Monday, December 21, 2009

Blog Contest Winners!

Now that the Blog/Loop contest is ended, it’s time to award prizes. I’m pleased to announce there isn’t one winner of the African coffee – there are three!

Congratulations to Mindy, Michelle Sutton and Janny Butler who answered the scavenger hunt questions 110% correctly and won. Woot!

Coffee will soon be winging its way to you. Mindy, I’ll need your snail address. I have the others.

The rest of you -- next time I announce a contest, I reserve the right to award prizes as liberally as I want. So--enter next time. You've been warned. Aloha.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Desert Breezes Blow a Contest Your Way

Those of you who know my writing already are aware that most of my characters are coffee-a-holics.

This isn't bad, it's GOOD! We who enjoy coffee know there are a few primo varieties in the world, and the rest of the time we buy at the grocery store.

Now, for anyone brave enough to come here to this blog, or savvy enough to know my Desert Breeze stories, here's your challenge: answer either one of the following questions and win a nice sized bag of ground Kenya AA coffee (best there is IMO)

1) why is my blog named ? Short answer is good enough.

2) name any "pair" of the lovey-dovey characters in my Desert Breeze books. They don't have to be the coffee-chugging ones.

Okay, get crackin' and win some Joe!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Time to Hunt!

This month I'm participating in Desert Breeze's "Scavenger Hunt." What fun!

Now, if you've been following this, you already know my buddy Michelle Levigne posted my question: Who is the "angel with the ray gun?"

And those of you who've read that book already know the answer is: Matt. Hee heee. Bet you thought it'd be a GIRL angel, right?

But onward & upward! Your next question is: what make and model Oldsmobile is Shawna Williams? Find out, and keep hunting:

Keep hunting & have fun!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Prairie Dogging

At last, this rodent pokes her head out of the burrow. She blinks at the bright morning sun. "Wha--? Whaaaa??"

That's right -- Rewriteville is now in my rearview mirror. All I need to do is a quick re-read this morning, and this afternoon SEASONS goes back to the publisher.

I mentioned earlier I'd never done a major rewrite before. Looking back, it wasn't quite as fraught as I feared it would be.

That's not to say I wish for MORE opportunities to gut the entire middle of a book and rework the plot. Oh, no, that'd be untrue. It was a hassle...

Just not the extreme hassle I thought it would be.

As requests for changes come from a publisher, though, there are times to graciously accommodate and times to dig in your heels. I had both in this rewrite. The publisher wanted me to include a plot to overthrow the king of England, crafted by an earl who was an actual historical person. I did some digging on this guy and realized I couldn't blacken his name this way. He started out loyal to Edward III and stayed so, and enjoyed high favor, throughout his life. That particular request for a change I had to decline. So instead I rewrote to tell how one of this earl's vassals attempted to draw the earl into a plot, and failed.

I think it'll make it a better book. But as my very first editor once told me, "If a suggestion I make goes *clunk* in your heart, mind, or spirit, skip it and move on." Good advice.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Change of SEASONS

That's right--SEASONS IN THE MIST, the time-travel romance that's been percolating through the writing/submission/ publishing process for many months, is just about revised and ready to send back to Sheaf House. I finished the substantive work yesterday, so the coming week is for tweaks, polishes and a final re-read.

Why rewrite, do you ask? Good question. The publisher thought the middle was "flat."

So I rewrote. It's the first time I've done such a thing, though I've heard other authors moan about rewrites. I did feel their pain, but since I'd never been asked, it didn't affect ME, now, did it?

God uses such things to keep us humble.

Since that's true, SEASONS has morphed into something a little different. There is now a political subplot to the story, and the tension between Lord Mike the Hunky, Lady Bethany Who Tells Lies, and Hairy-Nosed Git Brother is now ratcheted way, way up.

I think it's a better book now.

Stay tuned. The new, improved version is already available for preorder on Amazon and CBD. It'll be released in April.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Freebie!

More coming up for YOU. My publisher, Desert Breeze, encouraged all its authors to send recipes in--either dishes our characters enjoy in our books, or stuff that just tastes good.

The great part is, starting Sunday 11/1, our compiled cookbook will be available free of charge on the Desert Breeze website (

Get over there and see what's cooking!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taking My Own Advice

A bit more "what's in it for YOU"ish stuff. Today, while laboring diligently in the Revision Pit, I got permission from my publisher to post a teaser excerpt from SEASONS IN THE MIST. It's on my web site. Take a look--tell me what you think.

And remember: it's for YOU and it's free! LOL.

Interested? Get thee (as Janny recommends) to my site, and click on the "sneak preview" button on the lower left hand side.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Giving It Back

One of the most meaningful sessions at the recent conference I attended was Chip MacGregor's talk on mentoring. He says we often get this "woo-woo" thing going on that makes us think we cannot serve one another in this way.

To be a mentor, one must be up on a high pedestal? Wrong.

To become a mentor, you must formally enter into such a relationship? Wrong.

He said, and this is my paraphrase so it's only what I heard, maybe not what he said: we must only be a step or two ahead on the path, in order to give a hand to someone climbing it.

I like that idea. Okay, I'm not one of those "name" authors everyone recognizes when she walks into a room. I haven't got a swackload of big-publisher credits.

But I recognize I am a step or two further along the path than some other folks. So, in the spirit of the "what's in it for YOU" thrust of this blog, I may scoop out some experience or knowledge and serve it up here.

Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry...I hope you will find a scoop to your taste.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why a Conference?

As part of the "what's in it for YOU?" refocusing of this blog, I'm here to offer some reasons to consider attending one of the major writers' conferences.

Yes, there's expense involved. Yes, the logistics of getting-there-and-back can be daunting, given the travel environment that certain Radical Elements have gifted us with since 9/11/01. But I submit that the benefits can outweigh all this.

First, at a conference such as ACFW's just-concluded annual event, you can learn how to take your writing to the next level. No matter what abilities as a writer you already have, there is a session or seminar that talks to YOU, where YOU are at in your craft-acquisition mode. Beginner? Fine. There are plotting sessions and "up the tension" sessions and even sessions (can I yerk now?) on creative ways to write the Dreaded Synopsis.

Have you sold a book or two? Sessions are offered which will tell you what to expect next. That talk of marketing, of publishing-as-business, of promo and blog-savvy and website development.

Are you multi-published? Sessions discuss how to give back to the writing community, how to mentor newer writers, how to "pay it forward" in creative ways. It's humbling to listen to writers more accomplished than I, talk about how to pass along what they have learned, to the benefit of others.

If you get the chance, go. It can be stressful but so are all good things. My take is that it's worth it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Just Sell the Story

Next week (can it be so soon already? Yeeks! I'm not done!), a large number of authors, publishing industry representatives, and newcomers to Christian fiction writing will gather in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference to compare notes, learn from each other, and encourage one another in the pursuit of publishing goals.

This year’s conference theme, "Standing Firm/Moving Forward", is intended to inspire the full range of talent and dreams in the ever-changing publishing world today.

The conference features epresentatives from major publishing houses like B & H, Guideposts, Zondervan, Harvest House, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press, Bethany House, Waterbrook Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, Tyndale House, and Thomas Nelson, and top literary agents who will meet with writers and identify promising proposals from both new and veteran novelists. Conferees will have access to publishing panels, professional critiques, and customized workshops based on skills and interests.

The keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, who has more than 100 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Learn more about the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference by visiting Click on the left sidebar on Annual Conference.

I have to admit, I attend this conference primarily because I always learn a great deal. Add in the friends I've made, both across the nation and locally, and it's a big hit with me and my buddies.

Anyone with questions, post 'em here -- as part of the What's In It For YOU campaign on this blog, I'll answer 'em or find someone who can.

Now where did I put that pitch sheet for my hope-to-sell-book?

Monday, September 07, 2009

What's In It For YOU?

What I need is one more thing to do...LOL. But I've been mulling this blog. Wondering about you, my readers. What do I do on this blog that's for YOU?

Not so much. Yet. But my thinking is leading away from talking so much about me and what I'm doing. I want to get into things YOU want to hear about, maybe even open up some fruitful discussion.

Look for changes.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Autumn Reflections

In my part of the world, spring is an elusive maiden and summer a short-tempered brat. We look forward to the warm seasons through all the dark, cold months. When spring hits, it lasts about twenty minutes. Right after that it gets HOT!

Autumn comes more gradually, like a gentle and kindly aunt. It encourages us to take time to catch our breath, to look back a little, to take stock on what we've done, where we've succeeded and failed. We reflect on what we wanted to accomplish during all those glorious days of summer, and didn't get done. When the leaves turn and life closes in a bit, it offers opportunity to reflect, consider.

When the leaves hang heavy and red, when the air smells like apples and holds a tang of the coming chill, it is time for a picnic. Fried chicken, salad and a pie don't seem so much of a hassle to whip up. The salads and cold fruits of summer yield to more robust fare, but we can still take it outdoors and enjoy before the weather nips at our cheeks and makes outdoor life less desirable.

