Monday, June 18, 2018

Story Styles and Themes by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
So, it seems 2018 will see the release of my 30th book. Wow – no wonder I’m so tired! LOL! I bring up this milestone because, as is often the case when I go all introspective, a realization struck home when I reviewed my book history.

This time the realization centered on themes and styles and how, over the course of my publishing career, my storytelling has tended toward recurring themes as well as the development of characters and circumstances that capture my ever-changing heart and I hope and pray capture the interest of my readers as well.

I noticed many of the books I’ve written tended to include redemption as an overriding arc. My characters grew from a return to—or confrontation of—life circumstances that had led them to a chasm they needed God’s help to bridge. The stories were all unique, but the message remained universal: Homecoming. No matter what had tripped them up, God’s door never closed.

Several other books I created featured settings, occupations, lifestyles, that appear glamorous (being a personal shopper for high-end clients at Harrods, being the crown-princess of a fairytale land, or being a country music legend).  I’m a total fairytale/princess girl, so it was fun to take those worlds and view them through a different lens. Certainly, there was glamour, and I loved writing about tiaras, ball gowns, and State dinners as well as my favorite spots in London and Florence…but digging deep revealed something entirely different, and challenging. The fantasy worlds we might dream of are far from perfect, and my characters learn to live and love within that truth.

Themes, settings, and characters that appeal to me make their way into my books, and this upcoming milestone book release has made me wonder. What are some of your favorite book themes? What characters appeal to you the most? What settings? Let’s talk about it, because, at the end of the day, we’re not just writers, we’re readers as well!

Blessings, friends, until next month!


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

Friday, June 15, 2018

How to Survive Rejection by Georgiana Daniels

Georgiana Daniels

Rejection is part of the publishing business—it just is. So, how can we best handle disappointing and/or painful news? Author Georgiana Daniels shares tips that will help us soar again after being temporarily grounded. ~ Dawn

How to Survive Rejection

Euphoria and despair—highly charged emotions that most writers experience when they see a return email from an editor or agent who then declines a project. Sound familiar?

Rejection stinks! Take it from someone who’s been there more times than she cares to count. I’m sorry to report that I’ve had so much practice that I’ve developed tips to cope. The good news is, maybe it’ll help you.

You’ve probably heard all the practical steps to take, such as focusing on different projects for a while, researching other places to submit and/or going indie. But in my vast experience with rejection, there’s something even more important—focusing on your emotional health.

My first several rejections were actually painless, and I didn’t get what the big hairy fuss was about. I thought, all we have to do is put on our big girl pants and move on. And that’s true—to some extent.

The problem comes when the rejections have piled up month after month, manuscript after manuscript, and (dare I say) year after excruciating year. The highs and lows of submission and rejection start to take an emotional toll, and one day you find yourself huddled in a corner, crying and rocking back and forth. (Exaggeration? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll never tell!)

Despite numerous rejections, I survived and lived to tell the tale. I’ve also discovered practical tips for emotionally handling rejection. Believe me, it does get easier.

First, pray. This should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyways. Have you taken your heart to the Lord? He wants to share in your pain, polish it up, and use it to form you into the image of Christ. Cry out to Him!

Then feel what you feel. Allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions in a healthy way. Crying is a valid way to handle the rejection. Biting your unsuspecting husband’s head off is not. The point is, don’t shut off the feelings that are working their way to the surface.

Once you’ve pulled yourself back together, reach out to someone who understands. While talking to your loved ones can help, no one understands what you’re going through like another writer. We need the love and support of our people!

After that, recount your past writing successes. If you don’t think you have any, I’m saying you do. If you’ve written an entire book and taken the bold step to submit, you have achieved a level that many people haven’t dared to attempt. Past triumphs can fuel you going forward.

Finally, go for a quick win. Find something you’re super good at other than writing and immerse yourself. Paint, knit, run—whatever it is, jump in and experience success.

There you have it, my best tips for handling the emotional side of rejection. Don’t fear it! Instead, fully experience it as part of the writer’s journey. You’ll be richer for it.

Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. 

But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. 

When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope.

Georgiana Daniels resides in the beautiful mountains of Arizona with her super-generous husband and three talented daughters. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor's degree in public relations and now has the privilege of homeschooling by day and wrestling with the keyboard by night. She enjoys sharing God's love through fiction and is exceedingly thankful for her own happily ever after.

You can learn more and connect with Georgiana online here:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Ark on our Shoulders by Laurel Thomas

Every writing project is a journey. At the end, we arrive at a destination that depends on every bit of our hard work. There were obstacles we had to leap over and lots of fine-tuning to do.  Our laptops flamed with the rush of inspiration one moment and grew stone cold at the next as we wondered what in the heck we were thinking.

Angst. It gets old. So, we press on anyway. We keep writing, keep working until the final product shines. Or at least we know it’s the best we can do. Even then we join a critique group, hire an editor and get other trained eyes on it, just to be sure.

In my head I knew the Lord was in the process. But one morning I saw proof of it in an obscure passage in I Kings 8. 

Here’s the back story. Construction of Solomon’s temple was complete - down to the tiniest facet of magnificence and order. 

It was time for the Ark of His Presence to arrive. Priests carried it with wooden poles on their shoulders to the inner sanctuary. Everything in that room had been prepared to receive the presence of God. Golden cherubim, crafted especially for the Ark, spread their wings over it. The walls themselves were overlaid with gold and shone with a luminescence. 

It was all dazzling. Except for those wooden poles the priests had used. They stayed in the middle of all that splendor, sticking out from under the Ark. (I Kings 8:8)

Wooden poles sticking out? In a place so glorious and intricate in detail that it’d taken thousands of workmen seven years to complete? 

Surely, they could’ve gotten rid of them. After all, the poles weren’t needed anymore. The Ark was in the temple to stay. No more mobile-home tabernacle to carry it everywhere God’s people went. 

Why were the poles still there?

Maybe to remind us that His presence was once carried on the shoulders of people. Those wooden poles weren’t fancy, but they were proof that God chose people to carry Him to a specific destination.  

Maybe you just submitted an article, wrapped up the resolution of your novel or finished a memoir. There was a journey to get there. One that you carried on your shoulders throughout the process. 

It’s true that the Lord was there every step of the way. But our work mattered. Our efforts carried an idea, a story, a poem to completion.  

Carrying that Ark into the temple took work. Teaming up with God takes work. But we can remember those wooden poles. Like them, we might end up in the middle of something beautiful!

A former high school English teacher, Laurel Thomas has written for magazines such as Guideposts, Mysterious Ways and others. In addition to her foray into fiction with her first novel, Laurel has ghosted books and edited others. As general administrator of Write Well, Sell Well OKC, she helps facilitate an annual conference and other opportunities to equip writers.   Laurel holds degrees in English and Counseling. She is a chaplain for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, as well as being a lay pastor at Church on the Rock, Oklahoma City, OK.  Check out her blog at and her website at

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Writing Motivators by Glenn Haggerty

Motivation—I think that once you have the writing—storytelling bug, you have to write. Sure there are times I am discouraged, frustrated, and stonewalled. But once the pain wears off, all it takes is a little inspiration and . . .

10 Writing Motivators for Me

1. Reading books that I really like by other authors—Andrew Klavan has had a big impact on me—but there are so many great books out there, I’d leave too many out if I started listing them all!

2. A good night’s sleep.

3. Exercise. I often get some great ideas and insights as I ride my stationary bike.

4. A quiet, comfortable place to let your imagination roam.

5. Turn the phone off, and file the to-do lists for the day.

6. Great coffee is a must, strong and dark roast but with cream and sugar. Our Keurig makes a fast fix, but if I’m desperate, a shot of espresso and hot chocolate in a cup of skim milk will stimulate my creativity or power me through writer’s fatigue.

7. The majesty of creation. A starry night, a quiet forest, waves lapping on the shore and an endless horizon. A trip to the Arboretum, and if they are accessible, mountains, deserts, rivers and streams.

8. Prayer. Definitely.

9. A blank writing pad, or in my case, a blank word document in which to noodle, doodle and brainstorm.

10. And for me, Bible study. This impels me toward God’s perspective and helps me see others from His point of view. I also get excited about the unseen world that we encounter through faith.

I love those creative moments where you are in the character’s head and flying through a scene. I also like cleaning up the creative mess and honing the story into something you like. Don’t you?

Do you have any motivational tips to add to Glenn's?


Glenn writes inspiring adventures with an edge. No matter how dark the day, finding hope to pursue the prize is the core of all his novels and studies. He is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), a graduate of Vision Loss Resources and Bethel Seminary, the father of six and grandfather of seven. Glenn likes tandem biking, kayaking, and daydreaming and lives in Minneapolis with his wife. He is also an award-winning author with short stories published in Splickety, Havok, Cadet Quest and Partners. Chase, the third book in his Intense series was released on April 1, 2018.

You can visit him at  and reach him on Facebook at, and on Twitter, @grhaggertyjr

Chase, Intense Book 3

Drugs infiltrate Tyler Higgins’ middle school turning ordinary kids into brain dead druggies. When his friend is infected, Tyler decides to cut the small town drug flow by ratting out the dealer before it’s too late.

Shadowing drug runners is risky business. A bow-hunter has already disappeared, and Tyler’s true adversary remains veiled. Soon everything goes sideways, but he doggedly follows the twisting trails, risking his friendships and his own neck. But he isn’t sure who he can trust, or if he can rescue anyone—including himself.

