Friday, July 1, 2011

Short Story Published!

I am so excited! (I guess that's obvious with the exclamation points.) I have another short story published in Christian Fiction Online Magazine this month. It is titled "Love Learned". I am so blessed to be a part of this awesome publication. The link is directly to my story, but browse the rest of the magazine while you are there.

If you missed my short story last month, "A Dying Dream" is still viewable. After reading either one or both, please stop back here and leave me your comments. Be sure to scroll down the page here and become a follower. You will receive an email whenever I post something new on my blog.

Thank you to all those who have been a tremendous encouragement to me as I travel this road. Continue to pray for me as I edit my original version of The Road to Nowhere. My goal is to send it to the agent by the end of next week.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Writing is A Learning Game

In January, I finished writing The Road to Nowhere. In February, I started sending queries to agents. I received the usual "no thank you" from most of them but I continued sending to more agents. I queried one agent who replied about a week later. She asked to see the first 50 pages of the book. I was ecstatic! It was the first time an agent asked to see more. 

I hadn't been idle during those weeks of querying. I worked with a critique group who encouraged me to make major changes in my work. Believing they know more about writing and publishing than I do (which they do by the way), I started hacking at my book. With every change, I felt as if I wasn't staying true to my characters. It changed who they are. I continued editing and changing, believing I just needed to keep at it. When the agent asked to see those 50 pages, I sent her the revised version. Although I was confident in my writing ability (at least as confident as any writer can be), I was not comfortable with the direction the revision took the story. But I prayed God would bless and tried not to stress about it.

After two and a half months of not hearing from her, I took the advice of several others in the business and sent a short email. To my great please, she replied in a few days. Here is her email:

Thank you so much for allowing me to consider THE ROAD TO NOWHERE. There’s no question to me that you have a talent for writing vivid action and strong dialogue, and these both kept the plot moving forward. For me, however, the change in point of view from Aileen to Curtis Ralston for the first few chapters didn’t intrigue me as much as your first version — I wasn’t as invested in Curtis as I had been in Aileen — and the new direction described in the plot synopsis didn’t hook me the way I hoped it would. Although I regret to say that this particular project isn’t a match for me, I’d welcome the opportunities to review future queries that you may have, as I’m always looking for writers like you who are serious about the business.

All the best luck as you continue your search for enthusiastic representation on this project!
I cried tears of frustration. I've spent months rewriting and editing only to discover an agent who liked the original version better. The truth is, so do I! I waited a few hours to get my thoughts together and decided to chance a reply email. I shared my revision journey with her, asking if she would consider reading my original version. I prayed. I waited. I prayed some more. 

The next more I received a VERY encouraging email. She understood and would like to see the original. But she went a step further. She is willing to wait to see it to give me the time to get it back to its original storyline. In other words, she believes in me as a writer. I cried again, this time for joy. An agent believes in me. She likes my work and believes I am worth the wait.

I have learned a valuable lesson. I need to learn and grow and stretch my ability as a writer. But I need to trust myself and my instincts. I can't change my work to please everyone because I end up pleasing no one. God has given me a story. He's given me an ability. I want to honor Him with my writing. In order to do that, I need to trust that what He's given me is enough. A lesson we could apply to every area of our lives.

What lesson has God taught you recently? How has He shown you that you need to trust Him and the instincts He's given you?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Randy Alcorn's Managing God's Money - Financial Advice From the Bible

From Tyndale:
        God cares a great deal more about our money than most of us imagine. The sheer enormity of Scripture’s teaching on this subject screams for our attention. In fact, Jesus says more about how we are to view and handle money and possessions than about any other topic—including both heaven and hell. In Managing God's Money, Randy Alcorn breaks down exactly what the Bible has to say about how we are to handle our money and posessions in a simple, easy-to-follow format. Filled with Scripture references, Managing God's Money is the perfect reference tool for anyone who is interested in gaining a solid biblical understanding of money, possessions, and eternity.

