Wednesday, November 14, 2012

5 things I'm learning about my own writing quirks...

5-Chapter plotting really helps me keep the story moving. As much as I love the idea of being an organic writer...I know where my weaknesses are and keeping the middle moving works best if I have it plotted out.

4-Sometimes voice comes easily and other times it doesn't. When it comes, be thankful...when it doesn't, I'm learning that I just need to keep writing. I can always go back and fix voice issues...but if I sit on it and expect to fix it right then, it just holds me up too much.

3-Talking (and more talking, restating, & repeating) out loud about the current book I'm writing really helps me work out the kinks. I'm fortunate to have a husband and mom who both enjoy brainstorming...and they are both really good at it! This is sometimes the only way I can work out a plot issue.

2-I need to have realistic expectations. I tend to put way too much pressure on myself and then feel completely let down when I don't meet up with them. A goal to challenge me works...but it needs to be realistic.

1-The only way I can finish a book is by writing a 80,000 to 90,000 words of writing. This may require a certain amount of crying, rolling my eyes (at myself), a fair amount of deleting, and a really sore hind-end. That's actually happening right now...I need to get a new office chair.

Exciting News: For those of you who don't know yet...I will be writing a 3 book Amish series set in World War 2 for Howard Books (imprint of Simon & Schuster). I am beyond thrilled and so very thankful to my agent Natasha Kern. I feel especially blessed by God for this opportunity. This is really a dream come true. I cannot wait to be able to share more details with all of you lovely readers.


Your turn: I'm learning about my writing quirks...what are you learning about yourself? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

5 great memories from 2012...

So, today I wanted to highlight 5 great memories from this year. This isn't in any real order nor is it the only 5 great things that happened this year... ;-)

5-For the majority of The Major's deployment we got to live with my parents. It was a fantastic way to make a difficult 6 months a great time to reconnect with family and my hometown. I loved having my 2 sweet girls get to be around their grandparents for so long and watch their relationships just bloom!

Here are my 2 little firecrackers and my
parents. We so enjoyed all the time.
Going to church with them was
an extra treat.
4-While staying with my parents I was able to celebrate my mom's birthday with her. This is so rare because we live so far away. This year my dad, siblings, & I decided to have her Amish dress remade. How cool is that! Her original dress was destroyed over 20 years ago (it's a long story) and she has been so sad ever since. This was a priceless moment!

She was so surprised and was amazed with how close the
likeness was.
3-On a warm day in June my daughter pointed to the sky when she saw this cloud passing by. This is not a game of "what does that cloud look like" but really...this cloud IS A HEART! I was so reminded on that day of how much God loves me and how even His world boasts of his love and majesty. I love these moments with children...such teachable times in showing how God is with us...

Over the mountains and the seas,
Your river runs with love for me.
2-I LOVED doing this photo shoot for my Love. While The Major was deployed I was writing a WW2 novel and I was all about the 40s. The girls and I did this shoot at a local train station inspired by WW2 home comings. How I longed for the homecoming at this point...but we were still over 2 months away from it. He loved the photos and I am amazed at how authentic my photographer made them appear. My oldest thought this was so much youngest...well, she hated it...

Dreaming of seeing my guy.
1-What an amazing moment...reuniting with my Love!!!! And watching our girls reunite with him was breathtaking. I can't imagine being away from them for so long and my heart breaks for The Major in how much he missed...but God has been so faithful. We 4 are sooooo very thankful to be together!

There have been so many wonderful memories this year...these are just a few... oldest has learned to read! And in a few short months is reading at an unbelievable pace for just learning and for just being 5. She just amazes me every day. youngest is just so funny. She really keeps me on my toes...she has gotten white out all over her mouth, gotten stuck in a doll stroller, learned to somersault on her own, can climb ANYTHING, and against my efforts had a mouth full of molding clay. Sigh...this was all before she turned 2...I think I have more gray hair. husband ran another 1/2 marathon and got 1st place in his age group! He got 100 on his PT test and today is having his picture taken an article written about it. Love him!

