Monday, December 28, 2009

A Tribute to Shirley Harkins by her Writing Friends

One of our contributors, Shirley Harkins, lost her battle with cancer today.

She wrote this about herself on her Caring Bridges site:

"I was admitted to the hospital on April 11th, 2008 complaining of excruciating pain in my back. At that time, my prognosis was "iffy" at best. At that time, the cancer was aggressive, spreading to my spine, pelvis, ribs, and liver. Thank God, He seems to have had other plans for my life. After months of chemo therapy, there no longer is evidence of cancer in my liver or pelvis. God is merciful and good.I continue to follow the suggestions of a nutritionist to support the more aggressive therapies, by strengthening my immune system and helping my body fight off the cancer cells. I also exercise doing water jogging and I exercise spiritual muscles and faith by regularly studying God's Word and extra biblical resources. Daily prayer and meditation is also a vital part of my protocol. I rely on the prayers of family and friends for support.
I have tremendous respect for all the professionals on "Team Shirley," but I rest my faith on the Great Physician, the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of His compassion, mercy, and love, and not due to any righteousness on my part, the cancer is succumbing to treatment. God is good! His results are always glorious and the Glory is forever His. Amen and amen."

Moonine Sue Watson's Thoughts About Shirley:

I first met Shirley on line when she joined our critique group. She was working on a book based on her experiences in the first platoon in the Women's Army Corp to participate in requiring the same level of training for women as the men. As I read her stories and met her personally, I grew to respect this courageous woman whose deep faith as she fought the battle of a lifetime deepened my own. If I had only heard her story of her Army days, I would have thought she was a unique woman I was proud to call friend. But to share her battle with her as the disease attacked her body was a spiritual journey that has changed me as a person. She loved the Wichita Mountains. We met at the chapel in the Holy City for prayer and devotions on a beautiful July day last summer. God was there with us. She and I split a huge buffalo burger at Meirs as well as a peach cobbler with homemade ice cream. We laughed and enjoyed each bite. Shortly after that, she lost the ability to eat solid foods. I miss her, but I know she's in Heaven, laughing and dancing with Jesus. Bless you, Shirley. I'm a better person for having known you.

The Day I Met Shirley Harkins

With love by

Janet K. Brown

Debra Calloway and I waited in Applebee’s in Wichita Falls, Texas for the newest member of our writing group to arrive. We’d only “talked” by e-mail. Our other member, Sue Watson, was unable to attend. Time ticked by. Shirley was late.
“How will we recognize her?” I asked.
Debra thought about our problem. “I wish we’d thought to get a cell phone number. Maybe she’s not coming.”

A dark headed lady walked in with a teenaged girl. No introduction was necessary. Shirley headed for our table, and we hugged in greeting. She always belonged.
Last Christmas, Shirley visited my house to critique, just she and I. “I worry you’ll be nice critiquing my work because I’m sick. I want the truth,” she said.

The truth is she was a great writer. I also remember her humor, her serious study of God’s word, her talent at drama, and her love for her family. Our circle at the writing table stands vacant, but God’s circle in heaven is more complete.

Steph Gallentine's thought on Shirley:

How do I sum up in one short post the impact someone had on your life? Shirley was an awesome encourager, a great writer, an honest critique partner, a wonderful friend, and my number one fan. :0)

The most memorable time we had was this summer when we all traveled to the Refuge, a place in the Oklahoma Mountains, where we had our July writer's meeting. Shirley had brought the DVD she had written and had gotten filmed and I had brought my newly published book, Refuge. Neither one of us had brought cash money so we couldn't purchase the other's item.

"I'll trade you a DVD for a book," I said.

She smiled and within moments, our barter was happy and successful.

Later, after we'd eaten lunch, we parted with Shirley and headed back home. Shirley kept waving for us to pull over. We all were worried because she had forgotten her medicine. Assuming she was sick, we pulled over, fully expecting to drive her back home. She got out of the car and met us at our car. "You forgot to sign my book." We all laughed for the longest time. She was so precious and I'm so thankful God brought her into my life.

Debra Calloway's Thoughts on Shirley:

I'll never forget two years ago when we first formed our local critique group, I began looking for new members. I saw Shirley's name pop up on the American Christian Fiction Writers loop as a new member. I was so excited and contacted her immediately since I knew she was nearby.

Instantly, there was a bond. We just clicked. She was so excited to meet our little group. It was some time before we had our first meeting with her. We met at a local restaurant and I was so worried I wouldn't know who she was and miss her, but that wasn't the case. We gravitated toward each other the second she walked in the building.

From the beginning of our friendship with Shirley, each of us has learned something new from one another. I will miss her terribly.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy is a hot off the presses book that needs to be on every writer's bookshelf. The book consists of nineteen chapters full of topics to help any writer from a beginner to an experienced.

I attended a Randy Ingermanson workshop at the American Christian Fiction Writers' conference in Dallas a few years ago. I am a subscriber to his The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine which gives writing advice. When Randy announced his book and offered it for purchase, I immediately ordered it.

My copy is already full of post-it notes, and I'm only a quarter of the way through. He helps a writer determine at what level she is and makes suggestions for skills that need to be mastered to move to the next level. The Five Pillars of Fiction are identified for in depth study in later chapters.

The best advice I've received so far is to write the first draft without worrying about grammar or details. Those will be taken care of in subsequent drafts. He also helps a writer identify her style of writing to make writing a creative project instead of a blank page.

I expect to consult this book on a regular basis. Order a copy. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Cup of Comfort for Writers edited by Colleen Sell

This week we will celebrate our Lord's birth. In the bustle of activity surrounding Christmas, I found the book "A Cup of Comfort for Writers" to be a good kick-back-and-relax-your-feet kind of read. To be honest, I added this book at the last minute to my order for Writers' Digest Books. The small anthology of inspiring stories cost little, but has added much to my days.
I've found it hard to complete writing obligations this month. How refreshing to read how other writers faced similar problems. Whether it was learning to balance spending time with my spouse and time with writing like Samantha Ducloux Waltz or facing the fact that I'm a publication addict like Alaina Smith, I find practical advice or at least sympathy on these pages. My very favorite story, written by Cynthia Ruchti, reads like a comical version of my life.
Out loud, I read one paragraph to my husband who doubled over laughing. "I never knew there was another person like you," he said.
Within his words is the reason I recommend this short book for your delight. You could find yourself on every page.
Praying for Christmas peace for all of our readers and writers this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Kiss A Day: 77 Days in the Love of God from the Song of Songs, by Jamie Lash, McDougal Publishing, © 1996, 2004 by Jamie Lash

If I am to weave God’s principles into my writing, I must be familiar with and living these tenets in my daily life in at least as much as I have grown in the Word. A responsible writer, or Christian for that matter, studies Scripture on a regular basis. Other benefits from this disciplined practice are to learn more about God’s and Jesus’s natures, to build faith, and to prepare me for spiritual attack.

I don’t know about you, but I like a good devotion to begin my quiet time with the Lord each day. Reading the insights of others gently transitions me from my hectic world to a spirit focused and ready to receive God’s Word.

In the past, I’ve reviewed Oswald Chambers, an excellent devotional. This time I feature a book called A Kiss a Day: 77 Days in the Love of God from the Song of Songs, by Jamie lash. If you are at all romantic, this devotional will especially delight you. If not, Ms. Lash’s devotions may inspire some starry-eyed images certain to rekindle your First Love you had with Messiah.

As the theme of her devotions, Ms. Lash focuses on different verses, and not all from the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon. She blends in enough self disclosure to make her devotions more credible as the reader gets a glimpse into her tender heart. Many of the entries end with short prayers designed to close the gap between the reader and the King.

Along with passionate words, Ms. Lash also includes insights wrought from the Hebrew origins of words. Likewise, she explains biblical customs of the day to enrich the readers’ understanding of various events mentioned in the Song of Songs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Lash is a Messianic Jew. She converted to Judaism shortly after her husband, a Jew who accepted Jesus as Messiah, led her to the Lord in prayer. Like the television ads, this book isn’t available in stores, but you can purchase it from their ministry website I was not given this book by the author in exchange for promoting her title. I just include this information in case you would like to be blessed by this beautiful book of devotions. Fall in love with your King again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Pro

I'm excited to talk to you about a new software, Randy Ingermanson has created. It's called the Snowflake Pro. It was adapted from his Snowflake Method of creating a novel. This software enables writers to create their characters and storylines before actually writing their novel. The best part is no more notecards for me. In this handy-dandy software package the pages are user friendly and saves all your information right in one place on your computer.

I've tried other writing softwares in the past and spent more money on them then what Mr. Ingermanson charges, and wasn't satisfied with them. The ease of this software is incredible. I have already encouraged my critique partners to purchase their own copy of this program. And now I'm encouraging you. I'm positive you won't regret buying your copy today.

Here's What You Get in Snowflake Pro

Here are some of the key things you get in Snowflake Pro:

•An easy form to work through each of the key steps of the Snowflake method:
◦Your one-sentence storyline. This is your most powerful selling tool for selling your book.
◦Your one-paragraph summary. If somebody asks about your "Three-Act Structure," this is it in one paragraph. Memorize it before you talk to editors or agents.
◦Your character key info. Each character's storygoals, ambition, epiphany, and other crucial information. If you don't understand your characters, odds are it's because you haven't asked yourself the right questions yet.
◦A one-page synopsis. Grow this naturally from your one-paragraph summary. This is your baseline for creating the synopsis you'll need for your editor someday.
◦Character sketches. These are terrific for inserting straight into a proposal because editors love character-oriented fiction.
◦A four-page synopsis. Grow this out from your one-page synopsis. With this in hand, you'll know all the important turns in your story.
◦Character bibles. This is where you save all those pesky details you need to write three-dimensional characters. Take care of the details and your characters will take care of you.
◦A scene list. You can get this rolling by importing one of your synopses, then tweak it so you have an overview of every scene in your novel. This makes rearranging scenes in your novel a breeze. Includes a word-count projection so you always can estimate how long your novel will be.
◦Scene details. Any stray information that you need for each scene goes here. Don't lose that info! Put it where you can't miss it.

•Audio help on each stage of the Snowflake. If you're an audio learner, this will help lock it into your memory.

•Text help on each stage of the Snowflake. If you need to see the words, this is for you.

•Four example Snowflakes to show you how it's done:
◦Gone With The Wind
◦Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
◦Pirates of the Caribbean
◦Pride and Prejudice

•A button to create the skeleton of your proposal. Click that button, and Snowflake Pro will write an RTF file that contains the core of a proposal. Don't be paralyzed by doubt about how to write a proposal.

•The accumulated wisdom of 20+ years of a published novelist. I've published six novels. I've won about a dozen awards. The Snowflake method contains what I believe to be core to writing fiction. I have no patience for the fluff, so I left that out.

Buy yours today at:

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