Friday, December 19, 2014

Internet Travels - Promo Materials, Inspiration, Cookies!

1.  Zoe McCarthy gives tips on how to purchase promotional materials for your book release.

2.  Jeanette Levellie, at On Wings of Mirth and Worth, shares some inspirational quotes.

3.  The Christmas baking extravaganza has started in many homes. Here's a recipe for sugar cookies compliments of

Writers:  What types of promotional materials do you purchase? Please share any tips.

Readers:  Do you go on a baking marathon during the holidays? What kinds of cookies to you make?

Photo Credit:  q83

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On My Nightstand - Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

Living on Michilimackinaw Island (say that 3 times fast) in 1814 during the British occupation means severe hunger. Angelique MacKenzie takes the early morning hours to fish and bring a meager ration to her blind friend, Miriam. She longs for the day when the war will be over, and she can get away from her merciless stepfather.

When her long-absent friend, Pierre, returns to the island, she's thrilled but wary. Fur trading and the wilderness are in his blood. Island life will never satisfy him. All she wants is a quiet life and a family.

Pierre is captivated by the little girl who has now grown into a beautiful woman. What they each want is so different. How could there possibly be a future for them, especially when his brother can give her the kind of life he cannot.

The number of twists and turns in this book makes The Twist king, Chubby Checker, look like he's standing still. Every time I thought, "Ah, now all will be well," Jody threw another problem their way.

Rich historical and setting detail, complex characters, and a heart-throbbing romance make a dynamite combination. This is a great gift idea for your favorite reader of historical romances. Five stars for this excellent, well-written story!

Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from a friend. Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review. All opinions shared are mine alone. I did not receive any payment for this review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

3 Tips to Purging Your Email and Your Mind

If you're anything like me, you're probably subscribed to a gazillion blogs and accumulate lots of articles. Now is a great time to clear out the old and make way for the new. My email needs serious editing, but how do I decide what to keep and what to delete forever? Here are some tips:

1.  Have I learned the lesson? Keeping 27 blog posts on social media might be overkill. If you've mastered Facebook, know how to navigate Goodreads, and tweet with the best of them, you can safely hit the delete key. Besides, all you need to do is plug the subject into a search engine to bring them back to life.

2.  Does this email require a response? If so, get it out of the way, so you can remove it from your to-do list.

3.  Is this information I'll need down the road? I do a number of guest posts and interviews throughout the year. They're scheduled way in advance, so I need to hang onto the emails with interview questions, guidelines, and contact names/addresses. These are keepers!

Another kind of computer needs some purging - our minds. A challenging year required changes in the way I do things and how I move forward. Funny, when I got those two words as my focus for the year, it never occurred to me they were preparation for a tough time. Some of the issues moved through like a brief rainstorm, while others lingered for months.

1.  Snowstorms and car issues. Record snowfall in 2014 meant parking difficulties, getting stuck, and greater wear and tear on my 14-year-old vehicle. With the 2015 winter season already making promises for a wild ride, I've made some decisions.

The car died, so when considering replacement I purchased an all-wheel drive model with an excellent reputation for reliability. It's also smaller, which might help with the parking situation. I can't stop the snow from falling, but I'm better prepared for it.

2.  Life messing up my plans. Sweetie Mom's broken hip threw my schedule out the window for a good four months. At times like this, I go into crisis mode and deal with each thing as it comes along. Our families take priority over our neat plans. By God's grace, we get through these times.

3.  Regrets. Did I handle everything right this year? No. I made my share of mistakes, but the Word tells us to repent from - not regret them. Regret wastes time and energy, while repentance wipes the slate clean.

Writers:  Do you have any writing issues that nag at you? What are you doing to resolve them?

Readers: Do you deal with computer clutter? How do you decide what to toss and what to keep?

Photo Credit:  sraburton

Friday, December 12, 2014

Weekend Potpourri - Marketing, Writing, and A Recipe!

2.  The Procrastiwriter suggests unique ways to help you develop more realistic settings. Using proper architectural and design terms can sharpen your reader's vision whether or not you're writing a book.

3.  If you're considering making your own cranberry sauce this Christmas, you might like to try this recipe.

Writers and Readers:  What are some of the traditional dishes you make for Christmas dinner?

Photo Credit:  ngosset

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In The Spotlight - Christmas Grace by Rose Allen McCauley

Today, I'm welcoming Rose Allen McCauley to Christian Writer/Reader Connection. Her book, Christmas Grace, recently launched. It's the third book in the Smoky Mountain Christmas Collection. Below is a short blurb:

Grace Buchanan and Chris Fisher were best friends for sixteen years...until he fell in love with her other best friend, Terrie. Chris and Terrie married after high school, then she died three years ago.

A renewed friendship soon awakens stronger feelings in Grace and Chris. Can they both let go of the past long enough to claim the future God has for them?

Books are available online at in kindle now and soon in paperback.

Bio for Rose Allen McCauley:

Rose has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. This is her second Christmas novella. Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to five lovely, lively kids! You can reach her through her website and blog at or on twitter @RoseAMcCauley and FB at

Congratulations, Rose!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas

Once upon a time, my Christmas gift-giving list covered more than a page. As my husband, grandparents, Dad, and some friends have departed for heaven, it has shrunk like a sweater placed in a hot dryer. Prices and less physical energy have also had a dampening effect on buying presents.

I've been thinking about creative ways to celebrate and bring joy into the lives of others.

1.  Since I'm an author, a Christmas letter tucked into a card helps me share events from the year nearing its end. I know it isn't original, but I still enjoy sending and receiving them.

2.  Silly, little gifts often show more thought than big, expensive ones. If a friend loves a certain type of chocolate or comments they love fuzzy socks, a package with a sweet note will bring a smile to their faces.

3.  A lot of older folks in nursing homes have lost loved ones. It's a stretch to think of something useful or enjoyable. If they like to write letters or send cards, a package of blank note cards and/or birthday cards along with a book of stamps might give them hours of pleasure. Crossword or word search puzzle books, lap robes, or a package of treats (taking into account dietary restrictions) are also good choices.

The gift of time is also appreciated by the elderly. A breakfast at an inexpensive restaurant, helping them with grocery/Christmas shopping, or inviting them over for a meal can be a welcome break from their routine.

4.  Books. Now you know I couldn't put a list together without including books! So many people have Kindles/Nooks and other e-readers these days, and you can get many Christmas novellas for $1.99 or less. If your friends or relatives prefer print books, many go on sale or can be found in the Bargain section.

5.  Gift Cards. Does your friend shop 'til she drops on Amazon? The perfect gift is at your fingertips. Find out what store they love - department stores, bookstores, small specialty places, health food establishments, movie theaters, and hair/nail salons. Almost everyone offers gift cards.

6.  Food gifts - cookies, small bread loaves, specialty spices all make delightful gifts.

7.  Collect items throughout the year for a basket gift. It doesn't have to be huge or even a basket. Mugs, mason jars, and pretty boxes can work just as well. If you need ideas, check out Pinterest.

Writers and Readers:  What creative ideas do you have for gifts that don't break the bank?

Photo Credit:  Muresan113

Friday, December 5, 2014

Weekend Potpourri - Libraries, Birthdays, Tips, Current Events, and COOKIES!

1.  Jennifer Slattery posts at Seekerville on how to get your books into libraries and bookstores. She gives some excellent suggestions.

2.  Since we're close to the date we celebrate Messiah's birth, this article by Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger, caught my eye. He investigates the actual date of birth, and it's NOT December 25th. This is not to say we can't or shouldn't celebrate on December 25th. In my estimation, we celebrate His advent every day because of the impact it's had on our lives.

3.  Brian Hutchinson, at Positive Writer, gives 36 writing tips. He makes an interesting point that all the excuses we make for not writing are the result of doubt.

4.  I came across this article on World Net Daily about the one-child policy in China. One of the points made is how this contributes to human trafficking and sexual slavery. The situation in China is one of the things that prompted me to use this issue in The Moses Conspiracy.

5.  Do you need some Christmas Cookie Recipes? Check out this site.

Writers:  Do you have a tip for overcoming writer's doubt?

Readers:  What's your favorite Christmas Cookie recipe? Mine is a chocolate/almond cookie cut into various shapes.

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  mzillekens

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Spotlight on The Heart of Humor by Jeanette Levellie

Welcome to a vacation from stress, worry, and global whining. Learn the secrets of how laughter can help you:

- Live healthier and longer
- deepen your relationships
- trust a God with a sense of humor that gives a 90-year-old lady a baby.

In her sassy, mocha-out-the-nose style, Jeanette Levellie takes readers on an entertaining journey of 45 short stories with titles like Quit Pinching my Fruit, Confessions of a Jailbird, and Swimsuit Shopping Stress.

Nestled among the stories are comical drawings by a professional animator, articles, and lists revealing the superpowers of humor such as Got Pain? Laugh it Away, Everybody Loves Dummies, and Ten Ways to Help Yourself Laugh.

"Jeanette Levellie has the spiritual gift of encouragement. She shares it in her conversations, her ministry outreach, and now in this entertaining and enlightening book The Heart of Humor. As you read, you'll smile and chuckle, but at the same time you'll gain insights on life, love, and relationships." - Dr. Dennis Hensley, author, The Power of Positive Productivity

"Whether she's writing about her "Maggie Moments," planting onions on top of onions, or her favorite sport--dining out--Jeanette Levellie's The Heart of Humor delights and inspires. Do yourself a favor and read it." - Bob Hostettler, author of Red Letter Life.

"You'll laugh. You'll learn. You'll be entertained. And, you'll be encouraged!" - James Watkins, author, speaker, threat to society

You can connect with Jeanette at or find her playing on Facebook or Pinterest. She loves hearing from readers.

Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Changes I'm Making in the New Year

Christmas preparations are in full swing. This year, I got a late start due to some major life events - Mom needing extra care, purchasing a car, a family wedding, and plumbing woes for starters. Some of the lessons I learned this year include:

1.  Get.It.Done.Now.  While I'm not usually a major procrastinator, this year I wasn't as disciplined and paid for it. Now, I'm playing catch up.

2.  I learned I need some space to refresh and re-group. I said "no" to several projects, and it paid off big time when life hit.

3.  Making random notes of interesting facts, comments, ideas, and news bits gave me material for blog posts and scenes in my latest book.

4.  Buy Christmas/holiday gifts throughout the year. I wish I'd done more of this. I wouldn't be fighting the crowds and traffic now.

5.  I could have carved out more writing time if I'd developed a better schedule. Social Media will be restricted to specific time periods. I love Facebook, but it nearly ate me alive this year.

Writers and Readers:  What changes are you making to your schedule in the New Year?

Photo Credit:  parylo00

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh, To Dream!

I remember when I had time to putter around with crafts, crocheting, and spend afternoons reading.  Fast forward to life with a full-time job, caregiving, and a book contract.

One of the things I do to keep from being an "all work, no play gal," is visit fun Internet sites. I'm interested in many subjects, so feeding that part of my brain helps keep me sane. Here are a few places I visited recently:

1.  My blogging friend, Dotti Adamek, has done a fun series on author dates this year. See what happened when she gate crashed a writer's conference.

2.  Jean Fischer, from Something to Write Home About, did a delightful post on writer gifts. See if there are some you'd put on your Wish List.

3.  I try to be organized - really. Since it doesn't come naturally, I enjoy visiting bloggers who have a knack for it. I recently discovered "Goodbye House! Hello, Home." Enjoy!

Writers:   Which writer's gift is your favorite? I liked the earrings. :)

Readers:  What sites do you visit when you want to chill out?

Photo Credit:  Nazreth

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks

In 1620, the Pilgrims landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. They'd left behind religious persecution for a wild, untamed land. With the help of local Indians, they planted crops and gathered a bountiful harvest. A three-day feast was held in 1621 to thank God for His provision.

Today, Americans gather for a traditional meal with family and friends. Yet the focus has been turned around. How many times do we hear, "Happy Turkey Day?" Instead of thanking the One who provided the blessings we enjoy, the attention centers on the food and fellowship.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let's remember to thank the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Writers and Readers:  What are you thankful for today? I'll go first. I'm grateful I was born in a country where I can worship God freely.

Photo Credit:  abcdz2000

Monday, November 24, 2014

3 Ways to Connect

As winter approaches, it's a good time to hunker down and get some writing done. Whether you're pre-published, published, or a blogger, you might want to think of doing some guest posts or scheduling blog posts for the busy holiday season.

