Sunday, April 27, 2008

Traveling to the Springs

If this is Sunday, I'm traveling to Glen Eyrie and Colorado Springs for our annual writer's workshop.  Nancy Rue, Al Gansky, and Kathy Mackel will join me there along with some regulars from this blog (Susan, Kay, and Clyde) for three days of fun and frolic (and some work).  

And when the workshop is over, I am getting together with the producer who is going to record a feature for the DVD edition of THE NOTE.  Kathy M. says she's going to stand behind the camera and make faces at me.  :-) 

I may not be blogging for a couple of days, but we'll jump into the BOM on May first, Lord willing.  See you then! 

P.S.  Heard a bit of good news on Friday--Doesn't She Look Natural? is a finalist for the 2008 Christy award!  Ohmigoodness, what am I going to wear . . . 


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Intelligent Design and Darwinism

The other day I heard someone ask "What do you think is the biggest problem facing the world today?"  Though I didn't have time to jump into the email discussion, as I privately considered the question, I have to say that I think most of the world's ills today evolve from something almost as insidious as sin:  Darwinism. 

Before Darwin pronounced his theory of evolution, most civilized men had a good concept of themselves as created beings, created by God and ultimately responsible to him.  Darwinism and evolutionism, however, opened the door for man to become his own god, the top of the pyramid, and bumped God entirely out of the picture. When life is considered to be the mere end result of biological processes, then life becomes cheap. Why value babies if you can produce them at the drop of a hat? Why consider man more responsible than animals? Why weigh the eternal implications of our actions? Why choose to do the right thing in private if no one is looking or keeping account? 

I'm sure you've heard about Ben Stein and his movie, EXPELLED.  I've blogged about it, and if it's playing near you, PLEASE go see it. It's not a Christian movie, but rather a movie about how so many modern scientists simply refuse to consider Intelligent Design as even a possibility for the origin of the universe. Not only will they not consider ID, but they insist on heaping scorn and abuse on the heads of anyone who supports it. 

I've been reading editorials in my paper--people who have not investigated the first thing about ID call it "religion in costume" and say that it's nothing but an attempt to take us back to the Dark Ages. That sort of prejudice and ignorance astounds me. 

My friend Jim Bell (thanks, Jim!) pointed me to this web site.   Here you can download a PDF file designed to enable educators to truly understand the issues behind ID and Darwinism. 

For instance, I found this quote in that PDF document: "A fair result can only be obtained by fully balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question."  Know who said that?  Charles Darwin. 

I urge you to download that PDF document and read it.  Give it to friends who are teachers.  Use it to write rebuttal letters to the editor of your local paper.  Take the intention of EXPELLED to the next level . . . surely we can gather enough momentum among the people of this country to restore true intellectual freedom instead of academic snobbery that refuses to acknowledge that someone higher-than-human must have created order out of chaos. 


Friday, April 25, 2008

That situation in Texas . . .

I'm beginning to be disturbed by the situation in Texas--you know, the one where the government took over 400 children from their mothers and has farmed them out to foster homes. I'll admit that I don't know everything about this situation, but it's beginning to look like the original "tip" that alerted authorities to possible child abuse and "child marriage" was a fake.  If it was, then why in the world are we allowing the government to take toddlers from their mothers?  They're not in danger of being married off.  

I don't agree with what these folks believe, doctrine-wise, but I had certain standards for my children, particularly when they were small.  IF I had chosen not to have a TV in my home, I would be horrified to know that my children were being placed in homes where they'd be exposed to influences that I had worked so hard to keep out of my children's environment.  I may not shelter my children to the extent that these people did, but parents do have a right to shelter their children. 

In our country, the home is supposed to be a sacred place.  The government must have a warrant to enter, to search, or to violate.  And yet it's beginning to look like the government entered these homes on false pretenses. All right, it was a mistake, so make sure there's no child rape going on and return these children to their mothers!  

The fathers may be polygamists and yes, that's against the law, so prosecute the men. Charge the women for polygamy if you like, then get the women out on bail so they can be with their innocent little ones.  Investigate the charges of underage marriage and statutory rape. 

But it's no crime to want to wear modest clothing and not cut your hair. And from what I've seen of these mothers (from my admittedly limited perspective), they are loving mothers, and children are children. To tear a three-year-old from his mother's arms is a crime in itself. 


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Something new and fun!

Al Gansky pointed me toward this. Cool, huh?  You can make one, too--you just upload a handful of photos and the online program scrambles and arranges them for you! Ta Da! 

Good News today

Heard some good news today!  So many of you have asked about a DVD edition of THE NOTE, and today I spoke with a man who's been hired to produce the extras for the DVD.  We're trying to compare calendars to see if we can catch up to each other at some point (I'm traveling a LOT in the coming month), and if so, they'll put an interview with me on the DVD. 

LOL!  Can you believe it?  

I happen to love those little extras on DVDs--I always watch the deleted scenes and sometimes the commentaries.  Very interesting!  

In any case, it looks like the DVD should release in time for this year's Christmas season.  It's in the works! 


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This and That

Monday I spent the day getting a proposal and three sample chapters of the WIP ready for my editor (she needs to know what I'm working on, naturally). 

Tuesday I went through gallies of THE FACE, making sure every comma and word was in the proper place.  

Wednesday I'll go through the revisions on Fairlawn #3. I think I can get the half-dozen or so issues addressed in a day or two. 

Thursday I'll finish up and begin prepping in detail for our Glen Eyrie writer's workshop . . . and Friday I'll finish.  

But Tuesday morning, April 22, I got ready to do my morning treadmill.  Because I always watch a DVD while I'm walking, I grabbed MINORITY REPORT.  Ha!  Less than thirty minutes into the movie, Tom Cruise arrests someone and says, "I'm arresting you today, April 22nd . . ." 

What are the odds?  

That just made my day.  :-) 


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SAWR Update

Ahem.  Because the Fairlawn series is getting an overhaul with new covers, etc., the publisher decided to postpone the release of SAWR by a few days in order to get the new copies of Doesn't She Look Natural? in circulation.  

The good news is that She Always Wore Red has rolled off the presses.  And the better news is that yesterday I learned that the new copies of Doesn't She Look Natural have just rolled off the presses, too.  

And even better news--I handed in the third book, She's In a Better Place a couple of weeks ago, and have been waiting to hear my editors' reaction.  I heard from one of them yesterday, and this is part of what she said:  

I planned a day of working at home yesterday so that I could enjoy in peace this wonderful book.  As it turned out, yesterday was the first day above 70 in Chicago land in six months.  I sat outside on my patio and cried like a baby as ******.

I am so excited about this book.  I believe readers will find such hope and heart.  While I am sad that *** didn’t ******, the reality is that many believers have to ***** with the **** that ***** had. 


So, just wanted you to know that I’m just too proud that SIABP is a Tyndale book.  

Angie here again:  I know I'll have to make a few revisions--I always do--but I'm relieved that the last book seems to bring the saga to a successful close.  And I'm sorry, but the asterisks are necessary to keep from spoiling the plot.  :-)  

So--Linda--have faith!  The books are in the pipeline and on their way!  



Monday, April 21, 2008

More on Elevators

Did you see Good Morning America today?  They featured a story on a man who, years ago, was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours.  Sound familiar?  Here's a link to his story and his video.  The poor man was being filmed on a security camera the entire time. 

And speaking of GMA, this morning Robin Roberts took her wig off.  For good.  I don't know if you've been following the story, but last fall, I think, Robin was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She lost her hair during chemotherapy, but wore a wig during her TV appearances.  Today, however, the wig came off and  Robin is donating it to someone else who will need it.  

Since working on Deanna Farve's book, I've come to have a new appreciation for the courageous women who face this battle.  I think Robin is beautiful, hair or no hair, and I so admire the way she speaks out for her faith.  

I sat at my breakfast table and wept.  But they were happy tears, and I'm so glad she's come out on the other side of breast cancer without letting it stop her.  

BTW--if you will be joining us at the Glen Eyrie Writer's Workshop this month, I have an update:  our pajama party movie night is off.  I learned that copyright law does not allow us to show videos without a special license ("for home viewing" means exactly that), so we'll be doing something else on those nights.  Don't worry, we'll still have fun, but I doubt it'll be fun that calls for pajamas.  

And I even went out and got new ones just for the event . . . 


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Check in with the CF hubby and his girls

Several months ago I pointed you to Nate's blog--he's married to Tricia, who has cystic fibrosis, and she was waiting for a lung transplant when they discovered she was pregnant. So Tricia had her baby--at great personal risk--and now the family is growing stronger.  Nate writes a wonderful blog, and this entry is particularly funny (HT to Michael for the link!).  Plus, it's about elevators.  :-) 

Please continue to check in with this family and lift them in your prayers.  I am so looking forward to the day when Nate gets to bring his girls home! 


Saturday, April 19, 2008

True Elevator Story

I suspect that I will always be drawn to true elevator stories after writing The Elevator.  I just found this in my local paper: 

Jens Wilhelms, 27, fell 25 feet down the elevator shaft of the apartment building in Frankfurt, Germany, where he lived. He probably would have been seriously hurt too, if it had not been for the fact that he landed on a woman who had fallen down the shaft a day earlier. The woman, 57, was unconscious, and rescue workers say that although she sustained further injuries when Wilhelms landed on her, it probably also saved her life, because "there is no telling how long it might have been before she was found." 

The moral of this story may very well be:  if you fall down an elevator shaft, pray that someone else falls down, too.  Preferably someone with a loud voice. 

Have a great weekend! 


Friday, April 18, 2008

Diving In . . .

You might think that writing gets easier after time.  You might think that a woman who is beginning her 113th book  would find it easy to sit down at the computer and dive into the novel she's been plotting and researching for several weeks.  

You'd be wrong.  

It was far easier to jump in during my younger days, when I didn't know what I was doing. But now I realize how important that first line, first page, and first chapter are.  What voice do I use? What POV character?  What tense?  The first chapter sets the tone, the voice, the genre, and the mood for the entire book, so it's of crucial importance.  
And the first sentence!  I could spent a week obsessing over the sentence that will either hook or repel a reader. 

In the old days, I used to jump in and flail happily around, supported by useless actions and bulky adverbs.  Now I know that to swim well, the prose should be unencumbered.  Now I also know about the currents and undertows.  I know that parts of the story can be exhausting, and truths revealed can be painful and soul-searing. I know that the very act of putting on one's bathing suit to GO swimming is an act of self-revelation not for the faint of heart.  

And so for the last couple of days I have been happy to do anything BUT jump into the story that must be started soon.  I have written zillions of emails, worked on my blog, planned writers' conferences, and talked with friends on the phone. I have played with computer programs and thought about cleaning out the closet.  I have Googled more trivial topics than you can imagine, and I have selected a half dozen quotes that might make a good epigraph for the story. And yes, I have watched movies.  Great, good, and pitiful.  

But about an hour ago, I put a toe into the water, then slid in.  It took me a while, but I think I'm finally finding my stroke.  

Another book, another workout, another adventure.  All due to end by September first.  

Want to come along for another one? 


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl--a must see!

I had a few free hours yesterday, so I watched two movies I'd been dying to see:  Lars and the Real Girl and Juno.  I was ready to love both movies, but I only loved one. 

The one I loved was LARS AND THE REAL GIRL.  (You can watch the trailer here.)  This film is simply brilliant.  Not for the kiddies, mind you, but a tender, loving look at psychological pain and how the supportive love of community--Christian community--can bring healing. Plus, it's funny, with several laugh-out-loud moments.  A perfect blend of pathos and affection.  

I found myself disappointed in Juno--and as an adoptive parent, I was hoping to cheer from the rooftops for this one.   I did love how Juno learned that her twelve-week-old unborn child had fingernails, and how she made the choice for life.  If I tell you what I didn't really care for, I'll spoil the ending, so I'll hush up now . . . 

I did come away with a renewed appreciation for the traditional adoption process--the one that includes a homestudy and a thorough examination of the adoptive parents' marriage, stability, etc.  Most animal rescue groups do at least that much, so shouldn't we do as much for children
Anyway, I liked the movie, but I so wanted to love it.  

But Lars and the Real Girl . . . that one's a gem.  And it wasn't in very wide release (in my area, anyway), so Netflix it or do whatever you must to check this one out.  It's amazing. Spot-on characters, inner tension, and a protagonist you can't help but root for. I loved it. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gin, the Wonder Dog

I don't know why this makes me cry--it's not at all sad, in fact, it's beautiful and happy.  But still, I think of the evident bond between girl and dog and all the hours of work and play that went into this performance . . . and I just start sobbing. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do Bears Have Rhythm? You bet!

Happy tax day!  I hope you got your taxes done! 

You've probably gathered that I love animals . . . and their video clips.  Look at this real footage of a bear dancing in the woods!  

I love it! 


Monday, April 14, 2008

The Baby Has Two Faces

I'm sure you heard last week about the little girl born with two faces in India.  If she had been born in the U.S., I'm sure doctors would be trying to figure out how to merge the two into one, but this little girl's parents say that as long as she is healthy (apparently she can eat and breathe with no problems), they're fine. In fact, many of the people in her village are revering her as the incarnation of a goddess.

  I was immediately fascinated because this baby reminded me of THE FACE, which is waiting to be published in November, and is about a girl born with no face at all.  And it also made me think of the Hensel twins (in the second photo), who are teenaged conjoined twins living in the U.S. The book I'm plotting now is about twins, so I'm wondering if this little baby began as two embryos that merged into one, or one that simply developed two faces. Amazing that everything "works." 

A new week . . . back to work! 


