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Florida, United States
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday's Southern-Style Faith

Our Story Continues ...

Typically, Bipolar Disorder does not rear it's head until a person is in his/her early twenties. But that doesn't mean teenagers are not affected by it. Don't have it. They can and they do. And when they do, the change in moods, the extreme highs and desperate lows, are more frequent. Some teens with bipolar disorder can "cycle" in an hour, though most cycles can be seen within a day or a week.

Now, anyone who has ever reared a child from infancy to adulthood knows that teens are already moody, thanks in part to shifting hormones. But teens with bipolar disorder are even more moody. Hard to imagine, I know. But it's true.

Teens with bipolar disorder will be overly happy. Act silly (like a younger child). Or, they can have a short temper. Have trouble sleeping but not feel tired. Or, they sleep too much and they're still tired. They are often unable to stay focused on one thing for any period of time. They talk really fast but don't stay on subject. Or on task. And, they are more likely to over-focus on sex. Talk about sex. Have sex. And, because they are also apt to do risky things, the likelihood of them doing something sexual and stupid are great.

These children are not just "depressed" ... they are sad. They have stomachaches. Headaches. Their may talk about feelings of guilt. Worthlessness. They overeat. Or, they don't eat enough. They lose all interest in the activities they once loved and/or excelled in.

They think about death and suicide. A lot.

I remember the day I found a drawing Jordynn left behind. Done in black pencil, it showed a dead tree, a dark moon, and a headstone with her name under which she'd written: Death by Suicide.

I thought of the day she and I visited my mother's grave. Jordynn, who had an amazing gift for photography, was taking photos of some of the more interesting headstones, statues, and floral arrangements. I noticed that she'd become fixated on one and, after she had walked away, I ambled over. It was the grave of a young girl, just a little older than herself, who had committed suicide. Why the family thought it necessary to share this, I don't know ... but they did and, for reasons I didn't understand yet, my child was drawn to it. When I found her etching, I felt sick to my stomach. Even more interesting to me was that she had always been adamant that we call her by our last name, but in the picture she used her birth name.

I had a chance to share the drawing with her doctor, but it was long after the fact. Long after the State of Florida and CBC of Central Florida had stepped in and taken her out of our home. Out of our care. Long into the downward spiral of insanity that wrapped itself around our lives. At least for a while.

Bipolar teens can be helped. With therapy and medication. The National Institute of Mental Health, in one of their brochures, talks about the importance of doctors working with family members to help the child through this difficult time. So what do you do, then, when people who know nothing about such an illness presume to remove the child so that you cannot work with the doctors. You cannot help your child.

What do you do when you are forced to watch your child drown and those who are supposed to protect look at you dumbfounded and say, "What water?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday's Talk about a Book?

How about WRITING a book!

If you are a novel writer, check this out:

Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Christian Novelist Retreat
Retreat for beginning and published novelists

October 14-17, 2012

October is the peak season for leaf color in the mountains of western North Carolina and the perfect time for novelists to come together for inspiration and improving on the skills and gifts God has made available to us. We suggest that you have a novel in progress.

All novelists are welcome to come and learn the craft that applies to all novel writing. The faculty is Christian and some emphasis will be directed to the CBA market.

Enrollment limited. Please register early. – Ridgecrest: 1.800.588.7222

Ridgecrest/LifeWay Conference Center, Ridgecrest, NC
(twenty minutes east of Asheville—home of the famous Biltmore House and Gardens)

All sleeping rooms and classes for the Novel Retreat are in
                        Ridgecrest Novelist Pricing:
                        Program Fee - $295 per person when staying on campus.

                         Deluxe Accommodations- $69 per night
                         Meal Package - $96 per person (begin with dinner on Sunday and                                                                                      end with Lunch on Wednesday.)

BLUE RIDGE “Autumn in the Mountain” NOVELIST RETREAT
October 14-17, 2012

CONTESTS - $0-$15 entry fee (DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2012)
Send entries to yvonnelehman3@gmail.com

  1. Best title (no fee) (receive certificate)
  2. Best first sentence (no fee) (receive certificate)
  3. Best opening paragraph ($5) (receive certificate and critique)
Best proposal ($15) Email a synopsis (up to 2 pages, single-spaced) and first 20 pages of the manuscript (double-spaced) – recognition in various categories – state historical or contemporary romance, mystery, suspense, women’s fiction, speculative, mainstream, other (certificates for places, Best-of-All receives tuition scholarship to 2013 Retreat)
  1. Best Finished Unpublished Novel ($15) (tuition, meals, lodging scholarship to 2013 Retreat)
  2. Best First Published novel by a former Novel Retreat attendee ($15) (Plaque)

Winners will be recognized Tuesday Evening after supper.

