Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Publishing Breakthrough

Finally! I got a positive email from my agent yesterday. With a few minor revisions to my Scottish Medieval, the editor believes she can definitely acquire it. While I have been published in nonfiction, breaking into fiction has been a long and hard journey. I pray this is finally my breakthrough! Like many authors, I feel I've paid my dues with 100+ rejections, a two-year contract with an agent six years ago that never went anywhere, rounds and rounds of workshops and conferences, contests, and a number of revisions.

My husband has been very supportive. He does a lot of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. Today he's been catching me doing everything but revising my manuscript. He finally cornered me and demanded to know why I was avoiding the "revisions." I looked at him and told the truth. "I don't think I can read it one more time." With his inspiration, I finally took myself off to the computer room. I turned on my "Brave Heart" CD, sat down at my laptop and went to work. A little over an hour later I was finished. I emailed my revised manuscript off this afternoon, so I hope to hear news of a contract soon.

In the meantime, I'm preparing for my trip to Atlanta next week, where I will be attending the Romance Writers of America (RWA) national conference. I'll get a chance to meet my agent in person for the first time and I hope to meet a lot of aspiring and published authors. I plan to attend the Faith, Hope & Love (FHL) mini-conference on Wednesday, the Inspirational chapter of RWA. Perhaps I'll come back with some good news.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Source for Creating Characters

Shhh! I'm going to share a secret. My real source for creating the characters in my books--is the Creator. Who better? God has more experience in creating people than any human author dead or alive.

He gives me ideas through biblical characters, dreams, people I meet, and other stories I've read or watched, whether it be a book, movie, news, or the daily newspaper.

The key to developing characters is to make sure they have one or two flaws that hinders them from immediately achieving their goals. This gives your characters something to overcome and helps readers identify with them. These flaws are spiritual weaknesses where the character can grow in Christ.

The complaint that many have had with Christian fiction is that it lacks characters with realistic flaws. This is not necessarily due to the authors lack of trying, but more to publishers reluctance to test the CBA market beyond tradition. While it is true that a Christian should not commit certain sins, it is also true that some Christians do. This is where we sometimes have trouble reeling in a nonbeliever. Non-Christians either think a sinning Christian is a hypocrite, or they think a perfect Christian is too hard to live up to. So how do we reach them? By teaching the truth and showing it in our writing.

In 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul said, "I die daily." Why would he say this? Because salvation isn't a one time thing. The first time we come to Jesus, is the beginning of our salvation. Like nonbelievers, Christians sin. Sometimes we know it and sometimes we don't realize it. However, unlike nonbelievers, the part of us that sins dies daily with our repentance and through the spiritual washing of the blood of Jesus.

This realization of sin, and the growing pains of mercy and forgiveness, to the goal of defeating that sin is what we have to show in our stories. If we are going to write about the truth, we cannot hide it behind unrealistic characters. Instead, we must show the true flaws in our characters, and allow the Holy Spirit to give us creative ways to bring our characters back to God in our stories. This can be through a nonbeliever who finds salvation for the first time, a person who has returned to their faith, or a believer who learns a new and valuable lesson. The result, is that through their circumstances, characters either find Christ or grow closer to Christ. This is what makes Christian fiction different from other fiction.

I have such a character as this in one of my manuscripts. While my character does not physically commit a sin, his longing is a sin of the heart. I know this story belongs in print, because this hero is struggling with the same issue that the majority of our population struggles with on a daily basis. With God's help, I will eventually find the right publisher to publish it. We writers must keep writing the books that are born from our hearts, and in the right season, these books will produce fruit.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Home Again!

We are now back home after an eventful week at the NC Outerbanks. We visited at least five lighthouses (Currituck, Hatteras, Bodie, Ocracoke, the Roanoke Marshes). In spite of all the rain, we had a great time. We took the ferry to Ocracoke island and were informed that the beaches were being closed due to a tropical storm. We had watched the weather channel that morning before we left, and there was nothing about a tropical storm. 

On the second day I broke out in an annoying rash from the hotel soap. I took some Benedryl and it cleared up. We bought some more sunscreen for my daughter, and while on the beach I decided to use it (Waterbabies spf 50). This time I broke out into huge whelps that drove me crazy with the stinging and itching. I had to take more Benedryl and prayed I wouldn't fall asleep face first in my plate during dinner. Benedryl always makes me sleepy. Needless to say, I came home with a sunburn.

We saw a wonderful outdoor drama, The Lost Colony. The theatre is set right on the Albemarle Sound as a beautiful backdrop. The sky lit up with lightening during the whole play. The wind blew feriously and I was prepared for a downpour, but the rain held off for two hours until the drama was over. The lightening seemed to heighten the creative stage effects.