Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Conferences

L to R:  Debby Giusti, Missy Tippens, Michael Hauge,
and Janet Dean at ACFW

by Debby Giusti

Writing is a solitary business, but each fall two conferences – held only two weeks apart – pull me away from my computer and allow me to interact with others. On September 16, I flew to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. The Friday to Monday event was packed with workshops on craft and technique and provided numerous opportunities to learn how experts create their stories.

Hollywood Screenwriting Guru Michael Hauge gave a two-day class on Plot Structure. Initially he worked with screenwriters to help them enhance their scripts. A few years ago, he began speaking to writers groups and soon realized the same techniques apply to full-length fiction. Using examples from movies, Hauge described the six stages that take a character from his or her ordinary world through a series of escalating complications, which result in changing the hero or heroine, to an exciting climax where the lead character faces his biggest obstacle. In the end, the character is a new and hopefully better person because of what he experienced.

Interestingly, Mr. Hauge is also presenting at the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, which I will be attending this upcoming weekend. No doubt, he’ll provide even more information for me to absorb and apply to my own writing.

L to R: Seekers Cheryl Wyatt, Janet Dean, Missy Tippens, Audra
Harders, Steeple Hill Assistant Editor, Emily Rodmell, Debby Giusti,
Glynna Kaye and Myra Johnson at ACFW.

The highlight of both conferences is reconnecting with friends. Many of the Seekers – 15 of us began as a group of online friends all working toward publication…for the last three years we’ve blogged about our experiences (http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/) and celebrated when doors opened and our books sold—were at the ACFW conference so it was especially wonderful to get together with them. The Georgia writers are a warm and welcoming group, and I’m excited about seeing many dear friends this weekend as well.

I’ll return home on Monday and head back to my computer. Hopefully, my writing will benefit from the workshops I’ve attended. I know I’ll have wonderful memories of the friends I cherish that will carry me through a winter of writing.

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti
Visit Seekerville (http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/) for our October Birthday Bash. Great blog interviews, lots of fun and giveaways, including a Kindle loaded with Seeker books!

Monday, September 27, 2010

New TV shows

September and October are the months for the new TV shows to come on and for us to decide which one we like and don't like. I have a show I've been watching called The Glades that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I love the characterization of the police detective in this series. He is very good at his job, but when it comes to the woman he is interested in, he's not sure what to do. Actually the show started in August but this is one I've enjoyed among the new crop of shows this year.

Another show that has potential is The Event. These kinds of shows can be really interesting if handled well--like Lost and Flashforward. You have to watch it each week because each week it builds on a continuing story. Is there a new show you think will be a keeper this year?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Leann Harris here. I just came back from speaking to a group of 2nd and 4th grades on what I do--my job as a writer. It was wonderful to see a auditorium full of eager young minds. I told them about making up stories. Of course I took my last book, but I also took my son's favorite book when he was in the sixth grade. HANK THE COWDOG is a charming and fun read. It's told from the dog's pv. And when I asked them who was talking, they knew.

I also pointed out to the kids that when they closed the book, those characters stopped and waited for the reader to come back and start reading again. TV isn't like that and if you leave the room for something to eat the show could start without them.

The kids asked a lot of good questions. Where did I get my ideas? How did I get my mind to work when I didn't have an idea. The kids also drew me thank you cards. I had a great time, talking to all those wonderful, eager faces.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumnal Equinox

This is Merrillee, reporting that for those who live in the Eastern Time Zone in the United States, the autumnal equinox will be tonight at 11:09 PM. It will occur at 3:09 AM Coordinated Universal Time on September 23. That means tomorrow will be the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. The coordinated movement of the sun, stars and planets in the universe shows the way God set everything in motion and how it continues year to year. In my Community Bible Study classes this year, we are studying Genesis. We read how God made order out of chaos, and His world continues with that order centuries later.

I like what Jeremiah 31:35 says: "This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name:"

If you are at the Equator at the time of the either the vernal or fall equinox, day and night are almost equal in length. Here are a few photos of sunrises and sunsets. You'll notice there are a lot more sunsets than sunrises. Does that tell you I'm not a morning person?


In this photo the sun hasn't quite made it's appearance over the Atlantic Ocean.

Here the sun has just appeared over the horizon as the waves wash onto the beach.


This is a sunset taken from a Jamaican beach.

This photo was taken from Negril in Jamaica.

This is a sunset looking over the dunes close to my home.

This photo was taken from my brother's back porch near Spokane, Washington.

God made some wondrous beauty when he set the world in motion with His perfect timing. In the northern hemisphere fall arrives at this time of year. Spring starts for those in the southern hemisphere.

What is your favorite season of the year?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. at last.

Pat Davids here.

I went to a wedding last Saturday. It wasn’t just any wedding. It was unconventional, and it was the wedding that I have been waiting thirty-five years to attend. My daughter got married.
This is her family. I wish I has some wedding pictures to share, but I haven't gotten my copies yet.

Now, I know some of you are mothers and grandmothers so you will understand when I tell you that I have only been happier than I was Saturday three times in my life. Once when my daughter was born, once when my grandson, Joshua, was born and again when his sister, Shantel, was born.

All brides are beautiful, but even as a writer I can’t begin to describe how radiant my girl looked as she came down the aisle on her daddy’s arm. Even as I’m writing this post I’m getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

I’ll bet you think I was the one crying at the ceremony, don’t you?
Nope. I did not. I smiled so much my face hurt, but I didn’t cry.
You know who was crying?
Not the bride.
Not the groom.
Not my husband.
Not my mother.
Not even the groom’s mother.

The one who was crying pure tears of joy was my daughter’s little girl. For Shantel, it was more than a dream come true. It was all her wishes rolled into one.

You see, my Kathy and Tony have been together for ten years. Shantel is nine and that child was happier and more excited than all the rest of us put together when her daddy finally married her mother.

She made a beautiful flower girl. She walked down the aisle proudly with the ring bearer at her side--Duchess, the family dog. Did I mention my daughter and Tony were unconventional?
They are, but they are finally husband and wife in the sight of God and what He has joined together let no man put asunder.

This momma is so happy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's a Small World after All?

Hi...Stephanie Newton here.  My husband arrived home from Tanzania, Africa this week after a 27 hour trip home.  He and a 17 member team from our church spent a couple of weeks on a mission trip there at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro.  They had an amazing trip, beginning construction on a new school and building relationships and wells, hosting a basketball camp and VBS for kids, among other things.

My 14 year old daughter wanted to go so badly.  She has a heart for people and for missions and watching her dad leave without her was tough.  So while he was away, we spent some time talking about things that we could do to help people here and overseas without ever leaving home.  Here are a few of our ideas...
  • Give the gift of food through Heifer International. (I, of course, began teasing her that she was getting a goat for Christmas)
  • Buy yourself a cool bag and feed children around the world through FEED Projects.  My daughter bought an awesome reversible burlap bag, which will feed one child in Africa lunch for a year.  It's a remarkably small price to pay and a child who is hungry gets at least one meal a day.
  • Use coupons and stockpile.  Take your extra items to the homeless or battered women's shelter in your area.  Or collect inexpensive items to make health kits which can be sent to people who need them by various mission organizations like this one or this one.
  • Donate $10 to Nothing but Nets to help fight malaria in Africa.
  • Write letters to people who are alone...shut-ins, soldiers, etc
We came up with lots more ideas...most involved buying something cool, like coffee (my idea) or T-shirts (hers).  But there are some ideas like writing letters or volunteering time that don't take money to make a difference in someone's life.  I know that all of you have lots of ideas from your own areas and churches.  Would you share some of the things that you do to help, even when you can't travel around the world?


Stephanie Newton lives in Northwest Florida with her husband and two teenagers.  Look for Holiday Havoc, the next book in the Emerald Coast 911 series, in retail stores in November.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lyn Cote here-Have You Read a Roxanne Rustand Love Inspired?

Final Exposure (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense) (Big Sky Secrets, #1)Final Exposure by Roxanne Rustand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just finished Roxanne Rustand's Final Exposure, a Love Inspired Suspense novel. I loved her characters. It's the classic story of a wounded hero, a caring heroine and a little boy lost. Oh, and toss in a big white puppy! On the other side of the coin, a mystery from the past and red herrings abound in this story of romantic suspense that will keep you reading and pay off with a big surprise at the end!

