Friday, August 30, 2019

When the Path Ahead Seems Daunting by Sally Bayless

Sally Bayless
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other authors who seem to be more successful than we are in our writing careers. If you’re struggling with feeling like a failure, you’ll be much encouraged by today’s post. Welcome, Sally Bayless! ~ Dawn

When the Path Ahead Seems Daunting

The other day someone asked about my job.

I said I was an author.

“Are you successful?”

I wasn’t sure what to say.

I’m not the best-selling author of Christian romance in the world.

Or the U.S.

Or even my home state of Ohio.

The view, from where I stand on the path toward being what the world considers a successful author sometimes seems…daunting, to say the least.

If I measure myself against authors who write faster and better and market with more skill—I’m not a success. I’m a failure. If I measure myself against goals I’ve strived for and not attained—again, I’m a failure. And if dwell on those thoughts too long, I start thinking that perhaps I’d be happier in some other job where I was compared only to the people in one small office, not to every other writer in my genre in the whole world.

That’s when I usually eat some chocolate. Then I remember to look back—and up.

First, I look back and remember times like my early adventures with formatting.

I’m an independent author. In 2015 when I put out my first book, a Christmas novella, I decided to format the e-book myself. I could have paid a service to do this, but I knew, having worked in a publishing house back in the 1990s, that updates would be needed after publication. Self-sufficiency would be simpler.

If I remember correctly, it would have cost $50 to have that novella formatted into an e-book. Doing it myself took three weeks.

Three. Weeks.

Not three weeks of an hour here and there. Three weeks of solid, eight-hour days, doing nothing else.

I tried using Word. I tried using Scrivener. I tried coding the entire book in HTML. And I had every issue under the sun. Once, I thought I had it right, then I found that when I looked at the ebook in the Bookerly font on my Kindle, after every capital C or capital K, there was a tab space. Not what you want when you’re writing a book set at C  hristmastime and the hero’s name is K  yle.

I know people successfully and easily formatted ebooks using Word, Scrivener, and HTML back in 2015. I wasn’t one of them.

But I hung in there—and eventually someone suggested a program called Jutoh. Within a couple of hours, I created an ebook that functioned just the way it was supposed to.

Success! At long last.

Thank goodness everything hasn’t been such a challenge!

Still, sometimes it’s good to look back and see how much we’ve learned and how far we’ve come.

After I look back, I look up, toward heaven. I think about God and the bigger reason that I’m on this path. Sales, great reviews, all of that’s nice, but not the most important thing.

In the end, if my writing gives one person encouragement in their faith journey or helps one person see that they need God in their life, that’s what matters.

So now—before anyone puts you on the spot and asks if you’re a success—look back and find your moments of accomplishment. Look up and remember the victories that really matter. Hold those thoughts in your heart.

Then if someone asks if you’re a success—even if you just got a scathing review or your August sales numbers weren’t what you’d hoped or your publishing house didn’t like your latest proposal—think about those thoughts stored in your heart. And remember, too, that your mother probably told you never to talk about things like money and your own success.

The answer I wish I’d had at the tip of my tongue the other day?

“I have the best job I could imagine—I’m learning and creating and touching people’s lives. I love being an author.”

Sales, great reviews, all of that’s nice, but not the most important thing.
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @sally_bayless

I have the best job I could imagine—I’m learning and creating and touching people’s lives. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @sally_bayless

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie
Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie

When a woman who’s keeping secrets falls for a journalist who’s digging for the truth, does the attraction between them stand a chance?

Cara Smith has a whole new life planned—a new name, a new look, and a new hometown in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past.

Will Hamlin, editor of the local paper, can’t help but wonder about the mayor’s new secretary. She’s clearly hiding something—something that could be the big story the newspaper desperately needs to stay afloat. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses.

When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love?

Sally Bayless writes contemporary Christian romance that features compelling characters, small-town charm, and heartwarming endings. She lives in the beautiful hills of Appalachian Ohio, and when not working on her next book, she enjoys shopping for cute shoes, kayaking in a nearby state park, doing Bible studies, and watching BBC television with her husband. She has two grown children. For updates on her writing and a free insider’s guide to her books, sign up for her newsletter by visiting

Connect and learn more about Sally’s books by visiting these online sites:

Website and newsletter signup





Thursday, August 29, 2019

Do You Remember Your First Story Idea by Terri Weldon

Hey, folks, I'm sick and unable to come up with a new post. That said, I hope you'll enjoy reading an oldie that I consider to be a goodie. 

