Monday, August 31, 2009

Looking for bloggers

The first order of business for revamping Joy in the Journey next week is to recruit some ambitious bloggers who want to have a little fun. Vicki Moss and I are hosting a "Where in the World is the Albino Squirrel" game here. Participating in the squirrel hunt is easy and playing the game is even easier.

All I need is some willing to hide this easily downloadable picture of the Albino Squirrel somewhere on your blog the week of September 12th thru the 19th. If you are willing to play, please email me. Not all bloggers will be asked to hide the squirrel. Entrants will have to visit each blog in search of the squirrel.

Even if the squirrel isn't hidden on your blog, you will get visitors. This will give you an opportunity to reach new readers who might see something they like while visiting your blog.

Come on. What have you got to lose? It will be a lot of fun for everyone. You can even play yourself and maybe will our fabulous prizes; a $15 Amazon gift card and a can of mixed nuts. What can be sweeter?!

Contact me right away and let me put you on the schedule.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunflower Serenade

I am happy to celebrate with all of you the release of Sunflower Serenade, the latest release in Tricia Goyer's wildly popular Home to Heather Creek series.

From the heart of the author:

Dear Reader, Here in Montana we have a yearly event that everyone loves to attend. Folks make sure they're back from vacation for it. Every summer people clear off their calendars, dig out their checkbooks, put on their best pants and head to the county fair.

I was so excited to be able to bring this rural tradition to life in the pages of Sunflower Serenade. While this book is a work of fiction, parts of the story are based on my own family's experiences, such as pig wrestling rodeo going, and attending summer concerts by well-known country music stars.

My all time favorite memory of the fair has to be taking my two-year-old son to see the sheep exhibits. I'll never forget his wide eyed gaze as the sheep's nose nearly touched his. Now that Nathan is fifteen, that moment is a precious memory, one I treasure and replay in my mind every time the fair rolls around.

Enjoy your trip to the county fair through the pages of Sunflower Serenade. See you there!

Tricia Goyer

About the Home to Heather Creek series:
Charlotte Stevenson's world is turned upside down when her daughter, Denise, dies in a tragic car accident. She ran away at eighteen and Charlotte has never forgiven herself. Now, Denise's children, abandoned by their father, are coming from California to live on Heather Creek Farm in Bedford, Nebraska.

Charlotte is uncertain about her ability to care for three grandchildren who are not thrilled to give up the beach and sunshine for snow and farm chores! But she sees a chance to make amends and will do whatever it takes to keep her fragile family together. Feel the courage, strength and commitment of this family as their lives unfold in the Home to Heather Creek series.

Click to buy books. The books come in a series and you can order those at the link. However, if you just want to order Every Sunrise you must call the customer service number (1-800-431-2344). Please include this information in your post!

About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the author of eighteen fiction and non-fiction books, including Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. Tricia writes magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia also enjoys speaking. She and her family make their home in Montana.

Contest: Playing on one element of the book - big city entertainers vs. old county fair – the contest for this blog tour is City Girl Goes Country! Share your funniest story (about you or someone you know) about a time when you as the “city girl” goes to the country or “country girl” goes to the city. Click here to enter.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beginning Labor Day September 7th I am revamping Joy in the Journey. As you know the blog chronicles my journey from obscure writer to top of the New York Times Bestseller Lists. It goes without saying it’s a work in progress. I would like to invite writers from every stage in the writing process to guest host or post something to the blog. The only requirement is that you must be published or actively pursuing writing as a career, and it’s not just a hobby to occupy your lunch breaks.

Note: Joy in the Journey expresses a Christian world view. While your writing doesn’t have to, I reserve the right to reject anything I deem unacceptable to my readers. Drop me a line if you would like to submit or become a guest host.

My schedule beginning September 7th is as follows:

Monday——Roll up your sleeves Day—Instructional and/or motivational posts on everything from how to create characters to handling writers’ block.

Wednesday——Encouraging words—We all need a little encouragement from time to time. Encourager extraordinaire Sharlene MacLaren, author of the Daughters of Jacob Kane series, has generously written something I’ll post that first Wednesday. Thanks, Shar. I would love to get some encouraging, inspiring words from the rest of you. Nothing is too short or too long.

Tricks & Treats Thursday——Thursday is the day to get those creative juices pumping. From writing prompts to dyed in the wool tricks to get moving and keep those keyboard keys humming.

Friday Fun Days——interviews, book reviews, contests. If you would like your book featured, let me know. We can interview your heroine, discuss your writing journey, or whatever else you think readers might like to know about you.

Saturday Smorgasbord——The name says it all. Who knows what might happen on Saturdays. The first Saturday in September we will be on the search for an albino squirrel courtesy of Vicki Moss. I would love to get other bloggers involved in the search. Vicki and I plan to blitz the web with announcements and sightings. Please join in the fun.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Did Agatha Christie stress over her hips?

Seems I spend much of my writing day trudging back and forth from my desk to the kitchen. I hit a snag in plotting and I run to the kitchen for a snack. My heroine doesn’t behave the way I would like so I reach inside my candy drawer. It’s empty these days since I practice mindful eating, so another trip to the kitchen is warranted. My tummy raises the roof two hours before dinner. I rationalize that I can’t produce if I am distracted by hunger so…you guessed it…back to the kitchen.

I wish Agatha Christie had written a blog post describing how she dealt with this problem. She was a country girl, dedicated to her craft, but not glued to her seat. I imagine her eavesdropping on the servants downstairs in the kitchen, chatting and rattling pots and pans, while she tried to work and the rumble of her tummy interrupted every five minutes.

Perhaps she was oblivious to such trivial distractions. She did after all, write and successfully publish a heap more than I have up to this point.

Writing and obsessing over my tendency to pack on the pounds now that I’m on the wrong side of 45 and at home fulltime, fills much of my day. I try to balance the two—not to mention housework (not much obsessing there) and keeping the dogs and my husband from feeling neglected, and friends and updating my blogs and adding followers to Twitter and Shoutlife…

How did Agatha do it all?

She didn’t even have a Blackberry to keep her organized. Forget about Microsoft Word and a Dell mini for when she was on the road. Yet she managed to produce some pretty amazing stuff that writers like me still study and emulate.

So maybe she didn’t obsess over her thighs. Maybe she said, “What the heck?” and called downstairs for a scone and went on pumping out the magic. Since I don’t have servants to fetch goodies, I’ll strive to exercise a little discipline to stay in the chair and out of the kitchen and let my characters obsess over their thighs.

Back to work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fabulous idea!


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- Recently Robin Jones Gunn, best-selling and award-winning author of the Christy Miller Series and the Sisterchicks Series, gave in to overwhelming requests from her readers to open an online store.

"I am now more connected to my readers, and every single one of those relationships means a lot to me," says Gunn. "For years women have been requesting Sisterchicks® T-shirts for their ministry events or tote bags for their book clubs. Teens have asked for posters and fun things like orange surfboard key chains to remind them to pray for their future husbands. One girl begged me to sell 'I [heart]Todd' T-shirts since all the girls at her school were wearing 'My Boyfriend Is a Vampire' shirts."

Robin Jones Gunn's online shop opened June 20 at with more than 680 items sold in seven weeks and a miniature surfboard keychain (the Christy Miller Series takes place in Newport Beach, Calif.) topped the list.

"It took a year to pull together the funds to do this," says the author, who has more than 4 million books in print. The store offers not only clothing and items connected to the characters and themes of her books but also most of her books. "I know that a bookstore can't carry all 70 books that I've written, so while I always encourage readers to check with their local bookstore, for the reader who can't find what she's looking for in her community, Robin's Nest Online Shop is an alternative."

Gunn reports the store has done well, and not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of touching lives. "Today this note appeared on my Facebook page along with a photo of the T-shirt logo that says, 'Sisterchicks Forever':

My friend Kara and I met at summer camp when we were 5 and have been like sisters ever since. Another friend, Stacy, joined our trio, and as soon as your Robin's Nest Online Shop opened, Kara made sure the three of us had Sisterchicks T-shirts because we love your books. But it's more than that. After many years of battling a horrible disease, Kara passed away on the 4th of July, just two weeks after we received the shirts. She asked to be buried in her Sisterchicks T-shirt because for the 3 of us Sisterchicks, the 'forever' on the shirt really means forever. We know we'll be together for eternity."

"When relationships are affected for eternity, I know opening the shop was the right choice," Gunn says.


Join Robin on Facebook for a special Summer Promise Party from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm PDT on Friday, August 14th.

On August 15th for ONE DAY ONLY visitors to Robin's Nest Shop can receive a free MP3 download of Summer Promise, the first book in the Christy Miller Series for teens.

"I can't wait," Robin says, "to hear back from those readers who have told me their friends won't read, but they will listen to books on their Ipods."

Robin Jones Gunn is available for interview.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Seize the moment

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness...never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. - Lord Chesterfield

I have a friend who says he doesn't have time to write though he enjoys discussing his writing ideas with me. He is a busy man. He has a family and a fulltime job and property that needs tended. But he also watches sports on television every weekend. He is nearly addicted to computer games and loves surfing the Net for news coverage.

I believe we find time for what we like. If something is important enough, we'll carve the time out of our calendars. But writing is hard. It's easier and usually more fun to sit around and talk about the art of writing and discuss plotlines and characters than to actually buckle down and get to work. So we put it off. We say someday. We'll wait until we're inspired. Let me tell you, you get inspired by doing something, not sitting around and thinking about it.

