Photo credit: John Towner
I'm glad to see June in the rear view mirror. It's been filled with political turmoil, anger everywhere in the news and on social media, and more mass shootings.
There's no sign these things will stop when the calendar turns over to July 1st. But I'd like to share some thoughts on what we can do to stay above the fray, AND what our duty as Christians is to shine our light into the darkness around us.
First, "Christian" means "follower of Christ", so our example is Him - always. And when we find ourselves on social media and tempted to fall into the trap of arguing with others over how certain members of society are to be treated - and you know who I'm talking about - then WE are called to follow His example of how to treat them, whoever they are...
"As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
We are never to condemn. We are always to act with love and mercy and grace. We are ALWAYS to love our neighbor. And who is our neighbor?
We learned that in Sunday School with the story of the Good Samaritan. The fellow who took on the care of the foreigner, paid for his medical care after he was attacked by robbers, paid for his lodgings, and got him back on his feet.
This goes back to the day of Moses and the Torah - the Ten Commandments. We are to love our Neighbor as ourselves.
Everyone includes - well, everyone.
Regardless of race. Regardless of who they love. Regardless of their disabilities - mental or physical. Regardless of their religion. Regardless of their age. Jesus was very clear about this - EVERYONE.
And the reason I say Christians shouldn't talk about sin is because when we are on social media going on and on in useless arguments about "hating the sin" and "sin is sin whether it's murder or homosexuality or gossip" etc etc. we obscure our message and bring it's simplicity to nothing.
Friends, this is a waste of our precious light.
We need to do better than this...we can do better!
We ALL sin - every day. It doesn't matter WHAT or HOW. We do it and we don't need to care about what our neighbor is doing.
We need to be about doing Jesus' business, friends!
Helping the hungry. Clothing the naked. Binding up the sick. Welcoming the foreigner. Speaking for those who can't speak for themselves. Standing up for human rights.
Being the light against the darkness of evil.
If we're doing all those things, we won't have time to waste talking about sin.
How are you keeping up your witness during these troubling times? Do you have a special mission focus right now? Are you struggling with your witness? Please share in the comments. And if I can pray for you please let me know.
Conference season is right around the corner and you’ll see scads of highbrow articles on what to do, what to see, who to talk to, and what not to do. So, how am I any different? What can I possibly tell you?
I only two RWA Chapter conferences under my belt, put on by the New Jersey Romance Chapter, and they were simply amazing. I can’t imagine the major RWA conference topping them. Someday, I’ll make it to the annual RWA Conference and I’m sure I’ll be amazed there.
But for now, here’s my FIVE THINGS TO KNOW about your First Writer’s Conference:
Not that you should be so laid back you’re unprofessional in your presentation. Just remember that the other woman across the table is a human being and is here to listen to you and wants to hear about YOU, your book, and why you’ve written it. Do give her your best, be courteous, and be friendly. But don’t get yourself so worked up you can’t sleep the night before or you lose your lunch over it!
Photo courtesy Joshua Ness of Unsplash
You may be brand new to writing. You may be a Contest Diva, almost ready to publish and a veteran of several writing conferences. Or, you may be a debut author or on your tenth novel.
At any of these stages you may have found a critique partner or a critique group along the way. This relationship can be as formal as exchanging chapters every two weeks with only track comments shared back and forth, or as intimate as daily emails about your ongoing lives along with exchanging chapters and your dreams and goals.
Our lives ebb and flow and circumstances change. As do critique partners. Over the past twenty years I’ve had four partners who I spent significant blocks of years, critiquing full books back and forth, and I learned many things from each of them. We’ve each gone on to other things, become published or not.
Disclaimer: There are no personal references to any persons in these rules
So, here’s my Seven Rules of Great Critique Partners:
Why are these Seven Rules important to live by? Because they teach you how to become the professional writer that editors and agents want to work with and promote. Editors and agents don’t have time to teach you how to be respectful, be committed, meet deadlines, communicate clearly and succinctly, and understand what’s confidential and what’s not. And by the time you sign with a publishing house and an agent, you’d better understand that plagiarism and stealing someone else’s hard work is death for a writer.
Now, the next time someone approaches you to be a critique partner, I hope you’ll think of these things and be ready to think of it as a business relationship as well as a friendship. You both have a lot to learn from each other on this writing journey. Enjoy the trip!
It's been a great week. We've been on holidays and taken in two baseball games with our Winnipeg Goldeyes - part of the American Baseball Association - and took the kids to see "Solo-A Star Wars Story". We spent time together doing family things that haven't been done because their dad's been on course for a couple of months. They had a sleepover with friends.
