Everyone who left a comment on my blog during the scavenger hunt will be receiving a prize from my guest, Rebecca Ondov.
The winners from my interview, on Linda Rondeau’s blog, are: Delores Leisner—3-Minute Cat Lover’s Devotions for a Cat Lover’s Heart; Rhonda—Matchmaker Mixup.
Winners from my sidebar are: Caryl Kane—Courting Disaster; Lynda Bertulli—Prodigal Patriot.
Today we have a two-in-one special! Please join me in welcoming Christian author Rebecca Ondov to my blog and learn about participating in the CAN (Christian Author Network) Scavenger Hunt.
I “met” Rebecca through the hunt when I read her book, Horse Tales from Heaven: Reflections Along the Trail with God. A fascinating, adventure-packed life! For fifteen years Rebecca worked from the saddle in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana, taking guests on horse pack trips over rugged Rocky Mountain trails, as well as working for the US Forest Service. Then God called her to write about her adventures and that’s where today’s story begins…
Rebecca, working from horseback is a whole different arena than writing. How did you get started?
I chuckle when I look back at my beginnings. It’s a story that encourages so many people because God has tucked a special gift inside each one of us and He wants us to share it with the world, only my gift was a mystery to me and I nearly missed it.
My writing adventure started on a blustery spring day after pulling my mail out of the mailbox. While walking the long driveway back to the house I excitedly opened my Guideposts magazine to a page announcing a writing contest. The article invited people to submit a manuscript to Guideposts. They would choose the top 15 winners and fly them, all expenses paid, to New York. The winners would be tucked away in a mansion on Long Island Sound, where they would be personally tutored for a week by some of the top Christian authors in the world. When I read about it I felt impressed in my spirit to submit a manuscript.
Instantly I recoiled and blurted out, “But God, You don’t know who I am.”
Can you imagine telling your Creator that?
But, He didn’t listen. Over the next couple months He kept after me and I submitted a manuscript—which won!
Wow, that’s an amazing story! I’m sure you kept writing. Tell us about that.
Yes, I’ve written magazine articles and am a contributing author to Daily Guideposts as well as several other books. But the most exciting has been writing my own books where I’ve corralled my true-life Wild-West (often hair-raising) adventures into devotional books.
Have you conquered your fear of writing? Do you like to do it?
Writing is still hard for me, but for a different reason. I’ve gotten so many letters from my readers, saying that my words have impacted their lives with the power of God, encouraged them to pursue Him on a new level, and to look at life through His eyes. Because of that I have a deep sense of responsibility for every word that I write. I want it to reflect God’s truth and love.
Writing has become the most fulfilling thing I do. I know that I’m serving Him, I bless others, and the relationships I’ve developed with my readers are priceless.
Yes. Heavenly Horse Stories: Inspirational Stories from Life in the Saddle just galloped onto the store shelves on July 1. It’s a fabulous family devotional of my adventures with horses—and God. The setting is considered “The Crown Jewel of the American Wilderness System,” the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. The best part is that you don’t have to be a horse-lover to understand the profound Biblical truths that I learned along the trail. I’ll be giving a copy of this book away as well as a copy of my book Great Horse Stories for Girls: Inspiring Tales of Friendship and Fun.
What great additions to the grand prize. Do you have a mission statement?
Yes, my goal is that my readers Be Inspired with Blazing Faith.
Do you have any parting words for us?
Because of God, I’ve been able to “do the impossible” and write. He joined me together with “a group” (which is my phrase for the scavenger hunt) of people who have helped me along the way, from Guideposts magazine, classes, friends and fellow authors, to the Christian Author Network.
I like to say that life is an adventure of discovering the gifts and talents that God has placed inside each of us. If God asks you to do the impossible, say, “Yes!” with confidence, knowing that He’ll show you the way.
And I’d like to invite all of you to “Saddle up and ride with me, through the pages of my books, for an adventure of a life time.”
For anyone who hasn’t reached us through the Scavenger Hunt, what is your website? https://rebeccaondov.wordpress.com
To enter for your chance at the grand prize, go back to http://christianauthorsnetwork.com/blog/ and complete the entry form. For anyone who hasn’t taken part in the scavenger hunt, go to that link to start. It’s open through Saturday, July 23rd.
At each stop along the way, readers need to collect the phrase divulged and then piece them together and send their end result as detailed on that first blog for a chance to win a load of books. The next stop on the hunt is Rebecca’s blog where she’s interviewing. . .well, go over and find out!
Excuses. I know. My computer has been out of business for most of June.
Ada Brownell has graciously agreed to be my guest this week. I have read part of her book, Peach Blossom Rancher, (another victim of the computer blow out). Let me tell you, you’re in for romance where the outcome is in doubt, a murder mystery, and abuse of the mentally ill in the 19th century–who can ask for more than that?
When Ada wrote The Peach Blossom Rancher, she drew from her experiences growing up in Colorado’s Peach Country and covering the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo on her beat as a journalist for The Pueblo Chieftain.
Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell
Here are Ada’s words for writers:
Power up your writing by creating
By Ada Brownell
Your brand defines the distinctive elements of your writing.
A brand is defined as a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. Among synonyms are make, line, label, marque, type, kind, sort, variety.
An author’s brand is a short line, almost like a subtitle or a slogan that tells everyone what to expect from a writer. It not only identifies the genre, but also the author’s personal touch, style and voice.
AN AUTHOR’S BRAND IS SIMILAR TO THESE COMMERCIAL BRANDS:
- Nike – Just do it.
- Volkswagen – Think Small.
- Hallmark – When you care enough to send the very best.
- Fortune – For the men in charge of change.
- Ajax – Stronger than dirt.
HERE ARE A FEW CHRISTIAN AUTHOR’S BRANDS
I couldn’t pass up this one from a Twitter follower: Mike Whitaker: Christian. “In the shipping business: Friendshipping, Partnershipping, Entrepreneurshipping, Leadershipping and Fellowshipping.
Harry Wegley, a retired meteorologist: Always a Climate of Suspense and a Forecast of Stormy Weather
Very insightful, Ava! I believe your brand is “Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement.” Mine is “writing at the crossroads of love and grace.”
A handsome young man with a ranch in ruin and a brilliant doctor confined to an insane asylum because of one seizure. Yet their lives intersect.
Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor who he constantly fusses with? This neighbor has a Peeping Tom whose bootprints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?
Look for the release July 2016 by http://www.elklakepublishing.com
Happy Memorial Day!
Today’s guest is fairly new to me, so let’s get to know Lee Carver together. She is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads. Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have two children and five grandchildren who live entirely too far away.
I am enjoying a five-day “vacation” from my ordinary writing routines. Starting on June 1st, I am plunging into another month-long writing marathon, this time finishing the sec
ond mystery in my upcoming Murder By the Case series.
Friday, June 2nd – http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/
Friday, June 2nd – http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/
And now to hear from Lee:
Writing a Blurb that Works
Creating a back cover blurb is the most important writing you will do. In a sense, it’s more important than writing the book, because if the blurb doesn’t appeal to the reader, the book won’t be read. It becomes the book description on Amazon, Goodreads, ACFW’s Fiction Finder, and anywhere else the book is offered or discussed. It’s the advertising copy, the hook, the reason your book will fly off the (electronic) shelves.
My first (and only original) tip is to write the blurb BEFORE the book, when you’re in love with your undeveloped characters and your mind tingles with the plot that will happen to them. Jot something down at the top of your manuscript so you see it every time the file opens. This is not the finished form, but later you will know TOO much about the characters, the complications, the contortions of plot. The blurb will actually be harder to write when details collect like dust on fine art.
Read book descriptions on Amazon, Goodreads, and Fiction Finder of others in your genre. Pretend you want to buy and read a book. What works for you? What makes you want to leave that book and look for something else?
My pet peeve is a final blurb sentence for a romance novel, “Will John and Mary overcome their differences and find love and happiness together?” Of course they will! This is inspirational fiction. No need to read that book. And while trust between characters is hugely important, I feel the word “trust” in a blurb has become cliché.
The blurb must fit the genre. If the novel is a comedy, it should be amusing. For literary fiction, show some poetry in prose. If it’s historical, indicate the time and place setting.
Now to be quite specific, here is a simple formula for writing the blurb:
- Setup. Briefly describe the main character(s) and their situation. Omit every detail not essential to the story.
- Problem. The absolute necessity of a change.
- Tightening Plot
- Mood, Genre, Tone, Emotion reflected in every phrase above.
- A conclusion which sparks the reader’s imagination.
- Cut the details
- Keep it brief: 150-200 words
- Don’t give away the resolution or other spoilers
- Don’t employ over-used phrases
- Appeal to emotion
- Make it dramatic
Seeking relief from her disastrous marriage, a high school biology teacher returns to Shelter Creek for the summer to help her grandmother through chemo. She is surprised by a roofer with stamina through Texas heat and life’s hard spots. Her path away from bitterness involves the family guard-pig and teaching first grade.
Painful discoveries of her husband’s duplicity develop into danger. Murder is so much quicker than divorce.
As a wife betrayed and dumped by her husband, she could either lock herself away from further hurt or forgive and start over.
