Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shameless Plug!

It's been awhile since I posted because I've been hurtling at warp speed toward the deadline for my first book. Very scary stuff.

So I've crawled out of my cave to brave the sunlight only long enough to toss out the aforementioned shameless plug. I recently found my copy of a Barbour press release sitting in my email box. Since I've sort of decided to chronicle my journey in this tucked away, seldom viewed forum, I felt it appropriate to post the press release here:

Barbour Publishing Affirms Commitment to Fiction
Signs Exclusive, Multi-Book Contracts with Five Authors

Uhrichsville, OH—Demonstrating its continuing commitment to fiction, Barbour Publishing has signed five authors to exclusive, multi-book contracts. Current authors Mary Connealy, M.L. Tyndall, Christine Lynxwiler, and Kelly Eileen Hake, and new author Marcia Gruver, will write a combined 30 books for Barbour over the next few years.

"Barbour has long been known for doing inspirational romance well, and we have plans to continue to grow that strength with the launch of our cozy mystery series in January 2008 and with more full-length fiction novels on each new list," said Rebecca Germany, fiction editor for Barbour.

Mary Connealy, whose first two books Petticoat Ranch and Golden Days released in February, is known for bringing humor to historical settings. Connealy has agreed to write nine books for release over the next three years, beginning with Calico Canyon in August 2008 and Gingham Mountain in spring 2009. Following that series, she will write a series of humorous romances set in Montana. Her next book, Of Mice…and Murder, releases in early 2008 in the Heartsong Presents Mysteries book club.

M.L. Tyndall, who earned a 2007 Christy Award nomination for her book, The Redemption, has agreed to writing six books over the next three years. Tyndall, who has written three inspirational pirate romance novels set in the Caribbean, will release The Falcon and the Sparrow in August 2008, a stand-alone novel set in England during the Napoleon Wars, followed by a trilogy about three sisters set in Charleston, SC, prior to the American Revolution.

Award-winning author Christine Lynxwiler is set to release six books, starting in spring 2009. Lynxwiler, who won a book of the year award from American Christian Fiction Writers, writes lighthearted contemporary fiction. Barbour reports strong sales for her latest release, Forever Christmas, and her Arkansas story collection has become a Barbour bestseller. Her next book, Along Came a Cowboy, is due out in fall 2008.

Kelly Eileen Hake, the daughter of bestselling author Cathy Marie Hake, has become a reader favorite as part of Barbour’s Heartsongs Presents program, where she has released several books. Beginning in the fall 2008, Barbour plans to release a three-book historical brides series set in Nebraska. At the same time, Kelly Hake also plans to pursue a master’s in fiction writing.

Joining the Barbour family will be first-time author Marcia Gruver, who has agreed to a three book series. Gruver, who lives in Texas, found out about her contract when Germany made the annual surprise announcement at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in September. The first book in Gruver’s historical Texas Fortunes trilogy, Diamond Duo, is scheduled for a fall 2008 release.

There, now. I've shamelessly plugged. But not just myself. I've also tooted the horn for a few other writers--amazing writers with whom I feel unworthy (but so honored) to be numbered.

In case you missed it, that's my name right there at the end. Oh, and at the beginning, too. In the sentence that reads "new author Marcia Gruver will write a combined total of 30 books for Barbour over the next few years." ;)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

July 31st? That was my last post? My how time flies when you're awarded a contract at the ACFW conference in Dallas from Barbour Publishing for a three book series entitled Texas Fortunes including Diamond Duo, the first title, followed by Chasing Charity, and then Emmy's Equal. gasp!

You read right. I received my first contract! A THREE-BOOK contract. Bless you Rebecca Germany and Barbour for your faith in me. I won't let you down!

And that's the reason/excuse I have for neglecting my blog. I have a DEADLINE. Wow. It's like a roller coaster ride over the Grand Canyon. Thrilling and terrifying all at the same time.

Deadline or not, I've been hauled from my cave by the ear--thanks to my lovely, sweet critique partner, Jessica Ferguson.

I've been tagged. Not like a deer or a dead body. This friendly little tag is worse in some ways. It requires me to tax my memory, to go back in my mind to times and places I might not care to revisit. But, hey. A soon-to-be-multi-published-author can be a good sport, so here goes:

My life 10 years ago: I had just awakened from the fog of new-found love and realized I'd actually married a man with four boys. (Took me five years to wake up.) Hubby was on the road, and I was home alone with a ten-year-old and three teen aged boys. Yikes! I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

20 years ago: Living in Virginia, attending a school near D.C. to learn computer programming. Watching my daughter fall in love with a Virginia boy who would later become the father of my two oldest grandsons.

30 years ago: Now we're taxing my mind. This is too close to the 60's for my memory to be of any use at all. :) If you'd asked about 40 years ago, I could've told stories of thigh-high boots and waist-length hair, of riding on the backs of motorcycles, surfing, attending Beatles concerts.

In the 70's I was a reformed hippy, redeemed Christian, and the mother of a beautiful eight-year-old daughter. So, I guess they were great times after all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I ran across this wonderful piece the other day. I emailed the owner of the site where I found it to get permission to repeat it here. She told me the only stipulation was to include the byline, which I gladly offer below:

We are the chosen. My feelings are, in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know, and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but instead breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe.

All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.

It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers. That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

Author: Della M. Cummings Wright and re-written by her granddaughter, Della JoAnn McGinnis Johnson

These words speak to me on so many levels. As the chosen scribe for this generation in my family, it validates my need to know. To search and surf and dig for answers. It explains why I’m so enamored by the past. I recently traced my ancestors back to the early 1600’s. When I read the names of those who had gone before, I felt connected to the planet in a way I’d never experienced before. It really did “put flesh on their bones and make them live again.”

But the place where this piece really touched me runs deeper still. Christians are members of a tribe that has nothing to do with flesh and bone. The Tree of Life is our family tree where our spiritual ancestors cling. We owe a debt to all the children of God who walked the planet before us and blazed a trail. Our task is to pass the torch to the next generation.

For me, it explains why God calls writers into His service. “We are the storytellers of the tribe.” Today, a Christian writer’s job is to tell the old, old story and keep it fresh, to weave ancient truth into the modern landscape, to lay a path of Bread-of-Life crumbs for the next wave.

“So as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.” My eternal family.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tools and Shtuff

Plotline. Backstory. Character description.
Opening hook. Conflict. Ticking clock.

Whether you draft an outline, write a chapter synopsis, swear by the Snowflake, or fly by the seat of your pants, overseeing the first gasping breaths of a newborn novel can be a daunting task. But you have to go there before you can get to the good parts: quirky characterization, story weaving, and brilliant, soul stirring dialogue.

If you’ve never heard of the Snowflake Method mentioned above, I highly recommend you use the provided link (waving to Randy I.) and enlighten yourself. I’ve yet to follow the method through to completion, but used the first steps very successfully to plot two books. Never quite managed to list my scenes via spreadsheet.

Randy Ingermanson is a pioneer in novel construction, and I offer him props. But today I discovered a new toy. has created powerful software for creative writers. In particular a program called Power Writer, a functional word processor with fully integrated outlining and story development tools. I downloaded the demo version and have to say I was impressed enough to place the order. Power Writer has a big brother called Power Structure, an amazing program that lives up to its name. I know because I got that demo, too. Of the two, Power Writer seems to meet my present needs, but if I outgrow it, I’ll know where to turn.

Have I shoveled the Snowflake from my writing paths? Not on your life. With all Power Writer’s bells and whistles, there’s nary a mention of snowflake fractals, spreadsheet lists, or Legal Shtuff. Some things can’t be replaced.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Blog For Sale. Cheap.

Okay, I thought it would be easy. I found this little niche and fell in love. My old place—the website—was nice enough, but a bit too big and hard to maintain. This little corner of the Web seemed just about right, so I took the plunge. VeriSigned my name on the cyber line and procured myself a piece of blogger real estate.

Home sweet home, right? Think again.

Oh, the neighborhood’s friendly enough (waving to Crit3 girls). And decorating was fun. I enjoyed dabbing on a little paint, adding a few knickknacks. But when the time came to move in, that’s when the problems began.

You see, I have scores of devotionals, personal experience stories, novel ideas, and creative writing tips packed away in my writer’s storehouse, but no matter which box I unpacked, which arrangement I tried, nothing seemed to fit these new digs. I had visions of turning this drab, empty space into a warm, inviting nook, a place of refreshing, a haven of rest. So far it’s been little more than redundant redux.

So is my site really for sale?

I guess not. I’m actually committed to it—for now. Just suffering a touch of blogger’s remorse. But I reserve the right to put it back on the market at a future time. Unless Ty Pennington comes up with a version of Extreme Makeover: Blogger Edition.

How about it, Ty?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

“Squashing the Grasshopper”

Imagining yourself small, weak and defenseless makes the world a scary place. It’s tough to go through life dodging giants, but after reading chapters thirteen and fourteen of Numbers, I discovered my problem wasn’t even unique.

The children of Israel reached the land of promise after a long and arduous journey. God told Moses to send twelve men to spy out the land. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, focused on God’s promises. With Joshua cheering him on, Caleb said, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (KJV)

The others answered, "We saw the giants . . . and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers." (KJV)

Pleased with Caleb’s faith, God said, “. . . my servant Caleb is different from the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land.” (NLT) God equated their faithful, fearless attitudes with loyalty to Him.

As I read those words, truth pricked my heart. For years I had spied out ground I longed to occupy and found it filled with giants. My life teemed with Goliaths, and in every skirmish with the enemy I saw myself a grasshopper. Fear reduced my Promised Land to a worthless piece of real estate, land I was destined to pass on to my children’s children.

This realization lit a fire in my soul and a determination to be different. God’s words fueled the hope that I might be the first in a long line of faith-filled warriors. Hope brought healing, and in the process God birthed a ministry in me.

What miracles might He have wrought in my life if I’d understood sooner? If you feel you’re set apart to do something for God, I urge you not to waste another day. Focus on His promises. “Go up at once, and possess it; for you are well able . . .”

My Bookshelf

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