Monday, October 14, 2019

The Heart of the Matter: A Writer's Barbaric Yawp

by Peter Leavell

You closed your laptop and turned your back on writing.

Over the weeks, months, years, you worked through churning emotions.

Powerful things, those emotions. I won’t call them bad. Nor are they good. They just are. They’re with you, sometimes they even feel they are you, and sometimes they act like a bad friend whispering lies—that you are the sum of your feelings.

You long for peace. What’s better than walking on a cool fall day wrapped in a comfortable sweeter, the sun splashing on the vibrant leaves? Some emotions are walking beside you as a friend.

Emotional Struggle Isn’t the End

The emotions that drew you away from writing didn’t destroy your writing path. They didn’t kill your need to write—it's a giveaway because you're reading a writing blog. Instead, the fears, doubts, and concerns about self pulled you away. The path is still there. The necessity to put words on paper remains, battling with the emotions.

The self-doubt and fear are entirely justified. We all feel those things. We all endure them. Sometimes it feels as if doubt’s fingers are around our throat. And yet, we still breathe. One breath. Then another.

One word. And then another.

Our hearts beat with pain because someone won an award. Someone has a book you could never imagine creating—one you spent all night reading. You can’t be that writer. You can’t do that writing. The agent told you so. That’s what the rejection slip is saying. You’ll never be good enough.

The rejection slip broke your heart. But did it break your will? Maybe. But why are you still thinking about writing? A part of you died. It’s true. You have to admit that to yourself. But yet, a broken heart beats. And a rejection slip burns. Or it’s framed as a trophy. And the writing beckons from ancient voices far deeper than your heart, far deeper than your mind.

One word. And then another.

You scribble:


That’s a word. Wrap your arms around yourself. You. You are a body. You exist. You matter, you are matter, and this matters. Unwrap your arms. You wrote one word. And now, it’s time for the next word. This is important. Are you ready?

Here’s your word:


The fingers around your throat, the rejection slip stabbing, the unheard cries of recognition of any kind tie your hands behind your back. And yet, you’ve put something on paper that matters, that connects with your soul. And mine. Tell me. What do you do? Despite the pain, frustration, heartache, what is it that will lift your hand towards the sun and makes your voice scream to the
universe? Because I do the same.

I write.

The writing is in you, whether you've closed your laptop or turned your back to it. And that makes us brothers and sisters. Keep writing.

The rejection slip broke your heart. But did it break your will? @peterleavell #writerslife #seriouslywrite

What do I do if I've left writing and want to come back? @peterleavell #seriouslywrite #writerslife

You are a body. You exist. You matter, you are matter, and this matters. Write. @peterleavell #seriouslywrite #writerslife

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, October 11, 2019

Confessions of a Christian Romance Author by Dawn Kinzer

Photo of fall leaves and a silver heart

Confessions of a Christian Romance Author

I never set out to write romance.

I realize now that I feared going there—because going there meant being vulnerable.

I planned to write women’s fiction—stories that focused on female relationships and today’s issues. You know—the easy stuff! (Just kidding about the easy part.)

But, one day my critique partners, Annette Irby and Ocieanna Fleiss, set me straight. They told me I might as well accept it—I was a romance writer. At first, I balked at the idea, but once I stopped lying to myself, I actually gained freedom in writing.

That being said, I still find myself hesitating when asked, “What do you write?”

People who read nonfiction sometimes look at Christian romance novels as fluff and not worth their time. People who read secular romance may question how Christianity and romance fit. I try to explain without rambling, but I don’t always do a stellar job.

Recently, I went to the hair salon I’ve used for many years, but since my technician had left to pursue her dream job, I’d made an appointment with someone recommended. I recognized the woman about my age—she’d worked at that salon for about as long as I’d been going there.

A friendly, social person, she wanted to learn a little bit about me, and here’s how it went down.

“Do you have the day off?” she asked.

“No, I work from home. I’m just taking a break.”

She applied color to my hair. “Oh, what do you do?”

“I’m a freelance editor and writer.”

“What do you write?” An anticipated question.

I took a breath and decided to go for it. “I write Christian romance novels.”


She finished her task and left me to wait alone until the rinse.

What was I to think? Yep—that.

The technician returned and led me to the sink. I was shocked when her testimony poured out.

She shared some of what she’d gone through over the years—tough stuff. But, at one point, she’d become a Christian, and the Lord had changed her life and also her daughter’s.

I was amazed at some of the similarities in our personal journeys. I’ve been a Christian my entire life, but we had faced similar challenges. As I became more vulnerable, she did as well, and I learned more.

Before I left the salon that day, she hugged me. We both felt unexpectedly blessed and encouraged as we parted.

I was reminded that if I let fear of being misunderstood, of being rejected, of being laughed at—or fear of anything else—direct how I act, I’m in danger of cheating the people I encounter and myself.

There is no fear in love.
1 John 4:18 (NIV)

As Christian writers, we pour our hearts into writing because we love God, and we care about his people. We also love the written word.

I write fiction because I truly believe story can change lives. But, in order to impact others, there are times when we need to be honest—vulnerable—unafraid, especially if God has called us to write.

Out of love, be bold in your writing and be proud that you have a passion to write Christian fiction—including romance.

Has there ever been a time when you didn’t know how to respond to this question: What do you write?

In order to impact others, there are times when we need to be honest—vulnerable—unafraid, especially if God has called us to write. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters

Releasing Nov. 25
By All Appearances
Pre-order the E-book Now!

By All Appearances

Liana Tate, a special events planner grew up in a high-profile family. No matter what she does, Liana feels she never measures up.

Bryan Langley, a talented musician, was close to signing a recording contract when a barn fire left part of his face severely burned. He survived, but his career did not.

When Liana’s father hires Bryan as a caretaker on the family estate outside of Seattle, Liana’s and Bryan’s lives become entangled. He risks public humiliation for Liana’s success, and she encourages him to use his musical gifts, despite his reluctance. Thrown together, will they achieve their elusive dreams? And will the two find the love and acceptance they yearn for, or will their actions only drive each other away?

Dawn Kinzer
Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and her own work has been published in various devotionals and magazines. She co-hosts and writes for Seriously Write. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, Hope’s Design is the second, and Rebecca’s Song completes the trilogy. Her first contemporary romance, By All Appearances, will be released in November 2019.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.

You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her books by visiting these online sites: Author Website, Faithfully Write Editing, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon Author Page, and Goodreads.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Yes, That Really Happened! By Patti Jo Moore

As writers, we know that story ideas are everywhere. People-watching can often send our minds into overdrive, and we start playing the “what if” game in our thoughts. What if that man patiently accompanying his wife in the grocery store is actually a spy?

We can also use incidents in our own lives to add an interesting twist in our stories. Has something unbelievable happened to you? Maybe something so crazy that later you find yourself thinking, I can’t believe I did that! Or Did that really happen?

Since I recently returned from attending the American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference in San Antonio, Texas, I’ve been reflecting on what I learned, the friends I saw, and yes—even some zany things that happened. 😉 It occurred to me a few days ago that some of these happenings might find their way into my future stories.

Because I’m not a seasoned traveler, I was a bit nervous as I prepared to board my flight at the Atlanta airport. *Side note: For those of you who’ve never been in my hometown airport, it gets CRAZY!* As I headed along the jetway to board the plane, I glanced behind me to see if I was the last passenger. The line ahead suddenly stopped, sending me plowing into the woman ahead of me. Cringing, I profusely apologized, preparing to be met with a glare. Instead, the woman laughed and joked about not having her brake lights on! I had no idea who she was, but I liked her right away. 😊 A few hours later, I was leaving the registration table at the writers’ conference when a woman approached me, smiling as she introduced herself. She was the same woman I’d bumped into, and also a Hallmark author whose books and movies I love! I gushed like a crazy fangirl, but she was so sweet and since then we’ve visited and emailed. I have a new friend!

When I checked into the hotel, the kind employee smiled and handed me a bookmark with a Bible verse on it, along with my room key. As I stepped away from the counter to join a friend, I glanced down at my room number. Room 666. Seriously? At a Christian conference? For a minute I thought it must be a joke. ☹ The woman who’d helped me was now busy with another guest, so I went to a different desk clerk. When he saw my room number, he shook his head and exclaimed, “I told her not to give anyone this room!” He completely understood my reason for wanting a different room, and happily assigned me to a new room on a different floor. 😊

I could go on and on…but you get the idea. Those clumsy moments we might have, or something that we can later laugh about can all become part of our stories. Even something that might seem unbelievable to others—yet really happened to us—can all find their way onto the pages of our stories. If you’re too embarrassed to admit an incident really happened, no worries. You’re a writer, so folks will just think you made it up. 😉

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. Proverbs 15:13

Amazon Buy Link
After being deceived by her beau the previous year, library worker Sadie Perkins feels she’s meant to remain single and serve as a missionary to orphans in Africa. Her plan is to return home to Riverview after a year, and open an orphanage in a lovely house she’s admired since childhood. She didn’t plan on losing her heart to someone who intends to demolish the house.Widower Shaun O’Leary of Savannah yearns to make his father proud, and hopes to accomplish that by overseeing a hotel project in the town of Riverview. But first he must have a house demolished before hotel construction can begin. After meeting lovely Sadie Perkins in Riverview, he’s puzzled why she seems upset when he mentions his plans. He’s also saddened that she’s leaving for Africa soon, because he’s fallen in love with her. As Sadie prepares to board a ship, she finally has peace and realizes what she should do, yet still feels sad that the house she loves is to be demolished. When Shaun suddenly has an idea to save the house Sadie loves, he rushes to the Savannah port to tell her, but the ship has sailed. When things seem hopeless, can dreams still come true?

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 three contemporary stories and one historical, all with Forget-Me-Not Romances

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Writing While Waiting by Kathy Harris

Don’t ever pray for patience, because God just might give it to you. At least that’s how the old saying goes.

Who hasn’t been frustrated occasionally when things don’t happen as quickly as we had planned? I don’t know about you, but there are times when I even start doubting that they will happen.

Let’s take the elusive dream of publication, for example. I think writers are particularly vulnerable to impatience. The road to publication is a long one. Throw in a few stop signs, roundabouts, dangerous curves, and detours, and it’s easy to become discouraged.

Unfortunately, discouragement is the number one enemy of productivity, and if we’re going to be published, we have to write. So, how do we avoid the vicious cycle of discouragement vs. writing?


Just as discouragement is the enemy of productivity, deadlines are the nemesis of doubt, discouragement, and impatience. Deadlines are an act of faith. When we set a deadline, we’re telling ourselves that we can. We’re committing ourselves to the task. We’re showing ourselves to be faithful that God will deliver. In His timing.

In April of this year, I wrote a blog post on deadlines for the ACFW Blog outlining why I think deadlines are one of the best ways we can move ourselves forward as writers. In fact, I believe that self-imposed deadlines can keep us ahead of the game, putting us in a place where we don’t have to scramble when opportunity knocks. And it will.

All in God’s timing. 

Just as discouragement is the enemy of productivity, deadlines are the nemesis of doubt, discouragement, and impatience. via @DevineDetour #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Kathy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Authors Network, MCRW, and RWA. She is the former publicity chairman for her local writer’s group and a member of The Book Club Network Volunteer Board of Directors. Follow Kathy on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram (

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Crossing the Canyon by Marie Wells Coutu

Planning for a recent family trip to the Grand Canyon started because my husband wanted to run rim-to-rim for the second time. That means starting on the North Rim, running down into the canyon, across the Colorado River basin, and (mostly walking) up to the South Rim—in one day.

This excursion is not for the ordinary hiker. It takes planning, training, mental toughness, and excellent physical conditioning. (In other words, it’s not for me!) But our daughter-in-law, who is also a marathon runner, was up for the challenge.

That journey across the canyon had similarities to my journey as a writer:

1. It started with a goal. My husband and daughter-in-law wanted to accomplish the goal for no other reason than to say, “We did it!” I became a writer (and I imagine you did, too) because of a passion inside me to tell stories, which evolved into a desire to be published so that others could read my stories of redemption and hope.

2. It required preparation and training. They each spent hours running, working out, practicing going up and down steps and hills. (There are a lot of steps on the mile-high descent and ascent.) As a writer, I’ve needed a lot of training and studying. And each new book requires preparation as I develop my characters and think through my plot.

3. There were obstacles, including some painful ones. My husband fell twice, once into a cactus that left its needles in his arm. He still bears scabs on his knee and legs where the rocks scraped him. Becoming an author also features many obstacles and sometimes we carry the scars with us: limited publishing spots for new authors, a plethora of competing books, criticism and negative reviews, lack of sales, competing priorities, and, at times, plain old discouragement.

4. Turning back was not an option. Once they started down the trail, their “support team” left to begin the drive to the South Rim to pick them up. Returning to the North Rim would have done no good and would have meant failure. Sometimes as writers, it’s tempting to give in to discouragement and abandon the dream. But we have to persevere, to keep our eyes focused on the goal, if we have been called to write.

5. The trip is more rewarding and successful if not attempted solo. Because they traveled together, they could urge each other on, share the experience, and celebrate completion together. I have writer friends who have cheered for me from the beginning—and I continue to make new friends along the way. Those who “finish” first—by getting an agent or a publishing contract—reach back to encourage, offer a hand or peptalk, and provide advice.
When you get discouraged about your writing career, remember what Paul wrote to the Galatians, as paraphrased in The Message:

“You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place” (Gal. 5: 7-8, MSG).

He concluded the chapter with this admonishment:

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen . . . let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Gal. 5: 25-26, MSG).

No matter where you are on your writing journey, keep on keeping on. It’s the only way to cross what may seem like a canyon before you.

The journey across the Grand Canyon had similarities to the writing journey. @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #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.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Rules of Survival for Writers by Gayla K. Hiss

Gayla K. Hiss
In my latest book, Cold Pursuit, the hero has a set of rules for surviving the wilds of Yellowstone National Park in winter. While I was writing the book, I took a trip to Southern Utah and hiked through a couple of slot canyons, which are very narrow, cave-like passages with only enough room for one person to squeeze through at a time. From that experience, I developed my own set of rules for making it through a slot canyon, which can apply to making it as a writer as well.

1. Don’t go it alone. Like hiking in narrow, dark canyons, writing can be a very daunting and lonely endeavor. It’s important to have people around to encourage and support us and help us out of a jam. For writers, this could be a critique group, a writers’ organization, or just good friends we can count on.

2. Never give up. It can be easy to become discouraged when we keep hitting dead ends and unexpected twists and turns, but if we keep persevering, we’ll eventually get through.

3. Don’t lose your way. I discovered in the slot canyons that as long as I went in the direction of the sunlight at the end of the tunnel, I would eventually find my way out of the canyon. Likewise, we Christian writers must keep following our Light and not go off course by worrying about worldly concerns like sales numbers, marketability, and what people will think of our books.

4. Once we’ve committed, there’s no going back. Maybe you’ve discovered that your journey is harder than you thought it would be, and you’re tempted to turn back. If you do, you may never have the satisfaction of conquering your canyon (or book). Chances are, you are probably closer to succeeding than you think. The Apostle Paul said, “…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 3:13-14.

When we apply these rules to our writing, we discover that we have what it takes to get through the tight spaces. Like hiking in a slot canyon, we may not be able to see the light at the end of tunnel right now, but if we walk by faith and not by sight, eventually we will.

Your turn: Have you been tempted to turn back? How did you handle it? What's some advice you have for fellow writers who may be facing their own hurdles?

A Writer's Survival Guide by Gayla K. Hiss


Cold Pursuit
Can they elude the relentless danger before it’s too late?

A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. Faced with guilt from her past mistakes, plus a disturbing pattern of suspicious incidents, Faith has second thoughts about staying on the tour.

Despite her misgivings, the serene splendor of the winter wonderland provides a much-needed respite from her stressful life and gives her a fresh perspective. After a little soul-searching, she wants to come clean with Jake. But can he forgive her for the heartache she caused—or the truth she’s withheld from him? Meanwhile, Jake wants to keep Faith at a distance, yet he must protect her from the menace stalking his tour group.

As her enemies close in like ravenous wolves, Faith is the only one who can stop the mayhem by finding the missing piece of the puzzle. Is it a smoking gun—or a trap set to destroy both her and Jake?


Award-winning author Gayla K. Hiss began her writing journey painting landscapes. In her imagination, characters and scenes came to life as she painted beautiful natural settings. Her inspiring novels combine her love for the great outdoors with romance, suspense, and adventure. Her book Wildfire recently won the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award for romantic suspense. Gayla and her husband often tour the country in their RV, visiting many state and national parks. She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with Gayla:
Amazon Author Page:

Friday, October 4, 2019

Walking in Jesus’ Steps by Melinda V. Inman

Meme referring to God changing the water to wine.

Walking in Jesus’ Steps

Finally. At last! By the grace of God, I opened the file, so I could work through my editor’s revisions (our own dear Dawn Kinzer). Those editing marks were completed months ago. How I longed to jump right in when the manuscript returned to me!

However, life often requires us to bump projects around as we move people and significant events ahead of our work. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you already know this.

Children. Weddings. Parents. Anniversaries. Birthdays. Family. Births. Deaths. Sickness.

These come first. Always, always, people come first. Jesus had the most important ministry in the world. He was constantly “interrupted” by people as he went here and there, and he always stopped to take care of those people. His mission was people.

His first miracle was at a wedding. A poor bridegroom faced shame over his lack of financial provision for his wedding. As our bridegroom, Jesus saved this young man from social embarrassment, stepping in to make water into wine and teaching us a lesson about himself.

In the middle of lecturing the Pharisees, he paused as roofing material filtered down upon him and a hole opened in the ceiling. Bit by bit, the friends of a paralyzed man ripped through the roof and lowered down their loved one. Jesus was delighted. He healed the man.

In a crowd of shoving people, all attempting to get to Jesus, people brought their children to be blessed. When the disciples sent them away, Jesus halted what he was doing and delivered the most important statement on children ever voiced. Then he blessed the kids.

Jesus headed toward Jerusalem for the most momentous event in all of human history. As he walked toward his crucifixion, a blind man called out for healing. Stopping in his tracks, Jesus turned. Of course, he went back and healed the man.

God ordered all of his creation and all of his Word around this ultimate act of caring for people—the crucifixion of his Son and his Son’s resurrection from the dead. Our salvation and the securing of our eternity were the goals of everything Jesus did.

The Bible, the entire book, circles around this event. This is the why. This is the pinnacle: Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. He lived and died and rose for us—for people—to save us from an eternity apart from God and to restore us to right communion with God.

As we sit down to write, as we pound out these words, inevitably the lives of others, the needs of people, and the calls to serve face to face will demand that we temporarily sideline a project. If you don’t know this yet, you will.

God in the flesh modeled what ministry looks like. Jesus was in constant communion with God, following the Father’s lead. Jesus showed us how to live as we serve the Lord God. People are more important than tasks. Kindness is winsome. Bringing needy people into God’s kingdom is our ministry priority. These are our marching orders.

To walk in Jesus’ steps, we keep our eyes on the whys and the Source.

Why are we writing in the first place? If we’re writing to serve the Lord, to obey his calling, and to proclaim his message, then it’s imperative that we keep our ministry of writing in line with his model. What did he do? We must do likewise.

The Lord put people first: loving them, serving them, leading them to salvation, being present with them. He is the Source of our words, of our lives, of our unique calling, of the very world in which we live and move and breathe.

As the Source, what does he want of us? We are to walk in his steps.

When he brings needs to our attention, when we must set aside a project momentarily or for a season, we know that he will return us to that work when the time is right, when we have done what he has called us to do, when we have been his own hands and feet.

We are Christ’s body on the earth. Let’s walk in his steps. Serve the people.

The Lord put people first. He is the Source of our words, of our lives, of our unique calling, of the very world in which we live and move and breathe. As the Source, what does he want of us? We are to walk in his steps.
#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 coastal South. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.

Melinda has two projects releasing this fall. One is a novella—Benjamin’s Blessing, Book #2 in a Mafia Princesses and Mountain Men series written with a group of Christian writers. If you loved 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, you’ll love this modern take on the story. Book 0 is already available for preorder at

Melinda’s other project for 2019 is the sequel to No Longer Alone—the novel The Shadows Come, publishing near Thanksgiving, just in time for Christmas gifts! All of Melinda’s work, including past titles, can be found on her Amazon Author page at


Facebook Author Page: