Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Jumping Into Historical Research by Carrie Turansky

Do you want to write an historical novel, but you’re not sure how to tackle the research? Come along with me and I’ll give you some of my best research tips! I enjoy history and traveling, so doing research for my English historical novels is a fun task for me. I can easily get lost in a stack of books when I’m gathering background information and plotting out a new story.

Getting Started
I begin by looking at the big picture to get general background information about the time period and location, and then I focus in on the exact time, place, and social circles of my main characters. This is where I do my detailed research. I want to get to know my characters' corner of the world so well that I can move around there in my imagination. I can picture my character walking down a street or sitting at a table and know exactly what the character would see, hear, feel, and smell. I want to research until the historical part of my novel becomes almost second nature and I can focus on the story.

The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Sources
History books and biographies can be very useful in research, but they are what are known as “secondary sources.” I always try to track down “primary sources” when possible. A primary source is something that was created during the time period itself, such as a newspaper, magazine, journal, diary, historical document, movie, radio broadcast, or a firsthand account from someone who actually lived through the moment and recorded an oral history, interview, or autobiography. Historians and biographers build their works by examining primary sources. As an author of historical novels, I try to go directly to the source whenever possible, so I get an unfiltered view.

In my latest novel, Across the Blue, I focused the story around the development of early aviation and the pilots who were preparing to be the first to fly across the English Channel to France. I came up with the idea when I visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and saw an exhibit about the Wright Brothers. I noticed a poster for the First International Air Meet in Reims, France, in 1909. I love the Edwardian era, so I jumped in and started my research. That led me to the newspaper owner who was offering the prize for the first cross-channel flight, and that sparked the ideas for the heroine and her family. I wanted to give her a dream and goal that was as worthy and inspiring as the hero’s, so I made her long to become a journalist in a time when that kind of work was rare for women.

I read some wonderful books to give me background information for this story including The Wright Brothers by David McCullough; Northcliffe: Press Baron in Politics by J. Lee Thompson; and Aviation Century: The Early Years by Ron Dick and Dan Patterson. I watched YouTube videos about early airplanes, reenactment flights, and drone movies of the Cliffs of Dover and Kent where the story takes place. Pinterest and Google image searches were also a great help. I saved all these images on my Pinterest Board for Across the Blue. Take a look at this link:

Take a Research trip!
I've traveled to England twice to research my novels set there, once with my husband Scott, and another time with fellow author Cathy Gohlke. Seeing the settings for my books, meeting people living there, and taking in the countryside were a wonderful ways to absorb the atmosphere and settings for my novels. But if you can’t travel to the location of your story you can always watch movies and documentaries describing the era, places, and people.

So jump in! The water is fine! You’ll find your best story just below the surface in your research!

What sources have you found to be most valuable in your research, whether historical or contemporary?


Carrie Turansky has loved reading since she first visited the library as a young child and checked out a tall stack of picture books. Her love for writing began when she penned her first novel at age twelve. She is now the award-winning author of nineteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. Carrie and her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, author, and speaker, have been married for more than thirty years and make their home in New Jersey. They often travel together on ministry trips and to visit their five adult children and five grandchildren. Carrie leads women’s ministry at her church, and when she is not writing she enjoys spending time working in her flower gardens and cooking healthy meals for friends and family. She loves to connect with reading friends through her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. 

Website and Social Media links:
Carrie’s website, blog, and email newsletter:
Carrie’s BookBub Page:

Across the Blue:
Love soars to new heights in this Edwardian romance filled with adventure, faith, and
inspiration, but how much will it cost Bella and James to follow their dreams?

Isabella Grayson, the eldest daughter of a wealthy, English newspaper magnate, longs to become a journalist, but her parents don't approve. They want her to marry well and help them gain a higher standing in society. After she writes an anonymous letter to the editor that impresses her father, her parents reluctantly agree she can write a series of articles about aviation and the race to be the first to fly across the English Channel, but only if she promises to accept a marriage proposal within the year. When James Drake, an aspiring aviator, crashes his flying machine at the Grayson's new estate, Bella is intrigued. James is determined to win that race across the Channel and gain the prize Mr. Grayson's newspaper is offering. He hopes it will help him secure a government contract to build airplanes and redeem a terrible family secret. James wants to win Bella's heart, but his background and lack of social standing make it unlikely her parents would approve. If he fails to achieve his dream, how will he win the love and respect he is seeking? Will Bella's faith and support help him find the strength and courage he needs when unexpected events turn their world upside down?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trust and Obey by Cheryl Hollar

Cheryl Hollar
The hymn, Trust and Obey, has been my favorite for as long as I can remember. Recently, I started thinking about the meaning of the lyrics behind the song,

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
There’s no other way to be happy – but to trust, to obey. Think about it. That signifies complete dependence upon God. No other way. It’s like dangling from a cliff without a rope, trusting what you can’t see. That’s a hard thing to do. Yet, it is exactly what God is asking of each of us. I’ve always known what I wanted to do – write! It’s my passion! It’s also a gift - a very humbling gift. Words are powerful. They can hurt; they can heal. They can destroy; they can encourage. We all have different gifts and different callings. And I believe God holds us accountable for what we do with those gifts.

A Step Back
I most regrettably confess that I haven’t always been obedient to my call to write. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just let the world slip in. And I can only blame myself. In college, I naively allowed someone to talk me into accepting a teaching scholarship to replace college grants I already had. Though the costs of my education were still paid, I was obligated to teach in the particular state’s public school system for one year. To a 17-year-old, that didn’t sound bad. Teach for the year and go back to what you really love.  In reality, it was a disaster.

