Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Today is the official opening of the Romance Writers of American Conference in New York City. I arrived Sunday and spent Monday seeing the sights.
Yesterday, I stopped by the Love Inspired office on Broadway to say hello to the editors and look around at where all the books come together. The building was featured on the TV show, Ugly Betty. It's actually the old Woolworth's Building and fun to visit...right across from the Brooklyn Bridge. Everyone was so nice and it was a fun morning.
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
So many movies, so little time. I seem to be saying that a lot lately. Besides reading, hiking and herding the cats, going to the movies is one of my favorite adventures. I buy a small bag of popcorn, bottle of water, find my favorite spot in the first row of the second tier so I can put my feet up on the metal bar, and wait for the theatre to go dark.
So far this summer I’ve seen X-Men: First Class, Midnight in Paris and Super 8. The performances in the lead roles of X-Men: First Class were superb (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) and I always find that franchise’s message fascinating –do we embrace people who are different than us or fear them? Midnight in Paris was a surprisingly lovely film, clever, creative and inspirational, especially for artists.
I love films that inspire. A few of my favorites include Dave, Monsters Inc., The Kid, Remember the Titans and The King’s Speech (there is a PG 13 version, fyi).
What about you? Have you seen any movies that have inspired you? Do share!
Monday, June 27, 2011
So, what happened during the contest?
Friday, June 24, 2011
Did you ever get the feeling that we’re getting a little lazy as a society? Hi, all. Dana Mentink here. I recently thumbed through a catalogue and two products caught my eye. The first is a little device that stirs your pot for you with these magical little feet. Handy no? We all know how exhausting stirring that pot of marinara can be. The other item is a nifty underwear type garment which heats up so you can give your buns a sauna treatment without leaving your home. No joke. Apparently these Sauna Pants will induce sweating and hence, weight loss, around those pesky problem areas.
Perhaps these items struck me particularly, because I’ve been researching the California gold rush era. People risked illness, accident and all manner of catastrophe getting to the gold fields via perilous routes through Panama, around Cape Horn or via treacherous overland trails. Many arrived to find horrendous living conditions in mining camps, discrimination, back breaking labor and lawlessness before they found so much as a flake of gold. A hard life, with no guarantee of survival, let alone profit. These pioneers stirred their own pots and lost weight the old fashioned way. I’m going to remember these rugged ancestors next time I spill my latte or complain that my computer is too slow. Just put on your big girl sauna pants and deal with it, Dana!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I am away from home as I write this. I’m in Houston at my mom’s. A good friend lives here. She is my best ‘what if’ partner. When I started writing straight romance and could no longer rely on a murder and solving the mystery to drive my stories, so I had to come up with a new way to plot. My friend, Sharon, showed me another way to plot. Heroes & Heroines—16 Master Archetypes by Tammy Cowden.
A little light went off in my brain. Use the h/h to generate a plot. It is a fabulous book. It aided what I already knew and once I knew who my hero and heroine were, I used that book to fill out their personalities--giving them challenges and obstacles instead of solving the mystery. Those archetype are good frames to build my characters and story. Once I had the frame, my characters let me know who they were. I think I grew as author and it is a great writers resource.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Okay, last year had some lazy days of summer. I remember that we had long breakfasts on the deck, and leisurely afternoons reading...
Not this year. Ugh!
Apart from all the other usual summer happenings, like camping, Vacation Bible School and church duties, this year, we're having a wedding in our backyard.
Oh, how nice, you say? All right, okay, it is nice.
But the prep work this summer will kill my husband and I, I swear. We've planted sunflowers to bob and nod in front of the vegetable garden. I'm coaxing sweet peas to climb a trellis, and discouraging weeds from growing in all of the gardens. Part of the front lawn was chewed up last fall when we had geothermal installed.
The rest of the lawn needs mowing every four days and hubby wants all the dandelions out of the driveway. We have cats tearing up our front flower beds, so they will need to be replanted.
That's just outside. We have special menu items to prepare, above and beyond what the caterer is supplying and there will also be a shower here next month. My daughter has cacti growing all over my living room for the wedding. It's part of her theme. Did I tell you my daughter loves this house and wants all the events to take place here?
Oh, one more thing. I want to drop ten pounds but I'm a stress eater.
Lazy days of summer? I think not
This takes me back to one old hymn. One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus.
That's what I have to do. Take it one day at a time.
Ever had a summer like this? What did you do to survive it?
Monday, June 20, 2011
So, can we get a head count? Who will be there and who's teaching what?
Looking forward to seeing everyone!
Have a great Monday!
