Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Season of Beauty and Change

Autumn has arrived since the last Bookshelf. A vivid color show is being enacted all around me. Takes my breath away, every year. I love the Fall…just dread the thought of the cold, "naked" months to come. But knowing Spring follows Winter gives me something to look forward to—hope and a future…

Let me think about what else is new in my life since last time…

I've started working with a couple of dear friends, Tanya Stowe and Mary Manners, on a new blog called Creative Writing Forces. I hope you'll check it out and be regular readers.

I've also joined the staff of Clash of the Titles, and I'm thoroughly enjoying my association with this group of writers. If you haven't visited, you should. It's a place "where authors battle and readers judge." So bring your voter's mindframe and check it out.

Been working on edits for Gypsy's Game. I was hoping to give you all a release date with this newsletter, but we're not quite there yet. I've truly discovered the meaning of "rewrites" with this book…and I can't say I enjoy this part of the process. But, as with anything that renders any kind of positive results, it requires more than a minimum of effort, and I can only hope you find the end result worth the wait. :)

On to this month's Bookshelf. Good stuff! You're going to enjoy it.

Lena Nelson Dooley is our spotlight author. Lena's always a joy, and you won't want to miss her interview.

Our devotion was provided by Jude Urbanski. Jude aimed "Ties That Bind" at writers, but I can see where this one would apply to any person with any goal in life. Read it. :)

The review this edition is for a Christmas story by Cindy Woodsmall. Loved it!

Winnie Griggs brings the Writing Tips, talking about those all-important transitions. I found it quite informative, and I think you will, as well.

Let's get right to the good stuff, and - as always - thank you for being Bookshelf Newsletter subscribers!

Author of Note: Lena Nelson Dooley

Welcome to the Bookshelf, Lena! It was such a pleasure meeting you at the ACFW Conference, and it made me want to know you better. Maybe this little chat will do that.

How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I’ve written all my life. I came from a family where everyone wrote things. The only other person in my immediate family who is published is my brother. He had a book of sermons published. Then a few years ago, he wrote two books just for the family and had them printed about why he believes what he does.

There was a week of “aha” moments back in 1984, and I tell about them in a testimony on the About Me page of my blog: http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

I know you’re excited about your recent release, Maggie's Journey. What inspired you to write this book?

The McKenna’s Daughters series is one of those that the Lord gave me some time ago. The whole idea came from Him. And the stories have percolated in my brain for several years before they were contracted.

What’s your favorite scene from Maggie's Journey? Can you share it with us?

I always love the kissing scenes. But there were several other scenes of discovery in the book that I loved as well.

What can we expect from you next?

Book two of the series, Mary’s Blessing, has been written and will release in May 2012.

You have many published books, Lena. Have you ever wished you’d written any scene/character/plot twist, etc., differently?

Actually, once a book has gone through the publishing process, I let it go. It’s too late to look back and say, “If only.” I refuse to live my life on If onlys.

What author most influenced your writing style?

I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life, too. I’m sure all the good novels I’ve read have affected my writing for the better. I have had several readers say my writing style is similar to Tracie Peterson and Lauraine Snelling.

Do you have a favorite verse of scripture? If so, what makes it special to you?

At various stages of my life, God has given me a special verse for a season. Here are a few of them: Psalm 37:4-5, Jeremiah 29:13-14a, Philippians 3: 10. At the time God gave each one of them, it was important to my spiritual growth in that season.

What one piece of writing advice has been most beneficial to you in developing your writing career?

Keep on writing and learning and don’t be afraid to “murder your darlings”—those carefully crafted sentences that you think are essential to the story. Many times, they are not.

Just for fun…what super power would you like to be given for just one day?

I really would like to truly have the Lord’s compassion and love for all men. I’m not sure I could deal with it more than one day. The depth of that love and compassion would be way too explosive for a human heart.

Where can readers find your books? Do you have a website, blog, etc.?

All of them are also on Amazon.com, but many are also on BarnesandNoble.com and Christianbook.com.

Thank you for visiting the Bookshelf Newsletter, Lena!

About Lena Nelson Dooley:

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of ACFW and president of the local chapter. She recently received the Will Rogers Medallion award for western fiction.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat. She has been awarded three Carol Award silver pins and received the American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially her fans.

About Maggie's Journey:

A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.

Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn't fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.

When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?

Notes of Devotion: Jude Urbanski

Ties That Bind

The San Francisco Chronicle carried the story about the female humpback whale entangled by masses of fishing lines and crab traps. Hundreds of pounds of lines and traps threatened her life and she struggled to stay afloat. Lines pulled and tightened around her body, her tail and her mouth.

