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Thursday, December 14, 2006

In-Depth Characters

I don't remember who recommended "Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel - how to knock'em DEAD with style", by Hallie Ephron, but it is one of the most in-depth books on creating characters I have ever read. The charts and graphs to be filled out seem such a small thing until you spend the time required. My heroine, Summer Meadows, is now my friend. I feel I've known her since we were children.

The drawback...I have to go back through my manuscript and "beef" her up a bit. This is all in chapter one. I can't wait to get to the rest of the book.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Bigger Life

Wow! What can one say about a book that gets deep into your heart, grabs hold and won't let go? In "A Bigger Life", author Annette Smith introduces the reader to Joel Carpenter, a man trying to do right as a divorced father. A man who cuts hair for a living. Having grown up under the prejudice of being the child of a homosexual father, Joel stands up for the things he believes to be right. He wants his wife back. He wants to erase his past mistakes. He wants to raise his son right.

When an unforseeable tragedy strikes, Joel experiments with knowing God, believing in miracles and the promise of A Bigger Life.

The reader will be able to relate to the characters Smith has created, getting into their thoughts, their feelings, their fears. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about life.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fire Dancer

Colleen Coble does it again! In her latest novel, Fire Dancer she takes you into the spectacular allure of fire fighting, the Arizona desert, the heart of evil, and lifts you up into God's amazing love.

Tess Masterson is a smoke jumper called home to help her sister revive a dying ranch and to find out who is setting fires. Someone seems determined to harm Tess and her family. As Tess battles the arsonist, she also battles the raging fire within herself.

Fire Dancer is a story of love and forgiveness. Strength and weakness. God's purity and Evil's stain. This is a must read for lovers of romantic suspense.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another Survey

1. What is your occupation? Detention Monitor and author
2. What color are your socks right now? not wearing any. I'm a hillbilly
3.What are you listening to right now? some stupid toy that I'd like to take a sledge hammer to.
4. What was the last thing you ate? Dark chocolate M & M's. (shhh. I'm on a diet)
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes. They're fun
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Have no idea
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My daughter Tina.
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Oh, yeah. She's my sister by heart
9. How old are you today? 44
10. Favorite drink? Cosmopolitan, but if I have to be good, it would be diet coke
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? Whatever my sons are playing
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes, but right now I'm going natural. No grey yet, praise God.
13. Pets? 2 Dogs...Truly & Casey. 1 Cat...Trashcan, a fish - Floyd, two parakeets - Harry & Lloyd (get it) and a lizard-Dagon
14. Favorite food? That's a hard one
15. What was the last movie you watched? Superman returns. Did anyone catch the reference to Christ in this movie?
16. Favorite day of the year? Christmas
17. What do you do to vent anger? Yell (I know...not a good choice)
18. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbie
19. What is your favorite fall or spring? spring
20. Hugs or kisses? Hugs
21. Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries
22. Do you want your friends to email you back? Not Sure
23. Who is most likely to respond? Not a clue
24. Who is least likely to respond? Again...not a clue
25. Living arrangements? Hubby, two sons and the animals
26. When was the last time you cried? This morning when I read a sad story about a little girl with leukemia who wanted to see Santa
27. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes and stocking stuffer stuff
28. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Frankina
29. What did you do last night? Watched a movie and ate popcorn
30. Favorite smells? flowers and baking
31. What inspires you? God
32. What are you afraid of? Getting old (dumb, I know. It's going to happen)
33. Plain, cheese, spicy burgers? Cheese
34. Favorite dog breed? Cairn Terrier or German Shepherd
35. Number of keys on your key ring? 1,000?
36. How many years at your current job? going on 4
37. Favorite day of the week? Sunday
38. How many states have you lived in? 4, California, Oklahoma, Arkansas & Arizona. 5 if you count Germany
39. Favorite holidays? Christmas!!!!!!!!!
40. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? Not driven, but I've ridden a motorcycle and fallen off thanks to my cousin Keith>>

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting to Know Christmas Style

Subject: Getting to know your friends--Christmas edition
You all know the drill...you answer the questions and send back to me, and anybody else you want to answer the questions.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate with marshmellows

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Mom and Dad wrap presents. Santa puts his by the tree unwrapped

3. Colored or white lights on tree/house?
White lights everywhere

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
I always forget

5. When do you put up your decorations?
The day after Thanksgiving. They come down the day after Christmas.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Stuffing!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
My Dad taking his time drinking his coffee. It drove us kids crazy. We couldn't open presents until he was done. This became a game and treasured memory

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Fourth grade from a mean red haired boy

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Any gifts arriving in the mail are opened as soon as they arrive

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
The grandkids come over and decorate. The adults "rearrange" when the smaller ones drink their hot chocolate

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it!

12. Can you ice skate?
Not at all

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My daughter (born on Dec. 17) or my wedding set

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Being with family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Cherry pie

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Christmas morning at home with hubby and the kids.

17. What tops your tree?
An angel

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving...but I do enjoy the presents, too.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Mary Did You Know and Emmanuel (God With Us)

20. Candy Canes?
Can live with them or without them

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving

I love the holidays. Everything about them. We had twenty-four people for dinner on Thanksgiving. Yes, it was loud, it was crazy, and it was fun! The kids raised the decimel level way past the sound barrier, but that was okay, too. If it got to be too much, the adults just stepped outside, or ran the kids out.

Way too much food. Six different types of pie, plus we always celebrate one of our son's birthday, so there was also a triple layer Black Velvet Cake.

The smells so warm and homey. The sights so welcoming, cementing precious memories into us. The sounds, loud but thank God I could hear them. The holidays heighten our senses. This holiday season we should not only thank God for the abundance of food, family and friends, but also for the gifts he gave us: smell, sight, hearing, touch, taste, etc.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hazardous Duty

Definitely a fun read. While Gabby St. Claire is cleaning a crime scene, she uncovers evidence pointing toward someone other than the suspect being held in jail. The closer she gets to the truth, the more suspenseful things become. As if trying to avoid being killed isn't enough, she finds herself torn between two men who are interested in her. One of whom practices a faith in God that intrigues Gabby.

Christy Barritt has written the first in what I hope is many Gabby adventures. I look forward to seeing where her interest in Christianity and her love life takes her.

Friday, November 17, 2006

NaNoWriMo

Well as of this morning, I've only written 17,116 words. I should be crowding 35,000. I don't think I'll reach my goal of 50,000 words, but at least I'm making a good dent and, hopefully, with have the first draft of, Buried Beneath the Midnight Blue, finished by the end of this year. This is the novel I'm hoping will cut the ice with the publishers. It's a humorous cozy romantic mystery. My critique partners are really enjoying it. This genre is totally new to me, difficult to write (my mind likes the scarier stuff), but a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Mile From Sunday

Finally, a "real" heroine. Below is my review of Jo Kadlecek's, A Mile From Sunday.

Jonna Lightfoot McLaughlin is a heroine for today’s Christian reader. She’s smart, ambitious, loyal, loves a pint of ale after work and smokes. Although, she is trying to quit. As the city’s number one religion reporter, Jonna is looking for a “good” front page story and falls into a trap of fraud and danger.

Jo Kadlecek has finally given us a heroine we can relate to. One that is not perfect, a bit of a slob, looking for her love-match, and striving for a better relationship with God. This book is a must read for readers of any genre. – Cynthia Hickey, author

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Writing Ups and Downs

What a rollercoaster! I entered the Harvest Rose contest with Romance Writers of America, and while I didn't win, the positive feedback was astonishing. These women liked my story, liked my writing, and had excellent points. Finally, uplifting feedback.

I've also joined NaNoWriMo. The event where you write 50,000 words during the month of November. Today is the second, and I've written a little less than 2,000 words. Not much considering what is left. I'll keep ya'll posted if you're interested. I'm also following a course on the ACFW forum where you write a novel in thirty days. I've read a book on this. Basically, you have to write 5 pages a day for a 300 page novel. The publishing line I'm going for only wants 60,000 - 65,000 words, so it ought to be easy, right? Yeah!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Broken Bones

Had a traumatic afternoon yesterday. An eighth grader at the elementary school where I work came, very quickly, into the school office, clutching his arm. Being the blunt, soft-spoken woman I am, I blurted, "What?"

"Mrs. Hickey!" The boy fell to his knees.

Now, this young man has been in my detention several times, and I've gotten on to him for other reasons, so once again, I matter-of-factly state, "What's wrong?"

"I broke my wrist."

Well, that spurred me into action a bit. I took one look at his very loose forearm (if you've seen where Harry Potter's arm is like rubber in movie #2, you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about), and rushed him to the nurse. He'd been "warming up" for soccer practice, goofed around, and fell.

Anyway, the little darling didn't want me to leave his side. Now, mind you I've never seen a broken arm before, especially of this magnitude, and hope never to again. I stayed by the boy's side until his mother got there, then went into the bathroom, trembled and cried. Thank God, I'm calm during the crisis.

Anyway, my pastor's sermon last Sunday was to find the good in everything. Here it is. Should a character in one of my books ever break their arm, I'll know how it looks, what is done to secure the dangling appendage, and have some idea of how it feels.

Did I do good?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Marilynn Griffith

I've had the opportunity to be part of a blog tour for Marilynn Griffith. Let's take the time to know her better.


Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
Well, let's see... I'm mom to a tribe of kids, wife to a very handsome deacon and blessed to be friends with some wonderful writers, like you, LaShaunda. I love to read, write, speak and all things communication related. I'm the person at the family gatherings who is always either telling a story or listening to one! Before realizing I was a writer life was a bit confusing. I tried everything from secretary to math tutor (that actually worked out pretty well). These days it's family, friends and church activities when I'm not writing. I like blogging though. That's fun.

Tell us about your current book?
Dana Rose pledges to say "I won't" the next time she's asked to be in a wedding. Her weak will has turned her closet into cemetery for satin gowns from periwinkle to Pepto pink. After ten stints as bridesmaid, Dana thinks she's seen it all. Then she's fired, forced to turn her hobby into a business and faced with her prodigal brother, back-stabbing sis and Mr. Practically Perfect, the ex who not only married someone else, but opened the business of her dreams—across the street. There's that Maid of Honor thing too… And this time she can't say no. Will wedding #11 show Dana what's she's really made of?


What inspired this story?
I used to own a seasonal bath and body business. Steeple Hill rejected my first manuscript but they liked my voice. They asked my agent about me doing a chick lit. I didn't know what that was exactly, but the prospect of writing in first person sounded interesting, so I tried it and loved it. I also have had a lot of wonderful single friends over the years.

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
I'd love for readers of MADE OF HONOR to come away from the book knowing that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that God delights in them and loves them in an intimate way, despite whatever mess riddles their pasts. Christ stands waiting to embrace them as His bride.

How do you balance writing with your "every day life?"
I don't. LOL Really. I've long since given God that job. He called me to be a wife and mother and a writer. Sometimes (like a deadline week) that doesn't always look like I think it should, but God graced me with the family I was supposed to have. I try to keep the Word first place and keep the lines of communication open so that when things get off balance (too much work, not enough work) we can talk about it. When I try to stop writing to be Super Mom, my kids are like,"Go write something. You're cranky!"

How can readers learn more about your books and get in contact with you?

I can be contacted at marilynngriffith@gmail.com or through comments at my website www.MarilynnGriffith.com .


Mir Schutz's interview questions:

Q: Some of us have heard of the Rock Bottom Remainders--an amateur rock group made up of authors that performs regularly at the Miami Book Fair Int'L, which has included luminaries like Amy Tan , Dave Barry, Stephen King, etc. If you had a Christian author gospel group called MAIDS OF MADE, which characters from your novel would be in it, what would be the title of their signature song, and what would they wear?

Wow, what a question! Let's see. The MAIDS OF MADE would consist of Dana Rose, my main character, her back-stabbing sister Dahlia and her friends Rochelle, Tracey and Austin. Their signature song would be Shackles by Mary Mary and they'd be wearing all the old bridesmaid dresses from the back of Dana's closet.

Q Tell all the lovely people--all four of them--who visit my blog with semi-regularity, why they should run to the store and buy MADE OF HONOR come January?

Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookseller to buy MADE OF HONOR because it's a funny, honest story about learning to love friends, family and even yourself when things go less than perfect. Not to mention that the book is full of great smells--candles, soaps, lotions and all the good stuff. Just the type of thing for a relaxing evening. It's fun, but it's serious too.

Q. As a Christian Fiction Writer , what is the spiritual truth your book carries thematically?

MADE OF HONOR is about seeing what you're really made of and knowing that God loves you anyway. This book is about a woman discovering that everyone, including herself, isn't quite what she thought and realizing that God still loves them all. Dana knows how to love, but she has to learn how to let her self be loved...both by God and the other people in her life.

Q: If someone said, "What blurb could I put on a t-shirt that would encapsulate the feel and tone and plot of your novel?"--how would you respond?

MADE OF HONOR--Girlfriends, God and all the giggles in between!

Of course there's some Godiva and tissues between the giggles, but that's the gist of it.

Q. If I were a published author, my typical reader would fit this demographic: Over thirty, highly intelligent, a lover of Christ, thinks all those Biblical plague are cool and we really should have more of them wiping out bad guys, can't get enough of the books of Revelation and Hebrews, is a lover of British wit and hyperbole, had really bad eyesight from reading too much in dim rooms, is given to broody thoughts on rainy days and, even, occasionally, on sunny days, and will belt out a Sarah MacLachlan tune if provoked while in a melancholic fit. Please describe your audience as you see it?

Wow, I like this person! And I think she'll love my books too. My reader knows how to worship God and how to have fun too. She's the woman at the Bible study who can spill punch in her lap and turn it into a parable. She loves a good sale and cute shoes and wishes she had a better metabolism. She's big hearted, passionate, intelligent and could use a good nap.

Q. How many hours will it take me to read MADE OF HONOR and will I have to wear an ugly lemon-yellow dress while I do it?

You can skip the dress, but if you do it, send me a picture for my blog! The book is 288 pages, so it's not too long. I can't really estimate time, since everyone reads differently (some savor, some devour), but so far, I've had one person stay up all night to finish it, so I guess it can be done.

Q. If I had to describe my novel in three words, it would be: melancholic, romantic, and mystical. Describe MADE OF HONOR in three words that are much cooler than mine.

You're pretty cool, Mir so that's hard to do. If I had to describe MADE OF HONOR in three words I'd have to go with: dramatic, intimate, funny.

Q. You know how you sometimes hear on Christian radio the phrase, "If you like the secular band, Metallica, then you'll love this new album by the Christian group, Wrathling." Okay, what book would get compared to yours as a "if you like X, you'll love MADE OF HONOR?"

If you like Superchick, Margaret Becker, Mary Mary, Crystal Lewis, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Nicole Mullen or Fred Hammond, you might enjoy MADE OF HONOR. (You might enjoy it regardless of who you listen to. :)

Q. What is the one, all-encompassing, totally-vindicated secret of good writing that you made sure to employ in writing MADE OF HONOR?

Secret? I don't know any. When you discover one let me know! LOL I just fell in love with the characters and tried to fall deeper in love with Jesus. Somewhere along the way, we got a book.

Q. Who are your three favorite writers, and will you be sending them copies of MADE OF HONOR?

Well, many of those folks are dead and probably wouldn't have been interested, but there are many writers who I respect who endorsed the book like Sharon Ewell Foster, Lisa Samson and Kristin Billerbeck.

Q: Are you afraid that answering my question will pretty much scare off your potential readers? :)

Nah. If they hang around here, they don't scare easy. :) And if they've read my blog or actually met me, well... it doesn't get any scarier than that. LOL Thanks for having me!

Thanks,

Marilynn

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Category Fiction

Well, I was turned down again by another agent who said my work was publishable, but suggested I go with the category publishers such as Barbour, Avon, etc. I'm not sure I even know how to write that type of story. The agent also said my writing was too edgy for Christian and too religious for the ABA. Oh well, at least I got feedback. At least I was told my work is publishable. Now to find that publisher I'm publishable with. What a wicked circle!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2006 ACFW Conference

What do I say about my first conference? It was intimidating, exciting, stimulating, frustrating, loud and lonely. I think I must have experienced the full gauntlet of emotions over those three days. Made new friends. Put faces with names and met with editors who weren't so intimidating after all. Now the agents, they're another story! Scared me spitless! Why? I don't know.

I had an editor request a proposal and another to request the full of two of my books. I'm sending proposals to five agents. A good conference? I sincerely hope so.

One agent, bless her heart, said my story was too scary and I should target men agents. Isn't that funny? My target audience is women.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What's Your Line?

Sunday afternoon I took some advice from the conference forum and cold-called my critique partner, Dina Nickerson. My words, "This is Cynthia Hickey from Westbow Publishing. I'd like to hear about your book." (Hope Westbow doesn't mind I used their name, but I know Dina plans on pitching to them). Anyway, Dina started giggling. In my infinite wisdom, I informed her she was pitching incorrectly. This just sent her into a bigger fit of giggles. Now mind you, I've never met this woman face to face, and this is the first time I've heard her voice, but we spoke for a good hour about our books, the upcoming conference, life, etc. Who says you need to meet someone in order to find a friend?

