Monday, June 28, 2010

When Did You Know?

I'm curious...

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Have you always wanted to write? Or did it hit you later in life?

Is writing a vocation or a calling? How do you define the difference between the two?

Looking forward to your answers; please feel free to share liberally!

Happy Writing:)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Title Contest and Daily Diversions

Robyn Campbell at Putting Pen to Paper is having a contest to name her next middle grade book. Click here for a summary of the book and other details. Prize includes a $30 Barnes and Noble gift card; contest ends July 26, 2010. Why not hop over and help Robyn name her book? She's a sweet blogging friend and I know she'll appreciate your input.

A member of my local writing group alerted me to Debbie Ridpath Ohi shares "Daily Diversions for Writers" in the form of cartoons and other  interesting and amusing info. Fun stuff!

Speaking of diversions, what do you do when you take a break from writing? Okay, I know, writers never really take a break from writing because we're always thinking, gathering ideas, and pondering stuff. But what do you like to do for fun? Read? Play with the kids? Go out for ice cream? Go on vacation? Make cookies? Please share, we'd love to hear about it.

Happy weekend!


Monday, June 21, 2010

At a Loss For Words?

Word Help

Need a shot in the arm in the word department? Angela Ackerman's The Bookshelf Muse regularly shares posts called Setting Thesaurus Entry, such as this one on airplanes. The post contains words relative to the topic, categorized by each of the five senses. Other regular posts include the Emotion Thesaurus Entry, where one emotion is featured with a myriad of words associated with it. Angela also includes helpful hints and examples, which really helps get the creative juices flowing.


For a bit of whimsical inspiration, check out the elephants at Raymonde Fauchard's Everyday I Walk With You. Not just any elephants, these are of the most colorful sort that almost defy description. Raymonde's talent for photography is apparent as she shares these spectacular creatures with us. I had all sorts of descriptive words come to mind when I visited. Good, fun, stuff!

What do you do when you are at a loss for words? Do elephants or other unusual things inspire?

Happy writing!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

More Goodies

I decided to continue with the goodies theme for another post. Why not grab a popsicle and join me!

If you have time, check out the comments from Monday's Writing Goodies post. There are lots of good writng sources from my faithful blogging gang. Thanks, guys! :D

Agent Myths

Jennifer Lawler responds to misconceptions that writers often have in the article Five Myths You Shouldn't Believe About Agents. Lawler addresses things like: Can I ask them questions? If I don't hear anything, does that mean they don't want to represent me? When on the agent quest, we might as well be informed, don't you think?


WriteOnCon is a free online writing conference for children's writers. Scheduled for August 10-12, 2010, it is the brainchild of Elana Johnson, Jamie Harrington, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker, and Jen Stayrook. There will be workshops, chats, contests, and a lot of good stuff. Did I mention that it was free? Click here for more info.

Excellence in Writing

In her post Raising the Bar to Excellence, Kathryn Lang discusses things writers can do for greater success and productivity. Her tips are aimed at freelancers, but I thought that they have a general writer appeal with points such as "Today is the time to pursue the dream." Kathryn also had interesting things to say in a recent interview on Susan J. Reinhardt's blog Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

Speaking of excellence in writing, what do you consider key elements to writing success?

Happy writing, and happy weekend!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

She Walks in Beauty Book Review

She Walks in Beauty
by Siri Mitchell                               
Bethany House Publishers

Clara Carter is dreading her debut into New York society. When she discovers she's to debut a year earlier than she'd expected, she is not happy. In 1891 the traditional age for young women to make an appearance as a debutante is 18. Despite the fact that Clara is only 17, her aunt and father think it necessary to enter society now in order to secure a marriage to Franklin De Vries, the heir to the coveted De Vries fortune.

Although well educated, Clara is far behind in the social skills necessary to debut, and a crash course ensues for everything from identifying which fork to use when to ballroom dancing. Clara begins a journey into society, one she is barely prepared for, yet one she realizes that she must embark on in order to preserve her family's honor. Her father and aunt care little for her true happiness, or that she find love in marriage. If she is well married, they believe, money will solve anything.

Clara is relieved to hear that her best friend Lizzie will debut as well. Lizzie has been looking forward to this ritual and promises to stand by Clara throughout the process. Clara learns that there are certain rules she must abide by to play the game right and win Franklin's favor. These rules include stepping on toes and potentially alienating Lizzie. Harold De Vries, Franklin's younger brother, becomes a key player in the game, too. Will he help Clara get what she's pursuing? Will Clara learn all the rules of the game or will she follow her heart's desire and marry for love?

Ms. Mitchell writes an intricate tale that entertains and warms the heart. I knew that society debutantes of the day were often their parents' puppets, marrying for wealth and prestige rather than love. I had no idea, however, of how extensive their training was with customs that sometimes endangered their health. My heart went out to Clara, and to those who had to endure what she did. I chafed, as she did, at the expectations and silly rituals undertaken to play this ridiculous game. I won't give the ending away, but I enjoyed this book thoroughly from beginning to end.

So tell me, what's on your summer reading list?

Happy reading!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Writing Goodies

The Good Stuff      

What writing resources have you come across lately? The resources available just boggle the mind, don't they? As overwhelming as it can be sometimes, it is a wonderful thing to have good info at our fingertips.

BookEnds, LLC had a recent post by Jessica Faust about Word Count Rules. It's probably safe to say we've all had to consider word counts, and this sheds light on the subject from an agent's perspective.

Becky Povich recently alerted her readers to the Newpages site on her blog. This link will take you to the Newpages' Blogs by Poets and Writers page. It offers an alphabetical listing of blogs plus info about independent bookstores, literary magazines, contests, conference listings, book reviews, and more.

What questions should you ask when looking for an agent? Rachelle Gardner gives her advice in a recent post entitled Questions to Ask an Agent. If you are seeking an agent, or plan to do so in the future, Rachelle's input will come in handy.

Ever been to I'd visited, but hadn't actually used it until recently. It's quite the handy site, offering the obvious - the basic thesaurus listings, plus a lot more. Visitors can check out the Word of the Day, play word games, or use their Full Text Translator to translate words and phrases in a variety of languages.

What goodies have you come across lately?

Happy writing! :)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Meeting

The Person Behind the Blog

There's a bit of a theme here lately with our discussions about the benefits of blogging. Everyone agreed that meeting other writers ranked at or near the top of this list. How many of us have had the privilege of meeting another blogger in person?

Well, since you asked...I have! Heather Sunseri of Balance With Purpose and I recently got together. Since we live about an hour away from each other, we chose a spot in the middle that just happened to have a Starbucks. Wasn't that convenient? I know, I'll take any opportunity for a tall Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino.

We had a great visit, getting to know each other better and discussing blogging and writing. Books, articles, queries, conferences, writing classes, we covered a lot of ground. And it was all good. One of the best things about the visit, in my opinion anyway, was knowing that Heather 'gets' the writing life. Family and non writing friends can be very supportive, but only another writer 'gets' it like we do. After several hours we went our separate ways, but not without discussing getting together again. Thanks, Heather, it was a blessing to meet you.

Finish Strong

If you need some encouragement for the writing journey and can't meet with a blogger friend in person, check out Elana Johnson's guest post over at Sara Larson's blog. Elana candidly shares part of her writing adventures, including the rejection part, and tells us to Finish Strong. Quite inspiring.

So Tell Us!

Have you met other bloggers in person? At a conference? Over the phone? In a writing class? Share your experiences with us; we're all ears.

Happy weekend, and of course, happy writing!



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

100 Follower Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Lydia Kang and Terri Tiffany, the winners of the 100 Follower Giveaway!

Thanks so much to those of you who participated. I appreciate your support. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blogging Benefits & Contests Galore

What is the biggest benefit to blogging?  


Like minded friends?

Connections with other writers?

I've been pondering this in light of my recent one year Blogoversary and surpassing the 100 follower mark. Many of you know that when I began blogging, I had no clue what awaited me. I learned quickly that there were benefits galore.

The most treasured benefit, I believe, is the amazing and varied assortment of writing friends I've made. It warms my heart to think about it. It might sound silly, but it really does. I feel as though I have this incredible support group at my fingertips - friends who offer advice and encouragement, and who care about how things are going. It has enhanced my life and writing. It is priceless, and I am grateful to you, my writing friends. Thank you!

What benefits have you gained from blogging? What did you expect when you began? Do you have any advice to enhance the blogging life? Please share, for your input is greatly treasured. I love the conversations that come about in the comments.

Contests Galore

The Great Race Giveaway, hosted by Carol Alexander of Everything Home with Carol is offering some fun prize excitement. Carol will be celebrating her Blogoversary in July, so hop on over and join the fun!

Lynda Schab's recent post at On the Write Track features details about the Family Circle Fiction Contest. Deadline to enter is September 8, 2010, and there is no entry fee. Yay! Free is nice, don't you think? Check out Linda's blog for all the details.

Don't forget my 100 Follower Giveaway! Giveaway ends Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at noon. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. Complete and addtional entry details can be found on Thursday's post. We also discussed commenting, so feel free to get in on that discussion too, if you haven't already.

Be sure and leave your two cents about the benefits of blogging. I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Blessings to you,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hearts Awakening Book Review

Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr
Bethany House Publishers

Jackson Smith owns and operates an apple orchard on Dillon's Island, located on the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Elvira Kilmer literally stumbles her way to his doorstep seeking a position as a housekeeper. Smith, a widower with two sons, desperately needs assistance. Elvira hopes to meet his approval and secure the position. As a spinster at the ripe old age of 31, she has no money, and no real place to call home. Sadly, genteel 1840's society has little use for someone like Elvira.

Jackson hires Elvira on the spot; her aim is to eventually secure a reference from Jackson and move on. She's taken off guard by how young and handsome he is, and he is taken off guard by how plain she is. Elvira's learning curve includes using Jackson's new fangled cookstove, and Daniel and Ethan, Jackson's sons. To say they present another problem is an understatement. Daniel, who is five years old, criticizes Elvira's every move, comparing her to his deceased mother. Ethan, age three, has not spoken a word since his mother died six months ago.

Elvira's hopes of a family and children have long been extinguished. Her meager belongings include a family secret or two that she wishes to chase away. Jackson's mysterious past includes a few puzzles and even a scandal. He decides to offer a deal, of sorts, to Elvira as a means of solving his problems.

At first, Elvira refuses his proposition, but then reconsiders. Is it worth the risk? Their tenuous relationship is put to the test through this agreement, and both experience spiritual challenges as they make this journey together. Will their agreement remain practical or will they open their hearts to see what God has for them?

I loved this book! I was drawn to Elvira immediately. I could feel her pain and disappointment with each stumbling step as she made her way to Jackson's doorstep. My sympathies were less engaged with Jackson, but I came to understand him as the plot thickened. I was born in the same region where this book was set, so perhaps I was also drawn to the setting, which Ms. Parr described in an accurate and wonderful way. I enjoyed the surprises that kept popping up, and the unexpected friends Elvira made along the way.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book. Ms. Parr succeeds in telling a heart rending and heart warming tale, all in the same package.

*This book was provided for review purposes from Bethany House Publishers. No compensation was received.

Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Comment Policy & 100 Follower Giveaway

 To Comment or Not to Comment...

What's your commenting policy? Do you make a comment each time you visit a blog? Or do you read the post and move on? Do you comment only if you feel like you have something interesting to say or if the post was especially thought provoking?

My thinking is this (you knew it was coming, right?) -  I comment on every post I visit, even if I don't have anything unique or eloquent to say. One exception to this is when I disagree with the topic on the post and cannot think of anything nice to say - you know, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." The other exception is if I am super busy and want to take a peek at the topic and plan to visit later. I don't always make it back, but I try.

I've always viewed comments as a means to tell the blog author that I was there. I know, there are hit counters and all that good stuff, but they aren't as personal as a comment. There are plenty of times that I've not known what to say, been tired, etc., but I figure that even a brief comment saying hello or that the post made me think helps the author to know I visited and valued their thoughts. I also make it a point to be diplomatic, kind, and tactful with my comments. I'd never make a comment that I wouldn't want to see on my blog.

How About Prioritizing?

How do you manage to get around to all the blogs that you follow? This is a daunting task if you follow a lot of blogs. It can also be a deterrent from making a comment. So many blogs, so little time! I've learned to order my visits, particularly when pressed for time, starting with blogs of specific interest and of those who've commented on my recent posts.

The next stops include the blogs of those who may not come around for all my posts, but visit frequently. Finally, as time allows, I visit new blogs, and of course, the blogs of followers who don't comment. Why? Because I value all my followers and understand that not everyone can get to every blog that they follow. I sometimes feel bad that I've had to set this blog hopping policy. I'd love to stop and visit as many blogs as possible, but in order to stay on task with my writing schedule, I have to set guidelines. Otherwise, I might not be able to call myself a writer. And we can't have that, for then I'd be downright grouchy.


Tell us, what is your commenting policy? Have I missed something important? It's entirely possible. Please share your thoughts. If you have any pointers on how to balance blog visiting, writing, and staying sane, please share them as well!

One Hundred Followers Giveaway!

Here it is, a bit of a giveaway to celebrate my recent milestone of 100 Followers. Thank you all for coming along on this blog adventure with me. I appreciate your support, comments, and faithfulness.

This giveaway includes two books, which will be given to two winners.

Book #1 is Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller.

To read my recent review of this book, click here.

Book #2 is The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen. 

Click on the title for my review.

The first name drawn will receive first choice of titles.

To Enter:
  • Leave a comment to this post, include your email address like so: karenelange(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries without email address are not eligible.
  • Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your Facebook page. Please leave a comment telling me so.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog. Please leave a comment with the link.
  • This is only open to US residents. For those of you who follow outside the US, I apologize!
  • Deadline to enter is noon eastern standard time, Tuesday June 8, 2010. Winner will be announced here, and notified via email, and have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
Don't forget to leave your thoughts about commenting. I am open to your thoughts and appreciate your input.

Thanks and blessings to each of you! Have a wonderful weekend:)