Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year! God bless us, every one.

Yea! I love it when a new year begins. It's a new start, fresh and clean. Of course, we don't know what the new year will bring, but as an optimist, I always expect something good. And this year I'm hoping for a book contract!!! or maybe two. Dream big, if you're going to dream. Why not? What do you have to lose?

I love my new book! I can't wait to start actually writing. I've been researching for quite a while, it seems, and I'm remembering--vividly--why research is my least favorite part of the process. The book is (very loosely) based on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. I had this thing for that story when I was growing up. Remember that TV show? For a while, I lived for that show. I'm sure my mother thought I was warped. I don't know why I love that love story, but there's something about it. Now I have a whole book outlined in my head based on it, and I love it! Oh, it's gonna be goooooood. As soon as I have a couple of hours together that I can sit at the computer, I'm going to write the first page! So exciting.

Actually, I don't really love writing that first page, or even that first chapter. It's so nerve wracking, because I know how important it is. If the first chapter stinks, no one's going to read the book. I guess I've probably done this to myself, though, because I rarely read past the first few pages of a book. If it's boring, I put it down and never read it, even if I bought the book with my own money. So I'm paying for it every time I start a new book.

But enough about me. Happy New Year! I hope your new year is blessed by the Lord, that you dream big and your dreams come true. Never let fear stop you, or slow you down, or even make you so much as hiccup! For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but (He gave us The Spirit) of Power, Love and Self-Discipline! Amen! Jesus is Lord.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Favorite, What's Yours?



My absolute favorite book, written in the last 20 years or so, is (drum roll, please) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.
To be honest, I had trouble getting into it at first. It was sort of depressing. So many sad things happen to the poor girl! But if you can hang in there until page 53, when the hero enters the story, you will be well rewarded! Oh, my, I was so impressed with the way Francine Rivers made me totally understand the things the heroine was going through, why she did what she did, which, if you didn't "know" her, would seem wacky and unjustifiable. But Rivers makes us "know" the character intimately.
This book is actually the story of Gomer and the prophet Hosea from the Old Testament. She transfers the characters to the 19th century and the gold rush days of the wild west. The way she weaves the story, you totally believe it. Nothing sounds hokey, and it makes you think about yourself, how much God loves and forgives each one of us. And the love story is just plain exciting. I love a good romance. It's just so seldom you find one that is believable and not contrived and predictable, without any sex scenes.
And it has a happy ending. That's a must for me, I'm sorry. And it made me want to go out and start a ministry to prostitutes! Oh wow, this book is powerful. You gotta read it.
Now it's your turn to leave a comment and tell me your favorite novel that has been published in the last twenty years or so. I would love to know everyone else's favorite, so please don't hesitate to leave a comment!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Watching the Tree Limbs, A Review



Mary DeMuth's first published novel is about Mara, a young girl whose life is a mass of secrets in a small Texas town that is beset with its own deceptions and corruption. Who are Mara's parents? The birth certificate she finds shows that her name is actually Maranatha, but it doesn't answer any of her other questions.
One of the first things that happens to Mara when she moves to Burl, Texas, is perhaps the worst thing that could happen to a child. But that terrible thing doesn't happen anymore after the first 33 pages (just in case you're too afraid to keep reading). It's painful, but so true and real and prevalent today that we all need to be more aware of child molestation, the signs and ways to prevent it. And this book treats it realistically and appropriately.
But you will thoroughly enjoy the rest of this Southern fiction masterpiece. Mary DeMuth is a talented writer who paints vivid pictures and skillfully draws you in with her quirky characters.
There are several mysteries Mara tries to solve, in her little girl way, and she wonders why God seems so far away. Who can't identify with that? But He IS there, and you will enjoy the ways He begins to show up in Mara's life and in the life of the town, bringing justice to the evil people and mercy to Mara.
The ending is great, and I hear the next book in the series is even better. It's called Wishing on Dandelions and I can't wait to read it. I highly recommend Watching the Tree Limbs. It's well worth your time.
Tune in for my next blog post when I reveal the book I think is the all-time greatest modern contemporary book. (Was that redundant? But you know what I mean.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

There are two things a writer can (usually) count on: Hope and Rejection. When you stop hoping, you stop writing, and when you stop getting rejections, it means you've stopped submitting your work and stopped letting other people read it. Neither one is good.

So here I am, letting hope spring eternal. And here I wait for the rejections to come in, because come they will. It's part of being a writer, and part of submitting your work. But isn't it that way with anything creative that you do? Someone will not like it. It will be rejected, and people will not always be nice about it. But I have a pretty thick skin now. I've lived long enough to earn that thick skin.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Had a wonderful conference

Conference was wonderful. The singing was awesome. Such awesome songs, such awesome musicians and singers, such great company with whom to worship the most creative Creator.

Greatest of all was being with my friends and fellow critiquers. I wish we lived closer, but at least we have email. I love you guys!

I finally finished Susan Downs's and Susan May Warren's four-book series, The Heirs of Anton. Set in Russia, it was truly great fun to read how the whole story unfolded. Some great plot ideas. So if you like romantic suspense and historicals, you will enjoy this series.

I came home from the conference with NINE new books! Wow, I have a lot of reading to do. But first I have to finish revising my book and send it off to the publishers who asked to see it. Can't wait. I hope they like it! I guess maybe actors go through the same thing when they audition for a part, except they're saying, "I hope they like me!" Wow, the rejection possibilities are overwhelming. But at least we know God always loves us. He will never reject us or forsake us.

Friday, September 08, 2006

ACFW Conference: It's that time again

I finally got back to my blog! I said I was going to blog about this tomorrow, but that was a week ago. OOpah.

Anyway, in less than two weeks I'll be in Dallas at the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference. Oh my goodness! Last year was my first year to go, and I feel so blessed to be able to go again. This time I have to fly. Yikes! It makes me nervous, for some reason. (No, not for some reason, for three reasons, but I won't feed the fear by talking about it.)

Anyway, I'll be pitching my new book, The Woodcutter's Daughter, and seeing my old friends and making new friends. I get a fifteen-minute interview with one editor and one agent of my choice to pitch my book, plus I plan to try to pitch to other editors and agents by accosting them in the hallways and elevators. This is perfectly legal and not considered obnoxious, as long as you're polite about it and don't shove your manuscript at them, or try to slip it to them under the bathroom stall. :-)

I'm really excited and can't wait to see everyone! I also get to meet and talk with published authors who are there to teach the workshops and participate in a book signing. That's a lot of fun, too. But one of the biggest highlights for me is the worship time. Oh, wow, the singing is awesome, and I'm already so thankful to God for where he's brought me, into the wonderful world of writing, as of three and a half years ago, and for allowing me to go the conference, that I just overflow with tears of joy and gratitude. It's an incredible experience to be with so many godly women--and there are a few men there, too--and worship and learn together. I love it!!!

But I'm asking people to pray for me, too. Not getting enough sleep because I'm too excited is not a good thing for me. We won't even talk about what happened last year. Pray that I will remember that God is with me, that he wants me to be calm and at peace, and he wants me to TRUST HIM that everything will work out the way it's supposed to. I don't know why that's so hard to do.

But if you write, go to this conference. It's wonderful.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I finished!!!

I finished my second novel last week. It isn't just a rough draft, either. I am always compelled to go back and edit as I go, plus my wonderful--and I do mean wonderful--critique partners, Jamie Driggers and Caren Fullerton, have critted it as well. (I love those girls). Anyway, I was so excited and happy about the way my book turned out, the plot came together so well, that I got depressed after I finished it. It was an attack of self-doubt and fear that really blind-sided me. But I'm better now. I'm praying every day, several times a day, for peace and calm. It's the only way I'm going to get through the next several weeks.
Which brings me to the subject of the ACFW conference, but I want to save that for tomorrow's blog.
Anyway, here's my quick pitch that Jamie and the others in our critique group helped me with yesterday.
"Sleeping Beauty meets Pride and Prejudice when a betrothed prince falls for a woodcutter's daughter whose secret identity endangers both their lives."
I hope the editors like it. :-)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Songbird



