Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Month of Love

February is upon us and we know what that means.

Hearts, yummy chocolates (with nuts), lovely flowers or plants, sweet perfumes, and smooth lotions...what about other aromatic items that often end up on our pillows, at our dressers, in the lady's powder room? But I still find myself returning to those nut-filled chocolates for our tummies, but definitely not for the waistline.

And how could I forget the scented candles?

Whatever they are, I'm sure they make you smile as I do, just because of the love that is shared when they are given.

And how about when we share with someone else?

What is your favorite emblem of romance?

My favorite things around this time of year are little Victorian heart sachets. I have them all over the place and still never tire of them. I also love visiting the antique store to see what beautiful item of yesteryear I can find to add to the decor of my old parlor or place in my victorian style powder room.

When I am sitting at my laptop writing, if I have candles lit or flowers blooming, I find I often have more of an incentive to keep my mind on romance.

I love those things that make a woman a woman.

What is it that turns you into a true romantic during this month of valentines?


Linore Rose Burkard creates Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul, taking readers back in time to experience life and love during the Regency England era (circa 1800 – 1830). Ms. Burkard’s novels include Before the Seasons Ends and her upcoming The House in Grosvenor Square. Ms. Burkard began writing when she couldn’t find a Regency romance with an inspirational twist. “There were Christian books that approached the genre,” she says, “But, they fell short of being a genuine Regency. I knew that many women like me wanted stories that are historically authentic and offer glimpses of God’s involvement in our lives. So, I finally gave up looking and decided to write one myself."

Raised in New York, Ms Burkard graduated from the City University of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. She lives with her husband and five children in a town full of antique stores and gift shops in southwestern Ohio.

We welcome you, Linore.
SKC: Before you tell us about your writing, we’d like to know what you do when you are not sitting at your computer!

LB: That’s an easy one. I am a mother of five kids, so I always have something to do. If I’m not writing or reading, I’m planning meals, or cooking, or driving someone somewhere, or cleaning up. They say a woman’s work is never done, and I can certainly attest to that! As a family we all like to watch movies (no TV), and we often stop everything to watch a flick together in the evenings. I don’t do this too often, obviously, or I’d never finish my online tasks—and when I’m on a deadline I skip movies all together, except for an occasional treat.

SKC: I can see that you are a busy lady. Now, Linore, will you tell us about that favorite part of your newest book?

LB: My favorite part—hmmm. One of them is when the heroine finds herself abducted suddenly and without warning. The “henchman” who was sent by the real bad guy is a character in more than one sense of the word! I had fun writing him and the way Ariana reacts to him and her situation. I love his speech patterns—call it uneducated 19th century Yorkshire-inspired.

SKC: Speech patterns have always fascinated me as well. What inspired you to begin writing in the first place and what keeps you going?

LB: I wanted to read a book that didn’t exist. Period. I finally started writing book-length fiction to get the read I was looking for. Before the Season Ends was the result of that.

SKC: I look forward to reading it. How do you come up with some of your dialogue in your book to keep it realistic with each character?

LB: I think if you know your characters, they will pretty much speak for themselves. I hardly ever struggle with, “now what should this person say?” My problem is more likely having them say too much, and then I have to cut portions.

SKC: You and me, both. I am always interested in other writers’ favorite writing helps books. What are some you’ve used to help you in your craft and that you would recommend to both new and experienced writers?

LB: I’m not a big fan of writing craft books, and not because I don’t think they have value; it’s just that I’m very impatient and I want to get started writing, already! I did use a book, experimentally, to try and fast-forward my writing process, though, and I’d recommend it. I’m planning on using it again with my next manuscript. “First Draft in 30 Days,” by Karen Weisner. I don’t use all her suggestions, but I found some very useful. Anything that can help you bypass what slows you down in your writing or revision process is worth looking into. The other books that help me most would be those that reveal the regency to me, since I write regency inspirational romance.

SKC: I haven't yet read any of Karen Weisner's work. How do you settle in on creating your settings? Your backgrounds? Creating your color schemes? Any magic formula?