I highly recommend seeing "Solo" if you're a Star Wars fan. It's a dandy little prequel and as I'm NOT a Star Wars fan I can honestly say that - I LOVED it!
However, I'd like to leave y'all with this great video by Bethel Music. It's another new song I discovered, which is the theme of NORTHERN DECEPTION.
Till next Thursday - have a great week!
This is what a conversation looked like on Twitter about a week ago. It was Chaos.
Now, I'm not going to reiterate the problem here. An author trademarked a particular word and then issued other authors Cease & Desist letters ordering them to take down their books from Amazon with that word in their titles. Amazon, in their way, did it without thinking things through. And the Twitterverse, Bloggerville and Facebook went COMPLETELY INSANE.
Did this woman make a complete fool of herself?
YES. YES. YES she did. COMPLETELY. People were posting that they'd gone to make popcorn so they could enjoy the show. The WORDS that other AUTHORS were throwing up on Twitter and various other social media I was scrolling through when the S(*T first hit the fan were...indescribable. Howling, maniacal, let's-get-the-pitchforks-out-ladies-and-nail-her-to-the-wall!!! Burn-her-at-the-proverbial-stake!!! I lost count of the number of people who wanted to set up a GoFundMe page and contribute to a legal fund to fry the B*&$h.
AND LET ME JUST SAY RIGHT HERE --- I'M AWARE THAT SETTING A LEGAL PRECEDENT ON TRADEMARKING A WORD WOULD BE HIGHLY DANGEROUS TO ALL OF US AUTHORS --- I'M NOT AN IDIOT. BUT I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT LEGALITIES.
I'm talking about WORDS and how we wield them. We're supposed to be the ones who know the POWER of the written word. And here were authors piling on top of one single person - a foolish person - like a mob in the streets.
Now, I realize I'm a newbie author whose first book isn't even released yet. I scanned everything I could find trying to figure out what the deal was, how it affected everyone and what it means for authors etc. I figured, what do I know about trademark law? I'm Canadian, I don't know copyright/trademark law to begin with...although I do have an American nephew who's a trademark/patent lawyer I was prepared to phone up if things had gotten dire.
However, aren't we supposed to be, ahem -- professionals? Isn't this a business? If this were a male forum/business would it be likely we'd see men on Twitter etc. acting this way about a single guy trademarking something/behaving badly...do you think? Because I just don't see it happening.
Frankly, I don't care what genre we write in and I'm not throwing stones because I seriously am calling us out here on gender and the use of WORDS - what was wrong with all of us a week or two ago?
I'm ashamed of us, as women, as professionals, and as authors. We know we wield tremendous power with our writing. We can bring people UP and we can cast them DOWN. We're trained communicators! And yet, we communicated something quite horrible and were no better than the woman we were attacking.
I'm saying "we" because I'm no better - I didn't get on Twitter to defend her. But I'm defending her now. We're ALL Romance Authors. We ALL take enough Crapola about our chosen Genre to last a lifetime. The last thing we need is to be attacking one of our own on TWITTER where the world can see it.
So maybe next time another "Cockygate" happens, we can collectively stop, take a deep breath, and remember: WORDS matter, KINDNESS matters, and what we as romance authors show the world matters.
Hello friends! As we head into Mother's Day weekend I'm finishing up the first round of edits on NORTHERN DECEPTION. So I thought I'd share my latest favourite song by Christian rock group Kutless. You've probably heard it in your own church already, but if not, I hope you enjoy it today!
Photo Credit Kaizan Nyugen
Today the wonderful Cynthia Herron is hosting me over on her blog at authorcynthiaherron.com She writes Homespun, Heartfelt fiction. Please pop over and join us!
LAURIE: Stephanie, I'm so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First of all, can you tell us a bit about Unanchored and what inspired you to write this story?
STEPHANIE: Hi Laurie! Thanks so much for having me! Unanchored is the story of Cecily Hastings, a young woman who desperately longs for her freedom after being forced into servitude by her adoptive family. Her escape is thwarted when she's gambled away in a game of dice and finds herself captive on a pirate ship. The captain of these miscreants doesn't quite live up to his infamous name. Cecily even catches him in the act of aiding the poor and forgotten when they make port unexpectedly. With the Royal Navy hot on their trail in an effort to rid the seas of piracy, Cecily has to figure out if she's willing to fight beside her captain to continue his benevolent efforts or turn him over to the government in exchange for her freedom.
My inspiration for this story came from many places. I would say this book happened to appease my younger self who once had her college dorm decorated in all things pirate-y. I was obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean and even decorated my home economics senior project cake with a skull and crossbones. But ultimately, I just wanted to have some fun playing with a band of antiheroes. I started to get visions of different scenes I wanted to write, and they all fell so nicely into place as I began writing.
LAURIE: So, is this the first book you have coming out with Anaiah Press?
STEPHANIE: First of many, I hope! I have been so impressed with Anaiah. I've adored working with my editor, Laura Maisano. And Kara, Eden, and Melinda have been so great with answering my questions and showing their support! I'm also loving the chance to get to connect with the other lovely Anaiah authors! My TBR pile is growing so much because of this wonderful family!
But yes, this is my very first published book. I wrote two in a fantasy series prior to this but couldn't get it quite right. These pirates seemed to come a lot easier for me, and I'm so proud to have them be the first ones out in the world under my name!
LAURIE: And how did you get together with Anaiah Press?
STEPHANIE: You know, I really can't tell you how I first heard about Anaiah Press. Truly, it seemed to just pop up! (Coincidence? I think not!) I researched each of the editors through Anaiah's website and really thought I'd be a good fit with Laura. When I submitted to her, I added my query and sample chapters per Anaiah's guidelines and, shortly after, Laura emailed asking for the full manuscript. That was definitely a nice boost, because I'd had a really rough few months prior on my writing journey and felt pretty defeated.
One afternoon, I plopped on the couch to eat a sandwich with my hubby. My phone told me I had two emails waiting, and I could see one was from Laura. I kind of grumbled, just not wanting to deal with a rejection on top of an already crummy day. I also made the terrible mistake of taking a big bite of my sandwich right as I opened the email. Laura announced that Anaiah Press would be happy to publish my pirates! And wouldn't you know? I started choking on my sandwich from the sudden sobbing that overtook me. I may have given my husband a bit of a heart attack with that one.
It took about a week to read and discuss the publication contract and make sure I understood everything (since it was all new to me). Then, Laura and I began working on our multi-round edits. It's been a lot of hard work, but she has been nothing but encouraging through the entire process! I've got to say, though, I'm so relieved Unanchored is out in the world and I don't have to comb through it for grammar anymore.
LAURIE: I have to tell you, this is one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen on a YA book recently. What do you think about it?
STEPHANIE: Oh goodness, I love it! I kind of had it in my head it would be all dark colors, and I didn't know if I wanted it to include characters or just be a simple pirate-y symbol on the front. When I got my cover package, I held my breath as I clicked it. It was such a huge moment that I'd dreamt about for so long! When the image popped up on my screen, I think my jaw hit the floor. It wasn't anything like I'd expected, but rather so much better than what I could have come up with! Danielle Doolittle did the art and she is just fantastic! I told my husband I want to redo our entire house in those colors!
LAURIE: What draws you to writing Young Adult?
STEPHANIE: I think I will always be young at heart. I love writing and reading in young adult because that age group has the entire world at their feet. Everything feels fresh and new, and there's still so much to figure out and work through.
LAURIE: Are there any authors who've influenced your writing? And who are your favourite authors?
STEPHANIE: I always feel bad admitting this, since books/words are my job. (I'm also a book editor) But I didn't enjoy reading until I was in my mid-twenties. There were definitely certain books I read during that time that really pushed me toward pursuing my dream of being an author. I loved the historical aspects and tortured souls in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices. I wanted to write fast-paced stories that readers couldn't put down like Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games. And I fell really hard for the witty banter and sarcastic cast of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published?
STEPHANIE: I officially began my writing journey in March of 2014. My first attempts (two books in YA fantasy series) didn't take off. I began writing Unanchored on March 23, 2015. So, from the first words to its release, it has taken me 3 years and 25 days. I think...I'm terrible at math.
LAURIE: What advice would you give to other writers trying to break in to the Christian market?
STEPHANIE: For one, don't give up. Getting published is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. There's a lot of rejection out there and sometimes you just have to cry, eat too much chocolate, and pray for strength to keep going. I've certainly done my share of all that! I always tell writers to get as many beta readers as possible and offer to read for other new writers. It's one of the best ways to grow your craft! Read in the genre/market you want to write in and never be afraid to reach out to your fellow writers if you need help. The writing community is so wonderfully supportive!
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you're not writing? And is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and your work?