Once we finally realize the value of our time, often for many of us it is too late. While your life might seem like a long time in the midst of it, truly it is a blink of an eye. Before you know it, you'll look back and wonder what happened to all the years that transpired since you first said you were going to write a book.

How important is writing to you. Do you live it and breathe it and imagine conversations between your characters in your head? Can you picture them in your mind and walk down the same fictitious streets they walk?

If so, then don't put it off. Someday you'll be gone and your stories will be gone as well. The voices will be silenced. What a shame. Even if you only take a small step today, stop procrastinating! Write something.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Why Read Christian Fiction by Adrienne Carlson

Dear Friends, I am pleased to have today at Joy in the Journey a guest blogger, Adrienne Carlson, a friend I met on an online writing group. Adrienne writes regularly on the topic of online bible classes and has a passion for Christian Fiction. Read on to find out what she has to say about the appeal of Christian fiction to today's readers.

Why Read Christian Fiction?

If you love books as much as I do, your local library and bookstore are probably going to be your favorite haunts. Books were my favorite companions as I was growing up, and even today, I’d rather read than do anything else. But unfortunately, the pressures of work and other responsibilities leave me with hardly any time to cuddle up with a good book, so when I do get some time to myself, I try to read books that are really worthwhile. While searching for a genre that I enjoyed and one that would enrich me at the same time, I found that Christian fiction suited my needs. So if you’re looking for a reason to read Christian fiction, read on:

· It’s enriching and enjoyable: Not often do you find books that both enthrall you with the story and also have something to offer your soul. Christian fiction packs both these aspects into one and provides you with food for your mind and your soul. You’re able to enjoy a good story as well as learn from the values that the story is peppered with. The best writers are those who are able to weave a story around values, and when this happens, you know you have found a book that’s priceless.

· It appeals to people who are not Christians: Most writers who choose to pen Christian fiction are not fanatic Christians, no matter what people may choose to believe. Rather, they are writers who believe in the Christian faith and because of this, their Christian values seep into the books and stories they author. This draws people, even those who are not Christians to read them, because the stories are good and because the authors have created a name for themselves. Christian fiction is thus a good way to educate non-Christians about the way of Christ and instill in them the values that true Christians cherish and follow.

· It is a good way to spend your free time: You don’t have to be worried about choosing the wrong kind of leisure activities, the ones that are not acceptable if you are a true Christian. With Christian fiction, you are occupied in a way that you enjoy without having to feel guilty about it.

If you’ve never read Christian fiction, it’s time you gave it a try. It’s worth the effort and the time!

Many thanks to Adrienne Carlson for providing this guest blog. Adrienne regularly writes on the topic of online bible college. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: .

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Micro-tension--Hanging on your every word

Micro-tension——the art of building tension or conflict in every scene to make the reader care about what happens at the end of the chapter, the end of the scene or even the end of the sentence to keep them turning pages.

Do you mean I have to make every scene, every page, every stinking word fraught with tension? How in the world am I supposed to do that?

We’ve all read books that fall flat while we are reading, even action thrillers that seem to have no action. How does this happen? What has the author done wrong or is it the reader's own personal taste? Either way, what as writers can we learn from the mistakes of others?

Regardless of what is going on in the scene, there should be tension in the scene to make the reader care about the character and what is going on with him or her. Even if the character is alone in a room, contemplating her next move, the scene should move the story forward. There should be something for the character to gain or lose in this scene.

Ask yourself--Does this scene belong here? Can it be revamped to make it more interesting to the reader? Should it be scrapped or rewritten altogether?

While keeping tension on every page can seem like a daunting task for the writer, it doesn't have to be. We are also readers. In the next book you read for pleasure, examine the book and see what keeps you as the reader turning pages. Why do you care about the situation, the characters?

I once read a book whose author obviously cared a great deal and knew a great deal about art forgeries. The book was not about the art world. One of the book's minor characters worked in a museum. In every scene including this character he discussed how to detect a forgery or a famous piece of art.

I couldn’t have cared less. The book was a mystery that had nothing to do with art. If not for this one character who happened to work in a museum, art never would’ve been mentioned in the book. But because it interested the author, each scene with this character involved art.

It got to the point that every time I saw this character’s name, I skimmed down the page to the end of the scene and then picked the story back up where the author left off.

Those scenes never should’ve been included in the book. If I hadn’t been so interested in the rest of the story, I probably would’ve stopped reading. In fact I can't remember a single thing about that book except how the writer kept taking me out of the story over and over again by telling me about her passion. I have never read another of her books either.

Study a few books that hold your interest all the way to the end. What is it about them that keeps you turning pages? Now go through a few random scenes of you own story as a reader. Is there micro-tension on every page, in every line? Is there something to be gained or lost by the character that will affect the outcome of the scene or the book?

Pack your book with tension. You may find a scene endearing or brilliant, but it will annoy the reader if he senses no tension or conflict. You can alienate readers for future works as well, so keep them turning pages and hanging on your every word.