Wednesday, September 30, 2009


That's me. Conference is over, the jet lag has left, and the laundry is caught up! Hooray! Life is waiting for the new and improved me.

To benefit the most from conference that I can, I've been on a goal setting roll (won't bore you with the details here, but I've written them in pen in my calendar), devised a realistic writing and blogging schedule (I've got to get control of my blogging time, even with the treadmill laptop table being used these days), organized and filed all those wonderful notes from conference, framed Debbie Giusti's beautiful writer's prayer for my office (I've never seen a more perfect prayer for a writer--I do hope you'll check that link out. You'll be blessed if you do!) And I've emailed a few non-blogging people I met at conference, and visited several new blogs of other's I met, so that I can keep in contact that way.

As far as revisions go, I've completed the initial chapters of two of my novels, and am working fast and furious to complete the remaining fifteen chapters in one (this last revision round is just to freshen the visceral responses, really, so it's going at a steady clip, thank goodness), and then I'll delve into finishing the first draft of the other novel closest to me now so that the layering can begin in the revision rounds. All that said, by Christmas, I intend to be brainstorming my second novel in the Emmanuel series, and feeling good about the first novels in both my Emmanuel and Olive Series for sending out proposals in early 2010.

Some time between now and Christmas I also need to work on updating my website, get it to blend more with this blog, and update the content as well. I'm recruiting my eldest to help with the layout--this could prove to be interesting!

Thanks to conference I now have measurable goals (at least for the next three months), and a hubby quite willing to hold me to them, so little time will be waisted. What about you? Have you defined some goals, and have you got an accountability partner who will hold you to it? Do you consider your writing in a career mindset? If so, lets hear those goals and the accountability you have in place.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 28, 2009

My Ear Finally Popped!

Seriously, six days after flying back from Denver, I endured several hours of crackling, wet ear imbalance. I kept tilting my head and pulling on my ear lobe because there was this squishing, crackling sound driving me nuts inside it. Today (Sunday), it finally feels free and clear.

That's a long time to endure inner ear imbalance. No wonder I was so tired all week, and unable to keep focused.

Starting today, I will have no excuses. Not one. I must get on a roll with my writing chores. One of the great rewards of attending a writer's conference is the boost it gives us to get back on track in our writing journey. So...

How many look at goal setting after conference?

How many tweak or define a new writing schedule after conference?

How many love to get re-organized after conference?

Not to mention all the revisions we're eager to do with all the great tips and pointers we learned at conference directly related to improving our manuscripts.

Oh, and what about following up with people we connected with at conference? Have you thought of a plan on how to keep in touch? What if they don't blog, how then will you keep the lines of communication open?

All these things are running through my mind as of late. On Wednesday, I'll answer my own questions here, but in the mean time, what about you? Have you considered these things? Other things that I ought to add to the list? What am I missing as a healthy follow-up to conference?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 25, 2009

Love Is...

Expressing Gratitude.

How many times do we say "Thank You" or "I appreciate all you do" to the one's we love?

Even better, how many times do we bring that struggle for fresh writing into creating a unique and touching way to extend our gratitude to those we love?

Sunday evening, I bolted off the Air Canada plane, reached customs before the crowds from 11 different international flight arrivals converged on the officers, and got through in no time. Next, I was lucky enough to be one of the first to gather my checked bag. On a roll, I found post "D" immediately and had the attendant call for the pre-arranged limousine--thanks to my considerate hubby. Yes, hubby encouraged me to book a limousine service to take me to the Toronto airport on Wednesday last week and pick me up on Sunday evening because he didn't want me to have to deal with stop after stop due to other shuttle patrons.

On Wednesday, I sat in a comfortable leather-interior luxury car, but on Sunday evening, it was little old me alone in a stretch limousine with tinkling wine glasses and a t.v. available. I used neither, but boy did I feel like a queen being chauffeured in a black, looking-brand-spank'n-new stretch limousine. Gratitude abounded. And in between conversing with the very nice driver, I did consider how I might thank my hubby for all of this. A huge surprise wife kiss? He always likes those. Or maybe I could make him his favorite dinner, even it isn't the best for his cholesterol issues? Or would a simple thank you along with an explanation of how great it felt to sit in luxury while getting home the fastest way possible be the best way to extend my gratitude?

But then when I got home, this is what welcomed me...

along with two overly-hyper dogs, three smiling girls with outstretched arms, and my dear hubby waiting in the backdrop for his turn to greet me.

I completely forgot to thank him, because what I was greeted with felt so much like their way of extending gratitude toward me. It wasn't just a welcome at 10:45 pm that I was receiving. Everything about it made me feel like I was appreciated--this was their way of thanking me for all I was going to do for them again. It would seem that five days away helped them realize that I do do some things after all! Praise God for such insight to fall upon my teen girls!

Anyway, since I was so full of taking in all their gratitude and welcome greetings, I forgot to take a special moment to thank my hubby for all he does for me. So this week I'll set out to find a way to freshly reveal my gratitude for all he is, and all he does. How about you? Is there something you need to thank a loved one for? How will you show your gratitude this time?

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Processing ACFW -- Part 2

What did I learn?

Donald Maass's early bird was so thorough and thought-provoking that he was a huge challenge to follow. I think for me, that drew the Denver haze into every other session I attended, blocking me from absorbing as much as I'd like to have from all of them. I'm really looking forward to receiving the CD's of all the classes so that I can listen and draw from all the teaching that was presented at the conference. Because right now, it's all just balled up into what resembles a ball of colourful elastics. I can't seem to unravel the mass of knowledge thrown at me last week, it's all stretched and twined together, making my brain hurt to try and unscramble it all.

I can't seem to get micro-tension on every line out of my mind. Or empathy and how to derive it in words that draw the reader in not just to the story unfolding but to really feel for the characters within it. Or visualize the plotting charts that I could really use from Susan Warren's presentation. Or all the different ways that we can read our characters through their movements. Or how fresh we can write a smile--honestly, I had no idea that smiles could be so complicated!

Anyone who says they know it all with respect to writing, has got to be deceiving themselves monstrously. There is no end to learning fiction writing, and after this conference, I'm totally convinced that it's practice, writing, writing, and some more never-ending writing that is key to success in this business. And, yes, a sprinkling of writing lectures throughout that never-ending writing journey is sure to help you narrow in and fix yet another weak area of your writing. The process never ends, and so it never should.

Happy writing everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 21, 2009

Processing ACFW-- Part 1

The haze that masked the full beauty of the Denver foothills has followed me home. My misty vision, however, isn't the result of smog, but rather one of awe, and definitely sleep deprivation. This old girl doesn't do time zone changes so well, I discovered. Thanks to my 4:00 a.m. treadmill time for the first two mornings, I did manage to stay somewhat alert in all the sessions I attended, but just in case I'm wrong on that, I ordered the complete DVD recording set and looking forward to listening to ALL the sessions over the coming months.

Okay, so what did I learn at the 2009 ACFW Conference--my first one with this organization? Since my brain is still processing it all, here's my first rundown. As the fog clears throughout the week I'll get a little more serious, I suspect!

  • Apparently, I do have a Canadian accent. But seriously, you all, you're the ones with the cute drawls and extra little words that slip into your pronunciations at random. It's the darnedest thing. Really it is!
  • In general, Canadians are made short, and Americans are built on stilts. At least it felt that way in my little blog friend circle. (You guys are absolutely the greatest! I love you all, and feel so privileged and grateful for getting to meet so many of you in person. You guys certainly made this shy Canadian lady feel so much more at home in your home land. Praise God for each and every one of you.--Oops, guess the mist lifted a little there for some serious stuff to emerge. There is hope for me yet!)
  • And one final note for today before the picture showcase. American coffee, even the hotel's version of Starbucks, is really disappointing! I actually offered to pick my girls up from school today, even though a perfectly good bus would be there waiting for them too, just because I need to be reminded of what a real cup of coffee, brewed by someone other than me, tastes like. Since there happens to be a Tim Horton's coffee shop near their schools, I'm wishing their classes would end way early today, let me tell you. Canadian Tim Horton's coffee is real coffee, Canadian Starbucks coffee is real coffee! I don't know what you guys do to yours, but whatever it is, it's really sad! Come visit me in Canada, and I'll show your taste buds what real coffee is supposed to be like!

    Back row: Jody Hedlund, Katie Ganshert, Jessica Nelson, Jeannie Campbell Front row: Ralene Burke, Me, Krista Phillips, Cathy Bryant

Me and my conference roomie, Jody Hedlund.

