Sunday, August 31, 2008

Keeping My Feet On The Ground

(Outside my window: the corn is getting high. Queen Anne's Lace is quivering in the breeze.)

It is an indescribable sensation. An email, then the phone call came saying my novel had been accepted for publication. I teared up, hugged my husband and boys, called my mother to tell her the news. For a time it was so real. Then a haze settled over me. Was I dreaming?

You can ask any writer. They all want to be read. They all want to see their writing in book form. For some it may be ego. For others it is a humbling experience when it happens. I think about people reading my work...they are reading my thoughts, my imaginings that I put down on paper. They are reading my dreams, and discovering the characters that I've gotten to know that seem to be living, breathing people.

My hope is my writing will please my readers. There is a proverb that says pride comes before a fall. So, writer. Stay humble in your craft. Do not allow pride to consume you, to cause you to trip up and fall flat on your face. Keep your head bowed and your heart meek to the One who blessed you with talent.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


What I see outside my window: (A mother squirrel has built a nest in a crook of the maple tree. The nest looks like a mass of brown autumn leaves. I can't imagine how they stay secure in such a precarious structure.)

It's my birthday today. I'll not reveal my age, but when I was born Eisenhower was president and the first copy of the Guinness Book of World Records was published.

When I woke up this morning (cat got me up at 6 am) there was a bouquet of flowers, a card, and a bag of pistachios on the kitchen table from my hubby. He included inside the card cash with the understand I am to use it to p
amper myself at the local hair spa. I'll let you know how that turns out. I remember the day when my hair was to my hips, silky, and dark. It's changed. Age does that to a woman.

August has been a good month. My husband was rehired at the job he retired from on June 30. My novel was accepted by an outstanding publisher and a great editor. I'm not getting any younger, I told God recently. I'm so thankful he
opened the door for me to be published at last.

I'm rambling in this post. So pop over to Brandilyn Collins' Forensics & Faith blog today and read about me and two other aut
hors accepted by Abingdon Press.

I've updated my website as well.

Friday, August 22, 2008


What I see outside my window. (A orange and yellow sunset peeking through the evergreens. Oh, and the ladder my husband left outside our window after working on the trim of the house.)

At last, after years of hoping and searching, persistence and patience, writing and rewriting, and prayer, I have a publisher. Surrender the Wind, an epic tale of love, betrayal, and fidelity, set in England and Virginia after the American Revolution, has been accepted by Abingdon Press. Surrender the Wind will be released in trade paperback in the Fall 2009. Visit my website to read more about this novel on the Books page.

Don’t ever give up on your dream. Have faith. God answers prayer. A few weeks ago, I sat down at my desk and put my face in my hands and prayed. I asked the Lord to give me guidance regarding this novel, to show me what He wanted me to do. He showed me that day, and three weeks later I have had an acceptance. I've been submitting this book for two years to agents. It's finally found a home.

Please let me emphasize to those of you who are seeking publication. Never give up. Trust God with your career. It is all in His timing. He knows what is best for us, when it is best for us. Keep trusting in Him.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

(What is outside my window? Our ladder. My husband and son decided yesterday to scale the enormous maple tree and give it a trim. They looked glassy-eyed when they told me they were going to Home Depot to buy a chain saw --- like a kid going to a candy store. When they returned and began sawing away, they were like little boys with a new toy. Oh, that blasted machine is in the park again this morning at 7:30 am bleeping away. I feel sorry for the residents whose homes line the park.)

Every morning in my local town's newspaper, The Frederick News Post, there is a feature 20/50/100. Small clips from years past are posted. I especi
ally like reading what happened 100 years ago on this date posts. Many of them are humorous. Here is today's.

100 years ago - Mrs. Six and Mrs. Foland are cousins and the families reside in adjoining houses on East Sixth Street, and it appears that they have not been on the best of terms for some time because one swore vengeance on the other’s cat sometime ago. Since then the air has become very sulphorous at times when it is alleged, language was used of an unprintable character.

What stands out the most is the flowery writing. How about the name Mrs. Six?
'Vengence on the other's cat.' I wonder what this kitty did to deserve such a vow. 'Other's' implies they each owned a cat. Maybe the cat who has the death threat, or at least a threat to bodily harm, beat the other in a cat fight, or ate the other cat's food, or stole it's toy mouse. We will never know.

How about 'the air has become very sulphorous'? This must have been the way 'sulphurous' was spelled 100 years ago unless it is a typo. Nonetheless, it pertains to the fires of hell, hellish or satanic. It also means fiery or heated. The language was so blue they could not print it. What do you think was the exchange?

