Saturday, September 29, 2007

Guest Blogger, Marylu Tyndall

Today it's my great pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Marylu Tyndall, as The Writer's Tool guest blogger. I first heard about her a little over two years ago, as she will explain below. And then I finally got to meet Marylu at the 2006 ICRS (International Christian Retailers Show) here in Denver. In my opinion, Marylu is the expert on pirates! Read on to see why, and if you haven't read her books in this series, you are missing out on a treat!

First of all, I want to thank Margie for having me on her blog!! Many of you don’t know this but Margie was hired by my agent, Greg Johnson, to read my first manuscript, The Redemption, in order to determine whether he would take me on as a client or not. She gave it a thumbs up. He accepted me and two months later I had a contract. So, I feel I owe a great debt to Margie.

Thank you so much, Margie!
[Margie here: It has been my pleasure to have had a part in your writing :). Thank you for being with us today.]

How to turn a villain into a hero

In The Restitution, the third book in The Legacy of the King’s Pirate’s series, the hero in the story, Captain Kent Carlton, played the wicked villain in the first two books. When many of my readers discovered this, they were hesitant to read the last book, unsure of whether they could actually root for a man they had come to hate. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure myself how I was going to pull it off. LOL. But the feedback I am getting so far indicates that by the grace of God, I somehow did. Now, I am asked by other writers how I went about this phenomenal feat, so after pondering that question, I came up with the following, which I’m sure you could apply to most any character.

1. Invoke the reader’s sympathy for the character. Best done by having something happen to him that we can all relate to in some way. In Kent’s case, he fell in love, and his love was not returned. Which of us cannot relate to that?

2. Create an event or events in which a major injustice is done to him—not that he doesn’t deserve it, but something that appeals to the reader’s sense of fairness and makes us root for him just a little. In Kent’s case, his half-brother, whom Kent has bailed out of all sorts of trouble, now conspires to kidnap Kent’s only son and steal his ship.

3. Show the change in him very slowly. In other words, don’t have him all of a sudden saving someone’s life at the risk of his own, but have him saying something nice that goes against his character, performing some small selfless act, and then build on that with bigger and better acts of kindness throughout the whole story.

4. Reveal a believable reason for his change. Normally there are only two events that will actually change a person’s heart: God, and some great emotional tragedy. Or in this case, a combination of both. In the prior books and in this one, Kent witnesses God’s love and power in the people around him. He begins to read the Bible. That and his newfound love for the heroine, Isabel, and then the kidnapping of his son cause his heart to begin to change.

5. Have him struggle with his old tendencies, slip up a few times, make mistakes and learn from them throughout the story. No one changes overnight. And which of us cannot relate to making a mess of things now and then?

6. As he changes, show his deep regret over past deeds and the sorrow and self-hatred that results. Have him come to a point where he humbles himself and repents.

7. Have one bad thing after another happen to him that serve to test his new character. Make his situation worse and worse as the story continues and have him teeter on giving up and returning to his old ways, but at the last moment, have him break through and commit some act of ultimate selflessness.

If you have made it this far, I hope my thoughts will help you in your writing.
God Bless,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Remembered by Tamera Alexander

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book 3)

(Bethany House, 2007)



Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Alexander’s books have won multiple awards, including Romance Writers of America’s 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006.

Her books have received acclaim from Library Journal, True West Magazine and Historical Novels Review, and Rekindled debuted on the CBA fiction bestseller list. She has a professional background in business management and conference coordination. A leader of women's ministries for over twelve years, she is currently active in music ministry, facilitating small groups, and mentoring other women. A graduate of Harding University, Tamera lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Greeley, Colorado.

Her other two books in the Fountain Creek Chronicles are Rekindled (Book 1) and Revealed (Book 2)

To celebrate the release of Remembered, as well as the 3-volume boxed set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered), Tamera is currently giving away boxed sets in a contest on her website. Check out the contest at .

From a Distance, the first book in Tamera’s next historical series (Timber Ridge Reflections) releases in spring 2008.


Though loss is often marked
in a single moment,
letting go of someone you love
can take a lifetime...

