Thursday, December 31, 2015

In This Together by Gail Kittleson

Gail Kittleson
Around New Year’s, we often consider our purpose. Samuel Clemens tried his hand at typesetting, riverboat piloting, soldiering, and silver mining before having his first story published. I wonder how the writer we know as Mark Twain would specify his purpose—to entertain ... to teach a moral ... to change the world? His iconic characters, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Jim, did all three.
Considering the body of his work, I’d vote for the latter. Twain observed the ills and evils of his tumultuous times, and through gradual alteration, contributed to altering them. Ernest Hemingway said that “all modern American literature” arose from Huck Finn, published in January, 1885 and called the great American novel.
Decades later, To Kill A Mockingbird revealed the depth of bigotry still active in the South, once again through a child’s eyes. In the same way, The Book Thief and Five Quarters of an Orange strip bare the vagaries of war.
Does this childhood perspective subtly open readers to the truth? I don’t know, but those last two books held me spellbound, as did To Kill A Mockingbird.
I have yet to adapt this principle in a novel, but the children I include make a lot of difference to the main character. Dottie, the heroine of In This Together, loves children—long after her own left home, she volunteers with the wee tots at her church. Never one to mind cleaning up messes, she works the remnants of chocolate cake from an adorable little guy’s pocket before his mom comes to pick him up.
Down on her hands and knees after everyone else leaves, scrubbing up bits of chocolate from cold cement and crackly old 1946 linoleum, Dottie longs to meet her two sweet grandbabies, far away in California, and mourns her only son Bill, who died in the North Africa campaign.
Dottie, who rarely allows her emotions to surface, gives in to an avalanche of grief after her time with these children. But down on the freezing floor, she still looks up. And so does Al, the lonely widower next door who watches her walk to work each morning and trudge home at night. He secretly hopes someday she’ll give him a second glance.
It took Samuel Clemons a while to realize his gift of story. Now that I’m focusing on story too, am I out to entertain, teach, or change the world with my first novel? How do I expect this post-World War II tale to affect readers? For starters, I’d like them to see Dottie Kyle as a friend and cheer her on as she faces down some stubborn, entrenched fears. We all must do that, and to think Dottie might encourage somebody on their journey makes my day.

After losing her only son to World War II and her husband soon after, Dottie Kyle takes a job at a local boarding house. Her daughter Cora moved to California straight out of high school to work for the war effort, married a sailor and settled down in the Golden State—another loss.
 Dottie contributes to her rural Iowa post-war world by cooking and cleaning, volunteering at her church, and tending her garden. But when troubles arise in Cora’s third pregnancy, Dottie longs to help Cora and meet those two grandbabies out in California. However, old fears prohibit her from making that arduous, cross-country train journey.
            At the boarding house, complications arise that force Dottie to speak up for what’s right, and as her confidence grows, so does the unexpected interest of the widower next door. Nary a reason to blush here, but plenty of opportunity to cheer Dottie on to victory!

Purchase links:

Heroines that Dare to Bloom parallels Gail’s long journey to blooming as a writer. She and her husband enjoy gardening and grandchildren in Northern Iowa, and she facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats.

WhiteFire Publishing released her memoir, Catching Up With Daylight in 2013, and her debut women’s historical fiction, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Imprint) released in November. She also contributed to the Little Cab Press 2015 Christmas Anthology

Please feel free to contact Gail—meeting new reading friends is the meringue on her pie, as Dottie would say!

Contact Links:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year, New List by Sandra Ardoin

Have you ever walked into your office, sat down, placed your hands on the keyboard, and stared at the blank screen wondering what to do first?

One of the stories my husband loves to tell is about the time I sent our toddler to her room at the end of the day to put her toys away. When he checked on her a few minutes later, he found her standing in the middle of the mess staring at it. She was overwhelmed and had no idea where to start. Daddy to the rescue. (Okay, so I didn’t get the Parent of the Year award.)

Writers are responsible for much more than “bleeding” on the page. At times, we can feel like my daughter—overwhelmed by all the tasks in front of us—both business and personal. The list seems endless, which brings us to the point of this post—lists.

I love lists. They’re my lifeline to sanity.

There are days when things spin so fast in my mind the focus disappears and I forget half of what needs to be done. Here are a few simple reasons why that to-do list is a must for writers or anyone else juggling their way through life. 

They ...

