Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fun Facts: It's Friday the 13th!!

Happy Friday the 13th! How many of you are superstitious??

Fun Fact #1: Interestingly enough, there were 3 Friday the 13ths in 2009 (Feb, March, and Nov), but the next time we will have 3 in one year will be 2015.

Fun Fact #2: The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, and the fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekephobia - try saying those out loud!

Fun Fact #3: The roots of this fear go back at least to the 14th century's Canterbury Tales (most bad things seemed to happen on Fridays); the Knights Templar were supposedly mass arrested on a Friday the 13th in 1307, and even earlier than both of those, of course, for followers of Christianity, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

It's interesting how superstitions and belief systems take root and grow, isn't it?


In other, non-superstitious news, I'm not sure the following is a "fun" fact, but since I'm active in my local animal shelter and I do what I can to raise awareness about animal rights, I wanted to share this video with you (plus I love the music!).

Please watch and, if you're so inclined, share with others on your own blogs/Facebook pages/etc....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Tracy Ruckman

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! We haven't had an author interview here in a while, so I'm thrilled to have Tracy Ruckman join me. Grab your coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

Hi, Tracy! First off, can you tell us a little about your background?

I’m a full-time freelance writer, editor, and photographer. In the past two years, I’ve been editing more than writing, for financial reasons, but I always seem to dabble with words in some form or another. I offer full editing services through my company Write Integrity Editorial Services, and earlier this summer we began WIES Workshops – online writing courses for anyone interested in writing for the Christian market. I also own the popular Pix-N-Pens blog where a team of us offers book reviews; freelance writing, editing, and marketing advice; photography tips and assignments; writing prompts; and even frequent contests!

I’m married to THE Prince Charming, and we live with our spoiled dog, in Alabama. I’m proud mom of two grown sons who live in metro Atlanta.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

I’m so excited about this beautiful book. Christmas Miracles is a powerful collection of heartwarming stories written by many authors – I’m honored that my story was chosen as one of them. The book is co-authored by Cecil Murphey, bestselling author of 112 books, including the book he coauthored with Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and Marley Gibson, author of the Sorority 101 series.

About the book: Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives. In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

My story, “Miracle of the Nativity” reminds us all that God is still very much with us today, even in the smallest details of our lives during the hardest of times.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Join writers groups, critique groups with writers more advanced than you, study writing as a craft. Learn as much about the craft as you can learn, with a mindset that you’ll never know even a fraction of what you need to know. Develop the habit of writing daily – no matter the circumstances. Even if it’s only 500 words per day – that’s an entire novel over a year’s time. It’s oversimplified, but if you’re going to be a writer, you must write.

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

Writing in general is more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. I’ve held some tough jobs in my lifetime, and writing is by far the most difficult. My brain tends to generate an idea every hour – but learning which ones are workable, feasible ideas is a feat in itself. Then, taking that idea and putting it onto paper – sure, you can just slam it down on paper and type “The End.” But that’s really only the beginning. To get a manuscript to the publishable stage you have to rewrite, edit, hone, tighten, delete, add to, rearrange, and much more. And like most writers I know, the middle of the book is always the hardest to write.

The most exciting and rewarding part has to be the characters. Getting to know my characters so intimately that they become part of my family, and when I speak aloud and call out one of their names, my family doesn’t ask, “Who?” They KNOW. In the early stages of a book, my husband will question me as we run errands, “What kind of car does your character drive? What kind of cereal does he eat?” This helps me know my characters, and they become friends.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I edit almost full-time these days, so being able to write is special time. But when I try to take a break from either, you’ll usually find me exploring some town somewhere – I love to travel – camera in hand. I also love to garden, although my thumbs are more brown than green. We did manage to grow some tomatoes and peppers this year, and I grew some herbs for the first time. I LOVE fresh dill and basil – yum. I also like to cook – just about anything. It’s a good thing my hubby and I like to eat! And even though I don’t get to do it very often, I’m an avid freshwater fisherman. I’ve been fishing since I was five years old, and it is the greatest escape, greatest relaxation of all time.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

Definitely by computer – I just don’t know how books were created before the invention! If I were still having to use a typewriter, I’d probably have a different career. The backspace key is one of my favorites! I have heard of writers who dictate – and sometimes wonder if that would work for me, but my brain and typing fingers tend to work faster than my voice, so it probably wouldn’t work.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?
I like action/adventure movies and shows – 24, Gone in 60 Seconds, National Treasure, Executive Decision, and many others like them. With the first book I completed – I knew NOTHING about writing, and had the story in my head, but didn’t really know where I was going with it. If/when I decide to go back and edit it – totally rewrite it is more likely – it will probably be the action/adventure category. The third novel I’m currently writing is definitely an action/adventure detective novel. It has some fast-paced scenes that are my favorite, and my crit partners say I’ve found my “voice,” so I guess all those movies did indeed inspire my writing.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

I’m giving away a copy of the book, and some other awesome goodies, in a fun contest this month! Just drop by my Web site, look for the Contest tab, and leave a comment to enter.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Mentionables: Revisiting Rejection Letters

"Never, never, never give up!" ~Winston Churchill

Happy Monday! I FINALLY got around to sorting the piles of stuff in our office over the weekend - hooray! And as I was moving files from one file cabinet to another, I came across my folder of rejection letters. They're from both agents and editors/publishing houses, and I vowed always to keep them so I could remember how hard it was to get a contract and how many times I had to pick myself up from disappointment. As I was flipping through, I found some that made me smile, and I thought I'd share them with you:

Rejections for One Night in Boston

"I regret having to tell you that I've decided to pass on this. I wasn't convinced enough of being able to place this manuscript, considering the very tight and demanding conditions of the market."

"Thanks but because of your location, I suggest you would be better served by a NYC agent."

Rejections for One Night in Memphis (which went on to become an EPPIE finalist and earn 4 stars from Romantic Times)

"Unfortunately, we have problems with this story. [Our house's] contemporary romances are generally more light-hearted in tone than your novel."

"When it comes to contemporary romances, I am very picky about what I am looking for. I really want to feel a strong connection with the characters and to truly want to see them together. I also look for a story that has a strong purpose and sense of place. Unfortunately, I just did not see what I was looking for in this story."

"You are a good writer, but somehow the story did not strike the right chord with me."

Rejections for Lost in Paradise

"Unfortunately, I just did not fall in love with the story."

"I just was not enthusiastic about this story."

"As I conduct a legal practice in addition to my work as an agent, I am forced to be very selective in the literary projects I take on to represent. While I am eagerly looking for quality women's fiction, I ultimately concluded that your writing was not strong enough to make this a clearly marketable project."


Then I went through my folder of "Fan Mail" and pulled out 2 emails at random:

"Just finished reading 'One Night in Boston' last night, well this morning at 1:10 am. It was great and I couldn't put it down! I can't wait to order 'One Night in Memphis' and 'Lost in Paradise'!"

"I just read your first two books and loved them both! You have amazing characters, gripping plots, a fantastic vocabulary, and fresh comparisons. I just had to drop you a note to let you know."


Sooo...don't ever give up! One person's rejection is simply that: one person's. The next letter (or email) may be the one you've been waiting for, the one with the wonderful news that says, "I am happy to offer you a contract for..."