My husband and I were watching Glenn Beck on FOX News Channel yesterday and he made an interesting correlation between the animated movie, Finding Nemo and a real-life lesson.  He showed a clip where the star fish was in the fish tank and a young girl came close and looked scary to him and he said that he needed to find his happy place.  Glenn discussed that when life happens and things are not so great, we can get angry, or unplug and ignore it or have a Nemo moment and find our happy place, realizing that life will get better. 

I told my husband that I’ll definitely have to use that idea of having a Nemo moment when life hits me hard.  Life is all about perspective and sometimes I allow my circumstances to overwhelm me and don’t always easily trust that God has a greater purpose for everything that I’m going through.  Being content in all circumstances is not always easy, but trying, does help you get through those trying times.  In small group last night, we discussed this same topic of how in life, trials happen but striving to be content in all circumstances is helpful to keeping the right perspective. 

So, do you have a happy place? I love spending time at home with my husband and also spending time with family and friends.  However, sometimes life brings craziness and it can come in the form of dealing with relationships.  One reason that I enjoy writing is that it is a therapeutic outlet for me.  Diving into my current WIP is fun and I get to escape my own life but for a moment and it allows me a chance to breathe and relax.  I’m sure my fellow writers out there will understand this happy place in writing.   

Do you find that when you write, it’s therapeutic for you?  Is writing a happy place for you?  I’d love to find out your thoughts on this subject.  Please feel free to comment.  Have a great weekend and watch for my interview with author, Sarah Sundin, this Monday.
The willing suspension of disbelief was first utilized by the English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Basically, if a writer can impart a human element and an aspect of truth into the story, the reader will be drawn in and willingly suspend their disbelief and fully engage in the far-fetched tale. 

Isn't that why we read fiction novels and short stories and go to see movies?  We want to be entertained and forget about our lives for the moment and transport to another world.  Of course, when you are writing, you always want to get the facts straight and keep those in order so that your readers believe your words.  However, when you write something fantastical or paranormal, you have more license with your story telling, provided you create a believable human element to your story. 

No matter what you write about, if you don’t have a compelling human element, your readers will not be drawn into the story and they won’t willingly suspend their disbelief and walk with you on the journey that could be great if your human element was great. 

One of my favorite aspects of writing a book is to create compelling characters.  I want them to captivate the readers from the moment they meet them and read the first description or first bit of dialogue.  I want my characters to be three-dimensional.  Even if you have the best plot, if your characters are not compelling, your story will fall flat and leave the reader wanting more. 

One-dimensional characters are only fillers and you usually will not have many of these.  They exist as a necessary means to move certain aspects of the plot forward.  For example, in my book, Mr. Shipley's Governess, my protagonist walked to the post office to get the mail.  She met a woman outside and just said hello and also spoke to the Postman.  They were necessary one-dimensional characters, not heard of again in the rest of the novel. 

In most short stories, the characters are two-dimensional and readers do not see much personal growth because these characters are only supposed to move the plot line forward.  In the short story, the plot is the star, not the characters. 

In a novel, the characters take center stage and it is through them that the reader is drawn into the story and the characters drive the plot.  The human element must be real in a novel; otherwise, the readers will not connect with the characters and thus they will soon tire of the novel.  Three-dimensional characters must have a past, live in the present and look towards the future.  They must exhibit believable emotions, even if the story line is fantastical.  If the emotions are raw and real, the reader will truly bond with the characters and become totally engrossed in the story. 

Especially when writing a romance novel, the writer should focus on the two main protagonists, the romantic interests.  Other characters will be secondary; although, contrary to the short story, these two-dimensional characters will have to be fleshed out to some degree to make them work well in the novel.  If you are writing a mystery novel, you will still have only a few (one to three) main characters, but you also need to focus in on making certain your secondary characters have some depth.  However, never rob your protagonists of the center stage.  They are the ones that your readers will focus most attention on and rightly so. 

