Thursday, May 31, 2012

I am delighted to welcome Jude Urbanski to The Borrowed Book today. Jude writes women's fiction featuring a strong inspirational romance element and has been writing in some fashion nearly all her life. Her mother wrote sweet romances in the 1930's, her daughters write, as do her grandchildren and several other family members.

First published in nonfiction, Jude continues to write in this field also. She has two electronic novels, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing Series, published by Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a columnist for Maximum Living, a magazine focusing on spirituality and wellness for women. She has been a blogger for Ellechor Publishing, Hoosier Ink and her own blog.
Welcome to The Borrowed Book, Jude. You have a book releasing the first of June. Tell us the title and give us a blurb about it.
Sure, Sandra. My book is released June 11 by Desert Breeze Publishing in electronic format. A tagline line for Nurtured in Purple runs something like this:
One man. One woman. Bent on avenging a personal vendetta. Another man. Another woman. Wanting to only be God’s salt and light. The outcome is ….
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book, when initially I didn’t think I would, but the characters won my heart completely.
This is the second in your The Chronicles of Chanute Crossings Series. Did you keep the same hero and heroine, or is this book about other characters?
Seth and Kate, the main characters from book one, are still there, but my secondary characters come front and center. Willard and Elizabeth take over with all their flaws and foibles and bring us amazement at the end of the story. We’re also introduced to Ruby and her little son, Bobo, who steal your heart in their need.
Is there another book planned for the series? If so, what is it it?
No, there are no more books are planned for this series.
What gave you the idea about writing this series?
My mother wrote sweet romance novels in this same setting back in the 1930’s and I wanted to pick up on that. The setting is the area in Middle Tennessee where my ancestors lived. I have an attraction to the beautiful hills in my penchant for genealogy study.
You said that in the second book we see the flaws of two of the characters but are amazed by the end of the book. What do you hope readers will take away after reading Nurtured in Purple?
I’ve realized my stories feature strong heroes or heroines who struggle to turn tragedy to triumph with God’s help. I want readers to take away the hope that we grow during our difficult times and that God is always on the journey with us.
Now that you have two books published, you must be very busy. What is your writing schedule like, and how do you discipline yourself to follow it?
I usually spend three to four hours in the morning at the computer. I don’t know if I’m really that disciplined, but have had to give up some ‘household standards’ to keep my writing schedule. I have a very accommodating husband also, but sometimes feel I take too much time from him.
What do you find the most stressful about being an author?
I get frustrated at the sometimes long waits to hear from a submission! But I do understand the other side of things.
I certainly understand that. Waiting can be very difficult. Do you have any words of wisdom for writers who are still waiting to sell that first manuscript?
I recently told someone that a writer has to have the hide of an elephant and the patience of Job.
That is so true, Jude. Thank you for being a guest on The Borrowed Book today. We wish you the best with your new book.
To find out more about this Indiana writer who shares a blended family of eight beautiful children and a gaggle of just- as-beautiful grandchildren visit her website here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Here’s something I never considered doing. Making my own yeast. This recipe comes from The Ladies Indispensable Assistant, 1850.

To Make Good Yeast

Yeast Cake Today
Take as many hops as you can hold in your hand twice; put them into three pints of cold water; put them over the fire, and let them boil twenty minutes: then strain the water into an earthen or stone jar, and stir in while the water is scalding hot flour enough to make a stiff batter: let it stand till about milk-warm: then add a tea-cupful of old yeast to make it rise, and a tea-spoonful of salaeratus dissolved in the old yeast; stir it well and put the jar in a warm place to rise. Some add Indian meal enough (after it has rise well) to make it into cakes and dry it on a board in the sun. This is very convenient, especially in hot weather, --a small cake soaked in a little warm water is enough to make a large pan of dough rise.

