Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jesus in real life {Thinking Theology}

E.A. Creative Photography
I’m tired.

And I’m guessing I’m not the only one out there who is thinking those very same words. Possibly even saying them as an excuse (though a valid one) right now.

*Yawn* Yep, still tired.

But, you know what? That’s okay.

I’ve come to realize that life doesn’t look as pretty as I thought it once did. I know that sounds slightly defeatist, but I’m not treading down that path. I’m only reflecting on the fact that, the older you get, the more you've seen. The more you've experience. The more that affects you.

Sometimes, it’s so much that it threatens to overwhelm me. I see the hurt in the world and think – why can’t I do something about it? I see those in need and think – why can’t I give them more? I see the unloved and think – how can I love them like He did? These are all good things to think, but they require a lot of time, resources, and effort.

In the midst of this I wonder...what heaven will be like? I start to think about the sick being healed and the Lord personally wiping away my tears.

I think of that, and then I think of where we live now, and I see the disparity between the two. And yet, it’s okay to be like this, because He promises to come again. He promises to make things new. He promises to heal this broken and torn down world.

I’ve been thinking about Jesus in real life.

How He loved those around him who were dirty. How He spent time with those that the religious leaders wouldn't. How He broke the mold of rules and regulations with a new covenant of love. How He put aside His desires for the sake of His Father and for us…ultimately giving up His last breath in order for ours to never cease.

Now I’m awake.

I’m thinking about His love. His grace. His just governing. His righteous right hand. His overwhelming goodness. His promises.

We live in darkness here, shadowed by the cloud of sin on an Earth ruled by the prince of the air, but there will come a day when we will no longer squint to see the truth. We will rise with Him, our feet pounding the pavement of a new earth restored to perfection beyond our wildest dreams.

Can you see it? Can you feel the exhilaration of hope that those thoughts bring?

So today, though you may be tired—though I am tired—let us put our thoughts away from present suffering and turn them to the future. Turn them to the One who upholds us. The One who never leaves nor forsakes us.

And let us be renewed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 ACFW Conference Highlights

Conference selife - I allow one
of myself per year ;)
It's not often that you leave a place knowing--and feeling--that people truly understand you. For me, that place is the ACFW Conference. Though this was only my second year attending, I feel as if I've been a part of the ACFW family for much longer than that. They are warm, welcoming, and above all - they understand my weirdness!

The ladies out for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory

What's that, you may ask? Weirdness? Well yes...in fact, having a conversation about the voices in your head is common place at a writers conference and it's normal! Not to mention when you get a group of us romantic suspense writers together all we tend to do is talk about ways to kill people...without getting caught. But, not to worry - it's only in our fictional worlds of course.

For me, thinking about this year's conference causes my eyes to do this funny watery thing and my throat to get a little constricted. Honestly, the Lord brought about amazing friendships (ones that happened even in the span of 5 days!) and I know they will last.

Some of the highlights
(represented by photos because...well, you know me and photography)

Brandilyn Collins as the MC for the conference. She does such a fantastic job each year! (P.S. For a little treat, visit her amazing website and you'll see one of the headshots I took of her last year right there on her page! Eeek!)
Worship by this amazing woman of God! Rachel Hauck does such a beautiful job in leading us to the throne each year at the conference. Her sweet spirit and genuine heart for the Lord pour out in her words and through her beautiful voice! I was personally encouraged by the song choices and the time spend before our Father in worship.
Chatting with this amazing woman!!! My dear readers, I talk about her a lot but I can't say enough great things about Ronie Kendig! Catching up with her at the conference was definitely a highlight - and I smile in anticipation of our continued friendship now that we're within "meeting up" distance - yea!
Haha...another highlight - bunny ear selifes with this guy! Chip MacGregor is hilarious and kept photo bombing my shots of the conference with his deceptive and sneaky bunny ears! It was only right that we got a selfie of it.
Being in St. Louis right by the Arch. Wow! Our hotel was in the best location ever. This shot was taken from our room window at sunrise - talk about a view! The staff was so friendly and the hotel itself was lovely. I particularly loved the park right out the front door where I took my headshot clients to capture the beautiful natural light and green foliage.
Another highlight: these people (and sooo many more I didn't get to take pictures with).

So...can you tell I had an amazing time at the conference? I'm so sad that it's over! I typically get to see these people one time a year (which is definitely NOT enough) and leaving is always hard. I'll probably do a more 'writing oriented' update later, but for now this post has helped me relive a small portion of the conference plus it has updated you, so I'd call that a win! ;)

If you went to the conference, what were some of your highlights???

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ACFW Bound + A Winner

My tired, excited face from last night
Well...I'm off folks! Headed to the ACFW Conference in St. Louis and I'm quite excited! Everything fit into my carry on and a backpack...if you ask me ,I think it's either some type of magic or I really am that skilled of a packer...not sure which is accurate.

I'll be smoozing with writers and authors from all over in just a few short hours. It's so fun to think that I'll be able to meet some of them face to face when we've only interacted via the internet. I'll try and update my Facebook page where possible (maybe a few "author crush" pictures?) so make sure you connect with me over there!

Until then, check out the giveaway winner...

If you remember last week I had the lovely Amanda G. Stevens on the blog talking about her first release, Seek and Hide. Well, one lucky person will get their choice of ebook or paper back.

And the winner is...

Beth Bulow

Congratulations Beth! I've heard Seek and Hide is amazing and now you'll get to find out for yourself! Contact me via the contact form to the left.

Thanks for everyone that entered. Come back often - maybe you'll be the winner next time ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Amanda G. Stevens {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

I am so exited to introduce you to the lovely Amanda G. Stevens. You'll probably recognize her from a previous post about headshots, but what you don't know is that she's a newly signed author with David C Cook and her book has just been released. Join with me in a little cheering *woohoo*!!!

Anyway, I'm honored to have her as a guest here on the blog today. PLUS (it just keeps getting better) she's offered a copy of her book as a giveaway. Yep, that's right! You could be reading Seek and Hide by next week (or now if you go and buy her book wink!).

To enter to win a copy, leave a comment for Amanda below and/or share your favorite fall drink.

A little bit about Amanda...

As a child, Amanda disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn. Her first novel, Seek and Hide, is now available.
How to connect with Amanda...

Website: http://amandagstevensbooks.com
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/AmandaGStevens
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AmandaGStevens
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmandaGStevens
Purchase Seek and Hide: A Novel (Haven Seekers Book 1)

Author Interview | Amanda G. Stevens

You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Story has been my deepest love since before I could read. I wrote my first story in first grade, and I’ve been writing ever since. It’s something I’ve always known I wanted to do and be. I guess I’m kept writing by the characters in my head—loving them and wanting others to love them, too.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Any work in progress is always my least favorite when I’m drafting and my favorite when I’m editing. But if I really had to choose, I guess it has to be Book Three. I waited years to write some of those scenes. They’d taken root inside my head, and when I could finally give them life on the page, it was an emotional experience. Hopefully, when Book Four is finished, it will be my new favorite, but I’m too mired in the first draft right now to believe myself about that.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I haven’t been published long enough to comment on being published, but as for getting published … For me, the most difficult thing is networking. I’m extremely introverted. This doesn’t mean I have no use for people, but it does mean small talk with strangers takes effort. Mingling at writers’ conferences? Walking up to strangers and saying hi? The prospect of these things has made me short of breath a few times in my life. Usually (less dramatically), I just freeze. I’ve improved a lot with this, but I still have improving to do.

...The easiest thing for me is editing. Not that it’s easy, but I love to do it. Once that first draft is born, I love the process of molding it and polishing it into something I want other people to see. 

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book? Why did you write it?
...Seek and Hide, which has just released, is the first in a four-book series in which the government has taken control of the church. Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations.

...This book is about Marcus Brenner, a new Christian who is in awe that, after years without family, he now has one in his Christian brothers and sisters. He vows not to let this new family down and plunges into a one-man war, helping Christians flee or hide. The book is also about Aubrey Weston, who recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. She was released back then, but now she’s targeted again, and her baby is taken into custody. Aubrey and Marcus collide in the cabinet aisle of a hardware store, one needing protection and the other determined to protect. God uses this encounter to grab hold of both of them and compel them to confront the lies they believe about themselves.

...I wrote Seek and Hide because of Marcus and Lee (who plays a secondary role in this book and whom Marcus is in love with). I’ve had these two characters in my head for ten years—their desires and fears but also the little individualizing details about them. I’ve always wanted, more than anything else, to introduce them to the world and to write them well.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Haha, see above. If it’s between my two series leads, I have to choose Marcus. I love the earnestness with which he approaches everything he does. I love the crinkles around his eyes when he smiles. He risks himself to save strangers. He fights so hard to stay sober and loses himself so easily in his woodworking. He’s a terrible communicator and he can’t quit anything he starts, good or bad. He loves ice cream sundaes and good movies and hard work and sky-gazing.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...This is a tough one, because I don’t write with themes in mind. Sometimes I can see them after the fact; sometimes readers point them out to me. I guess I hope Christian readers ask themselves what they’d do in a world like Marcus and Aubrey and Lee’s. Would they risk their freedom to tell the Gospel? Hopefully, Seek and Hide will cause Christians to examine the world around them and stop taking for granted the Bible in legally plain sight on their nightstand.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?

...My characters are never based on myself or people I know. Not deliberately, anyway. For example, Aubrey values books and literacy. Marcus has no use for books. I’m with Aubrey on this one, but I didn’t give her that trait because I agree with her. It just fit who she is and didn’t fit who Marcus is. Or for example, Marcus is a ridiculously stubborn person. I know stubborn people and pliable people and people in between (we all do, right?). But that doesn’t mean Marcus is supposed to resemble the stubborn people I know. Stephen King describes writing a story as “unearthing” it, and I feel that way about my characters. All I’m doing is discovering who they already are. And my plots unfold based on what these characters would naturally do.

