Monday, July 23, 2018

Living on the Edge


Grand Canyon, Arizona


That's what I call week-to-week blogging. With no posts scheduled for the upcoming week, I'm racing to put together something that will interest my readers.

Yes, I'm stressed.

With posts due every Monday and Friday, Sunday at 9:42 PM reminds me of cramming for a major test. It's time for a blog break. I'll be back Monday, August 27th.

Have a wonderful summer!

Writers and Readers:  What fun things do you have planned for the summer?

Photo Credit:  Gregory Runyan

Friday, July 20, 2018

Short Podcasts/Details/Locker Room/Devo/Paris


dressing room 3


1. Dr. MaryAnn Diorio has several short podcasts for writers. I thought you might enjoy them.

2.  Details, details. Cindy Ervin-Huff shares how important accurate details are in your novels.

3. Wow! I was horrified when I read the WND story about two Planet Fitness locations allowing men in the women's locker room. Their policy wasn't mentioned in the contracts, and the woman who complained had her membership revoked. Before signing up with them, make sure to ask about their policy.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, asks, Baggage or Luggage-Which Am I Carrying?

5.  Linda, at A La Carte shares some fun tablescapes with a Paris theme. Most of the items were bought at thrift stores. Check out her blog here.

Writers:  Have you ever ventured into the area of podcasting? Please share your experience.

Readers:  I thought Linda's Paris themed table was a nice change of pace. What kind of table settings have you tried to surprise your friends and family?

Photo Credit:  Eva Serna


Monday, July 16, 2018

On My Kindle - The Innkeepers Daughter by Michelle Griep

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Johanna, her mother, and younger brother struggle to keep the Blue Hedge Inn and stay out of the workhouse. The burden falls mostly on Johanna, and she derives little enjoyment from life. Romance is the last thing on her mind when a handsome stranger rents a room in their ramshackle establishment.

Alexander Moore, aka Morton, is a Bow Street runner (an early form of policeman in London). He's on a dangerous mission to discover the identity of a traitor. Each day is an effort to survive and achieve his goals. His strong faith is all that keeps him together. He's shocked when the pretty innkeeper's daughter melts his heart.

Michelle Griep is a new-to-me author. Her Regency romance provided many hours of reading pleasure. The descriptions and character arcs were vivid and intriguing. Many of the scenes still play in my head weeks after completing the book.

I'm giving this book 5 stars.

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

Writers:  When working on a novel or detailed article, how much time do you put into research? Please share your method.

Readers:  Do you enjoy a lot of historical/technical details in the books you read? Please elaborate.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Weasel Words/Romantic Hero/Archaeology/Devotion/Plain People


Amish


1.  One lesson drilled into writers involves banishing "weasel words" from their work in progress. Zoe M. McCarthy addresses the use of one of these words, "just." Is it always bad?

2.  Donna L.H. Smith gives tips on getting inside the romantic hero's head. If you're writing a romance, you'll want to read this post.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on an archaeologist in Israel who uses the Bible as a guide for digging.

4.  Dena Netherton talks about how love needs memories. I hope you enjoy this beautiful devotion.

5.  Readers: If you're a fan of Amish/Mennonite/Quaker novels, check out this article o Pennsylvania Colonial Plain People. Christy Distler does an excellent job summarizing their beliefs and practices during pre-revolutionary times.

Writers:  What "weasel words" have a way of appearing in your writing? Please share.

Readers:  What effect does reading historical fiction have on your interest in various cultures?

Photo  Credit:  Mike Munchel


Monday, July 9, 2018

Pen Name or Real Name?


Last Saturday, Sweetie Mom and I jumped in the car and headed for one of our favorite places: Pennsylvania Amish country. Since mobility issues limit what she can do, we have a set routine. We always stop at the Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market first.

While she rested on a bench, I checked out the souvenir shops. I found this cute keychain in purple (my favorite color) embroidered with my name. Sold! Sometimes the simplest things make me smile.

Looking at my new item, I started thinking about how something personalized attracts people. Growing up, there were so many girls in my class named Susan that it didn't seem all that special or unique. Nicknames seem inevitable and mine was Susie as a kid. Later, I adopted the moniker, Sue, and eventually returned to my original Susan.

As a writer, I decided to use my full name, Susan J. Reinhardt. After having a number of non-fiction pieces published, I discovered there was another writer with the same name in the general market. At first, people got us mixed up. The last several years it hasn't been much of a problem.

I wonder if I should have used a pen name. However, the foundation for my platform was already under my real name. All in all, I'm glad I didn't try to make any changes. After all, I'm rather attached to it. Like my keychain, it makes me smile to see it on a book cover.

Writers:  Did you research author names when you started writing? Did you ever consider using a pen name?

Readers:  Have you ever confused two authors because of a same or similar name? Please share your experience.

Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Indie Tips/POV/Persecuted Christians/Devo/Recipe

Paper people


1.  Erica Liodice posted at Writer Unboxed about avoiding publisher's remorse. With so many people choosing the Indie route, it's easy to get tripped up. The writer gives some excellent tips on what to NOT do when preparing your book for readers.

2. Lisa Hall-Wilson gives 5 Ways Deep Point of View Delivers a Punch in Action Scenes. This is for the more advanced writer. If you're unfamiliar with Deep POV, it would be good to study the basics first.

3.  Faith, Family America reports on Vice-President Pence's plan to aid persecuted Christians in Iraq.

4. Audrey Frank shares a devotional on, "Why  Writers Need Each Other." While directed at writers, it will speak to the heart of every believer.

5.  Be still my heart! Flourless, peanut butter, chocolate chip muffins are only 100 calories each.

Writers:  Are any of using the Indie route to publication? If so, what tip at Writer Unboxed helped you the most?


Readers:  What are your favorite go-to recipes? Please share.


Photo Credit:  Davide Guglielmo

Monday, July 2, 2018

Happy Independence Day!


fireworks 3


July 4th has been celebrated since 1776. After the War of 1812, the observance became more widespread. I found some fun facts on History.com. Did you know:

1.  Three  U.S. presidents died on July 4th?

2.  NY City has the biggest fireworks display in the nation?

3.  It was drafted by Thomas Jefferson?

Check out the website for more information. You might find some interesting conversation starters or even make up a 4th of July game for your family BBQ.

Most of all, I'm thankful I was born in the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave. Happy Birthday, America!

Writers and Readers:  How do you celebrate the 4th of July?



Photo Credit:  tz


Friday, June 29, 2018

Saying Less/Motivation/Archaeology/Devo/Flowers

Archaeology 2


1.  Jane Friedman posted at Publishers Weekly on, "How to Network Better by Saying Less." With conference season in full swing, her timely advice can help us all when we meet editors and agents.

2.  Glenn Haggerty posts at Seriously Write about motivation. Having been on the proverbial hamster wheel the first six months of 2018, I needed the reminders he provided - like filing the to-do list for the day.

3. It makes my heart glad when I read about archaeological discoveries that validate the Bible. Not long ago, U.S. Christians unearthed the seals of King Hezekiah and the prophet, Isaiah. Check out this report by Breaking Christian News.

4.  Lynn J. Simpson's devotion, "Let's Talk About Romance," touches at the core of our longings - to be loved and to love. No matter what our marital status, we can experience the love of God.

5.  I love flowers, but these knees don't like kneeling to plant them. I've been searching for perennials, so I can put them in and see them come up every year. I have astilbes with a pretty, feathery bloom. Better Homes and Gardens recently posted an article on the 15 Most Underused Perennials. Maybe you'll get some ideas as well.

Writers:  Are you attending a conference this year? How do you prepare for your editor/agent appointments?

Readers:  Do you have perennials in your garden? Which ones do you have?

Photo Credit:  Vicky Johnson

Monday, June 25, 2018

On My Kindle - The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Dress by [Hauck, Rachel]


Charlotte Malone loves matching brides to their dream wedding gown. When it comes to her own, she runs into trouble. Could it be the doubts plaguing her about her whirlwind courtship are the cause?

At 32, Tim Rose wants to settle down - in theory. Is his reluctance a sign that Charlotte isn't the one for him or just wedding jitters.

A mysterious trunk and a wedding gown from 1912 may provide the answers to their questions.

I'd read Rachel Hauck's book, "The Writing Desk," not long again and picked this one up on Amazon. It didn't take long before her tale of a wedding dress and four brides over a century grabbed my imagination.

The strong spiritual theme throughout the book added great subtext about our relationship with the Lord. I've seen miracles and unusual experiences belittled and mocked in some Christian fiction, but Rachel handled them with great respect. It set her apart, and I'll be reading more of her novels.

Rating: 5 Stars on both content and craft.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment for a favorable review. As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  How do you handle delicate subjects? Are you "in the reader's face" or do you come in gently?

Readers:  Does it turn you off  when an author mocks the beliefs of others? Please share your thoughts.



Friday, June 22, 2018

Finding Time/Writing Prowess/NASA Scientist/Devo/Dairy-Free Recipe

book

1.  Are you having trouble finding time to write? Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives tips on how to keep moving forward with your projects.

2.  Sarah Cy posts at Writers in the Storm on powerful ways to increase your writing prowess  besides reading and writing.

3.  Breaking Christian News shares how a NASA scientist sees God's glory every day.

4. I recently met Sherry Carter on LinkedIn. As I read this former NASA engineer's blog, I  knew I wanted to share her devotional with all of you.

5. A Dairy-Free Banana Cream Pie? It must be a dream. I found this on Pinterest, went to the Meaningful Eats blog, and printed the recipe. I can't wait to try it!

Writers:  What steps do you take to keep moving forward with your writing projects?

Readers: Do the occupations of writers/experts have a strong influence on the credibility of their articles/books, etc.? Please share your thoughts/opinions.

Photo Credit:  Justine FG

Monday, June 18, 2018

Go Back to the Well

Well

A poem I wrote years ago popped into my head the other day. It was about going back to the well and seeking the Lord, the great Creator. All the methods in the world to break writers block/discouragement can't compare to spending time with Him.

I believe with all my heart He called me to write. It hasn't been a easy road. From rejections to broken bones (elbow, wrist - just try writing when you're in a cast and your fingers look like sausages), the enemy has thrown everything possible in my path to sabotage that ministry.

You'd think after four published books and numerous devotionals and articles I'd be all set and have clear sailing. My experience has not followed that pattern. Other authors have also run into difficulties after publication: their publisher closes its doors, no one seems to want their next book, sales don't measure up to a publisher's expectations, etc.

All of this points to one key thing:

Without Him, we are nothing. It is by guarding our heart and mind and treasuring our relationship that infuses us with the strength, resilience, and the creativity we need no matter what our calling.

Even though nothing has changed in my circumstances (injuries as a result of falls and increased family responsibilities), keeping my focus on Him is top priority. The breakthrough will come. The answers will come.

