Sunday, June 21, 2009

Everyone Has a Story...

This is a photo of my mother and father in front of Irene Byron TB Hospital in Ft. Wayne, Indiana back in the late 1950s. My mother was a patient there and I was sent to Tennessee to live with my dad's parents while she recovered. I would not even know her when she finally made it out as I was less than a year old when I was sent to my grandparents. I called my grandparents "Mama" and "Daddy." When it was all over I ended up with three Mamas (my teenaged aunt, Linda, was like a "mama" to me, too) and two Daddys.

My mom and dad died in 1997 and 1999. I still miss them. My grandmother is still with us and if she lives, will turn 95 in September. Granddaddy died in 1972. I still miss him, too.

My friend and colleague, Christine Lindsay, hosted the story of my heart on her blog. I'm giving away a chance to win a review of your first five pages of your fiction manuscript if you leave a message on that blog (with your email address.) Please stop by. What's the story of your heart? Everyone has a story, but God plants missions for us by our own stories.

The very day that Mama got me back!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Lovely Blogs!

My good friend at Christian Reader/Writer Connection, Susan J. Reinhardt, awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, along with so many other good blogs! I'm so honored. Part of the prize is to award it to other blogs that I read. Besides giving it back to Susan, I listed some more blogs to visit below.

Try Terra's Garden for "musings on gardening tips, my journey as a Christian and a writer, tips for new writers, kitty cats, song birds, flowers, book giveaways and more!" She also has this site for her book on scrapbooking for Christmas which will start up again in July.

My friend and fellow first reader, Sabrina at Hijinks in the Heartland, blogs about books and the writing life in between taking care of her family, working in a busy eye doctor's office and caregiving for her parents. Sometimes she gives away books!

Janet Dean at A Cup of Faith talks about her writing and her life. She's a good historical romance writer and a really lovely person!

Call for Short Romances 5000 Words

Interested in writing a short romance? Only 5000 words. I saw this in romance writer, Leigh Michael's newsletter. Leigh is so generous with her knowledge and has a great web site. If you are interested in writing romance, do check that out, too.

to be published late 2009

PBL Limited, a commercial royalty-paying publisher, is actively seeking submissions of ROMANTIC SHORT STORIES for an anthology collection scheduled for publication in late 2009.

Authors will be fully credited, and copyright for each story will be held in the author’s name and acknowledged in the book.

Royalties will be paid to each author selected. Royalty payment/percentage will be based on how many stories are included in the collection.

The collection will be published as a perfect-bound trade paperback and as an e-book.

The published volume will be made available to readers around the world through, and will be available to bookstores at trade terms through the publisher.

The collection will be headlined by romance author Leigh Michaels, who has agreed not to accept royalty payments for her story/ies in order to increase the royalty payment to other authors.


Short stories should be 5,000 words or less.

Stories should have a romantic theme.

Non-traditional characters and situations are invited (for instance, heroes/heroines who are older than usual).

Heat level is open to the author’s judgment, but should be appropriate for the characters, the setting, and the situation. Sensual encounters should include one man and one woman only.

Graphic descriptions of violence, including sexual violence, are not compatible with a romantic theme.

Settings may be contemporary or historical.

The ending should be resolved, upbeat, and appropriate to the characters and the situation – but not necessarily happy-ever-after with wedding bells ringing.

Work submitted must be the author’s own. Stories must not have been previously published in any version, or be currently under contract.

The publisher will offer a standard contract detailing the terms.

Limit of two entries per person.

Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2009.


Submissions should be emailed as WORD or RTF documents, attached to an email which includes the author’s name, pen name if desired, snail mail address, email address, and daytime telephone number.

The email should include a one-paragraph description of the story – title, sub-genre, heat level, and what makes the story unique.

The author may include a paragraph about his/her writing history and publication credits, but need not include this information.

In the subject line, put "ROMANTIC SHORT STORY SUBMISSION".

Email to or

Authors whose works are selected for the anthology will be notified by email on or before September 15, 2009.

guidelines and submissions information posted May 6, 2009.

Email: Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009 PBL Limited

Monday, June 15, 2009

Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo

Comes a Horseman Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I started reading this book, I was waiting for a son as he got an eye exam. Intense from the beginning, I had to close the book for a few minutes so I wouldn't have to throw up!! But as soon as I gained composure, it was back in the book. I needed a breather when my son finally came out, and I was careful from then on where I was while reading!(And never alone...)

What a gift Liparulo has for writing a thriller! He grabs you by the throat, and brings in a hero to rescue you. It's highly personal, intense.

It is now in paperback and I'm giving away a couple autographed copies on my blog for comments. I'll draw two names (Sorry, U.S. addresses only)on Thursday, June 18 to receive a free autographed paperback copy with bookmark. Compliments of Robert Liparulo himself! (And if you're a Big Honkin' Chicken, don't sign up. Just saying...)

View all my reviews.

Several Lovely Blogs

My good friend at Christian Reader/Writer Connection, Susan J. Reinhardt, awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, along with so many other good blogs! I'm so honored. Part of the prize is to award it to other blogs that I read. Besides giving it back to Susan, I listed some more blogs to visit below.

Cara Putman, a one-woman Whirlwind, gives insights, opinions and advice, as well as books (she's giving away one right now--head over there!!) Her spiritual depth and transparent emotions are one reason she has written such beautiful historicals and in depth romantic suspense.

Lee Warren at Little Nuances posts more than just sports (though he does that, too, which is AOK with me!) Right now he has a post on what's on his iPod. Sometimes he talks about movies or books, and he has this sensitive side where you get to see behind the curtain of tough guys to a real, live beating heart. Since I'm a Warren, I kid that he's my cuz (and maybe he is!) but I'm proud to know him as my brother in Christ, too.

Delia over at Gatorskunkz & Mudcats is clever and full of love and devotion. She has a gift for hospitality and with kids. I like her quite a lot. She was one of the first people to welcome me to Blogland.

Bonnie Bruno at Macromoments ("because life happens between the lines") may have one of the most beautiful blogs in photos and words ever. She's an author and photographer whose kind words have buoyed me up many a time.

Leave some kind words around the Blogland today. Start with some of the blogs I point out. I'll probably mention more in coming days.

Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck

Love Starts with Elle Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read romance manuscripts in my day job, and have read countless published romances. You'd think after awhile they would all be the same. Not so. Rachel Hauck has penned a romance that took my breath away. She starts with the setting in Beaufort, South Carolina (what could be more romantic?) Brings in characters that you are sure you would find there, whom you want to meet and know. Then, she adds surprises and grabs your emotions. Sigh. I didn't want this story to end. If I could write a romance and pick how I wanted readers to feel afterwards, I'd pick mine to make readers feel like this one! She already did it and did an amazing job. (And isn't the title clever??) I loved this love story--that starts with Elle.

View all my reviews.

Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake

Whirlwind Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Cathy Marie Hake never disappoints me when I choose her historical fiction. This time, guess what? No exception to that rule! She once again hooks me in with characters that take amazing steps of faith, detailing it all with authentic historical touches, which takes me back in time. She doesn't sugarcoat the ugly sides of life, and doesn't give pat answers, either. The peek into Ellis Island was wonderful, too. I am smiling through the tears from this book.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter

The Convenient Groom: A Nantucket Love Story The Convenient Groom: A Nantucket Love Story by Denise Hunter

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can't think of a more perfect story. Hunter's skill at weaving this story is so flawless, I barely knew I was reading a book. And I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Funny how that works!

It's amazing how she could actually pull off writing a "marriage-of-convenience" story in contemporary times when people don't bother to marry at all.You really have to see how she does it. The setting is the icing on the wedding cake.

View all my reviews.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Questions from Eastbrook HS Creative Writing Class

The creative writing class at Eastbrook High School were a nosy bunch! (Perfect for writers!) They asked such excellent questions that I had to share them on my blog.

Here's another:
How long does it take to review a book?

First, you have to read the entire book—I usually have a deadline—then I break the book down by the synopsis, characters, setting, plot, strong points and weak points. I can do a review in 2-3 days if I need to do it. But it is important to read the entire book in order to be fair and back up your judgment of the book.

Most often I have more time than a few days. Sometimes I have up to a month to read and write the review. Depending on the length of the book and how much I need to report on will determine how long it takes.

I do both published books reviewing (for magazines) and reviews of unpublished books (manuscripts.) If you mean to do book reviews on published books, that again takes as long as it does to read a book, but I usually only write 150 words for those. For the unpublished books, it depends on for whom and why I'm reviewing the manuscript, but if it is for an editor/publisher, I can write anywhere from 4-12 pages of notes on various aspects. Some books will only take 3 hours, while others I can spend 24 hours (in a succession of 8 days, spending 3 hours a day on it.) It depends on how much I need to comment on, and how much actually needs commentary.

For the 150 word book reviews I got so fast at doing them that I could nail my word count in about 3 passes of writing the review. I'd get down the initial thoughts, sweep through correcting, cutting words to hit the count, then sweep through again to make sure I brought out the main points. Loved doing those! My column included 4-5of those and Church Libraries magazine would send me anywhere from 4-6 books to review per shipment of books.

I was slower when I first started but by now I've done both types of reviews for so long, that I can work much faster and more efficiently with an expert eye to the details I need to focus on.

I Get By With a Little Help...

My good friend at Christian Reader/Writer Connection, Susan J. Reinhardt, awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, along with so many other good blogs! I'm so honored. Part of the prize is to award it to other blogs that I read. Besides giving it back to Susan, I listed some blogs to visit below.

LeAnne Martin at Christians in the Arts, a simply gorgeous blog where she posts every Monday and Thursday on the Arts and how Christians are participating in them.

Sharon Lavy at I Dream of Writing for God for sometimes fun (funny) posts, book reviews and interviews with authors, as well as ponderings on her own writing journey.

Nancy J. Ring at Anchors, Signposts & Wanderings where she beautifully illustrates in pictures and words the deep longings and soul-searching thoughts.

I will continue this post tomorrow to share with you more lovely blogs. Do check these out.Leave comments to let them know that Crystal sent you!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Do You Want to Write Fiction?

My friend, Cara Putman, writes fiction, is an attorney,teaches law at Purdue University, has a busy husband who works for Purdue University, has 3 adorable children, is active in her church and with an organization I belong to as well, the American Christian Fiction Writers. She also has published fiction books (check them out!)

I'm out for a couple days, but if you haven't read this entry, and you've been thinking about writing, go to this site and read Cara's entry to help you to decide whether writing fiction could be for you.

Writing takes a perserverence and personality quirk combo. As Stephen King has said, "If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?" (Stephen has his own way with words...but you get the point.) If God calls you do something--you must do it.

Read Cara's entry today! "Is ACFW for You?"

Thursday, June 04, 2009

This 'n' That


Today my guest at When I Was Just a Kid is Janet Dean, author of Courting the Doctor's Daughter. Go over there and leave a comment to win a free copy of this book or to check out the first chapter and find out more about Janet's childhood and how it's influenced her writing.

The second book in the Courting series, Courting the Doctor’s Daughter released in May 2009.

Courting the Doctor’s Daughter

Courting the Doctor's Daughter
by Janet Dean

Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
May 2009
Category: Inspirational
List price: $ 5.50

An Unexpected Match

A widow with three boys to raise, Mary Graves has no time for peddlers of phony medicine. She’s a dedicated healer working alongside her doctor father. When a handsome stranger blows into town with his “elixir of health” and asks questions about her newly adopted son, Mary’s determined to uncover the truth behind all his claims.

Once the reckless heir to a Boston fortune, Dr. Luke Jacobs travels the country with his herbal medicine while searching for his long-lost son. After meeting the feisty doctor’s daughter and her youngest boy, Luke has found what he’s been looking for at last. But can he convince her to let him into her home, her family—and her heart?


I spoke in a convocation at an elementary school on Monday and just had a blast! It reawakened my lifelong teaching bug, as well as intertwined with my love of reading and teaching reading, sharing my passion of reading. Maybe I'll have more to say about this later. Please, if you are a regular reader here, pray for me and my direction in this area. I've had several open doors recently so of course, while I'm dense, I am trying to listen to God's leading.


Our hearts are broken with the sudden death of Dr. Fred Osborn, my husband's partner in ER medicine. His celebration of life was yesterday and the church was packed. I was uplifted by the beautiful service full of verses and testimony, as well as the hymns played throughout, including my favorite, How Great Thou Art. We finished the service singing, When We All Get to Heaven. One of my favorite ways to end my letters has always been "If I don't see you here, I'll see you THERE!" And I do hope to see you all THERE. Talk to me if you want to know more!

So, my week has been full and emotional because, finally,

our youngest son, MAX, is graduating from high school on Friday. I feel just a little overwhelmed. He passed his EMT certification on Saturday, which means he's fully qualified to be on an ambulance and save lives.

So, if I'm not getting back to you, do email me again, as I sort of got sidetracked. I also am working on a client's manuscript, so need to finish that.

If I haven't told you lately, you are precious to me. Also, thanks, Susan, for noticing my new banner. My oldest son, Jordan, is an artist, webmaster and flash design expert. He designed a bookmark for me to take to my speaking engagement at the elementary school and this is the "Shel Silverstein-like" drawing of me that he did. If you need any work done, he's taking clients and is reasonable. Just email me and I'll put you in contact! (Smile)