Friday, February 27, 2009

Love to Write Blog Tour, III

The ladies at My Book Therapy have given me so much good material, I couldn't help posting again on their blog tour. This is exciting! They have offered us an excerpt from Susan's new how-to book "From The Inside…Out: Discover, Create And Publish The Novel In You." I can't wait to get this book home and begin using it as another tool of the craft. Susan's workshops have always been so helpful, as I mentioned on the first "Love to Write" blog tour post. She's a great writer and a gifted teacher. Take a look at this excerpt, and if you're a writer, consider scooting over to this link for a copy of "From the Inside...Out."

Four Keys to a Writer's Life

As you prep for our journey, I want you to start exercising! We're going to get in shape! Work off the dust of our minds and tighten the flab of our daily schedules so we can utilize the writing time we have in our days.

Writing is much like every other discipline. It takes commitment. After all, as much as we'd like it to happen, those books don't just download from our brains automatically! It takes nurturing. Did you know that your brain has a well of words for each day, and you need to replenish those words after you use them? It takes time (something we're going to figure out how to get!), and it takes a game plan.

Let's start with Commitment. The fact is, writing will take you away from your family, your health club, your church, your social groups, your online gaming, your Sudoku, your television…you get the drift. There are costs. The keys to keeping those costs in line are:

1. Priorities

2. Balance

3. Perspective

Writing should ALWAYS come after spending time with God (that's also the nurturing part!) and rarely above family and church, but sometimes it does come before workouts and social life.

My friend Judy Baer (writing coach, extraordinaire) shared this illustration with me once: “Stand on one foot and balance. You can’t stand perfectly still, but rather, you have lean to different sides to keep your balance.”

Writing and life should be like this -- different sides require attention in different waves. If you are to invest in writing, then know that you might have to give up other things. Don’t worry—it’s not forever!. But for a while. If you were training for the Olympics, you'd have a training schedule, and it would ramp up when you had specific events to meet. Take a look at your life and see if you can carve out one hour per day, or three per week to invest in writing. Then, put that on your calendar in RED. It's an appointment. Be there.

Nurturing: Your brain needs a steady supply of new words, spiritual nourishment, research facts, and good writing to keep it fresh and ready to put prose on the page.

Spiritual Nourishment: Writing is largely a spiritual event. You are connecting on a thematic level with your reader, and that happens in the spiritual realm. Sure, we access many of these metaphors through emotion, but looking past feelings to their deeper meaning and sources helps broaden your understanding of your book, your character’s journey, and most importantly WHY you are spending time writing this book. Make a habit of spending time soaking in God's Word, or a devotional book like Streams in the Desert, or whatever form of spiritual food you need for your diet. I like to read theology books, but sometimes a great devotional book puts my spirit into the right frame to see beyond myself, to tap into the bigger picture and inspires me to write.

Research: make it your goal to keep up with the world. Technology. Medicine. Trends. Don't be afraid to use the Discovery channel for interesting plot ideas! Know what’s happening in culture and politics. Read biographies, current, and past – you’ll be inspired with new story ideas. Subscribe to Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. (At least TiVo the channel!) To communicate to our world, you need to understand it.

Read Up: Fill your mind with great writing. Start your writing time reading the Psalms, or perhaps a book of poetry. Read the classics, yes, but also make it your goal to read in your genre! Most importantly, find authors that are better than you and soak in their words, analyzing why they are fabulous. Feeding your mind and your soul will give you the materials you can draw from as you create.

Time: This is one of the hardest areas for new writers. Most of us don’t have hours in the day to wait for the muse to find us. We have thirty minutes after supper, or perhaps three hours on a Saturday morning.

Here's a few strategies for maximizing that time:

1. Plan ahead for your writing time and get your family to help you protect it. I have a sign on my door that reads, “Cry Me a River.” In short…they’d better have a good reason to come through that door when it’s closed (only if there’s blood or fire is the general rule). When my children were young, I always had an open door policy. However, I asked them to respect my time, just like I respected theirs. That meant that I spent time with them first – reading, helping with homework, fixing dinner – whatever they needed. I also involved them in the writing process. If they allowed me to finish a chapter, we’d celebrate with something fun (yes, there was a lot of ice cream in those early days). And I promised that when my first book got published, I’d take them to Disney World. I kept that promise. Enlisting your family’s help will free you from guilt AND give them an opportunity to share in your victories as you write. Make them your partners.

2. Keep a notebook of ideas that will invariably come to you as you wash dishes, walk the dog, clean the bathroom, drive to work, sit in a boring meeting, or even in the middle of the night. Sometimes you can't dash to your computer to put in that perfect sentence--so put it in your notebook. You'll have a collection of words and sentences to jumpstart your creativity when you sit down to write.