My husband says the two of us at conference will be a force to reckon with. Well, not his exact words, but I can't say them here. Now, I've gone from knowing noone at the conference, to having someone excited to meet me. I am truly blessed! Plus, she told me that if my book isn't picked up by an editor at this conference, she wants to know why! Me, too!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Reluctant Burglar

This is the first novel of Jill Nelson's I've read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What would you do if you found out your father had stolen millions of dollars worth of rare art and upon his death, it all falls into your lap?

Desiree Jacobs wants to right the wrong her father had done, despite the interference of Old Hollywood style FBI agent, Tony Lucano. As Desiree struggles to right the wrong, save her father's business and clear his name, she finds herself on the hunted list. The Reluctant Burglar takes you along with Desiree through a ring of cutthroat art thieves and into a reluctant partnership with Agent Lucano.

A totally engrossing read. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Review of Violet Dawn

Paige Williams arrives in Kanner Lake looking for all the things she'd always wanted. A family. A friend. The feeling of belonging. Unable to sleep one night, Paige decides to take a long soak in her hot tub only to discover the floating body of the resident movie star. Paige does the unthinkable and the town of Kanner Lake is rocked on its heels.

Although I found Brandilyn's "Violet Dawn" a little more predictable than her Hidden Faces series, this book is every bit as much of a page turner. The characters feel real, with human quirks. The villain every bit as evil. This is definitely a book to read when you have a chunk of time. You won't want to put it down.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Characters Inside My Head

Last night I couldn't sleep. Marilu Hutchins wouldn't stop talking. I'm half finished with my novel "Innocent Justice" and Marilu is insistant I write her story instead. I haven't been able to get into Justice in quite a while. I think I've discovered the reason why:

Marilu Hutchins was forty years old when she awoke and realized the man lying next to her wasn't her husband. Her husband was Tom Hutchins...and she'd killed him.

"Innocent Justice" will have to wait. I'm moving on to "Clouded Vision".

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Valley Vista High School Football

My fourteen year old son made history last night. During this new school's very first Freshman football game, my son intercepted a pass and ran forty-five yards. I always knew he was fast. Then, later in the game, the ball is being fumbled around on the ground and he scoops it up at the twenty five yard line and runs like the wind for a touch town. Almost 80 yards! He was positively pumped when he got home. We lost the game, but my little boy made the first ever touchdown for this brand new High School. Yep, I'm proud!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Good Wife's Guide

Here's an article from the May 1955 issue of Housekeeping Monthly. What do you think?

* Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

* Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest, so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people!

* Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

* Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

*Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dustcloth over the tables.


MORE TOMORROW FOLKS! Makes you thankful to live in today's society.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lesson 2 - Trustworthy

Proverbs 31 says: The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Are you a trustworthy wife? If the rest of the world turns against your husband, will you remain by his side? A trustworthy woman would never do anything to bring dishonor to her husband's name. She would not list his faults to friends, just to get a laugh.

To be trustworthy is a choice, much like the promise to love someone. Remember your wedding vows?

Ask your husband to describe you in one word. What will it be? My husband said loyal. I'll take that.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Creative Counterpart - Proverbs 31 Woman

Did you know that it was Abraham Lincoln who said, "And all that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother?"

Many times in today's society and advertising, housewife has become a dirty word. Because of this, women may begin to question herself, her role, and life in general. She may become frustrated.

The Bible tells us that woman was created to be a helpmate (creative counterpart) to man. The largest example of this is the Proverbs 31 woman. A woman who it may seem to be impossible to aspire toward. Not so, these verses describe what happened over this woman's lifetime. She didn't accomplish all these tasks in a day.

What I hope for you to take away from this bible study, is how God sees you. How you can strive to become the Creative Counterpart the Bible teaches us to become. Each chapter of this book by Linda Dillow covers so much information. We won't take each chapter at a time, but pieces. Let's look in more depth at the Proverbs 31 woman. I encourage you to read these verses and refresh your memory.

Before we actually get into the study, I'd like to pose a question. What are your thoughts on a woman's role in this world we live in? Here's mine. Oftentimes, I become frustrated, feeling overwhelmed at all that is expected of me. I feel pulled in many directions. But when I take the time to slow down and see that God has given me all the tools and guidelines in His word, I find the stress of juggling many hats, much easier to do.

We all get frustrated; engineers, pilots, teachers. Are we frustrated because of the job, or because of the boredom of a job done poorly without imagination. During this study, we will learn the joys of being a wife, mother, woman, daughter of the King!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Christian Marriage

Years ago, I taught a Bible Study on a woman being "The Creative Counterpart" God called her to be. In the following weeks, I will be leading this study on my blog, with other ramblings in between, but, ultimately, each week will be another posting on this Bible Study. I invite all of you to visit me. God Bless!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reading - A Quote

When I consider what some books have done for the world, and what they are doing, how they keep up our hope, awaken new courage and faith, soothe pain, give an ideal life to those whose hours are cold and hard, bind together distant ages and foreign lands, create new worlds of beauty, bring down truth from heaven; I give eternal blessings for this gift, and thank God for books. - James Freeman Clarke

What do our books do? What purpose do you hope to achieve with your writing? Are you doing your best with the blessing God gave you? I pray I am. My goal is to entertain and, hopefully, show someone God's truth in my words. Am I doing this? I don't know. I may not know this side of heaven, but I will continue to write with this desire God has given me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Murder, Mayhem and A Fine Man

Here is my short review for Claudia Mair Burney's book:

Claudia Mair Burney has written the ultimate fun book! Lovers of any genre will laugh out loud during the antics of just turned forty, Bell and her blossoming romance with too handsome to walk the streets, Jazz Brown. The tension and interaction between the characters while working to solve the mystery of what appears to be a cult suicide will have the reader flipping the pages fast enough to cause heavy winds.

