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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Encounter at the Altar!

No, no, this isn't *that* kind of altar...although that would be a wonderful experience for a romance writer like myself. *g* This is actually an encounter on a far deeper level. It's a meeting of the spirit connecting with God's spirit, where all inhibitions and pretenses are brushed aside. Where your soul is connected to your Creator and you bask in the light of His glory, majesty, love and grace. It's an awesome experience.

That's what I had tonight at the practice for Worship team at church. One of our members led the worship portion before our practice, and he encouraged all of us to be real and open before God, seeking a closer and deeper relationship with Him so we can overcome whatever it is in life that's holding us back or keeping us down. We have not because we ask not, and our roles as worship leaders require us to go down that path we're leading others to go. We can't lead someone somewhere we haven't been.

The same is true in writing. You can research for months and sometimes years, but if you don't inject personal experience into your writing and connect your personal encounters with the stories you're telling, the reader isn't going to follow the path you've laid out for them. They'll be floundering and might even get lost. And that will cause them to put down the book for something else.

Get real with your characters and connect with your story. When you do, so will your readers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Celebrating with Friends

Ok, I'm taking advantage of this being my blog and I can do whatever I want on it. :) I want to share my excitement for a friend of mine who landed a 3-book contract with a major publisher (Zondervan) to write chic lit. It's her very first contract. "Romance with a Kick of Wasabi" is her tagline. :) Doesn't that make you want to rush out and buy her books? Well, you can't yet, but you will be able to soon.

You should see the snoopy dance I'm doing right now. Well, all right, so you wouldn't want to see it, but the celebration is a joyous one.

It's awesome when you can rejoice alongside someone taking the same or similar journey as you. You know their struggles, their pain, their hopes, their dreams, their ups and downs. You know and can feel every step as if you'd taken it yourself. And one day, you'll be there too.

So, to all of you who have traveled this road and reached this milestone...congratulations. To those who are still walking toward that milestone, keep at it! Your marker is just around the corner.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm Gonna Fly!

I took a little drive town to D.C. yesterday to visit a friend I hadn't seen in almost 4 years. She lives in Kansas and being half a country away from each other, well...you get the picture. But a friend of hers was coming to see off a husband serving in the military in this area so my friend tagged along, gave me a call and asked me to join them for the day.

But let me get to the point of this post. :)

On the drive down, I popped in a CD collection of Amy Grant's best songs. A little more than halfway through the CD, a song came on that reminded me how much I loved it the first time I'd heard it, but couldn't put my finger on why.

Then, it hit me.

As a writer and someone called to what is often seen as a "different path," the words really spoke to me and touched my heart. They seemed to echo everything I've been feeling for years. I wanted to share that with you.

* * *
I'm Gonna Fly
by: Amy Grant

The first verse speaks of how your friends might be happy to stay where they are, but you've been called to something greater. You don't know what it is, but you won't be happy until you step out onto the path.

The second verse affirms the reality of finding your true self, being able to step out from the life behind which you've been hiding...even if you're the only one out on that limb.

And the bridge talks about waiting all your life for the right time, then realizing that it's now. No more hiding, grasping hold of your dream and setting aside the fear of being who you are truly meant to be.

* * *

So, what do you think? To me, that represents all who've ever been called to something outside the "norm" or greater heights than the average person attains, mainly because they didn't settle for the status quo and reached for the stars.

I know I am.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Be Intolerant -- Because Some Things Are Just Stupid!

For anyone who is familiar with the name "Dobson," the title of this post comes from a book written by one of them. Fantastic book written in easy-to-read language detailing the need for Christians to step up to the plate and stop falling for the world's lies of "everything is all right" and "everyone is fine" or "it's all relative."

It isn't.

As Ryan Dobson states in his book, Jesus was the ultimate intolerant. But he dealt with those who were living in the wrong through love. That's the hard part to balance. And that's why you need God's guidance when confronting. And confront, you should. Because Christians who don't....don't really care about their fellow brothers and sisters.

Another point Ryan makes is that Christians are the only ones preventing the decay of this world. The more Christians who fall back into the "moral relativism" the closer we come to ushering in the antichrist. We all know it's going to happen, but shouldn't we be doing our part to make sure as many people as possible come with *us* and not get left behind?

Now if only my younger brother would get a clue about this and start focusing on things that have more significance than toys, games and selfish whims. He's almost 17, for crying out loud. WAY overdue.

Then again, maybe I just need to get away from him and let the world (and God) smack him upside his head. But it's not easy seeing him stray from the straight and narrow and trying to help someone who doesn't think he needs any help. What's even worse is being told *I'm* the one who needs to do something about our confrontations and just leave him alone. And then my folks wonder why the sibling relationships are so strained. (sigh)

I know, I know, guys never grow up and don't mature until they're a half-decade old (if they ever do) but I'm not necessarily asking for maturity as much as I am an awareness that he has never developed because it was never expected of him. Expectations are a good thing. They make you perform better and know someone cares enough about you to set them. I'm just sorry he didn't get them as much as I, because I thank God every day for the expectations placed on me growing up. Wouldn't have the drive, tenacity and commitment I have today without them.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Speaking to Writers

Although not many know that I also "moonlight" as a web designer and specialize in web sites for writers *grins*...I had my first "official" speaking engagement on Saturday. After being invited to speak to a writer's group down state, I spent a lot of time assembling facts and figures and details they'd need to get started in the web site world. Most of them were unfamiliar with the first steps, and a handful already had sites but wanted to know how to make them better.

With a few prayers sent heavenward on the drive down, I arrived with a peace in my spirit and confidence that the information I'd share would be just what that group needed. Thanks to the Lord's guidance, the session met with success, and that peace in my spirit confirmed to me that I had found yet another extension of the path I'd been called to travel.

Putting on the "speaking" hat made me hesitate at first, but taking that step in faith made it possible to push forward in confidence. I also received compensation for my time and shared knowledge. And when I came home, I had received a bonus blessing from an organization for which I work. Yet another confirmation that I'm pursuing the right path in life. It's awesome when you can have that certainty and even better when the blessings come as a result of your obedience. Wouldn't trade it for the world!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Calling All FREEBIE Lovers!

Ok. You love getting FREE things, right? Who doesn't? Well, if you're a reader, the best two words you can hear are "FREE BOOK." That's just what I'm giving away. A FREE copy of Tamara Leigh's newest book (and first inspirational fiction), STEALING ADDA.

Here's the scoop:

1. Post a reply to any one of the posts you find on this main page.
2. Tell 5 other people about my blog and send them here to post a comment on any one of the posts, leaving your name as a referral. If your name is common, make sure I can identify you (last name or last name initial).
3. Each person who receives 5 referrals will be entered into the drawing for the free book. If it looks like a popular contest, I'll give away TWO FREE BOOKS to TWO LUCKY WINNERS.
4. Contest ends on March 20th and the winner will be chosen. You have 1 week!

Let the contest begin!

Mom's Coming Home!

Praise God, I have some good news to share. The cause of pain was an abscess near her large intestine (possibly from her appendix) and she underwent a procedure with a tube to drain it. That'll take a couple days and then she'll have another CAT scan to verify everything is gone. After that, she'll be discharged and on outpatient status. Not sure how long she'll be home on limited mobility but she'll be getting set up with work to work from home and remain on antibiotics. Then, they'll bring her back for an appendectomy.

So, she's not fully out of the woods yet, but at least we finally have a prognosis and can see the path ahead.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying. Keep it up!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Turn Maybe for the Worse

Well, they ran another CAT scan today, this one more thorough than the first. The results came back with the prognosis that Mom might need surgery, but for what we're not sure yet. The doctor will be in to see her first thing tomorrow morning, and we'll know then. If she *does* need surgery, it will take place at 3:15pm (EST).

Unfortunately, I'll be at work until 3pm so most likely won't be able to get here to post anything even though I'll have heard the results. So, if you're so led, pray for Mom throughout the day and especially around the 3 o'clock hour.

I'll update again tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Update on Mom -- God is good

A lot of people have asked me about Mom, so I'll share the latest update with you.

It's been a grueling week to be sure. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. I can't possibly respond to everyone individually, so I'm sending it out to the loop.

Mom was moved out of the ER early Thursday morning and admitted into the hospital. She waited in what is called the "observation ward" for a room for the rest of the night and most of Thursday, with a few more tests run, but not much. Finally, she was given a room around 5pm Thursday night and we went to go see her that evening. She looked good, her low-grade fever was gone, and the antibiotics they're giving her eliminated all her pain. Praise the Lord!

The only difficult part that night was a tube inserted through her nose down to her stomach to empty out the contents of her stomach (fluids and bile, etc.) in a slow process overnight. Needless to say, she didn't get much sleep. But I just spoke to her this morning and she said her doctor didn't either that night (analyzing test reports and data to isolate the cause of her infection), so I suppose turnaround is fair play. Still haven't identified the cause. Seesawing between possible appendicitis, small ulcer, lower intestinal problems or even salmonella poisoning.

They're going to run another CAT scan tomorrow and she'll most likely be coming home on Monday. Then, she'll remain on antibiotics for 2-3 weeks to make sure all infection is gone. At that time, they might decide to pull the appendix anyway and possibly go in with a scope of some sort to take a look at everything.

In the meantime, she has her Bible and devotionals, 2 fiction books and some humor books to keep her occupied. She's also received several visitors and of course enduring the interruptions of the nurses every 2 hours to check her vitals. And they expect you to get some sleep? How?

God always has His reasons, and He doesn't always share them with us. But perhaps this is a time for her to spend communing with Him and drawing closer without all of life's day-to-day distractions. He's given me and our family definite pieace about it all, and I wanted to share the latest.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Medieval Romance to Contemporary Chic Lit?

That's what happened to best-selling author, Tamara Leigh, when she got the call from God to write Christian chic lit instead of her trademark medieval romances.

The result? An hilarious trip inside the secret chambers of the publishing world from the perspective of Adda, an author. It's a book you don't want to miss!

* * * * *

IMAGE: Tamara LeighINTERVIEW

First things first-do you blog?

Is this a joke? If not, someone really needs to inform the publisher of my well-thumbed, slightly warped college dictionary that there's an empty space between Bloemfontein (capital of Orange Free state, in the central Republic of South Africa) and Bois (city in central France on the Loire River) where "blog" ought to be. But just to be certain, I probably should "google" it (see, I'm not completely backward).

Aha!!

blog--short form of weblog; newsletter or journal updated frequently and intended for public viewing; generally represents an author's personality

Sounds important. Better look into it further. Perhaps the designer of my new website has some insight....What do you know! I have a blog. Really. And don't I feel silly....

So do I blog? Uh...yeah. Blog's my middle name.

IMAGE: Stealing Adda book coverHow many books have you published to date?

My first book, WARRIOR BRIDE, was published by Bantam in 1994 and was followed by six more medieval romances--four with Bantam, two with HarperCollins, and one with Dorchester. STEALING ADDA makes number eight!

How much of the book is based on your experience in the publishing world?

Ooh. Must not forget the "This novel is a work of fiction" disclaimer.... Naturally, many of my own experiences in the publishing world of romance served as the foundation upon which STEALING ADDA was written. Unfortunately, my experiences are nowhere near as exciting, entertaining, or devastating as Adda's. Or perhaps fortunately, hmm?

Are you concerned that publishers and editors will take offense to the insider's look you provide of that world?

Sometimes the truth hurts. The good news is that publishers and editors aren't the ones who'll be buying STEALING ADDA. Hmm...that could come back to haunt me. In which case--Nah. As the majority of publishers and editors are New Yorkers, they're hardly thin-skinned. In fact, some might think I painted a pretty rosy picture of their world.

What turned you from writing historicals to writing contemporaries?

That would be my therapist. Just kidding. Actually, I went on strike--as in burned out, disillusioned, and fed up. But that's another story Adda could tell far better than I.

Which is harder, historicals or contemporaries?

Historicals. Definitely. Though the medieval time period remains my first love and I hope to write more for the inspirational market, I've never had as much fun writing a book as I did when I tackled STEALING ADDA.

Will we see more of Adda in future books?

It's possible Adda will pop up again, as there's certainly more of her--and Nick!--to be told. We shall see...

Can Fiction Spark a Revival?

That's an interesting question. I can't tell you how often I hear "educated" and "spiritual" people talk about how trivial fiction is and how it's not as deep as nonfiction or God's word. Nothing compares to the Bible, but I beg to differ about comparing nonfiction to fiction and seeing fiction lacking.

Our own Lord taught through stories (parables), which were fictionalized accounts of people and events that taught a lesson or left you encouraged. Fiction is exactly that.

So, can fiction spark a revival? I'm not sure. But it can certainly get a great discussion going!

* * * * *
What if your task was to lead your greatest rival to the Lord? And what if God chose your rival and not you to lead a national revival? That's the premise of Storm.

IMAGE: Jack CavanaughApproximately six months before his death, Dr. Bright teamed up with best-selling author Jack Cavanaugh to write a series of books to create a hunger for revival in America. Knowing it was unlikely that Dr. Bright would live to see the publication of the project, the authors spent intensive sessions forming the novels, after which Dr. Bright signed off and allowed Mr. Cavanaugh to write them.

This month marks the release of Bill Bright and Jack Cavanaugh's Storm.

INTERVIEW

Tell us about the conception of The Great Awakenings series.

IMAGE: Storm book coverThis series was born out of a shared desire for revival in our country. When Dr. Bright and I learned that we were both praying for revival, it seemed only natural that we would team up to write this series about the historic revivals in America.

There are so many unexpected twists in Storm, were those plots twists made during the planning sessions with Dr. Bright, or were they inspired as you wrote?

The creation of a novel has many stages. Before he passed away, Dr. Bright and I met and prayed and sketched out the broad strokes for not only Storm, but three other stories as well. We knew that unless God intervened in a miraculous way, Dr. Bright would not be alive to see the release of any of the books. My task has been to bring our stories to life.

As you researched the revivals that once swept our country, what most affected you?

Two things: First, that God so often chooses common, ordinary people to be the spark for the extraordinary outpouring of His Spirit. Second, the unexpected nature of revival. Not only the timing of revival, which is wholly in God's hands, but the unimaginable wonder of it all. The historical events that occurred are far more fantastic and wondrous than anything we could have imagined.

Do you consider Storm a character or plot driven novel?

Storm is a character driven novel. But don't mistake that for lack of action. Character driven simply means that readers keep reading because they want to find out what happens next to the characters. Storm is a personal duel between two men. Imagine if you were given the task of leading your greatest rival to the Lord. The one person you can't stand. The person who annoys and torments you endlessly. Then imagine you learned that God had chosen him, a non-Christian, and not you, to start a national revival. That's exactly what happens in Storm.

What do you hope your readers will take with them from this series?

That's easy. When we began this project, Dr. Bright and I got on our knees and prayed that after reading these novels Christians would turn their hearts to God and cry out, "Lord, do it again."

Distractions and Focus

Wow. Amazing how quickly time slips by without your notice. Seems like only yesterday I was composing my last post, and here it's been almost 2 weeks. I continually have the thought of coming here to post and am forever getting ideas that would warrant a blog addition, but when I sit in front of my computer, too many other things distract me.

Of course, this past week has been an up and down rollercoaster with Mom. What started out as discomfort and pain in the abdomen has now led her to admittance to the hospital enduring a battery of tests to find out the cause of the pain, nausea and upset stomach, not to mention the tenderness across her lower abdomen. Doctors think it might be an ulcer, appendicitis, or something having to do with the lower intestine. Needless to say, this week has been out of whack and sleep hasn't been plentiful.

But, God is awesome...all the time, and He has his plans for why Mom's where she is. Praise the Lord she's not in pain any longer and she's not sick in any other way. I pray we'll learn the cause of what started it all.

In the meantime, life goes on and I'm trying to stay focused on my writing. I also have my web site clients and a full plate at work during the week. Juggling has become a close friend in recent years. :)

And if I'm not already glutton for punishment, I've teamed up with a PR company through a fellow ACFW member to help promote new books and authors, established and new. The way we do this is to feature an interview/review of an author/book to help spread the word and possibly host the author as a guest on your blog.

My first 2 reviews will follow shortly.