Friday, April 29, 2016

Introducing @KARAISAAC & a #Giveaway of #CloseToYou


This is a blog post I have waited YEARS to post. In 2009, I (Jaime) received an email from a New Zealand author who was coming to my writer's conference and had been told she and I might be a good "writer-match". Little did we know that email would launch Kara Isaac and I into going on 7 years of die-hard communication, love, writing, family, sisterhood, and loyalty.

She called me last year--all the way from New Zealand, mind you--to tell me she'd been offered a contract for a book I'd fallen in love with the first time I'd read it. It was written under a different title then, but that was the call that brought Close to You into fruition. And, can I just say, this "call", was more like "omigosh, omigosh, omigosh" and "ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh I want to scream right now" and Kara declaring, "I'm hiding in a conference room at work trying not to be hysterical" (or something to that effect).

Now her book is on AMAZON!

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

So today, I have the great joy and treasure of introducing you to my writing sister, Kara Isaac.

__________________________________________

What authors do you like to read?

Ahhhh so many! That’s like asking me to pic a favorite child ;-) In women’s fiction I love Susan Meissner, Kate Morton, Lisa Wingate and Amy Sorrells. I read a lot of contemporary romance and am a fan of Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Carla Laureano, Katie Ganshert, Denise Hunter and Hillary Manton Lodge to name just a few.

What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart was the novel that helped me believe that there might be space for my voice in Christian fiction. Donald Maass’ Write The Breakout Novel was my first real craft book that I read that transformed my writing. Also Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s Rivet Your Readers With Deep POV. I’m about to start Allie Pleitner’s The Chunky Method because I really need to learn how to write in small gaps of time. Apart from that the biggest influence has just been reading widely and taking inspiration from wherever I find it :)

What’s more important: characters or plot?

I’m a very character driven writer. They are always what show up in my head first. As my critique partners know, plot often comes much much later! (to the point where sometimes I’m still working it out after the manuscript is supposedly written!)

For me the characters drive everything, until I know who the characters are and what compels them the plot just doesn’t come together.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author and what would it be?

I write romantic comedies but my characters still grapple with some very real issues. For example, the main characters in Close To You both struggle with forms of rejection, abandonment and not believing they are deserving of a second chance. However, I don’t think I could ever write a main character who suffers from an eating disorder. I had an acquaintance who died from anorexia in her late twenties and so I can’t see how something so life destroying could ever have a place in a more
light-hearted style story.

How important are names to you in your books and how do you choose them?
Names! Oh I’m so bad with names, especially of secondary characters! Main characters I usually settle on their names pretty quickly but in my first four manuscripts I had four different female characters named Kat and I didn’t even realize until someone pointed it out. Reading Close To You I’ve just realized that Jackson’s niece in Close To You and Emelia’s cousin in Can’t Help Falling (my October release) are both called the same thing as well!

What secret talents do you have? Because here at the CCC blog we have all kinds of them ;)

I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue – is that too much information? ;-) (and no you can’t have a photo!) I also make a great cheesecake.

What were you like as a child? Steady-going like our Anne, a tornado like Jaime, and adventurous soul like Erica, or an avid-reader like Gabrielle?


I was an avid-reader like Gabrielle. My absolute favorite place to be was the library. During school holidays my parents would just drop me off at our city one for hours at a time. There weren’t many things that would appeal more than reading a good book – I especially loved the adventure series. Nancy Drew, Hardy Books, Famous Five, Trixie Belden, Secret Seven were all much beloved so I’m sure I aspired to be an adventurous soul like Erica!

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

I regularly find myself into conversations I can’t get out of with my two very inquisitive children. My four-year-old especially has a mind like a steel trap and a great sense for when he’s not being told the whole story so he just asks and asks until he’s satisfied. That has been fun recently with some pointed questions about where his new cousin came from! I’ve give up trying to obfuscate and just started telling him the truth (in limited detail) and then I just wait for it to come back and embarrass me.

We were in the hospital recently and a doctor walked in who may or may not have been pregnant. He poked his finger in her belly and said accusingly “I know what you’ve got in there!” Thank goodness she was actually pregnant!

What’s your writing goals for 2016?

The first four months have been pretty busy preparing for the release of Close To You and edits for Can’t Help Falling. I’m hoping to soon get started on a new story starring one of the secondary characters from Close To You :)

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?

That’s like asking me to chose my favourite child! This is an interaction between Allie and her best friend, Kat. I love their interactions because Kat is the kind of friend that doesn’t have much of a filter :)



“You know what else I think I’m right about?” Kat leaned forward.

“What?”

“I think you like the delays. They give you something to hide behind because as long as you’re still technically ‘married,’ you don’t have to take a chance on another guy. You have an excuse not to grapple with putting your heart back out there.”

Seriously? Kat thought she wanted to live in limbo? “You think I like this? You think I like being legally attached to a guy who cost me everything? I can’t even touch my own bank accounts because he and his lawyers convinced some stupid judge I might pilfer the so-called marital assets.”

“I’m not saying you like it, but I think you’ve grown used to it, even comfortable, and I definitely think it’s less scary than the alternative.” Kat reached forward and pulled the tub of mousse toward her. “The rest of your life is a long time to be afraid of getting hurt. At some point you’re going to have a take a chance on a guy again, Allie. And sure, you might get hurt. But you also might find the love of your life.”

“I’m pretty sure Jackson isn’t the love of my life.” He couldn’t be. Who fell in love in two weeks? That only happened in cheesy Hollywood rom-coms.

“How sure? Sure enough to not tell him the truth in all its miserable glory? Sure enough to let him leave and not spend the rest of your life wondering if you missed out on something that could have been great? Tell him the truth. Tell him the scary, ugly truth, and let the chips fall where they will. Nothing good ever comes out of hiding stuff this big.”

_________________________________


Yes, you all, that is my girl!! And she is hosting an amazing giveaway too!! A copy of her book, a Starbucks gift card (she knows my love language), and a package of Double-Stuffed Oreos. Why? You ask? Because Kara devours them when writing under pressure, and because . . . wait for it . . . you can't get Double-Stuffed Oreos in New Zealand!! Can you imagine? I try to keep her stocked up by shipping them overseas for her most penny-dreadful moments of writing. So be sure to enter!! and visit Kara's super-de-dooper website http://www.karaisaac.com


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Feasts & Famines

Before I was a published author, I often wondered what the writer's life looked like. By reading lots of blog posts, following authors on social media, and making friends with published authors, I had a glimpse into their lifestyle.

I noticed two distinct seasons in a writer's life: the feast and the famine.

 
 
Being a published author is hard work. If you're contracted, you have to produce your best work possible, no matter what. It can be difficult when you face a daunting deadline and your creative juices are all squeezed out, when your personal life becomes crazy, or your other writing responsibilities demand your time. Sometimes, you have to choose your battles when it comes to titles, cover designs, and plot points. But, overall, the most difficult thing I've seen authors deal with are seasons of horrifying famine (when you have nothing releasing on the horizon, and you wonder if you'll ever have another contract).

Yet...there is another side of the author's life that most people dream about, the time of abundant feasting. It's a time when you're writing one book, revising another, and going over copy edits for a third...and then you get to see the sneak peek of the cover design for a fourth. It's moments like that when you laugh and dance and you want to celebrate--because that's what you do during a feast. You celebrate the bountiful harvest that you're reaping because of all the hard work you sowed.

The past four months have been a feast time for me. Since January, I have signed two contracts, one for a Barbour novella collection I'm CRAZY-excited about (Seven Brides for Seven Texans, December 2016), as well as a three-book contract with Love Inspired Historical. I wrote the first book in the Love Inspired Historical Series (titled A Family Arrangement, December 2016) last November/December, and I received my revision notes in January. On the heels of finishing the revisions, I was sent the copy-edits for my stand-alone Love Inspired Historical (A Mother in the Making, September 2016). After finishing those edits, I then began writing my novella, First Comes Love, for the Seven Brides for Seven Texans collection. Two days ago, I submitted my novella to the editor at Barbour. And last night, I began to plot my next Love Inspired Historical novel, which will release in 2017.