Here are some tips:

1.  If you belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, I urge you to join their email loop. Bloggers will often post opportunities for guest spots, especially at this time of the year. Many popular blogs fill their calendars a six months to a year in advance.

2.  Do you have a book coming out soon? You can let folks know your desire for influencers, guest posts, or advanced readers. Besides the ACFW loop, Facebook groups, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are a good way to connect with others who might be interested in featuring your book.

3.  Scheduling posts for your blog makes a lot of sense throughout the year, but during holidays it's even more important. When you've got food to prepare, a home to decorate, gifts to buy, preparations for guests in addition to normal activities, you can breathe easier knowing you've got 5-10 posts scheduled. It's a great stress buster.

Bonus idea:  Look for recipes, crafts, or decorating ideas to include with your holiday-themed posts. A link within a post can add value to your blog.

Writers and Readers:  How do you keep up with blogging/writing/life during this season? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Photo Credit:  jayofbox

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Do I...?

If you're like me, you turn to the Internet for advice on everything from writing to taking care of houseplants. There's an abundance of material available. Here are a few stops on my Internet journey:

1.  Lori Hatcher, at The Write Conversation, gives a no-nonsense approach to writing non-fiction. Don't miss these excellent tips.

2.  Vonda Skelton guest posts at The Write Conversation and tackles the whole issue of networking. Is advertising your work compatible with the teachings of Jesus?

3.  With Christmas approaching, I was thinking about my favorite plants associated with the season. It can be tricky getting a Christmas Cactus to bloom. Here are some tips from wikiHow.

Writers and Readers:  Do you search the Internet for tips on how to do things like take care of plants? What are some of your favorite sites?

Have a blessed week!

Photo Credit:  Dcrump

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Ways to Find Your Audience

Whether you're writing non-fiction or fiction, blogging, or selling cars, you need to find people who are interested in your specialty. I've come up with five tips to help you connect with your audience:

1.  Hang out where they congregate. Social media is a great place, but it's also a HUGE place. Facebook and Goodreads have interest-specific groups that can connect you with your peeps.

My cousin crafts handmade glass beads. She posts on groups that cater to this audience. I don't join those because readers want to find books and interact with their favorite authors. So, I belong to Christian Authors and Christian Authors and Writers (and many others).

2.  Identify your niche and seek connection with those who have similar interests. This may seem like a rehash of #1, but narrows it down even more. Does this mean you can't be friends with writers from a different genre? Of course not, but you'll find more support and practical guidelines within your own group.

3.  Book Clubs. My local library has various groups that meet to discuss all sorts of topics from gardening to Shakespeare. They also have a writers group and occasionally host a local authors night. Check out what your public library offers in the way of activities. You could find your audience in your own backyard.

4.  Book Signings. I recently had a table at a local event. The readers I met asked wonderful questions like, "what inspired you to write this book?" Be prepared to engage those who approach you in conversation. Another person shared her enthusiasm for a particular book. I was able to suggest another title she might enjoy. She was so excited that she purchased one of my books and said she'd pick up the others online.

5.  Speaking Engagements. This one is still on my to-do list. It can also take the form of teaching a class at Adult Education, a Senior Citizen group, or online. One of my friends (Hi, Karen!) teaches online classes for teens. Another friend (Hi, Jen!) has a singing/speaking ministry.

If people perceive you're an expert on a subject or they like your presentation, they'll often ask about your website or the books you've written.

Writers and Readers:  How do you connect with like-minded people? Please share.

Photo Credit: AYLA87

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Agent, The Author, and The Social Media Expert

1.  Literary Agent, David Van Diest, guest posts at The Write Conversation. He addresses 5 misperceptions about writing a book proposal.

If you're anything like me, this task ranks right up there with the synopsis. I'd rather write an entire book than either of these, "please publish my book," pieces. This post might give you a bit of relief.

2.  Multi-published, award-winning author, Cathy Gohlke, talks about Planning for Courage in her latest blog post.

3.  If you're reading this, you're on Social Media. Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, talks about Eight Social Media Posts You Should NEVER Share.

Writers:  What is the one task you dread on the publishing journey and why?

Readers:  What type of information do you avoid sharing on the Internet?

Photo Credit:  ljleavell