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?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Foreign Sales/FRC/Edits/Influence/Spoonerisms

1.  Lori Nelson Spielman, at Writers in the Storm, talks about what foreign book sales taught her. While her sales in some markets were great, in others they were poor or mediocre.

2.  The Family Research Council reports on the latest developments in the Planned Parenthood scandal. There's a link to a petition, as well as information I haven't seen previously.

3.  Zoe M. McCarthy posted a Quick Guide on the Type of Edit You Need for Your Novel. Since I'm at that stage with my fifth book, I appreciated this information.

4.  I loved this repost by Carol Garvin. She shares about how one of her first grade students grew up to be an astronaut.

5.  Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, posted on "Spoonerisms." You don't know what they are? Neither did I until I read this - very entertaining.

Writers:  Have you ever worked with a professional editor? What type of edit did you get?

Readers:  What was your favorite "Spoonerism?" Can you add any to the list? Please share.

Photo Credit: Lize Rixt

Monday, August 10, 2015

Up Moments from The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference

This is definitely an "Up" moment. My agent, Joyce Hart, and I got to spent some quality time together. While we communicate often by email and telephone, our in-person meetings are few and far between. I'm thankful she's in my corner.

Another "Up" at this conference was the Continuing Session entitled, "The Heart of the Writer," taught by Allen Arnold. He covered the difference between writing alone and writing in partnership with God. Many of his points were illustrated with movie and TV clips, as well as personal experience.

If you don't have a chance to take this class, you can order the CD's from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. (At the bottom of the page, click on Philadelpha. Click on the link in the upper right hand section for the CD Flyer.) I bought the set even though I was there.

All the editor appointments went well. Each one had positive things to say about my latest novel. The workshops I attended gave participants the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences. I met new friends and reconnected with many from past conferences and online.

The 2015 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference is history. Yet, the many things I learned and the relationships nurtured will carry on well into the future.

Thank you, Marlene Bagnull, for walking in obedience to the Lord. It was the best conference to date for me.

Writers:  Have you been to a writers conference? What was your favorite experience there?

Readers:  Did you know we pray for you as we write our books? My desire is to: 1) Honor the Lord and 2) Write a book that will both bless and entertain you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Publishing/Twitter/Spies/Help/Writing Slumps

1.  Jim Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency, gives an encouraging word for uncertain times in the Christian publishing industry.

2.  Whether you're an author or in some other business, here's a great article by Annie, at Writer Unboxed, on the line between self-promotion and spam on Twitter.

3.  WND reports on the creepy world of spy devices in your home. Sweetie Mom recently needed a TV, and we made sure the one we bought wasn't a "Smart" version.

4.  Author Jody Hedlund talks about the benefits of having a Virtual Assistant. No, you don't have to be independently wealthy to hire one. Check out her article.

5.  Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, gives five ways to break out of a writer's slump. I think this could work for any creative endeavor.

Writers:  What are some ways you break out of a writing slump?

Readers:  Do you hang out on Twitter? What are some of your pet peeves?

Photo Credit:  svilen001

Monday, August 3, 2015


It's a command associated with someone in authority wanting a person to stop running. HALT is also used as an acronym to warn us of danger.

H - Watch out when you're hungry. Jacob knew Esau would be hungry after a day of   hunting, and used a savory stew to exchange his birthright for a hearty meal. It was a bad deal that caused their entire family much grief over the course of a lifetime.

A - Watch out when you're angry. David almost killed a bunch of people because they refused to help him and his men. The wise intervention of Abigail prevented a disaster and helped him calm down.

L - Watch out when you're lonely. It's easy to seek comfort in all the wrong places when you're gripped by loneliness.

T - Watch out when you're tired. Sleep deprivation can weaken your resolve to stay the course and make right decisions.

As writers, each one of these situations can present temptations:

H - Are we hungry for recognition? Watch out! Scripture tells us to let another praise us and not our own mouth. This doesn't mean we shouldn't make others aware of our work or accomplishments, but rather do so with a humble spirit.

A - A bad review, a Frankenstein edit (lots of red ink), or any number of situations can make us angry. During those times, stepping back and allowing the dust to settle will give us perspective and an opportunity to deal with them in a reasonable manner.

L - The writing life is a lonely one. In our desire to connect with other writers, we may entrust our articles, poems, or manuscripts to anyone who comes along. That's a good way to end up bruised and bleeding from non-constructive criticism.

T - With all the demands of life and writing, it's easy to get tired. During those times, avoid making drastic decisions that will affect the course of your writing career. Get the rest you need, so you can evaluate your choices with a clear head and a prayerful heart.

Writers and Readers:  What are some of the warning signs that set off alarms in your head?

Friday, July 31, 2015


1.  Research can present some tricky problems. ShannonVannatter guest posts at Seriously Write, on the subject. What happens when all your normal research avenues fail?

2.  I read a fascinating article by Michael Hyatt on why the place you live can determine your success. Since I moved from an area where Christian writers were rare to a Pennsylvania location that provided support and training, I can testify to the validity of his findings.

3.  The recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex "marriage" will have far-reaching effects on both freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We're already seeing newspapers saying they won't print op-ed pieces against this. Check out the Family Research Council's full article. It's sobering.

One of the items mentioned was how an outcry would result from Americans. But will that materialize or will we sit back the way we did when prayer and the Ten Commandments were ripped from public schools? The heat is turning up on the proverbial frog in the frying pan. If we wait any longer to both act and pray, it will be too late for freedom.

Writers:  How do you get the information you need for your writing when your normal channels dry up?

Readers:  Do you need super intense details when you're reading a book that includes something like technology or careers? I once read a book that had so many techy elements that it resembled a textbook. I finally skipped over all those parts because I couldn't make sense out of them.

Photo Credit:  tijmen

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Not a Bargain If...

It's no surprise to many of you that I'm a bargain hunter. In my quest to save a buck, I've learned some valuable lessons:

1.  It's not a bargain if I don't use it.

What's the point of picking up cabbage on sale if the smell of it cooking makes me nauseous?

On the writing front, why pick up that plotting book when I'm a SOTP writer? It may be in the bargain bin, but no matter how I've tried in the past I'm not wired for plotting. Oh, and don't forget the lap desk I purchased, which sits and gathers dust in my closet.

2.  It's not a bargain if I'm not sure the product is something I'll use long term.

Buying 5 of an item when I haven't tried it before can turn into a wasteful purchase. I did this with a skin product one time only to discover it made me break out in a rash.

As a writer, I'm always looking for items to make my workload more manageable. While purchasing file folders in multiple colors may seem like a good idea, my track record for staying with various maintenance systems is shaky at best.

3.  It's not a bargain if I end up busting the budget every week.

While getting coupons in the mail can save major George Washingtons, I have to ask myself several questions:

A.  Is there a requirement to spend a certain amount over and above the coupon? For example, get $10.00 off a $25.00 purchase. Our grocery store is famous for giving $4.00 off a $50.00 purchase. Their latest coupon package raised the amount to $80.00.

B.  Do I NEED another pair of shoes, pants, dress, etc.?

C.  Is there a birthday gift I'll have to purchase or other occasion coming up?

As a writer, I'm a sucker for coupons from office supply stores. I apply the same questions to these purchases.

Writers and Readers:  What are some bargains that test your will power?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dialogue/Conferences/ISIS/Devotional/Home Decor

1.  Okay, I admit it. I'm a total dialogue nerd. Zoe McCarthy delighted me with this post. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did.

2.  Ah, Conference Season - you have to love it. Agent Linda Glaz interviews author Jodie Wolfe about how she prepares for a writers conference. Even though I've gone to many of these events, I could use a refresher course.

3.  WND reports that the Pentagon has confirmed ISIS has enough radioactive materials to produce dirty bombs.

4.  Devotional thoughts from MaryAnn Diorio on Why Worry?

5.  Does your heart go pitter patter when you see decorating blogs? You might enjoy My Romantic Home. I've linked to her Show and Tell Friday post, but take a few moments to explore the site.

Writers: One of the reasons I enjoy dialogue is that I can talk like real people talk and toss the grammar rules. Please share your thoughts on creating natural interactions between characters.

Readers:  What type of blog links would you like to see here on Christian Writer/Reader Connection? I try to give a variety of topics, but your input would help me a great deal.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Great Grocery Bag Caper

Sweetie Mom and I go grocery shopping together every week. When we check out, I always ask the person bagging to keep them on the light side.

Funny thing - when I'd pick up the bags expecting them to be a manageable weight, I'd want to call for a crane. The person would take a few items out, which would make them easier to handle.

After one such incident, it dawned on me why this was such a problem. The young football player types were judging the weight by how light it was for them and not for us. From that point on, I'd jokingly tell them to bag the groceries so it would be light for two older people (even though it pinched my brain to consider myself as older).

Someone once told me that my futuristic stories of America weren't scary enough. They had been in third-world countries and observed all kinds of horrors. Most people born and raised here have not been exposed to this type of experience. When reviews began coming in for The Moses Conspiracy, one recurring theme was how much it seemed like where we were headed.

There's some advice I take to heart with my writing, but I examine it all with care. The wrong advice can set your story, not to mention your readers, on its ear. Also, I take into consideration whether the people critiquing my work have a worldview similar to mine.

Who would have thought that bagging groceries and writing would have anything in common? It's all about perspective.

Writers:  How do you evaluate the writing advice you get from critique partners or beta readers?

Readers:  We all filter what we read through the lens of our own experience. How does your personal experience impact your book choices?

Photo Credit:  spekulator

Friday, July 17, 2015


1.  Wendy Paine Miller, at Thoughts That Move, gives some excellent editing tips. Since my first draft on the WIP is almost done, it's a timely post for me.

2.  The Family Research Council responded to a recent Supreme Court decision. If people think Christians are cowering in a corner, they are sadly mistaken.

3.  Chad R. Allen guest posts at Michael Hyatt's blog. Do you know the five reasons publishers love bloggers?

4.  DiAnn Mills guest posts at The Write Conversation about the use and misuse of the Thesaurus - A Treasure Box for Writers.

5.  With scorching summer days upon us, I thought you might like a recipe for a refreshing Cucumber Salad.

Writers:  Do you blog or have you abandoned the practice? What do you find valuable about blogging?

Readers:  What are your favorite topics for blog posts? Interviews? Book reviews?

Photo Credit:  svilen001

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Upside Down Day

Everywhere I go I hear the same refrain: How do I find time to write?

When I'm on a book project, every moment I can squeak in counts. At times, I rebel and take a mental health day or work on my neglected chores. My latest WIP is coming down the home stretch. It will need editing and the keen eyes of my critique partners and early readers. From there, it gets shipped off to my agent.

Do I get to rest after that? Umm, no. Out of the Mist, the third book of The Moses Trilogy, needs another read through and some tweaking. My other books are being prepared for re-issue, and the launch will require a great deal of work.

The second book in the new series is hopping up and down in my head as we speak. So, another novel is on the horizon and ready to gallop into my life.

Most of the current book was written in the evening. 1,000 words takes about two hours to produce. That time of day is not my optimum writing time, but I couldn't figure out a way to fit it in during the morning. 

To complicate matters, the Lord's been on my case to spend more time with Him when I get up. Although I talk with him during the day, those uninterrupted moments were too short. He definitely has first dibs on my mornings.

Guess what? I turned my day upside down. My average pre-craziness time now looks like this:

5:00 A.M. - 5:30 A.M. - Bible reading and prayer
5:30 A.M. -  7:00 A.M. - Getting ready for work, breakfast, morning chores, and online time. (This might seem like a lot of time, but it goes SO fast.)
7:00 A.M. - 7:30 A.M. - Write!

Bedtime comes earlier - 9:30 P.M. - or I can't get up at 5:00 A.M.

Being able to write when I'm the most refreshed and alert has increased my productivity and quality. I can knock out 300-400 words in a half hour. The remaining word count is finished in the evening. It's such a boost to have that much completed before my day officially begins. I can even get a few things done and maybe relax.

Writers:  When is your best time to write? Please share how you manage to get your word count in for the day?

Readers: What does your daily schedule look like? Do you get up extra early to accomplish something before the daily race begins?

Photo Credit:  Duchessa