Friday, February 17, 2017

Characters/Writing Goals/Confiscated/Memorizing/Flowers


1.  Character development has a strong impact on dialogue. Chip MacGregor, at MacGregor Literary, gives tips on developing character voice.

2.  We're not too far off from the beginning of the year. Are you accomplishing your writing goals? I came across an article on Positive Writer on One Goal to be a Brilliant, Accomplished Writer (Are You Ready?) Be forewarned this isn't a Christian site, and he uses the term, "mantra," quite often. (Otherwise, it's okay - no profanity.)

3.  Christian Headlines reports on a Church Retreat Center being confiscated by the Iranian government.

4.  Jeanette Levellie, at Hope Splashes, shares 5 Ways Memorizing Scripture Can Enrich Your Life.

5.  Are you looking forward to spring as much as I am? Last year, I got such a late start on my garden. After I broke my wrist, it was impossible to finish. I've promised myself that I won't procrastinate in 2017. Here's a site to give you some inspiration.


Writers:  How do you make your characters different from each other in terms of personality?

Readers:  Are you longing for spring? Do you have a color palette in mind for this year's garden?


Photo Credit:  Filip George

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On My Nightstand - Caught in the Current by Lynnette Bonner


Marie Sinclair and her three-year-old daughter are doing fine, thank you very much. She's learned to depend on herself no matter how tough her financial situation gets.

Reece Cahill returned to his hometown because of his father's illness. Has Marie changed or is she still looking for love at Pete's Bar?

I read the first book in Lynnette's Pacific Shores series and liked it so much that I purchased Book 2. I wasn't disappointed. There's a strong spiritual thread throughout the story. Little Alyssa is adorable although she sometimes sounds more like a teenager than a three-year-old child.

Taysia Sumner made a few cameo appearances from the first book, but I wished the author had included her more. After all, she and Marie were like sisters. It would have added to the story if she'd been supporting and advising her.

Throughout the book, I was reminded of the scripture saying those who are forgiven much love much. I think Marie displayed this, while certain characters seemed to forget they needed forgiveness as much as she did.

If you're a fan of sweet romance, you'll love this book. Five Stars for Caught in the Current.

Writers:   This is a series which focuses on a particular character. Have you considered writing about various characters from your original story? Please share.


Readers:  Are you a fan of the sweet romance or do you prefer an element of suspense/history?

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinion expressed are mine and mine alone.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Making Adjustments



As the years go by, I've made adjustments in how I do things and how I think. My knees protest if I want to scrub my floor by hand. While knee pads I use in the garden help, most of the time I reach for a sponge mop. My brain tells me, "I'm going to clean the entire house today," but my body reminds me to pace myself.

I've always looked forward to the future, which isn't a bad thing. With a birthday approaching later this month, I've learned to appreciate the here and now. One of my favorite verses is, "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."

When people learn I'm an author, they'll often say they want to write a book someday. I wish I'd started writing at an earlier age. Learning the craft takes time and never stops. Perhaps it wouldn't seem like cramming for an exam if I'd begun studying sooner.

Maybe your priorities are on a family, ministry, and career at this point. Why not pick up some writing books, read blogs, attend a writers group to soak up the knowledge you'll need when you're ready to seek publication? Take 10 or 20 minutes to journal or write down ideas for a devotional, short story, or the novel you have brewing in your mind.

Life has a way of changing in a moment. I don't want to miss the opportunities the Lord gives me to make a difference in any area.

Writers:  What steps are you taking to move forward as a writer?

Readers:  How do you balance your immediate responsibilities with your goals for the future?

Photo Credit:  Marius Largu

Friday, February 10, 2017

Multiple POV/Writer's Block/Big Brother/Devo/Cabin Fever


1.  Jerry Jenkins gives 3 Tips for Featuring Multiple Main Characters in Your Story. Since all of my novels are written this way, the article held a special attraction.

2.  Dave King, at Writer Unboxed, gives some unusual insights into writer's block and its remedies.

3.  Google on Steriods. Does that sound ominous? It does to me. Check out this article on further breaches in our privacy by the Feds.

4.  Andy Lee posts at The Write Conversation about The Cost of The Call. Many think if God called them to a specific task everything should go forward without a hitch. When difficulties arise, they get discouraged. Check out this important article.

5.  When winter weather forces you to spend a lot of time indoors, the resulting cabin fever can be debilitating. Wisebread.com gives 6 Frugal Ways to Beat Cabin Fever.

Writers:  Have you ever used multiple point-of-view characters? What were some of the challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?


Readers:  Besides reading, what are some of the ways you deal with cabin fever?

Photo Credit: Nico Van Diem

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

On My Kindle - Every Secret Thing by Ann Tatlock


Beth Gunnar returns to her Alma Mater, Seaton Academy, as a seasoned English teacher. Most of her memories are pleasant, but she's haunted by one life-changing event. It takes reconnecting with old friends and a bond forged with a bright student to finally put the past into its proper perspective.

I'm not into poetry. Philosophical discussions - uh, no. I kept reading this book, hoping for a payoff. At Chapter 26, I almost gave up. Then, a funny thing happened. The characters started doing stuff instead of talking/musing, and it all came together.

If you haven't figured it out by now, this wasn't my usual kind of read. I'm glad I stuck with it. When all was said and done, this book finally made sense to me. The end reached a satisfying conclusion.

A lot of people have difficulty finding meaning in life. The characters' search for truth, values, and worth make it a good choice. I'm giving this one four stars.

Disclaimer:  I received this Kindle version during a free promotion. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a review. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you keep a reader's attention?

Readers:  If a book isn't "grabbing" you, do you continue reading or abandon it? Why?


Monday, February 6, 2017

Inspiration in Unlikely Places


Before Christmas, I was praying about what to write for my blog. The book review and Friday link posts don't demand as much creativity as the Monday posts. The answers came bit by bit.

While shopping for gifts at Kohl's, they had a display of products they sell for charity. A Madeline doll caught my eye, and I was smitten. Both Sweetie Mom and I collected dolls for years until they threatened to take over the house. I'd managed to resist the appeal of these cuties for a long time, but this little girl wouldn't let me go.

After several trips to Kohl's, Sweetie Mom bought Madeline for me. I later picked up the book that went along with her. After unwrapping her on Christmas Day, I sat down and reread the book. I was struck by Madeline's adventurous spirit. When a tiger roared at the zoo, the other girls cowered behind Miss Clavel, but not Madeline. She stood in front of the cage and studied him without a trace of fear.

Madeline made me smile - not a hint of a smile but a big ol' grin. Then the grin turned into a giggle and finally an old-fashioned, tears-running-down-my-face laugh.

She reminded me of David in the Bible. As a youth he killed a lion and a bear to protect his father's sheep. He trusted God to protect him against Goliath. He, too, was fearless.

I admired David and Madeline - one real person and one fictional child. For the millionth time, I wished I had more courage and an adventurous heart. Unfortunately, I resembled the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz more than them.

The Lord reminded me of several times when I exhibited bravery. Perhaps it was the accounts of young David and Madeline that planted that seed of trust in God's protection and care.

Words on a page can inspire people to greatness. Who would have thought seeing a simple doll and reading her book would dig up memories from long ago. Up to that point, I didn't know what my word for 2017 would be. Now, I know:

Courage.

It's about trying new things, being adventurous, and not allowing fear to keep me from experiencing all that God has for me in the New Year.

Writers and Readers: Do you have an inspirational word for this year? Please share.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Advanced Tips/Dialect/Free Speech/Loneliness/Winter Safety


1.  Laura Drake, at Writers in the Storm, gives some advanced writing tips. Her examples help illustrate what she's teaching. It's an article that you might want to bookmark and reread more than a few times.

2.  At one time or another, every writer wants to communicate the dialect/accent of their characters. Chip MacGregor, of MacGregor Literary, talks about writing effective dialogue without distracting your readers.

3.  Public universities are designating areas as, "free speech zones." Not long ago, students were threatened with arrest over a beach ball with a message. Our freedoms are under attack. Raising awareness is the first step toward protecting them.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio wrote an excellent blog post on how to get free of the secret sorrow of loneliness.

5.  Winter Safety Tips from Weather.com. Did you know floor mats could get you out of a dangerous situation? Veggies are not only good to eat but can fight frost on your car.

Writers:  What was your favorite tip on writing dialect/accents? Please share.

Readers:  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio made several points about loneliness. Which one spoke to your heart and why?

Photo Credit:  Jyn Meyers


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

On My Kindle - Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes


Take one young woman with a distant father and a handsome, but abused, man and you get a volatile relationship. Penny and Trent Taylor live their lives in a haze of alcohol and co-dependency.

If I had to choose words to describe this story, they'd run along these lines:

Gritty
Intense
Realistic
Warning
Dangerous

Gina Holmes paints a picture of the physical abuse and mind games that leave the victim in perpetual confusion. Her powerful writing and hope infusion left this reader wanting more stories.

5 Stars for Wings of Glass.

Disclaimer: I can't recall how I got this book - perhaps a free promotion. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are my honest evaluation of the story.


Writers and Readers:  Do character-driven novels give you that strong, emotional reaction? Please share.

Monday, January 30, 2017

New to Me


Even the most exhausting task can become routine. For example: going to the laundromat. I'm thankful the one I used for years is right down the street. Still, the weekly ordeal of loading the car, unloading, getting everything into washers and later dryers, waiting, reloading the car, and then unloading the car at home makes me huff and puff.

I began to think there was no other way to do this chore or that it could never be different because of circumstances. My way of thinking changed gradually.

1.  I broke my wrist last June. Reduced to doing things with one hand (my left - not my dominant right hand) made lugging a laundry basket impossible. Duffle bags provided the solution. They worked so well I continued using them after my wrist healed.

2.  My house is old and the plumbing sometimes presented difficulties. When thinking about getting a washing machine, all kinds of negative thoughts popped up. My neighbor's parents were upgrading to new appliances. He was in charge of finding a new owner for their used washer and dryer.

I showed him the area, presented all my concerns, and he reassured me everything would work out fine. The new-to-me washer and dryer are now in my basement and functioning with no problem. I no longer to drag everything to the laundromat in all kinds of weather.

3.  The laundromat was expensive, but now I'm spending a fraction of what it cost me to do laundry.

There are other areas of my life I've grown to accept as "just the way things have to be." How often does God want to bless me, and I hesitate to obey Him? Is it fear of the unknown or concern I'll fail if I try something new?

It's time to gain a greater perspective. God's perspective - about my writing, about my spiritual walk, about my job, and about the future.


Writers and Readers:  What areas of your life have you come to accept as unchangeable? Please share your thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Why?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Blog Posts/Backstory/Redefinition/Devo/Coloring Books



1.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives 7 Tips to Generate Blog Posts. If you've been blogging for a while, you know how challenging it can become.

2.  Jerry Jenkins delivers a first-class article on Why Backstory Is Better Than Flashback. Far from an information dump, this backstory sets the reader up for a great payoff down the road. I've got to try some of these techniques.

3.  The state of Massachusetts recently tried to redefine places of worship as "places of public accommodation." This gave them the right to dictate what was said and done within churches. See how the Alliance Defense Fund challenged the state and won.

4.  Marja Meijers' post, "Give Me A Q," made me think.

5.  Donna, at The Enchanted Cottage, highlights her daughter's new coloring book, "Bedrooms." For all of you enthralled with coloring, I thought this might be an unusual change from flowers and animals. There are some neat pictures. It almost makes me want to take up the hobby. If only I had the time!

Writers:  Flashbacks are frowned upon these days. How do you handle events that shaped your characters' outlook on life?

Readers:  Do you enjoy coloring books? If so, what are your favorite subjects?

Photo Credit:  Dan Colcer



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On My Nightstand - Understory by Lisa J. Lickel

Lily Masters knows something isn't right when her stepbrother, Art Townsend, sets up an interview for her in the Wisconsin woods. She decides to seek help from a friend, but gets lost in a blizzard.

Cameron Taylor, a former literature professor, finds Lily almost frozen to death near his cabin. He's hiding away while writing his grandparents' biography. He accidentally stirs up a cold case murder in the process.

While I met Lisa Lickel around the writing scene, this is the first book I've read authored by her. Understory shows many layers of trust, truth, and lies. The characters' fears were palpable and their wariness of strangers made for a spine-tingling reading experience.

I've read numerous novels that covered hot topics like interracial relationships, civil rights, and sex trafficking. Rather than a hit-you-over-the-head telling of the story, the author allowed the events to reveal attitudes and perceptions in an organic manner.

Understory held my attention and delivered a satisfying ending. Five stars.

Disclaimer:  I received this book in a blog giveaway. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a review. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers and Readers:  Do you write/read novels that deal with controversial/hot topics? Please share.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Newbie Corner: Pace Yourself


Once I make a decision to do something, I jump in with both feet. Instead of baking 100 cookies, I make 1,500. Crocheting - a simple scarf led to multiple afghans, baby sweaters, hats, mittens, adult sweaters, and throw pillows. I became a frenzied cookie baking/crocheting zealot. Whew!

Is it any wonder when I began writing, I used the same methodology? I quit every hobby and focused totally on learning the craft and submitting to publications. The rewards were satisfying, but in every case mentioned, I burned out.

I never wanted to bake another cookie.

The thought of picking up a crochet hook or skein of yarn made me want to hide under the covers.

And I came to the razor edge of chucking writing on that pile of enthusiastic projects.

It took me a long time to learn the wisdom of "slow and steady wins the race." Don't get me wrong, when I'm on a deadline, I'm as determined as ever to meet it. Yet, I also know that my writing will suffer if I neglect other aspects of my life.

I make time to soak in the Word of God, pray, and fellowship with my sisters and brothers in Christ.

Family and friends deserve my love and attention.

Rest, relaxation, and fun allow me to return to my writing with renewed energy and creativity.

Pacing ourselves builds endurance for the journey. Whether you're blogging, writing articles/poems/short stories, or penning your first novel, remember to live and notice the joys around you.


Writers and Readers: Have you ever become so obsessed with a hobby or some other activity that it chewed through the rest of your life like PacMan gone wild? How do you maintain a healthy balance?

Photo Credit:  Matteo Canessa

Friday, January 20, 2017

Symbolism/Prevent Burnout/Genetic Engineering/No Limits/Recipe


1.  Jonathan Vars guest posts at The Procrastiwriter on the subject of symbolism placeholders and how to use them in your writing.

2.  Jennifer Louden guest posts at Writers In The Storm. She talks about the ever-present demands of writing and how to keep from burning out.

3.  We've seen an increasing number of articles on bio-engineering. WND reports on "Genetic Engineering - Who Cleans Up the Mess?"

4.  Beth K. Vogt guest posts at The Write Conversation on the subject of No Limits. I'd like more people with this attitude around me. :)

5.  Okay, so I'm on a recipe kick. This is a main dish - One-Pot Cheesy-Italian-Pasta-Chicken. Yeah, I thought you'd be interested. :)

Writers:  How do you keep from getting writer burnout?

Readers:  What did you think of the devotional, "No Limits?"

Photo Credit:  Robert Owen-Wahl


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On My Kindle - Londonderry Dreaming by Christine Lindsay


Keith Wilson's grandma left instructions that he was to clean out her house after her death. A music therapist, he leaves for Northern Ireland to attend the funeral and fulfill her wishes.

Naomi Boyd, renowned artist, travels to the Emerald Isle at the request of Keith's grandmother. Ruth Wilson has a gift for her and answers that might solve a long-standing mystery.

When she arrives, Ruth has already passed on. Naomi never expected to come face-to-face with the love she abandoned five years before. As they sift through Ruth's belongings, they discover more than answers to old secrets. Will they give each other a second chance or walk away.

I purchased this book way back in 2014 but forgot about it. The author writes wonderful stories set in exotic locales like India and Ireland. I've enjoyed her work for years. Londonderry Dreaming was no exception. She wove a compelling story with multi-layered emotions.

5 Stars for this novella.

Disclaimer: I didn't receive any payment for this review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered writing books in unusual settings? Please share.


Readers: What is your preference - books set in your home country or in other countries? Why?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Three Pistachio Promises


I'm sitting here eating pistachio nuts. Next to cashews, they're a favorite. So, who cares, right?

It occurred to me that pistachios make us a promise. I had this bag sitting around for a couple of weeks before deciding to open it.

Promise 1:  Until you open the bag, we won't get to taste their delicious flavor. As writers, we won't discover the amazing joys of a story until we open that document and begin the process.

Eating pistachios requires a certain amount of work. While some pop out of the shell with no problem, others require strong teeth or a nutcracker to pry them open.

Promise 2:   There are days when ideas flow and writing is almost effortless. The other days - let's say they're enough to make an author quit ten times over.

While pulling a shell from the bag, I discovered it was empty. Remember the old, "Where's the Beef," commercial? Yeah, this was, "Where's the pistachio?" Here I'm looking forward to another yummy morsel only to be disappointed. (I wonder if that's how Jesus felt when the tree had no figs.)

Promise 3:  A new story or article idea can set our imaginations on fire. We open a blank page and...nothing. Nada. Zilch. We're left with an empty promise.

A bag of pistachios promise a party for your taste buds, but you've got to open the bag, get them out of the shell, and sometimes you come up empty. It's a whole lot like writing and life in general.

Writers:  The strangest things can trigger an idea for a story or blog post. What was the most unusual experience/visual that inspired you?

Readers:  What lessons have you learned from day-to-day happenings in your life?

Photo Credit: Pawel Zawistowski