Saturday, August 18, 2007

What You Get From Giving

There's an article in the September issue of Body and Soul magazine that talks about the benefits of giving. It's not a secret, of course, that giving time, assistance, counsel, money, etc. is a compassionate and noble thing to do. But who knew it could also cause you to live longer?? Consider this:

"In one study of 2000 people conducted at the Buck Institute for Age Research in California, those who volunteered for two or more organizations had a whopping 44 percent lower likelihood of dying compared with those who didn't--and that's after adjusting for, exercise, and marital status. Volunteering even beat out exercising four times a week (30 percent) and going to religious services (29 percent) when it came to promoting longevity. Another study of 427 women found that those who did any kind of volunteering had better physical functioning 30 years later. Next to quitting smoking, giving is the best possible thing you could do for your health--making virtue truly its own reward."


Of course, the trick is finding the time, right? So many of us run around for our jobs and our families and every once in a while, ourselves, that there's little time left to give to a volunteer organnization. I'm one of these guilty, ones, which is why I set as a New Year's resolution back in January to spend at least 20 hours volunteering this year. I know that's not a lot, but I figured it's a start.

And I found the perfect opportunity for me: an animal shelter about 5 miles from my house that's in sore need of volunteers to help socialize cats and walk dogs (they also have farm animals that need care, but since I'm not really experienced in that area I leave that to others...).

So I'm off this morning to give some loving to other animals, especially since my cat's recovery. I believe in karma, after all.

What about you? I'm interested to know who volunteers, how often, and in what capacity. Anyone want to share??

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday's Feast

OK, here we go!

Describe your laundry routine. Do you have a certain day when you do it all, or do you just wash whatever you need for the next day?

Hey, whenever the basket gets full, I do it! Usually ends up being every 3-5 days or so (there's only 2 of us, though sometimes I'd swear there's more!)

In your opinion, what age will you be when you’ll consider yourself to truly be old?

Loaded question. When I was 10, I thought the answer was 30. When I was 30, I thought the answer was 60. When I get to be 60, I imagine I'll change that again. Maybe 85?

What is one of your goals? Is it short-term, long-term, or both?

I always, always wanted to publish a book. Since I was fortunate enough to achieve that this summer, I think I'll have to set some new goals.

Main Course
Name something unbelievable you’ve seen or read lately.

My cat's recovery from near-death. Modern medicine (and a whole lotta love) can work miracles.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how happy are you today?
It's too early to make that call, but let's say around an 8. Life is good :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shameless Promotion

Just a reminder that the Tote Bag contest (mentioned above) runs through August 26, so make sure to enter!

And if you didn't get a chance to read my interview over at WOW! yesterday, take a jaunt over there and check it out.

Marianne has two short stories available at The Wild Rose Press:

They only cost $1.50 each - how can you beat that? Buy them, download, and read over your morning coffee or your lunch.

On a side note, I sent off my latest complete work, One Night in Memphis, to my editor at Samhain. I'm nervous, previously accepted novel doesn't mean the next one gets a free pass, unfortunately.

So it's off to the press release drawing board today, while I figure out how to turn a phrase that is at once witty and intriguing, brief and interesting enough to make newspapers/radio stations want to know more about One Night in Boston. (A shameless plea: if you've read - and liked - it, could you pop over to My Bookstore and More and leave a review? Thanks!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Author Jay Young

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! We have another great author interview scheduled for today, this time with Christian historical author Jay Young.

But before we get started, hurry on over to The Long and Short of It and read the glowing review of my newly released novel, One Night in Boston. My favorite part: "Boniface has a delicate touch, her flashbacks are smooth, clarify the tale, but do not slow the pace. Her word choice and comparisons are lovely..." (Thanks, Nancy!)

Also, today I'm featured in an interview over at WOW - Women on Writing. If you're not reading this e-zine, you should be! It's a terrific resource for any writer. And Angela did such a nice job with the interview!

Moving on, make sure you read the sticky note above, and post a comment if you're interested in being entered into the Tote Bag Contest. Hey, what do you have to lose??

Finally, take a moment to offer a hearty congrats to Marianne, who has not one but TWO short stories releasing today with The Wild Rose Press. She's running a contest to celebrate, so drop by her blog to enter.


And now, without further ado or distraction, let's get to know Jay Young.

Hi Jay! Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born in 1970 and grew up in Rockville, Maryland. My future wife and I grew up attending the same church and started dating in high school. I went on to study Accounting and MIS at Baylor University and got married after my Junior year. Upon graduating, my wife Cheri and I lived in Sacramento, CA for twelve years where we had four children. I worked in the computer field and served as the Worship Leader at our church, playing and recording with several bands and teaching guitar on the side. In 2005, we moved to San Antonio, TX where we’ve been living happily, trying to keep up with these wonderful kids and life in general.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

When I was a kid I wanted to be an author when I grew up, but somewhere along the line I gave up on it. When we moved to Texas in 2005, I decided it was time to spend less time focusing on music and try something else. I had toyed with the idea of writing, but I couldn’t think of what I could possibly write about. SQL Programming? How to play the guitar? How to change diapers? Then one night I was out riding my bike and I decided I would pray about it. Immediately the idea for the novels sprung into my head. I realized that I had several ideas and several parts of scripture that I had been studying that would fit into an exciting story. By the time I rode home, I already had the storyline and most of the characters in mind. It was like God had been holding this gift-wrapped box for me for twenty-five years, just waiting for me to ask for it.

