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Christmas, Released & New Year

a daughter who thought she got a new purse...

a daughter who found an iPod Touch in said purse...

Other daughter after her violin concert


In an earlier post, I mentioned my writing rest. And how I was already ready to be released from that rest. December 23 is when I felt the "hold" hand on my shoulder lift. Not wanting to rush forward in case I was wrong, I allowed myself to do some light editing, but I still did not write. In my mind, I'd hoped for the day after Christmas...and that's exactly when the well unstopped. :-P

I started a new fantasy...and I just wrote. And wrote. I'm up to 13K since December 27. That's not a record for my by an means (hey, I wrote almost 30K in one weekend before!), but it was a beautiful sensation. I would write after I got home from work, then go to bed at a decent hour (no all-nighters for me LOL).

the really incredible thing for me is this--it opened my creative juice vein. Last night, I sat thinking about my new military thrillers series. I've tried to figure out what's going to happen in that story all month and got...NUTHIN'!!! But last night--it came flooding out. I am soooo excited. It took a month of not writing or editing or critiquing, then a handful of days where I just wrote (internal editor squashed flat as I wrote and wrote with redundancies and repetitions and misspellings...shhh, don't tell her. LOL).

So. I'm back. but in this New Year, I want to be focused on four things:

FATHER
FAMILY
FRIENDS
FICTION

Okay, so that pretty much encompasses my entire life, save my day JOB (but hey, even those hours got cut!!). :-D But I'm determined to make the last three a priority in my life as the first one GUIDES my life by increasing my daily time with Him.

Last year, i felt strongly it would be a YEAR OF TRANSITION. And let me tell you, if God ever speaks that to you, brace yourself! LOL But for this year, I believe the phrase came to me in october. It's going to be a YEAR OF PROMISE!

I like the sound of that.

How about you??

I've Been Carded Meme

Okay, I altered this CARDED meme to include a Spiritual Wish list. I think that way we can know how to pray for each other, both spiritually and physically. *grin*

THE RULES:
1. Each player starts with 5 gifts that they would want for Christmas.
2. People who are "CARDED" need to write their own Blog about their 5 things & post these rules.
3. At the end of your Blog, you need to choose 5 people to get "CARDED" and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a COMMENT telling them they're "CARDED", and to read your Blog.

My Materialistic Gift/Wish List:
1. Okay, I'll be 100% honest and "materialistic"--a book contract. There. I've confessed. :-D
2. A certain kitten from the animal shelter
3. for our finances to heal enough that I can stop working retail
4. Skillet shirt :-D
5. Romance or Tommy Girl perfume

My Spiritual Gift/Wish List:
1. To get my life organized in a way that I can have the prayer and worship time I need
2. Come Christmas, I pray to be released from this time of relaxation (cuz really, I'm not relaxing when I can't write!!!!!!!!!!!)
3. To write a compelling and gratifying book that will bring the healing of Christ to others
4. To start a Beth Moore Bible study
5. More of HIM, less of me *wink*

The people I have carded (in alphabetical order):
1. Dineen Miller
2. Robin Miller
3. Sara Mills
4. Mindy Obenhaus
5. Camy Tang

Time off for ... Good behavior?

Well, I've felt God nudging me the last few months to take a short break from writing. Not in the sense that He's asking me to give up writing, but to relax, take time to focus on Him, my family, and relationships. I confess I fought that nudging--fought it out of fear. You see, I was scared God would remove this gift He'd given me. That alone was irrational because God's not an "Indian Giver." I love writing. it's fulfilling and extremely satisfying. At times, it's even my therapy after a hard day. Yet I still feared taking the time off, feared, I'd come back to write one day and....couldn't.

However, after a difficult rejection, my fab-o agent suggested I spend the next few weeks concentrating on friends and family. I knew then that what he said was a confirmation of what God was urging me to do.

So. I am. I'm not holding fast to my daily writing goal. As a matter of fact, I am not writing. Period. I'm not critiquing either. However, I am reading and studying...and in the midst of all this, my well that had run dry is once again bubbling up with story ideas and thoughts on how to make some of my stories better. After Christmas, I am praying that I can return to writing with a renewed vigor and vision to be all that God wants...to write compelling stories that drive God's message into the hearts of the hurting and searching.

And in the middle of all *that*, I'm enjoying my family, surviving my job in the retail world, and taking it easy. I almost feel guilty. :-D I said ALMOST. LOL

Christmas Carol Riddles

Hey, y'all! Wow--this month is just zipping along. It's been frought with a lot of stress, but also a lot of joy. This is the first year Brian and I have lived close to his parents--close enough to wake up Christmas morning and pop in at their house to open presents. We can't wait!! :-D Other good things: I've seen God move on behalf of several friends, and I've seen four friends receive contracts (or promises of one) in the last 30 days. HOW KEWL IS THAT????

Well, since I'm working and stress (customers get snippier and snarkier as the day of wonder draws closer!), I'm posting this Christmas Carol Riddle in lieu of a full/real post. Enjoy!!

Name the Christmas Carol described in each riddle.

1. Wanted in December:Top forward incisors

2. The lad is a diminutive percussionist

3. Oh small Israel urban center

4. We are Kong, Lear and Nat Cole

5. Our fervent joy is that you thoroughly enjoy your yuletide season

6. Listen, the winged heavenly messengers are proclaiming tunefully

7. Jubilation to the entire terrestrial globe

8. Do you perceive the same vibrations which stimulate my auditory senses?

9. May the Deity bestow an absence of fatigue to mild male humans

10. Leave and broadcast from an elevation

SARA MILLS SCORES!!!


I am beyond ecstatic to announce that my dear friend and crit partner, SARA MILLS, has signed her FIRST-EVER book contract (a two-booker) with Moody Publishers for her 1940s historical mysteries. Miss Fortune, book 1, is all about Allie Fortune, the only female PI in New York City, and is scheduled for Fall 2008 release date. The deal was negotiated by our fabulous agent, STEVE LAUBE.

They call her the P.I. Princess. Allie Fortune is the only female private investigator in New York City and she’s one of the best.
When there’s a knock on her office door at four in the morning, Allie’s first inclination is to ignore it. Someone out on the streets in the middle of the night is usually trouble, either causing it or being chased by it, and Mary Gordon is no exception.
Despite the fact that someone’s following her, that her apartment has been ransacked, and that she’s been shot at, Mary Gordon claims to have no idea who’s after her or what’s going on.
Allie takes her case, but something seems off. Going with what she knows best, Allie unravels the threads of Mary Gordon’s story, and in the process she discovers an international mystery that places her own life in danger.


