Hot Reads and Cool Drinks

Are you keeping track of the top sellers? J. K Rowling has done it again, but this time under a pseudonym – Robert Galbraith. Her book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, has sold tons of copies. She definitely has a way with words! Mysteries and thrillers have a huge followings (I love reading them, too). This one has a detective named Cormoran Strike.

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Of course, you all know about the new Dan Brown book, Inferno. This one delves into the classic from Dante that we all had to read in English class in high school or college. This is another popular author who weaves great stories.

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These books are not news to you, but let me share a couple of more that you may not know about that are also wonderful reads that you don’t want to miss. We have one more month left before school starts and the Fall routine begins. Just released earlier this month – The King: The Bowers Files, by Seven James. He is really good. I’ve read the other books in this series.

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Patrick Bowers has pursued the nation’s fiercest serial killers—and now one elusive foe is back for revenge.

Settling into a new post at the FBI academy, Patrick and his fiancée, Lien-hua Jiang, are planning their future together with his stepdaughter, Tessa.

But just when his life seems normal, a demon from the past returns to draw him down a dark road he hoped had closed forever. Forced into a desperate hunt to save the two women he loves most, Patrick is in a race against time to stop an international conspiracy from becoming the most widespread act of terrorism in U.S. history.

Okay, one more book to share before I go. Terri Blackstock is another author who will never disappoint you. As you know, she is one of my favorites. Truth Stained Lies is on my must read list and I hope it will be on yours if you haven’t already gotten to it.

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When truth doesn’t make sense, will lies prevail?
Cathy Cramer is a former lawyer and investigative blogger who writes commentary on high-profile homicides. When she finds a threatening note warning her that she’s about to experience the same kind of judgment and speculation that she dishes out in her blog, Cathy writes it off as mischief . . . until her brother’s wife is murdered and all the ‘facts’ point to him. The killer has staged the crime to make the truth too far-fetched to believe. Working to solve the murder and clear her brother’s name, Cathy and her two sisters, Holly and Juliet, moonlight as part-time private investigators. Juliet, a stay-at-home mom of two boys, and Holly, a scattered ne’er-do-well who drives a taxi, put aside their fear to hunt down the real killer.
Stakes rise when their brother’s grieving five-year-old son is kidnapped. As police focus on the wrong set of clues, the three sisters and their battered detective friend are the only hope for solving this bizarre crime, saving the child, and freeing their brother.

Sit down with your iced tea and enjoy!

Picnics, Summer Camp, and Baseball

What do picnics, summer camp, and baseball have to do with books?

PIcture taken at a rotary family picnic found on Yahoo images. Credited to Rotary5280, DSC_0141
Picture taken at a rotary family picnic found on Yahoo images. Credited to Rotary5280, DSC_0141

In my world, everything has to do with books and stories. Are you surprised? Story ideas come from everywhere. I receive a church newsletter that keeps me apprised of all the coming events, prayer requests, and service opportunities. Our annual beginning of summer all church picnic is this weekend at a local park. The meal is catered so we need to sign up early to be counted or just bring our own food. Everyone has a great time. The sounds and smells remind me of family picnics as a kid when we drove across country to get there. Within 24 hours of our arrival, grandparents, uncles, cousins, in-laws and out-laws from multi-generations gathered at Sinissippi Park on the Rock River. We had mountains of fried chicken, potato salad, green beans, home made baked beans, jello salads, and apple pie.  It started at lunch time and lasted until dusk. We swam and played baseball. Some of the more sedate cousins sat under the huge shade trees and read books or walked hand-in-hand with future spouses along the river bank.

My brother and I spent part of our summer at Scout camp and loved every minute of it. We experienced things we never would have other wise — stoning rattle snakes to death and curing their skins, skinny dipping in the moon light, and hiding the camp bell in hopes of getting up late the next morning. Great memories!

When I was growing up in Amarillo, Texas, the library had book mobiles that made the rounds of the city parks. The neighborhood kids could check out books, participate in the summer reading program, and return their books for more two weeks later when they returned. I loved it. My best friends and I would line up with the other kids and then spend the afternoon reading. I’ll bet you have picnics, summer camp, and baseball in your summers past and present. Go out – have fun and make more memories, read a new book, and enjoy yourself.

OWFI and DIY Alphabet Soup

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We live in a world of alphabet soup. Everything has an abbreviation that comes down to either a letter combination that we use instead of the name or the anachronism we use as a word in place of the full name. Have you noticed we even do that for the names of the churches we attend, at least we do in our area. Those of us who text and tweet a lot write and read in an abbreviated language that I’m not sure I even understand part of the time. I have to admit that my daughter had to explain what lol and roflol meant and then I felt quit smart and hip, one of the in-crowd because I knew what that meant. Then? I found out that there was a whole lot more to the shortened vocabulary … so much for speaking fluent text and tweet … lol 🙂

My friend and fellow author, Kimberly Black, and I went to the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. Conference this weekend or commonly known as OWFI, this past weekend.  About 300 attendees and a great faculty presented workshops for people of all levels — we all found something of interest and learned a lot. I found out I’m a hybrid author and here I thought I just aspired to owning a hybrid car someday to be environmentally responsible. With the changing publishing industry, many authors are combining the traditional pathway with a traditional publisher and then self-publishing as well.

I have a great relationship and wonderful books produced with Buoy Up Press from awoc.com, Dan Case publisher. He is a royalty publisher and produces great quality books and takes good care of us authors. We have to give him top quality writing and the editing process is stringent, as you would expect. About 18 months ago I waded into the shallow end of the pool as a self-published author with my nonfiction book, Tools and Tips: What Every Writer Needs to Know to Go Pro. At the time I wrote and published it, I have no plans to go out on my own with everything, but I had no idea that made me a DIY and hybrid author. It seems to be part of the journey for many of us. We as authors need to be flexible and adapt. A couple of jewels I learned this weekend are:

1. The fastest growing market for ebooks in the next three to five years is in the third-world countries because of the explosion in cell phone availability. Inexpensive ebooks available on iphones give us a market previously not available.

2. Ebooks priced at $2.99 – $3.99 sell approximately 4.2 – 4.3 times more books than those prices $.99 – $2.89 or some catagories prices more than than, up to $9.99. You actually make more money selling at $3.99 than at $9.99 in the long run.

3.If you’re interested in publishing your own ebooks, check out Smashwords.com – I’m not actually endorsing them, but their founder was one of the presenters at OWFI and had a lot of impressive and valuable informative information that was backed up with substantial facts. They have a lot to offer including marketing.

For those of my blog followers who are authors, as well as readers, a lot of what we do besides the actual writing is a do-it-yourself process. We cannot afford to hire a staff to do everything else for us, at least not to begin with in our careers. That’s why it’s important that writers share and help each other with what we’ve learned, not only through our books, but also when we meet each other and talk over a cup of coffee or a glass of tea. In my experience, those authors who are ahead of me in their careers have always been quick to offer a hand to bring me along and it’s my turn to pass it on. We all have the opportunity to pay it forward to someone else coming up behind us with a bowl of alphabet soup.

Any Ghostwriters or Aspiring Ghostwriters Hiding Out There?

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Ghostwriters and aspiring ghostwriters- -take off your cloaks of invisibility for a moment and check out these two upcoming opportunities to meet other ghosts, learn new skills and techniques, and join our growing community of professionals.

1) Ghostwriting Certificate Program is now online at Cal State U., Long Beach. The next class begins February 16, 2013. Go to www.ccpe.csulb.edu and search for “ghostwriting& quot; for full information and registration.

2) Ghostwriters Unite!, the first international conference for, by, and about ghostwriters, takes place at the Long Beach Hilton on May 3, 4, and 5. Go to http://ghostwriters unite.com for info and registration. Early bird special rates end April 1st.

These are great opportunities for anyone who is interested in ghostwriting. Even though the first listing may be too short for you to make the deadline, if you live in the Long Beach area, then you can sign up for the next course cycle. I have done some ghostwriting, as many of you know, and enjoyed it. If you don’t live in that area, then check at your local colleges and universities. They may have ghostwriting programs or classes available. Best of luck.

Snowflakes, Daffodils, and Lincoln

What could these three possibly have in common? It’s February! Still don’t get it? Okay, maybe you have to live in my part of the country – the Panhandle of Texas where the weather changes on a dime. People have said for decades “if you don’t like the weather right now, wait a little while and it’ll change.”

We can have snowflakes blowing sideways 30 minutes after the sun was out and you need your winter coat, muffler and gloves when you went into the grocery store with only jeans and a T-shirt ( okay you do have to have your shoes on or there isn’t any service). That is the weather in February.

We find daffodils turning up their faces to greet us at the florists booths in the grocery stores and at Wal-Mart. They are my favorite flower. Daffodil bulbs are at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Because the temperatures are bouncing between 70° and 25° the daffodils already planted in my yard are peeking about an inch through the mulch trying to figure out if it’s time yet to come up. Actually now I look around me, the walls in my new office are painted daffodil yellow with white wainscoting and trim. It’s February.

And of course, it is Lincoln’s birthday this month. I know that we only celebrate President’s Day now, but it’s February. As with many people, Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorite presidents in American history. If you’re wondering, no I didn’t forget that today is the day I recommend good books and good authors. One of my favorites is Jennifer Chiaverini. She is the author of the Elm Creek Quilter series. However, one of her latest releases is Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. I haven’t read it yet but it is on my list of books to read. It is the story of Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker, a former slave, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Keckley. The two women develop an amazing friendship that takes the reader behind the closed doors of the White House, through the emancipation of slavery, the First Lady’s loss of her son and assassination of her husband. We will get to know the president’s wife and a former slave in personal ways through their experiences together. Ms. Chiaverini is an impeccable researcher. Enjoy the read.

Davis Bunn – Always a Great Read

If you’ve never read any of his books, then I suggest you give his books a try. I highly recommend his books. His website profile says “An internationally-acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in sixteen languages, Davis is equal parts writer, scholar, teacher, and sportsman.”

Bunn and Janette Oke have written several books together including the Acts of Faith series.

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These are among my favorites, but Davis Bunn has written many other as well and continues to write great reads. Book of Dreams released in October 2011 is a great contemporary read. Book of DreamsThe back cover blurb can’t be beat for getting your attention “For Dr. Elena Burroughs, life is divided into two chapters—before and after the death of her husband. Today marks the point that her span of being a wife is equal to her span of being a widow. Even her success as a psychologist and her worldwide acclaim for a book on the interpretation of dreams is dimmed by an unspoken If only. Then a new patient arrives, one so private only her first name is given. Impeccably dressed and escorted by two bodyguards, Sandra recounts a frightening series of recurrent nightmares. …”

Enjoy!

Popcorn, Peanuts, and other Addictions

And you thought this was only about writing. It’s about life, too. I’ll warn you that today’s blog is a bit of a ramble, but it is about being a writer.    Image

Get a group of writers together and they are as varied in personality as you’ll find anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (and I said it more than once myself early on) “I’m not sure if I”m really cut out to be a writer. I keep writing but I’m not published. Is anyone going to be really interested in this stuff or should I quit? ” Most of us write because we must write. It builds up in our brains and we can’t not write or we would explode. That is all part of the writer’s life. Most of us would write whether anyone read it or not. Don’t get me wrong. It is much better if someone reads it, publishes it, and our book makes the New York Bestsellers list. I’m still working on making the list. 

Remember the old commercials for potato chips? Bet you can’t just eat one? How many hands full of popcorn and peanuts can you eat? That’s how developing story lines is for many writers. For those who are beginners, don’t give up. Let yourself give in to the urge to write another story. Reach for another potato chip and enjoy it. Enjoy the process. Some chips are over cooked. Some stories aren’t as good as others. It doesn’t stop us from going back for more. Keep writing.

Stories just keep on developing in a writers head. They won’t stop. Ideas tumble over one another. That doesn’t mean we don’t get stuck sometimes. Blocked. Either too many ideas and there is a log jam or we experience it as no idea at all. Take a deep breath because the next idea is just around the corner. Relax. Read a good book and then start writing again. Go to a movie and eat a large bucket of popcorn. Come back to your keyboard refreshed and ready to indulge your addiction to writing. 

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Free Book Giveaway!!!!

Hi everyone,

 

My publisher, Buoy Up Press, and I have a special promotion that only lasts Friday, Feb 24th and Saturday, Feb 25th, 2012. That’s this weekend!

 

Rebekah Redeemed, a part of my Women Of the Bible series is FREE on Kindle. Download for FREE. If you don’t have it yet, this is your chance to get it at no cost to you. Don’t have a Kindle? You can download a free Kindle app onto your computer or laptop and then get your copy of Rebekah Redeemed. The download of the Kindle app only takes a few minutes.

 

Rebekah Redeemed url:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0044KM0W8

 

Hope you’ll take advantage of it. Happy reading,

Dianne

15 Days until Christmas

‘Tis the season for shopping, hitting the stores and malls with a list that rivals Santa himself. Do any of us remember a simpler time for the holidays? As children we didn’t realize all the preparation and work that the adults around us participated in so that it seemed like magic. This past Thursday evening my husband and I attended the 58th Annual Singing Christmas Tree at a nearby middle school. Two of my children participated in the choir there for this great traditional event. Now, my 11-year-old grandson is in that program. We were charmed and impressed with the performance and the abilities that these children showed through out the event. They performed 13 pieces of music that ranged from “Christmas Time is Here” – remember “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” – to some traditional songs. Some were little known with difficult chords and harmony but the children sounded literally like an angel’s choir. One of the 8th grade boys did an amazing job singing “O Holy Night.”

The songs and the clarity of the young voices struck at the heart of the Christmas season. The audience was invited to sing a verse of several well known and loved Christmas carols ending with the classic “Silent Night.” The concert was a loving gift to those who attended. Coming home afterwards my heart felt full and I thought about the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago. A simple setting and God’s love for all of mankind all wrapped up in a tiny baby. What an amazing gift to us all!

Merry Christmas to all of you and a blessed New Year.