Thursday, March 25, 2010

Check out Rachelle Gardner's Blog Post on Freelance Editors

I rarely post just to send you to someone else's blog, but I really loved Rachelle Gardner's post today. It tackles the question of whether or not to hire a freelance editor for your book.

I've often wondered about this. I've heard before that hiring an editor is necessary so you don't make a fool of yourself by missing "amateur" mistakes in your writing, typos, etc. But I've always balked at the idea because I've got a great group of critters who look for those things for me. Each of them has a different strength, too, and will find different types of errors. Still, I've worried that having my work critiqued by fellow writers isn't "good enough," and that an agent or publisher is going to see that I haven't had my work professionally edited.

Rachelle points out that freelance editors should serve essentially the same purpose as a good critique group. And she states flatly that having an editor "fix" the issues in your book for you doesn't teach you anything, and can--and this is my favorite point--mask your real ability (or lack thereof) from the eyes of the agent.

YES! That settles it for me. I can see the need for hiring a professional editor if you don't have the benefit of great critters, or if you're going to self-publish. But, I now feel much better about my decision to not go that route.

Anyway, you can read the whole post on Rachelle's blog.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nuggets, Nonsense, and "What's the difference?"

I'll start with today's Notebook Nugget:

"Discouragement is the devil's tool."

I have no idea where I read that (probably a devotional somewhere) and I don't really have a story to go with it. I'm just waiting (quite impatiently) for a bunch of responses to short story submissions. This is an open opportunity for discouragement--little worries and such that niggle at me and make me think I'm never going to sell another piece. Sigh. Trying to fight it!

Next is something I heard at a writers group recently--the difference between "literary" fiction and "commercial" fiction.

Commercial fiction: The character has a goal (whether they are conscious of it or not). There is a definite plot, during which the character attains his/her goal. Or if the character does not attain the goal, something else changes him/her.

Literary fiction: These are the books we dissect in high school and college English classes. The character has no "goal" and the story is character-driven rather than plot-driven. There may be no real plot at all. The "change" takes place in the reader (whether the character experiences a change or not). I believe what this means is that the story offers insight into a topic or experience that makes the reader reassess his or her opinions, or makes them realize a quality within themselves they were unaware of. A good example is The Picture of Dorian Gray, which highlights the consequences of vanity.

And lastly...Nonsense. If you read my last post, you saw the six lies I told about myself, with one truth tucked in there. Here's the answer, folks, to the real me:

I was not born in Florida--I was born in Texas.

I do not hate chocolate--I'm completely addicted to it!

Not allergic to dogs, thank God. I have a beautiful Shepherd/Lab mix and the sweetest Boxer on the planet. (I am, however, allergic to wool.)

Pink is about my least favorite color. Not a girly-girl, this one, no way!

I've never competed in a marathon, or ever wanted to! I've done quite a few walks for Susan G. Komen, though :).

Of, course, I've been to several concerts, but not for a few years.

Which means....the true statement is that I once won a jalepeno-eating contest. Yep. And the reigning champ was none too happy to be beaten by a girl!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Creative Writer Award...

So, am I a liar?

Here are the rules of the blog award:

1) Thank the person who tagged me. THANK YOU LYNN RUSH

2) Copy and Paste the award on my blog. √

3) Link to the person who nominated me. √

4) Tell up to 6 lies and 1 truth about myself. √

5) Tag at least 7 people for this award. √

6) Post links to their blogs. √

7) Comment on each of their blogs to inform them of the nomination. √

Here are the lies (and one truth):

I was born in Florida.

I hate chocolate.

I'm allergic to dogs.

My favorite color is pink.

I once won a jalepeno-eating contest.

I've competed in three marathons.

I've never been to a concert.

So...which one do you think is true??

Ok, I tag:

Shawna Williams (Yay, No Other coming out May 1st!)

Amy Deardon

Lexi Williams



Jacob Parker (and his boss cool book cover!)

Nathan Petrie

Monday, March 15, 2010


First, I forgot to add to my last post that there are GOBS of free books available through Kindle. Many out of print books, classics, and some new releases. Authors are using this to get the word spread about their new books, so you need to check back often and if you see one you like grab it before the deal ends. It costs nothing, right? And maybe you'll discover an author you would have never thought of reading before.

For a list of some of the freebies right now, visit Shawna Williams's blog, My Father's Oldsmobile. More books can of course be found on

Speaking of Shawna Williams... (notice how smoothly I stuck that in there), keep your eyes open on May 1st for the release of her first novel, No Other. It will be published by Desert Breeze Publishing, in several ebook formats including Kindle. Check out the cover art:

Now, you ALL know I am NOT a romance reader. But I LOVED this book! (Yes, I got to be a beta reader!) This is not your typical romance. Not trashy, not corny, not sappy. Shawna has a unique voice that shines through the entire book. Her characterization skills rock. More on all that when the book releases, but I had to mention it now because I'm so excited. I mean, um, because we were talking about ebooks. Ahem.

And last, but by no means least, visit Bryan Davis's blog for info on the Starlighter Contest. Way cool prizes!!

(I want the sword! I want the sword!)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kindle Ramblings

I passed on letting my husband buy me a Kindle for Christmas, thinking I'd rather ponder it further and then maybe get one for my birthday, which is still a few months away. In the meantime, I decided to download "Kindle for PC."

If you don't know about "Kindle for PC," it's an application you can download for FREE from Amazon. It allows you to read and store Kindle books, just like you would with a Kindle, but on your computer. It does nothing to the screen, of course, or the portability of your PC, which are the big selling points of the Kindle. So, if you don't want to be tied to sitting in your desk chair in front of your desk-top PC, it may not do you much good. Also, while laptops are portable, they're still much bigger than Kindles. The Kindle allows you to hold it like a book, and a laptop, no matter how wireless, will not. Also, the screen. Kindle has that great book-page looking screen that is easier on your eyes than a computer screen.

So, if the Kindle is so wonderful, why am I not getting one?

Well, first, I have a netbook. So the disadvantages of the desktop and laptop don't really apply completely. I can sit on the couch, or a lounge chair, and prop the netbook on my knees. It weighs almost nothing, and I just click with my mouse when I want to turn the page. The screen is still a computer screen, but the HP mini I have has such great clarity it doesn't bother me.

My other reasons have to do with cost. The Kindle is expensive, but that's not really what I mean. I read a lot. And spending $9.99 every time I want to read something will add up FAST. I use the library a lot. If I love a book, I'll buy it to keep forever, and in that case I want print. I refuse to spend ten bucks on an ebook, fall madly in love with it, then turn around and spend the money on the print version. So, I'm stuck being mad that the money is gone and I don't have the "book."

BUT, there are books I want very much to read and the library doesn't have copies. With the Kindle for PC, I can still get the book and often cheaper as an ebook. And if I know ahead of time a book is probably going to be a one-time read, then it's totally worth it. Or maybe the book is only available in electronic format and I just don't want to miss out.

From what I understand, too, if I ever do get a Kindle, the books I have saved on my "Kindle for PC" will be accessible through it as well. So, it's been a great way to try it out without the initial investment.

I didn't write this post to try and convince anyone for or against Kindles or ebooks. I think there is room for both, and I like having options. Mainly, I just wanted to express my recent ponderings, and to let everyone I can know about the "Kindle for PC" because several people I've mentioned it to have bugged their eyes and said, "What? I've never heard of that! And it's free????"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Dreaded Post...

I really wanted to look forward to posting a review of By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson. After reading so many glowing reviews I had very high hopes. I got the book for Christmas, and decided to not read it right away. I put it further down my to-read list, in hopes of saving it for a time when I could really hunker down and read it through uninterrupted. I expected to savor it, like a long-awaited dessert after a good meal.

Alas, that was not the case.

While Jill's writing is technically competent, I didn't find the story compelling. The plot seemed to creep along. I tired of the constant justifications of the characters for their actions. They seemed to mentally list every consequence before every decision.

Never did I feel submerged in the world, either. Nor did I ever hit a part where I felt I couldn't put the book down, and when it was down, I didn't feel drawn to pick it back up. To be honest, I got close to half-way through and decided not to go back to it at all. I've read many books where the characters' emotions became my emotions, where I forgot I was reading a book and the world around me disappeared as I lost myself in the story. This didn't happen here.

The characters were fairly well developed. I can't say they were flat, but I couldn't connect with them. Vrell especially. OK, go ahead and get your tomatoes ready to throw--I actually found Vrell to be annoying.

Yes, I know, this book has won awards. People talk as though the book is the shining light of the Christian spec-fic community. This review doesn't mean the book doesn't deserve the acclaim it has gotten. It only means I personally didn't love it.

I debated about not posting a review at all. I wanted very much to be able to support a fellow Christian spec-fic writer, and by no means do I want to tear other authors down. We have to be supportive of each other in order to keep the genre alive! But, should I hold back on bad reviews simply because they are books in my genre?

What do you think? Do we have an obligation to only focus on the positives? Or do we allow ourselves to voice our opinions no matter what?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Notebook Nugget and My Latest Short Story

I decided to combine these two in one post because they're both pretty short.

First things first--you can find my latest short story in the March issue of Digital Dragon Magazine! Check out "Jordan's River" and tell me what you think.

And now, the nugget. This one is another fortune cookie. What can I say, we eat a lot of Chinese food :).

"Success is a journey not a destination. Stop running."

This really made me think. If success is a destination, you'd reach it and...then what? Of course, I want to reach my goal of having my book published. But I can't forget the journey. I've learned so much. I've put in a lot of hard work and am making many accomplishments along the way. I have something to look back on as well as forward to.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ruminations on "Faith Awakened" by Grace Bridges

There are some books I read and can immediately write a review. Others, I need to ruminate on a bit. Faith Awakened by Grace Bridges was the latter.

