Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dusting off an Old Manuscript

When I teach writing classes, I always talk about how important it is to get those ideas out of your head and down on the paper. Lump of clay writing, I call it—or in less delicate terms, word vomit! In the winter of 2013-2014 I word vomited the sequel to Dance from Deep Within onto my computer while I awaited the decision on my Valiant Hearts Series from Bethany House Publishers. As many of you know, I landed that deal, and the next two years were a blur of writing, editing, and marketing Dauntless, Chivalrous, and Courageous.

But now those books are out on the market, and for the last year I’ve been launching a new career of public relations writing for the non-profit humanitarian organization, Operation Blessing. I haven’t had much time for writing anything new. You see where this is going, right? While I didn’t have time for writing something new, I did have time to edit and complete my 95% finished first draft.

mock up cover
So I dusted off (okay, I found and opened the old Microsoft Word file of) Dare from Deep Within and set to work. I still had some challenges to face since I had shifted directions somewhere in the middle and needed to clean up my characterization and motivation. The wording needed a good edit, and I had to write the ending. However, just a few months later, in my spare time, I’ve managed to complete a very solid draft of the novel. WhiteFire, who published the first book in the series, has agreed to release book 2 sometime in 2017! That's a mock cover, I still want to find a more youthful, thinner looking figure of a Muslim woman in a niqab.

It turns out what I teach my student’s is true. It’s always worth getting those ideas down on paper, even if they grow dusty on the shelf. How about you? Have you ever dusted off an old manuscript? What were the results?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Sleimans. 2016 has been a pretty good year for us. My husband, Dani, is still working at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Adam (14) has branched out, and in addition to music, gymnastics, and online video gaming, he has been enjoying soccer and his global studies high school program. Christi (22) is finishing up her B.S. in engineering while working as a head resident advisor, and still considering options like grad school, peace corp or finding a job for next year. Jonny (19) is doing great in his business undergrad program, he's the vice president of his award-winning Enactus business club, and still fitting in a lot of surfing and other outdoor activities. Christi and Adam both plan to go on short term missionary trips during summer 2017.

For me the year brought my first "real" job. I'm enjoying my work writing for the humanitarian organization, Operation Blessing. In addition to writing social media posts, articles, webpages, and helping the team with editing and research,  I also wrote a nonfiction book for them called 10 Ways to Live Your Faith, which will hopefully be available sometime soon. My co-workers are amazing and tons of fun! This year also brought my first major published award--the Carol for young adult fiction. And I'm still chipping away at my novel writing and finding a new groove with that as a working woman.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful, blessed New Year!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Austen in Austin: Blogmates Watch a Dream Come True

Back in 2009, when I was first learning the writing industry and seriously seeking publication, God joined me with a group of ladies to help me along my quest. I was invited to join Inkwell Inspirations, a new writers blog comprised mostly of writers who had won writing contests (I had just won the Touched by Love contest) but were still unpublished. Over the next years, we would become not only blogmates, but also close friends, prayer partners, and in many ways a writing team. So it's not surprising that we decided to band together on a writing project, and Austen in Austin was born. Several more years passed before this dream became a published reality, but I'm happy to share it with you today. 

As you can see, these eight fun Texas-set novellas are based on Jane Austen's novels. We had such a great time inventing these stories with their overlapping settings and characters and their Austenian plot lines, and I just know that you'll enjoy them too! They're written by some great established names in Christian fiction like Lisa Richardson, Gina Welborn, and yours truly, as well as some authors who might be new to you now, but will soon become favorites. I highly recommend reading them in order for the full experience. The ebooks are a great deal at only $3.99 each for four delightful stories!

Here's what people are saying about Austen in Austin
"They had me at the title! What's not to love about a collection of novellas patterned after Jane Austen's classic novels and set in the historic capital city of Austin, Texas? The result is as delightful as the premise." ~ Mocha with Linda

"Austen in Austin is one of the most well executed novellas I’ve read...All of the novellas are interrelated, so where one author leaves off another picks up months or years later, with a new lead character and a familiar cast. I enjoyed the continuity as well as the familiarity which this team of authors developed. If I Loved You Less probably held the closest to Austen’s works. In contrast, Alarmingly Charming struck me as an improvement on the original (because truthfully, I did not enjoy reading Northanger Abbey). All in all, these stories are irresistibly sweet romances with subtle elements of faith." ~ Shelf-Esteem

And in case you're wondering, yes, you can purchase the novellas individually in ebook format, but at $2.99 each, it's a much better deal to buy a set of four for $3.99. My contribution to the collection is called "Mansford Ranch," a play on Mansfield Park of course. It's located in Volume 2 of Austen in Austin.  

As an aspiring novelist, Franny Sue Price prides herself in being a student of human nature. When dashing Hank Crawfield returns from his studies back East, he sets his Stetson on wooing her. Although he melts her with his charm and sophistication, Franny fears something is amiss. She and her longtime friend, cowboy Eddie Mansford, devise a series of challenges to test Hank’s true character. As Hank’s crooked nature comes to light, Franny realizes that the hero she’s looking for may have been under her upturned nose all along.


Be sure to check out these fun novellas and share them with your friends!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Thoughts on Winning the Carol Award for YA Fiction

This was a pretty exciting week for me. On Saturday night I learned that I won the prestigious American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award in the Young Adult fiction category for Dauntless! For anyone who doesn't know what that is, it's not quite the Oscars of the Christian fiction world (that would be the Christy), but it's definitely up there. Maybe the Golden Globes.

Those sorts of moments are always a bit overwhelming. Emotions run high, and it takes a while to sort everything out. But now that things have settled, I want to share how I'm feeling about it. 

1) My writing journey has been pretty bumpy lately. Sales haven't been what I hoped for and some of the reviews have been downright harsh. I love writing, but I was feeling like it wasn't loving me back very much. So this award means a lot. It means that my industry and the ACFW organization that mentored me said, "Job well done." That did my bruised writer's heart a world of good, and I'm incredibly grateful. 

2) I'm a little disappointed that I wasn't there for the presentation, but it just wouldn't have been financially or logistically wise for me to have traveled to Nashville this weekend. However, I feel like God orchestrated things so that I was with many of my closest friends here in Virginia (at an unrelated party) when I watched the live feed and learned I won. They whooped and hollered so loud that strangers down the street joined in just for fun :) That was awesome and made the evening very special even though I wasn't at the live event! I'm also blessed that I had a friend there to receive the award for me, and another who is delivering it home to me.

3) There's also a bittersweet side to this. I started two new jobs within the last year, which was very necessary for our family finances with two kids in college, and I haven't had the mental energy to create entire worlds in my head anymore (a.k.a. write novels). This award is very encouraging, but right now I don't really know what my writing future holds. I realize some women work and raise a family and still find the time and energy to write, but evidently I'm not those women. I would appreciate prayers for guidance for my writing future. I hope to get back to it if and when God moves on my heart with a new story idea and opens the opportunity for me to work on it.

The good news is that I still have a novella coming out next month as a part of the Austen in Austin collection. I also have a nearly finished book 2 for my Deep Within series that I can potentially dust off and finally get out into the world. And I have an idea for a nonfiction book, which might prove a little less grueling to write than a novel. 

As I mentioned in my acceptance speech, God has been my writing partner in this journey, and I couldn't have done it without Him. I'll just have to continue to trust in Him as I move forward from here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Valiant Heroines: Simone Biles

All female Olympians certainly deserve the title of valiant heroines: young women who have faced and overcome nearly impossible odds. This year there are many who deserve great honor, including Simone Manuel, who was the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming, which is quite a testament after the sad history of African-Americans and public swimming pools. And of course the entire U.S. female gymnastics team has been amazing this year.

But I especially enjoyed the story of the amazing Simone Biles. This three time world champion and now 2016 Rio Olympics all-around gold medalist started life in a difficult place. I love her spirit and her courage, and as you might have guessed from my book Dauntless, I love gymnastics too. Enjoy watching Simone's story.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Book Signing Fun!

Fun news for those in Hampton Roads and the surrounding areas! I'll be signing books at the Hampton Barnes and Noble on Friday, September 12, from 5-8. Hope to see you there. Plan to hang out for a while and chat. Click here for map.

I'll look something like this.