When a Review Makes You Cry, by Deborah Raney

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One of the most difficult things a published writer must learn is to toughen up where reviews are concerned. I hate negative reviews, whether from professional critics or ordinary readers. I especially hate them when they aren’t as much about the book, as they are about demeaning an author’s beliefs, faith, or personality. But bad reviews are a fact of the writing life, and there aren’t many multi-published authors who haven’t had at least one or two.

Ironically, my first scathing reader review was for one of my most award-winning, bestselling novels, Beneath a Southern Sky. (That vicious review is still up on
amazon.com, along with several others, if you care to weep along with me!) That review nearly paralyzed me for a few days. It didn’t hurt so much that someone didn’t like my book (okay, HATED my book). I’m well aware that the type of book I write isn’t for everyone, and there are many different tastes in genre and style. What hurt was that it sounded like the reviewer didn’t much like ME!

When I go back and read that review now, I can be much more objective. I realize now that the reviewer probably had never met me. I don’t think he/she meant the words as a personal affront. But I can also still, after more than a dozen years, remember the deep pain I experienced when I first discovered that review. I actually broke out in a sweat and started shaking—and I’m not one who usually gets my feelings hurt easily. But this was so public. So very personal. I shed some tears over that person’s words, and I have a feeling he/she would be surprised to know that.

But I did something else after receiving that review. I removed an
amazon.com review that I had written months earlier for a book that made me angry. No, it wasn’t wrong of me to post a review respectfully outlining why I disliked this book. But I had made the same mistake I think my negative reviewer made—I made my review personal, commenting on the author’s personality and motives, not just his writing. I didn’t even know the man, but like my reviewer, I failed to acknowledge that this author was human and had feelings.

My terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad review (and there have been plenty of others since) gave me two important things: a thicker skin for the inevitable bad reviews to come in my future; and a softer heart for other writers, who are real, imperfect people. Just like me.


Deborah Raney accomplished something very few authors are able to do with their first book. Her debut novel, A Vow to Cherish (originally published in 1996), inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Since then, her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists.

Raney’s newest novel, Home to Chicory Lane, releases in August as the first book in the Chicory Inn Novels series for Abingdon Press Fiction. 

For more information about Raney and her books, visit her online home at
deborahraney.com, become a fan on Facebook (deborah.raney) or follow her on Twitter (@authordebraney). 

And don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a copy of Deborah's newest release, Home to Chicory Lane!

How I Stay Inspired and Motivated by Author Deborah Raney

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Everybody seems to have a Top 5, Top 10, or Top 20 list these days, so I came up with a few lists of things this writer loves.  

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to spark creativity, break writer’s block, and most importantly, avoid carpal tunnel, back issues, and other writer’s woes, is to not confine myself to my desk. In fact, I rarely sit at my desk to write. Instead, these are some of my favorite writing spots:

1. The table on my back deck under an umbrella
2. Mead’s Corner, a favorite coffee shop
3. My cozy office chair beside my Keurig
4. The living room sofa in front of the fire
5. In the passenger seat on a road trip to visit grandkids

Music is another great way to tap into new levels of creativity, and to capture the mood of the scene I’m working on. Movie soundtracks provide the perfect music to write by because they’ve been designed to set a mood, yet they are mostly nonintrusive. Some of my favorites are:


1. Band of Brothers  
2. Braveheart
3. Charlotte Gray
4. Finding Neverland
5. The Tourist 

One of a writer’s biggest downfalls is the fact that it’s a very sedentary lifestyle. And the temptation to eat while we ponder the next scene is great. I try to use my writing snacks as a reward for reaching certain goals. For instance, for every 500 words I write, I might allow myself 5 M&Ms. Oh, the games we play to keep our seats in the seat till the book is complete. Here are my favorite snacks to write with:


1. Gobstoppers (mini jawbreakers)
2. Coffee Nips
3. Peanut M&Ms
4. Pistachios 
5. Potato Chips (I didn’t say the 5 healthiest!)

How about you (as a reader or writer)? What are some of your favorites to read and write by?

Deborah Raney accomplished something very few authors are able to do with their first book. Her debut novel, A Vow to Cherish (originally published in 1996), inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Since then, her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. 

Raney’s newest novel, Home to Chicory Lane, releases in August as the first book in the Chicory Inn Novels series for Abingdon Press Fiction.  

For more information about Raney and her books, visit her online home at deborahraney.com, become a fan on Facebook (deborah.raney) or follow her on Twitter (@authordebraney).  


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Good morning, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming!

This week's winner is: 
Kathryn Voss (kathrynlvoss@gmail.com ) - In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin.
Congratulations, Kathryn! Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 63: Better Than Life

Some days, this world feels a lot like a wilderness. Dry, desolate, uninhabited. To complicate things, you might be as David was, on the run, far from family and friends and all that was familiar.

Psalm 63 (NKJV) ... A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

What should we do when we feel parched and needy? Press into God. Seek Him all the more fervently. Sometimes we don’t even know how dry we are.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Do we believe that—His lovingkindness, His mercy, is better than life? Do we believe it enough to make the effort to focus on Him only when all around us is dry as dust, when our own soul is famished, when all hope seems to have died? Because while we have life and breath, He is still merciful. He is still God—our God, and just the act of raising our hands to Him and praising His name can be enough to sustain us when nothing else can.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

What beautiful imagery, the thought of God overshadowing us with wings. Anyone who has worked with big birds will tell you, wings might look delicate, but they’re strong, powerful. He has the strength and power to protect us, to uphold us.

But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.

11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

It’s vital to remember, while we’re stuck in this wilderness where everything we encounter seems designed to destroy us, that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. We may be given, as scripture also says, as sheep to the slaughter, but nothing separates us from the love of Christ. Not death, or life, or famine, or peril, or sword. Ultimately, we are held safe in His hands, and we will arrive in His presence at the appointed time.

God sees those who afflict His people, and the innocent. He hears and takes note of the lies. And their time will come to an abrupt end.

In the meantime, His lovingkindness is better than life.

Weekly Drawing ~ Sarah Sundin

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book! This week's prize is available to residents inside the continental US only.

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Sarah Sundin and her newest release, In Perfect Time.

Click to Mix and Solve

An Interview with Author Sarah Sundin

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author? For instance, has someone ever overheard you discussing the merits of one murder weapon over another or caught you shooting at a can of gasoline to see if you could make it explode?

Once while driving my daughter and her best friend to the high school, her friend was moaning about how her father embarrassed her so much by talking to their pet bunny. (Please read this with 15-year-old teen girl angst). My daughter said, “You think that’s bad? My mom talks to the people on her computer screen! And they aren’t even real!” Best friend said, “All right. You win.”

What do you love about being a writer, and what do you like the least?

I love almost all of it—the research, the planning, the rough draft, and even the editing. I’ve come to enjoy a lot of the publicity parts of it—especially speaking events and social media. I’m not so fond of writing nonfiction articles for publicity, but what job doesn’t have parts to it that you don’t like?

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?

Serious plotter. Verging on obsessive-compulsive. I fill out character charts, plot charts, and scene outlines. Without that road map I won’t start the journey. However, my characters have been known to lead me off my carefully laid trail, and I let them. They know best.

Do you write full time, or do you work it in alongside a full-time job?

I do write full time, but I also work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist—which pays way better than writing! And we have college-age kids.

What do your kids think about your being a writer?

Our daughter (18) thinks it’s kind of weird. She won’t read my books because it’s icky to think of your mom writing kissing scenes. I do understand. I would have thought the same thing when I was her age. However, our sons (16 and 21) think it’s cool and love reading my books. Our youngest son served as my assistant last month when I was researching my next series in Boston. My husband couldn’t take much time off work, but he sweetly offered to let me stay several extra days to research—and Matthew volunteered to stay with me and help. During the trip the truth came out. Matthew said, “I was afraid you’d get caught up in your research and get lost.” So he stayed to protect me! Isn’t that sweet?

What do you do to get past writer’s block?

I usually get a running start. First I review my outline for the chapter. Then I read the chapter or two beforehand to get in the right frame of mind. And then I write. I give myself complete permission to write nonsense, knowing I can always delete or edit it later. When I find myself truly procrastinating, it often stems from a niggling sense that something is wrong with the story. Then I take some time (I’m not writing anyway) to evaluate that section of the novel. Why is it not working? Too much chit-chat and not enough action? Too much research and not enough emotion? Is my heroine acting out of character, and I need to back off from my outline and let her take over? Usually something pops up, I rework my outline, and back to work I go.

Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?
We have a sweet but skittish cat named Janie, and a yellow lab named Daisy. Daisy is six years old but still acts like a puppy, and she still does not understand why on earth I want to type on that box thingie all day when I could be playing with her! So she eats random household objects and steals my slippers. She owns us.


Sarah Sundin is the author of six historical novels, including In Perfect Time (Revell, August 2014). Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

Social media links

Make sure to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of In Perfect Time!

Did You Know? ~ Whooping Cough Treatment from 1935

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

As far as I know, this is from a vintage poster
 and in the public realm.
Before the advent of vaccinations, whopping cough was a common occurance. For historical writers, and those who are interested in the history of medicine, I thought I'd post an excerpt from an article about how to treat the disease from an April 1935 issue of The Farmer's Wife. 


Whooping cough, like measles, is one of the most dangerous affections of infant and children. Its seriousness is underrated by most parents.

Like measles, whooping cough is most contagious during the early stages, often before the condition is recognized. Whooping cough is due to a germ and the infection is spread in the spray which comes from the throat during a fit of coughing.

During the first, or catarrhal stage, which lasts a week or more, the attacks of coughing sound somewhat like an ordinary laryngitis. There is usually the difference, however, that the attacks in whooping cough come with intervals between. The attacks increase in severity, and the thing which makes the diagnosis practically certain is the characteristic "whoop" which comes when the child inhales after a numer of coughs. The whoop is caused by the narrowing of the opening of the windpipe due to a spasm of the muscles.

In severe cases the face becomes very red and eyes look as if they might pop from their sockets. In some of these cases there are hemorrhages around the eyes and small hemorrhages or congestion in the brain, causing dizziness and a staggering gait.

Vomiting of food is a common and stressing symptom accompanying the cough. This is often so persistent that the nutrition suffers. For this condition it is well to give concentrated liquid food in the form of milk, soups, gruels, eggnogs--a cup or a glass every three hours, allowing longer intervals at night. Avoid large meals of solid food.

Severed bronchitis and pneumonia are rather common and dangerous complications of whooping cough. So are heart troubles, caused by the extreme strain of the coughing. The most dangerous complication of all, however, and the one responsible for many deaths in infants under two years, is convulsions.

. . .Because of serious complications in young children, try to keep your children from catching whooping cough until they are five years old, at least. The contagious period usually lasts about three weeks, but to avoid all risk it is well to protect infants for a much longer time.