...As for this particular storyworld, Marcus and Lee are the kind of characters who want to be fighting a war. The storyworld grew from that.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want my reader to grow to love and worry about my characters. I want to provide artistic excellence; improving my craft is really important to me. I want to tell the truth about evil and bring glory to God as the only true good.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Well, if you can be a happy person writing sans publishing, do that. If you really want this, if you can’t stop wanting it, then read a lot and write a lot. Work on your craft and never stop working on it; always improve with the next book. Let the story lead you. As Steven James says, “If you’re starting with a message you want to get across, write nonfiction instead.” Also, if you’re a believer, then give everything to God. Pray a lot. Otherwise, priorities get murky.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...Either I scribble some thoughts into a notebook (depending on how clear the idea is), or more likely I think about it for awhile before I try to write anything down. I need at least one night’s sleep. For some reason, the idea is more vivid the next time I’m awake. This is true of my scenes as well. It’s easier to write something I came up with yesterday than something I came up with today.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?

...Oh, no. This is too hard. Um … Okay, a list? Classic characters I love, in no particular order: Rhett Butler, Fitzwilliam Darcy, John Thornton (I confess I haven’t read this one, only seen the wonderful BBC adaptation), Atticus Finch, Long John Silver, Bigwig the rabbit, Philip Marlowe, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Percy Blakeney, Shane, Aragorn, Aslan.

What is your favorite fall snack food?
...My favorite anytime snack food is white cheddar popcorn. It’s treacherous. I open the bag and suddenly it’s empty and I have no memory of how that happened, except there’s this white powder coating my fingers….


Thank you so much for being on the blog today Amanda! Folks, I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda at the ACFW Conference last year and we ended up waiting for a flight together. It was so fun getting to talk to her about her writing aspirations, to become Facebook friends (so, "real" friends - ha!) and then to see her dream to become published turn into a reality! And then I got to interview her. How fun is that?

Anyway, I say "amen and amen" to the difficulty of networking. Being an introvert myself, it's just tough to step out of your shell (or from behind your computer) to try and convince someone that the characters who talk to you are worth selling in book form. I also think it's great that you had such a hard time picking characters from a classical novel :D There are so many good ones...

**Readers, don't forget to leave a comment below so you can enter to win the GIVEAWAY! I expect we'll be seeing a lot more from Amanda (and her books) in the future.**

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Deceived by Irene Hannon | RE:View

Last week's interview with Megan Lee offered a giveaway of her novel, Song from the Ashes. I'm excited to announce we have a winner...

Debra Metzler

Congrats, Debra! Contact me via the form to the left and we'll get you your copy of Megan's book.


It's been three years of grief for Kate Marshall. When her husband and young son died in a boating accident she knew she had to move on, but can you ever truly let go?

Then, in the midst of the new life she has forged for herself in St. Louis, she sees a boy who looks just like her son. It couldn't be. Could it?

Enter Connor Sullivan, former Secret Service agent. His strength of character, not to mention his attractive good looks, catches Kate off guard when she decides to hire the agent turned PI to track down the boy she saw.

On this roller coaster ride of emotions and suspense, Irene Hannon will keep you guessing. She elaborately weaves together multiple perspectives and lays a patchwork of clues that are combined with skill by her hero and heroine.

I enjoyed this third installation of the Private Justice series as I enjoyed Trapped, book 2. I'd definitely recommend it for lovers of romantic suspense.

Purchase Deceived (Private Justice Book #3): A Novel

Book Description
(from Irene's website)
For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she’s convinced it’s her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating “accident” begins to look more and more suspicious. But if Kate’s son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden—and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.
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. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I was tagged by my friend Kelly from Creating Justice One Suspense At A Time to participate in a fun question type game on the blog. Today, I'm sharing somethings you might not know about me and maybe some that you do. I'll be posting this on my Facebook page with some tags to challenge friends to share!

Evidence of my "tall-ness".
Question 1: How tall are you?
TALL. Haha, ok not that tall, but I feel taller since all my friends seem to be short ;) I'm 5' 7 3/4" (I know, you're probably thinking just say 8" but I hold that 3/4 of an inch dearly).

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
I *cough* am a classically trained vocalist. Yeah, yeah, that means opera. Though you'll likely hear me singing in a breathy, jazzy type voice, I was trained to sing "correctly" and have a degree in vocal performance.
(...and I'm secretly a ninja!)

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Personal: Posting something that has a typo/error.
Non-Personal: People who rant about things as if they are always right.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Loud chewing/chewing with your mouth open. Ick.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Hymn: There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood
Contemporary: Why Georgia by John Mayer

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
I don't have one, but I love the vintage shops. I have a list of "liked" vintage items - most are from WWII. Did I mention I am slightly addicted to collecting and decorating with antiques?

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Either writing or reading.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Don't really eat it. Maybe chips?

My "adopted" dogs!
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
Well...technically no, but in my heart yes! Shout out to Piper (my friend Jane's dog) and then the dogs down the street I take care of: Ava, Capice, and Luna.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
Oh gosh. Asking this to a big reader is like asking to choose your favorite child (not that I have kids...). Um, I'll go from recently read stuff.
#1 Fiction: Raptor 6 (The Quiet Professionals Book 1) by the amazing Ronie Kendig
#2 Non-Fiction: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by gentle and sweet Bonnie Gray

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

Chap stick. Ha - does that count?

