Friday, February 23, 2018

“Must Go Faster! Must Go Faster!” by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

This iconic phrase comes from a movie wherein three people in a Jeep are about to be eaten alive. Can you picture the scene? Can you see the dinosaur’s head in the side mirror, with the little message on the bottom: OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”?

Do you ever feel like that sometimes as a writer? If you don’t go faster, the world of writing and consumerism will eat you alive? While you’re writing your second or third book for the year, another author just published his or her eighth?

In a world with things like binge watching, fast passes, and freaky-fast food deliveries, it seems everything has to happen yesterday. Procrastinate a day, and you’re a week behind. So, we combat those assaults with personal and group-oriented binge-writing events. Pay good money for formulas on how to write a novel in thirty days. Some authors even go so far as to have someone else write the novel for them (with their input, of course). That’s how some famous authors can publish 13-14 novels a year.

But I have a question? If you could write a great novel or a good novel, which one would you choose? Do you like wearing mass-produced shoes, or hand-crafted ones? Would you rather eat frozen, store-bought pizza or freshly hand-made pizza from a local pizzeria? Do you like adorning your house with hand-made wooden furniture, or the kind made out of particle board with the plastic veneer? I think you see where I’m going with this.

Little in this life worth having and cherishing was made quickly. That’s not to say a good novel cannot be written in a mere few weeks. A Christmas Carol was written in about six weeks. And that’s not to say good writing cannot come from the computer of a person who types 40,000 words in a cloistered weekend. But those works are the exception, not the rule.

In most cases, however, good writing comes from careful word choices. Meticulous research. Edit upon edit. But it also comes from a story not quite told that way before. A tale that is a little different from the rest in its telling. Not a formula wherein the names and places are interchangeable, and the story is just like the previous one. Not a cookie-cutter pattern of rising action, climax, and happily ever-after. Good writing stretches the mind of a reader. It pokes them when they expect a slap. It needles them when they thought you were about to unload whodunit. It screams at them when they puckered up for a kiss.

If you can do all of that and more and still accomplish 40,000 words in a weekend, then you have my applause. But for most people, it’s not about the number of words thrown at the pages, it’s about the words placed on the pages themselves. It’s about how they are arranged. How they emote. How they live.

In a world drowning in books, it’s usually the dead ones that rise to the top. Those that have weight and merit and depth and life are the ones that withstand the tides of time, surviving even the harshest of droughts, to become the water upon which thirsty souls may find respite. If you don’t believe me, get a group of people together and see if they can name ten New York Times Bestsellers from 1990-2000 that are still recommended reading today and will probably be on recommendation lists for decades to come…like the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, or Earnest Hemingway are recommended. (Good luck.)

Do you see my point? “Faster” isn’t always better. Neither is “Popular.” For faster and popular often look like a flare in the night sky. Easily seen and easily forgotten.

So, write well, my friend, so that your writing may become a well readers will want to come back to time and time again.

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, Book 2, Triple Time, and Book 3, The Tide of Times, are now available! Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, is coming soon!  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.

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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thick-skinned required? Maybe . . . maybe not. By Lynn H. Blackburn

I’m a wimp.

A cream puff.

A marshmallow. 

I’m so not cut out to be a writer.  

I’m anaphylactically allergic to criticism. And this doesn’t apply only to my writing life. This is just who I am. I have the type of personality that always wants to be right. Not in the “I’m right and you’re wrong” way but in the “I’ll die of humiliation if I answer the question wrong so I’m not going to raise my hand, even though I know the answer” way. 

The upside to being paranoid about making mistakes is that it has made me into a very conscientious person. If you ask me to do something, I’ll do it. And then I’ll go over it 100 times to be sure it’s right. And then I’ll call you a few days later to see if it met your expectations. 

Again. I shouldn’t be writing.  

Because all writing requires some form of criticism. 

And criticism + Lynn = hyperventilation. 

Three published books in and I’m still a hot mess. Each time I send a few chapters, or an entire draft to someone, it nearly kills me. 

OK. I’ll admit that I’m a teensy bit prone to exaggeration. But the heart palpitations, sweaty palms, upset stomach. Aren’t those symptoms of dreadful things — like heart attacks? :) 

So what’s a writer to do? When all the traditional advice says she must develop a thick skin if she’s going to survive but when the transformation from thin to thick-skinned would require a personality transplant?  

I tend to assume that thick-skinned people send off their work and don’t worry about it. They don’t spend time refreshing their Facebook or Twitter feeds in case someone has commented on something they posted and their hands don’t shake when they open an email that will tell them whether their work has been accepted for publication. They certainly don’t lose sleep over what some anonymous person said about their book in a review. 

Maybe that’s true. 

But maybe when it comes to our writing life we need to redefine “thick-skinned.” 

What if the thick-skinned person isn’t necessarily someone who stands tall and lets the waves of criticism roll by without a second thought?

What if the thick-skinned person is the one the waves of criticism throw to the ocean floor and keep them submerged so long they begin to wonder if they’ll ever surface?

But when they’re finally able to catch their breath, they don’t run for the shore. 

They stand up. 

And let the waves do it all over again.

Beneath the Surface

Dive Team Investigations, Book #1

After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she’d left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff’s Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer–one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, released in June 2017 and her new Dive Team Investigations series kicks off in March of 2018 with Beneath the Surface. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Four Secrets of Sensory Detail: Making Your Writing Come Alive by Noelle Marchand

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  - Anton Chekhov

As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to get swept away in a new book. It was like holding an entirely new world right in my hands, traveling to places I could only dream of going, witnessing moments that had long passed away. Eventually, I wasn’t content with just experiencing these things. I wanted to create them. But, how?

That is the question I ask myself over and over. How do I make this real? How do I make this world, this character, this plot a living, breathing thing so lush and transporting that it makes the real world fade away? The answer is in the details.

We experience the world through our senses. What we see, feel, taste, smell, and hear as well as our interpretation of it form our perception, therefore, our reality. The same goes for fiction. So how do we make our writing come alive?

We shape reality through specific sensory detail. Again, how? In my fourteen years of writing, I’ve discovered a few fail-safe methods that help me render the world in my imagination onto the page. Here they are. My four secrets of sensory detail.

1.  Start with research.

We can’t make your setting real unless it’s real to us. Real also means authentic. I would add to that mix the word “accurate”. The best way to find sensory detail is to learn more about what already exists in the world we’re creating.

2. Find your perspective.

Now that we have the facts, we must interpret them though the senses of our characters. This determines not only how we describe the details we’ve gathered, but which of those details to include. Remember, every character will have their own unique way of perceiving the world. This includes their emotional state.

3. Let it flow.

If we aren’t careful, descriptive passages can weigh down the narrative. Superfluous, expounding adjectives are not what we are looking for here. Sensory detail is targeted. It clarifies action and setting.

4. Be creative!

Give yourself a measure of freedom. Sensory details are the paint. Your canvas is the manuscript. The brush is your imagination. Have fun with it. Experiment.

I hope these secrets spurred your imagination. Use these tips. Add to them. Keep questioning “how” and find the answers that work best for you. To see how I use sensory detail in my own work, check out any of my books—especially my most recent ones where I’ve tried to make it more of a focus.

Happy writing!

Do you have a particular process for adding in those sensory details that make the story come alive for the reader?


Noelle Marchand is an award-winning author and a proud Texas-native. She enjoys spending time with family, dancing, and going on daytrips.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Love Lives After Valentine's Day by Zoe M. McCarthy

Zoe M. McCarthy
Valentine’s Day 2018 was special for me. No, John didn’t buy me a diamond tiara. Last summer, I’d been invited to be part of a Valentine’s Day romance collection of novellas. Cooking up Kisses has been out since the middle of January. Writing my novella and all the ensuing promotional activities have kept love and hearts and kisses before me constantly for the past several months.

Knowing the Cooking Up Kisses collection had released, a local reporter, asked if I would let him interview me for his Valentine’s Day article in a local newspaper. In one of his questions, he asked what was my definition of love.

My answer came easily. I had just published a blog post on how to show love in stories. I researched behaviors heroes and heroines would exhibit if they loved each other. I used behaviors associated with several traits listed in The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

No attribute showed up for loving in the book’s list. I was forced to decide which attributes fostered loving behaviors. Here’s the list I used: 

• Affectionate,
• Appreciative,
• Charming,
• Courteous,
• Empathetic,
• Gentle,
• Generous,
• Loyal,
• Nurturing,
• Patient,
• Supportive, and
• Trusting.

After perusing the twenty-five to thirty-five behaviors for each of my twelve attributes, I received a picture of what love is. I couldn’t tell a definition of love, but I could show examples of love between a hero and heroine. Not to leave anyone disappointed, here’s the best definition of love I’ve come across.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
How about you, what do you think should be included in depicting love?

About the Author
A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress, 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

Cooking Up Kisses
Five Sweetly Scrumptious Novellas
Cooking Up Kisses (Five Sweetly Scrumptious Novellas)

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

Zoe M. McCarthy is a regular contributor to Seriously Write. For more posts by Zoe, click here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pearls of Wisdom by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
For this month's post, I wanted to share a few pearls of writing wisdom I discovered while exploring Twitter. I was stuck on a plane, headed to Florida in the midst of a massive Michigan snowstorm. As techs de-iced our plane and plows cleared the runways, I wandered through cyberspace and came upon a Twitterspace called Writing & Editing ( @WrtrStat ). I hope you enjoy the encouragement as much as I did, and I highly recommend throwing Writing & Editing a follow! Let me know which ones hit home with you, or inspire your journey - I'd love to compare notes!


And finally, for giggles, let's discuss edit marks!!!


Every saint has a past…and every sinner has a future

Country music bad boy Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction, and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up and comer, Pyper Brock, and instantly sparks ignite.

Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation, so despite a rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, she soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. Decades ago, her father, in a drunken rage, tossed her and her mother onto the streets. No way will Pyper make the mistake of falling for a man whose done battle with the bottle.

What happens when Chase’s quest to win Pyper’s love breaks down chains of resentment and eases the long buried wounds of her childhood? And what happens when Pyper’s father shows up in Nashville, clean, sober and seeking a chance to apologize?

Can Pyper follow a pathway to peace when it comes to her father? Can she fully trust Chase? Above all, can a sin damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness?

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