Monday, April 30, 2012

A HomeSchooling Virtuous Writer Mom! Come Read About Katy Lee!

Even wonderful home-schooling moms, who love to write, can find  that spare time to author a book if her heart is into it, and Katy Lee's is one of those!

Katy Lee writes higher purpose stories in high speed worlds. As an inspirational author, speaker, home-schooling mom, and children’s ministry director, she has dedicated her life to sharing tales of love, from the greatest love story ever told to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Her fresh and unique voice brings a fast-paced and modern feel to her romances that are sure to resonate with readers long after the last page. Her debut novel Real Virtue is a finalist in many writing contests, and took second place in the 2011 Georgia Maggie Award of Excellence. Katy lives in Connecticut with her husband, three children, and two cats.

SKC:  Welcome, Katy. I think this is the first time I’ve had you over here at A Pen for Your Thoughts. What gave you the urge to write?

Katy:  I am excited to be here! Thank you for having me in your virtual home, Shirley! As for what gives me the urge to write, I think I will have to say my characters. I don’t write about characters that have it all together. (Even if they think they do.) Their conflicts are both internal and external. They have a journey in front of them to figure things out and need to if they are going to grow as people. So, it is when they find the key to understanding that they want to shout it from the rooftops.

And that is when I start writing, and not a moment before.

SKC:  Who has been the biggest influence in your life with your writing?

Katy: I have a wonderful writers group through my local Romance Writers of America chapter, and they give me encouragement and tools for my craft daily, but my biggest influencer is God’s hand in my life. I can’t tell you how many times I have written myself into a corner with no idea on how I will get out, (or get my characters out) and it is He who comes to my rescue. Whether through His Word or putting exactly what I need in my path when I need it, He shows His faithfulness in numerous ways. I could not write without Him. In fact, He is the one who gives me the desire to write in the first place.

SKC:  Do you place your settings often from the area in which you live, or do you venture out to other areas? And if so, how do you do research on different areas for setting purposes?

Katy: For the most part I write what I know and about the places I know.  So most of my stories are set in New England, Maine, and New York, however, I am finishing up one right now that ends in Romania. I have never been there, so I hope I do the Romanian people justice. Although, I’ve told my husband that I might have to take a trip just to be sure. Oh, the hardships of being an author.

SKC:   I have Victorian style decorations and pictures in my parlor to inspire me when I go in there and put me in the mood for writing my 19th century stories. Perhaps it’s because I'll use anything that gets my creative juices flowing. Where do you go to get inspired and why?

Katy: I think I might need to get me one those places. Your room looks beautiful and what a great idea for inspiration. I write suspense, though, so I would need to fill the room with some pretty scary stuff. (grin) But for now, I write in my rocking chair looking out a window onto my garden and white picket fence. Pretty tranquil whether there are flowers blooming or the yard is snow-covered.

SDC:  I think I prefer your tranquil idea to that pretty scary stuff. :) What is the last book you read and what did you learn from reading it?

Katy:  Lucky Penny by Catherine Anderson.  A writer can learn so much from this woman. Her characters seem real and her prose flows like music. Such beautiful writing. And I think she breaks the mold of what the typical “romance” follows. I like that.

SDC: Where do you go from here and where can our readers find you and your books?

Katy:  Well, since I just returned from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Chicago, which could make a person go a little crazy, I’m hoping to stay homebound for a few weeks. But then it is off to more conventions and book signings and guest blogs where I hope to meet lots and lots of readers and talk about lots and lots of books.

But even if I don’t get to meet you in person, you can always find me in one of my virtual homes.
www.Twitter @KatyLeeBooks

Let’s connect and get to know each other!

SDC: THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US Katy.  What is the one subject you would like to talk about with your authors today? Do fill us in on the book you have to offer one of these fortunate guests this week.

Katy: Thank you for having me! I am having loads of fun with you all! Here is a little more about my story Real Virtue. And, yes, I will be giving away a free ecopy of the book, OR the winner can opt to receive a paperback copy, which will be out this coming fall.

SDC: Here's a little about REAL VIRTUE. If you are interested in getting your name in my basket for a random drawing a bit later, drop Katy a line this week. Let's welcome her to A Pen for Your Thoughts together!

                   Real Virtue

In a virtual reality game where she can fly,
someone’s aiming to take her down.

 Mel Mesini is a New York City restaurateur and an avid, virtual reality world traveler. But her successful life—both online and in reality—takes a swerve the night her father is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. To make matters worse, Officer Jeremy Stiles, the man who had once cut her deep with his harsh, rejecting words, is heading the investigation.

When Jeremy realizes Mel is the actual target, his plan is to protect her—whether she wants him to or not. What he wants is answers, especially about this online game she plays. Is it a harmless pastime as she says? Or is she using it to cover something up? As a faceless predator destroys the things that matter to her, Jeremy knows he’s running out of time before she loses the one thing that matters most—her real life.

 Real Virtue is available now in ebook from and Paperback in the fall.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God's Love is Always Like a Sacred Song -- Mesu Andrews has brought that to life in her new book.

     MESU ANDREWS is an author and speaker who has devoted herself to passionate study of Scripture. Harnessing her deep love for God’s Word, Andrews brings the biblical world alive for her audiences. Mesu and her husband, Roy, have two grown children and (Praise God!) a growing number of grandkids. They live in Washington, where Roy teaches at Multnomah University. They have a Rottweiler-pitbull named Bouzer who keeps Mesu company while she writes. She's published two books, Love Amid the Ashes and Love's Sacred Song. Two more are scheduled for release with Revell in March of 2013 and 2014.  
Mesu is generously offering an autographed GIVEAWAY of her newest release.  No doubt, you are as excited as I am.
Provide your answer to a question Mesu wants you to reflect upon. (See below) We look forward to reading your comments and will draw the winner's name in a few days.

Let's find out what Loves Sacred Song is all about!

 Standing in the overpowering shadow of his famous father, young king Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, longing for a love that is true and pure—a love that can be his cornerstone. A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah has known since she first laid eyes on Solomon that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams will come true. But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon’s harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

I wonder! WILL HE? Now, we're going to have to read this book to find out.

Shall we take a look at an excerpt?

Arielah tiptoed around the sleeping forms of her surly brothers. Empty wineskins served as silent witnesses to their drunken slumber. Kemmuel and Igal would be snoring till dawn. They’d been a disgrace to Abba Jehoshaphat and to the tribe of Issachar since they were old enough to tend sheep.

Kemmuel rolled on his side and smacked his lips, and Arielah stood like a stone. A moment later, she reached for the iron handle and tugged open the rough-hewn cedar door. The bottom corner scraped the dirt and creaked on leather hinges. She held her breath. Glancing slowly over her shoulder, she sighed her relief at the steady rise and fall of her brothers’ chests.
A shadow of melancholy swept over her. They looked so peaceful lying there, but their rage was a living thing boiling just beneath the surface. If only they would let her love them. But her big brothers rebuffed even the love Abba and Ima tried to offer. Arielah had learned at an early age to keep her distance or reap her brothers’ wrath, and now she spent most of her time avoiding them. Tears blurred her vision.

Check out Mesu's first chapter free on her website.

And to see Mesu's Book Trailer, check this out:

Mesu's Reflection and Question for you.

Oftentimes I hear Christ-followers describe God as a god of love in the New Testament and a god of wrath in the Old Testament. It breaks my heart. Our Abba-God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and it’s my passion to write Old Testament stories that reveal His enduring love.

     Parents who only sacrifice for their children, and never discipline, aren’t very loving parents at all. Part of that loving discipline is establishing clear boundaries in order that children know right from wrong and know the consequences of disobedience.

     In the Old Testament, our Abba-God establishes the Law of Moses and pursues His people with a relentless passion that is downright frightening.

     We see His love best described in Song of Songs 8:6-7 – “…love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Now, marry this definition of love with the words in 1 Cor. 13:4-8 – “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…”
When you merge the two definitions of love,
and apply them to our infinite God, how does it change your image of Him?
How does it change your image of human love?

Zeph. 3:17 - "The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."  

And Mesu's final comment to all of us:

      It’s funny how even extroverts have to deal with low self-esteem. When we added the myriad of chronic illness symptoms that sap my ability to DO those things that make me feel worth, the battle against depression rages. Zeph. 3:17 has become my sword and shield. The LORD is with me. I’m not alone. The LORD is mighty to save. Even when my strength is gone. The LORD delights in me. Really? Who knows why, but the Bible never lies, so I’ll take His Word for it! He will quiet me with His love. Even when fibro-fog (a symptom and by-product of fibromyalgia) muddles my thoughts, He loves me. And here’s the real clincher…He rejoices over me with SINGING. I’ve heard of angels singing, but God? Nuh-uh! But He does! And He’s doing it because He’s rejoicing over ME!!! Now, if God can rejoice of pitiful ol’ me, surely I can work up a little joy for the amazing God I serve.
      He is truly amazing…and He sings! J 

Drop us a comment. We want to hear from you.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I so enjoy all that we do here at A Pen for Your Thoughts. Are you now ready for another great Writing Tip about being a Critique Partner from our knowledgeable author contributor,  Delia Latham?
Delia has some suggestings to all of us who are Critting Partners or who toss our manuscripts out there to be scrutinized.

To me, it's a bit like going to the doctor to get myself fixed up and working well before I go out in the world where everyone can see me from head to toe (with my best clothes on, of course.)

Read below, and find out about being that doctor critter. Get some good ideas to help you or those that are critting you out. Don't forget to send in YOUR own comments about critting.

Critting it Right
Delia Latham
© 2012

 Critiques are a literary “bread of life” to some writers. Others shudder at the thought of allowing another author to rip/tear/shred at their carefully chosen words.

To each his own.

Here's my take on the subject. A solid critique can mean the difference in having a manuscript (which may never be seen by anyone other than the writer and the editors who reject it) or a novel (which makes the journey from writer to critique partner to writer to editor…then into print and available to readers).

I'm not here to laud the value of a critique. If your mind is made up to hate them, I doubt I could change it anyway. So this article is for those of you who, like me, wouldn’t dare send a manuscript out without your critique partner—or better yet, partners—having seen it first.

I’ll talk about giving constructive criticism. Since I'm certainly not the reigning guru, you can take or toss anything I say—just as I hope you would do if I critiqued your manuscript. Because that's the whole idea, isn't it? Get someone else's take on your work. She'll watch for typos and misspellings, sentences that don't flow well, and inconsistencies (like your hero having blue eyes in one chapter and brown in another). She'll also make suggestions she thinks will improve your words. The thing to remember with a critique is that, just because your crit partner makes a suggestion does not mean you must use it. It's a suggestion. Something to consider. That's all.

(That’s the extent of what I’ll say about receiving a critique.)

All that said, critiques can hurt. I've been there. So, while it's important to be honest (otherwise, what's the point?), it's also important to be nice. Making the writer feel unspeakably stupid should not be your goal.

And please, please…when you read something you do like, say so! It's like salve on an open wound to get that little nugget of praise in the middle of a chapter that's bleeding red crit marks. It can mean the difference in leaving your critique recipient sobbing in defeat or rejuvenated and raring to do another rewrite.

Seriously…isn't that what it’s all about?

Let's look at some examples. For the record, I’ve been given permission to share these tidbits of critiques with you. (I won’t be sharing the writers’ names or the titles of their work.) Blue text indicates my comments and/or changes.

Not wanting Nate the men to see her amusement, Rose busied herself with Jenny Ann, handing her the baby a piece of meat to chew on. Her hero acted like a she bear protecting her cubs when it came to her and the baby. (This sentence gets a little confusing, with three “hers” referring to two different “hers.”J  See what I mean? With the suggested changes in that first sentence, maybe this will work:

When it came to her and Jenny, Nate behaved like a protective Mama bear with cubs.

Love the analogy, especially when referring to a supposedly big, bad he-man! lol)

Not every criticism can be followed by a compliment, but when possible…by all means, do it! (Ever had your eyebrows or upper lip waxed? The sweet girl who does mine follows each painful rip of skin and hair with the firm pressure of her fingertips. It doesn’t replace the missing skin, but it sure helps relieve the sting. I try to always remember that a critique is much like the removal of unsightly facial hair. Each time I deliver a criticism to some author’s literary darling, I’ve ripped away ‘skin and hair’ and left her hurting. If I can find something to compliment, it eases the pain. Why wouldn’t I want to do that?)

Also, note the yellow highlights above. I use them to indicate repetition of any word (or form of the same word) in close proximity. Without my having to voice a single criticism, my critique partners know what they mean: You should probably rephrase, and avoid overuse of this word.

One more example. This one is taken from a synopsis, thus the “telling, not showing” style of writing.

(When? I'd insert that here. "Two years ago, Scott…") Scott Lunsford experienced every firefighter’s nightmare when he answered a routine accident call involving a loved one. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the images of his girlfriend Julie’s shattered body out of his mind. Counselors recommended time off and he decided to go someplace with happier memories. His grandmother’s turn-of-the century-house has set been vacant since she passed away almost two years earlier. (Your call. Nothing wrong with "set," it just sounds weird to my ears today. lol) Scott thinks it’s the perfect time to start renovations on the old place. But he’s not prepared for the amount of work the house needs and even less prepared for the ghostly images of Julie that show up nightly every night!

Offering an opinion is fine, even if it isn’t necessarily a “rule” of writing. In this case, my suggestion to replace “set” with “been” is nothing more than personal taste. But that’s all right…it’s like a mini-brainstorm session. The author can take it or leave it, but it gives her something to think about.

As the one on the giving end of the critique, it’s important to remember that you’re not there to rewrite the book. Let that author keep her voice and style. Your task is to watch for several things in particular, including (but certainly not limited to):

§  Typos

§  Misspellings

§  Inconsistencies

§  Incorrect grammar

§  Kinks in the flow of the storyline

§  Repetitive words

§  Weasel words

§  Timeline issues

§  Anything else that seems “iffy” or makes you backtrack/re-read.

What is most helpful to you in a critique? Or do you simply shy away from them? If so…why?

 Let’s talk about it…

Always thankful to Julia Bettencourt for her artistic talent in the creation of the many images
I was able to use back with Hearts for Christ Ministries
and now here at A Pen for Your Thoughts.
Bless you, Julia

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Book Review by Jennifer Slattery
of A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Title: Deliver Me From Evil
Author: Kathi Macias
Publisher: New Hope Publishers
Publication Date: 09/05/2011
ISBN: 9781596693067

Deliver Me from Evil introduces readers to Mara, an eighteen-year-old girl who has been enslaved for nearly ten years, having been sold by her parents in Mexico and then smuggled across the border into San Diego where she was forced into sexual slavery. Readers will also meet 18-year-old, Bible-college-bound Jonathan and his 16-year-old sister, Leah, whose paths cross Mara's and who become involved in her dramatic rescue.

Interwoven between the stories of Mara, Jonathan, and Leah is the heartbreaking story of another young woman in captivity in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, whose past life mysteriously connects to the young people in San Diego.

Some novels entertain, some challenge, and some penetrate to the deepest recesses of your heart. In this story, Kathi Macias brings the issue of human trafficking to the forefront of our minds, removing the option of apathy. And yet, she does much more than weave a thought-provoking, and at times, gut-wrenching story. Throughout her novel, using various characters from different walks of life, she presents options for positive change.

