Posts Tagged ‘shoutout’

Inkpop.com is a website run by Harper Collins Publishers for those interested in writing for young adults. It offers a blog, author interviews, a forum, live chats on publishing-related topics, and book reviews. Members have the opportunity to post their own novels, short stories, and poetry for critique by fellow writers. They can give input on the works posted via a ranking system, and the top 5 in each category are reviewed by Harper Collins editors at the end of each month. This doesn’t guarantee any of the projects will be accepted for publication, but it is a possibility.

Though I haven’t joined the site, I like many of its features.

  • It’s easy to navigate, colorful, and looks as though it’s designed by professionals.
  • The forums are active, and the threads I read show members interacting and trying to help each other.
  • The blog provides helpful information, including writing tips, interviews, and book reviews.
  • Live chats with authors, marketers, and other publishing professionals give members a chance to ask questions and receive answers from people with more expertise than themselves.
  • The instructions for uploading writing projects were clear and simple.

The site’s primary target is writers of young adult fiction, and many of the members appear to be young writers. Though I don’t fit into either category, I thought the site looked interesting and ended up reading several of the projects that were posted, as well as a few of the book reviews. Over all, I would feel comfortable using this site if I wanted to get feedback from other writers on a young adult project, or wanted to learn more about that genre.

Have you used Inkpop or a similar site? If so, was it a good experience? What advantages or disadvantages do you see to posting work on a site like that for feedback?

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Recently I received a book to review called Our Witchdoctors are too Weak. I posted my review as soon as I finished reading the book, just prior to getting an email asking me to post it during the first week of April as part of a virtual book tour. To make up for posting prematurely, I’m contributing to the tour by listing the other reviews for this book on my blog. If you’ve reviewed this book and are not listed here, let me know and I’ll add your site to the list.

I enjoyed this book, and admire the authors for their dedication to the Wilo tribe. Living in the Amazon in order to learn and record an unwritten language isn’t something I’d be willing or able to do, but I can and do encourage others to read about the authors’ experience.

If you’d like to know more about Davey and Marie Jank’s book, take a look at the reviews by: 

Carol Benedict

Valerie Comer

Carol J. Garvin

Tana Adams               

Sharon A. Lavy


Sue Harrison

Susan Panzica

Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak: The Rebirth of an Amazon Tribe

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think about it?

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Our Witchdoctors are too Weak, by Davey and Marie Jank, relates some of the adventures Davey Jank experienced as a missionary to the Wilo tribe, deep within the Amazon jungle. He tells his story through a series of personal anecdotes, beginning with his arrival in the remote village of Pakali and ending with the fulfillment of his goal—sharing the Bible with the Wilo people in their own language.

As their language was completely oral, the missionaries assigned to the village had to devise an alphabet and convert the sounds they heard into a written language before they could begin teaching the Word of God. In order to ensure their message would be understood in the proper context, the missionaries had to learn the customs and beliefs of the Wilo people as well as their language. This took many years, but Davey Jank remained faithful in his service to God and to the villagers. Eventually he and his team were able to share the message of God’s love with them, helping many of the people to find hope and peace through faith in the saving grace of Christ’s death and resurrection.

I enjoyed reading about the Wilo’s culture, especially their daily activities and religious beliefs. Since Pakali was far from any large town, I was surprised to learn the villagers had some modern conveniences, such as outboard motors on their canoes and aluminum pans for cooking. Their beliefs, however, were similar to those of earlier generations, including shamanism and the fear of witchdoctors. Yet they waited eagerly for someone to translate “God’s Talk” into their language so they could break free of the fears that ruled their lives. That someone was Davey Jank.

The authors’ wry humor and conversational writing style make this book an easy read. The chapters are all very short, with each one covering a separate incident, making it a good choice for those who want something interesting to read during breaks from work or other activities. It isn’t preachy or judgmental, so even non-Christians might enjoy reading this book, but its message is profound. I highly recommend Our Witchdoctors are too Weak.

To get a feel for the entertaining—yet informative—style and content of this book, visit the Jank’s website. You can buy this book on Amazon.com.

Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak: The Rebirth of an Amazon Tribe  



(This book was provided to me for review by a representative of the publisher, Monarch Books.)

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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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In May I had a problem with my computer, and I assured myself I’d back up all my important files on discs or a separate hard drive. I never did. There were good reasons—I didn’t know how and didn’t want to learn, my son was too busy to do it, and the only external hard drive we had was so unreliable that my son had quit using it.

But, I finally signed up with a service called Carbonite. I started with the free 14-day trial, then paid their yearly fee of $54.95. (I got an extra 2 months free by going here to sign up for Carbonite, but I’ve seen similar offers on tv, and Pandora users were being offered 1 month free.) The initial backup of the 24GB on my computer took 9 days, but I think it was because my computer shuts down after a certain period of inactivity. Now that the whole thing is there, it works really fast. I barely get new pictures loaded and the program starts backing them up.

Carbonite provides unlimited storage of files I create, though if I delete them from my computer they also delete them from their server after 30 days. It also gives me the ability to access my files from another computer if I need something when I’m not at home. They don’t back up the actual programs, so I’m not sure what to do about my Vista, Word 2007, and other important files—but I think I’m supposed to have backup discs for those somewhere.

There are other services out there that do much the same thing as Carbonite, so be sure to research them to see if they might be better for your needs. Here’s one site that reviews some of the options.

Since I haven’t got the self-discipline (or is it a memory problem?) to back up everything regularly, this service gives me peace of mind that’s well worth the fee they charge. You can read more about Carbonite here.


 Carbonite Online Backup - Back It Up. Get It Back.


Do you use a backup service? Which one do you recommend, and why do you like it? Have you lost important data because you didn’t back it up? How often do you save your files?

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I attended my first conference last weekend, and loved it. (I would’ve put an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence to emphasize how much I loved it, but Jerry B. Jenkins said only use them in dialog, and then sparingly. So here are some smiley faces to express my excitement and enthusiasm. 🙂 🙂 😉 )

The Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference provided some excellent speakers and workshops. There were sessions discussing fiction, nonfiction, and the publishing industry in general. It wasn’t possible to attend all of them, but the ones I went to were well worth the time and money I spent. I highly recommend this conference, which is held every November.

Looking back, there are a few things I want to remember for the next time I go:

1. Don’t stress over your appearance. While the registration information recommended business casual, people wore whatever they liked. Some were in dresses and high heels, others in jeans and sneakers, but most wore casual slacks and sweaters. No one seemed to care what others were wearing.

2. Don’t buy a big purse to carry all your stuff in. The conference staff provided large canvas bags with packets of information for the attendees, so another bag was unnecessary. Some classrooms were so crowded that the bags were in the way.

3. Make sure you know where you put anything important—like your reading glasses. I bought a big purse (really big) and it had so many pockets that I couldn’t find my reading glasses when it came time to consult with my chosen faculty member. How embarrassing not to be able to read my own questions, which I’d typed out in advance and couldn’t remember.

4. If you have to leave the conference building for some reason, make sure you know where you’re going and how to get back. Yes, I learned that one the hard way. I’m requesting a GPS thing for Christmas.

5. Be friendly first. I went by myself, but by initiating conversations with the people around me I became friends with several wonderful women. Everyone I spoke to was pleasant and helpful.

6. If the high temperature during the day is in the forties, expect thick frost on your car the next morning. At home I always park in a garage, so it didn’t occur to me that I’d need extra time to scrape ice off my windows.

7. Be friendly to the hotel staff because they can be very helpful. For example, I’d asked my son to clean out my car before I left, so my ice scraper and gloves were no longer in my trunk when I needed them. The receptionist loaned me a scraper, and gave me directions to where I wanted to go. (Someone else told me a plastic rewards card works as a scraper in an emergency.)

8. I am not alone. The people at this conference shared my values and my interests, which is something I don’t often experience. I understood exactly where they were coming from and what they hoped to achieve. It was awesome.


conference site


What do you wish you’d known before attending your first conference? What do you hope to achieve by attending a writing conference? Who would you like to meet or learn from if you could choose the staff for a conference?

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I often have trouble concentrating while I’m writing or doing paperwork because I get distracted by what’s going on around me. One great resource I’ve found to keep me focused is Pandora Radio.

This free, streaming radio allows listeners to select the type of music they want to hear. It provides an assortment of music to fit any mood with only an occasional short commercial. They only allow 40 hours of free listening each month, but if you want to go beyond that it’s just 99 cents to finish out the month. For a yearly fee of $36, they’ll provide unlimited music without commercials.

When there’s a song I particularly like, I can indicate that with a click, and similar songs will be included later. If I don’t like one, I can have it deleted from my radio stream. I’ve got a personalized station that plays instrumental music for when I just want a mellow background sound to drown out the television blaring downstairs. I like that when I’m editing. Another one has Christian rock, which gets me pumped for writing new scenes.

Many writers need complete silence, but for those of us who prefer noise, Pandora Radio is an excellent choice.

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Do you need silence to write? Does music help you get in the mood to write or distract you? What’s your ideal writing routine? Do you listen to music when you’re reading?

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I’ve been looking forward to this day all week. It’s National Punctuation Day, which gives all us grammarians a reason to chat about little things like commas, periods, colons, and exclamation marks, without feeling like nerds.

Last year I celebrated by discussing commas. You can read that post by clicking here.

This year, I did a little research for tidbits of information on punctuation that you might find interesting. Here are my favorites: Did you know that the exclamation mark was originally the letter I placed above the letter O, representing the Latin word io, meaning exclamation of joy? Do you know how many punctuation marks are used in the English language? (14)

For those of you who write poetry, there’s a Haiku contest over at http://nationalpunctuationday.com/ to celebrate this year’s Punctuation Day. Entries must be submitted by September 30, 2010, so check it out today!

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What’s your favorite punctuation mark—or least favorite?  Are you celebrating anything today? 



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Laura Best, author of Bitter, Sweet, which was recently nominated for the prestigious Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, has generously awarded me the Versatile Blogger award. Thank you, Laura.


The rules involved with this award require me to share 7 things about myself and pass on the award to recently discovered blogs I enjoy. After much thought, I’ve come up with a list of things that even my closest friends might not know, but also won’t embarrass me to admit. Here you go:

1. I hide the candy I don’t want to share in the top drawer of the file cabinet on the right side of my desk.

2. I totally dislike wearing shoes, but love owning lots of them.

3. My favorite ride at Disney World is Splash Mountain.

4. I cry every time I watch the movie Ghost, but it’s still one of my favorites.

5. I am a compulsive list-writer, but I seldom follow the list.

6. Of all the things I would like to do before I die, taking a cruise to Alaska is number 1 on my list.

7. My favorite way to relax is to sit on my deck early in the morning with a cup of coffee, a book, my dog, and a camera.


I’ve repeatedly referred you to my Blogs I Like page, and still think all of the ones listed there are awesome. This time, however, I’m going to list some that aren’t already mentioned there in order to give other good blogs some exposure. I haven’t spent a lot of time on these, but they each offer a variety of posts I think you will enjoy.

My nominations for 5 recently discovered blogs I like (I’ll add more as I run across them):

http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/  great for those interested in writing for children

http://caseylmccormick.blogspot.com/ spotlights agents and gives tips for writers

http://wordsharpeners.wordpress.com/  lots of good stuff here for writers and nonwriters

http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/  useful tips for writers and bloggers

http://writeitsideways.com/  has good tips for writers


Anyone have secrets you’d like to share today? What’s your favorite amusement park ride? What’s the number 1 thing you’d like to do before you die? What movie makes you cry no matter how many times you watch it?


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My dear friend Elizabeth has awarded me the Blog with Substance Award on the basis that she thinks my blog has substance. In order to accept it I must share five words that sum up my blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience. Though I may not always provide posts that live up to my ideals, here are 5 words that describe my intentions for this blog:

1. Informative: I try to provide information that I think is helpful for anyone interested in improving their writing or in learning about the writing craft.

2. Concise: I try not to be too wordy.

3. Relevant: I try not to get too far off track from my goal of keeping my topics related to writing.

4. Encouraging: I try to respond to comments in a positive way, and to be supportive of the people who read my blog.

5. Responsive: I try to reply to all comments, and to provide posts that correspond to the search terms that appear most frequently in my blog statistics.

I’m also supposed to nominate blogs that I feel qualify as blogs with substance. This is hard as all the blogs listed on my Blogs I Like page qualify for the award on that basis. Instead, I’ve decided to list the blogs I check most often. (A few of my favorite bloggers post only once a week or less, so I’m not mentioning them here even though I check for new posts weekly. I’m also not nominating Elizabeth’s blog since she’s the one who gave me the award, and therefore automatically qualifies. 😉 )

In random order, I regularly read posts by the following bloggers:

Lua Fowles  http://likeabowloforanges.wordpress.com/

Barbara Ann Wright  http://barbaraannwright.wordpress.com/

Jon Strother  http://jmstrother.com/MadUtopia/

Laura Best   http://lauraabest.wordpress.com/

Carol Garvin  http://careann.wordpress.com/

Carla Gade  http://writingtodistraction.blogspot.com/

What are the blogs you read most often? With so many blogs out there, what makes you choose certain ones to read regularly? What causes you to skip a blog, or a blog post, when you are browsing blogs?

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