Friday, August 13, 2010

The Suspension

No, I haven’t been expelled from an educational institution, nor am I dangling from a ceiling Mission Impossible style. (That was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about the word suspension. ;)
Anyway, I am simply announcing a temporary suspension of this blog. :(
You may have noticed over the past few months that I’ve been struggling to keep up my usually posting schedule and frequently apologizing about that. Well, I have a feeling I’m going to continue that trend for a while, so in order to spare you the monotony of my need to beg forgiveness I decided to just take a break for a while. ;)
Just to explain how bad things have gotten, I actually wrote this post two weeks ago.
I can hear all the professional bloggers who have tried to suggest ways to create a successful blog yelling, “You’re going to lose all of the readers you’ve worked so hard to build up if you stop now!” But the fact of the matter is the way you get readers is reading other people’s post and that is something I haven’t been able to do for weeks. A fact, I assure you, I’ve felt quite guilty about. You all deserve readers! :)
I’m not sure how long of a break I’ll take. There are just lots of things going on in the real world right now that I need to pay more attention to. Plus, I'm really tired of answering my e-mails with the words “I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you.” :P
So, now that I’ve rambled long enough, I’ll simply say, have a lovely rest of your summer!
Miss and love you all!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Once Upon A Time…We lost the originals…

The book is always better than the movie, right? But sometimes I find that it’s not just better. It’s outright wildly different.
Personally, the most interesting cases I find are original fairytales. All of us have probably seen Disney’s version of them somewhere close to a hundred times each. ;) But haven’t you ever wanted to know what the original Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, or Cinderella was like? Okay, so maybe that’s just me. You might be interested, however, to know how different they are and what we lost in translation.
The differences can be quite amusing in their weirdness. The older and more obscure version of Cinderella sports a number of unique moments. For instance, she didn’t just have two wicked sister. She had a Cyclops and a Triclops for sisters. The Cinderella character’s name is actually “Two Eyes.” She was very common looking. ;) “Beauty” from Beauty and the Beast, wasn’t an only child taking care of her father. She was the youngest of six children, several of whom are turned to statues by the end of the story.
Often the most striking difference is the motivation and desires of the main characters. A fairy godmother didn’t show up to give Cinderella a beautiful dress just in time for the dance. She came to provide her with food. Cinderella, as it turns out, was starving to death. And the Little Mermaid didn’t want to become a human because a prince was waiting for her on the beach. She was distraught over the fact that humans can go to heaven when they died whereas mermaids became nothing more than sea foam.
I can naturally see why Disney changed things. After all, singing mice probably work a whole lot better than the goat in the real Cinderella story…Let’s just say he didn’t make it to the end. And it’s much nicer to say the price for the Little Mermaid to achieve two legs was simply her voice…Instead of severe pain with every step. But too often when changes were made the point of the original stories was lost in the hustle of all those colorful ball gowns.
“Love conquers all” is never really the issue. “Happily-ever-after” in the sense we say it today actually seems vacant next to the originals.
The real Beauty and the Beast ends with the line, “and their happiness, as it was founded on virtue, was complete.” The Little Mermaid’s happiness only comes when the angels whisk her away to heaven.
As for “Cinderella?” Well, going off to the live in the castle with the prince is not the end of the story. Before the final page could turn she forgave her sisters for all the horrible things they’d done and took them to live in the palace with her. Only then, could she really say, “And they lived happily ever after.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

To Negative Review Or Not. That is the question…

In previous posts we’ve discussed how important it is for readers to put up reviews for the books they like because people do buy based on word of mouth more than anything. But what about negative reviews?
Inevitably, when you read a lot of books you will read plenty of bad ones. Some books start well, but by the time I hit the end I feel like saying, “I read 300 pages for that?” Other books are so bad I can’t make it past the halfway point. That’s just the way the book universe is.
But I should I leave a negative review on those book? My answer more often than not is, no. I might have very definitive tastes on what is and is not good writing when I’m reading, but when it comes to criticizing that writing publicly I tend to look at the situation as a writer.

After all, I know firsthand (and from the mouths of several of my fellow writers) that we can get very emotionally attached to our work and negative reviews tend to hit hard. But even more than the emotional side, I have to think of in terms of their sales too. Why should I threaten another author’s sales by publicly saying I don’t like their books when there are plenty of people who would read that book and like it just fine? Some of the worse books I’ve ever read are bestseller. If people like their books, that’s fine with me. Just don’t ask me to agree. ;)

Now, I am NOT talking about books that I dislike because they are immoral. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing up those issues. But in general, if it’s just a personal opinion I have about the type of writing or story I find it better to leave it alone. I might discuss what I don’t like about the book on this blog, but I try not to name the title or the author.
HONESTLY, the reviews that irk me the worst are the ones that boil down to, “Yeah, I liked it, but it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read.” Sorry, but that’s just lame! It’s like talking for the sake of talking without thinking about what type of an impact it might have. I often want to ask those people, “If you were the author, would you appreciate that comment?”
So, I simply say, if you don’t have anything nice to say just leave it alone. ;)
What about you? Do you think we should leave negative reviews? If so, why?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Smile for me this week.

Not too much original thought this week, my friends. :) I'm taking the week off from the blogger world because there's just too much going on for me to hold onto my sanity if I tried to do it all. (Please no additional comments about my sanity;)

So, for this week I'm just sharing some of my smiles with you. ;)

Yes, all these angels belong to my family. :D What makes you smile?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fan Fiction

Yes, fan fiction. Ever heard of it? Anyone else find this subgenre as enjoyable as I do? ;)
Before I go on, I guess I should define the term itself, because there can be confusion on occasion. An author inspired by a particular book who consequently writes something similar is NOT a fan fiction writer. Fan fiction occurs when an author takes a classic novel and expands on the original story and characters.
It can come in the form of sequels to a famous novel, like Stephanie Coles The Phantom Returns, modernizations, like Debra White-Smith’s Romance and Reason (originally Sense and Sensibility), remixes that suggest the story was told wrong, like many of the stories suggesting the “wicked witch” was misunderstood, or retellings of the original story from a different character’s point of view, like Janet Alymer’s Darcy’s Story.
I have become a great fan of fan fiction, particularly the Jane Austen version. Why? Because I want more! Jane only wrote six novels…that’s it! But through the world of fan fiction I can experience Austen again in whole new ways. :)
The genre actually started in 1914 when Sybil Brinton wrote Old Friends and New Fancies. She basically took all the characters left unmarried at the end of Austen’s novels and twisted them into existing Austen plots. So, for instance, Georgiana Darcy finds herself in the position originally occupied by Emma, as she tries to set up a romance for a friend, only to end up the object of affection. The Fitzwilliam Darcy; Gentleman trilogy by Pamela Aidan is considered by many in the fan fiction world to be the pinnacle of the genre. It is another retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's point of view, but adds a unique layer by weaving in the historical context of the time area. England, it seems, was a much more volatile place than the originals portray. ;) This is not to say that all fan fiction is good. Authors who turn Austen’s stories into erotic novels still boggle my mind. :P
Fan fiction is of course not limited to the Austenphiles. ;) As of yet I have not tried out Phantom of the Opera fan fiction, but I am tempted, partly just because I love that they call it “Phan Fiction.” Oh, come on, you know that’s cute. :)
I’ve also discovered that there is a great deal of fun in writing fan fiction. Yes, I’ve given it a shot. I picked out a small character in a famous novel whose ending I did not find satisfactory. It was both fun and challenging to look at the world from her eyes.
So, have you read or heard of any good fan fiction lately? Or, more importantly, have you ever read a book and found yourself thinking, “I would have done that differently.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh, no! The eBooks are coming for me!

