Friday, June 29, 2007
Lately, several people have declared, "Rachel, you should send your book to Oprah."
(This is not unlike every family member or friend who reads your first book and declares it a masterpiece. "I couldn't put it down!")
I admit, every time I hear this wee bit of encouragement, I drift into a-million-to-one land. (Re: Jennifer Hudson.)
One a warm July day, 2007, Lost In NashVegas and Diva NashVegas arrive, in tact, to the mail room at Harpo Studios in downtown Chicago . . . Freeze frame. Maybe should send to one of the Exley boys and ask them to hand deliver. Yeah, but what if they forget. No, send U.S. Mail. Unfreeze frame . . .
NashVegas books arrive at Harpo mail room.
Mail clerk, rolling eyes: Oh great, more novels. These people need a life. Hey, Sally, these are set in some place called NashVegas. Looks like a girl guitar player.
Sally: Put them in the pile.
Mail clerk: Tosses NashVegas books into BIG honkin' pile of Novels Oprah Will Never See Or Read.
Toward the end of the day, upper level staff has to come down to the mail room to pick up time sensative material. Practically trips on NashVegas books that have slipped from the pile.
Stoops down. "What's this? NashVegas. That's funny. I get it." Read back cover blurb, tucks them under her arm and take them home.
Mind you now, Oprah's staffers probably aren't reading other books by well-known authors that they buy with their own money and wish Oprah to promote. I'm sure they only read Oprah's Book Club Selection. Bunch of robots.
Back to staff: Takes NashVegas books home. Reads them in a week time. She's single, no kids, no boyfriend, and well, no friends.
She laughs. She cries. She plans her next vacation to Nashville because she just has to visit the Bluebird Cafe, the Hall of Fame and the Ryman.
Goes to work one morning, bleary-eyed from staying up until the wee hours finishing Diva. Sigh. Aubrey James is just the greatest.
Gayle King happens along. "What happened to you?"
Staffer: Up all night reading.
Gayle: You? I thought you only read comics and blogs.
Staffer, rushing around her desk, gripping Gayle: I found these two books in the Novels Oprah Will Never See Or Read pile, *gush* they are so good. I laughed, I cried.
Fast forward four months later. The NashVegas books have made the round at the Harpo Studios. Staffer has four more staffers going with her on Nashville vacation. They love, love, love the books. Love them.
Oprah here's about the hupla. Being from Nashville herself, she asks to read the books, too. They are handed over, dog-eared and stained, but oh so loved.
Two months later, on a beautiful winter Florida day, Rachel Hauck's phone rings. . .
End drift into one-in-a-million land.
"No way," I focus on friend. "Why would Oprah have a no name like me on her show. So I wrote a book. A million people published books each year."
"You never know. Can't hurt." Friend is still trying. Won't let bad ideas die.
"Do you not watch the Oprah Show? She has famous people, or folks who fit a show theme. She'd have to have theme show spotlighting faith-based fiction. If she does, it's going to be Ted Dekker, Karen Kingsbury, and some author who writes Amish."
"Where's your faith. You never know what God can do."
"Then why do I need Oprah?"
Ha! Sticking my nose in the air, I thank her for her interest and trot off. Oprah. Pfhoo. I have the King of the Universe. And He loves me!
I'm His favorite one.
Okay, truth? Oprah would be a great invitation. I'd love it. But I am more interested in what God can do with five barly loaf and two fishes.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
One writer's take on the "book of her heart."
Maureen Lang thought she'd write about her experience with Fragile X Syndrome (a genetic form of mental retardation) "someday." After all, having a child who requires round-the-clock care doesn't make for the upbeat, escapist reading most romance novelists prefer to write about. Still, Lang wanted to include Fragile X in a story because so few people have heard of the disorder that affects her 12-year-old son.
So she put the tale in the middle of a love story. The Victorian romance of Cosima Escott is interspersed between the pages of a glimpse into the contemporary life of Talie Ingram as her world is forever altered by her son's diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome.
From the back cover:
Talie Ingram has an ideal life: a successful, devoted husband; a beautiful one-year-old son; and another on the way. But her world is shattered when she discovers a shocking family secret in the nineteenth-century journal belonging to her ancestor Cosima Escott. Only in reading Cosima's words can Talie make peace with the legacy she's inherited and the one she's passed on to her son.