  • Keep important jobs from slipping through the cracks. How many times have you ended your day on a groan because you forgot to do something important? Maybe it was a phone call to make or an email to send—a little, but significant task. Writing it down means it won’t be forgotten. (Put off, maybe, but not forgotten.)
  • Relieve stress. When I know there are things I need to do, but also know I’m forgetting something, my blood pressure rises. 
  • Battle procrastination. A written need nags at us louder than an unwritten one.
  • Allow for organization. Once the list is written, prioritize what needs to be done. Sometimes, I’ll number each item in the order I want to work on them. 
  • Create a sense of accomplishment. Be realistic. Not everything can be finished in one day, so it might remain on your list for some time. But for those that can be finished, find a red pen. Each time a task is completed, mark through it, then take a deep breath and smile. It’s good for your health. (If you really want to celebrate, take a bite of dark chocolate—one bite per item accomplished.)
  • Help with word count goals. Writers generally keep a daily word count goal. Write down that goal at the beginning of the day. Seeing a realistic number in print can make it more attainable.

Paper notepads are my friends. Trees? Let’s just say they cower in fear.

Besides notepads, I’ll write my list on a white board. Maybe you have a high-tech way to keep organized. Use whatever works for you. The important thing is to see what you’re dealing with at the beginning of the day and see how far you’ve come at the end of it. 

Happy New Year!

Are you a list maker? How do you go about it?


Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody

A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. 

Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The One-Sentence Plot by Molly Noble Bull

Molly Noble Bull

Or: How to Write the Plot of an Entire Novel in One Sentence

My name is Molly Noble Bull, the One-Sentence Plot lady. And what is a one-sentence plot? The entire plot of a book in one sentence, and you can’t write one without including a major conflict. So what is a major conflict?

Stay tuned.

For now, let us focus on the elements of Part One of the One-Sentence Plot—elements that all plots in one sentence must have.

Part One

  • The first part of a One-Sentence Plot names the main/viewpoint character.
  • It introduces the opposing character.
  • It tells the viewpoint character’s goal,
  • And it ends with the word because.
The word because forces the author to develop a major conflict so strong it seems impossible to resolve.

Part Two

  • The major conflict makes up the second part the One-Sentence Plot, and it is written right after the word because, explaining why the major conflict cannot be resolved.

The Romance Novel

Part One

Model and movie star, Jane Greer, thinks she’s found a way to escape the glitter of Hollywood when she trades places with her twin sister for six months, meets her sister’s boss, Jake Stillman, and becomes his secretary, but their mutual attraction can never end happily because—

Part Two

The second half of this plot begins after the word “because” and explains why the main character cannot reach his or her goal. Below is the second half of the plot in one sentence.


Jane is not the person she pretends to be and must soon return to her old life.

Note: I used the plot above when writing my Love Inspired romance titled Brides and Blessings, and it is still available at Amazon right now as a Kindle e-book.

The Short Story

Hungry and abandoned by their parents in a dark forest, Hansel and Gretel meet a kind old woman who promises them food and shelter, but their dream of a home and safety are soon dashed because
the old woman is anything but kind and wants to cook them in her oven and eat them for supper.

The Mainstream Novel

When Allison Foster takes a two week vacation to Paris and meets Tyler Barnhart again after many years, she thinks she has found true love at last, but their romance can only be temporary because
Tyler is studying to be a Catholic priest and will soon take a vow never to marry.

The Western

After making a down payment, Jake Morrison takes out a loan to buy land on a creek in West Texas and asks Mandy Ware to be his wife, but his dream of land and a happy future with Mandy disappears shortly before the wedding because banker and neighboring rancher, Roger Stokes, is also in love with Mandy and demands that Jake pay off his bank loan immediately or lose the land and his down payment.

The Mystery

Private investigator, Tom Grant, volunteers to help Marta Mentes discover why her father disappeared, but when Marta vanishes and her uncle turns up dead, Tom wonders if he has been deceived because Marta and her father are the only heirs to a fortune her grandfather left in a secret Swiss bank account.

The examples above will teach you to how to write a plot in one sentence. But in order to please an editor and sell a book, you must also include a:

Part Three 

The conclusion to your One-Sentence Plot.

All but the Mainstream Novel must end happily. Mainstream novels don’t have to end happily but only logically. An example would be the priest-in training who decides that he must take that final vow and become a priest regardless of his love for Allison. However if he decides to give up the priesthood and marry Allison instead, it would then become a romance novel.

See what I mean?

Not only will writing the plot in one sentence attract the attention of an editor, it will also help keep the story focused and moving forward. Remember, the plot in one sentence is the backbone of your story, and a plot isn’t a plot without a major conflict.
About the Author

Molly Noble Bull

CBA author Molly Noble Bull has sold novels to Zondervan and Love Inspired and Tsaba House. More recently, Sanctuary, one of Molly’s long historical novels, won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award in the inspirational category and also tied for first place in a second national contest for published authors that year. About three weeks ago, Sanctuary was reprinted under a new title, The Secret Place; so if you read Sanctuary, you have already read The Secret Place.

Gatehaven, Molly’s scary Christian Gothic historical, won the 2013 Creation House Fiction Writing Contest as a manuscript and was published in paperback and as an e-book in 2014.

Elk Lake Publishing published When the Cowboy Rides Away in September 2015, a historical western set in the ranch country of South Texas where Molly lives today.

When the Cowboy Rides Away
by Molly Noble Bull
Jeanette Pierce, a retired English teacher, wrote study guides for Gatehaven and When the Cowboy Rides Away for home school families and others, and all the study guides are based on Molly’s novels To see all her books, go to Molly’s page at Amazon.

When the Cowboy Rides Away

Maggie Galagher, twenty-one, runs the Gallagher Ranch in South Texas and has raised her little sister and orphaned nephew since her parents and older sister died. No wonder she can’t find time for romance.

When the Cowboy Rides Away by Molly Noble Bull opens two years after Maggie loses her family members. Out for a ride with her sister, she discovers Alex Lancaster, a handsome cowboy, shot and seriously wounded on her land. Kind-hearted and a Christian, Maggie nurses him back to health despite all her other chores. How could she know that Alex had a secret that could break her heart?/span>

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reflection is a Beautiful Thing

Reflection is a Beautiful Thing

By Mary Manners
"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."
~ Psalms 118:24 ~
Today is a new day...the first day of my Christmas vacation and a time to breathe and reflect. The house is quiet; my daughter is at college and my husband is working. So I sit here with my laptop, a steaming cup of hazelnut coffee, Christmas music softly playing in the background, and my jumbled thoughts. Ah, peace...what a beautiful thing.
As my thoughts begin to slowly untangle and become coherent, I realize what a blessing it is to have the time to reflect. This year has been a gathering of long, stressful work days punctuated by treks to a faraway rehabilitation center to visit my mom, who's recovering from multiple foot surgeries. In between nestled juggled trips to the grocery store, loads and loads of laundry (how do two people create so much laundry), hurried visits with friends, a few college football games and long walks with my husband, and...writing.
Thank God for the gift of writing, for this simple act has kept me sane in impossibly busy times. As I reflect on the everyday stresses of life I realize that one activity has remained constant through the years...penning stories. I often joke to co-workers as well as my husband that I am traveling off to my writing bubble where the world is sane, there's an abundance of time to pursue every dream, justice always triumphs, and love prevails.
So, as the year comes to a close and I consider where I've been as well as where I'm heading in life, I realize that I need more of my writing bubble and less of the stress. That said, as I head into the New Year my strength is renewed by the realization that the laundry can wait and surely my husband and I can survive on dinners consisting of simple sandwiches accompanied by warm bowls of soup. Mom will soon be nestled back in her close-by apartment and the weather will warm, inviting more long walks with my husband, less football, and more hours of sanity in my writing bubble.
I'm feeling better already...reflection is a beautiful thing.
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus. She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.
Mary believes everyone has a story to tell, and she loves to share hers. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.
Learn more about Mary Manners at her website:
Lani O'Dwyer offered her heart to Ryan Connolly years ago, and he tossed it aside without so much as a backward glance. Though the town of Boulder Creek dubs him a hero, she vows she'll never again fall victim to his charms.
Ryan Connolly captains a raucous crew of firefighters at the Boulder Creek Fire Department, yet he's unprepared for the adventure of falling in love with beautiful and headstrong Lani O'Dwyer.
But when a meddling angel at the annual Fighters for Hire charity auction brings Ryan and Lani together, even regrets from the past can't thwart Ryan's plans to make Lani his own.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Nativity scene*

Merry Christmas, dear writers! Your hostesses here at Seriously Write are taking the week off to spend these special days with our families and friends. Next Monday, we'll resume daily posts from fellow writers offering encouragement, insight, advice, and wisdom. In the meantime, here’s wishing you joy and inspiration this Christmas season and into the new year!

Have a wonderful Christmas! 

* photocredit: "nativity scene" by "dan"

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Success Story by T.K. Chapin

T.K. Chapin
Are you struggling with finding the right fit for you in the writing world? Take encouragement by author T.K. Chapin’s experiences when he started on the journey to publication and how he discovered success. ~ Dawn

My Success Story

My success wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for my failures.

Since I first began writing in 2013 and probably up until May of 2015, I spent a lot of time failing. I knew I’d fail when I began, but I also knew failure was required on the path towards success. I’ve always viewed it like treasuring hunting with a metal detector. Sometimes you find something worthless like a rusty old nail other times it’s a worthwhile gem, but every time you have to get through the dirt to find anything.

My journey started with a self-help book for Christian positive thinking. I spent months fine-tuning and editing only to release it and fail miserably. This first encounter of failure was important. It forced me to decide to keep going or move onto a new adventure. I chose to continue on the path of publishing and released a bunch more small books over the course of several months. Some did okay, others horrible, but each one encouraged me to keep going in its own way.

I didn’t start writing fiction until the fall of 2014. Up until that point, I didn’t think writing fiction was an option for me. Ignoring the strong advice of many authors out there, I decided to try out fiction. Chronicles of Kilix was the first one I wrote. It was a young adult sci-fi trilogy. It was an enjoyable experience, but unfortunately they didn’t see much success. My writing was poor and my marketing skills were also. Love Again was the first successful book I had released. It was a Christian Christmas romance and did well enough to help me leave my full time job in January 2015.

Fast forward to May 2015. More mild successes and a majority of failures, I decided to narrow down to Christian Romance. The decision was made after I re-analyzed my fiction titles and saw the success was coming primarily through Christian romances. I was also encouraged to narrow my genre down by the brilliant Dave Chesson of Once the revamp was done and T.K. Chapin was only Christian romance, that’s when things started heating up. By August of 2015 I was able to land my first BookBub.

I can’t help but laugh a little looking back over the history of writing. I have been a born-again Christian all my life and writing stories that inspire people to set their eyes on God seems like where I should have started out at instead of ended up doing. God wasn’t the reason I started writing books, but He sure is the reason I do now. The books I write illustrate how God can change lives when He is allowed to work in them. It’s by far the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done in my life. Any measurable success I’ve had on this journey is by God’s decision to allow it. Without a formal education or any background in writing, I have no right to be doing this. God’s in control and is blessing my daily in all avenues in my life. He knew when I started where I was going to end up. He knew when I was stuck in the 9-5 job that I’d someday leave the normal job world behind and write stories that lift Him up. He always knew and He always knows. I look forward to what else God has in store for me.

Firefighter Cole Taylor has fought hundreds of fires in his lifetime, but he had never tasted fear until he came to fighting a fire in his own home. Amongst The Flames is a Christian firefighter romance that tackles real-life situations and problems that exist in Christian marriages today. It brings with it passion, love and spiritual depth that will leave you feeling inspired.

T.K. CHAPIN writes Contemporary Christian Romance books designed to inspire and tug on your heart strings. He believes that telling Contemporary Christian Romance stories of faith, love and family help build the faith of Christians and help non-believers see how God can work in the life of believers. He gives all credit for his writing and storytelling ability to God. The majority of the Contemporary Christian Romance novels take place in and around Spokane Washington, his hometown. Chapin makes his home in the beautiful state of Idaho and has the pleasure of raising his step-daughter Emma and two nephews Isaac and Landon with his beautiful wife Crystal. To find out more about T.K. Chapin or his books, visit his website at

Connect with T.K. at these sites:


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Relating To George McFly

Heidi Chiavaroli

Do you remember George McFly from Back to the Future? If you do, you are probably familiar with the scene in George's high school lunchroom. George is scribbling furiously in a notebook when Marty, George's son from the future, comes over and asks his father what he's writing.

“Uh, stories. Science fiction stories… about visitors coming down to Earth from other planets,” George says.

“Get out of town… I didn’t know you did anything creative,” Marty says, clearly impressed. “Here, let me read some.” He reaches for the notebook, but George pulls it away.

“Oh, no, no, no. I never let anyone read my stories.”

“Why not?”

“Well, what if they didn’t like them? What if they told me I was no good? I guess that would be pretty hard for somebody to understand.”

I think anyone who is a writer understands you, George McFly.

Whether we’re just penning that first story or on our tenth novel, there is always risk in putting ourselves out there. Our words, our thoughts, our stories. Someone is bound not to like them.

And that ugly word ‘rejection’ comes nagging at our pride.

I’m learning there are many layers to this writing journey. I’ve won and finaled in contests, I’ve acquired an awesome agent, but even so, I know as my story is submitted, rejection will come. This is a subjective industry. Not everyone will love what I have to say—or how I say it. Yet I must face facts—rejection is part of a writer's journey, and it's nearly inevitable.

Standing at this threshold, I can't imagine not continuing. So I'm going to continue this crazy race. And you know what? I'm excited to learn what journey God has in store for me. I'm excited to see what He's going to teach me next. Maybe He'll surprise me. Maybe He'll teach me things that don't even have to do directly with writing. Maybe He'll teach me more about myself, about others, and about His grace. Not a bad deal, right? And if I happen to get my book published along the way…well, I’d definitely take that too. ;)

As for George McFly, I can't say my future has a hardcover in it as his eventually did, but for right now, it's nice to know someone else understands, even if he is only a fictional character himself.

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, wife, mother, and grace-clinger—not necessarily in that order. Ever since taking her first trip to Plimoth Plantation with her sister, mother, and grandmother at the age of nine, she has been fascinated with history and its significance to today’s people and culture. Heidi is the winner of ACFW’s 2014 Genesis Contest, Historical Category. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Learn more about Heidi on her website:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sparking Story Ideas by Amber Schamel

Normally, writers have more stories in their minds than time to write them, but on the occasion that the opposite is true, author Amber Schamel provides some tips to send that spark of an idea flaming into a full-fledged story. -- Sandy

Amber: Gotta admit, we writers are kinda strange birds. We talk to people that exist only in our heads. We stare off into the distance for long periods of time. We hide out like hermits, and pound away on keyboards. We study ways to escape a prison camp, sicknesses and the most tragic way to die.

But I think one of the hardest things for folks to understand about me as a writer is the way inspiration, creativity and stories bombard my mind. Of course, there are other authors who can craft a wonderful story, and carry it through to the end but have a difficult time sparking ideas. For those of you that fall into this category, I thought I would share some of the places (and things) where I find inspiration in hopes that it will help.

The other day I was driving down a back country road in the Ozarks when I passed a mailbox with the last name of Brittain. In this mailbox I found a story. I saw a boy by the name of Thomas Brittain who had moved from London to rural Missouri with his family.  His parents are proud of their British roots, but Thomas just wants to be like the other southern kids at school. At home, he is Thomas the Brit forced to be proper and drink his hot tea. But at school, he's just Tom, a boy who tries to mold his English accent into a southern one, drink sweet iced tea and runs into all kind of mischief trying to be someone he's not.

All that out of driving past a mailbox...I told you writers are weird. lol.

Okay, Amber, that's a nice story. But how is that supposed to help me?

What I'm trying to say is don't be discouraged. Story ideas are everywhere, it's just a matter of seeing them. Sometimes it's easy to think that the story idea just isn't there...but it is! Here are some tips for finding inspiration and story ideas.

1) Look for them. In everything.
Get into a habit of looking for stories everywhere. You can't find something you're not looking for. Look under your bed. Look in your best friend's eyes. Look at the people at the park. Pay attention to your surroundings and look at them through your writer's glasses. News and history books are also a great place to look.

2) Keep it simple.
You don't have to know their dark moment, character arc and greatest fear from the start. A story idea is incredibly simple. Think GMC: Goal, motivation and conflict. You need somebody who wants something but can't have it because...WHAM there's your story idea.

3) Decide what you're looking for.
 What type of story do you want to write? Historical? Mystery? Romance? A story about a young girl? Or a story about an old man? If you narrow down what type of story you're looking for, it will make finding it much easier. Can you imagine finding Waldo if you didn't know what Waldo looked like?

4) Exercise your creativity muscles.
Google story games and play them. It's fun and helps exercise your story-conceiving muscles. Here's a game we enjoy.  We'll pick a minor character from a book or movie and think...if we wanted to make a story about this person, what would it be? Practice brings lots of creative ideas!

Which writer are you? Are you bombarded with story ideas? Or do you struggle for an idea? What are tips  you use for  inspiration?


Multi-published author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and is now the author of over half a dozen books. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites.  Amber is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Historical Novel Society.