Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Issue of Taxes

A recent issue of Hope Clark's Funds for Writers featured an article by Thursday Bram entitled What Your Tax Preparer Wants to See From You.

Jill Kemerer shares more great information over at her blog. She offers financial planning links and self employment tips for this writing life.
Since tax season is upon us, I'm open to any good tips I can find. How about you? Have any savvy tax tips for your writer friends? Please share them with us!

Happy Writing:)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Synopsis Writing

I can't say that synopsis writing is my area of expertise,
so was happy when I saw this link:

Eight Articles on Synopsis Writing

This is a collection of articles by those in the know, including Agent Nathan Bransford. They discuss all sorts of goodies such as the importance of showing vs. telling, how a good synopsis can sell a story, and how to grab the reader. Good stuff! Feel free to hop over and take a look.

What happy tidbits do you have to share about synopsis writing? Any other good writing tips? We're all ears!

Happy Writing! :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blogs and Book Deals

Larry Brooks discusses blogs, novels, book deals, platforms, and other great strategies in his Copyblogger post,
How My Blog Landed Me a Book Deal.
Mr. Brooks points out the importance of blogging and pitching a book. He says, "These days, you don't just pitch a detailed idea for a book. You also pitch the audience that's going to buy that book."

This is a worthy stop, not just for this article, but many other wonderful tips, links, and resources. Sign up for the free email updates if you like, to stay up to date on important issues for writers. Mr. Brooks is also the creator of Story Fix, an instructional resource for screenwriters and novelists.  

I have yet to make the full tour of this site's resources, but have it on good authority from Susan J. Reinhardt of Christian Writer/Reader Connection that this is a jewel worth sharing. Thanks, Susan! .

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why Do You Write?

Why do you write? I know that you feel called, but beyond that, what makes you feel that way? I'll leave it at that, for I am curious to see what you have to say.

If you are not a writer, why do you do what you do? Share it with us, if you are so inclined. My blogging gang is a friendly bunch, and if they're like me, love to hear what others are passionate about and why.

Blessings and Happy Writing!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Rose Legacy

The Rose Legacy
by Kristen Heitzmann
Bethany House Publishers
Book One in The Diamond of the Rockies Series

Carina Maria DiGratia is headed to paradise. At least she thinks she is. Contrary to the glowing advertisement that draws her there, Crystal, Colorado, is really a rough mining town. Carina flees her home in Sonoma, CA with a broken heart, convinced that her beloved Flavio will come after her. But he doesn't, and that's not the only surprise that awaits Carina.

Her journey to Crystal includes watching her belongings sail over a cliff at the hand of the mysterious Quillan Shepard, and upon arrival, she realizes that she's been cheated out of the home she purchased. Carina's determined to forge ahead, and with the help of lawyer Berkley Beck, it seems she is on her way. But is she?

Carina cannot understand why, but Quillan's mysterious past intriques her. Beck, although politely keeping his distance, is clearly interested in her. Will his interest be enough to overcome her love for Flavio? Or will she return to Sonoma? Unwillingly, Carina becomes a pawn in the town's corruption. Who can she trust, Beck or Shepard?

Heitzmann is a good story teller, and her characters come to life within the pages of The Rose Legacy. If you like action, mystery, love - it's all there. I was transported to the rough and dusty mining town from page one.

I was a bit disappointed with the ending. While the main plot comes to a close, there are unresolved issues for Carina that are probably addressed in Book Two. I prefer a stand alone book, but that's just me. Despite my preferences, Heitzmann gets my vote as a wonderful author.

Happy Reading! :)

This book was received as a complimentary review copy from Bethany House.

Maxwell is Back!

Raymonde Fauchard, of Everyday I Walk With You shares yet another wonderful version of the January Writing Prompt.

The Map
by Raymonde Fauchard

"The map is taped to the underside of the chair on the balcony," Maxwell whispered.

What!!?” Alfie's voice registered surprise. If his eyes could have popped out they would have, if his mouth was not that of a 10 year old, he would have spat out his false teeth.  Alfie knew Maxwell could talk but this was completely out of Alfie’s and Maxwell’s normal conversations.  This was in public.

