Thursday, May 31, 2012

Take the High Road

 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7: 13,15

Abert Rim in Oregon (public domain)
I started a new walking program and hopefully I can keep it up. The best part is that it gets me off the treadmill and into the outdoors, which I love. But summer is coming on, and I’m in Texas, which means I have to walk in the evening or early morning because it’s too hot otherwise.

My husband calculated the trail I walk to be .7 miles. So if I walk back and forth several times I can easily walk two or three miles or even go for six. For years I ran a couple of miles every day but I’ve had such a brutal schedule the last two years I fell behind on running. Eventually, I’ll work back up to running, but for now, walking is good. 

The great thing is this path includes a couple of good hills and nothing gets your heart pumping like hills.  At one point during my walk I can choose to do the hill or take the easy way. But the hill, though more difficult, will yield greater results. 

I walked the hill this week and, as I started breathing harder and having to work for it, I thought about the phrase, ‘take the high road.’  The high road is the more difficult way. The saying generally refers to being moral, ethical, truthful, honorable and unselfish. But it’s more than that. It's being all of those things when life gets tough, which isn’t always so easy. The hill--and now I'm talking spiritually--is definitely the harder way to go, but again, it yields greater results.  

Thankfully God is always there with us. We can overcome any mountain with Him. When we are weak, He is strong, and there is nothing too difficult for Him. 


(On a side note: Abert Rim is the largest exposed fault in North America. Oregon Outback opens with my character hang-gliding from Abert Rim.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Adventure Novels and Story Setting

If you’re familiar with my novels you know that I love my romance seasoned with a big dose of adventure and suspense. Setting can be a character in a novel and, in my opinion, is essential to an adventure story.

Often writers set all their stories in a specific region they love or at least with which they’re reasonably familiar.While I’m an experienced traveler and have first-hand knowledge of most of my settings, I also love to step away from the familiar in my stories, if possible. As a seventh generation Texan, I love Texas much like Scarlet O’Hara loved Tara, the family plantation, in Gone with the Wind. But with my adventurer’s heart, I love to experience new places, particularly a rocky coast or an old-growth wilderness forest or a snow-covered mountain. 

When I saw the phrase, "Oregon Outback," on the cover of a travel magazine, I knew that would make a perfect title for a novel and that I had to write a story set in Oregon’s high desert.That story eventually evolved into four novellas about four brothers who live in the region. An FBI agent. A cattle rancher. An adrenaline junkie. A bail bond recovery agent. All facing the elements of the Oregon Outback. All sacrificing for love.*

I’ve discovered that I don’t choose the setting. The setting chooses me. That might sound a little corny, but if you’re a writer, you understand what I mean. Just like Oregon's high desert drew my attention and wouldn’t let go, other settings are now vying for my attention to be included in an adventurous romantic suspense novel.
I'm not sure why I'm drawn to this type of story. Maybe it has everything to do with what I read growing up.
Below is a list of a few classic adventure novels. All of these were among my favorites . Which ones have you read?

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle 

Where would you like to see an adventure story set?
*Want to read an excerpt from Oregon Outback? Please sign up to receive my newsletter. I’m getting ready to send that out and it will include the excerpt.

(Photo: untitled (Bill Herndon) / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Great Minds Think Alike: When Someone Else Has the Same Idea

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Ten years ago when I first became serious about writing novels for publication, learning how to come up with ideas was the first order of business. I’d dreamed of being a writer all my life, but when I sat down to write, I realized that turning my dream into a book started with an idea. 

I began a file and selected three of the best ideas--the ones that caught my attention. Then I narrowed it down to the one that I would research for turning into a novel. I’d found a newspaper article about a group of covert operatives who rescued those suffering in places like Sudan. I visited my local Christian bookstore to browse other novels and see what else would compare to mine.

When I pulled Jefferson Scott's (AKA Jeff Gerke)  Operation Firebrand  from the shelves and read the back cover copy, I knew that someone had beat me to the story.  I was devastated.

Just over ten years later on the publishing journey, I’ve learned that all authors suffer through discovering someone else has the same great idea. Either an editor already has a comparable proposal on their desk or there are several books out with similar concepts. Often it’s much more devastating to learn that someone else is further along in the process with a similar idea. Writers can lose their motivation to keep going.

Why does this happen? Seasoned writers understand there is nothing new under the sun and though story concepts may be similar, a writer brings his or her voice to the story and many other elements to create a completely different story.

We often credit Thomas Edison for inventing the light bulb, but did you know that Joseph Swan earned a British patent for his light bulb around the same time as Edison? Both of them developed their work from other scientist who’d experimented before them. 

If someone else has an idea like yours, consider yourself in good company. You’re on the right track, but maybe you should delve deeper to make your story unique.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Considering God's Glorious Creation


Lord, our Lord,  how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

Today's a beautiful spring day and you can feel a hint of summer in the air.  I'm sitting outside and  considering God’s glorious creation. The wind is whipping the trees around and, if I close my eyes, I can almost imagine I’m on a beach. The sound of the leaves rustling is similar to ocean waves crashing against the shore. 

Don't you agree?

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