Friday, June 7, 2019

Backstory/Cliches/Free Speech/Puppies/Cranberry Glass


1.  Writers in the Storm often has thorough articles about the craft, and this is no exception. Piper Bayard tackles the bugaboo of many writers: backstory. She has a unique method for eliminating it.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives One Important Reason to Limit Cliches in Your Stories. My critique partner always said that I loved cliches. It's taken quite a while to break that habit, and a few still appear in my first drafts. This is an excellent article for every writer: newbies to advanced. A refresher never hurt anyone.

3  WND reports on a court case that compromises free speech.

4.  Bonnie Leon talks about how God used her puppy to teach her an important lesson.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, shared her cranberry glass collection with readers. They are stunning. Then again, most glassware makes my heart skip a beat. I thought you might enjoy this post.

Writers: What kind of craft challenges bother you the most? Backstory? POV? Cliches? Anything else? Please share.

Readers:  Which link was your favorite this week? Why?

Photo Credit:  Rasto Belan

Monday, June 3, 2019

Blog Break

With the many demands on my time this month, I've decided to take a blog break. There will be a post on Friday, June 7th.

I'll return from my break on Monday, July 6, 2019. Have a wonderful month!

Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt

Friday, May 31, 2019

Changing English/Memoir/Conception/Devo/Miniatures

Drops Of Rain

1.  Tim Suddeth talks about how English is always changing and writers must keep up. While he's talking about current/future changes, I wince when I see modern verbiage used in historical novels. Check out his article at The Write Conversation.

2. Some of you write memoirs. Margaret McMullan posts at Jane Friedman's blog about her experience getting her book published. It's in a pleasing Q&A format.

3. Check out this video at Faithwire. There's a stunning flash of light at the moment of conception - awe-inspiring!

4.  Michael  K. Reynolds talks about the Healing Power of Rain. Are you feeling dry spiritually, check out his devotion.

5.  One of my friends loves miniatures and dollhouses. I had a simple one as a child and have always been attracted to the detail involved. Although I don't get involved in creating these wonders, I appreciate viewing the efforts of others. Recently, I discovered a blog called, "My Miniature World." I hope you enjoy this post and explore the rest of the site.

Writers:  Can you name some words that have changed meaning? Please share.

Readers:  What hobbies capture your interest even if you don't actively participate in them?

Photo Credit:  Jan Mocnak

Monday, May 27, 2019

On My Kindle - The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Chapel

Taylor Branson and Jack Forester eloped after a whirlwind courtship. Neither reckoned with how their past hurts would affect their marriage. Would they find their way back to each other or was this union doomed?

The story switches back and forth between the late 1940's-early 1950's to modern times. Jimmy and Colette declared their love for each other and planned to get married. When Uncle Sam called Jimmy and sent him to Korea, their relationship fell apart. Could love survive decades of secrets and misunderstandings or was it too late to recapture what they once enjoyed?

I've been fascinated with Rachel's character-driven stories, and this one was no exception. She digs deep into their feelings and motivations. Themes of repentance and forgiveness are woven throughout like a silk thread.

Five stars for this romantic offering that reaches into the heart and pulls you in.

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

Writers:  What type of stories do you craft? Plot driven and/or character driven?

Readers: Do you enjoy books that go beyond surface relationships? Please share.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Writing Tight/POV/Conscience/Devo/Succulents


1.  Audrey Frank posts at The Write Conversation about the Spiritual Practice of Writing Tight. I highly recommend all writers with newbie or published authors to read this. We can all benefit.

2. Zoe M. McCarthy deals with that sticky Point-of-View issue. How do you stay in a character's point of view? She gives valuable tips in a clear, concise manner.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on the President's announcement of new "Conscience Protections" for Healthcare Providers.

4.  Michael K. Reynolds encourages us to "Breathe." Are you living at the speed of sound?

5.  I'm really into succulents these days. Their shapes, colors, and easy care are a big draw for me. Hip2BeHome shares some tips on how to make these delightful plants thrive.

Writers:  What do you find confusing about Point of View?

Readers:  How do you keep up with Christian News? Can you recommend a particular site? Please share.

Photo Credit:  BSK

Monday, May 20, 2019

On My Nightstand - A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

A Song Unheard (Shadows Over England Book #2) by [White, Roseanna M.]

Willa Forsythe loves music and playing the violin. She's also an accomplished thief. When she's given an assignment to locate a key to unlock coded messages, she's ready for the challenge. Others are also looking for the mysterious key and danger stalks her every move.

Lukas De Wilde is a world renowned violinist. Wounded from his narrow escape from German-dominated Brussels, he's frantic to get news of his family. When he meets Willa, she captivates him with her quick mind and phenomenal talent.

Even while drawn to each other, Willa knows they're on a collision course that will doom the relationship. She must steel herself against getting too close or her family could be destroyed.

I can't believe I let this book sit on my To-Be-Read pile for so long, especially after reading the first book in the series (Shadows Over England). Wow! With my limited reading time, I couldn't wait to get back to this story.

Roseanna M. White knows how to create many-layered characters. The conflict and emotion leaps off the page, leaving one breathless for more. There's no way to guess how things will turn out for these two people.

If you haven't already figured it out, I'm giving this book 5 massive stars. This author is fast becoming one of my favorites.

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

Writers and Readers:  Who are some of your favorite Christian Fiction authors? Why?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Purpose/Refuel/Chik-Fil-A/Devo/Pinterest Tip

gasoline nozzle

1.  Newbie alert! Zoe M. McCarthy teaches on characters saying and doing only things that have purpose. Her examples are stellar. Don't miss this learning/refresher opportunity.

