Friday, July 29, 2016

Battling the Enemy by Christine Johnson

Christine Johnson

When you’re fighting roadblocks that continually get in your way, how do you handle them? What do you do when your writing life feels out of control? Author Christine Johnson shares where she goes for help. ~ Dawn

Battling the Enemy

Maybe you’ve been there. Something big, something earth-shattering sends your perfect writing schedule upside down. Suddenly that story takes a backseat to the pain, sorrow, or worry crushing your day. Or maybe it’s a small but nagging voice telling you that the story’s not good enough or you’ll never get it done on time. What do you do?

Yes, I’ve been there. Illness knocked me down and then worry spiraled out of control, only making everything worse. How can that be when I’m writing for my Lord and Savior? When I’m bringing messages of hope through my stories? Why now, Lord?

Like Job, like David, like so many in the Bible, I cried out to the Lord. Tears fell, pleading began, and sleepless nights were spent calling out to Him. Not now, Lord. Not now with deadlines looming and so much to do.

Yet the Lord has a way of making us sit down and spend time in His presence when we’ve been putting our emphasis on worldly things and people. Yes, even good things, even ministry, can draw us away from God. Oh, how He has shown me that.

In those dark moments, I have drawn on many sources to pull me closer to God and farther from that dependence on worldly things. 

  • Bible studies have given me a wealth of strength to draw on.
  • I wasn’t raised memorizing scripture, so I write key verses into a little notebook that I leave in my purse so it’s at hand whenever I need it.
  • Some Bible studies include videos that are priceless nuggets of encouragement.
  • Circles of Christian friends and prayer warriors are essential. They are a lifeline, and I thank God for bringing them into my life.
  • Even though picking up the languishing story seems like the hardest thing to do, God reaches to me through the words. He is the Word, the Author of all. My attempts are pitifully weak but He somehow makes sense from the jumble in my head. Praise God!

Prosperity Jones, the heroine of my new book, Honor Redeemed, reaches that moment when all she has ever known has been taken from her. A new story needs to be written, and with the Lord’s help, beauty will be forged from ashes and joy from mourning.

The same is true for you. From suffering comes great beauty and joy. Just cling to Him. Hold tight and know that He is greater than any pain or doubt.

Honor Redeemed
Honor Redeemed

Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life.

But when Prosperity arrives penniless in the South, she is dismayed to find David has not been eagerly awaiting their reunion. In fact, he is married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, Prosperity gains the friendship—and the affection—of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again?

Christine Johnson is the author of Love’s Rescue as well as several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired. She was twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award®. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God’s majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.

Visit the following sites to connect with Christine and learn more about her books.

Christina’s headshot is courtesy of E.A. Creative Photography, c.2013


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lady Spies by Anne Greene

I'm delighted to have Anne Greene on Seriously Write today. From the first time I read one of her blogs on female spies I found the idea intriguing and wanted to learn more. I know you will too.
- Terri  
Did you know both the Union and the Confederate armies during the Civil War employed woman spies? And America had her lady spies during the American Revolution as well. But today I want to talk about America’s lady spies during World War II.
Japan’s surprise aerial assault on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, highlighted America’s spy gathering weakness during those years. President Franklin Roosevelt, a longtime advocate of clandestine work, ordered the creation of this country’s first true intelligence service in June 1942.
During World War II, two main oversight organizations were responsible for intelligence activities for the Allies. These were the American OSS, or Office of Strategic Services and the British SOE, or Special Operations Executive. In addition to traditional spies, these organizations employed many ordinary men and women to covertly provide information about strategic locations and activities while leading apparently normal lives.
The OSS was active in every country in Europe, aiding resistance groups and monitoring enemy activity. They had spies in enemy countries as well as in the Pacific theater. Headed by Major General William J. Donovan, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) staged thousands of covert and guerilla activities. The sprawling organization also researched and drafted reports concerning a wide spectrum of political, social, cultural, and economic issues affecting the war.

Women played major roles in OSS missions. Of the thirteen thousand employees who served, forty-five hundred were women. One-third fulfilled overseas assignments. The OSS placed spies in Germany and Japan and every enemy-occupied country in Europe and in the Pacific, aiding resistance groups and monitoring enemy activity.

Eventually the OSS became the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency.

During World War II, the woman considered American’s greatest female spy, Virginia Hall of Baltimore, Maryland, flew into occupied France as an undercover OSS operative. A Spy.

Many other women served America during World War II. Woman like Barbara Lauwers, Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, Nancy Wake, Josephine Baker, Mary Louise Prather, film star Hedy Lamarr, and American’s favorite cook, Julia Childs.

I’m basing my next Women of Courage book, working title SPIES LIKE HER on these real-life American heroines.

Leave a comment below and let me know if you are acquainted with any woman currently employed by the CIA. I met one such lady while I was in college.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the world of women spies and look for my book, SPIES LIKE HER, when it release in 2017.

QUESTION: Do you admire the women who served at the risk of their lives for our country as much as I do? Do you know any of these heroic women? Also, I’d love to know what part of spy work appeals to you, or what part of spy work would you find most difficult to perform? These women often lived a lie to perform their duty.

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer and about gutsy heroines. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited forty countries. A visit to Scotland resulted in her award-winning Scottish historical romances, Masquerade Marriage and Marriage By Arrangement. A Texas Christmas Mystery also won awards. Her Women of Courage Series spotlights heroic women of World War II. The first book, Angel With Steel Wings, is available on Amazon. The second series, Handcuffed In Texas has the first book, Holly Garden, PI, Red Is For Rookie, now available on Amazon. Her newest release is novella, The Marriage Broker and The Mortician, in The California Gold Rush Romance Collection. Anne makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Anne’s highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. To learn more of Anne, visit her at and She writes a novel teaching class on her blog
You can buy Anne’s books at Amazon or any on-line store.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Juggling Act: Working Full-time and Writing by Amy Clipston

I have a tremendous amount of respect for authors who work other full-time jobs and still manage to keep up with writing responsibilities. Today, one of those authors, Amy Clipston, provides tips for those seeking a writing career while they work another job. -- Sandy

Amy: People often ask me, “How do you work a full-time job and write books?” I resist the urge to roll my eyes, and instead I sweetly reply, “I just make it work.”

Unlike many authors, I work a full-time for a local government, in addition to writing four books per year for HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

While other authors may write for 14 hours straight on a Monday, I pop out of bed at 5:15 a.m. and rush to a job located 20 miles from my home. Since my husband has battled chronic kidney disease and endured two kidney transplants, my family depends on the health insurance and steady pay my job provides.

Balancing two jobs has forced me to be disciplined when I am on deadline. Only once in my writing career have I asked for a deadline extension. My remaining books have been submitted to my editor either on time or early.

In order to meet my deadlines, I follow these rules:

1. Keep a calendar

I carry an old-fashioned day planner with a list of my upcoming deadlines taped in the back. Aside from the dates my books are due to my editor, I also set my own deadlines, building in time to polish the book before submitting it.

2. Stay organized

Most authors fall into one of two categories: Pantsers (seat-of-the pants writers) or Plotters. I am most definitely a plotter. When I write a novel, I begin with a synopsis, and after my editor approves it, I turn the synopsis into a detailed outline arranged by chapter and scene. While writing, I use the outline as a road map to prevent the dreaded writer’s block. The outline will change and grow while I am writing, but it keeps me on track.

3. Write whenever possible!

Some nights I write until midnight. I work on weekends, and I’ve been known to bring my laptop to Urgent Care and the Emergency Room when I’ve had to accompany a family member. It may seem trivial if you only have fifteen minutes, but even short amounts of writing time will add to your word count.

4. Ask for help

Contrary to the rumors, I’m not Super-Woman, and I can’t do it all on my own. I couldn’t balance this demanding schedule without my mother, who lives with my family and me. She keeps our household running so I can balance writing and working.

5. Find time to rest

When I need a break, I enjoy watching movies with my family, and I relish listening to audio books in my car while I commute to and from work. The downtime helps me relax and also recharges my inspiration.

6. Celebrate success

When I finish a draft of a book, I reward myself with doing something fun with my family. The journey through the first draft is mentally and physically exhausting, so I give myself time to relax and enjoy what I have accomplished.

Although working two jobs isn’t ideal and sometimes it’s no fun at all, I enjoy my reward when I hold a new book in my hands.

Even if you don't work another full-time job, how do you balance all that life and a writing career throw at you and still get in your word count goal?


Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than two dozen novels. She holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.

Amy Clipston’s current book, The Courtship Basket, is the second in her new Amish Heirloom series.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Scoop on Research by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills
Writing romantic suspense is my passion. I stay awake at night planning a story in which a strong and vibrant heroine attempts the impossible, the forbidden, or the dangerous for the good of others. She meets a hero who compliments her strengths and challenges her weaknesses. Together they take the writer and the reader on an adventure. 

However, research can be difficult, especially if I’m not familiar with the character’s profession and its rules of conduct. I educate myself through online research and the library until I have accumulated enough knowledge to contact a real person who has this profession. My goal is to pose questions during the interview that are realistic for the character in my book. Sometimes I must preface my inquiry with, “I need to know if this situation could happen, not if it has.” The answer allows me freedom to create plot twists and circumstances that add tension and conflict to my story while staying true to the character’s profession. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Friends chatting . . . or FBI special agents
tailing a bad guy

Some professions are easier to research than others. The FBI and Border Patrol want public support, and they were not only willing to help me write a credible book but patient in responding to questions. Both agencies allowed me to tour their facilities. 

The FBI offers solutions for my questions, and I’m grateful for their assistance.

Other professions involved in national security are required to keep their techniques secret. Makes sense to me. If we are to be protected from those who seek us harm, then methods must be hidden from the public. The CIA and Secret Service are two agencies that can’t reveal how we are to be kept safe. The writer is on her own to figure out how crimes are prevented and stopped. Sometimes a person in one of these fields will tell me what I’ve written is wrong. On those occasions, I become more creative in addressing a situation in my story.

The romance portion of romantic suspense has to be accurate. Some agencies frown on their employees fraternizing within their ranks. The reasons are sound. Think about a man or woman in a high-risk situation in which their priorities might be another person instead of his/her responsibilities. For a man and woman who are attracted to each other, employer guidelines might mean hiding their relationship. More juicy conflict.

Writing romantic suspense is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces have to fit in a way that is credible and in character. Every scene of the novel has to add conflict while the plot adds layers to the story problem. I encourage writers who are fascinated by romantic suspense to conduct realistic research. Book sales will grow!

How do you research your stories? We want to hear!

About the Author
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

Deadly Encounter
by DiAnn Mills
Deadly Encounter
Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston’s airport. What she encounters instead are a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man’s motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747.

Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy’s community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Taking Chances by Mary Manners

 As children, everything around us is new and we are eager to dream big, make wishes, and take chances. The night sky is alit with twinkling opportunities to boldly cast our desires to the heavens as we wish upon stars. We believe those wishes...every last dream...will come true.
As time passes and we journey into adulthood, that unbridled eagerness more often than not gives way to caution. Our untarnished wonder at all the opportunities life has to offer begins to fade. We get caught up in the everyday chores and responsibilities of adulthood, and surrender to the familiarity of a daily routine. Children need to be fed, laundry sits in unsorted heaps along the floor, and the lawn is so tall it threatens to overtake the house.
Energy is zapped; the soul cries out and creativity weeps. Who has time for wishes, dreams and taking chances?

Life goes on, and days roll into weeks and months, and sometimes even years. If and when the opportunity arises for an afternoon outside of our routine, the body is so drained than an inner battle should that time be spent?
Spend it by taking a trip back to the carefree days of childhood. Take a long walk to brush away the cobwebs from your mind and to let in the light. Savor the little things...the sweet scent of lilac, wispy cloud pictures along a cerulean sky, and the kiss of a warm breeze on your cheek.  Allow your mind to wander and dream as if you were a child again. Make a wish or two, and believe they will come true.
Then, act on those wishes and make them come true. Feel creativity return like a wash of sunlight over vast, green fields just ready for sowing. Plant seeds and watch them bloom into beautiful flowers. Then pluck a fragrant bloom or two--or an entire bouquet--and carry the blossoms home to remind you to keep a bit of childlike zest alive wish, to dream, and to never stop taking chances. 


With a father known as the town drunk and a mother who fled when he was only six, Ryder learned early on that the world can be a cold, unforgiving place. Only two people in his life have ever understood him:  "Mama" Stallings and sweet Ali Maclaren. But after a tragic accident, guilt chases Ryder from the town that's labeled him trouble, and from Ali.
Seven years later Ryder returns after Mama Stallings's death and finds that Ali is considering marriage to a man with a mean streak he masterfully hides from all but Ryder, a man who'll do whatever's necessary to remove Ryder from Willow Lake, and Ali's life, forever.
Can Ali find a way to forgive Ryder and can Ryder forgive himself before another tragedy occurs?

Mary Manners is an award-winning romance author who lives at the beautiful shores of Jax Beach with her husband, Tim. She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and ocean-blue 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, July 22, 2016

What is Truth? by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

  What is Truth?

Over the last year or so, as we watch our nation literally burn, both physically and figuratively, I’ve been wrestling with an ideal. The ideal of “truth.”

My personal dialogue comes from the conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate in John 18. By this time in the narrative, Jesus has been:

  • arrested
  • taken before Annas
  • sent to Caiaphas
  • presented to the Sanhedrin
  • accused of blasphemy
  • sentenced to death
  • sent to Pontius Pilate for execution
  • found not guilty by Pilate
  • sent to Herod Antipas for adjudication
  • sent back to Pilate for execution

Pilate still disagrees with the sentence, and decides to question Jesus privately in his palace, thus creating a very intricate conversation in John 18.

Pilate asks Jesus if He is the “King of the Jews.” Jesus responds, “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me (v. 34)?” In other words, Jesus was saying, “What do you think, Pilate? And don’t listen to the crowds. Decide for yourself.”

