Monday, December 26, 2011

COTT's Christmas Cover Images Winner

*by COTT Sr. Editor, April W Gardner

Cover Images Clashes are becoming hugely popular at the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles. Voters have been turning out by the droves to give their opinion about which cover they find most eye-catching.

Their latest Clash featured three Christmas cover images, all of which would have been worthy winners. There’s just something about holiday décor that warms the heart! A book cover with Christmas dressings is no different.

Here’s what hostess Gail Pallotta had to say about the three covers. “The mountain scene in A Log Cabin Christmas took away my breath and sent a peaceful feeling over me.  The lovely smile on the young lady on the cover of Christmas Belles of Georgia brightened my day and spoke to me of Christmas joy. Christmas Pearl stood out and proclaimed this holy season.”

But the voters decided, and the winner of the 
Christmas Cover Images Clash is:


This is what voters said about Christmas Pearl:

*'Christmas Pearl' simply struck me as beautiful & I sank right in as I read the blurb.
*I think all three are charming, but 'Christmas Pearl' does it for me!
*"Christmas Pearl" is just plain lovely. I love the way the pearl imitates a tree ornament. Very well done cover and quite evocative of Christmas.

Well said!

COTT  is currently taking a Christmas break, but please visit  January 9 for a new clash that will – literally – take your breath away! If you're an author, don’t forget to check upcoming open clashes and submit.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Clash of the Titles!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Finding Writing Contests

When I was entering manuscript contests, I had many choices of places to enter since I thought my book was a romance and I was a member of Romance Writers of America which has many local chapters hosting contests. I also entered contests in my home state, my city and several others recommended by friends and my writing instructor, Bonnie Hearn Hill.

Do you know where to find contests? If not, you'll find there are many links to contests by doing an Internet search. However, you must be careful with some of these. The true benefits of entering contests is to get feedback that will help improve your writing. Other benefits are to make contact with publishers and agents. Study how the contest can help you. Some of the contests you find on the Internet are more interested in selling you something. There is often a fee for entering a contest to cover costs, but the cost should be minimal.

You'll be more successful going through organizations you know and the ones who are reputable. I mentioned Romance Writers of America. You may want to also look at American Christian Fiction Writers. ACFW has national and chapter contests, too. Not all the chapters shown below have contests, but most offer support for beginning writers. Most require membership in both national and chapter organizations to reap the benefits, however. Check these chapter websites for more information:

ACFW Great Lakes Chapter:
Indiana Chapter of ACFW:
His Writers: Heavenly Inspired Story Writers:
ACFW Arkansas:
OKC Christian Fiction Writers:
CWOW: Christian Writers of the West:

Find the right contest for your manuscript and you may find just the help you need to get your book published.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Judging Writing Contests

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a judge for a writing contest. I won't give the name of the group because judges need to be anonymous. I received the first ten pages of the manuscripts of three Christian contemporary novels. I was provided a score sheet for each to fill out and I could optionally make comments on the manuscript (via Microsoft Word Review) and return all the files electronically.

I printed and read the three entries as soon as I got them. My first thought was that it was going to be hard to decide which one was best since I liked them all. But then I didn't have to do that. All I had to do was to fill out the score sheet. My second thought was I sure would like to read the rest of the books since they all sounded interesting. I probably won't get to read more, but there was an item of the score sheet about whether or not what I read made me want to read the rest.

As it turned out, I left town for awhile and didn't fill out the score sheets right away. When I got home I reread all three entries and made comments on my printed copy as I read. Then, I set the manuscripts aside again and reread them all the next day before filling out the score sheets. As I entered my scores, I often had to go back and check the notes I'd made.

Next, I added comments for each of the twelve items on the score sheet. It was at this time I remembered how I had been helped by contest judges and as I thought about that, I expanded my comments in ways I hoped might help the author. These comments sometimes led to changes, up or down, in the score I had already entered for the item.

Finally, I took the optional step of making comments on the manuscript itself. At this point, I had studied each of the submissions in such detail that I could see ways to make improvements. Only one of the three authors had problems holding a tight point of view, but I pointed out each error in hopes that the person could not only correct the manuscript, but learn how to prevent errors in the future.

I'm sure the authors will disregard some of the suggestions the way I did when I was the one submitting manuscripts to contests, but perhaps they'll also get an idea that will help improve their writing the way I did. Who knows, maybe I will get to read the rest of the books someday.

If you have a manuscript and would like some feedback from an anonymous reader, find a contest and send it in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Entering Writing Contests Helps

I've mentioned several times how I honed my writing skills by entering manuscript contests. When Where Love Once Lived was nearing completion, everyone thought it was a romance novel. I didn't know any better, so I went along with what I was hearing from my writing friends. That worked to my advantage since there are probably more contests in the romance genre than any other. Also, I had the advantage of a having a story in the subgenre of inspirational where there was less competition.

I joined the Romance Writers of America and entered manuscript contests in chapters all across the United States. There was a fee for each entry and back then, many of them required multiple copies of printed manuscripts prepared and mailed in specific ways. I also had to provide return postage if I wanted to get the results. Later, when the use of emailed submissions became more acceptable, the process was simplified and less expensive.

The results were often worth the time and cost. A synopsis was required by many of the contests along with some limited number of pages from the beginning of the book. Some were based on a number of pages, others by chapter. Frequently, an anonymous judge would add comments about the synopsis as well as the manuscript. Some comments led to changes. One of the most significant changes that resulted from comments from a judge was to change an abortion to a miscarriage. The judge suggested the word abortion was too explosive at this time and that I could build in the same amount of emotion in the character who thought her actions may have caused the miscarriage. I was already having second thoughts about the abortion because of feedback from friends, but the contest judge was the first reader to offer a solution.

Other contest judges suggested specific wording in places to make the story more interesting. But there were some judges who were offended by my description of the bookmobile librarian, Liz Siedo, as being a bit hefty. I toned it down after that, but she's still large and proud of it. Along that line, I learned from a judge that clothing for large women is called plus size, not XXXL like it is for men.

By their comments, contest judges also let me know what wasn't clear. For example, in an earlier version of Where Love Once Lived, I had a reference to Sunset Valley being completely surrounded by Austin. Which it is. However, I guess the judge had never heard of such a thing and assumed it was a mistake. I took it out so as not to be confusing.

Another judge thought my reference to a real community called Travis Country was a misspelling of Travis County since the story was set in Austin, Texas which is in Travis County. I took that out, too. It was important to the story.

Entering contests helped me write the book and helped me make it better. I won two first places, one third place and was a finalist in another contest. Winning usually meant a chance to talk to an editor and or agent, as well as a chance to read your entry to other writers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clash of the Titles: Thank You to Our Blog Alliance Partners

Written by Gail Pallotta

Jessica Keller works from an office her husband set up for her in their Chicago home. Using a bright orange laptop she posts five days a week. She blogged big-time in college, garnering a huge following. She says, “It got to the point where people I didn’t know would walk up to me and start talking…about my life because they were addicted to my blog.”

After graduation she ended that blog and went to work in the records department of law enforcement. She figured her blogging days were over, but she started writing novels. She thought about author blogs she loved and wanted to “create a place like that so…someday when a novel-length piece is published…” she’ll already have a blog.

Her blog reflects her love of baking, her communications and Biblical studies degree and her enthusiasm for books. She’ll read over one hundred this year. On Mondays she muses about life in general. Tasty Tuesdays give cooking advice and recipes. On Writing Wednesdays she shares her writing struggles and advice or hosts experts. Thick-of-it-Thursdays feature a spiritual message, and Fridays for Readers introduces new writers. At least once a month there’s a cookie give away. Yum.

During the past nine years she’s written articles, short stories and a novella and recently made the finals in three contests. When she isn’t writing she runs in 5K’s and mentors college-aged women. When asked for a random fact about herself she said, “I have two cats named for super heroes, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.” Visit Jessica's blog here.

Carol Moncado blogs about life and writing from a big cushy chair in a basement in the Ozarks. She says the area “is slowly becoming my office/library.” She’s written on and off ever since she was a kid, seriously for the last two years. She blogs everyday attracting readers, other writers and friends who want to know a little more about her, her writing and the authors she likes. She says, “I try to have humor – and we all know laughter is the best medicine!I love to get comments.”

As for her writing, she’s currently blogging her way through NaNoWriMo. When she isn’t blogging or working on her own writing projects, she takes care of four children, reads and watches television. Her all time favorite show – NCIS.

When asked to share a random fact about herself she said, “When we moved into our first house, we moved on Friday the 13th to a house on Elm Street. We found and put an offer on our second [current] house on 06/06/06.”
Visit Carol’s blog here.

Marianne Evans started her blog, A Minute with Marianne, a little over two years ago. She says, “I loved the idea of chronicling my thoughts and expanding my writing platform…Call it ‘keeping up with the times.’” An added bonus. “It’s a blast…”

She posts almost once a week. A Minute with Marianne introduces readers to writers and books they may not otherwise hear about. Marianne says, “There are so many wonderful inspirational, Christian themed books out there. I love shining a light on them and getting the word out on new and exciting authors.” Her blog also covers writing inspirations, motivational tidbits, reviews and publishing news.

She keeps her blog casual with highlights on having fun, getting to know people and sharing a passion for great writing. When Marianne isn’t blogging, she writes.  She’s A Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence winner for Hearts Crossing. She was a 2011 finalist for Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year for Hearts Surrender. Marianne says she made the jump from secular romance to Christian Inspirational romance/fiction when “the call on her heart matched the ideas in her head.” Visit her blog here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Selecting Fictional Character Names

Find the Perfect Name for a Fictional Character

About a year ago I wrote a five-part series called Find the Perfect Name for a Fictional Character. Recently, for my work in progress, a book I'm calling Do Unto Others which is a continuation of Where Love Once Lived, I needed to use the Fictional Character Name Generator described in Part 5 of the series.

Velma Crackenburg

In the articles published last year, I joked about how the name Velma Crackenburg suggested to Camy Tang after her Facebook call for help for a name for a nasty old lady sounded like a name from the automated name generator.

At the time I didn't think I would ever have a need for such an unusual, obviously fake, name. I got my names from people I knew or combinations of their names. But, now I see the benefit of a truly fictional name. As it turns out, two names in my first book were a bit too real. I'm not talking lawsuit bad, but scary.

In Do Unto Others I want to be extra careful because the plot involves a court case and I don't want anyone to think it might be about them.

Learn More About Character Names Here

If you want to learn more about selecting fictional character names, read the following articles:

Find the Perfect Name for a FictionalCharacter Part 2
Find the Perfect Name for a FictionalCharacter Part 3
Find the Perfect Name for a FictionalCharacter Part 4
Find the Perfect Name for a FictionalCharacter Part 5

Camy Tang's Velma Crackenbury

By the way, I did a Google search on Velma Crackenburg to see if Camy Tang actually used the suggested  name and found this:
Protection for Hire: A Novel - Google Books Result Tang - 2011 - Fiction - 352 pages
Velma lifted a hand to smooth her steely topknot ponytail. “Of course.” “Velma Crackenburg, my uncle Joshua Cathcart.” Josh's eyes bugged out a little, ...
But, I found something else I didn't expect. I found two references to what appear to be real people with last name Crackenburg. Oops! Sorry. I didn't mean to make fun of your name.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

There’s a party going on!!

Historical fiction author April W Gardner is celebrating the release of Warring Spirits, the second book in her Creek Country Saga! Everyone who purchases Warring Spirits on Amazon on Thursday, December 15, 2011, will be entered into SIX different drawings for some cool and unique prizes. That’s right—ONE purchase. SIX chances to win. 


She’s also giving away personalized, signed book plates (labels for the inside cover). One for every book you purchase. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. Order today and cross a few names off your Christmas list! Head over there now to see what the hoopla is all about.

So what’s this book about? Warring Spirits is the sequel to Wounded Spirits, April’s Grace Award winning debut novel. Here’s a bit about today’s featured novel: 

Where blood is spilt, unexpected love may bloom.

In 1816 Georgia, escaped slaves control the land just beyond the American border in Las Floridas. Lost somewhere between white and black worlds, Milly follows hope to the only place that can offer her refuge—the place Georgians are calling Negro Fort. The first, sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. Death would be more welcome.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters. Forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh—Phillip primes himself for battle.  But inside, a war already rages—return for the woman he thought lost to him or concede her to the enemy she loves; follow orders or follow his heart.

Sound intriguing? Head over to APRIL'S PLACE to learn more! Or go straight to AMAZON to get your copy.

--April W Gardner is a multi-published author and the founder and senior editor of the fun literary site, Clash of the Titles.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making Dreams Come True – Part 7

If you haven't read the previous parts, you may want to do so first. See:

White Rose Publishing reply came October 20, 2009

Thank you for submitting to White Rose Publishing. I still enjoy your story, Where Love Once Lived, and it’s always wonderful to see characters get a second chance at love. I sincerely regret that I must pass on it.

Your story is well-written and the characters are realistic, but while there is romance in the story, it’s not the main focus. For a story to be considered a romance, the relationship between the hero and heroine should be the main focus and take up a majority of the pages. The hero and heroine should be together as much as possible and thinking about each other when they’re apart. Where Love Once Lived is a story about Brian’s personal growth rather than the relationship between him and Karen. As I said, it’s a wonderful story, it’s just not right for White Rose Publishing. Should you write a romance in the future, I do hope you’ll keep us in mind.

I decided not to cut more

Although they didn't say so this time, I felt I could get the book published as a romance if I was willing to do more cutting. However, I decided to publish the book myself. During the process, the copyeditor I hired said there seemed to be a scene missing. So I put one of the cut scenes back in. I think she was amazed I could write it so quickly.

While preparing to self-publish and learning how to make e-books, I continued to work on the bookstore idea, looking for a place and buying books and decorations. The business of planning a business kept me busy and I enjoyed it.

But God had other plans for me.

During the time I was searching for a building to buy, I met Celeste. At first, she went with me to look at the various locations. Then at some point, the idea of living alone upstairs in a bookstore begin to lose its appeal.

Both of us had thought we would never marry again, but God brought us together. Knowing I'd rather live with her than above a store alone, I abandoned my bookstore idea and asked Celeste to marry me. She said 'no,' because she felt it was too soon after Lois died, but I tried again later and we were married March 19, 2010.

Celeste and I got married and moved into a nice home close to where our previous homes were. I don't miss that bookstore one bit. I rented a storage space we called "the bookstore" and moved my books there until I could find time to dispose of them. I sold most of  the collectibles on eBay and gave the others to libraries.

Where Love Once Lived was published in August 2010.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Dreams Come True – Part 6

If you haven't read the previous parts, you may want to do so first. See:

Lois died the day before Thanksgiving, 2008

The eight months we had together, with both of us being Stephen Ministers, helped me through the grieving process. All during that time she was alert and looked forward to joining her heavenly family. I'd never seen her so at peace. We had time to make plans. We talked about her will and her two grown children. Her son, who was in Afghanistan was able to return and be with her for a time before she died. She got to see her daughter through new eyes and loved her even more. She showed me how dying is not as difficult as I had thought it might be.

After the memorial service, I was lost. I went from being a 24-hours a day nurse to not having any obligations. I'd been giving the shots, changing the bandages, feeding her intravenously, checking blood sugar, and keeping it all on schedule. I couldn't face Christmas, so I went to Nova Scotia alone and stayed until after New Year's day. It was a place with no memories.

Planning to open a bookstore.

By the time I got home I had decided to work on another unfulfilled dream.

All my life I'd dreamed of owning a small independent bookstore with space for living above the store. In the store itself, I visualized a place to write plus displays of collectible books, posters and such from famous writers. Of course, I also realized it would never happen.

Then, when Lois died and I needed to sell the house and find another place to live, I thought it might be the time to open a bookstore. I decided to limit it to prize-winning books only and I began to collect books that had won the Pulitzer Prize. I would have a corner for Christy Award winners and children's section with nothing but Newbery Medal winners.

I would sell the house and open a bookstore in town with living space upstairs. The more I worked on the bookstore plan, the better I felt and soon I was working on the changes White Rose Publishing had suggested.

I made the changes the publisher asked for

I also began to get involved with living. I went back to church and rejoined the choir. I attended rehearsals with the San Gabriel Chorale again. I worked on the edits nearly every day now.

I cut and cut and cut, saving all the precious words in a separate file in case I could use them later. I cut the length from 100,000 words to 80,000 words. I cut most subplots, but there were two I couldn't leave out. One was about the bookmobile librarian Liz who started the idea of the book in the first place and the second was the race relations subplot I haven't told you about. I resubmitted the manuscript to the publisher August 17, 2009.

Read the next post to find out what the publisher said.

Monday, December 12, 2011

COTT Judging A Book By Its Cover

*by Michelle Massaro

Last week Clash of the Titles held their first ever Clash of the Covers. This fast-paced clash was different than their usual fare, because instead of judging the author's story, we judged how well their cover designs matched their theme or made us want to pick up the book. There were four books to vote on, from authors Cathy, Erica, Lacy, and Maggie. The books were Marrying Miss Marshal, Spring For Susannah, A Bride's Portrait, and Deeply Devoted.

It was a VERY CLOSE race and it saw enough voter participation to max out the scoreboards!

Some of the comments included:
Spring for Susannah - Susannah is aware of the man but she looks as though she could turn away, or turn towards him.
Marrying Miss Marshall seems to speak volumes about the heroine--just in her position.
The cover of A Brides Portrait, really sells the title by having the woman with a camera on it. Caught my attention.
I love cover C...looks like the "old west"!!!
Marrying Miss Marshal. Hmm, with that rifle laid across her lap, one wonders who's daring enough to approach her, much less marry her. Intriguing.
I loved A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City - it added so many components of the story into the cover besides just a profile :)
Love this (A) - it's intriguing. I'm not sure from the picture whether she's toting for justice, revenge, or protection. Makes me curious.

The Champion Book that was voted
Springtime For Susanna, by Catherine Richmond

This week, COTT is sporting a holiday/winter theme with host Gail Pallotta. We expect it to be another huge turn-out so please join us. We'll cozy up to the virtual fireplace, egg nog in hand, and browse for books. In this case, it's okay to judge the cover. =)

We’ll be taking a break December 26 – January 6
And then come right back on January 9 with a new clash that will – literally – take your breath away! If you're an author, don’t forget to check upcoming open clashes and submit

Friday, December 9, 2011

Making Dreams Come True – Part 5

If you haven't read the previous parts, you may want to do so first. See:

Endoscopic Surgery

The next step was to check for a problem with the bile duct. We went to the Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas, on April 11, 2008, and had one of the only two doctors in the area who could go examine and fix the bile duct if needed using endoscopic surgery.

After the procedure, the doctor came to talk to us. He may be a super specialist and tops in his field, but his bedside manner was lacking. He said she had inoperable pancreatic cancer. Wham! Just like that, without any preparation we went from bile duct to terminal illness. He'd put in a stent and said we should talk to a surgeon to get another opinion.

We cancelled the trip to the Holy Land and found the best pancreatic surgeon in the area.

Lois had the Whipple surgery from one of the best surgeons around, and then another surgery to repair the liver. But she never recovered enough for treatment and the cancer came back quickly. She was in and out of hospitals for eight months and I was with her nearly every day and night. She had a fear of being alone in the hospital, so I slept where I could, sometimes beds and sometimes chairs, to be with her. I got a few breaks along the way when others offered to stay overnight.

White Rose Publishing wrote back on May 13, 2008.

They loved the book, but said there were too many subplots. If I wanted to delete this and that, they'd take another look at it. I said okay, not knowing when I would be able to write again.

Lois encouraged me to make the changes to the book, but I don't think she realized I couldn't think about fiction with all that we were dealing with. Besides, when I had enough time to write, I chose to take a shower or take a nap.

In the next post, I describe what happened next.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Host, Tom Blubaugh, Author of Night of the Cossack

Do you know a bestselling author? Do you want to meet one? Better yet, how awesome would it be to know that you had a hand in making a book a best seller? Now is your chance. Have fun and join me in making Night of the Cossack a Best Seller:

Here's how:

1. Buy a Book

This may sound like simple advice, but we would be honored if you would buy the compelling adventure Night of the Cossack. You can purchase the book at or you can purchase a signed copy at my site:

2. Email your contacts

You can send an email to all of your contacts and tell them how wonderful Night of the Cossack is. You can direct them to my site where they can read the first chapter. Here is a sample email that you can use:

Tom Blubaugh has written a book that is bound to become a best seller. Night of the Cossack is a compelling adventure about a teenager who is forced to grow up quickly. The main character, Nathan Hertzfield, faces many life or death situations during this saga. Join Nathan on his suspenseful journey through parts of Russia and Europe during the early 1900's. Don't miss the entertaining and intriguing story, Night of the Cossack. It is available at or you can purchase a signed copy at his site:

3. Facebook and other Social Networks

Facebook has become a powerful tool. I would greatly appreciate your posting comments about Night of the Cossack and Tom Blubaugh on your wall. Also, be sure to go to and press LIKE (and ask your friends to do the same). Also share with your friends through Twitter and Linkedin.

4. Speaking Engagements

I have been a public speaker 40 years. You can invite me to speak at your church, group or club. You can think of subjects around writing, fiction, genealogies and Christian themes for me to talk about.

5. Media Contacts

Use your media contacts to set up interviews for me. Consider anyone you know that is in the TV, radio, newspaper, magazine or newsletter business. No interview request is too large or too small. Please send requests to me (

6. Blog for me

Do you have a blog? Do you know someone else who blogs? If so, you can interview me about Night of the Cossack. Tom has a wonderful sense of humor and is great to interview. Please contact me to set up an interview

7. Review the book

You can go to and write a review for me Night of the Cossack is a great book that the whole family can enjoy. Reviews can also be sent to me.

8. Book Signings

You can help line up a book signing at your local book store, church or library. Contact me.

9. Old fashioned Word of Mouth

One of the best ways you can help propel Night of the Cossack to best seller status is through word of mouth. Be sure to tell your family, friends and co-workers about Night of the Cossack.

10. Buy a Book for Someone Else

Once you see how much you love Night of the Cossack, think of family members or friends that you know who would love to read it. Consider buying copies to give away for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Dreams Come True – Part 4

If you haven't read the previous parts, you may want to do so first. See:

I sent queries to many agents and publishers

After the book was complete, I sent queries to many agents and publishers. I never did find an agent, but in April 2008, White Rose Publishing, a company that publishes only Christian Romance, read the beginning and a synopsis and asked to see the whole book. That was something none of my writing friends had experienced yet at the time. I sent the manuscript to White Rose immediately. As I had learned in class, I started working on a new novel while waiting to hear back from the publishers.

Planning a trip to the Holy Land

My wife Lois and I were leaving soon after sending the manuscript to the publisher on a trip to the Holy Land. However, I knew the publisher would need at least 90 days to decide, so I wasn't concerned about the book. In fact, I was looking at the trip and good way to keep from thinking about what the publisher might say.

Soon, I forgot all about the book.

Just a few weeks before or planned departure we learned that Lois was too ill to go anywhere.

She had been having minor respiratory problems off and on since we got back from China in the summer 0f 2007. The doctors had not been able to find anything wrong. Then, during a routine check just before our departure, her dermatologist said she was jaundiced. Again, we thought it must have something to do with the China trip. We had taken a river cruise on the Yangtze and had visited a number of smaller towns. I had been banned from donating blood for a year because of the possibility of malaria. Lois' doctor checked her for malaria. The test was negative.

In the next post, I'll tell you what happened when Lois had endoscopic surgery.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making Dreams Come True – Part 3

If you haven't read the previous parts, you may want to do so first. See:

In the last post, I told you the bookmobile novel idea changed as I learned more about writing. Once I understood the book was about Karen and Brian and how they get back together after thirty years, and Liz the bookmobile librarian was a supporting character, and once I had taken several writing classes, the book began to take shape. It began to look and feel like a novel. In fact, I felt more like all I had to do was write about what the characters were feeling. They took over and told the story.

I set the story in Austin, Texas, because that's where I grew up. While a student at the University of Texas, I worked as a bookmobile driver part-time for the Austin Public Library. Brian, who had sold his business in California before returning to Austin to pursue Karen, bought a bookmobile to impress her. As it turns out, it does the opposite. I used the bookmobile in a third of the scenes to make the setting smaller and more manageable. Supporting characters come aboard the bookmobile as needed.

Is it a romance?

The story is told by the two main characters, Brian and Karen, alternating from one to the other so that the reader can see what's going on in their minds without one character knowing what the other is thinking. With two protagonists and the points of view alternating between male and female, plus the title of the book (Where Love Once Lived), early readers thought the book was a romance. Not knowing any better, I went along with that belief. I joined the Romance Writers Association and, in 2007, the manuscript won several contests. It took first place in the romance division at the Writers League of Texas contest and first place in the inspiration division in New Mexico. Plus a third place in Houston and finalist in California.

The book talks about going back to where Brian was last happy. He sells his company, moves from California to Texas, buys land and builds a house at the same location where he and Karen had once been happy together, he buys a bookmobile because that's where they had been together so many times. The title, Where Love Once Lived, seems to be describing these actions. However, I soon learned the story is really about where the love of God had once lived in Brian's heart and his struggle to regain his faith.

In the next post, I'll tell you about trying to find a publisher.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Clash of the Titles Allliance Members

Christine and Pamela!
A huge welcome to blogger and author Christine Lindsay! Christine is another extraordinary member of the COTT Blog Alliance. On Wednesdays she posts the COTT weekly article, and on Fridays she posts either an editorial/devotional or a review on a book.
What's her blog like? Christine wants her blog to be somewhere a reader can find a true inspirational story to encourage their faith. For example, on her blog she has in book-length the entire story of her experience as a birthmother. From the moment she found out she was pregnant, to the relinquishment of her child, and to their reunion 20 years later.

Do not miss this testimony. Her birth-daughter, Sarah, modeled for the cover of Shadowed in Silk. Take a look at how it all came together—it's well worth the read.

I asked Christine who she is outside the realm of writing and publication and all that jazz.
"I am so ordinary, it's hilarious. I used to be an administrative assistant, going off to work in suits, high heels and makeup. Now that I'm following the labor of my heart (writing) I work in my home office and wear the closest thing I can get to pajamas—sweat pants and a sweat shirt.
"But there are times I have to go out and leave my beloved laptop behind along with my cat. Then I slap on some mascara, whip a comb through my hair, put on some decent slacks and head out the door with a cup of tea in my hands. I can drive with one hand and drink my tea with the other."
What "ordinary"? That's multi-tasking!
Why is she willing to give COTT space on her blog every other week?

I find the COTT alliance an energetic group of writers that inspire me. I love the fun and camaraderie with the clashes," she said. "And it gets the word out to readers of all the great Christian fiction that's available. They are a great group of people to be affiliated with. I consider it an honor."
The feeling is entirely mutual!

Book trailer

Meet Pamela S. Thibodeaux:

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

A great big welcome to Blog Alliance Partner Pamela S. Thibodeau. We're so pleased to have her aboard.

I asked this author and blogger where she finds inspiration for her blog, Pamela S. Thibodeaux—Blog.

"I must admit that, personally, I'm pretty burned out on topics…but I love showcasing other authors on Saturday Spotlight and hosting their virtual book tours. This helps me fill in when I can think of nothing to talk about. LOL!"

Honesty…I love it! (Also really glad to know I'm not the only blogger with this kind of problem…)

I'm always interested in why our Blog Alliance members choose to be members. Here's Pam's reason:

"I believe in what COTT is doing and frankly, any website that helps promote Christian authors—especially those who are new, unknown, small press or independently published—is a place I try to support. Doing regular posts for COTT helps me do just that."

Pamela's newest release, The Visionary, is an absolutely wonderful book, one I can whole-heartedly recommend. Without being offensively graphic, it deals with some pretty heavy issues of child abuse and its aftermath.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

The biggest challenge I face is not having my work accepted by the “Christian” publishers. As one reviewer said, “Though undeniably Christian, it is never dogmatic or insular; offering faith rather than religion.” (From Elizabeth Burton's review of Tempered Dreams for Blue Iris Journal) My books deal with issues in a way that is unacceptable in the traditional CBA market. Now that is not saying that my books are better than those published through traditional CBA publishers, only different. As I’ve said many times, everything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!

So true. And all I can think to say in response is a very sincere, "Amen!"