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?


Monday, May 1, 2017

Blogoversary Month!



Every time May rolls around, I think about those early days of blogging. I never dreamed I'd be doing this for nine years. At first, the thought of staying on a schedule week after week almost sent me running in the opposite direction. How could I ever find enough things to say to writers and readers?

Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1.  Pray for direction and for those who would read the blog.

2.  Be honest about my struggles with the writing life. It's okay not to have it all together. The learning process often has bumps (and sometimes mountains) on the road.

3.  For the sake of sanity, have at least a couple of weeks worth of posts written and scheduled. My preference is six weeks. Why? Life happens - a broken wrist, the illness of a family member, simple exhaustion, church/work/family commitments can all derail your good intentions to keep up with your blog. Oh, and let's not forget about writing deadlines and book launches. (I've done four of those during my blogging years.)

4.  Write about the things that interest your readership. I've seen others turn their blogs into one long advertisement for their books. Boring.

5.  Since my audience is primarily Christian, I strive to encourage blog readers from that perspective.

Are you a blogger/blog reader? What draws you to a blog? If you blog, what are some tips you've found helpful?

Photo Credit:  Maaillustrations

Friday, April 28, 2017

Interview Questions/Freelance Writing/Facebook Bias/Risky Love/Recipe


1.  Have you ever wondered what to ask an author during an interview? Laurel Garver gives 50 Fabulous Questions to Ask an Author.

2.  Do you want to be a freelance writer and work from home? Jean Fischer gives us a peek at what it's like and what's expected.

3.  Breaking Christian News shares a story from CBN about a Christian Mommy Blogger. Facebook apologized for deleting one of her posts, but now she's helping other bloggers deal with the bias against Christian viewpoints.

4.  Amy Menter guests posts at Maria Morgan's blog about The Direction of Love. Is it worth the risk?

5.  Chocolate Almond Biscotti - just saying that phrase makes me want to try making these yummy cookies. (It didn't hurt that the recipe said "Easy.")

Writers:  What are some of your favorite interview questions?

Readers:  What kind of information do you like to know about your favorite authors?

Photo Credit:  Kerem Yucel



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On My Kindle - One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon


Claire Summers works hard as a teacher, mom to a precocious 11-year-old daughter, and owner of a house that's falling apart. One benefit to living in her neighborhood is her new friend, Dr. Maureen Chandler. Her daughter's good deed for the cancer survivor impacts their lives beyond her wildest imagination.

Keith Watson's life revolves around work, work, and more work. His early years haunt him and keep him trapped in a prison of his own making. A compassionate boss and a thoughtful little girl change everything.

This new-to-me author created a sweet story with adoption and a spiritual theme intertwined. It's a great spring/summer read, filled with hope and transformation. While I prefer something with either historical or suspense elements, it was a satisfying read.

I'll be checking out more of this author's books. Five stars!


Writers and Readers:  Do you like a quick read or a book that requires a more thoughtful approach? Please share.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Know Your Audience


A friend and I were discussing why some of our favorite retailers have lost our business. We came to the conclusion that they didn't pay attention to what their customers wanted. They changed their marketing strategy and antagonized their most important resource: buyers.

How did they do this? Where I live, there's a strong conservative mindset. We also have many people over the age of 50. It's not that we don't want to buy at that store. The store doesn't have what we want. Seeing racks and racks of extremely short dresses does not attract our attention. Both of the stores we discussed also have rewards programs that leave much to be desired.

While we'd all like to think of writing as a purely creative endeavor, we cannot ignore the business side. My books (The Moses Conspiracy, The Scent of Fear, Out of The Mist, and The Christmas Wish) have strong elements of suspense. It's what my audience expects when they pick up one of my books.

In the Christian market, there are certain constraints, ones I welcome and embrace. Christian publishers have strict guidelines. However, with many writers self-publishing, they can do whatever they want. Yet, if a reader expects a clean story from an author they know and they get a nasty surprise, they'll feel betrayed. They might come back a time or two and check out new titles, but they'll eventually walk away if they're continually disappointed.

There's a struggle between writers and publishers on how much to push against Christian guidelines. I believe the decline in the number of Christian fiction titles has a lot to do with what our audience wants and expects when they pick up a book - a clean story, a strong spiritual thread, and quality writing.

Writers and Readers: What are your thoughts on knowing your audience?

Photo Credit:  Kimberlee Kessler

Friday, April 21, 2017

Backstory/Book Covers/George Washington/Devo/Table Decor


1.  Weaving backstory into your novel is critical to the overall story. Lisa Cron posts at Writers in the Storm and debunks the myth that backstory is unimportant.

2.  Whether you're an Indie or Traditional author, book covers are an important component in marketing your story. Zoe M. McCarthy gives some definitions and guidelines.

3.  Many people say George Washington was a Deist. Breaking Christian News ran an article on why this isn't true. He was a committed Christian.

4.  Henry McLaughlin posts at The Write Conversation on Getting Through the Rough Spots.

5.  Spring! I love this season and found some pretty table decor. Enjoy these slides at House Beautiful.

Writers:  How involved do you get in the book cover design process? Indie authors - where do you get your book covers?

Readers:  Which spring decor slide was your favorite? I liked #4 the best. Hmm, could it be the gorgeous purple tulips?

Photo Credit:  Susan Kers

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On My Kindle - The Still of Night by Kristen Heitzmann


After reading the first book in this series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the second one. The Still of Night features Morgan Spencer - prodigal, genius, and troubled older brother in the Spencer clan.

I got more than I expected. The story includes a disastrous past relationship and a teenager's fight against cancer. The author did her research, and the emotions and details of the battle were all too accurate. Since my husband fought the same cancer, it brought a flood of memories.

The story highlighted the characters' choices and their far-reaching consequences. By the same token, it was a testament to the grace of God and how He turns what the enemy means for evil in our lives around for good.

It's rare that I get a block of time to read. On the day I finished this book, I was able to read for 2 1/2 hours straight. If you want a story you can't put down, this one was riveting. I'm placing my order for the next book in the series.

5 Stars for The Still of Night by Kristen Heitzmann.

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

Writers:   Have you used detailed medical situations in any of your writing? Please share. Book 3 of The Moses Trilogy, Out of The Mist, has a character with the same cancer as the one in Kristen's book. I didn't go into the kind of detail she did because it wasn't as critical to the story line.

Readers:  When reading a series, do you read each book as it's released or wait until you can blast through the whole series? Why?



Monday, April 17, 2017

The Art of Reviewing Books


Yes, I said, "art." As a reviewer, I'm painting a picture for a potential reader. Like a canvas or music, the evaluation of writing is subjective. How I communicate my thoughts will affect their perception of an author's work. I try to remember there's a real, live person who wrote those books. They have feelings, dreams, and it's taken everything for them to put their hearts on the line.

Here are some principles I use to review books:

1.  I select books I enjoy reading. If I detest history (which I don't), why choose a novel set during the Civil War? If horror gives me nightmares (it does), I leave it to braver souls.

2.  I read the descriptions on Amazon. It's irritating to see a review based on someone's disappointment that the content didn't match what they thought the book was about. Even more astonishing is when the reviewer says they didn't read the book.

3.  Give a writer some grace. A debut author's book shouldn't be measured with the yardstick of a seasoned professional's bestseller. A child's first efforts at writing are not in competition with a grad student's thesis. Writing is hard, and we're all on a learning curve.

4.  My number one don't: I rarely review a book under 4 stars. If I know the author and they trust my desire to help them, I might share my thoughts in a private message on what I observed.

5.  Are all my reviews sugar and spice and favorable? No, I'll often point out something that I didn't like. However, I'll also lead and balance those comments with what intrigued, interested, or touched my heart.

Social media and review sites are great when used with kindness and sensitivity. An honest review doesn't equate to trashing an author or their work. My relationship with the Lord affects every area of my life, including how I treat others. It takes a lot to get an agent, a book contract, or even to self-publish. Let's encourage each other to bigger and better things.

Writers:  What are your pet peeves about reviews?

Readers:  What are some of your guidelines for book reviews?








Friday, April 14, 2017

They Could Not - Sandy Patty

My all-time favorite Resurrection Sunday song. I did this last Sunday as a Sign Language special.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On My Kindle - Where The Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti


This story spans several time periods, including the 1890's, 1950's, and the 2000's. Anna Grissom opens a home for unwed mothers during a time when these young women were considered outcasts. Her love and compassion helps many of them to find grace, forgiveness, and the ability to move forward with their lives.

Ivy Carrington, a young woman carrying the child of her soldier boyfriend serving in Korea, meets Anna at the nursing home where she works. They form a friendship as Anna shares her life story and Ivy commits it to paper. Anna's kindness and wise counsel help Ivy navigate the most difficult time of her life.

Becky Trundle's daughter, Lauren, struggles to complete high school after the birth of her son, Jackson. Decisions have consequences and affect the whole family. Their journey highlights the struggles of modern-day families adjusting to new realities.

I'd heard of this author and wanted to read her books for quite some time. I finally purchased this one, and loved the story. The author has a unique way of turning a phrase and a fresh writing voice. This is a beautiful story of God's grace and how He uses others to provide a second chance at a stable, productive life.

5 STARS and off the charts!

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


Writers:  Have you considered writing either books or novels with a strong redemptive thread? Please share.

Monday, April 10, 2017

How Much is Too Much?


Walking through a Farmer's Market or the produce section of a grocery store makes me smile. I love the colors and variety of fruits and veggies. While I like some better than others, I understand that not everyone shares my taste or responds to them in the same way.

There's quite a debate in Christian Fiction about how overt the spiritual content should be in our books. Some think the merest hint is sufficient, while others want it spelled out on a billboard.

Personally, I'm not a fan of watering down the principles and message. My characters pray, quote scripture in a natural way, and live their convictions. While a subtle touch may work for some people, others need something more solid. The apostle, Paul, spoke of using various methods to reach different people.

I believe there's a place for both schools of thought. God has led me to write in this direction. Perhaps others write for a more general audience.

So, my writer and reader friends, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Photo Credit:  Mette Finderup