2.  Kathleen Rouser posts at Seriously Write about taking time to refuel. One of the things I did when beginning this journey was to give up most of my hobbies. I dabbled at a few here and there, but I devoted all my energies to writing. I soon found myself drained. Check out this post and give yourself the opportunity to refuel.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports that Montana's Attorney General invited Chik-Fil-A to open more restaurants in his state. Other states have openly tried to ban the fast-food giant because of their Biblical values. (I've noticed that many stores do not carry gift cards for this restaurant. The culture wars are real, people!)

4.  Rhonda Rhea, at The Write Conversation, gives a humorous analogy on grace.

5.  I'm always looking for ways to make both cooking and cleaning easier. I found this cleaning hack for the bathtub on Pinterest (of course). One Good Thing shows how Dawn Dish Detergent and a clean broom (a cheapie one from the Dollar Store) can be a game changer for those with aching knees and backs.

P.S. I tried this method with mixed results. Maybe I didn't let the Dawn Dish Detergent sit long enough, but I wasn't overly impressed with how well it cleaned my circa 1950's bathtub. I'll read the article again and give it another go. Let me know how it works for you.

Writers:  What is the most challenging aspect of dialogue for you? Please share.

Readers:  What is your favorite part of reading? The researched items? The dialogue? The storyline? Some other part? Please share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Michael Lorenzo

Friday, May 10, 2019

P.R.A.Y./Productive Writer/Persecution in China/Devo/Flowers

allium christophii plants

1.  Being stuck for words is a real bummer. I'm a writer. So how do I get past this? Tammy Karasek posts on this subject at, "The Write Conversation," using the acronym, P.R.A.Y.

2.  Julianna Baggott, at Writer Unboxed talks about three clues to be a productive writer.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on a Chinese official's statement that the government is determined to wipe out Christianity in that nation. As believers, let's remember to pray for our brothers and sisters facing persecution and death.

4.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, talks about learning the difference between her will and God's will.

5.  Last year, I couldn't do any gardening due to a shoulder injury. Now that it's healed and spring is here, I'm ready to plant FLOWERS! I'm thinking of trying some new varieties. Look at these gorgeous alliums on Plant Care Today. They're even my favorite color.

Writers:  What is your secret to being a productive writer?

Readers:  What was your favorite link this week and why?

Photo Credit:  Michael & Christa Richert

Friday, May 3, 2019

Writing Zone/Resolutions?/Pro-Life/Devo/Upcycling

write a note

1.  How do you start the writing journey? I've heard this question multiple times. Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, asks, "Have You Entered the Writing Zone?" Newbies, you'll find this helpful, and it's a good reminder to those of us who are further along in our journey.

2.  Did you make New Year's resolutions about your writing? How's that going? If you're stuck, Positive Writer gives 7 Writer Hacks.

3.  Faithwire reported in January on Ben Shapiro's address at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Science shows that life begins at conception. All the arguments for abortion are based on when life matters.

4.  Rhonda Rhea posts at The Write Conversation about Cut and Dry. There are some things you don't want to DIY!

5.  Everyone's into recycling these days. Here are some cool ideas for upcycling milk jugs. The last one caught my attention. I'm always searching for something to use as a saucer under my plants.

Writers:  Did you make any writing resolutions at the beginning of the year? How are you doing?

Readers:  Do you have any upcycling ideas? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Odan Jaeger

Monday, April 29, 2019

On My Nightstand - The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy Book #2)

Violet Lindstrom longs to serve as a missionary, but a broken engagement and WWII put a damper on those plans. The closest she can come to her heart's desire is joining the Red Cross. There's no way she will allow a romance to get in the way of her calling.

Adler Paxton, a brash but hurting pilot, vows never to love again after a tragedy took his sweet fiancee, Oralee. His focus is on becoming an ace and helping the Allied forces defeat Hitler. The only thing he didn't factor into his equation was a pretty, blond Red Cross gal and his fighter pilot friend, Nick.

The author's research on WWII is impeccable. I marvel at the detail put into this story. The characters are realistic and their growth and the development of relationships make you forget this is fiction.

The Sky Above Us is Book 2 of the Sunrise at Normandy series. I've read many of Sarah Sundin's books and each one gets better. I'm looking forward to the third book.

5 Stars all the way!

Writers:  Have you considered writing historical fiction? If so, what kind of research will you do or have you already done?

Readers:  What time periods are you drawn to in historical fiction? Why?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Writers Conferences/Story/Heaven/Healing Relationships/Yard Sales

Vintage Books

1.  Does it really pay to go to a writers conference? I can answer that with a resounding, "Yes!" Zoe M. McCarthy gives a detailed rundown of the benefits in her post, "Why Spend Money to Attend Writers Conferences."

2.  Beth K. Vogt posts at The Write Conversation about, "It's Important to Tell Our Readers a Story." Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the mechanics of writing that we forget the bottom line: story.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a young boy who died three times after being in a horrific traffic accident that killed his father. All three times he went to heaven. He and his mother now share their experiences through GriefShare. We don't have to stay stuck in grief, but we can move forward with our lives.

4.  Michael K. Reynolds writes about "Four Painful Words That Heal Relationships."

5.  It's yard sale season! What are the best and worst items at yard sales? I found this article at Household

Writers:  Have you been to a writers conference? Please share your experience whether positive or negative.

Readers:  I went to GriefShare after my husband died. It was during that time I was able to accept that while I missed him, I was still here and God had a plan for my life. What stood out to you when reading the story at Breaking Christian News?

Photo Credit:  Renaude Hatsedakis

Monday, April 22, 2019

On My Kindle - Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt

Hazardous Duty: Squeaky Clean Mysteries, Book 1: An Amateur Sleuth Mystery and Suspense Series, Christian Fiction by [Barritt, Christy]

Gabby St. Claire's unique job as a crime scene cleaner stirs her curiosity about the murder of a politician's wife. From there, it's one wild and dangerous ride.

This is the first book in a series, so there's a tantalizing ending in relation to her love interest. Christy Barritt is a new-to-me author, and I'm so glad I picked up this book. Her writing voice and these characters sent me into giggles one minute and heart-stopping suspense the next. It's written in first person, and the author did a great job with it.

I could see this book being a great beach read. It's light enough to read in a day and has enough meat to hold your interest throughout.

5 Stars for this delightful tale. I'll be picking up Book 2 in this squeaky-clean series in the near future.

Writers:  Have you ever written something (fiction or non-fiction) in first person? Please share your struggles/joys with using this tense.

Readers:  Do you like reading books written from a first-person perspective? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Sandi Patti's early songs touch my heart every time I hear them. This one is my favorite Resurrection Sunday songs.

May this beautiful rendition bless you as you meditate on all Jesus did for you.

Writers and Readers:  What's your favorite Resurrection Sunday song? If you are able, please post a link, so we can enjoy it as well.

Photo Credit:  Steve Cohen

Monday, April 15, 2019

On My Kindle - A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

A Bound Heart by [Frantz, Laura]

This story takes place in Scotland, Virginia, and Jamaica during pre-Revolutionary War times. The heroine, Lark, comes from a high-born Scottish line that's fallen on hard times. Our hero, Magnus MacLeish, grew up and was educated with Lark. Their friendship spanned many years, but their lives took different paths.

I'm not going to give even a little bit of a recap because I don't want to spoil this epic story of hardship, suffering, and great love. The author shared this was the story of her heart since her ancestors came from Scotland.

At first, I was put off by the long glossary of Scottish/Gaelic words, but it worked better than I could have imagined. By the end of the book, I was almost using them myself. :)

5 Stars for this bonny tale.

Writers:  Do you include words/expressions from other languages in your writing? How do you handle this so the reader isn't overwhelmed?

Readers:  How do you feel about a lot of foreign words in a story? Please share.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Internal Editor/Character Insomnia/Downs Syndrome/Cave Writing/Birthday Freebies

Pacific Cave

1.  Do you have a hard time turning off that internal editor? You know, the one that keeps you re-writing a scene in your first draft? Erin Howard shares her experience at the Seriously Write Blog.

2.  Jean Kisacky, at Writer Unboxed, shares what she learned while fighting insomnia. It helped her improve her writing and added layers to her story. "What Keeps Your Characters Up at Night," might help some of us get deeper into our characters' heads.

3.  Ashton Kutcher is known not only for his acting, but also for his stand against human trafficking and pro-life. Recently, he posted a video by a man with Downs Syndrome. Catch this excellent post on Breaking Christian News.

4.  Audrey Frank, at The Write Conversation, talks about, "Writing From The Cave." Those places of suffering can produce great creativity. I was particularly taken with her line, "Tell God first, tell people second."

5.  Do you love Freebies? Hip2Save has a list of 27 Birthday Freebies. I've joined quite a few of them and received a bunch of coupons around my birthday. Have fun!

Writers:  Have you used your places of suffering to enhance your writing? How did you accomplish this?

Readers:  Many blogs, books, and articles focus on the tough times in our lives - those cave months or years. When my husband passed away, I was drawn to a blog for widows. It helped me navigate this new life without him. Have you found comfort in reading the experience of others? Please share.

Photo Credit: Andy Gonsalves

Monday, April 8, 2019

Author Interview with Jeanette Levellie

Let's give Jeanette Levellie a warm Christian Writer/Reader Connection welcome! Her new book, "Hello, Beautiful," released on April 2nd.

1.  Hi, Jen! It's so good to have you with us today. How did you and Beth Gormong come up with the idea for this book?

Jen:  I made some magnets as prizes for a game I led at a weight loss club I attended. They had various encouraging sayings on them. One was, "Hello, Beautiful!" None of the ladies took one! I wondered what was wrng with them that they couldn't say, "You are beautiful" to themselves. Then I noticed I'd not put one up on my own fridge. I realized this was a universal issue, even with Christian women. We have a hard time thinking we are capable, worth of love, and valuable.

2.  How did the two of you meet?

Jen:  We met at a writers critique group and later became prayer partners as well.

3.  After authoring books alone, how did co-writing a book work for you?

Jen:  I loved it! All the pressure and deadlines are shared with another person, and we, of course, prayed for each other and the project throughout the year-long process.

4.  The whole idea of an interactive journal appeals to me. Why did you choose this format?

Jen:  That was Beth's idea. She is 18 years younger than I am, so she's more in touch with what younger women like. She said that journaling is a "thing" now. And everyone loves coloring pages! Beth designed those, by the way.

5.  What other books have you written? Can you share a bit about them?

Jen:  Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top, my best seller, is a humorous devotional focusing on God's bottomless heart of grace. Comical drawings from my son, Ron, accompany nine of the chapters.

The Heart of Humor is the opposite approach to Scoops, containing humor stories with a bit of devotion sprinkled in. It also features articles and lists of how humor helps us stay healthy, and 22 drawings by Ron.

Touchable God has 25 personal stories about how I developed friendship with God through talking to him. The final 20 chapters are actual prayers for friends in crisis.

Here are the links for all of my books:

Sccops of Grace:
The Heart of Humor:
Touchable God:
Hello, Beautiful!:

My website:

6.  How would you describe yourself to someone wo has never met you?

Jen:  I am a spunky, redheaded pastor's wife with 35 years of publishing credits and 20 years' speaking experience. My God-given knack for finding humor in the mundane ad grace in the storms, delights readers and audiences in all walks of life. My hobbies include gardening, reading, watching movies older than me, and spoiling my three grandkids and two cats.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Jen. It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes view of how, "Hello, Beautiful," was written. May the Lord bless the women who read your book and help them to see how beautiful they are in His eyes.

Friday, April 5, 2019

First Draft/Subtext/Great Awakening/Devo/African Violets

Dummy series

1.  Are you stressing out writing your first draft (either fiction or non-fiction)? Beth Vogt posts encouragement at The Write Conversation.

2.  Sarah (Sally) Hamer posts at The Write Conversation. She teaches online with Margie Lawson. In this post, Sally begins a series on writing subtext, that underlying layer in a story. Great stuff! There are links at the end of the post to Parts 2 and 3.

3. Breaking Christian News reports on Dutch Sheets' hope-filled article which originally appeared in Charisma News. There will be a third Great Awakening in our country, but what will the church do with it?

4.  Michael K. Reynolds asks, "Why Don't I Pray?"

5.  African Violets are so beautiful and come in a wide variety of colors. My mother nurtured them when I was growing up, and I guess it rubbed off on me. Getting the plants to bloom can be tricky. I found this website on Pinterest (A Garden For the House) and plan to use their tips. I thought some of you might like this as well.

Writers:  Which is harder for you - first draft or editing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you like raising houseplants? What are some of your favorites?

Photo Credit:  Niels Timmer

Monday, April 1, 2019

April Fool's Day!

Calendar series 4

On Saturday, I dashed to my favorite store, found exactly what I wanted and was excited because I had two great coupons tucked in my purse. When I got to the cashier, I pulled them out. Uh oh, the one coupon didn't start until April 1. I shook my head and gave the cashier a rueful grin. She responded with, "April Fool, a couple of days early." The information was on the coupon, but I hadn't read it prior to my shopping trip.

Sometimes we head to a writers conference ready to show agents and publishers what great stories we have to share. I remember my first Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. The first editor I saw didn't mince words. "You need to learn how to write fiction." Ouch! Another shot down my devotional book idea saying, "why should I buy a devotional from you when I can go to a packager and get one ready made?" Double ouch!

Lessons learned?

1.  Do my homework. Find out what editors and agents want/require.

2.  Polish those critical first five pages of my manuscript. You get one chance to make a great first impression.

3.  Educate myself about the business. It's extremely rare to get a contract on the first try. Don't get discouraged. Publishing houses make snail mail look like a Nascar race.

4.  Learn the craft. Take advantage of the writing workshops and learn from the experience of both professional writers and fellow pre-published authors.

5.  Do attend Agent and Editor Panel Discussions. It's a great way to pick their brains, as well as get insight into how these individuals work.

Be prepared, and avoid a writer's April Fool's Day. Happily, I eventually signed with a small publisher and landed an agent.

Writers:  Did you know most traditional publishers require you to have an agent? What are some of the things you've learned about publishing that surprised you?

Readers:  You see that book you're devouring? Years of hard work went into its production. You can help encourage authors by posting reviews on Amazon, as well as telling others how much you enjoyed their stories. You, the reader, are our focus. We aim to give you the best reading experience possible. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Maxime Perron Caissy

Friday, March 29, 2019

First 500 Pages/Prevent Errors/Divorce Shocker/Devo/Pressure Cooking

invasion of the plants

1.  Bill Ferris, at Writer Unboxed, gives tips on how to Nail Your Novel's First 500 Pages. Think about the agent or editor with a stack of proposals. If you don't grab their attention in the beginning, it's an instant rejection.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy is a favorite writing blogger. In this post, she gives "4 Ways to Prevent Errors From Invading Your Books."

3. Breaking Christian News shares "Divorce Statistic Shocker." It's not as bad as we've been led to believe.

4. Audrey Frank posts at The Write Conversation about the opposition we face when obeying God's direction. It's related to the writing life, but can be applied to any situation we face.

5.  I'm enjoying my new Crock Pot Express Multi-Cooker (similar to Instapot). Yesterday, I made a pot roast and herbed carrots. Here's the link for Home Pressure Cooking that I discovered on Pinterest. This post gives recipes for egg bite molds.

Writers:  How do you approach your novel's critical beginning?

Readers:  What is a big turn-off when reading the first few pages of a book? Mine? I read a story which introduced at least 10 characters in the first couple of pages. While I usually will give a book some time to get moving, this was too much for me.

Photo Credit:  Constantin Jurcut

Monday, March 25, 2019

On My Kindle - Freefall by Kristen Heitzmann


A tumble into the water and a nasty bump on the head render our heroine without a memory. She emerges out of the mountains of Kauai and meets a caring islander, Monica "Nica" Pierce.

Cameron "Kai" Pierce investigates all manner of fraud on the mainland. When his sister sends him an S.O.S. about her unexpected guest, he flies back to help her out. Jade, as his sister has dubbed the woman, is an enigma he is determined to either expose or protect. Whatever happens with her, his sister's safety is paramount.

Wow! This story took off from the first page and kept me riveted. I've read many of the author's books and always savored the mix of mystery, suspense, danger, and romance. Freefall delivered on all counts.

5 Stars for this book!

Writers:  Have you crafted stories with multiple elements? Please share.

Readers:  Many books stay with one element like romance, Sci-Fi, etc. Others combine elements. For example: Historical romance is popular. What's your favorite genre/genre combo?

Friday, March 22, 2019

Writing Zone/7 Writer Hacks/March for Life/Powerful Words/Spring

Woodland Path

1.  How do you start the writing journey? I've heard this question multiple times. Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, asks, "Have You Entered the Writing Zone?" Newbies, you'll find this helpful, and it's a good reminder to those of us who are further along in our journey.

2.  Did you make New Year's resolutions about your writing? How's that going? If you're stuck, Positive Writer gives 7 Writer Hacks.

3.  Faithwire reported in January on Ben Shapiro's address at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Science shows that life begins at conception. All the arguments for abortion are based on when life matters.

4.  The old saying, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me," is totally false. Edie Melson, from The Write Conversation urges us to remember the power behind our words. Whether we're writers or not, what we say can have either a positive or negative effect on others.

5.  I'm giddy that spring is here. To get a taste of the season's floral delights, I hopped over to Better Homes and Gardens and checked out their spring flower slide show. I hope it has the same effect on you as it did on me!

Writers:  How are your writing goals progressing? Please share.

Readers:  Have any of the books you've read (other than the Bible) had a profound effect on your life? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Chris Burke

Friday, March 15, 2019

Descriptive Writing/Motivation/Your Rights/Devo/Adjustments

pine 2

1. Jean Fischer posts on "How to Use the Bible to Practice Descriptive Writing."

2. Jean Fischer does it again with "5 Ways to Push Forward When Your Head Says Stop." If you're having difficulty staying motivated, hop over there and read this post.

3.  Principal Bans Teacher From Church Event where Students Will Be Present. Yes, this is happening in the United States. The lesson here is don't be afraid to stand up for your rights.

4. Eva Marie Everson talks about, "Dipping the Quill Deeper: Developing The Devotional Life."

5.  Jeanette Levellie shares an interesting experience about adjusting from a big city to a rural environment. I thought you might enjoy this short piece.

Writers:  What actions do you take to stay motivated to write?

Readers:  What kind of links spark your interest the most? Recipes? Devotionals? Home Decor? Reading related posts? Other? Please share. This blog is all about writers and readers. Your opinion matters. :)

Photo Credit:  Adem Kaya

Monday, March 11, 2019

Turn the Volume Up

Public Address System

When I'm alone on a long drive, listening to a CD makes it less boring. In the winter, the engine noise and heater combine to blot out the sound. If I want to hear the content, I have to turn the volume up a notch or two.

I've noticed the noise of the world around me makes it hard to hear the voice of the Lord. Ah, time to turn the volume up. There are no dials or other gizmos that I can turn, so how do I accomplish this?

1.  Pray and ask the Lord to speak to me. It doesn't stop there, I need to have ears listening for His answers.

2.  Regular time spent in the Word increases my sensitivity. I'm giving Him my attention.

3.  Listening to anointed preachers, and teachers of the Word is another way to hear His voice. I've been pouring my heart out about a certain subject, and all of a sudden there are people talking about that very thing. Their teaching clarified and gave me the answers I needed.

4.  Ordinary conversations with other believers can shine a light on a problem or an attitude needing adjustment.

5.  Often a word or phrase from the Bible will jump out at me. As I focus on them and study further, light dispels the darkness.

As a writer, I've often run into a seemingly impenetrable story wall. Where do I go from here? Worry and wringing my hands didn't solve these difficulties. I've learned to take a break, pray and ask the Lord for direction. Many times I've dreamed or received the answer coming out of sleep.

I've been on a hiatus from writing. Burnt out, discouraged, and ready to throw in the proverbial towel, it seemed impossible to get beyond this dry time. Wishing things were different, yet remaining passive, have not and will not work. There have been many false starts. 

As I've made a quality decision and turned the volume up, my spirit and soul are drinking deeply from the water of the Word. It's taking some time, but the inspiration and desire to write are coming back.
Writers and Readers: What are some ways the Lord speaks to you in your daily life?

Photo Credit:  Bugdog

Friday, March 8, 2019

Piracy/Misused Words/Big Brother/Devo/Soup Recipe

Disc smashed by hammer 1

1.  A lot of authors worry about their books being pirated. Traci Tyne Hilton points out some interesting facts. It might not be as bad as you think.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy continues her blog series, "Words Misused - Part 3."

3.  WND reports on the State of Oregon's considering a bill mandating home visits for newborns. Big Brother is trying once again to exercise control of what should be family matters.

4.  Emme Gannon posts at The Write Conversation. She asks, "Has God breathed life into your writing?" Whatever endeavor God has entrusted into your hands can benefit from this insightful post.

5.  I've been getting brave and trying new recipes. This is one I'm saving here for future reference. The Italian soup, Pasta Fagioli, is a favorite of many. Ready, Set, Eat posted this recipe. Hey, if you try it, let me know how it tastes and if you'd consider making it again. :)

Writers:  Traci doesn't seem overly concerned about piracy. Do you agree/disagree with her assessment? Please share.

Readers:  We're well into the New Year. Have you decided to try something new like a hobby, job, education, etc.? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Leszek Soltys

Monday, March 4, 2019

Writing About Social Issues

Feuding cups 1

Virtual fist fights break out on Facebook all the time. People have their opinions, but rarely couch them in polite terms. How can we express our opinions without alienating those who differ from us?

In a word: Story.

When faced with difficult questions, Jesus often told a parable. Think about The Good Samaritan, The Pearl of Great Price to name a couple. He painted a word picture in real-life terms.

I started out as a non-fiction writer. The task of communicating scriptural principles came out more as a textbook than something to catch the reader's attention. Using some basic fiction techniques helped "put skin on the words."


These changes made the pieces come alive. Readers (and editors) could relate to the stories, and the principles jumped off the page without beating the reader over the head.

Ha! Perhaps if we applied these less combative methods to social media, it wouldn't feel like a war zone.

And that's my opinion for today.

Writers:  Do you touch on social issues in your writing? How do you keep it from aggravating the reader?

Readers:  How do you feel about expressing your opinion on social media? Is it something you dive into or do you shy away from it? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Richard Styles

Friday, March 1, 2019

Time/Book Cover Design/Christian Airline/Devo/Amish Cleaning Hacks


1.  Lisa Hall-Wilson gives 5 Ways Time Affects How We Write. In deep point of view, we're not supposed to name emotions. However, there are exceptions. She explains the principles involved. I think even non-writers will find this article fascinating since it gives insight on how we process traumatic events.

2.  Carol Ashby posts at Seriously Write about designing book covers that appeal to both men and women. Since many authors are now going the Indie route, they're assuming full responsibility for every aspect of production. Don't miss this valuable advice.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on the world's first Christian airline. They will provide churches and missionaries with easier travel.

4.  "What is a God Adventure?" This devotional on CBN made me think, especially as the new year is fairly young. Check it out.

5.  I came across an item on Pinterest about Amish Cleaning Hacks. Check out some of their tricks for discouraging pests, degreasing, etc.

Writers:  Either fiction or non-fiction - how do you go about designing your book covers?

Readers:  Do you enjoy reading devotionals? What are some of your favorites?

Photo Credit:  Michelle Seixas

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Newbie Corner - Gaining Access - Part 2 - Non-Fiction I started out as a non-fiction writer. Articles and devotionals found acceptance into Christian publications. However, when I approached an editor at a conference about my idea for a devotional book, I was in for a wake-up call. 1. Many publishers get these items from packagers. They put together the books and sell them to the publisher. 2. A non-fiction book requires a huge platform to guarantee sales. Think about radio and TV programs, giant ministries, well-known speakers, and celebrities. 3. Even if you have many writing credits on your resume, it doesn't hold a lot of weight when it comes to getting a non-fiction book published. This is why many authors decide to go the Indie (self-publishing) route. We're blessed that digital publishing has made this easier and much less expensive. Many ministries self-publish their books, thus avoiding the long and often arduous traditional journey. Whether you decide to give traditional publishing a shot or not, learning the craft and producing an interesting, informative book is paramount. While a subject may be fascinating to you, engaging the reader and meeting a perceived need requires writing techniques that will achieve your goals. Writers: What have you learned about the publishing journey for non-fiction? Readers: What kind of non-fiction books do you enjoy? Devotional? Memoir? Biography? Other? Please share.

Glasses on calendar

I started out as a non-fiction writer. Articles and devotionals found acceptance into Christian publications. However, when I approached an editor at a conference about my idea for a devotional book, I was in for a wake-up call.

1.  Many publishers get these items from packagers. They put together the books and sell them to the publisher.

2.  A non-fiction book requires a huge platform to guarantee sales. Think about radio and TV programs, giant ministries, well-known speakers, and celebrities.

3.  Even if you have many writing credits on your resume, it doesn't hold a lot of weight when it comes to getting a non-fiction book published.

This is why many authors decide to go the Indie (self-publishing) route. We're blessed that digital publishing has made this easier and much less expensive. Many ministries self-publish their books, thus avoiding the long and often arduous traditional journey.

Whether you decide to give traditional publishing a shot or not, learning the craft and producing an interesting, informative book is paramount. While a subject may be fascinating to you, engaging the reader and meeting a perceived need requires writing techniques that will achieve your goals.

Writers:  What have you learned about the publishing journey for non-fiction?

Readers:  What kind of non-fiction books do you enjoy? Devotional? Memoir? Biography? Other? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Klaus Post

Friday, February 22, 2019

Slide Presentations/Copyright Tips/Chick-fil-A/Devo/Amish Declutter Hacks

lecture room 2

1.  For those of you who not only write but also speak, Yvonne Ortega gives tips on how to use slides in your presentation.

2.  Susan Spann posted at Writer Unboxed regarding copyrights. While she called it, "Holiday Copyright Tips," the advice is good for any time of the year. Whether you're a writer, blogger, or just post on social media, this is a must read.

3.  Around Christmas, I was searching the gift card rack at my local grocery store for Chick-fil-A and couldn't find them. It's no secret that the fast-food company's values have made them a target of the politically correct segment of the population. WND reports it hasn't hurt them a bit. They have passed Wendy's and Taco Bell in popularity and are now number three in the rankings.

4.  Amy Carroll posted at Crosscards devotional site on the subject of prayer. When the Lord gave her "prayer" as her word for last year, she wondered how she'd ever fit hours on her knees into her busy schedule. See how the Lord led her and the joy she discovered.

5.  The new year stirs an urge in me to declutter. Maybe we can't do it all in one day, but we can spend five minutes a day. One of the suggestions is to start a no-clutter zone.

Writers:  What tips do you have for writers who also speak?

Readers:  Which link resonated with you this week? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Fred Culpers

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Newbie Corner - Gaining Access - The Fiction Write

Computer cibercafe of my brother

An aspiring author recently asked how they could get a real publisher. Good question. Let's explore the process:

1.  Write a book, but not just any book - a great book. Take the time to research similar titles, as well as your target audience. Are you writing for the Young Adult (YA) crowd? Romances appeal to most women and are the most popular genre. How about Sci-Fi, mystery, fantasy, and futuristic? Let's not forget contemporary works, historical novels, and women's fiction.

2.  Okay, you now have a first draft. Read everything you can get your hands on to improve your skills, go to workshops and writers' conferences, visit writing blogs and soak up as much as you can. Go home and apply those lessons to your writing.

2.  Now that you have re-written your first draft, find a critique partner to read it and suggest changes. Don't cry when it comes back with lots of red ink.

3.  Writers conferences often have authors present who will do paid critiques. Invest in one. (If this seems like a long process, it is. You don't produce a publishable manuscript overnight.)

4.  If you can afford it, hiring a professional editor can provide a great learning experience, as well as polishing your work. Make sure you select someone who will be compatible and knows what they're doing. (Many offer to do sample chapters for a fee.) I found my editor on LinkedIn, Deirdre Lockhart, of Brilliant Cut Editing.

5.  The next step is to obtain an agent. The best place to meet one is at a writers' conference. Attending agent/editor panels at a conference can provide insight into what they're seeking in the way of genre. Most conferences also provide one-on-one appointments with agents and editors.

6.  If an agent or editor asks you to send them either a partial or full proposal, make sure that's your top priority when you arrive home. Visit their websites for guidelines and follow them to the letter. Allow yourself five or ten minutes to do a Snoopy Happy Dance and then get to work.

7.  If the agent/editor sends a rejection letter, put it in a file and continue writing. Tip:  These folks like to see you've written more than one book. After all, would you want to spend hours of your time to work with someone whose creativity dries up after a single story?

8.  If an agent/editor gives suggestions on how to improve your writing, take them seriously. The first time I met with an agent, he told me to go home and learn how to write fiction. Ouch!

9.  If you land a contract with an agent, it's a big step. Getting a publishing contract is another set of hurdles, but it's not impossible.

It takes time, patience, and perseverance to get a traditional publishing contract. Many people opt to go the Indie route (self publishing), but do your research before diving into that pond.

Although the journey is long, enjoy it. Once writing gets in your blood, it's hard to walk away.

Writers:  What questions do you have about the publishing process for fiction writers? (We'll talk about non-fiction next week.)

Readers:  Are you surprised at how much is involved in the publishing process? Please share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Mario Alberto Magallane Trejo

Friday, February 15, 2019

Families in Fiction/Marketing Poetry/Answered Prayer/Devo/Most Searched

Paper Family

1.  Kathleen McCleary posts at Writer Unboxed on the subject of "Navigating Families in Fiction. In real life, we all experience loss, have difficult relationships, etc. This is something every novelist can apply to their writing.

2.  Karen Whiting, at The Write Conversation, talks about marketing your poetry. She has some unique ideas.

3.  Testimonies of answered prayer encourage and spark our faith. I recently read about a young girl diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor on Faithwire. The prognosis was grim, but God...

4.  Jean Fischer shared her experience with hearing God's voice on her Compost Pile blog. This sweet story touched my heart. I hope it blesses you as well.

5.  Last Thanksgiving, I discovered pecan pie, and I've craved it since that day. I wasn't surprised when it came up as one of the most-searched recipes of 2018 on Google. Check out this post at Delish and see what other meals made the list.

Writers:  How do you explore the complex relationships of your characters?

Readers:  How does reading testimonies or novels impact your spiritual life? Please share.

Photo Credit:  B S K

Monday, February 11, 2019

On My Kindle - The Blessing by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow

The Blessing by [Barnett-Gramckow, Kacy]

A job assignment forces May Somerville's father to relocate the family from New York City to untamed Colorado. All of their dreams are put on hold as they struggle to adjust to a new life near the gold mines.

Alexander Whittier travels throughout Europe with his parents, but he can't shake the memory of the beautiful May Somerville. Her father's reports no longer reach them, and news of their tragedies sends him hurrying to Colorado.

Will May's secret and the many hard times she's endured ruin their chances for a future together?

Kacy Barnett-Gramckow is a new-to-me author. While The Blessing started off on the slow side for me, it picked up speed. The fate of the tightly-knit family kept me engaged, while the steadfast determination of May propelled the story forward.

I'm giving The Blessing five stars for its great story and historical content. I'll be checking out this author's other books.

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

Adjectives/Literary Device/Yoga/Blessings/Home Safety


1.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives tips to improve story description when using adjectives. This skill-based post provides valuable information for both fiction and non-fiction writers.

2. Lori Hatcher posts at The Write Conversation on parallelism, a literary device. Don't let the term scare you. You've seen it multiple times. Now is your chance to define it and apply it to your own writing.

3.  Faithwire reports on a pastor's warning about a practice that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States among Christians - yoga.

4.  Henry McLaughlin posts at The Write Conversation about the blessings of being a writer. Readers, you might find this glimpse into the writer's life quite interesting.

5.  I came across a blogger called, "Plucky," who gave 3 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe This Winter.

Writers:  Which writing link did you find most helpful? Please share.

Readers:  What are some of the steps you take to keep your home safe during the winter? I recently purchased new smoke/carbon dioxide alarms for my home. My smoke alarms were very old and required constant vigilance to make sure the batteries were working. I didn't have any carbon dioxide alarms.

Photo Credit:  Fastfood

Friday, February 1, 2019

Incorrect Phrases/Powerful Antagonist/Victory/Devotional/Valentine's Day

time is going

1.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about Incorrect Construction of Common Phrases. This was a fun read. I discovered a few that I've been using wrong.

2.  Having a powerful antagonist in your story is key to challenging your main characters no matter what the genre. Lisa Hall-Wilson gives 9 Tips For a Powerful Antagonist.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a victory for several Christian Ministries after a 4-Year Legal Battle regarding abortion.

4.  I've gotten into the habit of going to bed too late. Then I have trouble getting up at 5:00 AM and hit the snooze button: once, twice, ugh - three times. When I saw this article, "Escaping the Power of the Snooze Button," I had to read it. Yeah, it hit me right where I live.

5.  Valentine's Day is around the corner. I saw these cookies on FB and had to share them. Here's the tutorial.

Writers: Which common phrase tripped you up?

Readers:  When reading a book, how important is a strong antagonist to you? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Piotr Koczab

Friday, January 25, 2019

Use Words Well/Those "D" Words/China/Devo/2019 Bedroom Decor


1.  Tammy Karasek posts at The Write Conversation at using our words well. As writers, we have the potential of reaching many people.

2.  Marcia Moston posts at The Write Conversation about Disclaimers and Defamation. As writers, we need to be aware of the pitfalls writing about real people and situations.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that police in China are facing loss of their jobs if they don't arrest Christians.

4.  Once again, The Write Conversation offers words of wisdom about the disappointments we face in life. Beth Vogt urges us to stick around long enough to get something out of the inevitable situations we'd like to avoid.

5.  I checked out bedroom decorating trends for 2019 and found this website. My favorite? The cozy purple bedroom, of course! Do you have a favorite among these pictures?

