Friday, September 28, 2007

"Let Them Eat Cake" - by Sandra Byrd

Robin Jones Gunn said it best: "Let Them Eat Cake is a delicious read. Bon appetit!" And she's so right! This was a fun book that I thoroughly enjoyed. While some might consider the pace seemingly slow in sections, the reader quickly realizes the character's motivation and goals work together to create a fabulous journey well worth continuing!! Lexi Stuart deals with the spiritual questions all Christians face, as well as the problems in which everyday "twenty somethings" struggle - jobs, boyfriends, friends...

Can Lexi have her cake and eat it too?

Here's the publisher's summary:

Lexi Stuart is at a critical crossroads. She’s done with college but still living at home, ready to launch a career but unable to find a job, and solidly stalled between boyfriends.

When a lighthearted conversation in French with the manager of her favorite bakery turns into a job offer, Lexi accepts. But the actual glamour is minimal: the pay is less than generous, her co-workers are skeptical, her bank account remains vertically-challenged, and her parents are perpetually disappointed. Her only comfort comes from the flirtatious baker she has her eye—but even may not be who he seems to be!

So when a handsome young executive dashes into the bakery to pick up his high profile company’s special order for an important meeting—an order Lexi has flubbed— she loses her compulsion to please. “What am I going to do?” he shouts. “Let them eat cake!” she fires back with equal passion and a nod to Marie Antoinette. And then, something inside Lexi clicks. Laissez la révolution commencer! Let the revolution begin! Instead of trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations for her life, Lexi embarks on an adventure in trusting God with her future—très bon!

Lexi – and Let Them Eat Cake – will entertain readers with wit and great fun, but also explore the universal coming-of-age themes of separating from one’s family of origin, establishing self-esteem, and making healthy choices.

Sandra Byrd is a prolific writer of fiction, including the popular Friends for a Season series for teens, and the bestselling Girls Like You and Secret Sisters series for young girls. She is a regular contributor to national Christian publications. Before she began writing full time, Sandra worked in marketing, sales, and acquisitions for an educational publisher. She and her husband have two children, and make their home in Seattle , Washington.

Pick up your copy of "Let Them Eat Cake" here today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My 2007 ACFW Conference Experience!

The 2007 ACFW Conference in Dallas was beyond fantastic! My brain is on overload!! I've never in my life soaked up so much quality information on writing in such a short time. I need another weekend off work to figure out how to apply my new info to my writing, and better yet - just WRITE! I can't wait, I'm so inspired... Here's some things I learned at the conference that might help/encourage others.

First of all, I didn't learn, but rather, was REMINDED of what an amazing group of people make up the ACFW. Words can't even express the love I feel for so many of these dear members. I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that the ACFW is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life - a real blessing, not only in regards to my writing, but also emotionally and spiritually. The conference just proved this truth again. God shows up at these conference, you guys!! We're a blessed group, and if you're a fiction writer, we'd love to have you be a part!

Craft-wise, I learned some great points on when/how to incorporate backstory from Deb Raney's continuing education class. It was a fantastic session and the hands-on projects and "quizzes" were such a blast. Deb seriously rocks! She's a sweet woman with a heart of gold and a passion for writing and sharing God's truths, all rolled up into a pretty smile and a warm hug! I learned so much and better yet, had fun doing it! All of the workshops were informative and beneficial, and I wish I could have attended multiple classes at once. I need a clone! I guess the conference MP3s are the next best thing! I can't wait to hear the courses on my computer and learn even more. =)

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things for me this weekend was hearing Robin Jones Gunn teach on how to write passion. Her words sparked something in my heart that I believe was a "divine appointment" from God. Robin's course on Young Adult writing was actually incredibly beneficial to any writer of any genre, because Robin's beautiful heart flowed through her words and dripped blessings over each person there. I don't believe there was a dry eye after her testimony stories! Unbelievable...

Spiritually speaking, I don't even know how to tell you what the conference did to my heart! I'm a writer, so maybe I SHOULD be able to express my heart in this matter, but who can explain God and His ways?? Not me! =) I can say that I was refreshed and renewed beyond belief, and my faith took a quiet, firm step forward. I always anticipate the ACFW conference not just for the invaluable wealth of info for my writing, but for the fellowship with other Christians and the inspiring worship times. God showed up, big time. I hope you all met Him there this year as I did.

Some fun memories that will stick with me forever:

French fries and diet coke with Lori at the hotel bar at midnight!

Brainstorming with Susan May Warren and hanging out til after midnight chatting about our new stories. Meeting "Rafe" - check out Susan's new book, coming out in January 2008 at her website!

Lunch Thursday with Robin Jones Gunn and her amazing analogy on how our books and the stories of our hearts are pleasing offerings to God.

Robin Gunn, Tricia Goyer, and Sarah Sumpolec dancing around a hotel room during the infamous "Chocolate Party" with red wax lips.

The joy that filled my spirit during the worship times, when I would take a moment to look around and realize that here we were, worshipping and praising God - editors, writer, agents, famous authors, newbies, and faculty alike. We are ONE in the body of Christ!

Chip MacGregor's kilt at the awards banquet - need I say more?

Seeing my crit parter, roommate, and dear friend Georgiana Daniels win Second Place in the Genesis contest for the LIT category. "Woooooohooooo!!!!!!"

Watching James Scott Bell, famous author and screenwriter, strum a guitar and sing ""My brother Esau is a hairy man but I am a smooth man" complete with hand motions.

The yummy food! Chocolate, chocolate everywhere! (me pouting cuz I couldn't finish it! so rich!)

The amazing hotel beds - everything was down! Down pillows, comforters, mattresses, etc.

Meeting so many dear online friends face to face for the first time!! (Hi Georgiania! Hey Erica! )

Me & Colleen Coble at the booksigning event!

Me and the talented writer/singer Rachel Hauck!

Me and Camy Tang! She rocks!

All dressed up for our banque night! Beka, me and Lori!

Me & Rachel Smith (Wilder)

Okay, so...who's with me in 2008??? =)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Leaaaving on a jet plane...

Okay, so I'm actually leaving in a blue, 4-door, 2007 Sebring, but whatever. I'm leaving! For the ACFW conference in Dallas, TX. Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn I'll be hitting the road - can't wait! Just a LITTLE giddy. Also gotta pack tonight - might need an entire suitcase just for shoes! Another one for chocolate...

I'd appreciate all prayers for safe travel, a productive weekend, courage, strength, endurance (not much sleep is obtained at these conferences! lol!) and most importantly, the chance to draw close to Jesus through worship and fellowship with fellow writers.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Confessions of an author...

The last several weeks, I have literally lived and breathed my latest suspense WIP, starring one tough chick and one bitter cop. I've become immersed in it, consumed by it, even to the point of incorporating it into my conversations as if the characters were real (well, they are, aren't they?!) and the setting not made up. I finished eating dinner last night at my parent's house, and actually stood up from the table and announced, "Thanks for dinner, I've gotta get back to Darkness Falls now."

Thankfully, my family doesn't blink at such comments anymore.

Then again, today, I was out making bank deposts for my company downtown. A cop car cruised past me down the street. I pictured myself, in vivid detail, running after the car in my high heels, waving my bank bag and shouting all my curious WIP questions. "Wait! What are the lights on your dashboard called? If a dirty cop was discovered in your department, what would you do to him? Would he get a trial? Would the other cops beat him up off the record? How much $ do you make in a year? What kind of GPS system do you have installed in your cruiser? Do you carry a glock? Would you let a fellow officer work a case in which a family member was murdered? Does your cell phone ring tone play Cops?"

This picture of myself was so vivid that I actually started laughing, right there on the middle of the corporate sidewalk. A man with silver hair longer than mine, dressed in a really bad, brown pin-striped suit leaned against a column nearby, smoking a ciggerette and looking at me like I was the weird one.

Well, I am a writer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fun new read!!!


Libby Hawthorne makes exotic trip itineraries but never leaves Seattle. She’d like to attend church but winds up at a bookstore. She longs for love—but who has the time? Delayed happiness has been worth it, because she’s about to get her dream promotion...Or not.So now what?When a corporate merger leaves her demoted and disillusioned, Libby realizes she needs to start living authentically...and soon.

But just as she tries to uncover her purposed life, her cruel and unusual boss, Cecilia, demands that Libby hide Seattle’s most famous homegrown rock star in order to keep her new, bad job. For the first time in years, Libby doesn’t have a step by step plan to guide her. She must trust her faith and her heart. But what is she supposed to do with her growing admiration for Blaine Slater, a new VP from Chicago, or the surprising kindness of the rock star living incognito in her Seattle apartment?

Through the humorous twist and turns, Libby uncovers a big life truth—the detours we are afraid of might just be the perfect path to happiness.

Hope Lyda has always wanted to write. Ever since she was a young tyke with a spiral notebook in hand, she had the urge to fill it. Sadly, Peggy Meets the Midgets did not cause Hope to be deemed a child prodigy, so she continued her path of education. She was grade-obsessed but also truly enjoyed sharing laughs with her circle of creative friends.Hope attended the University of Oregon and graduated with a double major in Journalism: Advertising and Telecommunications and Film.

With aspirations to write screenplays or teleplays, she of course ended up doing public relations for non-profits until she entered the publishing field in which she has worked for 10 years.Her passions are quiet ones—she loves a good read, an afternoon of free thinking time, writing, journaling, road trips, travel, and pondering life from her back yard pergola. She loiters in bookstores frequently, though has never been arrested for such.

Her big hope is to encourage others to embrace their dreams and understand their faith journeys through the practice of journaling and the art of creative living. She hopes to also inspire such things through the themes in her fiction including Hip to Be Square and Altar Call. (There are also visions of a nice Casita with a hammock in Mexico—but one thing at a time.)When not living in her head, she resides with her husband, Marc, in the Pacific Northwest.

To get a copy of this fun, uniquie book, click here!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

To what lengths will YOU go? =)

To play or not to play? That is the question.

Friday afternoon, my coworker emailed all the women in our office and asked if we might be willing to play on his church's co-ed softball team for the next six weeks. They play one game every Sunday night, and were short a few girl players. He assured us it was all very casual, very non-competitive, a "just for fun" thing. All we had to do was bring a glove, otherwise, it was totally free.

Apparently there was something in the water that day, because I thought it sounded like fun, even though none of my other coworkers were interested. Me, the girl whose favorite sport is power-window-shopping. I called Hubby about it, who laughed, then realized I was serious and told me to go for it. I didn't want to do it alone, though, so I found a friend who said she'd be willing to play, too, which was a miracle because I believe she's actually even less sports-experienced than me. (Okay, so I bribed her with ice cream, but that's not the point) I emailed the coworker back and told him he had two additional teammembers.

Tonight was the first game. At 6:00, my friend Katie and I were there, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, gloves and water bottles in hand, ready to go. Our husbands sat in the bleacher and got ready to laugh at - I mean - cheer for us.

Before I tell you about the game's events, let me give you some quick background. I've never played sports. I mean, never. I homeschooled from 4th-8th grade, and the two years of high school when I was at public school (before homeschooling again to graduate) I simply went to school and went home. No sports. No teams. No cheering. Nada. Just wasn't my thing. I was the girl who grew up thinking dodgeball was the game they surely played in Hades, the girl who faked sick to get out of youth camp rec team, and played ref for a friendly game of volleyball at a friends birthday party. (Yeah, didn't know the rules, just didn't want to play and needed an excuse). I took up kickboxing this past year, and I love it - relatively good at it - but see, kickboxing is an independant sport and really involves little if any hand-eye coordination. As long as you land a hand or foot somewhere on the giant black bag, you're good. Hubby's been trying to teach me golf recently, as you saw in my previous blog, which is again, an independant sport. See where I'm going here? lol

So, Katie and I join the team in the dug-out and find out our church team name is "The Saints". (which later made a lot of sense, if you happened to catch the New Orleans Saints game on TV last week!) The co-ed team switches players out so at bat, the order is two guys, one girl, two guys, one girl, etc. Plus, all the men have to bat opposite-handed and the distance between bases is a tad shorter than regulation. I'm looking around thinking, okay, this might not be so bad! I figure, hey, if I stink at this, at least I can chalk it up to experience for future books. (Oh, the lengths we go to for our unborn characters!)

My coworker, the team leader, wisely puts Katie and I out toward right field. Smart man, there. Yet, since so many men were batting left-handed, they fired some at us. When the ball came my way, something magical happened, something that's never happened in all my 23 years of attempting to play team sports when forced in p.e. or at church - I didn't run away from the ball. I ran toward it. Turned out to be a foul, but I tried. People, this is HUGE. It set off some competitive spark in me. After that, I wanted to try. I wanted to WIN.

And I did try! I hauled after several of the balls that came my way - didn't catch them, they were all way over my head, but I actually ran toward them and made an effort. I felt alive. I. was. playing. a. sport. This was surely headline worthy somewhere! My first turn at bat, I swung once and missed. My second pitch, CRACK! I nailed a good solid grounder toward second. My feet took off toward first and somewhere in the back of my head I screamed at myself "drop the bat! drop the bat!" LOL! I did and continued hauling myself to first base, and made it. My jaw dropped and I actually turned to the first baseman and said "oh my gosh I'm actually here!" (Not kidding) He looked as if he didn't know whether to laugh or just go home.

The batter in line behind me hit one straight to the base and I got tagged on my way to second. My next turn at bat, I hit the first pitch...straight into the glove of the pitcher. I mean, BAM. I was out before I could even drop the bat and run! It was like "here, Merry Christmas!" Oh well. At least I didn't strike out! (which, might I add, several of the men were doing. hehe)

My last turn in the outfield, I was fired up and ready to go. Ready to play, ready to help. I screamed "bring it on" at one point. Hubby's stunned in the bleachers, probably thinking who is that competitive freak in the black gym shorts in right field? Well, the batter nailed one in my direction, waaaaay high toward the back fence. I started running for it, and everyone started screaming. My back was turned so I figured that meant "hurry". I picked up the pace and ran like I have truly never run before. I'm talking arms pumping, hands pointed, back twisting, feet aching, wind whizzing past my eyes RUNNING for the ball. Scooped it up and threw it in the general direction of the shortstop. It was too late by then but hey, I tried, and I knew I tried my hardest, so it felt good.

We ended up losing 6-2 but had a great time!

Until the ride home. I asked Hubby how I did. I told him to be gentle but honest, not just pacify me. He said "You did okay at bat, but in the outfield, you really needed to have run faster."

Have you ever seen red? Like, truly saw the color red floating in front of your eyes?

I have.

"Uh, that's as fast as Betsy can go." (You know I'm mad when I refer to myself in third person).

Hubby looked shocked, which just made me even madder. Here I was thinking I was a stinkin' Pegasus flying across the grass, and he thought I was runing in slow motion!! Grrr. (good thing I left the bat with my coworker!)

Guess I might need to leave it at future character experience after all. I'm going to finish out the six weeks, though. Why not? I can only get better, right? (don't answer that) I might even post pics later =)

So, this brings me to the question - what lengths will you go to for your characters or future books? What means of research will you submit yourself to at the sake of humilation, embarassment, agony, pain, etc. for your story? Any crazy experiences? Share 'em here!

Friday, September 07, 2007


And the winner of a free, autographed copy of "Midnight Angel" is...

Congratulations, Cherie!
Please email me at with your mailing address and who you want the book autographed to.
Thanks for playing, everyone! I'll hold another contest soon!

Sushi for One? - By Camy Tang

Lex Sakai’s family, big, nosy, and marriage-minded, is ruled by a crafty grandmother. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the OLDEST SINGLE COUSIN in the clan, a loathed position by all single female family members.

Lex has not dated for years.

Grandma homes in on this fact and demands, bribes, and threatens Lex to bring a boyfriend (not just a date) to her cousin’s wedding.

Lex does not want to date ... not since that terrible incident a few years back ... but, Grandma doesn't give her that choice.

Lex's options are slim because she has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the PERFECT man (and the more she dates, the more she adds to the list).

The one man she keeps running into (and is completely attracted to) doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex loses control and lets God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.


Camy Tang is a member of CFBA and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.
Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

To celebrate the launch of her debut novel, she's got a huge contest going on. Camy is giving away baskets of Christian novels and an iPod Nano! Only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible to enter, so join today.

For more information about the contest, visit her website. Contest ends October 31, 2007!
My take on: Sushi for One?
I truly enjoyed this novel! The characters were vivid, the plot intriguing, the sports aspect interesting, even to this girlie-girl reader (who, as you see in a recent blog post of mine, is attempting to learn golf by studying baseball) and the spiritual theme inspiring.
Fun, three-dimensional, realistic cousins + one overzealous, meddling grandma + One hunky Asian guy = ONE GREAT READ!
Pick up your copy of this amazing chick lit here!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Refilling the tank...

I'm taking a break for a moment from promoting Christian fiction and instead, today, I will promote Christian music. There is no way that we as inspirational authors can adequately express Christ's message of grace, salvation and hope if we're writing on an empty tank!

Fill up today, won't you?

There's a song I've found that touches my soul every time I hear it. I got the CD and usually listen to it on my way to work each morning, a quiet time with God in the early morning rush hour. I get swept away every day, and usually arrive to work sniffing, eyes red-rimmed but spirit overflowing.

I've printed the lyrics below in case you need just such a song experience yourself. Please, please read the lyrics carefully. You won't regret it. It's a deep message.

