Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Encouragement for Writers by June Foster

Whether we're beginning writers or multi-published, we all get discouraged. Sometimes it's tempting to say, "I quit." But, I hope this devotional offers a bit of insight and hope.

When I read passages from the Bible, I can't help but relate them to the task of writing. This morning Psalm 37: 4 jumped out at me.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

So as Christians and writers, we delight ourselves in the Lord daily. How can editing tough passages and receiving rejections from editors and agents be delightful?

First, I believe we should firmly understand our identity—who we are. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." 2Corinthians 5: 17. We are different creatures now with new purposes and motives. We don't write for our own glory but for His.

Next, we trust in God's leadership. He has the ability to accomplish his work in us. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3: 5. Even if things aren't going like we think they should, trust that God is in control. Since I received another rejection letter today, I can speak with certainty and first hand experience.

So, now that means God will give me the desire of my heart. Right? Yes, definitely. Whether it's publication of a novel or another use of our writing talents, God will accomplish His purpose for us and we can delight in that. Then someday, we'll hear those words: "Well done my good and faithful servant."

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Dear Lord, help me to trust in Your perfect plan for me through my writing. You instilled the desire within my heart so I can be confident You have a purpose for my work. Amen.

How can editing tough passages and receiving rejections from editors and agents be delightful? via @vjifoster #SeriouslyWrite #devotion #amwriting

Frances Matthew Hall is obedient to family tradition: all firstborn sons will serve as a priest. Now Matt officiates at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. But when on Easter Sunday, he notices a beautiful young woman who takes his breath away, he must fight against his attraction to her or leave the priesthood and alienate his entire family.

Mary Louise Graham is a middle school teacher and devout catholic. Yet no amount of service to the community can ease the heavy load of guilt she carries. God can never forgive her unspeakable mistake. But when Father Matt tells her about a forgiving God through His son Jesus Christ, she's free. Only thing, the Godly priest now means more to her than he should.
Can two people find their way to each other amidst insurmountable obstacles? 

Dreams Deferred is inspired by the author's great grandfather and great grandmother's story.

June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June's characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. To date June has seen publication of 19 novels and 1 devotional. Find June at

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Flaws by Shannon Redmon

Flaws. We all have them. No matter how we try to hide them, sometimes the little monsters emerge forth from the shadows of our soul and mar the perfect façade we think we’ve created. We become exposed, broken—some might even say weak.

But thankfully God uses flawed and foiled people for great things.

King David was a man who followed after God’s own heart but also committed adultery and murder. When he recognized his flaws, he repented and God continued to use him.

Moses, also a murderer, humbly knelt on holy ground before a burning bush and accepted God’s call to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Peter stuck his foot in his mouth more times than not, denied Christ three times, and grieved his shortcomings. God used this man to add thousands to his eternal kingdom.

The key to their success was not their failures or imperfect actions, but their ability to recognize their flaws and give them to the One who could turn their tainted choices into something beyond themselves.

We must do the same, not only in our lives, but also in our writing.

How many times have we written a story, submitted the work for review, to a contest or even to a publisher, only to find later there were mistakes in the first paragraph? We thought we had the piece perfect, checking and rechecking, but low and behold, there is a flaw staring us right in the face like a huge pimple on our foreheads with the prom only a few hours away.

Our minds go into overdrive. How can I fix this? Should I resubmit? Maybe I’ll pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone so nothing like this happens ever again. Our thinking turns negative and we cry, thinking to ourselves that no one will ever love our writing with its flaws.

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Isn’t this what we want? That God’s power be made perfect through our flawed writing? When we are weak, He is strong.

So, let’s pull back our hair from our faces, our arms from covering the incomplete words God gave us, and show off our imperfections. Let others know we aren’t perfect in life, in our choices, or even in our writing.

Remember, God loves to use broken, repentant authors.

The key to the success of many biblical well-knowns was the ability to recognize their flaws and give them to the One who could turn their tainted choices into something beyond themselves. #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting @shannon_redmon @MaryAFelkins

Shannon Redmon remembers the first grown up book she checked out from the neighborhood book mobile. A Victoria Holt novel with romance, intrigue, dashing gentlemen and ballroom parties captivated her attention. For her mother, the silence must have been a pleasant break from non-stop teenage chatter, but for Shannon, those stories whipped up a desire and passion for writing.
There's nothing better than the power of a captivating novel, a moving song or zeal for a performance that punches souls with awe. A rainbow displayed after a horrific storm or expansive views on a mountaintop bring nuggets of joy into our lives. Shannon hopes stories immerse readers into that same kind of amazement, encouraging faith, hope and love, guiding our hearts to the One who created us all.

Shannon's writing has been published in Spark magazine, Splickety magazine, the Lightning Blog, The Horse of My Dreams compilation book, Romantic Moments compilation book, Seriously Write blog and Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog. Her current fiction novel was selected as a top three finalist of the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Connect with Shannon:
The StoryMoore Blog, named in memory of her father, Donald Eugene Moore.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Sometimes Story Overrides Rules by Annette M. Irby


The story gushed onto the laptop screen. Wait, let’s back up a second. Not the story first. First, the characters. Vibrant. Living. Talking-to-me-already characters. I could see them. I learned their names. I easily found matching photographs online for the ensemble cast. I hadn’t written books with so many characters before. But this book’s hero had a posse. These guys hung out together, rooted for each other. And, rule-breakers that they were, they were on screen from the opening pages of the book. As if they didn’t care that we writers have a slew of rules, one of them being to keep the character count to a minimum as a story opens. Nope. Turns out, they were more concerned with the story, and jumping right in meant finding them in the inciting incident scene with my hero. A heap of peeps. Together and indifferent to my plight.

I didn’t set out to write an ensemble-cast novel, but the story took me for a ride.

NaNo is a time of fast-drafting—where you prepare ahead of time with character sketches and perhaps an outline or a thought or two, and then dive in once November 1 rolls around. Your goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. No small feat during the holidays. On deadline for a contract, that’s what I did—prepped ahead. I can tell you where I was sitting as, in late October, these guys filled my head, showing up and, as adrenaline junkies often do, showing off.

