Sunday, April 29, 2007
This morning I finished book #43 of the year. My personal goal was to read an average of 10 books a month, for a grand total of 120. This would beat last year's total of 113. Since it's only the end of April, I've kept up with my goal. It's okay to be a bit ahead, because with traveling this summer I might not make the goal of 10 each month.
I have enjoyed the challenges I've joined that keep me focused, but I'm like a kid with a new toy when it comes to a new book. I start new books right away, but then I may not finish them. Isn't that sad? That's why I have about seven unfinished books laying around.
I have been reading mostly Christian fiction and some romances lately, because that's what I'm being sent for book reviewing. Not that I'm complaining, because I'm not. I like them. I also like general fiction, women's fiction, literary fiction (if it's not too deep) and essay collections. Sometimes a little chick lit is fun for a diversion as well. Even if I couldn't tell Prada from Payless.
I have amassed a collection (through Paperback Swap, of course!) of all four Cleo Coyle coffee house cozy mysteries (the fifth comes out this summer), but I haven't started them yet. I am not sure if I've ever read a cozy! I sorta know what one is, though.
I am also gathering some children's books for a Newbery Award challenge I've joined, and I am really looking forward to reading some of them aloud to my girls this summer. We'll be reading a LOT. It's going to be great!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I'm so proud to be a part of this endeavor!
We’ve just gotten word that WritersRemember.com has been voted as one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers!
Wow! We cannot thank you enough for voting for us, and believing in us! This is quite an honor!
We hope to continue serving and inspiring you– the writers– for many years to come!
P.S. In other news, Writers Remember now has an official blog for updates, markets, and more! Please bookmark us and subscribe to our RSS feed so that you’ll be privy to the latest news at Writers Remember! And check out our latest issue!
I think I'm whelmed with books. Perhaps not quite overwhelmed, but certainly whelmed. I need to get them organized.
I still remember the days of having five bookshelves, four were six-footers (I shared with my hubby and the kids and the videos, but still). Now, I have one.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I have truly enjoyed reading Lightning and Lace and now I want to go back and read the first two installments in the series! However, I must say that I did not feel at a loss to have begun with the third book. That's always a plus for me! Snaps for DiAnn!
And now, a Q&A for DiAnn Mills! (For her website, please click on the banner!)
How old were you when you began writing?
Actually I was in the second grade. I wrote poetry and stories. Then I remember filling up a Big Chief pad with my first book - a western. I don’t remember what happened in the story except the hero always rode off into the west at the end of each chapter. I imagine it resembled Wagon Train, since that was my favorite TV show at the time. My goodness, I hope some of your readers know that classic!
What is your most important aspect of writing?
Without a doubt, it is characterization. I’m a character-driven writer, and that means my goal is to write real “people” who react and respond to the events and happenings in their lives according to their traits. When you consider how long we have lived to develop our character, then you have an idea the formidable job a writer has in developing credible, colorful, and compelling characters. Characterization drives plot. Stop for a moment to consider your favorite books or movies. The plot may have intricate twists and turns, but it’s the characters who become unforgettable.
What part of the writing process is your favorite?
I don’t think I have a favorite because the process all builds to a finished project: a novel that inspires and entertains.
I’ve already stated how I feel about characterization.
Plotting is an extension of characterization.
The actual breakout of words on paper and seeing the story come to life thrills me.
Editing to make my novel the best.
Marketing and networking is an opportunity to promote the story God has given me and to make new friends.
What part of the writing process is your least favorite?
The scary part. When the book is released. I think of it like a mom who sends her precious child to the first day of school. She wants the child to behave and have everyone love him/her, but what if the child comes home with a note that says the child was naughty?
I hear you and other writers use the word “passion” when you speak about writing. What does that mean to you?
Passion in writing involves a number of aspects. At least it does for me. Passion for writing is like telling a pastor to preach his best sermon, a singer to sing his favorite song, a dancer to reenact the finest performance, or an artist to transfer a dream onto canvas. Many times a writer has this type of feeling or a passion for a topic or story idea. The writer can not, not write it.
Where did you get your inspiration for The Texas Legacy Series?
