Lilly Maytree is in Alaska today...

Lilly Maytree is in Alaska, today...looking for adventure and divine appointments. Want to follow along? Enter her ARMCHAIR TRAVELERS PORTAL


Writing is hard…

It's easy to think up plots and come up with good characters. I could do that all day long. But getting it down on paper in a way that lets a reader imagine the same thing you see in your own brain… well, that's something else, again. Because words don't always mean the same things to people.

I admit I often piggyback on things I already know people feel strongly about. It's sort of a shortcut to their feelings, and once you start using shortcuts, it's hard to go back to taking the long way round, again. Thing is, you miss a lot of refreshing scenery by skipping that. Like a new way to describe how ocean air feels against your face in a fog. Or that horrible lurch in the pit of your stomach when you realize you've said something you can never take back, again. But there can be misunderstandings when you're trying on phrases, or describing things in new ways, too.

Like the blind men describing the elephant, every one of them was convinced what an elephant was like (a tree, a wall, a rope, a snake…) it had to be true because they could feel it. They were all right and they were all wrong. And while everyone will tell you that writing is so subjective you can't expect to please everybody, it seems to me that every once in a while, a writer comes along who manages to touch some universal chord in human hearts. And suddenly you find yourself loving it, too, even though you didn't even know you were interested in that subject before. Somehow, they figured out how to transfer that perfect picture from one brain to another. 

They took the long way, and described so well what it was like over there that we felt like we had been there, too. But of course, we first had to be convinced to go along on the journey in the first place. Which takes a whole lot of persuasive skill all by itself, not to mention a good handle on which tools one might use to accomplish that. A real in-depth knowledge of the craft. 

So, a writer sits there day after day, night after night, working over and over working… all without any guarantee that so much as a monkey would even give a blip what they just poured a year of their life into. Sometimes I wonder what keeps writers writing. Especially when it's hard.

For me, it's because I love it.

Go figure.


The Courage of Linda Wood Rondeau (part two)

We're back, again, with Linda Wood Rondeau, today...

author of
(see Lilly's Book Club page for info and review)

and ready to talk about her experiences in theater, and how it has helped her writing career. Welcome back, Linda. First of all, what kind of productions have you been involved in?

I love this question since I met my husband doing a community theater production of the play Juno and the Paycock by Sean O'Casey. I have played a wide variety of roles from the elderly mystery writer/murderer in A Talent for Murder, to a madam, a transsexual, a mother, a ghost, a very evil witch, and very confused wife. A few of the plays I have done are: Steel Magnolias,  Under the Brooklyn Bridge, Night Mother, God's Favorite, Blythe Spirit, The Rutherford House, The Canterbury Ghost, and The Wizard of Oz

I have also directed plays such as Bleacher Bums, You Can't Take it With You, and Babes in Toyland  just to name a few. Over my thirty plus years in Community Theater, I have found acting to greatly enhance my ability to create believable characters. When I write, I "become" that character, much as I would if I were portraying the character on stage. 

That's amazing, and quite the literal version of "jumping into a character's skin." You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of yourself in costume, would you?

I did bring a couple along to share, because as I say over at my website, if I were not a writer, I'd be an actress. Here's one of me on stage as Sister Hubert (on the left) in Nunsense, during my solo, "The Biggest Ain't the Best." And the other  is one of me as a Temperance missionary in a Western spoof called Scorching Saddles, that I did for a dinner theater. 

I can see how much fun that would be, and it looks like a great time. However, I am very glad that you decided on being a writer! Now that THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS has been released, are you working on any new manuscripts right now?  

The Other Side of Darkness is actually novel number eight for me, and my ninth book, overall. I recently revised my first novel and that is currently being looked at, as well as my current manuscript, which is a romantic comedy. I am also working on another romantic suspense set in the Adirondack Mountains. It is not a sequel, but will have similar elements. 

