Sunday, October 30, 2011

Common Characteristics of Creative Processes

Otherwise titled Baking Bread and Writing Novels

I love baking artisan breads. That’s something you already know if you follow me on Facebook or have read a few of my blog interviews. Baking bread is a hobby I picked up early last spring. I found an article in Mother Earth News magazine that caught my attention. Other than using my bread machine, I’d never baked a loaf the “old-fashioned way.” But I tried this easy recipe and the next thing you know, I was hooked. I bought several books on various bread-baking techniques and I took off experimenting, mixing and matching the various recipes and methods. Knead or no-knead. Slow-fermentation in the refrigerator or over 12-18 hours sitting out. Sour-dough (there’s another story).

You know what I discovered? Start with flour, throw in a little yeast and enough water to make dough and voila, in a few hours you can have the aroma of a bread baking in your home with no more effort than that.

Next I found myself baking bread, trying a new recipe or perfecting an old one, when I should have been working on my deadlines. I say deadlines in the plural because I had overlapping deadlines. Two books due within a few weeks of each other.

But I found that I needed bread-making as a creative outlet—that following a recipe or concocting my own, kneading the dough into a soft ball—actually stimulated my creativity. In that way taking time away from writing to make a loaf of bread (which honestly can be time-consuming) helped me to meet my deadlines. It helped me to be more creative with my stories.

Since I’m a writer, I'm often coming up with analogies or ways that one thing is like another. (Okay, that statement just made me think of the song from Sesame Street). So, how is baking bread like writing a novel?

To write a novel you start with the most basic ingredients—a blank page and writing instrument. (computer or pen/pencil)

To bake bread you start with the most basic ingredients—flour, water, yeast.

I love that in both instances you can start with simple ingredients, bare essentials, to create something wonderful. That's how baking bread and writing a novel are the most alike.

Is that a stretch? I don’t think so. I’m considering writing a few future posts about baking bread and in some cases tying that to better writing or life in general.

I’d love to hear your thoughts—if that’s something you’d like to see.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blog appearances this week.

I'm guest blogging over at Martha Rogers' blog today--hop over there for a chance to win a copy of Freezing Point.

Also, Janet Lee Barton interviewed me on her blog, too, and also offers another chance to win a copy of Freezing Point.

Hope you have a chance to join the discussions!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have you seen Christians Read yet?

I recently joined with numerous other prolific writers contributing to a new blog called Christians Read.

From the Christians Read website:

A group of Christian readers who also happen to be writers. They’ve joined together to create a lively blog that focuses on three main areas:

During the work week, the participating authors and invited guests will blog about books and reading, devotionals, inspiring quotes and on topics of interest to Christians in their own daily lives.
2. On weekends, authors will be posting blog entries on writing--the craft, the business, and/or the writing life.
On weekends, guest bloggers who have scheduled a desire to post will add their entries.

Current contributing authors are:

Hannah Alexander, Julie Arduini, Elizabeth Goddard, Sarah Goebel, Kristen Heitzmann, Vicki Hinze, Michele Huey, Maureen Lang, Yvonne Lehman, Kathi Macias, Karen Moore, Yvonne Ortega, Lynette Sowell, Camy Tang

I'm posting at the
Christians Read Blog today!

Stop by and join the discussion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spotlight: A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I met Tammy Alexander in a critique group before either of us was published. She had just joined ACFW, if I remember correctly, and was promptly put into what will always affectionately be known as critique group number five (Waving to my friends who know who they are). We've long since "split" which seems like a harsh word but as each of us became published and we moved on, or time to critique became a rare thing, the group of friends said our goodbyes as an official critique group, but of course we're all still friends on some level. That's how it is in some critique groups--you meet people you instantly click with and share a lot of love and laughs. I know some haven't had that same experience.

I bring this up because I remember the first time I read the manuscript that Tammy submitted to our group. After reading only a few sentences, a paragraph and then a page, I instantly saw that Tammy's voice was far beyond anything I had read in the "learning to craft phase" of a critique group. Tammy had something special and it wasn't long before others took notice. Of course now she is a renown mutli-published award winning novelist.

My point--the first time I met her, Tammy made A Lasting Impression on me.

I'd also like to point out that I want to buy the book based on that gorgeous cover itself--I mean--is that dress beautiful or what?

Here's the back cover copy via Amazon:

To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.

All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Set at Nashville's historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera's stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers' hearts and leave them eager for more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Redwood Coast

This week I'm working feverishly on my third book in a Heartsong Presents series, which hopefully will be called Redwood Coast. All the stories are set in very Northern California in the coastal redwoods--one of my favorite places in the world.

If I can figure out how to get all those digital photos I took of our hikes off my ancient mac, I'll try to post a few here. As a child I dreamed of visiting the redwood forest but living in Texas never imagined I would end up living so close I could drive there for an afternoon hike. However, I'm back in Texas now and God blessed me with the opportunity to write three stories set in the redwoods.

