Monday, December 11, 2017

Blessed Instead of Stressed

For too long, I allowed the pressures of a busy schedule to steal the joy of Christmas. It seemed like the celebration stretched my to-do list to the breaking point.

This year, I decided to focus on the meaningful items rather than trying to cram every activity available into a few short weeks:

1.  The birth of Jesus.
2.  Making the day special for the people I love.
3.  Thinking of those less fortunate through Operation Christmas Child and our church's annual toy/clothing giveaway.
4.  Shopping with an eye not only for bargains, but also for gifts people would truly appreciate.
5.  Baking cookies.

Instead of having to get it done, I get to do things that matter - giving with all my heart.


Writers and Readers: How do you keep Christmas blessed instead of stressed?

Photo Credit:  Jenny Erickson

Friday, December 8, 2017

Scene Launch/Story Details/Cancer Therapy/Dream/Why Christmas?



1.  Jordan Rosenfeld guest posts on Jane Friedman's blog. She gives us 4 Ways to Launch a Scene. Take a look at these great tips for writers in all genres.

2.  It's easy to get bogged down with story details. Zoe M. McCarthy gives some concise ways to get the message across.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on the FDA's approval of a new gene therapy that may treat deadly and formerly untreatable forms of cancer. For all of us who have been touched by this scourge either personally or a loved one, this is good news.

4.  Emme Gannon writes an encouraging posts to writers, but it can apply to anyone. Don't let anyone crush your dreams.

5.  I found a website called, "whychristmas." It talks about how various traditions began and how to create some new traditions for your family. I've included the page on the Christmas Story here for your enjoyment.

Writers:  Which writing tip was your favorite? Please share.

Readers:  Do you have any family Christmas traditions? Favorite foods/ornaments/events?

Photo Credit:  Dimitris Petridis

Monday, December 4, 2017

On My Kindle - Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson


When the magazine she's freelancing with goes bust, Camden Bristow is left without and income and few resources. She heads to the only place where she's ever felt at home - her grandmother's house.

Alex Yates still blames himself for his sister and young nephew's deaths. He abandons his up-and-coming career and takes a job in a small town. All of his efforts to bring companies and jobs into the area are hindered.

Sparks fly when they find themselves on opposites sides of the fence concerning the decrepit mansion. When an old mystery surfaces, they have no choice but to join forces.

Melanie Dobson is a new-to-me author, and I'll be looking up her other books. I'm a huge fan of Romantic Suspense whether historical or contemporary. This had all the elements I enjoy. Loved it - 5 Stars!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid for a favorable review. All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Bestseller Potential/Vintage Photos/Nativity/Devo/Colonial Christmas

1.  Chad Allen talks about developing a book concept with bestseller potential. The key is finding out the needs of readers and meeting them.

2.   I'm always looking for inspiration for my blog posts. How about you? Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, shares some photo resources.

3.   WND reports that anonymous donors are behind a campaign to install nativity scenes nationwide. This story warmed my heart. It's about time we pushed back the darkness.

4.  Bonnie Leon's blog post struck a chord in my heart. Sometimes we're so focused on the weeds that we miss the good things happening in our lives. Don't miss this thoughtful devotional.

5.  Rather than the usual Christmas recipes, I thought you might be interested in what type of foods were served in Colonial and Early American times. This is an interesting article for young people doing school papers. Check it out at http://www.foodtimeline.org/christmasmenu.html#coloniachristmas

Writers:  Do photographs jumpstart your creative process for either blogging or writing? Please share.

Readers:  What types of food do you serve for Christmas? Have you ever tried something from another time period? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Antony Ruggiero

Monday, November 27, 2017

On My Kindle - To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander


Times are hard in the South after the Civil War. Alexandra Jamison's parents want her future secured through an arranged marriage. She chooses to follow her heart and become a teacher at Fisk University, the first Freedman's School in the United States. Her decision comes at great personal cost when her father disowns her.

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Railroad Line, is in town for a business deal. He comes from Colorado and isn't accustomed to the genteel ways of Southerners. He enlists Alexandra's help in learning how to conduct himself in Nashville business circles.

Can a romance between a man from the Wild West and a Southern Belle survive the strains of the post-Civil War South?

Tamera Alexander is one of my favorite, go-to authors. Her Belle Meade series is not only beautifully written but painstakingly researched. I spent many pleasurable hours reading this book. If you're a fan of Historical Christian Romance, I think you'll enjoy this story of finding love after unbearable tragedy.

