Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Power of Theme by Carol McClain

The time came to make the plunge and ditch New York for more hospitable climes. My husband and I would head to Tennessee.

Often my novels take a humorous twist. A friend thought it would be funny to show the huge differences between the far reaches of New York and the hills of Tennessee.

I agreed.

Then we moved here.

Aside from cornbread and a sometime indecipherable hill dialect, no differences existed. There went my novel.

Still, my friend nagged about the book as I went about my life. Nothing came to mind because my head wrapped itself around the idea of extremes.

Then one day it hit me. Preconceptions.

How often do we judge others by our biased notions?

With theme, came the book, A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek.

Theme is often underrated in inspirational books. In romances, many writers think only of the love angle, not of a deeper meaning that would draw the reader in.

Suspense writers devise tangled plots to keeping us on our seat’s edge. But what about the nuanced side of things? The flaws that drew the good guys in to solve the problem, especially if they’re not law enforcement? What ideal motivates their fight?

And sometimes, theme is overrated.

In contemporary novels, the author’s conviction is too often preached. I’ve read my share of Christian fiction where a character expounded on the salvation message in detail. She quoted long passages of familiar scripture. With most readers already Christian, the writing became too didactic or too strident. Both turn off the reader.

Or, at least, me.

A book without passion may entertain for a day, but a book motivated by conviction lives for a lifetime. Think of those books that live in your memory. 1984, Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby. These are old books, sometimes too didactic, but they remain in my mind the best books I’ve ever read.

Why? Theme: the methods of totalitarianism, sacrificial love, a foolish quest for an ideal that doesn’t exist. The universal themes resonated. The reach out to me today, even decades since I’ve read the books.

When teachers of writing illustrate their points, they always pick The Wizard of Oz. Why was this so popular? There’s no place like home.

Look at your current work. What controls the story aside from plot? What drives the conflict? Dive deep. Think of your passion and let it subtly direct your writing.

Donald Maas says, “If a powerful problem is a novel’s spine, then a powerful theme is its animating spirit...It starts with having something to say” (Writing the Breakout Novel, 230).

A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek took flight once I nailed the theme it cried out to me to write.

Theme will do that to you.

In romances, many writers think only of the love angle, not of a deeper meaning that would draw the reader in. via @carol_mcclain #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Author Carol McClain is an eclectic artist and author. Her interests vary as much as the Tennessee weather—running, bassoons, jazz, stained glass and, of course, writing. She’s a transplant from New York who now lives in the hills of East Tennessee with her husband and overactive Springer spaniel.

She is the president of ACFW Knoxville and the secretary of the Authors’ Guild of Tennessee.

The world in East Tennessee intrigues her from the friendly neighbors to the beautiful hiking trails and the myriad wildlife.

Life is good in here.


Alone, again, after the death of her fiancĂ©, abstract artist Kiara Rafferty finds herself on Stinking Creek, Tennessee. She wants out of this hillbilly backwater, where hicks speak an unknown language masquerading as English.  Isolated, if she doesn’t count the snakes and termites infesting her cabin, only a one-way ticket home to Manhattan would solve her problems.

Alone in a demanding crowd, Delia Mae McGuffrey lives for God, her husband, her family, and the congregation of her husband’s church. Stifled by rules, this pastor’s wife walks a fine line of perfection, trying to please them all. Now an atheist Yankee, who moved in across the road, needs her, too.

Two women. Two problems. Each holds the key to the other’s freedom.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Five Ways to Maximize a Writer's Break by Mary A. Felkins

Congratulations! We’ve made progress on our daily word count goal and now a well-deserved break is calling.

Shouting, maybe?

We agree to climb out of our writing cave and then what? How will we answer?

Whether we plan a break or the break comes begging... “Can we stop for a bit, please? My backside and brain is numb”... there’s wisdom in making the break count.

Otherwise, what was meant to refresh and renew the heart, mind, and spirit can result in wasted time.

Five Ways to Maximize a Writer’s Break

1) Gather names and scene ideas
It may sound counter-productive to take a break while also keeping our WIP in mind, but we can still use the time off to tune into our surroundings. The simple observation of a couple enjoying a hot dog purchased from a street vendor and shared while sitting on the dock might be a refreshing change from characters eating at a restaurant. The unexpected always adds value to our readers. Going up the road to run a quick errand? (okay, for me that means a Coke Zero from the gas station) Use the time to study people--without being creepy. We might meet someone whose demeanor inspires the creation of a new character among our current WIP cast. And not only is a kind introduction a neglected common courtesy, someone's first or last name could be a perfect fit for our WIP.

2) Don’t gather names and scene ideas
When we're led to leave our WIP behind, we may be surprised when ideas come looking for us. I’ve often gathered story inspiration when and where I least expect it. For example, working out at the gym alongside another member, learning of their upbringing, career, and/or life experiences, has provided a field ripe for harvesting character backstory. Double bonus if their first or last name is one I can use.

3) Give Our Characters the Floor
Like a child with several siblings, it could be our characters are struggling to get a word in edgewise while our busy brain has been fussing over what to do with them. Hands free from wild keyboard tapping, let’s sit still and let our characters do the talking. They might tell us what they’re feeling about what just happened or what they fear might happen next and we can incorporate their “feedback” into our stories.

4) Pray. Often.
It doesn’t matter how long or rich our time with God was in the morning if we’ve left Him in the dust by lunch time. Stuck on a scene? Plot all wrong? Characters aren’t right? God isn’t baffled. He knows our story from beginning to end and holds the final product in His hands. Let's maximize our break time by asking Him to illuminate our minds, redirect our stories if necessary, and inspire new ideas from His endless warehouse of creativity.

