Celebrating Our 5th Anniversary!

It’s party time here at Inkspirational Messages! Our blog officially began in Aug. of 2009, however, since we had to take some time to rebuild the blog, we are celebrating five years of blogging for the next two weeks.

First of all, we want to thank you, our dear reader friends, for honoring us with your gift of time. There are a lot of blogs out there you could read, and we are so grateful that you chose ours.

Second, what would a party be without presents? Every time you leave a comment during the next two weeks, you’ll be entered in a drawing for an Inkspirational Messages mug and a surprise collection of books. So be sure to stop by every day and drop us a line. The more you comment, the more chances you’ll have. The winning name will be drawn by Random.org. The deadline to leave a comment is Friday, March 13.

Five Years Ago

All the Inkspers will be sharing what has happened in their lives in the last five years. It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but for many of us, these five years have been life changing.

This blog was formed to be a place where we could find reader friends who could use a daily dose of inspiration whether it was about faith, reading, or friendship. We wanted to make this a place our reader friends wanted to come to–a home–and we hope that’s why you come back day after day.

making wavesFor me, my first book, Making Waves, released in May of 2010. My sixth book, As Love Blooms, releases this May. I got to feel a dream come true in hands when I held that first copy and cry every time I hold one of my books for the first time as I thank God for what he’s done. Only God could have orchestrated everything it took for the words he put in my heart to become words in a book on a shelf.

It’s hard to explain how much becoming a published author has changed my life. My hobby became a career. For the most part, I’ve learned to balance deadlines and edits. I’ve found the joy of writing a scene and knowing it’s a good one, and I’ve struggled through days when I stared at the screen. I know now that one of the things I love most about being a writer is having wonderful real writer friends and wonderful imaginary friends on the pages.

Parker & MomIn my personal world, two of my three children went off to college during those five years. The oldest graduated last May, and the next day, I lost my father. Last week , my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. There have been birthdays and births, weddings and funerals. There’s been days at the beach and days on the run.

What happened in the last five years?

Life.

And I thank God for ALL of it.

What about you? What were you doing five years ago today? This month?

Remember, leave a comment to be entered in drawing for the Inspirational Mug and the surprise book collection.

 

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader: A Source of Inspiration?

Since A Great Catch just hit store shelves, I’ve been doing several interviews for various blogs. A recurrent question is “Where did I get the idea for the Lake Manawa Summer Series?”

That’s an easy answer. My father grew up in Lake Manawa after its heyday as a resort. When the park closed in 1927, my grandfather purchased one of the bath houses (the places where people changed into their bathing suits) for $300 and moved it to a lot on the northeast shore of the lake.

Although my dad was too little to remember Lake Manawa in as a place filled with summer guests, he’d told me stories he’d heard over the years and my interest was piqued. I went to the library and found a book called The History of Lake Manawa by Frank Smetana. Had Mr. Smetana not collected the stories through interviews, much of the area’s rich history would have been lost forever and my Lake Manawa series would never have been written.

After reading that book, I knew I had to make the area come alive on a page again. I decided I wanted book one, Making Waves, to focus on the sailing aspect of the lake. In A Great Catch, I wanted to bring in the baseball aspect. I also knew I wanted to bring in some more of the area’s history in sharing some of the life of Amelia Bloomer, suffragist. Did you know we might all still be wearing dresses all the time if it wasn’t for her?

But where have other ideas come from? What about the next series I’ve propose?
It may sound strange, but I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers. My husband had been a collector of this particular literary source for years and usually keeps one—well, where they were meant to be read. His library includes such classics as Uncle John’s Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader and Uncle John’s Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader.

Surprisingly, I’ve found them to be a wealth of unusual pieces of history. Uncle John’s editors seem to have a knack for discovering the interesting and the unusual. Besides history, they include tidbits on news, nature, science and pop culture. I can usually think of some sort of story that could go with every article. Some of those ideas have found their way into my “idea file.” Others, I washed down the you-know-what.

Another wonderful source for ideas, for me, has been Library Congress’s Chronicling of America. Hundreds of newspapers from 23 states and D.C. have been digitalized and can be viewed online. They date from 1866 to 1922. You can search by the year, topic, or state for an idea. Sometimes, I like to randomly select a newspaper from way back when just to read. It’s also a great way to get an idea of what was going on in the news and culturally.

For example, in 1900, Miss Clifford Mitchell was the elected first vice-president of the Kansas State Teachers Association, according to the Jan. 05 Iola Register. How many story ideas can you get out of that?

The key to using any of these sources to ask questions about what you read. In the sample above, my first thought was what would it be like to grow up as a girl named Clifford? Or was her father named Clifford Mitchell (probably more likely), but why didn’t they refer to her name at a time when the world was opening up to women? My next thought was what would happen to a young woman who had been elected to such a prestigious position if she fell in love and wanted to marry? In most places, Teachers, at this time, had to remain single. Can you see how these articles spark story ideas for me?

In honor of the release of A Great Catch, I am giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter this week from the U.S. Every time you leave a comment during the next two weeks, your name will be entered. The more often you comment, the more chances you have to win. Also, sign up for my newsletter at my website for a chance to win a Great Catch Baseball Gift Basket, complete with a signed copy, Amazon gift certificate, and items representing things from the book. You can find more details at www.lornaseilstad.com

The Roller Coaster Ride of Research

I know it’s Monday and I’m pushing it, but I want you to put your thinking cap on and take the following quiz. (I’ll give you the answers in the first paragraph.)

1.  Which of the following phrases could you not use in a novel set in 1950?

          A.  Climb the walls (1970)

          B.  Down to earth (1930)

         C.  Knock the socks off (mid 1800’s)

 

2.  In 1881, how might a drowning victim be medically treated?

           A. Roll victim over a barrel to expel water from lungs. Give large dose of castor oil.

           B.  Hold victim up by his heels. Strike firmly on the back. Lie down. Raise and lower arms.

          C. Rub victim with flannels dipped in brandy and blow billows into one nostril. Brandy, water and salt, or peppermint may be injected.

 

3.  Which of the following would have some vampire readers screaming, “No way!”

           A. Count Dracula once quoted Deut. 12:23  “The blood is the life.”

            B. Sunlight always kills a vampire.

           C. The most popular vampire in children’s fiction is Bunnicula, a cute rabbit that lives a happy existence as a vegetarian vampire.

 

4. Which of the following would have a true crime, mystery reader up in arms?

          A. The DNA evidence being slipped into plastic bags.

          B. Photographs being taken with a digital camera.

          C. Many people involved in processing the crime scene.

 

So how do you think you did? Here are the answers.

  1. A  is correct.  “Climb the walls wasn’t popular until 1970.  “Down to earth” came to be in 1930, and “knock the socks off” in the mid 1800’s.
  2. C is correct in 1881, although A and B where things tried in earlier times.
  3. B is correct. The “fact” that sunlight can kill vampires is a modern invention, probably started in the 1950’s. In Ann Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, sunlight kills vampires, but in the Twilight series it does not.
  4. All of the above would make a crime writer cringe. DNA evidence can deteriorate in plastic bags, digital photos can be altered and so are never used at crime scenes, and the number of people involved are always kept to a minimum.

Now that you are feeling much smarter, you probably want to know why I gave you this little impromptu quiz. All of these questions require research. Whether a person is writing a historical novel, a sci-fi novel, contemporary, or a mystery, research is a must.

Good research makes a story ring true and deepens the characters. For the next two weeks, the Inksters will be talking about research. We Inksters will discuss why good research is so important, how it applies to our writing, what research we have had to do, and some of our favorite resources.

As a historical fiction writer, I spend a great deal of time doing research. I love it. I can get lost in history books or old newspapers. I can spend half a day trying to find what kind of purse a lady would carry in 1901. But it becomes almost a treasure hunt for me and I truly love it.

roller coasterI end up looking up things like can you “make a made rush” in 1850? Or  “make a beeline for” the dessert table at the turn of the century? I look up how fast a horse can trot pulling a carriage, how fast a streetcar travels, and how long a journey takes by train. I spent a day discovering how high the pitchers mound was in 1901. Answer? As high as the pitcher wanted. Currently, I’m becoming an expert on early roller coasters.

Being a historical writer means you have to be a stickler for details. Here are a few of the areas I try to be extra cautious in:

Clothing:  Styles change a great deal from year to year. For women, this often is shown in sleeve styles and hats. Clothing also varies for social class and age. A study of old photographs show a younger woman will always try to be more contemporary and older women tend to wear styles a few years older. One of my favorite sources is actually a website that tries to date old photographs.

Words and phrases: Language is constantly changing. Phrases that weren’t around ten years ago are common place today. Think about these terms: Twitter, Facebook, Red Box, and iPad. Those same things occurred in decades before us. Sometimes these words and phrases are hard to catch. As I type and look them up, I put the date in brackets beside the word. Still, I’m always shocked at the ones my editor catches at the end!

In Making Waves, one of the words I missed was “tizzy.” Who would have thought “tizzy” wasn’t around until 1935?  I think I get in trouble most with words from the 20’s and 30’s. Because they sound old, and my grandma used them, I just don’t think to look them up.

My two main language sources are Merriam-Websters and The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms.

Locations: People know their cities, so if I use a street name or store, I work to make sure names are correct, directions are right, and the stores were around then. The same goes for the facts about an area. This was easier for Making Waves, because I live in the area. When I talk about black squirrels, I know we have them.

baseballDetails: This is probably the hardest to nail down. Details make or break a story. If a reader comes across something they know isn’t true, it stops them cold. In Making Waves, Marguerite learns to sail. I don’t sail, but I read several books on it including “Sailing for Dummies.” I also had a friend who does sail, read the manuscript to make sure I had the details correct. In A Great Catch, Carter is a baseball player. Brenda, who is an avid fan, made sure my innings were in order.

A favorite place to look up details of the day is at Chronicling of America. This is an online source from the Library of Congress. Over a hundred newspapers from across the country have been digitalized. If you start reading them, just be prepared to lose track of time.

Recently, I received my edits back on A Great Catch. Are you ready for one more quiz? Below are a few of the things I missed, but one of my wonderful editors, Jessica Miles, thankfully caught. Put your answers in the responses and we’ll see who guesses the most right.

1.  Which of the following words was around in 1901?

  1. Sourpuss
  2. Tagalong
  3. Klutz
  4. Oaf

 

2.  In 1901, people were most apt to use the King James version of the Bible. Which is not quoted from that translation?

  1.  “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
  2.  “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
  3.  “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” 

 

3.   The year 1901 was Carrie Chapman Catt’s ____ year as president of the National Suffrage Association.

  1. First
  2. Second
  3. Third
  4. Fourth

 

4.  Which Biblical “H’ name has to do with the Israelites being too busy to rebuild the temple?

  1. Hezekiah
  2. Haggai
  3. Hannah
  4. Habakkuk

Now, no researching. Just guess this time.  I’ll post the answers later in the day.

Starfish, chalk dust, and inspiration

Teacher hits student

Test scores fall

Teacher suspended while being investigated

Lately, the headlines concerning teachers and the teaching profession seemed filled with negatives. Those headlines make me sad. I hate knowing that the choices of a few individuals sully the profession and hurt the very children entrusted to their care. But an almost bigger reason those headlines sadden me is that  I also  know all that for every “bad” teacher out there, there are a hundred or more good ones.

It’s an often thankless profession, requiring countless hours for little pay. Beyond planning lessons, checking papers, calling parents, and monitoring behavior, a teacher often becomes a moral compass, a counselor, a nurse, and a friend. I once taught a year at a high school designed to service teenagers with emotional disabilities. I measured the day in how many times I was called a cuss word or how many desks I had thrown at me.

And I loved teaching there! Why? Because I was making a difference.

It is easy for us to look back and rate our teachers. We might look at Mrs. WhatsHerName and say she was okay, but Mrs. ChallengeYouToThink stands out. Why? Because certain teachers inspire us and believed in us in a way that made a difference in our lives. They challenge us to grow and, as if we are unpolished gemstones, see the potential in us to shine.

The mediocre teacher tells.

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.

~William Arthur Ward

 In the next two weeks, the Inkspirational Messagers will be sharing about the teachers that influenced them. As we share our stories, be sure to share your own.  

KenkelWhen I had my book launch party a couple of weeks ago, I was honored to have two teachers come to celebrate with me that made a huge difference in my life. One of them was Gail Kenkel and the other was Linda Smoley. (I’m saving Linda for a future blog.) Mrs. Kenkel was my 5th grade teacher and my English teacher in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. She went beyond teaching us punctuation and spelling. She encouraged us to think.

Every Friday, we had Creative Writing. When we arrive at school, she would have some kind of story prompt ready. Sometimes it was a sentence on the board or a picture, but other times it was something more exciting. Once, we found footprints taped to the ceiling, walls, and floor and had to write how those footprints got there. Another time, she took us outside and told us to write about what we saw. I was in 5th grade then and I can still remember the first line of my paper. “Beautiful proud hills stand as if to salute the sky.” I can still remember a story I wrote teasing her about her “Pizzatitus.” (It would have made a great kids book.)

To me, this was the highlight of my week! But she didn’t stop at the creative side. We had to have our rough draft proof read by an adult and then have a final copy ready by Monday.

Mrs. Kenkel planted a seed. She gave me the chance to fall in love with storytelling and made me believe that, with a pen in my hand, I could go anywhere and do anything. At the book launch, I told her that I if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have written Making Waves.

She disagrees, but I think we both know it’s the truth.

And while we’re on the subject of what a difference one teacher can make, consider this video about starfish.

Live from Salt Lake City

No, there’s no writing conference going on here, unless you count a handful of writers holed up in a hotel suite banging out instructional materials for a yet to be released product.  If that’s what you call a writer’s conference, then I guess I’m at one.  But since I’m in Salt Lake City, I thought I might share a few thoughts about reading and writing while you’re on the road.

I love to travel. It’s one of the glorious things about the kind of instructional writing that I do.  Sometimes you get lucky and have clients that will bring you to them to do the writing that needs to be done.  And one of my favorite parts of that kind of travel is the freedom that I have. 

Making WavesLong flights mean lots of time with books; either my own or those I carry around on my Kindle.  I’m a fan of mysteries and thrillers, so my Kindle is stuffed with books from authors like Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, and Jeffrey Deaver.  I even have a wayward romance that I’m looking forward to starting as soon as I finish the book I’m currently reading.  Our own Lorna Seilstad’s “Making Waves” is next in line on my reading list.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get to start it on the trip home, during which I have a reasonable layover in Memphis.

Being away from home also gives me some freedom to work on my own books.  In the past, I’ve spent time in hotels and on airplanes working on whatever non-fiction project that I happen to have on my plate.  But recently (I’m sure God had a hand in this), Kav mentioned a great program called Write or Die.  Intrigued, I started playing with the program.  And since that post less than a month ago, I’ve written more than 5,000 words on a new fiction project. 

So on this trip, I’m eating up every free second in the morning and at night working on this new book.  I’m dying to know what’s going to happen!  And it’s so much easier to write uninterrupted here!  Especially since it’s an hour earlier in Salt Lake City than at home.  Do you know how much writing I can get done in an hour?

There’s more to be learned in Salt Lake City, though.  I’m tipping my hat (with tongue in cheek) to Kim’s Top 10 list with one of my own:Trax

10. Getting lost on public transit in Salt Lake City gives you a variety of interesting new characters to spice up your next (or current) novel.

9. There’s something about being in a city where the daytime temps are 10-15 degrees cooler than your home town that really gets the creative juices flowing.

8. Having an amazing view during free hours makes it much easier to relax into a story.

7. Meeting with creative people during the day also makes it easier to relax into a story.

6. Not having to face a dirty house, laundry, taxi service and zillions of other responsibilities frees your mind to focus on fiction (or non-fiction) completely.

5. New scenery, restaurants, and experiences really get the creative juices flowing.

4. In a hotel, if you want to stay up all night long working, no one is going to miss you.

3. It’s much easier to turn off the distractions (like noisy televisions) when the author is the only person you have to answer to.

2. In some hotels, the coffee bar is just an elevator ride away.  At most, you might have to walk a block or two down the street, but the walk gives you time to think and gets your blood flowing so you’re ready to start banging keys again as soon as you have your java in hand.

And the number one thing about traveling and writing (or reading) is:

1. There’s no one around to witness the funny faces you make to yourself as you really feel your characters emotions in each scene.  That also means there’s no one around to hear you mutter to yourself about the actions that your characters are taking without your permission!

So, the lesson I’ve learned? You should travel. As often as possible. Alone. And don’t forget the computer.

My 18-Month Pregnancy is Over

Yesterday, when we returned from our vacation, my son retrieved our mail from the neighbor just before leaving for church services. He came home and bounded up the stairs to hand me two packages. When I opened one of them, I began to cry.

Holding Making Waves  in my hands for the first time was a humbling and unbelievable sensation. I’d often compared the last 18 months to pregnancy—the jitters, the expectation, the excitement. As I held my new “baby,” I knew all the nerves, fears, and hours of editing had been worth it.

But what makes a writer have the self-discipline to follow a project through from start to finish. Is there a magic formula? In the next couple of weeks, those of us here at Inkspirational Messages want to share a little about what we’ve learned and what we are struggling with in the area of self-displine.

makingwavesonshelf I recently read some things written by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the smash hit Eat Pray Love. It’s the movie Julia Roberts is currently starring in.  She said, “As for discipline — it’s important, but sort of overrated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. […] Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness.”

Self-forgiveness. That one I could relate to. It is so easy to be hard on yourself as a writer. You vow to write “x” number of words a day, but stare at a blank screen or get sidetracked. Your inner critic constantly tells you that you don’t measure up.  I hadn’t put self-forgiveness with self-discipline, but in a strange way it fits. Self-forgiveness is giving ourselves grace as writers, and treating ourselves with the same kindness we’d offer our writing friends. Guilt seldom motivates, but often burdens our creativity. We often let our lack of self-forgiveness hold us back from becoming all the God intends for us to be.

Another author, poet Jack Gilbert, once asked a young writer, “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.”

So, as I sit holding the first copy of my debut novel with tears still filling my eyes, I want to say the first steps in self-discipline are giving yourself the gift of grace and having courage to share your treasure with the world.

 For an extra treat, here’s Elizabeth Gilbert on Youtube talking about a writer’s mental health and creativity.

Special Note: If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter at www.lornaseilstad.com. I’m giving away a special  Making Waves gift basket at the end of Septenber!

Pantser vs. Plotters–The Knockdown

The gloves are on. The competitors are in their corners, and the crowd is roaring. With a ding of the bell, we wait with bated breath to see who in the fiction writing war will stand victorious – the plotters or the pantsers.

Let me explain. Fiction writers tend to fall into two camps. Some writers are meticulous plotters. The outline their stories in detail, make storyboards, and know the direction their story is going from the first sentence. Their plotlines are connected and they have no trouble staying on track until the very end.

In the other camp, live the pantsers (as in seat-of-the-pants). They believe plotting ahead of time smothers their creativity and the live out of the story. Instead of planning ahead, they sit down and write whatever comes to mind. They might end up with disorganized parts of their book, but they will also have some amazing creative stuff.

Pantsers vs. plotters has become a popular topic among writers. For the next couple of weeks, we here at Inkspirational Messages will discuss where we fall on the writing spectrum, what the benefits or each are, and why we believe our strategy works for each of us.

I’m in the Middle

pantsFor many years, I saw myself as a pantser. I generally knew the beginning of story and the end, but didn’t have an idea what might come in between. After I was challenged by a fellow writer to try my hand at chapter outlines, I’ve discovered this basic outline has helped me immeasurably. Knowing where I’m headed hasn’t stifled my creativity. In fact, it’s freed it in that I can start writing as soon as I sit down.

So today, I consider myself in the middle. I don’t have a beautifully, elaborately , color-coded story board, but I do have a nice chapter outline where I make sure my book has a way for my hero and heroine to meet, three major plot points, a climax, and way to tie all the ends together.  As I go, I may discover whole new avenues I want to explore. In that case, I break out the chapter by chaper and change it. No problem.

