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Novel Inspiration Photos

More photo inspiration!

Vintage quilt | three ladies walking down sidewalk | Dan Patch, racehorse | 1943 Western Horseman magazine (which, by the way, took me three years to find on eBay. Hands-on history is a fun challenge to get a hold of.) 🙂

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ACFW 2016: What is Success? Part 2

zinsser hard writing is easy writing

In an ACFW conference session about writers developing a thick skin, Steve Laube had asked us to define success.

In my quest for defining success, I learned the real value of writing and strategy.

The process for writing one or a hundred books will be different for every writer from every different level. Some may crank out four novels a year, and others one novel every two years, or even four years. Steve’s blog post Praise Slow Writing really made me think. However, in my reply to his post, I did not think well enough. Well, I did not choose well enough.

Steve’s gracious reply:


I must be very clear that this post is in no way a criticism or critique of those who write and publish much faster.

I represent Susan May Warren and know that she has a gift. She is very deliberate and careful in her writing but she can do it at a speed that makes it appear easy. Her manuscripts go into her publishers very clean and her readers love her writing.

Sure, Susie’s output is prodigious. But it is not slap-dash or haphazard. We just had a meal together last week and talked about her work strategy. She has spent a long time working long hours to get to this point. It just seems like she “cranks ’em out” when in actuality that is part of the strategy!

But remember it is a gift honed through years and years of discipline and learning.

I have clients who write one novel every three to four years.
I have other clients who write one novel every three to four months, or even faster.
Both are right in their methods.

I also know how hard Ted Dekker works on his books and how he wrestles with the text and the plots to make them impact his readers.

So, let’s be careful that we don’t fall into a comparison of volume in output as being somehow less literary than what I wrote here and called Slow Writing.

My intent is to challenge each of us to consider our words and make sure they are the right ones to put on the page. If they come at lightning speed it still may be Slow Writing because it too[k] years to get to the point where you can create quickly but with quality.

Other writers are gifted with the ability to write slowly. Neither is wrong in their approach. Merely different.

Uh-oh. I’d committed the cardinal sin for writers! Totally botched my word choice!

One word! Did you find it?
My  c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y  thought-out reply:

Thank you for the clarification, Steve, and for teaching me this deeper value of writing/strategy.

My word choice “haphazard” is incorrect, as I did not intend to or even want to slam writers who write quickly and label them as uber pansters who don’t care for their readers and the written word. I do apologize, for the word choice gave the impression that this post was criticizing fast writers. And I didn’t even take it that way! Ugh, words. Guess I should have rolled that one around in my tongue a little longer. 😉

I attended Susie’s and Rachel’s post-conference session this past weekend at the ACFW conference, and greatly admired their knowledge and writing ability.

I guess I’m just one of those Slow Writers. 🙂

Again, thank you.

It’s all about choosing the right word or definition. In a sea of a million. And even then, the above reply has some issues. (Maybe I’m in the wrong profession?) Haha. Just give me a paper cut and pour lemon juice on it!

Granted, this barely touches the definition of success (still working to define it as it pertains to my writing). 😀
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ACFW 2016: What is Success? Part 1

the trouble with writing


Steve Laube of The Steve Laube Agency taught one of the ACFW sessions. This session was the last Saturday sessions and it was really quite eye-opening. If any fledgling writer could be persuaded not to be an author, then Steve’s class would have done the job. He left the twenty or thirty of us with this challenge:

“If you can define success for yourself very quickly, then you’re on your way to being successful.” — Steve Laube

This week, in one of the Agency’s post, Steve offered a piece of advice that seems to counteract the thrust of the writing today. In the post “Praise Slow Writing,” Steve presents the idea of writing slower, choosing each word carefully, making sure that each sentence is precise in describing a scene or character description, or even plot idea.

Below is my reply:

For ten years, as I kept researching, writing, and editing my novel, I wondered: Why is it taking me so long to write just one book? Surely, while other authors are publishing a book a year, I will never accomplish very much in my lifetime.

Success is in the small things–sometimes–because it is the deliberate delay of writing and the careful study of the craft that will resonate deeply with readers after they’ve read a well-written sentence-by-sentence, scene-by-scene novel, causing them sink back into their couch and sigh and reflect and grow. So I must continue to stop and evaluate what I’m writing, why I’m writing, and how I’m writing.

Do I want to simply be that author who churns out book after book in haphazard fashion, or do I want to be the author who prays over each written word, until God has helped me to write a masterpiece to share with the world?

I may never be a Susan May Warren or Janette Oke or Ted Dekker, but perhaps I might be a Harper Lee or Margaret Mitchell or Elizabeth Gaskell, encouraging the world one word–book–at a time. Slowly.

I made a glaring mistake in my above reply to the post! What do you think it is? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, and what I learned from replying to a blog post.

