Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sibella Giorello (Advice for Novelists, Part 57)

It's a pleasure to continue this Advice for Novelists series. I've asked editors, authors, agents and publicists their response to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

I'm honored to feature today a favorite author of mine, Sibella Giorello. Here's her response:

Ask yourself: "What do I love to do, besides write?"

Then kill it.

Seriously, if you're going to write, sacrifices have to be made. For instance, I really enjoy visiting with friends. But I can't write novels, home school my kids and chat with friends. Although it was torture doing so, I pared down my social time in a serious way. I rarely go to parties, I don't talk on the phone. This means I miss some friends, and bow out of events that sound wonderful, but my writing output has soared.

Another example: A friend is working on his first novel, as yet unpublished. But with a full-time job and a family, something had to give in order to finish the book. He chose to sacrifice what he adores--his workout. Now he parks his car several blocks from work, takes the stairs wherever he goes, and uses the hours saved to write. That sacrifice, as much as his talent, tell me he's on his way to success.

So, ask yourself: What do you love to do, besides write? Then give it up. And start writing.

--Sibella Giorello, Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of The Stones Cry Out (Revell) as well as the forthcoming The Rivers Run Dry (Feb. '09 from Nelson).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Molly Noble Bull (Advice for Novelists, Part 56)

Next up in my Advice for Novelists series, in which I ask authors, editors, agents and publicists the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?" talented author Molly Noble Bull. Her advice:

If I could say one thing to aspiring novelists, it would be this. Never give up. Keep writing and keep trying. God willing, you will sell--in God's own time.

--Molly Noble Bull, author of Sanctuary & The Winter Pearl. Visit her at her website here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mixed Bags by Melody Carlson

It's June 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!

This month's featured author is Melody Carlson and her book Mixed Bags (Carter House Girls, Book 1). The series has been getting some great responses from teens, and I enjoyed reading the first story. DJ is a likeable heroine who's thrust together with some interesting room mates.

Read a great interview with Melody here and here.


In sixth grade, Melody Carlson helped start a school newspaper called The BuccaNews (her school’s mascot was a Buccaneer...arrr!). As editor of this paper, she wrote most of the material herself, creating goofy phony bylines to hide the fact that the school newspaper was mostly a "one man" show.

Visit Melody's website to see all of her wonderful and various book titles.

Don't miss the second book in this series: Stealing Bradford (Carter House Girls, Book 2)

And one of her latest, A Mile in My Flip-Flops will be featured on FIRST Blog Alliance on July 1st!


“Desiree,” called Inez as she knocked on the other side of the closed bedroom door. “Mrs. Carter wants to see you downstairs.”

“The name is DJ.”

“I’m sorry, but your grandmother has instructed me to call you Desiree.”

DJ opened the door and looked down on the short and slightly overweight middle-aged housekeeper. “And I have instructed you to call me DJ.”

Inez’s dark eyes twinkled as she gave her a sly grin. “Yes, but it’s your grandmother who pays my salary, Desiree. I take orders from Mrs. Carter. And she wants to see you downstairs in her office, pronto.”

DJ grabbed her favorite Yankees ball cap and shoved it onto her head, pulling her scraggly looking blonde ponytail through the hole in the back of it.

“You’re wearing that?” asked Inez with a frown. “You know what your grandmother says about?—?-”

“Look,” said DJ. “My grandmother might pay you to take orders from her, but I’m a free agent. Got that?”

Inez chuckled. “I got that. But you’re the one who’ll be getting it before too long, Desiree.”

“DJ,” she growled as she tromped loudly down the curving staircase. Why had she let Dad talk her into living with her grandmother for her last two years of high school? She’d only been here since last spring, late into the school year, but long enough to know that it was nearly unbearable. Boarding school would be better than this. At least she’d have a little privacy there and no one constantly riding her?—?-telling her how to act, walk, look, and think. She wished there were some way, short of running away (which would be totally stupid), out of this uncomfortable arrangement.

