Friday, August 23, 2019

Writing Deficiency Disorder by C. Kevin Thompson

Depressing photo of girl on her smart phone.

Writing Deficiency Disorder

Study after study has been done in recent years. Such things as “gray matter atrophy,” “compromised white matter integrity,” “reduced cortical thickness,” “impaired cognitive function,” and “cravings and impaired dopamine function,” are all physiological detriments attributed to this malady that now touches hundreds of thousands of people a year. It is a global issue, and not limited to those of us here in America. It is not discriminatory when it comes to gender or age, although it does affect younger folks more than older ones.

Such alarming things as “structural and functional changes in the brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control” have been discovered.1

You might be thinking I am speaking of such horrible diseases like Alzheimer’s, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, or some form of brain cancer or neurological degradation for which science has yet to find a cure.

However, this disease of which I speak is self-inflicted. It has nothing to do with exposure to chemical spills or radioactive power plants. It has nothing to do with the weed killer our farmers spray on our vegetables in the field as they grow or the depletion of the ozone layer and the subsequent exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation.

I’m speaking of your smartphone. That handy-dandy device that brings the world to your fingertips. That electronic wonder you hold in your hand—the same one that has enough computing power to equal that found in both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.

This also applies to the gaming systems your teens may utilize. X-Box One and PlayStation 4 are the latest versions of these to hit store shelves.

The point is, when we are on our devices, whether it be phones or gaming devices, something “ungood” happens inside our craniums. Hemispheres get disconnected. Rerouting of normal brain pathways occurs. Loneliness and depression increases. To put it bluntly, it changes a person. It “messes with our heads,” literally. The normal person spends 135 minutes a day on their devices,2 equaling almost ten percent of an entire twenty-four-hour day. When you factor in sleep (seven hours average), then the percentage climbs to over thirteen percent of one’s waking moments. And this is the “normal” person, mind you. I’m sure we can think of people we know who spend considerably more than two hours and fifteen minutes a day on devices, spread across gaming systems, social media, and other smartphone-related usage, like texting, web-surfing, etc.

For the writer, besides facing the real issue of rearranging our brain structures, which affects how much real, restful sleep we receive, by the way, we face a dilemma all our own: Stolen Writing Time, or what we could label Writing Deficiency Disorder. It hits us in different ways, but each one is kin to the other. For some of us, it’s the incessant buzzing of your smartphone as notification after notification alerts you to the “my world will come to an end if I don’t check it” light flashing in the corner of your device. For others, it’s the “come hither” look our browser button at the bottom of our computer monitor gives us each time we pause when typing. For still others, it’s the dopamine withdrawal we are experiencing because it’s been over fifteen minutes since we accrued our last “fifteen minutes of social media fame” in the form of likes, hearts, and comments. For younger writers, developing a new dance move on Fortnite just may be their kryptonite.

For those of us who call ourselves “writers/authors,” we like to “justify” our online time by saying things like, “Well, I was checking on a sale ad I am running,” or “I feel like if I’m not in touch with my peeps, I'm not being a good author,” or other similar comments. Yes, social media is here for now. Whether it is here to stay is another question. I guess only time will answer that question. Yes, the internet is a tool. Many books can be sold via its engines of ingenuity (although many of us are experiencing hindrances in that area via the “giants” in this land, like Amazon, Google, and Facebook algorithms, for example). Yes, it is nice to “talk” with folks we know who do not live locally. Social media isn’t all bad. The internet does have some useful qualities. Electronics, whether the gaming kind or communicative sort, are not bad, per se. They are amoral. They are neither good nor bad. They are like money. Inanimate objects. It is the love of those items that is the root of evil (cf. 1 Timothy 6:10).

Especially when we allow them to dominate us.

And for us as writers, allowing them to rob us of time that could be spent putting words on the page is our version of this malady: Writing Deficiency Disorder.

So, let TED talk some other time, maybe while you’re cooking dinner or mowing the yard instead. Leave Facebook, Instagram, MeWe, Snapchat, and Twitter alone for a day and see just how many people actually missed you by sending messages like, “Hey, where did you go?” Then, spend that time instead at your computer alone with your manuscript, with the Wi-Fi disconnected (you know you can do that, right?). Shut the smartphone off, or silence it, and leave it in another room. Set a timer or a goal and tell yourself, “I’m glued to this keyboard until I finish (the goal) or the timer goes off.”

Trust me, do this for a month of weekdays, and not only will you have developed a new habit, you will have saved some brain cells, grabbed a little more restful sleep, climbed out of that pit of despair, and put more words on the page than ever before. And to top it all off, like whipped cream on a sundae, your Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, MeWe, and Facebook friends will still be there, and they will still be your friends. You know why? They’re like the rest of the world. They’re just as interested in getting their dopamine fix from how many “likes” they’ve received in the last two hours, or by how many coins or kills they’ve amassed in the latest game craze, as you are by completing a chapter or finally getting to type “The End” on their first draft.

