Friday, March 30, 2012

My Journey to Publication by Roseanna M. White

One of the things I love about Fortifying Fridays here on Seriously Write is that we provide opportunities for authors to share their personal journeys to publication. It’s inspiring and encouraging to learn that we not only have similar experiences along the way, but that each path is still different. God has a unique plan for all of us. Today, author Roseanna M. White shares her journey. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

My Journey to Publication
by Roseanna M. White

It was a Tuesday morning. My kids had spent the night with my mother-in-law the night before, and she’d just dropped them off so I could take them to Story Time at the library. I had the bag of books ready to take back, so grabbed it and my purse and rushed the kids out to the car, got them buckled in. At which point I realized I’d forgotten my car keys—so I rushed back to the door. Which my husband had locked behind us, and I’d just left my house keys in the car. Argh! A second dash up and back—though of course, hubby heard me and now had the door unlocked. He started to open it for me, then turned to the ringing phone.

I stepped inside just as he said, “It’s your agent.”

My agent? My pulse, already raised from those dashes up and down the driveway, jerked up a couple more notches. I took the phone, answered. And heard, “Are you sitting down?”

“I am now,” I said, sinking onto the step-stool in front of the sink.

“Well, it’s finally happened! Summerside has bought Annapolis.”

I think my response was something along the lines of “Glory hallelujah!” But I can’t be sure, I was in such shock, LOL. I listened in a daze as she went through the contract points with me, half my mind worrying about the fact that the kids were still in the car, parked in the garage. Hubby soon took care of that worry and pulled the car around for me, but let me just tell you—the giddiness to follow made it mighty hard to sit still during Story Time. ;-)

See, it had been a lot of long, hard years leading up to that phone call. I finished my first novel at 13, my second at 16, two at 18, and 8 in the four years of college. I’d attended conferences, I’d honed my craft. I formed a critique group, I’d even helped my husband launch a publishing company. But I’d begun to think that God’s will for me must not be a big publisher. Begun to think that He must want me devoting all my time and attention to WhiteFire Publishing.

And after years of fighting Him on that, I had finally said, “Okay, God. If that’s what You want, okay. Help me flourish here.”

Then that morning in March, I saw where the Lord had been leading me all along. After a rejection from Summerside on a contemporary idea, He’d opened the door for a historical, which was where my passion truly lies. And in the year since then, He’s also followed up another rejected-contemporary that Harvest House was considering with a three-book historical deal that will begin next January.

When I look back on this long journey, I sometimes can’t believe that it’s been 15 years since I first typed “then end” in a book, sent out my first queries. Only five since I got really serious about it and began going to conferences and investing in my would-be career, but still. That’s a lot of years of work, a lot of exploring my voice, my preferences, my niche. A lot of years of wondering, “How long, Lord? How long?”

But oh, how blessed I am to sit here now and see that this, now is what He planned for me all along. Now I get to help my husband’s dream-company grow. I get to write for two other wonderful houses too. I’ve signed with a fabulous agent and am building the career I’ve prayed for, for so very long. And I thank Him for all those rejections. Because they led me straight to the place He wanted me, and where I’ve always yearned to be.

Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them. After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the Maryland side of the same mountains they equate with home.

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, both from WhiteFire Publishing (, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland from Summerside Press, and the upcoming Culper Ring Series from Harvest House beginning in January 2013.

She is the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, Christian Authors Network, HisWriters, and Colonial American Christian Writers.

To learn more about Roseanna, please visit

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This-n-That Thursday: A Fresh Start

Years ago, while going through an exceptionally difficult time, I wondered if my life would ever be happy or even feel normal again. I prayed and leaned on God to take away the pain that fought for a home in my heart.

Then one day, while walking through my neighborhood, I noticed crocus poking up through the ground. The blooms were a sign. Spring had arrived.

Soon after, my walks included the breathtaking blooming cherry trees, rhododendrons, and azaleas—not to mention tulips and daffodils.

I closed my eyes, inhaled fresh air, and tilted my face toward the sun. I realized that spring had not only arrived due to the cycle of nature, it had come for me as well. I’d made it through my own winter, and my heart was lighter than it had been for a long time.

Spring has a way of making life look brighter. Nature coming back to life after a gloomy or cold winter gives us hope, and it helps us believe in new beginnings.

 What about you?

Are you in need of a fresh start either personally or professionally?

A drawer—or computer file—filled with rejections from publishers or agents can discourage us from trying again. Unsupportive words from family or friends may hurt and make us feel like failures. Personal schedules and responsibilities can leave us feeling like there is no time to pursue our dreams.

Did you know that if you have a caterpillar’s cocoon, and you take a razor blade and cut it open so that you can pull out the butterfly, it will never fly? In order for a butterfly to have strong wings and a solid body it needs to struggle and fight its way out of the cocoon. If we allow frustration and disappointment to come between us and our calling—our passion—our dream, then we’re like butterflies that refuse to fight their way out of their cocoons to freedom and flight.

Perhaps you’ve been banging your head against the computer screen because a story you’ve toiled over for months isn’t working. Try writing something new! Try writing in a different genre.

If you’re feeling discouraged, reach out to another writer who will understand; offer that person support, encouragement, and accountability in return for the same.

Maybe you’ve had to put your writing aside for a season in order to take care of other people or responsibilities, and now that you have time to write, it feels overwhelming to jump in again. Rejoice! You have a chance for a fresh start!

We become writers because we have large imaginations. We also believe in the power of story to entertain, teach, empower, and change lives.

Well … we have our own story, and to a great degree, we can write it ourselves. 

What about our own character arcs, personal goals, inner conflicts? What will we do in our own lives to bring about a satisfy ending?

Winter is over! It's spring—the perfect time for a fresh start!

 ~ Dawn

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ask O: What Can I Learn from the Ancients?

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends!

If you’ve been reading my column very long, you may have sleuthed that I’m a homeschool mom. One amazing thing about homeschooling is I get to learn right along with my kids. It’s so fun! And, helpful … homeschooling’s how I discovered a hidden pearl, a buried treasure, a lost coin often overlooked (at least by any writers I’ve heard of). What is it, you ask?

The progymnasmata.

The word comes from the Greek, pro, meaning before and gymnasmata meaning exercises. So you get, “before exercises.” Those smart ancients actually learned their craft before they tried to do it. Imagine! It’s sort of like how artists often study Raphael, Renoir, or other greats—even copy their work—before creating their own original.

When it came to writing, the Greeks trained their students to examine the classic works and mimic them (with a whole ladder of exercises) before penning their manuscripts. By doing these exercises in order, writers strengthened their ability to communicate, like how pumping iron builds muscles.
The ancients’ structure and forethought intrigued me. There had to be a way to apply the overall concept to my own fiction writing. So, rather than going through each step, I took the premise of mimicking the greats, and beginning with phrases and sentences, expanded from there.

I Like How She Said That

Often when I’m reading a good book, I’ll spot a phrase with an ear-pleasing cadence. I tend to gravitate to the classics, so here’s one from Jane Eyre.

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.

I inspected the structure to form my own.

Writing is a joy. Being published is a gift. To love the first is not to expect the last.

Okay, so I’m not as skilled as Miss Bronte, but this exercise challenged me to pause and allow myself to struggle with cadence. It pushed me beyond my own limited prose habits to seek a higher level of excellence. And it was fun!

Since I learned about this, when I get stuck, I’ll grab an especially prosaic book or open my “Fine Phrases” file and pick one that might fit. Then I plug in my own words and ideas. I’m not strict about adhering to the exact structure, but having a model helps unfetter my thoughts and set my fingers clicking on the keyboard again.

See how useful the "progym" can be? Tune in next week for another lesson from the Greeks.

Don't forget to send me your writing questions in the comments on at my website.

Happy writing!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is the Devil Stealing Your Joy? - Dora Hiers

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

Have you considered what the devil attempts to steal from you? Could it be your joy? Your peace? Does he plant the seeds of doubt in your job, little nuggets of distrust in your relationships, or snippets of resentment towards your daily tasks? Anything to rob you of your joy.

Last year
In May last year, about a week before my first book released, he paralyzed me with fear and self-doubt. Sure, I wrote a book, but I had no idea how to navigate the confusing world of publishing. For two days, the devil robbed me of joy and peace until I rebuked him by calling on the name of Jesus.

