Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cutting off the Inner Critic

I asked my friend and co-collaborator of a romance anthology, Molly Noble Bull, if she would like to critique my short romance. She said she would be delighted, but warned me that she takes her editing role very seriously and can come across rather tough if the situation warrants. I assured her I didn't expect anything less.

As a writer, I am my own worst critic. While I am working on a book, I hate it and am sure my editor and publisher will too. Only after I finish the book and the last of the last rewrites, can I step back and say, "Wow! I don't even remember writing this. It's actually pretty good."
Sadly, this carries over into my personal reading. Even when reading for entertainment, I have a hard time removing my editor's cap. I find myself thinking, "I wouldn't have used that phrase." "That character would never react that way." "Why does the writer have to tell me what the heroine is wearing in every scene? I don't care." "I saw that plot twist coming a mile away." And on and on and on.

I have a friend who tells me I took all the romance out of writing for her. Before she met me, she used to dream of writing a novel. She pictured herself sequestered in a mountain retreat, plucking away at an old manual typewriter while birds twittered in the trees above a babbling brook. She thought writing was the most magical, romantic career in the world. HA!!!!!! Boy, has she changed her tune. After listening to me vent and whine for the last ten years, she realizes life is no Murder She Wrote and most of us aren't Jessica Fletcher.

She doesn't even read the way she used to. Because of me, she is always picking apart the books she reads, ever the critic. I took one of her favorite pasttimes and sapped all the joy out of it.

Oh, to be a writer. Or the friend of a writer. It's not nearly as alluring as it appears on TV.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Evan Almighty

I was prepared to be offended when I went to see Evan Almighty last Friday. I was prepared for a cheap remake of the less than memorable Bruce Almighty film starring Jim Carey. I was ready for crude, sophomoric humor centered around bodily functions, spoofs, and obnoxious sexual gags. But my husband really wanted to see this movie, we had free passes, and I can't pass up a five-gallon bucket of popcorn and a bottomless Pepsi.

Instead I was blissfully surprised. Steve Correll played the part of Evan Baxter in much the same way he plays the loveable dork, Michael Scott on The Office. Fans of the show will see similarities. Whether a fan of Steve Correll's work or not, Evan Almighty is a lighthearted movie you can take the kids to with no fear of offensive language, semi-nudity, or crass humor you'll need to explain on the way home. On the contrary, this movie may open conversations about the similarites of the real Noah's Ark story, obedience, faith, and other matters we'd like to explore with our children, but sometimes find difficult.

Don't expect enlightenment or a necessarily brilliant plot. Many plot points you'll see coming a mile away. Don't overthink things. Just relax and have fun. This is a great family film and the best time I've had at the theater in a long time.

P.S. The popcorn was divine.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blog Tour

From May 15th-June 15 was the blog tour in honor of the release of my latest book Evidence of Grace. Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to host me on their blogs. I encourage you to follow the links in the right hand column to check out these wonderful writers.

As far as I'm concerned a blog tour is the way to go. Gas is hovering at $3 a gallon in southern Ohio as we speak. Who knows what it will be the next time I'm at the pumps. Everyone is talking about cutting corners in other places because we can't do without the gas. We need it. They have it, so they can charge whatever they please.

In place of actually getting behind the wheel of my minivan and driving somewhere, I have been able to make myself more visible with a blog tour.

Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum mystery series says building a web fan base helped her go from virtual obscurity to best selling author. Her first Stephanie Plum mystery had a print run of 13,000. The print run for her latest, Lean Mean Thirteen is 1.5 million. Wow! A writer's dream.

But this success doesn't come easily or quickly. It takes a lot of work. Work I'm ashamed to say I haven't invested in marketing. My favorite venue to promote books is libraries. My least favorite are bookstores. Alas, marketing is a necessary evil. The world wide web is more accommodating to my introspective nature. But it's still a long road ahead and lots of blood, sweat, and tears.

Everyone knows there's safety in numbers. Have you heard what Publishers Weekly had to say about the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Tour? Four Christian fantasy writers will kick off a tour the Eastern United States following the Intl' Christian Retailers Show in Atlanta in July. A book tour like that would be fun. You'd have a shoulder to cry on if no one showed up and someone with whom to celebrate when the crowds couldn't fit through the doors.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in my blog tour. Hope to see you in the stores soon.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Welcome Karen H. Phillips

Please join me in welcoming Karen H. Phillips to Joy in the Journey as she discusses the excitement and anxiety that is par for the course for anyone embarking on a writing career. At the end of this post, you will find information on how to contact her. Enjoy her contribution to my blog. Karen, let me be the first to say congratulations on surviving your first year in this crazy, wonderful business.

Empty Nest, New Calling

by Karen H. Phillips

I needed a new calling. A former teacher, a homemaker, and a stay-at-home mom/homeschool teacher, by the fall of 2006, I tired of remodeling and decluttering after the kids left for college. God must have something more in store for me.
Dedicating time to prayer, Bible study, and an intriguing book—Whistle While You Work: Heeding Your Life’s Calling—I found myself drawn to writing. I searched for information about writing in bookstores and online.
When you seek, indeed, you find what you’re looking for. I discovered the Fellowship of Christian Writers online. Moderators and members alike welcomed me warmly, and I learned from them the first day I joined. I soon followed FCWers in posting weekly writing goals.
The first of its kind, a writers’ conference cropped up in my area. I attended, and it affirmed my belief: God had called me to write. Spirit-Led Writer’s Lisa Crayton gave me my first paid opportunity to write when she published online my review of that same conference.
I lapped up every writing-related experience, including visiting a college about an hour and a half’s drive to hear Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife, speak at a small college. I’ll never forget talking to her afterwards. I said, “I’m a late bloomer. I just began writing recently.”
She said, “No. You have to look at it like this: You’ve had all these wonderful life experiences. Now you’re ready to write about them.”
A few months later, I came out of the internet closet and joined the local writers guild. Recently established as a nonprofit organization, the guild elected me as a board member at my first meeting. What a learning experience, to set policy and serve other writers by molding the guild into what the members want and need!
Even better, the feedback from the guild’s nonfiction group improved my essay for The Writers View Two’s Mount Hermon contest—to the point that I received a scholarship to attend. At Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, two editors critiqued a piece for me, providing insight on revising my work to fit periodicals’ needs. I connected with online friends and met new writing buddies, finding invaluable mutual support in this network.
My attendance at Cecil Murphey’s mentoring clinic, an intensive workshop in which the participants met one-on-one with Cec to revise and refine our work in progress, preceded my sending the article for the Mount Hermon critiques, an example of God’s perfect timing.

My clips file still takes up little space, but the idea and submission files bulge! If new friends and learning could add to my clips, I’d need a new file cabinet. I thank the Lord and all those who’ve helped and encouraged me through my first writing year. Right now, right here, I’m exactly where I ought to be.

Karen H. Phillips began writing for publication in March 2006. Her husband and two grown children stand behind her writing habit, especially when they browse the refrigerator near her kitchen writing desk.

Read Karen’s blogs at:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What's New

I hope everyone has been following along on my blog tour that has been going on all over the web since May 14th. I've been to some exciting and friendly places. It's not too late to join in the fun. Tomorrow I will be visiting my friend Margaret Daley. My next stop is Friday where I will check in with writers Angela Benson and Carole Browne. Stop by and see what's up.

Best of all on Friday, one week before the release of Evidence of Grace, Book 3 in my Jenna's Creek Series, we will be joined by my friend and fellow writer Karen Phillips. She will be guest blogging right here at Joy in the Journey. Stop in and see what Karen has to say. I'm sure we will be encouraged, enlightened and entertained.

It's not too late to vote for Evidence of Grace over at the ACFW book club for their July Book of the Month selection. You must be a member of the group, but that's easy enough if you have an email account. Just getting the book nominated was a great honor. Winning Book of the Month will be icing on the cake. Especially since July is my birth month. What a wonderful present. Thanks to all who have already voted.

Be sure to stop in on Friday and make Karen feel welcome. Have a great rest of the week.