Friday, October 30, 2015

The Power of a Bucket List by Misty M. Beller

Misty M. Beller

What prompted you to start writing? Did you always dream of having your stories published? Was it something you began on a whim? Author Misty Beller shares what made her decide it was time to put her imagination to work. ~ Dawn

The Power of a Bucket List

This morning, I was telling a friend how proud I was that he’s taken the initiative to accomplish something he’s wanted to do for years. In his case, the accomplishments involved Invisalign and a pretty serious diet, but it made me think back to several years ago when I first created my bucket list.

The idea of a bucket list been on my mind for a while, and I finally took the initiative when January 1st rolled around. You want to know what was the first item I listed?

“Write a novel that's published.”

Yes! Reading has always been a huge part of my life, but as I held pen and journal in hand, I put words to the secret dream I’d never admitted to anyone.

Now that I’d actually recorded that dream on paper, I realized I had to do it. I made the commitment.

So, I had a general idea that I wanted it to be a Christian western romance. But where to start? That blank Word document seemed much more daunting than it had for any college essay or work memo. Somehow, all the thousands of novels I’d read didn’t give me a clue how to start my own!

I finally decided I needed to find a good book to help me plan, so off to the library I went. I stumbled upon (i.e. God led me to) the best possible book to help me get started with a great plan: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. For all you writers out there, I can’t recommend it highly enough! 

From there, I soaked in every bit of writing instruction I could from some amazing groups and individuals. Midway through that first story, I discovered this neat group called the American Christian Fiction Writers. Wow! 

Writing and I have had a love affair since then, and I’ve spent countless hours sitting with my laptop pouring out words onto the screen. God has blessed my journey as a hybrid author, and now with six books released, I have the special privilege of a full-time writing career. I pray for His guidance and inspiration for every new story. Writing is in my blood. It’s my passion. A true gift from my Heavenly Father, and I pray daily that he uses the words for His purpose.

But now, as I begin my eighth novel, my mind drifts toward that bucket list. Who would have thought it would turn into all this? What other dreams has He planted for me there? What else will I miss if I don’t take action?

What about you? What’s on your bucket list? What’s the next dream you’re going to pursue?

Lilly Arendale has fought the anger of prejudice all her life. Her Guatemalan mother and wealthy English father were very much in love and gave her the best of upbringings, but their family was never accepted in either country. Now, orphaned and alone in the mining town of Butte in the Montana Territory, the effects of racism have left Lilly with a one-year old daughter and a fierce desire to avoid men at all costs.

Marcus Sullivan is a born adventurer, and the new preacher in town. He’s not afraid to take a few risks and his ways may be unconventional, but he’s determined to add some joy into the lives of these townspeople. Especially the beautiful young mother who won’t have anything to do with him.

When the threat to Lilly intensifies and her worst fears comes true, how can she find the strength to release control of the one thing that matters most—her daughter’s life? As Marcus steps in to help, the danger only escalates. Has he finally taken a risk he can’t overcome?

Misty M. Beller writes Christian historical romance, and is author of the bestselling Mountain Dreams Series, including her latest release The Lady and the Mountain Promise.

Misty was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. About eleven years ago, she made a career change from farm life into the business world, where she worked as a Senior Manager and Director of Process & Training. She’s now loving the life of a full-time writer, wife, and mother.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quit Tomorrow, Not Today by Ane Mulligan

Ane Mulligan
Gina Holmes appeared on a talk show recently. Her advice to writers was, “Quit Tomorrow not today.” Sage advice and something she and I know a lot about.

I met Gina at a writers conference in 2004. We were both at the beginning of our writing careers. We became critique partners, along with a couple of other writers, and by 2006, we were sure we’d get that call any day.

We'd signed with agents by then, who were sending out our full manuscripts. Every year, we’d tell each other, “This is the year!” But each year would go by without contracts. We were doing everything right. We continued to grow in our craft, attended conferences, and yet ... those coveted contracts were just out of reach.

One year, I went as far as pub board, only to have the slate filled for that quarter. The editor was moving me to the next quarter. Then she retired. And her hard drive was wiped clean. The hard drive with my manuscript on it.

Discouraged? You bet your bippy! But I never thought of quitting. I couldn’t anyway; I’d have exploded. There’re too many stories and voices bubbling up in my head.

The only people who fail are those who quit. If you’re that discouraged, quit tomorrow; but don’t quit today. Instead, today start a new manuscript, write a blog post, plant a garden, write a short story, start a photography journal.

