Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Dream the Impossible Dream

While Joy is off reading The Highlander's Sword, Edgy Inspirational Romance has a special guest blogger...

Hi! Amanda Forester here, thanks for inviting me! I’ve been enjoying your blog – edgy inspirationals sounds about right to me!

I am thrilled to say that my dream of publishing a book recently came true with the release of my first novel, THE HIGHLANDER’S SWORD. This Scottish adventure romance is my first manuscript… and one I was utterly convinced would never be published.

Let me take you back to how my rather odd path to publication started. The year was 2006, I was the extremely tired mother of two little ones (ages one and two) and I was holding down two part time jobs on the side. Then we get THE CALL. My husband had been called up from the Army Reserves to serve active duty… in Iraq.

My world, my hopes, my dreams… well, they all pretty much fell apart. My husband was gone for 14 months and I went from tired to neurotically stressed out. Have you ever been to the point where you can’t go any more, but there’s no one else there, so you press on beyond what you thought possible? That was my world. Frankly, it sucked.

On the advice of a friend I started reading romance novels, particularly historical romance novels. Now I was not one to read romance novels before this time, but while my husband was gone these books gave me a needed escape. They entertained me, they swept me away to glittering balls and wind-swept moors, and they always had a happy ending (so important when my own happy ending was in serious doubt). Essentially, those books kept me at least a little bit sane and gave me hope.

Reading romance novels did something else too. I had always had stories floating around in my head. I thought it was just silly nonsense. For years I tried not to think about the stories, fearing they were a distraction from “serious matters”. Reading novels made me realize that these stories in my head had a place – they were romance stories. I’m not weird or odd—ok, maybe I am, but at least I’m not alone. What I am is a romance novelist!

With this brilliant insight and my husband’s encouragement (first when he was in Iraq and then after he returned home – praise God!) I wrote my first novel. Unfortunately, I wrote this novel before I had any idea what I was doing (not that I know much more now). I didn’t know the unwritten “rules” of writing romance. I didn’t even understand the difference between inspirational and secular romance. I just sat down and wrote the story that was in my mind and on my heart.

Set in 14th century Scotland, my heroine, Aila, expects to become a nun and prepares for life in the convent. After her brother’s death leaves her a substantial heiress, she finds herself wed to a Highland laird instead. Yet many desire to claim her fortune as their own and she is swept up in a world of treachery and intrigue.

Throughout the story, Aila turns to the scriptures for guidance and she is often given a particular verse which helps her to discern her way. She uses prayer to guide her and encourage her in difficult times. I wrote this because it just flowed naturally as part of the character and it made sense to me. I think when people face difficult times in life they do turn to their faith for support and pray to God for guidance. I do. Why not my characters?

My hero, MacLaren, is a battle-hardened knight whose faith has been challenged by betrayal. He comes to marriage with Aila distrusting of women and even of God. As the story progresses, he grows to trust Aila and he is able to move from a place of questioning to a place of faith.

I was quite pleased with my story, yet as I learned more about publishing I realized the terrible fact that I had written a story that didn’t fit neatly into the preselected categories. They had triangles and squares… I wrote in octagons. Where did I fit?

I figured that all the talk of faith in my book would probably disqualify me for publication with a mainstream publisher. My characters also swore, drank whiskey (they’re medieval Scots after all) and even shared some sensual scenes (they are married in the book). Put that together and I figured my manuscript had zippo chance of ever getting published.

Well, like many other times in life, I was wrong. I pitched the book to Sourcebooks at a conference and was asked for a full manuscript. A few months later I got THE CALL. This time it was the good kind of call. I was going to be published! Despite my expectations, I was published by a mainstream publisher, and yes I got me one hunky dude on my cover!

So what’s the take home message here? For me, I can only say that I feel the hand of God at work in my life. I feel that God turned something bad (my husband going to war) into a blessing to me. Do I think God purposely gave me hard times so I could find my passion for writing? No, I honestly don’t think God has anything to do with war – that’s the result of our fallen world. Do I think God can use the yucky stuff in our life and turn it into a blessing? Yes, I truly believe this is the miracle of God.

Have you ever experienced a difficult time in your life that God turned into a blessing for you? Do you like sexy Highlanders? (Sure those questions are related – at least in my world!!) Comment on this blog to be eligible to win a copy of my book, THE HIGHLANDER’S SWORD (U.S. and Canadian residents only).

Thanks so much for letting me join you today! Please visit me at www.AmandaForester.com or come find me on Facebook.

