Sunday, September 30, 2007

Writer Mama September 30

Christina at the Writer Mama has (pardon the pun) the Mama of all Prizes to conclude her month of giveaways.

So far the number generator has hated me; perhaps today will be my lucky day!

The question:

Who do you want to thank for the writing career/journey success that you’ve experienced thus far? This can be family, friends, pets, mentors–anyone who’s made a difference. Go ahead and thank them here. An attitude of gratitude magnetizes success, in my experience. (My list is about a mile long at this point, so mind the word-count.)

The answer:

I would like to thank my best friends Roma and Valerie, who think I am the best writer ever! They love me and support whatever I do. I’d also like to thank my family, without whom I would not have good writing material. Other people I’d like to thank: my few but faithful blog fans, my Shepherd girls at the Women at Home Ministry, Taffy Cannon at Long Ridge for encouraging me in my nonfiction pursuits, and author Meredith Efken, for introducing me to American Christian Fiction Writers.

Thanks, Christina, for the chance to enter your contest so often. I've appreciated your prompts and all the prizes are wonderful. I forgive your number generator for choosing some people more than once. I know it's not your fault ;-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baby Steps

I applied to be in a critique group through ACFW.

Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.

Edited to add: I was accepted and placed in a group! The rubber will meet the road soon, to borrow yet another cliche...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Do not throw away your confidence

I thought I should redirect you to Beth Moore's Living Proof blog for today.

It had my answers.

I need a plan

I need a plan. A writing plan. To get a novel written to submit to the ACFW Genesis contest. Or to at least have a paid critique before next September 2008's ACFW writing conference.

To that end, I might still join National Novel Writing Month, but I'm not sure. It is a good goal, 50,000 words, but I've failed 3 times in the past. I'm horrible with failure.

Maybe I'm only meant to be a reader, not a writer.

Writer Mama September 26

The Writer Mama Question of the Day:

Have you ever had a short story published? How about a novel? Please describe how it feels for you when you write fiction. If you wanted to write more (or any) how would you create enough time and mental space in your already busy life to finish a polished manuscript?

My answer:

No, I have never had any of my fiction published. In fact, I've been going through a crisis of belief, if you will, that I'm even meant to write fiction. I was a part of a writer's group of mostly older folks a couple of years ago, and the one compliment I consistently had in my fiction was that I had a good grasp of dialogue.

I'd love to write more, and I'm hoping that I can learn how to carve writing time out of my busy days, and have mental space to create the stories that are running around in my head.

Monday, September 24, 2007

CCW 12

That means it's time for installment #12 in the Carnival of Christian Writers!

Click HERE to see what's going on in the world of Christian writing!

ACFW 2008

American Christian Fiction Writers conference in September 2008 will be in Bloomington, Minnesota, the home of the Mall of America.

I am very excited because this increases my chances exponentially of being able to go, because the Twin Cities are within driving distance of me, and I have family there!!!

Lisa Tawn Bergren Blog Tour

Welcome to the Lisa Tawn Bergren Blog Tour for THE BEGOTTEN and THE BETRAYED.

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the author of 28 books, with over 1.3 million sold. She is a publishing consultant, writer, Bible study leader, mother and wife. Her hobbies include travel (mostly from an armchair), reading, watching movies, cooking and exploring with her family. Lisa's most recent books include The Begotten, The Betrayed, God Gave Us Heaven, What Women Want and The Busy Mom's Devotional. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To sign up for her monthly email (which includes a new, unpublished devotional) go to and join her newsletter list.

My sister-in-law LOVES Lisa's early books, and I remember enjoying them as well. She has been writing excellent Christian fiction for many years; in fact, she is one of the first authors I remember reading from Multnomah's fiction line (along with Robin Jones Gunn, one of my very faves!).

These two books which are currently on the Bookmarked shelf at your local Target (and mine! I've seen them!) are titled The Begotten and The Betrayed. I am fascinated with The Begotten, which I have started but haven't finished in time for the tour my own reviews will be forthcoming.

I'd also like to point out that each of the books has a reader's guide which makes it an excellent choice for book clubs.

Here is what Lisa has to say about her new series, The Gifted (book 3, The Blessed, is due out next year).

I came up with the series concept after reading The Da Vinci Code, and thinking long and hard about the things I both loved (pacing, mystery, suspense) and hated (heresy that made me want to throw it against a wall). I also was heavily influenced by the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film—the grandeur of an epic story, with a cast of characters, deeper symbolism, adventure. So I started talking to my friends who know Scripture, and I asked them about a good biblical mystery…two mentioned the “previous letters” mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians and I was off and running.