LB: No, no magic formula. But if you’ve got a story to tell, it starts somewhere. I just follow the story. I mean, yes, I chose to write regency romance, so my setting is the period in history known as the Regency. That gives me my focus, in a broad sense. Then, when I have imagined a heroine and her problems, she has to be somewhere in that world, in the city or the country. This narrows my focus. All writers do this, I mean, you have to start with a story, and that dictates the setting. Everything else is atmosphere. You asked about color schemes, so, if I wanted to show that a character is wealthy, I would choose words and colors to support that. Using historical research as a help, you find that your choices will be limited. You don’t just pull things out of a hat, I guess is what I’m trying to say. There are reasons why the Regent’s drawing room will be blue and gold, while the poor country tenant’s house will be brown and drab. Some of it is just common sense.

SKC: Do you have any point in your novel writing when you come to a stand still? If so, what do you do to get yourself going again?

LB: I do something else, preferably something that makes me physically active, such as quick, thorough cleaning, or a good walk, or a stint on the treadmill. My mind gets a second wind, so to speak, by doing things. Sometimes I’ll break and get dinner ready for later, so I can just pop it in the oven. While I’m doing these other things, I often find the idea I need will suddenly be there.

SKC: What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer, Linore?

LB: I’ve learned that even the best writers need another pair of eyes, and preferably a trained pair, to go over their manuscripts. Good editing of a manuscript is important. I have very good editing skills, and this helped me enormously when I self-published my first book; (Before the Season Ends, which was picked up by Harvest House), but I still should have sought a professional editor, only I didn’t know that. Also, no matter your skill level, it’s a good idea to have other authors read your work before publication to get some feedback. If you don’t have authors to read, ask other avid readers. A really good reader will know if a book works or not.

SDC: As we are learning more about you we would love to know about some of your favorite books as a child. Tell us about them. Did they have any effects on how you write today?

LB: My childhood reading was wonderful, and I think did influence me. I loved the Little House books, The Yearling, The Rats of NIMH, all the classics. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes was my treasured, all-time favorite, and still is under-valued, I think, by the world. We lived only a few blocks from a small public library, and I spent a lot of time choosing books there. I always walked home with my arms full and a feeling of having just found some buried treasure.

SDC: How do you chose your market, specifically, and will you spread your wings further in the future by doing something other than Regency?

LB: “Choose my market?” I’m not sure what you mean by that. As for doing other writing, I do hope to “spread my wings,” yes. I’ve already written lots of stuff in other genres, even children’s books, but I’m happy to focus on regencies for now. I do have a few contemporary stories that nag at me now and then, however. One is virtually finished, and others are waiting in the wings.

SDC: What is next on the horizon for you in your writing?

TC: Actually, I’m waiting to hear from my editor right now on whether I can do a third installment (and final one) for the Regency Series with Harvest House, or if I’ll finish a stand-alone regency that’s about halfway done. I’d like to do both this year, frankly, so we’ll see what contracts I get!

SDC: I understand, Linore, you have a book to offer to one of our guests that write in. We appreciate that. Do you have any specific question you would like the readers to ask about?

LB: I offer a short story, not a book. The story I wanted to offer was a historical, but due to a nasty pc virus, the file with that story on it is not accessible right now. My husband is working on that. The story I have to offer in the meantime is a contemporary short, mildly romantic, more suspenseful. I’m hoping to get at my other file soon, and I’ve started another historical short in hopes of being able to offer it if I can’t get to the first one.

SDC: And finally, where can we find you?

LB: At my brand new website. I have some great reader resources available and you don’t even have to sign up. Of course, if you want to know when I create more of them, do get on my newsletter list. I only send mail about once a month, and I never share or sell my subscriber emails.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

What Will You Commit To?

I hope you, like me, are doing your best to keep those little vows and commitments you made within your heart during the month of January. Those plans on how you might make this year a little bit better than last year.

We all have our ups and downs, our trials and our blessings. But have you often considered the importance of a vow you make either with yourself or with God?

Always, remember, as we learn so well from King David, how a vow is like a debt a person owes. When we make a promise to God or to ourselves, it is so important to consider that which we have promised, and then do our best to follow through on that pledge we've made. Even it is with ourselves.

I know we won't be sorry we did. Especially if that commitment was important enough for us to make it in the first place.

Have you thought about a promise you have made in the last few weeks? Did you place it in your journal so you wouldn't forget? How are you doing in fulfilling it?
I would love to hear how you are doing. It is so good to encourage one another in these types of things. Drop me a line and I'll share with you mine too. I can use all the support from around me I can get.

I look forward to hearing from you! A copy of my new devotional will go to the name I select when I draw names in a few weeks.


Another Short Excerpt from SIMPLE THINGS (coming in February).

It is All in How You Bake It

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work, and increasing
in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10

One of my favorite times of year occurs when the end of a long-hot summer is just around the bend, and I can see it changing to what many call an Indian summer autumn. I love the altering colors of the leaves ~ the oranges, browns, greens, the tinted purples.

Many of my friends, who live here in the country, begin harvesting fruits and vegetables for pies and canning this time of year—apples, pears, corn, long skinny beans, glossy green zucchini, acorn squash, and of course early pumpkins and sweet potatoes that make the best pies in the world.

With the end of summer arriving, children from neighboring households will have returned to school, the majority of them more than ready. Campers will have begun shaking out their resident camping bugs, and rolling up their sleeping bags and tents from all those holiday trips with families and friends.

Me? I begin watching the craft store re-stock its shelves, knowing people similar to me will soon be looking for that perfect skein of yarn for that next Christmas afghan project. I am nimbling up my fingers as I get ready to work on those cross-stitch projects I started early last spring and never completed (or was it the spring before).

As I work my way through my house, I notice in my back bedroom, the shelves of my old mahogany know, the one that holds my favorite rainy-weather books that collected dust over the summer months. Those will, once again, once I clear them out, be able to breathe a sigh of open relief. (Books need to breathe too. You didn't know that?) Besides, at this time of year, I look forward to a good read at the sign of the first autumn drizzle.

Country kitchen baking time is just around the corner too. Do you enjoy baking homemade apple pies and canning vegetables?

I have a friend…actually a couple or three, who can make pies that will stop a train full of travelers! People who know about those pies drool at the thought of even just one bite.

Some of my pies, other than my apple and pumpkin, on the other hand, have always been somewhat difficult to swallow, let alone chew.

There was a time when I was the last person invited anywhere to bring dessert to a potluck. (I’m a little better now. It happens when you mature....)

But at many potlucks, I am sometimes stuck with simple Caesar salads—Romaine lettuce, a plastic container of freshly shredded parmesan, flavored croutons, and a good bottle of Marie’s best Caesar dressing, (hold the fish please).

We all go through seasonal changes—like those vegetables and that fruit, I mentioned earlier.

Tell me something. Have you ever thought of yourself as the fruit in an apple pie? Try doing it.

The flaky, tantalizing crust, the shell that holds in the fruit in this instance, would represent your flesh, that which often is good to look at but containing no nutritional value whatsoever. Mabye it is because we know it is the lard that makes it.

(Okay, not that you would like to be considered as little more than a bundle of lard. Sorry about that.) Here is something better.

I recently read in the book of Psalms that when I stay connected to the Lord and allow His Holy Spirit to fill me up and minister to me, I am actually like a fruit tree. That sounds better than just a tub of lard.

You are that fruit tree too.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalm 1:3

Okay, then. How fruitful is your pie today? How juicy are your apples? When your summer days begin changing to the crisp look of autumn, how much time will you take to increase in your personal fruitfulness with the Lord?

Colossians 1:10 says “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

I confess, I usually have more than a few rough and tumble days during the season of summer. In the last few months, I remember sharing with so many of my friends about the importance of trusting and believing God, and growing in faith by stepping out in my faith, placing total dependence on God in which I believe so strongly.

In reality, however, I found myself doubting, worrying, or fretting about everything, afraid to move out for fear of personal failure.

It showed me that my apple pie (or rather me) looked more like an apple pit. It had little taste. My flaky crust was just a great big impressive puffy pie full of a lot of hot air ready to pop.

Oh dear!

There's still hope. I’m glad to say, God in all His goodness and graciousness did not let me down, nor does He ever. He accepted my half-baked pie regardless of my lard-filled crust and shriveled fruit. What He did observe was at least I continued practicing with my baking skills.

Do you?
I mean, do you believe that too?

It is not only in how we bake whatever it is we are baking, it is what is contained within.

When I remember to add a good portion of God’s fresh living water to my circular mass, I add that necessary and crucial ingredient, His Holy Spirit, which is what gives my fruit the life and flavor it needs anyway. Without that, my pie (my life) would just turn into a shriveled up old prune tart—good for nothing but the water closet at the end of a long hard day.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like a shriveled up prune? God’s faithful living water will make the difference.