CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
One of the nice things that happens every year is that students from ORU trick or treat for canned goods for the local food banks. It's always good to help them out. And a few Twix and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups go along with them. College kids have to keep up their energy, too, you know.
I will miss getting to see my grandsons in their costumes. Drake is going as a convict, and Nash will be Spiderman--the BLACK one, he told me the other night. If they send pictures, I'll post them later on so you can see them.
Have a safe and happy Halloween.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Carla: Welcome, Miralee. I enjoyed meeting you at the ACFW conference in Dallas. Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
Miralee: I'm over 50, married for 35 years this July, and have two wonderful children, Marnee and Steven. I'm active at our small church, serving on staff with my ministerial license and working with women in a counseling/ministering capacity. My husband and I are looking forward to full retirement soon and taking off for a few months at a time on our 51' sailboat, where my writing will take on an entirely new creativity. We have a horse, a dog and three cats that my daughter and her husband will inherit while we're gone. Thankfully, they live on the adjoining property and are animals lovers.
Carla: The sailboat sounds fun. And so does having your first novel published. How did you get the call?
Miralee: It was rather unexpected. My agent submitted the manuscript to six different houses, then a few weeks later, I requested that she ask each to wait on completing their review, as I decided to make several major changes to the first few chapters. Five of the houses replied affirmatively, but we didn’t hear from Kregel. We assumed they hadn’t started reviewing it yet, and I moved forward with my revisions. Just as I was finalizing my changes the publisher from Kregel contacted my agent and made the offer.
Carla: What was your reaction to the news that your first baby had been purchased?
Miralee: Stunned and a bit worried at first. I know that sounds strange and I should’ve been bouncing around the house, but my first thought was, Oh no! They read the old version and I’ve made all these changes! What if they don’t like what I’ve done and want to keep the old one? I knew the new version was much stronger, as did the editor I’d been working with on the first 1/3 of the book, so I prayed and my agent asked Dennis, my soon to be publisher, if they’d take a look at the changes. They did, they liked what they saw, and the offer extended to the new book. THEN reality set in and the explosion of joy and incredulity hit me. It took several weeks before I really took in that it was sold.
Carla: That must have been exciting. How long did it take from the first word to sale? What was your journey like?
Miralee: It took me five weeks to write the first draft, then the next six months of revising, editing and polishing before it was presentable. This was such new territory for me. I’d written several non-fiction short stories that were published in magazines just prior to starting off in fiction, but I had no clue what I was doing when I began to write this novel. I’d never read a book on writing, had no teaching on structure, plot, POV, characterization, dialogue, or anything else. It wasn’t until three months before Kregel made their offer that I discovered ACFW and joined. My sister, who has done some professional editing, and a friend who is an editor and author, both helped tremendously, mentoring and supporting me through the first two drafts, or I wouldn’t have made it this far.
The Lord brought Tamela (my agent) into my life in a series of miraculous events that only He could have orchestrated, and seven months later I received the offer from Kregel. When the book is released, it will be two years since writing the first draft, and nine months since signing my contract. Kregel graciously put The Other Daughter on the fast track to publication, beating the usual 12-16 months for publication by quite a bit.
Carla: What advice do you have for those of us still dreaming of our first sale?
Miralee: I know what I wish I would’ve had, when I started out. Critique partners…they are invaluable. I didn’t belong to a group until well into the writing of the second book in my series. Through ACFW I was able to get connected and our small group of four is a perfect fit for each of us.
Don’t be too shy to ask for help and don’t be too proud to take constructive criticism of your work, when it’s offered. You don’t have to change everything that’s suggested, but if more than one person points out something wrong, take it seriously and be willing to learn. And most of all, don’t give up. If you believe that God has given you the gift or desire to write, then be obedient, even if it’s never published. When I started out, I thought the best I’d attain would be publication in magazines….having a book published didn’t seem possible. The Lord gave me this story and it needed to be written, and the rest was up to Him. My responsibility was to write it, then keep moving forward in whatever direction He pointed out.
Carla: Most writers are also addicted readers? What books on your shelf do you keep coming back to?
Miralee: I discovered Gene Stratton Porter and Harold Bell Wright in high school when I first read Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost, and Shepherd of the Hills. I love anything these early twentieth century authors wrote and own first editions of several of their works. The writing in the early 1900’s had so much more depth than much of what’s being written now. The descriptions were exquisite…that’s the only way I can describe how they wrote. The stories were unusual and you knew the characters personally, and cared about them deeply. H B Wright especially had thought provoking messages woven through his fiction that would stay with a reader for days, if not weeks to come.
Carla: What’s next for you? A sequel or something different?
Miralee: I’m working on Past Shadows (might also be called “Sheltered”), the sequel to The Other Daughter, and hope to have it ready to turn in to my editor in early November. I’ve also started something new for me, an 1880’s novel set in Washington state…I’m hesitating to say it’s a romance, but it looks like it might be heading that direction. I’m playing around with another idea for a stand-alone women’s contemporary with an unusual twist. I’m hoping to start it as soon as Past Shadows is finished. There could also be a #3 in this series, and if so, we’ll return to Brianna, the 13 yr old girl who arrives at the Carson’s door…at the age of 23.
Carla: I wish you much success with The Other Daughter. Do you have any early signs of how it might be doing now that it’s released.
Miralee: Thank you. YES! The Romantic Times Review gave it FOUR stars. I was thrilled. And I hope that my readers love it!
Carla: I’m sure they will. Thanks for letting me be a part of your blog tour. It’s a first for me, too. And a reminder to my readers. Miralee’s Tour continues until Nov. 16. Here are the links for the remaining dates.
Blessings to you, Miralee!
BONUS: Leave a comment and you will be entered in the drawing for a copy of The Other Daughter.
Read the opening scene at Miralee's web site:
The Other Daughter is available now in stores near you or from http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.christianbook.com/
The BLOG TOUR continues until mid-November. Miralee will be doing interviews all along the way.
October 31st Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose
November 1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog
November 2nd Jan Parrish---Bold and Free
November 3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry
November 4th Teresa Slack---ShoutLife Blog
November 5th Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey
November 6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog
November 7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope
November 8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress
November 9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger
November 10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos
November 11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker
November 12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels
November 13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll
November 14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction
November 15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction
November 16th Lisa Jordan---Musings
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy."Susanne Carson knew that she could trust the love of her life—her husband, David—until she discovered a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David's daughter.Not that their marriage had ever been perfect—David's decision to embrace the Christian faith had strained their relationship. Susanne may not have agreed with his beliefs, but at least she trusted him. Had David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wanted Susanne to believe in his God, but believing hadn't done much to keep David out of another woman's arms.As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must face her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.
Read the entire opening scene at Miralee's web site:
The Other Daughter has just released this month and is available in stores near you or from http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.christianbook.com/
Besides visiting the Café on Tuesday, you can follow the tour and learn more about this new author. Miralee’s tour continues until November 16. Just follow the links.
Bonus: Leave a comment at one of the blog stops and your name will be entered in a drawing for The Other Daughter.
October 25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer
Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts
October 26th Robin Grant---Queen Of Perseverance
October 27th Delia Latham---The Melody Within
October 28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journey
October 29th Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editor
October 30th Carla Stewart---Carla’s Writing Café
October 31st Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose
November 1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog
November 2nd Jan Parrish---Bold and Free
Thanks for stopping by. See you Tuesday.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
A little prejudiced about the precociousness of these fellas? Yep. I’ve earned the right. Paid my dues. Don’t even get me started on my other grandsons, who are equally wonderful. Or the twins’ baby sister, who at four weeks is just getting started weaving her way into our hearts.
My point is that I’m humbled and in awe of how uniquely crafted each of us are. Extraordinarily knitted together and stamped “original” by God himself. You. Me. The kid next door. And my grandchildren.
Did I get any writing done while I was gone? Not exactly, although I did keep up with my email and brainstormed a book idea with my daughter-in-law who is also a writer. Does it upset me? Not a bit. These guys will be grown and asking their dad for the car keys in the blink of an eye. I’m glad to be along for the ride. Lucky me.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Indeed, he has done that. Chuck served with the Special Forces (Green Berets) in Viet Nam, was a war correspondent on several occasions, became a Miami police officer and later a Tulsa police detective, and rode broncs in the professional rodeo circuit. His adventures have included running with the bulls in Spain, hopping freight trains, scaling Mr. Everest, trips down the Amazon, hunting bears in Canada, and his current quest: looking for Sasquatch in various North American locales. He turns every adventure into magazine articles, book deals, and entertaining conversations.
In his book, Magic Steps to Writing Success, Chuck weaves his life story with writing wisdom.
Here’s what he shared the other night:
Many people dream of being writers, but few have what it takes to BE a writer. For those with the drive and desire, success is attainable with these steps.
- Discipline. Many talented writers are never published. Successful writers are those who discipline themselves and write EVERY SINGLE DAY, no matter what.
- Inspiration. Good work doesn’t come from inspiration. It comes from constant, tedious effort. In pursuing this, ask yourself Why do you want to be a writer? For Chuck it was to see and experience many things so that others may share that experience through his writing. What drives you?
