Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday suggestion, as per The Broke and Bookish, is “Ten Reasons I Love X” and you can place whatever you like in the spot of “X”.  Therefore, I am going to do “Ten Reasons I Love Janette Oke”.

  1.  When I first gave my heart to the Lord and became a Christian, the first Christian fiction books I read were books written by Janette Oke.
  2. I love every book that I have ever read by Janette Oke, although, unfortunately, I have not read them all. Her characters capture my heart.
  3. I love that many of Janette’s stories are Christian historical romantic fiction.  Maybe that’s why I decided that clean historical romantic fiction is what I want to write.
  4. Although I have only read five of the twelve books in Janette’s “Women of the West” series, A Gown of Spanish Lace and Drums of Change are two of my favorite Janette Oke stories. Drums of Change is a special favorite because it is about an Indian girl, and I have always had a fondness and fascination for the Indians.  My great-great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian woman.  Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of meeting her.
  5. One of my favorite series of all time is one written by Janette Oke, and that is the Love Comes Softly series.  In that series, Janette created two characters that all of her readers fell in love with, Marty and Clark Davis.
  6. Janette Oke cares about her readers and their opinions.  She originally wrote Love Comes Softly as a single book, but many of her readers wanted more, and so with the encouragement of an editor at Bethany House publishing, she wrote a second book, and the series eventually turned into an eight novel series. When readers still wanted more, Janette wrote four more novels, The Prairie Legacy series, where the series of Clark and Marty Davis and their family finally ended because at the end of twelve novels, Clark and Marty had reached their final years together and Janette nor her readers wanted to mourn their deaths.  So finally, the readers were satisfied, and Janette had cared enough about her readers to change one novel into a series of twelve novels, and that remains, maybe, the best loved series Janette has written.
  7.  Some of Janette Oke’s stories have been made into movies.  The Love Comes Softly series was made into movies, and I LOVE them!  (Well, the ones I have seen) I have the complete book and movie series of Love Comes Softly, including the Prairie Legacy series, although I have not read the Prairie Legacy series.  I plan to read all of these twelve novels very soon, and then sit down and watch the movies!
  8. I recently found a book at a bargain book store that is a book about Janette Oke written by her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan, and I can’t wait to read it and learn more about one of my favorite authors!
  9. Janette Oke also wrote another of my favorite book series and that is her Seasons of the Heart series.  It is a four book series.
  10. The biggest reason I love Janette Oke is because not only does she care about her readers, she also cares about future writers and those who write letters to her.  I wrote a letter to her back in 1996, when I was hoping to soon become a published author.  I sent her a letter expressing my love for her writing and I sent her a short story of my own and asked for feedback and advice on becoming a published author.  Now, you and I both know that successful writers don’t usually answer their own fan mail.  They don’t have time, and they don’t read stories fans send them asking for writing advice.  Well, I want you to know that Janette Oke did just that.  She read my letter and the story I sent and she sent me a two page letter responding with answers to some of my questions about publishing at the time!  She offered me some tips on my writing and encouraged me to keep writing!  This busy, successful writer took the time to personally respond to my letter!  What a sweet, caring woman Janette Oke is!  I am so glad that I was bold in writing to her.  I still have the letter she sent me in the original envelope it was sent in, and it still means a lot to me today!I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Janette Oke in person or having any other contact or correspondence with her, but she will always remain special to me for taking the time to encourage me in my writing, even if it did take me considerably longer to really get serious about my writing.

Upcoming Writers’ Conference in Lancaster County

PRESS RELEASE: LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 16, 2016, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

Are you an aspiring writer seeking to hone skills, become market savvy, consult personally with editors/authors—all on a budget? Then join us at Lancaster Christian WritersSuper Saturday 2016!! April 16th, 2016, from 8:30am-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA, 17601. This one-day writers conference offers a dual track of workshops in fiction and non-fiction. Early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 13, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch and LCW membership. Registrations after April 13 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

Non-fiction faculty include writers conference director and author Marsha Hubler, professional writer/editor Hana Haatainen Caye, transformational speaker and novelist Tracy Higley, and award-winning Toastmaster speaker and author Michele Chynoweth. A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Gayle Roper, Mike Dellosso, and Dwight Kopp.

