Monday, December 28, 2009

Writer of the Week

This week, I've been catching up on Melanie Jeschke's writing. Years ago, I'd read the first two of her Oxford Chronicles. I finally got to read the third, and I'm hoping to read her new book, Jillian Dare, before heading back to Ohio. My parents, who before moving to Albuquerque attended the church Melanie's husband pastors, have all of her books, so I'll read them while I'm here. I tend to like novels set in Great Britian.

Melanie's website is here, but doesn't seem to be entirely up to date.


I am enjoying my visit to Albuquerque. Obviously, it's wonderful to spend time with my parents and sisters, but I love the southwest. Yesterday, we drove up the back side of Sandia (a way to the top without taking the tram) and walked along the crest before watching the sunset from the peak.

Cold as could be, but so beautiful.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Budget

Anyone who has read much Amish fiction is familiar with The Budget. In the local edition, it covers the news in Holmes county, Ohio area. It's claim to fame for the local edition: "a newspaper in which the good news reported in its pages routinely outweighs the bad."

The national edition is more widely known. It publishes 'letters' or articles by Amish and Mennonite writers throughout the United States and the world.

Here's the link to the paper's website. Only information from the local edition is online, but I found it intersting. I'm also considering subscribing to the National edition.

Writer of the Week

The day before a 3:45 a.m. trip to the airport, I realized I had nothing to read on the plane. After my initial panic, I hurried to the library and grabbed the first 3 or 4 books that looked interesting.. all of them by unfamiliar authors.

One of the books that caught my eye was Leaving Carolina, by Tamara Leigh. I don't usually enjoy books written in the first person, and rarely get beyond the first page of one, but she pulled it off well. I enjoyed the book thoroughly; she brought some delightful characters to life. I'm looking forward to the sequel which will be available in May.

Here's the author's website. It lists some other series which I'll be looking for, also.

Guide to Literary Agents Blog

It's a great blog -- full of good information. One of the recurring columns is '7 Things I've Learned So Far,' and as I was reading through the blog a few weeks ago, a number of things were coming to mind that I've learned, so I submitted a post.

I don't feel like retyping it, and I can't easily access it otherwise as I am visiting my parents in Albuquerque, so here's a link to it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Agree or Disagree?

Is there truly only one basic storyline in the world?

I have to put some more thought into this, but I've been tossing around an idea lately, and I'd be interested in feedback.

Without actually analyzing every story I've read and enjoyed, a quick survey gave me the sense that they all have one basic plotline, as follows:

Start with a character who is in some way a sympathetic or generally positive figure (protagonist.) The protagonist has some sort of a problem, which is not (or not primarily) his own fault. Dangle a possible solution just out of reach. Throw roadblocks and obtacles in the way. Repeat the last two several times, ending with huge roadblocks that make it seem almost impossible, and then solve the problem in a better way than was originally envisioned.

I suppose that I'm referring to all stories when I say there's only one plot... just the good ones!

Friday, December 18, 2009


An odd name, but I like the website. It allows you to share things you have written, as well as, of course, to read things others have shared.

I uploaded two short stories and one article on marriage late last week; to be honest, I didn't really expect anyone to read it. After all, if there's a way of publicizing one's presence on the site, I haven't found it yet (or looked for it, to be fair.)

I hadn't been back to the site yet until today, and to my astonishment, I found that the three items had garnered a total of.... (drumroll) 39 reads. Okay, granted, that's not exactly earthshaking, but for this unpublished writer, the response was, "Hey, someone's reading my stuff! Cool!"

So, I got excited, and went into my archives and uploaded two more short stories this morning. I just checked and they've already gotten 6 reads. My concern is that it may tempt me into spending time polishing and/or writing short stories for upload when I should really work on my new novel.

Anyway, here's the link. My username is DLeeFuhry to read my stories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yay, Tim

Tim's Civil Air Patrol Squadron had their end of year dinner tonight. First, I'm very proud of Tim who was named Cadet of the Year for 2009, and who is apparently right on the verge of getting his Mitchell Award and becoming an officer.

