Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It’s YOUR Journey! By Carole Brown

In writing, we don't start off at our destination. It is a journey with lots of discoveries along the way. Author Carole Brown provides a few tips for enjoying that journey. -- Sandy

Carole: One of the toughest things an author needs to learn pronto once you decide to “write,” is to be true to yourself and your writing. How can you do this? Here are a few tips that will help guide you to your writing journey:

  • Discover what type of writing you do. Sound simple? It’s not always so cut and dry, but can be done, in a general way if not specific. For instance, when I wrote my debut novel, I had no idea what genre it was. But a smart agent I talked with labeled it aptly. Women’s fiction with strong elements of suspense and romance. He’d hit the nail on the head, so to speak, because that’s exactly what my book was.
Two more examples:
Say you write suspense, but put in healthy dosages of romance within your pages. That points strongly toward a romantic suspense genre.

With my latest series, my editor suggested it matched a romantic mystery type of book, each element half.

Once you get into the swing of it, you’ll find it fairly easy to label the type of writing or books you do.

  • Realize that your writing is unique and personal. Don’t try to imitate others’ works. Study, learn from the experience of other writers, but never compare yourself or your writing to their books, their ability or how many books they’ve published or how many awards they’ve won.

Realize, too, that whether your journey is quiet, seemingly unnoticeable by the many, or filled with excitement of awards and recognition, it’s YOUR journey. Make the most of it.

  • If you write inspirational, then seek God’s direction for your work. Allow him to use your talent the way he has planned for you. Don’t hesitate or bulk or whine, but yield yourself to his plan. It will be worth it and so much more satisfying when you accept that God will bless your labors and make them fruitful as he wills.

Not only will you have God’s blessing upon your books, but the joy and peace will remain. Notice, I didn’t say you won’t be stumped or discouraged or stressed. We can feel all those emotions, but when we turn our eyes back onto our God, and accept anew his plan for our unique writing journey, the peace and joy will resurrect again.

I’ve always believed that people should do what they love. And if you are following YOUR journey and know you want/need to write, then you’ll face the struggles and discouragement so much easier.


  • Discover your writing genre and nuances.
  • ŸSteer clear of comparison.
  • Yield to God’s plan for your personal and unique journey.
 That’s the key to a wonderful writing life.

Happy traveling! 

What is your best tip for enjoying the writing life? 



Besides being an active participant of many writing groups, Carole enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance and whimsy into her books, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What State Do You Live In? by Laura V. Hilton

As I write this, we are just coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday. I will not lie. This year, Thanksgiving wasn’t the same. We were missing our Coastie. He is stationed on the opposite side of the country from us.
Laura V. Hilton

But despite the empty place at the table, we have so much to be thankful for.

There is a song, Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me penned by the Easters.

The chorus goes like this:

“There's a roof up above me

I've a good place to sleep

There's food on my table

And shoes on my feet

You gave me your love, Lord

And a fine family

Thank you, Lord

For your blessings on me!”

If you haven’t heard it, before, check it out at

Philippians 4:11 (KJV) says:

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Paul reminds us that despite the bad things, the sad things, the storms in life, that we can find something to be thankful for.

Those of you who are facing the holidays without loved ones, for whatever reason, let's focus on the blessings that God has provided.

If you still have family nearby, hug them and tell them you love them.

And those of you who are separated from your loved ones, you’re in my prayers.

To be continued. . .

About the Author
Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and three of their children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom, and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Laura also has two adult children.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series withWhitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard, and The Bird House in September 2015. See below for information on Laura's latest, The Amish Firefighter. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Connect with Laura
visit her blogs: &
Twitter: or @Laura_V_Hilton

Amish Firefighter
by Laura V. Hilton

A Beautiful Young Woman Banished from Home
Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she'd never heard about, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She's desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody's making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn't seem willing to help.

A Brave Firefighter with an Agenda of His Own

Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a doctor-in-training. When local barn fires escalate, everyone suspects arson. And since the Miller family are among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam.

A Kindled Flame Neither One Could Have Anticipated
When their paths first cross, at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warmth of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or extinguish. And they'll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Lights by Mary Manners

Christmas Lights


By Mary Manners


It's that time of year again...a time for holiday baking and decorating, Christmas carols and lists for Santa, shopping, shopping, and...more shopping??
When the subject of Christmas gifts comes up, most people think of packages wrapped in colorful paper and shimmery bows, sitting under the Christmas tree, just waiting to be opened.

When I think of Christmas gifts, I think of my dad, who passed away fifteen years ago this holiday season. He was a man of many gifts, including the joy he shared for the traditions of Christmas.

Dad loved light—especially the light that brightened a fresh-cut pine tree in honor of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each December first, like clockwork, Dad piled his family—all seven of us—into our Chevy station wagon and drove us to the tree lot where, shivering in the Chicago-winter cold, we oohed and aahed over each and every tree until we found the perfect one.

Once home, with the tree safely arranged in a metal stand and watered, Dad climbed the ladder to our attic (a mysterious place, indeed) where the Christmas lights were stored. He’d lower the battered cardboard box (re-used, season after season) to the floor below and dust it off.

Then my brother and sisters—five of us—gathered ’round him in the living room and waited, eyes huge with wonder, as he carefully unraveled the strands of lights and tested each one. No matter how stubborn the bulbs, dad always managed to get them working.

Beautiful, vibrant colors turned the room to a kaleidoscope, dancing over walls and windows with the feel of winter magic. One by one, my siblings and I each took the place of honor beside Dad, helping him to adorn the tree with light. Pine sap clung to our fingers, but we didn’t care. All the while, our hearts soared with happiness and child-like wonder.

Finally, dad gently gathered the Christmas star from the box. Hushed with awe, we waited while Dad chose one of us to hoist to his shoulders for the greatest thrill—placing the treasured beacon of light—the Baby Jesus Star—atop the highest limb. Somehow, Dad always sensed who needed that extra touch of attention, and there was never any argument.

With the lights in place (just in time for nightfall—always) we circled the tree and held hands to sing Silent Night. In the earliest years, the tune didn’t always carry and the words were sometimes off, but Dad didn’t care. He knew we understood what the tree—and especially the lights—symbolized…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. The most wonderful gift of all!
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She has two sons and a daughter, as well as three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades teaching math and English to students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as a student at the University of Illinois, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that may be found between the pages of her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs—she’s completed three marathons—ocean sunsets and flavored coffee.
Find out more about Mary on her website: “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
When Emilee Lancaster’s aunt calls her home to Hope Creek for the holidays, Emmy readily agrees to assist with a charity event at the family theater—until she finds herself front-and-center stage with her high school flame, Jayson Taylor. She’s not thrilled about the pairing, but she’s made a promise to her aunt, and unlike Jayson, she keeps her promises.
Jayson Taylor makes his living building sets for Dahlia Brewster's Family Theater. When the Christmas show's emcee falls ill, Dahlia asks Jayson to step from the backstage and into the limelight. He's more comfortable working behind the scenes, but the country-singing superstar has always treated him like a favorite son, so Jayson reluctantly agrees. Center-stage at Christmas—especially beside dream-chasing Emmy Lancaster, who once ran off and broke his heart—is not where he planned to be.
But God has other plans, and what happens when the curtain falls and the stage lights dim truly reflects the heart of this holiday season.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Blooming Where We Are Planted by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

“I want to write full-time.”

“Oh, how I wish I could write all day long.”

“I’d write more if the day job didn’t get in the way.”

Ever utter these kinds of words? I would wager there are few if any writers out there who haven’t at some point in their life. Some writers are fortunate enough to realize those dreams. Others, not-so-much.

But are we less fortunate?

I had a birthday recently. Over half the student body wished me a happy birthday as they passed me in the halls, saw me in the cafeteria, or in a classroom. As an assistant principal, it meant a lot, because I’m usually viewed as the “bad guy” (it’s an occupational hazard).

Then, I received a letter from an 8th grade girl. The letter wished me well on this day of my birth. But it also said so much more.

The young lady thanked me for being there for her, looking out for her, urging her to strive harder to make the very best life she can muster at this precarious age, and believing in her.

As I read the letter, it reminded me of another one I received several years ago from a troubled young lady at the high school where I began my administrative career. It too spoke of how I was the only person who listened to her, showed that I cared for her by holding her accountable, even though she was making a tough choice to drop out of school. I would later see her in another setting where she beamed of great joy at the telling of how she had gone back to school, received her GED, and had been accepted into a college down south. She was chasing dreams, and she reminded me it was my encouragement that set her on this path.

I often get discouraged at this career we call “writing.” It’s an up and down, roller-coaster, whirlwind kind of life that has its own peaks and valleys to say the least. However, in the midst of crafting a tale about some fictional characters, are we blooming where we are planted to make a difference in the lives of real people?

I hope we are.

As we enter into the season of giving, may He who gave us life everlasting help us bloom into abundant trees bearing good fruit (Colossians 1:9-14).

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 a second edition Oct. 2016, with Book 2 coming soon. 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