Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does Critiquing Ever Stop?

I will admit that I have always been a judgmental reader. What I mean by that is, I have always been irked when I find errors in a story. I think this stems from two reasons: one, I am a teacher (enough said?), but I believe the greater reason is because it jerks me out of the story. When I am reading good fiction, I often totally lose myself in the characters' thoughts, the descriptive settings, the action. So when I'm reading along and then see a misspelled word, or grammatical error, it breaks that spell for me.

One of the perils of writing that has been brought to my attention since I began working on my own stories is frequent points of view shifts. This is when the story in being told from one character's point of view—we, the readers are in his head—when suddenly within the same scene the author begins telling what another character is thinking. If this happens frequently, I have had an editor liken it to making the reader feel like a ping pong ball being batted about between two (or more) characters' thoughts.

I said all that to say this...

This week I took a "break" from reading books primarily for review writing purposes, and read a book by a very prolific fiction writer whose books I have enjoyed in the past. I have read many of her books and always enjoyed the intrigue she creates in her plots, the interesting characters, the romance.

As I read this book, however, I kept feeling kicked out of the story because every time there was an unexpected POV change (and this occurred frequently), I was given pause. I found myself wondering if her other books did the same thing, but because I hadn't been aware of this faux pas before, it had never bothered me. I also checked the publishing date and realized this book was an earlier work...maybe she learned to eliminate that habit in later novels...(I'll definitely have to check into that to satisfy my curiosity now).

I still thought the story line was great, and on the whole enjoyed the book. But I can't help wondering if that old saying, "Ignorance is bliss" is certainly applicable in my case now. Will I ever be able to totally become lost in a good story again? Or will that "judgment bug" rear its ugly head at even more inopportune moments?

Friday, March 19, 2010

A New Cause

One of the reasons I was so excited about getting a book published was the potential opportunity for being able to financially support causes that are near and dear to my heart. My initial thought was supporting missions efforts through my church. I haven't given up on that possibility.

However, little did I know when I began the publishing process that a new cause would raise its hand and demand with urgency its worthiness for support.

In January of this year, after months of questions, my father was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. To date, there is no cure for this disease, although there are studies being done along with ongoing research.

Needless to say, my interest in finding a cure for ALS has increased a hundred fold. So in an effort to raise awareness as well as support, I am donating $1 of every copy of "Second Chance" sold to the ALS foundation through the MDA. You may purchase a copy from any online site, store, or from me personally.

I would greatly appreciate your help in supporting this cause! If you have already purchased a copy of "Second Chance", you can still help by spreading the word to friends and family. You may also make a donation straight to the ALS foundation, linked below:

"Second Chance" is available at most online sites where books are sold (amazon, b&n, B-A-M, etc), as well as through my website:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Working Vacation

Spring Break was this week. The kids and I drove to Bunkie (91/2 hours) on Saturday to visit my parents for a few days. It was not Spring Break for my mom, who works at an Elementary School in Lecompte, La. So she invited me to come to her school and share about writing and the publishing process with the students there, 3rd-6th grades.

I don't know about all of the students, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day...even though I was in school during my Spring Break! In every class there were at least three or four students who seemed truly interested in what I had to say, and wanted to know more about being a writer, getting published...what its like to be a "famous author". (I was seriously asked that question. My answer was, "I don't know. I'm not a famous author...yet.":))

A couple of fourth grade girls shared that they came in second place in a state-wide writing contest. They get to go to Alexandria to a reception. How absolutely thrilling!

There was a sixth grade girl who was particularly interested. She wanted to know what point of view I preferred writing in, and whether I did my writing on paper or computer. Then she wanted to know what software program I used. The teacher in me was on cloud nine!

I gave out bookmarks with my website and blog to each student, encouraging them to follow what is going on with me. I don't know how many students have computers at home, probably not very many. But we did discover that my website is not restricted at their school. So I hope to stay connected with some of the truly interested ones in that way.

Did I sell any books? One to a teacher. But that was not the goal of the day. I truly hope that for those who had an inkling of interest in writing, I was an inspiration. And for those who were thinking more about the PE they were missing, I hope I at least planted a seed of hope within them: if you really really have a dream, and you work really hard, and never give up—even if you don't succeed the first time, or the second...if you believe in your dream and in can make it come true.

It certainly happened with me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Five Stars for Shaman's Spark

This book had me intrigued from the very first time I heard about it, and was so very excited when I finally received my copy. "Shaman's Spark", by Marcus Lawson is a Christian fantasy written with young adults in mind (although I fully believe it will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who loves fantasy).
The main characters are teenage boys who find themselves whisked into another world one night while they sleep. They awake in separate places of a land known as the Continent. They immediately become key players in an age old struggle between good and evil.
Mr. Lawson has a gift for painting pictures with words, effortlessly showing the reader all the fantastic creatures, places, and events that take place in this novel. I was whisked away right along with the boys, and found myself caught up in the action as they desperately struggle for the side of right and Adonai, the name for God in this mystical land.
"Shaman's Spark" is the first of a trilogy, and I await the next installment with bated breath!

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Gracious!!

I truly don't know why, after being a Christian most of my life, I am still amazed by the depth of my Savior's love for me.

Last night I came home from an event where I had books available for purchase. I had been really excited about this one because it was at my school, in conjunction with a "family reading" focus. I was offering book sales as a fund raiser for the school. I had advertised it with my friends, colleagues, newsletter, FB, etc. I even had a t-shirt printed up and made out order forms if "fans" wanted one for themselves. I just knew this was going to be a fantastic event!

I didn't sell a single book.

So, I was rather disheartened to say the least, once I got home. As I sat moping, thinking things I shouldn't have been thinking...("I can't believe soandso didn't buy a book", "I must have been in a bad location", "Well that was a disaster" get the point)...I pulled out my iPod and began just flipping through wallpapers. I kid you not, as I was scanning, one wallpaper appeared with the verse that states, "and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:7.

I stopped in my tracks! Right then, I prayed and asked for that peace, and was thankful for the reminder that whatever I was going through (even something as minor as my feelings being hurt), God had the ability to give me peace.

Then I continued with my scanning, saving pictures I liked. Again, in the midst of nature scenes and goofy cartoon characters, another wallpaper popped up. It was a rock with these words engraved on it: "You are loved". God wasn't through speaking to me! Not only did he offer me his peace, but he reminded me of his love.

OK. I went to bed that night asking forgiveness for my pity party, and asking for strength to seek out his will with these events in the future.

The next morning, I awoke with that same emptiness...not really wanting to come to school and face people with the fact that I had not sold one book at the event we were all working hard at! A sad admission after the amazing gift God had given me just the night before!

Now I don't know about your mornings, but in my house, we have morning rituals down to the second. There is usually no spare time from the minute I get out of bed until the time I am trying to get my teenage daughter out the door. Somehow this morning, I managed to sit down for a few minutes and had time to pray...asking God again to help me with his strength, his purpose, his love.

Guess what?

We were driving to school and one of my favorite songs started playing: "He Knows My Name"! The God of the universe, the master of all creation, the One who reached through sin and death to save me, KNOWS me! And He loves me so much; he cares about my feelings so deeply; he knows my weaknesses and my needs to such a degree; that he would take time and effort to show me over and OVER again how much he cares.

How gracious is our Lord.