Thursday, September 27, 2012


A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.

- Albert Einstein

I heard someone say that if they knew an error they made was going to be a mistake, they wouldn't have made it.

Guess that's true sometimes. Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? 

Then there are missteps that are transformed into good things. Reminds me of the scripture in Romans 8:28.

Living is learning, that's for sure.

Mistakes are yet another thing to write about. I don't know about you, but my list is long. :) No complaints though, just lots of lessons learned.

Looking Ahead

Author Jody Hedlund joins us next week. Hope you can join us!

Have you had mistakes turn inside out for good? What new things have you tried lately?

Happy writing!

Have a great weekend,


P.S. Click here if you missed Monday's fabulous guest post with Alex Cavanaugh. It was a good one! :)

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Post by Alex Cavanaugh

Please join me in welcoming author Alex Cavanaugh! Alex knows a thing or two (or three or four) about blogging. His large and faithful following is testimony to his belief about giving back to the blogging community.

What is Blogging Success?

Karen invited me to discuss blogging success. That’s a tall order! Am I even qualified? That’s contingent on one’s definition of success I guess. So, what follows is thus one Ninja’s take on the subject.

What makes for a successful blog? I think that success depends on the individual. What is your purpose for blogging? What do you hope to achieve with your blog? How do you get to that point?

Everyone’s journey is different. Rather than tell you “This is how to do it,” I’ll just describe my own experience – why I began blogging, the changes and growth, and what’s important now. Hopefully I can inspire you to set some goals and find your own path.

I began blogging to build a platform before the release of my first book. (Basically, my publisher told me to get my butt online.) I learned how to gain followers by following and interacting with other bloggers. I found my niche and blogging style by focusing on my interests and passions. I discovered the importance of comments not just hits. It all came down to my level of involvement in the blogging community.

Now less than three years later, I’d have to say I achieved my original goal. Over 1600 people follow my blog. My posts average 155 comments each. And both of my books have achieved Amazon bestseller status in the US and UK.

I’m sure many look at those stats and believe they define my success. But a funny thing happened during the journey. My goals and definition of success evolved beyond mere numbers. I now measure my success by what I can do for others:

The Ninja News provides me a way to call attention to the accomplishments and needs of my fellow bloggers.

I feature guest posts three to four times a month from my blogger buddies.

I participate in and host blogfests.

As an A to Z Challenge co-host, I help organize and promote the event, and I spend the month of April highlighting special blogger friends.

I founded the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, giving writers the opportunity to come together once a month for encouragement and support. The response of gratitude for this group alone has made my blogging journey worthwhile.

Giving back to the blogging community defines victory to me. Your blogging success depends on your objectives, though. Your definition of success will likely change over time and may have little to do with stats. Just be sure your goals are your own. No one else can define success for you.

Supporting, inspiring, and amusing the Ninja Army is my goal – my version of success.

What’s yours?

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

CassaFire by Alex J Cavanaugh.JPG

CassaFire by Alex J Cavanaugh.JPG
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P.S. Congratulations to Donna Volkenannt, the winner of Sarah's Sundin's With Every Letter!

Top right photo credit: Porah Stock Exchange

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brown and Blue

When I was growing up, there were a few things that Mom told my sisters and me not to do.

Like, for instance

No tattling and whining.

No writing on interior trim. I confess to scribbling on my windowsill once. Okay, maybe twice, before I got caught. I remember Mom mumbling something about having plenty of paper around the house. Probably should have told her I wanted to be a writer. Things might have gone easier.


We were not EVER to wear articles of brown and blue clothing together. It simply was not done. After all, they did not match and it just didn't look right.


For years, I was fine with the "No brown and blue" rule. Mom knew best, of course.

Recently though, I've seen brown and blue thrown together. In pillows and draperies and such...


How is this possible? Clearly they missed Mom's memo.

You know what? 

This stigmatized blend, say, on a scarf or framed print, doesn't bother me so much anymore. It's grown on me, particularly when a dusty, light blue is combined with a rich chocolatey brown.

So how does this relate to writing? Unlikely combos provide great writing ideas. Articles, posts, interviews, stories, poetry, lessons - the possibilities are endless.

For instance, why not:

Pen an article about the similarities between skydiving and marketing.

Share a blog post that compares hockey and writing.  

Or discuss blogging and babies

Create a character who has traits of Abraham Lincoln and Tom Cruise.

Hey, why not? 

Perhaps it's not brown and blue but apples and oranges that will generate fabulous ideas. Go ahead, let your mind wander. You never know what might come from unlikely blends. And perhaps your mother, like mine, might not mind so much.

Do you like the combination of brown and blue? What improbable pairings give you ideas?

Have a great weekend,

P.S. Don't Forget

Tomorrow at midnight is the deadline to enter the giveaway for With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin. Monday's post has the interview, my review, and the details. If you missed it, click here.

Photo credit: Stock Exchange
Ben Earwicker
Garrison Photography, Boise, ID

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview & Giveaway with Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is here today! We are celebrating the release of her book, With Every Letter.

Welcome, Sarah! Congratulations on the new book! Your extensive research is evident in all your books - they are rich with history and authenticity. I think that is one reason I enjoy them so much. Did you find any surprises while researching With Every Letter?

Thank you, Karen! It's a pleasure to be here. There were a lot of surprises. The war in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations doesn't get as much attention as the war in northern Europe, and I learned all sorts of interesting things. The American campaign in North Africa wasn't always pretty -- a lot of "should haves" and "should not haves" -- but they learned important lessons about commanders and tactics and strategy that paid off later in France and Germany.

I found it educational as I hadn't been aware of all the wartime activity in that area. This fictional account was an interesting way to learn about it. :) Early in the book, you referred to one of my all time favorite films -- The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart. Do period films like these help you with elements such as clothing, etiquette, and setting?

Oh yes, also vocabulary and phrasing and prevalent attitudes. I love period films, and Jimmy Stewart is my all time favorite actor. I had the idea for With Every Letter while watching The Shop Around the Corner -- no big surprise, huh? The anonymous correspondence grabbed my interest, and I wondered what kind of person would relish anonymity.

So this is how the idea for your main character, Mellie Blake, originated? 

Yes, the main idea came from the question above -- what kind of person would be drawn to anonymity? How about a woman who's shy and never fit in? Around that time, a couple of missionary children visited my Sunday School class. They'd spent most of their lives in Africa and they dressed and wore their hair differently than my fourth graders did, talked differently, and were interested in different things. I found the children delightful, but it was fascinating to watch my regulars. These are some of the nicest kids in the world, but they didn't quite know what to make of the newcomers. My heart went out to the visiting children. They probably didn't belong in Africa, and they didn't belong in America. So I gave Mellie a similar background, straddling two cultures and not belonging in either.

I can see where that would present issues and conflict -- good ones for a main character. Mellie was an interesting mix of both. Watching her interact with others in the story, well, you just weren't sure what was going to happen next! So now that this book is out, what is on the horizon? Are you at liberty to give us a peek at upcoming books?

Absolutely! The second book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, On Distant Shores, comes out in June 2013. Lt. Georgie Taylor fears she's in over her head as a fight nurse, but she enjoys her friendship with Sgt. John "Hutch" Hutchinson, an Army pharmacist. As Hutch and Georgie care for patients in Sicily and Italy, tragedy draws them together, but their differences threaten to keep them apart.

The third book comes out in June 2014. Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she goes, but C-47 pilot Roger Cooper is immune to her charms. Throughout Italy and southern France, as she evacuates the wounded and he delivers paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them where they don't want to go.

Sounds great! Looking forward to reading them. Will you come back and visit us then?

Yes, thank you, I will!

Thank you so much for joining us, Sarah. I wish you many blessings and great success with your books. :)

Thank you, Karen. It's been fun to stop by and see everyone. Thanks for having me!

My Review of With Every Letter

Lieutenant Mellie Blake happily serves her country, now deeply involved in World War 2. She didn’t have friends as a child, having lived overseas part time due to her father’s job. As an adult, she’s had difficulty making friends, so she keeps a professional distance from the other Army nurses. This plan works just fine, until her supervisors order her to make friends and fit in or else.

Tom MacGilliver, also a Lieutenant in the United States Army, keeps a low profile for other reasons. His father’s shady past has made their last name a household word, and Tom hasn’t been able to shake the stigma. To make matters worse, he’s unable to gain true respect from the men in his company. 

Mellie reluctantly participates in a morale-building program where nurses correspond anonymously with soldiers. She agrees to write one letter. Turns out, the letter goes to Tom. And he writes back. These two lonely souls settle into a routine of correspondence, feeling secure with their agreement of anonymity.

Mellie’s duties as a flight nurse take her overseas, close to Tom’s unit. As the war intensifies, their affection for each other grows and both entertain notions of revealing their identities. Will fear and circumstances prevent a meeting? 

Sarah Sundin’s attention to historical detail is outstanding. It lends authenticity and character to her stories. Not only does she entertain readers, she challenges them through her characters’ flaws and growth. I enjoyed getting to know Mellie and Tom, and watching them stretch out of their comfort zone as they got acquainted and navigated their way through perilous times. I enjoyed With Every Letter thoroughly, and am looking forward to the next books in the series.

Giveaway Details
  • You must be a GFC follower and leave your email address with your 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 Friday September 21, 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, September 24, 2012.

You can visit Sarah and find out more about her other books, which are very good, btw, on her website and on her blog.

Prior to hearing about Sarah's book, did you know that Army nurses helped evacuate soldiers during World War II? Do you have any questions for Sarah?

Happy reading and writing,


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday's This and That

Hope this Thursday finds you well and happy. Thought it was time to share a round of writing goodies. Perhaps something will catch your eye. :)

MaryAnn Diorio was one of the first "official" writers I met through a writing group in New Jersey years ago. Her unfailing support, wisdom, and friendship have been a huge blessing to me. I invite you to check out her blog, where she shares great info, like this Wednesday Wisdom post on making a living from writing.

Historical fiction your thing? Check out David Gillham's 5 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction over at Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents.

Productivity problems? Carol Tice offers help in the form of One Simple Thing. Writers of any genre should be able to implement her handy advice, I'm thinking.

Working at home has its own set of "office" problems to tackle, don't you think? Tiny Twig offers insight on how to get the most out of the day in How to Work From Home.

Do you write for children? Check out the Young Adult Short Story Contest sponsored by Children's Writer. Grand prize is $500, but hurry, deadline to enter is October 31, 2102.

Run across any good resources lately? What are you up to this weekend?

Have a great weekend,


Photo credits: Stock Exchange

Monday, September 10, 2012

Do You Pause?

How is it that the quiet little comma can wield such big power?

To pause?

Or not.

That is the question.

I don't know about you, but commas trip me up on occasion. To keep my tripping to a minimum, I compiled a fast fact comma list to keep me on my toes. Thought I would share it on the off chance that commas make you stumble too.

1) Use a comma to separate adjectives that equally modify a noun.

    Susan was afraid of the big, creepy spiders in the shed.

2) To determine if the adjectives equally modify the noun, switch them around. If the sentence is still clear, then they modify equally.

    Susan was afraid of the creepy, big spiders in the shed.

3) Use commas between items in a series.

    Mason brought chips, pickles, and potato salad to the picnic.

4) Do not use commas when words are separated by or, nor, or and.

    Louise washed the car and hung the laundry and watered the flowers.

5) Use a comma to separate parenthetical elements in a sentence.

    Ryan entered the chapel, tardy as usual, and stood next to his bride.

6) Use a comma to set off an appositive. An appositive is a word or phrase that explains something. An appositive is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

    Our vacation home, a rustic and cozy cabin, is located about sixty minutes from here.

7) Use a comma after an introductory adverb clause.

    After the wedding, Ryan and Megan went on their honeymoon.

8) Use a comma with an interjection or to set off an interruption.

    Hey, what am I supposed to do now?       

    For him, well, it's just better that way.

For other comma facts, check out this article, The Most Comma Mistakes by Ben Yagoda. 

In other non comma news...

Congratulations to Kevlin, the winner of Band of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke! (Kevlin, please email me back asap. :)

So how about it, does the comma trip you up?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange