I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tag, You're It!

Ah, those were the good old days of summer: playing tag in the front yard. Sometimes with the sprinkler running.

I'm obsessed with a different type of Tag this summer, the kind that appears in a book. You see, I'm still scurrying to get a manuscript completely revised and (hopefully) polished a bit -- and no, this isn't even the Genesis finalling manuscript. My head is bowed in shame.

Anyhoo, Tags can be an effective way to convey movement, emotion, and even romantic tension in a story, all in an itty bitty one-liner. These descriptive phrases are often woven through narrative or (my favorite use) placed between beats of dialogue. Sometimes readers don't even notice them, but some have said a reader can "feel" a good Tag.

What do I mean? Well, here's a lame example. My Regency heroine does not like a particular gentleman one bit, but he's pursuing her. Which sounds stronger, "She didn't like him staring at her" or "His intense gaze stirred the contents of her stomach?"

While it may not be my finest example, hopefully you'd vote for the second choice.

Helping me with my Tag Improvement is The Romance Writer's Phrase Book: The Essential Source Book for Every Romantic Novelist by Jean Kent and Candace Shelton, romance novelists who made it their quest to create better descriptive phrases. The book is chock full of lists of tags, categorized by emotions, physical characteristics, movement and color.

Perusing it, I wondered if the authors ever feared that their phrases would be stolen, but they consider this a workbook. They urge the reader to mark up the book and make it their own.

Which I'm trying to do. If you're a writer struggling with improving your manuscript, this book might be a welcome addition to your summer reading pile.

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Today over on Inkwell, I've got a post on the worst hotel I've ever stayed in. Yet God gave me an unexpected, lifelong gift at this hotel...and no, it wasn't an allergy to bedbugs. It was a good gift! Pop over to check it out!

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If you're a writer, are you working on an aspect of your craft this summer? Have you found any good resources you'd like to share?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ken and Edward: The Movie Men of My Summer

Ken appearance in Toy Story 3.Image via Wikipedia

What summer movies are you gearing up to see?

At my house, we're excited for the release of "Toy Story 3," which comes out next Friday. I'm not ashamed to admit that "Toy Story 2" is one of my favorite movies, and I'm not saying this because I've watched it 800 times with my kids. It also has heart, a touching backstory woven through it, and a tight plot which is inspiring to me as a writer.

This next installment has kindled my hopes for a few hours of family-friendly entertainment -- and perhaps a dose of further inspiration. And laughs. One of the new characters, the Ken doll, has the potential to go down as one of my all-time favorite movie men. I mean, just look at him! He's got attitude. Dialogue. And an ascot.

While I can't take the kids with me, I will definitely occupy a theater seat sometime in July for a screening of "Twilight: Eclipse." Yes, I know, the movie isn't based on an inspy book, but I am not immune to Edward Cullen's charms.

I found a new trailer and wanted to embed it (please forgive the fact that the titles are a bit off-center. I couldn't fix it, and the actors come across fine, so I let it go.). Can anyone tell me: does it sound like Carlisle Cullen has a British accent? And what do you think of the engagement ring? Wowzers.



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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To Use an Alias or Not: Character Therapy at the Inkwell

Today Jeannie Campbell, award-winning writer and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is visiting the Inkwell. She's a generous person who uses her skills to help numerous writers, including me: she's evaluated two of my heroes on her blog, The Character Therapist. Her topic today on Inkwell Inspirations is name-recognition: if you're a writer, what goes into your choice to use an alias?

There are several reasons to use a pseudonym, such as setting yourself apart from an author with a similar name, fulfilling a publisher's request, or to protect your privacy. Reasons to not use a pseudonym? Standing on the platform you've built in your business, being able to "take your name with you" if you change publishing houses, and having an internet track record are a few reasons to keep your own name.

What's Jeannie's take? Come visit the Inkwell and check it out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Heimlich Maneuver Day!

Welcome to June. What a month! According to my calendar, June is the month to celebrate roses, dads, grads, dairy alternatives, potty training awareness, and accordian awareness. This week kicks off International Clothesline Week, and soon we'll gear up for Carpenter Ant Awareness Week (the 20-26, so get ready!). Today is the official day to honor the worthy and life-saving Heimlich Maneuver! Whew!

For me, June is also a month of craziness. Vacation Bible School. Sports. The long-anticipated release of the Harry Potter Lego Wii game (my kids have counted down the days). Regular school is out this week, too, so we're enjoying a wealth of picnics, BBQs, assemblies, pizza parties, swim parties, softball games vs the teachers, wrapping teacher presents, and fatigue. I am already wishing I didn't have to cook dinner tonight. Or ever again.

The weather isn't the only thing warming me up. So is the pressure I've placed on myself, writing-wise. I have a bit on my plate. Two manuscripts, in fact. One needs revision and another needs to just plain old get finished. I got some excellent feedback from two contests I recently entered, which has given me food for thought. But thought needs to turn to action, and fast. My self-imposed deadlines are encroaching and frankly, I'm a bit overwhelmed.

So if I'm not around much this week, I apologize now. The summer crazies have begun.

How do you deal with writing-pressure? Or balance your life?