Y’s Words Wins The Liebster Blog Award

liebster award“Liebster” is a German word for favorite, and the Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers deserving wider recognition, and who have less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to spread the word about these folks and their fine work.

Thanks to Peter Adler (who writes as A. R. Silverberry) for nominating me. I hereby take up the gauntlet and pass it on to eleven more bloggers.

Here are the rules for participation on the Liebster Blog Award:

  1. Tell 11 things about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
  5. Get in contact with those 11 bloggers in order to inform them that you nominated them.

Here are 11 things about myself:

  1. I don’t like TV or movies.
  2. I love just about everything to do with food, from growing it to meal planning to cooking, and especially eating it.
  3. I don’t exercise enough.
  4. Despite #s 2 and 3, I’m not as overweight as you might expect.
  5. My husband and I have owned 23 dogs (not all at the same time). However, now I’m delighted to live in a certified dog-free home.
  6. I have three cowlicks.
  7. Back in the day, I was a pretty fine French horn player.
  8. I love veggie gardening. Flowers, not so much, because you can’t eat them. (Yes, I know, there are edible flowers, but you don’t get much food from a flowerbed.)
  9. I love snow and cold weather.
  10. I learned to read music before written words.
  11. I have never been bowling.

Here are the 11 questions. These have been passed on for a couple of Liebster generations, and I hereby bequeath to the 11 bloggers named at the bottom of this post:

1. Why did you start blogging?
Before I was published, I knew if I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, I’d need an online presence. Blogging was an opportunity to establish one, as well as to showcase my writing, connect with people, and help build a fan base.

2. What is your favorite genre to read?
I read a variety of genres and don’t have a favorite (see #11 below). I like depth and subtle nuance and excellent writing but am not concerned about genre. About the only thing I try to avoid is romance. A little romance within a story is fine, but I don’t like that to be main purpose of the book. I also don’t like ugliness. I’ve been known to quit reading a book because I don’t care to rub shoulders with the slimy characters or live in their dark, hopeless world.

3. What fictional character do you most wish were real?
I consider all well-drawn characters to be real. In fact, better than real, because a fictional character isn’t going to call me on the phone. (See #9 below.)

4. Describe your dream office for writing.
The laptop is a marvelous invention because you can take it just about anywhere. I like my home office, but sometimes when the weather’s warm enough, I prefer the front porch. Wherever I sit, the most important thing is lack of distraction. White noise doesn’t bother me, but voices do (like when the TV is on in the background, which is why I’m sometimes driven outside). Music distracts me too, because I listen to it too actively.

5. Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
Money.

6. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
The Bible.

7. If you could magically transport yourself into any book, which one would you choose, and what character would you be?
Which book? One of my own, I guess! I’ve often wished I could physically go to Gannah and see some of these things I describe. But I think I’d prefer to be a minor character. Maybe Sylvia Dmitry. The main characters are always going through too much trauma.

8. Do you have any phobias?
I wouldn’t say so. I don’t like heights, but I’m not phobic about it.

9. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Oh, wow, I could come up with quite a list. Hmmm… the biggest? Well, I guess I’d have to say things dealing with the telephone. I loathe automated answering systems; trying to communicate with customer service people in other countries makes me want to throw something; unsolicited sales calls take me to the brink, and those calls you get before an election push me over it. But the fact is, I don’t like calls at all. I cringe when the phone rings, and if I need to call someone, I put it off as long as possible and cut it off as soon as I can, because I just don’t like talking on the phone.

10. Describe yourself in five words.
Not comfortable with describing myself. (That was 5 words – but if you prefer, here are 5 more: Let someone else answer this.)

11. Who is your favorite well-known author and your favorite rising star author?
I don’t have a favorite anything – not a color, food, movie, book, author, or whatever. Not sure if this is a problem with decision-making — or if it’s because my favorite anything depends on my current mood, situation, or need — or if there are too many factors to take into consideration and I make the choice more complicated than it needs to be — or if I’m just so wonderfully warm and embracing that I want to include everyone and everything. (I doubt very much that last is the case, because I can think of plenty of things I don’t like.) That said, some of the books I’ve most enjoyed were written by Sir Walter Scott, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Graham Greene, Anne Lamott, Ursula LeGuin, Rawi Hage, Khaled Hosseini, Michael Crichton, Dianne Setterfield, Suzanne Collins, and Athol Dickson.

And now, I hereby nominate the following awesome writer friends and bloggers for this coveted award:

Tessa Stockton
Michelle Griep
Pamela S. Meyers
Angela Joseph
Kelly Klepfer
Bonnie Calhoun
Ane Mulligan
Sally Apokedak
S. Dionne Moore
Lelia Rose Foreman
Pauline Creeden

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Blog Hop: Previewing Ransom in the Rock

gold-oreEarlier this week, my friend Michelle Griep tagged me in a “blog hop,” and I’m playing along.

The rules of the game: I link to Michelle’s blog (check), list the rules (check), answer the ten questions below (getting to that), and tag several more people. (Several? How many is several? I’ll do five – working on it).

So here are the questions:

What is the title of your next book?
The next in the Gateway to Gannah series, which is complete but not yet published: Ransom in the Rock.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s the next in the series and picks up where Words in the Wind left off. Here’s the thing: when I started the first book (The Story in the Stars), I had an end in mind. Problem was, too many things had to happen before we could get there, so I chose another point at which to end. When I started the next book, I figured I’d finish it the way I’d intended to finish Stars, but I ran into the same problem: too much to squeeze in; it would have to be too long of a book. So this third book is the next step toward that end.

What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction from a Christian perspective.

What actors would you choose to play the part in a movie rendition?
I have absolutely no idea. I’m not into movies and don’t know the actors and actresses out there.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
“How much is a life worth? And who will pay the price?” (Yeah, I know; that’s two sentences. Want your money back?)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. It’s the third in my three-book contract with Risen Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Six months. (A personal record.)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Ummm… I’d have to research that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
It all started when I read a little nonfiction book called The Gospel in the Stars. It was written in the 1800s and explained the theory that when God created the heavens and the earth, He put the stars in specific constellations for the purpose of depicting the gospel message for early man to “read.” I was intrigued by the idea and so I decided to write a story in which the characters discover this “story in the stars.” And, as indicated above, Ransom in the Rock is the next step in that adventure.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you’ve read the first two, you might be eager to jump into this one, since Book 2 ended a bit abruptly. I’ve had people tell me they read the ebook and thought their Kindle was broken when they came to the end because it wouldn’t advance to the next page. However, if you’ve never visited Gannah before, I think you’ll enjoy this as a stand-alone. It’s got some fun characters, nifty sci-fi settings, adventure, and even a little romance for a change.

Oh, look, I’m out of questions! Okay, time to tag writers:
Ngaire Elder, Lori Freeland, Virginia Lee, Ralene Burke, Janet Sketchley, you’re it!

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The Last Monday’s Musings: Writer’s Blogs

Max_Elskamp_during_workI could call this Part II, I suppose, since my last Thursday’s Thoughts were about blogging. Or maybe Part III, since on Saturday I announced my decision to no longer provide weekly situation reports. But I won’t assign numbers to these things. I’ll just muse.

Coinciding with my recent thoughts, musings, and cogitations, I ran across a post this morning on the subject of writers and blogging. It’s so appropriate, in fact, that I’ve changed my mind about what to muse on today.

What the writer says about blogging makes as much or more sense than anything else I’ve seen lately. Why? Because it parallels my own opinions on the subject (we always like people who agree with us!) as well as my experience.

Her suggestion that we make our post titles SEO-friendly is one I’d be well advised to follow. Hence the title of this one, “The Last Monday’s Musings.” It’s not that I won’t be sharing my thoughts on Mondays any longer, but that I won’t use that title anymore. No one’s likely to google “Monday’s Musings” (and truly, I think my spell checker should quit underlining google; it’s a well established verb by now), so I’ll try to use titles that are more likely to get picked up by the Web’s spiders. Like for instance, “Writer’s Blogs.”

That reminds me: I should be more thoughtful about tags. When I see how someone else tags things (for instance, my posts on the Speculative Faith blog), my usual reaction is, “Oh, yeah, why didn’t I think of that?” So I hope to put some of my creative energies into effective labeling.

For now, I plan to continue posting twice a week. I’ll probably follow the same Monday and Thursday schedule, eliminating only Saturday. Don’t look for substantial changes in content, though. I’ll still scatter random thoughts across the pages, which thoughts may or may not concern writing.

I don’t expect the blog to sell books or substantially increase my “tribe.” My purpose is to be accessible to my readers (all two dozen of them) online. And for those purposes, I think Y’s Words is on the right track.

 

 

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Saturday Situation Report

reportIt’s Saturday, and here’s the situation: I’ve made my weekly writing goal three weeks in a row! Woo hoo! Last week it took six days to accomplish, and this week I was finished by Thursday. So I don’t think I’m reaching either too high or too low. How much of a stretch it is depends on what else I have going on.

But you know what? Nobody cares but me. So from now on, unless I have something worthwhile to report, I’ll skip the Saturday SitRep.

But since we’re here, I’ll also report that as of this past Monday and my monthly post on the Novel Rocket site, Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest is now open for submissions. If you’re an unpublished novelist and have a complete manuscript to pitch, check out the contest.

Also, it occurred to me recently that I needed to update the About tab on this site, which I did yesterday. Check out the new photo there. It was taken at my son’s wedding in October, and it’s a rare picture of myself I actually like! I have permission from both the photographer and the bride to use it as a professional headshot, so you might see it pop up elsewhere too.

Speaking of my site, I’ve been (more or less) keeping up with my goal of posting one thing I’m thankful for each day for a year on the Thanks 365 tab. I’ll admit I do sometimes forget for a day or two, but I’m always thankful even when I forget to post. So if you click on the tab and see I’m a little behind, take a look back in a day or two; I’ll catch up soon.

On the subject of keeping up to date with things, I’m current with the list of all my interviews, reviews, and blog appearances on the Events tab. In the unlikely event you want to read about my books and their author all over the web, there’s enough there to keep you busy for a while.

So that’s the situation. See you Monday, when I share my musings.

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Thursday’s Thoughts: Blogging

thinkerYeah. Blogging. That’s what I’m thinking about today.

I’ve been blogging consistently for several months now (as opposed to posting whenever I felt like it), and the results have voided the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Because despite Tweeting about old posts and new, and many of my Twitter friends Retweeting very helpfully, not many readers are coming.

Not many are buying books, either.

I’ve been following a discussion in a writer’s group about the benefits of blogging for promotional/book sales purposes, and the others have come to the same conclusion I have. Blogging doesn’t sell books.

There are less tangible benefits to the activity, though. If nothing else, it encourages the habit of consistency and provides practice working under a deadline, even if that deadline is self-imposed. For a writer who struggles to find time to write regularly, it’s good practice–even if you’re not working on your WIP, you’re at least writing blog posts. And the more you write, no matter what it is you’re writing, the better you’ll get. Think of it as homework.

I’ve had people tell me they enjoy the posts. Bringing pleasure to others, and perhaps the occasional inspiration, is a worthy purpose. Sure, my ramblings aren’t for everyone, but those who don’t like them don’t have to read them. (Since I have so few subscribers, there must be a lot of those “don’t like thems” out there!)

But in a world that presents so many demands on our time and offers so many activities to distract us from our purpose, we should frequently evaluate what we squeeze into the inflexible hours allotted to us. Is the time I spend blogging worth it? Should I continue to posting three times a week, or should I cut back to one or two? Or less?

It’s not so much a matter of not having anything to say. I have a running list, in fact, of potential topics. But they aren’t all things I can whip up in a few minutes, and sometimes I don’t want to take the time, so I post meandering stream-of-consciousness that nobody cares to read. (Today’s offering, for example.)

To blog or not to blog, and to what degree? Those are the questions. I won’t be making any decisions today, but the stew is simmering on the back burner of my brain. Here’s hoping it doesn’t scorch. Wait a sec – okay, I just turned the heat way down. It should be okay now.

When it’s done, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Monday’s Musings: It’s All About Story

Back in August, I talked about how the story we write is more important than our writing style and even our message. That’s because a good tale gets a point across better than a good sermon. The reader (or hearer) doesn’t care about the finer points of the delivery if what’s being said captures the imagination.

This was confirmed, underlined, and highlighted for me last week as I read a book by an author I recently “met” on Twitter. I don’t recall how I came across his name or his writing, but something caught my eye, and I looked at his Amazon page. The title of one of his books joined forces with the cover image to shout, “Read me!”  I read the blurb and the one review that had been posted. And this fish was hooked. crooked man's mile cover

Not that I had nothing better to do, mind you. And I wasn’t exactly looking for something to read. But the story intrigued me. Being as cheap as Scrooge, I borrowed the book via Amazon Prime so I could read it for free (sorry, Eric). And since that only allows access to a book for two weeks, I bumped it up to the top of my reading list.

But I was glad I did.

Here are my thoughts on
The Crooked Man’s Mile
by J. Eric Laing

This is the kind of story you think about long after you’ve put it down. The sort of book you can hardly wait to get back to. When I finished it, I was sorry it was over but delighted with the way it wrapped up.

The characters vibrate with three-dimensional realism. When you meet them you say, “Hey, I know that guy!” or, “Oh, yeah, I remember her from grade school.” Even the minor characters are multi-dimensional and have believable motives; there’s not a cardboard cut-out in the bunch.

The descriptions are so clear you have no trouble envisioning the scenes. The story has such depth and resonance you have to keep reminding yourself it’s fiction.

Speaking of resonance, take the title, which sublimely suggests a combination of the child’s nursery rhyme and the traditional prayer about not judging another until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. The man in the story is crooked in body and soul, but by walking in his shoes, the reader becomes a bit less critical of people who don’t fit the accepted standard of “normal.” All this flows easily and comfortably, worming its way into the heart without grating or sermonizing.

But here’s the thing: when I first began reading, I wanted to get out my critiquer’s pen and start slicing and dicing. Technically speaking, according to all the things we’re taught about what’s good writing and what we should avoid, this is not a particularly well-written book. There are many difficulties, ranging from wordiness, too much “telling” at the beginning to misuse of words and minor spelling and grammatical errors, and bouncing around from one time frame to another with dizzying distraction.

However. I hadn’t gotten very far into this story before all those things fell by the wayside, much as you’d shed that jacket you needed in the morning but no longer want as the day grows warm. As a writer, I still noticed the issues, but they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

That was the essence of my review I posted on Amazon. But there’s more on my mind that I didn’t say there because it’s not relevant except in the world I move in (Christian fiction):

No one could call this story Christian fiction. But God, Christianity, and the church receive more than passing mention; and when these things appear, they’re portrayed with great honesty. You’ll find no gospel message here, but there are poignant examples of love, forgiveness, and redemption. The author makes no attempt to persuade the reader to consider the truth of God; however, his realistic portrayal of life confirms the truth of God, even though he makes no mention of it. No reader would find himself drawn to the gospel of Christ through reading it. In that—and only in that—I found the story lacking. But at the same time, I’m inspired.

EricThis author portrays the world honestly, neither whitewashing nor befouling the images. I’ve learned a lot over the years about the craft of writing, and I shouldn’t be lazy about employing the things I’ve been taught. But more important than skillful technique, as this book showed me, is the story itself.

J. Eric Laing could teach us all a thing or two about telling a story clearly, honestly, and with unfeigned love.

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Saturday SitRep

reportHappy Saturday!

The weather is crazy-warm — supposed to be in the sixties (Fahrenheit) the next couple of days, which for January is ridiculous. All the snow is gone. But since it’s only January, I expect we’ll see more before long.

I’ve been preparing to launch this year’s edition of the Novel Rocket contest on Monday and things are moving along nicely there.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been making good progress on my WIP.  Though I haven’t quite reached my weekly goal, I’m close, and the week’s not over. I have no doubt that I’ll start next week right where I want to be.

I’m also happy with my post on Speculative Faith Wednesday. It was fun. Now all I have to do is figure out what to write about next time. (The eternal puzzle!)

Hoping you all have a good weekend!

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