Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson's Legacy

I can imagine what you’re thinking: Not another story about Michael Jackson! I don’t often blog about pop culture, but today I’m sharing thoughts on the legacy left by Michael Jackson and the legacy you’ll leave.

His music:
Michael Jackson was a genius. Much has been written about his career, and his name will continue to be known through his music. He left an amazing musical legacy to the world.

His children:
Prince Michael I (12), Paris (11), Prince Michael II (known as Blanket, 7).

Despite handlers, a business manager, and an attorney, Michael Jackson may have failed the people he loved most: his children. With as many people taking care of MJ’s business, how could no one know whether he had a will or where to find it? Though a will has been found, it’s still unclear if Michael Jackson made provisions for his children to have a guardian. How can that be possible? Didn’t his attorney advise him to appoint one?

Newspapers all seem agree that Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, is the logical choice. I think she should be the doting grandmother these children desperately need, but I’m not sure she’s up for the task of full-time parent. At 79, is Katherine Jackson the best this large, famous family can come up with? I’d hate to see these children face another loss if their grandmother died. Even if she lives until they all reach their majority, will she be capable of handling teenagers until Blanket turns 18 and she’s 90?

Your legacy:

As a writer, you have an opportunity to leave a written legacy. A hundred years from now, could the literary world study your books instead of the works of Jane Austen? Or will you be like the multi-published Christian author who regrets the secular books that bear her name? Now is the time to decide if you’re writing the kind of book you want to leave as a legacy.

Your responsibilities:
--Make a will and make sure the prominent people in your life know pertinent details; such as which individual or law firm holds the original document.
--Appoint guardians for any minor children. It’s hard to imagine anyone else raising your children. Do it anyway. Never leave this most important decision about your children to chance.
--Buy life insurance. Get as much as you can possibly afford. Divide your proposed amount of life insurance by your annual salary. Is it enough to provide your loved ones with financial security?

Your opportunity:
You can write a family history for your children and their children. It’s easy to put this off, since you can always do it tomorrow. But you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Waiting another day may be too late. People die every day, and family stories are lost forever.

I have a child who will never know his father. It’s up to me to record stories for him now because there’s no guarantee I’ll be around when he’s old enough to hear them.

Last Wednesday—only one week ago—Michael Jackson was diligently working on his come-back tour. When he woke up on Thursday, he had no idea it would be his last day on Earth. Problem is, you and I don’t know how many days or months or years we’ve been allotted either. Make the most of today.

~Roxanne Sherwood

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blog Tour: Coming Attractions

Coming Attractions (Katie Weldon Series) by Robin Jones Gunn

In this third book in the Katie Weldon Series, Katie is rolling into her final semester at Rancho Corona with one major question for her boyfriend: "Are you serious?" She's come to the conclusion that she really, truly loves Rick and it's time for him to make a declaration about his future intentions. The biggest obstacle to such a conversation is the craziness of their schedules. Katie's close friend, Nicole, is spending more time with Rick than Katie is, and the once mysterious Eli is now the person to whom Katie is opening her heart. What is happening to her should-be-predictable world?

Soon Katie finds she's the one who is asking herself, "Are you serious?" Katie ponders what that means in her life—from her relationship with Rick to what she plans to do after graduation. Could it be that God is asking her the same question about her relationship with Him?

Product Features

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Zondervan (July 1, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0310276586

ISBN-13: 978-0310276586

Friday, June 26, 2009

Author Interview: Elizabeth White

Zondervan published Elizabeth White's most recent book, Tour de Force, this past May. Scoti blogged about the book here.

Elizabeth, a.k.a. Beth, agreed to let us get to know a bit more about the person behind the book by answering a few interview questions.

1. How did you get started on the Writing Road?

A love affair with the written word, I suppose. One of my earliest memories is sitting in my father's lap reading the Sunday comics aloud to him. Then my parents bought a set of encyclopedias. I would sit in the floor in front of that bookcase, reading all about exotic places in other parts of the world and people who invented and discovered things. And then, there was the SRA reading program in my elementary school. Once you fall in love with reading, how can you not start writing?

