Research, Chocolate, and Cake!

I’ve been at my mom’s all week, playing with my great niece…she’s a doll I tell ya, a doll! And today, I’m in St. Louis with my sister! 

Yep, it’s a research trip for a new book I’ve been plotting. I grew up a little over an hour away, so I’m familiar, but I haven’t looked at it from a writer’s view and I haven’t been to some of the places my characters will be! 

If you love chocolate desserts and drinks you
MUST CLICK HERE to see where I’ll be!

I’ll be visiting Lafayette Square and Bailey’s Chocolate Bar (which may or may not be research) as well as a few other places my characters will hang out, live, or work!

Saturday is Crimson’s first birthday party! Seems like just yesterday she was born. I blogged about it HERE.

Holding Crimson after she was born!
Crimson a year later! She’s a mess! 🙂

I’m getting her fake food for her new toddler kitchen and a gift card to KFC, since she loves potatoes and gravy from there! Yeah, I’m that aunt! 

Sunday, I’ll be heading home. So with all the crazy busy stuff going on, I’ll be taking a blogging break on Monday, but will be back on Wednesday!

I talked about romance and dog poop over at Lisa Jordan’s blog yesterday. I’d love for you to come by! Lisa’s new website is gorgeous like her!

If someone gave you a chunk of change and told you to visit somewhere fun this summer, where would you go? 

Crafting a Plot

I’m not a serious plotter. By that, I mean I don’t know every single scene and how many words each chapter will be or how many chapters the story will actually have. 

I do know my major plot points, beginning and end. Everything in the middle is a discovery to me. I can fix any issues in the editing process. 

I’m plotting a new story (major plot points); it’s in the baby stages–not even ready to send to my agent to say, “What do you think? Should I run with this or call it a day?” 

Craft books have come in handy for sure, but truth is I like to apply that knowledge (mostly) when I go into the editing process. My first draft is all about imagination–seeing it play out like a movie in my head and exploring along with my characters. 

I’m looking forward to figuring out the middle main plot points so I can write up a synopsis and send to my agent. I haven’t written from a clean slate in over a year. Maybe two. I had so many mss under my belt, I’ve been taking them from first drafts to polished pieces.  Although I admit, after all the editing/polishing they are like new books. I’m finally about to send off the last ms to my critique partners and get a green light on this new book to write. Hopefully. I’m pretty excited about it!

I’ve been reading Story Structure Architect and it’s wonderful. I’ve been using it to plot out my main stuff and it’s been very helpful. I’m curious how much tighter my first draft writing will be compared to my previous ones. 

Check out my Pinterest page to see more craft books I’ve thanked God for! Also, you can catch a sneak peek at my new plot ideas for the book. I tend to develop ideas as I research, so I’ve been imagining a few things!

Writers: Are you plotters, pantsers or somewhere in between and what craft book/s do you recommend? 
Readers: Are you on Pinterest? Let me know in the comments and I’ll follow your boards!

Friend of a Writer: What’s That Like?

Hey everyone! Today is coffee with Jess and “Jane”! Backstory: “Jane” came over and we laid/lied? around gabbing most of the day then decided, “Hey, let’s make a YouTube!” So we did. I apologize for our serious lack of make-up, our ratty hair and over-abundance of giggles. Okay, I don’t apologize for the giggles. 

* “Jane” has never done a video, so her swaying, eye batting,  and uncertainty in her facial expressions are hilarious! 

*You can see pictures of our “research trip” HERE!  scroll all the way down!

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday! 

Postcards, Smooching Llamas, and Beth K. Vogt!

