Friday, October 31, 2008

Hosting Server Issues---What's Going On?

My internet hosting provider seems to have disappeared off the net. What's going on?

I haven't received emails since yesterday around 6AM. Tried to access my account and can't bring up the pages, nor the pages of other people I know are hosted there. So I tried to log into PowWeb direct...nope. Waited all night and tried again today. Nothing.

I'm concerned that they have gone belly up or something. Who knows with the economy the way it is. Sad thing...I updated my webpages and didn't download them to my computer. I'm praying the site will be back up sometime today, but who knows?

In the meantime, I'm going to look around for another host. I have five months left on my account with Powweb, so (crossing fingers) if they come back online, I'll try and wait before moving everything over.

My question of the day...if you know anything about Powweb, please leave me a comment. If you know of a reliable host that isn't too expensive, please leave me a comment.

Sorry for whining today, but I'm bummed out. Especially since this is my birthday and it's not supposed ot start out being ugly.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Writing That Dreaded Synopsis

I am what most writers call a "seat of the pants" or "Panster." I prefer to call myself a "dream writer." I have never been able to outline a novel, or to write a synopsis prior to writing the entire story. That, however, poses the problem with writing my synopsis. What to include?

See, once the story is finished, everything is important! Every plot, every subplot, ever beloved character who makes an appearance. Editors don't care. They don't want to know every single thing that happens. It's boring reading a play-by-play condensation of "the great american novel."

So, what to do? How does one pick out the right thing to include in the synopsis? First and foremost, the genre dictates what should be included. But first you need to know your market. For which house are you writing your synopsis? Let's look at the inspirational romantic suspense. Tough. Three separate things that need to be included. I'm targeting the romance market, inspirational line, suspense category.
Romance should be number one. Bear in mind that number one doesn't mean romance should have the biggest percentage. But I need to focus on characters first, plot second. The characters are going to fall in love. They have a problem that prevents them from being together. That something might be a difference in faith. Aha! So I can grab two areas right away which are included in revealing the characters. Before the end of the book, these differences must be resolved. Danger to the heroine? The hero is devastated that he may lose the heroine before he confesses his true feelings. He realizes he cannot succeed alone. He needs God.

This simplifies the process in a broad way, but it is how a good synopsis should be written. Keep it simple. Don't include every single twist and turn; don't do a chapter by chapter revealing. Do include the characters, their problem, their internal conflict, the black moment when all seems lost, and the resolution wit the happily ever after.

Good luck. I'll work on breaking this down into simpler steps, wuth some examples. Each Tuesday through December will be focused on writing the synopsis. Looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday for lesson one.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spa Confessions

Saturday my daughter took me to a spa for a facial, manicure, and pedicure. Since it was my first time at a spa, I didn't know what to expect. I was a bit nervous and self-conscious. That all faded away as soon as I entered the room for the facial. If you've ever had one, this will be a boring blog, but I'm thinking there are tons of people who have never had this me.

Yes, I did undress down to my underwear and I wore this cute little terry robe which fit snugly with elastic above my breasts and hung to my knees. The bed I lay on was curved with my feet elevated slightly and my head a tad lower. The music reminded me of that I hear when I play Mah-Jong on my computer, slow, mysterious and relaxing. The room illumination equaled that of a small candle or a nighlight. How could I not relax? My technician...not sure if that was her title or not...first rubbed a lotion on my lower legs and feet. Then she encased my legs and feet in plastic bags. Yes, truly! Next came a warm, wonderful treat. Microwave warm booties that reached above my ankles. She proceeded then to wrap my lower body in the sheet like a mummy. Oh, and the bed was heated, too! Next she did the same thing to my arms and hands. Nice and toast warm and ready to stay there forever. **sigh** She explained everything before she did it. She asked me questions about my facial concerns. Let's see. She washed my face first. At some point she did a treatment like a microderm abrasion which I use at home. Extraction of any impurities, luscious creams, a facial mask to hydrate, a massage. I didn't realize there were so many pressure points in the face. I had a headache when I went in but it disappeared after that massage. I also received a foot and leg massage, hand and arm massage, shoulder and neck massage. It was divine. When my treatment was over, I didn't want to leave. But, alas, I had to get dressed and head off to wait for my pedicure and manicure. My daughter joined me in the pedicure room. Luxury again. My own remote control to control a heated massage chair! A glass of lemon water. A sea salt soak and scrub, followed by a cool shade of nail polish. My legs and feet felt like silk. Mmmmm. The problem came when our assigned technicians (again not sure of their titles) told us we couldn't put our socks and shoes back on for at least three hours! Okay, then. If you've never had a pedicure you probably haven't seen the paper thin disposable flip flops. And it wasn't exactly a warm day. But we didn't want to ruin our pedicures. After our manicures were complete (with another hand and arm massage) we sat under dryers for aobut twenty minutes before heading off to eat lunch...wearing our paper thin disposable flip-flops.

