Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tournament of Champions: Third Week Recap

*Guest post by Michelle Massaro
Week THREE of COTT's Tournament of Champions saw four more authors compete and three more scavenger hunts played. 
Here's a recap:
On Monday, players were sent to Elaine Cooper's Blog with a mission: Find the full name of the girl Nathaniel Stearns falls in love with in the book trailer video on her home page. Renee C won a $10 Amazon gift card from Marianne Evans, author of Hearts Crossing.

Tuesday, the hunt was on at Shellie Neumeier's Blog. The question: What is the name of the book Shellie co-wrote with Lisa Lickel? Tammy G won a $10 Amazon gift card from April Gardner, author of Wounded Spirits.
Wednesday we were led to Naomi Musch's Blog. The question: In her new release, The Red Fury, Colette's daughter Lainey is seeking solace from tragic loss and two searing rejections by doing what 2 things? B.J. Robinson won a $10 CBD gift card donated by Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon.
Want your own spending spree? Be sure to play in this week's hunts. Check Clash of the Titles for game info.

And what about the competing books? Who won?
Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride and Lena Nelson Dooley's Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico battled on Monday. A Tailor-Made Bride came out the winner.
Christine Lindsay's Shadowed in Silk and Naomi Musch's The Green Veil struck swords on Wednesday. The Green Veil took the top spot.
These two victorious titles competed together on Friday to determine which would move on to the finals for a chance to win the Laurel Award. And that finalist is...
Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride!

There are now three finalists vying for the ultimate COTT honor. In this final week they'll be joined by a fourth book, then all will be thrown into the ring until only ONE remains. Who will it be? It's up to readers to decide, so cast your votes!
The Laurel will be awarded on November 4th, along with the 15-book grand prize that will be given to one lucky reader. Want a shot at it? You can enter by sharing links, putting up buttons and banners on your blog, becoming a follower of COTT, etc. Details on the prize basket and full instructions on how to enter can be found here. To make it easy to grab n go, here are the banner and button codes (just don't forget to let them know if you put them up!)


Clash of The Titles

Here's the button code:

* Michelle Massaro is the Assistant Editor for COTT. Find her on twitter @MLMassaro, Facebook, and Adventures In Writing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekend Worship—I Wouldn’t Choose it, But I Wouldn’t Change it

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27 (NIV)

A lot of writing is like cross carrying. We tend to write about things that matter to us. Things matter to us because of our life experiences. When difficult things arise we all tend to ask why. I've found a more productive way to look at those traumas that shape us.

I think we all have regrets in our life, no matter how old we are. I have things I regret doing and not doing. I also have things I regret going through. I used to spend a lot of time in prayer asking God why and I got frustrated because God often didn’t seem to answer. Then one day, while reading my Bible, I came across this verse. Now I’ve read this verse many times before, but this time God’s Spirit spoke to me. He showed me that God doesn’t like the pain I’ve been through, but He’s used it in a powerful way in my life. He showed me that I wouldn’t be the person I am, without those times I regret. They are, in effect, my cross. They are things I have had to carry to become more Christ-like.

So for me, the question has become, “Do I want to be more like Jesus?” Absolutely! Then, I’ve had to look back and come to the painful knowledge that those times of regret have done that. They’ve made me into the person I am today. I’m now able to say, “I wouldn’t choose it, but I wouldn’t change it.” Is that easy? No way. Sometimes it takes years after a painful event or circumstance, but I can unequivocally say it’s worth the battle.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Review—Google Plus Part Two—Circles are the Key Difference in This Social Network

The Advantages of Circles
Google+ has given us more control over how we classify our networks through circles. We don’t simply have to “friend" someone or “follow” them. With this network we can decide when, where and how we interact with them.

For me this difference is key and it’s intuitive. At least for me, I already group the people I interact with into categories. True, some fit in multiple categories, but even that is possible with Google+ Circles.

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, Google+ comes with some default categories for circles. I started with those, but almost immediately began branching out. Now I have fun with it. I have a circle for besties (a complete girl term), buds and even terminally boring. And the greatest part is no one knows the category I’ve put them in.

So let’s back up and I’ll tell you how to operate your circles.
Go to your Google+ page and click on the Circle Icon.
You’ll see several clickable links under the standard icons:
  • People in Your Circles.
  • People Who've Added You.
  • Find People.

Click on Find People and the list of names below these will increase. You can also include people from other address books.

To add someone to a named circle, just drag and drop them inside the circle. If you want to start a new circle, add them to the unnamed circle. You can click on that circle and name it at any time.  

If you click on a circle you can rename it or remove people from it. To remove someone just drag and drop them outside the circle.

Privacy Note:
To decide who can see the people you have in circles or those who have put you in their circles, click on the Profile Icon.

On the left side of the screen you’ll see the words:
Change Who is Visible Here
Click on these words and it will bring up your options. I keep all my contacts visible because even though other can see who my contacts are, no one can see which circle I put someone in except me.
It’s totally up to you how you set this up. I like to find new contacts by searching who others have in their circles, but that’s just my preference.

This should give you enough to work with until we meet again on Tuesday. I recommend you take some time and become familiar with the different options on the circles screen. But be careful about creating too many circles. Keeping things simple helps keep things easy.

Be sure to post any questions you have.

And…don’t forget to join the conversation!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Learn Google Plus—Part One

I know a lot of you have heard me sing the praises of Google Plus.

Today I’m beginning a tutorial for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. We’re going to take it slow, to give you time to get fully acquainted with it. Feel free to post questions as we go along. We’ll learn together.

So let’s get started!

First, go to to sign up, or view your account.

Once there, you need to fill in your profile. Most important—upload a photo. Remember, only spammers and newbies don’t have a profile photo online.

Now you'll notice a line with five icons that you’ll need to become familiar with.
  • The first looks like a house and it’s your HOME key.
  • The second looks like an old fashioned Polaroid photo and it’s the PHOTO tab. This is where you can upload or view photos.
  • The third is a circle with a head inside it. This is your PROFILE button. When you click this you go to your profile. When you want to change your profile you click this button then the EDIT PROFILE button.
  • The fourth is three interlocking circles and this represents your CIRCLES. Circles are the way you categorize and organize your friends and acquaintances. It’s what makes Google + different from Facebook. You don’t have to have different accounts to keep everyone separate—you only have to put them in different circles.
  • The fifth icon is a GAMES icon and, unless you’re a game player, I don’t recommend you bother with this tab.
Today we’ll concentrate on your profile.
I’m going to share a trick to upload a full bio that shows up when someone hovers over your avatar (your picture). This is important because it gives others more information about you than just a quick description.

Click on your PROFILE button and then your EDIT PROFILE.
  • Upload a photo.
  • Give a quick introduction about who you are.
  • Fill in your occupation.

Now here’s the cool trick. 
Click on the first box under employment. Copy and paste an abbreviated bio into that box (about 150 – 200 words). Make sure the CURRENT box is checked. This allows anyone who hovers over your avatar to see your entire bio. This cool trick is courtesy of Mashable (

I also recommend you fill in the following fields
  • Your email address.
  • Your nickname (if different from your legal name).
  • Profile discovery—if you’re trying to work as a freelance writer or get known as an author you need to make your profile discovery PROFILE VISIBLE IN ANY SEARCH.

Here’s a quick note about circles.

Google + comes with several default circles:
  • Friends.
  • Family.
  • Acquaintances.
  • Following. 

You can also create any custom circles you wish. can add people to more than one circle.
And…you don’t have to let anyone know what circle they’ve been assigned to!

Okay, that’s enough for one session. I recommend you take the plunge and begin to get familiar with Google +. Use the comment section of this blog to post any questions and we’ll continue this later this week.

And be sure to add me to one of your circles!

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rockin' the Party at COTT!

*guest post by Delia Latham

It's been a bang-up bash all week at Clash of the Titles. We've been blog-hopping for treasure, and a couple gals found the loot!

LINDA won Game #1. She'll receive a 
$10 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate 

CLAUDIA RIZZI won Game #2. She'll receive a 
$25 Partylite Gift Certificate 
Michelle Massaro.

Congratulations to our game winners!

And the fun continues all the way through Nov. 4th. Our doors are open and we have a whole pile of party hats just waiting to be worn. Bring your votes and come on down!

In the midst of all the fun and games this week, we had four authors at swordspoint with TWO Clashes. All four entries were outstanding, and each possessed strong winning qualities. But, as in any race or competition, not everyone makes the finals.

We chose a single winner from each Clash. These two went head-to-head on Saturday…and only one will proceed to the finals and duke it out for the COTT Laurel Award.

This week's Clash WINNERS are:

Clash #3:

Erin Rainwater with her excerpt from 

Clash #4: 

Elaine Marie Cooper and her excerpt from 


These two went head-to-head on Saturday…with only one proceeding to the finals to duke it out for the COTT Laurel Award.

That one is....

Elaine Marie Cooper and her excerpt from 

Cyber-hugs and sincere thanks to Anne Patrick and Margaret Brownley! These were tough decisions and difficult votes to make. You're ALL winners!

More games and more exerpts are up for grabs this week, so don't miss out. Stop by COTT and play.

*Delia Latham is the author of the Solomon's Gate Series and a Blog Alliance Correspondent for COTT

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Worship—Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God;
Ps 46:10(NKJV)

Some days I’m so busy with my writing and editing schedule I feel bad about taking time for lunch. Recently I’d even begun waking up in the morning with a stress headache. These headaches caused me to re-evaluate my priorities and I realized that one thing I’d let slide were my regular quiet times in the morning.

In recent years my routine has evolved into a set time every morning spent reading my Bible and praying. Now before you think I’m a morning person or especially dedicated, let me set the record straight—I’m not one of those who can wake up at 5am to do this. I’m a late night person, so my mornings start slow—usually around 8am.

But lately I’ve started the day so far behind I’d begun to skimp on my time with God. It sounds awful to admit, but it’s true. And it seemed the farther behind I got the less time I spent—and the less time I spent with God, the farther behind I got. It looks obvious when I write it out, but it took me a while to see the connection. You may wonder how I finally caught on, and I have to confess it wasn’t anything I did. It was Emily Dickenson—my cat.

You see, Emily has an unusual routine. Every afternoon, if I let her, she spends at least thirty minutes in my lap hanging out. I can be sitting in front of the TV, knitting or in front of the computer, but if I am sitting down, up she hops. She stretches out, cradled in my arms and spends time resting. She is completely at ease, sometimes in a position where, if I didn’t support her, she’d fall to the ground. She is completely unconcerned about any danger, knowing that I love her and will hold her safe. As God’s children we need that same time every day with God. It is necessary to take the time to rest, safe in His arms, away from the trials of the day. He is always there, waiting for us to come, offering comfort and love.  

My challenge to all of us is this: God is never too busy to spend time with us. Can we make time in our schedule for Him?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Review—A Writing Contest Could be Your Big Break!

A writing contest could be your big break!
A guest post by Marcia Moston

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian
Writers Conference
Three years ago I attended my first writers conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Today I received my first advance check from Thomas Nelson—think I’ll just stare at it awhile!

This quick journey to publication wasn’t because I walked away from the conference with an agent in my pocket or an editor on the line, or because I had written the Gone with the Wind of the twenty-first century. But it was, in part, because the confidence I gained by entering and placing in the Blue Ridge competition led me to enter the Women of Faith/WestBow Press competition—a contest with connections to the Big Guys.

This year could be your turn. Once again, Women of Faith and WestBow Press are offering a writing contest. Prizes include generous publishing packages. The Grand Prize winner not only has the possibility of being picked up by Thomas Nelson, WestBow’s parent company, but also of being promoted at Women of Faith Conferences around the country.

Imagine my surprise while at the Women of Faith conference this year, someone tweeted that I was in the program. I had actually thrown it away, but there I was in a full-page spread right after Lucy Swindoll and Sheila Walsh!

Photo courtesy of Mary Denman 
My book, Call of a Coward won the competition and was published by WestBow. But I had no idea Thomas Nelson was looking at it until a month after it came out, I received a simple email, sitting there in my inbox alongside the bill and blogs, offering me a contract. (And I didn’t even have to write a proposal!) So after a few months on the market, Call of a Coward will be pulled and re-released next summer by Thomas Nelson.

You just don’t know what God will do when you give Him something to work with.

This was my great opportunity; perhaps next year it will be yours.

For information about this year’s contest and a video of my story, go to WestBow

Monday, October 17, 2011

Clash of the Titles Kicks Off Tournament of Champions

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery
Last week, Clash of the Titles launched their first annual Tournament of Champions with two clashes and four talented authors. In Clash one, CS Lakin, author of Someone to Blame, and Marianne Evans, author of Heart Crossing, went head-to-head in a nail-biting, literary duel. In Clash two, our very own Gail Pallotta, author of Love Turns the Tide, competed against Clare Revell, author of A Season for Miracles. All four excerpts rocked, and this was a tough call, but you, our faithful readers chose two Tournament of the Champions' finalists.
Those finalists were Marianne Evans and Gail Pallotta.
Exciting stuff, and yet, the games weren’t done. In the next round, COTT staff cast their votes, and once again, one writer rose to the top and will advance to the next round.
That author is…
Marianne Evans!
And here’s a glimpse of what a COTT champion excerpt looks like:
“Collin Edwards stood before the funeral assembly. Heat crawled up his body. He clutched the edges of the podium where he stood and cleared his throat. The gesture was in vain. His throat constricted so much it hurt. Before the altar, just to the right, rested a flag-draped casket.
He looked down, at a piece of paper upon which he had crafted the words to a eulogy…” (Read more of Excerpt B here.)
About the novel, Heart Crossing:
Collin Edwards, a former parishioner at Woodland Church, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.
Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God, and the community of Woodland . Lately though, she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.
A beautification project at Woodland seems the answer for them both. Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists, but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better. Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.
Can Daveny trust in Collin’s fledgling return to faith? And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?
We’d also like to congratulate our prize-winning readers:
 Jessica R Patch! She won a $10 Amazon Gift card from Elaine Cooper.
 LoRee Peery! She won a free bookmark design from Delia Latham.
 Larry Hammersley! He won a $10 Amazon Gift card from Author Anne Patrick.
Join us this week for more fun and prizes as four more authors jump into the ring hoping not only to advance to the next round, but ultimately reign as the Clash of the Titles’ champion of champions! Remember, every vote counts! Each vote gets your name thrown into the hat for our fab-tabulous grand prize give-away comprised of fourteen novels!
Visit our Tournament of Champions page for a complete list of prizes.
Jennifer Slattery is the marketing manager for Clash of the Titles. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, and Samie Sisters and has written for numerous other publications. She also works for Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach, as a professional manuscript evaluator and publicist. You can find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud. You can find out more about her critique and publicity services at Words That Keep.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Worship—Brilliant Colors

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the cool, crisp days that bring relief from summer’s heat. But most of all, I love the beautiful colors adorning the trees in our Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and I get great joy from driving through the mountains to see the changing leaves. It always amazes me how vibrant the colors are and, until recently. I took that beauty for granted.

Last year, I learned what makes the trees brighter some years as opposed to others. The intensity and brilliance of the colors is virtually unaffected by the amount of stress the tree has suffered during the previous season—as long as it has plenty of rain. That knowledge stopped me in my tracks, as God immediately began to apply its spiritual truth to my life. It didn’t matter how great the trial, as long as I looked to Him for provision, I could come through triumphant.

Inevitably, I began to think about people around me who’ve suffered intense pain and come through to a place of peace. I could see that the constant in their lives had also been the Living Water of God’s Spirit, sustaining them, no matter the stress. The more God worked through their stress and suffering, the more vibrantly His brilliance shined through them.

Now this knowledge leads me to a choice. Will I fight God’s plan, turn my back on Him, and seek the path of least resistance—the path that leads to a life without color? Or will I let God transform my trials and tribulations into brilliance?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Review—NaNoWriMo

Last November, our own Lynn Blackburn posted a review ofNaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month). This year, I thought I’d give you a little heads up BEFORE November arrives.

NaNoWriMo is an idea that has exploded in popularity. The idea is that you write the first draft (minimum of 50,000 words) of a novel in one month. At first this may sound ridiculous, but many writing instructors advocate writing your first draft quickly, without editing. James Scott Bell encourages this in his book, The Art of War for Writers. I highly recommend this book, by the way and it was the very first book reviewed on this blog. Curious to learn more? Click here to read the review.

So how do you get involved with NaNoWriMo?
  • First, visit their website and set up an account.
  • Second, familiarize yourself with their site and the many things they offer.
  • Third, start brainstorming ideas. 
Yep, I’ve found it helps me to have an idea of where I’m going with my novel. I don’t want to get into the whole, plotter or pantster debate, but I highly recommend at least a glimmer of an idea before you start.

And I have the perfect place to help you get ready—My BookTherapy. This group, started by award winning author, Susan May Warren, is dedicated to help writers succeed. Last year, MBT began WriMo, a smaller group of NaNoWriMo writers and the result was phenomenal. They had contests, help groups, everything a manic novelist could need (except chocolate—and I urge you to stock up on that). This year they will continue with the contests and fellowship and I’ve also heard rumors of special WriMo recipes, organization techniques and lots of other fun. I strongly urge everyone pop over and see what they have to offer this year. You will need to register and become a voice. But there's no fee involved for general access.

Still unconvinced it’s for you? Consider this, people participate in NaNo for many reasons—many of them good—here are just a few to consider.

  • For Fun: maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel. Here’s your time to give it a try.
  • To Jumpstart Your Next Book: if you write professionally, the work of writing can sometimes get in the way of actual writing. NaNo can help you get back on track.
  • An Accountability Group: Some of us just do better when we have to report on our progress. NaNoWriMo actually requires that.
  • A Deadline and Goal: I don’t know about you, but I can do almost anything for a month—give up chocolate, start an exercise program, get familiar with a new routine. Why not try writing a novel?
  • Company in a Lonely Endeavor: writing is a solitary pursuit and can often be intimidating and discouraging. Aligning with a group that has a shared goal and purpose helps alleviate the loneliness and helps keep us motivated.
  • To Win: yes, I admit it. I’m highly competitive and just thinking about NaNoWriMo gets my adrenalin pumping. 

I’d love to keep up with all of you who are doing NaNoWriMo, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know your NaNoWriMo name (you choose it when you register). Mine is easy to remember:

Also, if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo previously, we’d like your suggestions and comments on the experience.

So, don’t forget to join the conversation!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get Taken Seriously as a Writer by Your Family and Friends

Nobody takes me seriously or respects my time.

This seems to be a common refrain I hear from newer writers. They’ve finally worked up the courage to get serious about writing regularly and some of their closest family and friends won’t respect their time. They get calls during the times they’re writing and attitude if they don’t stop to talk. They hear comments that undermine their newfound confidence.

“You can do that, after all you stay home all day.”

“Oh come on, you’ve got nothing better to do.”

And my favorite. “It’s not like you have a real job.”

So what’s a writer to do?

To begin with, take a deep breath and realize this problem isn’t unique to writers. It happens to everyone who works from home—I should know—my husband and I have shared a home office for the past thirteen years. For some people an office isn’t an office if it isn’t off site. Not logical—but an all too common misconception.

I’ve fought this battle—sometimes more successfully than others—and these are the strategies I’ve come up with. 
  • First, make certain you’re setting the example you want followed. By that I mean keep regular hours. Notice I said regular hours—not normal ones. For years I wrote with young children. That meant writing in the afternoons and after they were in bed. Just because you’re working odd hours doesn’t mean you can’t have a schedule.
  • Second, treat what you’re doing like you’re serious. If you blow off writing for shopping and lunch several times a week your friends and family won’t understand if you don’t stop for them.
  • Third, be consistent. If you’re not accepting calls from your mother-in-law because you’re working, don’t spend the afternoon on the phone with your best friend. Stay focused on your writing. This is even more critical if your time is at a premium.
  • Fourth, recruit a support team. Instead of adversaries, enlist your friends and family to help you reach your writing goals. Communicate those goals, clearly and frequently. Ask for their help to reach them. After all, what mother doesn’t want to help her baby succeed!
  • Fifth, share your victories. Let those that help you share in the joy of goals accomplished and milestones reached.

These five things have helped me immeasurably over the years. But they’re not a cure all. There will still be those who think what you do is fun and not work. Expect that, anticipate it even. Knowing it happens to everyone takes away a little bit of the sting.

So what have you found to help when you struggle with sabotaging friends and family?

Don''t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Congrats to COTT Clash Winner Tanya Stowe!

Divine gifts have been a topic of much dissension down through the ages. Some folks believe God bestows certain gifts on his children others firmly believe He does not—or at least that He might have long ago but He certainly doesn't today.
We're not here to argue the point (although for the record I do believe in divine gifts!).
That said it has been proven time and time again that certain people have specific abilities that others do not. Not learned skills which is the ability to do something because one has deliberately set out to master that particular challenge. I'm talking about inherent abilities that one naturally possesses usually from birth.
That's the kind of mind-boggling gift Tanya Stowe tackles in Tender Touch, the excerpt from which won the most recent COTT Clash. Lacy Butler is graced with the gift of healing…but she refuses to use itbecause it didn't save her mother. Pretty commonisn't it? We never seem to want the gifts God tries to bestow on usor we'll take the gift (Thank you very muchFather!)but we want to use it in our own wayfor our own purposes. Tanya does a fantastic job of bringing Lacy around from total abandonment of her gift of healing to an acceptance of God's will and God's way to use…GOD'S gift.
Here's a snippet from Tanya's Tender Touch excerpt:
The sudden comfort overwhelmed him. He wanted to close his eyes and slip away. But his blurry gaze focused on his rescuer as he unwrapped the muffler. He wanted…needed to see this man’s facethe man who had saved his life. He forced himself to watch as he pulled off the floppy gray hat.
 Royce blinked. His foggy mind was playing tricks on him. A longgolden braid fell from beneath the hat and lay across the man’s shoulder. He slipped off the coat and beneath was the slender shape of a woman.
 His man...his midnight visitor was a woman! Shock filled Royce’s mindand his head flopped senselessly sideways.
We asked Tanya if she learned anything about God's character through Tender Touch. Here's what she said: “Instead of learning something about God through this bookit is a reflection of something I learned about God from life. I’ve had some personal experience with faith healing and I wanted to write a story that reflected those truths. Of courseLacy’s gift is highly dramatizedbut the basics about how God heals are true.” (Read Tanya's interview)
Of her experience on COTTTanya says: "This was the most fun I had in an interview in a longlong time. COTT does such a good job. I really appreciate this opportunity."
Readers loved the Tender Touch excerptas well—and we loved their comments:
“I feel like I’m already hooked on reading the book.”
“… made me want to find out more about the mysterious midnight visitor man who turned out to be a woman. Both of these were great and it was hard to choose one. Can they both win?? !!!”
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run allbut one receiveth the prize?"
Currently we're in the middle of the exciting Tournament of Champions which will be in high gear from Oct. 10 through Nov. 4. Don't miss it! Past Clash champs duke it out for the final prize with each of them offering an excerpt that will hopefully have you panting for more. Head on over and see what it's all about.

* Delia Latham is a Christian wife mother grandmother sister and friend as well as an author of inspirational romance and women's fiction. She wears each hat with pride but treasures most of all her role as a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Congrats to Tanya and a huge thank you also to her very worthy opponent Shawn Grady.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Weekend Worship—Faith for the Directionally Challenged

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

As the fog began to lift, I focused on the dim outline of the steeple and had to smile.

The one landmark that coalesced into solidarity was a church steeple. How like God to show up when I needed stability. It was just the reminder I craved. Recently, at the ACFW conference, my sense of direction had failed—along with my self-confidence—and I’d found myself hopelessly turned around. This really shouldn’t have been a big deal. After all, I was safe inside the hotel convention center. But, with my emotions on a roller coaster of ups and downs, I stood at the window unconsciously searching for something to anchor my world.

A writing conference is fraught with emotional highs and lows. One minute you find yourself full of confidence in your abilities when an interview goes well. Then, fifteen minutes later, you are certain you should pack up your computer and start washing cars for a living.

I took a deep breath and sighed out a prayer of thanksgiving. It was God who’d called me to this life of pen, pain and perseverance, and He would see me through.

When I put my confidence in Him, everything else falls into place. The expectations of this world recede into proper perspective, and I can feel God's joy as I exercise the gift He's given me. When my life begins to tilt out of control, the only place I need to look for direction is up.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday Review—Writers on Writing

Writers on Writing
Writers on Writing
 a book review by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Don't you love it when you read a book and it's so good you just can't put it down?

I do, too. I love that feeling of anticipation that builds with each turned page until there are no more pages and I'm left with a sense of satisfaction—and a sink full of dishes, overflowing laundry hampers, and a family that would appreciate it if I found my way to the kitchen.

Fortunately for my always hungry children, this is not one of those books.

And for once, that's a good thing.

Writers on Writing is a compilation of brief articles from some of the heaviest of the heavy hitters in the Christian writing world. (Can you say Cecil Murphey? Jerry B. Jenkins?)  And they are written specifically with the Christian writer in mind.

The articles are divided into three categories. We start with The Writer and cover what it means to be a Christian writer and how to survive in the Christian publishing world. Then we transition to The Craft and cover everything from basic grammar to writing screenplays, from ghostwriting to editing fiction and non-fiction. Then we wrap up with articles on The Business and hit professionalism, talking to editors and building platforms.

Writers on Writing would make a great addition to any writer's bookshelf. Feeling discouraged? Check out Chapter 2. Worried about running out of ideas? See Chapter 5. Trying to edit that devotion down to 250 words? You'll find Chapter 19 useful.

You could sit down and read it all the way through, but I think it's best enjoyed slowly.

Pick it up. Read a chapter.

Put it down. Process what you've read—maybe while dusting or picking up toys.


Your writing—and your family—will thank you.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. On her blog Out of the Boat she writes about faith and family while her blog Perpetual Motion documents the joys and challenges of loving and rearing a child with special needs. A graduate of Clemson University, Lynn lives in South Carolina where she writes, reads, knits, takes care of three amazing children, one fabulous man and one spoiled rotten Boston Terrier.
Follow Lynn on Twitter @lynnhblackburn

Monday, October 3, 2011

Facebook Changes and How it Affects Users

I have to admit, the title of this post, along with the truth it reflects, just makes me tired. It has become almost a full-time job just trying to keep up with Facebook changes. So why is Facebook rolling out so many new changes and tweaks? In my opinion, it’s because of Google Plus. Those who developed Google + have addressed some of the major headaches associated with Facebook. Now Facebook is in a desperate game of catch-up. Personally, I think they’re fighting a losing battle. I already prefer Google + in its simplicity and ease of use.

BUT, we have to remember that the majority of our audience is still active on Facebook. Because of that we need to continue to have a Facebook presence and today I’ll try to help you navigate some of the changes they’ve instituted.

First, there is no longer an Edit Page button on your profile page. This left me totally confused until I accidently clicked on my name to the right of my profile picture and discovered that led me to another page with editing options.

Second, Facebook is starting something new with Timelines. This is good for advertisers, but iffy—at best—for the rest of us. Now, in various places on the web, you’ll have the option to give permission for that site to add this or post to your Timeline. Translated, this means anything you do on that website will be reported on Facebook. For example, if you’re reading the Huffington Post site and give permission for it to post to your timeline, your Facebook followers will know EVERY article you click (or accidently) click on. Can you see the possibilities for embarrassment? Even without potentially embarrassing scenarios, it’s very invasive.

Third, the way we interact with friends. In the past, all of our friends have shown up equally in our Facebook feed. Now, Facebook is deciding who we want to hear from—without asking our opinion! There is no way to set, updates from all. Now we must subscribe to our friends and tell Facebook how often we want to see them in our feed.

Fourth, hiding posts. It used to be possible to just hide certain posts. Now we must unsubscribe to that particular story. And in some cases we don’t have that option, only the option of unsubscribing to that individual.

Needless to say, this isn’t all the changes made to Facebook. I’d have to write a book to cover them all, and then they’d be obsolete by the time it was published. Be sure to let me know any questions you have about the most recent changes and I'll see if I can find the answer.

Just don't forget to join the conversation!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meet the Members of Clash of the Titles

* Guest post by Gail Pallotta
After an early morning workout Joanne Troppello sits at her computer near two big windows. Working from an office in her home in the northeast, she “loves getting plenty of sunshine.” She munches on her breakfast as she starts one of five weekly blogs. Her focus is “to connect authors and readers.”
This prolific writer also schedules giveaways and one-time events.  Past specialties include two internet festivities, The Royal Wedding and Summer Blog parties. On the books—a Christmas Blog Party. Get ready for the fun.
Joanne likes to spotlight newer, unknown authors in addition to networking with all authors.  Writers’ opportunities include Monday interviews and mid-week guest blogs. Two Fridays out of the month she does book reviews. The other two she interviews guests in her Reader’s Corner. One of her favorite things is hearing from readers. She says, “They are who we write for, and we want to write stories that appeal to them with characters that stay with them for a long time.” Joanne says her readers “really like commenting on blog postings and hearing back from authors.”
An author of two books, All Romance ebooks best seller Mr. Shipley’s Governess and Shadowed Remembrances, Joanne writes in the mystery and inspirational genres. When she isn’t at her computer, she loves spending time with her husband and family.
To discover lots of fun activities for writers and readers visit Joanne at
Artist, writer and blogger Carrie Lewis paints portraits for her day job and in her leisure time. Her favorite subject is horses. Easels, paintings and portraits-in-progress abound throughout her Kansas home, including some in her office.
She’s written for as long as she can remember, finishing her first complete manuscript in eighth grade. She says, “I’ve been dividing my time between the studio and the writing desk, and God has seen fit to keep me at home.”
Saving Grace, Carrie’s WIP, “…is a cross between speculative fiction, suspense and Old Testament prophecy.” As far as the WIP and what Carrie normally writes, she says, “It’s so far outside the box....I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back into that box.”
An active blogger, Carrie posts three times a week. Her topics include writing tips, reports on stories she’s working on, the way we write, and the things we write about. She recently started putting up a weekly writing prompt. It’s “been fun and uses images, colors, sounds, all sorts of things.” For her readers she hopes to share what she’s had to “learn the hard way so that those who follow might not have to learn the same way.” She wants to “encourage writers to heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit when deciding what to write, especially if the story they have to tell is outside what most of us think of as popular fiction.”
When we stop by Carrie’s blog, I imagine we’ll see some of her horse paintings as well as her writings! What a treat. Visit her at
* A COTT Blog Alliance Correspondent, Gail Pallotta recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. When she isn't writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God's love.
           Get ready ...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekend Worship—Highly Favored

Today I'm really excited to introduce you to a good friend of mine, Kristi Butler. Kristi was one of the attendees at our annual NCompass Writers Retreat and she shared this devotion with us. I immediately knew I had to share it with all of you.

Highly Favored
by Kristi Butler

“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28 NKJV

The pinkish tinge inched its way up the morning sky. The lake was mostly still, stirred ever so slightly by the first breezes of the day and the occasional ripples as geese glided effortlessly across the lake.

I wept at the overwhelming beauty in front of me, the presence of the Lord as tangible and enveloping as the fog in a distant cove.

I whispered, “Who am I, Lord, that you would show me such favor?”

Ancient words pierced my thoughts.  “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28 NKJV

My response was, “But God, those words were for Mary, the mother of Jesus, not for one as unworthy as me.”

He replied, “She was chosen to carry my Son in her womb.  You were fashioned to carry Him in your heart.”

Highly favored.  Chosen.  Called by the Creator of the universe. Purposed for His work.

Do you join Mary in asking, “How will this be?”

Hear the reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…the power of the Most High will overshadow you….For nothing is impossible with God. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:35, 37, 45 NIV

Thankful for God's unfailing love, tangible presence, and that He would see fit to will and work in me for His good is surely a matter of grace! It is my prayer that I honor Him in all I do. He has blessed me with a wonderful heritage through the example of my parents who love God, walk with Him, pray fervently, and love others unconditionally. He gave me an incredible, generous, gifted husband who works for the Lord with all of his heart. My "little girl dreams" of being a Mommy have been realized through our four wonderful daughters, who have proved that there is "no greater joy than to [know] that my children are walking in the Truth." I am honored that He would allow me the privilege of teaching His precious children in a wonderful Christian school. I wait expectantly to see what The Dream Giver has in store as He leads in pursuit of service to Him through the written word.