All of those sound good, and I will really be looking forward to reading them. When you read for pleasure, what is your favorite type of reading material? 

I read most genres. What I look for in a book is a story that is character driven rather than plot driven. I am more interested in people rather than exotic setting or exciting plot.

Which definitely shows, considering the amount of people you are involved with in your "real" life. Not to mention the social networks. Last time I looked, you had over three thousand friends on Facebook alone. Even so, you jumped out and started a very active writer's group of your own (there's that courageous stuff working for you, again, Linda). What gave you the idea of starting Pentalk Community? 

 I have a dear friend from Malone who is not a Christian but was hungry for a writing community to help him develop his writing skills. He attended the local writers group comprised of mostly Christians. In the meantime, I noticed that most of the on-line writing communities were specialized either by belief system or genre or even sub-genre. It seemed that the Lord directed me to start a group that would encompass all belief systems and writing backgrounds as well as experiential level so that people like my Malone friend could find a safe and loving support group in which to learn their craft. 

That's a wonderful idea, and I have really enjoyed being a part of it over the last couple of months, myself, and met some very interesting people there, too. Social networking on such a large scale seems to take an amazing amount of time. How did you handle it all, especially having a job that entailed so much paperwork every day?

 I retired on the day God called me to write professionally. I started my website a few months later and a few years later I started blogging. I joined Facebook about two years ago.  It certainly has been a process and a lot of hard work. I'm the sort of person that learns as I go...sort of on-the-job training.  

Which seems to be working great for you. I have to say you have a tendency to leap into new things in ways that would scare the socks of most of the rest of that. Take your recent move to Florida, for instance. What a drastic change that had to be. How has it effected your writing life? Have you noticed a drastic culture change? What do you like best about it, now that you've been there for awhile? 

Culture shock? Big time. My former town of Malone had a population of 17,000. Jacksonville is a city of nearly one million.  But it is energizing. I don't miss the cold climate at all, however, and I find the warmer climate has energized me as well. With improved health, my writing stamina has also improved. The larger population base provides a multi-ethnic base in which to study characterization, too.  

Find out more and read the review
over on Lilly's Book Club Page.
Well, you definitely seem to have never let change scare you off from anything you truly wanted to do. I call that the spirit of adventure, myself. But whatever it's called, it takes courage to take those kinds of a "leaps of faith" in the first place. Which in turn makes you an encouraging example to others who also dream those kind of dreams. 

Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us this week, Linda. It's been a real inspiration. Here's wishing you all the best with THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS, as well as your new books we will be watching for in your future!


The Courage of Linda Wood Rondeau...

Today, I'm visiting with Linda Wood Rondeau, author of: 

(see Lilly's Book Club page for my review) 

and what a woman of adventure she is, as you will shortly find out. So glad to have you here, Linda… welcome! 

Happy to be here, Lilly.

Well, let's see. One of the first things I noticed about your writing is that it was rich. Multi-layered, well-crafted, and well thought out. How did you get to this point? Have you done a lot of writing in your life? And how long have you been writing fiction?

I have been writing my whole life in some form or another. As a hobbyist I wrote newsletters, stories, and plays for our church.  On June 21, 2000, I received an unmistakable call from God to write professionally. I composed a poem called The Song of Peace* that includes a line, "there is light on the other side of darkness."

I managed to publish in anthologies, periodicals, and church papers, as well as a regular newspaper column. I received notice of my first contract on June 21, 2011 on my manuscript with the working title, Dawn's Hope. The editor, unaware of the poem I wrote eleven years before, changed the title to THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS. 

My goodness, if that wasn't a sign from heaven, I don't know what is. What made you want to write this particular story?  

I have always been intrigued with the Southern Adirondack area for it's beauty and historical importance. I also wanted to write a story about overcoming childhood trauma. 

Why is that? Are there experiences in your own childhood that contributed to this desire, maybe had some effect on who you are today? 

