Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CHARACTER/STORY vs. CHICKEN/EGG

Playing around with new ideas is half the fun of writing a story, at least it is for me. The other half of the fun is typing THE END. LOL! As I spend a bit of time taking ideas from silly putty to plot, I started to realize that I'm looking at story ideas first, rather than people.

The first time I wrote a book, I wondered what would happen to a woman named Lucy Flowers. It all started with character, then events became a whirlwind around her. The same happened for the second book I wrote.

Is it easier to build a storyworld around a person, or easier to slip a person into a story already in progress? Not sure, I only know that my ideas have lately been sparked by, "What if (fill-in-the-blank) happened" and then blah-blah happened after that. I then search for people who would likely (or possibly unlikely, to create more conflict) be in that situation. It almost seems backwards, but it feels right--at least this time.

In your current work, which came first--story or character? A blend of both? Do you see a benefit to one or the other?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WONDERS NEVER CEASE


When I decided to be a judge for ACFW's Book of the Year contest, I vowed to cut back on titles for review. As a longtime fan of the Bugman series by Tim Downs, I couldn't resist when Thomas Nelson offered Wonders Never Cease.

A scheming nurse, a bloodsucking agent, a fading starlett, a desperate mother, and a girl who sees angels comprise a colorful cast of characters. Half the time we're in the POV of characters we love to hate, as they concoct a plan to convince a star she's seen an angel while in a coma, and write a bestseller to unknowingly make the schemers rich. Meanwhile, a little girl is having encounters that make the adults around her question her sanity.

Deeper questions about faith, and being willing to believe, are laced through this quirky story. And yet, the faith element is subtle and doesn't overpower the story. This is a perfect example of "suspension of disbelief," and though some aspects of the end are not neatly tied up, the overall read is quite satisfying.

Wonders Never Cease is a complete departure from what I've come to know as a Tim Downs novel, but it's absolutely a page-turner, and I hope to see more stories like this.

BLURB:

"It's true what they say, you know: If you talk to God, you're religious; but if you hear from God, you're schizophrenic."When a car accident leaves a famous movie star in a coma, nurse Kemp McAvoy thinks he has found his ticket to the life he's always wanted. As a med school dropout who was on his way to becoming an anesthesiologist, Kemp has the knowledge to carry off the crazy plan he concocts: adjust the star's medication each night and pretend to be a heavenly visitor giving her messages. He recruits her agent and a down-and-out publisher to make sure the messages will become the next spiritual bestseller and make them all rich.But his girlfriend's daughter, Leah, keeps telling people that she is seeing angels, and her mother and her teachers are all afraid that something is wrong.
Before it's all over, they'll all learn a few things about angels, love, and hope.

CLICK HERE to get your copy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

THAT QUIET SPACE IN BETWEEN...

.....projects usually affords me a little time to pursue other interests. Last year between WIPS I learned to crochet. Last summer I focused on preparing to homeschool. This time....

Huh. I dunno.

I sent out my WIP for crit, and until I receive it back to make the changes I'm floating. Aimlessly. Because I had several nuggets of ideas, I assumed I'd be spending the time fleshing them out, but for some reason my nuggets are more like pudding, and I'm more likely to make a mess than plot out something brilliant. Of course, that's where all my ideas start.

What do you do between projects? Do you immediately jump into the next, take time off to pursue something else? Do tell!

Friday, April 23, 2010

THE SHORTEST SIX WEEKS OF MY LIFE

As many of you know, I had my appendix out recently, and was told to stay away from all strenuous activity for six full weeks. I ranted and threw a fit, explaining to the doc how girthy I'd become if I waited that long to get back to my exercise routine.

fall on treadmill Pictures, Images and Photos

Sadly, I found I enjoyed my new relaxed schedule, and six weeks flew by entirely too fast.

Now I have no excuse to sip my coffee and do the crossword puzzle, not when the treadmill beckons like a Siren. OK, it really doesn't, but my guilt prods me along.

This week my workout partner (she had to stop introducing me as her partner, because in a town like ours people get the wrong idea!) and I went to step aerobics and weight lifting class. Today I'm supposed to go to a new cardio class but I'm a little freaked. Might have to settle for a trot on the treadmill.

As computer-ish, artistic, writerly types, it's easy to fall into a sedentary routine. But please allow me to be the voice of guilt that prods you on.

What are you doing to stay healthy?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Blood Ransom
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)


by
Lisa Harris






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Award-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has more than fifteen novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.



From Lisa:



Have you ever noticed how God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things? In writing Blood Ransom, I wanted my heroes and heroines to be ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Chad and Natalie’s lives were changed not only through the challenges they faced, but also through their reliance on God. And when they set off on their journey to the capital to save Joseph’s family, they never imagined that God would call them to a task that was beyond the scope of their own power.



But while this story is fictional, the issue of a modern day slave trade is very real. It is estimated that there are currently more than 27 million slaves on the world today from Africa, to Eastern Europe … to the United States of America. The fact is, we don’t have to travel around the world to see people hurting and exploited. They’re real people we pass every day, living in our neighborhoods, and attending our churches and schools. They’re empty and broken, searching for freedom and hope in an often hopeless world.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Natalie Sinclair is working to eradicate the diseases decimating whole villages in the Republic of Dhambizao when she meets Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from a lucrative medical practice now volunteering at a small clinic.



Meanwhile, things are unraveling in Dhambizao. Joseph Komboli returns to his village to discover rebel soldiers abducting his family and friends. Those that were too old or weak to work lay motionless in the African soil. When Chad and Natalie decide to help Joseph expose this modern-day slave trade---and a high-ranking political figure involved in it---disaster nips at their heels.



Where is God in the chaos? Will Chad, Natalie, and Joseph win their race against time?



Romance and adventure drive Blood Ransom, by Lisa Harris, a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.



If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Blood Ransom, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

HAVE YOU EVER....

....taken on one of your character's hobbies or interests?

This might sound a little weird, but every time I develop a new heroine, I start taking an interest in the things that interest her.

For example, when I was writing my second book, Honey Do Inc., the heroine did lots of household things. So did I. Coming up with new ways to run my household became somewhat of a hobby.

When I wrote my last novel, Fit for Love, the heroine was busting her butt to lose weight in a fitness boot camp. I rejoined the gym.

My next heroine might be a professional organizer....guess what I've been doing lately?

Now, it might be a chicken and egg situation. What I perceive as my heroine doing something and I follow after, is most likely my subconscious working, then my heroine following me. But it's still fun to notice the similiarities.

And get the closets organized.

Tell me I'm not a lame brain. Does this ever happen to you?

Monday, April 19, 2010

CHARACTER--Without the "S"

Writing attracts a bunch of odd ducks. (LOL, sorry, but it's true and I still love you!) People who--until they hit the big break--are willing to toil for free, wait for torturous months at a time to get a response, and generally need to be tough enough to endure critiques, reviews, and brutal rejections (knowing it'd be less painful to simply pluck out our eyeballs and fry them in a pan.)

On the flip side, we are a caring bunch. Always willing to help a fellow writer along the way, dive in and volunteer for various projects, and cheer someone on as they achieve the next big step--even as we may be languishing in quicksand.

It occured to me that God has used this writing thing (I really don't know what to call it, as it's more than a hobby, but I'm not a professional) to change my personal character in ways that otherwise would have remained untouched.

Patience and humility have been the two big ones for me.

What about you? How has God changed/shaped/molded your character through your writing?

Friday, April 16, 2010

FORGET ME NOT

Love the premise of this story! This is my first Vicki Hinze novel so I wasn't sure what to expect. In the beginning, my addled brain was a bit confused since there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but wow--the way the plot ties together in the end was perfect! Fast paced and full of unexpected twists, this book is a good read for fans of suspense.

BACK COVER:

Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man—in his faith, his work, and his family. Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away. His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith. Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too. Why had he survived? He’d failed to protect his family.

Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help—a victim who eerily resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan. A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith—and Susan’s necklace.

The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill. Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman’s situation from dangerous to deadly. Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?

Author Bio:
Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Selected for Who’s Who in America in 2004 as a writer and educator, Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a Vice President on the International Thriller Writers Board of Directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Visit www.vickihinze.com to learn more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.

CLICK HERE for more info and to purchase!

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

POWER PRAISE MOVES

After a harrowing experience in group yoga, I'm so thankful for this DVD. I attended yoga for several months, and while it seems innocuous at first, believe me the true origins begin to expose themselves. Ugh (that's a whole 'nother post.)

