The Story Behind My Blog's Title

The Story Behind My Blog's Title
Why is my blog named "My Father's Oldsmobile"? Click on the car and find out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Writing Journey - Kat Heckenbach

Today's guest blogger is Kat Heckenbach. Kat is a dear friend and a talented writer. I could go on and on because, frankly, I adore her, but if I get started I won't shut up and this post is supposed to be about her writing journey. It's my pleasure to feature links to her work, and share her inspiring story.

If you asked anyone who knew me at any time from elementary school through my senior year of high school, they would have said I'd become an artist someday. I doubt there is a single person who would have guessed otherwise. I drew constantly and thought of nothing else as a possible future career. Aced the AP Art exam. Envisioned myself with my works in galleries across the country...

Yes, I was an avid reader, and a total lover of words, but I hated writing assignments as much as the next student. I certainly never aspired to become a writer.

Not exactly, anyway.

There were those times I sat on my bed during high school, with a legal pad and pen in hand, desperately wishing I could see my name on the spine of a novel just like V.C. Andrews, Madeline L'Engle, or Piers Anthony. But a pile of crumpled paper and a few tears later, and those moments became memories that I locked away.

There were also the fourteen-page notes I wrote to friends on a regular basis. But notes are different...

And despite my hatred for timed essays, I always got A's on them. But that's school, and an essay about Wuthering Heights is a totally different animal than creating a whole new world.


Move forward twenty years. I've graduated high school, graduated college (with a B.S. in Biology of all things), stopped drawing pretty much altogether (replaced it with painting and scrapbooking), found my niche as a math teacher (yep, I actually enjoy solving quadratic equations), and then quit that job to homeschool my kids.

So, where does an artistic, math-loving, science-geek go from here? Bring in Harry Potter and you've got your answer.

The seventh Harry Potter book and the fifth movie were released the weekend of my 37th birthday. I had counted down the days and read the first six books again in anticipation of number seven. I watched the first four movies over and over until I nearly had them memorized. All I could think was that I wanted more than anything to create a world that people wished could be real the way they wished Hogwarts could be real. The way I wished it all could be real.

Memories suddenly flooded me. Not just the legal pad and pages of notes, but years of pretending there was a secret passage in my closet that led to an enchanted forest (a.k.a. my back yard). Years of watching Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie and wishing I was the magic one among the mortals. Years of reading books and losing myself in them, just as I had lost myself in Harry Potter.

The problem was, I didn't know what to do with the memories or all the wishes. I sulked a bit, and finally talked to my husband about it.

He said, "I've told you before--if you want to write a book I'll be supportive."

"What are you talking about? I never said that!"

He shook his head and gave me that look that says tsk, tsk. "Yes, you did. You said it just now."

Had I?

I jumped in the car and drove to the place I always went when I wanted time alone, when I needed to think...Barnes and Noble (missed clue number 4,327. Duh.)

This time when I pulled out the legal pad (ok, laptop) I had the life experience to draw from, and the words began to flow. Characters appeared in my head, and they said and did things almost of their own accord. In three months I had what Anne Lammot calls, in slightly different terminology, a crappy first draft. But I'd done it--I'd written a book! A year later, the manuscript had been edited by several friends who are avid readers and some writers themselves, and my best friend came up with the title Finding Angel. I revised, and revised, and revised again. I also attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference and got my butt into a critique group. I'm currently shopping for an agent and/or publisher and working on book number two, Seeking Unseen, a sequal to Finding Angel.

In the two years since I decided to start writing, I've also sold nearly a dozen personal essays and had a couple of short fiction pieces published online:

"Eyes on the Hilltop" can be found in Christian Fiction Online Magazine at

My horror/allegory "Willing Blood" which won the Editor's Choice Award in The Absent Willow Review can be found at

"Sparrows" is featured in the current issue of Einstein's Pocket Watch at

More of my fiction pieces are forthcoming in Mindflights ("The Artist"--a fantasy based on Finding Angel, date TBA)

A complete listing of all my published and soon to be published work, as well as the first chapter of Finding Angel, can be found at my website,

