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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Do you remember what you were doing on New Year's Eve 12 years ago?
I do!
Happy 12th Birthday to my baby. Love you, Kaylee!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Magic of Christmas by Shawna K. Williams

When my youngest daughter was nine she approached me a couple of weeks before Christmas and asked, "Is Santa Claus really real?"

The way she narrowed her eyes and cocked her little head to the side gave away her skepticism, and I knew the time for fairy tales had come to an end. Just to make sure, my response was, "Do you really want to know?"

That was all I had to say.

I was ill-prepared for what followed. Having seen her young mind arranging the pieces I figured she'd accept the news with little consequence; but instead, my baby went on a two day mourn-fest lamenting the passing of her childhood.

"There's no magic anymore!" she wailed into the late hours of the night.

Why oh why couldn't this revelation about Santa Claus have occurred to her during July, or some other month when Christmas was still far enough away that she'd have time to adjust.

After the second day, when her grief began to subside, I sat her on my knee and explained the wonder of The Christmas Spirit; how it was real, far more magical than Santa Claus, and how now she wasn't just a recipient of it, but part of its making. Part of the magic.

No longer did we have to prepare her gifts in secrecy. Or her brother's and sister's for that matter. Now she was allowed to participate in all of the little behind-the-scene Christmas activities. When we purchased gifts for families in need and dropped them off at the doorstep, she could be a part; be Santa Claus. When we took baskets to our neighbors, she could be the one to deliver. Instead of focusing on what she wanted for Christmas, she could think of ways to spread the cheer to others.

At first, she seemed less than impressed with my explanation, but the next day her little hands went to work making potholders for the Christmas baskets we delivered to neighbors. The day after that, she realized that she could participate in the family tradition of sneaking small gifts under the miniature trees we each kept in our rooms the week before Christmas. So, she made a snowman out of craft foam for her daddy and a beaded necklace for me. By the end of the week she'd created a number of precious contributions for family, friends and neighbors.

On the night we delivered Christmas baskets, we approached a house that was dark and lifeless. It would have seemed abandoned if the dim glow from a television set hadn't hinted otherwise.

Icicle lights hung from the porch. However, I knew from previous visits to our elderly neighbor that these were a constant feature, remaining intact and unlit year round.

We knocked on the door several times and had almost decided to leave the basket and return to the warmth of the car when we heard the sound of the door unlocking from the other side.

Mrs. Burden's crinkled eyes peeked through the slit, and then she opened the door wide, appearing a bit confused. My daughter's arms extended in offering and Mrs. Burden squinted, then smiled as her eyes affixed to the gift basket.

"My oh my!" she exclaimed before inviting us in. She quickly turned on the lights to the den and kitchen area, and asked us to take a seat as her feeble hands fingered through the basket of goodies. "Mervin, look at this," she said.

"Huh?" was his reply from the recliner in the corner. But he slowly pushed himself from the chair and shuffled over to see what his wife was so excited about. "Well I'll be…would ya look at that," he said, peering down through his coke-bottle bifocals.

Before long the television was off, the radio tuned to Christmas music and we were all enjoying a cup of hot cocoa or cider made from the boxes of instant mix stashed away in the gift basket.

Eventually we had to excuse ourselves since we still had a couple of more deliveries. So we said our farewells and wished each other a Merry Christmas. As they closed the door, the sight of their smiling faces warmed my heart.

But then, as we walked from their porch to the car, something curious happened. Those icicle lights, that were a year round fixture and always unlit, flickered on. My littlest daughter stopped cold at the illumination and turned where she stood, wide-eyed in amazement. Then she looked at me with a joyful smile. "We shared the Spirit of Christmas!"

"Yes, Honey we did," I said.

She erupted in a giggle and grabbed my hand. "The magic is real!"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wanna Win These! Plus More Stuff

It's not too late to get in on DBP's scavenger hunt. Prizes, including books, cookies, candy tins, canvas bags and gift certificates (ranging from $10-$50) will be given away through the 18th. These earrings (one of the prizes) are made with Swarovski Crystal so they catch light beautifully, but they aren't too photogenic unless you have a great camera.

Each question will lead you to another blog. You're about a week behind so you'll need to scroll down some of the posts to find the question. And remember, you must sign up at DBP Connections to participate.

I hope you had no problem finding the answer to the question that led you here. It's from one of my favorite stories, and was the inspiration for the name of my blog. But you gotta be more specific than Oldsmobile.

Now, here's my question for the scavenger hunt.
What were the two alternative titles for the Love Bites series?
I've tried to fix this three times now, but if a content warning sign comes up when you click on this link, I assure you, Jay's blog is safe to enter.

Good Luck!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Scavenger Hunt

Desert Breeze Publishing is putting on a Christmas scavenger hunt through the blogs of their authors. Each blog will have a question with a link to another author's blog where you'll have to look for the answer.

Sign up at to get a list of questions and to be eligible for prizes. Prizes include everything from free reads, to t-shirts, Swarovski crystal Christmas earrings (made by me), cookies, calendars, and Amazon gift certificates ranging from $10-$50; and more.

The hunt started yesterday at but you shouldn't have any problem catching up. It will conclude on Dec 18th. Have fun!

Oh! And don't forget to enter here or here to win a Kindle 2. You can enter both if you like.

And just for bragging points, over the Thanksgiving holidays I went to Best Buy looking for a book light and ended up selling a Sony Touch ereader to an interested couple, and then at church I convinced an airforce serviceman to buy a Kindle after he noticed that my Bible was on mine. He was already thinking about it though. Okay...that's all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Here's to safe traveling and a wonderful time with family and friends. God bless.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Research Series: K. Dawn Byrd

This week's guest blogger is K. Dawn Byrd. She is a fellow Desert Breeze Publishing author, whose suspense novel, Killing Time, is set to be released in the summer of 2010. But K. Dawn is currently working on a WWII romance that is scheduled for release this coming April. Here's what she has to share about researching this story.

K. Dawn Byrd

I've never had to do much research for my books. That is, until recently when I tackled a historical. It's a WWII romantic suspense that should be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in April if all goes as planned. I've been somewhat of a WWII buff for years, but realized just how little I knew about the era when I began writing. Google searches have been helpful as has eBay. For example, I was looking for a hotel in New York where my heroine, who is a spy, would pick up a message for the O.S.S. I searched eBay and found a 1945 menu for the Hotel Astor. I placed the scene in the hotel and chose her meal from the menu.

I'm a plotter. Before I begin a new manuscript, I spend a couple of weeks researching. Recently, I started a series about a female bail bondsman and was lucky enough to have a friend who is a bail bondsman who was willing to answer my questions. It's always good to find someone in the field if possible. Also, I've found Yahoo groups to be helpful. There's a group for just about everything you can think of. For example, I'm a lurking member of a group of crime scene writers and have gleaned a lot of information from their posts.

Before I start writing, it's an absolute must that I know my characters well. I have used character worksheets to help me get acquainted with them. You can find several of these by doing a Google search. Also, Jeannie Campbell at can be of great help. She's a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and will answer your questions about your characters on her blog. With a little bit of a background, she can tell you why they act the way they do so that you can build believable characters.

Another useful tool I've used to help me get to know my characters is Debra Dixon's book, Goal, Motivation & Conflict. This book helps me explore what my character's goals are and why they have those goals. The conflict comes in when I place an obstacle in their path that keeps them from meeting that goal. Let's say your heroine's goal is to get married. Her motivation is that she's lonely and wants someone to share her life with. The conflict comes in as you ask "Why can't she meet this goal?" Maybe her mother runs eligible bachelors off. Maybe she wants to get married so badly that she pushes herself on men and scares them off. Get the picture?

I've found that I actually enjoy research. In addition, I devour books on editing and learning the craft, ever striving to become a better writer. I hope you've found some of the tools I use to be helpful in your own writing. That said, it's time I get back to work on my historical. Good luck with your research!

Enter Here to win a free Kindle.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fuhr Family Story

As a continuation of my research series, I'm posting the Fuhr family story. I found this story about two months ago, long after the completion of No Other, but this young man's experience is similar in many ways to that of my character, Jakob, so I thought it would be a good one to share.

The Fuhr Family Story

My parents, Carl and Anna Fuhr, immigrated to the U.S. in 1927 and 1928. My father came in 1927, and my mother, along with my older brother, Julius and me, immigrated in 1928. We settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. My father, a baker, had been sponsored to immigrate to the U.S. by several people. One sponsor was Frank Grammer, who owned and operated one of the finest German restaurants in the Midwest. Another sponsor was the Concordia Lutheran Church of Cincinnati. My mother was a housewife. On October 13, 1929, my younger brother, Gerhard, was born.

In 1940, my parents, my older brother, and I were told by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the FBI to go to the downtown post office and register as aliens.

On August 5, 1942, my parents were taken into custody by the FBI. Several weeks later at hearings by a so-called hearing board (not a court of law), where they were not given the opportunity to face their accusers, they were ordered into internment. My younger brother, Gerhard, was just 12 years old at that time and preparing to go into the 6th grade at the Heberle School in Cincinnati. He had just been assigned his seat, when he was told to go home and pack our parents’ clothes. They were not permitted to return home and pack for themselves.

My 12-year-old brother was interned with my parents, even though he was an American citizen, having been born in Cincinnati. Had he not joined my parents, he would have been sent to an orphanage, a fate shared by other internee children. On September 12, 1942, carrying clothing and belongings for himself and our parents, he took a taxicab to the U.S. Post Office garage, which was located on John Street in Cincinnati. The following day, the three of them boarded a train and headed for Chicago, Illinois, where they changed trains, and along with many other families, headed to Dallas and ultimately to the Federal Women’s Prison in Seagoville, Texas. At that time there were 700-800 family internees in this large facility which was run by the I.N.S. They remained there until early July of 1943, when they were transferred to a camp in southwestern Texas called Crystal City.

Meanwhile, my brother, Julius (18) and I (17) were allowed to stay home, but had to fend for ourselves.

Continues with fifth paragraph:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Importance of Research: Anne Patrick

Some of you may remember Anne as a guest blogger a couple of months back during the Writing Journey series. Today she's with us again to talk about research. Anne writes suspense, and every good suspense needs an equally good detective. And since Anne's not a detective, she had homework to do. So, I'll turn the rest of this post over to Anne so she can tell us how she approaches this.

The Importance of Research

The old saying, write what you know, doesn’t really work well in fiction unless you’re an ex-cop doing a series about a cop or a retired forensic pathologist drawing on their experience to create NY Times bestsellers. But when you’re an administrative assistant, creating a variety of characters including FBI profilers to fire investigators, you want to be as through as possible, so you research.

For me researching is half the fun. It hasn’t always been that pleasant. I remember, before the great wide world of internet, spending hours and hours in the local library skimming through book after book hoping to learn as much as I could about the subject I was writing about. But with the invention of cyber space (God bless Google) my research time has been cut way down. Even better is finding that one source that can help you get inside your character’s head.

On my novel, Every Skull Tells a Story, I linked up with a real Forensic Artist who was able to give me great insights into the process through email correspondence. Plus I read as much about the subject I could get my hands on. This paid off at my first book signing when I had a small group of eager buyers who asked a variety of questions on the subject. If I hadn’t done my research I would have been in a real pickle. Not to mention looked really stupid.

While writing my upcoming release, Fire and Ash, I was put into contact through a friend with a Fire Investigator in Iowa. By the time I met him I had already done most of my research on the subject, but wanted to make sure I got it right and that my scenes were feasible. He graciously took the time to read my manuscript, offered some great input on how to improve my main character, and let me crawl inside his head so to speak of what a day in his life was like. He walked me through (via email) several fire scenes which really helped when I was working on my imaginary scenes. His help was invaluable.

So how much is too much? Most of the research I do never goes into the actual story; it’s more background information to help me have a good vision of what my character should be like because you want them to be as believable as possible. You also want your scenes to be as realistic as possible. You wouldn’t build a house without a good set of blueprints would you?

Sometimes you get so wrapped up in the research though that you lose your concentration or get side tracked. A good solution to this is as you’re writing your story, when you come to a place where some research is needed, highlight the paragraph and come back to it later once you finish the first draft. This should keep you grounded. At least it works for me.

The bottom line, if you want to write a book that captivates the reader with believable characters, do your research. You never know when you’ll have a group of interested buyers ready to pick your brain about your wonderful new book.

Please visit to read excerpts and sample chapters of my books. Every Skull Tells a Story and Journey to Redemption is available now, more titles to come in 2010.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Scheibe Family Story

This posts marks the first in my series on research, and as promised I want to start by highlighting a bit of history uncovered while researching my novel, No Other. This is not an attempt to make any political statement. I think we all can agree that the stories of these families are tragic. The only fair statement to be made is that war is horrific on all accounts.

The characters in my book are not based upon any one family, but upon the shared experiences of many.

In the interest of length, I will post a partial excerpt and then the link to the complete story.

The Scheibe Family Story

On the 8th of November, 2002, my brother (Egon Scheibe Jr.) and I (Erika Scheibe Seus) went on a journey to Crystal City, Texas. This was a journey we needed to make. Our parents, Grete Scheibe, now 89, and our deceased father Egon Sr. were internees at a camp there during World War II. After 60 years a reunion was being held. We were among “the children of the camp.” This is a story that needs to be told. It is a part of the history of our family.

My father immigrated to the United States from Kiel, Germany, in the year 1925, at the age of 17. He arrived with his mother and father (a naval architect) and his younger brother Fred. My father attended Cooper Union Art School and became a talented artist. Fred earned his PHD and went on to become a college professor.

My mother, at the age of 10, arrived at Ellis Island with her family in 1924, leaving behind their farm in Bremerhaven. My grandfather was killed at the age 33 in World War I. They were sponsored by relatives, learned English and made a new life here. My parents were active in the German community and met at one of their dances. They were married in 1937 and lived in Brooklyn, New York. I was born a year later.

The war broke out in 1942. On June 15th, the FBI went to my father’s place of business, handcuffed him, interrogated him and took him to Ellis Island. Agents came to the house and searched all our personal belongings. For the next 6 months my mother and I visited my father by ferry. At that time the building was deteriorating and conditions were deplorable. My parents were forbidden to hold hands by the guards.

This same scenario was occurring throughout the United States. Over 11,000 German Americans were being arrested, detained and interned all because of unfounded suspicions. They were denied legal counsel in behalf of their defense. Many were on the FBI’s list because of insinuations, jealous business rivals or hearsay, some because they belonged to various German clubs and organizations.

In December of 1942 our family was sent to an internment camp in Texas for “enemy aliens.”

For the rest go to

Now, to lighten the mood, here's a link for a drawing to win a Kindle or Sony Touch Ereader.

And enter here to win a Kindle

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Free Cookbook

Desert Breeze Publishing is offering a free downloadable cookbook. It includes recipes from DBP authors as well as excerpts from their books. Here's the link for direct download.

Also, DBP now has a monthly newsletter with info about authors, new releases, all kinds of stuff. Here's that link too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guest Blogger: Linda Nixon Fulkerson, On Blogging Well

Today we've got a treat. Linda Nixon Fulkerson has joined us to share a little advice on ways to improve your blog. I for one, need this. I'm continually wondering what in the world my next blog post will be about. So, not only did Linda take care of that little worry for me today, she brought along a lot of helpful advice that we bloggers can benefit from. Thanks Linda!

Do you have a blog that’s kind of stuck — just sitting there, waiting to attract oodles of readers? Or maybe you don’t have a blog yet. You’ve been told you should start one, though, since everyone who’s anyone in your industry blogs. But, you’re not quite sure how to get started or even if you want to blog. Trust me, I understand. I've probably made every blogging boo-boo possible before I plopped down at the “feet” of some of the best blogging gurus out there and became a serious student of blogdom.

I’m not necessarily the most blog-savvy person on the planet, but, as the song goes, “I Know a Little,” and I’ve had enough people ask me how to blog, what to blog about, how to start blogging, etc., that I decided to launch my own “how-to-become-a-rockstar-blogger” blog. It's called "On Blogging Well" and is located at

On Blogging Well contains tips on creating compelling content, promoting your blog, search engine optimization and techie tips geared toward non-Geeks, weekly podcasts (don’t even make fun of my Arkansas accent, though!), as well as information about how to make money from blogging if you want. On Blogging Well also offers tips for using social media to create traffic streams to your blog with posts like, “Five Things Your Mother Never Told You about Twitter.”

For those bloggers who’ve been around a while, there’s a free advanced tips newsletter – just sign up in the form located in the right sidebar. I won’t pester you by flooding your email in-box with a bunch of useless ramblings. These posts are sent about once or maybe twice a week and have solid, meaty tips to help you take your blog from stagnant to stunning.

I hope you'll stop by and visit. Feel free to ask questions about all things blogging. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to find it!
Thanks so much, Shawna, for letting me hog your blog today!
Linda Fulkerson
Blog Coach & Internet Marketing Advisor

Linda Fulkerson is a wife, mom, author, hobby farmer, photographer, blog coach/online marketing advisor, and self-proclaimed blogaholic. She’s been blogging for nearly six years, and while some not-quite-six-year-olds are barely out of pull-ups, in bloggy years, that puts her among the blue-hairs. You can learn more about Linda by visiting

If you have any questions for Linda please post them, she will be checking in to answer throughout the day.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Book Review: It's Not About Him by Michelle Sutton

It's Not About Him by Michelle Sutton picks up with two of the characters we were introduced to in Michelle's YA novel, It's not About Me.

Both Jeff and Susie are young, struggling Christians with serious issues to face. Susie, who is pregnant when the story begins, has decided to give her baby up for adoption. Jeff, though not the father, wants to take care of Susie and her baby. Having been given up for adoption himself, and plagued with his need to know why, he believes that Susie is making the wrong choice. In the midst of this conflict is a burgeoning romance.

There's not a subject this book doesn't approach. Alcoholism, rape, sexual temptation, death; Michelle takes on each of these, and shows how her characters overcome their pain and temptation with God's help.

My favorite part about this book was the completeness of the journey, starting with Susie's decision to give up her baby, and ending with the resolution Jeff finds at the book's conclusion. I don't want to give anymore away than that.

Next fall the third book in the It's Not About series comes out and it picks up with Tony. I'm glad, because I like and sympathize with his character, and look forward to seeing him conquer his struggles through Christ.

Good job, Michelle!

On Wednesday Linda Nixon Fulkerson is going to guest blog. And starting next week I'm going to begin a series on research. It may be a little slow at first since I'm still lining up guests.

I have a treat though! I came across so many interesting facts while I was researching No Other, but none were as fascinating -- and heartwrenching -- as the stories of the German immigrant families who were interned during the war. This historical reality is the heart of my book. It's the emotional framework for Jakob; and to understand him, you have to know what these people went through. During this series on research, I'd like to highlight a different family's story each week. I think this is important to share, and I believe you will agree.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Upcoming Review and Next Series

Pardon me guys, I'm running a little behind on some stuff, but later this week I plan to post a review of Michelle Sutton's new book, It's Not About Him.

I also want to start a new series. I've been mulling topics around, and I think it would be interesting to discuss methods of research and character development. I have some of my own ideas, but I'd love to hear from you guys too, so if anyone would like to write a post, please leave a comment on this one.

In the mean time, because it's interesting and fun, take this quiz and see what your personality type is.

If you have any favorite characters from a book, even one that you're writing, see if you can figure out what they are.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Writing Journey - Michelle Sutton

Today's guest blogger is Michelle Sutton. I've come to know Michelle through her networking site, Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers. And her reputation as a savvy author was also what convinced me to submit to Desert Breeze. Michelle's story is slightly different than my previous posts in that hers is shared through several questions. Thanks for taking the time Michelle!

Tell us about your start in writing, and your upcoming release with Desert Breeze Publishing.

I started writing fiction in August of 2003. At the time I had a favorite author, Cynthia Rutledge. I wrote to her about how much I loved her stories and she told me she started writing after her kids left home. I thought, if she can do it so can I. Her stories were good. Mine weren't, at first, but I kept working at the craft, reading books, and getting critiques, etc. I also practiced a lot by simply doing it.

I've also attending five writer's conferences. This was not a fly by night hobby for me. I was serious about it and willing to invest money in my future. I'm sure that helped a lot. I used to think my first novel would never get published but I sold it. The original version is not fit for consumption but the revised version is pretty good, LOL! It releases in January 2010 and is called First Impressions. It's an e-book through Desert Breeze.

What led me to write the story was living around Tombstone and seeing the story potential in that setting. The story is about a woman and man who dress up like they are from the old west. He is a Christian and she is not. The heart of the story is about staying close to the Lord and not dating people who don't share faith in Christ.

How did you find an agent, Michelle?

How I got my agent is kind of funny, actually. I met with Tamela Hancock Murray because she had a cancellation at the Denver 2004 ACRW conference. I hadn't planned to meet with an agent but decided to give it a try. I told her about my story (not in print yet) and she said she thought it was more suited for ABA. I took that as a thanks but no thanks despite her telling me to send her a proposal.

Well, a few months later I wrote to her and said I'd never sent the proposal because I connected with an editor who help me overhaul the book. She said she was still interested in seeing a proposal. I told her I thought she didn't want it. She said she repped CBA and ABA books so she was merely commenting on where it would best fit. She then read my proposal and ultimately my entire book and took me on as a client. The rest is history.

So the first book you wrote is about to be published. Can you tell us a little about the first book you got published?

It's Not About Me was my fifth book and It's Not About Him was my sixth. What inspired the first in the series was an attack on a friend of mine who was alone in the church office and didn't realize the door was unlocked. Then an intruder came in an asked for money and well, you know the rest...

Well, I know the rest...but some of you may not, so I'll leave that up to you to find out. Michelle's second book in the 'Not About' series released in September, and her third book in the series, 'It's Not About Her,' comes out next fall. Michelle also released an ebook, 'Danger at the Door' with Desert Breeze Publishing in August.

For more information about Michelle and her books check out her sites.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Writing Journey - Sandra Sookoo

Today's guest blogger is Sandra Sookoo, and you guys are in for a treat. This is such a great story. And Sandra...what a talent! I recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at Sandra's upcoming release, and I absolutely adored it -- so full of personality. As is her journey. Enjoy!

How did I get my start? Glad you asked. It all started in January of ’07 when I was laid off from the real estate industry. Replacement jobs were tough to come by and my wonderful hubby suggested I work on my writing and see if I could get something published.

What? Be serious about writing? It’d always been a dream and the prospect of putting my work out there and myself on the line for public derision was daunting. So, since it was the dead of winter and I had two completed full length books, I decided to enter them in some RWA-sponsored contests with a heart full of hope. Time after time they came back marked up with suggestions of how to improve, why they weren’t good enough, but they liked my voice.

Not having a clue that writing was more than, well writing, I took some classes, read books, looked up articles about the craft online. And I learned. That’s the key. But after more than a year of striking out, the thought of being a dismal failure crept in to get intimately acquainted with depression.

I switched gears and decided to write a short story. My thinking regarding this was that maybe if I could write a really good short and get it published, I’d have a glimmer of credibility behind my name and maybe THAT would open previously closed doors. I wrote like there was no tomorrow—, which wasn’t far from the truth. If I couldn’t succeed in writing, I’d have to go back to work, and we all know how hard it is to maintain a writing schedule with a full time job.

So, I wrote the first short. I wrote what I know. Food and how the kitchen is the heart of a home, but I also added a magical element to that storyline. After a fortuitous visit to a spice shop, the rest of the tale was born. I was so excited about that story, that while it was being mauled over by a critique group, I wrote a second one. Much different. Dual plot lines about a modern day woman who’s haunted by a ghost and her estranged husband on Halloween.

Armed with two interesting stories, fresh out of the critter’s hands, I searched for a potential publisher. Throughout the journey, I made tentative peace with the fact that getting to a print publisher in the current economy was just not possible, especially with no track record. E-pubs were the way to go. I submitted and I stressed.

During this time, I decided to do my very first NaNo project (the National Write a 50K Novel in a Month) I thought, why not? Nothing else I’d done to this point was getting me anywhere. So, I plotted and outlined. I wrote 3K words a day and constantly worried about the submissions as well as hosting two Thanksgivings later that month. I think my hubby nearly disowned me since I was slowly losing my mind. I did finish the NaNo a full 9 days ahead of the deadline.

And then I heard back from one publisher. They loved the story but wanted a few things revised on the ghost story. Would I please resubmit? Of course! Those edits were tough, but I worked through. I sent it back. It would be weeks before I heard. Then, a few days before Thanksgiving ’08, another publisher offered me my first contract on what is now FOODIE’S GUIDE TO KITCHEN MAGIC, which released from Lyrical Press on November 18th, 2009. The other short THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA PRITCHART, was accepted a few weeks later and released from The Wild Rose Press on September 30, 2009.

Incidentally, that book WINNER TAKES ALL underwent a few changes after the fanfare was over. It hit the contest circuit and went down in flames. I edited and revised it a bit more. In desperation and even though I had two contracts in hand for short stories, I still thought my writing was nothing better than toilet water. No one wanted to look at my full-length books. I tucked WINNER TAKES ALL away.

In the spring of 2009, after a series of email chats and talks with my critique partner, we scouted out a new publisher, Desert Breeze. We weighed the pros and cons of submitting to a publisher that no one knew about, that hadn’t been launched yet. Then, I decided, what the heck? The manuscript wasn’t doing me any good sitting on a computer. So, I submitted the partial. And waited a few days before the email came requesting the full. Finally, forward motion!

A couple of weeks later, the most awesome email came. We want your book and we want to use it to promote during the RT Convention in May. Yikes! It gave me 30 days to prepare, but you bet I signed that contract. WINNER TAKES ALL was accepted and I had my foothold. It released from Desert Breeze on May 1, 2009.

Moral of the story? Never give up. It only takes one yes to start the ball rolling. Consider the pre-published time as a learning bubble. Make yourself the best writer you can be to that point. Everything else will come. I can’t wait to see what else will happen to my career in the future.
Thanks Sandra!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Writing Journey - P.I. Barrington

You guys will enjoy this story. It's a little different from most of our experiences in that it seemed, for P.I., the writer's career chased her. Oh, that's just not fair! (Kidding P.I....sort of. hehe)Thanks for sharing your fascinating journey with us. And look for P.I.'s book, Crucifying Angel, in the next few weeks. It's released on Nov. 1st.

My Writing Journey
P.I. Barrington

They say all roads lead to Rome. In my case, all roads lead to writing. No matter how I've tried to repress, reject, or ignore it, I don't seem to have any choice in the matter and it's beginning to look like I never did.

My journey to writing began in grade school. The local American Legion held a writing contest on the care of the American flag and my school was a participant. Oh, there were guidelines. First Person, list all the ways to care for and dispose of a flag, yada yada yada. I shrugged, scribbled out a little piece (there were no keyboards back then we actually had to use pen/pencil and—gasp—paper) and turned it in. Each student was assigned a number so there would be no hanky-panky in the form of favoritism.

I won. My mother bought me a hated new dress and they gave me a medal and letter from the Legion. I recently unearthed both of them. I should have known then. For the remainder of my school years I wrote only for my own amusement and fantasy escapism, never finishing anything, never caring to. It was all just silly anyway. That funny urge that I'd get to grab a pen, pencil, quill or my uncle's old typewriter and put words on paper, I told myself, was just my own obsession, born of voracious reading of everything including encyclopedias and thesauruses. By the time I realized I didn't want to be a lawyer in community college, I had no other choice (being mathematically challenged to say the least) than to choose journalism because it seemed the only thing I knew how to do halfway was write. Suffice it to say I ended up as a cub reporter/photographer for my city's newspaper. I hated those danged deadlines.

I finally managed to crush the obsessive compulsion to write when I went to a full-on university. There I discovered the second best thing I was good at: radio. I rose from (what else?) the college station's news director to music director and the #1 DJ in a year. (I should have known about that too—at grade school, I was the official MC of any school gathering in the auditorium— anyone beginning to see a pattern here?) I relegated writing to somewhere in my subconscious where it couldn't bother me while I went on to pursue my childhood dream of working in the music industry and meeting Paul McCartney. I did too.

After bouncing around radio stations and record companies, I finally succumbed to a long illness and put aside anything career wise to deal with that. Everyone told me to write. I had the time. I had a computer. It would be a form of therapy. After 30 years of lying dormant somewhere in my psyche, I finally dredged up the old urges and tried to write something in 2006. It ended up as mindless rambling that frightened even my family. However my blessed, more than supportive family (I couldn't have succeeded at anything without them) encouraged me to keep at it. I joined online writers' groups. I wrote and re-wrote and wrote some more. Finally, a few beams of fiction light burst into the dark cavern of my mind and—on an impulse—I answered a call for submissions to a pulp fiction online magazine. That I was accepted I can only attribute to my being the first one to respond. The storylines were already in place, I'd just be continuing a space opera. (Oh, yeah. That's another thing. Genre. I am now officially a writer of the sci-fi/romance/crime thriller—'futuristic' or as I like to call it, "near future"—genre'.) But back to the narrative. My stories weren't that great, but I did have a really great editor. I had two stories published before the magazine folded. But it let me know, I could still do it, sort of; I'd tried to write another novel over a series of years, a serial killer crime romance novel, but just couldn't work it out.

And then, it happened again. On one of my writing groups another call for submissions popped up. Again, on impulse, I sent that 8-year-old manuscript to Desert Breeze Publishing. Again, I was probably the first one to submit, lol! In any case, Gail R. Delaney, the Executive Editor at DBP, passed on that story but thought I might do well with a seminal idea she had for a—you guessed it— futuristic romance. Now, I'm not that great at romance writing. At times I'm awkward and bumbling about it. But I think I have a fair grasp of conflict and motivation and hopefully that's evident in my first novel, "Crucifying Angel". Gail asked me to write up a first chapter and we tossed it back and forth until we had a basic agreement on the story.

It started as almost an assignment, like the American Legion contest or the space opera thing. I seem to only get published that way. I dug in. By the time Crucifying Angel was finished, I was already into the second book of the Future Imperfect series, plugging away with real excitement, something I haven't felt in ages. So I guess you could say I never really did have a choice in being a writer. And worst of all, I think I may even be happy about it.

Besides, it's kind of fun when you can't wait to find out what's going to happen in a novel that you're writing.

CRUCIFYING ANGEL Book One of the Future Imperfect series, available from Desert Breeze Publishing, November 1, 2009.

"In the desolate remains of Las Vegas, Detective Payce Halligan and her new partner, Gavin McAllister, must stop a serial killer who may be hiding an even greater evil."

Check out this review for P.I.Barrington's book.

P.I. Barrington's Blog

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Writing Journey - KM Wilsher

I have a real soft spot for today's guest blogger. I can't help it! I met KM through our ACFW critique group, and was immediately captivated by her first submission. I don't really know how to explain it. There's just a quality to her writing -- a total submersion into the fantasy world in her mind. I swear, I could feel and smell the surroundings! But, apart from her wonderful talent, KM has a compassionate heart, and I've loved getting to know her. So it's my pleasure to have her as a guest blogger today. Thanks for sharing with us, KM. Oh, and you have an awesome blog! Seriously guys, the link is at the bottom. Check it out.

Man, this is an honor to share my story here with Shawna Williams’ readers.

I am not sure anyone would have given the title ‘writer’ to little girl KM. Orator maybe, definitely actress, or dancer. My mom thought I might ice dance, I don’t think she thought I would love to write.

However, at night, when mom tucked me in and I said, “Mommy, I am not tired.”
She’d say, “That’s okay, just make up a story, picture it in your mind, and before you reach the end of that story you will be asleep.”
At first I said, “A story? About what?”
Mom said, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you are a waitress at Woolsworth. Or a shepherdess keeping sheep. Whatever you want it to be.”

Along with mom, I have a brilliant dad, educator, administrator, writer, artist and avid reader. My love for books, Native Americans, and stories about my ancestors, came from him. That is where the madness planted its seed.

In High School I discovered I had a talent for playing percussion. In my mind’s eye, I saw I would be a heavy metal drummer for the rest of my days. Along with this passion, I wrote songs. Mostly lyrics and poetry, but I did attempt a few novels mostly centering on rock-n-roll.

My entire young adult goal was to make my fortune, then retire and write my book. Sound a little like Bilbo Baggins?

Life takes its turns, and if I filled in this gap here it would be more of my come to Jesus testimony than a blog post about my writing. That is for another day and another post. Throughout the next decade and a half I put down a smattering of words. In fact, one Christmas I hand wrote in small books a short story of mine and gave it to my family members as gifts. An allegory called, The Castle. I will tell you though, by this time I did not have a lot of confidence in myself as a person, much less my ability for composition.

Two years ago, my life and hope solid in Jesus Christ, I decided to go to a writer’s conference at the Community College down the street. I told a small group of friends, and soon we started a writer’s group called One Page at a Time. Four females got together and encouraged one another to write. This was a small spark that has turned into a roaring fire in my life.

That small writers group disbanded quickly. But, as a result of the passion that first writing group stirred within me, God brought the most exciting gift through the internet. A wonderful young girl named Avily Jerome contacted me. She was a Christian fiction writer and wondered if I wanted to get together. She led me to a local Christian writers group that has long term success. And there I found Lynn Rush, another sister in Christ. These girls have become important cornerstone’s in my life, my faith, and my writing.

As a result of their urging, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and am the editor for the newsletter for my local chapter, Christian Writers of the West. I serve as one of the leaders on the committee for the first local ACFW chapter writers contest called: The Phoenix Rattler. (October 31 deadline!) God is good.

Through my ACFW crit group I found Christian writers across the nation and a gorgeous web of support and fellowship sprung up over night. (Shawna and Kat to name a few. J)

I am a fantasy nut. I am not published, but I am living the dream. I am trying to finish up two novels. One is a post-Armageddon, sci-fi, fantasy: Remnants. The other is a sword and sorcery, high world: Cobra Cutlass. I hope to enter Cobra Cutlass in Genesis this spring.

I have a few short stories I am trying to peddle: Cobra Cutlass, and Suicide Extinct (A Christian Allegory involving vampires in space). However, I am not impatient. My dream is first of all to write. I love to write. Second, I love to interact with other Christian writers, encourage them, and revel in the moments that they take me seriously. One day I hope to be published, but that will be the icing on the cake. For now I am just enjoying every “bloody” moment of this ride.

KM Wilsher Look me up on Facebook :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Writing Journey - Nicole Zoltack

I'd like to introduce Nicole Zoltack as today's guest blogger. Nicole is a fellow DBP author. I love her reminds me of my daughters. And it's the perfect story to get us motivated for Nano Writing Month. Thanks Nicole for sharing this with us.

I started writing stories when I first learned how to write. Seriously. My mother used to sit my one sister and I down and gave us paper and pencils and we would just write. One of the first stories that I finished combined two holidays: Thanksgiving and Halloween. The family used to dress up as food objects for Thanksgiving. The father was always turkey. And the little girl, her name was Megan but her nickname was May (I loved both those names when I was younger and could never pick one over the other), couldn't decide what to dress up as. Her mother had ideas and so did her father but none of them were good enough for her. Finally, she picked mashed potatoes. (Coincidentally, mashed potatoes were my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal And for you curious ones, my favorite holiday was actually Christmas.) I no longer have the story but I was rather proud of it when I first wrote it. Not that I know how one would go about dressing up as mashed potatoes. A fat ghost maybe?

During classes in the sixth grade, I began to write a YA fantasy novel. It was my pride and joy and I carried the handwritten pages everywhere. I even wrote during class. High school came around and I drifted away from writing stories and wrote many poems. The poems were awful, just dreadful. I would be embarrassed for anyone to read them, they are that bad.

College. I returned to writing fiction. I worked some more on my YA fantasy novel, reworked the beginning and finished it the summer before junior year. I'm still tinkering it and will be sending it out to agents by the end of the month. My sister (the one mentioned above) told me about Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Nano is when writers around the world try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I did Nano 2004-2007 and won each of those 4 years. I wrote less than 1,000 words in November 2008 but I had a one month old baby so I didn't expect to win.

One of those Nano stories, after much editing and adding 38,000 more words, turned into Woman of Honor, a medieval fantasy romance that is available from Desert Breeze Publishing. But that wasn't my first published work. I had always liked writing short stories and one day, I did a search for short story submissions. I found a call of submission for a sweet romance anthology from Freya's Bower. I wrote a short story and sent it in but was rejected. The editor, Faith Bicknel-Brown, sent a nice rejection letter and mentioned at the end that if I wanted to, I could send another story. So I wrote another one and this time, it was accepted. Little Cowgirl, under the pen name Nicolette Zamora is in One Touch, One Glance: A Sweet Romance Anthology.

I am currently working on Woman of Honor's sequel, Knight of Glory. Then I have some short stories that I would like to write for anthologies and other calls. Maybe I'll finish another Nano story soon. Regardless, I know I will be writing for a long, long time.

And my sister that used to write beside me? She wants to be a writer too. And I know that someday, she'll be one. And it's all Mom's fault. Thanks, Mom.

My website is and my blog is I am also on facebook, myspace, and twitter. Thanks so much for allowing me to share my writing journey, Shawna!

Nicole ZoltackWoman of Honor, Desert Breeze PublishingOne Touch, One Glance, Freya’s BowerMy blog Facebook Myspace Twitter

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. :)