Sunday, December 30, 2007
I get a heavy feeling upon my shoulders. I feel rushed. Suddenly, the morning is gone and I'm late - when I should've had plenty of time to get ready. Goodness, I've been up since six. Three hours is plenty of time to get ready and make it to church on time.
That's what I'm talking about. Getting to church on Sunday mornings. You'd think I was putting on a ton of armor and going onto a desert battlefield.
I'm just going to spend an hour with a few preschoolers.
How hard can that be?
Why do I make it so hard?
Why do I listen to that little voice, that speaks to me as I'm rushing through the house? The voice that tells me I'm not good enough. I should quit.
But I haven't listened to that voice yet. I'm still teaching Sunday School and every Sunday, the class works out fine. No matter how prepared I am, or not. It's like the Lord is watching over me and helps me communicate His word to these little children. His little children.
I am reminded, when I look into their precious little faces, that they love the Lord with an innocence I need to revisit. They know God and they know Jesus and it's my job to teach them stories of the Bible.
No wonder the Devil wants to put a roadblock in my path every Sunday morning.
But I'm not going to let him.
It's easy to quit. However, I couldn't live with myself. I made a commitment and I'm going to see it through.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Here, you're looking at the sailing club.
My next trip here, I want to get out and walk the beach. There were four people out here today, with their dog. I guess people are like me: curious. Interested.
Or maybe they were just walking off Christmas Eve lunch.
Anyway, I'm rambling. I can't help my sentimental side. It takes over when I get near the lake.
We've been blessed with rain this week, but we're still in a water crisis. We will be for some time. It'll take a lot of rain to cover all these bare spots you see in the pictures above. Conservation is key.
But our beaches will be full again.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008)
Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westward Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She lives in Lebanon, Montana, with her husband and their four children.
This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way. Think Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.
In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.
But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.
But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This week, the
Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)
Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.
Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
A Shadow of Treason
Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.
Click Here to read the first chapter of A Shadow of Treason.
Q and A with Tricia!
Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?
A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.
Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?
A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.
I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.
Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?
A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.
Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?
A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!
Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?
A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting conclusion to the series!
Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?
A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.
I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!
Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).
She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:
From Dust and Ashes (2003)
Night Song (2004)
Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005);
Arms of Deliverance (2006)
A Valley of Betrayal (2007)
A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)
A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)
Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.
Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.
Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).
Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell, Montana. Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.
Read more about Tricia by visiting her website.
Monday, December 10, 2007
here's a closer view in case you didn't see it the first time ;)
The picture above is me standing on Old Cleveland Hwy, facing the Cleveland Hwy Bridge.
When Lake Lanier was formed, many houses were left, and just flooded. Many trees were cut, but not completely sawed down.
And as you can see below, this bridge was left too.
Just an overview of the slope. What you'd normally walk on while wading further into the water. It's always the interesting and kind of scary part of swimming in the lake is how it seems to just drop off on you.
And to complete this short tour of Laurel Park at Lake Lanier...
Then we traveled back home via Hwy 129, Cleveland Hwy and stopped at Laurel Park on Lake Lanier.
If I told you we were going to Laurel Park just to play on the playground or walk the trails, I'd be telling you a tall tale.
We were on a mission.
To uncover Looper Speedway.
My grandmother made the 6 o'clock news, talking about Looper Speedway. I noticed in an article in the AJC, they call it Gainesville Speedway. Click here to view that video on WSBTV.com.
Aside from details, there is a racetrack under Lake Lanier. We found the bleachers, proof it exists today.
Here, Blake and I pose with the kiddies on the Looper Speedway bleachers!
Blake's getting a piece of the bleacher as a keepsake. Of course, I had to bring home a piece too.
I love this picture because it says "community."
Kari and I met a couple as we were looking for the bleachers. I could smell the coffee wafting with the steam out of their coffee mugs as we climbed upon the steep land left when the water was pulled out of the lake. This couple, I never caught their name, lives in a cove near the boat ramp at Laurel Park. Laurel was one of the first boat ramps closed by the Corps in October. This couple's dock is sitting on dry land. But like us, they were out exploring and together we found the bleachers. The couple is in the background, talking with the other explorers. I told the lady there's nothing like a dried up like to bring a community together.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
A year ago, I had the exciting opportunity to embark on a journey. I visited an Old Order Amish family in Pennsylvania. I was introduced to seventeen-year old Hannah and her friend Paul, a Mennonite who visited his Grandmother near Hannah's home. I met Hannah's parents, her sisters and brothers, and several of her friends. I even met the Bishop. This journey was a special one. I couldn't have experienced it had I walked through the town alone. I couldn't have become so involved with these people had I not opened the book by Cindy Woodsmall, When the Heart Cries.
