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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Exercise and reading

Camy here. I know, you’re looking at the post title and thinking, “Waaaaaaaaaah?”

But I confess, I read while I’m on the exercise bike all the time. Or I’ll go for a walk with an audiobook on my iPod.

There are some people who say that if you can read while on the exercise bike, you’re not working hard enough. They say that you shouldn’t be able to read while doing exercise.

But I say, phooey on them! Sometimes, the only way I can motivate myself to get on the exercise bike is with the promise of reading a good book!

And let’s face it—a moderate speed on the exercise bike is better than nuthin’! And reading while on the bike makes me feel like I both exercised and pampered myself with some reading time. Win-win, right?

So for all those who say you have to be heaving and sweating on the bike, I turn a deaf ear. And dig back into the latest Love Inspired Suspense novel. LOL

Sweat would stain my pages. Can’t have that.

Do you “trick” yourself into exercising? Or are there ways you can “trick” yourself into getting moving?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and her Love Inspired Suspense novel, Deadly Intent, releases in July this year. She runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

True Confessions


Time for true confessions on the Love Inspired Author’s blog: My name is Stephanie Newton and I’m addicted to television. The DVR has made this addiction possible. Our daily schedule is so busy that I probably wouldn’t watch nearly as much if I didn’t record my favorites to watch in my “free” time.

I’ve watched every episode of NCIS. I love the quirky characters on that show. The Israeli assassin Ziva, the love-em and leave-em Tony who hasn’t been successful at lovin’ lately, the geeky McGee who writes spy novels, the married four times Gibbs who lost his one true love…these are the characters that make the stories come to life.

What about House? That guy is easily the most egotistical man on television, and yet, he has friends. The ever faithful Wilson and the lovely, smart Cutty. He’s a lonely, wounded, grouchy drug addict who questions God but still…there’s something about his character that is so raw and real that makes him seem redeemable. At least I keep hoping he is.

Then there’s that new show on FOX: Lie to Me. It’s a study in human emotion, what makes us tick. Why we lie and how we try to cover it up—and why we can’t. Fascinating stuff. It hasn’t been on long enough for me to know if it’ll be a keeper, but for now, I can’t turn away!

Finally, The Unit. I’ve been a fan of this show since its second season when I was writing a military hero. (poor Marco hasn’t reached his HEA yet, but there’s always hope) The dynamic in this show is how a team functions--and boy, if you want to see acts of heroism, they are aplenty in this show about a super-secret military unit. I love the interaction between the men, the ultimate trust, and really, I have to tell you the truth: I love it when they blow stuff up.

So, now the secret’s out. I’m addicted to TV, but it’s one way I refresh the creative well. What about you? How do you spend your “free” time? TV? Reading? Or maybe you paint in the style of the cubists? Come on, spill your secrets—I promise I won’t tell anyone. :)

 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are you crazy or what?


Hi. I’m Leann Harris and I write suspense. Sometimes when I hear a news story about a missing person or about a murder, I ask myself, “What if…”
That’s what writer’s do. Give me a scene and I want to know what happened to these characters to get them to this point in their lives. I usually try to make it as miserable as possible and as hopeless as I can, then they can work themselves out of the hole they dug themselves into. Someone asked if my characters talk to me. Nah, I’m not that crazy, but I will confess that in one book I wanted the hero to leave the heroine at a critical junction. Well, he flat out refused. No matter what I tried to do that man would not do what I wanted. But as I thought about it, what I wanted him to do was completely out of character for him. He was the reluctant hero, but he was the hero, and what I asked him to do went against the grain. I was wrong. When I knew he wouldn’t leave the heroine, the book started flowing again and he acted.
What can I say? I’m crazy. I’m a writer.

 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Computers Are Wonderful When They Work

A horrible thing happened to me last week. My computer died.

Without a gurgle or a burp, it suddenly decided to go on strike. At first I thought it was some momentary glitch that would soon right itself, but after repeatedly trying to open every program, I knew I was in trouble.

Staring at the lit screen with all my icons still visible, I sat there trying to decide what to do. Turn it off and see if it will come back on, I thought. So I did, and it rebooted with everything still in place. But nothing would work.

For some this might not be a problem, but for a writer who spends long hours every day at her computer, this was devastating. I suddenly felt cut off from the rest of the world. In reality I wasn’t because I still had a telephone and a cell phone, not to mention the fact that the mailman still stops at my house every day. But to be without a computer was a horrible thing to happen at just that moment.

I had worked all day on a proposal that I meant to get off to my editor the next morning. Now I couldn’t get to it. It was frozen inside my computer.

After taking a lot of deep breaths and praying for a solution, I called my son to bring me his laptop. With it in hand I was ready to redo my proposal. Thank goodness I had the first three chapters stored in an online email account, but I wasn’t so lucky with the synopsis. I had printed it out, so I had to retype the hard copy. Do you know how long it takes to type a six-page-single-spaced document? A lo-o-o-ng time.

