Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Transition from Writer to Author

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

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

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

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

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

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 Maybe not for publication yet.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

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

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

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

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, August 29, 2011

A Gift Unused...

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

A Gift Unused is God's Grace Denied.

A profound thought. At least for me it is.

Consider the following verse:

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

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

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

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

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Takeaway Friday & Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now for the winner of Deep Cover.

Congratulations, Robyn Campbell!!

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

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marketing in Today's World & Book Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Day to Get in on Deep Cover Giveaway:

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

Good Luck everyone!

Surrendering to Him,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Art of Plotting & Book Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

Enough preamble…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, is your head spinning?

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

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

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

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

Clear as mud?

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

Book Giveaway:

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

Good luck to everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet Debut Author Sandra Orchard & Book Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, August 22, 2011

Introducing Deep Cover with a Giveaway

DEEP COVER by Sandra Orchard
Book One in Undercover Cops Series

Is it possible to be a man of honor and live a life of lies?

Rick Gray hopes so, because as an undercover cop, he’s had to make too many sacrifices, including a future with Ginny Bryson, the woman he loves.

But when she finds herself in the center of an arsonist’s line of fire, Rick’s lies just might be what they both need to save their lives – and the lives of those they love.

I'm so excited to introduce Sandra Orchard and her debut book, a Love Inspired Suspense novel, Deep Cover. Sandra is a fellow Canadian, living in southern Ontario, too! I met her years ago at a Write! Canada conference and this year we'll be flight buddies for the ACFW conference coming up. I look forward to introducing Sandra more on my post tomorrow.

Today we'll be looking at the book, Deep Cover.

Since Deep Cover doesn't release until September 1 (but is available on Amazon for pre-purchase now), Sandra Orchard kindly sent a draft of Deep Cover to my Kindle a couple months back. In fact, Deep Cover christened my shiny new Kindle, and now I just know I'm destined to experience only awesome reads on it. Deep Cover sure set the bar high, though.

I have a confession to make, I've not been a huge fan of the LIS line in the past, unlike I am of the LI line, and for one main reason. Up until reading Sandra Orchard's Deep Cover , I always felt the mystery thread overpowered, leaving little room for relationship growth in the LIS stories. In Deep Cover however, Orchard created a wonderful balance that had me teetering on the edge of my bed not only to discover who kept sabotaging the group home development, but how in the world would Ginny and Rick overcome the lies and hurt they'd caused each other. Deep Cover is a page turner from beginning to end. Even for slow readers like me, you'll finish it in one sitting!

Without giving away too much of the story, I have to mention supporting cast here, too. Ginny's relapsing mother and handicapped sister, Lori, play an integral role in revealing who Ginny and Rick are to the core in Deep Cover. These interesting characters don't outshine Rick and Ginny in the least, but their challenges sure make for telling scenes. There are no empty characters in this book, and no empty scenes, Orchard has mastered it all. I'll be watching for the release of her future novels. They won't come soon enough for me!

Now, if you're like me, an impatient soul, you can order for immediate delivery of Deep Cover from eHarlequin using Sandra Orchard's site. Well, you can that is, if your address happens to be in their database. I'd love to hear if yours is, cause I'm still waiting for them to update it with mine. Insert pouting face here.

Deep Cover Giveaway:

Leave a comment on any of my posts this week from Monday to Thursday with an email link and you'll be entered to win a copy. Each comment you leave = 1 ballot.

Drawing will take place early Friday morning. I'll announce the winner on Friday's post and I'll mail it out as soon as I receive my copies.

Tomorrow, I'm interviewing Sandra Orchard here. Stop by to get to know this debut author and feel free to leave questions.

May your day be filled with interesting stories that make you a better person.

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh, the Possibilities!

Over at Inkwell Inspirations earlier this week brands and taglines caught my attention. Anita Mae Draper took it a step further with creating a visual icon or logo to represent her writing. How cool is that?

