Changes to Beneath Outstretched Arms

I have to be honest… The transition from cover 1 to cover 2 was bitter-sweet for me. I mean, cover 1 was my creation. At least, the crayon version was 😉 It’s what I submitted to a friend (and truly talented artist), who absolutely transformed it into something beautiful.

She first sent it back to me as a photo shopped hodgepodge of what she would draw… I remember the moment I saw this.  I knew it was Velena. She’d come alive, and there’s a lot of sentimentality involved in that.  I would have been very content to keep the cover as it was, but I was starting to find there was a problem with it.

Friends would tell me that they were buying it for their twelve-year-old daughter. What?! No! It’s not for children, why would they think that? Well, go to the library, and you’ll see. Almost all YA (young adult) fiction has a drawn cover. Adult romance novels do not…by in large. There are always exceptions. Mind for instance, haha.

So, I did my research and finally concluded that I wasn’t getting the traffic I ought to for my genre with the cover the way it was. With a heavy heart I went back to the drawing board…which didn’t involve any drawing at all, as it so happened. I contacted my publisher at Selah Press and we discussed what we could do. I was connected with a new cover designer…a wonderful Christian woman on the east coast, who absolutely transformed my book into something new and stunning. This is the “sweet” part of the bitter, and I’m so thankful for all that she did.

My prayer is that this gains me the traffic my book needs. Of course, I’m still keeping a few copies of the old around. Can’t get rid of those 😉 The plan, now, is to save up for cover 3 (still yet to be published, but you know…it has to have one) and then work my way back to re-covering 2 to have a matching set.  If you could see me, I just stopped typing to clap my hands because, yes, I’m just that excited 🙂

Now, as to the inside edits…

That’s a different story. I’ll be brief and say that I stink at homophones. If you ask me the correct spelling of a word, I could tell you…but while I’m writing, I butcher them ALL the time. It’s entirely possible you may even find one in this post (I almost made “It’s,” “its” just for fun). It’s a fact that my readers were leaving comments about them in their REVIEWS. One girl even left me the word and page numbers in her comments on Goodreads! But, thank you, whoever you are because I totally looked them up.

This was the biggest change made. The other was a revamp of the first paragraph in the prologue. I’d created this huge, ridiculous run-on sentence that absolutely drove me crazy every time I read it. So, changing that gave me an even huger (not a word, yes I know, haha) smile. Also, I added a family tree, which I hope will be helpful to everyone.

Second biggest change…though perhaps kind of the biggest reason for the changes in the first place was my use of a few off-colored words, such as b*stard and *ss…or is it a*s. Basically, a donkey’s hiney, not to be confused with a hinny. If you look that up and learn something new, you’re welcome.

Aside from not knowing where to put the asterisks in swear words, I don’t even use them (sometimes in my head because I have five kids and I haven’t received my sanctified body yet…but mostly, no). Still, though there are certain swear words I never ever say…and hate. And then there are others that don’t really bother me, and seemed to fit with what I was going for in the time period, so I used them. In my defense, it was actually Stuart who used them (the non-Christian antagonist). He was a bad guy who used bad words. Again, not so bad to me, but evidently really bad in England. “Bl**dy” and “B*gg*r” were fine in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, so they had to be alright in a medieval book, right?

Not so much!

I did a lot of research for my time period, but never-the-less, my audience is Christian. I’m a Christian! And Christians generally don’t like to read bad words…especially British Christians who find them even more offensive than Americans do. To them, “Bl**dy” is like the f-word. That is an absolute no-go for me. In fact, I put down a book the first time I read it in one. So, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that my readers might do the same of mine.

So, I toyed around with going back into books I and II to change the offending words. This was humbling for me. I drug my feet a bit. That’s humbling to say also. It’s not that I especially wanted to use “bl**dy” in my book, but gosh darn it, that’s what my character wanted to say (Even the beloved, Janette Oke used “Dad-blammit” in Love Comes Softly), and I heard it as clear as day in  my head…I saw it play out like a movie. We writers are a bit weird like that, I know. So, the Lord had to do a bit to break down my resistance to making the necessary changes, but He was gentle about it.

He used a commenter on the Avid Book Readers FB page to finally got through to me. She said something along the lines of, “if it keeps people from hearing your message, then it’s not worth it.” Romans 6 played out. 🙂 Changing the books was the loving thing to do. When I realized that, it was easy to do. I never wanted to be the poster child for swearing in Christian fiction anyway. No, thank you.

So, you will no longer find any such words in books I or II…or III or IV when they’re done being written. I’m so thankful we serve such a kind and loving God, who uses all sort of things, by any and all means, to deepen the convictions and faith of His children.

I’ve been blessed through this process, and I hope you are too. Happy reading!




5 Authors in 5 Days & How They’ve Inspired Me: #4 Linda Chaikin

  Linda Chaikin, I’m forever in your debt. This is the woman that finally got me off my hiney and writing…actually, actively writing.

Her Heart of India series was a game changer for my young mind because the main love interests didn’t get together after the first book. Whaaat?! You may be thinking, Oh, that’s no big thing, lots of books series are like that. But none that I’d read up until that point. Because up until that point I had only read series that ended with a neat and tidy little bow…followed by a sequel about their children, then their’s…and on and so forth.

Okay, I take that back. Janette Oke’s Canadian West series kind of did that, though they still got together after the first book, but the following three were about them as well. With Linda, though, oh man, she milked that romance for everything it was worth through three thick books, and then she did the same with her Trade Winds trilogy.

Now, I don’t know how much research she put into her Trade Winds trilogy, but from a readers point of view, it seemed to be a lot…and it  made all the difference in my enjoyment level of the book. It was because of this, that I chose to invest myself in the proper kind of research it would take to write a quality novel, and to make it a series that drew out the relationship of its main characters to the end.

I’d read the Trade Winds in high school and then again 2015 or so…and that, along with the Lord’s prompting, got my own series up and running. You can find more about this on one of my homepage tab entitled, Down Memory Lane. and just for an added bit of news, I just realized this year the she graduated from Multnomah University, which is where I received my degree from! I feel so connected, haha.

While looking online, I just realized that for as much as I enjoy Linda Chaikin, I’ve read surprising little of her titles overall. I’m thinking I’m going to change this sooner rather than later. What’s your favorite Linda Chaikin novel? And do you share the same feelings I have about the drawn out romance, or would you rather have them short and sweet?

I wanted to find a good YouTube interview with her, but there seems there are none to be found. But here is a Q&A from her website. And just so I’d have something for your to watch, a YouTube interview with Bodie Thoene, author of the Zion Covenant and many more. She’s another amazing author I grew up with–and another testimony to what good research does for a book! Let the Lion Roar Interview. Mom, you’re going to love this!

5 Authors in 5 Days & How They’ve Inspired Me: #5 Francine Rivers

 I haven’t read as many books of Francine Rivers as I would like–but what I’ve read has been amazing.

Her stuff is a bit more edgy, in my opinion (if you can think of a better word, let me know)…at least for Christian writing, but I think in a good way. Her characters are very real, and so are the life events that lead those characters along their plotted courses. And in general, I tend to be drawn to books that have that raw edge to them. Mostly I stick to Christian fiction, but some non-Christian books that have stayed with me are Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and The Judas Tree by A.J. Cronin (a terribly depressing book), where I realized that you could write about characters that are so flawed, there’s no turning back from it…where the author chooses not to fix what’s gone wrong–it just goes wrong, and there it is. That was a sort of fascinating concept to a girl who’d stuck to Janette Oke books most of her teenage years.

But back to Francine Rivers. My favorite of hers has been the Mark of the Lion series. There’s so much in there, and the evolution of some of the characters is really raw and sad to watch. She hints at a lot of things that it seems most books in her genre shy away from, but I think, again, that’s why I enjoy her writing so much. There’s a lot there to pull you in.

Her setting was another character with which her characters had to contend…and that inspired me to strive for the same in my own writing. I settled on the Black Plague as the backdrop for my book for this very reason. Desperate times bring out the best and worst in people like no other, and that can set you up for some very dynamic characters.

So, what’s your favorite Francine Rivers’ novel/series? Do you like an edgy novel, or is it a place you’d rather not go?

Here’s a YouTube interview with Francine Rivers…short but sweet 🙂

I’ve enjoyed sharing my 5 author inspirations with you. Stay tuned for the next top 5 current authors I’m reading.

 Blessings and happy reading!

5 Authors in 5 Days & How They’ve Inspired Me: #3 Gilbert Morris

 Gilbert Morris was the first male author I’d ever read. Whereas, Janette Oke introduced me to historical fiction and Lori Wick to the swoony romance (expanding the historical settings I was used to), Gilbert Morris took his history a whole lot deeper, as well as his plots. More action–more intrigue. I was lovin’ it!

Up until his writing, the male love interest I was used to was…mostly perfect. Always saying the right things, always doing the right things…again, only for the most part. But Gilbert Morris’s male characters were a little less than perfect, and also his women characters were a little more on the bold side. 😉 Always good to get the perspective of a male writer!

Dreamy heroes who always do the right thing have their place in light and easy reading, but we all have our failings, and so heroes with character flaws really make for a much more three-dimensional character.

Also, since I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, his House of Winslow series really gave new meaning to what historical settings could mean. The first book in the series starts out on the Mayflower, if memory serves me correctly, with Gilbert Winslow and Humility Cooper (yes, I still remember the names of the first characters in this hundred book series…okay not quite that long, but there’s a lot! …and did he name his first character after himself for any particular reason? Hmmm…), and each subsequent book winds its way throughout history in the lives of their offspring. So many offspring that there was a family tree in the beginning of each book so that you could keep everyone in order.

Gilbert Morris also used real historical events throughout these books, as well as historical characters…I remember Benjamin Franklin having a decent sized role in one or two of them. If I wasn’t hooked on historical fiction before, I certainly was after his series–constantly wondering, did that really happen? or I wonder how accurate that event is?

Most of this reading was done in my later teen years. I’ve tried reading his Appomattox series since , and like Lori Wick, it just didn’t capture me the way that it used to… I found myself skipping sentences and putting it down, not to remember what I was reading or to pick it up again, but still, I think that his House of Winslow series is right up there with my favorites, and forever changed my perspective of what the series could be…for its vivid use of history, as well as its deeper plots and more manly set of characters.

What’s your favorite Gilbert Morris book from the House of Winslow series…or any other for that matter?

Found a fascinating little YouTube interview with Gilbert Morris. He dictates his books and then has someone else write them out, making him an extremely fast writer. Could you dictate your book? I’m seriously wanting to try.


An Aversion to Advertising

If I could afford to pay someone else to market my books for me, I would…I have five children and a German Shepherd…help a sister out!

I’m looking through some websites my publisher sent my way. Has anything worked out especially well for any of you Indie publishers out there?

“Hello friend, have you read Beneath Outstretched Arms yet?”

“Why, yes…and I beta read the sequel. It was even better than the first.”

“How fortunate! …What’s beta read?”


5 Authors in 5 Days & How They’ve Inspired Me: #2 Lori Wick

31yORGTkl0L__UX250_ Lori Wick, was the romance author of my youth… I have to say that I actually hesitated to list Ms. Wick as an author I wanted to write about because I have such mixed feelings about her books today. But back in the day, I read them and LOVED them! I mean I absolutely–read until 4am to finish it, can’t put it down–loved them! The Californian.  The Kensington Chronicles. Swoon! They are the perfect romance starters for the early teens…Exotic places, inspirational stories, and very clean.

She really is such a talented and accomplished author, but about six months ago, my mother and I were at a church garage sale and we found piles and piles of Christian fiction…and among them, Lori Wick and someone named Stephen Bly, who I’d never read before, but discovered I really enjoy. I was thrilled, as I hadn’t read anything of Lori Wick’s for years, and since there were plenty of titles that were new to me, I dove right in. Sadly, I was a little disappointed.

There was a LOT of fluff. A lot. I found myself skipping sentences, then entire paragraphs and even a chapter or two. One of her books didn’t even get me past the first two chapters before I set it aside as too far-fetched and unbelievable. I was really sad, actually. I don’t remember her older books having so much fluff, but perhaps her style has changed. But regardless, I still hail them as being foundational to my early love of reading, and so I wanted to include her here as one of the five authors who inspired me to want to write.

As  much as I love Janette Oke’s books, I think I might actually remember more of Lori Wick’s stories. I can look at some of her older covers and think, oh yes, I know what that one’s about. I can still picture Mikhail playfully running down the beach away from the husband she’d been pressured to marry. The romance between them had been building, so when he caught her, they fell to the ground in laughter…followed shortly after by their first kiss. Be still my young beating heart! I want to write like that. I want to have a story that lasts long after it’s read in the mind and heart of the reader. For that, I will always have a fondness for her books, even if I’ve since moved past them.

But! There’s always my eleven-year-old daughter to consider…it’s only a matter of time and then I’ll be able to enjoy them all over again through her eyes. I can hardly wait!

What do you think of Lori Wick’s books? Do you have a favorite?

YouTube interview I found with Lori Wick.