Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In God's Waiting Room by Jodie Wolfe

One of the hardest parts about writing is waiting: waiting for news about a contest entry, waiting for news from an agent or editor, waiting for that first release, waiting for ... Well, you get the picture. Jodie Wolfe is here today to give us some tips about what to do during all that time of "waiting." -- Sandy

Jodie: Hurry up and wait. My husband and I once joked that this was the slogan of the Army. We were stationed in Germany at the time and had a young baby, which meant a lot of check-ups those first months. We had 'scheduled' appointment times, but it didn't mean we saw the doctor then. Often other pressing needs or patients trumped when our son actually got seen. We learned to be patient because we didn't have much choice.

What's a writer to do during a waiting season...especially if it's a really long one? I've been on 'wait' mode since I recommitted my writing to the Lord in 2009. I'd love to tell you I have a contract waiting in the wings or am published or multi-published by now but so far it hasn't happened.

I firmly believe waiting has a purpose. In this time when the answer is 'not yet' God refines us and our talent. He knows the right season for us to become published authors. Until then, we need to immerse ourselves in Him and seek His direction.

You may be wondering what I've been doing in the past six years. Here are some things I've found helpful along the way.

1. Keep writing. I've written at least four novels and am starting on a fifth one. I also tried out for other various writing project opportunities as they presented themselves.

2. Enter contests. While these can sometimes be a double-edged sword, they also are helpful with improving our skills. It's how I ended up landing an agent. :)

3. Attend conferences. Learn as much about the craft of writing as possible and find ways to share it with others so you can encourage someone else.

4. Work on building social media platforms. I had been in a rut in this area until I attended a conference this summer which gave some hands-on ideas. I decided to put them into practice. In less than two months time I tripled my friends on Facebook - all because I tried something new.

5. Look for new areas to grow. After a conference workshop I decided to try my hand at writing a devotion and sent it off to be considered. What a joy and surprise to have it accepted and posted online a few weeks ago.

6. Keep seeking the Lord. I believe God has big things in store for me and for you. Seek His face daily and ask for His direction for your writing. Come to the point where He is more important than seeing your name in print.

Keep your eyes on the goal of following the call God has placed on your life. Look for each step He leads you on, to reach the place He wants you to be. He's rooting for you and so am I. God bless!

So what are you waiting for? Where are you in that writing stage, and have you found that the waiting ever ends, even if you're published?


Jodie got bitten by the writing bug as a young girl after reading and watching Little House on the Prairie. She loves writing stories about feisty heroines and strong, godly heroes. The power of story to influence lives and change hearts is what motivates her to weave tales that tell of the Savior’s faithfulness and forgiveness. Jodie is a columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine and had a devotion featured on Christian Devotions. She achieved semi-finalist status in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest and 3rd place in the 2015 Novel Beginnings at St. David's Christian Writer's Conference. She's represented by Linda S. Glaz of the Hartline Literary Agency.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

These Are the Times that Try Men's Souls by Sandra Merville Hart

Sandra Merville Hart
Thomas Paine, personal assistant to General Nathanael Greene, scanned the faces of his companions in the Continental Army on a cold day in December, 1776. The soldiers faced difficulties worse than separation from families and harsh winter conditions. The men were disheartened. How could an army one quarter the size of the British forces win freedom?

Paine understood their discouragement. Three thousand Colonial soldiers bravely stood their ground against a foe of thirteen thousand outside the fort at Washington Heights (Manhattan) until the British threatened them with cannons. One hundred forty-nine Colonial soldiers were killed or wounded. Over twenty-eight hundred at the fort surrendered. The Colonial Army also abandoned another fort, Fort Lee, in New Jersey.

To make matters worse, General Howe's British troops pursued General Washington's retreating army across New Jersey. The soldiers marched through the colony for sixteen days until they reached safety across the Delaware River.

The loss of three thousand soldiers struck the struggling army a difficult blow. New York City and all of New Jersey were under British control. Eleven thousand colonial soldiers gave up and returned home between September and December. Army contracts expired on December 31st.

Paine remembered the impact of his pamphlet, Common Sense. His words, published earlier that year in January, had been read by thousands. His writing somehow resonated with people in all walks of life.

