Monday, May 30, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
So many belongings, so little time to sort, and box, and label for storage. Because if I’m ever to find anything before I have a chance to unpack once I move into our newer, bigger home, I have to know where it is. You never know when you’ll have to glance through an old contract, or need to find a certain research book. I’ll be able to find it at moment’s notice and save time if I’m organized, right?
So how can you incorporate organizational skills into writing? Easily. Keep detailed spreadsheets for each manuscript. I do one for each character complete with a photograph of what they look like. One is for the all the character names, no matter how brief they appear, and how they relate to our main characters. I also keep track of local businesses and who owns them as they appear in the story and I keep a time line and an outline for each chapter along with page numbers and chapter lengths.
My newest release, Home Sweet Home, deals with renovating an old Victorian house, so I kept a chart on each room in the house and the progress of the renovations as they occurred. So each time I needed to refer back to something, it was easier to page through spreadsheets than the actual manuscript. I also created an ancestry line for my heroine to keep track of marriage, birth and death dates, which coincided with the building of the original house.
Since time is a premium for me, having everything I needed at my fingertips made me more productive with the minutes I had to write. I work full-time, have two elementary school kids and managed to write Home Sweet Home in under three months. Call me anal, but it works for me. It might just work for you, too.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
My newest Love Inspired Suspense called Protecting Her Own is the second in Guardians, Inc. series. I have gotten a lot of mail from readers who are enjoying the series which portrays strong women in situations where they are the protector. But each one has her problems, too. Cara can't forgive her father for trying to control her life and yet so much of her life she spent trying to prove herself to him. It takes her coming home to take care of him after he had a stroke to discover some truths that she had been fighting for years. As she tries to keep him alive, their relationship changes.
Cara is a strong woman. She can protect herself in many dangerous situations, but when it comes to the matters of the heart she flounders. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. That is what is interesting when I develop a character for a story--trying to show both of those sides to a character.
It is also interesting when you take a good hard look at yourself. One of my weaknesses is my learning disability. I didn't start talking about that to others until I was much older. I spent my earlier years trying to hide it from others. When I started teaching high school students with learning disabilities, I wouldn't let them get away with giving up. I told them about my struggles to learn to read in elementary school. I didn't give up and did go on to college to become a teacher (even earned my masters). The road isn't easy but it is possible for them if they have the determination. I also knew personally things they could do to compensate for their weak area. I have to every day, even now.
So when you look at a person you think is strong, remember that person has weaknesses like everyone else. We are all humans with strengths and weaknesses. It is what we do with them that makes a person thinks someone is strong or weak.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Yes, it’s true. I did NOT know that you can now give Kindle ebooks to people!
All you need to do is enter their email address. The person you’re giving the Kindle ebook to doesn’t even have to own a Kindle! They can receive the book and read it on their computer or iPad. However, they can’t read it on any other ereader device like the Nook or Sony.
(Barnes and Noble, you are failing me. When can I give Nook ebooks to people????)
My first Love Inspired Suspense, Deadly Intent, has been out of print—or rather, off the shelves. The ebook version is still available, but I don’t have any more print copies to give away.
But now I can give away ebook copies!!! Yay!!!!
So on my Street Team Book List, I have now added Deadly Intent, Kindle version, so that anyone who wants one can pick that book. I can just get their email address and give my wonderful Street Team member a copy of Deadly Intent via email!
I know lots of you prefer print books, but I have to admit that reading a book on a Nook or Kindle is pretty much the same thing. I still get lost in the book and don’t notice the carrots burning. Also, you can shove an ereader into a plastic ziplok bag and take it into the tub with you for a bubble bath. :)
And yes, I have accidentally dropped a book I was reading into the tub. It was a horrible experience that will scar me for life because I tend to be really careful with my books. I don’t like to crease them if I can help it.
I will read used books and library books, but I don’t really like it that much. I prefer new books. And Nookbooks and Kindle books never have a funny smell from the pages (like cigarettes or wet dog or body odor or mold) nor do they have dog-eared pages or nasty unidentifiable stains on the covers that feel unpleasant as I hold the book.
Yes, I am a freak. But especially stains and smells from a used book will drive me NUTS. I can’t even enjoy the book. I think that is why I’ve been so gung-ho on the entire ebook thing. Ereaders are as clean as you keep them, and books never have smells or stains.
Okay, I went off target, sorry. Anyway, I am SO thrilled to be able to give the Kindle version of Deadly Intent! Naomi is one of my favorite characters. Although I think her sister Monica (whose book is coming out in Spring 2012, Stalker in the Shadows) might be a close second.
So, weigh in! Do you mind used books? Would you rather receive a Kindle book or a used print book?
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous contemporary romance Sushi series and her romantic suspense, Formula for Danger. 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 ponders dogs, knitting and spinning wool, running, Asiana, and other frivolous things. Sign up for her quarterly newsletter for giveaways!
Click here to find out how you can join Camy's Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!
Friday, May 20, 2011
I had a different blog all prepared for posting today, but then got a call from my son last night and had to change it. He’s a U.S. Marine and called to tell us he was just promoted to sergeant. Believe me, I am one proud mama.
In reflecting back on my son’s life, I realize he was born a Marine. His favorite hymn has always been Onward Christian Soldiers. He’s a wonderful husband and father. I’m so grateful I get to be his mom.
Most of you already know my daughter is getting married next month. I can hardly believe I get to witness that day. When she was just seven years old, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She is now less than 1% survivorship in the WORLD for her type of brain tumor. Truly the Lord has been good to us.
AND…I have a new book out this month titled The Forest Ranger’s Promise. You can also look for my next book titled The Forest Ranger’s Husband to be released November 2011.
Talk about blessings from Heaven. My heart is very full right now. There is a hymn titled Count Your Blessings, written in the 1800’s. The lyrics begin: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Do you ever get discouraged and count your blessings to remind you how good the Lord is to you? What blessings are you grateful for this month? I wish each of you all the happiness this world can offer and hope you have too many blessings for you to count. :)
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Ever since my children were little I wanted a play center for them. Something they could climb up and slide down and in general be busy enough with to let me get a few things done. But finances and time conspired against us and them and they had to content themselves with a large metal swing set my husband made out of leftover pipe stem. It worked and was used endlessly. That and the tractor tire sandbox. Then for awhile, the swings lay still until the grandchildren came. They love the swing set and can spend hours being pushed back and forth. But now we have a bit more money and a bit more time and, well, it's grandchildren, right? So off I go to our local Ag Center in the hamlet and order a play center. Then my husband and I spent an entire day putting it together. It got finished tonight after the grandchildren were in bed and tomorrow they can climb and slide and swing and play. And maybe I can get a few things done, though I doubt I will try. It's too much fun watching the grandchildren playing. Something else I didn't always have a lot of time to do when my children were little.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
What I mean by fantasies are stories set on distant worlds. Stories of love and betrayal, danger and desperation.
Oh, they're clean, yes. I'm not writing that kind of fantasy! All of them together are like a big novel, but they're separate stories. I wrote most of them years ago, and had considered them lost when my computer died years ago. Then, searching through an old file box, I found badly mangled and edited with red pen copies of some of them. I was stunned, and a bit excited.
They were total world building. One editor criticized them once saying that in terms of astrophysics, they couldn't exist. And being intimidated, I chose to tuck them away and think they were total losses.
I've dug them out and I still love them. Distant worlds where races struggle, sometimes to get along, sometimes to survive, races with unique abilities and beliefs, living on lush distant planets, they were so much fun to write.
Sometimes we need to write that crazy story, that silly song, that foolish poem.
Will they get read? Will they ever get bought? Who knows? But to delve into a world where planets eclipse each other and races must set aside differences in order to survive, I do realize one thing. They're really about people, looking for love, and acceptance.
I don't believe in aliens. But I do believe in the power of love.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Hi, from Sandra Robbins. The last time I blogged I told you about my trip two years ago to Ocracoke Island that resulted in my writing a book set on the island. This small piece of land, twenty-five miles off the coast of North Carolina, seemed the perfect place to set a book. I was thrilled when it was contracted by Love Inspired Suspense.
Dangerous Reunion is set to release in July, and I’m already getting excited. The book tells the story of Kate Michaels, a deputy sheriff on the small island. Kate is happy with her job and taking care of her two sisters until Brock Gentry, the man who broke their engagement six years before, shows up on the island. Brock, a police detective in Nashville, has sought sanctuary on Ocracoke after being torn apart by a case. But there is a killer on the island, and he has targeted Kate. When she turns to Brock for help, they discover their reunion is more dangerous than either could have ever believed.
After writing Kate and Brock’s story, I knew there were other stories from Ocracoke to be told. It wasn’t long before I was busy creating the story of Kate’s long-lost brother Scott who joins his sisters on Ocracoke. Shattered Identity releases in February, 2012, and tells the story of Scott and Lisa Wade as they try to unravel a mystery that has been buried on the island for twenty-five years.
The third book in the series, Fatal Disclosure, will follow later in 2012. Betsy Michaels, Kate and Scott’s younger sister, is the heroine who can’t believe her life is in danger from smugglers on the island. The handsome undercover DEA agent Mark Webber is determined no harm will come to Betsy as he brings down a drug ring responsible for his partner’s death.
The characters and their stories have become so real to me as I’ve written these books. As I write about the island lighthouse or recall the stories told about Blackbeard the Pirate’s death just off shore, I find myself reliving the time I spent there. Thoughts of the gnarled oaks and the quiet streets of the village make me wish I could return for another visit. I just might do that.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Welcome to my world. Being from Michigan, I find weather an adventure, and when I'm trying to work on a novel--especially one set in the spring of the year--the inspiration is appreciated. We've looked too long at snow, cold temperatures, and rain. But the Lord smiled down on us, and spring arrived just in time to inspire me for a new novel proposal set in Holland, Michigan around the time of their renown Tulip Festival.
One thing that inspires me is the magnolia tree outside my office window. The large pink and white blooms take my breath away and I enjoy seeing the many birds who perch on the branches -- cardinals, robins, sparrows, and others -- and listneing to them sing and even tap on my window sill.
I realized the other day that I often set novel openings during the spring. I suppose it's because spring inspires a blossoming romance.
My November release will be different, however, opening in autumn close to Christmas since this will be a Christmas 2-in-1 with Brenda Minton. My short novel, Small Town Christmas will be in the duet book, Christmas Gifts. I hope you enjoy the autumn/winter setting.
But before the November release, I hope you look for the second book in the Dreams Come True series, A Family of Their Own released in September. This book will be Kelsey's story followed next spring by Ava's story. This will be the third and final book in the series which I've called A Dream Of His Own. (That title could change.)
As I said, welcome to my world and my spring garden. I've been busy planting flowers while trying to write, but it's spring and I'm inspired. And note I have a great bargain at my house. Read the little sign in the photo. : )
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
With the release of THE OFFICER’S SECRET, the first book in my Military Investigations Series, my mind has been on my Army roots and Fort Knox, Kentucky, where I met and married my hubby.
Tomorrow I’ll be on eHarlequin.com with a blog on The Story Behind the Story, and as I was researching some military facts, I stumbled upon the history of Fort Knox. The Army post was established in April, 1916, in anticipation of our country’s entry into World War I. The first soldiers were housed in a tent city in West Point, Kentucky, while construction began nearby in the small town of Stithton.
The history, found on the Fort Knox web site at http://www.knox.army.mil/history.asp, mentions the following account: “The land at Stithton was soon acquisitioned by the Army and more land was acquired from Bullitt and Meade Counties. Many of the houses in the town of Stithton were used for the Army’s purposes. Modest Victorian architecture once occupied by Stithton residents became homes used by Army officers and their families.”
One of the homes I lived in on post had been built later in the 1930s when Fort Knox was being expanded and looks somewhat like the brick quarters featured on my cover. Because the home was old, I often thought about the many families that had lived there over the years.
“If only the walls could talk,” I often mused. “What secrets would they reveal?” That question plays into my story and the quarters do, as well.
The Fort Knox web site explains that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, in Stithton, became the Main Post Chapel and is the oldest building on post. Hubby and I were married in the Post Chapel, which brought back memories of our wedding and starting our new life together.
In THE OFFICER’S SECRET, Special Agent Nate Patterson, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, investigates the death of Maggie Bennett’s army officer sister and ends up in love with the family counselor from Alabama. But before the investigation can be put to rest and Maggie and Nate can find their happily ever after, the past must be revealed and healed.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…
A writer uses anything and everything to build a story.
What memories from the past play an important role in the way you live your life today?
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Friday, May 6, 2011
Here are a list of links to take you to fun family memories, shared this week by Love Inspired Authors, Leann Harris, Lenora Worth, Missy Tippens, Janet Tronstad, Jillian Hart, readers and I posted them all in honor of our mothers and for Mother's Day.
First off on the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog, Leann Harris recalls some mom bad hair day memories
Then on the Craftie Ladies of Suspense blog, Lenora Worth ponders "Does Motherhood Lead to Danger and Suspense?"
Over at www.eharlequin.com, Missy Tippens, Jillian Hart and Janet Tronstad share humorous family stories also with my Grandma Fastbinder’s Naughty Love Affair with Limburger Cheese.
And finally on my own blog, I relate a story on my son, titled "Death by Painting."
If you missed these and need a smile, click and read. You'll be glad you did!
BTW, I'm hosting my third annual MEGA MAY on my blog all month. At the end of the month anyone leaving a comment will be entered into a drawing for a HUGE gift basket of books. So drop by "Strong Women, Brave Stories" and leave a comment. You might win!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Hi, all! Charlotte Carter here. Yes, I know Easter has passed and we’re working up to Memorial Day. Even so, I wanted to share a special Easter tradition with you.
My daughter and her family are active members of Rolling Hills Covenant Church in Rolling Hills, CA. This church produces an incredible Easter program each year — Pageant of Our Lord. (It’s much like Pageant of the Masters produced in Laguna Beach but with a Biblical message.)
Accompanied by a talented orchestra and superb choir, life-size master paintings and sculptures are revealed on the stage. The catch is that the characters in the painting or sculpture are REAL people. With special lighting and appropriate body makeup, it’s impossible to tell which part of a painting is a ‘real’ person and which is not. The characters are so still, they don’t even breathe.
This year my daughter directed portions of the show and her husband and oldest son were characters on stage for an incredible SEVENTEEN performances over the course of three weeks.
The church doesn’t allow photography of the show, but there is a video of the 2010 performance I think you will enjoy:
The depiction of the Lord’s Supper is the highlight of the program.
What special Easter activity do you enjoy at your church?
Books that leave you smiling from Love Inspired:
Big Sky Reunion, available now
Big Sky Family, 11/2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up each day looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!
Now back to the contest. Since I won’t be blogging here again until July, I want to tell you, our faithful Love Inspired readers about the contest now so you don’t miss the chance to enter. In addition to giving away signed copies of Behind the Badge, I am also giving away a $50 Amazon gift card.
That’s right. $50 for you to purchase all of those books you have been longing to read but have been unable to afford. So hop on over to my website at this link, answer the easy question from my bio below and you will be entered for your chance to win the gift card and my latest book.
QUESTION: What book review website does Susan host?
Here’s a little bit about Behind the Badge.
A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker’s sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn’t have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?
The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com. Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Sign up for her newsletter for learn about her latest releases and monthly contests. And if you’re on Facebook be sure to stop by Susan Sleeman Books, and follow Susan on Twitter.