Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

So Long, Farewell...


The time has come to end this blog, but I’m not ending my dedication to mentoring new writers. I’ve just come to the realization I can’t do it all and do it well. So I’ll still be covering writing over at my main blog, It’s Real Life.

Here is the schedule:

Monday It's Real Life

Tuesday Family

Wednesday Writing

Thursday Marriage

Friday Have you seen this? (Fun/or industry related stuff)

Saturday Teen

Please feel free to contact me via the contact page at my website if you have any questions you’d like answered or would simply like to send me a note.

We can also stay in touch via twitter (www.twitter.com/triciagoyer) or facebook (www.facebook.com/triciagoyer)

With Humble gratitude for your continued readership and support,

Tricia Goyer

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Boating Techniques: How to Adjust Tension


Guest Blogger: Ben Whiting! Read part 1 of Boating Techniques here.

In my last post I talked about varying the tension in your story. This time I want to examine a couple of examples in Harper Lee's classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, to find some concrete ways of doing that.

One way to increase or decrease the tension in a scene is to control the distance. As with our speedboat example, the further the reader is from the story, the less tension he or she will feel. When you bring the skier in close, the rope will be tauter even if the boat's actual speed is the same. Read the following example, paying attention to the distance and accompanying tension.

The remainder of my schooldays were no more auspicious than the first. Indeed, they were an endless Project that slowly evolved into a Unit, in which miles of construction paper and wax crayon were expended by the State of Alabama in its well-meaning but fruitless efforts to teach me Group Dynamics. What Jem called the Dewey Decimal System was school-wide by the end of my first year, so I had no chance to compare it with other teaching techniques. I could only look around me: Atticus and my uncle, who went to school at home, knew everything—at least, what one didn't know the other did. Furthermore, I couldn't help noticing that my father had served for years in the state legislature, elected each time without opposition, innocent of the adjustments my teacher thought essential to the development of Good Citizenship.

This portion of the story summarizes a long period of time. We as readers are not immersed in the action, seeing each action and reaction as it occurs—instead, we are held at arm's length and allowed to view the school year as a whole. While the narrator's disagreement with her teacher's methods is a source of tension, the space between story and reader alleviates some of the suspense. Contrast that scene with this next one, in which she and Jem are headed home alone in the dark:

“Jem, you don't hafta—”

“Hush a minute, Scout,” he said, pinching me.

We walked along silently. “Minute's up,” I said. “Whatcha thinkin' about?” I turned to look at him, but his outline was barely visible.

“I thought I heard something,” he said. “Stop a minute.”

We stopped.

“Hear anything?” he asked.

“No.”

We had not gone five paces before he made me stop again.

“Jem, are you tryin' to scare me? You know I'm too old—”

“Be quiet,” he said, and I knew he was not joking.

The night was still. I could hear his breath coming easily beside me. Occasionally there was a sudden breeze that hit my bare legs, but it was all that remained of a promised windy night. This was the stillness before a thunderstorm. We listened.

Notice the difference? This scene magnifies the tension by drawing in close to the action, focusing on details instead of the big picture. If the scene was written in summary form instead, the tension in the rope holding us as readers would slacken considerably.

You may have noticed that the inherent intensity of the action in each of these scenes is different. Scout's disagreement with her teacher does not have as much potential for tension as a walk home at night with a strange man lurking in the darkness. This is because Harper Lee knew what she was doing. The focus should narrow in the most important scenes, showing each individual action as it happens—telling virtually nothing. When a scene is less important and has less natural tension, more things should be told and fewer things shown.

Another technique used in the second section that increases the tension is the brevity of the sentences and words. Dwight Swain says in his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer, that the kind of writing and the words used are what convey tension to the reader. He advocates short words, sentences, and paragraphs to do this—“the tunnel vision that shuts out everything except the moment and the danger. The prolongation of crisis that stretches time like a rubber band.” The Harper Lee excerpts clearly illustrate this as well as the opposite—longer words, sentences, and paragraphs slow the pace down.

A final warning: varying the pace is good, but never slow down enough to let the rope touch the water. If you do, you will lose all the tension in your scene, and—what's worse—you will probably lose your readers as well.

Ben Whiting
Using Fiction to Illustrate Truth
http://twitter.com/benwhiting

Ben Whiting is a full-time English student at the University of Texas at Arlington and co-general editor of the award-winning collegiate publication Marine Creek Reflections. His current writing project, Penumbra, is a contemporary suspense novel that he hopes to finish over the summer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Introducing...Sunflower Serenade!

Book 12 in the Home to Heather Creek series! Look for it in July!


Details coming soon!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wise words from Mary DeMuth!


STORY IS KING.

A writer can mess up all sorts of things but pull off a compelling story and will win readers.

Does that mean we give up on craft? Absolutely not. But it does mean that we must think deeply about what makes a story compelling.

Take The Shack. How many people have grappled with the question of evil when it pertains to someone they deeply loved? There’s a relatability and universality there.

What about Twilight? How many teenage girls do you know who have felt unnoticed? Awkward? Insecure?

Tap into the deep longings of people’s lives where they live and spin a story that sweeps them inward and outward and you’ll pen stories that captivate.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Journey to publication...

I was blessed to be on faculty this year at Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. It was cool. VERY cool. In fact, teaching there has been a dream of mine for a while.

I attended my first Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 1994. At that conference I gazed up at the faculty members with adoration on my face. They were PUBLISHED which made them completely cool. I wanted to be like them. At the time I didn't know how much hard work, learning, and dedication it would take. Yet, I wouldn't change any part of the journey in getting from "there" to "here." It was through the journey to publication that I also grew closer to God. Amazing!

At the conference I spent the first three days in the Head Start Mentoring Clinic. I had an awesome time with Joan, LoraLee, Carol, Randy, Mary, and Joyce. I enjoyed helping each one along in their journey, and I can't wait to see where God takes them! (My group)

At the regular conference I critiqued manuscripts, met with new writers, and taught workshops. Oh yes, and I hung out with friends. (I love my writer/editor/agent friends!)

And ... one of the coolest things is that one of my local students, Alexa, attended the conference. I teach writing to homeschooled high schoolers every month, and Alexa has been in my class for four years. She's a great writer, and I was thrilled Alexa was able to come and learn from other teachers too.

Then, as a complete surprise to me, Alexa won BEST NEW WRITER! She was chosen by the other faculty members as the one who had impressed them the most. I felt like a proud mom sitting there, cheering her on. Congrats Alexa! (She's in the middle)



If you've every considered attending a writer's conference DO IT! And maybe if you're at Mt. Hermon's next year ... we can hang out, too! It's a date!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mommying and Writing: The Nitty Gritty - Foundations

I've been running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer! To read the previous posts, scroll down!

Majoring on the Foundations.

There is one more final way that both mothering and writing are intertwined and that’s in learning to major on the foundations. In fact, here are some parenting tips I learned that helped me on my writing journey too.

a. Foundation One: Focus on the heart. When it comes to raising kids we can do a lot to shape behavior, but it will do little good if we don’t focus on our children’s heart. What matters is that they learn to do the right thing because of the moral code that’s inside them, not because they’re worried about being punished.

