Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hitting the Wall

This is a piece I originally composed for Nancy J. Parra's site - Room With A View

Hitting the Wall

Hitting the wall. Losing one’s muse. Grinding to a halt. These phrases describe a very discouraging situation also known as writer’s block. Why does it happen and what can we do to correct the problem?

Creative difficulties occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps things were running smoothly and then our story ran out of gas. Maybe we have grown careless with our processes and habits, rendering us unprepared for challenges. Our enthusiasm may wane, draining all motivation. Bottom line – we hit a wall when we lose sight of our goal. Without a clear target, we begin to drift and our story may stall.

How can we prevent the proverbial wall from appearing? How can writers apply the power of defined goals to their situation?

An outline provides a writer with a clear path to follow. Writing without an outline is like driving without a map –we don’t know where we’re going. A basic synopsis, complete with ending, will keep our story flowing forward. With an outline, we always have the option of skipping ahead to the next scene just to keep creativity flowing, thus preventing writer’s block from stopping us cold.

An outline will also keep us from wandering from our original idea. Think of all the time we save when we stop chasing rabbits! A physical outline is far more effective than a mental one, too. Our brilliantly conceived story will hold our interest if we can view concrete ideas and plans. Relying on the wisp of an idea in our minds is too vague and eventually leads to frustration. Write out the basic plot and set it in stone.

It takes more than an outline, though. The real strength of our resolve to stay on target resides between our ears! Our attitude and determination will play a pivotal role in our ability to move past obstacles. How strong is the desire to see our vision develop into a tangible story that others can enjoy? It will not matter how well constructed the outline if the story does not ignite the fire in our soul.

Is it really that simple? An outline and our attitude? Yes, because all it really takes to overcome any challenge or problem is a dream and a desire!

So, make preparations before the wall appears on the horizon and the inspirational muse goes missing. Plan a course of action and get excited about the journey. Remember, we don’t have time for obstacles in our path. We’ve got a story to write!

Friday, May 29, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

If your cat needs to be shaken out of its state of compliancy, call Confuse-A-Cat, LTD!

It was a busy week around the web:

6 Ways to Cure Blogger Writers Block- Marketing Tips For Authors

Two great articles over at The Free Spirit:
Successful book launch event tips from Ho-Jo- Free Spirit
Our Thoughts Make the World- Free Spirit

Nancy discusses branding- Nancy J. Parra

Angela Wilson’s How to Respond to Bad Reviews- Market My Novel

A new online promotions service- Serentiy Promotions

A special mention of the article “70 Non-Fictions Authors to Follow” – Thanks! - Glenda C. Beall

Ashton Kutcher threatens to stop Twittering after new reality show is announced- CNN
“It’s all fun and games until someone gets stalked,” he states.

And since this has become such a popular aspect of my Deviant Art journal, a summary of the past month's movie reviews:
X-Men Origins: Wolverine – B
Star Trek – A
Terminator Salvation – C+
Night at the Museum II – A-
Read the full reviews in my past two journal entries- SpunkOnAStick’s Journal

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bookmark, Anyone?

Author appearances are quite fun! The bookstore sets up a table for you in a prime location. Your books are proudly displayed for all to see. Perhaps the staff even makes an announcement over the loudspeaker!

Then someone approaches your table. First customer! They listen to your spiel and seem genuinely interested. But alas, they only have enough money for the book they originally came to purchase. They promise to get in next time they are in the store and turn to leave...

Wait a minute! That person is leaving empty-handed. What are the chances he or she will remember your book's title during the next store visit? What are the chances that person will even remember it five minutes from now?

The chances are ZERO!!!!!!

If that person does not have a bookmark in his hand, he will NEVER buy your book, because he will not remember you or the title once he leaves the store no matter how charming you were during the encounter.

There's all sorts of promotional items an author can distribute to potential readers - postcards, business card, fliers, even high-end items such as pencils and buttons. But we have to consider two things - cost and usability. A flyer will likely end up in the trash by the end of the day. Buttons are expensive to give away to every Tom, Dick & Harry. A bookmark, however, fits both categories.

Bookmarks are cheap. Whether your publisher supplies you or you order them yourself, large, glossy, full-color bookmarks cost pennies each. Bookmarks are also functional. Every person who reads needs a bookmark. Serious readers need stacks! (I think I must own about a hundred...)

An author who attend events & signings without bookmarks (and it's scary how many I've seen do this) is like a farmers going to milk a cow without a pail. The farmer might get a drink for himself, but there's no milk for later. An author without bookmarks must be a darned good salesman, because his only sales will be during that event!

And bookmarks work in a lot of situations besides a book signing:
- Passing them out to people we meet in locations outside of the bookstore. - Leaving them at the counter of retail outlets that stock our book
- Mailing out with promotional packs or media kits
- Mailing to family & friends - yes, even in the annual Christmas card!
- Leaving one for the waitress who gives us good service
- Pop one into every bill we send - or better yet, put to use all of those postage-paid envelopes we receive and send those people a bookmark (Yes, I really do this!)
- Give your kids a stack to take to school and distribute
- We all belong to various clubs & organizations - pass them out to members at the next meeting
-Don't forget a stack at the local library!
-Send them to fans to distribute
-Heck, leave one in the mailbox for the postal carrier!

