Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday and that brings us one day closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas. While I'm not looking forward to the shorter days, I am looking forward to the prospect of our first snowfall. This year has passed so quickly.

It's time to think about preparing for Thanksgiving dinner (for those in the U.S.).  The past two years, I've hosted a family dinner which included about 20 people. It was always a lot of fun, but this year I don't have access to borrowing big tables so that everyone can sit around one table together. So, instead I'm having a Christmas get together. What about you? What are your plans for the upcoming holiday season?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Win an Autographed Copy of MAIL ORDER COWBOY!!

The Blog Studio is back on the "air" this coming Monday, November 1. Stop by and sit in the audience while I conduct an interview with my dear friend, author Laurie Kingery, who writes for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals (Harlequin).

A few weeks ago, I reviewed her book, MAIL ORDER COWBOY on my blog.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read American historicals, or Christian fiction. It's fantastic. You'll laugh, cheer, and perhaps shed a happy tear. I cannot wait for the next release in this series.

Laurie is going to give away an autographed copy of the book to one of the Blog Studio Audience who leaves a comment...so don't miss your chance to be a winner.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Do You Purchase a Book?

Recently, one of my email loops discussed the value of social networking to sales. According to several surveys, readers are not moved to purchase a book due to advertising on social networks, websites, or publishers websites. Readers purchase books that someone else has recommended, or from an author they have already read and love.

So what is a beginning author to do? You must be famous to be famous?

Just look at our bookstores and libraries. Shelves chock full of books, many different genres, many, many authors. What distinguishes one book over another? A cover? A title? A name?

Speaking as a reader, not a writer, what motivates you to purchase a book?

All comments today will get your name entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of my book, JOSHUA'S HOPE, and also get your name entered into my monthly drawing for a Bath and Body Works Gift Certificate. Winners will be announced on my blog on November 2. It is up to the winner to contact me with their mailing information.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Long and Dark Days Ahead

The days are getting shorter. I love the change of seasons, but I don't like the short amount of daylight we get. Sunshine makes me feel happy and full of energy. Darkness makes me feel isolated and melancholy. Next weekend we'll be turning the clocks back an hour. That makes for an even earlier sunset.

My routine changes a bit in the darker months. I won't be spending time outdoors tending the yard, which gives me free time. That time will be spent writing, so I'm hoping to get a few books written before the flowers peek their heads through the soil again. And, I'll be spending more time walking on the treadmill, since I won't be getting the outside exercise. Well, until the snow falls!

My question for you is: Do you change your daily routine in the winter?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MUDDY WATERS by Maggie Toussaint

Today, I welcome author Maggie Toussaint to my blog. Maggie is published in mystery and romance. Her recent release, MUDDY WATERS, is a romantic suspense where danger stalks friends turned lovers as they search for hidden treasure. Her debut release, HOUSE OF LIES, won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. Maggie's an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Visit her at http://www.maggietoussaint.com/ and at http://mudpiesandmagnolias.blogspot.com/





Muddy Waters is out now!

What happens when you mix together a crazy family or two, a hidden fortune, and a small town where everybody knows everybody else’s business? For me, the mix turned out to be MUDDY WATERS, my latest romantic suspense release from The Wild Rose Press.

My heroine, Roxie Whitaker, is a natural-born helper. She bakes pies for bake sales, helps out with fundraisers, buys her late grandmother’s friend breakfast at the diner, she even mows an absentee neighbor’s yard for free. Helping people gives Roxie a way to fit in after a childhood of traveling with her missionary parents. She’s seen the world, and she prefers Mossy Bog in coastal Georgia.

My hero, Sloan Harding, had a rough start. Things were fine while his granddad was alive, but once he died, Sloan had to live with his father, the town drunk. A kindly neighbor took an interest in him, fed him, and encouraged him to finish school and join the Army. Now, years later, he’s returned to thank her, only she’s passed on and her granddaughter has her same generous spirit.

Roxie is intrigued by the contrasts in Sloan. He’s the kind of boy she never knew, the tough kid who hung out on the street, but there’s a hunger in him, a vulnerability that touches her soul.

Sloan’s turned his life around. He works for himself and has a great dog. Women come and go, but he senses that Roxie is just what he’s been searching for. Except she lives in the town he hates, the one place on earth he swore he’d never return to.

Mossy Bog is full of backwater eddies, bright sunshine, and dark shady places, courtesy of all those two hundred year old live oaks draped with Spanish moss. Folks here know about the internet and satellite radio, but there’s a sense of time standing still. Grudges endure for generations. Minds seem smaller, less accepting of change. In short, these muddy waters are Sloan’s worst nightmare.

Can he live down his past? Can he face the people who think he’s still a lowlife?

Here’s an excerpt from the end of Chapter 1:

But her jailbird brother wouldn’t be in Mossy Bog tonight. Which left her without an escort this evening.