Connect with Beth!
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Today, I am ecstatic to hang out with the wise, lovely, talented author, Beth Vogt. I read her debut novel, Wish You Were Here and I gotta say, it was so much fun to read. I laughed out loud, I swooned, and I’m pretty sure I laughed and swooned some more!
Beth K. Vogt is a
non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the
wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d
never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said
she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the
doors marked “Never.” Her inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard
Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star,
releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS
International.
JP: You said
you’d never write fiction. The world is a better place because you do! Tell us
why you chose romance?
BV: God turned a
season of burnout into a bend in the writing road and I found myself on the
“Dark Side” writing a novel. I’ve always loved to read romances – contemporary,
historical, even some suspense – so it was a natural choice for me to try
writing one.
JP: In your debut
novel, one of your male characters, Daniel, has spent years sending your
heroine, Allison, postcards. Are you a postcard fan? Do you collect them? How
did this idea come to you? It was one of my favorite things about the book,
among so many others!
BV:The title Wish You Were Here came first – after several
misfires – and then the idea for the postcards came after that. It just seemed
natural that Daniel would send Allison postcards – glimpses of all his travels.
Most of the postcards are based on places that my family has lived or visited
through the years.
JP: Can you share
with us one of your favorite lines from this novel and tell us why?
BV:This is some
dialogue between Seth, Allison’s ex-fiancé, and her stepfather, Will:
“I’m sorry about how
things ended between you and Allison. But that doesn’t give you the right to
get physical with my daughter. Do I make myself clear?
Seth closed his
eyes, searching for a way to make amends. “Look, Mr. Denman, Allison and I had
a bit of a disagreement before Christmas. I assure you that I didn’t hurt—”
“The only thing you
can say at this time is ‘Yes, sir.’”
Seth gritted his
teeth. “Yes, sir.”
When I wrote this
scene I imagined what my husband would say if he were talking to Seth – I think
I even asked him. Will represents safety for Allison – and he comes through for
her again. I believe fathers can (should) play a crucial role in their daughter’s
life – and one facet of that role is to protect them.
JP: I remember grinning at this snippet! Daniel is a
big-time outdoorsman. What about you? Indoor girl or Outdoor? Have you ever
done any of the things he did in the book?
BV: I’m an indoor
girl who married an Eagle Scout-outdoor guy. I love to watch my husband camp.
My husband and I enjoy snowshoeing and we’ve gone snowmobiling. The scene where
Daniel breaks his knee cap? That one is taken from real life. Several summers ago,
my husband broke his knee while we were hiking. After our daughters headed down
the mountain to alert the rescue team, he splinted his leg with two tree
branches, bandanas and a rolled up T-shirt and with the help of two guys,
started hiking down the mountain. We met the rescue team halfway down.
JP: Oh, wow! You
married the real MacGyver! So tell us, did you try on wedding dresses for fun,
you know as inspiration for the novel!? What kind of research, hands-on/off,
did you do?
BV:The only one
trying on wedding dresses was my oldest daughter, who got married in 2011. I
did visit a llama ranch to get up close and personal with llamas. I even shared
a few kisses with some of them.
JP:  Um…I’ve done lots for research, never
smooched a llama! Okay, now a couple of fun questions before you have to go! If
you could be a character in any book you’ve read, who would you choose and why?
BV: Oh. My. Word.
That’s a tough one. I’ll go with Anne of Anne
of Green Gables. I love that girl’s spunk and intelligence and
imagination and sense of adventure!
JP: Fill in the
blank: If I were out for the day, I’d be lost without __________ and
__________, but I could make it without __________________.
BV:  If I were out for the day, I’d be lost
without my sunglasses and my iPhone, but I could make it without breakfast or
lunch..
JP: I could make it,
but I wouldn’t want to! Before you go, what would you like to ask the readers
today? They love to comment!
BV: I’ll offer them
two questions: If you could be a character in any book you’ve read, who would
you choose and why? And here’s an easier one: What 2 things do you need to make
it through the day?
Good questions!
Thanks, Beth, for hanging out today!  
Here’s a sneak peek of Wish You Were Here
Purchase
Wish You Were Here
HERE! 
 Kissing the wrong
guy days before her scheduled
wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to
happily ever after?
Allison
Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong.
The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.
Still,
kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she
have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at
this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of
postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something
more. But how can betraying her fiancé’s trust lead to a true happily ever
after?
Can
Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the
answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way
again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her
carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead.

Write That Book! But First….!!!!

So today’s question comes from  Beth Vogt who will be here on Monday to chat about her debut novel, Wish You Were Here! 

Enjoy the vlog and have a great weekend! My son’s birthday is today! He’s 8! 

Also, I think I was supposed to ask Do you NOT mind..blah blah blah, not do you Mind…blah blah blah. Whatever, just go with it! 

Super Star!

 

Ok, it’s possible that I’m not a Super Star but let me and Mary Catherine Gallagher have our moment. Last week I was awarded the Versatile Blogger award by the super sweet, Barbara Hartzler! We both attended Central Bible College, but years apart. Fine. I went first. Sigh. I’m old. So what! Barbara is a YA novelist and her blog covers writing, faith and entertainment. She’s very funny! 

The dealio for receiving the award is you have to thank the one who gave it to you. 

 
Thank you, Barbara! You are awesome!
 
Then you have to write 7 things about yourself. Well…I write stuff about myself all the time. In fact, I keep 10 random things about myself posted on its own page every day. 
 
