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Friday, February 24, 2012

Your Two Cents Worth

Have you ever used beta readers? If so, who did you use? If not, why not? Do you provide compensation for beta readers?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Microsoft Word Tip

I feel sad when I see someone has used manual spaces for indents rather than tabs. My sadness is not because of the person's lack of word processing skills. Rather, I am sad because of all the extra time that the person spent hitting the space bar when they could have used that time for writing instead.  :)


(1) Type your story.

(2) Ctrl + A to select all text.

(3) Make sure your ruler is visible.

(4) Find the hourglas-looking tabs at the top left of the ruler.

(5) Grab the top tab and drag it to where you want your indent (presumably 0.5 inch).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with Linda Yezak, Author of Give the Lady a Ride


Recently, I interviewed Linda Yezak.  

Linda Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a two-time finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, in 2008 for Give the Lady a Ride, a contemporary western comedy romance, published in 2011, and in 2010 for The Cat Lady’s Secret, a Women’s Fiction comedy-drama. She has been published in Christian Romance, Beyondaries, and Vibrant Nation e-zines, has served as a judge in several national and local writing contests, and is currently a freelance editor and a consulting editor for Port Yonder Press.

photo of author Linda Yezak


WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?

Learning how to read, write, and spell. Like so many authors, I’ve been at it a long time–and have been a story-teller for even longer. But only recently have I taken everything seriously enough to pursue publication. And to think, it only took 54 years!


WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?

A variety of authors who have written the how-to books have influenced my style–not the least of which is James Scott Bell–but the one who has the most direct influence is my critique partner, Katie Weiland. She’s tough and won’t let me get by without putting forth my best effort. Give the Lady a Ride is a far better novel because of her input.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS?

Whenever asked this question before, I always emphasized study. Study the craft. It’s imperative. But recently I read a tip by Brandilyn Collins in A Novel Idea. She said, “Write for your smartest reader.” Even though we don’t write the same genre, the premise is the same: write for the reader who “gets it” without having to have things explained. Write for the reader who has seen it all and would become bored with the mundane. Write for the reader who requires more from the author she reads. If you aim for that reader, you’ll face a constant challenge to improve your skill. Meet the challenge, and your career will sky-rocket.

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?

So far this year, it has been non-existent. Aside from a variety of personal crises I’ve been dealing with, I’m scrambling like a draft horse to find an agent for my second novel, The Cat Lady’s Secret, trying to set up festivals for my traveling shop, The Canopy Bookstore (in the face of impossible odds), and working to promote Give the Lady a Ride  through its second year. If and when things settle a bit, my writing schedule will hopefully return to normal: from two to six daily except weekends. Pray for things to settle!

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED IN TEXAS?

Well, according to my mother, there was a time between the ages of three months and six months that we lived in Macon, Georgia, but I don’t remember it. Then there was the year I lived up north in Enid, Oklahoma, but that didn’t go so well so I scooted home. I’m a Texan through and through.

HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN A BULL?

No, and it’s not because I didn’t want to. Can you believe the ex-pro rider I interviewed for my novel had the nerve to tell me I was too old? Really! I was only 52 at the time. Just because most riders are under 30, you’d think he would’ve at least let me try.
Seriously, though, after watching even the calves buck, I’m glad I didn’t. Even the little ones are tough. I’ve never had a broken bone, and riding a bull would’ve guaranteed at least one.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATEST RELEASE.

Give the Lady a Ride is a fun romance in which a New York socialite gets a lesson in faith on the back of a Texas bull–and a handsome cowboy to help her learn!

I love the comments I’ve been receiving about this, my debut novel. Many of my readers believe I live on a ranch or have ranching experience because of my setting description. I don’t, but it’s great that they think so. Another comment said that the reader wanted to invite one of the characters over for lunch because she could relate to her so well. My male readers particularly like the setting and humor–even cowboys have gotten a kick out of it.

God blessed me with a story to tell and with the ability to tell it. Ya can’t beat that!

cowgirl is shown watching a cowboy at a rodeo


WHAT IS THE CAT LADY’S SECRET ABOUT?

Millie, the cat lady, wears purple polyester pants and orange t-shirts. She carries a net to capture feral felines and walks all over town. Wherever she goes, she meets people with needs and wishes—and all are fulfilled.

But who is the real force behind these blessings? A journalist wants to know, and the love of her life makes the discovery that could destroy their relationship.

She went to extremes to hide from her past, but it’s barreling toward her. Fun and games are over. What is she going to do now?

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE A STORY?

How ever much is required to help me understand what I need. Sometimes I just need a quick reference, and a trip into cyberspace does the trick. But to get the bull riding descriptions the way I wanted them for Give the Lady a Ride, I spent an hour in front of a recorded PBR event replaying close-ups of the riders preparing in the chute, spent a couple of hours interviewing a former pro rider, and spent the afternoon on his rodeo ranch watching him “buck the babies”–an event that made it into the novel. I also spent a morning in an auction barn watching the ins and outs of selling cattle. Much of what I learned there didn’t make it into the novel, but what did was accurate.
I’m repeating the process for Southern Challenge, another contemporary western romance set in the world of cutting horse competitions. This one is a bit tougher since cutting contests don’t get the TV time bull riding does. I have to rely on actual attendance and interviews–not that it hurts my feelings!

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH?

One of my daydreams is to write about horse rescue and the ongoing controversy about wild horses, mustangs, unwanted/old horses. There is a very thin line to walk in the telling of this. Both sides of the issue have valid arguments. My research into this has been eye-opening. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to write the story, because it has to be handled so delicately. Maybe someday.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?