Fast forward to this year 
My second Christian romance releases on March 30th.  Already the devil has attempted to rob me of my joy and peace. Maybe he decided to start earlier because he sensed he would have to work harder. Or maybe he thinks with all the fiery darts he zings at me that I'll give up writing. Plant a little seed of doubt here, throw in a nightmare about sleeping through a book-signing, and toss in a few fears that I still don't know what I'm doing. 

I'm having none of it! 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27b (NIV)

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31b (NIV)

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

God promises that He will help me. He doesn't want me to be troubled or afraid. He surely doesn't want me to listen to the devil.

I trust God to vanquish my fears, to help me walk this path that He's set before me and to hold my hand along the way. 

He's done it before. 

I trust Him to do it again. 

What about you?

Is the devil stealing your joy today?

After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son didn’t want her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing heart racing, God-gracing books. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers. Dora and her husband make their home in North Carolina. When she’s not writing, Dora enjoys reading and family gatherings. She despises traffic, technological meltdowns, and a sad ending to a book. Her books always end with happily-ever-after’s.

Dora's newest novel Journey's Edge is being released 3/30/12 from White Rose Publishing and won 2nd place in the 2010 Unpublished Beacon Contest.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Art of Being Selfless by Marianne Evans

You're on a tight deadline, so what happens when life happens? A tragedy. A mind-numbing challenge that robs not only your breath, but your muse? Today Marianne Evans shares some of her secrets for carrying on and writing in the midst of real life. You'll be encouraged! ~ Annette

The Art of Being Selfless
by Marianne Evans

Have any of you longed to throw up your hands in abject surrender and cry out with the following: "God, I’m trying! I’m trying to follow Your call in my life, and I’m working as hard as I can to fulfill what I see as Your plan in my life, but reality keeps getting in the way. I just can’t seem to make the pieces match and meld. I just can’t seem to get it done…"

Some of you who know me understand the bittersweet year that was 2011. On some levels, it had been a dream year…with the affirmation of book sales and unparalleled confidence displayed by my editor and publishing house, Pelican Book Group.

But then came the month of June.

On June 16th, my father passed away from a sudden and quite literally heart-breaking health episode. From there, seismic life changes occurred. Life changes that snared what precious little writing time I could find and sent them upward in a puff of smoke.

Through the latter portion of 2011, I wondered if all the joy, hope and optimism had vanished from my life, if the momentum and pleasure of my writing life had vanished from my life.

In the months following my dad’s passing, I found myself thrust into the role of care-giver and support column to my mom as our entire family wrestled with the void left behind following my father’s death.

I won’t lie. Writing has become a struggle to maintain, but through it all, God’s faithfulness shines. I received incredible affirmation from my editor about my upcoming release, Devotion, and its potential to grace bookshelves both electronic, and brick and mortar. I’ve also signed on for a new, three-book series. Hope shines in the darkness, letting me know God has a plan, and a purpose for the calling he has placed on my heart.

Life changes bring about shifts in emphasis, and new, God-given footsteps. But what about the regular pattern of life? What about the routine, for me my writing, which has been such a calling on my heart, and passion?

In going with the flow, in embracing the shifts in life’s sand, we come to new, and sometimes even better understandings of our goals—both as writers and as Christians.

How has a life circumstance come upon you and changed what you want, and need, to do? How have you handled it? I’d love to hear your testimony!


From This Day Forward
Christian Music agent Kellen Rossiter has everything he ever wanted: A-list clients from coast to coast, a loving wife who honors and respects him, and a faith life that’s never wavered—until now.

Juliet Rossiter has the perfect life: a rewarding schedule serving the underprivileged, a husband who loves her as Christ loved the church, and a blessed future as a mother—at least that's what she thinks.

For Better or Worse
But what happens when their rock-solid marriage begins to crumble under the weight of an unexpected and powerful temptation? How does love survive when its foundation is shaken?

'Til Death Do Us Part
When human frailty and the allure of sin deal a harsh blow to their relationship, it will take more than love to mend the shattered trust and heartbreak. It will take a lifetime of devotion.

Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories she creates. Her acclaimed novella, Hearts Crossing led to the creation of the four-book Woodland Series. Next, Evans tackles the topic of a loving marriage in turmoil in her Christian fiction debut, Devotion coming in November, 2012 from Harbourlight Books. Also in 2012, Evans kicks off her second Christian romance series with White Rose Publishing. Search & Rescue will be book one of the Sales Place series, which revolves around the folks who frequent a cozy and historic riverfront diner in downtown Detroit. A lifelong resident of Michigan, Evans is very active in a number of RWA chapters as well as ACFW and the Michigan Literary Network.

Connect with Marianne at:
Facebook Reader Page:!/pages/Marianne-Evans/308711716744
Twitter Handle: @marmo212

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Heroine to Love by Donna Fletcher Crow

We yearn to create a story that engages readers and tempts them to read into the wee morning hours. How do we accomplish that? An editor helped author Donna Fletcher Crowe recognize an important key. ~ Dawn

A Heroine to Love
by Donna Fletcher Crow

What do you look for first in selecting a book, especially if the author is unknown to you? An exciting plot? Captivating characters? An enticing background? Of course, we want all of them in our stories. Along with a meaningful theme, beautiful prose and. . . Well, the list goes on. But it seems that more than anything else, it’s the people that matter most.

This really came home to me when I received that all-important, long-awaited acceptance letter for A Very Private Grave, The Monastery Murders 1. The editor said, “We think that Felicity is a heroine readers will really care about.” That was it. Well, of course, I was thrilled. I didn’t really care why they accepted it just so long as they did! But what about my breathtaking, intricate plot that I had lost so many nights of sleep over? What about the amazing background development of sites that I had slogged through mud and wind to visit? What about all the history I had pored over in cold libraries to get just right? What about. . .

That was an excellent lesson to me. I had loved Felicity and had worked hard to make her a living, breathing character, but my editor’s comment showed me the importance of the heroine. And he’s right, isn’t he? We love Pride and Prejudice because we suffer with Elizabeth (well, and also because Mr. Darcy is so gorgeous!). We reread Jane Eyre countless times because living Jane’s life vicariously is such an amazing experience.

Felicity started out a very different woman. Because I was using my daughter Elizabeth’s experiences as Felicity’s background: studied classics at Oxford, found she disliked teaching school in London, went off to study theology in a college run by monks in rural Yorkshire. . . For the first few chapters of my rough draft, Felicity was Elizabeth— sweet, devout, compliant. Fabulous qualities in a daughter, but in a heroine B-O-R-I-N-G.

So the real Felicity was born— brilliant, impulsive, loyal, headstrong. Felicity went off to become a priest so she could set the world right with no doubts that she would be able to do so. At the end of A Very Private Grave she tells Antony, “I thought I knew everything. Now I realize I don’t know anything.”

Antony replies, “I can’t think of a better place to start.”

In A Darkly Hidden Truth Felicity, who never does anything by halves, has decided she’s going to be a nun— in spite of Antony’s pleas that she help him find the valuable stolen icon, in spite of the fact that her mother is about to arrive from the States unexpectedly, in spite of the fact that a dear friend has disappeared. . .

Again, Felicity has a lot to learn, and, even though it seems she must learn everything the hard way, she is making progress. Especially when it comes to choosing the course for the rest of her life. Will it be the veil or Antony?

Who are some of your favorite fictional heroines? What makes them special to you?

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 38 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

Her newest release is A Darkly Hidden Truth, book 2 in her clerical mystery series The Monastery Murders. She also writes the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about these books and to see book videos for A Darkly Hidden Truth and for A Very Private Grave, Monastery Murders 1, as well as pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This and That Thursday: What I Learned from Poetry

One of the first writing books I ever read gave this advice: Write a sonnet every day. The author said it would help with rythmn and meter as well as learning to zero in on one topic. I've always loved reading poetry, tried my hand at writing the lovely verses a few times, so I decided to give it a try.

After one or two pathetic sonnets, I gave up. Writing poetry is not my thing. But, even though my venture into writing a sonnet a day flopped, it still rendered a good result. It spurred me to try to fill up on those magical verses when I get a chance, all the time gleaning from the masters.

So, for This and That Thursday, I will share one of my favorites with you. There are way too many awesome poems to choose from, but since I write romantic tales, I'll share a love poem. (And keep reading till the end to find out the major lesson I learned from studying poetry.)

