Monday, October 9, 2017

A Berry Sweet Life

By Cynthia T. Toney

Strawberry farming. 

It gets into your blood, as it did me, a city child who visited her paternal grandparents’ strawberry farm during springs and summers of the 1960s. I loved nature and the miracle of life growing in its many forms. I felt closer to God among newborn chicks and young strawberry plants struggling against a late frost.

That Louisiana farm and others like it in the area inspired the physical setting for my first historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom. I chose a period of American history, the 1920s, because of my interest in Italian immigration and organized crime, as well as other significant changes and events in the U.S., many of which Americans more often associate with big cities.

So what was Louisiana strawberry farming like in the 1920s?

Before tractors became commonplace, small family farms of the decade used mule-drawn plows and produced surprisingly large crops of strawberries that way. Farmers transported their berries by car, pickup truck, and horse-drawn wagons to collection points in the small towns nearby.

Word of delicious strawberries from Louisiana rivaling those produced in California made its way to northern cities like Chicago. The Illinois Central Railroad routed them there, and strawberry towns began to flourish.  A box manufacturing company in Independence made specialty crates for the growing industry.

The Louisiana Strawberry Cooperative Association began to use auctions for selling strawberry crops to get farmers the best prices possible. Auction houses sprang up in towns such as Ponchatoula and Hammond. Beautiful and now collectible labels for strawberry crates, flats, and pints were designed and printed for prominent strawberry producers.

Strawberry pickers and packers came from families’ own children, local day laborers, laborers from out of state, and descendants of former slaves from large plantations.

The larger story of strawberry farming in Louisiana is intertwined with the history of the post-Civil War South, Italian and other immigration, developments in commercial art and architecture, and new trends in business practices and shipping. Other states have their own stories as well.

Strawberry farming wasn’t an easy life for anyone, especially in the early days. But by the time I experienced my family’s farm in the 1960s, it was sweet, from a child's perspective. The family farm during strawberry season remains one of the sweetest memories I have.

When my father graduated from high school, my grandfather told him that he could attend college or stay and help work the farm. My father chose to go to college, but guess what he majored in.

Horticulture.

About the Author

Award-winning author Cynthia T. Toney might be new to penning historical fiction, but she isn't new to writing. Her young adult novels, 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, and 6 Dates to Disaster continue to thrive awaiting their final book in the Bird Face Series. Learn more about Cynthia at her author page on the Write Integrity Press site or at CynthiaTToney.com.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Facing Fear With Faith by Peggy Cunningham

We all face things we fear. And, perhaps, children's fears may be more intense. How do
we help them through their fears and teach them to trust God? My children’s book, Really
Rare Rabbits Book 2: Giant Green Ghosts and the Secret at Peppermint Pass is a tool to
help children overcome their fears and trust God. These rare, adorable rabbits take you on
a dangerous journey with them to meet their grandfather. On the way, they face their
fears and learn to trust God.

As a writer, I reap the benefits of researching Bible principles for my children’s books. I
spend time praying and searching verses to incorporate in my stories. Those verses
inevitably cause me to dig deeper for spiritual nuggets to help children, and in the
process, my soul gets stretched. My walk with God grows more intimate as I strive to
impart God’s truth that will impact young lives for Jesus. I love writing for children
because I know how their little minds and hearts quickly soak up God’s Word.

We all go through storms in our lives or face giant obstacles in our paths. Maybe they
aren't the giant green ghosts that my rabbits encounter, but all the same, we cringe when
our giants appear. Children also face their giants. Fi Fi trembles when she meets the
giants, but she remembers a Bible verse tucked away in her heart. "Do not fear; I will
help you" (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

How about you? Are you facing giants today? Don’t tremble, trust God to slay your
giants. Maybe you aren’t a children’s writer, but just as I wrote how God’s Word helped
Fi Fi, it will help you overcome your fears. And, who knows, maybe you’ll discover God
wants you to write for children.

About the Author

Peggy Cunningham and her husband, Chuck, have been missionaries in Bolivia, S.A., since 1981. They have a children's ministry and work with national churches. In addition to her children's books, she writes devotionals for women like her DANCING LIKE BEES, and her new SHAPE YOUR SOUL, coming in spring of 2018. Also coming in the spring is a new series of Holiday stories for children, using the animals at her ranch in Bolivia as her main characters. Watch for HOORAY FOR HOLIDAYS, beginning in January of 2018. Learn more about Peggy and her books at her author page at WriteIntegrity.com.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Collaborative Creations by Shirley Crowder

From time-to-time someone will comment on how difficult it must be to have to co-write with someone.

Guess what? It isn’t! Including the books with Harriet, I have collaborated with two other people on projects, and have worked well with them.

The most important thing in co-writing, after both of you being Christ-followers, is to share very similar theological beliefs and understanding. If these are too dissimilar, the final manuscript will be choppy and inconsistent in presentation of biblical truth throughout the book.

Practically speaking, there are a few things that help make the co-writing process work well.
  • Pray for each other.
  • Agree in advance who will write what portions.
  • Leave your pride behind.
  • Have the person with the most expertise in Word compile, make changes in, and maintain the combined document.
  • Be sure to turn on “tracking” so it is easy to see what edits the other person made.
  • Defend/explain why you think something you wrote should not be changed.
  • Explain why you think something the other person wrote should be changed.
  • Flexibility—be prepared for rewrites, edits, and delays.
As you work together, you read and edit each other’s work. The changes you each make in the other person’s writing will help give the book a more consistent writing style and presentation.

Finally, while there are portions of this process that can be tedious, like galley corrections, it is fun to work with another person. And, when you get stuck, they can help make suggestions that jump start your thought processes and make completing the piece easier.

Have fun and don't forget to laugh at yourself!

About the Author

Shirley Crowder is a biblical counselor and co-host of "Think on These Things," a Birmingham, Alabama, radio/TV program for women. She is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for, The Addiction Connection, and is the author of STUDY GUIDE ON PRAYER. Later this year, she'll be releasing a collection of devotions on prayer that she has co-authored with Harriet E. Michael. Learn more about Shirley at her Write Integrity Author Page.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Book, Another Hurricane - One Author's Saga

Last October, it was Hurricane Matthew that chased Fay Lamb and most of the east coast of Florida to higher ground. The launch of her romantic suspense, EVERYBODY'S BROKEN had to be delayed a full week until she could return to her home and help spread the word about her newest book.

This time, Irma visited, not with floods to Fay's area, but with devastating storms and numerous tornadoes. Thankfully, her family and property are fine. Fay's particularly delighted that the outdoor cat she had adopted weathered the storm.

However, Irma left her with spotty electricity and almost no internet access. Nevertheless, despite Hurricane Irma's attempts to delay this book, FROZEN NOTES has launched.

But this book launch is different, with an ironic spin. Fay has committed all of her royalties through the end of 2017 (from all of her books) to go toward hurricane relief.  FROZEN NOTES is up on Amazon.com in both e-book and print version. And 100% of the author's royalties will go to Samaritan's Purse for its hurricane relief efforts.

As the clean up in South Texas continues, the clean up in Florida begins. Fay and her family are busy helping where they can. We can help this author who is giving so much! Share the link to this blog. Buy FROZEN NOTES to enjoy an outstanding suspense and help hurricane clean up. And while you're at it, continue helping with hurricane clean up by purchasing the rest of her Amazing Grace series: EVERYBODY'S BROKEN, BETTER THAN REVENGE, and STALKING WILLOW.

Her Ties that Bind series is part of this special deal - 100% of all her royalties go to relief efforts. So purchase CHARISSE, LIBBY, and HOPE. (And watch out for DELILAH, the final book next spring.)

Even Fay's non-fiction book, THE ART OF CHARACTERIZATION, will benefit those displaced by the hurricane. A PERFECT gift for aspiring novelists or fiction writers!


Monday, September 11, 2017

The Source of Inspiration by Betty Thomason Owens

Early morning noises penetrated my sleepy head, along with the smell of meat frying. Grandma was up making breakfast. A rooster crowed outside the window. In the distance, a horse nickered and snorted. I rolled out of bed and got dressed. In the big, country kitchen, I splashed my face with water from a tin wash pan, then dried off with a thin cotton towel. No morning showers or baths at Grandma’s house. No indoor plumbing.  A bath required hours of hard labor, hauling in water, heating some on the stove, filling a galvanized tub. It only happened once a week.

I set the table with Grandma’s mixed-matched dishes, then set out cups for five—Grandma, my step-grandfather, my two brothers, and me. I was too hungry to dread the day just yet. That would come as soon as the breakfast dishes were stacked in the wash pan.

Already, they were gathering in the yard. I could hear their voices. I peeked out the screen door to see several of the neighbors sitting on the back of the wagon, ready to go the cotton field. Ready to start the long day’s work.

I was not. I knew it would be hard work. By noon, I’d be hot and tired and hungry again. Picking cotton had to be the worst work ever. Especially for a nine-year-old. Playing hide-and-seek, kick-the-can, or just wandering and wading in the creek seemed way better. But cotton harvest meant all hands on deck (Daddy was a sailor, so I heard that a lot).

I envied little brother, because he did get to play. He played with sticks and rocks in the deep shade of the trees that lined the field. Sometimes, he even lay down in the dirt and slept. Oh, how I wanted to be able to do that, too.


These are the memories that wound their way out of my heart and mind and into the pages of Annabelle’s Ruth and its sequel, Sutter’s Landing. I’m delighted to share them. Those days were difficult, but what I remember most is the sunshine, laughter, the camaraderie of the field hands, and their beautiful voices raised in song as they worked. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pix-N-Pens Publishing Notes by Harriet E. Michael

Pix-N-Pens is a part of Write Integrity Press. It is the nonfiction and children’s picture book imprint of the parent company, Write Integrity.  As a nonfiction author I, along with several other wonderful authors, write under this imprint.

I cannot speak for the children’s writers as I am not one, but will share a little about PNP and nonfiction writing.

PNP strives to publish books that have messages that bring the readers hope and that glorify God. This so closely agrees with my own personal goals in writing nonfiction. I too strive to bring readers hope and glorify God with my writing.

I have been writing nonfiction for the Christian market since 2010, when I began my writing journey. For many years I wrote only small pieces that I had freelanced and submitted to magazines, devotionals, and anthologies. Today I have over 200 such pieces published in numerous magazines, devotionals, online sites, and anthologies. I still freelance on a regular basis and even lead workshops on it at writers’ conferences.

In 2015, my full-length manuscript, “Prayer: It’s Not About You” was contracted by Pix-N-Pens and released a year later in May of 2016. Since then my childhood friend, Shirley Crowder wrote a study guide for my book and we are currently under contract with PNP for two more books. We are both quite happy as PNP authors and thank God for this publishing company!

About the Author

Harriet Michael is a writer, a grandma, and an outstanding prayer warrior. Her books are filled with insight and experience growing up as a missionary kid and serve to encourage believers in walking daily with our Lord. 

You can learn more about Harriet at her author page

Monday, September 4, 2017

Content Edit Tips

You have a story? You've written, "The End." Now what? How does the story in the computer become a book that other folks can download or hold in their hands?

There are a number of ways to get your manuscript into a published, available form, but you will want it to be at its absolute best. If you're seeking traditional publication your manuscript needs to be perfected and polished. If you're wanting to indie publish, even moreso should your manuscript be perfect. No one wants to hear from a reviewer that the book was disappointing because there were extraneous typos. An even worse scenario would be for readers to be frustrated over inconsistencies or errors within the essential elements of your story.

Before you start worrying over punctuation and typos, you'll want to go through the 7 major elements
of your book. Tonight, Tuesday September 5, at 7PM Central, the Executive Editor of Write Integrity Press, Marji Laine Clubine, and her special guest, author Fay Lamb who is a highly sought freelance editor in her own right, will discuss the major elements of a fiction novel and how to edit for those elements.

In fact, this topic is such an in depth concept, Fay and Marji will be discussing it through December on Publishing Laine, a talk show on the "Along Came a Writer" network at Blogtalk Radio. If you have questions about editing, email DownPublishingLaine@gmail.com. If your question is used, you'll receive a free book - US residents only.

And if you're looking at this article after Tuesday, September 5, 2017, you can visit the Publishing Laine show at THIS LINK.