2. Who has helped you along the Writing Road?

My high school English teachers demanded excellence and gave me basic tools for self-expression. Then when I was working toward certification as an English teacher myself, my professor of Fiction Writing informed me there was a growing market for “this religious stuff you write.” In that same class, I met my critique partner, who has been a rock of discipline and encouragement and mentoring for nearly 25 years. Several different published authors have boosted me along as well: Vicki Hinze and Carolyn Haines, Terri Blackstock and Brandilyn Collins, for example. My two literary agents, Chip MacGregor and Beth Jusino have provided invaluable wisdom and protection. Every editor I've had has taught me something, and there are too many to start naming them all, because I'd forget somebody and wind up in trouble!

3. What obstacles have you had along the Writing Road?

Most of my obstacles have been self-imposed-procrastination, self-doubt, impulsiveness. But there have been a couple of major snags. Like the time Tyndale canceled a three-book contract. That was a body slam. But you know, even the blows generally turn out for good. The three books that Tyndale rejected turned into five books with Zondervan and five with Steeple Hill. I tend to be optimistic. I learn from mistakes and don't let myself stay discouraged for long.

4. What's next for you on the Writing Road?

I would love to know. I'm at a turning point right now. I'm working on a historical series set on the Gulf Coast, with elements of romance and adventure and cultural clashes. I'm not ready to talk about it yet. I'm also noodling with a couple of nonfiction ideas. One is the story of my pastor's family's journey from the hills of Tennessee to the Arizona desert, where they ran a hotel on the Miracle Mile in Tucson. The other would be about my experiences as a music teacher in an all-black inner-city high school in South Alabama. Stay tuned for news.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Free Cell or FreeRice. What's the Difference?

Members of my family are addicted to games on their computers or cell phones such as Free Cell, Spider Solitaire, Bejeweled, and Tetris. I suppose I’m missing the fun, but I’ve never played any of them. With my crazy schedule, I don’t need another distraction from writing, and I consider those games a waste of time.

FreeRice—A Different Story.

FreeRice is a game that builds your vocabulary while ending world hunger. Now, that’s worth my time.


The FreeRice website says:

FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Through generous sponsors, FreeRice has two goals:

1. Provide education to everyone for free.
2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

How do my answers to a vocabulary game earn rice donations?

For each correct answer, FreeRice donates 10 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program to help end hunger.

Do I really make a difference by playing FreeRice?

Yes, the rice you donate makes a huge difference to the person who receives it. According to the United Nations, about 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes, most of them children. Though 10 grains of rice may seem like a small amount, it is important to remember that while you are playing thousands of other people are also playing at the same time. Together, everyone makes the difference. Since October 2007, FreeRice has generated enough rice to feed millions of people.

How to Play

* Click on your answer to a multiple-choice vocabulary question.
* If your answer is correct, you’ll get a harder question. If your answer is incorrect, you’ll get an easier question.
* For each right answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program.
*Topics range from a variety of subjects from art, chemistry, English, geography, math and foreign languages.

WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may also enhance your speaking, writing, and thinking skills. Your grades, and job performance may also improve. What’s more, you might feel good about that time you’re wasting on your computer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blog Tour: Midnight in Madrid

Midnight in Madrid (The Russian Trilogy, Book 2) by Noel Hynd

When a mysterious relic is stolen from a Madrid museum, people are dying to discover its secrets. Literally.

U.S. Treasury agent Alexandra LaDuca returns from Conspiracy in Kiev to track down the stolen artwork, a small carving called The Pietà of Malta. It seems to be a simple assignment, but nothing about this job is simple, as the mysteries and legends surrounding the relic become increasingly complex with claims of supernatural power.

As aggressive, relentless, and stubborn as ever, Alex crisscrosses Europe through a web of intrigue, danger, and betrayal, joined by a polished, mysterious new partner. With echoes of classic detective and suspense fiction from The Maltese Falcon to The Da Vinci Code, Midnight in Madrid takes the reader on a nonstop spellbinding chase through a modern world of terrorists, art thieves, and cold-blooded killers.

