Monday, July 30, 2012

What Do You Write?

Most of my followers write, whether they have a novel in progress, 

pen articles, poetry and such, or blog. 

I know what some of you write, but not all.

Goals and circumstances change too, so I thought I'd ask:

What do you write?

Is writing your primary daily activity?

 Do you dabble in your spare time? 

Are you a copywriter? Children's writer? Poet? Soon to be novelist?

If not a writer, are you an avid reader, who likes to see what makes us writers tick?

Or perhaps you can lay claim to all of the above?

We are a diverse and fun group, and it'd be nice to get to know you better. :)

So won't you please share?

Happy writing,


P.S. If you'd like to enter to win Keli Gwyn's book,  

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California,

Hurry, drawing ends tonight!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Keli Gwyn

Please join me in welcoming Keli Gwyn! Her first novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California  just hit the shelves.

Karen: Welcome to Write Now, Keli. Congratulations on your book!

Keli: Thanks so much for having me, Karen! It’s a delight to be here!                
Karen: I really enjoyed your book. :) Did the story idea originate in any special place?

Keli: I live in the heart of California’s Gold Country and wanted to bring one of the area’s historic towns to life. El Dorado is located just a few miles away from my town of Placerville. In researching El Dorado, I learned about a successful mercantile owner with the largest business in town. He was active in the community and well regarded. He became the model for my hero, Miles Rutledge.

One of Placerville’s historic sites is the Emigrant Jane building. Built in 1861, it’s still standing today. The building bears a plaque telling about Jane, an industrious woman who drove a wagon across the country, had her store built, and went into business. I did my research and learned that women were able to own businesses in California from the early days of the Golden State. That knowledge led to the idea of having Elenora open her own shop when Miles refuses to accept her as partner in his.

Karen: Interesting! I love how you tied local history and the story together. I wondered, too, as I read the book, did your work as a critique partner enhance your writing? 

Keli: I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing authors through the years and have learned a great deal from them. My longtime critique partner, Anne Barton, is the best cheerleader a gal could ever have. She’s been there for me the past four years, lifting me up when I’m down and rejoicing with me at every little success along the way.

Anne read multiple versions of my debut novel and gave me awesome feedback. I love that her literary fingerprints can be seen throughout the book. I was privileged to work with Jody Hedlund on this story, too. She helped me ramp up the tension and emotions. Both Anne and Jody pushed me, helping me take A Bride Opens Shop to the next level, and I’m ever so grateful. Because of them and their input, the story improved. When it comes to writing partners, I hit the Mother Lode.
Karen: Wow, I would say so, what a blessing! While we're on the topic of improving our writing, what is your all time favorite piece of writing advice?

Keli: Deeanne Gist gave me some great advice back when I was a florescent green newbie. I met her at the Romance Writers of America® conference in 2008. When I told her I was a Golden Heart® finalist but felt like my stories weren’t ready for publication and had endured two painful pitch sessions earlier in the day, she said she didn’t like rejection either. What she did was study craft so she could create a marketable story.

I took Dee’s advice, stopped querying, and spent the next year learning all I could about writing. I then chose the best of the five stories I’d completed, rewrote it, and entered it in several contests to see if it fared better than my earlier work had. It did, garnering me several wins and requests, one of which led to my offer of representation. I had to rewrite the story again for my agent, but once it was ready, she submitted it and sold it.

What I took away from this was that my time spent studying craft was a good investment. I’m so grateful to Dee for sharing her wise counsel with me and am happy to pass it on.

Karen: I like that - "a florescent green newbie". I'll have to remember that phrase. :) Now that your book is out, do you feel like a celebrity? Have you had any episodes at the grocery store with the paparazzi?

Keli: Oh, Karen, have you been watching me? I was at the supermarket just last week gently squeezing the avocados to find one just the right ripeness when I heard a squeal, turned, and found cameras from three local TV stations trained on me and three reporters shoving mics in front of me. What an amazing experience.

Um, OK. So that type of scenario only happens in my daydreams. The reality is that life has changed little. I did walk into Curves the other day and had one of the members I don’t know very well tell me she’d read and enjoyed my book. I gotta admit that felt pretty good.

This past Sunday several of my fellow church members who’d bought my book at my launch party the week before told me how much they enjoyed the story. They gushed so much that I got all misty-eyed. These dear people have supported me since I first began writing, and I’m ever so grateful for their encouragement.

And speaking of support, I really appreciate yours, Karen. Thanks again for hosting me. Spending time with you and your blog’s readers is a pleasure. I’d like to end with a question for all of you. What’s a time you were thrust into the limelight, and how did you feel about all the accolades coming your way?

Karen: You are too funny! You had me going for a minute there. And, you are more than welcome, Keli! It's been a pleasure to have you stop by.  I'm happy to help spread the word about your book.

My Review

Miles Rutledge’s mercantile carries everything a home in 1870 needs. He is looking forward to meeting his new business partner, confident that he will be an asset to the thriving business. Miles’ mother is not opposed to seeing him take on a partner; she just knows something Miles does not.

E. Watkins, also known as the widow Elenora Watkins, is eager for a fresh start for her 9-year-old daughter Matilda and herself. Her recently remarried, overbearing father has made it clear that she is no longer welcome in his home or working with his business. Elenora thinks that a partnership with the Rutledge Mercantile in El Dorado, CA is the perfect fit. That is, until she met the proprietor.

To say that Miles and Elenora get off on the wrong foot is an understatement. Miles is stunned to learn that E. Watkins is a woman, and rescinds his offer of partnership. Elenora is equally dismayed over the mix-up. Returning home is not an option, so Elenora decides to set up her own mercantile in El Dorado to support her daughter. This, of course, does not go over well with Miles.

For some reason, I suspected that Keli Gwyn would be a good storyteller. I am happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed. In this, her debut novel, Keli brings life to these stubborn, ambitious characters who butt heads at every turn. This engaging tale is sure to appeal to historical fiction fans. Although A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California just released, I’m already looking forward to Keli’s next book!

If you'd like more info on A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, click here.

To visit Keli's site, go here. 

To stop by her blog, click here. I am sure she would love to see you!

Giveaway Details
  • You must be a follower and leave your email address with a comment. 
  • 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, Monday July 30, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Thursday August 2, 2012.

Don't forget, Keli turned the tables and asked us this question,

"What’s a time you were thrust into the limelight, and how did you feel about all the accolades coming your way?"

Please feel free to answer in the comments. 

Do you have any questions for Keli? What are you up to this weekend?

Happy reading and writing,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Looking Ahead

I'm excited about Write Now's coming attractions, so thought I'd give you a little preview. :)

This Thursday, debut author Keli Gwyn joins us to discuss her new book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. We''ll also have a giveaway and review.

In August, we'll welcome Ann Gabhart, whose book, The Gifted, just hit the shelves. Ann's offered a copy for a giveaway as well. (These authors are so generous!) I'm reading her book right now, so I'll share a heads up on the latest in Ann's lineup.

Also joining us in August is children's author Michelle Isenhoff, who stops by during the blog tour for her latest book, Beneath the Slashings. Lest the title deceive you, consider what Michelle says, "I write for kids. In my books, you can expect adventure and substance, but I'll always respect the innocence of our children." I think you'll enjoy her guest post; it's an interesting look at history and writing.

Cathy Gohlke visits during Labor Day week, as her latest novel, Band of Sisters debuts in September. I had the opportunity to read an advanced review copy, and it is another winner. Cathy's interviews always share insight for every writer. And yes, Cathy's sharing a copy to give away. :)

Sarah Sundin's newest release, With Every Letter, greets us in September too. This is the first in Sarah's new series, Wings of the Nightingale, and I have a feeling this one will be every bit as good as her last series. Guess what? Sarah will give away a copy of this one as well.

September gets even better, as Alex Cavanaugh pens a guest post toward the end of the month. With two books under his belt, Alex's down to earth wit and wisdom is insightful and encouraging. He's a successful blogger too, and a great believer of giving back to the blogging community.

That's it in a nutshell. I've a few more things in the works and am working to finalize details. So I may give you a hint, or may just surprise you. Stay tuned. 

Hope you can join me as we roll from summer into fall. What's happening in your neck of the woods?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, July 19, 2012

by Tracie Peterson                                    

Bethany House Publishers

Laura Marquardt's family, though residents of Corpus Christi, Texas, are staunch supporters of the Union. The Civil War is over, yet unrest simmers just below society's surface. Laura is thankful that strong ties in the north have kept their family finances intact. She is not pleased however, with the "spinster" label that some, including her younger spoiled sister Carissa, pin on her. At 21, Laura is anything but a spinster.

Union Army Captain Brandon Reid oversees troops stationed in Corpus Christi. A chance encounter with Miss Marquardt leaves both Brandon and Laura with unfavorable opinions of the other. Shortly after their unpleasant meeting, they speak again and discover that their terse introduction was due to a simple misunderstanding.

Brandon's tour of duty with the Army is finished, but he agrees to stay in Texas to quietly investigate a series of mysterious crimes. He seeks Mr. Marquardt's permission to court Laura and their courtship begins just prior to Carissa's marriage to former confederate soldier Malcolm Lowe. Unfortunately, Lowe is Brandon's key suspect, but he cannot divulge this info to Laura. In addition to a tricky undercover investigation, Brandon is concerned that Laura will misinterpret his courtship motives. He truly cares for her, but will she understand when everything comes to light?

Touching the Sky is Book Two in the Land of the Lone Star series, but it can stand alone. I prefer this, as I am not a fan of cliffhangers or trying to get up to speed on a previous book. This post Civil War tale has enough strife, intrigue, love, and forgiveness to satisfy historical and other fiction fans. I've long enjoyed Ms. Peterson's stories, and this one is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

What are you reading these days?

Have a great weekend,

I obtained this book for free from Bethany House for review purposes. No compensation was received, and all opinions stated are my own.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Do You Dash?

Monday Fast Fact – The Dash

Did you know?

A dash is used to show a change or sudden break in a sentence. It is used to show emphasis and should not be used as a frequent replacement for a comma. 


Toward the project’s completion – and not due to insufficient employees – some work days ran into overtime. 

A dash is used to introduce a series, followed by an explanatory clause.


Chocolate, a cup of tea, and a good book – these are my favorite rainy day treats.

A dash is used to show an interruption, such as in dialogue.


Jaden: Helen, why did you –         
Helen: Stop asking questions!       
A dash is used to indicate parenthetical text that explains a word or phrase. 


The event – a parade to celebrate the holiday – was held every year.

Do you recall lessons on the dash in school? I've been using it more lately, no particular conscious reason. Variety, perhaps. Used sparingly and with care, I think that the dash is an effective addition.

How much does the dash appear in your writing?

Happy Monday,

P. S. The dash and a host of other grammar and writer-ly tidbits are among the topics discussed in Basic Boot Camp for Writers, my class at the Coffeehouse for Writers. I invite you to check out the selection of great workshops offered every month!

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the author, Karen Lange. 

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, July 9, 2012

Are You an Apprentice?

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Ernest Hemingway

Does this thought discourage you?

 I think it's interesting and sobering.

This man knew a little about writing.

Yet he saw the importance of getting better, 

knowing that we never arrive,

to quit and rest on our laurels. 

Not that we can't have success, and write great stuff. 

But there's something to be said for a writer who knows 

that improvement is the target.

What do you think?

What defines your target?

How do to hone your skills?

Taking the rest of the week off. See you July 16.

Have a great week!

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Juggling Act

Can you juggle time?

Think about it...

We may think we do, but in reality, we juggle stuff. We balance, cram, and coerce tasks, from the necessary to the exciting, into our days. The goal is to keep tasks airborne, like a juggler, to create the illusion that we are getting it all done.

Are we? Getting it all done, that is?

I'm not, and have been rethinking my strategy. As a writer, my goal is to be productive. What helps me get there? Well, for starters, I can get more done if I:

1) Ignore the internet. It's like a magnet, isn't it? Trying to write an article with my email window open is a tangent waiting to happen. I get more done if I close the window or make a pact with myself to ignore the pull. This usually involves a bribe with chocolate.

2) Ignore the phone. Or at the very least, screen calls. That way, if Publisher's Clearing House calls to tell me that I won, I won't miss it. I also mentally set aside "working time" and don't answer the phone. These interruptions can hijack the day otherwise.

3) Ignore the chores. Don't tell everyone I said it was okay to ditch housework. I don't mean forever, just for stretches, even small ones, if it means getting that project or chapter done. I'd wager authors on the bestseller list might have a cobweb or two lurking about. Okay, or maybe they can afford to have someone clean, but you get the idea.

4) Ignore the must-do-now distractions. You know the ones, like the bookshelves that scream to be alphabetized, or the overflowing file cabinet that's mocking you from the corner of the room. Or the buzzer on the dryer signaling that the laundry is dry and needs to be folded, pronto.

These are pretty basic, I know, but they are factors that hinder my writing if I let them. With a good balance of flexibility, self discipline, and determination, though, they help keep my writing on track.

Does your life mimic a juggling act? How do you balance your writing time with other commitments? What tips and tricks help you stay focused and get things done?

Have a great weekend,

Image credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, July 2, 2012

Happy Independence Week! :)

Do you have any special plans for the Fourth of July?

This holiday makes me think about the high price of freedom. To me, it is a gift. What do you think?

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy week.

See you Thursday,

P.S. Congratulations to Carol Alexander! She's the winner of Jeanette Levellie's book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.

Image credit: Stock Exchange