Please, please, please take a moment to congratulate this awesome lady (privately) on her great news!

saramills5@gmail.com
http://www.saramillsbooks.com/

Yay, yay, yay, Sara! I'm so proud of you!! Still, I would've taken that contract for you come December 31...it's all about the love, girl. :-D

Black Friday Insanity--A New Perspective


Wow! I can't believe we're a mere four days from December! Unbelievable. How did this year sneak by so fast???

Anyway--the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, came and went with a roar (see the photo from MSNBC?). And an aching back!!! This was my first time since I was teen that I worked the retail floor on this notorious day. And I have to say, it was the most disconcerting day I've experienced in a while. I stood behind the register in a large department store, checking out one customer after another, for SEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT! I'm not kidding. I couldn't even dash away for a 15-minute break to wet my hoarse throat because the line constantly replenished itself (kind of it, huh?).

After about 2pm, I had a lunch and came back to moderate traffic at the registers, which allowed me time to tidy up my department. I have to say, y'all--I was disgusted. That's when the whole twisted mentality of Black Friday washed over me. Seeing MOUNDS (literally) of clothing just tossed in a pile. Other shelves absolutely decimated. Hanging racks in absolute disarray. Quite honestly, it made me sick to my stomach. Something was seriously wrong. This couldn't be what Christmas is supposed to be about, right? I heard one customer say, "it's all about making the kids happy."

My gut twisted sideways. No. That's NOT what it's supposed to be about. It's about Christ, about the celebration of His birth. Just as His birth was a gift, so we give gifts as reminders of Love. Not to keep our chidlren's toy appetite or their clothing fetish sated.

Okay. Sorry. I just had to say that. I definitely have a different perspective on shopping this year. Compassion pools into my heart for those cashiers. Sure, they might be a bit slow, but who wouldn't be after dealing with a gazillion customers all day long? Customers who feel it's their RIGHT to be checked out in two minutes or less. SIGH. :-D

Enjoy your holidays--and please, be mindful of that person on the opposite side of the counter from you. If they're in a bad mood, maybe they had the worst possible customer in the world. Maybe their kid is sick at home. Maybe they just found out they have to work overtime and miss a family function. Smile. Say something to them to make their day a little brighter. Friendly customers sure brigthened mine!

Category:   4 Comments
Tricia Goyer's Shadow of Betrayal

I have always loved Tricia Goyer's writing...and this book is no different. She's not only an amazing storyteller, but the way her characters grip your heart is just incredible!!




Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series
Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

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Q and A with Tricia!

Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting conclusion to the series!

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Tricia is available for further interview. Contact Amy with your ideas and questions!

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Tricia's Bio:

Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:
From Dust and Ashes (2003)
Night Song (2004)
Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005);
Arms of Deliverance (2006)
A Valley of Betrayal (2007)
A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)
A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)
Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell, Montana. Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.
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Important Links!

First Chapter:
http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001gmyNI3LG9MLxwLPN69On3xEhpcN1h6liE1oARX6NJ9TD4sMMLJha69wQMJVaU-KsxqwiHF5wXOP1BrYyK667h368F3uFctKzafk9FHoexUxZuS8SB01GH8r3ljrm5fNr7_1MJV11GNwj4qg3zRz-9vTyL6Hi9uNAgKkndg5fq-I=
Amazon Link:
http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001gmyNI3LG9MJiAaEKTPURRwAdkZtiM05QIctbo0OcnFPWmD9Q4XsY3uuY3x2ETVAh8-l5dy-q586BdWSW43wU4QnqiJDMG1FrwcgQGLg3kB6sq0eg3IDtC4r5gnZgU0kjnXzY6kYtWKzsTK3KT0S9c_OMLLPJP88gvQ8nroyC7g2fxcTUu8bY5V6unIwOmxSv

Book 1, A Valley of Betrayal:
http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001gmyNI3LG9MI7vuQEUFhxr38nKKTgByjqxlmDPo2fUyoRgQaoqnH6HMDbmSIG-QsyVDFfJx5o4puji0j6_7gj7UXCSj7dUc9LoOq71pfB1SHk-cbuJIOLgmg1naWr2D5y1q8BCxzrEBtsYlatpONgu903Mp_hq7SUUHAW7w2Q8gaXh8sxDGmU44jz659_TkK8

Tricia's Website:

Under Construction


Hey, all! I'm moving some things around, adding new elements, and deleting others. Please let me know what you think of the changes. It's all about keeping up with the times...Oh! And stop by my all-new blog to see what Top Secret material you can pilfer. :-D http://roniekendig.blogspot.com

Happy Birthday, Dineen!!!!!!!!!!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY BEAUTIFUL TWIN!!!



and that picture just says EVERYTHING!!









Category:   3 Comments
Salute to Our Amazing Veterans

Well, I spent the day traveling to attend a Veteran's Program in Grand Prairie, TX (two hours north of us). It was so very moving, and it was so beautifully time with the building concept of my new series.

Below, you'll find a salute to veterans created/forwarded by the incredible Tricia Goyer. Check it out!! From the bottom of my heart and my family's--THANK YOU TO ALL SERVICEMEN AND SERVICEWOMEN!!

~~Forever Grateful~~




Veteran's Day is a time to remember:

In 2000, I got my idea for what came to be my first historical novel, From Dust and Ashes. Wanting to know more about the 23 men who liberated Mauthausen concentration camp, I contacted the 11th Armored Division who put me in touch with six of the veterans. These men then invited me to attend the 59th reunion of their division. I wasn't expecting that at all. I thought they'd point me to a good research book or allow me to interview them over the phone.

I felt SO unworthy to meet with these men. I knew very little about WWII, and I didn't want my inexperience to show. Not to mention the $1000+ for airfare, hotels, rental car for a book I didn't have a contract to write.

I urged a friend to go with me, and I've been so thankful we went. The men were caring and opened their hearts to me. They shared stories with me that they hadn't shared with anyone before. They laughed. They cried. They took my hands and thanked me for caring about their story. They hugged me and kissed my cheeks.

When it came to writing my novel, I wasn't writing about fictional characters. I was writing pieces of Charlie's story, bits of Arthur's experiences. The memories that made LeRoy cry made it into my book. The snapshots that Tarmo carried around in his mind for 60 years transformed into scenes in my novel (and the novels to follow!).

I get many letters from readers who say that my novels come to life on the pages--that's because the men's experiences came to life to me as I looked into their eyes and saw glimpses of young heroes. Also, the following year I went to Europe and walked the streets of the SS housing with a man who'd been nine-years-old when the camp opened near his home. Again, I "saw" the story in his eyes as he shared--this time from someone on the outside.

There was an added benefit to this diligent research that I didn't expect. After my second novel Night Song came out I received a letter from a veteran. He made a list of twenty minor research points that I'd gotten right, and then he asked, "One thing I didn't understand was the faith element of this story. Can you tell me more about your faith in God?"

YES!