I had to force myself to slow down so I wouldn't miss anything. Murder, Mayhem and A Fine Man is a must read for readers of any genre. It contains it all: chick lit, suspense, and romance.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What To Do About Teenagers

My husband and I have been taking ballroom dancing lessons. Yep, you heard right. Anyway, the first session ended and the group went out to practice what we've learned. Upon coming home, we noticed the second car had two flat tires and a skid mark that started in the front of the house and continued up the driveway. Of course, we immediately thought of our 14 year-old son who vehemently denied driving the car. The next morning, I marched his rear outside and pointed to the signs...The tire was off the rim, hence it had been driven. The windshield wipers were on and the radio tuned to a hip hop station. Now, the car needed transmission work, so I asked my son did he have trouble getting back into the driveway because of the two flats or because of the skipping transmission. He still denied driving it, so being the suspense writer that I am, I asked him which of his friends drove it, cause someone drove, I can read the signs. I said I'd start calling all his friend's parents, because I had decided he drove his friends home in the rain rather than let them walk the two blocks. He admitted to "backing" the car out of the driveway.

The next day, one of his friends, thinking I knew the whole story, bless his heart, let it spill that they drove over to a friends house, noticed the flat tire (they'd obviously drove over something) and said they'd better get home.

Now, I ask you, knowing your parents see the signs and point out every one of them to you, how can a person continue to lie? Boggles my mind everytime. Needless to say, the little darling is grounded. It's a shame, too. Because it's the last week of his summer break. Bless his heart!

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Review for Haunted By Evil

I received my first review for "Haunted By Evil". Check it out! I should have another review in sometime next month.

Haunted by Evil is a book for thrill seekers. Cynthia does an excellent job of keeping the reader's attention during action sequences - I couldn't put the book down until I finished the story. She's done a wonderful job of portraying a very dramatic set of events, along with a nice touch of romance, while sparing us any unnecessary gore, foul language, and sexual content. It takes great talent for a romantic thriller to work without those aspects in today's market, and Cynthia has pulled it off." --Alissa Dunn, author of The Unclaimed Christmas Gift

Saturday, August 05, 2006

New Puppy - Cairn Terrier


Here's a pic of little Casey! He's a cream Cairn. We also have a female Cairn who looks just like Toto. We're all familiar with that dog! Cairn's are the greatest. Very smart and loyal and have the sweetest temperaments.

Friday, August 04, 2006

ACFW Conference

Seems like every blog I go to has comments on the upcoming conference in Dallas. They list the do's and don'ts. They tell you it'll be like one big happy family, then proceed to tell you to be charismatic. As if I didn't have enough to worry about. I feel that when I sit before my appointed editor and agent, they'll be scrutinizing my every move and gesture. Analyzing every word that comes out of my mouth. Is it going to be possible to be myself? What you see is what you get. Most people like that about me. One minute the conference seems to be weeks away, the next only days. Hopefully, and God willing, the next conference I attend won't have me on such pins and needles.

Monday, July 31, 2006

ACFW Conference in Dallas

Seems I have a lot going on with the Lone-Star state this year. Tonight, a Cairn Terrier puppy is flying in from Waco to join our family and September 21-23 is the conference in Dallas. I've never been. First time for me, and I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous. I tend to talk too much when I'm nervous. What if I drive people off? What if they see me coming and run and hide? I'm very excited about all the things I'll learn, all the people I'll meet and I hope, I hope, whoever my appointments are with like me. I mean really like me as in we want your book, like me. I've got a roomie and I've never shared a room with a stranger before. I'm breaking out of my comfort zone all over the place! What will I do with my free time? There are so many questions! Did I mention I can't wait?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fun Questions for a change

Here are some fun questions I was sent.

Tired of all of those surveys made by High School kids?

'Have you ever kissed someone?'
'missed someone?'
'told someone you love them?'
'drank alcohol?'

Here are some questions for some people who are a little more mature... ok old folks like us!!!!


1. What bill do you hate paying the most? ALL of them!

2. What's the best place to eat a romantic dinner? P.F. Changs


3. Last time you Puked from Drinking? Never - have never been drunk

4. When is the last time you got drunk and danced on a bar? There's enough alcohol in the world to get me to do that!

5. Name of your First Grade Teacher? ?????

6. What do you really want to be doing right now? Enjoying some peace and quiet.

7. What did you want to be when you were growing up? A wife and mother who writes books!

8.How many colleges did you attend before you settled on the one you graduated from? none


9. Why did you wear the shirt that you have on right now? Just bought it yesterday!

10. Gas prices? Ridiculous!

11. If you could move anywhere and take someone with you where would you go and who? I want to live closer to my parents, if I could take my kids and grandkids with me.

13. Last thought before Falling asleep last night? God Help Me!

14. Favorite style of Underwear? Hanes Her Way

15. Favorite style of Underwear for the opposite sex? Boxer briefs

16. What Errand/Chore do you despise? Moping and bathtubs.

17. If you didn't have to work, what would you do? WRITING!

18. Get up early or sleep in? Depends on the night before

19. Your Favorite Cartoon Character? Mulan. She kicks butt.

20. Favorite NON sexual thing to do at night with a girl/guy is?
Carry on a good conversation

21. A secret that you wouldn't mind everyone knowing? But then it wouldn't be a secret . . .

22. What was your First Car? 1969 Chevy Impala. A putrid green

24. Your Favorite Lunch Meat? Ham

25. What do you get everytime you go into a Walmart? Probably pet supplies

26. Beach Or Lake? Beach

27. Do you think Marriage is an outdated ritual that was invented by people who died at 20? God santifies marriage.

28. Who do you Stalk on myspace? No one

29. Favorite Guilty Pleasure? M&M's and Starbucks

30. Favorite Movie you wouldnt want anyone to find out about? I don't really watch any movies I'd be ashamed to watch with anyone I know.

