What Does Easter Mean to You?

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I originally posted this to the WordServe Water Cooler which is my agency’s multi-author blog. If you haven’t checked it out I hope you’ll hop on over there. Several great authors blog about writing from craft, to marketing, to publishing.

This is one of my all time favorite posts I have ever written. So– in remembering what Christ has done for us– I post it here for you today.

Happy Easter!

CrossHere it is– midnight MST. I’ve survived twelve+ hours in the ER on a Friday night, full moon (it must be!), holiday weekend. For those of you familiar with emergency departments you know I listed those out because it meant we got our tushes kicked a little bit. Not enough staff. Too many sick kids.

I am tired. I get home…

And. There. Is. No. Post.

Which means there is no happy new post for you… our trusted friends, our fabulous readers. I’m thinking– no one is going to notice. It’s Easter! This will be unedited and full of typos (can I wake Sarah up to have her proofread?)

But then, something stops me from shirking my responsibility. I start thinking I really should step in and write something– substitute for the person who was supposed to post. And I really don’t want to right at this moment in time. My warm bed is sweetly calling my name.

However, the thought of substitution comes to the forefront. Now, I’m not one to clearly hear God’s calling. I would possibly dare say I’m tone-deaf. I’ve prayed for God’s Will to be left as a gold note card on my pillow for me in the morning. For me, God’s voice is more like a subtle whisper in a hurricane that I have a hard time tuning in. What I have learned though is sometimes these instances (like no blog post) are orchestrated by God to create opportunities for other things, and I’m wondering if this forgotten post was left open for me to write to bring the thought of subbing for someone else to mind.

This is what Easter means to me. Christ as substitution. His death as a covering for my sin so that if I believe in what He did as He hung on a cross, nails through his hands and feet, a crown of thorns on his head– one of the most painful deaths a human can suffer– I can have the glory of heaven.

Grace. Mercy. Innocence hung for me…

So, maybe my foray into writing my novel, which led me to an appointment with Greg Johnson, which led him to take me on as a client, which (for some strange reason!) led him to ask me to help run this blog was meant to culminate in this one moment in time where the Easter weekend post was empty (like the tomb was in a few short days) so I could write about the thought of substitution and what it meant for me…

And what it means for you…

May you have a blessed Easter.


Fear: The Dream Slayer


Today is happy release day for my latest novel, Poison. Honestly, it is a dream come true.

Poison1I remember getting the call from my superstar agent Greg Johnson after my original one book contract turned into a trilogy. That was a God thing for sure.

Literally, panic set in. Oh. My. Word. He expects me to be able to do this again! To write another book. Can I write another book? I mean, this one took me years and now I’ll have to do it in about nine months. People are depending on me to finish these words.

Then fear– do I JUST have one book in me? And then nightmares of having the dreaded “sophomore slump”.

I think it’s easy to let fear run our days. I am a professed worrier. I envy my husband’s ability to live a worry free life and wonder how he possibly does it.

The truth is– we never really know how our work will be received until we put it out there. Writers are a sensitive lot and you’re going to get bad feedback. I was blessed to get a one-star review on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas to me!

But, just the other day I got a letter from a reader that brought me to tears. Her son is in the middle of waiting for a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the young age of 24. In Proof, Kadin tries to talk with Lilly about his belief in God and he brings up the story of Lazarus.

The Lazarus account in the Bible is interesting. A good friend of Jesus’s was seriously ill and friends had begged Jesus to come and heal him. Jesus didn’t come. The man died.

Now why would Jesus let that happen to good friends?

When Jesus did arrive, Lazarus had been in the grave three days.

And then Jesus raised him from the dead.

Thinking back to how that passage ended up in Proof brings chills to me. It was in a bible study and the teacher said– this was the first miracle where Jesus raised someone from the dead. The reason he waited was to show them something he had never done before.

Something that he was going to do again– for all of them.

And I knew it had to be in a book. Why does Jesus wait when we are in so much pain here on earth? Sometimes, we don’t know the reason but we do know He is always with us.

And that’s the passage this woman clung to. Not a bible passage but a passage in a fiction book.

Now, I’m not trying to exalt myself in any way.

What I want everyone reading this to hear– whether you are a writer soon to be author, an author who is fearing whether or not the next book will be a success, or someone else fearing pursuit of their dream is this…

You never know how God will use your labor for fruit in another person’s life. None of my books may be bestsellers but God used a story he planted in my heart to minister to a woman many miles away as she worried and prayed over her son.

And I’m not the only person with stories like this.

So please, pursue your dream– do it with everything in you because God has a plan for you and he needs you to touch the lives of others.


It’s A Christmas Parade! | WordServe Water Cooler

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Today, I’m part of a Christmas Blog Parade where many authors have blogged on their writer’s Christmas Wish List. What would be on your list? I’d have a Castle like poker game where I invited all the authors I’d like to thank.

Hope you’ll take time to check out all the blogs. There are tons of prizes to try and win!

