Archive for March, 2010


March Blog Tour: ‘Hearts Awakening’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Can you believe it’s the end of March already? Talk about a month flying by… seems like just last week I was writing up the February tour reviews.

Anyway, this month I have one book and one DVD to share with you! Today we’ll take a look at the book, and next Monday we’ll talk about the DVD.

So… onward!

Hearts Awakening: A Novel – Delia Parr (

Synopsis (from the publisher):

Two people in desperate circumstances.
One unlikely proposal.

Life has left few choices for Elvira Kilmer. Her hopes for marriage and a family of her own have long since passed her by, and her arrival on Dillon’s Island, nestled in the Susquehanna River, is not of her choosing, either. She needs work. And Jackson Smith needs a housekeeper.

Yet Ellie never imagined the widower would be so young… so handsome.

Jackson, on the other hand, has never met anyone quite so… plain. But he quickly comes to realize that Ellie’s presence may solve his own problems–both the rearing of his young boys and the scandal that surrounds his first marriage.

When Jackson offers her something quite out of the ordinary, will Ellie look beyond mere necessity and risk opening her heart?

My Thoughts:

A nice story without much substance.

The plot itself is mediocre and winds its way along without taking any risks or leaps, staying predictable and comfortable. Thus I would say, if you want a book that isn’t going to surprise you and that you can simply follow along for the sake of following a nice story, this one’s for you.

However, that’s also what bothered me. There weren’t any risks. The main character was flawless, despite the “secret” she held (which you can guess in the first 10 pages) — even the cookstove that she struggles with and burns food on isn’t much of a flaw at all, as it’s something external that she has to conquer. The things others see as flaws — she’s too old to ever find a husband, she’s plain-looking — aren’t flaws, they’re external obstacles. Where’s the internal development? Where’s the weak point that helps us regular people connect with the character?

The hero of the story is definitely flawed, but the problem is with his reactionary attitude throughout the novel. I understand why he does it, as the backstory clearly explains, but he doesn’t learn and reacts the same way every time. Yes, I get that he’s stubborn, but it would help to have a little more dialogue to flesh out the reactions rather than the basic “extreme action + consequence + revelation that he’s in the wrong” every single time.

Finally, the love angle. Oh, how this bothered me to no end. In a story like this, you know that the couple is going to fall in love by the end of the book, it’s no secret. You read these books for the journey, not for the end result, and that’s where the charm lies — or is supposed to. I kept waiting for hints on both sides, things that would make me believe that they were truly falling for each other, but I was disappointed and felt slightly cheated… because in the end, we’re told that they’ve fallen for each other, rather than truly and honestly shown. Personally, I thought the heroine’s side of the story was the most cheated of the two, as we learn in one sentence that she’s developed feelings for him, rather than having the reader follow the development of those feelings from the get-go.

In Conclusion…

Like I said at the beginning of the review, if you want a comfortable read, this is the kind of book to go to. It does exactly what you expect (in fact, my husband read the back cover copy, smiled, and proceeded to ‘predict’ the plot… which he got exactly right), and in that respect it does what it promises the reader it will do. So that’s a good thing!

I only wish that there had been some more risks taken within the story (and character development!), and that the love story follow-through hadn’t been rushed — a bit better pacing in that area would have made this a more well-rounded book.

I’d say this is another one for church libraries — many women borrow from their church libraries looking for “comfort reads”, so I believe it would find a wide audience there.

Want to try it out for yourself? Read an excerpt from the novel HERE.

Available now at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House,

a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Monday Encouragement

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

If you haven’t visited agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog lately, you’re missing out! She writes quality posts with helpful information, both for unagented and agented writers.

Her most recent post is something that I bet we all need to hear once in awhile, and especially on a gloomy Monday morning: Success stories of writers whose perseverance finally paid off.

The post, “Perseverance Really is Key”, is found HERE.

Head over, read it, and have a Monday Smile (which for me are far and few between!).

So… keep writing.

We can do this!


Contests & Celebration Day!

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

It’s contest day… there are a PILE of contests out there just begging to be entered whether you’re a writer or a reader!

Contest #1: Beth Revis’ Book Deal!

Author Beth Revis has just received a book deal, and is running a very cool contest to help us all celebrate with her! You can enter the contest HERE.

To make things even more interesting, she’s posted two different prize packages, one for writers and one for readers. Your choice which one you want to enter for! Head on over and celebrate! Maybe you’ll be inspired to work even harder on your own novel. :)

Contest #2: Book-Lover Carol

Enter Carol’s contest HERE! It’s open to anyone and there are LOTS of books up for grabs! This is best if you’re a YA reader, and there are going to be 4 winners total. Open until April 1st, so get on over there and enter!

Contest #3: Fangtastic Books Giveaway

Now, I’m not sure what this book is going to be like, but it sounds pretty interesting. Either way, paranormal fiction is huge right now so you might be interested in entering THIS contest for Shadowglass by Erica Hayes.

There’s a plot synopsis on the contest page, and lots of different ways to get entries in! The author herself wrote the blog post, so it’s worth checking out!


Want to Learn?

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

Who doesn’t want to learn, should perhaps be the question… especially when learning something relevant to your work or craft.

After reading a recent blog comment, I realized that there must be readers out there who simply don’t know where to find these learning opportunities, though they’re interested in being a part of them.

So, I’ve resolved to share with your these great courses and workshops when I find out about them.

Here’s a few upcoming courses in March/April that you might be interested in:

  • March 22nd – April 2nd, 2010: Ancient Falconry

Offered by Hearts Through History Romance Writers (RWA Special Interest Chapter) – Course $20 for non-members

  • March 29th – April 11th, 2010: What a Wicked Web We Weave – A Spider’s Approach to Subplots in Storytelling

Offered by the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter (RWA Special Interest Chapter) - Course $20 for non-members

  • April 5th – 30th, 2010: The Power of GMC: Crafting Compelling Characters and Kick-Butt Stories

Offered by the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers (RWA Special Interest Chapter) – Course $20 for non-members

  • April 5th – 30th, 2010: Prose and Contests – Everything You Wanted to Know About Contests But Were Afraid to Ask

Offered by Black Diamond RWA - Course $25 for non-members

…and I only checked out a few places, and these were all RWA chapters! There are many, many workshops out there, from obscure topics to general ones. You’ll definitely be able to find something you’re interested in.

One more tip? Register early! Some registrations close a week or more before the course starts, and others fill up quickly… so if you’re interested, register right away.

Now go learn something!


Making Choices

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I’m still revising my NaNoNovel from 2007. I’m not giving up! It’s going to get done, because I love the story and really feel strongly that learning how to correctly edit/revise with this novel is teaching me some very valuable skills.

However… I also know that I should be writing something new at the same time.

For just over a month now, I’ve managed to not actually write anything new fiction-wise. It’s frustrating, but I have this wonderful habit called procrastination that I constantly have to be aware of and consciously battle, or else I won’t get anything done. Yes, I’m one of those people who works best with real deadlines.

So, I’ve realized that I need to have a second manuscript nearly done once I start to query this one. I have no illusions about A Work in Progress (yes, that’s the title!) because from what I’ve heard, the genre is pretty much toast right now. It’ll come around again someday, but for now, no one is buying this stuff.

Which means I have a choice to make:

- Write another book in the same genre (I already have one started) and trust that someday, someone will start buying humorous women’s fiction / chick lit again. I just might be waiting awhile.

- Write another book in a different genre (historical fiction, for which I have 2 plots semi-thought out) knowing that I’d enjoy writing it and could see myself continuing to write in the genre, but thus starting from scratch in terms of taking on a new genre

- Write something in MG or YA (again, I have plots for a few books here too) because that’s what’s selling right now

I think I’m suffering from “too many ideas” syndrome. I also think I have a slight fear of being pigeon-holed into one genre… but then I consider that there are plenty of authors who write in multiple genres, and they all had to start somewhere! I guess you work toward being able to write and sell in multiple genres, taking things step-by-step.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Do I stick to writing another novel in what’s been termed a “dead market”, or do I write something else that — although I love the idea and story and am sure to love writing — would mean I’d have to start my area of focus from scratch?

Ah, choices…

What would you do?


Taking Advice

   Posted by: Faith    in Creating Coldcuts

During the month of February, I took a synopsis class from Camy Tang (which I mentioned in a previous blog post). It was very helpful, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to try writing a synopsis yet — or if you don’t know where to start — she’s going to be running the same class sometime in May and I highly recommend it. You’ll get personal feedback and likely a new perspective on your novel that you can’t get from revisions alone.

I know — it happened to me!

One of the assignments in the workshop was a character synopsis, followed by multiple-page synopsis based on our 5-paragraph synopsis we did earlier in the month (the names for which escape me at the moment). After completing both of these, I submitted them for feedback and felt fairly confident about what areas I’d be told were weak. I thought I knew what needed to be fixed, so when the feedback came… I was a little surprised.

Camy has a gift for telling you what you need to hear, but doing so in a caring way that doesn’t make you feel upset or affronted — unless you allow yourself to react that way. She basically told me that my character’s motivation wasn’t believable, and it needed to tie in more to her external/internal goals.

Naturally, I went through several stages of emotions upon hearing this: confusion (maybe I didn’t explain things well enough in the synopsis?), frustration (is she serious?), contemplation (what would it be like if I *did* change things…) and finally, acceptance. Yes, she was 100% correct: my main character’s motivation was weak, wasn’t true to her personality, and didn’t really make sense in the whole context of things.

Imagine my surprise when I started brainstorming how to fix things, and realized that my story would be so much stronger for it!

However, I also realized that if I’d let my initial reaction control me, I would never have been able to rationally accept someone else’ s viewpoint. I was too close to the story, so I was blinded by what I *thought* needed fixing and unable to see the real issue.

After this experience, it dawned on me that taking criticism is definitely a learned skill. It’s natural to get defensive about our word babies, but sometimes we just need to step back and let someone else take a look and truly listen to what they have to say.

I’m extremely grateful for Camy’s feedback, and although it took me a few days realize that she was right, I now also know how to graciously accept criticism and put the advice into practice.

I know that not all critiques will have useful information, and sometimes the advice someone gives you will be wrong — but you’re doing yourself an incredibly disservice if you don’t at least consider what that person has to say, and do it seriously.

And let me tell you, if you want to figure out the weak spots in your manuscript? A synopsis is definitely the way to do it. When your story is broken down to the bare bones, can it stand on its own?

How are you at taking advice from critique partners and other sources of feedback? Have you ever had a reaction like me, feeling defensive until you realized that the other person was right?