So I’m going to mix my award with a tag I received from the fabulous, classy, super fit, (and vegetarian…let’s not hold that against her) author, Jennifer Shirk. Jennifer writes sweet romances for Avalon Books and Samhain Publishing. She has all kinds of fun stuff on her blog including guest authors, recipes, and tips on writing. She’s hilarious too! She tagged me in the Lucky 7 Meme  and so did the ever sarcastic and witty (also adorable new mom…again) Jaime Wright! which means I have to:
 
Go to page 77 in my current manuscript
 
Go to line 7
 
Copy the next 7 lines/paragraphs and post them as they’re written (no cheating!) 
 
Pass the meme on to 7 other writers
 
 
Please, for the love of all that’s good and decent don’t hold this against me! These lines come from the piece of trash, wonderful story in the erotica  romantic suspense genre that I’m trying to re-create from a pitiful first draft, with the tentative title Fifty Shades of Red Pigeon’s Blood.
 
 
 
“Who
forgot to send me the memo about no costumes?” Lee folded her arms and Heather
reached over and pushed them back to her sides. It was obvious she was a woman,
but crossing her arms exposed it more than necessary.
 
“I told
you it was a Fall Festival. For his church.”
 
“You never said church!” She glared at Asher.
“You’re religious? I knew you had to
have a flaw somewhere.” She frowned and looked at Heather again. “Fall
Festival, Halloween. Same thing.”
 
“No, Fall
Festival is in place of a Halloween party. Remember? Halloween-like party I said.” Heather glanced at Lee’s
head and giggled. “Nice horns by the way, Temptress.”
 
Maddox
tried to give her his jacket and she shoved it back. “I’m not cold.”
 
He pursed
his lips as if to hold back a fountain of words. Could he? Tonight was not the
night and Lee was already furious with him. “Penthouse called. They want their
costume back.”
 
No such
luck. Asher would kick them all out for their crass behavior. Amelia hadn’t
even had the chance to go on her first ever hayride. 

 

 
So there you have it. FYI, Asher did not kick them out. 
 
And now I am tagging the following writers to post their Lucky 7! 
 
 
If you’re a writer and feeling brave, go ahead and post yours too, just let me know so I can come read it! 
 
What’s your favorite flavor of Popsicle? It’s summer and my youngest is barreling through them. Mine’s banana! 

Would You Rather Wildflowers from Winter Style!

 

 
Today is another fun day with author, @KatieGanshert! I’ve asked
her, Bethany, and Evan (her main characters) to play Would You Rather…! So let’s
get started.
 
 
Would You Rather…
 
Eat cookie dough or brownie batter?
 
Bethany:
Brownie batter. It’s the only thing I can bake without ruining. And it brings
back some good memories with my mom, before things flipped inside out. Whenever
she made brownies, she’d give one beater to me and one to my brother to lick.
 
Evan:
How about a nice pork tenderloin instead? Or one of Robin’s pies?
 
Katie:
Brownie batter! Sometimes I make brownies just so I can lick the bowl. Yum,
yum, yum.
 
live in a rockin treehouse or a  sweet underground lair?
 
Bethany:
The tree house. It would probably feel a lot like the loft I live in now. And
I’d love to design it. Evan would probably never believe it, but I was a big
tree climber when I was a little girl.
 
Evan:
Tree house. My brothers and I built a really sweet treehouse when we were kids.
Sometimes I’d go up there at night and listen to the crickets.
 
Katie:
A sweet underground lair with lots of tunnels that I could explore.
 
fly or read minds? 
 
Bethany:
Fly. Life would have been a lot easier when I was a kid if I could have left
all the junk on the ground and taken to the sky.
 
Evan:
Read minds. I’d love to know what Bethany is thinking beneath that front she
works so hard to put up.
 
Katie:
Fly. Edward Cullen can keep his super power. I think I would hate to hear
everybody’s private thoughts.
 
Thanks, Katie, for spending the week with us. We’ve laughed, been challenged and have had a great time all around!
 
What
say you? Answer the questions in the comment section!  
 
 
A young architect at
a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her
trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother
reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is
called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any
emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected
inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces
Bethany to come up with a new plan.
 
Handsome farmhand
Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left
the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he
disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps
so carefully locked away. 
 
For Bethany, making
peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to
freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she’s not
even sure exists? 
 
Author, Katie Ganshert
Purchase Wildflowers from Winter HERE

 

Faith Readers Review: Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

The excitement was over-the-top! Not only was our rockstar, Jan Kerley, bringing Surprise Strawberry cupcakes (the surprise was a cream cheese and chocolate chip center…uh yeah, awesome) but we had the amazing opportunity to skype with author, Katie Ganshert–her first book club group to chat live with! Yay! You can see our picture on her book club page HERE! She has the cake from the story (which had I been on my A game, I’d have baked) as well as discussion questions and a youtube video for bookclubbers! So cool!  

We spent the first 30 minutes of our time discussing the book–yah know before Katie’s turn! 🙂  
Our rating 1-5 stars: 4 stars!

I think for the first time ever, everyone liked this book! Here’s some of the things we said pre-Katie:
“I connected with Bethany from the very get-go.”

“I didn’t connect with her at first but then I realized how insecure she was, and by the end I forgot she was a fictional character.”

“I loved the romance! It wasn’t too much but just enough that it didn’t overpower the real story.”

“I want to meet Evan! Whoo–that kiss!”

“Whoo–that dance!!”

“I thought Robin’s grief was real, too real. It hit home and that’s all I could focus on.” 

“I think the author wrote beautifully but not over my head.”

“I want that cake recipe!”

“I’d like Evan!”

And then we had the chance to skype with the beautiful, smart, and funny Katie Ganshert! She was very personable and interactive with us which is fabulous!  She even asked us questions! I loved that and so did our Faith Readers. It made us all feel valuable. I can’t quote everything said because I don’t want to give anything away! But here’s a few things I can share!
Katie sent us a picture of who she thought Evan looked like! 

She explained some of the changes her editor asked for, which was amazing how she pulled off those feats! 

She talked about some of her inspiration, people she talked to about grief and a book she read.

Everyone took turns on the camera asking questions and laughing. It was a great night! 


Katie’s debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter is an amazing book and I encourage anyone to read it! In honor of her release, I’ve invited Katie to spend the rest of the week on the blog!
Wednesday, she’ll be sharing a powerful devotion with you and on Friday we’ll play Would You Rather with Bethany and Evan, her main characters and Katie herself! It’s going to be lots of fun so make sure you come back and visit! 
Here’s a sneak peek at Wildflowers from Winter! 
A young architect at
a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her
trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother
reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is
called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any
emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected
inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces
Bethany to come up with a new plan.
Handsome farmhand
Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left
the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he
disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps
so carefully locked away. 
For Bethany, making
peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to
freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she’s not
even sure exists? 
What’s your favorite cupcake? Have you ever made a recipe an author included in the novel? 

Fairly Legal

 

One of my favorite shows on TV is Fairly Legal starring Sarah Shahi as Kate Reed. This show is about a woman whose father dies, leaving his law firm to her and his ex-much much younger wife, Lauren Reed. Kate has a law degree, but what she wants is to help people through mediation. 

Each week as a new case comes her way, she’s discovering the truth about people and sometimes it’s ugly. Her ex-husband to be, whom she still loves but they can’t seem to get along and make things work, is the assistant D.A. She’s constantly asking him for help and he’s usually reluctant since it , most times, gest him in trouble. But he still loves her.

I love the tension between Kate and Justin. You know they’re disfunctional but you root for them because they love each other and it’s comedic at times.

 

 
Kate and ex Justin

And then of course you have her conflict with the ex-stepmother who’s practically her age and an equal partner in the firm. Jealousy, bitterness and all those things surround Kate’s feelings for Lauren and even though you know Lauren really loved Kate’s dad, you aren’t ever sure what she’s really thinking. But when Kate gets in some jams, Lauren is there for her and the slow evolution of a friendship…very…very slow is nice to see.

 

 
 

And you can’t have a great story without a fun side-kick, aka secondary character. And that’s where Leo comes in. Her assistant, friend, and all around fun loving nut! They have a great relationship and you know there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for her. You also know, there’s no romantic chemistry there. Why? Because the actions and dialogue convey it. Good writing! 

 

What’s a story without a truth-teller? Someone who pushes you and makes you think. That’s where judge Nicastro comes in. He’s funny, stern, and he cares about Kate, even if it seems like he’s punishing her at every turn with insisting cases upon her. He’s wise and full of good truth that makes her think about who she is, why she acts in certain ways, and in his fatherly, judge-like way, encourages her to be better. 

Enter season two. 

Kate and Justin seem like they might forget the divorce and give it another try, as Kate has had some soul-searching and events happen in her life provide an epiphany! 

But Justin reveals devastating news and Kate can’t move forward.

Enter Ben Grogan, actor Ryan Johnson.