My Review:

Want to know how to view your money from God’s vantage point? Read Managing God’s Money. This isn’t a book about what investments to make or how to squirrel away money. Rather it is teaching how to look at the finances God has given to each person in light of eternity. Randy points out that every Christian at the end of his life is going to give an account to God as to how he used the funds with which God entrusted him.

Randy begins with pointing out that god expects His children to be faithful in the management of however much they have – whether it be millions of dollars or just dollars. The way a person handles dollars dictates the way he will handle millions of dollars. He continues by pointing out that God owns everything anyway; we are but caretakers of those possessions. God expects us to take care of His belongings but not grow so attached to them that they become too important to us.

Randy breaks down each chapter into subsections by stating a question. Chapter 4 titled “Money Is Bad: A False Spirituality” is covered with the following questions: Does the Bible say money is evil? Is it possible to both follow God and make money? Is it right for Christians to have material possessions and enjoy them? Answers to these questions and many more like them help the Christian to get an adjusted view of money.

Randy Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to starting EPM, he served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has spoken around the world and taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah University and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Randy is the best-selling author of over 40 books. His seven fiction books include the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home.  His nonfiction works include The Treasure Principle; Heaven; and If God is Good. Randy has written for many magazines and has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs.

The father of two married daughters, Randy lives in Oregon, with his wife and best friend, Nanci. They are the proud grandparents of four grandsons. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research and reading.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for this review. The exchange does not require me to write a positive review.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BOOK TOUR Branded by Tim Sinclair

About Branded:
The church spends $1.5 million for every one new follower of Jesus. Apple sells 26 iPads every minute. What is it that makes Apple so exciting and Jesus so boring? What is it that compels someone to bring their iPod everywhere and their Bible nowhere? In a word: marketing. Jesus is a life-changing product with lousy salespeople-people who are intimidated and embarrassed by the word "evangelism" and who show more enthusiasm for their gadgets than their God.

What would life look like if we stopped mass-marketing Jesus and started marketing our faith like Nike and Apple market their products--sharing relationally, from person to person? Using examples from these and other successful companies, author Tim Sinclair challenges Christians to throw out their casual attitudes toward faith and sign on for a marketing campaign for the Savior.

Written with the wit and wisdom of an experienced marketer, Branded peels away the feelings of fear and encourages readers how to share their faith in ways that are honest, authentic, and, most importantly, effective. 

My Review:
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical as I started reading this book. In one of the first couple of chapters, Tim sites a "discussion" he has with his wife over the terminology of "branded" and "marketing." I have to say I side with his wife. But after he continues to explain his standpoint, I agree with what he is saying. Too many Christians want to put up signs declaring their faith, but never back up the claim with a life lived for God. 

The author doesn't give a pat-answer solution to the problem. He makes many statements to help the Christian make a decision about he/she will live life. It isn't a book to read lightly or quickly, unless the reader has no plans to make changes in how life is lived.

About the Tim Sinclair:
Tim Sinclair is a radio personality on one of the top Christian morning shows in the country, Mornings with Tim and Pam. For over a decade, he has been helping radio stations and various other businesses creatively and effectively market themselves. His award-winning productions have been heard on more than 2,000 radio stations worldwide and recent clients include McDonald's, Word Records, Moody Press, and the country's most-listened to Christian nonprofit radio station KSBJ/Houston. Tim has written for CCM Magazine and the Huntsville Times. For more about Tim, please visit his website,
  This book was given to me by LitFuse in exchange for my review. The Blog Tour schedule can be found at this link

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf

My Review:

Although this story is based on the Biblical account of Esther, the author took some fictional liberties in order to make this a love story. Since the Biblical account is firmly fixed in my mind, I didn’t mind reading this fictionalized version. Often, we don’t think of people from Bible times as people. They are lessons from which we learn Biblical truths and principles. But the truth is, they were real people with emotions just like ours. I doubt if it played out anything like this book details, but I am certain many of the emotions given to Esther by the author were true.

In this book, Joan Wolf personifies Esther as a young Jewish girl living in Susa during the Persian rule. Joan’s historical information enriches the characters and gives a tremendous setting to the story. Additional characters such as Esther’s handmaid and eunuch guard also bring the story to life. What I appreciated was the emotional journey of Esther. Joan shows the doubts and fear Esther may have felt as she entered the competition to be queen. This is an enjoyable read. I look forward to more from this author. 

This book was provided to me by LitFuse for review and blog tour. I am not required to write a positive review.

To celebrate Joan Wolf’s debut Christian Fiction title, A Reluctant Queen, Joan and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up to give away A Reluctant Queen prize package worth over $150!

One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen

* A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf (for KINDLE)

To enter, just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, the contest ends on June 20th. Winner will be announced on June 21st during Joan’s A Reluctant Queen Book Club Party on Facebook (details below)! Hope to see you there – bring your friends!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Join the fun on June 21st! 

Joan will be wrapping up the blog tour and Kindle giveaway promotion during her A Reluctant Queen FACEBOOK party on her FB author page. During the party she'll announce the winner of the Kindle, host a book chat discussion, test your trivia skills (Is Esther's story in A Reluctant Queen fact or fiction?), and more. Don't miss this chance to meet the author and make some new friends!

Q & A with Author Joan Wolf
A Reluctant Queen, Thomas Nelson, June 2011

What draws you to historical/biblical fiction?
I have always adored history, a love I inherited from my father.  He used to discuss people from history as if they were people in the current newspapers.  I think almost 90% of my books must have an historical setting.

You’ve had a successful career writing for the ABA, why start writing for the CBA now?
A few years ago I had an extraordinary experience where God touched my life.  This encounter stirred my interest in writing about other people who had experienced the presence of God in their lives and the CBA seemed to be the best place for me to do that.

What is it about the historical account of Esther that led you to write a romance story about her?
When I was a girl Esther fascinated me.  It seemed wonderful that God had chosen a woman to be the person who would save His people.  And, since I am a romantic soul, I also thought that there must have been a great love between her and the king for him to have done as she asked.

Why did you move away from the traditional interpretation of King Ahasuerus’ conduct?
I always thought that Ahasuerus must have loved Esther deeply because he listened to her and revoked the edict that Haman had sent out.  A king who not only allows his wife to break into his religious feast without punishment, but also comes to have dinner with her the following day, must care for her very much indeed.  And such a man must be a much nicer person than the king traditionally portrayed by Xerses/ Ahasuerus.

You love animals.  Do you ever incorporate them into your books?
Do I not ever incorporate animals into my books?  I am famous for my horses, but dogs play their part as well.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t put Esther on a horse, but I did make Ahasuerus a fanatical horseman.

What is your favorite historical era to write about?
I love to go way back in time, to periods where the records are mostly archeological.  I actually did three books set in the Upper Paleolithic, the period of the last ice age.  My next book is about Rahab, and I’m having such fun reading about pottery and stone remains from the late Bronze Age.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

BOOK TOUR Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond

About the book:  

Booklist says, "Inspired by [folk] lyrics, Richmond arrives on the inspirational fiction scene with a moving debut novel. Readers will be filled with hope that Susannah will learn the true meaning of love. Highly recommended where inspiring, romantic historical fiction is in demand." 
Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.

When her parents die suddenly, and no suitors call, Susannah resigns herself to the only option available: becoming a mail-order bride. Agreeing to marry her pastor's brother, Jesse, Susannah leaves the only home she's ever known for the untamed frontier of the Dakota Territory .

Her new husband is more loving and patient with her than she believes she deserves. Still, there is also a wildness to him that mirrors the wilderness surrounding them. And Susannah finds herself constantly on edge. But Jesse's confidence in her-and his faith in God's perfect plan-slowly begin to chip away at the wall she hides behind.
When she miscarries in the brutal Dakota winter, Susannah's fledgling faith in herself and in God begins to crumble. Still, Jesse's love is unwavering. Just when it seems like winter will never end, Susannah finally sees the first tentative evidence of spring. And with it, the realization that more than the landscape has changed.

She looks to the future with a renewed heart. Yet in her wildest dreams, she couldn't predict all that awaits her.

My Review:
I enjoyed watching as Susannah grew in her relationship with God and with her husband. By allowing God to heal heartaches of the past, she is able to accept and embrace a promising future. Throughout most of the book Jesse seems too good to be true. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. But then he shows his imperfections by making a bad choice that costs them both.

After the miscarriage causing such pain and heartache, the story appears to come to an abrupt ending without allowing the reader the satisfaction of seeing the family come together complete and whole. A short epilogue would give the reader a sense of completion and satisfaction.

This book was provided to me by LitFuse in exchange for this review as part of the blog tour.

About the Author:

Catherine Richmond was focused on her career as an occupational therapist till a special song planted a story idea in her mind. That idea would ultimately become Spring for Susannah, her first novel. She is also a founder and moderator of Nebraska Novelist critique group and lives in Nebraska with her husband.
For more about Catherine, please visit

To celebrate her debut novel, Catherine and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up to give away a Spring For Susannah Prize Package worth over $150!

One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen

* Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond (for KINDLE)

To enter just click one of the icons below and then tell your friends! But hurry, giveaway ends on June 27th. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 28th at 5 PM (6PM MST, 7PM CST, & 8PM EST) during Catherine's Spring for Susannah Book Club Party on Facebook! Catherine is rustling up some fun for the party - she'll be chatting about the story behind her novel, hosting a book club chat,  testing your mail-order bride trivia skills, and giving away some GREAT prizes! Don't miss the fun and tell your friends!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Frasier Contest Results

Several months ago I entered the Frasier Contest with the first 1500 words and a synopsis of my romantic suspense The Road to Nowhere. Due to nerves and fear (why do they generally go hand in hand?), I waited until the last possible moment to send it off into cyberspace. After I hit enter, I spent several minutes fighting nausea. I finally came to realize it was a done deal. I couldn't take it back. Deal with it. Now all I had to do was wait for the results to be announced on June 1.

Starting early morning on June 1,  I checked my email too many times a day to keep count. Finally it came through - the list of finalists. I scanned through the six names, not at all surprised to find my name didn't make the list. 

Congratulations to the 2011 Frasier Finalists!

Jennifer Tiszai "Under Blueberry Skies"
 Casey Herringshaw "Releasing Yesterday"
 Marcie Gribbin "The Town Crier's Daughter"
 Debbie Archer "Etched" 
Andrea Nell "Saving Savannah"
Shelly Dippel "Flying Light"

What did surprise me was the note below that list of outstanding writers.

And to the distinguished Bronze Medalists!
Pat Trainum
Shannon McNear
Kathleen Anderson
Sarah Ladd
Kimberle Swaak
Ruth Schmeckpeper
Marie Wells Coutu
Christine L. Long
Jennifer Fromke
Cindy Sproles
Rachel Pudelek
Julia Matuska
Elizabeth Schultz

What?! My name was right in the middle of the list! Wahooooo!! I have to admit, my first reaction wasn't elation. I've been involved with groups who honored the winners and gave everyone else a consolation prize. I hate that. But I soon discovered there were over 100 entries submitted. It wasn't a consolation prize. The judges believed the Bronze Medalists have talent as writers. Okay, that's when I teared up. I'm honored and humbled to be among those listed as Bronze Medalists.

The next email I received had the following note:

"Publishing is a tough business, and at My Book Therapy, we are all about encouragement.  So, we designed the Frasier Contest to empower authors as they strengthen their craft, and award merit to those who are continually improving.  Therefore, while there are only 6 finalists to the Frasier Award this year, there are a number of entries whose writing showed great promise and merit.  And, even though your entry didn’t final, your entry showed solid writing craft, and made it to the second round of judging.  Well done!
"As a result, you will receive the MBT Bronze Medal distinction for writing excellence and a 15% discount on any MBT Writing Conference for 2011-2012. (a $50+ value).  Your name will be included in the MBT Frasier Ad in the ACFW Booklet, and you’ll be recognized at the MBT Pizza Party and Frasier Award ceremony, at the ACFW Conference Sept. 24th."

