Pages

Monday, December 24, 2012

O Holy Night, indeed!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
 
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
 
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim
!
 
Let us never forget the reason for the season.
Merry Christmas!!
 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Stories: The Christmas Candle

It's the Christmas season and time to enjoy another Christmas novella crafted by Mary Connealy. Featured in the 2 for 1 novella collection, Candlelight Christmas, along with Linda Goodnight, The Christmas Candle is a story of grief and healing perfect for this holiday season. In The Christmas Candle, we meet Rose Palmer who buries her life in her work, growing herbs for the perfect scented candle. Though she seems dedicated, there's an underlying fear of change that makes her dedication equate with isolation. And that isolation is busted wide open when a pair of boys tumble into her life.

No matter how much she protests, Rose's heart is warmed by the boys and their overprotective father. With the help of the Christmas Candle, the hurting hearts of those in need receive the most beautiful Christmas miracle of all.

As always, Mary Connealy pens a fast paced story filled with characters who don't realize they can't always do it all themselves. Unfortunately, asking for help is not even a thought, much less 'said and done.' In true Connealy style, The Christmas Candle thaws even the most frozen hearts and lets the warmth of faith and trust flow in. I loved this sweet novella and know you will, too.






Arkansas Ozarks 1883
Gabe Wagner, has left his hectic city life and moved onto Rose Palmer’s mountain. His plans to build a house will tear the heart out of her Ozark Mountain home. Rose learns that what she calls peace and quiet has evolved into isolation and loneliness. As Christmas approaches and she searches for the perfect way to honor the Savior’s birth, she realizes she wants to let Gabe into her life. But to do it, she may have to face a larger world that frightens her while she gives up the safe life she has always known.

Can the search for the perfect Christmas candle and the broken hearts of two little boys bring a solitary woman and a grieving man together?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Victorian Christmas Traditions - The Christmas Tree

A Christmas Tree

I have been looking at a merry company of children assembled round that pretty German toy, a Christmas Tree. The tree was planted in the middle of a great round table, and towered high above their heads. It was brillantly lighted by a multitude of little tapers; and everywhere sparkled and glittered with bright objects. There were rosy-cheeked dolls, hiding behind the green leaves; and...sugar-plums; there were trinkets for the elder girls, far brighter than any grown-up gold and jewels...there were teetotums, humming tops, needle-cases, pen-wipers...real fruit, made artificially dazzling with gold leaf; imitation apples, pears, and walnuts, crammed with surprises; in short, as a pretty child, before me, delightedly whisped to another pretty child, her bosom friend, "There was everything and more."

-Charles Dickens, Household Word






We have the Victorians to thank for so many of the celebrations and customs we enjoy at Christmas. They revived old traditions, such as caroling, and invented new ones such as sending Christmas cards.

The Victorians made church-going, gift-giving, and charity to the poor essential parts of the holiday. During this time Father Christmas and Santa Claus became symbols of holiday generosity. Through Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert, German customs grew in popularity, especially the Christmas tree or Christbaum.


A photo of Queen Victoria near a decorated Christmas tree surrounded by her family sparked a tree-trimming inspiration in Victorian homes. The German custom of decorating Christmas trees atop tables gained a new perspective when Victorians selected taller trees from trimming on the floor in their homes. They adorned their evergreen treasures with flickering candles, fancy paper Santas, glistening angels, chocolate wreaths, gilded apples, silver cornucopias decorated with tinsel tassels, and dozens of other beautiful, often hand-made, ornaments.

Most of all, the Victorians made Christmas a family celebration-- the Christ Child and children its primary focus. A Victorian Christmas included the exchange of gifts between parents and children; attendance together at Church services; a multi-course family dinner; and visits with friends, relatives, and other families.

In my opinion, this is the perfect Christmas celebration. How about you?


Saturday, December 08, 2012

Saturday Stories: A Light In The Window

 
Julie Lessman has done it again. No matter who publishes her work, you always know when the author cited is "Julie Lessman" you will NOT be disappointed. Her newest release, A Light In The Window is a Christmas love story destined to become a classic.

Julie offers her readers a warm, loving Christmas story--one that serves dual purposes:
  • Capturing the true essence of Christ's love for us when we completely surrender ourselves to Him;
  • and we finally have the love story that started the entire O'Connor clan phenomenon in the Daughters of Boston series, and continuing in the Winds of Change series.

In the finest of her signature "Gone With The Wind" style, Julie Lessman takes the common theme of two men after one girl and weaves so many twists and turns in the love story, your heart can't help but hurt and cheer for every one of her characters.

Lessman has that unique knack of infusing God's love into her characters. God's deep love. A love that passes all understanding. It brings joy, tears, passion and difficult choices into that sparkling light that makes us remember that God does NOTHING half way.

Squeeze in the time to read A Light In The Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story this Christmas season. You won't be disappointed.

Product Details
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.

While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Victorian Christmas Traditions - Stir Up Sunday


Christmas in Victorian England would not be complete without the making of the Christmas Pudding. This became such an important part of the Christmas celebration, it earned a distinction of its own on the Church calendar.
 
The last Sunday of the Church year, the Sunday before Advent, is often called “Stir Up Sunday.”

Stir Up Sunday is the traditional day everyone takes a turn stirring the Christmas Pudding while making a wish. Before the convenience of picking up dessert at the local store, this treat was made at home a month before Christmas in order to let the flavors all blend.

On Stir Up Sunday, families would return from Church and give the Pudding a lucky stir. The Pudding was stirred from East to West in following the tradition of the journey the Wise Men took to see the baby Jesus. While stirring the pudding, each family member would make a wish.

 The name Stir Up Sunday comes from the opening words of the Collect for the day during the Church service. Taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1549 and later), the Collect is the prayer that “collects” all the themes of the readings of the day into one prayer. After Communion, the traditional Collect for the Day on Stir Up Sunday in the Church of England:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 On the way home from church, the children can often be heard reciting the rhyme:
Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot;
And when we get home, we’ll eat the lot.
This is the translation of the Collect the children gleaned : )
The tradition of the Christmas Pudding includes (but not limited to):

·         A Christmas Pudding is traditionally made with 13 ingredients representing Jesus and the 12 Disciples

·         The pudding is always stirred from East to West to honor the Wise Men who journeyed to see the baby Jesus.

·         Every member of the family stirs the pudding and makes a wish.

·         A coin was added to the ingredients and cooked in the pudding. It was thought to bring wealth to the person who found it on their plate on Christmas Day. Other symbols added to the pudding included a ring to foretell a marriage, or a thimble of good luck.


Check back this weekend. I’m off to scout out a recipe for a fantastic Christmas Pudding!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Victorian Christmas Traditions - Christmas Cards


One of the first signs of Christmas was the arrival of the Christmas card in the post. In 1843 Henry Cole commissioned an artist to design a card for Christmas. The illustration showed a group of people around a dinner table and a Christmas message. Only 1000 cards were printed that first year and were expensive, but the pattern for the future was formed. At one shilling each, these were pricey for ordinary Victorians and so were not immediately accessible. However the sentiment caught on and many children - Queen Victoria's included – were encouraged to make their own Christmas cards.
In 1870, postage was reduced to one half penny per ounce and a cheaper color lithography was used for printing. Thus began the real spread of the Christmas card. By the 1880s the sending of cards had become hugely popular, creating a lucrative industry that produced 11.5 million cards in 1880 alone. By the early 1870s, the custom had reached the United States. At first, designs were simple, but as technology advanced, new subjects evolved. By the 1860s, popular designs were Christmas feasts, church bells, snowbound mail-coaches and turkey and plum puddings.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Victorian Christmas Traditions - History

The Christmas holiday is my favorite time of year. Though the days are usually long and hectic, at night our home becomes a haven of comfort against the crowds. Soft scented candles and twinkling lights decorate our living and family rooms and make the evenings cozy, especially when I find a sappy holiday movie on TV. For some reason, I’ve finished all my shopping early this year, so I even have time to bake at night, adding the sweet smell of toasted almond cookies to the holiday atmosphere.

This idyllic scene does not happen every year. I’m taking full advantage of the serenity.

I mentioned in earlier posts that I’m rewriting my historical romance novels and one of the major changes I’m making is the time period. Originally written for a Regency setting, I’ve since decided my characters are better suited for the Victorian period of British history. So many innovations came into play during the Victorian era, I felt my Gypsy characters hindered by the rigors of Regency mores. They now enjoy the modicum of freedom the 1850’s offer.

This includes the renewed celebrations of Christmas.

Although Christ's Nativity has been celebrated since the 4th century, many of the English customs we are familiar with today are only as recent as the mid-19th century. Many early ceremonies find their roots in pagan beliefs, and some customs, like wassailing, still survive. Carols such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Here We Come a Wassailing”-- dating back to sixteenth century England -- were sung as peasants went door to door during the Yuletide season. In the spirit of English tradition, wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats such as “figgy pudding” to the carolers on Christmas Eve.

There is also the Orchard-Visiting Wassailing. The western counties of England such as Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire are particularly known for their cider-producing orchards. In this region, wassailing refers to drinking and singing to the health of trees, encouraging them to thrive and produce fruitful harvests.

Customs changed radically when the Protestant Reformation hit the scene. Pagan customs were condemned as superstitious and public celebrations of Christmas were banned. The Puritans abolished all celebrations. Excitement and joy in the holiday declined even into the Georgian Era. It wasn't until Prince Albert married Queen Victoria and brought many German customs with him that Christmas began to gain popularity again.

During this holiday season I’d like to share my research of the reawakening of the beautiful customs of Christmas. We owe thanks to the Victorian Era for many innovations and discoverings, but I'm most thankful for the return of Christmas celebrations!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Fun in Seekerville

Take a glimpse at the wonderful month ahead in Seekerville. You'll enjoy posts by the regulars - The Seekers, of course - and also all our terrific guests! Check it out. There's nothing better than food, friendship and fun over the holidays...you'll find them all in Seekerville!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you all my friends and family for being a part of my life. God places each person in everyone's life for a purpose, so it's no accident our paths have crossed. I am so thankful for the blessings I've enjoyed, I could go on forever in listing them.
 
But I'll only state the top five : )
 
Thank you, Lord for the blessing of my husband. Gary is a Godly man who makes this journey through life fun and exciting.
 
Thank you, Lord for my children. You have instilled in Kara a strong sense of right and wrong - and as always, it is up to her to determine which path to chose. She is a unique blend of ornery, sweet and mischievious, and life is never boring with her around. In Bud, you've infused a deep understanding of watch and wait. His desire to learn and then put that knowledge into action is a wonder to behold.
 
Thank you, Lord for the loving home you've carved out for us in the heart of Colorado. The memories created and those still to come are and will be cherished forever.
 
Thank you, Lord for the freedom our country has fought to attain and continues to protect with brave men and women in our armed forces. Bless their labors and protect them as you provide constant comfort and peace for the families who love and miss them.
 
And most of all, thank you, Lord for Your love for us. May we always strive to spread your holy Word throughout the world.
 
Bless all the authors and their stories - may our words spread Your Word.
 
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Make Cover Art Work For You

Vince Mooney shares his years of marketing expertise in an insightful and provoking way. His examples shine light on issues authors face not only in cover art, but promoting their work.


 "Why Cover Art and Advertising Headlines Have The Same Missions" 
 
*The Three Missions of Headlines and Book Cover Art
* Finding Out Who Your Best Prospects Are
* Important Advertising Misconceptions Indie Publishers Need to Know
*The Importance of ‘Promise’ & ‘Benefits” in Cover Art
*Examples of Cover Art: the Hows and Whys of Doing it Right
Have questions on Cover Art? Get answers from the expert.
 
My Story, My Way
 
 
Join Vince at My Story, My Way today and find out how to make your book cover one of your most useful promotions.
 
Indie authors, take advantage of this opportunity to make your books stand out in a crowded market!
 
Vince Mooney has taught Philosophy, Advertising, Property Management, and many real estate subjects at the University, Community College, and Technical School level. Trained as a philosopher and history teacher, he has worked mostly in advertising, marketing, and real estate, and is currently writing a non-fiction book on the Romance genre.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Just a little romance

Join me in Seekerville today where my special guest, Melanie Dickerson, helps us understand the romance behind the romance. She'll be giving away 3 copies of winners' choice of her books.




Sophie has long wished to get away from her stepmother’s jealous anger, and begins planning her escape. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother. This could be her chance at freedom and happiness—but can she trust him?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: he is having feelings for the orphan girl, his brother’s betrothed. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he vows he will keep her safe, no matter what.

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
Available December 2012 from Zondervan
 

Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist, and her second YA novel, The Merchant’s Daughter, recently won the ACFW Carol Award. She is a graduate of The University Alabama and has taught special education at nearly every grade level, elementary to high school, and taught conversational English to college professors in Ukraine. She now lives near Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband and two daughters. Please visit her on her website, www.MelanieDickerson.com and friend her on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/melanie.dickerson.author and “Like” her facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks. Follow her on Twitter as melanieauthor and she promises to follow you back!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Victorian Halloween

"Vintage Images courtesy of FreeVintageImages.com".


The Halloween tradition dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) 2,000 years ago. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, a day that marked the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark winter months. They believed that on the night before the new year, the worlds of the living and the dead came together, and on the night of October 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

The celebration of Halloween has withstood the test of time, conforming to the traditions and rituals of many eras, each adding their own unique touch to the spooky, scary,celebration. The Victorian age, teetering on the precept of ancient rituals and modern innovations, added a rich, imaginative flavor to the already frightful night.  

Harvest Festivals and Halloween were celebrated, especially in farming communities, giving families and friends a chance to celebrate their hard work and successes over the past months. Having survived a harsh and difficult growing season, communities gathered together to feast and share a bit of excitment in the telling of ghost stories.

Gothic tendencies ran deep during the Victorian era. The great novels such as Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" remain alive and well and open to recreation and interpretation even this many years later. Imagine the ambiance of sitting around a fire and telling ghost stories, the rustle of autumn leaves and twigs mixed with the occasional gust of chilling wind. Scary stuff compared to movies we watch on our televisions within the warmth and safety of our homes.

It is thought that trick or treating is an American tradition, but really, its roots tap into English tradition associated with All Souls' Day and the parades that were held. The poor would beg for food and pastries during the parades. Folks would give them cakes referred to as "soul cakes" because in return for food, the people would ask the poor and needy to pray for the souls of relatives who had died. This practice became known as "going a-souling." Eventually, it became a children's tradition to go a-souling in the community for money, food or anything else the giver handed out to the poor.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Journey of Dreams

I’ve now announced to the world that I plan to launch my British Victorian Romance series, Lost Causes, as an Indie author. An Indie author. Wow, it feels spooky just saying those words. But, it’s the path I’ve chosen after consulting with my Almighty Advisor. Just knowing the peace that flowed over me when I nodded yes to the concept is worth all the uncertainty I know I’ll experience along the way.

Let me give you a little background on why writing this series of Inspirational Romance is so important to me.

As a lot of you know, my parents immigrated to the United States from Lithuania during WWII. Very disturbing time; very culturally impacting. My parents did not know each other as their families fled the Russian occupation by different routes that eventually led them to a Lithuanian community on the South side of Chicago. It isn’t so much the end of the journey that I concentrate on, it’s the adventure along the way.

Over the course of many, many years, my mother shared slips of stories of her escape from Lithuania. These were rugged and fearful times, and for months on end, she and her older sister had only their faith and the kindness of strangers along the way to lead them to new lives in America.

My mother, though timid and reticent in her older years, embraced a fierce will of survival that only desperation can bring. Can you imagine a pair of teenage girls literally running through the battle weary countries of Prussia, Poland, Germany, Belgium to make it to their goal destination of England?

They made it : )

Though much of their perilous journey was never shared with me, their joy of reaching England and subsequent months of adventures about the countryside before being shipped to America made for hours of reminiscent storytelling and filled me with a nostalgic spirit inspired by their courage.

My series, Lost Causes, is the product of those snippets of stories taking root in my fertile imagination. For decades, they’ve been mulched with curiosity and watered with dreams. My mother was labeled a “displaced person.” She hated the stigma. She thought no one cared for her. She had no home, no country, nowhere to belong, until the grace of God led her across the ocean to a community determined to rebuild their legacy in the land of possibility.

And so, I too, begin my journey, tucking away the courage and triumph of my ancestors deep in my heart as I explore the tumultuous lives of 3 gypsy cousins – Dominic, Tonja and Bela – fighting their way through Victorian England, overcoming their journey of torment, lies and degradation to reach their ultimate destination – peace and love found only within the arms of our Lord.

Funny thing about this book writing business, I’ve found most of the time you haven’t a clue where you’re going until the right plot, the right genre, the right moment all collide. I began writing Precious Possessions 15 years ago with the goal of selling great historical romance to a secular publisher. I’ve won awards from RWA (Romance Writers of America) contests along with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) contest acclaim. After going through many generations of ideas and revisions spanning half a dozen computers, I’ve finally come to the conclusion the only course for Lost Causes includes a deep spiritual thread of everlasting salvation in Jesus Christ and a depth of emotion I only now recognize.

I hope this bit of insight entices you to join me on my journey. I'm revising and reinventing my fictional haven of Athay tucked within the Yorkshire countryside. I'm praying I understand and recognize every detail within the romantic novel to make it a fulfilling read for you and all who pick up my book. Check back soon and often. I cherish your friendship and welcome your prayers as I create a story worthy of it's origins.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seekerville Winners!!

Last Saturday, I joined the fun in Seekerville where I asked the thought provoking question What Makes A Villain Tick? It was great seeing everyone and we had a terrific time comparing villainous traits. Seekerville is celebrating its 5th birthday and the entire month is devoted to our friends and followers who love and encourage us along the writing way. Kindles, Nooks, books, chocolates and more have already been gifted to commentors. There are still lots of prizes left including the month long prize of a laptop computer!
 
Don't miss out. Join the celebration!
 
Congratulations to the winners of my preseaon Holiday Chocolate Bark:
 
Connie Queen and Helen Gray!
 
Nothing better than chocolate to make your day go great : )
 
See you in Seekerville!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Seekerville Birthday Bash!

I'm talking about Villains in Seekerville today. Come join the fun as we celebrate our 5th Birthday with fun prizes!!
 
 
 
 
Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Love Inspired Contest!!

If you or anyone you know is targeting Love Inspired, Seekerville has a Read Me
Contest going on right now. This one page entry contest is hosted by Associate
Editor Elizabeth Mazer.


No entry fee. No hassles. Just a straight shot at bypassing the slush pile.

The contest ends tonight at midnight.

You can read Elizabeth's post here,

http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/2012/10/seekerville-welcomes-love-inspired.h\
tml


and enter the contest

http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/p/contest-rules.html

Seekerville has had many of our Villagers, sell and/or obtain agents thanks to
our contests. You could be next!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bad Habits

I'd like to start a series of posts that showcase habits I must break as I work through my rough draft and tighten my writing. I'll keep these habits confined to those hindering my writing...I know the rest of my bad habits would only bore you to tears, LOL!

Bad Habit for today:

Announcing emotion.

I'm going through a scene and deleting a lot of words this evening. Words that make my word count look good, but do nothing but steal the glory of a really good line. I guess that's why they call this a rough draft.

“Don’t kill me.” Tears brightened her eyes as she shrank away from him. “I don’t want to die.”

Dominic recoiled at her plea. Kill her? He’d never so much as threatened her. The notion she saw such violence in him turned him cold.

Obviously, this is the time to think through action/reaction, cause/effect, good/bad. It's probably a good thing to get all my thoughts down on paper (or on the screen), but telling the emotion the character is experiencing is a big no-no.

Oh I know, it's so easy to do. Most bad habits are. I have to make an effort to get under my character's skin and show what they're feeling, make the reader relate.

My reader must identify with my characters to feel their pain and joy, and everything in between.

“Don’t kill me.” Tears brightened her eyes as she shrank away from him. “I don’t want to die.”

Kill her? He’d never so much as threatened her. The notion she saw such violence in him turned him cold.

It's a small fix...just a little thing. But the impact of any story is built on the little things, right?

What do you think of this bad habit? Is it yours??

Please share so we can all learn : )

Friday, October 05, 2012

Rewards Per Page!

Oh my goodness! You don't want to miss this!

In Seekerville today, Vince Mooney is talking about why it's so important to reward your reader on every page of your novel. Vince does a great job of explaining his philosophy - which by the way is the name of his blog, Philosophy of Romance - and then follows up with awesome examples of Rewards Per Page in action.

Just to give you an idea of the substance of this post, Vince says:

I have over 1,200 eBooks on my Kindle. At least 95% of these books were free downloads. Many were selected only because I knew that they might be offered as free for just a day or two. Since I knew that at some point in the future I might want to read any of these books, I downloaded them when I had the opportunity. While I own these books, I have no investment in them. I probably will never read 90% or more of my Kindle books unless I encounter a good reason to read them beyond simply owning them. Such a good reason might come about if an author or a review makes the book seem like something I would really want to read. 

Isn't that what we want? To invest the reader in our books? I mean really invest in our books...in us. I'm like Vince, I have tons of free downloads on my Kindle, but how many of those have I read, much less been so enthralled I've gone searching for more books by the author?

When I publish my series, I want to share the best of who I am with my readers. I want to say thank you to my reader on every page of my book -- at least once on every page, if not multiple times.

Vince Mooney knows his stuff. Take a moment and drop in on his party in Seekerville. Read the post and leave a comment. You'll be glad you did!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

New Beginnings and Celebrations!

Not only is it the kick off day for Seekerville's 5th Birthday Bash, but today I'm announcing my new endeavor...over the following days, weeks, months, I'll be preparing my historical inspirational romance series, Lost Causes, for Indie Publishing.

Don't take this the wrong way, I love traditional publishing. Harlequin Love Inspired publishes my contemporary romances featuring cowboys and I absolutely love them! I would be a sadder person without traditional publishing...the world would be a sadder place without traditional publishing.

That said, I have to admit, traditional publishing has never known what to do with my historical books. Some of you might remember my manuscript, Precious Possessions, filled with British history, wounded heros and enticing gypsies. This manuscript has won many unpublished awards along with its sequel, Timeless Treasures. I had requests for the manuscripts only to receive the all too familiar letter stating, "great writing, but this is not for us."

Great writing, but this is not for us? Really?

So in my zeal for publication, I changed my mindset, my time period, my setting and my characters, and started a series featuring contemporary cowboys being the romantic men that won the hearts of the west. Check out Rocky Mountain Hero for a taste of my contemporary voice.

While writing cowboy love stories was all well and good, I never completely set aside my love for the British historical. I truly believe God placed this story on my heart for a reason...and only He knows the significance of it. The idea for Precious Possessions stirred my heart over 10 years ago and it's time to bring it to life.

Like many things in life, Precious Possessions is undergoing a facelift. I've learned a lot from my editor and all the team members that brought Rocky Mountain Hero into being. I'm starting from scratch with the nucleus of  Precious Possessions in my mind and the Word of God in my heart.

~~~Finally, I get around to the purpose of this blog~~~

Let's Try Something A Little Different

All my prior efforts to launch my Lost Causes series met with serious detours and dead ends. But still the flame of the story burned on. In the age of digital publishing, Lost Causes will find a home.

I'm nervous, excited, and a bit scared. Now that I've shared my plan with the world, I'll have to live up to my commitment. I'll need your help, encouragement and occasional kick in the pants, LOL!

Please join me as I muddle my way through the maze of Indie Publishing. I'll be sharing links, connections, information...everything I discover, I'll share right here. Feel free to ask questions, contribute resources, dish up support...or better yet...join me on the journey!

My motto for this adventure is:
 
May the Lord Jesus Christ who gifted me with the desire to write, use my talents for His glory.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Seekerville 5th Birthday Bash!

Hey everyone! Make sure you make time to check out Seekerville every day this month. We're 5 years old and ready to celebrate.


What do you think of these guests??

Dr. Stanley Williams kicks off our month with more on the Moral Premise, and facsinating look at what drives our characters and our stories.

Eva Marie Hamilton

Angela Ackerman

Mary Connealy

Vince Mooney

and

Tina Radcliffe all offer tips and pointers on writing to round out the week.

And don't forget prizes each week!! Ooooo, lookie here! The prize at the end of the first week of our 5th Birthday Bash is...



Stayed tuned throughout the month for more updates and peek into the fantastic events planned. Remember check the Weekend Edition posted on SUNDAY each week in October to see if you're a lucky winner of the daily prizes and the big weekly prize.

See you in Seekerville!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ACFW 2012, Part 2


 As promised, here are more pics of the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas. There were more than 700 attendees this year which made for some very cozy moments amongst the masses while waiting for dinner doors to open, LOL! As usual, the staff of the hotel - the Hyatt DFW - provided tasty meals and showered us with real Texas hospitality!


The chicken fried chicken and side of salsa were very good...never did figure out what the scoop of purple was...

The best part of attending conferences is hanging out with friends you don't see at any other time. Sure the Internet is a great communication tool, but nothing beats face to face, and the wonderful memories created within the span of a few days to last through the next 353 days.
Forget Raymond...Everyone Loves Missy!!
Carol Moncado, Missy Tippens, Pepper Basham

Casual business attire was the order for the days, but everyone brought their Sunday best for the Awards gala on Saturday night. The winners of the Genesis (for unpublished authors) and the Carol (for published) are announced as the highlight of the festivities, but more on that in a couple of days.
Hmm, can you guess which Seeker is sporting the glitzy red shoes???
(I'll give you hint -- they complimented her gorgeous red dress)

Our days were filled with meetings and editor/agent pitches, along with workshops and lots more exhausting events. Friday night was reserved for a free-night where we could go to dinner with our publishers, agents, writing chapters -- or simply hang out with friends. It was a well needed and well deserved break.

I finally caught up with Pam Hillman one evening and we spent the Friday free night at the Wild West Pizza Party hosted by the My Book Therapy crew. What a great time!!!! Definitely on my list of things to do again next year : )
 
Check back again for more pics and highlights!!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 Carol and Genesis Winners

Direct from the ACFW site, we have winners!

2012 Genesis Winners

Genesis
Contemporary Fiction
Anne Prado - Through the Needle
Contemporary Romance
Amy Matayo - The Wedding Game
Historical Fiction
Kathleen L. Maher - Closer Than a Brother
Historical Romance
Brandy Vallance - The Covered Deep
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Matthew Sheehy - Determination
Romantic Suspense
Arlene Coulter - Grounded
Speculative Fiction
Caleb Jennings Breakey - Unleashed
Women’s Fiction
Rachel Moore - The Language of Sparrows
Young Adult
Kathleen Freeman - The Broken Feather



2012 Carol Winners

ACFW Carol Awards
Debut Novel
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson)

Long Contemporary
The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell)

Long Contemporary Romance
My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale)

Long Historical
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson)

Long Historical Romance
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers)

Mystery
Falling to Pieces: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan)

Novella
An Accidental Christmas from A Biltmore Christmas by Diane T. Ashley/Aaron McCarver (Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense
Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson)

Short Contemporary
Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan (Love Inspired)

Short Contemporary Suspense
Nightwatch by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense)

Short Historical
The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh (Revell)

Speculative Fiction
Broken Sight by Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press)

Suspense/Thriller
Fallen Angel by Major Jeff Struecker/Alton Gansky (B & H Fiction)

Women’s Fiction
Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate (Penguin Praise/Berkley)

Young Adult
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)


A big YAYAYAYAY and WooHoo to all the finalists and winners. You guys rock!!
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ACFW Conference fun

JeanneT, Tina Radcliffe, Melissa Jaegars, Mary Connealy celebrating a prize luncheon won in Seekerville.
Myra Johnson, Janet Dean, Debby Giusti (and Melanie Dickerson's hand) preparing freebies for the conference.
We met Cara, Tari, and Andrea on the shuttle back from Grapevine. Cara came all the way from New Zealand!!
Missy Tippens, Mary Connealy, Tina Radcliffe, Debby Giusti, Janet Dean, Audra Harders, Myra Johnson

First day in Dallas before the conference. Us Seeker gals gearing up for an adventure on the town : )


Stay tuned, I'll have more photos later in the week!!

 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Perils of parenthood

"Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into My protective care."

As I read through my devotions this morning (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, August 23), my heart jumped at this very timely piece. Entrusting our children into anyone's care is a very difficult thing, especially for me. Both of our kids are out of the house now, one in college and one feeling her way through her first job. I really thought "out of sight; out of mind" would work for me. It doesn't. Some days all I want to do is open up a phone line to both kids so we can be connected throughout the day.

That's what I want. I don't think anyone else feels the same way, LOL!

We all go through the darkness of uncertainty during points of our lives. I've done it and you've done it, too. We've emerged on the other side sharpened and honed and ready to face the next test. When I was in college, I didn't think twice about the obstacles in my way. I zigged and zagged around them and stored the experiences away in my mind and heart to have as reference materials in facing the same situations later in life.

Didn't we all?

So why is so hard to watch our children navigate the same path? My heart aches for their lonliness and frustrations. I continue to think I can fix all their hurts with a kiss and cookie. I need to pull up my faith by the bootstraps and realize I can't be there for them all the time.

But God is.

"When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand."

I never thought of it that way. I need to cling to Jesus' hand. I need to let go of my worries and look to Jesus for peace in my own life and not worry over the lives of others.

"As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do."

There comes a point in a parent's life when we must let go of our chicks and let them find their own way in the world. We must let go, but not Jesus. In today's mediation, I'm reminded that Jesus will always protect them, never stop loving, never let go.

And that my friends, lightens my heart.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Stories: Dare To Believe

I'd like to introduce you to a new author -- LA Sartor. She's really not that new to the writing world. She's scribbled stories for years, honed her craft, attended conferences and workshops, written many books and won contests...in essence, she's paid her dues and wants to share her love of writing with the world.

Dare To Believe by L.A. Sartor

The Pulitzer prize winning writer …
Catherine Hemstead Malloy had it all – riches, glamour and happiness – or so it seemed. When her husband dies in an accident, she discovers she never really had anything at all. Now with nothing but a dismal bank account and her precious daughter, Cate fights to rebuild her life—until her daughter is kidnapped. Cate has no money, no resources – why would someone target her child?

And the knight in shining armor …
Jason St. Pierre doesn't think of himself as a knight, just a man who does what must be done, lives by his rules and damn the consequences. He'll move heaven and earth to protect the innocent, and his heart—he loved once and lost and won't risk it again, especially to Cate Hemstead.

Their reunion pits them against a kidnapper who is always one step ahead and takes them on a hunt from the majestic mountains of Colorado to the idyllic beaches of Hawaii. Can they solve the who-dunnit turned why-dunnit kidnapping in time to save Cate's daughter?



The twist and turns of the why-dunnit keep the tension fresh in your mind through the whole story. Sartor has created engaging characters that quickly work their way into your heart. The romantic arc is touching and believable as they grow to trust each other and themselves and discover what really matters most. I'll be looking forward to many more stories from this excellent author.
 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scrivener for Windows

I have to admit, I wasn't watching for it, but I'm glad it finally arrived...

Scrivener for Windows.

Ever since my first NaNoWriMo when I first discovered this novel writing program, I was intrigued with all its features. Only problem - it came in a Mac version and sadly, I'm pretty PC minded. Now at the time, they were testing a beta program for Windows, but no real timeline for the finished product was set.

I was bummed. The whole concept of the novel writing software made me drool : )

As I was blog-hopping one day, I came across someone talking about the Scrivener for Windows and how much they loved it. Of course I scurried over to the Literature and Latte site to confirm the rumors...and it was true!

There are many novel writing programs on the market and I have test driven a few of them. I wanted the Scrivener program because it seemed to pull together all the tools I use to create with. Though it looks like the run-of-the-mill program, it has quite a depth of features I'm still discovering. L&L offers easy to follow tutorials and an in-depth instruction manual so even tech-challenged writers such as I can be up and running in a few hours.

  • I love the corkboard feature that lets me scribble down quick thoughts, label them by color associated with the character, and then I have the ability to move them around to remind myself what details I need to stick in where in my novel.
  • Moving scenes within the novel is as easy as click and drag
  • I can store photos, links, idea sketches per character
  • I can create templates in a data base
I'm still discovering hidden gems about the program. I've loving the treasure hunt : )

Check it out!
writing program


Sunday, September 09, 2012

ACFW Conference

Can you believe the ACFW conference is just 11 days away? Since September 25, 2011 I've been looking forward to sharing time with friends and fellow writers again.
 
Are you going to be there? Remember, Seekerville has an informal gathering each night around the lounge area. Stop by for fun and chit-chat. Fun with us in Dallas and all year long in Seekerville!!


Friday, September 07, 2012

It is the same with My word.
   I send it out and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
   and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Isaiah 55:11 NLT

I remember sitting in Confirmation class waaaaay many years ago, listening to our Pastor describe the Bible as a Living Book. It talks to you; it tells you what you need to know. All you have to do is read, ask and believe.

Of course, I scoffed.

Yes, I believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, but really?-- it held the answers to my questions? I fanned through the pages and didn't see any algebraic formulas mingling with the chapter and verse numbers. It also didn't mention any prospects for prom. Nor did it offer any tips on clearing acne, losing weight or any of a number of issues this teenage girl thought were end-of-the-world matters.

All the Bible spoke of was Jesus loving me.

I know that! 

My Pastor was a kind man and I knew he'd never lie to us, but on this matter, my jury remained out.

It took decades of reading my Bible, studying it, and turning my whole heart over to my Savior, but finally, I realized what Pastor was talking about.

When you have a problem, God has a answer. You just have to open your eyes and heart as you read the timeless words given to us by a loving Father who would never abandon His children.

That would be us...You and Me.

So, what's my point?

I think I finally understand what Writing For Him truly means. I've written romantic lore for years. I love it. I wouldn't know how to write any other genre, nor would I want to. God knew that : ) Isn't He clever?

He also wants us to enjoy what we're doing.  Lately I've been banging my head against a wall trying to figure out what the editors are looking for. This awareness of the market has become even more heightened with ACFW conference just around the corner. Agents and editors waiting for the pitch that screams the next best Twilight or  Stephanie Plum series -- Inspirational style, of course : ) What in the world are they looking for?

Maybe we should ask "What is God looking for?"

It is the same with My word.
   I send it out and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
   and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Do you see the promise in this verse? His word always produces fruit and will prosper where He sends it.

I have stopped worrying about whether people will like the books I write or not. Maybe God will bless my efforts and reward me with a million fans (good heavens, I think I'd faint!), or maybe He intends my work to touch just one person. Either way, it's His choice and He never makes a mistake.

I'm very okay with that.

Hugs and blessings,
~audra







Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 29

It's day 29 of Seekerville's First ever Speedbo! What is Speedbo, you might ask? It's the opportunity to challenge yourself. To write continuously, thoughtfully, and yes at times, thoughtlessly as you strife to add as many words as possible to your WIP (Work In Progress).

It's been a tough, but rewarding month for many of our friends in Seekerville. Some have achieved; some of stumbled. Some are amazed at what they've done; others maybe not so much.

But we been there to support one another and laugh and cry together. We've celebrated milestones and we've scolded, and pulled up our big girl panties as needed.

Join me today as I share my thoughts on Success Is What You Make It.

If nothing else, come for the coffee and pancakes, LOL!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 26

Can you believe March is almost over??

CHRISTMAS WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT!!!

Have you checked out Speedbo in Seekerville, lately? Lots of words flying around -- most landing on computer monitors everywhere, LOL!

Come on over and help us get through these last few days of writing, fellowship and fun : )

See you in Seekerville!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Day 5

Well, actually this should be days 4 and 5. I remembered I didn't account for my day yesterday just after I turned off the computer. My bad.

I'm happy with a little over 2500 words in two days. Remember, I'm a working girl. I'll take anything  over 1000 words a day and grin from ear to ear.

I'm feeling the rhythm of my characters...finally. I hate when my H/H feel wooden. It usually isn't until about chapter 3 that life is coaxed and I begin to feel how they think and feel.

If anyone other than a fellow fiction writer reads this, they're going to think I'm certifiable.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Day 3

I had a tough day getting the words out of my mind and onto the keyboard. The characters were not cooperating with me! I have to remember this is SpeedBo and the object of the lesson is to write through the editor, through the blech, through the stupidity (sometimes the character's; sometime my own) and get words on the screen!

Lots and lots of words and I can edit later.

Editing and revisions. The fun part : )

Join us in Seekerville for SpeedBo! You can sign up anytime, make your own goal, share your results -- or not, it's up to you. We're just there to cheer you through the rough the spots and celebrate every little success (and big ones, too).

See you there!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Day 1

It's the first day of Seekerville's Speedbo! The excitement has been building in Seekerville over the last few weeks. Oh how I wished I could've spent the day at home today and just WRITTEN!

Still, I managed 1240 words this evening. Since it looks like snow is moving in to the Denver area, I think this weekend might be a great time to shoot my picometer through the roof.

Well, I'm working on making my dreams a reality, right?

Let's see how tomorrow goes : )

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are you ready??


Come join the fun in Seekerville as we host our first annual Seekerville Speed Book, affectionately known as Speedbo.

Much along the conceptual vein of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Speedbo will offer encouragement and praise (and of course, prizes!!) as we slug through rough drafts.

The goal is to write as many words as possible.

They won't be pretty

They may not make sense.

But there will be a lot of them : )

Questions? Let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.

It's going to be a great month! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's the end of January already!

How embarassinging is this? I haven't posted since the old year...

Okay, gotta remedy this. I'm back on track on and ready to dive into writing for the new year.

I have a couple of projects mulling through my brain. As I continue to write about my favorite cowboys, ranchers and small towns, I'm also becoming one with the historical chambers of my heart. Yes, for years I dabbled in British historic romance featuring noblemen and gypsies and all the unique characters God placed on this earth for variety : ) It's fun to go back in time for a spot 'o tea, now and then.

I'm excited to see where 2012 will lead us all. There are plenty of irons in the fire!

Do you have any you'd like to share?