Monday, June 26, 2017

To Write or Not to Write - That's the Question


Need doesn't equal assignment.

It's something I'm learning daily as opportunities present themselves. If I'm to accomplish what God called me to do, what I take on must fit into the time available and have the green light from Him.

When people learn I'm an author, they'll sometimes ask me to write their stories or articles. Of course, they want this done free of charge. I'll either encourage them to write it themselves or steer them to people who freelance.

Writing a book requires an enormous effort:

1.  Research
2.  Meetings with the individual.
3.  Time
4.  Getting the person's voice on paper.
5.  Editing

While I may empathize with a person or situation or passionately believe in a cause, I rarely take on anything extra. Here are some considerations:

1.  I hold down a demanding, full-time position.
2.  My Mom needs more help as she gets older.
3.  I'm writing, promoting, and seeking publication of my latest book.
4.  Church involvement, including administration of their blog, takes a chunk of time.
5.  The daily chores of life must get done, i.e., laundry, shopping, cleaning. Somewhere in there, it's nice to get some sleep and leisure time.

Perhaps God wants you to take on an assignment. The peace of God will be in your heart, and you'll have the grace to see it through to completion. Otherwise, be honest and tell people you're not the right person for the job.

Writers:  How do you determine what projects to accept or reject?

Readers:  Have you given thought to the work that goes into that 350-page novel or non-fiction book? Please share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Channah

Friday, June 23, 2017

Short Story/Compelling Stories/Down Syndrome/In God's Way/Decorating Styles



1. Crafting a short story can be more challenging than writing a full-length novel. Zoe M. McCarthy gives writers tips on how to write a great one.

2. Chad Allen gives three tips for writing compelling stories. Are your stories "filmable?" This is an excellent article.

3. Breaking Christian News gives shocking statistics on babies with Down Syndrome being aborted.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, shares how she learned how saying, "Yes," can stand in the way of God.


5.  The gal at Desert Cottage loves vintage decor. Others like shabby chic, contemporary with clean lines, traditional, and too many to name. While I can appreciate many styles, I love traditional with a dash of country. What's your favorite decorating style?

Writers: Which one of Chad Allen's tips helped you the most?

Readers:  How do you decide when to say, "Yes," and when to say, "No?"

Photo Credit:  Gurkan Kurt


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On My Kindle - A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter


Lady Miranda Hawthorne chafes under society's rules for a lady but tries to follow them. She vents her frustrations by writing letters she'll never send to her brother's friend, the Duke of Marshington.

Ryland Montgomery, a spy for the British Crown, takes the position of valet for Griffith Hawthorne, the Duke of Riverton, a.k.a., Lady Miranda's brother. When he comes across one of her letters and posts it, Lady Miranda is sure her chances of making a suitable match are over.

Loved, loved, loved this book. If you're a fan of Regency Romances, pick this one up. The author has several books in this series, and I plan to get them. Her characters and writing style made me smile, laugh, and sometimes horrify me by their antics.

This book gets 5 Stars - all well deserved.

Writers:  How do you raise the stakes for your characters? Do you put them into impossible situations? Please share.

Readers:  When you read an enjoyable book, do you search to see if it's part of a series? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Striving or Contentment?


"I can't wait until I grow up and can do what I want." That line always made my parents laugh and roll their eyes. Why is it we think if we reach a certain age or achieve some goal that our lives will be perfect?

It's wise to have plans and move toward them. Yet chasing a dream won't satisfy the longings of a heart. It might provide a measure of happiness for a time, but the effects are temporary and often hollow.

As a writer, I thought if I could just get an agent and get my books published, I'd have it made. Yeah, the authors out there are having the same reaction my parents had to my declaration. With an agent and four books published, I can tell you it's a carrot on a stick that keeps moving out of reach.

I'm not downplaying the satisfaction of reaching success. However, writing doesn't define who I am. It's something I do that hopefully provides insights and touches the reader at a deep level.

It's easy to forget some basic things:

1.  God loves me whether or not my books get published.

2.  Loving and reaching out to others helps keep my perspective God-centered.

3.  Any creativity I have is a gift from Him.

As I wait on this plateau where nothing seems to be happening, I trust that He's working behind the scenes. I'm not where I want to be, but it's a good place. There's time for reflection and enjoyment of the simple blessings. And, yes, I can wait.


Writers and Readers:  How do you remain at peace while pursuing your plans?

Photo Credit:  Alex Bruda

Friday, June 16, 2017

Myths and Truths/Opening Scene/Modern-Day Joseph of Arimathea/Devo/Visual Inspiration

1.  Parul MacDonald guest posts at Writer Unboxed. While she works primarily in the general market, I think her advice is sound on what an editor at a publishing house looks for when reviewing a submission.

2.  Another general market site is Jane Friedman's informative blog. Hallie Ephron guest posts and teaches on the importance of a strong opening scene. I'm going to read this one more than once.

3.  Breaking Christian News shares the story of a woman called, "a modern-day Joseph of Arimathea." The original Joseph claimed Jesus' body after the crucifixion and buried it in his own tomb. You won't want to miss this touching story.

4.  Marja Meijers continues her devotional trip through the alphabet with the letter, "U."

5.  I popped over the Thrifty Style at 68. The pictures immediately set off a train of thought on how they inspire me. Perhaps the third snapshot of a bedroom could help furnish my heroine's boudoir. Another might trigger a blog post. Check it out.

Writers: Reading a strong opening scene, as well as pictures on sites like Pinterest, inspire me. What inspires you?


Readers:  Do you read the first page of a book before plunking down your dollars and cents? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Ramel Gamboa Sanchez

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

On My Kindle - Where There's Smoke by Susan May Warren


Blazin' Kate Burns continues the smoke-jumping, fire-fighting legacy of her father, Jock. Some view her exploits as heroic, while others think she's reckless. Will she be forced to choose between her two great loves?

Jed Ramsom, her father's protégé, takes less risks and tries to instill a more conservative approach to fighting fires. He's torn between his love for Kate and his fear she'll get killed.

This is the first book in the Montana Fire series by Susan May Warren. She delivers on every front: inspirational, romance, and suspense. Her characters stay with me long after I've finished reading her books. The research is impeccable, and highlights the dangers of this occupation.

5 Stars! Go grab a copy for yourself while the summer is young.

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

Writers:  How do you give your characters more depth so they appear real?

Readers:  Do you like stories that have an element of danger? Please share.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Don't Panic!


Our IT guys at work have a sign-off on all their emails: Stay Calm and Reboot. When my computer or Smartphone are doing wonky things, I remember this tip. Most of the time, whatever is scrambling the machine's brain is corrected.

Biting your nails, hitting random keys, and flipping out will make the situation worse. This holds true not only for computers and Smartphones, but also for writing and life. My own procedure goes something like this with occasional tweaks:

1.  Stop. Banish the what-if scenarios and deal with the reality before me. Writers have this wonderful imagination, but it can turn them into first-class worriers. Worry is just another word for fear.

2.  Pray. Ask God for wisdom and direction on how to fix whatever is going wrong. I then trust He will either give me the answer or lead me to someone who can help.

3.  Analyze. If I'm stuck writing a scene, I read the previous paragraph or more, if necessary. Where was I going with this train of thought? While I'm a pantser versus a plotter, I usually know where I want the story to end. Is this scene moving toward that goal?

4.  Research. There's so much advice on the Internet. I look for something that applies to my situation.

5.  Ask. A discussion with a writer friend/critique partner sometimes breaks through the confusion or at least sends me in the right direction.

When my efforts seem at an impasse, re-writing the section in another document can take the focus away from the existing text. When that doesn't work, I shut off the computer and give my brain a rest.

Stay calm and reboot.

Writers:  What actions do you take when you hit a snag? Please share.

Readers:  When you're facing a problem in life, how do you go about solving it?


Photo Credit:  Joonas Lampinen

Friday, June 9, 2017

Spring Social Media/Imagery/Conversions/Devo/Recipe

1.  Molly Jo Realy guest posts at The Write Conversation on how to Green Thumb Your Social Media.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy's blog is a perennial favorite. In this post, she writes about the importance of imagery and how to create strong mental pictures for your reader.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on how a NY Times reporter came across a group of Christians, who converted from Islam.

4.  MaryAnn Diorio asks, "Are you a tongue twister?"

5.  Recipe for a PURPLE cake! How could I pass that up? http://peasandpeonies.com/vanilla-purple-cake-with-lemon-buttercream/

Writers:  Do you have a social media plan? What are some of the things you do to feed your garden?


Readers:  What did you think of today's devotional by MaryAnn Diorio?

Photo Credit:  Sarah Williams

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On My Nightstand - The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann


This is the third book in this trilogy. I strongly urge you not to miss the first two books: A Rush of Wings and The Still of the Night.

Morgan Spencer's success as a corporate turnaround expert is legendary, but he once again experiences tragedy with the death of his wife, Jill. Only their infant daughter, Livie, gives him to will to live.

Quinn Reilly moves to Juniper Falls. Her business as an ebay seller connects her to Morgan's sister-in-law and brother. Soon after they meet, she gets a threatening text from Markham Wilder, a conman she testified against.

Morgan jumps into action to solve her problems, but in a most unconventional way. Can this strange beginning grow into a love match?

As usual, Kristen's characters jump off the page. Their growth, discovery, and tension kept me glued to the pages. As they face many dangers and challenges, their faith grounds them and gives them direction. My only regret is the end of the trilogy. I hope Kristen returns to Juniper Falls someday and picks up the story of this family.

Grab this series and be prepared for hours of reading satisfaction. 5 Stars.

Writers:  Have you ever written a series? Did you consider an encore performance for the characters? Please share.

Readers:  Do you prefer a trilogy or a longer series? Why?


Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Do I Need An Agent? - The Newbie Corner


According to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the word, "access," means:

1.  The ability or right to enter or use.

2.  A way or means of approach.

I'm focusing on these meanings. As an Administrative Assistant, my boss gives me access to all the things I need to perform my job. I have the authority to make certain decisions within his guidelines.

Publishers restrict access to their editors by using agents as gatekeepers. These individuals are viewed as experts and keep the companies from being inundated with substandard work. Literary agents review manuscripts and decide whether or not to represent a writer. They also provide advice, guidance, and act as a liaison between the writer and the publisher.

Some publishers will allow writers to approach their editors via meetings at writers conferences. Agents also meet potential authors at these venues. On an agents' panel, all agreed the primary way they met their clients was at a conference.

There are some small presses that accept non-agented submissions. However, it's important to check them out before jumping aboard. An agent not only finds a home for an author's book, but also knows the business side. They watch out for their clients' best interest when it comes to contract negotiations, settling disputes, etc.

If you dream of being published traditionally, an agent can provide the access needed to get your book to the right people.

Writers:  Are you seeking agent representation? Why or why not?

Readers:  How much does the publisher of a book influence your book-buying decisions? Please share your thoughts

Photo Credit:  Brian Lary

Friday, May 12, 2017

Low-Tech/Pantsers/Judge Alito/Devo/Recipe


1.  Okay, all you writer types out there. Sometimes we get too cerebral and need a dose of humor. Writer Unboxed talks about low-tech tools for writers. Knowing how techy challenged I am, you'll see why I liked this.

2.  Every writer wants to improve their craft, including us pantsers. Lisa Cron guest posts at Writers in the Storm with rare advice for those who aren't plotters.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's speech urging Christians to "evangelize" for religious freedom.

4.  Adelee Russell, at Rewritten, talks about waking up to grace. If you've ever struggled with condemnation, this is a must read.

5.  Would you like to make something special for Mom? Check out Mom's Chocolate Pudding at the Food Network. Rated: Easy

Writers:  Are you techy-challenged or techy-savvy? Please share.

Readers:  Are you making something special for Mother's Day? Please share.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On My Kindle - Wilted Dandelions by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield


Determined, often naive, Rachael Rothburn wants to go west to share the gospel with the Umatilla Indians. Alas, declared a spinster at the ripe old age of 22, the mission board won't entertain her application because they only take married couples.

Dr. Jonathan Wheaton wants to make a name for himself and follow in his grandfather's footsteps. When he learns the pretty Senator's daughter yearns to become a missionary, he approaches her father with a marriage proposal.

Will two proud, insecure people survive the rigors of the trail and someday have a loving marriage?

The author is new to me, but I'd heard positive things about her stories. She did a good job making me care about the characters and grounding me in the setting. I'm giving this story 5 Stars for courage and romance.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review or paid me to write one. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered taking historical situations and creating stories to fit them? Please share.

Readers:  Are you a fan of historical novels set during pioneer times? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, May 8, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout




In my previous Monday post, I shared some of the things I've learned since I started blogging. It's a lot like a marathon when you're blog is part of your writing platform. Here are five ways I

1.  Prayer is always at the top of my list. If my joy level is low on the spiritual front, it will affect every area of my life, including writing.

2.  It's easy to get caught up in the blogging/social media world. I'm interested in so many things and love to read about them. Take time out from the computer screen and live life. Go for a walk, hang out with family/friends (not just the ones on Facebook), read a book, plant a garden, volunteer, play with a child, and whatever else fills your creative reservoir.

3.  Don't stress out. I'm more into prevention than crisis management. If you anticipate a busy time, ask a friend if they'll do a guest post. On a holiday, post a favorite song or writing quotation.

4.  Take regular breaks. Some of my favorite times to take off include Christmas, spring, and summer. Last summer, I took a longer blog vacation because of a broken wrist. When you need to rest, REST. Let your readers know your plans and when you'll return.

5.  Reading does double duty for me. I  not only enjoy a good book, but also review it on my blog. It's one way to get the most out of something I love to do.

Recently, my day job has sapped a lot of my energy. It's time to kick back and relax, so I'm taking one of those blogging breaks starting May 15th. I'll return on June 5th, hopefully refreshed and ready to resume my normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.

Happy Spring!

Writers/Readers: How do you avoid blogger burnout? If you don't blog, how do you keep life in general from overwhelming you?

Photo Credit:  Marcel Hol


Friday, May 5, 2017

Helping Authors/Keep Swimming/Religious Expression/Change/Pottery


1.  As a reader, I often want to purchase a lot of books. Since I'm not independently wealthy, I've had to find other ways to support the authors I enjoy. Inky Girl gives some great tips on how you can help your favorite authors.

2.  Are you struggling with writing? Chad Allen quotes Nemo: "Just keep swimming." Discover 5 Scientifically Verified Benefits to Writing.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on a bill passed by Kentucky to protect religious expression in public schools.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio talks about how to make change our ally.

5.  Do you like pottery? You might be amazed at the items Linda, at A La Carte, found. One of these days I'm going to take a pottery class. There's something about fashioning a plate, vase, or mug that appeals to me. 

Writers and Readers:  Does change make your insides quiver or are you a natural-born risk taker? Why?

Photo Credit:  Jose A. Warletta

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

On My Kindle - The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky



Julia Foster's missionary days in India are interrupted by an illness in her family. She believes with all her heart that she'll return at some point, but takes on the daunting task of caring for Sir William Ramsey's two children, as well as his nieces.

Sir William Ramsey focuses on keeping the family estate amid financial difficulties. As a handsome man with a stellar pedigree, he hopes to make a marriage that will ease his burdens. He never thought he'd be attracted to a former missionary.

This book is the first in the Edwardian Brides series. This book has all the elements I enjoy: a clean romance, characters that undergo a change of heart, mystery, and an element of danger.

The author did a fine job with this book. 5 Stars!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review, and I did not receive any payment for it. All opinions, as usual, are mine and mine alone.

Writers: What kind of elements do you include in your writing to keep the reader's interest?

Readers:  Do you enjoy books set in other countries and in different time periods? If so, what are your favorite settings/historical times?