Friday, December 23, 2011

Look at Rejections as Stepping-Stones

 When I read accounts of aspiring writers expressing their disappointment after they’ve received a rejection, my heart goes out to them. I've been in that exact same place where rejections seemed an endless circle for several years after I began writing seriously. They caused me to wonder if I’d ever be published, if I were on the right career path. But deep down in my heart the desire to be write beat on. I could not give up, and neither should you if you are feeling like throwing in the proverbial towel.

There are three things a Christian writer must have besides a tough skin, persistence and patience, and the belief God has blessed you with a gift, whether it is to write one story or a thousand. You continue to write, improve the craft, send out queries, put your writing career into God’s hands, and commit your work to Him.

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Romans 8:25

Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

Rejections come with the writing life. However, the day you land your first publishing contract, all that you went through to get to this point will be worth it, no matter how long it took. Still, you might get a rejection from your editor on a new proposal, but you can ask what you can do to make the manuscript better, what can you change to meet her expectations. As you grow as a writer you'll begin to view rejections as stepping stones to something make you a better writer, a motivation to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Some may disagree, but I tend to think we need to change the wording from ‘rejection’ to ‘a pass’. Wouldn’t that make it a little less gut wrenching for writers? Editors and agents will tell you, most passes are because the book’s premise does not intrigue them, or they haven’t the room for another client or author. But that is not to say a lot of submissions are given a pass based on poor writing and weak plot lines.
When I had finished writing Surrender the Wind, I started sending out queries right away. Frustrated after a year of receiving passes from agents, I sat down at my desk one July  morning in 2008, and asked the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do with this book and with my career. I have a verse in a frame on my desk that says ' Commit your work to the Lord' and when I looked over at it, I decided that was the only way to go. Commit it all into His hands. If He wanted my novel published, it would be. I had to be patient for the right door to open at the right time and place.

Fifteen minutes later I read on Brandilyn Collins’ blog that Barbara Scott had been hired as the new acquisitions editor at Abingdon Press. They were starting a fiction line and she was looking for novels in my genre—inspirational historical romance. I sent Barbara a query and she requested the manuscript. I was offered a contract and Surrender the Wind came out August 09. In June 2010, I signed again with Abingdon for a historical series Daughters of the Potomac.

I'm not sharing these successes to toot my own horn. My goal in writing this article is to encourage you to look at rejections in a different light. Remember they are stepping-stones to something better. Be patient and persistent.


Beginning February 1, 2012, Daughters of the Potomac, will be released. Titles are:
Before the Scarlet Dawn
Beside Two Rivers
Beyond the Valley

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Treat

'Tis the week for festive cookies and desserts.

This week I'm sharing a Shortbread Cookie recipe I've made for years. When my sons were little, I'd cut out the dough in fun shapes. This year I patted the dough into a roll and cut them into little squares. You can add sprinkles or icing.

Shortbread Cookies 
3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (almond and lemon extracts are also good.)

Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until creamy, then slowly add sugar, egg, and extract. Gently fold in the flour mix and form dough.

Roll out on floured surface. Cut in different shapes and add sprinkles.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheets 10-15 minutes at preheated 325 oven. Cool on racks.

Here's a treat I found online that you can purchase. But they are easy to make yourself. Just dip the marshmallows in white chocolate and roll in crushed peppermint candy. You can vary the recipe with other candy or chocolate.


Serve these fancy, festive hors d’oeurves for sweet snacks or satisfying desserts! Boasting soft, billowy marshmallows, hand dipped in white chocolate and rolled in crushed, peppermint candies, each indulgent treat has its own wooden stick for merry munching. 4.2 oz. package includes 6 individually wrapped snowballs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Let's Talk 'HEROS'!

HERO: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

In today's market, most novels focus on the heroine. Here are a few questions about heroes that I hope you'll take a moment to comment on.

Have we missed out on the hero being the strong central character in CBA novels?

What is the reason the heroine has taken the lead?

If the hero did take a stronger role in CBA novels, would this give female readers the wrong image of what a man should be, or can writers portray him to be a godly man with flaws, yet willing to lay down his life for others as Christ would?

I'm preparing a proposal for an Edwardian series. Three heroines will be the central characters. However, the heroes are going to shine through these stories as much as the ladies.

In order to have a deeper vision of my characters I keep a file of old photos. Here are a few. Tell me how would your visualize each of these gentleman as a hero. These are early 20s and 30s actors.

Present day actors are still a source for inspiration. The thing I am seeing in books, movies, and television programs is the tough, manish heroine.

I feel these give the wrong message to girls about womanhood. We can still be feminine and be strong. But we don't have to act like a man to be a heroine.

Are these types of stories emasculation the hero?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What My Grandmother Taught Me ~ Part 3

During the Great Depression, my grandmother Bess had to feed a family of 12.  She did a lot of canning in those days, and one thing that was stored in many a cellar were apples. 

In those days my grandfather would return home with bushel baskets of apples, sacks of potatoes, and other produce in bulk that he would acquire from local farmers outside the boundaries of Washington DC. Grandmother taught me that tough times call for ingenuity.

Since Colonial times in America, apples have been stored over the winter months in cold cellars. In this final post on recipes from my novel 'Surrender the Wind', I have a delicious stewed apple recipe for you from my novel Surrender the Wind.

Claire in the story is a servant at our hero's estate, Ten Width Manor. Here is a snippet.

The path widened the closer Claire got to Ten Width. She stopped, looked down the hill, and caught her breath. There stood the house, the brick washed with dew and morning light as if an ornament chiseled from an artist’s hand. 
With her sleeve, she wiped the sweat from off her face and moved on.
          She rushed down the hilly path. The neigh of a horse caused her to glance up a few yards ahead where a rider pulled rein. His tall, black horse shook its wiry mane and looked at her with wild yellow eyes.

Claire's Stewed Apples

6-7 firm apples, 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, and 1 cup of sugar, 1 tbs. cinnamon, 1/2 cup water. Peel, core, and slice apples into chunks. Sprinkle with sugar. Melt butter in a skillet on low heat. Add the apples and cinnamon. Cook until tender, and serve after a hardy meal. . .but not to such odious men such as Constable Latterbuck who insulted my apples, even though he thoroughly enjoyed my seared beef, bread, and potatoes.
Claire ~ Ten Width Manor

Please visit my website to read more about Surrender the Wind, and the new inspirational historical series, Daughters of the Potomac, that will be released beginning February 1, 2012.

 For the Holidays, Cokesbury Bookstore is offering Surrender the Wind at 70% off the cover price for only $4.00! If you need a gift for the book lover on your list that enjoys inspirational romances, this is the book you want for them. And if you would like a large bookmark to go with your book, just send me an email ( ) with your request and address and I'll get it in the mail to you right away.

In the next post, I'll be sharing a wonderful Christmas recipe with you! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today I am sharing a tea cake recipe that my heroine, Juleah Fallows Braxton, would have made in the Colonial period. 

Allow me first to give you a snippet from my novel 'Surrender the Wind', an inspirational historical romance set in the Colonial era. 

Juleah’s reflection appeared in the window glass. Unlike a mirror, it was a translucent image, her eyes and face pale, her hair ghostly soft about her face. She saw one person, one woman, instead of a couple. How incomplete she seemed without Seth beside her.
Her eyes filled and blurred the reflection before her. The horse chestnuts trees her father had planted on the hilltop beyond the garden came into view. Lances of sunlight poured between them, made the grass luminescent, matched the color of the lichen in the pond. 
I wish I could paint that scene,” she whispered, leaning her head across her arm. “But I shall never excel at watercolors.”

Juleah's Colonial Tea Cakes

1 cup of butter, 1 cup of sugar, 3 eggs, and 4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Cream butter and sugar together until creamy. Add slightly beaten eggs and remaining ingredients. Roll on floured board and cut. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Serve to guests, especially ladies, with good English tea and dusted with powdered sugar. 

Visit my website and read about Surrender the Wind, and a new series, The Daughters of the Potomac, to be released beginning February 1