From the very beginning, Lang, a romance novelist and author of Pieces of Silver, deftly navigates back and forth in history… It's Cosima's lingering voice--her determination and faith--that inspires Talie to reconcile her son's diagnosis of fragile X syndrome (a disability Lang's own son suffers from) with her belief that God is merciful.
If there's one thing Maureen Lang would like readers to take away, it's that God loves us all, even through the trials He allows into our lives. And one more thing…the next time you happen to see a family with a disabled child…send a smile their way!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Just wanted to remind everyone that we're in the middle of a national forty day season of fasting and prayer that ends with The Call Nashville on 7-7-07, so there is still plenty of time to participate.
I'm excited about the focus of the fast, a call for the church to repent and return to the pursuit of righteousness, and to no longer tolerate apathy and sin in our lives. There is a particular emphasis on overturning legal abortion in our land.
I was reading Isaiah 58 today because it describes God's attitude toward fasting. You should read it during this fast; it’s only fourteen verses. The first two verses really stood out to me.
"Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God." (Isa 58:1-2)
Kind of scary, isn't it? There are some demonic strongholds that God won't throw down until the church partners with Him in prayer and repentance, and we can't effectively pray against things we're in agreement with by our actions.
Guess it's time to get serious.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
If you know of Angela Hunt, you know you're going to get a great read. Angie is one of the most prolific writers and readers I know.
Her latest contemporary novel, THE ELEVATOR (Steeple Hill), will be available in book stores June 26! Furthermore, she has just signed paperwork for the novel to become a Lifetime TV movie!
Get caught in The Elevator!
The betrayed wife, eager to confront her faithless husband, with rage in her heart and a gun in her pocket . . .
The determined mistress, finally ready to tell her lover she wants marriage and a family . . . The fugitive cleaning woman, tormented by the darkest secret of all . . .
As the storm rages ever closer, these three must unite to fight for their lives in the greatest test of courage — and faith —any woman could ever face.
Where'd Angie get the idea?
I had picked up that book for my book club to read, and I found myself staring at the cover, which featured the shoes of four different people against a background of sky. Then I naturally began to think about people trapped in a crucible . . . like an elevator.
And though that'd be tense, what would make the situation worse? Maybe the arrival of a hurricane? Next thing I knew, I pretty much had the plot synopsis in my head. All that remained was working it out . . . and finding a way to keep a reader's attention (a bit of a challenge when most of the book is set in an elevator!)
And now I'd like to offer you fifteen fun things to do the next time you're caught in an elevator!
1. Grin at another passenger for a while, then announce, "I'm wearing new socks!"
2. Make race car noises when anyone gets on or off.
3. Whistle the first seven notes of "It's a Small World" over and over and over . . .
4. Open your purse, peer inside, and ask, "Got enough air in there?"
5. Stand silent and motionless against the back, facing the wall, until everyone else gets off.
6. Greet everyone getting on with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Queen of the Universe.
8. Start a sing-along. "Kum by yah" works well.
9. Say "DING!" at each floor.
10. Listen to the elevator walls with a stethoscope.
11. Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and then go back for more.
12. Pretend you are a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the passengers (you'll know all about these after reading THE ELEVATOR!).
13. Take pictures of everyone aboard with your cell phone - even if it doesn't have a camera.
14. When there's only one other person aboard, tap them on the shoulder and pretend it wasn't you.
15. Hold a copy of THE ELEVATOR, read it, and keep moaning, "Why didn't I take the escalator?"
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
What, you ask, did I do?
After reviewing Aubrey's life, I did not see her as virginal. Taking into account her spiritual compass was whacked when her parents died, and subsubquently she lost her brother by abandonment, I couldn't see her towing the line.
First she's wounded. Her moral compass is now being directed by the life of celebrity. She's away from God because He allowed he parents to die.
I recently read a statistic that said most Christian woman do not consider their sex life submitted to God. Now that's a sad commentary on the Church.
So, in light of that, I felt Aubrey would have a past, and in fact, be in a sexual relationship with her current boyfriend turned fiance.
Otherwise, I just did not feel she would be authentic. However, I didn't want to make her a "ho" or a sex pot. I wanted her to be normal, feeling she's living right by only sleeping with a man she loves, but I tried to hint at underlying conviction. Deep down, she knows it's not the right thing to do.
The Ryman Scene
I decided to have a judgemental fan of her parents confront her. What I wanted to show was that often religious people sin more than those they judge.
When this woman confronts Aubrey about her life of sin, it is without love and mercy. She's harsh and condeming. When Aubrey responds with humilty, the woman is almost angered.
The juxtaposition here is the kettle calling the pot black. The woman is no better than Aubrey.
Yet, Aubrey hears her. Which I think speaks so much to her character. She realizes while the messenger is all whack, the message is right. Loved her for this.
Coming home to Jesus
It's hard to write spiritual content. One, it so easily comes off preachy. Two, I don't want to present my soap boxes or my slant on things to such a wide audience. Seven million plus Christians pray in tongues, I'm one of them, but not all who love Jesus do. I wouldn't want to present anything in a book that would distract from the true story. I'm not wimping out on what I believe, I'm just avoiding a potential argument when there is no need.
So, spiritual content is difficult to weave. I always want to present a realistic picture of the faith journey.
I try to think different, go out of the box, be intentional in my character's spiritual journey. Maybe have things happen to them I'd like to have happen to me: see a vision or something.
Because Aubrey is strong, I decided she would make the decision to go to church when she realizes she's heading in a direction she doesn't want to go.
She gets up one Sunday morning and decides to go to church. Period. God meets her there. The pastor of this church is my real life friend and man of God, Shawn Bolz. He's not a pastor of a church, but a minister of the Gospel nonetheless. And the man has seens some stuff! Good stuff. God is awesome.
Finding true love
When Aubrey finds her true love, she holds him off for a long time. She wants to do this right. We see her love, even desire for him, but also her desperate desire to get her life in God deep and strong.
In her spiritual journey, I hope the readers discovers a Father of love. One who will always welcome the prodigals home. One who understands the weak human heart and the tug of the flesh. Aubrey is like so many of us, once lost, but now found.
The Lord is always there for us, arms open wide. If only we won't give up on ourselves.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Her man, Car
For some reason, I like to tackle two love interests. Don't ask why. It's not easy. In this case, I wanted Aubrey to have a normal man in her life. When the concept was birthed for her to be tabloid fodder with a string of high profile relationships, I felt she would long for a man brought stability to her life.
When she meets Car, he's the perfect balm to her wounded love life. He works a regular job, comes from an established family, has money so her's should not be an attraction. He's confident and handsome, but light years away from her Hollywood and musician boyfriends.
But, since Aubrey was not to end up with him, I had to make him a little self focused and shallow. Likeable, but not so likeable the reader throw the book across the room when I ended their relationship.
With Car, also came the package of a family, something Aubrey is desperate to have. She puts up with a lot from him because she believes he has what she needs and wants.
True, she needs those things. Just with the wrong man. Car's family is the exact opposite of Scott's.
I believe Car loved Aubrey, in his way. But their relationship was too young and untried by the time they got engaged.
Loved their breakup scene. One of my favorite scenes in the book.
Finding Tom Petty
Yesterday I posted how I fretted over formatting the interview scenes. And, how I couldn't find detailed information on record label disputes. In late June (facing a July 31 deadline) I came across a treasure. "Conversations with Tom Petty."
The book was written in interview style with the interviewer's question in italic and Tom's answer in normal face with a preceeding TP. And that is how I decided to format Diva.
Loved this book about Tom Petty. It was very real and detailed, even talking about a record label dispute. It gave me the conversations and inside thoughts I needed to make Aubrey's scenes authentic.
Tom's record label dispute was over the price of an album. He wanted to sell it for $8.98 and the record company wanted to charge $9.98. Tom refused, didn't deliver the album and off to court they went.
I am grateful to the Lord for those wonderful finds just when I need them.
I tried to weave symbolism into this story. While spending a couple of days at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, I wrote in the prayer room. Awesome place. Worshp and prayer going on 24x7.
That's where I had the idea about the gardener, Juan. He was to be a Christ-like character. Jesus is the master gardener of our life, and Juan is a picture of this. Whenever he's working in the garden, Jesus is working in Aubrey's life.
He pulls up some dead weeds just as the Lord is pulling dead things out of Aubrey's life.
In the beginning of the book, the house is undecorated. This is a picture of Aubrey's stark and cold spiritual life. As the Lord heals her, she begins to warm and come alive. By the end of the book, the house is decorated.
She doesn't drive. Since her parents were killed in a car accident about the time she was learning to drive, I felt it would be very real to have Aubrey not learn. Then her career takes off and she doesn't need to drive. She's always on tour or with others who take her places.
But not driving also shows she's not in control of the direction of her life. As she grows throughout the story, she gets control, by first submitting to God. She learns to drive.
And there you have a behind the scene's look at Diva NashVegas. Hope you enjoyed it.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Whether you've read the book or not, maybe you'll find it interesting.
Since I've never been a country superstar, nor do I know one, I had to make up a lot of the story from my own understanding of the super star life - and from watching one too many episodes of Access Hollywood or a Barbara Walters' Special.
I read several bios both in book form and online. While in Nashville researching, I had lunch with artist Kim Hill. She was a blast and had some really great experiences to share with me. Through her, I learned what it was like to be on tour. How the music business worked from the inside. And how a public life might effect a private life.
While my diva needed to be some what larger than life, I did not want her to be a mean, hard character. Driven, strong, focused, yes, but not selfish or nasty.
Coming up with her Name
While talking with a friend about this book, I mentioned the name I'd planned to use. He said, "Better not. There's a porn star by the same name."
Ooops. I Googled and sure enough. Now, I didn't ask him, young man that he is, how he knew my intended heroine would have the same name as a porn star.... Hmm, note to self.
So, I picked Aubrey James. Googled it and found it to be a safe choice.
Since I write chick lit, I thought it was best to come at this story from a "lower" stand point. You know, the girl-wannabe who is in Nashville trying to make it. Since American Idol is so popular, I thought about making Aubrey a contestant on a "Idol" like show, but as I talked the story out with people, it seemed best to change the angle of the story and have Aubrey be a super star.
The idea made me nervous. I can relate to being a wannabe, but how would I create the life of someone really famous? Research. Which I don't like very much but consider it a very intricate part of my writing.
Some how I got the idea to have her be a media mystery and wrap the story around an interview. If I started the story with her being a super star, how did she get there? What are her thoughts on being famous? Who is the real Aubrey James?
Formatting the interview caused me a lot of heart burn. How should I make it look? Should I just drop back and have the interview appear like standard narrative text set apart by italics? It was really a puzzler.
Ami McConnell, my grand editor, and I decided to have the interviewer's point of view in the story, so I knew I didn't want to leave him out of the interview scenes. I liked Scott Vaughn a lot and wanted to him to bring out things in Aubrey as they talked. I felt it was important for the reader to "see" and "hear" Scott's interaction and reaction to Aubrey.
I was two-thirds of the way through the book before I found a solution to my problem of how to present the interview. But more on that later.
Coming up with the Hero
Originally, the interviewer was going to be female. Beth Rose. Aubrey's love interest was to be another songwriter. But when my dear friend and author Christine Lynxwiler read the synopsis, she suggested making the interviewer male and Aubrey's love interest.
Brilliant. From a writing stand point, it really streamlined the story and created an on stage scenario for tension and conflict.
If I'd remained with a female interviewer, I would've had to develop something between them - rivalry or friendship - and I didn't have the space for it in this story. Looking back, I can't imagine doing it that way.
Once I put Scott opposite Aubrey for the interview, I knew there had to be a residue between them - a bad meeting previously or something.
That's when I decided they... Well, I won't say more. If you read the book, then you know.
A Diva's posse
In my research, I read the autobiographies of several Nashville elites. Man, they have a thousand people around them at any given time! Manager, business manager, booking agent, tour manager, band manager, assistant, lawyer, producer, musicians, security, trainer, house manager, cook, nanny, stylist, employees for their merchandise business, roadies, musicians, etc, etc, etc.
I started out with quite a few people in the opening stage scene where Aubrey is waiting to go on for CMA Fest, but readers found it a bit confusing, so I paired it down to the essential people.
I brought in other key people throughout the story, but had to leave out people like the stylist.
All along I planned for Aubrey's parents to be gospel singers who met with tragedy. I was struggling how to tell their story through her eyes, imagining them being struggling artists before they died. While talking or emailing with Ami, I suggested maybe they were famous gospel singers. Ami replied, "I thought that all along."
Making them famous gave me a launching pad to make Aubrey famous as well as an experienced singer and musician. It also added the media intrigue I needed.
I read a fascinating article by John Carter Cash about his parents that helped me focus on what it would be like to be the child of icons.
Why was Aubrey a media mystery and what would bring her out of hiding? Again, I'd worked on the book for over a month before I solidified why Aubrey finally agreed to a sit down, in-depth interview.
I'd created Melanie Daniels character and dubbed her the Judas, but she had no real reason to do it other than revenge. Which is a good reason, but as I worked through the story I added the motivation of Melanie's boyfriend. I felt it worked well.
I also tried to show how tired Aubrey was of her famous life. And how distant she felt from her family and any kind of normalcy. And, at the time of Melanie's betrayal she'd been the target for so many tabloid stories it didn't make sense to keep hiding.
Thus the line, "Everyone's talking about me but me."
How ideas morph
While looking for some sort of twist to Aubrey's character, I'd thought of her being a rebellious teen who ended up pregnant. The baby would've been put up for adoption, but Aubrey kept in touch with the parents. So, I thought the daughter might show up in the story.
After brainstorming with Ami, we decided to put Aubrey in foster care after her parents death and have a younger girl also in foster care at the same time. So, the character of Jennifer became an "adopted" baby sister instead of a baby up for adoption.
I wanted Jennifer to be black, but didn't feel I could do justice to her. Then, when I needed her to be a big Aubrey James fan, I didn't think it fit an African American woman well. Some times when I think of Jen's character, I still think of her as the original.
I like writing stories with characters from different races.
Developing the relationship between Aubrey and Jen was tricky and I rewrote the emails between them many times. In fact, when I turned in the manuscript for the first round of edits, I'd not done a good job of tightening the email portions so the relationship was unclear with my editor, Leslie. But, I fixed it.
Record label problems
This was perhaps the most frustrating part of writing the story. In my record company research I discovered a few things. One, artist don't make a lot of money at first. If ever. Second, record companies recoup all recording, promotion, tour, advertising, whatever, expenses from the sale of an artist album.
An artist has to sell Gold (500,000 copies) just to break even and make a little money. Of the 300,000 or so records released every year, only 300 sell more than 10,000 copies. Only about 30 go platinum.
An original idea was to have Aubrey in financial problems. But when I realized she was a mega star - think Faith Hill meets Amy Grant - I knew she would've made a lot of money on her albums and unless she was a total nut job, she would have money.
I decided she was financially smart, so money issue became a moot plot point. Yet, I wanted her to be in a dispute with her record label. How desperate I was to sit in a label meeting between artist and label head, but no one was asking me to sit in, so I had to make it up.
In order to create a realisitc conversation around the board room table, I had to have specific details about Aubrey's argument with them.
Good luck, me.
I could not find specific details to save my life! I even talked to a Nashville entertainment lawyer and a producer at the famous Blackbird Studios. All I got was "creative differenes" or "money issues."
Can you see Aubrey arguing with the label head going something like, "But we have creative differenes."
"Do it our way."
"But I want to do it my way."
What way? Why are they figthing? I thought such dialog was stupid.
More research taught me that record labels are looking for radio play, drive time songs that capture soccer moms. Okay, that could be a good dispute.
Some artist have argued with their label over a new album not having a "radio tune."
I'd planned to have Aubrey want to branch out and do something creatively different, so the argument over a radio song worked, but what else could I add?
All my Googling rendered nothing new or specific until I changed from record label Googling to record company Googling.
I found a forum of experts and one of them kindly gave me a list of eight things an artist and label might fight over.
I happily worked those into the story. They provided conflict as well as detail. The dialog sounded real and specific. I was happy.
About this time, I came across the resource that helped me figure out how to format the interview.
But more on that tomorrow.
Find out about Car's character, the why's and how's. And did you catch any of the symbolism in Diva NashVegas?
Check it out tomorrow.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The sun is shining bright and warm. The dog is bathed and clean, and there are still three hours left in the afternoon.
In the distance is the sound of a mower, and if you close your eyes and breathe deep, you can smell the cuttings. Then conjure up a pleasant memory of your dad laboring behind the old red push mower, sweat dripping from his nose.
A day when there's not enough extra money to buy a new book or get a pedicure, but enough to buy a soda down at McDonalds. And that's all you need to feel like a million bucks.
A day when a simple drive along the beach, or country road would log it as one of the best days ever.
Ever have one of those days?
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Now Roxy - her inheritance from her grandmother squandered, her hopes of stardom dashed-finds her way home ... not by choice but because it's her only option. Her father's love and forgiveness surprise her, but her very presence throws the contented Burke family into turmoil, filling Roxy with guilt and shame.
Elena is shocked to discover doubt and resentment in her heart after her father's easy acceptance of Roxy into the family circle. Wyatt wrestles with doubts about marrying Elena. And Roxy struggles to accept forgiveness. Isn't she more deserving of rejection? As the story of the prodigal plays out, each member of the Burke family must search for and accept God's grace.
Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. However, she's certain there are better plots and fewer calories in her books than in puffed rice and hamburgers.