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Like, every day of my life? I'm always doing something silly. Recently...locked my keys in the house.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
COFFEE. I'm unashamed to admit that.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
The Princess Bride - classic!

Me at a band competition - told ya I was a geek!
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Band geek...all the way.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
In an historic house on the Oregon or Washington Coast.

Question 17: PC or Mac?
PC? What's that. Mac all the way!!!

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
...no news to report on this...

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
How about who he plays? 'Cause Captain America is pretty amazing.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?
Jasmine Star. Just love her photography and she seems to have a great sense of humor!

So, did any of these surprise you? If so, which ones?

**This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info,check out the beginning post right here.**

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pre ACFW Conference Mix and Mingle

E.A. Creative Photography
So, writer Laurie Tomlinson offered this fun idea of an online mix and mingle before the ACFW conference and I thought it would be fun to join in! If you're attending the conference, hop on over to her post and join in the fun.

Name: Emilie Hendryx

Location: Washington, D.C.

What you write/tagline/trademark: Romantic Suspense/ at this point I don't have a tagline :)

Place in the book world: Pre-published author looking for representation for my novel Runaway that I'm currently revising with hopes Love Inspired Suspense will choose to publish it. Also working on many other novels!

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Definitely a hugger!

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Books, music, photography, Jesus...Star Trek

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: Roommate and friend, Jenn and my new church family in DC

Conference goals we can pray for? That I could find representation.

Anything we can celebrate with you? Well, I'm excited to be the conference photographer again so you can celebrate with me by smiling my way at the conference :D

One or two ways we can help you build your platform?Yep: *like* my new Facebook page and follow my blog Thinking Thoughts

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Megan Lee {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Megan...

Megan Whitson Lee grew up in Tennessee and moved to the Washington, D.C. area as a teenager. She worked for criminal attorneys before earning her master’s degree from George Mason University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. Previously she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music followed by a year-long residence in London where she worked as a Literary Assistant. Her self-published first novel All That is Right and Holy won second place in the 2009 Christian Choice Book Awards. Megan teaches high school English in Fairfax County, Virginia where she lives with her husband and two greyhounds.

How to connect with Megan...

Website: www.meganwhitsonlee.net
Blog: http://www.meganwhitsonlee.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22709567-song-from-the-ashes
Facebook: www.facebook.com/meganwhitsonlee
Twitter: @MeganWhitsonLee

Author Interview | Megan Lee

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I remember writing as a little kid—in elementary school creative writing was my favorite subject. In the 4th grade I became obsessed with old reruns of the 1966 soap opera Dark Shadows; I tried to write my own episodes and gave them to our school librarian to read (poor woman).
...I continued to write all through middle school, high school, and college, deciding to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from George Mason University. What has kept me writing? I love to tell a story, and ultimately I hope the stories glorify God and are redemptive in nature.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...I think my favorite novel is my self-published one: All That is Right and Holy. It deals with difficult subject matter (sex-trafficking), but it’s a cause for which I feel great passion. In the novel, I sought not only to bring attention to the evil of that industry, but also to offer up a message of hope: God can heal, redeem, and release people from all sorts of bondage.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

...For self-publishing: the expense was the hardest part; for small press publishing, trusting that everything was going well without my hands being in every stitch of the process. The easiest? Is there any easy part?

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...Song from the Ashes is a retelling of the classic Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence. It’s the story of Landon Kingsley and his struggle to choose between two women—April, the one he feels God wants him to marry, and Ella, the one he desires. Ella is April’s cousin, and she’s just returned to Kingsport, Tennessee after ten years of pursuing a career as a country music singer in Nashville. Her failed career and affair with a married music producer scandalizes her in the eyes of the town, but her legal troubles drive her to Landon for help. Landon finds himself increasingly attracted to Ella and more discontent than ever with the path he’s chosen for his life. In the meantime, he’s caught in a firestorm of family and town gossip, along with simultaneously dealing with his past and the complicated decision of whether to listen to God’s voice or follow his own desires.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I think Landon is my favorite character. I understand his struggle—maybe not so much the idea of deciding between two love interests, but the battle against feeling trapped in his own life. I think all of us at one time or another feel railroaded into something that we don’t want to do. But sometimes God asks us to do hard things, bear tough burdens, and ultimately—to trust Him. That’s not always easy, and at times it may even look like He doesn’t want us to be happy. Landon is wrestling with doing the right thing versus personal happiness, and I think that makes him a sympathetic character with whom a lot of people can identify.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

...God loves us and wants what is best for us, and what’s best for us isn’t always the happy ending we hope for. Sometimes it looks a little different. Sometimes He asks us to sacrifice something out of obedience to Him. And out of that sacrifice comes the blessing—or in this case—the song from the ashes.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Both. And sometimes the character or story I envision or begin writing isn’t what ends up unfolding. I might have a mysterious mood in mind when I begin a story, but by the end, the mood is much more humorous based on the turns the plot takes.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?

...I think a little of all of these things. I used to write for escapism—creating settings and atmosphere that I would want to spend time in. Now, I think I want people to identify with characters, keep turning the pages to find out what happens next, and find God’s Truth clearly residing within the pages of the book.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Read as much as possible—especially that of the genre in which you wish to write. Set daily writing goals for yourself until you’ve seen your book to completion. If you’re interested in traditional publishing, persevere. Spend time sending out queries, queries, and more queries. If you feel the Lord has called you to write, do it. He’ll carve out avenues that lead to writing opportunities.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?

