Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Plotting Circle

Yes, I'm chuckling right along with this cute kitty cat. Yesterday
I had the great fun of speaking to the Oklahoma City Metro Writers'. What a delightful group of ladies and men! --The kind of folks you like to hang out with who are so supportive and enthusiastic. Many of the attendees seemed to find the material really useful, so perhaps, if you're a writer, you would too.
My topic was using mythic story structure to create a plotting circle for a novel. Now, while that sounds all academic, it's not really. It's a technique I've devised to make my life simpler. Whenever I start a new book, I draw a circle and use the mythical 'hero's journey' to lay out the bare bones basics as a guideline. Then, as I write, this guide keeps me focused on the major points that have to be in the story.
If you're interested in an abbreviated version of the plotting circle, check out my website under "For Writers". I'm currently revising that article to include more detail and better explanation so stay tuned!!

And if you'd like to hear me teach this topic in person, I'll be speaking at the Red River Romance Writes in Wichtia Falls, Texas, June 5. So come on down!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pajama Gram

Ever heard of a pajama gram? I hadn't. Until today that is when one arrived on my doorstep via one of my favorite guys--the UPS driver. It seems my awesome, fabulous sister-in-law and brother decided I deserved to relax and get some rest. So they sent me a pajama gram, complete with ' mini vacation' door hanger, mini pillow, and a pair of the cutest 'coffee cup' pjs.. If I have time tomorrow, I'll snap a pix and share it with you. So cute!

I have a great family. Thanks, SIL!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Neighbors

For GREEN wedding tips visit The Wedding PLanners' Blog:

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

Robert Frost said 'good fences make good neighbors.'

I live in the country so we have fences everywhere, more for cows and horses than for people though. Last night, my incredible neighbors threw a party and guess who was the guest of honor? Me. They came together with a delicious potluck dinner to celebrate my RITA nomination. Now, mind you, these are not writers. These big-hearted folks don't have a clue what the RITA is, and I'm probably the most reclusive neighbor they have due to living in my office and in my head most of the time as well as being shy, but they did this for me anyway.

I cannot tell you how blessed I feel.

Mr. Frost was wrong. Good people make good neighbors. Forget the fences.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tag, I'm it!!

I was just moseying along minding my own business when my friend, Shirley Jump (well, I thought she was my friend :-) tagged me. The idea is to post six random things about myself and then tag six friends to do the same. Random things? Or rambling? I ramble better than anything so maybe that will work, otherwise I’m as boring as oatmeal.

Tagging Rules:
a. Link to the person who tagged you.

b. Post the rules on your blog.

c. Write six random things about yourself.

d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.

e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.

f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

1. This is going to sound completely anti-woman, anti-American, anti-everything, but I have to confess to a terrible shortcoming. I hate to shop. It’s true. I wish I liked shopping, but the shopping gene never developed in me. I’m so sorry. Please, women of the world, forgive me.

2. My last child was born at home with only my husband in attendance. Something in me (insanity connected with loss of the shopping gene), always wanted to be a pioneer woman, I think. I’m also a control freak and hospitals seem to take control away. So with my last son, I decided to have him at home. Everything went smoothly and other than being almost as nuts as his mom, Cody turned out to be the healthiest child I had.

3. When I was 10, my family and I were in a tornado. Really. We were sitting at the kitchen table having dinner while huge hail pelted the windows. In those days weather reporting in Oklahoma was not what it is today, so we had no idea a whirling monster was coming our way until Dad spotted it through the front window. I’ll never forget the spastic trembling in my bones or the appearance of that tornado—from sky to ground, an arrowhead shaped black monster, gobbling up everything in its path. When the neighboring dairy farm went up like confetti, we ran. Somehow, by God’s grace, we escaped with the tornado over our shoulder, the winds so unbelievable they blew me and my brother into a chain-link fence. Only Dad’s strong, adrenaline-pumped arms managed to get us into the cellar. Yes, we lost everything in that storm but each other, and for years after I fell apart every time it thundered - and I was terrified of “The Wizard of Oz”.

4. The movie I’ve watched more than any other is Tombstone. I can repeat Doc Holliday’s dialogue almost as well as Val Kilmer. Don’t ask me why a romance writer loves that movie so much. I have no idea. Must be that pioneer spirit again. But “I’ll be your huckleberry.”

5. Number three was too long. Sorry about that. This will be short. As I write this, I have ‘walking’ pneumonia. My mind’s eye envisions these little bacteria with big, heavy, hobnail boots tromping around in my left lung. The little buggers hurt too!

6. The most exciting thing in my life right now is not being a RITA finalist, although that ranks pretty high. It’s being a new grandma to son Cody’s baby. Yes, this is the same Cody that survived a pioneer birth at home. Life is good.

