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.