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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

No Interview Tuesday

Only the second week of my new goals, and already I have to change things. Because the featured author this week is also doing a simultaneous June Blog Tour for her new book, her interview won't appear until Friday.

In the meantime, pick up a good book to read...or maybe even the dictionary and find a new word to use today. *g*

Or if you're really desperate, you can learn about fan fiction. :) No? Yeah, I didn't think you would.

But if you have a burning need to comment on my blog, feel free to share what you did for Memorial Day weekend. Me? I slept in, piddled around my office for a bit, spent time with my dog who had just celebrated his 14th birthday on Sunday (98 years old!) and enjoyed pizza and a movie with my family who gathered in the evening. The men in the family had gone out to play golf that day and had been given a free lunch afterward, so our plans for grilling were replaced with the dinner and a movie idea.

Rumor Has It with Jennifer Anniston and Kevin Costner and Ledo's Pizza. If you haven't had Ledo's, you haven't had pizza. :) So, what did *you* do?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Winners Announced!

Ok, so I missed Sunday and it's now Monday. But a holiday weekend and things got a bit hectic. And now, I'm here with the great news! The winners of the drawings from the past 2 author spotlights are:

Widow's Club
Margo Carmichael

Oregon Escort
Rhonda Gibson

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Recommended Blog of the Week!

Tomorrow, I'll be announcing the winners of TWO contests from the past 2 author spotlight features. Thanks for your patience and your participation.

Tonight though, I'm going to spotlight my favorite blog this week:

Forensics and Faith

This is the blog of the crazy redhead, Brandilyn Collins. *g* She writes best-selling crime thrillers for the Christian market. And this week she began a 10-part series on character empathy. Fantastic stuff from the woman who brought us "Getting Into Character."

An excerpt:

Now, writers and readers know that character empathy doesn’t happen all at once. It should grow with each chapter. That’s human nature—we connect with people as we get to know them better and appreciate how they handle struggles in life. But readers need enough connection with the character in that first chapter of his/her appearance so they’ll want to read on....I thought of 10 approaches for character empathy that immediately came to mind. No doubt it’s not a complete list. Neither are these 10 approaches islands unto themselves. If you can mix two of them, or three or four—all the better. And we're not talking about paragraphs of copy. Sometimes a couple lines here and there, scattered among action, will do the trick.

Stop by and have a look!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Do you like Romance Fiction?

Heartsong bannerWell, have *I* got a deal for you! Heartsong Presents, one of the top publishers of inspirational romance (yes, this means no gratuitous love scenes) is having an anthology blowout sale!

Anthologies are 4 stories/books in one usually by 4 different authors but sometimes all by the same author, with all stories centered around a main theme and the stories weaving together in other ways. Great for quick reads and to enjoy a little break from the pressures of life.

Thirty of their titles are on sale for the low price of just $4 each. That's 3 for $12! Since they retail at $9.95, this is quite a bargain.

There are 3 ways to order:

1. If you are a current book club member, you will receive a flyer in your next shipment of books.
2. Click here to go the web site and browse through the titles, then download and fill out the order form for mailing.
3. Call 1-740-922-7280 to place a credit card order by telephone.

As their tagline says: Fall in love with a story. :)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's Contest Time!

It might be nearing 11pm here, but it's still Thursday according to my clock, so I'm within the parameters to continue meeting my new goals. :) I suppose I should've prepared this for posting last night, and I'll remember that for next week. Anyway, without further ado, here are some other blogs and web sites running CONTESTS and FREE GIVEAWAYS. Check them out:

DeeAnne Gist - Author
Camy's Loft
A Christian Writer's World

That's it for this week, but I'll have more next week. And don't forget to stop back on Saturday for my "recommended blog of the week." Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hi from Susan!

Hi, I'm Susan Page Davis, guest blogger this week, thanks to Tiff! I am smack in the middle of writing a historical romance called The Castaway's Bride, so my thoughts today are leaning toward heroes marooned on itty bitty islands for way too long. Of course, I have to keep coming back to the real world for things like cooking lunch, giving spelling tests (11 and 13-year-olds still learning at home), and letting the dog, Monte, back in. (Who let him out, anyway?)

Writing fiction is tons of fun, but also hard work. But I'll tell you a secret. It's not nearly as hard as nonfiction. I've worked many years for a newspaper. One of my reporter friends asked me how I can stand writing fiction. He said he likes reporting on community news, and he doesn't have to make up dialogue! There's always someone to quote. I told him I'm just the opposite. In my fiction I don't have to worry about whether I quoted someone correctly. They can say whatever I want them to say! Now, which is more fun, I ask you?

One of my banes is coming up with character names. I use a phone book, baby name books, and (should I admit this?) lists of defendants in the court news I type up for the newspaper. Yes, it's true, I've found some perfect names lurking in the court abstracts. Of course, I try not to use the first and last names of a real person together.

I hope you enjoy my historical romances, mysteries, and children's books. Come visit my website at:

Susan Page Davis -- inspirational romance...and much more!

Well, here's my next author spotlight. And as promised, it's Tuesday. So, I'm doing good so far with my goal. One for one. *g*

Susan will have a personal post as well to follow this interview. And we'll be having a drawing from everyone who comments on either this post or hers for a free copy of Oregon Escort. Enjoy the interview!

Susan Page Davis1. You have two books with Heartsong Presents, and 5 more slated to release in the next year. What made you want to write inspirational romance and what steps brought you to this career? How long did it take before your dream was realized?

When I first started writing fiction, I was leaning more toward mystery and suspense. I felt my newspaper experience and love of the genre had prepared me for that. After stacking up quite a few rejections, I decided to try another genre. My first few attempts at pure romance were also rejected and I was discouraged.

About three years after seriously beginning to write fiction, I did sell several short romantic stories to Woman’s World Magazine, which was enough to keep me going. Soon I was selling stories to other publications.

Then a real, breathing book editor suggested I write a historical romance. He liked my writing style, but needed historicals at that time. That’s when I wrote my first published book, Protecting Amy. (Thanks for the advice, Jim Peterson!) While waiting for its release, I came up with ideas for several more historicals. My second book, The Oregon Escort, was also bought by Heartsong, and author Cathy Marie Hake graciously invited me to be in a threesome with her and another author, Vickie McDonough. That trio will come out in August, September, and October this year. It was a great honor to work with those gals! More historicals, including a Maine trilogy, followed.

As to the dream being realized, well ... It’s true many of my dreams have come true. Being a multi-published author is one of them that still floors me. It is less important than many other things, like my family. But it’s good. Very good.

I'm still basking in the satisfaction that first contract brought, but not resting on it. I have a lot more dreams now. My hankering to write mysteries never left me, and I had an 8,000-word humorous story published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. My first published mystery novel will be Homicide at Blue Heron Lake, written with my 24-year-old daughter Megan. I'm very thankful for the blessings the Lord has brought to me through my writing. I have lots of other projects in the works, and I still have plenty of unfulfilled dreams.

The Oregon Escort book cover2. The Oregon Escort features a Cavalry Corporal. Protecting Amy features a Frontier Scout and two cavalry troopers. Do you have any background in or connection to the army, or does that subject matter simply fascinate you? What led you choose those type of men for your lead heroes?

You caught me. I've had an affinity for Cavalry stories since I was a child, watching old B westerns on TV. Things can look hopeless, but when you hear that bugle blow, you know everything’s going to be all right.

Heartsong readers love "prairie" stories, but I wanted my first book, Protecting Amy, to have a different twist and a lot of tension, so I made up an army major whose rambunctious daughter is with him at Fort Bridger when trouble threatens the fort. Then Amy and her escort, hand-picked by her father, must travel east along the Oregon Trail in a suspenseful sustained chase.

I first learned about the real cavalry unit called the Oregon Escort while visiting a museum in Oregon. I knew immediately that I wanted to write a book about it, and my second book focuses on those brave men who escorted wagon trains from Fort Laramie to Oregon City in the early 1860s.

3. The Oregon Escort takes place during a well-known time of pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail. It was also a very treacherous and dangerous time in our country's history. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

I'd say the most difficult was the last third of the book. I wanted to be sure my references to the trail were accurate, so I did a ton of research. This book takes place in 1860, and there were Pony Express riders and stations along the trail by then. It was near the end of the "wagon train" period. After the transcontinental railroad was completed, wagon trains faded away. This was a time of transition, and also a prelude to the Civil War. I tried to bring out some of that unease, where the men of the Escort wondered if they would soon be called East for a war.

My favorite parts of this book were the dialogue between Mike and Lydia, and also their fight against the Sioux. Dialogue is one of my strengths, but I just loved it when Lydia let her arrow fly!

Protecting Amy book cover4. Protecting Amy was named second favorite historical of the year in 2004. Tell us about your feelings upon receiving the results of the annual reader's poll?

I was stunned. Until I heard the news, I had no idea Heartsong took this poll every year. Hearing that my book was named second-favorite historical of the year (2004) and I was named Favorite New Author of the Year was affirming, but it was humbling when I saw the list of other authors I was up against. God gave me this wonderful encouragement at a time when I really needed it.

5. What themes exist in The Oregon Escort that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

A couple of themes I played on are not judging a book (or a man) by the cover, and also faithfulness. Lydia's quandary over fulfilling her obligations was a major thread in the story. Mike wanted her to break a contract, but in the end he told her he knew she was right to honor her promise, and he honored her for that, giving her scripture to undergird her decision.

6. 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?

My space: a very messy home office with two desks (computer and "regular but cluttered"), four overflowing bookcases, four file cabinets ... well, you get the picture.

My schedule varies tremendously because of my family situation. I help give care for my elderly father and mother-in-law, and I still have two of my six children being schooled at home. If I can rough out a chapter a day, I feel pretty good. Some days I just can't do that. I like to finish a section that I'm working on in one sitting if possible, for the continuity of it.

7. Are you a SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) writer or a plotter? Or do you possess a blend of both?

I'm smiling at this question. I used to be a confirmed (or so I thought) SOTP writer, insisting that I just let my characters take me wherever they wanted to go. Now I know better. Even in those days, I was running the story through my mind many times before writing the rough draft. Now I write notes, outlines, synopses, timelines—whatever seems best for that particular project. This advance planning keeps me from painting myself into a corner in my plots. But I'm always open to revision and frequently add major plot twists after I’m deep into the book.

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?

For my first four years of fiction writing I was alone. No wonder I became discouraged so easily! I was professionally isolated. Then I found a monthly support group and online writing friends. I cannot express how much this has helped me. I joined ACFW less than a year ago, and it has been a tremendous boost. Through this group and the online "loop" I've met wonderful people who have answered writing questions, given advice, helped me plan speaking events, and invited me to join projects. I didn't find this group until after I was published. In the early days of my fiction writing, I suppose I assumed that published authors wouldn't want to be bothered by someone like me. But the writers in ACFW are gracious, giving people, always willing to help a newbie.

9. What does your upcoming releases schedule look like and what are the story lines?

I'm excited about the books I have coming out in the next year!

July 2006: The Prisoner’s Wife, from Heartsong, will feature Jack Hunter, a colonial Maine man accused of murdering his neighbor. When Jack is told he'll be hung in the morning, he sends for the only woman he ever loved. Lucy's father broke them up three years ago, but now Jack is begging Lucy to marry him in the jail, so that the magistrates can't seize his property after he is executed.

Weaving a Future will come out in October with Heartsong. This is part of a Shenandoah Spinning Wheel trilogy. The heroine in this 1854 book is Sadie, whose father breeds horses. Unfortunately, when Harry Cooper goes to buy some stock from the farm, he is gets a misleading impression, and Sadie isn't sure how to set things right.

Wyoming Hoofbeats, a December 2006 release, will complete my Wyoming Brides trilogy. It features Matthew Barkley, brother of Protecting Amy's T.R. Barkley. Matt falls in love with a woman held captive by the Arapaho Indians.

Also in the fall, my children's fantasy book, Feather, will be published by Journeyforth Publishing. Feather is a 12-year-old girl who is kidnapped by a band of marauders and forced to make weapons her captors will use against her people.

Homicide at Blue Heron Lake will release in February 2007, with Heartsong Presents: Mysteries (also known as Spyglass Lane), and my Maine Brides trilogy with Heartsong will be completed in the spring with The Castaway's Bride and The Lumberjack's Lady.

10. Anything else you wish to share?

Hang onto your dreams of writing, be diligent, and enjoy every minute. Praise God for allowing you to do this! Oh, and come see me at my website ( and at the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers one-day mini-conference Aug. 5th in Belfast.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Finally! It's Focus Time!

Ok, so I've had this blog for about 6 months now, and the traffic hasn't exactly been heavy. But, thanks to some tips from other successful bloggers and now this recent article on Romancing the Blog, I feel like I've struck gold!

So, here's the plan:

1. Weekly author spotlights (Tuesdays, unless scheduling conflict arises) with free book giveaways from the featured guest, along with a guest post from the author of the week.
2. Once a week, share contests and giveaways that I find from other blogs and author sites (Thursdays).
3. Link to my recommended blog of the week from my blog surfing time (Saturdays).

Other than that, I'll be posting as the muse strikes. You might see humorous anecdotes from daily life, insights from my writing journey toward getting my first book contract, or remarks about other blogs or other author friends. So, I hope you enjoy your time here and come back to visit again soon. And be sure to tell your friends if you find something here you think they'll enjoy.

See you again soon!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Funny Titles for Books

I was browsing some other blogs and Julie Carobini (Chocolate Beach from Bethany House Publishers in early 2007) had a post about a web site that lists funny book titles coupled with matching authors. Thought I'd share it with you.

Made *me* smile, and considering all the rain we've had lately, a reason to blow past this somber and overcast state is a welcome change.

Happy reading! *g*

Monday, May 15, 2006

Still Getting Cat Calls and Honks

Ok, I know I'm behind in some of my standard devotional insight, and I have some great stuff from Sunday's sermon to share, but in light of the time nearing midnight, and knowing I have to be up early for work, I'm going to keep this one brief.

Walked home from work today and enjoyed the nice breeze as well as the break from all the rain we've had lately. But the walk was made even better by the 2 cat calls and the 1 whistle I received. Surprising that I didn't get any horn honks. But, the ones I got last time more than made up for it. *g* Even had one guy who rolled down his window for the express purpose of whistling only to roll it back up after he passed.

I suppose it's flattering that at almost 30, I'm still catching their eye. I know, I know, not that old, but there are days when I feel it. At least experiences like these put a smile on my face.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dream is Getting Ever Closer!

Can't go into too many details because of the circumstances, but I received some VERY good news from an editor tonight. Said the book I sent him is what they're looking for, the character interplay is engaging, the plot/crisis is believable, and the solution is a workable one.

Of course, we all know what comes after a string of compliments. *g*


There are some areas that need some nips and tucks. Nothing major and no rewrite is necessary. Just some strengthening of what I already have. Official review with remarks and comments will be sent to me within the week, and then I get to work.

It's great to have a reason to smile again. Ahh, the ups and downs in the rollercoaster life of a writer. LOL! Wouldn't trade it for the world!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Greetings from Joyce Livingston!

Hello, I'm Joyce Livingston, the featured author this week on Tiff's blog and the guest blogger today. I'm humbled to be here, but excited about sharing my *writing* life with you. A life which has been an amazing adventure. To think that God could take little ol' insignificant me, and let me touch the hearts of people through my writing, never ceases to amaze me. I'm not the smartest kid on the block, but I have been blessed with over 20 books already published and at least 10 more contracted, so I like to think I've learned a little bit along the way to publication. I thank you and the opportunity to share it with you. I love hearing from you and invite you to write me at and also to check out my website (which is undergoing a facelift) at I adore writing Christian romance, and now women's fiction. Where else can you work at home and write in your jammies? Is God good or what?

From Romance to Women's Fiction -- Welcome Joyce Livingston!

