Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo Starts Today... if you think I've been a bad blogger before (and I have, I freely admit), you may not see me again until December. On the other hand, who knows? I may just pop in here from time to time just to see how you're all doing!

So far today, I have written CHAPTER ONE and one, count 'em, one sentence. Hoping to improve that score before the day is done, DV.

Belatedly: The Winner of JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL is...

Send your e-mail to Kathy Carlton Willis , WillisWay @ aol. com (close spaces) , with your contact information.
Congratulations! (And sorry to be so late!)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


It's not too late to enter to win a copy of Stuart Migdon's wonderful book, JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL. Just leave a post here, and you'll be entered!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jesus Take The Wheel (Part 4)

What People Are Saying About Jesus Take the Wheel

Too many people say they have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, yet a little probing finds that He is either in the passenger seat, in the back seat, or even in the trunk. Stuart Migdon expounds powerful biblical principles that show that there is only one place for Him to be-at at wheel.
Ray Comfort-Co-Host of The Way Of The Master TV Show-Author of more than 60 Christian Books.

Just like a fast-paced game, our lives are full of events that can quickly steer us off track. Jesus Take the Wheel is the game plan all of us need to get us on the right track with God and keep us there.
Byron Scott- NBA Head Coach- New Orleans Hornets.

About Stuart Migdon

Stuart Migdon was raised in Reformed Judaism. He married and became a father at the age of 18. With no money and no one to help, he quickly determined he had to take control of his own life. He developed a "don't quit" attitude and set out to beat the odds that were already stacking up against him. While working a full time job to support his family, he also managed to graduate college in four years, and to do it with high honors. That same stubborn persistence propelled him to become a CPA and later a successful insurance agent. With a commitment to hard work and excellence, Stuart continued to achieve every goal that he set for his life. However, all the success in the world could not fill the emptiness that was growing within him.

In 1991, things began to change. He came to know Jesus as His Messiah and felt a strong desire to live a life that would really be pleasing to God. A life that he somehow knew was radically different than the one he had been living. With every ounce of his being, he was now determined to live that life.

Since then, Stuart has become an avid student of the Bible. Over the last five years, his thirst for more has led him into a detailed study of God's Word, and specifically the lives of the Bible's two central figures, Jesus and Moses. During this time he also began to realize that what had been driving him in his own study was more than just a personal quest for knowledge, it was actually a calling from the Lord. As a result, he began a new adventure as an author, and in 2008 published his first book,Jesus Take the Wheel: 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God.

Today, Stuart is a successful Christian businessman and serves as an elder and biblical counselor at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge in New Jersey. Stuart's growing understanding of his own need to let Jesus take the wheel of his life, has equipped him for the many situations he faces in ministry today. In every area, he challenges those he encounters to begin living a transformed life by letting Jesus have His rightful place behind the wheel of their lives.

Stuart and his wife Jeanne have two adult children, Jennifer and Jason, and one grandson.

Stuart Migdon is available for phone visits to your bookclub or Bible study. For information on how to have Stuart speak to your group, e-mail Kathy Carlton Willis with the name of your club or study. E-mail for Bookclub Tour Information

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jesus Take the Wheel (Part 3)

Here's an excerpt from Jesus Take the Wheel. Enjoy!


The key to being used by God for His glory is that we give over control and realize all glory and honor goes to God alone. True Humility. The great love of God allows us to see the changes that need to be made in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even the greatest can be humbled.
It's never too late to change as long as He is the one changing us. Most people won't admit that being important matters to them. But if we seek recognition in one way or another, we have revealed through our actions that we desire to be self-important. Here's a five-point test to see just how significant self-importance is to you.
Five Evidences of Desiring Self-Importance
Whenever you do something with the goal of recognition, it's really about your own importance. Let's say you help someone out, and you're looking for acknowledgment of what you've done. Maybe you helped them with general advice, helped them get a job, watched their children, lent them money, bought them a gift, or did some other favor for them. You could even be doing what God instructs all of us to do, comforting the sick, visiting the prisoner, feeding and clothing the poor, or being there for the needy. If you're doing it with the desire to be noticed, even if that's just part of your reason, then you have too much focus on your own importance.
How many times have we heard people talk about a time when they did something for someone else, and the person they did it for wasn't appreciative, didn't say thank you enough, or in some other way didn't show enough gratitude? Doesn't that show that they were doing it for the recognition and not to help someone else? It's hard not to want recognition--we feel like we deserve it. That's the sin nature with which we constantly struggle.
The fight is only won with God at the wheel. In order to do so, you need to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit and relinquish control of your life to Him. When you give to others without looking to feed your own ego but only to see good being done for someone else, your reward is from God, and it far surpasses any reward of recognition you can get from man. Keep in mind that recognition can be good if it comes naturally, but if you do things with the intention or motive of being recognized, you're making yourself too important!
Whenever a good deed is not done because it brings no attention to you, then it is really about your own importance. How about when you assess a certain situation and you decide not to help if you don't get recognition. Perhaps you decide not to give to a good cause because your gift would be anonymous. Or you decide not to help someone unless there are enough people around to see--an audience, so to speak. Some people are notorious for showing up to help at a charitable event only for the recognition, the photo op so to speak. Once the cameras are packed away, they leave. We do the same thing when we choose not to do good deeds when there is no acknowledgement in doing so. If that's your thinking process, it is obvious that recognition is your motivation, and you've put too much significance on your own importance. The recognition may come, but it is your only reward. God will have no part in it.
When you are looking for opportunities to tell people about your accomplishments, it's really all about your own importance. Have you ever been in a situation where you've heard someone telling others about their own accomplishments, their job titles, degrees, money, house, or material possessions, when there's really no need for others to know? Or maybe you've been around someone looking for opportunities to fit these kinds of things into the conversation? It's out of context, and it's a clear sign that they're doing it for recognition, putting too much significance on their own importance.
When you worry about what others think of you, you are too focused on your own importance. If you are constantly worried about what other people think of you and you make decisions based on this concern, you are placing too much significance on your own importance. It could be deciding to go someplace or to be with some people because you think others will look more favorably on you. Or perhaps you stay away from someplace or some people because others would think less of you if you didn't. Self-importance matters to you if you are concerned about the actions you take or the things you say based on what other people might think.
When you admire others based on their possessions or status, then your focus is on your own importance. If it's all about their power or prestige, then you're impressed by the wrong elements--these things do not make a person truly important. If you are impacted by the importance of others, then importance matters way too much to you.
In summary, whenever you attempt to accomplish something with a reason other than for the love of God and the love of others, it is done to demonstrate your own importance, and it gets in the way of God's love. Rather than desiring to be "king of the hill," yield to the King of the Hill. He was victorious over death on a cross on the hill of Mt. Calvary; He will be victorious in transforming our lives as well.

Jesus Take the Wheel (Part 2)

The practical biblical instruction found in Stuart Migdon's book, Jesus Take the Wheel takes readers on a two-month journey that will literally transform the way they live their lives. Rich insights from the author's own life mixed with wisdom gleaned from the pages of Scripture combines to make reading this book an adventure that will be looked forward to each day. In the face of life's many uncertainties and struggles, the message of real hope that Jesus Take the Wheel brings, is one that will benefit everyone.

Jesus Take the Wheel is a valuable resource for spiritual growth and discipleship. Through applying the biblical principles and truths contained throughout its pages, readers will begin to discover that what has been impossible alone, is very possible with God at the wheel of their lives. Each day's reading is followed by an application aimed at applying the day's biblical truths and principles to the real circumstances of life.

While many in our world today know that they need and want change, they often fail to allow Jesus to have His rightful place in their lives simply because they don't know where to start. In Jesus Take the Wheel, readers are given an easy and practical plan to follow each day that will teach them what they need to do in order to begin letting Jesus be the One in the driver's seat.
To win a copy of this book, leave a comment in the post box or e-mail me at
hope _ chastain [at] yahoo [dot] com (no spaces).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jesus Take the Wheel

An Interview with Stuart Migdon

According to your bio, you are a Messianic Jew. Tell us your conversion story.

I was raised in Reformed Judaism, made my Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and was even confirmed in my Reformed Temple, playing the role of God in the class play! When I was 18 my girlfriend Jeanne got pregnant and we got married and had our daughter Jennifer a short time later. Suddenly, in addition to going to college full time I was working 50-60 hours a week to support my family. Money was tight, we were very poor and life was a struggle. I had no time for religion in my life and only focused on finishing college in four years, becoming successful and making a lot of money so I would never have to be poor again. My life was consumed with striving for success and eventually I became physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. In my quest for success I decided to track down the leading salesman for an insurance company I worked with. I hounded Ron for months to meet with me and he finally agreed. During the meeting he told me many things he did for success but the last thing he told me is that he prayed before each sales appointment. I told him I thought that was strange and because of my answer he reached under his desk and handed me "the book" which he told me was the bible written in fourth grade language for anyone to understand, I took the bible and decided that I was going to read the Old Testament which I did just about every day for three years. I was searching for God and I didn't really even know it. Even though the bible Ron gave me had the New Testament in it I never considered opening it; I was Jewish and Jewish people did not read the New Testament. About three years later at the age of 33 I walked into a meeting with a prospect of mine, looking to sell him some disability insurance. As I walked into Sal's office I noticed a bible on his desk and asked him why it was there. He told me that he was going to be leaving his job as the controller of a very successful company to become a full time minister. I told him that I couldn't believe that he would leave such a good job to do this and I also told him that I had been reading the bible for the last three years. Sal asked me some questions and then he asked me if I could ever believe that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. That was 17 years ago but I can still remember my response word for word. I told Sal that it would be easier to believe that I was a female then to believe that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah! Sal was surprised by my answer and asked me if he could pray for me. I told him no but he insisted. After making him explain exactly what he was going to do and say, I agreed to let him pray for me. Before I left, Sal invited me to his ordination as a minister which was scheduled in a month and to my surprise I agreed to go. I somehow felt drawn to go and I was even looking forward to it. During the service for Sal's ordination, I heard the gospel message for the first time in my life and I felt an irresistible desire to repent of my sins and receive Jesus as my Lord. I left my house that evening to go to the ordination a Jew who knew nothing about Jesus and I came home a Jewish believer in Jesus!

Most people would assume that when you began your relationship with the Messiah that Jesus was automatically in charge of your life. Did you find this to be true, or was it a struggle to keep Jesus in the driver's seat?

In the first few years as a Jewish believer I was fascinated by Messianic prophesy and I studied these prophesies regularly. I really enjoyed reading a prediction about the future coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament and then reading about the fulfillment of this prophesy in the life of Jesus. This study was strengthening my faith which was my daily prayer to God. However, in reading the bible every day I realized that God desired for me to live a certain life for Him and I wanted to learn more about what that life was. Before knowing Jesus I had read many self help books about how to live a successful life but none of the advice made sense to me anymore. Although I was changed by Jesus instantly, I was slowly learning what He required from me, how He wanted me to live for Him. I had lived such a "me" centered life before knowing Jesus, always thinking about how things would affect my life, that there was a lot of changing that needed to take place. I was a control person and so giving Jesus the wheel of my life was a difficult process. Fortunately the bible is filled with examples of how to let Jesus take control of your life and the joy that it brings when you do!

What have you found to be a Christian's biggest obstacle in allowing Jesus to take the wheel?

The biggest obstacle Christians have in letting Jesus take the wheel is pride. We say that we have no pride but our actions speak differently. We think that we can control our lives and when we need God we call out to Him for help. The world around us is so "me" centered that we can easily be indoctrinated into believing the lie that we are good enough and able to be in control. In order to begin to let Jesus take the wheel, we must understand what it means to live in our relationship with God with childlike humility, which is the opposite of pride. That's why the book, Jesus Take The Wheel begins with understanding childlike humility and why it's so important to God and how to live it every day in our relationship with Him.

Are there practical tips you can briefly share that help Christians keep Jesus at the wheel?

The most important thing to do in keeping Jesus at the wheel is to recognize whether He is truly there in the first place. We often think He is at the wheel of our lives but when probed, we find He is either in the back seat or in the trunk. One of the best indications of determining whether Jesus is at the wheel is to take a look at what you worry about. If you are worrying about your children, your job, your finances, your health, your spouse or anything else for that matter, chances are that Jesus is not fully at the wheel. Once you recognize that you need to move over and let Jesus drive, you are ready for the journey necessary to allow Him to remain at the wheel. This comes in changing life patterns and actions to no longer imitate anything of the world around us but instead to imitate Jesus. It's the journey to self denial that leads to total joy in Jesus.

Explain the benefits of trusting God completely.

When a Christian totally trusts the Lord there is a peace in their life that transcends all comprehension. Even through trials and difficulties, through tough times and sorrow there will be an inexplicable joy that only God provides. God never tells us that life will be easy when we truly deny our self, take up our cross daily and follow Him, He instead tells us that it's the best way to live. Why? Because trusting Him provides a childlike dependence on the Creator of the universe and all else seems secondary to a life dedicated to Him. When we live a life totally trusting God, scriptures come alive without doubting and our commitment to God is unwavering. That's why Jesus Take The Wheel focuses on the lives of biblical characters who have trusted God no matter what and what we can learn from them to do the same.

How do you hope to reach Jewish people with the message of this book?

I am a Jewish believer in Jesus. The book, Jesus Take The Wheel is written for the Christian audience who is looking for a closer relationship with God and all the joy that brings. Therefore the book is not specifically designed for Jewish people who do not know the Lord. However my life as a Jew before knowing Jesus is depicted in the book and my new life as a Jewish believer reveals a changed man, only changed by the sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus Himself. Christians that read this book will be encouraged to tell their Jewish friends about the Jewish Messiah and be able to introduce them to a Jewish believer by recommending they read the book. What's also interesting is that one of the focal biblical characters written about in the book is Moses, the Most revered Jew of all time!

How destructive is pride in the life of a believer? What's the cure?

As I said earlier, pride is the biggest obstacle in letting Jesus take the wheel. Pride is why the Devil rebelled against God and why we do as well. Pride causes us to sin against a holy God. The only cure for pride as a Christian is to live a life of self denial. That's why the book, Jesus Take The Wheel is focused on doing just that. It's easier said than done and Christians need an action plan of how to live their life with no focus on self. It must be a daily plan that uses the scriptures to reveal the ugliness of pride and the beauty of a forgiving God.

How has your experience as a church leader helped to develop the methods used in the book?

