Friday, March 31, 2017

Creativity/Conflicting Advice/Prayer/Devo/Chocolate

1.  Grammarly advises us on ways to inspire creativity. I need this.

2.  One of my great frustrations as a writer involves the abundance of conflicting advice. Cathy Yardley posts at Writer Unboxed on this subject. It was well worth the read for me and applies to both fiction and non-fiction writers.

3.  Wow! Breaking Christian News shares the story about how 50 weeks of prayer held the Supreme Court seat open until now. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia was a serious blow to those who advocate an original intent Constitution.

4.  The Write Conversation had a wonderful devotional written by Danetta Kellar called, "The God Who Sees Me."

5.  Here's a recipe the kiddos will enjoy making and eating. Chocolate Dipped Swirl Pops are making me hungry.

Writers:  Have you experienced conflicting advice on your writing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you read any Christian News websites? Recommendations?

Photo Credit:  Cheryl Empey

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On My Kindle - The Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann

Terror drives Noelle St. Clair as she seeks a safe place, far from a controlling father and fiance. She lands in Juniper Falls, Colorado, and finds a haven at a small ranch. Yet, the panic attacks and frightening dreams follow her.
Rick Spencer, a strong Christian, knows something haunts the lovely woman who stays longer than the average tourist. His brother, Morgan, falls hard for Noelle, but makes little progress in breaking through the shell surrounding her. The other drawback: the woman wants nothing to do with God.

Wow! This is classic Kristen Heitzmann storytelling with a mix of suspense and romance. She gets into each character's head and leads each one through a process of self-discovery, faith, and change. I'm so excited to see this is the first book in a series. I can't wait for the next one.

5 Stars for this all-around winner.

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

Writers:  Do you research various character traits or how traumas can affect a person? Please share.

Readers:  Do you like it when an author digs deep into the psychological make-up of a character? Please share.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Waiting Times

In the spring of 2016, a visiting speaker ministered to me. I'd gone up to the altar because I wanted healing for a physical problem I'd had for years. After sharing I'd been losing height steadily, she looked me in the eye and declared, "No more lost inches, in Jesus' name."

As far as I was concerned, the issue was settled. Later, that year a bone density scan showed some improvement. While that might not seem like a big deal, it was to me because it was the first time in 10 years I'd seen any progress.

A couple of months later, a nurse measured my height during a routine doctor visit. She informed me I was 5' 6" tall - a half inch more than my last visit. (Before I started losing height, I was almost 5' 8".) Wow! I'm trusting God for total restoration.

I've been thinking a lot about small successes in my writing. You know, stuff like my first publishing credit (a devotional), my first check, the first 5-Star review on The Moses Conspiracy, which all gave me one of those "made-my-day moments."

Gratitude for each positive step forward keeps me persevering. They're markers on my writing journey, telling me I'm closer to my goal. I'm in another one of those waiting times with my next book. As I look back at what God has done over the past 13 years, my patience is strengthened and rooted in Him.

Writers:  What are some of the things that help you through the waiting times?

Readers:  When it seems like your hopes and dreams are still so far off, how do you stay the course?

Photo Credit:  Jiratchaya Siripoonya

Friday, March 24, 2017


1.  I never realized when I began this writing journey how daunting it could be.  If you're feeling discouraged, take heart. Your writing matters. A post at The Write Conversation will give you a lift.

2.  Not everyone who reads Christian Writer/Reader Connection is a writer. Yet, journaling can be a powerful tool toward becoming more positive. Although this article isn't on a Christian site, you can find these principles in scripture. David praised God during his most difficult times. Check out Positive Writer's take on journaling.

3.  WND reports on the many reasons for a hiatus in refugee settlement. Americans have big hearts, but they're also protective of their families. One of the positive aspects of the hold on refugees are the exceptions. Christians and other religious minorities will be allowed to come here. Less than one percent of refugees from these nations were Christians. Yet, they face certain death at the hands of ISIS. Check out this informative article.

4.  Fear can paralyze a person and is a common problem. I found this devotional on Like the author of this piece, I discovered the importance of dealing with my thoughts and facing my fears.

5.  Spring is around the corner, and my thoughts are gravitating to flowers, bright skies, and shedding the heavy clothing of winter. I looked up Spring recipes and found this basil, chicken and tomatoes dish.

Writers:  What kind of expectations did you have when you started writing? Has reality measured up to your expectations? Please share.

Readers:  Doesn't that recipe sound yummy? Do you have a favorite Spring/Summer recipe link to share with us?

Photo Credit:  Crystal Leigh Shearin

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

On My Kindle - Always With You by Elaine Stock

Isabelle Gilbert's frustration with her father and grandmother's secretive ways makes her ripe for trouble. All she wants is a normal home and family life.

Tyler Saunders lives with his three siblings among a communal religious group. He's totally into their beliefs until he meets and falls in love with a special Outsider. Will she consent to marry him and become a devoted Faithful wife?

Elaine Stock did a great job with these characters. Each one came to the relationship with expectations that were soon shattered. Their growth and journey to spiritual freedom happened organically and in a believable fashion.

The strong ending wowed me. I didn't expect it to take that particular twist.

Five stars for an excellent story. I could see this as a movie.

Disclaimer:  I can't recall how I got this book since it's been sitting on my Kindle for a while. However, I haven't received any payment from the author or publisher. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you develop your characters? Do you use character charts or other devices to map out their progress or do you let it happen as the story progresses?

Readers:  No spoilers here - what book had the best ending you've ever read?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Making Course Corrections - Part III

In the previous two Monday posts, I shared how I re-connected with my call to write and how problems were identified. The next logical step: determine how to get back to that place where words flowed.

Maybe this is just me, but I tend to think such change requires something difficult. My flesh screams when I tell it to sit at the computer and write. Yet once, I yield to the tugging of the Spirit on my heart, it becomes easy. Isn't that the way most things are in the Christian life? There's a battle in the mind, but once we follow His leading, peace reigns.

So, the corrections became obvious as I took each step:

1.  John 15 talks about abiding in the vine. My hunger for the Lord grows in direct relation to how much Word I take in. He answers my questions, and from Him springs creativity and inspiration.

Those answers come in many ways, and I ask Him to keep me alert. He's promised to give wisdom to those who ask, so I expect it. 

2.  Write. While that may seem simplistic, it's like any endeavor. The more I do it, the more I improve. One idea begets another and so on.

3.  I'm still learning not to stress out about the time factor and how to accomplish all I need to do in a day. The one thing I cannot skimp on is my time with the Lord. If I put Him first, I'm more productive and have less stress.

4.  Watch my mouth. Negative self-talk is a sure way to spiral down into discouragement and even depression. I'm filling my mind with the Word of God, so it's there when I need it.

5.  Guarding my heart by editing what comes into my ears and enters through my eyes is essential to maintaining clarity. The old computer saying of, "garbage in, garbage out," applies here. And we all know there's no shortage of trash out there.

Writers and Readers: What, if anything, resonates with you from these posts?

Photo Credit:  Jonathan M

Friday, March 17, 2017

Settings/Writers Voice/Homeschool/Inspiring/Spring Colors

1.  Zoe McCarthy always pens great writing articles. Setting grounds our characters and gives them a stage on which to perform. Zoe compares real versus fictional settings.

2.  Jennifer Brown Banks gives 6 Vocal Tips to Help Writers Cultivate Voice. Developing our unique sound when writing is a key element to writing success.

3.  WND reported on a homeschool mom convicted for being reckless with her son's education because she missed a non-existent reporting deadline. Ohio actually praised her for the child's achievements. She's not backing down, but fighting the beauracracy.

4.  I had to share this testimony with you. Breaking Christian News tells about a young girl's dream and how it affects her life. She learned a profound truth that went past the mind and gripped the heart.

5.  HGTV shows 2017 Spring Color Combinations. Interesting - I wouldn't have thought about putting some of these together.

Writers:  How did you discover your writer's voice?