Dunckley, Victoria L. “Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain.” Psychology Today. 2014 Feb. 14. 2019 Aug. 18 <>

2 McSweeney, Kelly. “This is Your Brain on Instagram: Effects of Social Media on the Brain.” Now. The Intersection of technology, innovation, & creativity. 2019 March 17. 
2019 Aug. 18. 

When we are on our devices, whether it be phones or gaming devices, something “ungood” happens inside our craniums. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson
Allowing smartphones to rob us of time that could be spent putting words on the page is the writer’s version of this malady: Writing Deficiency Disorder.
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson

The Serpent’s Grasp
The Serpent's Grasp

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

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, August 22, 2019

Enjoying the Journey by Sally Shupe

As you start on a journey, enjoy the trip, take in the passing scenery. Who knows what you might find. One year, we got lost coming back from vacation. We passed a paved lot with a bunch of parked airplanes. I thought it was so cool. If we hadn’t gotten lost, I would have never seen it. Another time, our family went on vacation with friends of ours. We got lost. My friend and I (Hi, Sandy!) thought it was funny. When we finally crossed over into another state, we got out of the car and ran around the sign. As you can see, it is not vacation unless we get lost at least once. I think the record is getting lost three times trying to get somewhere for vacation. GPS is not my friend!

When I started running, I had a hard time. Come to find out, you need muscles that I didn’t have at the time in order to run. Needless to say, I was slow. But as I continued running, I noticed flowers, bushes, the breeze, the way the sun lit up spider webs in the grass. Even though I was having a hard time running, I could still enjoy the things around me.

How does getting lost on vacation and struggling with running have to do with writing? I’ll tell you. Enjoy the journey! Are you struggling with getting words on a page? Struggling with finishing your first book, or tenth? Struggling with getting published? Enjoy the journey! There are so many things to see along the way.

Writing your first word, leads to two words, which leads to a complete sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, a completed book. But at the end, what do you have? Words on paper. Now imagine that same journey, interacting with other writers, readers who enjoy the genre you write, writing blogs where you can interact with others in the industry. Do you know what you’ve done? Opened doors that can lead to friendships, a critique partner, encouraging tips, an agent, maybe even a publisher. If all you do is take a trip and not pay attention to the scenery you pass, you’ve missed half the journey. If you go for a run, a walk, a hike, but don’t actually see where you’re running, walking, or hiking, you’re missing the added benefits. It’s the same with writing. If all you do is put words on a page, you are missing what you can learn along the way: new editing skills, friendships with potential readers, maybe even an agent connection or a publishing contact. Writing can be a solitary journey, but it doesn’t have to be. And when you’re struggling, the best thing is to have encouragers around you, cheering you on. Who knows what you might find?

So, reach out to the ones around you. Enjoy the writing journey, how you get from point a to b, the people you encounter, the skills you acquire, and have fun!

How do you keep your writing journey from being a lonely experience? I’d love to hear from you.

Sally Shupe lives in southwest Virginia with her husband, two grown kids-a daughter still at home and a son nearby, and a whole bunch of pets: five dogs, three cats, a rabbit, and birds at the birdfeeder (and the mandatory snowman when the snow cooperates). She writes contemporary Christian romance, with two completed manuscripts and three more in progress. They are part of a series located in small town Virginia.

When Sally’s not writing or working full-time, she is a freelance editor for several authors who write fiction and nonfiction; students working on dissertation papers; a copy editor for Desert Breeze; a content editor for Prism (became part of Pelican); performs beta reading for various authors; publishes book reviews on her blog and with Valley Business FRONT’s monthly magazine; is a member of ACFW and a PRO member of RWA; loves genealogy, running, and crocheting.

Sally uses her love of words to write about God’s amazing love.

Connect with Sally:Facebook:

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Branding 101 - The Author Press Kit by Patty Smith Hall

Patty here, and so far in this series on branding, we’ve determined what a brand is and how it works for us; we’ve asked ourselves the important question—who am I?—because we are our own unique brand, not our books; we’ve looked at how our websites set the tone for our brand through color and font choices; and we’ve discussed the importance of blogging to build your brand.

Today, I’m going to talk about that often-forgotten item on a writer’s checklist, the press kit. I’m going to be honest here—I don’t have one, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need one. Every writer, including pre-pubs, needs a press kit. It brands you (see how I did that!) as a professional writer. If you’re uncertain what a press kit is, this is a file of information pertaining to you and your books. It should include:
  1. Contact information such as your website and social media links, agent information and email address.
  2. Bio and headshot
  3. Product information such as book covers, back cover copy, links to purchases.
  4. Awards and reviews from major outlets like Amazon and Goodreads.
  5. Interview resources
  6. Press releases on new book
  7. Book excerpts
  8. Topics that you speak/teach.
Most of these items are relatively self-explanatory, so we’re going to focus on two areas that you have the most input—the bio and headshots.

There are three kinds of bios you’ll need for your press kit—the simple bio, the friendly bio and the professional bio. The simple bio is generally 1-2 lines. Think of it as an elevator pitch for yourself. Here’s what mine looks like:

Author Patty Smith Hall writes historical romance from a Christian worldview and lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny.

In that one sentence, you know that I write historical romance, live in North Georgia and have been married to my own personal hero for 36 years. In other words, me in a nutshell!

