Friday, October 19, 2018

Writing Tips/Character Interviews/Faith Problem/Devo/Fall Activities

Autumn in New York 3

1.  Laurie Schnebly Campbell guest posts at Writers in The Storm on the subject of plot,  character and genre. This is a must-read for both aspiring and more experienced novelists.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about Writing Character Interviews for Promotions. This can be a valuable tool in your marketing plan.

3. Christian Headlines reports that a Jacksonville, FL City Councilman said after a mass shooting that America has a "faith problem."

This reminds me of Pastor/Author/Teacher Jonathan Cahn's assertion that America is on borrowed time. We don't need a revival. We need another great awakening. I'm glad more people are talking about the root problem in our country.

4.  Sarah van Diest posts at The Write Conversation on, "Created for Truth." One of the areas I've been dealing with head on is fear and worry. They are both tools of the enemy of our souls. We've been given the ability to overcome both of them.

5.  Colin, at Hip2Save, shares some fun activities for the family during the Fall season. The best part? Most of them are FREE!

Writers:  Have you ever done a character interview? Did it help you promote your book? Please share.

Readers:  What fun activities have you done with your family this Fall?

Photo Credit:  Piotr Bizlor

Monday, October 15, 2018

On My Kindle - Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Beyond All Dreams by [Camden, Elizabeth]

Anna O'Brien loves her job as a map librarian at the Library of Congress. In the course of her work, she comes upon a mystery. Her attempts to get answers brings the wrath of the Navy Department down on her, and she's ordered to cease and desist her investigation.

Luke Callahan rises to prominence as a Congressman from Maine, but his career takes a severe hit when a scandal surrounds him. He enlists Anna's help with some research and soon can't get her out of his mind.

Dating a Congressman got one of Anna's co-workers fired, and she's terrified of the risks. With each passing day, her feelings for the fiery Luke Callahan grow stronger. His willingness to help her get answers only strengthens them. Will the two of them succeed in their quest or will they both go down in flames?

Elizabeth Camden did a great job with her historical research, as well as her character arcs. Both Luke and Anna managed to gain my sympathy and alternately my annoyance as they traveled down the road to romance. An author who can elicit that type of emotional response has done their job well.

I'm giving this book four stars only because the pacing got bogged down in spots. Still, it was an enjoyable read. If you like historical romance, I think you'll find it entertaining.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review (or any review). All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers: Have you tried your hand at historical romance? Please share.

Readers: What kind of careers would you like to see represented in fiction?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Writer Voice/Discouragement/Possible Cure/Inspiring Post/Recipe

Man with a megaphone 2
1.  For all you newbie writers and for those still confused about writer voice, Lisa Hall-Wilson clarifies its meaning.

2.  Janet Sketchley posts at the Seriously Write blog about discouragement and thoughts of quitting her writing.

3. Cancer is a horrible scourge, so any news pointing to a possible cure produces great hope. Breaking Christian News reports on development of a drug for acute myeloid leukemia.

My husband died from the acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a different form of the disease. Please pass this information along to anyone who is suffering or has a loved one battling leukemia.

4. Dena Netherton volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center. In this post, she gives a glimpse of her activities. She may never know the full impact of her work, but she knows God is weaving the threads into a bigger tapestry.

5. I don't know about you, but I love pasta salads. Unfortunately, most of them require mayonnaise or creamy dressings, which I can't eat. Averie Cooks came up with a Skinny Italian Pasta Salad recipe that I just printed out. If you try it, please let me know if it's as tasty as it looks.

Writers:  Have you ever been confused about "writer voice?" What is your definition?

Readers:  Which topics in the Friday posts speak to you? I'd be interested in your feedback. :)

Photo Credit:  Bartek Ambrozik

Monday, October 8, 2018

On My Nightstand - Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel


Mr. Hoesel is a new-to-me author, and I was quite taken with his storytelling. The book promised a lot of action, but started off slowly. Once it got started, though, it was hang-onto-your-hat time. It reminded me of that slow ascent on a roller coaster before the huge drop, twists, and turns.

