Archive for August, 2010


August Blog Tour: ‘The Reluctant Entertainer’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

I’m going to change it up today – give you all a book review to read whilst you mull over the self-editing tips :)

And… instead of doing the August Blog Tour from Revell/Bethany House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. all at once at the end of the month (like usual), I’ve decided to spread them out a bit over the next 2 weeks. So, let’s get to it!


The Reluctant Entertainer – Sandy Coughlin

Real Entertaining for Real People

True hospitality is not about being perfect, cooking a fancy meal, or spending a lot of money. Rather, it’s about an open door and an open heart. Popular blogger Sandy Coughlin offers a simple but savvy approach to help women break free of the anxieties that keep them from opening their homes. Emphasizing the forgotten goal of entertaining–connecting deeply with others–she shows how women can use the gifts and talents God gave them to reach out in love.

My Thoughts:   reluctant2

My first thought when I saw this book was: Did Coughlin write this book for me? Because it’s exactly what I need. Hospitality is not my gift by any means, and I’m beyond reluctant to invite people to my house. Heck, I downright refuse to do so unless absolutely necessary.

Why? It’s probably a combination of reasons. My house is too messy. My house isn’t pretty enough inside. I don’t know how to cook, or can’t cook much beyond pre-packaged meals (I have a few recipes I can make from scratch that I use often, but those have always seemed ‘not good enough’ for company). I’m also busy. And I live far away from my friends. And… excuse, excuse, excuse.

Well, Coughlin takes all those excuses, crunches them up, and tosses them aside. She explains how we don’t need to have the perfect house or the perfect food or even the perfect moment to invite people over. Friends won’t mind if you order pizza. Friends won’t care if your living room looks lived in – you know, like normal people actually live in your house, rather than creating a false, pristine environment where guests are afraid to touch anything.

She breaks down entertaining step by step, with clear explanations from her own experiences of going from reluctant entertainer to perfectionist hostess and finally coming to the realization that hospitality is about people and relationships, not about perfection or impressing others.

Coughlin also provides some VERY easy and tasty recipes (at least they sound really good) that I want to try out. Me! Wants to cook?!? Something must be off…

But I also learned that I can invite people over. The excuses are worthless – but the relationships that get built over a meal and conversation are priceless.

If you’ve been hesitant to open your home to others, this book can and will change your perspective… and your heart. Honest!


Read a Q&A with Sandy Coughlin here: The Reluctant Entertainer Q&A (PDF)

Read an excerpt from the book here: The Reluctant Entertainer Excerpt (7 pages) (PDF)

About the Author

coughlin Sandy Coughlin loves hospitality, cooking, and opening her home to others with her husband and three growing teenagers. She’s the author of The Reluctant Entertainer and co-author (with her husband Paul) ofMarried…But Not Engaged. She’s been featured on numerous media outlets including Moody’s Midday Connection, Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, and Library Journal.You can find Sandy’s blog about simple but savvy entertaining, as well as the benefits to imperfect living, at


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Self-Editing #2: Character Description

   Posted by: Faith    in Creating Coldcuts

Here we are at post #2 in this little series on things to look out for when self-editing. Again, this is in the copyediting stage – not editing for content or rewriting. However, these little things can often make or break your manuscript!

Today we’re looking at…

Character Description in POV

What’s wrong with this?

Jacqueline waltzed into the office, her dark brown hair swishing across the back of her blouse. She dropped her attaché onto the mahogany desk and paused, listening to the sweet sound of employees hard at work.

She glanced at her delicate gold watch. It’s not even nine and they’re already on task. I love Mondays.

Pursing her glossed lips, she pulled her cell from the attaché’s side pocket, flicked it open, and dialed.

First question to ask is: Whose point of view is this?

Second question to ask is: How can the person whose POV we’re in see themselves?Mirror, mirror, on the wall... whose POV are we in, anyway?

Obviously, they can’t – or else I wouldn’t be asking the question – but it’s surprising how often  this pops up in our own writing (mine, anyway). It’s natural for us to want to describe our main character, but it’s unnatural for someone to think “oh, I’m going to brush my long, blonde hair now”. No, you’d think “I’m going to brush my hair”, right? Same for your character.

One way writers try to get around this is the “mirror scene”. You know what that is – that’s where your character stands in front of a mirror and describes himself or herself. Unless you have a darn good reason for doing this (like I’ve said before, there are exceptions to every rule), this is cliché and you want to avoid it like the plague! (Another cliché, don’t use that either…)

Instead, bring out your character’s description through the eyes of another character. Don’t use them to list every detail at once, but bring it out slowly, and only when or if it matters.

When it comes to character description, less is more.

(Unless you’re writing a fantasy or sci-fi with created races, and then it’s a whole other ball game entirely. But I’m not getting into that right now…!)

So… have you ever written a mirror scene? Or described the character in her own POV? Don’t be shy, we’ve all done it too.


Beginning and Doing

   Posted by: Faith    in Creating Coldcuts

Self-editing… ah, the bane of my existence. Why do I love working on other people’s writing and cringe when it comes to my own? I have no idea. No, that’s not entirely true – maybe it’s the horrors found within my writing that I don’t want to face. Passive sentence structure! Telling! Misplaced modifiers!

To help combat my penchant for putting off edits, this week I’m going to post on some particular things to look out for when self-editing. And a note: These are copyediting things to look out for, not content… I might look at content later in the month.

Here we go…

Beginning vs. Doing

In most cases, when your character begins something, what you mean is that he’s actually doing it.

Example: “He began running toward the store.”

As soon as he starts running, he’s already doing the action. Beginning becomes doing immediately!

Change to: “He ran toward the store.”

This is more active, clearer, and keeps up the story’s pace.

Of course there will be exceptions – there are times when beginning something is the logical description – but in the majority of cases, beginning becomes doing the moment it starts.

Get out that red pen (or, uh… your track changes option) and look for all instances of:

  • starts, started, starting
  • begins, began, beginning
  • commences (*cringe*)

And with that… begin editing! Er, I mean… edit!


Is this a particular habit for any of you? I’ve corrected at least two instances in the last five pages of the MS I’m working on…


In My Mailbox (7)

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

In my mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!

Here’s what came in my mailbox this week:

ARC of Maybe Never, Maybe NowKimberly Joy Peters (Releases October 1st, 2010)

(I won this in a Lobster Press Twitter contest! I’d link to their website but it seems to be down…)

What came in your mailbox this week? :D


Muse Registration Ending!

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

If you’re planning on attending the Muse Online Writers Conference this October (11th-17th), but haven’t registered yet, get yourself over to the website and sign up!

Earlybird (ie. FREE) registration is only open until August 15th, and after that there will be a $5.00 late fee applied to all registrations. There’s a second deadline of September 10th if you miss the first deadline, but after September 10th registration will be CLOSED until 2011’s conference.

So rather than miss out on everything that Muse has to offer, head over there right now and sign yourself up! Even if you’re not sure how many workshops/chats you can attend, it’s worthwhile to sign up and avoid the $5.00 late fee.

I had a good time at 2009’s Online Conference, and got some great feedback on a number of pieces/samples. A lot of the workshop instructors critiqued everyone’s work / gave useful feedback, which was incredibly generous of them. Talk about a great learning experience!

And if you think you might be interested in getting into e-publishing or small press publishing, there are always plenty of pitch sessions to sign up for. A number of agents usually participate as well. In fact, many of them are already listed on the website right now, so you can begin prepping your pitches and queries and avoid the typical last-minute panic!

Don’t miss out, sign up now! And if you’ve attended before, what was your favorite workshop of 2009 (or a previous year)?


Book Review: ‘Forget About It’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Just a quick little book review today… with the weekend coming up, I thought you might like to know about a light, breezy read that I think would be most enjoyed in the sunshine (apply sunscreen first, please), with a popsicle or ice cream cone in hand(don’t drip on the book!). Or on the beach, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Forget About It – Caprice Crane

Publisher’s Synopsis:forgetaboutitus

Jordan Landau is having a bad life. At twenty-five, she is attractive, smart, funny and talented. But all that doesn”t keep her mother from calling her fat, her boss from stealing her ideas, and her boyfriend from cheating on her. Day in and day out, she sits back and watches as everyone walks all over her.

Then one day while riding her bike home from a particularly awful day, Jordan collides with a car door and is knocked clear off her bicycle. Coming to in the hospital, Jordan realizes she has a perfect excuse for a "do-over"; she vows to fake amnesia and reinvent herself.

And it works. Finally, Jordan is able to get the credit she deserves at work, and she stands up to her family and her jerk boyfriend. She”s living the life she always dreamed of–until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Jordan must start over for real, and figure out what really makes her happy–and how to live a truly memorable life.

My Thoughts:

Not as bad as I thought it might be! Actually, it was fairly enjoyable. Crane writes smoothly and has the ability to write distinct, interesting characters, and I found the story pretty engaging, with one complaint…

I wanted to smack the main character upside the head. Mind you, I’m pretty sure that’s the point — you spend a few chapters at the beginning wanting to knock some sense into the MC and when she finally *does* get hit in the head (and fakes amnesia) you think "oh GOOD, it’s about time". There were a few occasions when her actions under fake amnesiac pretenses didn’t seem consistent with her decisions, but all told it made for an entertaining story… and the twist, while it made me roll my eyes, provided a decent ending (though my limits of ‘suspension of disbelief’ were sorely tested).

Ultimately, I’d like to read more from Crane. I get the sense that she writes light, fun reads that make for great rainy day (or lazy weekend) entertainment.

This is a ‘buy or borrow’ type of selection (I borrowed!).


Stuck in the Corner

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Have you ever written yourself into a corner?

You know it when it happens: Your characters have been humming along, minding their own business, when all of a sudden you realize… there’s nowhere left for them to go. You have a place where they need to be, or an event that has to happen, but the transition is gone.

It’s like coming to a gorge where you can see the other side, but the bridge is down. Or maybe it’s still there, but it’s wooden, rickety, and likely to come crashing down the moment you step foot on it.

What do you do when this happens? 

(Oh, you expect me to be a fount of advice at this moment? Nope, purely soliciting your thoughts this time around. ;) )

I’m working on a short story and I seem to have written my main character into a corner. She’s an assassin and suspects that the man whose contract she just carried out intended for the assassination to cause a war. This is highly inconvenient. It’s also important to the story that the identity of the man remains a secret… and my main character is about to be deported for diplomatic reasons. Uh… so that means she can’t stick around… but it wouldn’t make sense for her to stick around, based on the political scheme of the world…

Have your eyes glazed over yet?

So, she’s stuck in a corner with nowhere to go. I see a few options here:

  1. Back up, try something completely different
  2. Introduce a random but interesting conflict (she gets sick? someone else dies?)
  3. Introduce a new character who can provide conflict
  4. Change the rules of the world

Is there another option here? I might try a few different things and see what happens, but I’m curious to know how other people deal with ‘stuck’ scenarios. I know of writers who tear out the pages and start over from where the problem started, but is that always necessary?


Your MC and Mondays

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

This morning I got up, checked my email, had a coffee… wanted another coffee… and wondered: Does your main character hate Mondays?

It’s a typical thing in our culture to attribute mistakes, bad attitudes, forgetfulness, and the need for extra caffeine to it being Monday. We have a “bad case of the Mondays” or “Monday brain”… though I imagine for some people, Monday isn’t a bad thing at all. They love their job and love to get cracking as soon as the clock hits 9am.garfield_monday

But even for people who like Mondays, I’m guessing they’ve had a ‘Monday incident’ at some point or another. I hesitate to believe someone who’s never blamed the day for something at some point in her life.

To bring it back to writing (it’s relevant, I swear), when we’re writing a contemporary piece set in Western society, do we remember to include this extremely common convention in our characters’ everyday lives? If your character’s feeling a bit drained, does she blame it on the beginning of the week? If she dribbles coffee down the front of her blouse, or forgets to call her mother and gets a scathing email because of it, does it all come down to Monday?

I’m sure I’ve read books where Monday gets the blame, but of course I can’t think of any examples right now. I’ve used it myself at the beginning of my editing-stage novel A Work in Progress, but what about you? Do you see this often? Have you used it yourself?

Tell me the most creative way you’ve used Monday to create conflict for your characters! Or, if you haven’t used it before, would you consider it? I’m curious…!


In My Mailbox

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

In my mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!

Umm… okay, so I didn’t actually get anything in the mail this week, so I didn’t think I’d have anything to share this time around, but apparently I can’t resist BUYING books on the week none come in the mail. But I have an excuse, I swear!

I had a coupon. And cash as a late wedding gift (like, two years late) from some family members. So where better to make use of said cash than at the bookstore? The hubby even suggested it. No complaints from me!!!

We definitely geeked out on our choices, though…

Ah, yes... a Star Wars novel. No, I am not ashamed. We looked in THREE BOOKSTORES to find this one.

Have I mentioned I'm an MMORPG pseudo-junkie? I've been waiting for this one for a loooong time now...!

It's entirely possible that upon seeing this in paperback, I shrieked, kissed the book, and began dancing around the bookstore. Possible. Not definite, but possible. Just don't ask the employees...

A random choice... apparently steampunk meets Indiana Jones? Hope it's good!

What came in your mailbox this week? :D


ARC Giveaway @ 21 Pages Blog

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

I don’t typically dedicate entire blog posts to other people’s contests, but this one looked so good (and I really want to win something) that I figured it’s worthwhile.

Here’s what you can win over at 21 Pages (and the contest is International!) — your choice of:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
The Ivy by Lauren Kunze, Rina Onur
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Fill out the form on the bottom of the blog post, and *voila!* …you’re entered.

Go ahead, give it a shot!