Monday, March 26, 2007

Cleaning out the Well

Seven o'clock in the morning as I sit in front of my computer with the window open and all kinds of ideas rolling around in my head. My current wip is winding down. If all goes well, I'll finish it this week. This short romance will be coupled with one by award winning novelist Molly Noble Bull.

Anyone who knows me knows that I think romances are the hardest thing to write. When planning and writing a mystery, you connect the dots. Your job--whether as reader or writer--is to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. The crime doesn't have to make sense to anyone but the guilty party. Only he knows why he targets red-headed, left-handed ballet dancers who are addicted to slot machines. The police can't figure him out. Potential victims don't know he's a threat. And his mother thinks he's the sweetest thing since strawberry preserves. But underneath that gentle facade lurks the soul of a madman.

Yes, with a mystery, anything goes. The more outlandish, the better.

But no one can answer the age old question: Why do fools fall in love?

That's why writing romances are hard for me. They don't make sense. You probably can't tell me why you fell in love with your spouse or what keeps you in love with him after all these years. You probably don't understand why you always went for the bad-boy types, while your more discerning friend went for the one with potential earning capabilities. But I love writing romances. Even more, I love reading them. Apparently I'm not the only one since the only thing more popular at bookstores and libraries than inspirational reading is romance.

So back to work. I hope to immerse myself in my story which isn't even titled at this point, and not come up for air until it's finished. I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully by this time next year, I'll be holding the finished book in my hands and trying to remember why it gave me so much trouble.

Have a great week.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Interview with novelist Tricia Goyer

I am happy to be hosting Tricia Goyer's blog tour today. We will be discussing Tricia's new book, A Valley of Betrayal. Tricia was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. In 2005, her book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Award and her novel Night Song won ACFW's Book of the Year award for Long Historical Romance. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible study notes, and both fiction and non-fiction books.

A Valley of Betrayal, Book One of the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War Series by Tricia Goyer (Moody Publishers)
For reasons beyond her control, Sophie finds herself alone in the war torn Spanish countryside and pledges to make the plight of the Spanish people known around the world through the power of art.

1. What first interested you in the Spanish Civil War?
When I was researching for my novel, Arms of Deliverance, one of the autobiographies I read was from a man who was a B-17 bomber pilot over Europe--but before that he was an American volunteer for The Spanish Civil War. I had never heard of this war before, which happened right before WWII in Spain. I started researching and I was soon fascinated. Some people call it "the first battle of WWII" because it's where that Nazis first tried their hand at modern warfare.

Once I started researching, I was fascinated with the history. On one side was the fascist dictator, Franco, trying to take over Spain. He had Hitler and Mussolini backing him up. On the other side were the Spanish people backed up by The Soviet Union and International Volunteers. How could I NOT find an interesting story in the middle of that.

2. Can you explain some of the research necessary to tackle such a complex subject?
This book was very challenging because I knew nothing about The Spanish Civil War before I started. Yet, I felt sure that God was leading me to write these books, and God (again) taught me to trust Him. When He gives me an idea for a novel it is so BIG. I mean there is so much to pull together. Yet, God has shown me time and time again that He is faithful. He gives me ideas, leads me to the right research books, and even brings people into my life to help me!

One example with this book is that God brought someone also to help. A man named Norm Goyer contacted me because his was working on his family tree and he wanted to know if we were related. We weren’t related, but Norm ended up being a airplane expert and consultant for movies. Norm ended up helping me with research on my German pilot in Spain. I think it was an awesome gift from God!

This again shows me that what ever God brings before me, He also has the power to help me succeed.

To me stories are painted down color by color, image by image like painting a picture. I research people, places, history . . . I delve into books and interviews, until I have a complete picture in my own mind. Then I share the picture in story form.

3. Did the story come to you first or the characters?
I started by researching this time in history, briefly, then I started thinking of unique characters that had an impact during that time. For example, characters from my other novels have been medics, war correspondents, artists, prisoners, etc. To me it's the people that makes the story (and history) come alive. For this series I dove into the lives of an American artist, a few International volunteers, a Basque priest, and a German pilot. I research the real people first, and then the plot for my novel builds. Soon, I have to make myself stop researching to start writing. Research can be addictive!
All that to say, for me a bit of the story starts the process, then the characters take over.

4. I see you home school your three kids and have an active speaking career. How do you fit writing into an already tight schedule?
Well, they are older now, so homeschooling is much easier. They are pretty independent workers! My oldest son is a high school Junior, and he’s taking part-time college classes. The other two (9th and 7th grade) work on their stuff while I’m working on mine. We have one office with a wrap around desk . . . we all work side-by-side. Yes, sometimes I have to leave my character hanging onto life by a thin thread while I stop to help with a math problem, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I've also REALLY cut back on my speaking schedule. I do local stuff, but so far this year I only have two out-of-town events scheduled. While I love speaking, there's just not enough time to do it all.

