Calling All Writers!!

For a chance to win an evaluation of your proposal by a professional freelance reader, visit Seekerville Monday, January 12 at http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/

All you have to do to enter the drawing is read Crystal Laine Miller’s excellent post, “Dare Your Reader to Risk Reading Your Book” that’s chock full of tips on getting past a publisher’s reader and then leave a comment.

The drawing will take place on Wednesday, January 14.

Don’t miss this terrific opportunity for a free evaluation of your manuscript’s first three chapters and synopsis.
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Fire in Boulder County

There is a horrendous fire burning to the west of our town, right along the foothills. It’s a tricky time of year for fires. The front range of Colorado has been so dry. The Open Space that Boulder County is proud of is tinder dry. All it took was a power pole to blow over and spark and voila! we have a wildfire. Of course, the warm, chinook winds we’re having today aren’t helping any. Sustained wind (not gusts) of 50 mph have been howling all day. Last time I heard, three houses and a barn have been burned and the fire is working on 1000+ acres.

People bring their animals to the Fairgrounds in emergencies like this. The facilities filled up so fast, they had to find additional shelter. Sombrero Ranches, where my daughter works during the summers, offered to take in horses being evacuated. She and my son are over at the ranch this evening trying to get all the nervous newcomers settled in.

Fire, like all the natural disasters pinging our country, wrecks havoc in the lives of innocent people. My prayers go out for the residents in harms’ way, and for the emergency personnel fighting to protect homes and save lives.

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Check It Out

Drop over to the Seekerville blog this week and spend 6 wonderful days discovering how to make money in the writing market.

Monday: Deb Ng on professional blogging
Tuesday: Cindi Myers on the working writer
Wednesday: Michael Bracken on writing for the Confessions
Thursday: Abingdon Press Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction, Barbara Scott
Friday: Myra L Johnson on the Christian non-fiction market
Saturday: Tina Russo shares on writing romantic fiction for Woman’s World Magazine

You won’t want to miss this exciting line-up! And, stop in every day, make a comment, and you’ll be in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate for Amazon!!

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The Road Runs Ahead

…Rather than falling behind, which is a good thing, because although 2008 had its good points, it’s time to tuck the old Cabela’s calendar away and focus on the new Lighthouse 2009 model hanging proudly on my kitchen wall.

Instead of a list of resolutions, I’d like to post a list of the many opportunities I’m looking forward to in 2009:

  • attending the National Western Stockshow here in Denver. I do, afterall, write cowboy romance : )
  • celebrating Valentine’s Day, my most favorite silly holiday. I don’t think I’m capable of writing a novel without some thread of romance in it.
  • snow storms and spring days
  • spring break at our farm in Montana. Glasgow, MT is about a 12 hour drive from Denver, and we’d make the trip much more often if only the state Wyoming wasn’t in the way : ) Only kidding, Wyoming is a great place, filled with likeable people and changing scenery. Maybe central Montana could stand to be cut out. No, I love the badlands we drive through and all the herds of deer and antelope we race along the way. Okay, I guess we need to keep the entire drive in tact.
  • Easter
  • daughter returning from college for the summer.
  • son finishing his junior year of high school, ready to get senior year over with, too : )
  • the Crested Butte Writers Conference
  • 4th of July in Montana
  • Boulder County Fair
  • Colorado State Fair
  • daughter going back to college : )
  • son going back to school and peace and quiet reigning in the house once again : )
  • husband, son, and daughter enjoying all the hunting seasons that begin in the fall and go on for months : )
  • ACFW Writers Conference hosted here in Denver this year!!
  • fall colors and the scent of cooler days in the air
  • first snow
  • second snow
  • Thanksgiving in Montana
  • Advent Season
  • Christmas
  • enjoying my friends and family all through the year.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus live in your hearts all year long and may 2009 bring joy, challenge, contentment to your life. Happy New Year, 2009!

Blessings to you!!

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Interview with Leslie Ann Sartor

Exciting news! I will be interviewing Leslie Ann Sartor contracted, award-winning screenwriter on the Seekerville blog on Friday, January 2! You won’t want to miss the exciting information Leslie has to share on screenwriting. The Seekers are always gracious hosts with food and fun abounding. Come and kick off the New Year in style : )

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Averting Disaster

Have you ever had one of those days?

My son and I shared one of those days recently. He wanted to play an Internet game with some of his friends, so of course, being the wonderful mom that I am : ), agreed to let him bring his computer up to my office, disconnect the Internet from my computer and power his up.

Piece of cake, Mom. Nothing to worry about.

I believed him. He had a great time that night and in the morning, I reminded him to hook my computer back up. Switching cords back and forth, he pushed his computer away and turned mine on.

Nothing.

Wait Mom, Beeper said this was easy.

Beeper? How in the world can anyone rely on advice from someone named Beeper? Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I turned my mind to laundry and dishes, in hopes that good, honest work would somehow right my world.

Um, Mom? Now before you get mad. . .

Mad? Sick to my stomach was more like it. Three years of stuff lived on the hard drive of that computer. I followed him into my office where he’d reconnected his computer and called up the HP troubleshooting center. He read off the instructions, I watched for the appropriate light to blink. Ooookay, let’s try the next fix.

And the next one.

And the next one.

An hour later, we pronounced my old faithful, workhorse of a computer dead.

My son felt sooooo bad about the situation. I, oddly enough, wasn’t that upset. You see, about 3 weeks earlier, I had one of those feelings to check the update on my external drive. Hmm, only my files were backed up, not the entire drive. So reset the commands and at precisely noon each day, my entire hard drive was backed up to my external drive.

BTW, I don’t write on the computer with the Internet. I write on my little laptop across the room. No Internet, no Mahjong, no Solitaire.

No Disractions. Only books.

This computer melt down was a fluke. My son had pulled the wrong cord at the wrong time. All I lost was my Favorite list on the Internet : )

And, all’s well that ends well. I have confiscated his computer until I receive one from a friend of mine who has an extra (God does provide, LOL). My husband is going to route the Internet downstairs so the kids can have that computer to piddle around with all they want.

And I get sole custody of my office.

2009 is looking mighty bright to me : )

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Merry Christmas to all on the most blessed day!
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Connealy Crunch Candy

This is a fantastic recipe that’s easy to make and requires few ingredients. Fast, fun and tasty, you’ll love it!

2 lbs. Almond Bark (melted)

Melt in the microwave 1-1/2 minutes. Stir. Melt 1-1/2 minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn’t lose it’s shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if it is enough.

Add:

3 C. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal
3 C. Miniature Marshmallows
3 C. Rice Krispies
3 C. Mixed nuts

Spread out on waxed paper. Let cool. Break into bite sized pieces.
Enjoy!!

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Holiday Eating Tips

A reader on About.com sent these holiday eating tips, and they appear on other various Internet sites. The best guess is that some variation of this was originally written by Craig Wilson, a columnist for USA Today. For more fun from Craig, see his Final Word Archive.

Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

  • Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
  • If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  • As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  • Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  • Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  • If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
  • Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
  • Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
  • One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention.
  • Reread tips, then start over. But hurry: January is just around the corner.

    Posted in Christmas, Comfort, Trivia | Comments Off on Holiday Eating Tips

    Welcome, Carol Steward!

    Welcome, Carol, and thanks for telling us all about your current series for Love Inspired Suspense. Carol lives in Colorado, keeps a full time job, and writes terrific romantic suspense. Her latest book, Shield of Refuge is a November 2008 release and available through book stores. If you are unable to find Shield of Refuge, or any of her other books, please check with your favorite online store!!

    IN THE LINE OF FIRE is a series about three siblings working in different areas of the justice system who find love while struggling to keep peace in their communities and in their family. Drugs, assault, and corruption are all part of the Matthews family’s daily battles. Someone is terrorizing Northern Colorado communities throughout the series; assaulting, kidnaping, and killing female victims and threatening even the heroes’ and heroines’ safety. Will the forces against the Matthews siblings break through their armor of faith (Ephesians 6: 10-17), or will they overcome the enemy, allowing God’s light to shine?
    Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

    That’s a tough question! Intentionally, I don’t write anything of myself, but I do write what I know, so that means a lot more of what I believe and respect filter into my writing. Such as my love of God, family and a few of my hobbies and interests. I guess it’s impossible to say I don’t write myself into my characters, isn’t it? As far as the characters personality, that isn’t me. I am not nearly as witty and positive in real life. :0(

    What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

    1. I wish I’d learned to set daily goals earlier in my career.
    2. Had more faith in my writing.
    3. Found a better way to balance family time and writing time. I always wrote late at night and into the morning when my three children were young. It worked well then, but now that they’re grown and gone, I have a tougher time staying up that late.

    What should a new writer know about the publishing business.

    Publishing and writing has a lot of highs and lows. Just because one story doesn’t work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on the next book. I think that’s one thing I’ve seen pay off the most with this group. Perseverance is critical. It’s important to not take anything for granted and always keep writing.

    What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

    I guess that depends on who you ask. My sisters think writing is pretty quirky. My children think I’m pretty quirky all the time, but especially when my husband and I go crazy and have a “trading spaces” weekend and redecorate a room in our house. We love bringing something back to it’s original beauty or transforming and bringing new life to an old space.

    What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

    When I was writing my first book, I asked God to take away the desire to write. He clearly said, “No, keep writing.” I never dreamed that I would sell so quickly when I said “Okay, show me the way, Lord.” Suddenly, I found writers groups and critique groups, and conferences. It wasn’t easy to let go of my lucrative cake business for something I had not even gone public with yet. Not only am I thankful that God showed me the way in writing, but how to let Him guide me in life and with my family. It gets pretty chaotic at times, and I could not do it alone.

    What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

    Letting go of the need to revise constantly. With the first book, I was just learning, and I had time to revise, and revise, and revise. Once it sold, and I was selling on partials and trying to finish a book in 6 months or less, that was no longer an option. I had to keep moving through the book and learn to edit differently, after the story is told. It was really tough to do this with my last contract because I was working full time and writing four books, with 5 months per book and no time to regroup in between. I had several hurdles to jump with them, but figuring out where the story had to go and quickly letting go of things that didn’t work was all I could do. I know that they could have been better books if I’d had more time, but I also suspect I would have wasted a lot more time second-guessing myself, too. I think the writing process is full of these kind of hurdles – and what’s worse, is just when I learn to handle one challenge, another challenge comes up. I’ve learned how it’s not only important to keep trying different techniques and styles, but that my writing can even get better through the challenges. I’m not afraid to let go when something doesn’t work. Sometimes I think writers need to just write the full story, then go back and layer in the character development, the red herrings, and analyze how to improve the story. A lot of times, if you stop spinning your wheels on one scene, a scene or two later you will probably figure out what went wrong in the problem scene. But again, don’t stop and let the wheels spin again in the new place, take notes and keep moving.

    What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

    I loved writing about Amber Scott and Garrett Matthews, and all of the characters in the In the Line of Fire series, actually. Amber had a lot of self-appointed expectations for herself and like Garrett, had a strong determination to succeed, no matter the cost. They’re a lot like each of us, we don’t know how much we can do until we run into a roadblock. It’s then we find out how deep our faith really is.

    What themes exist in Shield of Refuge that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren’t overt but developed as the story progressed?

    I try to work with themes, but it’s hard for me to start with one in mind. Even when I do, it often changes. I let that develop as the story does, but for “Shield” I think forgiveness. It’s so easy for bitterness and resentment to poison our lives. Both Amber and Garrett wear a shield to keep distractions away. Neither one wants to jeopardize their goals. It was that much more rewarding when they were able to let God take over the job of shielding them and guiding them toward one another.

    I’ve found that each book has taught me something as I wrote it. What did you take away from writing this book?

    Like He did Amber & Garrett as life hit them in the gut I was reminded that God can sustain me through everything life throws at me. And like them, I don’t learn much about myself, or life, or faith when life is going smoothly. The more I need to rely on God, the more I’m learning, about myself and God’s plan for my life.

    How do you balance family life with writing?

    I don’t. I’m compulsive with everything. I work long hours. I developed terrible sleep habits as a teen, and have always worked more than one job, no matter what it might be. It’s catching up with me now and I’m trying to learn how to reprioritize to take better care of myself.

    I sold this series when my house was empty. My kids were all living out of town. I have a day job that I really love. I was going to fill the quiet evenings with writing again. By the time it sold, one family had moved to from Arizona back to Colorado. Then both of my sons and their families moved back into town. One moved in with us for the remainder of my deadline. My granddaughter was 1 ½ when they moved in with us, and when I finished my last book, she looked at me after dinner and told me to go to the basement (where my office is.) I’ve found how absolutely inspiring it is to have children around and how much I took that for granted. It was a huge blessing to have them close enough that I could share even the few minutes a day that I had with her. They’ve moved back to Phoenix because of the economy, and I miss them terribly, and realize how precious the time we had together was. Now I have a little more time to spend with my two grandsons and treasure quality time with them. That is, until the next book series consumes me…

    I don’t recommend my “balance” with others aspiring to write. Learn to say no to what isn’t important in your daily life. Let go of what you can give up, and let God help you focus on what He has planned. I cook huge meals and eat leftovers, multitask too much, and put off the housework until company is coming.

    What are a couple of your all-time favorite books?

    That’s an impossible question to answer! Absolutely impossible.

    Do you have a day job, too?

    I work at the University of Northern Colorado Graduate School with masters and doctoral students as they finish up their theses and dissertations. I love helping others reach their goals and see that gleam in their eye when they finish it. And I think having someone who struggles with deadlines helps us make a great team to get to the end of their degree.

    What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

    My favorite has to be telling stories that encourage the readers, that may help them forget their problems for a while and take a little while to relax and laugh a little.

    My least favorite part is that there’s just not enough hours in my day to get it all done. When an idea hits, I’m usually in the middle of something else that I can’t put off.

    Plot, seat of pants or combination?
    I’m mostly a plotter. I do a lot of planning at the beginning, but then the story takes over and it ends up a little different than I planned.

    Key advice for other writers?

    Be grateful for each day and enjoy it fully. Life is just too short to spend so much time doing something you don’t love.

    Thank you Carol for your time and insight!
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