The second type of bio is the friendly bio. In this one, you can be relaxed, even silly at times. It’s like talking to your best friend. Here’s one I wrote years ago. It’s a bit much but you get the picture.

Patty Smith Hall has been making up stories since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Now, she’s thrilled to share her love of history and her storytelling skills with everyone, including her hero of over three decades, Danny, two beautiful daughters, and a wonderful son-in-law. She resides in northeast Georgia. Patty loves to hear from her readers! You can contact her at 

The last one is a professional bio. This is the type you’ll find in a book or series proposal. It consists of a list of your accomplishments and awards, published articles, publishing houses you work with, professional affiliations such as ACFW or RWA. In other words, it’s your resume in a paragraph. Here’s mine.

Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. 

Each bio has a uniquely different tone and use.

Now that we’ve covered bios, let’s talk about the headshots that go with them. To make a professional impression, you need a professionally done headshot. Remember this is the first impression you’ll make with a new reader/publisher/agent/reporter so don’t let your husband/child/best friend take the photo. Most writing conferences will have a photographer who does headshots as part of the conference—sign up for an appointment!

Here are some things to remember when preparing for your headshot:
  1. Make sure lighting is appropriate. Example—if you write light-hearted romance, you don’t want a headshot that looks like something out of a gothic novel!
  2. Make sure the angle of the photo is flattering.
  3. Make sure the background isn’t a distraction. The focus should be on you, not the wallfalls behind you.
  4. You should be the only person in the picture.
  5. Make sure image is sharp and in focus.
  6. Plan your clothing to match your brand. Look at the colors you used on your website as well as consider your genre.
  7. Keep your accessories simple.

Homework: Work on your press kit this month.

We're talking about "that often-forgotten item on a writer’s checklist, the press kit." via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is
to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

How to Start a Writer's Sprint Group by Shannon Moore Redmon

Ever struggle to get your bum in the writer’s seat several times a week to complete that long-awaited deadline?

You’re not the only one.

In the evenings after a long hard day of work, my brain doesn’t want to be creative and balks at the idea of trying to construct a story. Often times, I find myself curled up with the TV remote in hand, wishing I would muster up the stamina to get a few words on the white screen, mocking me in its glow.

Enter my writer friend Sami Abrams, a fun-loving, extroverted writer (yes, they do exist) who wanted to get some friends together and write. She suggested we meet online, chat about our stories for a few minutes and then write as many words as possible in a fifteen-minute time slot. I loved the idea and our Writer Sprint group was born. A shout out to the amazing authors who participate with me: Sami A. Abrams, Ginger Vaughn, Darlene L Turner, Dana R. Lynn, and Loretta Eidson.

Five easy steps to start a Writer Sprint group

1) Select how many times you want to meet. Our group meets two to three evenings a week. We each come from a different area of the country—from the west to east coast and deep south to Canada. Make sure to take into account different time zones when scheduling. Six writers take part in our group, usually not all at one time. The most we’ve had in a meeting at once has been four people. Limiting the number of writers to a smaller group, allows for each person to get the individualized help they need with the scenes they are writing.

2) Decide on a host to oversee each meeting. We take turns doing this or volunteer for a specific day of the week to lead. Our host for the night will post three Zoom links to the group Facebook page. Zoom links only provide a forty-minute window for a free account. (Not sure about other web-conference services). When the timer runs out, we exit the meeting and go to the next link. Sometimes Zoom will grant us a gift and provide unlimited time, which is nice.

3) Sprint Write. The host moderates our fifteen-minute limit and activates our start time. We all disperse to our works in progress to write as many words as possible. Although, some authors use the time to brainstorm or edit a chapter. Whatever they need. Then our host calls us back over audio to the video meeting when time is up.

4) Celebrate Victories. We compare word counts and celebrate all writing progress. We also use this time to hash out any sticky spots that might have cropped up. This is not the time to critique work. Only to write, edit or brainstorm.

5) Repeat. A group can determine how many sessions they want to do in a sprint. Depends on availability of the writers. We’ve found that two to three sessions work best for our group.

Benefits of Writer Sprints

1) Evening writing. I wasn’t doing much during this timeframe of the day, because my creativity is more active in the morning. By starting a group, our brains learned to let go of workday struggles and allow the story juices to flow again.

2) Increased writing speed and completed goals. I’m not as fast as some members in the group (Ginger Vaughn 😊), but trying to write as many words in a fifteen-minute period helps us let go of perfection and just write the scene. Get the words down. We can always go back and edit later. Our group writes anywhere from five-hundred to two thousand words a night per writer. Five-hundred words written every day will accomplish a completed novel in six months. That’s progress!

3) Provides encouragement. When we write alone, our enemy has a way of getting into our heads and filling it with all kinds of negative thoughts... We can’t do this. We’ll never finish. Our writing is terrible. Sound familiar? But with Godly brothers and sisters surrounding us, we inspire, encourage and lift each other up in our writing. We talk through our plot ideas that don’t work or find knowledge in others to make a scene plausible. We flesh out our characters and help create authentic storylines with depth. By writing together, we not only benefit from a well written story, but our readers will too.

Time to gather up a few friends, put on our writing brains and start a Writer’s Sprint group!

With Godly brothers and sisters surrounding us, we inspire, encourage and lift each other up in our writing. @shannon_redmon @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #SeriouslyWrite

Time to gather up a few friends, put on our writing brains and start a Writer’s Sprint group! @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 her 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, and the Seriously Write blog. Her stories have been selected as a semi-finalist and finalist of the ACFW Genesis Contest and won first place in the Foundation’s Awards. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. The StoryMoore Blog is named in memory of her father, Donald Eugene Moore.

Connect with Shannon:
The StoryMoore Blog

Monday, August 19, 2019

There's Always Going to be Something by Patty Nicholas

I was having a conversation with my fiancé about the challenges of writing when he asked me, as a widow and a writer, what I found more difficult, coming home to an empty house and using only my imagination, or re-awakening experiences with a new love? I had to think about my answer before I spoke.

I explained that my imagination was always on overdrive and my need to be creative did not change from one season of life to the next. No, what I found most difficult at the moment was balancing between getting to know our respective families, working full time, and wedding planning and I’m struggling to find time to write. He assured me that this was a short season of extreme busyness, and that things would calm down after we were married and settled into our new life together. I, on the other hand said, “No, there is always going to be something.”

Each season of life brings unique challenges. Young mothers, my hat’s off to you. I can remember thinking that I would never know what a good night sleep felt like. Parents of teens have endless school and athletic activities. On the other side of the spectrum, I know several friends who are taking care of aging parents or have major struggles with their own health.

You see, the enemy wants to keep us busy and distracted so we won’t fulfill the tasks that God has given each of us. He can’t take away our salvation, but he’s pretty busy trying to rob us of our message and calling, if we let him. No matter the challenge, if God has given you a message to share, and words in your heart, rest assured He will equip you to meet that challenge.

if God has given you a message to share, and words in your heart, rest assured He will equip you to meet that challenge.

As I write these words, I’m speaking to slightly overwhelmed, stressed, self. It is a good reminder to take a minute at the start of each day and give my schedule to God and ask Him to be in control of calendar. Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (NASB) What a sweet reminder to put my trust in Jesus, not only in the big things of life, but in little things too.

Things like word count, and deadlines are important, but this is a good gentle nudge to look to Jesus to guide the day, and do not let the enemy rob me of any joy of my journey authorhood. Don’t let him rob you either today.

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.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Labor of Love by JoAnn Durgin

Meme with the verse from Matthew 25:23

A Labor of Love

What’s the most difficult writing you’ve ever done? Perhaps it was a pesky piece of prose that wouldn’t come together. Or you lacked inspiration and the words wouldn’t flow. Or it could be the tears flowed freely because the words weighed on your heart. I recently wrote my greatest labor of love—the eulogy for my 87-year-old mother.

In fiction, we reveal the underlying layers of our characters because it makes them real and identifiable. In writing about my mom, I wanted to pay tribute to an inspiring woman from the unique perspective of being her daughter. Surprising things like how as a young, divorced mom raising two small children, she sometimes wore a black leather jacket, fire engine red lipstick, and big black sunglasses. She wasn’t rebellious, but she could be independent, feisty, and speak her mind.

When she needed a new car, she took me with her to a car dealership that advertised “Nobody walks away.” The salesman who waited on her suggested she come back with her husband. Mama, all of five feet tall, proudly rose to her feet and squared her shoulders. “Nobody walks away? Well, watch this!” Taking me by the hand, head held high, she marched out of the showroom. Then she drove straight to another dealership where she plunked down cash for a shiny new vehicle.

My mother took us on car trips every summer. With the windows rolled down, she’d belt out theme songs from musicals at the top of her lungs. She adored covered bridges and we’d travel over many country roads to find and photograph them. A fun and adventurous traveling companion, she took me to Europe several times and on a Caribbean cruise. She sent me to London for a semester. Mama did so because she wanted her child to view the world with its diverse people and cultures. The Lord knew her generosity would help make me the writer I am today. Later on, she visited the Holy Land, Egypt, Russia, Europe, Hawaii, and Alaska. After turning 60, she went whitewater rafting and parasailing.

My mother loved Jesus and studied her Bible daily. She baked countless cookies and volunteered for many projects with a wide smile and an even bigger heart. She taught kindergarten for 11 years and invested herself in her “children.” Mama gave talks to local groups, digging deep into her research and opening the eyes of her audience to topics such as human trafficking and the need for clean water in impoverished areas of the globe.

Finally, Mama was a voracious reader. She kept a journal for years where she faithfully detailed her thoughts, her life. She wasn’t perfect, but she did the best she could, and that was more than enough. If you earned her loyalty, you had it forever. If you earned her love, it was unwavering and steadfast.

This is the kind of real-life woman who can inspire a great fictional character! If you have trouble giving “life” to your characters, look no further than the people all around you. I dedicated my debut novel, Awakening, to my mother as well as my latest release, If You Believe, which was the last thing she ever read.

