What did I do this summer?

Taking this summer off was a great decision. Some times you just need some time to take a step back and regroup. It is hard to hear the voice of God in the middle of noise. I needed  a change of scenery in order to organize,  a real vacation and some projects.

I was able to de-clutter some old things that I’ve been hanging on for too long. I was allowed to finally have a vacation, the last one I had was in 2006. I read a full book. Yes, writers love to read too, we just don’t have enough time.

I took a vacation from my healthy lifestyle and recovered some of the pounds I had lost, but I’m now back  on  track and decided to lose them with the plan to not find them again.

Finally I was able to get some writing work done. My new novel “A Brother’s Vow” is in the final stages of editing and the cover is being worked on. I started a new project, currently called “Second Chances”, which I was able to write the first five chapters and many more things to come.

It’s good to be back.

So tell me, what has your summer been like?

Still for 0.99 cents Season’s Greetings from Amelia

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“This book is in a class by itself, you will not be able to put it down! The characters pull you in and you begin to feel their emotions. Excellently written. The title fooled me, the saying goes” never judge a book by the cover “and this is one of those books.” By Duezette

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Summer Break

To all my readers,

I will be taking off from blogging during this summer. This year has been a little bit more challenging than anticipated and I have not been able to be true to my promise to provide you with new good reads. I will be focusing on the following stories: “My Promise To Keep”, “Breaking Free” and the first draft of a new novella “Hope”

This has been one of the challenges. My computer has broken down several times and as I type this is barely allowing me to work. It is my hope to get that problem resolved in the next few weeks.

I have been very involved in too many projects and for the first time in three years I will be going on vacation. Although I’ll be writing during my time away, it will be great to focus on it in a new environment. It is awesome when you are writing fiction and your story is just as good as your reality.

So enjoy  your summer, be safe, be blessed and see you all back on August 5th

Body Image Lies Women Believe: Free Kindle eBook & $100 Giveaway

By Shelley Hitz and contributing authors

Download on Kindle

FREE three days only: 5/8/13, 5/9/13 and 5/10/13

PLUS enter to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

About the Book, Body Image Lies Women Believe:

  • Are you insecure about your looks?
  • Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and found yourself wanting?
  • Do complements or put downs determine the image you have of your beauty?

Real Stories of Overcoming Body Image Lies Women Believe with God’s Truth

Throughout this book, Christian women share their stories of how they have struggled with body image lies and a distorted view of themselves. However, each of their stories also contains hope – the hope of replacing these lies with God’s truth. Our prayer for you is that you find encouragement within these pages and allow Christ to transform you with His truth.

We Are Each Created Unique

God has created each one of us with unique abilities, unique talents and a unique personality. As women we are influencers and God has given us that role and our beauty to share with others. Yet so often we settle for a counterfeit. The enemy has counterfeited our idea of beauty, convincing us to share our beauty with the world in a distorted way. Today that often means that we see our beauty as what we look like on the outside.

What Lies Have You Been Believing?

Join us for the journey of replacing body image lies with truth from God’s Word.

Download on Kindle

FREE on 5/8/13, 5/9/13 and 5/10/13

Paperback | Large Print | Audiobook

Shelley Hitz

Shelley HItzShelley Hitz is an award-winning and international best-selling author. Her openness and vulnerability as she shares her own story of hope and healing through her books will inspire and encourage you.

Shelley has been ministering alongside her husband, CJ, since 1998. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley’s main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements.

Follow Shelley Hitz
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Enter Below to Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Thank you to our sponsors!  The giveaway is sponsored by Staci Stallings, Spirit Filled Kindle, Grace & Faith 4 U and Body and Soul Publishing.

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Letter to the Unknown Author

By Karen Baney

Dear Unknown Author,

I know the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into your book. The late nights. The early mornings. The crazy moments when the idea for your next chapter hits you and you can hardly wait to get time to sit down and pour it all out.

It’s your masterpiece, your joy. You wrote it with purpose and determination.

The happiest day of your life, next to your wedding day and the birth of your kids, was the birth of your book. Oh how you shouted for joy when you first saw your name on the cover of your book! Then when it became available in bookstores online or brick and mortar, you could hardly contain your excitement. Your baby, your masterpiece was finally out there in the world.

Then the excitement faded. Week after week you wondered if anyone would buy your book. Weeks turned to months. Months to years. The next book you wrote was with a little less enthusiasm—containing an underlying fear that maybe you aren’t really cut out for this whole writing thing.

I know what you’re saying. Reader, how can you know me so well? Where have you been? Did you read my book?

I would love to read it. I’m sure it is really good. I would love to go on the journey you so cleverly crafted with painstaking details.

Just one problem, dear unknown author: You are unknown to me.

You see, I only have a few minutes of time between picking up the kids from soccer and getting dinner on the stove—maybe we’ll just stop for fast food tonight—that it’s hard for me to take the time to find you. I have a blog that I read once every few weeks, and you’re not there. When I browse through my favorite genre, you’re not there. When I talk to friends, they haven’t heard of you either. You don’t show up in my Twitter stream.

I do like trying new authors, I really do. But with 18,000 other religious fiction authors vying for my attention, what have you done to get mine?

Maybe someday I’ll hear about you from a friend. Maybe my book club will bring you to my attention. Until then, you will remain an unknown author to me.

Blessings,

Busy Reader

What are you doing to stand out among the 18,000? Is your publish-it-and-they-will come strategy getting you nowhere? If so, unknown author, it’s time to stand out. It’s time to learn about marketing. Get out there. Be bold. Be seen. Be a name and not a number.

Karen_closeup_left_medBest-selling self-published author, Karen Baney, enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing.  She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and has worked in various business related career fields for the past 20 years.  She writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels.  To learn more about her novels visit her website: karenbaney.com. Authors can find tips and information on self-publishing and marketing at: www.myauthorservices.com.

Karen and her husband, Jim, also run several online businesses.  They make their home in Gilbert, AZ, with their two dogs.

Connect with Karen on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.10 Keys Cover Med

Not sure how to start marketing your book? Check out Karen’s new book just for authors: 10 Keys to Ebook Marketing Success. Now available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Keys-Ebook-Marketing-Success-ebook/dp/B00B2YUQ16

For great marketing and self-publishing advice, visit MyAuthorServices.com.

Doing Nano is Not Like Riding a Bike

I have to admit that being that this is my 4th year doing NaNoWriMo, I came into it with somewhat of a cocky attitude. I’ve done this before. I just published The Road Home, the novel whose first draft I wrote during my first Nano. I’ve always come up with way more than 50k words. I got this. I can do this easy peasy. Not so fast.

Doing NaNoWrimo is not like riding a bike. Just like every day of our lives, the fact that every week has a Monday doesn’t mean that every Monday of our lives will be the same and I learned that lesson real quick this year. October 31st I was sitting on my bed, ready to start right at midnight. I hate the look of a totally blank page so I have to admit that I wrote the title of the novel before midnight, but I don’t think two words will disqualify me from the race. As soon as the clock hit midnight the race for words started and I went to bed around 12:30am with already 2k words. I was on top of the world.

Well, since the week before Nano I had been struggling with a cold, which of course doesn’t cripple my fingers, but it does fog my brain. Now I had to push through going to work, go to all the write-ins that I committed to host and the rest of my life not feeling my best. Also this year was election year and I was glued to the television waiting for the results.

The reality is that although I’m still making good stats and I’m ahead on my word count it has been quite a struggle to do so. My focus and concentration have been divided between responsibilities, life, and writing more than in years before. But also I was not counting with the editor Monster to be part of my journey. For some reason I had been able to just write out my story in years prior. This time the editor voice in my head refuses to shut up. By Day 3 I was ready to push select all then delete. I have to say that thanks to my NaNoLanta Wrimos I held back from doing it and just wrote an alternate Chapter 2 that has allowed me to go on with my story.

You may want to know, which story did I choose. As per your suggestion and my desire I’m writing “The Adulteress” and if I finish it on time I will begin Greetings from Saint Nick, but right now I don’t think that second part is going to happen, because this story has gone way out of the original plan and taken on a life of it’s own. Oh, and I have managed to write almost half of this novel and all my characters are alive. Talk about an accomplishment.

Well, let me go and stop using my blog as another method of procrastination for the struggle: I have to write this novel.

Write Wrimos Write!

Creating Believable Characters

By Suzanne Williams

There are three keys to creating believable characters, characters a reader desires to know more about and cares for. The first key is emotion. A character’s emotions create a reader’s emotions. The second key is creditability. How true to life is that character, and can the reader identify with him or her on a personal level? The third key is what I call the “male or female factor,” and I will explain that in a moment.

The character’s emotions are what draw readers into a story. In the following paragraphs, the main character, an Irishman named Michael, for multiple reasons cannot consummate his marriage with his wife. One evening, he kisses her and it sends him over the edge.

“Hands shaking, senses convulsing, Michael collapsed against a tree. What had happened?”

“His head spun, and the moment repeated itself, the sweetness of her mouth, the supple feel of her skin. He squeezed his eyes shut and floated helplessly skyward and back to earth on a swollen wave of sensation. He would have her; he would touch her again.”

“His eyes flew open at the vivid image of thirst and yearning quivering before him. She returned his feelings at last. But for his escape, they wouldn’t have stopped.”

Michael’s emotions come into the story through the use of powerful words like “shaking, convulsing, sweetness, supple, floated [and] swollen.” Now, make note that the only terms used to indicate any body parts were “mouth,” “skin,” and “eyes,” harmless enough terms, so it is the choice of adjectives that let you know he’s struggling and exactly how he feels about her.

When working with a character’s emotions, consider what the purpose of the scene is and how you feel when you read it. If you’re emotional, often the reader will be as well. And here’s something to think about. When creating emotion in a scene, I tend to go where I am uncomfortable. I have found that playing it safe leads to a boring scene.

This thought leads me to credibility. Credibility is that factor that makes a character a real person. In the same scene above, Michael, a twenty-year-old male, has fallen in love with his wife. His problem is he didn’t realize it was easier when she wasn’t returning his feelings. Now that she is, he sees the struggle in himself.

Thinking like a young man of that age and all the factors that led up to this moment are what made me write the scene as I did. I wanted him to have the same battle with his flesh that a man that age would have in the same situation.

Credibility comes into play in many other ways and with many other scenarios. Author Peter Levell once told me, “Never have two cowboys sharing a cinnamon role in a café.” I have never forgotten that advice because it holds to credibility. Two cowboys are not going to do something of that nature, and even if I write such a scene, the reader won’t believe it. I once read a western where the hero was dashing off to catch a criminal with a sandwich in his hand. Uhm. I don’t think so.

CINNAMONROLL

Now, this leads me to point number three – the “male and female factor.” I am opposed to males who speak and think like females. I’m sorry, but a man in love with his wife doesn’t want to hold her hand. He is a man, so he’ll think like a man and have the desires of a man. Similarly, a female isn’t going to deal with the same situation in the same way. When Michael’s wife approaches him later in this scene, she hasn’t a clue why he’s acting that way.

“She’d watched Michael for days, memorized his every movement, his mannerisms, until they were as familiar as her own. She saw how he tilted his head when he teased her, how the muscles in his neck flexed when he was upset. She heard him say he loved her, felt it in his gestures, and knew it when he didn’t speak. Yet to have him flee sent her spinning.”

“Isn’t this what he wanted? He wanted her to love him. Now that she did, he backed away?”*

Notice, how female she’s being. She’s spent time watching him, noticing all the funny little twitches or habits he has. What wife hasn’t done that? I could make you list of my husband’s quirks. Also note, it wasn’t enough that he’d told her he loved her, she expected more from him. This is decidedly female, and even more so when she is clueless as to why he’d run off in the first place.

I challenge the idea that the characters must be devoid of thoughts and feelings and a couple cannot show they care for each other (within Christian guidelines) without it becoming taboo. This type of writing leads me back to the “vase of flowers” concept where children are conceived by some mythical moment and not because the husband wanted to be with his wife. In this same vein, I have read some fabulous stories full of emotion and real-life characters that barely had kissing in them, and yet I knew how the man felt about her and how she felt about him.

Stories are all about words, and an author’s choice and placement of those words are what gives the characters life on the page. And that life is what keeps me reading and makes me relive certain story scenes again and again after I close the book. It is also what keeps me writing – that knowledge that these people could have existed and would have behaved like that. And I like think it is that certain thing which keeps readers returning to my books.

(Unedited story excerpts are from Love & Redemption by Suzanne D. Williams to be released March 1, 2013.)

Suzanne-640Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, photographer, and writer. She is author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

To learn more about what she’s doing visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor.

I HATE COMMAS, COMMAS, AND MORE COMMAS!

By Lillian Duncan

I gladly admit that I hate commas. I much prefer to ignore them when I write. Those kind souls who critique my writing are always pointing out my comma failings (and I so appreciate them).

So, I’ve decided to do something about it. Since I needed to write a post about writing tips, I decided to improve my own writing in the process, or so I hope. Instead of writing about what I know I’m on a quest to find out what I don’t know about commas!

I asked some other writers to give me rules about commas as a first step. Here’s what they’re saying:

Linda Samaritoni gives us RULE # 1: Use a comma in direct address, meaning names.

EXAMPLE : I’m here to help you, friend.

Gail Kittleson, author of Catching Up With Daylight (to be published 2013), gives us RULE # 2: Use a comma after a subordinate clause used as an introduction to a
sentence.
EXAMPLE: After we watched our team lose, we headed to the malt shoppe.

Louise M. Gouge, author of A Suitable Wife, December 2012, tells us about RULE #3: Use a comma to separate independent clauses (complete thoughts) when they are joined by these transition words: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

EXAMPLE: We wanted to go to the movie, but none of the films caught our interest.

Amy Cattapan, aspiring author and a middle school English teacher, gives us RULE #4: When including a full date in a sentence (month, day, and year), put a comma after the year as well as between the day and the year.
Example: The conference held on September 21, 2012, was a great success.

I give you RULE #5: Use commas to separate a series of at least 3 objects or events.

EXAMPLE: She woke up, brushed her teeth, ate breakfast, and then left for the day.

I’m checking out the Chicago Manual Of Style, which is what many fiction writers use as the ultimate grammar and punctuation resource. I’ve spent more than an hour reading questions about commas and CMOS answers on their website.

A few things have become clear to me.

Commas are troublesome to lots of people not just me.

There are lots of ambiguous situations concerning commas, but the CMOS people have a consistent answer. If the comma helps to clarify a situation use it. If the sentence doesn’t need clarifying then don’t use it.

In many situations, commas can or cannot be used, and either way would be right. That makes me feel better. I guess it comes down to personal preference and what your editor prefers.

The CMOS website points out that good editing smoothes the way for the reader. And I guess that’s why writers need editors. My job is to create the story, and the editor’s job is to smooth out the bumps.

But I’m hoping my editor has a few less commas to add in my next story!

YOUR ASSIGNMENT SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT:I purposefully left out some commas in the above post and possibly a few accidentally. Leave a comment if you find a sentence that needs a comma with an explanation why. You may refer to the above rules to make it easier.

Lillian Duncanwrites stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem. She writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan