Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm Already Celebrating. How About You?

Whether it's Fourth of July or Veteran's Day or Memorial Day, to me it doesn't matter. I love to think about how we are fortunate to still be free in this troubled country of ours. I love the USA and I love what we are supposed to stand for.

We need to hang on to our freedom with everything we've got.

As you prepare for your Fourth of July celebrations, be thinking about what it really means to be free indeed.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


One of the questions I asked in my survey to many of you last week had to do with that which makes you put a book down really quick, I mean, once you've started reading it. I loved reading the plethora of answers.

This week, one of our author contributors, Deb Kinnard has offered us a writing tip, which just might give a little insight as to why books turn out as they do sometimes.  Why we grasp onto them so quickly, or maybe why we don't.

After all, if you're a prolific reader, or writer, you need to know why it's not the easiest task in the world, creating that new and perfect story that is guaranteed to melt your heart right from the beginning -- not ten years down the road. 

Let's see what Deb has to say.


 By Deborah Kinnard

Many new writers experience an issue that drove me nutso at first: where to start the story. Of course, in our market the easy answer is often "on your knees," which is always good advice when beginning any new venture! But this is about story, not prayer.

I've had crit partners tell me my tale actually starts on page 8, page 12 or even page 15. Once I'm finished setting my hair on fire, I re-read the pages and discover they're right.

How to tell where the "beginning" is, if it's not right under your Chapter One heading? One way to find the beginning is to look for the moment when everything changes for your main character(s). If you write romance, often it's when He meets She. If you write suspense, it's often the instant the danger begins for your POV character. If yours is a mystery, it's generally the crime or the discovery of the corpse.

It's true that some masterful writers ground us in the everyday before all chaos breaks loose, but we're all agreed that bestselling authors can get away with more than we can. So look for the "change" moment -- often called the "inciting event" that plunges your characters from the mundane into the thrilling, scary, or interesting part of the book.

If all else fails, you can always check out page 15.

Ok, folks, we turn back to you. READER or WRITER. Where do YOU think a story should really begin? Drop us a note if you get a chance and let us know. Everyone wants your thoughts too.

copyright: 2011  - Deb Kinnard

Timeless Romance, Transcendent Faith

SEASONS IN THE MIST, Sheaf House - winner, Grace Awards 2010

POWERLINE, coming this fall

Honored to be a Desert Breeze author

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Most of the time I am busy interviewing other authors, who generously offer one of their books to one of you wonderful people, who take a spare moment to respond, or just say hello.

This week, I decided to do something a little different.

As a Victorian Romance Writer,  I also love to read the writings of Emily Dickinson.  That being the case, I searched high and low until I found just the right prize I could offer to one of you!

For the next several days, as I run a little writer and reader survey here at A PEN FOR YOUR THOUGHTS, I am giving you the opportunity to win one of Emily's favorite items. (More or Less.)

If you love romance straight out of the 19th century, or even if you don't, I thought you might enjoy doing this special something with me.

I kind of call it that extra highlight to a Summer day... 

Here's how it goes: I will write out a few survey questions. As you respond, I want your most honest answers to any or all questions you wish to respond to. Got it?

When we're all done sending in our this n' that answer choices, I will draw one special name (at random, of course), and the winner will get the awesome little prize you see below.

I sure do

Here it is:
An official
Emily Dickinson Inkwell & Quill Pen


Direct from one of my favorite shops
Victorian Trading Co!

There was once a purposeful intent when pondered words
were tediously scribed in fresh ink.

Experience the romance! 

Pewter & glass. 3".
A $25 value 

Are you ready for the survey?

1. What is the best book series you ever read or wrote, and why?

2. What do you like to see in a book first? The backcover, the front cover, the blurb, the endorsements, the first few pages, the end, where it was published?

3. What do you REALLY look for in a book?

4. What makes you put a book down real fast?

5. When is your favorite time of day to read?

6. How inclined are you to read a debut author, or an unknown author?

7. How long does it take you to write a book, start to finish, or READ a book, start to finish?

8. What is your favorite genre and why?

9. Do you still write letters? Why or why not?

10. Who is your favorite Victorian poet?

Okay...Go for it. I REALLY look forward to hearing from you! Remember to include your email address for me. Thanks. Hope I draw your name!

Congratulations to Melinda Elsmore from Arizona. My daughter just drew your name! Watch your mail or UPS drivers. Your gift will arrive in about ten days or so. BLESSINGS to you from Shirley

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When It Comes to Mistaken Identity, You Can Be Fooled Without Even Knowing it!

K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Mistaken Identity, her first young adult romance released
on June 15 from Desert Breeze Publishing. Queen of Hearts, a
WWII romantic suspense released in April 2010 and was the bestselling book for her publisher during its debut month. Killing Time, a contemporary romantic suspense, released August 1, also with Desert Breeze Publishing. K. Dawn Byrd is an avid blogger and gives away several books per week on her blog at www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook Christian Fiction Gathering group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=128209963444.
When not reading or writing, K. Dawn Byrd enjoys spending time with her husband of 16 years while walking their dogs beside a gorgeous lake near her home and plotting the next story waiting to be told.

Eden Morgan longs for a boyfriend of her own, an impossible goal when her best friend, Lexi Branson, gets all the attention and all the guys. When they fall in love with the same guy, Eden believes she doesn't have a chance. She can only hope that sometimes the girl gets the guy.


After dinner, Mom suggested that we go swimming while the adults had coffee. Channing hurried home to change into swimming trunks and, when he returned, I was waiting in the pool. Still a little self-conscious about the few extra pounds I carried, I'd rushed at breakneck speed to get in before he came back. Not to mention that I was embarrassed at the old-fashioned one-piece I wore.

"Want to play some water volleyball?" I called as he sauntered across the patio.

"Sounds like fun."

Channing climbed down the stairs into the pool. His chest was broad and tanned, his body pure muscle. He belonged on a magazine cover.

The breeze was warm, carrying the delicious smell of lilac from the bushes between our houses. I breathed in the scent as Channing swam under the water toward the deep end, his body just a shadow under the surface. Dusk had fallen, and the pool lights were on.

He surfaced, and I hit the ball. Channing sent a quick return, which I missed by inches. "Hey!" I yelled. "That's not fair. I didn't see it coming."

Channing laughed. "Maybe you should keep your eye on the ball." There was a teasing tone in his voice.

Stephie would have been right out there in the middle of it if she hadn't gone to bed with a headache. I should go check on her soon. She was prone to the ones Mom called migraines, and sometimes they made her throw up.

We played until I was tired, and then we swam a while. I did some laps, glad that I'd lost at least some of the weight I'd put on during the winter. I was so lost in my thoughts that I hadn't realized I'd swam too close to Channing until I surfaced and found myself almost in his arms. He reached out to steady me, and I stepped forward, attempting to regain my balance.

A shiver tripped over my skin even though the night was warm. My eyes locked with his, and I found myself lost in the mossy depths. He hadn't released me, and his hands were warm on my arms.

We stood there, speechless, drinking in each other in with an odd kind of understanding, an odd feeling that all was well in the world and we were meant to be together. His touch and his gaze were so mesmerizing that I couldn't have looked away if my life depended on it.

"Channing, you ready to go?" called his mother from somewhere across the patio.

The spell was broken. I backed away, hoping our parents hadn't seen the magic that had passed between us. I wasn't sure what my parents would think about my dating a senior if Channing asked me out.

"Good night," I said, turning and diving under the water, my heart beating wildly as what passed between us seemed like a dream, a beautiful, surreal dream.

I surfaced on the other end and watched Channing retreat from the pool. He turned and waved and, just like that, the guy of my dreams, walked right out of my life.
Look for more about K.Dawn Byrd at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-template/KDawnByrd/Page.bok BLOG: http://kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com; WEBSITE: www.kdawnbyrd.com

We're give away a gift card for a free download of Mistaken Identity. Leave a comment about what you'd like to see more of in young adult fiction for your chance to win. Looking forward to hearing from you. Please include your email address. Hope I draw your name!

Congratulations to Jeannie Campbell of California! You just won K Dawn's book! Be watching for an email from her.good

Friday, June 10, 2011

In Memory of a Wonderful Author and Writer Friend

I have been privileged to be able to have Stephen Bly here at A Pen for Your Thoughts more than a couple of times in the last few years. I take that as a special blessing, especially now.
Please join me as I now take a few minutes to briefly share a short memory of his life with you, A little of what he's provided to us in the past. It is one way I feel I can offer a special memorial honor to a wonderful writer and friend, who recently went home to meet the Lord.

Stephen Bly  authored and co-authored over 102 fiction and nonfiction books, including historical and contemporary westerns.

Stephen, a summa cum laude graduate of philosopy from Fresno State University, CA, received his M. Div degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. He was a Christy Award winner, Westerns, 2002, for The Long Trail Home and a Christy Award finalist for 3 other westerns. He served as mayor of Winchester, Idaho, pop. 308 (1999-2007) and pastored Winchester Community Church.
During Mr. Bly's public life, he served as  a speaker for men’s retreats, family conferences and writers’ groups all over USA and Canada.
When I interviewed Stephen and his wife here at the blog before, I learned he was  a collector of antique Winchesters and was roving editor for Big Show Journal, a magazine for gun collectors.
Stephen and Janet Chester Bly, his wife of over 47 years, and  his former high school sweetheart, became mentors to beginning writers for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and co-authored 18 books together.
In this recent news of his passing, we at A Pen for Your Thoughts want to extend our thoughts and prayers to his family. Stephen Bly will be greatly missed by us all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Search of Core Story

In Search of Core Story

By LoRee Peery

RWA members may be used to hearing a quote from Jayne Ann Krentz (who also writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle). “Identify your core story—every author has one. Once you know it, you will be better prepared to figure out where it fits in the marketplace.”

Jayne has spoken numerous times on how she had to reinvent herself. While going through that process, she realized her core story is romantic suspense.

Julie Rowe has written about core story. Carolyn Greene has referred to it in her Plot Doctor presentation. Author friends of mine have responded with self-acceptance, taking chances, and finding inner/unknown strength as their core stories.

According to Webster, core is a noun, the central or inner part of anything. So what is core story? To some, it may be the guts of a story.

After listening to Jayne a few years back, I asked myself some questions:

  • What is my core story?
  • What makes it different?
  • What conflicts am I comfortable with?
  • Why is it selling? [or not]
  • What emotion is evoked in the first three chapters?
“Core story reveals my voice, so make it fresh and different, something missing turned to joy,” I noted, based on Jayne’s session during the PRO conference at RWA national.

How can a writer wrap up uniqueness, comfortable conflict (sounds like an oxymoron to me), emotion, all encapsulated within voice?

I have mulled over the idea of core story. At one time I wondered if it’s as simple as genre or theme. But the idea of discovering core story niggled at me. It has to be more than inspirational romance.

Readers, and authors, may agree that a writer pretty much writes the same story over and over. Does that mean core story is intrinsic?

My core story is wrapped up within the spiritual journey of my romance characters. I also try to write using Nebraska’s sense of place. Okay, to me a Christian story means a tale of redemptive grace, which covers a multitude of sins. From that contemplation, I came up with my signature tag: Redemptive grace with a sense of place.

During this search, I concluded that my core story is redemptive grace. What’s yours?

 copyright 2011 LoRee Peery
Moselle's Insurance ~ Rainn on My Parade

Note:  an earlier version of this article appeared in “E-Notes from the Prairie,” Prairieland Romance Writers newsletter, winter 2009.