Sunday, June 30, 2013

TMI on the Fourth of July

What's up with this photo?
      It's July! Which means my month of un-blogging has officially come to an end. It was a great month writing my next novel, and if you want to know when it's ready to read, please sign up for my newsletter!

     But enough about me! Today I'm talking about somebody else. A friend I knew way back when Phillip and I were so newlywed I could still fall into the "blushing bride" category.

     I first met "Sally" when we moved several states away so Phillip could take on the youth pastor position at her husband's church. Sally wasn't your typical pastor's wife, either. She had a penchant for speaking whatever was on her mind, and she expected everyone around her to do the same. Not a bad quality, mind you, but my newly-married sensitivities weren't quite ready for Sally when we first met.

     Sally and her husband were only a few years older than Phillip and I. Our first official outing together was to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July a few towns over. We all rode together in their huge minivan, which gave us a great chance to get to know each other. Maybe a little too much of a chance, actually.

     Phillip and I were married in a very informal, boisterous church. I had already received my fair share of post-honeymoon jokes our first Sunday back as a newly-married couple. I thought I had gotten through the worst of it. That was before I met Sally.

     I have no idea how we got on the topic, but Sally started talking about adjusting to married life. She mentioned how hard it was for her and her husband to learn to sleep together (in the literal sense, not the Biblical one). "He's just so hot! He makes our bed like an oven." And then Sally turned and looked me square in the eyes and asked in total earnestness, "So is Phillip hot in bed?"

     I knew exactly what she was asking. I knew her question had very little to do with my month-old sex life. But my blushing alone probably upped the temperature in the minivan by a good two or three degrees.

     Nine years of marriage and three kids later, I'm not so thrown off by intrusive questions. In fact, one year I'll probably look Sally up and answer the question I was too embarrassed to so many years ago.

     Yes, Sally. Phillip is very hot in bed.

Blog Love: This post is participating in two different events. (Yes, I'm moving up in the blogosphere!) Not only is it part of my regular humor column for Christian Home Magazine, it's also part of Regi McClain's new Music and Mirth Monday linkup!

Random Fact: During our first year of marriage, temperatures got so high in May that the blinds to our bedroom window melted.

Friday, June 28, 2013

I Love Indie Books Blog Hop Giveaway

It's been an exciting week! My inspiration novel, The Beloved Daughter, set in North Korea topped off at #5 in Christian suspense on amazon's bestseller list. That's a good reason to celebrate if I can think of any! And what better way to celebrate than a giveaway? First prize gets a $20 Bath and Body Works Gift Card. Second prize gets a free paperback copy of my debut novel (or a free e-version if you live outside the US). Just sign up below to enter. Then be sure to check out all the other blogs listed below. We're all giving away great prizes!
Amazon bestseller: #5 Christian suspense

And while you're at it, check out The Beloved Daughter ebook here if you're interested in award-winning Christian suspense right at your fingertips.

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Check out other great prizes from these other blogs!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Inspiration: JuNoWriMo

Thursday's Children: The Thursday's Children blog hop is a chance for authors to write about what inspires them. Thanks again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.


     I'm not much for bandwagons. That being said, I sure do jump on a lot of them.

     I never pictured myself as the type to get into WriMo-ing (writing a novel in a month with a big group of like-minded aspiring authors). I figured I'd write a novel when I felt like writing a novel, and if I wanted to start on October 13, I'd start on October 13 and not wait for November 1. I'd write until it was finished, not until I reached the end of the month or attained a certain pre-ordained word count goal.

     Well, I had already decided that I was going to start drafting my next novel in June. I didn't want it to drag on for months and months and sap time and energy away from my family. So, I had the goal to get it finished by the end of the month. About three weeks later, WIPpet and blogging friend Kate Sparkes mentioned she'd be participating in JuNoWriMo. Turns out I wasn't the only one out there in cyberland hoping to draft a novel this summer.

     Thus began my adventures with JuNoWriMo. I put (almost) all other blogging on hold and focused on my draft. I met some great cyber buddies and participated in some blood-pumping wordsprints. Participating in JuNoWriMo gave me a built in cheerleading system. When my wrists felt like they were on fire after typing five thousand words in three hours with only one break, other JuNoWriMo-ing tweeps loaned me their sympathy. When I went three days without touching my manuscript because I felt completely unable to go on, my JuNoWriMo buddies cheered me on. (One of them even offered some explicit advice on how to stimulate my muse. I still haven't told him my muse is quite masculine...)

     Well, thanks to JuNoWriMo, about an hour ago I finished my first draft. Would I have made it to this point if I had been writing completely on my own? Who knows? But running this month-long marathon with a few hundred encouraging comrades certainly made the journey more rewarding and fun!

(If you want to find out when JuNoWriMo Draft 1 becomes a real, live published book, sign up for my newsletter on the right-hand side-bar!)

Vote: The Beloved Daughter was nominated for Book of the Month at Give it a click!

Random Fact: My fastest 30-minute wordsprint during JuNoWriMo got me 1,505 words.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WIPpet Wednesday: "Take Me First"

WIPpet Wednesday: A sneak peek at a scene from Not Alone.


            Hannah squinted when the door to her dark cell clicked open. “Bring the girl to me,” ordered a voice from outside.

            David jerked against his restraints. “No, take me first.”

            Hannah didn’t have the courage to look at him. She waited in silence as a guard unbuckled her handcuffs and yanked her toward the open door.

            “God be with you!” David’s shout echoed in the concrete cell. Hannah turned her head back as David called out, "I won't stop praying for you!”

            Hannah wondered if she would ever see David again. “Nor I you,” she whispered. The guard led her away.


Please join my email list if you want more information about my progress on Not Alone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Inspiration: Epic First Draft Fails

     I'm not supposed to be blogging on Thursdays this month. I'm supposed to be working on my JuNoWriMo project. At my current word count, I'm definitely on target to finish the manuscript by the end of June.

     But I can't.

     Not without overcoming some serious mental barriers. I'm gearing up to write a really intense, integral part of the story...kind of the pivotal moment, if you will. And I all I can think about are all the tangles still behind me in the first 40,000 words for JuNoWriMo Draft 1.

     First of all, there's the redundant redundancies that sneak their sneaky way into my manuscript. Some of my personal favorites include:

  • “What are you still doing awake?” David was surprised to see his wife awake.
  •  With faltering steps, she stepped in.
  • Tiger didn’t have any more money to spend. He had spent it all already.

And then there's the goofy typos and misspellings, like:
  •  There were dozens of girls aging in range from ten to eighteen.

  • Sparrow didn’t know who the knew girl was. 

And, of course, since I'm often writing late into the night, there's those sentences that are so comically awful I started keeping track of them. I put these in my please don't ask category. For example:

  • His heart hadn’t stopped beating since he entered the room.

  • Tiger was subtly aware that he was panting with excitement.

  • Mr. Tong rested his cup on his knee and looked out the window. (This sentence makes sense except for the fact that Mr. Tong is blind.)
  • Translucent eyelids stared up at him. (Yeah, I told you not to ask.)
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Believe it or not, as embarrassing as these lines would be if they showed up in my completed manuscript, I'm inspired when I read them today. Yes, my first draft is going to have mistakes. Yes, some of the things I write this month won't many any sense at all. But that's why it's a first draft. So, today I'm inspired by my own mistakes, and I hope you got a good laugh out of them as well.


Blog Love: The Thursday's Children blog hop is a chance for authors to write about what inspires them. Thanks again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

Pretty please: My novel, The Beloved Daughter, was nominated for book of the month for an online book club magazine. You can vote for The Beloved Daughter at (Note: You don't have to register to vote if you're on a computer. Sometimes iphones make you register first.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WIPpet Wednesday: The Interrogation

BOOK OF THE MONTH (click here to vote)

Happy Wednesday! Lots of good news this week. I'm 40,000-plus words into my JuNoWriMo and have experienced several writer's highs this go-around that I don't remember feeling with my other manuscripts. Also, I just found out that The Beloved Daughter is up for Book of the Month award from The Book Club Network! This would be an amazing honor for a little indie book like mine! Would you stop by and vote for The Beloved Daughter on the right-hand side? I never even knew it was being considered, so I'm quite flabbergasted!

My WIP continues on namelessly. Here are 19 sentences from "JuNoWriMo Draft 1." (Again with the PG-13 rating, this time for "situational intensity" and "implied violence.")

           “What’s the name of the girl who visited you?” The interrogator was so close to Mr. Tong’s face that Mr. Tong could smell the vinegar on his breath.

“She didn’t tell me her name.” Mr. Tong was thankful that he was blind. The interrogator, no matter how hard he might try, would never be able to get a physical description from him.

            “I will make you talk, old man. Whether you still have a tongue afterwards depends on how much you’re willing to help me.” To make his point, the interrogator pinched one of Mr. Tong’s fingers. Mr. Tong swallowed as a sharp needle found its way to the soft spot between the fingernail and the flesh underneath. “What was her name?”

            Mr. Tong tried to steady his shaking, but the palsy just traveled down to his free hand. The interrogator laughed. “I’ll make you quiver before the night’s through, old man. Now tell me who came to visit you.”

            Mr. Tong waited for his head to steady. He lifted his chin. “Even if I knew her name, I wouldn’t tell you.”

            The interrogator chuckled. Mr. Tong heard the sound of metal clinking. “I was hoping you’d feel that way.”

Many thanks to K. L Schwengel at for hosting this linkup! And please don't forget to vote for the Beloved Daughter!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Literary Things: Interview with Kate Frost

     The talented Kate Frost is a fellow author and WIPpeter, whose debut women's lit novel, The Butterfly Storm, was published just last week! I've been excited about her debut novel ever since I started connecting with Kate through our WIPpet Wednesday blog hops. Kate and I have never met personally, but seem to be kindred spirits, at least in terms of our writing; Kate and I have both been working on time-travel/historical books for kids or teens, and we both published our debut adult novels this year! Today I'm happy to welcome Kate Frost to Lightly Salted for a little chat. SEE BELOW TO SEE HOW YOU CAN WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD!

Me: Congratulations on publishing The Butterfly Storm. Can you give us your elevator pitch so we know what it's about?
Kate: Thanks Alana. I always find it incredibly difficult to succinctly sum up what The Butterfly Storm is about, so if I was really asked this question in an elevator I'd probably get all hot and flummoxed and trip over my words, but what I would really want to say would go something like this:
Sophie Keech is a twenty-something woman about to embark on a new and exciting life in Greece with her boyfriend Alekos. Outwardly life for Sophie is perfect but inside she's struggling with questions that have haunted her ever since her mum, Leila, divulged the truth about Sophie's father. Add to that life in Greece being not all it's cracked up to be and Sophie's hopes and dreams begin to unravel. When an accident involving Leila forces Sophie back to the UK, she has to confront her past before she's able to move on with her future. The Butterfly Storm is a story about the complications of love and family; it follows Sophie's physical and emotional journey through an important turning point in her life.  
Me: Was there a precise moment you decided to write The Butterfly Storm, or did your idea for your first novel progress more gradually?
Kate: It was a gradual progression. I’d already started to write a couple of novels before The Butterfly Storm but I never finished them and had all but abandoned them by the time I applied to Bath Spa University to do a MA in Creative Writing. A big part of the MA was to write 40,000 words of a novel to publishable standard, so the summer before starting the MA was when I really began to think about the novel I wanted to write. The novels I’d worked on previously had been rather dark with sci-fi elements and I wanted to write something completely different and, because of the time restraints, I felt writing a book  that didn’t need a lot of research would be a good idea. I’d also been inspired by the time I’d spent in Greece visiting my now husband’s family so I knew I wanted Greece to feature. By the time I started the MA I had the beginnings of a cast of characters, a loose idea of plot, and a first chapter, which now happens to be chapter seven of the finished novel.
Me: Which of the characters in The Butterfly Storm share bits and pieces of your own personality?
Kate: Ha, now there’s a good question! I’m very different to my main character Sophie, who can be opinionated, passionate and headstrong but I do share her need to have her own space and I like having quiet moments to myself just as she does. I wish I had her spontaneity too. I would say I'm calm like Alekos and have his sense of family values, and I’m a good listener like Robert (Sophie’s mum’s friend).  
Me: How long did you work on The Butterfly Storm? Were there any stages in the writing process that were particularly tedious?
Kate: I started work on The Butterfly Storm in the summer of 2004 and finished the last edit of it in April this year. I should add that I’ve not constantly worked on it for nine years! I finished the first draft within two years, with half of it being written during the MA, and then rewrote and edited it before sending it off to agents in 2007 - 08. I had five agents request the whole novel and their replies were all similar in the fact that they loved it but weren't confident enough that it was going to make money, so they didn't take me on. That's when disappoint struck and I ended up putting the novel aside for a very long time. There have been lots of other things going on in this time too such as getting engaged and married, buying a house and doing it up, plus I’ve written another novel, so I've not been idle.
Once I dusted off the manuscript following the rejections from the agents I sent it out to four independent publishers and one of them also requested to read the whole novel and then suggested some major changes to make the book stronger. This rewrite was tedious and difficult because I ended up cutting flashback chapters, having to restructure the whole novel, write some completely new chapters and then somehow put it all back together again, which took time with rewrites on top of rewrites. That tedious process, however, was the most important one as it undoubtedly made the novel so much better.
Me: What's next for you as a writer?
Kate: Well, first I need to decide on what to do with my children’s novel, Time Shifters - whether to self-publish it or send it out to agents. I think a lot will depend on my experience of self-publishing The Butterfly Storm, so I'll see how the next few weeks go. I've started working on something new, another contemporary women's fiction novel, which will be the follow-up to The Butterfly Storm although it's in no way related. I'm very much at the planning stage of it at the moment but it has the working title of The House of Stone, a main character called Poppy Stone and it will predominately be set in Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Me: If you were to write another women's fiction novel, would you do anything differently?

Kate: Yes! I would think long and hard about the structure of the novel and the way I want to tell the story before starting to write it in the hope that the editing process would be easier than The Butterfly Storm.

Me: How has traveling impacted your writing?
Kate: Spending time in Greece was the catalyst for writing The Butterfly Storm. Even places in the UK have had an impact on my writing with north Norfolk on the east coast of England playing as big a role as Greece does. A visit to Warwick Castle sparked the idea for my children’s novel, Time Shifters, and our honeymoon to Tanzania and Zanzibar has influenced the setting for The House of Stone.  
Me: If a literary genie could grant you one wish for The Butterfly Storm, what would it be?

Kate: I’ve initially published The Butterfly Storm as an eBook but I aim to publish it as a paperback too. I’d love to be able to walk into a bookshop and pick up an actual copy of The Butterfly Storm. That really would be a dream come true. 

Note: You can purchase The Butterfly Storm ebook from or amazon (UK)
Also, anyone who buys The Butterfly Storm between Friday 14th and Friday 28th June and emails the amazon receipt to will be put into a prize draw to win one of two £5/$5 amazon vouchers.