Monday, January 31, 2011

The Query!

Anyone who likes writing queries, raise your hand.


Most writers I know don't care for query writing. Thankfully, they aren't always necessary, and there are creative ways to get around them. When I've had to write one, though, there are a few basics I keep in mind. What are they? I'm glad you asked. Otherwise, we wouldn't have a Monday post. :)

1) Get right to the point. Query readers are busy; they don't have time to read a lengthy dissertation.

2) Use a good, concise hook. Share the main idea, illustrating enough to whet their appetite. Write smart and tight. Make every word count.

3) Pay attention. Get the details right, editor's name, address, etc. Research the market and know the publication and/or publisher.

4) The first impression is usually all you get. Unless they know your work, the query is the same as an interview; judgments are based on what they see and hear in that letter. Best foot forward time - no errors allowed.

What else? Well, there are other considerations, like should a query be written before or after the piece is done. (I think it depends.) Or what tweaks are necessary to suit an article, story, or book query.  (Let's save those for another time.)

Need more food for thought? Check out what Laura Pauling shared in her post entitled Not Your Usual Query Tips. She encourages us to think outside the box to jump those query hurdles.

Hope Clark adds another angle to things (query and otherwise) in this post, Go Ahead, Talk Sweet to Me. Ah, yes, the benefits of doing your homework!

For even more help, get Elana Johnson's free download, From the Query to the Call. Elana's book comes out soon, so I think she knows a thing or two about the process.

Writing the query - love it or hate it? What tips have helped your query adventures?

Happy writing,

Photo credits: lumix2004

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest Blogger - Susan J. Reinhardt

I'm excited to welcome special guest blogger Susan J. Reinhardt. Susan and I connected online (yes, over something writing related!) and have been friends ever since.

She's a great source of wisdom and encouragement, and a talented writer too.  Lest I risk giving her the big head, here is her post...

Time Management – Jesus Style            

“Oh, no, I’ve got to be in Galilee by Tuesday at 10:00 A.M. I’m running late.”

These words don’t appear in the Bible. When Jesus walked this earth, He was bound by the limitations of time. He had the same 24-hour days allotted to us. Yet, He never seemed rushed or stressed out.

People might argue that things were different back then. After all, they didn’t have the Internet, TV, cell phones, computers, or a thousand other modern conveniences. While that observation is true, they faced other time pressures. Getting the crops in on time and harvesting without the help of farm machinery required back-breaking labor. Travel presented dangers still seen in many areas of the world today. I’m sure the issue of time management isn’t exclusive to the 21st century.

Throughout the gospels, mention is made or inferred that Jesus spent time in prayer. His relationship with the Father took priority over every other area of life. Often He got away by Himself, with no disciples around and no crowds. When people demanded His attention and He could not get away, He still remained attuned to the Father’s voice.

Every day, we face choices of how to spend our time. Some might follow a rigid schedule. Others field the events that come their way like Lucy did, trying to keep up with the candy conveyor belt and not doing a very good job. A "kick back and not deal with anything" approach appeals to another group. None of these options work well and carry consequences for our spirit, soul, and body.

So, how can we learn from Jesus in the area of time management? Let’s take a look.

1. He knew where to find guidance for His daily activities…in constant communication with His Father.

2. He kept His priorities in order. He knew from the time He was a young boy, conversing in the temple with the elders, He must be about His Father’s business.

3. With a clear purpose and knowledge of time constraints, He prioritized. He didn’t fall prey to the “I can have it all mentality.”

4. He knew how to delegate authority. He trained others to do the work of the ministry, instilling in them the importance of obedience to God and serving others.

5. The clock or the urgency of a situation did not rule His life. When he was on his way to heal a man’s little girl, the touch of the woman with the issue of blood caused a delay. He was flexible when so-called interruptions postponed his plans.

As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, he reveals more and more of Himself to us. We become sensitive and attuned to his voice, and the Word of God becomes alive in our heart. When we follow through with obedience in the small areas and see the results, our spiritual muscles get stronger. We’re able to discern between something good and something Godly.

Our task lists will be written by him, not us.

Thank you for sharing with us, Susan! If you have a minute, stop by Susan's blog, Christian Writer/Reader Connection. She'd love to see you!

What roadblocks do you hit while writing? What time management tips do you have? Please share!

