Thursday, June 28, 2012

Speaking of Interviews

Just in case you wanted to know, interviews are the theme of the week.

 Monday's post included an interview and giveaway with author Jeanette Levellie

Today, Jennifer Brown Banks interviewed me at the  

Care to grab a cup of coffee or tea and join us?

Which color cup will you choose? :)

Happy weekend,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interview with Jeanette Levellie

      Jeanette Levellie is here today to share a bit of her insight and trademark wit and wisdom. I am excited! 
      I met Jen shortly after I started blogging; she's a faithful friend and delightful writing buddy who always makes me laugh. Her book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top hit the shelves this spring and is a big hit. It is currently in the #10 slot for Christian Humor/Family/Parenting on Amazon. 

Jen's generously offered a copy of her book for a giveaway. Details on that and her $100 Gift Card Giveaway follow the interview.


Karen: Welcome, Jen! Congratulations on your book's success. I imagine you are pretty excited. When did you start writing for publication?

Jen: Thank you, I am! It's great to be here. When my son was a baby, I wrote several poems for La Leche League, which they published in their international calendars.  I was thrilled to see my work in print, delighted that people all over the globe were reading it. LLL offered me a job editing the newsletter for our local region, but I turned them down, since I had two small children at the time, and wanted to devote all my time to them. When they were a bit older, I started writing for a large church’s daily devotional, and then my first article, Felines: Friend or Foe? was published by an educational magazine. Since then I’ve had hundreds of columns, articles, and stories published. Several of the columns I wrote for our local newspaper are included in my book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.

Karen: What is Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top about? 

Jen: It is a light-hearted look at God’s enormous heart. I’ve taken 72 stories of everyday battles, brouhahas, bliss, and added a touch of humor. My goal is to make you laugh, help you like yourself, and enable you to receive God’s love. I’ve aimed it primarily at Christians, but it has some “salt” sprinkled in it as well, to make pre-believers thirsty to know Jesus.

Karen: Where did you find the inspiration for your stories? 

Jen: Mostly from stupid things I’ve done or messes I’ve gotten myself into. I share what I’ve learned about God’s bottomless grace from my own misadventures. I also love to observe other people’s nutty behavior, and draw funny conclusions from those. Every happening and encounter in my life is a potential story to write about, and I see humor in nearly everything and everybody. So be careful if you ever hang out with me—I may use you in my next book! 

Karen: I'll have to remember that. :) I'm curious about the process of finding an agent. How did you find yours?

Jen: I went to the Write to Publish conference in Wheaton, IL. I did what they told me to do, and researched the staff ahead of time. I picked out Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary as my top choice, since she represented non-fiction writers, and she looked like a gentle soul. I had no idea she was also a pastor’s wife, like myself. When I met with her, we just clicked. It had to be the Holy Spirit guiding my steps, because she is the perfect agent for me. She gets my nutty sense of humor, and we’ve become great friends and prayer partners. But you really must do your homework on this one. It’s better to have no agent than a bad one. You can check out a potential agent on a website called Preditors and Editors. Also, find out some of the authors they represent, and interview them. 

Karen: Thanks for the info and for joining us today. It's been a pleasure! Wishing you much success with all your writing endeavors. :)

Jen: Thank you, and thanks for having me!

Stop by Jen's blog or Facebook page; she'd love to see you. Don't forget to check out her $100 Gift Card Giveaway.

For more info on Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top, click here. To read my review, go here.

Book Giveaway 

Jen has offered a copy of her book, either in Kindle, hard copy, or pdf file. Here are the details: 
  • You must be a follower and leave a comment, with your email address.  
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST, Friday, June 29, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, July 2, 2012.

Do you have any questions for Jeanette? What are you reading now?

Happy writing,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Across the Table

As I assembled questions for upcoming author interviews, 

I thought about how nice it would be to interview all of you. 

The diversity of talent, interests, and personalities among us is remarkable, 

and it would be fun to learn more about each other in a virtual visit.

What if I offered a handful of questions, and you could share answers in the comments?

We could imagine we were sitting across the table from each other.

Please feel free to answer any, all, or none of the questions. No pressure. :)

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

 What writing projects are you working on now?

What is one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?

Do you prefer coffee or tea? Chocolate or vanilla? 

Now you can say you were interviewed on a blog this week.

Looking forward to reading your answers. 

Have a wonderful weekend,


P.S. I'll post my answers in the comments. :)

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Overstating Overrated?

“Do not overstate. When you overstate, the reader will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in his mind because he has lost confidence in your judgment or your poise. 

Overstatement is one of the common faults. A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, diminishes the whole, and a single carefree superlative has the power to destroy, for the reader, the object of the writer’s enthusiasm.”

Strunk and White in The Elements of Style

We can always count on Strunk and White to warn of pesky pitfalls, can't we?

Pondering this, I considered misused basics, such as: 

I think Strunk and White would concur; using an abundance of capitalized words for emphasis is not a good thing. 

Indulge my illustrations. :)

Which is better, this:

I KNOW you’ll AGREE with ME when I SAY that we MUST put an END to THESE ATROCITIES.

Or this?

We must stop the atrocities.

I've gotten emails loaded with similar content. The extreme capital emphasis is distracting. My interest in the message wanes, and I feel like I'm being coerced into taking it seriously. 

Making a point is necessary and commendable, but I think it there is a better way, particularly for professional results. As Strunk and White state, overemphasis equals lost impact.

While we're on the subject, how about the

Exclamation Mark!

Is it just me, or does the exclamation mark suffer from overuse too?

Its true purpose, of course, is for commands or exclamations, like:

Stop!                     Hooray!                Wait!                     Halleluiah!                          

It's one thing to use them for informal correspondence, such as emails, texts, and blog comments. But I've noticed their generous use elsewhere, and I wonder, how excitement worthy are these statements? Are we "shouting" when simply stating will do?

One veteran writer's take on the subject advised counting the number of times the exclamation mark is used in a piece. He then said to eliminate all but one, and prudently consider even the lone remainder. He asked, is such emphasis necessary?

Makes me pause before tapping the exclamation mark key, you know? 

I don't have a problem using either of these elements in the right place, but I think balance is essential.

What do you think?

Can you recall any examples of overstating?

Do grammar mishaps jump out and remind you to articulate your prose?
Happy writing,

Copyright 2012. No part of this blog or post may be reproduced without prior written permission from the author, Karen Lange.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday's This and That

I have goodies to share, and what better day than on a Thursday? :)

Peter Bowerman of The Well Fed Writer offers "income boosting resources for commercial writers" in the form of a newsletter, books and ebooks, seminars and events, mentoring, self publishing tips, and more. (Thanks, Jennifer Brown Banks, for sharing this resource!)

Want to win an ebook and printed book publishing package? Check out BookBaby's giveaway here. Prize includes premium publishing, cover design, distribution, and a one year author website hosting subscription.  Hurry, deadline to enter is June 30, 2012!

Fiction writers take note - Randy Ingermanson, or "America's Mad Professor of Fiction Writing" shares a wealth of info at his site, which includes a blog, ezine, and other great resources. Randy is the creator of The Snowflake Method,  which is a popular software that guides writers through the novel writing process.

If you want more fiction writing insight, hop over to Christian Fiction Online Magazine. This month's issue discusses marketing with author James Rubart. Regular features include interviews, helpful articles, giveaways, and more. 

Need more time to write that book? Check out this Writer's Digest article, How to Write a Book When You're Really, Really Busy. Planning ahead is the key, says author Ashley Ream, and she shows how she stuffs writing into her crazy schedule. 

Anything strike your fancy? Come across any good links or resources lately?

What's your weekend looking like?

Have fun,

 Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, June 11, 2012

Layers of Life

How much of real life makes it into your writing?

For fiction, do you:

Choose character traits or physical features from people you interact with or know?

Form settings based on where you've lived or visited?

Create a plot from events you've experienced or heard about?

Taken ideas from all of the above?

For non-fiction, do you:

Gather snippets of ideas from Facebook posts?

Generate an article from an encounter with a rude customer service rep?

Turn a journal entry into a poem? 

Grab an idea from a cereal box for a sidebar in a children's magazine?

Ideas are everywhere, aren't they?

Not just on the surface, but in between, among the layers of life - past, present, or perhaps even under the kitchen sink. That's the beauty of it, you just never know. Something jumps out at you, or glides across your path, unnoticed at first. Before you know it, it's woven itself into an idea, right there in your head.

I had an idea emerge this weekend while talking to my brother in law, our family's historical expert. We were discussing one of my Pennsylvania ancestors who died during the Civil War on a battlefield in Kentucky, not far from where I live. 

I pondered, and wondered.

This ancestor's gaze roamed the rolling hills I see everyday!

Did he compare the landscape to his home? It is similar.

Did he think about how that war would affect future generations? My family and I are among them.

The ideas run wild in my brain, fiction and non fiction, and it started with a discovery my brother in law made.

Like I said, you just never know...:)

Where did your last writing idea hit you? When was the last time you found a good idea between the layers?

Happy writing adventures,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Do You Read?

How do you read a book?

Do you start at the beginning?

Dive into the middle?

Sneak to the back and check out the last page?

Read several chapters and then hop to the ending?

If I'm reading non fiction, I check the table of contents and skip around, depending on what catches my interest, or how I want to process the info.

Fiction is another story (no pun intended!). I am a strong supporter of the start at the beginning idea. After all, the author is taking the reader on a journey, are they not? There are adventures to savor on the way. I admit, though, occasionally I flip ahead or take a peek at the end.


1) The story is dragging and I want to see if it gets better. If not, I may abandon the book.

2) There are lengthy portions of dialogue or description that don't captivate me.

3) I absolutely, positively, cannot wait to see if a character survives (or is found, is arrested, gets married, or paints a giant mural on the side of the local bank, etc.:) Okay, so this doesn't happen often. I don't read about mural painting main characters much either, for that matter.

The other day, I did jump ahead in an historical fiction I'm reading. Just to make sure that the MC was okay, you know. So I thought it amusing when I spotted this question yesterday at Dear Editor. A frustrated writer asks for feedback on the RIGHT Way To Read a Novel,

I'm curious. How do you read a book? Is there one right way? What do you think?

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Good Blog?

How would you finish this sentence?

A good blog will....

What are the first words that come to mind?




While pondering this, several questions arose.

  • Why do I visit a blog? Does it pertain to writing or another topic of interest?
  • What do I look to take away from a blog? Links? Tips? Encouragement? A little of each?
  • What do I offer in the way of a good blog

The last question, to me, serves as a reminder and challenge to offer thought provoking value, info, encouragement, and fellowship. As a writer, I believe a blog can be an outlet and a tool that aligns with what I feel called to do. What do you think?

I happened across these links recently and thought they tied in nicely. If you have a moment, I'd be interested to see if you agree.

Twelve Things That Will Kill Your Blog

The 12 Dos and Don't of Writing a Blog

What do you think a good blog will do? What steps do you take to ensure your blog is a good one?

Happy writing,

P.S. Thanks to all for your kind words and prayers regarding my mother in law's recent surgery. She is feeling better, and is resting at home for now.

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