- Goals. Set attainable goals, but aim high. One of Chuck’s favorite quotes: “If you aim for the moon, you might at least hit a mountain.”
- Ideas. If you wait for your well to overflow with ideas before you use them, your well will run dry. Curiosity is the rain that fills the well. Who? What? When? Where? How? Explore everything in your world with curious eyes and ears. Use details in your writing, and your words will ring with authenticity.
- Craft. How can you build a house if you can’t use a hammer or know a rafter from a ceiling joist? You can’t write a good story while consciously thinking about how to apply the techniques. Learning the craft is essential. Learn well and often.
Five steps. That’s it. Chuck has made a living as a full-time writer for twenty-nine years using these steps. Thanks, Chuck, for the insights and encouragement.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
However, a couple of years ago, I started watching Dancing With the Stars, and I was hooked. The only thing was, you had to keep up or you wouldn’t know what happened. Voila! We became the owners of a DVR last winter, and now I could watch at my leisure.
A new season started a few weeks ago, and as usual, I had other things to do, so I decided not to indulge this year. Then, flipping through the “List” of our recorded shows, I noticed that the DVR remembered to record all episodes of “Dancing.” So, I’m caught up again, and I love it.
Marie Osmond blows me away every week with her dramatic interpretations. Sweet little Marie who has birthed eight children and looks great (even better now that the grueling practice has knocked off a few pounds).
Wayne Newton’s been voted off already, but how endearing that he didn’t let age keep him from trying.
There have been Superman and Elvis impersonations, Jives that knock your socks off, Quick Steps, and last week, the romantic Viennese Waltz.
So, what does this have to do with writing? Here’s what I’ve figured out.
- You’re never too old to try.
- Exercising my inner core and learning new steps translates to listening the that voice within and digging deep into books on the craft of writing.
- Blood, sweat, and tears bring untold rewards. Writing, rewriting, and polishing my manuscripts bring great personal satisfaction and maybe someday, a contract.
- Be bold. The most successful dancing stars are the ones who step out of their comfort zones and try new things. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy l:7 Oh, that our words might be powerful and lovely and wise.
- Tension. For a minute and a half, all eyes are on the couple on the floor. You know their knees are knocking and their insides are a mess, but that’s what adds to the excitement. Tension on every page! Writers know what that means.
- Sometimes you stumble. A couple of weeks ago, one of the couples bobbled at the end of their dance. Fell flat on the floor. I’ve had days (even weeks) like that—where nothing seemed to work. The following week, that couple came back and danced flawlessly. It’s like my dad always told me. “When you fall off the horse, you get right back on.”
- Let the music begin! Love songs, jazzy numbers, and full-orchestra melodies stir my emotions. So should our words strike chords in our readers.
- Laugh and cry together. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Rom. 12:15. Have you noticed that when a couple is sent home, the others gather around for a final dance? That’s what we as writers have—a community that supports one another and cares.
- Have fun! Life is just better when you take time to have some fun. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter who wins or loses. The look of sheer enjoyment on the dancers’ faces says it all.
I don’t really have a “favorite” star this year, but I must say, the women seem to outshine the men this go round. I had to attend a meeting tonight, but thanks to the DVR, I’ll be catching the results of week four later on. Please don’t tell me what happened. I like surprise endings!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
10 years ago—Life was good on the family farm in Balko, OK. Three of our four boys had flown the nest with only a 13-year-old left at home. He kept us busy with sports, 4-H, and raising show pigs. I taught nursing in a distance education program, and trust me, from our rambling, white farm bungalow, everything was a distance. 40 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart. 17 miles to the nearest grocery store and church. The desire to become a writer burned deep—a dream I had to wait another four years to pursue, but the birth of our first grandson highlighted the year (waving to Drake). What a joy!
20 years ago—We lived in the country in Lucas, Texas, and ran ourselves ragged with four boys. Busy, crazy years with soccer, basketball, baseball, and being a room mother. I painted wooden folk art, belonged to a quilt guild, did our church bulletin (Grace Evangelical Free Church), and was a group leader for our community Ladies’ Bible Study.
30 years ago—We lived in Richardson, Texas, and had three toddlers, only one of whom had graduated out of diapers. I loved being a mommy to three little boys, but to keep my sanity, I dropped them off at Mother’s Day Out once a week and went home to play the piano in peace and quiet. The only “dates” Max and I got were on the MDO days also. We were regulars at El Chico for the $2.99 lunch special!
Here’s the fun part. I’m tagging twelve writing friends. Even if you're not tagged, don't be crabby, just take up the baton and run with it. Here's what to do: Post your 10-20-30s, and then leave a comment for me at Carla’s Writing Café sharing where you blogged. You can also link back to the Mother Ship www.relevantblog.blogspot.com and leave a comment for Mary saying where you heard about this experiment and your blog info. Mary’s not out to build an empire, just expand the blogosphere. How many people can one blog potentially reach?
