Monday, December 24, 2018

Jesus - The Reason For The Season


As a child, I enjoyed everything about Christmas and the preparations for it. Lights were put around our living room window, wreaths were hung, cards written, and the biggest thrill of all - putting up the tree.

My mother's stories of how my grandfather made little scenes for under the tree inspired my own efforts. I'd cut people, houses, and winter scenes from old cards and prop them up on the snowy skirt surrounding its base. We also purchased miniature skaters, skiers, and a mirror that became a pond. One year, we found a cardboard village in the Sears catalog and added that to the collection.

There were some things that took center stage. The Nativity Scene which held my interest for hours, bringing to mind the true reason for the season. My mother always had records playing of beloved Christmas Carols. I knew every one of them by heart and probably drove everyone crazy as I belted them out non-stop.

Those early years and non-verbal lessons helped prepare my heart for the experience of knowing Jesus as my Savior. At the tender age of nine, I went to the altar and gave Him my heart and life.

I'll be taking a blog break until Monday, January 7, 2019. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Writers and Readers: I've never forgotten those precious times. How do you bring Jesus into your Christmas celebrations? Please share.

Here's one of my favorite Christmas songs:

Photo Credit:  Debbie Schiel

Friday, December 21, 2018

Non-Verbal/Cool Cat/Inspiring Child/Devo/Conversation Starters

Christmas kitten

1.  Margie Lawson posts at Writers in the Storm on subtext in your writing. Now, don't run for the hills, writers and readers. There's a fun quiz to see how much you know about non-verbal communication.

2.  Both non-fiction and fiction writers often get speaking gigs. Cathy Lamb, at Writers in the Storm, teaches us about "Being a Cool Cat While Making Presentations." I loved her ideas and think you will find them valuable as well.

3.  Faithwire shares the story of a young girl who lost everything in the  California fire. She held a toy drive for needy kids. Don't miss this heartwarming story.

4.  Christian Headlines shares an Instagram post by Joanna Gaines. It's a reminder from her daughter to have childlike faith.

5.  I found this post before Thanksgiving, but thought, "Hey, these questions would work well for Christmas dinners. Chad Allen gives 5 questions that are fun conversation starters.

Writers: Are you also a speaker? If so, how do you keep an audience's attention?

Readers:  Can you think of some dinner conversation starters that won't start a war? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Rachel Kirk

Monday, December 17, 2018

On My Kindle - To The Moon and Back by Kathi Macias

To the Moon and Back by [Macias, Kathi]

Rachel Beckwith cares for her disabled husband, but has a harder and harder time with the simple tasks of life. She becomes more reclusive with every passing day, afraid to venture outside for fear of becoming lost.

Her husband, Pete, blames Rachel for his condition. Bitterness and resentment mark his every interaction with her. He can't understand why she's become so inept at keeping house or taking care of him.

Author Kathi Macias does a masterful job at portraying this family and the challenges they go through dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. Her tender treatment of the relationship dynamics and the hope infused through relationship with the Lord and the community make this especially heart warming.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. Alzheimer's and dementia are  a growing problem in this country as the population ages. The story promotes both understanding and encouragement for those who act as caregivers.

Five Stars!

Disclaimer: I picked up this book on a free promotional day. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine and  mine alone.

Writers:  Have you ever considered/used a character in your stories with a disability? Please share.

Readers: How do you feel about books that deal with real-life i

Friday, December 14, 2018

Writers Block/Editing/Heartbeat Bill/Devo/Reader Gifts

Spiral Bound Notebook 1

1. Tammy Karasek posts at The Write Conversation. Are you having trouble putting words on paper? She has some great suggestions on how to break through it.

2. Barbara Linn Probst gives us an excellent tutorial on how to eliminate unnecessary words from our manuscripts. She also gives examples of when to keep words that show up often. Check out her post at Writer Unboxed.

3. The Ohio House has voted to ban abortions once there is a detectable fetal heartbeat. There are enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill. However, Governor John Kasich has opposed the bill and will not sign it. The President of the Senate is considering holding the vote until the new governor, Mike Dewine, takes office. He has pledged to sign the bill. Check out the article at Breaking Christian News.

4.  Dena Netherton posts about healthy habits, which includes her daily quiet time. I'm always interested in how people like to study the Word.

5.  We've seen a lot of posts on gifts for writers, but what about readers? Besides the obvious gift of books, here are some suggestions at Best Products. (Note: I don't endorse all the products, but 98% are okay.)

Writers and Readers:  What is on your writer or reader Wish List for this Christmas?