Power Praise Moves takes the beginner step by step through each pose, and there's also a booklet that allows the viewer to follow along. It's great to get solid instruction, thereby reducing the chances of injury. I learned things I hadn't heard before. The moves are a bit slower than the cardio yoga I was doing, but it's a great DVD for beginners, or those who really need a good alternative. Each pose is couched with scripture, and it's truly relaxing. Highly recommend for those who want a low-impact workout that glorifies God.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



Power PraiseMoves™ DVD

December 1, 2009

***Special thanks to David P. Bartlett - Print & Internet Publicist - Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Laurette Willis, the founder of PraiseMoves®, is a Women’s Fitness Specialist and certified personal trainer, as well as a popular keynote speaker and an award-winning actor and playwright. She has produced the videos PraiseMoves™ and 20-Minute PraiseMoves™ and written BASIC Steps to Godly Fitness.


Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Actors: Laurette Willis
Directors: Josh Atkinson
Format: NTSC
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: CT Videography
DVD Release Date: December 1, 2009
Run Time: 120 minutes
ASIN: 0736928456

AND NOW...A SAMPLE OF THE VIDEO:


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CRUISIN'

Nothing compares to writing in the zone. I've blogged this before, but after yesterday it had fresh relevance. You see, I wrote 2000+ words, and they broke down something like this:

0-500: I'd rather poke my eyes out with a sharp stick
501-750: Why do I like to write? This isn't any fun
751-1000: I guess it's fun, but so is watching TV
1001: Now that's what I'm talking about. I'm brilliant!

{Disclaimor--the words themselves might not be brilliant, but I sure felt like it!}

Now, if I'd never gone over 1000 words, I wouldn't have felt the high. The interesting thing is, I wasn't writing all at once, but at 4 different times throughout the day. Didn't matter, the principle still held. Once I pushed past the blahs, it was totally coolness.

How long does it take you to get in the zone, and do you have any tricks for getting there faster?

Monday, April 12, 2010

POWER THROUGH

Six weeks sounded like an eternity. Now I'm down to five days. Five measley days until it's time to start moving and shaking and getting back into my workout routines. But wait--I'm not finished with the first draft of my novel yet! Once I start running to the gym 3 days a week my life will be in a big squeeze, filled with all kinds of chaos that'll now include sweat.

That means I have to power through. It must be done! In addition to finally buying a car this week (prayers appreciated today!), concerts, two dr's appointments, and the usual running amok, I need to bring my hero and heroine back together (she's really mad), reunite a family, and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.

My question for you is, what do you do to power through to the end of a project? Besides chocolate, caffeine, and giving up my beloved reality TV, I need some fresh ideas!

Friday, April 09, 2010

HOOKED

It's been a long time since I've watched anything on TV besides the news--years, in fact. Recently a few reality shows have caught my eye, and now I find myself hooked, when really I should be writing. Or doing laundry. Or something other than gluing myself to the tube to see who gets voted off next.

Of course, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution isn't about getting voted off, it's about battling the visor-headed lunch ladies. Seriously, I would not want to go head to head with the lady in charge of the kitchen! She'd eat me for lunch (pun intended.)

And then there's Little People and the Duggars, though I can't begin to figure out why I love them so much. Survivor is a favorite. Back in the old days we watched it while pigging out on the biggest, juciest meal we could rustle up, because it tasted so much better while watching the players scrounging for scraps. (We're a sick family.) Oh, and don't tell anyone, but I've always entertained the fantasy of going on the show. Let's keep that between us.

Dancing with the Stars is in a category of its own. Poor Buzz, I hated to see him go, but MAN would I like to have his spunk when I'm in my 80's. At first I wanted Kate to do well to show-up her ex-husband, but now I'm hoping America will put her out of her misery.

Not to be a cynic, but I have a feeling a lot of these shows are scripted for drama. Some producer is out there sifting through hours of tape to find a storyline, and some of them get quite interesting. Is it possible that there is a storyteller behind the curtain?

Do tell--what is your favorite reality show, and do you think there's an element of editing/scripting?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY

Oh wow. I adore Siri Mitchell's historicals. There's something about 1st person that puts the reader right on the scene, absorbed in every detail, feeling every nuance. Love the story and the time period. The spiritual thread tied in perfectly to the era and the situations that trapped the heroine. Highly recommend!

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)
by


Siri Mitchell






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.



But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.



Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.







ABOUT THE BOOK



For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.



Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.



Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.



When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.



If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

IF ALL GOES WELL....

.....I will get to write the part I've been anticipating, and also dreading, for months. The part I've been carefully grooming the characters for. The part that makes me cringe and sweat.

The Climax--a.k.a. The Train Wreck.

From the moment I conceived the book, I knew it was coming, the moment my hero must make a choice and live with the consequences. Hopefully I can do the scene justice, and hopefully I don't get paralyzed by the blinking cursor.

