Monday, June 27, 2011

DELIA LATHAM: Romance, Grandma? Really?

Don’tcha just love love?

I do. I hope I always will. And that, my friends—just in case you’re wondering—is why a 50-something grandmother would write an entire series of books based around a Christian dating agency.

(To be perfectly honest, when I got the first little mustard seed of an idea, I was eleven years younger, had only one grandchild, and hadn’t yet written a novel at all, much less a series of them.)

Here’s what happened:
Some years ago, I read a series written by an author I’d never heard of at the time. Her name is Shari MacDonald, and she has an amazing knack for humor. One of the books in that series grabbed me by the imagination and would not let go. That book, A Match Made in Heaven, struck some kind of chord in me. It made me want to write the novel I’d been promising myself for years.

Now, let’s be reasonable here. That was well over a decade ago. Don’t ask me what that pivotal novel was actually about—I don’t have a clue, other than there was a dating agency involved. It made an impression on me, and got me thinking about the matchmaking profession. Wouldn’t it be fun, I thought, to write about a place where Christian singles could go to find—in King Solomon’s words—“he (or she) whom their soul loveth?”

I stored the idea away in my brain, and every once in awhile, I took it out and played with it (not my brain—the idea). I wrote two inspirational romances, neither of which had anything to do with a dating agency, and got them published. I started a couple of other manuscripts, which I still haven’t finished.

Then I woke up one day and it was as though something clicked in my heart—like God was saying, “It’s time. Let’s do it!”

In a perfect world, I disappeared into my office and emerged three days later with a completed manuscript, painstakingly edited and ready to send to a publisher.

Uh-huh. Whoever said this was a perfect world?

No. I still wasn’t completely there. I thought about the idea while I was doing dishes; I mulled it over while driving down the road all by myself; I worked out a fun little scenario or two as I lay in bed at night, instead of counting sheep; I created and discarded a number of storylines and subplots. Weeks, months, and more months went into mentally laying the groundwork.

By the time I actually did go into my office and start writing, I had several nice little scenes all cozied up in my head, just waiting to be put on paper. And…I was no longer just writing a book based around a dating agency. Now it was a series. Three books, maybe more (depending on how well you like them). Plus, God threw in a real surprise for me.

My dating agency would be no ordinary, run-of-the-mill love connection. Sometime during all of those mental writing sessions, it received a touch of the divine. Now it had an extraordinary connection to Heaven.

I’d love to tell you all about it, but then there’d be no need to read the book(s). And I really want you to read the Solomon’s Gate Series.

Destiny’s Dream released in December 2010, and Kylie’s Kiss followed four months later, in April 2011. (Come on, admit it. You’re a little bit curious about this series!) It’s available through White Rose Publishing and Amazon. I’m eager to hear what you find between its covers, because I’m thinking different people might find different things. Divine experiences often happen that way, you know.

The third book, Gypsy’s Game, should release later this year.
Come on in. I’ll leave the Gate open for you.

On a dare, Kylie Matthews lands smack in the middle of Solomon’s Gate—Castle Creek’s new Christian dating agency—and she finds herself revealing exactly what she’s waiting for in a relationship: “The kiss that steals my breath away.”

What she doesn’t reveal is her lack of self-esteem or her irrational reaction to facial disfigurement. Neither is applicable to her quest to find the perfect match. But that seemingly superficial malady becomes all-important when her first agency-arranged date is Rick Dale—a man who is everything Kylie is searching for. He’s handsome, smart, fun. Rick has it all…including an angelic six-year-old daughter with severe scarring on one side of her face.

Hard at work founding a therapy camp for young female victims of deformity or disfigurement, Rick wants Kylie to be a part of those plans. She’d love to say yes…but how can she, when every contact with the facility’s guests—and Rick’s own daughter—will make her violently ill?

Kylie is ready to admit their relationship doesn’t stand a chance, but she’s forgotten that God makes a way where there seems no way.

Delia Latham is a born-and-bred California gal, recently transplanted to Oklahoma where she lives with her husband Johnny. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend—but above all, she treasures her role as child of the King and heir to the throne of God. Delia enjoys big, loud, happy family gatherings. When she’s not writing, she loves to play piano and sing, read, enjoy nature’s beauty, and design marketing products for authors.

A former newspaper Staff Writer and frequent contributor to her hometown’s regional publication, Bakersfield Magazine, she has also freelanced projects to a public relations firm and various magazines; has compiled, edited, and designed cover art for several book projects for Kindness Incorporated and Chuck Wall, the president/founder of that organization; and has sold greeting card verse. Many of her short stories, articles, and devotions can be found online.

Latham’s backlist of published novels includes: Goldeneyes (2008, Vintage Romance Publishing); Yesterday’s Promise (2010, White Rose Publishing); Destiny’s Dream (2010, White Rose Publishing, Solomon’s Gate Series, Book 1); and Mine! (children’s picture book, 2011, Vinspire Imaginations). Kylie’s Kiss (Solomon’s Gate, Book 2) released in April 2011. Book 3 in the Solomon’s Gate Series will also be available in 2011, with release date pending.

Find out more about Deliah Latham:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Morning in My Garden

The sights outside my windows were too pretty to ignore this morning. It's finally not too hot or raining, so I slipped on my flippies and grabbed my camera.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Naughty Words: Note Cards

I have friends who plot out every chapter and know everything that's going to happen in their story before they ever get started. How do they do that? I've read books and sat in workshops where methods are outlined. One year I actually made it a goal to plot a book chapter by chapter on note cards.

You know what I did? I sat for days and days, LOOKING at those blank cards -- well, not completely blank, they had chapter numbers -- and wondering what the heck to write on them. Hero and heroine meet, that's pretty easy. At the end everything is rosy --that's a given. But in between? Holy cow! As hard as I tried I couldn't get words on those cards. The cards actually CRIPPLED me.

I do a synopsis first. That's how I sell the book. But my synopsis is about the characters and about their motivations, but not about the details of the story, except for main plot points. Once I know in my head who the people are, what drives them and what they want, THEY tell me what they're going to do and say next. I don't know the middle of the book. Often I don't know the end. I just know the characters and I keep them together to see what happens next.

My method makes the plotters crazy. Their story wouldn't go anywhere if they didn't have it planned. Are they right? Am I? Yes. Whatever works for the writer is the right way.

Now, some would think that after hearing me say how I write that I just fly by the seat of my pants. Not so. I know my story people's backstories. I know the incidents that shaped them into the people they are. This way I can challenge them in the most significant ways with the things that happen to them. I know what they want. I know what's holding them back. I know their long range and short range goals, their character flaws, their character traits, their fears, their internal motivation, their personality and ten or more descriptors/adjectives about the person. I usually know the black moment.

I know a couple of scenes that I want to touch on - and I know how the story should FEEL. Sometimes I know the theme and I always need a working title.

Just don't talk note cards. My eye will start twitching.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writers Write - but when and how? Are you a professional writer?

"Writers write everyday." A statement we writers often hear, made by other well-meaning writers.

Recently a writer friend told me how upset she was by that statement, because it didn't allow for life to happen. The insinuation is that "professionals" write every day, through every situation and storm in life. Nice if it works for you.

If you're a writer, aspiring or published, you have to learn a pace and a rhythm that works for you.

I agree, writing means you have to write. Duh. There are people who call themselves writers, who do a lot of talking. Talk about writing, talk about what they've learned, talk about the book they're plotting. But writing is hard work. And the cut between the writer and the talker is clearly defined by pages. Pages, manuscripts, queries and submissions. SHOW ME THE PAGES!

That said, you can accumulate pages without writing everyday. What!? Sacrilege, you say? I used to beat myself up because I didn't have the same schedule that the "professionals" have. I've sat through workshops and author interviews where the eager newbies in the crowd are asking, "How many hours a day do you write?" And the typical interviewer inevitably asks, "Describe a typical day in your life."

Some days I write a little. Some days I think and plot. Some days I go to garage sales. Some days I sweat bullets over a scene. Some days I sit with a friend who needs me. Some WEEKS I tally pages like there's no tomorrow. On deadline, I sometimes write all day and half the night. This week I am working 15 hour days. I started at seven yesterday and stopped for the Bachelorette (we all have our limits) at seven pm and then went back to the story for a couple more hours before dropping into bed.

However, some days I watch movies or read a book. Does that mean I'm not working? Does it mean I'm not a professional?

Okay, I'm not Nora Doesn't-Need-A-Last-Name (sort of like Cher) but neither is anyone except Nora. And I've heard her talk about her days - she exercises and has a family and a life. Honestly, I don't know how she does it. I have a friend who admits she has no life other than her writing. Does she produce a lot of books? Yes. Do I want that for myself? No.


This book helped me realize that I'm creating all the time. Even if I'm painting a room or arranging flowers or shopping at a flea market, my brain is processing ideas. I may not write for a couple of days, but when I sit down and open the file and put my fingers on the keyboard, the story flows out.

I'm not one of those people who plan the story all out head of time. More about that another time.

Occasionally I receive a commemorative pin from my publisher, acknowledging and celebrating the publication of milestone books. The accompanying letters say, "This is a significant achievement." I think so, too. I consider myself a professional. I've written thirty-eight books since 1993. Sometimes two, three or four in one year. Did I write every day? No.

My husband once spent a couple of weeks in the hospital. I took line edits along with me while I sat with him all day. One summer my daughter, with her family of six, lived with us for five weeks while their new home was being finished. Do YOU think I wrote everyday? We moved to a new home and the next week I went to RWA national conference. I got a new knee last December and did a whole lot of recuperating and physical therapy. (Not to mention the drugs.)

I have a life, with a husband, family and church.

I don't always write everyday. But I'm a writer. The pages are the proof.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tina Gayle: Goals, Motivation and Conflict

Some of you might be thinking I’m going to talk about Debra Dixon’s book, but the same words can apply to developing the plan for your career.

Goals:  At the start of the New Year, we plan what we want to achieve.  It might be easy to come up with the goals but hard to achieve them.  After all, we only have twenty-four hours in a day, no more, no less. Yet, we all know people who seem to get it all done.

How you might ask?

Planning ahead and breaking things down into bite size pieces are the two best ways to achieve your goals.  Okay, your goal is to write four books this year. Impossible you might say.  But let’s break it down with a few questions:
How many pages can you write a day?
How long are the books?
How much time do you need to edit the book once it’s done?

Let’s say you want to write a 240 page book. You can squeeze out three pages a day with everything else you have to do.

Simple math 240/3 = 80 days.
You want to write 4 books x 80 days = 320
365 days in a year  - 320 = 45 days to do edits.

If you can edit each book in 11 days, you’ve made your goal with one day to spare.

Is this feasible for everything else you have to do?
What about other commitments?
Other objectives?
Will this fit in your over all scheme? What about promotion and blogging?
Can you make it happen by editing at odd times, like at your child’s soccer game?
How about writing more pages on weekends and take off time during the week.
If you plan ahead, set deadlines and make your objectives clear to your family and friends, you can make it happen.

Motivation and Conflict
These two things can kill a well laid out plan. If you are unmotivated to write or have some type of conflict, your writing can suffer. This is where you need to work some flexibility into your plan. 

Work in time for potential conflicts that might arise, if they don’t it’ll only give you more time to write.  We all have life outside of writing and things happen. Like our characters, conflict tests our resolve and the best way to work our way through it is by revising our goals and forgiving us for our shifts in priorities.

Finding motivation can also derail a plan. If you are worn out or struggling with other issues in your life; it can be difficult to sit your butt down in the chair and write. Again, give yourself a break and schedule a special treat for yourself like an hour in the tub with a glass of wine and scented candle. Remember to celebrate each victory that comes along and give yourself time to enjoy your accomplishments.

Hope all your dreams come true. 
With a little planning, they will.

After working twenty years in the business world, Tina Gayle decided to follow her passion and became a romance novelist. Now, she spends her days in front of a computer—crying, laughing, living in the world of her characters. Always working on perfecting her craft, Tina regularly studies writing through online courses and RWA conferences.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Kathleen Eagle: Cowboy, Take Me Away

Cowboy, Take Me Away by Kathleen Eagle
Harlequin Special Edition
May 2011
Heart & Home
ISBN: 9780373655953 (#2113)

When photographer Skyler Quinn first fixed her lens on gorgeous cowboy Trace Wolf Track, she liked what she saw but didn't give it much thought. Until everywhere she went—the rodeo, the Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary—there he was, and the heat between them built to the boiling point.

As a widow struggling with debts and loyalties from a former life, Skyler needed to stay focused, especially if she wanted to achieve her dream of becoming a mother. Was Trace a fatal distraction, a mere summer fling? Or did this younger man—so deep, so passionate—hold the key to a future that would make all her dreams come true?

Monday, June 06, 2011


Most of your guesses were identical! So many of you thought this pretty face was Renee Zelwegger. But alas, it's not. Only two of you guessed correctly, with the name of Aileen Quinn. Good job, ladies! I'm sending each of you an autographed copy of Marrying the Preacher's Daughter.

I hope you enjoy this peek at what it was like for Aileen Quinn to be the star of Annie and see what she's doing now.

And the winners are:

MEGAN D from Lansing Illinois


JULIE G from Alhambra, California

Thanks to all who participated!