Friday, August 22, 2014

Get Ready to Laugh

You know that TV show, World's Dumbest Criminals? Well, I got an email that I culled but have to share. Out of the 10, these are the 4 best:



Number Four Idiot
I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants.

I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital.

She calmed down and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants. I told her that she better bring her daughter into the emergency room right away.

Here's your sign, lady. Wear it with pride.

Number Three Idiot
Early this year, some Boeing employees on the airfield decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home.

Shortly after they took it for a float on the river, they noticed a Coast Guard helicopter coming toward them. It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator beacon that activated when the raft was inflated. They are no longer employed at Boeing.

Here's your sign, guys. Don't get it wet; the paint might run.

Number Two Idiot
A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the Branch and wrote, "Put all your muny in this bag."

While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller's window.

So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to the Wells Fargo Bank. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn't the brightest light in the harbor.

She told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America.

Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, "OK" and left. He was arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America .

Don't bother with this guy's sign. He probably couldn't read it anyway.

And the Number One Idiot
A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all of the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well.

The cashier refused and said, "I don't believe you are over 21." The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because she didn't believe him.

At this point, the robber took his driver's license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and she put the Scotch in the bag.

The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license.
They arrested the robber two hours later.

This guy definitely needs a sign.

Stay Alert! They walk among us...they reproduce...they vote...and a lot of them hold public office. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet Sandra Hart, a Fellow LPC Author

Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and ChristianDevotions.us. Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, releases today. It is available on Amazon.

Sandra, tell us about your releasing book.

My inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, releases today, August 21, 2014. Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can't save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family's hideaway with saving Adam's life.

What sparked this story?

As I researched another Civil War novel, I read many books and diaries written by soldiers who fought for the Union and the Confederacy. It gave me a clearer picture of what really happened. One of the fascinating discoveries for me was the number of families who went into hiding in caves. The soldiers reported that women made these caves surprisingly cozy. When I found out that a number of families on Lookout Mountain lived in caves while the soldiers occupied Chattanooga, the idea for this story was born.

Did anything strange or funny happen while writing this book?

Writing historical fiction offers opportunities to dress up in period clothing at conferences or speaking at a library or perhaps a booksigning. Finding a costume to wear has been a bit of an adventure for me.

A friend of mine found a Civil War dress, complete with bonnet and parasol, for $12! It's beautiful. It doesn't fit yet, but it's not too far off. With this in mind, I searched for another costume. I found one missing a few buttons near the Chickamauga Battlefield. This dress didn't have a parasol. This weekend another friend who sells items at a flea market had a small selection of parasols. I found one that worked.

So now, with a little bit of sewing, I have a Civil War costume. I'm so excited!

What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?

I researched a small town in Kansas as a setting for one of my historic novels. I wrote my story ideas into a proposal and sent it to my agent, but the editor didn't offer a contract. Since I was in the middle of another writing project, I didn't complete it. I love the main character in this story and want to finish it sometime.

What's your favorite genre in which to read?

It may not come as a surprise, but I love to read inspirational historical romances. I love to learn about the way people lived and the challenges they faced in our early American history.

I also enjoy reading romantic suspense novels.

What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?

I guess my first writing instrument was a pencil. I wanted to be a writer while in elementary school. In fact, I wrote my first book while in the sixth grade. I remember using lined paper with blank space at the top of each page for illustrations. It was a mystery story. The main characters who solved the case were in their early teens.

If you were one of God's creatures other than a human, what would you be?

The birds that splash around in our birdbath sure seem to be enjoying themselves. It seems a great privilege to possess wings to fly. As the birds fly south in formation, they must have quite a view. I'm listening to a few of them chirping away outside my open window right now and wonder if one of them discovered bread crumbs left over from a barbecue picnic.

These are things that spark the imagination. Still, I'm happy to be human.

What's next for you?

My next novel will be another Civil War romance. This one will be set in Gettysburg, a town that has captivated my imagination. I'm planning a trip to Gettysburg to research the story. A beautiful seamstress and a war-weary soldier would never meet if not for the battle that raged outside her Gettysburg home.


Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?
 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

COUNTDOWN!

There's only 9 more days until my Blog Tour kicks off! Here's s what I'm doing:

I'll be on a bunch of blogs and y'all can win a reproduction of the original artwork by my Hubs that was used for my book cover. It's a 14x20 canvas, ready to hang.



All you have to do is follow my blog tour, leave comments, answer questions, post on social media. In other words, help get the word out!

Be watching my blog for the tour post. Then stop by each day for that day's bonus point questions. And good luck!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Writing Emotion

The other day, an email arrived in my inbox with a cartoon of emoticons. Beneath the emoticons were Botoxicons, little smiley faces devoid of expression. 


That would never be me. I can’t hold a straight face for love nor money. In fact, I feel things deeper than most “normal” people. By that, I mean non-writers. 

I was at a funeral a couple if days ago for a woman who sang in the community senior choir Hubs and I sing in. It’s hard to lose a friend but I’d only known her a couple of years. Others in the choir had known her a lot longer than me.

But who do you think was biting her lips, so she didn’t sob out loud? You got it. Me. If one person gets a catch in their throat, I’m tearing up. I’m the one who cries over commercials. Show me something tender and I start bawling.

It’s an occupational hazard, born of an over active imagination. I may not have experienced something, but I can imagine how it feels. And that’s what we as writers have to translate into our stories.

Otherwise, we’ll be like those Botoxicons, writing emotions without emotion.

Monday, August 18, 2014

7 Proven Tips for Building a Platform Before You're Published



What is a platform, you ask? And many new writers do ask that. It's your sphere of influence, your marketability, and your web presence. Publishers have learned that viral marketing is more powerful than an advertisement in a magazine at the grocery store check-out.

Here are 7 proven ways for you to build a platform now...before you publish.

1. Plan to spend an hour each day on building a platform. Think of it as pre-published marketing. You may as well get used to it; once you get a contract, you'll spend hours marketing. That's in addition to writing the next book. 

Editors will look for your online presence. Besides your website or blog, you want them to find a large Internet presence. Break that hour up into chucks of 15 minutes each. Spend time commenting on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Each time you leave a comment or publish a blog entry, you leave a Google stamp of your name editors can find when they Google you.

2. Find something no one else is doing. When I first started writing, not much was online about how author's got published. Most interviews were in print magazines, and no one blogged about their writing journey. In 2005, my critique partner, Gina Holmes, decided to chronicle her first novel journey. She soon realized for all the work it demanded, there were three readers, and she and I were two of them. We talked about it and she decided to interview some authors. Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) was born. She quickly brought me and Jessica Dotta, on board so we had fresh articles every day. The rest is history.

3. What can you do to make yours unique? Combine interviews with a favorite hobby, or charity. Have you wanted to fund a home for retired cloggers? Perhaps you love Olympic curling. Find novels that have athletes in them and interview the author. Do you raise bees? Feature a video from The Sting. The point is to integrate your hobby, other job, and/or passion into your blog to draw another segment of the market. You'll have a built-in fan base when your debut novel releases.

4. Set how often you'll blog and keep to it. Best is every day, but if that won't happen go for once a week or partner with a few other writers. Find authors in your genre and start a genre blog, like Kill Zone where some great thriller authors blog, or Seekerville.

Author Michelle Griep does short blog posts every day. On Friday she does a vlog (video blog post). Her blog, Writer off the Leash, is informative and her wry humor shines through.

5. If you can join with other writers, it splits the workload. We split the work between three of us when we started Novel Journey/Novel Rocket. We posted new interviews each day. Then, we added teaching posts by authors we had previously interviewed but who had new novels to promote. Now, we have a regular crew of 29 and our own writing contest.

5. Follow other blogs. Another way to build your Internet presence is commenting on blogs. Lots of them. One very clever author, Bonnie Calhoun, realized the potential for marketing through blog tours. She amassed a large contingency of bloggers and contacted a number of publishers, who supplied the books for reviews posted. Most of these bloggers are writers and building platforms for themselves. Christian Fiction Blog Alliance grew up into Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Bonnie combined #2 and #3 and grew her online presence to a mega one. 

6. Trade links with other writers. Offer to swap posts, do guest posts, and even ask what they'd like to see on your blog. The more links to your blog, the higher your Google ranking.

7. Social Media. Choose two or three and be active. There are several great sites for writers. One of my favorite social media sites is unique. Started by Nora St. Laurent, who isn't even a writer, it's called The Book Club Network (TBCN). Most of the members are book club leaders, and TBCN connects them with authors. Nora and her husband, Fred, turned Nora's passion and ministry into a career...and a magazine, Book Fun Magazine, with over a quarter of a million readers.

So get creative and get busy. When your book is completed, you'll have your marketing platform in place. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sneak Peeks



"In Bible study, Sandi told us God has a perfect mate picked out for each of us. By praying, we're telling God we want the husband he's chosen for us."

Claire nearly tripped over her heart as it zinged to her toes. Was that what was wrong with her and Joel? She had never prayed for a husband. Well, she did, but not like that. When single, she’d asked the stars to send her one. The day she met Joel, she fell in love and never looked back.

What did all this mean? Her heart must have returned to her chest, because it pounded, and with each pulse, lodged a lump firmly in her throat. Inside the Pasta Bowl, she let the girls order for her. Her thoughts were so jumbled she'd probably try to order egg rolls.

Somehow she swallowed her pizza and sweet iced tea while listening to the girls chatter on about Sandi and her discourse on future husbands. When the waiter asked if they wanted dessert, Claire almost ordered Rolaids.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WHO YOU CALLING A CHARACTER?

Guest Post by Michelle Griep

Michelle’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Her recent release is A HEART DECEIVED, a gothic regency put out by David C. Cook (June 2013). If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her on her website or her blog, Writer Off the Leash or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

No matter the genre, every story has characters, otherwise you'd be writing a phone directory. Hold on. Bad analogy. I know plenty of characters in a phonebook and who the flip uses a phone book anymore anyway?

As I was saying, sans phonebooks, characters are the main ingredients in a story recipe. There are lots of tricks to jazz up a memorable character, but EVERY character needs some basic things . . .

FEAR
What's makes your character scream like a little girl? Centipedes? The IRS? The threat of an alien probe shoved up their . . . wait a minute. I'm scaring myself. And that, my friends, is the point. Everyone is afraid of something. Identify what your character is afraid of so that you can use that fear to ramp up the tension.

STRENGTH
I'm not talking six-pack abs here, though in the case of your hero, that's never a bad idea. Think about what sweet skills your character possesses. Is he a crazy freak with nunchucks? Can she hit a raccoon in the eyeball from fifty yards away with a slingshot? Maybe this character has x-ray vision and can see into people's souls. Whatever. Give them something to work with.

FLAWS
Perfect characters make readers want to punch them in the head. Nobody is flawless, so make sure your character isn't either, even your super stud that swoops in to save the day and the damsel in distress all in one fell swoop. This can be something as small as an inability to balance a checkbook, or you can create a whopper of a wart like a gambling habit using stolen money copped from nuns.

A SECRET
Yo. Buddy. Step a little closer and I'll whisper some covert information because have I got something juicy to tell you. Are you leaning toward the page? That's because you want to know what I've got hidden. Secrets are like big, juicy nightcrawlers wriggling on a hook, irresistible to the literary fish. Characters with secrets reel in a readers.

MOTIVATION
Everybody wants something. A brand-spanking-new Tesla. A mutton lettuce tomato sandwich. The stupid hangnail on your thumb to go away. Your character wants something as well. What is it?

DEPTH
Great characters have lots of layers, and the best kind are those that are at odds with each other. Example: show a heroine battling insecurity on the inside, yet acts and speaks with a careless arrogance on the outside. The more complexity, the better. Your characters are human after all. Okay, so maybe they’re not real humans, but living, breathing people are reading your story and that’s who your characters must relate to.

PASSION
No one admires a wuss. A compelling character needs a cause about which they are passionate, usually one that involves justice. Not that they have to be over-the-top, protest sign waving hippies. Just give them an issue they care deeply about.

Make sure to incorporate these building blocks next time you construct a character and you'll be well on your way to making him or her memorable in a reader's mind.

A Heart Deceived
Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse. 

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. 

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Romance Imprint at LCP

LCP, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is my publisher, so I'm thrilled to announce this new Imprint, with my dear friend, Sandra D Bricker, who is the Managing Editor!

Q&A WITH SANDIE BRICKER, MANAGING EDITOR OF NEW ROMANCE IMPRINT FOR LIGHTHOUSE PUBLISHING OF THE CAROLINAS

BLING! is an edgy new series of contemporary romance for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). Although there may be an element of faith in our books, it’s not required; however, if it’s there, it must

be woven organically into the story. My favorite books are those that act as parables, telling a story beneath a story.

What does the name of the line – Bling! – mean?
Well, it’s not about telling glamorous stories with the backdrop of the rich and famous. (laughs) Instead, in the way that a woman in a casual outfit adds a little bling to make herself stand out, that’s what we’re doing with contemporary romance. Just adding a little something extra.

Can you give us some details about this new line of romantic fiction and what you’re looking for?
Basic things I’m looking for include a solid, believable romance; characters with an authentic and powerful connection rather than simple animal attraction; realistic characters who may be flawed, characters with a past whose struggles are complex and may not be too pretty; an interesting plot that creates a landscape for the characters to tell their story. I believe the best stories can be told without foul language, explicit sex or violence, so Bling! romances will adhere to that. However, the plot won’t be squeaky clean or vanilla flavored either.

Sandie, what led you to join the editorial staff of LPC?
The scope of publishing has been changing so quickly that it’s a little hard to keep up. Like the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Once I talked with Eddie Jones, the founder of LPC, I realized that his business model is solid. I get a real sense from him that he’s on the inside curl of the wave of all these changes, and I’m just really thankful he wanted me to be part of it.

Also, I’m a writer who  understands the importance of finding your niche. My writing appeals to a specific brand of reader, which takes a certain kind of publisher. My hope is that I can pay it forward for other writers looking for their own niche, and work together to tell really good stories in the process.

Will you be looking at material from beginning writers?
Absolutely. I’m hoping to have a good mix of novice and seasoned authors so that we can create something that appeals to a full spectrum of contemporary readers.

If a writer wants more information about publishing with Bling!, what should they do?

They can go to www.BlingRomance.com to review the complete guidelines, and they can LIKE our page on Facebook at facebook.com/BlingRomanceLPC to keep up with what we’re doing. If they have questions or need more information, they can email me at SandieBlingLPC@aol.com. We’re still in the process of getting set up, but I’ll need to fill two slots by spring so I’m eager to get the submissions rolling.