Friday, April 30, 2010

Christy Award nomination for Fireflies in December!

There are plenty of things I consider reliable pick-me-ups, chocolate being high on the list, and now I've found a new one... being nominated for a Christy Award!

The awards nominations were announced Thursday morning, and Fireflies in December has been nominated in the First Novel category. It truly is an honor to have my work recognized alongside so many wonderful books, and I just can't stop smiling about it.

My appreciation goes out to Tyndale House Publishers for believing in this book as they have. It's been such a wonderful experience to be part of their family of authors.

Congratulations to all of the finalists. I can't wait to see everyone in St. Louis!

The complete list of 2010 Christy Award nominees:


Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills • Tyndale House Publishers

How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus • Barbour Publishing


Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson • Thomas Nelson

The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth • Zondervan


June Bug by Chris Fabry • Tyndale House Publishers

The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson • Thomas Nelson

Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle • Tyndale House Publishers


The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry • Moody Publishers

Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent • Tyndale House Publishers

Scared by Tom Davis • David C. Cook


A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey • Revell Books: a Division of Baker Publishing Group


Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander • Thomas Nelson

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group


Intervention by Terri Blackstock • Zondervan

Lost Mission by Athol Dickson • Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group


By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson • Marcher Lord Press

The Enclave by Karen Hancock • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik • Tyndale House Publishers


Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma • Thomas Nelson

The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason • David C. Cook

North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

†Historical Fiction includes four nominees due to a tie in scoring.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Adventures in Editing

This past trip down editing lane, I had one very distinct problem: continuity. The thing just didn't flow.

One of the most important aspects about telling a story is finding the smoothest way from point A to point B. It can't just be a bunch of vignettes without a goal. It has to tell the story from beginning to end with a reasonable progression.

Think about one of those connect-the-dot puzzles kids do. If they don't follow the dots in the proper order, it'll turn out to be a bunch of criss-cross lines. But following the proper path makes a perfect outline of an elephant.

Continuity in a novel is just like that... without the elephants. But then again we're talking fiction -maybe it does have elephants! Anyway, without the proper flow from beginning to end, the wires get crossed and a reader starts to wonder how they got from here to there... or why, for that matter. If the story doesn't follow a clearly marked path, the reader gets lost - whether in time, plot line or character development.

With Catching Moondrops, I realized, with the help of my fantastic editor, that my continuity was a bit out of whack. Addressing the problem seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but it was time to go back to the drawing board. I added a couple of scenes, swapped a few around and then went back to fill in the blanks.

No doubt, it's time consuming. But it's so worth it! A little bit of monkeying around with scenes takes a novel from off-kilter to spot on, giving the writer a sense of satisfaction and the reader a great ride.

So if you're finding yourself mixed up in where to go next with your work-in-progress, step back and eye up that scene order. Look closely at your characters and scenes and see if they match the ebb and flow that you're looking for.

It's time to connect those dots!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventures in Editing

This past week I've been working hard on editing Catching Moondrops, and even though this is my third time around with editing, I'm still learning. But I suppose that's the way everything is... there's always something new to learn no matter what we're up to.

But there's one thing I'd already learned in the past that I've had to employ yet again this time around: Be willing to cut. In my writing career there have been plenty of scenes, and even characters, that I've written and then ended up leaving behind at some point, knowing full well that the integrity of the plot would be improved by doing so.

And it can be tough! When I write something in the first place there's usually a good reason for it, so it's hard to just scrap the idea. Not to mention the fact that I've spent time working on it, and it's never fun to just get rid of something I once spent an hour or more creating.

Then again, it's tougher to watch the novel suffer due to self-indulgence. Maybe I wanted to see a particular event or conversation take place, but ultimately it's the overall project that I'm most concerned about. I figure I'd rather throw some of these things to the cutting floor if it means a better book in the end.

So if you're working on something, don't be afraid to do some trimming when necessary. Always look at the big picture, not just one narrow angle. It may hurt to say goodbye, but in the end you'll be glad you did.

  • Completely off the subject, I'm excited to announce that Fireflies in December is a finalist for general fiction in the Retailers Choice Awards. I'm incredibly honored by the nomination! Winners will be announced later this week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

His Unfailing Love

It's amazing to me how busy I can get with nothing. Life just gets like that. After a while I realize that my hours floated away on a breeze of to-do lists and Google searches.

But every now and again I'm reminded of why I'm really here. Yesterday, I watched a documentary about the Shroud of Turin, which many experts and religious leaders believe to be the shroud Christ was buried in. No one knows for certain if it really is what they think it is. But the shroud is marked with human features and blood, and what it exposes is horrifying.

The traces of blood themselves indicate that the man who once lay in that shroud was beaten so severely that nearly his entire body was covered in wounds. His head had been lacerated, his hands and feet pierced and his side gashed open.

The man who once lay in that shroud was brutalized.

So whether or not it was Christ who was laid to rest in that cloth, it stands to reason that we can all learn something from the evidence gathered from it. Because that is exactly what happened to Christ. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

For us, He was betrayed, humiliated, beaten, bruised, bloodied, stabbed and nailed to a cross to die an agonizing death. All so that we never have to pay the ultimate price for our sin. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

All He asks in return is that we believe and dedicate our lives to Him.

So I remind myself... why am I here? I'm here to glorify the Lord with my life. To live in such a way that my obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit testifies to the unfailing love with which He gave His life.

Why do I ever think my to-do lists can top that?