...When I first get an idea, I pray about it and ask if God wants me to write that story. If I feel the answer is “yes” I ask Him to grant me inspiration and the words for the novel. I keep a spiral notebook and write down random ideas about the story, things I want to have happen, etc., and then I write up a character profile with everything I can possibly think of for each of the main characters. After that, I jump into the first chapter and see what happens!

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...I love classical music! (I was a music major in my undergrad studies, so Chopin and Beethoven really grew on me!) But let’s see…favorite female classical novel character…I guess I’d have to say Elizabeth Bennett. I admire her wit and willingness to accept and roll with the punches. Favorite male: Heathcliff, without a doubt. The tortured soul always attracted me in classic literature.

What is your favorite fall snack food? 

...Ha! Great question! Fall is my favorite season, so I associate it with hot apple cider and popcorn for some reason.

Enter to win a copy of Megan's novel A Song from the Ashes by leaving your favorite classic novel in the comments below!
Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Megan. I love have you ask if there's an easy part of publishing. I laughed because, honestly, even if you love writing and it comes easily to you, it's still work. It's not always easy! And I love that you mentioned popcorn! As my friends will attest, I have a slight obsession with popcorn *hehe*. And thanks for offering a giveaway. I look forward to announcing the winner next week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee | RE:View

The absolutely stunning tale Tosca Lee weaves through The Legend of Sheba renders me breathless with its intricacy and rich, detailed beauty.
Framed by eloquent descriptions and fueled by romance, The Legend of Sheba will transport you across ocean and land to the oasis of the land of Saba and to a young woman named Bilqis. Her journey to become queen is fraught with turmoil, hurt, passion, and an overwhelming sense of destiny. It is a tale that will touch your very soul.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Legend of Sheba! You can tell the historical background was thoroughly researched, and yet it flows so smoothly that you experience the setting as if it is native to you. The characters are deep and the emotional connection to them is immediate. The plot draws you in and at once submerges you in the land of Saba.

I highly recommend this novel to all. If you enjoy historical fiction it is a must - but, even if you don't, it's still a recommendation because of the skill with which Tosca Lee writes. She is at once a storyteller and a magician of words and descriptions, creating a world her readers can enjoy and experience.

Purchase The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen

Book Description
(from Tosca's website)
There is the tale that is told: A desert queen journeyed north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king and his One God. The story of a queen conquered by a king before she returned to her own land laden with gifts.

That is the tale you are meant to believe.
Which means most of it is a lie.

1000BC. The king of Sheba is dead and Bilqis, his exiled daughter, has gained the crown after a desperate overland march and battle for the capital. Solomon, the brash king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or the riches of Sheba. With the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid save her kingdom.

An explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history.

The Legend of Sheba releases tomorrow so you only have one day to wait! 

If you can't wait that long, make sure to check out the short pre-release of Ismeni - the story of Bilqis' mother. It's FREE on Amazon right now!

Download  Ismeni: An eShort Prelude to The Legend of Sheba

Check out the video trailer to The Legend of Sheba...

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. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What are you saying with your headshot? (part 3)

On to part 3 of this mini-series about headshots and photography. Check out part 1 about why you need a professional headshot and part 2 about what to do to prepare for your headshot session.

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what are you saying with your headshot?

We've talked about why you need professional headshots and what to do during your session, but now let's focus on what you'll see.

Who are you?

The best thing that your headshots can show is who you are. Below are 4 pictures I took at the ACFW conference last year. They are broken up into 2 categories though it's all the same person - the lovely Amanda G. Stevens (a new author at David C Cook). As you can see, the top two show a lovely, smiling Amanda, while the bottom show a more mysterious, yet no less lovely, side of her. They are all completely her, but they give off different feelings.

Amanda can use any of these photos interchangeably, but we did a few different "looks" so she can choose what fits.

When you're thinking about taking your photos, think of your style of writing. Amanda writes dystopian literature and, though her lovely smiling face is great for Facebook and other things, the mysterious look also works really well with her genre.

Elizabeth Goddard's tagline is: "Escape to Adventure, Romance, and Suspense"

As you can see from her headshot, the photo is uniquely her - with a cute jean jacket and big smile - but it also fits the tone of her website

Tosca Lee is another author who has a distinct style. Being a former model (isn't she beautiful?) she was comfortable posing, but she also knew what type of image she wanted to portray. 

Speaking of which,The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen is AMAZING and you should probably get a copy ;)


Once you've figured out what it is you're saying (your "branding" to use a marketing term), you need to know a few things about your photos. It's definitely the trickier, technical side of things you never considered about photography... No, it's not all just taking photos and handing them over. There are a lot of things for you, the author, to consider when signing a contract or accepting a session with your photographer.

 **Please note: I do not pretend to be an expert on this. I am just going off of my own personal research and experience with my business to hopefully help point you in the right direction. These are helpful suggestions, nothing more :)


What are you getting? 
The best question to ask any photographer you work with is what you are getting by signing your contract and paying your fees. Likely, you will not receive full copyrights to your images. That's natural so don't worry. The photographer retains the copyrights because the images are their artwork. Instead, you will most likely receive a copyright release which allows you a certain type of access to your images.

(think weddings, senior photos, family photos)
For many photography sessions that offer digital images, a non-commercial print release is included, which allows you to print the photos through the lab of your choice but not to sell the images for profit (you didn't take them, they aren't yours to sell). Most photographers compensate for offering digital images by making the disc relatively expensive due to the fact that they will lose any further sales by handing over the digital images.

More common is the option to purchase prints/albums through your photographer or to purchase media-friendly images for personal use at a higher cost. It is typical for the media-friendly images to include the photographers watermark as a means of promotion for the photographer. Their images will circulate the Internet and, without a watermark, no one will know who took the image. Think of it like an artist's signature.

(think magazine covers or stock photography)
For commercial photography, a photographer is taking a photo that will be used in a commercial capacity. If the photographer is selling it, they are typically compensating their models (this compensation could be photos or money) because they themselves will gain compensation from the photo. An author will be using the photos for a type of commercial use - you aren't selling the image, but it is on something that will sell (ie: a book). That's where things get a little tricky.

What you as an author will want to clarify is that you need a limited liability release for commercial purposes. 

Don't get confused with the terminology here - you are not purchasing the copyright to your photos, just the ability (the release) to use them for commercial purposes (on book covers or magazines etc.). A photographer almost never sells the copyright (and if they do, we're talking a large sum here). With a limited liability release, it means that the photographer is released from responsibility of the photo and how it's circulated, though they still retain the rights to their image.

And a note to authors: Should you have photos taken and they are used on your books, credit your photographer where possible. I know that sometimes your publisher will not be able to do this - I've looked at many books and cannot find anything about who took the authors photo. But...is that fair? Not really. What better promotion for your photographer than to be attributed to the images they took? Just a thought from a photographer ;)

Model Release

Another aspect of your author headshots could be a model release. Should your photographer ask you to sign one, you can always inquire as to why they would want to do this, but it is very typical and a safety precaution for them. There are many reasons, but here are a few:
  • Image use on a blog or website for promotion (most common) 
  • Image use on printed materials for photographer (again, for promotion)
  • Image use for stock photography or sale purposes (this is typically part of the agreement)
Personally, as a photographer, I ask my clients to sign a model release so that I can use their images for promotional sake. Like the photos in this post - I can use them as examples because my clients signed their permission. This release also acts as protection to the photographer so that they cannot be sued for using the photos they have taken.

So, there are some tips from a writer and a photographer about headshots. Did you find this mini-series helpful? What are your thoughts about headshots? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Friday, September 5, 2014

What are you saing with your headshot? (part 2)

Today, we're talking about author/writer headshots. If you missed part 1 in this mini-series you can find it [here].

If a picture is worth a 1000 words...what are you saying with your headshot?

Dos and Don'ts of a good headshot session

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner
Hopefully I convinced you of the importance of a great headshot in part one - now on to the logistics.
What happens when you go to get your headshots taken? 
To break it down, here are some definite dos and don'ts when thinking about your headshot session:


Wear something that makes you feel comfortable
This is so important! You want to feel comfortable and look your best. Plan out what you will wear in advance (see below for some easy guidelines) and make sure that it's uniquely you. The best bet is to have something casual and something more dressy/business casual. Maybe that's adding or taking away a jacket or outer layer shirt.

Make sure there are a mixture of photos smiling and not smiling
You may prefer to have all of your photos smiling or all not smiling, but try taking both types of photos. Sometimes you won't know what you like until you see the final product.

Take the time to put on makeup
Women: Make sure you take the time to apply makeup. You don't need to go over the top, but photos can wash out your complexion. Even if you don't typically wear makeup, it's a good idea to ask a friend to help you. Even a little makeup can go a long way to making you look professional and pulled together.
Men: Makeup may not be necessary, but make sure to trim those pesky nose hairs, pluck your eyebrows, and maybe apply a little chapstick to make sure your lips aren't chapped.

Corrine from I Said Hello Hurricane
Feel confident
This is a BIG one. I know that so many people struggle with being in front of the camera. Maybe they think they aren't photogenic or they would rather hide behind something than have their photo taken. These people are typically extremely critical of what they look like and are very hard to please with photos of themselves. I get it. I really do.

Let me challenge you with a few thoughts:

...Your nervousness/anxiety in front of the camera will come across in your photos. Oh, great! you're thinking, Then there's no hope! This isn't true. A good photographer will do their best to make you feel as comfortable as possible when taking your photos. They will give you poses, assess your posture, and give you tips to looking more natural. BUT, they can't do all the work. It's important for you to head into this session with a positive attitude.
Don't think: "I will never look good" or "I hate all pictures of myself". Thinking like that poisons your perception of yourself and will prejudice you against any and all photos no matter how good the photographer is. 
...What are your expectations? Are you expecting to look 10lbs lighter than you are? Do you think those wrinkles will disappear? Yes, Photoshop does do some amazing work, but let's be honest. People aren't perfect.
No photo will ever make you feel better about yourself if your perception isn't accurate in the first place. 
You will look at a photo and see what you want to (the grey hair, the extra wrinkles, the not-so-perfect jaw line etc.). If this is why you don't like having your photos taken, then the issue is more than skin deep. So...

