Monday, November 30, 2009

The Bartered Bride and Book Giveaway

I'm so pleased to be a part of Erica Vetsch's blog tour for her debut novel, The Bartered Bride. Please read on to learn more about Erica's publication journey and a chance to win a copy of The Bartered Bride.

1) I understand you wrote the first draft of The Bartered Bride in five weeks. I'm curious, were there any scenes that you had to force yourself through in that time? If so, do they remain in the published version and did they require major rewriting?

Erica: This book fell together in a really amazing way for me. I don't remember struggling with any particular scene in the first draft. I've struggled more with subsequent books, and there are scenes from those that have gotten major revisions or cut altogether, but for The Bartered Bride, it survived the editing process intact.

2) You took about one month for revisions of The Bartered Bride to polish it before sending out to your critique partners, was there much revision required after seeing their critiques? How much longer did you work on it before submitting to Heartsong Presents?

Erica: I do remember getting dinged by my crit partners on one scene in the book where my heroine was coming across as too juvenile and petulant. And one scene I reworked myself to make it more realistic in my own mind. Those revisions took about a week or so, then it was off to the ACFW Conference to pitch it to an editor.

3) Publishing success has come full force at you since signing with HP.. Congratulations Erica on having six books contracted. How many of those books are ones you had completed before The Bartered Bride, and how many are slated to be written yet? Are you now selling on proposal?

Erica: The time line went something like this: The Bartered Bride written the summer of 2007. The sequel, The Marriage Masquerade was written the Spring of 2008 while waiting to hear back on The Bartered Bride. And because I thought the long silence from the editor indicated a strong possibility of a 'no sale' for The Bartered Bride, I began working on the first book in a new series called Clara and the Cowboy in the summer of 2008.

In the fall of 2008, The Bartered Bride was contracted at the ACFW Conference, and a few months later, Heartsong aquired five more titles from me. I'm currently working on the final book in those two series.

I am selling on proposal now, which has its upsides and downsides. Upside, I don't have to write an entire book then hope that someone is interested in it. Downside, I have to know more in advance what's going to happen in the book, and as a reforming seat of the pants writer, this is difficult.

Thanks so much Erica for sharing a little of your publication journey with us.

Now, before I share the back cover blurb of this fast paced, wonderful novel, I just have to toot a horn for this story. Really, I can't say enough about this novel. I'm not a huge historical fan myself, and I'm the universes slowest reader, so when I read this book in under a 30 hour time span, which included sleep, the usual family and household responsibilities, and writing over 4000 words into my own manuscript, you've got to know it's a good one. And as a writer, it's one I intend to dissect for sure. But certainly couldn't the first time through because it just kept me glued with its entertainment value. Seriously, if you haven't got a copy yet, pick one up, order one, or hopefully win one (which you can do by leaving a comment with your email addy in this post by Wednesday morning when I'll do the drawing.)

Back Cover Blurb of The Bartered Bride: Jonathan Kennebrae is furious when his grandfather informs him that his future has been decided. He will marry Melissa Brooke or be disinherited. Jonathan has invested years of his life in Kennabrae Shipping, but heaven help him if Grandfather decides to take it all away for this.

Melissa, too, is devastated when her parents make their announcement. As little more than a bargaining chip in her father’s business maneuvers, she feels her secure world slipping away. Engaged to marry a man she has never met—someone “considerably older” than herself? What have her parents done?

Can Jonathan and Melissa find a way out of this loveless marriage, or must they find a way forward together?

You can order a copy of this wonderful novel by clicking here.

Book Giveaway: Don't forget to leave a comment with your email addy to be entered into the drawing. I'll draw a name late Tuesday and announce the winner on Wednesday, Dec. 2nd. Good luck everyone!

This giveaway is closed now. Thanks all for entering!

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy American Thanksgiving!

Day four of Blog snippet week.

One of the greatest things about blogging is that you can span countries in an instant. I'm so thankful that I get to "celebrate" Thanksgiving two times in one year. And I am celebrating again, not with turkey and stuffing and cranberries, but in my heart I'm running through all the blessings in my life and lifting thanks for them. My blogging friends are just one of those many blessings.


May today bring you all much happiness and a feeling of togetherness with family and friends. May giggles and laughter fill your homes as you treasure the gifts of life!

Blessings prayed for you all.

29 Days until we widely celebrate Jesus's Birthday on Christmas Day around the World!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving/Christmas Recipe

Day three of Blog snippet week.

Continuing in the spirit of Christmas, and Thanksgiving, I'd like to offer a seasonal recipe favorite that our family enjoys.

Cranberry Jello Salad

1 small package raspberry jello
1 small package lemon jello
1 cup boiled water

Dissolve jello packages in boiled water.

Add 1 can whole cranberry sauce (14 oz can).

Beat on low speed with mixer for 2 to 3 minutes while hot.

Let thicken in fridge approximately 1/2 hour.

Stir in 1 14oz tin crushed pineapple (undrained) and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

Pour in mold and let set. (I do this the night before.)

Serves 12 people.

For those looking for a new Thanksgiving tradition in the food offering department, I hope this recipe works for you. I know my whole family loves it.

30 Days until we widely celebrate Jesus's Birthday on Christmas Day around the World!

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Day two of Blog snippet week.

In the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to suggest a gift that keeps on giving all year long.

What about a Family Daily Devotional book?

Imagine the quality time you and your family can have delving into short devotions that spur questions, pondering, and answers at breakfast time, over dinner, before bed, or any other time you choose through the day. Or maybe you only have family time on weekends, you can always sift through the week's selections and pick the one that speaks the most that week for your devotional time.

Here's just one for you to check out: Link.

Is it time for a new devotional book for your family, or if you've not had luck with any actual Devotion books, what about reading a story together and pondering a chapter of it each session?

Many blessings prayed for you all as the American Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts of Christmas begin to seep in.

31 Days until we widely celebrate Jesus's Birthday on Christmas Day around the World!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Snippet Week Begins

Due to NaNoWriMo obligations, and more importantly, my writing goal for November, I'm taking this week as blog snippet week. I'm limiting myself to visiting ten random blogs per day this week. Can't totally cut you all out, I don't need to deal with addict withdrawal while trying to get 20k words down, now do I?

I may comment, I may not, depending on how my word count is going each day, but I will, as always, enjoy broadening my horizons with you lovely, inspiring blogger friends.

I've created a line-up of short posts for the rest of this week. All geared around the spirit of Christmas. Hope you enjoy them! Notice my Christmas Day count down has begun?

Which brings me to today's question: Have you started counting the days until celebrating Jesus's birth in community with all Christians in the world yet?

32 Days until we widely celebrate Jesus's Birthday on Christmas Day around the World!

Surrendering to Him,


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Winner of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale

Congratulations to Wanda! Your name was randomly selected to win a copy of Patti Lacy's debut novel, An Irishwoman's Tale from this giveaway over at earlier in the month.

I've emailed you, please reply with your snail mail address so I can get this book out to you.

P.S. I'm cross posting here because many of my regular blogging buddies had entered the giveaway over there. I'll be doing another book giveaway on Monday, November 30th so stay tuned and hope to see you all entering to win it.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, November 20, 2009

Writing Inspires. . .


Yes, you read that correctly. For me, writing inspires baking. And no, I'm not writing cookbooks. However, I do love reading a novel that includes a recipe or two that the characters enjoyed within the pages of the story. As a result, I've been toying with the idea of including at least one recipe at the end of each of my novels.

In my current wip, I'd pick the Pumpkin Spice Scones that my heroine created in her gourmet kitchen at the Woodcrest Inn Bed & Breakfast. As I typed that scene (and yes, it did include tension, as the guests happened to be the hero's doting parents) I just had to search for a recipe to match the rich pumpkin flavored, moist scone with delicate icing swirled on top that Rebekah, the Innkeeper, presented to her guests with evening tea.

So, of course, I Googled and found the following recipe on which I just had to test. A good writer does her research, even if it costs her tighter pants. Right? And a break away from writing the novel.

From my story to your kitchen, here you have a sneak peak at what Rebekah might serve you if you joined her for tea.

Starbucks Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
7 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 Tbsp. half-and-half
1 large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. whole milk

Spiced Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. I bake mine on stoneware, but be careful they don't burn if you use a metal pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.

Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long by 3 inches wide). Use a large knife to slice the dough twice through the width, making three squares. Cut each square on a diagonal to create a total of 6 triangles for baking.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Just until light brown. Take care not to overcook. Cool on wire rack.

Whisk each of the glazes. Using a pastry brush, once scones are cool, brush the first icing all over the top of the scones. Then once the white glaze is firm, swirl the spiced glaze over top. (I scoop it into a sandwich back, cut a small tip off one of the corners and press it through the opening into a swirl pattern on each scone.)


These are especially nice with Pumpkin Spice Tea, and my whole family loves them. So glad Rebekah served these at her Inn, or I would have never thought to look up the recipe. So yes, writing inspires baking for me. Have your characters ever had you recipe hunting? Recipe testing?

Have a great weekend everyone, and blessings prayed for you all!!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writers Are The Best!

To all those who commented in my last post regarding field research, or sent me a personal email in response, THANK YOU so much for all your encouraging words and guidance. I am seriously blessed by having friends like you guys. Overwhelmed with gratitude, really! You are awesome examples of generosity of knowledge and encouragement.

For those who struggle like I do with field research, the general consensus is that people are happy to talk about what matters to them, so just ask. This surprised me with how busy people seem to be in our generation. But perhaps that's the very reason why they like to share information about their jobs or experiences--it's a break away from the rat race of their normal life.

So, when Google and Library searches fall short with the information you seek, having clear questions, and a desire to truly listen to the expert is all you really need. Seek and ye shall find. Sound familiar?

Once again I need to take the me out of the equation and trust God to open the paths I need. Since it appears I'm not alone in the shyness factor in this big blogosphere, I want to share a portion of an email I received that sums it all up. Shirley Atchison sent my post over to a friend, Michelle Flippin, who in turn responded with a wonderful example of how to do field research as well as the following words of direction and encouragement:

"I would not stress the fact that you are an unpublished writer. If you are a writer, you are a writer. Tell the interviewee about what you have written, are writing or like to write. If possible, offer to give them a copy of the book once published or manuscript once copywritten. Offer to acknowledge their contribution. Most people will gladly answer your questions to see their name or something they said in writing.

My final word of encouragement is this: Your confidence is in Christ. He enables you to do anything related to your calling, including research when writing a book. Trust in Him to guide your questions, your words and your interaction with the interviewee."

Those wonderful words, and the way they came to me, blessed my socks off. I hope it does the same for all who have struggled like me!

Thanks again for all your input and sharing! As soon as I'm done this first draft (in less than two weeks with NaNoWriMo), I'm definitely contacting the Inn keeper in our nearby town to gather those tiny details that I need to bring my manuscript to life with a whole lot of God-confidence inspired by you all!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, November 16, 2009

Field Research--How do you handle it?

First, my definition of field research: Any kind of research an author does that involves speaking to another human being.

As an unpublished author who is somewhat of an introvert, it seems I have two strikes against me. One, my shyness causes stress in itself when I'm required to introduce myself to a stranger, much less ask them specific questions regarding my needed research for a novel. Two, how serious is a stranger going to take me, an unpublished writer, when I attempt to gather information for a novel that may or may not ever get published?

I don't know about you, but where I live authors aren't the norm. Never in my life have I ever heard anyone mention that they'd been interviewed, or their brain picked, for a novel in progress. It just doesn't happen around here.

So I'm asking those of you who have done research in person before, are you upfront, and explain that you're gathering information for a proposed novel, or do you gather your information incognito? Any ingenious ways to build self-confidence before venturing into field research, or even better, how to avoid having to do so without sacrificing the authenticity of your work? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, friends!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, November 13, 2009

Writing Inspires. . .


The greatest joy I get out of writing Christian Romances is what my stories teach me. I'm forever discovering new truths. Truths about me and my sinful judgemental ways, harboring jealousy, being hot headed, hording stuff. The list could go on. Daily, my stories reveal new truths about me and in turn press me onward to become a better person.

But the truths don't stop with my sad characteristics seeping into the written characters for me to recognize in myself. There's the Biblical truths--the Christian themes--that are weaved through my stories. They get me searching through the Bible to be sure my work is Biblically sound. They have me entering into prayer more frequently so that I may depict His way truthfully within the fictional world I'm crafting.

What about you? What truths have you discovered in your writing journey as of late?

I pray that we all enjoy a wonderful weekend. If family time is on the slate, may it be joyful and warm, and if writing is in the plan, may the words flow like warm molasses all over the page, thick and rich with truth!!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My New Writing Best Friend

Do you have one of these?

With all that's happened with my laptop as of late, and the need to up my word count productivity, I decided it was time to make a bold change in my approach to writing.

My usual writing habit would be to have my email open, my blog open with the blog roll visible, and my word document. I'd write until I bit my lower lip as I pondered where the scene should go, or whose POV I should put the next scene in, or just what description I wanted to include. As I pondered away I'd click over to check email, or visit a new blog post. In either case, my break from writing would ultimately be much longer than expected.

Getting smart, I pulled my sixty minute timer from my kitchen and brought it to my writing space. I decided to test timing my writing with one hour intervals of uninterrupted writing. If I started nibbling on my lip, I'd nibble away, but I wouldn't click over to email or blogging in that hour because the only thing I'd allow open on my screen would be my word document for the whole hour.

If you read my earlier post, you would know that I was averaging 3500 words in four hours. Well, guess what, with staying disciplined and not clicking out of my word document, I'm averaging 1150 words per hour. That means in four hours of pure writing with the timer on, I get 4600 words in. That's a significant increase. By blog hopping or email checking during my writing time, it cost me 1100 words.

My timer is definitely staying with me.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, November 9, 2009

Patti Lacy, Part II, and a Giveaway

I'm blogging over at International Christian Fiction Writers blog. Come on over to hear how Patti, a native American, wrote a book partially based in Ireland, and enter to win a copy of her debut novel, An Irishwoman's Tale.

Note: I've been having laptop issues again. This time it needs reformatting and all, so I'm way behind with my blog visiting. Please forgive me, I'll be jogging around cyber space soon to catch up with you all. My girls limit my time on the family computers, unfortunately!

Nano Update: Due to the above, I've also lagged on my Nano responsibilities. I'm 4k short of what I wanted to have by now. So this week I better get extra writing time in to catch up. By next Sunday, I hope to be half way done with 30k into the story. With my daughter's sleepover birthday party behind us, I'm feeling fairly confident that I can do this. Won't stop praying, though!

I hope you all are doing well with your writing goals. May the writing bug bite us all real good this week.

Surrendering to Him,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Winner of Patti Lacy's What the Bayou Saw

The winner is QuietSpirit!!!!

Congratulations. Please email me your snail mail address so I can get this wonderful book out to you.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, November 6, 2009

Love Is...

Conquering Hurt.

We all hurt our loved ones from time to time. And we've all been hurt by our loved ones, too, I imagine. We may not realize it. And certainly, we may not intend to inflict such hurt, but the fact remains, we do it as much as they do it to us. When we're the recipient of that hurt, we have a choice to make, let it fester so that it becomes destructive to our relationship, or we can chose to conquer it--give our loved one the benefit of the doubt by entering into discussion. I say conquer instead of forgive in this case, because these are hurts we incur when forgiveness isn't really a part of the equation.

It could be as simple as a shrug offered when something seems insignificant to one, but is definitely not so minute to the other. Or it could even come as the result of a smile offered at just the wrong moment. The shrugger and smiler are oblivious to the recipients feelings and how it would affect them at the time, of course, but does the recipient recognize that? No way.

This week, my dear hubby mentioned in passing that our oldest daughter had asked him to take her to a post-secondary information night at her school. He smiled proudly, content that he'd been asked. But from my end of the short-lived conversation, all I saw was gloating.

She'd picked him over me, once again, to spend one-on-one time with, and he seemed more than pleased with what seemed to me a victory yet again for him. I was hurt. Not only that my daughter had managed to use this scenario to snub me yet one more time (intentionally or otherwise), but that my husband appeared to have no reservations about it at all. Clearly, to him, it seemed emotions should have no play in this. He was asked. He said yes. Informed me of the event. End of story.

Hello! No end of story for this brooding mother. I sulked, got quiet, withdrew, but went about my motherly and wife duties of cooking, chauffeuring, laundering, etc. all with a heavy heart. Then I got smart, and decided to conquer this hurt.

Ever suck that golf ball down your throat and just spit out your hurt? (As politely as possible, of course.)

Well, I did.

And you know what?

Hearing it from hubby's perspective gave me a whole new understanding, and the hurt was immediately conquered. No apologies were needed, though they were offered by both, because this hurt came purely from a misunderstanding of a smile (and a whole lot of baggage of emotion on my part).

So, have you had any hurts that needed conquering rather than forgiving lately? How do you conquer yours?

This will be my last Love Is... for at least a while. Why? I'm tired of loving. No, seriously, I like change, and since I'm not getting change through a renovated kitchen, or new bathroom fixtures, I'll get it through my blog. Much cheaper that way. I'm thinking of going with Writing Inspires... on Fridays for a while. What do you think? Would that interest you?

Book Giveaway Reminder: If you haven't commented on my Monday post for a chance to win Patti Lacy's second book, What the Bayou Saw, click here, and comment away if you want to be in the drawing. The more the merrier.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's Your Track Record?

Since I write generally only Monday to Friday's, with weekends being strictly family time, I've gotten two days in so far for this year's NaNoWriMo challenge. And I've been tracking my writing time and word count closely. What I've discovered is that for me to write 3500 words, I need a solid four hours of butt in chair.

My goal is to write 60,000 words this month so that I can complete a whole first draft in one amazing momentum-building chunk. Broken down, that means I need to write 3000 words/day with one extra day to spare. So I'm glad I'm off to a good start with 3500 on each day so far, but I find myself trying to suppress this huge desire to increase my productivity in those four hours. What I'm wondering is, is 3500 words in four hours really all that good? Seems a bit slow to me.

I don't want my writing to be total garbage, so I do pause as I click away to make sure I'm working toward or against a goal as the case may be in each scene. And I'm concentrating on keeping tension/conflict carried throughout, so I guess I'm not following the NaNo rules totally by blocking the internal editor 100%, but still, am I producing at least on average for the time I'm putting in?

What about you? Have you kept track of how long it takes you to put in a certain word count? Am I in the ballpark, or way behind? Any suggestions on how to speed my creativity up?

If you're doing NaNo this year, I wish you increased momentum throughout the month. If you're not doing NaNo, I still wish you much joy in whatever part of the writing journey your dabbling in right now.

