Friday, May 25, 2018

Critiques/Coincidence/Evangelism/Keep Paving/Recipe


1.  Andy Lee posts at The Write Conversation on, "How to Receive and Give Critique with Grace." I've made my share of mistakes in this area, especially as a newbie writer. My heart has also been shredded by well-meaning colleagues. This article is a must-read for anyone in a critique group or doing book reviews.

2. Zoe M. McCarthy shows how a coincidence in a story can be a good thing provided it's used in the right place.

3. Christian Headlines reports on a study done by Barna regarding evangelism. This is truly a sad state of affairs.

4. If you're anything like me, writing can often become overwhelming. Katy Kauffman posted at The Write Conversation on how to "Keep paving" when you feel overwhelmed.

5. With Memorial Day coming up, Food Network gives a recipe for Classic Strawberry Shortcake. It's labeled, "easy." Ah, my kind of recipe. :)

Writers:  Have you used coincidences in a  story? Please share.

Readers:  How do you react to coincidences in a story? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Helmut Gevert



Writing Habit/Consistency/South and North Korea/Facing Fears/Author Homes



1.  Jennifer Blanchard, at Positive Writer, gives 9 Ways to Create a Rock Solid Writing Habit. I particularly liked how she gave practical and thought-provoking advice on how to get started and how to stay the course.

2.  Jim Dempsey guest posts at Writer Unboxed on, "Keep Your Characters Consistent." I enjoy articles like this because they challenge me as a writer.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on the recent meetings between South and North Korea have raised hopes that conditions will improve for North Korean believers. Let's all pray for our brothers and sisters in that country.

4.  Tim Suddeth, at The Write Conversation, talks about the fears we face as writers. It can easily translate into any other occupation. I loved this particular line, "In each of our lives, we are going to face new twists and turns that we can call either fears or opportunities."

5.  Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, shares pictures and a blurb about the homes of famous authors. It was fun to see where Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott wrote their stories.

Writers:  How did you establish your writing habit?

Readers: Which of the author homes did you like the best? While not my favorite home, Edgar Allen Poe's house brought back fond memories. My grandmother and mother would take me on walks to Poe Park. I always had to check out his tiny home.

Photo Credit:  Kym Parry

Monday, May 21, 2018

On My Nightstand - The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin, February 6, 2018 from Revell

I've read all of Sarah's books, but I think this one is my favorite. The combination of a British and American perspective for planning the Normandy invasion brought a whole new appreciation for the difficulties the allies faced. The cultural nuances and the personal relationships all filtered through the characters' faith and life experiences.

Dorothy Fairfax, daughter of a well-to-do businessman and an officer in the British Wrens, takes her duties seriously. At the same time, she's dealing with the loss of her mother and brothers to the war and her father's depression. She thinks she knows what she wants - Lawrence - and tries to be the kind of woman he would find attractive.

Wyatt Paxton, an American from Texas, has exiled himself from his family due to past sins. He knows God's forgiven him, but he can't forgive himself. When he meets the pretty British officer, he keeps it on a friendship level. Why get involved in another relationship fiasco?

This story had such depth, and the research was impeccable. I was completely engaged with these characters. It was easy to believe they were real people because of the historical facts wrapped around them.

5 Stars! I recommend this book and all of Sarah Sundin's other series.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a positive review. I purchased the book, and all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers and Readers: Do you enjoy books that combine different cultural elements? Please share.







Friday, May 18, 2018

POV/Writer's Block/Unborn Babies/Failure Isn't Forever/Recipe

Writer's Block

1.  Point of View presents some sticky problems for writers. As we advance, we can still get caught with challenges in this area. Lisa Hall Wilson writes about 4 Point of View Breaks that Sneak In Even When You Know Better.

2.  Jane Anne Staw guest posts at Jane Friedman's blog on the subject of defeating writer's block. I've been struggling with my Work in Progress. I picked up several important tips from this article.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that Indiana's governor has signed a bill stating that unborn babies are persons. A criminal can now be charged with murder if a pregnant woman is attacked and she loses her unborn child.

4.  Andy Lee guest posts at The Write Conversation on "Failure is Not Forever." Whether or not you're a writer, this post applies to all of us.

5.  Melissa Lester shares a simple French Country Salad on her blog. It looks like a refreshing dish for a spring/summer lunch.

Writers:  Do you ever suffer from writer's block? How do you overcome it?

Readers:  Which link was your favor this week and why?

Photo Credit:  John Olsson



Monday, May 14, 2018

On My Nightstand - Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke

Until We Find Home by [Gohlke, Cathy]


Another great story by this author! I never get tired of her books. This one focuses on a group of orphans smuggled out of France and Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Claire Stewart, an aspiring writer, helps the French Resistance rescue Jewish youngsters. She plans to drop them off at a boat that will take them to England. Her contact and boyfriend, Arnaud, is supposed to meet her there, but never shows up. She gets knocked unconscious and ends up in England with the children. Fortunately, her aunt, Lady Miranda, lives there and takes them all into her home even though she has her doubts.

David Campbell is displaced in his own right. An American working in England on a top-secret war project, he finds lodging with Lady Miranda, Claire, and the young refugees. His wisdom and concern for all of them brings growth, joy, and hope to the household.

This book is 5 Stars all the way. Any time I see a new story coming out by this author, I make sure I pick it up. I've read every single one she's written and keep them in my personal library.

Writers and Readers:  Do you have some go-to authors that always top your TBR list? Please share.



Friday, May 11, 2018

Productive/Character Feelings/Abuse Prevention/Movies/Devo/Decluttering Myths


1.  Writers can be productive and happy while authoring. Cathy Fyock posts at The Write Conversation and gives some excellent advice to help you finish your book.

2.  Showing rather than telling how characters feel is the aim of Zoe M. McCarthy's blog post for writers. Take your writing up a notch with these excellent tips.

3.  Christian movies are exploding in popularity. I recently saw I Can Only Imagine and came away inspired and uplifted. Christian Headlines has a fascinating article on this trend. I hope you enjoy it.

4. Lynn J. Simpson talks about securing our steps. We all face hard times, but when we focus on God, He leads us through them.

5. Realtor.com had an interesting post on decluttering myths. Following this list will set you up for failure. The author gives advice that will help you keep your home clutter free.

Writers and Readers:  Have you seen any of the recent faith-based movies? Which ones did you see and how did you like them?

Photo Credit:  Jonathan Werner


Monday, May 7, 2018

On My Kindle - Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between


When I read the blurb on this book, it piqued my interest because it said it applied to plotters, pantsers, and tweeners. Mr. Bell generally espouses plotting, which puts my brain in a knot.

Often, I find craft books dull and boring, but Mr. Bell added a nice dash of humor to his text. It held my attention and kept me turning pages.

The main theme of the book was discovering the protagonist's "mirror moment." This occurs in the middle of the story. I put this to the test with a book I'm currently reading by a Christy Award winning author, and sure enough, there was the moment right where he said it would be.

I'm experimenting with his technique with my work in progress. Maybe it will help me break out of writer's block.

This craft book gets 5 Stars for being interesting and informative.

Writers:  Do you use a particular method to structure your stories? Please share.

Readers:  What's the best part of a story for you? The beginning, the journey, or the grand finale? Please share your thoughts.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Love Language/Deep POV/Downs Syndrome/Rest/One-Touch Rule




1. DiAnn Mills guest posts at The Write Conversation. She asks, "What is your character's love language?"

2.  Lisa Hall-Wilson guest posts at Writers in the Storm about 5 Quick Ways to Shift Description and POV into  Deep Point of View. There's also a link to a free e-course. I've asked for it, and will give you a report when I've finished.

3.  Bravo to the State of Utah House for passing a bill that outlaws the aborting of Downs Syndrome babies. There is much pressure from the medical community and society to destroy children with disabilities. The bill still must pass the Utah Senate.

4.  Lucinda Seacrest McDowell guest posts at The Write Conversation and urges writers to embrace the rest they need. This advice applies to any one involved in a creative endeavor.

5.  Okay, so I'm on a declutter kick. I just heard about the "One Touch Rule." Yeah, it piqued my curiosity too.

Writers:  Have you taken any free e-courses on writing? Please share.

Readers:  How do you rest/re-charge?

Photo Credit: Patataj Patataj



Monday, April 30, 2018

On My Kindle - The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

The Elusive Miss Ellison (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace) by [Miller, Carolyn]


This historical romance is set in England. Lavinia Ellison, daughter of a preacher, carries on her late mother's work of helping the poor. She and her Aunt Patience have a dim view of the aristocracy, who neglect those living on their estates.

Nicholas Stamford, the Earl, who owns the land, returns from war, plagued by nightmares and guilt from the past. He's fascinated by the outspoken young woman, who seems unaffected by his position.

Their two worlds collide, but can they ever reconcile their differences or ignore the rules of society?

Carolyn Miller is a new-to-me author. I thought she did a good job with the story and character development. Lavinia seemed a little too perfect, but I was able to get past that detail. Overall, the book was an enjoyable reading experience. I liked the cover - very cute.

I'd read another book by Ms. Miller. I'm giving this one 4 Stars.

Writers:  Do you give your characters flaws that they overcome? Please share.

Readers:  What settings do you prefer for the books you read - USA or a different country? Why?


Friday, April 27, 2018

Social Media Safety/Memoir/Starving/Devo/Declutter


1.  Most of us are active on social media. In these dangerous times, it's important to take common-sense precautions to keep ourselves safe. Did you know that the pictures you post can have information on your location? Check out this article at The Write Conversation.

2.  Here's a rare post on writing a memoir. Cyndy Etler, at Jane Friedman's blog, shows us how to help the reader "live it."

3.  Breaking Christian News reports that Oregon passed a radical bill allowing mentally ill patients to be starved to death. The abortion culture has opened a Pandora's Box of death.

4.  Dena Netherton's devotion called, "Cactus Underwear of Cascade Mountain Lake," focuses on being thankful.

5.  Spring cleaning time is here. Lamberts Lately is a cleaning/declutter blog. In this post she gives a list of things you can purge right now.

Writers and Readers:  What precautions do you take to protect yourselves on social media? Please share.

Photo Credit: Davide Guglielmo

Monday, April 23, 2018

On My Kindle - The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen


Rachel Ashford lives at Ivy Cottage by the kindness of her friends, Mercy and Matilda Grove. A gentlewoman fallen on hard times, she is determined not to live off the charity of others. Her pride makes it difficult for her to accept help, even from God.

Mercy Grove, the tall and less than beautiful friend, adores teaching in her school for girls. She's comfortable in her situation, but secretly longs for a family of her own.

Jane Bell, owner of a coach house (hotel) and widow, is determined to remain single. The pain of loss still haunts her even though her husband has been gone over a year.

This is the second book of a new series by Julie Klassen. I missed that one, but there was enough detail in this book to fill in the gaps. You might want to start out with the first book.

Once again, Julie's excellent research and well-defined characters planted me in her English story world. I'm looking forward to the next book to see what happens to Jane and Mercy. Rachel's story was the main focus of this book.

Five Stars for an excellent and well-crafted story. Note: The cover shown above is for the audio version, but it also comes in Kindle and print.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment for this review. As usual, all opinions expressed are mine and mine along.

Writers and Readers:  If you miss reading the first book in a series, does it ruin the experience for you? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Devastating Choice/Research/Billy Graham/Devo/Recipe


1. Zoe M. McCarthy talks about giving your characters a devastating choice. Either one will forever alter their lives.

2. Are you considering writing historical novels, but the research aspect is stopping you? Carrie Turansky guest posts at Seriously Write and gives her best tips on how to immerse yourself in another time period.

3. In February, Billy Graham, went on to his eternal reward. His life and ministry were characterized by integrity. The word, "scandal," never appeared in relation to either. Breaking Christian News reported on the principles he and his team lived by. They would be excellent guidelines for any minister/ministry.

4.  Lynn J. Simpson posts her thoughts on "an army of trust." She uses II Timothy 1:7 as her main text.

5.  My family and I are big fans of Italian cuisine. When I first tasted bruschetta, I knew I wanted to make this at home. Here's a great recipe from Rachael Ray complete with video. Have you ever made bruschetta? How does this recipe compare with yours? What ingredients/tips would you add to this one?

Writers:  Can you think of a devastating choice you might give your main character? Please share.

Readers:  Do you prefer books that get characters into major trouble without much of a break or do you like one main conflict? Please share your thoughts.

 Photo Credit:  Svilen Milev


Monday, April 16, 2018

Kitchen Disasters and Story Blunders


I admit it. I'm out of practice when it comes to cooking. Most days, I either grab something easy or Sweetie Mom feeds me. (I've always said I'll never starve as long as she's around.)

Recent circumstances made it necessary that I once again put on my chef's hat and make some serious meals. It should be like riding a bike, but uh oh - not with me. I've made many pot roasts in my time, but my recent crockpot adventure showed I need a refresher course.

1.  I couldn't find the Bottom Round Roast I usually use, so I bought Eye Round. No big deal, right?

2.  After coating the meat with flour and herbs to give it a nice crust, I browned it in my trusty electric frying pan. So far, so good.

3.  I popped the roast into the slow cooker, added water, and turned it on high. I didn't want this thing cooking into the next decade.

4.  Next came the Veggies. Peel those potatoes and carrots. Wash, cut, and set them aside to be added later. The only problem, I made too many for my slow cooker. When the time came to add them, they didn't all fit. Plan B - boil the leftovers separately.

5.  Finally, the roast was done. The fork went in with no problem, and it looked beautiful. When I went to slice the meat, uh oh - it fell apart. I ended up with shredded pot roast instead of the nice slices we prefer. Thankfully, everything tasted okay after that shaky start.

We authors sometimes have story blunders much like my kitchen disaster. When writing The Moses Conspiracy, I had a chapter where Ellie and her son visit the White House. They walked up to the White House got in line, and took the tour. Wrong. A number of years ago, the procedure changed. You now have to get tickets through your representative. The demand for the tour and security concerns changed everything.

Fortunately, this error didn't appear in the published book. I caught it early in the writing process through a casual conversation with a co-worker. Yep, I survived.

Writers:  Have you experienced "story blunders/disasters?" Please share.

Readers:  What kitchen disasters have happened to you over the years?

Photo Credit: Copyright @ Susan J. Reinhardt (Yes, folks, this is what the roast looked like when I got done with it!)


Friday, April 13, 2018

Flaws/Marketing/Chance Encounter/Inspiration/Declutter


1.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives examples of showing a character's flaws.

2.  Grace Wynter, at Writer Unboxed, gives authors five great tips on marketing. The for creating videos sounds like something I want to explore.

3.  God Reports blog shared this beautiful story about a chance encounter on a park bench in Hyde Park with a Muslim woman.

4.  Here are some inspirational thoughts by Beth K. Vogt, at The Write Conversation.

5.  Clutter, clutter - how do you win against clutter? I found a Budget Dumpster site that gave tips on how to get the job done. I'm going back to read the entire article. LOL! I need this.

Writers:  Which marketing tip caught your eye? Please share.

Readers:  Please share some of your favorite decluttering methods?

Photo Credit:  Neal Horstmeyer

Monday, April 9, 2018

Moving From Good to Great


"The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail..." - Charles Swindoll

This quote was in our Sunday bulletin in March and piqued my interest. I started thinking  about all the books I've read and why some were good and others were great. What tipped the scales to the great side?

The book I'm reading at the moment is crafted to perfection, and the storyline captivated me from page one. Here are some of the things I noticed:

1.  The historical references/language/customs are well researched. No modern-day idioms or sayings have popped up and pulled me out of the time period.

2.  Characters act in line with the society, values, and abilities common to their country and place in history.

3.  Descriptions of setting, dress, and appearance all occur naturally throughout the story. There are no long-winded paragraphs. Action is taking place when such details are slipped in like adding flavor with salt or pepper.

I agree with the quote above. The details add richness and depth, elevating a book to greatness.              

Writers and Readers:  Agree/Disagree? What are your thoughts on what makes a book go from good to great?


Photo Credit: David Siqueira