All thirteen colonies must know of the recent British victories. Paine imagined those at home felt discouragement similar to the soldiers. After he pondered the situation, he sat down to pen these words:
These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.1
The American Crisis went to the heart of the problem from these beginning lines. The Pennsylvania Journal published Paine's work on December 19, 1776.

General Washington commanded the pamphlet to be read to his discouraged men. Paine's stirring words revived hope within their souls at a crucial moment. The results encouraged Washington. His plan for Christmas Day must succeed though he kept the details from his soldiers.

Regiments began assembling at specific crossing points along the Delaware River late in the afternoon of December 25th. Temperatures dropped causing the snow-covered ground to feel even colder.

Washington didn't want delays because after the troops crossed the icy river, they must march to Trenton, New Jersey for a surprise pre-dawn attack on the Hessian soldiers.

Unfortunately some soldiers arrived late to their designated areas. Snow, hail, sleet, and rain hindered their crossing. They contended with ice jams on the river. Dark, stormy skies made navigation difficult.

All this affected Washington's careful timetable. He almost abandoned the plan when faced with a three-hour delay. He trudged on.

Washington's surprise attack worked. The Continental Army won their first major victory.

Would the results have been same without Paine's passionate plea to stay the course? With all the obstacles that had to be overcome on that freezing Christmas Day and everything that led up to it, this author doesn't believe so.

Do our words matter?

You decide.
About the Author

Sandra Merville Hart

Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for and contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, and Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

A Stranger on My Land
A Stranger on My Land
by Sandra Merville Hart

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can't save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family's hideaway with saving Adam's life. 


Barnes & Noble:

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas:


"Crossing of the Delaware," George Washington's Mount Vernon, 2015/07/27

"Ft. Washington Captured - Washington Retreats through N.J -1776," HistoryCentral, 2015/07/27

1Paine, Thomas. "The Crisis," 2015/07/24

"Thomas Paine," 2015/07/24

"Thomas Paine Publishes American Crisis,", 2015/07/28

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's All in the Perspective

It's All in the Perspective

By Mary Manners
Isn't it funny how the many experiences of life impact our perspective? I am reminded of this each time I have a conversation with my daughter. As a young teenager, she used to wonder at my exhaustion following a full week of teaching, caring for my family, and midnight hours spent writing. My only intermission from the daily chaos was piloting the family taxi as I carted Danni to dance lessons, band practice, and chorus recitals. I used to warn her that her 'time' would come and...lo and behold, that season of life has made its grand entrance as my daughter winds her way toward college graduation and the grand old age of twenty-two.
"Mom, I'm tired," Danni told me this week as we spoke on the phone. "I have four projects due over the next few days, a twenty-hour work week, and I went to a concert with my friend last night to help celebrate her birthday." I chuckled to myself as I listened, thinking...And she hasn't even begun her student teaching, worked her first day at a 'real job', cooked her first Thanksgiving meal, or changed her first diaper.

It's all in the perspective.

In the meantime, I'm heading toward retirement from my 'day job' and enjoying the task of penning the ultimate bucket list. What fun it's going to be to check off the adventures that equate to a lifetime of dreams as my husband and I meander through the next several decades together! As I travel down this uncharted road, I'll remind my daughter to stay positive and to always look for the wishes in her everyday tasks instead of the weeds, even when she's tired.

It's true that perseverance and a job well-done pay off in the end, and when the days are tough simply's all in the perspective. 

They say time heals all wounds…have the years taught them how to trust—and to love again?
Jade McAllister returns home to Pineyville, Tennessee to help nurse her estranged mother back to health. She's grateful her friend found her a job as an administrative assistant at Pineyville Church. That is, until she runs into Shane Calkin, the bad-boy-wannabe who broke her heart.

Shane's job as Youth Director at the church is a far cry from his high school days as the town's privileged rich kid. The death of his sister has left him with a young niece to raise and a rambunctious puppy to tame. He's not the self-centered person who once hurt Jade, and all he wants now is a second chance to love her. But how can he prove it to her?
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:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Another Four-Letter Word by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

The very first blog entry I wrote for Seriously Write was entitled “How Many Four-Letter Words Do You Need?”  It was a tongue-in-cheek look at marketing. Most of the “four-letter” words didn’t actually have four letters, but they often feel it and roll off the tongue with the same air about them.

This month, I actually have a four-letter word I want us to address: TIME.

It’s a big deal. We’re so tied to it (and I’m not so sure that was God’s plan in the beginning). Every day is controlled by it. Our jobs. Our tasks. Our marriages. Our livelihood. All judged by some increment of time. As a result, it seems even our worth is inextricably tied to it whether we want it to be or not.

I’ve been struggling with this age-old dilemma (See? Even our phrases are tied to time!). As an assistant principal at a middle school, we are now four weeks into the school year. Time is literally of the essence these days. With the demands of education growing like amorous rabbits, it often feels like you can only be a good educator if you live and breathe it 24/7. Just ask a teacher you know. They’ll tell you. Doesn’t matter where they live in the U.S. The demands seem to cross all boundaries.

Now, I’m being strongly encouraged to take the next step and become a principal. Sit in “The Chair.” Having talked and worked with numerous principals I respect and admire, many of them being those encouragers of which I speak, I know what a pinch for writing time that move would be.

I, like you, am always trying to carve out healthy, productive blocks of time wherein I can do something I truly love. Sometimes, it’s twenty minutes here, forty minutes there. I often get up at 4:00 AM and spend upwards of two hours plunking away at the keyboard before getting ready for work. Writing in the AM is better for me. I’m fresher. My mind has had a chance to shut down and reboot. Conversely, writing at night is hard after a long day for me. The only time it works is when a lightning bolt of inspiration strikes, the adrenaline kicks in, and I have to get that “Eureka! Moment” down on paper before it fizzles out into a wafting rumble of thunder.

How about you? And no, I’m not going to ask if finding writing time is an issue for you. That’s like asking a dentist if he enjoys looking into the mouths of his patients. Some things are a given. They go with the territory, and you’d better enjoy dealing with it if you wish to be productive.

I’m asking the tougher question. What extremes are you willing to take to make time for your writing? I’m not advocating becoming a recluse and abandoning all family activities. So, don’t go and tell your spouse Kevin said you should stop mowing the lawn or cleaning the house or babysitting the grandkids because you have to write. Some sacrifices trump writing. But for those other activities you enjoy that have little or no eternal value, are you willing to enjoy them a little less for the sake of your writing? I find this to be the #1 reason why those who say, “I want to write a book!” never do. Like so many other correlations we could list here, writing “that book” will only be important enough to you if you make the time, sacrifice the time, and enjoy it along the way.

How do you sacrifice that precious thing we call time? What methods have you found useful? What works best for you?

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (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, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:  
Kevin’s Educational Blog:  
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Twitter 101 by Dora Hiers

Dora Hiers
Last month, I shared WhatHappened to All My Peoples?, and a friend suggested that I offer a brief introduction to Twitter. While I definitely don’t claim to be a Twitter expert, my experience might help someone find value in the social media site that I use most, even over Facebook and Pinterest. Twitter doesn't absorb much time and has the potential to be far reaching.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Keep it short. Twitter embraces brevity with tweets limited to 140 characters or less. Less, if you'd like people to share your posts or retweet (RT). 

Sharing = happy Tweeters. To share, just click RT (the two arrows that form a square). You have the option of just RT'ing or adding your thoughts with Quote Tweet. Generally, if someone RT’s something of mine, I pay it forward and RT something of theirs versus replying with a" thanks.” A favorite (star) means someone likes your tweet or they're saving it to read later.

RT = Retweet
Star = Favorite

Make every character count. So that you're not wasting valuable real estate, you can shorten links by using tools like bitly or Programs like Hootsuite allow you to schedule your tweets, but the original tweet needs to be even shorter than 140 characters or you'll get an error message.

Include visuals. Just like with every other social media site, pictures play a big role here as well. 

Hashtags rule. Much like Instagram, hashtags are popular on Twitter. I joke around that I think in #hashtags. See? lol. A hashtag is just a conversation, topic or phrase such as #amwriting or #amediting. Google to find hashtags, check to see what’s trending, or jump right in with something fun and unique!

Be strategic for maximum return on investment. Include names/tags and hashtags. For example, for a workshop at a local library, I tagged the library system who then retweeted along with a reader’s group. That day 61k+ tweeters saw my name and profile. Not a bad return for the one minute it took to compose the tweet, right?

Follow = friends. Twitter users follow other tweeters, rather than friend them. Following someone doesn't obligate them to follow you back. Twitter also prompts you with suggestions of who to follow. You might want to click on a profile first and check their tweets. Do you want to follow someone who tweets the daily max of 2400? (I can’t even imagine!) Do you want to follow someone whose only interaction is through Facebook or whose tweets are all “buy my product?” 

Be aware of spammers. Potential spammers include eggheads (no profile picture) and tweets by someone with no followers. If you get a message like “somebody’s spreading nasty rumors about you,” don’t open the link.

Lists save time. As your Twitter account grows, lists are helpful to manage the people you follow, and lists can be public or private. Some ideas for lists might include friends, family, news, celebrities, etc. If you pull those special people into a list, you will always catch their updates.

Sound off. Did I miss a topic you’d like to see covered?
Did this post give you the courage to give Twitter a try?

Purchase Link
Deputy City Manager Burk Harmon has always been the strong one for his family, but recently those responsibilities have dwindled. When Lacie Heatherton, Assistant Director for Parks and Recreation, ropes him into a city-sponsored trip to the mountains with fifty seniors, Burk has two things on his mind: considering a possible promotion and wooing Lacie past friendship and into a future. Lacie has emotional scars and a thirteen-year-old daughter to remind her that men can be cruel and unforgiving. Can Burk convince Lacie to relax her "no dating" policy or will he surrender his dreams of family and love?

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA and her local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. Connect with her on Seriously Write, Fiction Faith & Foodies, TwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writer's Block Buster by Brenda S. Anderson

Tips for beating that dreaded writer's block. What could be better? Doing it in an entertaining way, of course! Today, Brenda Anderson gives her cure and something I'm going to try! -- Sandy

Brenda: If you’ve been writing for any amount of time, you’ve likely experienced the dreaded writer’s block. You stare at a blank page, fingers hovering over your keyboard, and no words, no story, no characters flit through your head, and you think your storytelling days are over.

Well, I have a surefire cure, a fun cure, one my entire family has participated in: Ten Word Flash Fiction. No, I don’t mean a story that contains only ten words, but a story that must use ten specifically chosen words.

The idea first came from an old elementary school assignment I discovered, one where I had to use all that week’s spelling words in a story. After finding that old assignment, I thought, “Why can’t I do that now?”

So I asked the family to shout out ten random words, nouns or active verbs work the best, and then I wrote whatever came to mind, paying no attention to writing rules. The story was obviously ridiculous and nonsensical and no one outside our house would ever read it, but it was completely fun.

You can even make a family game out of this. Instead of using ten words, use five words and give everyone five minutes to write. You’ll have fun while getting those creative juices flowing.

Let’s give a try right now. I don’t have family around, so I’m going to choose the first five words I see in my office. Take these five words and write the first things that come to you. I’ll give you five minutes. Please share your goofy story in the comments below.         






Here’s my goofy story:

Once upon a time there was a literary agent who was always hungry. She especially enjoyed lutefisk and made it for all her clients. But her clients hated lutefisk, especially the smell which took over her entire office, and they would never come visit her. But one day, Fanny Brice got brave and showed up at the office, a clothes pin pinched over her nose. While there, a rainstorm broke out and leaked through the roof into the agent’s office. The rain fell on the lutefisk making it smell worse. Then a Jurassic dinosaur, drawn by the stench, broke into the office and devoured the lutefisk. And the agent was no longer hungry.

Silly, right? And that’s the point. Ignoring all rules and constraints gives your mind freedom to roam, and once you’ve broken into that creative side of your brain, chances are your writer’s block will soon disappear.

Do you have a special way in which you bust that writer's block? Share it here.


Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball, and she loves watching movies with her family. She lives in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 28 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

Readers can learn more about Brenda S. Anderson at


About Hungry for Home:
After a troubling encounter with a pregnant teen, Sheila Peterson-Brooks hurries from the crisis pregnancy center into the frigid Minnesota winter where she is mugged and left for dead. After a frantic search, Richard, her husband, finds her, and the police quickly nab the mugger …
A hungry, homeless teen.
The brother of the pregnant girl Sheila had just counseled.
The girl pleads for her brother, and Sheila and Richard choose not to press charges. Instead, they open their home to the boy, a move that could cost them their possessions, and their hearts.
           And, in the process, teach them the true meaning of home.