3. Don't clean up your writing space mid-project (okay, I know, that sounds like a messy person's excuse but...) if you simply walk away from your computer after you finish a scene, you'll be able to slip right back into it when you come back. I always suggest having a special room to write in so you can close the door, even if it's a section of your bedroom--something I did for years. I had a little garage-sale chair with a pile of books on the opposite side of the bed--my little alcove. But, if you can't find a separate space, invest in a little basket to throw all your writing gear in (research books, etc), and then set it somewhere where it won't be “reorganized” (as my husband calls it!). Keeping your research handy helps you maximize your time when you sit down and dive back into your story.

Finally, you need a Game Plan, and I'm not talking plotting versus seat-of-the-pants writing here--I'm talking about a little journal that you keep AFTER your writing session. Write down any thoughts you have for the next chapter, as well as your goal for the next writing session. Maybe you want to go back and revise the previous chapter or fix certain words. Maybe you need more research. Maybe you just want to plow ahead, but have notes for revisions.

Keeping a journal of your writing time helps you focus on each writing session without having to ask, "Now, where was I?" This is especially true if a week or more has gone by in between writing sessions.

Now, for all of you who have little children and think, "Hey, I don't even have time to wash my hair—I can't possibly find time to write,” my words to you are, well, let's see, greasy hair versus seeing your dreams come true. You can wash your hair when your kids go to school. No, I'm not that bad! I like clean hair, but I well remember the days when I typed with my children on my lap, or stayed up late with my laptop while my husband snoozed beside me.

He sure woke up when I got that first contract.

Thanks, Susie!! Happy reading and writing everyone!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Love to Write Blog Tour, II

Just for fun, I wanted to post Susan May Warren's article about why she loves to write. I love her books! So as a sort of second "Love to Write" blog tour post, here we go:

Why I love to write by Susan May Warren

God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure
. ~Eric Liddell

I love this quote by Eric Liddell, champion runner (from Chariots of Fire) who went on to become a missionary to China. I love it because he’s completely aware of both his gifts, and the joy of using them for his Savior. I couldn’t agree more. God made me a writer. And I feel His pleasure when I write. I know that the words He puts on the page are as much to bless me, as they are (hopefully) to bless others. Because I love to know God’s pleasure.

He also made me a teacher. And when I work with writers who want to pursue the gifts God has given them in writing, I feel God’s presence, giving me wisdom, and enjoying with them their journey. I feel the pleasure of God when they suddenly get a new idea, or a problem is solved in their manuscript. I love to teach.

Which is why I spent a lot of time (when I’m not writing!) teaching at writer’s conferences, helping writers through my fiction editing service construct their story, why I started www.mybooktherapy, a blog and community focused on writing craft, and why I wrote the beginner’s writing book: From the Inside…Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you. I love it when I get a note from someone I’ve been able to encourage, telling me that they’re getting published. My heart sings. God is good to allow us to do what we love for the One we love!

I love it that God longs to delight us with His pleasure, and that He does it by giving us gifts that he intends for us to use with joy. David says, in Psalm 16, “You will fill me with joy in your presence.” I believe he’s talking both about the future, in heaven, and here, now, on earth. God gives us a portion of that heavenly joy when we rightly use the gifts He’s given us. My hope for all writers is that they will embrace the gifts God has given you, and as you use them for His glory, you will feel His pleasure!

God Bless you on your writing journey!

Susan May Warren


I have Eric Liddel's quote on my website! Thanks, Susie, for sharing this beautiful, devotional message with us. All the best in your writing!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Today I'm pleased to feature Kathleen Y'Barbo's Beloved Captive, Book Two in the Fairweather Key Series.

Here is the publisher's blurb:

In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

And now for my review:

In this follow-up novel, Emilie has to face the truth—she isn’t who she was raised to believe she is. And this will affect her entire life, limiting her future, or so she believes. She's a captive of her past. Throughout the novel, Kathleen used this "captive" metaphor in many ways, including having her hero capture her heroine. (In actuality, he was rescuing her.) Emilie has a beautiful experience on a deserted island with Caleb, but she believes her birth will keep her from any kind of relationship with him. One of my favorite aspects of Kathleen’s Fairweather Key Series is the location. If your imagination likes warm, tropical destinations and you enjoy romance, you’ll enjoy this wholesome Barbour novel.

Thanks for sharing your fiction with us, Kathleen. We wish you all the best!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love to Write Blog Tour

Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck and Sarah Sumpolec are Book Therapist (and friends through ACFW). Together, they run My Book Therapy, a service for helping writers write the story they long to write. And do it well. They are so busy over there! First, the manuscript service and now a project they are writing with their readers and other writers, known as "blog a book."Here's an interview with Susan and Rachel to better explain this new project:

~ How do you find the time for this collaborative project? :)

SMW: I have been thinking about Blog-A-Book for a while, (I patterned it after HG TV’s Blog Cabin) thinking it would be another way to help people learn to write. I also love a challenge, something that helps me grow as a writer, so I thought this would be a great combination.

RH: Talk on the phone a lot. ;)

~ Whose idea was this? (What a creative and ground-breaking idea!)

SMW: It was my idea…probably I have too many ideas for my own good!

RH: I'm just happy to be along for the ride. Susie's had this vision for a long time and has done a fabulous job of executing her dream.

~ How do folks get involved? (or is it too late?)

SMW: Oh, we’ll be working on it all year, so you can get involved anytime. Just go to and vote in the weekly poll and then go to – the VOICES and you can add your voice to the discussion. Ever voice counts!

RH: It's never too late to get involved.

~ As book therapists, what are the three mistakes you see most often in the manuscripts which are sent your way?

** Shallow Characterization - Not digging deep enough inside the character to really know what they are about and what their journey will be.

** Surface writing –telling the reader how to feel instead of drawing them into the scene with the use of great storyworld and metaphors.

** HOOK – not spending the time to develop a compelling hook and inciting incident, and thus submitting too early.

RH: Not knowing the characters well enough to weave in subtleties and nuances that make the dialog pop and the character more alive. Too much telling and back story. Weak dialog.

~ Best piece of advice for writers?

SMW: Concentrate on ONE element at a time – e.g. Hooks, or dialogue, or storyworld, and don’t be afraid to go over and over. And, keep writing – if you have finished a manuscript, send it out for feedback, but then keep going to the next manuscript. In every story you will grow as a writer, and after you’ve learned the lessons, you’ll know how to go back and fix the previous manuscript. Don’t get stuck…keep moving forward!

RH: Read and write. Study the craft but mostly reading and writing. And being teachable.

Thanks, ladies.

Susan has also put together a book of "how-tos." I've sat in on a few of her writer workshops. She's fantastic! This book is a hands-on, go-at-your-own-pace tool to help writers write. I took a peak at the trailer for "From the Inside...Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You." It's fantastic!! I'm gonna need a copy of this. :-) Watch the trailer here:

You can enter a contest to win a copy of "From the Inside...Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You" and/or a 10% discount on Book Therapy services. Enter here:

Also, catch the other bloggers who are posting as part of this tour by clicking below.

Join their blog a book project by clicking over to You can become one of the VOICES and join in. Readers/comment-leavers have just chosen the pics for their hero and heroine.

Thanks to Susan, Rachel and Sarah for dropping by!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beloved Castaway by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Kathleen sent me a copy of Beloved Captive, the sequel to Beloved Castaway (which I had on the shelf). Since I hate reading series out of order, I decided to dig out Book One and begin there. I’m so glad I did.

Here's the back cover copy:

Isabelle Gayarre is a desperate woman, so desperate that she’s willing to stake her freedom—and her life—on a man she’s never met. She has to . Isabelle is determined to reach abolitionist in England, and this voyage aboard the Jude is her only chance. Can Isabelle take her first great lap of faith and trust a godless sea captain?

Josiah Carter is running from his heavenly Father—and his earthly one—when he falls in love with the one woman who presence could lead him back to both. Unfortunately, she’s a runaway slave and can never be his, legally or otherwise. What will it cost Josiah as he navigates his way through dangerous waters in order to ensure her freedom?

Thrown together on a doomed voyage upon a tumultuous sea, Isabelle and Josiah battle fire, storms, faith deception and their love for each other. Can God produce a miracle to save them, or will their lives and love be dashed up on the jagged rocks of the Fairweather keys?

And here's my review:

This is one of those titles that created a lot of buzz post-release last year. Now, having read it, I can see why. It is a phenomenal romance. There were times I was confused with the storyline and wondered if I’d missed a prequel, but those questions were answered two-thirds of the way through the story. Romance readers can’t go wrong with this book. The love story kicks in immediately. And for lovers of inspirational fiction, you’ll appreciate the transformation (redemption) of the hero. Kathleen’s characterization is fantastic. Her menacing hero has a heart. When you’re in his POV, you’ll enjoy seeing why he does the things he does, even while understanding how the heroine could misunderstand him so easily. This story’s setting is also delicious—the Florida keys. For a winter read, it’s a great getaway, one of my favorite aspects of fiction. I highly recommend this great historical romance.

Watch for my upcoming review of Beloved Captive, book two of Kathleen Y’Barbo’s Fairweather Keys series.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bluegrass Courtship by Allie Pleiter

Today, I'm happy to welcome my friend Allie Pleiter. She's here to feature her new release: Bluegrass Courtship, a Steeple Hill Love Inspired title.

Here's a bit about Allie:

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 Connecticut, holds a BS in Speech from Northwestern University and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; BECOMING A CHIEF HOME OFFICER and FACING EVERY MOM'S FEARS, and now novels for Steeple Hill. She is the mother of two children and, most recently, a Havanese dog named Bella.

Here's the back cover copy:

The celebrity host of TV’s Missionnovation, Drew Downing is comfortable with his fame. He’s become accustomed to the cheering, star-struck townfolk that usually welcome him as he renovates churches countrywide. Usually. Then he and his crew set up in tiny Middleburg, Kentucky, to rebuild the church’s storm-damaged preschool. The very lovely, very no-nonsense hardware store owner Janet Bishop is suspicious of Drew’s true motives. It looks like Janet Bishop’s faith—in God, in herself, and in love—needs some serious rebuilding. And Drew Downing is just the man for the job.

And here is her Romantic Times review:

“Four Stars--With some delightfully humorous moments, Pleiter delivers an appealing romance as well as a story filled with interesting characters” --
From RTBookreviews Magazine

Four stars is fantastic, Allie! Please tell us how the story came about.

My son would automatically hand me the box of tissues when I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I cried at the end of every single episode--there’s something so compelling about the human drama of demolition and reconstruction. Making old things new, granting someone a physical “new start” to match the mental one they’ve either accomplished or desperately need. How could an author not tap into that rich trove of human emotion? Of course, I had to give it my own twist, so I invented Missionnovation, a church version of EMHE, that gives church buildings the same fresh start Ty Pennington gives homes. As I pondered the possibilities, the big green bus of Missionnovation pulled into my brain and took over. Any of you readers who operate under the illusion that we authors are in control of our characters…you’re wrong. The best books come from the times when we’re just the typists, coming along for the ride.

Now, you can’t have a good romance without a good couple, so Missionnovation’s Drew Downing needed the perfect woman to show him what was truly important. Janet Bishop was just the sort of independent woman to pit against Drew’s Hollywood style; personally, professionally (she owned the local independent hardware store), and spiritually. Like all good love stories, they bring out the best in each other—but only after they bring out the worst in each other. Throw in the rest of Middleburg’s lovable cast of quirky characters, and you can see why this book was as much fun to write as I hope it is to read. Next up, you can read the story of Dinah Hopkins, Middleburg’s bold and brassy baker when Bluegrass Blessings releases this July.

Wow, Allie, you're very busy!

Readers, check out Allie's website at: where you can learn more about her and purchase Bluegrass Courtship.

Thanks for visiting, Allie. We wish you all the best!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Christian Fiction Releases for February, 2009

February brings thoughts of chocolate and valentines and some of us worry about groundhogs and shadows. Whatever the case, winter can't last forever, and there is always an excuse to read a good book! We've got 11 new releases to choose from this month. Check them out.

1. Evidence of Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson from Steeple Hill. When a business owner discovers on her property evidence of a decade-old multiple murder, she and the surviving son of the massacre become targets of a desperate and powerful killer.

2. Framed!, Book 2 of the Without A Trace continuity series by Robin Caroll from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. A modern day Romeo and Juliet story.

3. Gingham Mountain Lassoed in Texas Series by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. A school marm fears cruel intentions when a rancher, with a special heart for unwanted children, adopts too many of them.

4. Illusions by Wanda B. Campbell from Urban Christian. Illusions depicts the struggles of a young pastor and wife.

5. Insight by Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill. Two people brought together by tragedy discover an amazing connection that threatens to tear them apart.

6. Love Finds You In Last Chance, CA by Miralee Ferrell from Summerside Press. A woman trying to make it alone in the old west, a man she isn't sure she can trust, and someone who threatens them both.

7. On a Killer's Trail by Susan Page Davis from Love Inspired Suspense. Can a reformed bad-boy detective and an ambitious reporter overcome their past to solve a string of crimes?

8. The Desires of Her Heart by Lyn Cote from Avon Inspire. The Desires of Her Heart is based on authentic Texas history and portrays the expansion of Angloamericanos into Spanish territory.

9. The Gold Standard by Lisa Lickel from Barbour Publishing - Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. Judy's last relative, Aunt Louise, was poisoned - but how?

10. The Renewal, Book 2 of the Project Restoration Series by Terri Kraus from David C. Cook. For single-mom Leslie Ruskin and master carpenter Jack Kenyon, both starting over in a new town, could working together on restoring the Midlands Building be a blueprint for disaster, or will their lives be transformed by the promise of a new Occupant?

11. Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie from B&H Publishing. Revolutionary period of escaping captivity and finding true salvation.