Thursday, December 31, 2009


I don't know about all of you, but I'm ready for this new year to begin. 2009 was a turbulent year for me: a lot of high highs and low lows. It's time to move forward and look to the future.

I know it's customary to set resolutions for ourselves. Have any of you thought about the goals you'd set? I've hardly had time to think about it. But one thing has been on my mind: to lose weight! I'll be looking into Weight Watchers, which is something a friend of mine is doing. On top of that, I'd like to exercise more.

As for my hopes and dreams:

I HOPE that my weight loss is a success (I'm tired of people asking when I'm due; my stomach never went down after the last baby--every woman's nightmare--and that was two years ago, ugh. They pumped me with steroids during my postpartum state, and my body just froze. So, that's my excuse for it. Hopefully, exercise and eating less will do the trick).

And my DREAM is to finally be published. But not just published. I want my story to touch lives and be a success.

I have yet to hear from two publishers about my book The Master's Wall, and I'm praying for positive news. One of them said they'd get back to me after the first of the year. Wish I could prompt them to get back to me on the FIRST of the year. All this waiting has been painful. But 2010 means I'm that much closer to finding out! Again, I pray it's positive news. Maybe you can pray that as well!

So, tell me. What are your goals for 2010?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Want a Sample?

I'm working on book two, YAHSHUA'S BRIDGE, in my IRON AND THE STONE series. Thought it might be fun to share an excerpt.

Alexander (the main character in this book) is special to me. He's a true hero. In fact, I think he's my favorite above all the characters in this series (yes, even above David "Wendy, stop screaming"). The song here makes me think of Alexander-it inspires me.

HOLD MY HEART by Tenth Avenue North

Here's the excerpt.


Chapter One

Rome, 88 A.D.

Alexander held his breath as the man he'd never call Daddy forced him under the water. The fist in his hair shook his head from side to side and bubbles beat against his face. His head jerked to the surface from his master's fierce grip. His mamma's screams echoed off the nearby columns, and his face plunged back into the watery depths of the impluvium. Would this fountain become his grave?

This ritual of forced drowning had become so frequent that Alexander learned to hold his breath for a long time. With his mamma witnessing this spectacle, he couldn't help but wonder if she'd rather have the master's fists pounding her body as they so often did. But Alexander couldn't stand by as his mamma suffered a beating from her drunken master. It didn't matter that he was just a child and could do nothing to overpower the man. The goal was to make him stop. And he wasn't hitting her anymore, so that was good.

He released a bit of air to ease the tension in his lungs, to ease the need to gasp. But it didn't help. It never helped.

He quit thrashing. Usually if he held still for a long time, the master would pull him out, thinking he was dead. He let his arms float to the surface and his legs relax behind him. With the edge of the fountain pressing against his midriff, it made holding his breath that much more difficult. He wanted to thrash, but he forced himself to go limp like a dead rat.

He waited.

Enough time had passed for his act to become believable. But the master didn't pull him out. Maybe this was it. Maybe this time he'd actually die.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wisdom Gleaned from 2009

Another year has blown by, so I thought it'd be fun to share what I have learned—or relearned—this year:

If your gut tells you someone can't be trusted, listen to your gut.

If someone has falsely accused you of doing wrong, it's possible they're the ones who are guilty.

Some folks who aren't Christians have a better understanding of Christ-like behavior.

Some folks just don't know how to be loved.

Church-goers (including myself) are all just a bunch of sinners hoping to get into heaven.

If someone's behavior is hurting you, you have likely behaved the same (whether knowingly or unknowingly).

Remembering the times when you wronged someone else will help you to forgive when someone has wronged you.

When you screw up, don't just say you're sorry to God, but apologize to the one you've wronged—and mean it.

None of us are perfect, and that's why we need Christ.

If you sincerely ask God to help you do the right thing, He will.

When you're tempted to do the wrong thing, God will remind you; warning bells and sirens will go off in your head.

If you choose to ignore the warning bells, God won't stop you from doing wrong because He's given you a wonderful gift . . . FREE WILL.

God doesn't want puppets for his children. He wants His children to come to Him willingly.

If you're inflicted with a depilating/deadly disease, it does not mean God has forgotten you.

God doesn't fit into a box; He can do more than we think or imagine.

What have you learned this year? Feel free to post your list. I'd love to learn something new from you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I want to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE . . . .

AAAARRRRG! WRITE! But I guess I'm gonna have to take a break because it's Christmas!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday, December 18, 2009



CONGRATULATIONS, girl! I'm sure you'll LOVE The Silent Governess. I know I will! Julie's books are amazing!

I'll contact you via email. I'll need your snail-mail address so Julie can send you her book.


Sunday, December 13, 2009


Remember that new author I'd discovered a few posts down? The one who writes stories like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters? Think Pride and Predjudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights!

Well, drum roll please *~*~*~*~*~ I'm excited to introduce JULIE KLASSEN on my blog! You'll find a list of all her books on the right, with her latest release of The Silent Governess at the top.

Here's Julie in her own words:

My background is in advertising and marketing, but I am blessed with a dream job—working as an editor of Christian fiction. I have been writing since childhood, but Lady of Milkweed Manor was my first novel. It was a finalist for a Christy Award and won second place in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards. My second novel, The Apothecary's Daughter, was a finalist in the ACFW Book of the Year awards. I am currently writing one novel a year.

I graduated from the University of Illinios and enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps and coffee with friends.

My husband and I have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

After thoroughly enjoying her first two books, The Lady of Milkweed Manor and the Apothecary's Daughter, I'm waiting with panted breath to read The Silent Governess! Here's what it's about: 

Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

Doesn't that sound exciting? I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Now, please join me for an interview with a supremely talented author. Remember: If you leave a comment with your email address listed, you'll be entered to win her latest release The Silent Governess.

Julie, welcome to my blog. I'm honored and absolutely thrilled to have you here. So, please tell us, how long have you been writing? How did you get your start?

I have been writing on and off since childhood, but didn’t get serious about it until my husband was laid off several years ago. (Necessity really is the mother of invention!) In the meantime, I worked as an editor for Bethany House Publishers. I have learned so much from other authors and from reviewing and editing manuscripts—all of which, I believe, have made me a better writer.

When I (secretly) wrote my first historical, Bethany House was my hoped-for publisher. Since I work with the people who would be reviewing my novel, I submitted it under a pseudonym so that if it was accepted, it would be done so objectively. Of course, this also allowed me to cower under the protection of anonymity in case it was rejected! Fortunately, they liked it, and published Lady of Milkweed Manor in 2007, followed by The Apothecary’s Daughter in ’08 and now, The Silent Governess.

What made you decide to write fiction?

I’m a big believer in writing what you love. I have always been a fiction reader and especially enjoy novels with strong romantic elements, so that’s what I write.

What made you choose this particular genre?

I write historical fiction, set in England. I like anchoring novels to historical realities, and revealing interesting aspects of the way people used to live. I find 19th century views on women, medicine, education, and so much more, very interesting. And readers seem to as well.

I’m not sure why I am fascinated with England. Perhaps because I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre at an early age and so enjoy the works of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens.

How did things change once you became a published author? Did you lose friends? Make friends? How did it affect your family?

My life is certainly busier! Even though I have worked in publishing for years, I really had no idea how much work being a writer really was. Not only the research, writing, and revising itself, but also all the promotion components that go along with it. And don’t get me started about taxes! My husband and sons are supportive, but I still struggle to balance the competing demands of family, work, church, and writing. I haven’t lost friends, but nor do I get to see them as often as I once did. I have also made several wonderful new writer-friends, which has been such a help and a blessing.

Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?

I have written in coffee shops, hotels, and libraries. But mostly I write in the cluttered dining room—the only room with a door to help shut out the sounds of boy-noise and video games. Now that my sons are in school, and I am working only part-time, I can sometimes write during the day. But I usually end up writing at night, after the boys are in bed, unless I have a BBC period drama from Netflix.…

How did you come up with the story for The Silent Governess?

Even though I rarely listen to classical music, the original idea for this novel was inspired by Mahler’s Third Symphony, which I heard on a long, solo car trip. As I listened, whole scenes spun forth like a movie in my mind.

Also, having been intrigued by English governesses ever since my 6th grade teacher read Jane Eyre aloud to us (with real emotion and even mascara-tears), I thoroughly enjoyed researching real-life governesses. This research also shaped the story of The Silent Governess.

What are you working on now?
Since completing The Silent Governess, I’ve been playing catch-up at home and at work. I have also begun a fourth novel, similarly set in early 19th-century England. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but will post more information on my web site when I can.

Julie, thank you so much for stopping by and giving us a chance to get to know you!

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address in order to win a signed copy of The Silent Governess. I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Friday, December 11, 2009


CATHI H! You're the proud winner of Golden Keyes Parsons' book The Prisoner of Versailles!

Please contact me at, and I'll set you up with Golden to receive your book!


Monday, December 7, 2009


Please welcome Golden Keyes Parsons, a talented author of Inspirational Fiction. Don't you just love her name? I had the honor of meeting Golden at the ACFW conference in September, and I have to say, she's as beautiful as her name--not only in person, but also in spirit.

Her recent historical novel, A Prisoner of Versaille, was released in August. If you want to get your hands on it, just leave a comment with your email address, and you'll be entered into a drawing to receive a free, signed copy of her book!

Having fled their homeland of France because of the persecution by Louis XIV, the Clavell family seeks refuge in Switzerland. However, the king is not about to let the recently widowed Madeleine, his childhood sweetheart, escape that easily. He sends musketeers to kidnap her and her oldest son, Philippe, holding them captive in his opulent palace. King Louis is suspicious that Philippe could be his son, and he's enraged by the growing affection of one of his courtiers for Madeleine. Will Madeleine escape the king with her life or lose everything that she's fought so hard to keep?

Golden, it's an honor to have you with us today. So, how long have you been writing? How did you get your start?

I grew up in a newspaper family. My grandfather, my dad and all his brothers were newspaper owners, editors and published authors. There were essays, manuscripts, newspapers, books and magazines stacked all over our house. I was writing feature articles for our little hometown newspaper at nine years of age. I won several essay contests in school, and had some small articles published along the way. However, when I started speaking professionally in 1996, I was told that I needed to seek publication in earnest.

What made you decide to write fiction?

I loved reading fiction as a child. My mother taught me to read a little Donald Duck book when I was four years old, and I was hooked. I spent hours at the public library and participated in every reading program they offered. I fell asleep every night reading -- still do :) I devoured the typical books that young girls loved -- Black Beauty, all the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Clara Barton novels -- but I also read such things as 1984 by George Orwell, Dr. Zhivago and Gone With The Wind. However, as I grew into adulthood I began to read almost exclusively non-fiction. My spiritual gift is teaching, so it followed that my first efforts at writing professionally were non-fiction articles, Bible studies, Christian living books. I had several articles published in good magazines ... Marriage Partnership, Angels On Earth, HomeLife ... and got close to publication on a couple of my books. But never a contract.

A few years ago, I inherited a published genealogy of my mother's side of the family and read about my French Huguenot ancestors, of whom I had not been aware previously -- and wanted to tell the story in my favorite genre, historical fiction. I took a few chapters to my critique group, and they were blown away. The consensus was 100% that this was where I needed to be. So, I began to pursue publication in the fiction genre.

By the way, in my opinion, writing fiction is much more difficult than writing non-fiction.

How did things change once you became a published author? Did you lose friends? Make friends? How did it affect your family?

As a published author, there is a certain amount of respect that comes from people like bookstore owners, educators, and fellow authors that was not there before.

I also became much more observant of words, phrases and story. I am constantly writing things down that strike my fancy, especially from movies.

Did I lose friends? No, not that I know of. However, I quickly became aware of the fact that no one understands a writer, except another writer. If a writer tries to explain POV, for example, to a non-writer, you can almost see their eyes glaze over. There's just no way to be able to communicate what it's like to be a writer, driven by conveying ideas and stories through words, except to another author. Only another writer knows what it is like to struggle to find the correct word; or to wake up at night with one's characters living out the story in one's head; or to sit in front of a computer for hours on end and not realize that the whole morning has passed by.

Did I make friends? Absolutely. The networking at such conferences as ACFW and the CLASS Christian Writing Conference and the Christian Writers Guild is invaluable. I've made many, many friends since becoming a published author.

How did it affect my family? Well, our children were grown and gone by the time I started writing professionally -- and my husband is my biggest supporter -- so as far as our daily lives, it just meant that when the door is closed to my office, don't bother me! My hat is off to those who write with small children at home. I don't know how they do it.

Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?

I have two places that I write. I have an office where I work if I need to print out copies, because that's where the printer is set up. But much of the time I take my laptop into the den and write from my recliner.
My favorite time of day to write hands down is early in the morning. I get up anywhere from 5 am to 6:30, spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour reading my Bible and praying, then write usually until 10:30 or 11, with a break to eat a little breakfast and get dressed. Then I go work out around 11, come home, eat lunch and work on marketing and emails in the afternoon.

How did you come up with the story for A Prisoner of Versailles?

My original intention was for the Clavells to travel to the New World in Book Two, but because Louis XIV was such a colorful character, my editor asked me to stay in Europe and include him again in the second book. So I had to think of some way to do that. When in my research I read that Louis actually sent spies into Switzerland to bring the Huguenots back into France, I had my hook.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the edits for Book Three.

What do you see in your future as an author? Do you have concrete ideas for more books you'd like to write on down the line, or do you plan out a book only after you've decided to write one?

I would like to continue to write historicals. I have an interest in writing about women in various religious sects, but that is only in the idea stage.

Golden, it was such a pleasure to have you join us today. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a little about yourself.

If you'd like to get to know more about Golden, you can find her at her website. It's there you'll discover some amazing facets about Golden and her ministry.

For those that would like to receive a signed copy of Golden's book, A Prisoner of Versailles, be sure to leave a comment and your email address. I'll announce the winner on Friday.
Good luck to those that enter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Americans would consider this the "Dutch Christmas" because this is the day children (if they're good) receive presents from Sinterklaas (Santa Claus).

It all begins mid-November when Sinterklaas arrives from Spain on his steamboat. He brings, not just gifts, but his white horse, and his zwarte pieten (black Peters; they're Santa's little helpers and are black from going down so many chimneys).

When they arrive, the black Peters carry switches for all the naughty children, and they throw pepernoten to all the good children. (I guess I should explain "pepernoten." These are mini "gingersnaps" that are round or square, and not flat.)

The thought of little black men carrying around switches to spank naughty children sounds kind of scary (and if you're really naughty, you get put in Sinterklaas' sack and brought back to Spain with him!), but that aspect about them is overwhelmed with the goodies they pass out to ALL the children. They do tricks, ride unicycles, act silly, toss pepernoten to the people, etc--really, they're comparable to clowns.

Every evening after Sinterklaas' arrival, children set their shoes out for the night. Sometimes they'll leave a carrot for Sinterklaas' horse, and they sing a song, asking him to come and leave them something. Some mornings children awake to pepernoten in their shoes, straw, candy, chocolate letters, or a small toy.

On the evening of December 5th, children enjoy time with family (singing songs, playing games, etc), then a hard knock sounds on the door: BANG, BANG, BANG! Children either run to the door, or get scared a run away from it. When they, or the parents, open the door, they find a big burlap sack full of toys! Whoo, hooo!

What do the Dutch do on December 25th? They celebrate the birth of Christ. They have Christmas trees and all of that, but they don't exchange gifts on Christmas. Also, they have TWO Christmas days! December 25th and the 26th! Nice, huh?

Don't you just love the differences in cultures? It's interesting how we all have one thing in common, Santa Claus.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sleepwalking: A silly bike story

One morning I climbed out of bed to take my two-year-old to preschool. I'd enrolled her in preschool so she'd pick up on the Dutch language (I spoke English at home). So, I fed her, got her dressed and loaded her on the bike. I dropped her off, and right across the street was the grocery store--the Albert Heijn.  There were some items I needed, so I decided to head on over there. In the photo above, you can't see the preschool, but it's on the right, across the street. Because it was so close, I decided to walk.

I crossed the street, pushing my bike, and then I went into the store. As I walked along, a man looked at me, looked away, then looked at me again. Surely, my hair and clothes weren't in that bad of shape. Yes, I'd just crawled out of bed, or felt like I had, but there was no call for anyone to take extra notice of me. Another couple walked by and gave me a strange look. Well, maybe I did look pretty bad. Finally, one woman's eyes darted downward and rested on me, or whatever it was she saw, so I also looked down. To my surprise, I was still pushing my bike! I'd walked my bike into the grocery store.

I chuckled and managed to get the words out in Dutch, "I'm not awake yet." It think it was my first official Dutch joke. The woman laughed, so it must have worked. Well, I managed to get the bike turned around and parked it outside where it belonged. After that, I was definitely awake.

I thought of adding a little "sermon" to this sleepwalking expedition, something along the lines of, "How often are we spiritually sleepwalking?" But I don't feel like preaching today. Maybe you all can come up with something. If it's not a spiritual comparison, that's okay too. :-)

Had any wake-up calls lately?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

DUTCH TALES: My Transportation

This was my "car" in Holland.

Before my husband and I left for the Netherlands back in 1993, we sold our car in the States and used that money to buy bicycles in Holland. I had a bicycle very similar to the one above, only mine was a flashy maroon.

It was there that I learned to ride on the streets alongside cars (with no helmet). I'd have one kid in the front, and one in the back, and a stroller hooked onto the back, along with grocery bags and a basket filled with groceries. When my bike wasn't loaded, I'd be trucking down the street, and I'll never forget when it happened more than once that an old man would fly by on his bike as if I wasn't moving!

The above is what a typical bike path looks like in Holland. And yes, the road is right next to it (really, it was a part of the street, just a different color). It took me a while to get comfortable riding so close to cars--especially with my children on my bike. Yikes! We'd ride through all kinds of weather--even rain and snow. Boy, was that "fun."

I got used to riding on the streets after I took a job delivering pizzas. I was thrilled to find a Dominos Pizza in our home town of Eindhoven. It was managed by an American, and he spoke English to all his employees. English! Aaaahhh. That was nice. Oh, and so was the pizza! Anyway, I delivered the pizza on a moped. I'd always wanted a motorcycle, and this sort of met that "need." I was their first female driver, and it was GREAT!

Imagine busy city streets (something similar to New York City). Yes, that's very much what it was like, only on a smaller scale. Streets are smaller and so is the city, oh . . . and so are the cars. :-) This is a picture of Eindhoven, where we used to live. I've been on this very street! As you can see, this one doesn't have bike paths. Aaack! (If you click on the picture, you can get a closer look.)

When we moved to Soesterberg, we lived in a small village. That's when some of the bike paths were set farther away from the streets. To go shopping (not grocery shopping; each village had it's own grocery store) in the nearest town (Zeist), I rode 20 minutes through woods similar to the picture above.

Sometimes we found trails as beautiful as this photo.

I've got some silly stories to share about my biking experiences in Holland. But this post is long enough. I'll share some later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

His Gift, Not Mine!

The following story isn't easy to share, but I will anyway. In fact, I didn't post sooner because it took a few days to sort it all out in my mind and heart.

The girl had spent hours wrapping her gift. She made sure the white paper was smooth with no wrinkles. She'd worked her fingers raw to get the bow on just right, retying it at least ten times. One loop stretched over her thumb, and she cringed when she noticed it was still longer than the other. No time to fix it again because the double-doors opened to the master's throne room.

Taking a deep breath, the girl stepped inside. The majestic chamber spread out before her. Diamonds and sapphires sparkled on the walls, rays of sunshine lanced through the vaulted windows, and the scent of lavender made the tension in her body melt away like snow on her tongue.

At the far end of the room the master sat on his throne. He leaned forward and motioned for her to come.

Holding the gift out, she stepped toward him.

Eyes twinkling, the master smiled as she put the small box in his large hands.

"Thank you." He took the bow between his fingers and pulled.

"Careful." The girl reached out, but yanked her hand back.

The master stopped pulling on the ribbon.

"Sorry. It's just that . . . it was a lot of work tying that thing."

He chuckled and plucked at the bow.

"Here, let me help you." The girl pulled on the ribbon until the bow disappeared. She looked up at the master.

He smiled down on her, still holding the gift.

"The paper is very delicate. Maybe I should help you unwrap it?"

The master held out the box to her, and she unwrapped the gift.

She lifted out what she had so painstakingly made, and he smiled, admiring it. As he reached for the gift, she snatched it back and said, "Let me take care of this for you."


I'm sorry to say, I'm that little girl. You see, I wrote a story (the series I've been working on and put an excerpt of below). Well, I wrote it for God. Not because He needed entertainment, but to win people over to Him, to please Him. I've spent years perfecting the craft just so I could write this one, special story. Do I have other stories in me? Yes. But this one was my special gift for Him.

Right when I finished the first book of the series, I stumbled upon a publisher that wanted it, and I'd barely finished typing the last word! So, I cleaned it up as fast as I could and shipped it off to the publisher, only later finding a gazillion typos in the thing. Just like that crooked bow. Ugh. Well, about a month later, I heard that they wanted to publish it! I was thrilled!

After some email problems and simple misunderstandings, I felt I needed to help God out. To make a long story short, I got an agent and decided to go to the bigger houses with it. So, I took my manuscript and ran, seeing dollar signs and my book sitting on the shelves at Borders and B&N.

Well, I started networking, building up a new blog for writers, got active on all my loops, joined more programs, and dove into every little thing the big houses suggest writers do, which means "no time for writing." I became tired and overwhelmed, and at one point I'd lost the whole reason "why" I wrote this story. To serve God. To please Him and make Him smile.

During all of this, that small press came knocking on my door a few times, asking for an update, but I brushed them off, thinking God needed a little hand. After all, how could He sell my book unless I went through a big press?

As I knocked on all their doors, the big houses all liked my writing, calling me things like "an accomplished writer." One editor said, she didn't really like first century stories, but was surprised how well this one "sucked her in." Etc. But . . . either they weren't publishing this era of fiction, or they already had an author who wrote in that time period, or their lists were full.

Remember that one editor I really, really wanted? Well, she LIKED my story, but didn't have room for it. But . . . she liked it! That to me is a huge compliment coming from her. I also think they're wanting more suspense novels.

After that, I had yet to hear from Zondervan, and by this time . . . I was discouraged. Even without having heard from Zondervan, I wanted to go back to that small press. But I was hesitant because as a small press just stepping out in the publishing world, I wouldn't sell nearly as many books as I would through a larger house. God needs help! Or . . . maybe He doesn't? He is God after all. He's a lot bigger than those "big houses." Hmm. So, I told my agent that I was 85-90 percent sure I wanted to go with the small press and would she give Zondervan a call and get an answer. At this time, I found out that the editor's workload at Zondervan, just doubled. So, even before my agent made the call, we both knew what the answer would be. Yep, you guessed it. "No." But, allow me to add for my own pride's sake, even she said she liked my writing. Whew!

So, I'm going with the small press. Now the question is, do they still want my story. I won't know until after the first of the year.

What I've learned: I have other stories I've written for myself, but I wrote this one for God. Well, I'm going to let Him have it and quit trying to do what I think is best. It's His story. I'll finish the other two books with just as much passion and pleasure on the pages, and hand it over to Him as His gift. I'll let him open it Himself and let Him do what He wants with it.

My prayer now is that it will please Him.

P.S. I never would have come to this conclusion so quickly and smoothly without the council and guidance of my bestest friend, Wendy flower.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Living the Dream

<---Photo: compliments of my sister. Taken by Ralph Lake who is living his dream.

When I was lamenting my rejections and feeling like I was falling short of the mark, I got this wonderful email from Jim Rubart, marketing guru. He's done work for Disney, Apple, HP, etc) and I had the pleasure of meeting him at the ACFW conference in September. I took one of his workshops, and I have to add: he's quite the magician!

Anyway, he gave me permission to share what he said with all of you below. The following is for those who are living their dream (specifically writers).


You’re not falling short.

The ones that don’t dare to dream never submit. They never write. If they do write they never finish. They never revise. They never lay their heart out to be hurt.

You are living the dream.

Rejection is HARD because it feels so personal. It is personal to you, but not to them. What I mean by that is it has so much to do with:

Market timing—in a few years Biblical time period books could be all the rage

Slots—sometimes their calendar is full

Taste—I had one editor that loved my writing, but just didn’t like the type of story I’d written

Bad day—yes, something as random as someone on the pub board being in a bad mood

MistakeSteve Laube talks about turning down Jan Karon and Ted Dekker as examples of simply being wrong. (Steve’s talk “Redeeming Rejection” is an EXCELLENT talk if you can get a hold of it.)

So hang in there and continue to dare to dream. (I love the picture and text on your blog.)

Jim Rubart


Thank you, Jim, for allowing me to share your email with all my lovely followers. If any of you wish to follow Jim's blog, go here:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Excerpt from The Master's Wall

I thought it might be fun to share an excerpt from my novel The Master's Wall.

This is a special scene to me for a number of reasons. I hope it touches you as well. The wall that David and Alethea are sitting on is about ten feet high. It surrounds the villa where David is enslaved. This wall is supposed to keep people in and keep people out. There's something humorous about that fact in this scene. This is their secret place.

Here's a book jacket description for you, followed by the excerpt.

Rome 80 A.D.

After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. David trains to become a great fighter. He works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts David with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan--sacrifice his own life to save hers.


"Well, I'm glad I don't have any sin." Alethea swung her legs as she sat on the wall. She thought to scoot in closer to David so her arm might brush against his. Instead, she basked in his scent of leather and pine.

David rested his elbows on his knees and watched her, but Alethea avoided his gaze.

"No one is without sin." He leaned toward her. "No one."

She glanced at him from the corner of her eye, but quickly refocused her attention on the horizon. "It doesn't make sense." She shrugged. "Why make someone die when he could clap his hands and say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' and be done with it?"

David stared at her for a while, his mouth closed as if tasting her words.

Shifting under his scrutinizing gaze, she leaned forward and watched the birds soar and dance on the air in front of them.

A gentle breeze caressed her cheek as David lifted her chin. He forced her to look at him. His blue eyes fixated on hers.

"Passion," he said.

Alethea took a long shuddering breath.

"What shows greater love?" He continued to hold her chin. "Someone who sacrifices himself to save your life, or just claps his hands?"

Thanks for reading and allowing me to share. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Do you have a special scene in your own work that touches you?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Update on publishing

Got a rejection from Harvest House. They didn't want a story that took place in Bible times (even though my story isn't a Bible story, doesn't have Bible characters in it, nor do I use miracles to fix difficult plot issues). And didn't they know it took place in this era when they asked for a full? I'm confused.

Also, Moody Press rejected it because it doesn't fit their "current publishing plans." *sigh* To be honest, I had no idea Moody was looking at it! LOL

Anyway, it's disappointing, but such is life.

I'm still waiting to hear from Karen at B&H. She's the one I really, really, really want. And Zondervan has it as well.

We'll see what God has in mind.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dare to Dream

Does this picture look real to you? It seems like a picture taken from a children's book. But it is real. And I've been there. (I also added the text to the picture with my new found knowledge of picnik, thank-you-very-much.)

I first saw a picture of this castle in High School. It was on a calendar in my history class. I begged the teacher for it, and he gave it to me. It didn't say anywhere on the calendar where the picture came from (the page had been torn out), so I had no idea where to find this castle.

Despite that, I knew, one day I'd see it.

And I did.

I later discovered that this castle is the replica Walt Disney used for his Disney castle. It is called Neuschwanstein and is located in southern Bavaria, Germany.

I decided to put one of these pictures up as my header for this blog and title it "Dare to Dream."

I want to inspire all of you to dare to dream. To reach for the stars. If you set your sights on the stars, you might just land on the moon, and that wouldn't be a bad spot to land, now would it?

I came from a broken home, my father was abusive, and I wanted to die when I was five. Now I belong to Christ. My heavenly Father pulled me out of all that muck and mire. And now I'm dancing with the bright Morning Star. He is my Savior and He holds me in His hand. He made my dreams come true.

I dreamed of seeing this castle, knowing nothing about it or where to find it. I believed I would see it. Now, I've stood in its bailey, walked through its halls, and touched its stone walls.

Faith is a powerful thing. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the castle in my Father's Kingdom. Not because I've done anything deserving of it, but because He promised to let me in.

What are your dreams?

Adding text to a picture and other things

I needed a change! I hope you all like it. Personally, I'd rather have a castle or some such historical monument with dramatic font in the text, but this will have to do for now.

Some wanted to know how to add text to a picture. Go to: There you can download a picture for free, crop it, color it or put it in black and white, or add a text inside it! There you can choose the font and color of the text as well. Isn't that awesome?

I learned all of this from my oldest daughter, Whitney. What would we do without our kids to teach us these things, huh?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I did it!

Okay, well I figured out how to put the text inside the picture. The red might be a bit much, though. I wonder how blue would look? As for centering the picture . . . that's another story. And if you're wondering what I'm talking about, see previous post. I'll be changing the template and cleaning things up a bit, but right now, it's late.

Time for bed.

Wooden Shoe Picture

Like my new picture? You're looking at my kids. Yes, I have four. Allow me to introduce them to you, starting at the left: Aaron (9, and yes, the only boy, poor thing), Whitney (16), Kirsten (12), and little Chelsea (2). Aren't they cute?

Anyway, I'm having quite a time trying to move the text and center the picture. For some reason, blogger doesn't like their pictures centered. Ugh. If anyone of you has any tips, please let me know. I'm also interested in learning how to put text inside of a picture. As you can see, the text that blogger wishes to use insists on being where it is. Another, ugh.

All I know is, I've seen some pretty amazing pictures with great texts in/on the pictures on other blogger blogs and in the appropriate spots. Now, why can't I do that?

I'm just not computer savvy. I guess I'll stick to writing. (Got three chapters done in the last week, by the way. Oh, and I'm still waiting to hear from all those lovely editors. Life in publishing is slow. I'm not going to pray for patience, in case that's what you're wondering. No way!)

P.S. I'm also attempting to change the subtitle, but it won't let me back on. How rude!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are you suffering from "Networking Fatigue?"

We were discussing "networking" on one of my writing loops, and someone mentioned that folks are bombarded by emails, spam, ads (whatever you wish to call it) to the point that this sort of marketing is causing "networking fatigue" for readers. Others suggested that writers need to find other creative outlets in order to capture readers' interest.

Hmm. How can I become more "creative" in marketing my book? Hmm? *thinking, thinking, thinking*

How about taking a look at it from the networker's perspective? Not only are the receivers overwhelmed with looking at the same things all the time and becoming desensitized, maybe the networkers are exhausted and not getting any cotton pickin' writing done?

Ding! Ding! Ding! "Yes! That's me! That's me, folks!"

I'm exhausted trying to run two blogs, twitter, Facebook, a gazillion writing loops, etc. It's also very addicting to where I find myself spending so much time checking emails and "networking" (it's hard not to like these people and develop relationships) that I've lost my focus on craft and "why" and for "Whom" I'm writing.

Yes, I know I need to develop a "tribe" so when I do get that book published I can market it to all these folks. But whatever happened to the most valuable marketing plan? You know. The one between the pages?

As for me, I can build this great platform, but if my book is just average or even stinks, readers aren't going to read it anyway. So, what's the point? And if you're one of those folks who can do both, more power to you.

How can I be more "creative" about how I'm going to market my book? I've decided here and now: become a GREAT storyteller.Yes, if you haven't noticed, I'm suffering from networking fatigue.

Can anyone else relate, or am I all alone?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


You're the lucky winner of The Swiss Courier.

My husband drew your name out of our daughter's wooden shoe. For those that don't know, my husband is Dutch and we lived in Holland for thirteen years. The shoe is a bit scuffed from being worn, but it's one of the pretty ones.

Edwina, please contact me via email at sandirog7 at aol dot com. I'm going to need your snail mail address so you can receive a signed copy of The Swiss Courier.

(If you click on the picture, you can see the name better.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm excited to interview Mike Yorkey, co-author of The Swiss Courier. Even more exciting, if you leave a comment, I'll enter your name in a drawing to win a signed copy of this intriguing suspense that will not only touch the romantic at heart, but keep you on the edge of your seat!


She’s risking her life to save a man she doesn’t know. But who can she trust along the way?

It is August 1944, and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich following the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life. Gabi Mueller is a young woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) in Basel, Switzerland. When she is asked to put herself in harm’s way to safely “courier” a German scientist working on the atomic bomb project into Allied hands, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

This fast-paced, suspenseful novel will whisk you along the treacherous twists and turns of a fascinating—and deadly—time in history.

A gripping, fast-paced tale of love, loyalty, and derring-do set in the waning days of the Second World War. I enjoyed everything about The Swiss Courier . . . the wonderful characters, the rich atmosphere, and the truly exciting story. A winner!”—Christopher Reich, New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Vengeance

Mike Yorkey is author or co-author of more than seventy books, including the Every Man’s Battle series and By the Sword, a thriller set in the Mideast. He lives in Encinitas, California, with his wife, Nicole, and they spend part of the year in her native Switzerland. They are the parents of two adult children.

You've mainly written non-fiction in the past. What made you decide to write fiction?

Mike: I’ve done something like 70 non-fiction books, including the Every Man’s Battle series, but The Swiss Courier is my second novel. Why try my hand at fiction? Because of the difficulty. The Swiss Courier wasn’t something banged out while I was on a retreat in the Swiss Alps. The manuscript took its fair share of rewriting and editing, which is where Tricia came in, and the complicated plot had to come together like a Swiss watch.

What made you choose the suspense/thriller genre?

: Because that’s my interest and my writing strength. Let’s put it this way: I could never write a romance novel. But I’ve always loved the big international thriller set in exotic locales with a big plot. I tried to write a novel that I wanted to read.

How long have you been writing? How did you get your start?

: I’ve been writing full-time, for a living, since 1982, when I was 28 years old. I started at a weekly newspaper, moved to Focus on the Family magazine as their editor in 1986, and then left Focus in 1997 and started my full-time book-writing career. But it all began in high school at La Jolla High (San Diego), when I tried my hand at writing features and sports stories for the student newspaper. I really thought I was going to be a sportswriter growing up, which is why I was a Journalism major at the University of Oregon.

You co-authored this book with Tricia Goyer, who has four World War II-era novels to her credit. How did that partnership happen?

: Five or six years ago, Tricia and I met online through the Writer’s View, a place where Christian writers, editors, and agents can gather online to bat around ideas and what’s happening out there. I had just finished writing my first novel, By the Sword, which is a Mideast thriller set in modern times about how Islamic elements in Iran want to take Islam back to its roots, which is conversion by the sword.

I was getting rejection after rejection for By the Sword, and Tricia helped point out why. I wrote and rewrote, and I eventually got By the Sword sold and published with Broadman and Holman in 2006. After that experience, Tricia and I started kicking around some ideas about a World War II novel, which was up my alley since I’ve always thought of myself as a Second World War buff.

Much of The Swiss Courier takes place in Switzerland in August 1944. Why Switzerland?

: My interest in Switzerland stems from being married to a Swiss native, Nicole, for 30 years, and our more than two dozen trips to her home country. Back in the early 1980s, before our two children arrived, we lived one year in Geneva and six months in Zurich so that I could experience Swiss culture. I did a variety of things, from working in a sporting goods shop to teaching tennis at a large indoor club.

One of the aspects about World War II that I’ve always been fascinated about is how Switzerland figured into the global conflict. I read several books about Switzerland’s role during World War II. Although Switzerland declared its neutrality after the invasion of Poland, the landlocked country had to be military prepared to defend her neutrality since Nazi Germany had already invaded several other “neutral” countries, including Belgium and Denmark. I learned that the U.S. set up an espionage network in Switzerland, headed by Allen Dulles, starting in 1943. In fact, all the Allied and Axis powers had spy networks operating in Switzerland during the war, and there was a “war of wits” that made for a lot of intrigue.

So there are a lot of spies in The Swiss Courier.

: You could say that. And a lot of double-crossing. As Tricia and I discussed plots, we came up with the idea of having someone with the OSS—the name for Dulles’ network—having to safely “courier” someone to safety from wartime Germany. That “someone” turned out to be a character named Gabi Mueller, the 24-year-old daughter of an American pastor and a Swiss mother who had grown up in Switzerland.

We also wanted to involve the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, which were the group of Christians—underground, naturally—who didn’t go along with the Nazi’s efforts to exterminate the Jewish people, among other things. Members of the Confessing Church worked with the OSS.

Is The Swiss Courier more for women or men?

: All along, Tricia and I wanted to write a good thriller . . . an action page-turner that women and men would enjoy reading, and we think we walked that tightrope well. There’s a hint of romance to involve women readers but more than enough action to keep guys engaged.

So who did what in the writing process for The Swiss Courier?

: Tricia and I did the plotting together, then I took the first swipe at writing each chapter, which Tricia would read, comment on, edit, and give me direction. Although it was a total team effort, we did not take turns writing chapters, which I think would have been unwieldy. You really need one hand on the plow, someone cranking out the book and having the freedom to do so. Tricia reacted to the content and played the role of general editor, but believe me, her fingerprints are all over this novel, especially in the “relationship” scenes between Gabi Mueller, our heroine, and her Swiss boyfriend, Eric Hofstadler.

Were their any disagreements?

: Surprisingly few. Tricia certainly had her point of view, but there was a nice spirit of cooperation. I will tell you that we had a major disagreement on how to end the book, which we got ironed out in the end. I can’t tell you more about the disagreement since it would spoil the ending of the book, but we butted heads. In the end, my point of view prevailed.

Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?

: I write from home. Sure, it would be nice to have an office, but I can’t afford to be paying rent. For many years, I worked in a cubby-hole off a family room, out in the open, with a room divider. The last year or so, I’ve been writing in Patrick’s old bedroom, which is the best. I have more privacy, plus I’m not invading Nicole’s “space.” It would be nice to have a bigger house, but with Southern California real estate being as it is, we have to make do with cramped quarters.

Mike, thank you for being willing to come for an interview.

So, there you have it folks! Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing to win a signed copy of Mike's book The Swiss Courier. For the drawing, be sure to leave your email address as follows: sandirog at aol dot com.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm almost afraid to share this

But if I don't, whose shoulder will I cry on if things don't go the way I want? So, I'm sharing!

I heard back from Julie from B&H. She said she liked what she read of both the first and second books, and told us to tell Karen Ball (yes, THEE Karen Ball) that she recommends my work! So, Karen now has my proposal and said she'll get back to us (me and my lovely agent Joyce Hart) next week.

For some reason, I'm a bit numb. I've known this since Monday and it's taken this long to say anything about it. Some say I'm in "protective mode." I think they're right. After all, it would be a dream come true to have Karen as an editor. And if she doesn't want my stories, I'll be heart broken. So, I'm gonna need you all to pray for me when I get the news, whether it's positive or negative.

In the meantime, please also pray that I'll trust in God's will for all this. You see, I know what I want, but is it what God wants?

We'll see!

Tired of all that blue

Yes, you're in the right place. I'm just tired of looking at all the blue! I needed a change. So, here it is. Now if I could just figure out how to get blogger to put my name in either all caps or at least capitalize the first letter!

Wish me luck.

Hope you like the new look!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm reading another great book!

One of my favorite books is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I'd say that's my favorite story above all stories. Didn't I already say that? Anyway, it's very romantic and really the best. Did I say it's my favorite? It's so awesome, I've read it more than once and watched the movie a gazillion times (the long mini-series version with Colin Firth). My kids have it memorized. E-hem. Not to their joy, either.

I take it by now you all know how much I love P&P. :-)

Well, I'm reading The Apothecary's Daughter by a fairly new author, Julie Klassen. Her work reminds me a little of P&P in that it's Regency romance. I'm only on Chapter Six, but I must say, I'm thoroughly enjoying it! I find myself thinking of the characters, anxious to get back to them, hoping and wondering what's going to happen. It's nice to look forward to reading a book!

When I'm finished, I'll let you all know what I think.

Anyone here read any good books lately?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All about the ACFW Conference

Boy, where do I begin?

First, allow me to introduce my lovely roommate Kathy Cretsinger. If you click on the image, it will take you to her blog. Kathy was such an encouragment to me. Love you, Kathy! xxx Okay, it was supposed to take you to her link, but it's not working. So, here it is:

I had an absolutely wonderful time at the ACFW Conference. It was exciting to meet so many of my cyber friends! I already felt close to ACFW members, but even more so now.

I'll get down to the nitty-gritty. Here's what happened to me at conference:

ABOUT B&H: I met with Julie Gwinn (Karen Ball's partner and marketing manager for B&H; for those that don't know, it'd be a dream come true to have Karen Ball as my editor) and she asked for a FULL of "The Master's Wall." I just happened to have a printed out copy that I made for the Donald Maass workshop and asked if she'd like to have it, or if she'd prefer I email it. She was very excited and said she wanted the hard copy. I also told her I had the first six chapters of the second book and asked if she'd like to have those as well. She said yes! So, she now has a hard copy of my full manuscript--she took it with her to her appointments during the conference, so I think she was reading it there.

Anyway, I explained that this is the first book to a two book series, and she asked if I could make a third because they only do three book series'. I said "yes," while inside I was begging God for the story! So, I'm supposed to send her a two paragraph description of the third book. Well, Saturday night after praying, God gave me an idea! It's a story I've wanted to write for years, but didn't because I was busy with my current WIPs. It's amazing how God works.

Pray Julie loves my story! I've been working on a description of the second and third book. I also need to revamp my proposal. It has to sell all three books. Laurie Alice has been a HUGE help in showing me how to do that. Thank you, Laurie Alice! xxx

So, PRAY! Don't pray that she likes my story, pray that she LOVES it! LOL

By the way, B&H has some awesome book trailers.


I met with Sue Brower who requested to meet with me via my agent. She really likes my story and my writing. Her only concern is being able to sell this to the publishing board. She made some suggestions for what I should add to my proposal, so I'm going to do that. After that, when the time is right (could take up to a year, she said), she'll approach the publishing board with it.


I spoke to Kim Moore who asked for a full from my agent (this happened before the conference). We were supposed to try and meet at the conference. I met with her in the dining room. She didn't remember who I was or my book. I couldn't get an appointment with her, so I never really had a chance to remind her about my story, etc. I don't blame her for not remembering. There are too many to keep track of. But I still introduced myself to her and we had a nice brief chat.


I spoke with Charlene Patterson from Bethany House. She said she loved my book and my writing (she was a judge for the historical fiction category in the Genesis; my story was a finalist; she was very enthusiastic about it, so much so, I was shocked; I hardly had a chance to say a word during my pitch), but she said it wasn't "right" for Bethany House because their biblical fiction authors are Jannette Oake and some other guy I don't remember. She encouraged me to find another publisher, and if I had anything else, to keep them in mind.

It was encouraging, but disappointing at the same time.


I heard from someone that went to their late-night chat that they will start publishing Biblical Fiction in two years.

My novel isn't a Bible story, doesn't have Bible characters, nor do I use miracles to solve difficult plot issues, but because it falls in first century Rome, it falls under the Biblical Fiction category. Ugh.

So, that's everything for now. Time to get back to work on my proposal. Please pray I do a good job on it. Honestly, I'm comfortable writing fiction, but this aspect of "selling" is my weakness.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting ready for conference!

So, I got my business cards ready, my one sheets all printed out, my proposals printed, and who knows what else. There's still a little more printing I've got to do--like my entire manuscript for the Donald Maass workshop. Hopefully, I spelled his name right.
Anyway, in the meantime, if you happen to be looking for something, like an albino squirrel, it's here! There are prizes--a $15 Amazon gift card and a can of mixed nuts. Want to know what this is all about? Go here:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And the Winner is . . .

As proof that I truly did pick her name out of my wooden shoe, here's a picture. Actually, it was my husband who picked the name for me. :-) Well Debra, I guess your cyber hunting has finally paid off! Congratulations! xxx
Please email me your snail mail address so I can forward it to MaryLu.