Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Successful or Significant?

Sunday morning at the ACFW Conference, literary agent Chip MacGregor shared a devotion after breakfast. I'm going to give a very bare-bones, doesn't-do-it-justice paraphrase here, but basically, he asked... do you want to be successful or significant?

It's a question that struck a chord with me, and something I've been pondering ever since. In the publishing industry, success can be boiled down to some very basic, quantifiable facts. How many books did you sell? Did you earn out your advance? Do you have another book contracted?

Significance is a little harder to pin down. What touches one person may mean nothing to another. But ultimately, it's those times when our work strikes a chord in someone that makes it significant.

During a rare time between running from this to that, I was sitting with a friend and talking about what kind of stories we write. For the first time, I acknowledged a common thread running through all of mine: identity. In The Pastor's Wife, I wrote about a woman who tried so hard to live up to the expectations of others that she lost track of who God meant for her to be. In The Mother Road (which comes out in April 2012), a marriage expert is thrown for a loop when her husband tells her he wants a divorce, making her doubt everything she thought was true about herself. Obviously, identity is a topic I'm passionate about. And I believe it's significant.

When I started my blog, The Pastor's Wife Speaks, I did it with the goal of supporting women who live on the front lines of ministry... women who sometimes struggle to separate their true selves from the expectations others have for them. When I told someone (who shall remain nameless) about the plan, I was asked this question, "How are you going to make any money from that?"

I understand the reasoning behind the question. Starting up and maintaining a new blog is a lot of work, and most people won't put that much work into something without an expectation of financial return. But the blog isn't about success for me... it's about creating something with significance. I knew I was on the right track when I got an email saying, "I'm so thankful for today's post. I thought I was the only one who felt that way."

How about you? Besides raising your kids (because let's face it, that's the first thing most of us women think of, and rightly so), what's the most significant thing you've been a part of?

In the above picture: Four significant women... Bonnie Calhoun, Anita Mae Draper, Lisa Richardson, and Jen AlLee

Monday, September 27, 2010

This Week... 2010 ACFW Conference Memories

Last week was the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. I spent five glorious days in Indianapolis, surrounded by writers, editors, agents... in other words, people who are just as sick and twisted as I am. People who don't think it's weird to talk to yourself in different dialects, to plot out murders while wandering the aisles at the supermarket, or to take notes in church not about the sermon, but because you just had a breakthrough on your character's motivation. Yes, it was a little slice of heaven!

This week, I'm going to share some conference pictures and thoughts. Hope you enjoy the trip as much as I did!

My pal Lisa and I walked down the street to a TJ Max.
For some reason, the name "YUMNUTS" just struck me funny and I had to take a picture.

More to come...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CFBA Presents IN EVERY HEARTBEAT by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
In Every Heartbeat
(Bethany House - September 1, 2010)
Kim Vogel Sawyer


Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.


As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a cherished dream.

Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible.

But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well. And when Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

If you would like to read the first chapter of In Every Heartbeat, go HERE.


Having spent most of last week either preparing for or attending the annual ACFW Conference, I find myself way behind on things. Sadly, I've only just started reading In Every Heartbeat, so I can't share many thoughts about it. I will say that it starts off with the promise of being a great read. Of course, I would expect nothing less from the lovely and talented Kim Vogel Sawyer. If you've read it, why don't you share your thoughts with everybody. We'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It Happened Again

Back in May, I wrote a post about artistic coincidences... those times when two people will accidentally write scarily similar story lines. Or when life imitates art long after the art has been created. If you read that post, you know it's happened to me before.

Well, it happened again.

Back in June, I wrote down a story idea in the notebook I keep by my bed. It was something I thought was fresh and engaging. Flash forward to yesterday evening when I'm watching the news and what do I hear? You got it. My story.

Of course, it wasn't the whole thing. But the basic inciting incident, the thing that sets the whole story in motion, was almost identical to what I scribbled out three months ago. Now, that doesn't mean I can't use it. In fact, it might even work for me. You know how popular those "ripped from the headlines" stories are. But I'm still pretty amazed by the whole thing.

How about you? Have you experienced any stranger-than-fiction moments lately?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blogging Here and Blogging There

Obviously, I have not been very good about keeping up this blog lately! But it's not that I haven't been blogging... I've just been in other places.

So if you want to see what I've been up to, you can check out my posts at Inkwell Inspirations. Most recently I've written about positive thinking and why fiction is so important.

Or, you can go to the place that's really been occupying most of my time: The Pastor's Wife Speaks. It's a new blog I started for women in ministry. (And if you've got an article or devotion you'd like to submit to TPWS, please get in touch with me.)

As for this blog... I hope to do better. Let's see how that goes :+}

Friday, September 3, 2010

Just for Fun - Smells Like Rockin' Robin Mashup

My friends Nate and Cora clued me into this video. It's a pretty amazing mashup of two songs you'd never expect to go together: Rockin' Robin by the Jackson 5 and Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvanna. Warning... once you hear it, it's going to stay in your head for awhile. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Releases in Christian Fiction - September 2010

Looking for something to read? Here's the latest crop of fresh Christian fiction from my fellow ACFW members...

1. Across the Cotton Fields; Mississippi Brides, book 1 by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver-- Romance from Barbour.
Alexandra Lewis must find a husband before a family scandal follows her to Mississippi, but where does God fit into her plans?

2. A Door County Christmas; The Heart's Harbor by Cynthia Ruchti, Ride With Me Into Christmas by Rachael Phillips, My Heart Still Beats by Eileen Key, and Christmas Crazy by Becky Melby
A collection of four Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. A Door County innkeeper guarantees four single women that her Christmas cactus gifts˜and love˜will bloom by Christmas. As December nears, will barren plants and romances blossom into holiday joy?

3. A Hope Undaunted; Winds of Change series, book 1 by Julie Lessman -- A romance from Revell.
While on a summer law internship, a sassy and modern woman of the Roaring 20s butts heads with her lawyer boss, a stubborn pest from her past.

4. A Memory Between Us; Wings of Glory, Book 2 by Sarah Sundin -- An historical from Revell.
During World War II, B-17 pilot Maj. Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge - until he meets Lt. Ruth Doherty, a striking nurse with a shameful secret.

5. A Prairie Christmas Collection by Deborah Raney, Tracie Peterson, Tracey V. Bateman, and six others -- A collection of nine Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour.
An instant holiday treasure, this fiction collection is penned by nine multi-published authors. Each novella promises a sweet Christian romance on the historical American Great Plains.

6. A Riverwalk Christmas by Elizabeth Goddard, Martha Rogers, Lynette Sowell and Kathleen Y'Barbo-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour.
Four young women find love in the most unexpected places at Christmas.

7. A Very Private Grave; #1 The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Kregel.
A new policeman must protect a young social worker from big-city gangs making their evil way down south. Felicity thinks she knows everything, until a brutal murder teaches her she doesn't know anything.

8. A Woodland Christmas by Janelle Mowery, Tamela Hancock Murray, Darlene Franklin and Ramona Cecil-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour.
Experience a nostalgic Christmas in the Piney Woods of East Texas where a traveling wood-carver dispenses wisdom that brings four couples to realize the gift of love.

9. Alpha Redemption by P.A. Baines -- A Science Fiction/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown Books.
In man's pursuit of knowledge, artificial intelligence was created. In the pursuit of love, artificial intelligence found God.

10. Baby Makes A Match; Love Inspired/Chatam House Series by Arlene James -- A Romance from Steeple Hill.
A rodeo cowboy rescues a stranded pregnant girl and with the help of three matchmaking aunties….well what else do you need?

11. Christmas Mail Order Brides by Vickie McDonough, Susan Page Davis, Therese Stenzel and Carrie Turansky
A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Ride the transcontinental railroad as marriage arrives by mail-order-and just in time for Christmas.

12. Finding Becky; Book 3 Winds Across the Prairie by Martha Rogers -- An Historical from Realms/Strang.
Rebecca comes home with a new attitude, but Rob wants to find the Becky he's loved since their youth.

13. Formula for Danger by Camy Tang -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Love Inspired Suspense.
Dermatologist researcher Rachel Grant is pursued by an enemy trying to take her latest research and her life.

14. Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer -- A Romance from Bethany House.
When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart isn't the only thing in danger.

15. High-Stakes Inheritance by Susan Sleeman -- A Romance from Steeple Hill.
Claiming an inheritance turns deadly when Mia Blackburn returns to her hometown.

16. In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- An Historical from Bethany House.
Claiming an inheritance turns deadly when Mia Blackburn returns to her hometown.Three best friends, three cherished dreams, three searching hearts...

17. Judgement Day by Wanda Dyson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Random House/Waterbrook.
One reporter's love of sensationalism leads to a horrifying story and someone willing to kill her to keep her quiet.

18. Lily and the Lawman; Idaho Brides, Book Two by Erica Vetsch -- An Historical from Barbour.
A wary woman has no choice but to join forces with a local lawman to rescue her kidnapped niece.

19. Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Anita Higman and Irene Brand-- A Romance from Summerside Press.
Two heartwarming stories of Christmas past and present.

20. Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter -- A Romance from Barbour.
Will the anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life, and when tragedy befalls her yet again, will the mysterious gift giver be there to support her?

21. Making Waves; CHAIM series, Book Four by Lorna Seilstad -- An Historical from Revell.
After Mr. Boring presses for an engagement, a witting debutante meets an intriguing sailing instructor who is everything her hum drum suitor is not.

22. McKenzie; Montana Skies Series by Penny Zeller -- An Historical from Whitaker House.
She wanted to change him and mold him into the man she was supposed to marry. Instead, she was the one whose heart was changed.

23. Medical Error; Prescription For Trouble (book two) by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Abingdon.
Identity theft isn't normally fatal, but this time it was.

24. More Than Words; Daughters of Amana #2 by Judith Miller -- An Historical from Bethany House.
Will Gretchen Kohler's one impulsive decision cause tragic consequences for the entire Amana Community and cost her everything, even the love of her life?

25. Second Chance Brides; Texas Boardinghouse Brides #2 by Vickie McDonough -- An Historical from Barbour.
When the man they came to town to marry weds someone else, two mail order brides must find a way to survive in Texas--or find another man to marry.

26. Secret of the Shroud by Pamela Billings Ewen -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from B&H Publishers.
A powerful Bishop reaches for revenge when he's suddenly confronted with the secret of the Shroud and a choice that can destroy him.

27. Tender Vow by Sharlene MacLaren -- A Romance from Whitaker House.
When John Evans is killed in a skiing accident, his brother, Jake, reaches out to his widowed sister-in-law, but Rachel will have nothing to do with his charity, particularly since they have a "history" she'd rather forget--but God has other plans.

28. The Columns of Cottonwood; The Alabama River Heritage Series by Sandra Robbins -- A Romance from Barbour.
When a handsome stranger purchases a woman's plantation for back taxes, she vows to recover her land, but they discover God has a greater solution--a compromise to benefit both.

29. The Doctor's Blessing; #2 in The Brides of Amish Country by Patricia Davids -- A Romance from Steeple Hill.
A nurse-midwife to the Amish and the new doctor clash over her home deliveries.

30. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson -- A Romance from Zondervan.
The Sleeping Beauty fairy tale comes to life when Rose, the apprentice to the town healer, falls in love with Lord Hamlin, the betrothed son of a duke.

31. The Newcomer by Laurie Alice Eakes -- An Historical from Barbour.
Marigold sacrifices things precious to her, for the sake of her young charges and isn't willing to let their uncle take over when danger follows in his wake.

32. The Perfect Blend; The Tea Shop Series by Trish Perry -- A Romance from Harvest House.
A jilted bride encounters chaotic jobs, overbearing society matrons, and charming suitors in her quest for love, independence, and the occasional glimpse of God's will.

33. The Wolf of Tebron by C. S. Lakin -- An Science Fiction/Fantasy/Futuristic from AMG/Living Ink.
A young blacksmith goes in search of his missing wife, journeying to the four ends of the world and solving riddles with a faithful wolf at his side.

34. Where Hearts Are Free; Darkness to Light Series, Book #3 by Golden Keyes Parsons -- An Historical from Thomas Nelson.
In the freedom and promise of the New World, Bridget Barrington and Philippe Clavell fall in love, but nothing about their love seems possible, apart from God's intervention.