Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Monday!

Yes, Monday is here. Already. Where did the weekend go? I had plans for a clever and insightful post today, but alas, it's not going to happen. Instead, Plan B comes into play. As writers, even when we don't have a Plan B, we're smart enough to come up with one anyway. Or something like that. Work with me here, will you? Like I said, it's Monday. :)

Plan B goes like this; a nifty writing opportunity and more conference listings. So here goes:

Phenomenal Women Writers

Jennifer Brown Banks at Pen and Prosper invites us to celebrate Women's History Month in March by sharing  stories about our gifts, strengths, and struggles. Hurry, deadline is March 1. Find details here.


Click here for Shaw Guides' Writing Conference listings.

The Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference, Eldridge, IA, April 8-9, 2011

Florida Christian Writers Conference, Leesburg, FL, March 3-6, 2011

American Christian Writers Mentoring Retreat, Nashville, TN, April 8-9, 2011

OC Christian Writers Conference, Fullerton, CA, April 29-30, 2011

Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Estes Park, Colorado, May 11-14, 2011

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Ridgecrest, NC, May 9-13, 2011

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Seattle, WA, May 20-21, 2011

Antelope Valley Christian Writers’ Conference, Lancaster, CA, May 20-21, 2011

CLASS Christian Writers Conference, Ghost Ranch, Albuquerque, NM, November 2-6, 2011

New York City Pitch Shop, New York City, Mar. 17-20, 2011

Write & Pitch Conference, San Francisco, CA, May 6-8, 2011

Pennwriters 24th Annual Writers Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, May 13-15, 2011. Click here for details.

One of my sisters is coming for a visit this week. Will be taking a break until March 3, at which time I'll be kicking off my Second Blogoversary with giveaways, interviews and other surprises. Hope you can join me!

What's the best Plan B you've ever come up with?

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Briefly? Clearly?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my writing, where it's been and where it's headed. Happened across this quote by Joseph Pulitzer, which of course, provided more food for thought.

"Put it to them briefly, so they will read it; clearly, so they will appreciate it; picturesquely, so they will remember it; and, above all, accurately, so they will be guided by its light."

Wow. There's a bit to digest here. Not only to digest, but to implement. How does one manage to keep all those plates spinning at one time?

Plate spinning girl that I am, I reviewed my short list. I've shared similar before, I'm sure. Somehow though, reviewing these things helps sort my priorities and bring focus to fuzzy things. The Karen Short List is...

1) Practice writing. A lot.

2) Continue learning. Always.

3) Read. Read. Read. With chocolate by your side, of course.

4) Fellowship & brainstorm with other writers.

5) Live life purposefully.

6) Trust God for direction and wisdom.

What's on your short list for writing as Mr. Pulitzer describes? How do you keep all your plates spinning?

Happy weekend,

Photo credit: JohnnyBerg

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review - Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting                         

by Susan Meissner

Waterbrook Multnomah

Jane Lindsay is heartbroken as she watches Brad, her husband of twenty two years, walk out the door of their Manhattan apartment. Devastated and confused, she wonders how their marriage got to this point. How does one make sense of something they didn't see coming? Jane doesn't know, and is clueless as to what to do next.

Feeling as though she has no rudder, she stumbles through her days at her antique shop. One day is brightened slightly when she finds an old ring under the cover of a 16th century prayer book. Intrigued, she launches a search to find its origin. She feels a connection with the mysterious owner, for the name engraved on the inside of the ring belongs to her as well. Jane.

Rewind the calendar to 1548, and we find an equally distraught young English girl by the name of Lady Jane Grey. At eleven years of age, she is the chief mourner at the funeral of her friend, Queen Katherine. The little Lady is not only grieving the Queen, but saddened that Katherine's infant daughter will never know her mother. Politics and family circumstances dictate that Jane's slight frame bear more than it should.

Tutors and higher learning fill the young Lady's days. Jane's desire is to have the approval and affection of her mother, but knows it will never happen. In time the young Edward Seymour grows fond of Jane, and she of him. He bestows her with a secret gift as a promise for their future.

Both Janes struggle to find their purpose and the answers they long for. Our modern Jane relies on her friend Molly for a listening ear, the Lady Jane, her seamstress Lucy. Only our modern Jane, though, has the privilege of knowing how they might be connected. Do they experience life's hard lessons? Yes. Do they grow and change? Perhaps.

I read Ms. Meissner's book, The Shape of Mercy and enjoyed it so much that I knew I had to read Lady in Waiting. She has a gift for taking two people, who are outwardly unrelated, and linking them together through the bonds of hidden similarities and challenges. There's much to be said for the ties of kindred spirits and the stories that lie within. Ms. Meissner's storytelling ability is wonderful and I hope that she continues writng this way. I, for one, am a big fan.

To download and preview the first four chapters of Lady in Waiting click here.

Happy reading,

I received this review copy for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Need Ideas? A Conference? A Challenge?

The following is from the Coffeehouse for Writers blog, where I regularly share reviews for the On Our Bookshelves page.  In addition to book reviews, writing advice and other goodies can be found at the Coffeehouse blog. I invite you to check it out. :)

The Writer’s Idea Book

By Jack Heffron

Need ideas? Jack Heffron, former senior editor at Writer’s Digest Books, has a few to share. Four hundred to be exact, if you count each one of the prompts included here. I purchased this book because I wanted prompt ideas to use with writing classes. Its claim, “How to develop great ideas for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and screenplays” far exceeded my expectations. Heffron doesn’t just list a bunch of prompts; he encourages us to think and explore to stretch our skills. Having fun is key, and he further elaborates by sharing the things that help make our writing shine. His philosophy consists of general writing truths that keep those creative juices flowing.

What are these truths? First, we must “show up”. In other words, make time to write. Second, acknowledge the difficulty. Yes, “showing up” on a consistent basis can be hard. Next, joy and gratitude play a part in this equation, and these are a result of the first two truths. Heffron continues by explaining what the enemies of creativity are and talks us through those as well.

The book consists of four parts: Bending and Stretching, Exploring, Finding Form, and Assessing and Developing. Each part’s chapters cover steps to guide us on the creative path, with a liberal sprinkling of prompts. Chapter Eighteen, entitled Of Sonnets and Toasters, for example, discusses “appliance fiction”. Never heard of “appliance fiction”? I hadn’t either, but it’s an interesting way to tie fiction and technology together. Add in related exercises, and you’ve got a great start to fresh writing ideas.

This book is helpful and informative from start to finish, but ideas and prompts can also be sampled and used whenever you like. I’ve used this for teaching creative writing to teens and adults, and for my own writing adventures. It’s a great resource for all genres and levels; I plan on keeping this one around for a long time.

More Conferences

The Inland Northwest Christian Writers conference in Spokane, Washington is scheduled for March 19, 2011. Keynote speaker is Jim Rubart, author of Rooms. Other speakers include Jan Cline and Terri Tiffany. Click here for details.

The "Just Write" conference sponsored by the Missouri Writer's Guild will be held in St. Louis on April 8-10. Love the title!

A Challenge

The ladies over at BooKrushed have issued a challenge. Read 11 books published in 2011, now through December 31, 2011. They invite you to join...And, there are prizes...(I said that in a sing-song voice, could you tell?) For more info, visit the BooKrushed site.

What writing books do you recommend? Which one is your all time favorite?

Happy writing,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Inner Editor


Congratulations to Lisa Ricard Claro, the winner of  A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant.  Thanks to all who participated!

The Inner Editor

I was planning an upcoming post to discuss our internal editor, and to see how my writing friends write and edit. Lo and behold, Monday's post, Straight Furrows, generated a few comments along those lines. We're so in tune, you anticipated my next series of questions! No actually, the topic of straight furrows tied in well. Here are a few of your thoughts:

Jennifer Shirk likes to "do editing as I write. Every time I start a new day of writing I go back and re-read what I wrote the day before and usually will end up chopping a lot or tightening sentences."

I like how Linda O'Connell brings nature into play. " I am now at a point where I edit as I go, then once again when I reread. Think of your writing as a flowering bush that requires pruning."

"When I start out on a project I try and make it as clear and polished as I can," says Lindsey Edwards. "Of course I always straighten it out in the end."

So, About That Editor

Does the inner editor hinder us from getting the good words out and letting things flow? If it does, how do we shut it down? Or wait, do we want this sometimes tyrannical, annoying editor to spout off ideas?

Malinda Lo offers suggestions in this post when she defines the difference between the inner editor and the inner critic. Ah, so maybe we're getting it all wrong, and our critic is disguising as an editor. Or vice versa.

Jon Morrow, Associate Editor of Copyblogger, suggests writing a letter to your internal editor. By confronting it, he says, we might shut it down. Well, if not, it makes a good writing prompt...

Wordplay's K.M. Weiland says that we battle this editor because we don't know how to utilize him/her properly. Her post, Embrace Your Inner Editor, explains that we need to turn the "diatribes into lessons for improvement." So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?

Sometimes I arm wrestle with my inner editor. And sometimes she's off somewhere taking a nap (and I'm totally jealous). It depends on what I am writing. I would however, prefer to call a peaceful truce and work with her, utilizing the benefits and meeting the challenges of the grouchy moments. I am interested in more of your input. Anyone else arm wrestling? Or napping?


Rachna Chhabria, of Rachna's Scriptorium kindly passed along the Helping Hand award. Thank you, Rachna! I appreciate it. Rachna's blog offers her insight on writing. She's always got a great conversation going.

At Trying to Get Over the Rainbow, Jules is spreading love and appreciation for her followers with the Pass The Love 2011 Award. Jules and I both live in KY, and connected through blogging. I enjoy her perspective on writing and life. Thanks, Jules!

I'm going to do as Rachna and Jules did, and pass these along to you. Thanks to all of you for lending me a hand, and for being a wonderful and friendly support system!

Contest at Lisa's

Lisa Ricard Claro is having a February Giveaway over at Writing in the Buff. She's celebrating followers and other fun stuff, complete with three great prizes. If you head over and follow, please tell her I sent you. We both gain more entries that way. :)

So tell me, how do you deal with your inner editor? Is it a problem? Does he/she rest quietly while you write, or chatter and fuss until you listen?

Happy weekend,

Photo credit: Dsoons

Monday, February 7, 2011

Straight Furrows

“A sentence should read as if its author, had he held a plough instead of a pen, could have drawn a furrow deep and straight to the end.” Henry David Thoreau

What's your take on this? What efforts do you make along these lines? Do you wrestle with first drafts, working to perfect everything? Does your writing meander through a draft, and then straighten out in the final version?

I've been discussing this meandering thing with my teen essay class students. I encourage them to ditch the aimless sentences in their essays, and to opt for purposeful ones instead. Sharp, clean, crisp prose, now that's the stuff I like to see them writing in this arena.

This discussion, though, has got me thinking. When, while writing, is meandering appropriate? Often? Sometimes? Never?

With so many genres respresented in my followers, I'm looking forward to seeing what you think. So go ahead, help me start a good conversation! I'm awaiting your thoughts. :)

Are your writing furrows "deep and straight to the end"?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Icefront

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Giveaway, Contests, & Links

Hope you are all staying warm! Here are a few odds and ends to wrap up the week:

Giveaway & Interview

If you happened to miss the interview and book giveaway with Cathy Bryant, I invite you to check it out here. We're giving away a copy of Cathy's latest book, A Path Less Traveled. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, February 8, 2011.


The Write Helper has several contests running for non-fiction and flash fiction. There are cash prizes, but hurry, two of the three contest deadlines are February 10, 2011. Click here for details.

The Writer's Digest Self Published Awards deadline is April 15, 2011. Grand prize winner gets $3000 and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in NYC. Details can be found here.


The International Women's Writing Guild is sponsoring several conferences this year. Locations include California, New York City, and Connecticut. Visit their site for details.

Stop by the Faithwriters' site for info on their annual conferences in Australia and the United States. Their site also offers contests and other writer goodies.

Writing Courses

Another great series of online workshops begin Monday, February 7 at the Coffeehouse for Writers.  The workshop assortment includes Blogging for Profit or Pleasure, Promotion 101, Writing for Children and lots more. I'll be there, of course, facilitating the Basic Boot Camp for Writers. If you're so inclined, stop over and see us!

Is it warm or cold in your neck of the woods?

Have a Super weekend! ;)

Image credit: nkzs

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview with Cathy Bryant

Cathy Bryant, author of A Path Less Traveled, joins us today to share about her writing adventures. You might recall our visit with Cathy last year, where she talked about her first book in the Miller's Creek Series, Texas Roads, and her decision to self publish her books. Good stuff! If you missed those posts, you can check them out here and here.

We also have a copy of A Path Less Traveled to share with one happy reader. Giveaway details follow below.

Karen: Thanks for joining us again at Write Now! You must be excited about having your second book in the Miller’s Creek Series out. I enjoyed reading it.

Cathy: Thanks for having me, Karen! I'm very excited about the second book in the series being out, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Karen: You chose to self publish this series. (For details, click for previous interview here.) Have you done anything differently, marketing or otherwise, for this second book?

Cathy: The only difference was the release dates of the print and e-book versions. On Texas Roads, I released the e-book version two months before the print version. On A Path Less Traveled, I released both versions at the same time. I can't tell at this point if it has made a difference in sales or not.

Karen: I found the interaction between the main characters, Trish and Andy, interesting. Did you plan out all the details to their relationship or let it unfold as you wrote?

Cathy: I have the plot planned out before I start writing, but the characters and the story always evolve a little as I write and do edits. Of course, the story is a romance, so certain things have to happen within the confines of the genre, such as the "happily ever after" ending.

Karen: Do any of your characters reflect you? Strengths, flaws, otherwise?

Cathy: Every character I write, male and female, contain certain aspects of my personality. Quite honestly, I think it's impossible for a writer to keep those things out of their stories. And sometimes my characters are examples of who I'd like to be.

Karen: Is there a book three in the series? If so, can we get a peek at it?

Cathy: Originally, yes. At this point, I'm not sure. If the story does come to print, it will called The Way of Grace, and tells the story of a young woman trying to come to grips with her justice-seeking nature and God's call of grace on her life.

Karen: Love the title! If my vote counts for anything, I hope you write it.  How can readers contact you and learn more about your books?

Cathy: Readers can learn more about my books and reach me via my website at

Karen: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Cathy!

Cathy: My pleasure, Karen!

A Path Less Traveled, My Two Cents

Trish James is determined to get along all by herself. Her goal is to prove to family and friends that she can provide for her five year old son Bo and herself. Problem is, she's recently widowed, and is not just struggling emotionally, but is having a hard time paying the bills. As much as she hates to do it, she may have to leave her lifelong home in Miller's Creek and move to Austin, TX for a better paying job.

Trish's first meeting with Andy Tyler, the new lawyer in town, gets off to a rocky start. Naturally she can't even think of a relationship so soon after the death of her husband. But why does Andy seem to be so in tune with her needs? As if she doesn't have enough things trying to rattle her cage.

Andy, on the other hand, is battling his own set of inner challenges, and is looking forward to a simpler life in Miller's Creek. He can't deny his attraction to Trish, and is willing to be patient till she sorts out her life. He and Bo connect almost immediately, something that complicates matters further.

A good story must have conflict, and A Path Less Traveled delivers and then some. The tension between Trish and Andy escalates while both wrestle with the direction they feel God's leading them. I always wonder if the second book in a series will be as good as the first. In this case, it is. Cathy doesn't disappoint her readers. Her characters are genuine, engaging the reader from the start. I give A Path Less Traveled two thumbs up!

Giveaway Details

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

1) Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
2) 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.
3) This giveaway is open to United States residents only.
4) Deadline to enter is noon Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday, February 8, 2011. Winner will be announced Thursday, February 10, 2011, will be notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

What's your favorite genre to read? Got any reading planned for the weekend?

Happy weekend!
Review/giveaway copy of A Path Less Traveled was provided free of charge by Cathy Bryant. I received no compensation for this review.