A Mighty Wind


I’m in editing mode right now as I am trying to get my next book released. Book 3 in the Winds of Redemption series, A Mighty Wind is coming soon. That means that I have very little time to write.

Which makes me a little sad because God has been teaching me SO MUCH!

I’m looking forward to sharing a couple in incredible downloads that God has given me recently, but for today, I MUST get back to the paper manuscript and red pen. (Yep, I’m old-school that way.)

The countdown has begun.

So to whet your appetite for you readers out there, here’s a little excerpt and the new cover to go with it…

When Amanda Grace Stiles senses a whisper from God to visit a hospital room where she works, she finds a woman lying in a coma. As she prays for the stranger, Amanda has no idea of the journey she’s embarking on with the woman’s past criminal life, or the friendship God has planned for them. Nor does she expect to fall for the handsome, hospital orderly that intersects their paths.

Tyrina Louise Duval nearly loses her life trying to save another, but even in her rescue, she can’t seem to be free of her horrific past.

As Amanda and Tyrina each experience joy, sorrow, and threats, they find that God’s plans are good even when they don’t understand.

Chapter 1

May 2007, New Orleans, Louisiana

The impression came at her with such force that she spun around to see who stood behind her. But the gift shop was empty. Amanda Grace Stiles first scanned the refrigerator holding bouquets of flowers, and then the shelves of get-well cards. Nothing. What did she expect? The small hospital store was usually quiet at this hour especially on a Monday evening. Visiting hours would be over at eight. Amanda glanced at her watch. Seven forty-five. She had planned to be home by eight fifteen tonight.

Room 236.

The whisper pressed into her heart. Again? He’d been sending her on these little missions more frequently these days. Not that she really minded. Amanda felt humbled that he would choose her. She wasn’t anyone special.

There was no mistaking the urgency in the request that compelled her to quickly finish up her closing duties and count the money in the drawer.

Now.

The unspoken voice came again. Not sternly, but with a sense of timely necessity. Amanda lifted her eyes to the ceiling and sent up a quick silent prayer.

Should I clock out early?

It could cost her job if someone caught her leaving. Closing early. What if a customer came in for something in those last few minutes? But she knew she had to heed the insistence she felt in her spirit. She was learning to obey when God spoke.


That’s all for now…look for A Mighty Wind to blow into print mid-November. And if you want to read book 1, When the Wind Blows and book 2, Where Blows the Wind, you can get them here. By the way, book 2 and 3 can be read in either order since book 2 is about Tyrina now and book 3 takes us back to where her life was saved.

Until later then…

What I Learned at Mount Hermon


Or, an attempt to encapsulate infinite amounts of wisdom in less than 800 words.

My Accommodations
My Accommodations

Mc Nair Wilson, our keynote speaker, inspired us as creative people to:

  • Be yourself. What do you do best? Who are you, really?
  • Take risks. Just start something. Everyone fails. You have before, you will again. Don’t fear it.
  • Challenge assumptions. God expects us to live in more abundance.
  • Stay Curious. Do what people think can’t be done. God’s name is I AM and He is holding you.
  • See differently. Write a story no one has written before. Do. You.
  • Be confident. God’s on your side.
  • Tell the why. Pay more attention to life.
  • Remember that Jesus showed us humor, humility and humanity.

About editors and agents.

Practice talking about your manuscript. Agents and editors expect you to be nervous so don’t fear them. Know your story well. Be prepared to answer their inquiries and be willing to ask them questions too. If an agent or editor has to tell you no, it isn’t personal, it’s about the right editor at the right publishing house at the right time. Don’t give up!

About the craft of writing.

The Scenery
The Scenery

The four D’s:

  • Desire sets our protagonist on a particular path that pulls the reader through the book.
  • Distancing happens with each conflict that knocks her off the path.
  • Denial is the point when it seems that our character will never attain her desire.
  • Devastation goes beyond denial, pushing our character back to the beginning.

A boring or confusing story is actually a symptom of a writer not having a concrete desire with high stakes for each of his main characters. We can approach our story with this simple formula:

   Protagonist wants (action words – verb) so that (specific result or outcome).

For me, it’s actually much harder than it seems. Being specific propels the character through the story, but that same specificity feels elusive to pin down. I’m still working on it.

  • Use restraint and control with our words. (Rein ‘em in boys!)

Our sentence structure needs to keep the tension taut like a rubber band during our story. Too many words weigh our story down and alleviate the tension. We may lose our reader. Make it easy for our reader to remain engaged. Anything that stops the action (or forward momentum) is a reason for our reader to stop reading.

  • Use sentence rhythm.  (Who knew?)

Our sentence rhythm needs to match the beat of the action in the scene. The sentences should reflect what is going on in our character. High action or nervous tension?  Use short sentences. Complex sentences make the reader wait to get to the action. Don’t make your reader wait. There is a fine line between suspense that engages the reader and frustrating our reader by not giving enough detail. Each sentence should answer a question and raise another one.

  • Show, don’t tell. (We’ve heard this before, right?)

We want our reader to feel the scene not just read about it. Use all five senses and chose your words and their placement for the greatest impact. Split up descriptions and place them strategically to show without stopping the action. Add emotion by showing it in the dialogue and action of the characters without explaining or naming it.