I'm no where near ready to delve into creating a logo yet, but that post sure had me thinking about my writing tagline. For the longest time I had Faithful Romances Worth Pondering stamped on this blog. But lately I've been switching it up, trying new arrangements--all starting with Faithful Romances, because that part I'm quite set on with the dual meaning of Faithful. Faithful as in Christian, and faithful as in true to the happily ever after scenario that romance novels offer.

If you look up, you'll notice I'm currently trying out Faithful Romances To Grow With in my blog header. What do you all think? I'm not big on ending with the word "with", but at a loss as to what else to use. You see, I consider Grow to have a double meaning here, too, just like Faithful does to me. Grow to me means that my writing is appropriate for even the youngest of romance readers, but it also implies that what I write inspires change, internal and spiritual, in the reader of any age.

Our names are our brand, but have you ever considered taglines that describes the type of stories you write? If so, please share. What are your thoughts on Faithful Romances to Grow With?

Next week I have a special guest dropping in and a giveaway. I hope you'll stop by to get in on the action.

May your weekend be fruitful and inspired, and if you haven't already committed to a tagline, may the perfect one come to you!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Within A Conference

Writer's conferences are invaluable to writers/authors not only for the education aspect, socializing and mingling with like minded people, and meeting editors and agents, but most writer's conferences also offer photography sessions.

At the upcoming ACFW Writer's Conference they will be offering 20-min. sessions with a professional photographer. For $40.00 U.S. you can get a set of six individual head shots and you'll receive them on a CD to take home with you. An amazing value, and even better is the convenience!

Okay, I'm going to humble myself here. I fully admit that I'm NOT photogenic in the least. So when I attended the ACFW conference in 2009 in Denver, I hesitated to take advantage of a similar photo op. offered. After a little chat with myself and a major pep talk, I finally booked my photo shoot in hopes that this professional stranger could do miracles with the likes of me. I was totally amazed with the twelve shots she managed to get of me. The fact that I didn't look hideous stunned me. (Well, I may look hideous to some, but at least I didn't look hideous to myself this time.)

Here's the humbling part. Looking to the right, that's me (picture courtesy of another horse mom who just had to photo creep me last weekend. Thanks, JM!) And, yup, that's how pics of me always turn out. Definitely not like the one above and trust me, JM takes beautiful pictures of every one and every thing...just not antigenic me. To prove it and to help you get this awful pic out of your mind, here's another creep photo she caught in the same session. (Yes, I'm boasting here, that's Charlie horse and our Donner horse encouraging each other before they head in to show. Chloe, and my Sabrina were quite proud of their horse's good sportsmanship manners!)

So, do you need an updated author pic for social networking, the back cover of your book, and what about that one-sheet you're working on? Check out this link for what one proven agent suggests you pack for conference. Great samples of one-sheets there, too. If you're attending a Writer's Conference, do seriously consider the offered photography session. This link takes you to the one ACFW is offering this fall. I've booked mine. Have you?

Are you happy with your writer/author pic? Did you get it done professionally? What do you thinks makes for a great author photo?

May your smile brighten some one's day today, and I do hope that awful shades pic of me didn't scare you too much! (I get sun stroke easily and have a two-hour drive home on show days, so protect myself, I do.)

Surrendering to Him,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fighting Overwhelmed

When the jitters, rushing heart rate, sinking gut, or maybe it comes in the form of shortness of breath to you, hits, does it spell OVERWHELMED?

Think last minute wedding glitches in the midst of everything else, preparing for arrival of baby in the midst of everything else, career milestone on the verge of success or failure in the midst of everything else. When I recall any of those incidents my stomach immediately aches and feels like it's dropped with a big ol' ugly thud to the pit of despair.

Is there any way out?

You betcha!

You can take comfort in recalling all those previous pits of despair and realizing that feeling didn't last forever. You survived. You found focus. By chopping and whittling away at everything crashing in, you cut them down to achievable increments. One little task at a time, you moved forward. And if you acknowledged each mini accomplishment along the way, instead of the bundle of unimaginable to-do's stealing your good senses, you got through it with only short panic attacks seeping in.

Just remember, the most important thing is to achieve the goal. How long it takes you to get to that goal is...well, it's really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The world will not end if the bride is a few minutes late. The world will not end if your project has to be implemented in stages--give 'em something new and that will placate them for the next big release. Think about where the baby's coming from--all they really need is You.

And if you're walking the overwhelming road of trying to prepare for a writer's conference now, like me, do your best at what you can accomplish before taking flight. Get that one-sheet done. Get the initial chapters polished like a shiny new engine. But don't stress if your whole series isn't polished. Don't even stress if you haven't got one novel fully primed and ready to your liking (in my experience, since writer's are always learning, there's always room for improvement, anyway), because conference is a time to learn and learn more, to socialize and network, and even if you did have all those novels ready and waiting for representation, there's no guarantee you'll find an editor or agent there that's looking for exactly what you're offering.

In fact, I've not heard of one writer who acquired their agent or sold their book at conference alone (even the special announcement sale at conference came as a result of their book being in the hands of the editor long before then). Writer's make contacts at conference, yes. But they don't sell on site. So stop stressing. Do what you can. Work hard and work smart and plan for conference to be a time of getting questions answered, feeling out prospective agents and editors, and letting them assess you, in return. Don't waste time worrying what you HAVEN'T got time to get done. Just do what you can!

Have you ever felt overwhelmed only to get through it and realize the stress was a big waste of time? Does stress hinder or boost your productivity? Is there such a thing as a healthy dose of stress? Or is it determination and self-discipline that keeps you motivated?

May we all work smarter and healthier this week onward!

Surrendering to Him,


*image courtesy of Google.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Filling the Gaps?

Is that what we do when we read fiction or watch a movie? Are we subconsciously trying to fulfill a desire, or need that reality isn't offering? Or are we seeking a snapshot of life that eliminates the mundane, or puts the ugly on someone else's shoulders for just a little while?

Or is it even more...perhaps we're searching for answers in disguise. Building up a storehouse of possibilities to get us through the next storm or learn how to open our eyes to see the gifts that truly do exist around us.

Just maybe we're example driven people. We need to see how others might handle a similar situation so that we can shift our response the next time something comes our way, beit humbling or gracious. And be proud of ourselves for doing so.

Fiction is a powerful tool to build character. Writers create characters and story out their imagination, but even more importantly, writers can influence who their readers become through the characters and story they create.

What stories do you yearn to read? What stories do you wish to write?

May the weekend bring you fiction that speaks to your soul and makes you a better person from that moment forward.

Surrendering to Him,


*image found on Google.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Writers, Social Media, & Smartphones...

do they go together?

If social media is the way to build our platform, then perhaps owning a Smartphone is a key component. Hey, wondering if you could claim it as a business expense? Of course, that would require an income as a writer. One day...please Lord.

Anyway, it occurred to me as I stood in line at the grocery store, followed by waiting in line to fill up my gas tank, that those chunks of time were the perfect length to take in a blog or two. Or interact with Twitter or Facebook friends.

I was always taught "waste not, want not". And time is one thing writers don't have to waste.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to Facebook, Twitter, and Blog hop on the fly? Oh, the possibilities. Instead of being limited to reading or writing in long hand (which is really time consuming) while waiting at the barn I could actually be connecting with writing pals, and family, too.

The thought of devoting my writing time solely to writing, while getting my networking in on the fly seems very appealing. Especially since I'm not on Internet at home unless I'm writing. My days go like this: I have to time my writing spells then click over to the networking sites, then back to a writing stint before reconnecting online again. On and on this goes while my computer chugs away.

What about you, do you have a smart phone? Do you utilize it to improve your networking and writing time? If you don't have one, do you wish you did?

May networking take you to knew friends this week, and may you be the answer to some prayers, too!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, August 8, 2011

Social Media 101

Thought I'd share what's on my nightstand this week. I'm currently working through Kristen Lamb's Are You There Blog? and finding it very motivational and informative in a general sense. There's not a lot of detailed how-to's in this book so far, but it certainly helps you see marketing strategies within the bigger picture.

Next, I'll be heading into We Are Not Alone to get into the nitty-gritty of how to implement what I learned in Are You There Blog?. These are both available in book format and Kindle Edition. A great savings for the Kindle version, I might add.

If you've read one or both of Kristen's books or her blog, I'd love to hear what you learned and if they were valuable in your marketing strategies. Time will tell for me as I work through them.

And, hey, does Blogger have tags? If so, how do you utilize them? Would they happen to be called Labels in Blogger?

May this week bring you blessings in abundance, and may your marketing skills multiply!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, August 5, 2011

Web Design ?

My Website is in dire need of an overhaul. I understand (I think) that there is a way to use blogger to create your website. I'm wondering if I can just overhaul my current site using blogger?

Currently, I host my domain with GoDaddy and used it to create that dull, boring site that exists today. What I really want is to have my website match this blog. Pinks and colorful books just look so romantic to me. If I could splash a touch of rural life into it, I would, as my stories are mostly set in the country.

Can anyone guide me on how to do this, or to a service that could do this for a reasonable fee? Would appreciate all and any suggestions out there!

May the creativity wind drop by your doorstop today and may God bless it with His own special touch!

Till next time, may your weekend shine!

Surrendering to Him,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Managing Blogging

I love blog hopping, but with me it's a problem. Once I get started, there's an inner force that refuses to let me stop. And that force can eat up precious hours that ought to be shared with novel writing. Anyone else have this issue?

I imagine I'm not alone.

So, since writing is a responsibility I take seriously, and blogging is something I can't totally give up (I miss you all immensely), I'm drafting me up some guidelines, errrr, rules (even though rules are meant to be broken in my non-conforming world).

1. Novel writing comes first before I even dare to hop on over to any one's blog, including my own.

2. Keep my own blog posts as short as possible. I've long admired Jessica Nelson for her short and telling posts--so want to be like her! :)

3. Don't hate myself if I can't get back to my faithful commenters within 24 hours. I will get back to you either through a follow-up comment, or email, or visit to your blog, it just may take me a while, on occassion.

Does anyone have any other guidelines or rules that they follow to help them fit it all in? Would love to hear them, if so.

I hope everyone planning to attend the ACFW Conference in September is doing all they can to polish their chosen story(ies). The crunch is on. May the Good Lord guide each of us to write to His glory! And I'm so looking forward to visiting with you all in St. Louis!

Blessings prayed for you all and I do hope your humidex isn't as high as ours!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, August 1, 2011

Romance Writer's Inspiration = Summer Love

Have you looked around lately?

Recently I've witnessed:

A young man twirling his girl in the air.

A couple working through their differences over a "quiet" meal in a pub.

Leisurely strolls hand-in-hand.

A man coming out of the local grocers with a batch of flowers held high and a smile on his face.

An icecream cone for two.

There's more, I know, but they elude me as I enter this post. It occurred to me as these flashbacks danced in my mind that I have absolutely no reason to feel that writing romance is inferior to writing any other genre. Romance & Love seriously does keep the world ticking.

Yes, there is much more to this world we live in than romance and love, but hey, without those two how big would the world's population really be? How much would everything else really matter?

As romance writers we have the wonderful task of revealing how lasting love is sought and also how it often requires guarding. And right now, I'm thinking that's a pretty noble job to have. (This coming from a writer who is in the ongoing dreaded editing phase.)

If you're a writer, may God inspire you with a story to craft, and if you're a reader, may God touch you with a story obediently written.

Surrendering to Him,