We begin the story with Mara, an eighteen year old who should be planning for college and dreaming of her future but who, instead, spends each day fighting for survival. Her greatest defense is a hardened heart, if only she could keep the walls barring her emotions erected. Her heart bleeds for the abused children brought into the brothel, but her fight-or-flight instinct forces her to choke down her compassion. She’s learned the hard way--emotions are dangerous and human attachments lead to pain. Beaten, humiliated, abandoned, and betrayed, she’s given up hope for better, until, standing in the doorway of a seedy hotel, she meets the gaze of a man with eyes free of hatred and lustful hunger. Could kind men exist? Those who aren’t out to use and abuse her? Although the question draws her, her shattered heart fights against the hope it awakens.

Meanwhile, Jonathan, the young man who catches a glimpse of Mara while delivering a pizza, can’t shake the image of the terror-filled eyes staring out at him from a hotel room doorway. He tries to rationalize away what he saw, but God pricks his heart, bringing heart-wrenching clarity. As the reality of what he witnesses weighs down on him, the enormity of the problem becomes overwhelming. Sex trafficking in the United States? The thought is inconceivable, and yet, the truth is undeniable. But what can he, a high school senior, do? He’s faced with two choices: pretend this evil doesn’t exist or potentially risk his life to do something about it.

I loved this novel because not only does it educate through the story, but Kathi also provided numerous ways readers can get involved. As each character responds differently—from initiating meetings to sharing their testimony—readers understand that although the issue of human trafficking is monumental, there are ways to make a difference. The biggest of which may very well be awareness and education.

This was the first novel I’ve read by Kathi and I loved seeing her heart pour into the pages. Her choice of characters brought her message home. Through Jonathan and Mara—a youth about to embark on a very promising future and another youth robbed of her humanity—sex-trafficking victims are given a name and a face. In reading, it made me realize, but by the grace of God there goes my child or my sister. Which left me with one burning question—if Mara were my sister or daughter, to what lengths would I go to free her?

To order from Amazon:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ten Things Special About Easter

A little message from author contributor Linda Ford. Be blessed this week with a memorable Good Friday and glorious Easter (Resurrection Sunday) coming up.
I was blessed by Linda's (number 4) the best, for that is what Easter is to me.

I wonder which of the ten things touches your heart.

 Ten Things I like about Easter
By Linda Ford

1.      It comes in tandem with spring which needs no explanation. But by this time of year I am aching for green, for flowers, for open water.

2.      It is full of rich memories—I remember when I was young child and my older sister saved all the pretty gold and silver wrappings from chocolate bars (which also giving her an excuse to indulge). At Easter, she wrapped all kinds of Easter treats in the gold and silver papers and hid them outside for us to find. A wonderful Easter treat.

When our children were at home, we also had an Easter egg hunt although it usually had to be indoors. For weeks afterwards someone would be surprised by a chocolate egg rolling out from under a lamp or from behind a book.

3.      As children, we got a new outfit at Easter. I suppose we were due for fresh clothes after the winter season.  But it was also a tradition.  People dressed up at Easter. I often think of this song. (One I learned to sing in Glee Club)

Easter Parade - by Irving Berlin
For In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade

I'll be all in clover and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade

On the Avenue
Fifth Avenue
The photographers will snap us
And you'll find that you're
In the rotogravure

4.      I love the songs of Easter. They stir the soul with their sense of joy and victory. I can never sing up From the Grave He Arose without wanting to shout. 

5.             My husband and I were married on Easter weekend many years ago and honeymooned amidst flowering cherry trees in British Columbia. 

6.      The baby animals. Often our new chicks would arrive about this time. And often the weather would turn cold and the baby chicks would end up in the kitchen for a few days. Cheep. Cheep. Cheep day and night. And baby calves. My hubbie is a rancher so we enjoy this every year. 

7.      The symbolism—such as boiled eggs that you break open like the grave was broken open to reveal the empty tomb. To me, it symbolizes new life and the empty cross to show our Redeemer lives. Lilies remind us that death is conquered.

8.      New beginnings. Spring, new birth, an empty grave. How can we not have hope? How can I not face each new day with joy and anticipation?

9.      That anticipation carries forward to every aspect of my life. I am eager to face the new page, the new story, the new opportunity.

10.   He is risen. He is risen indeed.