Kat, I know this is your post, but I'd like to add one more link from one of your favorite readers, my daughter Lexi. Lexi has a photo published in Cafe Del Soul this month, and as her mother I have to brag. I'd also like to say that, Finding Angel, Kat's book, is one of Lexi's favorites.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Writing Journey - Diane Craver

Diane Craver is today's guest blogger. I've had the privilege of corresponding with Diane a bit over the past few weeks, and I'd like to say that she's not only a wonderful author, but she's also an extremely nice person, who has been very quick to give me some guidance concerning the promotional side of publication. You guys will find her story inspirational for a number of reasons. Read on, you'll see. Welcome Diane, and thanks for sharing.

Even though I am published now, it's been a long road to publication for my books. Getting published has never been easy. But I made it with self-discipline, faith in my writing, family support, and determination. If you are an aspiring writer wanting to get published, hang in there. You have to continue to write and to believe in yourself. Writing is not a career for the weak. I'll share my baby steps that were the start of my journey to getting published.

When our oldest daughter Sara was a toddler, I started writing nonfiction. I wrote a partial book, Born To Love about her. I never finished it because no book publisher was interested in the story, but I did get a few magazine articles out of it. One was in Virtue magazine, one in Down Syndrome Today, and a few other publications. My sweet mother bragged about the Virtue article to her friends and relatives. She told me that my article was better than Debby Boone's in the same magazine. lol In 2001, I decided to write a creative nonfiction book, The Christmas of 1957. Some of it is true and some isn’t. Hey, I didn't think my siblings would appreciate me telling their secrets. It received 5 stars from The Midwest Book Review. Then I published a preschool e-book about what I did when I had a class in my own home. My last nonfiction book was Celebrating and Caring For Your Baby With Special Needs. In it I share what helped me to cope after I gave birth to a second daughter born with Down syndrome. A short anecdote was published in Woman's World, and that was very exciting to be published in a well-known magazine.

Although I had several articles published by the time I attended a romance writing conference in Cincinnati (I think it was in 1995), I was interested in learning how to write romance. I met many great published authors at the Ohio Valley Romance Writers conference, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I decided to start writing fiction. I loved it but I got off to a slow start with six children at home. I didn’t have a computer and wrote first drafts in longhand. Three years ago, Dianne Castell, told me to submit to Samhain. I’ll always be grateful to her for giving me the push to do this and to stay focused on my dream

I love reading about the reactions from first time authors when they got “the call” from an agent or editor with the fantastic offer of a contract. Here’s my story…I almost deleted “my call” before realizing what it was. I didn’t get a phone call but an email from an editor at Samhain Publishing. It was unbelievable because I didn’t see the email the day it arrived in my inbox. I don’t know how I missed it. It came on March 2nd, 2006, and a couple of days later I was busy deleting emails and almost hit the delete button when I glanced at it. Total shock hit me when I read, “I am pleased to offer you a contract for No Greater Loss. Attached is the contract.”

You can imagine how I felt - sheer joy and excitement surged through my body. I moved quickly through the quiet house wanting to grab someone and shout the good news. After waiting so long to get this special news from an editor, I thought how it could only happen to me that I missed the email the first time. I now have another publisher for my fiction - Desert Breeze Publishing. I'm excited to be with Desert Breeze because it's a great fit for my sweet romances. This house doesn't publish erotic romances, so none of my readers have to search through the erotica and erotic romances to find my titles.

If you have any questions about writing or publishing, ask me in the comments. I'll be happy to answer them. And be sure to visit my website ( and blog ( I'll be posting new contests soon.
Diane's Newest Release, Whitney in Charge is available at and in Kindle format at

I've read Whitney in Charge, and liked it a lot. Here's my review.

After losing her husband in a terrible accident in Iraq, Whitney Benson left her job as a tv producer in New York, and came home to care for her dying mother. Now that her mother has passed, Whitney's two older sisters are worried about her. Their answer to jumpstarting Whitney's life is to find her a man. And they're so successful that Whitney ends up with two.

In response to her sister's efforts, Whitney convinces them to start a business together. The sisters discuss everything from a lakeside resort, to an online magazine, and even a cable talk show.

