Monday, December 28, 2009

Redeeming Gabriel by Elizabeth White

Redeeming Gabriel (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #20) Redeeming Gabriel by Elizabeth White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It seems that there are few Civil War era books out there, but this one fits the bill. Twists and turns, all the issues that were part of the day had me turning pages, including the historical facts. This was the war that tore families apart--and this book doesn't back off this tender topic. I've always loved Civil War history and novels, too, so I was glad that the Love Inspired Historical line came out with one.

View all my reviews >>

Military Daddy by Patricia Davids

Military Daddy (Mounted Color Guard Series #2) (Love Inspired #442) Military Daddy by Patricia Davids

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really liked this story. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that it deals with really touchy topics. Annie Delmar is a recovering alcoholic. Corporal Shane Ross never really had a family. When a poor choice and one night stand leads to a pregnancy, both have a lot of issues to face.

If you think edgy topics aren't addressed in the "sweet" romances of the Love Inspired line, then you are wrong. Start with this one.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Janet Tronstad and Her Dry Creek Series with Steeple Hill Love Inspired

At Home In Dry Creek (Love Inspired) At Home In Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love a good romance, something to escape for just short time. While I really like the Dry Creek series by Janet Tronstad, this may be my favorite one so far. I rarely shed tears in reading Love Inspired stories, but this touched me so much.

All Barbara wants is a home for her and her two children, something that hasn't happened while she was married to her abusive ex-husband who is now in jail for bank robbery.

I love this story and if you love Christian romance, you'll want to pick this one up. Dry Creek is one of my favorite series from Steeple Hill.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, December 21, 2009 Finding Christian Fiction the Easy Way

 ACFW Launches a New Free Online Resource to Search for Titles

PALM BAY, Fla. — With over 500,000 books published each year, it is harder than ever to find a new book that’s just right. A simple Amazon search in the Christian literature and fiction category yields more than 17,000 results. Consumers wading through the exhaustive, seemingly endless list of choices now have a more manageable resource to help them purchase their next book.

American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the nation’s leading Christian fiction writers’ organization, is launching, a new free resource for retailers, readers, media and other Christian fiction fans to search for authors and books. The search engine allows users to sort by author, title, genre, topic, publication date, and target audience.

Cynthia Ruchti, president of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), believes this trusted, easy-to-use resource is a significant development in the search for Christian fiction authors and new titles.

”The idea rose from a roundtable discussion between the ACFW leadership team and Christian booksellers looking for a better way to connect their customers with great Christian fiction,” says Ruchti. “ACFW responded by rolling up our sleeves and creating a comprehensive database to serve readers, booksellers, publishers, authors, book club coordinators, librarians and others on the hunt for information and inspiration.”

The site also allows readers to learn about the nature of the content of each book. Each title is rated for action, conflict, humor, mystery, romance, spirituality and suspense, in addition to more sensitive issues like language, sensuality and violence. Users can also post reviews to the site and learn more about soon-to-be-released titles.

The database is the first of its kind and is not limited to books written by ACFW members. The organization is also working with publishers to ensure Christian novels by other authors are incorporated as well.

ACFW’s presence as the voice of Christian fiction and its industry prowess has long been recognized, and its authors are a mainstay on bestseller lists. is the organization’s latest effort to make finding the best in Christian fiction as easy as possible for fans around the world.

Quick facts about
* Book information pages include facts about the publisher, main themes, setting and the author’s other titles.
* A special “similar books” section offers other titles the user may be interested in reading.
* Users can create an account with their preferences, making it easier to find new favorites.

With nearly 2,000 members and 19 chapters in 14 states nationwide, ACFW seeks to promote Christian Fiction through developing the skills of its authors, educating them in the market, and serving as an advocate in the industry. Founded in 2000 under the banner of American Christian Romance writers, in 2004 the organization was renamed American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) to reflect its dedication to Christian fiction writers of all genres.

ACFW is headquartered in Palm Bay, Florida. Their advisory and operating boards work to give writers the tools they need to develop their craft, grow ACFW’s extensive publishing knowledge and secure relationships with industry professionals. To learn more about ACFW and their authors, please visit .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Squeezing Good Out of Bad by James N. Watkins: Win a Lemon Prize!

Lately I've felt that my world has grown quite a few lemons. Even though I live in Indiana, those lemon trees can grow here, too. What do you do when life hands you lemons? Well, we all know you're supposed to make lemonade, but just what is that recipe? (Read on but don't forget to leave a comment to win a basket of lemony goodness! )

Jim Watkins, an author, husband, father, grandfather, humorist, cancer survivor and over-all glass-half-full guy, not only will help you to be encouraged by the goodness of God in your bad circumstances, he will provide a few laughs along the way. Jim has had his share of life's lemons, came up with a few recipes of his own and shares them with us in his new book.

Squeezing Good Out of Bad by James N. Watkins

Sour circumstances left you feeling down? Unemployment, foreclosures, divorce, bankruptcy and cancer don't even begin to peel the skin off all the bad news in our world today. At a time in history when the evening news contains more bad than good, people wonder if sweeter days will ever come. In steps James (Jim) Watkins with a fresh perspective on life, love and the pursuit of happiness serves readers a refreshing cup of encouragement and hope.

Written from his own experiences with cancer, unemployment and other life-puckering crises, Jim prompts readers to look at the cup of suffering with eyes focused on the true thirst quencher--Jesus Christ. Readers will be pleasantly surprised at the balance of readability and deep wisdom offered within the pages of Squeezing Good Out Of Bad. With scripture references, humor-filled lists, and a creative manuscript, Watkins brings the bitterness of hard times and blends it with the sweetness of God's presence. He's been there. His transparency is as refreshing as, you guessed it, a tall, cool glass of lemonade.

Jim agreed to answer some questions about his own life:

1. Jim, you've been in the literary world for a while, give us a quick recap of how you got started to where you are today.

By second grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I felt the suspension of disbelief was stretched too thin when the real-live puppet Pinocchio became a real live boy. So I rewrote the ending having the wooden puppet die a painful, prolonged death of Dutch elm disease. (At that point, I'm sure my parents and teachers weren't sure if I'd become a writer or a life-long patient at a psychiatric hospital.) I later went on to become the editor of my high school paper, worked at a Christian publishing house as an editor during college, and then dabbled in writing while holding down a real job. Since 1988 I've been writing and speaking full-time.

2. In Squeezing Good Out Of Bad you give many insightful tips on how to turn around sour circumstances. Share a practical way we can be encouraged during tough times.

My "top ten list" of chapter titles 10-4 provide practical steps for dealing with lemons, but the real secrets are found in chapters 3-1. (Yes, like a true top ten list, the chapters are numbered backward.) Romans 8:28 promises that that God is working all things out for our good to accomplish His purpose in our lives. But we have to read on to verse 29 to find that purpose: "to be conformed to the image of His Son."

3. No life is perfect. Can you give us an example of how you got through a challenging situation and were able to use these principles to see the good in it?

I think it's so important that we take our faith seriously, but I certainly don't want to take my situation or myself too seriously. So I create a mental "top ten" list of what good can come about in this situation. For instance, last year I had radiation for cancer and it totally depleted me physically and mentally. My family dubbed it "radiation retardation." Because of that, I was fired from a wonderful part-time job because I just couldn't do it. So, "Top Ten Great Things about Losing My Job": 10. I'll be paying less taxes next year. 9. I've got twenty hours a week of free time. 8. . . .

Our family is going through something right now that is far worse than cancer, and I can't see a single good thing that can come out of it. So, at those times, you just keep hanging on--with white knuckles--to the fact that God loves you and the Romans 8:28 is still in effect.

4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spare time? What's that? I'm a firm believer in "redeeming the time" so I try to keep busy doing things that matter for the Kingdom. But after my little brain is worn out--usually around 7 pm--nothing beats a session of "Freecell."

5. What's the last book you read and why?

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, the only real reading for pleasure is on airline flights. The King book is research for a book I'm proposing as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

6. What do you hope readers will gain by reading your book?

I wrote the first draft nine years ago, and even though I have a great agent, we just couldn't find a publisher. That was before cancer, family crisis, unemployment. . . . So it's a much more comforting, honest book. And it forced me to not be so flippant and casual about the serious issues people are dealing with. Henri Nouwen talks about "wounded healers." I think, because of the lemons that have piled up in my life, I can more compassionately offer comfort to those buried under a pile of lemons.

(Crystal here:) I've prayed for Jim and his family for years. Thanks, Jim, being open and honest about your pain and giving us your thoughts on how to handle such issues. Many of us feel alone when the lemons pile up. It's good to know that "wounded" people can become "healers" and find comfort, too.

Here's a little more info on Jim:
James N. Watkins is the author of sixteen books and over two thousand articles. He is the acquisition editor for Wesleyan Publishing House, an editorial advisor for ACW Press, instructor at Taylor University and a sought-after conference speaker. He’s won Campus Life’s Book of the Year award and various other awards for writing and editing. He’s married to Lois. They have two children and four grandchildren. His family is the lemonade in his life.

Now here's the part about you winning. Read on and comment!
Blog Tour Giveaway:

The blog host with the most comments will have the opportunity to send in one commentator's name for the grand prize giveaway. Here's what they'll win:

First prize: Jim will stop by your house with fresh-baked lemon cake and hot lemon tea. (Disclaimer: Offer available only to residents of Corn Borer, Indiana. Alternate prize includes a copy of Squeezing Good Out Of Bad, mixes for lemon tea, lemon cake, lemonade and assorted lemon candies. Not available where taxed or licensed. Winner responsible for safe and proper use of products.)

If Jim's disclaimer isn't enough humor for you, read on:

When life gives you lemons . . .

10. Don't confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)

9. Check the delivery slip (Determine if it's your problem)

8. Sell them on eBay (Profit from the problem)

7. Paint smiley faces on them (Laugh at the problem)

6. Join a citrus support group (Share your problem)

5. Use as an all-natural, organic astringent (Grow from the problem)

4. Don't shoot the delivery driver (Forgive the problem-maker)

3. Graft to a lime tree for a refreshing, low-calorie soft drink (Take the problem to a higher level)

2. Grow your own orchard (Live a fruitful life despite—or because of—the problem)

1. Give off a refreshing fragrance (Live a lemon-fresh life)

Friday, December 11, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday!

Yup, yup, I turned another year older. I love birthdays! Since I've gotten to be so old and so wise, I have lots of things to say and advice for people. What's great is I give it out, and I don't even care if you take it or not! The joy for me is just saying it. And yeah, I'm still young enough to know everything.

So here's my 2009 Gifts of Crystal's Truisms:

Obey Gravity—It’s the law.
Wipe the blood off...and continue!  Charley Wright, MGHS golf coach and history teacher
If you’re happy and you know it—Go away! (Just kidding.)
Here's your things  to do today:
1. Get up
2. Breathe in and breathe out
3. Survive
4. Breathe in and breathe out
5. Go back to bed.
6. Keep breathing. Don't even think about it.
Take my advice—I’m not using it. 
I’ve seen Elvis. He was sitting next to Big Foot on the UFO. (Love Elvis. So sue me.)
I childproofed my house. They still get in.
So many books, so little time.
It’s all good! (I use that one all the time.)
Have a nice day! (Just leave me out of it.)
Always being right is an awesome responsibility. I take my responsibility seriously. 
Your opinion, though interesting, is irrelevant to me.
I’m not anti-social. I’m just not real friendly.
Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.
It IS as bad as I think and THEY are out to get you. (And my Aunt Adeline used to think that the Russians controlled the weather.)
Everything I say is fully substantiated by my own opinion.
Yes, it IS always about me.
I am not obsessive I am not obsessive I am not obsessive I am not obsessive
You’re never too old to do goofy stuff. –Ward Cleaver
Celebrate with ketchup and potato chips! (I do.)
If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it. Now where did I put my pen?

God is good, all the time, whether you appreciate it or not. And loves you more than anyone can ever love you. I won't always be perfect in that, like Him.

Do you have something you say all the time that makes you smile? Or quotes that show your personality? Go ahead and share!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Copper and Candles by Amber Miller Stockton

Copper and Candles (Michigan Historical Series, Book #1, HP #843) Copper and Candles by Amber Miller Stockton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Felicity Chambers, daughter of wealthy Detroit elites, leads a double life in 1875. While doing charity work she takes on the job in a candle factory for the woman in her charge. Not wanting to appear out of place, she dresses and acts the part, but to her surprise she finds she loves the freedom and the work.

Felicity meets a young man, Brandt, while walking to work who works in the copper factory next door. The two agree to walk together and soon become good friends. Trouble comes as the two worlds collide.

The setting was unique--Detroit during the factory boom in 1875. Stockton captures that world and its challenges well. As this is the first of a three-book series, I will be reading the next two historical romances set in this city and time.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, November 27, 2009

Used to Be

This is my brother, mother and me in about 1971 on Thanksgiving Day. (The photo was taken by my dad.) That was one year it was just "us." If we could, we usually traveled from Indiana to Tennessee to gather with my dad's people, but some years we gathered with my mom's sister and her 5 kids. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. I had less worries about what was going to happen, it just covered a few days instead of being over a couple weeks, and we got to eat amazing food.

When I grew up, I got to host my own Thanksgiving dinners where I would have 50+ family and friends in my home. I loved it. I also loved the years we had Thanksgiving with my husband's extended family. No worries or family drama--just a good time! One year when I was pregnant with Son #1 (he was born in January so I was quite large,) we gathered at my husband's Aunt Gladys' and Uncle George's house in Kokomo. Their house wasn't very big but the usual crowd was there. There were people in every room eating the sumptuous feast.(They were good cooks!) It was great. For entertainment Aunt Lola got out the family films and we watched (thankfully in black and white) as Grandpa Phil Small and his troops killed a hog. (Obviously they were farmers, not some sort of Lord of the Flies family. Sheesh.)

On the Monday following the good time I had a doctor's appointment. He asked me about our plans and was astounded at how many people were there. He asked me if we rented a hall. I had to laugh. Then I told him what kind of family films we had watched. Since he never said too much, I always wondered what he thought. (He had a strange look on his face.) But I was happy and healthy, so I suppose he didn't dwell too long on this patient.

Even in the worst years I would reflect on how thankful I was and I still loved Thanksgiving. It's a peaceful holiday.

This year was the first time that I had to struggle to find just what it is for which I'm thankful. But looking back and finding the pleasant moments was a start. I panicked just two days before because one of my cousins (she was my matron of honor in our wedding) had surgery for brain cancer. She's young, beautiful and doing important things. But even in the midst of thinking that this stinks! there were moments of thankfulness.

