Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Tale of Two Covers - Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney

I've been looking forward to Lorena McCourtney's next novel ever since I read On the Run & Stranded, Book #3 & #4 respectively in her Ivy Malone cozy mystery series. I just loved that LOL! (Little Old Lady.) So when I heard that her next series, this time with Thomas Nelson, was to feature a sixty-year-old protagonist who inherits a limousine (and a dead body), I knew McCourtney was writing just for me. Enter Andi McConnell.

But here's the thing. When I saw the proposed cover for this book I was surprised. It just didn't seem to have the feel a book like this deserved. Apparently I wasn't the only to think this way because the final cover was changed dramatically, and now it looks terrific! Below is a picture of the two covers side-by-side. The one on the left is the first cover I saw, the one on the right is the final. I love seeing the different covers and how they often progress in the process. What do you think about these two? (Click on the picture for a larger view.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Waiting (My Writing Journey, Part 8)

As you will recall, my goal was to submit my novel to the Operation First Novel contest put on by the Christian Writer's Guild. This was the first one they did several years ago. What the contest gave me was a deadline. I don't know about you, but it's harder to write without one.

So . . . I sent it in. And waited. You know? That's probably the hardest part about this writing journey.

Waiting. It's not an easy thing. But if you want to be a writer, you better get used to it! I've learned a whole lot about patience waiting for editors to respond to my submissions. :)

To make this arm of my journey shorter I'll summarize. I obviously didn't win the contest. The top 10 submissions were to go to editorial board at Tyndale House, personally read by Jerry Jenkins. I made it to the top 20, which was a huge boost to my writing self-esteem but not enough to go to the board.

I didn't mind. In fact, I had a real peace about it as I know that's not what God had for me at that time. But I immediately jumped right into the submitting-my-manuscript-to-editors stage. At this point my book was only 67K in length, too. Not long enough. But we'll get to that in a future post.

Where are you in your writing journey? What have you learned?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour: Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe

Acclaimed music producer Matt Bronleewe has recently made the jump into novel writing. His first book Illuminated (Thomas Nelson) can be found on bookshelves everywhere!

I had the chance to interview Matt recently about Illuminated, and he had some fascinating things to say. Click here to read the full piece. Matt talked about his publishing journey, where he got the idea for the book, the hardest part about writing it, how his faith comes into play when he writes, and much more.

"I'd love for people to realize that history is very exciting, very meaningful ... If we don't know our history, we don't know our future."
--Matt Bronleewe

I also reviewed the novel for TitleTrakk.com. It begins thus:

Matt Bronleewe is a man of many talents. He’s an accomplished music producer who’s worked with the likes of Rebecca St. James, Plumb, Michael W. Smith and Leeland. He’s penned or co-penned a number of top-of-the-charts hits. He was a founding member and guitarist for the band Jars of Clay. Now he’s written Illuminated---a blockbuster thriller that could easily place him on the best-seller lists. With a National Treasure meets The Da Vince Code style, Matt blows out of the starting gate with this debut novel. “I love books,” he told me. “I wanted to write a book about a book.”

Read the full review here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Joke of the day

Q: How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two, one to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

I'd known about the CFBA for quite some time, but now I can happily say I'm an official member. The alliance features a new Christian novel every week, and members talk about it on their blogs. Just take a look at their upcoming December schedule of books:

Wed 7th thru 9th---Deadfall by Robert Liparulo
Wed 14th thru 16th---Try Dying by James Scott Bell
Wed 21st thru 23rd---One Smooth Stone by Marcia Laycock
Wed 28th thru 30th---Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet

I'm looking forward to helping spread the word about all the wonderful books out there in the industry today. Why not join the alliance yourself? Your only obligations are to include their blogroll and links on your site, plus of course, you'll need to feature some books. But you don't have to feature every single one. Members are allowed to pick and choose (Who can resist free books?). And they make it easy for you by providing reviews and blurbs you can use with your post. Click here to visit the alliance website and learn more. Director Bonnie Calhoun is great about answering questions, too!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Operation First Novel (My Writing Journey, Part 7)


Kinda has a nice ring to it, don't you think? Yeah. That's what I thought, too. So when I saw the ad in Writer's Digest for the Christian Writer's Guild's Operation First Novel contest (the first one), I knew I wanted to enter. It would give me a firm deadline to finish my novel. The top 10 entries would go to committee at Tyndale House and be read by Jerry Jenkins himself. The winner would be awarded a $50,000 advance and be published by Tyndale.

The real draw for me to enter this contest was the deadline. I needed one. Desperately. I don't know about you, but I often struggle with self-inflicted deadlines. I mean, it's kinda hard to be mean to yourself, you know what I mean? Am I the only one who struggles with this?