As I revel in this feast-time, I thank God for the blessings and responsibilities of these stories. I pray it's just the beginning of many stories to come, but even if it's not, I trust God to continue to provide in times of feasting and in times of famine. I've seen his faithfulness in the lives of my writer-friends, and I know He'll be faithful to me, no matter what that looks like.

At this moment, I have several author-friends who are experiencing feasts, and several who are in the midst of a famine. I celebrate with the one, and I mourn with the other--but through it all, I know we all serve a God who has a plan and who is using all the words written for His kingdom purpose. In the end, that's why we pursue this dream.

Your Turn: Are you in the midst of a feast or a famine? What have you learned in each season of life?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Word Sowers Conference


Erica here:

At the time of this posting, I am in the car, rocking out to Home Free, Taylor Swift, and Michael Bolton (Don't judge, I like love songs!) driving to Nebraska! 

For a couple of days, I'll be at a writer's retreat with some of my writing buddies, including Mary Connealy and Lorna Seilstad (Go ahead, be jealous! I know I would be!) And after that, I'll be attending and presenting at the 2016 Omaha Christian Writer's Conference, put on by the WordSowers. 

This conference looks fantastic! More than TWENTY workshops to choose from, a great keynote speaker, and they've factored in lots of time to just hang out with and get to know people! Which is totally good, because I want the chance to fangirl on Cheryl St. John, one of my favorite authors. :) 

I'll be teaching on using the Plot Board to plot a novel, and I can't wait! In preparation, I've planned my wardrobe, refreshed my powerpoint slides, assembled a plot board kit for one lucky conference-goer, and...gotten my nails done! (Sparkly red, in case you wondered, because RED is best.)

I love meeting authors and talking about books and writing and stories and all things author-ish. I love taking classes and learning new things and seeing things from a fresh perspective.

When I get home, I'll be putting all my new knowledge to use as I race toward a new deadline. 

If you'd like to know more about the WordSower's Conference, check it out using the link below!


Our sign! :)
In other news, I know Jaime posted about this yesterday, but I wanted to post some pics, too. Jaime Jo Wright and I had a book signing this last weekend! It was Jaime's very first signing! It was held at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Rochester, MN, and we had a GREAT time! Lots of laughter, chatting, and meeting readers. Books were signed, books were sold out, and books were ordered! :) 

Many thanks to the folks from my church and from the TTL book club who came out to support us!
A smaller version of the event sign! Look! We're almost famous!

The Tantalizing Tea Ladies who drove down from the cities!

Me and this girl!
The signing was a joy, made even better by sharing it with Jaime!

Questions for you:

Have you been to a professional conference?
Have you taught a class or been a presenter at a conference?
Have you been to a book signing?

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Earl Grey Aficionado
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How To Have a Successful Booksigning - Do it with a friend!

Saturday was my first ever book signing and it was WEIRD! People keep asking me how it went, and I'm not sure what to say. It was great meeting new readers, having them autograph my autograph journal, chat about my story, laugh, and be all friendly. What was weird was having people line up for my signature. It was a microscopic taste of maybe what it's like to be a little bit of a celebrity? If I can say that without sounding like I love myself to pieces?

Signing my book and watching them smile, asking the readers how to spell their name . . . it was all so surreal. I mean really, all of the readers who came were so amazing and awesome, I wanted to have them sign my face!

That being said, having a successful book signing is subjective on how you measure it, right? Mass amounts of people? Sales numbers? ROI (return on investment)? Amount of coffee consumed? Well, in regards to the latter, I had a 4 shot flat white hazelnut latte, so I think I had that part covered successfully. But I measure success differently.


  1. Booksign with a friend! I think I drove Erica a little batty after when I posted pictures online

    and went all fangirl that I got to sign books next to her. So she probably knows what I mean when I say it's weird to have people line up to meet you. Because, seriously, Erica Vetsch has been one of my favorite authors since, well, she first started writing. Sitting next to her, signing my books? That was a wowser experience. It really was. Seeing her home, the family business, hanging with her ridiculously awesome daughter . . . it made the booksigning super amazing.
  2. Wish for family! On my two hour drive to location, I was alone in my car thinking how great it was to, well, be alone. Sometimes at work I'm bombarded all day only to come home and be bombarded by my kids and husband. I love it. I love my life! But two hours of podcasts in a car was next to heaven. Except by the time I reached Rochester, MN I started feeling a bit melancholy. You see, I've wanted to be a published writer since I was 13. I turn 40 this year. My 40th year I finally see that dream a reality. And the people who have been with me the last 27 years of it, watching me, and cheering me on? My parents, my Uncle Ken, and an old friend Dorothea who passed away at least 15 years ago now. I stuffed down my melancholy. I knew Cap'n Hook couldn't bring my CoCo and Peter Pan because it's just a bit too much for the kiddos. So, life happens. Here I was. Alone, with the exception of Erica. As I spoke at the booksigning, my eyes tried to make contact with the readers listening to me babble. They locked with the chocolate browns of a beautiful woman in the back row. "MY MOM'S HERE?!" I blurted out, totally stunning the audience with my outburst. Then my gaze drifted to the man grinning beside her. "MY UNCLE IS HERE?" and then another dude popped up from the crowd, "MY DAD IS HERE?" By then the entire group was laughing and a few clapped. I think some of the readers grasped that that moment for me, was the cherry on top of a chocolate ice cream sundae of dreams come true.
And that, my friends, is the key to a successful booksigning. Have super-de-dooper readers. Enjoy the moment with friends. Never negate the power of family. 

Here's some pictures of the big day :)

Selfie time with Catherine Armstrong and Erica Vetsch,
fellow authors at the Apache Barnes and Noble in
Rochester, Minnesota

Me with my two special men!
Uncle Ken (left), my Dad (right)

That special lady grinning down at me is my mommy :) <3

________________________________________________


Professional coffee drinker and best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright
, resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited and gritty turn-of- the-century romance stained w
ith suspense. Her day job finds her working as a Director of Sales & Associate Relations. She’s wife to a rock climbing, bow-hunting Pre-K teacher, mom to a coffee-drinking little girl and a little boy she fondly refers to as her mischievous “Peter Pan.” Jaime completes her persona by being an admitted social media junkie and a coffee snob. She is a member of ACFW, has seen her work on both the ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly top ten best-sellers list for inspirational fiction, and has the best writing sisters ever!

Web site: www.jaimejowright.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jaimejowright
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaimejowright  
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jaimejowright
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/jaimejowright
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/13916081.Jaime_Jo_Wright
Periscope: @jaimejowright




Monday, April 25, 2016

My Non-Fiction Reading Pile

Our readers sometimes ask what we fiction writers like to read when we pick up a nonfiction. I usually have a stack of nonfiction sitting in my library room, all of them in various stages of reading, have-read, or to-be-read.

I'm of the belief, as I think most writers are, that keeping your think-tank full is a healthy way to inspire your life and your writing. I like a wide variety of nonfiction to keep me learning.


So, here is my pile...

I just finished reading this inspirational read about prayer that pushed me to think outside the box. Author Mark Batterson encourages intercessors to dream big, pray hard, and think long. 

Some favorite quotes: 
"Prayer and imagination are directly proportional." "May you keep dreaming until the day you die. May imagination overtake memory. May you die young at a ripe old age." "Coincidences are providences." "Coffeehouses are postmodern wells." "Parents are prophets to their children." 

And my favorite thought quotes: 
"Prayer is the inheritance we receive and the legacy we leave." 
"When we pray, our prayers exit our own reality of space and time. They have no time or space restrictions because God who answers them exists outside the space and time He created."


I'm on page 41 of 215 of this book. It's one I'm sort of dancing around, and digesting. Dan Allender is  a long time favorite author of mine, and I only recently discovered his deep friendship with John Eldredge, author of Wild At Heart.  This book is inviting readers to listen to God, the author of your life, in order to understand and tell what your life-story is saying. I'm only a mid-lifer, so I'm thinking my story is only half complete. 

I don't have plans for a memoir, but I do think it's good to discern God's bigger picture.


I still haven't cracked the cover of this one, but I've enjoyed Cymbala's Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, and it just looked interesting.


I'm on page 38 of 199 of Baker's book. Heidi tells her own story of how God "overshadowed" her with His Spirit and called her to start a children's ministry with her husband in Mozambique. She's just begun to talk about how Mary's pregnancy with Jesus has impacted her journey.


I haven't started this one, but it intrigues me incredibly to read about history medical issues, like plagues and epidemics. I just may need to write a fictional story around this piece of history!


Lastly, I picked this up while in Florida on vacation. 
(the pages still smell like the beach and sunscreen! sigh.)

This biography of our nation's second first lady, is excellently done. 

Holton makes the reader feel as if he's visiting over a cup of coffee about her life. Okay, well maybe more like a history lecture--but an intriguing one. I never knew she was so interested in women's lives. Though not formally educated, she left many written accounts by which we learn to know her, including "Remember the Ladies" dated March 31, 1776. In it she accomplishes her own personal declaration of independence. Her work inspired many women of her day who sought equity in the workplace, before the law, and in their families. 

Readers: 
Your turn!
What's on your nonfiction piles?
Please share.
-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Interview & #Giveaway with Lori Benton


Lori Benton is a huge favorite here at the CCC blog! :) She is the agency-mate of Erica, Gabrielle, and myself, a favorite author of Anne's (and the rest of us too!), and an all around beautiful individual. I love chatting with Lori online and she's so approachable. Not to mention her books are beautiful, inside and out. She's offering a fantastic giveaway today too, to all our beloved CCC readers, so take a moment to get to know Lori and then enter to win :)

_________________________________________________

What authors do you like to read?


There are probably hundreds, but topping the list would be Ellis Peters, Jan Karon, Diana Gabaldon, James Alexander Thom, Laura Frantz, Katie Ganshert, Melissa Tagg, Mesu Andrews, and Tony Hillerman. Of course I’ll remember more in a moment or two!

What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

Books by Stephen Lawhead. Books by Diana Gabaldon. Books by James Alexander Thom. Books by Ellis Peters. Books by Francine Rivers.

What’s more important: characters or plot?


Since I believe character drives plot, I’m going to have to say characters. But plots are important too!

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author and what would it be?

Never say never! But for the sake of an answer I’m going to go with technology. After the Industrial Revolution I start to lose interest in history pretty quickly. So it’s likely my novels will remain set in the 1700s or earlier. Maybe, just possibly, the early 1800s.

How important are names to you in your books and how do you choose them?


I love choosing names. Sometimes characters show up with a name attached. Most often I need to hunt for the right one. If they are immigrants from a certain country to the American colonies then I look for names common in that country at that time. I read old ship manifests. I check out my family tree, which goes back centuries and draws from many European countries. I’ve been known to sit through movie credits reading as many names as I can catch as they scroll by, especially if the movie was filmed in a country from which my character hails. If I’m naming a Native American, I will learn all I can about how that character’s people named themselves and stay as close to such traditions as I can and try to choose a name that sounds true to their nation.

What secret talents do you have? Because here at the CCC blog we have all kinds of them ;)


No secret talents here. I tend to post photos on Facebook of the things I like to do. Like cookie decorating.

What were you like as a child? Steady-going like our Anne, a tornado like Jaime, and adventurous soul like Erica, or an avid-reader like Gabrielle?

A steady-going, adventurously avid reader! I went through books like a tornado through a cornfield, only not as messy.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?


My husband and I managed to get our car stuck on ice in the mountains not far from our home, late a couple springs ago when we’d thought the ice pack on a particular road would be melted away. Suddenly it wasn’t and we were going nowhere. After about five minutes along came a truck with the proper tires and an Englishman of all things driving it and because we had the needful equipment, our car was soon attached to the back hitch of the truck and they pulled us off the ice. I really don’t think that could have gone any smoother. I didn’t do anything but pray!

What’s your writing goals for 2016?

I have a deadline for the book I’m writing now, later in the year. My goal is to meet it and write the very best book I can. Also to take a research trip. Then start the next book before the New Year rolls around.

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?

From the just released A Flight of Arrows, Book 2 in the Pathfinders series. Copyright 2016 Lori Benton 

Looking both regretful and relieved, Reginald cleared his throat. “What of Johnson’s regiment? Is there news?”

“That is for my son to answer,” Stone Thrower said.

Two Hawks sat straighter as he related the rumors that had circulated about Sir John Johnson and his regiment. “We put to rest each one until none remained to follow. We know where William is not—at the lake forts. We do not know where he is.”

Reginald was silent, absorbing this, then said, “Too long have I been gone from my place on the Binne Kill. But once my business there is in order…” He met Stone Thrower’s questioning gaze. “I’ve had time for thinking about what Arnold did on Lake Champlain. I thought of doing likewise—
finding a break in the British lines in the north, slipping through to find William.”

“No,” Lydia said before she could think better of it. “Reginald, winter is nigh upon us.”

Reginald ignored all but Stone Thrower, to whom he’d bound himself with a promise—that they would neither go after William alone.

“It is a bold plan,” Stone Thrower said. “It stirs my heart to hear it. But we have taken hurt, you and I. To cross such distance in snow would take a man in his full strength to do. And I have reason to stay. For now.”

“You don’t know yet where to look for William,” Lydia persisted. “You cannot even be certain he’s joined Johnson’s regiment.”

“You do not let fly an arrow before you aim it,” Good Voice added.

Stone Thrower said, “We do well to heed the wisdom of our women. We wait. Pray. Trust our lost one to Heavenly Father. Until we have a target to aim at.”

Reginald’s jaw tightened. He closed his eyes, only to open them when Two Hawks stood abruptly. The young man’s color deepened as all gazes turned his way, but it was Reginald’s he held.

“I am glad you are safe from battle,” he said. “We have been much worried for you, wishing you home. Now I am going down to the barn.”

“The barn?” Anna asked in evident bewilderment.

Two Hawks jerked a nod. “Where I will sleep. I have moved my things to be ready for morning. Sleep well,” he said to the room at large, though his gaze rested on Anna’s upturned face with its own pleading. For what? Turning away too quickly for Lydia to be sure, he passed between her and Reginald and went out.

Anna stared after him. Only Lydia seemed to notice her hurt. Reginald was reaching inside his coat. He brought out something small, wrapped in faded cloth. He laid it on his thigh and removed the wrapping to reveal two framed oval faces. Lydia was near enough to see one was a tiny portrait of Heledd, his late wife, who had returned to Wales nine years ago with…

“William,” she said, recognizing the face in the second frame.

“What is this?” Good Voice leaned forward, staring at what lay in Reginald’s lap. Stone Thrower mirrored her movement.

“I found these among the things William left behind. Heledd must have had them commissioned soon before she passed. He looks to be nearly the age he is now. Here.” Reginald held out the portrait that had captured their attention, his voice gruff with feeling. “See the face of your son.”

As Good Voice’s hands cradled the miniature, Anna wept openly, watching William’s parents, hearing as did Lydia the involuntary sounds each made, eloquent of years of pain and loss and wondering.

“They are much alike,” Good Voice whispered at last. “The brows, the mouth…”

“But the eyes…” Stone Thrower said. “He is like you.”

Anna shot to her feet and all but ran from the room. Good Voice and Stone Thrower barely glanced up at her going, but Reginald raised his eyes to Lydia. Eyes still haunted by guilt.


____________________________________________

Visit Lori at her Website: http://loribenton.blogspot.com/

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Advice for an Aspiring Author

Gabrielle Here:

Facebook reminded me that four years ago this week, I met Beverly Lewis in person. She was the first big-name author I had met and it was only a few months after I had decided to pursue my dream to be a published author.


To say I was nervous is an understatement.

Beverly had drawn a big crowd of reader fans, and during the course of her talk, she asked if there were any questions from the audience. People all around me asked general questions about her books, her life, and the inspiration behind her characters.