Lisa Samson is good. I love her book, Songbird. She creates memorable characters, complete with idiosyncrasies and pet phrases. But my favorite thing about her writing is her mature, wise observations. So true to life. I wonder if I will ever be able to write like that. But no, I know I'll never write like Lisa Samson. But I hope I'll write like a really wise, mature Melanie Dickerson. Some day.

Anyway, I've digressed. Songbird is about a woman, Myrtle Charmaine, who had a pretty awful childhood and is now dealing with that. She is such a wonderfully honest character, a good person, determined not to ever be like her own mother. She's complex, but simple at the same time. Sometimes I think to myself, "I know just how you feel, Myrtle Charmaine."

I'm looking forward to reading more books by Lisa Samson, one of my new favorite authors.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Medieval/Contemporary Novel by Siri Mitchell



Chateau of Echoes is an awesome novel, unique in that it switches back and forth from medieval times and the story of a 13-year-old girl forced to marry a man she's never met, and a contemporary story involving a young widow who buys a French chateau and finds the long-lost journal of the 13-year-old from the 1400's.

I really love the concept, and Siri executes it very well. In fact, she's a finalist for a Christy award in the Romance category. There's also a bit of mystery and suspense that make this book even more interesting. I highly recommend it and hope to read more Siri Mitchell books, since this was my first.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Everything's Coming Up Josey



Susan May Warren is great at plotting. She tries her hand at chick lit and comes out looking like a pro. But that's what she is. A pro, I mean. Anyway, check out my review of her great new book.

If you like chick lit, you will love Susan’s latest book. I was laughing out loud at Josey’s misadventures as a first-year missionary. In fact, I think the chick lit format is appropriate for the subject matter, since, by it’s very nature, a missionary’s first year in a foreign country is such that if you don’t laugh at it, you just might spend the year crying. Believe me, I know. I spent a year in Ukraine.

Josey is a 24-year-old ready to jump at the chance to escape her life. Her sister/best friend just married Josey’s ex-boyfriend, Josey has a dead-end, non-glamorous job at the local newspaper, and her best bud from grade school, middle and high school has a fiancĂ© that looks like she spends five days a week in the gym. Yes, Josey needs a change—a big one.

But everyone is shocked when she announces she’s going to Moscow to teach English. Even Josey can hardly believe it, but she discovers a lot about herself—and God—before she even leaves the States. Her complicated, three-ring circus of a love life, and her animal-print, tight mini-skirted roommate all lead her to her knees praying for God’s direction.

This is a must read for chick lit lovers. Don’t miss it! I highly recommend it, especially if you ever wondered what it’s like to be a missionary.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Waiting for Summer's Return, a review



Kim Sawyer has written a superb novel, and I really mean that. It was very enjoyable, with real, full-of-life characters. Check out my review below.

Waiting for Summer’s Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer
A review by Melanie Dickerson

Summer Steadman finds herself stranded in a small Mennonite town in Kansas in the late 1800’s after her husband and four young children die of Typhoid. When Summer tries to find a job in the town, widower Peter Ollenburger is the only person, it seems, who is willing to extend her any kindness. He shows up at her hotel to ask her if she would stay on his property and tutor to his nine-year-old son. She has no other prospects, so she accepts.

There seems to be no attraction between them at first, even though Peter’s neighbors are convinced they are living in sin, even threatening to cast Peter out of the community if he does not send the woman away. But Summer has no family to turn to, and she is determined to stay near her children’s gravesite. Peter refuses to force her to leave, gently but firmly standing up to the suspicious townspeople.

Kim Sawyer turns in a fine writing performance with her strong, deep characters and gentle story. She uses great depth of insight in treating her delicate subject matter with deftness and reality. Though she is true to the feelings a bereft mother would naturally experience, at no time does the novel sink into despondence. Summer’s reluctance to trust God again, her fear of His answering “no” to all of her prayers as He did her prayer to spare her husband and children’s lives, will resonate with anyone who has gone through a tough time.

I highly recommend this insightful story to all romance readers. It will strengthen your faith in God and leave you remembering the characters fondly, like friends with whom you would enjoy spending more time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Spiritual Warfare



Spiritual warfare: What is it? Well, it isn't blasting Satan with a light saber, but it is real, or so I believe.
I could go on and on with this subject, but for today I will simply post my review for a great book, I Believed and Therefore I Spoke, by good friend Tim Black.

I Believed and Therefore I Spoke by Timothy T. Black, Jr.

Be glad this book isn't terribly long. . .Because you won't be able to put it down once you start reading it.

As the father and husband of a conservative Christian family, author Timothy Black tells about a walk he took one afternoon with his eighteen-year-old son, Anderson. The conversation began with Anderson asking his father if he believed dead people roamed the earth. When Timothy Black told him, 'No, I don't think so,' Anderson told him that he could see things, people, that other people couldn't see, and he believed they were dead people. In fact, sometimes these spirits talked to him, including one particular spirit who had been visiting him since he was a small child.

Thus begins an incredible roller-coaster ride for this family as they attempt to rescue their son from the occultic world he has become involved in, as well as from the demonic spirits that are controlling him. By the end of the story the author has had to radically change his beliefs in order to save his son. This book is for anyone skeptical that demons can possess or oppress people today, anyone with a teenager or loved one in any way involved with the occult, and anyone wondering what to do if they suspect demonic activity in their own home or family.

Be prepared to be challenged and informed.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Review of In Sheep's Clothing



I met author Susan May Warren at the ACFW conference in Nashville last September. She is very sweet and easy to talk to. And now her book, In Sheep's Clothing, is a finalist in the romance category of the Christy Awards. A Christy Award, wow! Yes, this book is that good.

I am including my review of it here. Go out and get this book. It is awesome! I highly recommend it, and I don't say that very often!

Vicktor Shubnikov is an agent with the FSB, formerly known as the KGB. Vicktor has three close, Christian friends. For years he has been resisting their efforts to lead him to Jesus. He doesn't trust God, and he blames himself for the fact that his policeman father was shot and crippled while they both were pursuing the serial killer known as the Wolf.

On the other side of the city, American missionary Gracie Benson feels like a failure as she prepares to return home. There isn't much to return home to, and she hasn't made one single convert after two years in Russia. But when she discovers the murdered bodies of two of her fellow workers, she fears she won't be able to stay alive long enough to leave, since she has something in her possession that the Wolf continues to kill for.

When KGB agent Vicktor tracks down terrified Gracie on the first train out of town, a snowball of a plot starts rushing downhill and doesn't stop until the very last page. If you like romantic suspense, you will love In Sheep's Clothing. Susan May Warren delights the reader with palpable tension in every scene and every dialogue exchange. Her powerfully descriptive word choices make you feel as though you are in Siberia, too, running for your life from a killer, with a hunk of a KGB agent by your side who is desperate to keep you alive and find the killer before he finds you. You wonder if Vicktor will be able to trust God, to give his heart to Jesus. And you feel for Gracie as she grasps the lesson that God sent her to Russia to learn, cheering for her as she begins to trust again and to forgive herself for the past.

The love story in this book is so good, and the identity of the killer so unexpected, you will want to read this book again, more slowly the second time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Welcome! (What am I doing?)

Welcome to my blog! I'm about as far from a techie as a person can get, so I'm frankly shocked that I'm actually trying something (as simple as) a blog. In fact, this was totally unplanned! A question popped up on a screen as I'm reading my friend's blog. Do I want to create my own blog? Well, why not? But, I'm thinking, if it takes longer than five minutes and requires technical knowlege, I'm outta there!