Friday, September 28, 2018

I Can Only Imagine Now by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
I know we were just a little late to the party (okay, really late), but we just watched the movie, I Can Only Imagine. It was definitely inspirational. First, as a Christian. Knowing that God can forgive the worst of the worst is encouraging when I walk amongst so many monsters. And to make it even more encouraging, to sum up the words of the Apostle Paul, we were all part of that unpopular throng at some point, whether we choose to admit it or not (1 Tim. 1:15). We may not have been a domestic abuser like Arthur Millard or an accomplice to murder like the Apostle Paul, but through the lens of Scripture and what “the kingdom of heaven is like,” sin is sin is sin. Here on Earth, we have a tendency to categorize sin. Some sins are viewed to be more heinous than others. But according to the Ten Commandments, serving other gods and dishonoring your father and mother made the list alongside murder, adultery, lying, and stealing.

Now do you see why I’m encouraged? God can forgive us…all of us.

As a writer, the movie inspired me to never give up and make sure my relationships with others are in order. Bitterness is a cancer of the soul. Usually bred from a wounded heart—usually at the hands of those we love the most—bitterness can cause even the most well-veneered Christian to see the world through anything but the eyes of God.

Hatred, envy, and anger are just a few characteristics of a soul filled with bitterness. They can lead a writer into a wilderness indeed. A wilderness that may cause the writer, like Bart Millard almost did, to quit. It can also cause a writer to be envious of others who they have pictured as “being good enough.” This can draw the writer into fits of anger and self-doubt, pushing away those they love and those who support them (e.g., Bart’s future wife).

Bart never quit, however, nor should you. That doesn’t mean you’ll pen the next #1 all-time, listened-to song or most-beloved novel ever. Those kinds of things (like Bart writing the song “I Can Only Imagine”) are of God, and nobody can predict them nor can they produce them with human effort. However, like Bart, you can continue to write. And you never know just how God will use that next novel, if you allow Him…after your heart is right.

I find it interesting that God had Bart take a several-month-long hiatus from the band Mercy Me before He gave Bart the words to the now famous song. Bart had to find forgiveness in his heart for his own dad before he could be ready to write such words.

Does God need you to take a similar hiatus? Are there areas in your life that God wants examined and remedied before the words will flow?

Only you and God know the answer.

30 Days Hath Revenge

A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.

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, NCIS, 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, September 27, 2018

Inspiring Women by Christina Lorenzen

The older I get, the more I see one thing is guaranteed –everything is subject to change, and nothing is guaranteed

Nothing stays the same. Life is many things, but one thing it isn’t is static. I can only speak for myself, but I know that just as I’m feeling comfortable and sure, something happens, and I find myself knocked off course. As we all must do, I find my strength and pick myself back up. As women, we find ourselves knocked off course more than men, namely because it’s our tendency to care for and nurture those we love. If you want to be an inspired woman, you need to seek out the women who inspire you. And with all that is going on in the world around us, I can think of no better place to look for an inspiring woman than the Bible.

I have always believed that inspiring women inspire other women – to do their best, to be their best and to help others do the same. If you feel despaired with the world around you, you need only pick up your Bible to find examples of women who were courageous, selfless and of unwavering faith. Whenever I am faced with something that seems unsurmountable, that stirs up fear, I turn to a woman in the Bible that continues to inspire me each time I read her story. Ruth.

Ruth suffers a tremendous loss with the death of her husband, Kilion. Her mother-in-law Naomi, in turn, suffers the unspeakable loss of not only her son Kilion, but her other son Mahlon, and her husband Elimelech. Though she urges both her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to go back to their parents’ homes, Ruth will not leave Naomi alone. Together Ruth and Naomi journey to her homeland of Judah. Ruth is a moving example of a selfless woman who remains devoted to family. Despite Naomi’s bitterness, going so far as to call herself Mara (Hebrew for bitter), Ruth stays by her mother-in-law’s side in Judah, working in the fields so the two women will have something to eat.

I have read the Book of Ruth countless times. Each time I pull strength from these two women who carry on in the face of adversity and loss. The last time I had read it, I had been struggling with my writing career, unsure of which way to go next. It had been several months since the release of my last book, and I wasn’t feeling inspired to write anything. Until I got a message from a friend and fellow author. Immediately I felt drawn to this author’s proposal to join her and two other authors in a collaboration of four stories based on four women of the Bible. The idea of crafting a contemporary story based on a woman of my choosing sparked my interest. I knew within minutes I would say yes to her proposal. And even faster than that, I knew I would write a story based on the story of another woman I had come to love and admire, Ruth.

In my story from the collection, Faithful Women: Legacies of Grace, Ruth Baker is reeling from multiple losses. She has lost her beloved husband, her job and her home. With her six-year-old daughter Mara, she is unsure of what the future holds. When her grandmother Eleanora asks for her help as she begins the transition from her long-time home to an assisted living facility, Ruth knows she must pull up stakes and take her child to Pebble Shores, her grandmother’s seaside hometown.

As many women have experienced, Ruth is at crossroads in life, unsure of the future. Unwavering in her faith, she never stops praying each day, patiently waiting for God to answer her in His time. That’s something I know I have struggled with, accepting an answer that may not be on my desired timetable. As she travels down memory lane during her visit, trying to accept the sale of her grandmother’s precious house, her heart begins to open. And with an open heart comes the possibility for another chance for love and a whole new beginning, for Ruth, Mara and her grandmother.
It is my hope that when you read Ruth’s Garden, as well as the three other inspiring stories from gifted authors Belle Calhoune, Leah Atwood and Cate Nolan, you will draw strength from Ruth’s struggle for your own struggles. And in the future, when you find yourself feeling faint of heart, may you draw strength from the women of the Bible who continue to inspire us today. I’ll leave you with one of the verses I run through my mind during trying times:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with
wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:31 KJ

Ruth's Garden

Ruth: Ruth Baker has lost her husband. Unsure of what the future holds, she clings to her faith and her six-year-old daughter, Mara, when she travels to her grandmother’s beachside home in Pebble Shores.

Eli Hamill has felt the pull to put down roots. After years of buying and selling houses, he’s doing something he’s never done before – living temporarily in the beachside house he bought from an elderly widow. The last thing he’s looking for is an instant family.

Can an old house filled with loving memories and a sweet little girl show two lonely people what the future can hold?
Christina Lorenzen is an Amazon bestselling author of sweet and inspirational small-town romance. She is the author of ten books, her most recent book, The Christmas Coin, released September 2018. She is busy working on her next small-town romance. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her grown children and husband.

To find out about Christina’s upcoming release, visit her website at You can subscribe to her quarterly newsletter through her website and automatically be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card each month, just for being a subscriber.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Birthing a Hero By Elizabeth Noyes

When a reader wants to chat about my books, I let them do the talking. With a few guided questions and a keen ear, their feedback can provide real reader insight. Some may prattle on about the plot while others revisit the location, the twists and turns, hijinks, and scenes that made them laugh or cry. Always, though, without exception, the characters are what kept them turning the pages.

This Amazon review of my first book is from a complete stranger and sums up what many of my readers have told me:

“I am usually not a fan of adventure writing or masculine female characters. Everyone who's already read Imperfect Wings knows it looks, at first glance, like a huge dose of each. Let me tell you, once I reached page 42, I could not put this book down. I loved TJ and Garrett, loved their romance (so refreshingly believable), loved the decency of the brothers and the whole family ...”

After seeing this, I knew my characters were golden. I also realized strong, well-developed characters populate the books I read. In other words, I write what I read.

How do you turn a character into a real, 3-D person that readers will love? 

There are writing resources galore, any of which can explain the mechanics of character development better than I can, but this is how I go about it.

Step 1: Everything that looks too perfect is too perfect to be perfect ...

My hero starts out as a vague idea with genetically determined characteristics. I can’t pick him out of lineup yet, so I sift through online photos until “The One” steps forward and says, “Hello, sweetheart. I’m ready to tell my story.”

Step 2: A rose by any other name ...

Names are important. I dig through census reports, telephone listings, popular baby names of his birth year, and much more because the name has to fit his age, location, ethnicity, family socio-economic status, and his personality.

Memorable characters need memorable names. Think Holly Golightly, Atticus Finch, Inigo Montoya, Hannibal Lecter, Rocky Balboa, and yes, even Christian Grey.

Step 3: Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside ...

Now that I know my hero’s voice and name and can pick him out of a lineup, who is he really?

Readers want living, breathing characters with personality, an ego, faults, feelings, failings, thoughts, reactions, regrets, vulnerabilities, emotions, and much more. These heroes have hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, and sometimes they do stupid things for right or wrong reasons. Just like you and me. That allows the reader to relate ... and connect. All we as writers have to do is imbue these traits in our characters through dialogue (internal and spoken), actions, and emotions. I know I’ve achieved this when I find myself laughing or crying over a scene.


Elizabeth Noyes, award winning author of The Imperfect Series, is an Atlanta resident. She writes edgy, action-packed romantic suspense that reminds us despite our flaws, we each have the ability and the choice to affect right and wrong in our world.

               Amazon Author Page
Imperfect Wings    
Imperfect Trust      
Imperfect Bonds    
Imperfect Lies       
           Imperfect Promises

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How is a Writers' Conference like a Pumpkin-Spice Latte? by Angela Arndt

Warning: the following topic of pumpkin-spice lattes may be divisive and controversial. Take care when mentioning this post in mixed company or among family members.

Time for Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Autumn is Here

The calendar says that autumn began Saturday, September 22nd, but the leaves won’t change until November in my neck-of-the-woods. Here we have two seasons, Unbearably-Hot-and-Muggy followed by Cold-and-Rainy. Our autumn separates the two for about week-and-a-half. But it’s my favorite season, I've already indulged in one of my favorite drinks: pumpkin spice latte or PSL. I love the color with its pumpkin orange and autumn leaf brown swirls in that creamy goodness. But I think the spicy clove-cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg blend tastes like autumn-in-a-cup.

But PSL is understandably a byword for overindulgence to some, especially with all the new and ridiculous pumpkin-spice products that come out each year. There are sweet things of course, like pumpkin-spice cookies and shakes, but can you imagine pumpkin spice kale chips, pumpkin spice pretzels, or even pumpkin spice salsa?

Too much of anything, even something wonderful, is sickening. As much as I love this recipe for PSL, I only buy one can of pumpkin. When the can is empty, there are no more seasonal coffees in this house.

Too Much is Too Much

Laundry, laundry, laundry
Conferences not only teach writers new things, but they all help refresh us. Remember that one conference you attended where you stayed at that gorgeous hotel? People from all over the world gathered and everyone talked the language of writing. And those amazing sessions! Afterward, you talked with friends until the wee hours.

It was as great as that first sip of PSL.


When you returned home, you were exhausted. Thoughts of how to update your website, create tweets and memes, ask engaging questions on your blog posts, plus all the ways you could fix your novel filled your head until it hurt. The list was as enormous as the stack of laundry that somehow doubled in size while you were gone.

Where do you begin? 

Some teachings are full of sweet PSL-ness and while others go down like pumpkin-spice kale. How do you decide which advice to take? Here are a few tips I use:
  • Create a list of Action items from the handouts and your notes, then prioritize. 
  • Is it more important to update your website or should you finish editing your book and in the proposal that agent requested? 
  • If you’ve finished your final edits and you have 27 followers on Facebook, it’s probably time to start making memes. 

Beat the Doubts Before They Begin

I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest - but suffer from a constant strain. Henry David Thoreau**

What did Thoreau mean? His mind is under a constant strain from worry and you may be, too. There's always a “honeymoon” period when you get home. Ideas for your book come free and easy. You'll find time for social media. You may even start making those changes to your website or crafting that proposal.

But, around the time I put the last spoonful of pumpkin in my coffee,
 you’ve probably begun to fall back into your comfortable habits. Worse yet, doubts creep into your mind. “Who do I think I am? I can't do this.” 

Stop worry. Squash those doubts. Keep going. 
Nothing stifles creativity faster than guilt.

Here’re a few tricks that help me when I'm doubting:

  • Create a schedule and try to stick to it. Are you a morning person? Try to find a time to write in the morning. Night owl? Stay up a little later to get a few words in.
  • When you're fast-drafting, words are words, don't worry so much about quality until re-writes.
  • Find a writing friend or two and encourage each other.
  • When you get an encouraging note, email, or message, put it in a special folder so you can re-read it when "the doubts" come.
  • If you see something online that encourages you, share it on your favorite social media. Then, take ten minutes a day to like or comment on your followers’ posts. If you try to encourage someone else every day, you'll be encouraged.
  • When Christmas or a family emergency interrupt, take the time you need to be with your family. Nothing stifles creativity faster than guilt.
  • Write down the reasons you fell in love with writing.
My pumpkin spice lattes are refreshing to me, a signal that change is coming. Writers conferences are meant to renew and refresh writers through teaching, fellowship and even pampering. It's my hope each time I attend one that my writing will change for the better and that I'll be one step closer to my dream. 

Click to Tweet: Writers, when you’re discouraged, try to remember why you fell in love with writing. @aearndt #amwriting

Click to Tweet: How is a writers conference like pumpkin spice latte? Angela Arndt shares the comparison on #SeriouslyWrite. @aearndt #amwriting

What’s the best tip you ever got from a writers conference? 

I've got to ask: how do you feel about pumpkin spice lattes? If you hate them, what's your favorite Autumn tradition? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

About the Author

Angela Arndt
Angela Arndt is Jesus-follower and God-lover. She loves to write women’s fiction with a thread of romance and tell stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations. Her biggest hope is that she will encourage others to overcome their own “back roads” to find their joy in the Lord.

She and her husband, Charles, live on a bee farm in the middle of a big wood with their three dogs, Beau, Harley, Buddy the Wonder Dog, and their new kitten, Poppet.

She's also team-member of Seriously Write. Click here for more posts by Angie. By the way, she'd love for you to join her on her websiteInstagramTwitter, or Facebook

*  TwainQuotes 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Writing Wisdom...Or Things I've Learned From My Chickens

Writing Wisdom...Or Things I've Learned From My Chickens

by Mary Manners

Some of you may know that my husband and I recently relocated to a mini-farm in the foothills of East TN. One of my dreams has always been to raise chickens. Well, with the beautiful coop we inherited with the property, I got right on it. And quickly discovered there are a lot of correlations between raising chickens and the writing process.

My baby chicks arrived and they were so tiny, barely seeds of the chickens they would grow to be. I thought of my writing ideas over the years, all swirling around in my head, and knew that something fabulous was in the future, but it was going to take some time, great dedication, a touch of humor, and a whole lot of patience.

Every day, without exception and even when I was tired, sick, or just plain over it, I tended to my chicks. Though they looked nothing like the adult chickens I had envisioned through all my years of dreaming, beneath the heat of a red lamp in the dead of winter, they began to thrive. Though they were noisy and helpless, often stinky, disorganized, and at times downright frustrating, I continued to love on them without exception, keeping the faith that one day a gift--eggs--would materialize as if from thin air (only I would know how labor intensive eliciting that gift actually truly was).

Well, the chicks ate and they ate (I practically needed a second job just to pay for the feed) and finally, ever so slowly, they began to mature. Finally, the day came for me to release them from the warm confines of their safe, homebound bin to the great outdoors of the coop. With so many predators lurking in the country, I wasn't sure they would make it. But I kept the faith, and had to try.

Well, winter turned to spring, and then spring to summer. I waited and I waited for those eggs to arrive. And while I was waiting, I kept working. I read and studied everything I could find on chickens, asked my chicken-savvy friends for pointers, cleaned the coop, tended to the chickens' needs, and often even sang to them (because what's the point of all that work if there's not a little fun mixed in, as well). During it all, I kept believing that one morning, as a result of all my work, I'd enter the coop and find those elusive gifts--eggs--winking back at me from the nesting boxes. Twenty weeks went by, then twenty-five, twenty-six, nearly thirty. The deadline passed and still I found no eggs. I worried my chickens were somehow defective...somehow not good enough. Even so, I clung to faith.