Elisha's Bones is a Jack Hawthorne mystery. The archaeologist is hired to find the bones of the prophet, Elisha, due to their ability to raise people from the dead. Jack never figured his life would be in danger on such an assignment. He and his former girlfriend, Esperanza, embark on a multi-continent search.

One thing is crystal clear: There's no going back to his normal life as a college professor until the mystery is solved and those trying to kill him are brought to justice.

I'm giving this book 5 Stars for its action and suspense. An Amazon search is in order for his other books (to add to my already long TBR list!).

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

Writers and Readers: How long do you stay with a book that doesn't seem to be going anywhere in the first couple of chapters?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Writing How-To/Reader Take-Away/Avoiding Compromise/Devo/Recipe


1. I don't often find quality blog posts for the non-fiction writer, but this one caught my attention. If you're interested in writing How-To books, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, at Jane Friedman's blog, gives 5 Steps to Writing Better How-To.

2. When I was writing non-fiction, a key principle involved giving the reader a take-away. Katy Kauffman posts at The Write Conversation and gives tips on how of  accomplish this.

3. Pamela Christian wrote a blog post called, "Reformation Without Compromise." We've all seen the slugfests on Facebook and other social media. Pamela points to the Word and shows us the alternative way to express our viewpoints. This was well worth the read.

4. Emme Gannon, at The Write Conversation, talks about, "The Radiance of the Humble Writer." While directed toward writers, the principles can apply to anyone.

5.  It's fall, and everything is about pumpkin: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and even (gasp!)) pumpkin cereal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to the deluge of pumpkin recipes. In fact, I found an easy one for pumpkin bread that I'm going to try. Check out the details on Food Network.

Writers:  Take-aways are important in non-fiction. What was your favorite tip from items 1 and 2?

Readers:  What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? If you have a link, feel free to include it in your comment.

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Schacht

Monday, October 1, 2018

On My Nightstand - A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England Book #1) by [White, Roseanna M.]

Rosemary Gresham, orphaned as a child and a "street rat," joined with 11 other homeless kids and found a way to survive. When a mysterious stranger offers her a huge amount of money to discover proof an individual was a traitor to Great Britain, she jumps at the opportunity.

Peter Holstein, a man who befriended King George, is looked upon with suspicion due to an impending war and his German heritage. He must find documents attesting to his British citizenship and loyalty to the crown. When Rosemary shows up at his door and applies for the job of librarian, he senses she is God's answer to his prayers.

He's also a renowned novelist, writing under a pen name. How will these two people, working against each other, ultimately discover common ground and a future in a world torn apart by war?

I have to say that Ms. White comes up with some amazing storylines. She highlights the  horrible conditions orphans suffered through in England during the Edwardian period. Although her character is a master thief, she has a heart that wants to provide for her younger charges.

Peter, as a strong Christian, provides the spiritual thread and answers many of Rosemary's questions. While he is supposed to be only several years older than her, I had to keep reminding myself that he wasn't an old man. Perhaps his wisdom contributed to that impression.

As a writer myself, I'm fascinated when a character is an author. His methods for crafting a story resonated with me. I chuckled at how he took observances from real life and incorporated them into his manuscript.

Roseanna M. White has produced another winner. This is the first book of her Shadows Over England  Series. I can't wait to read the other books.

5 Stars all the way!

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

Writers:  Do you observe the various characteristics of people and use that knowledge to craft your characters? Please share.

Readers:  Do you like stories that question the status quo and make you think? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Social Media/Writer Encouragement/Socialism/Devo/Declutter

Free image for you seo or web marketing blog or site!

1. Social Media is a necessity for authors and Write Conversation writers, but how can you determine which ones work for you. Edie Melson, at  The Write Conversation, talks about "Finding Your Social Media Easy Button."

2. Not everyone will love your articles/books. Julie Glover, at Writers in the Storm, shares some facts and surprising reviews of well-known stories.

3. Many Americans are flirting with socialism these days. Yahoo News reports on socialism in Venezuela. It's not pretty.

4. Do you sometimes wonder if your words matter? Whether you're a professional writer or not, they do. Sarah Van Diest posts at The Write Conversation and urges us to go, write, and love.

5.  'Tis the season to declutter! Hip2Save and its readers have some great advice for curating your stuff. I particularly liked the suggestion to clear one room at a time. This way I don't feel like the entire house is a wreck.

Writers:  Have you found your social media, "easy button?" Please share.

Readers:  Which link was your favorite this week? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Luissosorio

Monday, September 24, 2018

Does What I Do Matter?

letters 1 (YES)

Now there's a question many have asked themselves. Somehow it isn't enough to engage in an activity, whether it's writing or something else, unless it has a positive impact on the world around us.

Think about it:

1.  Medical students want to help people get well.
2.  Researchers want to find a cure for a deadly disease.
3.  Volunteers want to aid the less fortunate.
4.  Others want to stop human trafficking.
5.  And writers, ah, yes, writers want to raise awareness of social ills, share the Gospel, and a whole host of other topics.

Writing for publication can take a long time. Learning the craft, practicing, receiving critiques, finding out the intricacies of the business side, platform building, and other aspects can be daunting.

How many times have I asked:

"Why am I putting myself through this?"
"Is it worthwhile?"
"Are my words impacting lives?"

Then, I recall the day I asked the Lord if He truly wanted me on this path. I'd married and moved to another state. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to connect with the Christian writing community in my area. Being a newbie, I had no idea how to proceed.

Within a half hour - A HALF HOUR - I received a call from a local writer inviting me to a writers group. It's not often that answers come that fast, and it made me sit up and take notice.

Throughout the years, I've seen the Lord level writing mountains. My part is to be faithful to the call, and let Him move in the hearts of readers.

Writers and Readers:  When preparation for a ministry or career seems endless, how do you stay motivated?

Photo Credit:  Stephen Tainton

Friday, September 21, 2018

Self-Publishing/Finish Writing/Vote/Devo/Fall Recipe

Coffee cup

1.  With so many authors self-publishing, I thought this piece by Jane Friedman might provide useful insights on what mistakes to avoid.

2.  Are you struggling with finishing your work in progress? Bryan Hutchinson, at Positive Writer, talks about, "How To Get Past Excuses and Finish Your Writing."

3. Breaking Christian News reported on Dr. James Dobson's urgent call for Christians to vote in the upcoming elections or face losses of freedom as seen in Canada.

4. Maria Morgan asks, "Are you distracted?" We're so accustomed to multi-tasking that we've forgotten how to focus on what's important.

5. With summer heat giving way to cooler temperatures, many of us are thinking about baking again. I found this recipe at Food Network for Apple Crisp, and thought you might like to try it. Happy eating!

Writers:  What did you take away from Jane Friedman's post on self-publishing mistakes to avoid?

Readers:  Does the desire to bake hit you when the weather is cool? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Aleksey Lisovsky

Monday, September 17, 2018

On My Nightstand - A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

A Lady Unrivaled (Ladies of the Manor Book #3) by [White, Roseanna M.]

It's important to note this is the final book of the Ladies of the Manor trilogy. The Lost Heiress and The Reluctant Duchess will enrich your reading experience with A Lady Unrivaled.

The author kept the momentum going with A Lady Unrivaled. Lady Ella Myerston was by far my favorite heroine with her sweet disposition and optimistic viewpoint. Although she often trusted to a fault, she eventually gained wisdom in dealing with others.

Lord James Cayton was something of a cad, leaving two broken hearts behind him. He's changed his ways, but past friends and his own sense of guilt aren't making the transition easy. The best thing he can do is stay away from romance and keep from hurting another innocent woman.

The story is a keen reminder of how our past can affect the way we respond to current events. The strong spiritual thread in these books pointed the way to true transformation from the inside out.

The mystery of the Fire Eyes is a key component in this trilogy. The tensions and complications cause the characters to dig deep and reveals both their strengths and weaknesses. Overall, A Lady Unrivaled was my favorite of the trilogy.

Five stars for A Lady Unrivaled and the overall trilogy. I've started her latest series because I enjoyed these so much. Yes, I'm currently on a Roseanna M. White marathon. :) Her intriguing storylines always manage to hook me.

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

Writers and Readers:  Does a strong Christian take-away influence your choice of fiction? Please share.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Batching/Writing Through Hard Times/China/Devo/Shopping

Tear Drop

1.  Cathy Baker posts at The Write Conversation about a time-management system called, "Batching," and how it inspires creativity.
2.  Kimberley Woodhouse posts at Seriously Write about how to write through life's hard times.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports that the church in China is living another chapter of the Book of Acts in spite of increasing pressure.

4.  Wendy Pope, at Crosscards, shares how her life became complete when she not only received Jesus but fully included Him into her happily-ever-after.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, shares her shopping adventures while on vacation. What kinds of items do you buy when on holiday?

Writers:  How do you maintain your writing productivity during life's hard times?

Readers:  What are some of your favorite things to do while on vacation?

Photo Credit:  Torli Roberts

Monday, September 10, 2018

On My Nightstand - The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna White


Lady Rowena Kinnaird wants to escape the clutches of her abusive father and equally abusive suitor. She's thinking about running away, but she knows they will come after her.

Brice, the Duke of Nottingham, and a devout Christian, visits his family's estate in Scotland. So far, he's dodged the efforts of society's mamas to snag him for their daughters. When circumstances throw him and Lady Rowena together, he's less than happy.

This is the second book in the Ladies of the Manor Series by Roseanna White. I strongly suggest you read, "The Lost Heiress," first. You can skip it, but you'll be missing a rather lovely chunk of this trilogy.

The author did a magnificent job with the historical details and the Edwardian time period. Like many historical romances, the story gives a picture of the social norms. It made me glad I live in this day and age.

That said, I enjoyed this riveting story of a woman trapped by awful circumstances and how she eventually comes to terms with them. Add in a delicious mystery, and you've got a real winner. I'm giving it five stars.

I'm reading the third book, "A Lady Unrivaled," right now. I'll be reviewing this book as well in an upcoming post.

P.S. Isn't this a gorgeous cover? It's my favorite of the series.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment from either the author or the publisher for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. 

Writers:  This trilogy has a common thread running through it. Have you considered writing a series that keeps the reader wanting to find out what happened? Please share.

Readers:  Do you prefer stand-alone novels or series? A number of people said they were sorry to see my Moses Trilogy end as they'd become attached to the characters. What has been your experience with series books?

Friday, September 7, 2018

Too Old?/Platform Building/Girls/Devo/Autumn Activities

Autumn Colors

1. Someone said, "I'm too old to write." Kristi Holl debunks this myth in her blog post.

2. Zoe M. McCarthy asks, "Is all this writers platform building going to pay off?"

3.  Christian Headlines reports that Teen Vogue tells Girls, "Abortion Can Be Funny."

4. What do Sandal-Ready Feet and Walking in Faith have in common? Check out this devotional by Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation.

5.  Autumn is around the corner. TeacherVision lists some resources for seasonal activities. If you or someone you know homeschool or you just want some fun things for your kids or the grandkids, check out this site.

Writers:  When did you begin platform building and what types do you focus on?

Readers:  What are your favorite autumn activities and why?\

Photo Credit:  Brian Lary

Monday, September 3, 2018

Happy Labor Day!

tech job 2

Labor Day is a two-fold celebration: 

1.  The end of summer.

2.  A day off from work.

It was made a Federal holiday in 1894, but was celebrated as early as 1882 in New York City. Canada also recognizes Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

Unlike other holidays, its only purpose is to honor the average working Joe and Jane for their contributions to the nation. I found this link at Office that gives the history in more detail.

So, to my many hard-working friends, whether you're a writer or in some other occupation, rest from your labors and have a Happy Labor Day.

Writers and Readers: How do you celebrate Labor Day? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Odan Jasper

Friday, August 31, 2018

Deep POV/Novel Pacing/Recall/Devo/

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1.  Lisa Hall-Wilson, at Beyond the Basics, talks about how to get inside your characters' heads and make readers care. There are some interesting quotes from Ted Dekker.

2.  Yup, this is Lisa Hall-Wilson week here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection. In this post, she talks about the Pace of Your Novel. This is one I'll have to read multiple times to fully absorb.

3.  Breaking Christian News announced a recall of Lane Cedar Chests. 14 Children have suffocated to death after being trapped in them. If you have one in your home, whether an heirloom or newer, please read this post for information and instructions.

4.  Adelee Russell, at Rewritten talks about, "How Far Will You Go?" When God is moving you to take a step of faith, will you do it?

5.  As a reader, I sometimes come across a word or phrase that startles me. "Did they even use that terminology in this time period?" I had a question this week about the phrase, "piece of work." It was used in a derogatory sense. I looked it up online and found a website, Word, that answered my question.

Writers and Readers:  Which link was your favorite this week and why?

Photo Credit:  Cecilia Picco

Monday, August 27, 2018

Interview and Giveaway! Jeanette Levellie and The Heart of Humor

Usually, I focus on fiction, but today, Jeanette Levellie is visiting Christian Writer/Reader Connection with her book, "The Heart of Humor."

Check out the giveaway details at the end of this post.

1.  Susan: You have several books to your credit. When and how did the desire to write take root in your heart?

As a child I loved to make books by writing stories and "binding" them with a cardboard cover. When I was in my twenties, I had several poems and a couple of articles published, then set aside that desire to focus on homeschooling my kids. When they were teenagers, I began writing for publication again.

At a Christian writers conference in 2009 I realized I wanted to make a career of writing. When I told the Lord that, He replied, "You can't do this by yourself." That was five books ago, and He's been faithful to bring a boatload of friends - including you - to help me navigate this wild ride!

Susan: Thanks, Jen. I don't know what I'd do without my writer buddies.

2.  Susan:  What was the most exciting part of your writing journey?

When I got my first book contract in 2011 for Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top. Although I've published three books since then and finished another, that first baby sent me over the moon with joy.

Susan: I fully understand. The Moses Conspiracy had the same effect on me.

3.  Susan:  What was the most challenging part of the journey so far?

Keeping my eyes on Jesus and His call on my life to show His grace and be a servant, rather than focusing on the publishing, marketing, and platform building side of writing.

Susan: There are many distractions to keep us from writing for our Audience of One.

4.  Susan:  If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?

Relax more, stress less, laugh and pray more. In spite of the fact that I write inspirational humor, I often take myself too seriously. God's not worried about the world; He's got a sure and happy plan for those who belong to Him. I need to rest in His love more.

Susan: I'm right there with you, Jen.

5.  Susan:  Last, but not least, do you have any advice for non-fiction writers?

But of course! A redhead is always ready with advice, whether she's familiar with the topic or not!

  • Ask God to help you every step of the way with divine wisdom. He's been around awhile and knows everything. He will show you the perfect path for your book and your career if you take time to listen.
  • If you don't already have a few prayer partners that you meet with regularly, get some now. As these trusted friends for advice and prayer covering, and also pray for their  needs. 
  • Read similar books in the genre you write to see what works and what doesn't.
  • Don't take yourself and all the little details that go along with your book-cover art, title, back cover blurb, etc.-too seriously. Don't ask me how I know this. That's a whole new interview!
Susan:  As always, you hit the target with your advice. It's so easy to stress out in this profession.

GIVEAWAY TIME! Jen has generously offered to give away one print copy of The Heart of Humor  to one commenter. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents. You must provide your email address in your comment, so we can contact you. The deadline for entering is Friday, August 31st. Jen will draw a name from the entries, and the winner will be announced on Monday, September 3.

You can connect with Jen at the following social media links:

"One little kind word makes a huge impact. Will you be the sunlight in someone's darkness today?" 

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


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


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 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


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


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

hands color

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


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.