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance novels was way more fun. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two energetic children, and one lazy dog. Her first novel, THE HIGHLANDER’S SWORD was published March of 2010, and her second, THE HIGHLANDER’S HEART will be released spring of 2011. You can visit her at www.amandaforester.com.


iFellowship

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review- The Manual by Sherryle Kiser Jackson

If my son got suspended for sticking his hand up a girl's pants and I was called in front of a panel of his teachers to hear about it, I'd probably want the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

But single mom Deidre Collins handles the situation with a lot of prayer and remarkable restraint. This is one reason she makes such a sympathetic character. Her son, DeAndre, has lost his ever lovin' mind and unfortunately, things only go downhill from there.

It's clear DeAndre needs a male role model in his life. Instead of accepting the help of the smarmy brother at her church willing to 'stand in the gap', Deidre reluctantly turns to her baby's daddy, and the only man she's ever loved, Andre Hicks.

But when old sparks start to fly, Deidre is tempted to fall into familiar patterns of sin. Will God give her the strength to live out her faith?

I have a soft spot for books that reunite high school sweethearts.

You never fall as hard or as fast you do when you're a teenager. Author Sherryle Jackson illustrates this perfectly by giving us glimpses of DeAndre's first crush. His experience mirrors his parents' young love (with a radically different outcome). And his storyline makes a nice contrast to the mature relationship that grows between Deidre and Andre by the end of the book.

Jackson also does a great job with the minor characters in this novel, especially Renita- the workplace slacker who takes more than her share of personal time. Don't we all know somebody like that?

I had a couple of small quibbles with this story. I found the names of the main characters (Deidre, DeAndre, and Andre- nicknamed Dre) easy to mix up because they were so similar. Also, I caught a couple of editing mistakes (a missing quotation mark or question mark here and there).

But overall, it was a fun, easy read with great voice and characterization. It had just enough of an edge to satisfy this edgy inspy fan, and I finished resolved to add more urban Christian fiction to my diet.

Want more information? Here's the back cover blurb:

"Blessed are the children, for they shall inherit the earth."


Need a manual on raising children and having healthy relationships? Refer to the Bible. That's what Deidre Collins' inner spirit is telling her to do now that Andre, her son's father, is back in town after deserting them eight years ago.

At fourteen years old, her son, DeAndre, is struggling with his own issues- peer pressure, problems at school, and figuring out how to navigate his first crush.

When DeAndre gets suspended from school for ten days, Andre sees it as the perfect opportunity to get to know his son- and to get closer to Deidre. Can this couple overcome the past for the sake of their son's future?


My rating:








It's giveaway time
!

I received a free review copy of this novel signed by the author and I'm giving it away to one lucky reader. There are no hoops here, folks. Just leave a comment (include your email address if it's not in your profile). I'll pick a winner Wednesday night. Open to US residents only.




Coming Attractions:
Tune in Wednesday for guest blogger and debut author Amanda Forester!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interview with Shawna K. Williams

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming debut author, Shawna K. Williams, to talk about her release No Other. At the end of the interview, Shawna has a special giveaway for one lucky reader.

Hi Shawna! Tell us a little bit about your story.

Sure Joy.

No Other is a 20th century historical inspirational romance. It’s set in a coastal Texas town during 1947, a couple of years after WWII. I really enjoyed writing a story set in this time period because instead of focusing on how the nation recovered in broad terms, I was able to focus on how individuals set about recovering emotionally from such an event.

Jakob is trying to resume life and deal with his anger over the events of the past five years. His parents are German immigrants who were interned at a camp known as Crystal City during the war. As an American born child, he feels betrayed and angry. Not just at his community- but at himself, because he feels he may have contributed to their arrest.

Jakob was forced to quit school in order to care for his younger sibling during the war. With the war ended and life beginning to settle, he decides to go back to school and get his diploma so he can move on to bigger and better dreams. It’s immediately awkward though, because one of his teachers is a girl he previously went to high school with.

Meri comes from an affluent and socially elite family but she’s conflicted. On the one hand she desperately wants her parents’ approval, and on the other, she wants to be free of the control they exert over her life.

As friendship blooms and feelings develop, Meri begins to understand what real love is supposed to be. Jakob, seeing the pain her family has caused her, wants to shelter her from more. But since she’s his teacher, any type of romantic relationship is unethical, and then there are also the social issues to consider. Meri and Jakob decide to pursue a secret romance which leads them to trouble in more ways than one. And I’ll leave the rest as a mystery.

