Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Book Pusher: June

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It's Summertime and the books are here! Go to the beach, mountains, deck, backyard--I'm not picky--and read! ;-)


LAND OF SILENCE Tessa Afshar: Christian Women's Fiction

Like a tapestry, Land of Silence has to be woven from disparate threads. Afshar's talent for weaving Biblical truth and stellar storytelling will leave you breathless. Read it now!

THE HIDEAWAY Lauren K. Denton: Women's Fiction

Family secrets and enduring love, both past and present, are tucked into every room and crevice of The Hideaway. Sara Jenkins must uncover her grandmother Mag's life to find her own life. Wonderful read!


THE SISTERS OF BLUE MOUNTAIN Karen Katchur: Women's Fiction

How many secrets does it take to create an avalanche? Katchur's mystery has as many twists as a mountain road. Great read!

THE DISTANCE HOME Orly Konig: Women's Fiction

Emma Metz must find the path home through loneliness, loss, and rejection, but the destination is all the sweeter once she reaches her safe harbor and destined home.

ELISHEVA: PART I--THE PRICE Michelle Levigne: Christian Women's Fiction

In the tradition of older novel's like The Robe, Levigne's first century residents experience Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Relive this story of life with these vivid characters and find hope in the story that gives life.


A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN Susan Meisner: Women's Fiction

With multiple POVs and timelines, Meisner weaves another spell-binding story with war brides, with their stories of love and resistance, and a present day woman with the gift that ties them together in amazing ways.


Links:
Pansters unite! "The Case for Writing a Story Before You Know How it Ends"

"One Habit Every Writer Needs Right Now" I'm so big on goals--tiny, small, medium, or large--that I help other writers make and keep them at the Community CompuServe Books and Writers Forum. Truly this link will change your writing.

And queries, of course--"How to Immediately Improve Your Query Letter's Effectiveness"

Next post: Insecure Writers Support Group, of course!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June IWSG:

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Insecure Writers Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Co-Hosts:
JH Moncrieff
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Jen Chandler
Megan Morgan
Heather Gardner



June Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Ha! Many times, I've tried to quit when the words stopped coming. When I ran into rejections. When I wearied of the entire run-around that can be seeking representation. 

But, I can't. Try as hard as I have tried to quit at times, I can't shake the feeling that I'm meant to write. And meant to write the stories I've been inspired to write. Here's the thing, I write Inspirational stories. For years, I tried to fool myself that I wrote enough to the ABA side of the market to pick up an agent of that style books, it wasn't meant to be. The last agent I pitched and queried, praised my writing, but called a spade a spade--"your writing leans to the Christian market, and I don't have the contacts to sell it." 

Did that make me want to quit? Not this time. I retooled my thinking, started my hunt for conferences that showcase agents for the Christian market, and I'm in it for the long haul. I'll never doubt this journey isn't path I'm destined to walk. 

Links!

Great Ideas! "13 Ways to Support an Author Without Ever Spending a Dime"

In an general, life affirming way, I offer--"How to Complain Less"--We all need this one.

And another oh, so important one for the care and feeding of writers--"Your Body is as Important as Your Mind"

Next Post: Why the Book Pusher post for June, of course! ;-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Book Pusher: May

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You know you need books for the summer... ;-)


THE TASTE OF AIR Gail Cleare: Women's Fiction

Life is short. Be happy. How long does it take to learn this deceptively simple idea? For Mary Reilly and her daughters it takes a cottage in Vermont.


LOOK LIVE Patricia McLinn: Mystery

With another snappily plotted mystery, McLinn extends her Caught Dead in Wyoming series into high tech and missing sons.



THE SCARLETT THREAD Francine Rivers: Christian Women's Fiction

Good story in an older style. A CBA classic. This is one of the best Christian Women's Fiction title available. Be sure to read with the time it was written in mind. 


UNSTRUNG Laura Spinella: Women's Fiction

This is one of the most amazing books I've read lately. Olivia Klein's life is both haunting and uplifting. I'm amazing and transported as only singing choral music has in my life. Her main character is a symphony violinist, and Spinella describes the feeling of providing the door knob into Heaven that I've experienced singing in a choir. An amazing read. Get this one! Read it now! You'll never forget it.

What are you afraid of? Check out "Time to be Honest About the Fear That's Getting in Your Way".

"How to Embrace Your Strengths--and Flaws--To Find Your Writing Voice" says it all.

By all means, read Chip MacGregor's answers for writers' questions.

Check this one out, too! "Literary Agents Aren't Dead, Part 1"

Next Post: IWSG, of course!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day: My Momma Had Words With Me

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Momma with my siblings and me
I do post this every year, but this year it's even more special. On April 29, I was honored to read "My Momma Had Words With Me" at Atlanta's Listen To Your Mother show.

Momma, I love you and honor your gift of the love of reading. And always will.
My Momma Had Words with Me


            I don’t know if it’s true anywhere else, but in the South, to “have words with” someone means to fuss, argue, or reprimand. My momma had another purpose for having words with me, for me, and around me. We didn’t discuss why people read or why it was important. My siblings and I just read. The power, magic, and glory of words surrounded us. No lectures were needed. No punishment was forthcoming to make us read. It was second nature to read. After all, our parents read in front of us every day. Momma focused on fiction while Daddy read the newspaper, biographies, and his professional journals.
So, it was all Momma’s fault that my father-in-law was shocked when my daddy built bookshelves that covered half the walls in our study from the floor to ten-foot ceiling. With wide eyes, he said, “No one has that many books!”
            My husband shrugged. “She does. Everyone in her family does.” He knew there would be no wasted space in our study.
            It was Momma’s fault that we take delight in words. She gave us no choice in the matter. From the time we were toddlers, we all had library cards and joined the summer reading program at the regional library branch in our home town. Every week, we checked out five books. All the librarians knew us by name.
How do you feed a growing reading habit? Momma knew. She made sure there were books to read that challenged us. She made reading more books fun and expected. When our abilities to read outstripped our ages and we needed bigger, more complex books, Momma checked out adult books for us on her own library card. As the school librarian at my elementary school, she found harder and harder books for me to read when I had read everything at the lower levels. I clearly remember reading Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson in the fifth grade. It was my first adult novel and I’ll never forget holding the large book and being carried away into the Southwest by the words.
In time, my siblings and I found our own preferred genres. When given a list of three hundred books for college-bound students in the 1960’s, we attacked it from different angles. The fact that the complete works of Shakespeare and the great Greek historians were available in our home, made it easy to get started. My sister loves literature. My brother has a taste for biography, science, history, and true life adventure books. I read history, fiction of all types, and poetry.
            As voracious readers, we are the people who keep bookstores—large, small and online—in business. We are the people who always have up-to-date library cards. Our to-be-read lists of new books and old favorites are extensive. None of us is bored as long as there is something to read. And that isn’t likely to happen if we live a thousand years.
            It’s Momma’s fault that there is a longstanding family joke about the end of civilization. If an asteroid or other near extinction event occurred, our combined libraries would form the basis for restarting science, math, history, and literature. We could quickly raise man’s knowledge back to its former heights.
            The majesty and beauty of the words I grew up with created the desire to shape and form my own stories, to create new adventures, new people to meet, and new places to go. Momma encouraged me. She kept the poetry I wrote as an eight-year-old. Her simple acceptance made no obstacle insurmountable. Her faith that I could do anything I wanted allowed me to experiment and try different styles. She not only taught me to love words, but the persistence it takes to shape, order, and arrange them in coherent ways. When she gave me the love of words, she gave me the tools to accomplish what I desired to do. She gave me the ability to tell stories that soothe hurts, inspire challenges, and entertain. My mother gave me life—physically, mentally, and emotionally. She gave me dreams and encouraged me to strive to reach for them. My mother gave me words to share and the persistence to achieve the dream of being a writer. She still encourages me to write and inspires me with her own voracious reading.
            Thank you, Momma, for having words with me. I love you.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: May

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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Co-Hosts:
Michelle Wallace
Nancy Gideon
Tamara Narayan
Liesbet @ Roaming About

Feather Stone

Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Short Answer: Everything! ;-)

Long Answer:  Since I write contemporary Women's Fiction, the adjectives "weirdest" and "coolest" doesn't mean the same as I think it would to a writer of SF or Fantasy. My research is grounded in the reality of families. The saddest, most unforgettable, and important thing I've researched so far is the foster care system--both nationwide and in Georgia in particular. My stats are for back in 2006-2010, but there were 854 case workers over fourteen thousand children in foster care and under the watch of the Department of Family and Children Services.

As one of my characters says:
“When home becomes a war zone, the first casualties are the children.”

And: “Consider just one form of abuse—sexual. One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused during their childhood, and only one in ten will tell someone about it."

There you have it. The sad state of our abused children and the families that need help. It's one of the reasons for my first WIP--MOTHER'S DAY--to show the need and the scope of the problem. It's a huge topic, but when you get to the nitty-gritty, it's about the children in the cracks.

So, you can see what research means to me. I'm a retired teacher, and I was a trained mandated reporter. I taught the children of the foster care system and the abused. I still worry about the ones in the system today.

It's research that makes that come alive in my story, and research that causes others to get involved in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), as foster parents, or working to offer respite for the caregivers.


Next Post: A special return of my essay, "My Momma Had Words With Me." On Saturday, April 29, I was honored to be included in a cast of eleven marvelous women in the Atlanta Listen to Your Mother 2017 show. Check out my cast spotlight. We share essays of and about motherhood. It was a fabulous show!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Book Pusher: April Mini Book Reviews

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THINGS LEFT UNSPOKEN Eva Marie Everson: Christian Women's Fiction

With a fabulous mystery wrapped in a mystery, Things Left Unspoken dives deep into Southern stories and history and what it means to grow from twisted roots, but become straight and true. A must read! You won't be sorry.


SAILING OUT OF DARKNESS Normandie Fischer:  Christian Women's Fiction with elements of Romance

Normadie Fischer is a wonderful writer. I love all the storylines--Sam, Teo, Jack, and India. (I would never have guessed the storyline for India and Jack!) She did a great job of portraying depression. Be sure to read BECALMED and all her Carolina Coast stories.


THE ART OF LOSING YOURSELF Katie Ganshert: Christian Women's Fiction

A stirring story of faith and what it takes to survive lifts The Art of Losing Yourself. How dry do your bones have to get when your hopes and dreams are denied before you ask for help? Carmen Hart and her half-sister Gracie Fisher are taken to their last step in this lovely story.


THEY ALMOST ALWAYS COME HOME Cynthia Ruchti: Christian Women's Fiction

They Almost Always Come Home is a stirring story of faith and what it takes to survive. Libby and Greg Holmes must journey through grief and marital estrangement to find their lives again.

Links: (You know I'll have some.)

Glennon Doyle Melton has two words for writers: Faith and Sweat. I like that.

Listen To Your Mother/Atlanta will be at 2:00 PM at the Act3 Theatre, in Sandy Springs, GA on April 29. Come one, come all!!! Psst: I'll be reading my essay "My Momma Had Words With Me." ;-)

And check this out! I'm the first cast member who was under the spotlight for the Atlanta Listen To Your Mother April 29.


Next Post: IWSG!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG: April

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Insecure Writers Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Co-Hosts:
Christopher D. Votey
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Fundy Blue
Chrys Fey




Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

Ut oh... No, but there's a reason for that. Something about my overused excuse--health. See, I've never even attempted the A to Z Challenge. I know my limits and I know I can't even think of that many posts in one month or even a theme. Add that I don't have a book to market, and you have a hive of reasons for not even being a member of that challenge.

Okay. Okay. I know your wondering what's keeping me in the IWSG? I know I'm not good at visiting around. That makes me sorry at supporting all of the rest of you. I can only blame my lack of focus and energy. I'll try to do better.

But, I do have some stellar links for you this month. :-)

Great link: Check out Jennifer Johnson-Blalock's "Six Tips for Sending a Requested Manuscript."

And "STORY GENIUS--for Pantsers."

And one more! "How to Write a Novel".

I couldn't leave this out--"Writer Guilt vs. Writer Shame."

And one more--I'm on a roll--Nathan Bransford offers another good post of queries--"Summarizing Through Specificity"

Next Post: April's Book Pusher Mini Reviews, of course!
(Psst! I might not be very good at other things, but I am good at pushing books.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Book Pusher's March Mini Book Reviews

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THE FIREBIRD Susanna Kearsley: Historical Romance

After reading Winter Sea, read The Firebird! You won't be sorry you did. Kearsley's remarkable talent from knitting together history and fiction continues in this story. Anna's story is framed by Nikola's will break, mend, and win you heart.


ANOTHER PLACE ON THE PLANET T. A. Munroe: Women's Fiction with elements of Romance

With a great story and beautiful characterization, T. A. Munroe takes Lily and Charlie through their emotional tale to a satisfying resolution. (subject notice: sex addiction)


ONE TRUE THING Anna Quindlen: Literary Fiction

This story of a terminally ill woman and her family will challenge your heart, your brain, and you ability to forgive. Beautiful language throughout the story.


ALL MY BELONINGS Cynthia Ruchti: Christian Women's Fiction

All My Belongings is a deeply rich story of forgiveness and love. You'll never forget Becca and Isaac or their story of finding a living faith. Some would label this a romance and miss the deep truths tucked into the lives of two enduring characters.

Why I'm hunting an agent is explained so well in this post. Check out Vitoria Strauss's Why a Writer Need a Literary Agent.
And Elizabeth Evan's "Literary Agent Tells All: 5 Things You Don’t Know About Book Publishing."

Next post: Insecure Writers Support Group

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG: March

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Insecure Writers Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Our Co-Sponsor's this month are:
Tamara Narayan
Patsy Collins
M.J. Fifield
Nicohle Christopherson


MARCH IWSG QUESTION:
Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Short Answer:
Not yet.

Long Answer:
I know you're smiling right now. Or is it scratching your head? The short answer says so much, doesn't it? Truly, I haven't gone back, but I have thought about it. My older WIP is SF or possibly Fantasy, depending on how I set it up. I envisioned it as SF, but I'm a bit stuck on how to tie in the science part. Something about being a trained historian I guess.

What happened to that WIP was a dream. I kid you not. I woke from a nap nine years ago with the first scene of the WIP I'm now seeking representation for. The scary thing was that it's Women's Fiction, a genre that was very much in flux at that time. Once I heard about the Women's Fiction Writers Association that was in the planning stages at that point. Once I investigated the genre, I found a home for my contemporary story. And a group that felt like family. The funny thing is that my old WIP would fit under the WF umbrella. How's that for serendipity? If I ever finish my planned four contemporary WF WIPs, I might have to go back and try the old one again. That is if I learn some out of this world science before then. ;-)

Bonus Link:
Writers Unboxed has an intriguing post you should read about What Fiction Trends Say About Us. Check it out!

And an announcement!
My essay--"My Momma Had Words With Me"--will be part of the April 29th LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER/Atlanta show. I'll be reading it on stage. I'm ecstatic about it. :-D

Next Post:
The ever-popular Book Pusher has more mini book reviews for you. Of course. ;-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Book Pusher: February Mini Book Reviews

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THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES Travis Erwin: Fictionalized Memoir

With a wry, perfectly pitched voice, Erwin entertains with a fictionalized memoir that opens a window into the adolescent male mind. Venture in if you want a rollicking read.


THE FIERY CROSS Diana Gabaldon: Historical fiction with a touch of time travel

In Diana Gabaldon's fifth Outlander Series book, she continues to weave history with fiction with her amazing skill. Her spellbinding story of Jamie, Claire and their family will keep you reading late into the night.


THE WINTER SEA Susanna Kearsley: Historical Romance

 All of Kearsley's considerable skill has brought both the contemporary and historical stories to vivid life. The twist at the end will leave you breathless and cheering. (Be sure to read before The Firebird.)


SWEET SOUTHERN HEARTS Susan Schild: Women's Fiction

As always, Schild has concocted a raucous ride in Willow Hill with babies, adventurous ladies, and more besides. Her third Willow Hill story is as sweet and sassy as only Southern women can be.

Here's some sources of great Women's Fiction, the genre I love so much:

WFWA Goodreads shelf

WF Writers Association Pinterest Boards

By the way, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

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Insecure Writers Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Our Co-Sponsor's this month are:
Misha Gericke
LK Hill
Juneta Key
Joylene Buter




How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Short Answer: It's changed how I read every word.

Long Answer: Truly, I look at all the word choices, the structure, the themes, the plotting, etc. But more than all of that, I have to say, the first and most important thing I read for is characterization. If the characters don't ring true, act like real people, I don't review the book. Learning how to create characters is key for writers.

Creating relatable characters is a key skill. What's your favorite tip?

Edited to add: Finally, I feel well enough to actually be back in the swing of IWSG and promoting our mutual blog hop. It's been a long winter already. Let's just say, I'm happy to be back among the community. Let's rock the words we need to write, y'all!


Might be John and I a few (a lot) of years and added pounds ago.
Next Time: January's Mini Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Book Pusher: January Mini Book Reviews

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Truth!


THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE Donna Everhart: Women's Fiction

This coming of age story will stick with you long after you finish it. Dixie's story is all too real, but we have to face it to change it.



THE SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS Amy Impellizzeri: Women's Fiction

With it's tour of heart, love, remembrance, and forgiveness, Impellizzeri's second book is a worthy successor to Lemongrass Hope. Lu and Mari Roselli's story, bookended by tragedy, is one of love and hope. Must Read!


ALL THE BREAKING WAVES Kerry Lonsdale: Women's Fiction

Love, magic, concern, and joy--all the emotions of life combine in Lonsdale's second book to create a family you have to cheer on in the darkest times.


FOREVER BEACH Shelley Noble: Women's Fiction

By championing those involved with protecting the children at risk in the child protection system, Noble provides a marvelous story that will warm your heart.


A PINCH OF OOH LA LA Renee Swindle: Women's Fiction

Here's a savvy and sassy story of a women learning what matters and what doesn't. A good read you don't want to miss.


A few links:
Find you inner fire with Jamie Raintree's What Lights A Fire Under You.

Figure out what "demotivates" you with Charlie Gilkey.

For when life's got you down, Cathy Yardley has your ticket.

See you in a couple of weeks! ;-)
Creative Market

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Insecure Writers Support Group

Our Co-Sponsor's this month are:
Eva @ Lillicasplace,
Crystal Collier,
Sheena-kay Graham 
Chemist Ken,
LG Keltner,
and Heather Gardner





January's Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Short Answer:
Write what you know.

Long Answer:
Write what you know.
Come on! Get real! What about imagination? Research? Shouldn't that dictum be--Write what you can learn, imagine, create? Truly there's much more in this world than just what we've experienced and know. Why limit ourselves to what we know? How boring would that be? Truly, what sort of interesting story would come from just my experiences of growing up in an intact, middle class, happy family? Or finding my nearly forty-year long marriage partner in a class at college? Truly, my imagination can take the stories of my students from my twenty-five year career as a high school history and Latin teacher and create much more interesting stories. So, I'll stick to "Write what you can imagine, research, or learn."

Write on!

Tag Lines:
I have a working tagline at the top of my blog. I have no clue how effective it is, but it does tie all my various Women's Fiction WIPs together (and my long unfinished SF, too). "Hope Comes Home" is my short description of my stories. All the angst that lives in our hearts and the negatives we get from the outside can be alleviated by turning in toward what matters most--home. What do you think?

If you have an opinion, give me some feedback. Thanks!

With the month of January, I'll be starting twice-monthly posts. I need time to work on my WIPs. I'll still have one post dedicated to my Book Pusher Mini Book Reviews. The other will be the Insecure Writers Support Group. Both posts will include a variety of other things, like my question about my tagline, or good links I've found. I'll see you in two weeks with five more good books for you to consider. ;-)


Think Spring!