So, should rules dictate how our stories come together, or how they read at completion? Yes and no. I’ve worked in acquisitions, and I’ve published novels. I understand both sides. I’m guessing I’ve rejected a manuscript because the author didn’t follow the rules, but if the story reeled me in and held on to me, some writing rules were negotiable. (I know. Eeeps!) At various writers’ conferences in my life as an author, I’ve heard publishing representatives say repeatedly, “I’m looking for a good story. A new, fresh idea. Strong story is everything.”

Should rules paralyze us? Maybe not, and here’s why:

Rules change. Even spelling preferences change. A few years ago, the preference in the editors’ go-to choice for spelling (Merriam Webster online) for “goodbye” was “good-bye.” Then, without warning, replaced their preference and poof! All of us had a choice to make. Publishing house style guides were rewritten. A rule had changed. What about the pesky comma before "too"? Used to be, we needed to include it. Now, not so much, most of the time. Or what I call "priority commas," where you forego using one or more commas because others already in the sentence aid meaning without an overload of punctuation. Some houses practice this, some do not.

Trends change. A decade or more ago, a genre known as ChickLit thrived. But you won’t find many books in this genre coming out these days. Point-of-view is another area that has changed over the years. Now, editors and readers prefer purist point of view, rather than switching heads within a scene (head-hopping), or seeing things from God’s perspective (omniscient), or, what I call “collective POV” where we experience more than one person’s perspective at any given time. Like: They all felt better when the fire alarm stopped blaring. That may be true, but show us through your POVC (point-of-view character) rather than getting into everyone’s perspective at once.

Various editors and publishers have their own style guides. The Chicago Manual of Style only covers so much. The writers of CMS leave many things to interpretation, indicating that clarity should be the editor's  (and writer's) goal. Because of this, editors and publishers have in-house style guides for what-to-do-when-faced-with most textual situations. You could appease seven in ten editors, and the other three may shake their heads at your grammatical, spelling, or storytelling choices.

Preferences differ. Oh, find me a roomful of folks who can all agree on anything and you may have worked a miracle. Editors have varying opinions. Readers, the same. Some love a genre, some hate it. Some have pet peeves that you’ve never thought of as you write. Poke one of those, and you may receive a negative review. Some readers balk because they read your Christian book and you included talk of . . . gulp, Christ in the narrative.

One of the keys for writers and editors is avoiding confusion. If you can write a story that engages us without disorienting us, you're halfway there. Editors can help you clean up any other manuscript issues. At times, story rules over writing rules.

Done well, story sweeps both writer and reader away, and extra kudos to the storytellers who can transport editors. Though I had a partial outline, I didn’t anticipate all the elements I’d include in my Bainbridge book. I was surprised as I fast-drafted. And then, the story seemed to be working, so, since it was NaNo and since the story line was engaging, I didn’t back down. Sure, I knew the rules. The story, the characters, the plot didn’t care.

Your turn: Have you ever had to overcome a writing rule in order to write a stronger story? How did that go? Would you do it again? Does knowing the rules of story paralyze you? How do you overcome?

When story overrides writing rules. Today at #SeriouslyWrite. @annettemirby #seriouslywrite #amwriting #BainbridgeIslandNovel

That time my ensemble-cast characters didn't care about writing rules. @annettemirby #seriouslywrite #amwriting #BainbridgeIslandNovel


FL on Bainbridge Island
Finding Love on Bainbridge Island, Washington by Annette M. Irby

Book Two in the Washington Island Romance series.

Find book three, the latest release, here.

Kindle Unlimited members can read the Washington Island Romance series for free.

Neither of them is ready for a relationship, but love may not give them an out.

Jenna-Shea Brown considers herself a broken therapist. Years ago, she witnessed something that caused PTSD. She can’t let her boss or her patients know about her battle. Who would want to trust her to help them, when she can’t help herself? She’s finally able to find a fresh start in her family’s beach cabin, but the renovations aren’t complete. Her parents have hired her ex-boyfriend to finalize them, but his negligence led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago.

Liam Barrett is trying to prove he’s nothing like his deadbeat dad. He’s working hard, yet still failing. Adrenaline and adventure offer him a diversion, but maybe he can’t escape his genes. He’d like to make things right with Shea, but he’s unsure if she’ll forgive him. Meanwhile, he’s challenged to forgive his father. He’s also worried about Shea and all these episodes she won’t explain. Now that they’re back in close proximity, he’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past?


Annette M. Irby*

Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. She likes to say she’s addicted to color as flowers and seascapes inspire her. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more here on her Seriously Write Page.

Laptop photo credit: Pixabay
Author photo credit: Sarah Irby; Irby Photography

Friday, May 17, 2019

QUÉ, SERÁ SERÁ (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) by JoAnn Durgin

Meme that shares John 14:27

QUÉ, SERÁ SERÁ (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

Beloved film actress/singer Doris Day died this week at the age of 97. “Qué, Será Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” was a popular, Academy Award-winning hit song that became her “signature” tune. Many people are familiar with it, but not as many know (or remember) that Doris performed the song in Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Doris Day was a performer who never let her celebrity affect her and who she was. Her longtime manager and friend, Bob Bashara, was widely quoted after her death as saying, “She was always the little girl from Cincinnati who was extraordinarily talented and went out in the world and did what she loved to do despite herself.”

Every author in the world is as unique as the story they have to tell. That’s not a profound statement by any means, but it’s what differentiates authors yet also binds us together in the desire to share our story, whether with one person or the world. In social media—blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—I see posts all the time from novice writers who are praying and hoping for an agent and/or a contract. I’ve followed along in many of their journeys and rejoiced when they’re blessed with success. The overwhelming distinction I’ve seen in those who achieve their goal of publication—either through independent or traditional means—are these two qualities: discipline and determination.

Everyone on the planet has a story to tell, not only authors. I visited a women’s clothing store recently while killing time before meeting a friend for dinner. Both my daughters used to work at the store and I know the manager. As I was speaking with her, she asked how the “book writing” was going. The other employee in the store, Mary, perked up at her question. Soon enough, Mary told me she was writing a book about her husband’s cancer journey and how God has seen him through what seemed like a hopeless situation. She said the Lord laid it on her heart to write their story and wanted to be obedient to that call.

When I asked Mary how much she’d written, she said she had 250 pages of a draft manuscript. That impressed me, and I told her so. My usual expression is, “That’s more than half the battle.” When asked that same question, the majority of wannabe writers will look away or fidget while mumbling something about not having enough time to write anything yet. That doesn’t mean they’ll never find the time, but as with anything else, it’s a mindset and a heart attitude.

As far as sitting down and actually writing that story, it’s not so much about those who can or can’t as those who do. It’s about making the time. Giving our story life needs to be that burning need and driving passion inside which spurs us on to keep writing in spite of setbacks—personal or professional. That’s what will transform a novice writer into a mature author.

Most authors will never face the pitfalls of “celebrity” Doris Day faced. However, one of the biggest hurdles for any published author is getting past biting, stinging criticism (often in the form of online reviews). That’s the type of thing that can negatively affect us if we allow it. We work too hard on our “baby” only to have it torn down by a faceless person behind a computer. At times, the criticism is invalid or flat out wrong, but keep in mind that not all criticism is necessarily bad. It’s my personal assertion that most authors must be sensitive souls in order to create characters that spring off the page and into our hearts. Ironically, it’s that sensitivity and vulnerability to criticism that makes them so fabulous. Working through negative criticism can be compared to the five stages in the grieving process (to a much lesser extent)—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The good news for authors is that (1) the effects generally don’t last long; (2) the act of writing eases the hurt, and (3) when God calls us to write, He instills in us the desire to keep going. My joke is that my last words will likely be, “Wait! I need to make one more edit!”

I could write a blog post about the meaning of “Qué, Será Será” and a more God-focused interpretation of “whatever will be, will be.” Doris Day wanted no memorial, no funeral, and no grave marker. Why? Because she “didn’t like death.” In fact, she feared death. I find that incredibly sad. As believers in Christ, we have no reason to fear anything. In John 14:27, we can derive great comfort: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)

Take heart and remember these notes of encouragement:

  1. If you’re called to write, effective discipline and dogged determination will help you realize your goals.
  2. Putting your work “out there” for the world is a major accomplishment that most people never achieve.
  3. You never know how one sentence or paragraph you write could change a reader’s heart or somehow impact his/her life.
  4. If you’re criticized, it’s only because your work is indeed reaching readers! As difficult as it might be to accept, it’s unrealistic and illogical to believe everyone will love what you’ve created.
  5. Negative reviews can actually be good for book sales.

So, perhaps “Qué, Será Será” does and should hold meaning for us. Yes, whatever will be, will be, and the future may not be ours to see, but as long as we acknowledge Who’s in control, we have no reason to worry or fear—anything.

Now, go out in the world and do what you love despite yourself and for His glory!

Until His Nets Are Full,
Matthew 5:16

Transforming a novice writer to a mature author. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

It's all about discipline and determination. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Thee Will I Honor
Thee Will I Honor

After serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan, First Lieutenant Matthew Henry Martin, returns to Meadowvale, his beloved hometown nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Wounded in a roadside IED attack that killed two of his comrades, Matt’s devastating leg injury ended his military aspirations. At 25, he’s earned his degree but unemployed and facing a move back into his childhood home. Surely God has a higher purpose and plan for his future?

Lesley Ann Randall is a woman on a deeply personal mission. A small Virginia town is the last place her older sister, First Lieutenant Faith Randall, was spotted. Could a sleek red Mercedes hold the clue to her whereabouts? When Lesley speeds into Meadowvale, she immediately captures the attention of the sheriff, the pastor, and a handsome war veteran with secrets of his own.

When these two join forces, will they discover something greater than they could ever have imagined?

Join the adventure with Matt and Lesley as they navigate romance, mystery, adventure, and cutting edge issues ripped from today’s headlines—all within the pages of an inspirational novel with heart and humor celebrating faith, family, and love.

THEE WILL I HONOR is the highly anticipated second book of The Treasured Vow Series by USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin. She is also the author of the beloved, bestselling Lewis Legacy Series, The Wondrous Love Series, The Starlight Christmas Series, Catching Serenity, Heart’s Design, Gentle Like the Rain, The Valentine Verse, and Whisper to My Heart.

Thee Will I Cherish (Available Now)
Thee Will I Honor (Available Now)
Thee Will I Love (Coming Soon!)

JoAnn Durgin
JoAnn Durgin is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty contemporary Christian romance novels, including her signature Lewis Legacy Series. A native of southern Indiana, JoAnn likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word” after living in four states across the country before returning to her hometown with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing, JoAnn loves to travel and spend time with their first grandchild, Amelia Grace. Feel free to connect with her at or via her website at

Thursday, May 16, 2019

How to Overcome Procrastination by Sherrinda Ketchersid

I am the world’s worst procrastinator. Seriously, I am. I’ve been procrastinating writing this post by taking the dog out (again), cleaning the kitchen (what?!), and checking my email (for the 100th time today). Can anyone relate?

Procrastination is really just a form of fear.

We fear that our work will not be good enough. We fear that we will be exposed as an “imposter” posing as a writer who knows what she is doing. But if we are honest with ourselves, we would realize we are hardest on ourselves—our own worst critic. I know this is true for me.

Sometimes fear stems from not knowing what to write about. I struggle with this when I’m trying to think of something to blog about. I wonder what I have to say that would be of interest to others. I suppose that is another example of the “imposter syndrome”, but not knowing what to write about can be paralyzing.

How do famous authors combat procrastination? Check out these authors and what they do to get themselves writing:

• Victor Hugo – His procrastination got so bad he stripped and made his servant hide his clothes. This forced him to stay at home and focus on writing.
• Haruki Murakami – He swims 1500 meters every morning to wear out his nervous energy so he can focus on his work.
• Douglas Adams – His procrastination was so bad a friend stayed with him to keep him writing.
• William Gibson – He incorporated naps into his routine so that when he awoke, he would be fresh and ready to write.
• Maya Angelou – She would go to a hotel and have all distractions and stimuli removed from the room so she could focus.
• Friedrich Schiller – He let apples rot in his desk drawer, saying he couldn’t write without the stench.

What can we learn from these authors who found a way to deal with procrastination?

• Do something to get your mind and body able to focus. Whether it is exercising or napping, do what allows your mind to clear and attend to the task at hand.
• Find an accountability partner. I know this helps me when I am under the gun to get a writing project finished. Having to tell someone at the end of the day how much I accomplished is a huge motivator for me.
• Find a new place to write. I know many writers who leave their house to write in a coffee shop, restaurant, or library. This gets them away from the mountain of chores and responsibilities at home.
• Instigate a ritual to signal writing time. For me, I like to light a good smelling candle and have a cup of coffee by my side. This signals my brain to get started and most of the time it works, though if it is a rainy day, I just want to read instead of write.

As a Christian writer, I have found that when I go to God with my procrastination—my fear of not being good enough or not being inspired—He manages to ease the way for me. He has given us the gift of words and we need to fan that gift into flame. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Don’t be timid. Do not be afraid. Don’t let procrastination rule your life. Just write from the heart. Write as you are led. Your words on the page will not be perfect the first go-around, but at least there will be words to work with and polish.

What do you do to combat procrastination? What writing quirks or rituals help you begin writing for the day?

Amazon Buy Link
Lord of Her Heart

He’s fighting for his future—she’s running for her life.

Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth.

Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite
of her conniving ways.

Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are
determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only
way either of them survives.

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a lover of stories with happily-ever-after endings. Whether set in the past or present, romance is what she writes and where her dreams reside. Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her preacher husband. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

Connect with Sherrinda:




Book Bub:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Branding 101: What is Your Brand? by Patty Smith Hall

Over the next few months, I’ll be focusing on discovering and building your author brand. It’s one of the items I had listed on my New Year’s resolutions and an important one as I transition from historical romance to historical fiction. Before I get started, I want to give a shoutout to Brandy, Kristie, Hope and Christina from the North Georgia ACFW for their fantastic workshop on branding which is the basis of this article.

So, let’s get started.

The Entrepreneur/Small Business Encyclopedia defines branding as the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies you and differentiates a product from other products. An effective brand gives you a major edge in an increasingly competitive market.

Coke has their red and white cans, Nike has its swoosh, and just hearing Stephen King’s name makes you shake in your boots. That’s what a good brand does for you—it makes you stand out among your competition. But how can a writer do this, especially when there are fewer opportunities to make that personal connection with a reader?

We start by asking a question: who are you? Because your brand IS you. Let that sink in. It’s not your books or your short stories, or your magazine articles that make up your brand. It’s you, pure and simple, so you have to figure out who you are and what you offer to your readers that nobody else can.

Before we get too far into this, a piece of advice. Be you, the real you, not some fake replica. No one likes to discover someone they ‘thought they knew’ hasn’t been honest with them. Be truthful with yourself and your readers. In fact, telling them when you mess up makes them like you more. Why? Because they can identify with you! A few weeks ago, I put a video on Facebook about baking my first ham only to discover ¾ of it was fat! Not my brightest moment, but the responses I got were amazing, everything from reader’s own cooking disasters to encouragement. Trust your readers with the real you! They’ll appreciate you, warts and all if you always keep it honest.

So, who are you?

It’s a tough question, but one you need to answer if you want to develop a brand that sells books. I had a rough time with this, not because I don’t know who I am but the view I have of myself might not be what others think of me. Rather than rely on myself, I went to those I trusted the most. How would they describe me as a whole? Because they’ll see me as a reader would, and its readers I’m trying to attract.

Here are some of their answers:

1) Sweet, Kind; Faithful
2) Bible-thumping Feminist (my favorite!)
3) History nerd
4) Strong and independent; knows your own mind.
5) A bunny in a world full of wolves.
6) A steel magnolia

How can this list help me come up with a brand? Let’s narrow it down to three attributes. Because I write historical fiction, I feel it’s important that my readers know I’m a history buff who loves stories about the forgotten women in history. Also important is that people see me as strong and independent as it gives them a hint to the kind of characters I write.

The last characteristic is one I struggled with. Do I use my brand to tell the readers I write Christian Fiction? Even though the book I’m working on now has a spiritual thread, it would work in a secular market. Yet, many will hear that Christian fiction label and push it to the side. While I don’t want to misguide anyone, I also want to share my Christian worldview without being too preachy. I’m still praying on this one.

For now, my brand—what I want a reader to think of when they see my name is: A history nerd who loves writing stories about the strong, forgotten women who shaped history.

That’s me in a nutshell. So, tell me—who are you?

Next month: I have a brand—What do I do now?

An effective brand gives you a major edge in an increasingly competitive market. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips


A multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour, Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 35 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who has her wrapped around his tiny finger. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Right- or Left-Brained? Steps to Improve Creativity By Marie Wells Coutu

If you want to be a writer, you must be right-brained, right?

Not necessarily.

Researchers have found that “both sides of the brain are intimately involved in creativity and change,” according to the article “Jazz Up Your Brain” by Sandee LaMotee (from and reprinted in Reader’s Digest, February 2019).

In fact, the writer says, no one has a dominant side of the brain.

The good news for you and me from this research, prompted by a study of jazz musicians, is that we can learn to be creative or to increase our creative abilities.

Facing a blank screen? Stuck for an idea for your next scene—or your next story? Think you’ve been fooling yourself by trying to become a published writer?

Don’t despair. You can improve your creativity.

Researcher Charles Limb found that the creative brain state of musicians and artists (and, of course, writers) “is similar to that of athletes ‘in the zone.’” To achieve that level of creativity, you must imitate athletes: practice, practice, practice, until instinct takes over.

Essentially, that’s what happens when you “fast draft.” You turn off the self-conscious and self-editing part of your brain and let the words flow. The more you do this—followed by revising, of course, which helps you learn what not to do--the faster and more creatively you can write. And eventually, the less editing will be needed.

At least, that’s what other authors have said.

In my own experience, I have found simply being aware of “weasel words” I tend to use has reduced my use of them in my first drafts. In other words, “instinct”—or training—takes over with practice, and my first drafts have gotten better.

So, besides practice, how can you improve your creativity, whether you think you’re right-brained or left-brained? Here are a few more ideas:

✏️Turn off your inhibitions. Don’t run naked into the street, but do try writing without stopping to edit.

✏️Look for ways to improvise in your daily life, says LaMotee. Break out of your routines and try something new or unexpected.

✏️Spend a few minutes every day in meditation or prayer. This helps to calm your mind and frees you to create.

✏️Utilize all your senses. Listen to music that suits the mood of your story, post pictures of your setting or characters where you can see them, use scents that fit your scene (pine for a Christmas story, lilac if your scene takes place in the spring), eat something your characters would be eating, hold an object your character might touch.

✏️Alternate brain activity with rest. Limb says, “The creative brain is a generally more activated brain than a noncreative one,” but too much activity can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need to unplug for a little while before continuing your work.

✏️Try a different medium, such as a musical instrument, painting, or photography. You may see the bigger picture and process your story in your subconscious while you create something totally unrelated.

Strengthening your creative muscles has another benefit. The research shows that an active brain helps to “ward off forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, and even dementia,” according to LaMotee.

So quit worrying about which type of brain you have. Exercise your whole brain and develop your creative instincts to become a better writer.

Your turn: What foods, objects, or music can you use to help you think creatively about your current work-in-progress?

If you want to be a writer, you must be #right-brained, right? Not necessarily. Ways to Develop Your #Creativity. #writingtips #amwriting @MWCoutu @MaryAFelkins

Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like old houses, gnarly trees, and forgotten treasures. When she’s not writing about finding restoration and healing through God-designed journeys, she enjoys taking broken things and making them useful.

The Secret Heart, her newest release, 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.

She grew up in Kentucky, has lived in Kansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa and South Carolina. With her handyman husband of four decades, she now divides her time between Florida and the Midwest.

You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page, her website, or follow her on Twitter or on

Monday, May 13, 2019

My Passion for Writing Taught My Family Good Grammar by Peter Leavell

Boise is a biking paradise with 30 miles of paved trail along a tumbling mountain river, a tributary that gives the Idaho capital its christened name, City of Trees. I love jogging the path and listening to the birds and rushing water. Sometimes, I see deer and bald eagles within a few blocks of high rises and a football field with blue grass. People wave as they pass each other. I suppose the Greenbelt is one reason Boise is the fastest growing city in the nation. It’s amazing.

Yesterday, while I jogged along the river, a mom biked toward me, a trailer with child inside pulled behind. The joy on the mother’s face was as bright as the afternoon sun reflecting off the river.

It warmed my heart, seeing mother and child out for the afternoon. She slowed as she neared the zoo, the giraffe leaning over the palisade to say hello to people on the path.

Like the mother and child, as writers, we take those we love with us on our journey.

The mother’s ride was across smooth asphalt, but the trailer’s right wheel extended over the path onto the gravel shoulder.

We can’t always see how our journey is affecting the ones we love.

The trailer careened wildly side to side and up and down. Through the wire mesh, I saw the child flail helplessly.

Sometimes we think the journey of our writing career is hard on our families.

As the mother and child passed, I saw the baby was laughing and screaming with delight.

Even though we might feel guilty over the bumps and hurdles and time constraints of our writing career on our families, many times the journey teaches them:

—dream big, and dream together.
—daily discipline as a family, and as a family forgets to cook dinner, they dash about together making eggs and toast.
—the journey of a faraway goal is special, and obtainable.
—perseverance/work ethic can really put a crimp in their TV binge watching.
—how to handle emotional trauma.
—how not to handle emotional trauma.
—how to communicate with others, through writing.
—how to avoid strangers, through writing.
—how to keep a special writer’s mug safe by not washing it every day.
—don’t listen to the naysayers, for they know not what they speak of.
—experiences can be used for good or for bad: to make yourself a victim or to use in a blog.

What have you noticed your obsession with writing teaches others?

What my passion for writing teaches my family. @peterleavell #writerslife #seriouslywrite

'My passion for writing taught my family good grammar' and other life lessons for a writer. @peterleavell #writerslife #seriouslywrite

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

Tell Fear to Go Fly by Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn
You don’t become a respected author with an impressive track record without working hard and taking risks. I admire Robin Jones Gunn, and I’m thrilled to have her as a guest today. Soak in her encouraging—and important—message. ~ Dawn

Tell Fear to Go Fly

I’ve been thinking about this verse in I John 4:18. “Perfect love casts out fear.”

Here’s what I’ve learned as a writer over the many decades. Fear and love cannot fill the same space. Love must drive out all fear. Fear must go away. Fear and love do not co-exist.

Yet so many beginning writers tell me they’re afraid. Afraid of rejection, afraid of failure. Some are even afraid of success. They started out with hope and joy but fear came knocking and they opened the door. Now they sit in a small, dark place where fear is making all the decisions for them.

Dear Beautiful Writer, tell that dark-winged enemy to go fly. Ask God to drive out all fear and fill your heart and your thoughts with His love. Then go back to work and write your little heart out.

When I was writing “Becoming Us” I saw the main character, Emily, as a thirty-something woman who was timid by nature but had fallen into a place of fear as a result of the losses in her life. She’d been married long enough to discover that everything didn’t go the way she dreamed it would. In order to be free to take the next step, Emily had to trust God’s perfect love for her. She had to make peace with the losses and cast out all the fear in her life before she could move forward.

Writers travel a similar path.

Don’t keep looking over your shoulder. Be at peace and write out of strength. When you write without fear of what others will say, without fear of whether you’ll finish or who will buy your work, then your words will be created out of love. Love for the art of word-crafting. Love for the Author and Finisher of your faith. Love for your readers. Love for the gift that’s been given to you. Love for the privilege of being able to communicate truth.

Don’t believe any of the lies that fear has been telling you. Write out of love, not out of fear and your words will echo in the same deep place inside your readers. Your words will be set free and so will you.


When you #write without fear of what others will say, without #fear of whether you’ll finish or who will buy your work, then your words will be created out of #love. via @RobinGunn on #seriouslywrite

Don’t believe any of the lies that fear has been telling you. Write out of #love, not out of #fear and your words will echo in the same deep place inside your readers. Words of wisdom for the Christian #writer from @RobinGunn on #seriouslywrite

Becoming Us
Becoming Us

Emily bravely puts aside her fears and attends a party where she meets Christy, Sierra, Jennalyn and Tess. An unexpected moment links Emily to this small group that call themselves the “Daughters of Eve,” and the five women become unlikely best friends. 

Regular gatherings follow, and as the women share their stories, they find their lives weaving together in beautiful ways. It’s a season of raising children, figuring out relationships and dreaming together about what’s next. Emily needs a fresh start, but even with the encouragement of her new friends will it be possible to be free of the painful past that brought her to California?

Robin Jones Gunn is the bestselling, Christy Award winning author of nearly 100 books with over 5.5 million copies sold worldwide.

Best known for her Christy Miller novels for teens and the Christy Award winning Glenbrooke and Sisterchicks® series, Robin’s non-fiction titles include Praying for Your Future Husband, co-authored with Tricia Goyer and Spoken For, co-authored with Alyssa Bethke. Her newest novel, Becoming Us releases May 7, 2019 from WaterBrook/Multnomah, a division of Penguin Random House Publishing.

Hallmark Channel created three movies from Robin’s Father Christmas novellas staring Erin Krakow, Niall Matter and Wendie Malick. All three movies broke the record for the network by being the season’s highest rated and most watched original movies.

Robin’s love for storytelling and training writers has taken her around the world. She has served on the Board of Media Associates International and has been a keynote speaker in Africa, Brazil, Europe and Australia as well as Canada and throughout the US.

Many readers who grew up with Robin’s books have written to tell her how the memorable characters in her stories have mentored and influenced them over the years. Robin and her husband have two grown and married children and live in Hawaii.

Connect and learn more about Robin here:


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Story Ideas Abound - - Even in a Surgeon’s Office By Patti Jo Moore

This past Monday morning, I had skin cancer surgery on my face. ☹ Since the area was very close to my right eye, I was a bit nervous, but had been assured this particular surgeon was top-notch (which he was). After having the cancerous place removed, I returned to the waiting room sporting a puffy bandage along with a puffy eye, to sit until the results of my biopsy were back. Since I’d been told this could take a while (two hours), I’d come prepared with a devotional book, my trusty word-search book, and paper and pen. My husband was with me, patiently playing Solitaire on his Kindle as he waited. 😉

After reading devotions and solving word puzzles, I took out my paper and pen. I glanced around the large waiting room at the various people seated around me—all ages of men and women. A teen-aged boy sat beside his mom, a middle-aged man sat nearby, a young woman who appeared close to twenty sat near me, and a sweet, elderly couple sat about ten feet away from me. I didn’t know any of these people, but I knew they all have stories. My writer’s imagination took off, and I began scribbling notes on my paper. My husband even paused during his Solitaire game to see what I was doing.

Before I knew it, a nurse stepped into the waiting area to summon me back to the surgical area again. The surgeon congratulated me and said he’d gotten all the cancer cells in the first cutting, and grinned as he added, “You must be living right.” I quickly told him I’d had lots of wonderful people praying for me, so I was certain that’s why my surgery had a good outcome. When he responded that “having that higher connection” must’ve helped, my writer’s brain again took off. So, as he put a zillion tiny stitches in my face, my mind whirled with thoughts about the surgeon and his life. Was he a believer? What had inspired him to become a surgeon? Listening to the nurse’s comments also prompted story ideas, so when I left the surgeon’s office a while later, I had a plethora of ideas tucked away in my mind.

As writers, we know that story ideas are everywhere. But sometimes—even when we’re in a tense situation and not really focused on our writing—we can still be presented with ideas and characters for future stories. Not to mention that when we’re focused on others, our minds cannot dwell on our own situation and conjuring up worst-case scenarios (especially in a doctor’s office). I left my surgeon’s office feeling relieved (although in pain) and thankful for all the characters I’d “met” that day!

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thess. 5:18

In Tune With Romance 

Amazon Buy Link
Meg Mills is thankful she relocated to Coastal Breeze after becoming widowed two years earlier. As she makes plans to achieve her dream of owning a small bookstore, she begins doubting herself after being harassed by her late husband’s stepmother. She’s also confused at her strong attraction to the shy, lanky piano tuner who arrives for an appointment one day. Todd Davis is grateful for his aunt’s encouragement to move to Coastal Breeze after a painful divorce, and is soon captivated by an outgoing piano tuning client. But he’s an introvert, and feels certain the pretty widow wouldn’t be interested in him. When Todd is hired as the local church’s choir director, he hopes this will help him get to know the attractive widow better—if he can come out of his shell. When the cousin who bullied Todd as a youth unexpectedly arrives in Coastal Breeze, Todd must confront his greatest fear, while getting past the pain of his memories. Meg worries that her exuberant personality has driven Todd away—until she learns the truth Amazon Buy Linkabout his past. Can two people who are polar opposites help each other & find romance in the process?

Patti Jo Moore writes “Sweet, Southern Stories” and has lived in Georgia all her life. Her very first series, Emerald Coast Romances, is published by Forget-Me-Not Romances and is set on the Florida panhandle. Each book is a stand-alone, and Patti Jo hopes her readers enjoy “visiting” her fictional town of Coastal Breeze. The third book is In Tune With Romance and features Meg, an outgoing widow who wants to start her own business, and Todd, an introverted piano-tuner who must confront his greatest fear. Can two people who are polar opposites help each other and find romance in the process?

Patti Jo loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee. She loves connecting with other readers and authors. You can visit her on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore, or her personal blog at   

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Surrendering Your Dream by Jennifer Uhlarik

What does “success” look like to you? Maybe you’ve mapped out each step, and nothing short of that vision will do. It’s never wrong to dream, but let me share an important lesson I learned along the way.

I was twelve when the writing bug bit. I began cranking out stories with every spare moment while developing my vision of “success”—a picture that started with getting published by a top-tier publisher and grew more grandiose from there. It would take hard work, but the effort would eventually pay off.

 So I thought.

 After earning my B.A. in writing, I began shopping my first novel. My first batch of submissions quickly ended in rejections. Following a second batch of rejections, I re-edited the novel and tried again. More rejections. Each little heartbreak brought clarity. My writing wasn’t ready yet. Time to reassess.

Only I didn’t. Another storm hit my life—the divorce I never wanted. Instead of honing my skills into something worthy of a top-tier publisher, I submitted to what I discovered were fly-by-night eBook publishers during the infancy of the eBook revolution. I published a few stories, but with little time, energy, or money to promote, the books didn’t sell. Matters grew worse when, a year after opening, these publishers secretly closed up shop and made off with any earnings I did have.

I’d worked my original dream with no success. Plan B was in shambles. My strivings had left me tired and wounded, so I shifted my focus to survival rather than writing.

It was the best thing that could’ve happened!

Fast-forward to 2007. I married a wonderful man who afforded me the opportunity to write full time again. I returned home more humble, willing to surrender my grandiose plan for God’s direction. Rather than clinging to my dream, I asked God to orchestrate my journey.

Once I surrendered, I discovered that “success” wasn’t some elusive point in the distance. It was finding joy in the process. Instead of skyrocketing my career into the stratosphere, God took me on a leisurely drive in the country with plenty of picnics along the way.

Have I been published with a top-tier publisher? Not yet. Sometimes I still chafe at that, but God’s plan has led me in the most wonderful directions. One week ago, I signed my twelfth publishing contract, all with delightful mid-range or small presses I’ve loved working with. I’ve published mostly 20,000-word novellas, rather than the 100,000-word novels I once planned. Writing “short” has taught me more about story-crafting than all my college courses combined. And in a truly unexpected turn, God made me the managing editor of Trailblazer Western Fiction, I’m sure to remind me that this journey isn’t all about me but whom I can help along the way.

If I’d never surrendered my dream for God’s, I’d probably still be striving for some unattainable idea of success. Instead, God and I celebrate small victories often, and success comes in the most unpredictable ways.

So I leave you with this—do you need to surrender your dream to find true success?

Do you need to surrender your dream to find true success? via @JenniferUhlarik #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips


Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse”
book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

Social Media Links:


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Wait! Don't Submit That Before You Do This... by Emily Conrad

Picture of hand on keyboard

In her book, When God Says "Wait,"* Elizabeth Laing Thompson writes, “I have been tempted to seek comfort, celebration, and commiseration from social media instead of from God.”

To counter this, she advises us all to, “Pray first, post last.”

This wise advice can also be applied to the process of submitting our writing to agents, editors, and publications.

When we post to social media, aren’t we, in some way, looking for acceptance? Isn’t that what likes and comments amount to? And when we send out queries, proposals, partials, and requested fulls (hooray!), we’re also seeking acceptance.

We’re seeking an agent or editor who resonates with our work and is willing to partner with it. We’re seeking publication, and eventually, the acceptance of readers.

But no number of writing acceptances—as fun as they are—are going to satisfy us the way God will. And in an industry where we hear “no” a lot more than “yes,” we can’t count on the acceptances to keep our self-worth afloat.

In an industry where we hear “no” a lot more than “yes,” we can’t count on the acceptances to keep our self-worth afloat. A #writetip for #Christian #writers from @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite

Somehow, as we write and submit our work, we need to find another way to maintain a steady belief in God and in the value of the gifts He’s given us.

So, perhaps, as Christian writers, before we send off our next query, we’d be wise to pause and reflect on the acceptance we already have. Acceptance from God.

As #Christian #writers, before we send off our next query, we’d be wise to pause and reflect on the acceptance we already have. #writetip @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite

Jesus loved us enough to suffer the cross for us.

We know that, but perhaps we've known that for a long time. Perhaps we've begun to overlook the beauty of that truth.

Let's pause long enough to remember.

Furthermore, the Bible is full of other examples of God's big, amazing, steadfast love for His people--not only as a larger group, but as individuals.

Anyone up for a little Bible drill?

Every one of us matters to the God who saw Hagar in the wilderness (Gen 16:13-14), to Jesus who wouldn’t let the woman with the bleeding issue escape without His notice (Mat 9:20-22). He is the God who saw Nathanael under the fig tree (John 1:48), who called Lazarus back to life (John 11:38-44), who took the time to gently confront Thomas’s doubts (John 20:24-28). He gave new names to Abram (Gen 17:5) and Jacob (Gen 32:28), and a nickname to James and John (Mark 3:17). He spoke the names of Martha (Luke 10:41) and Mary (John 20:16).

He knows us by name. He gives us worth that cannot be taken away.

Why do we so crave other acceptance when we already have the best acceptance in existence?

Because we lose sight of it, don’t we?

Like the temptation to post first, without praying, we submit our work like our worth depends on it.

Let's take a step back from that mindset by praying before we submit our work. Let's read Scripture and keeping going to Jesus until we believe that we already have all we need in Christ.

He has this writing dream completely in hand. He’ll see us through. He’ll accomplish His purposes for us (Phil 1:6, Ps 138:8). Never, at any step along the way, should our worth be up for grabs. Never should we doubt our purpose in this world (Eph 2:10).

Jesus, however this submission goes, I know you’ve called me. I know you are faithful, and that you love me. That you see this struggle and that you care. You are the God who sees and loves me, and I pray that you would accomplish your will in my life. I pray that whatever comes of this submission, I would keep my eyes on you and my heart safe in Your nail-pierced hands.

Pray first, submit your work last.


Wait! Don't submit your work before you do this! A #pubtip for the #Christian #writer. @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite

Emily Conrad headshotEmily Conrad writes Christian romance and a blog to encourage women of faith. Her debut novel, Justice, released from Pelican Book Group in 2018. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence Justice is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.

The ebook version is on sale for 99¢ through May 11, 2019.

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?

Barnes and Noble

*When God Says "Wait" by Elizabeth Laing Thompson, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Check it out here.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Creating an "Atmospheric" Novel by Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

If you’ve been around the bookish community long enough, chances are you’ve heard someone refer to a book as “atmospheric.” It’s most always a compliment, usually included in a list of flowery adjectives that paint the book in question as the Next Great American Novel . . . But what exactly does it mean? And how can we, as authors, give our own writing that illusive atmosphere?

One day, I grabbed a dictionary to look up the word “atmospheric.” (Okay, actually I googled it) and found a bit more information.


• creating a distinctive mood, typically of romance, mystery, or nostalgia

Aah, that makes sense—a mood. A feeling. A sense of place.

But why limit the definition? Why does “atmospheric” usually refer to books in genres such as romance, mystery, and fantasy? Why does it often signify a darker, heavier tone?

Why don’t we, as authors, go the extra mile to write atmospheric stories no matter the genre?

By writing atmospheric novels, we are creating a deeper mood—a more distinct sense of place—that will speak to our readers and make for a richer reading experience.

My Tradewinds series takes place in the beautiful state of Hawaii—as far from a dark and moody location as one can get—yet I strive to create books that are full of “atmosphere” and lush descriptions that place my reader in the middle of the story. In return, I’ve noticed many reviews which highlight this aspect of my writing.

Readers turn to a book in order to escape the doldrums of everyday life. The more absorbed in the story they can become, the better. What better way to get absorbed in a story than to read a truly transportive novel?

Want to write a more atmospheric story? Here are some tips:

• World building—it’s not just for fantasy! Whether you’re writing about a real place or a fictional one, flesh out those details! If you’ve chosen to create an imaginary locale, ask yourself questions about the area—climate, style of architecture, cultural quirks, inhabitants, etc. If you decide to write about a real-life location, do the same thing (this might require an in-person visit) and discover what makes that place stand out.

• Stick with one tone. If you’re writing a story that takes place in a grim manor house amid the English moors, you probably don’t want your main character—or any characters, for that matter—to be wearing pink! Unless you’re intentionally breaking the mold (and you should do this sparingly!) take care to not muddy your mood with contrasting imagery.

• The little details say the most! If you’re trying to infuse your story with joy and hope, don’t just make the sun shine brightly—have rays of sunshine dance over the surface of the water or glint off a character’s hair. Choose a POV character with a unique perspective who can “help” you create the right atmosphere.

Creating an Atmospheric Novel by @writer__taylor #seriouslywrite


Sand Castle Dreams
Sometimes we must face our greatest fears in order to become whole again.

Returning to Maui after one of the most challenging summers of her life, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is ready for things to return to normal—or, at least, a new normal. But even though she and her sister are back on the island they love, nothing is the same since they left for Boston a few months ago. Olive’s friend Jazz is hiding a secret—possibly something even worse than the cancer diagnosis she received earlier in the year. Can Olive ever stop running from memories of all they’ve lost?

When their friend Brander suggests Jazz attends the church’s teen support group, Olive thinks it’s a great idea—until Jazz insists that Olive join her. While the group is the perfect place for Olive to share her struggles, she wants nothing to do with it. Instead, grief threatens to roll over her like the ocean waves, and tiny fibs turn into looming secrets. When a scruffy puppy and one viral video send another storm rolling into Olive’s life, she ends up face-to-face with her biggest fear. And the only way to make it out of the tempest is to go straight through.


Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of contemporary YA fiction. Homeschooled since kindergarten, she is a proud homebody who suffers from the rare–yet always severe–case of wanderlust.

Although she dreams of traveling to many different places, her favorite destination thus far (aside from her charming hometown in Oregon) is Lahaina, Hawaii. Taylor was so enamored with this tropical town that she became determined to write about it, hence her debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, the first in a series of books set in Hawaii.

A lover of literature since birth, Taylor found her love of writing fueled under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa and the other teachers at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where she now works as an editor for their magazine.

When she isn’t writing, Taylor enjoys cooking, drawing, and taking long walks in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with Taylor here:


Friday, May 3, 2019

Gaining Faith on the Journey by Melinda Viergever Inman

Meme that focuses on faith.

Gaining Faith on the Journey 

Jesus slept on the boat. Even as water poured over him, the wind howled, and disciples cried out in fear all around him, still he slept. He didn’t wake of his own accord. They woke him. That event in a storm on the Sea of Galilee demonstrates what bona fide, 100 percent pure faith looks like.

Even in human flesh, Jesus was fully God, and being fully God, he knew he could sleep deeply and soundly, for his mission was not going to end with him drowning in the bottom of the sea. It would end on a cross. Knowing this, for the sake of his disciples alone, Jesus calmed the wind and the storm.

“Why are you so afraid?” he said to them. “Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

“The antidote to fear is faith,” reads my ESV Study Bible note.

When I feel terrified, when I worry about my bold and adventurous offspring, when I stare into the 3:00 a.m. darkness puzzling over the details of my husband’s coming retirement, when another vehicle careens toward mine in our ridiculous metropolitan traffic, and when my autoimmune disease gnaws at my bones and the nucleus of each cell, I need not fear.

When I don’t understand the market or the latest Amazon strategy when I’m puzzled about a particular piece of the publishing process, when I don’t know if I can keep up with all the latest trends in marketing, and when I wonder where my sales are heading, I need not fear.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3).

If I had faith like Jesus, I would know in every fiber of my being that nothing can harm me or mine until the day God has ordained that we walk into his presence. I would know in my bones, without any thought otherwise, that each event that touches our lives is ordained by God, orchestrated together for our good. I would know that this covers my writing journey as well, every single bit of it. But instead, faith isn’t inherent in me, and I must remind myself of the truth frequently.

Recently our pastor stated, “Responding to the unknowns by faith is where the Gospel radically changes our lives.”

It boils down to this: How will we act when we are afraid and when we doubt?

Will we cower in fear? Or will we peacefully keep rowing or bailing or writing, even as the boat seems to be sinking, even though Jesus is in the boat?

“Faith is a journey of continuing, ascending hilltops,” our pastor said. On this journey, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. “Faith is formed amidst the ongoing race.”

We don’t get to take the Faith Seminar and walk out girded and prepared for the rest of our lives before the Lord turns us loose in the world. No. We must learn this lesson as we run the race, as we sit in the boat, as we send off the query, as we await word from the publisher, and as we watch our sales tank.

Trials that shake us up are one of God’s chief means for perfecting us. Trials allow us to see the true state of our faith, how weak, how strong, how in need of fortification. As a believer, my life should be characterized by faith, not by midnight hand wringings.

Our faith is demonstrated by how we choose to act, what thoughts we choose to censor, what ideas we refuse to allow inside our heads, and how we choose to continue to press forward with the mission the Lord has given us, the mission of writing for him. All of this requires intentionality.

Will we press on in our writing? Will we lay aside fearful lack of faith and trust Jesus?

How will we act when we are afraid and when we doubt? #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @MelindaVInman

Melinda V Inman, Author of Refuge; Fallen; and No Longer Alone

Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda Viergever Inman now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the Midwest. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives. Find her weekly at To find her work and to be notified of future published novels, follow her at


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