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Sunday, April 23, 2006

God Knows Your Name

Have you ever felt so lost in a crowd that you believe no one notices you? Have you ever felt that you life isn't important or that what you do doesn't matter? Well, you and your life matter to God. He has assured you that, "I have written your name on my hand." (Isaiah 49:16) How awesome is that! Think back to the times when you didn't have paper and needed to remember something *important*, so you grabbed a pen and wrote it on your hand. It was right there where you could see it and always on your mind.

The same goes with you and God. And because your name is written on His hand, that means you are important to Him. And because you are important, everything that matters to you, matters also to Him.

Think about that the next time the bills come, or the car breaks down, or you get that rejection slip from an editor/agent. You are important. *You* matter to God.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Striking a Difficult Balance

It's so difficult to come down from the head-in-the-clouds state of writing euphoria when attending a writer's conference full of fellow writers who understand the path you've been called and chosen to walk. And it's even harder when the conference is in your home town, so you have to go home each night to reality. But, thankfully you can return the next day and get back in the clouds. *g*

The other great part is mingling and "schmoozing" with the conferees and faculty. You learn a lot of tidbits of information about the writing world and hear of the personal struggles others have faced. You can even share your own journey and possibly inspire someone else.

So often you hear that the life of a writer is a piece of cake. You hear about a roaring fire, tall wingback chair, slippers and a manuscript in the lap. It's amazing to think how many misunderstand the blood, sweat and tears...the agony and emotional rollercoaster...writers experience along the way. But at a conference, we get energized and rejuvenated to go back out and keep pushing toward those goals. We commisserate with fellow rejectees and rejoice with the celebrations of contracts or invitations to submit work.

And best of all...we realize we're not alone in this business. There are many more "crazies" out there. *g*

Thursday, April 20, 2006

God's Workmanship

So, have you found *your* calling? And no, I'm not talking about your telephone habits. :) And I'm not talking about doing whatever you can find until something better comes along. This is a bonafide certainty that what you are doing is where you are supposed to be. It's a confidence that you are using your skills and talents and abilities to their fullest and loving what you do. You are using your income to fulfill God's purpose for you here on earth.

And the best part? Your past doesn't disqualify you. God uses your past to determine your future. He uses your mistakes to make you stronger. And He'll call you to a job that seems too big for you to handle so you'll never forget where the Source of your strength is. All of your successes and awards and accomplishments will eventually leave you feeling empty, but knowing you are doing what God has told you to do will fill you like nothing else.

Now, doesn't that sound great?

When you respond to the call, several things happen. You feel "moved" or "led" in a certain direction, nudged to travel a certain path. Others will confirm it with compliments. You'll find what you need in order to complete the task in front of you. And most'll see results.

So, if you're not sure you've found your calling, take time now to ask God to show it to you. And if you are sure, praise God you've responded. And keep working at it!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Night of Many Blessings

Never, never, never doubt God's ability to bless you. I intended to share more, but that will have to come tomorrow. But tonight, I got together with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. We went to dinner after work and she treated. Then, as we were belaboring over what to choose for dessert, her cell phone rings. Her friend from work had 2 tickets to a major league baseball game that night and couldn't get rid of them. So, my friend looked at me and asked if I'd like to go.

Citizens Bank FieldI hadn't been to a pro game in over 5 years. But Spring is in the air and I got the itch to see a game. So, on a whim, I said yes. And so began our night full of blessings and surprises.

First, there was virtually no traffic getting to the game thanks to my brother who gave us a "back" way which brought us to the stadium (only 1-1/2 years old) in a more direct route. Second was getting in to park for only $6 instead of the $10 charge because that's the only cash we had on us. The attendant took the $6 and told us to enjoy the game. Praise God! Third, was *where* our seats were. And here's quick funny story.

Hall of Fame ClubWe didn't even look at the tickets except to note the section. When we were directed to the elevator, an attendant hit the #2 button and directed us to the left once the doors opened. He told us we had nice seats and to go around to our left. So we did. Only we encountered the "Hall of Fame Club" and glass doors. Knowing we couldn't go through them, we figured we'd have to go around the long way. So we turned around...only to reach the end of the level out from left field. After asking another attendant to direct us to our section, he told us to turn around and go through the glass doors marked "Hall of Fame Club." We were surprised we'd be able to get through there, and the man took my friend's ticket and pointed to the embossed hologram on it which said "Hall of Fame." *g*

Section 214 Hall of Fame seatingThat's right. VIP treatment, club seats, free food, carpeted floors. The works! And our seats were fantastic...just behind first base and up one level. Got a nice view of the team mascot and great shots of the field. Beautiful field. And if that's not enough, free food from a private party next to us after they left their remainders and ditched the park at the bottom of the 8th inning.

Tiff w/field backgroundOh, and the most important part? The Washington Nationals WON! Grand Slam at the top of the 9th sealed the Phillies fate. LOL! I'm thrilled my home team won...even if I live closer to Philly than DC now.

Ok, so I guess I don't need to share any more details, since I pretty much covered it all here. But I'll come back and share photos tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Colleen Coble -- author spotlight and interview

All right, I am SO late with this, and I apologize. For all I know, Colleen could have already stopped by and wondered where her interview is. :) I intended to post this last night and get it all ready, but interruptions got in the way. Then, this morning, I overslept and almost missed my lunch meeting. Just now getting home and hope everything will still work out.

Although I've had this blog since last November, I'm just now getting into the swing of things and networking to get the most out of this space. Thanks to fellow authors and friends, I know of many different ways to do this.

Colleen Coble photoOne of these is to offer my blog space as part of a blog tour, allowing a guest author to visit and post. This is my first one, and I'm pleased and honored to feature Colleen Coble. She is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and a dear friend and mentor. With a true heart for encouraging other writers and offering uplifting insight, she takes her own writing journey to new heights.

Join with me in welcoming her...but first, learn a little more about her newest book with this synopsis:


For some people, Alaska is a breathtaking wilderness adventure, full of light and beauty. For Haley, it is a dangerous world of dark dreams and tortured memories. On the surface, she's here to document wildlife activist Kipp Nowak's bear encounters. But her real reason is to unearth the truth about a past murder. The suspense mounts when another body turns up, and Haley beginst to wonder if the tragedies she experienced in the past are connected to the dangers and mysterious incidents of the present. From behind the viewfinder of her camera, Haley observes it all, including Tank Lassiter, the bear biologist who has been forced to lead Kipp and his team into the Alaskan backcountry. As she watches him with his work, she feels a growing attraction. It will take great courage and faith to confront the truth she once ran away from. Before it's over, Haley may be viewing herself from an entirely new angle.

Alaska Twilight is the story of a young woman's emergence from the shadows of past sorrow into the light of forgiveness and grace.

Buy the Book!

Amber chats with Colleen

1. You have a successful career now writing romantic suspense, but you began with category romance. How and when did you make the transition, and what was the most difficult aspect of the change?

Editors can tend to look at a past body of work and think that's all you're capable of. I'm so blessed that Ami McConnell, my WestBow editor, was willing to look at what I was capable of doing. I'm thankful for the category romances I wrote because they taught me how to write STORY. To write from a strong conflict. I'd always hoped to write suspense because that's what I've always read—starting with Nancy Drew books—but it took time for me to gain the skills necessary to do it. Mystery is a hard genre. There are so many threads you have to weave together. I'm still growing and learning.

Alaska Twilight Cover2. Alaska Twilight has gotten great reviews across the board. What was your favorite part to write? Your most difficult?

I loved Haley's story. Her past hurts, the way she'd lost her leg. I realized I really LIKE writing about heroines who have physical adversity to overcome. But the flip side of that was it took a lot of research to understand the challenges she faced.

3. What themes exist in Alaska Twilight that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Oh you are digging deep! The major theme was that we too often let our past dictate our future. We can't change what's happened to us, but we can control our response to it. That's in our own hands. A secondary theme was that it takes compromise to build a relationship.

4. How did you come up with the idea for Alaska Twilight?

I've always been fascinated with bears. Terrified of running into a grizzly. And something about Alaska has always called to me. I'd written the first chapter or so and shown it to my agent who hated it. I didn't understand it because I really felt drawn to the story. When Ami asked if I'd like to do an Women of Faith book, I immediately thought of it again and pulled it out. Oh my goodness, my agent was SO right! It was TERRIBLE. I trashed everything except Haley's name and profession and started from scratch. I'd heard about Timothy Treadwell and his fiancée being eaten by brown bears and wanted to weave in a story about how misguided some people can be. Wild animals will always be wild animals. You can't expect them to act like people.

5. Describe your writing space and schedule. How many words per day do you write and do you have a minimum goal you hope to reach before you push away your keyboard?

I have a leather wingback recliner where I sit and write on a Sony laptop. I have a laptop desk my friend Kristin Billerbeck got me for Christmas one year and it's wonderful. I try to write a chapter a day (2500-3000 words). Now granted, I'd probably get it done in two hours if it weren't for email, but as it is, I'm usually at my computer all day.

6. Writing can be a difficult career for the back and body. What are some of your suggestions for avoiding the discomfort and wear and tear on your body...especially during a deadline?

You're asking the wrong person. LOL I’m OBSESSED when I'm on deadline, hardly taking time to eat—well except for DeBrand mocha truffles. LOL Seriously, my buddy Randy Ingermanson recommends walking every hour. I'm going to try to be better about it.

7. You are well-known as a favorite mentor to so many new and growing writers. You've even won the mentor-of-the-year award with ACFW two years in a row. What would be your top 2 pieces of advice to give to aspiring writers?

Attend conferences! That's huge. This is a business, and you need to go into it knowing you’re going to have to commit some money to it. Think of a conference as a college class. They’re essential for networking with other authors, editors and agents. The second thing is to read extensively in the genre you want to write. Don't think you can write anything because you can’t. You have a specific voice and passion that you need to find to write from a position of strength.

8. How important do you believe it is for a new writer or even an established one to join a writing group such as ACFW?

Vital! One reason I mentor aspiring writers is I remember what it was like to wander in a wasteland where I knew no other writers and had no one who really understood the battles I faced every day: doubt, insecurity, fear. There is tremendous help and support at ACFW. Tons of forums, editors and agents belong to it as well. We're a thousand or so strong now and still growing by leaps and bounds. We've started adding local chapters too. ACFW rocks!

9. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The next book out of the gate is Dangerous Depths. It's book 2 in the Aloha Reef series. It's a treasure hunting type story, lots of action and adventure. And romance of course.

10. Anything else you wish to share?

Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Get the picture?

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If you'd like to learn more about Colleen and her books, visit her web site.