View all my reviews

BTW, the first book, Shelter of Hope, in my New Friends Street series, set in my home state Wisconsin, for Love Inspired Romance is out this month!
Shelter of Hope

The House that Love Built--

Struggling single mother Rosa Santos is deeply touched when volunteers band together to build her a home. With a waitressing job, community college and church, Rosa barely has time to help, let alone dream about a husband and father figure. But when handsome volunteer Marc Chambers hands her withdrawn young son a little hammer, her heart swells. Suddenly, her son is blossoming. But the closer she and Marc get, the more he pulls away. Why? He's built her a shelter of hope.

One she—and her son—pray he'll take refuge within….

If you want to read more, click the cover above and it will take you to eharlequin where you can read the first chapter and purchase it.
Lyn Cote
Strong Women, Brave Stories

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cures for a Sagging Middle

Kim Watters here. Okay, I’m depressed. You know, that mind numbing depression you face when you stare at that manuscript after you’ve ditched yet another pair of too-tight pants that are now lying in a pile on the floor. Finally I realize that I’ve hit that road bump of midlife, and in a writer’s life, I have a sagging middle.

How did this happen?

For my body, all it took was a few years at a desk job and a healthy appetite for sweets. For my book, all it took was a lack of conflict. Sigh. Okay so it took a bit longer for my body to decide to rebel than my characters, but still. I mean, come on. It didn’t have to happen this way but I have no excuse. No thyroid issues to blame it on. The blood tests came back normal. Nope. Just the daily inactivity of sitting in front of a keyboard and trying to achieve that happily-ever-after without an outline or game plan.

So after I slip on a pair of comfy sweats, I realize I need to take action. Real action. Like starting an exercise routine, or gasp, going on a diet. Fortunately for me, the sagging middle of the manuscript is going to be an easier task to face.

This one won’t require expending an enormous amount of energy or sweating from places I didn’t even know had sweat glands or snubbing that last spoonful of ice cream left in the scooper after I dish out some for the kids. Nope, fixing the manuscript is just going to involve massive amounts of brain energy and some more computer time, which is what got me in trouble in the first place. (We won’t talk about the chocolate, though.)

So if I need a workout, then maybe it’s time to put my characters through the wringer too.

While I’m out for a jog–I really don’t like to run,–I can mentally add a new dimension or depth to my characters and force them to grow and change by throwing another obstacle at them. If I can work hard at my goal, so can they.

While I’m doing stomach crunches, which I hate by the way, I can twist the plot into a different direction that forces my characters to make different choices. For me and my own plot direction with the dreaded diet, that might be whether or not I allow a piece of chocolate or a slice of French Silk Pie into my mouth or a stick of celery.

Or I can tape a picture of that skinny pair of pants to the front of the refrigerator, which would serve as a constant reminder of my goal and strengthen the conflict within just as I can strengthen the conflict between my characters by revisiting their goals and motivations.

I’m determined to get rid of both my sagging middles. So what’s stopping me? Nothing.

Watch out. That woman sprinting down the street with a picture dangling in front of her while she’s doing stomach crunches to boot is about to kill someone. Fortunately it’s only in her mind.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christmas in October? From Marta Perry

My latest story in The Bodine Family series, The Bodine Family Christmas, is coming out in October in a Love Inspired Christmas novella collection, Mistletoe Prayers. I'm so delighted to be partnering with Betsy St. Amant in Mistletoe Prayers. Her novella is The Gingerbread Season, and if you're ready to get into the spirit of Christmas a little early, I hope you'll look for it.

The Bodine Family Christmas is set, like all the Bodine books, in the Charleston, South Carolina area. I was delighted to have the opportunity to write a Christmas book there, since we always make our move south before Christmas, and I've had many happy Christmases in the Low Country. Most of the Christmas traditions mentioned in the story are ones in which we've participated, and the Living Nativity is based upon one held on Sullivan's Island, in which two of my granddaughters make appearances as angels each year!

The Bodine Family Christmas features Annabel Bodine, twin sister of the heroine of Book 2, Heart of the Matter. I hinted in that story that Annabel had a sad romance in her background, so I was able to use that to bring about this story. Here's a bit about it:

Left at the altar on Christmas Eve, Annable Bodine has lost her holiday spirit. When her big brother brings home handsome Coast Guard buddy Travis McCall, can she summon the courage to open her heart to love for the holidays--and maybe for a lifetime?

I hope you'll enjoy my story, and that it will make you think of your own Christmas traditions!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CSI:Miami and my romantic suspense novel

Camy here! My latest romantic suspense, Formula for Danger, releases from Love Inspired Suspense this month!

I don’t think this will spoil the story for you, but near the ending is a scene where the villain is trying to kill my heroine, Rachel Grant. I actually got the idea for this dastardly deed from watching CSI:Miami on TV! LOL

In the CSI:Miami episode, a girl (who was actually not a very nice person and was getting away with a large sum of money) got carjacked on her escape out of Miami. She woke up sitting in the driver’s seat in her car, and her car was on the edge of a huge, remote Florida swamp, facing the water. Her hands were duct-taped to the steering wheel.

Someone pushed her car down the edge of the embankment into the swamp, and of course, she started screaming because she was taped to the wheel. (Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not sure why she didn’t hit the brakes when the villain was pushing her car into the swamp. Maybe what actually happened in the episode was that she woke up after she’d already been pushed into the swamp and the car was sinking. I don’t quite remember.) Anyway, the car sinks and she drowns. (I apologize if that’s a bit gruesome for some of you.)

My husband mentioned that she should have used her teeth to tear through the duct tape, which I thought was a good point. He said that he would have duct-taped her mouth so she couldn’t do that.

I started thinking that this was a really neat way for the villain in my story to try to kill the heroine, except naturally she escapes and lives to get him arrested! :) But I also wanted my villain to be a smart villain, so I had him duct-tape her mouth.

Then I had to figure out how she’d escape with her mouth duct-taped. I’m afraid you’ll have to read Formula for Danger to find out how I did that. :)

Does anyone remember which season and episode of CSI:Miami it was where that car drowning scene was in? For the life of me I can’t remember!

I hope you enjoy reading Formula for Danger!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous contemporary romance novel, Single Sashimi, and her romantic suspense, Formula for Danger, releases in September. 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 newsletter YahooGroup for giveways!

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cover Art

Hi there! This is Renee Ryan and I’m excited to blog here today. I’ve decided to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind lately. Cover art. You have no idea how many questions I get about my Love Inspired covers, mainly from people wondering how much control I have over the final product. The answer is simple: It depends.

Here’s the process, from this author’s standpoint. About a year before one of my books hits the shelves I receive an email from my editor telling me it’s time to fill out the Art Fact Sheet (AFS) for the book. That means I have to go a Web site hosted by the publisher and answer a bunch of questions about the story.

Incidentally, this is the time when I’m asked to send in alternative titles for the book. Case in point. My current release started out as DEADLY ALLIANCE. Twenty-five or so suggestions later, my editor and I agreed on DANGEROUS ALLIES. Although both evoke the same tone, I like the new title better.

Okay, back to the cover art process. Like I said before, I go to a special Web site and begin answering questions about my story. The questions fall under several categories, such as: Characters, Scenes, and Synopsis, as well as a detailed page with basic questions surrounding theme, story hooks, date, setting, story timeline, etc. The character questions range from superficial things such as physical traits to deeper issues such as psychological wounds. The synopsis is basically a short and sweet summary of the story, something I would tell a friend at a party or sitting in the stands at a football game.

Most of the above is both easy and fun. However, I find the section about scene description very difficult. The publisher wants three very distinct, yet detailed scene descriptions. This should be easy for me. I love putting my setting in my books. But knowing that a real artist will be using my words to create a picture suddenly makes the ideas freeze in my head. That’s why I love the last and final portion of my job in the cover art process—creating a separate file of the images I think best evoke the mood of my story. I get to cruise the Internet looking for pictures of my hero and heroine, as well as possible scenes or other similar book covers I think will work for my book as well (in terms of overall tone).

