Wednesday, January 27, 2010

heart-stopping heroes

Lately I've been ruminating on what constitutes a heart-stopping hero. The type of hero that makes it hard for you to put a book down. Being a southern girl, my first hero was Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. I didn't think he was all that handsome (he looked kind of slick to me) but I sure liked his no-nonsense approach with Scarlett. In my college years I fell for Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. He was kind of dark and broody with a passionate streak that made that old book sizzle. And then last year I was smitten with Daniel in Siri Mitchell's Love's Pursuit. This last book is not for the faint hearted and requires lots of Kleenex but Daniel is definitely hero material, at least in my humble opinion.

Sometimes you read a book where the hero is so unappealing you put the book down. I don't think an author's intent is to make a hero wishy-washy, manipulative, or unattractive but it happens. It can happen with heroines, too.

When writing TFD, I ended up with two heroes without planning to do so. Some of you were torn between my two leading men:) As I was. Some sent me mail to that effect. Thank you. I've saved every one!

I think readers and writers are very astute as to what makes a hero sing, so to speak. And I need help coming up with a list of heroic attributes for a little project I'm working on. My mind is profoundly blank on the matter for some reason. Please feel free to be as verbose and gushing as you can be below! Everyone loves a great hero:)

So, what qualities must a hero have? Can you name a hero in a book or movie that was just right? What made him heroic to you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

feels like spring!

I love these little colonial girls. Their clothing is so authentic - pure 18th-century stuff. Even back then girls had way more fun dressing than little boys, although often you often couldn't tell who was who as boys usually wore girlish attire till graduating to more manly breeches. Check out the straw hat and hat pin! Clever way to keep that pretty ribbon in place.

I've spent the weekend working on book 3 while running kids places, fighting a cold, making a huge pot of spaghetti, and walking in the heat wave we're having. It's been the warmest January on record here with some recent days hovering around 60 degrees! Kentucky weather:)

My schedule is getting a bit sweeter with a visit from my Kentucky momma on the horizon. February and March look fun as I'll be guest blogging over at Cathy Bryant's Word Vessel and Seekerville. I promise to post the links when the time comes so you can visit if you like. For now I'm thinking up discussion questions for book clubs for Courting Morrow Little and reading galleys for an author who has asked for endorsements. Never dull here:)

Most importantly, I've been trying to meditate on verses regarding the heart. Since Myrna commented on a particularly moving Scripture in my last post, I've tried to commit it to memory. Here are some translations of Proverbs 4:23:

Above all else guard your heart for it is the treasure of the kingdom.

Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life. KJV

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. The Message Bible

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. NASB

Do you have a verse that is especially meaningful to you? I'd love for you to share it here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I've spent the morning poisoning two of my characters. Not an easy thing to do:) But it's for their ultimate good. I was reading through the manuscript and hit a dull patch and this was just the remedy. I decided to poison them on a whim, fully intending to take the scene out if it didn't work, but it seems to have worked. Oh, those poor people we create! We just heap trouble upon trouble atop them. I'm glad I'm the author instead.

Sometimes it's just plain work to keep that manuscript moving. I tend to want to go off on narrative tangents and internal monologue like this here which can slow the tension and action down mightily and lose readers like you...

Though some, like my beloved friend, Mary Bailey, say they like my more narrative style:) Bless you for that!

Speaking of remedies, I've come up with a solution for my schedule. I'm going to have to cut back on blogging so often. I'll be here a couple of times a week should you miss me. Although considering all the blogs out there you might not:) Just think of me writing furiously behind the scenes which is what I dearly love.

Speaking of wonderful blogs, I've made some new artist friends whose blogs bless me immensely and thought I'd share them here. We've become acquainted through The Frontiersman's Daughter. Laurie is from Texas, Nancy lives in Alabama, and Heather is from Oklahoma. If you take the time to visit, I know you'll be blessed!

Laurie Pace:

Heather/Audrey Eclectic:

Nancy Huggins:

When I see the art of these ladies I'm so thankful God gifts each of us to do something for His glory. And I'm thankful these women reached out to me because of a simple book! Each of them are in the sidebar under my blogs of note so you can get there in a quick click:)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

peaks and valleys of the writing life

This is the view from my backyard - the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. I prefer the Appalachians but we'll save that for another post. These mountains really look ice blue and are every bit as breathtaking as they appear, only sometimes I forget to look! They're very snowy as you can see though we don't have any snow here below right now.

