Thursday, December 29, 2011

MEET GINA CONROY


I would like to introduce our third guest blogger, Gina Conroy. 

It’s Christmas Time In New York City
by Gina Conroy

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas…”
When I think of Christmas,  I think of New York City. The chill in the air. The bright tree in Rockefeller Center. Watching skaters navigate the ice with grace, buying chestnuts from a street vendor to keep warm, and the Rockets Christmas show.
I’ve only attended the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes a couple times in my life, but both times they made an indelible impression on me. One when I was little. I remember standing in line holding a brown paper bag full of chestnuts too hot to eat. I remember the chill in the air, the long time waiting in line, and warming my hands from the warm paper bag. I don’t recall the Radio City Christmas Show, but I remember my mom telling me about how her mom would always take her into New York City to see the Christmas show. I wanted my children to have the same experience, but we lived smack dab in the middle of the United States. When I heard the show would be playing in Branson one year, I made reservations for the show and was more excited than my children.
When we walked into the theatre, I couldn’t remember the details of the show. Didn’t even know if the show would be the same, all I knew was that it was  spectacular and I couldn’t wait for my children to experience it.
The show lived up to its name. It was spectacular! The costumes, the music, the dancing, the Rockettes chorus line, even Santa showed up. It was a lively, show that kept the attention of my small children, but what I didn’t know was that it was going to be a moving spiritual experience for me that I would remember for a life time.
The moment came after all the glitz and glamour. The show was almost over, but the lights dimmed.  Then “the show’s pinnacle since 1933” began. In reverent procession the live nativity, with hundreds of people and live animals, started down both isle telling the story of the first Christmas without words.
My breath caught and my spirit was stirred as the wise men and their entourage brought their gifts to the baby Jesus. The king of the Jews whom they had come to worship. I’m not sure how long the procession lasted, but it was long enough for me to worship like they did.
All the “spectacular” of the show faded away and in that moment, in a dark theatre it was Christmas. God’s presence moved me, his love, the gift of his son, floored me. And no other Christmas show has come close! 

For more information on the show visit the Radio City Christmas Spectacluar  and to see if there’s a show near you.
Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she's leaning on the Lord to show her the way.  She is the founder of Writer...Interrupted  where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God's timing is perfect, even if she doesn't agree with it! ;) She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity and twitter she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Book descriptions:
My Novella: Buried Deception
Mount Vernon archaeology intern and widow Samantha Steele wants to provide for her children without assistance from anyone. Security guard and ex-cop Nick Porter is haunted by his past and keeps his heart guarded. But when they discover an artifact at Mount Vernon is a fake, Nick and Samantha need to work together, set aside their stubbornness, and rely on each other or the results could be deadly. Will Samantha relinquish her control to a man she hardly knows? Can Nick learn to trust again? And will they both allow God to excavate their hearts so they can find new love?
Four townhouse neighbors encounter romance and mystery near our nation’s capital. In State Secrets, White House assistant chef Tara Whitley and FBI agent Jack Courtland stop a plot to sabotage a State dinner—and find love still hidden in their hearts. In Dying for Love, attorneys and opponents Ciara Turner and Daniel Evans uncover love while searching for justice. In Buried Deception, archaeologist Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter dig up love while uncovering a forged artifact.  In Coffee, Tea and Danger, amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martinelli find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

MY FAMILY FOUND PARADISE AND PEACE

In Fruita, Colo. 

By Guest Blogger
Ada Brownell 

I’m Ada Brownell, retired newspaper reporter from The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado and a free lance writer who has sold to Christian publications since age 15. I’m the author of two books. Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal . recently released on Amazon and should be available soon at other outlets. Another book is Confessions of a Pentecostal, published by the Assemblies of God. Both books will be available soon as e-books. 


        In the late 1930s, my parents packed a few dilapidated possessions, leaving enough space for their seven children in the flat-bed truck with sideboards.
        The old tires spun through the dusty Kansas roads and then took the narrow paved road toward Colorado, through the mountains, and on to the Grand Valley.
        For the moment Mama forgot the time Dad had to find his way to the house during a dust storm by following the clothes line. She didn’t think about the long days and nights she spent covering her children’s faces with wet rags so they wouldn’t get dust pneumonia during the storms.
        She hoped the severe poverty caused by The Great Depression, the drought , dust storms and grasshopper plagues was finally over.
        My oldest brother, Virgil, went with Dad to check out the Western Slope of Colorado to see whether they could buy a little parcel of land and move. They bought a little farm in Fruita, 10 miles west of Grand Junction, the large city in the area where the Colorado and Gunnison rivers intersect.
 Along the highway Virgil stood up in the truck and watched as they left the flat brown plains behind. Virgil had his share of heartaches, too. The Shetland pony he loved so much got into Grandpa’s grasshopper poison and died. Virgil had covered the garden with screen wire—even the onions—and the grasshoppers ate it all, even the onions right out of the ground, leaving vacant holes.
        I can imagine Mom, pregnant with me, praying things would be better now. Then suddenly she felt the cool fresh breeze through the open truck window. They’d hit areas of irrigated land and green lush blankets of hay and winter wheat covered the valleys to the edges of the white-topped mountains. Some of the fertile soil was being plowed; some tender plants were growing here and there.
        When they reached the Grand Valley which would be their new home, Mama felt she’d landed in Paradise. Flat-topped peach trees blossomed in the valley next to Palisade, and climbed all the way up to Orchard Mesa and covered it.
        “Won’t there be danger of frost?” she asked Daddy.
        “Maybe, but some peach ranchers use smudge pots and it will save most of the crop.
         Homes everywhere had green irrigated lawns and flowers blooming. Wild flowers even blossomed along the road.
        The tiny white house Dad bought had only two bedrooms and a back porch, but Mama was delighted.They hung a curtain to divide the largest bedroom. The three boys slept on one side; the four girls on the other.
 It was only about a mile to the bridge that crossed the Colorado River and then the red Rocky Mountains that held the Colorado National Monument in their bosom rose high in the sky. The view out the windows of our home was better than paintings for the walls.
        Lush fertile land surrounded the little home and Mom and Dad had 10 acres. The garden was huge and Mom and some of the older children worked in it many hours from early spring until fall—when I was born. That made 10 of us in the house for Daddy to feed.
        Daddy and Virgil got a job shoveling coal from railroad cars onto trucks and were paid $1 for a 12-hour day.
        Times were still hard, but things were better than Kansas.
        A local church in the midst of a great revival heard a large family was moving to town and began praying for us. The lady across the street came over carrying her Bible. Mom had been raised in a Christian home, but her tattered spirit lay dry and nearly empty.
        God sent a good Christian friend to every one of my older brothers and sisters when they started school. Soon the whole family was serving God, full of joy.  Singing and music filled our house. I grew up in that kind of atmosphere.
        Because they canned and preserved everything they could, our table was spread lavishly with fruits and vegetables and unexpected company was never a big deal. All we had to do was go out in the chicken pen, to the garden or down to the cellar and we ate better than lots of folks eat today. Mom often asked the preacher, evangelists and missionaries for dinner.
        When we had company, as soon as someone prayed Mama looked around the table at each of us and said “FHB.”
        That meant “family hold back” and make sure the guests have plenty to eat.
        When I was age 8, my parents bought a big two-story house in town with four bedrooms, three porches, and room for my married siblings when they came home as well as guests. They still had several acres, a milk cow, chickens, raised other animals and grew most of their food.
        I live in Missouri now and when I go back to Fruita, I am amazed at the beauty there. What an awesome Creator we have!  

Blog: http://www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com
Website: http://www.adabrownell.com

Thursday, December 22, 2011

HANUKKAH -- The Festival of Lights



by Molly Noble Bull


The Menorah, The Jewish candelabrum or lamp stand, ordinarily has only seven candlesticks—three on the right side, three on the left and one big one in the middle. But the Hanukkah lamp stand is different. It has four on the right side, four on the left and one big "Servant" candle in the middle. The servant candle is used to light all the other candles. 
Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights to celebrate the eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century. Christians believe the servant candle represents Jesus—the Light of the World. 
As the story goes, the Jews had only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. Yet a miracle took place. The lamps remained lighted for eight days.
I read that the first Hanukkah took place after the Old Testament was written. Though the Jews celebrated Hanukkah, it is not mentioned in the Old Testament. However, Hanukkah appears to be mentioned in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 and verse 9. I report. You decide. 
[And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days.] 
So perhaps it was mentioned in the Old Testament after all. In any case, according to the New Testament Jesus celebrated Hanukkah. See the Gospel of John. 
[And it was at Jerusalem the Feast of Dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believed not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my father are one.]
John 10: 22-30  
In 2011, Hanukkah began at sundown on December 20th, ending at sundown on December 28th. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lessons from Little People

by Teresa Slack www.teresaslack.com
This is the most fun time of year to have kids in your life. No way you can be a Grinch while witnessing the wonder and excitement on their faces as they take in all the sights and sounds of the season.

So what can we learn from them as we consider the goals we set back at the launch of 2011 and the realization of how short we've come in reaching those goals?

(I don’t remember where or when I first stumbled across this list. I made a few tweaks to apply it to writing, but you can apply it to any goal setting or dream building you want. I hope it encourages and inspires you to try something new today.)

1. Everything can be a game. Add a little fun to your writing. Compete with yourself. Aim for personal records. You might find something that works no one else has ever thought of.

2. Don't walk when you can run. Every day is full of opportunities to increase your productivity. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid of breaking the rules. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Just take off and enjoy the wind in your hair.

3. If you don't like it, don't write it. Don’t write what you think the market is looking for. By the time your book is written, tastes and trends would’ve changed anyway. Write a book you would want to read.

4. Laughter feels good. Kids seem to inherently know that laughter can ease blood pressure, help your brain function, give you energy, and help you reach your goals.

5. Playtime is important. We get so caught up in work, and "have-to's" that we forget to take time for ourselves. Not only does relaxing make life worthwhile, it has real health benefits.

