Friday, April 25, 2008
Do you ever feel like you spend way too much time lurking? I'm at that stage for some reason. I get this way whenever things in my life aren't going well (or MY way) or if I don't feel as if I'm fitting in or I'm just plain bored.
So, I lurk. I wait. I think. I sigh. I don't post on the blog. I don't work on anything that thrills me. Today I did put up an interview with the amazing Annie Jones. She writes the kind of fiction I like to read.
What's one more word written in the blog world? Who's going to miss it? In the meantime I've read quite a few manuscripts in my job, and I evaluated them. I got through a couple of books I've been wanting to read,as well.
The Lost Sheep: A Colton Parker Mystery by Brandt Dodson Loved it--a police procedural that is written in first person POV. This is my first Brandt Dodson book and he's a member of the Indiana Chapter of ACFW.
A Suspicion of Strawberries by Lynette Sowell
The heartbreaker diva of Greenburg, Tennesee is dead. Andromeda Clark knows that her cherry facial scrub didn't accidentally kill Charla Rae Thacker from anaphylactic shock. But Andi's soap business is in trouble and tongues are a-waggin'. To save her business, she searches for the one who tampered with her product. And now Andi's long-time, long-haul trucker boyfriend Ben decides it's time to settle down and stay in Greenburg for good. How can a woman breathe?
What's fun about this book for me is that she has set it in the area of Tennessee that my family is from (though it is based on a real town, this isn't the real town.) She mentions the Tennessee River, where I spent many a summer as a child, and love of all loves, she mentions chocolate gravy! I hadn't thought about that taste treat for breakfast in some time. My Aunt Nell used to make it for us. My dad who was from this area of Tennessee was a long haul trucker. I'm well familiar with that life. It was a fun read and I look forward to the rest of my stack of Heartsong Presents Mysteries I have stacked here.
And I'm really glad I'm not allergic to strawberries. I love Ivanhoe's (a famous local restaurant) strawberry shortcake with soft vanilla ice cream and indulge in that once a year. Right now I indulge in carrots, lettuces and other assorted veggies. Ah, well. Such is the time of my life.
But for now, I am not feeling useful, nor with purpose. And my menu is getting boring.
What kinds of things light your fire within? What is it that you wanting to do at this point in your life? And more importantly, what are you eating these days that I'm not??
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Chip MacGregor on a writers' list once set up mentoring groups. He called them Pauls, Barnabases, & Timothys. The point was to set up a Paul with a Timothy and then a friend group, Barnabas. I don’t know if any of them worked out because of so many expectations and definitions for the word "mentor."
Betty Southard in her book, The Mentor Quest said about mentor myths: “Even the title ‘mentor’ often scares away a potential mentor or seeker. It implies lessons, structure, discipline, accountability, and maybe most discouraging, time…we don’t really want to spend a lot of time working on growth.”
Here’s what she says the “mentee’s” part is:
1. Personal responsibility for own growth
2. Look for mentoring in everyday activities and chance encounters.
3. Recognize the mentors around you.
4. Wherever you are, maintain a teachable spirit.
She says to list people who make a difference in your life. I adjusted it to writing, but you can adjust the list to fit your need in your own life:
1. Teachers from school/conferences/editors/agents
2. Three (writer) friends
3. Five people who taught you (writing)
4. A few people who made you feel appreciated or special (in writing)
5. Five people (writers) whom you enjoy spending time with
6. Heroes (Authors) whose stories (writing journeys) inspire you
These people mentor you.
You can also be any of the above at one point or another to mentor someone else, I think. Can you think of people in the points above? I am thinking of them today, and it's amazing to me how God brought just the right person along at just the right times in my life. The most important step to the process is to always have a teachable spirit and to "look" for those whose wisdom can be observed.
One of the questions asked of the high scholars in our community newspaper is, "If you could have dinner with anyone, who would that be?" (And this can be from history, whatever.)
I would want to have a dinner party! Or perhaps a series of dinner dates. I do enjoy talking to people over dinner. (It sounds rather tempting since I'm restricting my food.)
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
This is my good friend, Judy Gann, who is a children's librarian, and also an author. She knows a thing or two about books! Just about everyone in my life reads.
My whole world is full of books. I taught reading as a teacher and a mother and it was a special joy to me when a child first understood the words that danced on a page. Being the daughter of a functionally illiterate man whose dream was for me to go to college, his dreams are not only fulfilled, but have exploded and multiplied and has been passed on. I never dreamed I would influence the publishing market in any way. But I do, in my way, like my friend, Judy (and Carrie! Hi, Carrie!)But secretly every person who has learned to read, or reads a book that I have influenced, is a triumph for me (and my dad.)
Reuters had an article today about the Top 10 Favorite books of all time. Wow. I'm not sure what criteria was used or who voted (I didn't vote) but it was interesting to see the results. Are your favorites here? My all time favorite ,book is number one. I've marked with an X if I've read it and with a * if I loved it.
X10. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
8. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
X*7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
X*5. The Stand by Stephen King
X4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
X*3. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
X*2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
X******1. The Holy Bible Influenced by Jehovah God, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
I belong to an online book club that reads Christian fiction and then discusses the books. As a Christian book reviewer I reviewed over 700 books(published) and probably have read 3 times that amount to pick the books for review. I cannot even imagine the number of books I've read in my lifetime. Then, I've been a Christian acquisitions reader and freelance editor where I get to work on and read fiction manuscripts. I've read a lot of good fiction in that process, and this was a hard question but Shellie on that list posed this question to us:
"I'm trying to get some ideas of good books that teach deep spiritual truths in a variety of different genres. I couldn't think of a better group to ask than this book club one.
I would like to know your favorites from the following genres (new or older books.)"
Wow, what an important question. I still am wondering how to approach this question, and frankly, compile my own list. Can you give Shellie some suggestions? Note her criteria--"teach deep spiritual truths." Here are the genres.
1. Christian Romance
2. Christian Mystery
3. Historical Fiction
4. Holiday Story
5. Legal Thriller
6. Women's Fiction
7. Christian Classic
8. End time fiction
9. Christian Biography
10. Political Thriller
11. Medical Thriller
If you have any suggestions, leave us a comment.
(I need something to distract me from pizza. I am on veggies and fruits, oatmeal and yogurt for a few more days. Sigh.)
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
One thing remains the same, everything changes. I am no longer this dressed-to-the-nines, healthy weight, happy-go-lucky, mimicking girl whom you see here. Man, I've changed. Some changes are good, but others, well, let's just get to it--I'm on a diet again and yes, working out.
I was an athlete, coach, P.E. teacher who went through a boot camp workout in order to turn myself around after birthing four boys(one at a time, every two years.) I was great shape, back in the day. But no more. I went downhill fast after my 50th birthday, and yesterday I woke up to a new day. I decided I needed change!
I have tried almost every kind of eating program and exercise program that you can think of over my 50 years, and still have never felt I was in a zone where I could live. Today I'm rethinking this idea that I'll never find balance,as I started the The Fat Smash Diet by Ian K. Smith, M.D. It's practical, and gives me steps to follow that I feel I can accomplish. But, in some moments I think, "what if I fail?" The next moment I think, "what if I lose-succeed?"
So, here we go--
Day 2: I have one eyeball on the clock as I type. I eat at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. I can have all the fruits and vegetables I want, yogurt twice a day, and oatmeal in the a.m. I'm not crazy about oatmeal or really, yogurt. They're ok, and I don't gag, but still. I miss cheese and real eggs and bacon.I'm supposed to start a hobby so I can keep my mind off the eating thing. My hobby has always been food--reading about it, eating it, talking to others about it, watching others fix it. I may have to find a new hobby. It's too painful right now. Maybe I'll get my novel done. Maybe I'll clean out closets.
For a little background on this FOOD: The Enemy life I have: I grew up going to an elementary school with religious vegetarians(and all of my mom's people belonged to this church.) What I mean by this is that they believed your spirituality(your very soul and the church doctrine) was connected to your mouth and what you put into your temple. Ok, up to a point this is true. I don't think I'm going to hell by something I eat (though a good creme brulee or Ivanhoe's strawberry shortcake with soft serve vanilla ice cream could cause sin--gluttony.) I do believe that I need to take care of myself. And I'm uncomfortable with my weight and lack of exercise.
Soooo,in a sense, I'm getting back to my roots--back to the Dare to Be a Daniel existence of living on veggies and fruits for nine days. Some of my relatives might think that I'm coming home to the fold, little baa-baa black sheep who likes bacon and cheeseburgers is turning vegetarian. Who knows? It may change me. Hopefully, my shape is what will change and I'll feel like I have more energy.Maybe I'll find a lifestyle in this, at last.
I've been erratic lately with blogging. I don't mean to be, but things come up. I had some judging to finish up, a few manuscripts to get back to editors, and then there was that thing where I'm working on my attitude and outlook (which hasn't been very good lately.) And I have a tendency not to blog when I'm feeling bad about myself.
I decided I needed to change some things to keep body, soul and mind healthy. Change can be bad, but I'm going to steal some positive vibes and think of it as a good thing, Martha.
So, what kinds of things do you wish to change? How are you going to tackle this issue in your life? Ignore it? Come up with a plan?
Uh, oh! Time to eat!
Thursday, April 03, 2008
(Above: Wendy is on the right and her sister, Linda, is on the left, playing with dolls, of course!)
FIRST, THE WINNERS OF THE APRIL FOOL'S DAY NO FOOLING! CONTEST:
One winner of the April Fool's Day random drawing has reported in--Kim has won the Real TV series by Wendy Lawton in the No Fooling! contest!
Real TV Books based on reality TV shows These are well-written stories of teen girls based on the reality TV shows like Trading Spaces and Celebrity Fit Club. Their problems are real problems and are books teen girls would enjoy and be helpful to them.
I have yet to hear from Marilynn Griffith, who won Wendy Lawton's Lawton Doll Company Courage to Run Harriet Tubman doll.
I also have not heard from Janine, who won the Daughters of Faith book series of which Captive Princess was the newest release. The clock is ticking to report in to receive these prizes.
While I wait for the winners of the Daughters of Faith series and the Courage to Run doll to report in, I decided to ask Wendy about the process itself of how she determines who to write about in her Daughters of Faith series.
CLM: This was a fun contest--allowing readers to be a part of the process of coming up with a new book in a series. Readers may not know that this series (the Daughters of Faith) aren't your first time coming up with a creative series of real life characters. You did this for years as a doll designer who recently was awarded a Doll of the Year lifetime achievement award in the doll industry.
CLM:Can you tell us how you decide on a character for the series? What are some steps that you take to come to that decision for this particular series?
Wendy: It requires far more gut feeling than brainpower. The parameters I've set are that the girl:
(1) has to act out of a faith that changes the way she sees the world
(2) has to face conflict as a child and
(3) has to have taken a stand, or lived her faith while still a child in such a way that it could have cost her everything. The stakes have to be high and she has to have grown because of her stand and because of the reality of Christ in her life.
It's a tough standard. Some other elements that my publisher and I have discovered are that my readers especially love girls from American history— though I'm not opposed to introducing them to other settings. There are so many other things that go into choosing a character— I could write a book about it instead of a blog.
The steps I take are:
(1) I begin rooting around in history trying to scare up the my character. Sometimes I find the setting first and want to find the perfect girl to highlight. For instance I'm dying to write about a girl who lived in one of the underground railroad safe houses but so far I'm finding most of the houses were occupied by older folks.
(2) Once I've settled on a character and my editor and his team agree, I go to work on research. That's the fun part. When I do school visits I take along the stack of books I used to research Tinker's Daughter. I pile it up on the table next to my slim little book— it's a great visual!
(3) If my initial research is borne out by the deeper research, then off I go.
CLM: How is coming up with a real life girl for this series the same as when you would come up with a doll design? And how is it different?
Wendy: When I created a different collection of dolls for each year I had to balance characters, concepts, sizes, prices, hair and eye colors, eras and continuing series. As much marketing mojo went into the development of the line as design and inspiration. It's much like a publisher develops his line for a particular season. They decide on slots and work to fill those slots. They want each individual book to positively shine but they also want to create a holistic line with balance— something for every one of their customers.
CLM:When your well runs dry, how do you recharge your creativity?
Wendy: I immerse myself in the fruits of other creative people. I read books or magazines, visit museums, play with textiles— anything that takes me out of the problem at hand and lets me hit it from a different angle. If I'm stuck on a book, I take clay and spend some time sculpting. If I've spent the whole day working on thorny client issues, I may go out to my studio and dress dolls. I believe it's crucial to have both right and left brain activities going— they feed off each other.
CLM: What are three key elements for you in getting into your writing mode? (after juggling many other jobs?)
Wendy:I am the queen of compartmentalization. I have a different physical place for each job I do. I have a well-organized office for my day job as a literary agent.
I have a art studio for sculpting and dollmaking. I can walk into either of these places and be at work with the first minute or two. Everything is in its place.
And I usually go away to write. In January, writer Bill Kritlow let Lauraine Snelling and me use his wonderful house at the top of a mountain. We were snowed in for the whole week and we wrote like fiends while we were there. So for me, the place gets me in writer's mode.
CLM: Answer this...The only thing I know for sure about my creative process is....
Wendy: It's 95% just showing up and only 5% inspiration. God has called me to the work I do. I need to be obedient to that work.
CLM: What's your favorite way to celebrate after a project is complete?
Wendy: I used to choose a special treasure with each book— kind of my own way of building an altar of stones. I'm a Kewpie collector— not the new ones but the early 20th century ones that were made in Germany. With several books I found the perfect Kewpie to mark the occasion.
The Kewpies I bought to commemorate the release of Tinker's Daughter and Courage to Run are below. Two books released at one time— two action Kewpies holding a book with another tome leaning against their legs.Perfect!
Now, I just frame the cover and add it to my collection of framed books covers. Mostly I just spend time praying that the stories will somehow touch girl's hearts.
CLM: Now that you have a list of some Daughters of Faith possibilities, what will be your next step?
Wendy: I'm going to be looking into several of them. I was amazed at some of the wonderful possibilities. Yes, many did not meet the criteria— they were already women when they took their stand— but I was delighted by some of the ideas. When I start poking into their stories I'll have to see if there's enough for a book, but I am ever so grateful to your readers. What a think tank!
CLM:Stay tuned,kiddie readers, for an exclusive scoop (if I can twist her arm) of what will be the next book (from this process) chosen to be in the Daughters of Faith series!
In the meantime run out to buy Captive Princess:The Story of Pocahantas in stores and on Amazon.com now!
The Captive Princess: The Story of Pocahantas
The Captive Princess— A Story based on the Life of Young Pocahontas
By Wendy Lawton
Moody Publishers (March 2008)
$6.99 142 pages
Four hundred years ago, the village of Werowocomoco buzzed with the news that a group of tassantassuk— pale strangers— had came ashore from their great canoes and settled in the swampy, mosquito-infested wetland near the Chesapeake Bay. Eleven-year-old Pocahontas, daughter of the most powerful man to ever rule the alliance of Powhatan tribes, watched with curious eyes. Little did she suspect that their arrival would rock her world.
Is there an American student who doesn’t know some version of the story of Pocahontas— whether the fabricated Disney version or the equally fictitious but oft-told love story between Pocahontas and John Smith? Stories are most often told through the viewpoint of the Jamestown settlers, but with recent archeological explorations of the Werowocomoco site offering up a rich new understanding of Pocahontas’ people, Wendy Lawton digs into the history and tells it entirely through the eyes of the young Pocahontas. And though the romantic accounts are the stuff of legend and lore, Pocahontas’ faith story remains one of the most beautiful love stories in history.
The Captive Princess is the seventh in Lawton’s popular Daughters of the Faith series from Moody Publishers.
What others are saying:
“Pocahontas has long been a favorite character of mine, and Wendy Lawton brings her to glorious life in The Captive Princess. Through Lawton’s excellent research and vivid writing, walked out of the dense forest and into my heart. This book is a treasure!”
Angela Hunt, author of Uncharted.
“I jumped at the chance to read Wendy Lawton’s latest book, The Captive Princess, because of her previous stories. Again, she wove her literary magic. Always true to historical facts and able to infuse spiritual truths naturally, Wendy Lawton is a master storyteller.”
Donita K. Paul author of popular Christian fantasy including The DragonKeeper Chronicles