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



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On My Kindle - One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon


Claire Summers works hard as a teacher, mom to a precocious 11-year-old daughter, and owner of a house that's falling apart. One benefit to living in her neighborhood is her new friend, Dr. Maureen Chandler. Her daughter's good deed for the cancer survivor impacts their lives beyond her wildest imagination.

Keith Watson's life revolves around work, work, and more work. His early years haunt him and keep him trapped in a prison of his own making. A compassionate boss and a thoughtful little girl change everything.

This new-to-me author created a sweet story with adoption and a spiritual theme intertwined. It's a great spring/summer read, filled with hope and transformation. While I prefer something with either historical or suspense elements, it was a satisfying read.

I'll be checking out more of this author's books. Five stars!


Writers and Readers:  Do you like a quick read or a book that requires a more thoughtful approach? Please share.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Know Your Audience


A friend and I were discussing why some of our favorite retailers have lost our business. We came to the conclusion that they didn't pay attention to what their customers wanted. They changed their marketing strategy and antagonized their most important resource: buyers.

How did they do this? Where I live, there's a strong conservative mindset. We also have many people over the age of 50. It's not that we don't want to buy at that store. The store doesn't have what we want. Seeing racks and racks of extremely short dresses does not attract our attention. Both of the stores we discussed also have rewards programs that leave much to be desired.

While we'd all like to think of writing as a purely creative endeavor, we cannot ignore the business side. My books (The Moses Conspiracy, The Scent of Fear, Out of The Mist, and The Christmas Wish) have strong elements of suspense. It's what my audience expects when they pick up one of my books.

In the Christian market, there are certain constraints, ones I welcome and embrace. Christian publishers have strict guidelines. However, with many writers self-publishing, they can do whatever they want. Yet, if a reader expects a clean story from an author they know and they get a nasty surprise, they'll feel betrayed. They might come back a time or two and check out new titles, but they'll eventually walk away if they're continually disappointed.

There's a struggle between writers and publishers on how much to push against Christian guidelines. I believe the decline in the number of Christian fiction titles has a lot to do with what our audience wants and expects when they pick up a book - a clean story, a strong spiritual thread, and quality writing.

Writers and Readers: What are your thoughts on knowing your audience?

Photo Credit:  Kimberlee Kessler

Friday, April 21, 2017

Backstory/Book Covers/George Washington/Devo/Table Decor


1.  Weaving backstory into your novel is critical to the overall story. Lisa Cron posts at Writers in the Storm and debunks the myth that backstory is unimportant.

2.  Whether you're an Indie or Traditional author, book covers are an important component in marketing your story. Zoe M. McCarthy gives some definitions and guidelines.

3.  Many people say George Washington was a Deist. Breaking Christian News ran an article on why this isn't true. He was a committed Christian.

4.  Henry McLaughlin posts at The Write Conversation on Getting Through the Rough Spots.

5.  Spring! I love this season and found some pretty table decor. Enjoy these slides at House Beautiful.

Writers:  How involved do you get in the book cover design process? Indie authors - where do you get your book covers?

Readers:  Which spring decor slide was your favorite? I liked #4 the best. Hmm, could it be the gorgeous purple tulips?

Photo Credit:  Susan Kers

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On My Kindle - The Still of Night by Kristen Heitzmann


After reading the first book in this series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the second one. The Still of Night features Morgan Spencer - prodigal, genius, and troubled older brother in the Spencer clan.

I got more than I expected. The story includes a disastrous past relationship and a teenager's fight against cancer. The author did her research, and the emotions and details of the battle were all too accurate. Since my husband fought the same cancer, it brought a flood of memories.

The story highlighted the characters' choices and their far-reaching consequences. By the same token, it was a testament to the grace of God and how He turns what the enemy means for evil in our lives around for good.

It's rare that I get a block of time to read. On the day I finished this book, I was able to read for 2 1/2 hours straight. If you want a story you can't put down, this one was riveting. I'm placing my order for the next book in the series.

5 Stars for The Still of Night by Kristen Heitzmann.

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

Writers:   Have you used detailed medical situations in any of your writing? Please share. Book 3 of The Moses Trilogy, Out of The Mist, has a character with the same cancer as the one in Kristen's book. I didn't go into the kind of detail she did because it wasn't as critical to the story line.

Readers:  When reading a series, do you read each book as it's released or wait until you can blast through the whole series? Why?



Monday, April 17, 2017

The Art of Reviewing Books


Yes, I said, "art." As a reviewer, I'm painting a picture for a potential reader. Like a canvas or music, the evaluation of writing is subjective. How I communicate my thoughts will affect their perception of an author's work. I try to remember there's a real, live person who wrote those books. They have feelings, dreams, and it's taken everything for them to put their hearts on the line.

Here are some principles I use to review books:

1.  I select books I enjoy reading. If I detest history (which I don't), why choose a novel set during the Civil War? If horror gives me nightmares (it does), I leave it to braver souls.

2.  I read the descriptions on Amazon. It's irritating to see a review based on someone's disappointment that the content didn't match what they thought the book was about. Even more astonishing is when the reviewer says they didn't read the book.

3.  Give a writer some grace. A debut author's book shouldn't be measured with the yardstick of a seasoned professional's bestseller. A child's first efforts at writing are not in competition with a grad student's thesis. Writing is hard, and we're all on a learning curve.

4.  My number one don't: I rarely review a book under 4 stars. If I know the author and they trust my desire to help them, I might share my thoughts in a private message on what I observed.

5.  Are all my reviews sugar and spice and favorable? No, I'll often point out something that I didn't like. However, I'll also lead and balance those comments with what intrigued, interested, or touched my heart.