I also liked that they un-apologetically prayed before the meal. Sometimes it seems that the the heritage of this country would be utterly lost were it not for the armed forces, the churches, and the rural folks.

It was a nice evening. I appreciate the men and women who do so much work to run that squadron more than I can express.

Writer of the Week

At the recommendations of both Kathy Fuller, author of the Hearts of Middlefield series, and my mother-in-law, I picked up Plain Perfect, by Beth Wiseman.

I enjoyed the interplay between Amish and English life, and found the story compelling and the characters realistic. I'm looking forward to finding more of her books.

Learn more about Beth here...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Love it, love it, love it!

In addition to last Friday's field trip to a local campus of DeVry University, yesterday Tim's class got a tour of Cisco's facilities. There are no words for how grateful I am that he has this opportunity.


Over the last week or so, I have completely rebuilt my website. I finally gave up on my own design talents, and decided to use a convenient template. I would have liked to have matched my blog design somehow, but that didn't end up happening. I also added a lot of new links, and got rid of a couple of older ones that no longer worked. I'm very pleased with the result.

My Writing Dilemma

I'm trying to learn to write in a more structured manner -- that is, planning out my story and scenes in advance, but I'm finding it difficult. When I write, I almost feel like I'm following my characters around, recording what happens and how they respond. On some rational level, I recognize that it's all coming out of my head, but it doesn't feel like it sometimes.

It seems like since it's 'all coming out of my head,' I ought to be able to sit down and plan it all out, but that's a recipe for writer's block for me. But I'm afraid my stories will be weaker and less structured if I don't plot them out first...

What to do? What to do?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Take laptop?

The kids and I will be visiting my parents soon... here's my dilemma: I'm in the middle of a new story, and I'd hate to not have my laptop to note any hot ideas, but I'm afraid it would seem rude to do that while I'm supposed to be visiting family.

Fortunately, they're supportive of my writing, so I don't think they'd be offended. It just feels kind of funny. I'm also not crazy about carrying this laptop through multiple airports on our multi-legged by inexpensive flights.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Dinner at Church

Our family attended our church's annual Christmas dinner this evening. Doug played sax for part of it, and of course did a good job, but it meant that he ate a pretty cold dinner. He wouldn't eat before playing.

I thought it was because food in his stomach would cause him to become short of breath more easily, but apparently it was... a little more disgusting than that. (Think bits of food being blown into the horn!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not very encouraging for an unpublished writer!

My brother-in-law sent me this link today. It's an article on Scribd, written back in June by Steve Piersanti. The basic point is that fewer and fewer people are buying books, and that most books never even get onto bookstore shelves... etc. etc. Nothing in it was actually surprising, or even news to me but there's nothing like having it all spelled out.

For those of us to whom even getting a book published is still an unattained goal... yikes!

Oh well, here's the link to the article: Ten Awful Truths About Book Publishing

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Writer of the Week

This week, I'm reading a book by Kim Vogel Sawyer titled A Promise for Spring.It's a historical romance set in Kansas in the late 1800s. This one hasn't grabbed me yet as much as some of her other work. I've also read My Heart Remembers, which I really liked. Some months ago I read at the Sommerfeld Trilogy, three books set in a Mennonite community, with some good characters and a fun story.

Her website is here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

College Visit Friday

After my agonizing about college visits, Tim goes on one Friday that I didn't have to arrange. His networking class and the programming class at CVCC are going to Devry University in Independence/Seven Hills Friday. With all my researching, I hadn't even found that one yet, even though it's very close to us, and has a potentially appropriate course of study available.

Thanks, Mrs. Pruitt (and God!)

One concern: he was saying he had a sore throat last night, so I'm hoping he doesn't get sick and have to miss it!

Well, that was wrong!

After my, "I don't even try to write on Mondays" post, I got to spend time doing writing exercises from Plot & Structure. I got everything on my list done (that's rare and usually only happens if I pray a lot) so after dinner I had some time to write. Thanks, God!

Monday, December 07, 2009


I don't even try to work on writing on Mondays. I'm usually trying frantically to catch up from getting behind over the weekend... laundry, school schedules, church deposit, meal planning and grocery shopping, housework, and exercising. It's 3:40 and all I have left is a little bit of picking up downstairs, cleaning the master bathroom, ironing, a little bit of exercise, and cooking dinner...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Interesting pattern

One of the writing exercises I've done recently gave me a very useful insight into what makes a compelling plot. I would summarize it as follows:

A sympathetic character (one with whom the reader can identify and who is basically good, but not flawless) experiences some kind of suffering or trouble at the outset of the story. This trouble is not the character's fault; it is generally caused by the antagonist (whether another character or something more general like societal conventions.) Some method of fixing the problem appears early in the book, but obstacles continually arise, alternately bringing resolution into sight and then snatching it away so that it looks impossible again. Eventually, the character gets not only what they hoped for, but something far better. As part of the resolution, the antagonist usually experiences some kind of negative consequences for their harshness toward the protagonist.

I can easily fit my Amish story, the Jairus novella, and my YA fantasy piece into this model. Faithful Unto Death is going to be a little more difficult, I think. I haven't tried yet with my futuristic thriller.

Friday, December 04, 2009

James Scott Bell

I am reading (well, studying is probably a better word for it!) two books by James Scott Bell: The Art of War for Writers, and Plot and Structure. The first consists of lots of short chapters, some encouraging, others more informative about the writing process and becoming an author. The second is a practical how-to book on plotting.

As I finally have time to devote to writing this year, I'm realizing what a juggling act it is. It's not just sitting down to write whatever story has currently taken up residence in my brain! First of all, there are usually multiple stories fighting it out over which one gets to be worked on next... but I also want to spend more time working on my craft (thus the aforementioned books), establishing a web presence (thus my current activity : ) ) and working on finding an agent and getting published.

Wow! And that's without having been published... add in book signings, fan communication, etc. and it must get a little daunting!

Oh, yeah, I don't want to forget the link for James Scott Bell's website!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


I've decided to bite the bullet and submit my manuscript to Tamela at Hartline. I've been wanting to for a while, but between an unexpected re-edit and the daunting list of supporting documentation they request... I decided to leave it on the back burner for a while.

But with homeschooling taking so much less of my time this year, I've decided to finally get serious about trying to get published. I'm very grateful to Kathy Fuller for her offer of help with figuring out the supporting documentation requirements.

First question, I'm going to ask her: What's the difference between this

One-page sell sheet
A one page overview that summarizes your novel

and this

Story Synopsis
Prepare a one to three page synopsis of your story?

Other than the second can be a little longer if there are things you'd like to put in but can't fit in the sell sheet... anyway I got a pretty good start on the whole thing yesterday.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Not that gaps in my blog are unusual (unfortunately) but...

The earlier blogs about spending two nights in the basement taking care of Becky while she had swine flu explains the most recent gap. She, of course, gave the flu to me.

We weren't tested or anything, but it was definitely a flu-like bug, and since it began with Doug who had the seasonal shot at work -- it seems likely. It also fit the H1N1 description to a tee.

The timing could have been better. My first day out of bed (and only because I had no choice) was Tuesday -- two days before Thanksgiving, for which I was going to be feeding 23.

Writer of the week

I've decided to start making notes of authors I've enjoyed so that next time I step into the library, I won't feel so clueless about where to look!

Recently, I came across Brandilyn Collins, and enjoyed the three books I read, Eyes of Elisha, Dark Pursuit, and Exposure. I'm not normally a huge fan of the paranormal craze -- I get a little uneasy with it sometimes. But she handles it very well, with no sense of pushing the limits of spiritual acceptability.

They've all been a fun read, too!

Here's her website for more info...