Portrait of JoAnn Durgin's Mother

For Mama~

You taught me by example to love words—
the wonderful images they create
and the senses they evoke—bringing
sight, touch, smell, hearing, and tasting
into glorious, vivid being.
I grew to love the way words roll off the tongue,
the way they sound.
How, when paired with other words,
words can bring new worlds to life.
You opened my mind to embrace ideas
and encouraged me to dream.
You gave me wings and
taught me to fly on my own.
You modeled strength, character, and
grace with dignity.
You showed me I could do nothing on my own
without Christ in my heart.
I’m doing my best to follow your example
and pray I’ll always make you proud.
Thank you for giving me life and
demonstrating how to live fully, confidently,
and passionately.
For that and so much more…
I love you now,
I love you always.


Who has inspired you in your writing journey?

Blessings, friends,

Need character ideas? They're all around you!
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

How JoAnn Durgin's mom inspired her writing!
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

If You Believe
If You Believe

From the author of The Lewis Legacy Series, If You Believe brings readers the story of Brendan and Edlynne. Can a man struggling with a terrible tragedy and a woman wounded by betrayal find love together?

In charming Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the shadows of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains, firefighter/paramedic Brendan Williams barely has time for himself much less a social life. After his world was torn apart by a family tragedy, the only woman he sees on a regular basis is Mimi, his beloved grandmother. When he meets a beautiful cake baker/decorator on his delivery route, he wonders for the first time if she could be “the one.”

Edlynne (“Edie”) Harris begins her days in a bakery downtown before dashing off to her job as a ticket agent at Asheville Regional Airport. Besides her two jobs, she volunteers for a ministry benefitting displaced and abused women. Then a handsome new delivery driver at the bakery snags her attention. She’s been fooled before, and the last guy she dated a year ago stole more than her smile.

When Edie and Brendan independently enter a Valentine’s Day contest, they’re challenged to plan the “perfect date.” For personal and unselfish reasons, they’re both determined to win the cash prize, but if chosen as finalists, they’ll be pitted against one another. Will the competition sour their growing attraction for each other, or does God have another plan? When the Almighty’s involved, anything is possible!

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, August 15, 2019

Writing For Fame And Fortune by Richard L. Mabry, MD

I didn’t set out to be an author. From childhood, my career goals were first an airline pilot, then a professional baseball player, and finally a physician. As I matured, I realized the first one was a fantasy, the second one highly unlikely (although I did play a bit of semi-pro baseball), while the third was what God had in mind for me. I didn’t realize God also planned for me to write, but events after the death of my first wife made that path clear to me.

In none of these did I have an ultimate goal of fame and fortune—well, maybe the baseball thing, but nothing since then. But when I got my first writing contract, the dreams began. At my first writer’s conference, I was awestruck by the published writers there. These were people whose names were household words—maybe not in my household, but I was just getting started, so I could be excused for not knowing all of them. But I was certain that at least they were celebrities in their hometowns. Surely, they had to stop and give autographs in the grocery store or dry cleaners. And, undoubtedly, they lived in the lap of luxury. After all, they were published authors!

Bitter Pill is my sixth published novella, along with twelve full-length novels and a non-fiction book. Nineteen books, and no one asks for my autograph. I’ve decided that fame and fortune may find some authors, but not me. True, a row of books with my name on the cover are spread across the shelf over my writing desk, but with each book release there are no cheering crowds outside my window, no marching bands in the street. A few folks at church might ask, “When’s your next book coming out?” but otherwise it’s pretty quiet around here. And as for fortune? Afraid not.

Although I haven’t become rich and famous, my words have been read by many more people than the population of the town where I grew up. If I’ve succeeded in my mission, when those readers turn the last page of my books, they find they’ve been left with a message, one I hope sticks with them. I’ve been allowed to use the printed page as my pulpit. And that’s rich and famous enough for me.

Amazon Link

“Brother” Bob Bannister is content with his life and his itinerant healing ministry, until one night he finds that the woman who walks off the stage under her own power isn’t one of his shills. At that point, doubts begin to intrude on his previously untroubled existence.

Dr. Abby Davis is tired of her family practice and at odds with God. Dealing with critically ill and dying patients has crushed her spirit to the point she’s ready to quit. But she soon realizes that there’s more to healing than ministering to the physical body.

Scott Anderson was the oldest graduate of his seminary class. Then again, most of them hadn’t turned away from a medical practice, hoping to atone for past mistakes (including his wife’s death) by ministering to men’s souls. Now he hopes he hasn’t made a colossal mistake in switching careers.

Each of these individuals becomes linked to the other, and each finds that God has a purpose for them—but, as it often does, the lesson comes with discomfort.

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His work has garnered numerous awards, as well as praise from his contemporaries and reviewers (but no fame or fortune). He and his wife live in north Texas, where he works at being the world’s greatest grandfather, improving his golf game (without apparent results), and convincing his loved ones that staring off into space is sometimes necessary for writers.

Richard’s website is He blogs regularly at He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Celebrate! by Joy Massenburge

I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Ps 119:16 NKJV

July 8, 2019, release day of “A Heart Surrendered,” should have been the happiest day of my life. Maybe it would have been if I hadn’t replayed all the things that needed to happen over the next thirty days—get blog post material out on time—promote the book signing events—get fifty reviews as soon as possible for the Amazon algorithm—the book is at #15, stimulate a buzz to get it to #1.

Instead of climbing, the numbers fell. Maybe Harambee Press, the new African American Christian Fiction imprint for Lighthouse of the Carolinas, should have chosen a more experienced writer to be their first release. What if I’ve hindered their vision to unite the ethnic voices so underrepresented in the Christian market? On and on my days fill with what ifs, maybes, should’ves and would’ves. Where writing had always been my delight, it became a burden.

“Joy, when are you going to celebrate?” My husband asked three weeks later.

It was then he reminded me how far I’d come since July 2015, when I first decided I’d leave my job at the end of that year, giving myself two years to focus on the craft of writing. July 2019, my dream of being a hybrid author, independently and traditionally published, came true. Although “A Heart Surrendered” hasn’t reached #1, Amazon describes the book as “Tops in African American Christian Fiction, Kindle Store and Books.” There are currently 25 Amazon reviews, 4.7 out of 5 stars. One reviewer boasted:

“I loved it. Romantic and convicting with well-rounded, characters facing real world problems. Tugged at me on a spiritual level. Well done!”

Creating word pictures, provoking Christ centered thoughts, and evoking hope in readers is all I was ever called to do. So focused on the results, I forgot my why. I had so many things to be thankful for, yet, where was my praise?

Warning to all writers! Stop. Take the time to celebrate what God has done. Celebrate your stories. “The End” is a big deal. Celebrate the readers you reach. Every best seller began with one reader. Celebrate every milestone, every step of the way and let His name be exalted.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

So focused on the results, I forgot my why. #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Joy crafts the love stories of pastors and their kids. She was born the sixth child of a pastor. She married a football player turned pastor…they raised pastor’s kids; a son and two daughters.

During the week, she works as an assistant to Jacob George, CPA, PC. She serves as American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW-East Texas) chapter’s Founding President. When she’s not writing or recording audio books, she is speaking at retreats and conferences throughout the East Texas area.

She resides near Tyler, Texas. You can find her curled up on her back-porch swing reading a good book with her grandchildren, caretaking for two donkeys and a dog, or filling her five-acre country home with fifty-plus people for a Blue Bell ice cream party.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Promises, Promises by Marie Wells Coutu

Your story is a promise.

If you’re writing fiction, you’re making a promise to your reader that he or she will find entertainment, adventure, and perhaps inspiration in your novel. The reader expects to be transported to another time and place, where she’ll “meet” interesting characters.

If you write romance, she’ll want to fall in love with the hero.

If you write science fiction, your reader wants to discover new worlds.

Readers of historical fiction may expect to experience life in an earlier time period.

In addition, your tagline, your back-cover blurb, your cover, and your opening line all contribute to your promise. Each one helps to set expectations, create a mood, and entice the reader.

What happens if you fail to fulfill your promises? If the tagline hints at romance, but the hero doesn’t show up until midway through the story, the reader is likely to be disappointed. If the cover appears to show adventure but the story is a slow, relaxing tale set in an Amish community, there will be a disconnect—and the reader is likely to throw the book across the room.

How can you be sure you’re fulfilling the expectations of your readers?

1. Be clear in your own mind what your story is about.

2. Know what genre best fits the story. To be sure, brainstorm what your plot might look like if you wrote it in a different genre. For instance, does your romantic suspense plot work better as a fantasy instead? Or as a military thriller? If the answer is “no” to all the other genres, you’ve got the right one.

3. Be familiar with the primary conventions of your genre. You don’t need to shoehorn your story into a formula, but if you’re writing a romance, your readers expect a HEA (Happily Ever After), so you need to give them that kind of ending.

4. Determine your primary Story Question, write it down, and post it where you’ll see it when you’re writing each scene. Then pay attention to whether the scene contributes to answering that question.

If you take these steps, chances are good you’ll fulfill the expectations of your readers. Live up to the promises you make with each story and your readers will likely come back for more.

Your story promises entertainment, adventure, & perhaps inspiration. 4 tips to fulfill your #promise. #amwriting #writingtips @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.

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

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Best Chocolate Comes From Côte d'Ivoire by Peter Leavell

We want more from ourselves.

I mash the remote to watch someone make chocolate cake with chocolate chunks, chocolate frosting, and chocolate candles.

I’m on the couch and reach for the Peanut M&Ms on the coffee table. I drop the remote. Argh. I lean over and pick it up and set it on the armrest. Thankfully, I didn’t have to drop the raised footrest.

I refocus on the food connoisseur, who is taking the time to choose chocolate either from Ecuador or Côte d'Ivoire. I admire the stock snapshots. The cook makes his decision.

When it comes to flour, Europe is worried about Brexit, so their grain may be stressed. Russia is currently outproducing the U.S. in grain exportation, but the cold war is heating up again, so best not buy Russian flour. U.S. flour is the staple, but the chef is feeling like a change. He goes with flour made from Canadian wheat. We’ll see.

He never changes where he procures the eggs. The Buff Orpington chicken gets moody during the summer and longs for human connections, so the farmers bathe, massage, and council every chicken in hopes it lays the highest quality eggs. The hens have a great 401k, four weeks paid vacation, and double chicken-feed-and-a-half for two eggs.

Non-GMO, pesticide free, classical music playing during harvest of rapeseed produces the highest quality canola oil.

Mixed together and lovingly poured in a handmade Chinese stoneware dish, he bakes it in an equally handmade kiln to evenly heat.

There’s an admiration party at the end, when they light the chocolate candle which turns out to be ten-minute-long fireworks show.

I admire the cook’s dedication. The unrelenting focus on perfection and quality. If I was a chef, I would give it that much effort.

But no. I’m a writer.

I slog through another draft. I ignore a section that could be heightened with more research. I don’t rewrite the section that needs it. And the first page is fine as it is.

Meanwhile, somewhere, a mediocre chef turns on the TV and watches a show about the time it takes to write a book, admiring the effort of the author who recreates scenes at locations to get everything right, and rewrites three drafts, and the chef thinks if she were a writer, she’d put that much effort in.

Writers, here’s your permission. Go all in with your writing. You already admire the people who are obsessed. That admiration means it is inside you.

You admire greatness. That means you have greatness waiting inside of you!

Now, go be fanatical.

Cooks can be fanatics, writers can too! Click to tweet it! @peterleavell #writerslife #motivation #seriouslywrite

The Best Chocolate Comes From the Ivory Coast! Click to tweet it! @peterleavell #writerslife #motivation #seriouslywrite

You admire greatness. That means you have greatness waiting inside of you! Click to tweet it! @peterleavell #writerslife #motivation #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, August 9, 2019

Keep Your Dream by Pat Jeanne Davis

Pat Jeanne Davis
How do you deal with challenges that can feel overwhelming and sometimes even threaten to destroy your dreams? Author Pat Jeanne Davis shares seven important tips that will inspire you to not give up! 
 ~ Dawn

Keep Your Dream

What I’ve learned while on the path to publication?

All aspects of my life are to be placed before a loving Heavenly Father who holds me and His promises are sure. He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I remind myself that I’m a work in progress. This writing experience is also part of my walk of faith and that, too, requires patience, perseverance and prayer. That with God’s help and guidance it’s never too late to follow your dream.

Do you, too, yearn to obtain a heartfelt goal? Do you cherish a life-long dream—one that you’re convinced God placed in your heart—that seems impossible?

Be Patient

If that dream is to be an author, the journey toward publication may take a long time. I know firsthand the disappointment when a positive answer you hoped to get on your work is not the one you receive. When the goal you’ve set for yourself seem unobtainable. Remember our chief goal is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We’re in sync with God’s perfect timing when we ask Him to direct our path.

Be Persistent

I’ve been listening to a book on Louis Pasteur, a believing scientist and the founder of modern medicine. He never gave up in his quest to discover what caused food and wine to spoil. If he had, we would not be benefiting from his discovery of what has come to be called pasteurization. How many lives have been spared and other lives made more bearable through the dogged persistence of scientists and inventors? Is there an author whose words have impacted your life? As a writer, your words can broaden your reader’s horizons, or they may touch your reader’s heart and mind and greatly impact their life for good.

Be Purposeful

In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine, Abby, speaks with a stammer. She loves children and dreams of becoming a teacher. She does exercises to overcome her speech impediment and attends college to receive the instruction necessary to qualify as a teacher. Whether we want to be a scientist, a teacher or a writer, we need training. A new writer must learn the craft through taking courses, studying the work of other writers, attending conferences, getting feedback from writing contests, having her work critiqued and through critiquing the work of others. While waiting for “the call” from an agent or editor, work on another novel, or write an article or short stories.

Be Prepared

When an opportunity to submit your writing comes your way, be ready. And be prepared to face rejection of your work and not become discouraged and continue to submit elsewhere. I’ve come to appreciate even more the wisdom in not having high expectations but to keep the feeling of anticipation nonetheless.

Be Participating

Work with an editor and take direction when given. You may cringe when told to rework a paragraph or get rid of a sentence or scene. Your editor is only helping your work to shine and you to become a better writer. I’m thankful for the numerous critiques from editors and other writers. Wherever possible try to reciprocate.

Be Praying

When your dreams are yet unrealized and you’re tempted to despair, pray for patient perseverance while you wait on His perfect timing. Share you dream with close family and friends and let them cheer you on. In my novel, Abby confides in her beloved Uncle Will when she begins to doubt. He reassures her, “You’ll make a fine teacher. Remember that determination is half the battle.” He patted her hand. “The other half is jolly hard work.”

Be Praising

We should praise Him for His unfailing promises. When we believe in God, we have the certainty that what He has promised is true, has occurred, and will happen in accordance with His Word. We also can praise God for His plan, purpose, protection, power and His peace.

My prayer is that after you have done all that is required to achieve your dream, you may experience a renewed perspective and that you keep anticipation alive.

Do you cherish a life-long dream—one that you’re convinced God placed in your heart—that seems impossible? #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters

When Valleys Bloom Again
When Valleys Bloom Again

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?

PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in mid-twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter here

Connect with Pat and learn more here:




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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Let’s Get Real by Patti Jo Moore

When I think about books I’ve enjoyed reading, and think about why I enjoyed those stories so much, it’s usually because I became totally absorbed in the lives of the characters. A particular character became real to me, and for a while, I lived that character’s life. As an author, I strive to make my characters real to my readers—with flawed lives in a world that’s far from perfect. I’ll admit I do usually have a lovely heroine and a handsome hero, but they aren’t perfect by any means.

Sometimes when I’m in the midst of writing, I focus on a particular aspect, but later realize other details need to be changed. For example, I struggle with having enough conflict in my writing, so I might be completely focused on making sure my story has adequate conflict. But when I re-read the sections I’ve written, I may find that the scenery, weather, etc. is always “too perfect” and not realistic. Is the sun always shining? Is a fictional town totally clean and safe, with no worries about crime? (Wouldn’t that be wonderful in real life!)

Another consideration are children and/or pets in the story. As we all know, both children and pets can be quite unpredictable, so unless it’s a brief scene where the little ones (with or without fur) only make a quick appearance and their behavior doesn’t impact the story, take this into consideration. Especially if you have children who play a major role in your story, remember there likely could be crying, pouting, or tantrums involved. I’ve heard that some authors tend to shy away from writing stories with children, but I love to include little ones in my stories when applicable—especially since I have fond memories from my own children’s lives and my kindergarten teaching days.

If your character is baking a cake in a scene, maybe s/he suddenly realizes a trip to the grocery story will be necessary because there are no more eggs in the refrigerator. Does your character see someone interesting while on the errand? For characters who drink coffee or tea, maybe the drink spills and causes a mess. That not only creates frustration for your character, but depending on where the drink landed, it could even add to your story (maybe the character had been perusing important papers when her coffee spilled on them). Your character’s health is another aspect to think about. Does your character ever have a headache? Have to miss a special event due to sickness? These details can make your characters more believable to readers.

These are only a few examples to remember when we want our stories to seem realistic. Unless you’re writing fantasy, of course. 😉 For those of us writing contemporary or historical fiction, we want our readers to really imagine themselves in the shoes of our character, and for a little while, to live our character’s life.

Happy writing, my friends! 😊

Sadie's Dream

In a coastal Georgia town in 1900, a young woman prepares to serve as a missionary in Africa.
After being jilted the previous year, she's certain she's meant to remain single.
When she meets a handsome businessman from Savannah, she begins struggling with doubts.
Over time she learns that the Lord's plans are best, and dreams really can come true.


Patti Jo Moore is a lifelong Georgia girl who loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee. A former kindergarten teacher, Patti Jo writes “Sweet, Southern Stories” that always have a happy ending. Her Emerald Coast Romances series is published by Forget-Me-Not Romance and all three books are available on Amazon. Patti Jo is excited about her first historical romance to be released soon. Sadie’s Dream, also published by Forget-Me-Not, will be available on Amazon. You can find her on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore, and also at her CatMom’s Corner blog.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Ink We Use by Joanna Davidson Politano

I had my little brother take my author picture. He did a fabulous job, but I cringed at several of the shots. I looked uncomfortable and fake at the beginning, until he had me smiling and laughing, forgetting he was capturing the moment on (digital) film. Self-forgetfulness feels most comfortable to me, and so does listening to someone’s story rather than sharing my own.

Yet that’s what we’re doing, aren’t we? Sure, our novels are led by a made-up hero, but they’re living out our internal battles, seeking answers to our questions, achieving things we dream about. Sometimes I forget that, in my desire toward self-forgetfulness. It’s easier to teach or comfort or guide our readers, rather than peel back that perfect author shot image and reveal our own heartaches and shame beneath—the everyday sin problems and lack of makeup. It’s easier to talk at people rather than discover for ourselves, and bleed vulnerably on the page for others to see our reality.

But if you want your writing to really grab people, to mean something to them, it has to mean something to you, first. It has to cost you something to create.

We all have wounds—we cannot exist in this world without sustaining at least a few—and that is the ink we need to use to write our novels. It hurts though, doesn’t it? Poking at those wounds that are still trying to scar over, reexamining the ugliness, facing what we’d rather forget—none of that sounds fun, especially if we’re planning on making it public by publishing the result, but I cannot begin to express to you the value of writing this way. Why? Because God can use that.

I’ll tell you something from hard-earned experience. Quit trying to be impressive in your writing, your research, your pithy word choices. Don’t show off your strengths, but humbly express your scars and those raw places you’d rather not show the world. Let them come alive in your story so that Jesus, the glorious one who’s begun healing those scars, can shine through. Writing friends, God cannot shine through your armor—only through the cracks. Don’t be afraid to create stories around them and in showing your weakness, let God display His strength.

God cannot shine through your armor—only through the cracks. via @politano_joanna #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Joanna Davidson Politano writes historical novels of mystery and romance, including her debut Lady Jayne Disappears. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and you can find her at