6. The world should be full of color. Splash your life and experiences with as many colors as possible. Try new things. It will benefit everything you put your hand to.

7. It's always more fun with friends around. Children tend to gravitate toward other children. It gives them spirit and makes them want to play all day. Whatever you’re striving for, find a group that understands what you’re shooting for and will support you in it.

8. Adventures are found outside, not inside. Every kid knows that the good stuff is in the great outdoors--fresh air, wide open spaces, limitless possibilities. You can't find those things cooped up in your tiny, stale office. Open the door and start a new adventure every day.

9. It's important to use your imagination. You can be Major Fantasia or Stupendous Woman any time you want. Give yourself permission to believe in your own super powers and let your mind take you wherever it wants to go.

10. Anything is possible. No fear, no self-doubts, no negative self talk, no self-criticism, no worries, no destructive anxieties or thoughts of failure. To a child, he/she can do anything. And do you know what? They're right.

11. You have your whole life ahead of you. Here's your chance to do it right.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HOW TO WRITE A BEGINNING HOOK

by Molly Noble Bull  




 The first sentence of a novel should grab the reader’s attention instantly. We call this a beginning hook. The beginning hook should introduce a problem or reveal something about the main character. Can you spell provocative?
Think of this one sentence as a headline, book title, or chapter title. The one sentence can ask a question, and the shorter the better.
.   If you absolutely can't come up with a headline, write the first line of a dialogue. But that first line of dialogue MUST be interesting, causing the reader to want to read more in order to find out what is going on and what will happen next.
Below are some examples. 

Headline 
She'd seen him again.
(This opening came from The Rogue’s Daughter—one of my published novels.) 
Was he dead? 
Where was Sally? 
Why did he come here after all these years? 
What does he think he was doing?
A bang broke the quiet of the small library.  
Was someone following her? 
NOTE: YOU CAN NAME A CHARACTER IN A BEGINNING DIALOGUE. BUT DON'T NAME YOUR MAIN CHARACTER IN A HEADLINE. NAME HIM OR HER IN SENTENCE TWO

Dialogue

"I'm not marrying him, Father." Melissa North turned toward the door. "If you try to force me to, I'll run away."       
"He's the murderer, and he knows I know." Jane Scopes pulled her suitcase from the top shelf and carried it to the bed. "I'm leaving." 
"I'm taking the next stagecoach out of Tombstone—whether you like it or not."

I would like to propose a challenge. Write a beginning hook of only one sentence for either a prologue or a chapter one and post it at the end of this article as a comment. I will comment on your hooks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

JUST THE RIGHT TIME

Molly Interviews Jennifer Slattery


Molly Noble Bull:
Hi. Today I am interviewing Jennifer Slattery. She writes for Jennifer Slattery Writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Internet Café Devotions, Samie Sisters, and the Christian Pulse. Visit her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives out Loud to find out more about her and her writing. Welcome Jennifer. Tell us what you mean when you say, “Just the Right Time?”  
                                                                         Photo of Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer:
I don’t know about you, but often I think God and I are on totally different schedules. When I want to go forward, He pulls me back. When I’m dragging my heels, He nudges me forward. Over the years, I’ve learned by experience His timing is always perfect.

Molly:
I agree. The Lord’s timing is always perfect. Please, tell us more.

Jennifer:
The Bible is full of divine moments enacted after long, difficult waiting periods. Consider the ancient Israelites and how they slaved in Egypt waiting for their deliverer. Or think about David, the anointed king, who spent years hiding out in caves as the ruling king sought his life. What about Joseph? You remember him—the dreamer—the one who would one day rule over his brothers? The one who was thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, spent seven years in prison, to one day stand as the second in command to all of Egypt. What do you think he was thinking while he slept on the prison floor?

Molly:
My mind would say that the Lord forgot about me, if I found myself on a prison floor. My heart would say, “Have faith in God.” What say you?” 

Jennifer:
How many nights did his heart cry out to God, asking, “Where are you? When will Your promise come?” But each time God did come through, at just the right time.

Molly:
God is good. But imagine what the Children of Israel must have thought, waiting for the promised Messiah. 

Jennifer:
For years the people of Israel waited for their Messiah. They had the promises—from Genesis chapter three all the way through Malachi. While evil kings rose to the throne, Isaiah spoke of an eternal just Ruler. When the Israelites were taken into Babylonian captivity they cried out for a Savior. I’m sure many felt as if God had abandoned them. That God couldn’t see them.

Molly:
I’ve been in that situation—many times.

Jennifer:
But God hadn’t forgotten, and He wasn’t off-duty. He was waiting for just the right time. Jesus came at just the right time. 

Molly:
He always does.

Jennifer:
Step back about 2000 years to the Roman world. Greek and Roman development helped make the first century AD the perfect time for Christ to come on the scene. The roads created by the Romans increased traffic and commerce, allowing the rapid-fire spread of Christianity to the ancient world. The Romans developed a sense of unity under their universal law that helped pave the way for the idea of monotheism. (A large proportion of ancients were polytheists.)

Molly:
Monotheism. The dictionary calls that the doctrine that there is only one God. And polytheism is the belief in and the worship of more than one god. So what you are saying is that the Romans were prepared for the worship of only one God at just the right time. Awesome.

Jennifer:
“The sense of solidarity within the empire created an environment favorable to the reception of a gospel that proclaimed the unity of the human race in the fact that all men are under the penalty of sin and in the fact that all are offered a salvation that makes them part of a universal organism–Christianity.” (Cairns, p. 35)
Non-Romans could become Roman citizens and people could move freely throughout the Roman Empire. Such travel would have been difficult prior to the reign of Augustus Caesar in 27-14 BC. As Rome conquered neighboring lands, natives began to question their polytheistic views. If their gods had abandoned them into the hands of another, then perhaps their gods were not as powerful as they thought. 

Molly:
Interesting. And then what? 

Jennifer:
And then came the Greeks and the expansion of ideas that they brought. They brought a universal language that later aided in the communication of the gospel. They also brought the study of philosophy and a love for debate. Philosophers like Plato and Socrates encouraged people to look for an eternal Being. All of these things set the stage for Christianity.

Molly:
Isn’t it amazing that God had all this planned hundreds if not thousands of years in advance? 

Jennifer:
And I could go on, but in a nutshell–Christ came at just the right time. At the fullness of time. When all the pieces of the puzzle were locked in place.

Molly:
Praise the Lord.

Jennifer:
Just like Paul says in Galatians 4:4, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
And the Bible records this story–God’s love story–throughout its pages. A love story that will ultimately conclude in a great wedding feast. Are you coming?

Molly: 
Jennifer, do you have any closing words for those who need this message the most?

Jennifer:
Maybe you’re in Babylonian captivity right now, crying out for a Savior. Now is the time of salvation. Maybe you’re enslaved by the problems of this world. God sees you. He loves you. And He’s coming. Even now He’s working out His plan. His good plan. His loving plan. Hold tight.

Molly:
Thanks, Jennifer. You have inspired me, and I feel sure you have inspired others as well. I hope many will comment on this interview. 
I would like to close with a blessing found in the six chapter of the Book of Numbers, verses 24 to 27.

[The Lord bless thee and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name on the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
Again, please leave a comment. Then stay tuned for the bibliography. 
1)      Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 1954.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NEED GUEST BLOGGERS



by Molly Noble Bull

Along with our regulars, I am opening the Writers Rest blog to guest bloggers. What I want are interesting settings from around the United States or elsewhere. Tell us about your hometown and state or a town and state or country you especially like.
I am also open to Christian movie or DVD reviews. If you are interested in doing a blog on any of these topics, post a comment at the end of this blog, telling the area of the country you would like to write about or the movie you want to review.
Near the end of the actual blog, you may tell about your newest book. Photos of towns, states, countries, movie posters and book-covers are welcome.


The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities by Margaret Daley, Ginny Aiken, Jane Myers Perrine, Ruth Scofield and me, Molly Noble Bull.
To find this book at Amazon or a walk-in bookstore, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making a list & checking it twice.

We all have one. That hard to shop for person on our list. My friends tell me I'm the ONE on their lists. Every year around Thanksgiving they ask what I want for Christmas and I can't think of a single thing to tell them. It's hard to tell someone what I want. Most of the time it's even hard to know myself.

Coming up with a Christmas list for myself is tough enough. Harder still are gift requests you can't put under a tree. So let's play around a little. If you could wish for anything this Christmas that doesn't fit under your tree, what would it be?

Let's have fun here & be totally selfish and self-serving. No wishes for world peace or that everyone would finally learn the true meaning of Christmas. Those are great but for another post. For now tell us what's on your wish list that can't be bought or wrapped with a big red bow. Maybe a secret desire you haven't even told your friends or loved ones about. Like to get a book published. Or lose 30 pounds. Or fall in love. Or go skydiving.

For me, I would like more time to devote to my writing career. But maybe more time isn't what I need. Discipline should probably be the first thing on my list. Or a renewed passion to actually put those words on paper.

What about you? What's on your list that can't be put under the tree? Have fun with your answers. You're even entitled to a whole list. And shoot for the stars. After all, it's Christmas.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Seven Days in Utopia


Reviewed by Molly Noble Bull

A strong opening hook and a Christian message are musts for me in books as well movies. However, settings come close behind, and Seven Days in Utopia, starring Robert Duvall, was set in a beautiful place—Utopia, Texas.

 

The setting was especially meaningful to me because it was set in the Texas hill country on the Sabinal River, and my family ate many a meal at the Lost Maples Café—featured in the movie. Yep, the Lost Maples Café is a real place, and several scenes were set in that restaurant. We even ate there before it was remodeled—way back when you had to go outside and up a flight of stairs if you needed to go to the restroom.
The plot is about a golf pro who thinks winning at golf is the most important thing in the world. After spending seven days in Utopia, he realizes that there are other things in life more important than hitting a little ball with a stick. This movie has a good Christian message. Nevertheless, the ending was weak.
Several conflicts mentioned in the movie were never resolved. I sat there in my chair, waiting for part 2 to begin, but it never came. We were told to go to a website to see if the hero made his last golf shot.
Before Mel Gibson’s movie about Jesus came out, my then pastor said that Christians didn’t know how to make movies. Mel Gibson proved him wrong. The people that made Seven Days in Utopia are learning.
I will see the sequel to this movie whenever it comes out because Seven Days had a Christian message. I just wish the screenplay had been a little stronger. 