I still remember the idea for my first book. My creative mind had been soaking up every word of the contemporary Christian romances I had started reading. Then suddenly I devised a story idea. It was over the top, gut wrenching, and filled with angst. A daughter abandoned by her prostitute mother is determined to confront the woman she hates, the woman she blames for everything wrong in her life. When she lands on her mother’s door step, it’s too late. She learns her mother has died.

Time for total honesty here – I still like the storyline! At the time I wrote the book the plot was too difficult for me. The book needed a more experienced author. Trust me there was much more to the storyline than I told you above. 

I waited a few years. I even penned my first book, which resides in a drawer in an old filing cabinet. Then Love Inspired Romance advertised a contest. All I had to do was send in my completed manuscript, and if I won, I could become a published author. Oh, hope springs eternal. As fast as possible I penned the entire book and carted it down to my local post office. When the winner of the contest was announced, her name wasn’t Terri Weldon. 

Even after that I didn’t give up. I probably didn’t write as much as I should have and I let too much time elapse, but I didn’t throw in the towel. Even today I’m still plugging along. Sometimes I miss the young woman who wrote that novel with such confidence.  In my heart I knew I was destined to be published and I believed it would happen. And it did, but not for many many years and not with that book. 

Still, no matter how many new story ideas I come up with, I don’t think any of them will ever replace the excitement I felt when I devised the first one. 

What about you? What was your first story idea? I’d love to hear all about it. 

Ellie Alexander is in love. And the only thing sweeter would be if Libby, Natalie, and Stephanie, her three unmarried, unattached granddaughters, could find the same happiness. Maybe with a little help from her and her beau Blake Parker . . .

A Match Made in Williamstown by Lady of Love Inspired Romance Jean C. Gordon — Libby Schuyler has avoided dating since her break-up with college-sweetheart Jack Parker. Out of nowhere, Jack shows up claiming Ellie is swindling his grandfather, Blake, through a travel agency partnership they’ve formed. Libby and Jack team up to protect their grandparents and get to the bottom of Ellie and Blake’s business and romantic relationship. While Libby and Jack fight their reignited attraction, Ellie and Blake conspire to bring the two together.

A Match Made in Sheffield by Terri Weldon— Natalie Benton bounced from one foster home to another until she landed on Ellie Alexander’s doorstep. Natalie’s vagabond childhood caused her to yearn for a secure life, which led to Natalie’s five-year plan: complete her law degree, marry the perfect man, become a partner at Montgomery, Haynes, and Preston, and produce one child. Getting arrested wasn’t in Natalie’s plan. Needing a public defender wasn’t in her plan. Falling for Grady Hunter, her public defender, definitely wasn’t in her plan. Can Grady convince Natalie there is more to life than her five-year plan? Is Ellie the only one who sees a future for Natalie and Grady?

A Match Made in Freedom by Lisa Belcastro — Stephanie Gould loves life on Martha’s Vineyard . . . until she runs into Kay and Tim, her former business partner and her ex-fiancé, who just returned from their honeymoon. Surprised by the heartache she thought was gone, Stephanie heads to the Berkshires to visit family and friends. Arriving in Stockbridge, Stephanie meets Captain Henry Lewis. Little does Stephanie know, her grandmother has already met Henry, and Ellie thinks Henry is perfect. Stephanie has no interest in dating, Henry included. If only Henry didn’t turn up everywhere Stephanie goes. When he walks up beside her at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stephanie can’t deny her attraction, but she’ll do her best to fight it.

Buy Links

Amazon Kindle & Print: 
Nook, iBooks & Kobo:
Barnes & Noble Print:  

Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an author by night. She enjoys gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in Oklahoma. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. She is a member of ACFW and OCFW, a local chapter of ACFW. Terri is the award winning author of The Christmas Bride Wore Boots.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How to Persevere in Your Writing Journey by Christopher Wells

 As writers, we write for an audience. We want to be read by the masses. As Christian writers, another important reason we write is to influence others for the cause of Christ. In today’s challenging market, with so many books being published by so many authors, the goal of having our work read by a large audience can be a daunting one. The competition is fierce for every pair of eyes.

When you aren’t reaching as many people as you would like with your writing, or when your investment of time, effort, and money isn’t giving you the return you had hoped it would, you can end up being discouraged. It is in those times that you need to have the proper perspective if you are to persevere.
I’m reminded of the story of a young boy who went to listen to an itinerant preacher – a guy named Jesus. The boy had brought his lunch with him. It wasn’t a huge lunch, just five small loaves of bread and two fishes. But then he saw a need. There were thousands of people who had come just as he had – only they hadn’t brought any lunch for themselves, and they were hungry.

This young man overheard some of the adults talking. He heard this guy named Jesus say, “You give them something to eat,” to his followers. The followers looked at the huge crowd and were unsurprisingly astonished at Jesus’ request.

The little boy wasn’t sure if what he had to bring to the table would help all that much, but he wanted to do something. He looked down at the lunch he was about to start eating, and he looked around at the thousands of hungry people around him. And then he did something amazing. He could have simply thought, I’ll just turn to this woman sitting next to me and offer to share my lunch with her. At least that will be something. But that’s not what he thought. He thought something radically different. He thought to take his lunch and give it to Jesus. And that made all the difference. Jesus took that small offering, blessed it, and used it to feed over five thousand people.

At times on our writing journey, our influence may seem small, and the goal of being used to reach the masses with our writing may seem remote, if not downright impossible. Don’t underestimate God’s ability to take the five loaves and two fishes that we have to offer in the form of the words we have written and bless it to accomplish something amazing.

You have the ability to brighten someone’s day with your writing, to help guide them down the right path, and in the best of all possible cases, to be a part of the process that leads them to eternal life through Jesus Christ. It is a privilege and an honor.

Don’t despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).

Share your work.

Have faith.

Keep writing.

You have the ability to brighten someone’s day with your writing, to help guide them down the right path... #SeriouslyWrite #Faith #amwriting


C.L. Wells is an indie author who writes in a variety of genres including murder mystery, YA, and paranormal fiction. He is the founder of Creative Writing with a Mission – an organization committed to positive creative standards and supporting worthy causes that help make our world a better place. Murder at Rendsburg Resort – the first book in the new Jill Pemberton Mystery series – is available now for pre-order on The ebook version is scheduled for release on August 26, 2019 and is also available in paperback. To learn more about C.L.’s books or about Creative Writing with a Mission, visit

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Writerly Expectations—And How to Slay Those Dragons by Sondra Kraak

You’re in a dark, enchanted forest. Evening is falling, and you’ve no torch to light your path. Something warm blows across you neck, and behind you, a twig snaps. You spin to face…

Oh, never mind. It’s simply a deadline. Did you think it was a dragon?

Whether marketing, newsletter upkeep, or continuing craft studies, we are all buried beneath expectations that close in on us like mythical creatures in an enchanted forest. I can handle an expectation or two. But not three dozen. At the same time.

How to Slay the Dragons of Expectation

Identify the expectations and write them out.

My husband expects that I will not spend all my evenings writing. This doesn’t seem like a high-pressure expectation, but it affects me around deadlines when my own expectation is that I will be allowed to write ALL THE TIME.

My newsletter subscribers expect to hear from me. Obvious, right? This one pressures me greatly. I feel the need to keep up good communication with those who have made a commitment to be on my list.

I expect to sell books. Simple. But when sales aren’t great, I feel pressure to make them better. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Which leads me to expectations regarding marketing (trying Amazon ads, etc.).

A publisher expects marketing efforts, blogging, and social media action from its authors.

Bloggers expect guest posts.

Identify the source of those expectations.

Expectations come from numerous places. You, your publisher, agent, editor, readers, family, fellow authors, writing instructors and coaches. If the source is you, is there another source behind? Perhaps you’ve placed an expectation on yourself to blog once a week, but where did that originally come from? A book you read? Advice from an agent?

Identify the type of expectation.

Tangible: these could be on a job description and their success or failure can be measured easily. Did you succeed at blogging once a week?

Heart: these are desires and wishes and are felt more than accomplished. Maybe you did blog once a week, but no one is reading your blog so the heart expectation of connecting with readers isn’t being met.

Blind: these are expectations we don’t know we have—until we do some deep soul-searching. They are the hardest to identify.