Jeannie Campbell and I at The Book Therapy Pizza Party

Jeannie Campbell and Katie Ganshert on Friday evening at the Book Therapy Pizza Party.

Dinner Thursday evening. Me, Jeannie Campbell, Jaime Wright Sundsmo, Jessica Nelson,
Katie Ganshert, and Jody Hedlund.
At breakfast Saturday morning we were blessed with Debbie Macomber joining our table. I just had to get a picture with this amazing keynote speaker and author. A beautiful woman all round.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 18, 2009

Love Is...

The Opposite of Distance.

Many of those who regularly read this blog are away from dear ones this week, same as myself, so I thought this a fitting Love Is topic. How do we stay close to our loved ones when we're physically hours away from them?

There's an old phrase that goes "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." That's as much of that phrase as I knew for a very long time...until I met my husband, that is. I remember offering this quote to him way back as I headed to Toronto for a work term while he was set to stay in Waterloo for his final stretch of courses to get his BMath. My dear boyfriend's response back then was, "You know Eileen, that's only half the quote. It ends: for want of another."

"Distance makes the heart grow fonder for want of another."

Seriously, that is totally not want I wanted to hear while saying goodbye!

But there is amazing truth to it, too. I'm happy to report that during that four month stretch, we saw each other every weekend, and I don't think there was a week day that went by that we didn't talk on the phone either. Some might think that's overkill, but for us, it's what we needed, and our relationship grew with all those interactions.

So as I go about the busy ACFW Conference schedule, my family, hubby and daughters will not only be near to me in heart, but I'll be touching base at home each day either with a phone call, text messaging, emailing, or instant messaging when we can all connect at the same time even with the time zone difference. Because that's what works best for my family--daily contact.

When you're apart from your loved ones, do you feel the need to connect in some way? Do any of your loved ones feel that need? If so, I encourage you to find a way to do just that, connect with one another.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five Basic Plot Elements

Plot is one of those words that even after writing for six years I still feel I don't truly understand. And so I thank Donald Maass for his very simple definition of plot: "Plot is the organization of a story: its events and their sequences."

Whew, I can breath easier now that I see Maass's definition resembles what I thought all along. Why couldn't all the stars of writing define it so easily!! But I digress. According to Maass there are five basic plot elements, and here they are:

A story must have "a sympathetic character, one whom we know in some detail." Your readers need to care deeply about what is and will happen to at least one character in your novel, and in order for us to care, obviously we need to know enough about them to care.

Secondly, conflict has to be on the pages. There has to be a strong presence of conflict, the more complex the better.

And that conflict must be reinforced throughout the novel. Conflict needs to grow and alter throughout the story to keep it fresh and keep the reader on their toes reading.

Fourthly, there has to be a climax in the plot. Some call it the black moment, the point at which all seems lost.

And lastly, there needs to be resolution, a conclusion. An ending that satisifies in one way or another.

String these five elements together and you have the makings of a basic plot. Now the trick is to mold them into the makings of a breakout novel! Any ideas as to how we do that?

Conference update: I leave this morning for the ACFW conference and I'm so looking forward to meeting many of my blogger friends in Denver this week. My prayer for all attending is safe travels, to be a blessing to each other, to be filled with writerly enthusiasm and knowledge throughout the conference, and to build lasting friendships. May we be God's instrument to encourage and help one another, and may we find great joy in rejoicing with one another and discovering His desires for each of us! Amen.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 14, 2009

Highest Two Qualities for Breakout Characters

According to Donald Maass, that is.

Drum roll please. . . can you guess them?


Maybe not?

For some reason I'm feeling very devilish this evening as I set up my posts for this week. I wonder why? Oh, perhaps it has something to do with what this week is.

It's ACFW Conference week! I'm going to learn, learn, and learn some more and I'm so excited and anxious all rolled up into one, and having a very difficult time concentrating on any task at hand. Can you tell?

Okay, seriously, I must admit that I can see why Maass picks these as his top two character qualities. They are both qualities I believe we all struggle with, and wish we had a better handle on. They are:


Who doesn't empathise with a character who has the strength and graciousness to forgive those who trespass against him? Forgiveness isn't easy, especially if the wrong has cost you so very much, but it certainly reveals a strength in character that many of us strive to achieve.