I cannot end this article without mentioned my newest book, The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities by five Christian novelists. They are Ginny Aiken, Margaret Daley, Jane Myers Perrine, Ruth Scofield and me, Molly Noble Bull.



This book will soon be available in paperback from Westbow Press. But you can read it right now as an e-book at a cost of $3.03, if you go to Amazon and write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA: The Movie

Tonight (December 2, 2011,) I plan to watch the Christian movie Seven Days In Utopia on Dish Network—Pay per view. If you have Dish Network, you can watch it too. God willing, tomorrow I will do a movie review of that movie.
I am looking forward to seeing Seven Days in Utopia because we lived within twenty-five miles of Utopia, Texas for about twenty-five years. Utopia is in the heart of the famous Texas hill country and beautiful. 
For us, this will be a sort of "going home" time.  
Stay tuned.
Molly

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GET TO THE POINT

When Writing a Synopsis

By Molly Noble Bull

A synopsis should begin with a hook just like many others types of writing. At the same time, it must get to the point of the story. Quick.
However, women in general have a hard time getting to the point in normal conversations. According to my husband, I have that problem in particular. How many times have I heard him or one of our sons say, "Get to the point." Or "Can we hear the short version?"  
The conversation below makes this problem clear--at least in my mind. Hope you agree. I also hope it will make tight synopsis writing easier. 

"Would you like to drive into the city?" the man asked.
“I’d have to go to Target first,” the woman replied. “No question about that. And I need to have my nails done.” She showed him her hands. “Just look at these. Have you ever seen fingernails this bad? Well, my toenails are worse, if you can believe it. And of course, I’ll have to phone Anita. I promised I would.” 
“Get to the point, honey.” 
“Oh, I almost forgot about Pretty Cat. We can’t leave her behind when she's expecting kittens. I guess we could leave her in the back seat with a window down a little.” She shook her head. “No, she could become overheated. We’ll just have to leave her at home in the air conditioning. Besides—”
“Honey, I asked you a questions twenty or so paragraphs back, and there can only be one of two answers—either yes or no. So, would you like to drive into the city?” 
“My goodness, sweetie. Weren’t you listening? I already answered that question.” 

Did she or didn’t she? You can only give one answer. Either yes or no.
Does this dialogue sound like it came from the mouth of you and your husband? It sure sounds like countless conversations my husband and I have had.
The gift for gab is fine when writing a novel. But when writing a synopsis, you need to get to the point. In other words, write it the way your hubby would.
Example:
“Would you like to drive into the city?” the man asked.
“Yes.”

Don't forget to leave a comment. We want to hear about your "get to the point" hubby.


Speaking of getting to the point, I have another one.
Check out my first non-fiction book that I wrote with four other authors titled The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilites by Margaret Daley, Ginny Aiken, Jane Myers Perrine, Ruth Scofield and me, Molly Noble Bull.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NEW BOOK FROM MOLLY


by Molly Noble Bull


I would like to introduce my newest book—The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered learning Disabilities.

Yep, I’m dyslexic.
My previous books were novels. This one is non-fiction and written by five published novelists—Ginny Aiken, Margaret Daley, Jane Myers Perrine, Ruth Scofield and me, Molly Noble Bull. All five are multi-published.
My father and my maternal grandfather were real for sure Texas cowboys, and I spent part of my growing up years on a big cattle ranch in Kenedy County, Texas, living there during until January of my first grade year. I had a wonderful mother, but she was not a schoolteacher. Nevertheless, she was my home-school teacher, while we lived on the ranch, and not being in a regular school might have delayed discovering that I had problems.  
The book, The Overcomers, is divided into five parts, and each of the five published authors tells how their learning problems affected them as children and teens. For years, I tried to keep others from knowing my secret—that I had a learning problem. However, with the writing of The Overcomers, all five of us came out of the closet.
In my part, I share what it was like to seem normal but be the dumbest kid in my elementary school, and if you can image pushing a one hundred pound rock up a hill with nothing but a toothpick, you have some idea how difficult it is for a child with a learning problem to read or spell ten simple words. I also share some of my experiences as a teen and young adult, living on the Santa Rosa and the La Paloma Ranches. 


This photo was taken on the Santa Rosa Ranch, and I am the twelve-year-old girl on the left.

The next photo is of my grandfather, Seth Woods, in a lineup with the ranch cowboys. He is the cowboy to the left of the man on the wagon, and the child is my late uncle, Mack Woods. Seth Woods ran the Santa Rosa Ranch in Kenedy County for almost forty years. Mack Woods was once president of Polled Santa Gertrudis Breeders Association.  



To find The Overcomers and my other books at Amazon, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot. You will need to scroll down to find The Overcomers. But you can’t miss it with that bright yellow cover. The Overcomers is available as a Kindle e-book for $3.99. To go to Amazon and see the e-book now, click below.
http://www.amazon.com/Overcomers-Christian-Conquered-Disabilities-ebook/dp/B006BU95EU/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1322110408&sr=8-6 
A printed copy of this book will also be available soon in time for the holidays.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

First things First

Today I spent some time with an aspiring writer overwhelmed by the idea of beginning a book, let alone writing the whole thing. She considered our meeting a God moment since she'd been praying about what to do with the stories that had been rattling around in her head for years.

She'd bought the right books, even signed up for a conference aboard a cruise ship with Karen Kingsbury this coming March. But still she was overwhelmed and unsure of what to do about all those stories. We had a great time talking. I shared a few experieces along my journey to publication and did what I could to encourage her. But other than a pep talk and reassurance that she was doing what God designed her to do, she needed something concrete that would help her get that story out of her head and onto the paper.

My advice for the very first thing to do was join some online writing groups and connect with other writers. During the next few months while waiting for her cruise I suggested she get those characters out of her head and give them life of their own. Take notes, organize plot lines, sketch a few characters, and don't edit, regardless of how strong the desire to do so.

All she had ever done was think about her stories. She'd never written the first word. Sometimes the first word is the most intimidating. We've all been there. That blinking cursor mocks and the voices in our heads tell us we don't know what we're doing so why even bother. But we have to ignore the negative voices, surround ourselves with encouragers who've been where we strive to go.

Happy writing, Janet. I wish you all the success in the world.

What about everyone else? What advice would you give a fledgling writer who doesn't know where to begin? What first thing would you do first? Please share so others may grow and be encouraged in their walk?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OPENINGS ARE INVITATIONS

by Molly Noble Bull

                                             Molly Noble Bull 

          Remember those birthday party invitations we all got as children?  One that I recall had a cowboy on the cover, signaling that the party had a cowboy theme, and I will never forget what was written on the inside of that card.  I call the cowboy on the cover a sort of hook, encouraging friends to attend special events, but the meat of the invitation was found inside. 
The W Rule
          What do party invitations have to do with writing chapter and scene openings?  More than you might think.  To make my point, below is an example of a typical birthday invitation. 
          Who? Tom Brown 
          What? His tenth birthday party
          When?  Saturday, September 25, 2012 
          Where?  308 Creek Drive, Rockdale, Texas; 
          Why?  Because we want to celebrate Tom’s birthday, that’s why. 
          Like the cowboy on the cover of party invitations, every chapter should begin and end with a hook, and every chapter and scene should start with a problem.  However, I have also found that successful chapter openings and scene changes are identical in many ways to the format used in writing party invitations. 
          As an author, my goal is to invite the reader to a party of words, my words.  In order to do that, I must send him or her an invitation answering all the who, what, when, where and why questions--henceforth known as the W rule. 
Full-Bodied Sentences
          A full-bodied sentence is one that answers the W rule questions, but writing full-bodied sentences at the beginning of every chapter and scene opening might not be the best way to coax readers to taste one’s work.  However, I have learned that when I include the information found in the full-bodied sentence, my scene openings become more inviting to the reader. 
          The man went to town is a simple sentence, but it can become full-bodied.  To answer the “who” question, I gave the man a first and last name, Jim Cooper.  Jim Cooper went to town.  Naming my character improved the quality of my sentence, but more information was needed before it became full-bodied.  
          The full-bodied sentence below answers all the W rule questions.  Here’s how. 
          (When?) “Early on an October morning, (Who?) Jim Cooper (Where?) left his small farm in rural Mississippi and (How?) drove his team of mules (Where?) to Oakton Corners (Why?) to buy medicine for (What is the problem?) his sick wife and child.” 
          “How” is an emotional question and optional.  The reader might also want to know “what” the weather is like?  The final version of this sentence, answers the “how” question and tells about the weather.  “Early on a (What is the weather?) cold, windy morning in late October and (How is his emotional state?) trembling with worry, Jim Cooper left his small farm in rural Mississippi and drove his team of mules to Oakton Corners to buy medicine for his sick wife and child. 
Openings vs. Scene Changes
          Every novel is divided into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the ending.  I once read or heard that the beginning part of a novel ends when all the W rule questions have been answered. 
          These questions can be answered easily in one full-bodied sentence.  However, it often takes a page or two to allow that same information to flow smoothly into the text of my novels. 
          Scene changes are different from chapter openings in that all the beginning questions need not be answered a second time.  For example, if the reader knows all about Jim Cooper, scene two could begin with “An hour later, he finally got to town.” 
          All my manuscripts don’t have a cowboy on the cover to hook the reader, but I never fail to issue invitations.  I have learned that when I invite the reader to choose my novels by beginning with a hook and a problem and then answering all the questions listed above, readers attend my parties and read my books. 
***
CBA author, Molly Noble Bull, lives in Kingsville, Texas, and her novels have been published at Zondervan and Steeple Hill and two were reprinted by Guideposts, the Book Division. 
The Winter Pearl, her Steeple Hill long historical, was set in Colorado in 1888 and was published in trade paperback in 2004 and in mass-market paperback in 2007. It is now an e-book. Brides and Blessings, another of Molly's Love Inspired novels, is also an e-book. Molly's newest book, The Overcomers, will be published in December 2011. 
Note: This article by Molly Noble Bull was first published in the Christian Communicator magazine in 2005. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mind Over Madi by Lynda Lee Schab

Today we're so excited to welcome Lynda Lee Schab to Writer's Rest. Lynda's first book, Mind Over Madi, is being released this month by Oak Tara Publishers. Lynda, welcome to Writer's Rest and congratulations on the release of Mind Over Madi.

What is the book about? Tell us a little about the plot.


Madi McCall is a 38-year-old mom of three whose insecurities are destroying her marriage. When she suspects her husband Rich is cheating with the mother of one of his fourth grade students, she kicks him out of the house and he moves in with his bachelor brother. Madi is then forced to take a deeper look at herself and her insecurities. She does this with the help of a counselor, her best friend Sylvie, and a few cartons of Edy’s Dibs. At a 20-year get-together with former high school classmates, Madi runs into “the other woman” and things come to a head. It’s a lighthearted story about taking a true look at ourselves and accepting God’s grace when we think and do dumb things.

Which character is most like you, and why?

There is a lot of me in Madi. Insecurity is something I’ve always struggled with. As a child, I was very shy. As a teenager, I was insecure about everything, which resulted in a lot of rebelling and contributed to hundreds of my mom’s migraines, I’m sure. As an adult, early in my marriage I experienced some of the insecurities Madi deals with, regarding her husband and his faithfulness. That isn’t something I deal with anymore today, but I still have similar insecurities about what others think of me, as well as doubts about God’s love for me. Other ways I’m like Madi is that we share bad eating habits, a love for coffee, a tendency to waste hours of time playing computer games, and an insane fear of spiders.


I absolutely love the book's cover. I'm sure it will influence a lot of shoppers. On the cover, “Madi” is wearing a tiara. What is the significance in that?

Madi’s therapist challenges her to think of herself as a princess – the daughter of the King. Madi has never thought of herself this way, and throughout the story, there are references to various Disney princesses as Madi tries to figure out which one she most relates to. I had fun with the theme, even giving “the other woman” the fairy tale-ish name of Fawn Witchburn.

What do you want readers to take away from reading Madi’s story?


An understanding of just how infinite God’s love is. That no matter what we’ve done, God will never stop pursuing our hearts or desiring a relationship with us. His mercies are new every morning and His grace covers our weaknesses, our mistakes, our ignorance.

Are you planning another book? If so, what is the story?

I am currently working on book #2 in the Madi series, titled, Madily in Love. Now that Madi and Rich are working things out, she attends a class at church to try to put the romance back into her marriage. But with her mother-in-law living with them, Madi’s new job, and issues with her kids, things don’t exactly go as planned. It’s a fun book that will look at finding peace –and romance - in the middle of chaos.

There will also be a book #3. I have the title and the premise, but I’ll save the details for later, when I have the plot worked out.

Yay! We can't wait. Now that we know a little more about the book, I'm always curious to hear about an author's publishing journey. When and how did you get interested in writing?

I’ve always loved to read, which seems to be a precursor for all writers. I don’t remember exactly when I picked up a pen and started to write, but I remember writing a story in 6th grade called The Summer I Went to Honolulu (no, I’d never been there – and still haven’t!), complete with caricature drawings. I moved on to writing plays for my cousins and me to perform for our parents, then tried my hand at poetry. In high school, it was all about poetry – some of it was pretty good, but some was very, very bad. I still love to write poetry, but prefer to create funny, rhyming poems for retirement parties, milestone birthdays, bridal or baby showers, and other fun occasions.


What is the writing process like for you?

Honestly, I don’t have a typical process. As this is my debut novel, I’m on a learning curve. While writing MIND OVER MADI, I basically wrote when I felt like it, with no set schedule. Now that I have contracts for the next two books in the series, which my editor wants to publish 6-9 months apart, I’m doing everything I can to learn how to organize my time effectively. But I do tend to work better on a deadline, so hopefully that will work out for me. We’ll see!

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite: The creative process. Thinking a story through from beginning to end and then seeing my vision come to life through the characters and situations I create.

Least favorite: Definitely the self discipline it requires. Time management is something I’ve always struggled with. Making myself sit down and focus when I know the basement needs cleaning, laundry is piling up, my office needs to be organized, or I want to watch the episode of Survivor I missed the night before is my biggest challenge.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

That’s easy: Apply the Butt Glue and just write. Discipline has never been my biggest strength, but that book won’t get written unless I park my behind in the chair and start typing. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I have a million other things to do. One of my favorite quotes on writing is “You can fix bad, but you can’t fix blank.”

Who or what inspires you?

People in general inspire me. Whether it’s hearing a moving testimony or just witnessing someone’s positive outlook on life, I find inspiration to be a better person by various people I meet. A good message from my pastor, a pep talk from a friend, or a song I hear on the radio. Inspiration is everywhere. All that’s required is a heart to receive it.

What would be your dream job if you weren’t a writer?

I would probably being doing something in the field of mental health, whether as a counselor or in research or something. Why people do what they do fascinates me and I love learning about human behavior. I’m constantly analyzing people and my husband is always telling me I should have been a psychologist. He’s probably right. In writing, I think this helps me in character development.

Or an ice cream tester. Now that would be a dream job.

Wouldn't it?! If you find one, be sure and get me an application. But seriously though, could you tell us what Bible verse is Mind over Madi based on?

Well, I have a couple of scriptures on which Mind over Madi is based. First, Isaiah 26:3 tells us that it’s only when our minds are stilled, we’ll have peace. “You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Another one I think is especially fitting with Madi’s insecurity and trust issues is: “… It (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Thanks so much, Lynda, for spending some time with us today, and congratulations again on the release of MIND OVER MADI. Could you let us know how readers can connect with you and more importantly get their hands on a copy of the book?

My website address is www.lyndaschab.com. I also have a blog with various writing and reading-related material at www.on-the-write-track.blogspot.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 7, 2011

THE WAY: A Movie Review

By Jane West

It’s not often a movie comes around that you’d recommend to friends. The Way (based on a pilgrimage called The Way of Saint James) is such a wholesome experience, and I want to tell you about it.
The Way is the story of a father’s love for his son, which heals his heart and changes his life. Martin Sheen portrays the father with sensitivity and pathos. On the pilgrimage Way, which he would never have taken on his own initiative, he begins to clearly see the beauty of our world, which puts other things in perspective. Walking this long, difficult pilgrimage over the Pyrenees Mountains, gradually his busy, scheduled life fades, relegated to a lesser place in the importance of life. He meets other pilgrims on the Way, and finishes his route with three of them who trek with him. Totally different from him, they become companions, making an unusual foursome.
The photography is wonderful, with wide, sweeping views of valleys and villages and people who live in Eastern Spain past the western slopes of the mountains.
The powerful, yet simply story draws you in right away, and one scene has a pro-life message, but not blatantly. Because The Way is the story of a man’s pilgrimage to commemorate his adult son’s life, the movie is not one that young children would find interesting.
A wholesome movie. What a refreshing surprise; what a nice gift for the moviegoer. The Way is not highly advertised, and most people have gone because of word of mouth from a friend, as I did.
Click below to see the trailer,

I would like to introduce Jane West, the newest member of our Writers Rest family. Welcome Jane. It’s great to have you.
Jane West is an author and teacher mentor. She has written books, short stories for adults and children, how-to’s, newspaper articles, a manual for her position as Administrative Assistant in Marion County psychologist’s office, and a play which was performed in church. Her poem Tumbleweeds won first prize in the Southern Oregon. Poet’s contest. She  teaches a writing class in Oregon, where she lives, near her children and grandchildren.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratuitous language--True to Character or Lazy Writing?

Yesterday I finished reading a book that started out quite promising. It was a secular romantic comedy with a subplot of suspense by an author I’ve never read before. Within the first few chapters I was ready to call my library to track down every previous book by this author. Slowly though two minor characters came into prominence. They were there to offer romantic counsel for the heroine and comedic relief. Unfortunately they weren’t very funny and they became more obnoxious and annoying as the story progressed.

Before long I was skimming sections where these characters turned up. Not only were those scenes only marginally integral to the storyline, one of the characters had a habit of dropping the F-bomb for no reason whatsoever.

I realize in fiction some writers feel the need to give their rebellious characters a colorful vocabulary. It’s especially true in thrillers and military intrigue. I can usually skip over a police officer with less than choir boy diction. But these ladies were hair stylists. Not usually a profession known for its stressful situations.

In a light-hearted moment of recollecting past loves where you or I…or just about anybody for that matter…might react with a “Seriously?” or “Wow.” the character in question dropped the bomb nearly every time she opened her mouth. Our heroine who had just met these women expressed no reaction though she never used profanity herself. Mind you, the story took place in a small Texas town, not a barroom or the Gaza Strip.

In the last chapter while our heroines were hot on the trail of the bad guy, who happened to already be sitting in jail by this time, the second hair stylist began dropping the bomb with every other word. Again, no reaction from other characters. To her credit she was in a stressful situation, but wouldn’t one of the other characters notice the alteration in her personality?

I’m sure there are hair stylists out there who let their hair down, so to speak, when I’m not around. But it seemed so unnatural and out of character for such language in normal, everyday conversation. I can overlook a lot of the language when it’s warranted, at least on some level. But it ruined the story for me and convinced me not to bother reading more books by this author.

What do you think? Am I a stick in the mud who needs to lighten up and enter the 21st century? Or does an author have some responsibility to her reader? Just wondering.