Please Stop Asking Authors THIS Question

I love talking about my books and my writing. And it’s so nice when friends, family, readers, and others ask for details. But there’s one question that comes up over and over that I simply don’t know how to answer. It usually comes up in that quiet time after the flurry of releasing a book is over but before I’m really promoting the next one. The dreaded question is some variation of . . . How are your books doing? Oh wait, I do know how to answer it. I DON’T KNOW. And even when I kind of know, I still don’t know. Here’s the problem. I get statements twice a year. Sure, they list how many books have been sold . . . as of three or four months ago. So I kind of have an idea of how many books moved a while back. Of course, if a new book has released in the meantime, I don’t know much about that one at all. Oh but wait. The statement doesn’t actually list how many books SOLD, it lists how many books have been ordered by bookstores and other vendors. And guess what–they get to return the books they don’t sell. For example: Say a June statement shows that 1,000 copies of a book published in January had been ordered as of February. The December statement may show that 250 of those were returned as of August. Does that mean 750 sold? Maybe. […]

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Advent – Looking Forward to Christmas

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. Which, in my book, means the Christmas season has begun. Advent is traditionally a time of preparation, of looking forward to celebrating the birth of Christ and to his return. Do you remember what it was like to look forward to Christmas when you were a kid? I know I was on pins and needles. I’d mailed off my list to Santa. We’d be baking cookies, singing carols, and decorating the house. There might have been a visit to some obviously lower level Santa at the mall. The anticipation was building and . . . . . . I was EXCITED!! So how do I look forward to Christmas these days? Hmmmm. There are presents to buy, decorations to put up, parties to host or attend, cards to mail, food to prepare, family to wrangle, and expectations to . . . well . . . fail to meet. Oh, and then there’s all the church stuff. Greening the church, our ladies’ Christmas party, a Christmas program, a Christmas Eve service . . . And somewhere in there maybe, just maybe, pausing to remember what’s actually worth looking forward to–what I really should be anticipating. In a word–Jesus. The Christmas season is upon us. We all know how easy it is to be swept up by our to-do lists and to end up just checking off each day until suddenly, Christmas has come and […]

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The Reviews Are Coming In

Well, at least some reviews. And they’re pretty alright. When I write a book, I tend to think it’s really good once I’ve finished the edits and turned it over to the publisher for the last time. Then, about a month before the book releases, I start wondering if it’s actually terrible. Or at least not up to par. I […]

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Is There Sex in Christian Fiction?

Christian fiction sometimes has a reputation for being prudish or stuffy. And I suppose it can be. But it can also be passionate, moving, and yes . . . even sexy. This blog sees occasional spikes in traffic as posts particularly resonate with readers, but most posts fade into anonymity pretty quickly. Except for one. The 2011 post I wrote about sex in Christian fiction STILL gets hits EVERY week. Which leads me to believe folks are interested in the subject. I was inspired to write the original post after reading a scene in Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz. Here it is: “He took his time, his mouth moving along the damp wisps of her hairline to her ear. Breathless, she freed his hair of its leather tie till it spilled like a black waterfall onto the thin fabric of her nightshift. Oh, but she’d forgotten how sweet he could be . . . how unerringly gentle, even gallant. She felt like a bride again and shut her eyes, remembering how he’d held her that very first time, beside all that rushing water. Only now, with time against them, it was sweeter still.” This is a passionate scene between two people who are deeply in love, who long for one another, who are . . . married. And frankly, the fact that they’re married makes this scene even sexier in my opinion. So how do you incorporate romantic sex […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Walnuts

I’m not really a fan of walnuts and that makes me a little bit sad since they’re such a prolific food source in Appalachia. This year’s crop is, ahem–nuts–which might be a sign of a hard winter ahead. We can hardly walk around the driveway for rolling on walnuts. I remember being in the Strawberry Festival parade one year, riding on a float dressed in “pioneer” clothing with my parents. To keep us busy and to look vaguely authentic we had a stump, a hammer, and lots of walnuts. Apparently I liked them better back then. If you have a walnut tree and are wondering how to make use of all those free nuts, here’s what you do: Put on stout gloves and old clothes. Gather fallen nuts and process them somewhere you don’t mind getting dirty. To remove the green husk, roll them under your foot (or car tire) and peel the husk away. If the husk has turned black, you can still remove it and eat the nut, but it won’t taste quite as good. Dispose of the husks in a spot where you aren’t trying to grow anything. They contain a compound called juglone that inhibits growth. Rinse the nuts several times to remove any last bits of hull. Lay out or hang (in a mesh bag) the cleaned nuts to dry. The longer they dry, the more the nutmeat will pull away from the shell and […]

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When You Need a Hero

One of the great pleasures of writing books is inventing heroes. Instead of swooning over other writer’s leading men, I get to build my own. The hero of The Sound of Rain releasing in just over a month, is Judd Markley. I was thinking the other day about just how much I like Judd. I might even go so far as to say he’s my favorite. Which led me down the rabbit trail of pondering which of my heroes I would actually want to fall in love with. I realized, it wouldn’t be Judd. Here’s my hero lineup to this point–which one would you choose? Which one do you think I would? Robert Thornton – Appalachian Serenade – Robert is a more mature store owner who is clever about most things, but not very smooth when it comes to the ladies. He’s a bear of a man with dark hair. Casewell Phillips – Miracle in a Dry Season – Tall, redheaded with a beard in the beginning of the story (he shaves it midway). Casewell is a bit self-righteous, but once he decides to woo a woman, he comes at it with a definite plan of action. He’s a woodworker by trade. Henry Phillips – Until the Harvest. Oh Henry. He looks like a young Gregory Peck–a bit gangly but with promise. Initially he’s too wrapped up in his own problems to be any good to a woman, but he […]

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