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Kind the Kitten

Recently, I saw a Kohl’s advertisement on Facebook, displaying attractive t-shirts for girls to wear to school. The t-shirts promote the non-profit Kind Campaign against girl-to-girl bullying. I like these styles, especially the gray one: Being Kind Never Goes Out of Style, and t he pink and white kitten shirt.

I immediately thought of another kind of kind — our gray and black striped kitten, Kind! We named this kitty Kind to help teach the little ones to be kind to him, and how to hold him properly. 🙂 When we named him Kind, I really thought it was crazy, naming an animal after a character trait. But, when the kids were actually nice to the kitty, I’m not laughing as much at this cute kitty. He really is the kindest kitten ever. 😀

So, looking for a pet name? Have little kids and want to teach them something that will stick with them forever? Name your pet a character trait! 🙂

What’s the funnest pet name you’ve ever heard of?

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Friday Fiction Book Review: Anchor in the Storm – Sarah Sundin


anchor in the storm book review

Book 2 in the Waves of Freedom series by Sarah Sundin. Once I opened to the first page, I couldn’t put this book down. Such a treasure of humor amid heartache, heroism, and when love comes from a heart that is focused on God. Sarah’s finest novel yet — well, they’re all wonderful — but this one left me with tears in my eyes.

Arch and Lillian fight inner battles with God and letting go of their own failures, until devastating events cause them to realize how important opening up to God really is. I love the depth of characters that adds to the depth of story. Over and over, I found myself nodding my head, saying, “Oh, that’s so true!” Sarah paints a realistic picture of what the heart really feels — and how much God can heal it.

I laughed, I cried, I gripped the edge of my seat with every page. And I can’t wait for the third installment — Quintessa Beaumont and Dan Avery!

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WWII hats

This is just a peek into my vintage hat collection — WWII pieces and a few from the 1950s. Interestingly enough, I found most of these hats at one auction back in 2009.

Post a photo of your favorite hat! I’d love to see it! (Does not have to be vintage.)

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Novel Writing: Town History, Part 4

It’s always fun to dig into the history of the town you’re writing about.

In my novel, To Rise, I incorporate into one of my scenes a delightful poem written by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr that encourages Laurie, my main character. (Since Laurie’s father is a writer, it’s only fitReinhold Niebuhrting that Niebuhr knows the family — writers unite.)whimsical map of Illinois

Granted, you’re thinking of “The Serenity Prayer,” but this is not the poem I’m referring to, because this well-known poem was published in 1951. And my novel is set in the 1940s. Definitely using the fiction side of historical fiction!

Doing a bit of research behind the author of the famous poem, I discovered that Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr grew up in Lincoln, Illinois. His father was the administrator of the Deaconess Hospital in Lincoln. One of his brothers, Walter, was managing editor of the Lincoln Daily NewsHerald newspaper, until he passed away in 1946.
Niebuhr children
Siblings, Left to Right: H. Richard, Reinhold, Hulda, and Walter Niebuhr
A theologian, Reinhold was Dean and Professor of Applied Christianity at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. His photo was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1948. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and was in the top 100 most influential people in the twentieth century (Life magazine, 1990).
So, the next time you’re writing historical fiction or reading historical fiction, appreciate the depth of research it took to create even a small scene to “get the facts just right.” It really adds meaning to the depth of the novel.
What interesting research have you read about, or uncovered?
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Standing Tall

novel marketing part 1The more I sifted through the maroon and wood Scrabble tiles, the more I realized I might have to put in a mystery tile to fulfill my Scrabble word choice for this post.

But I reallly wanted a maroon “k” to match my other letters!  And then something happened.

As I fingered the letters in my hand, the three-letter word “tal” flashed across my mind. Tall. Being a writer is like that. In the book world of self-marketing, writers must stand tall.

I wanted to share a marketing post about being comfortable with talking about yourself and your work. As introverts (some of us are, some of us are not, and that’s what makes us all successful together!), we are wallflowers with people we don’t know very well. Sometimes, it’s hard to jump out there and just say, “Hey! How are you?”

But I’m here to encourage you, that before you can talk about yourself, your writing, and our goals in life, you’ve gotta stand tall. Tall, with the courage that there are others out there just like you — just as timid, just as unsure, just as confused about this whole book and self marketing as you are.

So whether you’re going to a conference, venue, or just bumping into someone at the grocery store, use those moments to inquire after someone and listen, and then talk. You never know what’ll happen.
Former president Franklin Roosevelt said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And that fear, my friend, is the only thing inside you that’s keeping you from standing tall, stepping out, and snatching those goals, those dreams, that agent or editor. (Well, maybe not snatch the agent or editor because he/she snatches you, but I had to use alliteration, and that’s the word that came to mind!)

And so, take heart and take that flying leap! Stand tall. And talk.

And just as much leaping as it takes to talk, it’s also necessary to lip it and be silent. 😉

Now to leave you with the wise words of Mr. Churchill:

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. — Winston Churchill