I felt like a queen, regardless of our footwear. Besides, our feet looked too good not have them on display. :)

It was a wonderful way to spend a day with my daughter. Thanks, hon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Author Interview with Laurie Kingery

Good morning, Blog Studio!!! Isn't this a beautiful cover? This is the newest release by my dear friend, Laurie Kingery. I'm honored to be able to interview her here in the studio this morning. This will be my final interview of the year. I always take the last two months of the year to wrap myself around family and holidays. That's why I'm thrilled with Laurie's book. I had the pleasure to purchase this book at the Central Ohio Fiction Writer's conference in September. This book captured me from the first page and kept me turning the pages until the last sigh on page 279. This story has something for everyone: mystery, suspense, romance, and breathtaking scenery. With Laurie's vivid descriptions, you'll easily feel you are walking the streets of Llano Crossing, Texas in 1867. But I'd much rather have Laurie tell you about the book. Before I bring her onstage let me tell you a bit about Laurie.

Laurie Kingery makes her home in central Ohio where she is a "Texan-in-exile." Formerly writing as Laurie Grant for Harlequin Historicals and other publishers, she is the author of sixteen previous books and the 1994 winner of the "Readers' Choice Award" in the short historical category. She has been nominated for "Best first medieval" and "Career Achievement in Western Historical Romance" by "Romantic Times." When not writing her historicals, she loves to travel, read, read her email and write her blog on Please put your hands together and welcome my special guest, Laurie Kingery!


CAROL ANN: Laurie, thanks for coming. It's a pleasure to have you in the blog studio today.

LAURIE: Thanks for having me. I've been excited about being interviewed.

CAROL ANN: I've been raving about your book, which I must tell you, I loved, loved, loved! The audience has been waiting to hear more from you. So, please tell us more about your book.

LAURIE: Hill Country Christmas is the story of Delia, a preacher's granddaughter in a small town in post-Civil War Texas, already poor, who faces destitution when her grandfather dies. Then a stranger appears in town bringing her news of her inherited fortune. She's attracted to him, but he claims not to be good enough for her. Very well, she thinks, at least now, as a rich woman, she is the equal of the mayor's son, for whom she has always had feelings. Now he returns those feelings, but is he really what he seems? Meanwhile, the mysterious stranger can't seem to make himself move on. Harboring a secret of his own, he's compelled to stay around to make sure Delia is all right. Will Delia and the stranger learn to trust one another, and God, to know what's best for them? I think I got the idea by wondering what would happen to a Christian who suddenly won the lottery--would sudden wealth destroy him or her? This is just a 19th-century version of that.

CAROL ANN: And, it truly is! I know that you also work full-time like me. Would you mind sharing with the audience what you feel is the hardest thing about being a writer?

LAURIE: Maintaining the discipline to put my derriere in the chair whether I'm feeling "inspired" or not. Actually, these days, inspiration follows a good session of writing rather than preceding it. Once I really get going, it's hard to stop. And that can take an hour or two, some days.

CAROL ANN: How did you realize the God was calling you to write?

LAURIE: I've been writing since I was old enough to string sentences together, and even before that, when I could only "draw" (I'm using that term VERY loosely) and tell the story of the sentences. Dad let me borrow an old typewriter, and I started out telling animal stories. In junior high, I wrote stories of the Beatles and my friends. This might have faded out as a childish hobby, but God allowed me success in selling my very first attempt. And then, after I had written 16 historical romances as Laurie Grant, I was ready to quit and the Lord essentially told me I wasn't to waste the talent He had given me. He had my agent urge me to submit to the newly-forming Love Inspired Historical line, and here I am.

CAROL ANN: What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

LAURIE: I sold my first book, but I've had other books I couldn't sell--such as a medical suspense I wrote. To date, I haven't sold this book, but I still have hope. I've gone three years without a book out, twice now. And I've seen the door close in my face in the ABA (secular) historical romance market. One overcomes these things just by keeping on keeping on. You only fail if you stop trying.

CAROL ANN: Do you collect anything?

LAURIE: Books, of course! After going through a blizzard in 1978 without anything to read (oh horrors!) I shook my fist a la Scarlet O'Hara and vowed never to be bookless again. Now, if I stopped buying books today, I'd still have a TBR pile when I died. I confess many books have been in that pile for years.

CAROL ANN: Oh, I hear you! Me, too. I think this is true for most authors. I have a question I pose to all the authors I interview, and you, my friend, will have to answer as well. Do you believe the pen is mightier than the sword?

LAURIE: I think more minds have been affected by words in a positive way than ever by force (a sword).

CAROL ANN: Very well put! The weather has turned really cool here in central Ohio. I love autumn. I love the color changes and the brisk air when the sun is shining. It insires me greatly. Which inspires you more? A brisk walk in the autumn with the leaves changing color, or in the spring when the flowers are and trees are budding? Why?

LAURIE: I love both seasons! Do I have to choose?

CAROL ANN: **LAUGH** No, of course not. Actually I enjoy both as well. All right, here's another question. No time to think of a response in advance. You are sitting in a restaurant with several friends when someone walks up to you and thrusts a microphone in your hand. You have one minute to tell the world something....what will it be?

LAURIE: "God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you."

CAROL ANN: You are great! Have you ever thought about hosting interviews? You'd be a great hostess.

LAURIE: Thanks, I think.

CAROL ANN: How do you balance your "real" life with your "writing" life?

LAURIE: Since I still must work outside of writing (as a full-time ER nurse) that's a challenge. Except when I'm on deadline, I pretty much write only in the afternoons, and there are whole days where I can't get to write at all. At deadline times, though, or when I have revisions to do, the balance shifts so that I am only writing, eating, and sleeping--and working my other job. Appointments and lunches will have to wait, and the dinners I cook are very, very basic.

CAROL ANN: Laurie, our time is finished already. I'm sorry to have to end here. But before we go please tell the audience where they can learn more about you and your books.

LAURIE: My website is You can write me via that. My blog is right there too. My books can be ordered through or through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. If you want to check out my old books as Laurie Grant, go to www.sffnet/people/LaurieGrant

CAROL ANN: Wonderful. Thanks again, Laurie, for taking time out of your busy day to join me here in my studio.

LAURIE: It's been my pleasure, Carol Ann.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Even Funnier than Ralphie in The Christmas Story!!

Hey, don't be so surprised at the subject. Remember this blog is all about what is inside the writer's mind. Right now it's on something hilarious that I learned about one of my friends at work.

Who? Let's call her Kate just for kicks. She's a tiny woman who keeps me in stitches with her smart remarks and her ability to make fun of herself. I'm not even sure what triggered our talk that led to her sharing this bit of humor. This gal has to be one of the most naive people I've ever known.

The story: She was in grade school and standing at the bus stop on a cold icy winter day. Yep, you guessed it. Her little friends told her to "lick a truck bumper." "It's just like licking an ice cream cone. It's soooo good." Well, that's all it took...the mention of an ice cream cone. Kate loves to eat! And she wears a size 2!!! Okay, so she did it. She licked the truck bumper and, yep, just like Ralphie she's stuck to the back end of a truck. All her friends are laughing. When the bus arrives, they wave at her and start to climb on the bus. Not to be left behind, she yanks her tongue off and stands there in the snow, dripping blood. I know, I know. I shouldn't be laughing. Shame on me. But that there story is funny! Why? Because she couldn't eat for a week.