Our hardwood trees take a two-week breath as summer ebbs, hold their green a second longer, then burst into glorious tan, gold, russet and every hue in between. If the giant trees can take a breath for a moment, why shouldn't I?

When autumn comes, I regain my spark to create. This tendency is a hangover from my school days, when everything in September became new and challenging. Stories form in my head and beg for life on the computer screen. Characters I thought abandoned whisper new perspectives. "Come on!" they whine. "It's fall now, time for us to shine!"

This year I'm building a medieval lighthouse for my front yard. I have no formed plan for this impulse, but I know it will come together once I find a concept and choose materials. I am determined it will shine its gentle solar-powered light before the dark, long nights of winter. I believe it will tell me a story, before it's done.

John Denver, in one of his songs, said, "To change is to be new. To be new is to be young again." Come on, autumn! Time to celebrate.

Friday, August 28, 2009


This is what we arrived at (less me than the incomparable folks at Sheaf House). I'm thrilled, awed, happy, humbled, thankful. Isn't it beautiful?

For me, they captured exactly the right mood. Good fiction ought to evoke the same strong emotions as good music -- they ought to make you feel. This cover does. I hope the book lives up to its skin. I trust in God that it will.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Cover-to-Be!

My publisher sent the proof of the cover for SEASONS IN THE MIST. They want the cover done early, because the spring catalogs need to get whipped into shape now. Who'd have believed it?

The cover is a honey. Truly. The designer got the mood just exactly right. She wants to tweak it a little more, so I can't share it quite yet. I'm so pumped, though, that if I could post it, you'd be admiring it with me. As soon as I can, I will.

Rejoice with me!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


This weekend I hit a mental milestone on THE PEDDLER'S PACK: 20,000 words.

Never mind that I have not yet figured out how to give my hero a life as a peddler. Oh, no--the locals all think he's a knight who's lost most of his gear in a shipwreck off the rocky coast of Cornwall. How do I get him from swordless chevalier to competent merchant? I have no idea, though bubbles of a solution are beginning to form in my brain.

Plotting is always a challenge for those of us who write seat-of-the-pants. What about the rest of you? How do you get your charming characters from point A to point B, and beyond, when you've written X amount of the story, hit your milestones, and you've no idea how to get them to "the end"?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Light and Dark

Life is like that, isn't it? Just when you're cranked and excited about some good news (see previous post), the Dark Side kicks in.

I was thrilled a few months ago when a rather high-profile romance review site agreed to review ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN. Today the review appeared.

The grade? C. The remarks? "Disappointing" and other such. The story didn't work for the reviewer, I get that. But I hope this won't sour others on the book.

I had high hopes for this review. Alas, one woman's A+ is another's C. Them's the breaks.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

ANGEL flies to the Eppies!

I'm humbled and honored. My publisher, Desert Breeze, has decided to enter three books in EPIC's "Eppie" awards for '09. ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN will be one of the three!

Sandra Sookoo's WINNER TAKES ALL and a vampire title by Jay Morgan are the other two titles. This is major even if one of us finals, and I'm so grateful for the chance.

EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Internet Connection, runs this award program. The Eppie is really the only major award for e-books. ACFW doesn't want them and we all know RWA turns up its collective nose. So I'm really thrilled for all three of us. It's incredibly heartening just to know our publisher thinks our books can stand against many another great title.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Time Portals, Cats, etc.

href="">funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Pity, isn't it, that cats weren't generally kept as pets in the middle ages. Dogs, yes, although those were mostly working animals. In my reading right now I'm concentrating on medieval ways that were NOT of the upper class, and learning a great deal. See, the heroine in THE PEDDLER'S PACK is not going to be a fair lady with a delicate silken veil and well-kept hands. I'm not sure yet what she will be, but she'll be a yeoman's daughter, or a middle-class farmer's, or a merchant's. Someone who's used to hard work, and very practical. So I doubt she'd have a cat.

I miss Cat Kelly Kinnard very much. In June Cat Kelly went to that big Tuna Feast in the Sky. I do miss her. Maybe my heroine will be iconoclastic and a bit defiant, and keep a kitteh just because she likes it.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

DK's Muse, a Fickle Brat

If ever there was one...mine takes the prize.

I got an idea for a new story. Fine, say I, and go open a new Word document to start making story notes. I use MS One-Note when I want virtual 3x5 cards, but when an idea germinates I'm not ready for those yet, so I just scribble down random thoughts.

Good, huh?

Not so fast. My husband is sometimes very good (read: TOO good) at giving me story ideas. I wish he'd warn me when something's brewing in his head, though. It's always timed wrong. Anyway, along comes this same husband and starts talking about an idea for ANOTHER time travel, and this time it's a guy who does the traveling. The character's a medieval re-enactor in this day, and thinks he's cool and competent. But he gets to the middle ages and is VERY surprised at what he sees. The locals are Not Impressed. My main character, though passionate about his re-enactment efforts, is nowhere near as authentic as he thinks he is.

Wham! Scuttle project #1 and start scribbling notes for time travel project #2, which in the process morphs to a time travel piece that's a sequel to SEASONS IN THE MIST.

How in bejabbers did that happen?

Don't ask me why. This muse is a fickle brat and that's for sure. But I'm making character notes and writing furiously now, have it well into chapter 2 in first draft, and by the Rood this thing is humming!

Working title: THE PEDDLER'S PACK. Wish me bonne chance!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Book Sale

Pleased to report that my contemporary "second chances" book, DAMAGES, will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing next April.

I love this story. It's about its sixteenth incarnation, where a man recovering from the loss of his disastrous first marriage, embarks on a second for all the wrong reasons. Probably this "mistake" factor is the reason it didn't sell in the mainstream Christian markets. That's fine. Sort of. In any case, I'm glad to see this book get a chance out there, and hopefully engage some readers in a story I like a lot.

There are thematic elements I'm told the Christian reading public won't tolerate. In ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN an early reader told me the main character should be shown praying more. I considered this, but didn't change it much. You see, a "more prayer" theme didn't actually advance the story. And story rules all. In DAMAGES, I was told the marriage-by-mistake theme would turn off readers.

Do Christians make mistakes? Sure. I do, and I don't think I'm atypical. It's how I show the Lord working through these characters' lives that matters. The development of the characters, getting past their less savory decisions, growing in Christ -- that's the story. If the idea that believers make mistakes, even in major life-decisions, turns off some readers, so be it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing What You Know

We've all heard this one, haven't we? "Write what you know about." Good advice in all circumstances, right?


What happens when what you know about is boring?

I'll shed a little light here. I'm smarting (well, not as badly as earlier on) due to a "no-thanks" from a publisher I hoped would pick up PEACEWEAVER. Its problem was apparently not the writing, or I expect the editor would've mentioned that. The problem was the setting. Nobody is going to read a novel set in Wales in 973.

Um. I would.

Anyway, getting past this a bit--my contemporary novels are "write what I know" as far as setting. Now, I don't live in a sleepy southern town with lots of tradition and "hey, how y'all doin'?" feeling. I live in a suburb of a congested, irritating big city. My burb is where I was raised. It's what I know. I can get around on foot or on my bike, and I know where the best bike routes are, the wet places after it rains, and why you shouldn't trust the forest preserve at night.

But this isn't interesting! I'm wondering now whether my contemporaries are being turned down by larger houses simply because of setting. I've made up my own Illinois small town that I use in two published books, and I love going to DeBrett. For my WIP, it's Shelley, Iowa, which also lives only in my mind, but is modeled on a small town.

But the romantic settings? The small town with a native's feel for how people there live and interact? Those are not mine to offer. I do, of course, have my very own burb...

Monday, May 25, 2009


No, not a new sale. But possibilities. I'm back working on A ROSE IN LATE OCTOBER, the central-Iowa set two-unwilling-partners-in-a-landscaping-business book. I'm into third (or sixteenth?) round edits on it, hoping to flesh it out from an unfinished 45K words to a nicely rounded 75K. I know what the plot is, and how the subplot will develop. I'm reading it now for nitpick edits and for story, both, and that's tough for me to do. Since this blog is out here to urge people to concentrate first on STORY, I need to take a dose of my own advice. My job now is to get a handle on story: what I've already written and what I still need to write in order to tell this particular tale as it should be told.

Oh, and did I mention I have an entire chapter or two (which I need) on a 3" floppy that the pooter will no longer read? Aaargh!

The question here is: does this story still interest me enough to finish and put it out on proposal? Reading along, I'm finding areas that could be fun if better developed, and I'm finding I still like the story. Enough to go the distance? I don't know. What does an author do who is on a deadline, who's sold a three or six book deal and finds that her story ideas just aren't that riveting just now?

I don't know. Not sure I want to find out. I suspect I already have an idea...she girds her loins, so to speak, and sits down to WRITE...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Sale, and the Abuse of Power

Smile with me! A previous release entitled MY SILENT HEART has been picked up for reissue. ANGEL WITH A BACK HOE will come out October 1 with Desert Breeze Publishing. I couldn't be more thrilled. In many ways this was the book I thought might sell first, and it didn't, and I really never got a sense of why. Now it has a chance to fly once more, and I'm smiling.

As far as topic #2: recently a person known to me was abused by an organization I will not name. Now, I don't know both sides of the story, so I cannot know all the facts. But the fallout made my mouth drop. I will say this much and then hold my tongue: no professional organization, or those in power within it, should feel they have the right to intrude on a private conversation, and abuse or blackball the speakers. They have no RIGHT even to weigh in with comment on that conversation, since they were not party to it and cannot know the facts.

The law has a provision called "standing." In our legal system, you must have an interest in an issue, in order to be heard by the court. This interest creates legal "standing", and once you have it -- and only then -- have you the right to be heard.

These people abrogated that right to themselves, and in so doing, and their subsequent actions, violated the trust that leaders must maintain. I must comply with the bylaws of this organization, but in my heart these individuals no longer have my trust. They are leaders in name and not in spirit, and in my heart they will not be trustworthy again, absent a public and sincere apology.

I wish those involved nothing but peace. But God's law is not mine, and I feel there will be justice in His timing and in His fashion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Way Things Are, or, Earning the Right to Be Heard

This is going to be a long post, longer than some, but I hope all three of you will bear with me. It'll be worth it, I hope.

Recently I visited a writer's blog. No names...I'd heard from this writer on a different blog some time ago. I read a current post or two, which seemed to contain writing advice. Some of it seemed, well, a bit hinky, some not well phrased, some rather authoritative about the small press world.

Hmm, thought I, better go & check who publishes this writer.

Turns out: no publisher as yet. She is totally self-published.

When I was a kid, we talked a lot about our Christian witness. About how it wasn't enough to stand on a street corner and yell about Jesus. We might want to grab someone by the lapel, shake them, and screech, "You need to hear about this wonderful Lord I serve!"

We agreed that wasn't the way. No--instead, we had to earn the right. We needed to bear witness AFTER we had established our good faith, with/to folks we knew. There should be some mutual trust. Mind you--handing out tracts on streetcorners is great in its place. But a deeper witness should result in a life-change for our hearer, and before this happens, we should earn the right to speak.

This author, IMO, has not yet earned that right. Before you tell me about The Way Things Are, particularly in a marketplace I've learned so much about in recent years, particularly in a small press world where I have sold books and you have not...

You get the drift. I won't be visiting her blog again. Your mileage, of course, may vary, but to me she has not earned me as an auditor.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Free Books!

It's official -- ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN will fly once more as an e-book, from Desert Breeze Publishing. Target release date is May 1, but I'll get firmer information out to you as I receive it.

What's even nicer, if you go to the Desert Breeze web site and sign in as a reader (it's free), before April 30, you get into the free book giveaway.

Reading -- good books -- no charge -- what could be a better combination?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ANGEL Takes Wing!

Woot! ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN has found a new home! Desert Breeze Publishing will release it on or about May 1 (this year!) as an e-book.

I'm pleased as can be. I told myself not to get my hopes up too high. Reissues are notoriously difficult to place. My agent says so, and she knows.

E-publishing: been there before, and the upside of this book's release is that e-books are much higher profile now than when I first sold one in '02. The big publishers are starting to realize the potential of this market. And then there's Kindle.

So watch for bigger things from e-publishing. With the economy so uncertain, publishers seem to be re-assessing how they get content out there, and the future of the e-book looks brighter than before.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valen Times Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

My contribution for your enjoyment.

What! you say. It's a day late!

Get a lawyer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ANGEL Flies Again (Maybe)!

More excitement here at Casa Chaos. An e-press to which my cherished editor referred me, is okay with the idea of reissuing previously published books! I finally cobbled a query together for my "fun book", ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN, and the publisher liked the excerpt! She asked for the full, which I duly and obediently sent off today.

So ANGEL may stretch her wings yet again. I'm hopeful, but in this economy, not banking too much on the idea of a deal.

However, it would be nice to make a sale in this run-up year before SEASONS IN THE MIST releases. Very nice indeed.

Hope for me!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's the Time of the "Seasons"

Hurray! I got all required edits done on the sold book, SEASONS IN THE MIST, and sent it off to the publisher.

My pub has given me such good suggestions on this book--they have made it a much better story. I declined one recommendation 'cause I didn't really feel it was needed, but otherwise I incorporated everything she said. I like this book. I really like it.

Done enthusing now. Until further suggestions come, or until I get my galleys, this book is now put to bed...time for further work on PEACEWEAVER, methinks.

Although I DO have a germ of an idea for a SEASONS sequel...