Sunday, June 30, 2013

Your Voice Released

A block of stone. 

A blank canvas.

A clean sheet of paper.

What life is filled in such empty spaces! 
As writers—or artists—life brims from such untouched media. And once we dare to place our chisel on the stone, the brush to the canvas, the typed word to the paper, we begin to create the vision first developed in our hearts.

If you've ever walked the hall to the famous statue of David by Michelangelo, you first pass by his "Prisoners"--blocks of stone unleashing  human form in a dramatic, raw fashion.

Michelangelo once said, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to find it."

Photo of Michelangelo's Prisoner by Avital Pinnick on Flickr
 As if the bodies are emerging from the block, Michelangelo's imitation of man is whispered on the surface. Not completely finished, not refined nor perfected...but the art becomes a foreshadow of the greatness in what lies ahead—the near-perfect statue of David.

As writers, we often hear judges or editors mention the word, “voice”, and sometimes it seems like a tricky thing to attain in our efforts to craft a story well. If we look at voice in three stages, we might begin to discover the releasing of our own voices:

FIRST CUT: It's messy to cut into stone. Imagine the ugly divots and the shards of marble splayed upon the floor. But Michelangelo knew his direction--to set the statue free. He continued to chip away. Remember, in those beginning stages of a first draft the words might not come easy, but you must continue to write and rewrite, chip away at the blank stone, and release your voice through your unique story.

Photo at Wikimedia Commons
RE-CREATE: Most stories have something in common with other stories, life in general, or universal themes. If we are going to connect with our reader at all, we must have “familiar” in our stories. But don't let “familiar” trump “unique”. Michelangelo didn't create a new form, but used the God-given human form to create art. He sculpted the ordinary human body in a unique way.

Our voice is sculpting the human condition in a unique way.

LIFE: The voice of the writer breathes life into the blank page. It gives the story its pulse. When a writer has grasped their voice, their story becomes one to marvel at, just like Michelangelo's statues.
When your voice continues to grow, your story will fill with life.

Just as the statue of David is a vision the viewer will never forget, your finished manuscript will boldly declare its voice in the heart of your readers.

Have you discovered your “voice”?
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What's Up the Street Next Week?

July is just a handful of days away! Of course, I love this month for a varity of reasons. It's the height of summer and the weather where I live has finally decided to turn nice. Plus it's my birthday month. ;-)

But more than all else, it means a whole new month of new releases! Check out what's hitting bookstore shelves this coming month today throughout the weekend edition! Get the whole scoop at the ACFW Fiction Finder.

What's coming up next week?? *besides all the great new releases!*

Angie will be discussing the author's voice as comparable to Michaelangelo carving bodies from stone.

Tuesday will bring guest poster Jim Bessey to the Alley talking about freelancing in writing and what that means to make money.

Karen is currently traveling across Europe (yeah, I know, you can join the jealous group too. ;-) but will be taking time to post on the Traveling Writer on Wednesday.

Ashley is your lovely hostess on Thursday.

And Amy is fresh out of ICRS and the Christy awards, so expect something packed with wisdom learned from rubbing elbows with Karen Kingsbury (she has a picture to prove it!) Check out her post on Friday.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Talk Less, Listen More by Debut AUTHOR Kristy Cambron

As writers, we’re accustomed to being the ones with the pen. We’re talkers. Storytellers. We’re thinking up the untold and weaving something new out of the words God has placed on our heart. And as a writer pursuing publication over the last two years, I became so focused on the goal of receiving that Yes from a publisher that I lost sight of what happens after the goal is reached. It was on a plane ride last week that I found out what “next” is – it’s to talk less and listen more

I sat next to a kind businessman on a connecting flight home from New York City. We chatted about our homes, our families and the work that had brought us to the current plane ride. It wasn’t until we shared our faith in Christ that I began to feel the tug on my heart to simply let him talk. He shared the story of his daughter, a sweet Christ-loving teenager who’d passed away several years before.  And in that moment, it became clear that storytelling is more than filling pages in a book. On the journey to publication, we often focus on the speed of our typing fingers, the sharpness of our editing eye, and our electric wit for storytelling. But to listen more? It’s one of the most powerful, yet widely unsung attributes of an author’s persona.
Here are the essentials to listening on your way to publication:

1. Listen to others. What I knew about the industry two years ago was next to nothing. (Scary but true.) I’d been a professional writer in Corporate America for more than a decade but when it came to Christian fiction writing, I was a novice. So, I started researching in some of the places I found to be the most helpful – especially for a beginner like me. Listening to others that know the industry and the craft of writing is a foundational place to start. And in case you’re curious, I started with the following blogs:  Michael Hyatt, Rachelle Gardner, Seekerville, Nathan Bransford and The Writers Alley. Research the basics: querying, the must-haves for fiction writing, how to write a winning proposal, how to pitch your work… absorb anything you can. Then, if you’re still up for chasing your dream, get into the serious side of listening and join an organization like the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and/or the Romance Writers of America (RWA). Listen, listen, listen to the professionals that have made it in the business.

2. Listen to yourself. Last year, I’d been writing Regency Era fiction and had some success in contest entries with one of my manuscripts. I still received rejections on the work though, so I knew I had some more learning to do. I made a plan to put pen to paper and write a book that had been speaking to my heart for some time. It was a departure for me to write a WWII Era book, but I had passion around it and couldn’t stop that inner voice from telling me to go for it – to write my passion! Two months later, I received my first offer and signed with Thomas Nelson Publishers (Harper Collins Christian Publishing) for that book series.

To listen to yourself is a tough lesson to learn. When you’re stacking up rejections faster than parking tickets in a big city, you’re bound to start doubting your ability to make it in this industry. Receiving contest results that are less-than encouraging can leave you stung on top of it all. (And if it’s any c
onsolation, I’ve been in the shoes of the aspiring writer that is walking through rejection and had to pick myself up by the bootstraps more than once.) But regardless of the let-downs, I encourage you to exercise your “critique muscle”, to take the feedback you receive and use it to improve. Then, you’ll be able to distinguish the voice that sticks out and highlights a new passion – your own.

3. Listen to your readers. This is as amazing to me as anything I’ve learned about the industry – that you can have readers even before you’ve officially got books taking up space on the bookstore shelves. Writers and readers may be networking on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, but I venture to say that social media isn’t the only place to hear stories. The place where you’ll find the most emotion welling up in your soul is when readers send emails to connect with you, or when they show up in your line at a book signing and share their story. Before you know it, you’ll be on a plane from New York like I was, listening to one of the most beautiful stories a Dad could tell about his missionary-daughter that passed away several years ago.

Listen to this writers, because it will make you a better author to be able to connect with others on an authentic level. Listen. Pray for your readers. And really, really exercise that ability to connect with hearts and hurts beyond yourself.

4. Listen to God. I’ll be the first one to tell you – total surrender isn’t easy. I’ve had enough ups and downs on the road to publication to shake my resolve more than once. But if you aspire to publication like I did, you’ll find that there’s one place you must train your ear to respond to… There’s no voice louder than when God whispers your name. Listen for those words meant for you. Trust Him. Follow His lead. And whether you’re experiencing a low (Another rejection?) or the highest high (I’ve been offered a contract!), He will be there to share it.   

Thanks for hanging out with me today! I love hearing from readers. You can connect with me here:

Check back for updates… I’m excited to share book news and have a new website to launch soon. Blessings to you!


Kristy is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), ACFW Indiana Chapter (Hoosier
Ink), Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), JASNA Greater Louisville (GL) Region, and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency, and writes Historical Romance titles with a vintage theme. She has been editor of her own Christian fiction blog since 2009 and as of May 2012, has been a permanent contributing editor on the Regency Reflections blog. She is a Finalist in the 2013 Laurie contest (Inspirational Category) and recently won first place in both the 2012 First Coast Romance Writers (FCRW) Unpublished Beacon Contest (Inspirational Category) and 2013 NWTRWA Great Expectations Contest (Inspirational Category). Her first novel, Book One in a WWII Era historical fiction series on the prisoner camp art of Auschwitz, will release from Thomas Nelson Publishers (Harper Collins Christian Publishing) in summer 2014.

