Friday, September 24, 2010

ACFW Carol Awards 2010

By now many of you will have seen the list of winners of the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Awards 2010.

I was there for the gala event where the winner of the ACFW Mentor of the Year (Susan May Warren) and winners of the Genesis (unpublished writers who entered a writing contest) were announced, as well. (I judged again this year in the Genesis, too.)

The Carol Award was named after Carol Johnson, the editor who first went to bat for Christian fiction by championing the manuscript by an unknown who wrote Love Comes Softly (yes, THE Janette Oke.) By the way, Janette told us (she was delightful!) that she had titled it, SOMETIMES Love Comes Softly. A room full of writers laughed heartily about that!

Anyway, if you're looking for good fiction, the judges picked this list. Pretty good list.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Carol Awards. I find it wonderfully amazing that the Mentor of the Year, Susan May Warren,  also was one of the Carol Award winners. She also is mother and wife. Just proves you can do many things well. It's possible, but then, she makes it seem easy. (Smile.)

Contemporary Novella -
The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren
Tyndale House, Karen Watson, Editor

Historical Novella -
Christmas Bells for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad
Steeple Hill, Tina James, Editor

Short Contemporary -
A Texas Ranger's Family by Mae Nunn
Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich, Editor

Short Contemporary Suspense -
Evidence of Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell, Editor

Short Historical -
The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
Revell, Andrea Doering, Editor

Young Adult -
So Not Happening - Jenny B. Jones
Thomas Nelson, Amanda Bostic/Jamie Chavez, Editors

Long Contemporary -
The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry
Moody Publishers, Paul Santhouse, Editor

Long Contemporary Romance -
Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones
Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez, Editors

Mystery -
The Case of the Mystified M.D. by A.K. Arenz
Sheaf House, Joan M. Shoup, Editor

Suspense/Thriller -
Intervention by Terri Blackstock
Zondervan, Sue Brower/Dave Lambert, Editors

Long Historical -
Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
Multnomah, Alice Crider, Editor

Long Historical Romance -
Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy
Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany, Editor

Speculative -
Eternity Falls by Kirk Outerbridge
Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke, Editor

Women's Fiction -
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge
Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese, Editor

Debut Author -
The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
Revell, Andrea Doering, Editor

P.S. I want to publicly thank whomever nominated me for ACFW 2010 Mentor of the Year. It was a very great honor to be listed on that screen along with the likes of Susan May Warren. I am even more delighted that I am ever able to help someone on their road to publication. I am humbled if I'm ever a part of someone's journey. Keep writing! And yes, keep reading!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Mentors in Writing: Do You Need One?

One of the topics I often hear writers whispering about is finding a writing mentor. And we all are admonished that you can't just grab the arm of someone you'd LIKE to mentor you and say, "Oh, you must! You're a Christian, aren't you?"

Guilting a person into mentoring you doesn't work. (Nor tying her up and throwing her into your car.)Plus, the very person you choose to mentor you is no-doubt a busy person writing her own novels,marketing, etc., or you wouldn't have even noticed her.

So, you pray. "Please, Lord, You know I need someone to mentor me in writing. Send someone today. Make it clear who this person is/persons are."

And let's say someone does want to mentor you! Joy! They offer to read some opening pages, your synopsis or even to sit down and help you plot a course to follow to reach your goals.(They have these "mentor appointments" available this year at the ACFW Conference. And guess what? They are all filled up! Next year!) Maybe this person offers to introduce you to certain people who can help you at conference. (If you are a Christian fiction writer, you must join ACFW. It's the best place to be.)

Check the Conference Details for 2010!

Literary agent Chip MacGregor on The Writers View (You have to request to join this yahoogroup) once set up mentoring groups based on Paul, Barnabas and Timothy in the New Testament. You were labeled either a Paul (mentor,) Barnabas (peer group,) or Timothy (mentee--this doesn't mean your breath was fresh...)Some were in all three categories, and some, just one. He really worked hard on matching people up.The point was to set up a Paul with a Timothy and then put you into a friend group, Barnabas.

I don’t know if any of them worked out because of exactly what Cec Murphey was talking about once, "so many expectations." When you come to a group or a relationship with expectations, because we are human, you can be disappointed. It doesn't always work out, but don't give up hope. I do think it CAN work out and that yes,you may move on, or your mentor may move on, but you will get something out of these liaisons. It's a process. And some day you may become a 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)
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
6. Heroes (Authors) whose stories (writing journeys, as well as what they write)inspire you

These people mentor you.(Jot these people down right now and think about writing them a thank you note or send them chocolate!)

You can also be any of the above at one point or another.

I've found that in ACFW, we have built-in mentors. There are courses, local writers who help you find your path in the chapters and zones, a conference (this year in Indianapolis--are you going?) and any number of opportunities that come on the forums. There are countless blogs with teaching going on, too. I like to haunt various agent blogs and a couple editor blogs, as well as published writer blogs, because there is always a discussion going on about writing in those places.

So, who will I see at ACFW Conference in ten days??? (And will you be my mentor? I'll be yours!)

Check out the ACFW local chapters in your area once you join ACFW, too. Lots of mentoring going on there.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Review: The Six-Liter Club by Harry Kraus, M.D.

I have written hundreds of reviews. Here's one from this summer.

The Six-Liter Club
By Harry Kraus, M.D.
Howard, ISBN 978-1-4165-7797-3, PB, 364 pages, $13.99

Set in 1983, Dr. Camille Weller becomes the first black, female surgeon to become attending staff member at Medical College of Virginia and also to be initiated into the "six-liter" club by bringing her patient back from death by replacing a full six-liters of blood. Raised by a white aunt in the South, her prior terrifying childhood in the Congo as the daughter of an American missionary doctor and Conglonese mother battles her spirit as much as her private and professional life do.

With the tension of not only a woman surgeon in the medical world, but also her race, memories, and spiritual struggles, Kraus pulls no punches and brings a satisfying ending.

Reviewed by Crystal Laine Miller
Reprinted from Church Libraries, Summer 2010
Used with permission.
Join Evangelical Church Library Association at

Free first chapter of The Six-Liter Club

Fiction Books by Harry Kraus

Dr. Kraus in surgery

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Recipe for a Crowd: Tex Mex Taco Soup

I'm going to admit a real weakness in me. I buy recipe books. I counted 100 books I've collected over the years and I felt so guilty about having them, that I started giving some of the books away. But then, I love looking over them again and again--even if I have such picky eaters that they won't eat most of the recipe books' contents! Sad, but true. When I visit a region, I pick up a book as my souvenir. (I remember places by what I eat!)

  I adore cooking sites and recipes in novels. The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) has this fabulous recipe book complete with a story of her romance with Marlboro Man and life on the ranch. What's more romantic than food?
A really good friend of mine posted that she wanted a taco soup recipe. Well, her friends were faster on the draw than I was, but I love this recipe so much, I thought I might share it with you, too. I've used this recipe and adjusted it to my groups according to occasion. It's great for those large gatherings of people. I love cornbread with it, but get creative and think of things you could serve with it. Writers (and readers who get hooked on a good book) need easy recipes to put on that they don't have to stand over the stove too much, while they're in the thick of things (reading or writing.) Put this on for a chilly, fall day. 

Since I have so many recipes around, I thought I should share one periodically, just because I can!


1 ½ - 2 lbs. ground chuck (Cook meat and drain off grease)*
1 – 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, well rinsed and drained
1 – 15 oz. can pinto beans, well rinsed and drained
1 – 15 oz. can black beans, well rinsed and drained
1 – 11oz. can Green Giant Mexicorn, drained ( ***see note below)
1 – 15 oz. can Del Monte “Savory Sides” Santa Fe Corn (***see note below)
1 – 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce instead)
1 – 15 oz. can Ro-tel diced tomatoes, drained or jar of HERDEZ (mild, medium or hot--your choice) salsa

1 – pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch DRESSING mix, NOT dip mix!
1 – pkg. Taco seasoning (I use Taco Bell or Old El Paso)
1 – tsp. Mrs. Dash (I add garlic & onions, too)

3 – 15 oz. cans water (I usually add about 1 to 1 ½ cans)
8 oz. hot tap water (to dissolve the dry ranch dressing and taco mix in)

*Is good with cooked chicken instead of ground meat,too.

NOTE: This makes a HUGE soup pot that serves up 10-12 (large bowls) if you use 3 cans of water.  Makes about 8 large bowls if you use the reduced amount of water like I do for smaller crowds.

Dissolve ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning in cup of hot water.  Place the dissolved seasonings and all remaining ingredients into a LARGE soup pot.  Heat on medium high heat until soup is bubbling, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered  for at least an hour….I usually simmer on lowest heat for 1-2 hours.   This is a great crock pot recipe, too!

Serve soup with cornbread and/or tortillas and a salad.  Can add grated cheese and tortilla chips, too. Good to take to potlucks.

This soup will be slightly spicy due to the taco seasoning and Ro-tel tomatoes.

*** If you are unable to find either Mexicorn and/or Savory Sides, you can substitute regular corn for the Mexicorn and another type of bean for the Savory Sides.  The Santa Fe Savory Sides blend is a mix of black beans, corn, red and green bell peppers in a wonderful sauce.

This recipe adapts to personal preferences, additions and deletions beautifully. Freezes well.