Sunday, March 2, 2008

C * O * N * T * E * S * T

Congratulations to our February winner...


Sherri won a $10 See’s gift certificate and a copy of Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

Goldeneyes will be released at the end of March. Want a copy?
Find the entry icon on my website to enter the drawing.


Sorry, only Bookshelf subscribers are eligible for the drawing. The good news is, it’s easy to subscribe, and you'll receive an e-mail notice each month
when the newsletter is posted here and on the website.

GOLDENEYES - Month of Release!

I so enjoyed putting together the March edition of The Bookshelf!

Our Author of Note this month is Deb Raney, and interviewing her was such a pleasure. I know you’re all going to love your visit with her. And let me just tell you...if you have not yet read a Deborah Raney book, do yourself a favor and don’t wait another day. Treat yourself to a special experience.

Don’t miss the devotional with Tori Close. I loved her thought, and discovered that I was, indeed, wearing a cat hat—and you most likely are, as well.

We’re continuing the tips from Dr. Chuck Wall’s Speaking with Spark. If you currently do, or plan to do any public speaking, this little booklet could become your best friend.

If you received a notice of an upcoming format change through Feedblitz, please disregard. That’s not working out as I had hoped. What I have done, instead, is to create a “blog” version of the newsletter. You’ll be able to leave comments on your favorite (or least favorite) articles and interviews, plus you can view it at any time during the month without downloading a thing. If you prefer the old layout, you can still access it on my
website—at least for as long as I can find the time to create both versions.

Last but not least, the day I’ve been waiting for is finally within sight … Goldeneyes will be released on March 30!!! Someone will win a copy in this month’s drawing, but you can’t win if you don’t enter. So … what are you waiting for?

Author of Note: Deborah Raney

Our Author of Note this month is Deborah Raney. Many of you will recognize her as the author of some of your favorite books. I’m honored that Deb was willing to visit The Bookshelf.

Q. Welcome to The Bookshelf, Deb! I know my readers want to know all about you as a writer, and we’re going to get to that right away. But first, we’d like to know who you are outside your office. Tell us about Deborah Raney, the lady next door.

A. As much as I enjoy my career, I’ve always believed that my most precious calling is wife to Ken, my husband of 33 years; mom to four great kids; and now mom-in-law, and “Mimi” to two darling little grandsons. In addition, I have some of the most amazing friends in the world, including a group of women who share my name. We affectionately call ourselves Club Deb. I think being in the solitary profession of writing helps you really appreciate the people you have eye-to-eye contact with!

Q. That said…you have a new release this month. How exciting! Tell us about Leaving November.

A. Leaving November is the second novel in my Clayburn Novels series from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Here’s a blurb:

Daughter of the town drunk, Vienne Kenney has escaped Clayburn for law school in California. But after failing the bar exam—twice—she’s back home with her tail between her legs, managing Latte-dah, the Clayburn cafĂ© turned upscale coffee shop. Jackson Linder runs the art gallery across the street and Vienne has had her eye on him since she was a skinny seventh grader and he was the hunky high school lifeguard who didn’t know she existed. Now it’s his turn to fall for her and suddenly Clayburn seems like a pretty nice place to be...until Vienne discovers that Jack is fresh out of rehab and still struggling with the same addiction that ultimately killed her father.

Q. What was your inspiration for this book?

A. When I was writing the first book in the series, Remember to Forget, Jackson Linder, a secondary character in the book, really intrigued me. Jack has struggled with something that is my greatest fear: being responsible for the death of another person. I wanted to explore how someone in his shoes could find forgiveness, redemption, and even happiness. Q. If I’m not mistaken, Leaving November is your sixteenth novel. That’s impressive! How long does it take you (on average) to write a book, from first word to putting it in the publisher’s hands? A. It usually takes me 4-6 months to write a first draft. Of course, much research, and what author/editor Nick Harrison calls “brooding” about the book take place before I actually put fingers to keyboard. And then after my critique partner, my editors, and my pre-readers get hold of my manuscript, there is much, much rewriting and tweaking. From start to finish, not counting several months spent waiting for those edits, it’s usually a nine-month process. Interesting that a book’s gestational period is the same as a human’s, huh?

