Monday, November 30, 2009

Food For Thought

Here's a picture of my tea cabinet that I used as a sideboard on Thanksgiving.
Covered with an antique linen from my collection, you'll see the tiered stand that I picked up for 99 cents from Good Will, just right for the tangelos.  The dish with the pumpkin bread on it is from the new set I got on my November birthday.  The cream cheese frosted carrot cake I made for my husband's Thanksgiving birthday.  And there's his new book Of Plymouth Plantation!

I love creating little vignettes in my home.  You can see some more Tastes of Home on my personal blog.

Does the season of food and festivities provide you with any fodder for your writing? Share a vignette if you'd like and we'll pass them around the table for all to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Lost Manuscript of Gov. William Bradford

The priceless manuscript Of Plymouth Plantation, penned by Gov. William Bradford, was once lost for almost a century.  I don't know about you, but I'm just glad the poor guy was long gone so he didn't have to know about it!! 

The Bradford manuscript is the single most complete authoritative history of the Pilgrim life and travels from 1608-1647. Gov. Bradford, the second governor of the Plymouth Colony and architect of the Mayflower Compact, chronicled nearly three decades of the Pilgrims experiences.  It follows the journey of the English Separatists to Holland and then on to the Plymouth Colony aboard the Mayflower. It tells of their difficult arrival, in which half of their expedition perished during the first six months, and records their first encounter with the Native Americans.  In fact, this book is how we have come to know about the first Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Review: Beacon of Love by Darlene Franklin

 "Waves taller than a man and blacker than midnight curled over Sam's head and foamed white at the crest like a mad dog's mouth, ready to devour anything in their path.  One small wooden boat could not survive such a storm.

Papa knelt in the stern, holdin ghis hand over his eyebrows as if to clear his vision of the rain that obliterated the shore near Capernaum.

Turn back. Sam wanted to shout the words, but no sound came out of his mouth.

"We've seen worse."  Papa placed his hand on Sam's shoulder.  "Join me on the oars."

And so begins Beacon Of Love, a Heartsong Presents Historical by award winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin.

Capernaum Island, Rhode Island - 1815

Sam Hathaway left Capernaum Island, and he thought he would never return to the scene of his father's death at sea. But years later, as a doctor who has faced the worst of wartime battle injuries, Sam believes God is calling him to treat the fishermen and families of Capernaum Island. 

Judith Morrison lives with her father in the lighthouse, where he is keeper. Her first sight of Sam after his return stirs something in her. But her father and other men ridicule Sam for his fear of the ocean. When a great storm hits, the lighthouse may not endure it. With her father injured and the wooden tower damaged, will Judith be able to keep the lighthouse lamps lit, providing a beacon of love that will guide Sam to safety and reveal his true worth?

From the onset of this novel I was captivated by the setting of the remote island and its inhabitants. Beacon Of Love takes place on Capernaum Island, Rhode Island in 1815 Rhode Island.   The author presents dynamic characters that enter into a flurry of events that culminate in trying to survive the Great Gale.  Sam was haunted by his fear of the sea, yet felt called to return to his childhood home and serve this island community as its doctor.  When he is reaquainted with Judith, the light keeper's daughter, he realizes that she may have been part of God's plan for bringing him home.  Though she is an independent and capable young woman she has some insecurities of her own. This story warmed the heart of this New Englander and I couldn't put it down as the momentum kept increasing to the very end, which was very satisfying as the characters triumph over their fears and prejudice from others.

Darlene Franklin writes with historic detail and has the ability to bring her  unique characters to life.  I look forward to reading more from her in the future!

Don't miss my interview with Darlene from last week.  You can read it HERE.  And it's not too late to win a copy of her Christmas novella, Wild West Christmas.  See detail in the interview post. 

What are some of your favorite location for novels to take place? 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where Are You Going?

Today I went to my Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers group.  It's in a quaint town called China Village.  China, Maine that is.  Maine has all kinds of names of countries for their country towns.  Pun intended. It should take about a half an hour for me to get there.  Key word: should.

There's an expression that Mainah's say, "You can't get there from here." So, being directionally challenged that I am, which is not a good thing in a rural area with landmarks few and far between, I proved that statement. 

The hostess lives near (on, between, past, whatever) the fire road.  If you don't know what a fire road is, it's a lane created in rural areas where there are few streets so the firetrucks can get through.  Notice the picture below.  Obviously I was nowhere near a fire road.  But, the view was so pretty I had to get out and try out the new camera I got for my birthday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things Novelists Do While Their Novels Remain . . . Unwritten

I just had to share this video. I love this song anyway and these authors put a twist on it that writers can relate to.

If there was a secret video cam on you, what might you be caught doing?

Meet the Co-authors of Wild West Christmas

"Harold Miller III twisted on the train's bench, trying to find a more comfortable position.  Every time he moved, all the thin padding under the leather upholstery shifted away from him.  After spending the night in the Pullman, he wished for his plush feather bed back home.  If his father hadn't insisted he come out West, he'd be rested, not aching and weary.  Just the thought brought a strong twinge in his stiff neck.  And he'd be working with the numbers he loved, instead of heading toward some godforsaken place in Texas.  Why would anyone name a town Horsefly?  He hoped it wasn't an indication of what he'd find when he arrived."

And so begins a Wild West Christmas, a collection of four novellas by seasoned authors Kathleen Y'Barbo, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, and Vickie McDonough. 

Welcome ladies!  I love reading Christmas novellas each year and really enjoyed the stories of the Christmas courtships of the four
Ames sisters from Texas.  Let's introduce them.
"Romance takes root in the lives of a Texas rancher's four daughters.  Charlsey Ames loves being a cowhand until a dandy tenderfoot from the city begins opening her eyes to unexplored territory. Sharpshooter Lucy Ames takes a shot at love while traveling with a Wild West show. Horse-trainer Sarah Ames finds herself falling for a suspicious drifter with a gentle hand. Tracker Bessie Mae Ames is being trailed by a handsome yet guarded Texas Ranger. Will love corral these Lone Star ladies hearts this Christmas?"

 On to meet 'n greet our authors  . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Maine Writers Conference - part 3: Creating 3-D Characters

During the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers conference in Belfast, Maine this summer I attended  a workshop on Creating 3-D Characters presented by award winning author Susan Page Davis. Susan shared how to develop dynamic characters.  She is an expert at this, having written over 20 novels.  She has graciously allowed me to share with you my notes from her workshop.

Remember what Steinbeck said:  Poor fiction works like early westerns.  Get rid of those sterotypical black and white hats.

Find a system that works for you in keeping track of characters' stats and oddities.  But don't forget, some characters are meant to be flat (Or, as fantasy author Teryy Brooks, puts it, "Some characters are only there for cannon fodder.") 

Susan recommends creating character index cards to keep track of traits for use during the writing of a book as well as for later reference.

Five (overlapping) elements of the Character:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Maine Writers Conference - part 2

At the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers conference that I attended in July in Belfast, Maine,  award-winning writer and editor, Elin Lee, presented "Oh, Dear! Fiction of Non-Fiction?"   She discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using fiction or non-fiction to show your story.  I really enjoyed this workshop and Elin's insights. 

In one of her handouts, Elin shared some "Characteristics of Creative Nonfiction".  Literary critic Barbara Lounsberry in her book The Art of Fact suggests four characteristics of the genre.

  1. Documentable subject matter chosen from the real world as opposed to 'invented' from the writer's mind.
  2.  Exhaustive research which allows writers "novel perspecitves on their subjects" and "also permits them to extablish the credibility of their narratives through verifiable references in their texts."
  3.  The scene, describing and revivifying the context of events in contrast to the typoical journalistic style of objective reportage.
  4.  Fine writing:  a literary prose style, revealing the "the goal all along has been literature." 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Maine Writers Conference

This summer I had an opportunity to attend my very first writers conference which was put on by the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers.  It was located on the downeast coast in beautiful Belfast, Maine. What a wonderful experience, and I got to share it with my best friend, Daphne.  The conference lasted the day and was filled with a variety of sessions and workshops. I was thrilled about this opportunity. 

The conference was a big step for this shy writer as I was going to have to share some of my writings with my peers.  One chance to do so was in a "Live Writers Society" at the end of the day where the attendees got to read their work in timed 3 minute segments.  I read a poem I wrote years ago, "Lamb of God, Shepherd Sweet".  When the conference was done many of us headed over to the Weather Vane for some delicious Maine seafood.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

OWH Veterans Day Bloghop

The Homefront Blog is hosting a bloghop on Sat., Nov. 14th.  Participating blogs are displaying some of the cards that they have created for Operation Write Home.   Operation Write Home's mission is to support our nation's armed forces by sending blank greeting cards to write home on, as well as cards of gratitude to encourage them. Groups and individuals around the country create handcrafted cards for deployed heroes. So far 246,076 cards have been sent.

The bloghop starts at the  Homefront Blog  where you'll get a complete list of participating bloggers.  Many of them are holding giveaways so be sure to sign their comment boxes.  And while you are here please sign mine for a chance to win my giveaway!

A few weeks ago I went to a card making party and had a super time making cards with about a dozen of my friends.  We cut, glued, stamped, embelleshed, etc. and created well over 100 cards in just an afternoon.  We plan to get together again in January and I can hardly wait.  It's so much fun, but the best part is that it blesses and honors our military and their families.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Laura Frantz

"In the fading lavender twilight, at the edge of a clearing, stood half a dozen Shawnee warriors. They looked to the small log cabin nestled in the bosom of the greening ridge, as earthy and unassuming as the ground it sat upon. If not for the cabin’s breathtaking view of the river and rolling hills, arguably the finest in the territory, most passersby would easily dismiss such a place, provided they found it at all."

And so it begins, the fascinating story of Lael Click, The Frontiersman's Daughter.  This breathtaking story, told by author Laura Frantz, is my special guest.  

Greetings, Laura!  I just finished reading your debut novel, The Frontiersman's Daughter.  I was enthralled!  I loved learning about the world of your protagonist, Lael.  I've also enjoyed getting to know you a bit online through our blogs.

Please tell us about your blog and where we can visit you online.

I’ve been blogging since April 2008 and love to meet other bloggers/readers/writers online. Please visit at or!

Laura, how long have you been writing?  When were you first published?
I’ve been writing since age 7 and haven’t stopped yet, though I’ve been tempted to quit many times. I wasn’t published till age 48 but it was worth the wait!

Well, thats good news for me since my writing experience is similiar.  Though I'm not published yet, I am working on it - and am turning 48 soon to boot.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I dedicated The Frontiersman’s Daughter to my granny as she was such an encourager to me and never stopped praying for me and my writing. Sadly, she passed away during the publication of this book. She was an avid reader and loved to share Christ wherever she went. My younger brother, Chris, has also been a huge influence, as he forced me out of my writing closet of 40 years and told me to submit TFD and use whatever gifts God had given me. He met with my granny and they arranged for the manuscript to be critiqued by a professional freelance editor prior to my submitting to publishers. 
What a blessing to have that kind of encouragement and people who believed in your work.  I took a leap of faith, and came out of my own writing closet when I started writing online. It really has helped build my courage.  I've also met some great people in the writing community online like you!

What is your writing style? Do you have any particular method for staying organized while writing a book?

I must admit I have to discipline myself away from writing. It’s been my constant companion since childhood and, to paraphrase Stephen King, I’m really never quite comfortable unless I’m writing. It tends to take precedence over everything if I’m not very careful – my husband and sons, church activities, cooking, cleaning, everything! There are days when I get tired but it’s mostly being tired of feeling driven to write. I tend to write every day though I don’t worry with a word count. I just write as much as I can, morning,
noon, or night, always praying as I go.

Ah, kindred spirits we are!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Least of These

Over at Novel Matters, author Patti Hill is discussing Measuring Success as a Christian Novelist.

"In Jesus' kingdom, success is belief and meeting the needs of "the least of these."  What does this mean for the writer of fictional stories? . . .  I want my stories to demonstrate an aspect of Christ the Lord that is so winsome that the reader will hunger to partake of him."

This is just a nugget from the thoughts she shares.  I aspire to the insights she revealed which are truly goals for this Christian writer.  I was truly overwhelmed her eloquent post and encourage you to visit Patti at  Novel Matters to read the whole of what she said. 

Matthew 25:31-46 

I have some characters that are society outcasts in some of my stories.  I am inspired now to make an extra effort to develop the relationships that they encounter with others and be certain to show not just tell of the love of Christ.

How do you minister to the least of these in your writings?  

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Inspiration Box

  On the wall in my writing studio is a shadow box that I created a little while back. I filled it with trinkets that I had been collecting for some time that are a reflection of some of my interests.  I also included several inspirational sayings.  When visiting an author friend's home today I saw that she had a shadow box just like mine, only filled with different items.  This project was so much fun and another creative way to express myself.

There are all kinds of words inside my inspiration box including imagine, imaginative, imagery, create, dream, inspire, hope, wish, become and inside the real blank book in one of the cubbies it says "Believe".  A clay pot is also inscribed with Isaiah 64:8 which says, "Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter;  we are all the work of your hand."  You'll find the rest of the sayings below.
The photos open large so you can see the detail.


“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” ~ William Arthur Ward

"And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the glory of the Lord, all grow from glory to glory as we are turned into the image that we reflect" ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." ~  J.K. Rowling

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with in us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." ~  George Eliot

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.  Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” ~ Pamela Vaull Starr


Art, graphic design, and photography help fuel my creativity.  What ways of creative expression help inspire your writing?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

To Write or Not to Write

This weekened I've been a busy little bee with my writing.  I finished an article for the local paper special edition 5 days before deadline.  How'd I do that?  I thought the deadline was sooner.  Felt so good to have it in early!

I went on the Barbour Books website as they have new publishing projects posted from time to time.  This one is Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover’s Soul the deadline is tomorrow, Nov. 2nd.  They require two 500 word devotionals.  Can I do it?  Yes!  I'm excited about this one and hope they'll accept my submission.

I learned at Seekerville about the RWA Silicon Valley's Gotcha! Contest.  Unpubbed writers send in their  first 15 pages of their romance manuscript. 4 entries in each category, inspirational included, will be reviewed by a Harlequin editor.  Problem.  Deadline is Nov. 4th.  I'm still debating if this is even feasible.  Last time I had a chance to enter a first 15 page Audience with an Agent contest  I determined it was cutting it too close and it just wasn't fitting in.  I decided to wait until their next one next year.  Same goes for the Launching a Star Contest at Spacecoast Authors of Romance (RWA)   in September.  It just wasn't going to happen this year.

The more I learn about these opportunities I am naturally drawn to them, but it isn't always realistic.   That also goes for NaNoWriMo.  I've never participated and can't do it this November either since I have a lot of website work going on, three interviews (I'm one of them and two I'm hosting), and some book reviews to get done.   I'm trying to not create a crisis over my writing and take it in stride.  I never realized that writing would require so much discernment. And a lot of prayer.

How do you decide when to get involved in a writing project or not?  How do you feel about contests?