...after finishing a novel this year I was offered to sign with literary agent Natasha Kern. The answer was a resounding YES! I cannot tell you how amazed I am with her expertise! I feel overwhelmed and so thankful.

WHAT A YEAR!!! There are so many of those sweet, cute memories that happen daily that I don't have pictures of but are hidden so dearly in my heart. I'm so thankful for the life God has given to me.


YOUR TURN: Tell me what have been some of your memories from 2012. I'd love to hear!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Christian E-book Promotion!!!

ALRIGHTY, I interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you...

YAY!!! This is a husband & wife team that you need to know about! If you're an ebook reader, like me, this stuff is GREAT to know!

Welcome, Jim & Karen Baney! I am brand new to this site myself, so can you first just tell us what Christian eBooks is all about?

Jim:  Christian eBooks is a website that is for fans of Christian fiction and nonfiction.  It is a safe place to browse and learn more about great Christian eBooks without worrying about coming across any racy or explicit content.

Wow, that's great for the Christian Fiction/Nonfiction market! It really would make it easier not to have to browse through the genres you're just not interested in and go right where you want to go. Why did you start Christian eBooks

Karen:  I’ve been an avid reader of Christian fiction since I was a young girl. But, over the past few years as I started publishing books, I noticed that it was getting harder and harder to browse for Christian eBooks online without coming across some pretty embarrassing and racy covers. I just wanted to find a good clean Christian romance book and find new authors. In August, Jim joined the ranks of the unemployed, so I asked him what he thought about helping me launch a site for Christian readers. It took some convincing, but he finally agreed to do it.

Jim:  Hey! It didn’t really take much convincing. I like the idea of being self-employed.

I love a husband/wife team! I think it's fantastic that you can work together. My husband and I would love to work together on something we both are passionate about someday. So, on your Vision and Mission page on the website you mention edgy Christian fiction. Can you tell us more about this? 

Karen:  Sure. Over the past few years or even a decade, the Christian fiction market is changing. Authors are writing more true-to-life characters that get thrown into some pretty tough circumstances, such as rape, abuse, abandonment, etc. In fact, some of my novels fall into that category. Anyway, there is a bit of a divide in readership. Some readers don’t like the trend, while others prefer it. We wanted to mention that we accept those types of books on our site so readers are not surprised if they come across something like that.

So, your site includes Christian nonfiction too? Tell me about that.

Jim: Yes. We include a variety of nonfiction genres, too. Bible studies, devotionals, self-help, Christian living and much more. We really want the site to be a place where readers can find any type of Christian eBooks.

Who runs the site, I mean really how do you divide what really needs to be done?

[Karen glances at Jim and giggles.]

Jim: We joke around. I’m the chief operations officer and Karen is the CEO. She has the vision and then I do all the hard work to make it happen.

Karen: [elbows Jim] I do some of the hard work, like marketing and writing content.

Jim: Okay, okay. I’ll give you that.

It sounds like you 2 really compliment each other. Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

Karen: Yes. We have a feature on our website under the “For Readers” menu called “Reader’s Choice”. This is where readers can fill out a form telling us about great Christian eBooks that they’ve read. Each week, we will select one submission to appear on our website.  Then, once a month we will randomly choose a winner from all of the submissions (even if they don’t get featured). The winner receives a $25 gift card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Readers can submit as many eBooks as they want.

Wow, that sounds great!  So, where can we find you online?

Jim: Visit You can also follow us on Twitter (@cebtoday), Facebook, or Google+. Check our site daily for our list of free fiction and free nonfiction ebooks.

Karen: Remember to sign up for our newsletter too. Just click on the envelope icon in the upper right corner of our site. Each week we email readers a summary of our key weekly features including: guest blog posts, great reads, author of the week, and the reader’s choice selection for the week.
Thank you so much for hosting us!

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, October 22, 2012

5 Things I Wanted to be When I Grew Up...

I have a 5 year old and she is always talking about what she's going to be when she grows up. Often times she settles on just being like me...a mama. But she's gone through in her short 5 years wanting to be a vet, a scientist, a writer, a librarian, a horse trainer and several others.

It has made me remember what I used to want to be when I was a kid...besides being a wife and mom, here are the top 5 things that I remember always saying I would be when I grow up...

5. An Olympic gymnast. I really wanted to be Mary Lou Retton!
4. An Archeologist. Who doesn't love dusting off a lot of old, dead stuff? ;-) And, hey, I love vintage jewelry and furniture...that's my version of archeology!
3. A Teacher. Outside of Homeschooling, I could not see this now.
2. An Undercover cop. Johnny Dep is to blame for that when 21 Jumpstreet was famous! haha
1. A writer. I wrote my first "full-length" novel titled Randi's Will at 12 and I was smitten with it all. I'd written a lot small stories and poems also.

I guess 1 out of 5 isn't bad.

Your Turn: When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up? How did it work out? I'd love to hear your story!


Monday, October 15, 2012

5 Things I love about having a Critique Group

In my previous location I had this phenomenal critique group. I'm talking...amazing! It is such a big step to start sharing your work with other writers and I learned so's a few reason why I love Critique Groups!

5. Critical reading skills. You truly learn how to be a critical reader...which will only be helpful if you want a career in writing.

4. Accountability. You have a team of writers around you who are ready to keep you accountable for writing consistently. Even if you don't have a deadline you want to still be able to contribute to the group and show that you're learning from the great critiques.

3. Camaraderie. There are few things in the writing world that are more important than having other writing friends. They "get" you and understand the pain and elation of writing. And...that you hear voices in your head.

2. Variety. You learn to read out of your genre and stretch your reading skills to pick up on another writer's nuances. As a writer who mostly enjoys historicals...I was able to critique contemporaries, thrillers, and children's books. I enjoyed all of them in different ways.

1. Courage. It does take courage to step out and show someone your work...especially when you have the utmost respect for those in the group. You don't want to disappoint. And, truthfully, you want to be accepted as a writer and not a poser. For years I thought I was just a poser because I writing was hard work for me. Then I met a whole room full of hard working writers...each with their own struggle. I realized I wasn't alone.

I am so thankful for the few years I had a local writing group. I cannot explain how much I learned about writing during those 2 1/2 years.

Your turn: Are you a writer? Do you participate in a critique group? What are things you have learned? Not a writers? What group do you enjoy participating that is iron sharpening iron? Please share your stories!


Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Audio Books that I LOVE!

I am ALL ABOUT the audio book! I used to be able to read as many books as I wanted but now as a busy wife, homeschooler, and writer...boy, that made me tired just typing books are just the way to go.

I am a faithful subscriber to AUDIBLE. It's affordable and worth it!

I listened to a lot of audio books while my hubby was deployed since my reading time was even more limited. They were like friends who would tag along with me on a trip or while I washed dishes. I'm so thankful for the technology of audio books...and iPhones!

Here's a list of 5 books (in no particular order) I've recently listened to that I LOVE. Not all of these are from

5. Saturdays with Stella by Allison Pittman. It is also read by the author...which is really fun! So, I loved this book. It's nonfiction and filled with sweet nuggets of knowledge that the author learned from her puppy. I have to admit...Allison is one of my best friends...a writing mentor to me for several years...I highly recommend this book.

4. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I've listened to this several times in the past few years because the message is so very powerful. It is difficult to hear because of the terror that she went through in a Nazi labor camp...but the faithfulness she found in the Lord and her message to the masses...outstanding. I cannot recommend this book more.

3. Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery. One of my favorite classical writers. I have read tons by LM Montgomery and this is one of my favorites. It translates so well to audio. I laughed. I cried...then cried a little more. This one particularly I listened to for free on Librivox. All the readers are volunteers. I especially loved the reader of this book. Oh, and...THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT. ;-) Check it out.

2.  Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner. This was a fantastic story. It goes between a contemporary setting and storyline and a historical one. I just love when an author can do this effectively. I could not put this book the headphones off. ;-) It happens to be one of my favorite historical eras of all time...since I'm obsessed with all things Henry VIII listening to a story that surrounds the era just after his death is fascinating to me.

1. A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell. This is a wonderful story by an author that I just admire so much. Her writing is impeccable and her story lines are less traditional or expected. Three women, three pasts to overcome and three futures in jeopardy. Early American setting and a beautiful read. Highly recommended.

These are just 5 of the wonderful books out there on audio just waiting for you to listen to. Right now I'm listening to The Kitchen House. Not only am I enamored with the rawness and realness of this book but the narration is very good. There are 2 women narrating and I couldn't have "casted" their voices better.

You're turn: Do you listen to books? If so, what would you recommend? If you don't...are you intrigued? 


Monday, October 1, 2012

5 things...about Homeschooling that I Learned in Public School

I was a public school kid...but now I'm a Homeschooling Mom! Quite honestly, it wasn't until my first daughter was born that I even considered that we might homeschool. It just wasn't something I really had thought of much, even though my husband was homeschooled.

While we feel that God has called us to Homeschool it is not because I think that Public School is all-bad! Here are 5 things from my own public school experience that I'm implementing (or planning to) in our homeschool system...

My K5 Girlie
5-We say the Pledge of Allegiance before each school day. I don't really know if the average public school does this nowadays...but we always did and I want my daughters to be patriotic and loyal to America.

4-We have a break time, similar to recess. I try to give a 10-15 break after our reading lesson where my daughter can run around, get a snack, and use the bathroom. Breaks and activity are so important to the brain!

3-I strive to keep the school part of our day well-structured. Homeschool does provide some amazing flexibility when doc appointments, etc. But, generally speaking, we start at the same time every day with a church bell chime on my iPhone. We are dressed for the day and pencils are sharpened. We start with the Pledge, a Bible lesson, and prayer before moving into school lessons. There are days it doesn't happen like that...but as a standard, we try to keep to this schedule. My kindergartner thrives in this environment. I work the rest of my day around school...instead of fit school into the cracks of the day. This is just what works for me...but in no way is how I feel EVERYONE should do it.

Keeping my 2 y/o busy
2-Field Trips and Field Day. This is our first "real" year of homeschooling so we are working on these things. I have a great group of HS moms with young kids that I've just met here locally and I am so excited to have our kids enjoy this part of school together. I LOVED Field Day & Field Trips when I was in my little public school and hope my daughters will enjoy them just as well.

1-Sick Days! Homeschoolers get sick occasionally just like any other kid. So, if she were going to public school I would keep her home if she was sick...the same benefit applies to homeschooling...except I don't have to get a doc's note for the teacher. {grin}

Again, this is just what works for us. My personality leans toward the more structured and predictable schedule so this works for OUR household. the girls get older I know I'll implement even more things I learned in public school in our homeschool life.

I'm no expert...and I am just 1 mom...but this is just a little glimpse into my thoughts on homeschooling.

Your turn...what are some things about your childhood schooling experiences that you try to implement with your children? 


Monday, September 24, 2012

5 things...I love about my Amish heritage

Many of you know that I was born into an Amish family. My maiden name is Byler which is a popular Amish last name. If you've seen the last name "Beiler" it is pronounced the same name but just slightly different spelling. Like "Tyler" with a "B."

Here are a few reasons I love my Amish heritage in no particular order:

5-THE FOOD! Yes, it's true. The food is awesome. I wish I knew how to bake and cook more of it!

4-Simplicity. There is something so simple when I visit my Amish family that is hard to explain. No dings and bings or googling even. The tick-tock of the clock is heard in the comfortable silence of a room or the sounds of the farm animals from the barn. I love how beautiful their gardens are and how hard they work for that beauty!

3-Furniture. The furniture is so sturdy and well-crafted...they will last for generations! I LOVE my hickory rocker!

2-Language. I love that the Amish have a completely different language! Pennsylvania Dutch is a dialect of German. It is my first language and I speak it daily with my children...even though they feel more comfortable speaking English back. I speak it with my parents, siblings, and extended family. It is in my blood and I hope never to forget this wonderful language!

1-Focus on Family. I love that the Amish have such a strong focus on the family. This is a God-given focus that I believe is lacking in so many typical American families. They are not "nuclear" families. They support and help each other in every way imaginable...and not just family...but their treat their entire community like family! I just love this and strive to provide the same hospitality to those people God has put in my path.

Your turn: What do you love about your heritage? I'd love to hear from you!


Monday, September 17, 2012

5 things...about ACFW writing conference

Allison, myself, & Raquel...amazing writing pals!
ACFW Conf 2011 Roomies! 
I'm headed to the ACFW writing conference this week! Here are 5 things that I'm really looking forward to.

5-It's in Dallas! That means it shouldn't be very cold yet. I'm a northern girl in my heart but I've been living in warm climates for a long time...I just hope the AC ain't cranked up too high in the conference rooms!

4-Meeting authors I read! It's so fun to meet other writers in general...but especially when you've read their books and they are your FB friends...which practically makes you blood relations.

3-Having the opportunity to pitch your work! Wow. This is a huge opportunity...though it can be daunting and even scary. I pray that I represent my writing and new book for what it is. I know that God provides divine appointments that are invaluable. I want to rest in His plan no matter what.

2-Classes, lectures, and workshops. I am just a geek. I love to learn. I love to get my brain dirty with something new that I can't figure out right away and have to discuss and re-discuss it. I can't wait for my mind to just sponge in everything I need and hopefully incorporate it in my writing going forward.

1-MY WRITING PALS!!!! The best thing about conference in my heart of hearts is getting to see some of my dearest friends! Because I'm a military wife I move around a lot and there are several writers who have been with me for several years of my more serious writing journey that I get to see at this conference. I haven't seen them for a whole year and my heart is ready to be in their presence and just enjoy them!

If you're a writer, are you heading to the ACFW conference? What are you looking forward to? If you're not a writer, do you have an event that you save your pennies for annually? Tell me all about it! I'd love to learn more about YOU!


Monday, September 10, 2012

5 things...I will blog about...

So, I'm a list-maker. I don't know why but while The Major was deployed I didn't write 1 measly list...except for a grocery list. I have no idea what came over me but I didn't have a to-do list anything like I usually do.

I have been so list-deprived that I am just in the mood to write lists about everything! So, with that, I am starting a series of lists for my blog. I will probably only be blogging every Monday. I know, I should do it more than that, but I am going to do what I can.

Here are the 5 things I will probably blog about...

Here's one of my little DIY projects.
Crayola Air Dry clay of my sweet, little family.
5-Random things I am learning about whatever. Okay, don't laugh. What might some of these topics be? Health. DIYing. Baking. Cooking. Mothering. Marriage. Military life. Goal setting. Random tips!

4-Homeschooling! Yes, I am a homeschooler. I love it and I'll post occasionally about it, I'm sure. My oldest is doing K5 right now and I'm excited to say her reading skills improve daily! I am amazed! I love watching her learn.

3-Books and Authors I love! To include, but not limited to: Allison Pittman, Lynn Austin, Nicholas Sparks, Tricia Goyer, Siri Mitchell, Susan Meissner, Ted Dekker...etc. There are many more!

2-My writing career and the direction I am include my spiritual journey as well! I finished a book these past few months and I'm very excited about it! I hope to share more with you soon.

1-Writing and publishing in general. The world of writing is constantly evolving. From ebooks to publishing houses shifting and merging. I am pretty new to this world but I hope to take you along for the ride!

I really don't know if these are in order of importance or frequency of what I'll post about...but listing them backwards gives so much more suspense and mystery...I am such a mystery, aren't I! Ha!

Do you have a blog? If so, tell me about it in the comments and what you like to blog about!