Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review - The Lightkeeper's Ball

Mercy Falls Series - Book Three
By Colleen Coble

Olivia Stewart is shocked to learn of her sister Eleanor's death. Not convinced that Eleanor committed suicide, Olivia travels from New York City to Mercy Falls, CA to investigate. She travels using her official title, Lady Devonworth, and poses as a Stewart family friend. She is fairly certain that Eleanor's fiance, Harrison Bennett, is responsible for her death. Her fears are confirmed after finding a letter from her late father warning Eleanor not to have any contact with Harrison or his father. As she tries to unearth clues, Olivia finds herself in harm's way a number of times. Clearly whoever killed Eleanor wants Olivia dead as well.

Harrison Bennett wants nothing to do with any of the Stewart women. His father arranged the marriage with Eleanor to secure a business deal. He finds himself attracted to the Lady Devonworth, but cannot understand her aloof attitude and meddlesome questions. His interests lie not in his father's business but in studying flight and developing his flying machine.

Eventually, though, Harrison and Olivia call a truce and begin to trust one another. Together they begin to investigate the odd events at the Stewart mansion. Imagine what happens when her real identity is revealed at the Lightkeeper's Ball...even Harrison doesn't know who she really is.

Ms. Coble shares a vivid turn of the 20th century adventure that keeps the reader guessing. About the time I thought I figured out who the killer was, events turn inside out and there's yet a new piece to the puzzle. I wasn't expecting a mystery with this one, but it was a pleasant surprise. Although this is the third book in the Mercy Falls Series, it can stand alone. I prefer this; the reader doesn't have to read the first two books to enjoy this one. Rich details and engaging characters create a happy mix and a great story.

This book was given to me courtesy of the Amazon Vine review program. No compensation was received. 

Do you like mysteries? What do you like to read for fun?

Happy weekend!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Partners in Crime

I know. You thought I was the "Goody-Two-Shoes" poster girl didn't you? Well, I used to be. Mostly, anyway. Then I met Susan J. Reinhardt of Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

Yes, Susan is a great friend, writing colleague, and blogging mentor. But the little known fact is, she and I are partners in crime.

What have we done? Well, you see it's this way...Susan and I have teamed up to write a book together. Yes, it's true. And we are getting into trouble even as we speak, scheming and plotting and whatnot.

I cannot reveal all the details just yet, but I will tell you that it is historical fiction set in Colonial America.

Susan and I are sharing a few thoughts about this partnership in the form of a Q & A on our blogs today. I hope you will hop over to her blog and check out what she has to say.

Karen: Were you nervous about the project before you started? How about now that things are underway?

Susan: Karen and I had joked about the possibilities, but then started kicking around ideas. I was nervous because I never co-wrote a book before. As the book progresses, I'm adjusting to team writing.

Karen: I am still nervous! Susan has a lot more experience than I do, having several novels under her belt. I'm learning much as we go, and Susan is a great teacher. :)

Karen: What advice would you give anyone considering a collaborative effort?

Susan: Make sure you like each other. A lot. You'll be spending a lot of time together brainstorming, researching, and writing together. :)

Karen: I agree with Susan. I also encourage writers to check out this post at Pen and Prosper. Jennifer Brown Banks hits the nail on the head with great advice in Pros and Cons of Creative Collaborations.

Stay tuned! Susan and I will share more tidbits as our adventures unfold.

Have you ever collaborated on a writing project with anyone? Do tell!

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Lockheed -stock.xchng

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Latest Links

Have had a busy week... 

With more stuff happening this weekend, so am looking to implement those procrastination busting tips from Monday's post. Who's with me? :) Three cheers for getting writing and other projects done!

In order to streamline my week a little, thought I would share the latest link discoveries as a weekend send off to you, my treasured blogging friends.

Here goes:

Tony Eldridge's Marketing Tips for Writers always has interesting fare, from a recent post by L. Diane Wolfe on preparing for speaking engagements to great writing tips.

Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition offers a first prize of $3000 and a trip to the Writer's Digest conference. Deadline to enter is November 15, 2011.

The Worldwide Freelance Writer site offers info and links on writer's markets. Sign up for their free e-newsletter.

Over at Putting Pen to Paper, Robyn Campbell is featuring The Character Therapist, aka
Jeannie Campbell. Need help with a character? Jeannie's your girl! Robyn and Jeannie have teamed up for a giveaway too, of Jeannie's Writer's Guide to Creating Rich Backstories. Stop by Robyn's blog for more info.
The Writer's Village site provides free info on how to win writing contests, plus more free fiction writing tips and tricks. Check them out here.

Make a Living Writing shares technology tips, writing and marketing advice, and lots more savvy stuff. Click here for more details.

As always, the Coffeehouse for Writers has great workshops running. A new session begins June 27. Their many offerings can be viewed here.

Taking a break to attack the WIP and other things that are calling my name. Will return around June 27.

What's the latest and greatest tip you've run across? Got any fabulous weekend plans?

Happy Father's Day weekend!


P.S. Sorry about the extra spaces here. Blogger formatting not cooperating...

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Deadline Crunch Syndrome

What do you do when you are facing a deadline? Jump on the project right away? Procrastinate? Cry? All of the above?

I've been known to do a little of each. I also have a knack for dancing around a project in creative ways, such as feeling the sudden need to vacuum my keyboard, alphabetize the canned goods in my pantry, or polish the rear-view mirror in my car. It's funny how these things need to be done when a deadline looms, isn't it?

This "Deadline Crunch Syndrome" is something that frustrates me, for I prefer to be organized and on top of things. I hate when things are nagging at me and I'm feeling pressed, and much of it is due to my procrastination tactics. Having about had it up to here with my silly self in recent months, I've been paying closer attention to what helps me jump the deadline hurdles. Here are my findings:

1) Shut off the internet. It's way too tempting to hop over to Facebook or check your email, isn't it? I often find it best to close all internet windows. The online world will be there when I get back. As my seven year old nephew would say, "For real."

2) Minimize the interruption potential. It helps to turn the ringer off on the phone (cell and land line). I get any pressing items done before I sit down to write. Lunch? Check. Bills out to the mailbox? Check. Email to an editor? Check. 
3) Assemble necessary resources. I make sure pen, paper, files, books, and other sources are handy and within arm's reach.

4) Hit the desk equipped with appropriate refreshment. It's a given. I will get thirsty. And hungry, no matter what kind of meal I just had. My favorite beverage is slightly sweetened iced tea. Pretzels are nice too. Oh, and chocolate of course. Just in case you wanted to know.

5) Sow discipline. I like to encourage myself that I am building good habits by sowing self control and perseverance. I'm expecting to reap big in this department. :) 

6) Set small goals. Sometimes a project seems overwhelming, so I break it into segments. One page, seven hundred words, one chapter, feedback to three students...or whatever. It makes me feel like I am accomplishing something. It helps build confidence and the motivation to move forward.

7) Dangle the carrot. This ties in with number 6. If I get a certain amount done, then I allow myself a break, or check email, have some extra chocolate, or go buy a new Ford Mustang. Yeah, okay, so the latter happens if I get a really big book contract. Which, you know, could totally happen someday. (You are my friends - remember this and don't laugh too hard, for when you want to get a Ford Mustang I will back you up.)

8) Get input. Sometimes this means sending an email to a writing buddy and asking for their thoughts on a project. I'm also open to ideas, like the ones found in Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen's post, Five Tips for Getting Things Done Before the Deadline.

Do you have any deadlines looming? What helps you avoid the Deadline Crunch Syndrome? What's the craziest thing you ever did in your procrastination process?

Have a great week!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Right Word

"The difference between the right word and 

the almost right word is the difference   

between lightning and a lightning bug."  

Mark Twain 

I was going to elaborate a bit on this quote but, well, 

it kind of delivers its own punch, doesn't it? 

I came across Mr. Twain's words recently

and knew I had to share them!

What two things would you use to compare the right and almost right word?

Have any other good writing quotes to share?

Have a great weekend!


*I think it appeared in Hope Clark's newsletter Funds for Writers.

Photo credit:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review

Hidden Affections

by Delia Parr                                                                

Bethany House Publishers

Handcuffs? Seriously? How archaic! This is 1831 after all. Annabelle Tyler was dismayed when forced to wear handcuffs during her wedding ceremony. The sheriff, however, had his own way of doing things. He doesn't take too kindly to men like Harrison Graymoor, the groom linked to Annabelle by those pesky handcuffs.

Graymoor's days as Philadelphia's most eligible bachelor are over. Or are they? Neither Annabelle nor Harrison want this union, so they make  plans for an annulment. But what seems so simple and obvious quickly turns into something complicated.

Annabelle holds a secret from her past, and Harrison wrestles with his own tragic memories. Sprinkle in a liberal helping of Philadelphia's society's expectations and a legal conundrum, and you have an interesting and tangled mix of events. Meanwhile, Annabelle and Harrison find themselves forming an unexpected friendship. As if they didn't have enough to deal with!

I've read a few books by Ms. Parr and enjoyed them, so naturally, I was curious about this one. I was hooked immediately. The characters and the unusual circumstances held my attention, and I read it in record time. Delia Parr mixes up a great recipe with action, emotion, and an intriguing plot. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.

What have you been reading lately? Anything worth recommending?


This book was provided by Bethany House for review purposes. No compensation was received.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Conference Sunshine

More Conference Goodies

During a panel discussion about the world wide web, author Annie Jones stressed the importance of having an online presence to expand our reach. It is a good marketing tool, she said, but also a vital community. Why do we need a community? Building connections, and more importantly, friendships, she says, provides support and brainstorming opportunities, among other things, that aid our journey.

I'd met Annie before (she and I belong to the writer's group that sponsored the event), but it was nice to hear her insight in more detail. Annie's blog for writers can be found here. Annie's other blog,   Dear Helen Hartman, offers fun and timeless advice with a vintage twist. 

Author Virginia Smith shared how her experience in the corporate world helps her writing. Writing full time now, Virginia stressed how crucial it is to understand the business. Get to know markets and genres, find your niche, and note trends, she encouraged. Have a detailed plan - or at least work on developing one as you go, and maintain a "planning mentality". Every ship needs a rudder, after all. 

I thought it interesting that Virginia's mysteries dictated her transformation from Seat of the Pants to Plotter. I learned too, that she lives about 20 minutes away from me, so it's possible that we could bump into each other while shopping. Maybe I should keep a list of questions in my purse in case I see her at Starbucks. :) For more info on Virginia and her books, stop by her site.
It was great meeting all the speakers, but it was an especially fun treat to meet Ann Gabhart. You might recall the interview and giveaway I did with Ann back in March. Well, she's just as nice in person as she is in a blog interview. Ann's latest books are historical fiction; she discussed her research and the interesting things one can discover in the process. Primary sources, of course, are the mainstays, but journals, interviews, and even family memories play a large part as well. Her goal is to generate the flavor of the period and people to create a good, memorable story. 

Ann feels that it is okay to take some creative license, within reason, since it is historical fiction, after all. My current WIP is the same genre, and while this flexibility seems inevitable, it's nice to hear it from a real live author. More of Ann's wisdom and info can be found at her site or on her blog.

So that's my conference adventure in a nutshell. I highly recommend attending one, large or small, every so often. It's a great experience!

Oh and one more thing...

The new site find of the week is E-Junkie.Info. Okay, so I had a guest post there too this week, (thanks to all who stopped by to read it!), but it features an assortment of posts, from stuff for writers and artists, to info of a techie nature.

Have you found any new sites lately? What's going on in your neck of the woods this weekend?

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Columbine 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Special Wednesday Note :)

Hi All,
Just wanted to let you know that I have a guest post over at E-junkie today. 

I invite you to stop by if you have a minute. 

Thanks a bunch!

Will be back tomorrow on my regular schedule.

Thanks and blessings,