Was there a man alive worth the investment?
My guest today is Ginger Solomon, who has honored me by hosting me on her blog several times. Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest four, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre.
First a few updates on my writing:
I finished the edits on Matchmaking Mix-Up, this year’s Christmas novella, and sent it to my editor for her comments before publication.
One week remains on the Forget Me Not scavenger hunt . Grand prize is a Kindle Fire! Check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/543716869142197/ for further information.
My column, “Running Full on an Empty Tank,” is live at http://digital.turn-page.com/i/679884-may-2016-book-fun-magazine
Now, more from Ginger:
Adjusting our Expectations
By Ginger Solomon
Has life ever thrown something at you at the last minute that you’re not sure how to deal with? Or maybe it was a lot of somethings all at once. Either way, you had to adjust your expectations to meet with your new circumstances.
You had to go with the flow.
I don’t know about you, but I’m bad at it. I prefer events where I know what to expect and when. Spontaneity is NOT my strong suit.
When my husband and I got married over 25 years ago, my wedding was just such an event. I planned things nearly to the minute. It was scheduled for two in the afternoon. Most weddings I’ve been to start a few minutes late. Not mine. I was walking down the aisle at 2:00pm on the dot. According the video, guests walked in behind me. A little sheepishly, I might add.
I’d love to say that everything moved like clockwork during the entire ceremony, but it didn’t. My cousin, my matron of honor, dropped the wedding ring when she went to hand it to me. We were standing on a platform and that ring decided it wanted to roll all the way down the stairs. Not in my plans, but I managed to be flexible and go with the flow—really, what choice did I have? As soon as the ring was recovered, we continued.
There have been many other such times in my life when circumstances made me step outside of my organized comfort zone and be spontaneous. I didn’t like them, but when life becomes a roller coaster ride, you buckle up and hold on for dear life.
In my newest release, Second Choice, my heroine, Princess Anaya, faces such a challenge. Her father gave her one year to choose a husband from five candidates, whom he thought worthy of her hand in marriage. She met with each one individually, and six months later, after much consideration and prayer, she chose one. They spent several months getting to know one another and planning their wedding.
Then he disappeared. Three weeks before the wedding.
What would she do?
Knowing her father the way she did, she knew he would insist she make a second choice so the wedding could continue forward as planned.
She had to be flexible.
And she was because we all do what we have to do to make it through any given situation. We make choices that we may later regret, but we do the best we can with the knowledge that we have at the time.
What about you? Have you been in a situation that required you to adjust your expectations
Set to be married in less than a month, Princess Anaya Vallis’s intended runs away, leaving only a cryptic note behind. Her father insists the wedding go forth as planned with a new groom. She has days to make a second choice.
Titus Vasco is like a ship without a rudder, floating through life without purpose. Until she calls. He accepts her proposal without hesitation.
But wedded bliss does not come easily. Two virtual strangers brought together by unforeseen circumstances must learn to trust each other and God’s plan for their lives in order to achieve the happily-ever-after they both long for.
Fifty years ago, between the fantasy of Camelot and three assassinations that rocked the decade, an English teacher introduced me to Middle Earth. I discovered Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf and later Frodo and Aragorn. Like so many of my generation, The Lord of the Rings became the touchtone of my imagination. I read the trilogy five times during my teens. In college, I became friends friends with “Legolas” to my “Gimli”—and we remain close to this day.
Unfortunately, studies took over reading for fun, until the summer I walked through a wardrobe and discovered Narnia. I plowed through all seven books.
I tried Tolkein’s other books but nothing else captured my imagination. C.S. Lewis, however—what a journey! His science fiction series, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and Mere Christianity. “Jesus is either a liar or a lunatic or He is Lord of all.” Amen! And other books which tantalize me but which I have never read.
After I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis separately, I learned they were friends. Not only that, but Tolkien had led Lewis to Christ. That they went for a walk one day, and when they returned, Lewis had become a Christian. Something inside of me warmed. What the world would have lost without that friendship, without Lewis’s salvation and his emergency as a champion of the faith.
Between Lewis’s work, and Tolkien’s description of “eucastastrophe” (a cataclysmic event brought about by good news), a hunger awakened in me for story, for the telling of the Christian story through fiction. I began my own journey toward sharing the faith through fiction. I don’t write fantasy, but romance reflects the greatest love of all.
I just finished reading a biography of Lewis, A Life Inspired, by Christopher Gordon. He reminded me of two of my heroes, and I wanted to share them with you.
My guest today is my friend and editor, Robin Patchen. Robin lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its free prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. Robin is a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Find out more at robinpatchen.com.