5. How long have you been writing?
I first started writing in 1993, when I was pregnant with my third child. A friend at church was writing a novel and something clicked when she told me about it. (Cindy Martinusen now as five novels published!)

Looking back, I realized I had the heart of a writer before that. I LOVED to read. I made up all types of stories in my head. I won a few essay contests in high school, but it took a friend’s encouragement to “click.”

6. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
1. Don’t give up. It took me eight years to hold my first published novel in my hands, and the journey was worth it. Not only did I learn a lot about writing during those years, God used the time for healing and growth in my own life. Remember, His timetable is perfect.

2. Connect with other writers. I have a close group of writing friends who have been both encouraging and helpful. We were all wanna-bes when we started and most of us now have numerous books in print! We started an email prayer group on-line. It's a safe place to bring our concerns for our family, our writing, and our souls.

3. Take advantage of all the wonderful books on writing. I trained myself by taking the advice of others. My goal is to read one writing book a month . . . even now! I highlight as I read, and then I go back to the books later for good reminders.

4. Fake it until you make it. You are a writer even if you’re the only person who reads your words. Call yourself a writer. Take your writing-time seriously and others will too. There are many things I've had to say no to in order to write, but writing has also brought many more yeses into my life then I ever imagined possible!

7. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing or researching your next book? You can’t say reading. All writers say that one.
I like to hang out with my family. We travel A LOT during high school basketball season--on the road nearly every weekend from November to Feb. We watch TV shows together, watch movies, play board games, and DDR (Dance, dance revolution). In between books I try to get up house organized and catch up on what fell behind during deadline, but it doesn't work too well because I get a lot of new ideas when I'm cleaning and organizing, and I end up back at the keyboard! I also go to lunch with friends and take my grandma shopping, which she loves.

8. If you weren’t a writer or speaker, what would be your next career choice?
I would paint. Yes, I'm a very artsy person. I'd have a studio and paint portraits and landscapes. I have a bit of natural talent that I'd love to explore some day.

9. What project are you working on now?
Well, I have three books that are done, but are still being edited. My next novel, A Shadow of Treason, picks off where A Valley of Betrayal leaves off. It starts THE DAY the first book ends. It continues on in Spain in the lives of these characters, and ... well, soon they discover that more is at stake than what any of them originally thought. It's also published by Moody and it will hit store shelves September 1, 2007.
Generation NeXt Marriage will be released in January of 2008 and My Life unScripted, a teen devotional for girls, this summer. And, of course, I've got several other projects in the works, including A Whisper of Freedom, which is the next novel I have to write.

10. What would you hope readers will take away from A Valley of Betrayal?
I hope they take away that idea that all of us are called by God for a purpose. We may think that we're in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there is no such thing. God is a grand designer and it isn't until the end of our lives that we'll be able to see that He led us just where He needed us to be to help others and glorify Him.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Be the first to read Evidence of Grace

Greetings to All. There is snow in the forecast here in southern Ohio, but I am confident Spring in on the horizon. With the warmer weather comes the release of my next book.

Evidence of Grace, Book 3 in the award winning Jenna's Creek Series is due for release in June. But here's your chance to read it now before anyone else. Simply post a review on,, or any other site that allows book reviews for the first two books in the series, either Streams of Mercy or Redemption’s Song. Just send the link to your review to me at or and you will be entered to win an autographed Advance Review Copy of Evidence of Grace. The more places you post your reviews for Streams of Mercy or Redemption’s Song, the more chances you will have to win. Evidence of Grace byTeresa Slack
A murder conviction sent Sally Blake’s killer to prison. Nearly thirty years after that fateful night, a phone call from a potential eyewitness may prove the wrong person is serving time for the crime. But what would drive someone to plead guilty to another man’s crime? Noel Wyatt enlists the help of a young attorney, and David Davis, the retired judge who once prosecuted the case, to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. If an eyewitness exists, where has he been for the last thirty years? Is it possible the killer did not act alone? Is that person covering up for the real killer? What evidence does the eyewitness have that might overthrow a murder conviction? Will justice come too late for the person convicted of Sally’s murder?

Evidence of Grace is available right now for pre-order at your favorite local bookseller or at many online retail sites.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Write like Me

Yesterday my husband told me I write too slow. Ordinarily he's very understanding, but non-writers--even ones who've been in this game as long as he has--can never understand what writers go through for their craft.

What all started this tete-a-tete was when I got a newsletter from Debbie Macomber. Debbie Macomber is a force to be reckoned with in the romance writing arena. And not someone to compare yourself to because your writing will always fall short. I read in Ms. Macomber's newsletter that she had published something like 6 books last year. Another half dozen or so were re-released. When I told my husband this, he said; "You need to stop wasting time and get in there and write."

Excuse me. How does he think his laundry gets washed and put away and his dinner prepared every night? Not to mention taking the dogs to the vet and keeping my hair trimmed. All these errands happen to all of us--Debbie Macomber included--and take us away from our writing.