Considering that Paul talks a lot about spiritual gifts in his letters to the Corinthians, I gave my characters all the unique and powerful spiritual gifts he mentioned in the Scriptures—healing, prophecy, wisdom, faith, miraculous powers—and placed them in perilous times, the 14th century, pre-Reformation, pre-Renaissance. My Gifted are hunted both by the Church, who seeks to control them, and forces of evil, who wish to kill them. All in all, I think it makes for a classic Good vs. Evil read—with inspiration and application for us in the 21st century.

Thanks, Lisa! I'm excited to be able to help you promote your books. I think I'll close now and get back to my reading!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wouldn't it just make all that housework more fun?!

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a pink Dyson vacuum AND Dyson is donating to breast cancer research. What a deal! So, hop on over there and register for the giveaway! Who knows? It could be YOUR husband vacuuming with the pretty pink vacuum before the relatives come to your house for Thanksgiving.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Writer Mama September 18

The Writer Mama, Christina Katz, is giving away another book today. She so rocks! If you 'd like to know more about it, please visit her site today.

Today's question:

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Is it the early stages–the idea stages? Is it the very early draft stages? Is it the rewriting, whether expanding or tightening? Or is it the finishing touches of formatting and proofreading and trying to make sure your writing is spot on? Or do you format early and let someone else catch your mistakes? As always, there are no “right” answers. Just your unique points of view.

My answer:

I enjoy the idea and drafting stages with my own writing, but the tightening and proofreading of someone else’s writing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not a writer, but an editor, at heart. This may stem from years of teaching writing and helping my students perfect their own work, while my own sat in unfinished bits on my computer hard drive or in notebooks on my shelf. At any rate, I believe this book would help me with all the unanswered questions about what the finished product should look like before it leaves my house, and maybe that will spur me on to finish all the unfinished articles and books that are sitting dormant within the bounds of my computer!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Meeting of Anni Adams, the Butterfly of Luxembourg

The Butterfly of Luxembourg
Story Recounts Metamorphosis of Survival
to finding American Dream

(Holly Hill, FL) Imagine living a life of security and comfort while traveling throughout central Europe with a famous professional gymnast--who just happens to be your father--with just one twist. You were born in 1926, and at the age of fourteen your entire world changes because of the Nazi invasion. Anni Adams survives the poverty, humiliation and uncertainty of the refugee camps and eventually returns to her home, where life is not the same. She quietly resists the submissive lifestyle of the Nazi rule for four years. Here she becomes a Catholic war bride to her American GI husband, following the liberation of her country.

The Meeting of Anni Adams: The Butterfly of Luxembourg
shows how family and faith fuel Anni's survival through her evacuation into France and the years of German occupation of Luxembourg when she and her family are placed in labor camps and government prisons. Anni goes on to live a remarkable life in the United States, where she displays an uncanny ability to meet people of renown in the most unlikely circumstances. Anni's story is only one of countless others from this time period; she personifies the guts, grit, fortitude, faith and hope of that era. These virtues in the face of adversity create a beautiful butterfly. Each breathtaking "stain glass" pane of the butterfly's wings is yet another story of how Anni overcomes tremendous odds--the truest form of the American Dream come true.

Amazon's #1 Reviewer, Harriet Klausner, gives The Meeting of Anni Adams a FIVE STAR review. From Harriet's review:

This fascinating biography enables the reader to see how a teen survived WWII Nazi occupation. Anni does so by mentally going in and out of her cocoon made up of loving family depending on circumstances. She as "the butterfly of Luxembourg" gives the audience a deep insight into life under the German occupation. The American segment of her journey is also well written and rounds out the bio, but like the early years pales next to the four years under the Nazis. THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS : THE BUTTERFLY OF LUXEMBOURG is a deep look at how people survive the most harrowing nightmarish experiences caused by inhuman humans.

Author Lonnie D. Story's recounting of this part of Luxembourg's WWII history has been recognized by the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the United Nations, H. E. Jean Marc Hoscheit, the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the U.S., and H.E. Joseph Weyland. In fact, Story's work was lauded by the Luxembourg General Consul, Georges Faber, as a "magnificent, historically correct accounting of the hardships suffered" during the time period of his country's occupation and suppression.

Story is a freelance writer residing in Holly Hill, Florida. He is currently working on his second book, Without A Shot Fired: The Dustin Brim Story, a true story about a U.S. soldier deployed to Iraq in full health who returns to discover he has aggressive, terminal cancer.