...Place your worth in more than an image. You are you (I know, a duh statement). If you aren't happy with the face you see, ask yourself (and more importantly, ask the Lord) why that's true. If your dissatisfaction is based on heart issues, no photo will ever make you happy no matter how much you weight or how photo-shopped your face is.

**Hear my heart here: I'm not saying that there aren't any bad photos taken. I'm not saying you shouldn't be picky as well. Some images will make you feel better about yourself and that's natural, but please be on guard in your heart about your attitude toward your self image.

Cody | Headshots
Though your author/writer photos are a big deal, they should not be anxiety-inducing! If you've chosen a photographer who's work you like, chances are the images will turn out as good, if not better than those photos you've seen. Rest in that, and enjoy the session!

Forget - photographers are people too
We may seem enigmatic and mysterious, but we're not. Haha, okay, maybe some of us are, but we're people too. What's more likely is that your photographer doesn't like being in front of the camera just as much as you! Strike up conversation with your photographer and get to know them as a person, which may help you feel more comfortable with them and therefore more comfortable during your session.

Forget to smile...I mean, really smile!
None of this fake smiling! Your readers want to see the real you and your real smile. That may take some extra work on your photographers side, but hopefully they will be able to coax a genuine smile from you.

What to wear 

Here are some guidelines for you to consider when planning out what to wear to your headshot session:
  • Comfort: As I said above.
  • Colors that compliment your complexion: Check out this article!
  • Jewelry: If you would normally wear it, add it!
  • Glasses: I'd recommend a few photos with and without your glasses, but I go by the same rule as jewelry - if you normally wear them, then keep them on.
  • Shy away from very pale colors or white: These aren't great options for photos and can wash you out.
  • Come prepared: This may mean bringing an extra jacket, sweater, or shirt to put over what you're already wearing to give you 2 separate "looks". You can also add/take away scarves or hats.
  • Be YOU
Well, there you have it. Some (albeit lengthy) suggestions. If you have any questions about this, feel free to comment below or contact me via the form to the left. Check back tomorrow for part 3 where I'll discuss being you and common copyright misconceptions! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What are you saying with your headshot? (part 1)

Me ;)
I'm preparing to head off to the ACFW Conference where I will be acting as the conference photographer. In addition to that, I'll also be taking headshots of authors and aspiring authors to update their profiles or if they needs headshots for their upcoming books. It's a lot of fun (I did this last year) and I thought I'd share some tips about headshots and why they are important. This will be part of a 3 part series so make sure to "tune in" again for parts 2 and 3!

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what are you saying with your headshot?

Why a good headshot? 

You may be thinking--I'm just starting out as an author, I won't need a good headshot until I sell my book.

You're wrong.

Sorry, that's harsh--but it's true. In this age of social media and promotion, your face is sometimes all someone will see of you. We are told not to judge a book by its cover but we all do it. I know I do it. Unfortunately, this is true for who you are portraying yourself to be through your headshot.

I'm not saying we need to look alike. If anything, I'd be saying we all need to look like US.

You may wonder what that means. Well, you are what makes you unique. Yes, that's what I meant to say. YOU are your brand. If you are an author/writer, no matter what stage (published or not) you are building up awareness of you. Your smiling (or not smiling) face is who your readers will associate with you.

I think of Ted Dekker as an example (see what I mean here). A little creepy, right? Well, his headshots and other photos of him are all in line with that. Yes, I hear you all cringe behind your computers. This is marketing. Ugh! I know, not a lot of fun, but definitely helpful when you are trying to get the word out about your book.

Expense and Savings | Where to skimp and where to splurge

The next thing I always hear when discussing headshots or photography is, "But it's expensive!" My only reply to that is: yes, it is.

"But wait, Emilie, you're a starving writer. You should relate to my plight of not wanting to pay for photos."

Ah-ha! Gotcha. I'm also a starving photographer! I know, a terrible combination, eh? Let me just say that I do commiserate with you, photography can be very expensive, but let's put this into perspective.

>>At the very least you spend possibly $50-$75 for a mini-headshot session (p.s. this is really cheap!). If you use this photo for a year, that cost you $4.17-$6.25 a month. If you use it for 2 years, that's $2.08-$3.13 a month. (That's less than you'd spend on coffee in a WEEK)

>>On the higher end, let's say you spend $175-$225. For 1 year that's $14.58-$18.75 a month (that's like paying for Netflix and Hulu+) or for 2 years, $7.29-$9.35 a month (just Netflix). Just think if you stretched it to 3 years??

I would recommend spending a little more and getting a great headshot that will last you rather than getting by with what you have and putting forward less than your best.
I used this shot for almost 2 years!
Just a word on photography in general tough. There area LOT of factors that go into making a great photographer. No, it's not the camera that takes great pictures - it's the photographer.

What that means:
  • They have spent time learning their craft
  • They have done research/reading/studying about photography
  • They have invested money into their equipment (we're talking thousands of dollars here)
  • They are committed to giving you the best quality images they can 

Headshot or No Headshot - that is the question!

The simple answer is YES!

If you have any type of media presence online or are hoping to build one, you need to make sure that your audience is seeing the "real" you. A confident, assured, smiling you. Well, unless you want to be a little moody - depending on what you write of course ;) Check back in on Friday for part 2 where I'll discuss the dos and don'ts of headshots and some suggestions on posing and what to wear.

If you're going to the ACFW Conference, take advantage of the conference photographer (hehe *wink* that's me!) and sign up for a 15 minute session by following this link: calendly.com/eacreativephotography

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Falcon Cover Reveal Giveaway

Just wanted to share with you about an awesome opportunity Ronie Kendig is offering! She's just revealed the cover of her novel Falcon - and it looks AMAZING!!! You can enter the giveaway below right here :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, if you're anxious and just can't wait...

Hawk is releasing November 1st! You can pre-order it here: Hawk (The Quiet Professionals Book 2)

Diane E. Tatum {Writer Wednesday} + Winner

First off, before I introduce you to Diane Tatum, I'd like to announce the winner of Carrie F. Pagels book, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.

Mary Ellen Goodwin

Congrats Mary! You can contact me using the contact form on the left here and we'll get you your book :)

BUT - don't feel too bad if you didn't win, because today's {Writer Wednesday} author is giving away a copy of her book (paper back or ebook) Gold Earrings!!!

To enter, leave a comment for Diane and/or let us know one thing you look for when picking up a new book (is it the cover, the back cover blurb, or something else?).

A little bit about Diane...

Diane E. Tatum grew up, got married, and had her 2 sons in St. Louis County, MO. They lived in Newport News, VA, for 12 years then moved to Tullahoma, TN, in 1997. She taught in Tullahoma City Schools for 11 years, retired in 2009, and is now (as of 2013) an adjunct professor at Motlow State Community College. She teaches Comp 1 and Comp 2 at Tullahoma HS for the dual enrollment classes and Survey of American Lit at the college. Diane is the author of Gold Earrings. She is currently working on an American History series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers, Faith Writers, and John 3:16 Authors.

How to connect with Diane...

Website: www.dianeetatumwriter.com
Blogs: http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/

Facebook: Gold Earrings & Diane Elaine Tatum
Author Interview | Diane Tatum

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing mystery short stories in elementary school. I wrote the short story that became the novel Gold Earrings while in high school. I finished the novel and shopped it around in the mid-nineties. Not a nibble. After I retired, I spent the next year seriously trying to get it published. I finally found Tate Publishing who wanted to publish it. It is an ‘author investment’ publishing house, but I felt it needed to finally see the light of day. My mother paid my investment.

...I’ve had good success with Gold Earrings even though it was not traditionally published. Check out the reviews on Amazon!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it? ...I am currently writing on the second book in my American History series. Set just prior to the War of 1812, my hero is like the Beast in The Beauty and the Beast. He is torn up with bitterness and resentment after needing to care for his siblings after his parents’ death. In addition, his Uncle Ben and his wife die as well. My heroine is the daughter of the pastor who comes to the church to fill Uncle Ben’s pulpit.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...The focus is on resolving the bitterness within which creates chaos in your soul and your life.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...The characters I write about are usually from my imagination. That said my imagination, my romantic actions and thoughts, my ideas are informed by my experiences, the books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, and most importantly the people in my life.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...Of course, with fiction the overarching goal is entertainment. However, entertainment is the best way to teach. My goal is to represent the everyday life of Christians, to show how Christians live a life under the influence of the Holy Spirit. What makes our lives different? How do we fix the problems that come into our lives? How does God affect Christians and the way they react to ordinary life issues?

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Keep writing. Start a blog at Blogspot or WordPress. Take every opportunity to learn more: at conferences, in critique groups, and online. Join organizations as you can. Make connections online through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. By building a community, you will gather what you need to know how to write well and make connections to help you meet editors, agents, and publishers.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do? ...When I think of a grand idea or a character, I write as much as I know about it on my computer and save the file in a file called “Ghost of Writing Yet-to-Come.” It drives my husband crazy for me to have these ideas sitting out there waiting for me to have time to write them. It’s one reason he encouraged me to retire from teaching 7th grade, so I could “write my stories”.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?

...Scrooge’s nephew Fred embodies the true spirit of Christmas in A Christmas Carol. He continues to ask Scrooge to dinner even though Scrooge turns him down. His invitation is without guile or ulterior motives. He wants a relationship with his uncle for his mother’s sake. He doesn’t harbor bitterness or ill will toward Scrooge. He forgives and loves him despite Scrooge’s ill humor.

What is your favorite fall snack food?
...Fresh crisp apples – quartered or in apple salad, apple pie or apple cake.
Thanks so much for being on the blog today Diane! I love how you say your purpose, aside from entertainment, is to show how Christians "do" everyday life. That's awesome :) Your file title, "Ghost of Writing Yet-to-Come" made me laugh! I have a file like that, but it's named "Story Ideas" - soooo boring of me.

Don't forget to leave a comment readers! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.