The Authors of Writes of Passage

The Authors of Writes of Passage

Monday, March 31, 2014

Please Join Us at Our New Location

The authors of Writes of Passage have moved to a new location. We are now the authors of Inspired by Life ... and Fiction.

Please follow the link and join us there.

Robin Lee Hatcher

Goodbye, Writes of Passage, and Hello to our New Blog

Friends, we have arrived at the very last regular post on Writes of Passage. My goodness. I find myself feeling rather sentimental all of a sudden. I remember when I contacted Tammy back in 2008 and said, "Let's start a group blog." And before you know it we'd added three more authors and we were off.

Regular readers may have done the math already, but with the departure of four of our bloggers, we made the decision to return to a Monday through Friday blog, as we were in the beginning. So we invited two new bloggers to join our ranks.

As I wrote in a post earlier this month, our blog has needed not only a new and more appealing look but also a better platform. We are leaving Blogger behind us and moving to a self-hosted WordPress site. Hopefully there will be no more posts from Rosie (or anyone else) that get eaten!!

Our first official post will be tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1st, from Tamera Alexander.

And now, without further adieu, I invite you to join us today over on our new blog with its new address. (Be sure to bookmark us!) Read the bios. Check out our latest book covers in the carousel in the sidebar. See the events and giveaways that are already listed. And if you don't want to miss anything, sign up to receive our blog posts via email.

We hope you'll want to settle in a while with your friends who are ...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Antiques Roadshow, Anyone?


I admit it. I love “Antiques Roadshow.” I love learning about the wonderful vintage and antique artifacts—even though sometimes it makes me feel old when someone wants to know about a toy I played with as a child. Ouch.

Values are interesting, but it’s the stories that draw me to the show. “We were driving down the road, and there was all this stuff out by the trash …” or “I bought it at a garage sale because I loved it … but I’m not quite sure how old it is. I just want to know more about it.” That kind of thing.

I think the “Antiques Roadshow” bug probably resides in the same part of my brain that inspired my three Quilt Chronicles books. My ever-present wondering, “if this thing could talk … what stories would it tell?” 

Do you love estate sales, tag sales, garage sales, & auctions? I always have. “The bug” may be contagious, but I don’t think it’s genetic, because only two of my four children “caught it.” A couple of weeks ago my daughter sent me a phone photo of a very old book of hymns that she’d found at an estate sale. I ended up driving over to the sale, where I had a great time admiring the built in oak book shelves with leaded glass doors and so much more about the old house. It was one of those “if these walls could talk” houses that had been well loved and well lived in—a house that deserved a bit of updating and a lot more years of love from a family.

About an hour and a half and less than forty dollars after stepping in the front door, I had acquired an antique oak chair, a box of books, several pieces of etched stemware, two brand new pillow forms, an elegant gentleman’s cashmere and wool dress coat, and this. So here’s the fun: can you tell from these two close-ups of part of it, what I was most excited about bringing home from this particular estate sale?

I was prepared to pay the whopping sum of $5 for it, but as it happened, it was late on the last day of the estate sale, and so everything was half price. So my new treasure cost me $2.50.

After you guess, scroll to the end of this post and you can see what it is. My two best buddies dropped by today and helped me set it up. Now I can have a party. And think about a story inspired by this hand-made artifact. A connection to the past and another woman I never met. The woman my “new/old” artifact was made for. We undoubtedly would have been friends.

What’s your favorite vintage find from an estate/tag/garage sale?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Loving Pets

I'm the proud owner of a dog who loves to help me write books.  Meet Sam, my four year old Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

He's great at giving me a soundtrack of quiet snoring to make sure I don't feel alone when I'm writing.  He will voluntarily function as a lap desk, as you can see.  He'll let me cuddle him for as long as I require whenever I'm staring at a wall and frantically thinking What am I going to write next???  He's extraordinarily compassionate.  When I experience a writing set-back, he stares at me with his dark liquid eyes and listens with rapt empathy.  

All of which got me to thinking.  If I have a dog who enjoys writing books, then there must be several pets out there who enjoy reading them.  So I asked a few of my readers if they owed a book loving pet.  Their responses were immediate! 

Book Loving Dogs

Samwise Gamgee here is a rescue.  He's also the joy of Susan's heart.  Susan and her husband are empty nesters and so their dogs are their grandkids.

Jake is happiest curled up with Christy and a great book.  He's her best writing buddy.

Hershey is a two year old long haired dachshund who was rescued from a shelter.  Like his owner, Melissa, he's a fan of suspense and coffee.

Jackson helps his owner Rebecca keep up to date on which books are coming out.  He's a social media guru.

Mitzi is a ten year old mini schnauzer.  Lisa tells me that she loves to read Christian romance novels.  Here she is with her latest read.  She was so engrossed in it that she didn't get a thing done.

Here's Kelsey and Hamlet, plugging away on a must read together.

Book Loving Cats

Kiki always finds a way to demand Dawn's attention when she's reading.  She loves historicals but dislikes Kindles because they're hard when they bump her on the head.

Oscar thinks it's helpful to sit on Marion's lap and hold her arm while she's trying to type.

Willow was so small when Kimberly found her that she could fit on Kimberly's palm with room to spare.  

Tolkien likes to sit ON TOP of Tima's books while she's reading.  Sometimes, for extra fun, he'll plant both paws on her reading material.

How's that for a daily dose of cuteness?!!

Are you fortunate to have a book loving pet in your life?  If so, I'd love to hear about him/her!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The New and Improved is On Its Way

Hey, friends. Are you getting excited to see our new site? We're excited to have you join us there.

When Tammy and I put our heads together (a dangerous activity, I know), our first goal was to come up with a name for our new site. A name that represented the authors and would be inviting to our readers.

So here's something for you to nibble on. The first word in our new name begins with an I and is eight letters long. Any guesses?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Each Day is History in the Making

One of my favorite shows is returning to PBS in the States for another season beginning this Sunday (March 30th). I'm talking about Call the Midwife. I love this show every bit as much as I love Downton Abbey, although they are nothing alike. I haven't yet read the books the show is based upon, but I do own them and they are rising to the top of my TBR shelf.

Since Season 3 is about to begin, I decided to rewatch Season 2 while walking on the treadmill. One of the story lines of Episode 1 of the second season was the introduction of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to the pregnant women of the East End. I don't recall this making an impression on me the first time or two I watched the episode, but now this "historical" TV show suddenly made me feel historical myself. As in ancient history.

Why? you ask.

Because when I gave birth to my first daughter (more than a decade beyond the setting of this episode, BTW), they administered nitrous oxide to me (and I didn't care for it; made me nutty). But that wasn't the worst of it. They also tied my wrists with leather straps to that totally flat operating table in that brightly lit operating room where fathers weren't allowed.

Archaic! Have I mentioned I'm claustrophobic? I took off a layer of skin fighting to get at least one hand through one of those straps, and I managed it too.

I was present for the births of three of my six grandchildren, and things had changed so much from my experience in the same hospital. Beautiful delivery suites that bear no resemblance to sterile operating rooms, although everything needed for the birth is there. Husbands and family members present and able to walk around with the mothers. Beds that adjust to whatever position the mother finds most comfortable. Even a jacuzzi tub!

The midwives of the 1950's believed they were giving the absolute best care to the women having babies. I'm sure the doctor and nurses who delivered my first child thought the same. But what will women in 2080 think of the care given and the methods used during deliveries in 2014? Will they apply the word archaic the way I did to my personal experience?

Hmm. I guess we forget that every day of our lives is history in the making.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Outlook

I haven’t thought of much new to blog about, so I’ve decided to use today's post as an excuse to relive our recent too-brief vacation. Like many winter-weary Minnesnowtans, my family took a warm-weather escape last week. We hadn't done a spring break trip with the boys before, but I snapped under this year's endless, record-breaking cold snap. We cashed in every last frequent flier mile in exchange for 4 tickets to Orlando. 

From there, we spent a day at the two Universal Studios parks, going on various simulator rides and roller coasters—motion sickness being my price to pay for spending the following two days the way I wanted—on the beach. 

Leaving the crowded whirl of theme parks behind, we went to St. Pete’s Beach on the gulf coast, reputed to be a little warmer, and the sand whiter and softer. The forecast called for the 70s, which may not be tropical, but at 50 degrees warmer than temps in our home state, it sure felt good. The chilly water kept all but the youngest and stoutest swimmers on shore, and my polar bear sons were among them—for twenty minutes or so. It was my 13-year-old’s first time in the ocean, and how I enjoyed watching them both jump over waves and attempt to body surf. It took me back to summer vacations from my youth, when my brothers and I played in the ocean. My mom wanted to take us to this museum or that, but all we wanted to do was swim and body surf. Maybe I’ll have to take my boys again when/where the water is warmer. Oh, all right, twist my arm!

Just for grins, here was the beach view from our hotel last week in Florida, compared to the beach view from our house today. Sigh. It was nice while it lasted.

Now, we’re home in Minnesota, the boys are back in school, and I’m back at work on revisions for my next book. For the next month or so, the only place I’m going is on a diet! Yes, in case you were wondering, you cannot sit all winter and eat whatever you want on vacation and not gain weight. I did the experiment for you; you can take it from me.

Hope warm weather reaches your neighborhood before it reaches ours. Happy Spring!

Did you take a winter getaway this year?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Please Welcome Another New Member of Our Blog Family

While it's difficult to say goodbye when folks leave, it is a whole lot of fun to say welcome when folks arrive. And we just know you're going to be excited to say welcome along with us to our newest blogger.

Can you guess who it is from the sliver below? (My sliver is bigger than Tammy's was of Deb so you may know that smile immediately!)

How about I give you a few clues from her official bio?
  • This bestselling author graduated from high school at sixteen and from college at twenty.
  • She finished her specialty degree (not telling what) at the age of twenty-seven.
  • She started writing her first novel just nine years ago and has since had sixteen books published.
  • She is a wife and a homeschooling mom.
  • And (not included in her official bio) she now has a serendipitous connection with George Clooney.

Have you guessed yet? That last clue will have given it away if you've read her latest book.

Okay, I won't drag this out any longer.

Welcome, Cara Putman!

I first met Cara at a writers' retreat (at least five years ago, perhaps a little longer), and she is every bit as sweet as she looks in her photograph. It has been fun to get to know her better over the years because of some email groups we are in together.

I was so excited when Cara answered my invitation to join our blog with a Yes. She is going to be such a lovely addition. And when she shares from her historical research, I know you're going to learn a lot. Look for her posts on Thursdays beginning in April.

Oh, and I'll let her tell you about that George Clooney connection herself.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

7 Reasons Why I Stop Reading a Novel

I've noticed over the past couple of years that I've developed an especially bad habit–I'm having a harder and harder time finishing novels that I pick up.

I wasn't always so hard to please! There once was a time when I finished almost every book I started.

But these days, my shelves (both real and virtual) are overflowing. My audio book club points are waiting for me. And I also have books regularly coming in for influencer or endorsement purposes.

I have plenty to read. But not enough time.

And to be perfectly honest, the longer I write, the harder it gets to find books that I like. My internal editor often comes out in the middle of books and gets impatient or too picky.

If I had to list the top 7 reasons why I stop reading a book, here they are:

1. Not enough conflict and tension.

This is absolutely the number one reason why I put down a book. If the story doesn't introduce me to the central problem and the ensuing issues right away, I'm likely to get bored. Even if the conflict is introduced right away but is weak, contrived, or non-cohesive (ebbs and flows with nonessentials), I still might yawn. Every time I set a book down, I need a compelling plot line that makes me want to return.

2. The characters don't make me care. 

This is the second main reason why I put books down. If the characters are abrasive, boring, unheroic, or simply haven't done anything to make me like them, then I usually have a hard time staying tuned to the story.

3. Too slow moving. 

Even with good conflict and tension, and even with characters that I've grown to care about, if the story begins to slow down or the author slips in paragraphs/scenes that don't move the plot along, I often lose interest. This includes backstory dumping or internal narration with very little else going on.

4. Overwriting.

If the writer describes too much, has verbose dialogue, has large paragraphs, is redundant, overuses adverbs or dialogue tags, or is just plain wordy, I usually start skimming. I like to get to the heart of the story and only need to know those things that truly add flavor and character.

5. Lack of depth. 

If a major part of the story happens at a very surface level or if the writer doesn't take me deeper into the passions and emotions of the characters, then it's harder for me to engage with the story. This is often connected with the development of the character and the lack of past pains and motivations that usually drive the emotional current of the story.

6. Subject matter doesn't appeal.

Yes, sometimes, for whatever reason, the subject matter of the book or the themes don't hit me deeply enough. Or perhaps the character growth/issues seem superficial. Or the whole plot of the book centers around something that just doesn't hold my attention.

As much as we want to give weight to all topics, subjects, and settings, there is some truth about universal commercial appeal and finding themes most people can relate to on some level.

7. Amateur writing. 

This could take on the form of a number of things including not writing by scenes, too much telling and not enough showing, underwriting (not giving me a sense of setting or character), over-dramatizing (so that the story isn't believable), or even making beginner mistakes (using clich├ęs, stilted dialogue, too many characters, etc.).

So those are my top reasons for putting a book down and not picking it back up!

On the other hand, I have to agree with Jane Austin, "If a book is well written, I always find it too short."

Now YOUR turn! What are the main reasons YOU stop reading a book?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Welcome the newest member of our blogging family!

Hey friends, it's with excitement (and a tiny bit of snark) that I welcome the newest member of our close-knit community in our cozy corner of the internet. (How's that for use of alliteration?)

But first, I want to see if you can guess who it is! Ready? Okay....go!

Do you recognize her from this tiny sliver?

If you do, I'm not surprised because this vivacious woman is known everywhere for her sweet smile and warm personality. Well, at least by those who don't know her well enough yet...

I first met this author in 2001 in Kansas City at the first American Christian Fiction Writers Annual Conference. I think it was her smile that first drew me, then the way she nodded so compassionately as she spoke to us new writers who had no clue what we were doing. 

She, on the other, wrote her first novel, which was published within five months (if memory serves), and which also then became an award winning movie! Talk about starting your writing career off with a bang!

Do you know who it is yet? 

We've already told her she's doing to love all of you, and I know you're going to love her too. So without further delay, help me welcome this bestselling author, a dear friend––and my writing critique partner for 11+ years and counting––Deborah Raney!

I can't tell you how excited I am to be part of this wonderful group of authors! 

I've enjoyed the wit and wisdom here on Writes of Passage since its inception, and while I'm sad to see Carol, Judy, Kim, and Tracie go, I'm delighted to be stepping into and clomping around in their shoes––despite having no hope of actually filling those shoes.

For those of you who don't know me, my usual professional intro goes like this: 

Deborah Raney is probably best known for her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, which was the inspiration for the award-winning World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Deborah's women's fiction has won the RITA Award, Carol Award, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and has twice been a finalist for the Christy Award. She has been writing for over twenty years and enjoys teaching at writers conferences across the country. Blah blah blah...

All true, but my favorite part of my bio, is often left out: (Wait. Before we go any further, my friends call me Deb. If you're reading this blog, you are my friend.) 

Deb's early success launched her career as a novelist after almost twenty happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, love traveling to visit four children, and five precious grandchildren who all live much too far away. The Raneys recently traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb's novels––for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita.

I truly love the writing life and am very grateful God gave me this next thing to do, since, if a mom does her job right, she eventually puts herself out of a job! 

Deb's "tiny" family

But our four kids––all but one married now, and scattered from Texas to Missouri to Germany––are the real joys of our lives. Especially now that they've started producing a delightful crop of grandkids for us! We have four little boys and a sweeter-than-pie pig-tailed little girl––and the hope of at least a few more to come. How rich our lives are because of them!

Deb's adorable grandkids

On the writing front, after a year with two print books, and an e-book releasing, plus having just published my first indie e-book (an expanded and updated re-issue of my second novel), I'm excited to have the first book of a new series coming out this summer. The Chicory Inn Novels are set in Missouri (where both our daughters live––research is a great excuse to go visit those grand babies), and I'm discovering that my beloved characters have a lot in common with both my family of origin and the family I raised. 

I'm eager to get to know you better, and eager to share my life with you through this blog. 

If we could sit down and share a cup of coffee together, you'd soon learn that besides my family and Jesus, I am passionate about traveling, teaching at writers conferences, decorating our home on-the-cheap, exploring antique shops, flea markets, and garage sales, trying new recipes (though my hubby is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, so don't expect anything gourmet from me!), watching movies, and of course, READING great books. (You'll also learn that I'm passionate about using parentheses!)

Can't wait to hear about the things that make your world go round! So please, tell me!


                                                    Visit Deb's website

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Bag of Bargains

I don't know about you, but I love a great sale. I'm so busy these days with writing and my day job and keeping up with my 3 kids and all their activities, that I just don't have time to chase sales anymore. So when I happen to run into a store and find things on sale, it's like Christmas.

This weekend, I ran into the grocery store to buy the Lunchables my son wanted for school this week, and lo and behold - there was a buy one get one sale going on for all kinds of fun stuff. I tried not to investigate too closely, but those end caps got me several times. I came home with two packages of strawberries and two cartons of ice cream that I had not intended on buying, not to mention the giant fresh salmon filet I got on special.

Yes, I'm a sucker for a good discount. Especially on my greatest weakness . . . books. So, in honor of spring finally arriving (at least on the calendar if not in the weather), I thought I would share some book sales with you.

The Husband for Hire series by Kelly Eileen Hake, daughter of our much beloved Writes of Passage former blogger, Cathy Hake, are all on sale for only $0.99 each at Amazon.

Click to Order Strong and Stubborn


Then, Mama Hake has a book of her own on special. I read Fancy Pants several years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. The sale price seems to be fluctuating between $1.99 and $2.51 on Amazon.

And for those of you who enjoy a good western with a touch of romance, you can get Yvonne Harris's book, The Vigilante's Bride, also for only $2.51.

Click to Order The Vigilante's Bride

Finally, the best sale of the bunch . . . FREE!!!

The books pictured below are free for download right now. I've read all three of these books and enjoyed each of them. I would gladly recommend them for those who love historical romance.

And if you don't have an e-reader? Well, I understand. I held out a long time before finally getting one for Christmas last year. I still read paper books, but I must admit it's nice having one device that holds so many titles. And remember, you can download the Kindle app for free to your smartphone or tablet without having to purchase another device. You can even download the Kindle app to your PC.

Oh, and if you have a Nook, I believe these sales are also valid at B&N.

  • What do you think about e-book sales? 
  • Do you look for discounted books or just get excited if you stumble across a good deal? 
  • Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer paper books?

Happy Reading!