I'm going to be making soem changes to my website, including adding a page especially for book clubs. I'd love to put some downloadable discussion questions for each book on that page--but to do that I need some questions! If you've read Worlds Collide or Violette Between and would like to submit a question, please email itto me at alison @ alison dot com and I'll list you as a contributor.
If you own a business or live anywhere near Colorado Springs, and would be willing to post or distribute fliers for this event, please let me know and I'll get you some. Please be sure to let your church know to put it in the bulletin next weekend, too!
This weekend was the ACFW Conference--my first writer's conference as an attendee. (How weird that I've taught at one, but never attended one.) Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was only able to attend Thursday and Friday, and only for the workshops. But it was SO worth it. Thursday's session with Donald Maass of Writing the Breakout Novel fame was TREMENDOUS. If you are serious about your writing and ever have the opportunity to attend one of his sessions, DO IT. If that had been the only day I could attend, it would have been worth it. The other sessions I attended Friday were great, too, although in hindsight I should have signed up for the next track up on the ladder. I am really focused on improving my writing at a foundational level right now, but I underestimated how much I already know and found myself in a track that was a little too elementary for me. But I still learned some things, and now I know for sure next time what track to do.
Probably the most important thing I learned is that I need to swallow my pride, get over myself, and start seriously searching for a mentor. No more excuses. I can't expect to get any better just by reading books and attending one conference a decade. I need to be working one-on-one with someone who is a few steps ahead of me on the writing journey who can sharpen and challenge me. Seriously though? It SO scares me. I'm not good at taking criticism. I'm getting a lot better, but I really fear having someone tell me what I've written is crap. But if no one is speaking truth to you, how can you grow, right?
I'm going to be sending out my next newsletter this week. If you're not yet a subscriber, please take a second to become one by filling out the email field in the little box up there on the right. The next newsletter will highlight an exciting opportunity open only to newsletter subscribers, and you're not going to want to miss it!
Have you ever met a Christian who seems way too happy? They're always in a good mood, nothing ever seems to get them down, they're always talking about how the Lord is blessing them and seem to think every adversity is a chance for God to show how he provides for his children? And you think to yourself, If this person ever faces any REAL trouble in life, that perma-smile and perky outlook are gonna go right out the window.
Well, I read Kimberley Woodhouse's book Welcome Home! My Journey to Extreme Joy and I can tell you I will never think that way again. Turns out joy can indeed persevere, flourish, and even thrive through adversity--and I'm talking some serious adversity here.
When I first started reading Welcome Home! I was a little...well...put off, honestly, by how Kim always seemed to see the bright side and stay so positive. I mean, no one would fault her for being a little cynical, a little jaded, after everything she and her family have been through. I thought maybe she was one of those Christians who is afraid to admit she's scared, or angry at God, or worried that maybe things aren't going to turn out okay in the end, lest a negative experience be all that it takes to sweep away her faith. I wanted her to admit, just once, that she doubted God's goodness, that at least once she decided to chuck Christianity altogether. I mean, that's how people are "supposed" to react when they're hit in the face with tragedy and strife. Sure, eventually they may come back to the faith, with a few dings in their shield of faith, but still wielding it nonetheless. But how can you face up in an honest way to those kinds of experiences and NOT be a little worse for the wear?
Oh me of little faith.
Kim reminded me--often--of James' words to "consider it pure joy...when faced with trials of many kinds." Oh yeah. Not that I forget about that verse--it's just that I tend to quote it while gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes. Not Kim, though. She has the audacity to take God at his word and believe that we actually CAN have joy--true, authentic joy, not a mask with a smile that hides our true feelings--in the midst of trials.
Welcome Home! was not only an inspiring story, but a mirror that showed me the inadequacy of my own faith. That might sound depressing--who wants to read a book that reminds them at every turn that they suck?--but it was actually incredibly uplifting. To see someone living out their faith the way the Bible encourages us to helped me to see the ways in which I need to deepen my own relationship with Christ. And since I'm the kind of person who needs "action points" to focus on, I was glad to have the pointers.
So...in a nutshell, the book was great and I highly recommend it. And you might have noticed Kim's name on the list of authors I posted last night who will be at the Denver book signing on Saturday. So after you've stopped by my table (nudge nudge) be sure to head over to Kim's and grab a copy of Welcome Home! I'm confident you'll find it as extremely insightful as I did.
So I'm gearing up for the long-awaited ACFW Annual Conference--woot!--and in my excitement nearly forgot to post about the huuuuuuge book signing event they're doing this Saturday. Nearly 100 authors (including me) will be signing their books at the conference bookstore. Bring your own copies, buy books at your favorite local bookstore, or get them at the signing!
September 19th, 2009 4:00-5:30 pm Denver Marriott Tech Center 4900 S. Syracuse Street
Authors who will be participating: Carolyne Aarsen Diane Ashley Ruth Axtell Morren Karen Ball Rick Barry Christina Berry Lauralee Bliss Diana Brandmeyer Sandra Bricker Margaret Brownley Candace Calvert Robin Caroll Jeanie Smith Cash Colleen Coble Brandilyn Collins Mary Connealy Shirley Connolly Margaret Daley Susan Page Davis Mary Davis Janet Dean Megan DiMaria Lena Nelson Dooley Wanda Dyson Leanna Ellis Pamela Ewen Miralee Ferrell Linda Ford Tina Ann Forkner Darlene Franklin Judy Gann Jeff Gerke Rhonda Gibson Debby Giusti Sandra Glahn Elizabeth Goddard Winnie Griggs Rene Gutteridge Cathy Marie Hake Lisa Harris Mary Hawkins Roxanne Henke Cynthia Hickey Patti Hill Denise Hunter Annette Irby Myra Johnson Liz Johnson Jenny Jones Eileen Key LAURIE Kingery Kathleen Kovach Harry Kraus Jeanne Marie Leach Tosca Lee Julie Lessman Loree Lough Elizabeth Ludwig Richard Mabry Debbie Macomber Joyce Magnin Gail Gaymer Martin Judy/Jude Martin-Urban/Urbanski Debby Mayne Aaron McCarver Vickie McDonough Dana Mentink Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll DiAnn Mills Stephanie Morrill Janelle Mowery Jill Elizabeth Nelson Kevin Parsons Golden Keyes Parsons Donita K. Paul Tracie Peterson Allie Pleiter Cara Putman Tara Randel Deborah Raney Sandra Robbins Kim Sawyer Marc Schooley Michael Sheehan Shelley Shepard Gray Ann Shorey Beth Shriver Sandra Lee Smith Virginia Smith Betsy St. Amant Therese Stenzel Stuart Stockton Alison Strobel Michelle Sutton Camy Tang Donn Taylor Janice (Hanna) Thompson Missy Tippens Pamela Tracy Carrie Turansky Deborah Vogts Jenness Walker Dan Walsh Susan May Warren Michael Webb Kit Wilkinson Lisa Wingate Beth Wiseman Kimberley Woodhouse Lenora Worth Cheryl Wyatt Kathleen Y'Barbo
I've been pondering lately what writing style I want to settle on and cultivate as my own. The style and tone of my books seems to change every time, and I know part of that is just maturing and growing as a writer, but I think it's time to aim for consistency.
But when I think about the authors I read that have multiple stand-alone books, I notice that, because their style is consistent, their books all "read" the same. In a series this would make sense--the same characters, the same voices, etc. But when the characters change, shouldn't the tone of the book as well?
A good example is Jodi Picoult. I love her books. I aspire to her level of plot and character development and use of figurative language. But it dawned on me after reading her most recent book that every character is eloquent, both in spoken word and thought, and that every book is written in the same style. There's almost always a major twist at the very end, when there's just a page or two left and you don't think she can possibly cram any more plot in there. There's almost always a marriage on the rocks in one way or another. There's almost always courtroom drama. There's always a plethora of well-crafted metaphors and similes sprinkled throughout the tight, crafted-within-an-inch-of-its-life-but-it-doesn't-read-that-way narrative. And, as I read this last book of hers, I found myself getting bored with it. I'm sorry, but 13-year-olds aren't that insightful or articulate. Mothers who are short on sleep and stressed to the nth degree aren't that coherent. And the ending? It didn't surprise me one iota, because I knew before I even loaded the book onto my Sony eReader that something tragic was going to happen at the very last second. No tears from me this time. In fact, I felt a little irritated, because I felt like she was trying to manipulate my emotions.
So, in light of that, I wonder if I ought to try to settle on one style or not. Maybe my "style" is that every book feels different, sounds different. My question to those of you who read authors who write stand-alones: do you notice a similarity between them? Does it make the books feel the same to you, or am I particularly sensitive (or is it picky?)? If an author's books didn't exhibit a consistent style, would you notice? Would you care?
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