I timidly raised my hand and asked one of the most popular questions an author receives: "What advice do you have for an aspiring writer?"

Little did I know I would be asked that same question countless times in the years to follow. I also didn't know that her advice was just the tip of the iceberg for all I had to learn.

Here is Beverly's advice, and what I've learned in the four years since then:

1. Read and write as much as you can. I would go a bit further and say that you should be well-read in the particular genre you want to write. For years, I lived and breathed historical romance--and still do. Reading extensively in that genre helped me develop a "historical" voice. It helped with my vocabulary, turn of phrase, and general "feel" of a historical novel. Many people also recommend that you read extensively outside your genre to get a feel for the industry and what's popular, etc. I would agree with them--but I'm not great about doing this. When it comes to my reading time, I would choose a historical romance novel any day of the week.

As far as writing goes--yes! Write as much as possible. I often tell people I had almost a million words written in story form before my first novella (20,000 words!) was published. It's in the process of writing, and re-writing, that we find our voice, strengthen our weaknesses, and learn how to tell a good story.

2. Join a critique group. Oh, my, this is an important piece of advice! At the time, I didn't have any writing friends, but now I couldn't live without them. Not only do they make your writing better, but they become essential to lean on for support and fellowship. I thank God for my writing buddies. They are the first people I go to with my writing failures and successes. These people don't even have to be critique partners, they can just be good writing friends. This past weekend, Erica came to my house so we could read through our next novella collection, and the time we shared together was priceless. We laughed, talked, and worked--and the time flew by. In the process, she taught me so many valuable things I will use as I write my next story. Join a critique group, but more importantly, make writing friends.

3. Attend a conference, meet editors, and find out what they are looking for. Again, great advice. I attend the ACFW Conference every year, and hopefully I can attend RWA in the coming years. Conferences are great for networking (finding those writing friends!), meeting editors and agents, and educating yourself about the industry. Conferences are a great investment of time and money. I have made so many important connections at ACFW--both personally and professionally. If you have the money, and you're on the fence about attending, my advice would be to go. There's really no way to over-emphasize the importance of face-to-face meetings. I had an editor tell me that she won't publish an author until she's met her in person.

4. Write from the heart. The oldest advice in the writing world is to write what you know--which translated means: write from the heart. I have an incredible passion for my hometown and state. I love the history, the culture, the climate, and the people (both past and present). I know there are other places more interesting, more beautiful, and more appealing--but this is where my heart belongs and I have the ability to make it interesting, beautiful, and appealing when I write through the lenses of my perspective. It's a lot easier to write from my heart than it is to write from my head.

5. Spend a great deal of time in prayer. I couldn't agree with Beverly more. Writing is an act of worship for me. God has anointed me to write and He's entrusted me with words--which have the power of life and death in them. I don't take this responsibility lightly. Words are like seeds, and I want to make sure I'm planting good seeds into the heart soil of those who read my stories. Prayer is essential in all aspects of the writing journey, from the moment a story idea is conceived, to the moment it's published, it should be approach in prayer.

I would add one more piece of advice to an aspiring author:

6. Educate yourself on the writing industry. Not just at conferences, but through writing blogs, books, workshops, online classes, and mentors. There's so much to know about publishing (both traditional and independent). After you learn how to write a good story, you must know how to find an agent and get that story in the hands of editors. It's important to know the stages a manuscript goes through at a publishing house, what happens when you're contracted, how to market a book, how to use social media, how to track sales numbers, what an advance is, how much you can expect to earn, and on and on. There's no end to what you need to know. I'm learning something new almost every day. If you don't know where to begin, ask an author to point you in the right direction! Most authors I know are eager to help.

Your Turn: If you're an author, what advice do you give to aspiring writers? If you're a writer-wannabe, what would you like to know?

I have a winner from last Thursday's big announcement! The winner of an advance copy of Seven Brides for Seven Texans Novella Collection is: Jan Hall! Congratulations, Jan. I'll be in touch. :)

Gabrielle Meyer
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