Happy weekend my friends,

Photo credit: Silent Fury

Monday, January 24, 2011

Misc. Monday: a Winner, an Award, Contests & More


Congratulations to LA Musing, winner of a copy of Why I Left the Amish. Thanks to all who participated!


I think a few awards that I received in 2010 fell by the wayside, and for that I apologize to the dear blogging friends who sent them my way. I appreciate your kindness, so very much. With that said, and before I forget yet another, I wanted to thank Rachna Chhabria of Rachna's Scriptorium for the Magical Blog Award.

Thank you for thinking of me, Rachna! Rachna's blog is full of great writing food for thought. I'm sure she'd love it if you stopped by to say hello.


The Highlights for Children fiction contest offers three prizes of $1000. Hurry, entries must be  postmarked by January 31, 2011. Click here for details.

More contests can be found here, at the site. They've got a sizeable listing with everything from poetry, fiction, YA, and more.

Winning Writers has listings of poetry and prose contests. Sign up for their free newsletter to get the latest info.

Need more contests? has an assortment too. Their regularly scheduled contests cover just about every genre.

Be advised that these listings do not necessarily mean I endorse these sites or their contests. Just passing along the info as I find it.  

Promise you'll let us know if you win?

And More

Still recent guest post over at Pen & Prosper can be found here. Just mentioning it again since the original announcement was posted on one of my off days. I invite you to stop by if you have the time. 

What blogs do you deem award worthy? Care to share with us? 

Happy writing,

Photo credit:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Blogger at Pen and Prosper

I'm excited! There's a guest post by yours truly over at Pen & Prosper.  I invite you to check it out if you have a minute. :o)  

If you missed this week's posts with featured guest, author Saloma Furlong, click to view Monday's post and Thursday's post. We're also offering a giveaway of Saloma's book, Why I Left the Amish. Giveaway ends Sunday at noon.

Any exciting weekend plans?

Have a happy weekend!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with Saloma Furlong

I am very pleased to share this interview with Saloma Furlong, author of the memoir, Why I Left the Amish. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book. Details follow below.

To read my review of Saloma's book, click here to visit Monday's post. 

Karen: Thank you, Saloma, for joining us at Write Now! It’s a pleasure to share a bit of your journey with you. Congratulations!

Saloma: Thank you very much. It is a great pleasure to join you on Write Now!

Karen: What was the catalyst for you to write this book? When did you know that this was something you needed to do?

Saloma: The catalyst for writing the book was twofold: the need to tell my story, and finding I had an audience eager to hear the story wherever I told it. I knew I needed to do this as soon as I left the Amish the second time -- in 1980. I knew the story needed to be told quite some time before I was emotionally able to. I found I had to embark on a healing journey before I could give voice to my story. After several years of therapy, I started writing down my memories with the goal of publishing a book, which was more than 16 years ago. Twelve years ago, I started trying to get my story published, but it wasn't to be. I realize now that my life and my story needed to evolve more, which is what has happened, and what makes the story what it is today.

Karen: How has your family reacted to it? Have they all read it?

Saloma: I've only gotten a bit of a reaction from two of my sisters. I sent them a copy in late December. The little reaction I did get was not a positive one. I don't know if my brothers have read the book.

Karen: When making the transition from the Amish community to the “outside”, what was your biggest surprise?

Saloma: My biggest pleasant surprise was that I found people who understood me, and they didn't seem to need for me to be a certain way first. Asking the questions that boiled up from within me was an acceptable trait in the outside world. My biggest unpleasant surprise was how hard it was to get up the gumption to do things that I had been taught (and internalized the messages) that it was wrong to do -- things such as learning to drive a car, going to movies, and dancing.

Another thing I would add to this is daring to enjoy my life outside the Amish... supposedly all hope of my salvation was lost when I left, yet I found myself forgetting that sometimes and enjoying myself a great deal. Then I began wondering how something that felt so right could be so wrong. Eventually my belief system shifted, and now I realize the only purpose to instilling such a belief system in their children would be to try to preserve and perpetuate the Amish lifestyle.

Karen: Oh my, what a journey. I admire your strength.

On a lighter note, here are a few random questions:

What’s your favorite Amish recipe?

Saloma: Probably the open-faced fruit pies that I learned to make from Clara Yoder. In fact, I made many of these when I was a baker in Shelburne, Vermont.

Karen: Sounds yummy!

Favorite color?

Saloma: My current favorite color is purple. In the past that has been royal blue. The former color was not acceptable in my original community (even though it is in many other Amish communities), but the latter was.