A fisherman spotted the distressed whale and radioed an environmental group for help. The group wasted little time diving into the water to try and free her from bondage. They worked hours with curved knives and determination and finally unchained the whale.

Humpback Whale
When at last freed, the whale swam around in what seemed like joyous circles, but what happened next became a memory never to be forgotten. She swam back to the divers and, one at a time, gently nudged them, pushing them around a little. In her playfulness, it was like she was saying thank you. The diver who cut the lines out of her mouth says he’ll never forget how the whale’s eyes followed his every movement.

An unbelievable, heartwarming story of kindness.

How do we as writers get untangled from ties that bind? What fishing lines or crab traps do we strain against each day?

Let’s have fun with the word BIND.

• Are you plagued by the big “B” or Writer’s Block? Is this another word for boredom, bitterness or bewilderment? There’s always a way out of this mire and it varies with writers. Look for the chip in the block and you’ll find the key. Be brutally honest with yourself as to what’s blocking your writing. A sabbatical is sometimes the answer.

• Maybe the omnipresent “I” of interference is your binder. Simply put, life gets in the way. You know how it goes. Life happens on the way to the computer. A secret? If you want something done, ask a busy person. Ask the writer mom/dad who works, cares for the kids, car pools, covers the PTA and has a fun hobby. They make things happen. In your eventful life, you can too, with discipline and design.

• The “N” stands, of course, for the No of the rejection letter from the agent or the publisher or the contest. After you’ve received a few rejections, even if some are the golden variety, a thick skin is still needed. You learn and continue forward. It’s no surprise rejections are part of writing.

• Associate “D” with dreams, understanding well many people have forgotten how to dream. A small note, encouraging me to take time to dream, is stuck on my bathroom mirror. All reminders needed. A lack of dreams binds hard, yet dreams remain essential for writers.

Our assignment is to look for ways to become untangled from the lines or traps that bind like the whale was bound. Look for divers sent to rescue. They may come in assorted packages.

The Word tells us to not be weary in well doing for in due season we will reap a reward if we do not give up. Galations 6:9.

About the author:

Jude Urbanski, novelist, columnist and free lance writer, loves to write both fiction and non fiction. She and husband live in Indiana and volunteer in church and community.

Joy Restored, a novel of women's fiction with inspirational romance, will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in mid-November.

About Joy Restored:

Kate Davidson feels God has played a cruel joke when she's left with three small children after the death of her disturbed, Vietnam vet husband. She is so angry with God, she almost misses the incredible love offered by rich widower Seth Orbin, no stranger to loss and grief.

Notes on Writing: Winnie Griggs

Getting From Here To There: Transitions

When writing your story, you don’t want to include a detailed account of every action taken by every character in your story, nor do you always want to tell the story linearly. Instead, a good writer will select those scenes that are not only of interest but that also progress the plot in some way. Which means, by necessity, gaps will occur: gaps in time, in movement from one location to another, in point of view, in scene focus.
Transitions are those small but oh-so-important words or phrases that help guide your reader across these story gaps smoothly and while still remaining grounded in your story. There are several techniques or devices that you can utilize to do this effectively. Some of them are:

The Direct Method or ‘Clean Break’- Simply tell the reader what change has taken place:

Early the following Monday, Michael.... (Time change)

Once he reached the parking garage.... (Location change)

Mood - Use feelings, emotions, atmosphere to help convey the change:

As Stan pulled out of the company garage onto the congested highway, his hands clutched the wheel in a death grip and the cords in his neck tightened. It would take forever to get out of this tangle of traffic...

Once the city was behind him, however, the tension drained away and he breezed down the open road that led to his summer cabin.  (Time and Location change)

The Five Senses - Use sound, sight, touch, taste and/or smell to bridge a story gap:

Margie hummed as she applied an extra spray of her favorite cologne, enjoying the light floral scent.

Andy’s nose started to twitch before Margie even entered the room. Why did she insist on using that nasty flowery perfume that always made him sneeze? (POV change)

Cassie heard a distant grumble of thunder off to the east as she closed her book. Maybe Allan was finally getting some of that rain he’d been hoping for.