 Wahoo!  I cried again. Now all I was waiting for was the critique, the part that makes grown writers crawl under their desk and refuse to never write again. Okay, that's a bit over-dramatic, but sometimes close to the truth. Today I received the feedback. Four files, two from first-round judges and two from second round judges. Biting my lower lip, I clicked on the first one. I began reading through the information and started breathing again. Here's the scoring break down:

5:  Mastered the skill, ready for publication
4:  Strong skills in this area, continue to tighten and hone these skills.
3:  Average skills – Author’s skill need work.
2:  Weak skill – Author needs to strengthen their grasp on the fundamentals.
1:  Poor skills in this area.  Author needs to spend time relearning this concept.

Here's how they rated my work:
Judge 1 First Round - average score 4.73
Judge 2 First Round - average score 4.03
Judge 1 Second Round - average score 3.75
Judge 2 Second Round - average score 4.8
I'm flabbergasted to say the least! Now I just need some time to apply the comments to my book. The funniest part is the diversity of the comments. One judge said she hated a certain phrase. A different judge cited that same phrase as her favorite. What I need to do is lay them all out side by side and find the common threads. But that will have to wait until school's out. For now, I just keep smiling, basking in the glow that professionals believe my work is good.

Thank you, Susan May Warren, for starting My Book Therapy and the Frasier Contest. Thank you to all the anonymous judges for your expert advice. Thank you for the much needed encouragement to keep on writing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Breaking News!

I am so excited! I am published in the June edition of Christian Fiction Online Magazine! My story "A Dying Dream" is published in the short story section. I can't believe it! The editor asked to see more if I have them so I am polishing up a few that I've had lying around doing nothing. I'm also working on several other short stories while editing my book. 

I should hear back any day now with the critiques from the contests I entered. I don't expect to place in either one. I'm just looking forward to reading the comments from the judges. Then I'm sending it off to more agents. 

I also published a new devotional "No Matter What" with Granola Bar Devotionals. I'd love to get your comments on either one.

Monday, May 23, 2011

God's Gifts - More Then We Ask For

I’ve been having an emotional up-and-down roller coaster lately. It isn’t anything really big – just little things discouraging me or lifting me up. Last Friday was a great encouragement to me in a personal matter and I thrived on it all weekend. 

On Saturday, my sister asked if I’d like to do something. I immediately answered, “Go shopping.” We just laughed. She hates shopping and neither of us had the extra money to just shop for the fun of it. The first thing that popped into my head was a trip to Bath and Body Works. I haven’t shopped there in years but I love many of their fragrances. For the rest of the weekend, it stayed there in the back of my mind. Not in a bad way, just a wistful thought of something I’d like to do.
The weekend ended as I turned the key to enter school Monday. My mind on all the day held, I forgot about my wishful thinking. Near the end of the day, my sister (who is also the school’s music teacher) stopped by my classroom with a bright pink striped bag. It was from my Secret Pal. The staff exchanges information at the beginning of the year and sends each other small gifts each month. Sometimes it’s a bit of chocolate, a plant, a gift card, a note of encouragement. I could hardly wait to see what was in the bag. I confess, I had to peek while the class worked on an assignment. I almost cried when I saw the words “Bath and Body Works” on one of the bottles.

After class, I opened the bag and discovered hand soap, shower gel, body lotion, and a candle all from Bath and Body Works. How could she have known what I was thinking about all weekend? I don’t think I listed Bath and Body Works as one of my favorite stores. I can’t remember talking about it with anyone, not even my sisters. God knew. He knew before I thought about it and gave my Secret Pal the idea. 

I’m enjoying the scent of the lotion as I type this. Even more, I hold dear the knowledge that our loving Father desires to bless us in unexpected ways.

 Has God given you something special and unexpected lately?