Now, I’m a huge reader and a huge music fan, but one of my biggest hang-ups is the lack of diversity and quality in the modern Christian music and literature scene. There are a handful of Christian bands and authors I really dig, but there simply isn’t much available for Christians who enjoy “edgier” entertainment, so I wanted to write a novel for all the guys like me. Late 20’s / Early 30’s. Grew up reading X-Men and watching Thundercats. Loves Pulp Fiction. Reads Stephen King. Watches the Simpsons every week. Owns every Metallica album and sees them every time they come to town. Probably has some tats and closed-up earring holes. Loves Jesus with all his heart. I think there are LOTS of guys out there who fit that mold who are just waiting for a story and characters they can relate to, and that’s what I’m trying to do with the entire Heroes Series. Surprisingly, I’ve heard from many readers in their 60’s and 70’s who really enjoy the books as well. The language I use tends to be pretty mature, so I think the books lend themselves more to older readers than to children or pre-teens.

The novels incorporate a lot of heavy-duty scriptural insight and conjecture, so Biblical scholars can enjoy the stories on a deep level, but I’ve also tried to make the stories accessible to folks who barely know anything about the Bible. The novels see-saw back and forth between modern and ancient times and use a variety of POV’s and narrative styles.

Tell us about your latest work.

I’m right in the middle of a five-book series. Book One introduced all the characters and set up the storyline. Book Two was all action-packed payoff. Book Three takes place three years after the end of Book Two, so I’m introducing a few new characters and a very involved back-story involving the patriarch Levi. We tend to think of poor Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery and what a great guy he was, but I’m digging into what drove those brothers. Levi in particular is such a fascinating character, driven by so much pain.

I’m also dealing with my main character confronting his estranged father who had abandoned his family, so there’s lots of pain surfacing in that story as well. Basically Book Three is about pain – especially pain caused by the mistakes of a father. That’s the deep stuff, but I’d say the book is at least half all-out action. I love writing battle scenes – big and small. I also love digging into the characters to see what makes them tick – where do their actions come from; what is God doing in their lives; how do they cope with trials and confusion; all that good stuff.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

For me, the fun part is writing the outline. I spend a few weeks writing a complete outline and timeline before I write a single word. I love putting together the pieces of the puzzle and imagining the characters in the outline process. By the time I’m ready to write, it’s more like coloring inside the lines, so I can focus more on the language and emotions without worrying about the story going off track. The most rewarding part is reading a particular paragraph or chapter and finding myself moved emotionally – knowing I hit the right emotional notes along the way and hoping that other readers will feel the same way when they read it.

The hardest thing for me is deciding how to start a chapter. At what point in the story do I jump in and how much should be told in flashback? What POV should I use? What verb tense should I use? How can I make the first paragraph engaging, but set a tone that’s maintainable? It takes almost as long to write the first paragraph as it takes to write the rest of the chapter.

What advice would you give to aspiring, unpublished writers?

It actually doesn’t take much time to write – it just takes an effort. I think about the characters and plot while I’m driving or lying in bed or doing something non-constructive. I jot notes or write on my lunch break or when I get an idea. I’ll write a few times a week for about an hour or two after the kids have gone to bed if my wife’s watching a show I don’t want to watch. I’ll take 4 – 6 hours on a Saturday once or twice a month and really crank out the words. Instead of working on home improvements or watching American Idol and Survivor, I just use those extra hours to write and it all adds up. With Microsoft Word, Google, and Wikipedia, everyone has the tools to at least attempt writing. And with e-queries, e-books, webzines, POD publishing, and self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to get your writing out to the rest of the world.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I love Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and some modern-genre stuff, like Chuck Pahlaniuk. My all-time favorite author is Orson Scott Card. The humanity he instills in his characters and the complex dilemmas he puts them through are just brilliant and moving. More recently, I’ve been inspired by Carol Berg – a computer programmer turned author who writes truly engaging Fantasy novels. I’d have to throw Robert R. McCammon into the mix as well. And since I’m throwing in authors, let’s toss in Dan Simmons. I was reading his Hyperion series when I began writing my own series and I’d like to think a little of his brilliance rubbed off. Just a little, though.

Thanks so much for a fascinating interview, Jay! Want to know more about this author? Visit his webpage below. And leave a comment letting us know you were here today!

Jay L. Young is the author of the Heroes Series – an epic series of Christian Fiction novels which chronicle the battles and tribulations of Noah “No” Argentar and a band of heroes called The Faction. His novels have been described as “the X-Men meet the Old Testament”. The first novel, titled “Heroes Of Old” was released by iUniverse publishing in 2007, followed shortly by the second novel, titled “Spirit Of Heroes”. The third novel in the series, titled “Sanctuary of Heroes” is scheduled to be released in late 2007. Two additional novels, titled “Tribulation Of Heroes” and “The Will Of Heroes” will complete the five-book series.

Jay Young

Jay Young's Amazon Page

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Lot of Little Things to Mention

OK, today there's a potpourri of news and links for me to mention, so hang on and make sure you don't miss anything!

First, my good writing friends Marianne and Judy, have been working oh so hard on the launch of their new site, The Long and the Short of It. Go take a look at the site (still under construction) and then mark August 27 on your calendars, because that's the Grand Debut, with chances to win all kinds of great stuff that whole week.

And after some foot dragging, I have let them convince me to become one of their reviewers, so you might see my profile over there as you poke around. I'll also be popping in as a guest author and providing some articles on the craft of writing every so often...should be fun!

In the next day or so, I should have a sticky post up here about the great Tote Bag Contest, where you could win a tote bag filled with books just for posting a comment on any reviewer's blog! Until then, stop by Marianne's blog to find out more.

I shared my book trailer for One Night in Boston with you last week, but I've since uploaded it to Preview the Book, and they did a terrific job not only creating a page for me with all the info, but also designing a banner free of charge. If any authors are looking for extra promotion, they offer free hosting of your trailer for 1 year. Yes, free! How can you beat that??

Lost in Paradise has finally made it to the "Coming Soon" page at The Wild Rose Press. You can check out the blurb here (just try to ignore the fact that they spelled "Champagne" wrong, OK?). Scroll about 2/3 of the way down the's on the right hand side.

And finally, I just got my cover for Lost in Paradise as well. I like it a lot - very very yummy - but the only problem is...they spelled my name wrong. Take a look.

Good people to work with over there at TWRP, but I'm wondering if there's an opening for a proofreader??

Tomorrow there will be lots more to announce, along with an author interview, so make sure to stop back!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Things I Learned

As I was walking across my person's lap yesterday, I saw my picture on her blog. I told her if she was going to write about me, it was only fair I get my chance too. So today she's taking a break, and I'm the guest blogger.

Most of you know that I spent most of last week in the hospital. Even though it was a very nice hospital, with an even nicer price tag according to my person, I couldn't wait to leave. Here are 5 things I learned:

1. When you aren't feeling quite right, you should never wait until the last minute to let someone know. Yes, we cats pride ourselves on our stoic demeanor, but let's face facts: when you can't breathe and you can't eat and you're freezing 'cause your body temperature is 4 degrees lower than it should be, it's sort of stupid to pretend everything's fine.

2. Be nice to the people who are taking care of you. Even though the doctors and nurses might hurt you when they're checking things out, they also give you good drugs and make your heart stop pounding so hard and even put you into an oxygen cage if you're having a hard time breathing. They will also call you "handsome" and coo at you when you're trying to sleep. But they mean well.

3. It's good to have a friend. When I came home, the other cat in the house (you know, the younger one who isn't nearly as bright or experienced as I am), shared his sleeping space and his food with me. He also followed me around and sniffed me A LOT. I think he missed me while I was gone.

4. The man that my person lives with isn't as tough as he likes to pretend. Oh, sure, he likes to complain about my hair everywhere, and how much my food and my litter and my vet bills cost, but when I was sick, he drove really really fast down the highway in the middle of the night to get me to the hospital. Plus, since I've been home he's relaxed the "no cats in the bedroom" rule.

5. When you're sick, the best place to be is home. Trust me on this one.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

Update: My cat is slowly showing his old personality (yay!), and though he's still so skinny from not eating for 5 days, he's eating more now every day. The vet said he was overweight last year, anyway. I suppose hospitalization is one way to put your pet on a diet :)

Here's a pic of him cleaning himself yesterday (and looking appropriately insulted that I caught him in such an unflattering position).

I have to send thank-you notes to the doctors who nursed him back to health, although I'm not sure there are words to properly say thank you for saving my heart. I'll spend a little time browsing the card aisle today in Target and see what I can find.

Here's a fun weekend meme I found for today. Visit here if you want to play along!

  1. Voyage :: Mayflower

  2. Patricia :: Richardson (great actress)

  3. Transformation :: The ongoing saga over at Marianne's Pillar Place

  4. Vocabulary :: I wish more people had one that included fewer 4-letter words
  5. San Francisco:: RWA national conference next year!

  6. Edward :: Norton (great actor)

  7. Sawyer :: Yummy eye candy on LOST

  8. Literary :: Novel (and what is a "literary novel," exactly?)

  9. Tiger :: main character in Life of Pi, which I'm reading right now

  10. Seal :: He married Heidi Klum??