Because I had done the research, I'd was able to share about my Jesus with a veteran who has since passed away.

One more fun thing I didn't expect. One of the men I met at the reunion was Pete. Pete was a medic--the one medic I met. Years later I received a letter from a reader who had read From Dust and Ashes. She was a survivor of Mauthausen--actually, she was born there. When she was 3-weeks-old she was close to death. When the gates were open a medic spent a full day lancing and cleaning infected boils on her skin, saving her life. She asked me if I knew any medics. I knew one, and I passed on his phone number. It turns out Pete was the one who saved her life! They have since met on numerous occasions.

If I hadn't gone to that reunion I wouldn't have met Pete, and I wouldn't have been able to connect him with Hana--what a God thing!

Of course, I do have regrets concerning research, too. In my most recent series on the Spanish Civil War I received a letter from a SCW veteran who said he was willing to help me with research. The letter got put into my "very important" pile on my desk and weeks and months passed. I pulled it out again, and I planned on calling him when I heard from someone else that this man had passed away. That has happened more than once with men who offered to be interviewed, and I'm always regretful of the "one more story" I missed. After all, once gone they are gone for good.

If you have a veteran in your life ... today is the perfect day to reach out--to listen to his or her story. Don't let the stories die, when you have a chance to make a difference.

Below are photos of a few of the men I've interviewed.

To read some of their stories, go to:

To see more photos (including real photos from the liberation of Mauthausen) go to:

To watch my NEW video about my WWII Liberators Series, go click here.



















Challenging is Writing is Challenging

Okay, those who are writers already know that writing is challenging. And lately, the mere act of finding time to write since I work now has been a HUGE challenge. All the same, I'm working on a new story concept that I'm very impassioned about...and I sent the kernal of an idea to my agent. He said it was very strong, but at the same time, he encouraged me to not let the story come out of the first thing that comes to mind (which is typical, sage advice--we should always go deeper!!). To let it percolate. I'm so glad he challenged me with this story because I've tried this last week to write on the story, and of the five scenes, 2.5 chapters, I've written (which pales in comparison--I usually write two chapters in a DAY, not a WEEK--booohoooo!!!!), I've scrapped all but one chapter. That's not normal for me...as a matter of fact, it's been quite depressing. So, I've been praying about this a lot.
And I just kept praying, "Jesus, help me. Please help me."
He did. An idea hit me last night. One that made me stop and just suck in my breath. At first, I admit that I rejected the idea, thought it might belong to a sequel of this series. But I couldn't get away from the idea. So I decided I'd write out a short blurb on each of the subsequent book concepts to see where the idea fit. That's where i discovered this new idea--which a major plot twist--fits exactly in this new story. I brainstormed with my amazing husband, and I'm getting stoked about this story. Elements are taking shape. Conflict is ratcheting. My exitement meter is rising! :-)

What about you? What challenges are you facing in your own writing at the moment?

The Lost Sheep by Brandt Dodson

The Lost Sheep by Brandt Dodson is a great read. The characters are sharp and on the go. Brandt sets up a compelling mystery, this time entangling hero Colton Parker’s daughter in the web of danger and intrigue. So many times mysteries disappoint me with their endings, the climax feeling contrived or wane. Not so with Brandt’s book. I felt very satisfied with the culmination of the story. Recommended for all those PI-style readers out there—and those who aren’t! Hurry over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy now!!!

Another Meme...and Writing

This is so cool! Camy Tang gave me this award. She’s so sweet!

It is presented "to awesome BLOG owners who keep their readers excited about their posts. Their blog posts are interesting (NOT spammy) and worth reading and keep their subscribers looking forward to each and every post."

Camy said that she awarded my blog because: "she is always so transparent on her blog posts."

THANKS, CAMY! I try to be transparent. it's all part of that whole "more of God, less of me" thing I'm doing here. :-D

I'm awarding (and I'm trying to be diverse this time LOL):

Lisa Harris - I love reading her posts about missionary life in South Africa. Although, right now, she and her family are packign up and moving to Brazil for a year's worth of language school. Praying for you, girl!

Um, that's it for now...I can't think at this early hour and I have to get to work. :-D Maybe I'll come back and add more later. hehe
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Writing...I am very excited! Last night, I wrote the final chapters on Dead Reckoning, my newest spy thriller. I'm not 100% satisfied with my epilogue, so I'm going to go back and probably rewrite that. And there's one aspect of the final climax that I want to tighten, but overall, I'm very pleased. Shiloh (my heroine) comes across strong. Reece (the hero) is just as I expected him to be. And of course, they save the day (though not everyone comes out of this alive...LOL). I think it came out surprisingly well. My toughest critic will be my agent, Steve Laube. I'd rewritten my ending on my other thriller, Midnight Zone, and then rewrote it for an editor, and Steve busted me on it. He knew it wasn't the right ending.

I've discovered, however, that there is a new word in my writing dictionary. It's conclusophobia: the fear of writing climatic endings. It's not so much about having a climatic ending, but more the fear that the ending won't be...well, climatic. :-D How's that for insanity. Conclusophobia hits me every time I start to write the final three chapters on a new book. And this has happened dozens of times, so you'd think I'd have faced this fear and beaten it by now. Nope! LOL

10-20-30 Meme

Camy Tang & Patricia Carroll (PacJac) tagged me! I am supposed to tell where I was 10-20-30 years ago.

  • 10—1997...Hmm, I was well into the first draft of my futuristic, Liberty's Son. My mom had died the previous year. I had two children. Live in Fort Worth and we were small home group leaders for our church.
  • 20—I was in my senior year at Killeen High School. This is the point in my life where I was starting to find myself...Had an amazing English Teacher who impacted my life in a HUGE way. (Love you, Mrs. Montgomery!)
  • 30—I was seven years old. Beginning to realize that what was happening to me was *wrong* (I was abused). Lived in Massachusetts...or were we still in Germany at that point? I can't remember. I honestly don't remember much of my young childhood because of the abuse.

I tag Sara, Lisa Harris, Shannon McNear, and the Lena Dooley. It was started by Mary DeMuth, so blame her. :)

WINNERS - And Photos from ACFW Conference

C Gwynn, You have won Camy Tang's Sushi for One? Please email me privately with your mailing information.

Cherie J - You've won Robin Caroll's Bayou Justice!! Please contact me privately with your mailing information.


Now, to share just a tad more about my conference liberation. LOL It's such a tongue-in-cheek term for something so powerful and freeing. I haven't been the same since, and I'm guarding my heart so I don't end up back there.




I was sitting with my close bud Dineen Miller, and she was praying over me. I had this visual image in my mind of a rod--like the steel rods they use to line the ground before pouring concrete. When I saw it, I just felt like God was saying, Take hold of the rod.

