Thursday, August 31, 2017

Changing Hearts, Not Circumstances by Jenna Victoria

Please welcome Jenna Victoria to Seriously Write today. She saved my bacon by filling in at the last moment and today Jenna is sharing her thoughts on her life hymn, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart. Take it away Jenna!
As background, the text of this hymn was written by Anglican Minister George Croly, born in 1780 and who successfully ministered to churches in the slums of London for fifty-odd years. He wrote many similar compositions and published a collection in 1854 entitled Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship but almost every copy of that book burned in a London fire.
The hymn survived, thankfully, and calls for us to love God fully, something only achieved by asking Him to change our hearts, not our circumstances.
I’ve been a Christian since adolescence and I lovingly jumped into a “Jesus & me” relationship with both feet. Through the death of a four year old sibling, my parent’s divorce, dementia of a prayer warrior grandmother and ordinary life hardships – my saving relationship with Jesus did bring me strength and comfort.
My faith, though, was a baby faith. I never committed to studying God’s word and rarely prayed asking His spirit to descend upon my heart.

I had plenty of basic “head”  knowledge and I was saved and redeemed and it was enough. I thought.
My first breast cancer diagnosis, at Stage III,  in 2012 meant chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
When my cancer quickly returned and spread to Stage IV after supposed “successful” treatment my faith did not waiver but I discovered it was a “head” faith, not a full-on “heart” faith. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a form of super aggressive cancer found in 18-20% of patients and typically turns metastatic and affects other organs quickly. I started to feel uncertainty and anxiety.
The Bible promises that if we draw nearer to God, He will draw near to us. I took that promise literally and began to listen to Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart on repeat on my iPod. Croly’s words brought home the truth that seeking God through the cross is the pathway to finding God’s presence. In other words, we find God especially close to us when we partake in suffering as Jesus suffered.
The song also encourages us in times of unanswered prayer. Faith is not found in days filled with chocolates and roses. It is found in days of desolation. Despite my incurable diagnosis and the medical necessity of ongoing IV chemotherapy every 21 days indefinitely – my “head” faith slowly, over time, changed into a “head & heart” faith.
I realized one morning I consistently experience joy and contentment within my situation – the type of peace described in Philippians 4:7.
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (KJV)
I am in awe at God’s love and faithfulness. I know the unceasing prayers of Christian authors, family and friends helped, but Croly, too, explains this transformation in his last stanza:  “Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, One holy passion filling all my frame; The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.” (Public Domain).
Despite the lack of “feeling” I kept drawing near to God. I prayed consistently for Him to “teach me” to love Him as the angels love. I downloaded & listened to dozens of sermon podcasts and fed my faith meat, not milk. Faith isn’t a feeling, it is sustained belief when circumstances are dark and emotions are dry.
In my recent release, Love Among the Lilacs, a sweet romance, the heroine Mollie learns that amidst tough times “life needs forgiveness to bloom.”
When we concentrate on Godly heart changes such as love, forgiveness and gratefulness – the Spirit of God *will* descend upon us. He’s promised it.
I thank God for my diagnosis every day. Without it, I would never have experienced this peace that surpasses understanding and a spirit of joy despite my trials.
I pray the same peace for you.

Book Blurb:
Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?

Jenna Victoria Bio: Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked.

Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.

Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation, reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books that give Him glory.

Connect with Jenna on social media and her blogs:
Amazon Author Page
Blog – Bookish By Design
Book Review Blog

This post first appeared on Faith Writes, Musical Wednesdays

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Plan B by Patricia Bradley

Writers have complete control of their stories. Right?

If you answered yes, then you’ve never had a character refuse to cooperate, or a story you have plotted out (Justice Buried) take a detour. Most of the time when this happens, I go with the flow, but with the plotted out story, I had a potential disaster on my hands. You see, I kind of left heroine Andi Hollister hanging in the first book of my cold case novels, Justice Delayed.

She had a problem with pain medication and at the end of that first book I gave her a superficial recovery. I planned to further address her addiction to pain pills in Justice Buried (which releases September 5, 2017), with a subplot. But that’s when things went awry.

The heroine and the storyline of Justice Buried didn’t cooperate. I did make a few references to Andi in the story, but I never could work it around to flesh out her story. And it kept bugging me.

And in case you’ve ever wondered how writers decide what they’ll write next, an unfinished storyline might be an influence. When Jan Thompson asked if I wanted to be a part of The Kill Zone: Ten Deadly Thrillers anthology, I quickly said yes! Writing the novella turned out to be the perfect answer.

Writing Andi’s story in the novella also freed me to write the third book in the Memphis Cold Case Novels without trying once again to work Andi’s subplot into that book.

And most people think writing is easy.  

Which brings me to the second part of my post. Why didn’t I finish Andi’s story in the first place? Because life happened.

Andi’s story, Justice Delayed, was due in November. I was working diligently toward that deadline when my nephew had to be airlifted to Memphis. I spent the next month off and on at the hospital with him and my sister. A lot of authors can write through difficult situations, but I’m not one of them. Not in the creative phase of writing, anyway. Editing, yes.

When my wonderful editor offered an extension, I gratefully accepted. My nephew remained critically ill in the hospital until a month after I turned the book in, so it was still difficult to focus. I spent a lot of time on my knees (figuratively since I have bad knees) praying for him and writing Justice Delayed, asking God for the next sentence, next paragraph, next page. I honestly don't know how any author writes without God’s help. I turned Justice Delayed in at midnight the day it was due, knowing it wasn’t quite finished.

With Revenge, Andi’s story is now complete, and you can read it in The Kill Zone: Ten Deadly Thrillers when it releases October 3, 2017. Later it will be available as a stand-alone story on Amazon.

And now you’ve had a peek into this writer’s life. I’d like to say Justice Buried went off without a hitch, but of course it didn't. Life happened again, and my nephew ended up in Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis where he coded three times before finally turning the corner. But that’s a story for another time. I will say he is home now and improving every day.

Have you ever experienced a time when the story wouldn't come the way you anticipated? What did you do about it?


I love connecting with readers on my blog every Tuesday where I have a Mystery Question for them to solve:
Twitter: @ptbradley1

Winner of the 2016 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty, Suzy. Her romantic suspense books include the Logan Point series and the Memphis Cold Case Novels. She also has written sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming available as ebooks. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Story Behind "Life in Chapel Springs"

People ask me what prompted this story. Why Lacey? Why the accident and reconstruction? To be honest, the answer is the character herself.
Ane Mulligan

I’m a visual writer, so I need photos. When I start out, I find photos of people who look like the character I’m imagining. I find most of my characters in magazines and keep files of faces I’ve torn out of them. While looking for Lacey, I came across two photos looking like a before and after of the same woman.

The resemblance was striking and sparked the “what if” that became Lacey’s story. Many women have life-altering surgery, whether elective, emergency, or life-saving. Often—more often than not—they have a difficult time with the results. A high percentage dislikes the “new” self. It doesn’t match the image we women tend to carry inside us.

My research and interviews included a plastic surgeon and a psychologist, so I could be sure I had the psyche right and the surgery results correct. I still had one problem. The character Lacey was a shy quiet young woman, so shy and quiet, she wasn’t even talking to me! I had to sit on her story for three years.

Finally, after two more Chapel Springs series books, Lacey “talked” to me. I understood her and could write her story. Maybe she was ready to tell it, but what we both hope women will take away from her story in Life in Chapel Springs is that each of us is uniquely made by God, and as Great Aunt Lola used to say, “God don’t make no junk.”

About the Author
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, award-winning author Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), CEO of a Community Theatre group, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband. You can find her on her website, Amazon Author page, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Life in Chapel Springs
by Ane Mulligan

Life in Chapel Springs
Life in Chapel Springs has turned upside down and inside out.

Shy Lacey Dawson was happily writing murder mysteries for the community theater with her eye on Broadway. Then, a freak accident results in traumatic injuries requiring facial reconstruction. When the bandages come off, Lacey’s world is turned inside out. Will Chapel Springs rally behind its own … or will life unravel?

Is it a midlife pregnancy or … cancer? Claire will keep her secret until she’s sure—but it isn’t easy. Neither is trying to buy a home pregnancy test without anyone finding out. Between her twins’ double wedding, the canceling, a looming nationwide art tour and her health, Claire’s life is upside down.

Gold has been discovered in Chapel Springs and the ensuing fever is rising. Then Mayor Riley discovers someone has bought the mineral rights to his land. A stranger and his nefarious investors set out to buy all the homes in Chapel Springs and mine the gold. Will life in Chapel Springs become the tailings of a gold mine?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Staying Focused by Mary Manners

Staying Focused

by Mary Manners

I began my writing journey when I was a very young child, not even yet old enough to form real written words. My earliest memory is a vision of me standing beside the dryer in the basement of my Chicago home, scribbling lines across a piece of paper to 'tell my story'. I still remember the warmth of summer sun through the window, the scent of laundry soap and slow hum of the machine's motor as it tumbled a load of clothes. 'Writing' brought such joy and I was eager to share.
It's hard to believe that was half-a-century ago. Before TV remotes, cable television, the Internet, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, and laptops with pop-up ads. Before distractions. My family of seven had not yet even ventured into the world of call waiting. I don't know about you, but that was an easier, simpler time in my writing world. A trip to the store for a new notebook brought a trill of excitement. Crisply-sharpened pencils made my nerve endings hum and my heart soar. Free time was spent writing, not trolling social media for the latest news and the best meat loaf recipe.

Staying focused on the art of writing is a lot harder in today's world. Time-suckers that were once non-existent are now everyday stumbling blocks. It's easy to get swept into the tide. So I tackle the ever-present pull with a time management strategy that begins each day with a list of goals. These range from simple (reply to emails) to complex (proof a book, write five-thousand words). I chunk my goals and put social media and other distractions off limits until that chunk is checked off the list. Not a complicated strategy, but it works. I stay focused on what's most important--getting words on the page. Pursuing my dream. Writing. 
Claire McLaughlin, weary of running a corporate rat-race, dreams of pursuing her passion to bake sweet confections. So when former college roommate Lila Brooks asks for her help with catering services at Diamond Knot Dreams Bridal Boutique, Claire grabs the invitation with both hands.

Ryan Kendrick has returned home to Clover Cove to raise his step-brother following the death of their grandmother. Hired to renovate the Town Square, he rents office space on the second floor of Diamond Knot Dreams and soon succumbs to talented Claire McLaughlin’s sweet confections—as well as the blue-eyed beauty herself.

As their romance blooms, so do the shenanigans of Diamond Knot Dreams' meddling spirit, Ellie. Will her antics help to draw Claire and Ryan closer together, or bring the blossoming romance to a grinding halt?
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher and intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning. While growing up in Chicago, Mary worked her way to college through a variety of odd jobs including paper girl, hot dog vendor, grocery store cashier, lifeguard, swim instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that bring a touch of humor to her stories.
Mary’s writing has earned her multiple awards including a two-time Inspirational Reader’s Choice award, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, the Aspen Gold, the Heart of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.
Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee. She recently conquered her fear of heights (sort of) by completing the Gate River Run over downtown Jacksonville’s bridges last spring.
Connect with Mary at her website:

Friday, August 25, 2017

If the Bible was Submitted for Publication… (1 Samuel 31) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
I attended a Christian writers conference a few years ago. It was the first one for me. They had a contest wherein writers who wished to do so could submit the first three chapters of a manuscript prior to the conference. The submissions were subsequently handed off to faculty members when they arrived. The manuscripts samples were read, scored, and were given back to the attendees when they registered. The winners in each category were honored on the last evening of the conference.

I thought to myself, “My writing is pretty tight. I have a good chance.” So, I paid my contest fee, sent in my first three chapters, and waited. 

When I arrived at the conference, I received my manuscript packet. Inside, my three chapters were stapled together with a cover sheet from the editor of a publishing house who was charged with the reading of my work. This editor—being honest, I’m sure—wrote on the form, in the comment section these words: “Not suited for Christian market. Submit to general market.”

As you can imagine, I walked away a little discouraged. Borderline depressed, actually. What I thought was good writing for the CBA market had just been annihilated in nine words. As I walked away, I wondered why I was there. If my work is not suited for the CBA, then why stay at a Christian writers conference?

I wanted a reason. A note. A critique of how this conclusion was reached. But there were no comments about the level of the writing itself. No words of encouragement. No critique whatsoever. Just the editor’s name, the publishing house represented, and the comment.

Because there was no reason given, I had to speculate, and that’s the worst thing to do when you’re depressed and discouraged. I concluded that people having affairs and subsequently getting eaten by giant sea serpents didn’t fit the scope of the bonnet and buggy crowd. And, I thought, because this editor only got to read the first three chapters and not the entire manuscript, the redeeming value of the story was missed.

Now, here I sit, reading the last chapter in 1 Samuel. A book in the Bible, no less. And the gore depicted in this story rivals, probably exceeds, anything I’ve written.

This chapter describes the demise of King Saul. The Philistines had already killed his sons, and now, Saul asks his armor-bearer to “run him through” with his sword so that his enemies cannot torture him. Saul’s armor-bearer refuses, so Saul takes his own sword and commits suicide. Terrified, the armor-bearer does the same thing.

The carnage didn’t stop there. The Philistines went through the region, occupying towns and taking any and all possessions. They even raided the dead bodies fallen on the battlefield. When they come across King Saul and his three sons, they stripped them of their armor, then beheaded Saul’s dead body. They sent news via messengers throughout the land, no doubt, using Saul’s head as the proverbial king’s seal of authenticity.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Saul’s armor was taken, along with his body, to the Philistine temple of Ashtoreth. There, his armor was put in the temple (v. 10). And to top it all off, Saul’s body was fastened to the wall as a sign to the worshippers that Ashtoreth was supposedly greater than the God of Israel.

This was reprehensible to the people of Jabesh Gilead, so they entered the temple, removed Saul’s body, burned it, and then buried the bones (vv. 11-12).

I guess God should have written this for the general market.

Oh, wait. He did.


And therein lies the rub.

As a writer, it’s easy to write Christian novels that ooze with Christianese and always end “happily ever after.” Everybody gets saved, finds God, gets filled with the Holy Spirit, wins the girl of his dreams, finds the man of her dreams, or whatever. When I say “easy,” I mean Christian publishers always look for these kinds of stories because they sell. But interestingly enough, that’s not how the Bible was written. Yes, there are the romantic suspense stories of the Ruths of the Bible. There are the dramatic stories of the Marys. However, the Bible doesn’t contain those kind of stories only. God chose to write stories depicting people, godly people at times, with all their spiritual warts, psychological scars, and psychopathic tendencies. Sometimes, committing horrendous atrocities.

And the most important thing to remember is that God wrote the Bible so that others could be saved.

Imagine that. People can get saved reading about violence and sin…so long as the violence has a redeeming purpose and sin is sin.

So, for those of you who write stories that don’t involve Amish women or historical figures of the wild west who hate each other in the beginning (but you know they’ll end up together), take heart. There is a place for your story in the plan of God…so long as there is a redeeming purpose in the pages. So, be patient and keep writing. God will take care of the rest.

Oh, and by the way, about those first three chapters I mentioned earlier…they were the first three chapters of my debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp. This novel won the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference’s 2013 Selah Award for Fiction-First Novel and was a finalist in Foreword Review’s 2012 Book of the Year Awards in the Science Fiction category.

A publisher picked it up at that same conference referenced above.

It was a good thing I stayed, huh?

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, August 24, 2017

I Love Reading! by Terri Weldon

I love books! It doesn’t matter if it’s a novella, a short story, a 60,000 word romance, or a 400 page blockbuster. I’ll read romance, cozy mysteries, heart stopping suspense, young adult, speculative fiction, or a host of other genres. And while I predominantly read CBA books I love good ABA books as well. If it has words sandwiched between a front and back cover then I’ll read it. So today I thought it would be fun to talk about reading books because most the writers I know love to read.

Books have been some of my favorite friends from the time I was a young girl. The Boxcar Children, Pippi Longstocking, and Cherry Ames, are titles I remember reading as a child. I’m the youngest in my family and it wasn’t long before I branched out and began reading the titles my older sisters read. I think reading those books at a young age stretched my reading ability and strengthened my vocabulary. Sure, I probably read a few things I shouldn’t have, but I survived. 

Two of my sisters read Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Romances. Be still my heart. When I began reading Harlequins I found an endless supply of books to devour. I loved those books! Carole Mortimer wrote books about 18 year old girls and as a young teen I could identify with them. And Janet Dailey, I couldn’t wait to see what state she had written about every month. I fell in love with Travis from A Land Called Deseret
As time went on new publishers and authors emerged – Diana Palmer, Elizabeth Lowell, Anne Stuart, and Stephanie James. This was before I discovered Christian fiction. Oh, but when the short lived line of Inspiration Romances came out I devoured them and mourned when the line went under. Later, to my utter delight Harlequin started the Love Inspired line. It was while reading Love Inspired that I first dreamed of becoming a Christian Romance author. 
When I discovered Christian Romantic Suspense I found my heart’s desire. Terri Blackstock, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, and Lynette Eason have provided me with countless hours of reading enjoyment. To date I have only published romances, but I’m busy working away on suspense novels. 
Even while writing I love to read. I’m reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on my lunch hour at work, I just finished reading House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker and On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen. Currently I have two books going at home – Innocent Lies by Robin Patchen and The Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight. Innocent Lies isn’t currently for sale, I’m fortunate to get to do an early read. But the first three books in the series are available. 
Oh, and I can’t forget Debbie Macomber. I just reread one of her older titles and have a new hardback on my night stand. I adore Debbie’s writing. 
Well, I’ve talked long enough about my reading habits. How about you? If you’re a writer, who or what did you read that inspired you to become an author? If you’re a reader, share some things you love and some things you hate that authors do. And whether you are a reader or a writer I hope you’ll tell me what you are currently reading.
Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an award winning author by night. Her novella The Christmas Bride Wore Boots won the best novella category in the 2016 Lyra Awards. She enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, spending time with her family, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in the Heartland of the United States. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA. She is a member of the Seriously Write Team ( Readers can connect with Terri at

A Match Made in Sheffield by Terri Weldon— Natalie Benton bounced from one foster home to another until she landed on Ellie Alexander’s doorstep. Natalie’s vagabond childhood caused her to yearn for a secure life, which led to Natalie’s five-year plan: complete her law degree, marry the perfect man, become a partner at Montgomery, Haynes, and Preston, and produce one child. Getting arrested wasn’t in Natalie’s plan. Needing a public defender wasn’t in her plan. Falling for Grady Hunter, her public defender, definitely wasn’t in her plan. Can Grady convince Natalie there is more to life than her five-year plan? Is Ellie the only one who sees a future for Natalie and Grady?

Buy Links
Amazon Kindle & Print: 
Nook, iBooks & Kobo:
Barnes & Noble Print:  



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Puzzling It Out One Piece at a Time By Pam Hillman

Each story idea starts with one tiny little puzzle piece. Just one.

A word, a photo of days gone by, a scent, a location, an event. Before The Promise of Breeze Hill became the full-fledged novel that it is now, it was just a single thought to write about an indentured servant.

And, since I like to put a bit of a twist on my stories, I wanted the hero to be the one who was placed in this situation. Why? Fish out of water, maybe. Or having a character who can’t walk away, but then later doesn’t want to walk away.

To make matters worse, let’s indenture the poor guy to the heroine, and something in his past makes this a really bad thing. I just kept tightening the ropes on him. I also wanted my indentured servant to be an alpha male, with a take-charge attitude. More thinking outside the box made Connor a man who has already served a forced seven year indenture, but willingly indentures himself to help bring his brothers from Ireland.

Fairly quickly in this process, I made the decision to move the story to the late 1700s, early 1800s at the latest as indentured servants weren’t that common in the 19th century. Not completely unheard of, but not the time period we first think of for indentured servants. So, the 18th century is a departure for me as all my other published works fall between 1850-1890. How my hero ended up being Irish, I’ll not be knowing. It just is.

Then I needed to decide where to set this indentured servant story. More than likely, we think of indentured servants as in the New England states, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, etc. But I’m from the South, and New Orleans and Natchez are two of the oldest cities in the new world, so it made sense to plop my characters on my home turf.

What would make Connor so adverse to being under the thumb of a woman? What baggage and problems can I throw at Isabella Bartholomew?

The story just keeps growing, one puzzle piece at a time. And it started with the germ of an idea to write about an alpha male indentured servant.

How do you go about putting all the puzzle pieces together for your story?


CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

11 Steps in the Writing Process by Robin E. Mason

Robin E. Mason
I did it all backward. I wrote a book and then I started blogging, “I’ve been thrown in the deep end. Of a deep ocean. In a tidal wave. And all I want to do is write my stories. (Well, and get people to read them.) Write a bio, they say. What do you want to know? I ask. I write. It's what I do.”

Honestly, I had no clue. No idea what I was doing and no idea what I needed to be doing. I floundered along, hit-n-miss, trying to make my way.

That was three years ago, and although I’m far from expertise level, I have learned much in that time. Here is my process:

  1. Know your story. Planner or pantser, you have to know where your story is going—so you know when you get there.
  2. Write. Commit to writing regularly. I am home most every day, and have more time to write than one who works outside the home, and/or has children and/or spouse clamoring for attention.
  3. Research. Whether historical or not, none of us is expert in everything. There is always something, some detail, to discover.
  4. Keep Notes. You need fastidious notes. Character sketches and details, events and plot developments. Saves time later.
  5. Edit. No matter your ability with grammar, hire an editor. No one doesn’t make mistakes, and no one can catch them all. The more eyes on your work, the better.
  6. Design. Unless you are an artist/designer, hire someone to design your cover. If you do your own, do your research. I am an artist and designer, but my first attempt was, well, awful. (Seriously, it was sad.)
  7. Format. I work in MS Word, and while tedious, I did not have too much trouble formatting my doc. If, however, this is something that looks like Greek to you, enlist the help of one who can pull it off for you. (see #10)
  8. Upload. Speaking Indie, here. Once all the pieces of the pie are set—sections set and formatted, page numbers in place—upload to CreateSpace (or whichever you choose) and bake til done (wait for the magic email that says your file is approved) and publish that baby!
  9. Celebrate. Share your big news!
  10. Network. Perhaps the most important step of all. Blog and follow other blogs. Attend conferences and online events. Learn from others, and share what you know. "In-ter-act." Ask questions. Someone will know how to do what you don’t.
  11. And read. Read some more. Read in your genre, and out. Read books on the craft. Never stop learning. 
Writing is not an easy-peasy project. It is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, sometimes lonely, work. But when the stories are in you, and you do the stuff, there is nothing so rewarding as holding your book baby in your hands.

About the Author

The Long Shadows of Summer
by Robin E. Mason
The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons, Book 1.