Writers:  How do you stay plugged in to The Power Source?

Readers:  How do you keep the fire of your first love for the Lord burning even when life's challenges seem relentless?

Photo Credit:  Valentin Santarosa

Friday, June 15, 2018

Solitary Writers?/Setting/Testimony/Dena/Summer Activities

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1.  Tim Suddeth posts at The Write Conversation on, "Writers Shouldn't Write Alone." I skipped a writer's conference last year and realized how much I missed interacting with others on this journey. Tim reminded me of all the reasons I need to stay in touch.

2.  A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii and raved about the author's use of setting and description. I just came across Lisa Hall-Wilson's post on, "3 Ways to Ramp Up Setting And Description With Subtext." She gives excellent examples and teaching on the subject.

3.  Testimonies increase our capacity to believe God for the miraculous. Breaking Christian News shared the story of a Gospel singer, who was healed of uterine cancer and then got pregnant with her son.

4.  Dena Netherton, at My Father's World,  My Father's Words, shares how words and reading affected her as a child. I always enjoy learning more about authors and bloggers.

5.  Whether you're a parent, grandparent, babysitter, or Sunday School teacher, it can be a challenge to keep kids occupied during the summer. The Activity Village, from the U.K. has some fun craft ideas to keep the little ones smiling.

Writers:  In what ways do you interact with other writers?

Readers:  What kinds of crafts do the children in your life enjoy? I always liked coloring. :)

Photo Credit:  Felipe (Aladim) Hadler


Monday, June 11, 2018

God, The Ultimate GPS

Barricada

As I traveled a familiar road toward home, a detour sign warned me it was closed. Uh-oh, it was a one-way street, and I couldn't backtrack. My only option was to follow the detour. Hitting the panic button would only hinder my progress. Instead, I prayed: "Lord, please help me find my way to the main thoroughfare."

The detour signs were confusing. I decided to make a left and ended up on a highway I didn't recognize. I again prayed, "Lord, please direct me."

Often we come across detours in life. They can be marked, "illness, injury, family problems, job loss, and many other things." As writers, the different path can come in the form of rejection, negative comments, and discouragement. How do we handle them? Do we react in fear or turn our focus on the One who is never lost?

My detour saga? Within a couple of minutes, an exit sign came up for the road I needed to reach. I didn't care if it was going in the right direction or not. I could always turn around. Sure enough, the road headed south instead of north. A simple course correction resulted in seeing landmarks assuring me I was on the way home.

We sometimes seek the Lord's guidance as a last resort. How about reversing that order? A detour doesn't have to be a disaster. It can be an opportunity to build our faith and trust in our loving God.

Writers and Readers:  Please share an experience or insight about handling those detour moments.

Photo Credit:  Cristian Jungwirth

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lessons/Write/Reunited/Devo/Old Blogs

Writing lessons 2


1.  Cindy Sproles talks about, "The Value to a Writer of Learning Difficult Lessons." I've had my share, and I'm sure you have as well.

2.  Jo Eberhardt posts at Writers Unboxed about the oft-repeated line, "Writers write." Her words encouraged me as I've been going through a season of caregiving, job demands, and just plain exhaustion.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on the reuniting of a man with the woman who rescued him from certain death as a newborn.

4.  Lynn J. Simpson uses her photos of orchids to illustrate a beautiful devotion.

5.  Recently, the European Union's new privacy law went into effect. When reviewing my blog, I remembered I still had an old blog called, "Susie's Sandbox."

My computer guy asked  me if I wanted to delete it. Even though I hadn't posted since 2010, I couldn't bring myself to erase some sweet memories. I did turn off the comments, but thought some of you might want to visit. Maybe I'll do a whole blog post on the subject. :)

Writers and Readers: Do you have any blogs that are no longer active? Did you delete them or let them remain in cyberspace?

Photo Credit:  Edwin Pijpe


Monday, June 4, 2018

On My Nightstand - Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii

Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii by [Thoene, Bodie]


Sandi Smith flies to the exotic location of Lahaina, Hawaii, to interview an old woman who lived through the many changes in the islands. Her personal life on hold because her husband is Missing In Action in Vietnam, she seeks to be closer in case he's on a list of prisoners soon to be freed.

She becomes engrossed in the story of Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn, Crown Princess of Hawaii and the next royal heir to the throne. The tale of intrigue and betrayal helps keep her mind occupied as her own life seems to remain in limbo.

I borrowed this book from a friend. It's an old title, but I've always wanted to read something by Bodie Thoene. Wow!  I was impressed with the way the author described the settings. Woven seamlessly throughout the story, they could easily have been another character. I could see, smell, and hear the Hawaiian Islands and England.

The characters were as diverse as the settings. From ancient Auntie Hannah in the present day portion to the young princess, who desired the wisdom of Solomon to rule her people well, they each showed a level of growth and maturity.

I've  heard rave reviews about this author, and I can see why she's a favorite of readers. Five stars for this book.

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

Writers:  Crafting a great setting is a tough skill to master. Do you find it helpful to read books that get it right? Please share your experience.

Readers:  How important is a novel's setting to your overall reading experience? Please share.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Fresh Faces/Editing/Epidemic/Optimism/Summer Salad


Hot type


1.  Margie Lawson posts at Writers in the Storm about writing fresh faces and beyond the cold, hard stare. Even without her comments, the examples are enlightening. Don't miss this excellent article.

2.  If you're like me, the initial writing of an article or book is exciting. Editing - not so much. Eva Marie Everson posts at The Write Conversation and talks about the importance of the editing process and how it can turn your book into a bestseller.

3.  The addiction epidemic in this country affects every level of society. Breaking Christian News reports that Dr. Jerome Adams, the new Surgeon General, is tackling the problem by reaching out to law inforcement, the community, and churches.

4.  Helen Keller's story always inspires me. She accomplished so much even though she was blind and deaf. Beth Vogt posts at The Write Conversation about optimism.

5.  The official start of summer is still a few weeks away, but the warm weather makes a refreshing salad appealing. Check out this watermelon salad. Yes, I said, "watermelon." Allrecipes has many other examples, but this one caught my eye.

Writers and Readers:  What phrases do you see in books that seem worn and tired? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Andrew Beirle

Monday, May 28, 2018

Lest We Forget


Memorial Day was originally called, "Decoration Day." This is the day we remember  those who died in all wars. Veterans Day honors all who served in the military, but this day is set aside for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Recently, I reviewed a book by Sarah Sundin (The Sea Before Us) about the Normandy invasion during World War II. The high stakes of war has always attracted both writers and readers. There's something about bravery, sacrifice for our fellow man, that resonates with us and stirs the emotions.

When reading books about the Revolutionary War, The Civil War, and the World Wars, I realize what our freedom cost in terms of human lives. I'm so thankful people had the courage to challenge the bullies of the world and stop them in their tracks.

As we have picnics and hit the Memorial Day sales, I hope we'll take time to pray for those serving in war zones and their families.

Writers and Readers: How do you celebrate Memorial Day?

Photo Credit:  Melodi2

Friday, May 25, 2018

Critiques/Coincidence/Evangelism/Keep Paving/Recipe


1.  Andy Lee posts at The Write Conversation on, "How to Receive and Give Critique with Grace." I've made my share of mistakes in this area, especially as a newbie writer. My heart has also been shredded by well-meaning colleagues. This article is a must-read for anyone in a critique group or doing book reviews.

2. Zoe M. McCarthy shows how a coincidence in a story can be a good thing provided it's used in the right place.

3. Christian Headlines reports on a study done by Barna regarding evangelism. This is truly a sad state of affairs.

4. If you're anything like me, writing can often become overwhelming. Katy Kauffman posted at The Write Conversation on how to "Keep paving" when you feel overwhelmed.

5. With Memorial Day coming up, Food Network gives a recipe for Classic Strawberry Shortcake. It's labeled, "easy." Ah, my kind of recipe. :)

Writers:  Have you used coincidences in a  story? Please share.

Readers:  How do you react to coincidences in a story? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Helmut Gevert



Writing Habit/Consistency/South and North Korea/Facing Fears/Author Homes



1.  Jennifer Blanchard, at Positive Writer, gives 9 Ways to Create a Rock Solid Writing Habit. I particularly liked how she gave practical and thought-provoking advice on how to get started and how to stay the course.

2.  Jim Dempsey guest posts at Writer Unboxed on, "Keep Your Characters Consistent." I enjoy articles like this because they challenge me as a writer.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on the recent meetings between South and North Korea have raised hopes that conditions will improve for North Korean believers. Let's all pray for our brothers and sisters in that country.

4.  Tim Suddeth, at The Write Conversation, talks about the fears we face as writers. It can easily translate into any other occupation. I loved this particular line, "In each of our lives, we are going to face new twists and turns that we can call either fears or opportunities."

5.  Jean Fischer, at Something to Write Home About, shares pictures and a blurb about the homes of famous authors. It was fun to see where Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott wrote their stories.

Writers:  How did you establish your writing habit?

Readers: Which of the author homes did you like the best? While not my favorite home, Edgar Allen Poe's house brought back fond memories. My grandmother and mother would take me on walks to Poe Park. I always had to check out his tiny home.

Photo Credit:  Kym Parry

Monday, May 21, 2018

On My Nightstand - The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin, February 6, 2018 from Revell

I've read all of Sarah's books, but I think this one is my favorite. The combination of a British and American perspective for planning the Normandy invasion brought a whole new appreciation for the difficulties the allies faced. The cultural nuances and the personal relationships all filtered through the characters' faith and life experiences.

Dorothy Fairfax, daughter of a well-to-do businessman and an officer in the British Wrens, takes her duties seriously. At the same time, she's dealing with the loss of her mother and brothers to the war and her father's depression. She thinks she knows what she wants - Lawrence - and tries to be the kind of woman he would find attractive.

Wyatt Paxton, an American from Texas, has exiled himself from his family due to past sins. He knows God's forgiven him, but he can't forgive himself. When he meets the pretty British officer, he keeps it on a friendship level. Why get involved in another relationship fiasco?

This story had such depth, and the research was impeccable. I was completely engaged with these characters. It was easy to believe they were real people because of the historical facts wrapped around them.

5 Stars! I recommend this book and all of Sarah Sundin's other series.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a positive review. I purchased the book, and all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers and Readers: Do you enjoy books that combine different cultural elements? Please share.







Friday, May 18, 2018

POV/Writer's Block/Unborn Babies/Failure Isn't Forever/Recipe

Writer's Block

1.  Point of View presents some sticky problems for writers. As we advance, we can still get caught with challenges in this area. Lisa Hall Wilson writes about 4 Point of View Breaks that Sneak In Even When You Know Better.

