Monday, November 25, 2013

Meet the Quid Pro Quills

Any writer who's involved in a critique group probably claims that their group is the best. But they would be wrong. MY critique group is by far the best group of ladies a writer could ever ask for. These women are not only my "editors" and support group, but also strong Christians who've become my closest friends. We pray for one another, cheer each other on, and constantly have each other laughing. I'm blessed beyond words to have them in my life. Let me introduce you to The Quid Pro Quills.

Six Christian fiction writers who love the Lord and are honored and privileged to have become writing instruments sharpened by the King.

Pegg Thomas

Pegg lives on a small farm in Northern Michigan with her husband of mumble years. When not riding her old horse, shearing a sheep, or chasing a stray chicken, you’ll find her puttering in her garden or the kitchen. A self-proclaimed “history geek,” Pegg writes historical fiction with a touch of humor.
Visit Pegg's blog The Sheepish Scribe for book reviews, writing advice, her life on the farm, her general thoughts, and sheep talk.
In addition to being a great writer, Pegg is also a fiber artist! Visit her website Twin Willows Farm for knitting and cross-stitch patterns, great lamb birth photos, and what she currently has for sale!

Pegg keeps me in line when what's going on in my head doesn't come across right on paper (the computer, really). I can say for a fact that I never would've survived my first writing conference without her. She has a great sense of humor and always has our group laughing.

Kara Hunt
Kara loves to read and write supernatural suspense thrillers and is an ACFW Genesis 2013 Finalist in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category. But Kara also loves to share stories about God's love, mercy and faithfulness.
Visit Kara's blog Fiction with Faith for book reviews, faith-strengthening posts, book trailers, and encouragement through God's word.
Follow Kara on Twitter: karahunt2013

Kara is the queen of hooks! Each chapter of her stories leaves a cliffhanger that makes me crazy until her next submission. She's a pro at finding missing words in my manuscripts and scolds me (nicely)when I'm telling instead of showing. I loved meeting Kara at conference as well.

Jericha Kingston
Jericha--tomboy gone rogue--loves the visual, performing, culinary, and literary arts. A Georgia native, she's comfortable in the solitude of the woods, or singing and acting before audiences.
Jericha's heart was stolen at age 16, and it's never been returned. She and her husband have been married for a quarter of a century, and they have two grown sons. She warns mothers of young children: rewards for surviving teenagers may include higher insurance premiums, college tuition, and legal fees. 

Jericha has a penchant for great food. She can often be found preparing Indian meals, Thai cuisine, or down-home Southern cooking. Her red velvet cake has made her a popular substitute teacher at the local high school.
Jericha began writing in 2011. She creates fresh, relatable characters who struggle against impervious odds.
Ousting her inner tomboy has been futile, so Jericha appeases her by fishing, camping, and hiking with her Australian Cattle Dog.
Jericha is my cheerleader. She's excellent with dialogue and adjectives, and has even helped me brainstorm. She occasionally sends our group tracks to the songs she sings. Her voice is beautiful and uplifting. 

Robin Patchen

If time and money were no object, Robin Patchen would travel constantly. Her goal is to visit every place in the entire world--twice. Alas, time is short and money is scarce, and Robin's family doesn't want to follow her all around the world, so she does the next best thing: she writes. In the world she creates, she can go back to the best places time and again.
In the real world, Robin is married to the man of her dreams, Edward, and together they have three children, Nicholas, Lexi, and Jacob. Her family is a close second on her list of priorities after her relationship with Christ.

Visit Robin's blog:

I met Robin (online) a couple of years ago and her writing resonated with me. She's a gifted author and pushes me to go deeper into my characters and stories. Her kindness brought me to The Quids. Robin's Christmas novellas One Christmas Eve and Faith House are available now. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of the Chip MacGregor Literary Agency.

Marge Wiebe

Marge Wiebe is a graduate of Long Ridge Writers Group and an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She can’t sew, knit, or crochet, but she’s been weaving tales since she was but a wee lass. Her earliest romance, created at the age of eight, consisted of a prince riding through a field of dandelions to find his beloved princess—who only weighed about a pound. Though her plots have progressed over the years, and her heroines now weigh a little more, she’s still a hopeless romantic. At age seventeen, she married the man of her dreams and is now homeschooling mom to three charming sons and two beautiful daughters. She loves reading and writing inspirational romance and it’s her desire to touch others with her faith-filled stories. She also loves coffee and chocolate—preferably at the same time. She and her family reside in Manitoba, Canada.

 Marge gives great insight on making characters likable. Her critiques are always encouraging and we share a love for chocolate and coffee. I hope someday we can meet in person and have coffee together! She's represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

There you have it--The Quid Pro Quills.
Visit our webpage at for more about our friendship, stories, crazy writer's lives, and our new blog!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bright Copper Kettles--Now Available!

She needs the future. He needs the past.
Together they find the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmastown, Vermont: where it’s Christmas 365 days a year…
To Darcy Carr the holiday is depressing enough without reliving it every day. Her thriving wreath business and faithful cat are no longer enough to distract her from the pain of her past memories or her current loneliness. Is her frosty neighbor, the only one in town with no Christmas decorations, just another Scrooge, or could he be the one she’s been looking for?
Coppersmith Dean Whitfield hasn’t celebrated Christmas—or anything else—since the death of his wife and unborn child. And he certainly has no desire to carry on the family tradition of crafting a star for the town’s Christmas tree, even if it will benefit a charity. Can Darcy and the joy of the season thaw his frozen heart and help him love again?
Bright Copper Kettles is now available on Amazon at a special holiday price! Click here!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Explosion of Suburbia

Writing fiction requires research. Depending on the subject, sometimes I enjoy this task and other times I don't. As I was researching Cape Cod style homes for one of my stories, I read an article I found interesting about post-World War II and the choked housing market in a growing population. Since today is Veteran's Day, I thought I'd share it with you.

First of all, THANK YOU to all who serve or have served our country. Freedom is not free, and your sacrifice is great. God bless you!

In 1946, approximately 13 million servicemen and women returned from war. Most had the same dream--to own a home on a quiet patch of land, start a family or spend time with their existing family, and simply enjoy the fruits of their labor. Maybe some even envisioned a white picket fence. But the steadily growing population over the past sixteen years made the housing supply scarce. Realtors felt the noose of supply and demand tightening around their necks. Something had to be done--and quick!

Post-war economy was strong and returning GI's held the governments promise of low interest rates, long mortgages, and plenty of houses. What kind of houses would these promises build? Small ones. Inflation was high, nearly doubling the cost to build a home. But, land away from the city was cheap. Farm land quickly transformed into highways, shopping centers, and subdivisions--with one-level homes, enough space to raise their average family of 3.5 kids but not too much land to tend, and chock-full of all the modern conveniences. Behold, the birth of the "housing edition."

Fact: In 1950, more than 1.5 million homes were built and added to the housing market.

Developers William and Alfred Levitt were so successful, the subdivisions they built were nicknamed "Levittowns." Home buyers like the quality of these villages and they loved the low price due to prefabricated house parts and production speed. Levitt crews built a house every fifteen minutes. Levitt's methods were copied, causing an explosion of subdivisions nationwide, especially surrounding big cities.

That's the history behind suburbia. My writer brain concocted all sorts of plot lines as I researched this. Perhaps this post will be a jumping off point for someone who writes historicals, since I do not. For those of you who are reading this post that aren't writers, I hope you enjoyed the insight into a part of our American history.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Main Street U.S.A.

                                                  The days before Walmart...
For many of us, that's hard to remember. But once upon a time, small-town businesses were owned by individuals not corporations, and those businesses were supported by faithful, local patrons. Those patrons purchased items from individually-owned hardware stores, pharmacies, clothing and shoe stores, grocery stores, barber shops, gas stations, and auto mechanics.
People helping people.
Quality customer service with a smile.
Bonding the community.
No Walmart.
Contrary to how it sounds, I didn't write this post to bash Walmart. I shop at Walmart when I have to. And there are many large corporations out there other than Walmart. I'm just using them as an example. I admit, it's convenient to have one store where I can purchase everything in one stop and be on my way. But for me, who loves all things nostalgic, it's sickening to see small towns turn into ghost towns--historic building upon building, vacant and disintegrating. Oh, the stories they could tell...
Anyway, I want to share with you my experience this past weekend in the historic district of Franklin, Indiana, where individually-owned businesses are dedicated to helping consumers and the economy.
Tracey Wade, owner of Simplify--All Things Country by Tracey, invited me to attend Franklin's holiday shopping kickoff for an author "Meet n Greet" and book signing. Her store is located in the old train depot where she offers handmade goods crafted by local citizens.

Her passion lies in supporting and promoting local artistry. Each artist has their own unique story of how their business began and why they create. I loved watching Tracey's excitement and genuine warmth as she shared some of these stories with me.

Simplify--All Things Country by Tracey
One such story was about a retired veteran and his wife who were on the brink of losing their home. In one last attempt to save it, they began crafting items from their home and managed to save their mortgage.
People helping people.

Tracey (right) and her mother Beth,
who helps run the store and teaches
"how-to" classes.
The pottery in the background is made
by Jennifer Mrozinski of "Fatty Frog Pots"
available at Simplify or
100% natural soy candles by Linda's Lites.
Purchase at Simplify or at
Crafts offered by Simplify

A huge thank you from the bottom of my heart goes out to Tracey for having me at her store. She helped me spread the word about my debut e-novella Bright Copper Kettles (releasing December 1st), which will put a clean romance with a faith-based Christmas message into the hands of someone who might need it this holiday season. Thank you for supporting my passion.
I know the economy is in the dumpster and money is tight. But as you do your holiday shopping this year, I encourage you to check out your local, individually-owned stores. You'll not only help your local economy, but you might also help save someones mortgage or help them pay off medical bills from an illness such as cancer. You never know...
In the words of Alan Jackson, "God bless the little man."