In writing, it’s also important to focus on the heart … what does the reader need most? Is the reader going to pick up your book or article to be entertained? To learn something? To be encouraged? It doesn’t matter if you get all the mechanics right if you miss the main point.

b. Foundation Two: Everything happens in stages. We would not expect our children to run before they walk or drive a car before they learn to ride a bike. The same is true in writing. Too often we want to sell a novel to a major publisher and we haven’t studied the craft of writing. We want our first book to hit the bestseller’s list without understanding the most audiences are built book by book. Understanding stages encourages patience. Growth will happen in time. Small steps lead to larger ones.

c. Foundation Three: No comparisons. When my daughter was thirteen-months-old my husband came home to a weeping wife. “What’s wrong?” John asked.

“Leslie isn’t walking yet, and Madilyn has been walking since she was 10-months old.”

My husband’s advice was wise, “Honey, she will walk, and when the kids are five-years-old they’ll all be running around and no one will be able to tell who learned to walk first.”

This is good advice for the writing journey too. Some writers will get published before others. Some will get bigger advances or better contracts. Some writers will get media attention and others … won’t. The best thing to do is not compare. Ten years from now, twenty, your books will be sitting on the shelf next to everyone else’s and no one will be the wiser. Just as our journey as a mom is unique, so are our journeys as writers.

Looking back I’d have to say there one final HUGE advantage to having my kids surrounding me as I wrote. They watched as I stumbled my way through my dream of becoming a writer. I not only told them, “You need to follow your dreams” and “You need to work hard to achieve your goals,” I showed them. They see me work hard, and they see the end result ... books and articles! They also see how I’m using the dreams God placed in me to share the good news of Jesus with others. Life as a writer (and as a Christ seeker) has been a wonderful model for my children to follow. Now that they are older, it is no surprise that they are BIG dreamers who love serving God in their own special way!

So, Mom, go ahead and take a deep breath. You can do this. Your way. In your time. Also, remember … God is there with you, every step of the way.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mommying and Writing: The Nitty Gritty - Priorities

I've been running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer! To read the previous posts, scroll down!

Focus on Priorities.

Another thing that has helped me focus on both Mommying and writing is prioritizing. In both cases it’s easy to get caught up in “good things” while missing out on the “best things.” This is a mistake I made for many years. In the publishing business there are always trends—things that are hot at this moment. There have been romance trends, sci-fi trends, teen novel trends, and everything in between. My natural instinct was to look at a trend and think I can do that. Then I’d set to work trying to produce something that fit with what the editors seemed to be looking for. The only problem was often I wasn’t writing out of passion, I was writing for publication. And it showed. A second problem was that by the time my stuff was ready to be submitted the trend had run its course (either that or the market was flooded) and those projects were no longer needed.


The same is proved true in parenting. There were “trends” around me—things others were getting their kids involved it that seemed like a great idea at the time. There was the t-ball trend, the ballet trend, the art class trend, and the karate trend. Again my tendency was to go with the crowd instead of considering my kids’ natural talents and interests.


In both cases, it took stepping back and considering. What am I designed to write? What are my kids designed to do? Through the process I learned that what God had designed me to do was unique from what everyone else was doing. And that He’d created my kids with natural giftings, too. So as I studied my kids, I learned how to better study myself and my writing. And as I focused on what I was called to write, I also became more aware of the areas I needed to encourage in my kids. And as I focused on priorities in both areas I became better at doing both. I also had more time to spend doing things that would matter most five years down the road. Things like family dinners, and Bible Studies, and afternoon picnics at the park.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mommying and Writing: The Nitty Gritty - Buddies

For the next two weeks I'll be running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer!

Writing Buddies.

Sometimes as a mom you long for “adult” conversation during the day. As an author, there are also times when you hope for someone to talk to who understands the business of writing. I was blessed to find many friends who understood both.

The “One Heart” group was made up of various women I’d met at my first Mt. Hermon’s Writer’s conference. We have been emailing each other for fifteen years now, and our friendship is strong. It was to these women that I turned to for parenting advice, writing help, and prayer needs. They were the ones who encouraged me during seasons when I felt like giving up my dreams of publication. They kept me accountable when I had deadlines to meet. They prayed with me through tough stuff. They rejoiced when my dreams came through.

As Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “ … a cord of three strands cannot be broken.” These women started out as writing buddies, but they became friends for life. I count on them and they count on me, and I can’t imagine walking this path without them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mommying and Writing: The Nitty Gritty - Goals

For the next two weeks I'll be running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer!

Set monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

I learned the value of goal setting with small deadlines, which has helped with larger ones. For example, when I was mainly writing parenting articles I’d make a goal like: “Write one article and three query letters this month.” Then I’d break it into small segments. My weekly goal may have been, “Write rough draft of article” or “Look through market guide to find five new markets to write for.” Daily goals might be, “Write five hundred words” or “Interview a parenting expert.”

Sometimes I’d write my goals, and other times I’d just make note of them in my mind. Some days I had an hour to write, and other days thirty minutes, yet since I was firm in not changing my goals, I’d just sit down and write fast. The more I did this, the easier it was. I also strove to write well. I’d write as if I was writing the finished piece. I made it as close to “the real thing” as possible. This led to less editing later.

I set small goals throughout the day, and I discovered a timer was a friend. Even on days when I didn’t feel like writing (especially if I was staring at a blank page), I’d tell myself, “Turn on the timer for thirty minutes, write, and see how far you get.” Most of the time I surprised myself by how much I could do during a thirty minute stretch. Other times I discovered that after thirty minutes I was in the mood to write, and I kept going. I’d then reward myself for a job well down with a nice cup of coffee or a few minutes to relax with a magazine while the kids watched a movie. Bigger goals reached were rewarded with dinner out with my husband or a girls’ day out with my friends.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mommying and Writing: The Nitty Gritty - Kids and Chores

For the next two weeks I'll be running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer!

Kids and Chores.

Since I homeschooled and had kids home all day, trying the keep the house perfectly clean was impossible. Instead, I tried to find a balance between letting things go (like messy rooms) until the end of the day. I also incorporated chores into our daily routine. At each age-level I figured out what things the kids could do to help, and made it fun. For example, when my oldest was two he put away our non-breakable dishes. At three he set the table. At five I taught him how to load the washing machine. (An angel sticker on the washer told him where he needed to turn the knob to turn it on.)

It did take time to teach my kids, but the older they got the more independent they became. By the time my kids were in elementary school I could direct them to set the table or make a salad for dinner with full confidence that it would be done. Training them in chores freed up more time for me to write, it also gave them important skills that they’ll carry into life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mommying and Writing: The Nitty Gritty - The Calendar

For the next two weeks I'll be running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer!

The Calendar.