Well, my mother suffered from depressive symptoms...never diagnosed and never treated until late in life. She expected things from me I could not comprehend or provide. We had a troubled relationship, and I suffered from severe poor self esteem. But as I have grown in my faith, I believe God has used those childhood experiences to make me more sensitive toward others while He has affirmed me in His grace, a child He loves. I think that is why God has called me to encourage. 

Interesting that you use the word encourage, as personally, I believe one must first have a certain amount of courage before they can pass any on to others. Which you do! And I find it so interesting that THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS deals with this very theme in so many ways. How did you come up with the character Samantha Knowles, and her own particular situation?

I imagined a citified professional who becomes stranded in a secluded town, and who must confront their childhood nightmares.  Then when a friend of mine showed me pictures of her daughter's accident involving a collision with a moose, the story took shape. I wrote an outline and first chapter for the 2008 Genesis contest. After the book was listed as a finalist, I completed the manuscript, hired a professional editor, and the rest is history.

Yes, and a great example of how you seem to take such giant, courageous steps toward whatever you decide to tackle! Wonderful the way so many doors opened up for you after that. I really enjoyed reading THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS, and can see why it was a finalist in the Genesis contest. Which makes me wonder if you've ever been to any writer's conferences along the way. 

I have a fortune invested in writer's conferences. I've attended at least fifteen over the years, such as, The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, ACFW conferences, and Montrose… just to name a few. 

Do you feel they were beneficial? 

Absolutely. With each conference I gained in the knowledge of the craft, made valuable connections, and even some life-long friendships. Yes, they are worth the investment. I have never come away wishing I'd never gone. 

Well, however it came about, you sure have developed a wonderful knack for creating vivid scenes. Is that something you work especially hard at, or is it just sort of a gift? 

Thank you for the compliment. I think I am a visual person by nature. For instance, when I produce a play, I see my characters moving from place to place. I think I bring that to my writing, as well. It is as if I see a snapshot in my mind and want to recreate that scene. 

When you produce a play… good heavens, Linda, that's something I find incredibly fascinating, and would love to talk about in depth. Especially the characterization aspect. Will you come back tomorrow, so we can really enjoy ourselves, with it?

Love to Lilly, that would be a pleasure. Maybe I'll even bring a few of my favorite props with me...


Friends for Life...

Lately, I've been traveling at night. Sometimes, even into the wee hours of the morning. This so I can visit with some of my most favorite people in all the world… my First Readers. Mostly because I am coming into the "home stretch" of my new inspirational adventure novel, THE PANDORA BOX, and their insights and opinions are invaluable to me. 

Which is why I would like to introduce them to you, and tell you a little bit of how much they have helped me. Their names are Fay and Ken, and they live on the Gold Coast in Australia. Oddly enough, I met them in Alaska, which happens to be one of their favorite places, as well as mine. You see, they happen to be adventurers, too. Another reason why I value their advice on my adventure stories.

In the coming days before I reach the finish line, I will be sharing some of the actual  things they have helped me with. Most recently, going back to hammer out and comb over those important first two pages until they shine. Which I most often do when I get close to the end, as motivations and characters are so much more clear to me by then. Night after night, I would sit down and (virtually) share coffee with these good friends as we looked through a magnifying glass to get rid of the dead parts and leave only what was alive. And PANDORA  is so much better because of it. 

So, my most heartfelt thanks to Fay and Ken, who put up with me at all hours, read everything over numerous times when they really didn't have to, and for some rollicking good laughs when we all worked too late and were still having a good time. Thank you, Fay, for your ever-constant prayers and encouragement (and for sharing bits of the manuscript with strangers and friends, just to get an outside opinion), and Ken, for that all-important perspective that only a man can give on the way men think and do things. You are the dearest and best friends a writer could have, and I will love you both forever!

Find out more about my First Readers Club by visiting my "About" page over at  Or come back tomorrow, when I will be talking about it here on the blog.