Shush! Maxwell whispered.

Alfie quickly looked around to see who else had heard them; it seemed no one had.  All other humans present were still engrossed in their conversation about Uncle Keno and his unlawful deeds; he had kind of listened whilst playing with his Nintendo DS.

Alfie lowered his voice, “What are you on about?”

Maxwell winked. Alfie shut his DS, grabbed Maxwell by the paw and ran out of the room, up the stairs, and into his room. He slammed the door and threw Maxwell on the bed.

Maxwell, you see, was Alfie’s oldest teddy, the one Gamma had bought Alfie when he was still a baby. Maxwell was the one Mum had put next to Alfie in his cot when Alfie had no way of saying yes, I want that teddy, or no, I really do not like that teddy. 

Have grown-ups done that to you?  Not ask if you want a toy and just assume that it is suitable for your age, and that you should just play with it?  Well Maxwell, Alfie had decided, was just that, a toy he had to play with to amuse the grownups, till one day Maxwell had started talking. The first time that had happened Alfie had just assumed that he must have flicked a button on Maxwell. He had picked him up and turned him around and found no button to flick, press, slide sideways, nothing. Maxwell was just talking.  

The next time it had happened Alfie had taken it for granted that a teddy given by Gamma would talk, she certainly never stopped and had an opinion and an utterance for everything!

And now a few years later, Maxwell, four paws in the air, was actually talking to Alfie about a map on a balcony.  Alfie got closer and made himself and Maxwell more comfortable and said, “Ok, start from the beginning.” 

Maxwell started telling him how during one of Uncle Keno’s brief visits to the apartment in the past few days, he had seen him tape something to the underside of the chair. (You see who would think that a teddy could see, never mind talk!!)  

That morning in the newspapers the headlines had been about the theft of one the Cocos Island treasure maps from the British Museum. That was what the adults had been spending most of the afternoon talking about. Of course, the apartment was the best place to hide it, if it was Uncle Keno’s deed.  It was on Bedford Square so close to the Museum and nobody would think of looking here.

Alfie interjected, “But you don’t know if it is the map! Maxwell lifted his big beady eyes to the ceiling. Uncle Keno, you see, was a lovable rogue as far as Alfie was concerned, with many stories of faraway places and funny deeds. Keno could come and go as he pleased, in and out of the apartment even without a key but leave a stolen map!

“Sure I don’t know for sure, but I could lay my fur on it!” Maxwell said.

“OK," said Alfie. “What do we do?” 

“We?” said Maxwell. May I remind you that I can only talk and roll my eyes? I told you because now it is up to you to come up with a plan.

Could or should Alfie retrieve the map from under the chair on the balcony?  Or just say to Uncle Keno that he knew where the map was?  But Alfie was curious. What if it was not the map, just some silly prank!  But if it really was the map, that was even more exiting.

Alfie quickly walked to the door of his bedroom and opened it to listen out. The grown ups were still there, chatting over their cups of tea and afternoon cucumber sandwiches which he was now missing out on.  He walked back to the bed, tucked Maxwell under his arm and ran back downstairs. He helped himself on the way to some sandwiches, got told off for not putting them on a plate, ignored it and walked out on the balcony in the lovely lazy English sun.  He sat on the chair, put Maxwell on the wrought iron table, stuffed the sandwiches in his mouth and started to feel under the chair. Bingo! There was something! He carefully undid the sellotape from the chair. In his hand he had a flat parcel protected by a plastic bag. Maxwell winked, Alfie put the parcel under his shirt the best he could, and took Maxwell off the table. He pretended to give him the biggest hug in the world and walked back through the lounge still hugging Maxwell tightly.

When he was back in his room, Maxwell ended up again with his paws in the air on the bed and Alfie was carefully opening the parcel. Inside there was a map, it looked very old with markings and what looked like codes.  There definitely was a cross and bone flag and what looked like the picture of an island.  Alfie was stunned

It was Maxwell‘s turn to speak again. ”I did tell you that the map was taped to the underside of the chair on the balcony.”

Copyright 2010, Raymonde Fauchard. Used with permission.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wouldn't Be Caught?

