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Friday, June 29, 2012

Sound Off: Will Social Networking Usher in the Demise of Good Writing?

With so much pressure on writers to promote themselves on FaceBook, Twitter, blogs and other social media and with so many technological distractions lobbying for our attention, frankly, I don't see how writers are able to do what they love most--write. Don't get me wrong, I think social media is very valuable, but it can also be very addicting and very life sucking. This is what I am experiencing now as I try to promote the books I've published recently while polishing ones in progress. Exactly when, I wonder, am I actually supposed to be able to get back into the enjoyable, creative aspect of writing?

Writer wannabes often idealize the writing life because it looks so glamorous, but I can tell you, that much of it is just plain hard work. If you want to be published these days, just writing a creative story isn't enough. I'd say that 75% of the process now involves marketing. As I am trying to juggle both freelance writing and freelance business (primarily in the handmade art realm), I find it pretty draining. Just how are other authors doing it? Better yet, do they enjoy doing it? I can think of one particularly prolific author who is on FaceBook constantly announcing where she is speaking and what book has come out. After a while it seems as if the announcements fall on deaf ears. With so many people touting their books and talent via social media, is anyone really paying attention in such a social media saturated market?

I invite others to give me their take. How are you feeling about writing these days? If you are published, how are you balancing writing with marketing?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Book Release, Mothers and Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship

Announcing the new release of Teena Stewart's newest book, Mothers and Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship (Beacon Hill). 

Mothers and daughters. In perhaps no other relationship are your hopes so high, and the dysfunction so disappointing. You feel locked into a hurtful relationship that you must deal with, and it’s wearing you down. But Jesus knew we would face brokenness in the world, even in close family relationships, and still He promised the Counselor would come alongside us. 

As a daughter who has struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with her mother, author Teena Stewart will help you name your hurts, face the barriers that stand in the way of a healthy mother daughter relationship and forgive what feels unforgivable. Learn to cultivate a friendship, communicate more effectively, and become a part of the change you want to see. There is hope for restoration and renewal. The book is available at most bookstores including or through

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Author Interview with Patrick E. Craig

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in northern California and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

Patrick has a new book coming out through Harvest House entitled A Quilt for Jenna.  Though the book is not yet released, you can pre-order through Patrick's website. Ordering info is below the interview.

What motivated you to write this book?

I was reading a blog in 2010 by Nick Harrison, Senior Editor at Harvest House about how writers could advance their careers in 2011. At the end he invited readers to submit story ideas.  He mentioned that he liked Amish stories and Quilting Stories.  So I submitted an idea for an Amish Quilting story.  He liked it and asked for some sample chapters.  I was thinking short story at the time.  I sent the sample chapters to Steve Laube, a literary agent that I knew from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference.  He encouraged me to make it into a novel and come up with two follow-up ideas for a series.  I worked on it from April of 2011 until September.  I sent the manuscript to Nick and Steve.  Steve asked if he could represent me in the project.  A few weeks later, Nick submitted it to the editorial committee at Harvest House.  They accepted it and the rest is history.

Tell us a little more about your book.  

Let me give you the blurb I wrote for the back of the book.
Amish + Quilts = readers delight!  And in this first book in Patrick Craig’s Apple Creek Dreams series, readers will follow Jerusha Springer’s journey out of tragic circumstances to a new life of hope.  

Jerusha has spent months making the most beautiful quilt anyone in Apple Creek, Ohio, has ever seen, and she knows it’s going to take first prize at the Quilt Fair in Dalton.  The prize will be her ticket out of the Amish way of life—away from the memories of her dead daughter and her tormented husband.  But on the way to the Fair, she gets caught in the Storm of The Century and Jerusha’s driver crashes their car.  While the driver goes for help, Jerusha is led by someone, or something, to the side of a lost little girl.  By the time the storm clears, Jerusha finds there is a greater prize to be won than money and blue ribbons.
A beautiful story of loss….and redemption.

Q: What do you hope people will learn from this book?
Answer: The two issues Jerusha has to deal with are pride and unbelief.  Her husband, Reuben is a legalist which leads to the death of their daughter.  Both of them have to come to grips with these issues.  I think most of us will find one or more of those issues facing us in our own lives.

Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share for those who are writers or those who wish to write for publication?

I believe in traditional publishing.  Yes, there are some people who have made it by self-publishing.  But the way I see it, if you are a good writer, it won’t matter unless you meet the right people who can help you with your career.  The best place to do that is at writer’s conferences.  My three-book deal was a product of the relationships I built attending Mt. Hermon over a four year period.

What are your hobbies?

My wife and I are real homebodies.  We love to garden, raise chickens and sheep, and spend time with our grandkids.

 What is the exact book title and where can people purchase it?

The book is titled A Quilt For Jenna. It is the first book in my Apple Creek Dreams Series published by Harvest House Publishers.  It will be available in all the usual stores by February, 2013, on on my author’s page or on my website at  You can also check out my Facebook Page or subscribe to my blog, Apple Creek Dreams, which will be on my website at the beginning of July, for more updates. My current blog, Words to Live By, which has some excerpts from the book, is at  You can also go to my Harvest House Author page at  for more updates.

Teena Stewart is an author/artist/ministry leader. Her most recent book is The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father.  For more info on her books and writing visit

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review, The Map Quilt

Lisa Lickel’s The Map Quilt is part of her Buried Treasure series and is the sequel to The Gold Standard. The book is set in Wisconsin farming territory in the vicinity of the small town of Robertsville. A variety of small town locals, friends and family members add color to the storyline, making their appearance along with their rural ways and idiosyncrasies. 

Husband and wife Hart and Judy Wingate are expecting their first child.  Hart is an inventor and is close to launching a new experimental battery which could revolutionize the farming industry. But before this can happen, the barn which serves as his workspace burns and Hart’s rival if found dead in the ruins. Of course, this provides fodder for Judy, who is intrigued by mysteries, to become involved and try to get to the bottom of things. Her husband is determined to protect her and their unborn child and keep them out of danger.

At the center of the story is a vintage map quilt belonging to the Wingates which has been handed down from generation to generation and since their property is rumored to have been a part of the under ground rail road and map quilts are thought to have been one way for those in the underground railroad to communicate and direct operations, the situation is ripe for even more mystery and discoveries. When a guest speaker to Judy’s classroom claims she is the rightful owner of the land on which Hart’s competitor’s headquarters sits and yet another, older body surfaces, the plot is taken to the next level.

Lickel does a superb job building layers of mystery and the history of the underground railroad she incorporates is educational and interesting.  The book is a wholesome and enjoyable. If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll want to be sure and check this one out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review, The Schooling of Claybird Catts

The name alone of this book is enough to make you want to pick up and read it. Claybird Catts is a naive boy with dyslexia who is in special ed classes because of his learning challenges. He lives in the shadow of an older brother and sister and just doesn't seem to fit in. His world is turned upside down when his father dies of cancer. His mother, always an odd one, who sleeps during the day and wanders the grounds at night  has been labeled a vampire, by Claybird's closest friends and classmates. This seems fitting because the affluent family lives in a large, old mansion with a spooky atmosphere.

But when Claybird's long lost and estranged uncle comes home following Claybird's father's death, family secrets come to light. He learns the painful truth which explains some of his mother's bizzare behavior. But there is shame and anger to be dealt with as well.  Claybird must quickly grow up as he comes to grip with what's happened both in the past and the present.

Janis Owens has written an enjoyable coming of age story in southern fiction tradition.This book is the third in a trilogy but I had no idea it was when I read it and frankly, it can stand on its own, unlike most books in a series. I give this 4 and a half stars.