Before then, a little writing news:
I met my April marathon goal of writing (rough draft) of two novellas and 5,000 words of an upcoming mystery, Nut Case with 600 words to spare. Praise the Lord! Matchmaking Mix-up, a Christmas novella, will be published by August 2016. I am devoting May to edits and catching up on numerous other projects.
Remember the ongoing scavenger hunt with Forget Me Not Romances. You have all month to play along. https://www.facebook.com/groups/543716869142197/
May 10th – interview and giveaway of Small-Town Brides at http://theengraftedword.net/
May 11th – post on “Reflections on Aging” at http://mtlmagazine.com/blog/
May 16th – monthly column, “Running Full on an Empty Tank,” published in the Bookfun Magazine at http://www.bookfun.org/
May 23rd – Guest post and giveaway of Small-Town Brides at http://www.gingersolomon.com/blog/
Now to hear from Robin:
Writing the Emotional Journey
By Robin Patchen
Your goal as a fiction writer is to take your reader on an emotional journey.
There are three ways to get emotion across in your manuscript. You can tell it, you can show it, or you can evoke it.
You can tell emotions—sparingly when it’s the best choice. Most authors rely on showing emotions through physiological reactions, crying, yelling, clenching fists—that sort of thing. Nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be the only weapon in a writer’s arsenal.
Great writers learn to manipulate their readers’ emotions through the use of thoughts and actions.
Take this example:
Bob walked into the diner and spotted Sally in the corner booth with John. They were huddled in deep conversation. On the table in front of them sat two cups of coffee, two dirty plates pushed to the side, and a manila envelope.
Bob stomped across the dining room toward them.
Bob feels angry, but what is beneath that anger? We could guess jealousy. Would we be right? Let’s add a thought:
Bob walked into the diner and spotted Sally in the corner booth with John. They were huddled in deep conversation. On the table in front of them sat two cups of coffee, two dirty plates pushed to the side, and a manila envelope.
John was up to his old tricks again, and it seemed he’d picked Sally as his latest victim.
Bob stomped across the dining room toward them.
All I did was add one sentence, and now it’s clear that Bob feels protective. It might manifest itself as anger—don’t many emotions?—but there’s something deeper.
When your reader is emotionally invested in the characters, she will feel protective, too. That’s one great way to evoke emotions.
***P.S. Come back on May 30th when Robin will be our 5th Monday special guest!***
5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. This in-depth guide to self-editing is an invaluable resource for any writer of any genre. It shows, not just tells, how to write better fiction. Using it, you’ll be armed with the tools and skills you need to conquer the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing.
This month the books continue to fly out. A Blessing for Beau from Calico Brides is one of the nine novellas in Small Town Brides (http://www.amazon.com/Small-Town-Brides-Romance-Collection-Neighbors-ebook/dp/B01EBN9B88/) . Cynthia Hickey, my editor at Forget Me Not Romances, put together two other collections: Mail Order Brides, another nine-author collection with my story, Jacob’s Christmas Dream. Reflections includes three full length devotionals.
In June, I’ll be giving away a copy of Small-Town Brides as well as Love’s Glory, my first book with Forget Me Not Romances.
So, why are collections so popular?
I like to think they’re popular with readers because they get lots of stories from different authors for a great price. The publishers look for a popular topic, such as mail order brides, and put together relevant stories. (Or seek them, such as in my upcoming contribution to Pony Express Romance.) Sometimes they discover brand new authors.
They’re great for authors as well. Many authors got their first publishing break through a novella.
And the biggest plus of all? Psst. They sell well.
I had one book one two best-sellers list last month, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and Publisher’s Weekly. Yup, a collection, Cowboy’s Bride. Love Is Patient also showed up on the ECPA list.
Forget Me Not Romances #1 sat #1 on the Amazon best-seller list for months. It still stands at #14 and makes more money for me than any other book.
Yup, collections are a win-win for publishers, authors, and readers alike. Dip in and enjoy.
Hello everyone! I have decided that I must write my third Monday post at the beginning of the month, because I keep forgetting it.
This month’s guest is Donna Schlacter, who’s been a good friend and supporter. She pens historical suspense while her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense. When not in search of yet another dead body, Donna and Leeann can be found writing in Colorado. Follow them at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com
First a few updates:
- In my April NANO drive, I’ve finished Matchmaking Mixup, this year’s Christmas novella, and I’m three-quarters of the way through The Gambler’s Daughter, part of the upcoming Pony Express Romance. I have until Saturday to finish Gambler’s Daughter and get started on a mystery.
- The April edition of Bookfun Magazine is now live! Check out my article, Lessons from a Songbird, at http://www.bookfun.org/. It’s the first column which they have gracious invited me to write monthly.
