Thursday, April 30, 2015

Titles—Agony or Epiphany? by Gail Kittleson

Gail Kittleson
I hear titles in ordinary conversation every day. My memoir title came in a flash, on an evening flight from Des Moines to Colorado.

“We’re catching up with daylight,” another passenger exclaimed, and I thought, “That’s the story of my life.” 

But other titles don’t appear so easily, so I did a little research about this all-important banner on every book’s cover.

Ane Mulligan: I type whatever comes to mind, no matter how bad. One idea sparks another, and another, until you finally find what works. :)

Ruth Logan Herne: the story’s emotion inspires the title. "Red Kettle Christmas" was perfect for an industrious Salvation Army bell ringer and a WWII vet/NYPD cop.
"Try, Try Again" is a marriage reunion story.  And "Safely Home" for a Minneapolis cop who thought she'd never go home again, yet, here she is, fresh out of an abusive relationship.

Alison Stegert wrote a YA ghost story about a high school photography field trip to a historic cemetery. Weird things happen to some teens when they develop their matter what they do, they can't get rid of a certain ominous photo.
“One day I drove out of shade into blazing sun and needed my sunglasses. Photophobia popped into my head. I had my title!”

Dina Sleiman’s YA series Valiant Hearts—tough heroines in traditionally male roles—captures the heroine’s cover expression and indomitable spirit: Dauntless,reduced from Dauntless Love. Dina’s advice—“Don’t get too attached to your working titles.”

Lee Carver: Make your title brief, powerful and reflecting the genre. An agent once insisted on "Love" or "Romance,”, even though my books many friends wanted "Hijack" in the title, but that was a 3-chapter subplot, so we agreed on Love Takes Flight. It's so much more than a romance novel, and I feel it turns off male readers.
         My WWII novel, A Secret Life, involves hidden identity, romance, battlefield scenes, and Jewish persecution. The title fits on so many levels as the protagonist has dual citizenship and conceals his American background and U.S. sympathies.”

Sara Goff’s friend came up with her debut novel’s title, I Always Cry At Weddings—right to the key emotion.

Rachelle Rea: On my way to college my sophomore year, I heard this sparkly, cymbal-y sound at a song’s beginning. I remember thinking, The Sound of Diamonds, and spent the summer writing and figuring out what that title meant.”

I often try three or four working titles before finding the ONE. My first World War II novel started as A Time For Flowers, since my beleaguered heroine found joy in her garden.
But my final pick, In Times Like These, an old hymn title, fits the overall plot and story emotion far better. Still, I had fun creating a one-sheet with Addie and her victory garden vegetable basket!

Thanks, authors, and I hope you’ll share your favorite titles, or helpful title-creation ideas.


Catching Up With Daylight invites readers on a journey into contemporary and historical women's lives, interweaving the author's own story, biblical insights and encouragement from the ancient mystics. Kittleson shares a simple Benedictine meditation process called Lectio Divina that revolutionized her prayer life. Why shouldn't Protestants use this tried-and-true method, too? This memoir is set in small-town Iowa after her husband's second deployment and during the renovation of a really old house. Readers may ponder its everyday anecdotes sequentially or use them as "bathroom reading" to cheer the mundane hours of an ordinary day.
Purchase Link

About Gail: Sometimes we learn what we've done only after we do it. I wrote my memoir Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term "spirituality writing" only after the book was published. Figuring things out after the fact is a life theme for me, but even though it isn't the easy road, I learn a lot in the process. My very patient husband (37 years) and I live in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where a small creative writing class meets in my home, and we enjoy our grandchildren. I facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. My first fiction release with Vintage Rose, titled In This Together, will be released sometime in 2015. 

Connect with Gail at and

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Social Media Tools to Help Manage Your Online Life, Part Two by Nicole Miller

Last week, author and social marketing specialist Nicole Miller provided tools to help us organize our social media posts. You'll find Part One here. Today, she continues her recommendations to help make our marketing lives easier with tools for creating images. -- Sandy

Image Creation Tools

Pablo - ( 
Images get much more attention than plain ol' text posts. There are now dozens of powerful image creation tools to assist with creating attention-grabbing pictures (and also while being mindful of copyright.) 

Pablo was created by Buffer and is free to use — you can enter in whatever text you’d like and download or share the image instantly. All the images are copyright free and stunning. Definitely check this one out! 

How I use this tool:
With how quickly you can create a stunning image in Pablo, I used this while I was live-tweeting at a writer’s conference and included quotes from the speaker. The Pablo images got dozens more interactions than the text-only posts. This is a great way to spice up your blog posts, highlight cool passages from your novel or promote events with!

Canva - (
Canva is user-friendly and has an array of helpful templates that will turn any non-designer into a pro in seconds. Social media networks all have different sizes where images “fit” a bit better into the social streams. Canva has these all measured out and offers incredibly designed ideas for you to use. 

Most of the elements in Canva are free, but some images are $1 a piece, but you’re able to use them worry-free in knowing that you have the copyright a-okay. :) 

How I use this tool:
For more complex images, I turn to Canva. There are so many options and you can even collaborate with people on an item. 

Other tools to mention if you want to explore more! 

PicMonkey (

Bonus: Copyright-free images resource here! (

There are so many more amazing tools I use on a daily basis that I haven’t touched on (Evernote, IFTTT, etc.), and new tools pop up every day! It’s a truly wonderful time do be doing what we do. We’re all connected to potential readers just a click away and there are many more resources for all of these awesome tools. 

If you do happen to get stuck, turn to Google for help! (Or, another idea: Ask your audience and friends what they use!) Test tools out for a week or two and if you’re finding it doesn’t jive with your workflow, give something else a go. 

The best tools suit your needs and your personality best. What works best for me might not be the best for you, but that’s the beauty of having so many options online. 

Do you use images in your posts? Do you ever create memes?


Nicole M Miller is a team member at Buffer, a social media management tool with 2 million users, and a historical fiction writer. A journalism major from Western Washington University, she has worked as an event coordinator, designer, marketer and everything in between. She blogs about her urban homesteading adventures with two dogs, two horses, 17 chickens and four ducks at

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rock Star or Seed Sower? by Camille Eide

Camille Eide
Have you ever reached a point in your writing journey where you wondered if what you were doing even mattered?

Are you there now?

I’ve attended too many funerals recently. Although none were famous Rock Stars, I found out each person was uniquely gifted at something. One quiet little saint was remembered for her unconditional love. She had unique ability to forgive and forget flaws and to see and encourage the best in people. She didn’t have a record label. She never hit the NYT Bestseller list. But she performed like a Rock Star at encouraging people. She used her gift so faithfully and so well that it left a lasting imprint on countless lives.

Maybe you’d never make it on American Idol, but you have a knack for baking and are a meticulous housekeeper. That’s a God gift! A struggling neighbor might be forever changed through your kind act of cleaning their house and leaving a warm loaf of bread. You never know when the simple act of doing what you’re good at plants a seed.

Perhaps you’re a writer who wonders if you’ll ever be published. Perhaps writing friends who began with you are passing you by and sometimes . . . you wonder why you’re still trying.

Let me ask you this: Do you have a way with words? A knack for communicating through story or writing style? If you do, it’s a God-gift. Keep at it! Look for daily opportunities to use it. Send an encouraging letter. Tweet a beautiful truth. Write someone a poem. Like tiny seeds, the words we plant have potential that we may not see.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:6,8

Sow the seeds God entrusted to you. Let Him worry about the outcome. You may become a household name, or you may not. Does it matter? God gave you a gift, but your name wasn’t on the tag—His was. What matters more than a contract or accolades is that faithful thing you do with your gift, day after day. If the only thing you can do well is bake a lovely loaf of bread, then bake bread like a Rock Star and share it with the hungry every chance you get.

If you’ve been given the gift of words, then the writing or plotting or researching or blogging or whatever wordy thing you are doing today MATTERS.

Even if your friends are bypassing you with contracts and awards.

Even if no one is raving about your work.

Even if your Amazon ranking can’t see the light of day.

Because even if no one else is applauding, what you do faithfully with the gift God has entrusted to you matters to Him.

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If you’ve been given the gift of words, then ... whatever wordy thing you are doing today MATTERS. @camilleeide 

Your Turn: What first prompted you to write? What did you hope to gain initially, and have you attained it? What have you gained from writing that you didn’t expect?

About the Author
Like a Love Song
by Camille Eide
Camille Eide writes heart-tugging tales of love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, and Peanut M&Ms.

Camille’s latest inspirational novel, Like a Love Song, releases April 30 from Ashberry Lane Publishing. It received a 4 ½ star “Top Pick” review from Romantic Times (May).

Like a Love Song
When she finally surrenders her heart, will it be too late?
Susan Quinn, a social worker turned surrogate mom to foster teens, fights to save the group home she’s worked hard to build. But now, she faces a dwindling staff, foreclosure, and old heartaches that won't stay buried. Her only hope lies with the last person she’d ever turn to—a brawny handyman with a guitar, a questionable past, and a God he keeps calling Father.

Like a Love Song is a romantic drama about a fiercely loyal woman, some cast-off kids, and finding the courage to believe in a Love that never fails.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Finding Joy in the Little Things

Finding Joy in the Little Things

By Mary Manners
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
~ Psalm 118:24 (NIV) ~
I belly-laughed the other day, and it felt so good.
I was standing in the bus line at the intermediate school where I am assistant principal, loading children onto a small bus that heads to an after-school program, when one of the pre-school boys in the second seat turned to me with the cutest gap-toothed smile. I winked at him through the window and he did his best to wink right back, scrunching both eyes and twisting his mouth as I waited there. I laughed at his effort and, seeing my reaction, he giggled, as well. In that moment, I remembered one of my favorite things...watching young children learn how to master tasks such as winking and whistling and snapping their fingers. They find such joy as they share the talents they've accomplished...great pleasure from simple things.
So, when I got home later that afternoon I decided to make a list of ten (OK...eleven) simple things that bring me great joy:
1. Winking at a child and watching him or her wink back.
2. Listening to backyard birds welcome the warm, spring dawn with a song.
3. A hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning (or any morning is just as fine).
4. Quiet walks with my husband, holding hands. and sharing our dreams for the future.
5. Long talks with my mom, sharing memories (over coffee, of course).
6. The caress of a breeze as I sit in the rocking chair on my front porch daydreaming.
7. Curling up on the couch with a good book and plenty of time to be swept away.
8. Sharing a life lesson with my daughter, so she does not have to learn the hard way.
9. Push-mowing the lawn on a warm summer day (while writing a story in my head).
10. The sound of laughter drifting through my office window from the school playground.
11. Waking up long before dawn to spend the entire day writing...and writing...and writing some more (with a pot of hazelnut coffee)!
Simple joys...they truly add to life's sweetness. So, I ask...what are your simple joys? I invite you to share!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jack Seaton moves mountains, literally, as he develops commercial property along the West Coast. But not a day goes by that he doesn’t think of Misty Larsen and the carefree love they once shared. He thought they’d end up married, but his job—and five thousand miles—got in the way. He’s sure she’s moved on and found a new man to love...Until he unexpectedly receives a letter Misty wrote the day he left Mills Landing nearly six years ago. Jack is shocked to learn Misty was pregnant with his child—a child that must be in kindergarten by now.

Misty Larsen is determined to give her daughter a good life. She’s put a business-management degree to good use by spearheading an online Web-design agency. Misty’s hectic schedule gives her little time to reminisce about Jack Seaton, the man who stole her heart. But when Jack storms Misty’s doorstep one thunder-filled afternoon, clutching her letter in his hand, the past bubbles up and spills over to merge their lives once again.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and daughter Danni, and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus. She loves flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.
Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.
Learn more about Mary Manners at her website:

Friday, April 24, 2015

What Are You Reading? by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

This isn’t an article to suggest which writer’s handbook you should have on your shelf. Nor is it about who’s come out with the next best book on writing.

This is an article to ask you this question: Are you paying attention to what you are reading? To put it another way, when you read, do you analyze the writing? Do you notice the good, the bad and the…not-so-good?

I’m presently reading a novel which promised “suspense” and a “dabbling into the supernatural.” Unfortunately, thus far, what I have witnessed is unrealistic dialogue, and situations that leave me questioning if that would really happen in real life or a supernatural occurrence. I’m 30 pages in and wondering if I should continue.

Before I started reading the aforementioned book, I read another one written many, many years ago. The language was British, and the setting was the 1800s, which would have made this novel “contemporary” fiction at the time, so, I just overlooked the literary strategies that would never work with today’s reader (How sad!) and moved on. However, what I did glean from this book was the attention to detail and the careful use of words. I also noticed how the book jumped from first person in one chapter to third person in another and back again. And we thought that was something new… (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

I’m reading two more books right now. Both are non-fiction works on how to write screenplays. (“Hi. My name is Kevin, and I’m ADHD when it comes to reading.” I try to have at last one fiction and one non-fiction going at the same time.) What I appreciate from these books is the step-by-step progression. One of them builds off from a previous title in a collection of three, and illustrates the first book’s points in a “real-world” style so the reader can witness what was talked about (in the first book) and see it come to life on the big screen.

The other screenwriter’s book I’m reading is more of “Screenwriter’s 101” kind of book. Much of what I’ve read so far is material I already knew from attending screenwriting workshops at writers’ conferences. But what I love about this book is the methodical method used by the author without being laborious or making the reader feel like a dolt.

The point is, whatever you’re reading, whether fiction or non-fiction, there is something on the pages from which you can glean expertise. That proficiency may come in the form of reading a book that’s not very well written, so you learn from the mistakes. It may arise from a great novel, where before you realize it, you were swept away by the writing. Go back and digest how that writer did it. Ask the tough questions, like “What is this author doing that I’m not?” and “How can I take that style, that turn of a phrase, that imagery, those word choices, and apply it to my writing while, at the same time, make it my own and not just duplicate what would amount to being literary theft?” How can I learn from non-fiction, although being a fiction author, and vice-versa? What makes this such a great non-fiction book? Is it the stories told by the author to illuminate a point? Is it the insider information you never knew before? It is the turn of a phrase? The word choices?

You’ve heard it said, “We learn by doing.” But if you’re not teachable, then not much will be learned. We become great by listening. We become even better by being observant with both our ears and eyes. We become the best when we are pliable enough to be molded by those great things we see in others’ writings. If you don’t believe me, read Proverbs 1 and notice how many times you are urged to listen and make wise choices. It applies to the literary world, too.

None of us have arrived yet. No one writer knows it all. So, don’t try to start that club. You’ll be its only, lonely, sad, little member.

A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, having served churches in New York, Mississippi, Texas, and Iowa. He is married (for 33+ years), has three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. He speaks in churches on occasion, presently works as an assistant principal in a Central Florida school district, and plays the drums in his church’s praise team. He is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic too.

Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), ACFW, and Word Weavers International, and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (OakTara, 2012; winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1 (OakTara 2013), as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Facebook:      C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page 
Twitter:         @CKevinThompson
Goodreads:    C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Marketing Fun with Pinterest by Dora Hiers

Last month, I offered three reasons why writers should love Pinterest, so today, let’s have some fun with marketing. Marketing…fun? Eeek! Those two words couldn’t possibly go together, right? :)
Books rank #14 for what women find “pinteresting” while Food/Drinks rank #1.* Not bad news for writers, but how can we capitalize on this information? If your books involve any food/drinks, it wouldn’t hurt to pin some delicious looking food items to your book boards. My heroine in When Love Triumphs whips up a batch of macaroni and cheese instead of digging into the ice cream bucket when she needs comfort food, so why not pin a scrumptious, nicely browned mac and cheese recipe

Wow them with unique pins
I’ve used a couple of cool sites to create unique pins: Canva and PicMonkey. Both are fairly easy to use. PicMonkey is free, and Canva offers free designs as well as some premium options for $1, so any extra dazzles you’d like to include won’t break any marketing budgets. Use your own pictures or Pixabay is a great resource for free images. 

Jazz up your boards
Be creative. Check these out: 
Don’t just pin/repin book covers. Spread the Pinterest love around. What are your interests? Hobbies? I created boards for adorable animals, recipes, decorating ideas, seasonals, landscapes, coffee, etc. When I allow myself the freedom to venture outside the box, I find marketing much more enjoyable. And rather than following the same friends from Facebook or Twitter and seeing the same faces, why not consider Pinterest as an entirely new venue to make friends?


  • Since a pinterester can click to follow through on a link, it makes sense to pin your book covers from a “retailer,” right? Pin your covers from a “buy” site.
  • Follow boards, rather than pinners, or you will wade through a feed clogged with meaningless pins. Make your feed what you’d like…whatever inspires, excites or relaxes you. 
Thanks so much for allowing me to share Pinterest, my favorite spot to hangout online. I hope you enjoyed this series and that I convinced you to give it a try. Have fun with it!

What boards inspire you?
Have you tried Canva, PicMonkey or other graphic applications? Which is your favorite?

Available through
subscription with
Pelican Book Group
Art teacher Shelby Coltman transforms junk into treasure and longs for a place to showcase her creations. She’s thrilled when her friend volunteers to room with her. Shelby can finally buy a storefront. Unfortunately, Kennedi’s brother can't seem to let go.

Abandoned as a teenager, guidance counselor Tate Malone has become surrogate and over-protective father to his sister. Life is great until Shelby Coltman wheedles his impressionable sister into sharing an apartment. Raised in wealth, the beautiful Shelby could never understand poverty or rejection, and Tate doesn't appreciate her uprooting his sister.

When Shelby hands over her savings to a homeless student, will God obliterate Tate's fears and deliver all of Shelby’s dreams...when hope rises?

Dora Hiers
Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. Connect with her on Seriously Write, Fiction Faith & Foodies, TwitterFacebook or Pinterest