Cousin, keep your dang cat out of my side of the house.
That blasted cat of yours is going to get its what for!
That infernal puss of yours is nothin' but a nuisance.
Confounded cat! It'll pay with its life!
I'll make a fur coat outta your cat, dang nab it!

If Caturday had been around back in 1908, perhaps a photo of the victimized kitty would have said something like, 'My mistrez will have vengenze on uz.'

I hope in the end the two cousins made peace with each other and lived in harmony until carried off to their eternal rest. Their relationship certainly was dramatic, and over a pair of cats no less.

It is kind of strange, but these little clips often inspire me to write. It's interesting to read what went on a hundred years ago each day. I guess this is another way to rip it from the headlines.

Note: Announcement forthcoming about a publishing deal!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bringing the Past Forward

(What is outside my window this morning? Nothing exciting. But all I've heard, since 7 am, is the constant beeping of some kind of machine over in the park breaking up a basketball court.)

I’ve been reading a few threads on writers’ forums lately about backstory. Some say to completely cut out a prologue or beginning chapters that are ‘backstory’ and weave backstory into the book. Call me naive, uninformed, a rebel writer, but I question some of these rules, that they should be strictly followed and a writer must never stray from following them. I’m meeting up with new writers that are so paranoid, afraid of using a word ending in ‘ly’ or the word ‘was’, or backstory to the point they are stifled in their writing and have lost the joy of it. I recall sitting in a writers’ critique group a few years ago, and the conversation being not to use flashbacks. Now I'm hearing, use them.

Who makes these rules? It’s like eggs. First, they are bad for you. Don’t eat them --- too much cholesterol. Then a few years later we are told to eat eggs. They are high in protein and nutrients. Sigh.

I was looking at some of Nora Robert’s novels in this regard. She is the most successful romance author in ABA, and not doing too shabby as JD Robb. For example in her novel River’s End, she begins with a prologue where her heroin, Olivia, witnesses as a child the murder of her mother. The next four chapters that follow introduce the reader to her aunt and uncle that become Olivia’s guardians in 1979. Then the next chapter picks up in 1987, then after a few chapters, the novel is set in 1993.

Nora moves the reader through a time line --- from beginning to end. I wonder if some writers would say that all the chapters set before 1993 were backstory and should be woven into the book. Personally, I like this style of writing. I want to read a story that begins at the beginning and ends with the end. I feel the tension mounting in the story, questions arise as to where these circumstances will take my hero or heroine. More than often, novels that introduce a moment of flashbacks jerk me out of the story, and I feel like I’m in a tennis match being lopped back and forth --- past --- present ---- past ---- present.

If Margaret Mitchell started Gone With the Wind at the time of Melanie’s labor, think of what would have been lost. . . the garden party at Tara, Scarlett and her spoiled attitude, her meeting Rhett for the first time, the start of the Civil War and the young men racing off to join up. Now, she could have had Scarlett reflecting back to those moments, but would that have made the novel the blockbuster it became?

I think of Jane Eyre. Bronte begins the novel with Jane living with her cruel aunt after her parents and uncle have died. She is mistreated, misunderstood, and unloved, shoved aside and not accepted as part of the family. Her aunt's cruelty and hatred if further felt by Jane when she is sent off to a gray, dismal girl’s school.

If the book began at the time Jane accepts an offer as a governess and goes to Thornfield, and Bronte wove Jane’s past into the story, I think we would miss out. Jane's experience in childhood is what molded her into the kind and gentle woman she grows up to be. Bronte's style is indeed masterful and we can learn so much from authors whose novels have remained bestsellers for decades.

I realize these are classics and the rules have changed. But these books will go on to be classics for years and years to come, and most of our books. . .well, will go the way of the wind. I’m not putting down weaving backstory into a novel. I’m just saying that both ways can work depending on the skill of the writer. For a writer to truly become masterful it takes work, and you can never believe you've so 'arrived' that you don't need to improve or grow. Pride can lead to a fall. A humble heart keeps you open to learning.

Keep writing. Keep growing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book Cover Contest

(What is outside my Window: A small downy woodpecker creeping along a thick limb, swooping down for a bit of suet. A cloudy sky through the trees.)

Over on the Stepping Stones for Writers site, a book cover contest has been announced.
It's a fun way for those authors who need some marketing to get some exposure. Send in your vote for your favorite book covers.

What are your favorites? Here are just a few of mine.

The Announcement can be read at:

Friday, August 8, 2008


In two weeks, give or take a few days, I will be making an announcement that concerns my publishing career.

Stop back in for updates until then.

Keys to Success for UnPublished Writers:

There is a lot more to your career than just writing a novel.
Submissions is more than just sending a query.
Learn the ropes.
Learn how to write a book proposal.
Have a marketing plan written that you can present to an editor in advance.
They are going to want it before you sign on the dotted line.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

True Romance

(Minutes: The car was totaled. But my son is alright.)

(What's outside my window today: A squirrel had built a nest in the maple tree. I guess she wasn't the engineer she thought she was. It came tumbling down and is hanging from a branch.)

On the ACFW loop yesterday they were discussing sexual tension and how far should a Christian author go with it. Most said to end with the bedroom door closing. Julie Lessman, author of 'A Passion Most Pure' replied with what I think was the perfect answer, and she included an
excerpt from her book. If you did not get a chance to read it, here is what
she wrote.

'I've been told that my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, is one of the edgiest novels in the CBA romantic realm, so I totally relate to those flag-waving nerves!! In fact, I was so nervous about CBA guidelines, that I actually created two versions of the ms. -- a CBA version and an ABA version. Fortunately for me, my agent sent the ABA version to my publisher, who bought it and touched almost none of the edgy things I had been worried about. So I definitely concur with the rest of the loop authors who indicate that the CBA has become more relaxed in their stance, but ALL within good taste, in my opinion.'

'Colleen said "You can go to the bedroom door, but you shut the door." I would take that a step further and say as
long as a couple is married, you can take it into the bedroom (or at least I have been allowed to do so by my publisher), but you close the door right at the point of actual lovemaking ... kind of like the old movies did with love scenes that fade to black. To show you what I mean, here is a scene from A Passion Most Pure between the mother and father after they had a fight, which takes you into the bedroom, but then closes the door:'

'He whispered his sorrow, telling her he loved her, cherished her, needed her. His lips brushed against hers, and he could feel the fire of his passion burn deep inside. With renewed intensity, he kissed her again. He felt her relent with a startling hunger of her own. Sweeping her up in his arms, he laid her gently on the bed, his lips never wavering from the sweetness of her mouth. In one beat of his heart, he was overcome with love for her. An intense rush of emotion flooded his soul for this woman who possessed his heart so completely. He stroked her face, her neck, her arms with such impassioned tenderness that a soft moan escaped her lips.'
"Marcy, I love you,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper, “more than life itself."
'She met his mo
uth violently with her own, and he knew in that one action, she forgave, allowing the intensity of their love to carry them away.'

So my advice would be to pray about it, and then write the book of your heart. Trust me, your editor will cut whatever they deem to be over the top.

Whew, isn't that awesome!

In Marylu Tyndall's newest novel The Falcon & the Sparrow...she has a scene early on that ignites the physical attraction between the two main characters. It is deftly done, if for a lack of words superbly done. It is so incredibly romantic that it will make you sigh. I love old movies, you know the romances that take you to the brink. That's The Falcon & the Sparrow, as far as I have read into chapter 6. You will be on the edge of your seat for the heroine. Worry about her. And when the hero, Chase, corners'll be turning the pages as fast as your eyes can soak in the words and your fingers can turn the pages.

I'm waiting for Julie's book to arrive any day. I cannot wait to read it, especially after reading her excerpt. Honestly, her response to this question gave me much relief. I too have fretted over if I went too far...or not far enough.

You can find out more about her novel, and the sequel that is coming out in September at her website. Marylu has move to come as well and I've included her website. Hers site has in audio the soft lull of the ocean, and features her other books.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Clouds & Silver Linings

(Minutes: Friday had a request for a full manuscript. Car accident.)

(What's outside my Window: A baby-blue sky behind the breaks in my huge maple tree. The evergreens bathed in shadow and light.)

There's an old saying. With every cloud there is a silver lining. That is true, but only if the sun is shining behind the cloud.

Life throws us curve balls, and one hit me in the head this weekend. It began great, with a request from an acquisitions editor to read my manuscript after reading the proposal. The door had opened a bit. Now I'm waiting for the welcome inside.

I was on cloud nine the rest of the day, feeling lighthearted and thankful all at the same time. Then my son wanted to go to Best Buy to purchase a computer program for music. When he skipped out the front door, I had a thought that I wished he wasn't going. Five minutes later the phone rang. He had been in an accident. It wasn't his fault, and thank God he was not hurt. But the van...we are waiting to hear the decision of the insurance company. It may be gone.

All weekend my gut ached, my nerves so tremulous that my palms kept sweating. It's because I am a mother. The reality had hit me that my child could have been injured or worse. I am only hoping that he will be more careful from now on.