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