If all goes well, I shall be finished with the first draft of this book by the end of next week. That'll make three months for the first draft.

Where are you in your project? Are you on track for the year?

Monday, April 05, 2010

ALONG WITH THE CAR, MY PLANS WENT UP IN SMOKE!

Weeelllll.....the whole car didn't go up in smoke, but according to family members, I'm prone to exaggeration.....

On Saturday when I finished grocery shopping, I pulled out of the parking lot and all of a sudden, smoke rose from underneath the steering column into my face! Panic ensued as I dialed my husband repeatedly while weaving through traffic, trying to make it home before I blew up. (Do I have any unconfessed sin, will my children be ok, am I wearing clean underwear?!?!)

By the time I got home, the low-rider was no longer smoking, but I was--figureatively, that is. It's time to buy a different car. One with working air. And windows. And that won't blow up. My husband was glad I finally came on board with the idea, as he's been trying to get me to agree for several months. After all, we've had our troubles with The Blue Bomb before, like when the bladder bags went out and we were a true low-rider:




BUT THIS CAN ONLY MEAN ONE THING....more money. Sigh. I had other plans for that money, like moving out of here into a place where we're not crawling all over one another, and getting far, far away from the monster trucks next door.

Alas, it must be done. Yes, I know that God has plans and we must roll with them (especially when we see no other way around it.) Have my plans been derailed? Maybe not entirely, but this is a definite kink. Am I handling it with grace? Definitely not, but I'm learning.

How do you handle life when your plans get derailed?

A. Run in circles and panic (like me)
B. Pray through it, and accept life with grace
C. Fight until you get your way
D. Other--please explain

Friday, April 02, 2010

REMEMBERING HIM

Every Good Friday, what Jesus did for us has an impact on me like nothing else. The freedom that comes with forgiveness, and knowing what He did to secure it for us gives me a fresh wave of love. This video shows my favorite Easter song.

Happy Good Friday and Resurrection to you all!

AN ABSENCE SO GREAT

Settle in and enjoy the easy pace of An Absence So Great, the sequel to A Flickering Light, by Jane Kirkpatrick. The story picks up with Jesse Gaebele, a female photographer in the early 20th Century, as she tries to piece her life together after dabbling in a forbidden romance. Real emotions, consequences, and that grace that God offers all flow nicely through the story. To get the full impact of the book, I highly recommend reading A Flickering Light first. (My thoughts are HERE.) What's even more impressive is that the main storyline comes from the author's own family history.

BLURB:

Inspired by the engaging stories told through her grandmother’s photographs taken at the turn of the century, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick provides a portrait of the tension between darkness and light in the soul of a young woman pursuing her professional dreams.

Despite growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is still at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing on her dream to one day own her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep those painful memories from seeping into her heart, and the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

BIO:
Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning author of sixteen historical novels, including A Flickering Light, the first part of Jessie Gaebale’s story, and three nonfiction titles. Known for her unique insights into the exploration of community, family and faith of actual historical women, the Wisconsin native and her husband have called their ranch in Oregon home for the past 25 years.


CLICK HERE for purchasing info!!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

RODEO SWEETHEART

Congratulations to my friend, Betsy! She's done it again, and you are sure to enjoy Rodeo Sweetheart, a story about a woman trying to save her ranch, and the city-slickin' family with a secret that could destroy everything she's working for!

The thing that still puzzles me--no matter how many times she has explained it--is how on earth our polka-dot shoe loving Betsy can possibly know so much about horses and ranches. LOL! Totally authentic details that will bring you down home to Appleback, Texas. A perfect read, even for a greenhorn like me :D

SOOO, click HERE to get your copy. AND, if you're a really good friend, run down to the store and reorganize the shelves to put Betsy's book in front!

BLURB:

To save her family ranch—and her father's legacy—Samantha Jenson reluctantly runs a dude ranch on the financially strapped property. Among the greenhorn tourists in stiff jeans and shiny cowboy boots: handsome businessman Ethan Ames. Ethan makes Sam remember her own dreams—of love and marriage. But surely he'll ride out of her life—in his fancy car—when his vacation is over. Until she learns that Ethan isn't on vacation at all. He has a very big secret. One that just might destroy her dreams of being his rodeo sweetheart…forever.

BIO:

Betsy St. Amant lives in north Louisiana, has a penchant for chocolate and polka dots shoes, and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy is multi-published through Steeple Hill and has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, ‘Kickboxing or Chocolate’, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to Crosswalk.com. She is a wife, new mommy, author, and avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.
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