So here are my tags (Twelve blogging friends that I hope will play)
Myra (Writer at Random)
Gina Conroy (Writer. . . Interrupted)
Lacy (Novel Inspirations)
Hope (The Hope Chest)
Erica (On the Write Path)
D’Ann (One More Writer)
Izitjo (Life Sparks)
Michelle (Edgy Inspirational Author)
Patti (Patti’s Ponderings)
Angie B (God Uses Broken Vessels)
Cecilia (My Christian Fiction Blog)
So let the linking and socializing and experimenting begin!
Friday, October 12, 2007
A couple of nights later, the weatherman on our channel enlightened me and the viewing audience. He'd been getting a lot of phone calls, and the phenomenon has a name--ballooning. It's the way spiders send their babies off into the world to make their own homes. Who knew? This must have been a productive year for all the mama and daddy spiders because they are everywhere, mostly at dusk, or at least when that's when they are most visible. Or maybe I've noticed them more because of the gorgeous fall weather we've had the past week. Lots of patio time, lovely walks around the block with Zelda, our mini-dachshund, who by the way, is the Queen in this household. Not to worry--I'll save her antics for another post.
Just when you think you've seen everything, something new comes along. Isn't that just the way it is with God and his creation? Eagles push their babies from the nest, but fly beside them creating wind currents to help the fledgling babies until they find their wings. Now, spiders have their own specially designed system as well. Fine filaments that give the babies a path to follow until they find their place. Oh, the wonder.
The weatherman also reported that a legend accompanies the spider ballooning: "When spiders fly, the weather will soon be dry." Don't know how much truth there is in that, but we've had blue skies and simply breathtaking weather all week. I'm headed to the patio right now--with a cuppa my favorite brew, of course.
Be blessed this weekend.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
By Susan Meissner
Harvest House Publishers
Days and Hours is the third book in the Rachael Flynn mystery series. I became a fan of Susan’s work this summer. Her easy writing style and chair-gripping scenes woven with unique and quirky characters are only half the story. In each of the Rachael Flynn books, the plight of children comes to the front as Rachael uses her special gifts as a mother, an attorney, and a woman with touched-by-God insights to bring justice and compassion to the Minneapolis-St. Paul setting.
Back Cover: A baby is found abandoned . . . and the effect on attorney and mother Rachael Flyy is profound. Marcie, the infant’s young mother with a history of drug abuse, is the chief suspect. Marcie insists she’s innocent and demands that Leo, her baby son, be returned to her. But Marcie’s mother and sister say otherwise.
When baby Leo is found missing a second time, the evidence against Marcie seems overwhelming. But relying on her own motherly intuition—and a faith that God is using her to resolve this puzzling case—Rachael chooses to believe Marcie’s story and digs for the truth of what really happened . . . and who is responsible.
Susan Meissner is an award winning novelist, and this one is destined for honor as well. In Days and Hours, Rachael Flynn struggles with being a working mom while being immersed in the world of less fortunate single mothers who have fewer choices and need special attention in parenting skills. A thought-provoking book that shows that there are no easy answers. I especially love Rachael’s husband, Trace, an artist, and his circle of artist friends who bring humor and warmth to Rachael’s world. I want to meet these people! And I think you will, too, after reading this book.
Thank you, Susan, for another great read.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Led to Believe by Billy Graham is divided into six parts such as: What God can do, Where God leads and Living close to God. Each section is filled with accounts about the man who has helped lead millions to live their faith.
This volume is filled with the inspiring words of Billy Graham and others on living by faith. There are essays from Graham himself about his own call to serve as well as some faith-strengthening tips, and a down-to-earth description by Ruth Bell Graham of what it’s like being a preacher’s wife.
And as a tribute to her father, Anne Graham Lotz shares a moment in her teenage life when his love and concern taught her a moving lesson about her heavenly Father.
Me again. This small hardcover book is available in stores and online from Guideposts Books and Amazon. It makes a great gift or an uplifting read. Please check it out.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
My friend and critique partner, Myra Johnson, has posted a new contest at Writer at Random. It's a "randomly romantic" contest and includes coffee, so for you who entered my recent drawing for the Starbucks card and didn't win, here's your chance.
Two other writing friends, Gina Conroy and Lacy Williams, have teamed up and are offering a creative contest with Writing Workout prompts. Check it out here. You could win a free critique! How cool is that?
Now I'm off to spoil that precious baby girl one more time! I'll see you next week.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Thanks for making my first contest fun. Please stop by often.