As a church leader, I have had many opportunities to listen to the various struggles Christians have in their lives and how they attempt to deal with these struggles. With the responsibility to counsel other Christians comes the obligation to provide the best biblical counseling possible. That comes only as we dig deep into God's Word for the answers of how to live for Him today. I discovered that the only answer of how to do this to learn how to let Jesus take the wheel.

You're a Christian businessman. How do you think other businessmen could benefit from the principles of your book?

I have been a businessman since graduating college. I first started my career as a Certified Public Accountant and then went into the financial planning field, ultimately settling in as an insurance broker. When I first began my career in business I was struggling financially and raising a family. As I faced the many trials and circumstances that businessmen encounter, I started to spiral into striving for success and all that I believed it would bring. The striving ultimately led to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual exhaustion. Many businessmen face the same struggles and will relate to my experiences. After coming to know Jesus, I continued in business but with a different perspective. The more I let Jesus take the wheel the less striving became a part of my life. The book is written from a businessman's perspective and reveals how, as a Christian I deal with the many obstacles that are part of the business world.

So many of us are "control freaks." Does this mean we aren't letting Jesus take charge of our lives?

The short answer is yes. The bible tells us that we must decrease and that Jesus must increase. Jesus must be Lord of our lives and in total control in order for us to truly live as His disciple. Jesus Take The Wheel was written by someone who struggles with wanting to take control of his life but realizes that Jesus must be in full control. So even so called "control freaks" can live a life letting Jesus take the wheel. It takes a commitment to run the race for God but it is well worth it!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The winner of REFORMING THE POTTER'S CLAY is BeckyC! Congratulations!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Donald James Parker Interview

Our special guest for today is Donald James Parker, whom you may remember from the interview/blog contest for his novel, All the Voices of the Wind. This week, we’re giving away a copy of Don’s newest book, Reforming the Potter’s Clay. Thanks for joining us, Don!

DJP: Thanks for having me.

HC: What gave you the idea to write Reforming the Potter’s Clay?

DJP: It goes back to why I got back into writing in the first place. I had a dream experience where I felt I was being told to write a book about evolution. In the morning when I fully woke, I asked the Lord, "did you ask me to write a book about evolution?" For perhaps only the second time in my life that small still voice spoke to me as clear as an actual voice with the words "And when you're done with that, I want you to go after Harry Potter and the sexual revolution." Potter's Clay is my attempt to be obedient. As far as the content, I wanted to out Potter JK Rowling. I patterned the story after the Potter books with kids being the heroes and getting into adventures, playing sports, etcetera. I do invoke a lot of humor in my work, not something that seemed to be evident when I read the first three books of the Potter series as research for my book.

HC: I can tell from your writing that you care strongly about the subject matter. It comes across in your characters, as well. What do you most want to get across to your readers?

DJP: The goal in this work is to make people see that the Harry Potter books may seem innocent on the outside, but the attraction to witchcraft is a doorway into the occult. Some people want to argue that point. For some reason a vast number of Christians choose to embrace Potter. After I finished the book, I felt strongly that I needed to add one more sentence to the ending – one directed expressly at Christians. I'm not really giving away the ending, so here is the dialogue: "I simply ask them, if Harry Potter isn't evil, what harm will it cause them to avoid him, anyway. And if Potter is demonic, what harm is it going to do to their Father in Heaven and his kingdom on earth if they embrace Harry?" The way I look at it, life is a journey on a treacherous road. If we keep in the middle of the road, our chances of going off a cliff are diminished. So I preach avoiding even the appearance of evil. Of course, I didn't feel that strongly about Potter until my experience that fateful morning that diverted my life. A lot of church leaders have spoken out about Potter and many non-fiction books have been written on the subject. Some novelists tried to diminish Potter power by writing their own magical stories with Christianity involved. I felt the need to fight Potter with miracles and not magick.

HC: I think this story would make a great film, if you could get around copyright difficulties in mentioning the books that formed the idea for the story. Would you be open to having it made into a film, should the opportunity arise?

DJP: I don't believe there is a copyright issue with mentioning books. Copyrights protect the inside of the book, not discussion concerning the contents. I definitely am interested in getting into the film industry. I've reached a point where I don't think my future lies in the world of books. I am not a very good writer of description. My strength is dialogue, and frankly, that is all I want to write. In the near future, I plan on writing a movie script. I have blue prints for several stories, but it's becoming clear to me that video is much more influential over people than the written word. My goal is not to entertain people, but to change their lives, so the movie route looks like the ticket. Obviously, I can't self publish a movie so there is no guarantee that my work will ever be offered to the public.

HC: Some of us who are with you on the American Christian Fiction Writers book club yahoo boards know that you’ve started a publishing house, Sword of the Spirit Publishing. Please tell us the story behind that, what gave you the idea, how you did it, and whether you’d recommend starting a publishing company to others.

DJP: When I discovered Lulu Publishing, the wheels started turning in my head. At the time I didn't want to abandon the goal of landing a contract with a traditional publisher. However, after a trip to the Mount Hermon conference, it became painfully clear to me that my goals were not consistent with the agents and publishers that I encountered. I could see that even if I found someone who wanted to publish my books, it was very likely they would ask me to tone down my John the Baptist approach. I'm not going to do that, just to be more popular and make more money. How I did it was pretty simple. Anybody can start their own publishing company. With Lulu when you buy their distribution package, you can choose to do so as the owner of the ISBN number, making you the publisher and not Lulu. All of their infrastructure is available at your fingertips for creating the book and distribution it across the internet. Prospering such an organization is a whole different story. This is a very competitive industry, and the chances of SOS flourishing are probably similar to a snowman standing next to the fireplace. If success occurs, it definitely will be a God thing. I wouldn't recommend to anyone to get into the writing game in any capacity, unless God has called you to that ministry.

HC: I noticed at the website, you aren’t yet accepting manuscripts from other writers. Do you have any idea at this time when you will open the door to submissions?

DJP: I have to get all of my current books on the market first. That is just about accomplished as I have five done and two to go. However, let me warn your readers that my goal as a publisher won't fit most writers. I'm not looking for the next great mystery or love story. Other publishers can handle those manuscripts. I'm looking for controversial things which apply the word of God. Jesus said that in the latter days men would not be able to endure sound doctrine. I aim to keep man's feet to the fire to hold fast to the rock and not be led astray by deceptive voices. So my hope is to be seriously looking at other people's work before Christmas.

HC: Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today! We pray that Sword of the Spirit Publishing will be a true success, and that the Lord continues to bless your writing!

To be entered in the drawing to win a copy of Reforming the Potter’s Clay, just leave a comment here or at the other blog, or send an e-mail mentioning this interview to hope _ chastain [at] yahoo [dot] com. (Replace the [attributes] and close up the spaces.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

One Day Till the Fourth of July

I'm thinking about freedom today. Freedom means so many different things to people. To some, it just means setting off some fireworks on the Fourth of July. To others, it means being able to do anything they want, any time they want, any way they want. Is that really freedom, though, or is it selfishness in disguise?

Let me tell you what I think freedom isn't:
  • it isn't a license to do whatever you want regardless of the consequences or who gets hurt
  • it isn't just a slogan
  • it isn't just for Americans, although it certainly is for us
  • it isn't to be treated lightly

Freedom is:

  • a priceless treasure that costs a great deal, in time as well as in the lives of the men and women who fight to protect it
  • a chance to do the right thing because you want to, not because you have to
  • a chance to become whatever you have the desire to become
  • not a right, but a privilege

The ultimate freedom is spiritual freedom, and the chance to live forever. That freedom was purchased on a hill just outside the gates of Jerusalem a couple of thousand years ago. Unlike the freedom of the United States, a person isn't just born into that freedom. You have to choose whether to accept that freedom. It won't cost you anything, but it cost Jesus everything. If you'll let Him, He'll give you a freedom that surpasses anything you've ever known. Just put your trust in Him. Be free this Fourth of July!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ticked Off

I just saw a segment about summer bugs, i.e., ticks. In a departure from my usual blog fare, here's a cautionary word about ticks. If you live where there are ticks, or if you have pets, be sure to check every day to make sure you don't come down with some of the scary diseases that can happen after a tick has been attached to you for over twenty-four hours!

So, get those ticks off with tweezers, if you find any, and be on the look-out for red spots that spread. If you have those, get to the doctor for some antibiotics as soon as you can! (Tweezer tip: grab the body of the tick and pull slowly until it comes out. If you pull too fast, you can leave the head inside you.)

Another tip for getting rid of ticks came to me through the internet: liquid soap. I actually had occasion to use this tip last year, and it works. Take liquid soap, put onto a tissue or some cotton, and start rubbing the tick. If it hasn't gone too far in yet, it will come out. This is handy if you can't reach the spot with tweezers (e.g., the middle of your back). I discovered a tick right before our church band gave a concert at another church in the state next door, and the liquid soap trick rescued me!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Suggestion for Summer (and Winter!)

If you're like me, and I know a lot of you are, you're finding Daylight Saving Time getting longer and longer, and Standard Time getting shorter and shorter. Since I'm not one to like wasting resources, it occurred to me that we need a new time to switch over the batteries in our smoke alarms. After all, switching after eight months and then four months just doesn't make sense, especially in today's economy.

Here's my suggestion: Choose either the Equinoxes or the Solstices to change the batteries. They come six months apart, giving the batteries a chance to be useful and not wasting them. Just be sure to choose one or the other, so that you aren't changing batteries every season.

I'm choosing the solstices, since summer solstice is today in the northern hemisphere, and winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

It's just a suggestion, but it could be a life-saver. Pass it on!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do You Blog Every Day?

It has come to my attention (through reading books on the subject, etc.) that the blogs with the largest readership are the blogs with continuous new content. I've added sidebars with changing info on this and my other web pages (including the ones I manage), but still, the idea of having to write something every day just seems wrong.

It takes blogging out of the realm of the fun and jams it firmly into the domain of work. It turns it into a daily column. Not a work of art, but a work of necessity. And this (most often) without pay, a volunteer position.

How many of us have something interesting to say every single day? And, if we do, how many of us have the chutzpah to post it online, where anybody in the world can read it? If I stopped to think about how many page hits I get, would it make me blog more or less? And does it really matter?

Today's blog is only interesting if you're a blogger, I think. Tomorrow's blog: well, that should be something completely different!

Monday, June 16, 2008

And the winner is~~~

Cheryl, who posted at another blog.

Remember to check the blog post again for more links to Misty's life coaching information, and thank you for entering!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Interview with Misty Taggart ~~~ WIN a Life Coaching Package!

Here's a great opportunity for you to win a $75-value Life Coaching package from Hollywood Screenwriter Misty Taggart. Just put a comment here on the blog or e-mail me at hope _ chastain @ yahoo . com (no spaces) by June 14th, and I'll forward your name on to Misty for the drawing!
Misty Taggart

Hollywood Screenwriter Takes On Real Life

"I thought my life was over."

Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret

by Misty Taggart

I was living my dream. To be a Hollywood writer was everything I had wanted since I was a very young child. There was never a time in my life when I didn't know absolutely what I wanted to do. And there I was, a member of the WGA, a working Hollywood screenwriter. It was glorious. My life was so exciting! Each day was an adventure full of running to studios, pitching stories, writing and rewriting. Location shoots and lunching with Hollywood insiders.

I was so very fortunate to meet William Hanna of Hanna/Barbera fame. He told me he liked my "drive" ... my passion. It reminded him of his own. Bill quickly became my mentor and very good friend. He believed in me and my talent so much that it was this famous and very generous man who made it possible for me to be one of the first women to ever write for animation. Until then, it had been a closed boys club ... and yet, there I was writing dog dialogue for Scooby Doo in my own office at Hanna/Barbera Productions! How incredible it was to be sitting in the many recording sessions with all the big name voice-over talent.

I was so proud as I watched my talented husband, Joe, appearing on Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and Three's Company. Our friends were all in the business. We were surrounded by lights, cameras and action, all the things I had dreamed of and worked so hard to attain. It was an exciting time in my life. The strange thing was, I thought it would go on forever.

But under all the glamour and the fun, if you are in this industry very long you will find Hollywood's dirty little secret. What is that? Well ... Hollywood will not allow you to grow older! They simply won't allow it! They don't say it ... but it is made very clear. Opportunities to pitch stories stop coming your way. Meetings are difficult, if not impossible to get. It is heartbreaking and irreversible. You are on your way out! It is as though the "Hollywood Powers-That-Be" believe a human brain stops working, in any cognitive fashion, when you near the BIG 50! (A testimony to that thinking can be had by simply watching current TV.) I laugh when I think that just perhaps their skewed thinking has come back to bite them in the behind!

When it was clear that my life as a Hollywood Screenwriter was over, I was truly devastated. I felt my whole life finished. Depression and fears set in--stealing any joy I had left. Hollywood had done a good job on me. I bought all of the lies. And those lies almost killed me.

I was convinced my dream had been stolen. I was too old to ever have other dreams or to truly enjoy my life ever again. Going on living that way, wasn't an option.

But I was so very wrong! God simply had new dreams for me in this season of my life. But I didn't come to this discovery easily. It's taken time and the willingness to work with my own Life Coach. No, she didn't do it for me, but she listened to me ... gave me new ways to look at my life. Things I hadn't thought about in my devastated, crisis state. She asked the hard questions and I found answers. It was an amazing process.

Could it be that I was getting excited about life again? Together, my coach and I made a PLAN OF ACTION that fit me perfectly. I began slowly but surely to move toward a new dream.

My life coach shared her knowledge, giving me many incredible and solid life tools to deal head on with my depression and feelings of worthlessness. My faith became stronger and I was empowered to see the possibilities God was offering to me. And, with her encouragement, I had the desire to reach out and grab them! Wasn't this what Bill Hanna had loved about me? My drive! My enthusiasm? I realized I was the only one who had given up on me. God had done His part, as always .. now it took action on my part.

Would I give up on the rest of my life, brokenhearted over the past? Or would I find new vistas to conquer? I had a choice to make and I chose LIFE! I chose TODAY and all of my tomorrows. I looked at my life and all of the many trials and victories. I longed to share that with other women. To let them know they could achieve their dreams. It all became so clear! I began the study necessary for me to become a Certified Christian Life Coach. With my faithful readers, like you, at Ordinary Woman/Extraordinary God, who had been with me for so long, I began my practice.

Now, I want YOU all to experience the POSSIBILITIES for your lives! Don't give up! The definition of life is CHANGE. Helping other women walk through transitions using what I had been through myself became my passion ... My life is once again filled with excitement and I get up each day with true joy. I look forward to the day.

God had not taken dreams away, but given me new ones.This is why I'm so passionate about Life Coaching. I've been where you are! Let's do this together.
Don't you want a Life Coach who has been in those stuck and dark places ... a coach who knows how it feels to be frozen in place by fear and hopelessness? Give it a 4-week try! You will be amazed at what you will accomplish.
See: For more about Misty's Life Coaching, go to:


Misty is making this new 1-month Life Coaching experience available to you for free, if you are the grand prize winner of this blog tour drawing. Did I say free? I meant to say FREE! $75 value. Great opportunity. Don't miss out! Leave your comment here to be entered in this great contest.

And for those of you who don't win, here's another freebie for you:
INTRODUCTING MONDAYS WITH MISTY!Start your week off with inspiration & a coaching tip of the week!

Listen as Misty gives 2 - Live 10-min Laser Coaching Sessions. Each Monday! 10am (Pacific) - 11am (MNT) - Noon (Central) - 1pm (Eastern) To join us on this Free call or to receive a Free Laser Session with Misty on the call CLICK HERE to SEND an Email!
You will receive a return email with the Dial-In number and Access Code! MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

100,000 Book Challenge for Literacy!

Love books? Love a challenge? Love a good cause? Have I got a cause for you! Harlequin Enterprises is teaming with The National Center for Family Literacy to donate up to 100,000 books!

The rules are easy. Just sign up for a community ID (it's free!) at and start blogging about the books you read. For those of you who'd rather listen to a book than strain your eyes (or for those who need it), even e-books and books on tape/CD/DVD count. Every book you blog about will count toward the community total. Our aim is 100,000 books this year, since we completely blew away our goal of 10,000 books last year! Every book blogged will equal one book that Harlequin Enterprises will donate to NCFL!

When you blog about a book, don't think of it like one of those old book reports from school. You don't have to do a blow-by-blow description of the plot. Just say a few things you liked about it, mention the names of the main characters, and why you recommend (or don't recommend!) the book. The idea is to make people want to read the book, so please don't give away the ending!

One more thing: since this is promoted by Harlequin Enterprises, they ask that at least 50% of the books you read and blog be one of their lines. However, they have plenty of lines from which to choose, including Worldwide Mysteries, for those of you who wouldn't be caught dead reading a romance!

So, please, come join us, and help stamp out illiteracy! Remember, this is a free challenge. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

They Believe in Me!!!

I didn't know for certain whether I would qualify for the Romance Writers of America's PRO program, but friends encouraged me to try. Since I had been asked for a synopsis and five chapters, apparently it counted, because this came in the mail this week! I'm so excited! This is one of the nicest things that has happened to me as a writer lately!

Sometimes it can be hard to persevere in the face of rejections, power outages, computer programs that eat our words and misfile our files, people who don't understand us, time constraints, distractions, other things that "have to be done right this minute!", etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum... It's all too easy to get discouraged, to forget why we do this in the first place. When that happens, we have to remind ourselves: we are WRITERS. Writers write. No matter how hard it gets, somehow, there will always be a story out there waiting for us to tell it.

When you feel as though you've written the last paragraph you can possibly ever write, stop and rest a while. Then start again. You are Writer. Write.

I know I will. Thank you, RWA, for your confidence in me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stormy Weather

If you're a writer who depends on electricity and especially on a computer of some sort, what do you do when the weather gets impossible, as it has been lately in the midsection of the US? Do you

  • Risk life, limb and hard drive by typing during thunderstorms?
  • Write in longhand?
  • Use an old-fashioned manual typewriter (which, incidentally, is usually made of metal and could also conceivably draw lightning)?
  • Decide that since it's storming, you should do something else, like curl up with a good book?

I've been facing that a lot lately. Spring has arrived, and with it, masses of unsettled weather. So far, I've still managed to work on a manuscript, but only when it isn't storming. When it is, I've

  • Taken notes in longhand on a future novel
  • Sorted laundry
  • Gone through a lot of my To Be Read pile
  • Cleaned out drawers and sorted clothes

I could go on, but I hear thunder....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

As Romance writers, we often think of love in romantic terms first. Then we might think of parental love, or the love for a pet, or our friends. Every now and again, though, like today, it's good to remember that love has a Source.
Love doesn't exist in a vacuum. Love can't exist in a vacuum. It has to have a reason to exist.
Love is always plural, even when it isn't reciprocated.
Love is risky. Loving someone doesn't always mean they will love you back.
God knew that. Despite everything, and knowing all the risks, He sent His Son to try to love us to Him. Love gave everything, so that we might find Him.

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sin, and not for ours only, but for the sin of the whole world."

This Resurrection Sunday, may you find the Love who gave all on Good Friday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tense Agreement

No, I'm not talking about international peace accords, I'm talking sentences. Prose. Fiction or nonfiction.
I don't know about you, but when I'm reading a story and the author changes tenses in the middle of a sentence, I find it confusing. Does he or she mean the action is happening in the present tense, the past tense, or the future tense? Here are some examples I made up to illustrate what I mean.

  • Jason thought if he went sailing in the Argo, he may find the Golden Fleece. Okay, is Jason thinking about something he has done, something he's doing now, or something he wants to do in the future? This sentence is inherently confusing, because the first clause is in the past tense, and the second clause is in the present. To avoid ambiguity and confusion, either change the sentence to Jason thinks if he goes sailing in the Argo, he may find the Golden Fleece or Jason thought if he went sailing in the Argo, he might find the Golden Fleece.

  • Miss Eliza Bennett danced with Mr. Darcy, and later bid him goodnight.
    What's wrong with this sentence? Well, bid is present tense. The past tense is the rapidly disappearing bade (pronounced bad). The sentence should read: Miss Eliza Bennett danced with Mr. Darcy, and later bade him goodnight.

  • If I would have known that in advance, I may not have made that mistake. This sentence has two glaring errors: the may in the second clause, and the If I would have known in the first clause. This is an error I see and hear more all the time. The use of the conditional conjunction If precludes the necessity of writing would have. It should say If I had known that in advance, I might not have made that mistake.

Check in your own writing and see how many sentences you find that don't agree with themselves. It's an easy thing to fix, and your readers will thank you!

Friday, March 14, 2008

And Now: Back to Topic. Comparatives

Comparatives in English have taken a beating over the last few decades. You probably remember comparatives from school: big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest. Nowadays, however, even in print, it seems as though anything goes.
We've seen in print lately:

  • ...more angry...

  • ...littler...

  • ...less small...

In honor of all our beloved English teachers, who have had a lot to bear from the entropy of English in the last few decades, here's a list of some common comparatives.

  • good, better, best (not "more good" or "gooder"; exception: "Put that money where it will do the most good." This isn't really a comparison at all, but could be confused for one.)

  • angry, angrier, angriest

  • little, smaller, smallest (or tinier, tiniest; never "littler, littlest;" exception: when the person speaking in dialogue is either uneducated or a child; and you won't want to use it in prose or narrative.

  • tired, tireder, tiredest

  • fast, faster, fastest

  • slow, slower, slowest

  • nitpicking, more nitpicking, most nitpicking (yep, applies to me and grammar, and, see, there are times when "more" and "most" are used with an adjective! More examples include "monumental," "phenomenal," "fabulous," etc.)

  • able, abler, ablest (yes, really; the antonyms are "less able" and "least able")

If you have any questions about a particular comparative not listed here, please feel free to inquire!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A few hours left to bid

The R2D2 glue stick and some of the lace will sell, but you still have a few hours left to bid! Check the links below!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rewriting the Synopsis

Did you ever hear the one about "the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley?" (Robert Burns, and you'll notice the famous title lifted from the line of his poem.)
Version Two of the synopsis was better received by my critique partner than Version One, but she still had plenty of suggestions to make it, and the novel, better. So, it's off to rewrite land to start over.
First things first. My cp advised me to start with a character sketch of the heroine, leaving out nothing important. I had left vital information about her until later in the synopsis, which affected the flow of timing and pacing. By putting everything pertinent about her into the first paragraph, I eliminate the need to mention things later, and the reader (editor) will know that the story is character-driven.
After the heroine, describe the Hero. (Unless you're writing something other than romance...male oriented action/adventure may not even have a heroine.) Everything that makes him who he is should be put on paper right at the beginning.
Then get into the story. Make sure the pacing is right. I had the Hero & Heroine admitting they loved each other on page three of the synopsis, which looks like it's halfway through the book, even though it doesn't happen until the last chapter! My cp's advice was to make it clear that it happens near the end, so that the editor won't think things are going too smoothly for the protagonists.
In addition, my cp had some wonderful suggestions for the story itself. We brainstormed a bit, and now I need to do some rewriting on the novel as well. All in all, it shouldn't take too long to fix, and it will improve the book. That, hopefully, will also improve its chances of selling!
In conclusion: if you're working on a synopsis, make sure you get all the important character information in first, and then leap into the storyline. Make sure you really care about your characters. If you don't care about them, no one else will!
Happy writing!

R2D2 and some black tatted lace...

No, there's really no connection between the two, except that I have two pieces of lace and a really cute R2D2 glue stick up for sale on eBay. There are only two days left on the auction, and the starting prices are super low (I used to list the lace starting at around $8, but the smaller piece has an opening price of just $1.99; plus, if you order both pieces, the shipping for the second is only 50 cents extra.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hitting Your Target Market: Taking Aim

Do you have a target market for your novel? If so, you're ahead of the game. If you're scratching your head and saying, "What's a target market?", read on.

Writing a novel isn't easy, as you may know from experience. However, selling that novel once it's written can be even harder. Getting a book published can be compared to archery. If you just shoot a lot of arrows into the air without aiming at anything, you may hit something, but will it be what you really want to hit?

Just like archery, if you have a target, something at which to aim, you'll come closer to hitting it and getting where you want to be, i.e., published. Market research isn't always easy, though. Where do you begin? How do you find out who is publishing what?

A good start is Writer's Market. They have a new edition every year, and have even started issuing specialty editions dedicated to Novel & Short Story Writing, Children's Writing and Illustrating, and Poetry, among others. In addition, you can join their online website. For as little as $3.99 a month, you will have access to all the latest marketing information, including changes of personnel at publishing houses.

Another good place, if you're looking for a cheaper alternative, is to check into the individual sites of publishing houses. Many of them have guidelines for writers that will tell you how to submit (or whether you can submit without an agent). Browsing their catalogs and reading what they publish is the best way to get a feel for what each house handles. You wouldn't submit a tender inspirational romance to a publisher called Hot & Heavy, Inc., or a western to Future Worlds, Ltd. (Not unless you enjoy wasting postage, time and energy, that is!)

Once you've found your target market, the place where you aim to get published, start reading. If you (like many of us!) can't afford to buy everything they have out, go get a library card (if, by some unlikely chance you don't already have one). If the publisher has more than one line, especially in genre fiction, read at least one book in each line, preferably more. Find the line that reaches out and touches your heart. That should be your target line. Read the dedications by the authors, and the "thank you" pages. If they mention their editor by name, take note. You are seeing what an editor likes by what is published.

If a particular publishing house says they accept only agented works, don't waste their time and yours by sending them anything. You'll only be branding yourself as a novice who hasn't done your homework.

In conclusion, finding your target market may be hard, but it is definitely worthwhile. If your manuscript doesn't quite fit, you may want to consider putting it aside for a while (I know, I can hear you screaming how long it took you to write it---been there) and writing something that is perfect for the line. Once you are published, dig out that manuscript, reread it, polish it, even rewrite it if necessary and ask your editor (who by now should be your friend) to have a look at it. If you're willing to do the work, getting published should become inevitable!

Happy hunting!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Writing a Synopsis

This morning the Lord gave me the ideas I needed for the synopsis for my novel, Desert Dreamer. I had already written a synopsis for it earlier, when I was using it for Harlequin's American Romance Editor Pitch Challenge. The earlier synopsis was all right, but Margaret Daley, who was kind enough to read it for me, didn't think the "black moment" was black enough. She also thought it depended too much on a third party (the Hero's daughter), rather than the actions and emotions of the Hero and Heroine. She was right!
So, I started over from the beginning. Margaret has an excellent article on synopis writing on her website.
This time, instead of bringing in too many references to peripheral characters, I concentrated on the Heroine and the Hero (in that order), their hopes and dreams, and the conflicts that arise from their differing goals.
Conflict is the meat of any novel. Without it, you just have a "feel good" essay, not a story. The conflict in my story came about because the Hero and Heroine want different things.
I haven't sent my synopsis off to my critique partner yet, but I look forward to hearing her opinion of this one compared to the previous one.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More on Lay and Lie

One reason there is so much confusion between the verbs to lay and to lie is that their past tenses sound alike. Here's a quick and easy rundown and reference for you to use whenever you need it. Feel free to copy and paste, but if you use it online or in an article or book, please give me credit. Thank you!

Present Indicative Tense
  • I lay
  • you lay (thou layest, if you're writing Shakespearean or Biblical English)
  • he lays, she lays, it lays (he, she or it layeth)
  • we lay
  • you lay
  • they lay

Past Tense

  • I laid
  • you laid (thou laidest)
  • he laid, she laid, it laid (he, she or it laideth)
  • we laid
  • you laid
  • they laid

Past Perfect Tense

  • I have laid
  • you have laid (thou hast laid)
  • he has laid, she has laid, it has laid (he, she or it hath laid)
  • we have laid
  • you have laid
  • they have laid

Past Imperfect Tense

  • I had laid
  • you had laid (thou hadest laid--or maybe it's haddest)
  • he had laid, she had laid, it had laid, (he, she or it hadeth laid)
  • we had laid
  • you had laid
  • they had laid


Present Indicative Tense

  • I lie
  • you lie (thou liest)
  • he lies, she lies, it lies (he, she or it lieth)
  • we lie
  • you lie
  • they lie

Past Tense

  • I lay (See, this is where the confusion comes in!)
  • you lay (thou layest)
  • he lay, she lay, he lay (he, she or it, layeth)
  • we lay
  • you lay
  • they lay

Past Imperfect

  • I had lain
  • you had lain (thou hadest lain)
  • he had lain, she had lain, it had lain (he, she or it hadeth lain)
  • we had lain
  • you had lain
  • they had lain

Past Perfect

  • I have lain
  • you have lain (thou hast lain)
  • he has lain, she has lain, it has lain (he, she or it hath lain)
  • we have lain
  • you have lain
  • they have lain

Notice that these past tenses for to lie do not apply to prevarication, where the variation is on lied.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hope's Incredibly Nitpicky Editing Techniques for Word, Part One

Sometimes as we're busy getting the words down in a manuscript, little errors can creep in that we don't notice. Most of the time, Word or whatever processor/program we're using will pick up on it, but sometimes, like at the end of sentences, it will sneak past the built-in grammer checker, too.

The problem: spaces

E.g. This is the first sentence. Between this and the first sentence, there are supposed to be two spaces. However, there are three. Visually, you can hardly tell there's an extra space there, but it's there.
E.g. This is the second sentence. Between "the" and "second" there are two spaces, when there should only be one.

These are minor, but attention to detail can put you ahead of the game with editors, who have to look at enough bad grammar and punctuation without having to deal with a manuscript that doesn't look quite right.

The fix: "Find"

The "find" feature (in Word you press alt-E, F) will allow you to find those extra spaces. Enter two spaces in the "find" box and then click on "find next." It will put a small black rectangle between every sentence. If the rectangle moves on to the next sentence, you have exactly two spaces after the period, question mark, or exclamation point. If, however, the rectangle just moves slightly and stays between those two sentences, you have an extra space. You can eliminate that with either backspace or delete.

The same holds true for extra spaces between words. Most times, the internal grammar checker will underline those in green (in Word), alerting you to the problem, but sometimes it doesn't. This will show you where those mistakes are while you're busy checking to make sure you don't have extra spaces at the end of your sentence.

Another good reason for looking for extra spaces: sometimes you can fit more onto a page and avoid "widows and orphans," as Word calls those pages with a single word or sentence at the top and the rest of the page blank. Think of it as one more way you can line edit more easily. Happy editing!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Regular and Irregular Past Tense

Verb past tenses are often confused, sometimes thanks in part to their misuse in the media. Does everyone remember the comedy, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"? How many of you cringed and shouted, "NO! It should be 'Honey, I SHRANK the Kids!'?"

Shrink is actually a regular verb. From present, through past, and past perfect, it is
  • shrink
  • shrank
  • shrunk

Conjugated in the same way, we find

  • sink
  • sank
  • sunk

  • drink
  • drank
  • drunk

  • clink
  • clank
  • clunk

  • stink
  • stank
  • stunk

However, a few other -ink verbs are not regular. That is, it isn't

  • think
  • thank
  • thunk

although it makes perfect sense, and sometimes one encounters "thunk" in dialect or comic writing. The proper conjugation is

  • think
  • thought
  • thought

Similarly, we find

  • blink
  • blinked
  • blinked

  • wink
  • winked
  • winked


  • link
  • linked
  • linked

Unless you have delved into verb conjugation while studying another language, you probably don't give verb tenses as much thought as you should. It's easy to get lazy and write in the vernacular. While this is proper in conversation for conveying character (although, in the above film/TV case, a supposedly well-educated scientist should know how to conjugate a verb!), in our descriptions and action beats, we should never let our verbs get the best of us!

Do you have a verb usage question? Feel free to ask in the comment box, or just leave a comment if this series is helpful to you! Thanks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pronoun usage

Today, the sticky problem of pronouns. We all know what they are, and we may think we have a good handle on using them. However, as all too many writers know, sometimes we end up with clinkers like “Joan gave the candy to Bill and I.” I’m writing this entry in Word to cut & paste later, and this time, it actually caught the mistake. You can’t always count on your word processing program to have better grammar than you do.

The problem.

The “I or me” problem usually happens because, as a child, the writer misused “me” in sentences like “Jimmy and me went to the store.” After years of hearing “and I,” the child mistakenly thinks (consciously or subconsciously) that “and me” is never correct. That isn't the case, of course. "And me" is always correct when it is part of the object of the sentence.

Determine which of the following is correct.

  • Joey and me need some answers.
  • Joey and I need some answers.
  • Janet gave Bill and I some coffee.
  • Janet gave Bill and me some coffee.

The fix.

In order to figure out whether to use "and I" or "and me" in sentences, take out the other party, e.g., Joey and Bill. Since you would never say "Me need some answers" or "Janet gave I some coffee," it's easy to see which ones to use. Your correct sentences are below:

  • Joey and I need some answers. (I need some answers.)
  • Janet gave Bill and me some coffee. (Janet gave me some coffee.)

The problem.

Who and whom. I have read some published books where the author was unsure about whether to use who or whom in a sentence, and the editor didn't know, either. While I have no objection to their being misused in conversation (after all, proper usage goes to indicate education levels, and you wouldn't expect someone with a third-grade education to use who and whom properly; unfortunately, in real life, I've heard people with doctorates misuse them!), in prose, it just reflects badly on the author and the editor.

  • Who did you say was calling?
  • Whom did you say was calling?

If the sentences above were:

  • Who was calling?
  • Whom was calling?

you wouldn't have any trouble picking the right answer, because it's obvious. The two earlier sentences are trickier, because, at a glance, they both look right.

The fix.

In order to determine who or whom, just substitute the proper pronoun for the person who is calling. E.g. the answer to the above question, if keeping to the who/whom subject/object format, comes out like this:

  • He was calling (or she was calling).
  • Him (or her) was calling.

That makes the answer easy to see!

In conclusion, just determine whether your pronoun is the subject of the sentence or the object of the verb. The subject will be I, you, (thee), he, she, it, we, you, they. Object pronouns are me, you, (thou), him, her, it, us, you, them. So, It and You remain the same whether they are subjects or objects, while the rest of the pronouns are irregular.

Monday, February 18, 2008

May or Might--find out for sure!

I've had such a good response from the Commonly Confused Words page on my website that I've decided to tackle a few more little grammar bugbears that can make writing difficult to understand.

More people seem to have trouble with conditional verb usage than any other form. May and might are used interchangeably. Lay and lie are likewise confused. There are scores of others, but we'll start with these two samples.

The problem:

May or Might: which one should you use? To find out, try them in sentences.

  • You may have been killed!
  • You might have been killed!

OK, the response to the second is, "But I wasn't killed. I'm okay."

The response to the first could easily be, "Oh, my goodness! Was I killed?"

In determining which one to use, may or might, first determine the time and intent of the sentence. Is it something that, if it happened, makes the question possible? Does it make sense?

The fix:

When in doubt about whether to use may or might in a sentence, substitute can and could. That translates the above sentences to "You can have been killed" and "You could have been killed." Obviously, unless you're talking to a ghost or a vampire, you wouldn't tell someone that they can have been killed.

The problem:

Lay or Lie: If you've been brought up to believe that to lie is only to prevaricate or tell an untruth, then let me introduce you to a better definition.

  • I'm going to lay down.
  • I'm going to lie down.

In the second sentence, I realize you're probably tired and want a nap. In the first sentence, I want to know what you're going to lay down.

The fix:

Again, using synonyms for the words in question can get you out of a sticky situation where the reader may misunderstand you. A synonym for lay down is put. A synonym for lie down is recline.

  • I'm going to put--- [Famous sample, first line of "Down By the Riverside:" "I'm gonna lay down my burden..."]
  • I'm going to recline. [I can almost see the recliner now, can't you?]

The problem:

Set and Sit: often confused because they're similar, short, and sound alike.

  • Set down and rest a spell.
  • Sit down and rest a spell.

(Yes, I know the examples are Southern. I'm in the South now.)

The fix:

Using synonyms will help you out of the jam. Set=put. Sit=be seated.

  • Set down that bag of groceries and rest a spell.
  • Be seated and --- no, I'm sorry, folks just don't often use be seated in conjunction with "rest a spell," but you get the idea.

Check back soon for more commonly confused verbs!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And the Winners are---

And the winners are: (drumroll please!)

Missy T

CONGRATULATIONS! Please e-mail your mailing address to Cheryl at anavim 4 him [at] gmail [dot] com (removing all spaces and replacing [at] with @ and [dot] with . ). Cheryl says you may have your choice of regular or large print, so please be sure to indicate your preference when you write.

Thank you to all of you who participated in this great experiment in blogging! You are what makes blogging fun!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Something Different: a book giveaway, blog interview, book review and guest blog all rolled into one!

Welcome back to my too-long neglected blog! Some of you may know that my mom fell and broke her hand, which took away all my blogging time. However, I'm back, and with a wonderful combination for you all! I'm going to start it off with the book review of A SOLDIER'S PROMISE, Cheryl's first book for Love Inspired. Exciting news: Cheryl is giving away not one, but two copies of A SOLDIER'S PROMISE, one for each of my blogs, so be sure to enter by either e-mailing me (hope_chastain [at] or commenting here on this blog or the other blog!

The last thing U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery wants to do is return to his home town of Refuge, Illinois, a place that holds nothing but bad memories for him. When the wish of a sick child, Bradley, to meet him, or someone like him, comes into his possession, it takes every ounce of courage he has to go with his team.
When Bradley's teacher, the lovely Amber Stanton, meets Joel, she has no idea of the challenges he faces, or how entwined their lives will become, all because of one little boy in need of a bone marrow transplant, a home, and a lot of love.
Can Joel come to terms with the deep traumas that drove him away from Refuge, or will more hearts be broken? You'll just have to read it and find out.
This is an excellent beginning for a first-time novelist who has been putting her heart into her writing for years. The story is heartwarming as well as full of excitement. Highly recommended.

HC: Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for agreeing to do an unusual combo review/interview/guest blog today!

CW: Thanks, Hope, for featuring me! What an honor to be on your blog today.

HC: Congratulations on being published! I know you struggled a longtime and have been pursuing this wholeheartedly, especially Steeple Hill. What made you choose the Steeple Hill line of inspirationalromances, rather than another publisher?

CW:Thank you for the congrats. I targeted Steeple Hill for many reasons. One being, I love their books and have read them nearly since close to the inception of Steeple Hill. Secondly, in hanging out on the warm, funny community at the Steeple Hill message boards, I saw the heart of the authors there and so longed to be among them. They were so helpful and encouraging at every stage in the journey. I also feel my stories would fit the Steeple Hill readership. I love to read and write romance, and love category romance in particular. Then upon meeting the editors and talking with them, it seemed like a good fit. I loved their vision for their house and how they talked about their authors in such an uplifting manner. Also, Harlequin markets their authors well in my opinion, which makes it easier to build a readership with their house.

HC: What does it feel like to get "The Call?"

CW:Honestly, the feeling is out of this world. It's the kind of super-charged giddy feeling and so surreal that words can't even touch it. There is such relief and excitement. You understand the true meaning of stunned for sure. LOL! It's almost like you can't believe it and hope, really, really hope they haven't called you by mistake. LOL!

HC: Did your editor give you a list of revisions, and if so, how manyand what did it feel like?

CW:My post sale revisions were about two and a half pages of things. A couple paragraphs of general type stuff, then a couple pages of specific stuff where they mention the page and line numbers. There are basically scenes that need stuff taken out and scenes that need to be built up or maybe even added. There are usually character issues to deal with as well as how I always seem to have Scooby Doo endings. I'm trying to get better about that though. LOL!

HC: What is your working style when you're writing?

CW:Depends on what I'm writing. Research and character charts are relaxed. So is layering. BUT, when I go to do the mess draft, it is INTENSE and I can't stand to be interrupted because it really throws me off. LOL! And synopsis writing makes me very grumpy....but I push through it.

HC: What does your faith mean to you, and how does it affect yourlife, including your writing?

CW:Faith is vitally important to me. God means everything to me, and faith is attached to Him....anything attached to Him is of utmost importance. I consider my writing a gift from Him and one that I can also give back to Him so it's all interconnected. I'm thankful for the ability to make people laugh and cry. LOL! I get great enjoyment out of that. Welll, making them cry in a happy, poignant sense.

HC: Thank you so much for answering all my nosy questions! And now, I turn the blog over to you, on the subject of perseverance in writingand seeking publication.

CW: Thank you Hope! It's been fun!

Thoughts on Perseverance.

One thing I heard consistently while pursuing publication was the "P" word. For those of us who want instant gratification for our efforts, it's not a word or even a concept we like to hear or embrace. I know plenty of authors who've been published a couple of years after starting to write fiction. But I also know some absolutely phenomenal writers, many of them here who have been pursuing publication for a decade or more. I heard someone in the industry (a publishing professional) say once that it takes 5-8 years on average to be published.

Problem was, I heard this when I'd only been trying for a couple of years. Very disheartening yet it also made me realize a person has to be in this for the long haul. And they have to be serious about pursuing publication. It takes work and lots of it and sometimes it takes way longer than we anticipated. The good thing is, that I think most people who stick with it and don't give up, will eventually be published. And certainly if it is something God has created them to do.

The hope in the waiting is that we have a God who fashions us with hopes and dreams. No, not all of them will come to pass, but I think He is more concerned with the process than the achievement. How we respond in the waiting. Does our integrity hold up? Do we have to battle jealousy when that writer gets a contract who has only been writing for a couple of years, and we've been trying for eight? The road to publication isn't easy for anyone that I'm aware of. It takes git-er-done grit and dependence on God to not let us lose sight of our dreams.

For me, I had to know that God was calling me to this, or I don't think I'd have chosen to persevere. It took way more of my time, way more of my heart, way more money for conferences, etc than I ever dreamed it would. But now those time and money investments have begun to pay off. Not so much that I've FINALLY sold a book, but the reassurance and affirmation from my heavenly father that I've been faithful during the process. There are so many perseverance scriptures in the Bible that are encouraging to study. Persevere in prayer and practice abiding in His presence is the best advice I can offer. When we spend time with Him, He gives us everything we need. He directs us to resources that will enable us to learn all we can about the craft as we keep God first and don't neglect things that are more important than the end product of our perseverance..which for most writers is publication.

I think each writer needs to seek God about their journey. I'm not speaking out against self-publication, or downing those who go that route. But I can't help wonder how many writers sell themselves short by taking that route instead of persevering the traditional route a little bit longer. No matter the route God intends, it is so important for us to take time to listen to God about what He wants from us. What is our part. And then be willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. The only reason people miss out on their "promise land" is if they give up and quit before they reach it. Hang in there. Praying for every person reading this, that God would grace you with the determination and the grit and the perseverance to make it.