5) Do absolutely nothing
A break is a break for a reason. In my experience, productivity comes to a halt if I persist in writing when God has called me to rest. When away from our work, we’re free to sit outside and stare at a tree, if necessary. Great reward awaits when we completely disengage from WIP and retreat from mental writer land.

I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother…is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2 (NIV)

The best thing about taking a break is God—the Author—doesn’t need one. He never tires. And doesn't scramble to make up for "lost time" because we’ve stepped away for a few minutes.

Hours. Weeks. Or years.

He Who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3-4 (NIV)

How do you use your writing break? I’d love to hear what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for you.

Let's maximize our break time by asking Him to illuminate our minds, redirect our stories if necessary, and inspire new ideas from His endless warehouse of creativity. @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #writerbreak #SeriouslyWrite 

The best thing about taking a writer’s break is God—the Author—doesn’t need one. He never tires.
He doesn’t scramble to make up for "lost time" because we’ve stepped away for a time. @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #writerbreak #SeriouslyWrite

Mary A. Felkins writes weekly story-style devotionals on her blog and is a contributor to Refresh, an on-line publication of Lighthouse Bible Study magazine. Her debut, inspirational romance novel, Call To Love, (www.pelicanbookgroup) will be released November 15th, 2019. The completed cover anxiously awaits being partnered with the story behind it.

Raised in Houston, Texas–and forever a Lone Star girl-she and her husband Bruce moved to the foothills of North Carolina in 1997. They have four (adolescent to young adult-sized) arrows in her quiver. She can be lured from her writing cave if presented with a large, unopened bag of Pnut M&Ms or to watch Fixer Upper. A surprise appearance by her teen idol, Donny Osmond, would also do the trick, although she’d likely pass out.

If, upon introduction, she likes your first or last name, expect to see it show up in one of her novels.

Call to Love, inspirational romance coming in November...

What if saying yes to love means trusting the kind of man you said you’d never marry? What if pursuing a woman’s heart means restoring a painful past?

Tracy Cassidy, a fiercely independent ED nurse, must choose between her dream job or staying in her hometown to help support her mother’s faltering ministry. Even if it means risking her heart in love with the kind of man she said she’d never marry.

Why sign up to be Laurelton’s next cop widow?

Tom DeLaney, a hyper-vigilant cop and new hire from Texas, is wearied by years of failed rescue attempts to save his marriage to his ex. A free man, he moves to the foothills of North Carolina. Thing is, he hadn’t expected to fall for Tracy, his supervisor’s sister. But when his adolescent son is diagnosed with a chronic illness, he faces the risk of loving another woman with keep-out issues.

Fears related to the death of Tracy’s cop father and Tom’s inability to forgive the past threaten to sabotage any chance at love.

To trust again means surrender. Will they risk their hearts and answer the call?

Connect with Mary
To receive Mary’s weekly story-style devotions and quarterly book news via email, join other #Felkinsfans at

Monday, July 29, 2019

Words and Fabric Squares by author and quilter Jeanette-Marie Mirich

Jeanette-Marie Mirich

Does your creativity manifest itself in various artistic ways? Our guest today, Jeanette-Marie Mirich, is a quilter and author who enjoys piecing words together in her fiction. Read on! ~ Annette

We are uniquely made. Our creativity echoes the Master’s, so we each bring to the quilt of life expressions of what we sense in our world of minutia, deadlines, needs, and yearnings.

For me, writing begins in the mornings. I prefer light-filled rooms, quiet, and time with the Lord. Before breakfast I am in a comfortable chair, Bible and notebook in hand, reading through Scripture. I’ve taken Lynn Austin’s advice and have been reading through the Bible rather than a scattered approach of Psalms with books of Scripture. It suits me. I have a daily list of people and ministries to pray for. Scripture is the catalyst for my prayers.

As a kinesthetic learner, I grow by writing things into journals. My stories can wander from the path and need to be corralled. My fictional characters often tell me what comes next. Though I’m a pantster I do outline, aiming toward the ending, and keeping track of pacing as well as where the story needs to go off the rails with excitement.

A tapestry of thoughts is woven into a story. Threads of gold are the underlying truths that characters state or live out. Humor is embroidered through my novels. Laughter lifting hurting hearts and minds is good medicine. I apply the salve liberally. Pulled tightly, the warp and woof of all these elements stabilize and create something useful, comforting, and lasting.

We live in dark times that need illumination from a constant light source. It is my prayer that words fitly chosen will aim His light into the hidden places of the heart.

Writers’ conferences have challenged, encouraged, and enabled me to grow. I belong to Pacific Northwest Writers Association and Oregon Christian Writers.

Currently in my stack of things I’m reading are:

Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan.
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass.
The Writers Workout by Christina Katz
How to Write Mysteries, edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson
The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke
Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons
Devotions for a Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers

Quilting is my second calling. I was doing fine with clearing out the fabric bins until I inherited my aunt’s and mother’s stashes of fabric. Piecing fabric together is tactile storytelling. For me the feel of silk against the skin is as delightful as a “Godiva chocolate” word. The kind of word you savor, roll around your tongue, and want to remember. I am conflicted. My father read Shakespeare at the dinner table. My mother signed me up for 4H. Create with color? Or use words to reveal something not held by hands?

Words come
Drop by drop
Into troubled hearts.
Distilled by grace,
Your balm of love
Heals sin darkened

How quilting and writing relate at Seriously Write blog today! @MarieMirich


Coming September 1
The Courtship of Harry's Wife

I shouldn't have made the promise when Harry was dying but . . . you know how it is. You want to please when the person you’ve always loved is hooked up to plastic tubing looking peaky.

Delilah Morgan, a woman of honor, is unable to ignore her promise to her husband, Harry, which leads to trouble, with a capital T. The beautiful, unassuming Delilah plans to mourn in private after Harry passed, but he had other ideas—specifically, leaving his wife in good hands and protected from the elite of their small Kentucky town. However, he neglects to include his wife in his plans.

Harry has selected local judge, Lyle Henderson, the heartthrob of most of the women in town, to court his widow. The judge acquiesces to Harry’s wishes until Henderson’s life spins into a maelstrom after the discovery of bodies in his long absent wife’s car. The police and FBI begin to suspect him of murdering his wife and her apparent lover.

Determined to clear the judge of murder, Delilah resolves to hunt down the true story. Their adventure nearly costs them their lives and leads them on what Delilah suspects is a wild-goose chase toward love. In reality, their wanderings reveal what sacrificial love can encompass.


Have bags will travel should be Jeanette-Marie’s life’s theme. She moved twenty-two times before settling into her first home. An Oregonian by birth, and as someone who graduated with a BS degree in education from Portland State University, Jeanette has swum in the Ligurian Sea, collected shells and sea glass along the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean oceans, Straits of Malacca, Gulf of Mexico, and the Andaman Sea. Her peripatetic lifestyle is courtesy of the US Air Force and her husband’s medical training. Passionate about needs in the third world after living in Thailand during her husband’s deployment, she has accompanied her husband on dozens of medical mission trips. Learn more at her website:

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Practical Relevance of Actual Obedience by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
I am reading a book that was recommended to me by a pastor. It is getting me to think deeply about the “Kingdom of God” and how it is “at hand” and “not yet,” not only generally speaking, but personally, in my life, on a daily basis.

My thoughts on the subject, coupled with a growing, currently six-month-long deep dive into the Sermon on the Mount, have really got me to think and rethink not only my life as a Christian, but also the words I put down on the page as an author.

In the book, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, author Dallas Willard says this in the introduction:

“More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity in the world today, with its increasing tendency to emphasize political and social action as the primary way to serve God. It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and well-being” (p. xv).

Although I have not finished reading Willard’s book yet, I’m not sure there is a more succinct paragraph than this one, pertaining to the ills that plague the Church today. And may I say, possibly to those of us who write.

What do I mean exactly?

Later in the book, Willard points out when Jesus came into the world, he said that anyone who finds him will be safe. They will go in and out and have all that they need. Jesus said he came into the world so anyone who found him could have life, and that life would be filled to the fullest measure.

But then Willard goes on to say this:

“But intelligent, effectual entry into this life is currently obstructed by clouds of well-intentioned misinformation. The ‘gospels’ that predominate where he is most frequently invoked speak only of preparing to die or else of correcting social practices and conditions…Our ‘gospels’ are, in their effects—dare we say it—nothing less than a standing invitation to omit God from the course of our daily existence. Does Jesus only enable me to ‘make the cut’ when I die? Or to know what to protest, or how to vote or agitate and organize? It is good to know that when I die all will be well, but is there any good news for life? If I had to choose, I would rather have a car that runs than good insurance on one that doesn’t. Can I not have both? And what social or political arrangements—however important in their own right—can guide and empower me to be the person I know I ought to be? Can anyone now seriously believe that if people are only permitted or enabled to do what they want, they will then be happy or more disposed to do what is right” (p. 12)?

In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been watered down in the modern church. It’s either “fire insurance” for those who are hell-bent on not going there, or a means by which to effectually jump on some social or political bandwagon, hoping to turn the steering wheel to the right or the left.

However, the question that Willard is slowly and methodically raising is this: Is there more to this life Jesus said was abundant and free? Can this life be here and now, too? Not just in the hereafter? And if so, what shall that life in Christ look like? To us, as we look into the mirror of our own lives? To our family members, as they view us more intimately than others? To our neighbors, our co-workers, acquaintances, and real strangers, who see us interact on a daily basis in the everyday world? If the Kingdom of Heaven is “here now” and “not yet,” then it seems the answer is definitely in the affirmative. It is the practical relevance of actual obedience that answers this question. The daily walk with Christ, mirroring his teachings given in the famous Sermon on the Mount, that brings all of Scripture together into a clear, practical, relevant lifestyle that develops an abundance of character and brings sanity and well-being that transcends all understanding.

Dare we say it—much of what we have seen in the church over the last two, three, even four decades has been very superficial. The inch-deep/mile-wide teachings when it comes to salvation have not done our fledgling brothers and sisters in Christ any favors. A capitalistic emphasis upon how money should be viewed has tricked entire generations of Christians into thinking “more” equates spiritual success and blessing from On High. And the emphasis on attempting to create a “Christian nation” here on earth could not be more foreign to the gospel of Christ, yet is embraced by the church wholeheartedly as a worthy and necessary endeavor for ourselves and our posterity. Yet, one must ask, why do we need a Christian nation when the Kingdom of Heaven is already upon us? Do we think we can do it one better?

So, now, in light of this little devotion, my fellow writer, what kingdom principles do you weave into your works? How does the Kingdom of Heaven manifest itself in your writing? In your storylines? In the overall arch of your main characters? Is the main emphasis to get the bad guy “saved”? What does that mean exactly within the world you have built between the front matter and the back cover copy? Was it about proving to the reader that conservative principles about family or marriage or abortion are better than liberal principles? Or vice versa? Have we been building the Kingdom of Heaven, or have we been working hard to forge a well-intentioned Kingdom of misinformation here on Earth?

You see, when we write our fiction (or non-fiction, for that matter), we have a monumental duty to be true to the Scriptures, even when they may challenge us “to be who we ought to be” in Christ, as well as when that path is diametrically opposed to the “well-intentioned misinformation” being espoused each and every Sunday. When you write, you become a teacher to varying degrees, and the Bible says teachers will be held to a higher standard, did it not (James 3:1)?

Folks, this is why the world seems to be coming apart at the seams. This is why young people are leaving the church in droves. This is why suicide and mass shootings and terrorist activity runs rampant. This is why people gather in streets and block traffic so they can yell and denigrate others. It’s an irrelevancy issue. The people of this world do not see an answer anymore to the ills they feel inside. They search and search, and we have the answer! However, the attitude of Christians’ “practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ” has obscured the only cure for what ails humanity, and the world’s growing propensity to implode is a direct result of this unfortunate fact.

But there is hope. There is a movement among God’s elect. I see it. I feel it. I am in the middle of it. I am experiencing it myself. I know of many brothers and sisters who are experiencing it for themselves as well. And it is making me take my writing and examine it through the lens of Scripture in new and fresh ways, starting with the Sermon on the Mount and branching out from there to encapsulate all of the Old and New Testaments as they agree and complement one another, all for the purpose of making it relevant and Kingdom worthy.

Will you join me in this quest for practical relevance to actual obedience in your life and writing? The world is searching, and maybe they can find the answer in something Kingdom worthy you put down on the page.

“It is the practical relevance of actual obedience that answers this question. The daily walk with Christ...that develops an abundance of character and brings sanity and well-being that transcends all understanding.” #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson

The Blake Meyer Thriller Series Book 4

An Insane Retribution. An Insidious Radical. An Intense Reunion.

When he got married, Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer worried that shielding his family from his past would prove to be formidable. Now, as precious time ticks away, Blake finds himself flying over the ocean at twenty thousand feet, searching for his family, and watching helplessly as his greatest fear wraps its tentacles around his past, present, and future, inextricably weaving them into a deadly game of vengeance.

With the help of his longtime friend, Harrison Kelly, and a small band of soldiers, Blake sets out to rescue the only people he has ever truly loved…before it’s too late.

However, unbeknownst to Blake, retooled plans have been set in motion to keep the contagion in play. To keep the threat alive. To bring a country to its knees. And forge the dawning of a new era.

One free of American interference.

One dominated and controlled by those who survive the carnage.

One without Blake Meyer.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first four books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, Book 3, The Tide of Times, and Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, are now available!! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is also now available!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, BBC shows Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland, and Wallander, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too. But you will never catch him wearing a deerstalker. Ever.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Instagram: ckevinthompson
Pinterest: ckevinthompsonauthor
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson
BookBub: C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Do You Feel Like a Drop? By Jan Cline

My new book just released, and despite all the attention, I still feel like a drop in the ocean of books that are produced every month. If I think about it too long, I get discouraged. An ocean is a BIG place, and most of us want to be noticed—even a little. Certainly more than just a drop.
As writers we have to be proactive to reach our goals, and sometimes our reward expectations don’t match the results. No one wants to launch a book and then disappear into the fog of unknowns. But the truth is, we have a purpose to fulfil, even when we feel we aren’t noticed, or appreciated for our talent and hard work.
Let’s look at a few positive facts about being a drop.

1. We finished a book! Do you know how many people start a book and never finish? You have probably done one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and will probably do it again. That accomplishment is understated in most circles. Own it for yourself, and consider it an achievement – noticed or not.

2. We learned a lot along the way. Education is expensive and valuable. When you are writing a book, an article, a poem, a short story, you are educating yourself. Keeping up with good writing skills, technology for marketing, and trends in your genre is like going to school. Each time you take your writing to the next level, you will see the benefits. You will get noticed, maybe just not in ways you expected.

3. We learn to be content in our current place in the big picture of this industry. When I first stated seeking publication, the daunting task of trying to be somebody in this huge world of writers, publishers, and agents often got the best of me. I am who I am. And I am where I am because God puts me there when it’s time. I had to learn to be content, and responsible when the time comes to be taken to the next level. It has made me a better writer and person.

4. You absolutely never know when things will change. I am considered a senior, okay, I AM a senior, and I had given up the thought of being traditionally published. Then when God saw I had let go of my ideas of how things should be, He sent me a publisher that was a perfect fit for me. Yes, at my age, I was at last traditionally published novelist. But let me tell you…I would have been okay with continuing as an Indie. But God knew the ultimate desire of my heart, even when I had let it go.

So sometimes we just have to be a Dori…just keep swimming in this big ocean. Being a little fish can still afford you opportunities you never imagined if you stay open minded. Even absent minded Dori served her purpose.

It’s not so bad being a drop, but keep the faith, and see how big of a fish God would have you be. He probably has bigger plans for you than you do for yourself.

Keep swimming,

Amazon Buy Link
The Pruning

Clarissa Wilding and her family have just arrived at the train station in Kennewick, Washington. Their decision to move from the drought and dust storms on the Kansas plains seemed like a good one, until Clarissa sees her husband Frank embrace his half-brother William—the man who has offered them the chance to start fresh on his vineyard.
Clarissa knows this man, but by a different name. And it is obvious that William also recognizes her, though he says nothing of their past together.
The Wilding family settles into a cottage on the farm. Frank is thrilled to be back on a productive farm, having lost their crops to the relentless dust storms back home. He is anxious to rekindle his relationship with his brother, but doesn’t understand Clarissa’s resistance to William. Frank is eager to learn the grape and fruit growing business and hopes his work ethic will please his brother. But he is disturbed to see that William has not held on to the Christian teachings of their mother, but instead is angry and resentful of his drunken father, Frank’s step-father.
Both parents are deceased, but unpleasant memories linger for both Frank and William, even after William explains he changed his name to be rid of his father’s reputation.
Clarissa cruelly discovers that you cannot always escape your past. A clandestine meeting is about to test her faith, and expose secrets that could challenge her marriage.
Will Clarissa and her husband cling to God’s promise for a new beginning? Or be destroyed by tragedies and trials.

Jan Cline
is an author and speaker from Post Falls, Idaho, eager to share some American history with you.

I write Historical fiction from events in American History and the lives of those who lived in our nation's past. My debut novel is Emancipated Heart, a story about a family living in a Japanese American internment camp during WWII. My passion for history started when, as a kid, my father would stop at every roadside historical marker and every small town museum as we traveled on vacations. And my love of writing makes a good combination for great stories.

Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter and/or blog to receive a FREE short story.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Delight in Your Uniqueness by Lindsay A. Franklin

Sometimes people ask me what piece of writing advice I would give if I could only give one. Ten years as a professional in the publishing industry, and I’m only allowed to pick one? That’s such a hard question!

And yet every time, I come back to the same thought: you do you.

Don’t get me wrong. Studying craft and improving your writing mechanics are both very important. The freelance editor in me implores all new writers to dig deeply into fiction craft books, glean wisdom from those who have walked through the publishing fires before you, and sit at the feet of brilliant artists to better understand why what they do works.

But after you’ve honed the tools in your toolkit and built yourself a solid writerly foundation, you have to tell stories in the unique way only you can.

God created a very specific you. He could have given you any personality, any set of gifts, any imagination, any artistic passion, but he chose the ones you have. All of these unique factors combine to form you, the writer. You, the artist. Only you can tell a story from that space. So why squander that special, God-crafted niche trying to tell stories like anyone else?

I spent far too many years trying to make my voice sound like a “fantasy voice.” I thought my stories needed to sound like C.S. Lewis’s or J.R.R. Tolkien’s. It took writing a YA contemporary novel with no fantasy elements to discover who I actually am as a writer—to find that space where my passion for fantastical stories was being poured out in a way that was uniquely me. The Story Peddler was the first fantasy novel I wrote following this discovery. And it was the novel that finally got contracted.

Embrace the specific you God made and delight in your uniqueness. God certainly does.

Embrace the specific you God made and delight in your uniqueness. God certainly does. via @LinzyAFranklin #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Lindsay A. Franklin is a best-selling author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed marsupial named Wombatman.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

When We Doubt God's Calling by Emily Wickham

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10, NASB

Do you ever question whether God really called you to write for Him?

I have. Oh my, have I ever. When I’ve experienced family difficulties due to time spent on writing commitments, when little or no response has accompanied my posts, or since my agent search has continued for years, doubts about God’s calling have arisen now and then.

Can you relate?

Our answer to whether or not God has called us to write is fundamental.

Because if He hasn’t called us, why are we using our time and skill to craft words? Surely other ways exist to serve the Lord. On the other hand, if God has called us, why do we get mired down in doubt? Our enemy lurks, seeking to discourage and prevent us from fulfilling God’s will.

If you’re battling doubt today, please join me in exploring four confirmations from my writing journey, which I pray will encourage you forward in yours.

Confirmation #1: God’s Word

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

God used this verse years ago to call me into writing and speaking. Though He spoke these words to Jeremiah about 2,500 years ago, He’s repeatedly confirmed my calling through them.

I don’t travel extensively, but my words travel places I never dreamed possible. The internet and Alcanzando la Justicia carry them “to the nations,” destinations God intended long ago. Glory to Him!

Confirmation #2: God’s People

Early in my ministry, I experienced a painful rejection. Yet God planted a loving, godly encourager in my path. This Christian sister prayed for me plus worked by my side. And since those beginning days, God has used many people to prompt me forward. Their encouragement has confirmed God’s call to me along the way.

Confirmation #3: Opportunities

God has opened doors I didn’t anticipate, such as writing devotions for Journey Magazine. He’s also enabled me to sell other articles, teach at women’s retreats, and participate as faculty at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference 2019. God provides opportunities. He forges ahead, “to open doors … and make the rough places smooth” (Is. 45:1-2).

Confirmation #4: Impact

When I discover God used my words to impact another person, my hearts sings. He has a plan for the messages I write. Everything I possess belongs to the Lord, and it’s incredible to realize He’s using little me: the wife and mom who juggles responsibilities plus wrestles with feelings of failure … the woman without a college degree … the writer who entered the industry without connections.

The Lord has called me to write. How about you? Which of these confirmations resonates with you? I’d love to hear your story.

Do you ever question whether God really called you to write for Him? Discover four confirmations of your calling. @emilywickhamPH @MaryAFelkins #WritersLife #WritingCommunity

Note: Portions of this post first appeared in “Called to Write?” on June 5, 2018 at

EMILY WICKHAM seeks to stir hearts toward Jesus. She writes for Journey Magazine, a LifeWay publication, speaks at ladies’ events, and shares “Devotions for Women” videos on social media. Emily encourages Christian women plus equips Christian writers on her blog, She is the author of one Bible study, which was translated into Spanish in 2016. Emily, a resident of North Carolina, is Mark’s wife of 29+ years. They are the blessed parents of four children and one daughter-in-love. God’s faithfulness and love inspire Emily on her journey through life as she purposes to exalt Christ through written and spoken words.

Connect with Emily:

Alcanzando la Justicia Book Blurb:
Whether you’re a Spanish-speaking sister who longs to grow closer to Christ, or you’re looking for a Spanish Bible study to use for outreach in your community, please consider using Alcanzando la Justicia. It guides women through the book of Esther, challenging them to grow in righteous behavior—to make God-honoring choices each day. Daily prayers, Scripture readings, observation sections, author reflections, and application questions are included. This workbook is designed for individual or group use and contains instructions for following a one month, ten week, or thirty-one week schedule.

See Emily’s website for special offers or purchase the book on Amazon.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Hello! I'm New Here!

Hello! I am super duper happy to be a new regular contributor to this site. Nice to meet you all.
Let me share a bit about my life and my writing.

Reading and writing have always been an important part of my life. My parents shared their love of reading with me. We visited the local library and bookmobile weekly. Newspapers, magazines and books were read everyday. I frequently positioned myself beside my parents and waited for them to finish reading pages of the newspaper and hand sections to me.

Literature classes in school were always my favorite. I was blessed with encouraging teachers who noticed my love of reading and writing stories.

#Reading and writing have always been an important part of my life #seriouslywrite @mimionlife

As an adult, I continue to have a great love for the written (or typed or spoken) word.

My husband (Alan) and I moved from Virginia to South Carolina in 2017. We had not planned on relocating. Yet when we learned our son and daughter-in-love were expecting our first grandchild, we made the wonderful decision to pack up our belongings and move from Mechanicsville, Virginia to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

The Low Country of SC is very different from Virginia. We are learning about lizards, alligators, flooding, hurricanes and more. Finding the best grocery stores for our needs, choosing physicians and meeting new friends has given us many opportunities to explore the area. We are blessed with caring, compassionate neighbors. Family from Virginia have been able to visit and explore the sights and sounds of the Low Country.

I write inspirational messages and pray the words will lead people to a closer relationship with God. My first children’s book, “Licky the Lizard” was published in 2018. The story is based on my personal experience with lizards. The way the small creatures jump from place to place and run faster than I can blink made me a little fearful. Pausing and remembering God created lizards
and God created people gave me a different perspective.

The lizards are fun to watch. I don’t want them to find a way inside the house but I do enjoy watching them from a distance.

The question is asked. “When is your next book coming and what will the story be about? I am considering a story about alligators. I’m putting on my thinking cap and waiting to see what happens.

Let’s keep in touch. Hope you’ll stop by and enjoy a read on the fourth Monday of each month. I’ll be here to share with you.

Our family motto is “It’s Always A Story With The Henderson’s”. Check out my website/blog
and read some of the interesting experiences.

Here are ways we can connect.

Website and blog :
Amazon link to “Licky the Lizard”
Facebook : Melissa Henderson, Author
Pinterest : Melissa Henderson
Twitter : @mimionlife

Looking forward to getting to know you better.

Melissa Henderson

Friday, July 19, 2019

Don’t Let Life Pass You By – JoAnn Durgin

Meme with Henry Miller Quote: "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."

Don’t Let Life Pass You By

When most people randomly pass by an unusual or intriguing scene, they might stop and think, “Well, that’s interesting.” Then they’ll likely move on and forget about it. Creative minds, however, approach a situation from a completely different perspective. As writers, we often record “mental snapshots” from our daily lives. Why? They sometimes reveal a truth about the human condition—those things of life that bind us all together. For whatever reason, they affect us on a deeply personal level, and we don’t want to forget them. Without fail, those moments also raise questions in our mind. Whether or not we ever draw upon the inspiration in a story or a book, the memory becomes embedded inside us.

Although I’ve stored up many “mental snapshots,” here are a handful I’ve never forgotten:

*A pair of well-worn men’s cowboy boots sitting on a step, seemingly abandoned, in downtown Dallas.

*In Rome, a handsome young priest walking away from St. Peter’s. His robes flowed about him and pigeons perched on his outstretched arms while beggar children clamored for his attention.

*A man dressed all in black meeting with a steady parade of girls visiting his corner table at the fast food restaurant in London’s Piccadilly Circus.

*A young woman running on the sidewalk in front of a suburban Boston Marriot on a Saturday at midnight—dressed in wedding finery—alone and barefoot.

Now, here are five poignant scenes I witnessed on a single morning as I drove to work:

*Four elderly women standing outside a Catholic church, arms linked, waiting to cross the street.

*An older man carrying a plastic bag and using a long metal stick to pick up trash on the side of the road—a common sight in his white T-shirt and jeans, shoulders slumped, mouth downturned.

*A homeless man wheeling a heavy cart on a downtown city street. Puffing on a cigarette, he pokes around in a garbage can with his bare hands.

*With school buses lined up in front of a local museum, a little girl runs up the stairs to grab the hand of her assigned partner.

*An ambulance, siren blaring and lights flashing, pauses and then speeds through an intersection.

Writers should always be observers, listeners, and students of life. Be open and be aware. Question, think, and then write from the heart. While many, if not most, of life’s lessons are learned at home, if you’re short on inspiration, change it up—get out of the house! Effective writing taps into emotions and feelings on a visceral level that translates into the lives of your characters. In turn, these “people” become real and jump off your story into the hearts and minds of readers.

Until the next time, embrace and observe life…and then write it down to share with others.


*Modified significantly from the original version of “Don’t Let Life Pass You By” on the blog, Reflections in Hindsight: Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it’s closer than it appears, March 9, 2011.

The Piccadilly Circus vignette referred to in this blog is referenced fictionally in the life of my heroine in A Serendipity Christmas (featured below).

Why writers should create "mental snapshots"! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Short on inspiration? Change it up—get out of the house! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

A Serendipity Christmas
A Serendipity Christmas

The holiday season has rolled around once again, and the townspeople of quaint Serendipity, Pennsylvania, are preparing for their annual Christmas Challenge. This year, the funds raised from the various events and activities will benefit the continuing relief efforts in the aftermath of a brutal hurricane season.

Victoria (Tori) Harper agrees to participate in the more physically demanding sporting events of The Christmas Challenge alongside her brother and new father, Donovan, on behalf of his HarperMorgan Advertising Agency. But why has Donovan invited the insufferable and irritatingly appealing Henry Adams to join their team? The man seems determined to drive her to distraction, but Tori’s not about to fall under the charms of a handsome man with a smooth line, even delivered with Henry’s irresistible British accent.

As the youngest attorney in town, Henry has grown to love little Serendipity, and especially his verbal sparring sessions with Victoria Harper in The Coffee Nook and elsewhere around town. She might call him a Snooty Scrooge, but he’s determined to win her heart. If he can’t win that personal challenge by the end of the holiday season, he might as well move on and accept a tempting job offer from a New York law firm.

The second in The Serendipity Christmas Series (following The Christmas Challenge), join Henry as he seeks to win Tori’s love and they’re both reminded of how God is always faithful in His promises. A beautiful celebration of love, faith, family, small-town charm, and the true miracles of the Christmas season!

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, July 18, 2019

Lessons Writers Can Learn From Throwing Axes by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Recently my husband, son, and I went to a local axe-throwing establishment. Right off let me say I loved it. Two hours hurling axes at a wooden target and scoring multiple bull’s eyes, what's not to love?
There were groups of all ages and axe throwing abilities. Some of us were newbies and it showed. Others like the bearded, Viking-hair-shaved, kilt wearer who brought his personal bag of axes were obvious pros.
As I threw axes at targets, I realized there are lessons writers can learn from throwing axes.
• In axe throwing if we're going to hit the target, we have to get in the game, grab an axe, step up to the line, and throw the axe toward the target in front of us. As writers, if we want our words to hit the target and find an audience, we need to get in the game, step up to the line, and put our words on the page.
• If we hurl an axe toward the target and it doesn't stick the first, second, even third time, we pick the axe off the floor and throw it again. If our first attempts to hit the publishing target bounce off the wall and land with a solid thud to the ground for all the world to hear, we pick up that manuscript and send it into the publishing world again.
• Just because our axe hits a bull’s eye once doesn't mean we'll score another bull’s eye on the next go round. Nevertheless, we keep trying. We may score an acceptance with one manuscript then miss with the next one we pitch. Nevertheless, we keep trying.
• When we throw the axe and it doesn’t score a bull’s eye, we don't discount the 1s, 2s, and 3s we have scored. All points big and small add up for the grand total. They don’t have to all be bull’s eyes. Each step forward in our writing journey is important no matter how small we may feel it is. We don’t dismiss those which seem insignificant in comparison to our overall goal.
There are no disqualifiers for hitting the target - wooden or written. What truly matters is a willingness to get in the game, grab that axe, step up to the line, and give it our best shot. Over and over and over again. Enjoying each step of the journey along the way.

Sandy Kirby Quandt is a former elementary school educator and full-time writer with a passion for God, history, and travel; passions that often weave their way into her stories and articles. She has written numerous articles, devotions, and stories for adult and children publications. Her devotions appear in two Worthy Publishing compilation books; So God Made a Dog, and Let the Earth Rejoice. She has won several awards for writing including the 85th and 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the Young Adult category, First Place in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Children’s Literature 2016 Foundation Awards, First Place in the 2017 Foundation Awards in the Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Flash Fiction categories. Looking for words of encouragement or gluten-free recipes? Then check out Sandy’s blog, Woven and Spun.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Branding: Why do I have to have a Blog? by Patty Smith Hall

Patty here. I’d hoped to introduce my newly designed webpage and show how I’d incorporated my brand into it, but technical problems are causing a delay. So today, we’re going to press ahead and talk about social media, in particular, your blog.

Now, if you don’t have a blog, that’s okay. There are a lot of writers who, for various reasons, hate to blog, me included. It’s one of those things that you either fully commit to or don’t even want to start. For years, I’ve tried (and failed) at starting my own blog.

But recently, my husband gave me a compelling reason to try again. A little background information—Danny has always been interested in the business side of my work which is great seeing as I’d rather be writing. So a few weeks ago, I gave him Edie Melson’s book on social media, hopeful that he could help me get a grip on my own. He read it in a week between downtime at his job and actually made a list of talking points he wanted to go over with me. On the three-hour ride to my mother-in-law’s house, we talked about the list. One of his questions jumped out at me.

“Why don’t you blog?”

Because I’m too lazy. Because I’d rather be making up stories than blogging. Because I don’t have anything to say. “Because I don’t like it,” I answered, thinking the matter was settled.
“Besides, I write once a month for a writer’s blog.”

He shook his head. “The book says you need to blog at least two to three times a week. And what about your readers? They don’t read writer’s blogs.”

I was beginning to dislike Edie and her stupid book. “What would I say? It’s not like I’m that interesting.”

He reached over and squeezed my hand. “You’re a lot more interesting than you think. How many people do you know who actually took a gold-mining class so she’d know how her characters felt in a book? Or what about the time you talked that WWII bomber pilot at Love Field into showing you how to take off and land a Spitfire so you could describe it correctly.” He nodded. “Stuff like that would be popular with your readers.”

Danny was right. I never considered that my readers would like the story behind the story. Danny’s idea had a lot of merit and stayed in line with my brand as a history nerd. Just because you’ve bombed out of a blog in the past doesn’t mean you can’t have success with it now, especially if it will help build your brand.

How to get started

Before you start, you need to be ready to commit to writing for your blog at least two days a week, three if you can. This builds up a trust in your readership that you will be there for the long haul. Trust is important. Remember, we’re building relationships.

If you have an author website, most have an option to add pages. Use one of these to start your blog. If you don’t have a website yet, it might be a good time to consider starting one. Most publishers want their authors to have a presence on the internet. Building a following before your first contract shows them you’re serious about your work. I use Wix because it’s easy and even someone with my limited tech skills can build a great looking webpage. Wix (as well as GoDaddy and Wordpress) have templates to help you design your page. Once your webpage goes live, you’re ready to post your first blog.

A little side note—when you start to set up your webpage and other social media, go with one name across all medias. It makes it easier for people to find you. When you’re ready to post your first blog, remember to connect it to your Goodreads and Facebook pages (as well as your Amazon page if you’re published.) It’s a good way to generate traffic to your webpage.

I’ve got a blog. Now what?

Consider your brand. Do you write books that feature bakers or chefs? Then share recipes. Medical romances? Talk about the research you have to do to make it realistic or share why you write what you write. Or if you’re a nurse, tell a funny doctor story. Talk about your favorite writing place—one of my most commented posts on Facebook were of pictures I took while writing at a local lake. It was basically the same view every day, but people love it—and my readers knew I was working on something new.

More suggestions:

1)  The first chapter from an upcoming book of another author.

2) A weekly chapter from a novella you’ve written.

3) Pictures/Videos of things you’re doing.

4) Devotionals.
The important thing to is be yourself. Your brand is you.

Homework: Check out the blogs of writers in your genre. Come up with two or three ideas that will promote your brand.

Just because you’ve bombed out of a blog in the past doesn’t mean you can’t have success with it now. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #Blogging #AuthorBrand


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, July 16, 2019

Unexpected Fireworks by Shannon Moore Redmon

Like many Americans, over the fourth of July my family vacationed at our favorite lake spot for some fun, relaxation and fireworks. We enjoyed a calm couple of days on the water.

But our second night there, something unexpected happened. A neighbor’s boat dock, across the cove, caught fire.

At three-thirty in the morning, we awoke as trucks sped up and down the street. This was unusual for our quiet neighborhood. No one causes a commotion that late at night or the sheriff gets a call.

We thought perhaps a party had run late and people were leaving. Then my mother spotted orange flames glowing against the blackness of the water. We all ran outside for a closer look.

The men of my family wanted to help. They hopped in the boat to make sure everyone was okay. My mother and I stayed behind, watching from a distance.

Thankfully, no human life was injured or lost. Only the owner’s pontoon and his brand-new, just-purchased a few days ago boat, went up in flames. Nothing was left of the double decker dock except the metal frame.

The culprit? An overturned firework that wreaked havoc on the floating objects in its path.

No one expected the purchased sparklers to cause so much damage. The group wanted to celebrate Independence Day, see a good show and enjoy the fun. But instead chaos ensued.

We need to give our readers the same kind of unexpected fireworks on the page. Create chaos in our stories. Pull them from their relaxed lives into the tension and conflict of our characters.

How do we do this?

1) Unexpected Hook/Twist – Give them an unpredictable opening, clutching them into the story the same way our neighbor’s flames pulled my family out of bed at three-thirty AM. Even my college age son got up with interest. I haven’t seen that boy so alert since he finished high school.

2) Explode on the first page - Give the reader action and adventure, suspense and mystery or love and tension, depending on the genre. Something to grab them on the opening page and keep them turning until the end. No one wants to read about the color of the trees or flowers when an all-out fire is taking place across the bay.

3) Spread the fire - Each chapter needs fuel to keep the story burning. A bit of information or action to keep the adventure in motion all the way until the climax at the end.

4) Satisfying ending - Our neighbor plans to rebuild his dock and had insurance money to cover the boats. He will be fine. And so will your readers when a rewarding resolution ends the story.

Time to gather up those bottle rockets and Roman candles to create one completely satisfying pyrotechnic display of writing!

Give readers fuel in every chapter to keep the story burning @shannon_redmon @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #SeriouslyWrite

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, July 15, 2019

Never Give Up by Patty Nicholas

Last week I had the honor of helping my mother clean out my late father’s office. We had gone through all of the important papers a few years ago, but this time was all about his books. Hundreds of books acquired over a lifetime of collecting.

My dad was a professional editor for several scientific publications, however his passion was the art of the story. He loved reading as much as he loved writing. While he supported his family editing for science writers, he always wanted to put together, and sell a great novel, and it showed in the multitude of books he had on the craft of writing.

Unfortunately, he passed away before his dream was realized, but he never gave up. My mother mentioned how she used to fall asleep listening to the click of the keyboard as he wrote into the wee hours of the morning. I have fond memories of the different stories he would tell every time we would get together.

As I went through his books, my initial thoughts and emotions were of sadness. He worked so hard, and never saw his deepest desires of sharing his stories with the world, yet, after contemplating my time in my childhood home and with excellent counsel from a dear friend, I see how he stayed with his passion. He never gave up, he told stories until the very end, and there is no doubt that he passed his zeal, his hopes and dreams on to me.

If I have half his determination, drive, and half his desire to write well, I will have carried on his legacy. There have been a few times in my writing career that I wondered if it was worth it to keep going. When I think of how my dad persevered, I have to carry on.

If I have half his determination, drive, and half his desire to write well, I will have carried on his legacy

I was blessed to have the example of my dad. Someone who didn’t quit. Someone who never gave up.


Multi award winning writer, Patty Nicholas lives in the mountains of North Carolina. She is a busy event planner for the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, and is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers Group.

She is a mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three. She writes Bible studies and devotionals as well as contemporary romance.

Devotions are published in compilations by Lighthouse Bible Studies.