Posted in Fiction Diner

Fiction Diner: The Official Williams Cranberry Cake

Happy (belated) Birthday to a beloved character, Ralph Williams!
Today, Fiction Diner meets the pages of my own work as we celebrate one of my characters with food. Throughout my novels, I’ve made mention of a special cranberry cake. This recipe belonged to the Williams family and was only baked twice a year: Christmas and Ralph’s birthday.
When readers started asking me for this fictionalized recipe, I began searching for one. With the help of my readers, I present to you today the official Williams Family Cranberry Cake. I hope you enjoy!!

 

2.jpg

I’m about to share with you a recipe that was adapted from two different jam cake recipes. I followed the ingredients of one recipe, with the slight alteration, and the directions from a local community cookbook, and I created for you a brand new recipe.
The cranberry flavor isn’t very strong. In fact, none of my kids knew what they were eating. The spices used in this cake stands out more and is perfect for the winter months when this cake was fictionally known for being served. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
There is some interesting history behind one of the recipes I had used. The ingredients were, ironically enough, found in The Confederate Cookbook. It’s a Sons of Confederate Veterans publication, and each recipe submitted shares the brief history of a real Confederate Vet. But let’s continue down this reality-is-stranger-than-fiction path. The recipe I used shared the page with a Cpl. George Washington Small who was named after George Washington. Oddly enough, Cpl. Small died on Feb. 22 of 1925 which also happens to be George Washington’s birthday…and Ralph’s birthday! How neat is that?! When I assigned Ralph his birthday, I didn’t realize I had chosen Washington’s birthday until I was preparing for this post. But enough coincidences, let’s get on to the dessert, shall we!

Williams Cranberry Cake: 

Ingredients: 
1 cup of soft butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cranberry sauce
1 cup walnuts

Directions: 
Set your oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
I used canned cranberry sauce. You know, the kind you can actually slice up because it’s so thick. Because it’s so thick, the consistency isn’t as loose as jam. In order for the sauce to mix into the batter better, I first put my can-shaped sauce in a bowl and took the potato masher to it. I used the plain jelly kind, not the one with the berries, but I don’t see why this recipe wouldn’t work with either variety. When I made the recipe the first time, I attempted to toss in spoonfuls of cranberry sauce the same as I would have with jam, but I ended up with clumps of sauce in my cake. So the only thing you’re doing in this step is simply breaking it down because your mixer isn’t going to later.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add  vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift all dry ingredients together and add alternately with buttermilk, beating vigorously after each addition.
Mix in cranberry sauce.
Fold in nuts.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until cake is leaving the sides of the pan and the toothpick is clean when you insert it.

Tips: 
This cake goes great with a pot of tea!
You can dust it with powder sugar for decoration or an extra kick of sugar. The cake is fairly sweet on its own, though.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. I do this all the time and haven’t bought buttermilk in nearly 10 years. Here’s how you do it: Pour 1 Tb vinegar or lemon juice into the measuring cup BEFORE you add the milk. Pour the milk in next, measuring up to the desired amount. I’ve always done 1 Tb per cup of milk. If you need more buttermilk, adjust accordingly. Stir and let sit for about 15 minutes, then you have buttermilk.
Because this recipe was taken from a jam cake recipe, you could alter it by using 1 cup of seedless blackberry jam instead of the cranberry sauce.

cover22Novel Quote: 
“I might be a Yankee in serious need of a shower, but I ain’t never been a dirty Reb.” ~ Ralph Williams, In the Shadow of Thy Wings by A.M. Heath

 

Posted in About the Book

My Desk: New Novel Quotes and Updates

Are you ready to hear the latest about the two novels sitting on my desk? I’ll share my writing update and a few quotes. Enjoy!

3

Out of the Ashes had spent November and December with my critique team. I wish I could give you a release date to circle on your calendars but that’s not possible right now. Just keep praying and we’ll keep working. I’m in the middle of a phase where the manuscript spends time in the hands of others which frees me up to work elsewhere or grab a little break of my own.
Now that Ashes has been approved by my team, it has several rounds of clean up to endure. We call this Line Editing. It’s where gifted people read over the manuscript and study each line, poking and prodding it, questioning every comma and word on the page.