Wendy Miller's recent post at All in a Day's Thought 
shared a short exercise using this phrase:
"Wouldn't be Caught..."

Wendy was using it for her novel's MC and asked readers to share their thoughts. I thought it provided great food for thought for character development. I bookmarked the post for use with my teen writing students. I think it will be a great writing stretcher with potential as a prompt, too.

Check it out and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear where it takes you!

Blessings and Happy Writing:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Maxwell Strikes Again

Here is another wonderful version of the January Writing Prompt.

This is exciting, two stories in less than one week! Feel free to jump on the bandwagon if you're so inclined:)

This version was written by Cecelia Lester of Following My King.

This Is A Test
by Cecelia Lester

            “The map is taped to the underside of the chair on the balcony.” Maxwell whispered.

            I looked at him with a question in my eyes. Our captors across the room eyed us with disdain. 

            My question, simply put, was: How did our butler know the map interested us? My husband Gavin owns a company that manufactures armaments for the federal government. His office building has a security force that patrols each floor. In order to get inside the building, each person has to have an electronic card to scan with a  picture ID issued by the ATF.

            For security and personal privacy reasons, we have a non-published phone number. But somehow a car followed him home tonight.

            These three strange men barged into our house just after he entered the house. They brandished guns and ordered us to do as they say. One of them exited the foyer and returned with Maxwell, our butler, in tow.

            “You know what we want.” The biggest of the men yelled. 

            “Take what you want!  I’ll open the safe.” My husband Derek begged them.

            “We don’t want your money.” The ring leader shouted.

            “You can take my wife’s jewelry, just please don’t hurt us.” Derek’s voice quivered.

            “You have the plans for the TW6 here. We want them.” 

            “I don’t bring things from the office home. I can’t.” Derek became frantic. All at once we heard a voice outside our house.

            “This is the FBI, come out. We have the house surrounded.” 

            Our trio of intruders started firing at the agents outside. The FBI people returned fire, winging each of our captors.

            After things settled down, Derek confessed to the investigators. He had removed a map of the area from his office. The map was not what was important. Embedded in the map was a microchip containing the plans for the TW6. 

            “I received a call from Washington. An FBI agent said the ATF needed to do a security check on the company.” Derek looked at me. “I’m sorry to involve you in this.”

            “All that is true.” Maxwell spoke up. “I was the agent who called Derek. The microchip is a phony. We set that up to see who would take the bait. We knew there were people inside the company who weren’t loyal to our side.”

            This incident with the intruders took place three months ago. Maxwell has returned to Washington and we now have a real butler.

Copyright 2010, Cecelia Lester. Used with permission.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Maxwell and the Map

Here's the first story from the January Writing Prompt!                         

This story is by Susan Wicker, from Writing Straight From the Heart.
I enjoyed her story, and I think you might too.                                      

The Map by Susan Wicker 

Rays of brilliant sunshine flooded the balcony, making it impossible to  hide. Maxwell peeked around the corner of the French doors and sighed.

“How am I ever going to get to that map?” He asked. He retreated to the mouse hole under the buffet in the dining room.  His stomach rumbled in hunger.

Why had he ever agreed to come to visit his cousin? At least back home on the farm there was plenty to eat.  The barn there was filled with all kinds of scraps as well as puddles of warm milk from the cows. The farmer’s garden was paradise!  One could eat until it felt like one’s stomach was going to burst and nobody cared.

Here, in the city, it was slim pickings.  The maid cleaned off the table immediately after the family ate and left not a single crumb . Maxwell knew because he tried, many times, to find a snack in the dining room but had absolutely no luck at all.

To add insult to injury, there were all kinds of huge steel and wooden traps placed around the house that could do some serious damage or even kill!  If Maxwell ventured anywhere near those death machines, his whole body went into a massive tremble.

He was sulking in the mouse house living room when his chunky  cousin, Matilda, came waddling through the mouse hole to visit.

“Where’s the food?” she asked. 

“I couldn’t get any,” Maxwell said, tears suddenly stinging his eyes. He felt like a failure.  He had tried to get to the patio where Cousin Hector Mouse had left a map to the house pantry but it was too sunny out there to chance it.

 “Come on,” ordered Matilda. “Show me the balcony.” 

Maxwell and Matilda quietly made their way to the French doors in the dining room.

 “Where’s the map?” she said.

 “The map is taped to the underside of the chair on the balcony,” Maxwell whispered.

Matilda then asked Maxwell to do a very daring thing. Out on the balcony railing sat Westminister, the family’s tom cat.

“You distract Westminister while I get the map,”  Matilda told Maxwell.

Not wanting to seem like a wimp, Maxwell  started tiptoeing out to the balcony.  His heart was beating so hard it sounded like a drum in his ears.  He looked around to make sure Matilda was heading toward the chair with the map.  It was all systems go.

Westminister was sound asleep but could spring into action at the slightest sound.. Matilda made her way up the leg of the chair with the map.

Rrrrrrip. Rrrrrrrip.  She began to untape the map to the pantry from the underside of the chair.  Westminister shifted his big gray body on the balcony edge. Maxwell felt beads of sweat  forming above his eyes. He kept swallowing, praying that the big cat would stay asleep. 

“All this for a meal,” he thought.

Maxwell sat right near Westminister’s tail, ready to bite it with all his might if the cat woke up.  He nodded to Matilda to let her know everything was under control.

Matilda had the map in her mouth and inched her way back through the French doors and scurried to the mouse hole under the buffet. 

Suddenly Westminister stirred.  Maxwell turned around on the balcony ledge and ran faster than he’d ever run in his entire life. Down the ledge he went with Westminister right behind him. That doggone cat  heard the mouse and was determined to have a nice, mid-morning snack.

Maxwell made it to the mouse hole just in the knick of  time. Westminister’s whiskers where sticking into the mouse house dining room but there was no way he could go any farther. Westminister retreated in defeat to the balcony ledge.

Maxwell and Matilda, both now ecstatic as well as famished,  followed the map’s underground tunnel to the pantry and their efforts were well rewarded. Fat round cheeses, freshly baked cherry and blueberry pies, a big bowl of chocolate pudding, and a tray of sandwiches were all there on only one shelf. All kinds of other treats covered other shelves.

Nibble, nibble, nibble. The two mice ate until they could eat no more. They crept back to the mouse house with very full bellies.

Maxwell laid down on his mound of straw and patted his tummy. 

“Matilda, I’m sure glad you got that map,” he said but Matilda never heard a word. She was fast asleep and snoring, almost as loud as the cat. And that's how Matilda and Maxwell spent the entire afternoon.

Copyright 2010, Susan Wicker. Used with permission.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January Writing Prompt

It's about time for another writing prompt, don't you think? Use the following quote, either to open or within the context of a flash fiction story.

"The map is taped to the underside of the chair on the balcony," Maxwell whispered.

Who is Maxwell? Why is he whispering? Who is he talking to? Why is there a map taped to the chair? Where does the map lead? Tell us, tell us! I await your response, and hope that maybe you will grant me permission to share your story here. It's okay if if you choose not to, but my readers and I sure do like a good story. You retain all story rights, of course. Email me at

Blessings and Happy Writing! :)

Copyright 2010, Karen Lange.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The One Day Way Winner

Congratulations to Susan Wicker, who is the winner of the giveaway!

Thanks to all who participated. To read my review of this inspiring book, click here. 

Happy Weekend! :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Writing Opportunities

In the mood for an inspiring writing project for the new year? Dayle Shockley, over at Write On Write On shares writing opportunities from Chicken Soup for the Soul and a Cup of Comfort. If you're interested, check the link out soon, as some of the submission deadlines end this month.

Let me know if you get accepted; I'd love to share the news here. Have you had anything accepted elsewhere this month? Share it with us, we'd love to give you some applause!

Blessings and Happy Writing:)

Monday, January 4, 2010

The One Day Way Review and Giveaway

The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

The One Day Way Blog Tour begins today and I am blessed to be a part of it:)
I love this book! I don't say that about many books, particularly non fiction ones, but this one is a keeper. This is not just another weight loss book; it's an encouraging manual that tells readers how to make a positive and lasting change. The premise is this, take success and failure as part of life, and don’t get hung up if you stumble. Jump back into the game and move forward, one day at a time – The One Day Way.

Chantel has been there, she struggled with weight issues for years. Finally she lost 200 pounds and kept it off. She knows what it feels like to be desperate for change, and yet powerless to achieve it. Her practical approach tells us not to get hung up on past mistakes but to move forward, focusing on small steps and successes. How many of us are trapped, listening to and believing that we cannot lose weight and cannot get past our mistakes? It’s a lie from the enemy, Chantel says, and “You need to ditch that lie.”

The thing that struck me about her comments about “that lie” was how true this is in other areas of our lives too. The devil has us believing that we’ll never achieve or overcome this or that. It is bondage, and God has better things for us. Chantel outlines the thinking and motivation behind this bondage, and shares the tools to break free.

Faith, Food, and Fitness – these are the foundational principles upon which new thought patterns, habits, and lives are built. Not only must actions change, but the way we think about ourselves, goals, and achievements must change too. Rebuild your life with good tools, Chantel says, and you will achieve the right kind of success.

Bite sized, daily, achievable goals are the ones that build success and are easier to stick with. They are also the ones that are easiest to jump back into if we slip up. Chantel shares nutritional and practical tips to maintain this bite sized success. She also shares The Ten Commandments of The One Day Way to Eat for Weight Loss and Fitness. This includes exercise tips and illustrations.

The One Day Way shares Chantel Hobbs’ desire to help anyone struggling with weight issues. As I read, I felt as though she was cheering me on, saying “You can do this!” And while I don’t have 200 pounds to lose, I wouldn’t mind shedding a few excess ones. I now feel like I really have the tools and the insight I need to move ahead and make a good and lasting change. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in losing weight. It can be done, and it can be done well The One Day Way.

This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Now for the Blog Tour Giveaway - WaterBrook Multnomah provided an additional copy for the giveaway, wasn't that nice? This will be my first official Giveaway of 2010. How exciting!

If you would like to participate, please leave a comment with your name and email address format: karenelange(at)gmail(dot)com. Deadline to enter is Friday, January 8, 2010 at noon Eastern Standard Time. Drawing will be held Friday afternoon and our happy winner will be notified via email. Entries are limited to United States residents only.

Thanks and Blessings!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Awards! Awards!

The year has barely started and I've been abundantly blessed in the award department.

I just got word that Charity at the Giveaway Lady blessed me with the Honest Scrap Award! Charity's blog has all sorts of fun giveaways and links. I love stopping to see what goodies she's posted. Thank you Charity, for your sweet gift, it means a lot to me.

Honest Scrap Award winners are encouraged to share ten things about themselves. Lest I bore you with too many "Karen facts", how about we turn the tables? I'm going to ask ten questions for you to answer. Feel free to share any or all in your comments.

1) What is your favorite genre of book to read?
2) What kind of writing do you enjoy most?
3) What interesting things are there to do and see where you live?
4) What was the last thing that you wrote?
5) Who are your favorite authors?
6) What kind of music do you like?
7) Is there any person in particular who inspired you to write?
8) Did you write much when you were a child?
9) What other things do you like to do besides writing?
10) If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be?

Audience of One, penned by Jeanette Levellie is another wonderful stop in the blog world. Jeannette recently passed the Inspiration Award on to all her readers. I thought this was rather nice since I happen to be one of them! I appreciate this award very much. What an honor to be a part of this lovely and inspiring network of blogs.
I hope that Jeanette doesn't mind if I borrow her idea. I would like to pass both of these awards onto all of my readers. You inspire and support me and I appreciate that more than words can say. Imagine that, a writer at a loss for words! :)

I treasure all of you, and thank the Lord that He saw fit to cause our paths to cross. Each one of you is a wonderful gift. Thank you for your support, kindness, and love. You are a blessing.

My prayer for you this year is inspired by Psalm 32:8.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye."

I pray you that will have the guidance and wisdom you need in every situation and in every facet of your life.

Hugs and blessings to you:)