This final component really makes the story come alive for me in my head. It’s so effective that I now try to capture many of those types of images before I start writing a book rather than after.

I spent the most time on this phase for my current release. The final product is my best cover yet. Well, in my opinion, anyway. In case you’re wondering, some of the images I chose for this book were pictures of Rita Hayworth and Daniel Craig (the current James Bond), as well as movie posters from Gilda, The Black Book and Casablanca. What do you think of the cover for DANGEROUS ALLIES? The story is set in 1939 Nazi Germany. Did the art department get it right, or what?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

And a little child shall lead them

Carolyne Aarsen here. My husband and I went on a hiking trip in the mountains this summer. Amazing, wonderful, awe inspiring. As a writer I should be able to come up with the right words for the experience but words are too small for what we saw and did. We hiked up mountains and saw vistas that are reserved for eagles and mountain goats (which we also saw). I went up mountainsides that I would never have dared hike up before. I have a fear of heights and my husband has tried to take me places that I'm not comfortable and suffered the consequences. (panic, fear and anger - not a pretty combination). In fact, even on this trip, I turned around on the hike we did on the first day because I was getting well past my comfort zone in terms of scaling heights. But on the second day that all changed. The second day my brother and sister in law decided to take their four year old grandson along on a hike we were going to do. I figured I would go along because, hey, how hard could a hike be that a four year old can go on. Actually, I found out, very hard. Very scary. And challenging. Thankfully my husband was along to pack along the four year old through the hard stuff but as for me, I had to go it alone. There were times I was genuinely frightened and wondering what I had gotten myself in to. However, what kept me going was the fact that a little four year old boy so easily marched along and then got help during the hard parts. I know there could be some type of metaphor here - when we can't go it alone God carries us - and that metaphor is true. But what I also learned is that fear is really subjective. I knew so much about what could happen if I fell down. If I made one wrong step. If I got too dizzy. That little boy just walked along supremely confident that his grandparents would not lead him wrong as he walked along paths normally reserved for mountain goats along the edge of a mountain that fell away for over a thousand feet. He just kept on going. (though I have to say I was wondering at their expectations of the little lad ). But he did it. And with him in front of me, could I do any less? Nope. And I pushed myself well beyond my comfort zone all because I didn't want to say that a four year old went where I didn't dare. Shame is a great motivator at times. So is guilt. And fear. Thanks to those motivators, though, I went places I would never dared go and saw things I would never have seen had I stayed safely in camp. So I was glad he came along. If only to push me past my comfort zone with the prod of shame.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This is Barbara Phinney, blogging about the year of the rejection. It's kind of like a Chinese new year, but without the assigned animal.Yes, as you can imagine, I've received a few rejections. So I have done what every writer worth her mettle does. I keep on writing. And worrying. With two children in college and a husband just laid off, and the heating system needing an overhaul, you can imagine how much I'd like another contract.
But I've also experienced something else.
I was given a lovely daily devotional, and in it, on the first day I sat down outside to read it over a cup of coffee, it read,
"See not the small trials of each hour..."
The next day, it read,
"Trust in me absolutely."
Then, today, whilst at our church school helping out, our devotional was in John 15, but instead, my eyes fell onto John 14:27:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
So, do you think God's trying to tell me something?Yeah, I do, too. God usually needs a bolt of lightning to get my attention, but this is less painful, I think.
So I've tried to set my worries aside. But one question remains. Do I sit and wait for something miraculous to happen? Do I wait like that fool in the flood, sitting atop his house as rescuers pass by, and declining all of them?
I am still writing. I am still submitting, but I know it will be in God's time. I know that He will see me through this rough patch. And of course, I would like to know the plans He has for me.
But trust, that one thing around which most of our stories are centered, is something I'm learning.
Have any of you seen God telling you something? Have you had to sit back and wait? How long have you had to wait?
I'm praying that your day is filled with peace, trust and love, all from God.Barbara Phinney

