Girls Write Out
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I've worked with you enough in the past that I know I can count on you to give me--actually, Mel and me--some excellent ideas about what to do next. You see, he's planning to go into private practice. It's a scary decision, and we won't have an employer to cover us with benefits and health insurance, so he's waiting until we can plan this all out and make sure we can have a viable practice.

We have a wonderful assistant right now, who would work with Mel temporarily to get the office set up. I want her back, and I know she's not crazy about working full time with the public, so she'll be in charge of hiring, setting up the office, managing employees, and then she'll return to me here at the house. Our office would be downtown right here in our own city of 1300. We are, of course, hoping for more people to hear about Mel from other surrounding towns and discover his kind bedside manner, his natural ability to diagnose, and his calm demeanor in stressful situations. After all, he's been working as an ER doc for over 20 years. Now he's ready to be his own boss and call the shots.

I may be dreaming here, because I'm his doting wife, but I expect to see a lot of patients from out of town come to see him with difficult diagnoses. That's what I believe he's best at. Did you ever watch House on television? Well, Mel wants to be like him, only much kinder, and he actually wants to be right and not kill the patients the way he believes they kill their patients on TV every week. We may even have the full-time assistant in mind who would be able to help him. We already have my webmaster sitting on the sidelines, possibly waiting to come back and work for us on the computerized system, as well as helping clear things out at the end of the day, wash clothing, make sure everything is sparkling clean. I haven't convinced him, yet, but we're working on it. A nurse would be necessary, and Mel likes mature nurses who already know what they're doing and don't get upset or stressed. We even have a good friend who is a nurse practitioner who has worked with Mel in the past and wants to work with him again. That part, we have covered.

But we're wondering about our patients. If you are looking for a new family doctor, what are you looking for? We will have a pharmacy across the street, a bank across another street, and a grocery store just down from the bank. We haven't decided how much to charge. Eventually, that would depend on how much time is needed, but at first, Mel wants to take plenty of time to get to know his new patients. He loves to listen. He plans to make a list of medical treatments offered, but we'd like to know what patients might want. You will need a listening ear, so he can catch something that you may not have caught as you've sought answers to pain or illness. He listens. You will want time, and that's what he loves to do--spend time with his patients. If you were to have unbroken time with an experienced ER doc who has seen it all,  how much time do you feel you would need? Mel especially loves working with children and elderly, so the whole family can come see him. As for cost? We're talking anything between 50.00 per visit to 75.00 to visit, depending on time and difficulty. He would be open to reading thick files if you've been to multiple docs without answers, and he would charge by the hour. He loves to place puzzle pieces where they belong.

Any ideas? Our computer would print out a superbill that you will be able to turn in to your insurance company for reimbursement. Our own family doc has offered his help to get Mel set up. Our local pharmacist has offered to sit down and discuss how they could handle certain situations. We're getting our balls in a row. Tell me, what would you want in a perfect doctor?


Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:59 PM  
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Thursday, June 21, 2012
The written word is a beautiful thing.  I love it in all its forms, though I still prefer a good, old-fashioned book.  I used to avoid buying any non-fiction books on my Kindle, but then I relented and was excited to see that all my notes were safely tucked away on the Kindle site.  What a lovely surprise!  (And thanks to computer guru Robin Lee Hatcher for helping me figure it out!)  I thought I had to open the book on the Kindle and search for them.

I'm currently reading "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf on my Kindle, and I have to say, I'm going to buy the book form.  While I'm reading slowly and savoring each word of it, there's something about the book that begs to be read in hard copy format.  If you have a reader, do you still do both?

I feel the same about a beach read, I suppose -- that it's best enjoyed with sand in the pages.  And if you're looking for one this summer, I hope you'll leave a comment to win a copy of "Perfectly Ridiculous" -- the last episode in Daisy Crispin's adventures in high school.  Don't feel you need to be in high school to read it, Daisy heads to Buenos Aires, Argentina so if you can't get away this summer, follow Daisy for  your own break!


Kristin  
posted at 11:07 AM  
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm celebrating 10 years at Thomas Nelson this week, and my terrific team presented me with the Key to the Company this morning. Sooo exciting! When I got up on stage with Ami, I choked up at how good they have been to me and what an exciting time these years have been. I've learned so much from them, and especially from Ami. 

Here's what these 10 years have taught me about longevity with one house and building a relationship with your team.

IMG 0687Be eager to accept your editors ideas for ways that will make your book better. Hold your book lightly. The project is a team effort. It's not just your baby. You are often too close to the work to see it clearly. Trust your editor/s.

Keep a close eye on the market and be nimble if you need to tweak your brand. My brand started out more 75% mystery and 25% romance but as Ami and I looked at sales and at what my readers wanted, we shifted my brand a bit to 60% romance and 40% mystery/suspense.

Vow to partner with your publishing house. Never think they are your adversary. Make sure you are not high maintenance. When you send emails, make sure they are encouraging and uplifting and not complaining. Make sure when your friends at your publishing house see your name pop up in their inbox, they WANT to read what you have to say. Don't be an author who makes them take a deep breath and cringe before they read the email.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Talk through problems with your team but don't raise a ruckus about things that don't matter. Don't take business decisions as personal slights. Demanding your way is the wrong move most of the time. You all have the same goal--to get your books into the hands of your readers. Communication works all the time. 

Stay abreast of what's happening in the market so you can discuss things intelligently with your publishing house. 

Do talk about ideas with your marketing and publicity team. But then leave the decisions up to them. Do your part but make sure your team knows what you're doing and agrees with it. They can save you money and effort if they've tried something that doesn't work. 

Be grateful for what your team does for you. Thank them. Send them a card or candy when they do something special like sell. 

I'm sure there are more things, but I'm too excited to think of them right now. LOL They also gave me a Pandora charm that looks like a house which represents Thomas Nelson. Love it! I happened to bring my Pandora bracelet with me so I got to put it on right away!

It's been a very exciting morning! I'm so blessed to get to work with the best group of people in the world. In case you can't read the inscription, it reads In Celebration of 10 Years. Colleen Coble bestselling author and Treasured Friend (my favorite part!) June 2012 Thomas Nelson Inc.

I'm a lucky girl!

 

 

 

 

Colleen Coble  
posted at 12:28 PM  
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Friday, June 15, 2012
I had the perfect photo to insert here, but for some reason this program and I are not speaking again. So you won't get the cute picture. I'm so disappointed, because you would have loved it. Two of my favorite boys are featured in it, my husband first of all, of course, and one of our four cats, Data. So let that, and my title, serve as a warning of what's to come:

I've never been the best of housekeepers. I was so happy when our assistant took over many of those duties, and I know Mel's been secretly relieved, but she was gone last night when I finally rounded up the cats and got them into the basement. I have to keep the cats separated when they eat, because one of them has to have special diet because of her delicate composition and my delicate nose. When I checked them on my way to bed last night, I discovered that some of the regular food hadn't been eaten. Instead of sticking it into the laundry room downstairs and closing the door, for some reason I took it upstairs to the kitchen and set it on the counter so I could give it to them for breakfast in the morning. It's canned food, but our house stays cool.

Mel just happened to work last night, so he arrived home around 7 am. He has known for quite some time that I have a habit of cooking weird things late at night. We call it Ambien munchies. Yes, I'm trying to stop doing that, because it could be dangerous. Still, he saw the food on the plate on the counter when he came through the kitchen door, and thought maybe I'd concocted another one of my Ambien delicacies. One pinch of the soft food touched his tongue. I didn't hear the scream, because I was sleeping peacefully far down the hallway. I didn't hear the water running or hear him gargling or spitting. I was blissfully unaware of the whole thing until he brought up the subject this afternoon.

"Sweetheart," he said. "Today I ate something I've never eaten before."

"Oh, really? What was that, honey?" He knows I love to try new things.

"You know that stuff you left on the counter last night?"

I paused to think, and then I gasped.

Bonnie was in the other room working, but she heard him. "Hey, I saw that and wondered what it was, but I wasn't crazy enough to try to find out."

I looked at Mel. "You ate the cat food?"

"It looked like chocolate."

"You ATE the cat food?" I asked again, to the sound of Bonnie's insane laughter in the other room.

"Let's just say I tasted it."

I am constantly reminded that I'm blessed with a patient and loving husband with a fabulous sense of humor. I thank God for that, especially today.

Your turn. Have you ever done anything most embarrassing, funny, crazy or even a little gross? Care to share?



Hannah Alexander  
posted at 12:46 AM  
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
There are times in life, when no matter how many times you get back up, something knocks you back down again.  Going through these times is really trying on faith.  Not because we don't believe, but because when you're living "right" -- we want to believe we'll be rewarded.

That is not always the case.  It's not Biblical either, but we know our God is just, and sometimes, life is anything but fair.  I've noticed Christians who feel oblivious to the kind of pain others suffer, as though it's some fault of their own.  Trust me, if there was anyway they could fix their luck, they WOULD.

Sometimes, God has us go through trying times that feel deathly harsh, as though we'll never come out of the darkness.  These are the times, we have to force ourselves to find the joy and the beauty around us because life feels empty.  During those times, when you want to ask God why?, what makes you joyful?

As we've watched one of our own suffer, I honestly can't believe how she worries for others.  How her eyes are never on herself. And that's one of my joy inspirations. I can be stronger because she is stronger.

My daughter, who didn't walk or talk until much later. Whose had to overcome so much in her short life, I thought she'd never be here -- on her way to Jr. High School.  What she's overcome makes me want to weep with joy.  How about you?




Kristin  
posted at 6:51 PM  
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I know you all love Diann as much as we do. Her health is doing great, and we are all so thankful! But she lost her mom three weeks ago, then another horrible tragedy struck yesterday. Di's sister Sheila died very suddenly. Diann is devastated as you can imagine. Please, please lift her up in your prayers and ask God for his unfailing mercy and comfort. Nothing else can help in the face of this pain.

Thank you so much for your prayers! I know we can count on you.

Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:48 PM  
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We're putting in some landscaping in a few weeks, as soon as our porch redo is completed. I'm the world's worst gardener. I am terrified of spiders, and you know what we find in gardens, right? Spiders. But I know the new plants are going to need some tending, even though we asked for low maintenance ones. I'm getting a Japanese maple and (drum roll please) TWO, count 'em, TWO PMJ rhododendrons. I adore rhododendrons and azaleas, but every single one I've ever had has died. We're having the nursery do the planting though, and they guarantee the plants for two years when they do the work. 

I'm getting day lilies and lots of roses too. Since we have a Victorian home, the designer tried to pick plants that would go with the high foundation and old architecture of the house. I'm excited to see it all done, but a little nervous too. I'm going to have to take care of those thing. But isn't that what growth is all about? Confronting your fears and learning new skills? So I'm going to try to look at the garden as a new challenge. I can do this, right? Those spiders are way smaller than me. They should not cause such abject terror. 

But I need advice. Are there any tools that are especially helpful when gardening? I'm old, remember. I wondered if there was something i could scoot around on-plus it might help me zoom out of the way of a wolf spider! Shudder. I don't suppose anyone knows of a spider repellent? :)  I know there are plenty of avid gardeners out there. Give me some advice! 

Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:44 AM  
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Sunday, June 10, 2012
I know I'm in good company when I say I love to read. Give me a good book and a few free hours, and I'm one happy woman. I couldn't guess how many books I've read, but I'm sure the number's in the thousands. You too?

Lately I've been thinking that all that reading, all that time spent in characters' points of view must have benefits beyond a few hours well spent.

I'm not talking about the spiritual benefit of Christian fiction--though I've certainly experienced that. Rather I'm wondering if voracious fiction reading improves certain life skills, especially relational skills. I haven't done any studies, this is just something I see developing in my own life, and it has me wondering.

Do you think reading can make you more compassionate? More intuitive? More reflective? Better at decision making? Have you noticed any changes in yourself that you attribute to hours of novel reading?
Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:21 PM  
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Thursday, June 07, 2012
Smitten CoverWe girls are so excited! Smitten is on the Barnes and Noble blog! It's a big deal for a Christian book to be on the blog, and it's actually the first ever Thomas Nelson title, company wide, to be on the blog!
Thomas Nelson is doing a special promotion with Barnes and Noble to introduce Smitten (and us!) to new readers. The stories in Smitten have been split into novellas so a reader can sample a particular author, then decide to read the whole book. We hope they'll be hooked with one taste! The Nook price is only $1.99 per story so a reader can get the entire book for less than $8. And they're only committing $1.99 to read one and decide for themselves.
So pass the word along. We want Barnes and Noble to be glad they chose us!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 3:36 PM  
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Wednesday, June 06, 2012
There is always an excuse to not write.  Sitting down and allowing your imagination to work takes being still.  And in this day and age, being still is not easy since we all want to accomplish so much.  Writing a book takes commitment or you will never get to the end. If you don't get to the end, all  you have is a dream.  Making it happen takes drive and time in the chair.

Here are some ideas to make it happen for you:

1. First, decide if you're a plotter or a pantser.  Do you want to plot out your novel?  Or do your characters speak to you and tell you where to go?  That's the first step.

If you're a plotter, you need to sit down and plot the entire book.  Go ahead, you can fix it if it doesn't work, but this will tells you what your protagonist wants and what's he/she's up against.

If you're a pantser, you need to decide who your character is.  What does she want more than anything in this world?  What gets in her way?  How will she overcome it?

If you're either, write a one-liner that tells you what your book is about.  You can fix it later.  You're not married to it.

2. Next:  Set a word count.  On a good day, how many words can you get to screen?  Know your rate, and commit to an amount per week.  If you can write 2,000 on a good day, commit to 10k for the week.  That way, if you're short one day, you can write a little extra.  The important thing is that you keep going no matter what.  Life will always get in the way.  Maybe you'll have to get up earlier.  Maybe you'll have to take a pad and paper in the car while you're waiting at the dentist.  Whatever you do, COMMIT to that word count.

3. Write that word count even if you don't have anything to say in that chapter.  Because you know what?  The best way to know what to write?  Is to know well, that wasn't it.  Trust me, fixing something and even ripping it out is better than having nothing to fix.

4. Get a writing buddy:  Find a friend to challenge to say, 1,000 words in an hour.  You'll be working at the same time, and the competition will ignite you.

5. Get a kitchen timer.  Set it for fifteen to twenty minutes.  Maybe thirty if you're feeling really creative.  Do NOT do anything but writing until that timer goes off.  No email.  No phone calls.  No laundry changeover.  You are writing!

6.   Guard your time.  No writer can do it all.  Say no when you need to.  Take your dream seriously.  Go on, get busy.
Kristin  
posted at 5:49 PM  
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Monday, June 04, 2012
IMG 0654I

I've written over 40 stories now, and it surprises me to realize that until the last year, I didn't necessarily know just how to figure out what matters in the story. I usually had an interesting idea that I wanted to explore. I knew I wanted conflict and action as well as mystery and romance. But about a year and a half ago, I was brainstorming with the fiction team in the big conference room before I spoke at sales conference

Eric Mullett (marketing manager in this picture who is sharing my passion for coffee with me) pulled out a big white board and said, "Okay, what are the top three elements of a Colleen Coble novel?"
My team started throwing out words and a little while later we had the clearest, most empowering statement of my brand that I'd ever seen. Writing has gotten easier since I understood, REALLY understood, what it is I'm writing. And in that same meeting, my editor, Ami McConnell, challenged me to juxtaposition vice and virtue. Those two elements have transformed my writing ever since.

Tidewater Inn is the first of the books written with these things so clearly in mind. Libby is learning about the virtue of generosity even as the villain is slowly but surely being transformed by the power of greed. Writing that book changed me as well. It made me dig deeper into story than ever before. It made me think about virtue in my own life and how easily sin can lead us astray one little step at a time. And it made STORY more fun for me than it ever has been.

And I got a great endorsement from Karen White: Tidewater Inn is a story as hot and sultry as its Outer Banks setting.  Old architecture, a missing woman, a sudden inheritance, and a great mystery with unexpected twists make this a hard-to-put-down book.  The characters' faith and their relationships aren't eclipsed by the riveting plot, but instead complement each other to make this a fun and compelling read.


So as we discuss writing topics this week, I want you to take a look at yourself and what you write. Toss out lots of words and phrases about what you do, then drill down to the three that matter most. Think about your story. What really matters in that book? Who is being transformed--and by what? Can you illustrate the theme of your book in even better ways by contrasting it with something else? Can you turn your plot on its head by looking at it from a different direction?

And after you've thought about it a bit, I'd love it if you'd share your brand and what you've discovered about story. I'll go first. Here are the three words that characterize a Colleen Coble novel: redeeming the past, overcomer, and hope.

And as I wrote Tidewater Inn I discovered the power of generosity. We all know perfectly well that we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out, yet how many of us live that way? How many of us are easily seduced by things that don't really matter? That new TV, that new Apple computer (pointing the finger back at me here) or other earthly things. I'm not saying buying things for ourselves is wrong, but our first thought should always be HOW CAN I HELP OTHERS with this little bit I have? I loved learning that lesson so deeply through the writing of Tidewater Inn.


 I'll be eager to see what you think and if you see a difference in this new book!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:43 PM  
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Friday, June 01, 2012
We finally did it! Mel and I took a vacation, including sun, sand--lots of sand--beach, of course, and salt water up our noses and other orifices, sand in our ears, lots of screaming and laughter and hideous pictures of me that I can't convince Mel to delete from his underwater camera. It was an absolute delight hitting those waves every evening after the sun had lost most of its power.

Here's where the stewardship comes in, though: we didn't plan the way we should have. I mean, I love to drive to our destination, especially when we're not too far away. I hate flying. But when you have ten days to enjoy yourself and relax into a different frame of mind, don't you think you would want to spend as much time as possible at the beach, which is your main destination? But no, not me. I hate to fly, and I was positive we could drive at my usual speed and reach our chosen beach in a day and a half. It took three days. I thought we could at least gain an hour going back, especially since we took the main interstate highways back home. No. Our trip to the beach took three days. We had four full days of hitting the waves and laughing and cuddling in our warm room at night, eating out, sharing with a friend who spent the night. Then we had three days to travel back--just in time for Mel to change into his scrubs and hit the ER doors.

What is wrong with this picture? Just because I hate flying, does that give me the right to deprive Mel of still more days on the beach? No, it does not. So on our next vacation, if Mel's employer agrees, we're taking ten days and we're flying. There's a place we've never been to on Myrtle Beach, and it's a part of our timeshare, right there on the beach. I'm looking up flight info now. No more of this depriving my man of more time on the surf, rescuing me as the waves catch me and roll me over and over until I can't catch a breath and don't know which way is up. I'm sure Mel enjoys proving his masculine strength and he-man nature at times like this, when he can show his love for his wife by rescuing her over and over and over again. And I can show my love for him by slathering him with sunblock when he goes snorkeling.

Ah...the beach. Vacation. Wise use of time. We're going to have it all next time. I don't suppose anyone has any super traveling tricks that will help us be more efficient in our packing and traveling next time...?

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 12:43 AM  
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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.

www.KristinBillerbeck.com

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.

www.ColleenCoble.com

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.

www.DeniseHunterBooks.com

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.

www.DiannHunt.com

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.

www.HannahAlexander.com

 
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