Keep your facts straight and you’ll get points with your readers.  Take time to edit your work so that grammar mistakes and misspellings do not distract your readers.  Create a gripping plot that will keep your readers turning the pages.  However, most of all keep the human element as the highest priority and create compelling characters that your readers will relate to and come to call friends.  
I remember the first time I started reading grown-up books when I was a teenager and I was so excited to read.  I’ve always had a love of reading and I can thank my mom for that.  She has been an avid reader and that love for reading got passed down to me and my brothers and sisters.  My favorite author during my teenage years was Janette Oke, one of the first inspirational romance authors in the Christian fiction market.  I read all of her books.  Since then, I’ve graduated on to other authors and more difficult reads but I still remember that Ms. Oke’s books inspired me to read and believe that someday I could write inspirational romance books. 

Currently, my two favorite contemporary authors are Karen Kingsbury and Terri Blackstock.  I love how they both write books that draw you right into the lives of their characters and you just can’t wait to finish reading the story.  Ms. Kingsbury’s books, in particular, have been another source of inspiration to me.  I’ve learned so much about writing, just by reading her books (as well as every other book I’ve read).  R.I.F. ~ Reading is Fundamental…I remember that campaign from school days, to help students understand how important reading is. 

I haven’t yet bought a kindle or other eBook reading device, but I’m sure I’ll get to that sometime in the near future.   I’m putting that on hold for right now because I just love holding a book in my hands when I read.  I know…I’m old school, but I love the smell of books and turning pages and immersing myself in the lives of the characters.  As a writer, I do like the idea of eBooks and want people to purchase my book, Mr. Shipley’s Governess when it comes on in the next few weeks.  However, I hope books never go out of style, at least not during my lifetime. 

Back to the fundamentals of reading ~ reading is a wonderful tool to learn.  We can keep our minds active and continually educate ourselves on new topics.  Sitting down to watch TV does not require a lot of cranial effort; whereas, reading a book, does.  Some people do not find reading enjoyable and it’s hard for me to understand that, only because I love to read. 

My husband and I do not have children, yet, but when we do, I am definitely going to make an effort to instill a love for reading into their lives.  My husband was not a big reader, but he has recently begun to read more and, to me, I think that’s awesome. 

Recently, I was introduced to a great resource for readers,  The Reading Room is a global community for readers.  Once you sign up for a free online profile, you have access to a wonderful online source.  There are reading groups, book recommendations for you as well as access to view authors’ profiles. 

I was invited to join as an author on their site and I was excited to accept that invitation.  Many readers are members of this website and I hope to mix and mingle with people on this site as well as learn more about some great authors. 

As an author, it’s hard to find time to balance reading and writing, but it is so necessary to becoming a better writer.  Have you read any good books lately?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.  Please feel free to post a comment.  
Bloom where you are planted is a well-known quote and it came to mind today as I was working from my home office, trying to get a zillion things done and feeling a little overwhelmed as if nothing was getting done.  I was preparing for a status meeting for one of my clients that I do marketing work for and as I listed the weekly stats and updated where we’re at right now with our various projects, I remembered hearing this quote during a political speech several years ago and I stopped to think.

I realized that I can only do what I can do as long as I am also doing everything to my fullest abilities.  Of course I want to do good work.  If I don’t do good work for my marketing clients or in writing my books or marketing my books, that’s not good for me or my clients.  However, this quote made me realize that I need to do everything unto God and try my best and He’ll do the rest.  Bloom where you are planted. 

I may not be where I want to be right now in regard to having more marketing clients or making the best seller lists, but I need to be content in my current circumstances, while always advancing further and hoping to achieve more success.  If I’m complaining, that’s not going to get me anywhere, but depressed and never blooming into a successful person. 

No matter what I’m doing, I must do it with grace and dignity and try to do my best.  I must make every effort to succeed and grow from my current circumstances.  Even though I hate change, I must learn to embrace it.  Seasons come and seasons go, but as long as I am always trying to grow and become a better person, then I will truly bloom where I am planted and bring a smile to my Heavenly Father’s face.  