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of th purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love,
-- Christopher Marlowe

Very romantic, don't you think?

Okay, here's the main lesson reading poetry taught me. If you notice, this poem is replete with real images--valleys, groves, hills, fields, etc. It's about the most romantic love, but it doesn't say things like, "I love you so much." Or "I just feel so in love with you right now."

Instead, Marlowe paints a picture using concrete visual prompts to create the emotional connection--and it's much more powerful that way. All my favorite poems employ the same tactic: "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose," "The Tyger," "The Lamb," "Love's as Warm as Tears," "Dappled Beauty." Each one of these yummy morsels grabs its reader using clear, palpable images.

So, in all my writing (fiction and nonfiction) I try to use solid images instead of fluffy emotionalism. It's more powerful, and, well, I like it better.

What are your favorite poems and how have they affected your writing? I'd love to hear!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ask O: Minor Characters--How Do I Make Them Interesting?

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends!

Have you ever met a quirky character--not in a book, but in real life? I can think of many such occasions.

Years ago my husband and I rented a video (remember those?) from a Blockbuster. The clerk's bushy head of brown hair was complemented by an all-black, goth outfit. When we approached, he said: "Greetings," in a dark, sober voice. "And salutations," I responded.

Recently the kids and I were ordering at a Taco Bell. The guys' eyes never once looked at me, and his body barely moved. It was like talking to a zombie.

When I was a courtesy clerk at Safeway, this sweet old European woman had a hard time finding her car, so she'd holler for her dog, "Susie! Susie!" Then she'd tell me do it. We'd both call out, "Susie! Susie!" until we could hear the little poodle barking in the back of her car.

I have so many more examples I could go on and on!

These are the kind of minor characters I love. The world is rich with them. A day rarely passes that at least one quirky person or just an odd behavior crosses my path (sometimes it's my own family...or myself.) I simply cherish these moments! Not because I'm making fun, but because I delight in the diversity of people God has made. We're all so different and our peculiarity makes us real and wonderful.

Also, it's kind of amazing that a holy God would love our silly world enough to send His Son.

So, why not sprinkle (not overload) my story world with odd, eccentric, idiosyncratic folks? In Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana, you'll meet Horace, the gold miner who's hungry for the love of a real purdy woman. In Victory Heights, the newspaper boss man switches up his sentences so they make no sense. The teenaged boy in Glacier Bay enjoys creating crazy contraptions he thinks are helping (not so much). It's super fun!

I tried not to let these colorful fellows overwhelm the story. I sprinkle them here and there with just a few scenes. They are minor characters, after all.

I also make sure they're not too cartoonish. I think of the real-life characters I know and model my minors after them, even toning down at times. (Sometimes reality is too crazy for fiction!)

My goal is to reflect the quirky diversity I see around me--which I happen to greatly enjoy.

What eccentric characters have you met lately--in a story (yours or others') or in real life? How do they inspire your writing?

God bless and happy writing!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tools for Writing: Scenes & Sequels

Did you know that if you do an Internet search of “scene and sequel,” you’d find 51,800,000 results? (No, I’m not exaggerating.) It's one of those catch phrases that you hear floating around writers' conferences along with "motivation-reaction unit" and "point of view." But, it is an important tool for your writer's toolbox because it keeps your novel moving forward. 

What is "Scene and Sequel?"
A scene gives the point of view character a goal, presents some type of conflict and ends with a disaster that moves the action forward into either another scene or a different type of scene called a sequel. A sequel is just a reaction scene that shows the point of view character’s emotion, presents them with another quandary that demands a decision and leads into more action.

The Warrior, the Wise Woman and the Fool
To explain this concept a little, let’s look at the biblical account of David, Abigail and Nabal. (I'm speaking on this Bible story tonight to my women's group at church so prayers would be greatly appreciated.) In 1 Samuel 25, David has just spared Saul’s life and is enjoying an uneasy ceasefire in the wilderness where he and his men are protecting area shepherds.

Scene: Goal, Conflict, and Disaster
David sends ten men to town with the goal of asking the owner of the largest flock, Nabal, for food. But here’s the conflict. Nabal is known for being ill-mannered and boorish. In fact, his name means, “fool.” In his answer, he compares David to a runaway slave and sends the messengers back empty-handed. Disaster strikes. David, in his anger, orders his men to suit up and prepare for battle, intending to kill every man in Nabal’s camp.