Workshops cover such topics as:

  • Can You Say Satisfying? Creating the Inspiring Moment.
  • Keep ‘Em Wide-Eyed! Sure-Fire Techniques for Writing Hi-Octane Suspense
  • From Book to Bestseller: You Are Your Own Best Publicist
  • The Delicate Art of Creating Villains
  • Non-fiction That Sells: Making Your Article or Book Irresistible to Editors
  • Style: Uncovering Voice and the Power of Identity.
  • The Business of Writing: Making Money as a Freelance Writer.
  • Impactivity: Pursuing Your Writing Dream with Passion, Balance, and Joy

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Personal consultations with faculty are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Author/editor/conference director Marlene Bagnull and award-winning novelist/collaborative writer Jeanette Windle are among auxiliary faculty offering personal consultations.

More information, including the Super Saturday 2016 Flyer/Registration Form and Press Release can be found at Lancaster Christian Writers Today (http://lancasterchristianwriterstoday.blogspot.com/) OR email LCW president Jeanette Windle at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com.

Mail Super Saturday 2016 registration form (or relevant info) and check or money order payable to: Lancaster Christian Writers, c/o Jeanette Windle, 1776 Euclid Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601. For credit card/PayPal payment, request invoice at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com (preferred) or call 717-209-0011 after 4 PM.

I have attended LCW’s Super Saturday conferences for the past three years and am already registered to attend this one!  I always learn something helpful or make a valuable new contact or make a new friend, and I have heard all but one of these speakers before and they do an excellent job!  So, if you write or want to write and live in or near Lancaster County, plan to join us for this Super Saturday Writers’ Conference!

Meet Author, Mike Dellosso

I met Mike a little over a year ago at a one day writers’ conference.  I had the pleasure of having fifteen minutes one-on-one with him to pick his brain about writing.  I found him very kind, helpful and encouraging.  I purchased every book that he had written and for sale in the bookstore that day.  I have to confess that I haven’t read them all, yet, but I love what I have read, and definitely look forward to reading the rest.
Mike has a new book coming out on June 1, 2015 — Centralia.  I suggest that you don’t miss it.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing him for this post, so sit back, relax,  and get to know author, Mike Dellosso.

Me:  What inspired you to become a writer?

Mike:  My brother-in-law’s motorcycle accident. I’d always hated writing. All through school, writing just wasn’t my thing. When Darrell wound up in a coma and near death I turned to the only outlet I could think of: I grabbed a pad of paper and pen and began to write my feelings and emotions, what I was struggling with, fears, doubts, anger. I fell in love with writing then and haven’t stopped since. That was 1998. Darrell is fine now and he and my sister have four kids.

Me:  How did you decide what genre to write?

Mike:  I’ve always enjoyed thrillers, especially with a supernatural twist. Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, X-files . . . fan of it all. So when I started writing it was a natural genre for me to fall into. Also, I kind of cut my Christian fiction teeth on Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.

Me:  How did you learn to write books?

Mike:  I’m mostly self-taught. I didn’t go to school for writing or anything like that. Once I got into writing I began reading A LOT and reading to learn. I studied the way novelists created characters, wrote dialogue, handled action scenes and pacing and plotting. I read “how-to” books as well, did research online. Anything I could do to learn the craft. And I also wrote A LOT. Practice, practice, practice. I have whole novels that will never see the light of day. They were practice for the real deal.

Me:  How many books have you had published so far?

Mike:  Counting my newest, CENTRALIA, I’ve published eight full-length novels and one novella. I’m working on number nine. My other full-length novels are THE HUNTED, SCREAM, DARLINGTON WOODS, DARKNESS FOLLOWS, FRANTIC, FEARLESS, and A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS (written as Michael King). The novella is REARVIEW, a part of the 7 HOURS series.

Me:  How long does it take you to complete a book?

Mike:  Generally speaking, the first draft takes me about four to five months, then there’s a month or so of subsequent drafts. All in all, it’s a good six to seven months. And when I’m really going I write seven days a week.

Me:  Do you write everyday, and if so, for how many hours or do you set a word quota to reach each day?

Mike:  When I’m working on the first draft and life isn’t all that crazy, yes, I write everyday, usually about an hour a day. If I can get a day where I can get more than an hour I jump at the opportunity.

Me:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mike:  Both, I guess. I begin with a basic plot in my mind and I know where I’m going to start and where I’m going to finish. Then, I work one to two chapters ahead in my mind so I can keep the plotting going that way. I don’t outline,  though, and don’t do extensive plotting. It’s basically whatever I can think about and remember from day to day.

Me:  Have you ever had writer’s block, and if you have, how did you get through it?

Mike:  Yes. Some say there’s no such thing as writer’s block but it is real. I know that beast firsthand. When life is hectic and you have a full-time job and family stuff and church stuff and “other” stuff going on it’s tough sometimes to focus on the book. Distractions work their way in and you lose touch with the story, you lose your groove or inspiration. Usually, I let things rest. I release the pressure of having to write, of having to keep up with my schedule and just separate myself some from the story. That usually does the job.