Then one day...

The happy-dancing commenced, followed by a delicious, farm-fresh breakfast.

So, the moral of this story is...never give up. Have faith and work diligently toward your writing goal. Stay happy and remember to laugh. Share your trials and worries with friends, and lean on them when it's hard. Because your happy-dancing day will come if you hold firm to your faith and stick with it. 

And those eggs...well, they're worth every bit of the hard work and the wait.


When Chloe Rylin flees New York City and her dream of becoming a Broadway performer, she returns to her hometown harboring a life-altering secret and the shame of a shattered past. Best friend Kelsie asks her to help build a house through the local Shelter the Homeless program, where Chloe meets Zack Coleman and his mischievous St. Bernard, Sammy.
Zack is dealing with a devastating loss of his own, yet his gentleness and patience melt Chloe's resolve never to trust, much less fall in love, again. But what will Zack think when he discovers the shame of Chloe's past? Will he reject her, or can their fledgling love heal hurting hearts and blossom into a happily-ever-after, together?


Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and their rescue dog Axel, mischievous cats Colby and Rascal, 6 rambunctious chickens, and 13 fish.
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, September 21, 2018

From Wall to Book by Liz Holtzman

Liz Holtzman

Although writers have common experiences, some are still unique. Most of us have probably heard how blog articles have been turned into books. But, I’d never heard of anything similar to the path Liz Holtzman has taken to publication. This was truly a God-led journey, and I’ve been eager to share it with you. ~ Dawn

From Wall to Book

From wall to book, a journey of stepping out in faith. It started because I began meeting with sixth grade prayer committees in a small kitchen that was no longer being frequently used at our school.  I began to put the information I was teaching them about prayer on a white board.  As is so often true, one thing led to another and pretty soon the walls and cupboards were covered in prayers.

I began inviting teachers and parents to feel welcome to come and “pray the walls.”  Many times, individual ones would say to me, “You should publish a book.”  At first, I would smile and nod, dismissing the idea in my head, because after all I don’t know anything about publishing a book.  Slowly, it began to dawn on me that the Lord might be trying to tell me something.

So, I stood back and looked at the walls to consider what might be publishable.  One wall contained the scripture prayers for character traits I had written to coordinate with our efforts to encourage the development of godly character in our students.  I counted them up and there were 31, one for each day of a month.  Since I don’t believe in coincidences, I took a deep breath and prayed “Ok Lord, I’ll do some research on publishing a book.” 

Thus, began a journey that every step of the way has required me to step out of my comfort zone.  Each time I felt overwhelmed, God has faithfully provided a timely word of encouragement from someone, a solution to a problem, or the courage to stand firm and persevere. 

Sure enough, Proven Character: Praying for Our Children was born and along the way some precious memories. For instance, watching my current sixth grade prayer committee poring over the three book cover options, discussing which one best suited the content of the book and what changes they would make, if any.  

I experienced a special connection and time with cousins who provided me the professional quality photo for the back cover. 

Then, my first proof arrived at the same time the first-grade students I assist were finishing their books for the annual Young Authors and Artists Fair. We had quite a discussion and enjoyed discovering that my book and theirs all had the same parts: cover, title page, dedication, table of contents, introduction, content, and author pages. Our books required hard work and perseverance, but oh, the joy of sharing them at the end. 

The journey has taken me out of my comfort zone, but never out of God’s faithful provision each step of the way. From wall to book, from book to …? Now isn’t that an interesting question? The adventure continues …

We all want our children to become people of proven moral character who value and display wisdom, compassion, and courage.  We want them to have the moral courage to do what is right and walk with integrity. 

Comprised of scripture-inspired prayers for thirty-one character traits and a section of commentary and tips on how to pray powerfully and effectively, Proven Character: Praying for Our Children will give you a systematic way to pray for your children and students. 

Our children are worthy of our prayers.  Our prayers exert a powerful influence upon the spiritual environment in which children make their choices.  As you pray through these specific character traits – one for each day of the month – you will use the truths of God’s word, invite the Holy Spirit’s influence, and impact children’s lives for Christ.

Liz Holtzman is an educator, intercessor, and author. Her passion is to see students become all God intends, rooted and established in Christ. This desire guides her service as leader of several weekly prayer groups, mentor of a sixth-grade prayer committee, classroom assistant, and substitute teacher at a classical Christian school. Liz and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and have two adult children.

Connect with Liz and learn more about her book by visiting:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Layers in Writing by Colleen Coble

Good layers are often the key to making an editor sit up and take notice. So much of the time, stories that hit the editor’s desk are so similar. Romance especially can be tough to make fresh. But it’s all in the layers.

Here are the layers I work on with every story:

1. Setting is huge for me. A character who lives in Boston is very different from one who lives in Indiana. The culture that shaped him/her is different too. Think about where your characters are. Read newspapers from that area and see if you can find a plot layer in what is going on currently there. Is there a culture group that’s strong there? In my Rock Harbor books, the Finnish culture had a huge role and was fun to layer in. The Lonestar series is set on a ranch in Texas that rescues abused horses and matches them with abused children. That idea gripped me by the throat, and that’s what you want your idea to do.

2. Character types. Take a look at character types and pit different types against one another to play off weaknesses and pet peeves. This can add a really great layer of conflict that’s ongoing. Maybe your female lead loves the wilderness and the hero’s idea of a great vacation is a cruise where everything is served to him. Maybe your heroine makes gourmet chocolates and the hero breaks out in hives from the aroma on her clothing. You get the picture!

3. Can you give your protagonist an obsession? That can really springboard you to plot ideas as she pursues it. This is often where to layer in your theme. In The Lightkeeper’s Daughter Addie was obsessed to discover who had paid the lightkeeper to raise her as his own child. And why.

4. Interesting occupation. This leads me to story ideas all the time. I’ve written about a SAR dog team, a dolphin researcher, a smokejumper, an antique quilt expert, and an old time telephone operator at the turn of the century.

5. Think of plot layers that are problems for your main characters. Try to come up with at least three. For example, in Lonestar Homecoming, Gracie is running away in her wedding dress from men who just killed federal agents in front of her. She has no money and no way of supporting her daughter so she agrees to be a nanny to a man’s two children. She’s estranged from her father because only she knows she was responsible for her mother’s death. Keep piling on the problems! Torture your poor character. The problem with many manuscripts I see is that there isn’t enough conflict and it isn’t varied enough. It’s not enough to have just ONE conflict.

Layers will lift your book out of the rejected pile. They will add depth and interest to your characters and your plot. If you’ve already written the book, it’s still not too late to tear into it and make it something special. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch and add the things that need to be there.

Ellie Blackmore is making a name for herself as a house flipper. But when her sister Mackenzie disappears, Ellie can’t focus on anything but uncovering what happened. Her only clue is the bloodstain on the deck of Mackenzie’s boat. Ellie knows her sister isn’t on the best of terms with her ex-husband, Jason, but he wouldn’t kill her—would he?

Coast Guard intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw believes Mackenzie faked her own death after stealing a seized cocaine shipment. The problem is convincing Ellie, who seems to view him as the true enemy.

Both Ellie and Grayson want truth, but truth—and family—is often more complex than it first appears. From international terrorism to the peaceful lavender fields of Puget Sound, The House at Saltwater Point is a thrilling race to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

Amazon Buy Link

USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at and connect at Facebook at

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Write What You Don’t Know (Part Two) by Melanie Dobson

Last week I shared three of the resources I use to “write what I don’t know”—surf the web, explore museums, and invade the library. Following are the final two—and most important—research tools that I rely on to add authenticity, description, and emotion to each of my historical and time-slip stories.

Interview Experts and Locals

Many people love to talk about their childhoods or hobbies or area of expertise, and if I tell them I write fiction, they’ll often give me much more information than I need for the book. Or at least, more than I think I’ll need…

Several months ago, I had the privilege of meeting with a Dutch Jewish gentleman who had been hidden away as a child during World War II. I befriended his sister online after reading a local news article, and she and her brother graciously opened up their world to me over coffee, sharing many personal stories about their own journey and their mother’s struggles and determination living in a concentration camp. Encounters like this one provide me with an enormous amount of information to build my story.

Because I write both historical and contemporary fiction, I’ve interviewed detectives, artists, Quaker friends, World War II heroes, and families of men and women who were part of the French resistance. I’ve spent hours listening to personal accounts about the inner workings of the Mafia, what it was like to grow up in a religious cult, and living in an England manor in the 1950s. Each person, each memory, redirects my plot and adds another layer of authenticity to a fictional story.

Visit the Location

When I researched Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana, I spent several days climbing secret staircases and exploring other hidden places in homes that had once been stations along the Underground Railroad. I drove through the surrounding forest at night, and when I stepped out into the darkness, the owls hooted and the cloud cover masked the stars. My heart raced, and I felt terribly alone—a glimpse of what a runaway slave might have felt like in that horrible blackness, pursued by a slave hunter and his dogs.

When writers evoke the senses on paper, describing what the characters smell, hear, or taste, we invite readers to step directly into our story world. It can be challenging for me to describe the sensory information from a distant location, so I always visit my main settings, meeting the people and learning their stories even as I explore old towns and castles and gardens, scribbling down all the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes along the way.

With each of my novels, I spend about a month slowly compiling the pieces needed to engage readers, typing all the information into folders on Scrivener. Because research has become my favorite part of writing, I have to deliberately set aside my mounds of background work after a month to begin putting my own words on paper. With the details now rooted in my mind, I’ll become completely lost in a story, and for the next three or four months, I’m writing about all that I’ve learned.


From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan―even their very lives―in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story …and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Writing fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of almost twenty books, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical novels including Hidden Among the Stars, Chateau of Secrets, and Catching the Wind. More information about Melanie’s journey is available at

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Testing, Testing." by Zoe M. McCarthy

Picture, if you will, a speaker testing a microphone to see if it works. The speaker taps it and says, “Testing, testing.” Have you ever thought of tough moments as God testing us to find if we’re working well so we can shout out to the world?
Zoe M. McCarthy

God may test us to grow our faith, confidence, courage, and boldness. He wants us ready to do tasks, such as:

  • Teach a Bible study.
  • Write a Bible study.
  • Write a book that depicts a hero or heroine who handles conflict, testing, and challenges in a godly manner.
  • Minster to someone who is confused or hurting.
  • Give beyond tithing to charities that help others and share the gospel.
  • Discipline our children so they can handle the challenges of life when they become adults.
  • Do what's right when doing so will cause us hardships us.
I’ve noticed often when I’m tested, when God taps me, I take a leap in understanding a principle, changing my ways, or receiving the courage to do something God is calling me to do.

Here’s a simple example when testing changed my ways.

Years ago, I had a habit in grocery stores. If I saw someone I recognized in an aisle, I’d zip past that lane and come back to it later. After one shopping trip and I’d avoided a woman I knew, I received a heavy conviction that what I’d done was wrong. I realized the person I avoided might have needed to talk to someone that day. God put her before me, but I had refused to approach her. 

I confessed my habit to my small prayer breakfast group. I told them I couldn’t shake off how awful I felt that I had refused to speak to the woman. One lady captured my attention and spoke with kindness. She said my failure to speak to the woman and my resulting guilt may have been God’s way of preparing me for the future. In an upcoming outing, God wanted me to speak and listen to someone He placed before me. I received an epiphany. In His mercy, God was helping me to give up a habit which put up roadblocks for me to minister to the people He set before me. 

The next time I was in a grocery store, I spotted a friend. I marched over to her and listened to her story. 

What are other tasks might God test us on to prepare us for His future work?
About the Author

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of The Putting Green Whisperer, 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, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at

The Putting Green Whisperer
The Putting Gree Whisperer
by Zoe M. McCarthy

Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for the father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie's reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sports science degree to become his trainer...and then she falls for him.

Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn't ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he's content to be her fist-bumping buddy...but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she's become a distraction to Shoo's career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?