Sunday, January 31, 2010
Today is Sidewalk Prophets and The Words I Would Say. I hope it motivates and encourages you as much as it does me.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I hate clichéd Amish stories and there are so many out there. But, I am so thrilled to share with you a simply wonderful story. A tale fresh with new perspective on the Amish culture. I am a huge stickler when it comes to getting facts right on the Amish, but Beth Wiseman does a marvelous job on accuracy. It was like a breath of fresh air and a story I loved from page one to the end. There was one moment that must have been a typo when it came to changing character perspective, because there was no break, but aside from that it was a great read. The ending will even make you want to cry (in a very good way!) 5/5 stars!
According to FTC rules: I received this book from Thomas Nelson as an influencer- I received no compensation for this review.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The description of this book really made me sit and up listen. How could a story with this magnitude be brought to a satisfying conclusion?
Deborah Raney is a masterful storyteller, bringing to life characters and their situations until you feel as if you stand beside them, battling their same struggles. My heart just broke several times during the novel, hurting so desperately for the situations Danica found herself in. I read this book in a little over a day unable to put it down until the last page was turned and as I put the book on my “keeper” shelf, all I could think about was leaving those characters, their situations and all they had been through. And the ending, one I never say coming, never could have predicted. This book is truly a stunning example of masterful storytelling. The kind that will “stick to you” and continue to reel you in with its marvelous craft and lesson. A must read for all fiction lovers, you will not be disappointed in this novel!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Here is the biggest misconception about authors, they effortlessly write the novel you hold in your hands. Writing drains so much from an author. Have you ever stared at a computer screen filled with words, trying to manipulate them to where they say exactly what you want them to say? Then have you ever heard back from an editor telling you that you need to go fix that exact phrase you thought was golden?
Writing is not an easy profession, but authors do it because they love it. They do it because it is their passion in life, the drive to share their story with the world.
As readers we love to read, but often our favorite authors don't know they are apprecaited and often they get more negative reviews than positive.
I recently read A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman. It moved me so deeply, that I just had to tell her. I wroter her email and she wrote back telling me how encouraging I was, how wonderful it was to hear it had moved me on such an intimate level.
I recently won Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson and she sent me the book directly, so I had her address. I try to make it a point to write a hand written note to authors that I have their direct home address. I got an email from Janice later, telling me how my card came on the exact day she needed. Only God could have orchestrated such an event, but He used my card from the love I had for her book to encourage her.
Deborah Raney gave me permission to post part of an email I had with her recently after I read her book Beneath a Southern Sky and loved it.
"Casey, I got your sweet, encouraging note today. I am thrilled that you were so touched by Beneath a Southern Sky. Your words were a real encouragement to me today as I head down the homestretch with the book I'm working on (due on my editor's desk Feb. 8). Thank you, thank you for taking the time to write. That gave me enough writer's fuel to go for a LONG time! : )"
I have written to many "distant" authors over the past couple years and every single one has written back, because while this profession is their passion, it is often a very lonely business spent in a world amongst imaginary characters and to know that their work has impacted a reader's life gives them the encouragement they need to keep writing. Why write if you don't think anyone enjoys your work?
I challenge you, what is the book you are reading right now? After finishing it, if it was a good book and you enjoyed it, plunk yourself down in your chair before the computer. Don't use the excuse that you can't find their address, authors always have websites and every website has a "contact me" button. Spend five minutes writing your favorite author. I guarentee you, that your note will encourage that author and give them "fuel" to keep going.
Note to my readers today: if this is something that impacted you, let me know, I am debating starting another blog with the exact purpose to connect readers and authors with encouraging words.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Virginia Smith recently contracted her twelfth book in four years. Previous
books in the Sister-to-Sister series include: Stuck in the Middle and Age
before Beauty. In 2008 she was named Writer-of-the-Year at Mount
Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Stuck in the Middle was a finalist
for American Christian Fiction Writers’ 2009 Book of the Year Award. ATaste of Murder was a finalist for the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Ginny and husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, escaping as often as possible for diving trips to the Caribbean. Admittedly, her adventurous outings are often as much fun as they are “book research.”
1: How long did you write before you were published?
I wrote for more than twenty years before my first publication. I first started writing in the genre I loved to read – science fiction and fantasy. Of course, nobody told me that sf/f is one of the hardest genres to break into! I wish I’d known that. I collected 143 rejection letters before my first contract.
2: When you held that first book in your hands, what was your first thought?
It’s hard to describe the feeling. Not quite as emotional as holding your first child, but it’s a powerful moment. There’s a feeling of triumph, of accomplishment. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe it. It’s my book! That’s my name on the cover!”
I was home alone when the UPS man brought the box of books, and I could hardly wait for my husband to get home. I dedicated that first book to him, and I hadn’t told him. So as soon as he got home, I showed him the dedication, and he got tears in his eyes. That book really was as much as celebration for him as for me, because he had supported me for so long, and believe in me through all those rejections.
3: What are you working on now?
I just finished a romantic suspense book called Into the Deep. I’m excited about that one because it has a scuba diving theme, and takes place partly in Mexico. The research was a lot of fun! I’m taking a break from writing for a month or two, so I can spend some time talking about Third Time’s a Charm. After that, I’ve got a couple of ideas floating around in my head!
4: Where can readers find out more about your books?
I have a great website – www.VirginiaSmith.org . I spend a lot of time keeping it updated, and I’ve always got a giveaway going on the Reader Fun page. (Right now there’s a terrific Prize Bonanza Giveaway to help celebrate the release of Third Time’s a Charm, including a bunch of prizes related to the book, plus a $50 Visa gift card!)
I also spend way more time than I should on Facebook. I do talk about my books every so often, but mostly I just stay in touch with friends and family and readers. http://www.facebook.com/ginny.p.smith
5: What message(s) do you want to be clear to your readers?
In Third Time’s a Charm, the main message is that we have a heavenly Father who is with us always. Even when we ignore Him, He never leaves us. He’s always there, longing for us to let Him be a part of our lives.
That message is very personal for me. Like Tori, the main character in Third Time’s a Charm, my parents divorced when I was young. I didn’t see my father very often, so for a long time I did feel like he had deserted me. For a long time, that affected my understanding of how constant God’s love is for me. But I’ve learned, as Tori does, that no matter how lonely I felt, He was there all the time.
Thank you for being with us today. Any final words for readers?
Third Time’s a Charm is the third book in the Sister-to-Sister Series (though you don’t have to read Stuck in the Middle and Age before Beauty first in order to enjoy this one!) I always say there’s a little piece of me in every character I’ve ever written, and that’s true of this book as well. When I first started writing the series, I was a little worried about writing Tori’s story, because of the three sisters, she is the least like me. Imagine my surprise when I got into the book, and discovered that beneath the surface, she’s far more like me than I thought! I hope you enjoy reading Third Time’s a Charm as much as I enjoyed writing it.
To enter to win Third Times a Charm:
~Leave a valid email address
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~Void where prohibited
To get extra entries:
~Be a follower
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Winner will be annouced Febuary 6th and will be drawn from random.org
Thanks for stopping by to enter!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Listen was a page turning, occasionally bone chilling story. I was afraid when I started the book, it would be the author’s agenda to get across the evil of gossip, but rarely was that word even used. And though the author wanted to make a point, she never preached it, masterful storytelling.
But I also had a few problems with the book. Several transitions were very poorly done, to where I was searching, not knowing if I had missed something. I felt like I was watching lives unfold, which was great storytelling, but in that unfolding some little details were left dangling and I was a bit confused. I would have liked a stronger Christian message, but in the end the transformation was complete in the characters, I just would have liked to see more of it throughout the book
Altogether, I really enjoyed this book. It was a great mystery that had me completely in the dark until the very end. Good writing and a gripping story. I give it a thumbs up 4/5 stars.
According to FTC rules: I recieved this book from Vicky at Tyndale Publishers for purposes as an influencer- thank you!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Welcome back to part 2 on helpful writing tips with Lauire Alice Eakes. Visit Laurie at : www.lauriealiceeakes.com And now here is part two:
6: What is the most common mistake the beginning writer makes?
That’s a whole post all on its own. To make is concise, rushing things. People fall in love with the craft and with their work and send it out the door before it’s ready to go. The manuscript gets rejected, not because the author isn’t any good or the story isn’t great, but because it’s underdone.
7: What are two things you wished you had known before you started writing?
I wish I’d known about professional organizations like ACFW or RWA. Getting involved with other writers and learning from them, not to mention learning about the pitfalls of the business-yes, many charlatans exist out there-would have saved me a lot of trouble.
And I wish I’d known more about the business and how it worked-the submission process, guidelines, and all that. Learning to write is really important, but you can have the best book in the world and get nowhere with it because of taking bad advice or sending it to the wrong places and a gazillion other pitfalls of not knowing how the system works.
8: Why did you choose this profession?
I think the profession chose me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, no matter what I studied in college, no matter what jobs I held, I knew writing was what I really wanted to do.
9: What advice/ encouragement do you have for the writers reading this today?
Write and finish. Have a teachable heart. When someone tells you a part of your story isn’t working, pay attention. It doesn’t mean they’re right, but they could be. In contrast to that, don’t take so much advice to heart that you change everything. You have to follow your gut instincts, too.
And I do want to encourage. If this is what God wants you to do, then you will succeed.
10: Any other helpful advice?
Although you need to finish a manuscript and polish it before sending it out, don’t polish it so much the life is gone and you never send it out. Rejection is scary to face, yes, but you can’t get acceptance without risking rejection.
Thank you for giving such helpful advice, Laurie. Writing is a challenging journey and I know from personal experience that any advice is helpful!
Monday, January 18, 2010
I suffered from fits and starts and a bit of attention deficit disorder, so it’s hard to say how long, as I had big gaps of no writing. Somewhere around four to six years, if I put the time together.
Letting three of my early books get published as e-books. They weren’t ready for the world and aren’t particularly edifying reads either. I’m glad the publishers are no longer in business.
The other mistake is thinking that, because I have always been a reader, I knew how to write a book and didn’t bother to pay attention to the craft.
I am blessed in that I was able to attend the Seton Hill University Master’s program in writing popular fiction. That’s where I really learned the craft. Outside of that, I learned a great deal from analyzing books and doing critiques. Not being critiqued as much as critiquing others’ work to figure out what worked and didn’t work for me as a reader. Also, three books, out of the dozens I ended up reading, worked for me: Techniques of the Selling Writer, Goal, Motivation and Conflict, and Writing the Break-out Novel by Dwight Swain, Debra Dixon, and Donald Mass respectively.
I had to really think about this one. Voice, to me, is that innate part of writing that you have or you don’t. Like any other kind of art, it needs to be trained and exercised. When I took voice lessons, I learned to practice scales over and over again. Sometimes learning to write, getting control of one’s voice, is a matter of repetition, doing writing exercises to strengthen those writing vocal chords.
The short answer is: by writing-different kinds of scenes, different genres, even different persons like first and third.
Pretty poorly. I write full-time now, so have a lot of it, often so much that I can squander it. People intrude, and I have a hard time saying no, if someone needs help. But deadlines are great motivators, and I can get protective of my time, telling people to back off, like a cat keeping others from her food.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson
Thursday, January 14, 2010
You can find this book at Amazon. Check it out, it will be well worth the money you spend.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Bella Rossi doesn’t know what she has gotten herself into when she took over the family wedding planning service. Certainly not 800 boots, a deejay that isn’t a deejay- or is he?- her BBQ cook with singed eyebrows and one pesky neighbor who is always finding himself at the wrong end of her aunt’s broom.
I heard great things about this novel, so I picked it up, though still a little skeptical if the humor could hold it’s own the entire novel- could it entertain me? Oh did it ever! This book went everywhere with me, becoming my best friend through the two days it took me to read it. I laughed the entire way through, I couldn’t stop smiling- even just thinking about it. I quickly become Bella’s best friend, she has such a unique voice and way of seeing the world, all through her Italian lifestyle. The food descriptions alone had my mouth watering!
This family of quirky, lovable characters quickly worm their way into your heart and set up camp. What a wonderful family to escape to visit. I only wish they didn’t lurk between the pages of a book- then who says they have to? This book should be on everyone’s book shelf- it’s a keeper!
Friday, January 8, 2010
I have read some GREAT books this past week- ones that I couldn't put down and literally became my best friends. I have to share the cover art with you (expect reviews on a few of them soon), plus you will know how I am doing on my own personal challenge. Don't forget to say how many books you read- let's start wittling the number down!
Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
The Raven Saint by M.L. Tyndall
Cape Refuge by Terri Blackstock
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
4 down 96 to go! How did you do?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I don’t do "New Year’s Resolutions". I find that when I make them, I never accomplish them, there is nothing, but myself to hold me accountable. But a goal, now that I can undertake and see to completion.
I know resolution- goal- same thing right? Actually, no. Resolution also means, fortitude, resolve, a decision to do something, without really intending to follow through (this is just a generalization not a classification :). Like the resolution, "I want to lose weight this year", that is just a promise filling empty air. But a goal, a goal pushes you forward, you see an end in sight- no matter how distant, it is still there. A goal is an ambition, an intent, a target.
I have two major goals this year that I intended at the first of this year to do come what may. I want to take my polish edits as far as possible on my first novel. Somehow to me this seems a more daunting task than my other goal. The end is more hazy, but I can still see the end, I know it’s there and I just have to keep pushing forward.
My second goal is to finish the rough draft of my second manuscript. This a pretty basic, simple demand on my life right now. I am writing 1,000 words a day and even before the end of the year gets here, I will have a full fledged novel that will just need to be edited down to as close as perfection as I can take it. But I have to be careful of this "simple goal". Something like this I could easily push to the wayside. To keep myself from throwing excuses to the wind, I sit down everyday and write. And I don’t stand up until those 1,000 words are done. You would be amazed at how fast thoughts flow your fingertips when you put yourself in such a constraint.
How about you? What goals do you have set for the new year and are they still sitting on the shelf as resolutions, gathering dust, or are they put before you as goals, ones you are striving mightily to accomplish?
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Rafe Dubois got more than he bargained for in Grace Westcott when he kidnaped her. Certainly not a saintly woman of God. Will he be able to sell her as originally planned?
This was an excellent conclusion to M.L. Tyndall’s latest series, Charles Towne Belles. My only compliant is the overuse of the French language. It was often fatiguing and overbearing.
But the chemistry between hero and heroine was stunning. At first you think Grace isn’t flawed, but you soon learn just how far she has to grow, lending a beauty to the story that I greatly appreciated. Rafe was a tormented character, it was a joy to watch him transform. But this book didn’t have just transforming characters. Throw in a duel to the death, a one eyed cat, a murderous servant, a villainous father and his conniving wife and you have the ingredients of a fantastic story on the high seas! I read it through in two days and would gladly recommend it anyone who loves an epic adventure.
*Thanks to MaryLu for this copy to use as an "influencer".*
Sunday, January 3, 2010
My blog: http://www.crossandcutlass.blogspot.com
Facebook Fan club: http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#/group.php?gid=38269435754&ref=ts
The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkley
A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson
Cry in the Night by Colleen Coble
Never the Bride by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl Mckay
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Voting will begin tomorrow for the top ten Reader's Pick of 2009. I will be alerting the novelists of the ten chosen novels their books have been nominated. Be sure and come back to vote!
Friday, January 1, 2010
I hope this new year holds many promises yet to be discovered for you and your loved ones. May new goals be reached and new experiences undertaken.
Thank you all for helping me through this rough first month with my blog. I can't tell you how excited I get to see a comment from any one of you. THANK YOU!
Be sure and join me on Monday for a special giveaway (shhh, it's a surprise :), but trust me, you DON'T want to miss this!
Be sure and leave a comment on the last post, nominating your favorite 2009 Christian novel. Voting will begin after ten books have been nominated.
Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR and God Bless!