“There you are,” said Grandmother when DJ walked into the office. Her grandmother frowned at her ball cap and then pasted what appeared to be a very forced smile onto her collagen-injected lips. “I want you to meet a new resident.” She made a graceful hand movement, motioning to where an attractive and somewhat familiar-looking Latina woman was sitting next to a fashionably dressed girl who seemed to be about DJ’s age, but could probably pass for older. The girl was beautiful. Even with the scowl creasing her forehead, it was obvious that this girl was stunning. Her skin was darker than her mother’s, latte-colored and creamy. Her long black hair curled softly around her face. She had high cheekbones and dramatic eyes.

DJ noticed her grandmother smiling her approval on this unhappy-looking girl. But the girl looked oblivious as she fiddled with the gold chain of what looked like an expensive designer bag. Not that DJ was an expert when it came to fashion. The woman stood politely, extending her hand to DJ.

“I’d like to present my granddaughter, Desiree Lane.” Grandmother turned back to DJ now, the approval evaporating from her expression. “Desiree, this is Ms. Perez and her daughter Taylor.”

DJ shook the woman’s hand and mumbled, “Nice to meet you.” But the unfriendly daughter just sat in the leather chair, one long leg elegantly crossed over the other, as she totally ignored everyone in the room.

Grandmother continued speaking to DJ, although DJ suspected this little speech was for Taylor’s mother. “Ms. Perez and I first met when my magazine featured her for her illustrious music career. Her face graced our cover numerous times over the years. Perhaps you’ve heard of Eva Perez.”

The woman smiled. “Or perhaps not,” she said in a voice that was as smooth as honey. “According to my daughter, kids in your age group don’t comprise even a minuscule part of my fan base.”

DJ smiled at the woman now. “Actually, I have heard of you, Ms. Perez. My mom used to play your CDs. She was a serious Latin jazz fan.”

“Was?” She frowned. “I hope her taste in music hasn’t changed. I need all the fans I can get these days.”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “Desiree’s mother?—?-my daughter?—?-was killed in a car accident about a year ago.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

DJ sort of nodded. She never knew how to react when -people said they were sorry about the loss of her mother. It wasn’t as if it were their fault.

“Desiree,” said Grandmother, “Would you mind giving Taylor a tour of the house while I go over some business details with her mother?”

“No problem.”

Grandmother’s recently Botoxed forehead creased ever so slightly, and DJ knew that, once again, she had either said the wrong thing, used bad grammar, or was slumping like a “bag of potatoes.” Nothing she did ever seemed right when it came to her grandmother. “And after the tour, perhaps you could show Taylor to her room.”

“Which room?” asked DJ, feeling concerned. Sure, Taylor might be a perfectly nice person, even if a little snobbish, but DJ was not ready for a roommate just yet.

“The blue room, please. Inez has already taken some of Taylor’s bags up for her. Thank you, Desiree.”

Feeling dismissed as well as disapproved of, DJ led their reluctant new resident out to the foyer. “Well, you’ve probably already seen this.” DJ waved her arm toward the elegant front entrance with its carved double doors and shining marble floor and Persian rug. She motioned toward the ornate oak staircase. “And that’s where the bedrooms are, but we can see that later.” She walked through to the dining room. “This is where we chow down.” She pointed to the swinging doors. “The kitchen’s back there, but the cook, Clara, can be a little witchy about trespassers.” DJ snickered. “Besides, my grandmother does not want her girls to spend much time in the kitchen anyway.”

“Like that’s going to be a problem,” said Taylor, the first words she’d spoken since meeting DJ.

“Huh?” said DJ.

“I don’t imagine anyone is going to be exactly pigging out around here. I mean aren’t we all supposed to become famous models or something?” asked Taylor as she examined a perfectly manicured thumbnail.

DJ frowned. “Well, my grandmother did edit one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world, but I don’t think that means we’re all going to become famous models. I know I’m not.”

Taylor peered curiously at her. “Why not? You’ve got the height, the build, and you’re not half bad looking .?.?. well, other than the fact that you obviously have absolutely no style.” She sort of laughed, but not with genuine humor. “But then you’ve got your grandmother to straighten that out for you.”