Since Ashes is the third of a series, how about I share with you THREE (pre-proofed) quotes from the novel? Enjoy!

The major theme of the novel is finding healing in Christ, so naturally bitterness also becomes a reoccurring theme for the characters. Here’s a couple of my personal favorites on bitterness:

Bitterness becomes a prison and forgiveness is the only key. By the grace of God, you can release yourself from your homemade prison walls if you’ll only use the key set before you.” – Brother Mark

“Focusing on what you once had isn’t going to make the plants grow. It’ll only grow bitterness.” – Frank

This one was a favorite among my critique team:

“Out of fear, I call him Mr. Williams, and out of resentment he calls me nothing at all.” – Melissa

untitled

If you’re already a fan of the series, you might be interested to know that Ralph’s birthday is coming up and I’m searching for the perfect cranberry cake for him. I’m extending the contest one more week. You can catch all the details on how to submit your recipe and enter to win one of the cake recipe books up for grabs by following the link

117

If Only it were Yesterday:

I spent most of November adding to the first draft. The word count is currently up to 30,950. According to my mental outline, I’m about 45% through. After working with Ashes for so long, it still seems odd to look at such small numbers and to celebrate those small 10,000 word markers. But it’s also exciting to see it grow and to watch the characters and their story evolve.
I’m having fun. I never would have imagined that a break from my Maple Grove cast would have been needed but the Lord knew what He was about when He led me to start a new series. It’s been refreshing, not that I’m tired of my old friends. 😉 But it’s refreshing nonetheless.

And since If Only it were Yesterday is the first book of its series, I’ll leave you with only one quote from the new novel in progress.

“Don’t make the mistake of comparing a great reality with a flimsy fairytale.” – Betty Tanner

Posted in About the Book

Contest and Giveaway: Williams Cranberry Cake Recipe Search

untitledAs a fiction author, I have the tendency to make stuff up. People are normal grateful when I do. In fact, I even get paid for it. 😉

But sometimes making stuff up can come back to bite you in the rear. And this is one of those times.

In my novel, my Union hero, Ralph Williams, mentions a beloved family recipe. Not any recipe but a cranberry cake recipe that is passed down only through marriage and only served on Christmas and his birthday. The truth is, I needed SOMETHING to fill this role and reached for the first thing that came to mind. Apparently, I made it so memorable that readers asked for a copy of the recipe.

Oops! I sorta don’t have one.

This now infamous cranberry cake recipe made its way into the pages of Out of the Ashes and will become even more memorable since I had developed an entire scene around this delicious cake…this fictional cake that never even existed.

But I hear my readers loud and clear. They want the Williams family recipe and I want to give it to them. But first I want you to help me find it. I’ve searched the web for cranberry cake recipes and the options are limitless. So to narrow down my choices, I’m asking that YOU send in a recipe that YOU have baked. Keep reading to learn more about my Williams Cranberry Cake Recipe Contest!

PRIZE: I’ll be giving away a cake recipe book to TWO different winners. The winning recipe will receive a prize and I’ll also select one more winner at random so everyone has a chance to win even if I don’t like your cake. 😉

Contest Rules: Submit only ONE recipe per person. Multiple bakers can submit recipes from a single household as long as the baker is tall enough to actually turn the dials on the stove. 😉

In order to cut down on the abundance of Google recipes thrown at me, I’m asking that you first try the recipe before submitting it to me. Please send along a picture of the finished product in your home not the one from the Google search. Consider adding a copy of one of my books in the background(ebook or paperback, whatever is handy!), or your little helpers if you’re baking with kids, take a selfie with the cake, etc. Go crazy, have fun! *If for some reason, you’re unable to share an original picture please just let me know. I’d love to still have you play along.

Where to Enter: I’ll have 2 places where you can submit your entry.
Email  with the heading Williams Cranberry Cake Recipe Entry.
Or post in the comments section on the Contest post pinned to the top of my Facebook page. Don’t forget to leave your email address if you post your entry on Facebook.

Other Details: I’ll collect all entries and share them on the Contest Page right here on my blog.

Contest is open January 16, 2017 – February 6, 2017
Winner announced on Ralph’s Birthday: February 22
*Please submit entries by February 6th so I will have ample time to bake them.

Tips: Here are some tips to help you find what I’m looking for.

Dried cranberries are encouraged but not mandatory.

I didn’t picture the Williams Cranberry cake as a cake with icing. I pictured it either with nothing on top or possibly with powder sugar or a light glaze. Nothing was my most common idea but I’m not opposed to considering a sugar or glaze topping.

You do NOT have to submit an original recipe. Feel free to Google or Pinterest search!

Feel free to ask any questions if something isn’t clear!!

Fine Print: Contest and Giveaway are the responsibility of me and not Facebook or WordPress. Open to continental US residents only. There will be two different winners. One will be chosen by me but not in any way influenced by my relationship to the contestant. The other winner will be selected at random.

Posted in About the Book

Writing Update and Ebook Sale

60

For those that follow me on Facebook, you may have already heard of how I’ve been spending my summer. For those that haven’t heard, here’s a quick rundown:
After much prayer, I had decided to take the summer off. I was told back in February that I had mono and I discovered in June that I STILL have mono and also a Vitamin D deficiency. What all this means is that I’m a little too tired a little too often. Sitting at the computer doesn’t sound like much work…unless you’re so tired you don’t even want to lift your hands out of your lap. :/ Sad story, I know.
I also have four happy, hyper children at home so concentration wasn’t working very well to start with. You’ll also notice that I haven’t blogged much this summer. I’m planning to get back to my usual schedule but first things first. REST!
My children are heading back to school this week so I’m getting back in the chair. I’m excited and ready to go!! At least I think I am. 😉

1

I’m still in the middle of revisions for Out of the Ashes. I would appreciate your prayers as I work. There’s so much to do before we can move to line editing and I still tire easily.

The upside to mono is the bonus reading time it has afforded me. And to spread the wealth – the reading, not the mono – I’m hosting a summer sale! Prices will go back up in September so take advantage while you can and pass the word along to your friends.
Where Can I Flee
In the Shadow of Thy Wings

67.jpg

 

Posted in About the Book

Behind the Scenes: Character Development: The Hardheaded

83

I have this character, George Chandler. He is the sweetest, kindest, most willing, and all around loveable person. And yet he is the most hardheaded and difficult character I’ve had the pleasure of working with to date!

For those that have read the Ancient Words Series, this may come as a shocker. George appears so laid back on the page. And he is. In chapter two of Where Can I Flee, Claire Harper describes George as a man who can keep a secret. I didn’t realize at the time that’d he could even keep them from me! I mean, I created him! You’d think I would know all of his secrets. But no.

My fellow authors are likely laughing and thinking of their own favorite hardheaded character while my readers are likely getting a side of writing that they didn’t know even existed. For those new to the idea, let me just fill you in. When you give life to a character, as the quote above suggests, you’re no longer the one in charge. A writer might feel powerful at the keyboard but we all know who really pulls the strings.

So, what did I do with my secret-keeping George Chandler? What didn’t I do is more the question. Lol I knew who George was and I understand parts of his story, but he was guarding a major moment of his life. I was going to expose his great shame and he wouldn’t let me.
I revisited his character profile. I found a song that mirrored his heart. I begged. I pleaded. But I was rewarded with silence.
At one point, I even threw my hands in the air and threatened to write him in the scene wearing a pink bonnet and leading a bunny around town on a leash. Lol I thought surely he’d cave now! What Civil War Vet in his right mind wouldn’t? George. That’s who.

When none of my tactics would work, I went to my friend, Dana, for advice. She suggested a couple techniques for finding your character’s voice. Or in this case, reconnecting with your character. Writing a journal and writing an obituary. Sounds weird, huh? Here’s how it works…

The obituary is probably the strangest idea I’ve heard but the purpose is to learn more about your character. Who is this person? What would others say about them? What are their quirky habits? Or dislikes that their family teased them over? Writing an obituary for your character is more than just rewriting the facts that we put together during the character profile. It’s a free-hand writing exercise to discover more about your character that you might not have considered before. For me, writing free handed tends to free up my creative thinking and new details come to life.

For George, this particular exercise didn’t work. He really is pretty tight lipped, even on the page, so I probably should have seen this coming.
The next idea was to write a journal for the character. I sat down to do this and George came to life. His journal turned into an interview, which works much the same. Journal writing is another free handed exercise that allows you to ONLY dig into your character’s voice and personality until hearing from them becomes pretty natural.  The obituary is written from someone else’s point of view while the journal is written by the character.
My interview with George is pretty eye-opening and I’ll share part of it with you further down.

From the author, I’d love to know if you’ve had any experiences with hardheaded characters? Have you tried either of these writing exercises or do you plan to in the future? Follow the link to read other character development exercises.

For the fan, I hope you enjoy this peek at George’s interview. He’s certainly a remarkable person. If you’re looking for more behind the scenes details about your favorite characters, follow the link.

People often think that I’m cold and unfeeling, but I’m not. You think so too. I’ve heard you trying to coax me out. Threatening me with bonnets and bunny rabbits. Haha You do have a mischievous imagination. I admire that, but I’m afraid that I won’t succumb to it.
I’m not easy to bully, you see. I grew up with Eddie if you’d remember. And I’ll not bend unless it is my desire to do so.

– What do you desire?

To do what is right. Honor and nobility is not a dead thing that passed away with the age of the knights.

-So when you decide a plan of course to be right and good, you pursue it without end?

Precisely!

-Is it ever difficult?

Of course. Doing what’s right usually is. It’s often fairly easy to decide on the right course, but staying on is where the real difficulties lie. Sometimes…standing firm in one’s predetermined conviction is the hardest test of all. But a conviction that is easily swayed, is no conviction at all, but simply a mirror of the thoughts surrounding you.

-You speak so nobly of conviction, and yet you speak with experience of its difficulties. Are you thinking of something in particular right now?

You ask because you already know that I am. You wish for me to bare my secrets. Those secret thoughts that I’ve kept from you all these months. You forget that you made me wise to the conduct of others. You’ve created me to be a silent observer. A person capable of reading another as naturally as I read my own thoughts. I see by the shade of your cheeks and the curious lift of your brow that you wish to know how I knew your question was more loaded than the words appeared. The increase of color and smile has proven me right.
Well, I knew what you wanted because I could see your eagerness building with each question. Plus you’ve asked me some rather pointed questions in the past and I have ignored them till now, so I knew what you were after.
Very well! I will tell you what you wish to know. Lead the way.

-I know you have misgivings about the war. Explain…

Because the rest of the interview contains some spoilers, I’m not able to post it in full. However, I offer it for free to any of my fans that wish to read it. You’ll want to have read both Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings first.
For the full interview, simply comment below with your email address or email me privately.
If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy digging into this quiet character. I was able to find out about his true feelings about the war as well as his real feelings for Claire. Until this interview, even I wasn’t sure how deep his feelings for Claire ran.

Posted in About the Book

Behind the Scenes: Character Development: The Withdrawn

82

If you’re finding this post for the first time, you’ve entered into the middle of blog series on character development. My purpose for this series is to laugh along with fellow authors at the antics of our characters as well as pass along some proven tips. For the reader, I hope to entertain them with tidbits about their favorite characters that they most likely didn’t know simply by reading the book.

Fictional characters, you see, have a personality on and off the page. They are as real as any one of us. And like us, they aren’t always easy to work with. Some characters are naturally open and willing to talk. Others need more encouragement. You can read the previous posts on Easy Going Characters and Underdeveloped Characters if you like.

Today I want to talk about those Withdrawn characters. These are the characters that are fully developed, have a story to tell, but just aren’t so open to telling it. They need some coaching. How would you draw out a shy person in the workplace or at school? You’d find something that interested them and talk to them about it. You’d make a point to sit down and conversate with them.

Rose Forrister is one of my newest heroines that you’ll meet on the pages of Out of the Ashes. Rose has a wonderful story to tell and an amazing, spit-fire of a personality. But for some reason, she didn’t want to open up to me. I thought to, quite literally, bake her favorite orange scones and sit at the table with her to chat when something unexpected happened. She sang.

I was listening to a Kelly Clarkson cd when I found Rose’s voice. Her motivation. Her story. Her personality. They were all wrapped up in this one song. Suddenly scenes and dialog were coming to light. This beautiful character that had so perfectly hidden from me was suddenly revealing herself and all I had to do was play the song.

I soon discovered other songs to associate with other characters and their storylines. This became a wonderful tool as I plotted out the novel and even as I wrote key scenes.

Authors: Have you used music in developing any of your characters?
Readers: Interested in hearing some of the characters’ favorite songs? Keep reading. 🙂 

Rose’s song is Because of You by Kelly Clarkson. She seemed to really like Kelly and agreed with nearly the entire cd. When we first meet Rose, she’s recovering from a broken heart. Someone she loved most of her life has tossed her aside, leaving her feeling vulnerable and a little bitter. Well, a lot bitter. If Rose were to call into her favorite radio station tonight, she would dedicate this song to Archie Dunnaway.

 

Without stirring up any comments or spoilers, here’s a song that Eddie Chandler dedicated to Claire. And what a beauty!! This was one of the first songs that a character spoke out on.

 

There are two songs that remind me of Frank Harper. The first one always makes me cry.  It’s the story of his salvation. The second song shares the struggle he battles in the upcoming release. Enjoy them both!!

 

George Chandler is more of a quiet man. I’ll share about my difficulties with this particular character next week, but suffice it to say that I’m not the only one he withholds from. He’s a sweetheart through and through, but he’s not so open about his feelings. That’s where this next song comes into play. When I heard If I Let You Go it had George’s name all over it. The second song, More Than That, shows his tender side. He’s willing to love and love greatly. Now if only he can convince a certain gal of this. 😉
I listened to both of these songs countless times while working with George’s scenes. It helped me keep in touch with who he is and his storyline.

 

Melissa Lowe is another new heroine that I’ll introduce you to in the pages of Out of the Ashes. I’m not ready to say too much about my dear Melissa but I will let you know that she’s in love with someone that doesn’t love her in return. She’s such a patient thing and Anytime by Kelly Clarkson comes from her heart.

 

When fan favorite, Ralph Williams, finds himself in the dog house there is no other song that showcases the heart of this broken man quite like this one does.

 

And for one last song! Completely, has become the theme song for Out of the Ashes. I’m not sure I ever hear this song anymore where I don’t hear Ralph, Frank, and George’s voices ringing out. The broken spirit and need of God’s healing touch is the very core of the story.

 

I’d love to hear back from you! Did you find yourself connecting with one of the songs from my characters? Are you more intrigued by one of the characters based on their chosen song?

 

Posted in About the Book

Behind the Scenes: Character Development: The Underdeveloped

81

I’m doing a 4-month blog series on character development. I want this series to be both for the writer and the reader. I hope to fellowship with other authors and pass along some tips while also entertaining the readers by showing you a side of your favorite characters that you’ve never seen before.
If you’re finding this series for the first time, you’ve entered in on the 2nd post. I’ll post the next installment on the first Monday of May. Here’s a link to last month’s post if you missed it.

I’m a learn as you go sort of gal. When I started writing, I hadn’t planned on it. Meaning, I didn’t attend college with the thought of writing fiction. In fact, I hadn’t even picked up my first book on writing until I had written my first novel. So there were several things that I learned later in my journey that might have made things easier to have known up front. Character development is one of those things.

If you read last month’s post you would have read a list of easy to work with characters. I truly had a writer’s dream cast in my first novel and didn’t even know it! With characters ready and willing to spill their guts and allow me into the dark corners of their minds, it’s little wonder that I was confused when I came across a character that wouldn’t speak to me. After working with Claire, Frank, Olen, and Ralph in Where Can I Flee, I wasn’t prepared for the withdrawn Sally Chandler in In the Shadow of Thy Wings. So why wouldn’t this sweet gal talk to me?

So why wouldn’t this sweet gal talk to me?

I sought the advice of a dear friend of mine, Dana Kamstra. Dana, along with being my writing buddy, is a gold mine for writing advice. She approaches writing the way any serious student should: she studies it. So she’s my go-to gal when I need a new technique. She helped me to understand that an underdeveloped character won’t speak. She also passed on one of her favorite (and now one of my favorite) writing books, Plot versus Character by Jeff Gerke.

Plot vs Character helped me to understand which questions to ask and how to layer the many details of any character together until you have someone that looks and feels real. One of the focal points is understanding the character’s Briggs Personality. And this is where the fun begins… 🙂

For those that have never heard of Briggs, let me explain. He basically narrowed down 16 foundational personality types. By answering a series of questions, they’ll determine your personality type. If you’ve never done this for yourself, try it out! It’s fun and enlightening. Take the test for free here.

And then enjoy my favorite site for gathering extensive information about the personality types.

As an author, this is now one of my first stops to character development. Once I have a personality type determined, I’m able to see how this person may react to different situations and it helps me understand them.

Now for some fun, let’s talk personality types. I had taken the test and learned that I am ISFP – The Artist
Once I began exploring the personality type, I found that it made a lot of sense. Suddenly I understood why I found beauty in random objects like a plate of food. Other oddities suddenly made sense, like how I can’t stand to be locked into a schedule. I like the freedom to decide what I want to do and when I want to do it. I seriously have never been able to resist rebelling against my own schedules. Lol
I hate conflict but am a great listener and peacemaker. I pick up on the feelings of other people and am a good judge of character. A perfectionist and fiercely loyal.
It’s been helpful to me as I dug deeper into my personality type and began to understand the whys behind the things that I never noticed about myself before. I stopped trying to schedule myself and embraced my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mentality.

How about your favorite characters from the Ancient Words Series
Claire Harper: ESFP The Performer
Claire is at home being the center of attention. She’s fun-loving and chatty.
Frank Harper: INFJ The Protector
Frank tends to stick to things until they’re finished. He’s sensitive and quietly forceful.
Eddie Chandler: ESTP A Doer
Eddie is spontaneous and compulsive. He’s a man of action and not words.
George Chandler: ISFJ The Nurturer
George is very responsible with a deep desire to serve others. He’s gifted at observing other people.
Sally Chandler: ISFP The Artist
Sally is very quiet and kind. She’s sensitive to the feelings of others and she HATES conflict.
Ralph Williams: ENTJ The Executive
Ralph is a take-charge kind of person. He’s a natural leader and a long term planner.

Now it’s your turn! What is your personality type and how does it fit?

Posted in About the Book

Behind the Scenes: Character Development: The Easy

80Have you ever enjoyed a movie or tv show and been so caught up in the chemistry between the characters on screen, only to be shocked to learn in an interview that behind the scenes the actors hated each other? The hero in your favorite show is actually a jerk when the camera isn’t on. He shows up late, he brings his nasty attitude, or he’s so drugged up that it’s a wonder they were able to film at all. Or the leading lady known for stealing hearts on screen is the most difficult diva on the face of the earth.

Well, let me let you in on a little secret we authors know all too well: the same can be said for literary characters. You’d think that with the written word, the author was the one in charge. But, Nooooooooooo. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You see, there’s a reason why readers often comment on how real the character felt. Or how the characters just came to life. It’s because they ARE real. And like real people, they have different attitudes and different work ethics. The author’s job then is learning how to connect with each character so that they can find their story and share it with everyone else.

I’ve worked with some diverse characters recently and I want to share my experiences with you. I want this to be a fun and encouraging experience for everyone.
For the reader, I want to show you some insider information about some of your favorite characters. I’m going to show you which ones were easy to work with and which ones I had to coax out of their shell.
For the fellow author, I want to laugh along and share the common experiences together as well as share some techniques that have been successful for me.
I intend to share these fun details in a new blog series that I’ve titled, Behind the Scenes: Character Development. You’ll find a new installment to the series on the first Monday of every month. Today, we’ll kick it off with those Easy-Peasy Characters.

An easy to work with character would be a character that needs no coaxing. Someone who is always ready to share the details with me. Someone whose voice appeared in my head so naturally that I knew them from the first moment.

If you’ve read my series, it should not surprise you that Claire Harper would top the list of easy characters. Claire is known for being a chatty person and she’s exactly the same off the page. I never had to beg her to reveal scenes to me; she was always ready to talk. Her brother Frank is just like her, although he’s less chatty on page. From day one, Frank was willing to sit down and tell his story.
Their father, Olen, is known for being extremely quiet so it might surprise you to know that he’s extremely easy-going. Olen is most known for being laid back and delivering a timely one-liner. He’s often seen sitting quietly as everyone, mostly Claire, commands the entire scene with her chatter, but then seemingly out of nowhere, he speaks. And in that moment, he says so much more than anyone else in the room. And behind the scenes, Olen is the exact same way. He’s quiet by nature, but there’s an openness about him that makes him easy to work with.
Ralph Williams was another easy character for me to work with. He’s not as chatty as Claire by any means, but then few are. But there’s such an openness about him. He doesn’t feel the need to hold back or hide from me. The beautiful thing is when you get two very open and willing characters together they simply write the scenes themselves.
Eddie and Rachel Chandler, Danny-Ray Coffer, and Jimmy Allen were all easy characters to work with. Their roles were smaller but I didn’t have to find them. When it was time to step onto the page, they were ready and willing to do their part. No questions asked.

Chapters 5 and 15 are both very popular scenes from In the Shadow of Thy Wings. Both are between Claire and Ralph and go down as the absolute easiest scenes I’ve ever written. These two know how to play off of each other so naturally. If only all scenes were written so effortlessly. Lol
Speaking of playing well off of each other, Claire and Frank have a natural talent for smooth scenes together. Being close friends and twins may have helped. 😉 My favorite and most effortless scene between the two is found at the end of chapter 13 of In the Shadow of Thy Wings.

I may have given you the illusion that all characters are simple and my job is pretty easy peasy. And for that, I’m sorry. Lol My job is anything but. I started you off with the easy guys first. But next month, I’ll introduce you to one of my more difficult characters. You’re gonna love it, I promise!

I’d love to hear back from my readers. Were you surprised to see some of these characters on my list for easy to work with characters or had you imagined them this way all along? Are you confused about not seeing someone on there that you thought would have made it? 

Posted in About the Book, Fiction Friday

February’s Writing Blitz: Love Never Fails: Week 3

11

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have heard about my husband’s trip to the ER. My husband’s lung spontaneously collapsed Friday morning. There was no rhyme or reason for it. No way to prevent it. The only answer they could give him was that this is fairly common in tall, skinny men. However, they normally only see this in men over 60 or younger guys between 18-22.
So what is a collapsed lung? The doctor explained that the lung leaked out air, putting air in between the lung cavity and the lung itself. This pocket of air doesn’t allow the lung to fill properly, leaving it in the collapsed position.
This is extremely painful. And a bit unnerving to know that this could happen on a whim without a hard hit to the chest.
The lung, however, will heal itself and the body can absorb the air in time. Because John’s case wasn’t so severe and his pain was the biggest issue, the doctor gave him the option of having a tube put in his side to draw the air out or just waiting a few days to see how things go on their own. He chose to wait, so now we wait until Wednesday to find out if there is any improvement. If there isn’t any improvement then he’ll need to either have the tube procedure done in the office or go for surgery and a longer hospital stay. The surgery doesn’t sound like fun, but they have reason to believe that this has happened before so there is a greater chance now of it happening again. The surgery can prevent this from happening to him again.
How is he today? He has permission from the doctor to return to work just as long as he can handle the pain he’s in. Last I checked, he seemed rather uncomfortable so I’m surprised he went to work. If at any point he feels that it’s getting worse, he’s supposed to call the doctor and head to the hospital.

When life surprises you, you have to just roll with it. I had major plans on the writing front but happily set these duties aside to handle things here at home. Because I spent the entire day at the hospital, I wasn’t at my desk that morning, putting the finishing touches on my progress report. Lol I apologize for those that read it. I didn’t have my finished numbers in the post or any of the links. I know you’ll be understanding, so I’m just gonna laugh this blunder off and move on. I am bringing the finished progress report to you today with some updated goals.

As mentioned, I’ve reached the half-way point in the first draft which means that I’m now going downhill. Similar to riding a bike downhill, my job suddenly seems easier and faster. I switched my goals around last week and started counting the number of scenes I’ve written instead of focusing on word count. I tend to do this when I’m nearing the end. It seems easier to count down the scenes as I  hone in on the ending. My goal last week was to write 6 complete scenes and I have written 9 scenes with a total of 7535 words for the week. There were days when it seemed impossible to write so all glory goes to God!! Now for your new clue…

Are you ready to hear something about our pal, Ralph Williams? I’m not ready to say much since I have to be ultra careful here with spoilers, but I CAN give you a song that I like to use as inspiration for his love life. Suffice it to say that our hero finds himself in the doghouse and will find himself begging for a second chance. Whether the lady will give in or not is yet to be seen. But you can hear the beat of his heart in the Backstreet Boys’ song, Crawling Back to You. Enjoy!

 

Week 4 Goals: I’m bouncing back and forth between throwing myself in my writing and pulling out another vacation card so that I can focus on my family and housework. I think my home needs some extra attention at this point.
I’ve decided to write as I’m able, but I’m not setting any goals and there will not be any progress report on Friday. Lord willing, I’ll come back swinging in March. 😉 I’m praying about finishing the entire first draft by the end of March. This will be a hefty challenge.

Prayer Requests: Clearly, we’re in need of prayers for my husband’s health. You’ll find updates on Facebook. Please continue to pray that God blesses my time and my efforts. Also that I’ll have a clear mind and be able to work unhindered when it’s time.

Catching Up: You can read the previous progress reports and the clues I’ve given out so far.
And just for fun, I have pulled up a previous post featuring some random facts about the Ancient Words Series. It was originally linked to a giveaway which is no longer in progress.

Posted in About the Book, Fiction Friday

February’s Writing Blitz: Love Never Fails: Week 2

11

If you’re following on Facebook, then you may have heard that I reached a few important milestones early in the week. I decided the timing was right to take a little break and rest up some. Turns out my plans, as always, are in God’s hands and my 3 school children were snowed in with me for all 3 days of my vacation. This made the timing perfect since it’s extremely hard to write with 3 boys and their little sister hanging around. 😉 

Now back to those milestones: 
I’m officially at the halfway point in the Out of the Ashes draft!!
The draft is now over 100 pages long (computer pages)!
AND I’ve crossed the 60,000 words mark!!

Even though I didn’t meet my goal for the week, I decided to share another clue just because I’m in charge and I can do things like that. Lol I’m bringing to you my favorite quote from the novel so far.

I had introduced a new character to you last month named Melissa Lowe. Melissa is shy and uncomfortable in social settings which is pretty tragic considering she’s on the hunt for a husband. After another big upset, she’s seeking the comfort of her loving Mammy who shares some beautiful advice with her. Melissa wants to know how to be sure when she’s found the right guy to which her Mammy replies, 
“…You’ll know he’s the one when he works at lovin’ ya.”

This is the first quote that I’ve shared from the novel and I hope you enjoyed it and the subtle advice on how to love others. Let us never forget that more than emotional, love is action. Love is a verb. That’s why we can add “d, s, and ing” to it, after all. 😉 I hope you act loving every day, but as you set out to celebrate Valentine’s Day this weekend, remember to show love in action.

Next week’s goals: I’m gonna change up the way I track my progress simply because I’m in charge and I like to do odd things like this from time to time. Lol Instead of tracking word count, I’ll be tracking the number of scenes I complete. I’m setting the bar on the low side but praying to go above and beyond that. My goal is 6 completed scenes.

Prayer Requests: Please pray that God blesses my time and efforts. I’d love to double my goal but I’m still feeling a bit sluggish and I see some interruptions on the horizon.

Catching Up: You can read the previous progress reports and their clues by following the link.
And just for fun, I’ve pulled up a link on love. I had hosted a love song contest where fans dedicated a love song to the couples from my series. We had a lot of fun. You can read the results here.