My computer came back from the repairman today. There was nothing major wrong, he said, but I’m sure it’s time to get a new one. At least that’s what I’ve told my husband, and I’m sticking to that story.

I must say, though, that I learned an important lesson. My computer may have a lot more brain power than I do, but I’m not going to let a machine get the best of me in the future. From now on I’m going to do what I neglected to do some days. I’m going to back up everything!!!

From sunny Tennessee where the daffodils are blooming and the grass is getting green, I’m praying you have a great day.

Sandra Robbins

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring? Where is it?

Okay, so you're hearing spring has sprung. (Lenora, I'm talking about you, girl!) And you're seeing people sporting tans and tee shirts from down south and facing dastardly issues like pollen from all those pretty trees.

Now it's time to tell you how some of us are living. I'd love to send you a picture of the weather outside my house, but all you'd see is white. And lots of it.

We're in the throes of a spring snow storm. Isn't that an oxymoron? Spring? Snow? Kind of like jumbo shrimp or non-working mother, or military intelligence.
This storm began last night. This morning, my husband had to blow out the driveway. Yes, Virginia, there are machines that only blow snow, and we've overused ours this winter. Ahem, I mean, spring.

Schools are closed, garbage pickup delayed. Mail delivery? Are you kidding?
It's been a tough old winter this year, and I'm not talking about just the weather. We've lost family members, seen major heart operations, and last Friday, our furnace quit.

But like Lenora, we must search for the hopeful side. I'm always one to say that the glass is half full.

Because it's all about your attitude. God isn't giving us anything we can't handle, though, I am the first one to bristle and growl. But our furnace didn't quit in the dark, cold days of winter, and for that I'm grateful. The weather may be miserable, but the temperature is up near freezing. (Here, you cringe just as much at the clear skies because they are sure to bring -40 degree temps.)

And I've had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother in law, after they lost their son. God gave me good flights at cheap prices. I couldn't help them much during the visit, but I did what I could do.

And our family has been able to rally around each other as we deal with major operations. I will do my best to thank God for the small blessings we forget about at times like this. The blessings of friends and family, of being able to share my story today with you, and maybe encourage us all.

Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Galations 6:2

God bless.

Barbara Phinney

 

Spring has sprung and so have I!

Hi. It's Lenora Worth. It's spring in Louisiana. The dogwoods and azaleas are beginning to bloom. My camellia bushes are heavy with lush pink flowers. The Bradford pear tree (or the popcorn tree as my son used to call it) has bloomed and already shed its pretty white flowers. And my lilies are beginning to pop out of the ground. I always plant the Easter lilies we buy each year at church to honor or remember a loved one. I name my lilies. I have two named for dear friends who passed away, Suzannah Davis and Sandra Canfield, both great writers. I have one named for Shiny (otherwise known as Patt Marr) and I have several others. These original lilies are now producing others so I feel as if my garden is full of dear friends just waiting for spring. That's the good part about spring.

The bad part--the pollen. It's everywhere. And my sinuses don't like that. It's amazing to look out on a pretty day and see a yellow mist falling all around the yard. It's like yellow rain. My patio table is covered with it. I can't even see the glass top. And our cars are tinted yellow these days. Couple the pollen and allergies with a severe neck pain and I've been a bit grumpy this spring! But even with a pain in the neck and a throat that is constantly tickled, I know I am still blessed. Those pretty lilies not only represent friendship and good memories. They also represent God's love and the sacrifice that Christ made for me. I am so blessed to be alive to watch the flowers bloom for another spring. I am so blessed to know so many wonderful writers at Steeple Hill. And I'm blessed to be able to watch the pollen falling because that means life will continue and rebirth will happen all over again next year. A few sneezes don't matter when the end result is a beautiful, wonderful-smelling lily blooming in my garden to remind me that life truly is a blessing in both the good and the bad times.

Lenora :)

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Hello from a First Timer!


Hi, I’m Ramona Richards, and I’m new to the LIAuthor blog, although I’ve been a member of the site for a couple of years. So I thought I’d give a short introduction into a 30-year career in publishing, then tell you what really matters to me.

The quickest way is to say that I’ve written or edited just about anything someone would pay me for, including kid’s books, Bible studies, air conditioning repair manuals, biographies, magazine articles, and sales videos. Yep, all those infomercials are actually scripted. But my first love is fiction, and I think I’ve finally found a home writing for Love Inspired Suspense.

My first two novels (A Murder Among Friends and The Face of Deceit) both received 4½ from Romantic Times magazine, and Deceit was a Top Pick for September 2008. I am thrilled about the release of my third one, The Taking of Carly Bradford, in May . . . and by the time May rolls around, maybe I’ll figure out how to post an excerpt like Linda did!

And as to what matters . . . that would be Rachel, and God. They are gloriously intertwined, and both have changed my life forever. Rachel, who has cerebral palsy has been treated by the Make-A-Wish foundation, featured on local TV, and helped me sell a piece to Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul. You can read more about her on my website.
God – well, He has had even more impact on my life, and as far as I can tell, capable of leading me to do things I’d never believe I could. Like writing books for LIS. So here we are, ready for the next chapter.

 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Home to Crossroads Ranch by Linda Goodnight

Hi! Linda Goodnight here. Thank you for stopping by the Love Inspired blog. Today, I’d like to introduce you to my latest book, HOME TO CROSSROADS RANCH. It’s on the shelves and available at online bookstores now.

HOME TO CROSSROADS RANCH is dedicated to my late brother-in-law, Bill, a joyful man who was a kid magnet. He could walk in a room with his booming laugh and every kid in the place ran to hang on Uncle Bill’s leg. He always had time for them. If a nephew or niece had a ballgame a hundred miles away, Bill would be there even though he’d worked twelve hours in the hot sun and hadn’t had time to eat. A kid in the family having a birthday? The party didn’t start until Bill arrived with party hats, presents, and lots of laughs. And no one was ever surprised on those weekends when Uncle Bill and Aunt Barb would call with instructions to pack up the kids because they were all going camping. The van would pull up, kids hanging out every window, we’d pile in a few more and away they’d go for weekends none of them have ever forgotten. All kids need an Uncle Bill in their lives.

The point of all this? Bill was a true giver, a man about as Christ-like as any I’ve ever known. He loved kids, but just as important, he saw value in kids. What they had to say and how they felt mattered to him.

In HOME TO CROSSROADS RANCH the heroine, Rainy is much the same way. Kids are her life. Trouble is, she’s single, and the cowboy who’s caught her eye doesn’t exactly share her views. To find out if and how God works everything out, I hope you’ll pick up a copy, kick back in your favorite chair, and spend a few hours with Rainy, Nate, and all the kids at Crossroads Ranch.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Nate Del Rio heard screams the minute he stepped out of his Super Crew Cab and started up the flower-lined sidewalk leading to Rainy Jernagen's house. He double-checked the address scribbled on the back of a bill for horse feed. Sure enough, this was the place.

Adjusting his Stetson against a gust of March wind, he rang the doorbell expecting the noise to subside. It didn't.

Somewhere inside the modest, tidy-looking brick house at least two kids were screaming their heads off in what sounded to his experienced ears like fits of temper. A television blasted out Saturday-morning cartoons.

He punched the doorbell again. Instead of the expected ding-dong, a raucous alternative Christian rock band added a few more decibels to the noise level.

Nate shifted the toolbox to his opposite hand and considered running for his life while he had the chance.

Too late. The bright red door whipped open. Nate's mouth fell open with it.

When the men's ministry coordinator from Bible Fellowship had called him, he'd somehow gotten the impression that he was coming to help a little old schoolteacher. In his mind, that meant the kind who only drove to school and church and had a big, fat cat.

Not so. The woman standing before him with taffy-blond hair sprouting out from a disheveled ponytail couldn't possibly be any older than his thirty-one years. A big blotch of something purple stained the front of her white sweatshirt, and she was barefoot. Plus, she had a crying baby on each hip and a little red-haired girl hanging on one leg, bawling like a sick calf. And there wasn't a cat in sight.

What had he gotten himself into?

"May I help you?" she asked over the racket. Her blue-gray eyes were a little too unfocused and bewildered for his comfort.

Raising his voice, he asked, "Are you Ms. Jernagen?"

"Yes," she said cautiously. "I'm Rainy Jernagen. And you are…?"

"Nate Del Rio."

She blinked, uncomprehending, all the while jiggling both babies up and down. One grabbed a hunk of her hair. She flinched, her head angling to one side, as she said, still cautiously, "Okaaay."

Nate reached out and untwined the baby's sticky fingers.

A relieved smile rewarded him. "Thanks. Is there something I can help you with?"

He hefted the red toolbox to chest level so she could see it. "From the Handyman Ministry. Jack Martin called. Said you had a washer problem."

Understanding dawned. "Oh my goodness. Yes. I'm so sorry. You aren't what I expected. Please forgive me."

She wasn't what he expected, either. Not in the least. Young and with a houseful of kids. He suppressed a shiver. Kids, even grown ones, could drive a person to distraction. He should know. His adult sister and brother were, at this moment, making his life as miserable as possible. The worst part was they did it all the time. Only this morning his sister Janine had finally packed up and gone back to Sal, giving Nate a few days' reprieve.

"Come in, come in," the woman was saying. "It's been a crazy morning, what with the babies showing up at 3 a.m. and Katie having a sick stomach. Then while I was doing the laundry, the washing machine went crazy. Water everywhere." She jerked her chin toward the inside of the house. "You're truly a godsend."

He wasn't so sure about that, but he'd signed up for his church's ministry to help single women and the elderly with those pesky little handyman chores like oil changes and leaky faucets. Most of his visits had been to older ladies who plied him with sweet tea and jars of homemade jam and talked about the good old days while he replaced a fuse or unstopped the sink. And their houses had been quiet. Real quiet.

