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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Interview with Laura Hamby

Laura Hamby, author of "Christmas Grace," has engaged in some Q&A with us today.

1) When did you start writing and why?

I've been writing forever. I've always had stories in my head, trying to escape. I started writing in my teen years, after I read my first historical romance. I wrote off and on for years. About 5 years ago, I decided to go for it-- I wrote an historical romance, found a community of writers to commune with, made friends, continued writing, and submitted *Sukie's Dance* to By Grace for their first Brides and Bouquets anthology. That was published in 2005.

2) What is your favorite place to write? Do you have any rituals?

I write at my computer. I like easy access to the internet in the event I need to do a dab of research, and I enjoy writing with company. I like to play music when I write, and have been known to listen to one CD over and over until a novel is finished.

3) What inspired you to write C.G.?

Oh, boy... I think Sheila mentioned needing Christmas novels/novellas, and I can't resist when she puts a bug in my ear. I should try to resist a bit harder, though. GGG. Inspired is truly the best way to describe C.G.-- I started with a premise and a setting, and as I wrote, it all unfolded before me. It could only end one way, and when I tried to resist the way the novella was heading, instant writer's block, so I wrote it the way my heart told me.

4) What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Don't be afraid to reach for your dream. Learn all you can about the craft, be open and teachable. Don't be afraid to stretch yourself. And grow a thick skin.

***Thank you, Laura! Readers can learn more about Laura at
her site.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas Grace

My fellow author Laura Hamby shares a highlight from her story in our upcoming anthology!

"Christmas Grace"

Former Southern Belle, Hannah Kelsey, now orphaned by the War Between the States, awaits patiently for news of her lone, surviving brother. A life that has been anything but easy is made more complicated by the Yankee soldier she finds lying in front of her cabin a few days before the Christmas of 1864.

The holiday season is a time for miracles as Hannah must hide wounded Union Captain Jeff Steffend, and protect her lonely heart from the kindness of the stranger. This war-weary couple need a bit of Christmas Grace to nudge them into each other's arms.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Christmas Presents!!

Congratulations to Teresa Warner of Toledo, Ohio, who won the Fall Beanie Drawing!!!

Thanks to all who entered!!

I would like to announce my new contest!!!!!

Instead of sending me an email message to enter the Christmas Beanie Drawing, I would like you to join the reader's group of my new publisher,By Grace Publishing. We will be talking about books all through December, especially the new Christmas anthology "Christmas Grace." This is a duet of stories, including mine called "The Scent of Falling Snow" and one by fellow author Laura Hamby.

I will be giving away 4 Ty Beanie Babies during the month of December, and Laura will be giving away her own prizes as well. Please join us in the fun here! It's free!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving. Here are a few nice words from Paperback Writer, who today shares
Ten Things to Help With the Holidays--read the rest at her site.

1. Butterball Help: If those of you in the U.S. need any advice on thawing, dressing or cooking your holiday turkey, call the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL by phone, or e-mail (e-mail response may take 24 to 48 hours.)

2. Grace or Thanks: Here's a short and simple prayer to say before your holiday meal: Bless us, O Lord, for these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Help us to be mindful of all our blessings, and the needs of those who have less. Amen. If you don't say grace at meals, you can ask everyone at the table to name something for which they're thankful, and why.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How Do I Know?

Thought this piece (excerpt) from really spoke to

by Bill Keller

This Devotional today is a deep one. One of the most frequent
people always ask, is how do I know what the will of God is for my
Much of the difficulty in determining what God's will is for our
life is
trying to separate our wants and desires from God's wants and
desires. This
is probably one of the most difficult issues you will ever deal with
in your
walk with the Lord and I just want to give you some basics to help
you in
not trying to conform God to your will, but for you to conform to
His will.

The only way you can begin to understand what God's will is for your
life is
to be in a daily, intimate, surrendered relationship with Him. It is
critical that you are spending time with the Lord every day through
Word, through prayer, and that quiet time where it is just you and
the Lord
in fellowship. That is the only way we can learn to hear His voice
so that
over time we are able to discern whether it is God speaking or simply
ourselves. I can't begin to emphasize enough how important it is to
take the
time each day to get alone with God and have that time of
fellowship. You
only begin to know God's will for your life when you really know God.

The key is you have to be at a place in your life where you are fully
surrendered to the Lord. You need to be able to say, "Lord, wherever
want me to go, whatever you want me to do, I am completely yours."
biggest hurdle to overcome in following God's will for our life is
the fear
of the unknown. What is my life going to be like if I follow God?
How will
my life be different if I really let God have His way? Trust me, He
you, cares about you, and only wants the best for you. God wants to
you and those blessings are found as we faithfully and obediently

The more we listen to God's voice, the more we obey and follow His
the less time we spend trying to force God to follow what we want to
do, and
the more time we spend trying to follow what God wants us to do. As
we grow
and mature in our relationship with the Lord, we find ourselves more
concerned with what God is asking us to do and we slowly begin to
make His
desires our desires. My friend, THAT is the time when you find that
place almost impossible to put into words. That place where your
have become God's desires. It is clearly no longer your will that
you seek
but it is His will.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Writing? Who has time for writing?

Today's post on Newbie's Guide to Publishing is so on the money---of course, the "other job" for me is extremely time-consuming, but it does pay the bills!

Being a writer these days is the career equivalent of ADD.

Years ago, in the days of typewriters (note to newbies: a typewriter was a device like a computer, but without a monitor, memory, or Minesweeper) writers could sit down at their desk and just write. Then, when they finished writing, they could write their next book.

These days, not so much. Temptations and other work-related activities abound for the writer. There are dozens of opportunities to slack-off without even getting out of your chair.

Writing blogs
Checking for replies on blogs
Checking for replies to your replies on blogs
Computer games
Checking email
Surfing the net
Message boards
Checking Amazon
And then there are the other requirements of the job:

Conventions, conferences, and festivals
Library and school talks
Stock signings
And, of course:

Other job

Read the rest here.

I get tired just reading the lists! Oh well, now I have to go actually write.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Veteran's Day

I was so busy raking leaves yesterday I forgot to post for Veteran's Day.

I would like to thank every man and woman who have served our country--we need you so much. Thank you for your sacrifices.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

For Teen Writers

Here is some practical advice for aspiring teen writers, fromWhatever

10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing

Dear Teenage Writers:

Hi there. I was once a teenage writer like you (see goofy picture to the right), although that was so long ago that between now and then, I could have been a teenager all over again. Nevertheless, recently I've been thinking about offering some thoughts and advice on being a teenage writer, based on my own experiences of being one, and on my experiences of being a teenage writer who kept being a writer when he grew up. So here are some of those thoughts, for your consideration.

I'm going to talk to you about writing as straight as I can; there's a possibility that some of what I say to you might come off as abrupt and condescending. I apologize in advance for that, but you should know that I sometimes come off as abrupt and condescending toward everyone, i.e., it's not just you. Also, I hope you don't mind if I don't go out of my way to use current slang and such; there's very little more pathetic than a 36-year-old man dropping slang to prove he's hip to the kids. I own a minivan and the complete works of Journey; honestly, from the point of view of being cool, I might as well be dead. You might find what I have to say useful anyway. Here we go.

1. The Bad News: Right Now, Your Writing Sucks.

It's nothing personal. When I was a teenager, my writing sucked, too. If you don't believe me, check these out: A short story I wrote in high school, and (God help us all) the lyrics to a prog-rock concept album I wrote in my first year of college. Yeah, they suck pretty bad. But at the time, I thought they were pretty good. More to the point, at the time they were also the best I could do. No doubt you are also pounding out stories and songs to the best of your ability... and chances are pretty good that your best, objectively speaking, isn't all that good.

There are reasons for this.

a) You're really young. Being young is good for many things, like being flexible, staying up for days with no ill effects, not having saggy bits, and having hair. For writing deathless, original prose, not so much. Most teenagers lack the experiential vocabulary and grammar for writing well; you lack a certain amount of perspective and wisdom, which is gained through time. In short: You haven't yet developed your true writing voice.

Now, if you're really good, you can fake perspective and wisdom, and with it a voice, which is almost as good as having the real thing. But usually, sooner or later, it'll catch up to you and your lack of experience will show in your writing. This will particularly be the case when you have a compelling, emotional story, which would require the sort of control and delivery of your writing that you only get through time. You may simply not have the wherewithal to express your very important story well. Yes, having a great story you're not equipped to tell pretty much bites. Normally, this is when teens look for help from the writers they admire, which brings us to the next reason your writing sucks. . . .

Read the rest at "Whatever's"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Caroling for Christmas. . . with Robin Lee Hatcher

I love to stock up on Christmas stories and begin reading them each November, and I've just read the first one for 2006. This is a book I would have picked up for either the author or the cover-- Robin Lee Hatcher is an "auto-buy" for me, and the cover is so warm and inviting I can't imagine passing it by! I wasn't disappointed in the story--as usual Robin tells a tale that involves your emotions and leaves you feeling good. "A Carol for Christmas" is her 50th published novel!

I first met Robin at a writer's retreat in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia a few years ago. At the time I hadn't made the change to inspirational fiction, but I enjoyed meeting her and was impressed that she treated all the writers, both new and established, with kindness and respect. I worked with her when I was the secretary for the Faith, Hope and Love chapter of RWA, and now follow her blog daily. After reading the other blogger's entries and finishing "Carol," I asked Robin the following:

Did you personally have musical aspirations?

I love music and have the heart of a great singer, but alas, not the voice. While I don't make people cover their ears and shudder when I open my mouth, I consider my singing to be closer to a joyful noise. I know my limitations. I took piano lessons as a girl and still pick out a few melodies, although it would take real practice for me to be any good at it. I also played the flute for a few years but that was long, long ago.

What do you listen to while writing?

While writing, I usually listen to movie soundtracks (no lyrics, just music). But I have an enormous collection of CDs and, since the advent of iTunes, a lot of singles as well. My musical taste is very eclectic. I listen to Bach and Mozart, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, Don Moen and the Newsboys, Elvis Presley and Barry Manilow. Music inspires me.

For more interview questions with Robin, check out these blogs:

Tricia Goyer
Girls Write Out
Author Intrusion

Some ending words from Robin:

In the final analysis, it isn't about me or my gifts. It's about Jesus. All that matters to me is, did I give it all up for Him? Did I live abundantly and with abandon in the beauty of His grace? When I reach the end of my life, I hope to be able to say, Yes, I did.

Visit her website and blog for an early Christmas treat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Silent Fellowship

We are told in the Bible to pray continually, but I really liked the way L.B. Cowman addressed this in her devotional book, "Streams in the Desert." As I sit at my desk and type these words, I am the little child she describes--

It is not necessary to be continually speaking to God, or always hearing from God, in order to have a communion or fellowship with Him, for there is an unspeakable fellowship that is sweeter than words. A little child can sit all day long beside his mother, totally engrossed in his playing, while his mother is consumed by her work, and although both are busy and few words are spoken by either, they are in perfect fellowship. The child knows his mother is there, and she knows that his is all right.

In the same way, a believer and his Savior can continue many hours in the silent fellowship of love. And although the believer may be busy with the ordinary things of life, he can be mindful that every detail of life is touched by the character of God's presence, and can have the awareness of His approval and blessing.