STEPHANIE: I truly am rather boring. I find great joy in organizing. We often spend our evenings watching sitcoms (currently working our way through Seinfeld), and I'll sort through paperwork or clean out some bin while we watch. I'm a foody who loathes cooking, so I'm always happiest at a restaurant were I can enjoy a delicious meal without having to do any of the work. And I can't get motivated to do much of anything unless there is music on very loudly. My tastes are a bit eclectic here, but my current favourite artist is Lindsey Stirling.
As for my future works and what my readers should know: there's a chance I may write under various pen names in the future. Alas, my ideas absolutely will not stick to the same age range or genre, so I'm a bit all over the place. Everything will be listed together on my website at www.stephanieeding.com in case it gets confusing. Who knows what the future holds? I'm ready!
LAURIE: And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
STEPHANIE: For my pirate sequel, I'm hoping to have that written and polished within the next six months. At least, that's my goal. Hopefully, that'll be ready to join Unanchored this time next year!
Stephanie will be around all day to answer any questions you may have about her book, pirates and their lore, or to talk about your favourite Young Adult books in general, so please leave a comment and she'll reply. To buy her book, check out the links below and thanks for joining us today!
Unanchored by Stephanie Eding
Publisher: Anaiah Press
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Cecily Hastings fails to escape her captor when he gambles her away in a game of dice. Now, instead of getting her first taste of freedom, she’s rotting in a cell on the Hellbound, a pirate ship under the command of Captain Finnigan Worley. Cecily, however, has no plans of sticking around with a captain known for his heartless deeds.
As soon as they make port, Cecily attempts to alert the Royal Navy. While trying to get away, she stumbles upon Captain Worley liberating people from a life of abuse and servitude, which makes her question everything she thought she knew about the infamous buccaneer.
Soon she’s recaptured and taken back to the ship, and Cecily vows to figure out the captain’s humanitarian angle. The more she learns, the more she believes in his benevolent mission. With the Royal Navy closing in, she must decide if she’s willing to fight beside Captain Worley or turn him over to the gallows for a chance at her own freedom.
Stephanie Eding lives in Ohio with her husband Matt and child comedians Ross and Lizzie. She spends her days drinking coffee, working as an editor, and snuggling her three wild-eyed cats. Stephanie always wanted to be a pirate, but settled for writing about them to keep out of prison.
You can find Stephanie at:
LAURIE: Sharee Stover, I'm so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First of all, can you tell us a bit about "Secret Past" and what inspired you to write this story?
SHAREE: Thanks so much for having me here today. "Secret Past" is my debut novel with Love Inspired Suspense. Katie Tribani discovers she has been raised in witness protection after the death of her mother. Every reality in Katie's life tumbles down when US Marshal, Daniel Knight, shows up at her front door to whisk her away to safety. The father and brother she's never known have discovered her location and they're coming. Katie must uncover the truth before one of them kills her.
I wanted to write a story involving Witness Protection and I found great information right on the US Marshals website including the fact that the program had been around since the early 1970's. I also searched pictures, movies and books and somewhere along the line, I came upon a black and white picture of a child with his mom in a story about the program. That's when I started to play my "what if"? game. What if my character was placed in the program as a child and grew up always under protection? If that was normal, if her family didn't want her to know the truth...as an adult, how would that affect a person? When is a good time for a parent to tell their child the truth? And that posed my target question: What if you'd been raised in witness protection and never known it?
LAURIE: What was the process for getting together with Love Inspired Suspense?
SHAREE: I had been working on this story for Love Inspired Suspense so when Emily Rodmell posted on Facebook that she was snowed in and taking blurb pitches I sent mine. When she asked to see the story, I was floored and elated! I had to make several revisions to the story but the changes made it stronger and I learned a ton. Several months and a lot of editing later, I received The Call.
LAURIE: Have you always written romances or did you write in other genres?
SHAREE: I actually started out writing suspense, attempted some historical and then evolved into romantic suspense. I love reading Ted Dekker, Brandilyn Collins, and Terri Blackstock. They're incredible suspense writers. So I wanted to write suspenseful stories too. My first book was about a married couple. In the story, the wife commits murder and the husband is faced with the decision to cover for her or turn her in. 90,000 plus words later, after a few conferences, writing books and a painfully bad pitch to an agent, I found that book needed a heavy reworking. So, it's collecting dust under my bed. Maybe some day I'll go back and rewrite it.
LAURIE: Are there any other authors who've influenced you in your writing?