DJ just shook her head. “I think my grandmother will give up on me pretty soon. Especially when the others get here. She’ll have girls with more promise to set her sights on.” At least that was what DJ was hoping.

“Has anyone else arrived?”

“Not yet.” DJ continued the tour. “This is the library.” She paused to allow Taylor to look inside the room and then moved on. “And that’s the sunroom, or observatory, as Grandmother calls it.” She laughed. “Hearing her talk about this house sometimes reminds me of playing Clue.”


“You know, the murder game, like where Colonel Mustard kills Mrs. Peacock with a wrench in the observatory.”

“Oh, I never played that.”

“Right .?.?.” Then DJ showed Taylor the large living room, the most modern space in the house. Grandmother had put this room together shortly after deciding to take on her crazy venture. Above the fireplace hung a large flat-screen TV, which was connected to a state-of-the-art DVD and sound system. This was encircled by some comfortable pieces of leather furniture, pillows, and throws.

“Not bad,” admitted Taylor.

“Welcome back to the twenty-first century.”

“Do you have wireless here?”

“Yeah. I told Grandmother it was a necessity for school.”


“This house has been in our family for a long time,” said DJ as she led Taylor up the stairs. “But no one has lived here for the past twenty years. My grandmother had it restored after she retired a -couple of years ago.” DJ didn’t add that her grandmother had been forced to retire due to her age (a carefully guarded and mysterious number) or that this new business venture, boarding teen “debutantes,” was to help supplement her retirement income. Those were strict family secrets and, despite DJ’s angst in living here, she did have a sense of family loyalty?—?-at least for the time being. She wasn’t sure if she could control herself indefinitely.

DJ stopped at the second-floor landing. “The bedrooms are on this floor, and the third floor has a ballroom that would be perfect for volleyball, although Grandmother has made it clear that it’s not that kind of ballroom.” She led Taylor down the hall. “My bedroom is here,” she pointed to the closed door. “And yours is right next door.” She opened the door. “The blue room.”

Taylor looked into the pale blue room and shook her head in a dismal way. “And is it true that I have to share this room with a perfect stranger?”

“Well, I don’t know how perfect she’ll be.”

“Funny.” Taylor rolled her eyes as she opened a door to one of the walk-in closets opposite the beds.

“I try.”

“It’s not as big as I expected.”

“It’s bigger than it looks,” said DJ as she walked into the room and then pointed to a small alcove that led to the bathroom.

“Do I get any say in who becomes my roommate?”

“I guess you can take that up with my grandmother.”

Taylor tossed her purse onto the bed closest to the bathroom and then kicked off her metallic-toned sandals. “These shoes might be Marc Jacobs, but they’re killing me.”

“So, you’re really into this?” asked DJ. “The whole fashion thing?”

Taylor sat down on the bed, rubbing a foot. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good.”

DJ felt the need to bite her tongue. Taylor was her grandmother’s first official paying customer to arrive and participate in this crazy scheme. Far be it from DJ to rock Grandmother’s boat. At least not just yet.

“Well, thanks for the tour,” said Taylor in a bored voice. Then she went over to where a set of expensive-looking luggage was stacked in a corner. “Don’t the servants around here know how to put things away properly?”

“Properly?” DJ shrugged.

Taylor picked up the top bag and laid it down on the bench at the foot of one of the beds and opened it.

“Don’t you want to go down and tell your mom good-bye?” asked DJ as she moved toward the door.

Taylor laughed in a mean way. “And make her think she’s doing me a favor by dumping me here? Not on your life.”

“Here are some more bags for Miss Mitchell,” said Inez as she lugged two large suitcases into the room, setting them by the door.

“Put them over there,” commanded Taylor, pointing to the bench at the foot of the other bed. “And don’t pile them on top of each other. This happens to be Louis Vuitton, you know.”

DJ saw Inez make a face behind Taylor’s back. But the truth was DJ didn’t blame her. Inez might be a housekeeper, but she didn’t deserve to be treated like a slave. Suddenly, DJ felt guilty for snapping at Inez earlier today. She smiled now, and Inez looked surprised and a little suspicious. Then DJ grabbed the largest bag, hoisted it onto the bench with a loud grunt, and Taylor turned around and gave her a dark scowl.

“Thank you,” she snapped.

“Later,” said DJ as she exited the room with Inez on her heels.

“Mrs. Carter wants to see you downstairs, Desiree,” announced Inez when they were out on the landing.

“Again?” complained DJ. “What for?”

“Another girl just arrived. Your grandmother wants you to give her a tour too.”

“What am I now?” asked DJ. “The official tour guide?”

“That sounds about right.” Inez gave her a smirk.

DJ wasn’t sure if she could stomach another fashion diva with an attitude problem, but on the other hand, she didn’t want to risk another etiquette lecture from her grandmother either. Once again, she clomped down the stairs and made her appearance in the office, suppressing the urge to bow and say, “At your ser-vice, Madam.”

“Eliza,” gushed Grandmother, “This is my granddaughter, Desiree Lane. And Desiree, I’d like you to meet Eliza Wilton.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Desiree.”

DJ nodded. She could tell by how formal her grandmother was acting that Eliza Wilton must be someone really important?—?-meaning extraordinarily wealthy?—?-even more so than the Mitchells. And that’s when she remembered her grandmother going on about “the Wilton fortune” this morning at breakfast. Of course, that must be Eliza’s family.

“Nice to meet ya, Eliza,” DJ said in a purposely casual tone. This girl was pretty too, but not like Taylor’s dark and dramatic beauty. Eliza was a tall, slender, impeccably dressed, blue-eyed blonde. She wasn’t exactly a Paris Hilton clone?—?-and she didn’t have a little dog as far as DJ could see?—?-but there was a similarity, except that Eliza’s face was a little softer looking, a little sweeter, but then looks could be deceiving.

DJ wondered if the Botox was starting to wear off, as her grandmother studied her with a furrowed brow, probably comparing her to Miss Perfect Eliza. Naturally, DJ would not measure up.

“Eliza is from Louisville,” said Grandmother. “Her parents are presently residing in France, where her father just purchased a vineyard. But Eliza’s grandmother and I are old friends. We went to college together. When she heard about what I was doing up here in Connecticut, she encouraged her daughter to send dear Eliza our way.”

“Lucky Eliza,” said DJ in a droll tone.

Eliza actually giggled. Then Grandmother cleared her throat. “Desiree will give you a tour of the house,” she said. “And she’ll show you to your room.”

“Which is .?.?.??” asked DJ.

“The rose room.”

Of course, thought DJ as she led Eliza from the office. Next to her grandmother’s suite, the rose room was probably the best room in the house. Naturally, someone as important as Eliza would be entitled to that. Not that DJ had wanted it. And perhaps her grandmother had actually offered it to her last month. DJ couldn’t remember. But she had never been a flowery sort of girl, and she knew the rose wallpaper in there would’ve been giving her a serious migraine by now. Besides she liked her sunny yellow bedroom and, in her opinion, it had the best view in the house. On a clear day, you could actually glimpse a sliver of the Atlantic Ocean from her small bathroom window.

DJ started to do a repeat of her earlier tour, even using the same lines, until she realized that Eliza was actually interested.

“How old is this house?”

“Just over a hundred years,” DJ told her. “It was built in 1891.”

“It has a nice feel to it.”

DJ considered this. “Yeah, I kinda thought that too, after I got used to it. To be honest, it seemed pretty big to me at first. But then you’re probably used to big houses.”

“I suppose. Not that I’m particularly fond of mansions.”

“Why aren’t you with your parents?” asked DJ. “In France?”

“They’re concerned about things like politics and security,” said Eliza as they exited the library. “In fact, they almost refused to let me come here.”


“Oh, I think they felt I was safer in boarding school. If our grandmothers hadn’t been such good friends, I’m sure they never would’ve agreed.”

“So, you’re happy to be here?” DJ studied Eliza’s expression.

“Sure, aren’t you?”

DJ frowned. “I don’t know .?.?. I guess.”

“I think it’ll be fun to go to a real high school, to just live like a normal girl, with other normal girls.”

DJ tried not to look too shocked. “You think this is normal?”

Eliza laughed. “I guess I don’t really know what normal is, but it’s more normal that what I’m used to.”

“But what about the whole fashion thing?” asked DJ. “I mean you must know about my grandmother’s plans to turn us all into little debutantes. Are you into all that?”

“That’s nothing new. Remember, I’m from the south. My family is obsessed with turning me into a lady. That was one of the other reasons my parents agreed to this. I think they see the Carter House as some sort of finishing school.”

Or some sort of reformatory school, thought DJ. Although she didn’t say it out loud. Not yet, anyway.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Creston Mapes (Advice for Novelists, Part 55)

For those new to this blog, this is part 55 of a series we're conducting here in which editors, authors, agents & publicists all respond to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

All the posts can be read by following this link.

Today multi-published novelist Creston Mapes responds:

For me, although I feel "called" to be one of God's story-tellers, writing fiction is the most difficult kind of writing I do. For 25 years I've made my living writing marketing materials, news, and magazine stories—projects that I'm "in-and-out" in anywhere from a day to a week. That work comes easy for me. Writing books is a whole different monster. It zaps my energy and leaves me feeling spent. It drains me physically and somewhat mentally, because it does not pay hardly anything, unless you develop quite a large following of readers. I guess I thought that when I got my first 3-book contract I was "on my way." But the truth is, that contract was only the beginning of the challenges. This business—oh and remember that, it IS a business—is not for the faint hearted. However, if God has sewn that hunger in your heart to deliver his message through story, you will not be able to deny it. You will write without contracts. You will get hit with rejections and shake them off, knowing you were called for this. You will read and go to conferences and improve your craft.

I would also say this...don't write to gain glory for yourself. That is an easy trap in which to fall (especially once published). Instead, write to gain glory for God, while you learn to take a quiet, humble, meek back seat. That, too, I have had to learn the hard way—and am still learning.

--Creston Mapes, author of Nobody and the Dark Star Chronicles. Visit him online at his website here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Hunted by Mike Dellosso

It's a pleasure to feature The Hunted by Mike Dellosso on this blog. It's this week's featured CFBA blog tour book. I had the chance to read this book in manuscript format for Mike and offer my endorsement:

From page one The Hunted grabbed me by the collar and wouldn’t let go. It’s full of intrigue, supernatural undertones, and true-to-life characters. I highly recommend this superb debut novel. Mike Dellosso could very well be the next Frank Peretti—if you liked The Oath and Monster, you are going to love The Hunted.

I have a more detailed review of the book up at here that begins with this summary:

While playing in the woods with his friends, eleven-year-old Caleb Saunders is viciously attacked by a large, snarling, mysterious animal. His uncle Joe, a man struggling with his newfound faith, sets out on a mission to find the creature. Along the way he rekindles a friendship, and maybe something more, with the local Chief of Police who’s on a mission of her own. The two uncover things about themselves and the monster terrorizing their community they wish they hadn’t.

Mike did an interview with me, also for, and I asked him about how he got the idea for The Hunted.
Here's an excerpt:

C.J.: Share with us about the urban legend that originally inspired you to write The Hunted and how the story developed from there.

Mike: I was surfing the net looking for news clips that might stir my imagination when I stumbled upon this article from the 1920’s. Apparently in some hick town in Indiana the townies were claiming to see an African lion. There were sightings in the fields surrounding the town and a farmer claimed one of his cows was killed by a lion. The town was really in a panic over it. This went on for a few months then just stopped. No one ever figured out where the lion went or where it had come from. Soooo . . . this got me thinking. What if . . . ? You know? And from there the story started to develop in my semi-demented imagination. I put a supernatural, spiritual spin on it, threw in some quirky characters, and . . . there you go.

Check out more here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ask Andy McGuire - free teleseminar June 18th

Literary agent and author Terry Whalin is hosting a free live teleseminar with Moody's fiction editor, Andy McGuire Wednesday, June 18th at 7:00 pm EST. But here's the thing ... YOU get to ask Andy the questions.

