Saturday, December 30, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Terry Whalin

This guy is always full of helpful information for writers.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wisdom of Old

Now this was a wise man! :)

"Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. It is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits."-Baron Justus von Liebig (1803-1873) German chemist

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sue Dent's Never Ceese

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue Dent was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Ridgeland. When not writing, Sue designs websites and works with digital photograpy.Sue loves to hear from her fans through her Website in fact, the push from eager readers has already set the ball rolling, and she's hard at work on Forever Richard, the sequel.In Never Ceese, Sue sets out to prove that faith and fun can live happily in the same story, and that vampire/werewolf fantasy can have a spiritual message too.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.

The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!
Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.

Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.

This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!

Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel man?

There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...

A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other no so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, to speak to the heart as well as entertain.

The Never Ceese book link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1599580179
Sue Den't website: http://www.neverceese.com/

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Best Interview

This is one of the best interviews I've read in a while.

Interview with Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong was the 2005 winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award.
Her novel, The Defilers is a suspenseful tale of intrigue, spiritual warefare and the sexual exploitation of children.

I asked Deb a few questions recently and these are her answers -

What was the germ of the Defilers? Where did the idea come from?

I’m not sure exactly where the ideas came from, since I started it more than ten years ago. I knew I wanted to write a redemption story that would show a character going from being anti-religious to discovering a deep faith in God. Because I had had such a dramatic adult conversion, I hoped to borrow on that experience. At the same time, I did not want to write anything autobiographical, so I created the main character with a personality as opposite to mine as I could make it. I made Linda organized, regimented almost, and practical when I’m just the opposite. Why I chose to make her a Mountie, I’m not sure. I did want to wrap the redemption story in a suspense/murder mystery to make it a popular novel that would make the reader turn pages even if they weren’t all that interested in Linda’s anguished coming to faith. That part interested me the most, but I knew other readers might be more interested in a gripping plot, so I tried to do both.

I also wanted Linda to have to grapple with demonic, or supernatural evil elements because my conversion also involved them. I came to Christ while alone on a bad drug trip in a drug dealer’s apartment back in 1973. It was a terrifying experience where I became aware of an intense evil surrounding me and trying to drive me insane. I was hallucinating wraithlike shapes in my peripheral vision, and at one point, while I was watching TV, a man dressed like the devil seemed to be staring at me from the set with eyes full of hatred and spite. Then he seemed to leap out of the TV at me. I was literally quaking with fear when I shut the set off. Then I happened to find a book written by a Christian stuck under a box of marijuana seeds and stems and a stack of newspapers that laid out the Gospel and led me to Christ. When I came to a part in the book that said, “Be still and know that I am God,” I knew I was being asked to trust God to save me---mouthing a faith formula was not enough---so I forced myself to be still and stop struggling against the evil in the room and let God save me. It was amazing how quickly He intervened when I “let go and let God.” The evil vanished. This experience and subsequent experience reading Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker and attending a course based on his Steps to Freedom showed me how believing the truth about Jesus and about the new nature He has given us gives us authority over these evil forces that can play a subtle but tremendously damaging role in our lives. I wanted to show through a gripping story someone who not only had to deal with a murder investigation, but also an internal spiritual warfare, but show in the end that God can bring us victory over these forces. I hoped to weave into the story some of these wonderful discoveries about God’s protection and might in the face of these forces. I also wanted to investigate that mysterious line between our being physical beings and spiritual beings in one---so that sometimes it is hard to tell when something might be a chemical imbalance in the brain, or a nervous breakdown and when there might be demonic involvement. It’s not all cut and dried and it’s easy to swing to extremes. I wanted to explore that edge through Linda’s character. When I started writing the novel, there were a number of stories in the news media about Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) and some stories about people who had been falsely accused of this. This was another thing that I had big reservations about that I wanted to explore---because again people can go to extremes and get hysterical about seeing demons and cults everyone---or they can sweep any awareness of evil under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist.

The community of South Dare in The Defilers is a heart of darkness metaphor, but it was based on some terrible housing conditions I came across in parts of Nova Scotia and wrote about as a journalist. None of the communities I visited were anywhere near as large as South Dare, but I borrowed on what I saw and experienced and learned about some of the lifestyles of people living there. I also used to cover court cases occasionally in Nova Scotia, so that gave me some insight into how the police worked and what kinds of people went through the criminal justice system.

What was your favourite part of the process of writing it?

My favorite times happened when I got lost in the story and saw the characters doing things and saying things and all I had to do was take dictation. I made myself write the story first and did some research later. One of the most fun parts was actually riding along with Mounties and asking them all kinds of questions like whether they can throw their slacks in the washing machine or if they have to go to the dry cleaners or what they do with their gun on off hours. I spent a day with a female Mountie who took me on an arrest with her. She also helped me with a plot point where I had painted myself into a corner. She read a manuscript later on and told me that I captured well what it was like to be a female “member.”

What was your least favourite part? What were the frustrations?

My least favorite part was the endless rewriting and polishing. I think I took on some ambitious things that I did not have the writerly skill to carry off. For instance, the novel is told in the first person, but Linda is an unreliable narrator. That’s not easy to do. Also, Linda is very angry when the books starts out and I had to work very hard through several drafts to make her sympathetic. It took years and a lot of trial and error and many critiques to develop the necessary skills. I had to overcome some things that are good for journalism but not so good for fiction. Fiction is really hard! There were many times where I gave up on the manuscript and set it aside. Then something would happen—someone would ask to read it and encourage me to get it published---and I’d dig it out and go through it again.

As winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2005, what effect has that had on your perception of yourself as a writer?

It’s a wonderful thing to win---as you know! But my perception of myself as a writer tends to swing from one extreme to another and the award hasn’t changed that. Sometimes I have a grandiose view that I’m better than I am and it’s about time I got recognized, and other times I think my stuff is pretty ordinary and I’m just terribly lucky to be in print at all. I think all of us have those extremes. When I’m in the first stages of writing I am usually in love with my material and not an especially good judge of whether it’s any good or not. I think it’s all wonderful. Then when I have to put on my editor’s hat, all I see are flaws and I think it’s awful.

Did winning the award help in promotion and sales?

Winning helps in the sense that it’s newsworthy to win, and consequently a number of publications carried stories about the win. How well that translates into sales, I don’t know. The award does raise your profile a bit and might help attract people to examine the cover. But the best help in sales are the positive word of mouth of readers who enjoyed your book and tell a friend and that takes time to build. I am hoping now to get some book clubs interested in the book. I visit my first book club in January. Also, I’m on 100 Huntley Street on Jan. 4. They don’t do fiction, per se, but are more interested in personal testimony that shows God’s grace and power.

What has God taught you through the process of writing this book?

He has continually been teaching me to trust Him in the process, to relinquish and let go my concerns and worries about results—whether it was getting published, getting people at my book launch, or getting publicity and sales. I have not been one of those people with a huge passion to write, who would starve in an attic because I just had to get this work of art out of me. Especially after I had rewritten the thing about ten times or more, the motivation to continue was much more subtle and gentle. I needed a lot of encouragement and support along the way. He provided it. If it had been up to me I would have given up and just chalked it up as an interesting experience that allowed me to give some copies bound at Staples with those spiral plastic bindings to my relatives for Christmas one year. He’s taught me that I can’t make an idol out of any result and that when I lose sight of having Jesus has my main desire and focus of my life, I lose my peace and then I’m no good to myself or anyone else.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

I’d advise them to join an association like Inscribe or The Word Guild, or the American Christian Fiction Writers, to attend conferences, read lots of books about writing, to be a reader of good stories especially in the genre you aspire to write in, and to find some good critique partners that can help them grow. I would advise them to keep writing, to make a discipline of writing regularly. I would advise that them develop a thick skin and learn to take rejection in stride and not take it personally when someone picks apart their work. I would also recommend that them to be patient with themselves. They would not expect to sit down at the piano and be playing four part Bach Fugues within two weeks. It takes time and practice to write well. It took me more than ten years from the start of The Defilers to it publication. I had also spent a few years prior to that learning about writing and had written several drafts of a screenplay. Even though I was writing for a living as part of my duties as a TV producer, I still had lots to learn about writing fiction.

Some of the best advice I received along the way was to learn to enjoy writing as an end in itself, for the way it helps you see the world better, for how it helps you understand more clearly what God is showing you about life. I think Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird does a great job in giving that kind of advice. Just as someone can enjoy playing the piano in church, or simply alone at home on a wintry afternoon, we can also write for the sheer pleasure of it. Aiming to get published, or sell books can rob us of that joy if we are not careful.

To Purchase a copy of Deborah's book go to Chapters.ca or Amazon.com

http://www.deborahgyapong.com/
http://www.thedefilers.ca/

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Anthologies

Here's a link to a blog that's talking about anthologies and links to a site that lists them plus calls for submission.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Angela talks about Christian Fiction

Check out this link for a speach on Christian Fiction - some interesting comments there too.
And this one for part two.
:)M

Monday, November 20, 2006

Calm, Cool and Adjusted

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.
Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.

Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.
The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.

It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.

The book link again.
Kristin's website link again.

:)M

Friday, November 17, 2006

Praise from my editor

An update on One Smooth Stone - my editor, Janet Dimond called today to tell me she has finished the edit and will be sending the ms. back to Larry Willard at Castle Quay Books next week, after a final read. I was thrilled when she said, "This is one of the cleanest manuscripts I've ever worked on! I really enjoyed the read." Now I'm looking forward to getting at it, making the changes (Janet says they are few), and then we're away to the races! I guess you can tell I'm a little excited. :)M

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rene Gutteridge

Blogging for Rene today - her website is here

Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers.

She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).
She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.

Scoop, is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.

Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social norms...like not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.

Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Blog for Inscribers

We've set up a new blog for the work of members of ICWF. check it out at this address. :)M

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lisa Samson

Good interview with Lisa Samson here.
:)M

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New contest

Go to the faithinfiction blog to read details on the new contest sponsored by Dave Long at Bethany House. A great opportunity! :)M

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Bible Experience

This looks very cool!
:)M

Starting to Roll

Just had a note from my editor - she has gone over the ms. once and will be giving it a second read this week. So things will start to roll soon. I'm anxious to get at it.
I wasn't happy with the opening of the book, so wrote a new one and sent it to the editor. She really liked it, which makes me think we'll be on the same wavelength when we get going.
:)M

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cool Artwork

There's some cool artwork here. I especially like Ed Tuttle's work.
:)M

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Karen Kingsbury

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Like Dandelion Dust.

About the Author: USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

About the Book:
A PEACEFUL TOWN...
AN IDYLLIC FAMILY...
A PHONE CALL THAT THREATENS THEM ALL.Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start lifeover with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.)

When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separatee love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.
Review by Mimi Pearson

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

John's Monday at Barnes and Noble

I really liked this post - By John Piper October 11, 2006 - he says some important things about what story is, or should be - and is not, or ought not be. And I love the fact that he so readily gives permission to reprint and distribute all of his material.
Enjoy :)Marcia

A trip to Barnes & Noble on my day off takes me beyond the Star Tribune and NPR in my daily culture dose of postmodern pronouncements. Consider Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf, 2006). It is ranked as the fourteenth best seller in the nation at Amazon as I write (just behind Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion). It begins like this:

Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.

Later he says that not believing that man evolved from lower life forms is like not believing the sun is a star. Our nation is being overrun with anti-intellectual people who scoff at true science. The Intelligent Design movement is a scheme to replace science with religion by people who get PhDs to provide a cloak of respectability for their anti-science agenda. And so on.

What makes Harris’ book postmodern and not simply modern is that it treats Christian “fantasies” not merely as rational errors, but as dangerous cultural and political power plays. I have no desire to scoff at this book. There is too much right-wing, radio-show-type Christian scoffing. Besides, I am old enough to be Sam Harris’ father (I was twenty-one when he was born), and that makes me want to rescue a son, not skewer a peer.

Of course, he thinks I am the one who needs to be rescued. My concern for us evangelicals is not that we bash Harris but that we try not to give the impression that we fear science, and that we make clear that we want Sam Harris to have the freedom to say false things about us.

So my dip into Harris’ book was good for me. I may even read more. I don’t fear it. I wish he didn’t fear us. God, he should fear. But I will do all I can to keep my fellow Christians from playing God. As long as Christ’s kingdom comes not by the sword but by the Spirit and the Truth, I will resist the unholy union of conscientious church and coercive state. I stand with those who believe that Christ is the best foundation for a view of the state that refuses to enforce Christ. I also stand with those who believe that true science (not presuppositional secularism) will not contradict true biblical interpretation.
* * *
Then I looked at Diane Setterfield’s novel The Thirteenth Tale (Atria, 2006). I turned it over and read one of the most up-to-date pieces of postmodern counsel I have ever read. At first, I thought it was a blurb for the book from Vida Winter:

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth, but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney, when the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with her long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don’t expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing rocking safety of a lie.

No, Vida Winter is not a critic praising the power of this book. She is a character in the novel, and this is a quote from page five. Again, I feel no desire to be clever about the contrast between “hard-boned” truth and the “plump comforts” of a story. My main response is the feeling of wonderment that people today really believe this. And then I feel pity. And then a desire to find some way to shock them out of the trance. What shall we say?

First, this is good writing. Weak metaphysics, but strong metaphors. Listen for the consonance (the hard c’s) in, “What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story?” Feel the sounds: “wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney” . . . “the rain taps at the window with her long fingernails.”

Second, the writer of this paragraph has probably never really feared for her life. And almost certainly not for her eternal life. “Plump comforts of a story” will not soothe if you have three minutes before your hijacked plane incinerates you on the Pennsylvania plains.

Third, I wonder why she equates “story” with the “soothing rocking safety of a lie,” instead of asking whether the greatest story might be true? Dorothy Sayers and C. S. Lewis have helped us see that the reason “myth” or “story” have such power is not because they replace truth but because they resemble Truth.

Fourth, I pray that those who see themselves in this paragraph will discover that 2,000 years ago the Truth became flesh and dwelt among us. He is “hard-boned” but not “fleshless.” His name is Jesus Christ. He is the center of the true story of God’s saving history. It is not the “soothing rocking safety of a lie.” That is why his story will bring “succor” and “consolation,” not just when the wind howls and the rain falls, but when breath fails and we slip through the lips of eternity.

Thank you, Barnes & Noble, for a good day off.Pastor John
© Desiring God
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 1,000 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be explicitly approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's that time of the week! Time to do a blog tour! This week's tour is Violette Between.

Between Here and the PAST, THERE LIES A PLACE...a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.

Violette Between is a poinant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul suddenly died, she died too. Then she meets Christian, who also is morning the loss of a loved one.As Violette and Christian begin to feel something that they both thought was impossible. Tragedy strikes again. Christian finds Violette on the floor of his waiting room, that she had been painting to look like a New York rooftop restaurant.As Christian holds a vigil at her bedside, begging her to come back to him, Violette is in a coma, traveling to a place where she meets her beloved Saul. And she finds that she may not want to come back!What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

Violette Between is a powerful character study of a woman finally relinquishing the past to move on, only to be thrust into the quandry of reliving that life and needing to make a choice.For Christians, this will definitely make you think about heaven and the consequences of eternal life."Delving into the underside of complicated relationships, Alison Strobel takes readers to unexpected places, but doesn't hesitate to deliver redemptiom when needed."---Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett

The book on the Fiction Blogtour this week is Dark Hour
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1576838692/

The great thing about being part of this is that I learn about so many great books and writers that out there. Hope you enjoy the Q&A below. :)Marci

The author - Ginger Garrett's website:
http://www.gingergarrett.com/

About the author:
Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed novelist and expert in ancient women's history.Her first novel, Chosen, was recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates conversation between cultures.
In addition to her 2006 and 2007 novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer 2007.
Ginger Garrett's Dark Hour delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to end the line of David.

And now, a special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:
1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.
I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.
Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.

2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?
The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.

3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?
Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.

4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?
I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.

5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?
They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

September Next

I had a chance to chat with my publisher a bit at the ICWF conference and he told me the launch for One Smooth Stone has been put back to next Sept. That is a relief in a way. My editor e-mailed that she would not be able to begin looking at the ms. until the New Year and I was concerned that a launch in March would be really rushing things. So now I'm feeling a bit more relaxed about it, though anxious to get going at the same time.
I just wrote a new opening for the book - and want to get going on the sequel too, so there is lots to do ...
pray for the discipline to do it, the ears to hear God's direction as I go.
Thanks! M

Thursday, September 28, 2006

God's Best For Us

At Inscribe's Fall Conference, Larry Willard said - "God is doing His best for us."
As I mingled with the folks there I could not but heartily agree. What a privilege to be part of that group - to have friends who understand what it's like to be a writer - the joys and the struggles- and to be able to teach, to laugh, to just sit back and enjoy.
He is indeed doing His best for us, on so many levels.
Praise His name!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More on Brandilyn

Check out this interview with Brandilyn http://www.focusonfiction.net/brandilyncollins.html and don't forget to check out her new book, Violet Dawn here - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310252237

Brandilyn Collins

Brandilyn Collins is one of CBA's most prolific and successful writers. Her blog is outstanding - http://forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com/

The Amazon link for the book Violet Dawn: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310252237

Also, don't miss the virtual blog for the fictional Kanner Lake characters from this book series: http://www.kannerlake.blogspot.com/
This is a unique marketing tool for the series, involving about 30 other writers and eventually involving readers of the series who want to audition posts.

Violet Dawn, which released in August of this year, is published by Zondervan and is part of Brandilyn's new Kanner Lake series. There are two other books to come...Coral Moon, releasing in March of '07, and Crimson Eve, releasing in September of '07.

Violet Dawn is classic Brandiln Collins Seatbelt Suspense. It grabs you from the very beginning...
"Something sinuous brushed against Paige's knee. She jerked her leg away.What was that? She rose to a sitting position, groped around with her left hand.Fine wisps wound themselves around her fingers.Hair?She yanked backward, but the tendrils clung. something solid bumped her wrist. Paige gasped. With one frantic motion she shook her arm free, grabbed the side of the hot tub, and heaved herself out. "

I'm telling you that this is suspense at it's finest! Brandilyn has a group of friends that she affectionately calls the Big Honkin' Chickens Club, because the women in the group are unnerved by Brandilyn's writing. This new series is a prime example of that kind of work!Paige Williams slips into her hot tub in the blackness of night...and finds herself face to face with death.Alone, terrified, fleeing a dark past, Paige must make an unthinkable choice.

In Violet Dawn, hurtling events and richly drawn characters collide in a breathless story of murder, the need to belong, and faith's first glimmer. One woman's secrets unleash an entire town's pursuit, and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.You can go HERE to read a first chapter excerpt. But using Brandilyn's famous tagline....."Don't forget to breathe..."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Divine Convergence

Just returned from Inscribe's annual Fall Conference. Our main speaker was Larry Willard - publisher with Castle Quay (they are the folks who will be publishing One Smooth Stone), and Bay Ridge Books. He did an excellent job and his passion for Christian publishing in Canada is contagious. He talked about the "Divine Convergence" that he has been seeing happen in Canada over the past few years - where all the components necessary to see Christian publishing in Canada work have come together. It's exciting!

We went for supper after the conference. Unfortunately there were two other people with us who capitalized the conversation a lot of the time, so I wasn't able to ask the questions I had thought of earlier in the week. But then by that time my brain was kind of numb and I probably couldn't have remembered them anyways!

But I did find out that my novel has been delayed until next September. That seems like a long ways away but I'm kind of glad - when the editor told me she couldn't start working on it until the New Year I was thinking that only gave me one month to work on the edits and that seemed way too short a time. So... now I can continue to revise and work on it. Just changed the opening this morning. :) I'm still feeling that it needs more.
:)M

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Cover

This is exciting - my publisher just sent the artist's first crack at the cover for One Smooth Stone and has given me permission to pass it around for comments/thoughts. So, if you have any comments - negative, or positive, please let me know. Thanks!
:)M

Monday, September 04, 2006

Received an encouraging note from Mark Buchanan today. He's reading One Smooth Stone for an endorsement and said he's "entirely enthralled!"

Whew!It's so encouraging to have such great writers give that kind of praise!

I've also been getting some great encouragement and advice from a friend who's critiquing the ms. for me. It's encouraging because often by the time she suggests a change I've already made it. :) But she has made a few great suggestions that will make the book much better. Some of them have to do with things that I sort of take for granted - like what does a radiophone look like, and why are Grizzly bears so dangerous? Having lived for 12 years in the Yukon I forget that not everyone would know the answers to those questions.

I'm feeling much better about sending this ms. to my editor.

:)M

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A contract, A contract!

Yes! The contract arrived yesterday and is on its way back to the publisher. That means I'll begin working with my editor - hopefully next week. And I'll also get the advance! :) My husband asked me what I was going to do with it and I told him it is intended to go toward promotion and that's what I would like to do with it.
I'm having a speaker's one sheet designed by a publicist so some of it will go toward that. Then I'll be distributing it and that will take postage. I also want to make up a small booklet for OSS. A Word Guild member did this for the CBA in Edmonton and I thought it was a good idea to give the booksellers a glimpse of what the book is like. Then that will have to be mailed. I suspect this 1,000.00 is going to disappear pretty fast.
:)M

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Advice for Young Writers

Not from me - from a few others via the Atlantic Monthly

A Day with Time

I had time the other day - as opposed to it having me. Time not to hurry, time to be leisurely in pace and mind.
I wandered through a bookstore, picked up a novel I'd read a couple of years ago. Its characters still haunt a corner of my mind so I snatched it up - my treasure for the day at 6.99!
I bought a literary magazine too, which I do every now and then and as I read the winning entry in their fiction contest I found that words began to flow - words I'd been missing in One Smooth Stone - words I had thought I couldn't find. But they were there, in my mind, my pen. I just needed the time to find them.
So I know now. I need to take time - take it and wander and read and rest.
Perhaps one of the great gifts of heaven will be being free of the constraints of time - being without time, being free to wander.

:)M

Friday, August 18, 2006

CBA Canada

Just attended the Christian Book Association of Canada convention in Edmonton. It was an interesting experience - met some great people who are operating bookstores across the West, and some from the far east too - as far as Cape Breton! I was there to sign books and to help the Word Guild promote Canadian authors. It was encouraging to see the response from the retailers and distributors alike. I think we definitely created a wave that will sweep across the country - maybe even a tsunami! Most of the retailers were delighted to have someone point out the Cdn. writers and they were more than willing to promote them in their stores. At one point one of my colleagues questioned why they hadn't thought of it before but when I thought about it, it's only been in recent years that Canadian writers who are Christian have been coming to the fore - beginning with Janette Oke, then Sigmund Brouwer, now Mark Buchanan and others. There are enough now to fill a display, whereas only a few years ago there were maybe only one or two. It's exciting to see what's happening! :)M

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's Not Just Me!

Received a wonderful note from my friend, Linda Hall, the other day. She complimented me on my writing, but the best part was she admitted that she often has doubts about her work too. It's so great to know this something other writers struggle with and that it will eventually pass.
:)M

Monday, August 14, 2006

trying to be patient

Still waiting for the contract and to hear about my editor. I just sent a short email to my publisher to let him know I'll be gone on the 19th. Hoping that might spur him on a bit.
Still being plagued by negative thoughts too - but received a really great endorsement from Phil Callaway today, which helped. Why is it we are so reluctant to believe good things about our work? Or is it just me?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

True words

from Athol Dickson, author of this wonderful book, come these sobering words -

http://charisconnection.blogspot.com/2006/08/ad-haste-makes-waste.html

Panic attacks and other strategies I should know

Yesterday I took my ms. to Sigmund Brouwer's office - he's one of the writers who has agreed to do an endorsement of One Smooth Stone. I dropped it off and headed out of the building and I had to fight to keep going. I had a sudden and very strong urge to run back and snatch it from the hands of the secretary. Negative thoughts poured through my mind - such as - you dummy! Do you realize he's actually going to read it!? Don't you know it's not good enough - not nearly good enough for someone like Sigmund Brouwer to read? What makes you think your work will ever be good enough to publish?
I sat in my car and realized it already has been accepted for publication - it is going to be published - so someone obviously thought it was good enough - more than one someone. Then I realized where the negative thoughts were coming from and I fought to chase them out of my mind.
I packaged up two more copies to send by mail today - and guess what kind of thoughts were running through my mind? Yeah right. Another battle. Sigh.
Then I read Karen Hancock's latest blog - it's about fear. Go figure! Thanks Karen. I needed that!
God is good!
:)M

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Prayer Team

I've just set up a group in my email program called Stone Prayers, with 65 people on the list who are willing to pray for this book project. I'm excited about getting this going - should have done it sooner! If you'd like to receive prayer bulletins let me know and I'll add you to the list.

A couple of the people I asked to give endorsements of the book have requested hard copies so will be printing out the ms. as soon as I can get to a shop to buy more paper. My recyled clinic paper won't do for this! :) But I'm also thinking I'd like to go through the whole ms. again, to check for sensory details. So off I go ... sniffing with my ears perked.
:)M

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A phone call

Just had a phone call from the man who is doing the illustration for the cover of my book. I'm excited because we definitely seem to be on the same wavelength. I told him I don't like covers that picture the characters and he agreed completely. He said he's never done a cover with people on it. Yeah! He's thinking simple and so am I. He mentioned perhaps a hand with a stone resting in it. I told him I had thought of a single stone on a beach.
I'm really excited and anxious to see what he comes up with. Each time I hear from the publisher this all seems a little more real.
:) M

Monday, July 31, 2006

Done some more

Just finished doing some fact checking on my ms. I needed to talk to a cop so contacted a friend who has self-published two books. He was really helpful in explaining the RCMP procedures for a couple of things that I wanted to make sure were accurate in the ms. Then I had a sudden "oh dear!" moment when I realized that I wasn't sure if they still used radio-phones in the Yukon. It's been a number of years since we lived there so I didn't want to assume. The erratic behaviour of radio-phones is kind of a crucial thing to one segment of the plot, so I had to check it out. It was very easy to do - I just dialed 0 on my phone and asked the operator. She was able to confirm it immediately so I was able to leave that detail as is. whew!
So now I wait for word that I've been assigned an editor. Getting a little impatient.
:)M

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rejection and Success

There has been some discussion, on one of the lists I frequent, about rejection. Someone had a book ms. rejected and someone else had a whole series turned down by her publisher. Such things are discouraging to say the least. Many responded with words of encouragement and wisdom.

Patricia Paddey quoted that day's devotional by Oswald Chambers. He is my all-time favourite devotional writer (click the link to read today's) so I pulled out his book and read the entire entry. In a nutshell he said that it's not the end result that God is concerned about, but the process. It was such a good reminder to me, even though I'm not facing rejection but have successfully placed my book with a publisher. It hit me that he has just as much to teach me through this success as he does through a failure.

I have long understood that God is teaching me a great deal about myself and about Him as I write. Writing is my journey to Him, so the process is definitely paramount. But it's also exciting to know that he uses the end result to His purposes and glory. What an astonishingly great God we serve!

On this Sunday - in a couple of hours here in Alberta - people all over the world will be meeting to worship Him. May it all add to His glory.
:)M

Friday, July 28, 2006

Done or Done?

Well, it's done - at least, maybe it's done. I just finished the final edit on One Smooth Stone. It's ready to go the editor. I think. I hope. Well, maybe I should go over it all again. Is it good enough? Are the characters real enough? The emotional pull strong enough? What difference will this book make, anyways? Maybe I should just toss it all and start again. No ... there is something there... but is it enough?
Ahhhh, the angst of the almost published!
:)M

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

There's Karen...and then There's Tony

I read an interesting interview last night with Karen Hancock, a woman who has won three Christy Awards in a row. For those who might not know, that’s one of the top awards presented to a Christian author. The interview dealt mostly with how she writes – the disciplines she uses, the methods that work for her. Then the question that always comes up was asked – “What’s your marketing strategy?”

That’s a question that not only writers are interested in. Publishers want to know your answer up front, when you send them a proposal for a book. They want to know how you plan to sell it, if and when it is accepted for publication. It’s a question that most writers dread. Most just want to write. They don’t want to have to be bothered spending hours and hours planning how to sell their books. But, the reality is, they must. Publishers expect it.

It's a question I've been wrestling with for the past while, since I have a book being published in a few months. So I was more than a little surprised when Karen said that she is doing only a minimal amount of marketing. She said that God had made it clear at the very beginning that He was going to take care of it, so she was leaving it almost entirely up to Him.

But I read another article just a couple of days ago, about Tony Hines, another author whose work is gaining a following. I wouldn’t be surprised if his book is a Christy winner next year. Tony has a massive marketing strategy. When I look at what he’s doing I wonder when he sleeps – or writes. The article mentioned that the publisher who received his manuscript leaned strongly toward accepting it because of the marketing he was already doing. The book was good. The marketing strategy was awesome.

So, there’s Karen. And then there’s Tony. From the contact I’ve had with them, their books, and their plans, I believe they are both sincere and committed Christians. Two believers, two writers writing what they believe God wants them to write, two totally different approaches to doing it. So who’s right?

They both are. This is an example of how God works, uniquely and specifically in a person’s life. He has led Karen down one road and Tony down another. Both work because both are God’s ideas. So, what’s the bottom line? Find out what God’s idea is for you. He has one. Do a Biblical word search on words like, ‘plans,’ ‘prosper,’ ‘future,’ and see the pattern that emerges. Pray and ask Him to tell you. He will.

Jeremiah said it - “This is what the Lord says: … “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (vs 11-13)

Our lives are a grand journey when we let God lead us through them. There’s Karen. And then there’s Tony. There’s Marcia. And then there’s … you.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Orson Scott Card on Writing about Religion

Here's an interesting link for an interview about the depiction (or lack thereof) of religion in the life of characters in literary or science fiction.www.absolutewrite.com/nov...t_card.htm

Friday, July 21, 2006

Word counts etc.

Just printed off a copy of the ms. - it's up to 279 pages on my computer now, about 69,500 words. My contract originaly said 82,000 words but the editor said he'd adjust it to 75,000, which I expect it will be by the time I'm finished. They have also agreed to remove the limit on the number of books I can buy at the discount, though they weren't willing to lower the discount at all. I'm still happy. And my editor said there would be more room to negotiate on a second book. I have some ideas floating around in my head for a sequel already. So, we shall see.
I'm going to sit down with the hard copy now and see how the changes I made fit, then make a few more probably. So .. off to work.
:)M

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Almost finished

Yes, almost finished the proposal. I just have to find a couple more books that are similar in theme/genre etc. to mine. I find this hard to do. Comparisons are poor at the best of times when you're dealing with something so subjective as what I think of a book. So far I've listed one book that deals with similar themes of a nasty past and forgiveness. But the two books are not at all alike, really. I asked my list friends for help and have had a few suggestions, so must now try to run down these books. Hoping to find some in our church library - if I can get in the door. The tiny room where it's located right now is not exactly condusive to searching for a book. Sigh. Off I go.
:)M

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Canadian writers featured

Check out this link to read about Canadian Christian writers, their thoughts on the recent awards and on the Canadian Christian publishing scene - yes, there really is one!
:)M

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I received the contract from my publisher today. It's a lot less complicated than I thought it might be, and seems pretty straight forward. But just to make sure, I've asked a friend who has had a lot of books published to have a look at it and give me some feedback. I don't feel like I should make any demands, since I've won a contest to do this, but it will be interesting to see what he suggests.
My publisher also gave me the go-ahead to work on the ms. even though an editor hasn't been assigned yet. That's really great because one of the critiques I got from the contest was really good and I'm anxious to get at it and make some changes.
The proposal is coming along. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, even tho' I already know the ms. has been accepted.
More later.
:)M

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Good Question about Christian Writers

Some time ago, on a writer's list, someone asked, "What does a Christian writer have to offer?"

Good question.

I recently had to fly from one side of the country to the other and while in the airport in Toronto picked up a book put out by the PEN group called Writing Away. It included all the "top" names in the Canadian literary world. I started reading as my flight across the country took off and by the time I landed, some 4 hours later, my heart was saddened. These people have voices that are heard and respected, yet there was nothing - and I mean nothing - in any of the pieces in that book that gripped me in any way. One, written by a highly respected woman journalist was about all the places she has swum in her travels. Another blathered on about the food, etc. etc. It was a whole lot of nothing.

Then I read a short story online - go to this link to find it - http://www.infuzemag.com/creative/stories/archives/
2006/03/there_was_geths.html

After reading that beautiful piece of writing, I think the answer is obvious. I cried out to God to help me write in a way that will move people as this story moved me.

What does a Christian writer have to offer? Something of substance, of reality, of hope and grace and light. Something that makes our hearts lean toward the God of our universe.

Oh, how we need to take this calling seriously!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Literary Mags

Check out this article on writing for Christian literary mags.

Brandilyn Collins



Here is something really different. But really cool.

Author (and blogger) Brandilyn Collins
has written a novel that comes out in August called Violet Dawn. It
is part of a new series she has started called the Kanner Lake Series. She sent out
Advance Reader Copies to those who requested them and asked them to
choose a character that they liked. Then she asked the readers to
send her a make believe post from the character for a make believe
blog by the 'Kanner Lake' make believe residents. This is going to be
an actual blog, called...Scenes and Beans, full of ficticious bloggers
written by real bloggers who liked Violet Dawn. Confusing? Well, it begins
today, July 5th! Go check it out by pressing the button
for Scenes and Beans!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Continuing

I've been working on Smooth Stone a bit - changed a couple of paragraphs around, filled in here and there, but I need to do some work on the characters. Kenni especially is a bit flat. I need to fatten her up. :) My daughter, Laura is reading the ms. now with an eye for places where I could add some things to bring Kenni to life. I'm thinking of giving her a parrot. I've been wanting a parrot for some time, but can't afford one, so I think i'll give Kenni one instead.

The main character needs some work too and it's going to be a challenge to know how to bring him to life more.

I'm still waiting for word from the publisher about the contract, my editor's name etc. No details yet and I'm getting a little impatient. I need to get at the proposal too, which I've only just begun.

I bought a book at the Write! Canada conference that I've been wanting for some time - Self-editing for fiction writers. I've heard it's really good. Also want to read Story by McPhee.

So - I should get at them. ttylater. M

Saturday, July 01, 2006

One Smooth Stone

That's the title of my novel, which will be published by Castle Quay Books sometime next year. I've decided to make this blog into a journal of that journey. So, I'll start at the beginning.

It was born one Sunday after a woman from a local crisis pregnancy centre gave a talk at our church. I chatted with her afterwards (I had worked on the hotline for her organization) and we got talking about abortion. She said, "Can you imagine what it would be like for someone to discover his mother had tried to abort him?" I could and did and now it's going to be a book.

About that time I left a very stressful job, working on call as a unit clerk and admitions clerk at a local hospital. I tried applying for other positions and got very tired of hearing, "you were our second choice..." I was getting more than a little exasperated with God when a friend mentioned a small craft store in town was looking for someone part time. I talked with one of the owners who said I was over-qualified and they could only pay me just over minimum wage, but I had the job if I wanted it.

I talked with my husband and groaned about the wage, but he said, well, at least it's something going into the bank. So I took the job. My bosses (the business was owned by 4 women), told me I could do whatever I wanted with my time as long as there were no customers in the shop and things were neat and tidy. And they had a computer! With a disk drive! So ...

I wrote my book and got paid 7.00/hr. to do it! I also went from a job that was giving me high blood pressure, to a no-stress job that was a delight. God really does know best!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

News!

My feet are starting to touch ground after a fairy-tale week. On June 11 I received a phone call that I was the winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award, sponsored by The Word Guild and Augsburg Fortress' Canadian Imprint, Castle Quay. They called to ask me to be at the Gala Award Ceremony on the 14th and at the following conference to receive the prize - 1000.00 plus a publication contract! So I rearranged my life and hopped on a plane to the other side of the country. That night seemed surreal. The event was indeed a gala - music, media and more. My award was the last of about 30 given out that night. I wasn't sure what I was going to say when I accepted it, but just before they announced it the group sang the song, Days of Elijah. I've always loved the verse that says - "These are the days of Ezekiel, dry bones becoming as flesh" - and as I sang it I thought of how God does that to me as I write, as we all write, and then His Holy Spirit takes our words and does amazing things through them. I've seen Him do it through my devotionals and I am very excited to see what He intends to do with One Smooth Stone. They tell me the launch date is tentatively scheduled for March. :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Excerpt

Hi folks - below is an excerpt from a friend's new book -
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

FIRST CHAPTER: DELIVER US FROM EVELYN (Harvest House Publishers)
By Chris Well

Everyone from the Feds to the mob is scrambling to find the husband of heartless media mogul Evelyn Blake. But no one can decide which is worse—that he is missing, or that she is not ...

CHAPTER ONE
Sunday night. April 23.On his last day of this life, the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins checked the party dip. Just stuck his finger right in there, pulled some glop free, stuck it in his mouth and sucked.Hmm, good dip.He wiped his saliva’d finger on his jacket, popped the top off a can of Pringles, shuffled a neat row of curved chips onto a Dixie brand paper platter.There.
Setting the can down, he stepped back from the secondhand coffee table in the middle of the shag-carpeted office, looked at what his party planning skills had wrought. And he saw that it was good.
He went to the stereo system across the room, selected a CD. Personally, he would have preferred something by the Rolling Stones, maybe Exile on Main Street or Beggars Banquet -- muscular, honky-tonk rock ’n’ roll you can get drunk or stoned to, depending on your mood. He could really go for the bluesy wail of “Tumbling Dice” right now.But the music library here offered none of that. Besides, his marks -- that is, the members of his “flock” -- held certain expectations regarding what music was appropriate for a prayer meeting. Especially in a small armpit of a town like Belt Falls, Illinois.(Who names a town “Belt Falls,” anyway?)
The ladies would be here soon. Then Missionary Bob could use his people skills, honed from his years of "ministry," to good effect. Would lead the group in a spontaneous (but carefully planned) evening following “the Lord’s leading” -- some Bible, some hymns, some ministry time. A carefully rehearsed prayer, a combination of wails and pleas, which experience had shown to be a very effective prelude to the passing of the offering plate.Swept up by the rush of maudlin and spiritual emotion, the ladies would cough up plenty.“Yea, but there are those who do not have it as comfortably as we do,” he found himself practicing, fiddling with chair placement in the circle, maneuvering pillows on the couch. “Poor children who do not have the food or clothing or shelter such as we take for granted.” He double-checked the handy photos on the table. The orphanage in Mexico went by a lot of names. It would not do for the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins to get all weepy-eyed over JESUS AMA A LOS NINOS PEQUENOS and then whip out a photo showing a bunch of tiny brown faces smiling under a banner that said CHILDREN OF HER MERCY ORPHANAGE. Following the fiasco in the last town, he’d played it cool once he got to Belt Falls. (Really, who brings a wagon train across the frontier, breaks ground on a settlement and says, “From henceforth, this shall be known as ‘Belt Falls’”?)
Ever since Andrea -- his partner, his companion, his ray of light -- had got Jesus, she'd stopped helping with the scams. Stopped helping him fleece the flock, so to speak. She laid it on thick enough, It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, and all that.He tried to smirk it off, tried that face that always brought her around, but it didn’t seem to work anymore. Whatever had got hold of her wasn’t letting go.Missionary Bob would never admit it to anyone, least of all himself, that the dividing line between success and failure began and ended with Andrea. When she was working with him, the scams worked like butter.But then she got religion and the whole machine went up in flames.Not that Missionary Bob got the clue.
He kept working his games, town to town, each new gambit failing, each new town harder to crack than the last.Once he set up shop here in Belt Falls (don’t even get him started about the name of the town), he took his time getting to know the people. He found them to be a small, close-knit community, smugly going to their church services.Smug, but not that pious -- it did not take much effort to plant sufficient evidence that the only pastor in town was a raving drug user, maybe even a dealer. Not enough evidence to get the man convicted -- even the hick sheriff saw it was a weak case -- but the hapless pastor had to make only one phone call to the wrong deacon asking for bail money before word of his unholy lifestyle rushed through the congregation like wildfire.In the eyes of God and the law, he was probably an okay guy. But once a congregation chooses to believe the worst, a preacher may as well pack his bags and move on.Missionary Bob had even heard tell of one particular church, somewhere in the Midwest, where the members had booted the pastor because he'd had the temerity to wear short pants to a church potluck. Yep, hell -- if it existed -- would be packed to the lips with smug, busybody churchgoers who ran their preacher out of town because he had worn shorts to a church potluck. Or, as in this case, was the victim of circumstantial evidence planted on him by a traveling huckster.
He stood and straightened his dress jacket. Felt a bulge in his left pocket, was surprised to discover a coaster with the face of Jesus on it.He looked around the office, befuddled. When had he picked this up?You don’t have to lift anything here, he reminded himself. You’ve pretty much lifted the whole office already.Missionary Bob, in what used to be the hapless pastor’s office, heard steps echoing from the foyer, somebody clomping up the stairs. My, my, thought the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins, these ladies do need to lose some weight, don’t they? Whoever this was, she was pounding the stairs to wake the devil.He stopped fidgeting with pillows and stood up straight, getting into character. Thinking of his plan, his mission, remembering the correct accent and speech patterns of a Right Fair Reverend Missionary, an accent as specific and undeniable as the drawl of New Orleans or the wicked blue-blood of Boston.There was an insistent pounding on the door, a battering, really, if he had stopped to think about it. But he was too wrapped up in the character of a Right Fair Reverend Missionary. He slapped on a toothy grin and opened the door. “Welcome, child, to -- ”
It was a man. A. Large. Man. A grizzled bear towering over him, bloated flannel shirt cascading out of pants where they were almost tucked, tractor cap on his head declaring EAT ROADKILL. The grizzly bear pressed his flannelled beer belly against the Right Fair Reverend Missionary, leaned down from on high and belched, “I’m Darla Mae’s husband.”The Right Fair Reverent Missionary Bob Mullins broke character and cursed.
The rest of the confrontation was like a dream, a nightmare of slow motion, the bear smacking him, a freight train to the skull, tossing Missionary Bob across the room. Hitting the coffee table as he went down, elbow in the dip. The grizzly roaring, storming in, Missionary Bob on the floor, scrambling backward, away, fleeing in the only direction he could, farther into the room. The angry husband kicking the table over, party snacks flying, dip spattering across the bookcase.As Missionary Bob kicked to his feet, always moving backward, until the wall stopped his escape, one question kept flashing through his mind: Is this about the fake antique Cross of James or is this about the adultery?Either way, his back against the wall, this grizzly man bearing down on him, Missionary Bob was out of options. The giant man, his eyes red, had barrel fists clenched and ready to swing, like jackhammers.
There was a noise behind the grizzly, at the open door. “Missionary Bob?”One of the ladies.The enraged husband turned at the voice. Missionary Bob took his one and only chance, grabbed the stone head of Moliere, clubbed the grizzly across the side of the head. The man stumbled backward and fell.Missionary Bob, fueled by anger and fear and blind, stupid adrenalin, kept clubbing, again and again. The man on the floor now, blood streaming from his head. Missionary Bob clubbing him with the bust again and again. On his knees, on top of the man, clubbing him again and again and again.Finally, adrenalin loosening its grip, Missionary Bob became aware that the man was not moving. Clutching air in hot, painful gasps, he dropped the bust to the carpet.Felt something wet on the side of his face, wiped it with his sleeve, saw blood smeared on fabric. Not his own blood.Gasping, wheezing, he looked up and saw the witnesses, ladies pooling in the doorway, staring agape at the Goliath on the floor, downed by the David with his stone.
© 2006 Chris Well

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fantasy/Scifi Blogtour

Some friends have stared a Fantasy/Scifi blogtour. This is the first go. So check out

Tim Frankovich's Christian Fiction Review, Focus on Christian Fantasy. And

http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/

I'm going to be trying to market my fantasy soon, so this is great timing for me. I can see that I have some reading to do to catch up on what's been happening in this genre.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Blogging for Brandilyn

Check out these links to books by Brandilyn Collins
Link to the book's Amazon page at:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0310251060
Link to Brandilyn's great blog at:http://forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com/

:)M

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Jan Karon

Hi folks - here's a link to an address given by Jan Karon at the Washington Cathedral - a delightful 40 minutes.

http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/register/karon2005f.shtml

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Privilege of a Christian Writer

I was sitting in my usual spot in church last Sunday (no, I don't consider it "my pew" but I am a creature of habit!) when a young man tapped me on the shoulder. He said he went to a restaurant for lunch a while ago and picked up the Sunshine News on a counter, to read while on his break. He glanced through it and noticed my column, The Spur. He read while waiting for his meal.

"Then," he said, "I had a problem." I twisted in my seat to look directly at him. "I had to go and pick up my burger with tears streaming down my face."

"Oh," I said, not sure if he saw that as a good thing or bad thing, until his eyes filled and he gave his head a quick jerk. "It was beautiful," he said. "Thanks."

The piece he had read referred to the funeral of a small baby - his son. (You can read it here). As we hugged right there in church, I thanked God that the words had been a small part of his healing.

What a privilege we have as Christian writers, to write in such a way that hearts are touched - hearts that are hurting but on the mend, like that young man's. What a privilege to watch as God uses our words and does His work with them.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Poetry

check out this link - some interesting thoughts on the worth of poetry

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Babies are Gone

Oh dear. I just gave up a small stack of books to be displayed - and sold, I hope - at a gathering next week. And as I counted them out I realized I have only 5 copies left of my first 'baby' - The Spur of the Moment. That's a good thing, I know, but it leaves me feeling a little sad too - kind of like the empty nest syndrome - all those babies are out there somewhere and now have a life of their own. Good thing there's a good God who is in control of where they go and what they do! There I feel better now.
:)M

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tragedy upon Tragedy

I just watched the film Capote, a story about a writer who became obsessed with a tragic murder. The film details his journey as he goes to the community where the murders were committed, becomes friends with the people involved and then begins to forge a relationship with the killers, all so that he can write a book about the incident. Capote is shown to be a cold, single-minded man whose only desire is to finish the book, which he calls In Cold Blood.

But a problem soon arises. The killers are given a stay of execution. The book cannot be finished until they are dead. So Capote says he prays to God that they will be hung. Eventually they are, and Capote publishes In Cold Blood. It becomes the most sought-after book in North America. In the short blurbs at the end of the film, we are told Capote’s preface to the book includes the words, “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.” We are also told that Capote was never able to finish another book. His alcoholism finally caused his death.

The film is chilling for many reasons – the murders, the sad picture of two young men whose lives were damaged from the beginning, the seemingly cold manipulation of a writer who would do anything to get his story. But the thing that chilled my heart the most was that last bit of information at the end of the film. A man who was obviously very talented never used his gift again. His work and his life were ruined because of the choices he made. Most tragic of all, he never, as far as was evident, received the forgiveness that could have freed him from his guilt and torment.

There are too many of us like Truman Capote. Too many who have made wrong choices but, for whatever reason, do not recognize that there is a way to put those wrongs behind us forever. A long-ago king knew the truth about this forgiveness that is available to all of us. His name was David. He too made wrong choices that resulted in death. Yet he wrote – “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…” (Psalm 103:12-13).

God’s forgiveness is free because His Son, Jesus paid the price for us. The scriptures say that He ‘became sin’ and freed us from its grip. All we have to do is acknowledge what we have done and ask for the forgiveness that is available. Such a small step, yet it can free us to go on with our lives, to fulfill the purposes for which God created us, to move joyfully using the gifts He has given us. It is a great tragedy that Truman Capote did not make that small step. Perhaps no-one told him how. Perhaps he believed it was just too good to be true, that his sin was too great for God to forgive. Tragedy upon tragedy.

I pray that we will all turn to God and seek His forgiveness. The world needs men and women who are free, men and women who will use their gifts to God’s glory.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Great Quote

I've just started Mark Buchanan's book, The Rest of God and I know it's going to be a delight.

On his opening page he referenced 2 Peter 1:12-15 and then said this -
"These verses define what I'm about, as both a writer and a speaker; the ministry of reminding - of restating truth we already know. I do this always, and I will do it as long as I'm around, so that even after I've departed, the memory of truth will live on. I hope what I write is fresh, but there is nothing original. It's all just a reminder."

What Mark writes is always fresh and the way he writes it makes you want to slow down and savour.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Disappointment

I was supposed to teach an all-day writing seminar today (Self to Story), south of Calgary. But a blizzard blew in at noon yesterday and when I heard there was a 'no tow zone' on the highway I cancelled. Disappointing, but on the bright side I have a whole 'free' day today. Time to write in my blogs, and read. And speaking of that, don't miss this story. It's powerful, beautifully written.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Wah wah. I'm feeling left out. Some friends from fif are going to Mount Hermon. Other friends from Inscribe are going to Write to Publish, and some others are going to the Festival of Faith and Writing this year. I'm not going anywhere - but I was invited to the trade fair in Evansburg AB! Sadly I had to turn it down. :)

The only consolation is that my daughter is coming home in 76 days! Yeah!

Anyway, here's a link to Grain magazine that's worth checking out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Blogging for Brenda

First, check out this link to Brenda Coulter's new book - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0373873581
Second, go to Brenda's blog at:http://brendacoulter.blogspot.com
And then go to her home page as well, at http://www.brendacoulter.com.

And congratulate her on her new 'baby' :)
M

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Terry Whalin's post

Hi folks. Check out this post from Terry Whalin's blog
His question at the end made me think of something Gus Henne, of Essence Publishing said - if you do three things a day to market and sell your book, you'll sell out in no time.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Check it out

Hi - check out this one : http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0800730402

"...Pink exposes a basic truth: when we hide our true selves from others because we don't want to get hurt, we get hurt anyway--and others do too..."--Neta Jackson, author, The Yada Yada Prayer Group

Marilyn's website: http://www.marilynngriffith.com

Enjoy. :)M

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For the Inner Ear

I just pulled a book off my shelf that I haven't looked at for some time. It's an anthology of poetry in which I was published a few years ago. (a reputable one, by the way:) )

The title page includes a quote from Dorothy Livesay - "Sing then, for the inner ear's hearing."
What a great exhortation to writers who are Christians - sing, for the world, the sinful, violent, chaotic world, is hearing. So often we think not. We see the state of our world and despair. We hear the scoffers and grind our teeth in frustration.

Yet we have been given the task to sing of Christ through our writing. It makes me think of the violin ensemble that played as the Titanic sank - (in the film at least, and I don't know if that is factual). It seems like a ridiculous thing to do, yet we are called to do it.

It makes me think too of an interview I saw with Mother Theresa. The interviewer asked her why she bothered, when it was obvious she could do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the millions around her. She seemed not to even comprehend the question. She concerned herself with doing what she was called to do - hold the suffering in her arms while they died. Bring comfort and hope to those who had given up ever finding it.

What an honour! What a privilege! Sing. For they are hearing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I had a look at Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake idea today. It looks like something I might use now that I've written a couple of novels, to go back and edit, to look at some marketing strategies if and when they ever get published. But I don't think I'll use it to outline a novel in the beginning. I like the fun of not knowing where it's going to go until it starts to go there.

I sat up till 2:00 a.m. last night reading/editing the second juvenile book I wrote about 10 years ago. I'm going to try and get the series published, so went through the first book (scroll down to The Witnesses) and then started the second yesterday. I couldn't stop, so ended up burning the midnight oil. And I had such a great time! Loved it. Can't wait to get going on book 3! I have no idea where it will end up, but my brain is already figuring out where it will go next.

It would be even more fun to see them in print some day.
:)M

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year's Res.

My husband mentioned something the other day that made me smile. In fact, it has made me smile many times since it happened.

We were on our way back to the Yukon with our two daughters - driving back in a very small Toyota Corolla, after spending a year at college in Saskatchewan. I learned what the word claustrophobic meant on that trip. And I learned something else.

We'd been admiring the scenery all the way - the soaring scenery of mountains that takes your breath away after living on the prairie for a year. When we reached our destination, Dawson City, my daughter, Katie, then six, paused as we ferried across the Yukon River, then pointed at the sheer cliffs rising from the water. "Look, Dad," she said, "we're coming close to the incredibles!"

I guess we'd used that word a time or two.

I learned then that kids will imitate us, no matter what words we use. They don't know any better. They are learning about how to function in the world, and their only resource is the people around them. Since we are, in effect, stuck in a small vehicle known as a family, it is inevitable that our kids will pick up and use whatever words we allow a presence within that capsule. They not only pick them up, they learn how to use them.

How crucial it is, then, to speak words of peace, love, contentment, joy - words that heal instead of words that destroy. How else will our children learn about such crucial words if we do not speak them? Now that I and my children are much older, I carry a certain amount of guilt about the many words I have not spoken. The other child in that car on its way to the Yukon, (Laura), once said that she only learned about me when strangers came to our house and we started telling stories."Why don't you tell us those stories?" she asked. Why indeed.

What fear keeps us from sharing the stories of our hearts with those closest to us? Why do we keep silent, keep the crucial words hidden inside? I suppose we too have learned, as we've journeyed through the small capsule of our lives, that it is safer to keep things hidden. Safer in the silence. But we all lose in that silence.

So at the beginning of this New Year, I call a challenge into this shared capsule - speak. Let the words of life and love flow out, into the air, onto the pages, onto the monitor screens and into cyber-space.

Let us all speak!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

promo

Hi again - wow, three posts in one day! Maybe I'm taking this New Year's resolution thing a little too seriously!
But just wanted to point you to fellow writer, Chris Well - and to an interview at Gina's site
take a look! :)M

A Conversion Tale

Dave Long, over at Faithinfiction has been posting the entries in his last contest. They are all conversion stories. I didn't have the time to enter the contest, but I did write a conversion story a few years ago that was published in FellowScript, the magazine/newsletter for Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship It won their contest, which, if my memory serves, was to write a story about a character named Shorty that included a volkswagon Beetle called Bee and a woman named Myrtle. It was fun to write.

So - I thought I'd post it here, for the fun. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know. :)M

I Remember Shorty
By M. Lee Laycock

We leap-frogged across the country, Shorty and I. He was driving a patchwork quilt of a pickup and I was in my hum-along-the-road Beetle. I first noticed him somewhere west of Regina, when I ran out of gas. Old "Bee" would run forever on a tank, but her gas gauge had jammed about four owners previous. I’d often chug to a stop, trying to remember how far back the last gas station was. Shorty pulled over, hopped out with a jerry can in his hand and a grin on his lined face. I could tell he’d seen better days, but when his grin widened and he pulled off his cowboy hat, I relaxed. A wide band of white started about half way down his forehead. I had a weakness for cowboys and Shorty was definitely the real deal.

"Out o’ gas, ma’am?"

As I studied Shorty, I figured he was the kind who’d call every female that.

"I’d be glad to pay you..."

He waved his hat as he poured the gas. "No need." He lifted his chin at the car. "What is this, anyway?"

My turn to grin. "It’s a Volkswagen Beetle. I call her Bee."

"Bee, eh? Good name fer it. Looks like it could get squashed out here."

I peered out at the flat landscape, squinting along the highway as a semi roared by, and was tempted to agree. "Sure is hot."

"Uh huh. Storm brewin, you can feel it." He finished pouring the gas, wiped his two-toned brow with his sleeve and put his hat on his head. "That’ll get ya to the next station."

"Thanks. You sure I can’t...

"Nope. Good Lord blesses me, I do what I can when I see a chance."

He peered into the back window of Bee & frowned. "You goin’ far?"

I nodded. "To the Yukon. Just me and my dog." Klondike gave a low growl for effect.

Shorty took a step back. "Huh. Lookin’ fer gold, eh?"

"Well, sort of."

He slipped a crooked finger across the rim of his hat and gave a quick jerk of his head. "Journey mercies to ye, then."

That night, I tried to write Shorty into my journal, but the storm he’d predicted boomed out of a low black cloud that left only a thin line of light where it met the ground. Klondike shivered beside me and the walls of my pup tent flapped like sails. Just as the hail hit it collapsed around us. I tried to set it up again but the hail battered me till I gave up, stuffed it and the dog into old Bee and tried to sleep sitting up. As the hail turned to rain I decided to drive around to the laundry I’d seen at the middle of the campground. Bee’s windshield wipers were threatening to fly off due to centrifugal force, so the wide dark patch beside it was a blur. Bee hummed right onto it and held her ground for about five seconds. Then she started to sink. It was a battle to get the door open and by the time Klondike and I got into the laundry, we were drenched and covered in mud. Shorty was sitting on top of one of the driers, his short legs forming a perfect curve to the tip of his warn boots dangling about a foot off the floor.

He peered through the window. "Looks like you’ll be needin a tow once this lets up."

"I thought it was a driveway."

"Garden patch, more like."

Klondike shook himself and fell over. Shorty let out a cackle, then turned a deep red under his burnished skin, and apologized. "Sorry, ma’am. Just ain’t seen many tripods like that."

I smoothed the fur on Klondike’s wet head. "He got caught in a trap. They had to amputate."

Shorty nodded. "Know what that’s all about. Been there."

I pushed my wet sleeping bag into the washer. "You’ve been caught in a trap?"

"Yup. One of my own makin’, though the Devil did his part."

I waited, knowing he’d go on.

"Left home when I was about your age. Hooked up with a raw bunch and almost followed them to hell. Then I met Myrtle. She was workin’ as a teller in the bank we tried to rob. One o’ my partners pretended he had a gun in his pocket. Myrtle didn’t scare easy - grabbed his arm and pulled his hand out. Shoulda seen the look on that boy’s face when Myrtle started laughin’. Those boys ran like chickens from a fox and left me standin there."

"Were you arrested?"

Shorty grinned. "Nope. But you might say I got a life sentence. Myrtle told me what I needed was a meal and the Lord Jesus. Married her six months later. On my way home to her now."

Shorty stretched himself down from the drier. "Kinda looks to me like you could use a dose of Myrtle’s medicine yerself. There’s a diner down the road. How ‘bout some breakfast?"

My stomach chose that moment to growl, so I grinned back at him and agreed. The breakfast was huge and Shorty talked his way through it. It was then I realized his eyes were the kind that really saw what they were looking at, and he kept them trained on me.

Yes, I remember Shorty well, but I remember the joy more. The joy when I prayed with him after that big breakfast, the joy when I waved good-bye after he’d pulled Bee out of the mud. The joy that stayed with me when I turned around and headed home.

There was no need to go on. I’d already struck gold.

Gulp

I took a leap of faith just before Christmas. I spent about two weeks editing my fiction manuscript, One Smooth Stone, and then sent it to the Castle Quay contest for new Canadian Christian writers. By the time I sent it out, I was pretty much convinced it wasn't very good, but knowing that stage tends to happen to most writers I sent it out anyway. Mostly because of the encouragement of friends. It's hard to stay objective when you get that close.
Now the waiting - four months of waiting since the short list won't be announced until May. Now the challenge of trying not to think about it.

I've been looking at an old ms., The Witnesses, that almost got published years ago. It's a fantasy adventure novel for juvenile readers. I really had fun writing it, and the sequel to it, but when that promising contract didn't materialize I got discouraged and shelved it. I even started # 3 long ago, but haven't gone back to it yet. If One Smooth Stone doesn't win with CQ, I'll try marketing The Witnesses. That will be a 'cold call' so it means putting the proposal together etc. which isn't my most favourite thing to do, but oh well. Necessary evils.

As 2006 swings into its first week I'm tempted to set some goals, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Other than the general - write more, speak more, sell more books.
I do want to be more consistent with blogging.

We'll see what the year delivers.
:)M