Sunday, September 27, 2009

Questions, questions...

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.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Come see me at The Journey Event!

On Oct. 10 I'll be at Glen Eyrie Castle Bookstore in Colorado Springs from 1-3, along with Becky Harling and Larry Killam, as part of The Journey Event 2009. This is a massive book signing event spread out over two days and four bookstores, with over twenty Christian authors participating.

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!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Conference thoughts and one last chance....

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!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Extremely Insightful

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. 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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Massive book signing even this Saturday!

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

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Searching for Style

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?