Truthfully, going with Timmy wasn’t much better than going stag. Everyone in town knew how many dates she’d had in the last year.

She glanced at Sloan Harding. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Unless she’d gotten her wires crossed, he’d been looking at her with interest, at least until Timmy had called.

She blurted the question before she talked herself out of it. “You doing anything for dinner tonight?”

“Dinner?” he asked, clearly startled.

A trickle of perspiration dampened her spine. His grimace kicked her in the gut. What had she done? Asking a perfect stranger to dinner was forward by anyone’s standards.

She swallowed hard, wishing he’d turn her down and leave. It was bad enough she’d pressured him to check on her jailbird brother. The silence stretched out like a sea of ocean waves between them.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have put you on the spot like that. I apologize.”

He narrowed his gaze. “What’s going on?”

“Never mind.” Her stomach clenched. She dug her keys out of her purse. Time to get going. Time to put Sloan Harding in her rearview mirror. “I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”

He stepped between her and the door. “I’m available for dinner tonight.”

She shook her head. “I apologize. I don’t know what came over me. I’m not in the habit of inviting strangers to dinner. It’s just…I’m just…well, the truth is, Timmy was supposed to be my date for a wedding.”

His brow furrowed. “You need me to stand in for your brother?”

“You don’t even know Megan or Dave. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Please, explain.”

Roxie gripped her keys in both hands. “Really. It’s no big deal. I feel awful for mentioning it.”

“No problem. Tell me where we’re going for dinner.”

She gnawed on her bottom lip. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, but I don’t like to go into any situation blind. What did I agree to?”

She squeezed her eyes shut, digging deep for courage. She drew in a deep breath for good measure. “My best friend, Megan Fowler, is getting married tonight. You’re welcome to attend the ceremony, but coming to the dinner afterwards will be enough.”

“Fine. I’ll pick you up. Where are we going?”

“St. John’s Episcopal Church, on Main Street. It’s half a mile south of your house. The wedding is at six, and the dinner buffet is at seven-thirty. No need to pick me up because I have to be there at five. Could you meet me in the parish hall between seven and seven-thirty?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Thanks. I owe you big time for this.”

“I owed you for the yard work anyway. Let’s call it even.”

Roxie’s gratitude fizzled. One dinner date versus thirteen years of yard work? No way was that even.

Surprising her, he shot her a “gotcha” look, then chuckled in a way that ruffled what was left of her composure. “Don’t worry. I promise to be a full-service date.”

MUDDY WATERS is available now! Buy links for Muddy Waters:

e-book: digital format at Wild Rose Press

trade paperback: Amazon or Wild Rose Press


Maggie Toussaint
Author of romance and mystery
http://www.maggietoussaint.com/
http://mudpiesandmagnolias.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Forgotten Halloween Decorations

Halloween is coming very soon. It's also the day I was born. My mother always made a big deal out of sending me something decorative and funny to put in my house or on my desk at at work. My co-workers used to gather around when I'd receive a present sent to my work address to see what she'd found for me. There was a witch sitting in a rocker who moved and laughed, motion activated. The last gift she sent was a broom made of sticks. One side said "The Witch is In" the other "The Witch is Out". Yesterday I was thinking about how I'd failed to decorate the house the last few years. The presents I've been given by her and others sit on a shelf in the closet. Last year my mother was living with us, and she never mentioned the decorations in the closet. I had become so used to not decorating, that I forgot all about them. My mother passed away on December 30 last year. I regret that I let my busy life get in the way of remembering to put out the decorations, which would have brightened her day in many ways. Yet, bless her heart, she never once asked me. This year, I just can't bring myself to sit them out because she isn't here.

Have you ever forgotten something which would have been important to a loved one in your life?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lighting the Tree

I know. I know. You aren't ready to hear about Christmas yet. I used to be one who didn't want to hear one thing about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

But...this year, since I'm not working a full-time day job, I kind of got in the Christmas spirit early. Today I ventured to Michael's to pick up a few items for my granddaughters to work on tomorrow. We're having a "girls night" at Grandma's. I decided to buy them wooden boxes with designs on the top that they could paint and line with felt. Fun! I bought a variety of acrylic paints and brushes. I know they'll have fun, because they like to craft just like I do.

While I meandered through the aisles at the craft store, I saw all kinds of Christmas items. And they didn't make me shudder. I almost wished I could hear Christmas music. Don't throw tomatoes at me. I'm making up for last year when we had a really sad Christmas.

This year I'm planning a family get together, and I'll have lots of time and fun thinking of decorating ideas and craft things I can make to give away. I'm even thinking how fun it will be when our cats invade our tree and the cute pics I can get.

And, yesterday, I decided to upload my Christmas short story "Lighting the Tree" to the Kindle platform. It should be availabe for purchase for only $1.00 sometime tomorrow.

So, how many of you are thinking about Christmas already?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Simple Little Band of Gold

Over the years, I've gained a little weight and my size 5 wedding ring no longer fits...well, except for when it's really, really cold. The intricate design on the ring may prevent it from being sized, but I plan to pursue that at a later date. In the meantime, I've been wearing the very tight ring, which frequently causes my finger to get some kind of dermatitis...itchy, burning, and then it peels. When that happens, I have to leave the ring off for a few weeks while the skin irritation heals. (You can see the wide pink skin below the ring in the picture which depicts the wide size of my old wedding band and the area that is affected.) I disliked going out in public without my ring. After nearly 31 years, let's face it, I felt "undressed."
While we were shopping at a local discount store earlier in the week, I decided to check out their jewelry section. I spied a gold band. We looked at sizes but everything they had in stock was much bigger than a size 6, the size I needed. Then the clerk pulled out a narrower simple little band of gold. One in stock. Size 6.
I'm so thrilled. Now, I have a wedding ring again! And, I realize that I don't need anything fancy. I don't need flashy diamonds. I love the look of the band on my finger. In fact, I can't stop admiring it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are You Feeling Like You're at the End of Your Rope?






Sometimes it's better to just be quiet and let someone else do the talking. So that's what I'm going to do today. My friend, JoAnn Carter, posted a blog on White Roses in Bloom yesterday, which resonated with me.

Have you ever gotten really wrapped up in worrying about when or if you'll ever get that writing contract? Does your dream seem so far out of reach that you want to give up? Has it stopped you from the joy of writing? How about stopping you from congratulating another author's good news?

I've been there, and if you have, I suggest--no I strongly urge--you to check out the link to JoAnn's blog post. http://whiterosesinbloom.blogspot.com/2010/10/following-dream.html

Leave JoAnn a comment on the White Rose Blog, and leave me a comment telling me if you've suffered from a deluge of rejections and how you overcame. Remember every comment gets your name entered in my October drawing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Haunted by Characters and Their Story

I'm diligently working on editing my manuscript. The plot wasn't working and in order to fix it, I had to change the beginning and a major part of the backstory. That, friends, means a complete rewrite. I can salvage pieces of scenes, but most of the work is new pages.

The new plot is working well, and the story is 100% better. Some writers would have shoved this aside and gone on to write a new book. I tried, but the characters and the situation kept haunting me.

What about you? Have you ever had characters and story that just had to be told, even if it meant a rewrite? How did you handle it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writers can be Likened to Lab Rats

If you want to succeed as a writer, you must treat it like any other job. I'd heard that from so many people, but I couldn't figure out how to make that work when I first began my writing career. I set up a separate room for my writing, with my desk facing a window so I could look outside and enjoy the scenery. I bought a new computer and a widescreen monitor, and big desk with a comfortable chair. I was ready to write!

Nothing made me feel better than sitting at my new desk. I looked at it and smiled. I arranged everything to be neat and pretty. Ah, I would be a professional writer. An author. How could I fail with a setup like this? I began my day by checking emails, answering emails, maybe playing a game of solitaire to warm up. Oh, and then I had to go online and do my banking. Then I needed to put something on Facebook. Oh, yes, time to do a blog. Two hours have passed. I need to check emails and see if there is anything urgent...on, and on it went. When I finally pulled up a blank page to write, I became distracted by things happening outside my window, the urge to check emails or see how many people had visited my website or my blog.

Eventually, I realized I just wasn't going to get any writing accomplished if I didn't change something. So, my solution was to buy a very cheap, no-frills, laptop and removed internet and email capabilities. I put the laptop on a small desk on the opposite side of the room where there is no window. I have a CD player there and I listen to specific music when I write. As long as I'm at the laptop, I write. Nothing else is done in that spot of the room except writing.

Suzanne Brockmann, in a workshop given on October 1, 2010 at the Central Ohio Fiction Writers conference, called this "anchoring." I had never heard of anchoring before. She said it is consciously attaching a response to a known stimulus. Just as we learned in Psychology 101, we are creatures of habit. Remember Pavlov and his dogs? He would ring a bell before feeding the dogs and eventually they began to salivate when they heard the bell. Mice and rats were trained to react to specific stimuli to receive food. Many times we don't realize that we have created the same situations for ourselves as writers.

Now, my brain is now conditioned to write when I fire up my laptop. Suzanne also said we should keep our writing space from being corrupted by outside stimuli. If possible, shut the door when you are going to write. If the phone rings, move away from your writing spot to take the call. If you play music when you are writing, turn it off when you answer the phone. If you are interrupted by your husband or kids, shut off the music, stand up and walk away from the computer. Do not sit back down and turn on the music until the outside stimulus is removed. Eventually, you will have a conditioned response to fire up your creative brain when sitting in your "writing" space.

Even if you don't have an office for writing, you can set up a spot for yourself in a corner of one of your rooms. Use the same rules as stated above. Only sit there when you are writing. Stop and move away when you are interrupted.