Readers:  If you know any authors, do they sound like their writing? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Davide Guglielmo

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On My Nightstand - Lucy Come Home by Dave and Neta Jackson

Throughout the House of Hope series by Neta Jackson, Lucy is a familiar character. She's a bag lady that lives partly on the streets and sometimes at Manna House, a homeless shelter.

The book, Lucy Come Home, left me with mixed emotions. The pacing was slow and much of it was a rehash of her part in the House of Hope Series. On the positive side, the authors did a good job showing how this woman ended up on the streets of Chicago. They also dealt with the plight of migrant workers during the Depression Era.

When the last House of Hope book ended, readers were left hanging with Lucy's story. I looked forward to this book, but it was just okay. I'm giving it 3 1/2 stars. I usually don't review anything under 4 stars, but I loved Neta's other books so much. At least, we found out what happened to Lucy and why she was reluctant to go home.

Writers:  How do you incorporate back story into your writing without it becoming a big yawn?

Readers:  When the promise of a good story goes bad, do you finish or walk away (or skip to the end)?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Identifying the Problem - Part II

If I don't know the question, how can I find the answer? Looking for a solution before identifying the problem is a waste of time and energy.

All researchers start off by asking a questions like, "How does this disease start, and under what conditions does it flourish?" In similar fashion I needed to review my writing journey and find that spot where things went terribly wrong.

What I discovered was not a huge event, but rather a series of small decisions/actions that made me veer off course. I'm reminded of the scripture that talks about the little foxes spoiling the vine. By this time, many of them were buried, and only the Lord could bring them to the surface.

Here are some of the missteps that eventually brought me to the place where I questioned my call to write:

1.  While there's wisdom in many counselors, I listened to anyone and everyone rather than seeking those who were qualified. This led to conflicting advice and confusion.

2.  Advice about writing, the publishing industry, and marketing wasn't always filtered through prayer and the Word of God. I relied too heavily on people.

3.  Instead of operating from my relationship with the Lord, I began to depend on my own strength, abilities, and plans. This caused stress, striving, and worry.

Okay, now that I knew the problems, what were the solutions?

Writers and Readers: When you're stuck, do you ever ask God, "What thought process/decision brought me to this place?" Has He brought light to your situation? If you can, please share.

Photo Credit:  Arte_ram

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tough Times/Phishing Scam/Uber and NFL Player/Devo/Miniatures

1.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, shares how Writing Through the Tough Times Brings Discovery.

2.  Keeping your gmail account safe can be tricky. Here's an article by that details a new phishing  scam.

3.  I recently read a neat story on Breaking Christian News about an Uber driver (who is a pastor) leading an NFL player to Christ. Enjoy!
4.  Beth K. Vogt posts at The Write Conversation concerning The Thoughts That Make Us Strong - a good word for writers and readers alike.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, collects miniatures. I find them so appealing and sweet, but so far have resisted the temptation to take up the hobby.

Writers:  How do you make time to write?

Readers:  Is there a hobby that attracts you, but you've resisted the temptation to dabble in it? Please share.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On My Nightstand - Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

Griffin McCray, a park ranger at Gettysburg, stays under the radar. He's been in law enforcement, but the death of a hostage eats him alive on the inside.

Beautiful Finley Scott, an anthropologist, works on a dig in the area. The discovery of a body draws her into the investigation to identify the victim. When she determines a sniper bullet caused the woman's death, the FBI is called in to take over the case.

Griffin's friends, Declan Grey and Parker Mitchell, get involved in the effort to identify the woman and stop the sniper from striking again. He didn't bargain on falling in love or dealing with the hurts that made him withdraw from his passion for righting injustice.

This is Book One of The Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey. I've read one other book by her, and she has a knack for ramping up the story tension. The characters are likable, and their faith shines through in a natural, unassuming way. She also did a wonderful job with her research. A plus - the author is donating some of the proceeds from this book to a human trafficking organization.

I did wish for more information on Finley's background and family life. Perhaps the author will shed further light on that subject in future books. I marveled that everyone on the team were Christians, even people like Finley, a noted scientist. It required me to shrug off my doubts and flow with the story.

All in all, it's an enjoyable story, and I'll be looking for the next book in the series. Four stars for this novel.

Writers:  How do you balance the plot and the characters? Do you give readers enough information on the characters to give them a sense of history? Please share.

Readers: When something makes you pause and doubt the credibility of the story, are you able to put that aside and enjoy the story or is it a deal breaker? Why?

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Call - Or How I Re-Connected to My Purpose - Part I

Should I quit writing? Why am I putting myself through this torture?

Sound familiar? These are some of the thoughts I've had going through my mind. They've turned writing from a joy to a chore and from a blessing to a curse. How did I get here?

Even as I struggled, I cried out to the Lord for answers, wisdom, and direction. Maybe He didn't want me writing. Then He spoke this to my heart: "Go back to the vision."

We humans need reminders, and this was my day to recall the early days when the intense flame of destiny energized me.

I reflected on the original vision and how God led me in those early days:

1.  Pouring words onto the page, filled with passion to communicate God's love for His people. This became my standard, my rallying cry:  write words that were containers of life.

2.  Sitting at my desk 13 plus years ago and asking Him if He really wanted me to pursue publication. His answer was swift and sure. Within a half hour, the phone rang and an invitation was issued to attend a small writers group.

3.  Standing in Gettysburg town square and hearing the voices of the forefathers as fading echoes.

4.  I can still hear my late husband as we talked about The Gettysburg Experience. After eight months, its meaning still escaped me. Then he declared, "That's it. That's your book, and you'll write it in four months, and call it Ghosts of the Past."

5.  Long before I heard advice like, "get something on the page, and then you can edit," I began writing a story that will forever remain embedded in my spirit.

How did I get from Point A to a published manuscript? When did things go awry?

Writers:  If you sense God has called you to write, how do you stay true to your original vision?

Readers:  There are books that entertain, but there are books that impact your life forever. Can you name a book (other than the Bible) that influenced your walk with the Lord?

Photo Credit:  darkip

Friday, March 3, 2017

Immersive POV/Definition/Lists/Devo/Photography

1.   We've all heard of Point-of-View (POV) and Deep POV, but Immersive POV? Donald Maas posts at Writer Unboxed on the subject.

2.   Donn Taylor posts at Author Culture on Writers and the Power of Definition. When talking or writing about any subject, how we define our terms is critical to communicating our worldview.

3.  There are all kinds of lists: Bestseller lists, Best Looking Person lists, but there's one list a nation should never be on: The Persecuting Nations List. For the first time since it started, the United States is on that list. Hopefully, it will be temporary. Read the article here.

4.  Adelee Russell, of Rewritten, allows us into her thought processes and her heart. The revelation she received of God's love for her and the freedom we have in Christ is life changing.

5.  If you enjoy beautiful photography, check out A New England Life. I'm a visual person and find much inspiration in pictures. (It's why I love Pinterest.)

Writers:  Did you know what "Immersive POV" was? What did you think of the article?

Readers:  If you're a blogger, what inspires you?

Photo Credit:  Jean Scheijen

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On My Nightstand - Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren

Kacey Fairling returns home after a crash during her last tour of duty in Afghanistan. She's found a job as the new head pilot for the PEAK Search and Rescue Team. Maybe some time away from the military will help her reconnect with her teenage daughter and parents.

Ben King's singing career suffers a devastating blow when his partner strikes out on her own. Since his father is struggling with an injury, he returns to Mercy Falls to help him out. In the back of his mind, he hopes Kacey will be there. He's never loved anyone else, but their lives took a sharp detour 13 years ago.

This is book 1 in the Montana Rescue Series, and I'll definitely be getting the next book. There's a strong spiritual thread, but the characters are far from goody two shoes. They have the emotional scars to prove it. It's a strong theme of forgiveness and second chances.

I love the combination of romance and suspense. Susan May Warren has a talent for throwing in a twist when you least expect it. Hmm, it sounds like real life, doesn't it?

Five stars for this book.

Writers:  This book uses detailed knowledge of rescue operations. Have you given your characters an unusual occupation? Please share.

Readers:  When a novel includes elements of suspense, does the tension keep the story moving for you? Please share your thoughts.