For years I had this idea about a lady outlaw who decides that she’s had enough and leaves the gang. Along the way, she finds the Lord, but the guilt and shame of her past plague her journey. That was Leather and Lace. In the writing of the first book, I realized the hero had a brother and sister. Each one had a story that begged to be told. Lanterns and Lace is about the younger brother, a doctor who adopts an infant from a dying prostitute. Lightning and Lace is about the sister who is forced to face life as a widow and runs head-on into a man who is attempting to live down a troubled past.
What tips can you give for new writers?
Establish a time and stick to it.
Read your genre and out of your genre.
Attend writing conferences
Be diligent to the craft.
What you learn, pass on to someone else
Be teachable – both mentally and spiritually
And here are some thoughts about Lightning and Lace:
When Characters become Friends
by DiAnn Mills
A mixture of emotions swept over me last week when my third and final book in the Texas Legacy Series stepped into the marketplace. I’ve grown to love these characters – everything about them. I love their stubborn moments, their victories, their defeats, the way they love, and even the way they hate. They fight for what they believe in, and God is always right. For the past two years, I’ve wakened to the sound of their voices ringing in my head and to their problems. I watched the women slip into their dresses and bonnets, and the men tug on their boots. Actually, the women sometimes wiggled into a pair of boots and pants too. I rode the gentle mares and the wild broncos and held my breath. I lifted my Winchester, tensed my body for the kickback and sent bullets flying into targets, some of which were human. I celebrated with them, and I cried with them. I cheered when they triumphed and wanted to shake them when they made poor decisions.
In short, my characters have become my friends, and it’s hard to let them go. Unfortunately, I experience this grieving period every time I finish a book or series. I feel abandoned and lost, since too often I’m thinking about them just after I say my prayers and before I drift off to sleep. Dare I say that I worry about my characters? Hope they are not quarreling with their spouses or their children? That life hasn’t given them another dose of bitter herbs?
This bizarre and sometimes eccentric habit of mine is not much different from the habits of many of my other writer friends. How else can a writer create a character unless he/she first understands their motivation? And while these characters are on a journey called life, I realize the many reasons why I enjoy them.
I also realize their problems and issues. The storms of life that beat against our doors today have been happening since time began.
I consider Leather and Lace. Casey O’Hare didn’t start out life wanting to be an outlaw. Quite the contrary, she had hopes and dreams like every little girl until life slapped her in the face, and she chose to survive in the only way she knew. Many women today have made poor choices when faced with the dredges of life. We all have. I wrote that book for those women.
Jenny in Lanterns and Lace desperately wanted someone to love her. Is that such a bad thing, since we were created with a deep desire to be loved? The problem is, where do we go for love? Jenny thought unconditional love was a myth until the great Lover showed her differently.
Bonnie abhorred the disease that ravaged her beloved husband and left her a widow in Lightning and Lace. But she is determined, and alcohol is not the answer. Substance abuse is not native to today’s world. Wherever there is pain and suffering, people will look for a way to manage their sorrow.
Oh my, I do hope my darlings will be fine. They will be back next fall in a Christmas Legacy book, and then that is truly the end.
So today, I’m creating new friends. Already I know they won’t behave in every instance, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m on my way to a new adventure. And, by the way, this is a contemporary.
Thanks so much, Diann!
Today is believed to be the birthday of William Shakespeare, (books by this author) born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England (1564) [note from Pattie: he was baptized on April 26, and because infants were baptized at three days old, he is believed to have been born on the 23rd of April. Plus, he died on April 23, and for a playwright who emphasized symmetry, it's more than fitting]. He left behind no personal papers whatsoever--no letters, no diaries, not even any manuscripts. For that reason, most of the details about his life are a mystery. What we do know is that he was born at a time when England was just beginning to calm down after decades of religious civil war between Catholics and Protestants. Historians can't be sure, but it is likely that Shakespeare himself grew up Catholic, even though it was technically illegal to be a practicing Catholic at the time. We know that his mother came from a Catholic family, and his father secretly signed a Roman Catholic "Spiritual Testament" and hid it in the rafters of his home.
So Shakespeare may have grown up with the idea that his family was secretly attached to an ancient but now forbidden religion. And there's some evidence that when he was about 16, after attending the public school in his town, he may have taken a job as a tutor for two wealthy Catholic families in Lancashire. If he did, then he would have met a famous Catholic dissident named Edmund Campion who was living in secret with those two families at that time, and who was eventually caught and executed.
If Shakespeare was working as a tutor in his late teens, he must have returned to his home town in 1582, because it was that year that he was forced into a marriage with a woman he'd gotten pregnant: Anne Hathaway. It was apparently not a happy marriage. In 1587, Shakespeare left his family in Stratford and went to live in London by himself, where he began his life as an actor and playwright.
As a playwright, Shakespeare first made his name as a writer of comedies. His most successful early plays were The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, and within a few years, he was among the most popular writers in England. His plays generally attracted an audience of about 3,000 people, at a time when London had a population of about 200,000. So whenever one of Shakespeare's plays was performed, one out of every 65 people in the city was in the audience.
His early popularity made him a lot of enemies. The very first person ever to write about Shakespeare was the poet Robert Greene, who accused Shakespeare of plagiarism, calling him, "An upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers." And in fact most of Shakespeare's plays were not original, but based on historical events or old stories. What made them great was his extraordinary ability with language. He used one of the largest vocabularies of any English writer, almost 30,000 words.
But despite his success, he continued to live in a series of small rented rooms around London, a two-day journey from his family's home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Then, in 1596, Shakespeare learned that his son, Hamnet, died. And even though he hadn't spent much time with the boy, the event apparently had a huge effect on him. It was not long after that news that Shakespeare began writing his first great revenge tragedy, Hamlet, which was first brought to the stage around 1600. Scholars believe that Shakespeare chose to play the role of the ghost.
He went on to produce a series of tragedies in the next several years that are generally considered his greatest work, including Othello (1604), King Lear (1605), and Macbeth (1605). He planned to retire in 1611, after writing his play The Tempest (1611). But he came out of retirement to write at least one more play: Henry VIII (1613).
Come join the Carnival of Christian Writers today!
This is a new thing for me, since I have only been a part of the Writer...Interrupted blog ring for a little while. It's exciting, though! There are so many Christian fiction writers who are breaking out of the box that the publishing world placed them into.
Coming soon: blog tour post with Di Ann Mills!
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Today I had an instance of serendipity. On my front lawn. And I'm not sure if I came off looking better or worse!
Today we had SUPERB weather for North Dakota. It hit 64* today! EVERYONE was out walking or biking or motorcycling, or just out for a drive with the windows down. My next-door neighbor, who moved in during the winter, started a walk, saw me sitting in a chair on my front lawn (keeping an eye on the kids playing across the street), and came over. She looked familiar, but I couldn't place her face. She introduced herself just as a car drove by, and I asked her to repeat her name, and then I said (in my best "ooh I'm such a fan" voice), "oh! You're the former editor of the women's magazine in town!" She laughed and said yes. I then told her how the current editor rejected my article query, and I launched into this whole thing. She graciously gave me an idea of someone to contact about it.
I just hope I didn't come across as stalker-ish as it seems as I retell this story!
2007, Howard Fiction
Maggie Anderson is on her way back to deliver her boyfriend his liquor, when she is carjacked and left stranded on the side of the road outside New York City. Knowing that this may be her only chance to escape Kevin’s tyrannical rule over her life, she makes the most of her opportunity by depending upon the kindness of strangers. Eventually, Maggie finds herself in the rural town of Clayburn, Kansas.
Trevor Ashlock, publisher of the Clayburn Courier, is trying to make it from day to day. It’s been two years since the tragic accident that claimed his family, but he keeps busy with the paper and working on the Wren’s Nest Bed and Breakfast remodeling project.
When Trevor meets Maggie, he feels as if he is coming back to life. And Maggie as “Meg” begins to feel safe, even though she is trapped in a web of lies she has spun about her past, having always to remember not to reveal too much so that Kevin will never find her.
I really enjoyed the way Deborah Raney told the stories of Maggie and Trevor. Their stories are not uncommon, yet they are fresh and new.