The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.
Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home in Idaho, which she shares with Poppet the Papillon.
SO, DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A WRITER?
No, I didn't, although I loved books and stories even before I could read. In fact, I went to my first day of first grade with only one goal in mind - learn to read. When they didn't teach me how that very first day, I told my mom there was no point in going back. Fortunately, my mom knew who was boss, and I did go back to school.
When I was young, what I wanted to be most in all the world was a movie star. My closest friends all nod their heads, I'm sure, when I say this, knowing my theatrical nature. I took ballet for seven years, and I was in various theater productions, both in school and as a young adult.
My storytelling career began in grade school when I told my fifth grade friends that my mother was born in a covered wagon while coming west on the Oregon Trail. It seemed plausible. My mother was, after all, 47 years old at the time. My word! Had they even invented the wheel when she was born? [Sorry, Mom.]
Fast forward to high school. I was a compulsive writer, scribbling stories and poetry in notebooks and on binders. This wasn't work. This was fun! Writing could transport me to any place, any time. How cool. I also was a lover of horses and spent many years riding and competing and raising them.
Marriage and family filled the next decade. I read voraciously. I daydreamed. In my mind, I reworked the endings of both movies and books any time they didn't suit me. I performed with a Christian theater troupe. We raised a few horses. Then I got an idea for a story, a Gone With The Wind type saga. I talked about it with others for about six months. Finally, I sat down and began to write. I wrote long hand on yellow legal pads and typed the pages on the office Selectric typewriter during lunch hours and coffee breaks. Nine months later, I had a book, and two years after that, it was published.
The rest, as they say, is history. These days, the nest is empty. My daughters are grown with families of their own, and I am the ridiculously young grandmother of six. My mother (past her 93rd birthday - who was not born in a covered wagon) lives with me, as does Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Listen, if you want to be a fiction author in the CBA market, this conference is THE conference to attend.
Editors from the major and not so major Christian publishing houses will be there. Agents looking for their next new client. Authors who are more than willing to share their experiences and advice, more than willing to cheer your writing journey will be there in droves.
So, what's the hold up? Why haven't you signed up yet?
If you're thinking, "Well, I'm going to RWA in July," that's all well and good, but even RWA cannot give CBA authors what this conference gives. It's not designed to. ACFW is.
Conferencing made all the difference in my writing career. It's where I networked with people who helped me along the way. Gratefully, those people are now my good friends!
ACFW's conference has a family feel, and a genuine presence of God. The speaker, Jim Bell, is a funny, Godly man.
There will be devotionals and worship to up lift. We even staff a prayer room.
You will leave this conference professionally, emotionally and spirituall uplifted.
Do NOT miss it.
See you in September.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
However, I prefer not to play without them, but I can survive. Thanks to Keith who stepped up and the rest of my faithful band.
Two, today I learned it's not about me!
"What, Rachel," you ask, "happened to give you this revelation?"
Well, I went to a lovely event as an author. There were "others" there, too, and as we were getting ready to leave for the afternoon, a person comes up to us and immediatly starts telling us about himself. He's written a book for new believers which of course fulfills some big void and need in the ever inadequate Church.
I can't take the Christianese any more. God is well able to prepare His Bride. Does He need us? Yes, because He chooses to need us. But, the idea of how inadequate the church is based on our own experiences is so short sighted.
Recently, I was some place where I saw no less than a dozen titles on the subject of prayer alone. Jesus only gave us five verse in Matt 6.
There is no quick fix to prayer. JUST DO IT.
Okay, that was a freebie.
So, the lesson for me was to alway focus on others. Put them above me. Even if I'm the one standing there with my books and they are telling me about their work. Even though it's tiring, listen.
And when I'm on the other side of the table, talking to the author or musician about their work, don't promote myself. It's not pretty.
While promotion is part of my job as an author, I do not want to do it at the expense of others. I want to know the right time and place. Better yet, let God promote me. He will exalt me in due season if I do not grow weary.
Friday, June 08, 2007
RETURN TO ME
Zondervan, June 2007
Discouraged and destitute, her dreams shattered, Roxy Burke is going home. But what lies beyond the front door? Rejection … or a brighter future?
When Roxy Burke left home for, she swore she wouldn't come back until she was a star. But it's desperation that drives this prodigal back to her family, and no one is prepared for what happens next.
Roxy has crashed and burned. She's squandered an inheritance, lived a wild life, and wasted her talent. Desperate and ashamed, she now must return to her father and sister, neither of whom she's talked to in seven years.
Even more problematic is the reaction of Roxy's former boyfriend. Once a rebel, Wyatt has given his life to Christ and plans to enter the ministry. He and Elena are engaged, but Roxy's return raises questions that could mean the end of Elena's perfect future.
The Burke family faces the return of the prodigal and must reach out for healing. Will they each be able to accept God's grace?Read a chapter of this exciting new title at ChapterAWeek and order it online at Amazon.com.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
When we moved into this "fasting house" nine years ago, most of my worldly treasures were stored along one wall. (Note to self: Don't store stuff you want to keep in garage.) Most of it is brown, bug eaten and dirty, but I'm sifting through.
What I love about going through my old college note books and grade school papers, is connecting in some way with a part of myself that's long gone, but still a major part of who I am today.
I'm not much into reminiscing, but I do like to walk down memory lane now and then. Well, I found some of my "early" writings. By my hand writing, I must be in sixth grade, maybe seventh.
What I read amazed me.
Here's an excerpt from a story called, "They Called It Freedom."
Chapter One - Away From It All
Christy, Candy and Susie were three best friends. They lived in New York City and it was very crowded and dirty. (This is 1972ish, pre Julianie) Christy, Candy and Susie were brouth up in the country and they didn't like the city, so they decided to go where it was clean and plenty of room. End excerpt.
I laughed as I read the story to Tony. "I was a chick lit writer in '73!"
Here's another excerpt:
One of the girls hobbies is singing and writing. They have performed a lot and made a few albums and 45s.
I even wrote about girls involved in music!
In another story, Land Of My Own, I wrote in first person.
Land of My Own
It was spring and like mosst people in spring, I got wild crazy ideas. The sense of the wild and freedom. But nevertheless, I was trapped in the jungle of walls better knows as New York City.
More chick! I'd never even been to NYC.
It was fun looking over old stuff, mostly the writing. Even my college papers, yellow and torn, reminded me I'd studied the craft for quite awhile.
I also found all my old 45s. What to do with those, I don't know.
Found a bunch of grade school and junior high knick knacks. Not sure what to do with those, either. I should toss them, but...
Tomorrow, back to the garage and more boxes.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Author and friend Jane Orcutt lost her battle with luekemia this spring. Some friends have gathered together and created a web site for her.
We are encouraging readers to visit Amazon and buy Jane's latest book, All The Tea In China, to support her family!
Jane was a lovely, kind woman and a great writer.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The reason for my hushed-up self is obvious. They beat my beloved Buckeyes this year in both football and basketball. See previous post about this being a year of disappointment.
The Buckeyes losing to the Gators, twice, was just one of many.
Worse, I live in Gator country, had to endure friends at church sporting their championship t-shirts and hats, making sure I saw them at every turn, grinning at me like the Cheshire cat.
Okay, okay, I can be a good sport. Yay for your team.
Then this whole Gator Nation idea was birthed. Like they are invincible, indestructible, never to be defeated again. They will have all the good coaches, all the good recruits and college sports will now be dominated by the nation of Gator. They have the best players the world has ever seen.
Well, last Friday, Billy Donovan skewered the Nations high ideals of never being defeated again. He signed on to coach the Orlando Magic.
Gasp! Oh, no. The cloud settled over Gainsville. Tropical Storm Barry passed over. And, they lost a major recruit to Kentucky. Boo hoo.
And you guys laughed when Ohio State fans cried after loosing their perfect season on January 8th.
Then, the sun broke on Monday and Donovan changed his mind. But it's too late. Everyone knows where his heart is now.
Florida Today columnist Peter Kerasotis says, "All of this brings Billy Donovan's character -- or lack thereof -- into question."
Not just because he changed his mind, but because his recruiting has been questionable and before Orlando, he talked to Memphis about coaching the Grizzlies.
When Donovan's Magic signing was announced, 200 season tickets sold over the weekend. So, in his wake are disappointed Magic fans as well as Gators.
But in my humble opinion, the Gators' coach found "Magic" when he recruited Horford, Noah and Brewer, the three who really gave the Gators and Donovan back-to-back championships. Before the last two NCAA tourney's, he'd never gotten out of the second round.
All three seniors go on to NBA draft. And good for them. Not sure they graduated, but that's another story. Why get an education when the NBA offers so much money and sex.
Yeah, I'm making a point here.
Where's the commitment to the heart of college sports? Why are we losing players after their freshman year to the NFL or NBA? Where's the commitment to education and sticking with something you start?
What happened to coaches loving the sport, education and training up young men and women?
Donovan was beyond lucky when his top players chose their final Gator season over the NBA. And it paid off for them, proving they are a little smarter than cavemen. (Hey, that's their t-shirt slogan, I didn't make it up.)
More than standing out as a team who won back-to-back championships, they stand out as men who set their sights on something amazing and went for it. They banded together to play their senior year and dribbled their way to another national championship.
They are an example to other players that the same possibilities await them. Stay in school, grow, mature, study, then go out into the big bad world of pro sports.
It's amazing how much Noah, Brewer and Horford's "stock" went up after winning back-to-backs.
Let college sports BE college sports. Players, stay two, three years. Give yourselves and your teams a chance.
As for Billy Donovan, best to you bro. I'm sorry you're in this mess. I honestly believe this has been a very hard decision for you. Mayb God give you wisdom.
After all, Gator Nation is still just a Swamp in north central Florida. ;)
Monday, June 04, 2007
By my fasting husband.
We're joining in the fast called by "The Call" to interceed for our nation, and while we have grace, gotta tell ya, fasting is not always easy.
But when I see the picture above, of a man humbled and weeping over baby shoes, representing the millions of aborted American babies, my youth is renewed. I fast on.
Back to today. Tony gets in these moods when fasting. One year, he came to the conclusion we neeed to sell our house and move. We've been in the "fasting house" for nine years now.
Another time, he concluded we needed new computers.
Again, one time he decided the yard needed to be cleaned up.
So, I like fasting Tony. For a lot of reasons, not just he gets energized to do stuff even though he's physically weak. It's always fun to see what he'll come up with.
Today he joined my recent efforts to clean out my office and deal with the overwhelming number of books we own. (I've been selling a lot of them on Amazon and doing really well!)
He found more books to toss or sell, organized us for a garage sale this Saturday, spent money on both of us at Wal-Mart, cleaned out his t-shirt drawer, and while it's not a new house or new computer, stuff is happening.
I think it's because we're not sitting around wondering what to eat next.
Man, I was in McDonalds getting a Diet Coke, (yes, DC is on my fast) and I about jumped over the counter for a hot fry. LOL. Not really, but it smelled so good.
But, I believe wholeheartedly in this fast, the reason Lou Engle called it and the integrity of his ministry.
We were listening to our fav radio host play clips of a recent political debate and I spent a good bit of the morning yelling at the radio. Not good.
I believe the nearer I draw to Jesus, the nearer we all draw to Jesus, our minds and senses become more keen to the unsound wisdom of the world.
Jesus, John tells us, is the light of the world. John 1:9, "There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man."
Abiding in Jesus, talking to Him, reading of Him, brings spiritual and intellectual light to us! Wow.
Now, it doesn't make us the smartest people in the world, or mean we don't make mistakes, but I do believe we can learn through His light to descern between those who spew darkness, and untruth.
Some of the stuff I hear coming from the news and politicians doesn't even take any thought to debunk and debate. It's so clearly absurd.
Anyway, please, pray for our country. We need the LIGHT.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
I'm not Nora Roberts or Karen Kingsbury yet. Or Debbie Macomber. But, God has it all under control.
I talked to several customers for an extended time who did not buy books. At first, I thought, "Wow, potential customers are passing by while I'm talking to someone who told me they weren't buying."
But you know what, people are more important than my career, then selling a few books. And, I had fun talking to people in my own community.
Though, I was dubious about the redneck who told me he was once in the Eurythmics and Some Other 80's band. Can't remember, but you'd recognize the name. He was the one who wrote their hits that gave them a gold record.
Now, he sounded pretty knowledgable about the music industry, and being as I've researched it a lot, he sounded legit. But as he walked away, I thought, "There goes one good story teller."
Now, in New Hampshire, if a customer didn't want to buy or browse the books, they'd say, "I'm all set."
In Florida, we say, "No thanks."
The picture is NOT of me at the book signing, but of me in my office, but how I looked at the book signing. I know you were just dying of curiosity.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Funny how strength so often is really found in weakness. Humility, kindness, giving. If one is humble, giving, selfless, contrite, then no one or thing can own them.
If one seeks power, they are subject to those who hold power. Their emotions are ruled by their wants.
We have to control our wants. Or they will control us.
"God, raise up a radical, wholehearted generation for You that walks in might, power and holiness. Clothed in fasting, prayer and humility."