Book Giveaway Reminder: If you haven't commented on my Monday post for a chance to win Patti Lacy's second book, What the Bayou Saw, scroll on down to my last post and comment away if you want to be in the drawing. The more the merrier.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Giveaway and Interview with Patti Lacy

What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy,
Kregal, 2009

Back Cover: Since leaving Louisiana, Sally Stevens has held her childhood secrets at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband Sam, has heard the truth about what happened to her and her best friend, Ella Ward, when they were twelve years old.

Now a teacher in Normal, Illinois, Sally has nearly forgotten her past. Then Shamika, one of her students, is violently attacked, and memories of segregation, a chain-link fence, and a blood oath bubble to the surface like a dead body in a bayou. Lies continue to tumble from Sally’s lips as she scrambles to gloss over the harsh reality of a betrayal that refuses to stay buried.

Finally cornered by the Holy Spirit and her own web of lies, Sally and Shamika embark on a quest to find Ella in post-Katrina New Orleans. With the help of friends, family, and God, Sally can glimpse a life free of the mire of deceit and truly begin to live with joy. Will she pay the price for a lifetime of deception? Can she save Shamika?

Click Here for Link.

Patti Lacy is one of my critique partners, so I had the privilege of critiquing What the Bayou Saw early on. It's a beautiful read with a lesson regarding secrets for us all. Patti has one of the smoothest, richest voices I've ever read. So very distinct. You're sure to love it, as I do.

For an inside look at the wonderful author behind the story, please read on for a short interview with Patti Lacy.

1) What influenced you to write What the Bayou Saw?

Sigh. It all started with a memory, just like An Irishwoman’s Tale. A woman named Sheila shared the saddest story of growing up in 1960s Alabama and yearning to play with the girl next door. Only the girl next door was the wrong race. The image of two hands, one dark, one light, reaching through a chain link fence to share toys gripped my gray matter and wouldn’t let go.

What the Bayou Saw also draws on several coming-of-age stories in Monroe, Lousiana—one of them my own.

2) What do you hope your readers take away from reading What the Bayou Saw?

The insidious nature of racism and lying. However, even these nasty sins can’t escape God’s grace when we seek forgiveness and repent (a la turn around and walk the other way.)

3) A typical writing day for you would go like what?

Oh, dear. Since God has blessed me with more speaking and teaching appearances, typical has blown out the window!

I like to rise along with Mr. Sun and spend some time in prayer and Bible study. If time permits, I tap away on a new WIP, which right now is called Reclaiming Lily. The to-do list includes book reviews, blog articles, workshop lesson plans, thank-you notes, treat sack stuffing—lots is going on in good old Normal!

4) What do you view as essential tools for writing?

No matter how clogged the Daytimer gets, I find time to READ, READ, READ books that will help me write better! I just finished Samson’s Embrace Me. That woman paints the most vivid characters!

Another is Piccoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. Talk about amazing. Piccoult juggles SEVEN points of view! What a case study!

Then there’s The Help by Stockett for killer dialogue, Scared by Davis for multiculturalism—Too many books, too little time!!

A critique group (or two) provides WONDERFUL feedback. I learn as much from editing other folks’ work as I do from writing my own!

5) What are you currently working on that we might soon be able to read? Any release dates set?

No release dates are set—yet—but I hope to have an announcement soon about Book Number three!

6) Any words of wisdom for those awaiting publication?

First of all, write for that wonderful Audience of One.

Second, print cards, put on a writer outfit, like a wild shawl or frilly jacket, or whatever it takes to convince yourself that you are a writer. Then do things that writers do! Write. Read. Edit. Blog. Support other writers. Go to conferences. Craft books…like all professions, the training never seems to end. But you can do it…because He did it.



Book Giveaway Info: If you would like to be entered into the drawing to win a copy of What the Bayou Saw, please leave a comment in this post with a way to contact you. I'll draw the winner on Sunday, November 8th, and leave an announcement on this blog. Be sure to check back next Monday for the opportunity to win another of Patti Lacy's books, her first published story, An Irishwoman's Tale.

Surrendering to Him,