31. What's your drink? Diet coke.

32. Cowboys or Indians? Depends on if they are hot or not! I grew up with both so I can see pros and cons on both sides.

33. Cops or Robbers? Cops

34. Do you cheer for the bad guy? Nope

35. What Hollywood star do you think resembles you best? Can I make a wish?

36. If you had to pick one cast member of Grey's Anatomy, which one would you be? ???.

37. What do you want when you are sick? To be left alone.

38. Who from High School would you like to run into? My old friends.

39. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now? KLUV

41. Stiffler or Oz? I have no idea what this means

42. Norm or Cliff? Neither

43. The Cosby Show or the Simpsons? Cosby

44. Worst Relationship Mistake that you wish you could take back? Old boyfriend

45. Do you like the Person who sits directly across from you at work? I sit with detention kids all day. Does that answer your question?

46. If you could get away with it who would you kill? I kill people in my writing everyday.

47. What Famous person would you like to have dinner with? I'd have to think about this one.

48. What famous Person would you like to sleep with? I'm not that kind of girl!

49. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purpose? Yes. When my then three-year old son set his mattress on fire.

50. Last book you read for real? Murder, Mayhem & A Fine Man

51. Do you have a teddy bear? Not anymore.

52. Strangest Place you have ever brushed your teeth? Airport bathroom (I know, not strange, but I lead a pretty boring life.)

53. Somewhere in California you've never been and would like to go? Highway 101 and head north.

54. How many times a day do you text? Sometimes not even once.

55. At this point would you rather start a new career or relationship? Career. Full-time writing

56. Do you go to church? The Vineyard.

57. Pencil or Pen? Pencil. Mistakes erase better.

58. Describe your favorite Day? Sleeping late, watching a chick-flick with popcorn and a soda, and writing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Shades of Crimson

Finished the last chapter yesterday. Yahoo! Such a feeling of accomplishment. It's always a bit sad though to finish something you've spent so much time on. These characters will be with me for a while, though as I now have revisions and will move on to books two and three in the Upton Falls Series. Now, to find more and different ways for my hero and heroine to avoid the "bad" guy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Last Chapter

Well, Shades of Crimson is down to it's last chapter. If I ever get it written, that is. I've been in a funk the last couple of days. Feeling a bit depressed and can't pinpoint why. I'm still gathering notes on the conference, thinking about the second book in the series and not sure I even want to write it, unless a publisher shows interest and I know that's not the right attitude. Haven't written anything on the first-person cozy I started. Also had a story started that takes place in, of all places, Booger Hollow, Arkansas. Yes, there is such a place. Population 7 counting one coon-dog, and goes on to spend time in the now vacated Dogpatch, USA. Will probably change some of that story line. How much of a book can you write that takes place in a closed down Amusement Park? Anyway, I'm rambling, and should do some work on marketing the three print-on-demand novels I have out. Did I mention the Language Arts teacher at the local Junior High absolutely loved them? Still freaks me out when someone says that.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Nearing the end

Well, I've got 10,000 more words to go in my wip. Feeling pretty good about finishing the first draft by conference. Hey, I might even have an edited version to pitch, God willing.

The publisher interested in my fourth book received the revisions. Said it might take 2 - 3 months before they get back to me. Yikes! I was so hoping to hear back by conference. I don't know whether I should pitch that book or not.

I'm reading Dee Henderson's, The Witness. Haven't read any of her books before, but someone mentioned that I write like her, so of course I had to pick up one of her books. What a compliment! I can see the comparison. Hopefully, a publisher will to.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Novel Submitted for Revisions

Got a lovely not so rejection letter the other day on my completed novel, Mountain of Fear. The publisher wanted revisions with the sexual tension increased. I was skeptical at first and after e-mailing the editor, decided to go with the revisions. They weren't asking for sex or obscenity, just the tension to up the romance part of the story. I hope I was able to do what they asked and will be waiting on pins and needles to hear back. Pray with me, ya'll!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Readers

Got contacted my another person who received my book as a door prize at a church function. She'd liked it enough, she's going to buy the sequel.

I wish, and you'd think that as a writer I could, find the words to describe how you feel when you get an e-mail from someone who enjoyed your book. It's like Christmas. A huge feeling of euphoria. It gives you that boost you need to keep writing when the rejection slips from the big publishers fill a file folder in your desk drawer.

If someone likes your first book, when you really didn't know much about writing, how much more will they like your fourth, when you've learned so much.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Camping

Camping went great! The weather was perfect (althought a bit of rain wouldn't have been bad, right?). The trout were biting, the kids were great and us "big" kids had a blast.

One of the traditions we started last year was heading out into the woods about a mile from the campsite armed only with flashlights. We find a secluded spot and tell stories to scare ourselves. We also film ourselves in our version of the "Blair Witch Project". Last year, besides my then 13-year old son, was just us girls. This year we talked a couple of the guys into going and trying it out. What a blast! My 28 year-old step-son, bless his heart, wanted to head back as soon as we got there. He's probably the smartest one of us. My husband and step-daughter think we're all crazy. We think it's great fun to ditch one of the group and totally freak them out. Can you tell I'm a suspense writer? This year there was no moon and it was very dark. Even the trees looked scarey!

I did manage to finish a chapter while up there. No small feat with grandchildren wanting to know what Nana was doing. When you tell them you're writing, they just don't get it.

Oh, the memories these camping trips give us. I took over 150 pictures for my other hobby of putting pictures to a DVD complete with music and transitions.

If you're as blessed as I am to have all your children and grandchildren close by, I suggest you try the whole family camping trip. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Camping for how many days?

We're heading up for our annual family camping trip to Woods Canyon Lake in Northern Arizona. The entire family goes, which is a lot of fun. We're only going for two and a half days, but the supplies form a mound it's difficult to see over. Isn't it amazing what we think we need? I mean, really, besides a flushing toilet, cause the outhouses are horrendous! and food, sleeping bags, shampoo (dirty hair? ICK!)and of course all the important things to kill germs, because we all know nature is dirty, right? All we really need is a pad of paper and an ink pen (my stepdaughter says my laptop is off limits! How dare she?!).

I've got my entire wip in a bag, cause we all know there could be a solar flare and I'd never make it back to Phoenix and might have to live by this beautiful lake for the rest of my life, eating only fish and Pringles! So, I've got to take a book to read, right? I've chosen Last Light by Terri Blackstock, just in case I need the tips.

Should I take my wilderness survival book?

Oh, and I've packed an extra set of clothes for everyone, just in case. Two bags of marshmallows, cause one just isn't enough for four people to eat S'mores. Guess, I won't take nice sandles, just my flip flops. I mean, I've got to be reasonable, right? We are camping.

Oh, and I've got rain ponchos for everyone, cause we all know how much it rains in Arizona!

Do you think I've got the important things covered? I don't need to take God, cause He'll already be there, enjoying His creation!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dance Revolution

Someone mentioned to me about the playstation2 Dance Revolution as a workout! What a hoot! I'm having a blast. Who said exercise can't be fun. I bumbled my way through for an hour, worked up a sweat and had such a good time.

Now, if I can get my brain to work on two things at once, I can be thinking about the next step in my writing while I'm following the steps.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Interview with Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren's novel, Everything's Coming Up Josie, promises to be a great read!

For everyone who wanted to know what it's REALLY like to be a missionary!

What is God doing? When Josey Berglund's little sister marries her ex, Josey heads out of town to Russia to teach English for a year. If the snow, the subway, the market and the language don't send her screaming, her love life just might. Will she survive Russia? Or God's plans for her?

Thank you, Susan for taking the time to answer a few questions.

1. A fiction book about your life. Was it difficult to write? Fun?

Susan: Oh, it was VERY fun to write...because as a missionary you go onto the field with a billion false expectations, until you realize you know NOTHING about what you're doing and feel about as important as a slug. I got to tap into all those crazy expectations and moments and reveal what missionary life is all about...(and you'll have to read the answer in Everything's Coming Up Josey!) *g*

2. When did you discover you wanted to be an author?

Susan: I have always loved to write, but I NEVER thought I'd be an author. Even after I was published, I had a hard time seeing myself as an "author". Authors are people like Francine Rivers, John Grisham, or C.S. Lewis...you know, SMART people! I think God just knows our deepest unspoken desires and delights in surprising us!

3. Is this your first novel?

Susan: This is my first CHICK LIT novel. I have fifteen suspense/romance novels on the market currently, either contemporary or historical. But this is probably the funniest of my novels.

4. As a published author, what is the most important piece of advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Susan: You need to keep working on craft all the time. Keep learning. I am going to be opening a new page on my website (www.susanmaywarren.com) that takes books and dissects them for a writer--sorta bringing out the things we can learn. One of the most important things for a writer is to read, analyze and apply.

5. What was the hardest lesson you had to learn?

Susan: That not everyone is as passionate about my stories as I am, and that sometimes I should let other people talk. *g*

6. Where do you get your inspiration for your novels?

Susan: News articles, scripture, life events...mostly I ask God for an idea and He brings it to mind.

7. Anything you would like to add to encourage other writers?

Susan: Don't be afraid to dig deep, to let your real emotions out. If you are authentic and let the stories come from deep inside, they will touch others and maybe even change lives.

Thank you very much, Susan for your time!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Letter From Long Ago

The small country town where I grew up recently ran an article on the release of my newest book, Haunted By Evil. In response to that article, my Junior High Science teacher contacted me. What a wonderful surprise. I've been getting many such surprises lately. Here is the letter she e-mailed me.

Cynthia, I bought your book at Hastings in Russellville and couldn't put it down until I finished it. It was so good. I checked at the town library today and they don't have any of your books so I told them how good the first one was. Robbie said they would order them.

Your book made me think of Dee Henderson's books that I have been reading. Both talk about God and such with no bad language. I can't wait until they get the other books in. Hastings said they could order the other two, so I will have them order for me.

Do you remember Miss Cheek, the counselor at school? We exchange books so I have it to take to her to read. I got her hooked on Dee Henderson and will now get her hooked on yours.

Keep up the good work. When will you have another one out? I will tell all my friends about your books. So good to hear good things about former students.

Sincerely,
Shirley Pickle

Monday, April 24, 2006

Front Page

Well, I took another baby step today. A bigger one! I wrote a press release and sent it to the paper of the small city I grew up in. 3,000 people read about my latest book on the front page of the Atkins Chronicle. Even better, my science Junior High teacher contacted me to congratulate me. She remembered me enough after thirty years to look me up in the year book. Yes, it's a small paper, but I'M ON THE FRONT PAGE!!!! Praise God!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Baby Steps

Took another step yesterday. Still actively seeking a larger publisher and received yet another rejection, but...this rejection did offer encouragement. The publisher said, "...though well-written and worthy of publication, is just not fit for the line of titles we are developing." Encouraging, right?

They sent out the all too familiar form letter, only this one had a multiple choice and the above statement is the one they circled. At least they didn't circle the one saying my writing needed honed, or that the material didn't "grab" them for any number of reasons. If I had to be rejected, I'm glad they choice the above answer.

I am continually working on improving my writing and constantly writing and coming up with more story ideas, so I'll keep pursuing these people. Eventually, someone is going to say, "Let's take her on if only to shut her up. She is persistant." LOL!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Blog Tour with Colleen Coble

I've joined a blog tour to help promote interest in Colleen's newest book, Alaska Twilight. Enjoy and stay a while. After viewing the other blogs, I realize mine is kind of boring as in plain. So ya'll come liven it up, okay? So glad to spend time with you, Colleen.

1. How long did it take for your first novel to become a reality?

Forever! It took a year to write it and another six years to sell it.

2. Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

I'm a junkie for shows like Discovery and Travel Channel. I go about
constructing my novels in a little off kilter way. I pick the setting first.
Then when I research the area, I'm able to draw in cultural aspects that can
play a role in the plot. For example, Alaska Twilight, is set on the
southern coast of Alaska. I pulled in brown bear study, factored in elements
of the terrain that added to the suspense, and the Midnight Sun elements. I
even had a weiner dog race. Elements of the setting can add so much to the
theme and the tone of a book. Most writers miss out on the richness they
could pull in from the setting.

3. What is the best advice you can give a pre-published author?

Attend conferences. I know some will say they can't afford it, and I say
it's a business. If you're going to go into business, you have to be ready
to plunk down some investment. Conferences are invaluable for networking
with other writers, meeting editors and agents, and learning more about the
craft. Sell pencils on the street if you have to, but GO.

4. How would you describe your journey to publication?

Long and frustrating. But necessary. I learned a lot in those seven years.
Seven is the number of perfection, you know. The biggest thing I learned
is that I will never "arrive." I want to always be seeking to improve my
craft, to find new ideas, and to reach down and help someone else along the
way.

5. Who is your favorite character and why?

I love Haley in Alaska Twilight. She had so much to overcome, but she hung
in there. Even with only one leg, she was game to give it all she had.

6. What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

Seek to get conflict on every page. Read Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout
Novel for more on that.

7. Any other comments you would like to give to encourage aspiring authors?

Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Get the
picture? And find some critique partners. They are invaluable to brainstorm,
encourage, commiserate and just generally make your life better. Also, see
who you can help. Don't just take, give it out too.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

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Wedding

My daughter got married on April 1, 2006 and, if I do say so myself, looked like she stepped off the page of a wedding magazine. The wedding was lovely...it was the preparations that were a nightmare. My daughter insisted on cupcakes. 200 of them! Guess you got to bake'em. Me. The first batch went in the oven at 7:30 a.m. and the last batch at 3:30 that afternoon. In between baking, I had to frost them using this handy dandy decorating tool which left my hand cramped into the hand of a crone.

The next day there were six of us joyfully sitting down to make bouquet balls. You know the round styrofoam balls with real flowers poked into them? Anyway, they're all the rage nowadays. We didn't have enough silk "stuff" to fill in the spaces, so had to run to the store. It took us so long to finish these "masterpieces" that the petals were beginning to fall off. Let me tell you there were six frazzled women, including one frustrated bride-to-be trying to finish those bouquets. We all prayed they'd hold up until the wedding the next day. They did.

Although there were threats of rain (we live in the desert, what's the chance?) the clouds dissipated and the skies were a brilliant azure blue. The wedding was perfect!!! Praise God for not striking down those six grumbling women. It was worth it! (But I am glad it's over and they are headed for a week in Tahiti).

Monday, March 13, 2006

JUST GOT 'EM!

Just got my box of my latest release and I'm thrilled. Thought I might be less so, with it being my third and all, but no way, folks. The feeling is still euphoric. Now imagine how I'll feel when that "big" publisher gives me a call!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

$10,000!!! ARE THEY CRAZY!!

I mailed out quite a few queries and proposals on my latest wip. Not much happening (in the way I'd like) but, today, I got an e-mail from a Publisher (Strang). I didn't send them anything, so not quite sure how they found out about me, but they want to publish my book. Before ya'll get too excited, they're proposing a "joint" effort. Ha! It will cost me $10,800. Well, I may not be a financial genius, but even I know that's no deal. The publisher I use now, who is POD, does not charge me a cent, nor do they ask me to "co" do anything. Yes, it is my heart's desire to be with a more "traditional" publisher, and God promises to give me the desires of my heart. Until then, I'll stay small and keep learning the craft. I still laugh when I think of the $10,800 I don't have lying around!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Writing

Just keep writing, writing, writing. Just keep writing, writi... Yep, I'm losing it!

Friday, February 10, 2006

New Adventure

Well, friends, I'm undertaking a new adventure! I'm the ACFW Local Area Coordinator for the Western Phoenix area. I'm excited. A chance to hang out with others who love the written word as much as I do. I'm also a bit nervous, but hey, I taught Sunday School ages 6 to 12 for many years and taught a women's bible study to 19 on sex and marriage. That was interesting! I guess I can handle a small local group, right?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Connecting

I'm reading this "recent release" I checked out from the library. I won't tell you the name of the book, cause...I'm struggling to get through the first chapter and I mean struggling! I thought I was checking out a book about a group of people stranded on an Island, kind of like Survivor (where the author couldn't go wrong, cause I'm a huge Survivor fan). Anyway, this woman is murdered and is telling about herself; her childhood, her death, her funeral, she even describes her coffin. Okay, I'm ready for the story to begin. WHERE ARE THE STRANDED PEOPLE!?

Anyway, what helps you connect with the characters? What keeps you turning the pages?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Booksigning

Had my booksigning yesterday at the local Barnes and Noble, along with seven other authors. I was top seller! Even the manager of the store bought a book. One lady rushed up to the table, said, "I heard you are up and coming and I want to buy your first book."

I asked her where she'd heard my name and she answered, "I won't tell you. I just want to buy a signed copy of your first book."

Although it was a surprise, I loved it. This type of thing is happening to me more and more and send me for a loop everytime. But, what a loop!

Another thing that surprised me was how many people came up to me just to let me know they were, or wanted to, write a book and who was my publisher. One lady must have went on for five minutes. I finally told her, in as nice a way as an exasperated Irish girl can, that she just needed to put pen to paper and write. Worry about the other details later. Her eyes widened and several seconds later she giggled and said, "Or fingers to keyboard?"

Selling copies of my books was great, but if I encouraged just one person to finish that book they've always wanted to write, my day was extremely fruitful. God is good!