Friday, April 19, 2019

The Power of Abiding by JoAnn Durgin

Meme that says "Be Still and Know That I Am God

The Power of Abiding

When I first started on my writing journey, I’d heard repeatedly that in order to be published, I must have a literary agent. It was a given, not an option. Mind you, this was 2008 or thereabouts, when independent publishing was frowned upon as something only those who couldn’t get published the traditional way would “resort” to doing when all else failed. How times have changed!

So, I followed “the rules” and began submitting my manuscript to agents who represented Christian authors. Imagine my surprise when it caught the attention of one of the top agents who told me I had one of the best queries he’d ever read. I’d done my homework—studying several of his blog posts and learning about his personal interests. When I mentioned one of those interests in my query—a great fondness we shared for a beloved author—that’s what had him hooked. As requested, I sent him the first three chapters. What happened next? Suffice it to say, I’ve never had an agent. But—32 books later, that’s okay. He told me I wasn’t ready, and you know what? A few tears, rants, and months later, I reached the conclusion that he was right (as I told him when I first met him at a writing conference). As always, God had a plan…

At the time, I was a member of an online writing group that offered paid critiques from well-known contemporary Christian romance authors. I signed up for a critique, and it was harsh and borderline scathing. She advised me to leave my characters on the proverbial cutting room floor and move on to greener pastures. Gulp. What? After all, this was the story I knew God wanted me to try and publish first. Contrary to what she assumed, it wasn’t the first novel I’d drafted, but more like the fourth. The one where God had (I believe) miraculously restored half the story after I’d lost it! Not only that, but He’d confirmed it was “the one” (you can read more about that at

Thankfully, another author came along and encouraged me to keep working on the manuscript because “readers need to hear your story.” If nothing else, once I set my mind on something, I keep plugging away. I’ve been known to do things just to prove I can—within reason. It doesn’t always work, of course, but sometimes it does. Taking the second author’s advice, I revised the story and made the heroine less snarky. Then I made my story more humorous, longer, shorter, you name it, before submitting to more agents. You see what I was doing, don’t you? I was changing my story to please others, and in the process, I’d lost my writing voice. Not to mention I was driving myself crazy. No more!

Miss Determined then reworked those first three chapters. I wrote them my way, praying all the way. Then I went online and did a search for Christian romance publishers that accepted unagented submissions. I went through the list, weeding out those that didn’t fit. I sent queries (some with the first three chapters) to six publishers, and one of them became my first publisher a few months later.

My church recently participated in a Priscilla Shirer “Going Beyond” simulcast. What I didn’t know until I sat in the pew that day was that her theme was “Abide.” I was especially encouraged and thrilled since the seventh book in my Lewis Legacy Series is titled Abide with John 15:4-5 as the novel’s theme verses.

4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (NASB)

As I’ve moved along in my writing journey, I’ve learned the power of abiding. Priscilla’s message reminded me what that truly means—remaining and receiving, being patient and quiet (admittedly a challenge for me), and then (this is so important) listening for that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. The idea of abiding also embodies the concept of Be still, and know that I am God. ~from Psalm 46:10 (NIV).

I bought a T-shirt at “Going Beyond” with this message: Live by Grace, not perfection. How I love this! My mother always lovingly “accused” me of being a perfectionist. Isn’t that what God expects from us? No! He expects our best, and we need to understand our human imperfections. If God doesn’t expect perfection, then why should we? The only Perfect One has already come! What a freeing thought that is! One of the bottom lines in publishing is this: you can write a grammatically and/or technically correct book, but when it comes to fiction, it’s so subjective and everyone’s got an opinion. Men can be critical, but God grants us His grace. Amen! Be guided by the Word of God, not the opinions of man.

Whether you’re starting your writing journey, or if you’re currently involved in pursuing publication, or whether you’ve published one or more than a hundred books, God has a plan. Whether you have an agent or not, He has a plan. Whether you go the route of traditional publishing or pursue independent publishing, the Almighty has a plan. Pray and abide. Wait on Him in everything in your journey—timing, purpose, and content. And then listen for His voice.

If you do those things, then you’ll be just fine. Blessings, friends.

Until His Nets Are Full,
Matthew 5:16

Live by grace, not perfection. #seriouslywrite #thepowerofabiding via @Gr8tReads


Catherine “Caty” Lewis is thrilled to be home again with her family and friends. After working as a chief accountant for a multinational oil corporation in Dallas and then Lubbock the past five years, she’s been transferred to their new world headquarters in downtown Houston. Before she can even inhabit her new office, she schedules a private meeting with the reclusive founder and CEO. Someone in her division appears to be embezzling funds, and Caty prays she’s not the prime suspect.

After suffering a deeply personal loss, Caleb Reid is struggling to raise his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Lauren, on his own. He moved to Houston for a fresh start and to escape the threats that have plagued him the past few years. Then quickly discovers he can’t outrun them.

When these two meet, romantic sparks fly. Caty stares down fear with the kind of strong faith Caleb has neglected along the way. Can he risk endangering Caty in his fight against an unseen threat? Have the walls he’s built around him and his daughter served to protect them or to keep others from getting too close to his heart?

ABIDE. An enduring love story between a man and a woman. A story of standing firmly on God’s promises, never giving into fear, and placing our trust in the One who is infinitely more capable.

JoAnn Durgin
JoAnn Durgin is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty contemporary Christian romance novels, including her signature Lewis Legacy Series. A native of southern Indiana, JoAnn likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word” after living in four states across the country before returning to her hometown with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing, JoAnn loves to travel and spend time with their first grandchild, Amelia Grace. Feel free to connect with her at or via her website at

Thursday, April 18, 2019

True to the story, or true to the reader? by Robin Patchen

I’ll be honest: I’ve had complaints. And more than a couple of people have asked me why I wrote my latest story in three parts.

I can’t blame them. I never thought I’d write a book with a cliffhanger ending, much less two. That’s definitely not what I set out to do when I started this book last spring.

But the story went where it went. I had set out to write a shorter story than normal and ended up with a story so complex, I couldn’t figure out how to fit it into a single book. It wasn’t just the length, either, though that was an issue. It finished at about 525 pages, far too long for a book in the romantic suspense genre. But the bigger issue was the story itself.

I agonized over what to do with Harper’s story. Should I cut the first part, make it backstory? I considered that option, but the beginning of her story set up the rest. Not only that, but it showed the character growing through some very difficult trials. Here was a woman who’d been in prison, a woman who felt the guilt and shame of all her choices, a woman who could very easily have run away from the trials she was suddenly facing. I needed to show how love—not romantic love but love for an old man in her care—changed her, opened her heart to the true love of the Father.

So I contemplated cutting the middle part, but how could I shortchange the romance, the growing friendships, and the personal growth? Not only that, but the reader needed the middle part of the story to witness the villain growing more desperate.

And the ending… I couldn’t possibly hack away at the last part, where the story came together.

I sought counsel from wise friends and prayed for guidance. I know it’s a just story, but it is my story, and the story needed to be told the way it needed to be told. It’s a good story, one filled with danger and hope and Truth. At least, that’s how I see it. Sometimes, when we writers are faced with the choice between satisfying genre rules or telling the story to the best of our abilities, we must choose the story. Sometimes, the story is worth breaking the rules.
Don’t misunderstand me: genre rules are very important. It’s vital to know your readers’ expectations. When you meet and exceed those expectations, you will be rewarded with super-fans. That’s always my goal.

In my previous books, I tried to remain faithful to those genre rules, and I think readers have rewarded me for that
But in the case of Beauty in Flight, I felt like I could either meet audience expectations for the story or I could meet their expectations for the length and price of the book. I couldn’t do both, so I chose to stay true to the story and release three books in order to manage pricing and length expectations.
Like I said, there’ve been some complaints. A handful of people have emailed me to share their frustrations. One reader suggested I was manipulative and questioned my salvation.

At the same time, I’ve received many, many emails from people thanking me for the stories and encouraging me to write more. The first book in the series, Beauty in Flight, has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon. It’s not as good as the ratings for my earlier books—or the ratings for the later books in the series—but it’s still respectable. The bad reviews are from people who don’t like cliffhanger endings.
The final book in the series, Beauty in Battle, released last week and is already collecting positive reviews.

In the end, I’m glad I stayed true to the story, even if it might have cost me a few readers. I am, after all, a storyteller at heart. The experience of releasing a linked series has made me even more thankful to my loyal readers, many of whom encourage me and inspire me to write the best books I can.
Have you ever felt like you had to choose between writing your best story and meeting reader expectations? How did you manage it?

Amazon Buy Link

Beauty in Flight

Her beauty once opened doors, but the felony conviction slams them shut.