I still enjoy my window, my big desk and my super computer and monitor. That's where I write my blogs, do social networking, update my website, pay bills, send and receive emails, and occasionally play a game of solitaire. But, when it's time to write, I move away and go to my not so fancy little corner of the room.

If you haven't yet discovered "anchoring," why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose and a manuscript to gain!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ever Have One of Those Nights When Your Dreams are Weird?

Ugh. Ever have one of those nights when your dreams are all twisted and weird? The worst part is those are the ones I wake up and remember so vividly.

I remember walking outside and seeing neighbors (a man and woman I've never seen before so why were they in my dream?) standing outside with paint brushes and swatches. They'd put blobs of paint which were an atrocious bright seafoam green blue on our siding. Apparently, my hubby had picked out new siding to have put on our house! Ugly!!!! And when I asked how much it would cost, they said $50,000. What??? I put my foot down and told hubby no way were we going to spend that kind of money on siding of any kind.

Then the dream kind of switched and I was in our family room with all kinds of odds and ends of furniture, bookcases, small tables, and our living room furniture as well. Everything was jumbled up and I was trying to rearrange and make it livable. An impossible task. Included among all this rubble was my ironing board! I struggled and kept trying to make it look decent and then my deceased mother (who in my dream was her mother) was down there with me and I was trying to make a corner for her to sit in a chair, have a light, and a table beside her.

I was very tired when I woke up to the sound of my furnace coming on. Last night our temps dropped to that ultimate freezing mark of 32 degrees Farenheit. The nice warm shower helped to warm my bones, but the dreams are still in the forefront of my mind.

Have you ever experienced really weird things in your dreams that made no sense at all? Care to share?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review - Mail Order Cowboy by Laurie Kingery

I'm not usually drawn to historicals, but Laurie Kingery is one of my favorite authors in the inspirational historical romance genre. I adored Hill Country Christmas and The Outlaw's Lady, so when I had the opportunity to pick up her latest book at a conference, I couldn't pass it up. Mail Order Cowboy is the first in a series called "Brides of Simpson Creek."

In Mail Order Cowboy, Laurie takes an old theme of mail order brides and gives it a twist. The small Texas town of Simpson Creek is left with no single young men after the Civil War. So, enterprising Milly Matthews comes up with an idea to run an ad in the Houston Telegraph, a larger city newspaper for which her uncle is the editor. She gathers the young unmarried ladies of the town together and they form The Simpson Creek Society for Promotion of Marriage.

When aristocratic British cavalry officer Nicholas Brookfield rides into town to check out the society, he is quite taken by Miss Milly Matthews. However, Nicholas isn't exactly Milly's idea of a cowboy. She's looking for a nice southern gentleman who knows his way around a ranch, since she and her sister Sarah have been struggling to keep their ranch going after their father's death. Only moments after meeting Nicholas at a meeting of the newly formed spinster's society, Milly is summoned back to the ranch. A band of raiding comanches has burned their barn and most likely killed her ranch manager.

Milly soon learns Nick is much more than he appears to be. Although he isn't privy to how a ranch is run, he offers to stay and help until her ranch hand recuperates from his near-fatal injuries inflicted by the comanches. The story of how Nick sets about to win Milly's heart amidst distrust of his foreign roots, small-town bigotry, comanche threats, and a secret he must hide, is a joy to read. Both must face dangers and search for a faith deep enough to overcome their doubts to find the answers to their prayers.

I loved this book and am anxiously awaiting the next release in the series.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Real Writer's Can't Quit - Guest Blogger Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Today, I'm thrilled to welcome Award-winning author, Pamela Thibodeaux to my blog. Pamela is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana and a member of White Roses in Bloom Authors. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

***************************************************************


Being a writer is one thing, an author another, and a published or multi-published author something else altogether. It seems the more I learn the more there is to learn and the more I write and get published, the more there is to do. Amidst edits and revisions there’s blogging, networking, promoting and somewhere inbetween all that and home/family/work obligations, write that next article, essay, poem, devotional and most-importantly - book!

I’ve written articles on time management…. budget your time just like you budget your money and getting rid of excuses ... you can’t find time to write, you have to make time to write.

I’ve tried goals – too intimidating. I make “to do lists” that never get completed because I scratch off one item and add 3 more. My claim to fame for being organized is a desk calendar on which I jot down those things I just can’t avoid – things that have to be done.

But the sheer truth of the matter is, life has a tendency to get in the way.

So how do I manage?

In snatches.

Experts say that frequent ten-minute walks are just as effective for long-term health as two or three longer walks. The same holds true for writing. A good friend said to me one day, “a sentence or paragraph a day is one sentence or paragraph closer to finishing” and we’ve all heard that one page a day equals a 365 page novel in a year (330 if you take Sunday off).

What sage advice.

I’ve been amazed at what I can produce in 15 – 30 minute snatches.

That’s how my story, In His Sight came about. The story began as an entry for White Rose Publishing’s ‘Hearts Crossing’ contest in which we were given a bare-bones synopsis and cover. I began writing the story in May 2009. My husband had been fighting the battle against Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and with a full time job, doctor visits, etc. my time was cut to thirty minute increments. That’s all I had but I managed to get the story 3/4ths finished before he passed away on August 18th. For months after his death I never thought I’d write again until Jan 2010.

Since the contest was long since over and the winner announced – I revised the title, made a few changes and finished this story, determined to do something, anything to wade through the grief that held me captive.

In His Sight was released on July 23rd and is available now from White Rose Publishing and is a testament to the human spirit as well as the old adage “real writers can’t quit.”

We might take a break or even a long hiatus, but we don’t quit-no matter what life throws at us.

In His Sight Blurb: Grade school teacher Carson Alexander has a gift—a gift that has driven a wedge between him and his family. Worse, it’s put him at odds with God. Feeling alone and misunderstood, Carson views God’s gift of prophecy as the worst kind of curse…that is until he meets Lorelei Conner, landscape artist extraordinaire, and perhaps the one person who may need Carson and his gift more than anyone ever has.

Lorelei Connor is a mother on the run. Her abusive ex-husband has followed her all over the country trying to steal their daughter. Distrusting of men and needing to keep on the move, she’s surprised by her desire to remain close to Carson Alexander. Through her fear and hesitation, she must learn to rely on God to guide her—not an easy task when He’s prompting her to trust a man.

Can their relationship withstand the tragedy lurking on the horizon?

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com/
Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/
WRIB Blog: http://whiterosesinbloom.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Freaked Out!!

This morning, I set about updating my website to add my new book covers and purchase links. All seemed to be going well and then I pressed the "preview" button...
Yikes! Everything had been rearranged and my sidebar with the links to pages had disappeared.

Yes, I freaked out.  I managed to exit the program and at least my page was still standing, but I'd deleted things that had been on there before. Now, what would I do?

That's why I have a website administrator. Thank goodness for the wonderful talents of my web designer, Karen McCullough, Karen's Web Works.  She quickly went in and found that it wasn't my fault after all, but a "bug" in word press that she could work around.

I know many authors who design and maintain their own websites. I used to do that, but I soon realized that I'd never be able to keep up with all the internet changes. Karen designs several of my author friends sites as well.

If you're looking for a super web designer, please check out her site.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Appreciate Your Cover Artist

If you haven't thought about all the time and effort that goes into creating your book cover, then you're among the majority of writers. Sometimes I've loved my book covers and sometimes I've been a wee bit disappointed, but still thought they were good.

I've been busy putting my returned rights books back into publication via e-book. Getting the text in appropriate format is not difficult at all, nor is uploading the information to the digital platform.

However, searching for photos to make my own covers has been very time intensive! Hours and hours of looking through photos trying to the perfect images is not fun. And, then I had to put on my graphics hat and try to remember everything I'd learned about using my program to its fullest. I do not have photoshop, nor do I want to spend funds to purchase any programs. I have PaintShop Pro v.6...and older program.

Finally, I completed my second book cover.


Hit and Run is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store at Amazon and Foxfire should be available for purchase on Tuesday.

I'm excited to have these books available for purchase again and I hope you like the bookcovers!

Have you ever designed a book cover or have you thought about how much time and effort goes into creating one? Have you ever been disappointed with a book cover?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Amazon Kindle - Hit and Run

Yesterday, I decided to work on putting my returned rights books on the Kindle platform at Amazon. A friend and fellow author, Becky Barker, gave a presentation on how to do this at one of my RWA chapter meetings. I'd been putting it off, worrying that it would be difficult to do.

BUT, much to my surprise, the whole experience took less than two hours. The book uploaded very fast, unlike my experience with Smashwords. What took the longest was finding the image I wanted to use for my bookcover. Searching through pages and pages of photos, especially when you have a very definite idea of what you want, is very time consuming. Finally, I opened my mind to other possibilities and found one that I really liked.

The advantage I have is that my books have already gone through a professional edit since they were published previously. Both books sold really well. I did some small edits to removing words I felt didn't match my current platform of being an inspirational author, but the plot and characters have not been changed in any way.

The book itself is not yet available on Amazon. The digital platform site requires 48 hours to complete the process. Next month, I plan to release FOXFIRE.

Perhaps I'd better start the photo search now!  How about you? Do you have a Kindle e-reader or have you thought about putting any of your books on the Kindle Store at Amazon?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Holding Tightly

I'm in the middle of a very enlightening Bible Study by Beth Moore, Believing in God. I've taken several of Beth's studies, but this one has been a personal journey of faith for me. I've been looking inside myself and identifying the reasons I lack the faith I want, need, crave to have. The self-discovery has moved me to tears on many occasions.

Last night, Beth shared something that will resonate within me forever.  I know it, I knew it, but I'm not sure I truly believed it. God will never leave us.  He will never let go

Why does my faith falter?  The answer is within me.  It's what I fear I am or will be.  The devil is looking always for the weakness in me, the one I harbor as a fear of who I truly am, and he actively goes about confirming that! But, God has me tightly in His grip. And He has you tightly in His grip!

Picture what Beth showed us last night. Your arm is extended and God is gripping tightly to your forearm. But, your hand is not gripping His. That's when the devil is working on you, eating away at your self-doubts, your fear of failure.  Now take your hand and put it tightly around that of the Lord. Grip with all your might. As long as you are holding tightly to God, the devil will be defeated.  You are who God says You are.  You are His beloved child.

My shield of faith from Beth's study says:
God is who He says He is.
God can do what He says He can do.
I am who God says I am.
I can do all things through Christ.
God's word is alive and active in me.

I'm believing God!!

I hope you are, too.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Tanya Hanson

Today, I'm thrilled to have fellow White Rose Author, Tanya Hanson as guest blogger. (Remember, all comments on today's blog will get your name entered twice in my October drawing.) Tanya, please take over the blog and tell folks a little about yourself and what you are writing.

Although I am a native California beach girl, the Western life has always appealed to me. Last spring, I had the great pleasure of attending The Wild Rose Press writers retreat at a real ranch in Bandera, Texas, where I cowgirled up great for four days. And just last month, my hubby and I traveled around the Tetons in a wagon train! Yee-haw. The Wild Rose Press publishes my Paradise Brides historical Western series, set in 1880 Nebraska.


I can’t thank God enough for my hubby’s return to health or for this amazing adventure at White Rose Publishing. When I’m not writing, I love traveling with hubby, hanging out with our three-year old grandson, reading the many books on my new Kindle, and listening to country music. Thanks so much, Carol Ann for inviting me here.

Amidst all the hectic hoopla surrounding our daughter’s August 2008 wedding, I knew I didn’t have the brains to start a new wip all on my own. Although my backlist and future releases are Western sensual historicals, I had decided during my husband’s battle with cancer the spring of 2008 to maybe think about inspirational. There’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to get one’s faith pounding. When I learned about the “Hearts Crossing Contest” at White Rose Publishing, I knew I had to calm my MOB nerves and keep my brain working. Using the contest template of required elements, I wrote a novella and submitted it.

It was also my first stab at a contemporary Western.

Contestants had to use “Hearts Crossing” as the title and match H and H to an already-designed cover. (A beautiful one by Nicola Martinez, both an artist and editor.) From the template, Hero had to be an English teacher with seven siblings, Heroine a landscape architect, an only child.

Well, it didn’t take me but a second to realize Hearts Crossing was a great name for a ranch. My English teacher hero lived on the family ranch and led city slicker wagon-train tours during the summer months. Our heroine, recovering from her father’s tragic death, arrives as a guest for one of the tours. Sparks fly…and both help each other during a crisis of faith.

Well, I might have been sad when the winner of the contest was announced—the wondrous Marianne Evans who has become a close friend-- except I received an e-mail from Nicola almost immediately about her interest in acquiring my story.

God rules! I could hardly believe it.

Hearts Crossing Ranch released In June, and three weeks ago, Pike Martin’s story, Redeeming Daisy, came out. And right after that, I received a contract for six more novellas, one for each of the remaining Martin siblings. Talk about never-ending joy.

I’ve just submitted the story of Hopper Martin, who has survived testicular cancer. Since this is the illness my own personal hero has successful beaten, I knew I had to create a story about another handsome survivor.

Pike, in Redeeming Daisy, is a large-animal vet who tries to guard his heart against the lost-soul Daisy Densmore—who once broke Kenn’s heart.

Here are a couple of blurbs:

Blurb for Hearts Crossing Ranch:

A beautiful city slicker and a rugged cowboy…The perfect Wild West adventure.

Cowboy Kenn Martin bears the guilt for allowing a coach to ruin his younger brother’s bright athletic future. Feeling unworthy of any happiness, he’s lost his faith in relationships and in God. When he meets Christy Forrest, he begins to hope for redemption but soon learns his past mistakes aren't something she'll easily forgive.

On the Colorado wagon train adventure planned by her late father, landscape designer Christy Forrest seeks to find peace in the nature she loves. However, she can't let go of her anger at the drunk driver who killed her dad—or the woman who did nothing to stop the man from driving. Falling for Kenn Martin begins to lighten her heart…until she realizes the handsome cowboy carries heavy a burden all his own—a burden she’s not sure she can accept.

Blurb for Redeeming Daisy.

Veterinarian rancher Pike Martin has no choice but to advise putting down the fatally ill dog. Daisy Densmore swears it's revenge for her mistreatment of Pike's brother years ago.

Although stung by her insult at his professionalism, Pike finds himself drawn to the troubled young woman who flounders in faith and aches for love and acceptance.