Q. What’s next? Can you talk about what you’re working on now?

A. I’m finishing up the third book in the Clayburn series, Yesterday’s Embers. And there are still other characters begging to have their stories told! I don’t know if I’ll get to write any more Clayburn books—especially since I have five other books contracted to write first--but I’ve loved my time in this little fictional Kansas town!

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing? Least?

A. Most: Having written! Because that means I’m getting reader feedback on my novel—the reward for all the hours of solitude! I also love that I get to be at home and make my own hours. Least: First-drafting! I love rewriting—taking my editors’ comments and applying them to make my book the best it can be. The blank page terrifies me! For me, it’s far easier to fix a horrible manuscript than to try to come up with something out of thin air.

Q. You’re probably tired of answering this question, and I apologize for asking it yet again but…inquiring minds still want to know. Where do you get your ideas?

A. Everywhere! Because I write contemporary novels, most of my ideas are inspired by real life contemporary social issues. I love taking an ordinary person and placing them in extraordinary circumstances. I find newspapers, TV newscasts, overheard conversations and Dear Abby all great sources of inspiration.

Q. How has your life changed since becoming a published author?

A. It has changed drastically, but as I think about it, it’s not so much being published that has changed my life, as it is the fact that our four children all grew up and left home while I was being published. I gave birth to children in 3 decades—one in the 70s, two in the 80s and one in the 90s––so I’ve been a mom with kids at home for over 30 years! For most of my life, my identity was completely tied up in longing to be, and then actually being a stay-at-home mom. But if a mom does her job right, she eventually puts herself out of a job. Our youngest will go off to college in a little over a year, and I’m so grateful the Lord has now given me such an incredibly fun and gratifying “next thing” to do.

Probably the biggest actual change is the traveling I do now to teach at writers conferences and attend writing events. I’d never even set foot in an airplane until I was 30 years old. Yesterday I was looking over my travel itineraries. In the next seven months, I’m flying to Minneapolis, San Jose, Charlotte, Asheville (NC), Orlando, Houston and full circle back to Minneapolis. Fortunately, I love flying and traveling, especially since my husband has started to accompany me occasionally.

Q. Take us through a day in the life of Deborah Raney. What kind of schedule do you keep?

A. It all depends on what point I’m at in a book. When I’m in the middle of a first draft, a typical week will have me writing four days a week from 10-5 (with breaks for email and research). That includes Tuesday mornings writing in our local coffee shop. On evenings I’m not speaking somewhere or watching our daughter play basketball or run track, I work on promotion—my website, newsletter, interviews like this one, etc. That fifth day of the week might find me having lunch with a friend or getting together with my sisters. Weekends are for my family…maybe to visit one of our grown kids who are scattered across the country in Seattle, rural Missouri and Des Moines.

When I’m on deadline, like now, it’s pretty much all writing all the time. I’m at my desk by 9 or 10, break for supper when my husband and daughter come home, and then back to the computer around 8 to write until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Fortunately that kind of a schedule only lasts a month or so.

Q. As a child, you enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. (See, I really have visited your website!) It will be interesting to see how your early reading tastes developed. What books are on your nightstand right now?

A. I started out reading Wilder, then Janette Oke and Catherine Marshall. It seems I might have become a historical novelist with that kind of background. But my passion has always been writing about this age in which we live, and how faith changes our response to the changing culture, to challenges and tragedy.
On my nightstand right now are the books I’m judging for the RITA contest—not my typical choices, though I find it’s good to read outside my genre once in a while. Before the RITA books came in, I’d just finished Nancy Rue’s Healing Stones, and Annette Smith’s A Crooked Path. Next on my TBR pile: believe it or not, I’ve never read Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love! I know, I know, insert collective gasp here. I’ve read almost all her other contemporary novels and love her writing and her heart for the Lord. But I’ve just never gotten around to reading THE classic Christian novel, THE epitome of Christian fiction. So I thought it was high time I did that.

Q. I thought I was the only Christian writer in the world who hadn't read Redeeming Love! And now that we've both confessed ... what do you do when you’re not reading or writing?

A. I love working in the beautiful garden my husband, Ken, designed in our back yard (for a sneak peek, go to and I love decorating our home. It’s such fun to comb antique shops and flea markets for a great object from the past that I can use on my desk or in my kitchen, or a great piece of furniture to paint or refinish. I’m not much for pretty stuff just for the sake of having it on display, but I love “repurposing” antiques—like the old chamber pot I use for deadheading in the garden, or the antique bank mail sorter that serves as my filing “cabinet.”

Q. I know that interviewers often don’t ask the questions an author would really like to talk about. What would you like to say that I haven’t touched on?

A. You’ve covered a lot of bases, Delia. Great questions! I guess if there is one thing I feel passionate about saying whenever I have the ears of aspiring writers, it’s this: It is never too early to practice using the gift God has given you. Study the craft, hone your skills, explore the market. But don’t rush the process, or the timing. When I first discovered my gift, I still had small children at home. I could not have given my family what they needed and deserved from “Mom” if I’d been on the “fast track” I’m on now. I will be forever grateful that I waited until God clearly said “now is the time.” I never wanted to look back on my kids’ growing up years regretting that I was chasing after a dream while the four most precious treasures of my life were right under my nose waiting for me to pay attention to them. They grew up all too quickly, and now I have the rest of my life to pursue that dream.

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her seventeenth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award and Silver Angel from Excellence in Media. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Deb serves on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small-town life in Kansas.

Speaking with Spark: Dr. Chuck Wall

Part Three of a special multi-part series by Dr. Chuck Wall—president and founder of Random Acts of Kindness. Dr. Wall has kindly agreed to allow excerpts from his newest booklet, Speaking with Spark, to be printed in “The Bookshelf.” Enjoy!

(We ended last month with Tip # 5. Tip # 6 deals with microphones: Dos and don’ts, and helpful suggestions. If you want to know what Dr. Wall has to say about mics, you may purchase his book on his website.)


Above all, keep your hands away from your face and your hair. Nothing good comes from fiddling with your face or toying with your tresses during a speech. Women, in particular, seem to immediately begin rearranging their hair or curling a lock of it around a finger. I once had a student who had a beautiful mop of blonde hair which she draped over her face so she didn’t have to look at her audience. Once I was able to convince her that her hair was just fine where it is supposed to be, and the audience was not waiting to pounce on her, she made a very nice speech.

Women don’t hold a monopoly on odd habits at the podium. We men have our own issues to deal with when speaking to a group. We seem to like putting our hand in a pocket and jingling coins or keys while we talk. Trust me, this can drive an audience crazy trying to figure out which coin denominations are being bounced around. Men also like to put their foot up on the bottom brace of the lectern, as if they are bellying up to the bar. They are also prone to picking up the lectern and moving it around - seeking, I suppose, a better position from which to speak.

Another distracting annoyance many speakers are guilty of involves their clothing. It is unbelievable how many speakers step up to the podium and immediately begin rearranging their clothes. Men tend to hitch up their pants or check their fly at the podium. I suppose they think if they are talking, then no one is watching. Women slide their skirts into more comfortable positions – and it’s amazing how many bra straps need pulled more securely into place! Simple point: Check out your clothes before you go to the podium.

Being aware of these little annoyances prior to speaking will help reduce audience distractions and help them focus on what you are saying.


While you’re getting comfortable at the podium, do not forget the all-important issue of eye contact. Often, the best of speeches fall short of audience receptivity because the speaker cannot engage the audience through eye contact. Even though I am blind, I know the power of this simple tool and work hard to draw my audience into my topic by seeming to make eye contact.

I’ve heard fledgling speakers say, “If I look them in the eye, I will be so scared I can’t go on.” Simple solution: Don’t look into their eyes. Instead, look right over their heads as you scan the room. It will seem that you are making eye contact when in fact you are not.

As you scan your audience from left to right and back again, pick out individuals to speak to for just a few seconds at a time. This draws you and your listeners together, maximizing their content retention. Spend time learning to “read” an audience.

As you speak, identify individuals who seem to be paying close attention to your presentation. Also identify those who are not. Which group seems to be larger – the attentive group or the inattentive group? Since I cannot read faces, I use a quick bit of humor to gauge the audience’s attentiveness. If there is spontaneous laughter, I know the audience is with me.


Now that you have hints on physical preparation within the speaking hall and know some basics about “speaking manners,” it is time to discuss the actual speech.

Assume that you have been asked to speak for twenty minutes at this week’s Lions Club meeting. If you accept the twenty-minute time limit, consider it sacred and hold to it even though the meeting appears to have no specific time structure. Most likely you will be asked for a speech title and biographical sketch, from which someone will introduce you to the members. A bio sketch should be no more than one page in length, and should list highlights, not your entire life story.

A small but important part of your speech is thanking those who invited you – especially the person who introduced you. So, prior to going to the podium, make sure you know the name and Club position of that person. The title of your speech should reflect its central theme. If your theme is making pottery to be used as holiday gifts, do not entitle your speech “Pottery in Ancient Egypt.” That’s dishonest, and it will lose your audience immediately. An appropriate title might be, “Homemade Pottery Gifts for the Holidays.” Now your audience knows exactly what you will be speaking about—no deception.

Next month, Dr. Wall will share more of his tried-and-proven 3-in-1 plan for speech preparation and delivery. You don’t want to miss it!

Dr. Chuck Wall is a published author, lecturer and motivational speaker in the fields of communications, stress management, employee motivation, leadership and "

random acts of kindness."

As of December 15, 2005, Dr. Wall became Professor Emeritus at Bakersfield College. He is the President of Kindness Inc. a California non-profit corporation.

Even though he is blind, Dr. Wall does not consider himself disabled, but merely must spend extra time dealing with one of life’s little nuisances.

Find out more about Dr. Wall’s on his website:

Learn more about Random Acts of Kindness and/or purchase Speaking with Spark—a 53-page spiral bound booklet jam-packed with speaking hints.

Notes of Devotion: Tori Close

Are You Wearing A Cat Hat?

I’ve always known that I tend to put other people, and other things, before myself. Mostly, I do it with a willing heart, knowing that it is simply because I have a lot of love to share. However, I didn’t realize just how much I put myself aside until the other night in bed.

I was lying there trying to relax, when I realized my neck was hurting because our six-month old kitty was blissfully slumbering on the top of my head. Maximus had positioned himself so that he was curled up in a perfect circle; just like a coonskin cap. I had a literal cat hat.

I shifted this way and that way, but each time I did, he would simply relax even more. Pretty soon, I was laying on the very edge of my pillow. I was getting frustrated. I was tired, and I wanted to get some rest. Morning comes way too soon as it is.

After trying three or four more times to move him up further on the pillow without disturbing him, (and being utterly unsuccessful in the attempt), I actually had to laugh at myself. It’s 1:00 in the morning, my neck is hurting, and here I am worrying about disturbing the cat!

I finally just sat up and moved him, but then I started thinking. How often do we put our own wants, desires, and even needs aside because we don’t want to seem selfish? How many times do we allow ourselves to get into an uncomfortable, or uncharitable frame of mind because we don’t know how to step up and say no?

Of course the Lord wants us to serve others. It’s a gift of love that we can give to someone in need. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to give of ourselves, simply because we love. We do, however, have to find the correct balance.

What good does it do to constantly be putting our own needs aside to help another, when it only ends up in a poor attitude or buried anger? A grumpy heart doesn’t promote good spiritual health, and it certainly isn’t a service to the Lord.

We need to make sure we take the time to nourish ourselves before we can truly be of help to anyone else. Our hearts, minds, and bodies need to be appropriately taken care of if we sincerely want to be a servant for the Lord.

Are you wearing a cat hat?

If so, take some time to re-evaluate your life. Maybe you need to cut back on some of your volunteer work, or set aside some daily time for yourself. It could be that you simply need more time with the Lord. (Unfortunately we can let our personal time with Christ slip when we try to do too much for others!)

Or maybe, just maybe, you need a few good nights of real sleep … without wearing a cat hat!
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29)

©2007 Tori Close

Tori is a freelance writer, photographer, and web designer living in the beautiful state of Montana. She is happily married, and has two children and one grandbaby whom she adores. She has always had a passion for the written word, and believes that the Lord is directing her to a full-time writing career.
You can visit Tori at: and coming soon, at where she will be launching an online magazine devoted to Christian women.