Girls Write Out
Monday, October 31, 2011
Dave and I celebrated our 40th anniversary on Sunday. It seems impossible that we've been married that long, mostly because I still feel like the 19 year old girl he married. LOL I look older and my body lets me know I'm no spring chicken, but I don't feel any older.

So from the depths of my great wisdom (ha!) I thought we could talk about what makes a marriage last. How do you get through the tough times that every couple faces? I'd like to hear from you too, but here is my personal list for building my marriage.

1. Appreciate all the things your spouse does for you. Verbalize it in front of others too.

2. Focus on your spouse's good qualities. If you dwell on the things that bug you, that's all you'll see. If you have to, write out a list and remind yourself.

3. Say "I love you" every day. Many times. :)

4. Don't try to change your spouse. You have rough edges too. We all do. You will NOT change them and you will only frustrate yourself if you try. Reread #2. :)

5. Love is not a feeling. It's daily choices that we make on how we treat each other. Practice love and thoughtfulness.

Now it's your turn. What tip can you offer for a lasting relationship?


Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:00 PM  
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Friday, October 28, 2011
I'm sure you can tell by the facial hair on these three people that there aren't children in this picture. I hope you can see from the bubbles that Mel and Rich and I were having fun like children when Lissa took the shot. I'm here to remind you, once again, to take time to have fun and play no matter your age or circumstances. Laughter relieves stress. I particularly love laughing at myself, but today I'd love to laugh along with you.

Let me give you some examples:
When I was about three or four years old my cousins came to see me. Their mother was there, too, but I mostly played with my cousins. They were boys. I had a little fire engine with pedals. In an effort to impress my cousins, I jumped into my fire engine and pedaled hard down the sidewalk, mouth open wide as I screamed the siren song. Unfortunately, I choked on a fly.

When I was four we lived in a duplex on a busy street in Ventura, California. It was a long time ago, back when people didn't lock their doors as often as they do now. I overheard my parents talking about a poor little baby who lived next door. My imagination took over, even that long ago, and I decided that little baby needed to be rescued from his mean parents, and I was going to be the rescuer. So I waited outside on the front porch and peered through their screen door until I saw the baby crawling alone on the floor. I pulled open the screen door, raced into our neighbor's front room, grabbed the baby, turned back to run with the baby, and fell on him. He wasn't hurt, but can you imagine how my parents must have felt when I explained to the neighbors why I did what I did?

When I was in fourth grade I was still impulsive, and there were times when that impulsivity earned me public humiliation. I liked a guy in my class named Willy. I wasn't madly in love with him or anything, I just liked him. I was walking past his desk one day when, for no reason I could afterwards fathom, I leaned over, patted him on the cheek, asked how he was doing, and kissed him on the cheek. Willy turned red and ducked. The whole class, including the teacher, burst into laughter.

How about you? Have you ever done anything that your friends will never let you live down? Did you ever do anything so crazy and impulsive that you wonder if some UFO took over your mind for a few minutes one day? What's your most embarrassing moment? Think about your childhood today, and even if you don't come up with anything wildly memorable, I bet you'll have some fun reliving times from the past.

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Hannah Alexander  
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Thursday, October 27, 2011
I don't think I've told you guys yet, but maybe I have (chemo brain and all). My book, "Bittersweet Surrender" will release in e-form in December!!! Whoohooooo!!! This book takes place in a--are you ready for this--chocolate spa! How fun is that?!

Okay, enough shameless promotion. Now I want to ask you something. My earlier writings have bent toward the humorous--and I suppose all my work will have SOME humor, but the earlier work had more. Now I'm leaning toward a little more serious, heartwarming, that sort of thing.

My question to you is this, do you prefer a serious drama to a comedy or vice versa? I know I like novels that move my emotions, whether laughing, crying, or whatever. Sometimes I have to be in the mood for one or the other.

What about you?

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:44 AM  
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is my friend Kimberley and I at David Crowder, the first night of my so-called sabbatical.

I haven't written anything for a book in two weeks. I think this is the longest stretch I've had for at least fifteen years, and I'm learning how to be human again. Although last night at the Fallapallooza (our church's Fall festival) my boys worked, and I stuffed my head in a book most of the night.

I know that's not proper etiquette, and I did have some nice conversations, but mostly, I'm not sure how to be in the world again and I'm sort of greedy on my reading time. (My daughter is also at science camp, so life is quieter without her talking all the time.)

But I can see why vacations in America really aren't long enough. It takes a long time to come off of that high energy world in which we work. What's the most relaxed you've ever been on a vacation, and how long did it last?

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Monday, October 24, 2011

I've mentioned before I'm a picky reader. I don't like this fact, but there it is. So when I find an author I love, I don't want to miss her next release.

Combine this with my increasingly terrible memory, and I have a problem. There are about 20 authors whose next book I don't want to miss. I join authors' newsletters so they remind me. I start lists. I friend them on Facebook. But I still find myself missing releases because some of my favs are not NYT bestselling authors who have multiple ads in every magazine, and some of them don't even manage to get a newsletter out.

Add to this, there were about 288,000 new books published in 2009--that's 790 new titles every day. (A number that makes the author in me want to crawl under the covers.) I'm sure the number is even higher now with e-books, so the possibility of my favs getting lost in the shuffle is pretty high.

Please, there has to be a better a way to keep track. How do you make sure you don't miss your fav authors' next books?

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:30 AM  
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We had a mishap with my Kindle. My son borrowed it, and it came back wet and not working. He claimed innocence. (Big surprise!) But in reality, I forced it on him. All of the kids dislike the Kindle and would rather have a book. I don't know why that makes me feel giddy, but it does. However, we were on a deadline for this particular book and he had to buy on the Kindle. Which turned out to be unfortunate.

Amazon replaced the Kindle for $65 if I returned the old one. (It's yours!) All of my books were redownloaded, and it was like nothing ever happened. But right now, I'm reading the "REAL" book. "The Forgotten Garden" by an Australian author that a friend sent over. It's a family saga, and fabulous, but in my house, I really have nowhere to read. We have to utilize every inch of space, so where do you steal away to read?

Where do the rest of you read? Do you have a garden? A comfy chair in the living room? Do you like to go to the library?

In this book, the character loves to hide away in secret when she reads. Don't you love that imagery? I'd love your ideas!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I am going to write a children's story for my Punky. She'll be the main character in the story. I'm so excited about it! Thomas Nelson also would like me to write a middle grade series that ties in with one of my existing stories. So I got to thinking about my series. Here are a couple of options and I'd like your opinion.

My Rock Harbor series has Naomi and her family in it. Donovan had two children when they got married. Timmy and Emily. Emily is about the right age now for a middle grade book and she could have a mystery adventure series with Naomi's search dog Charley.

The other series possibility would be the Mercy Falls series. The first book has Brigitte and Doria in it. I'd thought about having them go into service at one of the Great Camps in the Adirondacks. Their mother had tuberculosis in that book.

So what do you think about all the possibilities? I'd love your opinion!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:33 AM  
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

When I first married, I found the grocery store crowd to be a world of its own. First of all, there were all these young, frazzled moms with toddlers pointing, begging, trantrumming. (Not a word, but it should be, right?)

Then there were the soccer moms with their lists and calculators, breaking up arguments between their coupon flipping.

You could tell the moms who left the kiddos home with hubby. They shopped S-L-O-W. And why not? This was their me-time. So it happened over cleaning products in aisle 11. You take what you can get. I understand this now.

The strangest to me, though, were the other ones. The older women who talked to themselves. When I encountered my first one, I thought she was talking to me. But when I answered, she turned with wide eyes. Oh, I thought. I guess she's just putting that question put out to the universe.

I was in the salad dressing aisle, searching for the pre-cooked bacon (because spaghetti carbonara is time-consuming enough without frying the bacon) when it happened to me. "Where is it, oh, please don't be out of it." The full sentence is out before I realize. I suck in my breath. I have become one of them. This can't be! I haven't even finished the soccer mom phase. "See? Here are my coupons!"

A young woman walks by. We make eye contact, and before she looks away, I see that look. The one that says,"Make a wide right. Crazy woman ahead."

"No," I want to say to her. "I'm not crazy! You'll be like me too, one day. You'll see."

I find the bacon pieces and toss the package in my cart. It's official. I have hit all the phases of the grocery life and landed, prematurely but inevitably, in the delusional, talking-to-self phase. The only thing to look forward to now is the motorized cart.


Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:40 PM  
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Friday, October 14, 2011

What on earth can this cat be thinking? Cats eat small animals. They are carnivores. My cats would have been fighting over these little darlings and had them swallowed in one gulp. Do you suppose this cat has already had a full meal?

Do you ever feel like this poor, patient cat? Do the tiny, often appealing, details distract you from your plans for the day? You need to get a couple of loads of laundry washed and dried and ready for three different people tomorrow, but first you need to eat breakfast, but first you see a dustball in the corner and even though no one else in the family will ever notice it, someone may stop by, and then what would they say? But then of course the window in the front door needs to be washed, as well, and you need to check the porch to make sure the neighbor's little boy didn't leave his skateboard on the steps again, or dear hubby could end up back in the ER.

So you but-first your way through the day until that laundry never got done, you didn't get to the pharmacy to pick up the refill before they closed, and you have nothing in mind for dinner tonight. Your front window looks great, and the dustballs are gone, but nobody ever comes to your house to visit, anyway. What were you thinking?

Please tell me I'm not the only one with the but-first syndrome. Please? I know the distractions are appealing, but really, I don't need them. I need to NOT have them. Girls, what do you do about them? Any thoughts? Or can you commiserate?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:18 AM  
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Thursday, October 13, 2011
Forgive the picture, but it's the only picture I had that seemed appropriate for my blog today.

I'm in need of a new book to read. I read fiction and non-fiction, so I'm open to either. I was hoping you all might suggest a good book. Got a favorite?

What are you currently reading? Or what would you read if you had the time? :-)

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:25 AM  
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Today, I'm turing in my novel, "Paris in the Rain." It was a bear to write. I had one vision. Others had another and we met in the middle, which sounds easier than it was. I'm a pretty linear writer, so when I start moving stuff around, Fall becomes Spring and I don't know what era I'm living inside today.

As I look around my house, I've put off a lot of things until I was done with the novel. A new roof (it's raining already!), new windows (ours have black mold and sweat in the cold) and just general homemaking skills. Have you ever taken too long to get to something (maybe a doctor about a cough?) and then, you're in far worse shape?

Prioritizing one's life is a very hard thing to do when everyone counts on you. The other day, i stopped writing my novel, though I had no time to go to see my friend visiting from Tiblisi, Georgia and then the final David Crowder Band concert. I was late turning in my stuff. I didn't meet my deadline, but I thought on my deathbed, will I feel worse I didn't see my friend who came across the world and my favorite band that I've followed since the beginning, or will I miss my deadline?

Neither one is a great feeling. You're always letting someone down, so how do you make your priorities?

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Good morning everyone. I’m Emily Rodmell, an associate editor with Love Inspired. I want to thank Cheryl for inviting me to come and share a great writing opportunity with you all. Cheryl was one of the first authors that I worked with 7 years ago when I started my career at Love Inspired as an assistant to her editor. Now I work with over 30 authors of my own, and I’m so glad that she and her husband Mel are now going to be writing for Love Inspired Historical. Love Inspired Historical is an inspirational historical romance line of books at Harlequin. We recently expanded our offerings from 2 books a month to 4 books a month. This expansion is good news for historical romance fans because it’s allowed us to take on new time periods and settings that we didn’t have room for before. It’s also great news for writers because we need double the amount of books than we did before.
So I’m here today to get the word out. If you’ve got a historical romance novel you’ve been dying to write, we’d love to see it. While some publishers are cutting back, we’re actively looking for both published and unpublished historical romance authors to join the ranks. We’re open to any setting or any time period prior to World War II. I especially enjoy out of the ordinary stories and settings. When I read the first chapter of Lacy Williams’ Marrying Miss Marshal in the Genesis contest and saw that the heroine was a town marshal in the Old West, I was hooked. It offered an unusual story with a woman in a unique job, and we’re happy to have it in the lineup. Some of my colleagues have bought books with female pilots in the war, missionaries in Africa and even a French Revolution story. And we still love the classics such as Westerns and Regencies, as well.
Submitting is easy. Check out our guidelines at , and send something my way at 233 Broadway, Ste. 1001 NY, NY 10279. Or have your agent email me your submission. For published authors, we only require a proposal (synopsis and three chapters). For unpublished authors, we ask that you submit a query or proposal, but have a full manuscript ready to send in should we request it. If you have any questions at all about writing for Love Inspired Historical, feel free to ask. If you miss me today, you can also find me on Twitter @EmilyRodmell or on the Harlequin message boards, where I regularly answer questions: .

