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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Legend of Keyser's Ridge

Legend of Keyser's Ridge

In my current WIP I have a location I have named Keyser's Ridge.  You might be wondering if Keyser's Ridge actually exists--and the answer is YES--in Maryland.  You can look it up on the Internet if you are interested.

For my book, I am exploring the name in my mind and inventing ideas as to why is it called Keyser's Ridge.  I have created 5 reasons behind the name. I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite reason why the Ridge might be called Keyser's Ridge?  Or for all of you creative types, I would love to hear your idea why the ridge is called Keyser's Ridge.

Keyser is the name of the family in town with a large dairy farm.  The ridge runs just past their property line.

Keyser is a local resident who has discovered a large coal mine on his property--he has become a large donor for several community buildings including the school and the sheriff's office.

A train robbery occurred near the town and Keyser was the name of the sheriff who arrested the outlaws.

The Keyser's were newlyweds who had just moved to town.  Unfortunately they tragically died in a severe winter storm.

Old Man Keyser lost his wife and struggled with alcoholism after that.  He tragically drowned while fishing.  His abandoned cabin still sits near Keyser's Ridge, and teenagers tell tales of supernatural experiences when they visit the cabin late at night.

  What's your idea?  I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Promotion of A FURROW SO DEEP and Interview with author Penelope Powell

Book Summary:  (From Anaiah Press website)

After thirteen long years, Karen Braden returns home to inherit her grandmother’s bed and breakfast, hoping it will provide the kind of future she wants for herself and her daughter. There’s only one problem—she’ll have to face the past and the one man she’s never stopped loving: Dean Anderson.
In the years following Karen’s hasty and unexplained departure, Dean built a portfolio of auto dealerships, yet he remains unfulfilled. When he sees Karen again, his hurt resurfaces, clashing with the love he’s always had for her. Determined to find out why she left him all those years ago, Dean discovers there’s more at stake than just getting answers.
As the truth begins to unravel, Dean and Karen must decide if they can forgive past transgressions and trust God to help them forge a future, better than either could ever anticipate. (excerpt taken from Anaiah Press blurb)
(My thoughts)
Penelope Powell's A FURROW SO DEEP is a beautiful story that demonstrates how God can restore and rebuild past mistakes. Through her characters' lives and choices, she leads the reader to explore heart issues such as extending forgiveness towards others, receiving forgiveness from God, as well as the importance of forgiving yourself in order to find the freedom to live out the beautiful future God wants for you.     
I enjoyed the depth of Penny's writing.  This book challenged me to consider the consequences of foolish choices, but the restoration and freedom that is available in Christ.  The characters Dean and Karen have a painful past, but with God's help the furrow is not too deep to overcome.   
Link to buy A FURROW SO DEEP on Amazon

Penelope on Twitter: @penpowell89

I had an opportunity to ask Penelope a few questions.  Here are her responses! 

Q:  What is the process you go through to take a concept and turn it into a novel?

A: Honestly, it varies. I've had dreams that have initiated ideas and I've heard conversations about real life dilemmas that have made me say "What if" that develops into a story.

Q: Do you find that your story surprises you when it reaches its final product?

The middle surprises me. I usually know where I want a character to end up, spiritually and circumstantially, but sometimes, the journey takes on a life of its own and I realize something needs to happen that surprises me.

Q: How do you develop your characters to make them seem like real people?

A: I think I relate to them through my own fears, failures  insecurities and challenges.

Q: Do you have any unique tricks for this type of character development? 

A: Not really a trick, we all do this. When we hear someone's story, we develop an empathic lens, asking​ourselves "How would I feel, or react in this situation?"

Q: What do you hope your reader takes away from reading this novel?

A: I hope everyone can see themselves, our frailty, limitations, and need for God's grace and wisdom.

Q:  What advice do you have for unpublished authors?
A:  I'm going to pass on what Colleen Coble said to me at one of her book signings, "Keep writing!"

About Penelope: (in her own words) 
I may live in Indiana, but I am completely Southern. My roots are buried deep in the hills of Middle Tennessee. That said, I've lived in many places here and abroad. Because of that I've been exposed to various cultures and my perspective has widened a bit.

Since I have degrees in Political Science and Multinational Commerce, I can’t explain how I ended up writing Christian Romance, except for God.

Like the things we experience, I believe good fiction can inspire and change someone's perspective.  It's my prayer that my words will show others a Savior who loves them.

Note to Penelope:  I am so thrilled for you with the publication of your second book, and I am so glad we are friends!  I wish you all the best with this book and many more to come in the future.  Thanks for the interview :)

Friday, June 16, 2017


Glenys Nellist has done it again.  Her book LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD--BIBLE STORIES FOR A GIRL'S HEART speaks directly to young girls as it narrates in sweet and simple prose fourteen stories of the women of the Bible.  Each woman's story highlights a different adjective:  Eve (The first girl), Miriam (The trusting girl), Rahab (The brave girl), Deborah (The strong girl) etc.  The lift-the-flap love letter on each page is a letter from God written to the reader, and portrays God's reassurance that he is able, willing, and ready to help his precious daughters become the women he created them to be.   

I personally connected with and loved the beautiful story of Miriam.  Miriam had to learn to trust.  As she watched her baby brother in the basket she thought of all the things that could happen to him and she was afraid.  The end of the story is incredibly powerful.  Glenys writes, "And as she ran, she thought about all the things she had been afraid of at the riverbank.  The wicked king had not come.  The waves had not come.  But God had come.  God had come and saved her baby brother. 'Thank you, God,' Miriam whispered, 'for helping me to let go of my fears and trust you instead.'"

I pray that I would let go of my fears and trust God in the the way this simple story tells that Miriam did.    

You know it is a great children's book when it can touch the hearts of the adults who are reading it, too.  These are powerful truths for everyone—parents, grandparents, and children!

I also loved how Glenys moved chronologically through the Bible from Eve to Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection.  I also loved how she concluded with a space for the reader to write a love letter back to God.  


Here are some helpful links:

To purchase on Amazon, click here.

Glenys Nellist's Website

Twitter: @Glenys Nellist
Facebook: Glenys Nellist: Author

GRAND RAPIDS AREA:  Glenys recently hosted a princess party which included activities such as reading the story of Esther, The Prayerful Girl (from the book), making a pin wheel craft and coloring, snacks (of course!), and parading around the bookstore.  She also taught the girls to wave like the Queen of England.  Sounds fun!  She is planning Princess Party at local church in the near future.  More details will be announced shortly on her website and Facebook.  Be sure to check there for more information.

About the author:  GLENYS NELLIST was born and raised in a little village in northern England.  Her stories and poems have been published in children's magazines where her writing reflects a deep passion for bringing the Bible to life for young children.  Glenys lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, David.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

An interview with the illustrator of MAYA LIN...Dow Phumiruk

I recently contacted Dow Phumiruk to ask her some questions about the work she did illustrating her debut picture book entitled MAYA LIN.  

MAYA LIN is the story of the artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Here is a paragraph of what the book MAYA LIN is all about (as taken from its description on the Internet).

"As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her.  She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps.  The daughter of a clay artist and poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind.  From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist; the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial."

It was such a delight to interview Dow!  Here are my questions and her answers:

Q: Can you describe for us the process you go through in illustrating a book from concept to final art? What are some of the challenges you face along the way, and how do you overcome them?

A: First I'll create a storyboard - basically thumbnails (tiny, really rough blobby sketches - "blobby" is the best word I can think of!) of the entire book. I use a template I found online along with Photoshop for this. I try to vary layout and composition for interest and keep the pace of the book in mind. I'll ask myself several questions:
- What do I want in the middle of the book? 
- Where do I want to use full spreads with lots of details for the reader to pause and dwell on the art?
- Where should I use a series of quick spot illustrations to move the story along?
- Which parts of the story have very obvious images that comes to mind? Those images will be my anchors, and then I can draw in the rest of the storyboard around them.

Some stories can be challenging if there are so many important scenes that I want to draw too many spreads. Sometimes text lends itself to an abstract image, and this is very tricky figuring out how to incorporate abstract sequences into the rest of the more realistic art. For example, Maya Lin imagined a giant knife slicing into the earth for her memorial design. I had difficulty thinking how a big knife could be drawn into a picture book for young children - without being too scary! Ultimately, my editor gave me some feedback, and we made it work. Often times before I ask for feedback from my editor, I'll run it by my online critique group buddies. Their advice is very helpful, and so many times a fresh look at the art is all that's needed to lead us to a novel solution.

Next I'll draw out a dummy using my storyboard as a guide. I might submit the dummy in color unless the art director specifically asks for black and white. I'll carve the "blobby" sketched shapes down into recognizable people or scenery. My kids laugh at my sketches, because they are often funny-looking. A person in the background might look more like an octopus or loaf of bread than of human form! After the dummy and individual spreads are approved, then I put in all the details, shading, texture, and lighting.

Q:  Do you have a favorite page or series of drawings within the MAYA LIN book? If so, what is it and why?

A: My favorite spread is the forest scene. She sits on a rock and waits, hoping to befriend the wild animals. I love drawing greenery and animals and soft lighting. I also love the thought of sitting peacefully in the woods, catching glimpses of woodland creatures. My family and I enjoy nature hikes in our beautiful state of Colorado.

Q:  What was it about this particular project that resonated with you and made you want to work on it?

A: The most realistic answer is that it was my first opportunity to work with a traditional publishing house (Christy Ottaviano Books of Henry Holt/Macmillan), and I probably would've said yes to a book about almost anything (slugs/bugs, the inventor of the stapler, etc). But, wow! What a perfect fit this project turned out to be for me. I loved drawing Maya. As you might guess, I've spent a good part of my artist life drawing Asian girls and women!

Q:  What do you hope readers will take away from the book MAYA LIN, and specifically the way that you portrayed the storyline?

A: This story is an inspiration for readers of all ages! I recently attended a book signing with my daughters for two of their favorite young adult authors, Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen) and Colleen Oakes (Queen of Hearts). These lovely ladies told the teens and tweens present not to think that their dreams were for someone else - not to think that writing a best selling novel was for someone else to do. We moms in the audience listened and were inspired, too. Similarly, I hope the message from Maya Lin's story will inspire readers to do the best they can, take some chances, and reach for their life goals. Successes like Victoria's and Colleen's and Maya's could happen for any of us, because in many ways, these successful people are much like ourselves.

Here are some links to help you get to know Dow and her artwork better.  
Twitter and Instagram: @dowphumiruk
Facebook page: artbydow 
 MAYA LIN on Amazon:

Note to Dow--It was a true delight to hear how you create your artwork, and I enjoyed the personal thoughts and insights you shared with me in the answers to my questions.  Best wishes to you with this beautiful book!