Well, I couldn't. To me, taking that rod in my hand was the equivalent of saying, I'll trust you. I'll hope in you. And I was at a point where I'd been hurt so many times extending my faith and trust, that I was too wounded to lift my arm.



I told Neen about this, and the more I talked about the rod, the more solidified it became. Until finally, tears streaming down my face, I reached out and latched on to it.


As soon as I did, it seemed as if God breathed and said, "Now, it's a sword. Raise it up." And I did (felt stupid in front of Neen, but I did LOL). As soon as I held it, felt God speaking to me, saying "Sword of Truth. Now, stand and fight."

Within ten minutes of that, the oppression was broken off me. Not before I had this mental image of angels fighting over me. And the thought that God might send angels to rescue me, to fight over me, made me bawl.




It's not easy to post that. It makes me vulnerable. But since that night, I've had a deep, stirring passion (I've had a passion before, but nothing like what I feel now) for the hurting, broken and wounded. So, I want to make myself available to God to use me in the way that was spoken over me that night. To break the chains of bondage off women, the very same way they were broken off me.
(Photos:#1 - me and Robin Caroll, #2, Me & Dineen Miller, #3 - Me & John Olson, #4 - Me & Sara Mills)






Bayou Justice by Robin Caroll

Deep in the “boot” of Louisiana, Cajun country, an alligator environmentalist, CoCo LeBlanc, finds a body in the bayou. A body that just happens to be the grandfather of her ex-boyfriend, Luc Trahan. When she and her family are prime suspects in the murder, CoCo pushes aside her personal problems with Luc to find the real killer. Among voodoo, multiple suspects, and a long-standing family vendetta, CoCo and Luc must work together to prove their innocence. . .before the real murderer reveals himself, and becomes a threat to them.

I am honored to host one of my closest friends and beautiful/fabulous critique partner, Robin Caroll (aka: Robin Miller)! Robin currently serves as the President of the American Christian Fiction Writers and did a fabulous job on preparing and assembling all the incredible aspects of the conference hosted in Dallas. THANK YOU, GIRL!! And Congrats on seeing your hard work in print...FINALLY!!!! ;-)

My review:
Bayou Justice (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense) is peppered with Robin’s Cajun flare and spice. The plot is well-structured and her main characters are strong and believable as they work together to solve the murder plaguing the town of Lagniappe. Robin’s amazing ability to weave in culture and history carry this story in a compelling manner that is indicative of her unique, saucy style. She had my mouth watering for etouffee and sweat dribbling down my back from the smothering heat. Bayou Justice is a must read!


Here is a photo of me with Robin Caroll in 2005 as finalists in the Noble Theme (now, Genesis) Contest.

ENTER NOW to win a copy of Robin's book!!! Leave a comment about a favorite memory of either meeting Robin or visiting Louisiana. Best story wins!! :-D


ACFW Conference rocks!

Well, it took me nearly all week to recuperate from the conference. I am finally feeling like a human being again. I'm rested, focused, and very passionate about writing for God's glory.















A lot happened at this conference. I'll have more pictures to share soon (yeah, I know...I'm ancient because I used an 'old fashioned' camera where you had to actually look through the teensy square box to take the photo, and now I have to actually get the film developed--GASP!), but just had to post this one taken by Ane Mulligan during the Keynote Luncheon in Robin Caroll's Presidential Suite--and yes, it was SWEET! It's me, Dineen Miller, and Camy Tang.


At conference, God supernaturally freed me from the most oppressive spirit I've encountered in my life. I'm not kidding, y'all. I was utterly bereft. Felt totally hopeless and LOST. What shocked me was how many people noticed the difference in me. I mean, sure, I knew I wasn't myself--but HOLY COW, MAN! Even my fabulous, amazing agent STEVE LAUBE said he could see it. Regardless of the past, I'm free now. I'm so determined not to slide back into that pit. I bought the Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a woman's Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge because at the heart of my oppression was my horrible lack of self-worth, born partly out of years of childhood abuse I endured.



It will take several posts to get through all of what God did, but I believe that there are many other women out there going through what I suffered. Because I've experienced this oppression and then freedom--and because it was GOD who freed me--wait till you read about the spiritual warfare--I am determined to be a voice and shoulder for those who are in that desert, too.

Win Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

I am DELIGHTED to bring you my good friend and crit partner CAMY TANG and her hilarious Asian chick-lit book, Sushi for One?, out now from Zondervan. This photo from last year's ACFW conference shows me with the Loud Asian Chick. The girl is absolutely amazing writer, sweet (she'll love me for that one), and a wonderful friend.

Now, on to Camy's interview:

1.) What inspires you to write?

I love writing, but I also rest in the knowledge that this is trulywhat God wants for me to do. He asked me to lay down my writing oncebefore, and then gave me the green light to pick it up again, so Iknow that this writing is something He approves of and desires for me.

2.) You've talked about how you're very much a left-brained person. Since I'm predominantly right brained, I'd love to know how you overcome the left-brain side to get into your creative streak.

Unlike most women, I actually do not shift between left and rightbrain very easily. I have to get myself into a creative mode and staythere for as long as I need to in order to get the writing done.It's usually just a matter of clearing my plate of left brain work sothat I can be in right brain mode for several days or weeks.Coming up with character personalities is right brain for me, and so I'll set aside any kind of editing or logistical work until that'sdone. The plotting is more left brain, so I'll work on plot and sceneindexes while doing other busy-work like edits from my publisher orwork on the ACFW Genesis contest.Then when it comes to writing the manuscript, I try to give myselfseveral weeks in pure right brain mode to get the story written out. Iwon't take critiquing jobs, I won't do any edits, I won't evencritique for my crit partners. I try to completely clear my scheduleso that all I need to focus on is the writing.

3.) What is an indulgence that helps your creative muse?

POTATO CHIPS!!! I also love taro chips and veggie crisps. I know they're super bad for me, but I can't help myself!

4.) I love the flavor infused in your books. Where did you get the inspiration for Lex and the others?

I like using archetypes turned on their heads. I usually use Victoria Lynn Schmidt's 45 Master Characters. As a psychology major in college, I knew that there are certainpersonality types that are repeated in fiction because they resonatepsychologically with readers. That's why I enjoy using archetypes--anarchetype usually enables me to create a richer, deeper characterthat's both consistent and fully drawn.I try my best to avoid stereotypes, so I'll take an archetype and giveit a different sort of twist--an Amazon who has already been strippedvulnerable, a Maiden who has escaped her torturous relationship with aWarlock. I ask myself, what would they do now? And I go from there tocraft their stories.

5.) Who in the industry has had a profound influence on you and your writing?

Gayle Roper. I took her Fiction Mentoring clinic at an ACFW conference, and it was a turning point in my career. She's aphenomenal teacher and a wonderful writer. If any writer has anopportunity to take her Mentoring class, they should do it.

-------------------------------------------

Thanks, Camy, for this fun interview. Hey, everyone--leave a comment to win a copy of Camy's incredible book. I've read Camy's book and I have to say that the Loud Asian Chick hooks you into the Asian culture in a very cunning and funny way. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the characters are quirky but real, and the laughs are endless! I found it surprisingly how seamlessly Camy stitched in the cultural elements. She's a phenomenal writer. You've got to get this book!!

Here is the official blurb from Camy's website:

Book #1: Sushi for One? (September2007)Sports-crazy Lex Sakai isn’t too worried about “winning” the unofficial family title “Oldest Single Female Cousin” when her cousin Mariko marries in a few months. Her control-freak grandma is easy to ignore, until Grandma issues an ultimatum—if Lex can’t find a date for Mariko’s wedding, her ruthless Grandma will cut off funding to the girls’ volleyball team that Lex coaches.

Lex isn’t about to look desperate by dating every player in the dugout. She comes up with a stringent list of requirements from her Ephesians Bible study in her search for The Perfect Man. She always wins in volleyball—if she ups her game, she’s sure to succeed.

Then her brother introduces her to non-Christian, non-athletic, no-immediate-physical-appeal Aiden.

Aiden’s on the rebound from a girl named Trish, who dumped him because he wasn't Christian. Then he discovers that Lex is 1) not attracted to him at all, 2) Christian, and 3) Trish's cousin. No way is he hooking up with anyone from that crazy family, much less another hypocritical Christian chick. He's certainly not masochistic.

Time is running out for Lex, and no matter what she does, she can’t find the right guy. Especially when she keeps running into Aiden everywhere. If only the list would stop getting longer and longer...


DON'T FORGET to leave a comment to WIN A COPY of Camy's Sushi for One?, out now from Zondervan.

MaryLu Tyndall's The Restitution

Hello! Thanks fer stoppin' by me blog. Ye`ve come t' th' starboard place today if ye`re lookin' fer a great read. 'Tis me extreme pleasure t' participate in MaryLu Tyndall`s blog tour fer th' lass' third book, Restitution.

Below is the trailer MaryLu put together for her incredible new book out now from Barbour Publishing!



In this third book, th' treacherous voyage o' Captain Kent Carlton continues as he tries t' prove his heart t'ain't as black as one might think. In this perilous journey, Lady Isabel Ashton must team up wi' th' man who raped th' lass' as they battle t' save the'r baby lad from another captain bent on revenge.

Aye...isn't pirate-ing fun?? Ahem. Seriously, now...

I love MaryLu's stories, and I found this story about Lady Isabel and Captain Kent compelling! Her story concepts are amazing and the conflicts only deepen amid dark waters and bad tempers. I've read all three books in the Legacy of the king's Pirates--and I'd recommend them all. The character's journeys kept me up into the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep until I knew what happened to Lady Isabel (although at times, I wanted to slap her for being so bull-headed, but alas--that's a character for you...never doing what you want them to do. LOL), the rogue Captain whose heart softened, and the plight of their baby boy. If you haven't tasted of the delicacy that is M.L. Tyndall's writing--then quench your thirst and buy this book! :-D

Here is the official blurb from MaryLu's site:

The Restitution
by M. L. Tyndall
Romantic Times 4 stars!
Shunned by her parents and by society, Lady Isabel Ashton lives a secluded life at Port Royal with her seven month old baby, Frederick--the son of the fierce pirate, Kent Carlton. When her baby is suddenly kidnapped, Captain Carlton appears with an offer to help her find him. Can Isabel trust the man who once ravished her? Will Kent win the forgiveness of the woman he loves? Or will the scheme of betrayal and revenge of his enemies keep them apart and from their son forever?

*sigh* A great read to quiet the stormy seas of life. LOL Sorry, couldn't resist.

Camy Tagged me -- Nice Matters Award

Loud Asian Chick & friend extraodinaire, Camy Tang, tagged me with this award.

“This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award.”
Well, Camy, Dineen, and Robin are already tagged or I'd slap ...er, tag them, too. :-D
  1. Sara Mills - a French Canadian friend who has surrendered more times than she'll admit, but who has also talked me off the ledge many times in recent months.
  2. Cindy Woodsmall - a beautiful woman and writer who has mentored me through rough aspects of this publishing process.
  3. Lisa Harris - A dozen elephants all in a row. How can I not love the woman who gives me that?? LOL
  4. Lena Dooley - If you've met Lena, you know why I'm listing her here. In a way, she reminds me of my mother, and there is nothing like a "Mama Dooley" hug. can't wait for conference to get one!!!!!
  5. Mindy Obenhaus - A woman who gives new and varied meanings to THE FARM. :-D
  6. Beth Goddard - A wonderful woman who is very encouraging, has an incredible eye for the minute details of suspense elements, and a true encourager.
  7. Shannon McNear - An amazing person with a very philosophical bent who--at times--puts my mind in knots with her deep thoughts. :-D

Win a book!! Montana Mistletoe Blog Tour



What is the premise of the Montana, Mistletoe collection?

LISA: This is a fun collection that centers around the quaint town of Mistletoe, Montana, a town that celebrates Christmas year round. The only problem is the town is beginning to lose its Christmas spirit. Add to that, four girlfriends make a New Year’s pact to find themselves true love by time they turn twenty-eight, and end up discovering that love often comes in very surprising ways. . .and not always with whom you were expecting.

Give us a brief blurb about your story in the collection.

KIM: Kathy Morgan has gotten caught up in the corporate world of writing advertising jingles at a San Francisco advertising company--a far cry from the simple world of Mistletoe. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected bonus gives her the opportunity to return to Mistletoe for a trip down "Memory Lane" where she can consider the marriage proposal of long-time co-worker Chad. But postman Erik Hoffman becomes a distraction that makes her wonder if she needs to evaluate more than Chad's proposal...perhaps more than romantic love, she needs the love of Jesus in her life.

LISA: When Madison Graham leaves the quant town of Mistletoe, Colorado for New York City to buy products for her year-round Christmas store, Under the Mistletoe, she’s positive she’s met her man. Albert Kendall is everything she’s ever dreamed of. Successful, good looking, and well off. But is worldly success really what she’s looking for in a man, or have the bright lights of the city blinded her so that she’s forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

Is there a character who you relate to and who made an impact on your life?

LENA: I grow spiritually during every book I write. God gives me special insight during the creation process. I haven’t come away from any of the books without a clearer understanding of some aspect of God. In Christmas Confusion, Lori tries to work things out herself, which doesn’t work. I’m the same way, I sometimes try to work things out myself, instead of trusting God to bring about the perfect resolution. So I grew right along with Lori.

What’s it like working with three other authors on one story? Are there any challenges or rewards?

