Monday, October 16, 2017

How To Promote Without Being Obnoxious


We've all seen it:

1.  The author who turns their website or blog into a giant advertisement.

2.  A social media post for their book every waking minute of the day.

3.  Conversations somehow include the title of their newest book.

Advertisers are getting the message about soft selling their products. They engage a viewer/reader with a story and characters that make us laugh, show rather than tell the advantages of an item, and hold our attention.

While some writers avoid all mention of their work, the fact remains: marketing is necessary to make people aware of our offerings. How do we accomplish this without alienating the folks we want to reach?

1.  Name recognition is an important factor. By participating on social media, people are getting to know you as a person.

2.  Back in the day, I followed the local baseball team. One of the things that made the games exciting was knowing about the individual players, their families, and their careers. The same is true for writers. People like to know how we started this journey and what influenced us.

3.  Along with number two above, readers want to be able to relate to authors. They want to know we care about them as individuals and not a cha-ching of the cash register.

Be friendly, be nice, and be real!

Writers:  What are some of the ways you promote your books?

Readers:  What do you want to know about your favorite authors and writers?

Photo Credit:  Jamie Harris

Friday, October 13, 2017

Journaling/Obstacle?/Pro-Life/Writer Quote/Recipes


1.  Positive Writer continues with a post on Creative Journaling. It's geared toward novel writers, but I can see how it would be valuable to non-fiction writers. Readers: How about experimenting with this to help you write book reviews or just for fun?

2.  As writers, we've come up against detours toward publication. Kathryn Craft guest blogs at Writers in The Storm and examines the question, "Obstacle or Opportunity." It made me look at some non-writing offers in a different way.

3.   Missouri's governor recently signed a sweeping pro-life bill into law. One feature is that pregnancy centers will not be forced to counsel about abortion. Read the entire article at Christian Headlines.

4.   Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, posted a Nathaniel Hawthorne quote for writers.

5.  Do you want some new recipes for the holidays? Why not give some of these a test run? Check out My Incredible Recipes.

Writers:  How do you handle opportunities that may not fit into your writer goals at this time, but could reap dividends down the road?


Readers:  What did you think of the quote for writers? Do you agree or disagree?

Photo Credit:  Justine FG

Monday, October 9, 2017

On My Kindle - Whitewashed by Amy C. Blake


Patience McDonough's plans for a perfect summer at Verity College get off to a rocky start and go downhill from there. She turned down full scholarships to Ivy League colleges because of a decision she made as a child.

She's dismayed not only at the emphasis on the sports program, but also on her grandfather's obsession with getting rid of the college president. Her work assignment turns into a nightmare as strange happenings crowd her days.

Although her name is, "Patience," she struggles to exhibit that trait. Yet, it's evident she desires to do the right thing and please God. Will her lack of patience be her downfall or will mercy and grace pull her out of a truly scary situation?

Amy C. Blake is a new-to-me author. The book started off a bit slow for me but soon picked up the pace. The unfolding mystery and potential love interest kept me engaged. A few red herrings made me wonder if I had the right villains nailed. She pulled off an exciting climax and a satisfying ending.

This book is suitable for the YA crowd, as well  as adults. I'm giving Whitewashed 5 Stars for story content and 4 for execution.

Disclaimer:  I received this book as part of a free promotion on Amazon. Neither the author nor the publisher gave this reviewer any remuneration for a favorable score. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you ever focused on a character's struggle with a negative trait such as impatience? Please share.


Readers:  Have you read any YA (young adult) books? Do they interest you or do you find them too simple for your tastes?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Journaling/Marketing/Shocking Proposal/Impossibilities/Purple


1.  Nicole Gulotta, at Positive Writer, talks about 5 Very Effective Journaling Methods. If you've journaled in the past but stalled out, you might find her suggestions helpful.

2.  Marketing is a key part of an author's job these days. Zoe M. McCarthy shares some of the things she did to prepare for her first book launch and what she's doing for the second book.

3.  Newsmax reports on a Chicago professor's shocking proposal: Kill Deformed Newborns. Is it really so surprising this step from abortion to infanticide?

4.  Adelee Russell, at Rewritten, talks about God making a way when it seems impossible.

5.  I have a love for the color purple. I'm drawn to clothing, decor, and flowers in its various hues. Susan, at Writing Straight From the Heart, talked about her father's lavender irises. By the way, she has some really fun blog links on her sidebar.

Writers:  Do you journal? How do you go about it?

Readers:  What's your favorite color? Do you use it for clothing, decor, and plants? Please share.

Photo Credit:  vada0214

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Writer's Handbag

I tried. Really. Downsizing a purse is akin to squeezing my feet into size five shoes. Perhaps you'll have a bit of sympathy after you hear my story.

Once upon a time, yours truly threw out her back - that nasty sciatic nerve thingy. My chiropractor lifted my handbag and glared at me. "This is part of your problem." While my back cried for relief, my mind screamed, "Nooooo, not my purse!"

Many of my friends carry something the size of a credit card, but not me. Where would I put my driving glasses, reading glasses, the extra pairs of said glasses, my wallet (which qualifies as a mini purse by itself), my car and house keys, the extra set of each, assorted aspirin, cough drops, hard candy (for that dry throat), tissues, my smartphone, my digital camera (yes, I still use one), my Kindle, my notebook for church, and an assortment of odds and ends that would fill this page. Whew! Let me catch my breath.

Around Christmas, Sweetie Mom and I trekked through the mall, using her walker to carry our heavy purses. This worked great until I needed to go shopping for her Christmas gifts. Without the walker, that 15-pound monster threatened to double me over.

A brilliant idea struck me at that moment (did you hear the angels singing?). Carry a lighter version and put the remainder of the items in another bag. The tote could stay in the trunk when the contents weren't required, and the essentials could stay with me.

What I didn't count on was the tote bag acting like a bigger closet or an extra room in a house. More space? Fill it up. An umbrella, a sweater, a paperback book, a water bottle, an extra pair of shoes...you get the picture.

The recent addition of a tablet (the computer kind) now rests in the tote bag. If one of my characters gets chatty, I can whip it out and jot some notes.

I'm now lugging around a purse AND a tote bag (because I need everything in it). What's a girl to do?

Writing Gals:  Do you carry around more writing gadgets, etc. since you started on this journey?

Reader Gals:  Do you carry books with you? How do you keep your purse from becoming your home away from home? I need serious help here.


Hat tip to my blogger buddy, Rhonda Schrock, who adds a whole other dimension to this issue with a husband an four sons. Check out her post.

Photo Credit:  Brano Hudak

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mystery/Facebook/Creation Scientist/Devo/Recipe


1.  Heather Webb guest posts at Writer Unboxed. How do you keep someone reading? She says, "Every good book is a mystery even when it's not."

2.  Do you need suggestions on how to optimize your time on Facebook? Kathleen Gage talks about engagement and how to develop a following.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports the National Park Service has reversed its decision and will allow a creation scientist to study the Grand Canyon.

4.  Rhonda Rhea, at The Write Conversation, shares her thoughts on "Unforgetting." Yeah, that grabbed my attention as well.

5.  I saw this recipe for Chocolate Brownie Cake. You KNOW I had to share it. Enjoy!

Writers:  How much time do you spend on Facebook or other social media platforms? Do you have a plan or just wing it? Please share your thoughts.


Readers:  What was your favorite link this week and why?

Photo Credit:  Melodi2

Monday, September 25, 2017

On My Kindle - Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery


Brooke's dream of becoming a news anchor is a step away from fulfillment. So, why isn't she turning cartwheels? When her sister, Aubrey, begs her to go on a mission's trip to El Salvador, she envisions all kinds of disasters.

Ubaldo agrees to translate for another American mission's team. Past experiences have left him skeptical of their motives. They'll probably make promises they won't keep and break the orphans' hearts.

I can't say enough good things about this book. Jennifer Slattery is a new-to-me author, and I'm so glad I finally read one of her stories. Her skill drew me into the  lives of Brooke, Ubaldo, and the orphans. Their hopes for the future, fears, and growth as people inspired me.

Five Stars all the way!

Disclaimer: I can't recall how I got this book. I believe it was a freebie. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me to give a review. The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  This book managed to capture me and turn off any internal editor. When was the last time you read a book for pure enjoyment? Title/Author? I'd love to hear about it.

Readers:  Do you enjoy books that take place in another country? What are some of your favorite titles?


Friday, September 22, 2017

Foil in Fiction/Permissions/Pro-Life/Tree Lessons/Boredom



1.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about a foil in fiction - a character who emphasizes the protagonist's qualities. Check out this excellent article.

2.  Jane Friedman talks about Permissions and Fair Use. When is it okay to directly quote, excerpt, or reproduce someone else's work in your own writing?

3. Christian Headlines reports that the Oregon State House killed a bill that would have allowed mentally ill patients to be dehydrated and starved to death. Fortunately, strong pro-life members fought it and won. When we dehumanize the unborn, that attitude will extend to other "inconvenient" people like those with disabilities and the elderly.

4. Lynn Simpson shares the lessons of trees in a recent blog post. What a great analogy!

5. It's midsummer, and the excitement of summer break is wearing thin for both parents and kids. Here are some suggestions to fight boredom compliments of Wiki-How.

Writers:  Have you used a secondary character to highlight the good points of your protagonist? Please share.

Readers:  What are some activities you use to combat your kids'/grandkids' boredom?

Photo Credit:  Eric Pseja


Monday, September 18, 2017

I'm Back!


Blogging can drain the life out of you. I've had to rethink how I manage this task.

My buddy, Karen Lange, over at Write Now, gave me some wise advice. (Thank you, Karen!)
Instead of three posts per week, I'm cutting back to two. The Monday posts will be a mix of book reviews, writerly thoughts, and some devotionals. I'll continue sharing links on Friday.

What would you like to see here? After all, this blog is about connecting the dots between writers and readers. Now that's a catchy phrase - connecting the dots between writers and readers. I'll be adding it to my header soon.

I'm looking forward to a fresh start.

Writers and Readers:  What changes have you made in your lives to spark your creativity/interests?

Photo Credit:  Janusz Hylinski

Saturday, September 9, 2017

We Interrupt This Blog Break...



I'm guest posting at Elaine Stock's blog from 9/8 - 9/15/17! GIVEAWAY.

God has a plan for us - a good one. I hope you'll stop by and comment.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Dual Timeframe/Chapters/Former Terrorist/Defeating Fear/Re-Purpose


1.  I saw the phrase, "dual timeframe book," the other day. I did a search and found this article by K. M. Weiland. It's a technique I've seen in a few books and thought you might want to give it a try.

2.  Greer Macallister guest posts at Writers in the Storm on, "The Art of Chapter." She gives spot-on advice regarding length, powerful opening sentences, and the need for mini-closure for the reader.

