Friday, October 29, 2010

Queen of the Castle Devotional

I found this post over at Colletta's Kitchen Sink. I think it is a wonderful idea and I plan to follow along with the devotion beginning in January. I ordered the book from Amazon for .89. You can't beat that price. I will have it listed on My Amazon Bookstore on the right side of my blog. All you have to do is click on the book and it will take you to the site. Here is Colletta's post.

I wish I would have known when she started so I could follow along but she did inspire me to get the book and blog about my week-by-week study of it on my own.

The book contains "52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, dometically challenged or just plain tired homemaker."

Does this sound like you? Would you like to do this study with me?

Here's the book description from Amazon:

Being a keeper of the home demands that women possess a wide range of skills, from knowing what to do with a pound of ground round to being able to corral a rampant toddler and manage the carpooling schedule. Says author Lynn Walker, "By the time most of us realize we're a few towels short of a load in our homemaking skills, we're up to our thighs in dirty little soccer uniforms and don't have time to read a different book for each part of the job." Now the training, skills and tips every woman needs are all here in one delightful-to-read volume. From mothering to marriage, gardening to grilling, family vacations to flea markets, time management to Thanksgiving meals, chores and chocolate breaks, spiritual reminders and stress relievers, Walker presents "I've been there, sister" advice, recipes, ideas and funny stories for every woman who, like her, is NOT Homemaker of the Year. Five minutes a day, 52 weeks a year is all a woman needs to get the most of this inspiring, helpful read.
A few chapter titles are "Housework, Done Correctly Can Kill You" and "Trippity Doo-Dah: The Family Vacation".

I've paged through the book and it looks great! It contains quotes, specific prayer ideas, and key Bible verses. There are even "Chocolate Breaks"!

I'm really excited about this book and am going to find it hard to wait until January to start but I want to stick with the flow of the book and it starts with January.

What do you think? Are you in? Do you want to be the Queen of Your Castle? I know I do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where is your office?

As I sat on my couch I wondered where other writers had their office. I don't have an offical office, but I do have a regular desk in a corner of my bedroom. When I write at my desk it makes my shoulders hurt after a short time at the computer. The desk is just too high. I've found it is much more comfortable to sit on the couch with my computer on my lap. My brother bought me a portable lap top desk the other day and I really like it too. I can sit on the couch and use it, but it is still more comfortable with it in my lap.

Do you have a favorite writing place. I would love to hear your story.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Part Four in Big 4 Genres: Christian Suspense/Mystery

This is the last section of the Big Four Genres in Christian fiction by Ron Benrey from "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Cristian Fiction." It is also my favorite genre. I hope you've enjoyed reading about these four genres.

Christian Suspense/Mystery

Christians suspense and Christian mystery novels both focus on crime, but in different ways. Sometimes novels keep the reader guessing, wondering if the lead character, usually the heroine, will survive the onslaught of evil deeds directed against her. Mystery novels pose a puzzle, challenging the reader to figure out "who done it?" as the detective -- the heroine or hero -- works to identify the perpetrator. Both kinds of novel ratchet up the tension with each passing chapter.

Suspense and mystery novels typically have highly "internal" voices -- readers experience the heroines fear, uncertainty, in a race against time, and participate in the detectives thought processes as she solves the crime.

Both suspense and mystery of popular genres in their own right, and both have important subgenres:

* romantic suspense

* romantic mystery

* cozy mystery

The romantic suspense and romantic mystery sub genres don't need much explanation. they are novels that have fully developed romances as part of their plots. Cozies are "kinder, gentler" mysteries were clever plot twists are more important than graphic, in-your-face violence, where action takes place in an unusual setting that's fun to read about, where cats, dogs, and other pets are significant characters, and which may involve an elaborate MacGuffin, a bout a detail rich topic such as Bell ringing, fishing, painting, sailing, were museum management.

There seems to be a growing interest in the cozy mysteries, with some Christian publishers actually starting new cozy lines. However, Christian cozies face an interesting challenge: they must compete with mainline cozy mysteries, which are typically gentle radiance that meet most of the rules and conventions of Christian fiction. They don't carry explicit Christian messages, but they can be read without offense by most Christian readers.

As all writers of suspense and mystery novels know, it's often easier to put your characters in hot water than to get them out. Christian novelist are sometimes tempted to resolve plotting difficulties via improbable miracles, astonishing answered prayers, or other last-minute acts of God. This approach is often nothing more than a Christian variation on the ancient Greek dramatic technique of introducing a well-known god into the story at the end to untangle difficult plot problems. a pulley system lowered the gods statue to the stage and into the action. The term deus ex machina -- god from the machine-- is now used to label all artificial or improbable plot devices that miraculously resolve problems and bring a story to a close.

God must play an important role in every Christian novel, but readers of suspense and mystery novels expect the hero and heroines to get out of hot water mostly by their own devices. A bit of Gods help is fine--but God should not do their work for them.

Suspense and mystery novels all for a reasonable chance of success to the first-time novelist. Most Christian publishers have a few in their catalog, and some publishers produce several each year. length depends on publisher and sub genre, and can range from 55,000 words to about 95,000 words.

Among the most popular secular mystery novels are "police procedurals" -- stories that depict the gritty realities of police work-- and hard boiled private eye novels-- stories about knight-like private detectives who walked the main streets alone.a few Christian novels in these categories are published each year, but they appeal mostly to male readers. a first-time novelist won't find it easy to break in. Still, it can be done -- if you have highly polished writing skills.

Christian thrillers are often treated as sub genres of suspense, and like suspense novels, they keep the hero and heroine and continuous peril. The difference is that the stakes in a thriller are usually much higher. The protagonist is driven to do more than save himself -- or herself -- the storyline may involve a threat to the country, to our way of life, to Christianity, or even to the whole world.

Legal thrillers are thrillers set in courtrooms, or involving strong legal themes. They probably should be called legal suspense novels, because many revolve around the legal challenges faced by one character. Similarly, medical thrillers build suspense in a hospital or laboratory setting. Christian intrigue is a fairly small category that is often grouped with suspense. This is the time of the spy novel -- and similar fights of fancy --set in international locations and filled with secret agents and derring-do.

Because there are several successful Christian thriller writers, and because the market is limited, I don't recommend first-time novelist tackle the sub genre -- unless you are confident that you have especially good writing skills and can tell an extra compelling story.

Once again, I hope you've enjoyed reading about the different genres and what makes them the genre they are. I ask for forgiveness if any of the words come out misspelled or crazy sounding as I sometimes use my Dragon Naturally Speaking and it doesn't always understand my Southern accent. LOL


Monday, October 18, 2010

Part Three in Big 4 Genres: Christian Romance

This is part three in the "Big Four Genres" written in Ron Benrey's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction". Stayed turned for part four - my genre "Christian Suspense and Mystery".

Christian Romance

Half of the mass-market paperback novels sold each year are romances and -- secular and Christian. romances are so popular, in fact, that most Christian publishers produce some -- and a few make romance novels the heart of their offerings.

All romance novels are about love, but some might not be considered traditional love stories. The vital distinction is that many of stories have sad endings -- think Romeo and Juliet or the movie Casablanca -- while romance novels and happily and optimistically, with a live hero and heroine, in a fully realized romance. If the pair aren't married by the end of the novel, the reader feels confident that they're on their way to the altar.

Christian romance may well be the easiest genre for a first-time novelist to enter,because romance publishers have a voracious appetite for manuscripts. Some will still consider unagented manuscripts. Also, so-called "category romances" are only 45,000 to 60,000 words long, depending on the publisher. Many romance novelist report that they are easier to write than the longer novels demanded by other popular genres. Category romances are published in a variety of sub genres, or categories -- such as romance, romantic suspense, romantic intrigue, and historical romance. Publishers of category romance produce a few brooks in each category each month. The books are often numbered for easy identification and are available for a short period of time -- typically until next month's romances push them off the shelf. The two leading Christian category romance publishers are Steeple Hill(an imprint of Harlequin) and Barbour Books.

No other Christian genre has more sub genres and romance. The list includes historical romance, Gothic romance, romantic suspense, romantic mysteries, prairie romance, Western romance, fantasy romance, humorous romance, mature romance, and ethic romance -to name a few possibilities. Full-length romances range from 75,000 to 95,000 words.

There are conventions and the romance genre that are important for you to recognize:

* Because most readers are women, stories are usually towed from the heroine's point of view (or at least begin and end from her point of view).

*The hero and heroine meet in the first chapter-- this is the romance novel equivalent of beginning the story in media res, in the middle of things.

*The shifting relationship between hero and heroine is the heart of the story(the reason why readers read romance novels); readers don't appreciate back story or extraneous detail that gets in the way.

*The lead characters are often stereotypes-- the beautiful female with a mind of her own, the handsome alpha male used to getting his own way.

* The story takes place over a compressed time period -- a few days or weeks, which means that the heroine and heroes relationship must develop more quickly than a real relationship.

Most Christian romances follow a well-known story plan: girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy again -- where some sort of misunderstanding, personality conflict, or external force drives them apart after their relationship has begun. This storyline is so familiar that it may strike you as a cliché. In fact, it can serve as the frame for an unlimited number of different stories, because there are so many possible variations for each one of the elements

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Winner for "And the Beat Goes On" by Tracy Krauss





Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tune Up

I will be out of commission for a couple of days. I'm taking my computer in for a tune-up. Looking forward to getting back a more efficient computer.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Christian Historical Fiction

Part II in The Big Four Genres:

Christian Historical Fiction

Historical fiction, one of the most popular Christian fiction genres, tells stories set in the past. The dividing line used by many publishers as 1950; anything later is considered contemporary fiction.

Almost any historical time is fair game, but certain eras seem to intrigue readers-and editors -- in the United States: Civil War, post -- Civil War, Ragtime era(1895 to 1900), the Great Depression, and World War II. In Great Britain: Tudor( 1495 -- 1603) and Elizabethan (1558-1603), Regency
( 1811 -- 1820), Victorian( 1837 -- 1901), and 18th century Scotland.

Some historical novels include actual historical events in making famous people of the day cameo roles in the story. Others tell a story divorced from actual history; the historical times and places serve as stage sets that enable purely fictional characters to interact with each other. In either case, readers take a trip through time and enjoy the opportunity to experience a vivid sense of life in a different era. Depending on the publisher the length of Christian historical's ranges from 75,000 to more than 100,000 words.

Many first-time authors who set out to write Christian historical novels discover a more challenging task than they expected. Getting the details of history right demands extensive research to learn what historical figures wore, what they ate, how they dressed, how they talked, how they lived, how they thought, and how they prayed -- there's no end in sight to the myriad of information a successful historical may demand.

Planning an historical novel can also be a thorny task. You must find a compelling way to "retell" historical events that are significant, but may lack the dramatic tension of a good storyline. You must create subplots that fit into the chronology of events that history gives you. You must present real people of the day accurately and realistically. And you must invent fictional characters who are credible participants in a significant historical event.

I hope you enjoyed reading part two of the big four genres. Once again I must give credit to Ron Benrey and his book "The Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction." Stay tuned for part three:
Christian Romance.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I've been reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction" by Ron Benrey. We I read some of the information I think that would be great for my blog. So giving all the credit to Ron Benrey I'm going to take a genre each day and write what he has to say about each one.


Christian contemporary fiction is, like "general fiction," a broad category that encompasses novels that don't fit specific genres. I want to emphasize at the start that contemporary fiction is not a catchall category for jumbled genre books. Rather, it is the grouping for "uncategorized" novels that do not follow the conventions of well defined genres such as romance, mystery, suspense, or historical.

Christian contemporaries are usually full -- length novels, typically between 85,000 and 110,000 words. In fact, few 110,000 were Christian novels are published these days; the practical maximum work count is closer to 100,000 words. Publishers seem to prefer smaller books, perhaps because the cost less to produce. Many Christian contemporaries are reviewed by mainstream publications, and some become crossover gobbles with significant sales to secular readers.

"Christian women's fiction" is often considered part of contemporary fiction. You'll sometimes see "contemporary/women's fiction" as the name of the category. These are contemporary novels that deal with issues of special interest to women, including such angst filled topics as poverty, spousal abuse, child abuse, family breakdown, and abortion. They often contain love stories, but present romantic elements more introspectively and possibly less optimistically that a romance novel.

Sprawling categories like contemporary fiction will often have "subgenres" -- smaller groupings carved out of the main genre. For example, "Christian chick lit" is a recently developed contemporary sub genre that tells humorous stories of twenty something and possibly 30 something unmarried women. Because the plots typically revolve around their heroines efforts to get married, some observers view chick lit as a sub genre of the romance category. Others don't, first because a chick lit story doesn't necessarily lead to a "fully realized" romance and wedding, and second because chick lit often invites readers to laugh at other issues shared by single women, including their careers and their family relationships.

Chick lit started as a secular sub genre that often includes fairly loose -- living heroines who think materialistic, drink a lot, and engage in recreational sex. these elements are not included in Christian chick lit.

Another contemporary fiction subgenre -- one that waxes and wanes in popularity -- is the so-called "Christian character novel." The hallmark of a character novel is that the characters are more important than the plot. The actual story will be simple; so simple that some readers might say, "nothing happens as the story unfolds." In fact, one or more of the characters is changing -- usually in response to a combination of external and internal forces.

The next post will be on Christian Historical Fiction and it is very interesting. I learned a lot from this next section. Stay tuned!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interview and Giveaway for "And the Beat Goes On" by Tracy Krauss

I'm excited to host Tracy L. Krauss on my blog this month. She has been gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions for me. Please take the time to get to know Tracy better. Her website is


Outside of writing, I am a high school teacher of English, Art and Drama. I am very enthusiastic about the creative process, and love to paint, draw, printmake, quilt, direct and produce plays, and of course write, write, write! I have four grown children and have lived in many places in northern Canada, including the polar bear capital of the world. (No kidding). I currently live with my husband in beautiful Tumber Ridge, BC. I am also a woman of faith, which is often a theme that runs through my work. My husband and I pastored a church in the Yukon under the PAOC for ten years.



Canadian born archaeologist Mark Graham unearths a remarkable discovery while at a dig site in the mountains of Zimbabwe. Fossilized remains of a pterodactyl are found carefully buried alongside those of gigantic human bones. Speculation leads to the possible existence of a mythical race known as Nephilim, a pre-flood people alleged to have descended from both gods and men.

But skepticism and sabotage delay Mark and his fellow archaeologist as the dig site is compromised, putting their discovery -- as well as his very life -- in grave danger. Deceived and framed by trusted friends and colleagues, Mark struggles to safeguard his findings and protect his reputation in order to her on earth the mystery behind the Nephilim.


Tracy thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us.

1. Tracy would you tell us a little about your writing background? is this your first book or have you had other books before this published? Was your writing journey a long one?

I am a High School English teacher, so I guess that means I have 'head knowledge' when it comes to writing and pretty much know the conventions backwards and sideways. Following the rules doesn't always make for good writing, however, does it? (I tell my students that the difference between a B and an A is 'Sparkle' - style always trumps mechanics, but you have to know the rules before you can break them...) Enough with the English lesson already!
I have always been a lover of good books and I have been writing for pleasure for more than 25 years. Writing 'obsessively' is probably more accurate. Most of my author friends report the same compulsive need to write. AND THE BEAT GOES ON is my first published work, but I'm pleased to report I have several others in the works. My next release, MY MOTHER THE MAN EATER, is coming out before Christmas. The prequel to AND THE BEAT GOES ON, which is called PLAY IT AGAIN, is still in production

2.(a) "And the Beat Goes On" is different from any other Christian fiction I've read. Could you tell me what genre this book fits under. Also, what made you decide to write this particular book and on this particular subject? What were the challenges and rewards during your writing journey?

