Thursday, October 25, 2012

Moved

This blog has been permanently moved to a new address and is now combined with my dear friend and cohort in writing and professional coffee drinking--Jaime Wright.

Find us at Coffee Cups & Camisoles where we aim to laugh, talk about books, and life.
Come by and leave a comment, we want to get to know you!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Historical Romance Treasures

I want to invite you all to head on over to my new shared blog with Jaime Wright at coffeecupsandcamisoles.blogspot.com

I have a free give away for Historical Romance this week! We have some new releases just out from Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, and Julie Lessman. Stop by this week for details on the give-away and feel free to lurk over coffee at Coffee Cups & Camisoles!


Coffee Cups & Camisoles is a new place for readers, writers, bookies, laughs & coffee lovers to hang out and chat. Join us and...

Coffee up!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reader's Pick

by permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net

I'm so excited to announce that following my WWCP (writer's weekend with my critique partner, Jaime Wright)--that we will be combining our blogs into one. To launch our new blog, we'll be kicking it off with a basket of free books very soon!

If you could pick your favorite historical romance books for the give away what would they be? What historical time period is your favorite? I've been writing in the 19th century, but recently I've been reading in the 18th century.

If there were warm drink surprises included in your reading extravaganza basket, what kind would they be? What's your favorite brew? I'd have to say on a cool fall evening, I'll need a hot cup of Twinings English Breakfast, decaf--I know, wimp.

Where is your favorite place to curl up with a new book, a great brew, and a thick throw?
I love to sit on the couch, snuggle with a throw next to the fire. There's nothing better.

So, be watching for further announcements about October's kick off for our new website and the chance for free historical romance book drawings. Yes, there will be two drawings. Mine, and Jaime's.

Details about the drawing to be announced closer to the date.
Watch for keywords: Coffee & Camisoles.

by permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net


So, please comment here and list the books you'd hope might be in a basket give away!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writer's Weekend Countdown

I'm trying not to think about all that I'll be missing at this year's ACFW annual conference...the worship, the keynote speaker, the food, the networking, opportunity...OH snap!

<shake self out of it>

Slurp coffee.

Breath in, breath out.

Goals? What, back to reality? Check.

Yes, my CP and I have once again decided several months ago, (Ahem, cough, could it have been after Genesis?)--not to attend the annual American Christian Fiction Writer's conference. We are planning our second annual Critique Partner Writer's Weekend--CPWW!!  You too, could attend your very first annual CPWW!

So, we are 16 days to count down and I'm feeling a little panicked. Part of the good that comes from committing to attend a conference is the forced deadline to write a one page, practice your elevator pitches, and have a synopsis ready on the off chance (dreammmming onnnnn) that an agent or editor will ask for it. Yes, the pressure pushes you outside your comfort zone. And this is good. 

But, the CPWW will be all about comfort I assure you! Coffee, chocolate, snuggles under a throw while watching a period piece, sharing recent reads, deserts, pizza, and pajamas.

So, what's to push me/us while we are zoning in comfort?

Ok, check list of goals and ideas.

1. Reread her current WIP (while drinking coffee)
2. Skim my current WIP (will need chocolate here)
3. Brainstorming session focused on mashing out the problem areas of plot, structure, character
    consistencies. (insert more coffee)
4. Bring a craft book to work with; pick a craft topic and apply it to our WIPs (over desert--pumpkin
    pie? apple?)
5. Discuss current trends in publishing. (tea time)

Intermission: watch inspiring romantic movie (Pride & Prejudice, Out of Africa, Last of the Mohicans, etc)

6. Talk about/research if we should consider spending our money on a professional edit review of
    current WIP's. (no desert, play with kids--time to pinch pennies!)
7. Review recent reads, and TBR pile. (prepare to sprinkle giggles between sips of coffee!)
8. Critique our blogs and online presence--ugh (let's go for a hike now!!)
9. Review our Genesis reviews. (ice cream? pizza?)
10. Make a timeline of goals before ACFW 2013. (binoculars please, I can't see that far ahead!)

Finale: theatre here we come--gonna see The Words.

Ok, so maybe I won't have pushed myself out of my comfort zone like at a conference--only out of my waistband! But, last year's CPWW was just the kick in the pants I needed to launch a great winter of writing. If all goes well, I hope to finish WIP #2 this winter and think about whipping WIP #1 into shape and up to my current level of craft.

