Monday, February 29, 2016

The Newbie Corner - Show, Don't Tell

This oft-repeated phase has many writers scratching their heads. Of course, you have to "tell the story." That's what storytellers do, isn't it?

There's a way to get a story on paper that puts the reader into the character's head and keeps them connected to the action. Here are some examples of telling and showing:

Example 1:


Marianna felt drained after her conversation with Virginia. The woman had a way of making her an emotional wreck.


Marianna walked into her apartment and threw her keys on the entryway table. She collapsed onto the couch and considered staying there for a week - maybe more. The next time Virginia asked her to go out to lunch, she'd refuse. Even the luscious food at Chez Magnifique wasn't worth listening to the other woman's constant criticism.

In the telling segment, we're told how Marianna felt and why. In the showing example, we're right there and nodding our heads. Who hasn't experienced this kind of exhaustion at one time or another?

Example 2:


What did it matter Carrie said she didn't like guys that said one thing but did another? Guilt haunted him over the hypocritical life he led before he became a Christian. If she found out about the real Patch Lawrence, she'd probably drop him in a second.


Carrie's voice echoed in his mind. "I can't stand a hypocrite."

He cradled his head in his hands. What was the use of pursuing Carrie? Once she discovered his past indiscretions, she'd be gone in a flash.

In the telling example, all the details are laid out for the reader. In the showing example, the reader turns the page, hoping to discover what indiscretions Patch is talking about and what caused Carrie's outburst.

The whole show, don't tell admonishment still trips me up at times. I'm thankful for critique partners, who point out areas where I miss the mark.

Some things to keep in mind:

1.  Telling reports what is happening in the story. Showing allows the reader to see the action as it unfolds.

2.  Avoid using the emotion words. A tear streaking her pale face shows the character is upset. Trembling hands clues the reader in that the character is nervous.

3.  Ask yourself: "Does this scene evoke an emotional response in me or does it tell me facts without reaching my heart?"

Writers:  Do you have a hard time with show, don't tell? Please share.

Readers:  Does this help you understand why some books you read keep you fully engaged in the story, while others fall flat? What are some of your favorite books?

Photo Credit:  Helmut Gevert

Friday, February 26, 2016

Writing Spaces/Goals/Headlines/Devo/Risks

1.  Zoe M. McCarthy blogs about writing spaces that could change how you create.

2.  Erin Buterbaugh, at MacGregor Literary, talks about setting realistic goals.

3. reports on the disruption of Christians worshiping and the storming of homes in Pakistan. Please remember to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, who daily risk their lives to serve Jesus Christ.

4.  I believe Adelee Russell's devotional will touch many hearts. Do you feel damaged?

5.  I'm not a natural risk taker, but Lynn Simpson's post, at Connecting Stories, gave me something to chew on.

Writers:  What are your goals for 2016?

Readers:  Are you a risk taker or do you hesitate to make changes? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Louis Hall

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On My Nightstand - When Night Comes by Dan Walsh

Jack Turner's old professor and mentor invites him to Culpepper to do a lecture series. Almost immediately, he starts experiencing wild dreams that nearly drive him insane. He embarks on a quest to discover what is causing them.

Joe Boyd got tired of city life and high crime rates. The town suits him fine with its laid back college community. He gets a nasty surprise when two people end up dead.

Rachel Cook's teenage crush morphs into full-blown attraction when Jack comes into town. He confides in her about the dreams, and she's drawn into the web of intrigue.

Suspense coupled with romance is always a big hook for me. Dan Walsh fashions a tale that made moves like a high-speed train. I had an inkling how it might end, but it still sent shock waves when it happened. The characters, setting, and storyline were unique and held my interest all the way through.

Dan Walsh is another new-to-me author. When Night Comes is the first book in The Jack Turner Series. I'm glad I got the Kindle version and sampled his work and look forward to the next installment. I'm giving this book 5 stars.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a review. All opinions, as always, are mine alone.

Writers and Readers: What are your thoughts on fast-paced suspense novels?

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Writer Nesting Instinct talks about a woman's nesting instinct prior to her baby's birth. It's been attributed to everything from hormones to the knowledge there won't be much time for anything once Junior arrives on the scene. Women report cleaning areas they hadn't cared much about before the nesting instinct hit.

While contemplating this phenomenon, I saw a correlation with the frenzied activity prior to the release of my books. My to-do list exploded. "I have to re-do my blog. I should clean out my computer files and organize all book-related items in folders. Pens! Will the printing company deliver them in time for my book launch? This office is a mess. It's time to put things in order and re-decorate."

Yeah, there were a million and one things to do - many of them unnecessary. Each time a book approached its release date, the scenario repeated itself. When I think about it, I smile. It's all part of the excitement and anticipation of introducing my book babies to the world.

I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Writers:  Did you experience the "Writer Nesting Instinct?" Please share.

Readers:  Is there a "Reader Nesting Instinct?" Do you pore over websites, catalogs, flyers, and make room on your bookshelves for all those titles on your Wish List? Please share. 

Photo Credit:  copyright c Susan J. Reinhardt 1/31/2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Contracts/Blog/Censorship/Devo/Cover Design

1.  Signing a publishing contract is a serious matter. Susan Spann guest posts at Writers in The Storm and talks about, "When Is a Book Out of Print." Knowing this information can mean the difference between getting your rights back or being stuck in a never-ending contract. This applies to both traditional and self-publishing contracts.

2.  Elaine Stock's blog has long been a favorite. She recently announced that Everyone's Story has moved to  

3.  I was particularly interested in this WND article on Costco's pulling of Dinesh De-souza's book, America - Imagine The World Without Her. People were outraged and expressed it. I wrote to Costco and gave them my opinion. Only when 17,000 Costco members went on the retail giant's website and put a picture of themselves cutting up their Costco cards did they sit up and take notice.

4.  Susan Panzica at Eternity Cafe, did a post for the New Year that I thought had great value. Forget it! or Remember? I apologize this is so late, but it got lost among my emails. By the way, Susan has a wonderful Christmas Book out called, "Mary Had A Little Lamb."

5.  I came across this article on Facebook. Cover design is crucial to the success of your book. Check it out.

Writers:  If you've had a book traditionally or Indie published, how were you involved with the cover selection?

Readers: What kind of impact does the book cover have on your choice whether or not to buy a title?

Photo Credit:  Michelle Seixes

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On My Nightstand - Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard

Kate Adams and Daisy Leacock worked together on a herbal remedy. When Daisy is found dead, Kate can't believe she took her own life. It had to be an accident or something more sinister.

Tom Parker, a former FBI Agent, comes back to Port Aster. An old friend offers him a job on the police force. When Kate demands he investigate Daisy's death, he runs the risk of losing his job - and his heart.

The author kept the tension going and the pages turning. The list of suspects grew, and I didn't figure out who the culprit was until the grand finale. At times there were too many questions and not enough answers, but overall the book scratched my reader itch.

Pick this one up, and you'll be glued to your favorite reading chair. Rating: 4 Stars

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested this review. All opinions expressed, as usual, are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you ever attempted a mystery? Please share.

Readers:  Do you like a little romance included with your mysteries? Please share.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Productivity or Adrenaline?

Most of the time, I'm playing Beat the Clock. I run from one task to another, squeezing in the little interruptions that inevitably occur. After weeks, no months, of this activity, a storm brought all of it to a halt.

1.  No shopping.
2.  No errands.
3.  No work.
4.  No waking by the alarm clock.
5.  No deadlines.

Wow! Now, I can get all those things done around the house. My head buzzed with all the possibilities:

1.  Write a ton of blog posts.
2.  Cook - something I rarely do.
3.  Deep clean my house.
4.  Clean out a closet.
5.  Send out a newsletter.

Some of those items got accomplished. The adrenaline pumped as I zipped from one job to another, checking things off my to-do list. Then, a funny thing happened: my get-up-and-go deserted me.

As I got quiet and prayed, the desire to rest and re-charge came to the forefront. I'd exchanged one form of crazy schedule for another. I grabbed my Kindle and lounged on the couch, all the while feeling a bit guilty. Two hours later, I got up. The pleasure of doing something I loved restored my energy.

There's a difference between productivity and living off adrenaline. One leaves you with a sense of accomplishment, while the other drives you to exhaustion. Could this be a secret of time management?

In an age of time-saving gadgets, we're deluded into thinking we can do it all. We can't. Our spirit, soul, and body all need quiet times, fun times, and kick-back-and-relax times. Hopefully, I won't forget this revelation and go back to my insane schedule.

Writers and readers: What are your thoughts on productivity versus adrenaline-induced activity?

Photo Credit:  Jonathan Naundrup

Friday, February 12, 2016

Synopsis/Praying Writers/Candace Cameron Bure/Recipe/Anxiety

1.  A synopsis challenges most writers, and I'm no exception. Donna L. H. Smith wrote a good article on what should be included in this piece and how to format it.

2.  The Writer's Alley posted on, "Praying The Bible for Writers." It will encourage and warm your heart.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that Candace Cameron Bure was named, "Celebrity of the Year," by Fox411. As a Christian, she's taken a lot of heat for her beliefs and stood fast. The honor is well deserved.

4.  Here's a great roasted winter veggie recipe from Ina Garten, at the Food Network.

5.  Dr. Mary Ann Diorio asks, "Are You Anxious About the Future?"

Writers:  What Bible verses speak to you, as a writer?

Readers:  Do you read books by celebrities? If so, please share some of your favorites.

Photo Credit: Bern Altman

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New-to-Me Author - Reclaiming Brynn by Susan Crawford

Brynn Harper never dreams that her job working with Nicole, a young woman fighting substance abuse, will reconnect her with someone from the past. She's become adept at burying the hurt.

Garrett Davis messed up his life big time by getting in with the wrong crowd. It cost him everything - his family and his relationship with Brynn. He gets his life together and finds purpose in helping others.

Susan Crawford is a new-to-me author I met on Facebook. I picked up her book even though I don't usually go for romance minus a suspense or historical context.

Reclaiming Brynn held my interest, and I liked both main characters. She did a good job making them realistic. The plot, setting, and supporting characters were well done.

Overall, I'd give Reclaiming Brynn four stars. If you like sweet romances with a faith thread, this is worth picking up. I'll definitely look for more of the author's books and hope she'll write some longer novels.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested this review. I didn't receive any compensation, and, as always, all opinions expressed are mine alone.

Writers:  If you write fiction, do you prefer doing novellas or full-length novels? Why?

Readers:  What are your thoughts regarding novellas and full-length novels? Which do you prefer - a short, quick read or a longer, more detailed story? Please share.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Blizzard of Kindness

After a mild December and part of January, the infamous Blizzard of 2016 dumped 30 inches of snow where I live. Old Man Winter sure had the last laugh on us that day. It's like he stored all the snow and then dumped it on us at one time.

Baltimore and New York shut down, not allowing anyone to enter their borders. Philadelphia stopped its trains and buses. Snow plows barreled down highway, trying to keep the roads clear.

Yet, good things happened as well. Kids scaled snow mountains and slid down them. Neighbors came to the rescue of those who couldn't do their own shoveling. People were nice to each other.

Sometimes writers and authors encounter those who put us down, question our abilities, belittle our stories, and wound with their Frankenstein edits. Some will complain if they have to pay anything for an ebook. They are the blizzards of the writing life that leave us frozen and unable to move forward.

Thankfully, the majority of the writing community helps others the way those neighbors came to the aid of their fellow man. When we need someone to give an opinion on a book cover, point us to a resource, critique our work, or teach us what they've learned over the years, they share their knowledge.

I'm grateful for the authors and writers in my life:

1.  The friends who critique my work and pray for me.
2.  Those who gave me one of their book proposals, so I could use it as a template.
3.  All the bloggers who invite others to guest post, be interviewed, or highlight a new release.
4.  My agent's assistant, who teaches me about Social Media marketing and guides me through the maze of publishing.
5.  Established authors who made introductions to the powers-that-be in the publishing industry and gave endorsements.

Part of the writing community that are unsung heroes are our readers. They reach out and:

1.  Review our books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and other outlets.
2.  Share our blog posts, Facebook updates, and Tweets.
3.  Tell their friends about the great book they read.
4.  Encourage us with their enthusiasm and appetite for more of our work.
5.  Snap up our new releases and older titles.

Writers and Readers: Who are the heroes in your life? How do you express your gratitude?

Photo Credit: Copyright c Susan J. Reinhardt 1/24/16

Friday, February 5, 2016

De-Clutter/Novel Opening/Love/Freedom/Hope

1. I found an article on My Love of Words about de-cluttering that piqued my curiosity. What's the one thing you're doing that's making it harder than it should be to part with "stuff?"

2.  Multi-published author, Jody Hedlund, talks about the importance of crafting a great opening to your novel.

3.  Bruce Brady posts at The Write Conversation on the subject of, "Write With Love." Since February is Valentine's month, I thought I'd share this with you. :)

4.  Christian Headlines reports that a doctor has lost his privileges at a hospital due to his values. Freedom of speech and religion are increasingly at risk. Check out this article.

5.  Marja Meijers, at Fresh Insights On Ancient Truths, talks about "HOPE."

Writers:  What is the hardest part of writing a dynamite opening for your fiction or non-fiction pieces?

Readers:  Do you have any techniques that help with de-cluttering? Please share. I could use some!

Photo Credit: ibon san martin

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On My Nightstand - The Master's Calling by Amber Schamel

Malon Ben-Tyrus is now an adult and desires freedom from the tyranny of Rome. He's sure Jesus will take his rightful place as ruler. When things don't work out the way he expects, he's devastated. His disappointment is compounded by other troubles, and he wonders if he and his family will survive.

This is the final book in Amber's Series. To get the most out of this novel, you'll want to read the others first. They're all good, but The Master's Calling was my favorite.

The author kept the pace moving along. Each character was well-defined, and I cared about Malon. As in the other books in this series, Amber's setting put me in the story.

The Master's Calling gets a rating of 5 stars.

Writers:  Research is a key part of writing a novel. What resources do you use for your settings or historical details?

Readers: Do you enjoy Biblical Fiction? What are some of the titles you've read?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Newbie Corner - What Is Head-Hopping?

Yeah, the term produces some interesting mental images. Think about it in terms of jumping from one character's thoughts to another character's thoughts in the middle of a scene

There needs to be a clear distinction between each character. Open a novel and watch for those separators that say, "You're now in Character A's head." Why is this so important? If a reader has to stop and figure out who's thinking, it takes them out of the story, slows the action, and makes reading a chore instead of a pleasure.

What does head-hopping look like?

Example:  Lindy leaned forward, her chin resting on her hand. Mike knew how to coach kids and bring out their full potential. Her heart did a little flip when he turned and waved. What a hunk.

After practice, he walked over to her and sat down. "Hey, I didn't think you'd be able to get here today. Would you like to go for a burger or something?"

She'd go almost anywhere with Mike. Those blue eyes made the sky dull in comparison. "Sure. You must be starving by now."

Wow, he couldn't believe how God blessed him with such a beautiful girlfriend. Her beauty appealed to him even more because of her kindness and the effort she made to support him.

THERE IT IS:  The last paragraph switches from her thoughts to his thoughts in the same scene.

How do we correct that scene?

Take out the last paragraph and substitute:

He stood and reached for her hand. "Yeah, the kids gave me a workout today. Let's go to the Burger Shack. I got paid today, so I'll buy you one of those banana splits you love."

Maybe it was silly, but his thoughtfulness always made her go weak in the knees.

Note: He's interacting with her, but we're anchored in her thoughts. It takes some practice to stay focused,  but it will become easier as time goes by. One of the benefits of reading well-written books is seeing how an author "does it right."

Writers: Is head-hopping a difficult concept for you? Please share your experience.

Readers: Have you ever read a story and had to go back over a sentence to figure out who was thinking/talking? What effect did it have on your reading experience?

Photo Credit:  Claudio Guzman