Ask if these expectations are realistic or idealistic.

Is it realistic that I expect myself to write, edit, and publish one book a year? No. Not with my job, family needs, and my slow writing pace. But is it my expectation? Yes. In my heart. But it’s an idealistic one.

We often disappoint ourselves when we hold unrealistic expectations over ourselves, so spend time on this step truly discerning if an expectation is realistic or not.

Schedule your tangible expectations.

Put deadlines and events on the calendar, and if that’s on your phone, set reminders as well. Even a reminder to post to social media can be helpful if you’re one for whom that doesn’t come naturally.

Decide what expectations to hold on to and which to let go of, then take action.

Those expectations that need to be released? Write them down and throw the paper away. Do you need to confront anyone over unrealistic expectations they may have placed on you? Do you need to have a hard conversation with your agent? Looking ahead to future contracts, do you need to ask for different things?

Action is so important. All the thought work you put in will be for naught if you can’t follow through. So go tell a close friend about your expectation struggles and allow them to hold you accountable.

Are your writerly expectations morphing into dragons that need to be slayed? @SondraKraak @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #writerwisdom #SeriouslyWrite

Did these tips help you sort through the expectations you place on yourself and the expectations others place on you? I hope so! Anything to add? Let me know.

Connect with Sondra

Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and join her newsletter for a free short story and information about special devotional series.

Sondra's latest release - Four Dreams of You 

Unfulfilled dreams have left Grace Thomas vowing not to let her imagination roam wild again. Resigning herself to the realistic dream of owning a dress shop, she accepts a position as a housekeeper at Monaghan Lumber Camp in order to earn funds. The plan is simple, easy, and safe. But Torin Monaghan is not. The reclusive brother who seems indifferent to her presence is ironically the one stirring up her imagination once again.

Torin Monaghan will not be deterred from his passion to preserve the beauty of nature. Even if it appears as if he’s going against his family. Even if the quirky and wistful seamstress invading his space is proving a distraction. To his frustration, Grace Thomas is not easily dismissed, and neither are the ways she’s opening his eyes to a different sort of beauty.

When past threats bring new trouble to Pine Creek, Torin and Grace must become vulnerable—to each other and their community—and through risk, discover that reality is more fulfilling than their dreams.

Buy on Amazon

Monday, August 26, 2019

Where's My Pen? Where's My Paper?

A leisurely evening walk through the neighborhood provides great opportunity for story ideas. A trip to the local grocery store, sharing time with grandchildren, staring at the clouds, or pausing to rest and take an afternoon nap can cause story ideas to pop into my thoughts at any moment.

One valuable thing I have learned is to always have paper and pen with me or close by. My husband and I have shared funny experiences like me thinking a cracker wrapper was a snake in the pine straw. Another example is the time I accidentally left a dryer sheet in my husband’s work pants and he found it during a meeting at his office. My husband and our son made a youtube video about the situation. They created a cardbox box and called the device “Automated Dryer Control Sheet System”. Our family enjoys lots of laughter with daily activities. With these situations, I made sure pen and paper were ready so I could jot story ideas.

There have been so many times when something unexpected occurs and I think, “That would make a great story.” Yet, by the time I was able to find a pen and paper, the idea had fizzled out and I had trouble remembering what was so unique about the situation. Time to somehow keep track of these ideas.

Other people use their phones to keep notes. I am not one of those people. I prefer my ink pens and notepads to collect ideas that sprout in thoughts. Whatever the method, having something to keep those thoughts fresh and ready to use for a blog post, article, devotion, story or even just to share with family and friends is very important.

Today, I will keep my small notepad with me and be ready when those experiences make me say, “I want to write about that.”

Today, I will keep my small notepad with me and be ready when those experiences make me say, "I want to write about that." #seriouslywrite @mimionlife

Keep writing and comment below with your favorite way to keep track of ideas.

Thanks for reading.
Have a blessed day,
Melissa Henderson

Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages through fiction, non-fiction, devotions, guest blogs, articles and more. Her first children’s book, “Licky the Lizard” was released in 2018. Some of her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa and her husband Alan moved from Virginia to South Carolina in 2017 to be near son, daughter-in-love and first grandchild. The family motto is "It’s Always A Story With The Henderson".

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

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