Writers:  How do you make word choice decisions? Synonym Finder? Prayer? Please share how you find just the right word to express your thoughts/tell your story.

Readers:  What kind of stories do you enjoy the most?

Photo Credit:  Brenton Nicholls

Monday, January 21, 2019

On My Kindle - A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

Lucy Drake and her brother, Nick, fight a legal battle going back to their grandfather's time. Their Uncle Thomas uses every dirty trick in the book to make their lives miserable. Both of them wonder if pursuing the case is worth the hardship and financial drain.

Sir Colin Beckwith, Head of the New York Reuters news agency has his own troubles. His dilapidated estate back in England needs far more work than he can afford. Concerns for his sister and their 90 tenants propel him into a hunt for a rich, American heiress. Once he meets Lucy Drake, he has a hard time focusing on his plan.

This historical romance by Ms. Camden contained many interesting elements. The main characters' unusual careers, the political intrigue, the romance between an ordinary young woman and a titled British gentleman all produced a captivating story. The tension and the impossibility of their situation kept me turning pages to see how it would be resolved.

There were several things that pulled me out of the story. I couldn't figure out if one character was a good guy or a bad guy. This didn't appear to be the proverbial red herring. It seemed like the writer wasn't sure how to work him into the mix. I also came across a saying, which I think is more recent than the historical setting, and it was used more than once. The villains all seemed to be without any redeeming qualities, which produced pictures in my head of a fair maiden tied to railroad tracks and an evil man twirling a mustache.

Even with the negatives, I'm still giving this book four stars. The good far outweighed any shortcomings. I'll definitely look for more of Ms. Camden's books.

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

Writers:  When writing anything in a historical context, do you research whether or not a saying was used at that time? Please share.

Readers:  What type of situation jars your senses when reading a historical romance? Please share.

Friday, January 18, 2019

BookBub Ads/Realistic Characters/Child Euthanasia/Devo/Meat Loaf w/Bacon

Yellow flower

1.  For those of you who have a book published either traditionally or Indie, check out Anne Janzer's article on BookBub Ads to support your marketing efforts.

2.  Lori Freeland posts at Writers in The Storm regarding character development in your novel. She gives many tips on how to achieve this and bring your book to life.

3.  WND reports that Canada is embracing a culture of death. They are on the verge of passing laws permitting child euthanasia. They've already fully accepted adult euthanasia. This is where the slippery slope leads - the total devaluing of human life.

4.  Robin Lee Hatcher posts at Seriously Write on how to stay with writing for the long haul. The principles can be applied to any pursuit in life, so it's not a "writer only post." I loved the line where she said every one of her books is a book of her heart. I think you'll like this one.

5.  Brr, winter is here in the Northeast. Looking for some comfort food, I came across this recipe at Real Simple for meatloaf with bacon. It sounds good, and maybe I'll even try this one. (I can't begin to tell you how many recipes I clip and never make!) If you try it, please let me know how it comes out.

Writers:  How do you develop your characters? Do you have lengthy profiles or get to know them as you write? Please share.

Readers: What's more important to you: the characters or the plot? Why?

Photo Credit:  Sergey Klemkin

Monday, January 14, 2019

On My Kindle - A Heart's Gift: A Love's Road Home Novel by Lena Nelson Dooley

A Heart’s Gift: A Love’s Road Home Novel by [Dooley, Lena Nelson]

Lorinda Sullivan grew up in an abusive home after her mother died. When she married Mike Sullivan, her life took on new meaning. Her happiness came to an abrupt halt when news of his murder came via a neighbor.

Franklin Vine vowed he'd never give his heart to another woman. It hurt too much when she ran off with his best friend. The plight of the young widow touched his heart. He could help her get on her feet and then move on. Or so he thought...

I've been on Lena Nelson Dooley's blog and seen her around the Net. (The Christian writing community is a small world.) This is the first book I've read by this author.

The main characters were likable, and the touch of mystery added depth to the story. I wish the author had gone a little deeper with the suspense element. All in all, A Heart's Gift kept me engaged. I enjoyed the story, as well as the satisfactory conclusion.

Four starts for this novel.

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Stumped/Red Flags/Homeschool/Devo/Fudge Recipe

Children's homes

1.  Have you ever been stumped on how to get your character out of trouble? Dr. Richard Mabry shares how he handles this problem. Check out his post at Seriously Write.

2.  Lisa Hall-Wilson gives us red flags for author intrusion in deep pov (point of view). Internal dialogue works only if it feels organic to the reader. This may seem like heavy stuff, but whether you're experienced or a newbie, you can get something out of this article.

3. reported on a Virginia county that wants to repeal a law allowing homeschooling for religious reasons. Homeschool families have long been under attack. This is just another example.

4.  Lynn J. Simpson has a devotional entitled, "Words Richer Than Gold."

5.  When that chocolate craving hits, you might want to pull out this recipe for fudge. Averie Cooks shares an uncomplicated version to satisfy your sweet tooth or treat the kids in your family.

Writers:  Do you ever get your characters into trouble and then wonder how to rescue them? Please share.

Readers:  Do you collect recipes online? Have you tried any of them? Please share your experience.

Photo Credit:  Jesus Manuel Nieto Bobadilla

Monday, January 7, 2019

Need Another Day!

Hi Everyone -

We've had a rough weekend on the homefront. Sweetie Mom pulled a muscle in her arm and has needed extra help. I've been doing what I can while nursing a migraine. Sometimes life is like that.

For those of you who write, you know how difficult things can become when life hits. If you're not on serious deadline, don't hesitate to put the writing aside for a brief time. If you are on deadline, factor in some downtime in your word count for emergencies.

My regular Friday posts are scheduled and ready to go. I'll need some grace with the Monday posts until my mother is better. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up once we establish a routine.

Thanks for your understanding,