I'm excited to again have the opportunity to share a special interview with all of you. The previous ones have been quite a success, and I enjoy chatting with these authors then passing on their stories for you to enjoy.

Joyce made her foray into the world of writing in 1997 through her captivating romances and has been named the favorite author of the Heartsong Presents book club for 3 years running. She has even been the featured guest on television interviews. Now, she not only takes a step into the realm of women's fiction, but also into the world of first-person POV. The interview delves deep into the writing and personal life of this dear-hearted author, and a special guest appearance by Joyce immediately follows.

I'm also giving away a FREE copy of Joyce's new book, Widow's Club. Anyone who comments on either this post or Joyce's post will be entered. And no, I'm not picking. I have an arbitrary friend who's disconnected from ACFW and the writing world who will be making the selection. Make a comment, say hello, just sign your name. You just might be the winner!

Joyce Livingston photoAmber chats with Joyce Livingston:

1. You have a successful career as a romance novelist, but now you've branched into women's fiction. Not only that, but you have now delved into first-person POV. How did you decide to make the transition? What was the most difficult aspect of the change?

The change to Women's Fiction wasn't that hard since I have written so many books for Heartsong Presents and one for Love Inspired that deal with women's issues and experiences. Actually, I found it refreshing and stimulating to have several more thousand words to work with, and to be able to expand its premise and storyline.

As to writing in first-person POV? That was an exciting discovery! When I started THE WIDOWS' CLUB, something didn’t feel right. I had a hard time putting my finger on it. I changed the beginning, and even that didn't help. I knew what I wanted to say but I just wasn't saying it. Then I tried first-person POV! I'd never written anything in first person! And, to my surprise and amazement, it worked! That was what my story needed! I was off and flying!

2. You've also been selected with another favorite author to launch a new focus for Barbour's Heartsong Presents line. Tell us a little about that.

As I understand it, the American Wedding focus means that all books have to end with a wedding or *wedding-type* situation. To launch that premise, they asked me do write 3 brand-new, never-seen-before, complete contemporary stories which will all be included in one volume as the *launch* book. They have asked Cathy Hake to do the same thing for the Historical side of the launch. I consider it quite an honor to write these books and have already sent the completed stories off to Rebecca Germany, my editor. What fun I had doing them. I hope everyone enjoys reading them.

Widow's Club book cover3. Widow's Club covers a rather sad reality about life but balances humor and engaging characters with the melancholic aspects. What was your favorite part to write? Your most difficult?

My favorite part? I think it would have to be the chapter where Barbie Baxter comes into Valentine’s life. Barbie wasn't even in the original synopsis I'd written. I loved my characters and the plans I had for them, but I needed a spark. She was that spark! I got very excited when she entered the book. She's self-centered, flamboyant, unpredictable, a non-Christian, out to get the man Valentine is interested in, and so much more, causing havoc wherever she goes. I hope the readers enjoy her part in THE WIDOWS' CLUB as much as I enjoyed writing her into it.

The most difficult? That's a good question. Have you ever written a manuscript that seemed to flow? Like you couldn’t type it fast enough? That’s kinda what happened with this story. I can't say there were any really difficult parts to write. Since I am a recent widow myself, much of it was written from the heart and almost therapeutic for me (with its lightness and humor), but I admit I did shed a few tears along the way. I was quite happy with the book when I finished writing it, but it was definitely improved with editing. Rebecca Germany had some good ideas on how to make it even better and I implemented all her suggestions. Tracie DuPree did the copy-editing and that, too, made a vast improvement. Both of these ladies know their stuff! I owe them much.

4. What themes exist in Widow's Club that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

a. That God made many promises and decrees about widows in His word, promises we can depend on. Though we may question His plan, He is never wrong.
b. That even though God made those promises, and is faithful to keep them, He can't physically put His arms around us and whisper sweet things in our ears like our beloved spouse may have done. It is okay to miss them. True love never dies.
c. Life goes on---and so must we.
d. Casual friends are a tremendous help, but true friends are there when you need them.

