Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Woman and Her Workplace

Ever wondered...
Why does one coworker become
a best friend while another becomes
a bitter enemy?

Why is the workplace a delight for some
but a drudgery for others?
What are the warning signs for an ungodly
workplace relationship?

A Woman and Her Workplace, published by Beacon Hill Press, helps women consider their part in workplace relationships. Rosemary Flaaten reveals attitudes that wreak havoc in dealing with others at our jobs and shows how to replace these thoughts with strong biblical principles—ultimately transforming your work environment.

For most people, the workplace is their home-away-from-home. We spend most of our waking hours with coworkers and employers. No blood relation, but yet we must build healthy relationships with them if we hope to excel at our work and enjoy our careers. Just like families, our work families are disturbed by dysfunctional issues. Interactions at work are often anything but ideal, let alone godly.

We find someone to vent about the grumpy boss, that arrogant team member, the lazy coworker who gets by doing nothing, and the undermining woman who makes our lives miserable. Yes, it’s easy to blame them for our workplace woes—but it’s better to look inward at what we have control to change.

A Woman and Her Workplace shows how God can perform a deep heart transformation within us so His love flows through us to the people in our workplaces. By delving into the issues that wreak havoc on our workplace relationships, author Rosemary Flaaten provides readers the help they need to develop and apply strong biblical principles of humility, integrity, forgiveness, grace, and celebration in the workplace.

Through discussing relationships such as boss to staff, woman to man, woman to woman, and teamwork, Rosemary guides women to develop healthy interactions in their workplaces. It makes sense to invest some effort into the relationships where we spend the lion’s share of our waking hours. This book isn’t just for women, though. Men find the book gives them insight into how to make the best of their working relationships with the opposite sex in their offices.

Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City
ISBN-10: 0834125234
ISBN-13: 978-0834125230
Released: September 2010
Paperback: 192 pages
Retail: $14.99

Building the Relationship Bridge
Pride Vanquished by Humility
Deception Defeated by Integrity
Anger Diffused by Forgiveness
Judgment Dissolved by Grace
Envy Rejected by Celebration
I'm Part of a Team
I'm the Boss
I'm NOT the Boss
I Work with Him
I Work with Her
Sharing Your Faith

Post a comment and you will be entered to win the GRAND PRIZE from Beacon Hill.
Give your desk a facelift.
Transform your desk and your relationships with---
An autographed copy of
A Woman and Her Workplace
Hard cover journal
40 piece stationary set
Handbag styled refillable note dispenser
Photo frame
Stainless steel travel mug
Mini stapler, pen, pencil and highlighter
Just post a comment here and you are entered to win. What could be easier?

Check out this article by Rosemary Flaaten on Handling Workplace Gossip. The article and the book, A WOMAN AND HER WORKPLACE will give women tools they need to handle all the areas of their lives with grace, integrity, and honor.

ROSEMARY FLAATEN’S successful book, A Woman and Her Relationships helps women process their outside-of-work relationships, so now she’s delving into these 9-5 relationships. She writes from a fully equipped life-experience toolkit. In it we find her varied work experience, a counseling and educational background, and a deep love for God as well as a passion to help others. Her Relationships book won The Word Guild Award, which is Canada's top Christian literary honor. A dynamic speaker—Rosemary challenges women of all professions to view their work as a calling and their workplaces as opportunities to live out Christ’s love. Rosemary lives with her husband and three children in Calgary, Canada.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo--Is it in You?

I did it. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. If you haven't yet, it's not too late. Be warned though, the website is moving slowly tonight. Lots of last minute writers logging in and signing up. Leave it to writers to put off action until the last minute. We are champs at procrastination.

Most Novembers I am already in the middle of one or two projects and can't commit to writing 50K words on anything else. This year found me between contracts and between writing projects, so I thought, "Hey, why not?"

In June '09 my darling husband woke up from a dream and laid out an entire romantic synopsis for me. Most writers have dreamed something that might spark an idea for a book or make a cute scene in a novel, or is just a kick to play around with. But his idea had complete novel potential. Best part, it was a romance, typically not something he thinks about or I write.

That story has nagged at me since last June when I transcribed his recounting into 8 pages of a synopsis. I've made a few changes, expounded on a few characters and sub-plots, and I'm rip-roaring ready to go tomorrow.

If you haven't signed up for NaNoWriMo or don't even know what it is, check out the website. It's not that complicated. Nor is it intimidating if you clear your head, fasten your rear to the chair and let the characters have their way. That's the best thing about NaNo. No plotting if you don't want, no editing--it's absolutely forbidden. How else will you reach your word count?--no stressing over plot points and submission guidelines. The whole point is to see if you can actually bang out 50K words in a month.

My guess is you can. Who's with me? What have you got to lose? You might even find gold.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time stealers

Writer Ben Erlichman shared his addiction to video games on his blog this morning. Actually it's a four-part post you should really check out.

Ben's confessions reminded me of my son. Randy is 26. His excuse for spending hours at Halo and others like it is that he can play with old friends and a cousin on Active Duty he doesn't keep up with any other way. He's even played with TJ Houshmanzada (not going to take the time to look up correct spelling) and Chad Ochocinco--receiver and former receiver for the Cincy Bengals. For an avid sports fan--and even a not-so-interested-in-sports mom, that's pretty sweet.

But in the process of keeping up with friends and making new ones, not to mention the fun he has mastering the games, he doesn't eat right, sleep enuf, or get any exercise. Sound familiar?

Ben's confessions reminded me the same can be said about any other addiction or pursuit that steals our time and keeps us from doing the things that will bring us closer to reaching our goals. Many of us would never allow video games to come between us and our writing time. Or TV or the telephone or other things we consider time wasters.

And not everything that keeps us from writing is a time waster per se. Housework must be done. The family needs to eat. We have to shop for the food to prepare. Then there are familial commitments, work, friends--the list goes on and on.

Even if we don't think we have any unhealthy addictions in our lives, we can use those necessary chores as excuses why we don't accomplish more. I appreciate Ben's honesty in sharing his addiction to video games with us this morning. May we be as honest in examining our own lives and the things we allow to separate us from our goals.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Time Tips for Writers by Karina Fabian

Yesterday Karina Fabian was here to tell us about her new book WHY GOD MATTERS. Today she is back to offer some encouragement for writers on how to manage our time. Welcome back, Karina. Take it away.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, "How do you find time to write?"

I've been writing steadily since since my daughter was about a year old--14 years--when I was an Air Force Reservist and mother of two. At that time, I wrote a couple of short stories and two articles a month for the Wyoming Catholic Register. Over the next 14 years, we'd have two more children, move five times and build a basement ourselves. My husband, now a Colonel in the Air Force, often has jobs of long hours and big commutes, plus short-stint TDYs (away from home, but not deployments). In addition, I have homeschooled my kids, helped found the Catholic Writers Guild (of which I've been an officer for 4 years), coordinated four writers' conferences, and started Kickstart Marketing, a service to teach authors to market their books.
However, in those 14 years, I have written for local newspapers and national magazines, edited three anthologies, wrote six novels and one devotional and have written various short stories.

Writing can be done. Here are some of the tricks and attitudes I've used to make it happen:

1. Set realistic goals: In Colorado, my mother was able to watch my kids, and we needed extra income, so my goal was to work part time reporting, and I got a regular job at the local weekly and did some freelancing on the side. Later, we moved and I started homeschooling, with two first graders, a toddler, and a baby, I made myself one promise: Not to go to bed unless I wrote one sentence on my novel. Naturally, there were times that one sentence led to more, but I always wrote at least one. I finished my first novel that year. (Mind Over Mind is under contract with Dragon Moon.) My last book, Why God Matters, was written with my father, Deacon Steve Lumbert, took six weeks--including several intense evenings of e-mailing each other stories and discussing them over IM.

Some people like to set time goals; others quantity goals. You know what works best for you. The key is to make the goal something you can reach. You feel good about succeeding, and when you surpass it, you feel even better!

2. Make time! You will never "find" time to write, especially if you have a busy life. If writing is important to you, you need to carve some time out of your day (or week) to dedicate to it. Get up early one morning; stay up late at night. Give up TV or XBox in favor of time at the computer over the weekend.

3. Isolate yourself electronically. Do not open your internet browser. Do not check e-mail. Turn off your IM. If you're planning on a long stretch of writing, set a timer and give yourself 10 minutes of internet for every 30 minutes of writing, if it drives you crazy.

4. Cut distractions. The enemy of writers--especially mom-writers--is the house. The dishes call to you. The fridge tempts. Suddenly, that unmapped floor is weighing on your mind. Resist! Writing time is for writing. If you must, leave the house and write with a laptop or pen and paper until you get into the habit of concentrating on writing.

5. Get help. If you really are overwhelmed by things that you have no time for writing, then it's time to say no to requests, delegate tasks to family, or get someone to give you the break you need to take time for writing. Even if writing is a hobby, you deserve some time just for you.

Finally, I want to suggest time most important tip: Stupid First Drafts. Sometimes, the problem is not finding time, but finding courage. Words won't come because we can't figure out how to write them perfectly on the page. Give yourself permission to write schlock. Tell yourself, "Get it out, fast and messy. I can't make it perfect until it's on the page."

Now, quit reading this blog post and go write something!

For more information about Karina, her books, and writing in general, check out her blog.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why God Matters

Do you feel distant from God? Do you want a closer relationship with him? God is with us always, sometimes in ways we don't even realize. Deacon Steve Lumbert and his daughter Karina Fabian share their stories of how God led them from casual belief to deep devotion, and offer tips and exercises to help you see God's hand--and take it.

Far too often, we expect God to show Himself in grand ways yet ignore when He makes His presence known in the day to day. Neither Deacon Steve nor Karina had dramatic conversions. Rather, God led them into deeper faith through the seemingly minor details of life: pot of rice, a habit of prayer, a frustrating flight home, or a barefooted stranger. This father-daughter team have written a delightful, quick book about finding God in the day-to-day. With thought-provoking quotes, heartwarming stories, Bible verses, passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and simple exercises the reader can fit into his or her daily routine, they help others recognize God's presence. Great for the casual or converting Catholic longing for something more in their relationship with God, or the "advanced" Catholic wanting light spiritual exercise.


Deacon Steve Lumbert officially converted to Catholicism in 1988, but had been a "practicing" Catholic long before that. He met his lovely and loving wife, Socorro, while sercing in Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Puerto Rico in 1966. They raised their daughters, Karina and Regina, in the faith. Steve spent 30 years as a Colorado State Trooper, but retired when God called him to the diaconate. Currently, he serves the Diocese of Pueblo as Associate Director of Deacon Formation.

Karina Lumbert Fabian was born into the Catholic faith, but truly grew to love it as an adult. A busy mother of four, she finds her strongest encounters with God's love happen in the ordinary events of the day-to-day. Karina started her writing career with diocesan newspapers but has settled into writing fun-filled fantasy and science fiction that nonetheless incorporates the principles of faith-filled living.


The writing team of Deacon Steve Lumbert and Karina Lumbert Fabian only began with Why God Matters, but the father-daughter team has been running strong for over 40 years. Steve is a former Colorado State Trooper and Associate Director of Deacon Formation. Karina gave up an career as an Air Force Officer to have children and write books, stories and articles. Both came to love the Catholic faith in different ways--Karina being born into it; Steve as a convert. While they've not collaborated much on writing, they have created many things together, from costumes for Karina's high school plays to basements.

Click here to view book trailer

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Click for information about the book, including purchase link
Check out Karina Fabian's website with news, her books, and extended bio, link to her blog and more.


Publisher: Tribute Books,
ISBN: ISBN 9780982256534
Cost: $15.95 Hardback, $4.95 e-book
Click here for an Autographed Book Plate.


Click on publisher to purchase.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yesterday's Promise by Delia Latham

Please join me in welcoming Delia Latham to Joy in the Journey. Delia's new book, Yesterday's Promise was released in March. To celebrate Delia has allowed me to be one of her stops along her virtual book tour. I just finished the book and loved it. I think you will too. Don't just take my word for it. Here is what others are saying about Delia's latest offering.

Quite a delightful tale. I enjoyed the struggle between Hannah's worry of right and wrong, and how ultimately her faith brings the answers she seeks. Brock and Hannah are endearing characters who will have you on their side immediately. I love an inspirational romance and I loved this story. Well done, Ms Latham.
~ Wendy, Coffee Time Romance, 4-Cup Rating

A story of loyalty, devotion and enduring love. Ms. Latham shows that as one trusts in God, miracles can sometimes happen. Yesterday’s Promise is a charming read. Once I started reading, I didn't wish to stop until I learned the fate of Brock and Hannah.

~ Linda, Lighthouse Literary Reviews, 4-Beacon Rating

Read my interview with Delia. Post a comment and you will be entered to win a $10 gift certificate from Wild Rose Publishing.

Yesterday's Promise

A whirlwind romance amidst the natural splendor of Yosemite
National Park. A spur-of-the-moment wedding. A young
bride who awakens the morning after to find her new husband
gone with the mountain wind.

Songbird Hannah Johns supports the child born of that ill fated
union by singing in a dinner lounge. Her dream of
someday owning the elite establishment and turning it into a
venue more suited to her Christian values is shattered when
an unexpected transaction places it in the hands of Brock
Ellis, the handsome biker who abandoned her in their honeymoon

Ensuing sparks fly high, revealing buried secrets and
forgotten pasts. Seeking to find peace with her painful past,
Hannah returns to Yosemite, only to have Brock show up
hard on her heels. Back where it all began, she finds herself
in danger of losing her heart yet again to the man who shattered
it the first time around.

First off, thank you, Delia, for including me in your blog tour for Yesterday's Promise. I absolutely loved the story. The first thing I noticed as I'm sure many readers will as well, is the title change. I have a hard time coming up with one title for a book. You managed two really good ones. But why the change?

Thank you for allowing me to hang out at Joy in the Journey for awhile! I’m so glad you enjoyed Yesterday’s Promise. I changed the title because the original book is still all over the web, under the original publisher’s name. I didn’t want any confusion about that.

Your idea or the publisher's?

Mine. And now I’m really glad I did it. The original book included several pieces of lyrics from well-known songs. In fact, the opening line was from Ronnie Milsap’s song, “It Was Almost Like a Song,” which is where I came up with the original title, Almost Like a Song. By the time I finished making the new edits for White Rose Publishing, all the lyrics were gone and the old title wasn’t really relevant any more. Yesterday’s Promise actually sums up the story perfectly.

Was there an ah-ha moment when you got the idea for this story, or had it been nagging at you for years?

Nope. No nagging, just ah-ha. J I was well into writing Goldeneyes (my 2008 release from Vintage Romance Publishing), and I came up against a massive, seemingly insurmountable wall. I simply couldn’t write that book, and I was despairing of ever finishing the story. One day, while surfing the net trying to find some elusive inspiration, I came across an advertisement for National Novel Writers Month (Nanowrimo). For those who might not be familiar with it, it’s an annual event in which writers are encouraged to come up with a minimum of 50,000 words—either a novel, or that far into a longer one. I decided on the spur of the moment to do it. That was somewhere in the last week of October. So on November 1, 2005, I laid aside my work-in-progress, pulled up a blank document in my Word program, and just started writing. No outline. No storyline. No plan. Just me and God. Thirty days later, I had the skeleton of what would become Yesterday’s Promise. (For the record, when I returned to Goldeneyes, God gave me the release and the inspiration to finish it. All in His timing… J)

I loved Hannah's boss, Kip Caveness. Was he based on a real life character in your life?

He looked a bit like my grandfather, but other than that…no. He just kind of appeared in my book and charmed his way into Hannah’s heart and mine.

Without giving much of the story away, I also loved Hannah's idea of what she would do with the dinner lounge if it ever became hers. Is that a secret dream of yours? Or a not so secret dream?

I would love to have a place like that! I’ve even considered trying to set up a similar spot with used/recycled books. Someday…

Were you one of those people who always had a story inside you or did the whole writing thing take you by surprise?

I think I always did, I just didn’t have enough confidence to try it. I’d been writing since I was old enough to figure out what pencils were for—little stories, songs, poems…a little bit of everything. I eventually became a newspaper staff writer, which led to freelancing articles to a local regional magazine. All that time, I planned to write a novel, “someday.” I had actually promised my aunt-by-marriage, Rita Dawson, that I would write a book. She was my pastor’s wife while I was growing up and my Bible teacher and speech coach in high school (I attended a private Christian school from 5th grade up). An incredibly talented woman. She wrote, she sang, she preached, and was just a character. Very funny. Not someone you’d ever forget. She kept at me about writing, and I promised her that someday I’d do it. I’d write a novel. She didn’t live to see it, but Yesterday’s Promise is dedicated to her memory.

I know your time is valuable, but could you give us a quick peek into your journey to publication?

My first publishing experience (2006) was not exactly positive. I won’t go into a lot of detail, other than to say I was so excited at being offered a contract that I didn’t bother to research the publisher. That said, that publisher delivered exactly what they promised in their contract. I was just too “green” to understand that it wasn’t much. And the experience was good for me in some ways, because I learned a lot about marketing a book. I had to, if I wanted anyone to hear about mine! It was through that process that I gained a little bit of name recognition, established a web presence, etc. And I was able to reclaim my rights a couple years into the contract. Then came the sudden awful awareness that selling a reprint was not going to be easy. Not a lot of publishers are willing to even consider a book that’s already been published by someone else. It was during that time that I met Dawn Carrington, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vintage Romance Publishing, where I found a home for Goldeneyes in 2008. It wasn’t until last year that I finally had the heart to start actively seeking another publisher for that first book. I’m so grateful to White Rose Publishing for being willing to consider my reprint, and to accept it for publication as an e-novel.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write. Every day. Experience is still the best teacher…but not the only one. Take advantage of every educational and networking opportunity that presents itself.

Besides writing, can you tell us your dream job?

Now we’re back to what Hannah wanted to do with the lounge… J

We've read a thousand times about how writers spend their writing time. Can you tell us how you spend your time when you are not writing?

I’m a full-time secretary, so that takes up eight hours a day, five days a week. Plus, I design marketing products for other authors—which most often means bookmarks. Some of my work can be seen at

Summer's coming. If you could take a vacation anyplace in the world, where would it be?

Ireland and/or New Zealand. The first because I’d like to see the land of my ancestors, and the second because—don’t laugh—the setting for The Shire in Lord of the Rings was so incredible. I’d love to actually stand in the midst of all that beauty.

Are you working on something right now? If so, can we have the inside scoop?

I’m working on a series based around a Christian dating agency called Solomon’s Gate. The first book is finished, and I’m deep into the second. Now to find a home for them… J

Delia, I wish you all success with Yesterday's Promise. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to read it and to share a little about you with my readers. Is there anything else we should know about Delia Latham?

Only that I sincerely want my writing to be an inspiration—to uplift, encourage and entertain Christian readerse. And I love to hear from my readers. I can be contacted through my website or blog.

How can readers get their hands on Yesterday's Promise?

It’s available in e-format only, and can be purchased through or my publisher, White Rose Publishing.

Can we follow you on Facebook or any of the other networking sites out there?

Absolutely! Facebook and Twitter are probably the most easily accessed.

Any parting thoughts you would like to share?

Just a huge thank you to you, Teresa, for inviting me to stop in at your blog! I’ve enjoyed “chatting” with you, as always, and I look forward to visiting with your readers.

Delia Latham is a born-and-bred California gal who transplanted to Oklahoma in 2008 with her husband, Johnny. Her children and grandbabies are the spice in her life. A wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Delia considers her most important kinship that of child of the King and heir to the throne of God. A former newspaper Staff Writer, Delia also frequently contributed to Bakersfield Magazine—a bi-monthly regional—prior to her move to Oklahoma. Her editing skills have been utilized by numerous authors, including Dr. Chuck Wall, founder of the Random Acts of Kindness movement. She is a member of ACFW and WIN-ACFW (Tulsa branch). Her historical romance novel, Goldeneyes, was released in March 2008 by Vintage Romance Publishing.

Don't forget to post a comment and you could win a $10 gift certificate and maybe a surprise gift as well...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Writing exercises to get your fingers moving

Missing in action lately with job training and all the other things that distract a writer from actually writing. Tomorrow I leave for another week of training so more time away from my desk. But I am psyched and anxious to make the most of today and what moments I can steal away to write over the next few weeks.

I spent the weekend at beautiful Greenbo Lake State Park near Ashland, KY for the 5th annual KYOWA Dogwood Writers' Conference. Wonderful staff, lovely people, and fun writing exercises that inspired even an old dog like me. My workshop, "Breaking into the Inspirational Fiction Market" was well received, but I got a lot more out of the trip than what I gave.

For me, inspiration and motivation are best reasons to attend a conference. Teaching is great, but I need the burst of creativity you get from a room full of people as excited about writing as you are.

Monday morning, and I am ready to use the fuel from that fire to spur me to action. I have two new writing projects in mind as well as motivation to get my current project ready to send my agent in a few weeks.

You don't have to go to a conference to get inspired. Several of the writing exercises proved you can find inspiration anywhere. We played with storyboards which you can create at home out of old magazines. Clip pictures or sayings that remind you of your story and post them around your writing area. I never thought that sort of thing would help me, but I was proven wrong once again. Create two completely new characters and have them meet. You may never use what you come up with, but the exercise might help get you over a hump in your current project.

But the best exercise by far for any writer is to put your rear in the chair and get those fingers moving. This habit may take some time to incorporate into your routine, but the benefits are immeasurable.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

To celebrate the release of A Distant Melody, Book 1 in Sarah Sundin’s exciting Wings of Glory series, we’re offering one Grand Prize winner the chance to get nostalgic! A Distant Melody is in stores now. You don't want to miss this book. I couldn't put it down. I know you are going to love it as much as I did.

The Winner of our ‘NETFLIX® & Nostalgia’ giveaway will receive a vintage prize package, including:

*A 6 month NETFLIX® subscription
*$25 Starbucks® gift card
*A box of See’s Famous Old Time Chocolates®
*A jar of homemade strawberry jam
*A Big Band music CD
*A Mini B-17 Model airplane
*Vintage stationery and pen
*British specialty tea
*WWII style playing cards

To enter just click on the icon above! Contest will be live April 5th and run through April 25th!

About A Distant Melody:

Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart? A Distant Melody is the first book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.

Sarah Sundin In Sarah's words:

Although I come from a home wallpapered in books, I only briefly envisioned myself as a writer, when my sister and I co-wrote Funny Dancing Fruits and Vegetables complete with crayon illustrations.

Then I discovered science. I loved learning about the intricacies of God's creation, so I studied chemistry in college, and then got my doctorate in pharmacy—not a typical career path for a writer.

In pharmacy school, I met my husband, Dave. We settled in northern California and were blessed by three bright, funny children—Stephen, Anna, and Matthew. Then on January 6, 2000, I woke from a dream so intriguing I had to write it down. I proceeded to write a really bad 750-page contemporary Christian romance. Burn-it-when-I-die bad. But the Lord used it to call me into writing. I joined a critique group, attended writers' conferences, and joined American Christian Fiction Writers. These all taught me about the craft of writing and the publishing industry, and introduced me to writers, editors, and agents.

I first submitted the manuscript for A Distant Melody in 2003, and over the next five years I accumulated a pile of "good" rejection letters from editors and agents. Finally in 2008, a submission at Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference led to my first sale.

Between writing and driving kids to soccer and karate, I work one evening a week as a hospital pharmacist, teach Sunday school to fourth- and fifth-graders, and teach women's Bible studies. I enjoy speaking to women's groups and am available to speak on several topics. To learn more visit Sarah's blog, and if you are a history buff, don't miss her great blog!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bring Forth Fruit with Patience

If you've been in this writing business more than five minutes you know how much work it is. As if writing a book that might appeal to someone other than your mother isn't hard enough, it's a million times harder to attract the attention of a publisher. You may have seen the cartoon of the skeleton leaning against the mailbox waiting for a reply on a submission. Nothing is more frustrating than working hard on something the rest of the world dreams of doing, yet receiving no recognition.

I have fallen into this trap many times myself. It's difficult to keep writing when it doesn't seem like anything is happening in our careers. We ask ourselves what's the point in working so hard if I'm never going to get published.

What we need just as much as discipline and grit and vision to see our book to the end is patience. Most of us know going in the journey won't be easy. But we still want it now. I have a fantasy in my head of how the process should go.

Today my agent Terry Burns will call me and say one of the Christian publishing giants has read my latest submission and is putting it on their winter calendar. But they don't just want this one, which is sheer brilliance by the way. They want four more. A contract is in the mail, along with a hefty advance. Eight months from now after the first release, followed in rapid succession by 4 more, my name is on every bestseller list in the country and every set of lips in the reading world.

Alas, it seldom happens this way. It may seem so to the ones watching from the sidelines. Our counterparts receive multi-book contracts and we wonder why it came so easily for them. When is it our turn?

Luke 8:15 says: But that on good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Note all the action words in that passage. So much of the time Christian writers believe that since God has given them a story to tell, a message to encourage and equip the masses, that he will do all the work.

God will help and provide sustenance for the journey, but He won't do our work for us. First they heard the word. Are you studying and growing in your craft? What actions have you taken in the last month to become a better writer? What groups do you belong to that make you grow as a writer and hold you accountable for improving what you do?

Secondly, they kept the word. Have you been so discouraged lately that you slacked off in your writing time? Do you find other things to do because it isn't likely you'll get a contract anyway so what's the point in plugging along? Have you lost your desire to write and almost look for distractions to keep you from doing it? Do you lack discipline and focus in your career?

Lastly, those who sowed in good ground brought forth fruit with patience. To bring forth anything requires an act on our part. To bring it forth with patience adds another element to the task.

God will reward our diligence as long as we continue to fight toward the prize without stamping our feet and demanding things our way. Yes, it takes patience, and yes, it's hard. Instead of blaming the publishing industry for our lack of success---or the electronic addicted public or the economy or the powers that be who don't understand our vision---we need to take a good hard look at what we are doing to bring our dreams to reality.

Are we working diligently with patience to perfect our craft? Do we continually strive to grow and learn and accept criticism? Do we apply the knowledge we've acquired to make our manuscripts shine? Do we study the markets to see what will attract a publisher's attention, or do we just gripe that no one appreciates our efforts.

Bring forth fruit with patience.

Most anyone who has taken the time to write a chapter or a page or even a sentence believes in his story. He believes in its value and its merit and can't rest until the story is told. We exercise patience in writing our book. Let's exercise that same patience in finding a publisher. It's an action. No one is going to do it for us. It's won't be easy, but it will be worth the effort.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writing for an invisible audience

I sent congrats to a writer friend this morning about an award she had won. Her success made me think of how writers so often wonder if anyone is out there, paying attention to what we do. We put our heart and soul into every keystroke. Then when it's not going well or the words just won't come or we get another rejection, we wonder if there is any point in continuing.

Thomas Hardy wrote after a particularly scathing review of Tess of the D'urbervilles, "If this continues, no more writing for me. A man must be a fool to stand and be shot at."

I know how poor Tom felt, on a much smaller scale of course. Even before the bad reviews come--and they will come--we feel shot at nearly every time we sit down to write. Or when we browse bookshelves and compare our writing to that of those who consistently sell hundreds of thousands of copies every year. Or when we receive yet another rejection.

This business is not for the faint of heart. It can be discouraging on the best of days. Even after we begin selling consistently we never fully know how many readers are out there, how many responded to the message we fought to achieve in our books, or if anyone will remember our story once the book is closed.

Yet we continue to expose ourselves to the disappointment, the rejection, the fear. To be shot at. We are writers and we cannot still the voices in our heads any other way but by bleeding the words onto the page day after day. Our first goal in everything we do should be to please God through the individual gifts he's given us. But crafting an excellent story, striving for each sentence to be better than the last, is what we do to legitimately call ourselves writers.

Awards and accolades are nice. Great reviews and letters from satisfied readers make our day. But we must write to satisfy that mysterious part deep inside of us that knows when it's going well and accepts when it isn't. Don't stop, even when it hurts. Even when no one is reading. Even when no one gets you. Write. Grow in the craft.

As in life, accept your awards when they come and keep striving for perfection.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Spread the word about your Writing Life

This morning on The Writing Life, Terry Whalin's post was entitled, Publishers Cringe at this Question. Well, I cringed at the following segment.

From Terry: "Often authors feel powerless when in reality they have lots of power which they are not using...Who have you told about your book in the last month? the last week? the last day? How are you telling them? Are you using an electronic newsletter? Are you using a blog? Are you using social media like Twitter and Facebook? Are you involved in online groups and telling people about your book in the signature of your email? Are you using direct mail such as postcards or printed pieces such as bookmarks? Are you speaking about the topic of your book? Are you doing radio interviews and readings at bookstores...What are you doing to stir those multiple presentations about the benefits and value of your book?"

Before I ever began submitting for publication, I knew a lot of marketing work fell on the writer's shoulders. Is it my imagination or has that workload just gotten heavier. Thanks, Terry.

But he is right. Besides writing a fabulous book readers can't put down, the writer's responsibility for success continues to grow.

Today is Monday--the day we roll up our sleeves and hit it hard. If something in the above statement didn't light a fire under you about all the things you should be doing to bring attention to your writing, please reread. Better yet, follow the link to The Writing Life and read Terry's entire post.

Then get to work. Does your website need updated? When did you last send a newsletter? Have you commented on other writing blogs today? Have you guest hosted in the last month? Have you handed out bookmarks to your church group, library, or bookstore? Do 5 marketing tasks this week, regardless of where you are in your publishing journey. Just because you don't have a new book to tout, doesn't mean you shouldn't stay in front of readers.

And don't forget to write something.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Leaving Hurryville

Leaving Hurryville
(Comments From a Former Resident)
by Frankie D. Sherman

A big concern of Christian women is the epidemic of shallow relationships among women. In an age when broken marriages, moral decline, and unbelievable heartache are frighteningly high, our God-given support system is lacking.

What happened? Why do we know more people than ever before, yet know very little about each other? Why do we know more about the latest celebrity break-up, yet very little about the young woman in our church going through her own divorce?

Unfortunately, we live in Hurryville. Hurry and get the kids to school. Hurry and get to work. Hurry to Bible study. Hurry to the ball field. Hurry! Girl Hurry! In this “hurry up, see you later” world we don’t take the time to invest in relationships like the generations before us did. Our busy lives leave very little time to invest in meaningful relationships.

Because of this, we are suffering. We miss wonderful opportunities to reach others for Christ and to strengthen others in the body of Christ.

How about you and I change the busyness in our circle of influence by adjusting our schedules and priorities? We can start right now to focus on the relationships in our circle of influence as the nurturing women God designed us to be.

Becoming a better friend is something believers should focus on, because it can impact the world for the Christ.

So where do we begin?

Leave Hurryville-without a forwarding address! It’s a choice and a hard one. But God is faithful and he will help you with this lifestyle change.
Pray, and read God Word.
Schedule time with friends; ask them how they are and what’s up in their life.
Engage in meaningful conversation about them and how the Lord is working in their lives.
Leave the cell phone turned off during your time together.
Share good books, good tips, good information and good food.
If your friend is a single mom, widow, health issue, or has problems at home, always be sensitive to her needs or situation. You are not “the solution” but you can show her you care through your friendship. God will provide the wisdom concerning boundaries and blessings.