Photo Credit: Doctor-a

Monday, December 10, 2018

On My Kindle - Roswell's Secret by Vannetta Chapman

I recently reviewed the first book in this series, Coyote's Revenge. Both of these books come under the heading of, "Thriller." The second book, "Roswell's Secret," follows Agent Dean Dreiser.

He's more than a little perturbed when his boss assigns Dr. Lucinda Brown to work with him on a case of biological attack. He sees her as a newbie agent with zero experience in the field. How is she ever going to help him without getting them both killed? He also didn't figure on her being an attractive Latina, brilliant scientist.

Lucinda Brown is on a mission to prevent a biologic attack. She'd seen close up what it could do to a person. When she's paired with Dean, she views him as the exact kind of person she didn't want to love.

The research that went into this book had to be staggering. Vannetta Chapman sure did her homework, and the results are apparent in the vivid details.

I would have liked to see a stronger spiritual thread. Lucinda had what the author called, "second sight." She would see things before they happened. Other than that and some references to the characters praying (even though they weren't sure they believed), the story was skinny when it came to God being involved. It is a clean read, but did have one mild expletive.

If you're into heart-stopping suspense, this series is a winner. I'm giving it five stars for technical excellence and four stars for story content.

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

Writers:  How involved is God in the life of your characters? How do you strike a balance between making them realistic in their struggles yet strong in their faith?

Readers:  When reading Christian fiction, does it bother you when there's minimal spiritual content? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tips for Pantsers/Blog Ideas/Archaeological Find/Devo/Peanut Butter Cookies

Keyboard 3

1.  Donna L. H. Smith gives some great tips for non-plotters (or pantsers). If you keep these basic story elements in mind, you can write a novel that will capture the interest of readers.

2.  After blogging for over 10 years, it's sometimes hard to come up with new ideas. Katy Kauffman posts at The Write Conversation about 30 Ideas for a Blog Series.

3.  I'm fascinated by archaeological finds that support the Biblical record. Breaking Israel News reports on an inscription with the full name of Jerusalem.

4.  Sometimes we take this gift of the written word for granted, whether we're writers or readers. Audrey Frank posts at The Write Conversation. My heart melted reading this encouraging devotion. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

5.  Wow, Christmas is right around the corner. Are you ready? I'm getting there. Tomorrow, my friend and I plan to bake cookies. Here's a video recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free peanut butter cookies from Allrecipes.

Writers:  I think Donna L. H. Smith's tips for non-plotters are excellent even if you are a plotter. She goes over basic story elements that are valuable for every writer. Which tip was your favorite and why?

Readers:  Do you have a favorite cookie recipe that you make every year? Please share. (We'd be grateful for a link if it's available on the internet.)

Photo Credit:  Michael Faes

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Writing Process: Looking Through The Eyes of a Pantser

computer keyboard

I'm working on the second book in my newest series. As I wrote the first book, I saw the possibilities for the continuing story. An interesting character and situation grabbed my attention. Ideas began forming and taking shape. As I started, everything seemed fuzzy and I wasn't sure how they'd work out.

I'm still not sure!

You see, I'm what is called, "a pantser." I don't have elaborate outlines, character sheets, or plot points. Instead the story plays out as I write and ask myself:

1.  What if my character's greatest desire is out of his/her reach?
2.  How does he/she overcome the obstacles thrown at them?
3.  And, of course, "God, where do I go from here?"

While I may not have the whole story embedded in my brain, I do have more than an inkling of what I want to communicate. The blurb for the first book is:

"A runaway preacher and a runaway boy discover there's no place like home."

As a writer, there are several things I keep in mind:

1.  No backstory for the first 30 pages or so.
2.  Raise story questions in the reader's mind.
3.  What is the character's goal and what is trying to stop him/her from achieving it?
4.  When is the "big reveal - the story climax?"
5.  What is the takeaway for the reader?

Whether you plot every line or fly by the seat of your pants, writing a novel is:

1.  Exciting
2.  Exhilerating
3.  Exhausting.

Writers:  Whether fiction or non-fiction, what does your writing process look like?

Readers:  What do you consider is the most important element in a story?

Photo Credit:  Shamseer Sureash Kermar

Friday, November 30, 2018

Your Song/Research/Pro-Life/Devo/Christmas Cards


1.  This is not the usual writing advice found in this section of Weekend Potpourri. Emme Gannon's post at The Write Conversation resonated with me, and I wanted to share it with all of you. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

2.  Research is a vital part of writing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction. Dan Koboldt posts at Jane Friedman's blog, giving some examples of research gone wrong. He then provides advice on how to make sure you're information is accurate.

3.  Breaking Christian News highlights the theme of this year's pro-life rally, "Pro-Life Is Pro-Science." This thorough article shows the science behind the pro-life position.

4.  Whatever creative endeavors you enjoy, there comes a time when it seems to die. Take heart as you read Dena Netherton's post, "The Source of the Harvest."

5.  I'm nostalgic for the Christmas celebrations of my childhood. I found this site that offers information on vintage Christmas cards. My mother would collect all the cards and then tape them around the large mirror over our couch. We used any additional cards to decorate the opening between the living room and dining area.

Writers and Readers: Are you sending out Christmas cards this year? Please share.

Photo Credit: Irenels

Monday, November 26, 2018

On My Kindle - Coyote's Revenge by Vannetta Chapman

book cover of Coyote\'s Revenge

Madison Hart takes a job in another state to fulfill a promise made to her dying mother. A harrowing plane ride ends with meeting a mysterious Good Samaritan. While she finds him attractive, his strange disappearances make her wary. He's probably like all the other men she's dated, abandoning her when life gets tough.

Aiden Lewis is a government agent trying to prevent a massive terror attack. His cool head during dangerous situations earned him the nickname, "Iceman." For years, he's tried to make up for his perceived failure to save his father's life. Madison is the first woman to reach his heart. Can he convince her of his love even though his mission must remain a secret?

I've always associated Vanetta Chapman with her Amish novels. When I saw she'd branched out into Romantic Suspense, I decided to give her books a try. Wow! This lady knows how to write an excellent suspense story. After finishing Coyote, I started her second book in the series.

5 Stars for this book - you won't want to put it down.

Writers:  If you write fiction, have you considered tackling another genre? Please share.

Readers:  When one of your favorite authors switches gears and presents a new type of story, do you give it a try? Why? Why not?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Setting/Subtext/China/Dating Advice/Leftovers

food 2

1.  For me, setting is one of the most difficult elements of writing a novel. I came across an excellent article on the Writer's Digest website. It's great for writers at all levels.

2.  Lisa Hall-Wilson writes on, "4 Ways To Replace Dialogue With Subtext." This article gives valuable tips on how to strengthen deep point of view. Newbies, don't be put off by the title. You can master this even as a beginner.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on a crackdown of religious expression in China. 300 Chinese schoolchildren were instructed to fill out a form and specify, "no religion."

4.  Lynn J. Simpson not only provides sound advice on dating, but also shares some of her exquisite photos.

5.  Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the United States. Many of us enjoy the turkey and stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer to use that term), but how do we make it appetizing day 2, 3, and 4? Food Network  gives some interesting recipes. I particularly like the one with stuffing bites and cranberry pesto. 

Writers:  Which writing article did you find most helpful and why?

Readers:  What special holiday foods were on your Thanksgiving table this year?

Photo Credit:  Elvis Santana

Monday, November 19, 2018

We Gather Together

Thanksgiving Dining Room Table

Growing up, I remember the public school plays we did to celebrate various holidays. For Thanksgiving, we dressed as Pilgrims and Indians and sang songs like, "We Gather Together."  The Word of God was honored and kids grew up knowing right from wrong.

My late husband went into the Navy during the Vietnam era. He recalled the teachers having a Bible on their desk, as well as prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance being a normal start to the day. Even though he wasn't a believer back then, he was shocked at how things had changed when he returned years later. The Bible and prayer had been kicked out of the public schools. He couldn't comprehend how Christians had allowed such a thing to happen.

Today, there's a ray of hope. The Sleeping Giant (believers in Jesus) is finally waking up. They're no longer silent in the public square and exercising their right to vote.

It's time to return to God - each individual and ultimately our nation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Writers and Readers: Do you set aside part of your Thanksgiving celebration to express your gratitude to the Lord? Please share.

Photo Credit: David Sinofksy

Friday, November 16, 2018

FB Groups/Pantsers/Christian Athlete/Devo/Thanksgiving Crafts

Thanksgiving Table

1.  Book promotion is a tough job for most authors. If you're about to launch your book, whether traditionally published or self-published, Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, has some tips on using Facebook groups.

2. As a "pantser" myself, this article caught my eye. Donna LH Smith posts on, "Plotting 4 Pantsers-Part II."

3. Christian Headlines highlights Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. It's refreshing to see a young man open about his faith.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation,  posts on "The Truth About the Size of Our Prayer Requests."

5.  I found some unique and fun ideas on Martha Stewart's website for Thanksgiving. Check out the clip art and templates for place cards, etc.

Writers and Readers:  What do you think of Facebook groups for readers and writers? Are they interesting, helpful? Have they influenced your purchasing decisions?

Photo Credit: monmart

Monday, November 12, 2018

On My Kindle - Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

Unlike most of the Christian Fiction I read, this story is character driven rather than story driven. Christa Parrish does a fabulous job exploring the internal struggles of Liesl McNamara, an expert bread maker.

Liesl's entire identity is wrapped up in her love for the craft. It's her way of avoiding the deeper issues of life and connecting with the people around her. When Seamus and his six-year-old daughter, Cecelia, enter her life, she senses the stirrings of true caring.

Just when her life seems to be taking a positive turn, a revelation concerning her past nearly destroys her. Will she move forward or be forever stuck in the past?

The author's insightful dialogue, both external and internal, made me think about how we process our life experiences. There are strong spiritual threads throughout the book as the character searches for her purpose in life.

In addition, Christa gave a delightful view of running a bakery and the art versus the business of food. Readers drawn to the foodie world will find delight in the many intricate recipes for bread.

If you're looking for a change of pace from romantic suspense, this story will provide some different views on life and love.

5 Stars for an excellent, well-written story.

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

Writers: Have you every considered writing a character-driven novel, short story, or article? Please share.

Readers: This book has other characters, but everything is seen through Liesl's eyes. Do you enjoy this type of story or prefer more action/adventure with multiple character point of views? Please share.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Unmet Need/Settling In To Write/Program for Kids/Coffee and Faith/Recipe


1.  Here's an excellent post by Angela Ackerman at Writers in The Storm. "What's Stronger Than Your Character's Fear? Their Unmet Need."

2.  Kristi Holl writes about her experiences of Settling in to Write. This is dear to my heart since I'm breaking out of the doldrums and writing my next book.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports that Samaritan's Purse (Franklin Graham's ministry) has a special program for kids in warn-torn Iraq. Many of them have seen their parents and their playmates murdered. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read this story to learn more about the ministry.

4.  Rhonda Rhea posts at The Write Conversation about Coffee and Faith - Sweet and Strong.

5.  There's nothing quite like the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking on a chilly, Fall day. Averie Cooks has a recipe for cookies made with cake mix. Two things attracted me to this recipe: 1) It's easy. 2) I can make it lactose free.

Writers:  Do you set aside time to write? How do you remain consistent?

Readers: How do you set your priorities in life?

Photo Credit:  se hui Kim

Monday, November 5, 2018

Kitchen and Blogging Adventures

Picture - Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Over the past year, I've taken on preparing the main dish for Sweetie Mom and me. It's not that I dislike cooking, but the kitchen isn't my natural habitat. Some of the things that present a challenge are:

1.  A less than functional kitchen. Small appliances are the name of the game around here, i.e., microwave, George Foreman Grill, toaster oven, electric frypan, and slow cooker. (I've got my eye on one of those Instapots.)

2.  Time. Cooking takes way too long in my opinion, and don't even get me started on the clean up.

3.  Special diets. Sweetie Mom needs low-fat, low-sodium food, while I need lactose free.

Thankfully, the internet provides an easy way to get recipes. I'm enjoying the journey these days. We've tried new foods (Roasted Red Pepper soup, coconut muffins to name a couple) and explored new stores for ingredients.

To deal with the time factor, I cook in bulk for the week. Neither of us mind leftovers, so it works for us. If your family doesn't like eating this way, setting aside one day a month to do a massive cooking can reduce your daily/weekly cooking tasks. 

Years ago when I was commuting two hours each way to work, I followed this plan. A big pot of sauce, a pot roast, chicken cutlets, and a couple of other meat dishes were cooked, put in separate containers, and frozen for weeknight meals.

Blogging is a lot like cooking. What am I going to write for tomorrow's post? Since the whole food thing is taking up a considerable amount of thought, why not use that as an analogy? Daily life is great fodder for the blogger.

Like so many life events, new responsibilities (and old ones) move me to pray. I've been sitting here in front of the computer, asking the Lord to give me ideas for this blog. This subject is one that popped up.

I've discovered my life goes a lot smoother when I stay in close touch with The Greatest Creative Genius of all, my Lord. Whether cooking, working, blogging, writing, etc., He's my constant source of inspiration.

With the holidays fast approaching, make time for Him, and He'll show you how to remain at peace and experience joy whether or not the tasks are easy for you. Dive in and give it all you've got, praising Him and loving your family.

Writers and Readers: What are some of your greatest stress points during the holidays? How do you cope with them?

Photo: Roasted Red Pepper Soup - Copyright@Susan J. Reinhardt

Friday, November 2, 2018

Editing Tips/What It Takes/Christians in China/Devo/Vintage Doilies


1.  I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing. Julie Glover, at Writers in The Storm, give some easy edits to make your story flow better.

2. Are you a wanna-be-writer or newbie writer? You'll want to read this honest and blunt post by Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, on what it takes to reach your publication goals.

3.  Christian Headlines shares the latest news on what's happening with Christians in China. I never want to take for granted the freedom to worship. We are truly blessed and need to protect that right vigorously.

4. MaryAnn Diorio posts on, "Is Fear Quenching Your Faith."

5. Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, shares the beautiful vintage doilies she found at a recent sale. These made me so nostalgic. I still have some my Mom crocheted years ago. A friend made one for a wedding gift, which I have on one of my nightstands. They're so pretty, and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into them.

Writers:  Which editing tip helped you the most (either in this article or elsewhere)?

Readers:  Do you have any vintage pieces from your family? Please share.

Photo Credit: Zsuzsa N.K.

Monday, October 29, 2018

ON MY KINDLE - The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Lady Elizabeth Stirling's life seems idyllic to those on the outside, but her dictatorial father makes it miserable. With growing unrest in the colonies, their loyalty to England's king puts them in danger.

Noble Rynallt is one of the fiery Independence Men. When Elizabeth's fiancé and his cousin presses him into escorting her to a ball, he agrees. Perhaps he could glean some information about the Tories and their plans.

Neither expect their lives to take a drastic turn. When Elizabeth's father and his Tory friends flee, she finds herself alone with nowhere to turn. Her fiancé has abandoned her because her dowry was no longer available. The only one who cares what happens to her is the kindhearted Independence Man.

I've read several of Laura Frantz's books set in the early days of Kentucky and enjoyed them. The Colonial/Revolutionary War setting provided a pleasant change.

Apart from the love story, the enormity of what our forefathers endeavored with God's help came through in living color. The odds of beating the most powerful nation on earth seemed insurmountable. The author created characters and did a masterful job of inserting them into the historical events.

I'm giving this book five stars. If you love American History, you'll find this covers a much-neglected area in fiction.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a positive review. As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you ever considered writing a historical novel in this time period? Please share.

Readers:  Would you like to see more Christian Fiction set during this time period? Why/why not?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Manuscript Cleaning/How Long?/Archaeology/Devo/Recipe


1. After the dizzying joy of writing, "The End," to a manuscript comes the dreaded task of editing and revising it. Zoe M. McCarthy gives tips for cleaning up your manuscript prior to sending it to a paid editor (which is highly recommended).

2.  Have you ever wondered how long it should take to write a book? Merilyn Simonds tackles this question on Jane Friedman's blog.

3. Breaking Christian News reports on archaeological evidence confirming the location of Biblical Sodom. It's where the Bible says it was.

4. I chuckled over Rhonda Rhea's devotional on The Write Conversation. She talks about God's Spiritual Routine.

5.  OK, so how can I skip into November without a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe? The answer is, "I can't." Averie Cooks has a yummy version, which she calls, "Accidentally Vegan." For me, it's great because there's no butter and I can use a non-dairy milk. I've printed this one out and hope to make it soon.

Writers:  How long does it take you to write a book (or article)? Please share.

Readers:  What did you take away from Rhonda Rhea's devotional?

Photo Credit:  Justine FG

Monday, October 22, 2018

On My Kindle - Chasing the Music by Mark Alan Leslie

Chasing the Music by [Leslie, Mark Alan]

Dr. Katherine "Kat"  Cardova, a world-renowned archaeologist, vows to continue the work of a colleague almost killed by a terrorist group. She's desperate to get to the dig where he made a startling discovery, but doesn't have the necessary transportation.

Max Braxton arrives in Israel, hoping to write a book and decide what he wants to do in the future. When Kat approaches him, he agrees to get her to the site. He's intrigued by this stunning redhead and her thirst for adventure.

Neither could imagine the dangers facing them as a terror network targets anyone trying to find the ancient artifact critical to the building of the Third Temple. With the expertise they both possess, their contacts in the Israeli government and military, and God's hand on their search, they weather the most frightening weeks of their lives.

I had to chuckle that I picked up a novel with an archaeological theme. I'd  forgotten what this book was about since I bought it quite a while ago.

The pace of this story was blistering from the get-go. The strong spiritual thread, the budding romance, and the mystery hit all my favorite elements. I'll be looking for more of Mr. Mark Alan  Leslie's books.

I'm giving Chasing the Music five stars.

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

Writers: When writing suspense, do you jump right into the action or let it build?

Readers:  When reading suspense, do you like non-stop action or do you want a breather in between?

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/

bald head 1

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