Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Master's Calling by Amber Schamel

The Master's Calling, Volume 3 of The Days of Messiah, released! Here's the blurb:

After generations of waiting, the Messiah has come at last. And not a day too soon. All his life, Malon Ben-Tyrus has been stifled beneath Roman laws and religious traditions, and he longs to be free. The oppression of the Romans worsens every day, and the religious system led by the Scribes and Pharisees has grown corrupt. 

Malon believes his life calling is to become a disciple of the Messiah and help free Israel from bondage.  When Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, Malon knows this will be a historic event. Jesus will enter the city as the Son of David and take His place as the Messiah of Israel. He longs to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, but his family won't allow him to go.

When at last his family consents, Malon arrives in Jerusalem only to discover that he is too late. The man he thought to be the Messiah has been crucified, and Barabbas—his greatest enemy—has been set free.
Appalled by the cowardice of Jesus' disciples, Malon returns home seething with frustration and despair. Everything he believed he was destined to become died with Jesus. Was he wrong about his destiny?

And here's the buy link.

If you enjoy Biblical fiction, Amber's books are sure to please. Congratulations!

Writers:  Have you considered writing Biblical Fiction? If so, please share.

Readers: Do you read Biblical Fiction? What do you like about it?


Friday, November 27, 2015

Strategy/Social Media/Illegals/Devo/Description

1.  Zoe M. McCarthy examines the subject of, "A Smart Strategy: Let Readers Write Portions of Our Stories." Think about all the obvious details we know about a hospital room and then avoid describing them in your story. She goes on to say that "...too much description kills a readers engagement." Fascinating stuff.

2.  Do you know your Social Media I.Q.? Jennifer Brown Banks summarizes the advantages/drawbacks of several social media platforms.

3.  Rick Marschall, of blog, writes we'll soon be the Illegals.

4.  Susan Panzica, at Eternity Cafe, shares her reflections on Homeward Bound.

5.  Jerry Jenkins talks about why readers skip over crucial parts of our stories.

Writers:  How do you increase readers' interest in your story?

Readers:  Are there parts of a story that you skim over? What are they?

Photo Credit:  xx lawrence

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sticker Shock

Between migraines and the need for a magnifying glass, I decided it was time to get my eyes checked. Reading hasn't happened without my specs for quite awhile, but this was ridiculous. Armed with vision insurance, I made an appointment with a new provider.

After the exam, an assistant ushered me into a room with the familiar wall of frames. Once we narrowed down the choices to a particular single-vision lens, she helped me select a snazzy number (purple - be still my heart). The price made me gulp. "I'm not paying that much for frames." She did some calculations and whittled it down to a manageable level. My urge to run subsided, but I should have left.

As an author, I could use some professional editing. One editor charges five cents per word. On the surface that doesn't sound like much, but when you have a 93,000+ word manuscript, it's eyes-glazed-over-shock. I'm still trying to regain my equilibrium.

I reminded myself that prices have gone up, whipped out the plastic, and paid for my eyeglasses. The salesperson pointed out that if I didn't have insurance, the price would have been triple my cost. Since I needed another pair and my insurance wouldn't cover them, the math almost made me faint. I took my prescription and went elsewhere.

The editing? I'm still shopping around, but books on self-editing and my critique partners are gaining more appreciation by the minute. Maybe I can find someone who will work on a couple of chapters and give me some pointers regarding pacing, characterization, and all that good stuff.

I think I'll go have some chocolate.

Writers:  Have you used the services of a professional editor? Please share your experience.

Readers:  When was the last time you had "sticker shock?" Please share.

Photo Credit:  Thiago Felipe Festa

Friday, November 20, 2015

Windows 10/Non-Fiction/Love/Turkey/Alphabet

1.  All those with Windows 7 and 8 have been prompted to install Windows 10 for free. Hmm, Microsoft giving away an operating system for free? Here's an article about the move toward having MS peering over your shoulder every time you're on the Internet.

2.  I realize that not all writers are into fiction. The Write Conversation had a post on picking the right story. Items covered:  Does the story I'm using to illustrate a point relate well with my topic? Does the story have the same mood as the rest of my writing? Is the story believable?