Allan squinted through the windshield, looking for a safe place to pull over and wait out the violent storm. This wasn’t what he’d had in mind when he’d prayed for a ‘bit of rain’.   (POV and location change)

An Event - Use an ongoing, recent or anticipated event to unify your scenes:

Hesitating for only a heartbeat, Lynda dropped the letter into the mail slot, determined to make the first move toward reconciliation. When a week passed without a response, however, she began to wonder if contacting her grandfather had been such a wise move after all. (Time change)

The near-crash triggered a memory, one she’d rather not dwell on. But there it was, full blown and swooshing in like an avalanche. That other crash had happened six years ago. Her mom was driving her and her friends to the airport... (Time change - flashback)

A Character (whether human or otherwise) - Use the mention of a character to guide us through a story shift:

Stacey pulled into her driveway on Friday afternoon, wondering how she’d let her sister talk her into dog-sitting their troublesome mutt for the weekend. She really wasn’t big into the whole pet scene.

But by Sunday evening, Rufus had wormed his shaggy way right into her heart. (Time change)

An Object - Use an object or activity to move from one scene to another without jarring the reader:

Roger halted mid-sentence as a baseball came crashing through the window. Blast it all, he’d told Jimmy not to play ball in the yard.

He picked up the ball and marched to the door . Jimmy was going to pay to fix this, even if it meant he had to mow every yard in town to do it. (Change in scene focus)

The Environment- Use weather, terrain, scenery, seasons to depict change:

The autumn seemed long that year. Perhaps it was because she was so homesick for the Ozarks, where nature painted the mountainsides with magnificent blazes of color. Winter was easier, and by spring, the Texas gulf coast was beginning to feel, if not like home, at least less alien to her.
(Time change - extended period)

These are just a sampling. There are, of course, other ways to handle transitions. Just keep in mind - your main goal in using transitions is to keep your reader grounded and oriented in the who, what, where, and when of your story without their having to reread passages to figure it out.

About Winnie:

Winnie Griggs is a multi-published romance author who currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired and Love Inspired Historical lines. In addition to her March release, THE PROPER WIFE, Winnie had two additional books hit the shelves in 2011, SECOND CHANCE FAMILY in July and HOME FOR THANKSGIVING, a novella in the ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING anthology in October. Readers can learn more about Winnie and her books at www.winniegriggs.com or connect with her on Facebook.

About Home for Thanksgiving:

All that stands between Ruby Anne Tuggle and a fresh start is an escort to Tyler, Texas.  Rancher Griff Lassiter is too kind to refuse, but too wary of being hurt again to offer anything but protection on the journey. 

Then a fever forces an unexpected detour and a chance to find the place they both belong...

Notes in Review: The Christmas Singing

Lies never bring about the best results, and The Christmas Singing paints an excellent example of the damage they can do.

Mattie Eash and Gideon Beiler have been in love since childhood. When Gideon manufactures a lie to break off their engagement, a crushed Mattie leaves town and starts a business baking and decorating cakes. Three years later, she's forced by circumstances to return to Apple Ridge, and to work in close proximity to her former fiancĂ©. It doesn't take long for her to realize she still loves him…but he still seems to have a weakness for non-Amish women.

And Mattie has no tolerance for liars and cheats.

The Christmas Singing is a short but heartwarming tale of love, loss and learning—to forgive, and to trust. It's a sad picture of what happens when human beings try to manipulate the results they think are best, rather than allowing God to be God. It's a sweet, cozy tale to curl up with in front of a holiday fireplace. Wonderful Amish characters in realistic situations, with believable emotions, problems, and all-too-human reactions. A wonderful Christmas read that'll put readers in the mood to decorate a tree, sing Christmas carols, and tell someone special how much they care. Well written and beautifully told. 

Reviewed by Delia Latham

Contest Notes

The drawing for this edition (November/December) of The Bookshelf will be held on the last day of December. Winner will be announced in the January/February edition of The Bookshelf. I will also contact the winner via e-mail. If I do not receive a response, and a mailing address, by the time I post the next edition of The Bookshelf, the winner will have forfeited their prize.

The November/December winner will receive a copy of The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall.

The September/October winner of MaryLu Tyndall's Surrender the Night and Surrender the Dawn is:


Note: You don’t need to “do” anything to enter the newsletter drawing each month. If you are subscribed to The Bookshelf, you will be automatically entered. Subscribe here. This will put you on my e-mailing list. You will then receive an e-mail link every other month when the newsletter posts, as well as occasional updates or announcements between posts.

Note: The books given away in these drawings are in excellent condition, but most have been read once for review purposes. All books are handled carefully and you will receive them in great condition.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September and ACFW

September pounced on me right out of the blue! I'm finding it hard to believe it's already time for another newsletter…but I'm always glad to have the opportunity to share with my Bookshelf subscribers. :)

I'm excited about going to the ACFW Conference at the end of this month (September). I'm scared out of my mind about going to the ACFW Conference at the end of this month. I'm terribly nervous about going to the ACFW Conference at the end of this month. I'm GOING to the ACFW Conference at the end of this month!