So, while I'm thankful for many things, I'm praying like mad for Annette. If you think of me, pray for her. And for that I'm thankful, too--I have people who will pray when I ask them to do so.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Heavenly Birth by Denise Taylor: A Mother's Journey, A Daughter's Legacy

Heavenly Birth Heavenly Birth by Denise Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mom Denise Taylor journaled through the illness and death of her daughter, Jonnae, a witness to hope and the important lessons in life. Jonnae would say, "I get to" instead of "I have to," and this simple attitude in approaching life's struggles, gave her incredible strength. (And if you want the purple armband,"I GET TO," they are available.)

Jonnae's example and legacy is how to really live, think, and walk in faith when on the ropes. This book truly uplifts the reader even while you experience the emotional and physical pain along with Jonnae, Denise and their loved ones. Moments of humor and deep insight are hallmarks of this book. You will find quotes to uplift you in your own times of trial. Reading this book will give you tools for courage in your own situations.

There have been a lot of books written, both fiction and nonfiction, about cancer and death, but this book is one that will help readers understand, and find truth and faith in the journey.

It's one I recommend to anyone--you will grow and then, stand up and cheer when Jonnae finally is born "in heaven," even as it makes you cry.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cara Putman: Love Inspired Suspense Trial by Fire

Cara Putman talked this week on Steeple Hill's Love Inspired Suspense books' site about her writing journey, and how she does it. And that's not an easy thing--how she writes amidst all else she does. She's a wife, mom to 3, homeschooler, attorney, university instructor, friend, daughter, sibling, ACFW advocate, active in her church AND a published author. I'm sure I'm missing something that she does in addition all those roles!

Do check out Trial by Fire at eharlequin's Love Inspired Suspense line of Steeple Hill.

Trial by Fire (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense) Trial by Fire by Cara Putman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love reading Love Inspired Suspense and Cara Putman doesn't disappoint me with this latest offering.

If you read her first story in this series, you will recognize a few of the characters, but this book can also stand alone. Deputy county prosecutor Tricia Jamison is trying to move forward and help as many people as she can, but the domestic violence cases pile high.

When arsonist fires break out all over town, including the first at her mother's house, she knows she will have to get help from fire fighter, Noah Brust. Of course, Noah's deceased dad's fire fighter reputation was questioned due to Tricia being unable to protect him, and Noah was shredded on the witness stand a year ago.

Tension runs high and the fire investigations bring the two ever closer together and ever closer to the arsonist.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, October 26, 2009

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time is an old way to start a story. Trite and tried. Familiar and full of expectations, but depending on who is doing the telling, you can't expect every author's twists and turns. There is a hope with the beginning being "once upon a time."

That is what I look for when I'm reading someone else's story. I look for a different voice, a different perspective, even if it may be the same ol' place or the same ol' time span. How many ways can you tell a love story?

Last night I saw 27 Dresses for the first time. Ok. The format is very familiar to me. I told my husband that it was like reading a Harlequin romance. High concept and somewhat predictable. Still, I loved it, just because I knew no matter how bad things were going to get, it would somehow turn out all right. And I loved all those dresses. What silliness and fun.

Do you have a familiar old story that you go back to over and over? Characters you want to revisit? A favorite genre? Or do you like to mix it up?

Tell me your favorite stories--the ones you go back to when you need comfort.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Linore Rose Burkard

I read Linore's first two books in this series, Before the Season Ends and The House at Grosvenor Square. They are Christian Regency books and capture you to take you away.

Linore is so knowledgeable about the time period and has quite a lot of information on her web site, too. She includes a glossary in each book, which I appreciate. Because she writes so well the meanings are self-explanatory in context,so you aren't flipping back and forth much.

Ready for high tea? But there are also quite a lot of hijinks in her books, too! If you love Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy, well, you will probably like Linore's books, too. Fun!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walking the Talk in Texas

There's a high school in Texas where they walk the talk. This story deserves to be passed around.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Review of the Book: Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really, really liked the things he had to say in this book, and I took the free test on his web site. Discovering my strengths, though, was a bit of a journey. I had to take the test a few times in order to realize how I would REALLY react to the situations presented. After reading what he said in the book, I soon found what really represented my true self. That was the first step.

Then, I went back and reread the book with my information/results of the test. My only complaint with the book was that I needed more information on my particular profile and how to implement this knowledge. I still am not sure how to practically find my moments of strength, though I'm quite motivated to do so.

I don't know if by reading some of his other books that I can then find practical ways to come into my strongest life, or not. But I'm anxious to learn more.

View all my reviews >>

The Strong Life Test for Women

I took this test put out by Marcus Buckingham and then bought the book(Thomas Nelson) While reading the book, it became apparent to me that maybe I had not answered the questions according to how I REALLY would act, so I retook the test. I really thought about these questions and just how I would react or choose. This time I came up with a totally different outcome. So, wanting to make sure the test outcome was valid for me, I took it days later (so I wouldn't remember the previous answers.) This time my results were the same as the second time. Going back to read the book again, these results seemed to make me relax. I saw that it was more in line with the moments in my life when I felt strong.

Here are my results. What were your results? (Women only at this time.)



You begin by asking:
'What can she learn from this?'
Your focus is instinctively toward the other person. Not her feelings, necessarily, but her understanding, her performance, her skills.
Your best quality:
Your faith in the others’ potential
Tailor your style to each student
Be careful you:
Don’t come to believe that everyone is capable of everything
Your smartest career move:
Any job where you’re paid to facilitate the success of others.

Supporting Role


You begin by asking:
'What do I understand?'

You aren’t immune to the feelings and perspectives of others, but your starting point is your own insight, your own understanding.

Your best quality:
Your ability to find patterns invisible to others

Find time to be by yourself

Be careful you:
Don’t think so long, you never do anything

Your smartest career move:
Any job where you’re paid to produce new content.

What made me realize this was more accurate was the "Be careful" parts to both. I can think tooooo long. I also think ANYONE can have potential and it sometimes takes me thinking too long to realize that there are a lot of things which must line up in a person for them to learn something.

Now, what were your test results? Do you think it was accurate? If you think it might be off, then try answering the questions again and see what happens. Wait a couple weeks and then retake the test.

And while I really like what this book has to say, I wish that it gave me more practical tips on how to get into my strengths and what I should be doing to make my life strong NOW.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Break 'Em All!

You know that old saying if you don't aim at anything, you won't hit anything? (Something like that.) I really understand this as I used to compete in trapshooting. Making analogies between shooting and writing became so easy for me.

Let me tell you just a little about trapshooting. In trapshooting it is tricky because a clay target is thrown out of a traphouse by this machine that only has so many angles, but you never know which way it will come out. You stand on one of five stations, and each time you change stations, the picture changes. There are things like wind, heat (that gun can get hot!) and distance to contend with your shot.

A shooter looks down the sight of her shotgun, and even the recoil can mess with your shot. (Especially if it hits you in the face and you begin to "flinch" when you shoot. Kind of like getting bad reviews or rejections.)You get someone beside you or even behind you saying or doing something annoying, and that can also play with your shot (and play with your mind.)

So many things. You pull the gun in tight, place your face against the stock, and look into an area above your gun. You call for the target, and expect to see it rise up above your gun. Once it comes into your sight ("touching" the end of your gun in the sight) you pull the trigger. If you are behind the target, it's a miss. ("Loss!") If it has gotten out too far before you pull the trigger, you miss. Sometimes you shoot too quick. Sometimes you shoot too slow. (Just like reading the market!)

Over the years everything I do seems to come down to what I learned in shooting. I found I could apply the lessons I learned from my coach, Kay Ohye (an amazing mens' champion) to most of my life. I could hear his voice in my head as I would shoot. ("Don't get too quick! Patience!"--My biggest problem was shooting too fast.) No matter how I shot on one trap, I had hope when I moved to the next station. The point was to move on. You didn't quit just because you missed every target on the first station. (Five shots, but if you hit the rest of them, you get a 95!)You didn't let down and relax just because you hit 99 straight shots and just had "one more." (There are a 100 shots/targets total--4 traps/25 shots per trap/5 shots per station.)

So over the course of writing this blog, I'll probably refer to trapshooting now. If you just "throw" the end of your gun toward the target, you will not hit your target. Focus. Focus on the target. This is the word I wrote down in my "goals" folder I started.

Think about what kinds of goals you have. Here's a template I use. You might want to try it.

Words for the Year: Crystal: Look/Focus/Act

Spiritual Goals:

* Read the English Standard Version of the Bible
* Continue study with the Messianic Jews on the Torah
* Pray specifically for someone other than my immediate family or self each day.

Personal Goals:
(I've actually met some of these so far this year, so I'm adjusting these.)

Overall Professional Goals:

Professional Goals for the Year:

(This is me in Savannah, GA competing in a Southern regional shoot.)

Those of us in shooting have a saying to encourage our fellow shooters--"Break 'em all!"

Let me know some of your goals and I'd love to hear what your current "word" is that will help you with your goals.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Trying a New Look, A New Voice

I've been working on my own fiction (as soon as I finish two more clients, I'll concentrate even more) and things are starting to come together for me.

I will still post books I'm recommending, author intros/subjects, writing advice, but I'll also focus more on things I'm interested in, as well, maybe as related to my own writing. It's a process.

I have been looking at the kind of fiction I read all the time to see just where I should be writing myself--and it seems to be romance as the overwhelming theme--romantic suspense, sweet romance, historical romance, medical romance and romantic comedy. I'm just a romantic at heart.

If you're looking for books to read, do check the link over to the right for the Fiction Finder on the American Christian Fiction Writers site. Awesome tool for readers.

And I do hope you'll join me as I will determine my post days. Let's meet on Monday and Thursdays and see if that works.

Anything in particular you want to talk about? If you could ask me any question, what would it be?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

American Christian Fiction Writers Awards for Published and Unpublished Authors

I wasn't able to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Denver this year and was feeling pretty low about it. I moped around all week. It was torture logging in to see all the photos and posts and I was missing Debbie Macomber's speaking, as well.

Then, last night I logged into my Facebook page and spied Lena Nelson Dooley's Tweets about winners for Book of the Year (published authors) and also the Genesis unpublished writers contest. Here are the results. Number 1, use this list to find books to read; Number 2, look for these Genesis winners to be published in the future. One of my good friends, Christine Lindsay, won the historical category for her story, Unveiled, and I think it is one of the best books I've read this year.

Congratulations to all winners, but also to all entrants. All of you are winners in my book! If you are a Christian writer, my advice is to join American Christian Fiction Writers. If you are a reader, do join the American Christian Fiction Writers bookclub and check out the best authors in the world there. There's something for everyone there!

The American Christian Fiction Writers Awards 2009

2009 Mentor of the Year- Donita K. Paul
2009 Membership Service Award- John B. Olson
2009 Editor of the Year Award- Ami McConnell, Thomas Nelson
2009 Agent of the Year Award Steve Laube, The Steve Laube Agency

2009 Book of the Year Contest• Debut Author- A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
• Lits- Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
• Long Contemporary- Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck
• Long Contemporary Romance- Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White
• Long Historical (tie)- My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke
• Mystery- For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls by Nancy Mehl
• Novellas- Stuck on You in A Connecticut Christmas anthology by Rhonda Gibson
• Short Contemporary- Family Treasures by Kathryn Springer
• Short Contemporary Suspense- Broken Lullaby by Pamela Tracy
• Short Historical- Family of the Heart by Dorothy Clark
• Speculative- The Restorer’s Journey by Sharon Hinck
• Suspense- Fossil Hunter by John B. Olson
• Women’s Fiction- The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
• Young Adult- The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones

ACFW 2009 Genesis Contest• Contemporary Fiction- Jennifer Griffith, Magpies in Trees
• Contemporary Romance- Christy LaShea Smith, The Bridge Between
Historical Fiction- Christine Schmidtke writing as Christine Lindsay, Unveiled
• Historical Romance- Lacy Williams, Marrying Miss Marshal
• Mystery/Suspense/Thriller- Alan Schleimer, Q.doc
• Romantic Suspense- Jan Warren, Katherine Octavia, C.I.A.
• Science-Fiction/Fantasy/Allegory- David Fry, Lies To See
• Women’s Fiction- Cathleen Armstrong, The Church of Last Chance
• Young Adult- Gretchen Hoffman, Rewind

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My Suggested Reading List for Writers

I've been asked a lot recently for a list of books on writing to read.

Here it is (for now:)

For Fiction Writers:
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
Writing and Selling the Christian Novel by Penelope J. Stokes
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes: (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham
The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French
The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maas

For All Writers:

Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite by June Casagrande
Christian Writer’s Market Guide by Sally Stuart
Writer's Digest Market Guide• Woe is I by Patricia O’Conner
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Deval
The Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer
A Christian Writer’s Manual of Style by Bob Hudson & Shelley Townsend
The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal
The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel
Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul by Susan Harrow
Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams: Insider Secrets to SKYROCKET Your Success
W. Terry Whalin

Book Proposals That Sell: 21 SECRETS TO SPEED YOUR SUCCESS
W. Terry Whalin; Paperback

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Colleen Coble, Writing Advice

Today for writing advice I pulled out romantic suspense author, Colleen Coble, who is a fellow Hoosier. Here's how she answered my questions.

Colleen Coble, Indiana author of romantic suspense

1. Do you draw any of your ideas from your teen years?

"Sure. All those feelings of rejection and inferiority come from the teen years. LOL! Lots of actual incidents from my childhood and teen years have made it into my work, too."

2. What advice do you have for teen writers to encourage them to continue their journey?

"Realize that it's not going to happen now. You need some experience under your belt so you can have a book that resonates. In the meantime, journal your experiences and remember the ways you learn to deal with the hard knocks that hit us all. And read, read, read. That's the best education for writing you can have."

3. What's your best method for coming up with ideas for your books?

"Read magazines and newspapers and tear out anything that inspires an idea, even if it's not fully fleshed out. Watch documentaries and the history channel, even if you're not writing a historical. History is a great teacher of the human condition and people don't change, just technology around us. Be an observer of people, too, and jot down any interesting circumstances you notice."

Colleen just won BEST BOOK of INDIANA!!!! for her book ANATHEMA


"I’ve been a Hoosier all my life and am proud of my home state. When I first started writing, my dream was to have a book in the library. That’s it. Just to see it there in the place where I have spent so much of my life. I just won a state award (Best Books of Indiana–Fiction) for the book Anathema and what an exciting weekend it was! They had me sign the book and place it into the Indiana Authors Room collection. My name and the title hangs on a plaque outside the room now too. My parents came along, and it was such an honor to win this award!"

Even though she knows her Amish parents would disapprove, Hannah Schwartz slips away to meet her boyfriend, Reece Ericson. When she returns home, Hannah discovers that her parents have been murdered and their prized handmade quilts stolen! Years later, a shunned Hannah returns to the scene. Can her family—and her faith—be restored? 336 pages, hardcover from Nelson.

Literally Literary Agents

My Recommendation of the Day

I'm often asked about agents, but I have never listed any on this blog. Over at Seekerville, they have posted a blog that lists all the interviews with agents that they have done. Seekerville is a topnotch blog hosted by many writers, and it's a place I visit all the time.

If you are interested in agents, getting one of your own, check this out.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sarah Anne Sumpolec: Writing Advice

Back in May I spoke in schools and to a teen writing class in the HS. I asked some authors questions to answer for those children and teens,giving advice to the young writers' own work. It turned out to be good advice for any age writer. :)

So, in the next few posts, I'm going to share what they said, starting with Sarah Anne Sumpolec.

Sarah Anne Sumpolec, author of teen books:

Young writers, I think, should focus on lots of reading. And not just reading things they naturally like. But trying out a wide variety of books. And along with that reading, learning to analyze a story. When you finish a book, ask yourself things like:

Why did I like (or not like) this book?
What did I know about the main character?
How did the main characters change over the course of the story?
What kept my interest the most? (The people? The story?) Why?
Young writers should also do lots of writing. Practice! Practice! Practice! You'll never get too much practice! If any of them are like me, they may start lots of different projects, but never actually finish them. So completing a project - writing the entire story from start to finish, is a valuable habit to get into. You don't have to finish every story, but you should finish some of them:-)

What have you used from your growing up years in your writing?Interestingly, I have found that I pull from much of my growing up years and use that in my writing. I was in drama throughout school so sometimes my characters are involved with a play production, or I simply use my background in acting to help me develop my characters. I also valued education, so you won't find my characters not caring about school.

Writing is an extension of who we are, so the more well-rounded we are (and willing to try out lots of different things), then the more well-rounded our writing will be.

~Sarah Sumpolec

The Masquerade ( Becoming Beka Book 1 )
This first book in the Becoming Beka series introduces you to sixteeen-year-old Beka Madison. She's lost her mom, she's confused about guys and has a secret that she doesn't want to tell anyone. It's enough to make a girl feel crazy. But it's when her dad starts thinking she's lost her mind that things start to really fall apart.

Be sure to check her web site for the rest of the series and other resources, like her online story, Totally Unfamous.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Snow Melts in Spring

Over on When I Was Just a Kid, this is the book Deborah Vogt is giving away on her interview. If you're interested, go over and leave a comment to enter the drawing for it.

Snow Melts in Spring (Seasons of the Tallgrass) Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mattie Evans, a veterinarian who grew up in the famous Flint Hills of Kansas, is having a tough time gaining the confidence of the local ranchers. Her biggest supporter is an old rancher named John McCray, who also loves the Flint Hills and ranching. When an injured horse brings Mattie into contact with John's son, Gil, who has been out of touch with his dad while playing pro football, conflict strikes.

This is a gorgeous book and Vogt's love of horses and the famous last tall native prairie grasses in the world gives a wonderful flavor to a story with plenty of conflict. Contemporary issues and real life troubles bring it all home. This is one of my favorite books this year so far.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grateful to Almighty God for Our Liberties

Since we are under attack these days, threatening our liberty, our freedom to express our opinions, or to even disagree, even though our nation was established under the precepts of Judeo-Christian ethics, I thought I would praise God today through the preambles of state constitutions while I am still able to do so.

To God Be the Glory, amen!

1901, Preamble
We the people of the State of Alabama , invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution..

1956, Preamble We, the people of Alaska , grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

1911, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arizona , grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

1874, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arkansas , grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble We, the People of the State of California , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom...
1876, Preamble We, the people of Colorado , with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe...

1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.

Delaware 1897, Preamble Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences...

Florida 1885, Preamble We, the people of the State of Florida , grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution....

Georgia 1777, Preamble We, the people of Georgia , relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble We , the people of Hawaii , Grateful for Divine Guidance .... Establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble We, the people of the State of Idaho , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings...

1870, Preamble We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble We, the People of the State of Indiana , grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble We, the People of the State of Iowa , grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble We, the people of Kansas , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble.. We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties.

1921, Preamble We, the people of the State of Louisiana , grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity. .. And imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble We, the people of the state of Maryland , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...

1780, Preamble We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction.

Michigan 1908, Preamble... We, the people of the State of Michigan , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution.

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:

Mississippi 1890, Preamble We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble We, the people of Missouri , with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness establish this Constitution...

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution ....

Nebraska 1875, Preamble We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution.

Nevada 1864, Preamble We the people of the State of Nevada , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution.. .

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

New Mexico 1911, Preamble We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty.. .

New York 1846, Preamble We, the people of the State of New York , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina
1868, Preamble We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble We , the people of North Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble We the people of the state of Ohio , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common.

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance....

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina
, 1778, Preamble We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of South Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ...

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI..III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble We the People of the Republic of Texas , acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.

Vermont 1777, Preamble Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man ...

1776, Bill of Rights, XVI Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other.

Washington 1889, Preamble We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

West Virginia
1872, Preamble Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ..

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility...

Wyoming 1890, Preamble We, the people of the State of Wyoming , grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Got My Eyeball on Ya

This is my very own eyeball. I've seen too much through it and not enough. What I like about my eyeball is that it does not gain weight. What I hate about it is that it sometimes deceives me, entices me, or betrays me (I often "talk" through my eyes.)

Lately I've been agonizing again about my own POV. I want to do certain things, but hold back. You would think by this time in my life I would not hold back, but let it go with both barrels. I mean, I don't hold back because I'm afraid, but I do hold back because I know how it will go, or because I don't want to hurt someone, or I find myself with too many wrinkles and I'd look stupid! (Wait, that probably hasn't held me back before...)

I've not been posting here because I just have nothing to say. Well, that's not true. I just don't want to say anything to reveal what I'm truly thinking about! I have listened to whispers from the past in my ear. I don't feel in control. Sometimes you shouldn't be in control! (Just let God be in control.) Anyway, I have my eyeball on you all, but just haven't said too much here because I'm mulling over what my direction is going to be, what I need to put my energies into.

My husband used to say to our boys when they were little, "I'm watching you. I'm always watching you. Don't do anything that you wouldn't want me to see." LOL, and they really believed that he could SEE them. (Kept four rambunctious boys in line and they still ask themselves, "Would dad see me?")

I just want my Heavenly Father to be pleased with what I'm spending time doing. He's watching me and expects me to do those things that He wants for me. I see you all doing wonderful things and I'm watching to see if there are clues or messages for me in those things.

So, while I love blogging, I'm not sure what I'm doing with it right now. Maybe I'll put up some of my children's stories that I can't sell, or maybe I'll put up some excerpts from a book I wrote called This Ain't No Glamour Detail? All I know is that I'm restless and know I am spinning wheels.

Be back soon....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Faith, Hope & Love Chapter of RWA IRCC Winners

Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) had the Awards Ceremony for the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest today.

Maybe you can find something to read on this list, if you'd like to try romance. Congratulations to all~!

2009 IRCC Winners

Long Contemporary
1)Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner (Harvest)
2)When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall (Waterbrook)
3)Along Came a Cowboy by Christine Lynxwiler (Barbour)

Short Contemporary
1)A Time to Heal by Linda Goodnight (Steeple Hill)
2)Hidden by Shelley Shepherd Gray (Avon Inspire)
3)Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas by Sandra D. Bricker (Summerside Press)

Long Historical (3rd Place Tie)
1)My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Bethany House)
2)A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman (Revell)
3)Courting Emma by Sharlene MacLaren (Whitaker House)
3)A Promise to Believe In by Tracie Peterson (Bethany House)

Short Historical
1)Hideaway Home by Hannah Alexander (Steeple Hill)
2)Family of the Heart by Dorothy Clark (Steeple Hill)
3)Promises, Promises by Amber Miller (Barbour)

Women’s Fiction
1)Where Do I Go? by Neta Jackson (Thomas Nelson)
2)Waiting For Daybreak by Kathryn Cushman (Bethany House)
3)Lying On Sunday by Sharon K. Souza (NavPress)

Romantic Suspense
1)Healing Promises by Amy Wallace (Multnomah)
2)Shadows at the Window by Linda Hall (Steeple Hill)
3)Double Jeopardy by Terri Reed (Steeple Hill)

1)Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn (Faith Words)
2)Almost Home by Susan Page Davis (Barbour)
3)Stuck On You by Rhonda Gibson (Barbour)

When I Was Just a Kid: Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Come over to When I Was Just a Kid and read about Diana Lesire Brandmeyer's childhood and see her photos! And leave a comment to be entered to have a chance to win Diana's book, Hearts on the Road!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Introduction to Writing Christian Novels

Author Ginny Smith is teaching a class online on how to write a Christian novel! Sign up TODAY as it starts July 6th. Ginny is a great teacher and has written many novels herself.

Introduction to Writing Christian Novels

Shared via AddThis

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon

Winners of the review of the first five pages of their fiction manuscripts on Christine Lindsay's blog were Mary Allen and Debbie Fuller Thomas!

Ironically, I just finished Debbie Fuller Thomas's book Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fabulous voice and an intriguing story, Debbie does first person POV from two characters to make this an intimate story. Marty Winslow's middle daughter of three dies from a rare genetic disease--which leads to discovering that she was accidently switched as a newborn.

Heartbroken over her daughter's death, and finding out that her "real" daughter is being raised by grandparents after her parents died in a fire, Marty fights to win custody of Andie, her biological daughter. Complications occur with the fact that she's a single, divorced mother living with her father (after her mother's death from breast cancer) and two other daughters with issues of their own.

The emotions are real and the unique two-prong 1st person POV characters of Marty and Andie cause the reader to understand both viewpoints. She does a superb job of tackling both. I look forward to more from this talented author.

View all my reviews.

Crystal Laine's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

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.