The song is by the group Casting Crowns, from their brand new CD entitled "The Altar and the Door". This song is called "East to West".


Do not listen for the first time in a vehicle. You will almost inevitably close your eyes as you begin to worship and could possible endanger yourself and other drivers! =)


Here I am Lord and I’m drowning
In Your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don’t want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind
Keeps me awake tonight

I know You’ve cast my sin as far
As the East is from the West
And I stand before You now
As though I’ve never sinned
But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far the East is from the West?
Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the East is from the West
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far the East is from the West?
Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Come rising up in me againIn the arms of Your mercy I find rest
Cause You know just how far the East is from the West
From one scarred hand to the other

I know You’ve washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me throughTo get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feelAbout the truth Your word reveals
And I’m not holding onto You
But You’re holding onto me
You’re holding onto me

Jesus, You know just how far the East is from the West
I don't have to see the man I’ve been
Come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the East is from the West
From one scarred hand to the other

Monday, September 03, 2007

Elvis + baseball = FORE!

"Remember your baseball swing."

"Bend your knees. No, a little more. Less."

"No, don't shake it like Elvis! Keep your leg straight."

"BASEBALL. Think baseball."


The above are direct quotes from my husband this morning. No, we weren't learning a country line dance. No, we weren't on a baseball diamond.

He was attempting to teach me golf. LOL.

On a random whim a few weeks back, Hubby got me golf clubs. Pink ones, of course. And relatively cheap ones, but a good quality brand. He loves golfing, and I thought it sweet the wanted to share the fun with me. Most men consider the golf course their domain, but mine wants to enjoy it with me. Swoon.

Here it is, Labor Day, 10:00 a.m. I was ready to go! "Let's go to the shooting range, baby!"

Hubby sighs. "DRIVING range."

"Well that's silly, you don't DRIVE once you're there. You shoot balls."

"HIT balls."


So we agreed, for the sake of the argument, to call it the "golfing range". Made more sense to me, and Hubby, I think, realized early on to pick his battles. He'd have plenty to choose from.

We get to the GOLFING RANGE and he goes over the basics with me. I'm all decked out in a pink baseball cap, blank tank top, jeans, and black and pink running shoes. I totally coordinate with my clubs, so I figure the hardest part is already behind me.

Hubby takes me through the various clubs. I can now recognize a driver and distinguish it from a six iron or a nine iron or a pitching wedge or a putter. Woohoo! Progress, folks. Progress.

Besides a few "helpful" comments from another male golfer, and plenty of teeth clenching from Hubby, we made good progress throughout the morning. I was timid, at first, afraid of smacking the club into the ground and hurting my arms or wrists. I got over that surprisingly quickly, after a few whole-hearted swings and misses in thin air. (much to the amusement of the men around me)

But I just couldn't get my swing correct. I'd bring the club UP and forward, instead of BACK and forward. Hubby would stand behind me and take me through it. "Go back, go foward. Go back, go forward." His chant sounded like the line from the teen movie "She's All That", when they are in the poetry reading house toward the beginning, and they all chant: "Be silent, be still." So of course I got the giggles, which doesn't help one's form. I could find the rhythm and swing correctly with Hubby right behind me, but as soon as he backed away, it'd be UP and forward all over again!

So many things to think about... head down, knees bent, center your body with the ball, eyes on ball, THINK ball, rotate, twist, keep toes on ground, lift heel off the ground as you twist, bring it through, follow through, then the other toe twists...just couldn't remember to go "back and forward."

Finally, Hubby came to me with a genius idea.

"How do you hold a baseball bat?"

I demostrated.

"Perfect. Now pretend your club is a bat, but incorporate the other things I showed you." I bent my knees, shook hands with the club, lined up my body, pulled up and back my arms like I was about to hit a grand slam, and... WHAAAPOW!!!! Beautiful drive. Actually went through the air and everything. I yelled "Woohooo!" and did a little shimmy dance, where I succeeded in thoroughly cracking up the three elderly men behind me. Oh well. Hubby was just so excited his coaching worked and I actually did something right.

Keeping my baseball stance, I began connecting with the ball on a regular basis. Could do it with my six iron and my driver. Oh yeah. Bring on the callouses, baby. Pour on the sweat. I am woman. I am golfer.

Wanna know the sad part? The whole time I was out there, having fun and impressing the socks off my Hubby, (who knew I was such a baseball genius on the golfing range?) I couldn't wait to get home to blog about it. I guess ultimately, I am woman. I am writer.