Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Cover is Here: The Waiting!

It's official! Here's the new cover for The Waiting, book #2 in the "Lancaster County Secrets" series, which will release October 1st.

Covers are far more complex than you might think. I'm grateful to my publisher, Revell, for putting so much care into getting details right. The model is wearing a cap that is true to Lancaster-style prayer caps--it has a heart shape in the back. The model's hair color is important in this story, too. The main character, Jorie King, has coppery colored hair. The fence was my brilliant editor's idea--it acts as a metaphor for the reader. The reader is crossing into another world.

Titles are a challenge, too. The Waiting was chosen because when we meet Jorie (whom you'll love!), she is at a point where her life is on hold. This story is set in 1965, and Jorie is waiting for Ben Zook to return from serving as a Conscientious Objector in Vietnam. She's waiting for Ben to settle down and join the church. She's waiting to marry him.

Until the past collides with Jorie's tenuous future.

On other title news, I found out this morning that Book #3 in the "Lancaster County Secrets" series will be officially titled The Search. That book will be available in January 2011 (though it will probably start trickling into stores in December).

Tomorrow's blog will be an interview with author Philip Yancey, graciously shared by Amy Sondova from her fascinating blog, Backseat Writer. Tune in tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Losing the Big "L"

Ii was asked to speak to a group this morning about the question, "What was your day of freedom from shomething that held you back?"

I thought I'd share with you part of my answer - an excerpt from my book, Mom NEEDS Chocolate, about adopting a winning attitude.

"When I was in high school, I was always second best. Number two position on the tennis team, red ribbon in the science fair, vice president of the student body; and I finished one tenth of a point behind my best friend's GPA.

I couldn't actually win anything. I was afraid that if I really tried, I would fail and be humiliated. Far from living large, I was living lukewarm. Not hot, nearly cold. I just couldn't - or wouldn't - put out that extra effort to achieve.

But a funny thing hapened about eight years after high school. I had kids. My viewpoint began to change. The passive little girl who'd always accepted her lot in life as second best got, well, fired up.

I wanted - no, demanded - the very best for my kids. I intended for them to reach for the stars and be all they could possibly be.

Second best wasn't good enough. Not for them, and not for me.

Philippians 4:13 lit a spark that blazed in my soul. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Was it true? The verse didn't say some things, it said all things. I finally had a creed, a powerful truth to cling to, the spur I needed to give me confidence to lead by example in going for the gold in pursuing my life goals and encouraging my children that they could, too.

I'd been blessed with a natural affinity for the written word and always dreamed of being a writer. So I dared to try. I now write Christian magazine articles and books with the single goal of expanding God's kingdom. "

Fear was my limiter. My jailer. My oppressor.

So how about you, dear friend? Would you share with me your day of emancipation?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Secret Agent Writer

What is it about calling ourselves a writer that makes the liver quiver and face turn the color of ripe tomatoes?

Last weekend, while visiting an out-of-town church where I had just done a speaking presentation the day before, I was approached by a doe-eyed, 30-something woman in a crowded room.

"Hi. I'm Ellen."

"Hi, Ellen, I'm Debbie."

"I know who you are. And I know what you do."

"What I do?" The way she said it made me wonder which of my secret vices she was privy to.

"Yes. I want to ask you a question." Ellen's eyes darted covertly around the room. She stepped closer and lowered her voice. "I ... I'm going to a writer's workshop in a few weeks and want to know how I should prepare."

"Oh, really? So you're a writer, too?" My voice mirrored my enthusiasm in meeting a kindred spirit.

Ellen's face flushed and she raised both hands as if fending off a blow. "Shhh." She glanced nervously around and whispered, "Nobody knows. And I don't want them to."

I had to smile. I remembered all too well my early writing days when I, too, was a secret agent writer, fearful of being judged and found wanting. Fearful that by exerting my meager literary skills, people would deem me cheeky, impudent, unaware of my limited abilities.

I didn't tell anyone until after my third magazine article was published - not even my own mother. (Perhaps that had something to do with her always correcting my grammar, even as an adult.) It was a good year into my secretive career before I stopped correcting people who called me a writer.

"Oh, no - I'm not a real writer. I'm just a story-teller."

It's a process to admit - even to yourself - that you're a writer. We're not sure what the term actually encompasses and we're hesitant to label ourselves with so austere a title. But I've come to realize that being a writer has less to do with external justification (whether we're published or not) and more to do with internal fortitude.

If you can't not write, honey, you're a writer. Admit it. Accept it. Embrace it.

(Be sure to check out the excellent chapter about dealing with preparing for writer's conferences in Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, beginning on page 207.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's a gift!

A few nuggets of wisdom from highly successful inspirational writers:

"If you're a new writer, just starting out on this incredible journey, face the fact that it easily can be a one-step forward, two-steps backward adventure.

Fortify yourself with plenty of prayer, patience, and perseverance - unless you're the exception, you'll eventually need a lion's share of each. Be prepared to deal with the bitter as well as the sweet. But don't let the frustrations and disappointments ever overshadow your joy in and your apprciation for tthe git you've been given.

And don't forget that it is a gift. Nothing more, nothing less."
~ BJ Hoff, best-selling author

" I used to compartmentalize my writing from my Christian life. I wrote secular romances with sex and profanity, and because I was publishing everything I wrote, I told myself God was blessing it. But He wasn't.

God never blesses sin, and my writing was not only sinful, I believe it led others into sin. After 32 books published, the Lord orchestrated things in my life to draw me back to Him. I finally realized that He wants every area of our lives. He had given me the gift of writing so that I could glorify Him, but I was using that gift to do just the opposite.

I got down on my knees and repented and told the Lord I didn't want to write anything else that didn't glorify Him. Since that time, He has blessed my work immensely. I wish I'd committed my writing to Him years earlier."
~ Terri Blackstock, best-selling author

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Doused by the Newest iWave

So have you heard the news?

No doubt you're quite aware of Apple's brand spankin' new iPad. But what you may not know is that publishing biz folks think this new gizmo is about to set the industry back on its heels like nothing since the printing press.

Why the big hooha? Well, it's a bit complicated and I do recommend you read the blazing insider blogs burning up cyberspace as we speak, but basically Apple is breaking new ground not only in attempting to usurp Amazon's world's largest bookseller status, but in completely altering the economics of eBooks for both publishers and authors for all time to come.

In my opinion, the economics needed to be shaken up. So this is not a bad thing.

Amazon has been lording its eBook czar-ship with a heavy hand in limiting Kindle books at $9.99, despite publishers fighting for $12.99 or $14.99 for hard copies that sell for $24.99. As authors, we're acutely aware of the paltry royalties we earn on the $24.99 book sale; the pittance we receive for the eBook won't buy a twin pack of ink.

And I've been irritated with Amazon anyway for years of threatening to drop self-published and small press-published books created outside of their own profit-lined walls. Greedy, greedy, greedy.

And then there's the Macmillan thing. Scary, that. Last week, Amazon, apparently miffed over recent faltering negotions with the prestigious publishing house, Macmillan, up and pulled every single Macmillan book not only from, but free sample chapters that had been downloaded from Amazon onto Kindles suddenly disappeared into thin air.

Poof. Gone. How'd they do that?

Can we really control the eBooks we purchase ... or not? Could they, too, be sucked into an electronic black hole one day?

So from my POV (that of an author watching her dwindling royalties sail into the sunset), I'm a little relieved that someone is making waves. I just hope the waves don't eVolve into the perfect storm and capsize those of us in dingy's trying to stay afloat.