Friday, May 27, 2016

Honest Thoughts: The Reality of Freelancing


Whew. I think this post is so appropriate for a number of reasons but namely the fact that I haven't been able to keep up with my honest Thoughts posts because of my freelancing. Ha! Talk about irony.

And now I'm on a trip of epic proportions (see "the Good" section below). I'm going to be GONE for an entire month! Craziness - am I right? But, in thinking about freelancing, I just had to write this post and share my honest thoughts.

The Good, the Less Good, the Bad
The minute I tell people I'm a freelancer I have a feeling they have an image of me lounging around the house all day, sipping coffee leisurely, and pretty much doing whatever I want. That is not completely true.

The Good: I can work from home - or anywhere else! I'm gone for a month and part of that time I'll spend working, but from wherever I'll be. That is awesome! Plus I do get to have flexibility with my time during that day--to an extent. I can grab coffee with someone in the morning or a late lunch in the afternoon. Things can be flexible--sometimes.

The Less Good: Not everyone understands that being a freelancer still means you have to work (hehe). Especially in DC's economy I need to work even harder to make it (this is not a plea for pity, just a reality). That sometimes means long days, late nights, and weekend work. Yuck. But hey--I am doing what I love which is a big reward. But working from home isn't always easy either with lots of distractions and other things to do too so that can be "less good".

The Bad: Self-Employment is hard! Ha! I know - that's no big news but it's true. I love being my own boss, but that means if I want to take a vacation or even a sick day, I have to work extra for that. Medical Insurance isn't included, there are no benefits, and my success is directly related to how much time I can invest in my various business ventures. Some of this will change as the businesses grow and change themselves, but it will always be difficult (and yet rewarding) to be self-employed.

Source
You are Literally a Time Lord
For those who don't get the reference--thank you Doctor Who. I do love the fact that I get to dictate my time. Yes - I can often be found working in my PJ's in bed. And yes, I do spend days drinking coffee...but it's more like guzzling it rather than delicate sips ;-). As mentioned with "the bad" though, I am directly responsible for my time. This is fantastic when things are going well, but what happens when I get sick? It also means that, though I can be working all hours of the day (and sometimes do) I need to plan for time off. This is HARD for me. My computers right there and I could easily just...do...one..more...thing. Next thing you know it's 2 am and I should have gone to bed. So, along with being a Time Lord comes responsibility - who knew?

A Lot for a Little
This is probably my biggest pet peeve area. Most (and I say most because I have no idea of a percentage here) freelancers are underpaid. I'm not just saying that because I am one. It's true. Content creation, editing, ghost writing...you name it--doesn't usually gross very much. Now, that's not true for all gigs and I will admit that I work for some fantastic people who are generous with me and my work, but that's not always the case. It's sad really. So, that's just a little plug to say - if you work with freelancers, pay them for their work. They need to eat too ;-)

So there you have it friends. A few little tidbits of reality taken from the life of a freelancer. I am blessed to do what I do and to enjoy it, but know that it's not all roses and sunshine (or sweatpants and coffee...thought this is more of a reality at times).

How about you? Do you freelance? Can you relate? If not, would you like to work from home (or elsewhere)? Why?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

When You’re Afraid to Dream by Varina Denman | Guest Post




When I was a little girl, I watched cartoons every day after lunch. Casper, Mickey Mouse, Sylvester & Tweety, among others. (Yes, I’m dating myself.) That hour was the highlight of my day, and often a movie would come on afterward that was just as exciting as the cartoons. My mother was one of the original work-at-home moms, so undoubtedly she needed a little time to herself. She was my hero, and I had no greater dream in life than to be HER when I grew up.

One afternoon, The Mummy came on just after cartoons—the black-and-white version with Boris Karloff. Mom discouraged me from watching it, but somehow I insisted the club-footed, toilet-paper-clad monster wasn’t scary. And really … he wasn’t. Not even to a little girl. Special effects have come a long way.

However, the un-scary monster turned uber-scary in my dreams that night, and I cried out for my mother who came and patted my back until I calmed down. After that, I vowed to stick with cartoons, but wouldn’t you know it, that mummy haunted me for weeks. I’d lay in bed every night, unable to sleep.

Because I was afraid of dreaming the mummy dream.

Fast forward forty years. (Yes, I’m dating myself again.) By that time, I had achieved my lifelong dream of being a work-at-home mom. Yay me! While I didn’t allow my kids to watch horror movies, I didn’t hesitate to set them in front of Sesame Street so I could have a little time to myself, especially to … READ. In fact, I spent so much time reading, that I found myself dreaming about writing a book of my own.

But, oh my goodness, who did I think I was? I didn’t know anything about writing. I hadn’t been especially good at it back in school. And I certainly didn’t have a college degree. Besides I had already achieved my dream, and I was living my happily ever after. So I talked myself out of trying.

Because I was afraid of dreaming the writer dream.
However—just like my mother had done all those years before—God patted my back until I calmed down. Then He surrounded me with friends and acquaintances who encouraged me to give writing a try. He opened doors in places I didn’t even know to look, and finally … he gave me a nice little shove.

Now that I’m looking back from the other side of the road, I can see His footsteps walking next to mine all along the way. And isn’t that how it always is? Even when we’re afraid, even when we think we can’t do it, even when we’re up against obstacles that seem insurmountable, God is with us.

Helping us be brave enough to dream impossible dreams.

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11

The Mended Hearts series focuses on three women whose dreams have been shattered. The final book, Jilted, tells the story of Lynda Turner whose husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years before.

Hope awakens for Lynda when a local ex-convict shows interest, but having been jilted more than once in her life, she’s now afraid to dream that love could be a possibility. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life in which the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

She must be brave enough to dream the happiness dream.

Jilted will be available in bookstores June 1, but you can pre-order now. And through May 31, the eBook is HALF PRICE. Grab it while it’s cheap!

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. A native Texan who spent her high school years in a small Texas town, Varina now lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Her passion is helping others make peace with their life situations. Varina’s Mended Hearts series is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Connect with Varina through her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.



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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Siren's Fury by Mary Weber | RE:View

A gripping, whirlwind read with deep characters that will leave you breathless at the end.

Riding in on the heels of Storm Siren (book one in the trilogy) Siren's Fury takes up where it left off with a shocking change. Nym's elemental powers are gone! This came as an absolute shock to me since I don't read book descriptions usually so then, during the rest of the story, I kept wondering...When will she get them back? Will she get them back? How will this end?

Just like book one, Siren's Fury is full of descriptive writing and dynamic charters from the complex and curious Lord Myles to the infuriating Draewulf. With her humor still intact, Nym feels the weight of responsibility on her shoulders and the desire to do anything it takes to stop Draewulf.

I enjoyed this book and truly felt the struggle Nym faces. In my mind she is a stubborn character who will do whatever it takes to do what she thinks is right. Sometimes I found myself arguing with her decisions though most of the time I was rooting along with her. You want to fight for (and with) her as much as you want to wrap her up in a hug and tell her she's loved.

I definitely recommend this to lovers of YA Fantasy and just great fiction in general! It's fast-paced and keeps you guessing until the end. I can't wait to start Siren's Song (book three)!

My Rating: 4*
Purchase: Siren's Fury

Book Description
(from Goodreads)

"I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it's no use. The curse I've spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists."

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?
_________________
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kari Trumbo, Annie Boone, Kit Morgan & Vivi Holt | New Novel News


Guess what readers! I've got a another awesome New Novel News posts for you today to spread out the fun. Check out these four ladies and their novellas releasing as a series May 15th.

A Lily Blooms
by Kari Trumbo

Published: May 16, 2016
From: Independently Published
Purchase:  A Lily Blooms

Lillian never dared to dream that James could be hers. Now, five years after she stopped his wedding, she must face him again. She’s compared every suiter to James. No longer a child, Lillian does her best to avoid the handsome divorcee, but he has other ideas.

Secrets long buried must be revealed to for James to see what he’s been missing, and for Lily to see her own desires. At the Little Red Chapel in Cutter’s Creek, Montana, Lillian will discover that the heart sometimes speaks without thought, but the whispers of the Spirit can guide them.

Kari says...

If you could travel in time would you go forward or back? 
I would go back in time to see how people really lived. You can do your homework and read history but it will always be skewed by the author. I’d love to see it through my own lens.




New Beginnings
by Annie Boone

Published: May 16, 2016
From: Independently Published
Purchase: New Beginnings

Audrey Norris is worried but determined. Her life has taken a drastic turn. A short year ago, she was a happily married woman with a young daughter and a warm, cozy home. Now she’s a widow responsible for her daughter, her mother, and a big fat mortgage she didn’t even know about. She can’t pay the house note and she doesn’t have a job. Her options are few and mostly undesirable.

Widower Caleb Jefferson is the successful blacksmith in the town of Cutter’s Creek, Montana. His sister has been fussing after him to get married again, but he’s dodged her arguments. He finally sees that his daughter needs a mother. However, he’d been in love before and that ended in disaster and heartbreak. He has no desire to fall in love again, so he’s hoping he can find a woman who will agree to his terms.

When Audrey and Caleb end up together, everyone around them is delighted that their families are joining. Caleb tries to make it work, but he can’t seem to let go and move on with his life.

Audrey worries and prays every day that a breakthrough will come. God is taking His time. In the meantime, the family grows closer while Caleb drifts further away.

One simple misunderstanding will break the fragile balance they’ve created. Will this be the end of their relationship or the beginning of a lifetime of love?

Annie says...

Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
I absolutely love the beach. Almost any beach. I feel so relaxed and at peace listening to the waves crash on the shore. I collect mementos from every beach I go to and keep them all in a large glass jar. I always bring at least one shell, piece of sea glass, or rock home and put it in that jar. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years. I’ve been to beaches in Europe and all over the US. My favorite beach so far is Gulf Shores, Alabama. The bonus is that this beach is only a six-hour drive from my house.
 

That Healing Touch
by Kit Morgan

Published: May 16, 2016
From: Angel Creek Press
Purchase: That Healing Touch

Jack Carlson spied for the union army for four, long years and what did he get for his trouble? Blindness. Battered by the war and lost without his sight, he seeks refuge in Cutter’s Creek, Montana. There he hopes to heal his bitter heart. But he’s going to need a lot more help than what he can come up with. His cousin, the local preacher, thinks so too and sends off for a mail-order bride for him, praying a wife will do the trick.

Willow Bennett has been in love with the same man all her life. As a young girl she followed Jack Carlson and his friends until they managed to out run her. As a young woman…well, a girl can dream, can’t she? Imagine her surprise when she becomes a mail-order bride and discovers Jack is her intended! That’s not the only surprise she gets in this story of forgiveness, hope and love.

Kit says...

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?   
This is a question I get asked A LOT, as I tend to write cinematically. Okay, for Jack Carlson I’d cast Aiden Turner, and for Willow let’s go with Abigail Breslin.



The Strong One
by Vivi Holt
Published: May 16, 2016
From: Independently Published
Purchase: The Strong One

Sarah Songan is a woman on the run.

In an attempt to find peace with their neighbors, the Apsáalooke chief has promised her hand to a soldier at Fort Smith, and Sarah’s determined not to be traded or bartered like an ornament. She strikes out on her own, leaving behind everyone and everything she has ever known. However, a woman travelling alone in 1866 Montana territory can fall prey to unscrupulous men. Sarah must confront her fears and draw on an inner strength she didn’t know she had, as well as a new-found hope in God, if she is to survive.

Bill Hanover is a tired and lonely cowboy. After four long years fighting in the War Between the States, he returns to his family ranch in Montana only to discover it’s no longer his home. He heads south to Cutter’s Creek, where he encounters a beautiful woman whose feisty spirit takes his breath away. But she’s hiding a secret, and her past is about to catch up with her. Bill turns to God for help and guidance, and encounters a new kind of love.

Set in beautiful, wild, and untamed nineteenth century Montana, this novella will take you on a journey back in time to the perilous life of a pioneer on the western frontier.

Vivi says...


 Favorite season
My favorite season is winter. In Brisbane, Australia, winter time is beautiful. It’s usually about seventy degrees during the day, and then dips down at night. You can even go swimming at the beach in winter sometimes. And you can definitely get away with wearing shorts, t-shirts and thongs (which are flip flops, not underwear!), except on the coldest days. Although I always look forward to jeans weather. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the air is crisp and sweet. It’s a wonderful time of year.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Melanie Dickerson & J.L. Mbewe | New Novel News

The Beautiful Pretender
by Melanie Dickerson

Published: May 17, 2016
From: Thomas Nelson
Purchase: The Beautiful Pretender

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.

Get to know Melanie...

What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning?
I like my mug of hot tea, but I started a new thing in January of this year where I read a chapter in the Bible, read my daily devotion in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and pray, with the main focus on prayer. Before this year, I read a daily devotion and usually a chapter in the Bible, but prayer was more of a guilty afterthought. But thankfully I turned the corner on that this year!

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
The first thing that popped into my mind was to be able to grant forgiveness of sins. We often don’t realize it, but that is the thing we need more than anything else in this life, and Jesus has that superpower!

What are the names of your pets?
We have two pet guinea pigs. My daughters named the first one Cecily after a character in The Importance of Being Earnest, one of our favorite movies, and the second is named Ellie, but not after anyone in particular that I know of.


The Darkened Hope
by J.L. Mbewe


Published: May 7, 2016
From: BrokenSeed Books
Purchase: Darkened Hope

The Secret Keeper is on the run, but does she know the secret she keeps?

Ayianna is a cursed half-elf betrothed to Desmond, but her heart belongs Kael. After discovering the cure for the Sorceress's curse, she and her companions embark on a dangerous quest to retrieve the ingredients.

When dragons descend upon their party, Ayianna realizes the Sorceress is searching not just for the corrupted dagger, but a human sacrifice that will open a portal to the underworld. Battling deadly creatures and natural disasters, Ayianna is forced to confront her insecurities and conflicted heart. She must decide whether to be true to her family or true to herself.

As the nations rally for war, betrayal threatens to destroy them all, and it's a race against time to return before the curse destroys the plains people.

Get to know J.L....

Favorite season?
I love the fall. The changing of the seasons, cool temperatures, the wind, the colorful leaves. And for some reason I’m living in Texas where none of that exists. Ha!

What are you reading right now?
I started reading Living Forward, A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want and almost started Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s newest release, A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold. But I’ve had to put most of my life on hold as I prepared to launch Darkened Hope. Although, I will be playing catch up with my reading this summer. :-)

Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Oh!! I love traveling! I’ve been to Perú and hope to travel to so many places, so I feel kind of bad that I would pick Duluth, Minnesota. I don’t know why, but I just love Duluth. It holds a special spot in my heart. The trees, the lake, the agates, the waterfalls of Gooseberry Falls. It’s Minnesota, yet feels so different. We even spent our honeymoon there, and we plan to spend our fourteenth anniversary there this summer.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ane Mulligan {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Ane...

While a floppy straw hat is her favorite, novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many including pro-family lobbyist, drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane writes her Southern-fried fiction in Sugar Hill, GA, where she resides with her artist husband, chef son, and a dog of Biblical proportion.

Connect with Ane...

Website/blog: http://www.anemulligan.com
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/anemulligan
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4469633-ane-mulligan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anemulligansouthernfriedfiction
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AneMulligan
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/anemulligan/

Get to know Ane...

You and Writing 

Tell us a little bit about you and writing...

How did you start writing? 
My pastor loved to use a dramatic sketch to illustrate his sermons. I was the director of the drama ministry so he asked me to write some, and my journey began. In 2003, I expanded my writing to include novels.

What has kept you writing?
I’ve always had stories swirling in my head. When driving around, I’ll see something and immediately a story starts to form. Sometimes, I call a friend and give her or him the idea. Usually, it’s a characterization thing. But if I didn’t write, what would I do with all those story ideas? My head would explode if I couldn’t get them out.

What or who is the biggest influence in your writing? 
My faith in Jesus is the biggest influence in my stories. I don’t write beat-you-over-the-head-with-a-Bible type stories. But my faith affects my worldview and my characters.

Why do you write? 
Since I was old enough to sit on Mama’s lap and hold a book, we read. She instilled a love of story in me at a very early age. And now, I love to make people laugh. I’ve always believed that when people let down their guard when they think they’re being entertained. Then when they least expect it, the story can reach out and touch their hearts, and perhaps change them. When I get a note from a reader telling me a story I wrote helped them, it makes it all worth the effort.

Emilie here: Ane, you are one of the funniest people I know (um, I mean that in the BEST way of course). I just remember meeting you at the first ACFW Conference and you were such a joy. I can imagine your humor radiate from your books!


Your Writing

Let's talk about your books...


Why did you write them? 
When I finished Chapel Springs Survival, I asked God, “What’s next?” He said, “Write your story.” Home to Chapel Springs is that story. It’s also the of my heart. You see, I found my birth sisters in 2009. You can read the whole story on my website under My Adoption Story.

Emilie here: I love this - it gives me goosebumps! 

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with? 
God is faithful with your dreams. (tweet this) When I had no way to find my sisters, I gave it to Him and tried to forget about it. But it never left my heart. It took 10 years and then one day, out of the blue as they say, I got a phone call that changed my life.

What was a challenge you faced while writing it? 
The timing! This was the first book for which I ever had a deadline. My others were written before I got a contract. With Home to Chapel Springs, I only had a little over 3 months to write, edit and get it to my critique partners. So I laid out the word count, and figured out how many words I had to write 5 days a week to get it done. I learned I could do it. It was only 1500 words a day. That was doable. What was difficult was to know if I had a cohesive story. But my critique partners are the best. They kept my feet to the fire, hollered if I had any plot holes, and I handed that book in on time.

Is there a funny story associated with writing the book? 
Not so much funny as interesting. And it wasn’t the writing but the cover. Most authors don’t have much say in their covers. They can give some input, but it’s normally up to the publisher. My husband is an artist. When my publisher found out, he asked if I wanted Hubs to do the artwork for my cover. Naturally, I said yes. That was a good thing and a bad thing, because after the first book, he had to keep going. On Home to Chapel Springs, I had more of the ambiance of the house rather than its image in my mind. I couldn’t give him a style other than an old farmhouse. He kept pulling up photos of old houses online, and I’d tell him to use the windows. Or use that chimney, or the porch. Finally, he had a composite that looked close enough to what I had in mind. Poor guy. I don’t think he’s looking forward to the next one.

Emilie here: Oh wow! That's great - I didn't realize your husband had done the covers. But I bet that was tough for him haha!

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
Yes. It’s Deut. 31:6. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid … for the Lord goes with you. He will never leave or forsake you.” The character Carin Jardine had many people in her life leave her. It colors her relationships.

Did you get to do any fun research for the book? 
I delved into birth order traits for this book. That’s fascinating material and it served me well. I’m going to keep it in my character worksheets for the future.

We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book? 
I do extensive character interviews before I begin a book. I spend a month or so on my characters, getting to know them so well, I can tell how they will respond to any given event. And still, they manage to surprise me now and again.

What made you choose the setting for the book?
I love a mountain lake. I also love the sound of the ocean. I tried to write a beach book. In fact, I tried to place this book on Dauphin Island. I had planned a research trip there with a friend. Her husband was hospitalized. I planned to take another friend. She broke her arm. Hubs bought a motorhome so we could go. It turned out to be a lemon and we didn’t sign the final papers. Are you beginning to see a pattern? As soon as I placed it back in the north Georgia Mountains, everything calmed down.

What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book? 
A character Claire meets in jail near the end of Chapel Springs Survival (book 2 in the series) comes back in Home to Chapel Springs. I hadn’t planned that, but Claire announces she hired Mel (Melanie). She ended up playing a fairly major part in the book.
What’s your favorite snack while writing? Goldfish and M&Ms.


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Your Writing

How long did you write before you got published? 
I started writing novels in January 2003. My first book was released September 2014. That was almost 12 years.

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? 
God has a time and place for each of us. I had some strange things happen along the way until I finally saw it was God saying, “Not here. Not yet.” So enjoy the journey. (tweet this) Have fun networking, growing in the craft, and making friends. And factor God’s timing into your journey.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Holy moly! I’ve got enough to wallpaper my office.

Are you a Panster or Plotter? 
I’m a Planster. I storyboard for the major plot points. Then I let my characters take over. It’s like going on a trip without a map. I need to know what cities I need to visit to get to my destination. But I love to take side roads, too, as long as they bring me back to the main highway. My storyboard keeps me on track if my characters stray too far afield. In one book, I had a secondary character who was there to provide something for the main character. But suddenly she was in a budding romance. I let her go and followed her. It worked out great.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process? 
Getting to know my characters and editing are my favorite parts. That’s where the magic happens! The first draft is the worst part for me.
*Join the fun: What's your favorite or least favorite part of writing? Answer on Twitter! Click here and add your reply.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? 
From life! In Chapel Springs Revival, the “what if” came from an overheard conversation. Yes, I eavesdrop. I’m a writer. What can I say? In Chapel Springs Survival, our eldest son’s story was the inspiration. He got himself a 21st Century mail order bride. Yes he did. And he didn’t tell me for a year. For that, I told him it was going in a book. And it did.

Do you listen to music when you write? 
If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share? Normally, I write to barking. I have an English mastiff that barks at squirrels, leaves blowing, and unseen things. He’s a mess. But if I have music playing, I can’t ignore it. I start to sing. Then I find myself typing the lyrics. So I write to woofs.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing? Motivation is the key to good characters and great plots.

Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft? 
The Flip Dictionary. I’ve been through two of them. The first fell apart from use. I love it. It’s better than any other thesaurus out there.

How do you grow in your writing craft? 
My ACFW chapter has teaching each month. I attend a writers conferences every year, and I read voraciously.

How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share? 
You have to choose. I’m blessed that I didn’t start writing until my kids were grown and I don’t have a 9-5 job elsewhere. Besides my writing, Hubs and I are involved in Community Theater. I’m president and hubs is on the board of the one in our town, Players Guild@Sugar Hill. We also sing in a community choir that travels around north Georgia. Besides my writing, those are my passions. Fortunately, Hubs and I do them together. But I have to say no to other things I’d like to do.

Emilie here: What is this "no" word you speak of? Hehe. Unfortunately that's the hardest part for me--saying no!

You

What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
Reading with her as a little girl. She made books magical. Together, we'd travel to worlds otherwise unknown to us.

If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
Sushi. Yeah, I know, I’m weird.

What are you currently reading? 
I try to read in both the CBA and the ABA. I just finished Cynthia Ruchti’s Song of Silence. And I’m waiting for Barbara Davis’s new book Love, Alice.

Emilie here: Thanks for being my guest Ane! I love your sense of humor and your wonderful words here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

When a Dream is Turned on its Ear by Meghan M. Gorecki | Guest Post


The moment I woke up on some random morning around my fourteenth birthday, I knew I had a huge story to figure out. I had just literally had a vivid dream that turned out inspiring an entire novel. I can’t tell you why I dreamed of someone being caught in a severe thunderstorm in dense woods, or why a bolt of lightning hit a tree sending a deadened branch to the ground and paralyzing the faceless victim that would turn out to be my main character. I had always been consistently freaked out by thunderstorms…

I can tell you this. That random dream turned into a novel on a typewriter shortly thereafter, before it was typed into a document on my first laptop months later, only to be finished twice, rewritten once—and then overhauled not quite two years later. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Seven years it took me to write my first novel. I have since grown in writing speed, thank you God.

When what I thought was my final overhaul was through in 2013, I began shopping around. After doing some light reading as to queries, proposals, agents and all that jazz (emphasis on “light” reading) I shopped it around to over twenty agents all together. I just knew that this book had to be traditionally published—that there was no other way. It was similar to Lynn Austin’s Hidden Places in era and genre, after all! This may have only been three years ago, but oye with the youthful arrogance already.

Nothing panned out. Not one rejection came with any thread of critique or feedback on it. Once I got over feeling like an utter failure, so fed up with the novel of my heart sitting idly in my computer, I was tempted to leave it there since at least it was done after six-plus years.

I am so glad God didn’t leave me and this dream there.

I honestly can’t remember exactly why I was so set against indie-publishing. Thinking it was well and good for other people but not me. Once I actually took the time to talk to God about His dream for this novel of my heart, the novel that in many ways taught me how to write, a seedling of a new dream for the book took root. Maybe because I finally shut up about my own wants for this book and actually listened. Now, of course, I fought against it for a while—I have a thick skull—but right around the holidays of late 2013/into 2014, I put a stake in the ground and said, “I’m doing it.” For a Mother’s Day gift for my biggest cheerleader(s) who inspired so much of my novel—my mom and grandma.

Fast forward two years later—almost to the day.

It was unpleasantly humbling to let go of my dream of traditional publishing for this book. And um, wow is hindsight (even to two years ago) 20/20 in how I let my book go out there like it did. All I can say is: it's because of God.

I won’t use the cliché, 'It’s a dream come true to have my book in my hands'. Because it's not. It is a dream hard-fought; not exactly won in the way I would’ve originally preferred it to have been won. But this is because God knew better and His plan may have had its tough moments where He had to half-drag, half-carry me down life’s road—but it was all worth it. SO worth it.

Every time I hold my book in my hands—both the first edition and the second—I marvel at how He alone reshaped and renewed my dream for this book and my heart. But, despite the immense relief and joy I have in the fact that it is done, it’s not for, or because, of me. Letting go, being still, and letting God have His way is hard no matter what He calls you to. Listening is often the harder first step of that process. But whatever you’re facing—it will be worth it. The pain and the struggle all serves a purpose, even when you feel close to breaking.

I did title my story, a paper bound testimony to what God did and what He is still doing, God’s Will for a reason. And being in God’s will is the sweetest place to be.


Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction, a blogger, book reviewer and voracious reader. Taking her life a day at a time as God leads, she is pursuing a career in the publishing industry as an editor in training and as a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. A hopeless romantic, history and Marvel nut, she's also a redhead (thanks to a box), who knows way too much trivia about movie musicals and the Civil War. Find her on social media and at her blog, A Northern Belle (www.northernbellemeg.com)


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God's Will
Kathy Andrews is good at goodbyes. Her mother is sent to a sanatorium, her sister, left behind in Chicago, and her father, forced to roam looking for work. So she holds close to the only one she has left, her brother Danny. When the two go to live with the Marshalls in the sleepy town of Brighton, she doesn't let anyone past hello. Elliott Russell frowns at his aunt and uncle's generosity--even though he and his sister are on the receiving end. He frowns, too, at the uppity city girl with a chip on her shoulder whom he can't get out of his head. When a tragedy rips apart what tenuous existence they manage to forge, will they find the sweetest place to be is in God's will--or will they turn their backs on faith that fails to protect against pain?