3.  Julianne Hale wrote a novel based on the real-life transformation of a former terrorist. This is a perfect example of how fiction can impact and inform readers. Check out this article at Christian Headlines.

4.  Lynn J. Simpson posted, "The Call - Part 2 - The Present." It spoke to my heart.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From the Heart, talks about new uses for old things. Hmm, what can I do with some of the stuff I have around my house?

Writers:  How do manage your chapters? Do you have a particular plan you follow?

Readers:  Have you ever re-purposed an item in your house? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On My Nightstand - Come to the Table by Neta Jackson


Come to the Table is the second book in Neta Jackson's new SouledOut Sisters series. She introduces new characters to the cast from her previous books.

Kathryn "Kat" Davies and her friend, Nick, are the focus of this book. Both get involved in SouledOut Community Church. Nick is doing his internship as a pastor, while Kat desires to feed the hungry.

I always enjoy Neta's characters. They're so realistic you almost want to visit their Chicago neighborhood and pop in for a cup of tea and a friendly chat. The love story adds a sweet touch to their growth as believers.

Five stars for Come to the Table. If you like character-driven novels, you'll love all her books.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid for a favorable review. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you make your characters unique and interesting?

Readers:  Do you like books with a large cast of characters or do you find it confusing? Please share.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Fun


Unlike last year, I'm enjoying the summer. My flowers provide a splash of color, making me smile every time I look at them. Neighbors hang out on their porches or in their backyards and chat. Being outdoors is the order of the day.

My heart simply wants to drink in the beauty of God's creation and share the lives of the people I love. I need to regroup and be refreshed. After the post on July 28th, I'll be taking a break until Monday, September 18, 2017.

Have a wonderful summer!

Writers and Readers:  What are you doing for fun this summer?

Photo Credit:  Aki_fukaki




Friday, July 21, 2017

Settings/Parallelism/Prayer/The Call/Glass Blowing


1.  Creating settings challenge me. When I saw this article at Writers in the Storm, I jumped on it. Tasha Seegmiller gives some excellent advice.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about Faulty Parallelism. Yes, that's a mouthful, but it's simple to fix.

3.  Breaking Christian Headlines ran an article on Science and Prayer by Dr. Don Colbert. Did you know that folks who pray for as little as 30 seconds a day, acknowledging God and giving thanks for their blessings see a powerful effect on their mind, body, and spirit?

4.  Lynn Simpson shares The Call on her life and relates it to Abraham. I especially liked the part about Abraham being 75 years old at the time God told him to leave his country and all he knew.

5.  A post at Colonial Quills caught my attention because my cousin is a glass artist. Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor shared, "The Art of Glass Blowing at the Jamestown Colony." If you're a history buff, you'll enjoy this fascinating story.

Writers:  What part of writing is difficult for you? Setting? Characterization? Dialogue or some other facet?

Readers:  What effects has prayer had on your physical body?

Photo Credit:  Wrhoana R.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On My Nightstand - The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren


Noelle and Eli Hueston deal with their grief and lose their relationship in the process. An accident causes her to lose all memories of the last 25 years. She struggles to relate to the man and the children that say she's their wife and mother.

Eli sees this as an opportunity to repair their marriage and be the kind of husband Noelle needs. As she discovers pieces of the past, will it destroy their new beginning or will they deal with the problems the right way - together?

Susan May Warren once again nails the story. She's not one to offer platitudes or gloss over problems. The situations are real-life, and I could relate to the characters' struggles.

This is a Deep Haven novel and well worth your time and money. 5 Stars!

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Do you tackle difficult relationship issues in your writing? Please share.

Readers:  What is your opinion of Christian Fiction? Do you relate to the various themes? Please share.




Monday, July 17, 2017

Ebooks vs. Print - Fast Food or Fine Dining?


Sweetie Mom and I grab our purses and fly out the door when an opportunity to eat out comes along. To a great extent, our level of enthusiasm depends on where we're going. Friday night means Wendy's. We've become regulars, and the staff knows us. It's fun when they plug in my name for the order without asking who I am.

A special dining experience for a birthday, Mother's Day, or to use a gift card (love gift cards!) results in discussions on what to wear, as well as what to eat. Certain restaurants have menu items that make us salivate thinking about them. I'm not a fan of sweet potatoes, but drowning a baked one in honey butter and maple syrup makes me swoon.

Reading an ebook or a print book are like selecting between fast food or casual/fine dining. Lately, I've been reading a lot of books on my Kindle Paperwhite. The last two books I've read, however, are print versions. Here are some of the pros and cons of each:

1.  Fast food places don't require a lot of thought, while other restaurants take more planning. A print book takes up a lot of space, while you can carry around hundreds of books in a Kindle or other e-reader.

2.  Seeing the percentage finished in an ebook doesn't give the same perception as looking where your bookmark sits in a print version. Like fast food, there isn't the savoring of the overall experience.

3.  With an ebook, I sometimes forget the title and/or author of the book I'm reading because it's not on every page. With a print book, I see the title and author. They become linked with the story in my brain because of the repetition. The ambiance of a more formal restaurant creates a memory not easily forgotten.

4.  When I order an ebook, there's no waiting. Zap! It's in my Kindle in a flash. By the time my print books arrive, I've sometimes forgotten what I ordered. The positive side is the excitement of opening a box of books. Fast food is - fast. When you're hungry and you've got a ton or errands, it's the way to go. Casual/fine dining takes planning and more time.

5.  The cost factor plays a big part in this equation. I can afford a lot more ebooks than print books, and the way I blast through them that's a big deal. Library, you say? Our local library doesn't have the kind of selection I can find online. Fast food restaurants don't cost as much as casual/fine dining. I can go there once a week, but my purse can't handle higher-end eateries that often.

So what do I prefer? I love the whole print book experience. The ebook is an economical and convenient choice. It depends on what I need at any given time.

Writers and Readers:  What are your preferences and why?

Photo Credit:  Susan J. Reinhardt

Friday, July 14, 2017

Description/Blogging/China/Motivation/Dispose


1. Les Edgerton posts at Writers in the Storm about character descriptions and the lack thereof. I'll have to pay closer attention to this when I'm reading a book.

2. Wow! The Write Conversation has a super post on 7 Things to Remember When You Host a Guest on Your Blog. For anyone who blogs, this is a keeper.

3.  Christian Headlines brings us an interesting article on the state of religion in China.

4.  How do you handle disappointment? Andy Lee shares her mother's wisdom on the subject.

5.  Do you want to get rid of some stuff, but don't know how to dispose of it? I discovered this post that will tell you.

Writers:  How do you handle character descriptions in your writing?

Readers:  Do you like detailed character descriptions? Why? Why not?

Photo Credit:  Ned Horton



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On My Nightstand - The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish


Molly Fisk cannot bear to go outside. She views the world from the windows of the wax museum she  and her mother run for a local businessman.

Although she longs to be free from the fears that hold her prisoner, it seems impossible. Even the handsome young man, Tobias, can't break through her fears and coax her outside. One day, a woman arrives at the museum with her family. It's the beginning of a new life for Molly.

Christa's books have a depth that's rare in most fiction. She digs deep into her characters' innermost thoughts and motivations. I ached for the terrified little girl, closed off from the world around her. I grieved with the woman, who filled her life with crossword puzzles and avoided love. This story got inside of me.

5 Stars all the way. This book and any of Christa Parrish's books are highly recommended.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you get inside your characters' hearts and heads?

Readers:  What's more important to you: characters or story? Or both? Please share.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Built-In or Add-Ons?


Houses that have built-in bookcases or cabinets attract me. They're a permanent part of the architecture. Sure you can add on these things with free-standing items, but there's something special about the seamless construction of built-in units.

We're a lot like houses. God builds into each person certain gifts, so they can fulfill their purpose in life. They're not add-ons or after thoughts. No, they are original construction and essential to the structure. Whether or not we discover our purpose or use those gifts properly, they are part of us.

We recently had a special speaker at church. He'd done numerous things in life, but he always ended up teaching others. He pointed out God put leadership within Joseph. He had charge of Potipher's household, then the prison, and finally the entire nation of Egypt. No matter what you do or where you go, your gifts will help point you to your purpose.

Gifts are not your purpose but rather the equipment to fulfill your destiny. Joseph didn't learn how to lead, it was part of him. Yes, he still had to do the work, but it brought satisfaction and joy.

Throughout my life, writing and teaching have popped up wherever I go. Operating in God's purpose has never been easy. The enemy of our souls will do everything to stop us from succeeding. Paul often became discouraged, but he was following God's plan for his life.

Whether you're a writer or a reader, ask God to show you His plans and purpose. Are you a whiz at organization? Are you an encourager? Does writing seem as important as breathing? He wants you to know why He gave you these gifts.

Writers and Readers:  What are some of the gifts God has built into you?

Photo Credit:  Iraine

Special thanks to Pastor Noel Willis for inspiring this post.






Friday, July 7, 2017

Writing a Book/Excuses/Abortion Ban Upheld/Fear/Summer Decor


1.  I hear so many people say they want to write a book someday. Jerry Jenkins (of the Left Behind Series fame) tells us how to write a book in 20 steps. So, what are you waiting for?

2.  While looking at the previous article, I spotted this one: 7 Really Bad Excuses for Putting Off Writing Your Book. I think there's a theme in this week's links. Perhaps someone out there is struggling.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on Iowa's 20-week abortion ban being upheld by the court.

4.  Beth K. Vogt posts at The Write Conversation on "Lose the Fear." For anyone with a creative bent, whether writing or some other area, fear can kill our dreams.

5.  Better Homes and Gardens has a slide show with tips on how to brighten your house for summer. Even if you don't use their exact ideas, it might jumpstart your own creative juices.

Writers:  If I had a dollar for everyone who told me they wanted to write a book someday, I might not be a millionaire but I'd sure have plenty in my piggy bank. Are you a "someday" person or have people said this to you?

Readers:  Do you love writing, photography, painting, or some other creative activity? Are you pursuing it or putting it off into the future? Please share.


Photo Credit:  Kia Abell

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

On My Kindle - Swept Into Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield


Maggie Gatlan, the quintessential southern belle, meets Ben McConnell, an Irish immigrant. She's fascinated by his view of life and loyalty.

When the Civil War breaks out, Ben fights for the Union. Maggie's people hold fast to the standard of the Confederacy. After the war, will they be able to find common ground?

This intricate story had a strong spiritual theme running throughout, as well as some thoughtful ideas regarding unity versus division. The parallel to what's going on today in the U.S. is worth noting.

I would have liked the villain to have even one redeeming quality, maybe even a change of heart toward the end. He seemed devoid of any humanity or caring.

I'm giving this book 5 Stars for story content.

Disclaimer:  The author provided an ARC for my unbiased review. All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you keep your characters from being totally good or totally evil?

Readers:  Do you enjoy stories set in the Civil War era? What's one of your favorites?


Monday, July 3, 2017

Newbie Corner - The Writing Pool


When most people begin writing, they have an idea they want to get on paper. Funny stories about their kids, devotionals, stories, news items, promoting others, technical knowledge all serve to set off the writing itch.

Here are some categories of writers:

1. Non-fiction - Whether you write articles, books, or blog, this can relate to ministry subjects, how to do something, biographies, memoir or various other topics pertinent to life.

2. Fiction - Storytellers spin their yarns in various genres. Romance is by far the most popular. Other areas include Amish, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, etc. There are many sub-genres as well such as Historical Romance and Romantic Suspense.

3.  Journalism - Newspapers, TV, radio, the Internet can all be outlets for this type of writing. This type of writing generally focuses on current events.

4.  Freelance - The Freelance Writer can encompass all these categories. I know people who will be working on a devotional one month and a novel the next.

5.  Ghost Writers - These folks write books for other people, many times celebrities or ministry leaders, who lack the time and/or ability to write their own. Depending on their contract, their names may or may not be on the book.

6.  Technical Writers - These folks write textbooks, tests, technical manuals, etc. They usually have expertise in a specific field.

7.  Bloggers - Yes, bloggers are writers. :) They usually write about topics of interest to them. This blog is called, Christian Writer/Reader Connection. I enjoy encouraging writers, reviewing books, and pointing out blog posts that might appeal to both writers and readers. I connect the dots between the writer and the reader. Since I write Christian Fiction, this is the audience I serve.

8.  Advertising Copy - With the demands of running a business, many people turn to writers who specialize in this area. A friend writes blog posts and handles social media interaction for a neighborhood store. There are also writers who work for big ad agencies and write commercials/advertising copy for TV, magazines, and radio.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but will give you a skeleton to identify your interests. I recommend searching these categories on the Internet.

Writers:  What is your writing specialty?

Readers:  Have you considered dipping your toe into the writing pool?

Photo Credit:  Joanie Cahill

Friday, June 30, 2017

Wordiness/Workout Writer/Adoption/Motivation/Summer Fun


1.  Is your writing plagued by wordiness? Zoe M. McCarthy gives concrete examples of how to correct this, but also shows times when it's appropriate.

2.  Katherine Magendie guest posts at Writer Unboxed about the Workout Writer:  Perceived Weakness. Warning: This is not a Christian site, and there is some mild language. However, the advice was so good that I decided to include the link here.

3.  I'm a big supporter of adoption. When I was younger, I considered single-parent adoption, but it wasn't as common or easy as it is today. When my husband and I married, we looked into adoption, but our combined ages ended our hopes.

Breaking Christian News shares the heartwarming story of seven siblings adopted from foster care by a Georgia couple. It brought a smile to my face, and I hope it blesses you as well.

4. Fellow-blogger, Dena Netherton, wrote a post on Slugs and Motivation. I'm pressing on. How about you?

5.  I came across this list of 50 Fun Summer Activities on Real Simple. Picking berries attracted me right away. I'll have to see if there are any berry farms in my neck of the woods.

Writers:  Do you allow your perceived writing weaknesses to stifle the creative flow? How do you overcome negative self-talk?

Readers:  What fun activities are you planning for the summer besides reading?  :)

Photo Credit:  William Stadler


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

On My Kindle - Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky



Marnie Wittier's tough exterior hides a broken heart and a belief that she's unworthy of love. When she meets Taylor Cole, she's wary of his kindness. He ignites a glimmer of hope in her, but everything comes to a halt when she makes a mistake that will cause even Taylor to reject her. Her solution: run.

Marlo Schalesky is a new-to-me author. This book grabbed my attention and never let go. Normally, flashbacks irritate me, but the ones in this story worked well. I thought I'd figured out the mystery, but she threw in a curve at the end which caught me off guard.

Five stars for this heartwarming story of redemption.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Do you use flashbacks in your writing? Why or why not?


Readers:  How do you feel about flashbacks? 

Monday, June 26, 2017

To Write or Not to Write - That's the Question


Need doesn't equal assignment.

It's something I'm learning daily as opportunities present themselves. If I'm to accomplish what God called me to do, what I take on must fit into the time available and have the green light from Him.

When people learn I'm an author, they'll sometimes ask me to write their stories or articles. Of course, they want this done free of charge. I'll either encourage them to write it themselves or steer them to people who freelance.

Writing a book requires an enormous effort:

1.  Research
2.  Meetings with the individual.
3.  Time
4.  Getting the person's voice on paper.
5.  Editing

While I may empathize with a person or situation or passionately believe in a cause, I rarely take on anything extra. Here are some considerations:

1.  I hold down a demanding, full-time position.
2.  My Mom needs more help as she gets older.
3.  I'm writing, promoting, and seeking publication of my latest book.
4.  Church involvement, including administration of their blog, takes a chunk of time.
5.  The daily chores of life must get done, i.e., laundry, shopping, cleaning. Somewhere in there, it's nice to get some sleep and leisure time.

Perhaps God wants you to take on an assignment. The peace of God will be in your heart, and you'll have the grace to see it through to completion. Otherwise, be honest and tell people you're not the right person for the job.

Writers:  How do you determine what projects to accept or reject?

Readers:  Have you given thought to the work that goes into that 350-page novel or non-fiction book? Please share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Channah

Friday, June 23, 2017

Short Story/Compelling Stories/Down Syndrome/In God's Way/Decorating Styles



1. Crafting a short story can be more challenging than writing a full-length novel. Zoe M. McCarthy gives writers tips on how to write a great one.

2. Chad Allen gives three tips for writing compelling stories. Are your stories "filmable?" This is an excellent article.

3. Breaking Christian News gives shocking statistics on babies with Down Syndrome being aborted.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, shares how she learned how saying, "Yes," can stand in the way of God.


5.  The gal at Desert Cottage loves vintage decor. Others like shabby chic, contemporary with clean lines, traditional, and too many to name. While I can appreciate many styles, I love traditional with a dash of country. What's your favorite decorating style?

Writers: Which one of Chad Allen's tips helped you the most?

Readers:  How do you decide when to say, "Yes," and when to say, "No?"

Photo Credit:  Gurkan Kurt


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On My Kindle - A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter


Lady Miranda Hawthorne chafes under society's rules for a lady but tries to follow them. She vents her frustrations by writing letters she'll never send to her brother's friend, the Duke of Marshington.

Ryland Montgomery, a spy for the British Crown, takes the position of valet for Griffith Hawthorne, the Duke of Riverton, a.k.a., Lady Miranda's brother. When he comes across one of her letters and posts it, Lady Miranda is sure her chances of making a suitable match are over.

Loved, loved, loved this book. If you're a fan of Regency Romances, pick this one up. The author has several books in this series, and I plan to get them. Her characters and writing style made me smile, laugh, and sometimes horrify me by their antics.

This book gets 5 Stars - all well deserved.

Writers:  How do you raise the stakes for your characters? Do you put them into impossible situations? Please share.

Readers:  When you read an enjoyable book, do you search to see if it's part of a series? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Striving or Contentment?


"I can't wait until I grow up and can do what I want." That line always made my parents laugh and roll their eyes. Why is it we think if we reach a certain age or achieve some goal that our lives will be perfect?

It's wise to have plans and move toward them. Yet chasing a dream won't satisfy the longings of a heart. It might provide a measure of happiness for a time, but the effects are temporary and often hollow.

As a writer, I thought if I could just get an agent and get my books published, I'd have it made. Yeah, the authors out there are having the same reaction my parents had to my declaration. With an agent and four books published, I can tell you it's a carrot on a stick that keeps moving out of reach.

I'm not downplaying the satisfaction of reaching success. However, writing doesn't define who I am. It's something I do that hopefully provides insights and touches the reader at a deep level.

It's easy to forget some basic things:

1.  God loves me whether or not my books get published.

2.  Loving and reaching out to others helps keep my perspective God-centered.

3.  Any creativity I have is a gift from Him.

As I wait on this plateau where nothing seems to be happening, I trust that He's working behind the scenes. I'm not where I want to be, but it's a good place. There's time for reflection and enjoyment of the simple blessings. And, yes, I can wait.


Writers and Readers:  How do you remain at peace while pursuing your plans?

Photo Credit:  Alex Bruda

Friday, June 16, 2017

Myths and Truths/Opening Scene/Modern-Day Joseph of Arimathea/Devo/Visual Inspiration

1.  Parul MacDonald guest posts at Writer Unboxed. While she works primarily in the general market, I think her advice is sound on what an editor at a publishing house looks for when reviewing a submission.

2.  Another general market site is Jane Friedman's informative blog. Hallie Ephron guest posts and teaches on the importance of a strong opening scene. I'm going to read this one more than once.

3.  Breaking Christian News shares the story of a woman called, "a modern-day Joseph of Arimathea." The original Joseph claimed Jesus' body after the crucifixion and buried it in his own tomb. You won't want to miss this touching story.

4.  Marja Meijers continues her devotional trip through the alphabet with the letter, "U."

5.  I popped over the Thrifty Style at 68. The pictures immediately set off a train of thought on how they inspire me. Perhaps the third snapshot of a bedroom could help furnish my heroine's boudoir. Another might trigger a blog post. Check it out.

Writers: Reading a strong opening scene, as well as pictures on sites like Pinterest, inspire me. What inspires you?


Readers:  Do you read the first page of a book before plunking down your dollars and cents? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Ramel Gamboa Sanchez

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

On My Kindle - Where There's Smoke by Susan May Warren


Blazin' Kate Burns continues the smoke-jumping, fire-fighting legacy of her father, Jock. Some view her exploits as heroic, while others think she's reckless. Will she be forced to choose between her two great loves?

Jed Ramsom, her father's protégé, takes less risks and tries to instill a more conservative approach to fighting fires. He's torn between his love for Kate and his fear she'll get killed.

This is the first book in the Montana Fire series by Susan May Warren. She delivers on every front: inspirational, romance, and suspense. Her characters stay with me long after I've finished reading her books. The research is impeccable, and highlights the dangers of this occupation.

5 Stars! Go grab a copy for yourself while the summer is young.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid for this review. All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you give your characters more depth so they appear real?

Readers:  Do you like stories that have an element of danger? Please share.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Don't Panic!


Our IT guys at work have a sign-off on all their emails: Stay Calm and Reboot. When my computer or Smartphone are doing wonky things, I remember this tip. Most of the time, whatever is scrambling the machine's brain is corrected.

Biting your nails, hitting random keys, and flipping out will make the situation worse. This holds true not only for computers and Smartphones, but also for writing and life. My own procedure goes something like this with occasional tweaks:

1.  Stop. Banish the what-if scenarios and deal with the reality before me. Writers have this wonderful imagination, but it can turn them into first-class worriers. Worry is just another word for fear.

2.  Pray. Ask God for wisdom and direction on how to fix whatever is going wrong. I then trust He will either give me the answer or lead me to someone who can help.

3.  Analyze. If I'm stuck writing a scene, I read the previous paragraph or more, if necessary. Where was I going with this train of thought? While I'm a pantser versus a plotter, I usually know where I want the story to end. Is this scene moving toward that goal?

4.  Research. There's so much advice on the Internet. I look for something that applies to my situation.

5.  Ask. A discussion with a writer friend/critique partner sometimes breaks through the confusion or at least sends me in the right direction.

When my efforts seem at an impasse, re-writing the section in another document can take the focus away from the existing text. When that doesn't work, I shut off the computer and give my brain a rest.

Stay calm and reboot.

Writers:  What actions do you take when you hit a snag? Please share.

Readers:  When you're facing a problem in life, how do you go about solving it?


Photo Credit:  Joonas Lampinen

Friday, June 9, 2017

Spring Social Media/Imagery/Conversions/Devo/Recipe

1.  Molly Jo Realy guest posts at The Write Conversation on how to Green Thumb Your Social Media.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy's blog is a perennial favorite. In this post, she writes about the importance of imagery and how to create strong mental pictures for your reader.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on how a NY Times reporter came across a group of Christians, who converted from Islam.

4.  MaryAnn Diorio asks, "Are you a tongue twister?"

5.  Recipe for a PURPLE cake! How could I pass that up? http://peasandpeonies.com/vanilla-purple-cake-with-lemon-buttercream/

Writers:  Do you have a social media plan? What are some of the things you do to feed your garden?


Readers:  What did you think of today's devotional by MaryAnn Diorio?

Photo Credit:  Sarah Williams

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On My Nightstand - The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann


This is the third book in this trilogy. I strongly urge you not to miss the first two books: A Rush of Wings and The Still of the Night.

Morgan Spencer's success as a corporate turnaround expert is legendary, but he once again experiences tragedy with the death of his wife, Jill. Only their infant daughter, Livie, gives him to will to live.

Quinn Reilly moves to Juniper Falls. Her business as an ebay seller connects her to Morgan's sister-in-law and brother. Soon after they meet, she gets a threatening text from Markham Wilder, a conman she testified against.

Morgan jumps into action to solve her problems, but in a most unconventional way. Can this strange beginning grow into a love match?

As usual, Kristen's characters jump off the page. Their growth, discovery, and tension kept me glued to the pages. As they face many dangers and challenges, their faith grounds them and gives them direction. My only regret is the end of the trilogy. I hope Kristen returns to Juniper Falls someday and picks up the story of this family.

Grab this series and be prepared for hours of reading satisfaction. 5 Stars.

Writers:  Have you ever written a series? Did you consider an encore performance for the characters? Please share.

Readers:  Do you prefer a trilogy or a longer series? Why?


Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Do I Need An Agent? - The Newbie Corner


According to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the word, "access," means:

1.  The ability or right to enter or use.

2.  A way or means of approach.

I'm focusing on these meanings. As an Administrative Assistant, my boss gives me access to all the things I need to perform my job. I have the authority to make certain decisions within his guidelines.

Publishers restrict access to their editors by using agents as gatekeepers. These individuals are viewed as experts and keep the companies from being inundated with substandard work. Literary agents review manuscripts and decide whether or not to represent a writer. They also provide advice, guidance, and act as a liaison between the writer and the publisher.

Some publishers will allow writers to approach their editors via meetings at writers conferences. Agents also meet potential authors at these venues. On an agents' panel, all agreed the primary way they met their clients was at a conference.

There are some small presses that accept non-agented submissions. However, it's important to check them out before jumping aboard. An agent not only finds a home for an author's book, but also knows the business side. They watch out for their clients' best interest when it comes to contract negotiations, settling disputes, etc.

If you dream of being published traditionally, an agent can provide the access needed to get your book to the right people.

Writers:  Are you seeking agent representation? Why or why not?

Readers:  How much does the publisher of a book influence your book-buying decisions? Please share your thoughts

Photo Credit:  Brian Lary

Friday, May 12, 2017

Low-Tech/Pantsers/Judge Alito/Devo/Recipe


1.  Okay, all you writer types out there. Sometimes we get too cerebral and need a dose of humor. Writer Unboxed talks about low-tech tools for writers. Knowing how techy challenged I am, you'll see why I liked this.

2.  Every writer wants to improve their craft, including us pantsers. Lisa Cron guest posts at Writers in the Storm with rare advice for those who aren't plotters.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's speech urging Christians to "evangelize" for religious freedom.

4.  Adelee Russell, at Rewritten, talks about waking up to grace. If you've ever struggled with condemnation, this is a must read.

5.  Would you like to make something special for Mom? Check out Mom's Chocolate Pudding at the Food Network. Rated: Easy

Writers:  Are you techy-challenged or techy-savvy? Please share.

Readers:  Are you making something special for Mother's Day? Please share.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On My Kindle - Wilted Dandelions by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield


Determined, often naive, Rachael Rothburn wants to go west to share the gospel with the Umatilla Indians. Alas, declared a spinster at the ripe old age of 22, the mission board won't entertain her application because they only take married couples.

Dr. Jonathan Wheaton wants to make a name for himself and follow in his grandfather's footsteps. When he learns the pretty Senator's daughter yearns to become a missionary, he approaches her father with a marriage proposal.

Will two proud, insecure people survive the rigors of the trail and someday have a loving marriage?

The author is new to me, but I'd heard positive things about her stories. She did a good job making me care about the characters and grounding me in the setting. I'm giving this story 5 Stars for courage and romance.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review or paid me to write one. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered taking historical situations and creating stories to fit them? Please share.

Readers:  Are you a fan of historical novels set during pioneer times? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, May 8, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout




In my previous Monday post, I shared some of the things I've learned since I started blogging. It's a lot like a marathon when you're blog is part of your writing platform. Here are five ways I

1.  Prayer is always at the top of my list. If my joy level is low on the spiritual front, it will affect every area of my life, including writing.

2.  It's easy to get caught up in the blogging/social media world. I'm interested in so many things and love to read about them. Take time out from the computer screen and live life. Go for a walk, hang out with family/friends (not just the ones on Facebook), read a book, plant a garden, volunteer, play with a child, and whatever else fills your creative reservoir.

3.  Don't stress out. I'm more into prevention than crisis management. If you anticipate a busy time, ask a friend if they'll do a guest post. On a holiday, post a favorite song or writing quotation.

4.  Take regular breaks. Some of my favorite times to take off include Christmas, spring, and summer. Last summer, I took a longer blog vacation because of a broken wrist. When you need to rest, REST. Let your readers know your plans and when you'll return.

5.  Reading does double duty for me. I  not only enjoy a good book, but also review it on my blog. It's one way to get the most out of something I love to do.

Recently, my day job has sapped a lot of my energy. It's time to kick back and relax, so I'm taking one of those blogging breaks starting May 15th. I'll return on June 5th, hopefully refreshed and ready to resume my normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.

Happy Spring!

Writers/Readers: How do you avoid blogger burnout? If you don't blog, how do you keep life in general from overwhelming you?

Photo Credit:  Marcel Hol


Friday, May 5, 2017

Helping Authors/Keep Swimming/Religious Expression/Change/Pottery


1.  As a reader, I often want to purchase a lot of books. Since I'm not independently wealthy, I've had to find other ways to support the authors I enjoy. Inky Girl gives some great tips on how you can help your favorite authors.

2.  Are you struggling with writing? Chad Allen quotes Nemo: "Just keep swimming." Discover 5 Scientifically Verified Benefits to Writing.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on a bill passed by Kentucky to protect religious expression in public schools.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio talks about how to make change our ally.

5.  Do you like pottery? You might be amazed at the items Linda, at A La Carte, found. One of these days I'm going to take a pottery class. There's something about fashioning a plate, vase, or mug that appeals to me. 

Writers and Readers:  Does change make your insides quiver or are you a natural-born risk taker? Why?

Photo Credit:  Jose A. Warletta

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

On My Kindle - The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky



Julia Foster's missionary days in India are interrupted by an illness in her family. She believes with all her heart that she'll return at some point, but takes on the daunting task of caring for Sir William Ramsey's two children, as well as his nieces.

Sir William Ramsey focuses on keeping the family estate amid financial difficulties. As a handsome man with a stellar pedigree, he hopes to make a marriage that will ease his burdens. He never thought he'd be attracted to a former missionary.

This book is the first in the Edwardian Brides series. This book has all the elements I enjoy: a clean romance, characters that undergo a change of heart, mystery, and an element of danger.

The author did a fine job with this book. 5 Stars!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review, and I did not receive any payment for it. All opinions, as usual, are mine and mine alone.

Writers: What kind of elements do you include in your writing to keep the reader's interest?

Readers:  Do you enjoy books set in other countries and in different time periods? If so, what are your favorite settings/historical times?


Monday, May 1, 2017

Blogoversary Month!



Every time May rolls around, I think about those early days of blogging. I never dreamed I'd be doing this for nine years. At first, the thought of staying on a schedule week after week almost sent me running in the opposite direction. How could I ever find enough things to say to writers and readers?

Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1.  Pray for direction and for those who would read the blog.

2.  Be honest about my struggles with the writing life. It's okay not to have it all together. The learning process often has bumps (and sometimes mountains) on the road.

3.  For the sake of sanity, have at least a couple of weeks worth of posts written and scheduled. My preference is six weeks. Why? Life happens - a broken wrist, the illness of a family member, simple exhaustion, church/work/family commitments can all derail your good intentions to keep up with your blog. Oh, and let's not forget about writing deadlines and book launches. (I've done four of those during my blogging years.)

4.  Write about the things that interest your readership. I've seen others turn their blogs into one long advertisement for their books. Boring.

5.  Since my audience is primarily Christian, I strive to encourage blog readers from that perspective.

Are you a blogger/blog reader? What draws you to a blog? If you blog, what are some tips you've found helpful?

Photo Credit:  Maaillustrations

Friday, April 28, 2017

Interview Questions/Freelance Writing/Facebook Bias/Risky Love/Recipe


1.  Have you ever wondered what to ask an author during an interview? Laurel Garver gives 50 Fabulous Questions to Ask an Author.

2.  Do you want to be a freelance writer and work from home? Jean Fischer gives us a peek at what it's like and what's expected.

3.  Breaking Christian News shares a story from CBN about a Christian Mommy Blogger. Facebook apologized for deleting one of her posts, but now she's helping other bloggers deal with the bias against Christian viewpoints.

4.  Amy Menter guests posts at Maria Morgan's blog about The Direction of Love. Is it worth the risk?

5.  Chocolate Almond Biscotti - just saying that phrase makes me want to try making these yummy cookies. (It didn't hurt that the recipe said "Easy.")

Writers:  What are some of your favorite interview questions?

Readers:  What kind of information do you like to know about your favorite authors?

Photo Credit:  Kerem Yucel