SHAREE: I have so many favourite authors! I read in a lot of different genres and love variety. Carrie Stuart Parks, Julie Cantrell, Lisa Wingate, Kate Breslin, Tosca Lee, Karen Sargent, Mary Connealy, Rachel Dylan, Lynette Eason, Colleen Coble, ...oh wow and the list goes on and on.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published?
SHAREE: The road to publishing is a long and winding one for sure. I started writing full time after my youngest daughter was born so that's been about eight years. Initially, I thought I'd be writing non-fiction. I spent a lot of time collecting information on Korean history, especially during the Korean War. My interest stems from the work I've done in writing my mother's story. She was a war bride and her story is a powerful one of God's incredible redemption. I also enjoyed journaling my thoughts and stories with my daily Bible reading so I planned to write devotionals.
LAURIE: What advice would you give yourself back when you first started out, knowing now what you didn't know then?
SHAREE: What a great question! First, I'd tell myself to study writing techniques in books, conferences, writers groups etc. There's a lot to know and having a community of fellow writers is so helpful. Critique partners are a blessing because they see what you can't, and they provide incredible insight.
I'd also tell myself to buckle up and be ready for a ride. Everyone says you have to grow a thick skin and that's something I'm still working on. Rejection hurts but it's absolutely a huge part of this business.
Most of all, I'd say give yourself GRACE. There's great days when you can't type fast enough to get the words out and awful days when you wonder what on earth you were thinking about when you decided to become a writer.
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you're not writing? Anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and your work?
SHAREE: I love to crochet but can only do flat things like blankets because I can't make anything the same size twice. Tried doing granny square items and failed every time. Scrapbooking and card making are also hobbies though it's been awhile since I've done either so I'm really behind on my children's albums.
Writing is an addiction for me and something I absolutely love doing. I have an amazing group of writing sissters and their prayers and support are invaluable. I'm also an avid reader and so I appreciate the gift of storytelling and hope to get better and better at it.
LAURIE: Here's your beautiful cover, Sharee, and the blurb to your book "Secret Past". Readers if you have any questions for Sharee, please put them in the comments below and Sharee will be in and out all day to answer them.
Her life is a lie.
She's not who she thinks she is...
With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She's been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her. As bullets fly, US Marshal Daniel Knight whisks her to safety - but not for long. Captured and held prisoner, only Katie can unearth her secret past...if she can survive long enough.
Coming April 2018 from Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense!
Colorado native Sharee Stover lives in Nebraska with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and two ridiculously spoiled dogs. A self-proclaimed word-nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. Her Christian romantic suspense stories combine heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Nebraska Writer's Guild. Sharee is a two-time Daphne du Maurier Finalist and the winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award.
When she isn't writing, she enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable German Shepherd.
I'm excited to share with you all that I received THE CALL - or more correctly, THE EMAIL acceptance letter for my "polar bear" book, NORTHERN DECEPTION!
On February 28, 2018 I participated in a 12 hour event on Twitter called #FaithPitch where participants can pitch four times per manuscript to agents and editors who're looking for new authors in the Christian market. I was thrilled to get a lot of interest in my book and over the course of a few weeks, I boiled down my manuscript matchmaking to ANAIAH PRESS who sent me the loveliest acceptance letter after having my manuscript over a weekend.
My heart pounded, my mouth went dry and it was a good thing I wasn't talking to my editor on the phone because I probably couldn't have strung too many coherent words together! It was enough to read and re-read over the acceptance letter, and then forward it to my husband who was out of town on business.
Here's the pitch that caught editor Kara Leigh Miller's eye:
"When polar bear scientist Kira Summer's whistle blower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she returns to Churchill Manitoba not realizing she carries explosive evidence along with her brother's belongings.
Lukas Tanner, a widowed single dad of a special needs toddler, fled to Churchill five years ago after Kira broke off their relationship without saying goodbye. Now polar bears are dying, Kira is kidnapped, and Lukas must get past the pain of rejection to rescue the woman who will always own his heart."
Lots of action, bad guys, sled dogs, and of course - the polar bears! - and Romance!
Publication date TBA but sometime in the winter of 2018-19.
And just FYI for any aspiring authors out there, #FaithPitch is happening again on Twitter June 28, 2018. Note the date! You need an edited, complete manuscript and four different pitches per manuscript to pitch in a 12 hour period. There'll be lots of agents and editors paying attention and looking for books on their wish lists. Your dream agent or editor is out there!
I'm a military wife who's raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. We've lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When I'm not writing, I can be found spinning, knitting, and hanging out with my dogs.