Category Archives: Authors

GRACE AWARDS – Reading Recommendations

Wow! Summer reading has never been this exciting. What fabulous novels and super talented authors.

Check out these Grace Awards Summer Book Bash recommendations: six fabulous novels from super talented authors!

Grace Awards Annual Summer Book Bash Recommendations

 

THE POISON WE DRINK
by Carol McClain
(Desert Breeze Publishing)

Summer is too short to labor over ponderous tomes.  This novel will sweep you up in its drama and keep those pages zipping. You’ll not want to leave the beach until the last page has been read.

The Poison We Drink – Available on Amazon

 

 

HARMFUL INTENT
by Nike N.
Chillemi
(Crime
Fictionista Press)

Kick off your summer reading by diving into this fast paced detective story, the first of the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy.

Harmful Intent – Available on Amazon

 

 

 

6 DATES TO DISASTER
by Cynthia T. Toney
(Write Integrity Press)

A summer read for teen girls ages 13 to 15! This story addresses honesty in school and with parents as well as drinking and driving. It shows how decisions can damage relationships and risk a teen’s reputation and future.

6 Dates to Disaster – Available on Amazon

 

 

IMPERFECT BONDS, Book 3 of The Imperfect Series
by Elizabeth Noyes
(Write Integrity Press)

Imperfect Bonds, a 2016 Grace Awards Winner, Book 3 of the Imperfect Series, is the ideal summer escape for book lovers. Whether lounging on the beach or relaxing at home, this edgy, sometimes funny, sometimes sad romantic suspense will sweep you away on an action-packed, page-turning journey.

Imperfect Bonds – Available on Amazon

 

 

REVENGE
by Paula Rose
(Anaiah Press)

Are you looking for a summer escape where danger lurks below the surface? Treat yourself to a suspense-filled vacation, staycation, or beach read where career, a missing person, and romance combine inside a mystery that is this exciting novel.

Revenge – Available on Amazon

 

 

STRONGER THAN MOUNTAINS
by Lynn Dean
(Wordsworth Publishing)

Summer is a great time to travel. Reading can take you on a journey without ever leaving your favorite hammock or recliner. You can even travel through time! This novel (the sequel to MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD in the Sangre de Cristo series) will whisk you away to the Wild West during the days of bustles and bad guys.

Stronger Than Mountains – Available on Amazon

Imperfect Bonds – Finalist!

I am thrilled, proud, and so very honored to announce that Book 3 of The Imperfect Series – IMPERFECT BONDS – has been named a finalist in the Action-Adventure / Western / Epic Fiction category!

The Grace Awards 2016 is an annual reader-driven literary awards presentation of Christian fiction. This year’s nominations include works from major publishers, small publishers, and independent authors. Winners in each category will be announced on May 31, 2017.

And…the Grace Awards 2016 Finalists are… (click here)

 

 

Quality is a must if you want to succeed as a writer.

Invest in yourself. You’re worth every penny.

After many, many years working in the corporate administrative world where I slaved over a typewriter and then a computer, I’ve learned the value of producing superior work. Be it a product, a service, a technical document, promotional flyer, presentation, brochure, report, or hard-learned-lesson-1even an email, poor quality can derail your efforts for success. The last thing you want to do is show the world anything less than meticulous.

Think about it. Would you go to the local grocery store and purchase a liter bottle of Coca-Coal? Or a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Suop?

Not me! If I can’t trust the company that produced the product to be meticulous with their labeling, how can I trust they weren’t also careless with what’s inside?

Which leads me to ask why any writer would expect an editor or publisher to overlook obvious flaws in a manuscript submission.  No one knows how many manuscripts are submitted to publishers each year, but research shows that only 1 out of every 1,000 are accepted, and then only 1 in 2,000 of those gets published!

Look at the competition. Amazon.com alone offers upwards of 800,000 ebooks and more than 1.8 million  physical books for order!

For those who choose to bypass the traditional contractual process and follow the self-publishing route, great! Indies have opened the door for pretty much everyone to succeed in the publishing industry. But let me refer  back to the paragraph above about the Chicken Noodle Suop.

Bookstores and online retailers are in the business of selling and making money. Consequently, they’re extremely interested is understanding what drives a reader to purchase a book, and have conducted tons of research on reading habits.  Did you know that readers who start a new book, only one in four will finish that book?

Various reasons are cited for this — They’re boring, not plausible, unrealistic, I can’t relate to the characters, too wordy. not enough action, etc.  But the hard-learned-lesson-2one reason that screamed at me was: “I couldn’t get past all the spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors.”

Yikes! Don’t let this be you!

Join a writing group or go to writing conferences. Attend classes, find a critique partner. Maybe recruit beta readers, utilize online tools, follow blogs that focus on writing tips, or even invest in a good copy editor.

One of the first things you should do as a writer, whether seasoned or a newbie, is clean up your manuscript.

hard-learned-lesson-3Study the standard requirements. Know what is expected from a publisher, an editor, and your reader-audience. Master the fundamentals. Create your own self-editing checklist. Invite others you trust to critique your work.

I’ve provided several several excellent links below that can help you through this process. Use them. Look for others. The number of free online resources is almost overwhelming. Take advantage of them.

Holly Lorincz, Editor, Lorincz Literary Services

Ian Irvine, Bestselling Author

Jane Friedman, Author, Blogger, Publishing/Marketing Guru

As a reader, do you skim? Why?

Authors, newbies in particular, are repeatedly cautioned about certain basic writing requirements:

Write tight.  Trim the fat.  Cut word count.  Eliminate unnecessary words.
Does it advance the story?

As a reader, I find I’m prone to skim. For me, it’s the invasion of dirty words into our literary culture. Oh, and gratuitous sex.

couple-love-people-romanticDon’t get me wrong. I like a sexy romance as much as the next person, but it’s enough to leave the action at the door. I know the mechanics of the act. My imagination works fine, thank you very much. I don’t need step-by-step instruction.

So, let’s apply the list from above to the prolific sex scenes romping through our books today:

Write tight. fail  Trim the fat. fail  Cut word count. fail  Eliminate unnecessary words. fail
Does it advance the story? double fail

Now, let’s talk about profanity. Um, er, uh … Wow. Just wow.

ProfanityFour-letter bombs and worse fill almost every page these days. I get that language can aid in establishing a character’s quirks and personality, but please. A little moderation would go a long way. 

So, once again, let’s apply the test:

Write tight. fail  Trim the fat. fail  Cut word count. fail  Eliminate unnecessary words. fail
Does it advance the story? triple fail

Exclamation markIt is commonly understood in the writing world that an exclamation mark is a lazy writer’s shortcut. A good writer relies on words to convey the excitement of the scene, the fear, happiness, anger, etc. – not punctuation.

This same concept can be applied to the overuse of gratuitous sex scenes and abundant profanity. True skill is hidden by these “unnecessary words,” and like me, your reader may not  be able to get past them to finish the book.

Data rules.

With the ease of self-publishing today, not all authors bother with the basics, opting for quantity over quality. Sales are up, but profits are down because the content has been cheapened and purchase prices degraded.

eReadersBeware. Digital readers tell the tale.

According to emerging statistics, readers finish less than 50% of eBooks purchased in certain genres. There’s even talk of online retailers creating a new category for “eBooks Actually Finished.”

My advice? Let’s get back to the basics. Perfect the art of good writing. The author’s self-esteem will soar, and readers will thank you.

Imagine …

Imperfect Bonds FRONT COVER smallBook Three in The Imperfect Series, IMPERFECT BONDS, is due to release on July 30, 2016. Light, funny, and a little bit sad, it also touches on the edgy topic of Human Trafficking.

https://www.amazon.com/Imperfect-Bonds-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01J6E0K5U

July 30th is also “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (#wdatip), as declared  by the United Nations. 

Human trafficking. Slavery. Bondage. Servitude. Enslavement. Oppression. Loss of everything you know, everything you have, and everything you are. Whatever we call it, Human Trafficking represents identity theft in the worst, most heinous way possible, much to mankind’s everlasting shame.

I am reminded of the story in the Bible of when the Israelites were taken into bondage by the Babylonians, specifically the tales of four teens, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. I find it interesting that Daniel, who was given the Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, kept his “Daniel” identity all through history, while his three friends are better known by their Babylonian names—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Thousands of Jews were taken captive and transported far from their homeland in Judah. These affluent boys were reduced to no more than slaves with no civil rights and no say in anything that might affect their lives. They had to adapt to a new culture and learn a new language if they wanted to survive. 

helpSlavery continues in our world today, but without respect for life. In fact, this juggernaut industry profits more than $32 billion annually, and affects between 20-30 million victims – children and adults, male and female. (Authorities believe these numbers are low  with most of the criminal activities hidden.)

Take a walk with me for a moment. Exercise your imagination:

Imagine you’re a young woman working on a deadline. The project runs late and you leave your office well after everyone else. The walk to the parking garage seems longer in the semi-lit darkness. Every shadow is sinister, every sound amplified. You hurry your steps, knowing there is safety inside the locked doors of your car.

Imagine as you approach the driver’s side, a van comes around the corner. Nothing special about it. Just another work vehicle with scuff marks and a few dings. And yet, fear zips through your body. Do you turn around and race back to the building? Or hurry to unlock your car?

Imagine in the moment of hesitation as the van picks up speed. It draws near. Panic grips you when the sliding door flies open. A man jumps out and rushes toward you.  You scream and turn to run … but it’s too late.

Imagine rough hands grab you. A nasty rag is crammed in your mouth. You’re lifted and tossed bodily inside the van. The man scrambles in behind you and slams the door. Darkness envelops you as the vehicle speeds away. The panic becomes gut-wrenching terror.

Imagine having all your possessions taken away — purse, money, jewelry, phone, clothes, even your name.

chains-19176_640Imagine being tossed into a cold, dark cell with only a blanket on the floor. You’re dressed in the thinnest of rags with no one to hear your cries for help.

Imagine being ridiculed for your tears, beaten for your screams. You soon learn not to complain, but to beg instead for the meanest comfort —  a toilet, food, water, or perhaps a simple scrap of information.

Imagine being told you’ll never see your family, home, friends, or anything familiar again. That your life as you know it is gone forever. That now, you’re a commodity.

Imagine being forced to do terrible, shameful, demeaning things because that’s what your captor demands, and your performance determines if you’ll receive another beating or whether you get to eat or drink. Or possibly even live to see another day.

Imagine you’re forced to take addicting drugs that leave you fuzzy, delirious, incapable of clear thought or logical decisions, unable to control your body movements or speech. You can’t fight or deny your captor anything.

Imagine losing all hope.children-788782_640

This is but a single scenario that a victim of Human Trafficking might face. Everyday children are snatched from shopping malls and playgrounds while under the watchful eyes of parents. Young men are abducted from bars and nightclubs. Young women are lured away with promises of … whatever. Boys and girls are snatched from schools, sporting events, skating rinks, right off the street. And the list goes on. 

Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling prey to these monsters. Educate your children. Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Website:  Human Trafficking 101  http://ow.ly/wW7O302Ayip

Support The Blue Campaign    https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaignBlue Campaign

Exciting news about a fantastic sale and a new release!

I have 3 very exciting announcements to share with you today!

*  The kindle edition of Imperfect Wings, the first book in my Imperfect Series, is on sale for a limited time for only 99¢!      What a steal!

* Book 2 of the series, Imperfect Trust, has also been discounted and is now available for only $2.99.

and ….. (can I get a drum roll please!!!”

