My Current Works in Progress

Blog Hop for Writers

This is the sixth and final week in the blog hop I’m hosting for writers. Our topic this week is current work(s) in progress. If you’d like to share your current WIP with us, write a post and then come back and link in by clicking on the graphic above. If you’re a reader, click on the graphic and check out what authors are working on. We hope you’ll follow our blogs so that when our books are published, you’ll be among the first to know 🙂

My last post was about the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series I’m working on along with five other authors. You can find more information here: San Francisco Wedding Planner.

In this blog hop, I’ve written about Anna, (Olga’s mother) one of my favorite characters from Olga’s Discovery, which is a full-length historical fiction novel I’m in the middle of writing.  Here’s the synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old Olga Tymchuk, a newly graduated teacher, eagerly anticipates marrying her fiancee, Viktor, in July 1959. However, before they marry, Olga is committed to teaching for a year in Glendale, Alberta as a requirement for the bursary she received in university. Viktor and Olga are separated when Viktor accepts a challenging job as a scientific researcher for the National Research Council in Ontario.

Olga is enjoying a challenging first year of teaching when Viktor is injured in a chemical accident. He seems to be recovering well, but then Olga receives a telegram that will change her life forever. Olga is drawn into a search for the truth, which forces her to deal with uncooperative hospital officials, death threats, and a sudden disappearance.

I’m also putting together a Twitter manual for writers. There are many different ways to share information now and I’m researching several options to share this information and make it practical.

Cover for Cecile's Christmas MiracleMy other project will be a fiction series about Cecile and Colin, characters from my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle. Cecile has decided spending Christmas in the desert doesn’t have to be depressing and Colin is on his way to join Cecile. However, they haven’t seen each other for over a year. Will the attraction between them endure? There is also the threat of the clinic being closed, and the village being resettled. What part should expatriates play in solving political issues?

If you have questions about any of my works in progress, please ask me in the comments below. Thanks 🙂


Update on the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series

Cover for Wedding Planner Series

The San Francisco Wedding Planner series, a light romance published by Helping Hands Press, is one of my current works in progress. There are six of us participating in this project. Volume one introduced the series with each of the participating authors writing one of the chapters in the volume. Can you guess which chapter I wrote?

The San Francisco Wedding Planner cover for volume two: A Change in TimeJen Cudmore wrote volume two: A Change in Time. When Heather goes out on her first date with orthopedic surgeon Bryan Tate, her hopes of a nice evening are quickly dashed. Raul’s makeover is a little over-the-top, her flashy mother’s jealousy makes Bryan uncomfortable, Mario’s flirtatious interference only adds pressure, and Skye’s family problems require extra help. With Bryan recovering from a broken engagement and Heather’s busy work schedule, she’s certain there just isn’t a chance for romance between them. But life is always changing. Do they have enough in common to at least be friends?

Wedding Planner 3This week Patti J. Smith released volume three: An Affair to Remember. Donovan’s Wedding Service takes on the impossible. Failure to meet the outlandish demands could result in dire consequences. Drama is the name of the game as Heather faces her biggest challenge while her relationship with Bryan reaches new heights and a close friendship verges on collapse.

I am working on a prequel to the series which will tell the back story of Heather Donovan. (Other authors will be writing about other characters.) I will also be writing volume 7 of the series.

You can purchase your copy of volume 1 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Volumes 2 and 3 are currently available on Amazon.


My Favourite Genre

Ben_tnsMy favourite genre (to read and write) is historical fiction. My fascination with this genre was more than likely cultivated by the many missionary biographies I read as a child. I loved “visiting” different cultures and learning spiritual lessons along with the main characters. Historical fiction provides the same opportunities, but the main character may or may not be a person of faith. The main difference between these two genres is that biographies are non-fiction and historical fiction is, of course, fiction. Both biographies and historical fiction usually focus on a time period at least twenty-five years before the current time.

Dictionary.com defines historical fiction as:

“the genre of literature, film, etc., comprising narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.”
Wikipedia adds:
“Historical fiction presents a story that takes place during a notable period in history, and often during a significant event in that period. Setting usually takes priority in a work of historical fiction, and the author should be making some sort of statement or observation about the period where and/or when the work is taking place. Historical fiction often presents events from the point of view of fictional characters of that time period. Events portrayed in historical fiction must adhere to the laws of nature.”
Some people may think that because a story is fiction, not much research is required. This is absolutely false, at least if you want a realistic story. In order to write powerful historical fiction, you not only need an interesting plot and a believable main character, but you also need to know about the food, clothing, houses, careers/work, and expectations of the specific era you’re writing about. There’s nothing worse for a reader than being “yanked” out of the story by details that are inaccurate. For example, if your story takes place in the early 1900s, no seat belts would be used since seat belts were not installed in vehicles until the late 1950’s.
When we write historical fiction, we are able to use actual historical events as the backdrop for our story and create our own scenes and “extras” to make the story come alive. Some of the people in our story may be actual historical figures (as long as we represent them accurately), but other characters will be fictional. For example, the backdrop of my work in progress, Olga’s Discovery, is the invention and controversial introduction of birth control.
Some of my favourite authors and books in this genre are:
  • The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
  • The Zion Chronicles (series) by Brock and Bodie Thoene
  • Snapshots in History (series) by Murray Pura
  • Heirs of Acadia (series) by Isabella and T. Davis Bunn
  • In the Shadow of the Mountain (series) by Clint Kelly
What’s your favourite genre, and why? I look forward to hearing from you.
NOTE: This is the 5th post in a blog hop I’m hosting for writers. If you’d like to participate or want to read about other authors’ favourite genres, click on the link below.
Blog Hop for Writers

Advice to Beginning Writers

NOTE: This is week 4 of our Writers’ Blog Hop. The theme this week is advice I’d give to a newbie writer. Click on the link below to check out what other writers have to say about the topic.

Button for blog hopDear Beginning Writer,

It wasn’t too long ago that I stood in your shoes. Although I’ve been an avid reader who enjoyed writing for most of my life, I never considered myself a writer until after I attended my first writers’ conference. The best way for me to share advice with you is to tell you a bit about my personal journey as a writer.

I entered The Word Guild’s God Uses Ink contest (Now called Fresh Ink Novice Writing Contest) in 2009 and won first prize in my age category. The prize was free registration for the Write!Canada Conference. I stepped out in faith, booked my flight and attended a conference where I knew no one.

At the conference I learned many things:

  • Writing your book is the “easy” part
  • There are several avenues to having your work published
  • It’s important to start building a platform before you publish anything
  • It’s helpful to belong to organizations where you can interact with other writers and learn from their mistakes
  • If God has called you to write, be obedient and walk through the doors He opens for you

I still remember feeling like I was walking in a fog on a dark night. I knew I was supposed to be at the conference, but I had no clue what to do next. People at the conference were friendly enough, but most of them were from Ontario. I wondered what I would do for support after the conference.

After I arrived back home I decided to do what I could. I sought out support from groups I could access online. The groups I linked up with are:

I didn’t think I had time for a blog, so I joined Twitter and began using it as a mini-blog. I also started a personal Facebook account and enjoyed the opportunities to interact with my friends and family. A few months later, I decided to start a blog as a way to share information from my work as a school board trustee with Northern Lights School Division No. 69.

Testimony January 2010One of the most helpful books I read was Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz. One piece of advice she gives is to research markets, write, submit, and start over. In other words, you don’t sit around waiting to see if one piece is accepted before you start on another piece. And if your piece is rejected by one market, you do some more research and send it out again. I started my journey to publication with the winning entry I wrote for the Word Guild contest. It took several months (and many rejections), but my memoir piece entitled Gifts from a Loving God was accepted by Testimony magazine in November 2009 and published in January 2010. It was subsequently reprinted by two Sunday School papers.

Something else I found helpful was Brian Henry’s Canadian Writer’s Contest Calendar. I purchased my first copy in 2010 and began entering contests as a way to learn how to follow writing guidelines and also to receive honest feedback on my writing. The contest I enjoyed the most was Fiction in Five, where I won several prizes and had a few of my short stories published. One of those short stories became the basis for my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miraclewhich was just published in December 2013.

