Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comments, Anyone?

If anyone has wanted to previously comment on this blog, but has been unable to, you might want to retry. I adjusted the settings for comments and it seems to have helped.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

Blessings to you, and as always, happy writing:)

Free Writing

Have you ever tried free writing? If you aren't familiar with it, free writing is an exercise where you take time and write whatever comes to mind. It's a way to clear your head, explore ideas, and for reluctant writers, helps them get more comfortable with putting words on a page. Some people even use it to push past writer's block. Whatever the reason, free writing is worth trying now and then, just for something different, especially if you try to put everything into neat categories like I do.

The link below will take you to one lovely writer's take on free writing. I found her insight to be fun and inspiring, and thought maybe it might spark someone else's creativity too. This writer also happens to be my daughter, so hopefully I am not too biased here. :) See what you think.

Feel free to share any tidbits that your free writing ventures have unearthed.
Happy writing!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Favorite Blogs

I follow several blogs, and they are all good. The inspiring tidbits you can glean from them are endless. You never know when something will hit you and spark an idea, or minister to a certain area in your life. This is a grand and blessed thing.

One recent favorite, posted by my dear friend Susan Reinhardt on her blog Christian Writer/Reader Connection, talked about balance. Yes, balance, that thing I spout off about needing, but am often challenged in obtaining! Susan offers a different and refreshing perspective on it. But then, Susan always has something terrific to share. Check it out here if you like:

Over at The Write Power blog, written by another dear friend, MaryAnn Diorio, I found some good advice about characterization vs. character. MaryAnn always has great advice on the mechanics of writing, among other things. Visit her blog here:

Please feel free to share your blog favorites. There are so many good ones, I think we need to lobby for more 'blog' hours in the day. ;)

Happy writing!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Your Life in a Transcript

I have a diploma transcript appointment today with a homeschool parent. Unschoolers Network,, the homeschool network that I work with, offers this and other services to families who are homeschooling their children. We compile and document a student's work for their high school years. This summary becomes a transcript that can be used for college or job applications and the like.

These transcripts are a reflection of a student's life through high school. Not a total reflection, mind you, for they do not show character traits such as kindness and patience, but these transcripts do help a student move into the next part of their life. Of course, the writer in me takes this concept a step further. What do our lives reflect that can translate into writing? If we think in transcript terms, we can boil our life down to subjects and hours accrued, volunteer and other activities, specialized training, jobs, and more. Whether we realize it or not, we each have a rich past from which to draw.

Think of all the possible avenues that you could write about. Are you a stay at home mom? An office worker? Counselor, volunteer, or big brother or sister? Are you interested in sports, sewing, or stamp collecting? Do you have contracting, legal, or automotive experience? Are you a movie or antique car buff? There are trade magazines, ezines, newsletters, websites and other publications for all of the items that make up your life's transcript.

It might help to make a list of things that you have done - past and present, and maybe even things you'd like to do in the future. Include who you are - mom, grandpa, sister, uncle, only child - and include every relationship you can think of. You may be an only child but you are probably a cousin, god parent, friendly neighbor, or dozens of other things. Include your interests, hobbies, awards, special certifications, anything that you can think of. I am sure your list will include many things that you can either write a story about, generate an interview idea, or produce a how-to article. Why not start that list and get your very own transcript? Be prepared, you'll probably be adding to the list regularly, as you live, interact with people, and write.

Go ahead, investigate a few writing possibilities from your life's transcript this week. Be sure and leave your comments and let me know how things are coming along. I'd be happy to brainstorm with you...

Blessings to you, and as always, happy writing!

Copyright 2009, Karen Lange.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Self Editing

Every writer knows the importance of self editing. One technique that I've found helpful came from the keynote speaker of a writer's conference. Roger Palms, former editor of Decision magazine said, “Your ear is your best editor.”

He’s right! When we review our work by reading it out loud, our ears often catch things that our eyes do not. Reading aloud slowly helps us pick through our words more deliberately. It’s a great way to catch awkward or rough spots, or places needing punctuation. It helps us hear how our words are really heard by others, and that’s a great way to make necessary adjustments. It may seem strange to put this into practice, but it really works. I do it all the time, and remind my writing students to try it too. Even reading aloud in a whisper, if one feels really awkward, can reap the same results.

Ever find yourself extremely tired, but facing a deadline, and fairly sure that your eyes will fall out of your head if you read the piece one more time? Reading aloud has been a great help to me in these instances.

What are your self editing techniques? Share them with us, we'd love to hear them!

Happy writing!

Copyright 2009, Karen Lange.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review - Bride in the Bargain

Bride in the Bargain
Author - Deeanne Gist
Publisher - Bethany House

Deeanne Gist is one of my newer favorite authors, so I was pleased when I had the opportunity to read her new book. Ms. Gist has the ability to tell a story in such an entertaining and wonderful way. I was drawn in immediately, and felt well acquainted with Miss Anna Ivey of Granby, Massachusetts in no time. The year is 1865, and the ravages of the the Civil War are fresh in Anna's mind and heart, having lost loved ones in the war. Anna is looking for a fresh start, so she signs on with Asa Mercer to become a cook in Washington state. Or so she thinks.

On the other side of the country in Seattle, Joe Denton has his own set of problems. He needs his late wife's death certificate to satisfy ownership requirements on his 640 acre claim. Trouble is, the court house in Maine where her death certificate was stored burned down, and the judge in Washington won't take Joe's word for it. Bottom line: Joe needs a death certificate or a wife. He has built a successful lumbering business, and naturally stands to lose a lot if he can't keep the claim. He reluctantly signs on for one of Mercer's brides - to the tune of $300.

After a rough journey, Anna makes it to Seattle and meets Joe, her 'boss'. Oops, wait, why is Joe taking her to a church? Turns out Anna's contract and Joe's contract each read a little differently. Anna refuses to marry and Joe finds himself at the mercy of the judge, with only weeks to go before he loses his land. Anna and Joe find themselves in unfamiliar territory, so to speak, and the results provide humor, soul searching, and adventure. Things worked out a little differently than I expected, but it was all good, all the way. Ms. Gist keeps the reader guessing, and this is a great thing! Bride in the Bargain was a wonderful story, no disappointments here. This is a great read for summer or anytime. Can't wait for Ms. Gist's next book. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Word Count Challenge

We all probably want to be more disciplined with our writing. A member of the Clear Creek Writers (my local writing group) shared this suggestion recently. This info was found on science fiction author Holly Lisle's website. I'm thinking about doing this, even if it isn't to work on a novel, but just for any writing I do. See what you think.

Holly is promoting an idea of joining her as she writes her next book. The idea is to maintain a daily word count. It might seem daunting, but every little word adds up. Before you know it, you have a novel.

Here's a summary of what Holly means by daily word count.

Beginners: Write your minimum of 250 words, five days a week.

Intermediate: Pace Holly. Each night she’ll post her word count for the day. That word count becomes your word count for the next day that you write.

Advanced: Pick your own word count, write five days a week and post your progress updates on her blog.

You take off on days when she’s off and you’ll likely finish your novel before her (since the typical novel is around 100,000 words and she’s going for triple that).

Visit Holly's site for more specifics.

I say let's go for it! You in? Going to keep my own log. Check up on me to keep me accountable...

Happy writing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Christy Award Winners 2009

Congratulations to the 2009 Christy Award Winners!

I was rooting for a few of my special favorites who won: Lynn Austin for Until We Reach Home, Tamera Alexander for From a Distance, and Cathy Gohlke for I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires. Check out my review of Cathy's Christy Award winner if you want more info on this great book.

If you'd like to see a complete list of the 2009 winners, visit:

Hats off to these wonderful, inspiring writers.

Blessings to you, and of course, happy writing!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Writing Prompt

How about getting those creative thoughts going with this writing prompt? Finish this good old summer vacation story.

It started out as the usual summer family vacation. We left before the crack of dawn. I was crammed in the back seat between my little brother and sister. The suitcases were piled so high it was a wonder that Dad could see out the rear view mirror of our station wagon. My little brother had asked for the millionth time if we were there yet. It seemed like we had been on the road forever; even I was beginning to wonder when we’d get there.

Mom and Dad were having some sort of discussion about the map because we had taken a wrong turn after lunch. The road went from a big highway to a small country road. We drove on it for a while and it got narrower by the minute. We were completely surrounded by woods with huge, leafy trees. Mom was suggesting to Dad that we turn around and go back the way we came when we saw a break in the trees up ahead. As we came into the clearing, Dad slammed on the brakes and we lurched to a stop. We couldn’t believe our eyes...

I'm picturing a family from the....ooops. no, won't give you my thoughts. You'll just have to finish this one on your own. If you care to, send your finished version to me at I'm thinking it would be fun to share them on my blog, with your permission, of course. So come on, get writing!

Blessings to all. Have a great weekend:)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Review - Love's Pursuit

Love's Pursuit
Author - Siri Mitchell
Publisher - Bethany House

When I first spotted Love's Pursuit, I made a mental note that I wanted to read it. Judging from that first glance, I thought it might be an interesting read. I know, I was judging a book by its cover initially, but as I read the description I knew it was something I'd be interested in. I love good Christian historical fiction.

Love's Pursuit is set in Stoneybrooke, MA in 1640. Mitchell's story introduces us to Susannah Phillips, a member of a small Puritan colony. By all appearances, Susannah is a good girl, a model Puritan, an example to her peers and fellow citizens. Looks can be deceiving, however, and Susannah struggles with right and wrong, truly knowing God, and figuring out what she is all about. Her inner struggles escalate with the arrival of Captain Daniel Holcombe, who is sent to train a local militia in the event of an Indian attack.

Captain Holcombe is a puzzle to the townspeople, who appreciate his help but not his heathen ways. Susannah tries to avoid the Captain, a task difficult to do since he is staying in the Phillips' home. Susannah soon finds herself with an unexpected affection for the Captain, and the feeling seems to be mutual. But what of John Prescotte, the young man Susannah thought she'd marry? Or Simeon Wright, the owner of the sawmill who might be interested in Susannah too?

At first, Susannah does what she thinks is right, and follows her good girl Puritan heart. Circumstances cause her self-assurance to falter. I won't give anything away - you'll just have to read Susannah's story. But I will tell you that love, jealousy, and intrigue are intertwined into this tale that Ms. Mitchell artfully weaves. You'll find many surprises, happy and sad, as you travel down the path that Susannah has chosen. Ms. Mitchell is a great story teller, and I look forward to reading her other books.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Writing Site

This is yet another wonderful site for writers:

Here you will find writer's guidelines for various publications in categories ranging from aerospace, children, outdoors, to writing and everywhere in between. There is a database of articles for writers that covers copywriting, business, query letters, screenwriting, and more. Writing contests and events of interest are also listed within the site's pages. Also offered are freelance writing job boards which are updated daily. Articles are added regularly too, so this is a well rounded site that has much to offer. It is another of my many favorites. Check it out; you'll be glad you did.

Blessings and happy writing to you all!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Need Ideas?

Some of my writing inspiration comes from quotations. Sage words can be inspiring, insightful, and just plain helpful! The quotes included here have motivated me, and have helped me inspire the homeschool teens in my online writing classes. (

Thought I would share them with you.

"The best way to understand people is to listen to them." Ralph Nichols

How many people do you know? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? How much potential is that for story ideas? Often the best story ideas come from those we know, and things around us. They provide a little seed of a thought that grows into something bigger.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." Benjamin Franklin

Need ideas? Stay alert. Listen. Observe. Keep a writing journal or notebook and store the everyday ideas. You never know when they might become “something worth reading”.

A safe and happy Fourth of July to all:) I am thankful, thankful, thankful, to live in the United States of America. How about you?