Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Essential Skills for Writers by Melony Teague

We all have our strengths and weaknesses as writers. Some are natural story tellers, others are gifted in perfect grammar and know exactly what to do with those apostrophes and commas. One thing is for certain, we all have different strong points when it comes to writing.

One skill all writers need is perseverance.

Honestly, if you aren’t going to persist through all the ups and downs of a writer’s life, then you won’t achieve your dreams. Talent can only take you so far. I bet there are many super talented writers out there who say to themselves, “One day I’ll write that book I’ve been dreaming of.”

Without discipline and tenacity, it’s not going to happen.

What does perseverance look like?

It means sitting back down no matter how many times you get up to go make coffee or tea in an attempt to procrastinate.

It means always pushing yourself to do the things you fear, be it guest posts, podcasts, reading another writer’s craft book, or sending your first chapters out to a contest.

It means showing up every day to write something. Whether it’s a to-do list, which keeps you motivated to reach your goals or whether it’s a journal post for your eyes only to work through a problem that’s curbing your creativity.

It means praying and seeking wisdom in all your decisions, especially those related to your writing. It means asking questions. Trust me, I’ve asked a gazillion.

It means not permitting yourself to give up until you’ve at least written 200 words. Even if you end up deleting them later, that’s 200 more words than you had yesterday. Most times you’ll end up writing more.

It means staying the course and being disciplined in your writing. I’m not talking about unrealistic, over the top, land yourself in hospital kind of craziness, but pushing yourself out of your writing rut and certainly out of your comfort zone is a must if you want to progress.

For each victory, celebrate! Then take the next step forward. Everyone’s ‘next step’ is going to look different.

Perseverance means giving yourself grace to have that meltdown, to ask for help, to be talked off that familiar writer’s ledge, but knowing those places don’t need to be a permanent camping spot. Wipe those tears, and move on.

Writing is a tough gig folks. Persevere, invest in your writing, put in the hours and you’ll see the fruit.

Honestly, if you aren’t going to persist through all the ups and downs of a writer’s life, then you won’t achieve your dreams. via @MelonyTeague #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Melony Teague writes contemporary romance with a dash of humor, she loves to inspire and motivate others through her written words, and she believes everyone has a story to tell. Melony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the co-author of As the Ink Flows, a devotional for authors. Her fiction debut, A Promise to Keep released, Jan 21, 2020. Melony was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her handsome husband, their two teenagers, and does the bidding of her two adorable cats.

For More Visit the A Promise to Keep page
Available in Paperback on Amazon

About A Promise to Keep:

Research librarian Savannah Sanderson wants nothing more than to escape into her happily-ever-after novels with their larger-than-life fictional heroes. But a promise to her late husband has her attending her dreaded twenty-year high school reunion, drinking ghastly punch, and taking desperate measures just to keep her vow, even if she has to hide behind the d├ęcor to do it.

Once a reckless troublemaker, Michael McCann fled town after graduation. Now a professional technical rescuer, he’s back for the reunion, but on his trip down memory lane, he soon comes face to face with unresolved issues, namely Savannah.

Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

5 New Ways to Start Your Writing Year By Shannon Redmon

The year 2020 has arrived and I can still remember twenty years ago, when I was wondering if this world would make it through Y2K. Many experts believed Y2K could be the downfall of America, the end of man’s existence. The momentous scare at the time ended up being nothing more than a blip in time and the computerized world has grown into every area of our lives.

But let’s think what life might be like in another twenty years. I hope the passing of time will find that we have taken steps in our writing, finished our first book or attended our first writers conference. I hope we will have reached writing milestones and goals that are merely dreams today.

However, my fear is that some of us will still be wondering where the time went with only our lack of effort to show to others.

In the season of making New Year’s Resolutions, I want to challenge you to not make any false claims about grandiose dreams or outlandish writing goals and instead, start small. Try these five small things to get your writing career moving forward in 2020.

1) Buy a fresh new notebook and a pen or pencil
Not sure what it is about unwrinkled paper and blank pages, but something about a fresh notebook encourages an author to write. I’ve created many stories by doodling or writing random words until my brain created a story.

2) Brainstorm ideas
Take a couple of pages of that new notebook and brainstorm ideas. What kind of story would you like to write? Romance? Suspense? Or a combo? Let your ideas flow unhindered onto the paper. Think about your characters. What deep dark secrets do they hide in their heart that you as an author need to reveal?

3) Gather a group of friends
Some of my best story ideas have come from sitting around with friends and throwing out a suspenseful idea and writing down their thoughts. Not only is it fun, but some great scenes can come from the discussion.

4) Go people watching
My downtown area has some interesting characters milling around the square. Sometimes I like to visit and write down what I see. Unique characters can make a story all the more interesting.

5) Sign up for a writer’s conference
I cannot stress this enough. I know they aren’t cheap, but there are so many invaluable lessons to learn when attending, so many welcoming friends to make. Who knows, one of them may very well help you land your first book deal.

So, let’s not wait another twenty years to chase our dreams. Get started writing even if it’s something small.

Reach for your writing milestones and goals that are merely dreams today. @shannon_redmon @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite #amwriting #strategy #dreambig

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 her 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’s writing has been published in Spark magazine, Splickety magazine, the Lightning Blog, The Horse of My Dreams compilation book, and the Seriously Write blog. Her stories have been selected as a semi-finalist and finalist of the ACFW Genesis Contest and won first place in the Foundation’s Awards. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. The StoryMoore Blog is named in memory of her father, Donald Eugene Moore.

Connect with Shannon:
The StoryMoore Blog
Twitter: @shannon_redmon
Check out Shannon’s story in a compilation with other authors published by Revell.
The Horse of My Dreams

Monday, January 20, 2020

Writing Through the Impossible by Patty Nicholas-Boyte

“What if God allows, or even on purpose puts ministries and individuals in impossible situations so that he could do something in you, and do something through you that couldn’t get done any other way.” Chip Ingram 9/18/2019

Last September, Chip Ingram was the guest speaker at our staff devotion at work. I have thought about his talk often since that day. You see, the conference center where I work, was coming into our busiest months of the year while being significantly understaffed. How did we make it through? We made it with God’s divine protection over employee’s heath, time and energy. We all pulled together, we made it work, and God gets the glory.

As we finished all of our events for the year and took a collective sigh of relief when the last guest left the property, none of us could have imagined what happened that night. A small fire in the Training Center, which set off the sprinkler system, which worked exactly as designed, interrupted the peaceful end of the season.

The subsequent renovations have created an adversity that we never expected. However, this did not take God by surprise. In fact, he had prepared us for the impossible situation to come by the special guest speaker back in September.

While our true adversity is yet to be fully realized. We wait with bated breath for the good that God will bring from this moment of trial.

As we look forward in this New Year, I like many of you, have chosen a word and corresponding scripture verse to guide me. My word, “Vision.” My verse, Habakkuk 1:5.  

Habakkuk 1:5 (NASB) 5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days— You would not believe if [a]you were told

While our true adversity is yet to be fully realized. We wait with bated breath for the good that God will bring from this moment of trail.

Besides the word and the verse, I, like probably many of you have also created writing goals for myself for this year. One of my goals is to complete two of my works in progress that I feel as though I’ve been working on forever. Often I came close to finishing one of these projects then something happened and I had to either do a complete re-write, or shelve one or both of them for a time to work on a new and pressing assignment.

I had many distractions and challenges last year, and I will be the first to admit, on occasion I cried in frustration. I knew my impossible situations that God allowed, would turn into a vision for the new year and a knowledge that God would work in me something above all I could imagine. I eagerly wait for all that God will bring through me and to me in the year to come.

What impossible situations has God placed you in that you can clearly see how His hand worked things for your good and His glory?

Are you in the middle of an impossible situation and you wonder how anything good could ever come of the mess?

Is there someone you know who is going through an impossible situation? Share this quote with them. Hopefully it will encourage them as it encouraged me.

Multi award winning writer, Patty Nicholas-Boyte lives with her Husband Brian 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, January 17, 2020

Staying Relevant and Creating Timeless Fiction by JoAnn Durgin

Photo of a purse with the playbill for the play Private Lives

Staying Relevant and Creating Timeless Fiction

I’ve reached an age where I feel as though I’m “dating” myself at times by mentioning certain people, places, or events in history—meaning those from my lifetime. I’m not quite as old as dirt—yet!—and I don’t feel old except when met with the blank stares from youngsters. Mind you, I’m talking about 25-year-olds, not children.

Let me give you an example. This past October, I commissioned a one-of-a-kind purse at the annual Craftsmen’s Fair in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The purse features a Broadway Playbill with legendary Hollywood “power” couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (see photo). To anyone else, the purse might be considered a mere novelty, but it’s a true treasure for me and brings back fond memories. Why? Because, like many things in my life, there’s a story to be told.

In brief, back in the early 1980s, my mother and I traveled to Italy. We had a marvelous week there and then flew back into New York where my best friend and her mother met us for a four-day weekend. We somehow managed to get second-row tickets on opening night to a Noel Coward play, Private Lives, starring Taylor and Burton. The play had fared poorly in advance reviews during its trial run in Boston, but no one cared. And we, like everyone else, wanted to see the two legends on the same stage together! The celebrities were out in abundance, and we sat so close to the stage that Richard Burton’s spit actually landed on me!

Let’s switch to movies for a moment. In the newest movie version of Louisa May Alcott’s timeless Little Women, my primary “complaint” is that it sometimes slips into modern vernacular in a glaringly obvious way. By vernacular, I mean the everyday language spoken by people today as distinguished from the literary language I expected. Neither did their behavior always “fit” in with the setting and time period. They were sometimes too open, casual, and modern. Not only does Jo lapse into a “Yeah,” but Amy says “Thank you, thank you very much” in the same way Elvis Presley made famous. That statement jarred me out of the story and had me muttering in my popcorn! A couple kissing in a very public place in plain view of others? An editor requesting a “spicy” novel? I seem to be alone in this opinion (and I enjoyed the movie very much overall), but maybe it’s the fact that I am an author and expected a more faithful interpretation of one of my most beloved childhood novels.

You may wonder how this applies to writing novels. I’ve read historical novels that similarly lapse into modern terms and behavior. While I understand this style might attract more readers by being more identifiable, I believe it’s a personal decision from the author on how to best present their story. On the flip side, contemporary authors will often slide into using an overabundance of pop culture terms (brands, actors, movies, etc.). Not that I believe this is a bad thing (and who can keep up with constantly evolving technology?), but give your characters their proper due in terms of motivations, goals, needs, wants, fears, and insecurities. Because that’s what will ultimately hook and keep the reader connected with your story.

So, how can authors stay relevant to readers of all ages? Write as the Lord leads, keeping in mind as you write that—no matter the genre or the setting—you want your stories to age well. If you can successfully accomplish that while remaining true to the setting and time period, like fine wine, they’ll go down that much easier tomorrow or fifty years from now. And that’s what will make them timeless.

Blessings, friends.
~ JoAnn

How to stay relevant in our novels from USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads
How to make your writing timeless! Words of advice from JoAnn Durgin #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Love on Assignment 
in Millcreek
Love on Assignment in Millcreek

Millcreek Christmas Series
Book 1

Lisbeth Lawrence never expected to be catapulted into a snowbank on a bitterly cold December night. Dazed and sprawled in the snow, she looks into the soulful eyes of the boy who’d stolen her heart ten years ago—he just didn’t know it. Rugged and more handsome than ever, he’s now a mystery man who travels the globe and turns up in town from time to time. The only person who knows the truth is one of Lisbeth’s physical therapy patients—and she’s not talking.

Miles Langston is close to personal and professional burnout when he’s given a unique assignment: go home to Millcreek, Connecticut, and regroup, recharge, and reconnect. What he didn’t plan on was accidentally sending a former classmate flying into a snowbank his first night back. “Lis” Lawrence, the quiet “good” girl with the prettiest eyes in school, has grown into a beauty who challenges his heart and mind from the get-go.

Brought together through their mutual love and care for his beloved grandmother, Miles and Lisbeth begin to experience miracles unfolding through the quiet good deeds of the “Millcreek Christmas Elf”…and in their own hearts. Can a man who rarely stays in one place for long find love and contentment with a woman firmly entrenched in little Millcreek?

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, January 16, 2020

Not the Right Time Yet by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Last May, as my husband and I drove north through Alabama to attend a writing conference, we looked for blossoming mimosa trees. We do this every time we drive on Interstate 85. We were disappointed and surprised to find fewer than usual trees with blooms.

On our return trip home the following week we spotted tree after beautiful tree full of blossoms. We tried to figure out what may have caused the lack blooms the week before. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Colder than normal winter. Warmer than normal winter. We're not horticulturists, so have no idea for the delayed blossoms. We settled for the fact it simply was not the right time for the trees to bloom yet.

Having spent the previous week with over three hundred writers, I couldn't help make the comparison between those mimosa trees and those of us who write.

We're all on different journeys. We don't achieve our goals, don't blossom, at the same time. Some of us bloom earlier. Some bloom later. Some of our dreams are achieved earlier. Some are achieved later. Some of us have a profusion of blossoms on our tree. Others don't have as many.

Even if our trees lack blossoms, that does not negate the beauty of our tree. No matter how successful or unsuccessful our lives may appear to others, or to ourselves, our lives continue to be beautiful when we offer them for our Creator God's purposes.

I've found when hopes or dreams are delayed, some people think they must know the exact reason for the delay. They theorize the reason for the delay is too much this. Not enough that. When honestly, in much the same way my husband and I theorized about the mimosa blooms, they don't have the slightest idea. And don't need one.

It's just not the right time yet.

The One who told the moon when to shine and the sun when to sleep, told the sea it could only come so far and no further, placed the stars in the heavens and the bars around Orion knows when our not the right time yet will turn into it's time now. The same way God told the blossoms on the mimosa trees that lines I-85 when it was time to bloom, he knows when it is time for our dreams to blossom.

As we wait for whatever dream we hold in our heart, perhaps we should remember the mimosas that bloom at God's appointed time and not one moment sooner.

Is there a dream you're waiting on to bloom?

Sandy Kirby Quandt is a freelance writer and follower of Jesus with a passion for history and travel. Passions that often weave their way into her stories and articles. She writes numerous articles, devotions, and stories for adult and children publications both print and online including Christian Devotions and Inspire a Fire. Her devotions appear in two Worthy Publishing compilation books; So God Made a Dog and Let the Earth Rejoice. Sandy won several awards for writing including the 85th and 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the Young Adult category, First Place in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Children’s Literature 2016 Foundation Awards, First Place in the 2017 Foundation Awards in the Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Flash Fiction categories. Looking for words of encouragement or gluten-free recipes? Then check out her blog, Woven and Spun.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Adventures in Indie Writing by Patty Smith Hall

Patty here, and as I shared with you in an earlier blog post, the closure of Lifeway’s brick and mortars was a wake-up call for me last year. Add that with the shrinking book space at Barnes and Noble, and I began to wonder where I, a mid-list writer, would fall in this ever-changing publishing scene. With the hundreds of books that are published each year, how could I compete for a cherished spot on the shelf? I have a healthy backlist of novels and novellas, but they’re getting very little traction in the market.

In other words, for all the time and effort I’ve put into my writing, I’m seeing very little fruit for my labors, and isn’t that why we write? So that readers can see Christ in the pages of our books? To show our characters living out their faith despite their problems? If my ministry is to put out books that point toward Jesus, what do I do if there’s no room on the bookshelf for me?

That’s when I thought about going indie. Indie publishing has lost the stigma it’s held in the past. For the most part, indie writers have learned from past mistakes. They’re hiring editors and professional cover designers to work with them. They’re advertising alongside traditional publishers and pulling in devoted readers, in some cases, making more money than traditional houses.