Why this works for me

  1. After Revell expressed an interest in Making Waves, they asked me come up with two additional story ideas for a series. I used this technique to come up with the ideas before I wrote the synopses for the two books. Writing the synopsis for a story before you write it is A LOT easier than writing it after.
  2. plotterIt makes it easy to create a timeline. When I turn in a manuscript, the editors also want a timeline. I keep recording this as I go, but can cross reference it with the chapter by chapter and it makes things much easier in the end.
  3. I spend less time deciding where to go next. When I sit down to write, I write. All my pre-thinking is done. It may take me a month to write the chapter by chapter, but the time is worth it to me.

I’m not trying to win anyone over to the “dark side” of plotting, because every writer has to use the method or methods that work for them. I am, however, asking you to consider trying something new. I did, and I love it. Who knows? Maybe you would to.

So Many Books, So Little Time

As usual it’s the eleventh hour and I’m trying to make up for lost time, though it would take a month of Sundays to wax poetic on the subject of time the way my sister inksters have.  When I find myself with time on my hands, I usually fill both with a book. It’s thrilling when I find one that will stand the test of time and when I do I hunt down every book that author has written.  And that’s often a race against time since some books have a short shelf life, like those wily Love Inspired ones! That means we’re working against the clock from the very second they are put on the shelves and if we’re not careful the ship will sail without us!   So I worked into the small hours to come up with a plan that would help me remember important book release dates even when I’m pressed for time.

 It’s called a Release Calendar! And I created it just in the nick of time since the near future holds a multitude of incredible new inspirational book releases. Believe me, you’ll have the time of your life reading them!  But this list comes with a warning…these books are guaranteed  time-stealers

 Kav Disclaimer:  This is by no means a comprehensive list.   So many books – so little time! Books are listed in chronological order.

White_Roses_Cover-147x196 White Roses by Shannon Vannatter May 2010 (if you belong to Heartsongs Present Book Club) or in stores November 2010

 A grieving widower and single parent, Pastor Grayson struggles with letting go and moving on.  Adrea Welch doesn’t understand how she can be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife. But can their developing relationship survive the secrets from Adrea’s past?

 Our very own Shannon’s debut novel!  She’ll have to tell us what it’s like to have to wait for an accepted manuscript to finally transform itself into a book!

 Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James June 2010love on a dime

 Lilly Westbrook writes dime novels and does everything she can to conceal that fact from friends and family because of the stigma attached to her career.  But then, former suitor, Jackson Grail becomes Lilly’s new publisher – only he doesn’t know it.  What he does know is that ‘Fannie Cole’s’ dime novels are good for business and they’d be even better if he can track his star writer down and convince her to go public! 

 Isn’t that an ingenuous plot?  I’m really excited about this one.  I think the premise is very clever.  I can’t wait!!!!!

 morrow

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz  July 2010

 We’re back in  18th century Kentucky for Laura’s second historical novel.  Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of a Shawnee raid that tore her family apart.  Now that she is  grown, she faces difficult choices about marriage.  There is no shortage of men vying for her attention, but she finds herself  inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love.

 Laura’s rich, lyrical text is inspiring and this will definitely be one for your keeper shelf – right along side The Frontiersman’s Daughter.

 

  Waiting Out the Storm by Ruth Logan Herne July 2010herne

 The author has dubbed this a “Hatfield/McCoy” type romance.  It’s the second in her North Country series and features Craig and Sarah who we met in Winter’s End. I don’t know much more than that – except I’ll love it!  Ruthy’s writing style flows and her voice is strong.  I’m prepared for a few laughs, some tears and a big satisfied sigh at the end.  It’s going to be good…I just know it.

 

making waves Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad September 2010s 

Marguerite Westing is thrilled to spend the summer at Lake Manawa with her family. What better way to put some distance between herself and a boring suitor?  And what would summer be like without romance?  One that doesn’t involve the young gentleman from back home!  But Marguerite’s  idyllic summer is ruined when her father’s gambling problems threaten to ruin her family and she is faced with an agonizing dilemma.  Does she marry to secure her family’s fortune or will she follow her heart?

 A debut novel by our very own Lorna!  I’ve read some of her work so I know that this will be a captivating read and I’m a tad shy of giddy at actually seeing it in my local Christian bookstore! 

 A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman  September 2010hope undaunted

 Set in the late 1920’s, little Katie O’Connor is all grown up and looking toward an exciting future which includes a career in law and a husband.  Of course Julie Lessman wouldn’t let it be that uncomplicated! So while future husband, Jack, is left waiting in the wings, Katie’s childhood nemesis, Cluny McGee resurfaces to throw her world – and plans – into chaos.

If you’ve read her Daughters of Boston series, you’ll be well acquainted with Katie O’Connor.  Readers have watched her grow up and I think we all feel motherly towards her.  It will be interesting to see what Julie has thrown at the youngest O’Connor girl — how Katie handles it!

 healer's apprentice

The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson October 2010

 A new YA medieval romance is about to hit the market in the form of a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I love this genre and am beyond excited to see this book release in the fall.  Isn’t the book cover gorgeous? And it’s Melanie’s debut novel!

 Rose, the woodcutter’s daughter, apprentices to the town healer and loses her heart to a forbidden love.

 And just to wet your appetite even more, take a look at her book trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2m9-Ap4IZE

 

Really looking ahead:

 Made To Order Family by Ruth Logan Herne  September 2010

Wrangler in Petticoats by Mary Connealy October 2010

Fatal Judgement by Irene Hannon – January 2011

What about you – are there any titles you just can’t wait to get your hands on?

Babies, Beginnings, and Hope

Don’t you just love babies? Holding a new baby stirs a hope in me. It reminds me that no matter how much life changes, it goes on. The little cutie at the top of the page was a new gift to our family this year. Micah, my grand-niece, was born shortly before Christmas, and when I saw her, I thought about how much promise her new life holds. 

A new year—especially one in a new decade—stirs much the same hope. A fresh start. Optimisim. The chance to wipe the slate clean, to re-evaluate our plans, and look to the future with hope.  I’ve never been a “resolutioner” but I do look at this time as a good opportunity to decide where I am and where I want to be by next year. Goal setting is especially important to me in the area of writing.

So, here’s my goal setting strategy. For times sake, I am applying it to writing, but I believe I need to take a look at all the areas of my life (physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) when I’m setting goals. I begin with prayer. My plans mean nothing if they are not His plans.

Review –I ask God to open my eyes to my strengths and weaknesses. I try to take an honest assessment of what I’ve done well, what I need to work on, and how He has blessed me.

KapowReinvent – Now it’s time to dream. If I could re-make myself, what would I change? Would I follow an exact writing schedule? Would I attend a number of workshops? Read “x” books on the craft? Make more writing friends or be a better critique partner? Anything goes right now. I don’t have to pick and choose what I have time for, what I can afford, or what I’m capable of doing. I give myself a few joyfilled minutes of being “Super Writer.”

Reset – Next, it’s time to reset what I want my “new” normal to be. Maybe I want a higher daily word count or to finish a new manuscript on a specific day. This is the part where we often list goals for a new year, but it goes beyond that. If I can reset my standards, then I’m mentally better prepared for addressing my new yearly goals. This is the time to select and order the importance of my goals.

ACFWMarleneDawnMe4Relationships – The next step is to determine who I need on my team in order to meet my goals. In my case, supportive writing friends, critique partners, an agent, and editors are a must. For example, with Making Waves coming out this fall from Revell, I will need friends willing to help me in promoting the book. Probably the most important part of this section in my goal setting is asking some friends to hold me accountable to these goals.

Resolve – Finally, the rubber meets the road and I have to commit to following through on any changes. Again, prayerfully, I have to make daily decisions on what will help me meet my goals and what distracts me. Some things are legitimate God-sent changes to my day, other things, like FreeCell on my computer, are distractions I allow or encourage. What I eliminate from my plan is as important as what stays in.

Since all of us at Inspirational Messages are “babes” in the writing area, it’s nice to think of the hope the future holds for each of us as well. We can hang onto the following verse, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” -Prov. 3:6 

 And doesn’t knowing that make goal setting a whole lot easier?