Lauren Hammond has been writing pretty much as long as she has been able to hold a pencil.  She had always been an avid reader but, when she was ten, she decided to put her imagination down on paper.  Then, she won her first essay contest.  From that moment, she had nowhere to look but up.  At twenty-one, her first novel, The Aloria Chronicles: Curse of the Kingdom Sorceress was published. During that same year, she won the Best Poets and Poems award of 2007, and The Editor’s Choice Award for my poem Summer Days.  Writing has always been her one, true, passion. Never give up, never surrender, that’s her theory on the world of writing.  In 2010, her latest novel, Love Sucks was released.  One thing she prides herself in is, always wanting to help other writers.  She knows how much of a struggle getting published can be.  She is always open to answer any questions aspiring writers have.  She also tries to live her everyday life by this motto: Trying isn’t failing; you’ve failed if you haven’t tried.

Twitter - @NovelistLauren

Facebook Fan Page-!/pages/Lauren-Hammond/100755776636370

Book Trailer -

In England during the seventeen hundreds, Cara Jones had her human life ended for her and she became a creature of the night.  One moment she's an adolescent young woman living her life, the next she's lurking in the streets at night looking for her next meal.  The vampire slayings in England became so brutal the whole race was nearly wiped out.  So Cara and the clan she called her extended family fled to the U.S. to make a home.  They kept to themselves and stayed out of trouble by feeding on recently deceased corpses and cleaning out blood supplies at local hospitals.  When one of the clan members makes a mistake, they are once again being hunted and Cara is the only one who makes it out alive.  Cara is officially the last vampire on earth.  So when Cara awakes from a two hundred year slumber, she awakes to a new city, new people, and a new way of life.  Cara sets out on a journey to find her soul mate, the one person who is designed for her.  Along the way she encounters a zany new friend, a jealous coworker, and a man whom she can't live without.  Dr. Jared Sayers is her destiny.  Will Jared give up everything he knows to be with Cara?  Or will she wander the earth for the rest of eternity alone?

1. Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

It had always been a dream of Lauren’s, ever since she was young, to become a writer.  She didn’t initially make the move until 2006 when a friend of hers, along with her three children died in a house fire.  Her intentions were to start a scholarship fund for her at the high school she graduated from.  Lauren had always loved writing and always said, one day, she was going to write books, but, she always found herself putting that dream on the back burner.  After her friend Andria died, she decided that life is too precious, and too short.  She didn’t want to live her life with any regrets.  She told herself that she would pursue her dreams no matter what.  And so far, she’s still writing.

2. What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?

The latest book she has have been working on is called A Whisper to a Scream.  It’s a YA thriller/romance about a teen who suspects the love of her life to be a serial killer.  Her inspiration for this is, when she’s writing, is that she always finds herself teetering on the what if factor?  She always likes for her readers to ask themselves, what would I do in that situation?  Young love can be so beautiful, indulgent, poetic even.  But, it also has a dark side.  And that dark side can be deadly.  So she wanted her readers to really ask themselves what matters more, the matter of the mind, or the matter of the heart?  

3. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

That depends. (smirks) Sometimes when she gets an idea, the character is totally fictional.  That’s just the character that comes to mind when she starts writing. Other times, she can totally throw a little bit of people she knows into the character but, it also depends on the book she’s writing.

4. What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?

A book she’s working on called Memoirs of a Charity Girl required a lot of extensive research on drug addicts and drugs in general.  The different types of drugs, how people overcome addiction.  Most of it was new to her.

5. How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?

What usually comes to her first is the first line in the book.  After that is written, the rest of the story seems to magically unfold in her mind.  For Lauren, everything starts with that first sentence.

6. Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Several; three in particular: Memoirs of a Charity Girl, Pride, and the sequel to A Whisper to a Scream titled Yelling Out Loud.  She’s also a screenwriter and has a couple of screenplays she’s currently working on.

7. Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book?  Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?

She can’t stress self-belief, hard work, and perseverance enough.  She always tells writers to keep writing.  She always tells them to NEVER give up.  If she would have given up when she wanted to, who knows where she would be?
As authors, we are always going to have to deal with book reviews, both the good and the bad.  Reviews are a part of the business.  If we don’t learn how to constructively deal with our reviews, we are going to have problems. 

One fact we need to remember is that we will never please everyone.  That’s a fact, pure and simple.  We need to work towards pleasing our inner critic, as our number one priority.  We must always strive to put our best work out there for our readers.  If we can please our inner critic and our editors, we are well on our way to pleasing our readers.  Reviewers have a part in selling our books, but they are not a major player.  Our readers are the major players because when they like a book, they spread the word like wild fire. 

Of course, we cannot forget about our reviewers, because all reviews, whether positive or negative, have effects on our sales and the general perception of our book.  Receiving a great book review is a wonderful confidence builder and helps to motivate you towards success and starting new writing projects.  A great review will catch prospective readers’ eyes and get you new book sales.  Receiving awesome book reviews will help to brand your reputation as a great author. 

Don’t get discouraged if you get bad book reviews because they are inevitable.  You will never please everyone and when you get a bad book review, you need to utilize it to your advantage.  Don’t let it paralyze you with fear and negatively affect your self-esteem.  Even though it’s painful, read through the entire bad book review.  Don’t react right away, but take some time to think about what the reviewer is saying.  If you seem to get repeated remarks from different reviewers on the same critique, you may want to give that aspect some extra attention to see if there is truth to it. 

Your writing is always your own.  You don’t have to listen to editors, but it would be smart to take what they say to heart.  If you don’t want to listen to editors, then you won’t make it with a good publishing company and you’ll need to self-publish your book.  The point here is that if you don’t make your work the best possible creation that you can, then you are always going to have bad book reviews.  If you take constructive criticism to heart and proceed with a willingness to make your work the best that you can, then you will get some great book reviews. 

Even if you get a bad review from a reviewer or from a customer, this can be for your advantage because bad publicity is still publicity.  Readers are not stupid and they won’t always listen to book reviews.  Getting a bad book review could even spur people on to read the book for themselves so that they can be their own judge.  

No matter what, don’t allow discouragement from a bad book review to keep you prisoner.  Read it with an open mind, take the good with the bad and move on from there.  Great reviews are just over the horizon!  
I read a blog this past week from an author who had some strong viewpoints on why authors should not blog for marketing of their books, but should only utilize social media for fun and the pure social aspect.  I agreed with some of this author’s ideas on this subject but not everything. 
I believe that authors should find a balance between using the social media networks for fun and for marketing.  The author I mentioned claimed that your circle of friends will get tired of your incessant self-promotion.  I agree with that; however, I find that if you share snippets of the daily journey in your writing career, most of your network of friends and family will be supportive and won’t mind.  Of course, if you constantly try to “sell” your books online to your social network, that could get annoying.  That’s why I wrote in a previous blog entry that you should utilize the social media networks but also spread your marketing over to other online forums etc. 
This author also wrote that you should focus on writing your next book and leave the marketing up to your publisher.  Well, not every new or mid-list writer has the luxury of being signed with a big publisher who can push their authors’ works.  Many writers need to do a lot of their own marketing.  Remember, you are your biggest fan and if you don’t market your book, you’re not going to be successful. 
This author wrote that your book will succeed on word of mouth of your readers.  Well, that’s great and I truly believe that; however, you may have the best book in the world but if no one knows about it, how will anyone read it and thus spread the word.  So, for many new authors, they need to latch onto this new phenomenon of social media networking and online marketing and utilize it to their own advantage.   
Blogging is great, as long as you keep in mind that you need to be informative in your information you are giving out and don’t brag on yourself all the time.  Keep using online marketing, but find the balance and always have fun while you’re marketing your book. 

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    DISCLAIMER: Book Reviews

    In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging & endorsements, I want to post this disclaimer. From time to time, I do purchase and review some novels. However, most of the novels I review are given to me as a complimentary review copy by the author or publisher. I do not receive  monetary compensation for the reviews I complete.

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