we have experiences to draw on to write about. In some respects, being a young writer can be a huge advantage. Many firsts are still very fresh in your mind and what better time to get those firsts down on paper then when they're nearest and dearest to you?

Well, in these past few days my thoughts on this have been affirmed through reading a wonderful Steeple Hill book by Betsy St. Amant (a twenty-five year old wife, mother, and wonderful author). Return to Love just released on July 1st and it proved to me that not all agents and editors know it all.

It's sad to think that some young writers might take these naysayers to heart and set aside their dream for years, just to gain some experience before feeling worthy to share the stories that come to them. Think of all the wonderful stories we're missing because of this condescending attitude. So sad. I say, if you're old enough to put words together on the page, and study the craft of fiction writing, I don't care how old you are, write what you know! And if you're disillusioned and believe you know nothing, take a gander at Cindy Wilson's article about this very topic here.

I'll be interviewing Betsy on July 31stth, so I won't say anymore about her and Return to Love in this post, but instead, to celebrate I picked up two extra copies of Return to Love for giveaways. One for this week, and one for the week of her interview post. If you're interested in reading an Inspirational romance fit for you and your teenage daughter(s), neice(s), friend(s), let me know in the comment section and I'll add your name into the drawing. I'll draw the winner next Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at noon, and hopefully the winner will have a chance to read this wonderful fresh story before my interview is posted on the 31stth. Good luck everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Scripture Speaks

It's been a while since I posted some scripture, too long really. Lately I've been doing a study comparison of the NIV version to The Message, and this morning's reading from The Message really spoke to me. This section in particular:

"What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:30b-34
Wow, there are several lessons in that reading for me. With respect to writing, it's a confirmation that I need to turn my writing over to Him. That I needn't concern myself with whether or not publication is on the horizon, but rather just do the work as He guides me, and trust that His desires for my stories will be met through diligence.
"God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." That's a powerful statement. God doesn't promise us an easy road, but He does promise to always be there--to help you through the hard things.
If you're fearful that your work will never meet publication standards, take another look at these verses, and especially. "..., to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving." God's given you the gift of writing. Trust that His desire for your writing will be met in His way and His timing. Just be obedient--write on, as He guides you.
If you're fearful of what will be required of you if you do pitch a winning proposal and that's what is keeping you from querying, be confident in knowing that "God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."
And above all remember this: "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now" Follow God's reality, initiative, and provisions in all you do, in every moment, and His will is surely to be accomplished!
May we all feel God's guiding force today, and may we surrender to do His will in every moment. Amen.
Surrendering to Him,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Canadian Holiday

I hope you all are having a fabulous day! For my Canadian readers, Happy Canada Day! and for our neighbours south of the border, may you guys have much fun preparing for your July 4th celebration just around the corner.

I was up early this morning to write, and look forward to a day of celebrating with my hubby and youngest daughter. We'll be heading over to Columbia Lake for the celebration festival and catching the fireworks later at night. It should be a fun day if the rain holds off.

What's on your celebration agenda? Ever thought of writing a scene in your books regarding your country's anniversary celebrations? My current story is set in summer, so I could write a Canada Day celebration in this one. Hmmm, now I know what I'll be watching for as the day goes on. Story fodder. What about you?

P.S. Aren't these post-it notes cute? Steena Holmes introduced me to them, they're fun to create and easy too. If you like the concept, check out Superstickies to create your own. I'll be watching to see how fast they make the blog circuit.

Surrendering to Him,