Apr 8, 2014

Homeschool Adventures

I've been busy the last few months educating a very special young man. To mix my writing life with my new teaching job, I've started a blog chronicling our homeschool journey. I'd love for you to stop by A Yearning 4 Learning and take a look.

Sep 10, 2013

A Giveaway Featuring Unclaimed Legacy by Deborah Heal

Here and now are the perfect place and time to get your copy of Unclaimed Legacy.
 Now? Because it's only 99 cents for Kindle (for the month of September only). Here? Because buying it enters you in a giveaway of the complete Time and Again trilogy (personally signed by the author) AND a pretty mug for your morning coffee. Hint: You might want to keep the mug and Kindle book for yourself and give the signed copies of the trilogy as a gift.
The Rafflecopter giveaway entry form is below, but first let me tell you about Unclaimed Legacy. 

 Those who have read Time and Again  know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with 11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had expected—but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri’s old house.
And now Beautiful House comes in handy when Abby, John, and Merri agree to help the "Old Dears" next door with their family tree. Except Abby and John learn more about one of the ladies’ ancestors than they ever wanted to know. Convicted in 1871 of murder and arson, Reuben Buchanan is a blight on the family’s reputation. But was he really guilty? Abby and John must get inside the mind of a murderer to find out.
And while they’re rummaging around in the Old Dears’ family history, they also find Nathan Buchanan, a heroic relative connected to the Lewis and Clark Expedition—and a legacy waiting to be reclaimed. But the most important discovery they make is that God’s promise to bless a thousand generations is true.
"In this sequel to Time and Again Deborah Heal has taken pieces of real life history and woven them [into] a fantastic story geared to keep the reader entertained and on the edge of their seat… I adored every single bit of this. It has the perfect blend of history and action-packed suspense to keep young adults glued to the pages… I think she has mastered a home run here. This one easily rates a 5 out of 5 stars for me…and I hope it will work its way to the top of the best seller lists for young adults.”
-- Pirate2240 "Kat" Amazon Reviewer

Connect with Deborah

The Clue of the Unclaimed Legacy
by Deborah Heal
The blurb above doesn’t say a lot about it, but Unclaimed Legacy features my heroes Lewis and Clark. I’ve always been fascinated by them, partly because I knew the explorers spent the winter of 1803 at Hartford, Illinois, near where I grew up in Woodburn.
They chose that site for the  camp they called Camp River Dubois, because it was near the mouth of the Missouri River, which they would ascend the next spring. The captains spent the winter laying in supplies and training their men. I decided it would be fun to let Abby “time-surf” back to see Camp River Dubois. . .
Continue reading HERE to get more clues about Unclaimed Legacy.
As the blurb says, sometimes when Abby and John are “time-surfing” they learn more than they want to know about people from the past--like Bertram White a violent husband. Read my companion article about him HERE.
Read a free chapter of Unclaimed Legacy  HERE)
Now, enter the contest to get your Kindle copy of Unclaimed Legacy for 99 cents and a chance to win the complete trilogy in paperback, personally signed by the author. Oh, and a mug.


Sep 2, 2013

My August

August was a busy writing month for me.

Not only did I participate in our local Writer's Cafe for the first time, but I had a lot of extra things due for my Christian Writers Guild Craftsman Residency coming up in October. Among those extras were an elevator pitch, two minute informal introduction of myself, a 500 word synopsis of my current Work In Progress (WIP), and the first chapter of my WIP. I received a lot of great feedback from my writing mentor about these components, but her response to my elevator pitch made my day.
"In two words: LOVE IT!"
I'm still floating on a cloud because of that comment.

Let's take a closer look at how I did this month.

August Goals:

More August Blessings:

September Goals:
  • 100 WIP pages edited
  • 4 books read and reviewed
  • 1 Craftsman course lesson submitted
  • 2 FaithWriters challenges entered

Aug 30, 2013

3 Ways Losing 50 Pounds Helps Make Me a Better Writer

I am obese.

The perky little voice on My Wii Fit reminds me of that fact every morning, despite losing 50 pounds.

Yes, you read that right. I've lost 50 pounds.

So far, on my weight loss journey, I've learned several principles that have helped me become a better writer. I want to share a few of them with you today.

Want it Bad Enough

Losing 50 pounds, like writing a novel, doesn't happen over night. You have to want it bad enough to do the work to make it a reality. That moment arrived for me when I tried to put on my biggest skirt and it didn't fit. I was shocked when I stepped on the scale. I had never been this big and I knew I had to do something to get my life back on track. To get down to my ideal weight I needed to lose 100 pounds. I could have sunk into despair and comforted myself with food, but instead I set out a realistic goal on how I was going to overcome this challenge. I finally wanted to lose weight bad enough that I was willing to do the work.

Writing a novel is work. A lot of work. You can talk about doing it someday, but until you reach the point that you're willing to sit down and commit for the long haul, you're not ready to write that novel. You have to want it bad enough, or it isn't going to happen.

Set Realistic Goals

I've tried to lose weight before, but always fell off the wagon days or weeks after starting. Why? Because I set unrealistic goals. I thought I could go from sitting all day to running. Physically, my body couldn't handle the transition. In depression caused by my inability, I'd eat a box of cheesy crackers and hide from my need to lose weight.

This time, however, I started small. I changed my diet. For two weeks, I got used to eating six small meals a day. Then I added in a daily walk. As the weeks progressed, my daily walk turned into a 10,000 steps daily goal. I slowly adjusted my expectations to match my level of ability.

With writing a novel, you can't expect to go from not writing a word to writing for hours straight. Set a realistic goal according to your unique situation. Tailor that goal gradually as you see how things are working for you. Setting a goal is important to put feet to your dream, just make sure that your goal is measurable and achievable - whether a certain amount of time or a set word count. Just be realistic about what you can do.

Focus on the Moment

My goal is to lose 100 pounds. When I think about that huge number, I am tempted to run to the store and buy a box of cheesy crackers. 100 pounds sounds impossible. Though I acknowledge my big goal, that is not what I think about day to day. Instead I concentrate on something easier to manage, this moment. Right now. I determine that I am not going to eat cheesy crackers, but have my chicken and grapefruit. I decide to go on a walk instead of sitting on the couch checking Facebook. By doing what I should in the moment, I am able to work toward my goal without being overwhelmed.

One of the best things about focusing on the moment is that each moment is new. If I messed up a moment ago, that doesn't mean my whole day is ruined. I can chose to do what I need to do in the moment I am in right now.

Writing a novel can be overwhelming, but if you focus on the moment it helps. You have to decide that you are going to sit in the chair and write. You have to chose to wrestle with the words, talk to the characters, and embrace your calling. But you have to do it in the moment. Don't get scared by the big picture. Just write that word, that sentence, that paragraph. Soon, by doing what you should in the moment, you will be reaching your goal.

What are you doing to make your dreams a reality?


Can losing weight help you become a better writer?

3 principles to become a better novelist.

How is losing 50 pounds and writing a novel similar?

Aug 17, 2013

Writer's Cafe: The Coffin of Freedom video

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to read some of my flash fiction pieces to a small audience at our local library. This was my first time reading for the group, and I would love to do so again at the next Writer's Cafe night.

For fun, I took a video of me reading one of the pieces that I read that night. I hope you enjoy The Coffin of Freedom.

Aug 14, 2013

Dreaded Synopsis

I remember the first time I heard the word Synopsis. Though I didn't really understand the concepts involved, I knew it was to be dreaded just by the tone that others used to describe it.

I got my first experience with synopsis writing while working on my Christian Writers Guild Craftsman course. I found the exercise challenging. How does one turn a 80,000+ word novel into a 500 word synopsis? I learned a lot from the process.

graphic credit: http://graemeshimmin.com/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis/

Writing a Synopsis is a lot of work

This point goes without saying. Anytime you have to condense a novel length plot into a single spaced page, there is going to be work involved. I spent hours going through brain gymnastics deciding which plot points to mention and which to leave out. At the end of the process, I was mentally exhausted.

Writing a Synopsis is not as scary as I thought

Fear best described my emotional state as I prepared to write my first synopsis. However, with a deadline approaching, I had to put my fear aside and concentrate on the task I had been given. After several hours into the project, I realized that a synopsis is just storytelling in a different form. It was still my novel broken down into a much smaller space. And with that realization the fear dissipated.

Writing a Synopsis is worth the effort

While writing my synopsis, I learned how to write tight and focus on what is important. I had to chose vocabulary that best described the situation without using too much space. By condensing my novel down into 500 words, the theme became more apparent. Synopsis writing is still hard work, but it really is worth the effort.

After going through the process once I can see why so many writers dread writing the synopsis, but I don't fear it any longer. As a matter of fact, I'm planning on writing a synopsis just for the exercise. Rhonda at Ritty's Writing Challenge has a synopsis challenge going on right now based on an antique photo. If you are an aspiring author why don't you try your hand at synopsis writing and possibly win a prize. What do you have to lose?

Have you ever written a synopsis? What was your experience?

Aug 1, 2013

My July

As far as my writing goals go, July was a bust.

I knew that July would be difficult to get much writing done since I was away from my desk for three weeks, but I didn't plan on it being so hard to get back into the routine when I returned.

Still, July was an amazing month from other points of view. My husband and I spent ten wonderful days in Scotland. The first several days of our trip were spent travelling through the highlands of Scotland, including a trip to Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye.

Eilean Donan Castle

The rest of our time in Scotland was spent in Edinburgh. I loved exploring the city while my husband went to his conference every day. I made sure to visit the Writers Museum.

My husband and I enjoyed our time so much, we're already talking about what we want to do next time we visit. However, this post isn't supposed to be about my trip, it is supposed to be about my July goals. So, here they are.

July Goals:
  • 3 WIP chapters revised - incomplete
  • 3 books read and reviewed - completed
  • 1 Craftsman course lesson submitted - completed
  • 1 FaithWriters challenge entered - incomplete

Extra July Blessings:
  • First chapter of my WIP turned in to my Writing Mentor
  • 43 new Facebook Author Page likes - 192 total - THANK YOU!
  • 7 pounds lost - total loss of 43 lbs

New August Goals:
  • 3 WIP chapters revised
  • 2 books read and reviewed
  • 1 Craftsman course lesson submitted
  • 2 FaithWriters challenge entered