Which man? Which business venture? Decisions...decisions...decisions....

I really enjoyed this book. Diane Craver's casual and engaging style brought the characters to life. She did a wonderful job of capturing the beautiful, and sometimes touchy, relationship between sisters. The romance was heartfelt, and I was especially happy in the end when Whitney chose the guy I'd hoped she would.

Great job Diane!

I definitely recommend, Whitney in Charge. It's an entertaining read that will leave you in a good mood.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Writing Journey - Melanie Atkins

I'd like to introduce Melanie Atkins, and her inspiring story. She is a multipublished author with several presses. Her current release, Cherished Witness, came out this month. Thanks for sharing your story, Melanie.

I've loved to write since I was a child, thanks to my adventurous cats. I first wrote stories about them in third grade, and even made my own little book complete with illustrations. In junior high and high school, I was the weirdo who loved writing papers. Everyone thought I was nuts, but I loved language. I diagrammed sentences just for fun. I don't think my eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Wilder, knew that, but I did let it slip that she was my favorite teacher. She and my eleventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Fitzgerald, furthered my love of reading and writing.

Life got in the way after college, and I didn't write or even read much at all for a while. But later, after my husband and I divorced, I decided to take a creative writing class at a local college--and I was hooked. Then I attended my first RWA chapter meeting and joined both that chapter and RWA...which brought me into the world or romance. I had discovered my passion.

My first romantic suspense, HAUNTED MEMORIES, was published in 2004 by now-defunct Triskelion Publishing. I sold twelve books to them in all, but only six were released before the company went belly up. I've since gotten the rights back to all of those books and have resold nine of them: Cobblestone published HAUNTED MEMORIES and EMILY'S NIGHTMARE in 2008; The Wild Rose Press is releasing SKELETON BAYOU in December '09, and CHERISHED WITNESS, the first book in my New Orleans Detective series, is now available at Desert Breeze, with the other five to follow between now and June 2011. I'm still trying to sell to New York and have many projects in progress at the moment, targeted both at series and single title houses, but in the meantime I'm excited to have these books back out there!

In CHERISHED WITNESS Kelly Watson, aka Teresa Pastral, threw the Fifth Amendment out the window when she testified against her mob boss husband at his murder trial. Now divorced, she has begun a new life in the Witness Security Program. Only--the mob finds her, thanks to handsome lawman J.T. Romano, who uses her as bait to lure the man who murdered his wife and unborn child to town. To ensure her safety, she is forced to trust J.T., the man who has betrayed her to the mob. But can she also protect her heart?

You can check out this and all of my projects at and Be sure to find me on Facebook and Twitter, too. I'm a certified Twitter addict. : ) Thanks for allowing me to guest blog!

Be sure and drop Melanie a line.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Writing Journey - Stephanie Burkhart

I'd like to introduce Stephanie Burkhart's journey this week. Stephanie has shared her story on several other blogs, and it's a good one, worth reading and rereading. I love her muse! You guys will enjoy this a lot.
Thanks for the inspiration, Stephanie.

Why I Write

The muse came to visit me when I was six. She was a small thing with curly hair and lots of happy bubbles. I liked her immediately. She giggled when I told a joke and blew her happy bubbles when I was feeling blue. She got me hooked on a show called “The Electric Company,” and smiled her approval when I illustrated Spiderman comic books with box figures. I figured she liked me because she stuck around. Like shoe laces on a shoe, she hung around through the 70’s, 80’, 90’s and … well, you get the picture. She’s a little worn, but she dusts off well.

I remember going to the library as a young child. She’d whisper, “Try this book,” or “You’ll like one.” I got into reading the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Judy Blume books. My muse always had good taste. Then she pointed me in the direction of comic books.

I loved comic books. I loved the team books with the X-Men, the Teen Titans, and the Legion of Superheroes. I wanted to start writing my own team comics. She said, “Steph, don’t rush it. In order to be a good writer, you’ve got to be well read. Read some more before you put pen to paper.”

Who was I to argue? I read some more. I discovered Victoria Holt and VC Andrews, and cultivated a love of Gothic Romance as a teenager in the mid 1980’s. I found “Romeo and Juliet.” Who didn’t want to be Juliet so they could find their Romeo? My muse told me Juliet didn’t die in real life so I had nothing to be worried about.

In 1986, I decided I wanted a great adventure so I joined the Army and went to Germany. My muse didn’t have anything better to do, so she came with me. Then we went to Berlin.

It was July 1988, and I won a trip to Berlin on the Berlin Orientation Tour when I was selected Solider of the Quarter for my battalion. My trip to Berlin was rather uneventful, but the muse started whispering in my ear. “This is it, Steph. Your first novel.”

It took about ten years, but “Destination: Berlin,” slowly came together. My heroine, Corporal Sharon Cates, has an action packed adventure when her train derails in the middle of Communist East Germany. With the help of a Soviet soldier, she must travel on foot to Berlin with the Stasi hot on her trail.

After getting out of the army in 1997, I took several years mastering the mechanics of writing. I came to understand point of view narration, dialogue, description, and I challenged myself with new projects. My muse has a bad habit of whispering story ideas in my ear before the previous story is finished, so I always have something up my sleeve.

In 2002 and 2003, I got in touch with my romantic roots and wrote two contemporary romances, “All that Remains,” “Are Your Dirty Little Secrets.” Secrets is the sequel to Remains. Berlin received a rare review from the Midwest Book Review, while Secrets was picked as an editor’s choice with IUniverse.

I self-published these books with IUniverse. My muse said give self-publishing a try. I’ve had good experiences with IUniverse.

Since secrets, I wrote a time traveling romance called “The Fickle Winds of History,” which I published through Lulu. I also published a darker story called “The Wolf’s Torment,” with IUniverse. It’s a blend of fantasy, romance, and paranormal elements. Lee Gooden from ForeWord Clarion reviews compares the story to Anne Rice’s “The Mayfair Witches,” and alludes to its dark Arthurian undertones. Both “History, and “Torment,” have been well received.

During the last couple of years, I thought I’d enter a couple of writing contests to help “fine tune” my technique and develop writing credits. Several of my short stories have honorable mentions from Writer’s Digest Contests. My biggest success so far in competition writing has been my story, “Spontaneous Decision,” which won 8th place in the Mainstream/Literary category in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition. Mainstream/Literary is not a strong genre for me, so being recognized for it was exciting.

Recently, my muse has guided me toward my romantic roots. I’ve embraced my love of the paranormal and romance to craft a story called, “The Hungarian.” A paranormal romance, “The Hungarian” will be published by Desert Breeze Publishing in May 2010. The story takes place in 1901 in England and Hungary and involves werewolves. I strive to explore more of the psychological aspects of the werewolf transformation and the effects on the human psyche.

I’m very excited to be with Desert Breeze Publishing for my latest project. What I like the most is the support from the staff and other Desert Breeze authors. I feel a real sense of teamship with everyone at Desert Breeze. My muse likes it, too.

Besides writing, I help to teach the Little Church at my church and recently I wrote an Easter play called “The Giving Meadow.” To my surprise, Viv at 4RV Publishing offered to publish it as a short story. I’d never explored children’s stories before, so this was a welcomed surprise. My muse was tickled pink, too. The story is about a caterpillar who travels through a meadow and makes new friends through sharing.

For me, writing and developing into a writer has taken time and patience. Entering the Writer’s Digests contests have been very rewarding for me. My words of wisdom are to challenge yourself, write what you enjoy (pay attention to those bubbles) and enjoy what you write. PS…my muse is named Juliet.

Stephanie novels, The Hungarian, and, The Giving Meadow, are set for release in the spring of 2010, and the first novel in her series, The 1st Flag of New Hampshire, is to be released in early 2011.

Please leave a comment or question for Stephanie. I know she'd be happy to answer.

More about Stephanie and her published works can be found at her site.

Stephanie's blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Writing Journey - Ruth Ann Nordin

I'd like to tell you guys that I really enjoyed reading Ruth Ann's story, and I think you will too. It's bold and uncompromising. And all I could think was, "with that steady stream of stories flowing through your mind, how do you focus on anything else?"
Here's Ruth Ann.

As with most writers, I began with an interest in writing early in life. Now what's ironic is that I hated to read. I wrote my first horror story in the fifth grade and it was really dumb. I combined a whole bunch of horror movies my mom used to watch with us kids into it (like Poltergeist and Rosemary's Baby--I know, I know: "What was my mom thinking?"). Anyway, in the sixth grade, I discovered Sweet Valley High and that's when I fell in love with reading and teen romances. I remember my first SVH book. It was #8 and the opening line read: "Kiss me," Jessica Wakefield said. From there, I was hooked. I mean, kissing was exciting. Yes, I was a girly girl.

During my high school years, I continued reading teen romances and even wrote four books in my own teen romance series that I had labeled the "Beaver High Series" with a twin boy and girl and the girl next door as the main characters. My second son, Eric, is named after the twin boy "Eric White". Well, then I started dating and hanging out with friends all the time, so my writing stopped, though I did write sappy poetry. Poetry is not my strength. But I have dabbled with it.

In college, I met Melanie Nilles who is big into science fiction and fantasy. This is where I got the inspiration to try my hand at those genres. In fact, my first self-published book in 2002 with iUniverse was a science fiction novel about the planet transitioning from the human species to a new species. From there, I self-published four adult fantasy novels about a magical world called "Raz". Then I tried my hand at Young Adult. I wrote two fantasy novels there and two suspense novels. All of these were also through iUniverse. (Note: Avoid iUniverse at all costs if possible because their quality went downhill after they moved from Nebraska to Indiana.)

I had always had a secret love for romance novels but had tried to avoid them for two reasons: 1. I hated the way the characters jumped into bed before they got married. 2. I was ashamed because I believed that romance wasn't "real literature". I was the kind of person who'd hide the cover of the book and hope no one noticed my blushing. I guess you could have called me a "closet romance reader". I would "binge" on romance books for a couple of months and then throw them out. "I'm over the addiction this time!"

Then in the summer of 2007, I got one of those ads in the mail from a Christian romance publisher and realized, "Wow! There is romance out there for adult women that will take me back to my Sweet Valley High days!" I was excited so I bought some. Then I read them. The first couple were cute and fun, but after awhile, I began to wonder, "If these people are married, why isn't there anything interesting happening in the bedroom?" Back when I was a teenager, the kissing was appropriate for me at my maturity level. But now I'm an adult married woman who knows there is value in the sexual relationship. I don't mean that it needs to be lust driven. That still doesn't interest me. I do, however, like to see how the hero and heroine treat each other in the bedroom because, to me, it deepens their relationship and makes the romance stronger. (That is my opinion.)

So that is when, in November 2007, I dragged out my old manuscript that I had begun back in 1997 that was a Christian romance. I spent one week finishing the book. In the past, I averaged writing two books a year, so I figured this would be it for another six months. Nope. In December, I came up with another idea for a romance. So I sat down and wrote my first romantic comedy, An Inconvenient Marriage. This time I publsihed my book with Outskirts Press. Again, I wanted to be done and take a break, but then another idea nagged at me. It was another romantic comedy, and before I knew it, I got bombarded with ideas. It was around April 2008 when I had finished the third romantic comedy and had ideas for more romances that I knew I was in trouble. This writing thing was taking over.

I decided to go with it, and that's when things really took off. Writing had always been a hobby, and to an extent, it still is, first and foremost, a hobby. I don't see it as a way to make money. What I have come to realize is that it's a way to have fun and escape from the worries of the world. I have become serious about the quality of my work, though I admit I'm not perfect. I continue to improve, but I don't stress about it. I did go through the submission process to seek traditional publication but quickly decided it wasn't for me when I realized that the books I want to write do not fit in with the traditional market. I want full control of my books more than anything else.

I have stopped going through self-publishing companies because that was getting expensive, and I don't make enough in royalties to cover those expenses. I found Createspace and have been truly independent publishing since the summer of 2008. I have tried my hand at romantic fantasy, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and regency romance. I don't care for those so much. But I do love writing romantic comedies and writing historical western romances. That is what I have finally concluded in August 2009.

So you see, the process has been a long one. I didn't get to where I am today overnight. I think the same is true for all writers. And like other writers, I'm looking forward to what's ahead!

Meant To Be by Ruth Ann Nordin.

While on a train heading west, Ted Jacob and Megan Crane are thrown back into the past, with no idea of why or how they got there. They get off the train at Fargo, North Dakota. To their dismay, they are in April 1898.

To their horror, the people insist that Ted and Megan marry at once! But Ted and Megan don't even know each other, and despite their protests, the preacher declares them man and wife. From there, the unlikely couple face other humorous circumstances that prove time travel can be full of fun and laughter.

It is available as a free read at this site:

Thanks for sharing Ruth Ann!
Please leave a comment or question for Ruth Ann.

On Monday I will be hosting Stephanie Burkhart.
In the mean time, the contest is still going on at CRR. Winner gets a publishing contract from Desert Breeze Publishing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Writing Journey - Anne Patrick's Story

Hi Guys, as promised I'm beginning the, "My Writing Journey," series this week. My first guest is author, Anne Patrick. I have to say that I was deeply touched by her story. It certainly is one to encourage us to stick with it, no matter what. Thank you Anne for sharing it with us. Please let Anne know how much you appreciate her. And feel free to ask questions.

My journey to publication has had many twists and turns and bumps along the way. I’ve made up stories in my head since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until many years later that I got the nerve to share them on paper with anyone but my mother, who was my biggest supporter. I first started submitting to Harlequin years ago, and I did have some interest from them, but they wanted steamer love scenes etc. I was more interested in the suspense than the romance so I continued to write and every so often would submit. The rejections continued to roll in, and I admit I got discouraged. I thought is this really worth all the heartache? But deep down I knew I had to continue to write. It was a part of who I was—I can’t not write. So I kept banging around on the keys, pouring out story after story. Then about a year ago I made myself this challenge. For every rejection I received I’d submit three more queries. Finally that first door opened, followed by another, then another, and before I knew it I had landed five contracts. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I was way above cloud nine! My first novel, Every Skull Tells a Story was published first. My next one, Journey to Redemption will be out in ebook form Sept. 15th. Followed by Ties That Bind after the first of the year, Out of the Darkness in May 2010, and Fire and Ash in July 2010. All of them with different homes. And I have five other full manuscripts being considered by publishers. So the moral of this story is DON’T GIVE UP!!! Don’t let those pesky little rejections detour you from reaching your dream of publication. Write every day, continue to hone your craft (either with critique groups or a good editor) and believe in yourself. Sooner or later that door WILL open and you’ll be on your way.

Anne's newest book, Journey to Redemption, releases from Rogue Phoenix Press, on Sept. 15th. Tomorrow!

Detective Morgan Reynolds thought her nightmare was over when serial killer Charles ‘The Slasher’ Tate was sent to prison for her husbands murder. But she was wrong. The Slasher has escaped and he’s making it even more personal this time. Tate has kidnapped her son and is giving her 72 hours to find the answers he wants or Jared dies.To read an excerpt or sample chapter of this novel or one of my other upcoming releases please visit:

Journey to Redemption will be available for purchase at
and Amazon Kindle

Thank you again, Anne.

Thursday's guest is Ruth Ann Nordin.

Also, a reminder that Desert Breeze Publishing is hosting a writing contest through CRR this month. The winner gets a contract. Details can be found in the previous post.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Contests at CRR -- Win a Publishing Contract.

Desert Breeze Publishing is hosting two contests, one for readers and one for authors, on Classic Romance Revival this month. They're giving away a book a day, and authors have a chance to win a publishing contract. Here's the link if you want to check it out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How My Characters Changed My Mind

Last week I wrote a post promising to tell you how my two main characters in my current WIP changed my mind, and then I proceeded to tell you about my journey into the world of writing instead. Well, I'm going to finish the story now.

As you may recall, my current WIP is actually the second part of a story I wrote several years ago. This story was based on a dream, and this dream occurred in chapters. In the last chapter of my dream, my main character was a bitter old woman who had missed out on happiness. So, when I wrote the original story, I wrote this character with that image in mind. I knew she was going to end up miserable, therefore I didn't want to like her very much. While she started out okay, as the story progressed I increasingly made her do bad stuff, until she reached the point of being about as lovable as a wild boar (Yes, horrible comparison, but it's three in the morning). I had to make people hate her, or else they'd just feel horrible in the end because she lost the guy and ended up all alone.

When I decided to break the story into two books, I realized that I needed to add more depth to my characters. I wanted to find out what made them tick. Why did they choose to do the things they did? What did they want out of life, and what were they most afraid of?

What I discovered with my female destined-to-be-a-hag character was that she was pretty much terrified of everything. She wanted to be loved, but didn't feel worthy, and she craved acceptance. As I wrote in these vunerabilities, which are equally matched by her male counterpart, I started NOT hating her. I sympathized with her.

Then I began to tailor the story around both of my characters' flaws, which meant the story got a lot longer, but also more interesting. I shared experiences with them; worrying in times of trouble, feeling proud over their selfless acts, and being downright joyful when things came together in the end. I fell in love with my characters!

Of course, this next book is the continuation of that story. This is the part where my female character is supposed to turn wicked. The problem is now that I know my female character, and love her, I just can't do it. Well, I take that back, I can a little. But not for the sake of making me hate her. It's because she still has an issue to contend with, and until she "gets it" there's going to be trouble. But, the difference is that she WILL eventually "get it." She's convinced me to save her from being a miserable old hag, and my male MC is pretty happy about that too.

Oh! I want to let those of you who read, "My Writing Journey," know that somewhere in this second book I'm going to sneak in a unicorn. ;) Kat. Really! However the setting will remain on Earth.

Monday begins the, "My Writing Journey," blog series. My guest blogger is Anne Patrick. Anne's book, Journey to Redemption, releases on Sept. 15th.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

I haven't forgotten about my cliffhanger. I still plan to tell you how my characters changed my mind, but Max Lucado's new book releases today, so I gotta post this review. I promised. The book is well worth the interruption, btw.

Have you ever felt like a book was written with your most overwhelming fears specifically in mind? That’s how I felt as I read, Fearless, by Max Lucado. Mr. Lucado addressed numerous worrisome issues, such as fear of violence, death, and the uncertainty of tomorrow. He even tackled that forbidden little question that pops up at the most unexpected times, and casts doubt upon the very foundation of Christian belief: “What if God’s not real?”

Using scripture, personal examples, and allegory, Lucado encouraged me; reminded me of the almighty strength of Christ my Redeemer. And that trust in Him is unfailing, no matter the earthly outcome. I needn't be afraid.

I could only take the book in small doses before I’d have to close it. That’s not because I was bored. It’s because every few pages I found myself thinking, “Oh…that’s me,” and then I’d tear up to the point that I couldn’t see. I needed time to settle. I also didn’t want to get the pages all wet.

Lucado closes the book with a truly inspiring example coming from a small boy in Africa, whom upon witnessing the destruction of his home by fire, uttered words of praise, otherworldly and wise.

To quote his first few lines:

Through wind and rain
Through fire and lava
The Lord will never leave you.
Through earthquakes and floods
Through changing sea levels and burning ash
The Lord will never leave you.
If you love Him, He will bless you
and He will give you many things.

He will give you courage. He will give you peace. He will strengthen you, and make you fearless indeed!

I highly recommend this book.

Before I end this post I want to say that I had quite a response to, "My Writing Journey," post. Not just on the blog, but through personal email and fb comments as well. As a result, I'm going to be running a series of, "My Writing Journey," blog posts from two authors each week, for the next five weeks. It's my hope that this will be an encouraging and fun experience for us all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Writing Journey

As you guys know from my last post, DBP has contracted two novels from me. (Contracts delivered, signed, and off in the mail tomorrow. It's official) Anyhow, I'm sitting here working on the rewrite for the second novel, pondering the fate of my two main characters. The reason? They've changed my mind.

Let me back up a minute and explain this story's history because it is a bit unusual. You could even say life changing given the fact that I never desired to be a writer until this story came to me in a dream. Seriously.

About eight years ago, I went to bed one night a stay-at-homeschooling mom with the desire to be exactly that. I was content in that calling. The next morning I woke up feeling as though I'd experienced someone else's life. During the night I had the most peculiar dream--odd in the fact that it seemed to have come in chapters (a young woman falling in love, a frazzled mother, a discontent aging wife, a bitter old woman)and it made complete sense. Freaky, huh?

For about six months this dream plagued my thoughts. How did she meet this young man? At the time, I didn't know much about him, except that his family had endured hardship, so I began to ponder that. What happened to them? Since I felt like my couple belonged in another era, I questioned that too. When did they live? What did they do? And since there were several chapters, the questions kept mounting to the point that I couldn't keep it all straight, and had to write it down.

It's a little funny to look back because I remember sitting behind the computer, which I barely knew how to turn on. I'd spent the previous seven years changing diapers. I didn't want my husband to know what I was up to for fear he'd think I was nuts. Silly me, he already knew I was nuts. He loves me anyway.

Anyhow, I finally confessed, and he was quite supportive. Two years later I had a book. A very long book. 153+ thousand words to be almost exact. Then, unsure of what to do with it, I put it away. Life went on, kids got bigger, and a couple of years later I pulled it out and revised it. Twice. Then I put it away again. Life went on, kids grew, we moved, I pulled it out, revised it two more times, thought about trying to publish it, looked into it, got discouraged and put it away.

A year and a half later, a little voice whispered, "It's time to get serious." So, I pulled it out again, and revised it. Then I decided it might be a good idea to submit parts to a few critique groups (shudder, cringe) It truly was awful, and they let me know it. At first I thought they were all stupid for not recognizing my genius. But really, it was the best thing that could've happened, I have to admit.

That's when I finally decided to try and learn about writing. During this stage of my writing journey I accumulated over twenty books on the craft. And I can honestly say that I read them all. I rewrote my book and started submitting to critique groups again. I even joined a few more. My book? Still crap, but not as stinky.

How was I ever going to get the word count down? I started my...hmmm, what am I up to? Oh yeah, eighth rewrite. This time trying to heed all the advice in those books, as well as the advice of every person who'd ever critqued my work--even if their preferred genre was scifi-time travel-murder mysteries with unicorns. (Don't do that, btw.)

Though, there are exceptions to every rule. My bestest and most helpful writer friend EVER, writes YA fantasy, and No Other would not be if it weren't for her honest feedback.

But usually, when you get a critique from a writer who likes scifi-time travel-murder mysteries with unicorns--and your book's not that--you'll find that writer has suggested that you add at least one unicorn, and should change the setting to outerspace.

My eighth rewrite stalled out at chapter one because I kept revising it to include such things. (Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.)

My point is that critiques take you so far, and then you have to trust your story and your calling. In my case, the words, "It's time to get serious," were replaced with, "Write for Me."

That's when God brought my YA Fantasy awesome writer friend into my life. He also gave me a title, No Other (before that I had tried a succession of different titles, none quite fitting) Then I felt the Lord's urging to just work on the first part--when they're young, barely out of their teens. Make it a book. So, I took what had originally been the first 120 pages of my 700 page book and turned it into 312, deepening and expanding the characters in ways I didn't know were possible. What an experience!

Every few chapters, I sent an email off to my friend for feedback. She told me, honestly, what worked and what didn't, made little suggestions here and there, and spotted those pesky typos that seemed to escape me no matter how many times I proofed. She also trusted that I knew my story, and I knew how to tell it, never suggesting that it needed a unicorn--which made me value her opinion even more.

In late June, my final version of the first part of my original novel was completed--its own separate book. Off went the submissions, and now my book has a home. A home that also wants the rest of the story, so now I'm working on that. Which brings me back to my point about my character's having changed my mind. Except this post has grown so long, that I think I'll save that story for next time. It'll be worth it.

Hehe. Cliffhangers

1970 Olds 442


If you're curious about the story behind the name of my blog, click on the car. :)