Interview Questions:

Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?
The idea originally came from a business venture (idea.) I wanted to fill an niche market that no one appeared to be addressing and a need that left a large, untapped void. I thought I would write biographies for a living by limiting just to family members and that kind of thing. A biography of a person just for private use and not publishing. It appeared to be a chance encounter, but, I am fully persuaded that there is no such thing as coincidence. I met Anni in a flower shop in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where she worked part-time. She had wonderful stories to tell about her life and I found it so intriguing that I volunteered to write her biography for free as sort of a "guinea pig." The more we met and conversed the more convinced I was that she had all the potential, material and stories that would make a great book and then some! Thus we began the long, arduous, unseen adventure to "bookland."

How do you as a writer put together a book like this? Did you outline first or did you write down anecdotes and stories and then organize them into book format, or ???
I started with an outline but as time progressed and more stories came forth, the outline changed and metamorphed into the final working outline and finished product. Actually, I would write about one chapter a week, sometimes I would go weeks without writing anything. Once I had the "feeling" to write it was irresistible and I would write the entire chapter in one sitting, usually taking long hours into the wee hours of the morning such as 4 or 5 a.m. having started around 6 p.m, the evening before. I took a shotgun approach and only wrote what, where and when the feeling for a particular chapter manifested itself.

What sort of research was involved in writing this book?
There are no adjective or, at least, not enough here for proper English to express the intense, horrid, voluminous, meticulous, time-consuming research required for this work. I had to cover very minute details and print tons of pictures, maps and such and then screen it through Anni to get the story exactly right, factually, historically and evidentially.

How long did you take to write this?
I worked 12-16 hours a day (mostly 14-16 hours), 7 days a week for 7 1/2 months. I put aside all holidays, family gatherings, social invitations/engagements, etc. I stayed locked away in my one little bedroom at my sister's house only coming out to go to the store for supplies (food, water, etc.) and back to my "cave."

If your book is turned into a movie, which actress should play Anni?
Anni at 14-18: AnnaSophia Robb Anni middle years: Laura Linney Elder Anni: Glenn Close

What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?
Never give up. Never quite, persevere, push, press and pray. I mean pray HARD!! Don't let go of God and don't stop nagging Him, pleading with Him, praising Him, thanking Him and wrestle with Him to the desire for death rather than giving up. Beside that, learn lessons the first as often as able, stay positive, hopeful, faithful and enjoy the shortness of life, each moment. Savor friends, family and life experiences no matter how good or bad. Faith, hope and love.

How did you become a writer?
Somehow it was there all along. I started reading and writing at age 4. By the time I started school, I was well ahead of my classmates. However, being ahead of the classmates caused me to be less "covered" by the teachers. The teachers rationed their time, typically, to the other students that needed more help. Because of this, I was less attentive in class and my mind wandered a lot into fantasies, visions and mental adventures. If I had the chance, I would write some of these things down or draw pictures of them.

Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?
If you can call 4 1/2 years "lately", then I would say PATIENCE! Other than that, I have had a supernatural development in my faith levels. I have always dreamed big, reached big and even failed big. But the God I serve is a big God. Bigger than my hopes, dreams and wishes, so the big answer more than anything else?? TRUST!!! Not in people, only God. Put confidence in people but never trust them, love them but don't rely on them. These are treasures for God only.

Please share a little about your family, your church and community involvement.
During the writing of the book I spent most of my time alone. I did take time out to call family or go to Anni's (which was usually 3 times a week), but mostly stayed sequestered. After the manuscript was finished I spent some time catching up but it was a very difficult thing. At the time both my brother and sister were terminally ill. I was the youngest of the three, the "baby", but also the one everyone turned to for help, advice and high expectations. My only community involvement was after the book and these were all events to bring awareness to Anni and the book. I donated hundreds of books to veterans for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, radio stations and churches, church organizations, etc. Because of what I had been through the year before starting the book, I took a long sabbatical from church. In place of this, I devoted many, many hours in prayer, deep, very deep study of the Bible and listened to Charles Stanley for hours on end each day over the Internet. At that time, his website had four years of cataloged sermons and I listened to all four years worth!! And many times each new message for the day, I would listen to 4-7 times in an afternoon or evening! Thank God for Charles Stanley!

Lonnie, tell us about your radio program--what does it consist of, and what format does it follow?What book are you reading now?
My radio program came about mostly out of frustration, hope and prayer. I missed being on the air (before my life's disaster, I had a Christian program for approx. 5 years), I felt it was a good venue to move forward and push harder the message on both my books. The program is called (of all things LOL) "Lessons Learned." I wanted it to be a talk news show. Very interactive with the listening audience. Taking our life experiences, historical events and history in general, teachings from much older generations and look at what we think the near future holds and try to turn it into applicable, valuable news for today. As for books, only one: My Bible. (I do have a stack I wish I could get to, I am dying to have some time to read but that is a dream and a wish. I won't let myself "taste" that reward until my mission with this book and the next is satisfied and successfully launched into readerland. When the income makes me debt free and time rich.)