DEBBY: The challenges were small compared to the rewards. The only concerns we had were the timeline and making sure we had all the same settings in our stories. The rewards were phenomenal. I felt that through our characters and the desire to take this book to a level of excellence, the four of us became friends.

Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

LISA: One of the best things you can do is join American Christian Fiction Writers at www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com. The resources are enormous and worth the yearly fee. You will have the opportunity to join critique groups, attend conferences, take online classes, and the list goes on and on.

If you want to learn more about the authors of Montana Mistletoe, check out Lisa Harris’s blog on September 7th at http://myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com

Winners! Winners! Winners!

Want a chance to win a FREE copy of the book and a $30 gift certificate to ChristianBooks.com? For more information, visit our official Montana, Mistletoe blog at http://montanamistletoe.blogspot.com/ before October 1st!

http://www.lenanelsondooley.com/ http://www.debbymayne.com/
http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/ http://www.lisaharriswrites.com/

Middle Name Meme

I've been tagged a few times with this meme, and I'm finally getting to do it.

So, here's the deal: What's in a name?


1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, use the one you would like to have had.

3. When you're tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

4. At the end of your blog-post you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don't forget to send/leave them a comment telling them they'e tagged and to read your blog for the rules.

I'm somewhat fortunate in that my middle name contains only five letters.

A ~ Aspiring...there are many things that I aspire to do or be. Like get published. Own a home again. Help contribute to our family's income.

L ~ Laughter. I love laughter. Ever notice how it totally changes the whole mood of a room, or how much better you feel after a laugh? God's medicine... :-D

I ~ INQUISITIVE and INSPIRED to write! My inquisitiveness brings inspiration to write.

C ~ Christian. 'Nuff said. :-P

E ~ Encouraging. I hate to see people down or discouraged. When I do, I feel as if a piece of my heart is ripped out. This is one aspect of my personality that I pray only deepens and doesn't go away. Christ had a heart for the hurting...I want to minister His healing grace and mercy the way so many have done to me.

And just a note: I have never liked my middle name except for the small fact that I was named after my paternal grandmother, Alice Elizabeth (Ward) Gray who was (from what I hear--she died the day my older brother was born) an incredible and sweet woman. She immigrated to the US from Montreal. You can see one of her passport photos here. For her, I'm glad I have the name.


And now, I am tagging ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PROCASTINATE AND PLAY. HAVE FUN!!

Steve Laube's Thoughts on the Highs & Lows of Writing

Hey, everyone! I got this email from my fab-o agent, Steve Laube. It's a tough ride from concept to publication, so I wanted to share his thoughts with you. I hope you'll leave a comment and thank Steve for allowing me to post this. Originally, he wrote it on the Writer's View e-loop. They have two different loops you can join (one for "intermediate" writers, and one for multi-published). Check them out.

-----------------------------------From Steve:

I wrote the following today on the Writer's View Loop - I titled it "Writer's Angst" in answer to the question "How do you handle the highs and lows of the writing life?":


Speaking from an agent's perspective...
I have more conversations with clients about their feelings of anxiety, apprehension or insecurity than almost any other topic. Almost every writer I have ever worked with as an editor or an agent severely doubts themselves at some point in the process.

Doubts occur in the midst of creation.
Doubts occur when the disappointing royalty statement arrives. Doubts occur ... just because...

It is the curse of the writer. Writing is an introspective process done in a cave...alone. It is natural to have the demons of insecurity whisper their lies. And, in a cave, the whispers echo and build into a cacophony of irrepressible noise.

But in the end there is the extraordinary feeling of accomplishment when the book is finished and that ministry of words begins.

A couple times a writer has cried, "But my book has only sold 5,000 copies!" I reply, "Put all 5,000 people into one room. Imagine it. A Megachurch auditorium filled with people, wall to wall. And every person in that room has paid money to read your book. And then you walk out onto the stage to give the glory and honor to our God." That helps put things in perspective.

We don't write for fame. We don't write for glory. We write because we must.

And maybe your magazine article on praying for teens will arrive on my doorstep the very day that my wife and I are struggling with how to pray for our teenager. I say "thank you" to that writer who ministered to our family many years ago. Whose words were a breath of fresh air. That writer will never know what impact they had. And neither will you...at least in this life.

My advice? Embrace the lows as simply part of the process and keep the highs from distracting you (adrenaline is addictive).

Steve
The Steve Laube Agency
---------------------------------------

Thanks, Steve! I hope that this has helped and encouraged some of you out there. I know that this really spoke to me during the last two weeks of insanity.

Hugs to all!


Wowie-Kazowie, I did it!!


OH YEAH, BABY!!!!!

Yep, just a little bragging while I have a minute to breathe. Around the 6th of this month, I committed to my awesome agent that I'd have a complete rewrite of my romantic suspense done by the end of the month. Despite a computer crash, a bout with heat sickness, and enrolling my kids in school (we've been homeschooling), I made it. Last night (okay, early early this morning) at midnight-thirty, I penned the epilogue. SIXTY-THOUSAND WORDS IN FOURTEEN DAYS. SIGH. I am proud of myself. SIGH. That felt so good.

Of course, two of my CPs and I are lovingly arguing over this epilogue. I find it a tad cheesy, but one pointed out to me that it's classic HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Well, I normally don't write fuzzy stuff, so maybe that's it. I'm not convinced. LOL

Now, I get to do the editing and layering for depth. This story really gave me a run for my time and energy. I bascially had to start over--too many changes just to do some minor rewriting. I didn't feel connected to my story for the first several (okay, six ) chapters. Now that I'm done, my prayer is that after all these changes, the editor will want this book and see that I'm willing to be flexible. LOL Regardless, as Steve encouraged me to, I viewed this as a part of my education as a writer. I learned a LOT about myself, about writing for a particular market, about the insanity of this industry, and about how very much -- no matter what--I LOVE WRITING!!!

What about you? What are you working on? You learning anything through it??

Interview with Steve Laube re: ACFW Conference

ACFW CONFERENCE INTERVIEW with "The" Steve Laube.

I am delighted to host an interview with my fabulous agent, Steve Laube. He really gave great consideration in answering questions to help those attending the ACFW Conference in Dallas, September 20-23.

____________________________

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I lived the first 14 years of my life in Anchorage, Alaska (survived the famous ’64 earthquake), then went to high school in Honolulu (Hawaii Baptist Academy). My parents felt called to move after 25 years in Alaska. From there, I went to college at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ, where I still live and work.

I have three daughters ages 25, 22, and 19 and have been married for 26 years. I teach an adult Bible study every Sunday. We are currently working our way through the Minor Prophets in chronological order. Once that is complete, we will tackle the chronological history of Israel from King David through the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah.

I’m a voracious reader and an enduring sports fan (Go Suns!). Someone asked what I did for a living. I replied, “I read.” They followed with, “Then what do you do for fun?” My answer? “I read.” We have nearly 5,000 books in our home.

Music is an affection as well. I have over 13,000 songs on my computer of all types. Everything from hard rock (I recommend the group “Red”) to classical (I recommend Steven Sharp Nelson’s Sacred Cello). All together I could play music for 36 days (24 hours a day) without repeating a single song.

Our family enjoys a variety of movies. Of course “Star Wars” is the classic. But I never tire of sports movies like “Remember the Titans,” “Rudy,” or “Radio.” My wife cannot understand why I like “Galaxy Quest” so much, but I confess, it makes me laugh (she says I have to watch that one by myself). But we have howled at multiple viewing of “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Monsters, Inc.” We don’t keep a TV plugged in inside the home, but for Christmas I gave the family the entire DVD collection of “The Dick Van Dyke” show. We have laughed our way through those episodes all year. We have also enjoyed the DVD’s of “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Dog Whisperer.”

________________________

When I first met you in February 2004, you promoted American Christian Romance Writers (now ACFW)—said if we were serious about writing, we’d join. Why do you feel it’s important for authors to be a part of an organization like this?

Continuing education is critical to the growth of a person and a writer. Tricia Goyer recently wrote on The Writer’s View, “I've attended Mt. Hermon twelve times. I don't have a college degree. Instead I was trained by the amazing teachers and editors there.”

The friendships and networking of an organization like ACFW are for a lifetime. The editor you meet today may become your acquisitions editor of tomorrow. The author today may be the endorsement of tomorrow. Too often we try to quantify these events in dollars and cents. And don't forget the spiritual charge from hearing great speakers and the learning from attending great classes. But one of the greatest benefits is the camaraderie with fellow dysfunctional writers, editors, and agents.

I have dozens of friendships that go beyond the business that started within the business. For a professional defined by isolation, the fellowship of other writers is critical to ones sanity.
________________________

How long have you been a part of ACFW?

Since I became an agent in 2003.
________________________

Obviously you travel the country, attending and working at many conferences. What sets the ACFW conference apart from others?

The fiction-centric aspect of the conference is wonderfully unique. It allows the classes to go deeper than ever in their content. And I truly admire their effort to have material for the beginner as well as the advanced writer.
_________________________

What is your favorite part of the ACFW conference?

Talking with old friends and making new ones. We are a part of a tremendous ministry of changing people’s lives through the power of story. To be surrounded by amazingly creative people blesses me beyond measure.

It is also fun to connect with clients and possibly discover that new talent.
_________________________

One thing I really appreciate about you is how you make yourself available, sitting in the hotel lobby chatting (casually, not for pitches) with authors—like the time my crit bud Dineen Miller had her drug-laced fudge and Brandilyn Collins couldn’t resist them, but you did (at least after your what, fifth piece?). What is one of your fondest memories from attending one of ACFW’s national conferences?

Hey. I only ate one piece. I realized very quickly that I could suffer severe bodily harm if I tried to eat any more because Brandilyn’s eyes had fire in them.

ACFW memories?
Doing the night owl on author/agent relations with Tracey Bateman. Completely unrehearsed we had a full room of folks who laughed with our antics.
Late night laughter and camaraderie each year.
Heart to heart conversation with a client who was so relieved when we agreed to take her story in a new direction that her tears were ones of joy.
A serendipitous conversation with Andy from Zondervan that turned in a contract for a first time author.
Connecting officially with Cindy Woodsmall at the conference as author/agent. We had talked before and I loved her manuscript (now published as When the Heart Cries), but we needed the face-to-face to make it official.
I could go on and on. And have left out too many friends, editors, and authors in this trip down memory lane (no offense!). But you can see the variety and diversity of the experience, which is my point. Everyone who attends the conference can make it something special. Don’t be afraid to hang out with the “guys and gals.” It is never an exercise of “cliques-are-us.”

____________________________


At the conference, you take appointments regularly. What are you looking for in a new author? Is there an element in a pitch that you look for?

This a VERY difficult question. Fiction is the most subjective reading experience of any sort. So even if I like the pitch, I may not like the writing. And sometimes the pitch is weak, but the writing is great. And what gets me excited may make another agent’s eyes glaze over.
In the pitch, I’m looking at the person as much as the writing. It is the connection made with their personality and their passion and their overall presentation of themselves. That is as much a part of the pitch as the actual words in the manuscript. It is one of the reasons why agents and editors go to a conference…to see firsthand that “snap” or “spark” which makes that person stand out. Hopefully, the execution of the writing delivers as well.
Understand that I’m not saying that someone has to have a “bigger-than-life” personality. That would be a fairly shallow view. Instead, it is reading the person behind the page. It is hard to explain and impossible to teach to someone else. But those of us on this side of the table know what I mean. The successful agents and editors have the ability to pick those few from the crowd..
So, please understand I’m not talking about a song and dance routine. But instead I’m talking of the internal fire, that God-given spark, that says, “Steve? Pay attention.”

_________________________

Is there a particular genre you are wanting to add to your current list?

We already cover all major genres with the wonderfully diverse clients we represent.

An author did recently write and say, “I’m starting my teen/time travel/Muhammad book.” While he was joking, I suppose that would be a new genre for our agency!!!

_________________________

It’s been said that some editors and agents request everything pitched to them at conference. What is your take on this, and how often do you make requests?

There can be the problem of the "false positive" at a conference - by "false positive" I mean the "Send it to me" from the editor/agent only to get a stock rejection letter. It is a problem of which there is no real solution. Editors/Agents cannot fully evaluate a project in a 15-minute meeting or over a group dinner table. Back in the office they can weigh your project against the others they are considering. But at least you are being considered! If you had not gone to the conference you would not have had that chance. I can name numerous times in my past where I contracted someone after reading the proposal in the office. Of course, the majority receive the "no thank you" letter. Just because the faculty member says, "send it" doesn't carry with it a guarantee of a sale.

It is especially difficult with fiction because the reading is more of an experience than an evaluation. I’m not afraid to say, “This needs work” to any writer and many of you reading this interview have heard those words from me. But at the same time, our agency’s door is always open. We are always in the hunt for the “next best.” I can’t know if that is the “next” unless I get it reviewed and read it myself in a different context outside the conference.

Usually I say to the new writer, “take what you learn at this conference and apply it to this proposal. Then after another round of hard work, send it….but know that our agency received nearly 1,500 proposals last year, and we only took six new writers.”

____________________________

Have you ever signed an author after meeting with them at conference (besides me LOL)?

