Friday, April 28, 2017

The Dark Side of Writing by C. Kevin Thompson


C. Kevin Thompson

“All I want to do is write.”

“If I could just get a book published, then I’d be on my way.”

Ever uttered these words? Or similar phrases?

As a writer, when we delve into art of putting words down on a page, we tend to view life through the lens of the right side of the brain. That’s where art occurs. Creative juices flow like a river from that half. Flowers bloom. Butterflies flutter by. The wind snakes its way through the tree tops. The world is our canvas.

To a writer, evil lives within the left hemisphere. That’s where the horrors of math and science and logic lie. Creativeness can never coexist with these plagues of humanity. They are diametrically opposed in every way. Some non-fiction writers seem to think the two can be blended together, but the novelist scoffs at such naiveté.

Then, one day, the writer becomes a published author. The goal of “all I ever wish to do is write” seems well within his or her grasp now. Left-brained people send this author a thing called a contract. It is some legal agreement to satisfy the ones who have succumbed to the dark side. All they see is numbers, profit margins, and marketability. The author views these things as roadblocks to creative freedom. A necessary evil.

It’s not long before the now published author is asked to market said book. “These left-brained hucksters are simply trying to build their empires. All I want to do is write! That pure, innocent act of placing words in a select order to cause my kindred, right-brained spirits to jump for joy at the sheer awesomeness of my imagination.”

However, the shadowy secret of the dark side has been lurking all around the author. It’s been crouched in the branches of the beautiful trees the author paints with his/her “wordbrush.”It’s been swimming under the surface of the rhetorical river pieced together by the author’s prose. The left-brained have kept it hidden. They obscured the author’s view. They waited until the right time, when the right-brained author was at his/her weakest, most vulnerable point. They waited until the author was sitting in front of a contract. The pen of publication, like a tractor beam, snagged the author’s hand, dragging him/her into the fold without a whimper.

Before the author knew it, he/she was partnered with people who are more concerned with numbers, profit margins, and marketability.

Now, fully embroiled in this thing called a publishing relationship, the wretched, left-brained lowlifes placed further demands on the author. Facebook author pages must be created. Twitter accounts need to be launched. Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Hootsuite…to the author, the words of left-brained sound like the languages spoken in a bar on Tatooine.

The author feels like he/she has been sucked into a vortex—The black hole of business. All that awaits is the face-to-face meeting with the Emperor himself, informing the author he feels the author’s anger.

And we all know where anger leads, don’t we? Pain. The pain of sending out tweets and being a member of LinkedIn. Then comes the suffering. The author buying his/her own Facebook ads. Traveling a hundred miles away from home to sign books for people he/she doesn’t know. Telling novice authors who don’t market their books that he/she “finds their lack of faith disturbing.”

It’s then, in that moment, when the author realizes he/she has succumbed to the dark side of writing. The author is now a small business owner.

It’s inevitable, my right-brained friend. Don’t fight it. Embrace the left brain.Otherwise, end up on Dagobah, living in a hut, all by yourself, you will. Hmmm?





Book 2 of The Blake Meyer Thriller Series

A Looming Attack. A Loathsome Abduction. A Lethal Assassin.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer has an impossible choice to make. After thwarting a massive biological attack on the continental United States, the contagion is still missing and in the hands of the enemy. So is his family. Abducted as an act of revenge.

The clock is ticking, and the chances of finding his wife and children wane with every passing second. The assassin behind it holds all the answers.

Or does she?

Three demands. Three choices.

Blake Meyer knows what must be done...but can he accomplish it before it’s too late? Time is literally of the essence. And double time will not be fast enough.



C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His latest book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out in August 2017! Also, the second edition of The Serpent’s Grasp will be out in May 2017 through Hallway Publishing!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

Website:                                www.ckevinthompson.com/
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:        www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter:                                 @CKevinThompson 
Goodreads:                           C. Kevin Thompson




Thursday, April 27, 2017

LIVING IS INSPIRATION by Tanya Stowe

I’m often asked where I get my stories and the answer is always from life. So here is an example of how a story develops. Several years ago my husband and I were living in the Middle East for my husband’s work. One of our sons and his family were staying in our house to take care of it while were gone. Another of our sons needed to move so while they were in search of a larger house, they stayed at our house.  My sons are close so for the most part, things went smoothly until….

Our family dog had passed away the year before so my sons decided it was time for two new dogs. They hoped to train and raise them together. One son found a rescue dog. The other purchased his favorite breed, a husky. They thought since both animals were young they would be a good mix. My sons were wrong. 

They spent many hours watching “The Dog Whisperer” on TV to try to figure out why these two animals simply could not get along. I received countless emails about the drama. After about four months of a barrage of emails, I decided a dog whisperer would make a great hero for a story.

I was right. Justin Blakely from That Doggone Baby is an awesome character, a perfect antidote to the stressed out fashionista heroine, Jaci Meadows. But the real heroine of the story is a 200-pound malamute modeled after one of my brother’s favorite pets.

Miska was a huge malamute, playful, smart and intimidating when she wanted to be. We all adored her and I modeled Baby, the malamute in my story, after her. Of course Baby had some special help from a few of the Heart’s Haven angels (the location where the series is set) but for the most part she’s as sweet and complicated as the real dog.

While researching the story I was so impressed with the new ways they are training dogs to help with veterans. Those stories were amazing and since my mother had Alzheimer’s I wondered how that would work for patient’s suffering from that disease and voila…a story was born.

You’ll have to read the story to figure out how all those story lines connect. Oh, and the part where Baby wraps the leash around Jaci’s legs and knocks her down…that happened to me. So you see, living is my inspiration.

Buy links:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Pelican Book Group
Christianbook.com

That Doggone Baby blurb:

Everyone thinks they can push Jaci Meadows around: her family, her boss, even her full-grown Malamute, Baby. The dog reaches Jaci's shoulders, weighs more than the petite event planner, and has decided Jaci's designer shoes are a favorite toy. Justin Blakely understands dogs better than most people. It's clear to him Jaci Meadows can't handle her own life, let alone a two-hundred-pound Malamute ready to take on the world. Can one oversized Malamute and one very discerning dog whisperer help guide Jaci back to her true path? Can she learn to say no or is she just too addicted to the need to be needed?
 
Tanya Stowe is an author of Christian Fiction with an unexpected edge. She fills her stories with the unusual…mysteries and exotic adventures, even a murder or two. No matter where Tanya takes you…on a trip to foreign lands or a suspenseful journey filled with danger…be prepared for the extraordinary. Website, Facebook, Blog

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Writing Life: A Dog's Eye View by Dana Mentink

Who says we can't learn from animals? Not author Dana Mentink. Today, she reveals some of the things a terrier has taught her about writing. -- Sandy

Dana: Wow! Spring has finally sprung here in Northern, California. It's been the wettest winter on record and we are all glad to see signs of milder weather. Many changes have occured around here at Mentink Manor. We now have an extremely naughty little terrier charging around the place. Junie (also known as Juniper Drop it What Is That In Your Mouth Mentink) has added life to our place, for sure. Who would think that a scruffy faced, twelve pound dog could teach me a thing or two about writing and life?

The first thing Junie taught me was that the view is always the same inside. Every morning she is on fire to go out into the world and sniff and wag at anything and everything. "Let's go OOOUUUUUTTTTTT," you can practically hear her say. "We're too young to sit in a chair all day." Good advice, Junie. Let's take a break here in Chapter Three and go out for a walk.

Point number two, via Junie Mentink. If a thing is worth something, you can come back to it later. That bone she hid under the sofa? It's gonna be even more amazing when she rediscovers it later this week. Writing is like that, too. It's better if you let it sit and revisit it later. Then you can dig deep, reexamine your work and create something savory indeed.

And the last point. No two dogs are the same. Oh how I still miss our previous dog, my darling old Nala, and for a while, I looked at Junie in astonishment, thinking, "Nala never did that!" So two creatures of the same species can be so different they are almost incomparable. And so too must my fictional characters be. That hero must be radically different than his counterpart in the previous book. That heroine, must be as unique and special as the person who reads all about her. Point taken, Junie! So thank you Junie and both of us wish you a wonderful spring and a great year of reading and writing ahead!

Have you ever learned anything special from a furbaby?


 ~~~~~~


Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner. She is the author of over thirty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and she has also been honored with a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and Harlequin Heartwarming. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, an inquisitive puppy, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Comparison Corner by Gail Johnson

Have you ever compared yourself to another? You know, when you look at their bio and spy their list of accomplishments and say what in the world am I thinking? I have lost my mind! If so, you’re not alone.
"Creativity takes courage." - Henri Matisse, artist

Henri Matisse, a famous French artist, must have thought the same thing when he said, 
“It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.”

I find it strange that a famous artist would compare himself to others. Why would he do such a thing? To answer that question, I went in search of the story behind the quote. What I found helped me realize every gift is as unique as the artist. 

Like every famous person, Henri Matisse didn’t start out as a renowned artist. He began painting after his mother purchased art supplies for him while he recovered from an attack of appendicitis. That gift changed his life forever.


By 1905, his art fell under the label of Fauvism, characterized by the use of vibrant and unnaturalistic colors. Most people didn’t like this form of art. When Matisse unveiled Woman with a Hat, a portrait of his wife, people laughed at his use of raw colors on the canvas.


Their laughter may have bothered Matisse, but it didn’t stop him from painting. He studied artists such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Signac. Yet, he remained true to himself even while incorporating some of their techniques. For instance, he used Cezanne’s method of space, and Georges Seurat and Paul Signac technique of pointillism to create his Woman with a Parasol in 1905.


Matisse’s story got me to thinking…and praying. Eventually, I stepped away from the comparison corner and learned to appreciate my gift. I understand that writing, like painting, takes practice. I learn by doing. The first draft will be a mess. And even after it has been edited umpteen dozen times, it will never be a masterpiece to some. But like Matisse, I keep studying the craft and practicing my technique.


I do that by learning from other writers. I read novels, follow blogs, and subscribe to newsletters. I am a member of ACFW and a critique group. I keep the helpful advice and discard the rest. When I begin writing, I search my notes of the dos and don’ts. But, the technique is all mine.


Another thing I had to do was settle in my mind that everyone may not be a fan of my writing or chosen genre. Frankly, I’m not a fan of every genre or every writer, either. But, like Matisse, I will study, respect, and support my fellow artists because I can appreciate the work involved in producing their story.


In the end, Matisse had the last laugh when his paintings sold for millions, and his face appeared on the 1930 cover of Time magazine. So, if by chance you are chained to the comparison corner, I encourage you not to give up. Keep studying and keep writing! There is an audience of fans waiting for just you!

About the Author
Gail Johnson
Gail Johnson is a retired cosmetologist and homeschool teacher. She lives in the South on a farm with her family and three dogs where she writes inspirational fiction/nonfiction. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is currently learning the entire process of indie publishing. You can connect with her on Center of His Wheel, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Worth the Sacrifice by Mary Manners

 
 

It’s Worth the Sacrifice

By Mary Manners
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
~Hebrews 12:1~
What do the three M’s…Marathons, Manuscripts and Motherhood have in common? Well, as a former marathon runner, I’m convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the countless hours of running and training during my marathon days prepared me for the other two.
Marathon running is an endeavor that requires dedication, commitment, follow-through and sacrifice. Runners have to train when they don’t feel like it…when their legs ache and they haven’t slept well. When the weather is hot, humid, cold, rainy, or the ground is blanketed in snow. Runners train before the sun rises, after dark, and as a strong north wind tries to blow them right off the path. Distance runners maintain focus and stay true to the goal. There’s no turning back, only looking forward and always striving for the next great challenge.

 
The same can be said of writing. It’s a path that requires dedication, commitment, follow-through and sacrifice. After all, what reader would enjoy a book that lacks a satisfying ending…devoid of plot, direction, or character arc? What publisher would pay for such a book? So writers plot even when they don’t feel like it…when their friends are going to the movies or out to dinner, when they’d rather read than revise, when warm rays of sunshine beckon from an office window and their heart longs to run and play. Writers pound the keyboard early in the morning when the rest of the world has yet to rise and late at night when the rest of the world has gone to bed. They write when the refrigerator lures with just one more soda or a piece of chocolate pie. When writer’s block strikes they take a sledgehammer to it instead of pushing away from the desk, no matter how painful the sacrifice.
Being a mother is an endeavor that requires dedication, commitment, follow-through and sacrifice. Saying no to a child has never made any mother popular. Moms overlook their own needs to care for a child. They mother early in the morning, late at night, and every moment in between. They remain strong as a century-old oak when the storms of terrible two’s and the teenage years rage, while teaching their teen to drive or when their toddler throws a tantrum in the grocery store check-out line.
 
My life’s journey has been a blend of the three M’s. My daughter will graduate from college in May. The child I once shuttled to basketball practice and choir rehearsal now chauffeurs me. I have learned, depending on the day (sometimes even the hour), that I know nothing…and everything. Recently, a college friend of mine sent a photo that was snapped our sophomore year (1982). Looking at the photo, I thought I saw my daughter staring back at me. Was I ever that young, thin and…unwrinkled? My daughter took one glance at the picture and gasped, “Mama, is that really you?” as if I could have never—possibly—been that vivacious young woman in the snapshot. After a good laugh, I thought about the fleeting passage of time and how happy and truly blessed I am to have experienced the three M’s…Marathons, Manuscripts and, most especially, Motherhood.
 
 
~~~~~
 
 
Jessica Marlin comes to Honeysuckle Cove carrying a secret–she’s pregnant. Shamed by her indiscretion and the circumstances of a former way of life, she’s determined to make a home for her child in the quaint community—even if it means going it alone forever. But when her secret becomes too big to keep, she fears she’ll be forced to abandon her new role as kitchen manager at Honeysuckle Cove Inn. Will friendship—and God’s grace—prevail, or will Jessica be forced to uproot and move on once again?

Rogan Brooks has convinced both himself and his hometown of Honeysuckle Cove that he’ll never settle down long enough to embrace marriage, let alone fatherhood…until he sees the glow of pregnancy, along with the promise of a future, radiate from Jessica Marlin’s eyes. Can Rogan assure Jessica that his heart is true and he’s committed to being a daddy—complete with a happily ever after—for keeps?
 
~~~~~
 
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning with students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, hot dog vendor, grocery store cashier, lifeguard, swim instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that bring humor and insight to her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee.
Connect with Mary at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com. “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

 


Friday, April 21, 2017

Just Keep Writing by Candice Sue Patterson


Candice  Sue Patterson

What are some of the challenges you face as a Christian writer? Author Candice Sue Patterson names five common hindrances that we can all probably relate to, and she offers encouragement on how to handle them. ~ Dawn

Just Keep Writing

As Christian Fiction writers, I sometimes feel like we paint a giant target on our back for Satan to throw his poisonous darts at. Not that we purposely taunt the devil, but we definitely get his attention with the messages we weave into our manuscripts. He smells the truth and hope in our plotlines the way us country folk smell fertilizer in the spring. It hits with force and lingers, and Satan doesn’t want that.

So, he attacks.

I’m currently writing my fifth book, and I’ve felt his resistance, in some way, throughout every single one. Even now. Praise God, His strength and wisdom conquers. (Can I get an “Amen?”) I’m not here today to whine and complain about how tough an author’s job can be, but to show you some of Satan’s tactics from his book How to Discourage a Christian Writer and how to overcome them.

Doubt. The force is strong with this one. We solidify a great plot, get the go-ahead from God, and a few chapters in, we close our laptops, drop our head into our hands, and wonder how we ever came to be an author in the first place. The characters aren’t complex enough. There are holes in the storyline. Were our previous stories a glitch in the minds and computers of our publishing team? Had to be. We no longer possess an ounce of talent, if we ever did. 

Change. Nothing like the dynamics of your life changing to throw off your writing mojo. I’m not saying these life changes are orchestrated by the devil. These changes may be part of God’s perfect plan for your life. However, Satan is very crafty at oppressing us with fear and anxiety as we transition, throwing our scheduled and focused writing off balance. It’s hard to throw your characters into tough situations when you’re in the midst of slogging through your own.

Health. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel good writing is the last thing on my mind. Give me a cup of coffee, my pajamas, a warm blanket, my couch, a good book, and I’ll see you on the flipside. But sometimes what ails us is more serious than a two-day virus or a high pollen count. Our health affects our mood, concentration, and energy. Deadlines are looming, and Satan loves to kick us while we’re down.

Rejection. Your plot is unique, the proposal sound, and that agent acted interested, yet you still received a resounding NO. You toss rejection number fifty-seven into your computer’s trash bin and decide to give up. Before you do, envision Satan’s fist-pumping victory dance on your dreams. Yes, you’re disappointed. You’re shedding tears over another dead end, and that’s okay. Pick yourself back up, roll up your sleeves, poise those fingers, and write a bestseller.

Your way. The novel you’ve spent the last three years writing with that large publishing house in mind has been replaced by a reputable small press. Their covers aren’t shiny as the big house, nor the paper as high-quality. Your book won’t grace the shelves of every bookstore across the nation. Your paycheck won’t come near the five digits you were hoping would be deposited in your bank account so you can pay off some bills or attend a conference.

Paraphrased, God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). It’s okay if reality veers off the path of our dream. It’s HIS job to place our books into the hands of the readers who need it. It’s our job to write what He tells us to write.

There are many other hindrances I could mention, but you get the gist. So what should you do if plagued by a writing roadblock? If Finding Nemo’s Dory were an author, she’d say, “Just keep writing.” Even if it’s only for five minutes a day. Keep pounding away until Satan gets bored and moves on. I know it’s hard. I’ve been there too.

Just keep writing.





Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he's indebted to from a mistake made years ago.

When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers a compromise to keep her boutique and her life out of bankruptcy—she'll aid in his lengthy recovery if he'll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces.

Amidst a battle-of-wills, their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, providing opportunity to overcome their pasts and start anew. Will this confirmed bachelor consider holy-matrimony, or will Huck's choices sting them a second time?


Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. Her debut novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart was a 2012 ACFW First Impressions finalist and made INSPYs Longlist for 2016. For more on Candice, visit her website at www.candicesuepatterson.com.

To connect with Candice and learn more about her books, please visit: