Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Website

I can hardly wait!!!!  After five years, I'm trading in the cowboy boots on  for something modern and upbeat.  I loved those boots. They were a perfect fit for my old westerns, but I'm even more excited about doing something new.

Colors?  I can't decide between bright and cheerful, or subtly passionate and evocative.

I like red and gray together. Kind of odd, but it's looks great on the screen.

My favorite color is turquoise, but it's kind of blah on a screen.

I buy books with pretty landscapes, but I hear that readers like people on covers.  Do I put my new photo on page one or just with the bio?

The book pages need to be organized by the type of book, since I have mainstream westerns, inspirational westerns and an inspirational contemporary.

I like sites with a clean, readable look.  The faster, the better.

"Behind the Book" tabs always get my interest.

I'm sure there's more.   Aiming for October 15th for the big unveil . . .

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Researching FAS

My next book features a little girl coping with FAE. That stands for Fetal Alcohol Effects. I just love her and want very much to do justice to her character, to real life kids with FAS/E and to their caregivers who are some of the most remarkable people I've come across through blogs, online forums, etc..

I don't usually enjoy research.  For my western historicals, I viewed research as a means to an end.  I usually needed facts related to a timeline, things like "When were children's picture books first published?" or "Could my hero buy cut flowers for the heroine Cheyenne in 1872?"  Those were for Wyoming Lawman. Accuracy is important, of course. It builds the story and character, but what I'm researching now takes me to an all new place.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Question . . .

What advice would you give someone who has tried over and over to break a bad habit?  Too much alcohol, too much food, too much Internet time, porn, gambling, gossip . . . The list of habits is endless. I'm talking about things that control a person's decisions, things that keep them from changing their lives and being more content. These are things a person wants to stop but just can't.

This question hit me at church today. The teaching was about discipline.  Believe me, I'm all for discipline. I need it badly.  I also have it to some degree. A person can't write to a deadline without plopping one's butt in the chair and doing it on the days when the ideas are flat and the plot just isn't happening. I'm also sorely lacking in discipline when it comes to dawdling on the Internet and healthy eating. I don't like to cook, which leads to unhealthy snacking.  I'd rather wolf down peanuts and string cheese than stop to make a salad or a turkey sandwich. A bowl of cereal is a lot easier to fix than a veggie omelet.

So back to that question . . . What do you tell that person who has failed over and over again?  Do you give them a pep talk?  Do you say, "If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again?"  Do you tell them they wouldn't sin if they had more faith?  Do you tell them that they're dishonoring God and their faith? 

Or do you say what Paul said in Romans 7?  To paraphrase: "I do what I don't want to do, and I don't do what I do want to do . . ."  Man, I relate to that!

I also relate to Romans 8 . . . it's here that Paul reminds us that Christ died to set us FREE. We're spiritual beings as well as fleshly beings. We struggle with that dichotomy, but Christ defeated sin on the cross. That's a little Christian-ese-y.  Maybe a 12th Step Program paraphrase would help:  We admit we're powerless over sin and humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.  HE did / does the heavy lifting. We approach the throne of grace through prayer and his Word, but when push comes to shove, He's God and I'm not.  I can try and try and try to do what's good for me, a.k.a. uphold the law, but I'm doomed to fail without the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul understood this when he wrote, "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?"  After starting out with a strong faith in the work of Christ on the cross, the church in Galatia slid into trusting their own efforts to uphold the law. 

I don't want to be a Galatian.  I also want to be 20 lbs. lighter.   So . . . a prayer: "Lord, here we go again. Help me to lean on you and not my own strength. Help me to choose wisely. Help to resist those old stupid habits. Amen."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Walking & Creativity

I used to think that the spot at the bottom of the stairs leading from my office to the kitchen was magical.  It worked every time . . . I'd get stuck on a scene, decide to get coffee, and wham-o!  At the bottom of the stairs I'd have a new idea. 

Now I know a bit more about how the body and mind work together.  There's something about walking that coordinates the right and left sides of the brain. The movement does something for me.  I don't know exactly what, but the quickest way for me to break through to a new perspective is to get up out of chair and just . . . move.

So, since I'm kind of muddling in Chapter Four of the new book--I always muddle in Chapter Four--I think that's what I'll do . . . get up and take a walk on this glorious August morning. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I'm Reading . . .

I love reading on airplanes. There's nothing else to do, nothing to think about.  I suppose I could have broken out the laptop and worked on Chapter 4, but it's too crowded and who can concentrate on a new story?  Not me. I'd rather read.

For the trip to Denver, I went historical with Elizabeth Camden's Against The Tide.  Awesome book!  It's about the opium trade in Boston, a man desperate to redeem his past and woman working as a translator. No spoilers, but Bane is a fabulously tortured hero and Lydia is his equal in every way.

Fascinating setting. Great characters. Spiritual themes . . . Definitely my kind of book!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writer Moment

I finished the revisions for Until I Found You about two weeks ago.  Once I'm done with a book, I don't like to look at it again, not even when it's in print.  But there's a moment where the finished ms is like wet paint . . . I just have to touch it one more time, to take one more glance to see if it's as complete as I thought it was when I typed "The End."

I just had that moment with Until I Found You.  Whew!  Nothing made me cringe, except one little itty-bitty typo.  On to the next ms . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Favorite Devotional . . .

The fever is spreading among my friends.  We talk about Oswald Chambers like he's in the room with us, when in fact he's been dead a very long time.  We trade notes and stand gaping with her eyes wide and amazed at how personal this little devotional is for each of us. In email exchanges, he's nicknamed OC.

His wife actually put this little book together in the 1930 several years after he passed on. It's from a series of sermons he gave at a college for ministers-to-be.  All that detail is in the intro.

I read somewhere that next to the Bible, My Utmost for His Highest is the best selling book in the Christian market. Why?  What makes it so special?  What makes a devotional more than a flash in the pan, or merely The Next Big Thing?  I'd say it's authenticity. This little book reaches out to the human soul right where it is--short-fallen, suffering, confused and just plain human.  There's no happy-doodle Christianity here. No emotionalism. No feel-good cheerleading. It's about picking up the cross and following Christ, being broken bread and out-poured wine, dying to our own desires and doing what is hard for our bodies but life-giving to our hearts. .

I sometimes joke that it's the "Dear Vicki Book."  It's been that relevant to the ups and downs of the past few years. I'm off to read today's devotional . . . You can too if you'd like . . .

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This n' That

I have a decision to make . . . Do I go with a custom designed website, or do I play here on Blogger and do it myself?  I love being hands-on, but there's something wonderful about big, glitzy, well designed website. 

So . . . I'm experimenting for a few months.  I'm going to try this on for size and see how I like it. 

I have awhile . . . my next book comes out in May 2014, so the plan is to give this try and see how I like blogging regularly.  I'm thinking of a schedule . . . maybe 3x a week. 

Monday:  Books & Writing

Wednesday:  Spiritual Rambling

Friday: The Hartley Chronicles

Hartley's our Jack Russell/Beagle mix and he's uniquely entertaining.  How many dogs do you know who are afraid of beeping cell phones?  We're talking terrified . . . like cringing and slinking under the bed.  Poor baby.  One of the things we love about Hartley is that he's so much like us and God.  We think we're hiding, but we're not.  We're terrified of things that aren't the least big threatening when we understand them. 

Let the experiment begin!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Under construction . . .

Welcome!  After 14 books with Harlequin and Love Inspired Historicals, I took a leap of faith and jumped over to single title contemporary romance. I'm happy to say that my next book is called Until I Found You, and it's being pubbed by Bethany House in May 2014. 

I'm smack in the middle of redoing everything from my website to bookmarks. Until things here are up and running, my current website is