World Blog (Writing Process Blog) Post

Well, today is the day! The day I’ve been tagged to post for the World Blog (Writing Process Blog). I’ve been anxiously eagerly awaiting this day ever since fellow Pelican Book Group author, E.A. West, tagged me. Stop by her blog to learn more about what she writes and her books. I know she has a new YA novel coming soon which I'm looking forward to reading. 

A bit about Cindy: She is an award-winning author of more than 10 titles both in print and out of print. She is also a mother, wife, teacher, and homeschooler. Originally from California, Cindy transplanted to North Carolina with her husband and two sons nine years ago. A previous middle school history and English teacher, she now writes Inspirational Christian and Sweet Fiction in several sub-genres for the Adult and the Young Adult. Visit her website and take a look at the books she currently has on Amazon.

About my writing process:

1) What am I working on?
The question is what am I not working on? I have several projects going right now, but today I am going to talk about my YA Faery Guardian series. The first book in the series was published way back in 2010 and due to personal circumstances I was unable to write the remaining stories. Well, I received my rights back to that story and I am planning to self-publish the series in the near future. Book  1 Struck By Conscience (previously published), Book 2 Sold My Soul to a Frog (manuscript complete), and Book 3 Mirrored Beauty (outline plotted and ready to begin writing). The tagline for this series is: Urban Fairytales for the Modern Teenager.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think the voice is very much like Meg Cabot’s Princess Diary series. I like my books to be fun and humorous because life is already too serious. There is a fairytale element in each book, but not really any magic. Honestly, I think they are quite unique.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I write YA because I love reading it. I started reading them when I was a teen and I’m still doing it. I also taught middle school and I think the genre just stuck with me. My husband likes to say that I don’t want to grow up and I hope that’s true.

4) How does my writing process work?
I almost always begin with characters. In this series it was my first Faery Guardian, Dahlia, and her old-styled speech. It’s like having a Regency-era character in a modern day story. Then came Dahlia’s human charge, Charisma and her 2 other friends Avril and Deena. Next came the 2 other Faery Guardians, Brimble, who appears as a talking frog and Nova, the magic mirror. Then comes the plot. I do try to write out what I call a “Skeleton Plot.” Just enough to keep me going but not so detailed that my creativity feels cornered. I like to have main plot points and then allow my creative muse to take me on a ride to reach those points. I am an insatiable self-editor which slows my writing down. I have learned that even though I may want to edit, edit, edit as I go because it just doesn’t seem quite right, I have to keep plowing through the words and worry about editing later. I did that with a NANOWRIMO book this last November and wrote a 60k+ word book in 22 days. It was amazing!

Thank you for joining me today on my special World Blog Day. I have tagged a couple more authors who will be posting on their blogs July 22nd. Make sure to stop by and visit them.


Review for Breanna's Choice by Mary Manners

A few years ago, I was part of a review group. Due to personal circumstances I had to stop reviewing; however, I've decided to try to get back into reviewing some of those books which had been sent to me. First up is Mary Manner's short story, Breanna's Choice. This is just a short snippet about this book which I posted on Amazon for this author.

I've enjoyed Mary Manner's books for years. Breanna's Choice is no exception. It's a short, cute read that exhibits Ms. Manners skills as a story teller. I do admit I wish it had been longer and had gone into more depth. I wanted to know more about Breanna and Luke. It's a great way to sample this author's work. I'm planning to read one of her longer works next.

You can find it on Amazon for only $.99


Background Notes on the Book of Esther

I mentioned in my last post that I am doing the Beth Moore--Book of Esther--Bible study this summer. As I go through this Bible study on the book of Esther, I am taking stock of what I am learning and keeping some notes. I’ll be sharing some of those thoughts and notes here on the blog. Feel free to comment. I’d love to get some feedback.

I found it interesting that Esther is also called the Megillah. As in, ‘you didn’t have to tell me the whole Megillah’. This is the scroll of Esther which would be read on the holiday of Purim. It is long and pulls out showing the entire story. From the dictionary—slang: a long involved story or account megillah> Yiddish megile, from Hebrew mĕgillāh scroll, volume (used especially of the Book of Esther, read aloud at the Purim celebration)

The book of Esther takes place in the kingdom of Persia. This is during the time that has been called the Diaspora with the Jews scattered throughout the known world. What is different here versus in the book of Daniel is that the Jews are no longer under captivity. They had been freed during the reign of Cyrus. And the Jews who remained did so because they had so assimilated into Persian society.

 Being a student of the Holocaust (In college I wrote a paper on Jewish women and their resistance to the Holocaust which won the Jack Chinski Holocaust Memorial Award.), I can't help but see a parallel here. Back in Germany before the Nazi's took over, European Jews were assimilated to secular society in just this same way. It was the reason that when things got bad for them they stayed when they could have escaped. They considered themselves German or Polish first and Jewish second. They had also learned over the years that bad treatment of the Jews cycled through history and thought that eventually this too will pass. In the case of the Nazi's, that wasn't to be. But here in Persia, God had already set in motion a work to save his people before they even knew there was trouble brewing againist them.

Esther is a historical book, and being the historian that I am, I love reading the historical Biblical books. For me, it is fun to read a secular historian such as the ancient Herodotus (and you have to read him with a grain of salt—lots of bias and superstition) and how he records the exploits of the Persians like Cyrus and Xerxes and then read about them here in the Bible. It pulls me into His Word.

Another interesting thing about the book of Esther is that God is never mentioned. Not even once. But God is definitely in this book. Everything that happens is how God planned it—'for such a time as this'. Just like Ephesians 1:11 says: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”

Sneak Peak here: What I have learned after five lessons in the study of Esther is that God places us with specific people in specific places to do specific jobs. We may not like that idea but that is God's plan and who are we to argue with that.

Next time--my take on Xerxes and Vashti


Summer Bible Study

A couple weeks ago, I started a new Bible study. I love going to church Bible studies. Not only does it get me into the Word each and every day, but I also get to fellowship with lovely Christian ladies. The problem I seem to find for me is that during the fall/winter or the spring, things seem to pop up (school, life, frustrations, etc.…) that keep me from attending every week. And then I get behind and don’t want to go if I haven’t done the homework.(You know, you've probably been there.)

A good friend of mine invited me to start attending a Bible study at her church that would be held during the summer. I thought to myself, “how perfect!” That’s exactly the time of year I would love to attend a Bible study, but my church doesn’t hold them during the summer.

So, this summer I’m studying the book of Esther. We’re doing the Beth Moore study called Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman with the accompanying DVDs of Beth’s teaching (Wow! She’s some speaker, isn’t she?)

I’ve already learned so much from a book I thought I already knew pretty well (and I've only just started chapter 2!). I love history (history degree/history teacher here) & any Bible teaching that comes from a historical perspective makes me sit up and take notice more than anything else. And then once God has my attention, he pulls me into his Word and teaches me things about myself that surprises me. 

I’m looking forward to learning more from Esther and hopefully I’ll have the time to share some of those insights with you here.

Happy Reading Friends (& studying)!


Fall For You (Book1: The Jane Austen Academy): Review

As a long time Jane Austen fan, I've read many novels based on Jane's original novels. When I downloaded this book, I wasn't quite sure if I was going to like it, but I love YA novels and JA so I decided to give it a try. After about 4 chapters, I was enjoying the YA voice and characters but I wasn't quite sure about the characterization of Jane's original characters. This is more a novella than a novel. It reads very fast. With my busy schedule, I finished it in 2 sittings. That I read it so quickly is not just because of the length; it was also due to the writing. I wanted to keep reading and see how it was going to all play out. But as it was a shorter novel, there was just not enough time to fully develop the plot and characters as I would have liked. And as far as the characterizations, I feel like the author did relatively well incorporating key parts of the novels into a modern teenage world. However, I did not exactly like the way Lizzy was characterized. She came across a bit harsh and lacked Elizabeth Bennet's famous sense of humor and wit. Regardless, it was a cute, fun book and I did enjoy it. I plan to read the other books in the series.

You can download this first book in the series for free on Kindle at Amazon


Snippet Sunday 4/6: Excerpt from Andrea & the 5-Day Challenge (YA romance)

I'm participating in Snippet Sunday this week. Visit their Facebook page.

In this excerpt, Andrea is sitting with the object of her desire at a football pep-rally (It's spirit week and today is Dress as Your Favorite Superhero Day) and has just experienced a painfully awkward conversation through the throng of the crowd. To learn more about this title, read the previous post with blurb and cover art. Coming out this Fall from Pelican Book Group.

I leaned in near Luke, and he smelled really great—like something fresh and clean. He looked incredibly good in a suit and tie and I almost couldn’t speak. “I…I think I’m going to go back inside before the crowd converges.”
“Sure, OK.”
I’d assumed that to be the end of our conversation, but he turned his gaze to mine and smiled. “I’ll go with you.” Then he stood with me and took my hand to help me down the unsteady bleacher.
I thought I might just die then and there. Who was this guy? He was a seventeen-year-old gentleman. Did they even come like that these days? He was supposed to wear baggy shorts and have scraggly hair while he grunted rather than spoke to a girl, but instead this one had politely helped this girl down out of the football stands and planned to escort her back to her locker. Well, knock me over with a leaf blower.


Cover Reveal for my new YA Romance

In my years as an author, I've probably received 15 or so covers for my novels, novellas and stories. And I have to tell you that they are always exciting. It never gets old. Finally there is a 'face' (so to speak) for the novel you've poured your heart and soul into. This past week I received the cover art for my latest novel--coming later this Fall.

Isn't it gorgeous! I made the graphic extra large because I just love looking at it.

With every title, I have to fill out a cover art worksheet to assist the cover artist in creating the most representative cover for the book. I have never had a specific, concrete idea for any of mine until this book. I had this great idea about a girl holding a prayer journal on the cover, and I wanted a logo for the Aubrey Christian Academy series. Well, that's exactly what I got. And each of the subsequent titles in the series will be similar.

I'm incredibly excited about the release of this book. It's been over three years since I've had a title out and even longer since I've had a new novel. This is also a special book. I dedicated it to all the teenagers I've taught over the years. They have all inspired me and I pray and hope I have inspired them too.

Here is the unedited blurb for the book:

Dear Lord, 
I need Your help and sooner would be better than later. Wouldn't you know it, just as soon as I decided to attempt the youth group 5-Day Bible Study Challenge, my parents start acting stranger than ever and heaping on loads of pressure all to get me into Julliard. My friend Amy isn't any better, urging me to ask Luke Ryan to homecoming. As if the cute, transfer jock would actually go out with me. I mean, we're kinda friends, and I've enjoyed our Geometry study sessions, but in case she hasn't noticed, I'm the invisible one at Aubrey Christian Academy and I like it that way. On top of that, I have a feeling Luke's concealing something troubling behind those chocolate-brown eyes of his. I know I can be self-centered and a bit melodramatic, but I really do want to seek Your will for my life. Then maybe I'll even figure out which direction points up. 

Andrea Jamison
High School Junior, Change-o-phobic & Complete Neurotic