Cindy's first book left such an emotionally powerful impression on me, I couldn't wait for the release of When the Morning Comes, Book 2 in the Sisters of the Quilt Series.
I was not disappointed. With Hannah, I traveled to Ohio. I met new people and worried for her safety. I giggled as she was introduced to, and learned to use, the items of every day living that I take for granted. Hannah adapted so well to this new way of life, my heart was a little twisted when I learned of all the things going on in Owl's Perch with her family. This is where being a reader is fun. Especially in the literary world Cindy Woodsmall created. You can visit every family, but expect to laugh. Expect your heart strings to be pulled. And like me, you'll look forward to Book 3, and pray, Lord willing, that Hannah will finally find the peace and happiness she's been looking for since Book 1.
About the Book:
Her relationship with fiancé Paul Waddell in tatters, Hannah Lapp has fled her secluded Old Order Amish community in hopes of finding a new home in Ohio with her shunned aunt. Hampered by limited education and hiding her true identity, Hannah struggles to navigate the confusing world of the Englischers.
Back in Owl's Perch, Pennsylvania, Paul is wracked with regret over his treatment of Hannah. Fearing for her safety, he tries to convince Hannah's remaining allies--brother Luke, best friend Mary, and loyal Matthew Esh--to help search for his love. Hannah's father, however, remains steadfastly convinced of her sinful behavior. His blindness to his family's pain extends to her sister, Sarah, who shows signs of increasing instability.
Convinced her former life is irreparably destroyed, Hannah finds purpose and solace in life with her aunt and in a growing friendship with Martin Palmer. Will the countless opportunities in her new life persuade Hannah that her place is amongst the Englischers--or will she give in to her heart's call to return home and face her past?
A little about Cindy
A mother of three sons and one daughter in-law, she lives in Georgia with her husband of twenty-nine years.
Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families give her books true authenticity.
Her latest book, When the Morning Comes, hit the number-four spot on the CBA best-sellers list for two months running, coming in directly under two New York Times best-selling authors: Karen Kingsbury and Beverly Lewis.
Her debut novel, When the Heart Cries, also hit that best-sellers list. The sales of book two have been strong enough to pull her debut novel back onto the CBA best-sellers list for both of those months also.
Hi Cindy! Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
Thanks for having me join you on your blog. It was great to see you the other night. Last year, during our Writers of Remarkable Design holiday gathering, we had four people come. This year we had twelve! If anyone lives in the northeast Georgia area, check us out: http://www.acfwword.com/
Like a lot of writers, stories kept hounding me. Though I purposefully ignored them so that my life and goals weren’t interrupted, they became louder and louder. I prayed for them to go away, but instead, they seemed to take on a weight, as if concrete blocks had been placed on my shoulders. Desperate for relief, I decided if I took the time to write some of the stories that were going on inside my head, they’d finally leave me alone. I began writing and the stories poured forth for months. I didn’t edit, plot, or research. I also didn’t sleep or eat much, but I have written eight of the worst novel manuscripts you can imagine. And I attained my goal! Finally the stories quieted. All but one. That one story continued to beg for more attention.
I read a Christian fiction book that really touched my heart, so I sent an e-mail to the author saying how much the book meant to me and that I was interested in writing. The author responded and told me about the very first (what is now called) American Christian Fiction Writers conference that was coming up in a few months. My husband was absolutely positive I was to attend that conference. That set the wheels in motion and I’ve been greatly blessed by that organization. That’s where I met freelance editor Kathy Ide, which is a whole God story in and of itself. Long story short, I began learning how to form a story idea into a full-length novel.
What's your daily writing schedule?
I’m usually in my home office by eight. Because I don’t want to get comfortable eating or snacking at the computer, I stop for a quick lunch and then return to work until time to be carpool mom or time for the other moms to drop my teen off at home. After my still-in-the-nest child is home, the schedule fluctuates around homework, dinner, and extracurricular needs, but I often slip back to the computer by eight in the evening and work until bedtime.
After writing professionally for several years, I found that I need at least one day when I don’t even check e-mails, and my favorite day for that is Sunday. Even in our modern culture, there is something special about Sundays and it refreshes me like a mini vacation that I can look forward to each week—church, naps, and family time. I limit my Saturday office time to five hours: ten a.m. to three p.m. and not one minute added to it. ;-) But spending the amount of time in my office that I’ve just described includes every aspect of the writing career, from answering e-mails to doing research to critiquing work for my critique partner to marketing to having prayer and Bible time.
In your writing, are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I’m a super plotter who can let go and fly by the seat of my pants. I’ve discovered that there are quite a few of us around.
Here’s how this works for me. After mulling over story ideas for weeks, I’m ready to brainstorm with my hubby and then with my critique partner and sometimes with my editor. After that I devise a character chart with the name, age, upbringing, and personality of each character. The upbringing aspect gets the most time. I need to know what the personality and beliefs of each parent was during child rearing in order to fully understand who each character is.
From there I write out what each character’s goals, motivations, and obstacles are for that novel. With that info in hand, I write a four- or five-page synopsis. Because my publishing house requires a chapter-by-chapter outline for the marketing team, I write that too. But that tends to be written as I’m writing the story, not before. If incident crossovers and timeline issues are tight, I’ll use the chapter-by-chapter document to write specifically what happens when, where, and how. If timing issues aren’t a problem, I’ll fill in the chapter-by-chapter document after I’ve written the chapters.
But even with all that documentation, if the story or characters go a different direction from the plan and I sense it’s the right thing to allow, I let creativity lead the way. I’ve found that because of all the plotting, my creative, free-flying times have a solid framework. The creativity may go in all sorts of unplanned directions, but those new paths somehow end up remaining true to the goal.
When the Morning Comes opens in the middle of the night with Hannah stepping off a train in Alliance, Ohio. How much of Hannah's experience, at the train station, in the town, did you walk yourself?
While working on the first manuscript in the series, When the Heart Cries, my hands-on research began long before I was under contract. An Old Order Amish woman I was working with via a third party invited me to visit her home. So my youngest son and I boarded a train in Gainesville, Georgia, around midnight and began the journey to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I knew my main character in the series would take a train, so I figured this was good research.
When I began the research for When the Morning Comes, I couldn’t locate enough information about the Alliance, Ohio, depot to be able to visualize it in my head. I’d write thirty thousand words and then delete thirty thousand words and start again, only to repeat the process. After nearly two months of this, I told my husband I was going to have to see the depot in Alliance, Ohio, before I could write the book. We agreed that since I’d ridden an eighteen-hour train trip to Pennsylvania and back and was comfortable with changing trains and such, I should be able to make plans to get off in Alliance. But when I tried to get a ride from the Alliance depot to a hotel, I couldn’t find either taxi or bus service. So I chickened out and asked my husband to take a winter vacation and drive to Ohio with me.
When we arrived in Alliance, it was dark by the time we found the train depot. When we pulled up to the depot, I got out of the vehicle and had one of those experiences writers have sometimes . . .
Snow swirled through the frigid night air. The dilapidated depot stood dark, empty, and locked tight. There was no one on the premises. A blue-and-white emblem of a phone stood out as a beacon of hope to my poor character who would land there at two in the morning on a winter’s night.
But when I went to the sign, there was no phone.
The hair down the back of my neck stood on end, chills ran amuck over my body, and the first third of the book rushed through my mind, making every scene fall into place. This was where my character would land. The stark reality of it was a gift.
An elderly couple pulled into the depot and turned off their vehicle. After serious hesitation, I dared to tap on their window and ask them a few questions. My husband and son waited patiently while the couple invited me into their warm van. They were wonderful people who’d lost a son to cancer the previous year, and they came to the depot regularly just to watch the train. That couple was able to answer all sorts of questions about train arrivals and departures, the depot, and the frequency of how often and how many people actually got off a train in Alliance, Ohio at two in the morning.
Okay, I have chills, too. To have a book come together like that must be amazing! Cindy, have you received any feedback from the Amish and Mennonites regarding your books?
It has surprised me how much positive feedback I’ve received from Amish and Plain Mennonite readers. I’ve made friends, supporters, and even a technical advisor in these contacts. All of the letters have been special to me, but a few stand out. I heard from some Plain women who were in or who witnessed similar circumstances, and the story brought a sense of deeper understanding and healing.
Any last words you’d like to share with us?
If you’re an aspiring author, your greatest gift is what you feel in your heart after spending time waiting on, listening to, and walking with Him.
And I’d like to invite everyone to visit my Web site and enter the Amish Quilt contest! http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/
Thank you, Cindy! What an inspiring and exciting journey.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
(Steeple Hill December 4, 2007)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
WHO KILLED HER BOSS?
Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril
Sunday, December 2, 2007
The water tower in the center, far back, is at Lake Lanier Islands Beach and Waterpark.
Lord, bring the rain!
The photographer himself ;)
If you're interested in how you can help your characters elicit more emotion, stop by and see what Gail Gaymer Martin says about the topic at Writing Fiction Right blog.