- Free through Tuesday: Angel in Disguise at http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Disguise-Brides-Texas-Book-ebook/dp/B01DDYURA2/
- Giveaway of Love Is Patient at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/181484
- Monday, April 25: Guest at Shannon Vannatter’s blog, giving away Lawless and the Lawmen: http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog
- Saturday, May 7: Guest at Jodie Wolfe’s blog, giving away Small-Town Brides Romance Collection: http://www.jodiewolfe.com
Now let’s hear from Donna:
The Opening Line
By Donna Schlachter
Readers are easily bored.
Hopefully that opening line caught your attention and did at least three things. The following can be applied to any written material, whether fiction or non-fiction, short story, epic novel, or flash fiction.
Introduce the topic: the opening sentence establishes a contract with the reader, lets them know what’s coming, sets the tone, and weeds out those who aren’t really interested in what you have to say. Because this one thing is true—not everybody will be part of your target audience, and the quickest way to lose a reader forever is to promise something you don’t deliver.
Causes questions to arise: if you tell the reader everything they need to know in the opening line, they don’t need to read the next 200 words or 200 pages. Instead, your opening line should cause questions to arise in the reader’s mind. In this case: why are readers easily bored? How can I keep them from getting bored?
Makes the reader want to read more: When readers invest time and energy in your writing, they are less likely to give up, which offers you the opportunity to demonstrate what an excellent writer you are and what a compelling story you can weave. This, in turn, will transform your readers into fans and influencers for your products.
In Summary: you want your opening line to give a hint of what the story is about; cause the reader to ask at least one question that cannot be answered unless they continue reading. If you’ve accomplished that, you have written a great opening line. You do this by starting with action, identify the main character or situation the character finds herself in, and foreshadow what’s to come.
Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, has a nose for mystery. When money is embezzled and her daughter is suspected, then the mayor disappears then is found dead, she is more than curious. Can Carly figure out who is behind all this, or will the killer succeed in shutting her up forever? Available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com
Today’s guest is Janice Thompson. When we met at Colorado Christian Writers Conference, she was already an established author and greatly encouraged me. Janice is a Christian author from Spring, Texas. She loves to add faith and humor elements to all of her stories. You can connect with Janice online at www.janiceathompson.com or on Facebook at Janice Hanna Thompson
First, a few words about my world: I am 15,500 words into my 50K April writing challenge. That’s 31% when I would like to be at 33%, but not too bad!
I’m sponsoring a month-long giveaway of Love Is Patient on Goodreads. Check out the widget and link I posted last week.
Now to hear from Janice: From her book, Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. (used by permission):
Before pitching that next idea to your agent or editor, answer this question about your book: Who needs/wants your message? If it’s middle-aged women, you’d better be connected to a few. If it’s teen girls, you’d better have access to hundreds of them. Otherwise, the publishing house might just wonder how you’re going to help them get the word out about your book.
Remember, you’ve got to establish trust with your reader. How do you go about doing that? As you are able, connect with your fans in social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. If someone takes the time to write to you, do your best to write back. If you receive a nasty review (particularly online) don’t lash out or respond out of anger. Take a deep breath. Again, the goal here is to establish trust with the reader.
You will find, particularly after you’ve had several books released, that a handful of fans will want to maintain a closer relationship than most. In my case, I took advantage of this situation. Folks who routinely showed up on my Facebook page to rave about my latest book became my tribe.
What’s a tribe you ask? It’s a group of close-knit readers who maintain relationship with you. Here’s how I work with my tribe. Each tribe member gets a free copy of my book when it comes out. They agree to post a review on amazon.com or elsewhere on the web. They chat about my book on their Facebook page or on Twitter. Best of all, they stay in touch with me, talking me through the rough times and encouraging me to keep going. They know they can trust me to keep putting out fun, quirky comedies, and I know I can trust them to be my support team.
Remember, this is all about relationship. I’m not talking about “faux” relationships, as in, “I’ll pretend to be nice to you so you’ll buy my book,” but real/genuine connections, as we’re able to make them.
It’s going to be a star-studded night at Club Wed. . .literally! Bella Neeley’s at it again, this time coordinating a celestial-themed wedding for a local female meteorologist and her groom, a quirky astronomer/scientist with his own TV show for kids. Scheduled the week before Christmas, this outdoor event is sure to wow guests and paparazzi alike. If the bride’s predictions are right–and when is the famed meteorologist ever wrong?–temperatures will be in the upper 60s on this starry, starry night. Will it be clear skies ahead, or will stormy weather threaten to spoil the big day? Join Bella for a Christmas wedding you’ll never forget!