So I had a date. Now I just had to finish the novel!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Writing how-to books (My Writing Journey, Part 6)

It was just a college composition textbook, but Pearl Hogrefe's The Process of Creative Writing made an impact on me. I bought it at a local used bookstore for .$50 and got excited just reading the introduction.

I still remember it. It was like an epiphany moment. I said to myself, "You mean I can actually learn how to write better?" I'd never thought about it before, but this book was the first of many writing how-to books after that. Guide to Good Writing, a compilation of Writer's Digest articles was another eye-opening book for me. I picked that one up for $1.00.

These two books were the ones that got me started, but they certainly weren't the last. I've read countless books on the writing craft, but I've come to realize I've probably learned the most from reading other novels. You pick up what works and what doesn't by immersion, really. Read enough, and you'll learn more than you might imagine.

As the years progressed, I kept plugging away on that first novel (its working title is Thicker Than Blood). Sometimes I'd put it down for a couple weeks or months, but I always ended up going back.

Then I saw the ad in Writer's Digest magazine . . .

Monday, October 15, 2007

What goes into designing a book cover?

These sort of things fascinate me. A couple months ago, Bethany House publishers had a survey about which cover to use for Ann Tatlock's Every Secret Thing.

My friend Rel recently posted on her blog the results of that survey with comments from Bethany's publicist Jim Hart. What sort of things do they take into account when selecting a cover?

Click here to read the full, informative post. And by the way, the cover at left is the final version of the book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back to your roots (My Writing Journey, Part 5)

My last post on my writing journey mentioned something memorable happening when I was fifteen. No, it wasn't earth-shattering, but I look back now and realize, "Yeah. That's when it all began."

It was May 1st. I had a lined notebook and my favorite pen. One little story idea was all that I knew, but I started writing what was to become my first novel. My main character was to be a real estate agent. Her sister lived on a farm. And I wondered if the sister on the farm was to share Jesus with the other.

That's it. No outlines. No plot summaries. Nothing. Of course, the story changed dramatically over the years, but the gist remained the same, interestingly enough.

I still have that notebook and occasionally go back and shudder at my teenage writings. See, I knew nothing about writing a novel. My only experience was the many books I'd read. But you know what? That was a good thing. I didn't come into it with any pre-conceived notions. I just wrote.

And this is something I need to remember. I wrote because I loved it. As time went on and I learned more, it didn't come as easily to me. Words were harder to pull from my mind. But there's something beautiful about those first attempts. I believe fiction writers need to write, first of all, for themselves, and THEN think about their audience. Because if you're not interesting yourself with your story . . . then honey, you're going to have trouble finishing that novel.

Maybe you're stuck right now in your writing. Or maybe you're not a writer at all, and you feel like your life is just stalled. May I suggest going back to the basics and remembering what used to excite you? Perhaps it's something that still can. Did you always want to write a fantasy novel but got side-tracked on the latest fiction fad? Have you always wanted to travel to Alaska but let life drag you down? It's never too late to live your dreams. Sometimes it might take time to reach them, but start today by taking a step in the right direction.

Next time ... the first writing how-to book I ever read.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Clear Blue Sky by F.P. Lione review

I have a review up on TitleTrakk.com of F.P. Lione's novel Clear Blue Sky. I'm excited to help spread the word about the Lione's books. To read an interview I did recently with them, click here.

My review begins thus:

"I’ve said before that reading an F.P. Lione novel is like watching an un-cut taping of COPS, only you follow the cops home. But in a way that’s doing their writing a disservice. A Lione novel is about much more than the domestic disputes, car chases, and gun wielding criminals often found on the tv show. That isn’t to say these types of situations don’t make it into the pages. They do. But a Lione novel digs deeper than that. By following police officer Tony Cavalucci on and off duty, the Lione’s reveal the heart and soul of a cop. Tony’s story has already filled three Midtown Blue novels (The Deuce, The Crossroads & Skells), and his saga continues in Clear Blue Sky, the unofficial 4th book."

Read the rest of the review here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

FIRST Blog Tour - Demon by Tosca Lee

It's October 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 feature author is:
TOSCA LEE and her book: Demon: A Memoir
(NavPress, 2007)


Tosca Lee received her BA in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has also studied at Oxford University.

As a Leadership Consultant, Tosca works with managers and leaders of organizations throughout the Pan-Pacific region, Europe, and the U.S.

Tosca is a former Mrs. Nebraska-America 1996, Mrs. Nebraska-United States 1998 and first runner-up to Mrs. United States and has been lauded nationally for her efforts to fight breast cancer.

In her spare time, Tosca enjoys cooking, studying history and theology, and traveling. She currently resides in Nebraska with her Shar Pei, Attila.

Visit her at her website and her blog.

Read the 1st chapter at the FIRST blog here.
Read a review of Demon here.
Read a great interview with Tosca here.