I haven't read a lot of sci-fi since high school. I'm really not sure why. I love sci-fi movies, and I'm still a Trekkie at heart. But as for books, I seemed to lose interest. When I picked up Faith Awakened, knowing it was a sci-fi, I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to get into it. Not that I didn't think I'd like the writing--I've read short stories by Grace in magazines like Digital Dragon and ResAliens, so I knew the girl can write. But, still I was unsure going in.

First, let me tell you this is not your typical sci-fi. You won't find laser guns or alien invasions. No super-computers bent on taking over the world. No space ships, hover craft, levitating skateboards, or time travel.

Well....maybe the time travel part is close.

But not quite.

This is a hard book to review without giving plot spoilers. It is the story of Mariah, who is one of the Awakened. She is a Believer. A world-wide epidemic hits because of a plant fertilizer formula gone awry. Food becomes the catalyst for the spread of a deadly disease. Mariah and a handful of others are the sole survivors, until...

It is also the story of Faith. A girl with a wonderful life. One that seems almost surreal at times. At other times, she feels as though she's missing something very important and memory loss plagues her now and then. Still, she continues on her search for a closer relationship with God.

Is it despite the empty feelings, or because of them?

It is the story of perseverance, of hope, of a search for meaning. A story of awakening faith in two women with very different lives. But how different are they?

Again, not your typical sci-fi. Written in a very literary style, there's a good amount of narrative. For other authors, that much narrative would have bogged the story down. Grace Bridges makes it work, and work well. The characterization was strong. And I felt a pull to get back to reading when I was forced to put the book down.

You can buy Faith Awakened through Amazon and Splashdown Books. You can learn more about Grace by visiting her website.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scientific Snot

Yeah, gross title for a blog post. Let me explain. I joined a group a while back that allows me to get free books from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for reviews. The group used to be called Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers (or something like that), but recently it's changed to "Book Sneeze." (They did send an email at one point explaining the name change, but I honestly don't remember what it said.)

Basically, you sign up, wait for them to approve you, and then you are free to pick a book. Once you review it and post that review on your blog and at least one other site (like Amazon) you can pick another book. No, you don't have to give them glowing reviews--you can say anything you want as long as you're not rude.

Apparently, though, they don't hold their authors to the same standard.

My most recent selection was The Selfless Gene: Living With God and Darwin by Charles Foster. As someone who LOVES reading books on the Creation-evolution debate, this book intrigued me. And of course, anything that blatantly pokes fun at Richard Dawkins, the crowned prince of neo-Darwin evolutionism, is going to bring a smile to my face. (For those not familiar, Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene that basically said we're all big vehicles "evolved" to carry around our genes, which are the real sentient beings in his warped mind.)

The smile, however, only lasted until I opened the book.

I'll admit now, I didn't read the whole thing. I got about 40 pages in and started skimming. Then I read some other reviews of the book on Amazon, that confirmed what I had gleaned. The book seems to be solely for the purpose of venting anger at two opposing camps. Foster admits in the forward that he wrote the book out of anger. And I'll tell you, it shows in every word!

He pits Creationists and evolutionists against each other, and attempts to disprove both viewpoints without actually offering an alternative. It's a constant cry of, "Both theories are too simplified to be right." Maybe so, but why get angry?

The truth is, as Christians there is only one thing we have to agree on--Jesus as the Son of God. SHOULD we believe God created us? Of course. Otherwise, Jesus being the Son of God is meaningless. Do we HAVE to agree on HOW God created us? No.

I personally am a Young Earth Creationist, although I feel there is a little more to the "six twenty-four-hour periods" than most YEC's are open to. There is a great book called Starlight and Time by D. Russell Humphreys that does a fabulous job of theorizing a way that the universe could have been made in billions of years and yet from the perspective of the earth it would have been six days. It's heady, yeah, and you need to have a decent understanding of physics to be able to even hope to follow it, but it's a stupendous book.

It's one of many, many books I've read on the topics of Creation science and evolutionary theory. And YES, I've read books on both sides. I have a Biology degree, and I've read gobs and gobs of books on evolution--they're called text books :P. I've also read Darwin's On the Origin of Species as well as several books by Dawkins. Suffice it to say, I'm no dummy on the subject.

The Selfless Gene, though, infuriated me. Foster dogs Dawkins at every turn, but writes in very much the same arrogant and condescending style as Dawkins, even to the point of name-calling.

So, in the end, I decided not to finish the book. And, instead of donating it to the library as I do with many other books, this one's going in the trash. Scientific snot getting tossed like the used tissue it is.

And, I suppose, since I defied the rules, this is my last "Book Sneeze."

Achoo, and God bless you.