Karen: Favorite writing tool?

Saloma: The computer for writing a book, story, or email. For writing something out by hand, I like a purple Sharpie pen. Until I started looking for just the right pen for autographing books (something that would be waterproof and wouldn't bleed through the pages or run, fade, or smudge), I didn't know Sharpie made a pen. I bought a package of six colors, and the purple one is exactly the one I was looking for to sign books with. So, that is my new favorite writing-by-hand tool.

Lancaster County, PA

Karen: If you could buy any car on the market, what would it be?

Saloma: A 1996 Toyota Camry or Sienna. Right now I have a Toyota Corolla, but I miss the Camry I once had.

Interesting that you asked this question. One of the things I am going to be talking about at my upcoming appearance at the Sunderland Library is how it was customary for Amish parents to provide their teen sons with a horse and buggy. I resented being dependent on the men for horse and buggy rides. One day I said to my mother that this wasn’t fair, the girls didn’t get a horse and buggy. She retorted that girls are more expensive, because the parents have to pay for their weddings. I knew even then that women got a raw deal… the men were handed their independence, while the women were forced to be dependent on men their whole lives long. In mainstream culture, that would be the equivalent of all young men getting a car from their parents, while the women are prevented from having one unless they get married. Even though it took me a while after I left the community to learn to drive a car, I now find it very liberating to have one of my own.

Karen: Best writing advice for aspiring authors?

Saloma: I find the hardest part for me was to hang on to the dream, even when it seemed that all the doors were closed (and locked). I had to have faith and keep hoping that the saying is true that when one door closes, another will open. And sometimes even when a door seems locked, one has to be willing to knock on it anyway. How else is someone going to know to open it? And once a door does open, we need to be willing to walk through it. For me the motto that Thoreau wrote fits for writing and in other facets of life: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

Another thing I would say is, remember that you don't like every book you read... so you cannot expect everyone who reads your book to like it. That is okay. If someone rejects the book for publication, it doesn't mean that someone else won't like it and want to publish it. If you are confident about your "message" and you know it is something that needs to be in print, don't let rejections stop you from trying to get it published elsewhere. When you receive multiple rejections with much the same advice, then perhaps soliciting and heeding advice from a trusted editor might be in order. However, we all know that writing for publication is not for the faint-hearted, and we need to keep the faith that our dream of publication will come about.

Karen: How many books have you autographed so far? :o)

Saloma: I've autographed approximately 85 books to date. By this time next week, I'm hoping there will be quite a few more. I have two book talks/signings coming up this week.

Karen: How can readers find out more about your book?

Saloma: They can visit my website or my blog. My website has an up-to-date listing of the articles and reviews I know of, and I post new developments about my book on my blog.

Karen: Thanks so much for sharing with us. It’s been a pleasure!

Saloma: You are very welcome. Thank you very much for the interview. It has been a pleasure for me as well.

Saloma Furlong



Giveaway Details

To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. Entries without email address are not eligible.

• Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
• Receive bonus entries by posting about this giveaway on Facebook,Twitter, and/or your blog. Please be sure and comment (and link where applicable) letting me know.
• This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents.
• Deadline to enter is noon Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, January 23, 2011. Winner will be announced Monday, January 24 and notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

If you were in Saloma's shoes, would you have done the same thing? Have you read any memoirs lately?

Happy weekend!

Buggy image credit: Merlin75

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why I Left the Amish - Book Review & Giveaway


Part One

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Saloma Miller Furlong's new book Why I Left the Amish. Saloma is a lovely friend I met through blogging, and I am honored to share the review today. Thursday's post will feature Part Two with Saloma with an interview and another opportunity to enter to win a copy of her book.

Why I Left the Amish

Saloma Miller's life may have looked idyllic from the outside, but in reality, it was not. You might say that her family was dysfunctional and then some. Many people probably think that Amish society is mostly hard work, sunshine, and a peaceful existence. Not always true. They have their problems, perhaps even more so since they've chosen a different and separate lifestyle.

How does Saloma cope? In this memoir, she recounts events, her highs and lows, and the ever present struggle to fit into the Amish community. What's it like to feel like you don't really belong, but must conform? To have a father who lives a tormented life and shuffles that torment along to his family?