A Dream Fulfilled
Unfortunately, that lapse in judgment – or rather, in obedience - set my life’s path. It hurt. I struggled for years to gain a footing somewhere in the writing industry. And even though I did write an article or two here and there for local publications or whatever opportunities happened to come along, I still remained unfulfilled. Then, God cracked a window for me, opening the way for me to work in public relations in New York. For the next couple of years, I learned, worked and soon had a strong foundation in the writing world.  But I wanted more.

Coming Home
Back in North Carolina, my writing took a severe downward spiral as I settled into virtually meaningless work that simply paid my bills. The light in my heart had dimmed toward writing, but it had not gone completely out. In desperation, I asked God to give me a dream. Then I learned about a program called Act One, Writing for Hollywood – where Hollywood is a mission field. Here was a program to which I could enthusiastically relate. You see, I’ve also always had a love for the entertainment industry – singing and acting on the small screen as well as the large – not for myself but behind the scenes. This was new and fascinating to me. Who would have thought a “writer” could work behind the scenes in film and television? I know many of you have known this for years, but it was a light-bulb ah-hah moment for me.

A Dream Fulfilled
My world took on new meaning. Christian writers can influence others through the entertainment medium. God has allowed Christians to infiltrate Hollywood and influence television and film for Christ. It blows my mind how God CAN and DOES do ANYTHING. The mission field for Christ in the entertainment industry is wide open.

And More...
Then, God did something else. He graciously opened the door for me to have my book published by Tomahawk Press. It’s awesome to me that God allowed a simple ordinary person like me to have the chance to research and write on a topic that I like while, at the same time, use it humbly to point the way to Christ. I humbly thank God for this opportunity and hope the book will, in some small way, be a catalyst for someone to inquire about Christ  not by any skill I might dare to have  but by the wondrous and awesome Grace of God. 

If God taps you on the shoulder, don’t delay and procrastinate like I did. Don’t try to figure it all out. Just follow Him, no matter what.

About the Author

A contributing writer at mytakeontv.comCheryl Hollar is a freelance writer for the entertainment industry and covers everything from the Television Critics Association press events to red-carpet events, set visits and celebrity charities. Her work includes coverage of Mark Harmon’s Annual Charity Baseball event helping the children of Oklahoma as well as a series of pieces on the impact television has on changing people’s lives through organ donation. Cheryl has also been commissioned to write pieces for an L.A. group of family magazines, including and  

No stranger to the industry, Cheryl’s worked in public relations for Rogers & Cowan and Bon Jovi Productions (McGhee Entertainment) in New York. She’s also a member of the Christian Women in Media Association, the Hollywood Prayer Network, and the International Twins Association, where she has served as president and vice president with her twin sister at conventions across the United States.  Cheryl loves animals, traveling, writing, and meeting new people.

A Fans’ Guide to Hawaii Five-O

A Fans' Guide to Hawaii Five-O
by Cheryl Hollar

Foreword by Ed Asner

This unofficial book for the fans takes a first-ever look behind-the-camera with directors and writers of the original and reboot Hawaii Five-O.

Take a walk with author Cheryl Hollar from the beginning of the original Hawaii Five-O series right through to the immensely successful re-boot. Discover how it all began back in 1968. Read how Sunset on the Beach started, and why Jack Lord promoted the original series as no publicist ever could. Read about the private Jack Lord in the words of his personal assistant. Find out why it takes eight days to film one episode of the new series and how the success of the 2010 re-boot surpassed everyone’s expectations.

This book gives Hawaii Five-O fans an up-close look at the action through conversations with crew and actors of both past and current series.


If you love Hawaii Five-O, you will love this book!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Love Beyond Words by Mary Manners

Love Beyond Words


Mary Manners

"Live every moment and love beyond words."
My mom flew peacefully to the arms of Jesus last week and she was laid to rest on Saturday. Throughout this bittersweet time I have had long moments to reflect on my love for her, my shortcomings as a daughter, and her deep love for me as a mother. I have taken pause to consider the finite boundaries of life as well as the rich legacy that remains in memories of Mom and the times we shared.
My mom once gave me a plaque that read, "Live every moment and love beyond words." At the time, I didn't think much beyond the saying. I was young and busy, with more important things to consider. But as I've aged I have often reflected on the sentiment. In this computer driven era, it is easy to stay engaged with others through manufactured words. A 'like' here, a comment there, and we feel like we've done our job. But are the words enough?
Mom loved beyond words on many occasions, such as the time she nursed five children through chicken pox--all at the same time. And when she rose before dawn each day to prepare five school lunches plus one for my dad. My love of books stems from the countless number she read to me as a child. I am sure she could have overlooked story time, as there were many other tasks that needed her attention, but she was never too busy to share a picture book.
So, in memory of my mom I will take to heart the words on the plaque she gifted to me so long ago. I will go the distance and hopefully leave, as she did, a rich legacy that extends beyond rhetoric.
I will choose to live every moment and love beyond words.   



Sweeten your Day with five brand new holiday stories. Like a scrumptious box of fine chocolates and a bouquet of fragrant roses, these novellas are a delicious treat for the soul.
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!

Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and two rescue cats, Colby and Jax.
Mary writes stories full of faith and hope. Her books have earned multiple accolades including two Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, 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, Smoky Mountain sunsets, and flavored coffee. She enjoys connecting with reader friends through her website:

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.