. . . As our treat to our wonderful WaterCooler Readers, we thought we’d do another blog parade. Each of our authors below is blogging about their Writer’s Wish List. Hmm . . . I know I’m intrigued to see what’s on these lists. Funny? Quirky? Serious?

I don’t know . . . you’ll have to click on the links to find out!

It’s A Christmas Parade! | WordServe Water Cooler.

Beginning Steps….


I get asked a lot– how did you do it? How did you cross that bridge from simply dabbling in your writing to actually becoming published?

Today, I’d thought I’d give some thoughts on some of those important beginning steps that I took and maybe you should take if you are serious about pursuing publication.

1. Finished my novel! This might seem like the easiest steps but first steps are always the hardest. It’s like an infant when they first start walking and they have that cute orangutan type maneuvering. Arms high in the air. Their little booty shaking as their knees high march– just like in marching band. The first words to paper for a writer can be awkward. Just like walking takes lots of practice– so does authoring a full-length novel. Many people can write a few great first chapters but can they finish a 60,000-100,000 word (depending on the genre) novel? This is ultimately what an agent or publisher wants to know. They likely won’t take you on until they know you can cross that finish line.

2. Attended a large writer’s conference. I do recommend writers conferences for a number of reason. For networking. For finding fellow friends to share this journey with. After all, no one will understand why you seek the perfect poison to kill of a character then a fellow suspense novelist. Honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t seen a police presence at writers conferences for all the talk of murder and mayhem that goes on– albeit from an unsuspecting, not-part-of-the-conference guest! More importantly, as part of your conference registration, you get an opportunity to meet with agents and editors. Even have a say in which ones (most of the time so register early!) Face to face contact (yes, even for introverts) is important because it puts a personality with the manuscript. Do you and the agent hit it off? Do you have similar goals? Do they like you? Do they LOVE your idea? They should because championing a novel to the finish line takes lots of cheering and faith.

3. Was persistent. Pursuing publication is definitely not for the faint of heart. You WILL be rejected. You WILL get one star reviews. People will take your months-years of hard work and give it a good tongue lashing just because they can. In these dark moments of the writing life you’ll need to have it in you to push yourself over these obstacles. To understand. To have it in you. Why it is you’re putting yourself through all the torture? Is it to see the moments of brilliance? When your own words make you cry? When a reader writes you to say just how much your story touched them and changed their perspective? Is it for the starred review from a well-respected publication?

These were some of my first steps toward becoming an agented and published author. How about you? What steps are you taking?

Book Launch Party!

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June 30th was a fantastic day! That’s when I held my book launch.

Pre-Party Preparation

You may ask– what exactly is the purpose of a book launch party?

For me, it was a celebration of my writing path and I don’t know that I can sum it up appropriately here. Part of it, for me, was wanting to say thanks to many people who supported me on my book publishing journey. Also, just to have a good time, meet people and sell some books.

My agent: Greg Johnson

I held the event at Solid Grounds Coffee House in Centennial, CO. This was not close to where I live but it had a nice open area with lots of seating so people could sit comfortably and visit if I was busy signing books (which I was thank heavens!)

As a thank you, I did have a dessert bar with a fruit and vegetable tray as well. Visitors got raffle tickets for signing my guest book and bringing/buying books. I decided it would be fun to give away books that I love by my favorite authors.

My two trusty helpers.


If you’re an author reading this for insight into a book launch party– I did have my books available for purchase. I did clear this through the coffee-house prior to the event. My trusty husband was my sales officer (with the help of my soon-to-be-10y/o who helped pass out the raffle tickets.)

We did have the square device which is good for those wanting to pay by credit card but the other neat thing about the Square is that you can also send people receipts if they pay with cash or check as well. Of course, my accountant husband liked the record keeping.

Overall, it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing all the people who stopped by. My two high school best friends’ mothers stopped by repping their daughters who live far away. Also, writing friends I’ve been on this journey traveling with. Old friends from the area who we hadn’t seen in a few years and lots of family.

So– absolutely– celebrate your new arrival by hosting a book launch party. It is definitely worth it.

Have you held a book launch party? What did you do or not do?

Who is My Reader?


Yes!! Release day is finally here. It’s such a dream come true. There have been lots of thoughts running through my mind.

Where is that limo waiting to take me wherever I want to go?

I still have to do laundry?

It’s still hard for me to believe because I have yet to hold a physical copy of my baby in my hands. Hopefully, that is a short few days away.

But, what has consumed my thoughts most today is those readers– those I haven’t ever met. That aren’t my family, influencers, endorsers– just the quiet man or woman who is perusing the bookstore shelves somewhere in the USA.

And their fingers skim over the cool binding of my novel. Do they like the cover? Is it enough for them to read the back cover copy? Are my endorsements compelling enough to get them to pull it close and read that first line.

“The cemetery was closing in ten minutes, and Lilly Reeves was going to be late.”

Does that first line hook them enough to read a few more paragraphs?

Was all of it enough to get them to spend money on my book?

I want to know who that reader is. If it’s you– e-mail me. Let me know what you thought.

But, more importantly, know– that I am forever grateful to you for taking a risk on me and I hope it was worth it.

This is my prayer today…

Anxious Anticipation

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I love seeing Facebook photos of when authors receive their “baby” in the mail. The cardboard flaps opened to book upon book of the fruits of their labor materialized.

Today, my publisher played a little trick on me.

I got one of those boxes. Even had a picture of my novel on the outside. I called my husband up from the basement to share in the joy.

And they were postcards!

Now, I’m very thankful for these postcards. They are going to help get the word out about my novel– but it’s a little like a sonogram picture– you’d rather hold the real thing.

So, I am still anxiously anticipating the arrival of my actual book.

How about you– what things on the writing/reading path do you anxiously anticipate?

What Movies are you Watching?

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Recently, a good friend of mine (shout out to Jen M.!) and I were out celebrating a big birthday– we’ll just say somewhere between 29 and 41. It was my turn to treat her so it was her movie pick. We went and saw Hunger Games.


I’m a movie fan, though maybe not the normal chick flick type female you might expect me to be. After all, I am a suspense author so I do enjoy getting the pants scared off me from time to time. When I was in high school, my bedroom was in the basement, one of two finished rooms in a mostly cement space. I’d seen Nightmare on Elm Street and let’s say I was having difficulty sleeping after that.

I think my mother may have slipped some whiskey into my tea after several nights of insomnia imagining Freddy Kruger’s blades sharpening on the pipes in our basement. If anyone wonders about the scene in Proof with Nathan, Brett and the old lady with the tea– that gives you a hint of its origin, minus the underwear issue.

Needless to say, watching movies is different now that I’ve been studying the craft of writing for a number of years. Upon leaving the movie, I asked my friend how she liked it. First confession, neither one of us had read the novel, so this comes from just seeing the movie.

She said, “I really liked it– makes me want to read the books more.” I agreed, but I said, “From a writer’s standpoint, it had some really good teaching points.”

Literally, she rolled her eyes at me (no liquor on board yet) and says, “You are such an author!”

I took that as a great compliment.

But, since I’m an author, what I identified most with was the female protagonist, Katniss. I think this recent post by Mega author Dan Walsh over at Novel Rocket speaks to this.

People remember characters.

I recently judged a contest in which the first few pages included a male and female nurse doing demeaning things to a patient. Really, horrible things. Things even bad nurses I’ve known in my life would never do. In fact, when my first novel was going through some freelance edits, the editor I was working with said, “I need to sympathize with Lilly more.”

That’s what Hunger Games did a fantastic job of. Creating a sympathetic heroine. In Katniss’s choice to offer herself up as a replacement for her sister, she automatically gains the sympathy of the audience. Her sacrificial act immediately bonds us to her.

Hmm– reminds me of someone else.

So, authors, are you bonding your readers by creating a flawed, sympathetic hero? And readers, what are some of the more memorable characters you’ve read lately and why do you remember them?

What Does An Author Read?


Welcome to Redwood’s Ramblings. This blog will be much different than Redwood’s Medical Edge. RME is devoted to helping contemporary and historical novelists write medically accurate fiction. I post there Mon, Wed, Fri and Saturdays.

Ramblings will be the jottings of an avid reader turned author. I’ll post here on Tuesdays. This will be the place to celebrate the craft of writing, the love of books, and everything in between. I want to know about you and your love of writing, reading (have I said I love books!), and novels of all types.

Please, I love comments. Blogging is no fun without a little interaction. Introduce yourself!

I was actually surprised by a recent discussion at a marketing loop for authors where several writers lamented that they were running into people who thought they could write a book but weren’t avid readers.

Personally, I akin this to a pastry chef swearing off chocolate. How can that be possible?

My love of reading was the genesis of my love of writing. I wanted to write stories like the authors I fell in love with. Having complete control over a story world was an excellent choice for an organized, stable personality (okay, slightly manic OCD type) like myself.

What authors do you love?

In my youth, I remember the first book I absolutely could not put down was V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic series. I am probably dating myself here but does anyone else remember these books? Is that author still alive? Who is actively looking up the publishing date to see if they can find out how old I am?

First, shame on my mother for buying me those books at my age. Really! I remember sitting in our living room devouring that novel saying, “I feel like I’m pigging out on this book!”

Since then, my tastes have changed, though I still am an avid reader. I want to know, who are some of your favorite authors and why? I’ll name a few here.

Dean Koontz: If anyone ever says I write like Dean Koontz, I will drop tackle them and smother them with kisses (so hopefully this won’t be someone who will be offended by my exuberance.) Dean has been a long time favorite. I love his use of prose and I dream of having his descriptive authority. If you haven’t read Sir Koontz try Intensity and Life Expectancy. Two of my absolute favs.

Harlan Coben: Only recently did I discover Harlan and his books and quickly devoured several in his backlog. Caught was my first novel but my favorite so far is Tell No One. What I love about Coben are his plot twists and turns. He is a master at that.

Here are a few of mine. What are some of your favorite authors and why?