Overt themes? Not really. As a Barbour author, I’ve always written a thorough synopsis when submitting a proposal for most of my books, and I stay with the *bones* of the story. Not that I don't venture off a bit, I do, but the actual structure pretty much stays the same. So my themes stay close to what I’d planned. Since Barbie, who turned out to be a key character and a big part of the book, wasn’t in my original plan, I emailed Rebecca Germany about adding her before I continued on with the writing. I want to give my editors what they expect—the book they agreed to purchase.

5. How did you come up with the idea for Widow's Club?

A big part of the joy in my life disappeared October 4th, 2004, the day the Lord took my husband home to be with Him. For the first time, I began to see widowhood in a whole new light and I knew I had to write a book about widows. Not just for widows, but for all women who are, or will become widows, and those who know widows. I wanted to show not only the sad part of widowhood, but also the joys and triumphs of the recovery that comes once we accept all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. Widows come in all ages, all sizes, income levels, and all walks of life. Some know the Lord. Many don't. I wanted this book to lift the spirits of those who know Him, and help provide the answer for those who don't. I hope I have succeeded. Since fiction seems to be my forte' (and I'd been wanting to write a women's fiction book), I chose fiction as the way to do it, thus THE WIDOWS' CLUB was born.

6. You've been voted as favorite author 3 years running in Heartsong Presents, and your book, Down from the Cross, was voted favorite contemporary for 2005. Share a little about your reaction to this.

As both Rebecca Germany and Tracie Peterson can attest—I responded with total shock and disbelief! Each time has amazed me. As I've told so many people, I am such a simple writer. If I try to write the wonderful, flowery descriptive phrases so many can write, it comes off sounding contrived and unnatural. And it is. But with each book I try to get better at it. Maybe someday I will. Heartsong has so many wonderful, talented authors. Their books are fabulous. That the Heartsong readers would name me Favorite Author of the Year absolutely astounds and humbles me, and encourages me to write more and better books. It's an honor I'll never forget. God called me to this ministry and I praise him for it. The little sign I keep over my computer says, God doesn't always call the qualified. Sometimes He calls the unqualified and qualifies them. That's me!

7. 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 really nice office with all the fancy gadgets, but most of my writing is done, kicked back in my recliner, in my Victorian-decorated living room which has an inspiring view of the little lake outside my condo. I love it here. For revisions, proposals, synopses, etc. I usually work at my desktop computer in my office.

I don't write a certain number of words each day, or have a goal. With my lifestyle, I spend from 8 to 14 hours-a-day, six days a week (sometimes, even on Sunday afternoon), at my computer, writing, doing revisions, checking galleys, synopses, proposals, etc. I write until I'm ready to quit. Now that I'’m alone, I get so engrossed in my writing, sometimes I have no idea whether it is still morning or late afternoon. But I always stop when some of my family stops by, which is often. They inspire me.

8. What changes have taken place in your writing routine recently and what has been the hardest part of this adjustment?

Of course, the biggest change has been the loss of my husband. That changed every phase of my life. He was my biggest fan, and did so much for me, more than I realized until he was gone. I have to do those things myself now, which takes me away from valuable writing time.

9. You have been interviewed for television and radio spots and even conducted interviews yourself. What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to give to authors who are facing their first media interview?

Be prepared. Take along a list of questions or comments to give to whoever will be interviewing you, though they may not use them. If you have sent a book to them ahead of time, don't be surprised if they haven’t even lifted the cover, let alone read it. Be yourself. Smile, that's very important. The 18 years I hosted TV shows, I always told my guests—if they were uncomfortable looking at the camera—to keep their eyes on me and let the director worry about how to get the shots. Many of them told me this really helped and made them feel as ease, which was my goal. It made for a better interview, and isn't that what we all want? If you feel you goof up an interview and didn't do your best? So what? Who is going to remember it in six months? Forget about it and chalk it up as a learning experience. The next time you'll be better!

10. It's obvious your heart is in encouraging new writers to keep at it and not give up when your paths cross. What advice would you give to a author looking to her his/her start in the business?

As many ACFWers may have noted, I rarely post writing advice on the ACFW loop, but I do read most of the posts. Why don't I post? I think advice is a very personal thing. Though it may benefit others, I prefer to personalize my advice and send it directly to the person who asked for it. To me, you can't beat one-on-one. Not only that but, I admit, I don't agree with much of the advice that is so freely given on the loop. Sorry, but that's the way I feel. Too many who haven't been there—done that (by having a book actually bought, gone through the process of publication and working with an editor, copyeditor, proofreader, etc)—are giving advice that isn't always correct. It concerns me that many unpublished writers are taking it as gospel truth. So, weigh the advice you receive.

However, that being said, I do want to encourage those who are truly seeking publication. Do your homework. Don't expect the book-of-your-heart (that very first book you write) to be the one that will be your first published book, though it may happen. To set your work apart and look as professional and business-like as possible, turn in the most perfect query, synopsis, proposal, and manuscript possible, making sure you follow the publisher's guidelines. Competition is fierce (just look at the marvelous unpublished members of ACFW). Rejections are discouraging and sometimes hurt. But remember, (in most cases) your work was rejected for a reason, no matter how undeserved. Perhaps it missed the mark simply because they had already purchased a manuscript similar to yours, or it wasn't right for their line, or their focus is changing, or (I hate to say it) the editor or agent had so many proposals on their desk they didn't have time to give it a good reading. The list goes on and on. If the editor or agent takes time to give you criticism, learn from it. If they don't, scour your proposal and try to see what you could have done to make it better. On the website, in the Fiction section, in the Writer's Corner along the right hand side of their website, I have written a column on things that will help a writer to become published. You might want to check it out.

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

I'd say imperative! To this day, I still believe if I hadn't attended the first meeting of The Kansas Fiction Writers and met Tracie Peterson, who was the acquiring editor for Heartsong at the time and so graciously asked to see the manuscript Love Inspired had just turned down, I may not have become a published writer. Tracie was not only an accomplished author herself, she was a great mentor and inspiration. I owe much to her and Barbour for giving me that first chance. You'll never be able to make better one-on-one contacts with agents and editors than the ones you make through conferences like you find at ACFW and others. They're the best! And they care. If you can't afford to attend this year's conference line-up, save up your money for next year. It won't insure publication, but the things you learn there will be of tremendous value as you meet people, hear speakers, schedule appointments, and attend workshops taught by those in the know. Consider it an investment in your future.

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

THE WIDOWS' CLUB was released May 1st, and should be available nearly everywhere, including on-line. If not, it can be ordered. After that Cathy Hake and I have a 4-in-1 book releasing early fall (2 stories by Cathy, 2 by me) titled SAN DIEGO. We're both excited about that. Those stories are re-releases of the LOVE IS series Cathy and I did about a pair of twin girls. Some ACFW members may remember my book, ONE LAST CHRISTMAS, which placed first in ACFW's short contemporary division last year, much to my surprise! It is being re-released with two other author's stories in a Christmas book late fall, titled BITTERSWEET CHRISTMAS. That story is one of my favorites. It's a reconciliation book about a couple who have let other things keep them from the happy marriage they both had wanted. I think I have one or two Heartsongs coming out this year too. So 2006 is a busy year for me. God is good! .

13. Anything else you wish to share?

Yes, one other thing. In addition to being named Heartsong's Author of the Year three times, the readers also voted 4 of my books—Contemporary Book of the Year. I say that not to boast, but to tell you of my own experience. For years, after that first rejection, I put my fiction writing aside, sure I would never have a chance at being published. Why? Somehow I got it in my head published authors were English Lit majors with all sorts of degrees to their name. I never even attended college. But I wanted to write.

In 1990, I decided to try to get some publishing credits by writing and submitting magazine articles. Unbelievably, my first article sold. So I began to write articles for quilting and craft magazines, as well as others. By 1997, with a stack of magazine articles to my credit, I decided it was time to try fiction again. I sent off a proposal to Love Inspired, they asked to see a complete, I sent it, and it was rejected (as I've already told you above). Heartsong bought that book (which was not the book of my heart, but a brand new book) and it came into being in Fall 1999. I'm saying all of this to prove to you—if you have the desire and the gumption to stick with it—there is a good chance you’ll be published—providing you write a good story, one an editor can't refuse. Learn your craft, hone it until it shines. It’ll take work, and you'll want to give up, but perseverance is what it takes.

* * * * *

And you can read Joyce's post above.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Surrender -- Letting Go

Tonight at my women's home group, the topic we discussed was on surrender. There was a lot of good meat in the message and the conversation. Several women became vulnerable and honest and shared their true hearts with us. It was refreshing to know I'm not alone in making mistakes and trying to control certain aspects of my life so they go the way *I* want them to go.

How often do I ask God why nothing is happening? How often do I look at my circumstances and try to figure out how to turn them around myself? And all along God is trying to tell me something...

You're not letting go!

Ouch. Talk about hitting it where it hurts. And the "letting go" could be any number of things. Some of them you might not even think you're controlling. It could be career goals, hopes & dreams, daily schedules, entertainment choices, certain foods, children, finances, relationships, health, past hurts, unforgiveness, etc., etc., etc. But whatever it is, it needs to be surrendered and left at the foot of the cross. God is more than capable of handling our problems, and He wants to take our problems and turn them into blessings. But we have to be willing to Him have them so He *can* bless us.

Hard to take that first step, isn't it? Good news, though. Once you take that first step and surrender one thing, the next step and the next area comes much easier.

Here are some final thoughts:

- We live for eternity, not for the moment, so get the "big picture."
- When we surrender, we have peace, contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment.
- Be still and ask God for areas that need work, but don't feel condemned, because that's not God's style.
- Make a declaration of intent and write it down.
- Ask for help from prayer partners and friends. You can't do this alone.

And most importantly? Know that God is ready and waiting to accept your offering. The biggest blessings come when you let go.

Now, tomorrow, we have a special guest appearance. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Healed from "Not Good Enough"

I don't know about you, but I've spent most of my life trying to "live up" to the expectations I felt were placed upon me. It began at an early age with my mother always on my case, correcting me and redoing the tasks I'd been asked to do because they weren't done to her specifications. I still distinctly remember learning how to do laundry for the first time at 9 years old. Service is a gift, so I was always eager to help wherever needed.

Well, I washed and dried and folded everything and set the basket on Mom's bed. She came in, took one look at it, dumped it out and told me to do it again because it wasn't folded "right."

Now, 20 years later, I've been able to move beyond the resentment and feelings of inferiority that settled inside of me from those formative years. Thankfully, God freed me from believing I "wasn't good enough." He showed me through His Word in the Bible and through others in my life that those thoughts and doubts are all a lie. That I am loved, approved and accepted--by God. And that's all that matters, when it comes right down to it.

God's opinion of you never changes. Others will disappoint you. They'll say or do cruel and hurtful things to you. But you need to face those lies with the truth. You have been given the approval from the Creator of this world. And He will never let you down. You'll go through struggles and trials, and the enemy will try to convince you that you'll never "measure up," but if you take hold of the truth and realize *you* are the one allowing those doubts to take root inside, that you need to uproot them and replace them with the'll get much further in life.

Is it easy? Not at all. Is it rewarding? You bet! Try it. You'll never know the freedom that comes from it until you do.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stay Focused!

No matter what your goal is, the most important thing you can do is stay focused. Regardless of what happens, don't ever stop asking, "Is there a better way?" You can't pray for progress and fight change. President Andrew Jackson once wrote to Martin Van Buren (Governer or New York at the time) requesting that we continue using the canal system in the US vs. the new invention of the railroad. I wonder what Mr. Jackson would think today if he knew about the speed of trains or automobiles or the height and speed of planes.

Or how about palm pilots and notebook computers? Instant connection to anyone in the world through a wire. And so many other inventions that have happened in the last 30 years.

God is the author of all true progress. A better way probably always exists. It's our job to be open to new ideas and never doubt God's influence in the inspiration behind an invention. And whatever God has called you to it with all your heart.

Stay focused!