Sequel: Emotion, Quandary, Decision, and Action
In the sequel to this scene, a young servant runs to Nabal’s beautiful and wise wife, Abigail, with an emotional account of what has happened. She has a quandary: what can she do to stop the slaughter that her churlish husband has put into motion? She decides to order her servants to take the requested provisions to David’s army. Then she goes into action herself. She meets David on his way to her home and falls at his feet, apologizing for her husband’s words and pronouncing a blessing on him and his men. David graciously accepts her apology and spares her family.

How Many Scenes? How many Sequels?
Scenes and sequels can follow one another or you can have a series of scenes followed by a sequel or even series of sequels. 

In 1 Samuel 25:36, a scene follows. Abigail is relieved and returns home to tell her husband what she's done. But when she arrives, she finds Nabal drunk after a huge feast. She wisely decides to wait until he sobers up to tell him that she took food to David. The next morning, she breaks the news and Nabal's "heart dies within him." Disaster strikes when he dies a week later and Abigail is left a widow. 

But the story doesn't end there -- a sequel is next. David hears of Nabal's death and asks Abigail to marry him. The new widow considers his request and accepts, eventually becoming a queen.

Scenes, Sequels and Genre
Jack M. Bickham, in his book Writing Novels That Sell, says genre may determine the structure of a novel. Plot driven, fast-paced thrillers or action adventure may skip sequels. Character-driven contemporary or women’s fiction works may skip scenes. Either way, notice that both scenes and sequel end with disaster or action, driving your story on to its climax and conclusion. 

What about you? Have you used scenes and sequels in your writing?
~ Angie

Monday, March 19, 2012

Asking Yourself "What if?" by Marianne Evans

If you've ever wondered the backstory of the people you see outside your writing cave,  you're not alone. If you've made up a history and written it down, you're definitely a writer. In her usual warm and friendly style, guest Marianne Evans shares the key question for sparking inspiration. Enjoy! ~ Annette

Asking Yourself —“What if?”
by Marianne Evans

I believe one of the most frequent questions an author is asked is the following: Where do you come up with your ideas? How does the story come to life?

Almost invariably, I answer by saying: I ask myself the question ‘What if?’

Here’s an example. I was on vacation on Mackinac Island, in the midst of a plotting dry spell that had me frustrated and sad—feeling like inspiration had vanished. While biking the trails of this gorgeous, north Michigan locale, my husband and I came upon a beautiful, lakeside gazebo where a wedding was taking place.

The bride and groom stood facing one another beneath a cloudless sky, with boats drifting past, waves lapping the shore not far away…and a soft gust of wind lifted the bride’s veil, and pulled it free of her hair. The bride shook her hair free, and the groom reached up and stroked her cheek; the moment was a tender, loving exchange as one of the bride’s attendants, fortunately, reached up to catch the veil…

I began to wonder. What led that couple to this moment in time? Where did they come from? How did their story begin? Along came my "What if" moment. What if this extravagant moment began with the humble beginnings of a "down-and-out" woman, trying to care for her daughter, and her boss, a benefactor not too unlike the story of Ruth and Boaz….?

I had always longed to create a Christian inspirational series, but became stymied in the face of what the series should be about. Until, at church one Sunday, I asked myself, again, "What if?" As I watched people come forward for communion, I began to envision parishioners at a fictional congregation. What were their struggles, their victories—what love story framed their lives, and faith walks?

Now I’m at work on a new series, Sal’s Place, triggered by, yes the ‘What if’ of wondering what would happen if I mixed a historical, fabulous diner in downtown Detroit with the lives and loves of the people who cross its threshold.

What if. The next time you’re stumped when it comes to plotlines, take a look at the world around you through that camera lens, and you just might take yourself by surprise. It’s amazing, and unexpected, what trips the wires of the imagination…and the inspirations of a writer.

From This Day Forward
Christian Music agent Kellen Rossiter has everything he ever wanted: A-list clients from coast to coast, a loving wife who honors and respects him, and a faith life that’s never wavered—until now.