My review is forthcoming. Thanks and God bless!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sixpence House

This is part of the Something About Me Reading Challenge.

In Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books, author Paul Collins details his experiences in the Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye, population 1500, the "Town of Books" that boasted 40 bookstores. Collins and his author/artist wife and their young son moved to Hay from San Francisco, and fascinating is their journey and experience in this small town. Collins peppers his account with passages from obscure and often out-of-print books. He also describes the town, the houses he and his wife consider purchasing, quite a bit about British culture, and, of course, the town's most fascinating characters.

It is quite a fascinating read.

My favorite quotation is found on page 4, attributed to Temple Bar magazine:

We may, in fact, divide our fellow-creatures into two branches--those who read books and those who do not.

I chose this book because it was one on my friend Natalie's list. Nattie chose this book as one that described a part of who she was: a book-lover. In this mutual love of volumes of the printed word, she and I found each other to be, truly, kindred spirits. We were often emailing each other about books, and trading bookerly comments on each others' blogs. She and I used to trade pictures of what we affectionately referred to as "Mt. TBR" (and in fact, she introduced me to that particular phrase). Just for the record: She won. Her cute little hobbit apartment was stacked with volumes and volumes. It made my own leaning tower of TBRs seem puny by comparison!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book to Movie #2: Shopgirl

Shopgirl is a novella by Steve Martin, and also a movie written and produced by Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin!

Why Shopgirl? Well, I've read some of Steve Martin's nonfiction, and I have wanted to read his foray into fiction for a long time. Just never got around to it, I guess.

The book is short at 130 pages, and it reads quickly as most novellas do. The story is simple: Mirabelle (the shopgirl of the title) works at the glove counter at Neiman Marcus, a seldom-frequented section of the store next to couture. She lives her quiet, dare I say mundane life, until a few things happen: she meets Jeremy at the laundromat, and she meets Ray at work. The story is how these two very different men interact with Mirabelle, and how all three characters change.

The story is written in present tense, which adds a sense of immediacy (it could be happening right now). I couldn't help but hear Steve Martin's voice in my head as I read (even though I read before I saw the movie, in which he is also the narrator).

I must caution that the book is rated R, as is the movie (although the movie is much tamer than the book language-wise). The book is rife with raw, almost vulgar, sexual language. It's almost jarring when suddenly there is a comment about f---ing just thrown in. The language just seems out of place in this story.

The movie:
I finished the book just before watching the movie, and the two are very close (as one might suspect when the same man is the author of both). Claire Danes plays Mirabelle, and she's much more beautiful than I pictured Mirabelle to be from the book. Jason Schwartzman plays Jeremy, and he is a good choice for the role. I laughed out loud at how awful his character was in the beginning; I think he was worse in the movie than the book, at first! Steve Martin is the perfect Ray, of course, and he adds a vulnerability to the character that isn't as evident in the book.

I liked the movie better than the book, because the crass language isn't there to jar my sense of story. It has an almost fairy tale quality to it, and the vulgar sexuality is turned into a sensuality on screen that seems much more consistent with the story's tone, and with the whole older man-younger woman relationship.

As an aside: Blockbuster has this in the drama, not comedy, section, in case you want to rent it.

PS: I have two copies of the novella available on my Paperback Swap account, if you're interested.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wild Rose by Ruth Axtell Morren

Wild Rose by Ruth Axtell Morren

Historical Inspirational Romance

Wild Rose is a love story between a poor young woman and a former sea captain. Geneva lives on the edge of the town of Haven’s End, dresses in men’s clothing, and works hard to support herself by fishing and selling garden vegetables. Captain Caleb Phelps has been wrongfully accused of a serious offense in his hometown of Boston, so he moves to Haven’s End to begin a new life.

The two forge a friendship based on gardening advice and reading lessons – and eventually they grow closer together. However, will her past and his prevent them from having a future together?

One of the strengths of this book is the strong sense of place that permeates its pages. Through the lovely descriptions and dialogue of the locals, the reader really gets a feel for this quaint seaside village in Maine. Another strength of the novel is the characterization. None of the characters seem unrealistic; rather, they are just like people in real life: multifaceted and complex, and thoroughly engaging. Geneva was particularly wonderful. I felt so sad for her; her feeling on the outskirts of society, her abandonment issues, all of these are universal feelings. I longed to see her come into her own and be comfortable in her own skin.