Pilate’s response was one of confusion in verse 35. “Am I a Jew? It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me.” Translation: “I’m not Jewish, so I don’t really care whether you are what they say you are or not. Besides, it was your fellow Jews who arrested you. Not me. Not Rome. Not even Herod Antipas. So, if you are not the king of these people, then I understand why they might be upset. However, if you are the king of the Jews, then none of this makes sense. For why would they want their king dead? By my hand, no less?”

So, in an attempt to gain understanding, Pilate asks a very interesting question. “What is it you have done?” Why does Pilate ask this? By this time in the narrative, the chief priests and ranking officials have stated twice what the indictment is. Apparently, Pilate doesn’t understand the nuances and meanings of Jewish Law. He knows the procedures, as evidenced in verse 39 when he references a Jewish custom. But he doesn’t seem to understand the concept of blasphemy, a theological term.

Jesus answers in verse 36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Did you catch all that? Jesus was saying, “If I was the kind of king you all are thinking of, my servants would wage a war, because that’s how earthly kingdoms operate. But my kingdom is different. It’s not like all the others you have known throughout the centuries. Hence, my kingship is also different.”

Pilate, still not understanding, asks, “You are a king then?” Well, yes and no, Pilate. Yes, Jesus is a king. He’s “The King, the One and Only” (John 1:1; 3:16; 14:6). Yet, the answer is also no. He’s not like Herod. Nor Rome’s Emperor. Nor the king of Persia. Or any other earthly king.

So, Jesus qualifies things for Pilate: “You are right in saying I’m a king. In fact, for this reason, I was born, and for this reason, I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Pilate’s answer is more than telling in verse 38: “What is truth?”

You see, because of sin, the world has a hard time with the truth. We all do, if we’re completely honest. It was so bad in the eyes of Pilate, he was questioning if such an ideal even existed. I don’t believe he was making some metaphysical statement here, advocating an ancient form of situational ethics. He was confused. A group of people who claimed to be God’s People were trying to kill a man named Jesus. Pilate was wrestling with their decision. He felt an innocent man was being accused of wrongdoing. At this moment in time, in his mind, to crucify Jesus was to make wrong right and right wrong. He really needed more time to investigate these claims, but the crowds were not affording him that opportunity.

However, instead of taking a stand against wrong, investigating for himself the claims of both the crowds and Jesus, and arriving at a proper decision, Pilate figuratively throws up his hands in disgust with his response in verse 38. Unwittingly, Pilate answers Jesus inquiry in verse 34 by sheepishly washing his hands of what he is now deeming a crime against an innocent man. And to add more grief to Pilate’s plate, he must now release a known murderer by the name of Barabbas.

An innocent man is to be sentenced to death. A guilty man is to be set free. Right is wrong. Wrong is right. In this kind of world, truth only exists when it benefits the deceitful and their agendas.

I believe Pilate understood this, but he took the easy road out instead of seeking a truly truthful decision. Why? Because he believes truth doesn’t exist. Otherwise, I don’t believe he would have made the decisions he did.

Ironically, The Truth was standing right in front of him, but all Pilate saw was the physical world around him, with all its troubles. And all the troubles to come, if he didn’t give in to the crowds demands.

As a writer, poignant dialogue, transfixed within a scene which captures the human condition juxtaposed against the truth is (or should be) our goal. This path may, and probably will, take us down roads we may not wish to go because they are too troubling to write. Why? One reason is because it forces us to slide our most secretive parts under the microscope of God’s Word. Then, the Word, doing its work, magnifies what we’ve rationalized in our minds to be miniscule and unpretentious into something so detailed and contradictory to our gracious facade that we want to simply write it a different way, or just wash our hands of it altogether.

Another reason is that we’re afraid the crowds will “shout us down” and threaten our livelihood. Easier to write entertaining fluff than sin-challenging stuff in a world without truth.

But I’m reminded of the simple fact that the Bible is one of a few, if not the only, historical record of kings and rulers wherein battles depict both wins and losses. The stories tell us of the good characteristics of the kings and rulers and the not-so-pleasant sides of their personalities. The accounts are even-handed. Why? Because Truth exposes the warts of sin. And truth also exposes the mercy of God. Both of which are exposed in John 18, as they are in all of scripture.

How do you show truth in your writing? How deep does it go? Does the dialogue challenge and inspire right living? Do the questions engage our spiritual side as well as our intellectual side? Do you do it justice when creating a scene in your work of fiction? Do you give the reader “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God” when you write those non-fiction books?

How do you answer Pilate’s question with your writing?

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 an 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 of 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) is scheduled for reprint with Hallway Publishing, Spring 2017. Kevin’s second book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is also scheduled for reprint this fall, with Book 2 due out later in the year. Kevin also has had articles appear 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:
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson