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

Friday, April 6, 2018

Author Surprise/Routine in Fiction/Gospel on Nat'l TV/Devo/Spring Flowers


1.  What No One Told You About Being an Author by Cathy Fyock - neat article with some marketing tips.

2.  I hopped over to Jane Friedman's blog and found an article by Peter Seljin on How to Make the Best Use of "Routine" Events in Your Fiction. He often critiques first pages and gave me a great deal to think about. I'm going to take a fresh look at my work in progress.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on how Kathie Lee Gifford shared the Gospel on national TV. I'm grateful for those in the entertainment industry who boldly proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.

4.  Rhonda Rhea, a humorist, gives us a look at A Messy Life.  Her analogy made me grin. I've done this more times than I can count.

5.  It's official - I have Spring fever. The mere thought of daffodils, tulips, lilacs, and azaleas makes me giddy. To celebrate, here's a slide show from Better Homes and  Gardens featuring Spring blooms.

Writers:  Please share something that surprised you about being an author (whether yourself or someone you know).

Readers:  What's your favorite Spring flower? Please share.

Photo Credit: John Evans

Monday, April 2, 2018

On My Kindle - Winterheart by Terri Tiffany



Penny Hope plays it safe and rarely takes a risk. A chance meeting with a free-spirited woman changes her view of life. She embarks on a journey that will either destroy her or bring her great joy.

The author does a good job with this character's growth from a timid woman to one who takes a chance on a better life. Penny makes mistakes along the way but learns a great deal. I'd definitely say this is a character-driven story. and many will relate to Penny's struggles.

I'm giving this book five stars.

Writers and Readers:  Character-driven or plot-driven stories - which do you prefer and why?


Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy Resurrection Day!


While I love Christmas, Resurrection Day is my favorite holiday. I'm reminded of the whole purpose for Jesus coming to this world. It marks His triumph over sin and the grave after paying the ultimate price to reconcile us to God.

Here's Sandy Patty and Larnelle Harris singing, "I've Just Seen Jesus."


May the Lord bless you on this Resurrection Sunday and may you accept His awesome gift of eternal life. If you want to know more about how to do this, feel free to contact me.


Writers and Readers: How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Bartek Ambrozik


Monday, March 26, 2018

On My Kindle - The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck


When one is a bestselling, award-winning, author and member of a writing dynasty, how do you overcome writer's block? Tenley Roth stares at a blank computer screen and fears she's a one-book wonder.

Her estranged mother calls and asks for help during a health crisis. Against the wishes of her boyfriend, she packs her bag and heads for Cocoa Beach, Florida. Maybe a change of scenery will give her inspiration. There she meets furniture designer, Jonas Sullivan. A cautious friendship blooms in the Florida sun.

Many years prior to Tenley's life, Birdie Shehorn is the belle of New York Society. She adores writing about life and the expectations placed upon her. The two women struggle to find their identity.

This dual timeframe novel had me glued to the page. I'd heard of Rachel Hauck, but this was the first book I'd sampled. Being an author myself, the whole writer vibe intrigued me. She did a masterful job of weaving these two stories to a satisfying conclusion.

Don't miss this well-written and researched book. I'll be reading more from this author. 5 Stars!

Disclaimer:  I did not receive any remuneration for this review. All opinions are mine and mine alone, as always. 

Writers: Does the idea of two stories within one seem daunting? How would you go about crafting such a book?


Readers:  Have you read any dual timeframe novels? What was your opinion of them? Did you find them difficult to follow of did the curiosity of how the two stories would merge keep you reading?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Character Voice/Guy's POV/Preemie/Devo/Orchids


1. Writers are always told to use all five senses in their work. This post shows the great resources available on Pinterest. Here's a list of words to describe a character's voice.

2.  Another gem found on Pinterest is from Ink and Quills. Do you novelists have difficulty writing from a guy's POV? Here are some great insights.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a viral video, showing a baby born at 24 weeks.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, urges us to Beware How We Talk to Ourselves.

5.  I have a couple of orchid plants. The one has bloomed every year since I received it as a gift. This year, it's not being cooperative, so I did some research. Pinterest to the rescue. :) Check out this article on watering your orchid. Apparently, I've been doing it all wrong.

Writers:  What resources do you use when trying to find the right word to describe some aspect of a character's voice?

Readers:  What types of indoor plants do you have (if any)? Do you have any advice on keeping them blooming?

Photo Credit:  Jenny Kennedy-Olsen


Monday, March 19, 2018

How To Overcome Decision Paralysis

I like having options, but too many cause sensory overload. As a writer, I'm bombarded with social media, blogs, and emails offering ways to improve my writing.

At one point in my life, a close friend and I decided to start a craft business. We would make and sell Christian Christmas ornaments. It sounded like a plan, but then other items were added to an ever-growing list. Why not make wreaths? And centerpieces? And gift items? The list of supplies grew, and we hit the craft stores.

"Oh, look, at these cute cutouts. We could paint them and add them to the ornaments." The selection, bargains, and ideas were dizzying. We bought so much stuff that deciding what to use for a simple ornament became a challenge.

Finally, we called a halt to the buying spree. "Let's use what we have and get the finished products sold."

We learned:

1.  To enjoy looking without making a buying decision.
2.  To observe what colors/items we truly liked.
3.  To have a specific project in mind before making a purchase.

Applying these lessons to writing educational opportunities wasn't so easy. The Internet and hundreds of books, online courses, writers conferences, etc. provide more resources than I could use in a lifetime. It's enough to bring on a bad case of decision paralysis. Here's my process:

1.  Slow down and take a deep breath.
2.  Pray and ask God to direct you. 
3.  I narrow down the choices to several reliable sources, look over the materials, and see if anything jumps out at me. This can be either positive or negative.

Example 1:  I went on a free webinar which gave some good information. Of course, they were selling an expensive course. I asked myself: If you do this, can you commit the time and energy it requires to succeed? This is usually my primary concern with any resource. My second question concerns the actual value of the course and whether or not I could afford it. I've begun avoiding these so-called free webinars because of the high pressure (offer good today only) and the expense (only $1,000 even though it's worth $3,000).

Example 2:  I heard about a book on deep point of view. (For the non-writers, this relates to which character's thoughts you get to see and their perspective on a situation.) The resource was reasonably priced, covered a single topic, and didn't require the next two years of my life. I learned a lot from that small volume. I also discovered that I'm a nugget learner. A focused exploration of a single topic helped me remember the lessons learned.

Writers and Readers:  Please share your experience with too many choices and how you narrowed them down.

Photo Credit:  Jean Scheljen

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's That Time Again!


Sweetie Mom needs some extra help for the next month, so a blog break is in order. (She's okay but has a lot going on.) 

I'll return to my regular posting schedule on Monday, March 19, 2018. Have a great month!


Photo Credit:  Svilen Milev

Friday, February 16, 2018

Writer/Wow on the Page/Steelers' Shazier/Devo/Dairy Substitutions



1.  Gina Conroy asks, "How Can You Tell If You're a Writer?" This journey takes time, patience, and commitment. If you're struggling with doubt, this article may help you get past it.

2.  Margie Lawson guest posts at Writers in the Storm on, "Putting Wow on the Page." She gives great examples and shows why and how they work.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on the comeback of Pittsburgh Steelers' Ryan Shazier. He credits God with his recovery, but the media has censored his testimony.

4.  Beth K. Vogt, at The Write Conversation, talks about See The Small Joys. Don't miss this uplifting post.

5.  So many people deal with sensitivity to dairy products (including me). I recently found this Dairy Substitution Guide on Pinterest. Even if you're not lactose intolerant, most likely you know someone who is.

Writers:  Do you ever struggle with writer's doubt? Please share how you deal with it.

Readers:  I was surprised that so many people are lactose intolerant. Where do you go for information on recipes that deal with a variety of food allergies? Please share.

Photo Credit:  David Siqueira

Monday, February 12, 2018

You CAN Enjoy Valentine's Day



With Valentine's Day approaching, people are focused on romance. Yet, while this captures the hearts, it's one small aspect of love.

What is love?

Our language doesn't differentiate between the various aspects of this word. Everything is lumped into a single descriptive word, "love."

In Scripture, the original Greek has several words:

Eros - to describe physical love.

Phileo - the friendship type of love.

Agape - the God kind of love. This love isn't based on the performance of the other party. It's unconditional. It's the love that brought Jesus to this earth as the second Adam.

Unlike the original man, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, free from the curse. He then took all of humanity's sin and paid the ultimate price on the cross.

Imagine how unsatisfying a love story would be if it ended at that point. While the cross left all the disciples' hopes and dreams shattered, the resurrection changed everything. The lover of their soul was alive and gave them new vision for the future.

Even if you don't have a special someone in your life, you can celebrate the love Jesus has for you. My sweetheart went to heaven 10 years ago, but Jesus is with me every moment. If you don't know Him, please email or message me. I'll be happy to share how you can have this special relationship.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Writers and Readers:  What are your thoughts on Valentine's Day?

Photo Credit:  Michal Koralewski



Friday, February 9, 2018

Teen Writers/Awkward Sentences/Babies/Devo/Bargains


1.  Do you know a teen interested in writing? Go Teen Writers talk about how to make your setting come alive. (For that matter, all fiction writers would benefit from this article.)

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy helps the writer spot awkward sentences during the self-editing process.

3.  Breaking Christian News shares photos of pre-born babies.

4.  Adelee Russell shares some insights she received during a frosty ride home.

5.  I think by now all of you know I'm a big bargain hunter. I came across this article on Hip2Save about Kohl's shopping hacks. I thought I'd pass it on to you.

Writers:  What is your most challenging aspect of writing?

Readers:  Are you a bargain hunter? Please share some of your tips with us.

Photo Credit:  Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Monday, February 5, 2018

On My Kindle - The Lost Heiress by Roseanna White


Raised as the illegitimate daughter of a prince in Monaco, Brooke longs to solve the mystery of her true origins. Her childhood friend, Justin, helps her and his discovery changes her life forever.

Justin, the son of a Duke, has his own family troubles. Loss of those he loves haunts his every waking moment. His feelings are changing for Brooke, but will she ever see him as more than a dear friend?

Wow! Roseanna White hit the ball out of the park with this story. The setting, characters, and tension made The Lost Heiress one of this year's most memorable reading experiences. I'll be picking up the other two books in this series. 5 Stars - go grab this book, your favorite beverage, and prepare for a delightful tale.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for this review. As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers and Readers:  Do you like books set in other countries? (This one was set in Monaco and England.) Please share.