2.  Jane Anne Staw guest posts at Jane Friedman's blog on the subject of defeating writer's block. I've been struggling with my Work in Progress. I picked up several important tips from this article.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that Indiana's governor has signed a bill stating that unborn babies are persons. A criminal can now be charged with murder if a pregnant woman is attacked and she loses her unborn child.

4.  Andy Lee guest posts at The Write Conversation on "Failure is Not Forever." Whether or not you're a writer, this post applies to all of us.

5.  Melissa Lester shares a simple French Country Salad on her blog. It looks like a refreshing dish for a spring/summer lunch.

Writers:  Do you ever suffer from writer's block? How do you overcome it?

Readers:  Which link was your favor this week and why?

Photo Credit:  John Olsson



Monday, May 14, 2018

On My Nightstand - Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke

Until We Find Home by [Gohlke, Cathy]


Another great story by this author! I never get tired of her books. This one focuses on a group of orphans smuggled out of France and Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Claire Stewart, an aspiring writer, helps the French Resistance rescue Jewish youngsters. She plans to drop them off at a boat that will take them to England. Her contact and boyfriend, Arnaud, is supposed to meet her there, but never shows up. She gets knocked unconscious and ends up in England with the children. Fortunately, her aunt, Lady Miranda, lives there and takes them all into her home even though she has her doubts.

David Campbell is displaced in his own right. An American working in England on a top-secret war project, he finds lodging with Lady Miranda, Claire, and the young refugees. His wisdom and concern for all of them brings growth, joy, and hope to the household.

This book is 5 Stars all the way. Any time I see a new story coming out by this author, I make sure I pick it up. I've read every single one she's written and keep them in my personal library.

Writers and Readers:  Do you have some go-to authors that always top your TBR list? Please share.



Friday, May 11, 2018

Productive/Character Feelings/Abuse Prevention/Movies/Devo/Decluttering Myths


1.  Writers can be productive and happy while authoring. Cathy Fyock posts at The Write Conversation and gives some excellent advice to help you finish your book.

2.  Showing rather than telling how characters feel is the aim of Zoe M. McCarthy's blog post for writers. Take your writing up a notch with these excellent tips.

3.  Christian movies are exploding in popularity. I recently saw I Can Only Imagine and came away inspired and uplifted. Christian Headlines has a fascinating article on this trend. I hope you enjoy it.

4. Lynn J. Simpson talks about securing our steps. We all face hard times, but when we focus on God, He leads us through them.

5. Realtor.com had an interesting post on decluttering myths. Following this list will set you up for failure. The author gives advice that will help you keep your home clutter free.

Writers and Readers:  Have you seen any of the recent faith-based movies? Which ones did you see and how did you like them?

Photo Credit:  Jonathan Werner


Monday, May 7, 2018

On My Kindle - Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between


When I read the blurb on this book, it piqued my interest because it said it applied to plotters, pantsers, and tweeners. Mr. Bell generally espouses plotting, which puts my brain in a knot.

Often, I find craft books dull and boring, but Mr. Bell added a nice dash of humor to his text. It held my attention and kept me turning pages.

The main theme of the book was discovering the protagonist's "mirror moment." This occurs in the middle of the story. I put this to the test with a book I'm currently reading by a Christy Award winning author, and sure enough, there was the moment right where he said it would be.

I'm experimenting with his technique with my work in progress. Maybe it will help me break out of writer's block.

This craft book gets 5 Stars for being interesting and informative.

Writers:  Do you use a particular method to structure your stories? Please share.

Readers:  What's the best part of a story for you? The beginning, the journey, or the grand finale? Please share your thoughts.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Love Language/Deep POV/Downs Syndrome/Rest/One-Touch Rule




1. DiAnn Mills guest posts at The Write Conversation. She asks, "What is your character's love language?"

2.  Lisa Hall-Wilson guest posts at Writers in the Storm about 5 Quick Ways to Shift Description and POV into  Deep Point of View. There's also a link to a free e-course. I've asked for it, and will give you a report when I've finished.

3.  Bravo to the State of Utah House for passing a bill that outlaws the aborting of Downs Syndrome babies. There is much pressure from the medical community and society to destroy children with disabilities. The bill still must pass the Utah Senate.

4.  Lucinda Seacrest McDowell guest posts at The Write Conversation and urges writers to embrace the rest they need. This advice applies to any one involved in a creative endeavor.

5.  Okay, so I'm on a declutter kick. I just heard about the "One Touch Rule." Yeah, it piqued my curiosity too.

Writers:  Have you taken any free e-courses on writing? Please share.

Readers:  How do you rest/re-charge?

Photo Credit: Patataj Patataj



Monday, April 30, 2018

On My Kindle - The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

The Elusive Miss Ellison (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace) by [Miller, Carolyn]


This historical romance is set in England. Lavinia Ellison, daughter of a preacher, carries on her late mother's work of helping the poor. She and her Aunt Patience have a dim view of the aristocracy, who neglect those living on their estates.

Nicholas Stamford, the Earl, who owns the land, returns from war, plagued by nightmares and guilt from the past. He's fascinated by the outspoken young woman, who seems unaffected by his position.

Their two worlds collide, but can they ever reconcile their differences or ignore the rules of society?

Carolyn Miller is a new-to-me author. I thought she did a good job with the story and character development. Lavinia seemed a little too perfect, but I was able to get past that detail. Overall, the book was an enjoyable reading experience. I liked the cover - very cute.

I'd read another book by Ms. Miller. I'm giving this one 4 Stars.

Writers:  Do you give your characters flaws that they overcome? Please share.

Readers:  What settings do you prefer for the books you read - USA or a different country? Why?


Friday, April 27, 2018

Social Media Safety/Memoir/Starving/Devo/Declutter


1.  Most of us are active on social media. In these dangerous times, it's important to take common-sense precautions to keep ourselves safe. Did you know that the pictures you post can have information on your location? Check out this article at The Write Conversation.

2.  Here's a rare post on writing a memoir. Cyndy Etler, at Jane Friedman's blog, shows us how to help the reader "live it."

3.  Breaking Christian News reports that Oregon passed a radical bill allowing mentally ill patients to be starved to death. The abortion culture has opened a Pandora's Box of death.

4.  Dena Netherton's devotion called, "Cactus Underwear of Cascade Mountain Lake," focuses on being thankful.

5.  Spring cleaning time is here. Lamberts Lately is a cleaning/declutter blog. In this post she gives a list of things you can purge right now.

Writers and Readers:  What precautions do you take to protect yourselves on social media? Please share.

Photo Credit: Davide Guglielmo

Monday, April 23, 2018

On My Kindle - The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen


Rachel Ashford lives at Ivy Cottage by the kindness of her friends, Mercy and Matilda Grove. A gentlewoman fallen on hard times, she is determined not to live off the charity of others. Her pride makes it difficult for her to accept help, even from God.

Mercy Grove, the tall and less than beautiful friend, adores teaching in her school for girls. She's comfortable in her situation, but secretly longs for a family of her own.

Jane Bell, owner of a coach house (hotel) and widow, is determined to remain single. The pain of loss still haunts her even though her husband has been gone over a year.

This is the second book of a new series by Julie Klassen. I missed that one, but there was enough detail in this book to fill in the gaps. You might want to start out with the first book.

Once again, Julie's excellent research and well-defined characters planted me in her English story world. I'm looking forward to the next book to see what happens to Jane and Mercy. Rachel's story was the main focus of this book.

Five Stars for an excellent and well-crafted story. Note: The cover shown above is for the audio version, but it also comes in Kindle and print.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment for this review. As usual, all opinions expressed are mine and mine along.

Writers and Readers:  If you miss reading the first book in a series, does it ruin the experience for you? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Devastating Choice/Research/Billy Graham/Devo/Recipe


1. Zoe M. McCarthy talks about giving your characters a devastating choice. Either one will forever alter their lives.

2. Are you considering writing historical novels, but the research aspect is stopping you? Carrie Turansky guest posts at Seriously Write and gives her best tips on how to immerse yourself in another time period.

3. In February, Billy Graham, went on to his eternal reward. His life and ministry were characterized by integrity. The word, "scandal," never appeared in relation to either. Breaking Christian News reported on the principles he and his team lived by. They would be excellent guidelines for any minister/ministry.

4.  Lynn J. Simpson posts her thoughts on "an army of trust." She uses II Timothy 1:7 as her main text.

5.  My family and I are big fans of Italian cuisine. When I first tasted bruschetta, I knew I wanted to make this at home. Here's a great recipe from Rachael Ray complete with video. Have you ever made bruschetta? How does this recipe compare with yours? What ingredients/tips would you add to this one?

Writers:  Can you think of a devastating choice you might give your main character? Please share.

Readers:  Do you prefer books that get characters into major trouble without much of a break or do you like one main conflict? Please share your thoughts.

 Photo Credit:  Svilen Milev


Monday, April 16, 2018

Kitchen Disasters and Story Blunders


I admit it. I'm out of practice when it comes to cooking. Most days, I either grab something easy or Sweetie Mom feeds me. (I've always said I'll never starve as long as she's around.)

Recent circumstances made it necessary that I once again put on my chef's hat and make some serious meals. It should be like riding a bike, but uh oh - not with me. I've made many pot roasts in my time, but my recent crockpot adventure showed I need a refresher course.

1.  I couldn't find the Bottom Round Roast I usually use, so I bought Eye Round. No big deal, right?

2.  After coating the meat with flour and herbs to give it a nice crust, I browned it in my trusty electric frying pan. So far, so good.

3.  I popped the roast into the slow cooker, added water, and turned it on high. I didn't want this thing cooking into the next decade.

4.  Next came the Veggies. Peel those potatoes and carrots. Wash, cut, and set them aside to be added later. The only problem, I made too many for my slow cooker. When the time came to add them, they didn't all fit. Plan B - boil the leftovers separately.

5.  Finally, the roast was done. The fork went in with no problem, and it looked beautiful. When I went to slice the meat, uh oh - it fell apart. I ended up with shredded pot roast instead of the nice slices we prefer. Thankfully, everything tasted okay after that shaky start.

We authors sometimes have story blunders much like my kitchen disaster. When writing The Moses Conspiracy, I had a chapter where Ellie and her son visit the White House. They walked up to the White House got in line, and took the tour. Wrong. A number of years ago, the procedure changed. You now have to get tickets through your representative. The demand for the tour and security concerns changed everything.

Fortunately, this error didn't appear in the published book. I caught it early in the writing process through a casual conversation with a co-worker. Yep, I survived.

Writers:  Have you experienced "story blunders/disasters?" Please share.

Readers:  What kitchen disasters have happened to you over the years?

Photo Credit: Copyright @ Susan J. Reinhardt (Yes, folks, this is what the roast looked like when I got done with it!)


Friday, April 13, 2018

Flaws/Marketing/Chance Encounter/Inspiration/Declutter


1.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives examples of showing a character's flaws.

2.  Grace Wynter, at Writer Unboxed, gives authors five great tips on marketing. The for creating videos sounds like something I want to explore.

3.  God Reports blog shared this beautiful story about a chance encounter on a park bench in Hyde Park with a Muslim woman.

4.  Here are some inspirational thoughts by Beth K. Vogt, at The Write Conversation.

5.  Clutter, clutter - how do you win against clutter? I found a Budget Dumpster site that gave tips on how to get the job done. I'm going back to read the entire article. LOL! I need this.

Writers:  Which marketing tip caught your eye? Please share.

Readers:  Please share some of your favorite decluttering methods?

Photo Credit:  Neal Horstmeyer

Monday, April 9, 2018

Moving From Good to Great


"The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail..." - Charles Swindoll

This quote was in our Sunday bulletin in March and piqued my interest. I started thinking  about all the books I've read and why some were good and others were great. What tipped the scales to the great side?

The book I'm reading at the moment is crafted to perfection, and the storyline captivated me from page one. Here are some of the things I noticed:

1.  The historical references/language/customs are well researched. No modern-day idioms or sayings have popped up and pulled me out of the time period.

2.  Characters act in line with the society, values, and abilities common to their country and place in history.

3.  Descriptions of setting, dress, and appearance all occur naturally throughout the story. There are no long-winded paragraphs. Action is taking place when such details are slipped in like adding flavor with salt or pepper.

I agree with the quote above. The details add richness and depth, elevating a book to greatness.              

Writers and Readers:  Agree/Disagree? What are your thoughts on what makes a book go from good to great?


Photo Credit: David Siqueira

Friday, April 6, 2018

Author Surprise/Routine in Fiction/Gospel on Nat'l TV/Devo/Spring Flowers


1.  What No One Told You About Being an Author by Cathy Fyock - neat article with some marketing tips.

2.  I hopped over to Jane Friedman's blog and found an article by Peter Seljin on How to Make the Best Use of "Routine" Events in Your Fiction. He often critiques first pages and gave me a great deal to think about. I'm going to take a fresh look at my work in progress.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on how Kathie Lee Gifford shared the Gospel on national TV. I'm grateful for those in the entertainment industry who boldly proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.

4.  Rhonda Rhea, a humorist, gives us a look at A Messy Life.  Her analogy made me grin. I've done this more times than I can count.

5.  It's official - I have Spring fever. The mere thought of daffodils, tulips, lilacs, and azaleas makes me giddy. To celebrate, here's a slide show from Better Homes and  Gardens featuring Spring blooms.

Writers:  Please share something that surprised you about being an author (whether yourself or someone you know).

Readers:  What's your favorite Spring flower? Please share.

Photo Credit: John Evans

Monday, April 2, 2018

On My Kindle - Winterheart by Terri Tiffany



Penny Hope plays it safe and rarely takes a risk. A chance meeting with a free-spirited woman changes her view of life. She embarks on a journey that will either destroy her or bring her great joy.

The author does a good job with this character's growth from a timid woman to one who takes a chance on a better life. Penny makes mistakes along the way but learns a great deal. I'd definitely say this is a character-driven story. and many will relate to Penny's struggles.

I'm giving this book five stars.

Writers and Readers:  Character-driven or plot-driven stories - which do you prefer and why?


Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy Resurrection Day!


While I love Christmas, Resurrection Day is my favorite holiday. I'm reminded of the whole purpose for Jesus coming to this world. It marks His triumph over sin and the grave after paying the ultimate price to reconcile us to God.

Here's Sandy Patty and Larnelle Harris singing, "I've Just Seen Jesus."


May the Lord bless you on this Resurrection Sunday and may you accept His awesome gift of eternal life. If you want to know more about how to do this, feel free to contact me.


Writers and Readers: How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Bartek Ambrozik


Monday, March 26, 2018

On My Kindle - The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck


When one is a bestselling, award-winning, author and member of a writing dynasty, how do you overcome writer's block? Tenley Roth stares at a blank computer screen and fears she's a one-book wonder.

Her estranged mother calls and asks for help during a health crisis. Against the wishes of her boyfriend, she packs her bag and heads for Cocoa Beach, Florida. Maybe a change of scenery will give her inspiration. There she meets furniture designer, Jonas Sullivan. A cautious friendship blooms in the Florida sun.

Many years prior to Tenley's life, Birdie Shehorn is the belle of New York Society. She adores writing about life and the expectations placed upon her. The two women struggle to find their identity.

This dual timeframe novel had me glued to the page. I'd heard of Rachel Hauck, but this was the first book I'd sampled. Being an author myself, the whole writer vibe intrigued me. She did a masterful job of weaving these two stories to a satisfying conclusion.

Don't miss this well-written and researched book. I'll be reading more from this author. 5 Stars!

Disclaimer:  I did not receive any remuneration for this review. All opinions are mine and mine alone, as always. 

Writers: Does the idea of two stories within one seem daunting? How would you go about crafting such a book?


Readers:  Have you read any dual timeframe novels? What was your opinion of them? Did you find them difficult to follow of did the curiosity of how the two stories would merge keep you reading?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Character Voice/Guy's POV/Preemie/Devo/Orchids


1. Writers are always told to use all five senses in their work. This post shows the great resources available on Pinterest. Here's a list of words to describe a character's voice.

2.  Another gem found on Pinterest is from Ink and Quills. Do you novelists have difficulty writing from a guy's POV? Here are some great insights.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a viral video, showing a baby born at 24 weeks.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, urges us to Beware How We Talk to Ourselves.

5.  I have a couple of orchid plants. The one has bloomed every year since I received it as a gift. This year, it's not being cooperative, so I did some research. Pinterest to the rescue. :) Check out this article on watering your orchid. Apparently, I've been doing it all wrong.

Writers:  What resources do you use when trying to find the right word to describe some aspect of a character's voice?

Readers:  What types of indoor plants do you have (if any)? Do you have any advice on keeping them blooming?

Photo Credit:  Jenny Kennedy-Olsen


Monday, March 19, 2018

How To Overcome Decision Paralysis

I like having options, but too many cause sensory overload. As a writer, I'm bombarded with social media, blogs, and emails offering ways to improve my writing.

At one point in my life, a close friend and I decided to start a craft business. We would make and sell Christian Christmas ornaments. It sounded like a plan, but then other items were added to an ever-growing list. Why not make wreaths? And centerpieces? And gift items? The list of supplies grew, and we hit the craft stores.

"Oh, look, at these cute cutouts. We could paint them and add them to the ornaments." The selection, bargains, and ideas were dizzying. We bought so much stuff that deciding what to use for a simple ornament became a challenge.

Finally, we called a halt to the buying spree. "Let's use what we have and get the finished products sold."

We learned:

1.  To enjoy looking without making a buying decision.
2.  To observe what colors/items we truly liked.
3.  To have a specific project in mind before making a purchase.

Applying these lessons to writing educational opportunities wasn't so easy. The Internet and hundreds of books, online courses, writers conferences, etc. provide more resources than I could use in a lifetime. It's enough to bring on a bad case of decision paralysis. Here's my process:

1.  Slow down and take a deep breath.
2.  Pray and ask God to direct you. 
3.  I narrow down the choices to several reliable sources, look over the materials, and see if anything jumps out at me. This can be either positive or negative.

Example 1:  I went on a free webinar which gave some good information. Of course, they were selling an expensive course. I asked myself: If you do this, can you commit the time and energy it requires to succeed? This is usually my primary concern with any resource. My second question concerns the actual value of the course and whether or not I could afford it. I've begun avoiding these so-called free webinars because of the high pressure (offer good today only) and the expense (only $1,000 even though it's worth $3,000).

Example 2:  I heard about a book on deep point of view. (For the non-writers, this relates to which character's thoughts you get to see and their perspective on a situation.) The resource was reasonably priced, covered a single topic, and didn't require the next two years of my life. I learned a lot from that small volume. I also discovered that I'm a nugget learner. A focused exploration of a single topic helped me remember the lessons learned.

Writers and Readers:  Please share your experience with too many choices and how you narrowed them down.

Photo Credit:  Jean Scheljen

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's That Time Again!


Sweetie Mom needs some extra help for the next month, so a blog break is in order. (She's okay but has a lot going on.) 

I'll return to my regular posting schedule on Monday, March 19, 2018. Have a great month!


Photo Credit:  Svilen Milev

Friday, February 16, 2018

Writer/Wow on the Page/Steelers' Shazier/Devo/Dairy Substitutions



1.  Gina Conroy asks, "How Can You Tell If You're a Writer?" This journey takes time, patience, and commitment. If you're struggling with doubt, this article may help you get past it.

2.  Margie Lawson guest posts at Writers in the Storm on, "Putting Wow on the Page." She gives great examples and shows why and how they work.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on the comeback of Pittsburgh Steelers' Ryan Shazier. He credits God with his recovery, but the media has censored his testimony.

4.  Beth K. Vogt, at The Write Conversation, talks about See The Small Joys. Don't miss this uplifting post.

5.  So many people deal with sensitivity to dairy products (including me). I recently found this Dairy Substitution Guide on Pinterest. Even if you're not lactose intolerant, most likely you know someone who is.

Writers:  Do you ever struggle with writer's doubt? Please share how you deal with it.

Readers:  I was surprised that so many people are lactose intolerant. Where do you go for information on recipes that deal with a variety of food allergies? Please share.

Photo Credit:  David Siqueira

Monday, February 12, 2018

You CAN Enjoy Valentine's Day



With Valentine's Day approaching, people are focused on romance. Yet, while this captures the hearts, it's one small aspect of love.

What is love?

Our language doesn't differentiate between the various aspects of this word. Everything is lumped into a single descriptive word, "love."

In Scripture, the original Greek has several words:

Eros - to describe physical love.

Phileo - the friendship type of love.

Agape - the God kind of love. This love isn't based on the performance of the other party. It's unconditional. It's the love that brought Jesus to this earth as the second Adam.

Unlike the original man, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, free from the curse. He then took all of humanity's sin and paid the ultimate price on the cross.

Imagine how unsatisfying a love story would be if it ended at that point. While the cross left all the disciples' hopes and dreams shattered, the resurrection changed everything. The lover of their soul was alive and gave them new vision for the future.

Even if you don't have a special someone in your life, you can celebrate the love Jesus has for you. My sweetheart went to heaven 10 years ago, but Jesus is with me every moment. If you don't know Him, please email or message me. I'll be happy to share how you can have this special relationship.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Writers and Readers:  What are your thoughts on Valentine's Day?

Photo Credit:  Michal Koralewski