Sunday, September 16, 2012

Southern Exposure


While I have not had time for writing lately I’m inspired by my writing friends I’ve made both as a member of ACFW and through the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference who seem to be putting out books right and left. It seems quick from my point of view but I know each and every one of them have put in long hours of writing and editing of their books.

I thought I’d share a few of those with new books or about to be released books. My last blog update was about Marcia Moston’s book; “Call of A Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife”. I met Marcia at my first BRMCWC in 2010. She had finished her book then and was waiting to get it published. I enjoyed getting to know her and found her to be very engaging. Read my blog to learn more about her book that was released in August through Thomas Nelson Publishers. Marcia made a move in the right direction as she now lives in SC. I just posted a review on Amazon of her book.

I believe it was in 2011 that I was in Boone visiting our son who attends ASU that another writer, Alice Wisler was doing a book signing with author, Marybeth Whalen at the local Christian bookstore. Alice is from Durham and I wanted to support my local writers so I made a point to go and that’s where I met Marybeth who had just released “The Mail Box”. I got a signed copy of her book and Alice’s’ “Hatteras Girl”. The Mail Box is written with the town of Sunset Beach as the location and a great story. I even had an opportunity to see Sunset Beach first hand when we vacationed nearby.

I thoroughly enjoyed her writing and so when I heard she was releasing another book; “The Guest Book” which is also set in Sunset Beach I was eager to read it. Marybeth graciously provided me a copy and I must apologize that I started on the book and then life happened. Full time work has greatly hindered my reading time. But it hasn’t hindered me from collecting a few books for future reading.

One such book by BRMCWC founder,Yvonne Lehman who lives in the mountains of NC not far from Ridgecrest was released this year titled “Hearts that Survive” A novel of the Titanic. I enjoyed spending some time with Yvonne around the dinner table and in her class at the conference. Her life should be a book. And because of her vision for the BRMCWC many writers have learned their craft and published many books that we enjoy today. I was fortunate to have an appointment with Yvonne while at the conference to discuss the book I’m currently working on and she was very encouraging. I had a little fun with her jesting about the ‘Violin Murder’ I wrote based on her keynote speech that week.

While at the conference this year I was pleased that Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio returned as a keynote speaker. His southern charm and wit makes for an engaging personality. But he has heart as well. I loved his book “They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick” that made for side splitting moments with my roommate at the 2010 BRMCWC. And this year was not disappointing either as he has released, “Dispatches from Bitter America” A Gun Toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist's Culture War Stories. His writing is entertaining and interesting as he shares from the inside of his world at Fox News.

Wherever Todd is at conference you can be sure he is surrounded by people who enjoy his political humor and perspective. I’ll share a little secret with you Todd is working on his first fiction book which I’m sure will be hilarious.

My friend Lisa Carter who I met in 2010 and lives in Raleigh, received her first book contract while at the 2012 conference. Her book, “Aloha Rose” will be released in November 2013. Now you see how long it takes to go from writing to publishing. It will be part of the Quilts of Love Series published by Abingdon Press. I’m looking forward to reading her work. There are many more I could mention but will have to save it for another post. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Call of a Coward


I’ve finished reading the soon-to-be-released book by Marcia Moston titled “Call of a Coward”. If I had been called and written the book, it would have been titled “Call of a Bigger Coward” because I would have told God he misdialed if he had called me to leave my comfortable, secure home in the U.S. to serve in a foreign land. But that’s why he created people like Marcia.

Marcia and her husband, Bob are led to Guatemala as missionaries. I’m not sure they really planned to be missionaries, but the opportunity arose and off they went, well maybe Marcia was still holding onto the front door post. I met Marcia at my first Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference in 2010 where she won an award for this very story that had yet to be published. She is warm, friendly and engaging. It was great to get to see her again upon my return to the same conference two months ago at Ridgecrest.

Whether you are familiar with a missionary lifestyle or not you will enjoy “Call of a Coward” which will be released by Thomas Nelson Publishers on August 7th. You can pre-order her book through major stores like Amazon, CBD and Barnes & Noble. I could relate some to Marcia’s story. The church that my husband and I attend is overflowing with families being called into missions. Of course it helps that there is a prominent seminary in our hometown. It is amazing to be surrounded by so many families that are willing to go onto foreign soil to spread the gospel.

One such family, the Crosland’s with whom my husband and I became friends with through our ‘small group’ are fairly new to the mission field. They journeyed with their children over a year ago to Papua New Guinea and they asked us to be their Gatekeepers. We support them through prayer, financially and keep the church family informed of needs as well as encouraging them while they serve so far from home. And I still feel inadequate in that role but I get to do it from the comfort of my home. My husband had the opportunity to travel to Papua New Guinea a year ago this month to work alongside the Crosland’s for three weeks. As the wife left behind; I was very concerned for my husband’s travel, staying healthy and returning safely. The 3 days of travel to get there would have been a feat for me since I do not like to fly. I do sound like a coward, don’t I? You can read more of his adventure in PNG via my August 8, 2011 blog post.

Reading “Call of a Coward” gives a true picture of a missionary life. Marcia tells about her experience through words that are so descriptive you feel as if you are there with her. She shares her thoughts, fears, prayers and about the relationships she developed with the Mayan people. It’s riveting and touching as she opens her heart to share her journey from a reluctant missionary to a determined one.
Faith is the foundation that supports a missionary through the struggles, concerns and provisions that gives them the strength to serve.

I admire those that have that kind of faith and adventuresome spirit. Missionaries leave the comfort and safety of life in the states to serve people of different cultures, languages, live on an income that is well below American standards and without the modern conveniences that we have become accustomed to for many decades. And many have children with them as they serve like Marcia. If you enjoy adventure, traveling or would like to know more about missions you can do it from the comfort of your cozy chair in your cool home while sipping some sweet ice tea and read “Call of a Coward”. Learn more about my friend and author at http://marciamoston.com.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Facebook Finds the Writer Within"


What is it about Facebook that so many people are drawn to join? It’s a way of communicating your opinions, ideas and life experiences. You select who your audience is depending on who you add as a ‘Friend’ or even make it available to the ‘public’. Within reason you can publish photos and words of your own choosing.

In many ways it’s similar to writing a book, article or story. You write based on your experiences and interests. As a writer, you somewhat select your audience based on the readers of your particular genre and you’ll have some who will read your writing because they know you personally or know your friends. In writing your desire is to entertain, inform, influence and keep your reader reading.

Who knew that Facebook would become the entity that it has. Companies use it as a way to promote their service or products? They want you to hit the “Like” button which says that you agree with them, their philosophy or their product. And when you post to your Facebook page you are promoting yourselves in a way. You strive to have readers read your post and comment, right? It can also be a way to promote your causes, whether it’s “Save the Whales” or “Cure for Cancer” for example.

So perhaps you didn’t join Facebook to become a writer. But you are writing and people are reading. Writing fiction is a way to convey the passions, beliefs, interests of your characters that help the reader get to know them better. My challenge is to spend more time writing my novel. I will continue to follow fellow writers on Facebook to see how their writing journey is going, to be encouraged as they reach pivotal points in their writing career and the opportunity to encourage them as well.

Is there a writer within you that you'd like to develop on a more intentional level?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Wine Before It's Time



Once again I can give you hundreds of excuses for not blogging in the past year. But that would only bore you. So, let me share about my recent attendance to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest in the beautiful mountains of NC. The first year I attended was in 2010 and it was a wonderful experience. I attended many classes taught by talented people, enjoyed worship time with hundreds of writers, had an encouraging critique and met wonderful individuals with various backgrounds from all parts of the U.S.

And this year was even better. I got reacquainted with old friends and made many new ones. The great part about returning for the 2012 conference is I knew what to expect. It’s like going from the freshmen class to a rising junior. You don’t feel as awkward; you’re not as intimidated meeting authors that before your only connection were seeing their names on the book covers at your local Barnes and Noble. Award winning author, Susan May Warren pointed out in her keynote speech this year that if we’re not careful we’ll fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other writers. It’s easy to do when you’re surrounded by talent. But you are reminded that everyone started somewhere and you have to work on honing your craft. The Winery Company “Paul Masson” is best remembered for its 1970s commercial with actor, director and writer, Orson Welles, who promised for Masson: "We will sell no wine before its time”.

A similar statement could be said about writers. “We will sell no novels before its time”. That is if we’re smart. Why settle for mediocre when you can have excellent. Mediocre writing will send our readers looking for titles by other authors. When readers have invested in an e-book or hard copy they expect quality writing for their time as well as their money. For some of us it may take two years or others ten years before they get a book published. The point is we have to do the homework. For me that includes a lot of writing and rewriting, reading, research, reading books on writing, listening to the advice of writers, editors, agents and publishers. Add a large dose of prayer and patience for good measure.

This year I connected with the fact that as writers we are a different breed. As an artist I always felt like I looked at things differently and as a writer our creative nature can be very imaginative. We connect with our characters, we talk to them, we love him, we change them and sometimes we kill them off. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Writers aren't exactly people...they're a whole lot of people trying to be one person”.

I was glad to know that other writers also struggle with finding time to write. Not that I want them to struggle you understand. It’s so easy to find other things that need to be done. So this year that will be a goal to actually schedule time to study the craft of writing and do the writing. I started my current work in progress after attending the 2010 conference. I have a tendency to think it has to be perfect before I put it down on paper and I know that I need to turn off my self-edit button and just write.

"At least one study of blocked writers has found that they were more productive and more creative when they were essentially forced to write instead of scribbling only when the mood struck them”. This statement was made by writer, Daniel Akst and needs to be my mantra. So if you’re a writer, put the pen to the paper. If not, then find a good book to read. Next time I’ll share some of my favorite Christian authors.