Me:  Have your ever participated in NaNoWriMo?  Why or why not?  If you have, what did you think of the experience?

Mike:  I haven’t. I don’t need that kind of pressure. I have enough pressure as it is and need to write with as little as possible. I really don’t want to invite more pressure.

Me:  Where did you get the idea to create the Darlington Society where you connect with your readers and allow them to be participants in your work?  Do you find this effective?

Mike:  First, yes, it’s very effective. For them and me. The Society has become an entity in and of itself, so much more than I’d ever envisioned.The folks in it are great, they’re interactive, they care about each other. They’ve blessed me in so many ways I can’t even count them all. I came up with the idea as a way of getting a core group of readers to support my efforts and lift me up in prayer. They’ve done so much more than that. They’re really incredible.

Me:  Have you ever done book signings and, if so, has it been a positive experience?

Mike:  For me, not a very positive experience. I’ve found that multi-author signings work a lot better than solo ones. And I’ve also learned to take my wife and one or more of my daughters. Family relaxes things and my wife is very outgoing and extroverted. She helps draw people in. Solo signings are lessons in humility. I don’t have a household name so people usually steer clear of my table and try their best to avoid eye contact. I spend a lot of time counting passersby.

Me:  What do you consider the most important writing resource?

Mike:  A writer’s mind and the discipline of observation. Seriously. Imagination is lacking these days. We have so much technology at our fingertips that there’s no need for imagination. But imagination is like a muscle, the more you work it the better and stronger it gets. And observation is a discipline every writer needs to hone. We’re so busy, so distracted, so preoccupied we don’t see what’s going on around us. Fiction writers say “tell the truth” and the truth is right there in front of us everyday. We just need to see it.

Me:  Do you continue to study the writing craft?

Mike:  I do by reading and studying how the masters do it, those writers who write what I write and do it well. I also read other genres and study how they do it. Learning from those who do it well is the best way to learn.

Me:  What would you consider the most important advice that you could offer to new writers?

Mike:  Write and don’t give up. Read great writers. Be aware of your surroundings and observe. But mostly, don’t give up. 100% of published authors didn’t give up. That’s a fact.

Me:  Now, changing the focus from writing, to your upcoming new release, Centralia.  Where did you get the idea for Centralia?

Mike:  I read about this town called Centralia in Pennsylvania. It’s about three hours from my home. It was a coal mining town and back in the sixties one of the coal veins ignited. It’s been burning ever since and could continue burning for the next 200 years. The government has spent millions trying to extinguish the fire and finally gave up and evacuated the town. The last holdout residents left just a couple years ago. The ground is cracked in places and spews sulfuric gases. Roads are cracked and split. The town is literally falling apart. Many of the buildings have been razed by a few still stand. The government re-routed the main highway around the town and is pretty much letting nature reclaim it. I thought, what a great setting for a story. I usually begin my story ideas with a character but this one started with a setting.

Me:  Did you have to study a lot of fight scenes with and without weapons in order to accurately portray the fight scenes in Centralia?

Mike:  I love action and military movies and drew  much from them for the choreography of the fight scenes. And research, research, research.

Me:  You included quite a few interesting minor characters in Centralia, some of whom you gave quite a bit of detail about.  One of them was named Ronnie and I was really intrigued by him.  Is there any chance you may include him as a main character in another book?

Mike:  No. My secondary characters are just that, secondary. I like to give them more detail, though, because “a person’s a person no matter how small.” They’re people, too, with lives and stories to tell. In my stories, everyone’s important.

Me:  There’s been a rumor that there may be a sequel?  Would you care to comment on that?

Mike:  Yes, KILL DEVIL, will release in 2016. It’s pretty wild and that’s all I’m saying

9781414390413_p0_v1_s260x420 Centralia

Centralia is available for preorder at Amazon.com.  Order your copy today!

Profanity — Acceptable or Unacceptable

Okay, so I have heard differing views on this in the Christian writing realm, and was surprised when I attended a workshop recently where the speaker spoke about the importance of including “absolute truth” in our writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. This speaker also stressed that “absolute truth” only comes from the Bible, which I completely agree with.

The speaker also spoke about the difficulties of getting published with a Christian publisher because they have very strict rules, and the speaker mentioned that if we, as writers, want to reach non-believers, we won’t be able to do that if we publish with a Christian publisher, which I tend to agree with.

However, the speaker also said that it was okay to use profanity; that it makes it more realistic.  (This is something I have heard many times before).  I have been thinking about the contradiction in that workshop — “absolute truth” from God’s word, which clearly says, in Ephesians 4 and 5, where Paul is preaching about believers living as children of the Light:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.  

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure:  No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”   (Ephesians 4:29 – 5:10)

I know that I could have simply shared Ephesians 4:29, but many people make accusations about taking scripture out of context, so I wanted it to be clear that the context is clear.  There is no question that we are not to participate in such behaviors, according to the “absolute truth” of God’s word, the Bible.

Therefore, if we are not to participate in those behaviors with our mouths, isn’t also our responsibility to not participate in those behaviors with our pen or keyboard?

As for the thing about using profanity making it more realistic, I have to say that I live a real life and do not use profanity, and in my real life it has been my experience that when others know that I do not use profanity, even if it is a normal part of their speech, they try not to use it around me and if they slip and use it, they immediately apologize.  My husband has told me the same thing happens to him.

Finally, I have to say that I know many people who use profanity daily, and yet I have never heard them complain about a book that they have read or even a movie or T.V. show that they have watched stating, “That was unrealistic.  There wasn’t enough profanity in that.”  Nor have I heard any of them base their like or dislike on a book, movie or T.V. show on how much profanity, or lack thereof, was included.

Therefore, I will continue to stand on my convictions and write profanity-free.

What do you think?  Profanity — Acceptable or Unacceptable?

One-Day Super Saturday Writers’ Conference

A writers’ conference is a great place to learn more about writing techniques and marketing and publishing opportunities and possibilities.  It is also a great place to meet other writers and make connections and form bonds, which is a wonderful thing since writing is a lonely business.  You can make lifelong friends who can help and encourage you and you can do the same for them as you walk your writing journey.  I attended this event last year, and cannot wait to attend this Saturday.  If you are anywhere near Lancaster County, I invite you to come and see what this one-day conference has to offer, and if you like, I can meet you face-to-face if you let me know you are coming so we can connect.

LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 11, 2015, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

For a bargain of excellence and price, no writer, whether beginning or advanced, within driving radius will want to miss Lancaster Christian Writers’ Super Saturday 2015!! to be held April 11th, 2015, from 8:30am.-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601.

This one-day writers conference offers a full slate of workshops taught by top industry professionals in both fiction and non-fiction fields. An early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 8, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch (think Panini!) and LCW membership. Registrations after April 9 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Dina Sleiman and Kelly Long along with children’s author Brenda Hendricks. Non-fiction faculty include TV/radio speaker, marketing expert, award-winning author of 19 books Karen Whiting, professional memoir and ghostwriter Shawn Smucker, journalist/social media experts Lisa Bartelt and Alison McLennan.

Keynoting the opening session will be linguist, missionary, and author Grace Fabian. Workshops cover such topics as: 

Market Yourself Now! Learn Tools to Develop Press Kit, Bio, Website, and Other PR Products.

Writing Blockbuster Scenes: How To Keep Readers Flipping Pages and Asking For More.

 Transformed Manuscripts: Repackaging Your Ideas (Sold or Rejected) to Expand Marketability.

 The Unfortunate Truth in Fiction: Addressing Hard Issues Without Pulling Down Your Story.

 A Story To Tell: Surefire Do’s and Don’ts to Write a Gripping True Life Story or Memoir.

 Myers-Briggs for Your Protagonist: Applying Personality Types to Create Characters with Distinctive Qualities, Motivations, and Voices.

 Let’s Ride the Seesaw: Recruiting Your Inner Child to Communicate with Young Readers.

 100% Guaranteed (Oh, Yeah?) Secret to Blogging Success Beyond Your Wildest Dreams!

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Conference attendees can get personal consultations with faculty on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lancaster Christian Writers welcomes writers of all churches and denominations, all levels and genres. Monthly meetings offer opportunities for manuscript critique, networking with other writers, workshops and guest authors.

Surprise! A Guest Post by Marsha Hubler

Drum roll, please!  Yes, today is the beginning of “Guest Post Wednesday” here at Kelly F Barr.  I hope I will be able to bring inspiring and informational posts from some great bloggers and hope to be able to do so each and every Wednesday.  I am thrilled that Marsha Hubler has agreed to be my first Guest Poster.  I met Marsha last Spring at a one-day Writer’s Conference.

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Marsha Hubler

Author/Speaker

 When Marsha left Ashland, PA in 1964, she was headed for Bloomsburg State College, Bloomsburg, PA, and a teaching career four years later in the central Pennsylvania area. Marsha says, “Little did I know that one of my childhood dreams of writing books would become a reality beyond my wildest imagination.”

After graduating from college, she married Richard Hubler, also a 1964 graduate of Ashland Area High School. Eventually, they made their home near Middleburg, PA. They have been active members of Bible Baptist Church in Kreamer, PA, since 1972, where Marsha plays the organ and sings in a mixed quartet.

In her 40+ years of involvement with education, Marsha has earned her master’s degree from Bloomsburg and has co-founded two private schools, Kreamer Christian Academy, Kreamer, PA, and the Bethesda Prep School, Milton, PA, where she served as administrator in each. Since 1990 she has evaluated and tested hundreds of homeschoolers in her home where she lives with her husband and two dogs. She is a certified evaluator with three different homeschooling organizations. She speaks at writers’ conferences, parents’ and children’s events and schools.

Marsha’s “professional” writing career started in 1991. She has had numerous articles, short stories, and poems published in magazines and for greeting cards. In 2003 her first book was published. DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD is a 128-page Bible study guide that helps ladies develop a stronger prayer relationship with the Lord.

Of her 19 published books, Marsha is most excited about the best-selling KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES published by Zonderkidz. These eight girl/horse fiction books delicately deal with issues that face today’s youth, issues such as light drug abuse, foster care, special needs, and the death of a close friend. Through her stories, Marsha conveys the truths that no problem is bigger than God and that He offers salvation as a gift through his Son, Jesus Christ. Girls ten years and older will connect to this series, identifying with the main protagonist, Skye Nicholson, who appears to be as tough as nails. However, on the inside she’s a scared, insecure teen, not quite sure of anything but her own fears until God changes her heart. “My main desire,” Marsha says, “is to see young people helped, most of all spiritually, through their difficult adolescent years as they read my books.”

Marsha and her husband were foster parents from 1975 to 1987, caring for a dozen children in need of a good home. Her hobbies and interests have included horses, softball, volleyball, painting, gardening, pocket billiards, and playing the organ.

In April of 2003, Marsha attended an American Christian Writers’ Conference in Richmond, Virginia, where she was presented the “Writer of the Year” Award. She presently does freelance editing for two publishing companies and has just assumed the directorship of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, a five-day conference that draws faculty and conferees from all over the United States.

Marsha’s life verse is 1 Corinthians 15:10a: “But by the grace of God I am what I am.…” She stands amazed at what God can do with someone who is willing to serve him at whatever capacity he calls him or her.

Visit Marsha at her website, writers’ tips blog, Facebook, and other social media sites:

www.marshahubler.com

www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/marsha.hubler.3

Keystone Stables Book 1

Vengeance by Cody Clark

I received this ebook free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program.  When I read the blurb about the ebook, I thought the story would be very much like a couple of Frank Peretti’s well-know books, but it turned out to be quite different than I thought it would be.  Vengeance is a short story about spiritual warfare.  It is told in a very interesting way, moving back and forth between our known world where a man is struggling over the death of his son, and the spiritual realm where the angels and demons battle for the man’s soul, so to speak.

I enjoyed the story, though it moved more quickly than I liked, but, of course, that’s to be expected to create a short story.  In the beginning it was difficult to route for the main character. It took quite a while for me to care enough about the main character to route for him.  The battle between angels and demons is impressive.  I always struggle, though, when angels are described as having wings because the Bible doesn’t say that the angels have wings.  It speaks about angels appearing to people in the Old Testament, but wings are not mentioned in any of those passages.  It mentions heavenly host appearing to the shepherds in the fields, and, I guess because they are in the air, we assume they have wings, but only cherubim and seraphim are described as having wings, and yes, they are technically angels, but they are a certain type of angels.

I did like the story.  I cared about the angels from the very start and cheered for them, although I knew they couldn’t lose.  I did finally begin to care about the human man in the story and want him to do the right thing as well.  I really liked the ending and the way Cody Clark wrote the ending and brought it all together.  The story was very moving and inspirational.  It also challenged me, personally, in my faith and in my thoughts and attitudes toward others, especially someone who may have caused me pain.  I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good, inspirational story, and to anyone who may be struggling with the idea of forgiveness.  This story has a powerful message of forgiveness.

I am always amazed when a writer can create a great short story because good story elements require good characters and a good plot line with conflict, and to pull all of that off in a short story takes a lot of talent and hard work.  Congratulations Cody Clark on writing a good short story that includes the required elements of story.  I look forward to reading something written by you in the future.