Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Thanks & Links

Happy Memorial Day! 

It isn't about picnics, sales, or an extra day off. It's about remembering the sacrifices made, and appreciating those who protect our freedom. To our veterans and those in active duty - you have our heartfelt gratitude and prayers. Thank you!


Since I'm posting on Mondays for now, my monthly Thursday's This and That posts have felt neglected. Trying to think of a clever name for a similar Monday post. In the meantime, here are the links that have been clamoring for attention.  :)

Are you "cappy happy"? C.S. Lakin coined this term, and shares her wisdom on the appropriate use of capital letters in this post, Don't Get Cappy Happy.

Do you live in the Austin, Texas area?  The dates for the Writer's League of Texas 2013 Agents and Editors Conference are June 21-23. Check out the details here.

What's a Wordle? Wordle is "a toy for generating word clouds from text that you provide". It's a free, fun program that looks similar to the brainstorming method of clustering. More frequently used words appear prominently, and you can customize your text with special fonts and backgrounds. It might not help with your current writing project, but it does look like fun! Visit the Wordle site to see how it works.

Story need help? Can't figure out why? Perhaps 5 Red Flags Your Story Needs Revision by Kristen Lamb can help. She tells us how to spot and fix too many adverbs or characters and other trouble spots.

Is it okay if you split infinitives? End a sentence with a preposition? Use passive voice? Keeping up with rules and trends in writing can be tricky. Ben Yagoda offers his advice in 7 Bogus Grammar Errors You Don't Need to Worry About.

Are there any veterans or active military members in your family? 

What writing projects are you working on this week?

Happy writing,


Photo credit image one: Stock Exchange

Photo credit image two: Stock Exchange

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thinking, a Winner, and Good News

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Indeed, there is life happening in our heads, isn't there? The mind is where we process everything, battle challenging thoughts, and formulate any number of things. As writers, we might also say, "Writing consists in what a man is thinking of all day."

While all this thinking is a good thing, a break is nice too. Especially when the brain is on overload or you hit a wall with a project. Pen and Prosper's Jennifer Brown Banks offers help in this post, How to Reboot and Rebound. While Jennifer actually references bad computer days, her tips provide therapeutic refreshment for the intense writing life.

A Winner

Congratulations to Bethany, the winner of Ann Gabhart's book, Scent of Lilacs! Thanks to all who stopped by to see Ann in last week's post.

Good News

I signed a contract with Helping Hands Press! They will be publishing my book for homeschoolers later this year. I'm still numb, the entire process happened in a flash - but I am excited! Will keep you posted. :)

What things will you be thinking on today? What do you do to refresh and reboot?

Have a great week!

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring, Lilacs, and Ann Gabhart

Spring has arrived here in Kentucky, just in time for Ann Gabhart's visit. Ann's here today to share the story behind the story in her book, The Scent of Lilacs.  She's also giving away a copy to one of my readers. Be sure and check out the details below.

Welcome, Ann! It's great to have you back.

Thank you, Karen!

Here is the Book Description:

Life changing events rarely happen in Hollyhill, Kentucky, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for young Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once during the summer of 1964. Though on the surface things are just fine, it seems everyone in Jocie's life has something they're not saying, something they're hiding from her - and from themselves. As Jocie digs into her family's past, she stirs a whirlwind of discoveries. Will she find the answers everyone so desperately needs? Or will her questions lead to truths better left hidden?

Here is the Story Behind the Story, in Ann's Words:

Several years ago I’d hit a wall. Yes, I was writing, but I tried several different genres, and nothing was working. So I decided to take that age old advice to “write what you know.” What I knew were small towns, country living, and country churches. I set the book in the 1960s and cranked my memory into full gear to come up with the background of my story.

The little town of Lawrenceburg where I grew up became my fictional town of Hollyhill. I took what I remembered about Main Street in the Sixties and set my characters right down in the middle of it in the newspaper office. Town was two blocks with the courthouse on one end and the post office on the other. The library was up the street on one end of town. We had two grills, two banks, two hardware stores, two dress shops, two laundromats, two furniture stores, two doctors, and two stoplights. (Everything must have come in twos.) Saturday afternoons all the farmers came to town and you could walk down the street and meet friend after friend. You knew everybody in the county and not only knew them, you knew who their family was. You knew what their houses looked like and whether they kept the weeds out of their garden or not.

So that's the kind of town I wrote about in my Heart of Hollyhill books, starting with Scent of Lilacs.  I came up with a girl whose father is the editor of a small town weekly newspaper, and on the weekends pastors a little country church. I stirred in a few eccentric characters. Don’t all small towns have their share of those? I didn't exactly model any of them after people in my town (with the exception of Old Sally and even with him I made changes), but I did take a smidgen of this person and smidgen of that person and come up with some people who felt right at home in a small town and a country church.

That didn't mean I didn't change what needed changing to make the story better. I wanted Hollyhill to be Small Town, America. A place readers could recognize and maybe say "I grew up in a place like that." The books are all being re-released. Scent of Lilacs was first in March 2013. Orchard of Hope will be out in October 2013. Summer of Joy will be re-released in February or March 2014.

In order to celebrate these books back in print, Jocie, the young heroine in the book, is reporting from Hollyhill once a week on her own blog, the Hollyhill Book of the Strange. No spoilers or excerpts from the book. All new small town adventures. Hope you'll stop by on Monday nights or Tuesdays to see what Jocie and her Hollyhill friends are up to.

You can check out Jocie's thoughts here, on Hollyhill's blog. 

Thanks Ann, for stopping by. It's always a pleasure. Wish you all the best with your books! 

Thanks so much, Karen, for inviting me over again. I always love visiting your place.

For more info on Ann, visit:

Ann's website

Ann's blog

Buy Scent of Lilacs here

Find Ann on Facebook and Twitter 

Here is My Review of Scent of Lilacs:

One thing I like about Ann Gabhart’s books is that they have personality. It’s present not just in the characters, but in the story. Ann has a gift for creating characters that most anyone can relate to, a setting you can see, and a plot that tugs at your heartstrings. Then she wraps it into a neat and touching package. 

Scent of Lilacs is no exception. Jocie’s summer contains pleasant surprises and answers to several prayers. Sadly though, she encounters hard lessons as well. But they are inevitable, considering that Jocie’s mother ran off some years before with Jocie’s older sister Tabitha.

Originally published in 2005, the Scent of Lilacs was released again this spring. I’m thankful for the chance to read it now, as the combination of surprises and humor provides a heartwarming and inspirational read. Will look forward to checking out the rest of the Hollyhill series soon.

Here are the Giveaway Details: 

  • You must be a Google Friend Connect 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 links with your comment.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is noon EST Friday, May 17, 2013. Winner will be chosen by, notified via email, and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, May 20, 2013.

So tell us, what was it like where you grew up? Big city or small town? What are you reading this spring?

Happy reading and writing,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Write in Your Head

How do you write?

On paper and computer screen, on salvaged envelopes, and post it notes - anything that provides a flat surface long enough to record a thought, right?

Have you ever considered how much writing happens in your head?

Yes, I know; it all starts there.

A deadline's looming. An ongoing project needs tweaking. A great idea blossoms. And the wheels are turning. This is a good thing, but...

You're doing the laundry. Or at a baseball game. And you cannot immediately record your thoughts. This is when you write in your head.

But what do you do? Hope you remember? 

I don't know about you, but there is no off switch for my brain. It doesn't care what I'm doing, it just cranks out ideas. And before I know it, I have a paragraph written in my head. So I've learned to keep pen and paper handy everywhere, from in my purse to the nightstand. The recording features on my cell phone and MP3 player come in handy too.

Noting thoughts must wait, of course, when we're driving or white water rafting. So we trust that we'll retain those ideas for later, yes? And so it goes in the writer's life. :)

How do you handle this kind of head writing? What's the most unusual place a great idea has hit you?

Happy writing,


P.S. Hope you can join me next Monday when author Ann Gabhart stops by. Have a great week!

Image Credit: Stock Exchange