Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

May you be blessed this Christmas Season. Here's a YouTube video with David Phelps singing, "O Holy Night."

BLOG BREAK:  Monday, 12/26/16 - Monday, 1/9/17 (Two full weeks)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On My Nightstand - Share with Me by Janet Thompson

Brinley Brooks, wealthy heiress and all around sweetheart, swoons when her sister's brother-in-law plays Air on the violin. Ivan, a graduate of Julliard and a world-class violinist, also happens to be dirt poor.

This unlikely pair seem like a perfect match - except for their economic status. Can their relationship get off the ground when they come from different worlds?

I enjoyed this book immensely. There's a strong spiritual thread with supporting characters providing wise counsel. 5 Stars.

Now, I must find a copy of Air played on the violin, so I can hear Brinley and Ivan's song. :) P.S. Here it is on Youtube:

Writers and Readers:  When a book captures your imagination, does it give you a push to explore some of the characters' passions like music? Please share.

Disclaimer:  I didn't receive any remuneration for a review - favorable or otherwise. As always, all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I'm So Glad He Did!

Christmas is less than a week away. The focus is often on what it means to us. Sure, that's important, but what did it mean to the Savior?

His obedience to the Father's plan cost Him everything, but He didn't look at the short-term loss. Instead, He saw the end result - the reconciliation of fallen man to the Father.

He left heaven's splendor for the ugliness of a world polluted by sin.

He shed the light of truth concerning God's character and dispelled the lies of the enemy by healing the sick and setting the captives free.

He experienced our pain, hunger, and weariness. He knew the betrayal of a friend and the censure of family members. Rejection and persecution were an almost daily occurrence.

The path of obedience wasn't any easier for Him than it is for us, but He despised the present circumstances for the glory that would follow the completion of His mission. I don't know why He made that sacrifice, but as the song says, "I'm so glad He did."

If you've never asked Jesus to forgive your sins and be the Lord of your life, I invite you to say this prayer:

Thank You, Jesus, that You came to this earth to live a perfect, sinless life, took the punishment we deserved on the cross, and arose from the dead. Forgive my sins, come into my heart, and make me like You. Thank You.

John 3:16-19
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
Ephesians 2:8,9

May this Christmas be the year of your rebirth in Him.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Likeable/Slush Pile/Cliff Barrows/Finished?/Christmas Gifts

1.  Lisa Cron, the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius, joins the Writers in The Storm contributors. In her first article, she deals with the question, "What Does Likeable Really Mean?" Fiction writers hear this term tossed around all the time. Wouldn't you like to know what it means?"

2.  Here's one for all the Indie authors out there. Tracie Tyne Hilton, at The Write Conversation, discusses why an Indie Author Needs a Slush Pile. Yeah, catchy title. It's worth checking out.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that Cliff Barrows, friend and associate of Billy Graham, has passed away at age 93. I have fond memories of this great choirmaster. Way back in the sixties, Sweetie Mom and I sang in the choir at the New York Billy Graham Crusade. It was amazing how this kind man took hundreds of singers and transformed them into a choir.

4.  You don't have to be a writer to receive this encouraging message from Dena Netherton. :)

5.  Christmas preparations are in full swing around here. I love planning gift giving and try to find something special for each person on my list. Real Simple gives 6 Clever Items to Simplify Your Life. There are a couple of items on the list I wouldn't mind getting for Christmas. :)

Writers:  How does the term, "Likeable," translate in your stories? How do you keep readers from wanting to smack your characters?

Readers:  Do you search online for unique gifts for family and friends? Maybe you could pass along some of your tips. :)

Photo Credit:  John Siebert

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On My Nightstand - Tide Will Tell by Lesley Ann McDaniel

Kate Jennings is running for her life when she meets a wealthy businessman. A whirlwind courtship follows, and they become engaged. When she moves to his home a week before their nuptials, everything begins to unravel. Has she traded one desperate situation for another?

Josh Collins, a budding film producer, visits a classmate's home for a brief holiday. He's put off by the excessive partying and wild lifestyle. When Kate shows up, he's attracted but soon discovers she's engaged to his friend's father.

The author serves up a romance with a healthy dose of suspense. This one had me hyperventilating. Like several of the stories I've read recently, this one is part of a contemporary romance collection.

5 Stars. :)

Writers and Readers:  What was the last novel you read and in what genre? Please share why you selected it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Paperwhites and Procrastination

For years, I've been wanting to buy the paperwhites that show up in stores this time of the year. The thought of having flowers in winter has a certain appeal. Maybe that's why I'm a fan of African Violets and Orchids.

You know something? I never got around to actually purchasing them until a few weeks ago. Planting them was simple - the pot, bulbs, and growing medium were included in the package. They're growing fast even though they haven't bloomed as of this writing. Why on earth did I wait so long? How many other adventures have I missed because of procrastination?

I'm gradually changing my ways. Fourteen years ago, I quit a good job and went to Bible School at the Lord's prompting. This act of obedience was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it led to meeting my late husband. My writing journey began in earnest after we married. His encouragement and support helped me shush all the negative stuff in my head.

Paperwhites may not seem like a big deal, but they represent the person God has called me to be - one willing to try something new. What is He whispering to your heart? Write that book? Volunteer in the church nursery? Visit those in prison? In Mary's words to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

Writers and Readers: Do you procrastinate or do you dive in with both feet?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Change/Article Basics/Prayer/Miracles/Unhappy Clutter

1.  Elaine Stock hosts Lisa Lickel on her blog. Lisa talks about how tough change is on us humans. It resonated with me as I was transplanted from one state to another 13 years ago. Her final conclusion made me smile.

2.  If you're into writing novels, have you considered working on some articles? I started out in the non-fiction arena, so this caught my eye. Check out Linda Gilden's tips, at The Write Conversation, on article writing basics.

3.  The United States recently went through one of the most contentious Presidential elections in its history. As a believer, I'm convinced prayer was a key factor. What about now? Can we sit back and relax? This article on Christian Headlines by the late Chuck Colson gives us much to ponder.

4.  I loved this story of a modern-day miracle and thought you might as well.

5.  Unhappy clutter/decor is the subject of a House Beautiful article. You might be surprised at the emotional impact it has on you.

Writers:  Have you considered writing articles in addition to your Great American Novel?
Please share.

Readers:  Do you read books purely for entertainment/escape from reality or have novels made an impact on your life? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Brian Lary

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

On My Nightstand - Beyond the Waves by Lynnette Bonner

Taysia Green hopes dating her new beau, Blaine, will bring her the happiness she's sought. When Kylen Sumner accepts a position on the local police force and shows up at her gym, the shock sends her reeling. Nothing good can come of his reappearance in her life.

As a teen, Kylen played fast and loose with Taysia's heart. After accepting Christ, he's a new man. Can he convince her of that fact?

Lynnette Bonner is a new-to-me author. I thoroughly enjoyed her storytelling and got wrapped up in the lives of her characters.

This is definitely an engaging read for a cold winter night. 5 Stars.

Writers and Readers:  Do you like stories where either the hero or heroine have tried to make up for past mistakes? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Christmas Blues

Since my husband passed away nine years ago, it's been hard to get excited about Christmas. Oh, I've gone through the motions for the sake of those I love, but couldn't muster a whole lot of enthusiasm on a heart level.

A funny thing happened this year. I was in Walmart when the first Christmas decorations appeared, and something inside me woke up. I thought about how bare the outside of my house looked while twinkling lights and wreaths adorned my neighbors' homes. A red bell caught my eye. There wasn't anything special about it, but I picked it up and put it into my cart.

It was way too soon to put it on my front door, but I could hardly wait. As weeks passed, my anticipation heightened. Finally, after Thanksgiving, I decorated. It might not seem like much, but it was a big deal for me.

Christmas joy is back.

Writers and Readers: Was there a time when everyone around you was celebrating but you were doing the "bah humbug" thing? How did you get past the Christmas Blues?

Photo Credit:  Radim Pechan

Friday, December 2, 2016

Platform/Characters/Christians Attacked/Perfectionism/Country Christmas

1.  Every writer has heard that word:  platform. What if yours is small? Katy Kaufman posts at The Write Conversation about pressing on.

2.  Creating characters can be mind boggling. Dave King, at Writer Unboxed, gives some guidance on how do develop their personalities and avoid having them all sound like you.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on Christians being attacked in refugee camps. While we are to pray for and love people, we cannot ignore or deny the facts.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio had another great post, dealing with perfectionism. She takes the wraps off this torment and reveals the causes.

5.  Although Christmas decorations have been out since early October, we're now in the season for real. :)  Country Living has 88 ideas for decorating your home with a country theme.

Writers:  How do you craft your characters?

Readers:  What kind of decorations do you use for Christmas? Homemade? Traditional? Special colors/themes? 

Photo Credit:  V. Flores

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On My Nightstand - From Russia With Love by Susan May Warren

I've seen this author on social media, but I'd never read her books. From Russia With Love was part of a romance collection that I picked up on a whim, and I'm so glad I did.

Ekaterina (Kat) Hope Moore travels to Russia with a key and a picture on a quest to find her family. From the moment she goes through customs until the end of the story, we're taken on one wild ride.

Vadeem Spasanov, a tough FSB Officer (think KGB), believes Kat is in league with an international smuggler and trails her. He can't figure out what it is about the feisty, escape-artist American that gets under his skin.

When I have to stop reading and I'm frustrated, I always know it's a keeper. Wow, I love romance with a strong element of suspense.  I'll be looking for more of Susan May Warren's books. 5 Stars for this one.

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

Writers and Readers:  Do you like romances with suspense/mystery? What is your preference: historical or contemporary?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Small Steps, Life Lessons

Someone posted a review on a friend's book and made a snide comment about how he probably prays to find his keys. It was meant to be a put down, but he has no clue how practical and how concerned God is when it comes to His kids.

Faith put into action on the small things prepares us for when big situations come our way - and they do show up. It's like working a muscle. When I was in Occupational Therapy, they started easy exercises and progressed to harder ones as I regained function in my wrist and hand.

As a writer, the same principle holds true. I learned to celebrate and be thankful for each victory no matter how insignificant it might seem to others. Some examples:

1.  An acceptance by an online publication.
2.  Recognizing a mistake with point of view without someone telling me.
3.  Having an "ah ha moment" while mastering a difficult scene.
4.  Praying for the next step in a story and waking up with the answer.
5.  Having an agent at a writers conference tell me that I write well (even though what I was writing wasn't something she wanted).

These are only a few of the encouragements that kept me on the path to publication. While I'm now multi-published, each day brings new and bigger challenges. Yet, I can move forward in faith because a foundation of trust in God upholds me.

Writers:  What are some of the small steps you've celebrated in your journey to publication?

Readers:  What are you grateful for as we enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Photo Credit:  Brian Zerangue

Friday, November 25, 2016


1.  Molly Jo Realy guest posts at The Write Conversation. Do photo social media sites like Instagram help a writer? She explores that question and gives suggestions on how to take advantage of their popularity.

2.  Here's Part II of Donna L.H. Smith's series on Creating Suspense. She defines the terms "mystery" and "suspense."

3.  Christian Headlines reports on Tim Tebow praying for a man having a seizure. This athlete knows what's important and isn't afraid to act out his faith in public. We need more Tim Tebows in sports.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio talks about How to Drive Out the Darkness.

5.  Did you enjoy Thanksgiving? If your refrigerators are bulging like turkey just out of the oven, here is a recipe you might want to try. (Aren't we blessed with such bounty?)

Writers:  Have you experimented with photo social media sites? Please share.

Readers:  What do you make with your leftovers? We always enjoyed a second (and third) turkey dinner, as well as snacking on cold leftovers.

Photo Credit:  Adriaan de man

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The First Thanksgiving

I found this well-made video on YouTube about the first Thanksgiving. We're almost at the end of another year, and I'm thankful for God's protection and grace. He brought me through five months of recovering from a broken wrist, provided help through that time, and met our every need.

It's easy to focus on the difficulties of life. Yet, when we count our blessings, we realize that the good far outweighs the bad. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Women of the Mayflower

While researching Thanksgiving for this post, my interest was piqued by a note on Wikipedia that four women were present, Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White.

What were these women and the others who came over on the Mayflower like? I decided to focus my exploration on learning more about them. I found an excellent website by Caleb Johnson.

Some fascinating facts:

1.  18 women came over on the Mayflower, three of them in their third trimester of pregnancy.

2.  All of them were married.

3.  Of the 18 onboard, only the four named above survived through the first Thanksgiving celebration.

4.  Susanna White came over with her husband, John, and son, Resolved. She was pregnant and gave birth to a son, Peregrine, while the Mayflower was anchored outside of Cape Cod. John died that winter, and she remarried Edward Winslow, a fellow passenger whose wife also died. They were the first couple married at Plymouth.

5.  Mary Brewster was born about 1569 because she stated she was 40 years old in an affidavit filed in Leiden, Holland on 25 June 1609. She and her husband, William, had six children, one of which died right after birth. She lived to about age 60. Her husband lived another 17 years before he passed on.

I hope this tiny sample will encourage you to visit this website. Whether you're interested in history or a homeschooling parent, it's a great resource.

May you not only enjoy food and fellowship this Thanksgiving, but also give thanks to God for His many blessings in your life.


Writers and Readers:  What are you thankful for this year?

Photo Credit:  Nat Arnett

Friday, November 18, 2016

Better Writing/Writing Pace/Russia/Devo/Collecting

1.  Do you want to become a better writer? Zoe M. McCarthy gives 7 Tips Besides "Write, Write, Write" To Become a Better Writer.

2.  It's rare to see blog posts on writing pace. At Writer Unboxed, Donald Maas discusses Four Kinds of Pace. (The pace of a novel refers to how fast or slow the story moves.) There's a lot to digest here.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on an American missionary being prosecuted under Russia's new anti-evangelism law. When the old Soviet Socialist Republic fell, the Gospel was welcomed and people were free to worship. Even then, I had a strong sense this window of opportunity would be temporary. Let's pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

4.  Lynn Simpson shares Psalm 46 interspersed with her photography. I read it several times, allowing the Scripture to sink into my heart.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, adores dolls. I can relate. In this post, she introduces us to her latest find: a lovely Asian girl.

Writers:  What steps are you taking to become a better writer?

Readers:  Do you find it difficult to pass up a bargain on one of your collectibles? Please share. If you haven't figured out what tempts me, it's dolls. :)

Photo Credit:  Idigital

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Spotlight - Susanne Dietze

Journey the Transcontinental Railroad along with nine unlikely couples who encounter all the dangers and disappointments of traveling the rails in the late 1800s. From sight-seeing excursions to transports toward new lives, from orphan trains to circus trains, can romances develop into blazing love in a world of cold, hard steel?

The Honeymoon Express: Can a jilted bride and a mysterious frontiersman thrown together on a trip meant for honeymooners solve a crime--and find love--before the end of the line?

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of a dozen new and upcoming historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos.  You can visit her online at and subscribe to her newsletters at

Writers: What are your thoughts about participating in a collection of stories? 

Readers:  Do you read short story collections? Please share.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Time Compressed

Way back on October 14th, I stopped in at Home Depot for some 9V smoke alarm batteries. I walked into a winter wonderland. They were in full Christmas mode. The next day, I repeated the experience at Costco.

Growing up, we didn't see Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was the official kick-off of the season with Santa Claus riding on the last float. Perhaps time goes slower for children than adults.

Perhaps time is indeed going forward faster with each passing day. I'm reminded of the scripture: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt." Amos 9:13 (KJV)

As I go through my daily routines and try to squeeze in the many tasks on my to-do list, may I remember to put what's truly important at the top: 1) My relationship with the Lord - praying, worshiping, getting into the Word, 2) My family and friends, and 3) The calling of God on my life to write.

This year, as we approach the Christmas season, I want to slow down and savor what is precious.

Writers:  How do you keep November and December from becoming a pressure cooker ready to blow?

Readers:  What are some of the important Christmas traditions you want to revive for your family?

Photo Credit:  Marek Bernat

Friday, November 11, 2016

Revisions/Suspense/3 Parents/ Devo/Fall Decor

1.  At one time or another, a novelist will face a stubborn revision. Janice Hardy guest posts at Writers in the Storm. She give five reasons why your revision isn't working.

2.  Donna H. L. Smith is doing a series on her blog about suspense in novels. It's beginner friendly for all the newbies out there. :)

3.  Christian Headlines reports on the first baby born with the DNA of three parents. They have no idea what long-term effects will occur. This child and others born in this manner will have to be followed, as well as their offspring. Scientists experimenting with our DNA brings to mind the whole Nazi eugenics disaster.

4.  Ceil Ryan, at Surrounded by the Spirit, talks about God's grace in her latest post.

5.  HGTV gives fall decorating ideas. The slideshow may help jumpstart your creativity as Thanksgiving approaches.

Writers:  What steps do you take when a manuscript is giving you problems? Please share.

Readers:  Do you put up decorations for the changing seasons? Please share some of your favorites with us.

Photo Credit:  Michael &Christa Richert

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

On My Nightstand - In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

I've had this book on my To Be Read pile for a long time. Somehow it got buried. When I finally picked it up last week, it took me on a journey that every reader's heart desires.

From the first few words, I was captivated. The author tells the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz in a way that makes them come alive. If you've ever been to Sight and Sound theaters and seen one their productions, this story is given similar treatment. It shows what living in those days was like, as well as the possible emotions experienced by each person.

Ruth and Naomi were real women, who faced incredible hardships. Losing their loved ones in Moab, traveling dangerous paths to Bethlehem, and arriving there with little but the clothes on their backs, they trusted God to take care of them.

They experienced horrific grief and came through it. Some of the things they learned resonated with me and others gave me new insight. For anyone battered by life situations, there's great comfort in this book.

I've plodded through many genealogies in the Bible, but by the time I got to the one in this book, I was weeping. The realization of what it took to bring the Savior into the world overwhelmed me. I'm so grateful the author touched on this aspect of the story.

On a scale of one to five, this book is off the charts. Other than the Bible, I'm not one to reread books. This one has so much wisdom and heart that I will go back to savor it again.

Writers and Readers:  What novels have inspired you and encouraged you in your Christian walk?

Disclaimer: I received this book on a blog giveaway a couple of years ago. I wasn't paid anything for a favorable review. All opinions expressed, as always, are completely mine. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't Stay Home!

Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States. This season, it's made the wild, wild West look tame.

As we've watched debates, read social media posts, and gagged at the revelations, I kept thinking how close we are to living the scenario in my first book, The Moses Conspiracy. When I started writing it way back in 2005, I never meant for it to be prophetic. Some of my readers are telling me the book was ahead of its time. Am I happy about it? I want to weep because I deeply love my country.

I pray the American people will rise up and say, "Enough." It's time to straighten this mess out and get back on track with the help of God. I believe He will restore if His people stand for righteousness.

Please don't let personalities keep you home. Vote the issues. We owe it to future generations.

Writers and Readers: This is not an invitation to debate. If you want to comment, please keep it civil.

Photo Credit:  Patwise

Friday, November 4, 2016


1.  Years ago, I read a book that was supposed to be Sci-Fi/suspense. Instead, the characters came off as unrealistic and melodramatic, giving them a cartoonish appearance. Zoe M. McCarthy deals with the subject of melodrama.

2.  Dave King, at Writer Unboxed, talks about giving your characters roots. This resonated with me since I'm a transplant from New York City to Pennsylvania. Check out this fascinating way to give your story some punch.

3. This news item made me want to wail and mourn. Christian Headlines reports on NY city's plans to go forward building the arch of Baal. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel brought the judgment of God down on their heads by worshipping the Baals.

4. Alisa Hope Wagner, at Faith Imagined, does a verse meditation on 2 Timothy 2:8-9. Though the writer was in chains, the Word of God is never chained.

5.  There's a chill in the air, and baking cookies is on my mind. I saw this recipe for Almond Joy Cookies on Facebook. There's only four ingredients. Here's the original link to the recipe.

Writers:  What are some ways you can inject conflict/interest in your story by focusing on regional differences? Are there some instances in your own life that might prove useful? Please share.

Readers:  Do you enjoy reading books with an outsider coming into an area and causing conflict/misunderstanding? Please share an example.

Photo Credit:  Francisco Ramos

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

On My Nightstand - A Husband's Christmas Prayer by Kathi Macias

Pastor Paul his wife, Diana, and their two small children move to Desert Sands. They'd always felt called to pioneer a church, but Diana has misgivings.

Torn between his love for the small congregation and his family, Pastor Paul doesn't know how to heal the rift in his marriage. Will his efforts produce results in time for a joyous Christmas celebration or will it be marred by their growing difficulties?

Kathi Macias beautifully crafts a story, highlighting the challenges and rewards of ministry. This sweet family struggles in their own Christian walk even as they reach out to others. It shows the desire on the part of both husband and wife to work through their problems with the help of God.

I'm giving this heartwarming Christmas story five stars.

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the author for an honest review. As always, all opinions expressed are mine, and I did not receive any payment.

Writers:  Have you written any Christmas novels/stories? Please share.

Readers:  Do you enjoy reading Christmas novels/stories? Why?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Zero Latitude - Which Way Will You Choose?

A friend's daughter recently went on a school trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. (How come they never had field trips like that when I was in high school?) One of the pictures she took showed her standing on 0.00 latitude. If you stand on one side, everything moves in a clockwise direction (think of water going down a drain), while on the other side it's counter clockwise.

As writers and readers, our lives can go in one of two directions - positive or negative. Think of yourself as standing on 0.00 latitude and choosing which side you'll stand on. We may face many setbacks such as rejection, difficulty finding an agent, getting a contract, bringing our writing to a publishable level, etc. Readers, you face difficulties in your life as well. Perhaps you're pursuing a degree, seeking employment, or dealing with relationship problems. How you address these issues also applies to you.

Our attitude will often determine our outcome. Allowing negative thoughts to fester in our minds will produce fear, hopelessness, and the desire to quit. It's the road to failure. On the other hand, a positive attitude and a commitment to excellence will set us up for success.

How do we remain positive when things look bad?

1.  A thankful heart - It's almost impossible to be negative when you're counting your blessings. Maybe life hasn't worked out the way we'd hoped, but we can be grateful for all the successes.

2.  Did you know the Word of God commands us to rejoice in the Lord? Did you know that God laughs? Did you know that laughter is like medicine?

If we've asked Jesus to forgive our sins and committed our lives to Him, we have joy within us. I'm not talking about happiness, which is an emotion that ebbs and flows depending on our circumstances.

True joy is present in any situation. Are we always aware of it. No. A recent speaker at our church used an example of sweet tea. It's made by using a bunch of teabags and a whole lot of sugar while the water is boiling. Then, ice can be added. Someone who doesn't know how to make it properly would hand you a glass of cold tea and a lot of sugar packets. What happens when you add the sugar? It sinks to the bottom. Only with vigorous stirring can you get the sugar to melt and distribute throughout the glass.

When we allow negative thought patterns, our joy sinks to the bottom of the glass. It takes some stirring to sweeten our "tea." Making our requests known to God and then celebrating the answer before we see it stirs our joy level. Singing, worshiping the Lord, immersing ourselves in Scripture all change our focus from the negative to the positive side of our problem.

This analogy helped me see the way out of the hole I'd dug for myself with negative thoughts. I knew what to do, but I seemed stuck. God answered my prayer, and the teachings and ministry we had last month helped me to step onto the positive side.

Writers and Readers: When desperate times come, how do you maintain your joy?

Photo Credit:  HollyEReid

Friday, October 28, 2016

Anaphora?/Inciting Incident/Research/Devo/Recipe

1.  Do you know what Anaphora is? I didn't either. Check out Margie Lawson's post at Writers in the Storm on this writing device. It was so good that I bookmarked it.

2.  What's so important about the "Inciting Incident?" Zoe M. McCarthy gives us the scoop on how it plunges the character onto his/her journey.

3.  Christian Headlines ran an article on new research that suggests earth was created specially to sustain life.

4.  Quiet Spirit has a devotional on Isaiah 41:10 - one of my favorite verses.

5.  We're galloping toward Thanksgiving. Now, is the time to experiment with some new recipes for the holiday season. Kraft recipes has a video for No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Layered Dessert. The no-bake part makes it hit with me already!

Writers:  What did you think of the article on Anaphora?

Readers:  What are some of your favorite scripture verses for dealing with fear?

Photo Credit:  Ned Horton

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On My Nightstand - Who Do I Lean On? by Neta Jackson

If you enjoy series books, I highly recommend Neta Jackson's Yada Yada series and House of Hope series. I completed Who Do I Lean On? about a week ago. It's Book 3 in the House of Hope volumes. I'm now reading Book 4, Who Is My Shelter?

Yada Yada novels center around a group of women who start praying together on a regular basis. The characters cover a broad range of ethnicities and the Chicago setting goes from a penthouse apartment to a homeless shelter. The books were so popular that they spawned Yada Yada Prayer Groups throughout the country.

The House of Hope series has many of the same characters and adds some new ones. The main character, Gabby Fairbanks, lives in luxury but her marriage is strained at best. An encounter with Lucy, a homeless woman, impacts her in ways she couldn't imagine. I'm enjoying her story.

One thing I loved about both these series was the authenticity of the characters. It wouldn't surprise me if I met one of them in person. Gabby with her corkscrew, redheaded curls, Lucy with her shopping cart and knit hat, Jody teaching elementary school by day and a typing class on Saturdays at Manna House, and the rest of the gang all became friends I looked forwarding to catch up with in each book.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I think you'll enjoy following the lives of these folks and watching how God works in their lives.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review or paid me. All opinions are mine as always.

Writers and Readers:  What makes a series special for you? Characters? Setting? Plot? Please share.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nostalgia - The Older Generations

After writing last week's Monday post, I kept thinking not only about my past, but also about the lives of my older relatives. My mother is in her nineties, and she talks about her childhood on a daily basis.

When my grandfather was alive, I tried to interview him. The whole idea didn't sit well, so I tried to listen for those important references. Another way to handle this curiosity is to view old pictures or ask what it was like in the old days.

First-hand accounts have an advantage over reading. There are opportunities to comment, ask questions, and empathize with your older relative. For me, an added benefit was the connection to my roots.

The stories we grew up with spurred several cousins to research the family tree. One found detailed information on the ship my grandfather arrived on from Europe. The pictures and text made Grandpa's stories come alive.

As a writer, I'm thrilled to have expert witnesses of another time in history. Those who lived through the early twentieth century, the Great Depression, and World War II can offer insights in a unique and personal way.

All of these tales fill me with gratitude for God's hand on my family. To see how my ancestors arrived in this country, met their spouses, had children, met the Lord as their Savior, and how it eventually produced yours truly fascinates me.

Writers:  Have you thought of your older relatives as experts on a particular time in history? Please share how their stories affect your writing.

Readers:  How does reading about the past combined with the experiences of family members connect the dots for you? Does reading a World War II fiction or non-fiction book help you understand what they went through during that time?

Photo Credit:  John Evans

Friday, October 21, 2016

Opening Lines/Marketing Secrets/Movies/Celebration/Thrifting

1.  Do you want to hook your reader? Zoe M. McCarthy instructs us to look for the mystery in the opening line of our books.

2.  Wow! Edie Melson delivers some great book marketing secrets. Check them out here.

3.  Did you see The Passion of the Christ? Christian Headlines reports Mel Gibson's next project may be a sequel, covering the resurrection.

4.  Dena Netherton celebrates an answer to a 40-year prayer.
5.  For all the collectors out there, A La Carte shares her Friday Finds. So much fun to see what she found thrifting!

Writers:  What was your favorite book marketing secret?

Readers:  Are you a movie buff? What did you think of Mel Gibson's plan to do a movie on the resurrection?

Photo Credit:  Debbie Schiel

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On My Nightstand - The Cat Lady's Secret by Linda W. Yezak

Emily Taylor returns to her hometown, but does her best to avoid old friends. She has a soft spot in her heart for those who face dire situations. Her friend, Millie, captures feral cats, and people pour out their hearts to her. Emily then helps them anonymously through her lawyer friend.

The handsome veterinarian, Scott, takes care of the kitties Millie finds. Scott keeps asking Emily for a date, but she refuses. He's frustrated at her rejections, but perseveres. Will he still pursue her when her secrets are exposed?

It took me a little while to get into this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it. When the author threw in suspense, it made me perk up. All in all it was a fun read and touched on some important spiritual truths.

I'm giving this story four stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book in a blog giveaway. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for or requested a favorable review. All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nostalgia - The Newbie Corner

Facebook jogs my memory about products, foods, entertainment, and practices common when I was growing up. The emotions these things evoke startle me when I consider people born two or three decades after me have little or no idea what it was like during that time.

As a writer, I can use these experiences to enhance my stories. When something traumatic occurs in the present - a new event for younger individuals - I can reach down and recall the first time life tried to throw a knock-out punch at me.

Another interesting use of nostalgia or bad situations is to write about that time period. Somehow, it's daunting to think of yourself as living during a historical period. While I'm not prepared to do this now, I've begun gathering material:

1.  Pinning fashions from the 1950's and 1960's.
2.  Decor from that period.
3.  Jotting down bits and pieces from my own life.
4.  Remembering historical events from the era.
5.  Thinking about society during those times and the turbulent era of the 1960's.

Even if you don't write a full-scale novel or non-fiction article about your life and times, this information could come in handy when referencing older characters or for comparison purposes.

Just think, the first smartphone will one day be remembered the way we recall party lines and telephone booths now.

Writers:  Do you keep a file with historical references or life happenings? Please share.

Readers:  Would you enjoy novels/articles with events or products that create nostalgia about your past? Please share.

Photo Credit:  W. Szabo Peter

Friday, October 14, 2016

Quick Lesson/Platform/Christian Athletes/Fun Story/Tackling Tasks

1.         Jerry B. Jenkins gives a quick lesson on the writing process. He goes through a series of questions to help sharpen his prose. Good stuff.

2.         Chad R. Allen shares strategies on how to build your platform and write your book.

3.         Christian Headlines reports on World Series veteran giving his testimony to fans after a game. Years ago, I remember being impressed with Christian baseball players. It's good for people of all ages to have role models.

4.         Lynn Simpson tells about an adventure that occurred while she was on her blog break. Hilarious!

5.         We all have days when the workload makes us want to hide under the covers. Carol, At Everything Home With Carol, shares her secret of tackling all those tasks.

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

Photo Credit:  mooncross

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On My Nightstand - Murder Comes by Mail by A. H. Gabhart

This is the second book in the Hidden Springs Mystery series. I didn't read the first one, but it didn't detract from the story.

Michael Keane saves the life of a would-be jumper and becomes an instant hero. Yet, the man's words haunt him. When pictures of dead women start arriving, he's convinced he saved the life of a serial killer. He's obsessed with trying to protect the women he knows from becoming the next victim.

Ann Gabhart does a great job with this cozy mystery. For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, the murders occur offstage and the focus is on the whodunit part. I liked the way she got into the minds and hearts of the characters. I did figure out the solution. If you're a mystery buff, I'd be surprised if you failed to pick up on the clues.

The setting is reminiscent of Mayberry and Andy Griffith which I loved. Maybe that's one of the reasons this book drew me in and kept me involved. Some of the characters' quirks and the easy interaction between them and Michael reminded me of Andy and the gang. Yet, Hidden Springs has its distinct brand that sets it apart from the long history to its modern-day problems.

I'm giving this book Five Stars. I'll be looking for the first book, as well as the next one in the series.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a blog giveaway. Neither the author nor the publisher requested or paid me for a favorable review. All opinions are mine.

Writers:  Have you thought about writing a cozy mystery? Please share.

Readers:  Are you a fan of the cozy mystery genre? Please share.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Learning Styles

When I started Occupational Therapy for my hand/wrist several months ago, one of the questions asked during the intake session was, "What is your learning style?" Several examples were given and I chose, "demonstration."

My therapist showed me pictures of the exercises needed to restore my function and demonstrated them. She used terms like, "Bend your fingers at the second knuckle, not the first one."  "How do you hold a key? Now, press your thumb into the therapy clay to simulate that movement." Her instructions, descriptions, and demonstrations helped me understand and perform the exercises.

I thought about my learning style for writing. Cramming long blocks of text into my head didn't cut it for me. A lot of words confuse me. Visuals help, but are not sufficient for me to "get it." Examples and descriptions put pictures to the words.

So, what works? My editor, Deirdre Lockhart, of Brilliant Cut Editing, figured it out. Here are a few examples of her instructions:

1. Excerpt: He doubted either of these women ever heard of disco music or bell-bottom pants. Editor's comment: " Adorable line, but...if he is 46, in 2016, then he was born in 1970. His prime "dating" years would have been late 80s-90s. Definitely no bell-bottoms, scarcely any disco. He only remembers those as something snickered at in old shows - unless you are referring to the 70s resurgence of the early 2000s."

Revision: "He doubted either of these women ever heard of "Walk Like an Egyptian" or velour shirts." Editor's comment in next edit: "Great and perfectly timed revision, Susan."

2.  Excerpt:  "They rode in silence, but the tension remained." Editor's comment: "How does he feel this? What does he see to show him Dan feels it too? Show."

Revision:  "They rode in silence, but Dan's mouth slashed across his face in a straight line. Maybe he could give it one more shot."

3.  Excerpt: "Lindsey seemed to relax." Editor's comment: "How can he tell? A soft smile? Little color returning to her pallid checks? What? Show. Share!"

Revision:  "Lindsey shrugged, and she resumed jogging."

My editor used examples and descriptive language to communicate the changes she wanted. This worked well for me.

Disclaimer:  I did not receive any payment for this endorsement. I've used this service and highly recommend it.

Writers and Readers: What's your learning style? Written instructions? Demonstration? Pictures? Other? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Holger Selover-Stephan

Friday, October 7, 2016

Treading Water/Time Management/Revival/Recipe/Shopping


1.         Heather Webb's article, at Writer Unboxed, spoke to my current situation. I'm between publishing contracts, spent the summer nursing a broken wrist, and editing my latest novel. Are you in a season where you feel like you're treading water? Check out this post.


2.         Writing, holding a full-time job, caregiving, and ministry responsibilities are my life. When I saw Sandra Ardoin interviewed author Amy Clipston on the subject, I jumped over there to see if I could get some tips.


3.         There's revival in Iran despite persecution. While believers cannot meet together, the internet has provided a way for them to connect. Check out the story here.


4.         There's a chill in the air, and our thoughts turn to pumpkin recipes. I found these low-fat pumpkin/cranberry muffins that take only 35 minutes to make.


5.         When the seasons change, the need to pick up some new clothes can  be tough on the budget. Check out these tips on shopping clearance sales from Money Crashers.


Writers:  Are you making progress in your writing or do you feel like you're treading water? Please share.


Readers:  Do you shop clearance sales? If you have any tips, please share.

Photo Credit:  Micah Burke

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On My Nightstand - Anchor In The Storm by Sarah Sundin

Lillian Avery keeps everyone at arm's length. Whenever people saw she was crippled, they rejected her, so she's learned to protect her heart. She's determined to reach her career goals and manages to land a job as a pharmacist with Dixon's drugstore. When Arch stars flirting, she brushes away his attention like an annoying mosquito.

Arch Vandenburg, a Naval Officer and her brother's best friend, visits the Avery family while on leave. He desperately wants someone to love him for who he is and not his money.

If there were Olympic medals for writers, Sarah Sundin would snag a gold for this book. I loved the addition of mystery and suspense to the romance. The characters grabbed my heart from the first page, and I read the book in record time. There was a strong spiritual thread, and the book was a clean read.

I can't wait for the next one in the series. 5 Stars!

Disclaimer: I did not get paid for this review, and all opinions are mine alone.

Writers: There are a gazillion romances out there. If you write this genre, how do you give your stories that added zip?

Readers: What type of romances do you enjoy? Historical? Contemporary? Romantic Suspense? Other? Please share.