Another amp up in tension. Ben Grogan is an arrogant, all about money, shady lawyer who through interesting and funny events ends up as another partner at Kate’s firm. The sparks between them are electrifying! He’s sarcastic and obnoxious and she’s beside herself that he works there.

However, inside Ben Grogan lies a boy from the wrong side of the tracks trying to prove he’s worth something and he hides that behind a huge wall of arrogance and a mask of I-could-care-less. 

I love watching that wall break down little by little through the sweet things he does on occasion. However, they generally back fire and the wall pops back up, but that makes for great tension. Excellent conflict and I find myself not rooting so much for Justin–exhubby anymore. One because of what he reavealed to Kate. And two, I love a wounded hero!

I also enjoy watching Justin’s jealousy as he sees what Kate doesn’t. Her growing attraction for hunky Ben!

 

 

I’ve learned a lot about great writing from this show! 

 

Do you watch Fairly Legal? I recommend it! Netflix it and start from the beginning. What show do you love and why? 

Happy Weekend, friends! 

In the Here and Now

If you’re pursuing a dream then you know how consuming it is. Not just your actions to get there, but your thoughts, dreams during the day and at night. For me, as an inspirational writer, I want to use the fiction I write for, not only entertainment, but as a ministry to women. (and men–I’ve had men read my books and enjoy them. One was my own DH and that speaks volumes as he does not read. Ever. At all. Nada. Zip.) But mostly my audience is women.

The hunger to be traditionally published isn’t for vanity, fame, fortune or even validation on my life. It’s pretty simple. I want to spread a message of hope. No different than preachers, pastors, evangelists. It’s simply in a different way–a way God has graciously gifted me in. Why did He do it? I have no idea. But I am thankful.

It’s a long journey to a dream fulfilled.

For me it’s been endless hours of writing, sacrificing sleep, events and even physical comfort at times, learning new things, learning social media, spending time on social media more than I might want to. It’s been expensive with conferences, books, laptops, smartphone and the list goes on of items I have to purchase to do all the things I need to in order to move forward in fulfilling my dream. My God-given dream.

I’ve spent more hours in prayer, which is an upside. Some of my most intense and beautiful moments with God have come through praying about stories, characters, the message of hope, the mission of hope, the fruit of spreading hope. 

I’ve enjoyed surprise confirmations from God through people, places, the Word, and even billboards and attendance sheets, reminding me I’m moving forward. It isn’t in vain. Keep going.

I’ve written 13 manuscripts.  I did it in about 4 years. So you know the BIC (butt in chair) time I’ve spent. I’ve learned about myself as God used my own characters to teach me. Some of it hurt, some of it was simply amusing.

And here’s what I’ve been learning of late, because I’ve yet to see that dream of traditional publishing become a reality. I know dreams take time. I can relate and take comfort from Joseph, a young boy with a gigantic dream, that maybe seemed vain at the time–people bowing. I learned a lot as he grew from an immature teen into the wonderful man who was ready to handle having thousands bow at his feet.

My prayer has been, “God when you’re ready. Prepare me to house YOUR fame.” I think it’s  a daily prayer for me. 

I’ve learned that instead of obsessing over when and strengthening myself for the future (which is good and I should but not in an all-consuming way) I need to work on strengthening the Here and Now!

I let my future overpower my present. And I’ve suffered. 

When that realization struck me, after repenting and re-committing, God opened all sorts of opportunities up for me. Or maybe they were there all along and He simply gave me new sight to see them. Probably the latter. God is always up to something, doing something new. Question is: Are we on the same page? 

I’m preparing to teach a new and growing believers’ class and I’m writing the material for it! Two things I love. Teaching. Writing.

I’ve had the opportunity to help as an assistant nursery director while our real one is on maternity leave. (I’ll be glad when she’s back! ;))

I’ve been blessed to take a meal to a new mom and the list goes on. 

And I’m happy. I feel satisfied. Fulfilled–even though I’m still waiting while my agent works hard on my behalf. While God works hard on my behalf. They believe in me. In the message of hope. And I’m grateful. 

I’m not so antsy.

I’m not so worried.

God knows best. 

Maybe you’re pursuing a God-given dream. And yet you feel dissatisfied. Worried. Consumed.

Maybe you need to ask God what you can do in the Here and Now. Things that matter equally. Things that need done now. While God is working on the future.

“That
they may set their hope in
God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;” Psalm
78:7

**photo credits: freedigitalphotos.net



What do you do when you’re not consumed with your dream? Are you doing things in the Here and Now? 

I’m hosting at Living by Grace! Come join in the conversation.