Rumor has it ACFW 2013 is in Indy (Indianapolis, IN)--and I plan to attend.
Maybe I'll have to fast from coffee for the slush fund!

What goals will you shoot for if you can't attend ACFW this year?

Leave a comment (here or on Facebook) or a goal on your list and enter a drawing for free copy of Laura Frantz's new release, Love's Beckoning
Comment deadline for drawing is Sept 12, limited to continental USA.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Life As I Know It

...will never be the same.

Tonight is the last night my daughter sleeps under my roof before leaving for college. I recall the first night we brought her home from the hospital. The baby monitor was on full blast. I heard every sigh, snuffle and sneeze. I heard her uneven newborn breaths as her lungs were still adjusting to life in this new world. Just when I thought she wasn't breathing, then the hiccoughing sounds of rapid succession of air into her tiny lungs gave me a sense of relief. I dozed fitfully through the night, hypervigilant for any irregularity or problem.There was so much we didn't know, so much we could never foresee. No baby book can tell you all you need to know.

At a certain point it's just time to jump in. To take a step forward. To jump off the cliff of tight control. Sure there is the security of a good routine, but usually it's false because life can change at any moment. A sudden fever, vomit in the van, yellow poo all up the behind just as you're ready to walk into church. A tearful re-teaching of the math lesson she didn't get. An unexpected diagnosis. Tearful sobs brought on by the stinging words of a friend. The uncertainty in her eyes as she wonders if she's captivating enough to capture the heart of a wonderful man some day.

All the little moments you wonder if she's going to be okay.

What a confidence I am privileged to have to know that Christ works all things together for His good. What a joy to know we can take all the complexities of parenting to the Father. What a deep and abiding blessing to know His love covers a multitude of sins and mistakes.

That night we brought her home, there was of course a sense of knowing that life as I knew it would never be the same. And tonight, that sense returns once again. And though I know she'll come home again and have many more nights under my roof, it still won't be quite the same.

And isn't that a good thing after all? There is so much fullness of life to live, I'd never want to hold her back and keep life the same forever.

It's just two ends of the parenting spectrum I'm feeling today. And what a blessing it's been. What a privilege--to be a parent.

I humbly thank you my God and Father. And I praise you for the confidence in knowing she's in your care.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Branding for Writers

Branding....no not with a  hot iron on the ranch!  (although that would be a great setting for a great story--but I digress--need more coffee!)

I'm talking about what brand an author or writer has. It's a certain voice, or genre. It's an appeal to a particular audience. It's what the readers know they will get every time they pick up a book from that author. It's something dependable, predictable, and most importantly--sellable!

Publishers, I'd imagine--since I don't have one yet, want an author they don't have to work unreasonably hard to sell their work. Although I personally thought vampires fell into that category, there apparently is an audience out there who thought differently. There needs to be an established or establish-able audience for a debut writer to be worthy of a risk to the publisher.

Chip MacGregor's blog today got me thinking. Visit his blog to get your juices and thoughts pondering,
http://www.chipmacgregor.com/blog/marketing-and-platforms/do-i-need-to-have-a-writing-brand/, or follow the link at the sidebar on my blog-page.

So, what's your brand? 
What's my brand?
Hmmmm.

Well, that's easy--at first glance anyway. Historical Romance right?

I'm only on my second book, so perhaps one can't have a brand yet with only two books. As they say, one or two plot points on a graph don't make a trend. But let's look at what I have so far: both are historical romances set in 1890's. Both are in rural settings that depict country life in a small town--it's what I know. And after all, we are told to write what we know, right?

My themes are rural, historical, simple living, and faith. Ugh, sounds so boring...how is that different than a thousand other wannabe writers hoping to catch the eye of a publisher or agent? There seems to be a fine balance to be struck between not being too different, or too much the same to what is already on the shelves.

So what makes it stand out as sellable--without selling my soul to make it so?  
Hmmmmm.

I'm Mennonite, ahem, not Amish. No bonnet. Yes, we have electricity (laptop, hello). My tagline on my blog, Twitter page, and Pinterest is--Mennonite girl without a bonnet. Its sort of like the saying "you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl." There's no bonnet, but you can't take the bonnet out of my worldview.

My husband is a beekeeper. Our honey jar labels have an Amish buggy on them. The honey is made in northern Indiana Amishland, but any Amish or Mennonite here would smirk if we heard someone say the honey is Amish honey--sort of makes you think of honey bees with bonnets and suspenders! LOL.

My husband thinks that if I'd just put a bonnet on my characters, my work would sell faster. But I just can't do it. Why? I think it's something sort of opposite of "I can pick on my little brother, but you can't." It feels more like "You can write about Amish or Mennonite (while we sort of snicker), but I can't write about my own." (and kudos BTW to any author who can write it, I'm only taking an inward inventory here!) And yet strangely, several of my characters are based on real Amish people I know--God rest their souls. But in my book they don't wear bonnets, they aren't Amish. It's the essence of who they were that influenced my writing--not their bonnets. But is that enough? And for who? To put a bonnet on them seems to betray them in my mind somehow.

So, is "Mennonite girl without a bonnet who writes historical fiction" really a brand?
Hmmmm--no answer here.

Perhaps I just haven't written enough yet to know my brand. I mean I am regularly tempted by Colonial Quills writers to jump the fence to a different century! Would that mess up one's brand? It would still be historical romance right?
Hmmmm.

What have you learned about brand? How has your brand changed? 

Have you compromised to establish a brand?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breaking Back Into Your WIP

I'm officially ending my writing slump!


used with permission www.freedigitalphotos.com

When your oldest graduates from high school, or other important life events occur, it's good to pay close attention to your spirit and soul. But when reprioritizing your life halts your flow of writing, or other things, how do you jump start it again??


1. Send an urgent prayer request for chocolate, coffee, and prayers of inspiration to your critique partner! (nonwriters: you got it, call your praying people!)

2.  Reread your WIP. You've got to get your mojo-flow back! 
It's important to get the overall plot flow back into your head and heart. Resist the urge to get caught up in major edits. Stick with the quick read through, and fall in love with your WIP again--a critical thing that makes you want to come back to it. (nonwriters: what is your life story about, what chapter are you in? Maybe it's time for a book review of your life? Is it time to fall in love again, with Jesus? your spouse? or love yourself better than you have before?)

3.  Reread your plot notes and character sheets. Reacquaint yourself with your characters to remain consistent. Some where between being a plotter or a pantser, you want to find your grove again. Part of my restart problem was that I had stopped my WIP at a point when I didn't know where I wanted to go next and my characters weren't sharing their secret motivations with me. This is both good and bad. It's tough to restart in a dead zone. However, it made me really dig deeper into their POV to re-identify their goals and motivations. (nonwriters: who are the important characters in your life, how have they motivated your faith? If you are in a deadzone, how can you dig deeper?)

4.  If the plot bunnies are still illusive, or you think you heard the voices of your characters--but still aren't quite certain--start listening to music. Keep waiting for your characters to talk to you. Then jot just a few notes of their thoughts so you won't lose them if you can't squeeze in time to write. (nonwriters: if life is still just a bunch of bunk and fluff--fall on your knees and worship your Creator.)

5.  The crucial moment--put your butt in the chair! Plan to be there for a while and get a pillow for your bum. I like to reread the last two chapters right before bedtime. Then think of it again right when you get up. Get a fragment of a scene in your mind, then just sit down and pants it. Here is where you turn off your internal editor. I like to even type with my eyes closed. Didn't your piano teacher or typing teacher ever make you do that? Don't think about your fingers, or the spelling, or the edits, or the formatting. (nonwriters: don't be afraid to step out in faith. Maybe don't over-think things so much, especially if you've done all the above.)

6.  Next, set a goal. My last goal was getting to the break point in my plot before Genesis Contest and completing that. Since I didn't place in the contest, I've decided not to spend the money for ACFW conference this year. Instead, I'm setting another date for a writing weekend with my crit partner. We both hope to finish our WIPs before then and be ready for some deep crits, cuts, revisions and edits.  Then I'd like to study more on writing excellent proposals, perhaps even rework my previous WIP so those are all in place for ACFW 2013. (nonwriters: what dates and goals are on your horizons? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?)

What do you do when you get stuck in your writing? Or if you're not a writer, how do you get yourself out of a "slump" when you've lost your mojo-flow??