Monday, October 28, 2013

To Say No When Asked to Promote Others' Books

He’s a nice guy – one of my co-worker for several years. I really like him. In fact he’d tell people, “She’s my mama,” which caused some mouths to drop open because I’m a pale whitey, and his skin is definitely the opposite. He’s the first one who took me to eat at Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles – he and another co-worker.

As is often the case, we lose track of people over the years. He quit, I stayed, but we reconnected on Facebook a couple of years ago. I noticed he’d married again – for the third or fourth time. He had children with his first two marriages. I’m not sure of any others. I do know, by his own admission, that his marriages failed because of his infidelity and drug abuse. It was ironic, since we worked together at a Christian drug and alcohol rehab.

He found me on Facebook. Then about a year ago, he asked me about my writing career, and how I went about getting a book published. “I’m writing a book. Well, my wife and I are writing the book.” Through his posts, I found out the book is about having a successful marriage – “ Do the opposite of what I did,” is part of the cover blurb.

I scratched my head. Well, okay, I think, but because of what I personally know, I wouldn’t buy his book. BUT….then he begins to ask me to help promote his book, which came out a week or so ago. I frequently share other writers/authors books and blogs on Facebook, people whose work I trust and admire. “I need you to Share Share Share on Facebook and help me get the word out,” he posted on my wall on Facebook.

Ugh! I resent this kind of presumptive pressure. In good conscience, I can’t promote his book. Okay, I vented. I feel better. To all my fellow writers and authors, it’s okay, and a necessary part of the process, to ask friends and acquaintances to help with your promotion, but don’t pressure anyone.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Novels That Stir Emotions

I love to watch movies, either on television, on DVD, or at the theater. I especially like anything based on actual events. But, more than watching a movie, I love to read. Some books and their characters linger on in m y heart and mind after I’ve read the last page.

I’ve read two books recently that had that emotional tug on me. One I’ve finished, “Beneath a Southern Sky,” by Deborah Raney. This book addressed an issue I haven’t seen before – a young woman and her husband are missionaries and she gets word that her husband has been killed in a remote village upriver. She returns to her family in America, after discovering she’s pregnant. She eventually meets a widower, falls in love and they marry, only to find out 3 years later her first husband is alive. Now what does a young woman do who’s married to two men, has a daughter by the first husband, and is pregnant by the second?

I cried at the end of that book and highly recommend it -- reading it, that is, and you'll probably cry also.

I’m currently reading “One Tuesday Morning” by Karen Kingsbury, a story of two men, Jake and Eric, and their families. Both men are inside one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 when it collapses.

I’m not even halfway through this book and have already cried. In fact, I was so moved I had trouble falling asleep last night. It’s the scene where Jake, a NYC firefighter, is with his crew on the 61st floor, and they realize they’re not going to make it out. Over the chaotic noise and devastation, he leads everyone in the sinner’s prayer. Then he’s falling, falling, falling as the building collapses.

I know from the back cover blurb that only one of the two men, Jake or Eric, make it out alive. Of course, Jake is the more likable character so I’m hoping it’s him, although both have unfinished business with their families.

I want to write novels that stirs people and causes them to reflect on life and themselves. Mostly I want to show God’s love for a humanity who’s lost and hurting, that in our crazy, mixed up world, He still reigns!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Old West is Alive in Arizona

I am not a big fan of western/cowboy novels, although I am a fan of the Old West. I’ve lived in Arizona for my entire life – I better love it, or find another place to live. I enjoy visiting some of the old west towns in Arizona, and there are some unusual names for towns in Arizona: Tombstone (one of my favorites), Carefree (although I’m sure it has as much stress as any town), Skull Valley, Show Low, Littletown are just a few.

I love doing research in some of these places, although I’m positive I’ll never write the kind of novel where it’s needed. My friend, Jan Christiansen, and I visited the cowboy museum in Wickenburg, AZ, and I loved it. I took so many pictures.

But, by far, my favorite is Tombstone. It claims to be the most famous town in the old west. It’s where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and others had the famous fight at the OK Corral.

Boot Hill, the cemetery where many of these legendary cowboys are buried, is an awesome place to tour in Tombstone. Some of the epitaphs on tombstones are so bizarre, you can’t make this stuff up. So if you’re ever in Arizona and love westerns or write about the old west, Tombstone, Wickenburg, and Jerome (a ghost town) are rich with cowboy history. Tombstone even reenacts an actual gunfight in the street.

From actual tombstones:

Chas. Helm. Shot 1882. Shot by Wm. McCauley. Two hot-tempered ranchers who disagreed over the best way to drive cattle, fast or slow.
James Hickey. 1881, shot by Wm Clayborne. He was shot in the left temple by Clayborne for his over-insistence that they drink together.
Margarita. Stabbed by Gold Dollar. Two dance hall girls quarreling over a man, and Gold Dollar won.
J.D. McDermott. Killed, 1882. His spinal column was fractured when his horse fell with him while crossing the San Pedro River.
John Martin. Killed, 1882. He was killed while working on the Huachuca water line. A tested pipe was unplugged and a blast of water hurled a jack against his chest. He was a native of England.
Freddie Fuss. 1882. A small boy who died from drinking stagnant or poison mine water.
John Gibson. 1881. Gibson, a driver for Nadeau’s ore teams, fell from a wagon and his skull was crushed when a wheel of the heavy wagon ran over his head.
M.E. Kellogg. 1882. Died a natural death.
Geo. Johnson. Hanged by mistake. Johnson innocently bought a stolen horse and suffered the consequences. “Here lies George Johnson, Hanged by mistake, 1882. He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.”
Alfred Packrel. 1882. English. He was a young miner, aged 24, who died from inflammation of the bowels.

Kansas Kid. A cowboy killed in a stampede. 
Thos. Fitzhugh. 1882. He was found dead one morning in the water closet back of Mrs. King’s lodging house on Toughnut Street, where he roomed.
3-Fingered Jack Dunlap. Shot by Jeff Milton. Dunlap, one of a band of train robbers, attempted to rob an express car which Milton guarded. He was critically wounded and his friends left him to die. He was found and brought to Tombstone, where he lived long enough to inform on his friends. 
Killeen. Shot by Frank Leslie, 1880. Results of a disagreement over Killeen’s wife. Leslie married the widow.
John Wickstrum. 1882. A Swede who was killed when a well he was digging caved in.
Johnnie Blair. Died of smallpox and a cowboy threw a rope over his feet and dragged him to his grave.
Hancock. Shot, 1879. Shot by John Ringo when he made a disparaging remark about some women.
Johnnie Wilson. Shot by King. Two gunmen’s discussion of the fastest way to draw ended here.
Two Chinese. Died of leprosy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Favorite Authors

I recently read Ginny Yttrup’s book Words, her debut novel.  I’ve been anxious to read it since I heard literary agent, Steve Laube, share the first page at a mini writers’ conference in January of this year. His description of that first page was, “Brilliant.”

I love her writing style, but that wasn’t what I loved the most about her book. I had no idea until I finished it that it was the author’s story. Real life stories that happened to real live people are my favorites. If you're not squeamish about the harsh realities of life, at the cruel and unjust suffering of others, then I definitely recommend Ginny Yttrup's book.

When I think of favorite authors, I don’t have any one author that stands out above the rest. I read different genres, but I try to mostly read Christian or wholesome fiction. The world is polluted enough without choosing to pollute my mind more with my reading material.

Every Tuesday a group of four meet for a couple of hours at Crossroads Books & Coffee. It’s like a Christian coffee shop connected to a bookstore. The bookstore has a used book section, and I always search for books by Francine Rivers, Ted Dekker, Karen Kingsbury, and a few others.

Someday I hope and pray I am someone’s favorite author. Or at least on someone’s list of favorite authors.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

If Patience Is a Virtue

If patience is a virtue, call me a scarlet woman. We live in an instant society. We murmur if we get in the express lane at the store and see – because we count – that the person ahead of us has 16 items in their cart when the sign clearly states 15 items or less. We tap our foot impatiently when the sweet little grandma ahead of us has trouble counting out the exact change for a purchase. We complain if our waiter or waitress doesn’t have our food on the table fast enough. We drum our fingers on the counter waiting for the microwave to heat up our coffee or food.

Encyclopedias and resource books have been replaced because with a tap of our finger, the internet instantly provides all the information we may need. Reading a book or resource material, or going to the library takes time.

I’ve often heard preachers say that the quickest way to have your patience tested is to pray for patience. Being just a tad impatient (well, more than a tad, but that’s all I’m confessing), I heeded that advice. Yet, somehow my patience gets tested on a regular basis. It didn’t take me long to realize that pursuing a dream to become a writer requires lots of patience.

Writing doesn’t necessarily require patience. Getting published, waiting to hear back from agents, publishers, editors, writing contests, and the like, all require patience. If you’re not a patient person, be prepared.

Proverbs 15:18   A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (NIV)

James 1:3-5 (NIV) because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.