Costly mistakes years back have sent Daisy down an unrighteous path. Abandoned by her ex-husband, humliated and broke, she'd had no choice but to return to Mountain Cove, Colorado to put her parents' roof over her heard. As soon as she saves some money, she'll be gone. Until Pike Martin's soft voice, caring manner. and downright empathy for her wounds tempt her to stay.

With God on his side, can Pike help Daisy along the path to forgiveness, trust, and whole-hearted love?

http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/Hearts-Crossing-Ranch

http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/Redeeming-Daisy

Monday, October 04, 2010

Author Interview with Dianne Castell

The camera pans the audience where every face is smiling, everyone is clapping, and some people are singing along to the band's rendition of Jailhouse Rock! As the band concludes, the curtain rises and Carol Ann Erhardt walks center stage.


"Good morning!"

The audience echoes back "Good morning!"

"Isn't the band the best ever?"

The audience applauds loudly.

"I asked them to play that Elvis song because my guest this morning loves all of Elvis Presley's music. She's a big fan. The lady I'm talking about is a wonderful author and a super friend. Please put your hands together and welcome the one and only DIANNE CASTELL!!!"



Dianne walks onstage and she and Carol hug and then each takes a seat on the two facing armchairs.

The audience is applauding. Dianne smiles at the crowd and they settle back into their seats.

"Carol Ann, thank you so much for having me here and also for having the band play one of my favorite songs. I am such an Elvis fan! I have a cornhole set with Elvis’s profile stenciled on the board.'

"What, is a cornhole set?"

"Seriously? You've never heard of cornhole? It's a game where you toss beanbags through a board with a cut out circle. Very big in the Midwest ‘cause you can throw the bags with one hand and not have to put down your beer."

The audience laughs.

"Dianne, thank you for coming today. It's a bit cold here. It's supposed to be the beginning of fall, but these mornings are making me worried we'll have an early winter. I'm not ready for that yet."

"Me either!"

"It's always fun for me to interview my guests and ask questions that will let my audience get to know them better. Are you ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be." Dianne crosses her legs.

"Besides books, do you have any collections?"

"I do!! I collect flowers. I tell you it’s a sickness" Dianne turns to the audience. "When I see a flower at the nursery I want to take it home and plant it. This year I put in six rosebushes, five hydrangea bushes, mums, daisies, etc and Lord knows how many annuals. I never met a flower I didn’t love."

"I love flowers, too, but I'm not a gardner. I've been known to kill off beautiful plants by giving them too much water." Carol Ann shakes her head. "My husband refuses to let me near the garden hose now. All right. Question number two. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are in a restaurant having lunch, when a reporter shoves a microphone at you and you have one minute to tell the world something very important. What would you say?"

Dianne has her eyes closed.

Carol Ann leans toward her. "Dianne?"

"Can I open my eyes now?"

Audience laughter. "I told you to close them for a moment."

"How long is a moment?"

"Open your eyes, Dianne."

More laughter. "Well, I just wanted to be sure. Okay. Here's my answer. Get a job and don’t run up credit card debt. It’s the one-minute lecture I give my kids!"

"I believe I've given that one a time or two. Let's talk about you being an author for...whoops. I almost said a moment." Dianne smiles. "Any advice on how to stop writer's block?"

"You just keep writing and writing and writing. Writers write just like bankers bank and teachers teach. If something’s not perfect just write your way through it and go back and fix it later. If you want to make writing a career you have to treat it like a job and get the job done. Of course chocolate and peanut butter are great sources of inspiration."

"Speaking of chocolate..." Carol Ann hands a box to Dianne. "I wanted to give this to you to say thanks for driving all the way to Columbus to meet with me. I know you like chocolate."

Dianne opens the box and selects one of the candies. "Mmm. Delicious. Would you like one?"

"No thanks. I ate all of the candy in the first box I bought for you and had to buy another one."

Everyone laughs. "Dianne, we all have those moments when we let life get us down. But, there is usually one person we can count on to make us laugh. Who is that person in your life?"

"My daughter Ann who lives in New York City. What a fun gal. She has the best one-liners. I use a lot of them in my books. And reading Stephanie Plum books. Stephanie always makes me laugh. The old Two-and-a-half Men TV series is terrific."

"Your daughter sounds like mine. And when we are together, my cheeks hurt from all the laughing we do. So, tell me. Are you an introvert or an extravert and how does that play into your writing life?"

"I think I’m a bit of both. I have wonderful friends and love being with my kids but I like my space and doing my own thing. That’s a big part of being a writer. I think most writers have a huge introvert streak in them. You need it to get the books out. Alone is not lonely."

"Absolutely. I love that line. Now for something a little more serious. If you knew you only had 30 days to live, what would you do with the remaining days?"

"Get this next book done! I just signed a contract for a three book mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime and it is a dream come true. I love mysteries and my dream has been to write them. Soooo I’d do it. I’d also spend time with my kids. There’s nothing like family! And I like being home with my jungle of plants so I’d hang out there."