Self-sacrifice? Well, need I say anymore on this one? It's heroism at it's very best, indeed. And I think it's this characteristic in Edward from Meyers' Twilight series that builds him up to be bigger than life. Edward refuses to fold and weaken to the inner force within him that craves Bella--not only her tantalizing smelling blood, but his desire to love her too! He fears hurting Bella, and since he's a vampire, rightfully so, and so he does all he can to drive her away from being interested in him. Of course eventually Edward weakens and accepts Bella's love, but even after that, we are constantly reminded of the struggle he has within to protect Bella from the part savage that he is. And so throughout the series, until Bella becomes a vampire herself, we are continually seeing Edward sacrificing his inner desires to keep Bella alive and human, and that to me speaks volumes about his love for her. How could I not route for Team Edward? It's a no brainer to me!

So now that you know the top two characteristics that repeatedly appear in the main characters of breakout novels, how are your characters fairing? Are they the forgiving type? Have they even got something to forgive? Are they giving up something sacrificially for the good of another, be it a character or cause? If not, could they?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 11, 2009

Love Is...


I've recently heard of yet another marriage being crushed, shattered, torn apart. They are in the legal phase of settling the issues that go with divorce, especially when there are two young children involved, and my heart bleeds for each the husband, wife, son and daughter. What is the world coming to, I often wonder when I hear of these tragedies. And, yes, even though death to the body or fatal illness is not involved, divorce to me is a definite tragedy. It's death to commitment, death the most sacred institution next to faith in God, death to marriage.

Many are asked what they feel is the most important element that binds a marriage until death do they part, and I have to say for me it's commitment. My husband and I have been married nineteen years and if I'm honest, they've not all been joyful happy years. Some, especially when the children were young and sleep was rare, were riddled with disappointment, boredom, and quietness when speaking would have been better. We, like most married couples, have ridden the wave of ups and downs through the years and thank God daily that He's guided us along the way and kept us committed to each other.

So I have to ask, what is it that shreds commitment between husband and wife? If it's not adultery, physical or mental abuse, what could possibly cause the commitment between a married couple to dissolve, to no longer be the thread that keeps them attached through the lulls in their relationship? What could possibly be worth the cost of growing old together and having that one special someone on this earth that absolutely no one knows better than you and vise versa to share life's ups and downs with? I'm not judging here, or at least trying hard not to, but because of the marriage I live in, I have a really hard time understanding how two people's love for one another can just dissolve to the point of no recovery. I know it happens, I just don't like it, especially because it scares me. If it can happen to them, then surely it could happen to us. So how do we fight it off?

I treasure the commitment my husband and I hold fast to. It's that commitment that weathered the storms we've passed through already, and I pray will trustingly guide us through the inevitable tsunami's to come in this huge world we live in. It's the blessing that I hope beyond hope assures us of better tomorrows to be shared with one another. It's the gift of a life-long future together, I pray. And I pray this for both hubby and I, as I'm all to aware that just because I'm committed to weather the storms, doesn't ensure that hubby will always be. Life is far too complex for that.

Divorce happens, and for those who have been thrust in that tragedy, I pray for a new beginning for each of you, and for the strength and courage to accept God's answers to your pleas. May you be restored through the emotional pain, to a joyful, vibrant child of His!

Lord, please don't ever let us lose sight of commitment, no matter how fragile it might seem at times, grant that it be strong enough to bind us together when nothing else seems to work. In Jesus my Saviours Name, I pray this. Amen.

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, September 10, 2009

God May Know What He Is Doing, But Am I Helping or Hindering?

A recent thread on the ACFW e-loop is titled: God Knows What He Is Doing. I've read a couple of the responses and totally agree that God knows what He wants and has in store for each of us, and attending or not attending the upcoming ACFW conference isn't going to change His plans. He is the maker of miracles after all.

But just reading the subject line and forgetting the context to which it is really about, I must say that I bear a heavy heart in response to God Knows What He Is Doing. I can't help thinking that I'm hindering His work as of late, rather than helping Him. And I do believe that in all that God blesses us with, He often requires something from us too. The end gift is not all He intends to bestow on each of us, but a greater learning/understanding is also part of the package, and I have no doubt that my ever-faithful Father is more than patient in waiting for me to get that learning/understanding right before He'll generously bestow the end gift upon me. Am I alone in this thought process?

Say, since most of you reading this blog are writers, the end gift is publication which God intends to bestow on at least a few of us (here's the hopeful me surmising here), then what? Are we set? Is it ALL in God's hands? Is the onus on Him to get the gears in motion so that publication shall be achieved?

Surely not.

Surely, as any mother or father knows, this is a tremendous TEACHING moment. The prize of publication cannot be just handed over without being earned in some way. God so wants to pass this gift over, but alas, he must wait until we are ready for it. The driving instructor/tester doesn't hand over the prize driver's license just because the time has come, the end of the driving test has arrived, does he? No, he must first see that the student driver is ready for the responsibility of every life that might come in contact with him/her on the roads he/she chooses to travel from this day forward. The student driver needs to earn the tester's trust before he/she is deemed ready. And the tester will withhold the license for not only the safety of the student driver, but for everyone else, if need be.

As it is with writing, I assume. And I can't help but feel as though I've been failing my Lord's testing as of late in the writing category of life at least. Failure isn't a word I like to think about, or associate with me, but lately it's one that's been haunting my thought process.

In preparing my book proposal package for the conference, I happened to read over the recent query letter I sent out to my dream publisher in August and realized I'd failed big time. I had stated in that query that I would be pitching my newest book, The Unlikely One, the book that is a finalist in the Genesis contemporary category this year, at the conference. Well, guess what? It isn't ready. As I type this post I'm about 13,000 words away from finishing my first draft and definitely a few revision rounds and many edits away from being ready to submit this novel to anyone in the publishing industry.

So, I've not only failed to keep my end of the bargain to this publisher who may or may not like my writing anyway, but that's not the point, I've failed to make the most of this upcoming conference even before it even gets here. Yes, I have another completed manuscript to pitch, but I really wanted to take advantage of being a finalist with this ms and pitch it. Show how I could indeed get a second manuscript primed and ready for pitching in a reasonable amount of time. But instead, family, and summer activities with them, consumed my time and here I sit, manuscript unfinished.

It is possible to finish the first draft before conference, even with it being only one week away, but that isn't enough, and I'm kicking myself for it. Lost opportunity rings like a jingle in my ears, taunting me and flashing $$$$$$$$, yes, dollar signs in my vision. My family has invested a lot into this conference and now I feel like I not only failed myself, but them as well. So what do I do?

What any God fearing woman would. Right. I look for what I've done right, and what I have left to still gain from this conference experience, and move forward from there. I write the best book proposal I can for the novel I do have finished. I prepare to pitch it for God's glory. God has presented me with a chance to pitch my first novel, one that incidentally is very near and dear to me still, even after six years of labour pains with it, and I will do my absolute best to not disappoint Him in that area too. I may not have the two novels to pitch that I so wanted, and God may be disappointed with me in that, but I know He'd want me to at least take advantage of this opportunity and pitch this one.

I will gather all that I need for the early bird session on the book that I haven't quite finished with the intention of having the amazing Donald Maass and all his wonderful teaching help me plan my revisions so that I can make it as close to a breakout novel as is possible for me.

And I'll do my utmost to shine His Little Light through every action, word, and deed that transpires through me during the time I have at the ACFW conference. I will accept God's wonderful grace and blessings in attending this conference and make the most of it so that He can keep on teaching me and helping me move forward toward that ultimate gift that He may or may not be patiently waiting to present to me...when I'm ready. I will do all this because He is the reason I write in the first, middle and last place. God inspired this journey in me, and even though I may hinder His process along the way, He is ever faithful and would want me to push onward for His purpose. I'm so glad He is eons more patient and forgiving than me!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breakout Characters? What makes them special?

Well, according to Donald Maass in Writing the Breakout Novel, Breakout characters are larger-than-life? And just what does it mean to be larger-than-life?

Maass breaks a larger-than-life character into characters who ooze four elements.

1) Strength--"virtually all readers unconsciously seek out novels for an experience of human life that is admirable, amusing, hopeful, perseverant, positive, inspiring and that ultimately makes us feel whole." Pg 106

We need to write characters with moral conviction who are greater than their circumstances. They may have to struggle to find that greatness in them, but that struggle consistently reveals their inner strength and growth as the story progresses. Larger-than-life characters are people who the reader would love to imagine themselves as. They are someone we might strive to be.

2) Larger-than-life characters exude inner conflict. They may not like revealing their inner conflict, but somehow on the page they do. This is a sure fire way to gain reader sympathy to anything, for anyone. Show us how the character struggles, right or wrong, how they process what they've done, or what they're planning to do. The pros and cons they fight with along the way and the consequences they take to heart when they cause a mess. Conflict is the lifeblood of any novel, both internal and external. Reveal your characters internal struggles and watch them grab hold of your reader for the ride of the story.

3) Self-Regard. Larger-than-life characters are self-conscious about themselves. They care about what emotions hit them, they respond to their emotional self. "A compelling hero does not deny his feelings but instead is immersed in them." (pg. 111) I don't know about you, but I love hearing what goes on inside the characters head/heart. That's what makes a book so much more compelling to me than a movie, especially when the actors fail to depict the larger-than-life character intimately.

4)Wit and Spontaneity. I love this element, even though it is one of the most time consuming tasks for an author, I think. But I absolutely love taking days, even weeks, to devise the absolute best comeback. One that reveals exactly who my character is, what matters the most to them, and what can put the secondary character right where they belong, down under. Maass says: "Let loose with the snappy remarks and New York attitude." (pg. 113) I say, I love New Yorkers, even though I'm as far from being one of them as anyone could be! But I love it when a character I'm routing for just has the right response at exactly the right time.

So there you have it. Strength, Inner Conflict, Self-Regard (respects their emotions), and Wit and Spontaneity are all the inner makings of a larger-than-life character who as a result can also become a breakout character. What character(s) in your fictional worlds come close to revealing these four elements? Any? If not, how can you alter your ms and character chart so that they do?

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Ever since my children started attending school, I have found myself in the quiet still of our home on the first day of school pondering goals.

Some of my goals are clearly kitchen related:

What interesting and nutritious meals can I prepare this school year for breakfast, packed lunches, after school snack, and supper? How can I vary them enough to keep my girls happy and satisfied? Funny how hubby takes the backseat with this set of goals. He's by far the easiest to please in the food category.

The apple french toast with prepared fresh fruit seemed to go over well this morning, so that's one meal I'll add to my rotating list for breakfast foods. I suspect the chicken caesar salad I prepared for their lunches will be equally satisfying, so I'm penning that into my rotating lunch menu. Snack and dinner I'm still at a loss for as of yet. Suggestions are welcome. Please!

Other goals are household chore related. You know, a schedule to scrub the toilet, shower stall, bathroom and kitchen floor, fridge clean-out, dust, vacuum, the never-ending laundry days that really need not be scheduled because it's really become like breathing--constant, force of habit.

Church responsibilities and spiritual growth is another one I tackle. How many devotions will I have time to ponder each week. When would be the best time to enjoy them and spend time with my Lord, listening for His answers, hearing His responses? Making sure we have the education hours at church all lined up and ready so that our congregation can be nourished by one another is another concern to keep track of often. I want to tithe my time to God, but as I look at all the other goals piling up, I'm tempted to plead "there just isn't enough time", and then I'm reminded that without Him, there would be no need for any of these goals, so He must come first.

Today's devotion was on Joy. Acknowledging the joy in your life. I'm joyful to have a life so full that I must prioritize and organize, and I'm joyful that I know that God will help do just that!!

And then we get to the fun writing goals. I tend to break this one down to yearly goal, monthly goals, and daily/weekly goals.

Yearly (and I go by school calendar for this, Sept./09 to August/10) : I'd love to write "get published" under this goal list, but if I'm truly writing for God, and trusting Him to lead and guide and answer, I feel what I really need offer in this yearly goal instead is three polished manuscripts (polished to the best of my abilities now) along with submissions of each to at least two targeted publishers. I write for God, therefore every manuscript I create I not only learn and grow in the art of writing, but I grow as a human being, as God's child. I stretch my comfort zone when I write, tackle tough emotional issues, and so if what God teaches me through these stories He lays on my heart are only for my spiritual and maturation growth, then I am joyful and grateful for His guiding me through that. If my stories are to help others and entertain others, then I know when God feels I'm ready, He will find the publisher for them. So all I have to do is write to the best of my ever-improving ability, grow in all kinds of directions, and send out knowing He's in total control!

