Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not by Sight

Thursdays - Dawn's Devotions for Writers

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7 NKJV)

Some years ago, while going through a particularly rough time in my life, I heard the song, “Walk by Faith,” by the group called Out of the Grey. My eyes teared up every time I heard it. When it played through my car radio, I hoped the person driving next to me didn’t wonder if I was losing it.

I didn’t cry because the song made me sad. I cried because it gave me so much comfort and hope at a time when my world seemed to be crashing in around me. Things changed and got better. In fact, I’m richly blessed and have a wonderful life now.

I still hold that song close to my heart, and whenever I have doubts about where my life is going, the music and words remind me. We are to walk by faith and not by sight.

This is also true when it comes to our individual journeys as writers. Some may feel they’re called to write, but become frustrated after pursuing dreams that seem illusive. The verse in 2 Corinthians reminds us to step forward - believing that God has a plan, and that He’ll show us the right path. The lyrics in the song mention that though the road ahead isn’t clear, God has brought us here. We don’t have anything to fear.

Sometimes we act like we have more confidence in ourselves than in God. But faith is believing that God is working on our behalf, even when we don’t initially see the results.

By having faith, we’re able to grab hold of the power and promises of God. Without faith, we won’t experience the supernatural work of God in our lives. We’ll be limited to what we can accomplish.

I’ve included the song, “Walk by Faith” below. If you’re struggling with anything today, may it be a balm for your soul.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Heavens Declare His Glory and My Own Awe-induced Expressions

Writer’s Journey Wednesday with O

The Heavens Declare His Glory
and My Own Awe-induced Expressions
by Ocieanna Fleiss

“I’d so much rather teach about rocks.” A friend in my homeschool co-op spoke this astounding sentence to me the other day. She was assigned to teach astronomy, but had hoped for geology. “I just love rocks!” she said, her eyes brightening like geodes. “Rock formations shows God’s artistry, like a painting on the earth.” She went on to describe the school of American artists like Moran who reflected God in their glorious nature paintings …

Okay. I concede the awesomeness of canyons and mountains. I too appreciate how the earth’s beauty illustrates God’s handiwork. And I’m all for nineteenth-century artists, but, hello! We’re talking about space! No rock will ever make my heart pulsate like the Horsehead Nebula, or blow my mind like the immense power of a Black Hole, or thrill me as the uncountable galaxies. Nope. Not gonna happen.

This mind-boggling conversation plunged me through the time-space continuum to my college astronomy class. My professor was a boring, grumpy, frumpy atheist, but nevertheless, I couldn’t get enough of him. I admired his knowledge and wanted more, more, more. Every slide he showed sparked my imagination. When he talked about measuring space using prisms, I didn’t get the technical side, but I was humbled by the unthinkable massiveness of the universe. Every chapter in his self-written syllabus drove me to an old-fashioned fear of God. (Probably not what he intended.)

And this awe of God’s grandeur ached to be expressed. In truth it contributed to the birth to my longing to write. The heavens themselves declare his glory. All creation sings his praises. How can I help but voice my wonder at his majesty?

So, humbled by worlds unknown and the great heavenly expanse, I attempt to pen my feeble offerings to the King of the Universe. I strive for excellence, but fail miserably compared to his unreachable creativity. Yet He receives my scribbles with joy since, by the way, He’s also my Father.

What stirs your passion to write? Tell me in your comments below and be entered into a contest to receive a free copy of my book Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Net's Notations Tuesdays
Refreshed by God Series

Ever read a novel and think, “I could write better than that”? Then, you sit down to write and all your skills have vanished?? *grin* It’s probably God’s way of keeping us humble.

I’m sure we all know the difference between pride and self-confidence, but just in case…

God called you to write, right? Right. Or you wouldn’t be reading writers’ blogs, spending hours plotting your next novel and plodding through writing craft books. A tome entitled “The Art of War for Writers” (James Scott Bell) wouldn’t appeal to you, if you weren’t a writer.

How often do you doubt that call?

Whenever I cannot learn a new technique quickly, I doubt myself, and where I’m at.

Whenever I think I should have this stuff down by now (how long have I been at this?).

Sometimes when I prepare for my critique group’s meeting.

Sometimes when I witness the success of other authors and how they now have to market themselves like crazy, travel all over the planet (*grin*) and make much of themselves.

So, when I feel incapable, there’s one thing I can do that will help: pray. One Source to turn to when I worry about all the things pulling at me: God.

Dear God,

Please remind me what You said when You called me. Remind me of that initial nudge toward writing. Remind me of the pleasure of knowing I’m doing what You’ve called me to do—the shared pleasure of participating together with You in the work. (Thanks Paul Young for that image.) And affirm me, like the loving Father that You are. Where I lack, fill me up, both in skills and confidence. Don’t let me tip the scales toward pride, but help me walk humbly with You. Affirmed. Confirmed. And one day, established, as a mature believer and a success at being all You’ve called me to be.

In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

“But the God of all grace, He calling us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, He will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Small Press Feature Day: Harbourlight Books

Happy Monday, everyone! As part of our Small Press Feature Day series on Seriously Write, today we're highlighting Harbourlight Books, a new launch from Pelican Ventures (parent company of White Rose Publishing). (Annette here.) It's been a pleasure reviewing some of the new projects coming in. Again, this house is open for submissions, so feel free to check out the submissions page if you have a Christian/inspiriational manuscript, maximum of 80,000 words, which isn't a romance. (For romance, consider White Rose Publishing.)

Harbourlight Books launched in mid-summer, 2010. Here's the press release with helpful links.

Harbourlight Books

Lisa Dawn, Marketing Director
Harbourlight Books
A division of Pelican Ventures LLC
PO Box 1738
Aztec NM 87410

Pelican Ventures offers new opportunities in Inspirational fiction through Harbourlight Books.

Aztec, NM –July 27, 2010 – Nicola Martinez, founder of Pelican Ventures, LLC, a New Mexico media company, announced today that the company has launched a new publishing venture. Harbourlight Books will publish Christian fiction that ranges in length from 25,000 words to 80,000. This announcement comes just nine months after the company acquired White Rose Publishing, a Christian romance publisher of electronic and print titles.

Harbourlight Books seeks to publish all genre of Christian fiction, Martinez said. “Everything but romance.” Martinez said. “Romance will still be handled exclusively by White Rose Publishing.” According to Martinez, there is a need for the expansion of eBook availability within the Christian fiction community. Harbourlight Books will fill that niche, bringing general Christian fiction to the eBook arena where White Rose Publishing fills the gap on the romance side. The popularity of eBooks is on the rise as “…evidenced by the recent Amazon press release that announced eBooks for Kindle outsold hardbacks,” Martinez said. In addition to electronic books, Harbourlight will publish print editions of novels. Submission guidelines are available on the Harbourlight Books website.

Harbourlight Books is dedicated to providing quality inspirational fiction that adheres to mainline Christian teachings. Currently Harbourlight Books is accepting unagented submissions for short stories and novels that are already complete. The company launch its first release in 2011.

Harbourlight Books titles will be available for purchase directly from the Harbourlight Books website and through various retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others. Bookstores wishing to stock Harbourlight titles may contact the publisher directly, or use Ingram Distributing. Titles will also be available to retailers and at several public libraries as electronic downloads through OverDrive Media.

For information: or

Friday, September 24, 2010

Not a Step Wasted by Trish Perry

This Fortifying Friday we welcome author Trish Perry as she shares her journey to publication. Enjoy her story and encouraging words!

Not a Step Wasted

Every once in awhile, I read about someone like author Christopher Paolini, who wrote his bestselling debut novel Eragon at the age of 15. I have to deliberately steel myself against negatively comparing my publication journey to his. To have achieved what he has in his young writing life is phenomenal. So my self-talk could go something like this: “The boy has more than three decades of success on you, chickadee. What have you been doing all this time?”

Do you ever do that? Oh, maybe you don’t compare your writing journey to that of someone younger, but perhaps you watch someone else’s writing journey and wonder, why is she publishing and I’m not? Or maybe you’ve published but aren’t experiencing the sales success someone else is. Or the glowing reviews.

May I just say cut that out? May I? Because the good Lord most certainly is not putting those thoughts in your head. And after you’ve finished thinking them, you’re still older, or less published, successful, or celebrated than the person to whom you’ve compared yourself. So what do those thoughts get you, other than frustrated?

Okay, so here’s my journey to publication in a nutshell: skipped college, got some training, married, had a couple of kids, divorced, got more training, worked at numerous jobs, went to college, discovered love of writing, submitted for years, got an agent, submitted some more, got a contract at 50. Young Mr. Paolini published his first bestseller at 18, before I even started schlepping around with the above list of wanderings. Does that mean he followed God’s path and I didn’t? No. We were both exactly where God expected us to be.

As are you. Whatever stage you’re in with your writing journey, God placed you there. He has your steps in mind for today. And tomorrow. Ask Him about that.

I didn’t start seriously writing and submitting until I had been an adult for a long time. But my life experiences enable me to write the way I do. That’s not to brag about my writing. That’s simply to say my writing is the way it is—the way God intended it to be—because of what took place before I started. And because of what has taken place since then. No one else writes as I do. That’s the way God planned it.

So it is with you. Every day you’re blessed with something—some experience or struggle or gem of information—that will play a part in something you write in the future. And your journey doesn’t end when you publish your first novel. That experience is just another step. Your journey might include early publication or financial success or critical raves. Or not. Your writing might thrill thousands of readers or “only” touch one reader so deeply she realizes Christ loves her. Whatever your journey, revel in the knowledge that today you’re where He wants you to be. Appreciate what He’s doing, specifically through you.

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written The Perfect Blend (2010), Sunset Beach (2009), Beach Dreams (2008), Too Good to Be True (2007), and The Guy I’m Not Dating (2006), all for Harvest House Publishers. She will release several new books in 2011. Her monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” appeared in Christian Fiction Online Magazine during its inaugural year. She was editor of Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), for seven years. Perry holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She invites you to visit her at


Thursday, September 23, 2010

To Soar Like an Eagle

Thursdays - Dawn's Devotions for Writers

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.”
(Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

How are you doing this week? Are you making it through with a smile on your face? Or are you feeling a bit bogged down?

You may have just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference a few days ago and are still trying to get your bearings after a wonderful, but crazy four or five days. There’s unpacking, laundry, mail to go through, (not to mention all the e-mail accumulated in your box while you were absent) and the kids and/or spouse may be tugging on you for attention. Let’s not forget how tired you may feel after all the adrenaline rushes and nights with little sleep that conferences provide. Add in the pull to get requested submissions sent off to editors and agents.

Or you may be trying to balance the day job, the kid’s extra-curricular activities, housework, volunteer responsibilities, and—oh, yes, you can’t ignore the characters in your manuscript screaming at you to move them along in their story.

I didn't attend the ACFW conference this year. Instead, I flew to another state to attend my niece’s wedding. Family traveled to the Midwest from both coasts. The event was amazing and she was a stunning bride. But it was definitely a whirlwind weekend. We arrived home happy and blessed by the trip, but also exhausted. I began tackling all that needed to be accomplished this week when all I really wanted to do was curl up in bed with a good book and not talk to anyone for several days. Not a chance.

Friends, who are also writers, are going through some major challenges concerning health issues, finances, and various struggles with family members. Those things can wear a person out.

Sometimes writing can be tiring because it is “work.” But because we love it—because it’s our passion—it can also be invigorating. Energizing. It’s all the other stuff that we feel we need to deal with before or after we write that drains us.

What do you do when you’re stressed? Tired? Fighting for time?

I reach for another cup of strong coffee. Sugar in any form. A glass of wine.

I sometimes forget that what I could be doing—should be doing—is going to the Lord for my strength.

Why don’t I go directly to Him??? Is it easier to grab chocolate than to sit for a moment and ask my Lord for the strength—the energy—I need? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to run and not grow weary . . . And soar on wings like eagles? That sounds pretty good!

Of course God isn’t hanging around waiting for us to request an energy boost. But I believe He does care about our well-being. That includes trying to meet our responsibilities and desires regarding our families and jobs—while still fulfilling the passion and calling He’s instilled within our hearts.

Next time you feel burdened by all that needs to be done, ask God to renew your strength.

And have a great week!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Character Development by Jamie Carie

This Writer’s Journey Wednesday, we're giving Ocieanna the day off. But, author Jamie Carie is here to share a little bit about her own journey and how she handles stubborn characters. Enjoy!

Character Development

Have you ever had a character who is stubborn? You know the type. Wants to remain distant and two-dimensional, and oh so elusive. Like recalcitrant children (or maybe just shy) they dodge and deflect when I'm trying to bring out their true feelings, their foibles, that inner dialog/back story that will make me and the reader fall in love with them. I try this turn of phrase or those clothes, a veritable feast of peccadilloes and habits (both bad and good) but nothing is just right. Nothing fits. And so I continue with the beast that is plot and hope to later fill in the proverbial blanks.

Well, I am happy (relieved, thrilled, ecstatic?) to say that my latest heroine, an English woman and an impoverished Earl's daughter, has finally fleshed out. It was my current WIP and due in a little over a month - and yes, I was beginning to panic and pray a lot! Her name is Lady Kendra Townsend and I've recently learned two things about her. One - she and her father "encourage" one another by a gentle, spoken reminder of the fruit of the spirit as needed for an occasion.

Sometimes I scramble for new, fresh ways to portray my characters as Christians aside from the prayers and Scripture verses. This (I hope) has a light hearted comical effect. When someone irritates her, Kendra (silently) yells the word "patience!" or "goodness," or when times are good "joy" to herself. When dealing with pain and heartbreak of losing her father she remembers his gentle admonition of "long-suffering" and "love." I do miss her father almost as much as she does - sniff!

Then, just this week in late edits, I learned that she harbors a love for hats. She can't afford many but oh, my, like my love for shoes . . . well, enough said. She loves them big and full of fripperies, feathered and bejeweled. The drooping brim, the shallow crown, straw, felt and fur. The gaudier the better and I just love that about her.

So, if your characters are being shy or just plain giving you fits, keep plotting along and who knows what you will discover at the ninth hour.

Know what I mean?

Jamie Carie is an inspirational fiction novelist who believes in the power of “story” to touch hearts and change lives. She is the author of Snow Angel, a USA News Book winner for Best Romance of 2007, a ForeWord Magazine award winner and a RITA Awards® finalist. She is the author of several historical romances and her first novella, The Snowflake, out later this year. Jamie lives in Indiana with her husband, three boys and a giant of a dog named Leo.

To learn more, please visit:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Net's Notation Tuesdays
Refreshed by God Series

Have you ever wondered if you were on the right road as a writer? I watched the awards ceremony blog feed for ACFW this last weekend with a touch of sadness. I hated missing conference, but it wasn’t meant to be this year. I remember sitting there at the awards banquet many times over the years. I remember the anticipation in the air and the joy. The electricity. This year as I read the blog feed, I wondered “Where do I fit here now?”

I took a break from conference this year due to finances. So, it’s not as if I’m bowing out of the field. *smile* In fact, I’m moving in a different direction as an editor, so I’m really not leaving the field.

And I’ve been writing lately, too, with ACFW’s Novel Track: Writing challenge (which I hope to participate in again in October). But I don’t have a second book published. I feel like I’ve been working hard and learning and growing and things are changing, but the things I’d like to see happen, aren’t. (sometimes)

Can you relate with that?

So, I need God’s reassurance. I need Him to come along and remind me I’m on His journey, not the one I’d design for myself (which, by the way, wouldn’t include even a drop of the wisdom God’s design does).

The great part, though, is I’m still meeting fantastic writers and learning the craft and growing in the field. God’s given me fantastic friends and learning ops. I’m very grateful for all of it!

Sometimes the best assurance comes from counting one’s blessings. Can I hear an AMEN? *grin*

I know this: God is my source for assurance and reassurance, for affirmation and reaffirmation. He will see me through to wherever He wants me.

And that’s all the reassurance I need. How about you? How has God reassured you lately?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Small Press Feature Day: Marcher Lord Press

As part of our mission to promote authors and Christian publishing, this Manuscript Monday, we're continuing our series on Small Christian Presses. Today: Marcher Lord Press.

Jeff Gerke graciously agreed to share the following information. Thanks, Jeff!

Marcher Lord Press ( is a small indie publishing company dedicated to publishing the finest in Christian speculative fiction. Christian speculative fiction is an umbrella term that includes science fiction, fantasy, time travel, superhero, vampire, end times, supernatural thriller, alternate history, spiritual warfare, paranormal, and anything else that is weird fiction from the Evangelical worldview.

MLP launched in 2008 and is about to release its fifth lineup of original, full-length novels for adults and older teens. MLP novels have won or been finalists for several awards, including the Christy Award (win), ACFW Carol Award (we currently have 5 finalists in this year's competition), the EPIC Award (2 wins), the Indie Awards, and more. MLP books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and USA Today.

Marcher Lord Press considers completed full-length (65,000+ words) manuscripts, for adults and older teens (no YA), in the speculative genres and from the Evangelical worldview. Authors need not be agented to submit proposals to MLP. They may do so through the acquisitions portal on the MLP site. That page, plus writer's guidelines, can be found here.

MLP is an advance-paying, royalty-paying publisher. Authors who are invited to publish with MLP do not put up any money for the publication of their books, nor are they required or "encouraged" to buy a minimum number of copies of their books.

Publisher Jeff Gerke attends many Christian writers conferences across the country. In 2010 he has taught at or will teach at the following: Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, the Florida Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW conference, the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, the Orange County Christian Writers Conference, and more. He accepts appointments at every conference he attends.

Proposals that have the best chance with Marcher Lord Press are those that 1) adhere to the writer's guidelines, 2) exhibit a high level of fiction craftsmanship, and 3) tell an incredible speculative story that exalts Christ.

Jeff Gerke has been called the de facto gatekeeper of Christian speculative fiction. He is the author (under the pen name Jefferson Scott) of six published novels and three co-written nonfiction works. He is also the sole author (under the name Jeff Gerke) of The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction and the forthcoming Writers Digest book Plot Versus Character (October). He has worked on staff for three Christian publishing companies. Novels he has acquired or edited have won the Christy Award, the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Foreword magazine Book of the Year Award, the EPIC Award, the Indie Award, and more. He is one of three finalists for the ACFW Editor of the Year for 2010. He is the founder of the popular Web page, which is dedicated to Christian speculative fiction. And in 2008, Gerke launched Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. He and his wife of 20 years live in Colorado Springs with their three children. Jeff makes his living as a freelance editor, writer, book doctor, typesetter, and cover designer.

Contact information:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Out of Sorrow and Loss by Amanda Cabot

Author Amanda Cabot is here this Fortifying Friday to share her journey to publication in CBA. (Dawn here.) I was touched and encouraged by her story, and I’m sure you will be, too. Enjoy!

Out of Sorrow and Loss

When people ask about my writer’s journey, I tell them it’s a long story. That comes as no surprise to my friends, who know that I’m challenged to stay within the maximum word count range for my books. The story of my move into the Christian market is a lot shorter. It can be summarized in one Bible verse: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, KJV)

Although I had written for the secular market for over twenty-five years, I had never seriously considered writing for the CBA. In fact, when readers suggested I do that, I would shake my head. “It’s not for me,” I would say. All that changed the summer of 2004 when a dear friend from college entered the final stages of leukemia. Though we were separated by thousands of miles, that summer brought us closer than we’d ever been. Knowing we had only a few months left together, she and I spoke of many things. For the first time in the more than thirty-five years we’d known each other, we spoke of what was truly important: faith, love and hope. We also spoke of legacies, and she insisted that mine would be the stories I told. In our lighter moments, we spoke of the final gift she had for me. Though she was referring to a piece of French porcelain, what she gave me was of far greater value, for her last months on Earth brought me a stronger faith and the realization that it was time for me to write about God’s love.

By the end of the summer, I had changed and so had my writing. My friend was gone, but in her place, God had given me a new direction. It was time to tell stories that would be a fitting legacy, not just for me, but for her. Paper Roses was the result.

The story doesn’t end there. Simply deciding to write for the CBA market didn’t mean it was an easy sale. It took me close to a year to write the book and another to find the right agent. Even then, we faced a number of rejections. Three years after my friend’s death, Paper Roses still had not sold. To say that I was discouraged is an understatement, and so I gave myself a deadline. If the story hadn’t sold by the end of 2007, I would accept that this was not God’s will for me, and I would return to writing for the secular market.

It was late September 2007 when my agent called with wonderful news. Two publishers were interested in Paper Roses. I had gone from rejection to acceptance – times two. My prayers had been answered, and something positive had come from my friend’s death. My career as an author of Christian romances had begun.

I have been richly blessed. Paper Roses has been well received by readers and reviewers, and it was a finalist for both the 2010 Booksellers Best and the Carol Awards. Its success has also led to contracts for other books, but the greatest reward has been the knowledge that I am following God’s plan for me. He turned my time of sorrow into something good.

With both parents avid readers, it’s no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than twenty-five novels under a variety of pseudonyms. Her most recent release is Scattered Petals, the second book in the Texas Dreams trilogy.

To find out more, please visit Amanda’s

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Struggle with Envy?

Thursdays - Dawn's Devotions for Writers

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male
servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey,
nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 NIV)

Do you ever struggle with being envious of fellow writers?

Don’t fib! I think we all struggle with it at one time or another. We’re human. We may envy another writer’s talent, their agent, their fans – even the amount of attention they receive on Facebook! LOL!

We may want to be supportive and celebrate with other writers when they get a three-book deal, or even their first contract. But if we’re not experiencing the same success at the moment, our heart may experience a few twinges. We might even become a bit down and question, “Why not me?” And then in order to make ourselves feel better, find ways to criticize their work.

I attend large writers conferences. One in particular holds two contests. The first is for unpublished authors, and the other is for book of the year. Of course each person who reaches the finals desires to have their book or manuscript win. A personal sense of satisfaction comes with awards, as well as some notoriety. But not everyone can win. How easy it could be for the non-winners to covet the prize and question why they weren’t chosen.

In Exodus we read that we’re not to covet ANYTHING that is our neighbor’s. That includes any type of success others may experience.

God understands our weaknesses. He understands our heart. He also asks us to trust His will and plans for our lives, as well as our fellow writers’ lives.

When you feel envy attempting to find a way into your heart and mind, call on God. Ask Him to give you a spirit of celebration for others. He’ll answer.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Simple Life. Is it Possible? Part 2

Writer’s Journey Wednesday with O

The Simple Life. Is it Possible?

Part 2
by Ocieanna Fleiss

Talk about deadlines looming! This week definitely put my “simple life” objective to the test. I had two editing, one teaching, and a writing deadline. These, along with a nasty cold and my husband breaking his ankle, created a less-than-simple week.

Amazingly, even with all the pressures, I somehow avoided panic and anxiety. I didn’t even get grumpy! Observing this unusual calm in the whirlwind, I learned a couple things.

Rest Stop
First, when the chaos pressed in, I challenged myself to stop. Yes, stop. I know it sounds crazy. In the past I’d do the exact opposite. I’d force myself to push through and work harder. Stay up later. Get up earlier. Hire a babysitter. Push, push, push …

But this week, I tried to stop writing at four in the afternoon in order to make a good meal for my family. I chopped vegetables and taught my daughter how to cook. I laughed with my wannabe Jedi son. Most days we ate as a family. Then I went back to work refreshed and feeling blessed and loved. I worked till eight and no later. With the computer off, I watched TV with my husband or read a book. Rested.

The other tactic I tried was simple. I read books to my kids. I said, “Gabrielle, go get a book,” at least once a day. And when I read with her snuggled next to me, I savored her closeness. I relished the words and the story. The illustrations. I tried to delight in other small blessings too—a good laugh, a conversation with a friend, an opportunity to serve. I enjoyed the life God has given me.

That’s the point. I’m incredibly blessed with more precious gifts than I can name. Yet, sometimes I’m so focused on work (writing) that I miss out on these gifts. The ironic thing is that when I get all frenzied and intense trying to meet a deadline, I not only forfeit the joys in my non-writing life (family, church, friendships, homemaking, etc.), writing itself becomes a chore. I begin to even resent it.

Yet when I savored the God-given moments—like breaths of wind to my soul—writing again became a delight. Panic and anxiety flew away.

This concept of living simple is still a work in progress. I have much more to learn. What advice can you gift to me? How do you “keep it simple”?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Net's Notation Tuesdays
Refreshed by God Series

“Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”
(Matt. 6:6, MSG)

Just last week, I spent a few hours studying great Scriptures having to do with God’s love. I ended up making two lists. One contained verses of God’s love for people. And the second contained verses of our love toward God. What a difference it made in my day, in my week, to focus on the love of God. So much joy, and peace over my circumstances. Everything about the day became visible through the lens of His love. Sunshine, family time, commitments, work, everything was brighter because of that reassurance.

When we spend time with God as a part our daily devotionals, we get refocused on what matters. We can see more clearly what God has called us to do. We can verify we’re on the right track as writers and as children of God called according to His purpose.

If you’re feeling scattered, I recommend taking time to be with God and hear from Him. Pursue Him until He speaks.

If you’re stressed, go to Him. Hear Him whisper (or shout?) “Peace, be still” over your anxieties and give you the rest you desperately need.

If you’re uncertain, focus on Him.

Sometimes, we don’t need more focus on our writing craft, though, if you’ve been a reader at Seriously Write long you know we take the craft of writing seriously. Sometimes (oftentimes) what is needed is to refocus on the Lord.

If writing has moved into first place, refocus on the Lord. Put Him first and everything else will fall into place.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matt. 6:33)

By refocusing, we position ourselves for God to refresh us as His writers. I need more of that. How about you?


Monday, September 13, 2010

Small Press Feature Day: White Rose Publishing

Happy Manuscript Monday! (Annette here) At Seriously Write, we like to equip writers for their journey. One way we thought might be helpful is to share information about small publishing houses. Today we're going to feature White Rose Publishing. I had the privilege of being published with White Rose in 2007, and now I serve as an editor working with Nicola Martinez, the owner. If you write Christian romance, any length, this publishing house is one to consider as you're seeking publication.

Here's what Nicola Martinez had to say:

White Rose Publishing began as the White Rose line at The Wild Rose Press, and I became an editor for the line--and subsequently, senior editor--in 2006. In October 2009, I purchased the White Rose Line from TWRP, and it is now a completely separate entity.

White Rose publishes Christian romance exclusively and in all romance sub-genres. Agented and unagented submissions are accepted, and guidelines are on the website under the "writers guidelines" link. The best chance an author has to get published with us is to write a great story. I know that sounds vague, but it's really the truth. As long as it's a Christian romance, we'll consider it. Include an undeniable hook that keeps the reader engaged. Whether contemporary or historical, stay true to the time period, setting and characterization. We like to see character-driven, emotional stories, rather than plot-driven--although, we won't rule out any well-written and interesting story. It's also important to keep the Christian aspect in there. There must be spiritual growth. It's not enough to show the character pray before a meal or pass by a church. The faith journey is as important as the other plot points.


Nicola Martinez is publisher and editor-in-chief of the Pelican Ventures Book Group, which includes White Rose Publishing and Harbourlight Books. After writing journalistic articles for newspapers and magazines, Nicola moved into editing when she accepted a managing editor position of a small newspaper. She has worked as publisher and editor-in-chief of an international magazine, and has been on the retail end of books and periodicals, owning a Christian bookstore before becoming a book editor.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Encouragement for Writers

Welcome to Fortifying Friday! This is the day we feature guest authors with their personal journeys to publication and encouraging words for writers.

But today we’re going to do something different.

We’re on this writing journey together, so this Fortifying Friday, we’re going to focus on encouraging and praying for other writers and each other.

Many of you will be attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference next week in Indianapolis. If not that conference, maybe you—or someone you know—plan to attend another in the coming months. It’s exciting to attend workshops, meet other writers, and even pitch your novel to an editor or agent. But it can also be an intimating, stressful, and overwhelming experience.

Perhaps over the next few days you could encourage or pray for someone who is

1) Attending a conference in the near future
2) Stressed about deadlines
3) Struggling through a personal or family crisis
4) Finding it difficult to financially make ends meet
5) Trying to meet the family’s needs
6) Feeling defeated and discouraged
7) Suffering through any illness, whether slight or serious
8) Searching for ideas while sitting in front of a blank computer screen
9) Desiring to have the support of spouse and/or family
10) Feeling spiritually dry
11) Seeking community with other writers
12) Needing to feel energized and inspired to write

Another way to offer encouragement is to write a note of thanks to an author who has entertained or inspired you through his/her words.

If you have need of encouragement, or would like prayer for yourself or someone else, please leave a comment. You don’t have to be specific. God knows your heart.

Blessings to you, dear friends and writers!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

God's Way

Thursdays - Dawn's Devotions for Writers

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:9)

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the reins, isn’t it?

We have dreams—goals—desires. We want to control the outcome of our labor. We want to choose who, what, when, and how.

We pray and ask God to bless “our” plans . . .

But Isaiah reminds us that God doesn’t work the way we work – and He doesn’t think the way we think. His work surpasses ours, and His thoughts are beyond the way we think.

He cares about you. He cares about your hopes and dreams, whether it be for a particular agent to show interest, a contract with a certain publishing house, or for your writing to make an impact.

But rather than pray for God to bless your plans, ask Him to show you His. They’re already blessed. He has a personal plan and a specific destination for you.

And it may be far greater than what you can imagine.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Simple Life. Is it Possible?

Writer’s Journey Wednesday with O

Annette and I are so happy to welcome our good friend and critique partner, Ocieanna Fleiss, to the staff here at Seriously Write. Ocieanna will be our regular contributor on Writer’s Journey Wednesdays, sharing her humor and wisdom as she travels on her own journey. Occasionally, a guest writer will pop in and visit, giving this busy author and mother of four a break. But today, enjoy what she has to say about living the simple life.

The Simple Life. Is it Possible?

by Ocieanna Fleiss

Well, maybe if you’re a nun. Seriously. While clicking through channels on TV recently, I saw three nuns sitting across from Oprah. Nuns? These long-frocked gals hadn’t crossed my radar for years. But their unfamiliar world niggled my curiosity, and I continued watching.

The show followed three new, young nuns through their typical day in the convent. They each seemed to embrace the regimented routine, lack of possessions, and service to others. In fact, they appeared to possess a peaceful joy that I rarely see in our society. The simplicity of their existence enticed me, drew me, and I found myself longing for what they have (or don’t have).

This coveting of nuns surprised me, so I’ve been pondering the concept of a simple life (what a concept!) and how I can apply it to writing.

The first thing I did was clear my workspace of clutter. It really struck me how calming the nun’s sparse room (called a cell) made me feel. My chaotic feelings often arise out of the clutter around me. So I’ve been trying (not always succeeding, but making progress) to keep my desk clean. And, when I sit down to a cleared desk, I can more easily focus on the thoughts and prayers that lead to good writing.

Next I realized these sweet ladies swam in a totally different world concerning time. Their routine was highly scheduled, (like mine) but not with a million tasks to be completed (unlike mine). Instead they made time to pray, contemplate, and study. Just writing those words gives me a sense of peace.

I’m pretty good about pausing for morning devotions, but once my day gets rolling, watch out! I’m like a train with scheduled stops. Step in my way and you could get hurt. So rather than rushing to push out five thousand words a day, I give myself permission to pray, think, and study (even in the middle of the day). To read a book slowly, chewing on the words as I go. To be in the moment, allowing time for the writing process instead of rushing through it.

These two simple steps have helped me begin my more peaceful road. Next time we’ll journey together through the question of finding peace with deadlines looming.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 ESV

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Net's Notations Tuesdays
Refreshed by God Series

Spiders. In August, the spiders come out with a vengeance, weaving their webs everywhere. I’m guessing it’s because they’ve grown over the summer months and now, with flies jetting about, they’d like to find some dinner. Their silken webs stretch from lawn furniture to bird feeder, discouraging a harmless stroll through the yard. Walking along, I’ve nearly inadvertently stepped right into a web, which would mean wearing that eight-legged creature. Not a good idea.

So, last Saturday when I had the opportunity to water my container plants, I didn’t. The weatherman had promised rain. I was hoping we’d get that shower and I could avoid the arachnid threats.

Then, yesterday—due to lack of water—they were looking rather wilted. So, I watered them like crazy.

And today, it’s pouring! *grin*

That’s how I get if I don’t get enough time with God—wilted. Thing is, unlike my potted flowers, which are dependent upon someone coming along with water, I have access to God’s Word and prayer at any time. Even if a Bible isn’t nearby, I can recall Scripture, and I can certainly pray. I don’t have to get to that point.

Why do I let myself get to the point of wilting? Busy-ness. Pursuit of other things. Excuses.

I just need to go encounter Him, to raise my wilted branches toward the sky and ask Him to rain down on me, refresh me, rejuvenate me.

Are you feeling dry and needy? Here’s God’s invitation:

"Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything's free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I'm making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.” (from Isaiah 55)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Writing Good Dialogue by Kay Marshall Strom

Kay Marshall Strom has graciously agreed to let us post her blog article on dialogue. Here’s the original link. I hope you are blessed this Manuscript Monday by Kay’s wise advice.

Don’t Let This Happen to You:
Writing Good Dialogue
by Kay Marshall Strom

Writing good dialogue is an art. Here are some dialogue-polishing pointers I call: ”Don’t let this happen to you.”

Unnatural Dialogue: “You’re crazy, Justin!” said Megan. “Look who’s talking, Megan,” Justin replied. When we talk to people, we hardly ever say their names. Yet the tendency in dialogue is to repeatedly address our characters by name. Don’t. Better: “You’re crazy!” said Megan. ”Look who’s talking,” Justin replied.

Over-descriptive dialogue: Too many adjectives and adverbs give a fake, amateurish feel to your writing, and dialogue is no exception. “When I gazed upon the snowy-white petals of the lilies, so like winter’s icy coat of velvet, I knew Louie’s love for me was at an end,” she murmured tragically. Choose your adjectives carefully and sparingly. Make certain each one is worth its presence. Be even more stingy with your adverbs. Much better to let your sentence set the emotion than tack instructions on at the end. Better: “When I saw the white lilies, I knew what they meant; Louie no longer loved me,” she murmured.

Lectures or soliloquies: “You will be taking the driving test next week,” Mother said. “All the days of practice, all the hours of study, all the mistakes and all the do-overs will come into play when you sit down behind the steering wheel, take off the parking brake, and put the car in gear. Take a deep breath, my dear daughter, and clear your mind of everything but the test. I know you can do this.” Long speeches grow stale very quickly. Don’t try to pack too much information into a passage. Dialogue isn’t the place to display all the research you did, either. Nor should you use it to sneak in “And the moral of this story is…” Better: “You will be taking the driving test next week,” Mother said. “You’re ready. I know you can do it.”

Exposition: “I happened to run into your sister Julia, the one who married the doctor, Tim, from Peru, and who has the three children–Luisa, Freddie, and Lizzie. She was telling me that your mother moved to an eight-bedroom mansion on the tip of Florida where she lives among writers.” Oh, my! Please, do not have your characters tell each other what they already know just for the sake of letting your readers in on it. If you want us to know that kind of information, give it to us in narrative form. Better: I had wanted to hear the words from Sarah‘s mouth. Her sister Julia was in town with, Tim–her doctor husband from Peru– and their children. Julia had talked on and on about her mother’s eight-bedroom mansion on the tip of Florida, and all her writer neighbors. When I finally saw Sarah, I said, “I talked to Julia.”

Unnecessary Dialogue: “Frank, this is my good friend, Jean. Jean, this is my neighbor from up the street, Frank. I thought it would be nice for the two of you to have a chance to shake hands and at least say hello to each other.” If the dialogue has no real purpose, leave it out. Dialogue that fills the page and simply serves to bide time succeeds only in slowing your story down and boring your reader. Better: She introduced Jean and Frank to one another.

Repetitious Dialogue: All day, Marianne had been busy painting the room. She paused when Philip entered. “I’m painting,” she told him. She lifted her blue brush high. “Blue,” she said. Tell us in the narrative or tell us in the dialogue, but don’t do both. Better: Marianne had been busy painting the room. She paused when Philip entered. “Blue,” she said, holding her brush high.

Sugary-Sweet Dialogue: “Oh, Mother, the dinner is delicious, as always. Brother, dear, please pass me more of the wonderful potatoes,” little Francine said. You say you have to be extra nice because you are writing about your own family? And you don’t want anyone to look bad? So you just add an extra touch of the positive and pare off anything that could be interpreted as negative? Your readers won’t believe a word of it! Better: “Eat your dinner, Francine,” mother said. “Starving children around the world would be glad to have those mashed potatoes!”

Creative Attributions: “Don’t talk back,” he coughed. First of all, attributions must be other ways of speaking. People cannot cough words–or smile them or laugh them or sneeze them, for that matter. Second, plain old said and asked and answered are far more serviceable than more creative options, such as queried or extrapolated or implored. Third, look for opportunities to use an action in lieu of any attribution. Better: Franklin’s face went livid. “Don’t talk back!”

Okay, that’s my ”get started” list. Any dialogue hints you want to add?


Kay Marshall Strom is the author 36 published books. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers. For 10 years Kay taught writing classes through the California State University system, during which she designed and directed the Writers Certificate Program for Long Beach State University. Today her writing and speaking take her around the word.

You can learn more by visiting


Look for Kay's book The Voyage of Promise, releasing Oct 2010.

She is safe, and she is free . . . but she is still alone.

Slavers burst into Grace Winslow's life with guns blazing and tear her family apart forever. She watches in anguish as her husband is led in chains aboard a tightly packed slave ship bound for America. An old enemy has a more sinister plan for Grace and prepares her for a different kind of servitude in London. But Grace will not be enslaved. And she will not give up on the man she loves. In her determination to be reunited with her husband, she finds God reaching out to her.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Forty-Year Apprenticeship by Laura Frantz

Welcome to another Fortifying Friday! I’m thrilled to have author Laura Frantz with us today. (Dawn here.) Our friendship began after reading Courting Morrow Little (which I loved) and discovering that she also lives in western Washington. I’m blown away by her journey to publication because it’s a little different from what you hear from most authors. It’s a reminder that we need to do our part, but God is really in control, and will bring us to publication when and if He desires. Enjoy!

A Forty-Year Apprenticeship

I sometimes feel like I came in the back door of the publishing world. You see, I had no writing conferences under my belt, no blog/website, no writing friends or contacts, no agent, etc. All I had was a passion for writing since the age of seven – and a belief that the Lord had gifted me to write. Since I’d never been very good at anything else, I knew writing must be something I’d been hardwired to do. I simply wrote stories, all historical, for the joy of writing. Publication was not something I seriously considered until my late thirties. By then I was married and had two young children so the dream was more distant than ever. But I kept writing as I’ve never been able to stop writing, unaware that the Lord had me in an apprenticeship program that would last forty years!

When I remember that Moses and Joshua had their own forty year travails, I almost smile. Though I’m no biblical hero, I think we are all in training to fulfill our purpose in this life. Mine involves writing and yours might, too. If it’s not writing, the Lord has in mind some specific purpose for you. Let there be no doubt. :-D But the length of the apprenticeship varies. I am somewhat in awe of authors who come to writing later in life and find a publisher in a few years, even months. That’s not how it happened for me. But looking back, I see the experiences God tailor-made for me during my lengthy apprenticeship to enable me to write the books I write.

Here are a few examples – I’m a Kentucky girl, born of a family who has been in Kentucky since the 18th –century, the very era I write about. When in college I was able to major in English, specifically 18th-century authors and their works, which enabled me to become familiar with that time period and all its aspects. Later, I moved to the woods of Washington and experienced what life had been like for a woman in history. I gardened extensively, built a house with my husband, made jerky, tended animals, butchered beef, pressed cider, canned and preserved, lived without a phone or TV or other electronics, and kept writing and reading. These are just a few of the things that the Lord built into my life to enrich my writing, but at the time I didn’t see that I was in training! I won’t even elaborate on the work God was doing in my heart. I had to come to the place where I yielded to Him in all things, putting my writing dream on the altar to let Him determine the best future for me.

When the time was right, He placed the book of my heart with an editor of a major publishing house. I went from a small blurb on the Writer’s Edge, a manuscript submission service, to a three-book contract in less than a year. But it took forty years to get there. So when other writers stop me in surprise and think I just appeared on the scene without paying my dues, I think of that long apprenticeship and just smile. :-D

"The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the words of Your hands." ~Psalm 138:8

Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's ancestors followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late 18th-century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. She is a member of the Kentucky Historical Society, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. Frantz currently lives in the misty woods of northwest Washington with her husband and two sons.

Please visit her at her blog/website: or contact her at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Toxic Relationships

Thursdays - Devotions for Writers

“When a blind man leads a blind man,
they both end up in the ditch.”
(Matthew 15:14 TM)

Today, I’m asking you to consider the people who surround you . . .

Are you in relationship with people who support your writing goals? Or do you hang out with those who think you’re “dreaming” and share comments that put negative thoughts in your head?

We can’t control how our friends and family think, or what they say. They may not intend to be mean or say things that hurt our feelings. Unless a person is involved in the industry, he may not have a clue as to how things work. How much is involved, how long it may take to build a writing career, or even how excited you may become over even a small success.

However, toxic relationships can infect our lives with negativity - affecting our creativity and productivity.

Our development as writers – especially as Christian writers – can be enhanced if we’re in relationship with people who understand us, the writer’s journey, and the spiritual correlations. When we’re passionate about something, and another person is passionate along with us – the fire is stoked.

We also need to be careful about toxic relationships within our writing circles. Writers have shared sad stories of critique groups where members trashed someone else’s work in order to feel good about themselves. A meeting became a place where competition reigned and criticism was common.

I do believe it’s important to be honest within our critique groups. We grow to become better writers. But, it’s much easier to take constructive criticism when it’s tempered with encouragement.

One writer shared with me that after a move to another state, she became involved with a group of writers who believed they knew it all, weren’t interested in tips on how their writing could improve, and gave misinformation about the industry. They were unwilling to learn anything new outside their exclusive group. It was a real case of the blind leading the blind. Out of frustration, the writer finally made the wise decision to leave. She felt it was better to not be a part of a group at all, than to attempt to work with a one that was becoming toxic for her.

If you don’t have a critique group you can meet with in person for support, perhaps you can join an online group. Network with other writers through Facebook, or read blogs (like this one) that offer various types of information and encouragement.

Find at least one person who believes in you, and who will pray for you.

And don’t forget to ask God, “Who belongs in my life?”


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Hire a Publicist by Kathy Carlton Willis

We’re all aware that marketing is a must for today’s authors. But it can feel quite daunting to many who don’t feel comfortable promoting themselves. This Writer’s Journey Wednesday we welcome Kathy Carlton Willis. She explains how a publicist can help. Thanks, Kathy!

Someone to Shine
the Light on You

What Is a Publicist?A publicist is a professional who has both the know-how and the network in place to help bring your name to the public. In the literary world, a publicist is key to the marketing plan, to creating consumer appetite for a book title, and stimulating buzz for the author.

A literary publicist promotes the book title directly to consumers through niche-markets with an interest in the storyline or subject matter of the book. The publicist also networks with media by pitching specific interview angles the author can provide—setting up the writer as an expert on certain subjects.

Sometimes publishing houses hire independent PR firms to manage specific book campaigns, or entire lines of books. Other times, they pay half toward an outside campaign, and the author matches that. The third option is for the author to pay all of the expense from their advance, believing that publicity and marketing is what will make or break the overall sales for the book. Publicists also assist with author branding for the career of the author, so the buzz extends beyond the life of one book.

Most PR and communications firms offer a wide array of services. We will come alongside of you at any stage in the writing game. We can help expand your platform, branding and name recognition. Need some help making sure your website is selling you in the best possible light? Ask your publicist. Some will even edit your manuscripts and write your book proposals, query letters and marketing plans.

After the book contract, your publicist will customize a plan for promoting you and your titles with the goal of maximizing exposure—and perhaps seeing the promotion go “viral.” This requires multiple reaches to the public, through traditional media presence, online spotlights, and waves of social networking.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a dozen times, “I’m so glad I didn’t have to navigate this book promotion jungle on my own. Thanks for holding my hand through the process.”

Why Hire a Publicist?

1) A publicist has the media contacts and relationships needed to secure interviews/ reviews.

2) A publicist knows how to pitch your book to the media and how each journalist prefers to be contacted.

3) Most writers do not have the time to devote to a publicity campaign. It is a full-time job.

4) When an author is pitching his own book, it is sometimes viewed as being too self-promotional. A publicist is seen as a third party and most journalists are more receptive to discussing publicity with a publicist rather than the author.

5) When media, retailers and consumers hear an author has a publicist, they seem to see the author as having more “clout.” It legitimizes the expert-status of the author and elevates them to a higher professional standing.

6) An author with a publicity team has “peeps.” It’s that whole “I’ll have my people contact your people” approach.

Kathy Carlton Willis, of the same named communications firm, gets jazzed fiddling with words as writer, publicist, coach, editor, speaker, and more. She’s affiliated with Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, as well as CLASSeminars. Her articles have appeared in a variety of print and Internet publications, as well as three books. She writes and edits The Christian Pulse devotions. Read more at Kathy shines, whether she’s shining the light on others through her communications firm, or reflecting God’s Light during her speaking opportunities. Check out her company’s rack card at: