Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ACFW Conferences: Friends and Dreams

I was scheduled to post on the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference blog on July 2nd but somehow, I ended up there today. This makes for some out-of-sequence reading because I wrote the first paragraph as if it was going to be posted on July 2nd. *sigh* Here's the complete text with photos - although I look a smidgeon different today due to a 30 lb weight loss :). Yay.

Ah, September – one of my favourite times of the year. Huh? Yes, I know it’s only July 2nd because we celebrated Canada Day yesterday and it’s just 2 days before the U.S. Fourth of July festivities. But, still… September is the premiere social event of the season. To this Canadian gal, anyway.

I’ve only been an ACFW member since 2007 and was thrilled to discover my first conference would be in Minneapolis – a simple 2 day drive from our prairie farm in southeast Saskatchewan. And, I was familiar with the area having lived several hours north of the twin cities for years, albeit across the border.

Many of you don’t know this, but I’m basically a very shy person and don’t like walking into a room filled with strangers. But, thanks to the internet, I was going to my first conference to meet eFriends.

Actually, it was Danica Favorite, as host of the eHarlequin Steeple Hill (SH) forum, and the Love Inspired authors and wannabes, who first introduced me to the ACFW. Margaret Daley, a regular on the SH boards, has such an affinity for the ACFW and ‘challenged’ people. She took me under her wing at that first conference and didn’t seem to mind me tagging along.

Another smart thing I did was hang out at Seekerville. I can’t even remember how I found it initially, but I believe Squirrel aka Cheryl Wyatt had something to do with it. What an amazing place to gather for friendship, eFood and craft knowledge. The Seekers extended a personal invitation for me to sit with them in the lounge each evening during conference. Me. To have people waving at me as I walked into that semi-dark lounge was a biggie. Some of my fondest memories of Minneapolis were conversations with that group.

The Seekers, Denver 2009

Mind you, it was hard to concentrate on what they were saying when there was a guy in a kilt teaching a Scottish jig behind me. (Waving to Mr. Chip.)

Six hundred voices singing The Revelation Song moved me then and still, to this day. Enthralled with the song, I urged my teen daughter to learn it and teach it to our fifty-member country church congregation. Although she now attends Bible College, The Revelation Song is a staple at our worship services. Reverent. Inspiring. Awesome. Our little building shakes with our a cappella rendition of the final chorus. Thank you, Rachel and the conference worship team.

I always buy the conference workshop CDs. Transferred to my iPod, they provide many hours of craft instruction while I’m driving across the prairies. I need to drive an hour, dodging gophers all the way, just to reach McDonald’s. The drive isn’t as lonely when I hear familiar voices on my radio. If I’ve attended the workshop, the voice takes me back to being there. But, there are so many workshops, and the tapes enable me to hear the ones I’ve missed.

An added bonus to the conference CDs is that I’m not obligated to attend the actual workshop. Not that I don’t want to, but I can take the time to comfort a friend if needed, before or after an editor/agent appointment, and know I’m not missing out.

I encountered several ‘God thing’ moments while in Denver last year. The most public was the morning I was slated for a workshop but didn’t want to attend. Ludicrous, right? With a couple hours before my agent appointment and restless energy to expend, I wandered the near-empty lobby thinking about it. Where was I supposed to be? It sounds inane, but that’s what was running through my mind. I remembered the Prayer Room and strode through the atrium with purpose. As I saw the sign and neared the door, however, my feet lagged. I suffered one of those visceral reactions—which I can never accurately describe—when you get all sweaty and feel squirmy and just know something isn’t right. I couldn’t go in. I wandered back to the lobby, feeling like I’d lost fifty pages of my work-in-progress due to a computer crash. I ended up at the conference registration desk and asked if the lovely lady-in-charge-whom-I-can’t-remember-her-name (LicwIcrhn) if she needed a volunteer. I’ll never forget the look on her face. Surprise? Shock? Let’s just say I wished I hadn’t spoken. I mean, the hallways were empty, everyone was in ‘class’, volunteers were working in the bookstore, and the 2 people at the registration desk could easily handle any latecomers. What was left to do?

LlicwIcrhn (see above) gave me this look and said she had the perfect job for me. I said I'd take it. She spoke into her handheld radio and said she was sending a volunteer. Then, she directed me to the ballroom. As soon as I walked in, a lady at the back started waving her arms. Turns out 3 publishers sent about 1500 books for free distribution and it was decided by the higher-ups to tie a string around them - 2 to a pack. A Time consuming task. The two ladies in the process of the book-tying event were so thankful for my willing hands. Yup, a God thing. The workshop didn’t miss me. And, and I didn’t miss the workshop since I bought the conference CDs.

In 2009, I drove through the open spaces of Montana and wild Wyoming to reach Denver. The prairie states captivated me and I wanted to stop and explore. However, the conference tugged me south. Forget shyness. I knew friends awaited. Sure, I agonized over the editor/agent appts, but friends awaited.

Friends like my Inky sisters of the Inkwell Inspirations group blog who would meet for the first time.

some of The Inkies, Denver 2009

Friends like prayer warriors, Julie Lessman and Cheryl Wyatt, who stop and pray with you whether you’re in a crowded bathroom or an empty hallway.

Photo: Julie Lessman and Anita Mae

Friends like mentor, Margaret Daley who hold your hand over a glass of soda in a dark lounge and encourage you to write for the CBA vice ABA market.

Photo: Margaret Daley, Anita Mae and Cheryl Wyatt

Friends like critique partner, Gwen Stewart who use red ink to keep your writing honest, while filling your head with visions of book contracts and dreams.

I’m flying to Indy this September for Indianapolis 2010.

Will you be there?

If you are a reader, please support us by either buying our books or borrowing them from the library.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dynamite Contest & Book Giveaway Update

Just a couple more days to get in the drawing for a brand new copy of Jillian Hart's Love Inspired The Soldier's Holiday Vow.

Check my June 22nd blog for complete instructions.

So far, 3 people have played the game so they each get their name thrown into the hat twice:

- Carol's answers are in the comment section of the June 22 blog

- Christa and Tammy have entered on my eHarlequin blog

Also on my eHarlequin blog is FakeFrenchie who commented but didn't play the game so she gets her name in only once.

There's still time to enter, but don't wait too long. I'll make the drawing on July 1st.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Retreat Photos

Today I'm showing photos and blogging about my weekend away at a writer's retreat at St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, Sask.

That's happening over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance.

And don't forget about the book giveaway and Dynamite Contest I've got going on here until the end of June.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Free Book Giveaway Contest

I'm back from my annual writing retreat at St. Peter's College and feeling great! I got so much done while at the monastery and want to share my joyful feelings, so I'm giving away a new copy of Jillian Hart's Love Inspired The Soldier's Holiday Vow. Yes, the book was released in Dec 2009 but the one I'm giving away has never been read.

I want to make this a fun contest which involves both writers and readers.

Last week, my son and I had a bit of excitement when we found what we thought was 100 sticks of dynamite on the side of the road. Well, it wasn't dynamite but an empty U.S. fireworks container. The thing is, it could have been a dangerous situation.

One of the readers of my blog over at eHarlequin mentioned something about possible terrorists planning a raid at the G8/G20 summit in Toronto.

My theory is that it was left as part of an exercise by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Training Academy which is in Regina, close to where I found the item.

Now it's your turn. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight June 30th for your name in the draw.

You'll get your name thrown in again, every time you play this 'Who, What, Why' game:
  1. What did the container contain? 
  2. Who left it? 
  3. Why did they leave it? 
  4. What was the result? 
  5. What is your email address (Use the (dot) and [at] to keep the web spiders from latching onto it.)

That means, you don't need to answer in the above format if you don't want to, but if you do, you'll get an extra chance at winning the book.

I'll make the draw on Canada Day, July 1st.

Have fun... maybe this will inspire a new story for you.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dad's Doing What?

To my hubby:

I love the way you create laughter in our family. I couldn't have picked a better man to be the father of my children.

Happy Father's Day, Honey.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Healer Trailer and Review

Healer (Book 1 The Brides of Alba) by Linda Windsor June 2010, Published by David C. Cook

I absolutely loved this book.

Linda Windsor has just become one of those auto-buy authors for me. That means I’ll buy her books just because she’s the author regardless of the story line, because I know I’m going to be highly entertained with her stories. That’s the impression I got from reading Healer. Although she’s multi-published, Healer is the first time I’ve been exposed to Linda’s writing. It certainly won’t be the last.