3.  Let's face it, in the publishing business marketing is a fact of life. How do we get past our discomfort with it and learn to embrace the process? Kathryn Craft, at Writers in The Storm, talks about how love sells books. Yes, love!

4.  Turkey is the star of Thanksgiving Dinner. Check out their recipes for some mouth-watering ideas.

5.  Marja Meijers, at Fresh Insights On Ancient Truths, is going through a Bible Alphabet. She's up to the letter, "G." 

Non-Fiction Writers: How do pick your topics?

Readers:  Have you downloaded Windows 10? Please share your experience with the browser.

Photo Credit:  Maria Rodrigues

Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Mary Had a Little Lamb by Susan Panzica

There are many Christmas books available for readers, but this one is so special. Susan Panzica has written a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Christmas story for children. She also includes some facts at the end that will appeal to adult readers.

If you're looking for a book to read your kids during the Christmas season, grab this one. Susan's daughter and son enjoyed her poem as children. Now, your little ones can as well.

Here's the blurb:

"Destined to be a new Christmas classic, MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB tells more than the familiar Christmas story. With beautiful illustrations, contagious rhyme, and a powerful surprise ending, it tells us all what Christmas is really about, imparting essential life lessons, most importantly, that God is real and speaks to us today. A parent guide provides myth-busters and key talking points to bring truth and deeper meaning to the well-known story."

Susan will give away one print copy of her book to a commenter via a drawing. To be eligible you must be a resident of the U.S. This giveaway is void where prohibited.

Disclaimer: The blogger has not received any payment for this book spotlight and giveaway. My short review at the top is my honest opinion. 

Congratulations, Susan, on your book!

Friday, November 13, 2015


1.  Jean Fischer blogs about Motivation Hacks for Writers. I need to get back to work. My "vacation" has stretched into several months.

2.  Self-publishing Review gives us the skinny on Amazon's review policy. While there are some big no-no's, there are plenty of ways to get honest reviews. One major point - a review without a verified purchase will raise a red flag.

3.  Laura Drake, at Writers in the Storm Blog, gives us a lesson on The Most Important Edit That No One  Talks About. She's right. I can count on one hand the number of blog posts I've seen on this subject.

4.  Someone once said that the premise of The Moses Conspiracy could never happen here in America. I beg to differ. Check out this article where a pastor warns Christians to prepare for persecution.

5.  I love crockpot cooking! A friend posted this website on Facebook, and I thought you might be interested in 100 Days of Meal Plans Whole Foods Style.\

Writers:  We're all familiar with line edits where we correct grammar, spelling, typos, etc. Have you ever done a substantive edit? If so, please share your experience.

Readers: Are you a fan of crockpot cooking? What kind of things do you make in your crockpot?

Photo Credit:  Svilen Milev

Monday, November 9, 2015

Preparing for a Radio Interview

On Saturday, October 24, 2015, Travis Owen Bryan had me on his LIVE Christian radio broadcast. I'd been on once before, so I knew the basic format.

When his friend, Jay Mather, connected us the first time, I didn't know what to expect other than we'd be talking about my books. What are some of the ways I could have prepared and lessened the nervousness?

1.  Pray. Well, I did that - quite a bit. I get specific, asking the Lord to give me wisdom and cause my words to glorify Him.

2.  The next time I'm invited to go on a radio show, I'll listen to a sample recording or tune in to an actual broadcast. If I'd done that, I would have known:

            A.  Travis values an author's testimony. He wants to know about our walk with the Lord and how it impacts our writing.

            B.  He asks probing questions about what it's like to be a writer, our journey to publication, and what kind of advice we'd have for aspiring authors.

            C.  I'd also know that he gives plenty of time to answer his questions.

3.  Notes - It's always good to have a page or two to jog your memory. Our minds can go blank in a fast-paced interview, so these are helpful tools to break through the brain fog. The last time I was on the show, I wrote down the following items:

            A.  A short blurb about Out of the Mist, the third book of The Moses Trilogy.

            B.  How I felt about finishing the trilogy - both relieved and bittersweet.

            C.  Where readers could find my books and connect with me.

4.  I'd think about written interviews I've done, what I like to know as a reader, and give plenty of takeaways for the listener.

5.  A glass of water and hard candy are good things to have on hand in case your throat gets dry.

With a little planning, a radio interview can be a fun and rewarding experience. The nice part: You don't have to worry about how you look. :)

My thanks to Travis Owen Bryan, of the LIVE show, in Elkton, KY, for being such a great host.

Writers:  Have you ever been on the radio? How did you prepare?
Readers:  Have you done any public speaking? How did you keep stage fright away

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sidebar/Referrals/Market Research/Devo/Recipe

1.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, discusses what belongs on the sidebar of a blog. This is Part 6. I think I need to go back and read the other 5 posts.

2.  California governor, Jerry Brown, signed a bill ordering faith-based pregnancy centers to refer women for abortions. Check out this article.

3.  Penny Sansevieri guest posts at Writers in the Storm about How to Create a Book that Sells and a Marketing Plan that works (every time).  Yeah, that title grabbed me as well. She gives some great tips on researching your market.

4.  Dena Netherton shares 3 Thoughts on "Little Zeke's Gift." This boy has a unique ministry that he faithfully exercises.

5.  I confess my idea of making cranberry sauce is to open a can and empty the contents into a pretty serving dish. For those of you who are more into homemade, you might like this recipe from

Writers:  Whether you're published or pre-published, did you research the market prior to writing your book? Please share.

Readers:  What special dishes do you make at Thanksgiving? If you'd like feel free to share a recipe in the comments.

Photo Credit:  Keira Bishop

Monday, November 2, 2015

Book Spotlight & Giveaway - Outrageously Fruitful by Maria Morgan

Maria is not only a children's book author, but also a devotional writer. Below is a blurb on her newest offering, Outrageously Fruitful.

Society's message is clear: live for yourself. God's message is revolutionary: live for Him and others. This sounds radical, right? We all want love, joy, and peace to saturate our lives. But the Holy Spirit's plan begs us to look beyond our own little world and see His bigger picture.

So how do we win the battle against selfishness? Outrageously Fruitful addresses this question and more. This 10-week study is made up of a series of brief daily lessons that encourage an honest look at current behavior and provide a biblical foundation to rekindle faith and put it into action.

Maria I. Morgan explores the characteristics the Spirit longs to cultivate within us. A fresh perspective is given of each characteristic, disarming some of today's popular misconceptions: *Love is a feeling *Circumstances determine joy *Absence of conflict is the key to peace *Why be long suffering? Take the easy way out *Meekness is the same thing as weakness *Temperance is outdated: if it feels good do it Let go and let God make your life outrageously fruitful!

Giveaway Details: Maria will be giving away one copy of "Outrageously Fruitful" (print) to one commenter. To be eligible, you must leave your email address and be a resident of the U.S. Void where prohibited. 

Disclaimer: No payment was made to this blogger for featuring the author and her book. 

Writers and Readers:  Are devotional books part of your quiet time? Please share.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Do you like FREE? The Moses Conspiracy ebook is FREE on Amazon for a limited time. Check it out.


1.  Email. Love it? Hate it? How do you keep it from eating all your time? Check out this post by Claire Diaz-Ortiz for a great strategy on handling email. One interesting point: Deal with email when your energy levels are at their lowest point.

2.  Recipe time! I discovered this Pumpkin-Raspberry Bundt cake recipe at Lisa Lickel's blog, The Barn Door. It's just in time to practice before the big Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. If you make it, let me know how it turns out. :)

3.  Chuckle for the day: Ane Mulligan shares her Melt Down at Stitches Through Time.

4.  After almost a month of Internet problems, I got back online and was promptly swamped. How do I ever catch up? I used some of that downtime to go through old papers in my office. It was still hard to chuck some of them into the trash even though I knew I'd never have time to deal with them.

Soon after, I found this article at Book Marketing Buzz Blog. Maybe it will help you as much as it helped me.

5.  At the Philly Conference, I met Allen Arnold. He taught a continuing session on The Heart of a Storyteller. Recently, I discovered this article by him at The Writer's Alley and decided to share it with you. It encouraged me. I will do what God gifted me to do.

Writers:  Do slips of paper with ideas fall from cabinets, spill over file folders, and litter your desk like confetti? How do you handle all the many projects you'll do someday? Do you re-file them or let them go at some point?

Readers: Since we're big into recipes lately, do you have a funny (even if it wasn't funny at the time) story about cooking or kitchen mishaps? Please share. (If you don't want to share here, maybe I've given you an idea for a future blog post of your own.)

Photo Credit:  Agne Kveselyte

Monday, October 26, 2015

Are You A Character Control Freak?

Why is it that when I go to bed my brain decides to pump out all kinds of ideas for writing? Is it just me or does this happen to you as well?

A few weeks ago, I'm drifting off to sleep. My mind is tossing around ideas for an upcoming Author Event at Horsham Library, in Horsham, PA. on November 12th. Out of the blue, I get this thought about being a control freak with my characters.

Sleep did not happen right away. I gave up and turned on the light, pulled out my trusty journal, and started writing. Now that I've told you how this blog post exploded onto the page, you probably want to know what on earth it means to be a control freak with your characters.

1.  Yours truly decides to write a sequel to The Moses Conspiracy. (At that point, I still didn't know it would become a trilogy.) I mull over my idea and assign the original cast starring roles.

2.  My head is aching, and I can't get it right. "Come on, you guys, do something interesting, so I can write it down."

3.  Ellie and John fold their arms and remain silent. I face them much like a gunslinger at the OK Corral. "You are the stars of this story, and I'm the Director." (God uses some strange methods to get my attention.)

4.  I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder and hear a whisper in my ear. "This is MY story." I shrug the thought away. "Be quiet. You'll have a part, but Ellie and John get top billing."

5.  Now, no one is cooperating. It's three against one. I cave in. "Okay, okay, I'll give it a try." Jim Kenneman, my shoulder tapper, grins, and soon my fingers are flying over the computer keyboard.

And that is how The Scent of Fear was born. When feisty Kendra Marshall showed up for the next book, I knew better than to argue with HER!

Writers:  Do you force your characters to fit into a story or do you allow them some measure of freedom? Please share how you keep things humming along.

Readers: Have you ever thought of writing a book? Please share. (I hope I haven't discouraged you from undertaking the project.)

Photo Credit:  David DiBiase

Saturday, October 24, 2015


I'll be on the radio at 4:00 PM Central, 5:00 PM Eastern time, TODAY! Travis Owen Bryan, from the LIVE Show, has invited me to share about my new book, Out of the Mist, and writing.

Here's the link:

I hope you'll be able to listen. :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pies/Contest/Lead Time/Recent Shootings/De-Clutter Treasures

1.  Lynn Simpson, at Connecting Stories, tells why she doesn't bake pies just 'cause.

2.  Are you an Indie author? Check out the Lyra Contest. This link will take you to the page with the rules.

3.  When should you begin promoting your book? Sharon Bially, at Writer Unboxed tells us why book public relations need lots of lead time.

4.  With all the recent shootings, I found this Family Research Council article quite eye opening.

5.  I chuckled at Susan's de-clutter experience. It sounds like something that would happen to me. Here's her post at Writing Straight From The Heart.

Writers:  Have you ever entered a writing contest? If so, please share your experience - positive or negative.

Readers: What kind of activities do you avoid "just 'cause?"

Photo Credit: Cheryl Empey

Monday, October 19, 2015

Author Buffet

There's something about a buffet that attracts me - the variety. I can sample a dish without purchasing a whole entree. Dessert? Ah yes, I no longer have to agonize between a hunk of chocolate cake and that yummy banana pudding. I can have a little of both and go back for a second serving.

I approach reading in much the same way. While I have my favorite go-to authors, the works of newbie writers and those who are new to me, but established, tempt my reader palate.

So what's an author/reader with limited time and finances to do?

1.  I belong to Swagbucks and pick up Amazon gift cards to increase my book budget. Amazon is always on my Wish List for Christmas and birthday gifts.

2.  When a favorite author releases a book, I pick it up.

3.  When it comes to the newbie and new-to-me authors that catch my eye, I sample their work via Kindle.

Usually, I'm reading a couple of books at a time - one print and one Kindle. If the book I'm sampling on Kindle doesn't appeal to me, I can move on to another without a huge financial/time investment.

What genre shall I sample today? Hmm, let's go with a Historical Romance.

Writers:  Do you stick to tried-and-true authors or do you give new authors a try? How do you balance your selections?

Readers:  Do you sample genres outside your normal preferences? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Photo Credit: Sufi Nawaz