Thursday, June 24, 2010

Check out my friend Renee Riva's new book!

I've been a big fan of Renee Riva's writing ever since reading her debut novel Saving Sailor, as well as its sequels Taking Tuscany and Heading Home.

I'm happy to report she has a new book on the market called Farley's Five & Dime, and it looks to be just as charming as her others.

Here's the cool thing---you can buy it now on Amazon Kindle for $.99! You can't lose with a price like that. I encourage you to check it out today.

Farley’s Five-and-Dime plops the reader into a fun, folksy, small town setting, with a touch of romance, humor, and sweet southern charm.

Set in the small town of Hog Eye Holler, Kentucky, in the 1950’s. Kids, and the young at heart alike, will enjoy meeting eleven-year-old Mazie May Farley; a cross between Pippi Longstocking and Caddie Woodlawn. The high spirited, red-headed whirlwind who helps her family run the local Five-and–Dime, has her sights on the popular town hunk-a-hunk, Billy Ray Baxter. In her comical, self-defeating schemes to snag Billy Ray away from Emma Jean Jacobs, Mazie is taken by surprise at the outcome of her high jinx attempts. When Billy fails to fall for Mazie’s numerous attempts to get him to invite her to the long anticipated Sweetheart Waltz, she raises the stakes higher and higher. Chaos and calamity ensue. The story ends on a note of sweet serendipity—but may not be exactly what Mazie was shooting for. Sometimes life has a way of surprising us when we are busy making other plans.

Read my interview with Renee at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Facing the ups and downs of writing

Recently over at the Scribble Chicks blog (where I post on Fridays) a reader asked this question:

I'm not sure if this is just me or all writers, but I always have so many emotions when writing or thinking of a story. This isn't always bad but it can be hard to be on the top of the world one second and on the bottom the next. How do you deal with the mood swings that come with being a writer? Again, this might just be me...

Here's how I responded:

It's not just you. Trust me, ask any writer you know and I bet they'd agree with you on this a 100%. I have had so many ups and downs during the process of writing that it's not even funny. One minute I love the story, the next I hate it. One day the words flow like a river, then next it feels like pulling teeth to write a sentence. This is completely normal. Sometimes I want to bemoan the fact that writing can cause all these crazy emotions, but then I realize that we can use these emotions to our benefit.

I'm noticing that many, many creative people feel deeply. It's how we're wired. It's what gives us the drive to do things like sit in front of a computer for hours on end writing about imaginary people!

I believe recognizing the fact that feeling all the emotions you're feeling is completely normal is the first step in conquering them. Because even though we can use them to our benefit, let's face it---it's not fun to go through a low time.

Here are some tips:
  • Step away from the computer (or notepad) and do something completely unrelated to writing for a little while - this will help you recharge. Try not to think about your writing at all during this time. Sometimes a break is just the thing you need.

  • Often we'll feel low when our perfectionist tendencies kick into gear (this is what happens to me, at least), so give yourself some slack and permission to just write. Don't edit, just write. You can edit later.

  • Watch a funny movie with a friend or family member. This'll lighten your mood. We writers can be way too serious sometimes!

  • Remember that God is right there with you ready to lift you up---but often we need to take the first step toward him. Ask Him to help you. He will, because He loves you!

  • Write through it. For some the best cure is to keep on writing no matter what you feel, and eventually you have to do this anyway, so why not get some words under your belt!

  • We are often our worst critics and way too hard on ourselves. Remembering that will help.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Answers to Your Questions

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for me to answer. If you have any new ones, feel free to ask them in the comments. This helps me to make sure my posts contain things that interest YOU! Without further ado, here are the questions and answers.

Rachel Turner: What do you think put your book over the top in the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest? Any advice for those writers looking to enter this year?

I wish I knew! Ha ha. Seriously, all I know is that I wrote the best book I could at that time. The Operation First Novel contest entrants never receive back scores or comments, so we don't really know for sure what makes or breaks our novels.

But with that said, I can offer a few tips for folks looking to enter this year. First, make sure you're submitting your best work. I don't recommend writing a novel and then dashing it off to the contest without editing it yourself first. (Though if I recall that's close to what 2006 Winner Tom Pawlik did, so what do I know? :) But you have a better chance if you give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts if need be.

Second, remember that even if you don't place in the contest it doesn't mean you're a failure and you should abandon your novel. 2007 winner Jennifer Erin Valent (Fireflies in December) submitted her novel to the contest, didn't win, and then after revision entered her book again at a later date, and it won! The same thing happened to me.

Martha Ramirez: Did you ever feel like giving up? How did you deal with rejection?

Oh, my yes, Martha. There were (and still are, frankly) days when I wonder if I'm on the right track, if I should just throw in the towel, if I wasn't meant to be a writer after all. But what I'm learning is that most times we have to disregard the doubts and press on. God puts desires in our hearts for a reason. I have a feeling Satan puts doubts in our minds for a reason too---to thwart the plans of God. It's imperative to press on no matter what!

I heard advice early on in my writing to never take rejection personally. Often it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Rejection can come for a variety of reasons, only one of which is the quality of your manuscript. Reminding myself of that helped when rejections came. I determined I was going to stick with it until I got where I wanted to go. No matter what. Did I have bad days? You bet. But I tried to keep my eye on the prize on those down days.

Julia Reffner: I think it's really neat that you were homeschooled all the way through. What part did your parents play in nurturing your gift of writing? How do recommend fostering a love of writing and reading in our children?

Mom never said one negative word to me about pursuing writing. Everything was always positive. And still is, I might add. She took the time to notice my interests and provide all the necessary tools. That’s what she believes is so important for homeschooling moms to do. It’s a parent’s job to water the dreams of their kids, not to impose their dreams on their children.

My parents never hesitated to take my sister and I to the library, and they never complained when we came home with bags and bags full of books. Mom created curriculum around our interests. She made sure we read some of the classics like The Scarlet Letter, The Old Man and the Sea, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the like.

She also had us keep a journal from an early age, making sure we knew she wasn’t going to read them (she felt this was important to tell us up front). She just wanted us to be creative and write without editing. I still journal to this day.

And she made us learn how to type! Of all the things I learned homeschooling, that’s one thing I use every single day.

As far as encouraging your kids to read, it’s one thing to tell your kids to read, it’s another to read out loud to them. By doing this you’re practicing what you preach, and you get some great quality time with your kids. This opens up the door to discussing what you read too.

Books are doorways into countries we might never explore in real life. Through books we can travel to worlds beyond the solar system. We can learn history and how not to repeat it and discover what character traits were noteworthy in others. Through reading we learn without even realizing it.

Next post will answer Koala Bear Writer's question, "What's a day in the life of a published novelist like?" The answer might surprise you ...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Go ahead. Ask me questions!

Okay, guys. I want to make sure this blog is interesting for you to read. Sometimes I come up empty with posting ideas. So I'm turning it over to you! For the next couple days I want to answer any questions you might have for me about writing, books, or whatever. I certainly don't have all the answers but will do my best to answer every one.

So take it away! Ask your questions in the comments, and I'll start answering in the coming days. Thanks!