The spiritual aspects of the novel are well-done, also. Sometimes in inspirational fiction, the reader feels hit over the head with the message of salvation. Not so here. I particularly liked the characters of the minister and his wife. Loving and kind, nonjudgmental, and engaging.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I was, I was hooked.

Wild Rose was a Booklist Top Ten Christian Novel for 2005.

Author’s website:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Writer Mama September 11

Once again, a contest piece for the great Writer Mama giveaway:

Who are your top three writing role models? They can be living or dead. Known or unknown. Personal acquaintances or folks you honor from afar. Tell us who they are and why they inspire you.

1. Nicole Johnson. Her book Fresh-Brewed Life truly inspired me in many ways. I was inspired to keep a journal, and that in turn inspired me to be a writer in more than just name only.

2. Madeleine L'Engle. She wrote the stories she wanted to write, and she did not give up. Her book on the artistry of writing is truly inspiring. The world is a sadder place without her in it, but I'm sure heaven is awash with her stories now.

3. Susan Meissner. She's a busy minister's wife and mom of four kids, and yet she finds time to write novel after novel. Her stories are full and rich, the thought-provoking kind, the kind that stay with you in your mind for days and days.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Writer Mama September 8

Once again, a Writer Mama contest piece.

Are you a “practicing writer”? What does the description mean to you?

Absolutely yes, I am a practicing writer. I especially love essays, if only because of the fact that the French verb “essayer” means, in essence, “to try.” I am trying. I am practicing. I am doing. I may fail horribly, but if I don’t try, I’ll never succeed. In fact, I’d waste my life wondering if I could have, rather than knowing that I have “essayed.”

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Writer Mama September 6

Once again, linking to the Writer Mama blog and her back-to-school giveaway!

Today's question:

Go straight to your most discouraging (or discouraged) moment as a writer. Can you describe, not just the situation but also the feeling that went along with it? And then, in the next breath, can you go straight to your most encouraging (or encouraged) moment as a writer and describe the situation and the feeling that went along with it?

My answer:

My most discouraging moment was when my on-spec article for a popular Christian women’s magazine was rejected, with absolutely no explanation as to why. Was it the writing? The subject matter? The length? Me? I had no idea, but I took it completely personally and to this day have not rewritten nor resubmitted this article for publication, even though the story needs to be told. I felt sad, horrible, awful, and small when I read that rejection letter.

My most encouraging moment was when I *was* published. A short piece I dashed off in a fit of creativity was published in a now-defunct Writers Digest specialty magazine. I was even paid $25 for it! I was thrilled from the top of my head to the tips of my toes to see my name in print. I felt like I could do anything!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Writer Mama Giveaway September 5

Writer Mama's question for today:

Today’s question: Divide your life story into periods as suggested in today’s book. What titles for those periods could serve as “working titles” for you? Feel free to share a bit about what your title means…or not. It’s totally up to you.
Birth to age 8 - The California Years
Age 8-10 - The Iowa Years, or How we Survived Living Among the Cornfields
Age 11-17 - The St. Louis County Years, or The Longest Stretch of Time I've Lived in One Place
Age 18-21 - The College Years: Making Lifelong Friends, Reading, Dating, Growing Spiritually
Age 21.5 - Marriage to my Best Man Friend!
Age 22-23 - The Seminary Years, or How I Typed All of Hubby's Master's Papers on an Apple IIc
The Pastor's Wife Years:
Age 24-26 - The Rural Grad School Years, or How We Lived in a Town of 95 while Finishing Our Master's Degrees
Age 27-37 - Childbirth, the toddler/preschool/grade school years
Subsets: Learning to Deal with Other Mommies, Raising Children when your Husband is the Pastor, and Playdates: Good or bad?
The Air Force Years:
Age 36- present - Moving Where the USAF Wants Us to Be, and How to Deal with Deployment Periods when Your Husband is in a Hostile Foreign Country and Your Kids Want Daddy.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Writer Mama Giveaway September 3

Today's question for the Writer Mama giveaway:

What’s your biggest block or fear about editors when it comes to submitting your writing for consideration? (And if you don’t have blocks or fears about editors any longer…how did you rise above them?) Inquiring minds want to know.

I have the fear of rejection. I have been brave enough to write the article of my heart, and my first real query was accepted on spec. I sent my article, and it was rejected. It hurt so badly to have it rejected, because I thought this was IT. THE article I felt would be MY niche. MY story. ME. The rejection felt like a slam against not only my writing, but the experience about which I'd written. It hurt. That article languishes away on my hard drive, even now.