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Sounds simple. But if you've ever sat in a room full of nervous authors waiting for their turn, you'll soon learn it's anything but simple. For some, a lot rides on that initial meeting. It's not enough to just send in a query or proposal to the slush pile. Being able to write on that envelope that the material is "requested" hopefully gives that author the chance at a quicker read. Not always. But sometimes. Since it can sometimes take an editor a year or more to read through a manuscript, every little bit of time shaved off that wait is important.
What does an editor/agent appointment do?
*Gives you the opportunity to meet face to face with a professional in the industry that you may one day be working with.
*Gives you a chance to see the reaction from an editor or agent when you pitch your story. This isn't always a big deal since the ultimate test is the manuscript itself. But you can tell if the story idea has some weight by their reaction.
*Gives you a chance to see if you have a rapport with the editor or agent. This is especially true for working with an agent you may be working with down the road. You want to be able to have a good rapport in order to work together on your career.
*Gives you the opportunity to ask questions of the editor/agent about what they're looking for and what they are not interested in. This is always good for future manuscripts.
What an editor/agent appointment does NOT do?
*It does not guarantee a sale. Only the merits of the manuscript, the market conditions and the number of slots the publisher has to fill can dictate that. And even then it sometimes feels like you're climbing a slippery slope.
Things to consider...
If you are unpublished in romantic fiction, make sure you have a full manuscript finished, polished and ready to send out when you get that request. You want to strike while the iron is hot!
Also, if you're on the fence about whether to take an appointment or not. Do it! You never know what will come out of an appointment. I know several authors who sold their manuscripts as a result of meeting with an editor. And one author was not going to take the appointment but was talked into it by a friend. I personally received my first Avalon Books contract offer DURING an editor appointment. The editor already had the manuscript on her desk, but since it had only been there for 2 months I didn't think there was any reason to meet with her. I was wrong because that editor knew I'd be at that particular conference (I'd told her in the cover letter with the manuscript) and wanted to see my face when she offered me the contract.
Editor and agent appointments are never a waste of time, even if they don't pan out the way you originally intended. You never know where that editor or agent is going to be in 3 or 4 years or how that meeting will impact your career down the line.
Good luck and many blessings, Lisa Mondello
Thursday, June 16, 2011
My own first car was a 1973 Dodge Duster, which I drove for six years. Not particularly powerful, but that little 6 cylinder went airborne a couple of times.
You know that roaring sound cars on TV make when they leap into the air? They really do sound like that when all four tires leave the ground. Ahem.
So when I needed a particular muscle car for my new book (working title: Murder in Progress), I narrowed it down to either a 1968 Pontiac GTO or a 1969 Dodge Charger. I asked my FB folks to vote, and the GTO won, no contest. Sorry, Bo.
The car had to be orange. The front seat had to be wide-spread buckets. The back seat needed to be roomy, as did the front passenger floorboard. And in the first chapter, you get to “hear” that delightful roar.
But you’ll have to read the book to find out why.
More later. Promise.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Spring in the Pacific Northwest is amazing. Flowers are blooming, the sun pops out, and the weather is better than perfect!
What I enjoy most about Spring is that if feels like a rebirth of sorts, so I use this opportunity to set some goals for the next three months. Why just set goals on New Year’s Day?
So I’ll sit down with my notebook and jot down some things I want to do from now until mid September. I have writing projects on the list, plus health goals, and spending quality time with family and friends. So far my list includes: entertaining out of town guests, walking 4 days a week, finishing my current YA book and another Love Inspired Suspense.
It seems like when I set these three-month goals I get more accomplished, so I’m challenging you to set some goals of your own. What fun and productive things can you do for yourself this summer? Take a vacation? Volunteer at a new non-profit? Finish cleaning out that “scary” closet in the basement?
Let’s challenge each other to accomplish great things this summer!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Today we're welcoming RUSS MORGAN, the hero of BEHIND THE BADGE, SUSAN SLEEMAN, JUNE- 2011. Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense. I was just minding my own business on my way home from a really long day as the police chief for Logan Lake, Oregon when a call comes over the radio of shots fired just down the road from me. I was tired and little bit cranky if you want to know the truth, but I figured I should stop and see what was going on. Then I find rookie Deputy Sydney Tucker pinned down by a killer and she’s left her weapon in the car. In the car for crying out loud. What a rookie mistake. I had to rescue her and don’t you know when I saw her I started remembering how much I was attracted to her in high school. So when this killer keeps coming after her, I have to keep her in my sight so she doesn’t pull another rookie mistake and get herself killed.
2. So, during the book you met SYDNEY TUCKER. Tell us a bit about her. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love? Like I said above, I knew Sydney back in high school. She as a real beauty and when she asked me out back then, I wanted to agree to a date, but she was four years younger than me and it just wouldn’t have been right. So when I spotted her again that night, banged up, but still looking at me with eyes a man can’t ever forget, I remembered all the reasons I was once attracted to her. It took me a long time to know I was in love with her. I had some issues in life to work out before I could really even think about loving her. Then the killer decides to abduct her and as you can probably guess, I figured out how I felt about her real fast.
3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? I’m a great police officer. I don’t panic and can think logically even in tough times. I’ll go to the ends of the earth to do my job and uphold the law. I don’t like to talk about weaknesses. That’s kind of a girlie thing to do, but if you must know, I had a time in my past when I drank too much and though it’s in my past, I still have to watch myself.
4. What scares you? Well, if you’d asked me that before I met Sydney, who convinced me I needed to find my way back into my son’s life, I’d have said it sacred me to think my son would never forgive me for letting alcohol get the best of me and become the kind of father I detest. Now though, we’re back together and I guess with my future bride being a sheriff’s deputy, I’m afraid someone might take her out. Of course, I keep teaching her everything I know about being in law enforcement so that should help her stay safe.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Man, I don’t know. Another girlie question if you ask me. But maybe what Sydney says is true. That I always have to be right and she claims I’m not. Maybe I could work on that.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? Good question. It was there, but you know, I kinda let it slip. Not praying or going to church as often as I should.
7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
Well, you see, I had to come face-to-face with one of my worst fears. I had to decide between keeping the job that was my whole life and a relationship with Sydney. How do you make a decision like that? I mean, really, how? I couldn’t so I needed to ask God for a little help. Okay, I really had to surrender everything and let him take control of things. You know what? It wasn’t so bad. I mean, it was actually kind of liberating. I didn’t have to worry or keep questioning my life. I could just let go and know God works all things for good if you love Him. Hope other people figured that one out a lot easier than I did.
8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. I kinda mentioned that one above, but it’s such a good verse, I’ll give you the whole thing here. Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. I can now look at bad things and know God’s gonna work it out. I may not like how He does it, but I know it’s for my good. Makes bad things easier to take. You know what I mean?
9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? I thought you wanted a man’s perspective on things here. Comparing myself to a dessert is like asking me what kind of purse I want to carry so I’m gonna just skip this one if you don’t mind.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
So today, I thought we could have a little bit of fun with book titles--actually, less interesting book titles. Maybe like thousands of others, you caught the popular topic on twitter several days ago called Less Interesting Books. The idea behind it was simple: Take a popular book title and tweak it just enough to make the book a whole lot less interesting.
For example, The Great Gatsby becomes The So-So Gatsby. You can't wait to read the first. The second is ... well ... so-so. Here are some of my very favorites that were flying along twitter. Wish I'd come up with some of them!
1. Of Mice
2. Harry Potter and the Order of Takeout
3. Bored of the Flies
4. A Series of Not Too Shabby Events
5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce
6. Love in the Time of Chicken Pox
7. To Somewhat Offend a Mockingbird
8. Minor Discomfort and Casual Resentment in Las Vegas
9. The Grapes of Math
10. There’s Waldo
11. Where the Wild Things Were
12. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Artist Formerly Known as Prince
13. The Call of the Skittish
14. The Second to the Last of the Mohicans
15. Farenheit 72 - the thermostat wars in offices across the country
In all seriousness, all the laughs got me thinking about the importance of book titles. What if Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald had called his book simply Gatsby or Mark Twain had called his The Story of Huckleberry Finn? Titles have a power to draw readers, engage them from the get-go, and give them a reason to keep reading.
Take, for example, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. The title might not make readers bat an eye in modern book culture, but when this book debuted in the 1950s, it probably turned a few heads. When I was 8 and reading it for the first time, you can bet that I was way more fascinated in discovering who the witch was than I was interested in reading a book about blue dolphins. Speare's classic is still my all-time favorite book.
Titles tell a story of their own and are much more important than just identifying the story within. Now it's your turn to share! What book titles do you love? Are there any that you felt were misleading or not strong enough for the great book between the covers? What Less Interesting Book titles have you come up with?
Thursday, June 9, 2011
A pastor from the church we are working with spoke at our church. He and his wife shared stories that would break your heart -- yet gave such hope at the same time. God is on the move.
In storms like this, I think we see who we really are. How strong we really are. What our core values are. What we are fundamentally made of at the core of our existence.
Some people experience a massive tornado -- possibly the most destructive in United States history. But for most of us, the storms are other things. In the last few days a friend had a husband tell her he never loved her and their life together has been a lie. F-5 on the scale of storms. Another friend learned that her cancer returned, this time in her bones. Another F-5 shock. Yet another friend went in for an ultrasound and learned her baby had no heartbeat. An F-5. Another friend learned that she was being asked not to continue on a public project. A F-5.
I'm sure you've had something similar happen. And as writers we have to place our chracters in the middle of life's storms, too. We have to run them through the wringer and see what emerges on the other side. Who they become.
So what do we do personally? And what do our characters do?
Do we lean into Jesus and His promises? Or do we rail against Him and shake our fists at heaven? Do we sink into His loving embrace like my six-month-old curls into mine? Or do we go rigid and turn away?
Praying that whatever the storm in your life, that Jesus would be bigger, present, and still it.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tragic catastrophes show the fragility of our lives and the often uncontrollable power of nature. Faced with such widespread devastation, even the hardest of hearts often turn to God in supplication.
What have you learned from our recent disasters?
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
It’s Vacation Bible School at my church this week. It started last night. I’m playing the part of Eunice, Mary’s busybody neighbor, who always comes over when Mary has friends over – to be nosy, to talk about Mary when she’s not around, and basically to let the crowd know that I’m better than Mary.
It’s actually great fun. I’m wearing a plain gray dress with a tie belt. I have a scarf over my head. I’m wearing sandels. I took off my watch so I’d be in character.
Here’s the only thing I couldn’t do. I couldn’t get my nail polish off. See, I had a wedding a few weeks ago so I tried that new permanent nail polish. Well, it really is permanent. Nail polish remover didn’t so much as take off a nano of a smudge. I either have to go back and let them scrap the polish (and nail topping!) off or I let the nail grow and soon have a nail that is top-part polish, bottom-part fingernail.
This is a problem I’m sure Eunich didn’t have.
Are you having VBS, too? And, what are you or what have you done during VBS?
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Today we're welcoming Cara Madison, the heroine of Protecting Her Own by Margaret Daley, June 2011.
Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.
I am a bodyguard with Guardians, Inc. I have recently returned from an assignment in Africa and have come back to my hometown to help my father recover from having a stroke. But someone isn't happy with my father and has sent him a bomb for his birthday.
2. So, during the book you met Connor Fitzgerald. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
Connor was my high school boyfriend, but it didn't work out for us. We wanted different things in life so we parted. He was back visiting his grandfather when the bomb went off at my dad's house. Since Connor worked for the state police, he was brought into the case and into my life again.
3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
4. What scares you?
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I hadn't spent so much of my time trying to prove myself to my father.
My faith has been strong but after the incident in Africa, leaving a woman dead, I have been questioning my beliefs.
Without the Lord, I don't know if I would have made it through the attempt on my life. It was His strength I drew on.
8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
I love stories like this! I’m writing a three book series about a treasure seekers agency so this kind of story trips my trigger.
One man’s dusty old vase, is another man’s wildest dream come true. A brother and sister, cleaning out their uncle’s London bungalow after his death, came across a yellow and blue vase which they stashed precariously on a bookshelf during the packing. When they finally took it to a London auction house they were dumbfounded to learn it was a priceless Chinese vase made for the Qianlong Emperor. They were further floored when the thing fetched a cool 69 million dollars at Bainbridges auction house.
What kind of treasure would you like to discover?
Thursday, June 2, 2011
The summer means birthdays to me. My entire family has birthdays in June and July, and we cluster. Within 2 weeks time (July), there are 4 birthdays, my dad, daughter, husband and myself. If we include June, we add my mother and brother. My son is the only one who is a Feb baby, but his wife and brother-in-law are clustered then. So, summertime is birthday time. Does your family have months when all your birthdays fall close together?
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
And I have to learn to hit delete.
Nope, this isn't about how I think everything I write is written in stone. Indeed, I tell the kids at the school where I work, that only the Ten Commandments were written in stone.
But what I'm talking about is those things on the computer that steal your time. One boy at school finds the internet a huge temptation when he's supposed to be on line only to find out what colour a black-capped chickadee is, not posting to Facebook to tell everyone how much he hates Social Studies.
I know what a resource and time hog some things are. I downloaded a photo manipulation program and found it was stealing hours of my time, with very little success.
Oh, sure, there is that learning curve, but common sense has to take over at some point.
So I'm hitting delete. I'm deleting the program. I need to get outside and do some real work, instead of trying to put the most perfect moon into my picture for a possible short story cover.
Or else it'll take me longer to do the cover than write the story.
Sometimes we have to back off and look at our behavior on line from a different point of view. And this stuff is just innocent stuff. Imagine the 'other' stuff that goes on in other people's lives?
Is there some program for which you could hit delete? Is there some computer program that steals your time and for which you need to be critical?
Let's make June our critical evaluation month. Summer is nearly here and we should be reveling in it, not fooling around on the computer.