Friday, September 28, 2007

Can you guess these 13 first lines?

I just had to pass this along. Angie Hunt blogged about it, and it was fun. Test your reading prowess and come back here and let me know how you did. I got 9 out of 13. I haven't read a single one (I'm sorry to admit) but you know how writing how-to books often give great first lines as examples? I've read a LOT of those! Check the quiz out here.

The Monthly DART (My Writing Journey, Part 4)

The Monthly DART.

That's what my sister and I called our newspaper. We featured news, short stories, editorials, the Sky this Month, Morse Code Puzzle (I was probably the only one who liked that feature!), jokes, concert reviews (Can anyone say Petra, Petra, Petra?), the occasional recipe ...

We rode our bikes around our neighborhood selling those things for $.50. At one point our circulation was 60, and we said that's what it was every issue after that.

I smile when I think about this endeavor because I see just how early these sort of writing tendencies appeared in my life. Now with I'm doing all the same stuff! We kept the paper up for at least a year (it eventually became The Bi-Monthly Dart). I read a few of them recently, and boy were we ambitious!

Then when I was fifteen, something memorable happened ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Dog Named Moby (My Writing Journey, Part 3)

It was an epiphany moment. I still remember it.

I was outside mowing our lawn with our non-motorized push mower. As I was working out there, I had an idea for a story. It would be another epic. I'd write about a dog trying to find his place in this world. Alright, I hear you chuckling out there. But remember now, I was twelve-years-old and in love with animals.

The dog would be a yellow Labrador named Moby, and the story would follow him as he tried to be various types of dogs---a sheep dog, lap dog, fire dog, police dog ... and those were only the first few chapters. He would fail as each one, of course. I knew even back then that without conflict you have no story! I even knew how the story would end (he was meant to be a family dog), but I never did finish that book.

Around this time was when I first started thinking about being a published author. Here's another thing for you writers to laugh at. I actually thought the way you submitted a manuscript to a publisher was to bind it all together yourself to look like a book, and only then send it out.

As I think back on these early memories of my writing, it amazes me just how long I've had the desire to write. Then there was the newspaper I started with my sister ...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Childhood Influences (My Writing Journey, Part 2)

My writing journey really begins with my reading journey. I was one of those kids who loved going to the library. I would come home with bags and bags (I'm not kidding) of books. Not all of them were read, but there was just something about having them available to read that felt so good.

In thinking about the books I loved most as a child last night, I realized I could fill this entry with them. I particularly remember enjoying the Childhood of Famous Americans series (Will Clark, Boy in Buckskins was my favorite), the Landmark series (The Swamp Fox of the Revolution was #1), the We Were There series (the one on Pearl Harbor is vivid in my mind), as well as anything having to do with American Indians (a book on Sacajawea was a fave).

Then, of course, was the Narnia series, every Nancy Drew & Hardy boys mystery I could find, the Dr. Dolittle books, 101 Dalmatians, Robert Lawson's novels (Rabbit Hill, The Fabulous Flight, etc.), Little Women and its sequels . . .

Oh, my. I could go on and on and on!

But suffice it to say, I loved to read. The worse punishment I ever received as a child was that I couldn't read for a week. It was torture! :)

This love of reading I am sure was what inspired me to pick up pen and put it to paper. Or more accurately, start typing on my Dad's Sharp Word Processor. My first stories almost always featured animals. One story I wrote I called "The Circus Animals" about some dogs who were setting up a ham radio antennae and upsetting all the cats who didn't understand what it was. They say write what you know . . . well, I was studying for my ham radio license.

My next "epic" was called "The Horse's Story" and was about Joshua of the Bible's horse. His name was Loopter, and I never finished more than a couple chapters, but oh I had great plans for it!

As I look back on my early years venturing into writing, I realize how God instilled these desires in me from an early age. That's what I believe---often the desires and interests we had as children really are the things we are meant to do as adults. So if you're wondering about your calling, try looking back to when you were a kid. Those innocent, unadulterated desires just might help to point you in the right direction now that you're older.

What did you always want to be when you grew up? For those of you writers reading this, when did you first realize you wanted to write?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kicking out the Fear (My Writing Journey, Part 1)

I got to thinking lately about what sort of blog posts you would find interesting, and what type I would enjoy writing. And while my writing journey has not been as interesting as Brandilyn Collins', there might be something of interest hidden in there somewhere.

So, I will try to put down where I've come from in my journey to becoming an author in the hopes that some of you will glean a nugget to help you in your own journeys. For we're all on a journey. Maybe you're still wondering if you're meant to be a writer. Maybe you know you want to be but don't know how to attain the goal. Let me start off by saying, don't give up. Ever. You can succeed as a writer (or as a doctor, mother, lawyer, etc.). Set your mind to it, commit it to God, put in the hours, and trust He'll take care of you. He will.

Fear is the bane to a writer's life. It will tell you you'll never make it. You aren't good enough. You don't have enough time. Fear is what will sneak into your thoughts as you lay awake at night. You can't do it because you didn't go to college. You can't succeed because you have a full-time job. You can't make it because your kids are little. Catch a theme here? It's called Can't Syndrome. And it comes from you know where.