* Book 3, Imperfect Bonds, is on schedule for an early August release! Yay!3-book collage

Bonus: Here’s a YouTube link to a short video trailer with a sneak peek for what to expect in the latest book: http://ow.ly/Xphw302kCEJ

Help me spread the word! Share this information with all your friends, neighbors, co-workers … all book lovers.

Better yet, help them complete their summer reading list by gifting a copy direct to their Kindle device. Amazon makes it so easy. (Here’s a link to my website explaining how: http://ow.ly/ttcU302kBMT)

Thanks so much for supporting me through this journey. Happy reading!

Novels, “Brexit,” and the Bible

One of the keys to good novel writing is to plunge your main character into a pressure cooker of trouble and keep piling it on until they think they can’t take anymore.

Overwhelm characters memeThis might come in the form of physical danger, mental pressure, or emotional turmoil. Whatever, you really lay it on. Of course, you also throw your hero or heroine a rope once they’ve reached their darkest point, when they’re about to lose all hope and give up. But then they escape and, oh the sweet relief! Maybe they don’t get away unscathed. Most likely they’re changed forever, definitely scarred, humbled, and much wiser, but they get to go home.

Great Britain’s recent vote to withdraw from the European Union (EU), popularly called “Brexit” (or Britain’s exit), seems to provide such an example. Once a man tastes freedom, he will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Keep nibbling at his sovereign rights, and the pressure builds.

This vote was an historic event, a mandate issued by an unheard of 78% voter turnout. The powers that be—those who deem themselves the leaders and governors of the world today, whether in public positions or behind the scenes—don’t get it. They can’t believe what happened. They’re still spluttering. “How can this be? It’s not according to our plan.”

(I have to interject a funny here. It always amazes me how creative and witty people can be, regardless of the gravity of circumstances. While I would love to take credit for this ingenious meme, I can’t. I’m just not that imaginative. There’s a ton more out there, too. It does, however, prove yet again how much truth there is in humor.)

Brexit

Chuckles aside, the bottom line is the people of England are in rebellion, plain and simple. They’ve had enough. This same sentiment is rising in the United States. By the people and for the people seems to have been lost somewhere along the line. The new mantra is by the politicians and for the politicians. I suspect we’ll see a similar adventure in our November presidential election.

No one knows what repercussions will stem from this momentous event, but if you take a good, hard look at the greatest novel of all time – the Bible – well, I think the pressure is just beginning.

Yes, I likened the Holy Bible to a novel. It’s the PRE-historic story—meaning a history of the world before the world had history. Which leads to a conundrum. If history is written before it actually occurs, does that make it fiction until the events happen?

Too deep for me.

Prophecy defined by Merriam-Webster:  a statement that something will happen in the future; or the power or ability to know something will happen in the future.

Prophecy defined by me as a Christian: Belief in the Bible as God’s promise of what has happened, what is happening now before our eyes, and what will happen.

Belief is very comforting for Christians. Years ago, my old grandma lay dying in the hospital. She said, “I’m going home today … or I’m going home. Either way, I’m going home.”

Crosses and Stars of David

Have you ever noticed the gravesites of our brave and courageous American soldiers are marked by crosses, or by the Star of David?

These fine men and women lie in honor all around the world. They fought against oppression and for freedom, under the banner of a Christian nation. That’s what those crosses and stars symbolize.

WWII American Cemetery, Rhone, France

WWII American Cemetery, Rhone, France

This week, leading into the first of three American holidays that honor patriotism and patriots, I find myself meditating on Memorial Day and why we celebrate it.

Memorial Day was originally proclaimed as Decoration Day on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was borne out of the devastation of the Civil War in a desire to honor those who lost their lives during this terrible time in our history. The tradition has carried forth through the years and now encompasses all of the wars that have touched our nation.

Today we pay tribute in remembrance of those who died in service to the United States of America. “Yeah,” you say. “But what does this mean?”

Lives. Men and women who died. Take a look at the following numbers. Let them overwhelm you. And keep in mind these are only the verifiable numbers – which makes me wonder how many were missed in the final count.

Mem Day - War StatisticsIn Flanders Field, a poem by Major John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

During my research for this blog, I ran across this notice: The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

So, I wonder, why don’t we hear anything about this moment of silence anymore? I challenge you. On Monday, May 30, 2016, at precisely 3:00pm your timeSTOP. Ask yourself where you and yours would be without the sacrifices made by those who believed in and fought on behalf of our country? Remember them. Thank them. And pray for their families.

 

Love your neighbor as yourself. Really?

Have you seen some of my neighbors?

Worse, the word “neighbor” used in scripture includes anyone and everyone that touches your sphere of existence—neighborhood, workplace, community, grocery store—anybody you come in contact with, and maybe even some you don’t.

Impossible.

What if I’m standing in a check-out line behind a serial killer? Or a pedophile? I mean, we all know what these people look like. Right?

What if I go to enter a building and I’m jostled aside by a young thug in Saggin pantsbutt crack-revealing pants? Someone who roams the streets looking for an opportunity to intimidate? Looking to prove himself to his fellow butt-crackers? I mean, what if he has a gun? Or a knife?

Tattooed thugWhat about the burly dude with ink covering every visible scrap of skin? Or the depraved-looking punk who’s mutilated his face and body with terrible piercings? Or the young woman dressed in skimpy clothes with a cigarette dangling from her lips and a toddler dangling from her hip?

What about the unshaven, overgrown hick in the jacked up truck, with theRedneck truck sleeves torn out of his tee shirt, ball cap on backward, and sucking on a beer can? The customer service rep on the phone who speaks with an accent so thick I can’t understand a word he says? The man on the street corner in a North Face jacket who holds a sign up claiming homeless and hungry?

What about the group of young people who had a few too many–drinks/tokes/pills/sniffs? You know them, they’re noisy, obnoxious, beyond rude, and use profanity like it’s on sale. Or the obese woman in the motorized scooter who will run over you if you don’t get out of her way? Or the overly loud man who always has something to say, inane as it may be? Or the jerk who cuts you off in traffic?

Am I really supposed to love all these losers?

Wow, God. I don’t see how even You could love them. Or for that matter, why you care about me.

A character I created for one of my early (unpublished) books came to mind, one I haven’t thought of in a long time. Raymond Bessemer (totally fictional name) is a bad guy, the antagonist, the one everybody loves to hate, including Raymond himself. And I made him that way.

I knew the things Raymond suffered as a child, the terrible consequences Bad guyforced on him by the actions of others, and the impossible circumstances that led to impossible choices. I knew his innermost thoughts, felt his despair in the darkness, and understood his regrets and remorse. I also knew of the hope he protected from the world, that eternal spark of light that cries from the soul. You see, hope, like a weed, is impossible to completely extinguish.

I wrote Raymond into existence full of hurt, anger, and feelings of helplessness. I let him make his own choices, even when they were bad. And I still cherished him, despite all the reprehensible things he thought and said and did. I still love him. You see, he’s mine.

Writers call the characters we create “our darlings” and “our children.” Even though they represent evil, we hate when others hate them. That’s because we see past their flaws and terrible deeds, we know their innermost thoughts and dreams. In fact, I loved Raymond so much that I created another character who saw past his darkness and showed him a better way. I wrote a better future for him. All he had to do was choose it.

All he had to do was choose it. Wow.

Aren’t we all Raymonds? Just in a bigger theater? Look at me. Look at you. Look at the next person you see. There’s a soul inside each of us, a spirit that hopes and hungers for light, and waits for someone to reach out.

You don’t have to like someone to care about them. You just have to care.LoveIf Jesus could forgive his betrayers, love a thief on the cross, and give His life to save people who despised Him … why is it so difficult for us to follow his example? To at least try?