Sunday, April 13, 2008

New titles for this week

Announcing . . . Chapter-a-Week has a new sister Yahoo! group called Chapter-a-Week Chat. If you'd like to talk to others about the great books featured on Chapter-a-Week or if you'd like the inside scoop on the book from the authors themselves this is an excellent place to start. Each week's featured authors will be on hand to answer questions and give readers an intimate look at the writing life that inspired their works and readers can discuss all the books. Check it out at Chapter-a-Week Chat .  --The moderators of Chapter-a-Week 

Now for this week's featured books...

The Voice

By Bill Myers

"Bill Myers writes a crisp, express train read featuring 3D characters, cinematic settings and action, and, as usual, a premise I wish I'd thought of -- and succeeds splendidly!  Two thumbs up!" -- Frank E. Peretti


Burned out Special Forces agent Charlie Madison has his reclusive life turned upside down when his thirteen-year-old niece barges into his empty world. Her parents have been kidnapped by religious radicals and he is the only one who can save them. While creating a computer program, they discovered and recorded the actual voice of God. But there is far more at stake than the parents' safety or even religion.  If the voice of God created reality, it can destroy it. If it can be controlled, it will become a weapon of mass destruction making all others obsolete. IF it can be controlled.

AAngie here:  I had a chance to read THE VOICE in its manuscript form, and it's a wonderful and thought-provoking book. If you've never read Bill Myers, you're in for a treat!  

When the Heart Cries

By Cindy Woodsmall


"Fans of Beverly Lewis and the Amish genre will be thrilled to discover this new author . . ." Tamera Alexander, author of the best-selling Rekindled and Revealed



When Hannah dares to love across the boundaries of tradition, will she lose everything?



Despite being raised in a traditional Old Order Amish family, seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp desires to break with custom, forgo baptism into the faith, and marry outside the cloistered community. She's been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and before returning to college for his senior year, Paul asks Hannah to be his wife. On the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes and in one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community–and in the heart of the man she loves.


To read an excerpt of these new titles go to Chapter-a-Week and to join our deeper discussion go to our new site Chapter-a-Week Chat at where authors and readers discuss new titles together.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Rocks Will Praise

I had a little epiphany this morning in my reading. I was reading in Jeremiah, and this passage jumped out at me:  "But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. . . . And if these nations quickly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, "As surely as the Lord lives' (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people. But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken!" (Jer. 12:15-17) 

It was a rather roundabout realization--that verse is talking about a righteous oath, not a profane exclamation--but for the first time, this truth hit me: even those who swear by using the name of our Lord in anger are, in effect, testifying to his authority and power.  
Have you never wondered why people don't get angry and say, "Oh, Confucius!" Or "Oh, Buddha!" or "Oh, Baal!" 

I'll tell you why--because there is no power in those names. And given that rocks and trees will one day praise the name of Jesus Christ, should we be surprised when we hear even unbelievers inadvertently testifying to the power in that name? 



Friday, April 11, 2008

If you have some time to kill . . .er, crash

I've been busy at work planning the next book, and I'm trying to write it in Scrivener--a new word processing/research/database program for Macs. So far, so good--it has this really cool feature where you can create "virtual" notecards on a cork board and move them around, plus you can pin up virtual photos of your characters . . . very cool!  If you'd like to try the free trial version, just click here. 

Okay, I hope this next little goodie has nothing to do with driving skills.  Because I've tried five times and I can't park the car!  

How did you do?  


Thursday, April 10, 2008

New books for your nightstand . . .

Last night I spoke at a branch of the Tampa Library--saw some dear friends I'd met before at a church in downtown Tampa, and made some new friends!  Today I'm back to researching the coming WIP and waiting for little inspirations to strike! 

Thought you might be interested in these two new titles, both by good friends and good writers! 

Amber Morn

By Brandilyn Collins

Just released--Amber Morn, the climactic conclusion to Brandilyn Collins' bestselling "Kanner Lake" series.


As the nationally read "Scenes and Beans" bloggers gather at Java Joint coffee shop for a special celebration—chaos erupts. Three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage, shooting one person and dumping the body outside. Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. What they demand, he can't possibly provide. But if he doesn't, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die…


"Best Christian suspense of 2007." –Library Journal for Crimson Eve, previous release in the series

Awaken My Heart

By DiAnn Mills


AWAKEN MY HEART by DiAnn Mills tells the unlikely love story between 18-year-old Marianne, a wealthy rancher's daughter, and the infamous Mexican rebel leader warring against her father. 


--What Reviewers are saying:


"AWAKEN MY HEART is a terrific early nineteenth century Texas Colonial romance starring two caring protagonists who in many ways seem like a North American Romeo and Juliet. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action . . . DiAnn Mills provides a delightful historical that brings to vivid life a time and place that rarely if ever has served as the background." - Harriet Klausner

"AWAKEN MY HEART is a colorful inspirational tale of romance and adventure! - Diana Risso

Romance Reviews Today


To read an excerpt of these new titles go to Chapter-a-Week .


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bridge Builders

We have a lot of long bridges in Florida--there's a three-mile bridge we drive over every time I have to go to the airport.  Fortunately, they usually build these bridges very well. 

Take a look at this video to see some builders who didn't take into account something as simple as the power of the wind . . . 

Incredible, isn't it? 

On another note, reviews of SHE ALWAYS WORE RED have been popping up on the web.  This one made me gulp--it was so kind, it was a little intimidating!  It made the book sound so good, I'm wondering if I'll be able to measure up with future efforts!  (Thank you, Deborah!) 

And now that Fairlawn #3 has been handed in, I'm researching my next project.  It's going to be a legal thriller, so I'm reading about lawyers and courts and police procedures.  And I need to find a good way to murder my victim . . . 

And on that note, I'll leave you.  :-)  BTW, happy birthday to my darling daughter! 


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Elephant Art

Photo:  Marilyn Martin and the books she won in our "Spring Fling" drawing.  Isn't she cute?  Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry.  

Today's topic:  I've long been fascinated by elephants, and I couldn't resist sharing this clip.  This elephant isn't "free-styling," he has been trained to paint this picture, but still . . . watch him paint it.  Amazing, isn't it? 

That elephant paints better than I do! 


Monday, April 07, 2008

BOM: Questions and Answers

Photo:  Sophia, a little girl who was visiting our house last week.  Isn't she precious?  Charley loved her.  :-) 

On to the Q&A:  Linda asked:  Do you ever have trouble telling your characters goodbye?    I really get absorbed in my reading. And I always hate to come to the end of the book, and even though you always end it well, I frequently want to keep the story going, just to know more about what happens. The folks seem so real.

Thank you, Linda! Usually by the time I'm finished with a book, I am really ready to say goodbye.  After all, I go through it four times before I send it in, and then a couple of more times after I do revisions and check copy edits.  I suppose I would miss the characters in a book if I weren't already getting excited about the characters and plot of the NEXT book!  For instance, I'm missing Mt. Dora a little bit now, but I'm really eager to start my next project . . . plus I know I still have work to do on the final Fairlawn book.  That's enough to keep me satisfied. 

Linda also asked:  how do you decide which books are going to turn into a series - whether it's with the same character, other characters, or subsequent centuries even like Heirs of Cahira O'Connor - and which ones are just stand-alone books?

It all depends upon the story.  I always know which books will be series before I even start writing the first book. For instance, there's a story arc that covers all three Fairlawn books--in the first book, Jen inherits the funeral home, in the second book she's in mortuary school, and in the third book she's actually practicing.  So there's a big arc that covers all three books, and smaller arcs that cover the individual books.  

In the stand-alone novels, there's just one story per book, period.  I illustrate whatever I'm trying to illustrate (novels are really just giant metaphors that tell us something about life), and end it.  The historical series were planned out in the beginning, too--that each would be linked by a common thread (or ring, or Irish ancestor).  In the beginning, I wrote those more "open-endedly," but in those days everyone was writing historical series, so it was more the status quo.  If I write a series today, it's by intentional design. 

Holly asked:  Does the emotion of your topic ever overwhelm you to the point of tears or having to take a break from it?  

You bet.  I remember meeting my tax accountant while I was writing THE PEARL.  She remarked that I looked beat, and I said, "If you only knew what I've been living through . . . "  referring, of course, to everything Diana Sheldon, my protagonist, had been living through.  When you're creating it, you have to feel it in order to create realistic emotions for your reader.  

I often weep when I'm typing scenes where someone is dying . . . and I still cry when I read the end of UNSPOKEN, and I've read it dozens of times.  I never walk away from it for too long, however, because it takes time to reinsert yourself into the story world.  If I'm away from the work for more than a couple of days, I lose my momentum and it takes too much time to get back to the story world.  

Thanks so much for coming along on another BOM!  :-)  Thanks, too, for your questions and comments.  It's nice to know I'm not just rambling to myself! 


Sunday, April 06, 2008

BOM: The Reviews/Reader Reaction

I dreamed a plot last night. It involved a drug store and a wall telephone.  :-)  I dream strange things all the time, and when I wake up my memories are all utter nonsense, but last night the story I dreamed actually made sense.  Enough that when I looked at it in the light of day and began to consider it a little further, I think it'll work!  

I'm between books right now, and my job for next week is to write up several proposals for new projects and send them to my agent for her input.  Then the next week, I have to get busy with my next project, Ghost.  I'm ready to go! 

But back to A TIME TO MEND.  The following are some of the comments and reactions the book has received: 

"Hunt deals with medical technology using clear, concise language. A dramatic and touching story that should find an audience in any library." --Library Journal.

I received several reader letters about this book--and expect to get a few more on the new edition (though now they'll probably be emails!).

Here's a sampling of reader mail:

"Just finished reading your Gentle Touch. It's a wonderful book . . . in your handling of cancer. At the age of 40 I was a mastectomy patient, and you covered the feelings of a patient extremely well (I hope that doesn't mean you've also had breast cancer). You were also very realistic about the reactions of others. Bless you for using your storytelling ability for giving women a positive viewpoint." --Lois

"Thanks for writing Gentle Touch. I first read it for the plot. However, I have read the book again, this time paying close attention to the medical things (since being diagnosed with breast cancer). I want you to know this has helped me ever so much. I really didn't know where to begin with what I need to ask the doctor, so your book gave me plenty of food for thought. I sat down with it and wrote out my questions." ~Helen

"I just finished reading your novel GENTLE TOUCH. When I was not quite eleven years old, my mother died of Hodgkins Disease, a form of cancer. I was the oldest of three children, so my childhood effectively ended then. . . . The character who really touched me was Daphne. In so many ways, she reminded me of my mother. My mother was not quite 29 when she died, but she had lived such a full life. . . . Her passing was quick. One day she was getting us ready for the last day of school, and then next day she was in a coma and then gone. I never really got to say goodbye to her because the adults believed that we kids were better off not really knowing the seriousness of her condition. As an adult now, I can almost understand their reasoning, but as a child, I felt as if something very precious had been stolen from me.

"Then last night as I was reading the final chapters of your book, I came to Daphne's letter to Jacqueline. And there it was--the goodbye from my mother! As I read and re-read the letter, I could hear my mother's soft voice and feel God heal the hurt places in my heart that I had covered up for so long . . ." ~~Diana

And, my friends, the reward doesn't get any better than that.

If you have any questions about the writing of GENTLE TOUCH/A TIME TO MEND, please post them in the comments section today . . . and I'll answer them in the next blog.

Next month's BOM? SHE ALWAYS WORE RED which should be in full release mode by the time May first rolls around! 


Saturday, April 05, 2008

BOM: The Editing

 Let me answer Karen's question: 

Hardly anyone these days writes with an all-knowing narrator (omniscient POV).  Instead, we write each scene with a particular point of view character.  When you do this properly, the POV character can only report what he or she hears, sees, feels, and thinks.  In fact, everything you write in that scene is coming through the POV character's brain.  

Here's a brief snippet from SHE'S IN A BETTER PLACE, otherwise known as Fairlawn #3: 

Joella slips the blood pressure monitor onto her arm, presses the power button, and waits until the mechanism applies steady pressure to her wrist. After a minute, the pressure eases and the result flashes in the digital display: 165/93.

She presses her hand to her chest and swallows hard. What on earth is going on? She did forget to take her hypertension medicine last night, but would missing one dose shoot her pressure this high?

Maybe it’s the slice of pepperoni pizza she just ate for lunch. Pepperoni is loaded with sodium.

She tiptoes to her bedroom doorway and glances down the hallway, then closes the door and locks it. Jen and Gerald are working downstairs, so they shouldn’t mind if she takes a little nap. Heaven knows she needs a break.

She reclines on the bed, props her feet on a pillow and folds her hand across her stomach. Deep, slow breaths, that’s the ticket for hypertension. Steady, even breathing in and out, in and out. Close your eyes and think of sunny beaches, swaying palm trees, handsome men serving lemonade on golden platters . . .

She’s about to settle into a sun-warmed imaginary beach chair when she remembers the squash—Gerald’s nutritionist suggested lots of yellow vegetables, and she forgot to get squash at the grocery. That means she can’t afford to lie here daydreaming; she needs to go out and pick up fresh vegetables.

 Clearly, everything above is from Joella's point of view.  All of those thoughts are her thoughts.We are directly in her brain as of "What on earth . . ."    And yet no italics are needed.  If I did use them, it'd be because I wanted to emphasize a word or abrupt thought.  

Very simple.  :-)  And much less cluttered than muddying the prose with "she wondered" and "she thought" or mucking it up with italics.  

As to the editing of A TIME TO MEND: 

The editing process went as smooth as silk with both publishers . . . sorry, but no horror stories to report here!

I did remember some more research I did--I read lots of books on cancer, plus I had just finished a book on the link between abortion and breast cancer, so I was "up" on the disease. As I look through my folder on this book, I see several articles on treatment of breast cancer, too.

Tomorrow--results/reaction from the Book of the Month.


Friday, April 04, 2008

BOM: The Writing

I had a WONDERFUL time in Mt. Dora yesterday. The city library was sponsoring a Literary Festival, and I spoke at the luncheon. Raintree Books, from Eustis, furnished a book table, and I met some really wonderful folks who know all the stories about Mt. Dora--in fact, there's a Mt. Dora "secret" that I explore in SHE ALWAYS WORE RED, and these folks knew all about it!  I can always console myself with the fact that only the long-timers know about it.  For everyone else, it is a secret.  :-) 

Anyway, it was a great time.  Saw Jeanne Mason, a friend I haven't seen in over twenty years, and made many new friends.  Hope to see them again sometime.  

I also met a lady who brought photos of her mastiff.  :-)  Like one of mine, hers is a rescue, and he thinks he's a lap dog!  I can so relate! 

Back to the BOM:

It's been a long time since I originally wrote Gentle Touch, so I don't remember a lot about it. I do know that it took no more than three months, because ten years ago I wrote everything in that time frame. (Working ten hour days, sometimes, but I got through it).  

These days I write a little bit slower--first, I travel a lot more, and second, I'm a lot pickier.  I carefully consider every word and comma.  

I can tell you this about the revising--I did not go into it intending to completely rewrite the manuscript. I have this feeling that each novel is as good as I can make it at the time I write it, so I didn't want to go overboard and do major surgery on the work. I did, however, want to clear up any glaring things that I've learned to do better since 1996. So I went through and cleaned up interior monologue in italics (ick! The book was filled with it, and now I really, really dislike it except in short, abrupt thoughts), as well as scrapping unnecessary adverbs and useless speaker attributions.  I kept thinking, What if my students read this?  They'd think I don't practice what I preach!  

My Steeple Hill editor also had a couple of questions and concerns, and it was a simple matter to address those things to both our satisfaction. The updated medical information was easy to switch out, too.

It wasn't out of laziness that I didn't want to do a complete rewrite--it was more a matter of thread pulling. I've learned that if you pull a thread in a tightly-woven book, you're going to end up with a snag, a snarl, or a gaping hole if you're not careful. So I didn't want to tug on anything that was working just fine.

Tomorrow: The editing


Thursday, April 03, 2008

BOM: the Research

Yea!  Right around lunch time yesterday I made a couple of final tweaks on SHE'S IN A BETTER PLACE, the final Fairlawn book, and clicked "send."  It is now officially on my editor's desk and off mine. 

Which is not to say I don't have a lot of cleaning up to do.  I have tons of files and books about the death care industry scattered around my workspace, so I'll have to get those stacked up and put away.  But it can wait--I have packed a suitcase (again!) and am heading out for a speaking gig in Mt. Dora on Thursday.  Since the Fairlawn series is SET in Mt. Dora, this will be a serendipitous experience.  

Next?  I'm going to work on a couple of proposals for my agent, then I'm jumping into the research for the next book, tentatively titled GHOST or SHADOW.  It's a high concept story and I'm really excited about it.  

Back to A TIME TO MEND--

How does one begin to research a book on breast cancer? I started with my heroine's occupation: Jacqueline Wilkes is an oncology nurse, and one of my friends, Beth Dalessandro, happens to have that exact job.

Beth invited me to the clinic where she works, so I spent a morning visiting her workplace, looking around, and talking to the doctor for whom she works. Beth taught me about protocols, videos for entertainment during chemo drips, and all the lingo that nurses need.

I also had to research the setting: Winter Haven, Florida, which happens to be the town where I was born. I chose Winter Haven because it's a lovely place with mild winters and more than one hundred lakes--something different. Fortunately, my aunts have lived in the area for ages, so they helped me insert area lakes and landmarks.

The dog? Jacqueline has a mastiff, and that's easy because I have one, too. I've had four mastiffs, and they are great dogs. Jacqueline's love for her dog is the same love I feel for my own gentle giants.

When Steeple Hill decided to reissue the book, I had to call Beth again. I pulled out the pages of the manuscript that had medical information and she took them to the doctor she works with. He updated all the protocols and statistics so we'd be sure we were dealing with cutting edge material.

The spiritual aspects? The book reflects where I was ten years ago spiritually . . . and what I was learning about life and death and our approach to them. I hope the peace I feel about living and dying comes through.

I did a lot of reading on breast cancer, but I had already done a lot of research on that disease when I wrote THE PROPOSAL (that's a novel, not a synopsis and three sample chapters). Sometimes you can get two books for the research of one. (VBG).

Research did require some time, but probably no more than a week. When you have a good source, you can cut through the unnecessary details and get to the information that matters. You want good information, you want it to sound complete, but you don't want to weigh your reader down with extraneous details.

Tomorrow: The writing


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

BOM: The Idea

Okay . . . so what prompted the writing of A Time to Mend? Quite simply, a phone call.

In 1995, Barb Lilland, an editor at Bethany House, called to tell me about the Portraits line, a new line of inspirational romance novels. "Far from the formula romance," Barb said, "we will be looking for manuscripts that weave together an intriguing plot with compelling character development and spiritual growth."

Hmm. I had never written straight romance, though my historicals had a romantic thread in them, so I told Barb I'd be interested as long as I could make sure it was romance plus something else. (Technically, a romance is a story in which the hero/heroine plotline is central to the story, and I'd never written one of those--my books had central plots of wars, survival, and Crusades, along with extremely high body counts.) But I was intrigued by the possibilty of exploring the characters of a hero and heroine, so I proposed a story about an oncology nurse who falls in love with the aloof doctor who is trying to save her life.

My tentative title was FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, which got changed to GENTLE TOUCH. When the book came out, some friends said the gal on the cover looked like me . . . well, maybe they were exaggerating. 

GENTLE TOUCH was released in 1996 and gradually went out of print. Recently, though, I thought it might benefit from a reissue, and the editors at Steeple Hill agreed. So a "refreshed" and updated edition, A TIME TO MEND, released in 2006.

Why write what I call a "breast cancer romance?" First, my husband's mother died from breast cancer the year before we married. I only knew her a few months before she went home to heaven. Second, I'm at the age where many of my friends are being diagnosed with breast cancer. Some of them beat the disease, some of them do not. Current statistics indicate that one out of every seven women will have breast cancer at some point, so I wanted to write about the hope with which Christians can face whatever the future holds.

I don't think I would ever have written the book without that phone call from Barb . . . but I'm so glad the Lord led me in that direction. It has given me a great peace about living and dying . . . a peace that carries over into the work I'm doing in this funeral home series. 

(News flash:  my first copy of SHE ALWAYS WORE RED just arrived on my desk.  It looks . . . thick!  And beautiful).

 Tomorrow? The research involved in A TIME TO MEND.  


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS to Marilyn Martin!

Congratulations to Marilyn, who won the big bag of Angela Hunt books!  We had 105 entries, so I asked my friend Stella to choose a number between one and 105.  She chose 74, her age, and so Marilyn (entry #74)  is the winner!  

Marilyn, please send us your address and we'll get this box straight out to you! 



Book of the Month: A TIME TO MEND

As promised, later today we will be holding the drawing for the big bag of Angela Hunt books.  So if you haven't entered, you still have a little time! 

And happy April first!  Time for another Book of the Month! 

From Romance Reviews Today
A TIME TO MEND - Angela Hunt
Steeple Hill Single Title
ISBN: 0-373-78564-X
March 2006
Inspirational Fiction
Winter Haven, Florida - Present day

Jacquelyn Wilkes became an oncology nurse after living with her mother's breast cancer and then watching her die after five years of agonizing pain. When a new doctor, Jonah Martin, comes to the Chambers Wyatt Hospital where Jacquelyn works, her calm and ordered world is tipped on its axis. All the patients adore the young doctor, but Jacquelyn despises his decidedly rude and unfeeling attitude toward the nurses on the ward. Dr. Jonah may be drop-dead handsome, but his heart is cold as ice.

Working as a nurse in the cancer unit is a job filled with pain, heartache and elation. Pain and heartache when she watches a patient die, and elation when another patient triumphs over the horrific disease. Jacquelyn questions Dr. Jonah's methods and bedside manner. But her heart starts to melt just a little when Jonah saves the life of her beloved pet mastiff, Bailey. Soon afterward, she confides to him that she has found a cyst in her breast, but she balks when he urges her to get a physical immediately. Slowly, little by little, Jacquelyn begins trusting Jonah's medical advice, and their relationship blossoms as she faces her own future with breast cancer.

A TIME TO MEND is an updated and revised reissue of a poignant story about the many struggles faced by women with breast cancer and the men who fight to find a cure. (Previously published as GENTLE TOUCH, Bethany House, 1997.)

Jonah and Jacquelyn's relationship faces many obstacles as they build trust in each other and fall in love. The secondary characters tell their stories of breast cancer in heartrending ways and often bring tears of sadness as well as laughter to the tale. Both Jacquelyn and Jonah are strong characters, and A TIME TO MEND is an inspirational story of love and God's healing grace.

Diana Risso
Romance Reviews Today

Tomorrow: how the idea germinated