And finally, about characters.

One of Many Bloomers
One of Many Bloomers

Point of View

Pretend there is a camera attached to the side of your POV character’s head. He can’t see himself (don’t cheat with a mirror), only what he would be looking at or thinking. Limit your point of view changes to new scenes. You personalize your characters by the way they perceive a setting or scene.

Dialogue

Knowing your characters intimately will help you create real dialogue that shows who they are without tags. Try taking out all the speaker attributes and see if you can tell who is speaking. Use action wherever possible and only add in “he/she said” when necessary to avoid confusion. Long, uninterrupted speeches aren’t natural. (Okay, maybe only for me …just ask my husband). Keep it short.

One parting note…

My mentoring group teacher, Brandilyn Collins pointed out to us that when we evaluate our own writing, we judge it based upon the same level of craftsmanship with which we wrote it. Therefore, find a more experienced critique partner (or professional editor) to help you discover the deeper issues you may be missing in your writing.

Phew. I made it. Only 760 words.  And that was only the first day. (Just kidding)DSC_0052

Any tips you’d like to share with the group?

The Dreaded Book Proposal


The time has come.

A little over a year ago, after hearing about the book I was writing, an author friend suggested I find an agent. I didn’t feel ready. In fact, I felt completely inadequate as a writer with so much more to learn, that while I felt encouraged by her advice, I simply couldn’t follow it at the time. Six months ago, a well known author critiqued a portion of my first novel at the Mt Hermon Christian Writers Conference and indicated that I should consider looking for an agent and thinking about which publishing house I’d like for my contemporary fiction manuscript. Her advice forced me to embrace the idea that perhaps the time was nearing for me to look for an agent.

I can’t put it off any longer.

I’ve finished the first book and with eighty pages written on the novel, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m at the point of needing to write a proposal to find an agent. Can I just say that writing two books has been easier?

I described the situation to my seventh grade daughter like this…

Imagine you are given an assignment (let’s say a paper to write for your language class…). You’ve spent many hours constructing this piece of writing. You’ve written, re-written, had it critiqued, edited, re-written (the fifteenth time now) and finally you like it enough to turn it in. BUT before your teacher will accept your paper, you must write a compelling letter (query) with only enough information and intrigue to make her want to see a summary of your assignment (proposal).

If your teacher decides your letter is persuasive enough, she may ask you to submit the summary of your paper. You hope this is the case.

Now the situation gets even more difficult.

This summary must capture her attention. Each sentence must lead her to the next, and the next creating a longing in her to see your full assignment. (No pressure here!) What if it’s too short? Or too long? How many pages exactly is a “summary”? Do you have enough information to leave her feeling confident with your ability to write, or is it too much and boring her? What details are imperative to create a good feel for the storyline and which are superfluous? What other papers have been written about your topic? Are they same, or different and in what ways? Finally, do you write the author bio in first or third person??

Wow, Mom! That’s intense! I’m glad I don’t have to do my schoolwork that way.

To which I answered, “So am I sweetheart. So am I. Now you know why I put up my little sign that announces, “I’m in my zone. Please do not disturb.”

She got it.

For all of you out there who have written, are writing or still dread the day when you will finally have to write…a book proposal, I salute you. I admire you. Nice job. Keep it up. Don’t delay (it may take longer than it did to write your book). May you find an agent who feels compelled at the “Dear Sir.”

What is your book proposal writing experience? Have you found ways to make it easier?
 

A great resource: http://michaelhyatt.com/writing-a-winning-book-proposal

No Glamour Here


It’s not always glamorous…imagine your worst day, and know that’s going to happen twice a week.

Yesterday, confidence reigned as I finished some editing, worked on a novel, and began adding my husband’s latest contribution to our book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters. Tasks were moving along so well, I hummed as I typed. We were making progress.

My book proposal creation was moments away from commencing, when…

I copy pasted Brendan’s section into my manuscript and a blasted black line appeared across the bottom of the page. No worries. I’ll simply delete it, I thought. But, it wouldn’t budge. I checked my formatting and nothing indicated the reason for the black line. Apparently, it didn’t exist. Highlighting it, I then right clicked and hit delete. Nothing. Every way I knew to remove it proved futile.

I sent a message to my husband stating, “We have a problem here. I can’t get rid of the black line. How did you make it??”

He had simply used the underline key. No big deal. We’ve all done it hundreds of times, but this time the black line refused removal. Brendan couldn’t even dislodge it from his own document! Even when I copied only the first paragraph, the mysterious line appeared. Of course. Because only minutes prior to the cursed black line, I had been moving along at a great pace. (FYI – problem still not solved).

My situation reminded me of the above quote by Sunny Goode (DIY magazine, Spring 2012). It gripped me when I first read it because of its stark reality. Initially, her perspective even felt a bit discouraging. But Sunny went on to explain that she loves what she does so much, she can deal with a couple of bad days a week. I actually agree with her.

Yesterday’s challenge threw me into frustration mode temporarily.

But I love writing, and I can’t stay discouraged permanently when I get to do what I love. Even with the reality that I’m going to have at least one or two rough days each week; and somehow, figure out how to get rid of that black line.

What is your reality with writing? What discourages you? Do you love it enough to keep at it, even when it’s your worst day?