Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Small Part of the Whole

Ever since I was a little girl I've been fascinated by books, enchanted by happy endings, and consumed with stories. I saw plots in everything (I still do) and found myself daydreaming more than I'd like to admit.

Now, as I'm officially "grown up" (or at least I'm supposed to be) I still find that these same things hold my attention. I'm sucked into "what if" scenarios in my mind all the time. A line from an article or blog or a photograph can cause me to tailspin into another world. One of my own making.

Have you ever had a dream so big you though you'd explode unless it came true? 

Sometimes I feel that way about writing. I know I don't need to be published to be a writer. Though the validation does sound appealing. To think that someone could find my writing intriguing enough to make a commitment to it. To endorse it. To believe in it like I already do...

And yet that's not what it's about, is it? It's not about validation, though I want that. It's not about credit or notoriety either, though I also seem to want that at times too.

It's about passion. 

I am passionate about writing. Sometimes I doubt whether my writing is any good, but at the end of the day if I'm not writing because I love it, then I'm writing for the wrong reasons. That doesn't mean I don't want to learn and improve my craft, because I do. And I realize that improvement will be painful and almost unbearable at times, but it will be worth it.

The dreamer in me has plans. Oh so many plans and schemes and hopes. Things I think could happen and things that only God could bring about.

But for me...for now...it's enough to dream and see what He makes of it all. Because, in reality, I am only a small part of the whole. A piece in the puzzle.

And that is enough for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Krista Phillips {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Welcome Krista to the blog! Make sure you leave a comment for her to enter for a chance to win a copy of A Side Of Faith! 
 
A little bit about Krista...

Krista Phillips is the author of Sandwich, with a Side of Romance and A Side of Faith. She enjoys life with her husband and their four beautiful daughters in Tennessee. She is an advocate for congenital heart defect and organ donation awareness and blogs at www.kristaphillips.com.

How to connect with Krista...

Website:www.kristaphillips.com  
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/kristaphillips  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorkristaphillips  
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kristaphillips
Purchase: A Side of Faith (A Sandwich Novella) (Volume 1) 

Author Interview | Krista Phillips


You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing when I was 19. I outlined this dramatic romance filled with tears and emotions... I never got past chapter 3. Marriage and kids and work came, and still... chapter 3 always haunted me.

...In 2007, God tapped on my heart and whispered that it was time to put aside chapter 3 and write something different.

...So I tried my hand at a bit of a romantic comedy, and 3 months later, I'd finished my first novel! Adding a bit of fun to my books was exactly what I'd been missing!


Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Honestly, that first book I wrote will always be my favorite. I'd have to completely rewrite it for it to be publishable, but it was my first baby and I'll always treasure that story.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
Hardest: Waiting.
Easiest: Getting caught up in the story world. It's my favorite part!


Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about what you're working on right now.
...I'm actually working on two right now. I'm finishing up a novella, A Side of Hope that will be releasing in January.

...But the full length I'm currently editing and polishing is called
The Price of Love. I've always had a not-so-secret guilty pleasure of watching The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. Most times it's like watching a train wreck that you just can't tear your eyes away from. It flows like fiction, but these are real people's lives. I've always been fascinated by the idea of what goes on "after" the show, so wanted to write a story about that. So The Price of Love takes place six months AFTER my characters were contestants on a reality TV dating show that I made up. :-)

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Oh yes. Hanna is the main character, and I pretty much love her. She's sweet but tough, a petite blond who carries around a hunting rifle in her big ol' truck, and loves Jesus.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God calls us to love and forgive. To lift each other up instead of tear each other down. That the words, the things we say, even on social media, can have long reaching effects that impact more than we could ever imagine.


Writing
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...A little bit of both! Most times they start from something real life sparked in my mind, and then they morph into something very unique.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I'm a mom who loves to read. Reading is my recreation, my escape time from the crazy that is my life. That's what I want my books to be. A clean read that allows a woman to relax and escape for just a bit, to laugh a little, maybe cry a little, and at the end, be encouraged in their relationship with Jesus.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Give your writing career to Jesus. His hands are the BEST place for it.