The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Think Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind

It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.

Mercedes has always been an avid reader and devours each new Sherlock Holmes mystery as soon as she gets her hands on them. When one of her friends comes to her, Mercedes vows to keep Simone’s secrets and uncover the truth.
But as Mercedes plays detective to her friends’ questions, she discovers something far more shocking—she herself is not who she thought she was.

Robin E. Mason writes stories of identity conflict. Her characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, her stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and very deep way. “I know, I write from experience.”

Other books by Robin E. Mason

Monday, August 21, 2017

Capable of Miracles by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
During my devotional readings a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by a Gospel passage from Matthew. The part when Peter walked on water.

Yes. Peter. Remember, when Peter saw Jesus coming toward the boat, he craved nothing more than joining Him, than being just like Him. Jesus called to Peter and with all the faith in the world, Peter began to walk on water! He ‘fixed his eyes’! He was part of a miracle!

What happened next, though, speaks to me loud and clear in the midst of my own anxieties, questions, and uncertainties. After those few, breathtaking steps, Peter sank. He sank not because he had no faith in Jesus (after all, Peter knew enough to call out to Him immediately and was thereby saved). Rather, Peter lost faith in himself. He looked at his miraculous actions through the lens of humanity and the waves of his own uncertainty pulled him under.

Oh, can I relate! What a portrait of my own struggles of late. As I work on ‘what’s next’ in my life as an author, as a mother, as a daughter, wife and friend to others, I’ve come to a keen awareness of the fact that I have tremendous faith in Christ, and the direction of His call, but I have precious little faith in me. ‘How can I do this?’ ‘How can I finish this?’ ‘How can I see this through?’

I'm coming to realize that we accomplish ‘miracles’ by remembering: It’s not on our strength but on the strength of Christ that we do what we do, that we minister how we minister. It’s been said that each moment we’re alive needs to be considered an anointed moment. That where we are in our lives is where we are meant to be, and God is with us, no matter what. Our writing gifts aren’t ours. They belong to God. He can and will direct us according to His will. As long as we honor him as humbly and authentically as we can, there’s nothing we can’t do.

Like Peter, we can perform miracles. We can move forward with confidence. Change will happen. Evolution is part of living. As the twists and turns and growth spurts occur, I’m trying to always remember that, when it comes to writing, to life, to circumstances I face, I’m capable of miracles--I just need to fix my eyes.

I hope today’s post encourages you to do the same, and I'd love to hear your thoughts! Blessings, friends, until next month.

The Fairytale
Amy Monarch is a tireless volunteer at the Dupont Rescue and Recovery Center, an establishment for the destitute founded by her mother. There, Amy has kept her identity a carefully guarded secret. She is actually Princess Amelia Marguerite Louise DeLaGrande of Remeth. Working at Dupont offers the opportunity to serve in blessed disguise.

Fresh into a promising career in commercial real estate brokerage, Patrick Sawyer returns to the picturesque isle of Remeth intending to reconnect with his collegiate study abroad friends and figure out ‘what’s next’ in his life. Since his father’s passing, the world he knows leaves him uninspired. He volunteers at Dupont during his visit, and becomes enchanted by Amy.

But Amelia is trapped within a silken web. When she reveals who she is, Patrick pulls back. He’s not interested in royalty—at all—but how can she ever break free? How can she find a way to service and God’s plan for her life? Most of all, how can she reconcile the call she feels toward a remarkable man who may be ‘common,’ yet is ‘uncommon’ when it comes to matters of the heart?


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Readers laude her work as “Riveting,” “Realistic and true to heart,” “Compelling.” Her Christian fiction debut, Devotion, earned the Bookseller’s Best Award as well as the Heart of Excellence Award. Her follow-up novel, Forgiveness, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors as did her book Hearts Communion. She is also a two-time recipient of the Selah Award for her books Then & Now and Finding Home. Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan and an active member of Romance Writers of America, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. You can connect with Marianne at