Sunday, June 28, 2009
My good friend Dawn Kinzer and I have just launched a new blog entitled: Seriously Write.
Our mission is to help writers succeed in spreading the message God has given them through their writing.
Each day will be dedicated to a different topic. Take a peek:
Manuscript Mondays -- focus on the craft of writing
Net's Notation Tuesdays -- I get to offer thoughts on writing
Writer's Journey Wednesdays -- we'll highlight writing organizations and helpful blogs, post articles offering advice, and generally cover stops along the writing journey
Dawn's Devotional Thursdays -- Dawn gets to share her devotional writing thoughts
Fortifying Friday -- we'll encourage writers as they jump into the weekend by posting guest authors' encouragements, success stories, etc.
Click over and check it out! Seriously Write.
If you're a writer and would like to offer pieces to coincide with the topics listed for Monday/Wednesday/Friday above, please leave a message in the comments or email me at annette [at] annetteirby [dot] com. We're actively seeking submissions as we schedule through the summer.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I love the colors on Allie Pleiter's next Steeple Hill Love Inspired novel! Today she's dropping by to share a bit about her book and her own story of writing and coping when life sends you a whole list of troubles. Here's a blurb for her new book:
And now, a peek behind the scenes of this author's writing life:
Chicago has had day after day of cool, dreary rain this summer, and I’m astounded how the weather affects my mood. Now granted, I’ve had a bunch of challenges eating away at my good mood lately, but I’m amazed how the rain destroys my endurance and patience. On a sunny day, I can be the cheeriest of optimists. Douse me for a week straight, and not so much.
Ticking off errands isn’t that difficult, even in a bad mood. A trip to the grocery store can always include a Lindt chocolate bar (yesterday’s adaptation). Writing, however, seems so very hard when I’m feeling weary. Creativity always seems to take more energy than productivity, doesn’t it?
What’s a girl on a deadline to do?
I’ll share a secret that I learned my first year as an author. Two weeks before my first manuscript re-write was due, my mother died unexpectedly. This, as you can well imagine, destroyed my creativity for weeks if not months. I was running on emotional empty, but I still had to “make art.”
I learned (and honestly, I can’t recall where) that the trick to these situations is containment. To trick my brain into thinking my problems weren’t beyond my capacity. They probably were, but obsessing about a crunch I couldn’t change proved useless. So I sat down—probably with a very large, very hot cup of coffee—and wrote EVERYTHING down. Everything I had to do (which was a whole lot, believe me). I’m pretty sure it took six or seven of those yellow legal pad pages. That seems counterproductive, but once you get it all on paper, you feel like you’ve contained it. You can see the edges this way.
Step two was to find an index card and pick five things—and ONLY five things—I could manage. Again, I gave myself edges I could see. I couldn’t contemplate all my problems, but I could stomach the thought of living through five. I wouldn’t look at the giant yellow pad again until my little white card of five tasks was done. Some days I could master a card in a day. Other times it took me a week to make it though one card. But each completed card gave me confidence, a sense of achievement, and a toehold against the storm of stuff that threatened to overtake me if I gave it the chance.
Dinah, my heroine in BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS, gets to learn from my experience. You’ll recognize the cards and the list as they make their appearance later in the book. That’s because Dinah’s a baker, a high-sensory gal like me. And, like me, she’s got a whopping load of stuff to do and not a lot of good mood to go around.
Prayer is essential, but a yellow legal pad and a stack of index cards aren’t a bad back-up, too!
Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. An avid knitter, harp player, and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in
BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS releases July 1st! Can't wait to read it. Allie's writing voice is fresh, fun and so enjoyable. (as you saw in her blurb and article above) Her coffee-focused, Seattle-based story "The Perfect Blend" is written first-person and reads fast. I love her writing! And just for fun, if you peek at "A Perfect Blend," you may see a name you recognize from this blog in the acknowledgments. Fun! A first.
Thanks for dropping by today, Allie. We wish you the best!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Today on Net's Book Notes, I'm featuring Elizabeth White's Tour de Force a delightful read about a ballerina, a new ballet and a choreographer with a passion for God. I loved this book! Here's the back cover copy:
A Passion for God.
Jacob is the brilliant young artistic director of the Birmingham Ballet Theatre and a born-again Christian. When he offers Gillian the lead in his latest ballet she accepts, knowing it won’t necessarily further her career, but it will touch her soul.
Becomes Love’s Tour de Force.
On the chaotic road to opening night, Gilly and Jacob develop a deep professional respect for each other and begin to fall in love. Then their brilliant first performance is destroyed by a terrible accident, and suddenly both must face an uncertain future. Together, they dance the fine line between personal vision and God’s will, listening for the guidance of the Father’s heart.
Elizabeth White is the author of Controlling Interest, Off the Record, Fair Game, Fireworks, and the Texas Gatekeepers series for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line. She lives in Mobile, Alabama.
And now, my review:
The author had a way with words which kept me turning pages. I want to see this ballet she invented (Perfume), and I’d love to read more of her novels. Love how she ministered to readers and shared her heart through the story’s content. Satisfying. Delightful. A pure gem of a read. Highly recommended.
For more information, see Elizabeth's blog. Click here for a list of other bloggers on this tour.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I hadn't planned on reading Cheryl's book for review (simply because my shelf is packed. :). I think I received it as a contest prize at some point, or maybe through a writer's conference. But I'd heard so many great thing about her writing (and I've become a friend through our writing circles) that I had to read it. I'm so glad I did!
Here's the back cover copy of A Soldier's Family.
On A Crash Course With Love... She was the woman of pararescue jumper Manny Pena's dreams. But he'd stuck his foot in his mouth the last time he met Celia Munoz. Now, grounded after a parachuting accident, he was desperate to make amends with the beautiful widow. But Celia wasn't having it. The last thing she needed was another man with a dangerous job--even if he had given his life to God. Yet Manny's growing commitment to her and her troubled son began to convince her that perhaps she should take her own leap of faith.
Last year, Cheryl volunteered (again?) at the ACFW conference as one of the coordinators for our meetings with editors and agents. Her calm presence made a difference, that and the fact that we'd already "met" online. I'd won a critique from her for my manuscript and the way she gently handled the interaction (always better to be gentle that first critique since you don't know where the other writer is coming from) truly blessed me. We became fast friends because I loved how her heart reflected Jesus and so appreciated her advice and wisdom.
So, what a gift to read her book and find her writing to be so delicious!
Here's my review of "A Soldier's Family" ---
Celia Munez has a reason to hold a grudge. A reason to hold onto fear and a reason to clutch unforgiveness, but this heroic heroine has this to say, at least to one of those rights:
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I am thrilled to host good friend Julie Lessman here at Net's Book Notes today. We're featuring her novel "A Passion Denied," Book Three in her Daughters of Boston series.
Recently she and I discussed the passionate nature of her novels. There has been a little "controversy" around her writing, but for the most part, readers are eating it up. I personally love her writing, though I did have some questions for her following this third book. You'll also get the scoop on her upcoming series!
Wanna win an autographed copy of one of Julie's books? Read on for details about our BOOK GIVEAWAY.
Here's the blurb from A Passion Denied:
Young Elizabeth O'Connor is the little sister John Brady always longed for. But she wants much more than that from her spiritual mentor. As she blossoms into a beautiful young woman intent on loving John, he must push back the very real attraction he feels for her. His past just won't let him go there. Unfortunately, Lizzie won't let him go anywhere else--until she discovers he is not all that he seems. Can true love survive such revelations? Full of the romance and relationships Lessman readers have come to love, A Passion Denied is the final book in the popular Daughters of Boston series.
Has she fallen in love with a man who cannot love her back? Elizabeth O'Connor has been like the little sister John Brady always wanted, sharing his love of literature and his thirst for God. But in the throes of the reckless Roaring Twenties, Lizzie has grown up. Suddenly she wants more from the man who has been her friend since she was a child. When this shy little bookworm blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving John, she discovers that his past won't let him return that love. But Lizzie refuses to give up--until his shocking secrets push her away. Can true love survive the betrayal and deceitful of a painful past . . . or will it be shattered like the fairy-tale dreams of a girl in love? Brimming with romance, longing, and redemption, A Passion Denied, will quicken your pulse and gladden your heart with a riveting story of the true power of love. Julie Lessman is the author of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed and is the recipient of ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her family.
And some info on Julie:
Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.
And now, for a conversation with Julie:
Welcome, Julie! So glad you could drop by.
My next 3-book series will finish off the saga of the O’Connors in grand style, but I must emphasize that this will be a BRAND-NEW series, NOT a part of The Daughters of Boston Series.
But with A Passion Denied, I do sense a faint undercurrent of “controversy,” real or imagined, that has given me pause. Not only with one or two harsh reviews (i.e. “In my opinion, smut is smut. Even if you slap God's name in it on occasion it's still smut.”), but in veiled comments in otherwise really great reviews that have made me question (again!) whether the level of passion in my books exceeds boundaries in the CBA. Clearly in the ABA, my novels would be nothing more than the tamest “sweet romance,” but I am an Inspirational author whose market is Christian women, so naturally I do not want to overstep any bounds in that market. Although to be honest, my real concern comes from overstepping bounds set by God, so I do pray about the direction of my writing constantly, both in my own prayer time and with my prayer partners. I truly believe that I have been called to write passionate romance for God—I feel it in my bones—but as with anything where fallible human beings are involved, I want to make sure that I am following God’s direction for my writing and not my own.
You and I have had conversations about this before. Please share with readers what your calling is in your writing. And please share how you came to understand your calling. (How God showed you your niche.)
Well, I thoroughly explain both my “calling” and how I came to it in a blog I wrote for The Seekers entitled “Life on the Edge …” (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2009/05/life-on-edge.html), but basically I feel I am called to draw people to an intimate relationship with God through “passion”—both romantically and spiritually. You see, according to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide (90%) consider themselves to be Christian.” The sad truth is that most of these women who do read romance wouldn’t choose Inspirational romance to save their soul.
Why, you may ask? Well, I can only speak for myself and my friends who wanted more heart-pounding, 21st-century realistic romantic tension interlaced with God’s precepts (i.e. on the "edge," like mine), which in years past, hasn't been overly prevalent in the Christian market. As a result, most of my friends, Christian and non, read secular romance, which, of course, generally promotes the world’s amoral lifestyle rather than God’s. What’s wrong with this picture? I mean if the world can take something that God created and use it to sell its amoral agenda, then why can’t Christians utilize this God-given passion to promote Him and His precepts?
(Note from Net: I couldn’t agree more.)
So when God tapped me on the shoulder in a beauty shop (figuratively, of course) while reading a 2001 Newsweek cover article on how Christian movies, books and music were on the threshold of exploding, I was nervous. Now is the time to finish your book, the thought came, and I knew that meant the book I’d begun at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. But romance? The "subgenre" that literary snobs (myself included) looked down upon? Yes, the thought came again, write for Me. Mmm … passion for God, an interesting concept. Thus was born my tagline and my ministry—Passion With a Purpose.
I mean, look at the world today—it’s obsessed with illicit passion. Hollywood promotes adultery and unmarried couples sleeping together as sexy, and I can count on one hand how many young, unmarried women I know who are still virgins today, Christian or no. Why? Because passion is important! Not just to romance readers, but to everyone on the planet. We were created that way by a passionate God who analogizes His own depth of love for each of us in a very passionate love letter called “Song of Solomon.” And what happens? The world uses this beautiful, God-given gift to shove sin down peoples’ throats, and I, for one, am really sick of it. I want to use passion the way it was intended—to teach people God’s precepts and therein, His love. It’s the cry of my heart, and I hope and pray that for my readers, my stories of romantic passion translate into passion for God.
And now, my review of A Passion Denied:
Readers, leave a comment for a CHANCE TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY of any of the three Daughters of
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Now, onto today’s featured book: The Inheritance.
What’s it about:
An unexpected inheritance. An unknown future. An unending love.
Determined to tame her younger brother's rebellious streak, McKenna Ashford accepts her cousin's invitation to move west and to begin again. But she quickly discovers that life in Copper Creek, Colorado is far from what she expected. Shouldering burdens beyond her years, McKenna tries to be the parent Robert needs, instead of the older sister he resents. But an "untimely inheritance" challenges her resolve at every turn, while also offering a second chance to restore her trust--and perhaps even her heart. U.S. Marshal Wyatt Caradon is dedicated to bringing fugitives to justice, yet years of living on the trail have taken their toll.
When his path intersects with that of McKenna, he comes face-to-face with a past he never wanted to relive--and the one woman who can help him find the future he's been longing for. As McKenna struggles to let go of her independence and Wyatt considers opening his heart again, they discover an inheritance beyond imagination. But it will come at a price.
Tell me about Tamera:
Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of Rekindled, Revealed and Remembered, the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles historical series with Bethany House Publishers. Tamera's deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose have earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards.
These awards include the 2008 Christy Award for Best Romance, the 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best Award, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction for 2006, among others.
Released in February 2009, Tamera's The Inheritance, the first historical for the WOMEN OF FAITH fiction line (Thomas Nelson), debuted on CBA's Bestseller list (Christian Booksellers Association). The Inheritance, a standalone novel, is set in Colorado 1877 and is about a young woman's struggle to let go of her independence while she also discovers an inheritance beyond her imagining. Read an excerpt from The Inheritance here. (borrowed from her website's bio page: www.tameraalexander.com)
And now my review:
Tamera’s cast of characters includes a strong heroine, a gentle but powerful hero, a rebellious brother, a dear niece, a kind doctor and a Chinese couple. Tamera effortlessly weaves an interesting ensemble cast into her well-written historical fiction.
One of McKenna’s weaknesses is loving without setting limits. She’s raised her brother from his infancy, but he has chosen rebellion. Now, as a young man, he’s a formidable opponent. Enter Marshal Wyatt Caradon. He has some wisdom to dole out and some boundaries to enforce. Readers will understand both sides, I think.
Brokenness is Tamera’s theme in The Inheritance. She brings her characters directly to that place—McKenna almost loses everything. Again. Robert (her rebellious brother) has to face his failures. Wyatt lives in a state of brokenness as he overcomes a deep loss. I appreciated Tamera’s reference to dependence upon God and how brokenness brings sweetness to our relationship with Him.
She has written a beautiful historical novel I believe readers will love.
Monday, June 1, 2009
My good friend Dawn Kinzer's short story was published today in the June, 2009 edition of Christian Fiction Online Magazine.
Check out the story here.
Congratulations, Dawn! Check out her blog and website.
BTW, this e-zine is chock full of great stuff for writers and readers: Christian Fiction Online Magazine.
Happy June!Beach books are here and this month you've got a LOT to choose from. Congratulations to everyone on your new releases.
1. A Case of the Heart by Beth Shriver from The Wild Rose Press. An over zealous social worker develops a relationship with a cop while they keep her client safe from involvement in a drug ring.
2. A Dream to Call My Own, Brides of Gallatin County Book 3 from Bethany House Publishers by Tracie Peterson. Love and adventure still hearts in the rugged Montana frontier, while a killer threatens the peace and happiness of an entire community.
3. A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. reunion romance between a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper (PJ) and a pediatrician and first love from his past who fears their careers will push them apart again.
4. A Family for Tory/A Mother for Cindy by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Classics. Two stories that illustrate what happens when children decide to matchmake and bring two people together.
5. Above All Things by Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill. Evette must decide if she can be a mother to her husband's 6-year-old mixed race child. A baby neither of them knew existed until a fateful phone call.
6. Child Finder by Mike Angley from TotalRecall Publications, Inc. An Air Force Special Agent discovers he has a psychic gift that enables him to find missing children, but the government's exploitation of his skills leads to murder!
7. Critical Care, Mercy Hospital Series #1 by Candace Calvert from Tyndale House. When a nurse initiates disaster counseling, the process re-opens her own emotional wounds--as God prepares her heart for a love that was nowhere in her plans.
8. Highland Masquerade, The MacTavish Chronicles by April Sanders from Tate Publishing. Victoria must disguise herself as a boy and accidentally falls into the hands of the man she loves in order to escape her evil uncle.
9. His Forever Love by Missy Tippins from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Can former high school buddies find love while fighting over "custody" of his grandmother?
10. Love Finds you in Revenge, Ohio by Lisa Harris from Summerside Press. Morgan finds herself torn between saving her sister's heart and losing hers to the man who jilted her seven years ago.
11. Love Finds you in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne from Summerside Press. The attraction between Amanda and Jerry is overshadowed by their sense of responsibility.
12. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell from Bethany House Publishers. Susannah Phillips obeys the rules. But when love interferes, she faces a choice: Follow the rules or follow her heart. (Watch Net's Book Notes for my review in the coming weeks.)
13. Nosey in Nebraska by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. Murder, Romance, Comedy and a really big mouse.
14. Snow Melts in Spring, Seasons of the Tallgrass Series by Deborah Vogts from Zondervan. Mattie Evans, a young veterinarian in rural Kansas saves a horse inured in a terrible accident but finds herself tending the wounded relationship between a prodigal son and his ailing father.
15. Sunset Beach, The Beach House Series #4, by Trish Perry from Harvest House Publishers. Sonny Miller invites her mother and estranged aunt to a week at the beach, not telling one about the other; but they bring a few surprises of their own.
16. The Night Watchman, the Ray Quinn Series Book #1, by Mark Mynheir from Multnomah/Waterbrook Publishers. When the case of a lifetime is thrust upon him, retried homicide detective Ray Quinn must decide rather he’ll succumb to his depression and pain or use the God-given gifts he still has left to catch a killer. Crawling from the wreckage of his former life, Ray struggles to find healing and purpose as he tracks a madman.
17. Witness to Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When a TV reporter witnesses a murder--she thinks--only unearthing the sinister secrets of her painful past can save her from becoming the next victim.Happy Reading!