Many times. Both as an agent and back when I was an editor at Bethany House. It does happen. I could safely say that every editor or agent would agree that if they find one (only one) new talent from a conference it is considered a success. I’ve had many times where nothing specific came out of that conference, but years later it bore fruit. For example, Paul Robertson attended a conference where I spoke in the late 90s. He said he sent something afterwards that I rejected. Eight years later, he sent me a proposal that is now a published book (The Heir) with Bethany House. So while I didn’t necessarily see anything at the time, it had results nearly 10 years later.

____________________________

What advice would you give to beginner writers about attending this conference?

Go into it with realistic expectations. The biggest mistake is thinking that it is the guaranteed method for getting a book contract. Modify those expectations. Instead see it as a learning experience and a place to listen and absorb the sights and sounds around you. Jack Cavanaugh went to writers conferences for 10 YEARS before selling his first novel.

____________________________

Any parting words?

I consider it a privilege to be a small part of this wonderful industry. We are tasked to help spread the good news to a world that doesn’t read. Incredible isn’t it? Our insecurities, our frustrations, our successes (or lack thereof), are all part of the larger movement of souls who find rest in God and His salvation through the vehicle of our stories.
In the 2007 Christy banquet, keynote Laura Winner said that the Mitford novels showed her that faith could be worked out in daily life. That experience, through the pages of a novel, set her on the path to Faith. What could top that?

____________________________

THANK YOU, STEVE, for taking the time to share your thoughts and advice on this conference. I look forward to seeing you in Dallas in six weeks.

So, there it is, folks! Rush on over to ACFW and register for the conference, if you haven't already!!

ACFW Conference - Sept 20-23 Dallas


Create yours at BlingyBlob.com!


I am so excited about the 2007 ACFW Conference! I've attended the last two, but this will be my first going as an agented author. That's a glorious feeling. Oh--speaking of which--or whom--my fabulous agent STEVE LAUBE let me interrogate...er, I mean interview him regarding his experience, advice, and thoughts on the ACFW Conference. That will be posted tomorrow, so be sure to come back!!

(Finalists Robin (Miller) Caroll & Me)

In 2005, I attended my first ACFW conference--and had a meltdown. LOL I was up for the Noble Theme (now the Genesis) in the Science Fiction category with my futuristic story. I was face to face with way more editors and agents than I ever thought possible. I had my expectations soaring over the moon. I'd thought, "This is it. I'm going to rocket to success because of my time here." That was the worst possible mentality to attend a conference with. But it's a contagious thought. To all us attendees stay grounded, the amazing Karen Ball lightened up the mood and seriousness of the conference (and boy can she minister!!!) with the "I have a castle!" goldfish moments. LOL My daughter still says that to me. SIGH.

(John Olson & me)

In 2006, I vowed not to make that same mistake. So, I went and reminded myself I was there to learn, to fellowship, to grow as a writer, and to have a blast! Due to a change with agent appointments, I only ended up with one appointment--Andy Meisenheimer. I was his first-ever conference pitch (I also hold that title with the lovely Amanda Bostic, a beautiful person I now count as a friend)! Andy's a great guy--and funny. If you have an appointment with him, you'll love it!

Some totally *awesome* things at this conference were hanging with my crit partners, getting a huge hug from Amanda, meeting my buddy and advocate John Olson face-to-face, but most of all, sitting at the dinner table with Steve Friday night and talking about my book he'd *just* rejected (no, I never did mention how he'd crushed me LOL). Together we realized there was a misconception about an integral aspect of the story, and I can readily admit that part of that error was mine--in the wording I had used. But that conversation opened the door for me to rewrite my ending and send him the full again. Four months later, I got THE CALL from THE Steve Laube. LOL :-D

This year, I'm looking forward to volunteering, meeting Steve as his CLIENT, hugging new/old friends, meeting up and brainstorming with my buddy again, making new friends, and just being a writer. A weird, psychotic writer. LOLOL Oh, come--aren't we all???

I thought I'd post some more pictures of my previous conference experiences. Enjoy--and don't forget STEVE LAUBE'S INTERVIEW TOMORROW!!

Me & "Twin" Dineen Miller

Amanda Bostic & Me
Camy Tang, Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck




Michelle P - You won!

Yep, it's true. Michelle P won my copy of Remembered by Tamera Alexander. Michelle, email me with your snail mail address, and I'll get this book out to you!!

And yes - my commonality with the heroine is that my birthname is Veronica. (Even if Neen and Mindy say I dont' look like a Veronica). LOL I loved reading about Veronique and wishing I could hear my name said in French. :-D

The rest of you--sprint to your nearest bookstore and snag a copy of this great book!!

Writing Meme

Writing buddy Robin Miller tagged me with this writing-related meme:

1.) What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?
The final book to my space opera. Or perhaps the sequel to my espionage thriller where they get to stop the neural-toxin release and save their daughter. :-D Then there's me trying to figure out how to do a Lara Croft-style book. :-D Insane, eh?

2.) If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?
The book I got for Mother's Day and haven't had time to dive into yet: Children of Hurin by Tolkien.

3.) What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?
A word processor with pop-out disks that went out of production before I could finish the first draft. LOL Sad, eh?

4.) What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?
Dunno. Varies by the month. If I'm heavy into writing toward a deadline, I might not read more than two. No deadline? Possibly six or more.

5.) What's your favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned?
I guess my laptop. A Christmas present while finishing my psychology degree, my laptop is awesome!

6.) Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read?
I like most all historicals and this flavor seeps into my space operas.

7.)What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?
Search for Fierra by Stephen Lawhead. That and Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness.

Remembered by Tamera Alexander

Learn from the masters? You’ve heard it said just as much as I have. But how many times does it happen that you go to read something from an author you consider to be a “master,” and you end up disappointed—either with a cheesy storyline or horrible craft?? I’ve been disappointed many times.

Well, let me say—that is ABSOLUTELY NOT the case with Tamera Alexander. If you’re looking for a good read with nearly flawless craft, this is one author you can trust. I’ve seen Tammy’s books everywhere (and loved all the covers!), so I was delighted to get the chance to review REMEMBERED.

REMEMBERED tugged me right in—don’t shoot me, but I totally love historicals. Especially the fact that Véronique started out in her beloved Paris. Her haughtiness played in perfectly throughout the whole story. As I dug into the story, I started to get a bit wary of where **I** thought the story was headed. It seemed to be taking a path I just knew wouldn’t end well for Véronique. And that angered me. Boy, was I ever so glad to be wrong! Tammy took a special twist on an overdone story element, and surprised me—so much that I actually teared up. :-D

REMEMBERED was such a great read, that I’m not going to keep my copy (I can’t believe I’m doing this!!). I will give away this copy in a drawing to be chosen on my husband’s birthday, the 27th.


So, drop a note (either here or on Shoutlife) and let me know you want to be included—oh, and there’s something else—I have something in common with the heroine in REMEMBERED. If you can guess, you get TWO entries. :-D