Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas tree decorations in gold and white and mauve*

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, friends!

Your hostesses here at Seriously Write are taking a break during the holidays so we can spend time with our families. We'll return with guests and more writerly encouragement on January 2, 2019.

We wish you a joyous holiday season!

Friday, December 21, 2018

When a Crisis Interrupts Your Writing by Elaine Marie Cooper

Elaine Marie Cooper
Wouldn’t it be nice if life went along without any complications? Too often we’re faced with challenges that affect everything in our world—including our writing. What happens then? Author Elaine Marie Cooper shares part of her personal journey. ~ Dawn

When a Crisis Interrupts Your Writing

It seems hard enough for writers to keep up with word crafting, marketing, and the numerous obligations that come with the writing world. But when a personal crisis interrupts your best-laid plans, it can throw an author for a loop.

My own crisis occurred in 2016. I had prepared to promote the release of three books that year, purchased airline tickets to help my niece with her newborn, and had already paid my registration for Write-To-Publish Conference in Wheaton, Illinois. But other plans happened when severe pain sent me to my doctor. “We have to treat this infection,” he said, then proceeded to tell me all that would be involved.

All I could do was shake my head and say “No.” How could I go through all that when I had other plans? Suddenly the words I’d often read in Proverbs 6:9 were becoming my reality: “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps,” (NKJV). It was a heartbreaking and difficult truth I faced.

Fighting back tears, I canceled my reservations and worked with my editors about setting up edit schedules that didn’t collide with my treatments. I was so grateful I had a job I could do from my bed. But recovery was long and difficult, not to mention painful, and I clung to God, my husband, and friends to help me through.

When the worst was over, I faced doubts: Would I ever be capable of writing again? I felt battered and beaten, both emotionally and physically. What if I’d lost my ability to craft words? Recovery seemed slow, but God hung in there with me and all my inadequacies. I had to trust Him that I could do this with His help. Slowly, the creativity returned.

Since then I’ve contracted a 4-book series and written a novella and two novels. The novella and one novel (War’s Respite and Love’s Kindling) will release in January of 2019. I am so grateful to the Lord for not just seeing me through my health emergency, but for giving me the strength to re-emerge as an author. Hopefully, as a caterpillar goes through its physical crisis in the chrysalis, my words will metamorphose as a butterfly and take flight to the hearts of my readers. I was more than ready to come out of the cocoon of darkness.

Perhaps you’re a writer who’s been through your own unexpected trauma: The death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, a family crisis? Please share a bit about your story and I will pray for you. Or just reply, “Pray” and I will do so for you.

During the American Revolution in 1779, Aurinda Whitney lives with her cold and calloused father, an embittered veteran of the previous war. Aurinda’s life changed forever when her father returned for her after that war, taking her away from the only place she’d ever experienced affection. Since her father blamed his daughter for the death of his wife in childbirth, Aurinda is convinced she is unworthy of love.

Zadok Wooding believes he is a failure as he tends the smithy at home while others go to battle against the British. Just when he has an opportunity to become a hero, he is blinded in an accident. Now he fears he will never live up to the Biblical “mighty man of valor” for whom he was named.

When the couple meet, they are both challenged to overcome adversity as well as their inadequacies. Unexpected secrets of their past emerge that can change their lives forever. But can they look past their present circumstances to heal—and find love?

Elaine Marie Cooper is the award-winning author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany’s Calendar. Her latest release (Saratoga Letters) was a finalist in Historical Romance in both the Selah Awards and Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She penned the three-book Deer Run Saga and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. She freely admits to being a history geek. Look for her upcoming releases, War’s Respite and Love’s Kindling. This 4-book series, which is set in Revolutionary War Connecticut, is entitled Dawn of America

You can visit her site at  and connect on Facebook at

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Merry Christmas by Terri Weldon

It’s almost midnight and I should have been writing this post weeks ago. Instead I’ve been running around shopping, meeting friends, decorating, reading books and watching way too many Hallmark movies!

