8/31/2012

Friday Link Roundup: 8/31/12


I thought I might start doing a Friday Link Post of interesting blogs I found during the week. I've listed them in no particular order.

Trends in YA: (I'd noticed this before, and have often thought it might be fun to write one of these!)


Book Selling and Marketing: (Information that is always good to know.)


The Great Debate: Traditional Publishing or Self, and Why Self-Publishing is Better: (I'm still aiming for the traditional publishing path, despite what the self-published are shouting. But I am keeping my ears open.)


Why Traditional Publishing and Having an Agent is Better: (Another side of the argument.)


How Inspirational Book Proposals Differ from Traditional: (Hint: A Scripture verse.)


Interesting Interview: Little Willow interviewed Donna Freitas, who writes decidedly literary novels for the Young Adult and Middle Grade markets. Her first book, The Possibilities of Sainthood, came out in 2010.


E-Books and Libraries: (An interesting interview on Joe Konrath's blog. I will be very interested to learn how this all shakes out in a few years. When I left the library, our Digital Content Provider (Overdrive) left a lot to be desired, but there were no other choices open to us.)


On Reading: (I always like to see what's on other people's reading lists.)


8/30/2012

Flying Adventure: St. Maries Idaho


Several weekends ago, hubbie and I flew north to St. Maries, Idaho for an EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Pancake Breakfast Fly-in. This is the runway, straight ahead of the prop.



It was a very good breakfast, and very well attended, including this 1928 Boeing 40c, which was Boeing's first passenger aircraft. Interesting, that the pilot sat in an open cockpit, whereas his passengers sat where you see the small rectangular windows in the center of the fuselage. The biplane looked to carry about six or so passengers. This particular plane has a very interesting history; read link if you're intrigued. That's our good friends standing in front of it. They flew their R-V 8 to the fly-in.   


There were plenty of other interesting airplanes to look at. Many pilots have restored old airplanes in the same way that car enthusiasts restore antique cars. I particularly liked this green airplane painted with a silver Pegasus. Metallic paint jobs are very popular, however this plane wasn't painted with metallic paint.


We see this yellow and white plane frequently. It's Vans Aircraft's RV-7 prototype, which is the same airplane as hubbie built. I LOVE the paint job, but hubby didn't want our airplane to look exactly like the prototype. He preferred red and white. Considering that he spent probably 3000 hours building the airplane, I wasn't going to object to his color choices. That's our friend Vince taking a picture of the RV-7. He hasn't painted his RV-8 yet ... hmm ... maybe?


Here's me standing in front of our little spitfire and looking terribly chubby. That was about a month ago and since I've been jogging 16-20 miles/week, my waistline is slowly starting to whittle down. Yay.

It was a great morning!

It's Labor Day weekend this coming weekend, and hubbie and I hope to fly to Salt Lake City, where I lived for two years when I was a kid. I loved it there, but have never, in 50 years, been back. I so want to see the old house, and follow all the roads where I used to ride my bicycle. Past the old tomato canning factory ... Think that's still there? I doubt it. But I do know our old house still is. I saw it on Google Earth. Oddly, someone had put a lawn chair on the roof.

Have a great holiday weekend.

8/28/2012

Big Sky Family by Charlotte Carter: Contemporary Inspy Romance Review


Back of the Book: Single mom Ellie James has returned to Montana for a fresh start and a new job at a local school. She sure could use the support of hometown rancher Arnie O'Brien, especially when she faces the opportunity to step up as director. But this cowboy still holds a grudge from when Ellie left him behind eight years ago. Can Arnie trust God's plan and take a second chance on the girl who got away? He and Ellie will have to put aside the past to face the future together.

I knew I wasn't reading a typical romance when I discovered, almost from the first page, that the hero is a paraplegic, and will always be one. 

Whoa. And he is hero material? 
In an inspirational romance, absolutely. Yes. 

That's what I love about inspirational romance: the authors shine a light on real people in real-life situations. The love that grows, or is rekindled, in the case of a reunion romance such as this one, is based not so much on sexual chemistry (although that is always present, but underplayed). Instead, agape love is forged between them. 