Product Details

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: Zondervan (March 1, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0310278724

ISBN-13: 978-0310278726

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Friday Smorgasbord

I gathered together a few odds and ends of interest to writers:

Don't forget author Susan May Warren's Sugar Blast! It's a Facebook Party tonight from 5-7 PM wrapping up the celebration of the release of her newest book, PJ Sugar: Nothing But Trouble.

Susan will be
~ answering your questions
~ giving you a sneak peak into book 2 in the PJ Sugar collection
~ letting you test your trivia skills
~ giving away books and a GINORMOUS Sugar Basket!

Also ... everyone in attendance will receive a downloadable book plate and discussion questions for Nothing But Trouble for your book club, reading group, or just for yourself! Her Facebook account name is Susan May Warren. See you there!

I know school's out and no one wants to think about homework. But this is for all you year-round wordsmiths out there:

Check out Spell It! Tricks and Tips for Spelling Bee Success here.

It is a treasure trove of spelling information with lists for Latin words, Old English words, Japanese words, Greek words, Italian words and more. Each section includes tidbits of information to help you learn words, like:

~The letter k rarely appears in words from Latin, and its
sound is nearly always represented by c as in canary, prosaic,
canine, mediocre, Capricorn, cognition, ductile, incorruptible,
vernacular, innocuous, and many other words on the list.

~Old English likes double consonants following short vowels, especially if the vowel is in a stressed syllable. Examples include quell, paddock, mattock, sallow, fennel, hassock, errand, barrow, kipper, and Wiccan.

And here's something to aim for if you're a fiction writer:

"We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget that we are reading printed words on a page; we begin to see images."-John Gardner, author

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ACFW: "The Premier Christian Fiction Writers Conference."

Make plans now to attend the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference.

Standing firm...moving forward

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)

Denver, Colorado

Thursday, September 17 – Sunday, September 20, 2009

Member registration will be $499.00 at the standard rate (before August 15)

The conference hotel is the Marriott Tech Center in Denver, CO. Lodging fees are not included in the conference registration fees.

Keynote speaker Debbie Macomber is one of today's leading voices in romance and women's fiction, with over 100 million copies of her books in print world-wide. Debbie is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Drawing on her own experiences and those of her family and friends, she demonstrates an almost uncanny ability to see into the souls of women and to express their emotions, values and concerns. In every book her sense of humor enlivens her writing.

There are five Continuing Education sessions:

Level A – hosted by Jim and Tracie Peterson
Level B – hosted by Margaret Daley
Level C – hosted by Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren
Level D – hosted by Allen Arnold and Karen Ball
Level E – hosted by Rene Gutteridge

Early Bird Session is titled “Writing the Breakout Novel,” and will be hosted by Donald Maass. This year's session will be held on Thursday, September 17, 2009 from 8:00 am- 4:00 pm (1 hour lunch break). More details are available on the conference pages.

Included with the conference registration are the following meals: a Thursday night dinner, breakfast on Friday and Saturday, lunch on Friday and Saturday, and Awards Banquet on Saturday.

There will be a book store as in previous years, and the book signing will be held Saturday afternoon from 4:00 – 5:30 PM.

For more information: http://acfw.com/conference/

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blog Tour: Tour de Force

Tour de Force

Gillian Kincade is a soloist with Ballet New York, a sought-after guest artist, and a committed Christian. Though she may be an anomaly in the world of dance, Gilly believes her devotion to God isn't compromised by following her dreams. Then she meets Jacob Ferrar.

Jacob is the brilliant young artistic director of the Birmingham Ballet Theatre and a born-again Christian. When he offers Gillian the lead in his latest ballet she accepts, knowing it won't necessarily further her career, but it will touch her soul.

On the chaotic road to opening night, Gilly and Jacob develop a deep professional respect for each other and begin to fall in love. Then their brilliant first performance is destroyed by a terrible accident, and suddenly both must face an uncertain future. Together, they dance the fine line between personal vision and God's will, listening for the guidance of the Father's heart.

Product Details

Title: Tour de Force

Author: Elizabeth White

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Zondervan

ISBN-10: 0310273900

ISBN-13: 978-0310273905

Friday, June 12, 2009

Author Interview with Deborah Vogts

Deborah Vogts--can you have a name closer to mine?--just published her first book, Snow Melts in Spring. My writing partner, Scoti, blogged about it on Monday. Here's a chance to get to know the writer behind the book!

1.How did you get started on the Writing Road?

First, thank you, Beth, for having me on your blog. To answer this first question, I wanted to be a writer since high school, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I began taking serious steps to get to the goal. I joined a local writer’s group and ACFW, (an online writing organization), joined a critique group, read writing how-to’s and attended writing conferences. I met my first agent at the ACFW Nashville Conference. We hit it off at our meeting, and she gave me some tips on making my book series “bigger.” I did that and submitted my idea to her and she took me on. We shopped my Seasons of the Tallgrass series for a year and had a few bites (one of them Zondervan) but no sale. In the end, she released me, which was a real heartbreaker. However, we don’t always see the big picture like God does, and six months later I signed with my agent, Rachelle Gardner with WordServe Literary, and we had an offer from Zondervan three months after that.

2.Who has encouraged you along the Writing Road?

My family has been very supportive of my writing from the very beginning with my parents in high school, and then my husband. In fact, when we married, I told my husband that I wanted to stay home with the children so that I could pursue a writing career. It took me a while, but it finally happened. My girls are all very encouraging, even though they have to endure “Mom’s crazy writing habits.” I also have many friend-encouragers through ACFW, which is a wonderful blessing—who better understands the trials and discouragement a writer faces than another writer. ;)

3.What has been your greatest roadblock along the Writing Road?

The year my series was being shopped around was especially difficult. We would get a bite and then nothing . . . and then a little interest and then nothing. I believed God had placed me on this journey, and things were going so well. Then, all of a sudden, everything stopped! That can really mess with a person’s mind. So, for me, that period between shopping my manuscript and finally getting the sale with Zondervan was a time of learning for me. I had to learn to trust God and put everything in His hands. Not easy.

4.What's next for you on the Writing Road?

I’m continuing on with the Seasons of the Tallgrass series. I’m waiting for edits of my second book, Seeds of Summer and have started working on my third book, tentatively titled Blades of Autumn. One of the neatest parts of the publishing process is seeing what the creative team comes up with for a cover. I’m eager to view the cover for Seeds of Summer, a story about a former Miss Rodeo Kansas queen, and her return to the Flint Hills to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two younger siblings.

To find out what other bloggers are saying about Deborah, go here.

Deborah Vogts’ Website

Deborah Vogts’ Blog

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Breaking Out . . .

You dread purple prose. What about purple toes? . . . Sorry. That was really bad.

I have a small confession: I'm typing this with purple fingernails. Sally Hansen INSTA-DRI Fast Dry Nail Color in Pronto Purple, to be exact. Another confession: my toenails match.

As a woman over 40, (which I suppose is yet another confession), I favor pinks, corals, reds, and mauves for lips and nails. I'm a firm believer that black, green, blue--and a rainbow of other colors--are perfect for dresses but not as nail colors. Yet, I'm staring at the bright purple tips of my fingers, a color which is totally out-of-character for me.

What's something "out-of-character" for your character? In other words, what's something you can't imagine your hero or heroine ever doing?

Did you think of something?

Donald Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, says to imagine something your protagonist would absolutely never do. Now, imagine him or her doing that very thing, then write the scene. After attending one of Mr. Maass's workshops, Author DiAnn Mills wrote a scene showing her protagonist doing something "out-of-character." When she included the scene in her book, it took her novel to a new level.

Allow your hero to do the unexpected. You'll surprise your readers and might even surprise yourself. Your characters will be unique individuals, not predictable stereotypes. Best of all, your writing will be as fresh and as one-of-a-kind as you are.

Go write that scene--the one you couldn't imagine your character doing, only you then imagined it anyway.

You know, I kind of like these purple nails . . .

~ Roxanne Sherwood

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blog Tour: Snow Melts in Spring

Snow Melts in Spring

Mattie Evans loves her work as a veterinarian almost as much as she loves the Flint Hills of Kansas. And she has a special place in her heart for a gruff old rancher, John McCray, who has become a father figure to her. So when John's estranged son, Gil, returns with thoughts to sell the family land and move his father to California, Mattie is drawn into a family conflict so deep that healing seems unlikely.

As layers of secrets are peeled away and old guilt resurfaces, Mattie struggles to understand Gil's past and wonders how she fits into his future. Through the conflict, Mattie faces her own family's discord—complicated by a sister who has a few secrets of her own.

This contemporary love story, the first of the Tallgrass series, broadens the scope of romance novels to draw a compelling picture of regional beauty, personal conflict, and ultimate forgiveness.

Product Details

Author: Deborah Vogts

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Zondervan (July 1, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0310292751

ISBN-13: 978-0310292753

Friday, June 5, 2009

PJ Sugar: Come Join the Party on Facebook!

Author Susan May Warren is wrapping up the celebration for the release of her new book, PJ Sugar: Nothing But Trouble, with a Facebook Party on Friday, June 19th. Here's what Susan wants you to know about the party:

PJ Sugar is a girl who I've fallen in love with - and I'm excited that others have too! I wrote PJ for everyone who feels just a little messy, just a little like they can't quite get it right. (I'm so there!) And who needs to hear that God loves them. Period. Full stop. Hallelujah.

Grab a few of your friends ... some sugar cookies (or whatever Sugary goodness you prefer), your favorite beverage and your computer and let's chat. June 19th from 5-7 PM PST, I'll be:

~ answering your questions
~ giving you a sneak peak into book 2 in the PJ Sugar collection
~ letting you test your trivia skills
~ giving away books and a GINORMOUS Sugar Basket!

Also ... everyone in attendance will receive a downloadable book plate and discussion questions for Nothing But Trouble for your book club, reading group, or just for yourself!

So grab a few of your friends and come join me on June 19th from 5-7 pm (PST) on Facebook.

My Facebook account name is Susan May Warren.

I plan on being part of the Sugar Blast! Hope to see you there on the 19th!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Join American Christian Fiction Writers

Are you looking for a group of professional writers? Look no further. American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) is an organization with more than 1800 members, consisting of authors, editors, agents, publicists and aspiring writers. I believe an ACFW membership is the best $50 you'll invest this year in your writing career! ~ Roxanne Sherwood

ACFW President Cynthia Ruchti answers if this organization is right for you:

Have you spoken with writers who are unsure if they should join ACFW?

Are you a writer who joined but is unsure this is where you belong? We sometimes hear questions like these. You might find your own concern among them.

I'm not published yet. Do I belong in ACFW?

MOST of our members are unpublished, but are working TOWARD publication. You're welcomed with open arms. Here you will find training in fiction writing and information about the Christian fiction industry that will help you reach the Lord's goals for your writing. Note that His goals may or may not include publication, but we will work with you, encourage you, and pray for you while you find out.

I write non-fiction exclusively. Do I belong in ACFW?

Although some of our members write both fiction and non-fiction, almost everything ACFW does is geared toward the novelist and the Christian fiction market. Good writing principles carry over into both "camps," and using fiction techniques brings new life to non-fiction. But unless you write fiction, you may find it more beneficial to join one of the organizations that addresses non-fiction writing, publishing, and markets. Whatever you decide, you'll want to note that discussion on the loop needs to stay focused on fiction writing topics.

I just want to promote my book here. Do I belong in ACFW?

Our primary objectives are training writers, educating them in Christian fiction, and serving as an advocate for the Christian fiction industry. Promotion of our authors is not a key function but a great byproduct of the relationships made within ACFW. The connections you make here--as well as the opportunities for enlisting book reviewers and getting your book considered for New Releases and our Author lists on the website--will help get the word out to other authors and the readers who frequent our website. But your strongest promotional endeavors will come from other sources than ACFW. However, education ABOUT promotion and marketing is one of our strong suits. Sharing information about promotional opportunities happens all the time within ACFW.

I'm self-published. Do I belong in ACFW?

ACFW's mission and vision are to prepare novelists for success in traditional publishing, helping our members strive for excellence in the craft and develop skills that will help their books attract the attention of CBA publishers. Other groups may focus more on self-publication goals. From the beginning, ACFW has sought to prepare authors and their books for acceptance by CBA publishers. We aren't tailored to guide writers to well-respected self-publishers or to help promote self-published books. Self-publishing has a different dynamic, especially in the world of fiction. But there are still ways in which you may benefit greatly from ACFW membership. As you take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and information in our craft-training classes, our website archives, and our main loop, you will grow in your craft and become even more skilled at the kind of writing the Lord has designed for you, no matter what type of publication outreach He has in mind specifically for you.

I'm multi-published and have a strong marketing team, a great agent, and more contracts than I can manage. Do I belong in ACFW?

Do you need to know that other writers understand your challenges? Do you appreciate the encouragement of those who are blessed by what you write? If you are multi-published, you no doubt have learned the secret--that a writer can never stop learning. Just as a prolific author always is digging into (or back into) a craft classic, he or she can benefit from fresh ways of looking at subjects like POV, deepening emotion, writer's block, character motivations... Or you may find your greatest joy in ACFW membership is the opportunity to help other writers over the hurdles you conquered long ago, or in some aspect of mentoring through your knowledgeable answers to the main loop. You'll find both camaraderie with other multi-published authors and plenty of opportunity to assist the yet-to-be-published in their writing journey.

ACFW is always looking to expand and enhance what we offer to both the newcomer and the veteran novelist. We understand that we can't meet every need, nor can we fully focus on every aspect of fiction that deserves attention. But we're working very hard to show that if you're serious about writing great novels, this is where you belong!

Pressing on for the glory of the Author and Finisher of our faith,

Cynthia Ruchti
ACFW President

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tools You Can Use: Research Historical Documents Online

"Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it."—Oscar Wilde

Explore Historical Treasures from Around the World

Need an ubber secret document for your villain to steal? Want something unique to add to your historical fiction? World Digital Library (WDL), a collaborative project of the U.S. Library of Congress, UNESCO, and partners throughout the world, lets you discover significant primary sources, historical documents and materials. This interactive, multilingual resources includes items dated from 8.000 BC to modern times.

World Digital Library Features

  • Discover historical treasures, documents and materials from different countries and cultures around the world
  • Organizes content on a world map by geographic regions
  • Includes rare books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, architectural drawings, prints, music scores, sound recordings, films and other types of primary sources
  • Includes a timeline associating each item with a year or historical period
  • Create a custom time period showing all the items available in the time period you selected
  • View ancient maps, manuscripts, architectural drawings, photographs and more
  • Browse using the search function by key word, place, time, topic, institution, and format: books, journals, manuscripts, maps motion pictures, prints and photographs, sound recordings
  • Play audio and video files using Flash
  • Launches a page turner function for books and items containing multiple pages
  • Click to view the item's description, see related items and watch curator's video interview
  • Zoom in to view the item in larger size
  • Available in the official languages of the United Nations: English, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese
  • Promotes international and intercultural understanding
  • Expands the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet
  • Provides resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences
  • Resets image to zoom in to view photographs and other items in great detail or zoom out or reset the image to its original size
  • Downloads each item in the World Digital Library
  • Provides books as PDFs (Portable Document Format)
  • Provides a curator video of an expert speaking about an item or collection for some items
  • Presents contents of the books, manuscripts, and other items as images