You can pick up your copy of Chase, Intense Book 3 here

And click here to get Escape, the first book in the Intense Series for FREE!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sorting the “Must-Dos” from the “Should-Dos” by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu
I returned from a writing conference about two weeks ago, and I’m still working through the things I learned and my list of “To-Dos.”

…And there goes another gopher!

Sorry. We have 13-striped gophers digging up our lawn. The little pests are quick, persistent, and annoying. And they keep distracting us from the more important tasks of mowing the grass, mulching, killing weeds, and enjoying the view.

I learned a lot at the conference—about writing, editing, and marketing. I learned that I “should do” more with social media and my website. I should make sure I have a privacy policy clearly posted on my website and that I am compliant with GDPR regulations. I should send out my newsletter at least monthly. I should learn to use Instagram. I should send thank you notes to the agents and editors I met with. I should check out the websites and apps that can streamline my marketing efforts.

By Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology,
University of Michigan  [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

After all those “should-dos,” where does my writing fit in? That, for me, has to be a “Must-Do,” but it often gets shunted aside.

It’s the perennial battle for writers—learning to focus on the writing without getting sidetracked by the gophers (as in “go” to Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads).

I don’t have easy answers. I know these are the things I must do, if I want to succeed at being a professional writer:

  • Send those thank you notes. (Check.)
  • Revise my WIP based on what I learned. (In progress.)
  • Figure out the GDPR requirements. (Not started yet.)
  • Stay active on social media, but limit my time there—30 minutes a day should be enough. (Working on it.)
  • Develop a plan, a routine that will make those 30 minutes a day more productive an efficient. (Started.)
  • And, of course, write the next book.
Each of those six “Must-Dos” has several parts to it, so it’s not as easy as it looks. And I need to trap the “Should-Do” gophers and leave them in their holes until later.

It’s a never-ending challenge, but it can be done. If I don’t control the “Should-Dos,” the pesky gophers will take over and keep me from the “Must-Dos.”

But knowing that prioritizing is a “Must-Do” doesn’t help me prioritize. So I took a few minutes to look for a program or app that might work. And I found this article ( that discusses the different types of To-Do lists and available apps to help you keep track.

I’m not sure if any of those apps will work for me, so for now, I think I’ll go back to my old stand-by prioritizer that I wrote about here a few months ago (

Chasing those gophers will probably fall pretty far down the list.

What tips do you have for separating your “Must-Dos” from your “Should-Dos”?

About the Author
The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu began making up stories soon after she began talking. Her most recent title, The Secret Heart, and its prequel, an e-book novelette titled The Divided Heart, are published by Write Integrity Press, along with the award-winning For Such a Moment and Thirsting for More. She and her husband divide their time between Iowa, near their two children and four grandchildren, and Florida, where it’s warm all winter. Marie is working on a historical novel set in western Kentucky, her home state.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously WriteFor more posts by Marie, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

What is Historical Fiction?

By Peter Leavell @peterleavell

Before you dip your feather quill into ink and press the tip against the parchment, know the definition of Historical Fiction.


If you don’t, you’ve no mission statement to give shape to the entire work. For example, if you’re writing an epic that takes place in ancient Rome and a time traveler pulls out his cell phone to record the murder of Julius Caesar, you can unroll the scroll that contains the definition and see if the time traveler belongs there.

So, what is Historical Fiction? Geoffrey Trease, who wrote 113 novels about a century ago, claimed HF is a subject written ‘outside the time of living memory.’

Historic Novel Society tries to keep it simple—written “in the past, before the author’s lifetime and experience.” Or, more definitive, any novel written at least fifty years after the events described (which is 1968—yowza), or by an individualwho was not alive at the time of those events, writing from a research perspective. Alternate histories, time-slip novels, historical fantasies, and multiple-period novels are all accepted by HNS.

Still others maintain that HF is a label of incredible distinction and should be used with great dignity. The tag Historical Fiction should be applied to those books where a deliberate attempt has been made to recreate the past.

What does this mean for you? You are not answerable to anyone but your conscience. Why? Because HF itself is the embodiment of disagreement. The term Historical Fiction is a contradiction. Historical. Fiction. HF Seeks accuracy and illusion.

Seriously? Yes.

So, how do I approach HF? What is my definition when I start penning a work of genius? Here’s what I tell myself.

Peter, cut through the fog of perception and come as close to the historic truth as possible. If you deviate, deviate with a purpose in mind. Because historians ask what happened and why did it happen that way? You ask, what was it like?

Your definition of HF will determine the kind of HF you write, and thus produce a work that will help us not learn history, but live it. Take great pains to confirm your definition of HF in your mind as you work, and you’ll help solidify the past in your reader’s mind.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at

Friday, June 8, 2018

Why Your Book Dedication is Important by Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer

Do you read book dedications?

I do! They’re actually one of my favorite parts of books.


They tell me a lot about the author’s personality, humor, and heart. They often provide insight into the writer’s life.

When you create your own dedications, do you give them time and thought? Remember … as writers, we want to impact lives. What you place on that blank page could be important to not only your readers, but also the people included in your dedications.

Sarah’s Smile

To my husband and best friend, Sonny—
You’ve always believed in me.
I could never have shared this story without
your love, help, and encouragement.

I had no problem deciding what to write for my first published novel. It was important to me that I dedicate the book to my husband. It was my way of honoring him. He’d done so much to help me see my dream become reality, and I wanted my readers to know it.

Hope’s Design

To my daughters, Brooke and Ana
And my stepdaughter, Katrina,
May you always follow your dreams …

My second novel includes the themes of using our God-given gifts and pursuing our dreams. I’m very close to my two adult daughters, and I wanted to remind them to never give up on their own dreams. My stepdaughter had stepped away from her faith. Shes an avid reader, but I didn’t know what she’d think of my books with a spiritual message. It turned out, she loved them! Including her in the dedication for Hope’s Design also touched and made an impact on her.

Rebecca’s Song

In memory of
My grandmother, Florence Schlough,
who taught children in a one-room schoolhouse,
and my grandmother, Marie Johnson,
who always filled her yard and home
with flowers—including zinnias.

My heroine in Rebecca’s Song is a schoolteacher, and the flower with significance in this story is the zinnia. (Each book in the series features a specific flower.) Aside from honoring two women who had played important roles in my life, I wanted readers to understand why I chose a particular career for a heroine and flower for this story.

Now that I’ve shared my dedications, here are some I’ve discovered that I think are fun and meaningful …

Dark Places
by Gillian Flynn

What can I say about a man who knows how I think
and still sleeps next to me with the lights off?


by Shannon Hale

For Colin Firth
You’re really a great guy, but I’m married,
so I think we should just be friends.

The Selection
by Kiera Cass

Hi, Dad!

An Introduction To Algebraic Topology
By Joseph J. Rotman

To my wife Marganit
and my children Ella Rose and Daniel Adam
Without whom this book would have
Been completed two years earlier

This Boy’s Life
by Tobias Wolff

My first stepfather used to say that what
 I didn’t know would fill a book. Well, here it is.

The Land of Stories
By Chris Colfer

To Grandma,
For being my first editor
And giving me the best writing advice
I’ve ever received: “Christopher,
I think you should wait until you’re done
with elementary school before worrying
about being a failed writer.

Ship of Magic
by Robb Hobb

To caffeine and sugar, my companions
through many a long night of writing.

by Eloise McGraw

To all children
who have ever felt different

These dedications are some of my all-time favorites. The author found a way to honor his father by using humor—and he still managed to tie in a fun hook that I imagine his fans loved.

Otherland (Books 1-5)
by Tad Williams

Book 1

This book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love.
Actually Dad doesn’t read fiction, so if someone doesn’t
tell him about this, he’ll never know.

Book 2

This book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love.
As I said before, Dad doesn’t read fiction.
He still hasn’t noticed that this thing is dedicated to him.
This is Volume Two—let’s see how many more until he catches on.
Book 3

This is still dedicated to you-know-who, even if he doesn’t.
Maybe we can keep this a secret all the way to the final volume.
Book 4

My father still hasn’t actually cracked any of the books—
so, no, he still hasn’t noticed.
I think I’m just going to have to tell him.
Maybe I should break it to him gently.

Book 5

Everyone here who hasn’t had a book dedicated
to them, take three steps forward.
Whoops, Dad, hang on there for a second …

Your turn! What dedications have you found fun or interesting? Please share what you’ve written for your book dedications and why.

The Daughters of Riverton, Book 3 

Rebecca Hoyt’s one constant was her dedication to her beloved students. Now, a rebellious child could cost her the job she loves. Without her teaching position, what would she do?

Detective Jesse Rand prides himself in protecting the people who ride the railroads. But, when his own sister and brother-in-law are killed by train robbers, the detective blames himself. Yet, another duty calls—he must venture to Riverton where his niece and nephews were left in the care of their beautiful and stubborn teacher, Rebecca Hoyt. They need to mourn and heal, but Jesse is determined to find his sister’s killers. Rebecca is willing to help care for the children, but she also fears getting too close to them—or their handsome uncle—knowing the day will come when he’ll take them back to Chicago.

Will Jesse and Rebecca find a way to open their hearts and work together? Or will they, along with the children, lose out on love?

Questions included for discussion and reflection.

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, Hope’s Design is the second, and Rebecca’s Song completes the trilogy.

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.