We join Saloma with her sometimes raw, sometimes poignant memories in various stages of her life, from her early school days to her brave escape and marriage to her beloved husband. We get to know a little about the adult Saloma has become, through the eyes of freedom and relief.

Saloma's journey from her childhood home to her current life is a testimony to her strength and bravery. Stepping out from a strangled existence to a world of new freedom is a huge step indeed, and I admire her courage. This book provides a unique perspective through one who has indeed endured and flourished. Thank you, Saloma, for telling your story.

To contact Saloma, visit her website. While you're at it, hop over to her blog where she shares more of her insight on Amish life, writing, and other interesting topics.

Giveaway Details

To enter, please leave a comment with your email address on this post. Entries without email address are not eligible.

• Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.

• Receive bonus entries by posting about this giveaway on Facebook,Twitter, and/or your blog. Please be sure  and comment (and link where applicable) letting me know.

• This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents.

• Deadline to enter is noon Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, January 23, 2011. Winner will be announced Monday, January 24 and notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Don't forget to join us on Thursday for Part Two for an interview with Saloma.

What would you ask Saloma if you had the chance? Do you think you would have the courage to do what she did?

Happy writing!

This book was provided for review purposes only by Michigan State University Press. No compensation was received.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stretching, Prompting, and a Contest


Stretching our writing muscles is important. Why? I believe that it sharpens skills, enhances our experience, provides fresh perspective and ideas, and broadens our horizons. It's good, too, to break out of our comfort zone every so often and try something new. Keeping those muscles limber provides benefits beyond the keyboard. It helps keep our minds active and sharp. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? 


This is a prompt I like to use to stretch, to brainstorm for ideas, or just for fun. Go ahead, give it a try. ;)

Bricolage is a French word for odd jobs. As an activity, it has been interpreted as succeeding at using only what’s at hand. A bricoleur is someone who uses something simple to solve a bigger problem. Ever see an old movie where someone uses a bobby pin to open a lock?

Bricolage is a great tool for writers. A writing activity similar to free writing, bricolage is an exercise in turning nothing into something. It helps you think and gets those creative juices flowing.
How do you bricolage? Choose a simple object like a pebble, a raindrop, a chocolate chip, or a pine needle. Set a timer for a few minutes and write about this item. What to write, you ask? Anything you want. Expound on all the redeemable qualities of the item; think of its many potential uses. Imagine that the item is narrating what goes on in its world during the day. Perhaps this simple item saved a starving nation, helped put out a fire…or?

The Contest

Coffeehouse for Writers is sponsoring a contest; the topic is "Dear Diary" (the healing power of reflective writing). See details here.

Also, if you register for an upcoming class at Coffeehouse for Writers you will be entered to win a free class, Blogging for Fun or For Profit with Jennifer Brown Banks.  Click here for info.

So, are you game? Care to try the prompt? Please share your bricolage with us!

What are your weekend plans? Any prompts in the mix?

Have a great weekend,

Copyright 2011. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the author, Karen Lange.

Image credit: nvadim

Monday, January 10, 2011

Awards & More Upcoming Goodies


This dandy award came from Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen and Prosper. The Ten Bloggers That Make Me Happy Award made me happy too, for it is an honor and blessing. Thanks, Jennifer!

Now I have the fun task of passing it along. This is a tough one, for you all are such supportive friends...

Rhonda Schrock of The Natives are Getting Restless
Rhonda never fails to make me laugh, smile, think, or all of the above. Her blog reflects the amazing woman that she is - real, strong, and a very supportive friend.

Jeanette Levellie of Audience of One
Jeanette always offers wisdom and insight with a generous helping of wit. She's another true and bona fide friend that I am blessed to know.

Becky Lange of Inside Out
What can I say? Becky is my daughter. Of course her blog makes me happy! I am blessed to be the Mom of such a jewel.
Raymonde Newman  of Everyday I Walk With You 
One of my very first followers, Raymonde is a pal from across the pond. Her blog features her photos (which are very good, btw). Someday we will meet and have that cup of tea!

Tyrean Martinson of Tyrean's Writing Spot
Tyrean's series on blessings always reminds me to count mine. She's a treasure who always has an encouraging word.

Janna Qualman of Something She Wrote
Janna's blog offers savvy insight to the writing life and more. Supportive and kind, she's another blog friend I've been blessed to meet.

Terri Tiffany of Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer
Terri shares her writing journey and a whole lot more. She really does inspire with insight and musings and honesty. I like that.

Maria Morgan of Life Lessons
Maria is another early follower who's cheered me on and then some. Her spiritual parallels to the writing and other parts of our lives is a big encouragement.

Heather Sunseri of Balance with Purpose
One of the few blogger friends I've met in person, Heather's blog is another gem. Her blog title, Balance with Purpose is something I think we should all aim for.

Sandra's writing and spiritual insights reach out and grab you and give you something to relate to. Good stuff. I hear she's fond of gardening, except for the weeding part.

Congratulations all, your blogs really do make me smile!

I also had the privilege of receiving the Meat and Potatoes Award from Stephen Tremp of Breakthrough Blogs. What a nice surprise!

As Stephen says, "The Meat and Potatoes Award may not be the most glamorous award, but it’s beefy and it will stick to your ribs (I apologize if any of you are vegetarians)." He awards it "due to the beefy content of your blog". I'm honored. Thanks, Stephen!

I'm passing this award on to:

Susan J. Reinhardt of Christian Writer/Reader Connection 
Susan is a true mentor and friend. My blog would not be where it is today without her. She knows her stuff and is ever willing to share and offer support. 

Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen and Prosper
I'd read Jennifer's articles online for some time. Two words - good stuff. In 2010 I was blessed to actually "meet her online". Now I get to work with her too. How cool is that?

Congratulations Susan and Jennifer, your blogs truly are of the "beefy" variety. Great tips, resources, and food for thought can always be found when visiting your corner of the blog world.

More Goodies

One treat for 2011 that I forgot to mention is a fabulous interview with author Patti Lacy. Her latest book, Rhythm of Secrets hits the shelves this month.

March brings the second blogoversary of Write Now, and with it, a giveaway or two to celebrate. Stay tuned!

What's on your writing agenda for 2011? Care to share any award worthy blogs?

Happy writing,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Adjustments, Attractions, Awards


I always thought I was pretty good at saying no. Setting healthy boundaries is important to me so that my main priorities stay intact, and my faith and family don't suffer. After reading this article, The Power of No, at the  WorkAwesome site, I realized that I'd let some areas slip.

Article author Jennifer Brown Banks shared insightful tips that opened my eyes, revealing some key areas where I'd let things slide. Or perhaps never had a good handle on to start with. This writing life, whether full, part, or grab-a-minute-to-write-when-you-can time requires discipline and focus. It's usually all us - we're the ones who have to make sure we stick to it and keep going. And allowing things to creep in to detract from that, like not saying no, wreaks havoc with our writing goals and commitments.

What kinds of things have I let slip? I allow too many interruptions, such as phone calls, responding to emails, and little tasks (laundry anyone?) to distract me. The temptation to hop around online, whether to a social media site or blog, is often present. While these things are not necessarily bad, they can be major time vacuums, and before you know it, the opportunity to write has evaporated.

What is my plan to get back on track? I prefer not to make resolutions, but rather adjustments. A few tweaks, such as adhering better to scheduled writing time and managing phone calls differently top the list. There still will be the allotted break for exercise and chocolate as necessary. (Not necessarily in that order.) For me, the adjustment is primarily in attitude and approach, and cannot be so regimented that I feel completely hemmed in.

Now granted, life happens, and even the best plans need to be adjusted. This has been a challenging year, losing my Mom in the spring, my sister in November, and my father in law in December. It's required phone calls, trips, and emotional down time. My prayer for this year is for grace and balance. For what good are adjustments without the proper balance?

What about you? Are you proficient at saying no? Do you resolve or adjust?

Coming Attractions

Write Now's winter features include an interview with author Cathy Bryant. You might recall 2010's interesting interview and review of her book Texas Roads 2010. Cathy joins us again for a mini-view (my term for a short interview), a review of her latest book, A Path Less Traveled, and a giveaway.

Debut author Saloma Furlong also joins us, sharing her thoughts about her memoir, Why I Left the Amish. I'll give you my input on the book, and we'll top it off with a giveaway.

I'll be guest posting in a few spots too, and will be sure to pass along the links in case you want to stop over and check things out.


I won some lovely awards in the latter part of 2010 and mentioned some weeks ago that I was going to share and pass them along. Was planning on doing so today, but am up to my ears in a project so will table that until next week.

What adjustments are you making for 2011? What tips do you have that keep your writing gears in motion?

Have a great weekend!

Happy writing,

Photo credit:  guidenzin