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Mom Moment

Hello there! Dana Corbit here. I'm feeling a little sad this morning as I sit at a table in my favorite Biggby coffee shop. I had another one of those "Mom Moments" today as I sent my girls off to the first day of school. (Here in Michigan we start really late.) Anyway, we've all had "Mom Moments," right? The day we put our first or last kindergartner on the bus. The day we walk past Santa at the mall and realize that we no longer have anyone at home young enough to want to scramble up in the Jolly Old Elf's lap. At our house today was our LAST first day of school when I could force all three girls to mug together for the annual picture. Yes, we're THOSE parents who insist on recording these moments for posterity. This one is especially poignant. Next year the first will be off at college - probably thrilled that she won't have to be in a picture - and my husband and I will be telling the remaining two will pretend to like each other for the photo. All I can say is I'm glad I only had a minute to shoot these photos this morning before two had to drive off together and the other had to catch the bus because even now my eyes are burning and my nose is threatening to drip right here in front of the other coffee drinkers and wireless Internet surfers. How did this happen? What happened to my sweet little girls who ran along the beach in their matching red-and-white swimsuits, one still wearing a swim diaper under it? When did playing with Polly Pockets in the basement become driving to work and soccer practice, and when did parent-tot swim class become daily swim practice to perfect the breast stroke? I know. I know. It's supposed to be this way - it's part of God's plan for them to go off and make their own lives - but did it have to happen so fast? Did we have to go from first teeth to braces to smiles in senior pictures without taking a breath? One more year. I can say that today with a sigh of relief. We have one last year to be together as a family before they start flying from the nest one by one. People tell me that when the time comes I'll be ready to push each one from the nest and say "Fly, sweetie, fly," but I'm not convinced. (Pause to wipe my nose.) Better check on me next fall. I might need some comforting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, and all across America families are celebrating. Labor Day was first observed in 1892 in New York and became a federal holiday two years later in 1894. Today most Americans celebrate it as the end of summer.

The first Labor Day was celebrated with a huge parade in New York, but things have changed in America in the last 100 years. There will be no parade in my town on Labor Day. In fact, most stores and restaurants are open today. The world may be changing all the time, but there are some things in life that should remain constant. The importance of family and friends in our lives should never change.

My daughter traveled home from Texas this weekend for her high school reunion. I was thrilled to see how happy she was to be with family and to reconnect with old friends. It reminded me of something I read one time. You may travel the world and meet all kinds of wonderful people, but it's the people who grew up with you and your family who remain the most important in your life. After all, they are the only ones who know your roots and what you experienced on your way to adulthood.

So, as you celebrate today, take a moment to think of the American workers, past and present, who contributed to what our country stands for and has become. Also, don't forget the people in your life, again past and present, who have contributed to the person you are today. I hope you have a great day!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lyn Cote Here-Name the Kitties!

In the manuscript I just turned in, I have two golden tabby kittens that my heroine and her two little nieces adopt.
I need names for them. Will you help me?

What should I name them???

Drop by my blog and post your suggestions.

Deadline September 12th. I'll give a copy of my latest Love Inspired, Shelter of Hope,

to the person who names the kitties! All suggestions must be left on my blog

http://strongwomenbravestories.blogspot.com and I'm the judge! (It's my book!)

Thanks!--Lyn Cote

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If It's Tuesday It Must Be Belgium. . .

Happy September 2 from Gail Gaymer Martin at http://www.gailmartin.com/.
Many years ago, I saw a comedy film called If It's Tuesday It Must Be Beligum. The story showed typical tourists going from country to country and becoming so confused they couldn't remember where they were. Trips can be like that, and I'm afraid my summer lended itself to that kind of speed. But instead of confusion, it stimuated my mind for story ideas.

The summer flew by on a whirlwind of travel. In late June I was in St. Louis for a writer's retreat, returned home and left three days later I left for Germany where I toured with a Christian chorale singing concerts at churches all over the country. Though I have visited Germany numerous times, this trip was different. First I visited many cities in what used to be East Germany and I walked the streets where people like Bach, Wagner, and Martin Luther walked. I saw their graves and places they lived. The experience made the trip special, but the most unique part of it was singing in churches all over the country.

When we arrived home, we had three days to get ready for a handbell conference in Nashville where I played bells and heard some of the finiest handbell groups in the country. While there, I missed some workshops to do the final edits on my March 2011 novel, A Dad Of His Own. Writers can't be away for long. After being involved with two trips involving music, I asked myself why I've never written a novel focused on music. My first Steeple Hill novel, Upon A Midnight Clear, did have a music theme, but that was it. I play handbells, sing in chorales, church choir, praise team, and in a renown chorale in Detroit. So one of these days, I will dig into my thoughts and write a series focused on music.

Our granddaughter visited from Oklahoma and we took her to northern Michigan to see the Mackinac Bridge and the lovely Mackinaw Island. We took the ferry over and spent the day, enjoying the weather, the scent of fudge and watching the horses clomp past.  If you've never been there, then you should know that this island has no automobiles. People live there year-round and walk, use bikes, ride horses, or use  snowmobiles in winter.  My novel, With Christmas In His Heart, is set there, and I love the story.  So why not write another novel set on the island? I'm thinking about it.  It's one of my favorite places on earth.

After our granddaughter returned home, we enjoyed our final trip of the summer onCape Cod for a week where we celebrated our 25th anniversary. We rented a cottage which you can see behind me in this photo, and enjoyed the sun and sand. We also saw a production of Grey Gardens at the Cape Cod Playhouse, enjoyed an outdoor concert, took a day to visit Martha's Vineyard (a wonderful experience), visited glass studios, museums, lighthouses and so much more, and while I was there. . . yes, I did.  I researched the location for a novel. It's a perfect place to fall in love.

 So if you wonder where authors get their ideas, traveling is one of the best places. I keep notes of the sights, smells and sounds, collect pamphlets, maps, brochures, programs, and photographs.  If you're on Facebook, visit my profile -- Gail Gaymer Martin -- click on the photo links just below my profile picture and then go down to the sunrise photo, click on it, and you'll see lots of my Cape Cod adventure.
When you can see things like this on your travels -- a sunrise, lighthouses, sandy beaches, great churches of Germany, restaurants that serve wienerschnizel and spaeztel, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, the kites flying on the wind, carriages clomping past, ice cream cones and taffy, then it makes the cost worthwhile. Plus it inspires. And I defintely am inspired.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cheryl Wyatt Touched by a Special Reader

Cheryl Wyatt here. I had a really neat thing happen to me today. I had a reader, who has also been a friend of our family since childhood, desperately trying to get an older book from my Wings of Refuge Series that she'd been missing. I also haven't seen her since I was in elementary school. When I found out several weeks ago that she was unable to find the book anywhere, I sent her a copy since I had a few left.

For the last couple of months, I've been shopping for a good set of knives. This is something I've never had but that I've been told by those observing my cooking (thanks Camy and Danica and Kristy!) that I need. Apparently every knife I have is dull and cheap. LOL! I almost bought a set day before yesterday but something (God?) stopped me. Not only that, school just started and WOW were supplies expensive. With some other bills coming up, I decided that good knives aren't in my budget this month. Also, my husband and I decided yesterday that we were going to tighten our spending so we would have more money to donate to our new building fund for the church youth group to enjoy. So basically, I gave up on getting good knives for now.

Today my grandmother called me over to her house and told me there was a surprise waiting for me. She beamed as I walked in the door. Next thing I know she's handing me a packet and guess what was in there?

That precious reader and family friend sent me a GORGEOUS set of specialty knives. I tell you when I opened the felt box up and saw that, I just knew it was not only a gift from a thoughtful and perceptive human, it was a gift from God. I had to fight tears back at the touching gesture. So, Marie Allen, if you ever read this...THANK YOU! I will most definitely use them, though they are so pretty all I want to do is look at them. LOL! They'll make many family dinners and snacks and contribute cutery to many potlucks I'm sure as well as meals to families in crisis or brand new mothers who need to rest rather than cook for their families for a few weeks.

So, LI Blog readers, I want to know about you now. What has been your most thoughtful gift lately, either given or received? Why so?

I'd love to hear about it so please chat away!


Cheryl Wyatt