But indie publishing isn’t for everyone. I took a long hard look at myself to see if this could work for me. I’m a very independent person who doesn’t need a deadline hanging over me to get my work done. I work better alone. I have the financial means to hire editors/cover designers to make my books stand-out and to advertise. I have a good start on a backlist of books and novellas.

The only parts I didn’t have a grasp on was the business and tech side of going indie. Enter my husband and daughter. After years of being in charge of operations for a large international company, Danny is working from home and ready for a new adventure that will use his business skills. He loves the idea of working with me (I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I’ll keep you posted!) And our daughter Carly records and produces her own albums as well as YouTube videos and podcasts.

As all the pieces fell into place, I felt as if the Lord was giving me His okay. I had a peace about it as well as an excitement that I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

But I had a lot to learn. Six months ago, I began my in-depth study of indie publishing. I took classes with Hallee Bridgeman (Hi Hallee!), listened to podcasts on the indie market and read books on the subject. I joined 20Booksto50K, a Facebook group made up of indie authors who share their experiences in the indie publishing world. Most recently, I joined a mastermind group of indie authors.

I’m ready to get started.

For the next year, I’m going to share with you my adventures in indie publishing, the good and the not-so-good. I will be transparent about my wins and misses as I navigate new and uncharted territory for me. I do ask you to do one thing for me—Keep me in your prayers as I embark on the next step in my writing journey.

Have you ever considered indie publishing? What held you back or pushed you forward in your decision?

As all the pieces fell into place, I felt as if the Lord was giving me His okay. I had a peace about it as well as an excitement that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #indiepub


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is
to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. 

4 Women Bring Southern Charm to a Cowboy Town 
Crinoline Creek, Texas, 1868
A Cowboy of Her Own by Patty Smith Hall

Bookish southern belle Madalyn Turner knows what she wants—to be a cowboy and own a Texas ranch. But books are far different from real life and soon she realizes she needs help.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bible Study, Anyone? By Marie Wells Coutu

Regardless of the genre or the structure we follow for writing a novel, telling a story means taking our characters on a journey. Our protagonist must have a goal and motivation to achieve that goal, whether the goal is tangible or abstract.

In Christian fiction, the spiritual journey of our characters is just as important, if not more important, than their physical and emotional journeys.

A friend recently shared with me a method she’s using to explore her main character’s beliefs, learn more about her, and understand her spiritual journey.

She’s putting her through a Bible study.

Many writers give our characters personality tests—at least, I do. We “answer” questions for them about their backstory, favorite foods and flowers, and the happiest moment and darkest moment of their life. Perhaps we journal as our character in order to tell part of the story and find the character’s voice.

My friend decided to take this discovery process one step further. She was starting a new Bible study related to the theme of her novel. Instead of reading the book and answering discussion questions as she normally would, she adopted the persona of her main character and went through the study from that perspective.

This revealed aspects of the heroine’s personality and mindset she hadn’t realized and helped my friend gain insight into the character’s faith and struggles.

The “answers” she writes may or may not wind up in the book; heavy-handed biblical teaching is not desirable in today’s fiction. Ultimately, though, the process will deepen the spiritual elements of the story and increase readers’ ability to relate to the character.

This appeals to me as a great strategy, and I plan to use it for at least one character in my next novel.

Have you found other unusual methods to help your characters come alive in your mind? Sometimes the less obvious approach leads a writer closer to the “truth” of the story. Share your ideas and help all of us go deeper with our characters.

Sometimes a less obvious approach leads a writer closer to the “truth” of a character and a story. #amwriting #writingtips @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite

The author adopted the persona of her main character and went through a Bible study from that perspective. This helped her gain insight into the character’s faith and struggles. #amwriting @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite #writingtips

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.
She is currently working on historical romance novels set in the 1930s. One manuscript won the 2019 Touched by Love Contest and the 2019 Sheila Contest, and a second novel also won in the Sheila Contest.
Her published novels are women’s contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. The Secret Heart, her newest release, and Thirsting for More, the second book in the series, were finalists in several contests.

You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page and her website,,
Follow her on Twitter @mwcoutu or on Amazon.