On the average day, when I’m not writing, I’m editing. I’m a consulting editor for Port Yonder Press and a freelance editor. I also have a ton of reading to do, from promised reviews, to books for the store, to books I’m reading to learn from the authors.

But you asked how I like to spend my time–fishing. Since I don’t own a horse yet, and have no place to ride even if I did, I want to be fishing.

HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?

They can find me as Linda Yezak on LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Facebook (my fan page is Give the Lady a Ride), and as pprmint777 on Twitter.

The best place to go to learn about my writing is 777 Peppermint Place–and if you hit the link now, you’ll find the rules to win one of the $200-worth of gift certificates I’ll be giving away between now and March 11. To be eligible for the giveaway, leave a comment on this or any other of my posts from the week, in compliance with the rules. The winners will be announced each Saturday!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Research and Writing--Good Resource for Help with Your Character's Psyche

Tonight I contacted an expert for help with a story. And while every person I've contacted is helpful, I always feel a bit nervous/awkward asking for help with research.

An excellent resource is Jeannie Campbell, LMFT, aka the Character Therapist.
If you need help related to your character's psyche, this site is for you! 



Jeannie has already helped me once. And tonight, I hope to head over to her blog for help with another character. It's always nice to get an expert opinion!  :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Your Two Cents Worth

I work full time and am working on my Master's one class at a time, and sometimes, I struggle with finding time in my busy schedule for writing.
 
Some writers are empty nesters, while others are stay-at-home moms. Regardless of your situation, I'd like to know...how do you find time to write?

Monday, February 13, 2012

NASCAR Prizes

Author Suzanne Hartman is giving away fantastic prizes to celebrate the start of the 2012 NASCAR season. For more information, please visit her Web site at http://fasttrackthrillers.blogspot.com

Microsoft Word Tip

An easy way to ensure all manuscript text is double spaced in Microsoft Word:
(1) Use the Select All command (Ctrl + A) to select all text. 
(2) From the Paragraph menu, click on the Line Spacing icon (has two blue arrows, one up and down, next to four black lines). A drop-down menu will appear. Select "2.0," and double spacing will be applied to the text you selected.
(3) You might also want to return to the Line Spacing icon, click on it, and while all text is still selected, choose "Remove Space After Paragraph" or "Remove Space Before Paragraph" (if shown in menu) to ensure you have cleared any extra/weird spacing after/before your paragraphs.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Giveaway--A Ranger's Trail

Woohoo! Are you ready for a book giveaway?

At least five people need to leave comments on my review of A Ranger's Trail for there to be a contest.  :)

Update--it has come to my attention that some of you have experienced problems posting to Blogger today. If that happens, try to post as "Anonymous."

Second Update - the giveaway ends 2/15. 

Third Update- The Giveaway has ended, and tonight, 2/16, I will post the name of the winner!! 

Thanks to everyone for participating. Amber is the winner of the giveaway. I'll be contacting her shortly. I hope everyone enjoyed the interview, and I hope you stop by again soon for the next giveaway! :)

Review of A Ranger’s Trail

I am somewhat discriminating when it comes to historical fiction. I only read books from periods that I enjoy. Recently, I read A Ranger’s Trail, set in Texas in the 1870s and written by Darlene Franklin. 

photo of author darlene franklin

This novel is part of the Morgan Family series (apparently written by various authors) by River North Fiction (RiverNorthFiction.com), an imprint of Moody Publishers. 
 
I enjoyed the overall story (plot and characters). The story was believable and very well-researched. At the start of each chapter, Franklin includes quotes from actual historical accounts from the time period that set the stage for the chapter. At the beginning of the book, Franklin differentiates between fact and fiction (for example, tells the reader which characters were actual historical figures) in the story, prepares the reader for the quotes they will encounter, and provides a related map. I understand Franklin’s reasons for preparing the reader for the quotes and for the historical context of the setting. I believe this makes sense. My only slight criticism would be that I would have preferred the fact-vs.-fiction section included at the end simply because I think it might have been more helpful to read the section after I read the story and was more familiar with the characters. Still, every reader is unique, and others might appreciate having that information upfront. 

In A Ranger’s Trail, Leta Denning’s husband is killed by an angry mob after being acquitted of cattle rustling, and Texas Ranger, Buck Morgan, comes into town to uncover what happened and to mete out justice. I liked Lena’s spunk and Buck’s kindheartedness. The book is well-researched, yet at the same time, the author does not beat readers over the head with unrelated facts from the time period.

This book will appeal probably more to woman because it is a historical romance. However, men who enjoy historical accounts from the 1870s (for example, stories about range wars and cattle rustling) and do not mind a bit of romance might enjoy this story as well. Additionally, those who are looking for a good fiction book on forgiveness might enjoy this story, as the theme of forgiveness is woven throughout.

The bottom line is I enjoyed this story, would read it again, and recommend it to other readers.

For more information on the author, please visit www.darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com.


a texas ranger is shown on the cover


*Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What do Peg Phifer, Frank Peretti, and Ronie Kendig have in common?

All of the above-mentioned authors have books featured on Sleuths and Suspects.

With 10 or more unique comments on our site (about the interview), Phifer will give away a copy of the paperback version on our blog. Otherwise, the winner will receive a gift card for the e-book download from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Also, please stop by to read reviews of Illusion by Peretti and Firethorn by Kendig.
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