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.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Pantsing/2018 Challenge/Pro-Life Victory/Devo/Cold Weather Safet

1.  A gazillion books on plotting a novel exist, but try finding one on pantsing. When I came across this article via Melanie Hemry on Facebook (thanks, Melanie!), I knew I had to share it with all of you. Deb Hackett almost short-circuited her dream of writing a novel by trying to squeeze into the plotting corset. (Yeah, that's how I feel about plotting.) Check out her story on the Write Well, Sell Well website.

2.  Gina Maselli, at Write Well, Sell Well, offers 13 Ways to Challenge Yourself as a Writer in 2018.

3.  WND reports on a Baltimore judge telling government officials they cannot demand that Christians promote abortion.

4.  Tim Suddeth's post at The Write Conversation spoke to my heart. He wrote on Standing Strong During Writing Adversity, but it can apply to any situation. We all have projects that we can't seem to get off the ground. I'm sure it's one reason New Year's Resolutions fade into oblivion. Could it be the fear of change that is hampering our good intentions?

5.  Super cold weather can cause serious injuries. WPRI Eyewitness News ran an article on their website on how to stay safe during these conditions. When the temperature dips into the single digits and below, I've thrown out all attempts at looking fashionable. So what if I have hat hair all day? It's more important to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Writers:  Plotter or Pantser? Are you trying to force yourself into a method that doesn't work for you? Please share.

Readers:  Have you considered that fear of change might be hampering your efforts to accomplish some of your goals? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Susan J. Reinhardt

Monday, January 29, 2018

On My Kindle - Her Hasty Betrothal by Jessica Nelson

Lady Elizabeth Wayland loves to read and is more interested in her books than finding a suitable match. She would consider someone who loved her rather than her family fortune, but has little hope that will ever happen.

Miles Hawthorne, a widower and owner of cotton mills, vowed never to marry again. When his childhood friend, Elizabeth, faces a scandal, he steps forward and offers a marriage of convenience.

This Love Inspired Historical entertained me for hours. Jessica Nelson's storytelling always takes some delightful twists and turns. I've read a couple of her books, and have never been disappointed. I'm giving it 5 Stars.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me to review it. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered putting your talents to use with a straight romance? Please share.

Readers:  Love Inspired books will soon be a thing of the past. Have you read many of them? Please share

P.S. Isn't this cover cute? I think her impish expression captured the heroine's sassy personality.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Grow Your Speaking Bus./Surprise!/Study Retracted/Devo/Coloring Pages

1. Cathy Fyock, at The Write Conversation, talks about how writing blogs and articles can grow your speaking business.

2. For all of you who write/read the mystery genre, Dave King's article, at Writer Unboxed, gives some tips on using the element of surprise. Readers - you're getting the inside scoop on how it's done. 

3. Christian Headlines reports that an evolutionist retracted his key study on the origin of life. The results of an experiment were misinterpreted, and the original conclusions could not be duplicated. Check out this interesting article.

4.  Just before Christmas, Emme Gannon, at The Write Conversation, wrote a beautiful  piece about forgiveness. Even though Christmas 2017 is past, her words will still touch your heart.

5.  Whether you homeschool, babysit, or have grandkids over your house, they might enjoy these free winter coloring pages. There are so many wonderful resources on the Internet. Enjoy!

Writers:  Do you speak to churches, groups, etc.? What are you doing to grow your speaking platform?

Readers:  Do you read articles/books with a Christmas theme throughout the year? What is the great attraction? Please share your thoughts.

Photo Credit: Chris Johnson

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Year Resolutions or Dream Boards?

I dumped making resolutions years ago. The latest rage seems to be Dream Boards. The main idea is to have what you want/want to accomplish in front of you as a reminder to move toward that goal.

A lot of people get a word for the year. The one that keeps popping up for me is, "Vision." I had a vision for The Moses Conspiracy, but The Scent of Fear didn't come quite so easily.

My latest book (still unpublished) frightened me so much that it took me four months to get going. An ambitious project and the beginning of a series, I knew there was no way I could write it in my own strength. The Lord finally interrupted my desperation prayers and asked a question, "How did you write The Moses Conspiracy?" A light went off in my head. I sat down at the computer and wrote, praying for direction.

So, Vision and Dream Boards seem to fit where I'm at in my writing life. As the second book in the new series plays hide and seek in my brain, I know what I must do: take all those bits and pieces and throw them on the page. Eventually, they'll get sorted out and the story will take shape. The Dream Board may serve as a reminder of where I'm headed.

Such is the life of a Pantser - exciting, nerve-wracking, and a never-to-be-forgotten journey of faith.

Writers:  Do you pray for a theme/word for the New Year? Please share.

Readers:  What do you want to accomplish/see happen in your life this year?

Photo Credit:  Naama.y.m.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Social Media/Critiquing Rule/Globalists/Love Story/Winter Decor

1.  Jenny Hansen, at Writers in The Storm, talks about social media habits that support your brand and your life. Okay, I hear the groans out there. One thing she said stood out: "Remember, social media marketing is not about dousing your followers with periodic buckets of updates. It is a thousand drops of water, one dribble at a time, that will help your online presence flourish."

I don't know about you, but that's comforting to me. Some of the content is techy, but even I was able to follow it.

2.  Eva Marie Everson, at The Write Conversation, gives us Critiquing Rule #3:  Critique the work, not your feelings about the work. How many of us lead with our response to the content?

3.  WND reports on the Luciferian nature of the globalists. This chilling, but not surprising, article draws its facts from an insider. We are truly in the End Times.

4.  If this real-life love story doesn't bring a smile to your face, I don't know what will. The Christian singer, Carman, recently married. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with a dreaded disease and not expected to live. Many of his family members had passed away, and he only had a handful of close relatives. Don't miss this sweet story. I'm rejoicing with him and his bride.

5.  Winter makes me want to be all cozy and warm, especially when the temperatures dip below 10 degrees! Home Stories has some decorating ideas to complement the season. I'm enjoying a lovely plaid throw Sweetie Mom bought me for Christmas. :)

Writers and Readers:  How do you cozy up your home for winter writing/reading?

Photo Credit:  Susan J. Reinhardt

Monday, January 15, 2018

On My Nightstand - These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart

These Healing Hills

Francine Howard plans to marry her high school sweetheart when WWII ends. Her world comes crashing down when he writes that he's bringing home an English bride.

She applies for training as a nurse midwife in the Appalachian Mountains. Perhaps she'll find a purpose for her life helping others.

Ben Locke's desire to see his Kentucky home and family again occupied his thoughts throughout the war. After being a soldier for so long, what would he do for the remainder of his life?

He's mountain, and she isn't. Can they bridge the gap between their differences or are they too great?

This book captured my attention and never let go. Maybe it was the unique setting, the interesting cultural facts, or the quiet strength of the mountain people that drew me into their story. Whatever it was, I wished there was a sequel to this tale.

Ann Gabhart did a magnificent job with her research and character development. I hope she writes more stories along these lines.

Five Stars!

Disclaimer:  I won the book in a blog giveaway. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a review - favorable or otherwise. All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Is there a particular geographic area that inspires you? Please share.

Readers:  How important is the setting of a story to your experience as a reader?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Help/Critque Rule 2/Fossils/Devo/Health Myths

1. Kathryn Craft, at Writers in the Storm, declares that independence is highly overrated as a sign of maturity. As writers, asking for what we need will propel us forward and get us over those times when we're overwhelmed.

2. Eva Marie Everson, at The Write Conversation, gives us Critiquing Rule #2: There are rules and there is style.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a discovery of a fossilized forest in Antarctica. Scientists are stumped, but the discovery has fueled Bible flood theories.

4.  Lucinda Secrest McDowell, at The Write Conversation, asks, "Where does a writer find peace?" While this devotional references Christmas, it can apply to any time of the year.

5.  Woman's Day has an article on 10 Winter Health Myths Exposed. This was fascinating. One of the items dealt with wearing a hat and losing body heat. I've heard that one before!

Writers:  When you need help, do you ask for it? Please share.

Readers:  What are some health information you've always believed but discovered was not true? 

Photo Credit: meral akbulut

Monday, January 8, 2018

I'm A Little Late - But Here Are The Cookies!

I promised I'd show you pictures of my baking exploits, so here they are. There were two sessions: one with a friend and one with Sweetie Mom:

My friend, Cathy, and I made Linzer Tarts and Peanut Butter Blossoms one Saturday afternoon. We tried doing two different sizes of the tarts, but decided we liked the small ones best.

Lots and lots of Peanut Butter Blossoms.

I made the dough at home to save time. 

Cathy found special cookie cutters for the Linzer Tarts. They had several designs for the center. My favorite is the heart.

Friday, 12/22/17, I made a bunch of butter cookies shaped like Christmas Trees, Stars, Bells, and Angels. The round and twisted cookies are Anginettes, a yummy Italian cookie.

The baking was a lot of work but so much fun.

Writers and Readers:  Do you bake Christmas cookies/cakes? Please share in the comments. If you can, I'd love to see a picture.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Memoir/Critiques/2017 Headlines/Balancing Act/Recipe

1. Jane Friedman gives practical advice to those writing a great memoirs

2. Eva Marie Everson, at The Write Conversation, gives the first rule of critiquing: Know the Writer's Level of Expertise. Those who belong to writers groups will find this helpful.

3.  Christian Headlines revisits the top 21 stories of 2017.

4.  Lori Hatcher, at The Write Conversation, gives 5 Ways to balance writing with marriage.

5.  The cold weather is here! There's nothing quite like easy-to-make comfort food on a winter night. Check out this hamburger steak with onions and gravy recipe at It sounds yummy.

Writers:  Do you belong to a writers group or have a critique partner? What are some ways you give feedback?

Readers:  Do you like reading memoirs? What kind of memoirs interest you - famous people, stories about heroic actions, etc.?

Photo Credit:  Dominik Gwarek