The biggest step you can make in your writing life is to kick your fears in the shins---boot it out of your life entirely. I know this isn't easy. Just two days ago I was practically incapacitated in my writing because of fear. But with the help of my family, I realized my problem: I was letting fear run my life. It takes some discipline to say no to fear. But you have to in order to succeed. So step #1. Kick fear out of your life! When thoughts of doubt, discouragement, and fear try to enter your mind, don't even give them the time of day. Say outloud, "I refuse to fear. I will not let fear run my life. I will succeed as a writer." You might have to confess that multiple times in a day, but trust me. It will build your confidence.

As a Christian writer, I can't even begin to tell you how it has helped me to know I'm not alone, that God is right there with me ready to help. Turning to Scripture can be the best balm to a fearful soul. God isn't the author of fear. What was the first thing the angels said to the shepherds when announcing Jesus' birth? Fear not. I could go on about this because it's near to my heart right now having just come through a trying time. But I'll spare you.

Know this: You can be as called to write as a preacher is called to preach. If that desire is in your heart, I believe it's there for a reason. There could be one life out there right now that needs to hear the words you write. You could literally save someone's life through your words. Wouldn't all the hardship and trouble be worth it then?

I suppose my journey begins like many writers---as a youngster.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jenny B. Jones Interview

Jenny B. Jones is a YA author who's really making a mark with her Katie Parker Production series. The first book, In Between, had me laughing and chuckling to myself more than has ever happened when I've read a book. Seriously. And the second book (which just released), On the Loose, is just as funny.

But the cool think about Jenny's writing is that she deals with some serious subjects right along with the humor. Katie is a foster kid who hasn't exactly had an ideal life thus far. She gets into trouble sometimes and doesn't think she can do much of anything right---until she meets her new foster parents James and Millie Scott. A pastor and pastor's wife, they love her in ways she's never experienced before. And Millie's mom Maxine? Let's just say she's one of the more memorable characters in fiction!

I had the chance to interview Jenny for, and we talked about the series, how she got started, and much more. Check it out here. And if you have any teen girls in your life, I highly recommend the Katie Parker Production series. Heck, I recommend it to people of all ages! My Dad has read the books and loved them too.

Read a review of In Between by my friend Darcie Gudger (who also loved the book!) here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

James Scott Bell Try Dying trailer

I've been a big James Scott Bell fan for many years. His next novel (due in October from Center Street) is called Try Dying and marks Jim's first book to feature Ty Buchanan. It's Book #1 in the series and marks Jim's first foray with a recurring character. The trailer appears below. I'm intrigued!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Is multi-tasking killing your brain cells?

According to author & editor Karen Ball (who cites learning of this from various neurological studies) multitasking just might be hindering you in your writing endeavors. She recently talked on her Amazon blog about how she's learned to slow down and be more productive in the process.

Says Karen: "So how does all of this relate to writing? Well, in my mad drive to multitask, I've lost the true focus of writing. I jump from chapter to chapter, then realize I need to research something and jump from the page to the internet. Of course, when I come back to the page, I have to fight to remember what the character was doing or saying...and suddenly the excitement and drive for that scene dwindles. And if I'm not excited about it, the readers certainly won't be.

All of which is to say simply this: it's time to slow down. For me, anyway. Maybe for you, too. It's time to take a break from the mad scramble of life and just let myself sink into the moment. I'd forgotten how that felt until just recently, when I purposed to give it a try again. And you know what? It was great! I sat at the computer, fingers at the ready, FOCUSED on the page before me. And the scene that came was full of life and passion and realization. At first it was a battle to keep myself focused, but soon the character and scene so captivated me that I actually had to tear myself away."

Read Karen's full post here at her Amazon blog and tell me what you think. I could relate to this phenomenon probably too much! It's helpful for someone to spell it out. Recognizing a problem is half the battle, right? Implementing the solution is the other half, and I'm trying to do that in my writing life.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

F.P. Lione Interview

I had the chance to interview Frank & Pam Lione, who use the pen name F.P. Lione, for The Liones have written four novels (The Deuce, The Crossroads, Skells & Clear Blue Sky) featuring New York police officer Tony Cavalucci.

I've been a fan ever since the The Deuce hit shelves a couple years ago. They had a lot of interesting things to talk about including the challenges of writing their latest Clear Blue Sky (which deals with 9/11), how they kept the language clean without losing authenticity, and more.

"When God impresses you to do something, he anoints you to do it. But you still have to research and learn as much as you can ... Then rely on Him."
--Pam Lione

Check out the full interview here.
Read my review of The Deuce here.
Read my review of The Crossroads here.
Read my review of Skells here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Writing is . . .

Recently at an online writing group the "topic of the week" coordinator asked writers to fill in the blanks on this list:

1. Writing is hard yet ______.
2. Writing takes ______.
3. Writing will cost you ______.
4. If you want to succeed as a writer, you must ______.
5. Writing will both ______ and ______.
6. Becoming a writer means ______.
7. If you write, you must ______.
8. If writing makes you ______, set it aside for a time.
9. When your work is published, you will ______.
10. At its very core, writing is ______.

So . . . how would you answer these? Feel free to post your responses in the comments.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

FIRST Blog Tour - Sushi For One? by Camy Tang

It is September 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
This month's featured author is:


Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

Visit her at her website.

Read the first chapter here.

Read a great review of the book here.