There are a lot of ways to spark your creativity. After all, if you’re a writer, you can’t quit writing. So don’t even think about it. I’m glad I didn’t. When I finally got the call in 2013, I had several manuscripts waiting and ready.


Purchase link
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, bestselling novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning website, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and chef son. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest. Her sophomore novel, Chapel Springs Survival, will release Dec 3rd, 2015.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Business of Writing by Vannetta Chapman

As a writer seeking publication, you're a creator, but you're also a professional. It's a business. Today, author Vannetta Chapman provides her tips for treating it as such. -- Sandy

Vannetta: It doesn’t seem like those two words would fit together—business and writing. Most of us like to think of writing as something mysterious, and it is … but it’s also like any other business in some aspects.

Meet your contractual obligations. If you sign a contract for a 90,000 word manuscript due on November 1, then turn in a 90,000 word manuscript on November 1. You are building a reputation with every project, and you want that reputation to be a good one.

Be a team player. Whether you’re indie or traditionally published, you have a team—people who are helping you to complete and promote your books. It makes sense to “play nice” with these people. They’re on your side! If a publisher asks for a blog, say yes! If your influencers ask for a copy, send it! Do everything you can to show respect for those on your team.

Don’t whine. You can whine to your mother or your best friend, but that’s it. And only do so in person—not on facebook and not in texts (I’m the queen of sending texts to the wrong people). Yes, we all feel discouraged or slighted at times. You’ll feel better about it tomorrow or next week or in a month. In the mean time, don’t put anything out there permanently. Just don’t do it.

Try to be logical. I’ve heard everything from “my book is like my child” to “this is my art—my very soul.” It’s not either of those things. It might be an important message that you want to share with people. It might represent some important experiences, but it is not YOU. Trust me on this. Learn from reviews, but don’t sweat over them. Take editorial suggestions to heart, but don’t take them personally. Try to think of your book as a very cool car. Folks are helping you to make it the best car that it can be, and some of those folks are experts in some areas that you aren’t (marketing for example). Thank them, use what you can, and do not dwell on the rest.

The first few books I wrote I was teaching full time. Now I write full time. But in every instance, I addressed writing as a business, albeit one that is very close to my heart.



What is your best tip for treating writing as the business it is?


When a tornado strikes, Anna Schwartz’s life is changed forever. She suffers a spinal cord injury and finds
herself learning to live as a paraplegic. But then a miracle happens, and the world’s attention is drawn to this young Amish girl who has experienced the unexplainable.

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, was a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist. A Promise for Miriam earned a spot on the June 2012 Christian Retailing Top Ten Fiction list. Chapman was a teacher for 15 years and currently writes full time. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband. For more information, visit her at

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Loneliness and the Writing Life by Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach
I have a lot of great friends in my life but at one point I went through a period of time when I was very lonely. My husband traveled for work, some of my closest friends moved, and suddenly I just found myself without the particular types of friendships I most desired. And that’s the key with loneliness. It isn’t necessarily about having lots of friends, it’s about having the close connection you crave.

My job doesn’t help matters in that area. Most of the time I’m required to be alone in a room with just me and the computer. Oh sure, my dog joins me (and acts as my proofreader occasionally, so if you notice a mistake you can blame her), and while I get sympathetic looks from her I don’t get the conversation I sometimes desire.

I’m a full-time freelancer who specializes in writing about relationships. So I’m pretty comfortable talking about things like needing more friends or loneliness. During one phone conversation with a family member I shared that I was struggling a bit with loneliness. And you know what she did? Snorted some snotty response about how she wished she had time for loneliness! She was too busy to be lonely!

Well, I was busy, too. Being lonely doesn’t mean you don’t have enough to do. And that’s when it hit me, that there are people who experience loneliness and aren’t as comfortable talking about it as I am, and this is the type of response we (their closest friends and family) give them.

So when I wrote my latest book, I wanted it to be for people who might just want a few new friends (maybe the ones you have just aren’t giving you the types of connection you want right now) or those that need to meet a few people. Maybe they are feeling lonely right now. Maybe they just aren’t totally happy with the state of their relationships right now.

Friendships are fluid and even when you have long time friends that have been in your life forever, you might still need a few more who get you. It’s as simple as that.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we read “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I want people to know they are never alone, even in the dark, lonely times. Even when the rest of the people in your life don’t get where you’re coming from. He is always there keeping us company and encouraging us. He puts the right people and situations in front of us to help us through.

About the Author
Cherie Burbach is a poet, mixed media artist, and freelance writer. She’s penned 17 books and has written for, NBC/Universal,, Christianity Today, and more. Whether it’s writing articles or creating art, all of Cherie’s work centers on relationships and faith. She includes book pages, music sheets, and other fabulous random things in her art to create something that celebrates a hopeful message. Visit her website for more info,

About 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends
100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends
by Cherie Burbach

The more friends you have, the more you’ll have the right people in your life to give you the support and connection you desire. Having more friends means you’ll consistently connect with new people and also keep the good friends you already have. If your friendships don’t seem to stick, you’ll be making friends and losing them quickly. The key to having more friends is increasing the number of people you meet on a regular basis and holding on to the great pals you already have.

This book contains one hundred suggestions on how to make new friends and also strengthen the friendships you already have. The tips are varied, with suggestions on how to meet new people interspersed with ideas for nurturing your new and existing friendships.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Harvest Blessings...Pass Them On

Harvest Blessings...Pass Them On

By Mary Manners
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
~ Colossians 3:17 ~
Some of you may know that in addition to being a writer, I am also blessed to have spent twenty-seven years educating children as a public school teacher, and am currently in my third year as a school administrator at a local intermediate school. As I barrel (yes, barrel...there is no rest where children are involved) toward holiday festivities that never fail to cause a buzz along the school halls, I am warmed by the eager smiles on the faces of the young children that are entrusted to my care each day. These youngsters have a passion for life and learning, as well as an eagerness for all of the adventures yet to come. There is a pep in their step and an enthusiastic, sing-song tone to their voice as they wish me good morning. It’s a wonderful thing…a true blessing to me when I greet them at the front doors of the school each weekday as the sun peeks through a star-dappled sky. I watch them rush down the hall to greet their friends, their backpacks filled with textbooks and crumpled homework sheets, and wonder what the events of the day might bring. Every day is important to these kids; each moment—every word—counts.
The children's words coupled with tender gestures...those are what never cease to impress and encourage me. We as a nation hear the word 'bullying' in the news on a daily basis, but a child's kindness toward another is rarely mentioned. Yet, I see acts of kindness...true and real blessings...continually throughout my school days. A little girl drops her lunch and the blonde-haired boy at a nearby table rushes over to help her clean up the mess while another classmate goes for a new lunch tray. "It's OK," they murmur to the tearful girl, washing her embarrassment away with smiles and gentle pats on the shoulder. "Everyone drops things. We're here to help."
The new transfer student...the boy with autism...another who just lost his mother to cancer...each of these children finds a blessing or two (or more) throughout their days. The kindness of their classmates warms like a sweet cup of mocha-flavored coffee.

So, I'm thinking that I'd like to be more like these kids...passing on the blessings they've shared with me through their smiles, enthusiasm, and kindness toward one another. I challenge you to do the same with the blessings you receive throughout your daily walk, whatever and wherever it may be...
Share your bountiful harvest and pass those blessings on. 

Will a bit of secret moonlighting lead Kaci and Ryne to the ultimate dance?
Scorned by an ex-fiance who dumped her on their wedding day, Kaci James vows to never fall in love again. She's content to teach English at Angel Falls High School and moonlights at the Angel Falls Trumpet as an advisor for a romance column--Love's Lessons.
Plagued by the senseless death of a teen on his watch, patrolman Ryne Calvert feels he's failed in the line of duty--and as a man. His new job as the resource officer at Angel Falls High will give him a chance to redeem himself--and to be closer to the elusive and lovely Kaci. Though he longs for more than friendship, Kaci thwarts his advances. She's hiding her heart from him, but why?
When Ryne, on a dare, seeks advice from Love's Lessons, he and Kaci begin the dance of romance. But when Kaci's secret is revealed, will the music end—forever?

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, October 23, 2015

My Story (Part 1) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

I always get inspired by hearing other authors’ stories. We always think writers became household names overnight. Climbed the New York Times’ Bestseller List with their first book. Yet, for many of us, that simply wasn’t the case. So, as I tell my story, I hope it will inspire and challenge others to persevere and save some from pitfalls this business can have waiting in the shadows.

By the mid-’90s, I had published several articles in various Christian publications and was set to continue that path for however long I cared to do it. However, the creative bug bit me years prior, and I thought, “Why not try my hand at writing a novel?” Little did I know what that thought involved.

As a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, I started writing what became a novel entitled, A Case of Deja Vu. I thought it was good for a first novel by someone who was darker than Kelly green when it came to “the business.” I did a little research and sent it off to some Christian publishing houses thinking this was the great American, Christian novel they all had been waiting to read. (Have you ever thought that way before?) So, you can guess the huge dose of disappointment I incurred when the rejections letters and rejection postcards came streaming into my mailbox. I appreciated the personal touch the postcards conveyed.

Believing in my work, I did a little more research and found that most houses only accepted “agented” manuscripts (mss). So, you guessed it. I farmed out my mss to agents. The same results occurred. Devastated, I staggered away like a boxer who just failed to beat the ten-count.

So, I placed my novel on the back burner and continued to write a few more articles, which were published. This success prompted me to trudge ahead with the novel.

Then, one day, I found an agent who said she would love to offer me a contract and represent me. She praised my work and said it was one of the best novels she had ever read from an unpublished author. You can imagine my delight. So, I sent her the required contract and the $300 signing fee….

I can hear you now. “Uh-oh. Didn't he know good agents never charge up front?”


He didn't.

I only found the website Preditors & Editors AFTER the whole ordeal. So, in my zeal “to be published,” I followed the “professional” instructions of my agent to the letter. She sent me names and addresses of publishers she thought would be interested in my mss, and I sent them the listed items: a copy of the mss and a copy of a letter from her agency.

I never heard from any of the publishers. Not long afterward, I learned why.

She and her husband had been arrested for fraud.

I now get a check from their correctional facility in Texas. It’s the court-ordered attempt to pay back the $300 they stole from me. A few dollars and cents at a time. About three times a year.

Guess I should add that to my will.

When I realized what I had done by learning more about the industry, I felt about one-inch tall. Still do when I dwell on it. I allowed zeal and novice beliefs to trump reason and preparedness and became a casualty as a result.

Moral of Part 1: Patience and doing your homework by networking with those “in the know” will save you a great deal of grief and humiliation in the future. It will be money well spent.

Next month, I’ll continue my story.

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 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, October 22, 2015

When You Need to Recharge by Dora Hiers

Dora Hiers
Struggling to find a job? Feeling stomped on by co-workers? Going through marital problems? Family discord. Rebellious children. Financial challenges. Medical issues. Or maybe you just lost a precious family member or friend. All while trying to write.

You name it, and we’ve probably all faced it at some point. Pressure gains momentum as a culmination of events and issues take turns with their punches. Or it could be one major incident that knocks us until we’re staggering backward like a fighter in a boxing ring, squeezing the breath from our lungs until our vision blurs, the voices around us fading into oblivion. And words? They tumble through our head, round and round, but no coherent strings make their way onto the page.

We each handle stress differently. Some people thrive on it. Others tug the blanket back over their head and sleep. I tend to...

Run! Not run away because that doesn’t solve any problems. But run to the mountains. 

Peace speaks to my soul here. Whispers that everything’s going to be all right, that life is more than writing and books. That God is in control and that He’s infinitely greater than anything I'm facing. Being here brings God more into focus, and the pressure lifts. I can breathe deep again, liberated from the chains of worry that squeeze my chest.

If we can’t break away for a weekend, this is where I run…

Sometimes all I can manage is this...

Not quite the same, but it’s nice to escape my desk and the mountain of tasks demanding my attention and slip away for a few minutes.

This year has been crazy busy. Long hours hunched over my laptop, trying to keep the momentum going with my current work-in-progress and the extra writing related to market five books. You know how, at times, events just keep piling on your calendar until suddenly you've lost control? That was me this year, somewhere about April. I definitely needed a recharge, so we headed for the mountains over a long weekend.

How do you handle stress? Are you a "runner?" Where do you go to recharge?
I'll be in and out of Internet service for the next couple of weeks (recharging! :) ), but will check back and respond to all comments when I return. Wishing you a glorious weekend!

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him,
whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! ~Isaiah 26:3 TLB

He's my yesterday, my tomorrow, my today.
He's my redeemer, my hiding place, my refuge.
He's the grace who covers a multitude of wrongs, the beauty in my ugly, the bridge to forever.
He's the restorer of my soul, the quiet in my storm, the still water of perfect peace.
He's my champion, my hero, my rock.
He's the sweet spot in my day, my reason for being,
my very next breath. ~Dora Hiers

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.