Archive for February, 2011

In an effort to provide a helpful series of posts on genres, I’m currently doing some research. My investigation so far has turned up some interesting information which I’m applying to events in my own life—or more accurately, my yard.

After the recent snowstorm, I enjoyed looking out at the pristine snow. Within a couple of days, however, I noticed that the area under the trees had turned ugly, with leaves and dirt showing up to spoil the view. I knew we didn’t do it, and it certainly wasn’t my dog. He rarely ventures off the front porch when there’s snow on the ground.

I don’t think the possum that lives under my deck is the culprit either. He has big feet, but doesn’t do much damage running across the snow.


Did Mr. Possum do it?



However, I did gather evidence that Mr. Possum is the one eating the branches off my rhododendrons.



Caught in the act of eating!


Yesterday I finally thought I had the answer. A bunch of turkeys were scratching away at the snow, bringing the leaves up to the surface in their quest for food.


Guilty as charged!


Later in the afternoon, though, a group of deer were in the same spot, pawing at the ground and nibbling at the vegetation.


The turkeys' accomplices!



Putting all the clues together, I surmised that there is more than one perpetrator involved here. Is there a conspiracy going on? Is there a mastermind behind the plan to ruin my winter wonderland? Or does necessity force these creatures into trespassing into my yard to find something to eat?

Whatever. I think watching the wildlife is even more fun than staring at the snow, so I’m not going to prosecute the criminals.  

 Coming soon: The Mystery Genre




What’s your favorite winter activity? Do you spend more time reading in winter? Does the weather affect your writing?


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This is the true story of Kristen Jane Anderson, a 17-year-old girl who suffered from depression so severe that she could no longer cope with life. In an impulsive decision to end her emotional pain forever, she lay down on the railroad tracks in front of an oncoming freight train. Both of her legs were severed but, miraculously, she survived.

When her suicide attempt failed, Kristen had to deal with a new reality—living life from a wheelchair. Her physical pain was intense, but the emotional trauma she’d dealt her family by her action was also difficult for her to cope with. Her future seemed even bleaker than before. Even with counseling and medication, Kristen struggled to find a reason to go on living.

Broken in body and spirit, Kristen finally turned to God for help. As she grew in faith, Kristen realized that the trials she’d faced had brought her to a close personal relationship with God. That relationship gave her a sense of purpose and hope that had been missing from her life.

Kristen began sharing her story with troubled teens in small group settings, encouraging them not to give up hope for a better life. As her message spread, she was asked to speak at colleges and seminars all over the United States. Eventually she formed a nonprofit organization called Reaching You Ministries, which provides help and counseling for suicidal and depressed teenagers.

Though the events Kristen describes are unique to her situation, the emotions she and her family experienced are ones many readers will relate to. Anyone who has dealt with depression, or is close to someone suffering from it, will be encouraged by Kristen’s message. Hers is a sad story, but also uplifting. I recommend Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson, as told to Tricia Goyer.


This book was provided to me for review by the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah.

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Romance novels consistently represent one of the most popular genres, with over a billion dollars in sales each year. There are two basic types of romance novels—category, and single-title books.


Category Romance:

Some publishers release several books in a particular line each month, with strict guidelines as to their word count and structure. This format must be followed for every book in the category, regardless of the author.

Single-Title Romance:

These books are sold individually rather than as a group. The page length is not fixed, and the author has more control over the structure of the story.


In every romance novel, the growing relationship between the heroine and the hero is the most important element of the book. There must be believable conflict causing them to change and grow closer, but subplots must not take on more importance than their romantic relationship. Conflict, both internal and external, should increase emotional tension, but readers expect things to end with the hope of the couple living happily ever after.

The setting and time period can be anywhere, anytime. There can be elements of suspense, mystery, fantasy, etc., but the couple in love must be the main focus of the book. If it isn’t, it isn’t a real romance.


 Resources for the Romance writer:








For Romance Readers:

Harlequin ebooks 16 free category romances


Reviews and News for Romance Readers



Why do you enjoy/hate romance novels? Do you prefer the category romances or single-title books? What’s your favorite romance author or book?

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The massive snowstorm blanketing the Midwest shut down all the roads in our county several hours ago. Plows won’t even be sent out until sometime tomorrow due to the hazardous weather conditions. Since we installed a backup generator in December, I wasn’t concerned until my husband suggested that we should take showers early tonight in case the power goes out.

“But I thought you said all the important stuff would still work off the generator?” said I.

“It will. The pump will work so we can flush toilets; there just won’t be any hot water.”

“So I can’t wash dishes or do laundry?”

“You won’t need to do dishes because you can’t cook; the stove and oven aren’t on the generator. And why would you want to do laundry if the power goes out?”

It turns out that the things my husband had the electrician hook to the generator are the things he thinks are important: the coffeepot, refrigerator, television, computers, furnace, well, garage door opener, and all the outlets in the bedrooms. While I’m happy to have heat and water, I like hot water. And I think the freezer, washer, dryer, and stove are pretty important, too.

I had certain expectations when I agreed to spend an outrageous amount for a backup generator, and they’ve not been met. As a reader, I also have expectations when I buy a book. If it’s in a particular genre, there are elements I assume will be included—that’s why it’s a genre book.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to discuss a few genres I enjoy reading. I’ll talk about the main elements of each of them, and list some helpful references for writers of those genres. I started this series over a year ago, and have already covered children’s books and steampunk. I’m currently working on a post about the romance genre, but haven’t decided what to write about after that. Any requests?


Has the winter weather affected you this year? What’s the one thing you’d most hate to be without if you lost your electricity for a few days? What’s your favorite genre of books?

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