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Hannah Alexander  
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We've talked before about what gets us in the mood to write, whether it be grabbing our two pound bag of M&Ms, mocha, or taking a walk in the woods, we do what we have to do to get our muse going.

Here's what I want to know. When you are writing a story, what do you do to get IN the story? For instance, I'm writing a story set in Vermont in December. So I'm listening to Christmas music (ha! you KNEW I'd fit that in), looking at winter scenes every day before I write, and chewing on ice chips. This all makes me cold--and makes me feel like I'm in Vermont in December. (By the way, this is an older picture of my grandson, but his festive cheer helps me with my story.) :-)

So how about you? Do you do anything to get yourself inside the story so you can see what your heroine sees, smells, touches, hears, tastes? Maybe you listen to music of that timeframe. Look at pictures in your setting. Grab your heroine's favorite coffee and enjoy with her?

Come on, share! It's fun!
Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:02 AM  
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Wednesday, October 05, 2011
This is writing week, and as such I'm supposed to talk about writing. But I'm going to warn you. I have a massive migraine today. Starbucks is closed. My kids are off of school for a nearby shooting, and we're on lockdown in the house while they search for the suspect. So my brain is not exactly writing-related.

But that's my point. There is NEVER a good time to write. I hear all the time about how people are going to someday write a book. That's not how it happens. You just write. There will never be a good time to write a book. Ever. It's never convenient to sit down in front of a computer and start typing your story. Something will always come up. Other people's priorities will always try to take over. (Especially if you're a parent!)

I took the week off to finish my book so that I could work "free and clear" without the voices in my head. But naturally, the Enemy of writing comes against me. It may be Supernatural. It may just be annoying, but the point is, you have to sit down and do it. No one can write the book for you. No one gets to be called an "author" by saying someday they'll write a book. Sit down and do it.

If I can do it, ANYONE can do it. And I mean that. I'm a single mother during the week. I have four kids, two with special issues...there are four soccer teams between them, three schools, lots of homework, dance class, DMV visits and doctor/dentist/orthodontist trips. Get busy. You could have written three hundred words by now!
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Monday, October 03, 2011

I just got back from our fabulous American Christian Fiction Writers conference where I got to see my peeps. Ami McConnell (on the right) taught an AMAZING class on loving your reader. It was a terrific reminder to respect and think about my reader and how she/he is affected by my books.

Erin Healy (on the left) along with my agent, Karen Solem, have taught me so much about building layers in a story. I know in a few weeks I'm going to get some great direction from both of them on Tidewater Inn. I can't wait! You all know how I love the editing process!

Good layers are often the key to making an editor sit up and take notice. So much of the time, stories that hit the editor’s desk are so similar. Romance especially can be tough to make fresh. But it’s all in the layers.

Here are the layers I work on with every story:

1. Setting is huge for me. A character who lives in Boston is very different from one who lives in the Outer Banks. The culture that shaped him/her is different too. Think about where your characters are. Read newspapers from that area and see if you can find a plot layer in what is going on currently there. Is there a culture group that’s strong there? In my Rock Harbor books, the Finnish culture had a huge role and was fun to layer in. The Lonestar series is set on a ranch in Texas that rescues abused horses and matches them with abused children. That idea gripped me by the throat, and that’s what you want your idea to do.

2. Character types. Take a look at character types and pit different types against one another to play off weaknesses and pet peeves. This can add a really great layer of conflict that’s ongoing. Maybe your female lead loves the wilderness and the hero’s idea of a great vacation is a cruise where everything is served to him. Maybe your heroine makes gourmet chocolates and the hero breaks out in hives from the aroma on her clothing. You get the picture!

3. Can you give your protagonist an obsession? That can really springboard you to plot ideas as she pursues it. This is often where to layer in your theme. In Lonestar Angel, due out in a few weeks, Eden and Clay are driven to find out if one of the five little girls at Bluebird Ranch is the daughter they thought drowned in a kidnapping gone wrong.

4. Interesting occupation. This leads me to story ideas all the time. I’ve written about a SAR dog team, a dolphin researcher, a smokejumper, an antique quilt expert, and an old time telephone operator at the turn of the century.

5. Think of plot layers that are problems for your main characters. Try to come up with at least three. For example, in Lonestar Angel, Eden is fighting off whoever lured them to the ranch, she's trying to figure out which child is Brianna, and she's dealing with her mother coming back into her life. Keep piling on the problems! Torture your poor character. The problem with many manuscripts I see is that there isn’t enough conflict and it isn’t varied enough. It’s not enough to have just ONE conflict.

Layers will life your book out of the rejected pile. They will add depth and interest to your characters and your plot. If you’ve already written the book, it’s still not too late to tear into it and make it something special. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch and add the things that need to be there.

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:58 PM  
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Today author Ann Tatlock shares her all-too-familiar description of the evolution of a novel. I hope you enjoy this peek inside the not-so-happily-ever-after relationship of authors and their novels!
Meeting – I'm not even looking for him. But out of nowhere, there he is. At the very moment our eyes meet we know we are meant for each other. He is The Perfect Idea! I'm in love!

Courting – He is the most fascinating man I've ever known. Not like the others. No, not at all like so many others who have let me down. As I get to know him—researching everything about him--I grow to love him even more. He will be the ideal husband. Everyone will think so. 

Marriage – We sign the contract and it's official. We are legally wed! I'm looking forward to the happily-ever-after.

Married life – The honeymoon is exciting, exhilarating! And then, all too soon, we fall into the day-to-day routine of filling in the pages of our life together. Then I begin to see his faults. He refuses to do what I ask him to do. He breaks his promises. He changes his mind. We begin to quarrel. We have shouting matches. I am thoroughly disillusioned! I—normally a peaceable and gentle soul—begin to entertain murderous thoughts. 

Marriage counseling – Off he goes to the psychologist. Maybe as a professional editor she can clean up his faults and turn him into a decent human being.

Attempt at reconciliation – We must both work hard at it, she says. I will make all the changes she requires for reconciliation. I can't speak for him, but I'll do my part.

Assessment – She says he's wonderful now! So much improved! Such a good, intriguing, memorable fellow! Yes, but I know better.

Divorce proceedings – He comes back to me all dressed up in his best suit and tie. Looking sharp on the outside, now that he's in galley form. Oh, I want to love him! I will give him one more chance. But it's no use. He turns my stomach. Embarrasses me. What a weakling. I continue to see all his faults. I don't think he tried very hard to change. How different he is from what he appeared to be at our first meeting. Charlatan!

Divorce – I put him in the Fed Ex envelope and kick him out the door! Don't come back! I never want to see you again! 

Shared Custody – But alas, we have children. They are called readers. And to my surprise, some of them like him. Of course, I must say nice things about him, never putting him down in front of the children. It wouldn't be fair if I did. So I bite my tongue and don't tell them what a scoundrel he is. I don't tell them how he has disappointed me. And of course not a word about the abuse, how he tormented me day and night until I finally said "Enough!"

He gets on with his life without me – What's this? Even some of the meanest people in the world—the professional critics—like him? Are saying nice things about him? Think he's actually a good guy? Yeah, well, they don't know him like I do. Go ahead, then, let them fawn all over you. Accept that award and those accolades, as though you deserve them! Just don't forget, I know better. I know who you might have been and who you really are and how far short you fall from the one who came to me as The Perfect Idea.

Truce - All right, I'm willing to concede that maybe you have some level of merit. After all, nobody's completely bad. I can see you've done something good for somebody. And yes, there must have been a reason I fell in love with you in the first place, other than the fact that I'm a total fool.

A fresh start - But, whoever you are and whatever you do, it no longer matters to me because….I'm already in love with somebody else! He is in fact The Perfect Idea! I'm certain this time. Without question, he is the one. He is going to be the love of my life….
--Ann Tatlock

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Denise Hunter  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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