Friday, April 20, 2018

That Pesky Little Voice in My Head by Laurie Lucking

Laurie Lucking

What have you experienced on the road to publication? What have you learned? Have you heard God’s voice along the way? Author Laurie Lucking shares her personal journey. ~ Dawn

That Pesky Little 
Voice in My Head

I’ve always been a reader, but for most of my life, I was convinced I wasn’t a writer. Stories flitted through my daydreams all the time, but in school, creative writing never felt like a good fit. So I let my stories live on in my head and pursued other interests.

After college, I went to law school and worked at a large law firm for several years. But when my husband and I had our first son, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I loved the time with my baby, but restlessness plagued me.

One beautiful day that fall, I pushed his stroller down a path, brainstorming about what I could take on as a creative outlet. The thought “You could write a book” spoke clearly into my mind, but I immediately dismissed it. I was bad at creative writing. But the thought wouldn’t go away, and eventually I decided to give it a try, certain I’d quit within a week.

Instead, I fell in love. Without the parameters of an assignment, I could take my time and write whatever I wanted. My head became so filled with my story, I couldn’t type fast enough when I found opportunities to sit at my computer. As months passed, the scenes formed into a complete manuscript.

Then I got another mental nudge. What if you published it? I began to cautiously look into the publication process, and soon I was hooked again, this time by the idea of my own words turning into one of the adored books that lined my shelves. I edited my story to the best of my ability, drafted a query letter, and began submitting to agents.

That’s when the rejections started pouring in. I kept trying, but eventually it became clear this manuscript was not destined for publication. The failure hit me hard, bringing back all my initial doubts about writing. Fortunately, a new story was floating around in my mind, begging to be written. So I tried again.

This time, I was in a writing group, had a set of fabulous critique partners, and had attended several conferences. My manuscript went through multiple revisions as I learned more about the craft and implemented feedback. In July, 2016, I met the editor of Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing at a conference, and in early 2017, I squealed and sobbed when she offered me a contract. My debut YA fantasy novel, Common, released this past February.

I now have no doubt that the little voice in my head came from God. Not necessarily because the world needs my books, but because I needed to take this journey. Through it, I have learned so much about patience, humility, perseverance, and surrendering my ambitions to God. I’ve grown in ways I never could’ve imagined and found a new closeness with my Creator by embarking on my own creative process.  I look forward with excitement (and a bit of trepidation!) to what He has in store for me and my books next!

Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

An avid reader practically since birth, Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. When she gets a break from playing superheroes and driving windup cars, she writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance. Her debut novel, Common, released in February from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, and her short story, “Threshold,” was published in a Fellowship of Fantasy anthology titled Mythical Doorways. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more by visiting

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Using Real History in Your Stories by Pegg Thomas

Writing historical and historical romance means using real history in your stories. Sometimes, that history isn’t pleasant. There are many instances of difficult situations—true history—that need to be told, even though they don’t always show humanity at its best.

Such was the case while I was writing Her Redcoat for the Backcountry Brides Romance Collection. This is a collection of stories set in Colonial America on the frontier—the backcountry as it was called then. I wanted to set my story in what is now Northern Michigan. Most people don’t equate Michigan with Colonial America, but the northern reaches of the state were first visited by the French in 1623. By the 1700s, there were several towns along the waterways between the Great Lakes.

Not too far from where I live is Fort Michilimackinac (mish’-ee-lee-mack’-in-naw). I set my story there because of a well-known uprising of the Ojibwe and Sauk tribes against the British at the fort. The British had recently ousted the French following the French and Indian War. The local tribes had been friendly with the French for over a century. They did not like the British who were stingy with their gifts and arrogant in their demeanor. 

How was I to craft a romance amid so much tension? By playing off the tension, of course! My hero is a British soldier, but one who doesn’t want to be there. My heroine is a local Métis (May-tees’), a woman of mixed French and native cultures. He was prejudiced against the “heathens,” and she was prejudiced against the English. 

So what was going to bring them together? There had to be a connection. He was educated, highly educated for the time, and she owned a book she couldn’t read. Bam! 

Now for the biggest challenge of all … they have to survive an uprising that killed almost every soldier save the officers who were kept alive and traded for ransom. How did I do that? You’ll have to read the book!

To celebrate the release of The Backcountry Brides Collection, including my story, Her Redcoat, I’m giving away one of my signature shawls. Today the area around Fort Michilimackinac is known for its beautiful lilacs. One subscriber to my newsletter will win Northern Lilacs, my handspun, handknit wool shawl on May 31, 2018. Subscribe today to be entered!

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Discipline of Writing and the Fear of Failure by Olivia Rae

One of the toughest things about becoming a writer is discipline. We all know a book doesn’t write itself and no matter how much praying we do, the words don’t always come. I have been writing a long time…well, sort of. I spent the first five years of my writing career talking about writing, researching, taking classes, attending conferences, perfecting my first three chapters and a synopsis, but I never finished a book.

I used to blame my lack of productivity on my day job, my family, my dog, the neighbor’s dog, anyone and anything, instead of myself. Slowly, but surely all the writers in my critique group became published authors, while I kept on pretending that someday I would write a great book. Even after publishing six books and having four other manuscripts looking for a publisher, I still struggle with sitting down to write.

Often what keeps me back from writing is fear of failure. I’m a sensitive sort and every time someone gives me a bad review or a rejection letter lands in my inbox, I crawl in my closet (literally) with my favorite candy (right now it’s black jelly beans), but the key is: I always crawl back out. And that’s the answer. God says in the Bible we should not fear anything. Not everybody is going to love me or embrace what I write, but that’s okay. If you put yourself out there you will be rewarded. Maybe it’s becoming a contest finalist, an email from a fan, a publishing contract or a hug from your hubby or kids. Whatever it is, remember your talent is a gift from God. So use it!

Tips on how to finish a book:

1. Keep a log of how many words or pages you write each day.

2. Set a goal and tell someone who can hold you to it. (i.e. I will finish this book or these many pages by…)

3. Carve out a writing time each day and stick to it. (Start with a half hour and work from there.)

4. Exercise (Yes, taking a walk or doing a few sit ups gets the blood flowing and the brain working.)

5. Remember, writing time is not plotting, research or marketing time. You can plot a new book when you have finished this one.

So stop reading this post and go write!

P.S. I’d love to hear your favorite writing strategy, email me at


Olivia Rae is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary inspirational romance. She spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town on the edge of a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.

Olivia is the winner of the New England Readers’ Choice Award, Illumination Award Bronze medalist, Buyer Best Book Award Finalist, a Kindle Book Award Semi-Finalist, I Heart Indie Award Finalist, and Grab Me Award Finalist. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.

Contact Olivia at

For news and sneak peeks of upcoming novels visit:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Unlike Wounds, Scars Can Work Wonders by Zoe M. McCarthy

Friday, I wanted to delve deeper into my heroine. For the first time, I used my copy of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I chose my heroine’s compromised basic needs, her false beliefs, her fears, her personality traits, the triggers that aggravate her wound, and what she needs to overcome the emotional injury. As my heroine came alive, I planned to take her on a journey, one where she rises above her wound and falls in love.

I was pumped.

Then on Easter Sunday, our pastor said resurrected Jesus no longer had the wounds he’d suffered on the cross, but he bore their scars to help Thomas's unbelief. Wounds and scars are different. Indulged wounds prevent us from being whole. Scars show our wounds are healed, but they also testify that the wounds happened.

I was intrigued.

That night, I went to our local movie theater to see the true story I Can Only Imagine. When Bart Millard held on to his wound, it prevented him from being authentic in his music. Only glimpses of his gift surfaced. When he faced his wounds and saw the miracle God performed in the one who’d wounded him, he forgave the man and wrote a new song in ten minutes. That creation, “I Can Only Imagine,” has been the most played Christian song on radio ever.

I was inspired.

Then Monday night, I watched Breathe, the true account of Robin Cavendish, whom polio paralyzed from his toes to his head in the sixties. Doctors told him he'd live only three months. While lying in a hospital ward with other paralyzed men on ventilators, Robin wanted to die. He wasn’t interested in God’s ability to work good from his condition. To him, he lived in a prison. His devoted wife asked him what she could do to make him give up his death wish. “Take me home,” he replied.

Robin was the first paralyzed person to live at home hooked to a ventilator. His life improved as his brainstormed inventions aided his movement and communication. Skeptics looked through clinical eyes at what he'd accomplished and thought his life outside a hospital was too dangerous. A pioneer, Robin traveled over the world, advocating for disabled people. God used him to better countless lives.

I was awed.

I’ve been praying for excellence in my writing. Defining my heroine's needs, beliefs, fears, and personality traits from the wound thesaurus was a great start. Then these past few days, the Lord gave me a broader understanding of wounds so I can develop believable characters and reach the hearts of my readers.

What has pumped, intrigued, inspired, and awed you to become a better writer?

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress, Gift of the Magpie, and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, gardening, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at

 Cooking Up Kisses (Five Sweetly Scrumptious Novellas)

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex- turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!É

Monday, April 16, 2018

Evolution & Revolution by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans

Take a peek at one of my treasured writing mementos. What you see here is my ‘First Sale’ box, given to me by my local Romance Writers of America Chapter. Greater Detroit RWA has a wonderful tradition of awarding crystal boxes to those who cross the threshold from ‘pre-published’ to ‘published.’ It gave me quite a start to reflect on the date.

July 26, 1996.

An entire tidal wave of evolution has occurred in the industry since that long-ago day—a paradigm shift to which the world of publishing continues to adjust. Back then, publication avenues were incredibly limited. There were, perhaps, five ‘big’ publishers, with a variety of genres under their far-reaching umbrellas. Authors scrambled to claim a set number of publication spots that came and went in monthly rotations. Worse yet, in many cases, it took up to a year for an author to hear word on a submission and multi-submissions were not accepted. Imagine the crushing blow of waiting and hoping for that length of time with all your “eggs” in one basket, only to receive the dreaded rejection letter and somehow find the temerity to continue.

Well, been there and done that, friends. Too many times to count. To this day, great writers, great stories, fail to hit the relentlessly narrow requirements of winning entrée to large, traditional publishing houses. But the big publishers did not, and will not, have the final say.

So, where’s my dose of Monday encouragement? Right here: Enter authors on a mission. Enter—a revolution.

E-readers and E-books came alive during my writing tenure, changing the landscape of book-buying, and reading, forever. Once regarded by writers and publishers alike as nothing more than a joke, self-publishing transformed into a formidable force with increasing reach, impact, and importance. Why? Because authors took their craft, and their dreams, seriously. They refused to die. They created the stories of their heart, then pursued good editing and production value. Those efforts have taken publishing even further by storm and opened avenues for an increasing population of talented authors.

I’ve loved watching the way publishing parameters have expanded. More great stories, and great authors, are finding a voice in the new world of publishing. Reflecting on my 20-plus years in the industry makes me realize how blessed we are as the result.

So, ignore the shifts and shimmies under your feet and keep your eyes on the prize. Share a story from your heart that flows from head to page and into a world of publishing that is more welcoming than at any other point in history. The options are limitless.



Every saint has a past…and every sinner has a future.

Country music bad boy Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction, and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up and comer, Pyper Brock, and instantly sparks ignite.

Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation, so despite a rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, she soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. Decades ago, her father, in a drunken rage, tossed her and her mother onto the streets. No way will Pyper make the mistake of falling for a man whose done battle with the bottle.

What happens when Chase’s quest to win Pyper’s love breaks down chains of resentment and eases the long-buried wounds of her childhood? And what happens when Pyper’s father shows up in Nashville, clean, sober and seeking a chance to apologize?

Can Pyper follow a pathway to peace when it comes to her father? Can she fully trust Chase? Above all, can a sin damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness?


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Readers laude her work as “Riveting,” “Realistic and true to heart,” “Compelling.”

Her Christian fiction debut, Devotion, earned the Bookseller’s Best Award as well as the Heart of Excellence Award. Her follow-up novel, Forgiveness, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors as did her book Hearts Communion. She is also a two-time recipient of the Selah Award for her books Then & Now and Finding Home. 

Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan and an active member of Romance Writers of America, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. You can connect with Marianne at

Friday, April 13, 2018

Entrusted: Why You Can’t Have My Journey by Mary Albers Felkins

Mary Albers  Felkins
No matter how successful we may become, there will always be someone who receives more or better contracts, more reviews, or perhaps more recognition in general. How do we—should we—handle it? Mary Albers Felkins shares words of wisdom. ~ Dawn

Entrusted: Why You Can’t Have My Journey

I’ve been at this writing adventure for over five years now (middle school years, scribbling stories in spiral notebooks notwithstanding). It began in the summer of 2012 with a pretty straightforward statement, delivered on the heels of an ominous conversation with my husband related to our wobbly financial status at the time. “I’m going to write a book.”

Okay, given the situation, most rational people might search for a job to help contribute, some source of ready income. Not me. How hard could this be? Self said.

Give it up for cheery ignorance.

Since that day I’ve learned plenty about plot structure, character development, tension, conflict. Weeding through the thickness of those things called sentences, I’ve sharpened my ability to edit where needed. Score!

But on a grander scale, I’ve learned the necessity of disregarding a particular, repeat offender word that seeps back into my hard-wired brain.

It’s, well—hushed whisper—the ‘c’ word.

You know. Comparison.

Gasp. She said it.

Yes, I did. Here’s why.

With reference to Himself, the Lord is not a fan of comparison.(“Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44:8b; “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” 45:5a) Unless… I’m making good use of comparison for the purpose of becoming stronger, of better character, to become more like Him on this writing journey.

Given the way He knit me in my mother’s womb to be unlike any other person, this walking, talking, thinking, breathing package called humanity can’t be duplicated. My quirks and pet peeves, metabolic rate, stature, eye, skin and hair color, my personality and (partly sunny) disposition are all reflections of an Almighty Creator God. And He is wholly pleased with His creation. (Psalm 139:13-14)

And so it is with the writing adventure He’s given me. And you. They are beyond compare. So when Sally Sue’s novel is contracted for a movie deal and mine isn’t…or I’ve knocked on editors/agents/publishers’ doors for several years and still haven’t been offered a contract…

What gives?

God is sovereign over the process. And the process itself is, in fact, His goal.

Given that encouraging truth, it’s helped me to remember the reason why I’m not to compare in destructive ways:

God has entrusted me with not only the story but with the journey it takes to get it into the hands of His intended readers. For His purposes.

Do I receive the challenge—with its highs and lows—as one entrusted with a precious and unique gift? Or do I flit my gaze away like an envious lover, wondering why Sally Sue seems to have found more success than, ahem, I have?

One sure fire way for me to insult the capital ‘A’ Author is to reject His unique plan and purpose. Because, just as my fingerprints don’t match up with any other individual, my writing experience is—and should be—different.

Basically, you can’t have my journey and I can’t have yours. Wherever today finds you, may you be encouraged as one entrusted with the gift of writing and celebrate the process.

Coming Soon!
Call To Love

Call To Love

Tracy Cassidy, a self-reliant ED nurse, must choose between her dream job or staying in her hometown to help support her mother's faltering ministry. Even if it means falling in love with the kind of man she said she'd never marry. Why risk being Laurelton's next cop widow?

Tom DeLaney, a hyper-vigilant cop and new hire from Texas, is wearied by failed rescue attempts to save his marriage. After he moves to the foothills of North Carolina, he didn't expectto fall for Tracy, but when his adolescent son is diagnosed with a chronic illness, he faces the risk of loving another woman with keep-out issues.

Fears related to the death of Tracy's cop father and Tom's inability to forgive the past threaten to sabotage any chance at love.

To trust again means surrender. Will they risk their hearts and answer the call to love?

Mary A. Felkins is originally from Houston, Texas. She moved to the foothills of North Carolina in 1997 with Bruce, her husband of 28 years. They have four semi-adult children in their quiver, Anthony, Alexandra, Jonathan and Caroline. She can be lured from her writing cave with a large, unopened bag of Peanut M&Ms or an episode of Fixer Upper. In addition to maintaining her weekly blog, Mary’s Musings, she writes contemporary romance, featuring relatable characters who discover transforming Truth that stirs the soul. She is represented by Cyle Young of The Hartline Agency. Call To Love, is her first novel, set in her hometown Hickory, N.C.

Connect with Mary and learn more …

Author Website:
Author Email:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Push to Grow by Susan Tuttle

This winter I joined an exercise class at my church. I’d realized that my muscles weren’t quite what they used to be, and I wanted to get them back. In speaking with the instructor, she first addressed what had happened. In a nutshell, I had stopped challenging my muscles and as a result, they’d grown weak. If I wanted them back I not only needed to begin pushing their limits, but I had to find various ways to do so. One repetitive exercise wouldn’t be enough.

That got me thinking about our writing muscle. When we only write the same thing, our writing muscles atrophy. To prevent that, we need to test ourselves regularly by attempting new, hefty writing exercises that will keep us from growing stagnate. What does that look like? Tackle a new genre.
Write a short story instead of long one, or vice
versa. Start a weekly challenge with writing friends to find creative ways to describe a similar setting or character attributes. Look at what you’re currently doing, identify your weak areas, then brainstorm how you can grow in that area.

Doing what you’ve always done doesn’t allow for growth, and as writers, we want to constantly be evolving. Each work should challenge us a little more. Have you fallen into the habit of doing the same thing, or do you have ways to challenge your craft? If so, I’d love to hear some of your ideas on what has made you a better writer!

Susan L. Tuttle lives in Michigan where she’s happily married to her best friend and is a homeschooling mom of three. She’s firmly convinced that letters were meant for words, not math, and loves stringing them together into stories that inspire, encourage, and grow women into who God created them to be. Romance, laughter, and cookies are three of her favorite things, though not always in that order. You can connect with Susan at her blog, Steps, Facebook, or Twitter.