Monday, July 31, 2017

Fear of Opening that Edited File by Annette M. Irby

laptop and notebook on a table^

By this time tomorrow, it will be here. I’m nervous! I’m excited! I’m worried.

You see, I sent my manuscript out to have it fully critiqued/edited by a trusted fellow author. And this week, that file will return to me. So, I’m full of doubts and second-guessing myself.

I haven’t always lived in fear of the returned edited file. For the book I mention below (Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington), I had plenty of time to rework, rewrite, analyze it before it was handed over to an editor. My critique buddies and I dragged a fine-toothed comb through that story for years. So, when I handed that manuscript over, I was rather confident.

But the one I’m waiting for this week, I had only several months to write. Not years. So, what will my editor think? Did she find plot holes the size of Alaska? Did she find layered characters and believable story lines? Did my spiritual threads hold up? How “red” will the file be? See that? I’m hyperventilating again. 😉

I work on the other side of the desk as well. I edit freelance and am familiar with Tracked Changes. Really familiar. If I edit for you, I’ll mark obvious typos, but I’ll also comment on story elements that perhaps come across as unbelievable. Maybe the author jars readers out of the story by sharing his or her opinion (author intrusion). I’ll highlight that and give a suggestion for a change. Or perhaps the conflict feels contrived. I’ll probably flag that. I try to encourage my clients by sharing positive feedback, but sometimes (and this is true for me as a writer as well), there is no substitute for the tough rewrite. Once you’re through that process, though, the book will shine! Or at least, we all hope so. (Readers, writers, editors, agents, publishers, sellers.)  

So, I’m nervous. But I also trust this fellow writer. I trust her opinion. I’m willing to put in the work. Perhaps those are the keys to coping with this waiting. Because as soon as that file comes in, and I have the courage to open it, then the work begins. The deadline is approaching.

How about you? Are you ever afraid to open the edited file? Or pleasantly surprised to find very few edits? Do pages covered in comments and suggested changes scare you? Or do you dive in, eager to work through the story and polish it up?

Happy re-writing friends!

Releasing 9/1/17 from Mountain Brook Ink. The e-book pre-order link is now live. 

FLI Friday Harbor, WA
Will keeping his promise lead to another broken heart—or help them find love again? 

Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancĂ©. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. She’ll have to face her past and overcome her concerns about the future to make it through the summer. 

Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and accumulated debt. He’s hoping the incoming stodgy professor will help resurrect the failing business, but he’s not prepared when that professor turns out to be Mikaela, his former fiancĂ©e. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue her if she ever returned to the island single. The more time they spend together, the easier it is to keep that promise, though she still plans to leave at the end of the season. How much will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela?


Annette M. Irby *
Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. She likes to say she’s addicted to color as flowers and seascapes inspire her. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more here on her Seriously Write Page.

Links to connect with Annette:
Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Friends Group:

*author photo credit: Sarah Irby of Irby Photography 
^laptop photo credit: Pixabay

Friday, July 28, 2017

By-Laws, In-Laws, and Out-Laws (Exodus 18) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
Sometimes you should listen to your in-laws.

I know. It sounds like crazy talk from a madman, but it’s true. Once in a blue moon, they may come up with some good advice. Like in the case with Moses and his father-in-law Jethro, for example.

Jethro came to visit and deliver to Moses his wife and children who had been living in Midian during the period of time Moses spent being God’s mouthpiece in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Upon his arrival, he became enthralled at how God was using his son-in-law. So, he decided to stay a while and enjoy “God’s presence and bounty.”

You know how relatives are.

One day, Moses took his place in the “judgment seat” and settled disputes amongst the people from morning ‘til night. Jethro witnessed this and made a simple, but astute, observation. “Keep doing this every day, Moses, and you’ll be dead before too long. You’ll wear yourself out.”

Good advice. At that time, the Israelites numbered over 600,000. That is a lot of disputes to settle for one man.

Jethro suggested to Moses an idea to take before the Lord. “Be God’s representative before the people. Teach them His decrees and laws. Settle the big disputes, but appoint God-fearing men as judges to settle the minor cases.” In other words, Jethro suggested a court system similar to what we have today. The judges would be the lower court system, and Moses and God would be the “Supreme Court.”

Moses liked the idea and made it happen. Two chapters later, the Ten Commandments were relayed to Moses. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Relatives can help give us ideas. Sometimes, they can even be good ones.

As a writer, those relatives you see as _____________ (You fill in the adjective here) can be the idea starter for a winning character.

What about the second cousin on your mother’s side who changes jobs every six months? You know who I’m talking about. Or that uncle with the bald head, beer gut, and annoying chuckle? Uh-huh. Gets on your nerves doesn’t it? Or what about your rich cousin? How did he make his fortune?