You

What will you/did you do for Thanksgiving?
...EAT TURKEY! We do a big family Thanksgiving with my side of the family. I'll make cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then go to my sister's house and enjoy dinner with my parents and siblings and their families. The house will be packed with probably 25-30 people. Then we sit around and play Euchre and look at Black Friday ads in the paper!

What is your favorite food of the Thanksgiving dinner?
...My mom's mashed potatoes and selfishly, my rolls. I make GIANT yeast rolls that are pretty much amazing, if I do say so myself.

What are three things you’re thankful for?
1.) Jesus
2.) My family 

3.) The ability to stay home with my girls and do what I love.

___________________________

Thank you so much for joining us here at Thinking Thoughts! I love the idea of your next book - sounds really interesting. I've often wondered the same things. I also really appreciate your approach to writing and what your intentions are for writing. I think we can all use a little bit of escape now and then :)  And AMEN to handing our writing careers over to Jesus. I'm totally on board with that! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope to see you back on the blog soon!

Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for Krista below to enter to win a copy of her novel, A Side Of Faith.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nowhere to Turn by Lynette Eason | RE:View

Danielle Harding and her son Simon face a serious problem - Kurt, an abusive husband and father. After finally working up the courage to leave, Danielle discovers that her husband has died. Initially, Danielle thinks it's an answer to her prayers for deliverance, but instead she finds the trouble has just started.

In order to protect her son, Danielle turns to Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge for help. Will he be able to find them a safe house while dealing with his own personal issues? Will Danielle and Simon finally be able to breathe easy, knowing they are safe? Or will Kurt's last wishes haunt his family long after he's gone.

I had the chance to read the first book in this series, No One To Trust, and enjoyed this second installment. Eason is great at keeping you guessing all the way to the end! I will say, however, that some parts did feel a little slow in the middle and I found myself wishing there had been a little bit more chemistry between Adam and Danielle.

That said, this was a great, thrilling read that will surprise you over and over again. A definite recommendation to those who like romantic suspense!

Purchase: Nowhere to Turn: A Novel (Hidden Identity) (Volume 2)

Book Description
(from Lynette's website)
The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe–but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold readers in its iron grip. Bestselling author Lynette Eason propels readers along at a breakneck pace in a race to discover the truth and a better future.
_______________ 
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Just Keep Writing (part 3)

First off, I'd like to invite you all to hop on over to the Seekerville blog today and join in on the conversation! We're talking about photography and writing and how that plays out in descriptive writing!

Join the fun: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/11/writing-like-photographer-key-to.html

 ***


 We're into crazy Week 3!!! Can you believe it?

As of right now I'm at 26,868 words (yes, behind for today...) but hope to meet my daily goal by tonight! How are you doing?

What's that you say? You're stuck? You're behind? You've never written so many words all in one place before? You don't know where you're stories going? You're almost done with the plot you'd planned to use...and you're only half way through the month?

Well, not to worry - you're not alone if you can say any of the above statements. If fact, you're in great company! I've heard from several friends who are desperately behind, don't know what their next chapter will be, are almost at the end of their plot, or are just plain tired.

Sometimes it helps to know you're in good company.

But, as much as the sentiment is good, that doesn't mean it helps your writing. I've compiled a list of ten things you can do to add to your word count.

10 Ways to "Just Keep Writing"

1. Keep writing. 
Yep, simple as that sounds, it's important that you don't give up! You

2. Do some research.
If you're stuck, sometimes the best way to get "unstuck" is to gain more insight into something you're writing about. Personal example: Researching gunshot sounds...it not only helped me describe a scene, but add to it as well!

3. Take a break.
Stressed you aren't going to make your personal deadline? Take a break. Go for a walk, make a cup of coffee, take a short nap. Take the time to let your creativity rest and it's almost a guarantee you'll gain some inspiration to get back to it!

4. Talk to someone.
Talk out your plot! I did that a few nights ago at dinner with my roommates and -BAM- got an idea.

5. Add a plot twist. 
Lacking in word count? Add a plot twist.  You may have to go back and set it up in earlier chapters, but if you can think of something to add that will not only add interest but words, do it!