I'm considering renaming this blog "Things I thought I'd never do" since that particular topic comes up so often. ;) So what did I do this time that I was once sure I wasn't ever really going to get into? One word. Ebook. :P

We've talked about eBooks here before. My book is available as an eBook and on Kindle, so I’ve looked into the concept...but I'm a book person! I love the look of full bookshelves as much as I do reading itself. ;)
That's not to say that the idea of the eBook hasn't slowly been edging into my brain. I've read a bit in an eBook form. A serial here and there. But never a full book experience. It seemed so wrong, part of the reason being I do not like excessive scrolling on a computer screen. I think I have scroll-sickness (It's a recognized disorder, right?). And all the "eBook readers" have screens so small my eyes strain at the very thought of trying to use one, not to mention the heart attack my wallet would have if I thought of buying one.
Well, then along comes a co-worker of mine, extolling wonders of eBooks. She showed me the free eBook reader software anyone can download from Barns and Nobles' website. It's set up to read left to right so that when you are looking at the computer screen you are in essence looking at an open faced book.
Sure, it looked a lot more comfortable to read and how can you beat free, right? But still, we're talking eBooks and I like real books....
...I was firm in my belief until last Saturday. Then I suddenly found myself wanting to read a particularly book, but:
1.) I did not have time to go to the bookstore.
2.) I did not want to spend much money on the book because I wasn't sure if it was any good.
3.) I really did not have time to go hunt for it at the library in hopes that I wouldn't have to spend money on it.
So what was my solution? I downloaded it from B&N for $2 and started reading it immediately.

Now I'm wondering if this is how all those book people out there fall down the rabbit hole of eBooks. I use to think eBooks were something non-book people got into, but I can thoroughly see the appeal at the moment. :P Don't worry too much. I still love owning books. A part of me kind of wants to go out and buy a copy of the book and just put it on my shelves. ;)
So, have you fallen into the eBook world yet or do you still insist that you are a through and through traditional print person?

Just for the record, my very first eBook was (drum-roll please) The Phantom of the Opera. Haven't you ever watched a movie and wanted to know how the book compared? ;)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Overused Plot

One of my all-time favorite comments left on this blog came two weeks back when we were talking about the different genres within Christian fiction. Somehow in the middle of the comments we switched from genres to particular plotlines that show up within the genres repeatedly.
Commenter extraordinaire, Cara, described her least liked, often used plot as, “Guy meets Girl. Girl can't stand Guy. Guy and Girl develop a weird love/hate relationship…Eventually, Guy kisses Girl. Girl is furious with Guy. But because of that Girl somehow comes to the realization that she really actually is terribly in love with guy. (gag)”
So, as I laughed, that got me thinking; Are there plotlines that have been used one too many times?
Frankly, I always seem to like the “angst-filled romance” plot, the “Pride and Prejudice from yet another point of view” novel, and, as a mystery lover, I’ll probably never get enough of the “one dead body, six suspects, and a snarky detective” story. I can name stacks of novels I’ve read and enjoyed with these plots.
Of course, there are some that I just can’t stand to read one more time, particularly the “Girl must choose between poor Guy she loves and rich Guy who can support her” plot. I find myself thinking, “Am I really willing to sit through 300 pages when I know she’s going to go with the poor guy?” And there are some subgenres I just don’t get! Really, how many Amish books can possibly be written?
NOW LISTEN, before you send me lots of messages about how there are some really awesome Amish novels out or you have seen the poor guy/rich guy plot done well look at what I’m saying. My point is plainly EVERY PLOTLINE IS OVERUSED. Seriously think about that. There is nothing really new under this sun.
How many mysteries can be written staring a sleuth with a penchant for baked goods? How many heroines are going to be city girls trying to survive in the old west? And, for goodness sakes, how many times are people going to try to convince me that there is actually something romantic about blood-suckers? (Ooo, I’m going to get some comments about that one, aren’t I? ;)
If you really think about it, in some way every book is using a plotline we’ve seen before. The only difference is YOU and what you happen to like and dislike.
So, now it’s your turn! What plotline can you not stand to sit through one more time and what one have you come to realize you’ll probably buy in some form or another every time you go book shopping? :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Commenter’s Choice! (A follow up and what’s coming up.)

In the previous post we talked the art of book covers. I told you what I thought and showed you a few of my picks for best cover design. Now it’s your turn. The following is a selection of covers several people told me were their top picks for favorite cover art.
I will say, among all the people who left comments on the previous post there were some definite trends that developed. Several people stated that they preferred photographs over illustrations on covers. The words “must have intrigue” came up often. A distain for books with covers that have nothing to do with the book came up (I hate that too). And a number of people admitted to overlooking books with lack luster covers.
So, publishers if you’re listening (dreams) listen to the people!!

Now to the covers. Just a little disclaimer. I haven’t read any of these books, so I can’t officially recommend them. This all about the cover art. There’s just something about these covers that grabbed the readers. :)

Have a great weekend!
And thanks to Susan, Jon, CMOM, and Joanna for your cover picks! :)

A quick notice to what’s coming up on Monday. The post is title “The Overused Plotline.” I am frankly a bit afraid of offending people. ;) Be prepared to give your opinion.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reviewing The Book Cover?

I’ve noticed an interesting trend recently amongst book reviewers. After reviewing the book itself, they toss in a comment or two on their feelings towards the cover. I think this is kind of a neat idea because the cover is a huge factor in the sale of the book. We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but when faced with rows of books we are unfamiliar with we’re naturally going to grab the one with the most interesting cover. (Be honest ;)
First and foremost, I think the cover of a book should represent the genre. Marketers will tell you most people stick to a particular genre. So, if you write mystery you want to catch the eye of the mystery reader and if you write romance you want to catch the eye of a romance reader. In many cases color alone will separate different genres. For instance: Dark, moody colors for mystery and light or bright colors for romance.
Personally, I have a couple things I don’t like. Book covers that simply show the location of the book bore me silly. :P One of my favorite writers put out an awesome suspense novel about human smuggling. The cover? A quant picture of the Chesapeake Bay area the story took place in. If I hadn’t already known the author I probably wouldn’t have picked it up.
I’m also iffy on the trend of putting a picture of what the character looks like on the cover. Sometimes it works, but sometimes I want to say, “That is not what the character looks like!” ;) I do know a lot of people who prefer the character’s picture to be front and center, however.
Below I’ve got a few of my favorite book covers and why I think they work. Here’s your part. Leave me the name of a book who’s cover you like! On Friday, I’ll put up a “Reader’s Choice” with a selection of your reviews. I can’t wait to see what you think makes a good cover! :)

The color pop is great, plus the image plainly says “Drama and humor!” ;)

The color and frilliness clearly say “romance,” but the designer also achieved a sense of intrigue. Frankly, it’s better than a lot of mysteries I’ve seen.

I really like this particular rerelease St. Martin’s did of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. Each cover is a simple, but eerie photograph that captures both the mystery and the vintage look Christie has come to be associated with.

This is the first romantic-western I was ever inclined to pick up. Why? It stood out on the display because every other book in the genre had a picture of a girl in a dress standing in front of some form of western scenery. I am not exaggerating. :P It gave me a "Hm, wonder what that one is about?" moment.

By the way, I would highly recommend all of these books.
So, what about you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

You mean me?

Okay, so, in my previous post I mentioned that my library book singing-turned book talk last week resulted in an interested situation due to the way it was advertised. (Not a bad one sentence summary. ;)
It all started when the librarian in charge suggested some things I should talk about and finished with saying, “And you should talk about this new genre you write in.” I sort of stared at her blankly so she added, “You know, Christian mysteries.”
Well, I thought about it for a minute and tried to come up with a way to tell her it’s not really a new genre, but I realize that to some people it is. So, when I was discussing the topic I said that Christian mystery isn’t exactly a new genre, but a lot of people associate Christian fiction more with historical novels. I did start to notice that questions came up time to time about it…particularly from other librarians. They wanted to know what this new genre was all about.
…..Much to my surprise, towards the end of the day, I discovered the library was handing flyers out that boldly stated, “Emily is one of the first to work with the Christian Mystery Genre.” That is an exact quote and it caught me totally off-guard. :P
Am I one of the first writers working with the Christian Mystery Genre? No. I’m not sure where that came from. But I have noticed that in a lot of circles Christian fiction is a pretty foreign concept and mystery is even more so. I’ve just never had it be quite so foreign to a group before. LOL
So, I’m here today to ask you, my friends, what your opinion is. ;)
Have you heard of or read Christian fiction? If so, is there a particular genre you associate with it more? Is Christian mystery all that unheard of in the world of books?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Turns Out Interesting

So, Saturday was my first ever Library book signing. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it was being announced as a “talk” but I wasn’t sure if that meant I actually had to give some sort of speech or just talk to people as they walked by wherever I was stationed.
….Turns out I had to give a speech…. :)
When I arrived I was promptly directed to a back room with a few rows of chairs set up along with a podium. Yes, a podium. The only problem was it was almost as tall as I am so I had to stand in front of it. Lol.
When we realized in the upcoming minutes that I might actually have to give some sort of presentation my family suggested I test run standing up and talking. But I sat down instead. ;)
Honestly, over the past year and a half since my book came out one thing that has changed about me is the way I face stuff like this. I just don’t face it until I absolutely have to. LOL And by then it’s sink or swim so I just swim (by the grace of God, I assure you ;).
There is a verse in the Bible that talks about not preparing what you’re planning on saying a head of time and I sometimes feel like that’s my motto. Oh, I do run through a few things about what the book is about beforehand, but by and large I don’t think new situations like this through too much. It’s weird in a sense because I don’t get as excited about stuff as I use to, but I also don’t get as nervous. :)
So in the end it turned out fine. Groups of people sort of moved in and out of the room. I talked for a little while about the book and the writing process then they asked questions and I answered. :) Often I was speaking with people one on one.
I actually didn’t sell many books, but that’s okay because I think the experience was good overall. Plus we got chocolate chip cookies!!
One really interesting situation arose due to the way the event was advertised, but I think that calls for a little more in depth post. So, I’ll save that one for next Monday. (Sound interesting?)
Have a good week all! I’ve got one more week of job training to go, so hopefully by next week I'll have a little more time to cyber-visit. ;)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Good things for you and for me. :)

This is a heads up about a very big giveaway! My blogger friend, Diane Estrella, is holding a week long giveaway on her blog with new prizes every day.
Prizes include everything from handmade purses, jewelry, mineral wear natural makeup, and a signed copy of Facets Of Fantasy, by Sarah Scheele. (If you read this blog you know I love Miss Sarah and her work. ;)

Anyway, you must run over to Diane’s blog right away and check out all the wonderfulness! And don’t forget to visit throughout the week for more chances to win.

Hope everyone his having a great Memorial Day holiday! Don’t forget to pray for all our amazing veterans and their families who have sacrifice so much for us.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bear with me, my friends.

This is one of my apology/explanation posts, put up primarily because I feel really bad. :-/ I haven’t been able to read many blogs or respond to e-mails or Face Book recently and I think I’m starting to look a little rude. So, if I haven’t stopped by your blog, or replied to your e-mail, or agreed that your status is totally LOL, I’m really sorry. :(

You see, I started a new job (praise God!). It WILL be part-time, but right now I’m in the middle of several weeks of training. So, I’m working full-time hours…and coming home with handbooks and how-to’s. I think it’s going to turn out to be a really good thing, but I’ve still got a lot to learn. A LOT. ;)

But in the meantime I haven’t gotten to go around and read what everyone is posting. :( I am trying to keep to my regular posting schedule on this blog and I do reply to the comments. Yes, if you leave a comment on this blog I will leave a reply comment here!! I’m just doing a really long reply at the end of the day instead of a new one every few hours.

So, tell me, my friends, what have I been missing? What awesome things have you been talking about on your blogs and Face Book? Come on, don’t leave me out of the loop just because I am trying to learn an entirely new computer system! ;)

Have a great weekend everyone! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Young at heart or just a diehard?

I don’t know what’s happened to me. I’ve lost myself. Yes, it’s true. Out of the blue I’ve found myself laughing quite hard at…(gasp)…teenager sitcoms…(gasp again).
This is just not me. Really. You know that kid who was never really a kid? That was me. ;)
Okay, I wasn’t that bad, but I definitely didn’t watch shows meant for teenagers or listen to music meant for teenagers…Did I just admit to listening to the music? (gasp again) Just the theme songs!
I consider this to be a temporary aberration. Sooner or later the effects of such things will wear off. Either that or a new show will come out and I’ll laugh at that one too. ;)

Before we go too far with this, I am hazarding to make many of my writerly friends out there gasp by saying this new found love of “Young Adult” entertainment met its match in my love of literature. Yes, my friends, I tried to read YA fiction…and it didn’t work. The first book I tried choked me into annoyance within three chapters. I am seriously unsympathetic to “teenage issues.” I’m sorry, but we all deal with that stuff. I don’t see why we have to make it more dramatic than it is. LOL
The second one was interesting, perhaps even compelling in a way, but I put it down one night and never picked it back up.

You see, a friend of mine recommend Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott and when I found a very old copy sitting on our shelves I picked it up. The English is a bit hard and the set up very descriptive, but I am enthralled by the Norman conquest of England and the downtrodden Saxon Lord! I find myself wishing I had more time to read it and that is my official sign of a good book. I’ve LOVED English literature and history ever since I started reading it when I was 14.

So, it seems to me that the laughs we get out of these teenage sitcoms offer a moment of stress release in what my brother and I call sophisticated silly. But deep down I’m still hardcore old fashioned literature girl…My dignity finds a measure of comfort in that… ;)
Oh, come on! Don’t tell me you’ve never found yourself in this place. LOL
Or have you just stopped by to tell me I shouldn't give up on YA fiction yet?

Friday, May 21, 2010

No More!

It’s over. No trial separation. No counseling in the future. Twitter and I are official divorced. True, our relationship lasted less than a year, but I had no other choice.
…No, really. I had no choice.
Earlier this week some unscrupulously individuals got hold of my follower list and inundated it with…um…inappropriateness. :’/ Twitter’s response to my enquiry was, “We are aware of this problem and we hope to fix it sometime in the near future.”
Gee, great, but in the meantime my account has been savaged by an ultimate icky-ness and my little blue bird no longer has a future! (sigh) I just couldn’t leave it up. :(
To be honest, I’ve never really liked Twitter. It was one of those things that EVERYONE said I HAD to have in order to be an operational individual. But as time goes on (and on) I’m started to feel like I listen too much to what EVERYONE says I HAVE to do and not enough to the individual plan Jesus has for me. :)

I think I need to add some fun to this post, since it is Friday. :) So here’s my LOL moment of the week.

I had a meeting with one of my clients this week. We said hello, shook hands, then he looked at me for a moment and said, “Do you always match your socks to your blouses?” LOL
I told him that I try! I didn’t really think I was doing anything particularly unusually, but then come to think of it I’m usually wearing brightly colored shirts so my sock tend to be bright as well. (I was wearing an oh-so-cute coral colored blouse and socks with calico shoes that had little coral colored flowers on them at that particular moment. ;)
I promptly added, “Hey, if you can’t have fun with your socks, what can you have fun with?”

So, my friends, have a great weekend, have fun with your socks, and look for the individual plan God has for you. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Weekend

I found myself wondering last night, “What on earth am I going to post about tomorrow?” My brain was dry of anything particularly profound or amusing. I’ve got a feeling that had a lot to do with this weekend.
We had one of “those” weekends. You know the kind. By 7 o’clock Saturday morning the whole family was on the porch wondering what on earth we were going to do. :P
The air conditioning flat-lined late Friday night, so we all woke up on Saturday feeling icky while my mother tried to find a repair man she could beg into coming over. In the wake of that circumstance our plans were official dead as well.
We’d set aside both the money and the day to at last finish the courtyard we’d been working on out front, but with the prospect of having to buy a new air conditioning our budget promptly went out the window. And somewhere along the way the favored coffee mug broke, burning a family member with hot coffee in the process.
But 7:30 we were all considering going back to bed. ;)
Fortunately, my father is good at rallying us, so after debate we settled on finally fixing the watering system in the backyard. We all got muddy in the process, but the yard started looking and working remarkably better as we went along. We were actually having fun, then I suddenly realized my dog was having even more fun. I found her lying in puddle, happy as a sow in her pen. She’s is the cleanest dog in the house every day of the week, but as soon as she sees me digging in the dirt she decides her chance to muddy up has at last come. LOL
So, when a repair man miraculously arrived, I picked her up and put her in the bathtub (which, looking back, was a stupid thing to do considering she weights more than 65lbs) while my mother changed the covers on the sofa. Yes, she made it to the couch cushions before we could stop her. :) Gotta love dogs.
And, in the middle of it all, I had a story I really needed to finish. It wasn’t working well in my head and I finally got to the, “Okay, God, if it’s going to work You’re just going to have give it to me” point. Shortly thereafter the story came to me in crystal clarity. Why is it so easy to forget I can't do this without Him?
All and all, it was a successful weekend and amusing now that I looked back on it. Currently, the most amusing part is, after all the work we put into the AC and water system so both human and plants would be happy in the 90 degree weather, we awoke this morning to find the temperature had done a freefall into the 60s and rain is in the forecast. LOL
Okay, now that it’s all out of my head, maybe I’ll be able come up with something profound shortly.
How was your weekend, my friend?

Oh, just two quick announcements. I have a book signing coming up on June 5th at a library in Fresno CA. Check out my EVENTS page for all the details.
And, blogger-writer Th. Mafi is having an AWESOME contest on her blog right now. Prizes include Amazon cash, sighed books, and query/manuscript critiques. You must go over and see right away!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Envelope Please

I’ve been blessed by several awards lately, so it’s time to pass them on. I’ve got a wild card here, so stick with me.

First, thank ever so much to:
Charmaine Clancy

Shannon O'Donnell
Julia Reffer
You guys definitely bring me smiles. Everyone else, go on over and share some Friday love.

Now to my wild card. I’ve gotten a lot of new followers here on Benedictions recently and I wanted to say thanks to all of them. :) So, if you’ve followed me in the past month the Blogger Buddy Award is yours. Take it, love it, share it. :) And I look forward to getting to know you better!

Next, to the Beautiful Blogger award. This one absolutely has to go to my friend Katherine from Katherine Alison Photography. The photo’s she posts can only be described as beautiful. Whoever you are, you have to go over and check her work out!

I’m handing out the “It’s Like We’re Soulmates” award to the three people who, when I told them I was giving Beguiled away on my blog last week, replied, “I just read that book and I loved it.” Doesn’t that just fit?
Christina Banks
Tyrean Martison

The “You Are My Sunshine” award is going out to some of my writerly friends. These are the blogs that I read and think, “Someone who understands!” (And, yes, writerly is a word.)

And now for a little extra Sunshine for more people who are sunshine in my life. :)
Carol J. Alexander
Please, go visit these blogs and say hello. :)
Have a great Friday everyone!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Question?

Q: What are you going to do today?
A: I’m going to change the world.

Q: How do you do that?
A: I’m going to change a life…or two…or more.

Q: And how do you plan on doing that?
A: I’m going to smile at someone, make someone laugh, help someone with something, give someone a gift, tell someone the truth, tell someone I love them, give someone a hug, listen to someone, write a book that does it all….Whatever it is, I’M GOING TO DO SOMEMTHING, because I’m done with doing nothing.

Q: What are you going to do today?
A: [Fill in the blank]

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Winner, a Crash, and a Plea For Help

Okay, listen up, we’ve got some important things today. :)

First, to the winner of Monday’s Spread The Awesome event! (drum roll please) Jen D! Congrats, Jen! Beguiled is awesome book. I hope you enjoy it. Everyone should jump over to Jenn’s blog and say hello.

Overall, I think my first giveaway went well…except every time someone left a comment I thought, “I hope you win!” By the end I wished I had 70 copies available. But fear not, I plan on having another one soon. :) And with that future giveaway in mind, I’d like to ask, how did you hear about this contest? Was a link through another blog, Twitter, Face Book? It would be great to know for the next time around.

Of course in the middle of the whole thing my computer had to crash. I clicked over to my e-mail and they randomly started to disappear. That didn’t seem good, so I quickly clicked restart…and that’s where it got stuck for hours. :? Unfortunately, my brother, who has always been my IT department, is working full-time now, so I had to wait for him to get home. (This whole adulthood thing is rough sometimes. ;) While we’re not entirely sure what happened, it seems in part Microsoft had corrupted itself. Apparently this naturally happens over time. So, he clicked something called “CCleaner” and now it’s working. I don’t know….
(A plea to my Apple loving friends. Don’t e-mail me and tell me this is a sign I need to get a Mac. Most of the programs and systems I interface with are not compatible with Macs. I’m sorry. That’s just the way it is. ;)

Now on to the plea for help. Have you seen the flooding going on in Tennessee right now? It’s pretty bad. A lot of people have lost their homes and loved ones. I actually have a friend out there who says his family can’t get out of their house without a 4wheeler. They driveway was just washed away. And they won’t have regular phone service until the end of the month.
Several writers located in the region are setting up an auction to help fund the rebuilding that will need to happen fast. They are asking writers, agents, and publishers to donate signed copies of their books and critique services. And if you don’t have anything to auction, please consider bidding. According to the organizers, the outpouring has been wonderful. For more information check here.

Well, that’s all for the moment. I hope you had a lovely, “Spread the Awesome” week. :) And remember, this event was about spreading the word about your favorite books and authors. Your opinions are actually as important as any reviewer. Check out my previous post on the subject for a list of great ways you can help.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spread the Awesome Day: Reviews and Giveaway!

Yes, today is “Spread the Awesome” day out in the blogosphere and here at Benedictions I’m celebrating with my first book giveaway!
What is “Spread the Awesome” day, you ask? It’s an ingeniously little event thought up by blogger-extraordinaire, Elana Johnson. We all know books are sold by word of mouth, so today we’re using our blogs to spread the word about our favorite authors and books.
I’m shinning the spotlight on a new favorite author of mine, Deeanne Gist. I stumbled upon her first novel, A Bride Most Begrudging, last summer by chance. Honestly, I hesitated, because I’m not usually a fan of American historical fiction, but the backmatter was interesting so I gave it a shot.
I read the entire book in two days and it instantly found a home on my list of favorite books. It was both witty and moving. The type of book that sticks to you…kind of like soul food. (Okay, so I’m from California and don’t know a thing about soul food. You get the point. :)

Want a teaser?
Drew O’Connor just wanted someone to help clean his house and care for his younger sister, but when a ship of “tobacco brides” reaches the shores he finds himself stuck with a feisty young woman who claims to be a English countess, kidnapped and forced to the New World against her will. Read more
After enjoying Bride so much, imagine my delight when I found out for Deeanne’s newest book, Beguiled, she joined with mystery writer J. Mark Bertrand to create one of my favorite genres: Contemporary Romantic Suspense. Let’s just say Beguiled kept me up long past my bedtime. :D

Want another teaser?
Professional dog walker, Rylee Monroe, never feared the streets of Charleston’s wealthiest neighborhoods, until a thief started targeting the residents. Though harmless at first, the crimes are becoming increasingly violent and it’s starting to look like Rylee might be the next target. Read more

Sound good? Marvelous, because I’m giving my followers a chance to win a copy of Beguiled with a signed bookplate. Yes, signed by Deeanne!
How do you win?
1 point for being a follower of this blog.
1 point each for following me on Face Book and/or Twitter.
2 points for each mention of this contest on your blog, Face Book page, and/or Twitter home.

You MUST leave a comment telling me want you’ve done, even if you’re already a follower of this blog. And include your e-mail address in the spam proof form. (i.e: emilyannbenedict(at)gmail(dot)com)
Contest ends at noon on Thursday. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

So, would you like to know how Spread the Awesome day get’s even better? Lots of bloggers out there in the sphere are taking part in this celebration by featuring their favorite authors and giving away books and we’re all linked together. Visit the next link this chain by jumping over to Jen Wilks’ blog where she is featuring author Mary E. Pearson. You can also check out a long list of recommendations at Elana’s official recommendations page.
And don’t forget to spread the word about your favorite authors! :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Fun, Awards, and Sneak Peaks

Oh, yes, we’re having all sorts of fun today. ;) I’ve got a tag, an award, and two big announcements!

First, Karen Lange from Write Now has tagged me with the Like, Hate, Love tag. These sorts of things are just fun. When you’re tagged you share things you like, hate, and love.
I like going to Star Bucks with my dad on Fridays.
I like shopping days with my mom (especially when we stop for lunch ;).
I like discovering a new writer.
I hate it when people hurt someone I love.
I hate it when I make a stupid, easily avoidable mistake.
I hate it when people try to ignore or put down others just because they don’t understand their differences.
I love writing.
I love making people laugh.
I love knowing how much God loves me! :)

Btw, you should definitely jump over to Write Now. It is full of great tips and info for writers!
Okay, so now to the people I’m tagging.
Alicia@ Life's A Journey
Karen@ Karen R. Evans
Shannon@ Book Dreaming

Also, Lydia Kang from The Word Is My Oyster gave me the Blogger BFF award. Thanks so much, Lydia! This is one of the cutest blog awards I’ve ever seen. :D
Everyone really needs to check out Lydia’s blog. As a doctor, Lydia has started up “Medical Mondays.” Writers can ask questions about medical conditions and she helps us sort them out so we have things right in our manuscripts. They are really fascinating posts.
And now to the people I’m passing this award onto. :)

Karen@ Write Now
Sarah@ Southern Sky
Linnae@ Scarabocchi
Jill@ Jill Kemerer: Christian Romance

Definitely check out all the blogs I listed today. They are all great. :D

Now, hurry, hurry over to author Sarah Scheele’s site today! It’s the last day of her online book signing. Don’t you just love this idea? If you order her awesome book, Facets Of Fantasy, through her site today she’ll send you a signed copy and a free signed copy of her first book, The Birthday Present. :D Plus, she has an open discussion on her fan page right now too! (Go on. Get over there!)

And last, but not least, the sneak peak!! (Drops voice to a whisper.) You definitely want to come back to this blog on Monday…good things are going to happen…like my very first book giveaway!...ssshhh, you didn’t hear it from me. ;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Characters We Can Connect With

Recently I’ve stumbled upon several reviews that all point out a similar problem within fiction. The common line is, “I liked the story, but I couldn’t connect with the characters.” Have you ever had that happen? It’s a problem for both the reader and the writer.
As I writer, there are few things more frustrating than having someone hand a manuscript back with the words, “I just didn’t connect with the main character,” but the experience has helped me understand what works and what doesn’t.
The funniest thing I’ve discovered is the differences between heroes and heroines. For instance, when I write an anti-hero (either a guy with a bad attitude or a full on bad boy), people generally accept him, find his flaws amusing, and cheer on his redemption. Anti-heroines, on the other hand, get rejected as “annoying.” :P I’ve noticed this both with my fiction and several well established authors. Heroines are generally judged harder than heroes. So, I try to stick to more sympathetic female leads.
Of course, there is always a certain amount of personal preference that comes into the equation. Some people like outgoing, brave heroines and some people like ordinary-girl types. I’ve written both and find they each have their merits, though, as of late, I prefer writing the ordinary-girl type. There are risks taken within the “good girl” zone too. I love to work with characters that have deep weaknesses and throughout the story overcome them, but sometimes stronger-willed or outgoing people just won’t connect. Sometimes I feel like saying, “Can you at least try to understand people who are different from you?!” ;)
As a reader, I personally like a wide variety of characters. I love the selfless wall flowers like Fanny Price as much as the witty and brash Elizabeth Bennet. (Both Jane Austen characters, btw ;)
The only ones I don’t like are the “Super Girls.” You know the type. The writer begins to set the character up as a normal girl…then suddenly has to add she’s got a masters degree, spent two years on a mission field, exercises regularly, snacks on celery, never has chocolate cravings, and, oh yeah, speaks multiple languages. A lot of times these things don’t really have much to do with the story. It’s like the writer just feels a girl can’t be a hero if she doesn’t have tons of credential behind her. That’s about the time I disconnect.
So, what about you? What types of characters do you connect with? Is there something in particular that keeps you from connecting with a character? If you’re a writer, is there a type you like to work with?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Just Couldn’t

I found myself in a predicament I’ve never really experienced before and it frankly surprised me.
It all started with the Writer’s Digest writing competition. The contest is open to several different genres from short fiction to inspirational articles. I planned on only entering the fiction part until Saturday night. Just out of the blue I thought of an inspirational article I could write about a three year period during which I battle a serious illness. My mom has been encouraging me to be more open about those years and all of a sudden I found a way to write about it that might be able to convey the incredible things God taught me during that time.
I thought about it for a day then finally decided to just give it a try. What was the harm in writing it out and seeing how it sounded?...BUT I COULDN’T!
After two very short paragraphs I had to jump to something else. I just couldn’t write it out! It might be perfectly constructed in my head, but trying to put the thoughts in to visible words was just too much. Eventually I had to push away from the computer entirely and seek out the comfort of a cup of cappuccino and the fresh air of my back porch. :P
I don’t know why I can’t put it down. Maybe it just hasn’t been long enough since those very, very painful years. I’d like to be encouraging and share the amazing things I took away from it all, but right now this blog post seems to be as deep as I can go.
The funny thing is author Brandilyn Collins recently announced she will soon release a novel based on a years-long illness she struggled against. I told her at the time I thought she was extremely brave and I didn’t think I could do the same…I just didn’t realize I would apparently be physically incapable of at least putting down a page on the subject. (sigh)
Maybe someday I’ll be able to write that article out. Maybe this post is a little step towards that. Or maybe that time is just a part of me, but not necessarily one I can openly talk about. :?
Have you ever found yourself in this place?

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Is Young Adult Fiction?

I know there isn’t an exact definition for Young Adult fiction, but I’d like to know your opinion on some questions I have on the subject. To be honest, I haven’t really read much in the genre.
To you, what categorizes Young Adult fiction? Do the characters have to be teenagers? Are there specific issues that have to be covered?
I know some people classify it as fiction marketed to young adults, but I’ve noticed as I travel through the blogosphere that it appears to be really popular with plenty of adults as well.
As to why I’m asking: I am currently working on cleaning up the manuscript I’d like to publish next. The more I read other bloggers’ reviews of YA fiction, the more I realize that a lot of the things I touch on coincide with the genre. Actually, when someone critiqued the query letter for it one question they asked was, “So, is it Adult or Young Adult?” It sort of seems to be a hybrid of Adult and YA fiction.
So, now I find myself asking, in terms of marketing, should I brand it YA fiction…and can I brand it that. YA is starting to look like a HUGE marketing right now.
My characters are age 24 and 25. I could potentially bring then down to 21 or 22, but not to teenagers (at least not without having to dramatically change the whole story).
Another factor is I write Christian fiction. Does anyone know if YA is something Christian publishers handle?
Again, I haven’t really read much in this genre. I didn’t even know it existed until I volunteered at our local library. When I was in high school I read all the classical English authors, so this one is new to me. But then, I never really read Christian fiction until after I started writing it. :)
So, please, tell me what you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Powerful Are Those Words?

I read about a really interesting study recently that could have a big impact on the way we write…and the way we live.
According to this study, a group of people were shown a video of a car accident. Then, a week later, the group was broken up into two smaller groups and asked to describe the crash. Specifically, group A was asked to describe how the cars “hit” each other, while group B was asked to describe how the cars “smashed” into each other.
The members of group A gave general, straight to the point descriptions of what they saw. Group B, on the other hands, gave vivid descriptions of the accident and even “remembered” details that were not in the original video.
Why? Simply because the word “smashed” stirs the mind much more than the word “hit.” This is true in so many instances. For example, the word “smacked” has almost an audible feeling to it. The work “yanked” has a much more violent sound than the word “pulled.” Even words like “stumbled” creates a better picture when compared to a simpler word like “fell.”
This is so important for writers to remember! It can enable us to create a great image in our reader’s mind with just a word, instead of having to ramble through a long sentence.
Of course, the application to real life is just as powerful, because the words we use day to day really impact us. For example, when we apply phrases like, “This day is going to kill me!” we are actually making the day even harder. The circumstances probably won’t kill us, but our mind is now convinced that we won’t be able to handle what we have to deal with. It has been proven that people who say things like, “This is hard, but I’m sure I can handle it,” actually deal better with life. Strange, but true. :)
So, whether you’re writing or just living, what words are you using today?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Living in the Lawnmower Chalet

Have you ever tried living in a lawnmower chalet? Hm, perhaps I should explain before you answer.
Several years ago my family and I dropped in on an open house for a very expensive home. While walking through the living room we noticed an interesting building in the backyard. For all intensive purposes, it appeared to be a shed…a shed with a wide front porch, gingerbread eaves, and a very elaborate light fixture suspended in front. When we asked the realtor about it, she said, in all seriousness, “Oh, that? That’s the Lawnmower Chalet.” I’m afraid we broke out laughing.
It has become a very big joke in the family. Every time my dad starts talking about retiring I just say, “Don’t worry, you can always live in my Lawnmower Chalet.”
Funny as it is, the whole idea took on a different meaning for me this week when I was thinking about trying to do things that make my natural self say, “Oh, that is way too hard. Almost nobody succeeds. Why are you even trying?”
I realized if I succumbed to those thoughts I’d end up being a lot like someone who lived in a shed their whole lives, wishing I could live in the real house, but assuming it’s too hard to get there. It would be so easy to just dress up the shed, give it a fancy sounding name, and pretend that I’m just fine living there. But it wouldn’t be fine, would it?
So, are you living in a Lawnmower Chalet? Is there are “real house” out there you’d like to live in, but you’ve assumed it’s impossible to get there? Are you adding gingerbread eaves to your shed?
Personally, I’ve decided to stop decorating my shed and start moving out. How about you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Link Love!!

Okay, I said I’d post samples from my “Share Your Link” board last month and then I blinked and March was gone. So, I am here to correct that mistake and give you a look at the great links people have posted.
Just in case you didn’t see my original post on the subject, the discussion board on my Face Book page has a Share Your Link post where you can, well, share your link! Post the link to your blog, website, Face Book page, Etsy shop, Twitter…anything you’d like to share with the other members on the board. It’s a great way to introduce you work.

And now to the sampling.

The John Springer family band:

Writers Blogs:
Janyce Lofthouse Swineford:
Julia Dao:
Karen Lang:

Esty Shops
One of a kind jewelry by Jasmina:
Satin Stitchery:
Finding Charm Jewelry:

Face Book pages.
Teen Harvest Ministries:
Extraordinary Life:

Please visit my page and add your link.
Oh, and just a little bit of added sunshine.
Karen at Write Now gave me the Sunshine award. :D Thanks so much, Karen! I highly recommend following her blog!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hug An Author

Have you hugged an author today? Well, have you? Let me explain. I was talking to someone the other day about the use of reviews and I decided it was important enough to post here. You see, no matter if your favorite authors are brand new to the market or on the tops of the bestseller lists, reviews are REALLY important to them. Why? It is a widely established and heralded fact that books are primarily sold by word of mouth. Yes, that means the words of your mouth are just as important as a blurb in Publisher’s Weekly. And the advent of the internet has made reviews even more important.
Amazon, for instance, is a HUGE factor these days. Giving a book a “one to five star rating” doesn’t require you to leave your name, but it leaves a lasting impression on future buyers. And clicking a “tag” to help better define the genre and subject matter helps Amazon’s recommendation generator. So, if you tag a book as Romantic Suspense, Amazon will recommend it to someone who has bought similarly tagged books.
If you can take a moment to add a written review to the page that only helps more. A lot of people, including myself, will read the written reviews on Amazon, even if we don’t plan on buying the product from Amazon. A short paragraph is very useful. A lot of other websites, like and, have added review sections as well.
Do you have a blog? Write a review on your favorite books! The people who read your blog value your opinion and might buy the book on the ground of your word. Of course, just telling people you know about your favorite books is great too!
These small acts of kindness really add up to a big hug for authors. And of course you could add a little extra love to the day by contacting your favorite authors and telling them how much you enjoyed their books. Most have websites now with contact information.
Publishers like proof that people actually enjoy the books they sell and sometimes authors need a little encouragement, especially when they are facing yet another edit (yes, I’m speaking from experience ;).
So, go ahead, bless an author today!
And tell me what makes you chose a book. Do you read reviews? Take recommendations from friends?

Now, here’s my plug for the day. I recently picked up A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist and am here to say it has jumped up to the top of my favorite books list! I wouldn’t say historical romances are my favorite genre, but this book totally won me over.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Author Paradox

I’ve decided that “author” is one of the most paradoxical careers someone can possibly have. Think about it. We start out spending all our time happily in front of a computer or notebook, writing out our stories. It is a quiet profession, characterized by long hours of peacefully plotting and editing…until you go from hopefully writer to published author. Then all of a sudden you have to turn into a salesman! You have to be out and about, pitching your story to everyone, calling newspapers in hopes that they’ll mention you book, writing things entirely unrelated to your story because you’re looking for new ways to get your name out there, and generally spending time you once used to write on hoping people will now buy your writing. It’s enough to send someone into culture shock!
Yes, this particular post formulated during a short conversation I had with a woman at my book signing this weekend. It was one of those “um, interesting” book signings. :P For the first hour to hour and a half I didn’t sell a single book. The managers were even starting to feel sorry for me. It was enough to make me wonder if I was going to go home that night and reconsider my career choice. But happily, traffic started picking up and peopled started making eye-contact with me. By the time it came to a close the stack of books on my table was reduced to one short pile which the manager had me sign and put out in the autograph copy section. (Praise God and deep sigh of relief) But still, one can’t help but stop and think about the emotional rollercoaster that is also known as authorhood. ;)
All and all, I really did enjoy talking with the people who were brave enough to approach my table. I got to meet a family of bibliophiles, several young writers, and a lot of sweet people who were willing to buy the book just because they knew it is my first. And there are those entertaining moments. I had one woman act like the book was literally singeing her fingers when she found out I write Christian fiction (a very strange “drop and run” maneuver followed). The last woman who came by was so excited to find out it was Christian based she bought several to give to others. That’s what I really like to hear. I didn’t write the book just to be an entertaining mystery. I’ve always hoped it would inspire people to think about the question, “What does it mean to say ‘I believe in God’?” I can hope and pray! :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crunch Time!

Ah, the day before a book signing. :) Are you a procrastinator? I’m trying not to be. There have been times when I start preparing for a book signing the night before. I wouldn’t really recommend it. ;)
This time I’ve actually got everyone notified, the event listed locally, and the posters to the bookstore. I even decided what to wear without having to pull everything out of my closet. (This is a great triumph ;)

Now it’s just down to getting the last few things done. I’ve got to find a couple of table clothes. I never know what table I’m going to end up, but they always need a table cloth. Last time the table was so small it could have been covered by a handkerchief!
I’ve also got to dig out my “guestbook.” Of course it will be really great if I can remember to ask people to sigh it. :P
Oh, and I need to find some cards to hand out to people who don’t want to buy the book just now. ;) Never let them walk away with nothing!!
Hm, I’m going to need to find my big purse too. Lol, I tend to think of things I need to bring right up until the last minute….Which reminds me, I need to go charge the camera.

Ah, well. If you’re in the Central Valley area of CA tomorrow, please come down and say hello! :) Click here for more details.
And if not, please pray that all goes well. The bookstore ordered a lot of books and I really need to sell them all.
Thanks! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surprised Even Me…

Do you ever do something entirely subconsciously that outright surprises you?
I recently finished a novella length story and promptly handed it to my mother (my front-line editor ;).
After waiting for a few days, I got up the courage to ask her what she thought of the story so far. Her reply completely surprised me.
“I really like it,” she said. “But it’s got such a 40’s flair to it. I feel like I’m walking alongside Marlowe.”
I understood the reference immediately. We practically grew up on 1940’s movies. It’s remarkable that I can see anything more than black and white. But I couldn’t understand why she would say that about the story. It had nothing to do with a 40’s detective flick.
That afternoon I picked the story back up and started to review it. About four chapters I looked up at my mom and said, “You’re right.”
The story and characters might have had nothing to do with hardboiled PIs smart talking police and suspects, and it quite definitively takes place in modern times, but there’s just something about the story that has that “grit and polish” flair. I can’t really explain it, except to say there is something about the atmosphere, the sense, the street level landscape, and the high-rise views, that clearly says, “Raymond Chandler was here.”
And I didn’t even try! In fact, I’ve never tried to write in that style.
Does that ever happen to you? Whether in writing or some other area of life, does a long loved influence suddenly pop up when you least expect it?

Note: Just in case there are people out there who didn’t grow up on the classic movie channels, I’m referring to the Phillip Marlowe detective series, originally penned by Raymond Chandler. If you give me the chance to watch The Big Sleep I’m probably going to take it. ;)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let Me Explain The Change…

If you’ve visited this blog at least once before today you might have noticed that between now and then I’ve COMPLETELY changed the whole blog. I thought I should probably mention what and why I did. Oh, yes, there is always method to my madness. ;)

I wanted to take advantage of some blogger features that I had previously neglected. For instance, you can now easily subscribe to Benedictions! Just find the “Subscribe Via Email” box on the sidebar. I’ve also set up blogger’s new Pages Gadget (find the links directly beneath the header). Now I can cleanly keep information permanently posted.
I also wanted to widen the whole blog. The traditional format was so narrow, every time I wanted to post something more than a few hundred words it turned into a scroll-a-thon. Personally, I’m allergic to too much scrolling. ;)
My sidebar was staring to look really messy too, so I streamed lined it and reduced the mismatched images to text. I’m not sure if that makes them less visible, but it feels cleaner.
Of course, I also have to admit that this blog has become my perpetual art project. :) And yes, the image in the header is a real picture of an edit I was going through one day. That’s what happens when you have three versions of the same story and you attempt to merge them. :P
Anyway, I hope you like it! Have a great weekend.

Btw, if you’d like to update your blog in the future, I’ve designed dozens of blog backgrounds and made them available to download for free at Like I said, this is sort of my new art project. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks Part 2

I’m back today with Warren Baldwin, author of Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and other gems from Proverbs. In the previous post I gave a review of Roaring Lions (very good) and we started talking with Warren about the process of writing on the subject of the Proverbs. Shall we pick right up where we left off?

What do you think the difference is between Biblical proverbs and the proverbs of other cultures?
WB - God and godliness is at the center of the biblical proverbs. We know that Egypt had some highly developed proverbs about the time that Israel did. In fact, there is some indication that the cultures may have been borrowing from each other. One Egyptian named Amenemope has written proverbs that sound remarkably similar to Prov. 22:17-24:22. There is some debate among biblical scholars as to which culture borrowed from the other.
Proverbs from other cultures wanted to produce good people and responsible citizens. The biblical proverbs try to do the same thing, but with the added ingredient of making the person godly.

Writing Questions
Do you have any particular method for planning out and writing your books?
WB - Yes. For the essay-style of Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks I continue to read Proverbs and focus on individual verses. A follow-up volume in this style is about one-half finished.
I am writing another book on Proverbs for teenage Bible classes. This is a very different writing process. For it I am gathering verses on a similar theme and reading and studying all of them as a unit.
I also have a book about one-half finished on marriage. For it I am selecting topics and reading, studying and writing on the topics I have settled on.

Was there anything about the topics in this book that impacted you the most during the writing process?
WB - Probably the topics on anger, envy and resentful attitudes. I have struggled personally in these three areas. I take comfort in the thought that I am on a journey to becoming more god-like, but not perfect. Some of the chapters in this book were written to me!

Is there anything you absolutely need when you sit down to write?
WB - Three things. One, a sense of direction for what I’m writing, even if it is only for a page. Two, a sense of purpose. I have to believe that what I am writing is going to express what I want it to say and will be of benefit to someone. Three, belief and patience. If what I am writing is for a book that will not see publication for years, as opposed to an article that might be published in a few days, I have to believe that what I am writing is really going somewhere and be patient for the journey.

Do you have any future projects you are working on right now?
WB - Yes. Two more works on Proverbs, a marriage book, a book of meditations for men, and a book of Christian doctrine. The last one is actually finished (for 3 years now) but needs a lot of editorial work. I simply haven’t gotten back to it yet.

An all important question for all writers: What do you find is the best way to promote your work?
WB - Another good question. You’ve had many of them, actually. The best way for me to promote my work is to get out and speak. I do seminars on Proverbs for churches, men’s retreats and Bible camps. I have done several and have several more scheduled for this year.
Another way is through blogging. But I think the personal, face-to-face method has worked best for me. Warren at a recent book signging with the owner of the store.

Fun Questions
After having lived and ministered in so many different regions of the U.S. do you have a favorite?

WB - I have loved all three states Cheryl and I have worked in - Florida, Wyoming and Kansas. But, I must admit that the mountains and snow of Wyoming keep my thoughts wandering back there.

Are you very computer literate or do you just know enough to handle day to day life?
WB - I am not very computer literate! That is a hindrance. But, I have other things I value as more important so I don’t take the time to learn more, by choice.

I gathered from your book that you and your family are very big fans of participating in sports.
WB - Yes, being involved with our kids in sports have been very important to our family. It isn’t a matter of sending the kids to athletic events, but of taking them and even coaching them. A couple of years ago Cheryl and I estimated the number of sporting events we went to over the years, and the hours involved, and it blew us away. But they drew our family together and have provided us with many wonderful memories. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

So, I have to ask, does Wii sports sound fun or annoying?
WB - Fun! Our three kids bought Cheryl and me a Wii set for our anniversary and birthdays last year. We have thoroughly enjoyed the games and sports.

If you had to choose a pen name, what would it be and why?
WB - Haven’t ever thought about that before! Maybe "Green Mountain Man." I grew up in the Green Mountains of Vermont and used that term for my CB handle years ago.

Would you like to learn more about Roaring Lions and other writings by Warren? Check out his website. And don’t forget his blog, Family Fountain! He also has an upcoming book signing on April 1st in Ulysses KS and does Proverbs seminars for Churches. Contact him for more information.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks

Most of us have heard the phrase, “A proverb a day keeps the devil away.” That line probably has plenty of truth in it, but there are some days when we need more than just a quick recitation of words in the Proverbs. I had the pleasure recently of reading a book that sought help me do just that.
Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and other gems from Proverbs, by Warren Baldwin, is a collection of discussion on 118 different Proverbs.

For over two thousand years the book of Proverbs has provided wise counsel and spiritual direction for God’s people. The short, rapid style and the piercing truths of Proverbs penetrate the readers’ heart, challenging them to align their lives with the wisdom they proclaim.
Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and other Gems from Proverbs brings the ancient proverbs into contemporary focus by applying their truths to modern situations. Marriage, parenting, friendship, work, money, and other topics are brought under the scrutiny of this ancient wisdom. Each chapter in Roaring Lions is a short essay on a specific proverb that makes God’s word to you come alive with fresh relevance.

As I read through the book I really felt Roaring Lions can be read in three different ways.
-It could easily be used as a daily devotional. Each essay does give you a thought to ponder for that day by applying it to situations in the world we face.
-It could be used to look into specific topics. The book is divided into eight different sections, centering on issues like marriage, discipline, relationships, and accepting God’s will.
-It could also easily be a nice, long weekend read. I rarely read non-fiction books quickly, but I found myself reading through the sections with the same intent I have with most novels.
I did plan on keeping the book on my nightstand so I could go back and check the topics whenever I wanted to, but both my parents have decided it’s their turn to read it next. :)

Interview with Warren Baldwin: Part One

To start, just give me a little bit of your background.
WB - My dad was in construction and we had a family farm, but at an early age he pushed reading and education on his four kids. He wanted us to know how to work hard, but he also wanted us to be able read and write well.
I attended college to study Bible, then went on to seminary. I am still taking graduate classes in Bible and related subjects thirty years after graduating college.
Cheryl and I married in 1982. We have ministered together with three churches in Florida, Wyoming and Kansas. We have three children ranging from age 17 to 24. Our son is now a youth minister in Wyoming.

Roaring Lions is your first book. Is there any particular reason you chose the Proverbs to start with?
WB - I chose Proverbs because of an intense study I was doing on it for Bible classes, sermons and my radio program. I developed so much material that I wanted to find another outlet for it. A book followed.

How did you decide which proverbs and subjects to cover?
WB - Good question. I would read through Proverbs over and over and these particular proverbs spoke to me. I studied them in commentaries and Hebrew language works to see what they might have meant in their original setting, and how they might apply to life today.

The first two sections of this book are about marriage and family. Do you feel these can still be relevant in the lives of single people or couples without children?
WB - Absolutely! The time to begin preparing for marriage and parenthood is long before actually marrying, or even dating. Having a happy, godly marriage for a goal when we are still single helps motivate us to live the kind of life that will have us ready for when the "right" person comes along.
Sadly, I’ve known some guys who one day wanted to settle down and marry a good woman. But, at the time, they were living for the pursuit of pleasure. When they happened to meet a good woman and wanted to develop a relationship with her, she was not attracted to the lifestyle and rejected any overtures.

Join me on Wednesday for the rest of the interview with Warren. We’ll talk more about Proverbs, writing, and some fun stuff too. :)
In the meantime you can learn more about Warren’s writing through his website: and his blog: Family Fountain.
He also has an upcoming book signing on April 1st in Ulysses KS and does Proverbs seminars for Churches. Contact him for more information.
Until next time…. ;)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Prolific Blogger and Creative Writer awards.

Last week I received two new blogging awards! :D (feels warm inside)
I received the Prolific Blogger Award from Christian at With Pen In Hand.
Thanks Christian! I really appreciate it. :)

“A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.”
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
Please visit Christina’s blog. She’s got some great book reviews and writing posts!
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to THIS POST, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit the Mr. Linky page and add his/her name, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

And now for my nominations! Please visit these blogs. :)
Nisa at Wordplay-Swordplay
Suzzane at Write At Home
Susan at The Christian Reader/Writer Connection
Robyn at Putting Pen To Paper
Abi at 4 The Love Of Books

And then last weekend I received the Creative Writer Award from Tyrean at Tyrean’s Writing Spot.
Thanks Tyrean! I feel so honored. Definitely stop by Tyrean’s blog too!

The recipients of this award must list ten things that make them happy. Just ten things? But the world is full of happy things! Okay, okay. I’ll abide by the rules. ;)
I’ve also nominated three more people for this award. Please check out their work as well.

1) The fact that God not only wanted to save me from my sins, but give me a victorious life here and now. For long time I didn’t understand that.
2) My family. It’s hard to express how close we are and how much fun we have together.
3) My dogs. All five of them!
4) Cappuccino. Enough said.
5) Anything Jane Austen related (provided it’s historically accurate).
6) Cheese…I cook a lot and am part Italian. That should explain everything.
7) My cute little green laptop. His name is Lappierre.
8) Old movies. Humphrey Bogart is the best!
9) The patio chair on my back porch. It’s the best place in the world to read.
10) Talking to all my Blogger, Face Book, and HSA friends. Love you guys!

And my nominations are….
Stormgirl at The Wind In My Face
Diane at That’s What I’m Here For
Bernadine at Keeping it Real

-And now a little confession from me. Between these two awards and the one I got last week I’ve sort of run out of people to give them to. You see, I’m a little new to blogging and regularly reading blogs. So, I’m giving out 8 of the total required between the two different awards right now and then I’ll pass out the others at another time. :) I hope the award creators will forgive me for this rather unorthodox approach. Again, please check out the blogs I’ve listed. :)
Programming Note: Next week I’m doing an interview with writer Warren Baldwin, author of Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and other gems from Proverbs.