Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meet the Faces Behind the Book

I'm looking forward to April 11th. I'll be one of 59 Colorado authors who will gather at the Englewood Public Library that day to participate in their annual "Meet the Faces Behind the Books" program.

The event will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 at the library located on the ground floor of the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Pkwy., Englewood. Admission is free.

I'm delighted to meet local book lovers and 58 other Colorado authors. This will be the 10th year that the library has hosted the gathering.

If you're in the area, stop in. I'd love to meet you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy (Snowy) Spring Day

Yes, despite the nearly one foot of snow we received overnight, I believe that spring-like weather really will appear in Colorado.

This morning I awoke to this beautiful scene.

By early afternoon the snow had melted off the streets and sidewalks and the sky was brilliant blue.

I've seen some evidence of spring--my tulips are shooting up and I've been hearing robins singing. If you look in the upper left of the top photo, you'll see a robin sitting there.

He looked so patient, I had to take another picture of him. Look at him, all puffed up and patiently awaiting the greening of spring.

Now, if I could only learn some of his patience . . .

Friday, March 19, 2010

Snow on Tulips and God's Gifts

It seems fitting that on the last day of winter we get snow.

The past few days have been lovely -- warm and sunny. People have been breaking out their sandals and wearing T-shirts without jackets around here.

I've been delighted to see my tulips pushing through winter's barrier. I noticed them springing from the rock-clad earth in their emerald majesty, asserting their desire to grow and bloom. But now they've hit a snag, or so it seems. The cold and the snow has cloaked them in a chill that will temporarily suspend their growth.

Life can be like that, and sometimes we can feel a bit like those tulips. Things are clipping along, we're accomplishing what we need, and then we're emotionally or spiritually covered in a dusting of snow.

Perhaps the path we'd been on seems troublesome to follow. It's not difficult to assume all is lost, our goals are slipping from our grasp.

But for the tulips, the late-winter snow is a blessing. My dad used to call a late snowfall poor-man's fertilizer. Turns out that expression is more than folklore. Snow has nutrients and, of course, moisture. What seems like a hindrance is actually beneficial. Snow that falls on thawed earth penetrates into the soil, delivering nutrients and moisture that promote growth and health.

So if you feel like you've been stuck or hindered by the unpredicted, don't stress. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 (The Message)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day today and 1977

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I have a confession to make. Despite being of (mostly) Irish heritage, I’ve never willingly eaten corned beef and cabbage. You can be sure it won’t be served at my house tonight.

I got sentimental today and went in search of some old, old, old photos. They were taken 3/17/1977 in Plattsburgh, NY. It was my last semester of college at SUNY Plattsburgh. A girlfriend and I who were in a photography class together decided to grab our cameras and chronicle the craziness that was St. Patrick’s Day.

The first photo is one my friend took. If you look on the left-hand side you'll see me with my camera.

Believe it or not, I still own that denim jacket I was wearing. I bought it when I was in high school.

The next photo is the one I was taking. That's a lot of happy people. Of course the alcohol could have had something to do with their disposition.

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
~Irish Blessing

Go mbeannai Dia duit
(May God Bless You)

Monday, March 15, 2010


I'm feeling somewhat random today. My thoughts, though they most certainly should be aimed in a few particular directions, seem to be pinging around in a most random way.

Here’s a sample:

It snowed last night, not enough to impact traffic, but just enough to leave a pretty dusting over my corner of the world.

Why do the clocks change on Saturday nights when we switch back and forth from daylight savings time? Everyone seems tired today. Wouldn’t it make more sense to change the time early Saturday morning instead of Sunday?

This is my view from my desk many times during the day.

If a bunny or a dog or a kid on a skateboard dares to go by my house, I’m the second to know.

Why does the sound of a ticking clock have two opposite effects depending on the mood of the hearer? Some days the tick, tick, tick is comforting—cozy even. Of course other days when deadlines rule it reminds me that time is slipping away like snowmelt through the gutter that sits alongside my office window, which also tick, tick, ticks—but not in such an orderly fashion.

So, what’s going through your mind today?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Words For The Journey Annual Writing Contest!

It's time for the WFTJ annual writing contest!

Dying to see your book on a bookstore shelf? Now’s the time to polish both your idea and craft by entering our Spring 2010 non-fiction contest.

Submit Back Cover Copy and a related Query Letter for the book idea you’ve long pondered. Your back cover copy should be no more than 175 words, and should be on a separate sheet from your query letter. And your query letter—one page, 12 pt. Times New Roman—should be addressed to a publisher who may be interested in your material. So you have a little research to do.

The cool thing about this contest? You’ll be prepared to use your entry after the contest to submit to agents and editors.

The contest is open to writers in the Denver, CO area and The Woodlands, TX area.

First Place from each region will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Second Place will each receive a copy of Polishing the Pugs, by Kathy Ide. Third Place will each receive $10 gift certificates to enjoy Starbucks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fiction in Real Life #3 (Searching for Spice)

Like most authors, bits and pieces of my reality find their way into my fiction. Today I’m going to share a beautiful asset of my neighborhood, the Cherry Creek Trail. This past Sunday I took my first walk of the year on the trail (it’s been cold, okay?).

This photo is of the Cherry Creek Trail that is the setting for Linda’s walk on page 290 of Searching for Spice. The creek is on the right, beside the brush shrubs/trees.

The Cherry Creek Trail runs alongside the Cherry Creek (duh) which flows north for 64 miles until it reaches the South Platte River in downtown Denver.

The next photo is of the view from the trail, not very far from where the first photo was taken.

Can you see Linda and Belle walking out there in God's beautiful nature?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Comparing books/writing styles

I’m applying to participate in the Sharp Writer Boot Camp with editor Shannon Marchese while I'm attending the CCWC this May, and one of the application questions has me a bit stumped. If you've read my books I'd appreciate any help you can give me. I need your advice.

The question is, “List two published authors, either general or Christian market, that you believe compare to your writing style or content in some way.” The answer is supposed to be phrased similar to, “I believe my novels will appeal to readers of XX because . . .”

Anyone want to toss out a novelist’s name whose work compares to my novels? Anyone, anyone . . . Bueller?

Writers Conferences

If you're a writer, or want to be one, are you going to writers conferences? I think attending conferences are incredibly helpful in your writing journey. I know it's a hit to your budget, but if you consider it a business expense it softens the blow.

I've enjoyed going to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) yearly conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC), and will return this summer to the Writers' Workshop at Glen Eyrie. Last weekend I attended a great one-day conference in Colorado Springs.

The information, encouragement, and friendships you get from conferences are worth the cost. If you're serious about your commitment to writing you should figure out a way to add the cost of attending a writers conference to your budget. Most conferences have scholarships or you can offer to work at some conferences in exchange for tuition assistance.

In a few months I'll be off to the CCWC, May 12-15 in beautiful Estes Park. Are you going?

CCWC was the first writers conference I attended. It was a big step for me, acknowledging that I was indeed pursuing publishing and making the efforts necessary to learn about the craft and the industry. That was in 2001.

I’m excited to share that I’m also teaching an Early Bird Workshop at CCWC on Creating Convincing Characters. CCWC is a great conference with workshops, clinics, continuing sessions, panels, and valuable time spent with authors, literary agents, and editors.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Writers are Like Angora Sweaters

Every Tuesday I meet with my WFTJ writers. Yesterday was no exception. I just love those people.

Today I realized that writers groups are like angora sweaters. Being a part of a writers group and spending time with writers is a soft, warm, comfy place. Creative people who put themselves on the line every time someone reads their work can tend to be emotional. And insecure. But when you're in a writers group like WFTJ it's all good.

You can lay it on the line at WFTJ and not be dismissed or ignored.

Today one of our writers showed us her heart for her craft and her Lord. It was sweet. There were tears and encouragement and acceptance. Wonderful. We wrapped her in soothing warmth and security. More than that, she modeled an attitude that should be followed. She showed us that hope is an active pursuit and desperation need not be a part of the journey.

I also had the fun to share about a new author I've read. Leanna Ellis has sold more than a million novels, but Once in a Blue Moon is the first book of her's that I've read.

Once in a Blue Moon had several of the elements I enjoy in a good book: a quirky, flawed character, a romantic interest, and an intriguing story.
Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died--the same day that the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Continue reading my review. . .

Monday, March 01, 2010

Peak Writers Conference

I spent Saturday in Colorado Springs at the 2nd Annual Peak Writing Conference, hosted by the Springs ACFW chapter, WWW. Next year the conference will be moved from the last Saturday in February to the first Saturday. For info on the conference go here and select "events" from the nav bar.

Above is literary agent Rachelle Gardner, author/editor Erin Healy, and author Colleen Coble.

It was money well spent. The conference was divided into three segments: Rachelle Gardner spoke on grabbing an agent's attention from the very first line, Erin Healy spoke about self editing, and Colleen Coble discussed the joy of revisions. We learned so much, my brain was in overdrive. I got so many great ideas for my current story during the sessions that I had to jot down notes of "add this" and "change that" on the handouts.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love spending time with other writers. I think associations with colleagues is what kept me in the game until I got my contract. There's a special energy in the air when you're with creative people who are enthusiastic about their craft. I was happy that some of my Words For The Journey writers also attended the conference.

From left to right are Danica, Diane, a lovely writer I did't meet, and Helen.

The organizers said attendance doubled from last years (there were about 50 writers there yesterday), and they expect that trend to continue. One of next year's speakers will be author/editor Karen Ball.

If you're a writer or an aspiring writer, put aside money to attend conferences. They don't have to cost thousands of dollars for you to get great information and advice. This one cost less than $100 and included lunch and snacks.