I've wanted to go to this amazing writer's conference for the past five years, but…well, it is a bit costly. No, scratch that. It's quite costly! But my honey started this little savings a couple of years ago and informed me its purpose was to make it possible for me to attend an ACFW Conference. So…

I'm going to St. Louis!

We robbed the savings a little bit before we should have. If we'd kept going for one more year, the savings might have actually paid for all the conference expenses, but I really wanted to go this year, and my hubby decided it was time. What a guy!

OK. Enough already. Just let me say one last thing…I'M GOING TO THE ACFW CONFERENCE! WOOHOOOO! J

Now, for this month's newsletter. Good stuff for y'all!

  • ·         Our Spotlight Author is Victoria Burks. If you're familiar with her, you know she's a delightful person. If she's new to you, prepare yourself to be delighted.
  • ·         The devotion this time around comes from Tanya Eavenson. Her devotion was forwarded to me by Lisa Lickel. I'm glad she sent it, and I know you will be, as well. Tanya's devotion is aimed at writers, but can be applied to anybody, in any career—or any phase of life.
  • ·         Melissa Norris provided the writing tips for this edition of the Bookshelf. With the ACFW Conference coming up at the end of this month. (Oh, did I mention that I'm going?)  :) I think it's timely and appropriate.
  • ·         The featured book review is from a White Rose Publishing author, Donna B. Snow. I truly enjoyed Daffodils, and am happy to recommend it.
  • ·         Don't forget to check out the Contest Notes. Did you win the drawing from the last newsletter?
  • ·         An extra little treat for you…one of my original short stories. Enjoy!
 As always, feel free to leave your comments—the writers will love hearing from you, and of course I will, too.

Until next time...

Author of Note: Victoria Burks

 Victoria Burks

Welcome to the Bookshelf Newsletter, Victoria! Please tell us a little about yourself. Who is Victoria Burks, the gal next door?

I’ve always considered myself an average wife, mother and grandmother. My husband and I raised a large family of eleven children. Therefore, I never had a lot of time for social contact other than “over the fence” socializing with neighbors and occasional get-togethers with friends from church. Also, I am the past, present, and future (until my husband decides to retire) office manager for my husband’s trucking firm. However, I found time over the years to be involved in our local church and community. I’ve been a Children’s Church Director, Sunday School Teacher for children and adults, Nursery Coordinator, a Girl Scout Leader and a Church Banquet Coordinator from which I recently retired after twenty years. I’ve always enjoyed serving Christ and my family in whatever way I could.     

Sounds like you're a busy lady.
How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I can’t say I ever had the “aha” moment, more like “You’ve got to be kidding me, God” moment. I never started writing seriously until about twenty years ago, had never even considered myself as a writer although I had previously written programs to enhance Sunday School lessons, Bible training courses and Christmas plays for both children and adult performance. To me that wasn’t writing, just something to better train my students about the things of God. Novel writing had never been an option until I had a strange dream while recuperating from a severe back injury.

In the dream I was standing at the back of an outdoor theatre observing a live performance of a romantic drama. When I awoke the next morning, I questioned God about the dream, since I’ve never been one to dream often. In my spirit I heard the words, “Write the book.”

Needless to say, I was stunned. I told God, “Excuse me, God, but I believe you are at the wrong address. I’m sure you meant to go to Victoria Holt’s house, not the home of Victoria Burks.” Nevertheless, the inspiration wouldn’t leave me. So in the following weeks, unable to sit in a chair due to the injury, I lay flat of my back and held writing tablets above my head and recorded the basic plot of my dream. After a miracle of healing several weeks later, I was able to develop the manuscript entitled, A Legacy of Love, on my computer.

What an amazing testimony to your calling!
I know you’re excited about your upcoming release, Bittersweet Justice. What inspired you to write this book?

Yes, the book is scheduled to be out late November or early December. Again, I have to give God the credit for that as well. One day the title, Bittersweet Justice, along with the plot just dropped into my mind and I begin to put the story on paper. I’m a “seat of the pants” writer. Sometimes I make a basic outline of scenes I think a chapter needs, but by the time the chapter is complete, those scenes may or may not be in that particular chapter.

I completely understand—I'm a total SOTP writer myself.
What’s your favorite scene from Bittersweet Justice? Can you share it with us?

I would have to say the court scene near the end of the book. It has such a dramatic vision of God’s love and mercy entwined into the story that I still get emotional when I think about it. Please forgive me for not sharing it, but that part of the plot is vital to the intriguing mystery.

You are forgiven. :)  We definitely don't want any spoilers on the Bookshelf!
Your debut novel, A Legacy of Love, released last November. Now that the book is in print, have you ever wished you’d written any scene/character/plot twist, etc., differently?

Notes of Devotion: Tanya Eavenson

What do disciples, writers, and faith have in common? 

 Sea of Galilee
Let me give you a hint with the word, “disciple.” Jesus called twelve men to follow Him. It was a call for them to be trained and to learn. As writers, we are much like these men with different backgrounds, temperaments, occupations, special gifts and talents. With those talents, we are continually learning the craft and the trade of the business. We submit to publishers and agents, enter contests, and attend conferences. All of these are important but we miss something of greater importance if our only focus is that all elusive contract. The disciples also looked toward the future, not their present time of training when they asked Jesus, who would be the greatest.

One of the places Jesus taught them was at the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus called four of his followers, where the raging storm brought fear to the disciples while Jesus slept in the boat, and where Peter walked on water. All of these occurrences displayed Jesus’s glory, power, and His provision. But it also showed His concern for them and a desire for His disciples to trust when they felt overwhelmed. 

Matthew 14:25-32 says, “25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 

How many times have we as writers been discouraged, passed over for a book contract, received a rejection letter or fought writer’s block? What did we do? 

Peter gives us a great example of what we should do. His faith inspires us to step out of our comfort zone and meet Jesus. But we can all relate to what happened next. Peter turned his attention to the storm. In a similar way, we take our eyes off Jesus. We begin to look at our inadequacies, our past, or an approaching storm, and if we focus too long on the waves, they will surely topple us over. When that happens, we miss Jesus’ teaching to take courage, to remember He is with us, to stop doubting and have faith.

Everyone who is a disciple will find themselves in training. If we allow God to have His way in our lives—through our experiences and the things we learn—He will use us to touch others in ways unique to us. But that kind of life is a journey, following the Author who fulfills His purpose in us, so whatever we do, in word or deed, He will be glorified.

About Tanya:

Tanya writes women’s fiction to help quench thirsty souls, one story at a time. She is a writer for Christ to the World.

Notes on Writing: Melissa K. Norris

7 Tips to Get the Most From Writer’s Conferences

 Melissa K. Norris

Read any agent’s or editor’s blog, and you’ll most likely find them advising you to attend at least one writer’s conference a year. There are many to choose from. Location and price will influence your choice.

So you’ve done it. Paid your fee, reserved your hotel room, and are ready to be inspired and attend the conference. Whether you’re a newbie or veteran attendee, you can always make your experience better.

1.   Pack wisely. You want to portray yourself as a professional, but conferences make for long days. Business casual is a good option. Chose low heeled shoes or flats. No tennis shoes. Dress in layers. Some rooms are hot, other’s cold.

2.   Come prepared. Bring a large purse or small tote. Most rooms have water glasses, but bring a water bottle along in case. A small snack, granola bar, banana, in case you get hungry in-between meals. A notebook for taking notes and storing handouts from classes.

3.   Hone your pitch. If you’re meeting with an agent or editor, have your pitch worked out ahead of time. Write it down on a notecard. Be conscious of the others time in group appointments. No one, including the agent/editor, likes a time hog.

4.   Business cards. You can print them yourself or go to www.vistaprint.com for some inexpensive ones. Include your name, email, website, blog, and what you write. 

5.   Be social. This is your chance to surround yourself with other writers. People who get you and what you do. Even if you don’t know anyone there, find someone sitting or standing alone and ask them what they write. (Remember to return the favor if asked.)

6.   Pray. Really. Ask God to lead you to people at the conference. This is how I met my two blogging partners last year. Dedicate yourself to asking God for direction in your writing career. I promise He will show you the way to the path He wants for you.

7.   Relax. You are taking a step forward in your writing career. You are honing your craft. Enjoy this time focusing on your gift.

I’d love to hear your best for tips for conferences. What is your favorite conference?

I hope to see and meet some of you at this year’s Northwest Christian Author Writer’s Renewal May 20-21, 2011.

About Melissa:
Melissa joined NCWA in 2010. She is a wife, mother, and a lover of quilts and things pioneer, but can’t resist flashy jewelry and cute purses. Read an excerpt of her novel at www.melissaknorris.com . Grow your faith and find inspiration with your daily dose of Faith, Friends, and Frappuccino’s at www.faithchats.blogspot.com