Monthly: Well, for September, it's obviously centered around the ACFW conference. Preparing for it, and then organizing and absorbing all that I learned while at it. For October through December, I'll be polishing The Unlikely One with all that I learned at conference, and send a proposal for it out to at least one publishing house by Christmas. The rest of the year will be rewriting and polishing two of my current written stories. They need a lot of work, so it'll take me the eight months to deal with them. So the conundrum is: where do I fit in writing the story burning in my heart right now? It's a sequel to The Unlikely One, and I know who and where to go for the research of my hero's career, and subsequently, I know exactly where my tithing will go if this story should ever sell.

Have you ever pondered that? What organization will benefit from your tithing of income on each of your stories? I love thinking of this. It makes me all giddy to think that if God sees fit to have my stories published, that I'll actually be able to tithe from the sale of them. Not only is God blessing me hugely with growth in so many ways by encouraging me to write these stories, but if they make money one day, He's blessing me with the opportunity to help others financially as well. My first story is centered around creating a riding stable for the disabled. If A New Beginning ever sells, not only will my church and all the programs we support benefit from a portion of the tithing of sales, but Pride Stables, where I did research for that book, and where real horses therapeutically help the disabled, will also gain financially from that story.

Weekly/Daily: These I will create at the beginning of each week/day. They might include word count, certain proposals written, character sketches, research done, etc. They will be pretty specific. This week, I'm working on my proposal, gathering all needed for the early bird session at conference, and thinking packing-the-suitcase and all that that entails.

I've gone way to long on this post. Sorry. It's really more a diary post for me. But if you can gleam something from it, I praise God for that too!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 7, 2009

93 minutes and still going...

Okay, I'm sorry, I was going to create a post on Donald Maass' pointers on how to create characters larger than life, but I got sucked into catching up on email and visiting all your wonderful blogs that I'm now 94 minutes into my treadmill walk, sweaty and clammy feeling and energy ridden, so I just don't have it in me to create this post now. Wednesday. That's when I'll post it.

Happy Labour Day to you all!

May you all be enjoying this long weekend and gearing up for a brand new schedule of writing and learning!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 4, 2009

Love is...

Taking the Wheel from Time to Time.

Seriously, in our home, hubby is the driver when we're both in the car. It has always been that way and I don't see it changing anytime soon. But what happens when all go out for an ice cream treat and haven't time to linger and finish the creamy, cold, oh-so-flavorful cone?

Usually hubby still gets stuck manipulating his treat and the steering wheel. Not to mention the accelerator and break! So next time we find ourselves in a time crunch with a huge desire to stop for ice cream, I'm going to forgo the ice cream and take the wheel so that hubby can enjoy leisurely slurping away at his while I drive us to the next destination, because I don't think I could handle the treat and driving at the same time. I really don't need the calories anyway. Right!

So, what little responsibility could you take on as a special treat to make a moment in your hubby's or friends life a little more enjoyable? That's my challenge for this coming week. If an ice cream pit stop doesn't happen for us, I'll have to find another way to boost hubby's enjoyment of whatever somehow.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Upping the Stakes

This is another quality common to breakout novels according to Donald Maass in his Writing the Breakout Novel. It doesn't surprise me at all--we've all heard that we need to keep building on conflict to drive the reader racing through our story. But my problem with this is that I write inspirational romances, and not suspense ones.

Few inspirational romances that I've read keep upping the stakes in a traditional way, as in building the external conflict, but yet most of them still draw me consistently into the story with each passing page, so how do they do it? (Disclaimer: I'm not reading breakout romances, so I'm just looking at stories that sell while deciphering this quality in romances.)

I believe it's the internal conflict. The inspirational romances that keep me reading do a great job of building on the hero/heroine relationship. As the story progresses, the protagonists invest more interest, more respect, and more energy in one another and thus what they can lose relationship wise grows with the story. In effect, the author grows the story line until what is at stake is the hero and heroine's hearts.

Donald Maass says it best on page 78. "Skilled romance writers know how to grow the passion between heroine and hero over the course of their stories, to escalate it, or perhaps to restrain it at first so its full power emerges later. That heightened love is, in effect, higher stakes. As the story goes on there is more to lose."

So, if you write romance, just how do you grow passion in your stories? Or, how do you grab the reader, make the connection, in the first few pages, but leave enough growth room to sustain the length of the novel?

Surrendering to Him,