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.

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