"Do you have any phobias? Afraid of heights, spiders?

"Bugs!!!!! Oh dear God I hate bugs. Scared to death of them. And if they crunch when you step on them I am totally freaked out! And that I live alone means I have to kill all my own spiders and thousand-leggers and crunchy bugs and anything else that creeps its way into my house. Outside bugs don’t bother me all that much but inside… Hey, this is my house, go find your own."

"I'm with you, sister!" Carol Ann shudders. "Creepy crawly things, especially spiders, terrify me. I remember once when I was still working a day job, a spider suddenly appeared on my monitor. I jumped back and started yelling 'spider, spider!!!' Finally, one of the managers came into my office and killed it. I was glad he got rid of the spider, but really embarrassed that he caught me playing a game of solitaire. Have you ever had one of those "embarrassing moments?"

Dianne laughs. "I live in the land of embarrassing. Just last week I went to work with my shirt on inside out. This is an upscale clothing shop and the boss was there. The week before I showed up two hours late at a bridal shower ‘cause I thought the thing was the following date. I regifted a present with the original card to me still inside…that was really embarrassing. I plot books while driving and drive past my exits all the time. Wound up in some pretty crazy places! I do all kinds of dumb stuff. I think it’s part of life…at least part of my life. I think my brain is always half in a book. I need therapy!"

"Have your phobias, collections, or embarrassing moments come to play in any of your books?

"I use the bug thing all the time. I haven’t done the others but that’s a really good idea. Tell me some of your embarrassing moments and I’ll use them all."

"Well, there was the time I was summoned to the boss's office. He was the President, and he made me so nervous. I entered his office and sat on the very edge of the chair, and it tipped. I wound up on the floor, notebook beside me, pen flying through the air, and much more of my pantyhose showing than I was comfortable with."

Dianne and the audience laugh.

"But, I'm not going to share any more of my embarrassing moments. This interview is supposed to be about you. Tell me what is one thing the people in the audience might be surprised to learn about you?"

"I’m pretty open, not many secrets. I have NO sense of direction. So sad. I can’t shop in Target ‘cause I can’t find my way out. I’m serious about that. Something about the layout of that store. I can never find my car in the parking lot and when going somewhere I have to allow for “getting lost” time. I need a GPS system imbedded in my brain."

"I've heard about you heading off in different directions. Your new series is a totally different direction for your writing. Would you mind sharing something about that with the audience?"

"You bet. Like I said, writing mystery is a dream come true especially for Berkley Prime Crime. The new series is set in Savannah and seeped in the South with the good food, characters and lots of fun while solving a murder. My new pen name is Duffy Brown. I get to be someone else. So exciting!

The title of the series is Consignment: Murder.

Reagan Summerside signed a prenuptial agreement when she married Hollis Beaumont and now that he’s divorced her she has nothing except the old Victorian she’s rehabbing. Hollis promised her the house so as not to look like a total jerk and Reagan turns the first floor into a consignment shop to make ends meet. When Reagan borrows Hollis’ car she discovers the body of his fiancĂ©e in the trunk. Can Reagan prove Hollis innocent so he doesn’t sell the house she loves to pay his lawyer fees and can she find the real murderer on the cheap without winding up on a slab at the morgue?

The first book in the series is Iced Chiffon, the second book is Killer in Crinolines, the third is Pearls and Poison."

"I'm so excited for you, Dianne, or should I say Duffy? Seriously, your new series sounds great. I love cozy mysteries. Uh-oh, the director is giving me the sign that our time is up. Time always flied when I have a really fun guest on the show. You've been great. Thank you again for being with me in the Blog Studio and allowing me to pick your brain."

"Thanks for having me, Carol Ann!! It’s a blast being here."

Learn more about Dianne and her writing ventures by visiting her website.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Singing for God

It's Sunday, a day I rarely blog. But today the Lord has blessed me with the words of an old hymn. My heart is singing this, and I pray that you might be blessed and sing praises to God.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Search me and try me, Savior today!
Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,
as in thy presence humbly I bow.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Friday, October 01, 2010

September Winner of $10 Bath & Body Works Gift Certificate

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my blog this month. As promised every person who commented on one of my guest bloggers' posts or an author interview had their name entered twice for every comment. Also, every person who commented on one of my September blogs had their name entered. If you left three comments, then your name went in the jar three times.

There were over 100 names in the jar and the winner of the $10 Bath & Body Works gift certificate is:

Crystal

Crystal commented on my blog just yesterday!  Congratulations, Crystal. You'll be hearing from me via email.

I'll be running the same contest again in October, so be sure to stop by and comment, especially on Wednesdays, when I have guest bloggers and on October 4th when I'll be interviewing author, Dianne Castell. Any comments on those dates will get your name entered twice for each comment.

Also, I have a new free read, TWISTED SPELL, up on my website. Stop by and pick it up at http://www.carolannerhardt.com/