Recently an unpublished friend asked me what it's like being published - what I've learned and what's surprised me over the last year and a half or so. I think I'll call this the peaks and valleys of the writing life. Since I could probably write a book about life before and after publication, I'll just give you a short list. Here goes:

~Having an editor love your book so much that she becomes your book's best friend, and is willing to take it to the editorial team/pub board (not an easy task)
~Being paid for what you've done for free 40 years
~Feeling infatuated with your galleys/page proofs
~Holding your first book in your hands (nothing like a first book!)
~Sensing you're in the center of God's plan for your life, perhaps for the first time in your life
~Getting reader mail
~Traveling to book events and meeting readers and other writers
~Being able to say you're an author when people ask what you do

~Realizing your first book took five or more years to write and the rest must be done in a year or less while you're researching another and proofing yet another
~Spending 3 hours a day answering email and trying to get back to writing
~Finding that not everyone out there loves your book and won't be buying copies for everyone they know for Christmas
~Understanding that publishing is a business
~Having to give up things you've previously spent time on (not your family)
~Realizing that God's call to service requires far more of you than you have to give which just makes you lean more heavily on Him (the realization that you're not Wonder Woman occurs in the valley and then becomes a peak when you understand you're not walking it alone).

So, now that I've listed my personal peaks and vales, are you glad you're not a writer, or if you are one, can you relate to my list?

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of the strength which God supplies: so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11

Friday, January 15, 2010

more books for you

I can't think of a better way to end a week that to tell you about more books. If you have a minute please hop over to Janna Ryan's great book blog and check out her top ten list for historical fiction in 2009. In celebration of that list, Janna and some authors are giving away some wonderful books. If you leave a comment you'll be entered in the drawing which doesn't end till January 24th. I haven't read all the books on Janna's list but they look so interesting and I wanted to tell you.

If anyone more computer savvy than I would like to leave the direct link in the comment section below I'd sure appreciate it! The Top Ten Historical Books post is from Sunday, January 10, 2010. You may see a few dear to your heart - and mine:)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

anxious hearts

I love this painting by John Buxton* of 18th-century frontier women. It captures the anxiety of the times so beautifully. Even the women's clothing is very authentic. You can almost reach out and feel the homespun and linen. The baby is so well drawn she looks real - I'm convinced that she's a she:) I'm wondering what it is they're looking at so intently. Their men are away, maybe in the fields, but most likely doing something far more worrisome by the expression on their faces.

What about you? Have you been beset by anxiety lately? Wondering what the new year will bring? I'm guilty of having an anxious heart at times. More times than I care to count, actually. There are a number of great unknowns in my life right now. Yours too, I'm sure. Just yesterday I found this wonderful passage from the old devotional, Springs in the Valley:

When a man is living on God's plan he has no need to worry himself about his trade, or about his house, or about anything that belongs to him. The only thing a man may be anxious about in this life is whether he is working on God's plan, doing God's work; and if that is so, all the care of everything else is back on God.

Did you notice the unusual wording above? I said that the painting "captures the anxiety of the times so beautifully." Anxiety is not beautiful, doesn't feel beautiful, but it can be beautiful if we give our worries to Him.

If the Lord careth for thee, be thyself at rest. -Archbishop Leighton


Sunday, January 10, 2010

pick a title

A big thank you to all who participated in the book giveaway! It was fun mailing books to Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, and even Canada:) I can hardly wait to do it again come July when I'll be sending out quite a few copies of Courting Morrow Little. So please stay tuned. I might even host another giveaway between now and then.

I'm happily working on my third book and have my first ever critique partner who shall remain a mystery because that's the way I think she'd like it:) I can see the value in having someone else read your writing. Even when you try to be very careful with edits you do overlook things. She's also something of an 18th-century historian in her own right so that doesn't hurt:) When I pen something decidedly 19th-century she calls me on it...or will.

So now that I'm back in Roxanna's world, I need some help coming up with a winning title. If you don't remember I once called her book, The Scrivener's Daughter. Most people probably don't know what a scrivener is (or care). And it sounds a bit dull. Like it might gather dust. And I don't want that! Because a locket figures so prominently in the story, I changed the title to The Locket. That sounds a bit better. Kind of intriguing and old-fashioned. But lately I've been wondering if I shouldn't rename it once again. Third time's a charm, as they say. So I'm now calling it, or at least thinking of it as, The Colonel's Lady.

So if you were to wander into a bookstore and saw two books spine-shelved, which would you pick up based on the title?

The Locket
The Colonel's Lady

Maybe neither? Come on now and be honest and tell me. I'd love to know what's rolling around in that reader brain of yours:)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

things kept, things left behind

I've finished with the galleys for Courting Morrow Little and returned them to my editor. Hope she doesn't gasp at all that red markup! Since I was away from the manuscript for 4 months, I could see a number of changes to make once it was in my lap again. Because I love narrative and readers don't always appreciate it, I added dialogue in crucial places and was always searching for the better word or phrase. Some breeze through the galleys. But I seem to be a galley's slave:)

Now that we've turned the corner on the new year, I've been prayerfully evaluating what worked and didn't in 2009. I have to confess I'm a Twitter, Shoutlife, and Goodreads dropout. But I do manage to keep up with this blog, Facebook, and have just joined a great bunch of reading friends over at Christian Fiction Challenge (

Margaret, the site's founder, has provided a great list of fiction titles coming out this year. One of my favorite reviewers and reading friends, Becky, read over 600 books last year! She reads across the spectrum in both secular and inspirational markets. TFD made her top five list for the latter and her review of it won the award for best blog tour review in Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Thanks, Becky!

I can't help but mention my reading/writing friends who've started 2010 off with a bang:

Lori Benton won the prestigious Novel Matter's Audience With an Agent contest and her manuscript, Kindred, a Genesis winner, is in the hands of Books&Such agent Wendy Lawton!

Carla Gade was asked by two established authors to submit a group proposal for a book contract!

Linda Thomas is finishing galleys and anxiously awaiting the release of her book, Grandmother's Letter's from Africa: Quaint I Ain't!

Lorna Seilstad, fellow Revell author, just received her first ever book cover for Making Waves, due to release October, 2010!

Keli Gwyn received her best Christmas gift ever as she's now represented by top-notch agent Rachelle Gardner for her manuscript, Violets and Violins. This book-to-be has won too many contests to count!

My dear friend and fellow Kentuckian, Ann Gabhart, has finished galleys for The Seeker, due to release July 1!

Do you have any news to celebrate? Make a new year's resolution that is somewhat of an epiphany to you? I'd love to share it here. Let's pledge to pray for one another in the new year. Looks like it's going to be a blessed one.

Monday, January 4, 2010

reader appreciation week!

Our winners of this week's book giveaway are:

1. Monday: Edna - Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot
2. Tuesday: Lori B. - Sarah, My Beloved by Sharlene MacLaren
3. Wednesday: Kav - Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson
4. Thursday: Dana B. - The Choice by Suzanne Fischer
5. Friday: Virginia - Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

If you'll pick a book (see the previous post) and then send me your mailing address at, I'll be happy to send your package out:) Blessings on all who entered!

A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world we cannot enter in any other way. -Caroline Gordon

He that loveth a good book will never want for a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. -Isaac Barrow

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. -Thomas Helm

Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else. -Mark Twain

Friday, January 1, 2010

celebrating books!

I wouldn't be writing if it weren't for my readers and so to celebrate you I'd love to send you one of these titles:) Beginning this coming Monday, January 4, I'll be drawing a name every day for 5 days. The winner each of those days will get to pick their book, though it's better to win on Monday than Friday, as there will only be one book left by week's end! Here are the books:

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson
Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot
Sarah, My Beloved by Sharlene MacLaren
Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

I must admit I haven't read all these books - only one! But they're new 2009 Christian fiction releases and I hope you'll enjoy them. If you'd like to be entered please leave a comment and I'll add you to the hat. Thus far I have these names:

Virginia C, Mary B, Lori B, Kathleen, destrella, Patti, Carla, Nancy Huggins, Adge, Kav, Ashli, Stacey, and Kristen. If you've been entered by accident, please let me know and I'll up the odds of winning for other readers:) On the other hand, if I've overlooked someone, please tell me and I'll be happy to add you!

2010 is upon us with many new releases to choose from. Looking back, which books (other than mine!) did you enjoy most in 2009? Inspirational or otherwise? Fiction or non-fiction? It's a privilege to share and celebrate books!

Miss a meal if you have to, but don't miss a book. -Jim Rohn

You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. -CS Lewis