Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review: Nightingale by Susan May Warren & Contest

I'll just say it right up front: I loved Nightingale. RITA award-winning author Susan May Warren's writing improves with every book she publishes--and Nightingale gripped me from the opening scene to the last page.

As a writer, I've attended three of Susie's writing retreats where she challenges attendees to write breathtaking stories. With Nightingale, and the previously published Sons of Thunder, Susie puts into practice what she teaches.

The main characters in Nightingale, Esther, a nurse, and Peter, a German POW, are complex and compelling. The challenges they face are daunting--and the choices they make sometimes aren't between right and wrong but rather two things of equal value.

Sounds like real life, doesn't it?

At one point while I was reading Nightingale, I talked with Susie and said something like, "There better be a happy ending!" Susie smiled and said, "Well, I like happy endings too."

But sometimes the happiness we're looking for--the love we long for--is a long-time coming. And Susie doesn't write fluff. She writes about characters facing disappointments and heartaches--and having to make the choice to live a life of faith or one of doubt.

Flip Nightingale

The Letters From Home Giveaway!

Enter the Contest: Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. Five runners-up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale. There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters:

1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.

2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you'd like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.

Enter here or at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website. Or simply click on the button above.

Read what others are saying about Nightingale here.

*I received a copy of Nightingale to review, but was not compensated in any way to post a positive review of the book.*

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Writing Letters of Thanks

Photo by chappy14

Like many of you, I want to be a published novelist. November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. Skimming the website’s history doesn’t reveal exactly why this month was chosen. Whoever heard of expecting anyone to write a complete, 50,000-word novel during November? Don’t they know how busy people are? Of course, it’s hard to say, in the twenty-first century, when we’d ever slow down with nothing left to do with our time except write a novel. None of the other months during the year seem to be lazy and carefree, either.

But November is also the time when our hearts turn to thanking those people we are grateful for every month of the year.

When my husband was alive, I’d periodically remind him about the “just-in-case” letters to our children (and one to my husband) that were stashed in my sock drawer. Every few years, I update the letters, mentioning current interests or skills and spiritual gifts I’d see in their lives. I hope to encourage them and remind them of my love if there is ever a time when I’m not here to do that.

One trying school day, a math teacher, Franciscan Nun Sister Helen Mrosla, departed from the curriculum and asked students to list the nicest thing they could think about each classmate. She compiled the comments and gave a personal list to each student. Years later, after one of the students, Mark Eklund, died in Vietnam, the list was found, taped and re-taped, in his wallet. At the funeral, many of the other students also revealed they’d saved the list as one of their prized possessions. The inspirational tale of Sister Helen Mrosla, “the teacher who made a difference,” has been widely circulated all over the internet and featured in numerous books, like Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read about it here.

Instead of worrying about reaching a self-imposed NaNo word count, I propose taking time to write a letter to at least one special person in your life telling how much he or she means to you. Who knows? Maybe your letter will be more meaningful to someone, more used by God, than the words in any novel you ever write.

Roxanne Sherwood

Taking time to be thankful: There are so many people who love and encourage me: seven wonderful children; a mother; siblings & their spouses; precious friends like the Ponderers; and a new man in my life. I love, appreciate and thank God for each of you!

Second photo by lusi

Christmas Writing Contest!
Janice Thompson, along with www.freelancewritingcourses.com would like to announce a Christmas Writing Contest! For more information, click here: http://www.freelancewritingcourses.com/christmas-writing-contest

Monday, November 22, 2010


“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”—Edward Sandford Martin
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving or ThanksLiving?
Recently, I hyperventilated myself into a near panic attack about living single for the rest of my life. And I came to this conclusion: Instead of allowing longings and worry about my future to crash on my today, I needed to live one thanksliving day at a time.

When unfulfilled desires torpedo my heart and my day, I remember. I’m choosing to thankslive today. I’m thankful for today. I will have a great day.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:15–17
Happy ThanksLiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Take Five: A Dose of Writers Quotes

"A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter . . . . A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy, true, not false, lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down." ~ E. B. White, American writer

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success--but only if you persist." ~Isaac Asimov, author

"Writing comes more easily if you have something to say." ~Sholem Asch, novelist and playwright

"Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it." ~Colette, French novelist

"Nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped." ~Lillian Hellman, writer

Monday, November 15, 2010

Living, Breathing and Writing Sustainability

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”—Franz Kafka
In ecology, sustainability—the capacity to endure—describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. In the Greek, the definition of perseverance means "a hopeful looking towards the future without regard to the circumstances"

Yet, daunting circumstances—the changing publishing industry, finding time to write, receiving honest feedback from a critique group, securing an agent, developing a platform—can discourage an eager, bright-eyed writer. Some stop writing before they even start. Other writers just quit.

As a writer sustainability makes me ask myself these questions. Am I:
  • inhaling God’s Word, His written gift to me, to nourish and replenish my inner life? 
  • using God’s insights and words in my writing?
  • pursuing the gifts God embedded in my creative DNA?
  • willing to learn, practice and hone those skills?
  • teachable enough to receive critiques that improve my WIP?
  • productive when publishing prospects seem dim?
  • asking God for the capacity to endure?
  • writing about significant issues?
  • choosing to encourage, stimulate, challenge, strengthen, inspire or confront through words?
William Shakespeare observed, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” Like an axe, the truthfulness of the Bible breaks through the frozen soul within. Just as I reached back to my spiritual forerunners who shaped my fundamental values, will the sustainability of my writing life and legacy reach out to my children and their children?

Has writing so gripped you that you feel like Isaac Asimov who said, “I write for the same reason I breathe—because if I didn’t, I would die"? What oxygen of the soul does God want to breathe out through your writing?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Take Five: A Dose of Writers Quotes

"It's the writer's job to stage confrontations, so the characters will say surprising and revealing things, and educate and entertain us all." ~Kurt Vonnegut, author

"The great wisdom for writers, perhaps for everybody, is to come to understand to be at one with their own tempo." ~Alan Hollinghurst, English novelist

"To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment." ~Galway Kinnell, poet

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity, which used to be said the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison." ~Virginia Woolf, in her essay on women and literature, "A Room of One's Own," (1929)

"Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down." ~Ray Bradbury, author

(With thanks to my delightful friend, Pennie, who shared her list of quotes and also the link to The Writer's Almanac.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amazon's Top 100 Books for 2010

“Reading surrounds us, labels us, defines us.”—Rich Gold
EditorsPicks and Customers’ Favorites
What books do you recommend to friends and family? The editors at Amazon.com chose their top 100 books for 2010 just in time for Christmas. The list is based on:
  • "Is this a keeper?
  • “Is this book worth telling people about?"
  • “Is this what we tell each other to read?”
  • “Is this what our customers talk about too?

This list contains books for all ages and interests from nearly two dozen categories. Below you will find the top 25. To peruse the entire list, click here
  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010.
  2. Faithful Place: A Novel by Tana French. Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2010.
  3. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes. Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010.
  4. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010.
  5. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
  6. Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) by Jonathan Franzen. Amazon Best of the Month, August 2010.
  7. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2010.
  8. To the End of the Land by David Grossman. Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010.
  9. Just Kids by Patti Smith. Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010.
  10. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
  11. The Imperfectionists: A Novel by Tom Rachman. Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010.
  12. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green. Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010.
  13. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson. Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010.
  14. Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre
  15. The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt. Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010.
  16. The Passage by Justin Cronin. Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010.
  17. The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell. Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010.
  18. Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell. Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010.
  19. Worth Dying For by Lee Child. Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010.
  20. WAR by Sebastian Junger
  21. Skippy Dies: A Novel by Paul Murray. Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2010.
  22. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel by Charles Yu
  23. One Day (Vintage Contemporaries Original) by David Nicholls
  24. Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler. Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010.
  25. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King. Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010.