Salaeratus (alternative spelling for "Saleratus"): Aerated salt; a white crystalline substance having an alkaline taste and reaction, consisting of sodium bicarbonate.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One of things that appeals to me most about writing is the research that goes into my books. If the setting is fictional, then I have the opportunity to dream up any kind of community I want, but that’s not the case if I’m writing about a city or town people know well. It then becomes very important to have your facts right. 
The internet age has put writers at an advantage that our predecessors didn’t have. I often wonder how many hours an author had to spend in a library years ago as they searched for information about a place they wanted to include in their book but had no way of traveling there. Today a writer can sit in the comfort of his/ her bedroom and visit sites around the world. Technology has made the lives of writers better, but there is still no substitute for going on the road and visiting the places you want to write about.
If you've followed my romantic suspense Ocracoke Island Series, you know that Dangerous Reunion released in July 2011 and Shattered Identity released in February of this year. The third book Fatal Disclosure released the first of May. These three books came about because of a trip I took to Ocracoke Island, a barrier island twenty-five miles off the coast of North Carolina. The island served as the headquarters for Blackbeard the Pirate in the 18th century, and he met his death offshore there in 1718. The cover for Fatal Disclosure is a view of Teach’s Hole, the body of water where Blackbeard died. 
The ferry ride to this thirteen-mile strip of land is two and a half hours, but it has become a favorite vacation spot for thousands of people. With its pristine beaches, its historic lighthouse that still operates, and a British cemetery that serves as the last resting place for British sailors whose ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off its shores during World War II, it became the perfect setting for my three books. 
As I wrote the three books, I felt like I was back on the island. I remembered the sea gulls hanging around the marina as they waited for a scrap from the day’s fishing trips, I visualized families riding bicycles through the two lane street that winds through the only village on the island, and I felt the salt air breezes that made the sea oats wave on top of the sand dunes. 
Now that the series is complete, my journey has come to an end. I’ve said goodbye to the fictional Michaels family who made the island their home, and I can only hope I’ve given enjoyment to readers who have followed the adventures I dreamed up while visiting a place that will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Sandra Robbins is a multi-published author who lives with her husband in the small Tennessee college town where she grew up. At present she has eleven books published and six more contracted. Her books have been finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Contest for excellence in mystery writing, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for romance, the Holt Medallion, and the ACFW Carol Award.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The following quotes are from interviews I conducted (through e-mail) and posted on my personal blog for a "Mondays for the Military" feature. (The links will take you to the full interview posts if you wish to read more.)

Question: How can we pray for you specifically, as well as all those in the military?


"Pray for wisdom and guidance for leaders to make the right decisions at the right time. And to be leaders and make decisions. Pray for soldiers to stay alert and confident in their abilities and for God to help them recall information at the proper time."
~ Stephen Novak (served as an Infantryman in the Army National Guard)

"Please pray that…. when our time on this earth has come to an end…. my spirit and the spirits of my comrades in arms—active, reserve, discharged, retired—will be accepted into the presence of our loving God…. That truly is my desire."
~ Floyd Stokes (Retired Navy Captain)

"For military families in general, pray for God to strengthen their marriages, to heal the broken-hearted and to restore hope where it has faded away. Pray that even when they are hurting and face challenges, that they will recognize God’s presence in their lives."
~ Jocelyn Green (Former Coast Guard wife and author of Faith Deployed)

"Prayers for our leaders is an ongoing issue. We need to remember them and their power in the issues that will affect our future. So many of the military are so young...they have joined the military to support their families during this time of financial strain."
~ Nancy Williams (Naval Commander working with the Honor Flights Program)

Question: What do you admire most about the military?


"I admire how our military men and women—and their families—are willing to sacrifice so much for the rest of the nation. Not only do they put their lives on the line, but they have difficult jobs, frequent moves, and restrictions to their freedom that civilians would not put up with."
~ Sarah Sundin (Author of the "Wings of Glory" series)

"I admire the military family’s commitment to honor, duty, service and sacrifice. In this 'me-first' society we live in as Americans, military families give so much of themselves to a cause that is bigger than themselves—we can all learn from that, and from them"
~ Jocelyn Green (in another interview)

"...I have always been humbled by the fact that the men and women who serve our country are willing to leave their families behind when they are deployed. I think about the missed holidays, the birthdays, family experiences like sharing the birth of a child or seeing that child takes its first step, or deaths. I have to admit every time I see a television report of a returning veteran reunited with his or her family I tear up. It touches my heart to think how much they have missed while they’ve been gone, but they did it out of loyalty to our country and its citizens."
 ~ Sandra Robbins (Author of Shattered Identity)

May God bless our United States military members, their families, and all those who serve them. We thank you for all of your sacrifices as today we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Saturday, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming! This week's winner is:

Gail Golden - Mary's Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley!

Congratulations, Gail! Please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your email address. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive. Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book!

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!

To enter:

Follow Us! Followers are automatically entered. Or...

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzle in the comments section. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. :-)

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Lena Nelson Dooley and her newest release, Mary's Blessing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hi, Lena! Welcome to The Borrowed Book. It’s so good to have you back! You are a multi-published author with more than 690,000 books in print. That’s an amazing number! What do you think has been the secret to your longevity?

Persistence and readers who like my writing. Thank you, everyone, for each book you read.

On top of writing, you run a very busy blog, do numerous teaching and speaking engagements, and somehow find time to mentor. Do you find keeping so busy hinders your creativity?

Not really. It might hinder my time spent on writing, but not the creativity. At least not so far. Each of the things I do feeds my creativity. I love to teach. Interviewing other authors is fun. And through mentoring, I grow myself.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

The only writers who become published are the ones who keep submitting, then learning from feedback, then submitting again.

Tell us a little about your latest release, Mary’s Blessing:

When her mother dies, Mary Lenora must grow up quickly to take care of her brothers and sisters. Can love help her to shoulder the burden?

Mary Lenora Caine knows she is adopted. As she was growing up, her mother called her “God’s blessing.” But now that she’s gone, Mary no longer feels like any kind of blessing. Her father, in his grief, has cut himself off from the family, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.

As she nears her eighteenth birthday, Mary can’t see anything in her future but drudgery. Then her childhood friend Daniel begins to court her, promising her a life of riches and ease. But her fairy-tale dreams turn to dust when her family becomes too much for Daniel, and he abandons her in her time of deepest need.
Will Daniel come to grips with God’s plan for him? And if he does return, can Mary trust that this time he will really follow through?

If you could only share one line from Mary’s Blessing, which one would you choose and why?

Wow! That’s a hard question. Since I’ve written another book since this one and I’m writing another one now, I can’t remember one specific memorable line. I do love this story, because it deals with a poor self-image and lack of trust in God. I loved watching these characters make mistakes, then grow throughout the story.

The main character in this book is adopted. Do you have any personal adoption stories you’d like to share? What led you to write about this highly emotional topic?

The adoption part of the story came from the discernment God gave me about adoption. I have known people who were adopted. And I’ve had a relative who gave up a child for adoption.
The really personal part of the story was the feelings by the triplets that something was missing from their lives. I had those feeling while growing up. Because my mother died when I was seven years old, I didn’t find out until I was about 30 that shortly after I was born, my mother had to go back to the hospital. They removed a mass of bone, hair, and tissue that the doctors believe was a twin that didn’t completely form.

Along with adoption, Mary’s Blessing touches on the topic of grief. Why did you feel it was important to give each one of your characters such difficult trials to face?

Every person has trials to face. My stories experience things that other people have to deal with as well. I want the readers to see played out in the book how one person faced similar trials and became stronger through the process.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

I do a lot of research. Details about the time period, the place, the society, etc. I want the books have authentic details to give the reader a true picture of the history of the time. I used books and web sites. There are a number of books available for cities with historical photos of that town. Those books were valuable. But I also found helpful tidbits by searching for the history of transportation and other details in the places. In this book, specifically Oregon City and Portland. All those details are authentic.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I have started writing the first book in my Restored Hearts series, also for Realms. The working title is The Gift of a Son. That could be changed. There will be three books in this series.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

Actually, I’m not fearful about any question. If one comes that I don’t want to answer, I just say so.

About the Author...

Lena Nelson Dooley is a multi-published, award-winning author, who loves to connect with her readers. She has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. To learn more, visit her at:


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In my mind’s ever wandering fashion, I came up with a new historical question this week, and it all began with new sheets. 

Before I share my historical tidbit, I need to explain that this topic started with the purchase of DARK CHOCOLATE brown sheets. I’ve never had dark sheets before, and after one night on them, I’m still not sure how I feel about the color.

My husband thinks I’m weird because I’m won’t sleep on certain colors. As we were shopping he mentioned maybe red would be nice. “Are you kidding?” I exclaimed. “No way!” (I’m sorry if any of our readers like red sheets. I don’t mean to be offensive, but I think the color would keep me awake.) 

So, as I was putting my new dark brown, soft cotton sheets on the bed, I remembered my grandmother making beds. Her sheets were white, starched, ironed, and all flat. Scratchy to the touch, hard to put on the mattress, and harder to keep on. 

That’s when I wondered. . .when were fitted sheets invented? 

Seems in 1959, an African American woman named Bertha Berman patented a design for fitted sheets. Hers had corners sewn in a way that fit the sheet to the mattress. These needed elastic garters and other things to keep the sheets on the mattress. 

In 1990, Gisele Jubinville created a fitted sheet with deep corner pockets that grab a mattress and stay put. (Oh happy day!) And then she sold the patent in 1993 for $1 million.

Thanks to these two women, we have bottom sheets that stay put. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One of the most important things in this author’s life is my readers. I love all of you. Hearing from you is a high point of my day. Even if you didn’t like some aspect of my book, I like to hear from you. I want to connect with you in every way I can. And you can find me on a lot of online venues—Facebook, Twitter, Shoutlife, Pinterest, Goodreads, my blog, and my web site.
I’m really interested in book clubs and reading groups. I enjoy connecting with you through the electronic technology of telephone calls or Skype video. I’m happy to answer questions about the stories, why I wrote them, and any other question you may have.
My newest series McKenna’s Daughters. The heroines were born on one of the last wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. Their mother died giving birth, and because of the circumstances, they were separated. It’s not until they are about eighteen years old that they learn they have two sisters. And the desire to find their sisters is strong in each of them. 
Books one and two are stand alone novels, which can be read in any order. But you’ll probably want to read book one and two before book three releases in January 2012.
Maggie’s Journey released in October 2011. I’ve heard from a lot of readers. Many of they have been adoptees. They were interested in that aspect of the book, which was set in1885 in Washington Territory. Maggie journey took her to Little Rock, Arkansas, by train. 
Maggie had grown up the spoiled daughter in a wealthy family. She had no idea she was adopted. Most people were intrigued by the way she found out. One Christian reviewer put Maggie’s Journey on her Top Books of 2011 list.
Mary’s Blessing is releasing May 15, 2012. Mary has always known she was adopted, but because her mother died when she was eleven years old, no one told her the circumstances. That information really affected her when she found out. Her mother had called her God’s Blessing, but she didn’t feel like anyone’s blessing. Her spiritual and romantic journey intertwine in an interesting and surprising way.
If you didn’t get a chance to read book one, we’ll give away a copy to one lucky (or I should say blessed) reader.
Have you ever let an author know when something in a book bothered you?
Have you ever contacted an author and let that person know how much their book meant to you?
In either case, what happened?

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 690,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s a member of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena has an active web presence on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books. 

Blog: Http://

Monday, May 21, 2012

About the Book:

"Lydia Bontrager's youngest sister is frighteningly ill, and as a good Amish daughter, it falls to Lydia to care for her siblings and keep the household running, in addition to working as a teacher's assistant and helping part time at her grandmother's bakery. Succumbing to stress, Lydia gives in to one wild night and returns home drunk.

The secret of that mistake leaves Lydia feeling even more restless and confused, especially when Joshua, the only boy she's ever loved, becomes increasingly distant. When a non-Amish boy moves in nearby, Lydia finds someone who understands her, but the community is convinced Lydia is becoming too reckless. With the pressures at home and her sister's worsening condition, a splintering relationship with Joshua, and her own growing questions over what is right, Lydia could lose everything that she's ever held close."

Amber's Review:

Lydia's life - as she once knew it - is falling apart. It starts with a poor choice one lonely night at a youth gathering. Then horrible news crashes down on her family, and Lydia finds herself trying to juggle work with worries about her sister, her reputation, and her future. She yearns for the "normal" life she once had - but is that what she truly needs?

Reckless Heart is a book with plenty of conflict - from illness to forbidden friendship, misunderstandings, and unrequited love. With lots of trouble to deal with, the characters don't always come across as very likeable, but they're still an interesting mix. (Lydia's siblings are precious!) The resolution is a bit fast and "tidy" in some respects, and I would have liked to see a certain romantic relationship given more attention throughout the story rather than having the explanation for its existence brushed off in the end. But the plot and relationships are intriguing and complex in a "curious-to-find-out-what-happens" way.

I appreciate the glossary (as well as the family-tree charts) at the beginning of the book, but I think the Amish phrases/wording might be a bit overdone at times (especially for a Young Adult book, where the repetition and possible need to constantly flip back to the front for definitions can be a bit tedious). And while I appreciate this story from Lydia's perspective, I think there might have been an added benefit to getting more viewpoints from other characters (including some of the adults). Overall, though, Reckless Heart emphasizes caring and community in an interesting Amish-themed, teen story of the heart.

*With thanks to Candice Frederick with DJC Communications and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.* 

A Note from the Author:

"Reckless Heart gave me the opportunity to create a story about Lydia Bontrager, who is one of the granddaughters in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write a young adult book based on my Kauffman novels.

This story is close to my heart because it's dedicated to Jimmy O'Brien, a dear family friend who lost his life to leukemia at the age of ten."

Connect with Amy on her website, Facebook, and Twitter!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Saturday, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming! This week's winner is:

Carrie Pagels - A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee by Diana Brandmeyer!

Congratulations, Carrie! Please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your email address. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive. Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book!

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!

To enter:

Follow Us! Followers are automatically entered. Or...

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzle in the comments section. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. :-)

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Diana Brandmeyer and her newest release, A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hi, Diana! Welcome to The Borrowed Book. For those readers who aren’t familiar with you or your work, let’s start by telling them a little about yourself. How long did you write before you sold your first book?

Hi everyone! So glad to be here. I love making new friends. My first book, A Time to Dance sold in 2000 but I had been writing for quite some time. I started with articles for a local magazine, and then added a newsletter for a Christian radio station. There was a long span in between that book and the next one because I took time off to make sure my teenage sons would grow up to be good men. So far so good. It’s all God folks, not me.

I know that you’ve done some work with e-publishing. What was that like, and would you recommend it as an alternative to traditional publishing houses?

E-pubbing is a great experience—now. Things have changed so much since I had my first book published that way. No one knew what an e-book was or what a reader was for. A lot of education had to be done along with marketing. I have writer friends who are putting out their own work and doing well. Just know you must have a good book and a good editor along with time to market. If it’s not a good story it won’t sell.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

Take classes. Margie Lawson offers great ones, get involved with My Book Therapy and get Suzy Warren’s books. Those two things alone will grow your writing skills.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Here’s the back cover copy:

Heaven’s Stolen His Heart

After witnessing the ravages of the Civil War, Travis Logan vowed to give up doctoring. But when fellow steamboat passenger Caleb Wharton collapses at his feet, Travis knows he must lend his aid. As the old man lies dying, he makes Travis promise to take care of his land and find Heaven. Travis can’t help but wonder what Heaven has to do with a real place, so he heads to Caleb’s farm to fulfill his promise.

Weeks of facing marauders and caring for her father’s home have finally taken their toll on Heaven Wharton. When an unknown young man charges the house, Heaven attempts to fire a warning shot but ends up shooting the man instead. Shocked, she and her sister, Angel, drag a semi-conscious Travis into the house and nurse him back to health.

As Travis and Heaven both struggle to control their destinies, will they learn that only a heart that follows God can ever find peace on earth?

If you could only share one line from A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee, which one would you choose and why?

Sometimes Heaven wanted to treat her sister like a turkey and wring the common sense right out of her.

I love it because how many times have you had a wonderful idea only to have someone say, “Are you serious? Don’t you know you could die from that?”

This book is a historical romance, but it has a strong faith message. Can you share what that message is, and what led you to include it in the book?

It seems to be a message that shows up in most of my writing. You are never alone. God is with you. It’s something I have to say over and over again many times in my life.

One of the characters in your book is a pre-teenager suffering from disability. Another is a soldier battling with guilt. In fact, all of the characters have shouldered one kind of burden or another. Why did you feel it was important to give each one of your characters such difficult trials to face?

Everyone has tough battles. Sometimes they are physical and others are on the inside. I think readers will identify with those burdens. I wanted all the characters to be as real as possible. Right now I have a friend with ALS, one going through painful recovery from surgery, another making her way through this year without her mom so it’s all real for characters to have burdens too.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

I had a difficult time researching Friendship, Tennessee. There is little on line about this town. So my husband and I drove there and found two helpful women at city hall. After that we went to the next town to the library and went through files.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I’m working on book set in Colorado and one set in Illinois. Both are historicals and yes, I plan to torture those characters too.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

How much I weigh and I would say a lady never tells.

LOL! I respectfully withdraw the question. :-)

About the Author...

Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Her historical, A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee is now available. She’s also written We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life. To learn more, visit her at:

Twitter: @dianabrandmeyer

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I’m painting my living room and kitchen/dining area this week. Painting always reminds me of that scene in Tom Sawyer where Tom is whitewashing the fence. His Aunt Polly assigned him the chore as a punishment, but Tom manipulated the other kids into doing the job for him.

Whitewashing was used in the mid 19th century to spiff up barns, houses, and other outbuildings, as well as fences. The technique was inexpensive. Whitewash consisted of a mixture of lime, water and salt, as well as color additives such as chalk, molasses, blood, egg white and milk. Whitewash was also mildly antibacterial.

Whitewash is still used today. Here’s a recipe I found:

12 c. Hydrated Lime
1 lb. of Table Salt (un-iodized)
1 or 2 Gallons of Warm Water (not exact--just mix until it forms a thick paint-like consistency)

Mix in a bucket (use a mask and gloves because hydrated lime in powder form is caustic). With a brush, apply a thick coat to the wood you're painting. At first it appears grey, but after it hardens for two to three days, it turns white.

Have any of our readers used whitewash? I’d love to hear about it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I don’t know about you, but characters often make or break a story for me.  As a writer, I try to remember what makes some characters and their stories more compelling for me than others.  Here are a few tips I try to keep in mind as I write based on the characters that I love to read about again and again.

1. Give your characters a few quirks. 
Quirks are those things that we all have – whether we acknowledge them – that make us unique. It might be a penchant for constantly getting into trouble ala Anne of Green Gables, the girl who made lots of mistakes but tried to only make the same ones once. Or it might be a foilable like fighting the need to control EVERYTHING in our lives.  

2. Put those characters into a situation that will force them to do the one thing they promised to never do.
In A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island the heroine Alanna Stone has promised never to return to her home on Mackinac Island. Yet the opening pages of the book find her on her way there. She doesn’t want to go…at all…but for family…something that matters so much to her…at least on the outside…now she’s returning. Yet as the book progresses, she’s confronted with the reality that something she said mattered to her really didn’t.  Haven’t we all been there. All vowed that something mattered deeply, but the reality of our lives said differently. And it’s in the confronting those things that our characters (and we) are changed. We can relate to that journey…and if the journey is properly crafted, the reader will follow the character through all levels of difficulty to see if she will succeed. 

3. Give each character virtue and vice.
So often we think the villain should wear an entirely black hat and the hero an all white hat. Yet that isn’t reality. Even the most hardened criminal has a grandmother he would drop anything to serve. Or the hero has a blind spot to an area that is less than heroic in his life.  While I’d like to think I lead a blameless life, I know that isn’t truth. Most readers are the same. Give us a balance of virtue and vice. Let us watch each character struggle with the realities of who they really are in contrast to who they want to be. Somewhere in there you will create a character that we want to watch grow and thrive. 
I can think of books that weren’t necessarily works of art or compelling, but I read them because I came to care deeply for the characters. That’s what I want to create for my readers. How about you? What makes a character compelling or unique? Someone you want to read about? 
Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney, teacher at her church, and contract lecturer or adjunct faculty at a local community college and Big Ten University. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara loves bringing history and romance to life.  You can learn more about Cara and her books on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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