I found myself alternating between wanting to shake Maggie and wanting to hug her and be her friend. Thankfully, she finds a great friend in Wren, another lovable and huggable character.
The people of the town of Clayburn are sweet and kind, which I found refreshing. (No gossip or backbiting here!) No one preaches at Maggie. Rather, they show her the love of God through their love and actions toward her. I like that. I believe this sets a good example for those of us who belong to Christ.
Remember to Forget deals with some unpleasant topics, to be sure, yet Raney somehow writes them in a kind and gentle way. The characters are sympathetic, and that appeals to me as much as the story.
I would recommend this book to fans of Christian fiction and sweet stories that are not saccharine. I look forward to reading more of Raney’s novels in the future.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I have an enabler and her name is Dana. She joined some more challenges and one of them caught my eye.
The Non-Fiction Five! Five nonfiction books to read from May through September!
(I can SO do that! One per month!)
Here are my nonfiction books for this challenge:
Generation NeXt Parenting by Tricia Goyer - it's been in the TBR pile for awhile now.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass - this one is on the way from Amazon.com right now.
Take Flight: Sisterchicks in the Word by Robin Jones Gunn & Cindy Hannan
My Heart's in the Lowlands by Liz Curtis Higgs (a bonus book for the 2007 TBR challenge as well as a Spring Reading Thing book)
The Renegade Writer by Linda Formicelli
I have two writing books, one Bible study/devotional, one parenting book, and one travel memoir.
BONUS: BONUS: Just picked up Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. I also want to reread Bird by Bird, also by Lamott. She's just so great to read!
I have six TBR review books to finish between now and the end of the month. I also keep getting wish list books from Paperback Swap. I was also going to check the clearance shelf at the Christian bookstore last night, but I ended up chatting with another Dance Mom instead.
So many books, so little time...
Friday, April 06, 2007
Here are six from the TBR stack, to be finished by the end of June:
The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer (I'm reading this with an online group.) IN PROCESS
Get Out of that Pit! by Beth Moore IN PROCESS
My Heart's in the Lowlands by Liz Curtis Higgs
These are different from the 2007 TBR Challenge I also belong to. After all, what's a challenge if it's not challenging? :-)
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Sometimes we choose a book because of its cover, or perhaps because we want to be entertained. It's rare when a fiction book has the capacity and the potential to change lives. Lisa Samson's Quaker Summer does exactly that.
Heather Curridge is Everywoman. Everywoman in an upper-middle-class sort of way, that is. She’s got it all, yet she feels discontented and unhappy. Outrageous spending sprees don’t help. Volunteering at her son’s school only stresses her out more. Planning a tennis court in their backyard doesn’t help. She can’t even find a church she likes. Heather feels as though her entire life is in turmoil. Everything is changing all around her and she hardly even knows her own mind.
That is, until the night she and her doctor husband get lost in an unsavory part of town. There they meet Sister Jerusha of the Hotel, a homeless shelter. Heather finds herself inexplicably drawn to the people there.
If that’s not enough to rock Heather’s precariously-balanced world, a car accident brings her to the door of Liza and Anna, two older Quaker sisters who care for her in their home as she recovers from her injuries.
Throughout the rest of the summer, Heather undergoes a transformation of the mind, the spirit, and the “stuff.” She gains clarity and strengthened faith through the relationships she nurtures. Her marriage is nearly in proportion to the amount of money she isn’t spending and the stuff she is getting rid of. She gets to know her son and his heart for ministry.
I identified strongly with the yearnings of Heather’s heart. Who wouldn’t love a woman who says, “I’m living in a puzzle”? She is frustratingly, endearingly human. In a sense, she is me (the wanting to change part, not the rich and spendy part). Striking a balance between her old and new self, her current life and friends—it’s a very real struggle I believe all women face. There’s got to be more to life than this. The good news is, there IS more.
Lisa Samson takes us along on Heather’s wild journey. In doing so, she encourages us to pursue our own faith walk and find our own balance of life, the Gospel, Christ, serving others, and cake.
With several older and wiser peripheral characters, we have the privilege of witnessing Heather's transformation and embracing of the "ministry of presence," and it is good. It is very good.