Harper Cloud used to love the gilded glamour of Las Vegas, but on the far side of prison, she sees the cracks in the veneer. These days, she keeps her head down and focuses on the elderly patients in her care. Even her new wealthy east-coast boyfriend, Derrick, can't entice her away. She's trusted men before, and look where that got her.

She tries to brush off the feeling that she's being watched. But when she's followed home one night and her pursuer gets within a hair's breadth of grabbing her, she knows it's time to get away from Las Vegas.

Maybe Derrick can be trusted. Maybe his job offer—to care for his aging grandfather in Maryland—will be the second chance she needs.

But Derrick has secrets of his own, secrets that could take him down--and take Harper with him.

Can there be a second chance for someone like her?

Buy Beauty in Flight today, Book 1 in a 3-book-series that’ll keep you guessing until the very end.

Series page:

Chat with Robin Patchen on staying true to your story! @RobinPatchen @TerriWeldon

About Robin Patchen:
Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Robin to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.

Download a free copy of Convenient Lies, book 1 in the Hidden Truth series, when you visit Robin's website,

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Adventures of a Burnt-Out Author by Patty Smith Hall

Last year, I experienced what it is to be completely burnt out for the first time in my life. I should have seen it coming. Always considered a busy bee, my last fifteen months had been particularly industrious with nine novella contracts, a new grandson and another back surgery. Never one to back away from a challenge, I faced it head on, and ended up so exhausted, I contracted the horrible flu that spread throughout the country in 2018. Complications delayed my recover so that by the time I felt well enough to get back to my life, half the year was gone.

Here’s a few of my mistakes that you can learn from:

1) Rest
There’s a reason God took his rest on the seventh day. He never tires, but He wanted to set an example for us. He knew our bodies and minds needed rest in order to carry out all the plans He had designed just for us.

But there are some of us who think rest is for other people. Personally, I’m like Tigger the tiger, always bouncing around with a daily to-do list as long as my arm. But even Tigger gets tired! 

The truth is rest makes you more productive. It clears your head and renews your strength for the daily grind. It’s not just necessary. It’s important to our well-being. God commands us to rest—so obey Him and do it!

2) Read
A few years ago, Danny and I came up with this idea of the dream vacation. We would rent a condo on the beach and spend the days just reading and lounging around. Can you image? Long hours with nothing to do but be engrossed in a book. Three years ago, we finally made it happen. BEST VACATION EVER! I read nine books that week! When we came home, I was pumped to write again. Why? Because while I enjoyed the books, my brain had a chance to soak in the writing. It made me a better writer!

So, read as much as you can! Don’t delegate it to your yearly vacation but read every day. Try another genre instead of the one you write. And don’t get bogged down in critiquing the writing—just savor the experience. Your body and mind (as well as your writing) will thank you!

3) Learn to use the word ‘No.’
Over the years, I’ve preached to several writing friends about the necessity of saying no. It’s a word we should use frequently if we want to get and stay published.

But as I learned the hard way, you don’t have to say yes to every writing opportunity offered to you either. As I mentioned before, I had nine novellas contracted over the period of fifteen months. Think about that for a moment—nine different sets of characters with different motivations and conflicts in nine different time periods.

What was I thinking? Probably that I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be published (the checks helped too!) There were others that would jump at the chance to be published so I had to take the contract, right?

I don’t know. By the time I wrote the last contracted novella, I could hardly remember what I wrote. Did my characters have a strong motivation and conflict? Did the story even make sense?

By the grace of God, it did. In fact, my editors stayed in stitches reading it (remember, I was punch-drunk by then.) It became my first historical comedy. Yet, I learned my lesson. I backed out of three more commitments due over the next year, and I’m fine with that.

4) Plan out your day.
I’m big on using planners—I use two planners that are geared to writers (Susan May Warren’s My Brilliant Writing Planner and The Serious Writer Companion.) The one drawback about using a planner is you see all the things you don’t get done. So, if you’re me, you spend your day trying to play catch up or worse still, trying to do two things at one time.

Learn to give yourself a break! Books aren’t written in a day! Don’t fill up your schedule with so many things, you have no hope of completing them. Delegate. Let others help you. They will if you let them.

It took me a few months to get back to writing again, but now, I do it with a renewed sense of purpose. I stopped beating myself up for what I couldn’t accomplish but rather celebrate what I did get done. I’m in a better place, one that honors God and follows His example of rest.

Are you suffering from writing burn-out? Tips to combat it via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips


A multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour, Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 35 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who has her wrapped around his tiny finger. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Not So Boring Road by Shannon Redmon

The day dawned warm and bright, the weather too nice to stay inside. My husband and I took off to Dupont State Park in North Carolina to hike to three of the most beautiful waterfalls in our area.

When we arrived, people milled about with their children, pets and loved ones. We took off down a somewhat muddy path and stopped at the first cascade. Water levels were high and thundered over the falls. Scenic beauty surrounded us with tall trees, the whistle of birds and early spring flowers poking their heads from the cold winter ground.

Then, a flash of orange and yellow moved across the river’s current. A kayaker steered his boat right over the ten-foot drop of Hooker Falls. What a thrilling surprise! The man made the plunge over with great skill and joined his waiting family at the bottom. Little did we know, God had more in store for us that day.

When we left, my husband took a wrong turn and came to a gravel road. Most couples would’ve turned around. That was what I wanted to do. There was no way this boring backwoods passage led anywhere close to our destination, but my sweet hubby didn’t listen to me—a trait I’ve tried to change over the years and been unsuccessful. He steered the truck onto the path.

I stared out the window in a little bit of a huff, since I didn’t get my way, when my husband slammed on the brakes and pointed. “Look!”

Off to the side, a beautiful waterfall cascaded down the mountain. We got out. Took pictures. Such a delight. My spirits lifted. By the end of our journey, we found another waterfall and a crystal-clear lake.

If my husband had listened to me and turned around, we would’ve missed all the beauty God placed before us and headed home on the boring interstate. Hint: Really doesn’t pay to try to change our spouses, but that’s a whole other post. :)

God often prods writers in unexpected directions, down wayward paths we try to avoid. We cling to the same comfortable habits wrapped around us like a warm, fluffy blanket. But we might be missing the beauty of God’s glory waiting around the next bend.

“For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

We’ve been called to write. Then why do we hesitate? Why do we doubt, instead of hiking the trail God has placed before us?

Time to step out in faith.

• Submit that dusty manuscript to an agent, publisher or critique group.
• Take part in a writer’s conference and learn about our calling. (Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference is in May and the American Christian Fiction Writers conference is in September)
• Ask God to provide the money to learn about the craft.
• Join an online or local writing group.
• Find a writing partner.
• Write the first chapter of the story God has placed in our hearts.

No matter where the road may lead, don’t turn around. Be adventurous with God. Sometimes the roads less traveled, turn up God’s greatest blessings.

No matter where the road may lead, don’t turn around. Be adventurous with God. Sometimes the roads less traveled, turn up God’s greatest blessings. #amwriting #waterfalls @shannon_redmon

Shannon Redmon remembers the first grown up book she checked out from the neighborhood book mobile. A Victoria Holt novel with romance, intrigue, dashing gentlemen and ballroom parties captivated her attention. For her mother, the silence must have been a pleasant break from non-stop teenage chatter, but for Shannon, those stories whipped up a desire and passion for writing.
There's nothing better than the power of a captivating novel, a moving song or zeal for a performance that punches souls with awe. A rainbow displayed after a horrific storm or expansive views on a mountaintop bring nuggets of joy into our lives. Shannon hopes stories immerse readers into that same kind of amazement, encouraging faith, hope and love, guiding our hearts to the One who created us all.
Shannon Redmon’s writing has been published in Spark magazine, Splickety magazine, the Lightning Blog, The Horse of My Dreams compilation book, Romantic Moments compilation book, Seriously Write blog and Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog. Her current fiction novel was selected as a top three finalist of the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Connect with Shannon:
The StoryMoore Blog, named in memory of her father, Donald Eugene Moore.

Monday, April 15, 2019

It's Not 'Goodbye,' It's 'See You' by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
When my son was a toddler, he developed the most charming idiosyncrasy. He never simply said, ‘Goodbye.’ Rather, with his security blanket tucked safe against his cheek, his eyes drooping with exhaustion after spending a Sunday with his boisterous extended family, he’d wiggle his chubby little fingers at Grandpa and Grandma and murmur, “Buh-bye. See you.”

He never failed to add the ‘See you.’

Over time, the way we interpreted it, a type of instinct seemed to kick in. You see, he never wanted to simply say ‘Goodbye.’ Instead, he clung to the words ‘See you.’ Goodbye was too final. Saying ‘See you’ meant there’d be another gathering, more shared moments, more laughter, more joy and happiness to be found. Together. To this day—and he’s an incredible grown man with a family of his own—he remains the same. That tradition carried over. When we get together, and a parting is at hand, we don’t say goodbye. We say, ‘See you.’