Juliet Rossiter has the perfect life: a rewarding schedule serving the underprivileged, a husband who loves her as Christ loved the church, and a blessed future as a mother—at least that's what she thinks.

For Better or Worse
But what happens when their rock-solid marriage begins to crumble under the weight of an unexpected and powerful temptation? How does love survive when its foundation is shaken?

'Til Death Do Us Part
When human frailty and the allure of sin deal a harsh blow to their relationship, it will take more than love to mend the shattered trust and heartbreak. It will take a lifetime of devotion.

Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories she creates. Her acclaimed novella, Hearts Crossing led to the creation of the four-book Woodland Series. Next, Evans tackles the topic of a loving marriage in turmoil in her Christian fiction debut, Devotion coming in November, 2012 from Harbourlight Books. Also in 2012, Evans kicks off her second Christian romance series with White Rose Publishing. Search & Rescue will be book one of the Sales Place series, which revolves around the folks who frequent a cozy and historic riverfront diner in downtown Detroit. A lifelong resident of Michigan, Evans is very active in a number of RWA chapters as well as ACFW and the Michigan Literary Network.

Connect with Marianne at:
Facebook Reader Page:!/pages/Marianne-Evans/308711716744
Twitter Handle: @marmo212

Friday, March 16, 2012

Writer, Who Are You? by Naomi Musch

Writers may struggle with figuring out their brand—how they’ll be described, distinguished, and labeled. We’re told that it’s important to decide on a brand at some point in our career because of marketing. But, I think it also helps give us direction in our writing. Today, author Naomi Musch shares how she discovered her brand during her journey to publication. ~ Dawn

Writer, Who Are You?
by Naomi Musch

Once upon a time, I was Cinderella, at least in the sense that I remember spending a lot of time by the fireplace as a child, imagining wonderful things for the future. With my legs curled beneath me, and a notebook resting on the hearth, I worked, writing my first stories. Great romantic tragedies they were, as an eleven-year-old might imagine romance and tragedy.

One day, bent in this posture before the fireplace while my parents entertained guests, a young man approached me. I'd guess him to be in his twenties. He asked me what I was working on and I told him.

"I wrote a book," he said.

My eyes bugged out, I'm pretty certain, a combination of awe and disbelief that this unstructured looking fellow in bell bottom jeans and mussed hair could have written a book. But he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a journal. Fanning it before me, I admired the ink-laden pages.

Of course I kept a diary. It said "diary" on the front and had a lock. But this was different. This was a plain black book that didn't have fancy padding and curly-cue words on the front. Even though it was a simple journal, it looked more like a real book. Mostly, it awed me that it was so full of words, and that he kept it on his person. I'd never seen anyone's journal before. My little golden diary was it.

He told me to keep writing. It was a momentary thing. He smiled and returned to the pool game in the basement. But I have never forgotten that man who appeared like a fairy godfather or the impact those moments had on me. I knew that one day I would produce pages full of words, of stories. I fully intended to follow my dream, to chase my ambition.

The night Cinderella found herself at the ball, I doubt she imagined how much longer the wait would be before her moment of joy became a lifetime of happiness married to the prince. She returned home once again to work beside the hearth. I, too, had to work. I had to grow up, wait, suffer rejections, study the craft, learn to leap through the hoops of submission. Part of that time I've had to define who I am as a writer.

These days we are told we must have a platform. We are told we must have a brand. So even after the long pursuit of my dream, I've still had to question who I am as a writer. What is my mission? How am I perceived? What's my voice?

I don't just write in one genre. My passion is historical fiction, but I enjoy penning contemporary too. I also write articles to encourage parents and homeschooling families. Finally, I work for a Christian newspaper in which I tell the testimonies of other everyday believers in whom God has done a work. 

This became my quandary. What exactly is my brand? So I gathered up the bits and pieces and looked at the big picture.

I tell Cinderella stories. In other words, I tell the stories of changed lives. Whether in fiction or through true-life testimony, I tell about people whose lives are impacted by Christ. The packages these stories come in show that I'm a woods-loving gal and home school advocate with a tough, outdoorsy family and pioneer bent, writing gritty, historical (and sometimes contemporary)  romance.

Understanding who I am hasn't brought a writing fairy godfather or godmother back into my life. Bu it has directed my writing. It's helped me discover my platform as well.

Have you looked at your big picture—the story of your writing that helps you discover your brand or directs you toward your platform? Writer, who are you?

The Red Fury is book two in Naomi's historical romance series Empire in Pine from Desert Breeze Publishing. Her aim is to surprise and entertain readers while telling stories about imperfect people finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles.

Naomi invites you to visit her and investigate her series and other works at:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Biblical Fiction Fact or Fancy? by Mesu Andrews

I've been thinking about genres lately. One genre that I really enjoy is Biblical fiction. But how can we, as writers, write fictional tales based on a factual -- and holy -- book? Today Mesu Andrews tackles the tough questions. ~ Angie

Biblical Fiction. The term itself seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? The Bible is truth! Not fiction. Every biblical fiction author I’ve met would whole-heartedly agree. We write about the absolute Truth of God’s Word, adding the context of culture, history, and supporting characters to create a story that will imprint the message of Scripture on readers’ hearts.

So how much biblical fact qualifies as biblical fiction, and how can we ensure fiction never overshadows biblical facts?

Our first step is to recognize the wide spectrum of storytelling style in this genre. In Jill Eileen Smith’s first series, Wives of King David, she wrote the familiar biblical stories of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba in bold strokes of fabulous detail. These women’s lives were well-documented in Scripture, and Jill brought the setting and culture alive with her research.

On the other hand, Davis Bunn and Janette Oke wrote a series, Acts of Faith, in which most of the characters were fictional, but they placed them in the early days after Jesus’ resurrection. Using real biblical characters as minor players and scriptural events as secondary to the plot, these proven masters of the craft wrote a series of biblical fiction that tugged at New Testament lovers’ heartstrings.

Both strategies would be deemed biblical fiction. The reader must determine which style of storytelling he/she desires. Which leads us to the crux of the issue:

Why write biblical fiction when the stories are already written in the Bible?

The Bible is the most exciting Book ever written! Each story is full of emotion and tension. Each character experiences crisis at a gut-wrenching level and makes life-altering choices.
But 99% of us don’t feel that excitement when we read the Bible, do we?

Why? Because most of us don’t understand the context in which the words were written. 
We don’t know the author or the audience, the occasion of the writing, or the standing of nations at that time. We’re thinking of our grocery list, a soccer game, the lost car keys.

The real value of biblical fiction is to place readers in the setting of the characters. Smell their smells, taste their tastes, hear their sounds. When we realize biblical characters didn’t live in a bubble, but they were surrounded by real people like us, it helps us identify with them more readily and allows God’s Word to sink more deeply into our hearts. Bible characters were surrounded by hundreds of people not recorded in Scripture, lived hundreds of days not chronicled, and imagined a gazillion dreams never expressed. But that imagination has purpose.

Good biblical fiction should always rouse the reader's curiosity and drive them back to God's Word for answers. A novel is never a substitute for Scripture. It's a bridge to transport the reader into the cultural setting in order to learn from the stories in God’s Word. 

I believe all inspirational fiction differs from the general market because it seeks to do more than entertain. Christian fiction seeks to inspire. As a biblical fiction author, I hope to entertain, inspire, and educate. My husband uses this fabulous word with his classes, and I’m stealing the term. I hope biblical fiction provides…Edu-tainment!

What are your thoughts on biblical fiction? What elements make up good biblical fiction? What authors do you enjoy most?

Mesu Andrews is an author and speaker who has devoted herself to passionate study of Scripture. Harnessing her deep love for God’s Word, Andrews brings the biblical world alive for her audiences. Mesu and her husband, Roy, have two grown children and (Praise God!) a growing number of grandkids. They live in Washington, where Roy teaches at Multnomah University. They have a Rottweiler-pitbull named Bouzer who keeps Mesu company while she writes. She's published two books, Love Amid the Ashes and Love's Sacred Song. Two more are scheduled for release with Revell in March of 2013 and 2014. 

Love's Sacred Song was released March 1, 2012. For young King Solomon wisdom came as God’s gift, but sacred love was forged through passion’s fire.

Check out  the Love's Sacred Song book trailer at

Connect with Mesu on her website or Facebook.