Sunday, November 22, 2009

Everyday Life During the Civil War by Michael J. Varhola

Writer's Digest Books has a series of books on different time periods. Each book focuses on the daily life of that time period. I purchased Everyday Life During the Civil War at the bookstore when I attended one of the Romance Writers of America's conferences. I also purchased one about World War II time period. If I were to write an historical novel, it would be about one of those time periods.

The book contains forty-four illustrations with a variety of photos from walking clothes to a flintlock musket. Some topics addressed are recipes, games, slang, and currency.

The Appendix includes a time line, a bibliography of recommended books, resources including web sites, and song lyrics of the time.

I haven't found the books on the shelves at book stores, They can be ordered from Writer's Digest and from a book store if you knew what title you wanted to use for your research.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christian Writers' Market Guide by Sally E. Stuart

Almost time for the newest edition of Christian Writers' Market Guide. Since many changes occured this last year, I can hardely wait until January, 2010.
At the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's conference in May, I met and visited with Ms. Stuart. She's a pleasant lady who's a wealth of market information. Twenty-five years ago, she set out to compile information whereby writers could search in one place to find a list of possible markets. She tapped into as her sub title says "the essential reference tool for the Christian writer."
I write Christian short stories for adults and teens. Before I start a story, I research this book for newsletters and magazines that accept fiction, then determine what length they require, what rights are wanted, and what payment is involved. Ms. Stuart's book brings out information I often do not find on websites and displays markets that I've not yet discovered. I can safely choose a market listed in Ms. Stuart's book because I know they're all Christian-based.
I also write contemporary romance and women's fiction. In the Christian Writer's Market Guide, I can locate possible book publishers, know whether they accept unsolicited fiction, know word count wanted, and the current year's need for topics.
Along with these two major purposes, the book offers other useful helps for Christian writers such as places for research, groups for Christian writers, freelance jobs, upcoming conferences, and even a list of agents who accept Christian writing and what they accept or even prefer that year.
Every year, in January, this resource becomes available. I've asked to be put on the list where I automatically receive the book upon publication. I'm not charged until I receive it. During the year, Ms. Stuart notifies her readers of changes since the last book through her blog. For writers, it's a win-win purchase.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guest Blogger, Stephanie Gallentine

Greetings! This is Debra and I'm stepping in today to introduce our guest blogger.

This week is our current blogger Shirley Harkins week, but our critique partner, Stephanie Gallentine will blog in her place today. I've uploaded a picture of us together at Stephanie's recent booksigning. From left to right, Stephanie, myself, Sue, and Shirley (not pictured Janet Brown).

So, without further ado, let me present our guest blogger, Stephanie Gallentine...

Raised in North Texas, Stephanie spent much of her childhood making up stories filled with action, adventure, and angst. From the time she was a young teenager, she started scribbling those adventures down on paper.

Years later, she met and married her husband, Robert. They have two fabulous children, Heather and Andy. Now, by day, Stephanie serves up lunches in her local school cafeteria. By night, she enjoys serving up stories filled with mystery, mayhem, and salted with the often mysterious yet always miraculous hand of God in the lives of teenagers.

Her first story, Refuge, is due out this August from Word Aflame Press.


Being a plot-first writer, I often find myself struggling with character depth. This week my friend sent me a CD of almost five hours of lessons from the 2009 ACFW conference called Pinpoint, Diagnose, and Heal the Broken Places in Your Novel presented by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck.

All I can say is wow! I couldn’t take notes fast enough as she went through common diagnoses from critique partners, editors, or agents. Topics dealing with character goals and the lies they tell themselves suddenly became clear, whereas before I struggled to really grasp the concept enough for it to benefit my own writing.

Other topics covered included discovering your characters noble cause, their goals, how to write an imperfect yet believable Christian character, plot problems, the heroes journey, the writer’s voice, and writing dialogue that ‘snaps’.

They also have a website called where you can look up topics like these in their archives. If you are ready to inject life into your novel, the doctor is in the house and ready to help your novel be the best it can be.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Love Untamed by JoAnn Chartier and Chris Enss

I've been reading several books on what life was like in the 19th Century. I wish I could read them faster and retain everything I've read. I have so many ideas for book reviews, but just can't seem to keep up to date on my reading.

My current favorite book is, Love Untamed, Romances of the Old West, by JoAnn Chartier and Chris Enss.

Some of the real life love stories in this book are tragic with no happily-ever-after-ending, however there are several that end on a happy note and these stories are my favorite.

Backcover Blurb:
In these pages you'll meet a soiled dove who longed for a fairy-tale romance but instead fell for an ailing miner; a quiet schoolmarm who risked life and limb for her adventuresome husband; a spinster who refused to reveal the secrets of her heart despite a proposal from a dashing, prominent rancher; an actress who found her true love when she needed him most; and a rich couple who lost everything except their intense dedication to each other.

The romances of thirteen couples are explored in this book and represent the variety of relationships and love affairs that added color, controversy, and commitment to the unmatched days of the Old West.

Since HEA are my favorite endings, I want to tell you about two of the romances which I adore. The first one is about a couple madly in love with one another and leave their families and friends after their wedding with all their wedding gifts and all their clothes and set off on a ship to Honeymoon on the east coast.

However, as they near the southeastern coast of the U.S.A, a hurricane pops up. The storm takes their ship. Row boats are lowered into the water and women and children are the first to board. As the new wife boards another boat, she watches as the lights from the boat her husband is on sinks deep into the blackness of the ocean during the darkness of the night. Heartbroken, she sails to their destination point a new wife turned grieved wife.

When her ships docks, she disembarks. News at the harbor suggests that another rescue boat boarded all the men from the sinking ship she and her husband had sailed on. Trying not to get her hopes too high, she begins looking for her husband. In the distance, she discovers her husband is looking for her. Together at last, they embrace grateful God had spared their lives. Together, they owned not a stitch of clothing nor any of their gifts had survived. But together they cherished the greatest gift of The couple went on to live their life to the fullest, which included a home of their and children they adored.

My next favorite story is about teenage love. A young man took a fancy to a young woman. He escorted her to a town social. At the party, he became jealous of his best friend's attentions toward this young woman. The young men challenged each other to a pistol duel. Our young man shoots and kills his best friend. He runs away leaving the young woman heartbroken, yearning for his love.

As the years pass, the young woman had many men interested in her, but refused their attentions. She determined if she couldn't have her young man than she wouldn't marry at all.

The young man left the east coast and headed for the mountains in the mid-west. He learned how to survive on nature alone...becoming a sort of mountain man.

The woman heard stories of a wild man whose personality resembled her one true love, but as she made inquiries she soon discovered that this man had died.

Fifteen years had passed and the young woman's father loads up the family and travels west. As they near Colorado they are watched by angry Indians.

Miles away the young man turned wild man hears of some travelers who are being stalked by Indians. When one of the witnesses remarks about the traveler's last name the man assumes his one true love is one of them. He and his friends rides to save the family.

As they arrive, the Indians attack, killing the father. The wild man chases off the Indians and returns to the wagon. There he finds the girl of his dreams, the love of his youth, the reason he never could allow himself to marry. The woman who held his heart.

Together, they took the family to their destination and then they married, living happily-ever-after.

I think what really amazes me about that story is how ironic it is for a man who loses himself in the woods in middle America to pop up in the nick of time to save the woman he left behind on the east coast.

Sometimes real life is better than fiction.

Writing Tip of the Day