Social media and review sites are great when used with kindness and sensitivity. An honest review doesn't equate to trashing an author or their work. My relationship with the Lord affects every area of my life, including how I treat others. It takes a lot to get an agent, a book contract, or even to self-publish. Let's encourage each other to bigger and better things.

Writers:  What are your pet peeves about reviews?

Readers:  What are some of your guidelines for book reviews?








Friday, April 14, 2017

They Could Not - Sandy Patty

My all-time favorite Resurrection Sunday song. I did this last Sunday as a Sign Language special.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On My Kindle - Where The Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti


This story spans several time periods, including the 1890's, 1950's, and the 2000's. Anna Grissom opens a home for unwed mothers during a time when these young women were considered outcasts. Her love and compassion helps many of them to find grace, forgiveness, and the ability to move forward with their lives.

Ivy Carrington, a young woman carrying the child of her soldier boyfriend serving in Korea, meets Anna at the nursing home where she works. They form a friendship as Anna shares her life story and Ivy commits it to paper. Anna's kindness and wise counsel help Ivy navigate the most difficult time of her life.

Becky Trundle's daughter, Lauren, struggles to complete high school after the birth of her son, Jackson. Decisions have consequences and affect the whole family. Their journey highlights the struggles of modern-day families adjusting to new realities.

I'd heard of this author and wanted to read her books for quite some time. I finally purchased this one, and loved the story. The author has a unique way of turning a phrase and a fresh writing voice. This is a beautiful story of God's grace and how He uses others to provide a second chance at a stable, productive life.

5 STARS and off the charts!

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a review. All opinions are mine and mine alone, as usual.


Writers:  Have you considered writing either books or novels with a strong redemptive thread? Please share.

Monday, April 10, 2017

How Much is Too Much?


Walking through a Farmer's Market or the produce section of a grocery store makes me smile. I love the colors and variety of fruits and veggies. While I like some better than others, I understand that not everyone shares my taste or responds to them in the same way.

There's quite a debate in Christian Fiction about how overt the spiritual content should be in our books. Some think the merest hint is sufficient, while others want it spelled out on a billboard.

Personally, I'm not a fan of watering down the principles and message. My characters pray, quote scripture in a natural way, and live their convictions. While a subtle touch may work for some people, others need something more solid. The apostle, Paul, spoke of using various methods to reach different people.

I believe there's a place for both schools of thought. God has led me to write in this direction. Perhaps others write for a more general audience.

So, my writer and reader friends, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Photo Credit:  Mette Finderup

Friday, April 7, 2017

Stranger Danger/Part-Time/Dead Sea Scrolls/Devo/Recipe


1.  Orly Konig-Lopez posts at Writers in the Storm about Stranger Danger. This refers to your characters' likes and dislikes, experiences, etc. becoming foggy in your mind after finishing the manuscript. She gives tips on how to avoid key pieces of information.

2.  Balancing your writing, holding a full-time job, and family commitments is beyond tough. Jerry B. Jenkins tells how he managed before he quit his day job, as well as guidelines on when to pull the plug.

3.  More Dead Sea Scrolls? Breaking Christian News gives the latest information.

4.  Lynn Simpson invites Joy to her blog, a member of her writers group. She talks about submitting to God's plan for our lives. Yeah, I remember a time when I faced a major decision in this area. It's a lesson that bears repeating.

5.  Recipe Time! These Candied Almonds look delicious. Be warned - they're not a diet food. :)

Okay, I'm feeling a twinge of guilt here. How about a low-carb, ketogenic, diabetic-friendly fudge? Check this out.

Writers:  How do you make time to write?

Readers:  Does archaeology in relation to the Bible interest you? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Saivann

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

On My Kindle - Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden


Lydia Pallas longs for the security of home and family. With a talent for languages, she lands a job with the Navy Yard. Her living situation is threatened by the sale of her building. At the point of losing hope, an opportunity to translate for a mysterious visitor gives her renewed energy.

Alexander "Bane" Banebridge shows up and disappears at the most unexpected moments. His work requires a translator, and Lydia fits the bill. He never expects to care so deeply for a woman, but marriage is out of the question. It would leave them both vulnerable and in danger.

Elizabeth Camden is a new-to-me author. I'm glad I picked up this book and sampled her writing. Her story has the right balance of suspense, history, and romance. It was startling to learn about the opium trade during this time period and how medicines for infants and children contained this addictive substance. There's also a strong spiritual thread skillfully woven into the tale.

I'm giving this book 5 Stars.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a review. All opinions are mine and mine alone, as usual.

Writers:  If you plot your stories, how do you balance the different elements?

Readers:  Are you a fan of historical novels that highlight social issues? Please share.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Putting the Brakes on the Worry Train


Back in March, I turned the shower off and the faucet handle came off in my hand. Ugh! What do I do now? I put it aside and in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion decided to think about it tomorrow - at least that was my plan.

Instead, I thought about calling a plumber, but dollar signs flashed before my eyes. With a contractor starting on porch repairs in a couple of weeks, I sure didn't need another bill. The worry train headed for a wreck. My church family and I prayed God would give me wisdom.

My neighbor is handy, so I called and asked if he could take a look at the faucet. What looked like a major problem to me was no biggie for him. Ten minutes later, it was fixed.

After the crisis was over, I thought about the many times I'd worked myself into a frenzy over a troubling obstacle: 

A stalled chapter in my book
A tight deadline
Confusing instructions
A difficult task at work

Thankfully, I'm recognizing the pattern and seeking His wisdom before my imagination takes over.

I'm so grateful my Heavenly Father brings people like my neighbors, my agent, writing friends, co-workers, those in my church family, my mom and stepson and so many others to help when a need arises. May I be His hand extended when He taps me on the shoulder and sends me on an assignment.


Writers and Readers:  How do you put the brakes on the worry train?