Anyone who's been married for any amount of time realizes agape is the only kind of love that will endure the trials and tribulations a couple will assuredly encounter, probably many, many times, in their lives together. Faith in God and the enduring power of love is what inspirational romance is all about.

About the book ... It's about a lot of things, but nothing so much as Arnie learning to forgive Ellie for leaving him after his injury. It's also about Arnie learning to see himself as a man worthy of being loved, even if he cannot walk, and to accept Ellie's love for him

For Ellie, who had never really stopped loving Arnie (though he pushed her away after his injury), it's about being tested in her leadership abilities and discovering she's up to what's hoped for her. Given the chance to take on a job with quite a lot of responsibility, she is aided in her decision by Arnie's complete faith in her abilities. But not just faith, he's also willing to roll up his sleeves and help her be the accomplished businesswoman she is destined to be ... besides being Arnie's wife.


8/22/2012

Writing Update


Wheat Harvest 2012

We’re smack dab in the middle of harvest, which generally takes about three weeks for us to complete.  I’m not impacted as much by it now as I was in years past. Now, I do little more than cook dinner each night for three hungry harvesters when they come in at anywhere from 8:30-9:30 pm.

As for what I’ve been doing apart from that, it took me a full three weeks after leaving my job at the library to finally complete all the errands and loose ends that were preventing me from launching fully into my writing.

But I am happy to say that as of this week, while the family is putting long days in the field, I’ve been at home, writing, in a mostly quiet house.  

In addition to replacing all of our windows and siding, we had our heating/air conditioning system replaced recently. Men are still here practically every day doing this and that. Who would’ve guessed it would be so complex, and take so many trips out to our house on their parts?

And that’s just the heating/air conditioning technicians. First, they had to install the exterior unit, the heat pump. Then the interior unit, the back-up electric furnace.

 It turned out it was beyond their expertise to complete the job, and so they had to subcontract an electrician to do some wiring. Before the electrician came out, the heating people made two more trips to the house. One was to install a U-V light bulb that behaves like an electronic air filter. Another was to determine why our newly installed air conditioning unit wasn’t working. They determined it had tripped the circuit breaker.

Today, the electrician came out to wire up the electric furnace and discovered a new batch of troubles.
Our house was built in 1979, and there are some things near our electrical panel, namely a sink and a nice stretch of cabinets with new countertops, that won’t pass code. Our choice is to rip out about 15’ of cabinets (which would also mess up our 3-years new basement flooring), or have the electricians drill through 6” of concrete and relocate our electrical panels outdoors. Then when a circuit breaks, we’ll have to go outside to trip it. Won’t that be fun in the snow?

Hubbie will not be pleased when he learns our choices. But I’ve already talked to my son-in-law who remodels kitchens and bathrooms for a living, and he estimated it would probably cost about as much to have the electricians relocate our electrical panel as it would for us to have him rip out the sink, cabinets and countertops and leave an ugly, unfinished space, just to comply with Washington’s “insane” electrical codes. And ultimately, it would ruin the pretty basement we worked so hard in the past few years to create into a livable apartment, where two people are currently living.

So apart from writing, these are the issues I’ve been contending with this week, my first peaceful week at home since retiring, when I have actually had time to work  on my writing, assuming I’m not talking to various builders.  

Regarding writing, I have decided to rework my Young Adult manuscript instead of launching into my inspirational historical romance. I have been studying Dramatica theory for several months, and I wanted to see how what I had done squared with what the Dramatica software suggested I do in terms of plotting.

Frankly, the manuscript is an enormous mess!  But I am so happy for my new understanding of how to successfully plot this particular story, which means keeping it on target. I have an awful tendency to go off on tangents.

 It will be a joy to truly understand what I am doing for a change, and not spend weeks, months, maybe years, flailing in the dark with it. Maybe never really coming to understand how it should roll out. Had I not studied Dramatica, I am sure I would not have “gotten it.”

Hours spent re-plotting my manuscript from Monday-Wednesday: 26.

Gee, it’s good to be back on the job. Had I been working at the library, it would’ve been 24, and none of those hours would’ve been spent occupying my mind with the things I want it to be occupied with.

I’m feeling no regrets about leaving the old job and taking on the new one.


8/20/2012

A Home for Hannah by Patricia Davids: Inspirational Romance Review

by Patricia Davids


Publication date: Aug 1, 2012
Category: 
Inspirational Romance

Back of the Book:
Yearning to find a meaningful life in the outside world, nurse Miriam Kaufman strayed far from her Amish community. She also needed distance from Nick Bradley, the cop who had caused her so much pain. Back in Hope Springs to care for her ailing mother, Miriam needs Nick, now sheriff, to find the mother of Hannah, the baby abandoned on her porch. Nick is as wary of Miriam's intentions as she is of facing their past. Can two wounded hearts overcome their history to do what's best for little Hannah?

I cannot resist a BABY ON THE DOORSTEP hook. Who would be so desperate as to leave their baby on someone's doorstep, and why? 

The mystery is solved, of course, in any novel with this hook. But in a romance, it happens even as a man and a woman are trying desperately NOT to fall in love. 

I'll admit it. I'm new to Steeple Hill's Love Inspired line. Over the past 11 years, I was a children's librarian. The bulk of my reading was devoted to Young Adult, Middle Grade and Picture Books. But I love Inspirational Romance, and I intend to "catch up" on my reading ... and reviewing. 

I'd never read a Patricia Davids book, although she has written somewhere around 20 books so far. As well as the Baby on the Doorstep, the Amish theme intrigued me. This book is part of her Brides of Amish Country Series. Reading it, I learned more than I expected to about the Amish and their beliefs, but the facts were always deftly inserted and only where necessary. 

I discovered also that Ms. Davids's writing style matches the Plainness of the Amish, most notably their Plain Speaking. Unlike other romance writers whose style tends toward lush and lyrical, Ms. Davids does not. Her book reads more like a documentary, with a plot that was utterly believable, which didn't bother me in the least. I have always preferred verisimilitude to fantasy in the romance genre. Besides, there were mysteries to be solved, and the sooner the better. The plot needed to clip along speedily. There was only one place, really, at the end, where I wished Ms. Davids had slowed her pace slightly. I wish she had prolonged the hero and heroine's reuniting after the breakup, so I could savor it all the more. It happened too quickly to bring tears to my eyes. 

But there was another place where she succeeded, which took me entirely by surprise. Tell me if you don't think the following passage is utterly beautiful: 

Nick was singing softly in a beautiful baritone voice that sent chills up her spine. It was the old spiritual, "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." Miriam stood listening for several stanzas, captured by the beauty of his voice and the healing words of the song. Death was not an end, merely a river to be crossed.  
Mark and her father were waiting for her on a shore she couldn't see yet, but someday she would. If only she could be sure she could gain their forgiveness. 
How could she if she handn't forgiven Nick? She pushed the screen door open and walked out onto the porch.   

Well, maybe you need to read the book to feel the full context. I enjoyed A Home for Hannah, and I will definitely be reading more books by Patricia Davids. 



8/14/2012

Unlikely Wife by Debra Ullrick: Inspy Historical Romance Review


Back of the Book

The arrival of Michael Bowen's bride, married sight unseen by proxy, sends the rancher reeling. With her trousers, cowboy hat and rifle, she looks like a female outlaw—not the genteel lady he corresponded with for months. He's been hoodwinked into marriage with the wrong woman! 
Selina Farleigh Bowen loved Michael's letters, even if she couldn't read them herself. A friend read them to her, and wrote her replies—but apparently that "friend" left things out, like Michael's dream of a wife who was nothing like her. Selina won't change who she is, not even for the man she loves. Yet time might show Michael the true value of his unlikely wife.

The cover intrigued me first with this book. I’d never seen a woman in trousers on a cover. I read the back and learned she carried a rifle and couldn’t read. That seemed different. A young woman who disguises herself as a man is a fun and oft-used trope in romance, but I’d never run across a heroine not in disguise, and made no bones about dressing as she did.

Nor did Selina have plans to start wearing dresses to please Michael. Stronger yet, she had no plans to ever do anything because Michael told her to. The illiterate, hard-edged woman not be controlled by a man. Was she ornery, or what?

I didn’t relate well to Selina at first. I found I couldn’t “be” her as I read the story. If I met her in real life, she probably wouldn’t be in my circle of friends, although the women in the story had no trouble welcoming her into the family fold. 

Selina had some softer edges as well, some highly likable qualities, I discovered as I read. She worked hard, was good friend, and had a way with animals. I began to see all the things to love about Selina, and Michael saw them soon afterwards. 

I liked Michael all along, and felt really bad for him in the beginning, knowing that the soft-spoken, cultured woman he thought he had married did not exist, and would never exist, in Selina. 

I felt bad for Selina, who felt she was someone no man could ever love. She was a good person, and willing to make small changes to be more loveable, but she really couldn’t change her stripes. She couldn't be someone entirely different from who she was, nor should Michael have expected it of her. Any marriage where one person expects their mate to become someone entirely different is just plain wrong. 

In the end, Michael had to change the most. He had to grow to appreciate and love Selina as she was.

Debra Ullrick did a wonderful job of illuminating her theme of accepting and valuing people for who they are.
With this particular setup, she showed readers that sometimes God has decidedly different plans for our lives than we have for ourselves. Sometimes God’s plans take a good amount of getting used to. But if we are willing to open our hearts to His ultimate wisdom, we can grow to appreciate the difference between our idealized life and our actual one. And maybe, just maybe, the gifts of the real life are greater than anything we might have imagined. 

I read an interview with Debra Ullrick where the interviewer asked her about her favorite romance authors. There are, of course, many authors that Debra likes, but she was able to single out a handful for their poetic prose. I’d also include Debra in that category. She is a poet and writes beautifully.

But what set this book apart from other romances for me was her heroine. Selina was so spirited, and so unusual, that she practically leapt off the page.      

8/10/2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes! Or, I'm Back!


I’m baaaaack! I’ve been retired now for a little over a week. My pace hasn’t had a chance to slow down yet, although it will, hopefully next week.


There’s been babysitting stints with both sets of grandkids, a grandson’s 8th birthday party, a daughter's 32nd birthday party, two dinners out with friends, my retirement party at work,  a shopping trip to Spokane with one of my daughters. Coming next week is a school shopping trip with my daughter-in-law and her kids.

The home renovators are almost done with our house. The windows are in. The siding is up (but not painted).  A new heating and air-conditioning unit has been installed. 

In September, we’ll have the builders build our deck. In the next couple of weeks, I need to paint and/or wallpaper five rooms, which makes me groan to think about. Maybe I will delay it. My son-on-law is due to put up new window trim next week. I'd hoped to paint first. Maybe I'll let him do his thing and just paint around the trim when I'm more in the mood to paint four rooms and re-wallpaper one.

One odd realization I’ve had about retirement is this: 


When I looked at the growing mound of dirty laundry in my closet yesterday, it was no longer clothes I’d worn to work. Instead, it was jogging shorts and tank tops, which get sweaty and need laundering after every wear.

I’ve jogged 29 miles since August 1, but without weight loss. I’ve always quipped that the only way I can lose weight is to dynamite it off. Hyperbole, of course, but getting truer all the time.  

Another unexpected change was the chance to take afternoon coffee breaks with hubby for a couple of days. 


At the library, the managers never take coffee breaks, although Circ staff, who are on their feet all the time, do. Hubby’s job keeps him on his feet a lot. Or it has lately, while getting the trucks and combines ready for harvest. He needed to come inside, sit down, and sip iced mocha.

For a few days, we enjoyed afternoon coffee together. But harvest started today, and so coffee breaks are over again for a few weeks.

I haven’t had time to do any writing, but I hope to in a couple of days. There's been bugaboo loose ends to attend to, such as re-tooling the blog. I've made an effort to brand myself both according to who I am now, and to appeal to the readers of the type of book I'll be writing: historical inspirational romance. 


There are plans for a new posting strategy and schedule. I’ve also learned some amusing things about my posting stats, which I'll share, along with my new schedule, tomorrow! 

For now, I'm off again. Some writing friends asked me to have dinner with them. Afterwards, I need to buy groceries and be home by 8:30 to finish making dinner for my harvesters.  

The tangy scent of sweet and sour spareribs roasting in the oven is drifting upstairs to my writing room ... They're gonna love it. Hubby loves my sparerib recipe.   
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