When she’s not writing, Kristy enjoys spending time with her husband (and best friend), Jeremy, and their three football-loving sons. She loves anything classic or vintage-inspired, especially Jane Austen, Parisian museums, Downton Abbey (and British culture in general), art history and Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

The last and most important thing? Jesus Christ is awesome - let her tell you about Him sometime.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Preparing for Publication Part 3: The Valuable Ladder

My first ever rejection letter was from the fabulous Steve Laube. The year after I'd finished my first book... I decided that the worst that could happen was that he would say, "Your writing is crappy. Your story stinks. Don't quit your day job."

Well... obviously, I got a rejection letter. It didn't say those things in those exact words, but it should have.

Because my writing was crappy.

And... well, I hope my story didn't stink, but it needed a TON of work.

I was nowhere near ready to quit my day job.

I remember the moment I received that rejection though. I seriously smiled. I had done it. Put myself out there, taken a leap of faith, as stupid as it was. Yes, I contributed to poor Steve's slush pile. Yes, I probably got an eye roll from the poor sap who had to read my junk. But I'd taken another bold step toward publication.

The first step being, of course, actually writing my book.

After I received his rejection, I rolled up my sleeves, joined ACFW as Steve's letter suggested, and started to work on my craft. I edited that book until I despised every single letter in it.

My next ladder rung?

ACFW conference. And what did super bold Krista do?

She booked an agent appointment with... you guessed it... Steve Laube.

Yeah, I rocked.

I remember walking into that room... my first inperson appointment EVER with an agent or editor.

And I wanted to puke. What had I been thinking? I am NOT bold. I am STUPID. Idiotic. I seriously must have inhaled some type of toxic chemical fume the day I signed up for this appointment because... yeah. This was just plain dumb.

But in I went anyway. I sat down at that table, shook Steve's hand as boldly as I could, and gave him my one sheet.

Yup, just like that. I was so nervous, I could barely eek out a word. Not really sure what I actually said... I think I went for the honesty-card and said something like, "I, uh, have never done this before. Here is my onesheet. You rejected it but I revised it." Then shoved said onesheet into his hands.

He looked at it, then asked for my first chapter. I rejoiced that I'd printed it and handed that over.

Then the most blessed thing happened.

Steve Laube... THE Steve Laube... laughed. Not like as in "This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen" kind of laugh. But in a "Hey, that's actually funny" kinda laugh.

My heart soared higher than the cliff I had been wanting to jump off moments before.

He read a few pages, then gave me some good pointers. I nodded and soaked in the information.

Then time was up, and I left.

Yeah, he didn't ask for anything. But I'd been bold. I'd gotten feedback. And my writing had made an agent laugh.

The "Bold" Alleycats...
doing Low Rider at 2012 ACFW...
I still vote that Ang wins as best lowrider!
For my first conference and a year into the whole writing thing, I was pretty thrilled.

And unbeknownst to me at the time, my rejection and boldy putting myself out there at a conference were not only steps on my ladder TO publication... but it was also preparing me for when I BECAME published.

Once your book is "out," you'll need to boldly (but smartly) market your book. You'll need to continue learning and getting better, you'll need to put yourself out there and not be so afraid of people that you can't put two sentences together in their presence. And rejection... you'll be having to deal with READER rejection, not just agent/editor rejection. And once a reader rejects you... your book is beyond the editing point!

Even though I'm now agented by the wonderful Rachelle Gardner and approaching the one-year anniversary of my debut novel releasing, I still struggle with being bold with my books and dealing with rejection, although not nearly as much as I would have if my prepublication journey hadn't given me much needed boldness training.

So those pains you feel when pre-published? The sting of yet another rejection? Those nervous rocks in your stomach that threaten to kill you when you approach that agent or editor at a conference? Start looking at them through different lenses. Not only are they necessary to GET published... they are good training for when you ARE published.

Discussion: What things on the ladder to publication are the hardest? Can you think of ways that your hardship can really be seen as training for later?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Successful Writers Have Conviction

 Julia Child's first TV Show, The French Chef
She made beef Bourguignon
February 11, 1963
I stumbled upon a Julia Child television program on You Tube last week and learned quickly, if I wanted to make one of her recipes, I would be wise to listen to the corresponding show. For in her shows she tells all her secrets.

My daughter and I chose to make beef Bourguignon, step by step copying Julia's every move on the show.

The family's first comment after tasting the meal that took five hours to make? Yum!

During the show, Julia casually taught skills as she worked in real time, which allowed her to share secrets while the food cooked. One of the many skills she told the "sevantless American cook" was: "You must have conviction." 

At the time the show aired, Americans searched for convenience. Mealtime, although a necessity, encroached on the day. Hamburger helper and other similar foods became the staple. Few women had time or a desire to complete the steps necessary for dishes like beef Bourguignon.

Julia's challenge: prove to the American cooks that big projects can be broken down into doable steps. 

In her show, Julia taught what portions of the recipe could be done the night before and placed in the "icebox" until needed. She lured American cooks into making their family's meal from scratch by tasting, making mistakes, speaking as one who understands, and showing a magnificent product.

Time and priorities. Both are key issues to making a fabulous meal like beef Bourguignon.

Any of this sounding familiar to your writing?

Julia wanted to show the American cook not only how to do the job, but that they COULD make something complicated, tasty, and rewarding. 

In another episode, Julia flicked a skillet containing an egg mixture. Most of the matter flipped as she intended but some flew out of the pan and onto the stove surface. "No one sees you in the kitchen." She scooped the spilled mixture from the stove and blended it with the other egg in the skillet. Her swift hand smoothed and pressed the wayward pieces as though they never left the skillet. The final presentation of the egg dish proved the work of a master could be made by any cook.

I wanted to let these comments about Julia's skills flow before making points, allowing you the first opportunity to apply what can benefit your work the most.  

Now it is time for both of us to share. I will give you a few points that popped in my head then you add your thoughts in the comments.

1. When spaced appropriately throughout our day, there is time to write. Each person and every day is different. Sometimes there isn't a block of time to write. Use every available minute to write. One hundred words here and there add up.

2. Scenes can be written in a different order. As a scene pops in your mind write it down while it is fresh. Save it in the icebox until needed.  Yes, it may need to be modified later because it doesn't completely match the timeline of the story. That's all right.  At least it's there, not gone to that place where all unwritten brilliant ideas, keys, and missing socks disappear. Black hole scenes can not be retrieved.

3. Decide to get something done. Distractions rob our time, making us feel like the off task project is necessary when it isn't. Prioritize. Run from commercial break distractions, they will suck you in and steal your time. Stay true to your conviction.

4. While learning, play by the rules. Yes, seasoned authors have broken writing rules. But, those same authors first focused on the basics, became masters then found where a broken rule could add flavor. A novice breaking a rule adds bitterness. 

The dictionary defines conviction as: a fixed or firm belief.  Skipping no steps. No short cuts. When we write our stories with conviction, a natural result will be an accurate story. 

Professional writers/authors own a fixed or firm belief in their reason for being a writer, their skills, and their product. They each have formulated a system that works as smoothly as hopping on a bicycle. Most importantly: they write everyday.

For one day, my daughter and I had the conviction we could make beef bourguignon. And we did it, just like Julia said we could. After tasting the meal, my daughter hunted through Julia's shows, looking for another meal to make with Julia. 

How about you? Help us learn from points you gleamed?


This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing Real

Photo by graur codrin
Realness is such a vague term, though it shouldn't be. Real means something that exists, not imaginary...tangible and understandable.

I've been told several times that I am not like the normal preacher's wife. When I first heard someone tell me that, I was not sure if I should be offended or not. I want to be a good preacher's wife! But then they said other preacher's wives they had known seems too perfect, too good...and hard to relate to. I was told I was "real".  Yeah, I've got a lot of flaws and I guess I'm not good at hiding them. While I regret that I am flawed, I am glad that others don't think of me as "too good" for them or "un-relateable".

But what does being real have to do with writing? I'm glad you asked.

Writing real involves being real. We write from the experiences, trials, joys, hopes and dreams that are uniquely ours. Every turn in our life journey gives us wisdom to build upon. Each step we take gives us layers of character that makes us who we are. We become more real each and every day.

How do we incorporate this realness in our writing?

Remember that you are a sinner who was given grace by a gracious God. Sometimes we Christians forget where we have come from and tend to gloss over our need for a Savior. Use that need, that longing for grace, in your writing. Your character needs something...and ultimately needs the Lord. Use your knowledge and feelings to make your character "real".

Energize yourself with the presence of God. You need His touch on your life to write the story He has placed on your heart. Take the time to stay in the Word and pray about your writing. Join a Bible study or fellowship with other believers. Those like minded people will encourage you and lift you up.

Ask for help. Just as we need God's help and guidance in life, we definitely need help in our writing journey. Yes, it is sometimes difficult to ask for help, but from what I have learned is that the writing community has the biggest heart and wants to help! I would imagine if you posted on Facebook that you need help in a certain area, then I bet you would get a list of people willing to help out. Just ask!

Lay down your mask. God sees through the masks that we wear. We may try to mask our pain, our sin, our hurt, our temptation, but God knows it all...and loves us anyway. In writing Christian fiction, we need to make sure our characters lose their masks. Yes, they can "try" to keep up appearances, but real life can be a messy life and our characters need to be messy in order to grow and find freedom in Christ.

These are just a few ideas to help you write real.

What would you add? How do you write real?

This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is a minister's wife and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The G.O.D. Factor - A Three Chord Strand

Three is a pretty special number. 
In fact – it’s used a LOT

3 Stooges

3 Little Pigs

3 French Hens

3 Blind Mice

3 points on a triangle

A trilogy

3 is important. Even for God.

The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit J

But how does it play out in our novels? 
Well, in most of our novels there are two main characters, but in Christian fiction there is an ‘invisible’ third.


So I’m going to chat today about the God factor in your fiction.

Since we are Christians, our worldview tends to be different (or it ought to be) so that difference automatically comes out in our writing. But how?

Here are some aspects of this G.O.D. factor in your fiction.

Does your story have G.O.D. in it? J

1.       Genuineness – or plausibility. Is the spiritual thread believable? Have you created a spiritual arc which presents the truth of the Gospel in a believable way with your characters? Your story?

This one will go hand-in-hand with #2.

Siri Mitchell does this extremely well in her historical novel, Love’s Pursuit. In the beginning, the Puritan heroine would not just up and leave her community to go with this heretical man – but the pull of faith and wealth of questions posed to her along the storyline, makes her end choice believable. Are you characters making believable spiritual choices?

2.       Organic – Does it flow naturally from your story? From your characters?

The way God works with his people is a beautiful conundrum of generically-the-same and mysteriously unique.

Not everyone has the same ‘story’ of salvation. Not every relationship or sermon connects to our hearts the same way. Why should it with your characters?

Because God’s gifts to his kids are specific to THEM, then His way of touching and shaping their lives will be different too. God’s whisper to a quiet, more timid character may shake in complete opposition to his ‘shout’ in a bolder, more extroverted character’s life.

He may have asked both Andrew and Saul-turned-Paul to ‘follow him’, but the way in which he called them was uniquely set for their circumstances and their personalities. Paul needed a slap, not a nudge.

3.       Dependable – or consistent? Do you keep the amount of your spiritual thread consistent throughout the story? Is it all housed within one area? The middle? The end? Do you keep it light throughout? Subtle throughout or is your thread deeper and more overt?

I’ve been surprised in books before where God’s name emerged on the last page, but he wasn’t mentioned (or even alluded to) in any other part of the book. Whether overt or covert, the spiritual thread should be consistently interwoven.

Some of us are going to write the Christian thread in an overt manner. Some in a more subtle manner; And others will weave it in with barely a hint. None of them are right or wrong, but each is as unique as the way God touches our own lives.

In my novels, the spiritual thread is my focal point. 

Characters start dancing in my head along with a story question. I think of internal/external motivations, but, as the characters emerge, I ‘look’ at them and ask these questions too:

“What does God want to do in your life?”

“What is a need in your life that only God can fill?”

“How can God use the hero/heroine to be His fingerprints in your life to meet your need or heal your wounds?”

But not every Christian writer takes this focus. Their spiritual thread may shock them as they write the novel, or readers may tell them later of the spiritual thread they didn't even know they had written about in their stories. Again, God is a BIG God – he’s using us for our good and his glory, right?

So…what do you think? Is the G.O.D. factor important to you in your writing or in the books that you read? Everybody has a worldview – does yours make a difference in your novels?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What's Up the Street for Next Week?

Photo credit:

We are created for love.

Loved by our Heavenly Father.

Loved by our friends and family.

We crave it. We live to be loved.

Friendship and love go hand and hand in our human lives.

And thank God knew what He was doing when He gave us each other and knew we needed to love and be loved.

Family and all their quirkiness.

Friends and their unconditional acceptance.
Photo credit:

Spouse and the romance of finding the one.

Children and their little sticky kisses.

God has given it to us all. How do you plan to love this week?

What's coming up next week?

The Three Cord Strand by Pepper is your post to read on Monday. (on a side note, I imagine this post will be so timely...definitely something I've been thinking a lot about lately!)

Sherrinda delivers the REAL factor on Tuesday. Writing real, being real.

Is your writing filled with conviction? Are you convicted when you sit down to write? Join Mary on Wednesday.

Krista is your hostess on Thursday.
Photo credit:

And welcome our guest soon to be DEBUT author Kristy Cambron on Friday! 

We have winners!! (and other fun news)

Thanks to Julia for planning a really fun week of fabulous guests posts and giveaways!

Winner of the $5 Amazon gift card is...Susan!

Winner of Rescue Team by Candace Calvert is...Bonnie!

Winner of Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar is...Jeane!

Winner of When Loves Calls by Lorna Seilstad is...Brittany!

Winner of Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade is...Melissa!

Pepper is posting this month on the CFOM.

Angie's One Sheet business is now OPEN! Check out the great prices and amazing designs here!

The Genesis Finalists were announced on Monday! Congratulations to our Alley family: Lindsay Harrel, Jill Kemerer, and Dawn Crandall! See the full list here!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Good Words from Dead People...and a GIVEAWAY!!!

As we've visited with some guest posters this week and received some great tips. Don't forget to stop by the posts and comment and enter for the giveaways as we'll be drawing at the end of today.  Today I thought it might be fun to end with some advice from beloved authors of the past. They may be dead people, but their works have outlived them. 

TRUMAN CAPOTE: To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.

HENRY MILLER: Work on one thing at a time until finished. 

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD: Nothing any good isn't hard.

JOHN STEINBECK: Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page a day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

E.B. WHITE: Writing is not an exercise in excision, it's a journey into sound.

Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

ANTON CHEKHOV: My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.

HERMAN MELVILLE: To produce a mighty book, you must start with a mighty theme.

ROBERT FROST: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

WILLIAM FAULKNER: Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but its the only way you can do anything really good.

Don't be a writer. Be writing.

JACK LONDON: You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.

VIRGINIA WOOLF: If you don't tell the truth about yourself, you can't tell it about other people.

Is there any writing advice here that spoke to your heart? Or is there another piece of advice that has been passed on to you that you have taken to heart and remembered? 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Iced Tea and a Good Book: The Writer's Alley on Great Summer Reads for Writers

What better diversion than a book to enjoy poolside on in the rusty hammock in your backyard with a glass of lemonade...or a well-made cup of iced coffee?  Or maybe you'd prefer a glass of sweet tea.

Either way, if not working on their latest tome, you're likely to find an Alleycat curled up with a good book. And since we're a diverse group of readers, I thought today we'd share some of our favorite summer reads. Whether gushing over a great love scene or holding our breath while reading unstoppable suspense we believe these summer reads may keep you awake on a sweltering night.

Here are some Alley Cat favorites:

Not your typical light, summer read but Swimming Through Clouds by debut author Rajdeep Paulus is a spell-binding and somewhat terrifying story about a young girl tiptoeing around her father's abuse, trapped in a world where small mistakes have devastating consequences. Though an intense read, Paulus weaves a beautiful and charming tale about kindness and love covering even our deepest scars.This heart-rending YA novel for all, will suck you in, bond you irrevocably with the incredibly resilient Talia and the boy, Lagan, a Christ-like hero, whose patient friendship coaxes her out of her misery and into a world of hope with something as simple as a post-it notes. A wonderful reminder that even the smallest pebble of grace can create a ripple strong enough to change someone's life. Even save it.

If you have ever felt like that "freak-out woman", whether it be screaming in the carpool line or building walls of resentment in your closest relationships, Lysa Terkeurst's Unglued is a must read! Lysa offers every woman wisdom and hope with a twist of humor, sharing her own personal experiences and insights. Learn how to focus your emotions in a way "to experience life, not destroy it," in the midst of God's grace and mercy. Summer is sure to be brighter after this brilliant and inspiring read!


Just finished My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade and have Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck on order.


Julie Lessman's latest, Love at Any Cost, is sure to have you reaching the lemonade to cool your parched throat. The perfect patio read (or if it's too hot, great in front of the osculating fan in your living room), the characters will entertain you. Stepping back in time will leave the worries of today behind you and the love story will keep you entertained as only a Lessman novel can.


I recently finished several books that I enjoyed. If you like nonstop suspense, Mike Delloso delivers in Frantic. Just try to put this book down to fall asleep, it will keep you turning pages late into the night. I have also been enjoying the conclusion to Sarah Sundin's Wings of Glory series, Blue Skies Tomorrow. Sarah brings you straight back to a beloved period of American history, World War II with a delightful romance and her meticulous attention to period detail.

On the nonfiction front, I read a delightful book for the discouraged and overwhelmed mother (is there any mother who doesn't find herself in one of these categories on a semi-regular basis) . Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson would make a great small group discussion book, I met with a few friends over coffee and discussed it. It is like sitting down with a mentor through the pages of a book.

I also reviewed Candace Calvert's Rescue Team for Title Trakk and highly recommend it.


My choice: Into the Free by Julie Cantrell

The simple, magnetic beauty of the writing and realness of the characters drew me in right away. This is no light-hearted read: set in Depression-era Mississipi, Cantrell portrays the struggles of a young girl dealing with a violently abusive father and a mother who seems barely there. Tragedy falls hard upon Millie's young life, and I became so emotionally invested in her story that at times I had to set the book down, breath catching, an ache in my heart. But even in the darkest moments, there is hope. Millie is increasingly drawn to a group of gypsy travellers, and as she discovers capabilities within herself she never dreamed of, she comes to a place of decision where the yearnings of her heart are put to the test. A rich, nuanced, evocative read - highly recommended.


I just finished Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade, so that'd be a good one.
Ones I WANT to read that aren't already mentioned are DeeAnne Gist's It Happened at the Fair...Kaye Dacus' Follow the Heart...
OH! And I just finished Rachel Hauck's Once Upon a Prince and liked it! I mean, come on... it's about a PRINCE. Can't get much better than THAT!!!! (although Becky's cowboy is a close one!!)


I recommend Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer.
Karen successfully pulled off the surprise ending that is truly satisfying.
Karen successfully landed each pov so clear. My favorite: the gun slingin' bandit, Silas.
For a full review from Mary head to Let's Talk.


I recommend Jody Hedlund's A Noble Groom (no surprise)
This book may not transport you to the beach, but it will definitely leave you with the rewarding wave of a happily-ever-after ending. This is hands-down the best Jody Hedlund book, in my opinion and it is on my 'rereads list'. Not only does it swell with historical detail and crashing conflict, the hero is amazing! The relationship between the hero and heroine is a delight to watch unfold, and the touches of humor sweeten the deal.


It's not a new release and is only offered in digital format now, but it is one that I like to reread from time to time.
The Crown of Eden by Thomas Williams
"When a simple blacksmith unearths the lost crown of Eden, he is torn between his love for a beautiful maiden, who is promised to marry a tyrannical prince, and his duty to honor a 100-year-old prophecy. To deliver the crown is to lose her. To hide it will forever doom the already decimated empire of the Seven Kingdoms. He must choose, but how?" How indeed? This story is an epic medieval fantasy...a mixture of C.S. Lewis and Tolkein, breathing truth and light through every word. This creative tale holds romance, adventure, mythical creatures, humor, and the age old battle of good and evil. Not your typical light summer reading, but it is a story that will stay with you and make you think.