This book is classed as 'Romantic Suspense' although I'm not sure if that genre really fits perfectly. Sometimes I say "Archeological Thriller' and sometimes I prefer the emerging genre 'Edgy Christian'. As for my motivation, I was very early in my Christian walk struck by the seeming incongruity between the generally accepted theory of evolution and the 'Old Earth' timeline and what the Bible said about creation. Especially problematic for me was the subject of dinosaurs. Thus my interest led to research which then led to the idea for this novel. I also must admit that I love fantasy and sci-fi, so although I don't write in that genre myself, I wanted to include some tiny reference to the 'fantastic' - the Nephilim. The jury is definitely still out among Christians on that one, but I've been fascinated with the possibilites and thought I'd throw in my own twist. I don't pretend to be an expert on any of these topics, but hopefully I raise enough questions in my book that people will want to delve in themselves.
My biggest challenge when writing is always finding enough time to write. I also work full time, have raised four kids, been a Pastor's wife, volunteer at my church, and run an after school Theatre group for teens. My days (and nights) are pretty full.

(b) Would you tell us what edgy Christian fiction means and do you consider 'And the Beat Goes On" edgy Christian fiction?

There is no one definition for 'Edgy Christian Fiction', but it is a phrase that is getting tossed about a lot these days. To me it is fiction that includes a Christian element (either straight up 'gospel' references, or at least a redemptive message ...) but also pushes the envelope in terms of what most traditional Christian reading material has included up until this point. Examples might be 'risque' content, (realistic use of language, violence, sexuality etc.) protagonists that aren't perfect - even if they are Christians, or dealing with other hot topics within the church (infidelity, divorce, abuse etc.) When I say this, I don't mean to imply that 'Edgy' means grotesque or overly graphic. Good writing includes only what is necessary to get the story across, not gratuitous sex, swearing etc. just so one can get labeled 'Edgy'. Having said that, I have read some pretty heavy 'Edgy' Christian fiction. AND THE BEAT GOES ON is not overly graphic, in my opinion, but there is some mild 'cussing' and some reference to pre-marital sex.

3. What is your next project?

MY MOTHER THE MAN EATER is another Romantic Suspense about a forty something 'cougar' who is juggling five men simultaneously while also dealing with an ex con husband who is back for revenge. Things get complicated when her male prospects start falling for her grown daughters instead. It is fantastically fun (in my opinion) with lots of intrigue, humor, and edge of your seat suspense. Of course, it is also a redemptive story about facng one's past and letting God take control.

4. As an aspiring writer I always like to ask my visiting authors what advice they have to give those of us who are still plugging a way on our manuscript.

Tenacity. To me that is the one thing that you need as an author. You just have to keep plugging away at your craft and revise, revise, revise. Just when you think the manuscript is perfect, it probably still needs more work. Also, learning to get beyond the hurt feelings of criticism and rejection and actually learning from these experiences is essential. Sometimes we get so close to our own work that we can't really see the flaws objectively. Agents, editors and reviewers usually know what they're talking about. Finally, one needs tenacity in terms of sending out queries. Some rejection is based on a numbers game rather than the quality of your writing. So persevere.


Here are a couple things you need to know to sign-up for the giveaway.

1. You need to be a follower or sign up as a new follower. Be sure and leave your e-mail address so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

2. Tell me if you've heard the term "edgy Christian fiction". If so what are your thoughts about this. Have you read anything that would be considered "edgy Christian fiction"?
Here is a website to learn more:

3. Giveaway will end Sunday, October 17th.

Happy Reading!