Ridiculous? No! Put those little buggers to work! Bookmarks are our little foot soldiers, but they do us no good sitting in a box in our house. Pass them out at every opportunity. Because if we don't, how many books do we sell after the initial encounter with a potential reader?

Think we're back at ZERO again!

The list of possibilities is endless - what else can we do with bookmarks?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Author Tina Ann Forkner

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
Rose House WaterBrook Press (May 5, 2009)
by
Tina Ann Forkner

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. She grew up in Oklahoma and graduated with honors from CSU Sacramento before settling in Wyoming. She lives with her husband, their three bright children and their dog and stays busy serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. She is the author of Ruby Among Us, her debut novel, and Rose House, which recently released from Waterbrook Press/Random House.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope
Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.
She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.
What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.
A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

If you would like to read an excerpt from
Rose House, go HERE
The book link is:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073596

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seeking Fantasy Inspiration?


Looking for a great fantasy setting? Need a visual for inspiration? Another realm is close than you think!

We live in a pretty incredible and beautiful world. From mountains to deserts, this earth boasts scenery that would take your breath away, and sometimes it can appear as alien as the moon. They say fact is stranger than fiction, and there's places in this world beyond imagination. You might not discover dancing elves, but you're sure to find a setting that mirrors your story.

Next time you're struggling to envision a scene, just step outside and explore. Grab a coffee table book full of colorful scenes. Search the Internet. Watch Planet Earth - not the lame Disney version, but the full, multi-disc boxed set. I guarantee you'll see locations & scenes beyond incredible!


Where else might you discover other-world beauty?


And if you're really desperate for those dancing elves, dress your kids in green felt and pointy ears and turn on some dance tunes. You'll be inspired all right!



Monday, May 25, 2009

Author Fran Slayton and When the Whistle Blows

Today I am featuring Fran Slayton, whom I met a couple years ago at the Book 'Em Festival in Waynesboro, VA. She is about to embark on the full author journey with the release of her very first book...

Tell us about When the Whistle Blows!

American Library Association board member and
School Library Journal blogger Diane Chen has called WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS “a growing up novel that includes scenes reminiscent of Richard Peck's Long Way from Chicago and has a classical mannerism that will steam its way on to state award lists all over the country. . . This novel is fresh, smart, witty, warm, well-written, funny. . . an amazing novel.”

“An unassuming masterpiece.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Nostalgia done right . . . “ – School Library Journal, starred review

WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS (Philomel Books/Penguin, June 11, 2009) is about a boy – Jimmy Cannon – growing up in a 1940’s Appalachian railroad town, and his yearly Halloween adventures as he uncovers more about his crotchety father, who belongs to a secret society. There is lots of action: midnight rituals. Secret initiations. Hiding in wait at the cemetery. The championship football game. But there is also a lot of heart. At its core, the book is about the meaning of home and family, and the transition from boyhood to manhood. It is also relevant to our country’s current economic crisis, because in the book the local economy is changing because of the switch from steam engines to diesel. Jobs are being lost. The town is changing. This creates difficulties for Jimmy, who has always dreamed of working on the trains like his father and brothers.

What research was involved?

In some ways, I have been researching this book for my entire life. The idea for When the Whistle Blows was inspired by the stories my father told me when I was a child, about his childhood adventures growing up in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, which is the setting for the book. I spent a lot of time visiting relatives in Rowlesburg when I was a child myself, so I know the town well. And I actually spent a fair amount of time writing the book in Rowlesburg, during family visits.

One of my fondest memories of researching the book was a road trip I took with my father and my cousin Roger to visit my Uncle Dick, who still lives in Rowlesburg. Uncle Dick took us on a guided tour of the old M&K Junction, where he used to work with my grandfather, W.P. Cannon, who was the inspiration for Jimmy’s father in WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS, and was in real life the foreman of the B&O Railroad in Rowlesburg in the 1940’s. Uncle Dick showed me my grandfather’s office, the tower, the old coal tipple, and the addition to the M&K that was built when the diesels came. He even dug out some old records that were written in my grandfather’s handwriting. It was a fantastic trip. On the drive back home my father told me a story about a football game that inspired the “Championship Football Game” chapter of the book!

I also read a book about the town that was published by the Rowlesburg Revitalization Committee, went through high school yearbooks from the old Rowlesburg School, and browsed many books, blogs and listserves on the old B&O steam engines. My uncle Dick gave me some great pictures of the old trains as well. I was also fortunate enough to have my parents and my Uncle Mike, who are all from Rowlesburg, volunteer to proofread the book, and I made the acquaintance of John Hankey, a renowned B&O historian, who vetted the book as well. I did some research on World War II, and I also talked to Walter Burke, former owner of the funeral home in Rowlesburg, who was kind enough to talk about corpses with me!

Best of all, though, was calling my dad constantly with questions I had as I was writing the book. He was great at answering all my questions based on his firsthand experience.

I remember meeting you a few years ago and you were concerned by the potential travel – and now you’re all over the map! How are you handling it?

Well, great so far because I haven’t actually had to get in the car yet! I have bookstore and library appearances scheduled from here to Chicago beginning in June. So far stops include:

· 6/13 Old Dominion Bookstore - Charlottesville, VA
· 6/19 National Railway Historical Society Meeting, Silver Spring, MD
· 6/20 Hooray for Books - Alexandria, VA
· 6/27 Givens Books - Lynchburg, VA
· 6/29 Kanawha County Library - Charleston, WV
· 6/30 Cover to Cover Bookstore - Columbus, OH
· 7/1 The Blue Marble Bookstore – Fort Thomas, KY/Cincinnati, OH
· 7/2 Kids Ink - Indianapolis, IN
· 7/7 The Book Stall – Winnetka, IL
· 7/8 The Magic Tree Bookstore - Chicago, IL
· 7/10 Anderson’s Bookstore, Naperville, IL (Class of 2k9 Panel)
· 7/17-18 MD/WV/DE SCBWI Conference – Westminster, MD
· 7/19 Constellation Bookstore Signing Reisterstown, MD

So far, I have gone from excited to apprehensive back to excited again! It is a little overwhelming as a debut author to be experiencing for the first time all of the activities that go along with launching a book into the world. It’s a lot! The people at all of the bookstores have been wonderful, though, and I know I’m going to have a great time once I get over the fact that I’ll be away from my family for short stretches of time this summer.

You are the Class Secretary of Class of 2k9 – how did you become involved?

I’d followed the Class of 2k7 and the Class of 2k8 and knew I wanted to be part of the 2k9 group. There were advertisements for interested authors on the Verla Kay discussion boards, so when the contract for my book came through I jumped at the chance to join.

Your website is very interactive – who set it up?

Thank you – I did! It’s funny because I am not a particularly tech-savvy person, but when I switched from PC to Mac after I sold my book I saw that it was possible for me to learn the iMac program relatively easily. I have a fairly decent eye for design and I’d done a lot of research into what I wanted in my author website, so I just poured myself into it and 40-80 hours later – viola! “Instant” website!

Your site says you’ve ridden a mechanical bull…?!

Yes! I had always, always, always wanted to ride a mechanical bull, but never had the chance until my friend, Suzanne Morgan Williams, wrote a book called Bull Rider, which is a terrific novel that was released earlier this year by Simon and Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry imprint. A group of us went out to Johnny Utah’s in New York City and rode a mechanical bull to celebrate! I had the time of my life, and I turned out to be a fairly decent bull rider, if I do say so myself!!

And you were in a rock band, too?

Yes, for around six years I sang and played trumpet in a local cover band. We covered songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. We played tunes originally done by Aretha Franklin, Wild Cherry, Mike and the Mechanics, 10,000 Maniacs, Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers . . . it was a blast!

What’s the next project for Fran?

Right now I’m working on a fantasy middle grade novel tentatively titled Ship’s Boy, which is about a girl who wants to be a pirate. I’ve also got a couple of picture book ideas floating around in my head.

And the last word…

Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Diane! I appreciate your hospitality and hope our paths will cross again soon.

Fran's Website - Fran Cannon Slayton
Fran's Blog - Fran Slayton

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Memory & Honor

I've a guest author visiting tomorrow, so today's post is in honor of Memorial Day. I also wanted to do something a little different. I'd like to take this time to recognize a book and a man.


God is present at all times, even during war. Og Mandino captures this beautifully in his book "Mission: Success!" It follows a young man as he journeys overseas to fight in WWII. I won't give away any of the story, but it's a moving and wonderful tale. Please look for it next time you are in the bookstore!


I'd also like to honor my father. He did not die in the war, but he passed away when I was eleven. My father served in WWII in the Navy when he was just eighteen. He never spoke of the war, but I do have his photos and a box of insignia taken from Japanese planes.


From my father I learned patience and the power of reflective solitude. I developed my love of photography by watching him carefully plan his shots, which always resulted in the most amazing pictures. I love football, because every Sunday my father watched the games on TV, following his Oakland Raiders. I learned to create from a man who was a master carpenter and always building something incredible in his shop.

Thanks, Dad, for shaping and contributing to my life!


Remember to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom tomorrow!

Friday, May 22, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different!

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom....

In the news and around the web this week...

Morgan Mandel asks what works for you as far as promotions - Acme Authors Link

How to avoid mid-scene point of view shifts - Walt Shiel

Need to work on your time management? Take this test! (Thanks to lead from Jane Kennedy Sutton) - CopyBlogger
I scored a 30 - woo-hoo!

Tips for selling multiple books - Marketing Tips For Authors

And win a free ARC of The Circle of Friends, Book II...Sarah - Debbies World of Books



And words to the wise...
Never believe a black cat's song and dance!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mileage, Michelle Obama, & the Internet

Now, what on earth could those three things have in common?
They're all elements involved in my life this past week.

(I could've added cat barf, but that just seemed a bit much...)

Let's start with Michelle Obama and my DC gig...

Unfortunately, at the last minute, the First Lady was unable to attend. So I did not get to meet Michelle! However, check out the photo below of the program guide - I really and truly was to be the last speaker before the First Lady!!

I did meet the owner of several health food stores and she wants to stock my book in each one! And there was a snafu with our hotel room - the result? We were upgraded for free to a corner suite!!! And at the Gaylord National, that's over $500...
The hotel was pretty amazing:


Now mileage!
The DC trip racked up a lot of miles on my little SUV. Two trips over to the New Bern Literary Festival added a bit as well. (And my workshop on Friday was OVERFLOWING! Pretty sure they'll have me back to do another one next year.) And then I was on the road again to a small library in western NC. I usually put on about 25-30,000 miles a year, and 2009 will be no exception.

My husband said putting my car out of warranty as fast as possible should NOT have been one of my goals!

Now the Internet...

I've had challenges accessing my emails and the Internet, so add that to my road travels and I've been lacking online big time. We think it's just a router issue and will get a new one Thursday.

And the cat barf?
One of the many presents left for me by our cats! They also knocked a plant off the top shelf, sending dirt everywhere, and Rocko tore down every towel in the bathroom. All that in less than two day's time too...
Anybody want a pair of trouble-making black cats?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Author Amber Miller

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
Deceptive Promises Barbour Publishing, Inc (2008)
by
Amber Miller

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, live in Colorado and just had an incredibly beautiful daughter named Victoria.
I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.
I got involved with web design in 1997, when I was asked to take over running the official web site for the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That eventually led to a series of negotiations where I was offered the job of running world-renowned actress Jane Seymour's official fan site. That has branched into doing web sites for a variety of clients, including: authors J.M. Hochstetler, Trish Perry, Kathy Pride, Louise M. Gouge, Susan Page Davis, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson, actor William Shockley (the voice of AT&T and Toyota) and many others. With the help of a handful of other web site "technos,"
Eagle Designs was born! Feel free to visit and see our other clients.
Amber's very first book,
Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are Quills And Promises (July 2008) and this one, Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Liberty's Promise. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

MARGRET WANTS TO BELIEVE SAMUEL'S PROMISES.
Is deception fair in wartime Margret Scott must deal with this question as she finds herself attracte to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret cannot always tell where Samuel's loyalties lie.
"If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity." -Job 31:5-6
Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he often finds himself torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can a relationship built in uncertainty survive?

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Deceptive Promises, go HERE.
The book link is:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1602601895

Monday, May 18, 2009

Please Welcome Heidi Thomas!

Today I would like to welcome author Heidi Thomas!

First let me give you a little background on Heidi:

Raised on a ranch in isolated eastern Montana, Heidi Thomas has had a penchant for reading and writing since she was a child. Armed with a degree in journalism from the University of Montana, she worked for the Daily Missoulian newspaper, and has had numerous magazine articles published.
A tidbit of family history, that her grandmother rode steers in rodeos during the 1920s, spurred Heidi to write a novel based on that grandmother’s life.
Cowgirl Dreams is the first in a series about strong, independent Montana Women.
Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Skagit Valley Writers League, Skagit Women in Business, and the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She is an avid reader of all kinds of books, enjoys hiking the Pacific Northwest, where she writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.
Married to Dave Thomas (not of Wendy’s fame), Heidi has no children, but as the “human” for two finicky felines, describes herself primarily as a “cat herder.”

I feel like a cat herder some days, too!

Heidi is currently promoting her book, Cowgirl Dreams, and was gracious enough to answer some questions:

Tell us about Cowgirl Dreams…

This is the story of Nettie, a young woman who has a dream—to become a rodeo star, against many obstacles, including her own mother. She is a strong, independent woman who has a goal and will do almost anything to achieve it. The book loosely parallels the life of my grandmother who rode steers in Montana rodeos during the 1920s.

What made you select your grandmother’s tale to tell?

This was such a fascinating thing, having a grandmother who was a rodeo rider (she rode wild steers). I thought it was incredibly brave and so unusual, and of course that prompted the writer’s question “What if?” I just had to write a story about her.

Can you tell us a little about the sequels…?

The sequel to Cowgirl Dreams has a working title of Follow the Dream, and it is the second half of Nettie’s life, after she marries. Her dream of rodeo stardom lingers, but family obligations, drought, and the Great Depression delay that dream further.

The third book in the series, working title Land of Milk and Honey, is about the next generation, Nettie’s son and his German war bride. This one is based on my mother’s story, when she meets my father, an American soldier during the occupation of Germany after the war ends, and after he is shipped home, accepts his proposal to come to America and marry him. Again I see this as a very courageous venture, moving so far from family, to a foreign country where she didn’t speak the language, where she was regarded as “the enemy,” and where she didn’t know anyone except this man she hadn’t seen in two years.

The fourth book, Rescuing Samantha, is purely fiction, but my character is Nettie’s great-granddaughter, who moves from the big city to the old family ranch, hoping to make a go of raising thoroughbred race horses, again against financial and climatic odds.

Tell us about the classes you offer in beginning fiction and memoir writing.

After I’d started sending out queries on my first book (which is now the third in the series), I received a couple of comments from agents or editors, stating that my characters were “flat.” I didn’t know what that meant or how to fix it, so I enrolled in an extension course in fiction writing through the University of Washington. After that, I thought I would like to share what I had learned with other beginning writers, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and started a community fiction class. And because most of my novels came from family history, I realized the importance of preserving those family stories and memories, so I now teach a memoirs writing class as well.

You also offer editing services!

Yes, my degree is in journalism and I had quite a bit of experience editing in that genre (I had the world’s best copy editor on the newspaper where I worked!), and later when I started writing fiction, I was in a great critique group where I could hone my fiction editing skills as well. As my skills increased, I began editing for others outside the group and have had great feedback from my clients. I belong to the Northwest Independent Editors Guild.

When do you find time to write, Heidi?

That’s the million dollar question, especially now with adding marketing to my list of things to do. I’m trying to learn to better prioritize my tasks, make lots of lists, and try to remember to “do one thing at a time.” I do have a tendency to try to do everything at once—but that’s a little like walking a tight rope while juggling my mother’s best china.

What’s the best part about living in Washington?

It’s green all year around! When I first moved here from Montana, I could not believe that we had a green lawn at Christmastime! And the early spring with all the beautiful rhododendrons, azaleas, and the acres of tulips all colors of the rainbow. (The worst part, and that’s what makes all of those afore-mentioned things possible, is the rain. Especially during the winter when it’s so gray and gloomy. It’s not the best place for a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder to live!)

Your website show a photo of you with a saddle – do you still ride?

That is my grandmother’s saddle, and I’m so thrilled to have it. I would love to keep my grandfather’s and my dad’s as well, but don’t have the room. I grew up on a ranch in eastern Montana where I rode a lot, but I haven’t ridden a horse in many years now.

What does your family think of Heidi the author?

Oh, they’re so very proud—and supportive! I couldn’t have done this without my family’s love and cheering me on. I’m so fortunate!

And the last word, Heidi…?

You know, it sounds a bit cliché, I suppose, but having this book published (after 10 years in the process) is a dream come true for me. And I’m struck by the realization that we all do need to have a dream. My advice for other writers is to persevere—never give up!

Cowgirl Dreams is available through my website Heidi Thomas (for an autographed copy), and from my publisher Treble Heart Books

Thank you for visiting today. Leave a message of substance and I’ll add your name to a drawing at the end of my tour for some fun prizes!

Join us tomorrow for a Book Review and Podcast Interview at The Bluestocking Guide For a complete list of blog stops, check Heidi Writer



Thanks Heidi and enjoy the ride!



















Sunday, May 17, 2009

DC Here I Come!!!

I am on the road today, bound for DC and the opportunity to speak at an event with Michelle Obama.

This event could be life-changing. (It could be a bust, too, but I prefer to think positive!) But from the recomendation of a PR person who did some work for me in the past, I went from exhibiting at this event to being included with the speakers. I will have approximately 10-15 minutes to talk about (you guessed it!) Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK!

So please keep Spunky in your prayers today. After beating my head against the brick wall for so long, it's time I broke through!

An Ounce of Prevention Health Seminar
SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2009 FROM 2:00 P.M TO 10:00 P.M
GAYLORD NATIONAL RESORT & CONVENTION CENTER
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745

Visit the website- An Ounce of Prevention Health Seminar - for more details!

Yes, I will take photos!

(And yes, the First Lady is receiving a copy of my book!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Brought to you by the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things...

Around the news and Internet this week...

Shari Lyle-Soffe is doing a free E-Book on CD drawing this month! Shari Lyle-Soffe "Out of My Mind" About Books for Children

Amazon pulls reviews- Sharing With Writers - and then puts them back!

Wolfmont Press just released The Writer’s Journey Journal - Wolfmont Press
Orders can be placed directly through the website.
And I would like to thank Tony Burton for allowing me to be part of this project! I contributed a piece on characterization.
I already have my copy and it’s a great tool for writers!

A great piece on character conflict – Writing By Faith

Another on plotting - The Literary Lynnch Pen

Ashton Kutcher pranks CNN - CNN


And join me on Monday when I host Heidi Thomas, author of Cowgirl Dreams!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Virtual Stops

From an author's perspective, the virtual tour is the greatest invention ever. Okay, maybe not ever. But it does allow us to reach an audience we couldn't reach in the physical.

I've a couple more stops in what I have deemed the never-ending tour. Started in February. Today I am at Writer to Reader, courtesy of Peg - Writer To Reader My tour has been a little more sporadic than most, due in part to the amount of physical appearances I make as well. Two solid weeks of virtual stops is just not possible, because I will be gone a few days during that time and unable to answer comments. (We have an I-Touch, but when I'm on the road, I don't check the Internet.)

It's always interesting to see what interview questions the site host sends or what topic they request for the guest post. (Or what topic they select out of the ones you send!) I enjoy both, but once it's completed, I think I like the guest posts best.

So what aspect do you enjoy most? Interviews? Guest articles? A book review?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Author Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
Beloved Counterfeit Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 2009)
by
Kathleen Y'Barbo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

KATHLEEN MILLER Y’BARBO is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and an award-winning novelist of Christian fiction whose first published work jumped onto the Christian Booksellers Association bestseller list in its first month of release. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Washed ashore on Fairweather Key, Ruby O’Shea and her three nieces─the offspring of the pirate Thomas Hawkins and Ruby’s late sister─have a chance for a new beginning as Ruby takes a job in a boardinghouse and the girls are passed off as her daughters. But will Ruby be able to confess all when she falls for Micah Tate, a widower, wrecher, and soon-to-be preacher?
Micah is determined to marry the young woman who has captured his heart despite knowing she has something to hide. But will he be able to remain true to his vows when his lady love’s shady past comes to light?
Captain Thomas Hawkins will go to any length to discover the whereabouts of his daughters. What will his determination cost the folks of Fairweather Key?
When Ruby finds herself bereft of her newfound love and protector, will she run away in an attempt to escape her present as she did her past? Will Micah’s love cover the multitude of Ruby’s sins, or will Ruby’s duplicity cost her everything?

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Beloved Counterfeit, go HERE
The book link is:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1602605475

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek and Respecting Fans with Movie Adaptations

I have always been a Star Trek fan and was eager for the new movie. Without giving away any of the plot, I must say I was impressed with what the writers were able to accomplish. They have re-imagined the series in a manner that will attract and delight new fans without ruining the story for the older fans. The original series and subsequent movies and spin-off series remain intact, and that was no easy feat!

Consider the fate of most book-to-movie adaptations. The book is always better than the movie (unless it was written second) and usually the movie is a BIG disappointment for the fans. Part of this comes from condensing a large novel into two hours of movie. A lot comes from the fact that fans form their own ideas of what characters and scenes will look like, and rarely does that vision match what is on the screen. And some comes from writers & directors who simply do not understand the spirit or message of the book.

Sometimes it works. The Lord of the Ring movies were incredible adaptations, in part because director Peter Jackson's such a huge fan of the books.

Sometimes it's almost scary spot-on, such as with The Watchmen, which was almost frame for frame identical to the graphic novel.

More often than not, the movie falls short and misses the mark by miles. One of the worst adaptations I've ever seen was for "Flowers in the Attic."

What's the best and worst adaptation you've ever seen?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Warm & Familiar Scenes


In the photography world, pictures are either warm or cool, depending on the primary color cast. Reds tend to give a scene a warm, inviting glow, while blues cast a cool feeling.






A warm scene may include a sunset or sunrise, the colors both powerful and peaceful. It can be the gentle falling leaves of autumn, inducing a nostalgic feeling.






For a writer, a warm scene carries a unique meaning. It is that special scene or scene in our work that continue to draw us back, enticing us with warm feelings. We treasure these moments in our stories and hope that our readers will also identify with the warmth of the scene and emotions of the characters. We hope they will see the visual as clearly as we do.

One scene that stands out for me in Book II of my YA series involves a coffee shop. The two main characters, Sarah and Matt, have temporarily separated. Matt finally locates Sarah in a downtown coffee shop, but rather than go inside to speak with her, he stands outside the window and call her cell phone. I love their exchange, and at the end, Matt says something that causes Sarah to realize he is watching her. When she turns around, she sees him at the window, hand pressed against the glass, and the sunset's glow outlining his form. For me, it's a very emotional and powerful scene.

What scene in your book stands out? What moment is warm and inviting and continues to draw you back to that page?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Mother's Day For Me...

You read that right - no Mother's Day for me!

But before you extend sympathy, read on...

I receive no Mother's Day treats or gifts because I am not a mother. I've been a foster parent, and we jokingly refer to our cats as our parent's "grandkitties," but we have no children of our own.

Being a mother is hard work. It's an incredible commitment and sacrifice. Having a child consumes your entire life for many years. It adds new stress and worry as you strive to provide the best for your kids and be a good example. I admire all of the people who so willingly give of themselves in this manner.

So while there is not Mother's Day for me, I salute those who took on the challenge and slipped into the role of mother. You have helped raise a nation, and entire world of people. Without you, none of us would be here! You've given of yourself out of love and so rarely receive appropriate appreciation. And just like the mother in "A Christmas Story," you probably haven't eaten a warm meal in years!

So thank you for all the sacrifices and never ending love. Hugs to all the moms out there - Happy Mother's Day!!!

Friday, May 08, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different....

But first, a man who speaks only the ends of words...

And for another week of news, tips, and odd happenings:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers some great editing tips: Marketing Tips For Authors

Authors, are your events listed on Book Tour? Book Tour

Lea Schizas tells us how to avoid rejection at Donna McDine’s site: Write What Inspires You

Jane Kennedy Sutton talks about renting books with Bookswim: Jane’s Ride

Gunther von Hagens’ “Body Works” exhibit goes in a new (and weird) direction with “The Cycle of Life”: CNN

Star Trek opens today and is 95% fresh! Rotten Tomatoes

And I am just thrilled that "The Circle of Friends, Book II...Sarah" received a 9 out of 10, which qualifies it for Flamingnet Book Review's coveted TOP CHOICE award! Flamingnet Book Reviews


The last word today - thank God for air conditioning!!!!! We went FOUR DAYS without air last weekend, but the new unit is wonderful. Take a look at the little baby:


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Riding the Roller Coaster

Inconsistency is the spice of life!

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Ever feel like that? (Or do you always feel like that?) Life becomes just one big, chaotic roller coaster.

This month has more loops than I know what to do with - my anniversary; AC went out; in-laws visiting for a week; book release; and an upcoming two weeks of being crazy-busy with appearances.

Oddly enough, it doesn't feel like the high point of the roller coaster ride, though. It's not the actual events but the planning that provides more thrill. (It's the journey, not the destination?)

What part gives you the most thrill?

And since I am a roller coaters junkie, I must share with you some images!





Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Author Paul Robertson

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
According To Their Deeds Bethany House (March 1, 2009)
by Paul Robertson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.
But that all changes when a former client--a man deeply connected in the Justice Department--is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he'd once sold, he quickly discovers he's bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.
Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers--even lives. Charles soon learns he isn't the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife--and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?

If you would like to read the first chapter of
According To Their Deeds, go HERE
The book link is:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764205684

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

No awards for second best…

Second best to your best friend...
Second best to your brothers...
First in no one's life...

THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
BOOK II … SARAH
BY L. DIANE WOLFE


No awards for second best…

A student at Georgia Tech, Sarah Martin is bold, intelligent, and appears destined for a career in biochemistry. But her poor self-image has been masked by behavior unbecoming to a young lady brought up in an affluent Southern family. Estranged from her father, envious of her best friend’s perfect life, Sarah feels inadequate and unable to measure up to expectations.

When a friendship suddenly turns romantic, Sarah questions herself even more. A future NFL receiver, Matt’s joyful spirit and social status appear beyond her reach. Yet beneath his eager smile and playboy antics lies a young man hiding in shadows and desperate to trust again.

Faced with challenges, they must help each other come to terms with past disappointments before insecurities and doubt threaten to sabotage their future.

Release date: May 5, 2009, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
$20.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 360 pages, Fiction/YA
ISBN 978-0-9816210-1-2 / 0-9816210-1-5

"Sarah: Circle of Friends Book II is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing and moving books I have ever read. Wolfe has written the impossible: a story of real people facing life’s real issues and she does this with style, grace and aplomb. Anyone who has suffered from poor self-image and low self esteem needs to read this book. It will not only restore your faith in yourself but your faith in others." - Jamieson Wolf, The Book Pedler Reviews

“An enjoyable, well-crafted read, The Circle Of Friends, Book II will enlighten many a reader to the joys and pains of contemporary youth. A recommended, rewarding literary treat.”
- Linda Waterson, Apex Reviews


“I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. It was the first I had ever read by L. Diane Wolfe and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is the story line very realistic it is very inspirational. It shows both the joys and the many pains of young adults in today's society trying to fit in but still be true to themselves.” – Katie’s Book Blog

Described as “encouragement personified”, Wolfe’s five-book Southern-based series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles. Known as “Spunk On A Stick” to her fans, Wolfe is also a professional speaker. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in North Carolina. “With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!” The Circle of Friends

Book II online:
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

And congratulations to Bryan of the Chicago area! He is the winner of the free book giveaway!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Q&A and One Day Only Giveaway!


Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo - and the release of Book II of my YA series!


Leave a comment here (or at my DeviantArt site - see below) for a chance to win a copy of The Circle of Friends, Book II...Sarah. Those who sent in questions are already entered but may leave a comment to be entered twice! Winner will be drawn at random tomorrow morning and posted on both sites.


And now, the answers to all of your burning questions...

Although no one asked THE question!!!


How did you start writing? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing when I was thirteen. I’d picked up an Anne McCaffrey book, The White Dragon, and I knew from that moment on I wanted to be an author. I wanted MY name on the cover of a book! Took me almost twenty years, but now it’s a reality.

You are constantly, mind-bogglingly, busy. You would have to be an organized person to do all that you do. What techniques do you use to stay focused and on track?

It may amuse you to know that I have a very short attention span and lots of nervous energy! What saves me is the fact I am indeed incredibly organized. I keep a large notepad at my desk with a daily to-do list. I keep a master calendar with all of my physical dates and a master list of all my virtual appearances, articles & scheduled postings. I also maintain a detailed checklist of promotions for each book. I’m just real careful to keep everything organized and grouped so I stay on track!

What made you decide to start writing and why in the self-help area?

I’ll go for a two-part answer on this one!
I’ve always been a voracious reader, and as an only child, I possessed a vivid imagination. When I began reading Anne McCaffrey’s books, that’s when I really began to apply myself as a writer.
My self-help book was a natural progression of events. I spent ten years with a top motivation training system and devoured hundreds of self-help, relationship, and success books. Success principles are universal and I eventually felt confident enough to put together two seminars, one on goal-setting and the other on leadership. Attendees to my workshops began asking for a book, and this prompted me to combine the two seminars into one simple, devotional-style success book.

What were the challenges in changing from Fiction to Non Fiction?

It’s a totally different mindset! When writing Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK!, I felt like I was working on an essay. I had to rely heavily on extensive notes and a detailed outline. Starting the project was much more difficult, too. One still has to master storytelling though, even in non-fiction. And the nice thing about non-fiction is I did not have to start at the beginning! I actually began with the second section, which is Key Two.

Do you use an outline or do you let the story lead you?

I always outline before I begin writing my story.
However, I have usually let the story run its course in my head, as if I were watching a movie. (This is after I’ve already designed the characters.) Once I feel I have a grip on the story, I begin to outline the major plot points. As I write, I usually stick pretty close to my original outline, too.

What do you like LEAST about your job?

The detail work! Composing letters to libraries. Printing address labels and stuffing envelopes. Updating my schedule online. Editing articles. Endless hours searching the Internet. It’s these little things that suck up a lot of time and simply drive me nuts sometimes!
Everyone thinks an author’s life is all about appearances and interviews, but the mundane detail stuff is the reality.

How do you book your speaking engagements? I like to ask all speakers this in case they do something I don't!

I’d started with writing groups and book clubs. (I’d already spoken many times at business functions and meetings, so I enjoyed it.) An author friend prodded me to put together a promotion seminar and started teaching these at NC community colleges. (I now do five such seminars on a regular basis!)
What really sparked other speaking opportunities were recommendations from those who attended my seminars.
Recently I was accepted into the National Speakers Association, and it has led to even more speaking engagements!

Which of your characters would say you're most like? Did you mean to base this character off of yourself, or did you start writing and then later realize this character reminded you of yourself?

When outlining Book I, I gave Lori two best friends. As the character of Sarah developed, I realized she possessed some of my qualities. She was bold, daring, and struggled with a poor self-image. (Her self-esteem issues later became the basis for Book II’s story.) I saw a lot of myself in Sarah as I wrote that story! Book II was the easiest to write and remains my favorite to this day.

Are any of the characters based on Craig or remind you of Craig?

I didn’t intend to base any of the characters on my husband, but he closely resembles Jason, from Book I! He’s very protective of me and definitely the one in charge.

There’s a lot of sports in your series – do you like sports a lot?

I love sports! Football season is my favorite time of year. I also enjoy hockey, the Olympics, and college sports. Baseball bores me on TV, but I love going to see minor league games. Ironically, I didn’t care for team sports in school – I ran cross-country and track. And while I love swimming, I never competed. Way too slow a swimmer! That, and I prefer to hang out underwater.

Have you written a character and then later met someone exactly like them? If you haven't and you eventually did meet someone just like one of your characters what would be your reaction?

I often meet people who possess some of the qualities of certain characters. I’ve never met anyone just like any of my characters, but I’d certainly like to meet a Matt one day, because he’s so much fun!

Is the new book title the FIRST title you had in mind - or did the title change as the manuscript evolved, and why?

I was using the main character’s names as working titles while I tried to conjure up a good series title. My husband is the one who accomplished that! He suggested The Circle of Friends since the five books all centered around one group of friends. I liked it and ran with it!

What made you think you might be good at writing books?

I was always good at English and took a lot of creative writing and journalism classes. My teachers always encouraged me to write. Like most writers, I felt I had a message, and a book seemed the best way to convey that message to others. (I also get to share that message now through public speaking.)

Do you foresee experimenting with other genres of fiction?

Yes I do! I will likely stay with YA, but broaden into areas such as horror and sci-fi. My goal right now is just to reach the end of this series and take a deep breath!

Did anyone in specific play a large or inspirational part in motivating you to start writing?

As a teen, my Freshman English teacher really encouraged me to write and pursue that avenue. That spurred my writing and I still have dozens of notebooks filled with stories and ideas.
It was my husband who encouraged me to finally realize my dream and write a book. He is my greatest cheerleader!

What comes first for you when you set out to write a book: the story or the characters? I ask this because your stories have such amazing characters living in such real situations. I'm curious to know whether you think of the character first or the situation that they will find themselves in.

The characters! I always envision the inhabitants of my stories first and complete a detailed character sheet for each one. I might have an idea for a storyline, but I don’t start outlining until I define the main characters. I feel I can stay true to their personalities in this manner and not force them to do something unnatural just because that’s the story line.

How did you come up with the names for your characters?

I dreamed the two main characters in Book I, so I already knew their names. The others were divine inspiration! It was important that the names be simple yet solid. Seven of the main character’s names came from the Bible. For secondary characters, I searched online baby names sites. Several names came from fan suggestions, especially in Book V. (Some of these I simplified – Josiah became Jo.) A couple fans have been so enthusiastic in their devotion, I’ve even used their names in my books as a tribute!


And THE question?????


What does the "L." stand for?

My first name!!!


Check back tomorrow to discover the winner!
Also visit my Deviant Art site to comment as well- http://spunkonastick.deviantart.com/

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Determine the Real Problem

Attitude determines our path in life. It affects every aspect of our personality, our relationships, and our work. How we handle life’s occurrences, those little speed bumps in the road, is even more vital than the situation itself. Our reactions reveal our true character.

Attitude is how we view the world, our mental posture. Do we expect the best or the worst? Do we respond negatively or positively? Our attitude will determine our level of success in life, so cultivating a healthy position is crucial.

The difference between a good attitude and a poor attitude is painfully obvious when analyzed. On one side of the coin reside optimism, expectation, and joy. On the other side dwell pessimism, defeat, and misery. These polar opposites are easily revealed, and within seconds of meeting a person, you’ll know his attitude. If you inquire about tomorrow’s weather, a positive man will say, “It’s supposed to rain, which will help the farmers.” However, the person with a negative attitude will declare, “It’s supposed to be wet and miserable.” Same predictions, different attitudes!

No one’s life is trouble-free. We all experience set backs and disappointments, and I’m not suggesting there is a way in which to prevent such occurrences. However, if our path in life is indeed determined by our attitude, what does this tell us? The problem does not lie with our situations. The real problem is our attitude toward these challenges.

* from Chapter 2 - Determine the Real Problem, in "Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK!"

And something I keep reminding myself as we are now four days without air conditioning...

New one goes in tomorrow and my husband promises there will be icicles hanging from the ceiling by that evening!

Friday, May 01, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Today's special: Spam, spam, and more spam!

In the news this week:

Author Jeremy Robinson explains how one should market: Marketing Tips For Authors

Win a free copy of Bonnie Grove's "Talking to the Dead": Fiction Matters

Pete Masterson explains why publishers should avoid mass market paperbacks: View From the Publishing Trenches

“The Bare Truth About Writers” - those who work in the nude! (Original link found at Jane’s Wild Ride ): Neatorama


Today is also my anniversary - 18 years!

This is us on our wedding day in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Yes, Spunky used to be a blonde!)




This is us today!
(Taken last year in Atlanta by author Darlene Wofford.)


And we shall celebrate with dinner and a movie - "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
Aren't we romantic?
*
And since everyone seemed to enjoy the New Bern, NC pictures earlier this week, let me wrap up this post with a couple more from Tryon Palace Historical Sites & Gardens!