I left Hurryville, many years ago. Sometimes my old nature tries to pull me back. But I learned the value of meaningful friendships and Hurryville doesn’t compare. Should you decide to leave Hurryville too, let me know. We can sit on the porch and enjoy chat together.


About the author:
Frankie Sherman is a national speaker, comedian, and Bible teacher for conferences, retreats, and women's events. She fell in love with Jesus at Vacation Bible School and takes every opportunity to tell others about the joy of being alive in Christ. She is a former choreographer for the Georgia Peach Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl Halftime Show. Her specialty is in theater musical/productions. Her first Bible Study, Why We Need Girlfriends is based on the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth, from Luke's gospel. Two women brought together by extraordinary circumstances by an extraordinary God. Frankie is from South Carolina—loves sweet tea, BIG hair and her grand-girls. She believes there will never be another Elvis. And knows that her Jesus will return for her soon.

Now Securing Interviews and Reviews
Kathy Carlton Willis Communications – or

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Marathon, not a Sprint

I sometimes wonder if writing is the easiest business in which to get discouraged. My husband seldom comes home from work with his head hanging low and says something like, "I didn't have a very good day on my press."

Growing up, my dad never came in and said, "I couldn't get inspired to operate the backhoe today. I don't know if I'm cut out for this line of work."

If my husband scraps a few jobs on his press or Dad didn't reach his mile quota on a highway job, both hit hard the next day. They never considered another line of work. They have families to feed and bills to pay and things need to be done regardless of bad days or low production or lack of motivation.

Why are writers one of the few groups of workers in the world who have the option to work or not work based on the above?

There are many things about the writing life that are discouraging. Sometimes, regardless of how good you are, publishers ignore you to buy works from better known, less talented writers. Sometimes, regardless of research, solid idea and multi-faceted characters you've created, the words won't come. Sometimes, even your biggest supporters wonder if you'd be better off to chuck it all and get into something that actually earns a paycheck.

Writing isn't easy. Getting published is harder by about a thousand times. If it was, everybody would do it. And then what would your contract be worth? While you're waiting for that blessed moment, take time to learn and practice the craft, polish your skills, open yourself and your writing to critiques. We must do these steps throughout our careers. Doctors never stop attending conferences and studying and learning the latest techniques and break-throughs. Why do writers?

Don't forget the importance of attending conferences, pitching your book idea, and finding editors and agents who are interested. They may not buy your book this go round, but you'll grow and get closer to your goal. There are no short cuts.

Face it folks, just like maintaining a healthy weight, writing is a marathon not a sprint. In the meantime, enjoy the process. Write what you love. Give your characters a voice. Share it where and when you can. Don't overlook the smaller markets. Study magazine guidelines. They can provide a nice supplemental income while you're awaiting that lucrative book contract.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Make them Suffer

While preparing for my workshop--You Can Write a Novel--to be presented Saturday, Feb. 27th at the Greater Harvest Workshops in the Cincinnati/Dayton area tomorrow, I came across this great quote by Alfred Hitchcock.

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”

While Al was speaking more of moviegoers, the sentiment can easily be applied to writing. I love quotes. I love using them in teaching and using them to inspire myself. And this one is a gem.

"Always make them suffer." This is every writer's purpose. Build an emotional attachment between the reader and the character, put the reader into the situation, and create extreme nervous anxiety that stretches the reader to the very limit of endurance. Make them suffer.

Isn't that when you know you just read a good book? When you, as a reader, became part of the action. When you felt like you had something to lose. Even with romances, YA, or picture books, pull your reader in. They should experience whatever the character experiences. Whether romance or danger or the exhilaration of buying the perfect dress at 80% off.

My challenge to you today is to open your current WIP at random. Any page. Open and start reading. Is there tension on that page? Does it capture your imagination? Do you want to learn more about the character and the situation just by reading that one small excerpt? Is it enough to keep you reading? If not, raise the stakes.

Happy writing and make them suffer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fruitful in all Good Works

We all work with a goal or purpose in mind. For most of us, our goal is financial gain. We put in our 40 hours to earn a paycheck at the end of the week. Those fortunate among us work because we love what we do, we believe we are called to fulfill a ministry. We look forward to Mondays and think about our jobs when we're not there. But even those workers couldn't do what they do for long without financial reward.

Hopefully money isn't your only motivation for what you do. For the last few weeks my pastor has preached a series on the Fruits of the Spirit. Regardless of how we spend our days, our goal is to bear fruit. Whether that fruit is a paycheck or healthy, well-grounded children or trimmed hedges, we work to achieve a desired outcome. We even sleep to achieve a result--rest.

This week's sermon was on longsuffering. I don't need to tell you most people don't want to suffer, especially for any length of time. But that's where many of us find ourselves. You could say that's where I am in my writing career. I have been without a book contract for over a year...a very long year. Like many stuck in a career rut, I sometimes wonder what I am working for. If no one is buying, why bother killing myself to put words on the page?

The answer of course is to bear fruit. Fruit doesn't grow before it's season. The soil must be prepared. the seed sown, a period of wind, rain, and sunshine, and then growth. Finally the fruit is ripe and ready to be enjoyed.

My thoughts inspired by the pastor's sermons: My goal is to bear fruit. Christ must dwell in my heart, rooted and grounded in love. The power to bear fruit comes from the source, not the individual branch.

John 15:11-16 Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you, that ye should bring forth fruit.

Heavenly Father, help me to be fruitful in all good works. Let me not be discouraged by outward appearances; by the economy or rejection or frustration when things take too long or don't go the way I want. Let me continue to look to You from where true blessings flow and remember all the good works you have already wrought in me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Advice for Writers from Mitch Albom

This weekend I am teaching a workshop at the Greater Harvest Workshops in the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio area. If you haven’t registered, do it now before prices go up the 25th. Regardless of your writing level or experience, you will find a workshop to benefit you on your journey. My workshop is called YOU CAN WRITE A NOVEL. One of the best ways for preparing to teach a workshop—besides practicing what I preach of course—is to read what other writers have to say about getting the job done.

A while back I found an interview with Mitch Albom in Writer’s Digest. In case you don’t know, Albom is the fellow who wrote Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Albom seems to utilize a practical, no nonsense approach to writing that appeals to me. It doesn’t hurt that he’s very successful at what he does. They say the best way to learn something is to study those who have mastered what you want to do.

Here is an excerpt from the interview.


Don’t think that one audience isn’t as worthy as another. You have to treat all readers of all genres and formats the same. If you don’t take each format seriously, people may just walk out on you after a couple paragraphs. But if you find the essence of the story, the reader will ask that essential question: “What happens next?” If you can get them to do that, it doesn’t really matter where you’re writing.


Writing a novel for the first time was the biggest challenge. Until The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I had always dealt with the truth and the facts. As a result I’d been both limited by it and able to relax in it.


Writers and publishers tend to make more of fiction and nonfiction, memoir versus novel, than the average reader does. Most people just want to read a book. If you have a good story, people want to turn the p ages whether it’s a memoir or a novel.

What I gather from Albom’s advice is to take your writing seriously, regardless of your genre. Don’t write what’s in the moment or what you think is selling well. By the time you finish your manuscript tastes would’ve changed and you will be out of date.

Focus on the story. Story is king, was once said by someone great and prolific. Regardless of what you write—memoir, how-to, or cozy mystery—people want a good story that will hold their interest, at least until the end of the book. Give it to them, or risk losing them forever.

Hope to see you at Greater Harvest. Whether you are interested in writing devotionals, articles, or the Great American Novel, or you have an idea for a project but aren't exactly sure how to get started, the workshops will inspire and instruct, motivate and equip. Register now!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Greater Harvest Workshops--Register Now

Subfreezing temps, mountains of snow, and being housebound for two solid months can really get the creative juices flowing. I've written two short stories and gotten down to business with a nearly finished novel since the first of the year. With the snow falling and piling up against the front door, there's little else I can do besides write.

Do these situations inspire other writers to think of secluded houses with at least one resident wacko, ghost, serial killer or surly mother-in-law? Or is it just me? There isn't much else to do this time of year. No flowerbeds calling to me. No grass to mow or leaves to rake or vegetables to put into the ground. It's just me and my muse. And my muse is the snow.

Today the sun warmed a patch on my bedroom carpet for the dog to lie in. Does this mean Spring is coming and my muse will soon abandon me? Since I don't put a lot of stock in muses and good luck charms and strokes of inspiration, I need to buckle down and write, regardless of conditions with out or distractions with in.

Next weekend I am presenting a workshop, YOU CAN WRITE A NOVEL, for the Greater Harvest Workshops. If you are an aspiring or experienced writer, or are just toying with the idea of putting pen to paper, these reasonably priced workshops may be just what you're looking for. Join us at the
Healing Word Assembly of God
5303 Dixie Highway
Franklin, OH 45005

Greater Harvest Workshops are designed to move you closer to your goal of becoming a working writer and published author. Taught by authors and speakers, Donna J. Shepherd and Linore Rose Burkard along with guest presenters, these workshops, along with hands-on training, will motivate you to step up to the next level!

8:30-9:00 - Registration
9:00-9:20 – Opening Session
9:30-10:30- Workshop #1
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45-11:45 - Workshop #2
11:45-12:00 – Snack Time
12:00-1:00 - Workshop #3
1:00-1:20 – Closing Session

Register now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jim Shepard On Writing

I recently reread an article I had saved from a copy of O magazine. The article was by Jim Shepard and was On Writing of course. Why else would I reread it, or have saved it in the first place.

I often need a little nudging in my writing life, especially on Mondays and lately when I am not under contract with a publisher and don’t feel a particular urgency to put something on paper. But I’m a writer, I remind myself. Writers write. They produce, even if no one has asked for it. Writers can’t NOT write. I think those who can—NOT write that is—aren’t true writers. But that’s just me, and I'm nothing if not opinionated.

Jim had a lot to say about writing. I love reading the words of these prolific and amazingly more-successful-than-me-writers. I often understand just where they’re coming from, having dug myself out of the same pit more than a time or two.

Jim said: When writing is going well, it's hard, and for most of us, most of the time it's not going all that well. When students ask, "When did you know you might be a writer? How did you know?," one of the things I tell them is that they may be designed for that life if (a) they need to do it in order to feel good about themselves, even though (b) doing it almost never makes them feel good about themselves.

A hearty Amen to that. Writing is something I can’t get away from. Lately I’ve thought about getting a job outside the home. My motivations are purely economical, you understand. But a big part of me wonders if non-writers realize how easy they have it. They put in their eight to ten hours, or whatever, draw a real paycheck that is pretty close to the amount they earned last week, go home and gripe about how they are taken for granted.

What they don’t do is argue with voices in their heads, try to come up with blog topics that will prove both helpful and interesting to readers, beg interviewers to invite them on their show when they know only about 16 people are listening, line up speaking engagements, try to make their family understand they are actually writing and not just goofing off even though the kid down the street who mows grass and delivers newspapers got back a more impressive W-2, while managing to feel like they accomplished something at the end of the week.

This writing life is tough. While I might find myself out in the working world again in 2010, I will continue to strive to earn a living through writing. While writing makes me feel good about myself and like I am fulfilling the reason I was put on this earth, it also makes me feel inept, pitiful, overwhelmed, and frustrated.

I am relieved to know other writers—every writer I ever met in fact-—feels the same way. William Styron said (or wrote, I'm not sure which): I certainly don’t enjoy writing. I get a fine warm feeling when I’m doing well, but that pleasure is pretty much negated by the pain of getting started each day. Let’s face it——writing is he@@.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate

Kai Miller floats through life like driftwood tossed by waves. She's never put down roots in any one place--and she doesn't plan to. But when a chaotic hurricane evacuation lands her in Daily, Texas, she begins to think twice about her wayfaring existence. And when she meets hometown-boy Kemp Eldridge, she can almost picture settling down in Daily--until she discovers he may be promised to someone else. Daily has always been a place of refuge for those the wind blows in, but for Kai, it looks like it will be just another place to leave behind. Then again, Daily always has a few surprises in store--especially when Aunt Donetta has cooked up a scheme.

Interview Questions:

1. How did you develop the initial story idea/plot line for this book?

Some book ideas you search for, and some just blow in on the wind. For the past several years, dating back to Hurricane Katrina, we in Central Texas have been the recipients of massive hurricane evacuations. These massive exoduses of people, pets, and belongings are frightening, frustrating, challenging, and at times oddly wonderful. When so many are on the road seeking shelter, the worst, but also the best qualities of humanity come to the surface. Hurricane evacuations truly provide times when we ask the question, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" In answering that question, we’ve enjoyed amazing moments of friendship and fellowship, family reunions, and chances to share a food and space with strangers from other parts of the country. We’ve traded stories and recipies, laughter and tears.

One thing we’ve learned about hurricanes, living here, is that the paths are never predictable. Storms waver, hesitate, speed up, slow down, and sometimes change course unexpectedly. Evacuation needs can change and develop quickly. What better way for the beauty shop girls to find their inner strength and to show Daily hospitality, than for their cruise plans to land them smack in the middle of a sudden and chaotic hurricane evacuation?

2. Almost every author puts a little of themselves into their stories—what did you put of yourself into this one? (personality traits, life events/jobs, settings, characters based on people you know, likes/dislikes, etc.)

There’s a bit of me in the setting, of course. I love Texas, in all its variety of cultures and landscapes, but, living in a small town, I have a particular affection for little bergs like Daily, where the coffee’s always hot, and a good slide of pecan pie can cure most ills. Having watched our little town mobilize to take in hurricane evacuees several times now, I’ve been reminded that sometimes the worst things that can happen bring out the best in people. Given the opportunity and faced with the need, regular people can rise to the occasion in amazing ways, as do the citizens of Daily in the book.

Some members of the Wingate family might also claim to recognize themselves among the citizens of Daily, Texas. I would offer the disclaimer that any resemblances are completely unintentional, but that would be a bald-faced lie. When you come from a family of great storytellers and colorful characters, there’s nothing to do but make use of what you’ve got.

3. Did you encounter any interesting challenges while writing/researching for this book? Please explain if so.

The most difficult part of working on Never Say Never was researching and reliving the devastation left behind on the Texas gulf coast last year after Hurricane Ike. While interviewing family members about their experiences during the evacuation and return, we shared laughter and quite a few tears. For those who have lived in southeast Texas all their lives, talking about familiar landmarks, heirlooms, and old family places that were washed away forever, knowing some things will never be the same, is both difficult and devastating. For those of us who have so many memories of family gatherings and vacations there, it’s hard to believe we’ll never visit the old places again.

4. Why is this book/story relevant today?

Despite our best-laid plans, we all experience storms in life—whether those storms be of a weather-related nature, or due to an illness, death, or in recent months, job loss and financial misfortune. When the parameters of life and our ability to control fate suddenly change, we’re confronted with our own helplessness and need to rely on other people and God. In a culture that values independence and self-sufficiency, it’s important to remember that we all have a common need and a common responsibility for each other and that without faith we really are alone in the storm.

Lisa Wingate’s
How to Talk Texan
Road Trip Tutorial

A couple dozen phrases that'll keep you from lookin' like you don't know gee from haw. You can hang your hat on it!

Hey, y’all!

If you’re planning a road trip across Texas, well, my friend, you’d better get your trottin’ harness on, I’ll tell you that right now.

This state’s wider than a woodcutter’s pile. You’ll be so busy here, you’ll think you’re twins. You might even meet yourself comin’ and goin’ or travel so fast you’ll catch up to yesterday.

One thing’s for sure--there won’t be any grass growin’ under your feet, especially if it’s summer, because it’ll be hot as a nanny goat in a pepper patch. Don’t let that trouble your mind, though.

Seeing the whole state might seem about as easy as tryin’ to saddle up house flies or put socks on the rooster, but here’re a few phrases that’ll make your trip just as smooth as a calf’s ear. You’ll find this little bit of Texan talk just as handy as a pocket on a shirt. With these phrases, you’ll be right at home in jig time, and happy as a pig in sunshine, I promise.

Folks’ll think you’re just as fine as frog hair split four ways. Why, you might even find yourself a Texas gal who’s cute as a bug’s ear or a fella who catches your eye like a tin roof at noonday. Even if you don’t find love here, you’ll run across lots of folks who’re so friendly, they’ll add a cup of water to the soup and tell you to get your sittin’ britches on.

Some of them might be full of wind as a corn-eatin’ horse, but you’ll be welcome ‘till whenever you figure it’s time to put the chairs in the wagon and turkey-tail it toward home.

When you do, we’ll keep a light on and a hitch out for ya, just in case you miss us like a west Texas farmer misses rain. You’re welcome to darken our door any old time. Long as we got a biscuit, my friend, you got half, and if that ain’t a fact, well, then I’m hip high to a horned toad.

Y’all come back now, y’hear!

--Lisa Wingate (and the REST of the folks in Daily, Texas, too!)

For stories with Texas flavor
and fun, come see us at

About the Author:
Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, Talk of the Town, Drenched in Light, A Thousand Voices, and A Month of Summer. Her work was recently honored by the Americans for More Civility for promoting greater kindness and civility in American life. Lisa and her family live in central Texas.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Thin Places by Mary DeMuth

Zondervan sent me a copy of Mary DeMuth's latest release, Thin Places to read and review. Wow. Called "Brave, moving, and poignant." by Tosca Lee. You will see why from the very first page.

From the back cover: What if you could retrace your life and discover its thin places--places where the division between this world and the eternal fades?

"Thin places are snatches of holy ground, tucked into the corners of our world, where we might just catch a glimpse of eternity. They are aha moments, the beautiful revelations."

In her moving spiritual memoir, Mary DeMuth traces the winding path of thin places in her life, places where she experienced longing and healing more intensely than ever before. Mary's story invites you to a deeper understanding of your own story. She calls you to discover new ways to look for God in the past so that you might experience him more profoundly in the present... A God ready to break through any ordinary day or extraordinary pain and offer you a glimpse of eternity.

Thin Places is not just a memoir, it's an experience. This journey will transform you--open you up, strip you bare, force you to examine your life and how your experiences have shaped you into the person you have become. The honesty within its pages will force you to be honest with yourself and allow you to see the Thin Places in your own life that bring you close to eternity.

Feel free to download the book trailer and other powerful tools from YouTube for teaching ministry to those hurt by neglect, sexual abuse, unsafe homes, or drugs.

A storyteller at heart, Mary DeMuth is the author of Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions, both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year. Mary recently moved back to Texas with her husband, Patrick, and their three children after spending two and a half years planting a church in southern France.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Pastor's Wife--A Novel

Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn’t please, and a God who took away everything she loved.

Nick Shepherd had put the past behind him. At least he thought he had, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must face the mistakes he made and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.

As God works in both their lives, Nick and Maura believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has something to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s what ultimately drove her to leave six years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve begun to rebuild.

Click here to read the first three chapters of The Pastor's Wife.

Jennifer AlLee takes a classic romance situation; two people stuck together by an inheritance, and makes it fresh. The conflict between the pastor and his wife has eternal value. How does a pastor balance his ministry and his family? How can a woman of faith give up on vows made before God?
AlLee does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life and making you care so much for them. I count myself lucky to have gotten an early look at The Pastor's Wife. Mary Connealy, Christy award-nominated author of Calico Canyon and Montana Rose

Featuring realistically drawn characters and a theme so needed in today's it's-about-me society, The Pastor's Wife is a well-crafted, heart-stirring story of love lost...and rediscovered. In my opinion, Jennifer AlLee is an author to watch.
Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of My Heart Remembers

As a child, Jennifer AlLee lived above a mortuary in the heart of Hollywood, California, which may explain her unique outlook on life. Her publishing credits include The Love of His Brother, a contemporary romance from Five Star Publishing (November 2007) as well as skits, activity pages, and over one hundred contributions to Concordia Publishing House’s popular My Devotions series. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, releases February 1, 2010 from Abingdon Press. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves as the Nevada Area Coordinator. Jennifer resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and teenage son. Visit her website at

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Defense Against Excuses and Limitations

Concerns, aggravation, and wasted hours on the phone with technicians over my email server problems have put me woefully behind schedule for February. I read this post on Spark People this morning and it made me realize all is not lost. I have a lot to do, but what I accomplish or don't accomplish depends just as much on attitude and determination as it does on if Microsoft returns my calls. Hope you find some inspiration to get moving on that project that has you stymied, or the one you keep putting off, or whatever.

Burrr ...
February, for many, is a cold month. Regardless of whether it is cold or not, it can feel very cold emotionally. The holidays are in the past and there might be credit card bills to deal with. New Year Resolutions are long forgotten. The enthusiasm you had going into the New Year has worn off and you are falling back into your old routines. Things are feeling like a grind. Heaviness sets in and you can begin to feel as cold and empty as the February landscape. You have been through this cycle many times, and yet here you are again. A dreary outlook and attitude to match the weather.

When we're cold we want to get warm. How do we do that? We turn up the heat. I remember when I lived in Northern Ontario, it got really cold in the winter. Did I say cold? I meant freezing cold. I lived in a house that was heated by woodstoves. We had an expression that you created heat twice when you burned wood. Once when you burn it, but also earlier when you chopped it. In fact in subzero weather, we would go out in t-shirts to split logs because we created so much heat from the activity.

Let's not settle back this month, let's get excited. February is not what is causing us to get down, it is the thinking that we indulge in. If we see it as more than just a time we have to get through, it is not an unpleasant experience. Let's change our attitude this February and decide this is going to be a great month.

Exercise. If you're stuck inside and can't participate in your favorite fun outdoor activities, do something else that gets your blood pumping and also accomplishes something. Organize your closets. Clean out the garage. Make a game out of doing your old exercise DVD's with the kids or your husband. Just don't let them know they're working out.

Create a writing plan for February. I don't know about you but this time of year gets my creative juices flowing. Something about the wind and swirling snow outside while I'm warm and cozy at my desk makes me want to get that novel off my fingertips and onto the keyboard.

What about you? Are you stuck on a project? Are you bogged down and distracted with concern about the economy or family issues and can barely string two sentences together? One of the reasons we develop a negative outlook, is we can't see where we are going. What's your goals? What do you want to finish by the end of the month? The end of the season? The end of the year? Write it down. Change your attitude and take charge. Make this the best February ever. It's your choice.

It's time for us to take off our shirts--figuratively speaking of course--split some logs and heat up our start chopping.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Need Inspiration--Clean out your file folder.

I lost nearly all of last week to Mail Server problems. Still not resolved, btw. My PC has been acting a little wonky lately. While annoying, these situations remind me technology is not infallible. Qlitches or wormholes or warps, or whatever proper term you use, can suddenly wipe out everything you worked years to establish.

Today is Roll up Your Sleeves Day here at Joy in the Journey. My goal first thing this morning was to backup my files and do a little housekeeping in the process. You know, delete old files, combine virtual duplicates, and reorganize into a more efficient system. What I didn't expect was all the nearly abandoned and forgotten files languishing in my hard drive, screaming for my attention.

If you've been pursuing this writing gig for more than a year or two, your Documents File probably looks the same way. Like me, you might've experienced an epiphany at the grocery store or overheard a conversation or woke up from a dream and thought, "Wow, that's the best idea for a book I ever had!" As a good writer, you opened a new file while the episode was fresh in your mind and recorded every word and nuance. Weeks passed and more ideas came and the family needed fed and laundry piled up, and you forgot about that fabulous book just waiting to be written.

My Documents folder is filled with such files named "NOTES", "BEGINNINGS" or "IDEAS". Just someplace to record these ideas that will assuredly become the next Great American Novel if I can just get around to writing the thing. I don't need to buy books or read articles on writing prompts. My hard drive is full of them. All I need to do is open up one of those Documents and get to work.

So that's my goal for today. Open a few of those files. Rediscover why I thought they were worth recording in the first place. Organize, prioritize, add notes and delete what will only serve to slow the story down.

The last few months I have focused my energy on blogging, networking, articles, and short stories. While I enjoy this necessary aspect of the writing life, my focus should remain on my novels. That's where my heart is.

I read a quote not long ago: If you chase two rabbits, both will get away.

I highly recommend you backup your files right now before you get distracted with all the busyness of a new workweek and a new month. Don't put it off. Most importantaly, don't rely solely on automatic backups. The best part about doing it manually is you will see firsthand all the marvelous ideas you've written and forgot about. Who knows? One of them might just be your next bestseller...or your first.

Happy hunting.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mounting Tension

Computer problems kept me from posting earlier in the week as I had planned. Can anybody direct me to the nearest MAC dealer. During the second hour of tech support, the technician said, "Talking to you reminds me of why I'll never go back to a PC." I'm glad I was able to inspire someone yesterday.

But back to creating tension in a work. As I said on Monday I was disappointed that the AFC Championship game didn't contain more tension. Someone pointed out the NFC was chock full. Maybe that was the NFL's way of making it up to disappointed viewers.

Tension: 1. the act of stretching, stretched tight. 2. intense nervous anxiety. 3. stress caused by pulling or stretching.

I posted earlier about creating tension to keep your readers turning pages. It is imperative that you create tension as quickly as possible in a story. You may argue that the first thing a writer needs to worry about is the characters. After all, without characters to root for, the reader isn't going to care about whatever fantastic plot you've cooked up.

Yes, your characters are important. This is absolutely true. Give me someone to root for. But if you don't put the character in a must-win situation from the word go the reader won't hang around long enough to get to know and care about the character.

The opening character can be as basic as a dog lost on the street. I don’t need to know where the dog came from, what breed he is, or how he ended up homeless and hungry. Without knowing anything about the dog besides he is in a dangerous situation, I automatically root for him. He's a helpless animal, for crying out loud. That situation begs for sympathy.

Sympathy in a character builds tension. Imagine the following possibilites: A woman waiting for her husband to get home from work. There's an unopened letter on the table. She keeps looking from the letter to the window. Tension from the word go. What is she afraid of? The contents of the letter? How the contents will grieve him? Or is there a secret inside that puts her very life in danger?

What about: a child dreading the receipt of a test.
Someone waiting for a returned phone call.
A frustrated driver in rush hour traffic.
A man in a van near a city park, his hands wrapped around the steering wheel and his eyes glued to a lone child on the swings.

Each situation breeds tension. Fear. Compassion. Sympathy.

Does your opening contain these elements? Like I wrote earlier, it doesn't take exploding cars or gunshots in the night or squealing brakes and the thud of a body hitting pavement to create tension, though those work well. Imagine again the skinny dog flinching at the noises of the city as he maneuvers between legs and moving cars. Endless possibilites or an opening a potential editor will easily set aside.

You decide.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AFC Championship--Where's the tension?

As a huge Peyton Manning fan you can believe I was in front of the TV watching the match up between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets yesterday afternoon. Part of me can’t help but root for the underdog so I almost wanted to see the Jets win the prize. The first half was a nail biter. Both teams played as if a championship was at stake. Oh, yeah, it sorta was.

But my interest soon waned as the wind went out of the Jets’ sails. Anyone could see this was the Colts’ game. As a writer it didn't take long to figure out why the AFC Championship game lost me as a viewer.

No tension.
No contest.
No surprises.
The death knell for any form of entertainment.
The Colts pulled ahead in the second half; the lead widened and the Jets began to play like a defeated team. When the Colts intercepted the ball just before the two-minute warning I was actually disappointed, even though it was the outcome I had hoped for.

In fiction, I know a few pages into a book how I want it to end. I already know my heroine is probably going to outsmart the bad guy. She’ll return the lost puppy to its master. She’ll reconcile with her mother. She’ll win the chili cook-off, save her sister’s marriage, rescue the children from the bottom of the deserted mine shaft, lose that last fifteen pounds, and of course, capture the heart of our dashing hero.

The trick for the writer is to make all those things happen---to give the reader the story they want, the outcome they expect, the champion they’re rooting for, without turning it into a runaway game that makes them turn the channel. The key to doing this is tension.

Tension: 1. the act of stretching, stretched tight. 2. intense nervous anxiety. 3. stress caused by pulling or stretching.

Readers hate this in real life, but you better give it to them in their reading material. Sol Stein in Stein on Writing says conflict is the ingredient that makes action dramatic. If you don’t quickly arouse the reader’s curiosity they will stop reading and close the book. You must arouse that curiosity and keep it aroused as long as possible.

Readers want to be taken to the edge of their seat once in a while, even though they expect a certain ending when they start reading. During the game yesterday, I got just what I expected...and it was boring. While still wanting the Colts to win, I would've preferred a little back and forth, a contest, some tense moments where it looked like the Jets might actually pull it out.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, look at your project this week. Determine that you are giving readers what they expect, but not it the way they expect. Try something new. Turn everything upside down and shake it out. Ask yourself: Is this going to deliver the right results, but in a new and unexpected way?

While you want to write a runaway bestseller, you don't want to turn it into a runaway ballgame that has everyone leaving early to beat traffic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lessons from the Garden--Mary DeMuth

My guest blogger today is Mary DeMuth, author of Thin Places: A Memoir. If you've met Mary or read any of her books, you know what an uplifting, inspiring person and prolific writer she is. I am honored to have her hear today to offer us words of encouragement.

For those of you discouraged about the writing journey, I hope my story helps a little. Or at least gives you an idea of how important tenacity is in the writing journey.

I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book called Outliers about the irony of genius. Most of those highly proficient in a career or endeavor spent 10,000 hours before they “broke out.” As I thought about my writing career, it all suddenly made sense. I spent the decade of the 90s (plus two more years) writing in obscurity, hour upon hour until I’m sure I surpassed the 10,000 hour mark. After that decade, I attended Mount Hermon with a novel in hand, landed an agent, and sold two books in that first year. Folks often want to hear that part of the story, but it’s hard for them to hear about all the underlying work that went into that dramatic year.

I don’t at all see those 10,000 hours as wasted time. It’s what I needed to apprentice myself to the writing craft. I found my voice. I learned to write fast. I exceeded deadlines. I curried discipline. All those traits serve me well now.

So now I’m in my twentieth year of this journey. I’m not a bestselling author. I’ve achieved some critical success, but I’m not fully making a living at it. I see this last decade as a building one. Recently the Lord showed me something profound while I gardened in my small vegetable patch (readying it for winter). My garden is small, though I long for a larger one someday. The Lord said, “I gave you a small plot so you’d learn to bloom there. If I gave you a field, you’d have been overwhelmed.”

True, true, true. Had I been granted instant success, it would’ve been like trying to garden on ten acres when I hadn’t mastered a 3x30 plot. All these ten years have been training ground for me to learn everything belongs to Jesus. Had I become successful out of the gate, I shudder to think of the Me Monster I might’ve become. I’m at that place where I’m keenly aware that everything is a gift. Success. Rejection. Waiting. Accolades. It’s all from His hand. And it’s not about me.

I’ve had an inkling that my next book could be the breakout one. But I’m also grounded enough to know that it could flop around like a dying fish. It’s okay. God, through ten years of 10,000 words and ten years of small plot gardening, has taught me the beauty of His sovereignty in it all.

So if you’re on your journey discouraged that publishing isn’t happening fast enough, that you’re “good enough” to be published but aren’t getting nibbles, stop and wait and consider.

Have you put in your hours?
How’s your small garden plot? Any weeds?
Have you rested in the fact that God has us all on vastly different journeys, and that yours will differ from everyone else’s?
Are you learning contentment, tenacity, patience?
Are you better craftwise than you were last year at this time?
Have you passed on what you've learned to others, being generous in what others have taught you?

Just some thoughts to consider as you journey forward.