I received my author copy of the first book in that series, Under the Redwood Tree, this weekend.

Here is the back cover copy:

A war hero’s scars are still raw to the touch until a gifted artist paints his heart.

Romeo Merete was wounded in Afghanistan, and multiple surgeries couldn’t restore his face. But his scars run deeper than he ever imagined, and the last thing he expects is the beautiful artist who looks straight through him, threatening to expose his heart.

Camille Westover is one contest away from her dream of an art school scholarship. But she’s lost her inspiration to paint—until a wounded soldier captures her heart. Unfortunately, her dream could lead her far from the one place and the one person she loves the most.

When Camille’s chances of winning are sabotaged and a possible stalker suspected, Romeo is concerned for more than losing the woman he loves to her dream. Can he accept the truth of what Camille sees when she looks at him? Will Camille discover the hope of love that stands before her?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Adventures of the Family Kind

And those are the best kind, right? Had a great laid-back weekend. Spent four hours on Saturday delivering kiddoes to soccer games, coaching from the sidelines (though I'm only Mom, not the coach) and hours sitting in the blazing sun watching. I have the sunburn to prove it.

Our dog Dekker (yes, named after Ted and that's another story) had a few adventures of his own. He's one of the neediest creatures I know and quite possibly needs therapy! He can't stand it when anyone leaves and if he manages to escape the house and jump in the car, good luck getting him out.

On the way home from soccer with one of my boys we were a half a mile from the house when we saw Dekker trotting down the road with a look of purpose. He was on a mission all right. He'd escaped the house and gone in search of the minivan. Of course, he passed us on his mission to find us. We stopped at the side of the road and once he realized it was us, raced back to the van. I think his many sucessful escape attempts lately have made him more gutsy when it comes to other things.

After a dinner of roast and potatoes and home made rolls which I labored over all day, I waited for my daughter to return with the few necessary items I needed to wrap and store the food. But when I looked at the table--the roast was mysteriously missing. I thought my husband had stored it away and the next thing you know, we are all searching for the missing roast. Almost as if scripted, together we turned our attention to Dekker who sat there licking his chomps under a mop of a greasy, fury beard. Ew and sigh. He's never done anything like that before and besides--that was a lot of roast. Can't believe he finished it off.

On a good note, I had time to do something I enjoy. I made some crescent rolls. I love the smell of the yeast bread rising, and the aroma when it's baking in the oven. You can see the before (on the left) and the after (on the right.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Author Spotlight: Falling to Pieces by Vannetta Chapman

I met Vannetta Chapman at the ACFW conference two years ago. I instantly liked her and at this year's conference, seemed like we'd been friends forever.

She writes Amish mysteries for Zondervan and Amish romance for Harvest House. Don't blame her if I got that wrong, and Amish something else for Abingdon.

Here's an excerpt from Amazon:
"In this first book of a three-book series, author Vannetta Chapman brings a fresh twist to the popular Amish fiction genre. She blends the familiar components consumers love in Amish books---faith, community, simplicity, family---with an innovative who-done-it plot that keeps readers guessing right up to the last stitch in the quilt. When two women---one Amish, one English---each with different motives, join forces to organize a successful on-line quilt auction, neither expects nor wants a friendship. As different as night and day, Deborah and Callie are uneasy partners who simply want to make the best of a temporary situation. But a murder, a surprising prime suspect, a stubborn detective, and the town's reaction throw the two women together, and they form an unlikely alliance to solve a mystery and catch a killer. Set in the well-known Amish community of Shipshewana, Falling to Pieces will attract both devoted fans of the rapidly-growing Amish fiction genre, as well as those who are captivated by the Amish way of life."

Keep 'em coming, Vannetta!

P.S. I'm giving away ten copies of Freezing Point--you have until the end of this week to sign up over at Goodreads!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Launch Week for Freezing Point

My latest release, Freezing Point, released October 1st! You can click on the sidebar of this blog or on my books page to learn more about it or to find out how to purchase it.

This week you can find me visiting several blogs featuring interviews and book giveaways.

On Monday, October 3rd, I'm over at The Borrowed Book with Elizabeth Ludwig.

All week long you can find me with Shirley Connolly at A Pen For Your Thoughts. Shirley has come up with a creative and somewhat humorous blog.

Lyn Cote (pronounced Co-TEEE i discovered) features a blog about strong women. Stop by and visit to read about the strong women in my life at
Strong Women, Brave Stories.

Next, on the 7th you can find me at eharlequin's pubbing 101. Here's the link.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

ACFW Conference Notes--old friends and new

I'm finally getting around to sharing about my conference experience and by now, many of you have probably read all you want to about the conference! I put up a number of pictures on my Facebook page and still need to upload to my author fan page. But things take time and life has been more than hectic since returning.

The great thing about attending the conference is reconnecting with friends. Some I talk to every day via the internet and others I chat with every year at the conference. One of my dearest writing buddies lives several states away from me--but we chat every day. I shared a room with her this year at the conference. Shannon McNear is a great writer and upcoming published author.

Another dear friend, Jill Eileen Smith, has been on this writing journey with me since the beginning. We met early on at the conference when neither of us was published, but we encouraged each other. That's why it's important to connect at a conference--the encouragement will keep you writing.

Jill wanted to get a picture of me with my award--The Camera Never Lies won the Carol Award this year! I was completely stunned and shocked, and also very humbled. The award definitely told me that my mother isn't the only one who enjoyed my story!

I also got a shot with Susan Downs. She was the acquiring editor for mysteries then at Barbour who bought The Camera Never Lies (then named Portrait of a Murder).

Thanks for believing in me Susan! I wish I could have thanked more people during my speech, but since I failed to write one, believing that I wouldn't win, I was blessed to get any words out at all.

I took many more pictures of friends, both old and new and you can view them on my Facebook page. There are just too many to name in this post.

I do want to mention someone I met for the first time and I'm so glad I did. I was recently interviewed on Gate Beautiful, a Blog Talk radio show, coming on right after Judy Gann of Library Insider, and wouldn't you know?--I saw next to her several times at the conference. She's a dear woman who had plenty to share with me about a few things I'm going through right now. Call it a Divine appointment.

Next year's conference is only 50 weeks and counting.

October 2011 Releases from ACFW members!

A Wedding Invitation by Alice Wisler -- General Fiction from Bethany House; When Samantha Bravencourt receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart.

Attracted by Fire by DiAnn Mills -- A Thriller/Suspense from Tyndale. When a Secret Service Agent is assigned to the Vice President's rebellious daughter, danger lurks in every corner - and her heart.

Deeply Devoted: A Novel; The Blue Willow Brides Series by Maggie Brendan -- A Historical from Revell -- She is staking her future on a man she's never met. Can she learn to love him?

Freezing Point by Beth Goddard -- A Thriller/Suspense from Love Inspired. Casey Wilkes didn't realize her simple human-interest story would put her life at risk—again.

Lethal Remedy by Richard L. Mabry M.D. -- A Thriller/Suspense from Abingdon; A doctor discovers that the experimental "wonder drug" that offers the only hope of cure for a universally fatal infection can be attacking more than just bacteria.

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist, -- Historical Romance from Bethany House. Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley -- A Historical from Rhealms (Charisma Media). Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she's adopted and her journey begins.

Recipe for Deceit by S. Dionne Moore -- Mystery from Barbour. The third LaTisha Barnhart mystery finds the sassy diner owner trying to figure out who put the hit on a hitman.

Rodeo Dust by Shannon Vanatter -- Romance from Barbour Heartsong; Can they rely on God to find their common ground or will they draw a line in the rodeo dust that neither will cross?

Southern Fried Sushi: A Novel by Jennifer Rogers Spinola -- General Fiction from Barbour; Ride the roller coaster of Shiloh Jacobs’s life as her dreams derail, sending her on a downward spiral from the heights of an AP job in Tokyo to penniless in rural Virginia.

Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy-- Thriller/Suspense from Barbour; A demon possessed serial killer pits himself against a former ego driven cop, who's found peace as a mission pastor and a tough lady cop with the spiritual gift of discerning spirits.

The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy-- Thriller/Suspense from Thomas Nelson; To save her husband and son, Audrey Bofinger must rescue her enemy.

The Chair by James Rubart-- Thriller/Suspense from B and H Publishing; If you were given an ancient looking chair and told Jesus Christ made it, would you believe them?

The Christmas Child by Linda Goodnight-- Romance from Love Inspired; When a battle weary cop and a Christmas crazy teacher join forces to care for an abandoned, mute boy in a small town, neither is prepared for the shocking revelations waiting...just in time for Christmas.

The Lady's Maid by Susan Page Davis-- Romance from Barbour; As a lady's maid, Elise will follow her mistress anywhere, even into the Wild West.

The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell-- Young Adult from Barbour; Join conflicted sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield on her journey to hope and healing as she leaves her messed-up life behind and moves into home for troubled teens

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones-- Young Adult from Thomas Nelson; Grief brought Finley to Ireland. Love will lead her home.

When Love Gets in the Way by Janelle Mowery-- A Historical from Harvest House; Straight from the heart of the Old West, the Colorado Runaway series is full of adventure, humor, and romance.

When Two Hearts Meet by Janelle Mowery-- A Historical from Harvest House; Rachel Garrett finds that attaining her dream of becoming a nurse is fraught with peril, and a deputy sheriff with a wall around his heart doesn’t help matters.