In Healer, Linda has seamlessly woven historical fact and fiction together with fantasy to create an unforgettable story. The heroine’s gift of vision reminded me of my grandmother. To some, the gift of visions is unnatural or ungodly, but I believe God grants miracles and visions to aid His children today just as he did 2000 years ago and earlier. And yes, even in the 6th century. My grandmother experienced visions when a loved one was in danger so I’m very comfortable with this scenario. I also believe in the healing power of herbs and would rather take a herb than a capsule of modern medicine. I was thoroughly at ease with these 2 aspects of the story.

Healer is set in 6th century Scotland in the days of King Arthur and Merlin. It’s the classic theme of good vs evil in a highly entertaining scenario.

Brenna of Gowrys is a hunted woman. She lives in a cave far from anyone – not because she’s done wrong – but because a madman has sworn to kill the progeny of the woman who scorned him. Alone, save for the occasional visit by a priest, Brenna has learned to survive by her own skills. Trained as a healer, first by mother, then by her nurse, she has an intimate knowledge of the properties of plants.

Brenna is a follower of Christ and gives Him all the glory for her visions, which include tingling and warnings of impending danger. She has no hope of a normal life as long as the madman and his sons live. Part of the problem is because she never gets out in public to meet someone, and part is because she knows no one will want to live the rest of their days with her and her wolf in a cave.

Then one day, Brenna sees a man being attacked. Before she can stop him, her wolf charges into the melee and chases away the attacker. Arrow wounds have almost ended the man’s life. Brenna drags him back to her cave by his cloak and proceeds to use her herbs to heal him. She doesn’t know who he is, but he’s hurt and needs care so she gives it.

As a child, Ronan O’Byrne witnessed his father’s madness. Now an adult, the images are a constant reminder of Ronan’s lost childhood. He’s sick of the hunts for the missing woman but as the heir to the O’Byrne kingdom, doesn’t know how to stop his father.

Ronan doesn’t remember the attack. He wakes in a cave tended by a young woman who’s the exact likeness of his childhood nightmares – the woman murdered by his father. He’d finally found the daughter yet he is too weak to do anything but watch her minister to him. His main concern is if she’ll continue her treatment when she finds out who he is. But does she really need to know?

Healer is a romance with the same problems young people face today when it comes to in-laws and conventions. Brenna loves God and Ronan doesn’t know Him. Her people starve while his have plenty. How will they ever overcome these challenges? And how will Brenna survive the loneliness once Ronan goes back to his people?

Read an excerpt.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Got My Answer

Yesterday's post was about a box of tubes which looked a lot like dynamite sticks taped together.

Well, I received a call from the RCMP and it wasn't dynamite.

The Mountie said I'd found an empty United States fireworks container.

Which means it was just litter and no danger at all. Still, I'm glad I didn't satisfy my curiousity and look behind it for fuses.

Kind of anti-climatic, isn't it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Found Some Dynamite... Maybe

Just after lunch on Sunday, I took my son to the city via the route which passes by the cheapest gas station around. About a mile after leaving the highway, I passed what looked like a block of dynamite sticks on the side of the road. Yeah, right.

I backed the van up and pulled alongside. But yes, it really looked like 100 sticks of dynamite all taped into a block. I took photos both with my camera and cell phone although I stayed in the van. The dynamite was stained, making it look old and was probably unstable. We were still 10 miles from the city. It probably wasn’t dynamite but to be safe, I drove about a hundred feet up the road then pulled over to phone the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Mountie I spoke to said he’d send someone out to see. I said I’d wait there.

Now you have to understand, it was 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon. My son, JJ, was going on a school camping trip and needed some items. I needed to pick up hubby’s prescription. The pharmacy closes at 6pm on Sunday night. I could only see 2 houses from where we were parked and I really didn’t think it actually was real dynamite that we found. And yet, I was worried some kids would happen upon it and blow themselves to smithereens.

So we waited.

And waited.

I didn’t know how busy the Mounties were, but I explained to JJ they would come when they could. Cars zoomed past. Birds sang. And mosquitoes hovered. Still we waited. After awhile I started to feel silly because after all, who tapes 100 sticks of dynamite together and leaves it on the side of the road? Really.

Well, around 4 pm, the Mountie showed up. I signaled where the dynamite was. By the time he pulled in behind me, he was on the radio calling it in. He couldn’t confirm it was dynamite, but he told the dispatcher to send out ‘a team’ to dispose of it. The Mountie proceeded to take down my personal information then said they’d be in touch in a couple days to let me know what happened.

I looked in my side-view mirror as I drove away… the Mountie was roughly 50 ft from the dynamite, on the far side of the road, standing on his tippy toes to get a good look.
Have you ever passed something weird or suspicious on the side of the road? Did you stop to check it out?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Photos of the Farm and Prairie Chicks

The Sears catalogue arrived this week. Considering we've had maybe 2 really warm days this year so far, I didn't need the reminder that summer would be over in a few short months. At least the front cover model isn't wearing fur this year. Gloves, yes. A parka, no.

The grass is emerald green after 3 weeks of rain. There have been some bright moments. Like when we looked out our living room window and saw 2 deer in the front yard. With all the vegetation out in the bush and fields, I don't know why they decided to visit us.

JJ looked out one evening and started hollerin' about a tornado. It was just a cloud but I can see his point.

Our neighbour to the east has his new crop of foals out. I love the sight of the little ones but they're hard to photograph because they tend to keep on the far side of mom. This one's just a baby and hasn't learned to hide yet.

In the story I'm working on, the hero, Dan, rides a sorrel gelding so the coloring is much like this mare.

I needed a photo of a book reviewer for tomorrow's blogpost over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance so JJ posed for me. I took 4 pics altogether with him showing different emotions. I think I used his perplexed expression over at the Chicks.

As you may have guessed, my Prairie Chick post is about book reviewers and influencers. I'm discussing how to get people to buy a certain book, as well as where to give them away. (The books, not the people.) Did you know you can release a book into the wild and track it? Yes, you read that right.

If you're wondering what book JJ's reading, it's Tunnels of Terror, a juvenile suspense by Mary Harelkin Bishop and based on the tunnels which run beneath the city of Moose Jaw, 2 hrs to the west of us.

So, if you were to release a book into the wild, where would you leave it?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley,  (Summerside Press) May 2010

An expert historical author, Lena has woven a beautiful story of redemption into the fabric of life in 1890 New Mexico. It’s a tale of love and forgiveness without making you feel like you’ve been on an extreme emotional roller coaster.

It starts when an old miner sends away for a young mail-order bride much to the consternation of Jeremiah, the young friend who looks after him. Jeremiah doesn’t understand old Philip’s faith in God or that the right woman will appear. And when a woman steps off the train and stirs Jeremiah’s heart, the realization that she’s Philip’s intended just doesn’t sit right with Jeremiah at all. Add to that, the woman shares Philip’s religious beliefs.

Madeline Mercer needs to escape Boston. Without waiting for confirmation after answering an ad for a mail-order bride, she heads to New Mexico with a new baby and 2 servants in tow. But, her steadfast faith in God falters when she meets Jeremiah and his barely concealed animosity. Frustration mounts when she overhears him profess her to be nothing but a gold-digger. She didn’t travel all the way to marry Jeremiah, though and just being in Golden gives her more peace than she’s felt in a long time.

This is a good book to curl up with and spend a satisfying afternoon on a rainy day.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. And boy, am I glad I did.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chance for a Free Cheryl Wyatt Book

I'm hosting Love Inspired author, Cheryl Wyatt over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance today. Cheryl is talking about the importance of that little thing called a comma and how it can change the meaning of a sentence. If you don't believe me, look at this one she uses as an example:

Without the comma:  Good call girls.

With the comma: Good call, girls.

Can you think of a sentence where the meaning changes by adding or deleting the comma? Put it in a comment at Prairie Chicks today before midnight. Cheryl will pick the one that makes her laugh the most as the winner of a copy of her current release, Steadfast Soldier.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Fun Photos

I'm blogging about Summer Fun over at Inkwell Inspirations and I've posted a whole bunch of photos to show how much fun we have during the summer here at the farm.

The photos include:

- showing the proper technique for jumping out of the hayloft

- how to hang from the rafter

- a real John Deere tractor

- training a team to pull a conestoga wagon minus the canvas covering

- and paddle boating on our dugout

So if you have a few minutes, maybe mosey on over and have a laugh or two. And here's a photo if you don't have time to visit the Inkwell today. No wonder I lose my kids all the time. LOL

For my question of the day, I'm asking if anyone can relate to any of the photos. It sure would be nice if you share your memories.