Monday, October 5, 2015

Mini Blog Break

I've been having major troubles with the Internet for several weeks now. On Wednesday, 10/7/15, Verizon will be installing FIOS (Fiber Optic Network). Hopefully, that will fully resolve the issues.

Friday, 10/2/15 was the first night I was able to get on here without too much trouble. I'm taking a blogging break today, but my regular Friday post will be up for your reading pleasure.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, October 2, 2015


1.  Many people are going the Indie route these days. I came across this article by Brian Hutchinson, at Positive Writer.  He shares how to publish a paperback on CreateSpace.

2.  I've been debating whether or not it's time to get a website. Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, posted on the subject and helped me make an informed decision. (I've decided to stick with my blog.)

3.  Not everyone writes novels. Many writers focus on magazine articles, devotionals, etc. Here's a great post at The Write Conversation about what it means to write on assignment and how to get there.

4.  When I saw this recipe for Crockpot Applesauce, I decided to share it with all of you. The idea of using my slow cooker to make one of my favorite things intrigued me.

5.  Dena Netherton encourages us to Be Curious. 

Writers:  Website or blog, and why?

Readers:  Curious or nosy - what do you think?

Photo Credit:  John DeBoer

Monday, September 28, 2015

Adventures with Hootsuite

For a long time, I've been toying with the idea of using Hootsuite to schedule tweets. I finally took the plunge, but must confess it's been challenging.

Since I'm still figuring out Twitter, there's a double learning curve. Usually, I tweet other people's stuff plus my blog posts. Writing 120 character blurbs bores me silly.

Ah, and then there's Facebook. I belong to a lot of groups, but still don't know how to schedule posts to them. I've tried looking at YouTube videos, but my Internet connection is slow. The screen shots and directions also rival the fine print in one of those TV commercials.

Bottom line: This is an appeal for a simple cheat sheet on how to schedule posts for Facebook Groups on Hootsuite. I could sure use some advice.

Writers:  Do you use Hootsuite or another service to schedule posts on Social Media? Which one do you prefer and why?

Readers: If you blog, do you schedule your posts on Facebook using Hootsuite

Photo Credit:  Maxime Perron Caissy

Friday, September 25, 2015

Comparable Titles/Social Media/Encouragement/Devo/Pumpkin

1. One of the toughest parts of writing a book proposal is finding comparable titles. Zoe M. McCarthy gives us some great ways to accomplish that task.

2.  Have you ever had a Facebook friend or Twitter follower drive you crazy with their posts? Shannan, at the Procrastiwriter shares her experience and gives tips on how to purge your social media.

3.  Publishing can be a long road, and it's easy to get discouraged. Edie Melson gives 19 thing to remember when publishing.

4.  Rhonda Schrock shares a devotional, "Breathe in, breathe out."

5.  With fall here, pumpkin recipes are in demand. I discovered one for Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins. (Now, you knew there had to be chocolate in there someplace!) Let me know how they turn out, and maybe I'll make them for Thanksgiving.

Writers and Readers:  How do you handle obnoxious Facebook friends?

Photo Credit:  Jean Scheijen

Monday, September 21, 2015

Writing Nugget - Keep Some Water in the Tea Kettle

Tea kettles are great, but I've learned from experience to keep some water in them at all times. If you forget to turn off the stove, you could end up with a burned kettle or a fire. One time, I even had a glass version crack.

I always keep some writing ideas stored in my tea kettle brain. Instead of writing down every thought, I end a session in the middle of a scene or chapter. This helps me continue the story without staring at a blank page and ending up with a burned-out mind.

Writers:  What are some techniques you use to keep the ideas flowing?

Readers:  If you're a blogger, how do you come up with fresh content?

Photo Credit:  Samantha Sargent

Friday, September 18, 2015

Image Types/Graphics/Colors/Phishing/Devo

1.  I found a site called, BuildBookBuzz. This particular article talks about boosting your social media success with 3 image types. I signed up for their emails, and they sent me several free resources that I was able to download.

2.  Wow! I'm loving this BuildBookBuzz website. I clicked on another link and found an article on how to pick the right images for your blog posts. Graphics catch people's attention and draw them into the content. There were some great tips here.

3.  AddThis is my choice for blog buttons. They recently sent me an article on why the right color palette matters for your brand.

4.  A lot of scoundrels want to get your information. Blogging Bistro warns about a phishing scam on Facebook.

5.  We've covered lots of social media issues so far in this post, so it's time to change it up. Dena Netherton talks about a "Cathedral of Cedars" near her home. She's found a place to walk/jog where she can have some quiet moments with God.

Writers:  Most of the time I gravitate to Christian writer blogs. Lately, I've been gleaning some great information from general market writers. Do you check out general market resources for writers? If so, what are some of your favorites?

Readers:  Do you keep an eye out for scams that target those on social media? One of the ways I head off trouble on Facebook is to look up someone on my Friend List before accepting a friend request. This has helped me avoid friending a hacker more than once. What are some of the things you do to prevent problems on Facebook?

Have a blessed week!

Photo Credit:  Jenny Kennedy-Olsen

Monday, September 14, 2015

Interview and Giveaway - Jeanette Levellie

Let's welcome Jeanette Levellie to Christian Writer/Reader Connection! Jeanette has a new book out called, "Shock the Clock." I love that title, don't you? Jen is going deeper with this interview and sharing a bit of her history.

1.  What would you say is the theme of your life?

Grace in many forms, hope, and humor.

2.  How has the Lord shown His grace to you throughout your life, and now, in your middle years?

I grew up in an alcoholic family, and my parents divorced when I was six. My mom married another alcoholic when I was nine, and my real daddy, a sweet guy whom I loved dearly, died seven months later. As a teen, I rebelled against my parents and acted out from a deep sense of abandonment and rejection. God never gave up on me, and forty years ago, He led me to a great man of God, Kevin Levellie, to be my husband. We won't hold it against him that he's a preacher!

Now, as the parent of two adults who struggle with various issues, I'm learning that God's grace is sufficient for every trial. No one is exempt from trials, but some are more victorious in them. Those are the people who learn to lean heavily on the Word and their relationship with Jesus.

3.  Your blog is titled, "Hope Splashes, Finding Gold in Life's Puddles." Can you explain why you chose that name?

No matter what you are going through and how muddy you get, God always has a surprise up His sleeves for you. You may get muddy finding it, but it's there.

4.  Why is humor so important to you?

Humor and laughter keep me from falling apart when I feel like the underside of a snake in a deep rut. The benefits of laughter and humor, both to physical and emotional health, have been proven by many studies. But if you don't believe those, just watch a hilarious movie or a YouTube video of a baby laughing, and see if you don't feel better afterwards. My last book, "The Heart of Humor," is filled with funny stories and articles about how laughter helps you stay young and feel great.

5.  Why are you so interested in Time Management?

I see many people who have talent and intelligence, but who have no idea how to manage their lives. I was not born organized. I had the messiest crib in the church nursery. I learned how to manage my time as an adult. So I'd like to share what I've learned with others, so they can get the most out of their lives and enjoy themselves.

My third book, Shock the Clock, Time Management Strategies for Writers and Other Creatives, releases December 15th, but you can preorder it here:

Author Bio:  Jeanette Levellie, humor/devotional author, is the wife of one man, mother of two adults, grandmother of three children, and servant of four cats. Her favorite sport is eating out. she is the author of three books and has published hundreds of columns, articles, stories, greeting card verses and poems.

GIVEAWAY:  Jeanette has generously offered to give away one signed, print copy of her book, "The Heart of Humor," or an ebook to one commenter. To enter, please leave a comment and your contact information (email address).

This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. Void where prohibited. Deadline: 9/17/15 at midnight.

Friday, September 11, 2015

No Insults/Critique Groups/Blog/Vaccines/Sunrise

1.  Vonda Skelton posts at The Write Conversation and urges us not to dumb down our writing. It's tempting to explain what we mean, but it can be an insult to the reader's intelligence.

2.  Do you belong to a critique group? Zoe M. McCarthy gives some guidelines on 8 questions to ask as you start, alter, or join a critique group.

3.  Are you starting a blog or wanting to re-ignite your passion for blogging? Brian Hutchinson, at Positive Writer, gives simple tips on the subject.

4.  WND reports on a whistleblower's stunning claim that feds are hiding vaccine/autism link.

5.  Do you take time to appreciate a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Susan, at Writing Straight From the Heart, posted pictures of a recent sunrise and how it impacted her.

Writers:  If you belong to a critique group, how much time to you devote to it between meetings and going over manuscripts?

Readers:  If you're a blogger, where do you find your ideas for content?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Confessions of a Dialogue Nerd

Some people are grammar connoisseurs. Others can write settings that dance across your brain in living color. What makes me sigh is a delicious bit of dialogue. It stretches me as a writer to communicate a mood and give the reader a peek into the heart and mind of the character.

One of my critique partners commented that she liked this line from the third book of The Moses Trilogy, Out of the Mist. (It released on 8/16/15!)

"The tears that come from sadness over a loved one's death are never ugly. Every drop speaks of how much you miss them and how special they were to you."

My ears are attuned to how people express their innermost thoughts. A quote from a dear friend has stayed with me over 20 years: "We give counsel with an open hand." Another gem: "Look at the situation from God's point of view."

Writers and Readers:  People will quote bits of dialogue from movies or books that stick with them for years. What are some quotations that resonate with you?

Photo Credit: BSK

Friday, September 4, 2015

Reviews/Sell Books/Pinterest/Freedom of Religion/Devo

1.  There's been an enormous outcry over Amazon's policy on reviews. Rachelle Gardner, at Books and Such Literary Agency, did a blog post on the subject. Reviews mean a lot to authors. She summarizes the controversy and makes suggestions on how to avoid trouble.

2.  Sandra Beckwith guest posts at Writers Win and shares Six Magic Phrases You Can Use to Sell More Books. Did you know that quoting a person will garner more attention than quoting a publication?

3.  Pinterest is so much fun! I've been looking for some tips on how to create my own pins and found an article on Jody Hedlund's blog. She focuses on writers, but anyone can benefit from her instructions.

4.  WND reports on "freedom of worship" versus "freedom of religion." There's a vast difference between the two.

5.  Dena Netherton, at My Father's World, My Father's Words, talks about their recent move - the truck was too small.

Writers and Readers:  Do you have a Pinterest account? What kind of boards have you created?

Photo Credit:  Jean Scheijen

Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Re-Charge After a Writing Project

My late husband told me a story of how a certain country decided people should work seven days a week. Instead of increasing productivity, the experiment had the exact opposite effect. Workers slowed down due to exhaustion and low morale. They went back to a 5-6 day week, and things returned to normal.

All of us need to take a break from the daily grind. Here are some of the ways I kick back and rest:

1.  After a monster-sized project like writing a novel, I take off from writing. Deadline pressure and the fast pace of writing can take a toll on spirit, soul, and body. The most I'll do is write a blog post or journal.

2.  Do the million and one chores I've neglected while operating in super-writer mode. All that stuff piling up can create its own stress. I've washed and ironed curtains, ironed clothing, cleaned closets, cleaned my desk, and restored order to my house.

3.  Sleeping late is a luxury that doesn't happen when I'm birthing what I hope will be that Great American Novel. Staying in bed until 8:00 A.M. on Saturdays and 7:00 A.M. on Sunday is sheer heaven after I've been getting up at 5:00 A.M. every day.

4.  Reconnecting with friends keeps relationships alive and relieves the isolation associated with the writing life. I'll give them a call, go out to lunch, hang out and enjoy their company without looking at the clock.

5.  Spend an extended period of time in prayer and Bible study. I like to make notations in my journal about things that catch my eye. What does that word mean in the original Greek or Hebrew? What do other scriptures say on the same topic?

Gradually, I re-enter the writing life as edits come in, proposals are written, plans are made for book launches, and another book takes shape in my heart. The entire cycle repeats itself, and each part is special in its own way. 

Writers:  What are some of the ways you rest and restore your creative well?

Readers:  How do you re-charge after a particularly busy period in your life?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Marketing/Frustration/Devo/Videos/Dessert Recipe

1.  I came across this article on 44 Proven Ways to Market and Sell Your Self-Published Book. Even if you're not self-published, there are some excellent ideas here.

2.  Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, gives tips on Writerly Frustration and how to deal with it.

3.  Susan Panzica's recent experience with an overgrown garden prompted much introspection. Check out this thoughtful post. She gives us a lot to consider.

4.  WND reports on the suppression of the Planned Parenthood videos by two judges and how to get around it. Every time I think of what they're doing to these infants, some of them born alive, I'm horrified. I can only imagine how God views these horrendous practices.

5.  All my family and friends know how much I love chocolate. Pair it with peanut butter, and my heart skips a beat or two. Here's a recipe from that I'd like to try. If you try it first, will you let me know how it turns out?

Writers:  How do you deal with Writerly Frustrations? Have you used them to communicate that feeling and the tension it causes in your writing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you pin recipes on Pinterest or save them for future reference? Have you actually tried any of them?

Photo Credit: Ket Quang

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Four-Course Meal

Once upon a time, the desire for deep friendships made me try too hard. What do I mean by that statement? Within an hour of meeting me, they knew my entire life story from birth to present age.

As writers, we want to share so much about our characters and story world that we use the force-feed method. How our characters grew up, all their traumas, the full panoramic view of their setting flow from our pens -  on the first page. Readers like a meaty start, but they don't want the whole steak shoved into their mouths in one sitting.

A little mystery tantalizes the reader and whets their appetite for the next delectable morsel. Inserting a detail that shows the why of a character's behavior/choices can create empathy and understanding.

I've learned that getting to know people and writing a book is like serving a 4-course meal:

1.  The appetizer - A little detail after the surface conversation hints at a person's history. In a book, a yummy bit of information prepares the reader for better things to come.

2.  The salad - Specific incidents are shared in a budding friendship, and take it to the next level. Answers to one or two early questions have the reader turning pages, so they can find out what motivates each player.

3.  The entree - Talks that go beyond day-to-day activities increase understanding. The promise of a tasty, nourishing meal is fulfilled. The story world is fleshed out and the characters' motivations become apparent as their history is artfully plated before the reader.

4.  The dessert - The friendship reaches a stage of intimacy where each person knows what makes the other tick. The reader sits back and sighs, eating the confection and sipping the beverage of a story well told.

Writers:  How do you handle back story in your books? This principle can apply to non-fiction as well as fiction writers. (Think about memoir writing or using illustrations.)

Readers:  How does too much character history affect your reading experience? Does it overwhelm you? Do you continue to read?

Photo Credit:  Hobbes Yeo

Friday, August 21, 2015

Risk/Hackers/Speaking/Adjustments/Book Returns

1.  Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer asks, "Are You A Risk Taker?"

2.  As the owner of a new car, this is a truly frightening post. WND reports an experiment where hackers were able to take over a jeep's dashboard, steering, and transmission while it was going 70 m.p.h. on a highway.

In my book, The Moses Conspiracy, my main characters kept their old vehicle a long time to avoid the dangers of tracking devices that would reveal their location. Check out this post. It seems the future is now.

3.  Are you a speaker or moving in that direction? Don't miss this Lucinda Secrest McDowell's excellent post of 7 Ways to Destroy Your Speaking Career.

4.  Whether it's moving to another state, a new job, or some other major life change, we learn lessons on how to adjust. Dena Netherton shares her experiences on frequent moves.

5.  I've always known being an author wasn't for wimps, but Spunk of a Stick's Tips about book returns made me cringe.  L. Diane Wolfe pulls back the curtain and reveals what goes on behind the scenes.

Writers:  Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Why?

Readers:  What are some of the ways you handle major life changes like a big move to another state?

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  matt_benoit

Monday, August 17, 2015

NEW RELEASE! Out of the Mist

NEW RELEASE! The print version of Out of the Mist, the third book in The Moses Trilogy, is available on Amazon. The ebook will be out as soon as some technical issues are addressed.

Drive, determination, and an anti-Christian attitude mark Kendra Marshall. When she collides with Peter Gruber (a.k.a., Zimmerman) in a college hallway, she has no idea her life is about to take a sharp turn.

Dave Yoder's geeky ways are a turnoff to the sophisticated, pre-med student. Undaunted by her brush-off, he works to capture her heart.

Peter's family and friends see red flags in any relationship with the feisty young woman. Trouble is written all over her, but when she's injured, they come to her rescue. They soon find she's marked by The New Patriot organization and could blow their carefully-devised cover.

Once again, the Grubers' (a.k.a., Zimmerman) Amish friends in Bird-in-Hand, PA and Holmes County, Ohio join in the race for answers and protection. Kendra's not always cooperative and gets herself into major trouble.

Will a young woman accomplish what The New Patriots haven't over the course of two decades?