Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Nativity Scene*

 
Hi friends! Your hostesses here at Seriously Write wish you and your families a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! We'll be taking the week off to spend time with our families, but we'll be back with you daily beginning, Tuesday, January 2, 2018. See you then!


 
2018*

*Photo credits: Pixabay

Friday, December 22, 2017

Writing that Brings the Pages to Life by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
Don’t you wish you could write like this?


“They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a charcoal stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age; who had screened himself from the cold air without, by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement.”


Of course, this passage comes from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Stave Four, if you hadn’t picked up on that already. The “They” in the first line is Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

When you read the first paragraph, did you feel like you needed to take a shower? Isn’t the description of the alleys and archways magnificently vulgar? Is “disgorged” a strong and proper verb for that stretch of sentences, or what? And when you contemplate how life really was for some many people in those cities—where no indoor plumbing existed—you can visualize the health concerns immediately, adding to the disgusting setting.

Which is exactly the “feel” Dickens was striving to achieve.

Or take the next paragraph, for example. Did you know pawn shops existed in 1843 London? Have they changed much since then? Can you picture the “grey-haired rascal” sitting amongst the filth? Can you feel the grime around him? Can you smell his pipe amongst the odor of greasy offal? Do you even know what “offal” is? I had to look it up1 the first time I read this book. Wow! Can one word sure add to the visceral feelings of a scene (no pun intended)!

So, we ask ourselves: Can my writing look and smell and feel like this? Why not? It may mean our vocabulary will need a facelift. Our prose may need sharpening. Our fingers at the keyboard may need liniment. Why, you ask? Because Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in a mere six weeks, and many of the words used are not in the typical American’s verbal repertoire. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. It takes great skill to write such a monumental book in so little time and have it only be a novella. You authors know what I’m talking about. It’s easy to get wordy, but it is the economy of words coupled with the message of redemption that makes this work stand out.

So, feeling overwhelmed? Challenged to the point of stress? Think you’ll never arrive at the lofty bar Dickens has raised? I’m sure his reply would be something like this: “Bah! Humbug! Grab your pen and compose the words that garner the most power. Pen a tome with descriptive language that transports the reader to another world, another dimension, another time, another land, another’s shoes. The kind that tickles the nose, dances in the ear, turns the stomach, and floods the eyes. Lead them down the alleys and archways they’d never tread on their own. Be the Grim Reaper Ghost who points them in the direction of doom so they may find their own reclamation. For if you only take them down soft, padded walkways or allow them to ride in cushy Hansom cabs, they will never see how lavish a life of love, modeled after the example of our Savior, truly is.”



   



(The Blake Meyer Thriller Series, Book 3)

A Perverse Tale. A Precarious Truth. A Personal Tribulation.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer is at an impasse. Bound and beaten in a dilapidated warehouse halfway around the world, Blake finds himself listening to an unbelievable story. Right and wrong warp into a despicable clash of ideologies. Life quickly becomes neither black nor white. Nor is it red, white, and blue any longer.

Every second brings the contagion's release closer, promising to drag the United States into the Dark Ages. Tens of millions could be dead within months.

Every moment adds miles and hours to the expanding gulf between him and his family. What is he to believe? Who is he to trust?




C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first three books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge and Book 2, Triple Time, are available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, just released in October! All three are on sale through New Year’s Eve! 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. It’s quite elementary, actually.

Website:                                www.ckevinthompson.com/
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:         www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter:                                  @CKevinThompson
Goodreads:                            C. Kevin Thompson




Thursday, December 21, 2017

Anticipation by Terri Weldon

While trying to decide what to talk about the word anticipation zinged into my mind. And for me, it seemed perfect. What two better things to anticipate than Christmas and writing?

During the Christmas season it is so easy to become consumed with cooking, shopping, and decorating that we forget to anticipate the birth of our Savior. I know His birth took place over 2000 years ago and we all know the Christmas story. Maybe we know it too well and maybe we need to be reminded it isn’t just a story.  The birth of Jesus is a miracle and Christmas is a time for us to experience that miracle anew. To celebrate the fact God loves us so much He sent His Son into the world. A tiny miracle that became that world’s greatest blessing.

In a different manner I believe we should feel a sense of anticipation about our writing. I don’t know about you, but when that first gem of a story idea niggles at my brain I’m full of anticipation. Midway through my first draft I may wonder what ever made me think I could write. By the time I’ve finished revising the book for the last time I may never want to think of those characters again.

Do you know what happens then? I send that story out and I begin to anticipate what will happen. I hope and I pray an editor will love it. And in the case of Mistletoe Magic, when I finally saw my first book accepted I felt a whole new wave of anticipation. For once I looked forward to editing and I felt a strong sense of anticipation hoping my editor would like the changes.

Then I anticipated the cover. Next the release date. And then, I’ll admit, I anticipated and feared friends, family, and strangers reading my book. But the entire process was one of joy. God allowed my dream of being published to come true.

Since then I’ve published two other books. I’m still filled with anticipation each time I begin writing another book and I hope I never become complacent about it. But more importantly, I never want to become complacent about the miracle of Jesus’s birth.

What about you? What has you filled with anticipation this Christmas season? What lies ahead in your writing journey?

Misty Winslow is determined to find her prince, and she meets the man of her dreams through an Internet dating service. Or is he, because the new dentist in town also sets her heart aflutter. It's love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal, Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99—Tyler's online persona. How can he tell her he's the man she's been waiting to meet, and how rational is it for him to be jealous of Wes99! Soon Tyler's pulling out all the stops to woo Misty. As Christmas approaches, Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the mistletoe. Which man will she choose?
 
 
Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an author by night. She enjoys gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes – a habit she really needs to break. Problem is they make new, cute ones every season. 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 Oklahoma. Terri has two adorable Westies – or they have her, she’s never sure which. Terri is a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Her dream of becoming a published author came true when her novella Mistletoe Magic was published.

 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It’s All in the Timing by Christine Johnson

God’s timing is perfect.

That was something I tried to believe as year after year, rejection after rejection piled up. You see, I had decided that I wanted to write a historical romance with a strong faith message for the secular market. It seemed like a great plan. After all, I would honor God by reaching out to those who needed to hear the Good News.

God, on the other hand, had different plans. Fifteen years (and 151 rejections) later, I finally let go of my stubborn plan and accepted His leading to write for the Christian fiction market. That’s when He opened doors. In 2010, Soaring Home, was published by Steeple Hill (now Love Inspired). Eleven more Love Inspired Historical novels (and three with Revell) followed in the next seven years, culminating with Would-Be Mistletoe Wife this month.

At the time I turned in this latest manuscript, I didn’t know that the Love Inspired Historical line would close. The letter announcing the closure stunned me. I felt like a boat set adrift with no idea where to go next.

God’s timing is perfect.

He knew that a time of refreshment and renewal was needed. The years of multiple books per year had taken a toll on family. So God cleared the slate. No contracts. No deadlines. Just time to strengthen relationships and refill the well of creativity.

God’s timing is perfect.

Though no small part of me wanted to leap at the first possibility that presented itself, I felt His nudge to wait. He would provide the story at the right time. Moreover, when that kernel of an idea arrived, I wasn’t supposed to run ahead, racing through my ideas and setting impossible deadlines. I was supposed to linger with Him.

You see, this time we would do a project together. No guarantees it would sell. No guarantees the story would come easily or quickly. Maybe, just maybe, this story would only be between the two of us. I had to accept those terms before going forward. Surrender. Not an easy concept for a woman who gripped control with two tight fists, but a necessary one.

So I’m letting go. Daily. And waiting as the story gradually takes shape. No timelines. Just God’s time.

And the certainty that His timing is perfect.

Tell us your experience with God's timing.


~~~~~~


CHRISTINE JOHNSON is the author of twelve books for Love Inspired Historical and three books for Revell. She was twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award®. When not writing, she loves to hike, bicycle, kayak 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.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sedentary Writer to Prayer Walker by Zoe M. McCarthy

Zoe M. McCarthy
Are you like I was, feeling guilty because I sat for long periods and clocked in little exercise? But I work full writing days on my platform, marketing, and on three books in various stages of publication. I need to sit … a lot.

I wear a Fitbit, which has told me how pathetic my exercise time has been. I set 5,000 clicks as my daily goal, but many days my Fitbit registered less than 2,000.

God has also called me as a prayer warrior. I pray for between 375 to 400 people or situations daily. This work takes me from an hour to an hour and a half. I rise at 5:30 on weekdays and get started on those prayers. On weekends, I start later.

In the past, I sometimes woke around 4 AM. I tried to get ahead and pray my prayers in bed. But as I mentioned in another post, God healed me of my insomnia, and He answers my prayers for peace. So, I knew I shouldn’t infringe on the time God has given me to rest.

One Monday, I thought I’d get in some clicks before I went to my office to start my day. We have an open downstairs. If I walk the route from

our bedroom door, ➘
    across the large foyer, ➘
      through the dining area, ➘
         around the octagon, ➘
           through the kitchen, ➘
             under the arches that lead back to the foyer, ➘
               through the laundry room, long walk-in closet, and the bedroom,
 I can run up about 110 clicks. 

So on that Monday, I felt led to pray my prayer list while I walked. I’ve memorized it, except for the new requests on the church bulletin and from my Bible study. I pray for people on lists I’ve created for:

the physically sick, 
    those needing emotional healing, 
      the grieving, 
        those suffering dementia and their caregivers, 
          those involved in Christian publishing, 
            writers in groups I belong to, 
              a list of children I’ve collected, 
                addicts, 
                  family members, 
                    friends,
                      church members, 
                        unbelievers, 
                          pastors, 
                            Bible teachers, 
                               lay speakers, 
                                 a prison chaplain and the prisoners,
                                   my country,
                                     my church denomination,
                                       the 6 churches in our rural charge,
                                         Christians worldwide and those suffering persecution, and
                                             the people-groups not yet reached with the gospel.

When I checked my Fitbit, I was shocked. I had over 5,500 clicks! I’d made about 50 trips around my indoor course! I’d been so involved in praying to the Lord that I hadn’t noticed the exercise my body received.

I’ve been prayer-walking for about three weeks. After a prayer walk, I’m hot and tired, but I’m physically and spiritually satisfied. 

How about you, what works in giving you exercise from sitting and writing?

About the Author

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of Gift of the Magpie and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, gardening, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at www.zoemmccarthy.com.


Gift of the Magpie

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy
Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy, is she wrong.

Purchase link for Gift of the Magpie: https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Magpie-Zoe-M-McCarthy-ebook/dp/B073M8X4YZ/

For more posts by Zoe M. McCarthy, click here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Lights by Mary Manners



Mary Manners

  Christmas Lights
By Mary Manners

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 sixteen 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 every single 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 dusted it off.

Ceramic Christmas tree
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!
~~~~~

Crystal Wishes by Mary Manners
As a clothing-buyer-turned-seamstress with an eye for fashion, Skylar Lannigan’s hands whisper tender ballads over fabric. She fills a sketchbook with flowing and whimsical designs—including versions of a to-die-for wedding dress for her own wedding day—if she’d only find Mr. Right. She’d once imagined a bright future with Adam Caldwell, until he took off with no explanation.

Adam Caldwell’s life has been a series of hairpin curves since the night a tragic accident claimed both his parents and nearly the life of his sister, Faith, as well. When Faith, who's still recovering from her injuries, asks for help selecting a wedding dress, Adam accompanies her to Diamond Knot Dreams. He's soon reunited with beautiful and lively Skylar Lannigan.

Adam would love to rekindle a romance with Skylar, but will events from their past rise up to destroy any hope for a future?

~~~~~


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: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Why We Shouldn’t Despair Over Lack of Interaction on Blog Posts by Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer
You spent considerable time coming up with a thought-provoking idea for a blog post, then more time writing and re-writing the piece until you were satisfied it was worthy of national attention.

The day came when the article went live for all the world to see, and then . . .

Nada. No comments. No feedback. Nothing.

And you pondered the results. 

Did anyone read the words I so masterfully assembled? Did I touch anyone? Encourage even one person?

You’re not alone!

But, don’t despair! No or few comments doesn’t mean we bombed! Nor does it signify that what we wrote didn’t inspire, challenge, or move people.

Here are three reasons why we can believe it:


1. Although readers may have LOVED the article, they may be unable to share something personal or unwilling to put their thoughts out there with the possibility of being judged.

2. Some readers don’t comment because they believe they have nothing profound to say in response, and they don’t want to come across as being silly or shallow.

3. Technical problems may hinder some from commenting. Did you know that Blogger/Google no longer allows anonymous comments? So, unless a reader has an account with Google, he’s unable to post on a blog hosted by Blogger. (However, if the settings on the blog allow anyone, including anonymous readers to leave a message, the comment may be accepted.)


The pros say if you want to generate comments, write something controversial to spark discussion. But, here’s the thing. Seriously Write isn’t a controversial blog. Our goal has never been to stir up arguments. Our mission is to equip and encourage writers. And reality? Although Seriously Write has a large following, we have a quiet audience. More often than not, we experience more dialogue on our Facebook profiles where our team daily links the articles than on the blog, itself.

There’s another thing we need to remember. Unless a blog is completely deleted, our articles are available for readers ongoing—for years!

In 2012, our Seriously Write hostess, Annette Irby, shared her article, “Nuance: Are You Really Saying What You Mean?” The post has received only four comments, but it’s been viewed over 14,500 times!

On my personal blog, an article I posted in 2011, “Brothers and Sisters,” continues to hold the top rank in views. Yet, it has yet to receive one comment!

So, take heart, dear writers . . . and write on.

And don’t forget to leave a comment below!  (wink)


When have you been let down by lack of response to a blog article you labored over? How did you handle that discouragement?





In 1904, Hope Andrews, an aspiring fashion designer, struggles with leaving New York City. But with no job, her parents leaving the country, and an abusive ex-fiancĂ© refusing to accept their broken engagement, Hope doesn’t have much choice but to give in to her parents’ wishes that she move far away and live with her cousin indefinitely.

Talented Benjamin Greene can’t deny his passion for painting, but guilt over a painful incident in his past keeps him from sharing his gift. Instead, he devotes much of his days to helping his younger sibling rebuild a farm inherited from a great-uncle. Only his brother is aware that Ben spends his spare time in a studio on their property.

In the small rural town of Riverton, Wisconsin, Hope and Ben can’t help but be thrown together. But as feelings for each other deepen, tension thickens over how talent should be used. Their mutual passion for art brings them together, but will it also drive them apart?




Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and her own work has been published in various devotionals and magazines. She co-hosts and writes for Seriously Write. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, and Hope’s Design is the second. Rebecca’s Song will be released in 2018.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.

You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting these online sites: Author WebsiteDawn’s BlogGoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.


Sign up on her website to receive her newsletter, and you’ll receive Dawn’s short story, Maggie’s Miracle (PDF format) as a gift.