Monday, July 15, 2019

Never Give Up by Patty Nicholas

Last week I had the honor of helping my mother clean out my late father’s office. We had gone through all of the important papers a few years ago, but this time was all about his books. Hundreds of books acquired over a lifetime of collecting.

My dad was a professional editor for several scientific publications, however his passion was the art of the story. He loved reading as much as he loved writing. While he supported his family editing for science writers, he always wanted to put together, and sell a great novel, and it showed in the multitude of books he had on the craft of writing.

Unfortunately, he passed away before his dream was realized, but he never gave up. My mother mentioned how she used to fall asleep listening to the click of the keyboard as he wrote into the wee hours of the morning. I have fond memories of the different stories he would tell every time we would get together.

As I went through his books, my initial thoughts and emotions were of sadness. He worked so hard, and never saw his deepest desires of sharing his stories with the world, yet, after contemplating my time in my childhood home and with excellent counsel from a dear friend, I see how he stayed with his passion. He never gave up, he told stories until the very end, and there is no doubt that he passed his zeal, his hopes and dreams on to me.

If I have half his determination, drive, and half his desire to write well, I will have carried on his legacy. There have been a few times in my writing career that I wondered if it was worth it to keep going. When I think of how my dad persevered, I have to carry on.

If I have half his determination, drive, and half his desire to write well, I will have carried on his legacy

I was blessed to have the example of my dad. Someone who didn’t quit. Someone who never gave up.


Multi award winning writer, Patty Nicholas lives in the mountains of North Carolina. She is a busy event planner for the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, and is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers Group.

She is a mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three. She writes Bible studies and devotionals as well as contemporary romance.

Devotions are published in compilations by Lighthouse Bible Studies.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Overcoming TSTL by Amy R. Anguish

Amy R. Anguish
Have you received a great piece of advice during your writing journey? Author Amy Anquish shares a bit of wisdom she was given that has stuck with her since the beginning. ~ Dawn

Overcoming TSTL


Know what those letters stand for?

If you haven’t heard them before, you’re where I was about fifteen or so years ago. I was fresh out of college. My mentor, an author who had come and spoken to my Advanced Comp class, and then taken me under her wing after finding out I wanted to be an author, too, agreed to read my manuscript and give advice. On one of the first pages, she wrote those letters about my heroine. Out to the side, she explained them—“Too stupid to live.”

That was near the beginning of my writing journey, a path that started back in high school, but didn’t get serious until later in college. After taking a creative writing class at my university, I was sure I knew all I’d need to know about writing, could go throw some of my story ideas onto the page, and send it off for instant contracts. Of course, it didn’t quite work that way.

Not when my main character was too stupid to live. It was a tale about a woman who was an author and agreed to run off on a family vacation with this guy she’d just met who needed a girlfriend to keep his family off his back. Looking back, I agree with my mentor. In this day and age, that girl would be dead. I’m pleased to say I’ve learned a few things since then.

Now that I have two books published and several more in rough draft stages on my computer, I am better at creating characters who think a bit more before they agree to run off on trips. I don’t put them into situations where they might die more often than not—at least not if I can help it. I write romance, after all. And I definitely know enough to realize that 30,000 words is not enough for a novel.

Someday, I’m going to go back and rewrite that story. I’ll have the heroine know the guy she agrees to travel with, so that she won’t be simply ignoring stranger danger. And I’ll fine-tune a few other quirks that were pointed out by my mentor. But right now, that story stays as it is to remind me.

On the days when I get discouraged, feel like I’ll never get as many reviews as I’m hoping for, never be able to publish more than one story every other year, or never have more than a couple hundred followers, I look back at how far I’ve come.

It took six years for my first novel to go from NANOWRIMO to published novel, but it did. It took almost that long for my second. I started this journey with just a handful of followers on Facebook, just a few reviews on Amazon. But you know what? I have more now. And they’re all good. And they’re not all from friends and family.

So, whenever you run across a friend’s comment, pointing out something stupid you’ve done in your manuscript, take the advice as it’s meant. Grow from it and move on. Someday, you’ll look back on it and see how far you’ve come. And then you can appreciate it even more.

Someday, you’ll look back on your writing journey and see how far you’ve come. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters

Faith and Hope
Faith and Hope

Two sisters. One summer. Multiple problems.

Younger sister Hope has lost her job, her car, and her boyfriend all in one day. Her well-laid plans for life have gone sideways, as has her hope in God.

Older sister Faith is finally getting her dream-come-true after years of struggles and prayers. But when her mom talks her into letting Hope move in for the summer, will the stress turn her dream into a nightmare? Is her faith in God strong enough to handle everything?

For two sisters who haven't gotten along in years, this summer together could be a disaster ... or it could lead them to a closer relationship with each other and God.

Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher's kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

Follow her at or

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Time to be Tough By Patti Jo Moore

If someone used only one word to describe you, what do you think that word might be? Talented? Funny? Kind? Outgoing?

I can guarantee that one word that would not be used to describe me is TOUGH. 😉

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was a kindergarten teacher in my other life (before writing full-time) and I absolutely loved working with young children. I especially loved working with them when they were nice to each other, and I didn’t need to intervene with little talks about the importance of playing nicely, sharing, and treating others the way we want to be treated.

Maybe that mindset of “wanting everyone to get along” is why I struggle with adding conflict in my stories. Yes, I know that without conflict and strife in our characters’ lives, there’s not really a story (or one that others want to read!). And even though I’ve been writing a while, I still find it difficult to - - as one of my author friends phrased it - - “be mean to my characters.” That goes against my kindergarten-teacher nature! I don’t want to be mean, even if those characters aren’t real people (although we writers know they seem very, very real to us).

Yet, since I enjoy writing stories, and want my stories to be entertaining and have a meaningful message, I must have conflict, and in my stories the conflict must be resolved by (or before) the happy ending.

So - - being a seat-of-the-pants writer, I make myself pause at certain places in my writing, and check to see if I’m being “tough” and adding conflict that will make my story stronger. If I’m not, then I take a break, pray some more about my writing, and then later return to my project with a renewed spirit - - determined to be as tough as necessary. Yes, it’s an ongoing struggle, but one I’m working on. 😊

What about you? Do you struggle with having enough conflict in your stories?

In Tune With Romance 

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Meg Mills is thankful she relocated to Coastal Breeze after becoming widowed two years earlier. As she makes plans to achieve her dream of owning a small bookstore, she begins doubting herself after being harassed by her late husband’s stepmother. She’s also confused at her strong attraction to the shy, lanky piano tuner who arrives for an appointment one day.

Todd Davis is grateful for his aunt’s encouragement to move to Coastal Breeze after a painful divorce, and is soon captivated by an outgoing piano tuning client. But he’s an introvert, and feels certain the pretty widow wouldn’t be interested in him.

When Todd is hired as the local church’s choir director, he hopes this will help him get to know the attractive widow better—if he can come out of his shell. When the cousin who bullied Todd as a youth unexpectedly arrives in Coastal Breeze, Todd must confront his greatest fear, while getting past the pain of his memories. Meg worries that her exuberant personality has driven Todd away—until she learns the truth about his past.

Can two people who are polar opposites help each other & find romance in the process?

Patti Jo Moore is a retired kindergarten teacher and lifelong Georgia girl. She loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee, and is blessed to be published with Forget-Me-Not Romances. When she’s not spending time with her family (including her sweet grandbaby) or writing her “Sweet, Southern Stories” Patti Jo can be found feeding cats—her own six and local strays.

She loves connecting with readers and other writers, and can be found on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore or her personal blog at

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

When Grumpiness Strikes by Janet W. Ferguson

Back when I was in my thirties and forties, I could read books—long books (fiction or nonfiction) — really quickly. I felt sure I amazed friends with my speedreading prowess, ha!

I was a high school librarian in my late forties when I started writing fiction. Four novels spilled out easily those first years. Now in my mid-fifties with grown kids, I thought I’d really churn out some words every day. But life is still busy, just in different ways.

And I’m slower. Maybe it’s my thyroid condition (I blame everything on that now, LOL), but I don’t read as fast, and I don’t write as fast. I don’t multitask as well, plus now I have to think of new ways to describe a visceral reaction or internal voice in my characters that I haven’t used in a prior novel. I have to be even more creative and dig deeper to find something fresh, because I’ve already used a certain plot device or medical condition or social issue.

Wow, that’s hard work! Not to mention all the marketing authors have to do! I thought writing was going to be sort-of fun work.

But I started getting grumpy.

I realized, at some point, I was becoming annoyed with people who interrupted me with a phone call or a question or an invitation to lunch—like family, friends, maybe even… God?

It was time to readjust my attitude. I had to remember why I was writing in the first place. I’d started this whole writing gig to honor the Lord and to encourage readers and to share the gospel. I had to stop acting as if God was stressing because I hadn’t gotten enough done. Because the truth, of course, is I need Him, and I need to be with Him to let Him teach me, not just plow through without Him so I can keep up with the other authors I know.

My latest novel, The Art of Rivers, took me two years to finish, but I believe it’s some of my best work. I had to learn a lot about the different sides of addiction through interviews and prayers and research and life. This story stretched me spiritually, and I feel good about the results.
Whether you’re like a Speedy Gonzales or Pokey Little Puppy, just be sure you’re still writing with the Lord. So you won’t be a grumpy Christian author like I was.


Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars—those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.

After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.

Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

How to Write a Novel: The (Not-So) Definitive Guide By Marie Wells Coutu

Since I became serious about writing fiction, I’ve studied various methods for creating a novel.

The first challenge was figuring out if I was a “plotter” or a “pantser.” Since I grew up making outlines before writing term papers, I quickly realized I am most comfortable having an outline (i.e. plot) before starting to write a novel. Without a roadmap to my destination, I wind up having to rewrite large portions of the book.

So I began looking for guidance on how to develop my plot. And I found lots of wonderful options:

• The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall
• Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method
• The Story Equation and My Book Therapy, Susan May Warren’s coaching community for writers
• Stan Williams’ workshop on The Moral Premise
• Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
• The Hero’s Journey, based on the work of Joseph Campbell
• Angela Hunt’s Plot Skeleton
• Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Each of these books, workshops, and methods contributed to my understanding of how to develop a solid and engaging plot. I continue to seek out every piece of writing advice I can find, devouring each issue of Writer’s Digest, attending one or more writing conferences every year, and listening to webinars and podcasts. I have a backlog of saved video lessons that I may never finish in my lifetime.

From each one, I glean something new about creating plots, deepening characters, or engaging readers. All these various sources blend together when I sit down to write. I use the basic plot structure from one and mix in ideas from others to create my own method and my own unique stories.

You were expecting the final one-size-fits-all recipe for writing a novel? Sorry, there’s no such thing.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying disregard all this advice that’s available. It’s valuable, and to be a professional author, it’s necessary to learn the craft. Read, study, take courses, attend workshops, try out different methods. But don’t get discouraged if the plot “formula” that works for your critique partner or writing buddy doesn’t work for you. Adapt bits and pieces of what you learn and put them together to develop your own method.

Ultimately, following the method that works best for you is what will make your novel uniquely yours.

You were expecting the final one-size-fits-all recipe for writing a novel? Sorry, there’s no such thing @MWCoutu @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #SeriouslyWrite

Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like old houses, gnarly trees, and forgotten treasures. When she’s not writing about finding restoration and healing through God-designed journeys, she enjoys taking broken things and making them useful.

The Secret Heart, her newest release, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.

She grew up in Kentucky, has lived in Kansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa and South Carolina. With her handyman husband of four decades, she now divides her time between Florida and the Midwest.
You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page, her website, or follow her on Twitter or on

Monday, July 8, 2019

Teamwork and the Writer by Peter Leavell

We like to think writing is a solitary, confined activity. However, with a toddler on one arm, someone talking in another ear, and a Cheshire cat on the keyboard tapping 45,835 pages of the letter ‘M,’ writing is hectic.

And then the teamwork begins.

Growing up, I was a runner. I loved the solitude of jogging South Dakota’s endless country roads, sometimes 10 or 15 miles. A skinny kid with speed, I did okay zooming past strong farmer boys in cross country and track.

My college life began in Iowa. If someone wants to jog in Iowa winters, they lengthen shoes so long they called it cross-country skiing. Meh. So, I was surprised to land on an intermural basketball team. Yay.

I was faster than everyone else. Every play, I dribbled past the first dude, weaved through the next two, spun around the tall defender, leapt high for a layup, and missed.

The coach, Donahue (name changed to protect Larry), was verbose and gentle. “Idiot. Don’t shoot,” he kindly explained. “Pass. Or I’ll stuff you in a snowbank.” He removed his fingers from around my neck.

I dribbled the ball past people, then threw it to someone else with the same shirt color who, while slower, knew how to get the round, bouncy thing through iron hoop that held a useless net thing. Yay. Points.

The Writer’s Life

When I received my first edits and rejections, many were as kind as Larry, and I felt some resentment. But I recalled lessons from Larry, er, Donahue. There are holes in my game. Like shooting. And as much as I think I’m the next Shakespeare, they helped me see problems in my writing. Like someone cried in every scene. Or people were forever brushing up against something. Or that I numbered the chapters all wrong.

I relied on feedback from contests. And then colleagues. Editors. Agents. And then finally teamed up with a traditional publisher who, I discovered, like team players. So, I was a team player. And still am. We can win if we work together.

Listen to those in the industry. They want to win as much as you. And I want you to win, too. Build and rely on a team, and you’ll find your work stronger than ever before.

Writing is teamwork. Anyone else who says differently is still trying to get published. #writerslife #seriouslywrite @peterleavell

How do I strengthen my writing? Create a team! Read more at— #writerslife #seriouslywrite @peterleavell

Teamwork and the Writer. Listen to those in the Industry. They want to win as much as you do. #writerslife #seriouslywrite @peterleavell

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at

Friday, July 5, 2019

We Write in a Different Time by Melinda V. Inman

Meme - When we write for others, we participate in God's restorative work

We Write in a Different Time

My father’s life experiences would send most of us to therapy. No such services were available then in rural Kansas, and if they were, stigma was attached. People born in 1935 pressed on, stoic as they internalized their grief and pain, all while doing their duty, serving their country, raising their families, and performing their jobs with excellence. It was a hardscrabble life.

Meanwhile, deep wounds festered for decades, his trauma shaping my fears. When he entered his eighties, all of a sudden, he began speaking about experiences he’d never discussed openly in the past. One by one, the Lord resurfaced the life-altering events that had shaped his life.

First, he talked his way through his naval service. We honored him for his valor during long swims through shark-infested waters, enemy fire in turbulent oceans, hearing loss from his role as gunner’s mate, and swabbing decks covered in radioactive fallout after watching nuclear bombs tested in the Pacific. He spent much time in this place of reminiscence.

Then, seeming to have come to peace with his military experiences, he shut that door, moving on to consider the tragic death of his brother, which he had witnessed as a thirteen-year-old. My sister and I sat breathless, barely moving, as he described in detail the car accident that changed his life. We’d never before heard these facts. Gently, the Lord enabled him to come to peace, to see that as the little brother in the backseat, he was not to blame. More healing.

There were other harms. One by one, the Lord surfaced these. This inner work allowed my father to be at peace at last, more at rest in the Lord than I’ve ever before seen him. Now his prayers are spontaneous and sweet, his love more tender.

Watching the Lord gently guide this process of personal growth, bringing wounds to the surface, and then applying the balm of comfort and grace has been a great encouragement. My mother says we’re watching God prepare my father for heaven. I’m deeply reassured and comforted by the love God has shown by patiently and lovingly bringing healing into his life.

Though we live and write in a different time than my father experienced as a young man, the Lord’s help has existed for generations, and it continues. He works in the lives of each generation according to our needs, our cognition, and our current technology, or lack thereof.

Nowadays, we sift and sort through our traumas more readily, resurfacing them and getting professional help if necessary. We’ve realized that talking through issues with encouragement from God’s Word can help greatly. We more readily seek input from our pastors and friends as we wrestle with the Lord during hardships. We reach out for community support when needed. We discuss topics that were avoided in previous generations.

We can now research online. We need not bear these experiences in silence for an entire lifetime. Anyone can find Bible study help, assistance with original languages, and guidance for practically any situation, because of the ready tools at our fingertips. We are a new generation in a new era, with more access to the written word than ever before, now available on our gadgets, computers, and phones.

At this unique time, the Lord has gifted us to be writers. Us! What a privilege!

As Christian writers, God can use our words to give encouragement to the suffering, providing a source of help to turn them toward God’s Word. Given the pain my father experienced and that we, his family, suffered as he struggled for decades, I feel particularly blessed to be used by the Lord right now as a writer of encouragement.

Writers, our mission is from God, for this time and in this season. When we pray, seek God’s wisdom and inspiration, and write to uplift others, we participate in God’s restorative work. The words he gives can transform lives, apply salve to heartache, and begin the healing of families.

This work is holy. Lean into your holy calling. The Lord uses your gifting for good.

When we pray, seek God’s wisdom and inspiration, and write to uplift others, we participate in God’s restorative work. This work is holy. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @MelindaVInman

Melinda V. Inman, author of Refuge; Fallen; and No Longer Alone

Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda Viergever Inman now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the Midwest. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives. Find her weekly at To find her work and to be notified of future published novels, follow her at


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