6. Add a character.
Again, you may need to go back and add them into the beginning (something to be done AFTER NaNo) but stick them in there now. I'd recommend adding notes about areas where you think you could add them in earlier, just not doing that during November.

7. Add a subplot.
In line with adding things, if you are close to the end of your novel and you're only half way through NaNo (maybe 25k words or so) you definitely could benefit from adding a subplot. Maybe it doesn't start until half way through, or maybe you'll add in more later, but either way, you'll need something to help you sustain momentum until the end!

8. Extend your scenes. 
You don't want to go around prolonging everything...but maybe some of your scenes are too short? Consider lengthening some here and there but make sure the additions are profitable and not just filler ;)

9. Think it through.
Take a few minutes, sit back, and really think through your plot. This, in combination with #3, can be very helpful. It's like when your mind relaxes at night before bed and you get a great idea. Your brain needs space to work and think in order to create. Give it that space.

10. Draw out feelings and emotions.
These things are SO helpful! Not only for adding words (hehe) but also for really creating a scene that you can feel and include your readers in. Take time to make sure you're adding in thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So, how are you holding up in the excitement of week two?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Linda Wood Rondeau {Writer Wednesday}

Before I introduce this weeks interview, I have a WINNER from last week's giveaway offered by the lovely Janet Sketchley.

Mary Preston

Congrats Mary! Contact me via the contact from to the left and we'll arrange to get you a copy of Secrets and Lies!

________________________

A little bit about Linda...

Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel The Other Side of Darkness, LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes blended contemporary fiction that speaks to the heart and offers hope to those with damaged lives. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida. Another release, A Christmas Prayer, (aka A Father’s Prayer) was a finalist for both the 2014 Selah and Carol Awards.


Other books include: It Really IS a Wonderful Life, Joy Comes to Dinsmore Street, Days of Vines and Roses and her non-fiction book, I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children, also part of a compilation (Uplifting Devotionals).A sequel Joy Comes to Dinsmore Street, (Snow on Eagle Mountain) is expected to be released soon.

Rondeau’s Jolly Angel, is also part of a compilation, Blue Heaven Romances.

How to contact Linda...


Author Interview| Linda Wood Rondeau 

You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why?
...There are so many to choose from. Like my taste in music, I enjoy any story that is well written, and can be as content reading a science fiction as a historical epic. As for contemporary writers, I have enjoyed reading Sue Monk Kidd. Her stories speak to the heart and deal with the hurts people carry with them into their present lives. I write, to show hope. That our worst past, with God’s help, becomes our best future.

What is one book or resource you would recommend to other writers? Why?
...I highly recommend Browne and King’s book: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. It is comprehensive on the elements of good fiction writing.

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
...For years, I felt frustrated as a writer. Although I had published many shorter works and had an agent for several years, the constant up and down of hopeful connections leading to ultimate rejection wore me down. Then, eleven years to the date, I felt God’s unquestionable call to give my writing talent over to him, my agent called with my first book length publishing contract: The Other Side of Darkness. The original title was Dawn’s Hope. The publisher wanted to change the title based on a line in the book where Zach is seeking God’s guidance. He hears God’s voice telling him to take His hand and follow. “Where, Lord?” Zach asks. To which God answers, To the other side of darkness.

...The amazing thing is that, unknown to my publisher, this was the very same call I received eleven years before. When God called me to write, I sat down and wrote a poem:

SONG OF PEACE

Praise the Lord most when
you cannot sing
Though broken, you are
beautiful

Praise the Lord when Hope
seems foolish
There is light on the other
side of darkness

Praise the Lord and believe
His goodness

Look at His creations and
give Him praise
for the stars shine
brightest in the night

Though defeat seems imminent
Praise Him still
Praise Him though sorrow
seems endless
The vast Horizon meets the
sky undefined yet limitless

Your Deliverer hears
He will lift you High above
the troublesome sea

This is the Song of Peace

Copyright ©2000 Linda Rondeau

...How great is God to affirm our call beyond any shadow of doubt.

--> Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book.
...I had never pictured myself as a Christmas novelist. It Really IS a Wonderful Life, the story of an Iraq war widow who finds new life and purpose when she joins a theater group in production for the play It’s A Wonderful Life, was originally a women’s fiction set during the Christmas season, and titled Tomorrow Will Find Me. Though it garnered interest, it had difficulty finding a home. I rewrote the book as a romance and I saw the improvement. Then my agent suggested I make it a Christmas story. The title jumped out at me. Both Jamey and Dorie need to learn that sometimes we serve God best in our own backyards. The characters’ in Midville, the setting for the book, parallel those in the movie. I drew from my Community Theater experience and knew when I typed, THE END, it would resonate.

...While writing, A Christmas Prayer, a story about a journalist and a Country singer who have differing agendas for the autistic child they both love, I drew not only from my social work experience, but from being the primary caretaker for my then 12-year-old autistic grandson for a period of six months.

...Joy Comes to Dinsmore Street was birthed when I reconnected with a dear cousin after decades apart. We’d been close, but life got in the way. We reminisced about the fun times we had at her home and at our grandparents’ house. I wondered what other events might separate two women who loved each other as sisters. The story takes place on the eve of Christmas 2000, just before the New Millennium. When a long-lost cousin pays a visit after a forty-year disappearance, old hurts resurface but bring healing.


What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...As in all my books, I hope the reader will learn that our worst past, with God’s help becomes our best future.

You

Favorite writing snack: ...Chocolate. Did I mention chocolate? I love chocolate.

Book you’re working on right now:
...I am working on three books at this time. I recently signed a two-book contract with Elk Lake Publishing for Red Sky Promise, a romance set in the Adirondacks, where my hero finds healing from child neglect and sexual molestation; as well as Fiddler’s Fling, also a romance featuring a heroine who had spurned her musical gift in order to please a demanding fiancé. In addition to these two fictional works, I am compiling a Bible Study, based on my newspaper articles, Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt.

If you could go anywhere in the world for one month (for free) where would it be and why? 
...No brainer. The British Isles. I have always been fascinated with English History. 
___________________________
Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Linda! I love that you shared Song of Peace with us! I love how he confirms us in ways that speak to our hearts specifically! And I'm 100% with you on the chocolate ;)

***Readers, make sure to comment for a chance to win a copy of one of these books! Comment about which sounds the most interesting to you or leave a comment for Linda! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.***

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

FACEme Blog Tour | Who We Are In God

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14

I was asked to participate in this challenge with many other authors and readers. Joining meant that we agreed to post a picture of ourselves without makeup, write a post, and encourage others to join us.

I agreed at once thinking, Of course I want to do this! How amazing to shout from the internet-rooftops that we ARE fearfully and wonderfully made and beautiful because we are His! Yes! 

{Insert fist pump and cheer here}

But then it hit me...wait a second, I look so tired without make up and everyone is going to see this. Oh, it's no big deal. I'm a photographer. I know how to use the light so that it's most flattering, I'll just--

Wait. What was I saying? I'd agreed to do this post in support of showing our natural beauty and I wanted to manipulate it so that I looked better. Ugh. I realized I needed this more than I thought.

Who we are in God

I've written a few posts about this (one titled I Wish was a popular guest post) but that doesn't mean I fully "get" who I am in God all of the time. Sadly, it's entirely too easy to be caught up in what the world says is attractive.

Thin...long hair...short hair...bright eyes...no wrinkles...fit...stylish...tall...short...funny...sarcastic...sweet...caring...

You get the point. There are so many different "standards" that it's amazing we still fall for the lie. The lie that there is a "type of perfection" we need to achieve to be considered beautiful.

God never once says that in the scriptures. In fact, the Bible talks about beauty being vain. And yet we (I'm speaking for women here...sorry fellas can't speak to how you feel about beauty) desire to be called and recognized as beautiful in order to feel beautiful.