Rainy Jernagen stepped back, motioning him in, and Nate very cautiously entered a room that should have had flashing red lights and a Danger Zone sign.

Toys littered the living room like it was Christmas morning. An overturned cereal bowl flowed milk onto a coffee table. Next to a playpen crowding one wall, a green package belched out disposable diapers. Similarly, baby clothes were strewn, along with a couple of kids, on the couch and floor. In a word, the place was a wreck.

"The washer is back this way behind the kitchen. Watch your step. It's slippery."

More than slippery. Nate kicked his way through the living room and the kitchen area. Though the kitchen actually appeared much tidier than the rest, he still caught the slow seepage of water coming from somewhere beyond the wall. The shine of liquid glistening on beige tile led them straight to the utility room.

"I turned the faucets off behind the washer when this first started, but a tubful still managed to pump out onto the floor." She hoisted the babies higher on her hip and spoke to a young boy sitting on the floor. "Joshua, get out of those suds."

"But they're pretty, Miss Rainy." The brown-haired boy with bright blue eyes grinned up at her, extending a handful of bubbles. Light reflected off each droplet. "See the rainbows? There's always a rainbow, like you said. A rainbow behind the rain."

Rainy smiled at the child. "Yes, there is. But right now, Mr. Del Rio needs to get in here to fix the washer. It's a little crowded for all of us." She was right about that. The space was no bigger than a small bathroom. "Can I get you to take the babies to the playpen while I show him around?"

"I'll take them, Miss Rainy." An older boy with a serious face and brown plastic glasses entered the room. Treading carefully, he came forward and took both babies, holding them against his slight chest. Another child appeared behind him, this one a girl with very blond hair and eyes the exact blue of the boy she'd called Joshua. How many children did this woman have, anyway? Six?

A heavy, smothery feeling pressed against his airway. Six kids?

Before he could dwell on that disturbing thought, a scream of sonic proportions rent the soap-fragrant air. He whipped around, ready to protect and defend.

The little blond girl and the redhead were going at it.

"It's mine." Blondie tugged hard on a doll.

"It's mine. Will said so." To add emphasis to her demand, the redhead screamed bloody murder. "Miss Rainy!"

About that time, Joshua decided to skate across the suds, and slammed into the far wall next to a door that probably opened into the garage. He grabbed his big toe and sent up a howl. Water sloshed as Rainy rushed forward and gathered him into her arms.

"Rainy!" Blondie screamed again.

"Rainy!" the redhead yelled.

Nate cast a glance at the garage exit and considered a fast escape.

Lord, I'm here to do a good thing. Can You help me out a little?

Rainy, her clothes now wet, somehow managed to take the doll from the fighting girls while snuggling Joshua against her side. The serious-looking boy stood in the doorway, a baby on each hip, taking in the chaos.

"Come on, Emma," he said to Blondie. "I'll make you some chocolate milk." So they went, slip-sliding out of the flooded room.

Four down, two to go.

Nate clunked his toolbox onto the washer and tried to ignore the chaos. Not an easy task, but one he'd learned to deal with as a boy. As an adult, he did everything possible to avoid this kind of madness. The Lord had a sense of humor sending him to this particular house.

"I apologize, Mr. Del Rio," Rainy said, shoving at the wads of hair that hung around her face like Spanish moss.

"Call me Nate. I'm not that much older than you." Being the longtime patriarch of his family, he might feel seventy, but he wasn't.

"Okay, Nate. And I'm Rainy. Really, it's not usually this bad. I can't thank you enough for coming over. I tried to get a plumber, but today being Saturday…" She shrugged, letting the obvious go unsaid. No one could get a plumber on the weekend.

"No problem." He removed his white Stetson and placed it next to the toolbox. What was he supposed to say? That he loved wading through dirty soapsuds and listening to kids scream and cry? Not likely.

Rainy stood with an arm around each of the remaining children—the rainbow boy and the redhead. Her look of embarrassment had him feeling sorry for her. All these kids and no man around to help. With this many, she'd never find another husband, he was sure of that. Who would willingly take on a boatload of kids?

After a minute, Rainy and the remaining pair left the room and he got to work. Wiggling the machine away from the wall wasn't easy. Even with all the water on the floor, a significant amount remained in the tub. This leftover liquid sloshed and gushed at regular intervals. In minutes, his boots were dark with moisture. No problem there. As a rancher, his boots were often dark with lots of things, the best of which was water.

On his haunches, he surveyed the back of the machine where hoses and cords and metal parts twined together like a nest of water moccasins.

As he investigated each hose in turn, he once more felt a presence in the room. Pivoting on his heels, he discovered the two boys squatting beside him, attention glued to the back of the washer. Blondie hovered in the background.

"A busted hose?" the oldest one asked, pushing up his glasses.

"Most likely."

"I coulda fixed it but Rainy wouldn't let me."

"That so?"

"Yeah. Maybe. If someone would show me."

Nate suppressed a smile. "What's your name?"

"Will. This here's my brother, Joshua." He yanked a thumb at the younger one. "He's nine. I'm eleven. My sister's Emma. She's seven. You go to Miss Rainy's church?"

"I do, but it's a big church. I don't think we've met before."

"She's nice. Most of the time. She never hits us or anything, and we've been here for six months."

It occurred to Nate then that these were not Rainy's children. The kids called her Miss Rainy, not Mom, and according to Will they had not been here forever. But what was a young, single woman doing with all these kids? Foster care? Nah, they didn't let singles do that. Did they?

Rainy frantically tossed toys into a basket in an effort to clear up some of the mess. She never let things get like this. Of all the days to have a stranger come into her home. A young, nice-looking stranger at that.

Pausing with a stuffed bear against her ...

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Creative Spaces


Hi, Stephanie Newton here. I loved Marty’s post about writing on the road because I’ve been thinking about writing spaces this week, too. I’ve long wished for a space all my own. Even before I lived a writing life, I scrapbooked and longed for a place to leave my stuff out. Two houses ago, I had an office, but I shared it with my kids as a school room. In the last house, I wrote in the sunroom, which coincidentally, was also the school room. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

When we started looking for a new house last summer, high on my list of priorities was a house with enough rooms to make one into an office. Preferably with a door. So in short order, I fell in love with a house which had zero space for an office, but absolutely glorious windows. And the office suddenly wasn’t quite so high on my priority list. My husband was saying things like, “What about hurricanes?” (We live on the coast in Florida) and “What about the electric bill?” (The A/C runs about 9 months out of the year) and in desperation, “Privacy, hon?” And I was thinking, “But the light!”

So, I still write in the chair in the family room, but I write by a huge window with a gorgeous view of the backyard and the pond behind our house. If both of my children are home and one kid’s music is competing with the other’s video games and I feel like my brain is going to explode (it could happen with teenagers in the house, I’m pretty sure), then I move to my bedroom—where there is a door.

I would still love to have an office and when the Pottery Barn catalog arrives, I drool over the work space section. Don’t tell my kids, but I’ve got big plans for when they move out!

So, what do your creative spaces look like? Are you like me and dream of the perfect room for all your creative endeavors? If you have a craft room or an office for me to covet, share!













(My writing chair :)

 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WRITING ON THE ROAD


From Marta Perry


I used to imagine what my life would be like as an author—the book-lined study, the latest equipment, the way my family would tiptoe around to preserve my peace. Oops! Somehow that picture has gotten a bit skewed over the years! I do have the book-lined study, but I’m seldom in it. As for the equipment and the tip-toeing family—well, my new motto is, Have Laptop, Will Travel!

It all started when my husband decided to take an early retirement. Not content to vegetate, he wanted to travel. One seventeen-foot motor home later, and we were on our way. Yes, I did say seventeen foot. I think we have the smallest motor home made, but we’re both small, so that works out.

On our first trip, I discovered that the laptop fit perfectly into the compartment beneath my seat, and my notebooks and other materials could live in the shelf above my head. What else could a writer ask for?

We left our Pennsylvania valley and headed west, he driving and pointing out sights, me typing away and looking up once in awhile to say, “Yes, that is amazing.” It’s not that I don’t appreciate scenery, but I had a book due.

However, I quickly discovered the benefits of travel to the writer. For one thing, nobody called to ask me to drop my work and hurry into town to help with the latest rummage or bake sale. For another, I was feeding my soul and filling my creative well with sights and experiences that I’d drawn on for years.

Across the country we went, only stopping our westward plunge when we hit San Francisco and the Pacific was in view. We felt like Lewis and Clark when we finally saw it!

Anyway, the point of this piece isn’t to extol the beauties of travel. It’s to say that a writer can write anywhere, book-lined study or no. In fact, I find some of my most creative writing and steadiest production takes place in the car or the camper. No distractions, for the most part, and something about the movement seems to lull my mind into its most creative state, just as it used to put a cranky baby to sleep.

So when the interruptions come faster than the ideas, my husband and I know just what to do—throw a few things in a bag, grab the laptop, and hit the open road!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Booksigning


I went to a book festival two weekends ago in Comanche, OK that was great. I met some interesting people who wanted to know about Christian fiction. I love spreading the word about Love Inspired books to people who haven't had a chance to read any. The picture is of a reader who stopped by to say hi. I really enjoyed talking to her.

This Friday I'm going to be in Dallas at the Convention Center for the Christian Booksellers' Expo. A lot of Christian writers will be attending. I'm going to be handing out free books from 3-4 on Friday, March 20th. You can find me at the American Christian Fiction Writers' booth. There will be some other Love Inspired authors who will be at the expo, too. Arlene James, Cara Putman and Lyn Cote will also be in the American Christian Fiction Writers' booth. If you are in the area, please come join us in celebrating Christian books. Check out their Web site at www.christianbookexpo.com.

 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dealing with that ‘Empty Nest’ feeling

Hi! Winnie Griggs, unabashed sentimentalist here. I’ve been feeling a bit wistful the last few days since the last of my four children moved away from home last week. Yet another ‘opportunity’ to adjust to the ever-shifting dynamics of family life.

I have four children, all close together in years if not temperament. My oldest is 27, my middle child is 25 and my ‘babies’, twins, are 23. Yes, at one time I drove a van with four car seats in the back. In fact, for most of the past 23 years the family ‘car’ has been a van, either full size or mini.

My first brush with empty nest syndrome was when the twins went off to college four and a half years ago. For the first time in over two decades we did not have children in the house on a regular basis. I wallowed about for a bit. Then I noticed something. Though they were all scattered - the oldest had headed north, the middle one west and the twins south - they were all within three hours of home. So, lo and behold, most weekends would find at least one of them back home for a visit (translate that to: do laundry and get home cooked meals). And of course there were the long school holidays and summer breaks where we were all back together again. So my hubby and I adjusted to this interim stage of quasi-empty nesterdom. It was sort of the best of both worlds. Time to ourselves when we wanted it but the sure knowledge that we’d see one or more of them in the near future.

Then last spring the three youngest finished up with college. (Middle child took six years instead of four - long story). The twins immediately found jobs in other parts of the state and moved on. Middle child, on the other hand, found a local job but needed time to save some income and find ‘just the right place’ to move to. Which was fine by me. More than fine. “Mother’ is one of my favorites of the many roles I fill.

But then it happened. Middle child found a house and moved in last week. Now hubby and I are rambling around in this big two story home that not too long ago seemed to be bursting at the seams but now seems a bit too quiet. We’ll adjust, of course. And rediscover each other in the process. Which, come to think of it, is a very nice silver lining ...

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Readers ask, "Where do you get your ideas."

Hello from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com

"Where do you get your stories" is a common question that authors get from readers. They come to me from many sources--sermons, Bible verses, newspaper articles, a unique setting, people I see in my daily life, and from events told to me by family and friends. In fact, I often have friends start to tell me a story, and then stop and say, "You'll probably put me in your next novel."

I never do that, but I sometimes take pieces of their experience and twist it around to create a different but similar scene in my book. You've all heard the saying truth is stranger than fiction. That's true and I'm glad not to have experienced my sister's adventure a couple weeks ago while she was spending two winter months in Sedona with her husband Max and another couple, Nancy and Fred.

(Click for enlargement - and use back button to return)

You'll see my sister Jan (the short blond) with me when we visited her and her husband in Sedona January 2008. Behind us is bell rock, one of the amazing rock formations people like to climb. My sister's adventure happened on mesa not too far from the condo where she was staying.

When I received Jan's telephone call early in the morning, the sound of her voice prompted my question. “Are you okay?”

“I am now,” she said, “but I have a story for one of your novels.”

From the tone of her voice, my heart gave a jump. “What happened?”

This is a brief summary of her story:

The four travelers love to hike and when Jan and Max’s grandson Jack came for a visit, they decided to take him hiking up to a mesa not far from their condo in Canyon Mesa Country Club. Fred, with some health problems, opted out of the hike, but after lunch his wife nancy joined my sister and her husband along with Jack, and they drove to the beginning of a hiking trail into one of the surrounding mesas. Time: 1:30 PM

This dramatic story continues with getting lost. Time 3:30. They turned back and came to a dead end. Human tracks had vanished, mud pools nearly sucked off their shoes, then mountain lion tracks and evidence of wildlife unsettled them. Time 6:00 PM They changed directions as night settled over them. In the dark, they had falls, scraps, leaving blood running down their arms and fearing the lions would pick up their scent. With dangerous drop offs and night's lowered temperatures, they faced reality. They had to find a way to stay dry. Jan dragged out her suvivor knowledge and suggested they feel for loose tree bark to cover the wet ground so they could huddle together for warmth and wait until morning.

Any good writer likes to hook the reader, so I'll end this chapter here, but if you'd like to read the full story and learn the ending, which was amazing, you can visit my Gail's Thoughts blog at
www.gailmartin.blogspot.com

One of these days, you'll find a scene like this in one of my novels, filled with emotion, drama, and romance. I'll keep you posted when that book comes to reality.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Libraries

Camy Tang here, and at the time I’m writing this, I’m just back from an interview for a part-time library position.

Applying for the job was a no-brainer. I mean, what reader wouldn’t want to be surrounded by books for a few hours each day???

The job is also part-time, which means I can still spend time writing each day. While I would love to work in the library, writing is my favorite job.

The librarian mentioned that the library has gotten busier because of the economy right now. After all, library books are free! And books are cheaper entertainment than a movie. Have you visited your library lately?

Did you know that for many libraries, if they don’t have the book you want but another branch has it, they’ll have it sent to your branch so you can read it? Here in California, it’s called a Hold request. You can actually do it online—you put a book on hold and the branch that has the book sends it to your branch, and when it’s available, you get an email saying it’s ready for you to pick up and check out.

Did you also know that you can suggest books that are not on their list? If you search their catalog and, say, Margaret Daley’s latest book isn’t there, you can submit the title to the library to suggest that they purchase it. Most libraries are happy to buy a nice inexpensive paperback that someone has requested (as opposed to a more expensive hardcover book).

Some libraries will allow you to donate books and they’ll put them in their catalog, but not all libraries do that. Many libraries around here will accept donated books, but they sell it at a special table (for $1 each, so they’re a good deal) rather than adding the books to their catalog. :( So be sure to check with your library on their policy before donating your books, because they might not add them to the stacks.

Anyway, if it’s God’s will, I pray I get the library job!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and her Love Inspired Suspense novel, Deadly Intent, releases in July this year. She runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Odd hobbies


Here in south central Kansas spring is in the air. The proof can be found in last night’s thunderstorm and the tornado sirens that set all of us dashing to turn on the T.V. or radio. I like it better when the daffodils bloom before the tornado season gets underway, but that’s life here on the Great Plains.

In truth, spring has me on the lookout for the return of some old friends. My husband and I call them Matty, Batty and Bob. Most people wouldn’t notice our visitors and if they did, they’d be freaked out. You see, Matty, Batty and Bob are bats. Eastern Red Bats. Lasiurus borealis, to be exact.

We keep a watch out for these wonderful aerial acrobats each evening at dusk from our front porch. As the birds are roosting in the trees, the nighttime princes of the air come out to swoop, twirl, flutter and dart in the skies just above the treetops. Their soft wings make them look like big butterflies, but they are so fast it’s hard to follow their flight.

For the past two years we’ve been treated to the brief evening shows before dark by three bats. Oh, maybe they aren’t the same ones each year, but I like to think so. I’ve read that they can live up to 12 years. The most wonderful thing about these four inch wonders is the fact that they eat half their weight in insects every night. I’ve seen them snatch a moth in flight and even lightening bugs on a summer’s eve. Anything that eats bugs is a friend of mine. I like bats, I don’t mind snakes, but I can’t stand bugs. YUCK.

So my odd hobby is bat watching. Anyone else willing to admit their strange pastimes?
Blessing all.
Pat

 

Monday, March 9, 2009

What Does a Romance Writer Do When the Kid's Asleep


Here in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, we cuddle up on the couch and watch Adam 12. Yup, I’m serious: Adam 12. We’re on season two, disc two. I keep track because it is my favorite date thing to do, right now, with my husband.

My husband likes the show because of all the 60’s stuff. He’s forever hitting me and yelling Slug Bug. (He’ll grow up someday). He’s also technical. He points out things that ‘couldn’t’ happen quite like Adam 12 has portrayed them on television (Don’t be upset Adam 12; he does this with current TV, too). He is adamant that on the show where a baby was thrown from a car (Don’t worry; baby lived), the baby could not have landed where it did. He grumbled on another show about a baby left in the care of a very small sibling. Husband didn’t think baby would be as clean as it was portrayed (I agreed with him).

As for me, romantic suspense author, I’m intrigued by the way cops did things back then. For example, in one episode Reed and Malloy respond to a domestic dispute. Malloy is holding a gun on the man and Reed runs next door (apartment building) to use the phone. Then, there’s another episode where Reed and Malloy are looking for a rapist. They find him, open the truck of his car, and there’s a blanket with a bloody knife lying on top (My critique group would say too convenient, Pam). Malloy picks up the knife. I’m freaking. He’s touched it!

A few of the episodes are available with commentary. So, as Reed and Malloy do their jobs, a couple of retired cops dish on how right the show was and how wrong the show was. According to the real cops, Reed and Malloy didn’t handcuff enough. According to the real cops, the show encouraged many young men to become cops.

I, for my suspense books, wonder about quite a few things, like what hasn’t changed. Are two men cars still called Adam? I think so. Is a one man vehicle stilled called a Mary? Does a voice still instruct the cop to “see the woman at…” And, I also wonder what percent of calls are ridiculous.

When we’re done with season two of Adam 12, we’ll switch to Emergency. We’re on season two with it, too. Then, I found a new golden oldie, one I’d never heard of called The Rookies.

So, what golden oldie do you miss?

 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Snow Day and Strep Throat


Missy Tippens here.
A snow day. And Strep throat??
The two don't go together very well, do they? But that's exactly what happened to my daughter this week. We got 5 inches of snow on Sunday near Atlanta. Five inches!! More than we've seen in probably a decade. And oh, my. Huge, gorgeous flakes made it look like a giant feather pillow had exploded in the sky.
And there sat my poor daughter. Throat raw. Head hurting. Stomach hurting. Dragging from door to door to watch the white stuff pile up. Poor thing. We finally gave her Motrin and she felt okay enough to bundle up and go outside for a while. Then once she came back inside and warmed up with hot chocolate, we watched the TV news for school closings. And sure enough, our county schools closed for Monday. Finally, a snow day! And she ended up spending a good chunk of that day at the doctor's office, drugstore and grocery.
What a bummer for a middle schooler.
Do you ever feel like that--totally bummed? Does your timing ever seem perfectly...not perfect?
It took me what seemed like forever to finally sell my first book (Her Unlikely Family, Feb. 08). But as I looked back right after that first sale, I could see God's hand at work. His timing was perfect. (Again, remember I was seeing this after the fact. I didn't do a very good job of seeing His timing while I was waiting!)
Have you had a time where, in the middle of a situation, it was hard for you to see that God was at work? But afterwards you could see His perfect plan? I hope you'll share your experience with us!
Missy
His Forever Love, June 2009
A Forever Christmas, Nov. 2009

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writing amid the Chaos



Some people thrive in the orderly, I thrive in chaos. When I'm in the throes of a book, my office looks like a tornado ravaged the room. My desktop is piled high with various layers of papers, anything from bills to research info to school stuff for my kids. And believe it or not I do have a catalog in my brain that tells me where any given paper that I am looking for is within the layers. I have books, The Synonym Finder, A Dictionary, The Plot Doctor and various other research books that pertain to what ever subject I'm writing about, stacked around, either on the desk top or on the floor with in grabbing distance. Pens and pencils lie haphazardly on the desktop for easy use, as do scissors and highlighters. A phone is close by and the printer is an arm's length away. Right now I have a tub of Trader Joe's Animal Crackers sitting next to the printer (in case I get the munchies) and a cup of tea. On my lap is my daughter's little dog named Simba. He likes to put his head on the keyboard as I type.
Behind me, I have a book case stuffed with books, some research and reference, some writing how to books, and lots of fun fiction. I also have a tall filing cabinet the top of which houses a pretty vase with my beautiful roses from Rose City Romance Writers, the chapter gives a rose every time an author sells a book. On the floor infront of the closet are tubs full of stuff, more books, things for reader baskets, papers that I don't need right now but may one day and a ton of notebooks full of story ideas. At my feet is a CD player; again that chaos thing, I can't work in silence.I will confess that between deadlines, I do clean my office so that the chaos can be rebuilt with the next book. And so my life as a writer goes.
I'm knee deep in a book that will be a December 2009 release titled Chasing Shadows- so as you probably have guessed my office is in shambles.
This month I have a Classics release. This is a reissue of my first two books in one volumne. I love the cover. Steeple Hill does such a great job with the art work on our covers (see the cover above).

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My name is Janet Tronstad and I'm a Pollyanna








Seriously, I often am too much of a Pollyanna. I think I can do twice as much as I can in the time allotted. Or that the news will be half as bad as it is. Or that things will happen twice as fast as they do. I don’t think that being a Pollyanna is a bad thing, but sometimes it does have a downside – when bad news does come I’m not always prepared. And being a Pollyanna can be annoying to some of one’s friends at times (people don’t always want to be around someone cheerful when they are worried).
I’ve thought a lot about the problems a Pollyanna can face because in my latest book, A Dropped Stitches Wedding, my heroine, Lizabett MacDonald, is one. Even when she had cancer (before the book begins), she thought things would be okay. Lizabett is the one person in the Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches who steadfastly believes that good things will come. No matter what happens she sees the glass as halfway full.
How about you? Would you call yourself a Pollyanna? Or a realist? Or a dreamer perhaps? Leave me a comment and let me know. And, if you are a Pollyanna, try to think of one problem this has caused in your life.

 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hi, Debra Clopton here with a big smile :)



We Love Inspired Authors just had discussion on line about posting our name at the top of our post so everyone would know when you first log on who is writing the blog...(we also discussed using pictures of ourselves if we didn't have a picture of something interesting to share) so as you can tell I didn't have an interesting picture to share so you get my photo instead :)


I loved Carolyne's beautiful snow covered photo on the previous post but I have to tell you that I'm getting excited, spring is coming here in Texas and that's my kind of weather! I just get excited thinking about it. God made me a warm weather girl and though I'm looking at Carolyne's beautiful snow covered sunrise and feeling a lovely sense of peace at how pretty it is, I'm also looking at it and thinking that I'm thankful that I'm a Texan. Boy we have some beautiful weather down here and I'm so looking forward to writing and roving this spring and summer.
As winter is leaving and the sun is coming out I feel a sense of newness and hope--soooo bring on the sun, Lord--I'm ready!
Also, I have several Love Inspired books coming out over the spring and summer too--so I'm thrilled and smiling about that and hope that as readers pick them up I'm able to pass along a sense of that good old Texas warmth. To find a post on my first book of the summer TEXAS RANGER DAD drop over to my site www.debraclopton.blogspot.com
Have a great day everyone!


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