One of the first things I did to make more time for writing was to gain control of my calendar. I started by looking at my month and filling in all the necessary appointments: doctor appointments, homeschool field trips, church events. The next thing I did was to pick “town” days. Since town was a 30-minute drive, I’d try to plan one day for errands such as the library and post-office. This not only saved fuel, it save time. When something needed to be done, I didn’t run into town then. I put it on the list for the next time.


I also organized my daily schedule.

6:00 – 7:00 a.m. Quiet time

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast and get kids dressed

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Devotions with kids and Bible reading

9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Chores.

No, I didn’t not always stick to that schedule. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I even got close. Yet, it did help me plan. It gave me guidelines for my day and helped me become disciplined. I didn’t turn on Regis and Kelly and watch it for an hour, because once I figured out my goals I knew that adding that in would mean cutting something else out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mommying and Writing

For the next two weeks I'll be running a 'Mommying and Writing' series. Just a few things I've learned along the way as both a Mommy and a Writer!


When talking about mommying and writing the word I hear most often is after:

After the baby is weaned.

After the toddler is potty-trained.

After my kids are in school.

After my kids are out of school and off on their own.

Is it possible to write professionally and be a mom? Will one suffer? Will both? Actually, as a mom of three school-aged kids and author of 18 books I've discovered both benefit!

My Story
My journey to becoming a published author started when I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third baby. A former teen mom, I’d never considered being an author until a friend from church told me she was working on a novel. I love writing. Is that something I could do professionally?

I started reading books on writing, and then I had an opportunity to attend a writer’s conference. It was three weeks before my baby was due, and I attended with great expectations. I was sure the year would birth a new child and a new career. The child came a week early, but the career took a bit longer. Yet, I didn’t give up. Sometimes I woke before the kids to write. Other times I wrote while they napped. I wrote about things happening in my life, and although only one thing was published during the next three years, I learned a lot. Mostly, that I could balance writing and kids. All it took was motivation and a little time management.

The Benefits:
What I didn’t realize when I first started writing was how much I would benefit as a writer from having my kids at home. Parenting put me into the “real” world. I dealt with kids, with neighbors, with preschool groups, with people at church. I chatted with other moms about their struggles. I faced struggles of my own.

Mommy authors cannot sit at a desk all day and just write. We fix meals, change diapers, say “no” a hundred times a day (and an occasional “yes”), and we give lots of hugs. Yet it’s in living in this real world that we discover stories. In fact, the “real struggles” I had became the inspiration for articles I wrote. If I was struggling with picky eaters, teaching my kids to share, or dealing with a reluctant reader I figured other parents were too. Knowing this, I’d query a magazine and propose an article about one of those topics. Then, once the editor said he/she was interested I’d contact parenting authors or other professionals and get advice. Yes, that’s right, I’d get free advice from the pros for the very things I was struggling with. Then I’d get paid to write about it. How cool is that?

Another benefit of writing and being a mommy has been to my production level. Believe it or not, writing with kids at home has taught me how to produce … more. When the kids were small I’d sit down and write knowing I’d only have 30 minutes tops. So I didn’t dawdle. I focused. I worked. I put words on paper and I figured out systems to help me write fast.

And now … I’m going to share some of these systems with you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tension, Pacing, and Speedboats


Guest Blogger: Ben Whiting!

Every good story has some degree of underlying tension. Even in a character-driven novel like Pride and Prejudice, which is totally devoid of exploding helicopters and other modern action conventions, is full of internal and external conflict. The question is not if? but how much?

Think of your story as a speedboat. You, as the author, are the pilot of this speedboat, charged with controlling both the speed and direction of your story at all times. The reader is pulled along behind you as a water-skier and is free to let go of the rope at any point. Your job is to keep the ride interesting—by taking unexpected turns or traveling at break-neck speeds. Another method of maintain interest is alternating your speed, which is our focus here.

The first reason to vary the speed at which you pull your reader is simple: boredom. Going at the same pace through an entire novel, no matter how gripping that pace may be initially, will sooner or later grow tiresome to the reader. Clich├ęs are avoided for the same reason. Variety is the spice of life. Familiarity breeds contempt. We've heard these self-condemning sayings so many times they have lost their impact, and a constant pace in your story will have the same affect.

Perception is the other reason speed variation is important. You need go no further than your local highway to test this theory. To the pedestrian standing on the side of the road, sixty miles and hour is very fast. To a passenger in a car going ninety-five, sixty seems as slow as dial-up Internet access. By taking advantage of this comparative aspect of pacing, an author can make an already tense portion of the story seem even more intense.

Ben Whiting is a full-time English student at the University of Texas at Arlington and co-general editor of the award-winning collegiate publication Marine Creek Reflections. His current writing project, Penumbra, is a contemporary suspense novel that he hopes to finish over the summer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Go back and be happy!

My good friend Margaret McSweeney's latest book is out. She co-wrote Go Back and Be Happy with Julie Papievis. Visit Julie's site to read more about her incredible story!

Also, pop over to Margaret's site and enter to win a copy of the book!

ABOUT JULIE:

In Julie Papievis' words:

Traumatic brain injury is the number one killer of persons under the age of 44. Every twenty one seconds, someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States. As a result, 5.3 million Americans are living with a disability from TBI. This non-discriminatory injury changes life in an instant.

On May 10, 1993 my life was changed forever because someone ran a red light. Featured on Lifetime's "Beyond Chance", CNN, Woman's Day Magazine, and top ranked WB's WGN News, my story is gaining national attention. After a life-threatening car accident, I suffered a severe brain stem injury and medically died, rating a "3", the lowest number possible on the Glascow Coma Scale. According to medical experts, 96% of the people with such a severe injury either die or remain permanently comatose. The few who survive typically face a non-functional life. I completely beat the odds even though I remained in a coma for over a month.

Paralyzed and unconscious, I was transferred to the locked brain injury wing of a rehabilitation facility, where I awakened with vivid memories of my near death experience. During "death" I saw my grandmothers in heaven. They instructed me to "Go back and be happy" and assured me that my body would heal. Although medical experts said I would never walk again, or be able to take care of myself, I didn't listen. I believed the words of my grandmothers.

Through extensive therapy, I relearned how to stand, walk, and swallow. However, I faced the daunting challenge of facing the able-bodied world as a disabled person. After overcoming paralysis and battling severe depression, I embraced my gift of recovery as a true miracle.

In 1999, I ran in a 5K race near Chicago on Mother's Day! In February 2007, I completed my first triathlon. I have become an advocate for other survivors looking for hope and guidance. I work with the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois, and am a peer advisor to the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse. As a VIP member (voice for injury prevention) for the national program of ThinkFirst, I speak to students about injury prevention and safe driving. I volunteer at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in their Peer Support Program. I currently work part time as a community relations advisor for a top Chicago law firm.

I hope my story of faith and determination offers an inspirational and practical approach to dealing with sudden changes in life. Like an oyster, I transformed the unexpected "grit" in my life into a precious pearl.