CRITIQUES - $30 each - RULES: - Critiquer will post when no longer receiving material for critique

1.      You may enter the same material in the Contest and for Critique but only your original UN-critiqued material will be considered in the contest.
2.      Email a synopsis (up to 2 pages, single-spaced) and first 20 pages of the manuscript (double-spaced)
3.      Send a cover sheet with your name, contact information, novel category, title
4.      Ask your critic where to send the $30 check
5.      Select one (or more - $30 each) of the critics:
            Deborah Raney, debraney@mac.com
            Lynette Eason, lynetteeason@gmail.com
            Ray Blackston, RayBlaxton@aol.com
            Ann Tatlock, anntatlock@yahoo.com
            Mark Mynheir, mmynheir@earthlink.net
            Yvonne Lehman, yvonnelehman3@gmail.com 
            Ramona Richards, Ramona@ramonarichards.com
            Your critiques will be returned by email. If you and/or your critic desire to meet face-to-face, you may arrange to meet at mealtimes or at the convenience of the student and faculty member.


SUNDAY – October 14, 2012

2:00-5:00 p.m.            REGISTRATION – Pritchell Hall
4:30 p.m.                    FACULTY MEETING – Mountain Laurel – Level 1 #5512
5:30-6:30 p.m.            SUPPER - Rhododendron Hall

6:45 p.m – Jim Henry Auditorium – in Mountain Laurel

WELCOME – ANNOUNCEMENTS -Yvonne Lehman, Director

PRAISE MUSIC – Janet Powers Roller

KEYNOTE – Mark Mynheir

Meet the Faculty:   Ray Blackston –  Lynette Eason –  Yvonne Lehman –
                                  Mark Mynheir - Deborah Raney – Ken Raney
                                  Ramona Richards - Janet Roller – Ann Tatlock

Get Acquainted - Deborah Raney

MONDAY – October 15, 2012

7:15-8:15 a.m. - BREAKFAST (Rhododendron Hall)

8:30-9:00 a.m
Mountain Laurel Auditorium

Janet Powers Roller

9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Cinderella vs. Trinity: Two Sides of the Same Heroine

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

12:00-1:00 p.m. – LUNCH


1:00-3:00 p.m. - WRITING TIME

3:10-4:10 p.m. - FACULTY-LED WORKSHOPS (see descriptions)
(Mountain Laurel Rooms 1-5, Suite 5512, and Jim Henry Auditorium

1.      Keys to Characterization: Make your minor characters come alive via quirks, habits, and speech patterns  - Ray Blackston (ML 1)
2.      Dueling Dialogue – Lynette Eason (ML 2)
3.      What’s the Big Idea? And how do you develop it? – Yvonne Lehman (ML 5512)
4.      Second Draft: Whipping Your Story into Shape - Mark Mynheir - (JH Auditorium)
5.      Writing Cinematically - Deborah Raney (ML 3)
6.      10 Tips to Winning an Editor’s Heart (and Signature on a Contract) – Ramona Richards (ML 4)
7.      Painting the Landscape: Senses and Setting – Ann Tatlock (ML 5)

4:20-5:20 p.m. - FACULTY-LED WORKSHOPS (see descriptions)
1.      First Person Voice:  Key elements of crafting your novel in the first person voice -  Ray Blackston (ML 1)
2.      The Tapestry of Backstory: How to Weave it Without Tangling the Threads – Lynette Eason – (ML 2)
3.      Raise the Stakes: Create and Sustain Tension – Yvonne Lehman (ML 5512)
4.      Get Your Cops Right! - Mark Mynheir (JH Auditorium)
5.      Surprising Secrets of the Writing Life - Deborah Raney – (ML 3)
6.      Perfect Pitch: 10 Tips on Selling in 50 Words or Less – Ramona Richards (ML 4)
7.      Putting up the Frame - Ann Tatlock (ML 5)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

5:30-6:30 p.m. - SUPPER (Rhododendron Hall)

MONDAY – October 15, 2012

6:45-8:00 p.m. - FACULTY-LED WORKSHOPS (see descriptions)

1.      Crucial Edits before You Submit: Editors and agents are looking for reasons to reject your work, so give them as few reasons as possible –
      Ray Blackston (ML 1)
2.      Subtext – What your Characters are REALLY Saying – Lynette Eason (ML 2)
3.      First Sentence, First Paragraph, First Page – Yvonne Lehman (ML 5512)
4.      Writing Mystery/Suspense – Mark Mynheir (JH Aud)
5.      Checklist for Writing a Winner – Deborah Raney (ML 3)
6.      Ebooks & Covers - They’re Not What You Thought – Ken Raney (ML 5)
7.      What DO They Want?: Editing Your Inspirational Novel for Publication – Ramona Richards (ML 4)

TUESDAY – October 16, 2012

7:15-8:15 a.m. - BREAKFAST (Rhododendron Hall)

Mountain Laurel Auditorium
8:30-9:00 a.m. – Announcements/Miscellaneous
PRAISE & WORSHIP – Janet Roller

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Plot, Structure, and Character Arc

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
12:00-1:00 p.m. – LUNCH


1:00-3:00 p.m. - WRITING TIME

3:10-4:10 p.m. - FACULTY-LED WORKSHOPS (see descriptions)

1.      First Person Voice:  Key elements of crafting your novel in the first person voice  - Ray Blackston (ML 1) Repeat  
2.      Writing Suspense: How to go from Bad to Worse and Make Your Reader Beg for More – Lynette Eason (ML 2)
3.      The Picky Stuff: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate the Positive – Yvonne Lehman (ML 5512)
4.      Get Your Cops Right! – Mark Mynheir (JH Auditorium)
5.      The Business End of Writing - Deborah Raney (ML 3)
6.      Shoot Someone: Ten Tips on Turning Your Middle from Muddle to Magnificent – Ramona Richards (ML 4)
7.      “What’s Happening, Dude?” - Plots and Sub-plots – Ann Tatlock (ML 5)

4:20-5:20 p.m. – FACULTY-LED WORKSHOPS (see descriptions)

1.      Crucial Edits Before you Submit - Ray Blackston (ML 1) Repeat
2.      Developing Dialogue – Lynette Eason (ML 2) – Repeat
3.      The Picky Stuff: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate the Positive – Yvonne Lehman (ML 5512) Repeat
4.      Personality Profiles: Building your Characters from the Ground Up – Mark Mynheir (JH Auditorium)
5.      Ebooks & Covers: They’re Not What You Thought – Ken Raney (ML 3)
6.      Marathon: Finishing Your First Draft in 30 Days or Less – Ramona Richards (ML 4)
7.      Plan Ahead for Promotion: One-on-One Without a Delete Kay – Janet Powers Roller (ML 5) 

5:30-6:30 p.m. - SUPPER (Rhododendron Hall)

7:00 p.m. – Jim Henry Auditorium – Mountain Laurel
AWARDS CEREMONY for Contest Winners

(Get your books ahead of time at LifeWay Boostore)

WEDNESDAY – October 17, 2012

7:15-8:15 a.m. - BREAKFAST (Rhododendron Hall)

Mountain Laurel Auditorium
8:30-9:00 a.m. – Announcements/Miscellaneous

PRAISE & WORSHIP – Janet Roller

9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Ken Raney


11:00 a.m. – CHECKOUT

12:00-1:00 p.m. – LUNCH

Wishing you a safe trip home, blessings in your personal and writing life, and look forward to seeing you again.
                                    Yvonne & faculty


RAY BLACKSTON – www.rayblackston.com   
Ray Blackston’s quirky and comic writing style has been entertaining readers ever since the publication of his award-winning debut novel, Flabbergasted. Released in 2003, Flabbergasted was first noticed at the 2000 Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and was later chosen as a finalist for a Christy Award. Five novels later, Ray is now a frequent speaker and teacher at writers conferences and loves to share what he's learned, whether in the classroom or one-on-one.

Quirks, habits, and speech patterns - Your main characters should talk and act in ways that make them jump off the page. Here's how to do it without Pogo sticks!

CRUCIAL EDITS BEFORE YOU SUBMIT: Editors and agents are looking for reasons to reject your work, so give them as few reasons as possible!

FIRST-PERSON VOICE: Key elements of crafting your novel in the first person voice - Add depth to your story and bring entertainment to your readers by writing skillfully in first-person. Ray has penned five first-person novels, and he will share what he has learned and take any and all questions.

Lynette Eason has written/contracted twenty-three books since 2007. She has thirteen Love Inspired Suspense books on the shelf with  more due to release soon. Lynette also writes for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her current release, WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS hit #8 on the CBA bestsellers list this year. Currently, she is working on her third series for Revell. She has been teaching for more than ten years and is very happy to make the transition from teaching school to teaching writing whenever the opportunity presents. She is married, has two children, and lives in Spartanburg, SC.

SUBTEXT – What your Characters are Really Saying
Come learn how to build your characters from the ground up. Lay your foundation to create a character readers will love. What does an editor  mean when she says your characters aren’t sympathetic? Why should I give the villain a redeeming quality? What do I do when my characters just won’t do what I need them to do? If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions and more, this is the workshop for you. I look forward to seeing you there!

Who says what, how to say, when to say and why they say it. Readers want to fall in love with the characters in your book. Come learn how dialogue can make that happen. Or turn a reader off. With hands-on exercises, writers will enhance beginning or advanced skills as they grow to understand their characters and the dialogue they use.

Writers learn how to weave backstory throughout their story by using a character chart. They will also learn tricks to including backstory in dialogue, setting, and narrative.

Learn what elements make up a rocking, edge of the seat, suspense story. Come prepared for a hands-on experience that you can take home and implement immediately. Workshop will include topics such as: OPEN WITH A BANG - writing the best opening line ever, USE ALL FIVE SENSES: why you need this to carry your suspense forward, DIALOGUE: yes, even your dialogue is important what to say and how to say it, INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CONFLICTS: how to carry the suspense from beginning to end, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IN SUSPENSE: learn how to really mess your characters up only to rescue them by the end of the story—most of the time and only if you want to, END EACH CHAPTER WITH A HOOK and much, much more.

YVONNE LEHMANwww.yvonnelehman.com
Yvonne is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat (www.lifeway.com/novelretreat). She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line, A Knight to Remember (Heartsong), Let it Snow (Heartsong, November 2012), and her 50th novel, Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC (Abingdon). yvonnelehman3@gmail.com

You will discover into which genre your idea or work-in-progress fits. There is a process to finding and developing your ideas. In the first few pages of your story, the groundwork is laid for the entire book. We will talk about setting, characters, descriptions, conflict, theme, plot, and faith. You’ll discover how to be aware of those ingredients and include as many as possible in that all-important first sentence, first paragraph and first page.

The stakes are the meat or the heart of the story. The stakes are what captures the editor’s attention, keeps the reader interested, and makes your book a page-turner. We’re told that we need to raise the stakes in our writing. We have no story without stakes (plural!) In this workshop we will define what is not, and what is a stake. You not only need to establish the stakes in your novel, but discover what is at stake for you, the author, and what is at stake for your reader.

THE PICKY STUFF: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate the Positive – Submit your pages to Yvonne at yvonnelehman3@gmail.com by October 1, 2012 and we’ll look at the picky stuff that makes an editor see you as an amateur. We’ll look at grammar, punctuation, tags, attributions, unnecessary words, adverbs, names, and end up with a polished piece of writing.

FIRST SENTENCE, FIRST PARAGRAPH, FIRST PAGE. We know the importance of the beginning of a book. How do you capture the attention of the editor/reader in that first sentence? What goes into that first paragraph? Then, you’re ready to go! But… to…where? (For best results, submit your first page to Yvonne at yvonnelehman3@gmail.com by October 1, 2012.

Mark Mynheir is a twenty-four-year law enforcement veteran and former homicide detective whose career has included serving as an undercover narcotics agent and a S.W.A.T. team member.   Mark has parlayed his police experiences into a successful speaking and writing career.  He has written articles for Focus on the Family’s Breakaway magazine, Lookout magazine, and Christianfictiononline.com.  He is the also the author of five mystery/suspense novels: Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, and The Night Watchman, which was a Christy Award Finalist, and The Corruptible

Understand the essential elements of Plot, Structure, and Character Arc and how they interweave to strengthen your story. 

Get advice and worksheets from some of the top editors and writers in the CBA on everything from grammar to POV that will help keep your manuscript off of the dreaded slush pile. 

The Cliché Cop in literature and on television—alcoholic, divorced, cynical, and mildly disturbed—has, unfortunately, a strong basis in reality and is the direct result of subjecting a normal human being to ten, twenty, or even thirty years of law enforcement.  Learn the psychological stages police officers go through in their career and how that knowledge can be used to make compelling, believable police characters in any story.

Learn the four basic personality types—Feeler, Driver, Analyzer, and Elitist— and how to incorporate their traits into your characters by understanding how the different personalities think, act, speak, dress, and react under stress.    

DEBORAH RANEY - www.deborahraney.com
DEBORAH RANEY is the author of more than twenty novels. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her newest books, the Hanover Falls Novels, are from Howard/Simon & Schuster. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small-town life in Kansas.

By starting every scene with a dynamite sentence, you can make your novel come alive for your reader. Using this trick, Deborah will explore how writing a novel that reads like a movie changes telling to showing, deepens characterization, makes your settings a character in themselves, and facilitates many other secrets of strong writing.

Little-known facts about what a working writer's daily life is really like. Did you know that much of a writer's day is spent doing things besides writing? Do you know why your agent earns his/her keep? What are the pitfalls of fame and the myths of fortune? How do you deal with the green-eyed monster––yours and fellow writers'? How does becoming a writer threaten your family life and life as you knew it before you were a writer? All this and much more, including what to do about it all!

Ten tips from contest judges for writing a book that’s destined to capture a loyal reader following—and find favor with contest judges.

A flourishing career as a writer necessitates a business-like approach to your work. Beginning with tips for an “attitude adjustment,” Deborah will reveal some basic steps that can help you move from dabbling as a hobby writer to being a successful working writer. Topics for discussion include scheduling writing time, organizing office space, record keeping, perfecting the craft, self-promotion and a Q&A session to answer your specific questions (NOTE: This is not a business accounting or tax law class.)

Ken Raney is president of Clash Creative, Inc., a producer of illustration and graphic design. He also owns Clash Entertainment, Inc., producer of www.clashentertainment.com, an entertainment portal website for Christian teens featuring media news, reviews, and interviews for books, comics, music, movies, careers, and gaming. Raney is the author/illustrator of two children's picture books and has over 35 years of experience in graphic design, illustration, advertising and marketing. He and his wife, novelist Deborah Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas.

Every writer will eventually need to either hire a designer or learn to be one. This session will help writers understand some basic design principles for designing professional looking business cards, newsletters, blogs and websites, bookmarks, postcards, e-mail signatures, ads, and much more. We will also explore some of the easily accessible online resources for writers such as templates, themes, stock photography, fonts, photo-manipulation programs, etc. This is designed to be very practical and user-friendly even for non-techies.

Cover designs for eBooks require some key considerations vs. the typical print book cover. Whether you're hiring a designer or attempting to design your own cover, make sure yours get noticed for the right reasons! Join illustrator/designer Ken Raney as we look at the design considerations for a compelling eBook cover that gets noticed, communicates well, and looks as professional as the writing inside. We will look at typography, stock photography, illustration, and other considerations including some case histories for a strong eBook covers. This class will prove helpful to all levels of writer–from beginner to seasoned pro.

Ramona Richards, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction at Abingdon Press, has more than 25 years experience in magazine and book publishing. She has been an editor for Thomas Nelson, Rutledge Hill Press, and Ideals. The author of seven novels, two books of devotions, and numerous magazine articles, Ramona is a frequent workshop speaker. In 2011 she taught at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Write to Publish, the Carolina Christian Writers Conference, and the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. Information about Ramona and her work can be found at www.ramonarichards.com.

Ten reasons that Cinderella and Trinity (from The Matrix) aren’t that different and how those similarities can turn a heroine into a character that will win the hearts of readers and editors alike. 

This “Top Ten” countdown focuses on what editors and agents look for in a prospective writer’s work and attitude. Drawn from 30 years’ experience as a professional editor, this is practical advice presented with humor and (I hope) wisdom. (novice)

Ten suggestions that will help you perfect your “elevator pitch.” These will help you refine the high concept in your book and suggest ways to practice. Finally, they’ll help you eliminate those inevitable nerves when approaching an editor and make the best of your ten-minute session. Bring those pitches with you! (novice & intermediate)

Editors don’t look for a reason to buy the novel you’ve struggled with for months—or years! They look for a reason to reject it. Don’t give them one. This workshop provides a glimpse from behind an editor’s desk: what they look for, why talent is not enough to get your manuscript published, and traps to avoid in such areas as format, presentation, and the development of character and story arcs. (intermediate & advanced)

Every novelist struggles sooner or later with a “middle malfunction.” In this workshop, I offer ten work-horse tips and writing exercises for revitalizing a droopy middle or jumpstarting a stalled one. Included are such suggestions as: Shoot Someone. Literally, if you have to. Chart Your Course. Get out that spreadsheet program . . . Fight Club. In other words, up the stakes on the outcome of conflict. (intermediate & advanced)

If you’ve ever thought, “I can write better than that!” then this workshop is for you. A lot of people have great ideas and start a book, but never finish. Some even enter “book in a month” contests, then stall out after only a few chapters. This workshop will provide readers interested in writing as well as experienced authors the guidelines necessary for finishing the first draft of a novel in 30 days or less. (all levels)

Janet Powers Roller has been a Christian speaker, singer and writer since being named Miss South Carolina 1997.  Her testimony and talent has afforded her many opportunities with audiences of all sizes.  A recent transplant to Forest City, NC, Janet and her husband enjoy the adventures of parenthood with their two children, Sam and Darby.  She is a Music Director, PTO President and stay-at-home mom (who rarely stays at home).

PLAN AHEAD FOR PROMOTION: ONE-ON-ONE WITHOUT THE DELETE KEY will cover some of the basics of self-promotion.  From websites and business cards to getting and leading an interview, Janet will cover some basic (and not-so-basic) ways to build presence and get your message "out there".  Writing the book is great; getting people to want to buy it is another!  Get ready for a fun, informative and eye-opening session with tips everyone can use.

Ann is a  novelist whose books have received numerous awards, including the Christy Award and the Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media. Most recently, her novel Promises to Keep was named by Booklist Magazine as one of the top ten historical novels of the year. Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville NC

Even if you're a "seat-of-the-pants" writer, you'll need to make some definite decisions before you jump into the story. We'll talk about such aspects of novel-writing as genre, theme, POV, and outlining, and why these are important to pin down before you begin.

To write a novel is to create a world. Learn to use your senses to create a vivid setting for your readers to “live in.”

Novels contain not only plots but sub-plots, all of which are woven together to create a compelling story. In addition to learning the major plot models, you’ll learn the basics of sub-plotting and how to use these interwoven story lines to strengthen your novel and keep your readers reading.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern

When I was a young teen, a preteen even, my friends and I made our own entertainment. We collected magazines, flipped pages, cut out pictures and words and phrases from ads and articles, and then pasted them onto poster board.

Essentially, we made collages.

What those poster boards revealed was who we were. What we thought. How we felt about life and such. Sometimes those revelations were silly. Other times deep. Brooding. The older we got, the more fashion oriented they became. Eventually, they faded altogether.

We became too old to find such creative ways of expressing ourselves.

A year and a half ago I began receiving O Magazine. For the longest time, I didn't know why. Who had sent me this subscription. Then, just before Christmas 2011, I received a card in the mail letting me know my good friend Allison Bottke was the sender and that she was sending another years subscription.

I've been pretty busy this past year; the magazines were flipped through, but not really read. Then, yesterday as Tropical Storm Debby beat down on Florida, I gathered a stack of them and started reading.

A memory of clipping and pasting washed over me.

I'm too old for making poster boards, but I'm not too old for journaling. I started cutting. I went to the office and pulled my journal from its place on my desk. The double-sided tape from its place. I returned to one of the family room sofas (the one nearest the picture windows looking out over an ever-rising lake) and started creatively sticking pictures and words and phrases to pages.

One of those "phrases" reads: WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE.

I taped it to the top of a page and decided I would write what I know for sure, one thing at a time. Not to be hurried. Not to be about others but about me. 

I wanted the first thing I wrote not to be something like "That Jesus loves me."

Even though I know He does. For sure. That's more about who Jesus is.

After a while, after pondering, I wrote the first thing I knew for sure: "That I cannot wait for my grandson to be born."

At the end of nearly two very difficult years, this baby is Jesus reminding me how much he loves me. He will bring laughter back to my life. And, prayerfully, he will bring healing. And, the truth about me is that I have been so broken and bruised over these past two years--by Jordynn, by DCF, by Community Based Care of Central Florida, and by certain members of Jordynn's bio-family. Ripped to shreds. Left to bleed on the floor without care. Without compassion. Without pity.

Because of them, I have been afraid to love--to fully love--those I call my own. My children. My grandchildren. My friends and loved ones.

But this child ... 

So, what would be the first thing you wrote if you knew something for sure?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday's Southern-Style Faith: Our Story Continues

There is more to borderline than the few things I mentioned last week. Borderline is probably the most difficult of all the personality disorders.

Those who love people with BPD (borderline personality disorder), may see dramatic shifts in self-image. Goal shifts. Value shifts. Vocational shifts. First they want to be an astronaut, then a secretary, then a stay-at-home mom, next a crossing guard. Tomorrow ... a nun. Their sexual identity changes. Their peers. Teens with BPD can change from hanging out only with the good kids, to hanging out with the hoodlums. They are needy and then, the next minute, they are the avengers of all wrongs. Sometimes they see themselves only as bad. Evil. Other times they are nonexistent. If the patient is in school, school can be a disaster. If they are adults who work ... then work is a ...disaster. They can also flip from happy as anything to ... angry as anything. Over ... nothing.

Living with a borderline is an exercise is patience. Heartache. There's simply nothing quite like it.

What causes BPD?

Well, that's a good question. We don't know. Doctors don't know. Researchers don't know. But there are theories. Genetics? Early childhood development with family, friends, other children. Children who are left to "cope" or "survive" are likely to develop BPD. Sexual abuse could be another factor. In other words, there is no single factor. It's complicated. And good chance, a parent with BPD will pass BPD to his/her kids.

How is BPD treated?

Another good question. Long-term psychotherapy. But, of course, the therapist should be trained in dealing with BPD. There are also meds to help. Of course, you have to take the meds. And, if you are a child in the state of Florida and you are under the care of DCF or CBC of Central Florida, you get to choose whether or not you want to take the meds. For this or for Bipolar disorder. Actually, for any disorder. Children have the rights. Children. The way they allow kids to run the show is ... crazy. Crazier than trying to explain BPD.

There's more, of course. Much more. So ... let's talk about that later.

Thank you for being interested in knowing more about this personality disorder. Take a moment to imagine that suddenly your child shifts from being happy to lucky to ... nothing makes sense. Nothing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday's Talk About A Book

This past week my latest work, Waiting for Sunrise, had its "blog tour."

A blog tour is a ... well ... tour ... in which readers ... yeah, blog ... about your book.

There were some wonderful reviews out there for this novel. By and large, the readers understood the issues of mental health, what happens when childhood is interrupted by adult moments, and how later on in life, those interruptions will rear their heads and say, "Hey! Deal with me!"

A few readers did not understand. How is it, they wondered, that Patsy (the protagonist in the story) could have such a loving husband and family, children by the number, good friends, active social life ... and still be unhappy???

Well, let me ask a question: how is it that some of the wealthiest people in the world are the saddest? They have money enough to buy happiness, don't they? Beautiful homes. Paid for homes! Children who are in some of the best private schools in the world. Spouses who are as lovely to look at as they.

They belong to all the best social clubs, eat in the finest restaurants, shop in the best stores. What's the problem here?

Well, I don't know ... but maybe it's chemical. Or, maybe there is a nagging memory working its way to the surface that says, "Deal with me! Deal with me, now!"

My mother had such a memory. She never revealed to me what it was, but when she cried for seemingly no reason, she alluded to it. Never enough to reveal much ... but enough that I knew how raw the memory was. How the wound never healed. Maybe never would.

Childhood should never be interrupted by adult junk, but it often is. We--as a culture--have decided to introduce children to adult situations way too soon.

Do you remember when certain shows could not be shown until after 9:00 at night? Sometimes later? Do you remember when the "bad words" and the "adult issues" were kept for movies, and even then, sparingly. Now, even their cartoons hint at things most adults don't want to think about.

We've robbed our children of their childhood. We adults. We who should know better.

Eventually, they'll have to deal with it.

My prayer, and one of the points of the book, is that through Christ all things are held together (even memories) and all things are possible (like healing).

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. ~~ Jesus.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

Great-Aunt Edna's Homemade Ice Cream

8 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 gallon whole milk
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 Tbs. vanilla

Blend eggs in a blender.
Take about 1 quart of the milk and warm on stove top. Add eggs so that eggs will be cooked well. Stir.

Allow to cool by placing in ice water for about fifteen minutes and stirring or by placing in the refridgerater for at least 24 hours.

In old-fashioned homemade ice cream churn: pour mixture into metal container, add sugar, Eagle Brand, vanilla, and the rest of the milk. Insert "beater bar." Place metal container in the "bucket," pack in crushed ice and rock salt (use the directions on the box of rock for best results).

Start churning and don't stop until ice cream reaches your desired consistency.

For fun, add fresh fruit or other flavorings. My absolute worst memory in this arena is the time we made "peppermint" ice cream. Tasted like Pepto-Bismol! Yuck!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday's Southern-Style Tune

Oh, just for the heck of it (after all, the first day of summer is nearly here!), turn up the volume and allow yourself to remember when Mungo Jerry had the summertime hit from 1970. (1970???)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday's Musing on All Things Southern

Does anyone make homemade ice cream any more?

And I don't mean with these modern homemade ice cream makers like the one pictured here. I'm not even completely sure how these work, but I'm thinking you throw in some ingredients and push a button. All of this is done from the comfort of your kitchen counter top, whatcha wanna bet?

No, no, no. I'm talking family in the backyard. I'm talking your grandmother's or your great-grandmother's family recipe that includes enough eggs to jump start a heart attack. I'm thinking barefoot children running through the yard, hair glistening with sweat. Laughter echoing between the tall pines, which sway in a late-afternoon breeze. Dogs yapping.

Adults have gathered in lawn chairs on the patio or back porch. Most are holding sweating glasses of sweet iced tea. They are all, including the men, wearing bermuda shorts. Keds. Gentle chatter slips from one to another. An occasional chuckle.

I'm thinking 1960s, 1970s. I'm remembering my childhood.

Hardly a summer's weekend went by without the old churn being brought out. Rock salt and a bag of ice being bought. The decision as to whether or not to have plain vanilla or to add fresh fruit was left to the adults. After all, they did all the work.

Sometimes in shifts. You can only turn the handle for so long before your arms get tired.

In the end, all the effort, all the wait is worth it. Nothing on this planet tasted as good as that ice cream. Ben & Jerry's, Breyers, even Haagen Dazs can come close to the flavor and--more importantly--the love within one dish of homemade ice cream. Never mind the ga-zillion calories.

So, does anyone make old-fashioned homemade ice cream any more? And, if so, can I come over next time you do?

[Got a favorite homemade ice cream story you'd like to share? How about a recipe? I'm going to try like crazy to find my great-aunt Edna's recipe from the stacks and I'll post it on Wednesday.]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday's Southern-style Faith (Our story continues)

[I've taken a few weeks off from telling our story for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that I traveled to three states in one month.]

To fully understand our story, one must first understand the dynamics of various mental health issues. I've already talked about BD, or bipolar disorder. (Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone.*) 5.7 million Americans lives with BD. Quadruple that for an idea of how many loved ones are affected. My husband and I are two of them.

Now I want to share just a little with you about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Years ago, a friend of mine--a psychologist--said to me, "BPD is the most complex, and the most difficult to treat of all the personality disorders."

Many of you probably have never heard of it. What is it? Simply put: The main feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder are also usually very impulsive.**

Children are not diagnosed with BPD, however they can be diagnosed with emerging BPD. In other words, "Legally, I cannot put this under diagnosis, but ... dollars to donuts, here's what we're looking at."

Before I talk further about our own story with BPD, I want to share another nugget of information from PsychCentral's website (http://psychcentral.com/).

Take a minute, please, and read:

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, emotion, thinking and behavior. Someone with borderline personality disorder will be very sensitive to things happening around them in their environment. They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger, even when faced with a realistic separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans. For instance, becoming very angry with someone for being a few minutes late or having to cancel a lunch date. People with borderline personality disorder may believe that this abandonment implies that they are “bad.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Their frantic efforts to avoid abandonment may include impulsive actions such as self-mutilating or suicidal behaviors.

Unstable and intense relationships.
People with borderline personality disorder may idealize potential caregivers or lovers at the first or second meeting, demand to spend a lot of time together, and share the most intimate details early in a relationship. However, they may switch quickly from idealizing other people to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not “there” enough. These individuals can empathize with and nurture other people, but only with the expectation that the other person will “be there” in return to meet their own needs on demand. These individuals are prone to sudden and dramatic shifts in their view of others, who may alternately be seen as beneficient supports or as cruelly punitive. Such shifts other reflect disillusionment with a caregiver whose nurturing qualities had been idealized or whose rejection or abandonment is expected.
Caregivers. Or adopted parents. Or those with permanent (the most ridiculous word I've ever typed in connected with this issue) guardianship. 

If you have read these words above, then I would venture to say you now know more than those who work for DCF (Department of Children and Families--another ridiculous word) and especially those of CBC of Central Florida

But they aren't paid to understand. They aren't paid to even care enough to read up on it. They, like the disease, are paid to destroy ... and destroy they have. Perhaps even more than the illness.

And I am left to wonder: what may have happened had they taken a minute to fully understand mental health issues? Because these who are so diagnosed, and especially these children, are by no means guilty of any crime. They are not demons. They are not "crazy." 

But neither are the caregivers, parents, and guardians. 

Yet, we have become the victims.

*Taken from:  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1BIPOLAR_ADULT.shtml
** Taken from: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/symptoms-of-borderline-personality-disorder/

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday's Talk about a Book

Portion of an ad for Waiting for Sunrise

Waiting for Sunrise has officially released ...
...and with it, a blog tour, reviews, and a special contest from me.

Want to win a Kindle Fire? It's easy.

Just go to: http://www.evamarieeversonauthor.com/#!kindle-contest

Follow the easy-as-pie instructions (as many times as you'd like!) to enter to win.

And ... if you happen to read Waiting for Sunrise and would like to send your thoughts along, I'd be thrilled to hear what you have to say.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern

I stood before the nearly 200 conferees, ready to give the opening keynote at the Write to Publish 2012 conference. Over the past twenty-four hours, this Southern girl, in the midst of more Northerners than she could count, became very much aware of the differences in dialect and ways with words. More than once I'd had to explain "what I meant by that."

"I don't believe I've ever heard that saying," someone would remark, and in such a way as to ask me to explain further.

So I began by telling the group about my life growing up in a small Mayberry-type town where there were primarily two choices when it came to religion; you were either Baptist or Methodist. (Yes, we had other denominations there, but that came later on in my life and it didn't add to the story I was about to tell, so ...)

"On Sundays, if we Methodists were lucky, the preacher cut his sermon short by a half a point so we could make it to the Town House Restaurant before the Baptists," I said. "Now, the Town House had these incredible cinnamon rolls that came to the table before the meal, along with the rolls and the cornbread."

I went on to talk about eating at (what we often called) "Tredeau's" for the family who owned the restaurant and about going home (a second of several options) to Mama's fried chicken or a simmering pot roast.

Rose Chandler Johnson
After my keynote was done I spied a woman--short, blue-eyed, and with soft graying hair--heading toward me. Her face looked as though she were about to burst with some amazing information. "Eva Marie," she drawled, "where did you grown up?"

Instantly recognizing her Low Country accent, I told her I had grown up in a little town called Sylvania, Georgia.

"My gracious alive," she said, her eyes dancing. "I grew up in Sardis, Georgia! I thought I recognized your accent ... but when you said 'the Town House' and talked about those cinnamon rolls, I just knew we had to have grown up near each other!"

Sardis and Sylvania, you see, are about 15 minutes apart. Twenty on a bad day. Rose (my new friend) and I were joined at the hip after that. We knew all the same people, remembered all the same stories. It was like a trip back home to have a cup of coffee with my dear friend Rene Forehand. Rene knows everyone! She knows the history of everyone! She is a walking Peyton Place encyclopedia, let me tell you.

To some degree, so was Rose.

So am I.

Oh, I love this about the South! We know our own people! And we know our own stories. Even the things we'd just as soon forget, we speak of with great story-telling abilities.

We are Southerners, you see. We are family!