Um, so you aren't laughing like me? Well, maybe I should have told you this story first so you understand how Kate feels about food. She had a couple of rotten sisters. They knew Kate loved food. They were visiting grandma for a week during summer vacation. Grandma told them not to get into the refrigerator before dinner. Grandma was outside working in the garden and evil sisters tell Kate that grandma made meat patties for dinner and she "didn't count them!" They encouraged Kate to get into the refrigerator and check 'em out. Kate decided to eat one. Evil sisters said they weren't hungry and they weren't going to eat any of them at dinner either. So...Kate went ahead and ate two more. A total of three. A bit later Grandma came in and opened the refrigerator. She was furious! "Who fed the dog?" Yep, you got it. Kate ate three slices of dog food. Grandma had opened the top and bottom of the can, pushed out the dog food and sliced it. I mean, how dippy can you be!!!

Are you laughing yet? Hope so. Laughter is good for the soul. And I love Kate. No matter how much she likes to eat. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coffee Time Break...And a Funny Thing Happened at Work Today...

No, I don't drink coffee, but I will be participating in a chat with my fellow Sweeter Romantic Notions authors at Coffee Time Romance yahoo loop on Wednesday at 6PM EST. My characters from Joshua's Hope will make an appearance as well...and, my sometimes elusive muse. Hope to see you all there.

Anyone who knows me realizes I despise Mondays. I always wish I had one more day to my weekend, especially when I have a busy weekend and no time to have R & R. So, I walked into my office and before I could sit down, my next door office mate walks in and sits in front of my desk. The conversation went something like this:

He: I have a favor to ask. You have two books published, right?

Me: I have three full length books, three short stories, and a fourth in an anthology.

He: Yeah, well. I wondered if you could help me.

Me: Sure, what is it?

He: My wife, who is an English teacher for middle school, is writing a book! How do you handle yours? Do you have an editor that helps you with your books?

Me: Um, well, in order to get an editor, you have to have a manuscript accepted by a publisher first.

He: Oh. Is that how it works?

Me: Yes. Your wife will need to research her market, find agents, editors, or publishing houses who accept that kind of manuscript. She'll need to query first.

He: Okay.

Me: She'll need to not get discouraged if she gets rejected. Most authors are rejected multiple times before being contracted.

He: Well, she's already checked the internet and the kind of book she's writing is really hot right now.

Me: Great! What kind of book is she writing?

He: Science Fiction. For twelve year olds.

Me: That's good.

He: Yeah, she's really good! I read what she's done and it blew my socks off!

Me: It's nice that you are supporting her.

He: Oh, I am. It's really a joint effort. She told me her idea and we brainstormed back and forth.

Me: How far along is she?

He: She's finished six pages already!

Me: Great. I wish you both luck. Um, I really have to get busy now. Let me know if I can be of further help.

He: I will! She's really good! I'm so proud of her.

**sigh** Maybe she'll get lucky and her book will be one of those overnight sensations. You think?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Revised Website

I spent about three hours yesterday revamping my website. Moon and Back Graphics designed the actual web graphics and background. I haven't found any web designs that equal Bev's work. She is exceptional. It was great fun to put the pages together. Hope you enjoy them.

This coming week, I have to finish my fall newsletter. If you haven't signed up yet, you can visit my website and click on the link to sign up. You will only receive four newsletters each year. I do not post your email addresses to anyone and you will not receive spam emails from me.

Be sure to stop back in on Thursday. I'll be interviewing my dear friend, Laurie Kingery, about her newest release for Steeple Hill...HILL COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.

I'm also requesting prayers for my son-in-law, Bob, who is being treated for a serious medical condition. Please keep him and his family in your daily prayers.

Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young

A friend in a bible study group asked if I'd read "The Shack" yet. Truthfully, I hadn't heard about the book. This past weekend, while browsing in Moments of Majesty Christian store, I spied the paperback on a shelf and snagged it. Last night I finished it.

As my friend suggests, it makes one think about a lot of things, especially the Trinity and your own relationship with God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit. Also, it researches deep grief, families, and forgiveness.

While a work of fiction, I found myself questioning at times whether it could be real. There are a number of issues and statements made by Young's fictional characterization of God that made me uncomfortable...especially about religion as we have been taught as Christians.

I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but I would recommend it to anyone who is a Christian and struggling with how to let God live within you. If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

March of Dimes...Marketing...Guilt

Yesterday I received an envelope from the March of Dimes. Clearly showing through a cellophane window was a dime. I could have thrown the envelope away, but I made a conscious decision to open it. I felt it would be sinful, especially in light of our economy, to throw the dime away.

Inside I found labels for Christmas presents and labels for mailing envelopes and packages. And a response card (on which is the dime) asking for a donation of $10, $12, $15, or Other $. Another dilemma. If I take the dime, and use the labels, does that make me a "bad" person? I think this must have been a carefully thought out "guilt" marketing plan.

Just below the response card is this message:

Mrs. Erhardt, I know I've taken a risk in sending you this dime....There's a chance you might not return it to me along with a few dollars of your own to help us reach out to the nearly 1,400 babies born prematurely and about 330 babies born with serious birth defects each day.

Okay, now take that guilt I already have and multiply it. **sigh**

I'll be like a lot of other people and I'll mail in a check to the March of Dimes. So, now I've spent $15.00 and a stamp and the cost of a check, for 72 mailing labels, 5 package labels, and a dime. But the March of Dimes will use my $15.00 wisely, right? Use it to help those babies born with birth defects?

What do you think? I'd sure like to hear from my readers on this one. If you don't have a Blogger accuont, you can still comment by using the anonymous choice below the comment. If you don't respond, nothing bad will happen to you or to me. How's that for relieving guilt?

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday - Book Clip from Joshua's Hope

Happy Tuesday Morning! Did I tell you all that I'm doing physical therapy twice a week to strengthen my neck and shoulder muscles? So far, so good. Guess this is supposed to help me with the neck and back pain from the arthritis. Hmmm. Time will tell.

I'm reading a book that I can't wait to tell you about. But I'll save that for another day. How about sharing a little clip from my latest release...Joshua's Hope. Enjoy!


Hope took a deep breath and eased open the
bedroom door inch by inch. Assured that no one was
in the hall, she stepped out and silently closed the
door behind her.

Loud voices drifted up the stairwell. She opened
Joshua’s door and slipped inside. His eyes were
open. He stared at her, silent tears carving paths
down his cheeks. She put a finger on her lips, urging
him not to say anything. She lifted him and he
wrapped himself around her like a small monkey.

“Mommy,” he whispered.

“It’s all right. Mommy is going to take you home
with her now. But you have to be very quiet. Can
you do that?”

He nodded against her neck. “I need white

Hope reached for the stuffed animal she’d given
him on his first birthday. The neck fur had been
rubbed off in two places from Joshua’s fingers.

“Mommy will carry white doggie for you. Don’t be
scared and don’t look up. Just hold on tight.”

He nodded again, his arms squeezing tighter.

She kept one arm firmly around him and eased
the door open. So far, so good. She only needed to get
downstairs without being seen.

She closed Joshua’s door and began a slow

The hairs prickled on the back of her neck,
alerting Hope someone was watching. Swiveling her
head, her gaze locked with Anna’s. For endless
moments, Hope’s heart stopped.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Writing Tip - Tapping into the Senses

Children are funny, smart, and always thinking. They know how to tap into creativity. Have you ever watched a child open a present, set aside the contents, and play with the box? As an adult, what could you imagine the box could be used for?

What if we could tap into that creative side of our brain? What if we could tune out the world around us and zero in on a make-believe moment? That's what we need to do as a writer. Writing isn't about sitting down and just slapping words onto a computer screen or a piece of paper. Oh, sure, you can do that. But if you haven't committed yourself into your make-believe world first, you won't be successful. do we tap into that creativity? Here's a tip that works for me. Look at the scene you are trying to create. What is your setting? Let's look at a scene where your character is outside on a sunny day. If you look out your window and see sunshine...walk outside and close your eyes. Experience what you see, what you feel, hear, smell...

Example from my book HIT AND RUN:

She sat on the dock, worn smooth from weather and age, and circled her legs with her arms. The sun warmed her back. She was at peace, wrapped in memories of happier times as she gazed across the water.

A fish jumped, creating ever-widening circles that ebbed toward shore. She turned her face up to the sky where fluffy white clouds billowed, moving and changing shape. When they were small, she and Jilly had been able to find shapes within the clouds. She could hear Jilly's juvenile voice callilng, "Look, Beth, a dragon. See his tail and the fire coming from his mouth?"

So many pleasant memories surrounded her, filling her with a calming peace. She fished until the sun rose higher. Slipping off her shirt, she applied sun lotion as best she could in the areas her bathing suit didn't cover. She stretched out on a towel. The quiet lapping of the lake against the dock supports lulled her into closing her eyes. Her body relaxed and she drifted in hypnotic half-awareness.

Happy writing...and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday - Writing Tip..."Can't Put it Down Book"

When I first started writing, I formulated each chapter as a "day in the life of" scene. Guess what? I learned quickly how boring that can be. If you end your chapter at the "end" of the, how does that entice your reader to keep reading? It is too easy to stick in a bookmark and shut the book. Sometimes days will go by before they pick it up again.

So, how do you get reviews that say "I couldn't put the book down"? Easy. Stop the chapter in the middle of something or leave it with an unanswered question. Come on, you know you've read books like this.

For instance, I just finished reading Karen Harper's BELOW THE SURFACE. The last paragraph of Chapter One: "Bloodred colors exploded before her eyes, in her head. Something huge lunged at her. Then came only blackness."

Could you just close the book on that? I couldn't. Chapter Two ends: "But these sharks almost bumping the boat were no work of art--this race was life and death for real." You bet...I kept on reading...

I've had reviews for my books that said "real page turner", "couldn't put it down", "had to read it all the way through". Those are the kinds of reviews you want to receive. It's the kind of reviews that make your readers anxious to read your next book.

It's like a movie shown in serials. Each one leaves you hungry for the next. So, if you want to create a "can't put it down book", end each chapter with a cliff hanger!

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday - Daily Clip on Death and Dying

Last night my son-in-law's mother left her pain behind when God called her home. She put up a hard battle against the leukemia, lymphoma and congestive heart failure. Throughout her trial, she kept her wonderful sense of humor despite the pain.

Today we have one less angel on earth and one more angel singing in God's choir. I know she and her husband who went before her are both smiling down today and wishing their son a happy birthday. They would want him not to mourn but to celebrate. Wonderful warm memories will bring smiles, and they will live forever in the hearts of those who love them.

Thank you for stopping by. May God's blessings be with you today and always.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weird Insects...Part II

Back again with pics. This first one is the grasshopper...see he looks just like a leaf. If you weren't looking closely, you'd miss him. Cute little fellow.

The pics of this guy didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped. One was very blurry when I tried to get close. He's laying on his side after we knocked him off, but I think you can see the long silky hair and the wings clearly. At the front where the dark part of the head is...he has black "pinchers" like a spider. Very lethal looking.

So does anybody know the name of these two insects? Curious minds want to know.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Weird Insects...Part I

While we were camping, we saw a multitude of different colored caterpillars. Our site settled us in a very wooded area with acorn trees and walnut trees. The sound of falling nuts could become loud when they'd strike our gazebo or camper, sometimes creepy...especially at night.

Before we left, I snapped a picture of a strange, but cute, grasshopper of some kind. But while we were taking down the gazebo, we saw a "white caterpillar" and hubby started to lift it off. I stopped him before he touched it. It wasn't an ordinary caterpillar.

Instead it was furry white...with attached white wings with muted black striations. Additionally, it had fangs...big black fangs like a venomous spider. We knocked it to the ground with a stick and I took pictures. I've been searching the internet but I haven't found anything like it yet. Do you know what it might be?

Tomorrow I'll post pictures.

Thanks for stopping by.