Those precious moments are amplified for me now and I’m hoping that instinct will serve me well as I come to a crossroads and wrestle with a difficult decision. Five years ago to this very month, I joined the Seriously Write team as a monthly contributor. Annette Irby (God bless her – she’s truly a hostess with the mostest) invited me to participate in this remarkable blog and embrace the mission of encouraging fellow authors. Being a cheerleader by nature, I embraced the journey.

During those five years, I gained much more than I gave, believe me, and I pray I’ve succeeded in touching a few hearts along the way. The thing is, life marches in, and marches on. After a lot of prayer and months of deliberation, I’ve decided the time has come to move on. Not to say a dreaded ‘Goodbye’ but to say, ‘See you.’

My prayer for each and every one of you who visit Seriously Write is that you find nourishment, and hope. I want to thank the gifted team that works tirelessly on this blog’s quality, message, and impact. You’re God-given treasures and I’m grateful for the time we’ve spent together, not just as fellow travelers on this crazy-wonderful writing journey, but as fellow travelers on the road to creating stories that honor Christ, affirm faith, and send a message of hope into a hurting world. Sharing my thoughts with you has been a privilege.

But, remember…

This doesn’t mean I’m gone forever. Perhaps the team will welcome me back when I have the occasional spark to share. This isn’t ‘Goodbye.’ This is ‘See you.’ And until time comes, may God bless you and shine through you.

With much love,


Benjamin Fisher melds with quiet perfection into the tapestry of the Fisher family. The youngest of the three Fisher men, Ben is gifted with skills that keep machines running, crops efficiently harvested, farm structures sound and secure.

But there’s one person in the small village of Antioch, Indiana who has noticed and adored the man since her youth. Hailey Beth Thomas. Hailey Beth’s sister is marrying Ben’s brother in a spring wedding that promises to be the event of the season. Thrown together as the heady romance of an upcoming marriage takes place, love and revelation come to life.

Unknown to anyone else, Ben wants to answer a call to the mission fields of North America that will lead him far from the life he has always known. Ben longs to serve, but he wants a life with Hailey Beth as well. Hailey Beth can’t leave Antioch, but can’t bear the idea of losing Ben.

Are they meant to be together, or will God’s call pull them apart just as they’ve found a way to one another?


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of faith-affirming fiction who has won acclaim from critics and readers alike. RT Book Reviews named her book Forgiveness a 4.5-Star Top Pick and readers laude her books as ‘riveting’ and ‘true to heart.’ She’s a life-long resident of Michigan who calls suburban Detroit home.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Too Late To Start Writing? by Anneliese Dalaba

Anneliese Dalaba

Is it ever too late to start writing? Are there pros and cons to heading down that path at a younger age? Or as a person with more life experience? Author Anneliese Dalaba shares her journey to publication and insight gained. ~ Dawn

Too Late to Start Writing?

George Eliot said, “It's never too late to start what you might have been.” I've taken her advice and have started a new phase of my life in my fifties—writing novels. I’ve wanted to write a historical romance for a long time—a story that helps to inspire faith, give hope, and hopefully even cause the reader to chuckle. I decided it was finally time to begin.

At this age, it would be so easy to make excuses. I’m certainly not young anymore, so why start now? I don't understand all the modern technologies, programs, and apps. What if people don’t like what I wrote? How will I feel when I'm criticized? There are numerous excuses I could make, but what I can’t get away from is this: How will I feel at the end of my life if I haven't pursued this dream? If I live to be my parents’ age, I may still have thirty or more years of life ahead of me. What will I do with those years? Perhaps it's time to start checking off items on my bucket list. One of the top items on that list is writing a Christian historical romance. And guess what? I did it!

I published my first novel, Reluctant To Wed, in the Arranged Marriage series at the end of June 2017. My readers kept asking me when my next book would be published? They became the wind beneath my wings, and I published my second book in the same series, The Marriage Maneuver, in November 2018. I’m currently working on the third book in that series.

I have to admit that I have one regret about my book-writing journey, and that is that I wish I’d started sooner. Imagine how many books I might have published by now. On the other hand, the many years prior to turning fifty were certainly not wasted. I gained years of life and faith experiences and very possibly read a thousand books or more. Both the experience and the books have prepared me and have become a great resource for this novel-writing adventure I’m on. So perhaps I have nothing to regret after all. Maybe this is the perfect time to begin. I may never know for sure whether I should have started earlier, yet one thing is certain, I will never have to regret not having started at all.

And now that I’m on this path, I realize that God created me to do this very thing. I believe He finds pleasure in my gift. I have asked Him to guide my writing. May it always glorify His name and cause others to seek Him more.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB

The Marriage Maneuver
The Marriage Maneuver

Lady Selina Kendall, daughter of a viscount, was given away to her aunt and uncle at a rather young age. She never understood why she was forced to leave her parents’ home while her siblings were allowed to stay. Although Aunt Theo and Uncle Peter are very good to her, Selina cannot help the longing in her heart for her family. When she is ready to be presented to society, the long-awaited letter from her parents finally arrives. But when Selina returns home, nothing could have prepared her for the news that greets her.

Lord Hugh FitzWalter (Fitz) is a wounded hero bearing visible scars, but the greatest damage was done to his heart when his fiancé broke their engagement upon his return from battle. That act caused him to have very little trust for females.

A masterful deception places these two in an arranged marriage, neither anticipated nor desired. How can love grow and faith prevail when outside forces and internal conflicts conspire to tear them apart?

Anneliese Dalaba lives in Michigan with her husband of 31 years. She assists her husband, who is a pastor and, before that, they worked amongst refugees in Germany. She is a member of ACFW and ACFW Great Lakes Chapter. For many years, Anneliese worked as an administrative assistant and medical transcriptionist. After raising their two children, she is now experiencing the wonderful phase of grandparenting. She is an avid reader, and an author of Christian historical romances.

Connect with Annaliese and learn more about her books here:


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Eating Fried Okra in a Stranger’s Driveway By Patti Jo Moore

A few years ago, on a Sunday afternoon in January, I drove my son to a friend’s house to work on a school project. I’d never been in that neighborhood, so my son pointed out the house, and I dropped him off. I was to return three hours later to get him, after picking up a meal from our favorite fried chicken place.

Since I was able to get our food quicker than expected, I arrived back in his friend’s neighborhood twenty minutes early. No problem—I had the latest book by my favorite author with me, and couldn’t wait to dive in. I located the house (in a lovely neighborhood with circular driveways in front) and pulled right up near the front door and a large window. I was confident my son would easily see me, since I was parked so close to the house. I turned my car off, bundled up in my coat, and grabbed my book, eager to read until my son finished the project. The aroma of fried okra drifted to my nose, so I nibbled a few pieces. Perfectly content, I read as I munched fried okra and waited on my son.

About ten minutes later, my cell phone rang.

“Mom, we finished our project, so you can pick me up now.”

“Oh, honey, I’m already here. I arrived about ten minutes ago, so I’m reading a book.”

A few beats of silence, then a sigh as my son replied. “Mom, you’re parked in front of the wrong house. You went three houses too far down the street. Just stay there, and I’ll come to you.”

Yikes! I suddenly felt ridiculous as I gazed at the house where I was parked. What if the residents glanced out and saw a stranger, parked in their driveway…reading a book and eating?!

A minute later, my son climbed into the car, shaking his head. I smiled as I offered him some okra.

I’ve thought about that incident several times in recent years, and have been reminded that because I love that author’s work so much, I’d hurriedly parked my car and grabbed the book (in my defense, those houses were all similar). 😉

As writers, we know our work will not appeal to everyone. But whatever genre and whatever our writing style, we need to continue working to improve and write the best stories we can. Maybe our stories will provide such enjoyment to certain readers, they’ll be eager to devour them---with or without okra.

**I will add that at one point I was tempted to order a t-shirt that read: Embarrassing my children---just one more service I offer. 😊


Gracie Norton loves her life on Florida’s gulf coast. When a handsome widower with adorable twins moves in next door, Gracie’s life soon changes. As Gracie helps her neighbor during a crisis, she must face her biggest fear. Could young twins be the matchmakers for an unexpected romance? 

Patti Jo Moore is a former kindergarten teacher who now writes full-time. Her “Sweet, Southern Stories” feature characters who face realistic struggles and challenging situations but always have a happily-ever-after ending.  

Patti Jo loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee. When not writing, she loves spending time with her family—especially her precious grandbaby. She enjoys connecting with readers and can be found on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore. You can also visit her blog at 

She has two books with Forget-Me-Not Romances, with a third book coming out soon. 

EMERALD COAST ROMANCES series by Patti Jo Moore:

 A Seaside Romance

 An Unexpected Romance

In Tune with Romance (due out soon)