The threat of war--and a final request--send Véronique Girard from France to a distant and uninviting country. In the Colorado Territory, she searches for the man who has held her heart since childhood--her father. Pierre Girard left Paris for the Americas to seek his fortune in fur trading, vowing to send for his wife and daughter. But twenty-five years have passed and his vow remains unfulfilled. Sifting through shards of broken promises, Véronique embarks on a dangerous search for a man she scarcely remembers.

His grief finally healed, Jack Brennan is moving on with life. After years of guiding families west, he is now working as a freighter to the mining towns surrounding Willow Springs. What he doesn't count on is an unexpected traveling companion on his trips up into the mountains, and how one woman's search will cause havoc with his plans... and his life.

"Alexander again delivers a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people. Though there are French words sprinkled throughout the story, they enhance the emotions rather than distract the reader." --Romantic Times

"...a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre." --Library Journal

"Alexander has done it again with Remembered, third in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES. She's fashioned characters that are as rich and deep as the mountains and valleys they explore throughout the pages, coloring the story as adeptly as the heroine does her canvas. I was drawn immediately into the ages-old heartaches of both of the main characters, understanding at once Veronique's reticence to make a place for herself in the unknown wilds of America and Jack's uncompromising love for this land that he’s cut a swath through time and again. They both have a series of mountains to overcome in the search for Veronique’s father, but I enjoyed watching their faith and appreciation grow with each turn of the page. And woven adeptly through it all is the encompassing truth of the Lord's sovereignty—that sometimes He takes away, and sometimes He gives us what we need, not what we're looking for.

Anyone's who's read the other Fountain Creek books won't want to miss this one, but it easily stands alone. The characters will take you by the hand and lead you heart-first into their stories, and by the time they release you at the end, you'll feel as though you've taken up residence just across the Creek from them, as surely as they have in your heart." --Roseanna White,

"Remembered, the third book in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES, takes us back to Willow Creek and revisits beloved characters from the previous two books in the series, Rekindled and Revealed. Tamera Alexander has the remarkable ability to create places, and characters who endear themselves to us, even those just briefly mentioned. If I had lived in the late 1800s, I would love to have met these people and would surely have been inspired by the way they lived out their faith.
Remembered is a delightful read, well-researched and well-written. I expect to see great things from this author in the future." --Lindsey Freitas,

"Remembered is an absolutely wonderful continuation of the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES." --Amanda Schafer,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Avon Inspire (October 1, 2007)


Lyn Cote's journey to becoming a published author was a long one - she started her first book when her daughter was 13 months old and her first novel was published when her daughter was about to enter high school. But Lyn was writing for a market that hadn't taken shape yet - the inspirational fiction market.

In 1996, Lyn Cote's first inspirational historical manuscript was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Contest. This became her first historical novel, Whispers Of Love, in her BLESSED ASSURANCE series.

Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn's "Women of Ivy Manor" historical series was a 2006 RWA Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational, as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National REaders Choice Contest.

Lyn also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in the lovely northwoods of Wisconsin with her husband and three cats. Aside from writing, she also likes to knit, crochet, read, and do lunch with friends.


Now available for the first time in one edition--All three novels from Lyn Cote's beloved Blessed Assurance series

In Whispers of Love, Civil War widow Jessie Wagstaff must fend for herself and her son. When a stranger, Lee Smith, befriends Jessie's son, even though she recognizes nine-year-old Linc's need for a father figure, she's reluctant to let a new man into their life. When the Great Chicago Fire blazes, every heart is pushed to its limits.

In Lost In His Love, Jessie's son Linc, a social activist and reporter, charms his way through the upper class of San Francisco to build much-needed support for his fight against child labor. His main target is Cecilia Jackson, a beautiful heiress who doesn't recognize the crucial part she plays in this dangerous exploitation. As the secrets of her family's dark past are exposed, Cecilia must revive her own wounded spirit and find the strength to lean on the never-failing love of Christ. But when the 1906 earthquake hits, everyone's faith will be put to the test.

In Echoes of Mercy, Meg Wagstaff challenges the racial barriers of 1920s New Orleans in order to prove that her childhood friend did not commit murder. The stubborn lawyer prosecuting the case, Gabriel St. Clair, is an authentic Southern gentleman who makes the mistake of underestimating Meg, both her tenacity and her charm. Despite their many differences, sparks begin to fly. But when Meg discovers the truth, will Gabe be able to protect her from those who can't afford to have justice prevail?

"A beautiful tale of love, forgiveness, and acceptance."
~CBA Marketplace

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Ex Files by Victoria Christopher Murray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Ex Files
(Touchstone June 19, 2007)


Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking quite an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, New York, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating from Hampton, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she decided to test her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published Temptation. “I wanted to write a book as entertaining and compelling as any of the books on the market, put God in the middle, and have the book still be a page-turner. I wasn’t writing to any particular genre – I didn’t even know Christian fiction existed. I just wanted to write about people I knew and characters I could relate to.”

In 2000, Time Warner published Temptation. Temptation made numerous best sellers list across the nation and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written four other novels: JOY, Truth Be Told, Grown Folks Business, and A Sin and a Shame. All of her novels have continued to be Essence bestsellers; her last three each reaching #1. In addition, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and in 2006, she was awarded the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being the pioneer in African American Christian Fiction.


The Ex Files:

A Novel About Four Women and Faith...

There are four ways a woman can handle heartbreak. She can fall apart, seek revenge, turn cold, or move on. The Ex Files is the story of these four women:

When Kendall Stewart finds her husband and her sister in bed together, she vows to never let anyone get that close again. But when she is faced with saving the life of the woman who destroyed hers, will she be able to forgive?

When an NBA superstar tells his mistress, Asia Ingrum, that he's decided to honor his marriage vows, her shock quickly gives way to revenge...but her decision may come back to haunt their five-year-old daughter.

Every night Vanessa Martin wonders why her husband committed suicide. Even worse, she contemplates joining him in eternity. Will Vanessa be able to gather the strength to live again?

Sheridan Hart is finally finding her way after a lie destroyed her seventeen-year marriage. Her new love is ready to get married, but will she commit to this younger man or is her ex-husband taking up too much space in her heart?

When their pastor asks Kendall, Asia, Vanessa, and Sheridan to meet weekly for prayer, they can't imagine they will have anything in common. But then a devastating tragedy strikes and these strangers are forced to reexamine their choices. Will they find true friendship, or will prayer -- and their union -- fail them?

Monday, September 17, 2007

ACFW Conference This Week

The annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference is this week in Dallas. I leave Wednesday in order to take the Thursday early bird session on strengthening characters emotions. Margie Lawson is our teacher, and I'm really looking forward to taking another class under her. My first experience with her teaching was in January 2006.

So because I still have at least one proofreading deadline to meet (I actually have several, but . . .) and I need to finish revising a couple of chapters on my wip (work in progress), I'll not be posting anymore this week. See you next week with a report on the conference and a blog tour date with MaryLu Tyndall and her latest Christian pirate book.

Have a good week! If you're attending the conference this week, please be sure to introduce yourself to me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Montana Mistletoe Blog Tour

Today, I’m privileged to introduce a Christmas anthology called Montana Mistletoe. What makes this a special read for me is that one of the authors, Kim Vogel Sawyer, is one of my critique partners, and I got to critique her novella, All I Want for Christmas. . .Is You.

Tell us a bit about the collection, Montana Mistletoe.

LISA: This is a fun collection that centers around the quaint town of Mistletoe, Montana, a town that celebrates Christmas year round. The only problem is the town is beginning to lose its Christmas spirit. Add to that, four girlfriends make a New Year’s pact to find themselves true love by time they turn twenty-eight, and end up discovering that love often comes in very surprising ways. . .and not always with whom you were expecting.

Give us a brief blurb about your story.
LENA: Lori Compton is the youngest mayor ever elected in the year around Christmas town, Mistletoe, Montana. She plans a turnaround in the local sagging economy by finding ways to bring more tourists to Mistletoe. The only possible suitor she can find is the single pastor of Living Word Chapel, but deep in her heart, she wants real love, not just a convenient answer to the Mistletoe Pact.
DEBBY: When Deanna’s high school sweetheart Anthony returns to Mistletoe, in Return to Mistletoe, she’s not prepared for her own reaction. Fighting the urge to fall in love with him again, she works hard at adding sparks to a relationship with someone else. Anthony continues to show up at the most unexpected times—not only to see Deanna but to help the town he’s loved since childhood.

LISA: When Madison Graham leaves the quant town of Mistletoe, Colorado for New York City to buy products for her year-round Christmas store, Under the Mistletoe, she’s positive she’s met her man. Albert Kendall is everything she’s ever dreamed of. Successful, good looking, and well off. But is worldly success really what she’s looking for in a man, or have the bright lights of the city blinded her so that she’s forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

KIM: In All I want for Christmas. . .Is You, Kathy Morgan has gotten caught up in the corporate world of writing advertising jingles at a San Francisco advertising company--a far cry from the simple world of Mistletoe. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected bonus gives her the opportunity to return to Mistletoe for a trip down "Memory Lane" where she can consider the marriage proposal of long-time co-worker Chad. But postman Erik Hoffman becomes a distraction that makes her wonder if she needs to evaluate more than Chad's proposal...perhaps more than romantic love, she needs the love of Jesus in her life.

Any advice in working together as a team/preparing a novella proposal?

LENA: Together is the operative word. Everyone’s story is equally important. I write the best story I can to help strengthen the finished product, and I encourage the other authors in their stories, too.

KIM: This was my first novella experience, and I really enjoyed it! Sharing ideas with four other writers takes things in directions beyond your own imagination, and you have fellowship and feedback while you're writing. The challenge is getting the stories to "mesh"--making sure they lead into one another with everyone's story balancing the others. But it was great fun working out the "kinks."

What was your favorite part of the collection?

LISA: I loved the fact that this collection has a Christmas theme. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, and while I loved adding details like eggnog, decorations, and mistletoe to the storyline, the reminder of what Christmas is really all about was the most meaningful.

A peek into the fictional town of Mistletoe

One of the fun things about writing a collection is developing a fictional town. This collection is set in Mistletoe, Montana and comes complete with a town square, a clock tower, and Flossie’s awesome apple fritters.

*Flossie's has an ice cream/soda bar in addition to homemade goodies. Located on Main Street, facing the park, it's especially known for its awesome apple fritters.

*Mrs. Flanagan’s runs the Bed-and-Breakfast, a two-story Queen Anne house that’s located two blocks off Main Street.

*If you’re looking for Christian fellowship, the Living Word Chapel is right on the town square.

*Under the Mistletoe sells Christmas ornaments year round, including popular handmade train sets.

If you want to learn more about the authors of Montana Mistletoe, check out Debby Mayne’s blog on September 24th at

Winners! Winners! Winners!

Want a chance to win a FREE copy of the book and a $30 gift certificate to For more information, visit our official Montana, Mistletoe blog at by October 1st!

If you’ve missed any part of the interview, here is the tour schedule:

August 26th - Lena Nelson Dooley

September 3rd - Jackie Castle

September 5th - Ronie Kendig

September 7th - Lisa Harris

September 10th - Lynette Sowell

September 12th - Cecelia Dowdy

September 14th - Marjorie Vawter

September 24th - Debby Mayne

September 26th - Rhonda Gibson

September 28th - Beth Goddard

October 1st - Draw winners!

Thank you, Lena, Lisa, Debbie, and Kim, for joining me today on my blog.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Life, Libby, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Hope Lyda

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Harvest House Publishers March 1, 2007)



Hope Lyda has always wanted to write. Ever since she was a young tyke with a spiral notebook in hand, she had the urge to fill it. Sadly, Peggy Meets the Midgets did not cause Hope to be deemed a child prodigy, so she continued her path of education. She was grade-obsessed but also truly enjoyed sharing laughs with her circle of creative friends.

Hope attended the University of Oregon and graduated with a double major in Journalism: Advertising and Telecommunications and Film. With aspirations to write screenplays or teleplays, she of course ended up doing public relations for non-profits until she entered the publishing field in which she has worked for 10 years.

Her passions are quiet ones—she loves a good read, an afternoon of free thinking time, writing, journaling, road trips, travel, and pondering life from her back yard pergola. She loiters in bookstores frequently, though has never been arrested for such. Her big hope is to encourage others to embrace their dreams and understand their faith journeys through the practice of journaling and the art of creative living. She hopes to also inspire such things through the themes in her fiction including Hip to Be Square and Altar Call. (There are also visions of a nice Casita with a hammock in Mexico—but one thing at a time.)

When not living in her head, she resides with her husband, Marc, in the Pacific Northwest.


Libby Hawthorne makes exotic trip itineraries but never leaves Seattle. She’d like to attend church but winds up at a bookstore. She longs for love—but who has the time? Delayed happiness has been worth it, because she’s about to get her dream promotion...

Or not.

So now what?

When a corporate merger leaves her demoted and disillusioned, Libby realizes she needs to start living authentically...and soon. But just as she tries to uncover her purposed life, her cruel and unusual boss, Cecilia, demands that Libby hide Seattle’s most famous homegrown rock star in order to keep her new, bad job. For the first time in years, Libby doesn’t have a step by step plan to guide her. She must trust her faith and her heart. But what is she supposed to do with her growing admiration for Blaine Slater, a new VP from Chicago, or the surprising kindness of the rock star living incognito in her Seattle apartment? Through the humorous twist and turns, Libby uncovers a big life truth—the detours we are afraid of might just be the perfect path to happiness.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Overcoming Fear of Failure

Saturday, my October issue of The Writer landed in my mailbox. I glanced through the articles and the Breakthrough column caught my attention: “Children’s Book Author Overcame Fear of Failure.” Since this is a fear that slows me down often, I thought I’d read it to see if there was anything of value for me.

It seems that this author always had the dream to write but because she was afraid of failing, she never started writing . . . until her father died. She says, “Amid my grief there was a thought I couldn’t shake: If I died tomorrow, my biggest regret would be never trying to become a writer.”

Her statement got me to thinking. If I died tomorrow, what would be my biggest regret? Not having a book published wasn’t the first thing that popped into my mind. Maybe because of my biblical worldview. Instead the only way I could put it into words when I was discussing this thought last night with my husband was to recall the words from an old hymn: “Have I Done My Best for Jesus?”

I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calv’ry!
I know my Lord expects the best from me.

The hours that I have wasted are no many,
The hours I’ve spent for Christ so few;
Because of all my lack of love for Jesus,
I wonder if His heart is breaking too.

I wonder, have I cared enough for others,
Or have I let them die alone?
I might have helped a wand’rer to the Savior,
The seed of precious Life I might have sown.

No longer will I stay within the valley—
I’ll climb to mountain heights above;
The world is dying now for want of someone
To tell them of the Savior’s matchless love.

How many are the lost that I have lifted?
How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?
I wonder have I done my best for Jesus,
When He has done so much for me?

The thought of disappointing my Savior and not hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” is the thing that keeps me fighting the fear of failure—in every area of my life, not just writing. Because He has called me to be obedient, surrendered totally, to His purpose and plan for me. And that includes so much more than writing and editing.

I believe He has tasked me with this method of getting His message of salvation and love to a world that is seeking for meaning in life. And my fear of failing the God who loves me so much to sacrifice His Son for my sin is stronger than my desire to have a book published. I will continue to live my life in a way that brings glory to Him, whether I write, teach, or edit, whether I am ever published or not.

Psalm 116:12 says, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?” Therein lies the key to overcoming the fear of failure.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sushi for One?

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sushi for One?
(Zondervan, September 1, 2007)




Camy Tang is a member of CFBA and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

To celebrate the launch of her debut novel, she's got a huge contest going on. Camy is giving away baskets of Christian novels and an iPod Nano! Only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible to enter, so join today.

For more information about the contest, visit her website.

Contest ends October 31, 2007!


Lex Sakai’s family, big, nosy, and marriage-minded, is ruled by a crafty grandmother. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the OLDEST SINGLE COUSIN in the clan, a loathed position by all single female family members.

Lex has not dated for years.

Grandma homes in on this fact and demands, bribes, and threatens Lex to bring a boyfriend (not just a date) to her cousin’s wedding.

Lex does not want to date ... not since that terrible incident a few years back ... but, Grandma doesn't give her that choice.

Lex's options are slim because she has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the PERFECT man (and the more she dates, the more she adds to the list).

The one man she keeps running into (and is completely attracted to) doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex loses control and lets God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.