04Feb

What’s on your writing desk, Cynthia T. Toney?

Posted by in Author Interviews, Authors, Cynthia T. Toney, Cynthia T. Toney, Karla Akins, Uncategorized, Writing Spaces | 2 comments

Today’s writing space is brought to us by former advertising designer, marketing director and interior decorator, Cynthia T. Toney. She has a BA in art education with a minor in history. She knew she was a writer when she got in trouble for rewriting ad copy without permission at a large daily newspaper she worked for. (I love it!) When she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian  food (yum!), Cynthia writes historical and contemporary teen fiction containing elements of mystery and romance. The first edition of her debut novel, Bird Face, won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Bronze, in the Pre-teen Mature Issues category! With a new publisher for an entire Bird Face series, the original story is now Book One and titled 8 Notes to a Nobody. Book Two is 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. Look for more books in the series in the near future from Write Integrity Press. Let’s find out where Cynthia creates these award-winning books! Karla: Cynthia, I’m so excited to have you on my blog today. Tell us all about your writing nest. Cynthia: My current workspace was meant to be temporary when my husband and I moved 500 miles from Mississippi to Texas in April, but I’ve become quite comfortable in what will soon become the guest room. So one photo shows a space in use, while the other shows a space I’m designing in the designated office/study of the house. It looks so fresh and clean, I hate to move the computer and other stuff in there.   Karla: Oooo, I love that curved desk. The carpet is lovely, too. I’m a snacker when I write (unfortunately). Do you have anything nearby when you’re creating? Cynthia: I like to keep the following close at hand on or near my desk: A colorful napkin for use when snacking. I’ll eat almost anything at my desk, but today I tried to be good and ate baby carrots. Brain supplements. A bottle of DMAE sits there now. Handwritten notes to myself. Tissues. Not just for crying. A cushion for the tushie. A novel by an author I admire. My paper files, although poorly arranged. I would’ve made a terrible secretary. A dog or two or three, although they made themselves scarce when I started taking photographs. Karla: Oh, I can totally relate to baby carrots, DMAE (I take other brain supplements but they are near me at all times!) and furry editors. Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers? Cynthia: I love rescued animal-shelter dogs and the friendly South from Georgia to Texas, I love  connecting with readers online and hope to hear from them. Karla: I knew we were kindred spirits! I have furry rescue babies at my house, too! They’re the best kind. Tweet this: Check out @CynthiaTToney ‘s writing lair!   Karla: Dear Readers, please connect with Cynthia in the following ways. She’ll be thrilled: Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7872181.Cynthia_T_Toney LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=79780768&trk=spm_pic Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney Would you like to share your writing space with my readers? If so, you can find out how here: What’s on your writing...

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02Feb

January’s Brilliant Blog Winners!

Posted by in Blog Awards, Blogging, Blogs, Brilliant Blog Award, Uncategorized | 6 comments

As you may know if you read any of my posts last week, I’ve launched a new contest this year. I’m recognizing outstanding blogs. Blogs that catch my eye. Blogs that I love. In choosing blogs for this award, I follow the rubric below. Now, keep in mind, anytime there’s a contest that pits one thing against the other, a judge’s opinion is extremely subjective. Also, as this is my first time doing this type of thing, this rubric is subject to change. As I learn more about what works and what doesn’t in creating a great blog, and as I scrutinize blogs more carefully this year, I’m certain to figure out other important or not-so-important elements. But I also go with a gut reaction when I’m at the blog site. If there’s a quick intake of air, if I feel that my time has been well-spent, if I feel butterflies — chances are it’s a blog that even lines up with the rubric I’ve created. By the way, I’m not comparing blogs with over 1000 subscribers to blogs under 1000 subscribers. All blogs are considered in this contest as separate entities apart from their popularity. I don’t choose a blog simply because it’s more popular. There are a lot of popular blogs I don’t read or don’t like. I choose them for how they appeal to me or meet my needs as a Christian writer. Now. On to the awards! Drum roll please! My first pick is in the Secular Travel Blog category. I’ve chosen Camels and Chocolate by Kristen Luna. I’ve followed Kristen for quite a few years now. But when she gave her blog and website a makeover, I was mesmerized. There’s really nothing I don’t like about this blog. Copious pictures. An engaging writing style. Useful information. Not to mention the aesthetics of this blog are second to none. Congratulations, Kristen! Giving you this award is a no-brainer. Readers, if you want to know how to do a blog in an engaging way, study this one! Food category — The Miss Nini Blog.  Full disclosure: “Miss Nini” is a friend of mine from way back when I lived in Iowa. But we haven’t seen one another in person for more than 20 years! And we just recently (about a year ago) got back in touch via Facebook. She and her husband, a very successful sheep farmer, attended our little storefront church in Anita, Iowa years ago. And now she’s a famous baker! She’s won tons of awards at the Iowa State Fair, been a contestant on Shark Tank, and got her picture in the New York Times. But that’s not why I love her blog. First, who doesn’t love baked goods, right? But I also love Miss Nini’s writing style. You have no idea how thrilled I was to learn she is writing a book now.  Her turns of phrase are as delicious as your kitchen concoctions, I assure you. My next two picks are in the Christian writing category. These go to: Zoe M. McCarthy and Karen Wingate’s, Grace on Parade Blog I have fallen in love with Zoe M. McCarthy’s writing advice. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it’s worthy of my time and the posts are usually moderate in length....

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29Jan

Book Review: Empire Beneath the Ice by Stephen Quayle

Posted by in Authors, book reviews, books, Stephen Quayle, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have a wee confession to make. It may surprise my readers a little. Maybe not. I’m not exactly your typical granny. I’m addicted to Stephen Quayle’s books. For the past six months or so I’ve been devouring them. And this is the latest of a bunch I’ll be reviewing for you. It’s his most recent and I read all 520 pages in two sittings. Long sittings, but two sittings. Empire Beneath the Ice: How the Nazis Won World War II was that riveting. Stephen Quayle writes Christian nonfiction books about the supernatural realm. His books on giants and fallen angels are a much-needed answer to the world’s Ancient Alien theorists. Besides perusing his books for research for my own books, I believe books such as his provide a much needed commentary for Christians living in an X-Files culture. (Which is another reason for the project I’m researching.) As I’ve written before, there are far too many paranormal books on the market for kids, teens and adults today, and not enough Christian ones to explain the dangers of dabbling in the supernatural.  If you’re already familiar with Nazi lore, I don’t know how enthralling this book would be. But for me, a beginner, I learned quite a bit. I had no idea there were so many conspiracies surrounding the Nazis and Hitler. I didn’t even know there was a conspiracy regarding their survival and continued influence on world politics today. Reading this book, many things began to make more sense. Roswell. UFO sightings. The crazy policies made by politicians. Even the reasons behind Kennedy’s assassination became clearer. I’m so happy to have stumbled upon Stephen Quayle’s work while doing my own research for a story I’m working on. It’s taken me down a whole new path of discovery. And you know me. As a treasure hunter (virtual and 3-D), I couldn’t be more pleased. Here is a description from Quayle’s website. In Empire Beneath the Ice you’ll learn: Why the suppressed evidence proves Adolf Hitler didn’t die before Germany surrendered during WWII, and how he eluded capture. How Nazi SS members, scientists, and soldiers escaped with Hitler to create colonies in other parts of the world to continue their monstrous research. Why in 1947 Admiral Richard E. Byrd warned that the US should adopt measures to protect against an invasion by hi-tech aircraft coming from the polar regions, adding, “The time has ended when we were able to take refuge in our isolation and rely on the certainty that the distances, the oceans, and the poles were a guarantee of safety.” How, using advanced technology, Nazi saucers defeated the US military — long after WWII was supposedly over. Why the US space program was mostly a sham, and why the “UFOs” that started appearing around the world in the late 1940s were (and still are) most likely flown by Nazi pilots. How key government, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, financial leaders, and institutions helped Hitler come into power, and facilitated the preservation of Nazi wealth and power after WWII. Why today’s world is secretly controlled by a malevolent shadow government and entire populations are being surreptitiously brainwashed. How ancient stargates have been duplicated to open portals into spiritual and demonic universes. Why those controlling our planet have laid the groundwork for a...

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28Jan

What’s on your writing desk, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer?

Posted by in Uncategorized, writing, Writing Spaces | 9 comments

  Today we get to peek into the writing lair of Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, author of We’re not Blended We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide (I love that title!) and several inspirational romances. Diana writes  “fiction about women choosing to challenge their fears even though they want to run from them. By the end of their journey they have become the strong women God intends.” Powerful stuff! She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. I asked Diana to share her writing space with us, and she has generously obliged! Karla: Tell me a little bit about your writing space, Diana. Diana: When I knew I would be a real writer it was obvious to me I’d need my own space. Sharing a room and computer with 3 teenage boys and a husband was too distractive. Karla: Boy can I relate to that! I have three adult sons living with me right now. Distraction is an understatement I’d say. Diana: Yes! So my first real office was born. Not having yet made much money from writing I made do with what I had.   Karla: Cabinets! I need cabinets! I love cabinets in an office. Diana: Later, I sold a book and the first thing I did was –write it of course! Then redid my office. I do share the space with my husband but he’s on the other side and is on his computer at night. Karla: I love everything about this — the colors, the cozy space you share with your husband. You guys are very tidy. I’m afraid my husband and I would — well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty like this. When do you write? Diana: I write during the day. I’m fortunate to be able to do that. We are empty nesters—who came up with that term? We aren’t birds! Anyway once a week I get to have my grandson and so the house isn’t completely empty and I love that! Karla: Awww, what a cutie! As I type this my granddaughters are here with me. I know what you mean about never having a truly empty house. Love hearing their little voices! Diana: This is what the office looked like after we did it. No more carpet, the chairs will roll across the wood floor so nice! Karla: Love it! Where’d you get the furniture? Diana: The desktops and drawer units are from IKEA. When we were doing the office we forgot 1 piece and had to drive back to Chicago and get it. That’s an 8 hour road trip! Karla: Yikes! Diana: I love that the printer separates my workspace from my husbands as we both like to spread out. Having the cabinet rollout from under the printer is awesome because it gives me extra flat space to spread research books. Karla: I love that! I will not covet, I will not covet, I will not covet, I will not covet… Diana: My desk gets cleaned off between books. Karla: We’re supposed to clean off our desk between books? Who knew? Diana: My husband built this amazing file box that works as a window seat: Karla: That is soooo cool! I love window seats. I had an old craftsman house when we lived in Iowa and I miss my window...

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26Jan

Brilliant Blog Award Button Reveal!

Posted by in Blog Awards, Blogging, Blogs, Contest, Karla Akins, Uncategorized | 0 comments

As I mentioned last week, this year I’m giving away Brilliant Blog Awards! Behold the coveted button: Who knew running such a contest would mean so much graphic design and html? Whew. But I think I have the kinks out. Here’s how it works. (Refer to last week’s post for categories, etc.) I will choose one or more blogs per month to bestow the coveted Brilliant Blog Award button to. The button is then embedded into the blogger’s website. When readers click on the button, they are taken to a survey page where they can nominate the blog for Blog of the Year. Cool, eh? Blog of the Year nominees will be announced Mid-December. Winners will be announced either at the end of the December or the beginning of January. If you’d like to nominate a blog, you may do so here. Who will you nominate this year? Tweet: Nominate a blog for the Brilliant Blog...

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25Jan

Breaking News: Karla speaking at Iowa Homeschool Conference

Posted by in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’m writing to confirm that I will indeed be speaking at the Iowa Homeschool Conference, June 9-11. You can find more info here. I’d love to meet my Iowa readers! I’ll have a booth and will be signing books and giving away goodies. Hope to see you there! Love,...

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23Jan

ACFW-Indiana Features Bob Hostetler at March Luncheon

Posted by in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This post is to inform those members of ACFW of an upcoming event for ACFW-Indiana. I am so excited about this I’ve invited my husband to come along! Bob Hostetler  is a dynamic speaker you won’t want to miss. Right click the image below to save to your computer and print. Or download the .pdf here:  ACFWIndianaChapterFlyerMarch2016 Don’t forget to RSVP ASAP!  ...

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21Jan

Do you have an award-worthy blog?

Posted by in Blog Awards, Blogging, Blogs, Uncategorized | 15 comments

I love blogs. I read a lot of them, but there are only a few I dare spend precious time on. I’m rather picky. If I read your blog regularly, rest assured it’s a good one. A really good one. This year, I’m going to share my favorites with my readers. Each month I will choose one blog in a different category. For instance, I may choose one blog in the writing category and another blog in a homeschool category. I will not choose one in every category. I don’t have enough time! I created different categories in order for there to be more chances for people to win the big yearly award in December. Here are the categories I have so far. If you think of any, please leave them in the comments: Writing/Publishing Book Review Fashion Food Personal Travel Spiritual/Inspiration/Bible Study (Christian) Education Homeschooling History Science Caregiving Diet/Health Homemaking Autism Special Needs Children Of course, as I discover blogs, they very well could open up a new category. Since it’s my contest, I can do that. Winners will be given the code to place a button in their side bar. I haven’t settled yet on the design. Do you like the one above or this one? Let me know that, too! (I actually have another one in mind but it wasn’t ready to post yet.) If you have a blog that you believe is award-worthy, feel free to send it my way! Even if it’s not your blog, send me your recommendations. I have several winning blogs in mind already for January. Who knows? Yours just might usurp this month’s winner! Tweet this: Is your blog award-worthy? Brilliant Blog Awards 2016!  ...

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19Jan

Time management: a new way of doing things around here

Posted by in Karla Akins, Time Management, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Let’s see, it’s already January 19 and I’m just now getting around to mapping out my year. But in my defense, it’s only because I had to finish up a three-credit-hour course in Science methods which I did in two weeks. Talk about noodle brain! But I did it, and now I can move on to other things! Yay! (God is so good to help me! The glory goes to Him!) Anyway, I thought I’d share a bit about what I’m doing in terms of compartmentalizing my life. From what I read, I work more like a guy than a gal. I’m very compartmentalized. Guys can do that better than gals. Gals tend to keep a lot of their mental compartments open all at the same time. I think that’s because they have to when rearing children. They have to be able to nurse the baby, make supper, fish the toddler out of the toilet, call the plumber and switch the laundry all at once. If they compartmentalized everything, something would go wrong. Supper would get burnt while switching laundry and the baby would end up in the toilet and the toddler in the oven or some such thing. Now, I’ll admit, I had to do a lot of the many-things-at-once sort of thing when my kids were small, but I was never very good at it. A lot of suppers got burnt. I’ve always been someone who likes needs to focus on one thing at a time. And I think that’s why I get so much done. It doesn’t seem like one would, but it works for me. Always has. This is how compartmentalizing works.   Picture your brain with a lot of drawers. You only open one drawer at a time. For example, when I’m working on my novel, I only open the novel drawer. I do not allow myself to open any other drawers because to do so means my focus is split. I don’t crack open those drawers even a little bitty bit. This is easier for me than it is for a lot of my female friends. But it works for me. (I also shop like a guy. Grab it. Bag it. Boom. I’m out of there. My husband, on the other hand? Total opposite!)   (Naturally, I’m speaking in general terms, here. I do not mean to imply that all guys and all gals shop or focus the same all the time. Well, actually, I am, but thought I’d put that disclaimer out there to keep the trolls off my back. Seriously, though, Mr. Himself and I are clearly examples that generalizations don’t always apply.) Here’s one way I’m trying to compartmentalize this month. If it works, I’m going to do it all year. Sundays/Mondays: Read an entire book cover to cover. I start it on Sunday afternoon (or Saturday evening if I can) and finish it on Monday. It’s a priority. I have a mile-long stack of books I haven’t read that I’m dying to read. Not to mention the hundreds on my Kindle. Some are for research. Others are fiction authors I want to study. Yes, thankfully, I’m usually a fast reader (depending on interruptions). Tuesdays: Update the blog for the week (I’m glad I can pre-schedule my blog posts), create info-graphics...

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04Jan

Time to write!

Posted by in ACFW, ACFW-Indiana, Holidays, Homeschooling, Karla Akins, New Year, Uncategorized, writing | 0 comments

I’m blogging over at Hoosier Ink today! Please check out my words of encouragement there!  Stay tuned for an announcement this week. If you’re a blogger, you’ll definitely want to check back! Happy New Year, friends!...

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