Now, that you’ve endured all that, my tags go to far more interesting folks: I'm still conjuring up the other one. If I had any friends before, they're gone now!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Finding my books

I get letters. Lovely, brilliant folks who like my writing often contact me to ask where to get my books. I love these people and I really want to make them happy. The problem is this: Both Love Inspired and Harlequin Romance, the two publishers I write for are known as 'category' or 'series' romance. That means, the books hit the shelves every month and are available everywhere books are sold for that month. Then, like the last spoon of ice cream, they disappear to be replaced by the next month's books. After that, the best and often only place to find them is at on-line bookstores that continue to carry them as long as they are in print.

My "Brothers' Bond" series has generated more mail (and awards!) than any books I've ever written and even though the last one was published last summer, I still get frantic (I love enthusiastic readers) emails from people who have read one or two and now want the rest. As hard as I have begged Steeple Hill to reprint those books, it hasn't happened yet. However, I did get a good bit of news. The first of the books is coming out in hardback from Thorndike Press very soon. Hopefully, the others will too. So, if you've missed the series the first go-round, stalk or for the hardback version.

Thanks so much for asking!!

P.S. Don't forget to visit the Wedding Planners' Blog for lots of fun and a chance to win a great prize.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aging Parents

It's funny how you never see it coming, and then one day you realize your only parent is getting old. Not just older, but old. To the point that suddenly, you become the parent of an adult who still thinks he can take care of himself, but who clearly can't.

I'm been incredibly sad about this for the past few weeks as I make decisions I never wanted to make. I want to have the grace and courage to do this right.

Ya'll pray for me, okay?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shirley Hailstock

If you haven't read a Shirley Hailstock book, you're missing out. She's a hoot. Jump over the Wedding Planners' Blog and read about a hilariously clueless bride she once sold a dress to. You're gonna love it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Great Contest Going On!

Click over for a chance to win a tote bag filled with goodies, books, including a $25 gift certificate to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Wow! Who couldn't use that?

Linda g

Friday, April 11, 2008

10-10 phone numbers

Any of you ever try to call internationally? I 'd never done it before today, but after "my" Ukranian orphan girls called me at 3 a.m., I had to make sure they were okay. After an hour of trying and searching, I finally figured out how to use a 10-10 number. They're a lot cheaper than ATT! But much more confusing to use. First you have to know the country code, which I didn't. I left this out or did something wrong anyway and ended up reaching a Spanish speaking country. No habla Espanol is the limit of my Spanish, so I hung up.

Finally, after many tries I reached Vika and Masha at their orphanage. They were fine. Someone had let them use a cell phone and they wanted to talk to me. Sweet girls. Even though my Russian is horrid and they don't speak English, we laughed and had fun for a few minutes. I didn't even mention the time difference.

Now, I'm afraid to get my phone bill! EEEK.

Anyone have any secrets for calling abroad? I'd love to know them.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stormy Weather

The old song applies to Oklahoma today! Last night at 3 a.m. a huge thunderstorm moved through. We have one of those weather alert radios which wakes us up in bad weather, so we got up to check out the storm. Our dog, a rat terrier, is terrified of thunder so he was a nuisance and a total wreck. The vet gave us some anxiety tablets for him, but they don't seem to have much effect. When Mugsy is awake and scared, everyone is awake.

To add to the fun and excitement, our telephone rang, not once but several times. With lightning crashing and sizzling the lines, I wasn't too sure about answering. When we did, we were dismayed to find it was a child, calling from Ukraine, that we had hosted one Christmas. It was 11 a.m. in Ukraine. This was the first time ever she'd called, so I was very disappointed that the lightning cut us off.

Anyway, in all this fun, we received 5 inches of rain! We're going to appreciate that much better in August when the dry heat attacks.
How's the weather in your neighborhood????

Monday, April 07, 2008

Agent Research

I've been researching literary agents. Never having worked with agent, although I've had 29 book sales, I started to get interested in maybe, perhaps, someday hiring one. So I set out to find out as much as I could. I'm not done by any means, but a number of folks have asked to see my list. In a total act of self-interest, I decided to post the list here for your perusal. Please, please read my disclaimer. I'm researching and open to corrections and additions.


Disclaimer: This is a personal list of info I’ve been gathering for my own use. Since I write both secular and Christian fiction, I wanted to find agents who not only are willing to work in both ABA and CBA, but who have shown a successful track record in both arenas. This list does pretend to be all inclusive and there could be errors. If you know for certain of a correction or an additional agent who works in both CBA and ABA, please let me know. I want to make this as correct as possible. Where possible I listed a website.

2008 - Agents who work in both CBA and ABA

Karen Solem – former editor, has been an agent a long time. Very successful and well respected. Colleen Coble’s agent. According to an article here, CBA authors make up 20% of her clientele with the rest being ABA. Could not find a website for her agency.

Natasha Kern - Robin Hatcher’s agent. Comfortably sells in both ABA and CBA. Well respected and successful agent. Not specifically Christian.

Browne/Miller Literary Formerly the late Jane Jordan Browne’s agency. Agents Angela Hunt. Probably not for category writers, but is respected in both ABA and CBA.

Claudia Cross – Sterling Lord literistics, Inc. was listed on the Thomas Nelson site as a recent sale (2-08) but a former author told me she is no longer taking CBA authors. She does have several CBA authors listed as well as many ABA authors.

Deidre Knight & Pamela Harty (Knight Agency)– website shows she’s recently sold to a number of ABA AND CBA houses. An author who has used her told me Deidre had backed off CBA somewhat. An agent with a strong rep. Has a blog.

Janet Benrey, Mostly CBA but says she will work in ABA as well. Has several sales on her website to both.

Jennifer Jackson - Donald Maass Agency – agents Shelly Bates (Faithwords) Lots of ABA but Shelly was the only CBA author I found.

Chip McGregor – mostly CBA sales, but a good number in ABA. Has had NYT bestsellers(Let’s Roll) and other very successful writers in the past. Several authors sang his praises.

Mary Sue Seymour -- Takes only romance and Christian work. She has sales to big ABA houses and several CBA. Has sold to Steeple Hill.

Wendy Lawson & Janet Kobobel Grant – Books and Such Agency. Primarily CBA. Agents Gayle Roper, plus a number of CBA authors (Robin Jones Guinn). Didn’t see any other ABA authors besides Gayle who sells to Steeple Hill.

Kelly Mortimer – small client list, a few sales in both arenas. Robin Miller’s agent (LIS)

Other agencies someone sent me:

Alive Communications – Major CBA Agency with many high-profile authors. Karen Kingsbury, Jerry Jenkins, etc. Found no ABA sales other than Love Inspired.

Steve Laube - His website says his focus is the CBA. He does have a number of Steeple Hill (ABA) authors. Former editor, strong in CBA.

Pattie Steele Perkins – can’t find a website so I have no info on her sales but she has several LI authors including LIH and HH author, Vicki Bylin. She does sell mostly in the ABA, I believe. No knowledge of sales into CBA houses.

Pam Hopkins – has some LI authors but isn’t that comfortable working with CBA publishers. She told me this herself. A great lady, honest and well respected in ABA.

Three Seas Agency –I checked her list of books sold for the last two years. Many ABA sales but none to a CBA house. Has sold to Steeple Hill LIS (Lisa Mondelllo)

Same with Pema Brown

Holly Root - The Waxman Agency - According to their website, this agency has many, many nonfiction sales and smattering of fiction, including two or three CBA sales of late.

Meredith Bernstein – One Steeple Hill author I know of but no evidence of working with CBA houses. No website found. A well known and respected ABA agent with NYT bestselling authors. Tough negotiator.

Sha-Shana Chrichton – says she accepts insp. romance, but I cannot find any place where she’s sold to CBA.

Hartline agency – all agents seem interested in taking on both, but other than Love Inspired and Avalon, I didn’t find any ABA sales..

Marcy Posner-Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Can’t find any sales record on her or her interest list.

Elaine English – Website specifically says she does not take inspirational books

Caren Johnson - Caren Johnson Literary Agency. No Christian authors on her website. No CBA sales

Friday, April 04, 2008


Don't forget to visit the Wedding Planners blog!

RITA flowers

I write for an awesome publisher! Look what the executive officers of Harlequin Enterprises sent me as a congratulations gift for my book, A TOUCH OF GRACE, finaling in the RITA contest.

Thanks, Harlequin! I feel doubly blessed.

(I tried to post a photo of me, red-eyed from writing, holding this glorious bouquet, but I guess I scared Blogger. It wouldn't load the photo!)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Firefighters and research

Writing books can be a taxing occupation. Research, on the other hand, is just plain fun. Take for instance my work in progress, a Love Inspired romance with a firefighter hero. Other than having a son who is a firefighter I know little about the job. So, being a good mom, I strong armed my son into a visit to the fire station. Not only did the guys of Norman Station One show me around, explain all the equipment and let me climb on the fire truck, they let me ride along on a call! How exciting to fly down the street in a brand new state of the art fire engine with the sirens and lights blaring. Fortunately, the call was minor so I don't have to feel too bad about enjoying it so much.

I tried to take photos of those good looking guys, but every time I aimed the camera, they scattered like cockroaches! I did, however, manage to force two cuties to pose for me. Enjoy!

And thanks to all the great FF at Station One. You guys are awesome!