5 Stars!


Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions are solely based on my reading of this book.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Anecdotes/Hiring Editor?/Founding Fathers/Devo/Christmas Decor



1.  Jerry Jenkins offers stellar advice on how to write an anecdote. Now that may not seem interesting, but non-fiction comes alive as we use stories to illustrate our points. Don't miss this great article.

2.  Jane Friedman talks about when you shouldn't hire an editor. With so many people asking questions about when it's appropriate/not appropriate, I thought it would be a useful link.

3.  Now, some people want to trash monuments of our Founding Fathers even though they died long before the South seceded from the Union.

4.  Kristen Hogrefe shares a wonderful devotional on the Hills and Valleys of the Writing Life. It could just as easily apply to any other endeavor.

5.  Even though Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas Season, we've been seeing decorations in the stores since September. I found a great site with DIY ideas for Christmas decor. It covers both indoor and outdoor, games for kids, and lighting.

Writers:  Do you use anecdotes in your non-fiction writing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you add to your Christmas decorations each year or do you use family favorites? Please share some pictures if you can. :)

Photo Credit:  Andrew Beierle

Monday, November 20, 2017

Some Thanksgiving Facts


The first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans lasted for three days. Gratitude to God for their survival through a brutal winter and a great harvest made it a particularly joyful time. (See https://www.reference.com/holidays-celebrations/did-thankstiving-start-325864902047eae)

Thanksgiving did not become an annual event until President Lincoln made it official. Like so many of our holidays, the meaning has degenerated to food, football, parades, and long weekends. Let's not forget the freedom and abundance we enjoy come from honoring God in our daily lives.

This Thanksgiving, let's remember to thank God for His many blessings.

Writers:  Do you incorporate holidays into your writing? Please share.

Readers:  How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? 



Friday, November 17, 2017

Pressures/Writing Boo-Boos/Airline Security/Inspiration/Apple Recipe


1.  Zoe M. McCarthy is a fellow Hartline author. In this post she talks about the pressures of deadlines, platform, and life commitments. She also shares her method for staying on top of things.

2.  Lori Hatcher posts at The Write Conversation and reveals 4 Writing Boo-Boos You Don't Want to Make. The whole "pique/peek" thing is a pet peeve for me.

3.  An author friend recently posted about an experience going through security at an airport. I'm giving you a link here, so you know your rights when traveling via airline.

4.  Positive Writer shares 7 Inspirational Quotes That Could Change Your Life.

5. Recipe time! Here are apple pie baked apples. Yes, you can actually bake a pie within an apple instead of a crust. Check out Delish's recipe.

Writers:  Which writing boo-boo have you either struggled with in the past or still makes you confused?

Readers:  Airline security affects so many people. Have you run into any issues when flying? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Gurkan Kurt

Monday, November 13, 2017

On My Kindle - Protected by Vannetta Chapman


Erin Jacobs' work as an animal rescuer takes her into some strange situations. When she approaches a porch and looks inside a basket, she's stunned to see an infant. Her world is about to be turned upside down.

Travis Williams, a caseworker, has his doubts that Erin can handle this new responsibility. The one thing he didn't think would happen took him by surprise. It's not every day you fall in love with a gorgeous, but fiercely independent, woman.

This is the second book in The Jacobs Series. The author is known for her Amish novels, but I'm glad to see she's branched out to another genre. This heartwarming tale left me wanting more.

I'm giving this book 5 Stars. I'll be on the lookout for her future books.

Writers:  Have you thought about switching genres? Why or why not?

Readers:  When a favorite author moves in a different direction, do you still read their books? Please share.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Write Faster/Create Conflict/Occult/Devo/Recipe


1.  Do you want to write faster? Here are some tips from Grammarly.

2.  Janice Hardy posts at Writers in The Storm on 6 Ways Your Setting Creates Conflict. Setting challenges me, so this article gave me some ideas.

3.  When a nation turns away from God, they inevitably fill that vacuum with evil. We see this in the Old Testament accounts of Israel going into idolatry. The old Soviet Union promoted atheism, and its people turned to occult practices. WND reports on the growth of witchcraft in America. We don't like to think about such things, but we'd better re-affirm our own faith, live it, and pray for this nation.

4.  Dena Netherton, at My Father's World, My Father's Words, talks about, "Tiny, but Powerful."

5.  Many of us think about baking as the weather gets colder. I discovered a Banana Bread recipe at Mz. Witherspoon's Cottage. The steps are illustrated with pictures. Enjoy!

