Vanessa’s Character Picks July 29, 2014

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Smell the Roses

“Where’s my briefcase?” Sheri rushed from the bathroom and glanced at her roommate sitting on the sofa.

Megan took another sip of coffee before pointing toward the door. “Right there.”

“I’ve got a nine o’clock meeting with Mr. Harmon.” Sheri grabbed her case and pushed her sleeve back to check the time.

“Slow down.” Megan shook her head. “You’ve got an hour to make a thirty-minute drive. Why don’t you give up this high-stress job, find a nice man, and settle down with a couple of kids?”

Sheri reached for the door and laughed. “Typical. Soon as a woman snags her own man, she turns matchmaker for her friends. Even those who don’t want to be tied down.”

“Oh, you’re tied down all right. To your job. What is your title now? Assistant head of public relations?” Megan set her cup on the coffee table and stood. “If a certain David Black walked into your office, you’d forget work soon enough.”

“David Black?” Sheri froze with her hand on the doorknob and stared at Megan while her heart beat an erratic tune. For seven years she had shoved the memories away. Now they tumbled through her mind.

She’d met David in college. After dating for two years, he proposed marriage. She remembered how her heart sang with joy as she leapt into his arms shouting yes. Late into the night they talked outside her dorm until their plans ended in heated words. David wanted to marry right after graduation. Sheri thought they should wait until she had her masters and he passed the bar exam and established himself in a prestigious law office. She had ambitions that couldn’t wait. Ambitions David didn’t understand.

Their engagement lasted two hours. When David walked away, he never looked back. She hadn’t seen him since graduation. He married less than a year later.

“His wife died, you know.” Megan pulled a ring of keys from her handbag.

Sheri’s heart lurched. She stared at her friend. “No, I didn’t know.”

“A couple of years ago, I believe. A drunk driver hit her car head on. Thankfully, she was alone.” Megan’s eyes brightened as she met Sheri’s stare. “I ran across an ad in the paper last week. Jones and Sheridan have added a new attorney. His name is David Black. I wonder if he’s your David.”

Sheri couldn’t move. She willed her heart to stop pounding against her ribs, as she schooled her features into an indifferent mask and pulled the door open. “What difference does it make? He made his choice, and I made mine. I’ll be late if I don’t go.”

David is here? Sheri drove, letting habit guide her car as she replayed the conversation with Megan. It doesn’t matter. Shearbrooke is too large a city for me to run into David unless I look for him, which I certainly won’t.

A construction detour sign blocked the street she normally turned on, so Sheri continued going straight. She gripped the wheel in frustration as she entered a residential area at a slower speed. After a couple of blocks, she turned left. She would save time by cutting through to a major street without following the detour all the way around.

A bump and jerk of her steering wheel as she turned the corner told Sheri one of her front tires had hit something. When she lifted her hands from the wheel the car seemed fine so she pushed to the speed limit and a little beyond. She’d gone halfway down the second block when a hissing sound caught her attention. This time when she checked the steering, her car pulled sharply to the right.

“I can’t believe this.” Her tire thumped with each revolution.

Sheri pulled to a stop against the curb and climbed out. Her right front tire was flat. She grabbed her cell phone and called work, explaining her situation to a secretary.

As she started to call for service, a fragrance penetrated her concentration. “Did your car get broked?”

Sheri turned toward a small voice and met a wall of roses. Red, pink, and white blossoms each larger than the palm of her hand grew on a hedge bordering a well-manicured lawn. They filled the air with a wonderful fragrance. Sheri breathed deeply.

“Do you like my flowers?” A small girl of about five stood at the wrought-iron gate watching.

Smiling at the child, Sheri moved closer to touch the satiny smooth petals of a pink rose.

“Daddy says don’t touch ’cause they bite.”

“Oh, I’m afraid he’s right.” A thorn held Sheri’s sleeve. Afraid she might tear the fabric, she struggled to release it only to find her skirt held securely by another thorn.

“What’s going on, Tera?”

Sheri froze at the sound of a voice she would never forget.

“Daddy, help the lady. She got caught.”

The gate hinges creaked in protest as David Black stepped through. He hesitated before a smile broke over his face.

“Well, well, what have we caught in our rose trap?”

“Hello, David.” Could he hear her heart pound?

“Hi, Sheri.” He stepped close and soon had her free. He studied her face. “It’s been a long time.”

“Yes.” Could he read the longing in her eyes?

“Tera and I are going to the zoo. Want to come with us?”

“The zoo?” Something important tickled her memory. Something she had to do at work.

“Yes, or are you too busy?” Pain mixed with challenge in his eyes.

Her job didn’t seem so important now. “Mr. Harmon can wait.”

“What?”

Sheri smiled at David and held her hand out to his daughter. She felt the child’s small hand slip trustingly into hers, while love she had tried to ignore for seven years welled in her heart. “Let’s go to the zoo.”

His laughter held a promise. She could scarcely wait to discover what it was. Maybe Megan was right. She had plenty of vacation time saved up. Might as well use some.

Two Lonely Hearts Blog

Workaholic – work·a·hol·ic – noun informal – a person who compulsively works hard and long hours.

Ephesians 2:9: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

John 10:41-42: And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Martha was a workaholic just as Sheri in the story above is, but Jesus reminded Martha that we need to take time to rest at His feet from time to time to renew our spirit. Like Martha, I’m guilty of spending too much time working and must guard those special times of quiet and rest while I seek the good that God has for me. How about you?

 

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Vanessa’s Character Picks July 27, 2014

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God is Our Refuge

God is Our Refuge

Since moving to Alabama, I’ve found that wind or rain storms pop up out of nowhere. All of a sudden it’s not comfortable outdoors, and I seek the shelter of my house. My comfy brick home is a refuge from straight-line winds and pelting downpours. In the winter, I remain toasty warm when the out-of-doors is getting a blanket of snow. Thank God for my safe and secure dwelling place.

 

However, my soul and spirit need a refuge as well—a safe harbor. God protects me from the storms of life—bitterness, doubt, fear, disappointment, loneliness. I’m not saying I never experience these punishing emotions, but when I do, I run to the Lord.

 

The book of Psalms contains a wealth of scriptures about how God is our refuge. 71:7 says, “But you are my strong refuge.” 94:22 assures us, “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God, the rock in whom I take refuse.” In 142: 5, David calls out, “I cry to you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’”

 

Want more like these? Look up refuge in your concordance. You’ll find enough to satisfy your soul.

 

No matter where we are in life, we need God—our refuge. On occasion I even picture myself in the throne room, next to Jesus or in His loving arms. Try it sometime.

 

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Vanessa’s Character Picks July 24, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks July 22, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks July 20, 2014

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Camy Tang on Writing, Independent Publishing and Knitting

camywebcopyIt’s always so wonderful to have an author back on IC for a second visit. Mostly because it means I haven’t offended her yet ;o). Which is why I am excited to have Camy Tang here today to add some insight to the worlds of writing, independent publishing and, yes, knitting.

Camy, thank you for joining us.

You’ve written Women’s Fiction/Romance, Romantic Suspense and I’ve heard through the grapevine you have written a Regency novel. Which genre do you enjoy writing the most, and why?

I love them all!!!!! I know that sounds completely schizophrenic. I love writing romance, period, and all those genres have romance in them.

Oh, I so get that!

I like the excitement of my Romantic Suspense series (because who doesn’t love a story with Asian hit men with guns?! ;) and all the dangerous situations I can put my characters through, just because I’m mean that way. :)

P-shaw, you just like to write mean.

I also love Contemporary Romance because of the thrill and fulfillment of falling in love, and it also enables me to let loose some of my humor. PreludeForALord lowres

I loved writing Prelude for a Lord, my first Regency romance, because I’ve loved Regencies since I was 14 years old and have read literally hundreds of them over the years, as well as gathering Regency research books to read just for fun. I only wrote my first one this past year because my editor dared me to, since we both love Regencies, and it was wonderful to finally be able to write in a genre that I love so much.

I can’t wait to read it.

Which genre do you enjoy reading the most, and why?

Regency is my favorite genre to read, but I have to also admit that I read very widely. The only genre I don’t read much of is women’s fiction, because sometimes I find that the hard emotional issues hit me personally a little too hard, and it hurts my creativity if I’m crying for 3 days over a book I just finished. One of my favorites that I’ve started reading is Dystopian novels. I love them!

I see you’ve ventured into the realm of independent publishing. What made you take the plunge?

Lacy Williams offered me an opportunity to join with other Love Inspired authors in a collection of novellas, and I jumped at the chance because I know and love each of these ladies even before working with them on this collection. I’ve been fans of their work for many years, including Lacy, who debuted with Love Inspired only a couple years after I did. It was really fun writing our stories and deciding on covers and back cover blurbs, and it’s been great to brainstorm marketing ideas and pool our collective fan bases. It also made me realize how easy self-publishing really is, and also to appreciate some of the things that traditional publishers do that I couldn’t on my own (without a great deal of hassle). It’s made me excited to continue to self-publish and also to continue with my traditional publishers, both for different reasons.

What is your favorite part of being an independently published author?

I really enjoy the freedom of being able to write what I want without publisher constraints. Because publishers market to a specific reader demographic, they often have in-house style guides for authors to adhere to so that the reader demographic isn’t surprised or offended by something in the books they print. I completely understand this, but at the same time there are some things I’d like to write about which I can’t with some of my publishers.

So true!

Also, with independent publishing, I’m not constrained by word count guidelines and can write as short or as long as I like. For the next Inspy Kisses collection, Sealed with a Kiss, I started out writing a novella but it ended up being a bit longer than a novella, but shorter than a typical Love Inspired novel (my story, Unshakeable Pursuit, is about 50,000 words). It was great to be able to let the story go where I wanted it to go without worrying about making my word count.

What is your least favorite part of being an independently published author?

I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best editors in the business through my publishing houses, and one aspect of independent publishing is that I now have to pay for my own editor. I’m used to high standards, and so then editors I choose to work with don’t come cheap. One of the best macro/developmental editors I’ve ever worked with is Meredith Efken, at the Fiction Fix It Shop (http://www.fictionfixitshop.com/) and she’s on par with many of the editors I worked with in my publishing houses. She’s not super cheap—she charges by the hour, typically—but she’s definitely worth the money. She has an incredible eye to see structure and character arc problems and point them out, and even better, she gives great suggestions for how to fix them.

I hear ya.

Do you have any advice for those considering independent publishing?

1. Get a good editor. I’ve read many independently published books (I’m a total ebook junkie, I will not deny it) and some of them were disappointing in that they needed a good macro editor to point out flaws in the story structure or characters. I’m not talking about grammar, typos, and line editing. A good macro/developmental editor will help you fix large-scale problems. It’s those large-scale problems that make readers dissatisfied with the character or the story pacing or with the ending, even though most readers can’t quite verbalize what exactly bothered them. A good macro editor will be able to see that and verbalize and help you to fix it. And trust me, even experienced writers need a good editor.

2. Make sure you have time to learn how to do it, but know that it gets easier after the first book. Learning how to self-publish was a learning curve, but once I did it, I realized how easy it really is. Don’t get overwhelmed—simply start a Word .doc listing all the things you have to do, and group things together that you can do at the same time. It’ll make it much easier to do things the next time, and it’ll help you visualize what needs to be done without being overwhelmed.

Great advice!

I understand you’re a knitting enthusiast (to the point of spinning your own yarn). What types of things do you like to knit?

I love lace knitting, and I’m rather fanatic about Victorian shawls. I’ve knit more of them than I can remember, and that’s partly because I knit several to give away for silent auctions. Right now I’m working on several to give away on my blog (http://blog.camytang.com/) in September to celebrate the release of my first Regency romance, Prelude for a Lord. I figured, lace shawls knit with patterns from the early 1800s would totally fit a Regency gift basket, right? :)

What a great idea!

Any advice for other knitters out there?

I love Ravelry! I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s great to search for new patterns, or to scan for other knitters’ advice on a pattern I’m using, or to search for yarn information. My favorite yarn shop is Knitpicks.com, where I buy my knitting needles (they’re very reasonably priced) as well as really great yarn at good prices.

Tell us about your newest release.

This month, the second Inspy Kisses collection, Sealed with a Kiss, releases on ebook! It’s priced at 99 cents for a limited time, and you can find the buy links here: http://camytang.com/books/inspy_kisses/2_sealed_with_a_kiss

My contribution to Seswak_webaled with a Kiss is my short romantic suspense novel, Unshakeable Pursuit.

A mysterious young woman warns Dr. Geoffrey Whelan and nurse Maylin Kinley that they are in mortal danger, and then two Asian hit men attack them at the children’s clinic where they work. Geoffrey and Maylin run for their lives, determined to figure out who is after them and why. When they discover the threat is connected to a young teenager whose life they saved, they must race to stop the person who wants them dead—before everyone they care about are caught in the crossfire.

Oooooo!

** In Unshakeable Pursuit, those of you who have read Stalker in the Shadows will find out what happened to Monica and her Free Children’s Clinic, and Liam, whom readers met in Narrow Escape, also makes an appearance. Look for Liam’s story in Treacherous Intent, coming in December!

I’ll be there.

What are you working on now?

I have another Love Inspired Suspense releasing next year, and I’m working on that. The working title is Fighting Chance, and while I don’t have a back cover blurb yet, here’s the two-sentence blurb:

When skip-tracer Joslyn and ex-mob strong-arm Clay both receive vague pleas for help from Clay’s sister and Joslyn’s old schoolmate, Fiona, they determine to find her and help her, only to discover that a family enemy is after Fiona for information about illegal money laundering. But can they save Fiona when a second mysterious enemy is willing to kill them in order to stop them?

Wow! It’s so exciting to see so many great stories coming down the pike. Thank you so much for stopping by today, Camy.

Thanks for the interview, Connie!

*********

Camy writes Christian romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance under her pen name, Camille Elliot. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she’s writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she’s a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church’s Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.

Other posts you might like:

Camy Tang on the IC Hotseat

Camy Tang’s “A Dangersous Stage” and Why Great Characters are a Must—A Sort-of Review

My Prayer Shawl Ministry

Categories: Author Interviews, Book Launch, Contemporary, Current Books, Fiction, General Writing Tips, Guest Author, Guest Blogs, Historical, Independent Publishing, Regency, Romance, Suspense, Writing Tips, Writing Tips | 2 Comments

Vanessa’s Character Picks July 17, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks July 15, 2014

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