I'd say (speaking to the single ladies - can I get a "woot"?) it's especially difficult because we want to hear that we're beautiful from a man. Girlfriends will say we look good and Mom and Day will say we've always been beautiful, but it doesn't feel true because we're thinking, "Hello - if I'm still single I must not be that beautiful." That's another post for another day, but I wanted to validate that we single women (at least some of us) feel this way at times.

BUT, when we dig deeper into what beauty really is, we find that it's more than just our outward appearance. It's more than what others can see on a first meeting. Beauty is a compilation of things. It's who we are, not what we are.

Beauty is...

...fearing the Lord
...a gentle and quiet spirit
...seen from the eyes of those who love us

...made by God
...found in Christ

So, why do we think we can find it elsewhere? Why do we think it's true if someone else says it? There is nothing wrong with putting on makeup up or dressing stylishly, there is something wrong when those things become more important than who we are in Christ.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. To truly be satisfied with who I am right now, in this moment without makeup on, I need to be satisfied in Him. I won't find rest for my discontented heart until I find my true, beautiful identity in Him. The creator of the universe who cares for the sparrows and clothes the lilies of the field.

Me without makeup!

My challenge to you: Post a makeup-less picture of yourself on your Facebook pages....Dare to show your beauty!
___

Check out these other blog participants in the #FACEme challenge blog tour!

Nick Kording: http://nickkording.com/thoughts/
Lindsay Harrel: http://www.lindsayharrel.com
Joseph Courtemanche: http://www.commotioninthepews.com
Gabrielle Meyer: http://www.gabriellemeyer.com
Jaime Wright: http://coffeecupsandcamisoles.blogspot.com
Carrie Wisehart: http://www.carriewisehart.com
Andrea 'Dia' Nell: http://andrea-michelle-wood.blogspot.com/
Sarah Baker: http://godbooksandchocolate.blogspot.com/?m=1
KristyCambron: http://www.kristycambron.com
Rachel Britz: http://www.rachelbritz.com
Cara Putman: http://www.caraputman.com
Stacy Monson: http://www.Landof10000words.wordpress.com
Laurie Tomlinson: http://www.laurietomlinson.com
Katherine Blackburn Reay: http://www.katherinereay.com/
Katie Ganshert: http://katieganshert.com/

Monday, November 10, 2014

NaNoWriMo Motivation: Get Creative (part 2)

We talked about this a little in my NaNoWiMo Prep series (you can find the post here) but I think it should be repeated now, in the thick of Nano-goodness.

Remember why you're writing


You are uniquely gifted to tell your story. You. No one else. We all have life experiences, trials, successes, failures - you name it - but they all shape us. I'm just writing a fictional novel, you may say. Well, that's okay, so am I. That doesn't lesson the fact that God has given me (and you) the ability to voice thoughts and feelings into your characters. We never know who will read our books, but we do know that our responsibility to write is to God and ourselves.

Remember who you're writing with 

 

I've talked about this numerous times - but you are not alone in this writing world. Sure, you may write alone (I tend to do my best work in a room by myself because, let's be honest, I make some funny faces and talk to myself when I write), but you are not alone. There's a difference. Utilize your friends and writing buddies but at this point in Nano, use them for support not critique. You're not there yet and that's totally okay! Remind them they are your cheerleaders, helping you make it to November 30th alive and 50,000 words richer.


Remember to take breaks 

www.pinterest.com/pin/7881368073465761/

What? Take a break? Yeah right, like I have time for that.

Well...you do. Maybe not a lot of time, but you definitely can use a 10 minute walk or 15 minutes lying on the ground wondering what just happened in the scene you wrote. Taking a break will actually help you. It will let things settle down in your mind and come into focus. I usually run in the mornings to help relieve stress but also to think through new plot ideas. This time is crucial!

Remember to love 

www.eacreativephotography.com

Um, what? Yeah, this kind of comes out of left field but hear me out [and no, this advice does not only apply to those writing romance].

This is an epic labor of love. Writing a novel takes more out of person than most understand. Even if you write and don't anticipate for anyone to see it--ever--it doesn't matter. It still contains a part of you. Therefore, love what you're doing, even when you don't "like" it sometimes.

**Nano update--how are you guys doing? Crushing goals, or getting crushed?**