Visit the website AskAndyMcGuire and ask your question while registering for the seminar (it's free and easy). When you ask you'll have the chance to download Andy's 47 page novel writing curriculum which looks to be full of great insights (I'm printing my copy out as we speak!)

If you aren't able to attend the conference by phone, it'll be available for download later, but you must register.

Sounds like a great opportunity!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cec Murphey (Advice for Novelists, Part 54)

Our Advice for Novelists series continues with multi-published author Cec Murphey. He has 108 books published, 17 of them fiction. Not to mention 700 articles!

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Cec says...

Learn the craft is common advice and I agree. I add: And make a commitment to God and to yourself never to stop learning. One way to see if writers have grown is to look at their earlier writing and compare it with their current output. If it's of the same quality, it shows they've stopped learning.

--Cec Murphey, author of the bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven (w/ Don Piper), the cozy mystery Everybody Loves Roger Harden, and many many more. Visit his website here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Evolution of Another Book Cover - The Unseen by T.L. Hines

I love seeing the changes book covers go through during their design process. I've talked about this subject before, but I found another book that's gone through at least two strikingly different renditions (and I suspect went through many more than this based on statistics of these sort of things). The book is T.L. Hines' debut from Thomas Nelson, The Unseen. Here are the two covers side by side (click on the pic to enlarge it). What do you think? The one on the left was an earlier version, the one on the right looks to be the final.

There's definitely the same theme going on here, but that final version is quite intriguing. Make you want to read the book? From the publisher's description it sounds pure Tony Hines!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Writing Update

The other day I finished a draft (the final?) of my second novel. Now I've given the story to one of my trusted first readers and will wait to see what she thinks. I'm sure there'll be another draft after I hear her suggestions.

If it were up to me, I'd have a third novel idea all ready and jump right in and start writing it. I have several snippets of ideas, but I'm still distilling them and contemplating which ones to pursue.

This is where trusting comes into play. I don't know about you, but I don't want to flounder around on my own. God knows what I'm supposed to write next. He knows the story I'm meant to tell, the one which will excite me and my future readers. He knows. That's encouraging. My thing is learning to rest and believe that.

I didn't do this last time around. When I was searching for an idea for my second novel, the one I just finished, I labored and spun my wheels and worried and did everything but trust God. I knew in my heart He was there and would help me, but boy it makes a difference to let go. That's my goal---to let go.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

So that's where I am in my writing, and perhaps it's why I've been a little silent here at this blog!

How about you, friends? I'd love to hear what you're doing (non-writers, don't be shy!). What are your summer plans? To-be-read lists?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tosca Lee (Advice for Novelists, Part 53)

Another great entry today in our Advice for Novelists series in which I ask editors, authors, agents, and publicists the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Here's Tosca!

Okay, my advice to aspiring novelists:

Don't do it. There's too much competition already and I have a troubled Shar Pei to support here. So help me out and put down the pen.

But if you must write, please write encyclopedia entries. Or obituaries. Or anything that I do not write.

If you must write fiction, and must write well, and feel somehow compelled to be clever and brilliant and relevant, then I guess you should invest in a good chair, at least, for those long deadline days. You'll understand what I'm talking about soon enough.

And please consider contributing to my dog food fund.

Seriously, the best advice I can give you is that as soon as you are done with your first book, get right on to the second, even before you've sold the first. Publishing committees will want to know what else you have. You'll also make it easier on yourself with that second or even third novel
if you have something in the works, almost done, or complete to offer. I wish I had done this--it would have saved me a load of work, angst, and general paranoia.

--Tosca Lee, author of Demon and the forthcoming Havah: The Story of Eve. Visit her online at her website.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mike Dellosso (Advice for Novelists, Part 52)

I'm pleased to be able to featured Mike Dellosso's advice today in our Advice for Novelists series. I've asked authors, agents, editors and publicists to answer the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

It's been terrific to hear all the responses. If you're just joining us and would like to read the rest in the series, click here.

Take it away, Mike!

Three things. One, never give up. The road will be long and hard and seem endless. It will test your faith, your patience, and your resolve, but it’s doable. 100% of published writers didn’t give up. That’s the truth.

Two, find someone to champion your book, be it agent or editor. To go from manuscript to published novel, every work needs a champion. He or she is out there, you just have to keep looking.

Three, all that being said, remember your writing is a gift from God, even the desire to write is God-given, it’s part of that whole likeness of God thing, our drive to create. Remember for Whom it is you’re writing and that ultimately He’s in charge of your future in writing. Be willing to submit yourself to His will and write what and how He wants you to. Doing that, you can never go wrong.

--Mike Dellosso, author of The Hunted. Visit Mike online at his website.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And now for something completely different...

My Dad sent me this video of the Monty Python sketch "Spam, Spam, Spam". I watched it with my sister, and we spent the time trying to hold in our laughter. This is so silly it's hilarious. No, it has nothing to do with writing, other than these guys are brilliant at comedy sketches, but laughter is the best medicine ...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Dragonlight by Donita K. Paul

It is June FIRST, time for the FIRST 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 we're featuring Donita K. Paul's Dragonlight.

My good friend Lori Fox has reviewed the previous book in the series, Dragonfire, and given a summation of the other books in her review here.


Donita K. Paul is a retired teacher and award-winning author of seven novels, including DragonSpell, DragonQuest, DragonKnight, and DragonFire. When not writing, she is often engaged in mentoring writers of all ages. Donita lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado where she is learning to paint–walls and furniture! Visit her website at

The Books of the DragonKeeper Series:


Visit her website.

Here's the first chapter:

Castle Passages

Kale wrinkled her nose at the dank air drifting up from the stone staircase. Below, utter darkness created a formidable barrier.

Toopka stood close to her knee. Sparks skittered across the doneel child’s furry hand where she clasped the flowing, soft material of Kale’s wizard robe. Kale frowned down at her ward. The little doneel spent too much time attached to her skirts to be captivated by the light show. Instead, Toopka glowered into the forbidding corridor. “What’s down

Kale sighed. “I’m not sure.”

“Is it the dungeon?”

“I don’t think we have a dungeon.”

Toopka furrowed her brow in confusion. “Don’t you know? It’s your castle.”

“A castle built by committee.” Kale’s face grimaced at the memory of weeks of creative chaos. She put her hand on Toopka’s soft head.

The doneel dragged her gaze away from the stairway, tilted her head back, and frowned at her guardian. “What’s ‘by committee’?”

“You remember, don’t you? It was just five years ago.”

“I remember the wizards coming and the pretty tents in the meadow.” Toopka pursed her lips. “And shouting. I remember shouting.” “They were shouting because no one was listening. Twenty-one wizards came for the castle raising. Each had their own idea about what we needed. So they each constructed their fragment of the castle structure according to their whims.”

Toopka giggled.

“I don’t think it’s funny. The chunks of castle were erected, juxtaposed with the others, but not as a whole unit. I thank Wulder that at least my parents had some sense. My mother and father connected the tads, bits, and smidgens together with steps and short halls. When nothing else would work, they formed gateways from one portion to another.”

The little doneel laughed out loud and hid her face in Kale’s silky wizard’s robe. Miniature lightning flashes enveloped Toopka’s head and cascaded down her neck, over her back, and onto the floor like a waterfall of sparks.

Kale cut off the flow of energy and placed a hand on the doneel’s shoulder. “Surely you remember this, Toopka.”

She looked up, her face growing serious. “I was very young then.”

Kale narrowed her eyes and examined the child’s innocent face. “As long as I have known you, you’ve appeared to be the same age. Are you ever going to grow up?”

Toopka shrugged, then the typical smile of a doneel spread across her face. Her thin black lips stretched, almost reaching from ear to ear. “I’m growing up as fast as I can, but I don’t think I’m the one in charge. If I were in charge, I would be big enough to have my own dragon, instead of searching for yours.”

The statement pulled Kale back to her original purpose. No doubt she had been manipulated yet again by the tiny doneel, but dropping the subject of Toopka’s age for the time being seemed prudent.

Read the rest of the chapter here at the FIRST blog!