Cecile's Christmas Miracle Book Cover Although I live in a fairly remote rural area, I’ve been able to take advantage of several writing courses which have helped me hone my skills. The Christian PEN offers courses throughout each year, where lessons are sent by e-mail. Class members are added to a Yahoo listserv and able to send in homework assignments, ask questions, and interact with each other. Long Ridge Writers’ Group and the Institute of Children’s Literature offer writing courses where you receive materials in the mail and may either submit by mail or e-mail. In these courses you are matched with a published author who acts as your instructor and gives you detailed feedback and suggestions.

My writing journey continues with many ups and downs. My prayer is that I’ll be faithful to God’s calling on my life. The rest is up to Him.

If you have questions or suggestions you’ve found helpful, please leave me a comment. Thanks 🙂


Anna Tymchuk – My Hero in Olga’s Discovery

NOTE: This is the third topic in a blog hop I’m hosting for writers. To check out what other writers have to say on this topic, click on the button below:Blog Hop for WritersToday I would like to introduce you to Anna Tymchuck, a minor character from my historical fiction book, Olga’s Discovery. The stock photo below is exactly how I envision Anna. The story is set in the late 1950’s. Anna lives on a farm in rural Alberta. I’m aiming to have the book published in 2015.

Happy senior woman

She may be diminutive, but Anna is no pushover. Her graying hair is culture_heritage_201050_tnsusually pulled up in a bun, covered with a kerchief. Smile wrinkles line her face, belying the hardships she’s experienced in life. Blue-gray eyes twinkle with delight as she observes her nearly adult children. Her non-Ukrainian friends complain that she always smells like garlic. She just smiles and tells them they don’t know what good food tastes like. People who know her well will tell you she’s always humming. She claims it keeps her sane.

BibleAnna starts and ends her day with prayer. Her prayer book is tucked into her apron and is read often throughout the day. As the matriarch of her family, she takes her role of spiritual leader seriously. God is not some remote being to her, but a personal friend who walks close beside her each day. She prays often that her children will also develop personal relationships with their Heavenly Father. Although she trusts God, she does worry, about many things. Especially her children.

golden_wheat_icon_tnsShe spends many hours in the kitchen, but she’s equally at home around horses or doing field work. Just don’t ask her to drive a truck or tractor. She claims they have a mind of their own and are dangerous. Her hands are calloused and rough, her arms muscular, from a life of hard work. From the time she was a young child, Anna worked alongside other members of her family to eke out an existence in the Ukraine. She was courted by Wasyl Tymchuk, a tall, handsome young man from her village. At their marriage ceremony, she pledged to love, honor and obey him until death. They emigrated to Alberta, Canada, where they homesteaded and started raising their family. One tragic day, Anna had to lay Wasyl’s body to rest after a tractor crushed the life out of him. Despite the loss of her husband and the realities she faced raising four children by herself, she is a kind, gentle, godly woman.

b6_3d_coffee03_tnsPeople in the community of Gillmore look to her for friendship, wisdom, and grounding. If they need advice, she is the first person they seek out. The coffee is always on and Anna stops whatever she’s doing to sit and visit with whoever drops by to see her. Her pampushke (yeast buns filled with a poppy seed and fruit filling) are legendary.

pillar_column_108209_tnsAnna is not one of the primary characters in Olga’s Discovery, but she is twenty-one-year-old Olga’s (the main character) mother. Olga loves and respects her mother, but doesn’t share her mother’s view of God. This is a source of great concern to Anna. Throughout the story, she gently, and not so gently, reminds Olga that she needs to nurture a close relationship with God. As Olga’s life unravels, she leans more and more on her mother to be her pillar. Anna is able to offer her daughter strength because of her own faith.

If you want to stay informed about my writing and works in progress, follow me on Facebook.

 


Blog Tour

Today I’m participating in a blog tour at the request of my friend and fellow author, Tracy Krauss. “Participating authors answer a series of questions about their writing, sharing their journey with other authors and interested folk.”

What are you working on right now? My first novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, was just launched on December 5th. Besides spreading the word that it’s now available, I’m also working on a full-length novel, Olga’s Discovery, a Christian historical fiction work. My main character, Olga, is a first year teacher in rural Alberta. Her fiancee, Viktor, is far across the country in Ontario pursuing his dream as a science researcher. A serious accident, a mysterious and unexpected death, and a private investigation all challenge Olga to figure out who she really is and what she wants in life.

How does it differ from other works in its genre? The story is a mixture of historical fiction, romance, and mystery.

Why do you write what you do? Writing often helps me process things in my own life. I hope it will do the same for my readers. Writing is something that I not only enjoy, but I also feel compelled to do. I believe God created each one of us with unique abilities, experiences, and messages. I want to be faithful sharing my unique messages with people God brings me into contact with, whether face to face, on the internet, or through a story.

How does your writing process work? When I write, I generally work best if I have an overarching outline or plot. I need to know where I’m starting, a few major points in the middle, and where I’m going to end up. The details come as I write. I’ll do some preliminary research before I start writing, but my major research comes as I’m in the process of writing and I need details to fill out my story. The hardest part for me is getting the first draft written down. Once that’s done, I enjoy the process of editing and revising. I find it easiest to “write” at the keyboard of my computer. The only time I write with pen and paper is when I’m writing in my journal.

Look for these authors participating in the blog hop next week:

[polldaddy poll=7607007]

What do you look for in a story?


Book Review: Fatherless – Ruth L. Snyder

Fatherless by Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner
Fatherless by Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner

Title: Fatherless

Authors: Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner

Pages: 431

Publisher: FaithWords (a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

Date of Publication: January 2013

What will our world be like in 2042 if we follow the current moral trajectory? Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner team up to “vividly imagine a future in which present-day trends come to sinister fruition.” If you’re looking for a compelling story that will make you think, read Fatherless.

Julia Davidson, a journalist who is struggling to revive her career, is sent on a mission to uncover facts about a presidential candidate’s platform. In the process, she reconnects with a former classmate, Angie, and her husband Kevin as well as Kevin’s handsome assistant, Troy. Angie, Kevin, and Troy’s belief system is diametrically opposed to Julia’s. Angie has given up a lucrative career to stay home and raise children – several children, including a daughter society sees as a “debit”. Instead of being angry and bitter, Angie is contented and fulfilled. As Julia pursues her story, she digs up “dirt” on Kevin. Will Julia protect Angie and her family, or will she choose to expose Kevin and revive her reputation as an award-winning journalist?

Matthew Adams has always wanted to become a professor. Instead he has been saddled with the care of his mother and her deteriorating mind. His religious upbringing taught him that assisted suicide was wrong, but society shows that “transitions” are best for everyone. What should Matt do? Will he follow his heart or his mind?

The United States are at a critical crossroads. “For the first time in human history, the economic pyramid has flipped: the feeble old now outnumber the vigorous young, and this untenable situation is intensifying a battle between competing agendas.” Kevin sets out to unveil facts about “bright spots” and gain support for his proposal. Will he be able to persuade the presidential candidate and his supporters, or will his political career come to a sudden ignoble end?

Once I started this book it was hard to put it down. Even my husband, who rarely reads fiction, was captivated by the story. We were both challenged to consider the path our culture is on and to reexamine not only the basis for our beliefs, but how we can encourage others to make godly choices.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Childless is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2013 and Godless will be available in the summer of 2014.


A Novel Challenge – Ruth L. Snyder

I took the plunge! I have signed up for a course with the Long Ridge Writers Group with the goal of writing a novel. The course assignments are:

  • Novel ideas: identifying genre, main characters, and general plot
  • Create your main characters
  • Plan your plot
  • Write your first chapter
  • Create chapter two
  • Write chapter three
  • Revise chapter one
  • The business of selling and publishing

I’m looking forward to this new challenge as most of my writing is non-fiction. My plot idea is a science-based historical mystery. Currently I’m working on getting to know my main characters.