Remember “Jailbird Joey” from Back to the Future? I bet one of the writers was thinking of a relative when that character was inserted into the McFly family. Or what about the uncle in Home Alone who never wants to pay for anything but mooches off the McAlister family every Christmas? Got one of those in your family? Or Raymond’s cousin Gerard in Everybody Loves Raymond? Do you know a Gerard? Have a Gerard? Want to unload a Gerard?

Everyone has relatives that embarrass them, make them angry, frustrate them, make them proud, or cause them to step into the bathroom when that relative is spotted coming down the hallway. You know the one. You can remember what day, which store, and what aisle it was you ducked down when that relative circled the end cap.

There’s a storyline for a character there somewhere. There are emotions, personality traits, idiosyncrasies that can be used to deepen your characters. You just have to be careful. You don’t want to make it too obvious who it is you’re writing about. Family feuds are easy enough to start. Why make it effortless?

And who knows? Maybe that creepy cousin from your step-dad’s fourth marriage—the one who dresses in black and listens to Evanesence—is writing you into his sci-fi, horror, paranormal romance novel right now.

Yeah. You know the one.

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 an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His Blake Meyer series is out! 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out Labor Day weekend! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available!

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.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Taking the High Road by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” You may remember its closing lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Often in our writing career, we come to a fork in the road, as described by Frost in his magnificent poem. One fork I call the High Road and the other fork I call the Low Road.

The High Road is the road of integrity and virtue, the road marked by obedience to God’s way of conducting our writing career. The Low Road is the road of compromise and rebellion, the road marked by disobedience to God’s way of conducting our writing career.
For example, there are times in our writing career where we may be tempted to water down the Gospel for the purpose of landing a contract. Or we may be tempted to stretch the limits of decency in the language or content of the fiction we write. Whatever the temptation, we have a choice to take the High Road or the Low Road.
Are you at a crossroads in your writing career now?  Are you trying to decide which road to take as you move forward in your journey? Are you being tempted to compromise God’s Word for the sake of a sale? If so, I urge you to take the High Road, the road marked by integrity and virtue. The road that will not allow compromise for the purpose of success.
The road that glorifies God.
And that will make all the difference not only in your writing, but also in your life.
Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the
Christian Authors’ Network (CAN) blog.
Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of riveting fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest release, A Sicilian Farewell, is Book 2 in the Italian Chronicles Trilogy. The idea that sparked the trilogy was an event in the life of MaryAnn’s paternal great-great-grandmother. Book 1 of the trilogy, The Madonna of Pisano, was released in 2015. Book 3, Return to Bella Terra, will be released in December 2017, Lord willing.

When not writing, MaryAnn loves to read, paint, and play the piano and cello. She resides in New Jersey with her husband of 47 years. They are blessed with two precious adult daughters and five rambunctious grandchildren. You can learn more about MaryAnn and her writing at

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Beating Writer's Block by Toni Shiloh

There comes a time in every writer’s life where they experience writer’s block. It’s the bane of our existence. So how do we press through it?

Pray. Regardless if I have writer’s block or not, I pray. But when my brain comes up empty as I’m staring at a blank laptop screen or staring at the lack of words being added, I start sending prayers upward left and right. I ask for prayers from my critique partners, street team, family members, etc. I tell the Lord what frustrates me and talk through the story with Him. I also open my ears to His response.

Read. Reading is great inspiration. Sometimes we read a story and our brain automatically figures out what works and what doesn’t. Believe it or not, that helps us when we write our own story. Sometimes, our brain just needs to switch creative outlets. Reading will relax the brain and take away the stress of staring at the blank screen.

Explore. Often times we have to explore other adventures to throw our characters into. Have you upped the ante enough? Is there goal too easily attainable at the moment? If so, explore ways you can make their life difficult and ultimately, add words to the screen.

Seek. Seek advice from other writers. A writer friend maybe able to offer you minutes of brainstorming or a solution to a scene you’re stuck on. Don’t be afraid to utilize your resources.

Sit. Last, sit and write. Remember, you do this to glorify God and He will show up.

What tips do you have to beat writer’s block?


Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.
You can find her on her website at

Finding Love 

Delaney Jones has finally started to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after the death of her husband, Parker. Just as she adjusts to a new normal, in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. When she finally makes the decision to trust him, the world deals her a heavy blow.

Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson can’t get over his part in the death of Delaney’s husband. Hoping to assuage his guilt, he offers to lend a hand. He never counted on the feelings she evokes with just a smile. Will his secrets widen the gulf, or will he finally find absolution?

Buy links –

Social media links –

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

On My Way to Becoming a Writer by Angela Arndt

Once Upon a Time

Do you love fairy tales? I do. Those four little words to start the cinema in my mind every time. I love to journey along with the hero, whether it was up the bean stalk or over the raging sea. 
Once Upon a Time

As a child, I wrote a few poems and stories but I could draw better. 

I Had Plans

Ever hear what Robert Burns said about the best-laid plans of mice and men? Mine went haywire too. After I graduated, I took my shiny new art degree and sent out one hundred resumes. Only one person answered. After the interview, she said I should go back to college. Evidently, companies wanted people who knew computer programs and I'd only taken one computer course. 

Eventually I got my Masters in education and became a corporate trainer. Meeting new people was fun and I loved watching them "get it." Soon I was promoted to curriculum writer, writing the training manuals for customer service reps to use the company's computer programs. 

Until One Day

If you've visited my website, you know I have physical challenges. These began to show up around this time. Soon I knew I wouldn't be able to stand for long hours in the classroom or sit for long periods at a desk, so I prayed for guidance.

That's when I saw the Writers’ Digest magazine with an ad for the Christian Writers Guild. It said, “Write Your Story.” That phrase woke something up in my heart. I knew then that I wanted to write stories to stir my readers’ hearts.

I Took the First Step

I began going to conferences and wrote a never-see-the-light-of-day mystery. After spending too much time trying to make it work, my lovely mentor (just like a fairy godmother) convinced me to start over. 

It wasn't until I began a new story, a new genre, and a new writing routine that things began to click. 

With the help of my fantastic support group: my mentor, a wise critique partner, and two faithful craft and accountability partners, my story began to make sense.

With their encouragement, I entered my story in contests. Lots of contests. At first my results were awful and I was discouraged. But my team convinced me to consider the feedback. If it made sense, I made changes. If it didn't, I threw it away. If I wasn't sure, I tried the suggestions to see if it worked.

I made my heroine stronger and upped the stakes. My characters became more real, the story stronger. I started placing in the contests. It was finally ready to submit.

You Can Be a Writer, Too

Even though I've typed, "The End" on my first book for now, my journey has just begun. Every writer is different but each needs a support groups. Successful writers never stop learning. And they always keep writing, no matter what.

If you're writing, what started you on your journey? If not, what's stopping you? 

About the Author
Angela Arndt writes stories about strong, independent women in difficult situations, stories with a thread of romance set in small Southern towns. She hopes they encourage others to overcome their own “back roads.” 
Angela Arndt

Read from Angela at her blog, Joy on the Back Roads or connect with her on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Living the Dream by Mary Manners

 Living the Dream

by Mary Manners
Tomorrow morning before the sun rises I will board the Megabus to Orlando, Florida for the Romance Writers of America National conference. It has been eleven years since I last had the privilege of attending, and so very much has changed during the course of those years!
Eleven years ago I was an unpublished,  aspiring writer with very little idea of how the publishing world worked. I was working a full-time teaching job and raising my daughter. Life was hectic and I stayed up into the wee hours of the night to carve out precious writing time. I heard about RWA and joined, then saw that Nora Roberts was going to be at the conference. I have always loved her writing style, so, with stars in my eyes, I went to meet her. I also met so many friendly, gracious, and helpful aspiring and seasoned writers who shared invaluable information. I learned so much, and was filled with immeasurable hope that I could make my dream of becoming a professional author come true.

Now, as I prepare to return to the conference, I am retired from my day job. With more than fifty published books and novellas under my belt, I am living the dream as a full-time author. But I know there is still so much to learn. I am ready to spend time with my treasured friend and fellow writer Marianne Evans, network with writing friends and industry professionals, and soak up as much information as I possibly can. Who knows what the next eleven years might bring? the next adventure!


When a job transfer causes Jenna Palmer’s family to relocate across the country, Jenna moves away from her best friend and first love Carter Stevens. She promises to find him again. But as the years slip away and she dives into a career in pediatric trauma surgery, all that is left of her one time love are the memories—and a wish on the lucky penny Carter gave her.
Carter Stevens never forgot his first love. On their final morning together he gave her a special token along with his promise to love her forever. Though years have passed as he’s climbed the ranks of the Maple Ridge Police Department, he still longs for another glimpse of the smiling, green-eyed beauty who stole his heart and shared his love of adventure.
An accident brings the pair together once again, and memories and reality collide. Can their promise stand, or will time crush their promise…and their love?
MARY MANNERS is an award-winning author who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing.  A former teacher and intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning. While growing up in Chicago Mary worked a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, lifeguard, and nanny. Many of these enriching and challenging experiences led to adventures that add a touch of humor to her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee.
Connect with Mary at her website: “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.