It’s all too easy to get so busy that we forget why we’re doing all this celebrating. Jesus came to earth as a baby. He left His throne in heaven to live a human life without sin so that ultimately He could bear our sins.

When I think of that incredible gift my Christmas list full of things I don’t even need seems pretty insignificant. And the gifts I can offer others pale by comparison. 

I pray this Christmas that you’ll find a quiet place, take a few minutes, and focus on God’s gift to us. Then with a heart full of peace, enjoy your time with family and friends.

How do you stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas? Do you enjoy the holidays or find them overwhelming?


Mistletoe Magic
Misty Winslow is determined to find her prince, and she meets the man of her dreams through an Internet dating service. Or is he, because the new dentist in town also sets her heart aflutter. It's love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal, Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99—Tyler's online persona. How can he tell her he's the man she's been waiting to meet, and how rational is it for him to be jealous of Wes99! Soon Tyler's pulling out all the stops to woo Misty. As Christmas approaches, Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the mistletoe. Which man will she choose?

Amazon Buy Link
The Christmas Bride Wore Boots

Pastor Jacob Thompson is in need of a director for the living nativity program and veterinarian Molly Kincaid offers to take on the job. The task involves far more than Molly bargained for, nonetheless she’d do anything to help out the man she secretly loves – even sew costumes or cast eight-year-old Wesley Simpson as an angel.

Jacob’s daughter Emma longs to have a mommy of her own, but the widowed pastor has vowed to never remarry, and isn’t ready to open his heart to love again. Molly dreams of filling the void in both their lives, but fears she lacks the necessary qualities to be a pastor’s wife.

As Molly and Jacob work together on the living nativity, their feelings for one another grow. Will Molly realize she is just what Jacob and Emma need in their lives? Can Jacob be released from his grief stricken promise? Could this unlikely duo prove to be a match made in heaven?
Amazon Buy Link

Terri Weldon enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in the Heartland of the United States. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA.

Readers can connect with Terri: Website: or Blog: Seriously Write

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Long Haul by Robin Lee Hatcher

When I began writing my first novel in March 1981, I wasn't thinking about a writing career or what might come next. To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about the possibility of it being published. I simply had a story in my head and heart that would not let go of me, and finally I sat down with legal pad and pen and I began writing.

I finished that book in 1981, and I sold it to a small New York publisher in 1982. It was released in 1984. Who I Am with You, a Legacy of Faith novel, came out last week. It's my 79th release.

Many years. Many books.

So how does a writer stay in it for the long haul? For me, the key has been to always write the story that has captured my imagination. Many times through the years I've heard someone ask a writer (including me), "Have you written the book of your heart?" My response to that question is, "Every book is a book of my heart. Otherwise, how could I stand to be immersed in it for days, weeks, and months at a time?"

A writer should also be open to new possibilities in their writing. My first books were historical sagas. Those soon morphed into historical romances. As a history buff and a diehard romantic, I never thought I would write anything other than historical romances. But the day came when an idea for a contemporary women's fiction would not let go of my heart.

It was scary to move out of my comfort zone, but there was no denying that this novel had to be a contemporary and had to have God at the very center of it. That book became The Forgiving Hour, my 31st release. In the years since, I've written many more contemporary and historical novels. My new series, Legacy of Faith, is a blend of both—time-slip novels.

Finally, the way a novelist stays in it for the long haul is to remember to have a life. It's easy to stay in one's imaginary world. But if we are to have anything worthwhile to share with readers, we must be experiencing the world around us. So remember to turn off your computer, step away from your desk, and live. Your readers will thank you for it.


Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher was first published in 1984. There are over five million
copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love.

Robin is an ACFW Carol Award winner and an eight-time finalist and has won two RITA® Awards and been a finalist eleven times. Her numerous other awards include the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America®.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

God Arranges Amazing Things by Zoe M. McCarthy

I had prepared the lesson for Wednesday’s Community Bible study. Even under a tight book deadline, writing the weekly lesson came first. God would give me the time for the deadline. Didn’t God arrange amazing things?
Zoe M. McCarthy

We’d had to change the venue of the study to my church’s basement fellowship hall. Sunday at church, a member approached me and said, “It will be very cold this week. I’ll come to the church and turn the heat and water on for you ladies, and on the way home from my dog’s teeth cleaning, I’ll turn them off.”

His thoughtfulness amazed me. I hadn’t thought of these necessary tasks, but the man read the change in the bulletin and realized our need. God arranges amazing things.

On the day of the study, I wondered whether we’d have many attend class this week. Some ladies had doctor appointments or needed to drive someone else to a doctor appointment. One suffered laryngitis and another was home battling an unknown diagnosis. Two others had to stay home with spouses recovering from surgeries. One worked at a temporary job. Our normal host was away on a trip. And the venue change might keep one or two away. The day was wet, blustery, and below freezing. Another deterrent to leaving homes.

Maybe no one would come, and that was God’s plan in answer to my prayers on making my deadline. Also, I wouldn’t have to prepare a lesson for the next week. Time was so precious.

When I arrived, the fellowship hall was toasty. I set up for the study. At ten o’clock, no one had arrived. Then a truck passed the basement window. I was disappointed that only two of us would experience the lesson from John 15 about how we disciples need to love each other. 

The one arrival, I’ll call her Sandy, entered. When she saw we were only two out of eighteen ladies, she suggested we spend the time praying. I liked the idea. While we talked about several concerns to pray for, the door opened. Lisa appeared. (Not her real name.) Lisa shocked me. She was the last lady I expected to come. But God arranges amazing things.

I told the ladies the subject of the lesson. They decided we should save the important lesson for the other ladies. I told them having a lesson prepared for next week would help me with my deadline. 

While Sandy and I shared with Lisa our concerns we’d pray in confidence, Lisa stopped us. She said, “I can’t believe how open you can be about your families’ problems. I want to do that where it’s safe.” Lisa shared a story that had been a concern in her heart for years. We held hands, prayed for all our concerns, and promised to keep praying for them privately. Lisa said. “I’m so glad I came!” 

We had learned the planned lesson—how disciples love one another. We experienced it in the room’s heat, in the tiny group, in the listening, in the praying, and, yes, even in my deadline. God can arrange amazing things.

What amazing thing has God done for you this past week? This past year?

What amazing thing has God done for you this past week? This past year? @zoemmcarthy #amazinggod

About the Author
Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript
in 30 Days
by Zoe M. McCarthy
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. She also has a nonfiction book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, coming out in January 2019. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, hosting a prayer shawl ministry, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at

The revising method in Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days works for any fiction genre. It’s designed for the writer who has at least a draft of a completed manuscript. The goal is to shape a not-yet-submitted, rejected, or self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The method can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Tradition of Storytelling by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
I host Christmas Eve festivities for my extended family each year. What that means is, as you read this post, I’m frantically performing ‘white glove’ inspections of guest sleeping quarters, I’m decorating, I’m gift wrapping, I’m baking, and…I’m thinking, as always, about storytelling.

In the midst of what I affectionately refer to as my own version of ‘Christmas Cray-cray’ I stretched out in bed and read a devotional that stilled me and left me thinking about the tradition of sharing history, circumstance, and experience via the art of storytelling.

When I thought about it, I realized: This happens most especially at Christmas.

The most ancient and beautiful custom we have is that of sharing our stories and history with those we love who gather around us, sharing food, fellowship, and love. In my home, we assemble at a table overflowing with the favorite dishes we simply couldn’t do without each year: Grandma DeCou’s sugar cookies, Grandma DeSantis’ artichoke hearts following a traditional Italian feast of pasta, meatballs and salad.

Around this table, there’s reminiscence of growing up, lessons learned, people present, people passed; each moment forms the tapestry of our family table cloth, each story forms a piece of our shared lives. Christmas is a time rife with the exchange of not just gifts, but family history, some of it sweet, tender, and funny, some of it bitter-sweet.

Through it all, storytelling sparks continuity. Storytelling sparks a desire in the hearts of those who follow in our footsteps to carry on those precious traditions—not out of obligation but out of love and joyful remembrance. Out of respect for all the ways we stay connected even if logistical and heavenly distance keeps us apart.

I wonder if that isn’t how Jesus’ ministry not only built but sustained. He shared table with his disciples, and that table his disciples followed that tradition, moving Christianity from home to home, heart to heart, neighbor to neighbor, nation to nation, until nothing could stand in its way. So much like our own lives and families, right?

Nothing can stand in our way this holiday season. Share the laughter, share the tears and joys, share the victories and close-calls with those you love the most. My encouragement this month, my hope and prayer, is to share the truth that, even if you’ve heard Uncle Homer’s story a hundred times before’, maybe you can hear it for a hundred and one times. After that, remember to share it. To keep that flickering candle flame moving from taper to taper. Such is how legacies are not just born, but enriched, and passed on to the next generation.

This Christmas, light the world. Share your history, your light and never doubt its impact to shine for decades to come.




            Dustin Farrell is expected to succeed. He’s gifted with the means and ability to take the world of business development by storm…and he’s doing just that, right on plan.

As Christmas approaches, he’s called home, to Hope Creek, Tennessee. He’s been given a slam-dunk objective from his investors: Take a small, local art shop and expand it into the retail mainstream.

Lillianna Bennett, Dustin’s former high school classmate, is part owner of Purple Door Art Market. Long ago, her shy sweetness captured his imagination, but nothing came of the affectionate flame between them.

Until a reunion at Christmas Inn. Dustin presents his offer, realizing the wallflower of his youth has bloomed into a confident, talented woman with the kind of free-spirited heart for which he always longed. And he wonders: Is a life of expectation, and ‘more’ what he really wants? Will his professional quest end up compromising Lillianna if her gifts and business become part of a wider view?

Most of all, will love be lovelier...the second time around?


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of faith-affirming fiction who has won acclaim from critics and readers. RT Book Reviews named her book Forgiveness a 4.5-Star Top Pick and readers laude her books as ‘riveting’ and ‘true to heart.’ She’s a life-long resident of Michigan who calls suburban Detroit home.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Gift of Encouragement by Dawn Kinzer

Less than two weeks until Christmas! Do you feel ready? Are you filled with anticipation of what’s to come? Or are you stressed out about shopping for the picky teenager, an elderly parent, or that family member who already has everything he needs?

It’s crazy how much focus is put on purchasing large quantities of gifts—or items that don’t fit budgets. My husband shakes his head at the number of car commercials, asking if companies really expect people to buy new SUVs to put under the tree. I worked for a high-end dealership for a number of years, so I can attest to the fact that people do purchase cars, attach enormous bows on top, and gift them to family members this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong! We experience a great deal of joy in finding treasures to put under the Christmas tree for our grandchildren. Who doesn’t have a big soft spot for their grandkids? But the adults in our family have gone in a different direction concerning each other and focus more on spending time together.

Certainly, there are people within our families and communities who really need tangible items to make their lives easier. If we’re able to give, it’s important to share what we can. But sometimes, even what we deem small and insignificant can make a difference in lives. Sometimes . . . mere words of encouragement when needed the most can feel like a wonderful present covered with shiny gold paper.

At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished … It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back. 
~ Denzel Washington

I’m grateful for what the writing community has given me. Through the years, authors have mentored, encouraged, and prayed for me. In return, I try to give back to others in those same ways. I’ve been able to see my dreams come to fruition—and it’s my hope that I can watch others experience the same.

But, what about you? Is there someone in your life who’s pursuing a dream and could use a little encouragement? A bit of mentoring? Even a prayer? Is there some way you could help that person get a step closer to accomplishing desired goals? What a wonderful Christmas gift that might be for someone struggling.

However, this type of gifting doesn’t have to be associated with a career. You might know parents who are simply dreaming about the ability to plan a date night without worrying about finding and paying a good babysitter. So, how are you with handling a toddler?

Who needs your words of encouragement today? Who can you help accomplish a dream?

The Daughters of Riverton
Take a trip back to the early 1900s and spend time in the small farming community of Riverton, Wisconsin, where people find the courage to forgive, pursue their dreams—and love.

These full-length novels complete The Daughters of Riverton historical romance series. Though they follow a time sequence with some characters playing a role in every story, each book is a stand-alone romance featuring a different couple.

Questions that can be used for self-reflection or discussion are included at the end of each story.

Included in this boxed set:
Sarah’s Smile
Hope’s Design
Rebecca’s Song

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.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who’s Flying This Plane? by Linda Thompson

You could almost class it as a trope or archetype—the writer with hundreds of rejections. Every time I tell someone I’m a writer, the question seems to follow: “Have you experienced a lot of rejections, then?”

Yes, is the answer. It’s part of the game. And if you have a manuscript you’re shopping, you know the drill. The critique groups and classes and conferences and paid editors—and the learning process isn’t cheap, by the way! The query piles and hopeful meetings. The emailing of book proposals and samples and “fulls.” The waiting, waiting… waiting. And then, of course, another email conveying a polite rejection. 

It isn’t personal, although it’s wrenchingly hard not to take it that way.

Lord, aren’t you calling me to write? Don’t you want people to read this story?

If you’re reading this, I can guess the answer to that is a “yes.” But, here’s something I know. First and foremost, the Lord is using the ups and downs of your journey to call you into a deeper relationship with Himself. What an amazing honor! But being clay worked by the potter’s fingers doesn’t always feel good!

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. For the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3) Hardships come to prove—and in many cases, improve—the quality of our faith. That’s the outcome that actually matters.

The Lord has spoken to me on a few occasions via “Mount Moriah moments.” Moments of deep discouragement where I questioned the calling. If my manuscript was my “child of promise,” if I picked it up because He had called me to it, was I ready to surrender it on His command as well?

If you’re a Christian writer, you’re probably familiar with Allen Arnold and his book, The Story of With. It’s an extended allegory of a creative who seeks self-actualization and worldly success, but without a deep partnership with her Heavenly Father. She ultimately learns that the endpoint is not the point. The real point is the journey—with God. 

My most discouraging “Mount Moriah moment” came a couple of years ago, when my first agent dropped me. I didn’t even know that was a thing! This person had been so generous to coach and mentor me through several revisions. Only a few months earlier my manuscript had garnered a significant industry award, which I know would not have happened without that agent’s guidance.

Award ceremony photo goes here. Caption: Me in 2016, at a big glam awards ceremony, the evening I was blessed to see my manuscript win the ACFW Genesis contest. Pinch me! But… still no path to publication.

I couldn’t fathom going through the querying process again. Lord, what are you telling me?

He was telling me what He tells us all. At the end of the day, it’s not about any earthly outcome. It’s about our relationship with Him. About relying on Him through the journey.

Today, my saga appears to have ended in what the world would call success. A respected agent (Wordserve Literary) and a three-book contract with a quality publisher. My debut novel, a World War II story inspired by true events from the Doolittle Raid of April, 1942, was released on December 1. And it’s a beautiful “book baby,” if I do say so myself! Thank you, Mountain Brook Ink! Plus, my street team has been wonderful, and the feedback from early readers and reviewers has been very heartening.

But! I have to tell you that the battle over who owns this book doesn’t go away, because it’s a battle between flesh and spirit. Each open door just moves the conflict to a new field. Two years ago, the wrestling with the Lord was over whether anyone would publish my—oops, His!—story. Now the question is whether anyone (or, rather, enough “anyones”) will read it. How does my one little book get attention amidst Amazon’s eight million titles?

As my husband likes to annoyingly point out: if it’s really His, won’t He bring the audience?

I’ll offer you a note of encouragement I often come back to. Naturally, during my lengthy journey to publication I meditated on scriptures on waiting. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31), right? I noticed for the first time that the word for “wait” in this passage has a sense of being intertwined.

From the Complete Word Study Bible:

קָוָה qāwāh: A verb meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope….