Visit the author's website.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



A Wrecked Life: May 10, 1993 at 6:55 p.m.

Pulling her short brown hair, Toni Rapach screamed over the blaring song on the car radio, “Honk your horn, TJ! Hurry! Honk your horn!”

The couple watched in disbelief as a large burgundy Oldsmobile Cutlass ran a red light and violently struck the driver’s side of a small, white Mazda sports car turning left out of a shopping mall in a Chicago suburb.

Toni jumped from her car and shouted “Somebody call 911!”

An older couple raced toward the accident scene. The wife shouted over to Toni, “We’re calling 911 right now on our cell phone, and my husband’s a doctor!” In 1993, a mobile phone was not a common item.

Toni burst into tears when she looked into the Mazda and saw an unconscious young woman with a mane of blonde hair. She watched helplessly as the woman’s head lay against the chest as if it was disconnected from her body. Toni turned around and shouted, “Please somebody help!” “This poor girl and her family,” she sobbed. “They will never be the same.”

The gathering crowd rushed to the crumpled car and tried to open the driver’s door which was streaked with burgundy paint from the Oldsmobile. The forceful impact left both axles broken on the Mazda. A man ran to the other side of the car and managed to climb into the tangled debris. As he reached behind to pick up the young woman’s head, the doctor instructed, “Don’t move her.”

“I’m an off-duty paramedic,” the man answered in a calm and confident manner. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Go ahead then. I’m here if you need anything.”

The off-duty paramedic happened to be a block away from the accident scene getting his tires fixed. He lifted the woman’s head from her chest and cleared the airway so oxygen could pass to the brain. At 6:57 p.m., just two minutes after the accident, firefighters and paramedics arrived in a whir of sirens and flashing lights. Realizing the severity of the accident, Lieutenant Jim Streu radioed in a call to the station, “Extrication equipment is needed at the scene. Send in the fire truck.”

Paramedics Greg Sauchuk and Randy Deicke leaped out of Ambulance 61. Racing to the scene with his first aid box, Greg said, “Oh, man. This is really bad.”

They faced a “Trauma Red” and time was a major concern. Two minutes of the “Golden Hour” had already ticked away. Comprehensive medical treatment within that golden hour was imperative to offer any hope. Opening the first aid box, Greg removed some medical instruments to assess the woman’s condition. He recognized his off-duty paramedic friend who was holding the woman’s neck from the back seat of the car. Chips of sparkling glass surrounded the Mazda like Mardi Gras beads. Reaching through the blown out window, Greg said, “Tom, how did you manage to even climb into this pretzel? Thanks for stabilizing her neck and clearing the airway.”

Greg checked the woman’s breathing and said, “Amazing. I feel a pulse. She doesn’t need CPR.”

Lifting the woman’s eyelids, Greg checked the pupils with a small flashlight. They didn’t react. “Pupils dilated and fixed,” Greg reported to Randy and then shouted, “Hey, Miss! Can you hear me?!”

The woman remained silent. With his large six foot three, 245 pound frame, Greg pressed his fist into the woman’s chest. She didn’t even flinch.

“Patient is unresponsive to pain with sternum rub,” Greg said. “She scores a 3.” Greg rated the woman on the Glasgow Coma Scale, a quick, practical and standardized system developed in 1975 for assessing the level of consciousness and predicting the ultimate outcome of a coma. A three was the lowest score out of a possible fifteen.

“I’ll check her vitals,” Randy said as he wrapped the vinyl cuff around the woman’s arm to check for blood pressure. He placed the stethoscope on the inner arm and pumped the rubber ball. No reading. He tried again. “I can’t even hear the blood flow,” Randy said and shook his head while placing his fingertips on the woman’s artery to check for a pulse. “Patient’s palpable blood pressure is only eighty. Not good. Looks like a traumatic brain injury. Probably brain stem. Elevated heart rate is 120. This is bad guys. She’s in shock. Possible internal damage. After this car door is off, let’s do a ‘scoop and run.’”

Within a minute, the fire truck arrived with the “jaws of life” equipment. Al Green, another paramedic was also on the truck along with firefighter, Tony Pascolla. Tony lifted the forty pound Hurst equipment and steadied the hydraulic spreader as he ripped open the car door from its hinges. “I’ll be done in two minutes,” Tony shouted over the loud noise.

The paramedics decided against calling a helicopter since time was essential. Due to the severity of injuries, they agreed to take the woman to a Level I Trauma Center instead of the nearest hospital. Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois was fourteen miles away. They knew that neurosurgeon, Dr. John Shea was her only hope. The ambulance left the scene at 7:12 p.m and arrived at 7:25 p.m. Randy, Greg and Al pulled the stretcher out of the ambulance and ran into the emergency entrance to hand the woman over to the trauma team. “She’s posturing!” Randy said. They watched as the woman started extending her arms and legs in primitive reflexes, a sign that her body could not regulate itself. She then urinated all of the water from her body, soaking the stretcher, and started agonal breathing, the last breaths taken before dying.

As Greg walked back with Randy and Al toward the ambulance, he glanced over his shoulders at the lifeless body being carted away by the trauma team. “Dear God,” he prayed. “Please help her through this. Just help her through this.” He climbed into the driver’s seat and left the hospital. He’d seen it before. He knew firsthand that traumatic brain injury is the number one killer of people forty-four years old and younger.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Advice for Novelists (Part 64)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"


Today multi-published author Lorena McCourtney shares her response. This came from an interview I did with her for TitleTrakk.com. To read the full piece click here.


I think persistence is more important than talent. But by that I don’t mean just persistence in sending the same manuscript out over and over (although that can be important too!). I mean persistence in learning the craft, in reading widely and studying what you read, and persistence in actually finishing something. Not just writing great beginnings and then jumping to something else. And persistence in actual writing, not just talking about writing, or being on writers’ loops, but actually writing.
--Lorena McCourtney, author of Here Comes the Ride, Your Chariot Awaits, the Ivy Malone mystery series, and more. Visit her online at her website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mt Hermon!

Are you going?

I'm so excited! I've been chosen to be a mentor at the 1st annual Mount Hermon Christian Headstart Mentoring Clinic April 1-3, 2009

The Mount Hermon Writing Conference has done so much for me...if you go to one conference next year. Make it this one! More info, here!

Headstart Mentoring Clinic Combines with Mount Hermon's 40th Annual Writers ConferenceFor 39 years, Mount Hermon has created an exhilarating laboratory for training writers, whether unpublished or professional and this year has become the only place that offers help to writers at three stages:

Now They're Offering:
1) The Headstart Mentoring Clinic immediately before the spring Writers Conference for the beginning writer (application required), providing 100 percent takeaway through small group critiquing and one-on-one mentoring.

2) The Spring Writers Conference for all levels of writing proficiency, providing a wonderful overview to writing, editing and publishing (including a mentoring track with personalized attention to the intermediate writer who knows where he/she wants to go--application required).

3) The Professional Track during Spring Writers Conference providing seasoned veterans with new motivation and challenges.


Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center
PO Box 413
Mount Hermon, CA 95041
831-430-1238
www.mounthermon.org/writers

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Article Publishing 101!

Q: I have some articles I'd like to write. How do I go about getting them published? Do I just write them and send them around? Do I post them on my blog and try to get publishers interested? Help!

A: The *one thing* you need to do to break into magazine publications is to study key magazines completely and then tailor a unique article to fit their readers/needs/tone/style. Let me explain why you should do this, instead of trying what you suggested.

I tell my students that when most people approach article writing they do it as a knitter who is making a sweater. The knitter gets a pattern, picks out the yarn, and creates a perfectly beautiful sweater. After it's finished, the knitter decides she wants to sell it. So she sends it around to one hundred different people to try out. The truth is that even though the sweater is great, it doesn't fit 75% of the people. And of the 25% of the people it does fit, they don't really like the style. If by chance it fits someone and they like the style, there is always the problem of color. Out of the 100 people, there might be one in which the fit, style, and color is perfect ... and they might buy it. The problem is the 99 other rejections often wound the knitter's ego, and she's off to say ... crochet.

Better yet is to get Sally Stuart's Market Guide--or The Writer's Market--and target interesting publications. After picking your favorites, study those pubs until you know their unique fit, style, and color. Only then do you query the publication concerning article ideas. And ... once you have them hooked ... only then do you craft a sweater (or article!) that fits their needs.

This takes a lot of work at first, but out of the 1,000 knitters ... err writers ... who approached the pub, they will love you and come back to you again!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference discount!!!!!!!!

I just found out about this from Camille Cannon Eide from the Christian Authors Network...

Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, being held April 3-7 2009, has made a tremendous offer. If you have never been to this conference, and if you register to attend between March 9-April 1, and if you mention on your registration form that someone already registered (like me or someone else that you know) invited you, you will receive $200 off the price of the conference!

The regular cost varies according to your room choice, it ranges from $845 and up - so minus $200 if you take them up on this offer and attend this 5 day conference for $645. This price includes EVERYTHING: conference tuition, materials, accommodations, totally excellent food, (it is really good!) snacks between sessions, and all the editor/agent appointments and high quality workshops, morning tracks and keynote evening sessions you would expect from a professional writer's conference. The morning mentoring tracks are awesome too (10 students-to-1 teacher, intense daily critique sessions) but you need to sign up for those ahead of time and those cost a little extra.

Check out the conference here: http://mounthermon.org/adult/professionals/writers-conference/

But even though it is a professional conference, the atmosphere is casual, serene and inviting. Mt Hermon is a sprawling, secluded campground nestled into a gorgeous redwood forest and includes scenic hiking/running trails. The evening sessions are awesome, beginning with a sweet time of worship. (I love it when hundreds of people from various places and backgrounds worship the Lord together...makes me think of what it will be like in heaven...) The setting is beautiful, peaceful and inspiring! Of course, the company isn't bad either. You'll meet editors, agents and Christian writers from every facet of the media. I came away with some great friends whom I still keep in contact with. It really is a wonderfully inspiring conference. I came away from it last year full, excited, changed and inspired.

If you sign up, I or the person you mention will get to share in the savings too. So everyone will benefit! If you have never been to Mt Hermon and you register BETWEEN MARCH 9 and APRIL 1st and give the name of the person who invited you, that person will also get $200 refunded back from our conference cost. I think this is a huge offer on their part, and certainly makes going to a high quality Christian writer's conference more affordable for us all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Advice for Novelists (Part 63)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Roxanne Henke: Actually, I’d say two things.

1. Read.
Analyze good books. What makes them resonate with you? Pull apart the not-so-great books. What would you do to make that book sing?

2. Write.
Day-dreaming about writing isn’t writing. You need to sit in a chair, in front of a keyboard and put words on paper (or a computer screen). Only by writing will you find your “voice” and tell your stories. I’ll say it again, read and write.

--Roxanne Henke, author of Learning to Fly, the Coming Home to Brewster series, and more. Visit her website here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I need help getting started...

Yesterday I was asked the question "I'm writing a non-fiction book. I'm stuck in trying to create a vibe rather than just write it so it can be edited, any jump start tips?

Here are my top five ‘getting started’ tips for writing non-fiction."

1. Start typing and write out your message as if you're explaining the topic to someone you care about.

2. Write down everything you KNOW about the subject. (It may be more than you think!)

3. Split up your ideas into topics. Separate these topics into chapters.

4. Ask your friends (real or on-line) their thoughts on the subject. It's great to open up conversation.

5. Read a non-fiction book you love ... read until you get the rhythm and then start YOUR story on the page.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fiction should sound real!


This great advice is from Barbara Warren's February newsletter! Very good advice!

WRITING TIP OF THE MONTH:The writing tip this month will actually be a list of tips. Things we may know but need to remember.

Fiction is not reality, but it should sound real. We are asking the reader to suspend belief to accept what we write. If we do a good job, readers will believe, at least until they finish reading the story, that there really is life on some far out planet and they will identify with it. The reader will accept that animals can talk, that elephants can fly, or dinosaurs can be created with DNA from a fossil. But what we write must seem to be realistic. You, as a writer, are asking the reader to believe in something impossible, and that's fine, but those talking animals must have a human quality the reader can recognize and identify with. There must be universal feelings we all know and perhaps have experienced. If your reader identifies with your character he will care about what happens to this fictional person, even if the "person" is a robot, or an animal, and keep on reading about him. That's what we all want.

Don't be afraid to let your characters talk, and know them well enough you have some idea of how they sound. Your book needs to be at least ½ dialogue. Listen to the way people talk. Write down distinctive phrases and words. Don't let your characters speak perfect English. Let them talk the way you and the people around you talk. Resist the urge to have a character make a speech. Most of us don't hold forth sentence after sentence, unless we're angry and lining someone out. (in that case, I can go on for thirty minutes without taking a breath) Break up long passages of dialogue with action or another character speaking. Dialogue reveals what your character is like. So turn them loose and let them talk.

Don't have your character walk into a room and then stop while you, the writer, describes every stick of furniture, every ornament, and even the pattern in the wallpaper. Your reader will probably skip this. Instead have the character sit down in the red leather chair and pick up a letter opener and start opening the stack of mail. Let the canary in the cage by the window overlooking the river start to sing. Let your character glance at the gold-framed mirror and brush back her honey gold hair. Don't do all of this in the same paragraph of course, but pick two or three details and show them through your reader's actions.

Try not to have a grocery list of every thing the character does. She opens the door, walks down the steps, turns right at the sidewalk, walks to the car, opens the door on the driver side and gets in, turn the key, starts the motor and drives away. Just have her walk out, get in her car and leave. Let the reader use her imagination to fill in the rest.

Write for the eye. Before writing is read, it is seen. Long paragraphs of description or introspection, or even dialogue signals to the reader that this is something he can skim. Do you read every word in a half page paragraph? I didn't think so. So give the reader some white space. Break up those long paragraphs. Don't give that reader the slightest reason to skim one word of your wonderful prose.

And above all, keep writing. Try to write something every day. Don't write one book, send it out, and then never write again until you sell that one. The only way to keep our writing muscles in shape is to exercise them. Put the seat of the pants in the seat of the chair and pound that keyboard. That's the way to grow and develop your writing talent.

And read, read, read. Read books on writing, read in your genre, and read nonfiction to enlarge your perception of the world. God gave us the talent. Our job is to develop it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Advice for Novelists (Part 62)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Today we hear from a beloved author, Francine Rivers. Her advice comes from an interview C.J. did for TitleTrakk.com. If you'd like to read the full piece it can be found here. In the mean time, here's her response:"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"Commit your work to the Lord. Stay in Scripture every day so you’re being formed by it. That formation will come through in your writing in a natural way. The redemption story is the greatest story to tell. That’s what I think everyone hungers for, whether they know it or not. I believe God puts something in us to crave a relationship with Him. People tend to look in every possible place for the answer, and they’re not going to find it until they meet Jesus. The way I felt when I became a Christian was, “Finally I found what I’m looking for! I feel at home here. This is what I’ve been seeking my whole life.”

--Francine Rivers, bestselling author of Redeeming Love, the Mark of the Lion series, and many others. Visit her website here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where we're going ...

As someone who has done it all marketing-wise (newsletters, events, signings, mailings, blog tours, interviews, national media, social networking, whew) I'm taking a step back and focusing on "big picture" thinking. With many books in various genres I've given as much to each one as possible ... which is great, but very tiring. I felt like the tail was wagging the dog.

Currently, I'm trying to work smarter, not harder by considering who I am and my vision/mission. Even though I write in many genres there are some heart-messages that come through no matter what I write.

Because I'm focusing on my heart-messages, I'm using that as a core for everything I do. In the future my marketing efforts will work together, each book building up my core message. I won't market to a genre, instead I'll use each genre to promote the vision I desire to share with an audience. (Key work here being "plan.")

All that to say this is still in-process, but one I'm very excited about!

What you can be sure of is that you'll be seeing some changes. Maybe in the look of things. Maybe in the number of blogs I do. Maybe in the newsletters I send out. But hopefully the streamlining will help me to share my heart-message better and clearer ... and you'll get the nuggets without all the chaff!

I'm excited!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Proven Internet Marketing Techniques

From the CAN Marketing blog!

Another Monday morning tip from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com

Internet marketing is probably one of the greatest resources authors have besides the powerful word of mouth. Another article that caught my eye had some ideas that I expanded to fit author’s needs. Below are five marketing techniques that have been proven to work. Make sure your promotion and message are attractive, communicate with action, and point to customers' needs

1. Offer an irresistible free gift. Make sure the customer signs up for your newsletter to receive this gift. Though it can be digital or audio, occasionally a physical gift which gives you addresses -- and can help you organize a book tour in the areas where you have the most readers. Whatever you give them, make it worthwhile. Perhaps you could offer them a discount coupon if they order a book through you.

2. Craft e-mail messages that spark emotions and action. If you're not excited about your project or message neither will the visitor to your web page be. Make sure the subject line of your email is catchy and bring the message in the email to life with your own enthusiasm. Give them reasons to relate to your books or message.

3. Create an online sales page that moves people to action. Using links to your books at on-line book stores is an active way to help those interested in purchasing or reading more about your book, but don't forget that being an affiliate will also bring in some revenue for you. It's not that difficult to sign up for those programs and to use the links that will identify you as the source of the sale.

4. Use auto-responders to build relationships and extend offers. Many subscription and notification features provide an automatic response to the subscriber so they know they have been successful. If you can personalize with a thank your for subscribing, all the better. Making the reader or responder feel as if you care is a key to them being faithful to you as a customer. Keep the tone friendly and always provide a way for them to opt out.

5. Build your potential customer list with joint ventures, affiliates, and social media. Once again networking is important and places like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Shoutlife offers the opportunity to form groups of fans and groups for genre-oriented readers and also they allow you to send bulletins, events and blogs that they will receive on their homepages that will allow you to advertise your books and your appearances.

If you'd like to read the original article by Christine Comaford, Click here: Five Proven Internet Marketing Techniques I have taken this information and geared it more for authors and I hope you find it helpful.

Guest Blogger...Jennifer Devlin


Hey, friends! Jennifer Devlin here again with encouragement as you continue your publicity trek. Today let’s decide we won’t live in fear of rejection. Fear. Now there’s a topic we think of often but don’t mention much. Let’s just go there for a minute, shall we?

As a self professed “chicken momma” I guess I’m sort of the armchair expert on the issue of fear. Learning to move past my own sense of shortcomings and resolving to step out in faith has been my daily mountain to climb for years. With each step, I find God to be incredibly merciful and completely faithful. My obedience partnered with His equipping results in a life greater than I ever imagined.

What about you? Are you conquering fear, or is it conquering you?

Not sure? Take a look at how you approach publicity and marketing. Press kits, book signings, blog tours, postcards, websites, social networking, and all the other avenues we discuss on this blog are great. But, if God is calling you to step out in a different direction from the crowd, and you don’t try it because you aren’t sure how it will end up, isn’t that hesitation the same thing as fear? Fear of the unknown result?

Sometimes the publicity we have become accustomed to is the comfort zone keeping us from where God would have us go. Our press kits can become a self-loving packet of kudos and creativity that does nothing more than stroke our own ego – if it lacks the message that will meet the need of the reader.

If we live by human accolades, running around in our comfort zone, afraid of stepping out into unfamiliar waters, are we living above fear, or simply denying its presence?

If we live a life where we simply thrive on “believing our own press” (or press kit quotes), we dwell in the land of the human. The temporal. The limited. Let’s you and me decide to live above the fray – in the flow of God’s Spirit – in the place where God is allowed to move on our behalf, because we’ve set fear aside and pressed on in spite of our insecurities.

Read the rest here!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Advice for Novelists (Part 61)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

I'm pleased to feature a publicist's perspective:Vicky Welch!

Remember that writing is just the beginning. When your book is accepted by a publisher and the manuscript is complete, your second job begins. It's time to market yourself! Many authors would love to leave it up to your publicist, and that may be possible, but many of the most successful authors I've worked with are masterminds at self promotion.

Read the rest here!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Come Chat! TODAY!

Join me live on CWAHM Radio. 1.5 hr radio interview ... TODAY! http://bit.ly/bA9

You can send in your marriage questions for the interview to: jill@cwahm.com

Advice for Novelists (Part 60)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Lisa Samson enlightens us today with this response: My advice is really, really simple: Read well. Read at least five great books for every writing how-to book. Read the top quality writers in your genre. Don't waste time reading books you could have written with your present level of expertise.

--Lisa Samson, author of Embrace Me, the Hollywood Nobody series, and much more. Visit her online at her website here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Advice for Novelists (Part 59)

C.J. Darlington, co-founder of TitleTrakk, is running a great series on her blog: She started a series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) share their responses to this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Author Terri Kraus chimes in today: Remember that writing is an art, not a science. Don't obsess about "the rules". (That's what editor's are for!) Don't be paranoid about "getting it right." (There is no single right way.) Find your own voice. What you DON'T want is sounding like everyone else. Write with passion! Tell the story that's in your heart. Go out on a limb a little, and take some risks. That's how you get noticed.

--Terri Kraus, author of The Renovation, and many other novels. Visit her online at her website.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rules for transparency!

One label I heard often about my writing is transparency, yet the truth is that being transparent and sharing all is not always my first choice. Here are my rules for what I share on the written page:

1) I share MY experiences and do not put down other peoples' actions. I don't want to slander anyone, just share my story.

2) I ask permission. I had my husband and my kids read my mothering memoir Blue Like Play Dough before the draft was sent into the publisher. I also specifically asked permission to share some "challenging" moments in my kids' lives before I even wrote them.

3) Most of the stuff God asks me to share is stuff I'd rather keep hidden. I don't like spilling my flaws, but when I feel His Spirit nudging I know I need to follow. I've written about my abortion, teen pregnancy, and marriage struggles as a young woman. I wrote about a boyfriend popping up in my life less than five years ago. And then I spoke about it on Focus on the Family. (Yikes!) These are things that my flesh wanted to hide, yet God knew that my experiences could offer hope and healing to others.

4) Also, during the writing of my mothering memoir my editor Liz Heaney was a great judge of "depth/truth" in my writing. For example, things I wanted to skim over she made me take another look at. My assistant does this to me too. I can hear them even now, "Dig deeper." So sometimes the best way to share with transparency is to have another set of eyes reading your words and questioning motives/desires. Digging deeper makes the writing real, not showy and fake.

I hope that helps!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Using Twitter...more tips

Here is a slew of great advice from The Book Marketing Experts!


Tips For Using Twitter ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Bookgal.

If you've pondered using Twitter, but aren't sure how to use it effectively or if you've been on Twitter for a while and aren't sure if you're maximizing it as you should be, here are some quick tips to give you some great twittering-ideas:

· Teach stuff - teach a little mini-lesson on Twitter. Delve into your area of expertise or just talk about book publishing and how to get published. · Share sites or blogs that your followers would be interested in. Be their "filter" to new and exciting information.

· Use Tweetlater.com to post tweets to your account for later posting so you don't have to be sitting on top of Twitter every minute of the day.

· Use Twitter as a news source: you can easily announce news both from your world (as long as it relates to your topic) and from the world of your expertise. So for example I've done tweets on book industry stuff, breaking news, etc.

· Widen your network - follow other Twitter folk, this will not only give you some ideas for your own "tweets" but it's a great way to network with other writers or professionals.

· Offer advice: use Tweetdeck.com or Twitter Search ( search.twitter.com) to see who's asking for info on your area of expertise and then offer them some help/insight. This is a great way to build relationships.

· It's ok to market yourself but be careful about pimping your stuff too much.· Be Original, useful and helpful.

· If you're on tour with your book or doing an event, tweet on that and invite your local followers to attend.

· Tweet any good reviews your book gets, it's always fun to share the good stuff!· Every Tweet counts (don't tell people you're washing your cat) don't just tweet on useless stuff or you'll lose followers.

· It's not all about you (again, back to the cat) people want to know useful stuff, I know, it's getting repetitive but there's a reason: it's important.

· Promote your Twitter account in your email signature line and on your blog.

· Network: don't expect your followers to grow if you're not following other people. Network, search for others in your area and follow them.

· Personal is ok. Even though I said not to post useless information it's still not a bad idea to (from time to time) post a personal Tweet or two. Provide value and twitter-followers will beat a path to your door.

· Follow everyone who follows you. You can use sites like Socialtoo.com and Tweetlater.com to autofollow everyone who follows you. These services can also send a nice welcome message to your new followers.

· There is a lot of noise on Twitter, the sooner you get comfortable with that the better. It's like being at one massive cocktail party, you have to find ways to filter out the noise. Sites like Tweetlater can help you do that.

· Embed a link or some other sign up in your welcome message, this is another great way to capture emails for your newsletter (assuming you have one).

· Use sites like Tweetlater or Twitter Search to see who's talking about you and then follow them too or comment on their tweet.

· It's ok to repeat your tweets. With the volume of messages people get your followers will often miss some of your posts.

· Feed your blog through Twitter using Twitterfeed.com.

· Join Help a Reporter out @skydiver for tweets on media leads (it's a great service!).· Don't feel like you have to respond to every tweet, but I generally try to respond to all tweets that are replies to mine (you can find these under @replies on your Twitter home page).

· Want to stay on top of your market and find stuff to Tweet about? Then go to Alltop.com and search for your category. There are thousands of them up there. Here are a few to consider: socialmedia.alltop.com, twitter.alltop.com and publishing.alltop.com.

· Review a product or book on Twitter.

· Follow big names in your market on Twitter: this will often bring in their followers too and you want to see what the "big guys" are up to.

· Get a good picture: don't leave your avatar blank. Personalize your page if you can but a good Twitter picture is a must.

· Tweetbeep.com is a lot like Google alerts. You can plug in your keywords and you're pinged each time they are used.

· Are you ready to add pictures to your Tweets? Then head on over to Twitpic.com, this site will let you upload pictures and tweet to them.

· Videos can also be shared on Twitter and 12seconds.tv is a great way to record a video (12 seconds long, hence the name) and share it with your followers.

· Music on Twitter is also possible thanks to TwittyTunes: http://www.foxytunes.com/twittytunes/. This site is great for sharing music and it has a simple Firefox add-in that lets you Twitter on music you're currently listening to!· Keep Twittering, followers will come if you keep updating your Twitter account.

Not sure what to Twitter About? Check out these creative Twitter sites!http://twitter.com/celebritygossip
http://twitter.com/cookbook
http://twitter.com/books

More on Twitter
Twitter, the little micro-blogging site that could, has seen an enormous growth lately. Traffic to the site has nearly doubled in the last two months, seeing 1.2 million unique visitors per month. Twittering or micro-blogging (as it's commonly referred to) is getting bigger each day as applications for this form of promotion continue to grow. Don't believe me? http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2008/05/16/traffic-to-twitter-nearly-doubles-in-two-months.

Fun Twitter Stuff
If you're still confused about what Twitter is, check out this easy-to-understand YouTube video: Twitter in Plain English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o

Ready for more fun Twitter applications?
TwitterMail: http://twittermail.com/ - supplies you with a personal email address. If you send an email to that address it will be posted to Twitter.

Is Twitter a popularity contest? Yes, without a doubt. Find out how you rank in the grand scheme of Twitter fame: Twitter Quotient: http://web.forret.com/tools/twitter-tq.asp.