Non-writers don't understand that we all can't be Debbie Macomber's or Nora Roberts's. Most of us don't write at that pace. I write relatively fast (1-2) a year but I'll never keep up with some. Even at my current pace I sometimes feel like my work suffers because I'm rushing the process. Do I know my heroine? Can I relate to her? Do I even like her?

I need to learn I'll never write a book in a couple weeks like I heard Karen Kingsbury did. I probably won't even consistently publish 2 books per year like many writers. But if there's no joy in my writing--if I only experience guilt and frustration--can God be present? I don't think so.

I need to give myself permission to write like me and stop comparing myself to other writers. I bet it's safe to say they aren't laying awake nights comparing themselves to me.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The perils of being your own boss

I have a big problem saying no to my flesh. I don't really want to get up early to exercise or post to my blog or get a head start on my word count in my current work in progress. The Lord has blessed me that I am able to stay home and write fulltime. On those cold mornings, I often look out my front window and see my neighbors pulling out of their driveways long before the sun is up. I lift my face toward heaven and say, "Thank you, God, that that's not me."
I'm sitting in front of the computer right now with sweats and bare feet and a wet head from the shower. I could stay like this all day if I chose--well, not the wet head part, my hair would eventually dry. But since I don't have a boss breathing down my neck or quotas to fill or the clock ticking in the background, I am able to, and do, waste a lot of time.
Working for one's self is not for everyone. Sometimes I know I'd be much more productive if I wasn't my own boss. But I'm working on that. It isn't only my work that suffers when I give into the flesh and watch television instead of fastening my rear to this office chair and not getting up until the work is done--or sleeping in or talking on the phone or whatever it is that keeps me from doing what I know needs done.
Everything in my life suffers when I don't put limits on my flesh. The Apostle Paul said, "Oh, wretched man that I am, my flesh knows what it's supposed to do, but instead does what is bad for me. I know to do good, but don't and my body suffers even though it's what my body wants."
You realize I'm paraphrasing big time here. But you get the picture.
We know what we need to do. We know if we eat that big piece of chocolate cake right before bed, we probably won't sleep well with all that caffeine coursing through our veins. And the next morning we'll awake feeling bloating and icky. But guess what, we'll do it all over again the next night.
We're not stupid. We know our bodies require a healthy diet and regular exercise. But again, we don't use our common sense and do what is good for us. Instead we buy books and attend seminars on weight management and time management and even anger management, and we still find ourselves repeating the same bad habits. I find that I waste a lot of time during the day if I don't make lists at the first of the week to remind myself of all the office stuff that needs done and the stuff that should get done unless I want to keep tapping away on this keyboard in abject obscurity. This week I did well with sticking to the list. I even did a few things I hadn't written down.
But more than lists and good intentions and even discipline, I need to turn every week over to the Lord. I need to determine that every minute of my day will be used to glorify Him. How exactly will I accomplish that with the TV on or my head on the pillow or by not taking care of my physical body so that I get sick and am no good to anyone? I'm not talking to anyone else. This is all for me. These are my weaknesses.
Lord, remind me that each day is a gift from you, not to be squandered or wasted, but to do a good work that will last. Let me a blessing to others as You have blessed me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I think I found the remedy for removing skunk spray from two inquisitive dogs. Night before last I let my dogs, Angel, a lab mix, and Molly, a border collie, terrier variety outside to prowl. Around five o'clock in the morning they were at the front door ready to come in. I smelled skunk as they raced past, but I figured a skunk had been killed on the highway or startled in a nearby field. For about five seconds. Molly headed straight to the back door. She reeked so I thought she was the one who had invaded a skunk's personal space. She's that type of dog, don't you know, so I always assume she's the ringleader when they find trouble.

I wrinkled my nose in distaste and went back to bed. It wasn't long though that a pungent gaseous smell woke me up. Molly wasn't the only one who had alarmed the skunk. In fact, Angel seemed to have taken a direct hit and was now funking up my living room. She joined her sister in the backyard but the damage had been done.

Thank the Lord for search engines. I found a recipe for a shampoo to get rid of the odor on the dogs. Open windows, candles, and pounds of carpet deodorizer made the living room inhabitable again. But just barely.

If this happens to you, don't be stupid like me and let the dogs inside. Then try this recipe. 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 C baking soda, and a powerful shot of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Use immediately upon mixing as the oxygenation from the ingredients is what undoes nature's damage. Scrub the offending area for at least five minutes. Angel took a little extra scrubbing.

Thankfully they are both back in the house. I'm relieved since we are looking at a high of 28 degrees today here in Ohio and I hated to have them spend another night outdoors.

Now that the chore is taken care of and my headache has subsided, perhaps I'll get back on schedule with my work in progress. Every time I set a deadline, life throws a fly in the ointment. But that's the way this business works. If we try to wait until life is free of distractions to write, it will never happen. Write when you can and as much as you can, and try to keep your dogs away from skunks.