I should be so intertwined with my Lord that my will disappears into His! Didn’t Jesus also say something like this—something about abiding? “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

At the end of the day, I’m not after book sales. Not really. I’m after spiritual fruit, right? I want the story to impact lives. That will only come through abiding in Jesus. Not through my own fleshly efforts to drive the book-marketing flywheel.

There’s no question that it’s the Lord who brought me this far. I’m waiting and praying to see what He will do through this novel, and future writing ventures. And if He should call me to put my WIP in a virtual drawer and my writing career on the altar (again)? Well, I think I’m ready for that too.


I’m hosting my Grand Launch Giveaway until 12/31—still plenty of time to get in on the action! Click here for details on the prizes—including two beautiful coffee mugs, a hand-painted vintage silk scarf from Japan, and a copy of Unbroken: The Path to Redemption on DVD—and how to enter.


“A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it's a stay-up-all-night read."
- Jerry B. Jenkins, 21-time New York Times bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge—In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission—Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories where reckless faith meets relentless redemption. Her recently launched debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn't writing, you'll find her rollerblading–yes, that does make her a throwback–taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan and a visit to Wales.

Linda loves to connect with readers! Linda’s website: Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Bookbub.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Designing Covers that Appeal to Both Men and Women by Carol Ashby

We all know a visually stunning, genre-appropriate cover is essential for a potential reader to check out a book. But designing one can be a challenge when your target audience includes both men and women.

I write stories about dangerous times, difficult friendships, and lives transformed by forgiveness and love. Reviews and ratings tell me both men and women enjoy these historical novels because there’s much more to the plot than the romance woven through it. But for a cover to appeal to men, it must say “historical,” not “romance,” at first glance.

I’ve investigated what might encourage a man to pick up a book to read the blurb or click to the sales page for the description. Using my own covers, I’ve found four key features. When my designer, Roseanna White, captured the tension, the covers of Forgiven and Blind Ambition naturally appealed to men. Then a comment by a male friend on the first version of the third led me to investigate what could make a man see “historical” rather than “romance” at first glance. And as we all know, that first glance is all we can count on. 

Four features that invite men to check out these books:

1) A man is prominent on the cover and not in close contact with the woman.

This suggests the story won’t be entirely from the female POV. I write novels with multiple POV characters. The prominent man promises many important scenes from the POV a man naturally understands. Direct contact announces “romance,” but separation implies more to the relationship than that.

2) The woman isn’t dressed in revealing clothing or anything too feminine.

If the clothing is very feminine, she should have a body type better descripted as athletic than full-figured. This downplays the “romance” feeling of the cover. The original version (left) of The Legacy cover and the final version (right) show how subtle the difference can be between a cover that says “romance” and one that says “historical.” 

3) Direct eye contact between the man and woman shouldn’t be obvious.

On romance covers, the man and woman often gaze into each other’s eyes. As a male friend who also writes Christian fiction told me, men do enjoy romance in a novel, but they don’t want the book they’re reading to look like it’s a romance. They make a distinction between a romantic historical, which appeals to men, and a historical romance, which does not.

4) Some element of the design has to suggest action.

The covers of Forgiven and Blind Ambition both feature men in uniform. The first version of Second Chances said “romance” to my male consultants until the man was given a hand ax. As soon as he held that tool, the impression switched from romance to historical.

For The Legacy and Faithful, the background scenery suggests action. The ship promises a journey, and the amphitheater hints at men in combat. The dagger hanging on the man’s belt adds to the impression of conflict as well.

There’s so much more to this, and I’ve posted a longer discussion of a survey I did at my website, I’d love to fold in your comments there as well.

When you look at the covers, what do you see first? Does that element suggest romance or historical to you? Why?

Especially for you men: do you think the four factors have broad application outside the historical genre? Can you share anything that’s a turn-off that might keep you from checking out the book description?


Carol Ashby has been a professional writer for most of her life, but her articles and books were about lasers and compound semiconductors (the electronics that make cell phones, laser pointers, and LED displays work). She still writes about light, but her Light in the Empire series tells stories of difficult friendships and life-changing decisions in dangerous times, where forgiveness and love open hearts to discover their own faith in Christ. Her fascination with the Roman Empire was born during her first middle-school Latin class. A research career in New Mexico inspires her to get every historical detail right so she can spin stories that make her readers feel like they’re living under the Caesars themselves.