Writers:  How do you increase your productivity?

Readers:  What are some of the projects you save for colder weather?

Photo Credit:  Roger Kirby


Monday, November 6, 2017

Writer Starvation


When a person does not get nourishment, either through a lack of food or deliberate fasting, they eventually reach a point where they no longer feel hungry. The body turns on itself, devouring fat storage and anything else that can support the major systems. If food becomes available or is re-introduced, it must be done gradually with the help of medical personnel until a normal diet can be resumed.

Hunger for relationship with God is much the same. If we deny ourselves regular meals of His Word and fellowship with other believers, our desire will wane, and we become weak and feed on whatever strength we've developed. What once gave us great joy and peace will no longer hold appeal.

As writers, we can starve our creativity by not using the gift within us. For believers, losing our spiritual hunger will severely impact our ability to produce life-giving words. How do we avoid such dire circumstances? Here are some things to help us:

1.  We need daily meals to stay healthy physically. It's no different spiritually. The purpose of regularly gathering as the church is to both give and receive the particular ministry gifts of each person. The Word says, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow thereby."

2.  Staying connected to the Vine (Jesus - see John 15) enhances and brings about greater understanding of the Word and the situations around us. Many of the scenes in my books have come through inspiration after prayer and Bible study. At times, I've gone to bed praying about a writing problem. Often I've dreamed the answer or had all the pieces fall into place upon waking.

3.  There are times in the writers life when it seems the creativity disappeared. Write anyway. Pray anyway. Read/study the Word anyway. Put something on paper. Prime that pump.

Like one physically deprived of food, the comeback is often gradual. Momentum takes time to build. The cobwebs in our hearts and brain tangle our words into incoherent sentences. Little by little, clarity will return.

I'm taking my own advice. Soaking in the atmosphere of praise and worship, taking in the Word of God both in my private times with the Lord and with the Church are all restoring what became dormant.

Writers:  Do you go through times where you have no desire to write? How do you stir up the gift within you?

Readers:  Do you ever  experience "reader fatigue?" What triggers it, and how do you recover?

Photo Credit:  Robson Oliveira



Friday, November 3, 2017

Writing Prompt/Memoirs/Ancient Worshop/Devo/Fall Decor



1.  Lynn Simpson is taking part in 5-Minute Friday. This particular segment used the word, "place," as the writing prompt. See what she does with it. Maybe you'll want to try it as well.

2.  We've heard it over and over again: "Memoirs don't sell." Marcia Moston gives some helpful hints on how to get your story out there. I enjoyed this article and discovered I'm already doing this on a small scale through blogging and guest spots.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on the discovery of an ancient stone workshop near Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine.

4.  Jeanne Takenaka is also participating in 5-Minute Friday. Check out her post to see what she does with the word, "place."

5.  Whether your decorating style is sleek and modern or strictly country, HGTV has 66 ideas for fall decorating.

Writers:  Do you use writing prompts? Please share.

Readers:  Do you decorate for the various holidays? Do you change your items or keep the same ones year after year? Please share.

Photo Credit:  B S K

Monday, October 30, 2017

On My Kindle - Hidden by Vannetta Chapman



Dana Jacobs buries herself in her work with Homeland Security. She's learned the hard way not to get close to the people around her. When Ben Marshall joins the team, her carefully constructed defenses begin to crumble.

Ben Marshall knows how to survive thanks to battlefield experience. All his skills are put to good use as a killer stalks the person he's grown to love.

I've seen Vannetta Chapman around the web, but had never read any of her books. Oh.my.goodness. I can't believe what I missed. Her characters, her settings, her storylines are amazing. They kept me hungering for more, plus I had to remind myself the characters would be victorious. The author got them into some serious jams.

Five stars - I already grabbed the second book in this series.

Writers: Do you ever get your characters into so much trouble that you wonder how you'll rescue them? Please share.

Readers: Do you like nail-biters or do you prefer more sedate stories? Why?




Friday, October 27, 2017

Reading/Writing Tip/Charlie Gard Foundation/Devo/Autumn Scents


1. As writers, we're told to read a wide variety of books. I've wondered on occasion how reading as a writer is different from reading as a reader. Julianna Baggot, at Writer Unboxed, shares some techniques she uses. What do you think of these methods?

2.  Henry McLaughlin, at The Write Conversation, asks, "What Is Your Hero Pursuing?" Sometimes a simple question can clear the cobwebs. This nugget is worth the read.

3. Breaking Christian News reported that Charlie Gard's parents set up a foundation to help other children and parents in the situation they endured. They raised $1.5 million toward taking him to the U.S. for treatment. Unfortunately, a British court ruled the hospital could block their efforts. The constant delays made the chance of recovery fade, and the baby died.

4.  Beth K. Vogt posts at The Write Conversation about, "Stepping Out of the Shadow of Worry."

5. I found Homedit.com that talks about 11 different ways to bring the scents of autumn into your home.

Writers:  Do you consciously try to learn writing techniques by reading books? Please share.

Readers:  What's your favorite scent of fall and why? Is it linked to some childhood memory?

Photo Credit:  Griszka Niewisdomski

Monday, October 23, 2017

Spotlight - Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy - GIVEAWAY!


Product Details
Today, Cecelia Lester is visiting with us and spotlighting her new book, Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy.  Check out the PRINT book  giveaway at the end!

1.      How did you start on this writing journey?

As a young adult, I wrote notices for the newspaper about our church missionary society meetings. I found myself writing devotions when it was my turn to give devotions.

Early 1980’s, I went through a very deep depression. I took a 30 day leave of absence from my job. I resigned my job and started putting my thoughts on paper. I even saw a counselor trying to get through some of the issues we had faced as a family. Later, I got discouraged about writing. I was doing poetry at that time.

Later, at another church, I wrote devotions for the women’s group. This was a part of the office I held.  I submitted something to the denominational magazine, but it they rejected it. I again faced discouragement about writing. I did manage to submit some writing samples to another publication there and they picked up one of those samples to use in an adult take-home Sundayschool paper.

In the waning years of the 20th Century, I discovered a hobby that I liked but I didn’t feel satisfied. I asked a Christian friend at church to pray for me about how God wanted me to spend my life, either doing the other pastime or return to writing. God directed me to writing.


2.      What is your favorite part of writing? Least favorite?

My favorite part of writing is the actual writing. I find it frees me from my worries and the issues I face. I love the thoughts and comments I receive from those who read my blog entries.

I find the marketing phase of writing to be difficult. I don’t want people I know and see every week thinking “There she is. All she wants is to peddle her books to me.” I guess, I am not a ‘hard sell’ type of person.


3.      What is something readers might be surprised to find out about you?

As I go through life, I find I am more of an introvert than I used to be. Who knows? Maybe I always have been and I tried to overcome it in my youth.

4.      Please tell us a little bit about your self-publishing experience. Was it as hard/easy as you expected?

I chose to hire a professional editor. She saved me some future grief about the usage of the translation I had initially used. I had to change translations.

I chose a lady to design my book cover and to format my interior. She explained things she did as she went along.

Overall, my print on demand company has gone out of their way to work with me when I had an issue.

5.      What advice would you give other writers who want to go the Indie route?

My advice to other writers is taken from a blog post I did in August:

We need to learn to be:

*VIGILANT. Learn the importance of reviewing your work with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. If I had been more vigilant along the editing and format processes, my book would have been published a month earlier.

*PATIENT. Patient with yourself as well as those who read and edit your work, friends-local and online as well as professional people. We all had full lives and a lot of activities going on in our lives. Remember the King James Version of the Fruit of the Spirit was long-suffering.

*APPRECIATIVE. I have had lots of encouragement from online friends as well as from local ones. I have appreciated all of them.

*PERSISTENT. We have to learn the meaning of this word and apply it to our writing. For me, writing a blog three times a week and an online column once a week takes dedication. It takes a lot of that same dedication staying with writing a book. Some days nothing not go as we think it should. However, we have to stay with it until the end of the long process.


Book Blurb: Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy


            Have you even wondered if you fully understood what God tells you? Have you wanted assurance that God listens to your prayers? Did you ever feel you repeatedly failed God? Have you ever thought something was holding you back from serving Him? If you are like most Christians, you answered yes to at least one of these questions if not all of them. In this book, the reader explores six areas of the Christian walk that sometimes plague believers.

GIVEAWAY:  Cecelia has generously agreed to provide one print copy of her book to a single person who comments on this post. Deadline:  Friday, October 27, 2017. Please include your email address in the comments.


Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Times-Trouble-Bring-Rays-Joy/dp/154827304X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506457004&sr=1-1&keywords=Cecelia+Lester



Facebook (Book page)
https://www.facebook.com/Times-of-Trouble-Bring-Rays-of-Joy-492882131051408/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/quietspirit4

Peace and Blessings to you and yours.