Find out if you're a Twitter hero or BIG zeroAddicted to Twitter? You're not the only one. Check out the most popular micro-blogs on Twitter: http://www.twitterholic.com/.

Ready to update Twitter from your phone? Check out Twitter Fone: http://www.twitterfone.com/.

Ready to follow some other Twitterers but not sure who you should be following? Head on over to Who Should I Follow, http://www.whoshouldifollow.com/, plug in your Twitter user name and it'll pop up results appropriate to your Tweets.

And if that's not enough, try following @mrtweet, when you do this service will send you back a list of people who are top in your category that you should follow. Tres cool!

Ready to make some quick cash? Twitter me this, http://www.twittermethis.com/, is a site that will ask a random question, if you're the first one to answer you win $5. Just enough for a latte. Not bad. I haven't won anything yet but I'm still hopeful.

If the Twitter-language has you confused check this out, it's every possible Twitter-term you'd ever want to know (and maybe a few you don't): http://www.sitemasher.com/smblog2/2008/10/my-twittonary-every-twitter-term-and.html.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fiction...Waste of Time?


Some people don't like fiction because it's "not real" and "a waste of time," but personally I think that well-written fiction can draw readers toward the gospel.

For example, in my first novel From Dust and Ashes I interviewed dozens of World War II veterans for research. Of course these men wanted to read the completed novel, so I sent each one a copy. Some of the men were Christian, some were Jewish, and some had no faith. Still, I didn't get one negative comment about the salvation message in the story. In fact, one Jewish man ordered many copies for all his friends!

In the book, I used the story of the Edelweiss to share the gospel. This flower is found in the high alps and young men would climb the mountains to bring back a flower for their true loves. Many a young lover died attempting to show his devotion. In my novel one character tells another, "Jesus is like that lover, yet he climbed that mountain knowing he was going to die to prove his love." In this book a Nazi officer's wife actually gets on her knees and accepts Christ.

One veteran wrote back listing 24 different "research" things I'd gotten right. Then he ended his letter by saying, "You did a great job writing this story, now can you tell me more about your faith in Jesus?" You can believe I wrote him back that day! Because I was diligent about getting the facts of his (the veteran's) story right the man was interested in HIS (Jesus') story. How exciting!

Also, years after it was published I also received an email from a Swiss girl who'd read the book in German. She said, "When Helene got on her knees and accepted Christ, I did too."

In writing historical fiction I've learned my reader will trust the author by the correct research ... and sometimes this trust can make an eternal difference.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Avoiding information dump in character descriptions!

Someone recently emailed me through my website and asked about how I describe my characters without going into lengthy descriptions. After all, if you are in a character's point-of-view you won't go into long descriptions of their hair, their clothes, etc.

I have nine novels published and two more that will be out this year. Personally, I use very small traits to describe point-of-view characters. For example:

"She tucked a strand of her curly hair behind her ear."

That's a simple example, but there are other ways to give hints of what the character looks. I try to stay in my character's point-of-view as closely as possible, and I only show things through their eyes/thoughts.

One way to share description is to relate how other people react to my character. For example, this is a few paragraphs near the opening of my book, A Shadow of Treason. The point-of-view character is Deion.

"They pressed on to what Deion assumed was the door to the basement. Though it was still in its frame, it was twisted and crushed. Cautiously he pushed against it, gaining mere fractions of an inch with each groaning effort. When he could finally see past it, four faces peered up at him. Two women, a young girl, and a baby blinked at him, as if trying to focus. Deion didn’t know if their wrinkled brows were due to the sunlight or the color of his skin. They’d most likely never expected a colored man to rescue them, especially after hearing the horrible tales of the Moors from Africa who fought with the Nationalists.

The woman studied Deion’s face for a moment, then slowly blinked her eyes and handed him the baby. He snuggled the sleeping child to his chest, and a warmth surged through his frame. He’d never felt more alive."

This shows that Deion is a colored man, and someone the other character's aren't expecting.

Here is another example of how I described the priest, Father Manuel. (All these examples are from A Shadow of Treason.) You can see how I slid in a few descriptions in with the action:

"The man motioned toward the steps of the council building, and they walked toward it. He turned and sat easily, while Father Manuel slowly lowered himself, feeling twice as old as his thirty years. Then the man pulled out two apples from his jacket pocket and handed one to the priest.

Father Manuel took the offering as his stomach rumbled. Without hesitation he silently mouthed a prayer of thanks and took a large bite, the sweet moistness filling his mouth. He wiped away the juice that escaped down his chin."

And here is one more:

"Ramona clung to the wooden sideboard of the canvas-covered truck as it chugged along the hilly road toward Bilbao, transporting injured soldiers to safety. The vehicle lurched to avoid a pothole, and she clung tighter, noticing that even though her hands looked red and raw from constantly scrubbing up for surgeries, her gold wedding band still sparkled in the light shining through the open back canvas."

This tells that Ramona is a nurse and married, without stating it outright.

As you can see, bits of description can be adding in to the story without it feeling like an information dump. I'd love to see an example of your writing. Leave it in the comment field.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Humbled...

I've been awarded...



from Rita Gerlach at Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers. "This award is given to writers whose novels, websites, and blogs contribute to the promotion of the historical genre. I am also awarding it to you for your outstanding writing."

Wow. What an honor. Thanks so much Rita and Stepping Stones!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Centurion's Wife


The

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Centurion's Wife

Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)

by

Davis Bunn and Janette Oke



ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.

He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.


Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.

After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.

Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.

She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brainstorming with friends.


Hi friends. I don't know if you caught my tweet yesterday about my filing to-do list, but while "getting things done" I came across this fun excersize for writers that I did at a retreat a few years ago.

Have a writing party...or just gather a few friends.

For you writers out there . . . have you ever thought of brainstorming with friends? You don't need a big number. How about 11 or the same could be done with half that number. (Yes, 5 1/2 authors would work fine.) Here's what we did. Try it!

The writer who is "up" gets 1 hour and 15 minutes. (We limit it to three a day, because our brains get fried.)

Then she uses about fifteen minutes to talk about the idea--sharing as much as she knows about plot, characters, setting, etc.

Then the writer explains her needs. Some people need help with minor plot points and others need ideas for the whole book. (Yes, I can claim in part the success of dozens of CBA authors :-)

This is when things get crazy, and we play the "what if" game. One person has an idea. If it's a great idea we build on it. Not-so-great ideas are put aside. Ideas fly around the table and plot, conflict, motivation, characterization forms before our very eyes. Excitement builds as we all jump in with our brilliance. People come up with things I never would have thought out, and then others build on that. And who knew, I even came up with a few good ideas too.

During the last twenty minutes, we stop all the ideas and ask everyone to write a "List of 10". This means on a sheet of paper we write down ten things the author can do with the book. It can be a list of scenes, or conflicts, or more ideas.

Finally, we go around and read our lists. Someone's one or two more ideas are thrown in, but for the most part our work is done.

What do you think? Is this something that could work for you?