To connect with Carol and learn more about her books, please visit:

Author website: (
History website: Life in the Roman Empire: Historical Fact and Fiction (

Must the shadows of the past destroy the hope of the future?

In AD 122, Cornelia Scipia, proud daughter of one of Rome's noblest families, learns her adulterous husband plans to betroth their daughter to the vicious son of his best friend. Over her dead body! Cornelia divorces him, reclaims her enormous dowry, and kidnaps her own daughter. She plans to start over with Drusilla a thousand miles away. No more husbands for her. But she didn’t count on meeting Hector, the widowed Greek captain of the ship carrying her to her new life.
Devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter, Hector’s heart begins to heal as he befriends Drusilla. Cornelia’s sacrificial love for Drusilla and her courage and humor in the face of the unknown earn his admiration…as a friend. Is he ready for more?
Marriage to the kind, honest sea captain would give Drusilla the father she deserves…and Cornelia the faithful husband she’s always longed for. But while her ex-husband hunts them to drag Drusilla back to Rome, secrets in Hector’s past and the chasms between their social classes and different faiths erect complicated barriers to any future together. Will God give two lonely hearts a second chance at happiness?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Four Things Every Writer Wants for Christmas By Marie Wells Coutu

Christmas Gifts under a Christmas Tree
When the Christmas catalogs from Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward's arrived in early December, my sister and I would spend the day going through each page and making our Christmas list.

These days, the grandchildren are more likely to scroll and click through Amazon to make their wish list. But the excitement is the same-the expectations and hope of finding that special something under the tree on Christmas Day.

I’m at the stage of life where it’s difficult to come up with a list when my husband and children ask for one. Many of the physical items I want or need come with a cord—but my husband claims a cord disqualifies it as a Christmas gift. Other things I could put on my list are courses or books on writing, but since those are for my writing business, he eliminates them, too. Sweet, but making a gift list becomes a challenge.

However, I have come up with a short list that every writer will probably agree they’d love to have for Christmas this year:

Time. If there’s one thing every writer I know wishes for, it’s more time to write. Generally, we have so many story ideas ruminating that we’ll never live long enough to write them all. Whether we write full-time, work a day job and write at night and on weekends, or care for the family while squeezing in writing time when we can, there’s never enough of it. So, yes, Santa, please bring me more time when I can concentrate on writing. (And please throw in a bit of self-discipline while you’re at it.)

Encouragement. Each of us needs encouragement from our family, our friends, and our writing buddies. Best of all is an encouragement/accountability partner who understands the frustrations of struggling to write and who challenges us to keep learning the craft and improving our skills while also reminding us God has called us to this journey. I’m grateful to have such a person in my life; if you don’t, I pray for you to find one this year.

Courage. Ironic this word is found in the previous item, “encouragement,” since those encouragers can help us take the steps needed to succeed in this industry. We need the courage to approach agents and publishers, to ask others to read our books, to write stories outside of our comfort zone, to learn what we don’t know. Most of all, we need the courage to expose ourselves, our emotions, our history through our characters, whether fictional or not. I think I’ll ask for a double dose of courage on my Christmas list.

Words. Most of all, what I want for Christmas this year are words—the right words, words that tell a story, words that reach into the hearts of readers and resonate with truth. I know Santa Clause can’t bring me this gift, and neither can my family or my friends. Only God can infuse such words into my heart so they flow out through my writing.

My Christmas wish this year? That every writer (including me) receives these four gifts and, as a result, feels God’s pleasure as we write.

Which of these gifts are you lacking right now? Let us know in the comments section below.

4 things every writer wants for Christmas. @mwcoutu #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips #writerslife
About the Author

Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu’s newest novel, The Secret Heart, from Write Integrity Press, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.

The Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu
You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook page (Author Marie Wells Coutu), at her website (, or follow her on Twitter (@mwcoutu) or on

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