No Other is an inspirational story about getting up after you fall. About how Christians don't just struggle, sometimes we blow it, but God doesn't abandon us. Even when our efforts to right things fail, He's still in control. Him, and No Other.

Here's a link to the blurb and excerpt on my publisher's site.
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-86/No-Other/Detail.bok

Would you consider this an edgy inspirational romance? Why?

Very much so! The story of No Other isn't about a lost kid finding God and straightening out his life.

It's about a good kid, who knows God but still struggles -- as we all do. Jakob has good intentions, but at some point he begins to justify small infractions in his faith by telling himself that he knows how best to help Meri.

These small things eventually lead to something big, with major consequences, and not just to him. (As a matter of fact, some of the consequences aren't fully known until the sequel, but that's another interview.)

The story of No Other continues past the consequences of Jakob's mistake. The heart of the story is his journey to redemption.

That's a general answer, I realize. So specifically, the story deals with bitterness, deceit, sexual temptation, pregnancy out of wedlock, and how sin can affect a Christian's witness.

I've refrained from physical description in certain scenes, and kept the reader within the character's head as the character wrestles with right and wrong. Sometimes it's not just the physical that tempts us. Emotional needs can be just as strong, if not stronger. I really wanted to deal with that, and mainly from the male perspective. We don't see that very often.

How did you choose the title for your book?

I chose the title from a series of Bible verses in Isaiah 45 which declare God's sovereignty. At the very end of No Other Jakob marvels over mistakes turned into miracles, and he thinks in his southern way, "How'd this mess come together?" And the answer he receives is...



"Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me."


We see the little picture. God sees the big one. The wonderful thing is that even when we get in the way of God’s plan, He always provides a way back, and when we turn to Him, He has a way of working absolute wonders from our mistakes. But it’s Him, not us.

Another topic I wanted to weave into the story was the idealization of romance. I see young girls who seem to think all they need in life is a boyfriend – future husband – to make them complete and carry them off into blissful happiness. And adding to that, I think many young men see this as their role to fulfill.

This kind of expectation, whether it comes from someone else, or is something you place upon yourself, is a set up for failure. Men and women are created to complement one another, but there is only one Savior. The rest of us need grace. This book deals a lot with human failings. It's something we all have in common.

I've got some readers who have never tried an ebook before. Let's break it down for them. Where can they buy your book? What can they do if they don't own an e-reader?

Yay! It makes me really happy to share this information because so much is happening within the publishing industry concerning this venue. First of all, my book, No Other, can be bought at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Sony Reader Store, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks, and the Desert Breeze storefront.

Very soon it will be available at the iBookstore for iPad, and Borders’ new ebooks store. Christianbooks.com plans to sell ebooks by the end of the year, and my publisher has contacted them about getting Desert Breeze’s books in there too. Basically, every major book seller now has, or will have, an ebook division.

There are many options available for those who want to read an ebook, but don't own an ereader. Kindle, Nook, and The Sony Store, all offer free apps that can be downloaded to your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, iPad, and Android.

I own a Kindle, but I also have apps from B&N, Kindle and the Sony Reader on my PC. The apps adjust the contrast on the screen for less eye strain, they save to the last page read, and turn the page with a click. Also, if I've been reading on my Kindle, and then later pick up the same book on my PC, it syncs to the last page read.

Something many people don't realize about ebooks is that when you purchase one, you're purchasing the content, not a one time download. If something were to happen to the device the book is stored on, the purchase is recorded in your order history and you can download the book at no extra charge.

Ereaders are wonderful devices. Reading is comfortable, convenient and economical, and contrary to what people might think, they're quite cozy to curl up with and read from by the warmth of a fire.

They're also rapidly dropping in price. Just this week the Kindle dropped from $259 to $189, and B&N Nook dropped from $259 to $149 with wifi, and $199 with wifi and 3G. The Kobo, from Borders, is advertised at $149. It's a lower tech device, designed to appeal to a broader market. I wouldn't be surprised to see this price lowered soon. I'm guessing $119.

What kinds of stories and which authors do you read in your spare time?

I read pretty much ever genre out there, with the exception of erotica and horror. I love historicals. I'm also a fan of scifi – my mother is a Trekkie, so I grew up with science fiction. I enjoy suspense, political thrillers, romance -- if it's supported by a strong underlying story, literary fiction (though some have left me wondering, 'what exactly did I just read?') and non-fiction too.

My favorite secular authors are Tess Gerrison, Tom Clancy and Nicholas Sparks. For non-fiction it would be Stephen Ambrose. My favorite Inspirational authors are Karen Kingsbury, Deeanne Gist, and Francine Rivers. Francine Rivers is my all time favorite author period! I love her! I also love Beth Moore.

What advice would you give to pre-published writers?

Critique groups and writing classes are essential for a writer. We need them, there's no question about it. But there is a balance between absorbing useful information, and trying to heed so much advice that you end up losing your unique voice. You don't want to sound like everyone else.

So learn how to incorporate the instruction into your own style. On occasion, that might mean ignore it. At some point, you have to trust your instincts. God made you unique, and gave you this passion for a reason. There's something special you bring to the mix. So, pay close attention to the rules, but remember, in the words of Captain Jack Sparrow – and don't forget the accent, "They're more like guidelines anyway." (Yes, I say this in every interview.)

What are you working on next?

Right now I'm putting the finishing touches on the sequel to No Other. Its title is In All Things, and while it expands on a similar theme, it approaches it from a different stage in life, when Jakob and Meri are ten years older and have accomplished everything they ever dreamed. Where do you go from there, right?

The story is also quite different. No Other is all about Jakob and Meri, and In All Things pulls in a lot of side stories that weave into the main one.

I'm also working on a novella length book that will release in December called Orphaned Hearts. This story is inspired by my granddad, who grew up in an orphanage during The Great Depression. It is near and dear to my heart, and I'm very excited to share it.

This was so much fun! I appreciate you having me, Joy. Thank you and God bless!

Shawna, thank you so much for stopping by today. We’d love to see you again when Orphaned Hearts releases.





Want more information? Here’s where you can find Shawna online:
http://shawnakwilliams.com/
http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/


Welcome Friday blog hoppers!
Book Blogger Hop
Social Parade Friday
Friday Follow Me
Follow Me Fridays
Friendly Friday
Blog Hop Friday

Shawna is giving away a free copy of her book, No Other, as either a pdf file or a download and a fresh water pearl bracelet to one lucky reader (the story behind the bracelet is here). Simply wave at Shawna and leave a comment with your email address below.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do you set writing goals?

I came home from my first writer's conference inspired to make some changes. Up first, goal setting.

Of the three different workshops I took from agent, Kelly Mortimer, my favorite was a motivational speech about positive thinking and speaking. She's a very engaging presenter.

Kelly shared techniques for overcoming the discouragement writers face on the road to publication. She encouraged us to set goals which we shared with the class.

Setting the goals is the easy part. Next we've got to do something about them.

Here's what Kelly suggests (I'm paraphrasing):

1. See your goals. Write them down and post them somewhere. I've put mine on the bathroom mirror.

2. Say your goals. Kelly suggests saying them seven times, seven times a day, for seven straight days. This is harder to do than it sounds. I've been doing it for three days and I know I've missed a few rounds.

3. Pursue your goals. Kelly's example was to tell yourself you're a fantastic writer then edit your work until it shines and submit it. This is the most important part, in my opinion. We could speak our writing goals eighty times a day but if we never pick up a pen, we won't be any closer to achieving them.

I've condensed her hour long presentation into three small quips- it was definitely more extensive than this. But the point, in my opinion, was to have courage, have faith, and believe in yourself. And it was the right message at the right time for this conference newbie.

Here are my goals:

Short Term:
I will research, plan and plot my second novel by October 31, 2010 so I am ready to knock out a first draft for NaNoWriMo in November.
I am not a one trick pony. I have another novel in me, I know it. Between now and the fall I will firm up my idea and do my background work ahead of time. Hero/Heroine interview sheets, GMC charts, plot board, the whole character and caboodle. One thing my first novel taught me is if I write without prep work, garbage ensues. By planning ahead, I won't have to rework the entire plot in future drafts like I did with the first book.

Long Term:
I will sell a novel to a mid size or large print publisher by the time I'm 40 (July, 2012).
I've wanted to be an author since high school. But my family, my education, and my career all came first, decisions I don't regret. Now I find I'm a middle aged, graying mother of three with one unfulfilled dream left, and three big reasons to pursue it. I want to show my sons you are never too old to chase your dreams. The best way I know to teach that lesson is to live it.

July, 2012 will be just shy of four years since I started writing seriously. It's a realistic goal- definitely not easy, but not impossible either.

So there you go, I've launched my goals into the blogosphere. Keep me accountable friends! Do you have goals, writing related or otherwise? What are they?




Coming Attractions:
Friday edgy inspirational author Shawna K. Williams stops by to chat about her book, No Other.
Wednesday our very first guest blogger, author Amanda Forester, pops in.
And look for my review of The Manual by Sherryle Kiser Jackson next week.

iFellowship

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I'm reading a book called The Manual by Sherryle Kiser Jackson. You can see the title on my Shelfari widget to the right. It's urban Christian fiction, and so far I'm really enjoying it. I'll write a review for this one next week.

This makes only the second time I've read a book of this genre. I've read mainstream urban fiction, but for whatever reason I haven't spent much time on the inspirational side. So I need to branch out. Do you read urban Christian fiction? If so, who are your favorite authors? List them in the comments section so we can expand our horizons. If you have specific urban Christian romance recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

And I've got some Amazon freebies to mention today (not urban fiction, sorry). Both of these are currently free for the Kindle.

No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan
Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke (which might be the first bestselling inspy romance)

There's also a great ebook sale going on over at Multnomah. I heart cheap books, don't you? The sale runs through June 30 (thanks to blogging friend Michelle Sutton for this heads up):




Want to know what everyone else is reading this Monday? Head over to see Sheila at Book Journey.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview with Deeanne Gist

I'm happy to welcome Deeanne Gist here today to promote her new book Maid to Match and tell us about a very special getaway opportunity for readers.

Dee, thanks for stopping by!

Tell us a little bit about Maid to Match.
From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled--by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid. After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations ...and their hearts.

Why did you set Maid To Match at Vanderbilt’s Biltmore mansion in North Carolina?
Biltmore is such a national treasure. It was built at the height of the Gilded Age by George Vanderbilt and because it is still owned by the Vanderbilt family today, it has all its original furnishings and d├ęcor--which is very unusual for a historical home. It’s like stepping back in time when you enter it.

The other thing that makes it unique is its sheer size. It was the largest privately owned home in America when Vanderbilt built it and it still holds that illustrious title today with 250 rooms and four acres of square footage.

But what fascinated me most was the lifestyle of the Vanderbilts and the staff who worked for them. There are hundreds of novels set in England where house servants make an appearance, but we never really see that in America. So, I decided to pen a story about two servants who work at Biltmore and fall in love.

Is it really true that servants like your characters were not allowed to marry?
It is. Romance below stairs was strictly forbidden. Part of this is because of the living arrangements. The female servants lived on the top floor of the house and the men servants lived above the stable. It wasn’t practical to have married couples housing within the mansion.

The other reason was to keep the women from becoming pregnant. A pregnant house servant just wouldn’t do! As for the men, society at that time felt that a family man would be distracted with his home front responsibilities and would not give the job his all.

Did servant hierarchies really exist in households in America?
They were extremely important. In Maid To Match, the main character is up for a position as Mrs. Vanderbilt’s lady’s maid--which is the highest ranking position for a female next to housekeeper. But to be awarded that position (and to hold it), she must remain unmarried.

That becomes a problem when she’s enlisted to bring a mountain man up to snuff for a position as footman and the sparks began to fly.

Were the Vanderbilts involved at all in the lives of the servants?
George & Edith Vanderbilt were unusual in that they were very progressive about their views of the master-servant relationship. They referred to their servants as staff. They had an open-door policy. They provided electricity and indoor plumbing for their servants, as well as windows in the basement.

On Christmas Day, they invited their household staff along with those who farmed and worked out on the estate (and who had families) into their home. Mrs. Vanderbilt had a wrapped present for every single child on the estate under a big 40’ tree while Mr. Vanderbilt awarded cash bonuses to the entire staff.

What was the most fun part of researching this book?
Touring Biltmore House and learning about the lifestyles of Gilded Age society. I was so enchanted by Biltmore that I decided to invite all my readers on a getaway this September.

We are going to meet in Asheville and have a Gilded Age party where we dress up in turn-of-the-century-style clothing, play parlor games and do a book swap. A Victorian expert is going to dress me from the inside-out in full Victorian costume so my readers can see the incredible number of layers a woman donned on a day-to-day basis. As a finale, we’re going on a private tour of Biltmore mansion. For more information, readers can go to GetawayWithDee.com

Here are some pics of the gown I'll be wearing and the undergarments as well. This one is not from the Gilded era though, it's more 1860s:










That getaway sounds like it will be a lot of fun for readers.

Dee, what is the most important advice you could give to pre-published writers?

Learn your craft. It's kind of like being a really talented athlete. You can be the best athlete in the world, but unless you know the rules, you can’t play basketball. Same with writing. And anybody who wants to can learn the craft of writing. You can read how-to books, go to writing conferences, enter contests, join a critique group, listen to CDs, read author blogs, join writing organizations, take workshops, etc. It's a lot of work, but it's definitely doable.

I love to read your novels, but which authors do you like to read in your free time?
My favorite book of all-time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I love the peek Harper Lee gives us of that small Southern town in the early 20th century. She depicts its charm right along side its warts. I first read it in junior high and it profoundly affected my views about the obscenity of prejudice, the definition of bravery and the importance of education.

I must confess, though, that I’m a historical romance junkie. LaVyrle Spencer wrote historicals in the 80s & 90s, my favorite of which is Years. Other secular historicals I turn to over and over are Pamela Morsi’s—also written in the 80s & 90s. Trying to pick a favorite is next to impossible, but I do particularly enjoy Here Comes the Bride. The first line is: “There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must get herself a man or give up on the idea entirely.” The thirty-one-year-old spinster and business owner in this small Texas town puts together a business plan for snagging a husband, then hires her foreman to help implement it. Great stuff.

I love that opening line! You've given me some great names to look up on Amazon.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Deeanne. I'd love to have you pop in again sometime!




Want more information about Dee's getaway? Watch this:



And you can find Deeanne online at:
IWantHerBook.com
Facebook.com/IWantHerBook
Facebook.com/GetawayWithDee


Welcome friends from the Friday blog hops! Please be sure to show Deeanne some love while you're here :)
Book Blogger Hop
Social Parade Friday
Friday Follow Me
Follow Me Fridays
Friendly Friday
Blog Hop Friday


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where's Waldo Joy?


Where is Joy?

A. Lost in her sweetheart's eyes.
B. Lost in an edgy inspy romance.
C. Lost on an island with Jack, Sawyer, and Sayid.
D. Driving to Ontario for the Write! Canada conference (and not lost yet).

Though I wouldn't mind choices A-C, the answer I'm really excited about is D. I'll blog all about the experience when I get home.

In the meantime, I have a contest winner to announce. Here are the entry numbers for the custom designed blog button and share code:

1. Kenzie

2. Kenzie

3. Jaime McNab

4. Julia

5. Vanessa

6. Loren

7. Gina



According to Random.org, the winner is number seven.


Congratulations Gina! Contact me with your name and email address and I'll send the gift certificate to Designer Blogs!

Coming Attractions:
Don't miss my interview with bestselling author Deeanne Gist this Friday. She'll be here to talk about her newest novel, Maid to Match. Please make sure to stop by and show her some love in the comment section!






(Welcome friends from iFellowship!)
iFellowship

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Do you have Grammar Obsessive Disorder?

Something writers and editors everywhere can appreciate:



I think I might have a touch of this disorder myself.

I've gone into businesses and spoken to managers about misspelled signs hanging in their stores.

I've also been known to email other bloggers about typos and spelling errors in their posts, especially if I know the blogger is an author trying to put his best foot forward.

I would hope someone would do the same for me.

How do you feel about telling your bloggy friends about mistakes in their posts? Do you let it go? Do you contact perfect strangers or only your friends?

Should I seek treatment for my problem?

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Trio of Love Inspired Freebies

Free for the Kindle, one from each of the Steeple Hill inspirational romance lines; Love Inspired, Love Inspired Historical, and Love Inspired Suspense.

No Kindle? No problem! You can read them on your PC. Did you know Amazon offers a free Kindle download for your computer? Or you can enter to win a Kindle at this contest by Christian fiction author, Tina Pinson.

Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart

A Very Special Delivery by Linda Goodnight

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thirteen things I'm worried about before the Write! Canada conference.


With one week to go until my first writer's conference, these are the things on my mind:

1. What if I get lost driving to Canada? (A very real possibility!)
2. What if I have spinach in my teeth during my faculty appointment?
3. What if my handshake is clammy?
4. What if I'm stuck in the elevator with an agent and forget my elevator pitch?
5. What if they don't get my humor?
6. What if I'm too nervous to be myself?
7. What if they bite? (Wait...they don't bite do they?!)
8. What if I don't get to meet the industry professionals I really want to meet?
9. What if I sit down at a faculty table and don't have anything to say?
10. What if nobody talks to me?
11. What if I forget to bring something really important? Like business cards? Shoes? Courage?
12. What if they don't like me?
13. What if they do?

Help me snap out of it. Post your positive writer's conference experiences...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Interview with Michelle Sutton

I'm excited to post my first author interview today! A warm welcome to Michelle Sutton, the author of Never Without Hope. If you missed my review of her book, you can find it here.

Michelle, how many books have you written?
I've actually written about 18, though some will never see the printer's press because I've deleted them or tossed them. They were practice books.

Which one is your favorite?
My favorite is probably Never Without Hope because it's the edgiest and most intense.

Do you write with a mission?
If you mean with the intention of teaching something? Not really. I just have a story to tell that I hope inspires people. I believe everyone gleans from a story what they need to think about at that time.

Your newest book is Never Without Hope. It’s already out on Kindle, when does the print version release?
The print version officially releases July 1st. However, I am going to be selling some pre-order copies and autographing them and mailing them with free bookmarks to people who order between now and June 15th. By June 15th the book should probably be available on Amazon, though the shipping won't be free and they won't have autographed copies and cool bookmarks. (Contact michelle@michellesutton.net for this offer).

Is this your edgiest book yet? Yes, definitely.

Describe for readers why it earns this title.
Honestly? Because there is sex in the book. I'm not aware of any Christian novels that have sex in them like this. It's interesting to me, however, that the Bible talks about not forsaking your spouse (sex) lest you cause them to stumble, yet there are no Christian books that address this topic at all. Usually if a spouse is cheating in Christian fiction it's the man doing it, and it's never revealed why, or that lack of sex had anything to do with it. It's like no one wants to admit that this is an issue for Christian couples, and yet the divorce rate is just as high as with couples who don't profess faith in Christ, which tells me that something is clearly broken and being ignored rather than dealt with. I've had one reader tell me that reading my book really helped her to empathize with and support her friend who was going through a situation just like Hope had gone through. She said she appreciated that because before she read my book she simply didn't get the appeal the affair had for her friend.

Which scene in this book was the hardest for you to write?
None were hard to write, per se. Though the one that always gets me choked up is the one where she meets with her husband the first time after the affair is revealed, and he is willing to talk to her. She feels so unworthy that it makes me cry every time I read that part.
(I got choked up reading that scene too!)

Which was the easiest?
Oh, the kissing scenes. I love writing those sizzling kisses. :)

What is the most important advice you could give to pre-published writers?
Don't get discouraged. It's a tough business and honestly, it doesn't get any easier after you sell your book. You still have to market it or you may not sell another.

Do you have any parting words for readers?
Please consider buying my book. If you do read it, feel free to post a comment on my website guest book. That's the kind of stuff that keeps an author writing. Everyone needs a little encouragement now and then. My website is www.michellesutton.net

Thanks so much for sitting in the hot seat. I’d love to have you pop in again sometime!




Coming Attractions:
Friday, June 18th- Bestselling author Deeanne Gist will be here to discuss her new book Maid to Match.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Can I get some blog button love?

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I'm hosting a giveaway this month to celebrate the launch of my blog, and even though Edgy Inspirational Romance has taken off, surprisingly few people have entered the contest.

So here's a little reminder. I'm giving away a custom designed blog button and share code from Designer Blogs. They did such a great job with this place, don't you think?

If you'd prefer, you can apply the value of a blog button ($15) toward the design service of your choice. This is a great time to win this prize because Designer Blogs is having a 15% off sale on custom designs or pre-made orders placed during the month of June.

Here's what you have to do to enter:
1. Follow me publicly.
2. Post my blog button on your website.
3. Leave me a comment (either on this post, or my original post) to let me know you followed the directions.

You have to follow all three steps to be entered in the giveaway. If you'd like to earn an additional entry, blog about this contest and leave me a link in the comment section.

I'll post the entry numbers as the contest winds down, and the winner will be chosen June 16 by Random.org. I reserve the right to extend the contest if I have less than ten entrants.

(If you blog about Christian or writing related topics, and would like to trade buttons with me, leave that in your comments too and I'll gladly reciprocate.)






Coming Attractions:
Wednesday- Michelle Sutton stops by for an interview about her book, Never Without Hope
Thursday- Look for my first Thursday Thirteen
Friday June 18th- I'll be speaking to bestselling author, Deeanne Gist.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Well, technically it's Sunday night, but it's Monday in Australia, so let's get this show on the road.

I've done more writing than reading this week, but the novel on my iPhone right now is absolutely delicious. Whenever I get a spare minute- in line at the grocery store or during my lunch break at work, I pop it open.

The book is called Daughter of Joy by Kathleen Morgan. It was published in 1999, but I just got it free from Amazon last week. I've never heard of Morgan before, but I'm excited to see this is the first of a series.

Don't you love it when you discover a new-to-you author? I'll be able to read the entire series back to back without waiting. Doesn't get any sweeter than that.

So, what are you reading?




Coming Attractions:
Wednesday- Michelle Sutton stops by for an interview about her book, Never Without Hope
Thursday- Look for my first Thursday Thirteen
Friday June 18th- I'll be speaking to bestselling author, Deeanne Gist.

(This blog hop hosted by Sheila at BookJourney)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Review: Never Without Hope by Michelle Sutton

The word on the 'net is Christian fiction doesn't come any edgier than Michelle Sutton. In the last few weeks, I've been all over the World Wide Web professing my love for edgy inspirational romance, so I decided it was time to pony up and try the edgiest on the market.

Sutton's reputation is well earned.

If I rated books by how high they made my eyebrows raise, I'd award Never Without Hope top Vulcan Honors. But along with the edgy content- and I do mean edgy, is an equally powerful message about forgiveness and God's grace.

Hope's life is such a train wreck, I wanted to reach right into the book and pull her off the tracks. She's cheating on her husband, lying to her family, and sleeping around in cars (okay, technically just that once- but still). She's headed for disaster.

Sutton built a sense of urgency in the first half of the book which made it hard to put down. I just knew this situation would blow up in Hope's face, and couldn't stop reading until it did.

I would consider this a nontraditional romance because the heroine spends the first half of the story with a man who is not the hero. This leaves the reader with a sense of unease that I can't help but think was intentional on the author's part. We feel the despair and the weight of her sin right along with Hope.

That connection to the characters is where Sutton really shines. Their emotions were authentic and heartbreaking and sometimes scary. She showed just how easy it is to fall into temptation when we don't keep our guards up. But best of all, she showed that with repentance, forgiveness exists for everyone- adulterers included. When you let Him, the Lord can repair even the most broken of marriages. With that knowledge, we're never without hope.

(And bonus points to Sutton for a rockin' book cover!)


Want more information? Here's the back cover blurb:
Hope believes she is above sexual temptation; that she would never break that commandment like her husband's previous wives had done. After all, she is a good Christian and a loving mother. She has no reason to stray . . . until her husband starts neglecting her needs and things begin to look hopeless. Though she clearly communicates her pain to her husband, he refuses to get help. She starts to wonder…Will she never have sex with her husband again? She soon learns that she, too, is capable of such betrayal when she succumbs to the unthinkable.

But things that first seemed sweet and reasonable given her painful situation soon produce a bitter taste when combined with the overwhelming guilt. No substitute will ever replace her love and desire for her husband. If only he would touch her like he used to. If only they could make love again. She misses him so much and wants to tell him the truth hoping it will propel him to do something to fix their problem, but she fears his rejection. Yet, she can't continue living such a hypocritical life. She knows it's wrong even though she continues to crave physical intimacy. Steeped in the quagmire of adultery, Hope must find her way back to solid ground to save her marriage. But will she lose everyone she loves in the process?


My Rating:








Coming Attractions:
I'll have the pleasure of talking to Michelle Sutton about her book Wednesday when she pops in for an interview. And later in the week, look for my first Thursday Thirteen.



Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Log lines? Tag lines? One sentence pitches?


So I'm attending my first ever writer's conference this month (Write! Canada in Guelph, Ontario) and I'm working myself into a nervous frenzy with log lines, tag lines, and one sentence pitches.

I'll be honest with you. I'm not sure I understand the subtle differences between the three. I've worked on this manuscript for almost two years, but I could really use another year to figure out how to pitch the thing.

Here's what I do know. They're supposed to be under twenty words (or as close to that as you can make it). They need to make someone want to hear more about your story. They are helpful to use when pitching your novel or when querying publishers and agents. They are not the same thing as an elevator pitch.

These are my contenders so far:

1. A struggling Hamptons innkeeper guards her business, her son, and her secrets when an ex-con from her past arrives seeking redemption.

2. The owner of a struggling Hamptons inn protects her business, her son, and her secrets when her ex-convict husband returns.

3. A struggling Hamptons innkeeper guards her business, her son, and her secrets when her ex-convict husband returns seeking redemption.

Anyone want to help a sister out? Chime in and let me know which is your favorite, or I'm open to suggestions.

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