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Faith. Fun. Forever.

Hi all!

I’m actually writing on a deadline at the moment, but took a time-out for some dinner and was thinking of you.

You may have noticed the design change. If you haven’t read my Books page, I’ll fill you in. 🙂 (So I’m lazy. The next few paragraphs are copied right from my Books page. Not even gonna.)

I’ve always been drawn to humorous love stories. I love the deep, meaningful books full of gorgeous prose and imagery, but each time I try to write in that vein, I get stuck. Kind of like God is trying to tell me that He has other plans for me. Instead, I play the comparing game and think that if I don’t write the deep prose, I’m not as talented or hard-working as those other authors.

Lies, my friends.

I was at a coffee shop, brainstorming with three other authors yesterday morning and mentioned this to them. One of them, a very dear friend, said that there is a place for humorous love stories, especially in the lives of those going through some very difficult bible-896220_640times. (End of copying! The rest is fresh from my heart tonight.)

Obviously, my faith makes me who I am. I’m a work-in-progress. A messy, imperfect woman who loves Jesus and wants to share the joy of loving Him with others. So it’s just naturally going to come into play in my novels. I can’t help it. And I don’t think He wants me to. 🙂 (And that picture there includes coffee because it’s one of my favorite loves.)

The “fun” part? Well…I love humor! I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? And quite honestly, I’m terribly hilarious. 😉 At least, that’s what I tell everyone. Whether it’s true or not…. But bridal-636018_640really, I hope to get others to laugh, or at least smile, while reading my books. I want that woman who is sitting through a chemo appointment to smile and have her mind taken off what’s being put into her veins to help her be healed. I want that young woman hoping for a love story of her own to see that God loves and pursues her passionately–more passionately than any earthly man ever could–and does so with joy and laughter. I want that mum who’s so worn out from work or being at home with her kids all day to have a few minutes at night to just let go.

Forever. Oh, who doesn’t dream of forever? The romance of a new relationship, the stress ring-441783_640of planning a wedding, the joy in the ceremony and reception…then the forever. I want you, my readers, to fall in love with the characters. To join them in their celebration of “forever,” and dream of not just their wedding, but their “ever after.” I also want my readers to see the romance and joy of an “ever after” with their Creator! Jesus on the cross is the most stunning picture of love. A commitment to Him–and His to us–will make all the difference in our lives. Will it make our lives easier? Nope. He doesn’t promise that. What He does promise is that He’ll be there with us, through it all (Matthew 28:20).

Obviously, I’m a romantic at heart. And I make no apologies for it. So, expect it from me. 🙂 But also expect characters who are real, flawed, messy. Because those characters will also be redeemed through Christ’s death, resurrection, grace, and mercy.

Just like us.

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Please Stand By

Oh friends, what a ride it has been!! I want to thank you so much for your patience in the lack of posts to this site.

I have just 16 days before the end of my school semester…the end of my degree! I’ve been working for almost six years at school. I graduated with my Associate of Arts in accounting in December 2011, and a few months later, started working on a bachelors degree. After a few false starts, I settled on earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. And I’m in my last class. As a matter of fact, I only have three assignments left! 

Of course, when I finish, it’ll be Christmastime. 🙂 But I’ve been working on a plan for the new year. I’m setting aside time each day to work on my novels, time to review books, and time to actually post something on this site. So come the new year, I plan to be posting on a regular basis. Imagine that! 😉

In the meantime, have a very, very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, English Standard Version).

Merry Christmas

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The Hesitant Heiress Paperback Release and Giveaway!

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Oh friends! Have I got news for you!!! One of my absolute favorite series, The Everstone Chronicles, is being released in paperback, beginning with The Hesitant Heiress–the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award finalist for the Debut Novel category!

I gave each of these three books 5-stars. They are that good. And so you know, I’m not a first-person style of reader. But Dawn’s books draw you in and convey sooo much emotion and beauty, that my breath was stolen at least once a chapter.

Dawn’s writing journey is pretty incredible and rare. (If you don’t know it, you need to go follow her here on Facebook, and here on her web site. Serious.) Her publisher released all three of her books, including her debut, The Hesitant Heiress, within eight months! That’s pretty rare in publishing! However, when they released them, it was in ebook format only.

But NOW…her publisher has listened to the cries of the Paperback People! 🙂 If you’re a Paperback Person, you can now buy her book!! Check it out on Amazon.

What’s even better? Dawn is hosting a GIVEAWAY!! (Who doesn’t like free??) She’s giving away five copies, so be sure to enter below!

PS – Did you know you can request your library to order copies of these books? If you can’t afford to purchase your own, head to your local library and ask how you can request The Hesitant Heiress!

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5 Things I’ve Learned From My Critique Group

One of my critique partners (I have four WONDERFUL ones!) just posted this, and I thought I would share it. Teresa told me she would love to know what I would add to it, too. So, here are my additional “learnings” to her five. 🙂

6. When you emotionally and mentally lose it, your critique partners are there to help you back up. A month or so ago, I got a crit back on a new manuscript I started working on that I thought was great. When I read the critiques, I cried, questioned if I should even be writing, and was completely discouraged. Then my ladies started messaging me, commenting on my Facebook status…you name it. Their love, their encouragement, and their hand out to help me up gave me such a knowledge of love and warmth. Teresa is right: other writers want you to be a better writer. And they do it with love.

7. When you get to know these authors, you realize that they have a story…and sometimes that story is very similar to your own. I discovered this with one of my critique partners. And you know what? It was a sorrowfully beautiful connection. Sorrow because I’m heartbroken at what she went through, beautiful because she was open about it and we had that connection. And happy because of where she is today. Normally I can’t stand technology, but I’m so thankful for God using it to bring me, Holly, Teresa, Shawna, and Amy together to share in this journey.

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Creating Characters

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A little while ago, I came across another writing contest that I desperately want to enter (you can check out the Bling! Diamond Awards on my Check It Out page). This contest, however, requires a contemporary romance.

So for now, Daralis and Merek have been put aside. I know, I know. Sad news. And they’re pretty annoyed with me right now, but it can’t be helped. In order to enter this contest, I need to have the manuscript at least 3/4 finished. And I haven’t even started writing it. Whoops. Thankfully, I still have four months in which to do so.

The first step I’m taking–and something I’ve actually never done before–is to create my characters. And WOW! Has this lead me to some great story ideas, and not just for my two main characters for this book! So far, I not only have this first book, which I’m tentatively calling Saving Grace, her middle brother’s story is coming out in his character development worksheet (with a tentative title of Redeeming Isaac, though “redeeming” might work better for Grace’s other brother). And, today I got a great idea for her oldest brother’s story (he’s actually already married, but not everything is wonderful in his little world). Aaaaannnnnd, just now, Grace’s best friend and Adam’s best friend just met in my mind and there are some sparks! And differences. Lots and lots of differences. (Think city girl and cowboy and differing ethnicity’s.)

I’m super excited at what God is pulling out of my head with all these ideas! This hasn’t actually happened very often, so I’m going to take notes and start asking people for insights! But first, I suppose I should really start writing Grace and Adam’s story. 🙂

Oh! If ever you’re looking for a character worksheet in order to meet your people, check out author Jody Hedlund’s worksheet (this is the sheet I’m using for Grace and Adam).

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Well, Coconuts.

Today was the day that the Blurb2Book contest semi-finalists (those moving on to stage 2) were announced, and I didn’t make it. Congratulations!!!! to those who did! I’m beyond thrilled for you!

I actually didn’t expect to move past stage 1 only because I realized (a little too late) that my novel isn’t quite what Love Inspired was looking for in a historical book. But I still learned…and even more importantly, received great encouragement and the courage to enter more writing contests! The Blurb2Book contest doesn’t give feedback, unfortunately, but it was the first contest I’ve ever entered, so I’m proud that I did it, nonetheless.

I won’t hear back from the other two contests for a while (one is on May 17th and the other is a long while later). I also plan on entering another writing contest that has a deadline in August–this one will actually be a contemporary story…and needs a finished manuscript, I do believe. So! As soon as my class is finished (just four more weeks!!!!), I plan on getting started on that manuscript!

Thank you all so much for all your encouragement!

…And keep it coming. 😉

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Contest Season!

Okay, I don’t actually know if it is contest season, but it seems to be, what with all the contests being announced!

I’ve been busy with school (only six weeks in my current class and 16 weeks in the fall, and I’ll be finished this degree!) so I haven’t done much writing, but I’ve been doing some critiquing and am thrilled with what I’ve been reading, especially from four authors–one already published and three I am sure will be published in no time. Seriously, they’re fabulous writers! In any case, I’ve been busy. However, I’m excited because this week was a “light” homework week, and that means I have this weekend to write! Or rather, polish what I have, look at entry guidelines, and enter some contests!

Contests are new to me, but can I tell you something? They’re great learning tools! And I’ve noticed quite a bit of confidence building in each contest I’ve entered (which admittedly is only one with another one about to happen in the next day or two, and a third by the middle of August–with maybe another one or two thrown in there for fun, because who doesn’t like extra work?!). So if you’re a writer, I highly encourage you to start entering contests. But first? Polish those stories! Get avid readers to go over them. A fresh pair of eyes (or two or three pairs of fresh eyes) will see issues with point of view (something I struggle with), sentence structure, pacing, etc., that you can’t see right now. But when those eyes point out the issues to you? Wow! You’ll see your work in a whole new light–a beautiful new light.

So go ahead and enter those contests! Take a look on my Check It Out page for links to various contests, which I’ll update as I hear of more.

Go write now!

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That moment when…

You know how you work hard on something? And you don’t let anyone read it with the exception of a few other writers (who have helped tremendously with point of view and “showing, not telling”)…until that one moment you find out about a contest that could potentially lead to a publishing contract. That moment? Yeah. I just had that moment. And suddenly, I have officially entered a contest that could see me racing to finish my work-in-progress by mid July. Of course, I have to finish this crazy capstone class I just started today, too. But priorities. 😉

So while this post is short because I’m exhausted, it’s a joyful post because God is really giving me the go-ahead and courage to start putting myself out there. Whether I advance to the next stage of the contest (it’s three stages) or not, the reward of just pushing “send” and having faith in Him is enough.

Now I think I’ve deserved my pillow. Goodnight!

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Revisions, writers, and gifts

Oh, revisions! keepcalmI submitted my first chapter for critique this past week, and received some really great feedback! I knew going in that I have POV (point of view) issues, and I tend to “tell” and not “show”. In other words, I tend to tell the reader what the character is feeling (“Nervously, she looked behind her”) rather than show the reader what the character is feeling (“Her heart thumping, she looked behind her”). Or kind of like that. 😉

Anyway, revisions can be tough. I had four very kind and wise people make changes and suggestions. The key is to take the good and dump the not-as-good. I didn’t change everything that was suggested, but I definitely had my eyes opened on the areas I need to work over again. And this is before an editor ever looks at it!

Growing up, I thought writing was easy. HA! No. It isn’t. Even after I grew up and realized that writing is harder than it looks–and even after working for an author as his assistant!–I still didn’t quite understand until I started this journey for reals. 😀 It takes not just creativity and a story idea, but technical skills, such as sentence structure and grammar, and so many other tidbits!

What I can say about writing, though, is that if it’s your calling, your God-given gift, then do it. It’s truly an incredible experience. And even better? The other authors you meet along your journey. I still shake my head in wonder at the friendships I’m building, both with unpublished writers through the ACFW and with published authors–both debut authors and those who have been writing for a couple of decades. That networking and friendship-building has probably been the most priceless part of this experience so far. Not only are writers encouraging and incredibly helpful, but the ones I’ve met so far have taken priceless time out of their day to explain something or teach me something, or even offer to critique for me in order to have my MS ready for a conference meeting.

So, as exhausting as writing can be–and the process is long–it is so very rewarding. It’s taken me a long while to come here, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

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Oh Goodness

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This is quick. Short.

Earlier tonight, I was hangry. And I mean HANGRY. Just ask my husband. If you were to look “hangry” up on Urban Dictionary, you would see a picture of me. And if you don’t, it’s only because they haven’t updated it yet.

Instead of doing my usual tear-inducing running to my bedroom to escape for a moment, I sat down with my computer. And typed. Amid the noise of kids playing the Wii U, amid the noise of my husband’s computer game. Amid my own feelings.  I typed. I didn’t know why I was angry (until I typed the word hangry, that is), but I wrote and wrote and wrote, and man. Did it feel good!

So let me tell you something. I’ve always known that writing was therapeutic, but never “in the moment” have I sat down to take my mood out on my keyboard rather than my loved ones. My advice? The next time you’re in a bad mood, frustrated, disappointed, or, yes, hangry, write it out. Don’t think about what you’re writing. Just write.

I highly suggest it. Your situation may not change, but I can tell you that your attitude just might.

And to my family…

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