Monday, December 8, 2008

Pulpwood Parties and a Rastafari Christmas

The first time I met Kathy Patrick, I recognized her as a force of nature. After four days hanging with the Pulpwood Queen in Jefferson, Texas, I’ve dubbed her The Whirlwind.

Kathy offered to host me for a book signing during Jefferson’s annual Candlelight Tour of Homes. She also used her influence to finagle me a signing at Barron’s Bookstore in Longview.

A little honesty here: When the time came to head for Jefferson, I didn’t want to go. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, and having just settled into a new place, I wanted to put my feet up and write instead of hitting the highway. Well, let me tell you -- I’m SO glad I went.

Kathy dedicated herself to making my stay in Jefferson comfortable, productive, and most importantly, fun. We spent a fab-a-lous four days eating great food, chillin' with the girlfriends, talking to all hours of the night, doing our hair, plotting a new version of A Christmas Carol starring Bob Marley as the Ghost of Christmas Surreal, and (lest I forget why I went in the first place) selling books.
Thanks, Kathy!

Signing in Barron's Bookstore, Longview,
Texas. Special thanks to Vickie Phelps
who hosted me with warmth and grace.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beloved Captive, go HERE.

My review: I can't review Beloved Captive because it's still on my TBR pile. I did have the pleasure of reading Beloved Castaway, the first book in the Fairweather Keys Series, so I can't wait to read book two. Kathleen Y'Barbo is one of the most talented authors in her field. Her writing pulls you into her beautifully described settings and into the lives of her multi-faceted characters. Having read several of Kathleen's novels, I feel qualified to highly recommend Beloved Captive.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Come join me tomorrow (11/24) on Romance Writer's on the Journey, hosted by Keli Gwyn. Keli hit me with challenging but fun interview questions that I think you'll enjoy, and we'll be giving away an autographed copy of Diamond Duo.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Recap of Books Alive!

Recently, I accepted an invitation from the remarkable Kathy L. Patrick to attend Books Alive, her annual book festival in Jefferson, Texas. Kathy is the proprietress extraordinaire of Beauty and the Book, a combination beauty salon/bookstore in Jefferson. She’s the author of The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life and the founder of the infamous Pulpwood Queen’s Book Club “where tiaras are mandatory and reading good books is the RULE!”

Kathy claims to love books and their authors—and brother she’s not kidding. I’ve never met a stronger advocate for literacy or a bigger supporter of the writing profession. Her passion has served her well. She rubs shoulders with best-selling authors and does guest spots on Oprah and Good Morning America.

I had a great time at Books Alive! and I hope Kathy will invite me back next year. I'll be her guest for Jefferson's Candlelight Tour of Homes in December (check the calendar of events in the sidebar for details).

I’ve posted pictures of the talented authors featured this year at Books Alive!

Left to right: Kathy Patrick, Heather R. Lee with her daughter and writing partner Carmen, Kathy Whitehead, Kitty Chappell, lil' old me, Deeanne Gist, Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, and Suzanne McLennan:

Dinner with Kathy Patrick, Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, and Kathy Whitehead at Lamache's Italian Restaurant inside the historic Jefferson Hotel:

I'll try to post a few more pictures this week.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Reviews are in!

I spend a lot of time these days crying grateful tears while reading accounts of the tremendously positive reception to Diamond Duo. With great pleasure and a humble heart, allow me to post some of the amazing reviews I've found on the web:

This is the first installment of a new series, Texas Fortunes, by a talented author who works factual happenings into her fiction. Readers will root for the protagonists of this charming tale. - Romantic Times - Four stars
With lyrical prose and a cast of characters that will remain in your heart long after the last page is turned, Marcia Gruver’s debut novel is a must-read. Whether you’re seeking a romance, a wonderful Southern story or an escape to another time, Diamond Duo is a masterpiece waiting to be found. - Kathleen Y’barbo- author of the Fairweather Key series

Diamond Duo is alive with great characters, brought to life under Marcia Gruver’s unique skill. The charm of the little details and the big picture of tension and murder will keep you turning the pages. - Mary Connealy- author of the Lassoed in Texas series

Marcia Gruver’s writing is witty, charming and historically accurate. She pulls you into the lives of the characters and makes you feel as though you’re actually walking and talking with them. Best of all, she captures the true feel of the setting, (a real strength in her stories). I can’t recommend Diamond Duo strongly enough! - Janice Thompson- author of the Bridal Mayhem series

Well-written, delightful characters—Diamond Duo is the most entertaining historical to come around in a long time. - Elizabeth Ludwig- author of Where the Truth Lies and Died in the Wool

Diamond Duo is a beautifully written historical rich in authentic period details with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. Marcia Gruver brings us a bit of suspense, a sweet and unpredictable romance, and life lessons along the way. You’re sure to be entertained and come away with questions about your own faith and sense of urgency in bringing the Good News to those in need. What more could you ask for in a Christian fiction novel? - Susan Sleeman- author of the Garden Gate Mystery series

Five Stars. Terrific late Reconstruction era romance - The first Texas Fortunes historical romance is a terrific late Reconstruction era tale that brings to life a port city. The murder of Annie also known as Diamond Bessie Monroe is a real event that anchors the well written story line; as Marcia Gruver easily blends fact and fiction. With a strong cast especially the lead couple who each has self esteem issues, fans of Reconstruction Era romances will want to read the delightful DIAMOND DUO. - Harriet Klausner- Amazon’s #1 reviewer

Five Stars. Great Book! You will enjoy this sweet love story between Bertha Biddie and Thaddeus Bloom. Thaddeus is forced by his father to go away to attend school much to the dismay of Bertha who hopes to win his heart. In her hopes of winning his heart Bertha turns to Annie a new arrival in town who knows how to turn a mans head. Rich in detail and character development, Diamond Duo is a wonderful story that will leave you feeling good. It is an entertaining christian fiction book. - Kim's Reviews,
Five Stars. Best Historical Fiction I have read in a long time - First of all, I enjoyed this story from page one! Seriously, the characters had me from the beginning. I am a reader who does not always expect a book to pull her in from the first word, I am accustomed to being lulled in, but I didn't get a chance to be wooed this story HOOKED ME immediately!!!
I love a good romance, but more than that I love a good story with three dimensional characters and a plot that is believable. This book completely has it all! We meet several characters in this book. I have to say that I enjoyed them all a great deal. It was fun to witness the spectacle of Miss Annie Monroe's arrival through the eyes of young Bertha and her best friend Magda. The stranger inspired awe in many of the town's residents as well as young Bertha.
I fell completely into the lives of Sarah and her husband Henry. Watching Sarah struggle with herself was something I have endured myself. She and her husband were working hard to make a life for themselves. Sometimes it is hard to let go of the old and embrace the new. Watching the couple grow together and be blessed was wonderful. They endured a lot in this short story, and their tale gave me chills more than once.
The story affirmed in my heart the importance of seeing someone through God's eyes, and never giving up the opportunity to show his love. There are a lot of misconceptions in this story that need to be overcome by the characters, but each thread is tied up well by the end with a promise of more adventure to come. I can hardly wait for the next book! Well done, Marcia Gruver!!! - Kelly Slater, review
Five Stars. Terrific Historical Christian Romantic Suspense - Marcia Gruver has penned a thrilling romantic suspense western in Book One of her Texas Fortunes series, "Diamond Duo." Bertha loves Thad and Thad is crazy about Bertha. But neither of them knows it. When Annie arrives in town, Bertha is concerned that Thad's heart will be stolen - along with all of the other men. But when a mystery man follows Annie, and a murder thickens the plot, romance will have to take a back seat to safety. This is a charming, witty, solid romantic suspense story with brilliant writing. I can't wait to read it again so I can actually savor it rather than trying to come up with a review by a deadline. - Stacy, review
Five Stars. Great Historical Novel based on Real Events - I enjoyed this novel very much. I was drawn in to the lives of Bertha and Thad, two young people who loved each other, but had obstacles thrown in their way. I struggled with Sara and Henry as they came to terms with being Christians in a world where people were unfair and sometimes cruel. And I couldn't help but root for Annie even though I knew her life would end tragically. I highly recommend this book. It's a Christian historical with romance, intrigue, suspense, and adventure, and is based on a real event in history. - Tamera Lynn Kraft, Faith Filled Historicals for the Adventurous Heart, review
From South Australia. 4.5 out of 5 for this book. - First of this was a wonderful book. Marcia had me wanting to keep reading and I just loved the sub characters. Bertie Biddle is wonderful in her role and has a real heart for people. There are sub Characters Sarah and Henry King and I found them to be wonderful in fact for me they stole the book to a degree. To start with I wasn't sure what there story was and how it related but it was an integral part of this story. Marcia left me wanting to read more and I cant wait for her next book. If you like historical books with a western feel you will love this book. -

Monday, August 4, 2008

Congratulatons, Elizabeth Ludwig!

For being named IWA! Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writer's Conference. You go Lisa!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Write Stuff

I ran across some thoughts I wrote down after a mission trip to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico with Mission Kids International, an organization that promotes family mission trips. It came at a time when I was making the transition from journalism to writing my first book. And writing was becoming quite an obsession. This trip really put things into perspective.—Linda Kozar

Is it possible that one RV could hold so much stuff? Like a clown car at a circus, I was amazed to see a seemingly infinite supply of food, clothing, luggage, supplies and people poured from it.

Everyone worked hard to do their part and beyond. As a first-timer, I was both worker and witness to this concentrated effort. I didn’t know what to expect when we first arrived, so I focused my efforts on working and praying through each situation or person I came across.

The children at the orphanage seemed lonely and desperate for affection. In a conversation with another volunteer, she commented that the children would, after a long day of work and play, disappear into their living area. A pitch-black series of rooms—dark for lack of light bulbs, the children had to find their beds by feel and crawl into their cots to sleep. Unlike our children, there were no lullabies or stories or tender kisses on the cheek to send them off to blissful rest. Although these children had need of the physical resources supplied by our group and others like us, I realized they needed our love and the love of Christ most of all.

Our day at the Colonias was a busy one! I was assigned to “foot washing.” Neatly gloved with a clean white towel on my shoulder, I began to gently wash the feet of a little boy in a pan of shallow soapy water. He was at first, embarrassed by his dirty shoes and socks and that a woman he didn’t know was washing his equally-dirty feet. I noticed that the skin on his feet and shins was tough, dry and parched. I cleaned his shins as well and wished that I could clean his whole body! Though tense and uncomfortable at first, he began to relax slightly and after I towel-dried and motioned for him to follow me to the turf mat we had set up. I placed the towel down under his feet, squeezed a dollop of lotion into my hands and began to massage his right foot. He looked at me and smiled broadly, two rows of white teeth against the dark skin of his face. When I massaged an area that hurt, he smiled even more. His feet definitely enjoyed the attention!

My oldest daughter, Katie who was also assigned to foot washing, came to sit beside me briefly and watch. Before we left on the mission trip, the two of us were struggling with “teenager issues” and constant arguments. Now she sat beside me and we exchanged glances. We smiled at each other, a knowing smile of realization that this was bigger and far nobler than any petty argument or dispute we had exchanged. When I finished massaging the little boy’s feet he was still smiling. I slipped some clean white socks on his feet and noticed how relaxed his body had become. He left with that broad smile still on his little face.

There were many more children, so many faces, so many feet! And more smiles. But this one little boy remained on my heart more than all the rest. His smile changed my life.
Linda P. Kozar is the co-founder/director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild, the 2007 recipient of ACFW's Mentor of the Year award, and the president of The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW--Writers On The Storm. She's the author of several books, including: Misfortune Cookies--HP Mysteries, 2008; A Tisket, A Casket--HP Mysteries, 2009; Dead As A Doornail--HP Mysteries, 2009; and Babes With A Beatitude--Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You're Invited!

The Meet The Christian Authors Night, on Friday, August 1st, is a mass booksigning featuring three speakers (Susan Titus Osborne, Deb Raney and Terry Burns), 35 authors,
musical entertainment, a Christian jewelry table, silent auction, raffle and refreshments.

Authors in attendance include:

Don M. Aycock, Linda & Steve Bauer, Alison Bottke, Terry Burns, Lena Nelson Dooley, Leanna Ellis, Dorothy Feartherling, Marcia Gruver, Anita Higman, Charlotte Holt, Nancy Jo Jenkins, Eileen Key, Linda Kozar, Jeff LeJeune, Elizabeth Ludwig, Cathy Messecar, DiAnn Mills, Randi Morrow, Janelle Mowery, Kim O'Brien, Susan Titus Osborne, Allison Pittman, Karen Porter, Deb Raney, Jerry Rassamni, Deborah Rather, Martha Rogers, Carla Rossi, Lynette Sowell, Donn Taylor, Janice Thompson, Sharen Watson, Carol Weishampel, Brenda White, Nancy Williams, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and Julie Johnston Zick.

Interviews with authors are available upon request

Monday, July 7, 2008

Party Time!

The ACFW Conference is just a great big bash. A time to hoot and holler, riot and revel, wheedle and wallow with those of like kind. You’ve heard it said numerous times: Nobody gets writers like writers. We share a strange culture, speak the same language. Within this quirky society I’ve found a loving, supportive group of women who’ve become devoted sisters. I met each of them directly or indirectly through the ACFW conference or the ACFW critique groups.

And no wonder. The atmosphere within ACFW is one of fellowship and camaraderie. No one’s a stranger. At my first conference I planted my wallflower roots in a safe corner while trying to take it all in. Suddenly a feisty redhead (waving at Brenda Minton) zoomed in and plucked me. We linked arms and she drew me into her group, making me a part of them for the rest of the day. That same year a soft-spoken, southern belle (blowing a kiss at Kathleen Y’Barbo) handed me her business card and invited me to check out her writer’s group. I went from isolated wallflower to a member of the gang in one incredible day. Amazing!

At conference we meet writers who shine brightly at the top of our field. I know they feel like regular folks, but let’s face it, to us they’re celebrities. We rub shoulders hoping their brilliance will rub off. We get to share smiles, meals, and conversations with the likes of Brandilyn Collins, Francine Rivers, Robin Lee Hatcher, Karen Kingsbury, Karen Ball, James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, and many other talented greats. If any of these people have egos, they check them at the door—except for that guy in the kilt who we’ve all learned to overlook (winking at you-know-who).

My favorite part of conference is the elevator conversations. Last year, we rode up to our rooms with a middle-aged couple who were guests of the Marriott. They stared openly then asked if we were part of the writers group that had converged on the hotel. We grinned and nodded. They seemed so awestruck that for those few minutes until the doors opened, we felt like celebrities, too.

My most memorable elevator conversation happened between Lisa Ludwig and Janelle Mowery who happen to co-author cozy mysteries for Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. Oblivious to their surroundings, they were engrossed in a discussion about the best place to hide the bones of a murder victim. The non-writers sharing the ride up watched them with astonished looks on their faces then rushed from the car as soon as the doors slid open.

The conference experience? Unforgettable.
The chance to fellowship with weirdoes like yourself? Therapeutic.
The elevator conversations? Priceless!

We have a winner!

Using the most cutting edge, hyper-scientific method available (hubby pulled a number out of a hat) we've chosen a winner of Mary Connealy's Calico Canyon Contest!

KELI GWYN, if you'll email Mary at: maryconnealy at and tell her you're the winner (because I said so), she'll mail you a copy of Calico Canyon. It's that easy.

-Be sure and include your mailing address or you might be waiting a really long time.-

Congratulations, you lucky gal!

A big "Thank you!" to everyone who participated.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Calico Canyon and a Contest!

Funny lady Mary Connealy joins us today. And we have a contest!

Just leave Mary a comment anytime today or tomorrow. I'll choose a name at random, and Mary has graciously agreed to send the winner a copy of Calico Canyon, her exciting new release.

I’m the mother of four daughters, no sons. My husband is from a family of seven sons, no daughters. In Petticoat Ranch I felt like I was really writing what I knew. I can bring a lot of authenticity to a novel about a woman with four daughters and a man who’s never been around women.

So it’s time for the sequel, Calico Canyon. What could I do but tell the flip side of the story? Grace Calhoun is a prissy schoolmarm who’s never been around men. She’s forced into a marriage with Daniel Reeves, the father of five sons…her most unruly students. They’re monstrous brats.

Or maybe they’re just boys.

Grace has no idea what boys are supposed to act like, but surely it’s not like these rude, hyperactive, messy little sons she just acquired.

Calico Canyon is written in the same style as Petticoat Ranch but Calico Canyon, though it has suspense elements, is more of a flat out comedy. Those five boys just lent themselves to comedy.

The whole book was tricky because I have no sons. I’ve had exposure to lots of little boys, brothers, classmates, cousins, neighbors, students, nephews. But can I bring honesty to the story?

To bring the authenticity I needed to it I listened a lot to my mother-in-law, Marybelle, the mother of seven sons.

She’s got this great love for her sons but she’s very clear-eyed in her understanding of the behavior of little boys. And Marybelle tells great stories.

I love the story of the time, in response to some article she read, in an effort to make her little sons more sensitive she bought them each a doll. I guess in modern language you might say she was trying to help them get in touch with their feminine side. One of the boys ran the doll around on the floor on its belly making vroom-ing noises. One "rounded up" the doll, found it guilty of heaven knows what and hung it.

You can’t believe the list of stitches resulting from fights and dare devil behavior and general mayhem. One son was hanging by his fingertips from the eaves of her house, one went head first through a window, one backed over the other with a tractor, one swung a hoe back to whack a week and smashed the hoe into his brother’s head. The boys all lived but there are lots of stitches and blood in Marybelle’s stories.

She says she can laugh now, but at the time it wasn’t a bit funny. Like the time one started walking home from the movies. The movie wasn’t close to over. It’s a ten mile walk home. He had to walk across a highway. Marybelle was waiting for him and his four big brothers in the coffee shop next door to the movie. He was four.

She thinks boys are different than girls. It’s hard to convince her it’s all nurture and not nature. But really how hard did she try except for the dolls, huh?

I dedicated Calico Canyon to Marybelle Connealy, my mother-in-law and one of my very favorite people on the planet.

So what do you think? Are boys different than girls? How? How much is nature or nurture?If you have boys and need advice, go ahead and ask. I can’t help you, but I can check with my mother-in-law and get back to you. If you’ve got girl problems, bring it on. I am a master.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Today Janice Thompson, prolific author and gifted speaker, will grace us with her wisdom and spiritual insight. Welcome Janice, to The Yielded Quill!

My life as a writer is unique, in that it's a quiet life, filled with hours of staring at a computer screen. I'm not complaining about that fact. Indeed, I have the best job in the world. I get paid to do what I love and I get to choose my own hours. (What joy!) I can even write in my jammies if I want to! Still, I must confess that solitude is a funny thing. At times I've allowed it to swallow me up and at times I've used it to my advantage.

Solitude. The Bible addresses this concept dozens of times. We're called to be still. . .to know that He is God. We're encouraged to quiet ourselves so that we can better hear His voice. We're given the privilege of sneaking away into a secret place, to crawl into our Daddy God's arms for restoration and refreshing. We're ushered into His holy presence, to experience His power, His anointing, His healing.

But there's another presence that springs from solitude, as well, especially for the Christian writer. We are called by God to impact our world. . .to literally become a holy "presence" in our circle of influence. I've been chewing on this idea. I want to reach the masses with my stories, but I'm convinced I won't effectively reach even one if I don't take time to slow down and take advantage of the solitude. In order to be a holy presence, I must spend more time in His holy presence. If I don't, it will show in my work. My words will be lifeless, bland. They will simply be black ink on white paper. They won't changes lives. Oh, and how I want to change lives! My heart erupts with joy at the very idea that one of my books could be used to nudge someone closer to the Lord!

So, how about you? Are you bathing yourself in His presence? Are you asking Him to help you reach others through your writing. . .to become a real "presence" in your world? For the Christian writer, these two will forever be linked.

The formula is simple: Time in His holy presence = becoming a holy "presence"

Chew on it. . .then slip away to that secret place.

Check out Janice's blog, Double Booked, for book reviews, interviews, information about new novels, Christian books, new authors, established authors and contests galore. You can also find her hanging out at the Internal Monoblog, a site where you will learn what makes female writers tick. Or visit her website at:
______________________________________________________________________ Janice Thompson has written over thirty novels and non-fiction books. Her published works include: Duty To Die, A Class Of Her Own, Angel Incognito, A Chorus Of One, Sweet Charity, Hurricane, Parenting Teens: A Field Guide, Banking On Love, I Must Decrease, The Wedding Caper, Larkspur Dreams (co-authored with Anita Higman), Sugar And Grits, Gone With The Groom, Red Like Crimson, Texas Weddings, The Love Song: (co-authored with Anita Higman), Bride to Be (a devotional for brides to be): co-authored with my daughter, Randi Morrow, Mommy to Be (a devotional for moms to be): co-authored with my daughter, Randi Morrow, White As Snow, Castles in the Air: (co-authored with Anita Higman), Minding My Own Business (novelette), Out of the Blue, Pushing Up Daisies, Spring Creek Bride, Salt Water Taffie, The Perfect Match

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Divine Appointments?

We're joined today by Jessica Ferguson, the host of Praise, Prayers and Observations - and the erudite guru of all things writing. Welcome Jess!

If God knows and cares about each hair on our head, doesn’t it stand to reason that He cares about our writing? I know He does. We might laugh about divine appointments when it comes to meetings with agents and editors at conferences, but honestly, God cares about our appointments too. He makes things happen in His own way, in His own time. I have no doubt He knows exactly where our manuscripts will end up and when.

At one conference I attended, God told me I would be wasting my time when I met with a particular agent. No, He didn’t say it in a loud booming voice. I heard Him deep down in my gut. Give that appointment to someone else. That's not the agent for you. I didn't listen. Even though I’d been disappointed in that agent’s response during the agent's panel, I still didn’t listen to God. I can use pitching practice, I rationalized.

When God tells us loudly and clearly what He wants us to do, He means it. His orders are for our own good. He has a plan. When am I going to learn that?

I kept the appointment. I sat across from said agent and we clashed from the get-go. I came away from my fifteen minutes feeling battered and bruised, and less like a writer than ever before. Today, I still wonder who God wanted me to give that appointment to. I wish I’d listened to Him.

At another conference, my critique partners and I discussed how we planned to approach each editor and agent. One crit partner learned the editor of her choice wasn't accepting historicals so she kindly, generously, (obediently?) gave her slot to me. Today, my completed manuscript is on that editor’s desk.

Lesson here: Listen to God. It’s a given that when you get to the conference, you’ll want to change your plans because of what you hear and who you meet. If you’re in tune with God, paying attention to Him instead of focusing on your own plans (the way I did), you’ll be ahead in this publishing game. Our Almighty Father in Heaven has a plan for each word we write and each word we utter. And yes, He can continue with His plan in spite of our mistakes, but will He? I urge each of you to make it easy on yourself: Listen to God when you get to that conference. He’ll direct your steps to the editor, agent and publisher of His choice.

Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble. Psalm 119:165

I won’t make a conference this year, but I pray each of you listen to God and have abundant peace as you sit in your appointments and pitch your manuscripts.
Jess is the author of The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes w/a Jessica Travis. She's also published in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul, Daily Devotions for Writers and a number of regional magazines and newspapers. Jess has a heart for encouraging other writers.

Visit Jess at Praise, Prayers and Observations, her informative and entertaining blog.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Taking Flight

Guest blogger Janelle Mowery, welcome to the Yielded Quill!

I love attending conferences. They’re like a culmination of all the hard work I’ve put into my writing. Okay, scratch that. A CONTRACT is the culmination. Conferences are the reward I give myself for all my hard work. I also love object lessons, so I tried to come up with a visual aid that might come close to explaining my feelings for the whole publishing realm and the place conferences hold in that vast territory. Sorry, but a kite was the best I could do.

Kites were made to fly. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and designs, but they’re all made to do the same thing…get up there where the wind will help them fulfill their goal. The way they whirl around in the sky, they almost paint a picture. Most kites have tails. Some are longer than others but they still serve the same purpose. What might that purpose be? Well, a tail helps the kite fly through the air. It changes how the wind moves around the kite, keeps the kite pointed into the air, and gives it balance. Without a tail, a kite likes to roll and dive…and crash. Did you also know that without the attached tethering string, the kite, no matter how big or bright, is nearly worthless?

Writers are very much like kites. We love to soar. We also paint pictures…with words. And we have tales. Oh, do we have tales. Some are longer than others, some a bit more colorful, but if you think about it, our tales serve the same purpose. I’m not talking about the stories we create. The tales I refer to are the stories we have, the steps we’ve taken, on our journey to publication. I have several. Most have taken place at ACFW conferences.

Let’s see, I can recall my bunkmate telling me to stop practicing my pitch and go to sleep, then during the night silently screaming for me to wake up. I remember two authors who became highlights of conferences because of their encouragement, one telling me my writing was already publishable and the other cheering me on and working me up into such confidence I’m fairly certain the editor wanted to run for dear life from the wild-eyed writer sitting in front of her. And the friendships. Oh, the friendships, both new and old. I have so many wonderful memories of both. But most of all, I can clearly see the steps God took me through to get me to where I am now, a published author. Never forget to examine your tails/tales. They’ll keep you pointed into the air, moving around and changing directions, and give you a sense of balance when the rest of the world seems off kilter. As my co-author and good friend Lisa Ludwig does such a good job of reminding us, don’t be so focused on the goal that you forget to enjoy the journey.

But let me end with the most important part of the kite…the string. Without it we’d go flying off to who knows where and most likely, our journey would be cut short as we get hung up in a tree or highline wires, or worse, crash to the ground, all with the possibility of never flying again. As writers, we need to make God our string. He’s the One Who keeps us tethered with just the right amount of tension as we fly toward our goals. He steers us away from power lines and tree limbs. He can straighten us out when we begin to fly erratically across the sea of publication. Hold onto that string just as tightly as God holds onto us. He will keep us anchored as we soar. ___________________________________________________________________
Janelle Mowery is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an active member of an ACFW critique group. She signed her first contract with Barbour Publishing in their Heartsong Presents Mysteries! line in 2006. WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, a cozy mystery co-authored with Elizabeth Ludwig, released in the spring of 2008.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recommended Reading...and Free Books!

This week The Yielded Quill is pleased to have Susan Sleeman, author, reviewer, and host of The Suspense Zone:

Are you an aspiring writer or even a multi-published author? If so, you’ve no doubt heard that one of the best ways to develop writing skills is to read, read, read. I don’t know who said it first, but as you browse interviews with successful novelists they often recommend reading as a way to grow in your writing. This seems straightforward, doesn’t it? Not only can you polish your writing skills from reading good fiction, but you can also find out what editors are buying by reading the books they publish.

So where can you find a list of first-class books in your genre? Why not start with this year’s Christy Award nominees? For the past seven years, excellence in Christian fiction of a variety of genres has been recognized with The Christy Award. Named after Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, and for her contribution to growth of the fiction Christians love to read, this award is synonymous with quality fiction.

Each year, Christian publishing houses submit novels to the committee for consideration. The books are placed in categories and are then read and evaluated against a ten point criteria by a panel of seven judges. The judges come from a variety of areas including librarians, reviewers, academicians, literary critics, and other qualified readers, None of these judges have any affiliation with the publishers. When judging is complete, the top three ranked books in each category are announced as finalists. Later in the year, an awards banquet is held where the winners are announced. The 2008 award will be held in Orlando, Florida on July 12th.

So why not check out these special books. I’ve listed the 2008 finalists below, but you can find finalists and winners for the last seven years at The Christy Award website, And in celebration of this year’s award, I am giving away copies of eight of the nominated books at my website, The Christian Suspense Zone, , in a contest that ends on July 15th. The books I am giving away are noted below in bold type.

So what are you waiting for? Stop by The Suspense Zone to enter to win a copy from me or go out and purchase your own copies. Either way you won’t be disappointed.

2008 Christy Award Nominees:

CONTEMPORARY (Stand Alone) -

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)
In High Places by Tom Morrisey (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)

CONTEMPORARY (Series, Sequels and Novellas) -

Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Viking Penguin)
A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley (Thomas Nelson)
What Lies Within by Karen Ball (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)


Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

LITS (tie) -

Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Hunt (Tyndale House Publishers)
Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Kregel Publications)
Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck (Avon Inspire, a division of HarperCollins Publishers)


Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour Publishing)
Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney (Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster)
Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


The Cure by Athol Dickson (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group) My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay (Moody Publishers)
The Pawn by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress Publishing Group)
Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress Publishing Group)
The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (NavPress Publishing Group)
In Between by Jenny B. Jones (NavPress Publishing Group)
Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman (NavPress Publishing Group)
Susan Sleeman is passionate about Christian Suspense both as a reader and a writer. Susan is the author of seven Christian Suspense novels and she looks forward to the day her agent finds a publishing home for her work.

Click on the link below to enter The Suspense Zone:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Conference Planning…otherwise known as Stratego

The Yielded Quill welcomes guest blogger, Elizabeth Ludwig:

Remember that old, world domination game, Stratego? My husband used to love that game. He cheated, of course. I never could beat him. It did teach me some valuable lessons about preparing for writer’s conferences, however, a skill for which I’m eternally grateful…

Okay, so that was lame.

Still, there’s a lot to be learned from taking over the world—sketching out a plan of attack, for example, or utilizing your forces in a way that maximizes impact. And let’s not forget targeting your enemy and striking while they’re weak.

Armed with these tools, I attended my first writer’s conference in Houston, Texas, in 2003. You may remember me. I was the one skulking around like a CIA agent on a covert op trying to land all the best appointments.


Oh, what I’ve learned since then. Sitting at a table with Janelle Mowery, Lyn Coleman, and several others at another conference several years later, I summed it up this way:

“I thought I was ready to be published when I attended my first conference. I was certain of it. I’d written several novels, joined a critique group, read books on writing…I was READY.

By the time I attended my second conference, I knew better. Thankfully, I’d learned a lot in the months that followed, so by the time my second conference rolled around, I thought, okay, maybe I wasn’t ready last year, but NOW I’m ready to be published.

This is my third conference, and you know what? I have no idea if I’m ready to be published. I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands and hope for the best.”

While that garnered a laugh, it really was the truth. Yes, I was still learning. Yes, I was still networking. And yes, finally, I was relying fully and solely on God. What a difference that made in my attitude, and in my overall conference experience. No longer was I skulking in hallways or lurking around elevator doors, waiting to ambush some poor, unsuspecting editor. Instead, I looked for ways to make others feel comfortable. I sought out those whose earnest faces showed their anxiety and pain. In other words, I made friends instead of contacts. I scheduled prayer times instead of appointments. I visited over dinner, instead of strategizing.

I’m going to my sixth writer’s conference this year. Already I’m planning what I will pack, things like business cards, proposal packets, and pitch sheets.

The world domination plan? That I’m leaving at home.

Look for Where the Truth Lies, Heartsong Presents: MYSTERIES! by Elizabeth Ludwig, co-authored with Janelle Mowery.

Casey Alexander refuses to believe her aunt committed suicide. Her personal investigation makes some people uncomfortable enough to want her dead. As the main suspect in Casey's quest, Luke Kerrigan does some searching of his own. What he finds has him doing a little more digging that leads him to doors he may not want opened. The secrets unearthed will turn lives upside down and threaten the peace in their small community.

Coming Soon from Elizabeth Ludwig and Janelle Mowery: Spring 2009 - Died in the Wool - Heartsong Presents: MYSTERIES!

Monah Trenary takes great pride in how she runs the public library, touting it as a quiet place of learning and discovery. But that peace is shattered when she discovers the body of high school English teacher Charlotte Tait in the ladies restroom, and the people of Pine Mills Massachusetts learn they once again harbor a murderer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Welcome, Guest Blogger!

The Yielded Quill spotlights cozy mystery author Sandra Robbins:

Conferences—What Can They Do For Me?

Every time a published author is asked to give advice to writers on how to attract the attention of an agent or an editor, it seems one suggestion is always mentioned—attend writing conferences. In fact I often give that answer myself.

For new writers, attending a conference is a way of meeting other people who have the same hopes and dreams that you do. Some of your best learning experiences may come from sitting around the hotel lobby with a bunch of people who share your desire to write and finding out about their struggles and how they overcame them.

For those who have been writing a long time, a conference may mean a time of renewal—of seeing old friends and discussing your respective successes or disasters. Whatever your needs may be, however, the right conference can be just what you need to kick your writing career into a new phase as you bring back all that you learned.

I discovered early on the best way to approach a conference is to go expecting nothing and wait to see what God does. You may leave with a new idea from a workshop you think will work for you, or you may leave with a network of friends you didn’t have before, or you may go home to your family with a resolve to show them how God works in your life. Whatever it is, be thankful for it.

At my first ACFW conference, I came away excited because an editor had asked for my proposal, but it didn’t work out for that one to be published. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that God had steered me to a new friend there. Some months later when she was made an editor, she bought my first book.

So my advice is this—don’t go to a conference expecting great things to happen there. Make the most of the workshops, chat sessions, and editor and agent meetings, but never lose sight of the fact that God is in control. The seeds that were planted at that conference may not be ready for harvest until much later. Leave it up to God’s timing. Get out of His way, and He’ll take you where you never dreamed you could go. _______________________________________________________________________
Sandra Robbins’ book Pedigreed Bloodlines recently released in the Heartsong Presents Mysteries from Barbour Publishing. The second one in the series Murder in Small Doses will released next year.

Chasing Charity

Chasing Charity (ISBN 978-1-60260-206-9), book two in my Texas Fortunes Trilogy, is becoming a reality. Barbour Publishing has scheduled it for release in April 2009. I just received the cover and wanted to share. I'm very proud of the job Barbour has done with Diamond Duo and Chasing Charity, and I can't wait to see what's coming for Emmy's Equal.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Cover! Nuff Said.

Barbour Publishing has released the cover of DIAMOND DUO (ISBN 978-1-60260-205-2), scheduled for release October 2008. Diamond Duo is the first installment of my Texas Fortunes Series. They did a phenomenal job for me. I'm so proud. sniff!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Deadline Diva Indeed

Kathleen Y'Barbo, author, publicist, mentor, critique partner, and dear friend used the coolest phrase the other day. I'm not sure if she coined the the term or heard it somewhere, but I swooned at the glamorous image the words conjured.

"Deadline Diva." Sigh.

"That's me," I crowed, since I recently signed my first contract with my very own deadline tucked inside.

I had it all planned. My calendar chart pinned up (in my mind at least) with my minimum daily word count, my critique submission schedule, one day of the week set aside to edit, and another set aside to rest.

I'd have my masterpiece rolled off the assembly line and shipped to my editor with time left over to rest before whipping out book two in the series.

Well, guess what. Deadline Divas exist in the same world where life is fair and authors make loads of money.

Where reality lives a deadline means late nights, early mornings, a dirty house, neglected spouse, missed appointments, unwalked dogs, broken promises, unanswered phones, unanswered email, fast food, frozen dinners, visible roots in stringy hair, no social life, no fun, stiff joints and a dead behind.

Oh yeah. And ten extra pounds.

Okay, twenty.

Today I stared at my frightening reflection in the mirror and wondered who I was. Hardly my former idea of a Deadline Diva!

I leaned close and asked myself: "You really wanted this?"

Myself grinned back like a demented Cheshire cat and answered: "Honey, I was born to it."

Now that's a real Deadline Diva.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

TRICIA GOYER & Sanctity of Life Week

This week I'm featuring Tricia Goyer as sort of a guest blogger on my site. Tricia is the talented author of first-rate fiction and life-changing nonfiction. I witnessed Tricia's dedication and commitment in person when I had the opportunity to sit in on a class she taught at the 2007 ACFW Conference, so I proudly endorse any endeavor she sets her hands to.


How Babies Have Replaced Bling as the Cool Fashion Accessory and Why You Need to Know What to Do if Your Friend Buys Into This

There's a baby boom in Tinsel Town, and many of its biggest stars are taking part. Already this month, singer Christina Aguilera and her husband welcomed a son, and Nicole Richie, girlfriend of rocker Benjie Madden, gave birth to a daughter. Others are mamas-in-waiting, proudly showing their expanding bellies and giving interviews on when their engagement may take place. Still others allow the media to guess who the father might be.

Popular magazines cover every moment of their pregnancies and likely would have sent reporters into the delivery room if allowed. Designer diaper bags have replaced designer purses as the cool new Hollywood accessory. Baby showers take precedence over wedding showers, and the wedding does not necessarily come before the birth.

It all looks so glamorous and exciting. Who wouldn't want a beautiful bundle of joy to lavish love and kisses on? And yet, sometimes that bundle arrives under circumstances that are not God's best. Take, for example, Jamie Lynn Spears. One moment she was a squeaky-clean teen television sensation and star of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101. The next, she's in the news not for her acting but for being a pregnant teenager. With one decision, her reputation is now in shreds and her television show is under the threat of cancellation. One decision; huge dilemma.

This week is Sanctity of Life week. And because of the Hollywood Mama Drama, it is also a perfect time to understand that mama drama doesn't only happen in Hollywood. Every year nearly 1 million teen girls find themselves pregnant, and unlike Hollywood stars who have the money and fame to carry them, these girls wonder what they should do. Many choose abortion, and because of this they not only sacrifice the life of their child, but this decision also brings heartache they must carry for the rest of their lives. Perhaps YOU can be the one who can make a difference.

Who was the first one Jamie Lynn Spears turned to when she found out she was pregnant? Not her mom. Not her sister. She turned to a friend. What if you were that friend?

As a teen what can YOU do when a pregnant friend comes to you for advice?

Remain calm and loving. Your friend most likely feels alone, frightened and extremely sensitive about her pregnancy. The most important thing you can offer is your continued friendship.
Show God's love and forgiveness. Your friend may have been looking for love by giving herself intimately to a guy. Now she might feel ashamed and unworthy of love at all. Point her to God, who loves her unconditionally.
Celebrate life. She may consider this baby a "mistake"--a barrier between her and "normal" life. Lovingly remind her that no matter how the baby was conceived, he or she is a gift from God.

Be available to share ... and to listen. Your friend has big decisions to make, and although you can't make those decisions for her, you can be available to help her consider her options. Share information you've discovered on fetal development and on the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. Most of all, be willing to listen to your friend's deepest concerns.
Find help. Your friend is most likely in need of more answers than you can give. Visit a local crisis pregnancy center with your friend, or call CareNet for help at 1-800-395-HELP. Encourage her to tell her parents and to seek the counsel of a pastor or youth pastor.
Partner with her to make better decisions in the future. My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is a book for teen girls and encourages teens to script their lives instead of being caught up in the drama and emotions of the moment. Read it together. Talk about the importance of making good choices.Give her a book to help her face her unique issues, such as Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being Young Mom (Zondervan).

Of course teen pregnancy isn't the only drama young women face. If you or someone you know has made a positive decision as a teen, Tricia Goyer wants to hear about it.

***Video Contest for teens. Watch the video for the contest here! Here's the scoop! Attention TEENS! Want to win an iPod? Yeah, me too! (Just kidding.) Tricia Goyer, author of the teen non-fiction book My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is hosting a video trailer contest! My Life, Unscripted uses the metaphor of screen writing to challenge young women to "script" your lives, rather than be blown along by the next emotional drama or temptation! (Been there, done that!) You could be one of three lucky contestants to win an iPod! All you have to do is make a short (or not-so-short) video trailer sharing concepts shared in the book: My Life, Unscripted ... such as: how you've overcome temptation, or survived peer-pressure, or dumped the Loser boyfriend, or restored a relationship with your parents, or found your strength in Christ! Be creative ...interview your friends (or even better, make them wear dorky costumes) and add some cool music. Then just post it on GodTube (video must be approved by GodTube before it is broadcasted, which takes a few hours) or YouTube! You also must include three things in your video:1) the book title: My Life, Unscripted2) the author: Tricia Goyer3) and these words: "Check it out!" After you finish the video, email your name, age, video link, and your address to: bookmarketing@triciagoyer.comThe winning videos will be the top three with the most views as counted on GodTube or YouTube on March 31, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. This contest is open to young women ages 13-19. So go ahead, tell your friends, your teachers, your youth leaders ... and your parents friends to check it out!

***Videos with inappropriate content as decided by Tricia Goyer will be disqualified (G-rated please). For your best chance to win, only upload videos to either GodTube or YouTube. Choose one. We will not add totals from more than one site together.

Three winners will receive an iPod Nano 4G.

Tricia Goyer writes articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family and is a columnist for teen moms through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International: ( more information, go to:

My Bookshelf

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