Thursday, November 14, 2019

Be Kind To Others - - - And To Yourself 😊 By Patti Jo Moore

As Christian writers, we want to show kindness. This is done in countless ways—including encouraging other writers, sharing lessons we’ve learned in our own journey, posting great reviews for books we’ve enjoyed, and lifting up an author-friend who may have gotten a not-so-great book review.

If we’re published, we also want to be kind to our readers. This can also be done in countless ways—from corresponding with them via e-mail and blogs to giving away prizes to show our appreciation for readers.

But I was recently reminded of another way writers need to be kind, and that is to ourselves. I’ve battled a rotten cold for a full week—nothing major, but still feeling miserable. My worst day of this pesky cold was last Friday. I’d been home since Wednesday, not even venturing out to my mailbox. I was reminded of the fact I have a December first deadline, and had gotten behind (okay…waaay behind) on my word count. I had everything I needed—medicine, tissues, coffee, soup, and my kitties napping close by—and the sunshine was streaming in my window next to my desk. It was the perfect setting for me to dive in and let those words flow.

Except…I did not feel like doing a thing. Not one thing. Even my favorite hobbies of reading and needlepoint held no appeal. What was going on? I didn’t want to turn on the television (not even to the Hallmark channel!) and couldn’t think of anything at all I wanted to do. So guilt poked me with that annoying voice. You’re wasting this entire day. Since you’re not sleepy, you should be at least doing something! Remember all those words you still need to write before December?

And it hit me then—something I’ve often heard other writers say. We tend to be hard on ourselves. Sure, it’s great to push ourselves to write or do writing-related tasks even if we’re not feeling motivated. But when we are ill—even from nothing serious—our body still needs rest. And if that means simply gazing out your window and being thankful for the sunshine and Autumn leaves, then that’s okay. 😊 Even Jesus took time to rest.

So with the holidays fast approaching, if you should become sick (which I hope you won’t!) or even overwhelmed with the dozens of items on your To-Do list, please take some time and rest. Without feeling guilty. Then when you’re feeling better, you’ll be ready to tackle whatever has been waiting on you! Be kind to others—and to yourself.

And be ye kind one to another. Ephesians 4:32

Amazon Buy Link
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 retired kindergarten teacher and lifelong Georgia girl. She loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee, and is blessed to be published with Forget-Me-Not Romances. When she’s not spending time with her family (including her sweet grandbaby) or writing her “Sweet, Southern Stories” Patti Jo can be found feeding cats—her own six and local strays.

She loves connecting with readers and other writers, and can be found on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore or her personal blog at

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Never Give Up! By Elva Cobb Martin

Have you ever thought of giving up on getting your book finished and published? Well, I want to encourage you. Never give up that dream. God is in the business of helping you finish what He has begun in your heart, according to Philippians 1:7 “Being confident of this very thing that he which has begun a good work in your will perform it...”

I wrote my first novel, Summer of Deception, after attending a writers' conference. Once I started submitting it to publishers and agents, it was rejected 26 times. But I kept revising and rewriting. Meantime, my husband and I were called into full-time ministry, and the manuscript went into my attic for the next 20 years. End of story. Right? 

Nope. Summer of Deception, an inspirational romantic suspense, was contracted and published in 2017, thirty years after that first draft. It has spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers’ List for Women’s Religious Fiction. A prequel, In a Pirate’s Debt, the story of the pirate ancestor of the hero in Summer, soon followed. November 12, Marisol, a heroine who would not give up, was released.

My Five Steps to a Book Contract

Step 1 – Keep God’s Confidence in Yourself and Never Give Up
Many may reject your manuscript, but someone will love it, if you don’t give up.

Step 2 – Hone Your Craft (Planning Your Novel blog series
Carve out praying time, writing time, sharpening craft time, and reading time in your genre.

Step 3 – Find Writing Workshops and Critique Groups
How about your local American Christian Fiction Writers’ Chapter?

Step 4 – Help Other Writers
This is a spiritual principle. You will reap help you need when you sow into others.

Step 5 – Learn how to Submit to Editors and Agents
 Follow their submission guidelines.

Can you add to my list? What helped you not give up?

Never give up that dream. via @ElvaCobbMartin #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Elva Cobb Martin,  a mother and grandmother, lives in South Carolina with her husband and a senior mini-dachshund named Lucy, and a sea green bird named Atticus. She is the upcoming president of her state chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, a retired teacher, minister, and now calls herself a full-time writer. Better make that rewriter. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. She desires to share exciting love stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sticks and Stones by Marie Wells Coutu

Words have power.

The familiar children’s adage proclaims, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

But that is a lie. No doubt the saying has been used by well-meaning mothers and teachers to make children feel better about being taunted and teased, but the truth is that words can hurt.

As writers, we know they can also soothe and heal.

We make friends by sharing our thoughts and feelings and lives—especially through our words. That’s also how we touch readers—by inviting them into stories where they can share in the thoughts, feelings, and lives of our characters.

Words have substance and shape. They have identifiable characteristics. They represent order.

Words can glorify God and make Him visible. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:1, 14, NIV)

Jesus came into the world and made the Word visible. His physical body provided us a way to see and relate to God. It’s much easier to communicate with God through the man Jesus than if we only knew Him as Spirit. Similarly, we can converse with one who is the Word more easily than if He were only “thoughts.”

In God’s Word, the Bible, we learn about His plan for humanity, His eternal truths, and the laws He provided for our benefit. These laws form the basis for all of civilized society. In giving us His Word, God showed us every aspect of His love. He wrote this love letter to us with the blood of His only Son.

When we write stories based on God’s love letter, our words can heal and restore wounded hearts and broken spirits.

God our Maker signs each life with His unseen mark just as a potter puts his signature on the bottom of a vase or an author signs her book. By inscribing His name on us, He has given us a sign of His love. In our writing, we can reveal His imprint on our lives, and we can help our readers discover His mark on their lives.

Through our stories, God can turn harmful lies into truths that heal.

When we #write stories based on God’s love letter, our words can heal & restore wounded hearts & broken spirits. @mwcoutu on #WritingChristianFiction #whywewrite #amwriting @MaryAFelkins

“Sticks & stones may break my bones, but #words will never harm me” is a lie. @mwcoutu on #writing truth for #SeriouslyWrite @MaryAFelkins

Through our stories, readers can see God’s imprint on our lives & discover His mark on theirs. @mwcoutu on #WhyWeWrite #ChristianFiction on #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting @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.

She is currently working on historical romance novels set in the 1930s. One manuscript won the 2019 Touched by Love Contest and the 2019 Sheila Contest, and a second novel also won in the Sheila Contest.

Her published novels are women’s contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. The Secret Heart, her newest release, and Thirsting for More, the second book in the series, were finalists in several contests.

You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page and her website,,
Follow her on Twitter @mwcoutu or on Amazon.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Prepare to Define Yourself: Dueling Authors

This author is driving me insane. I disagree with him, and I’m calling him out.

You can read his post here. He says we’re content creators—filling in reading spaces such as social media, blogs, speeches, podcasts. We’re not novelists, we’re creating entertainment for the masses.

I don’t like this guy.

The problem is, the writer is me.

Content Creator

He claimed we’re content creators. A writer focuses on entertainment values, formulas, bottom lines that result in numbers—readers and dollars—to build a resume.

Writing is a business. To this end, the business must grow. The writing, then, is a product and the product must sell. The call to action for the content creator, in the end, is to keep reading more of the content creator’s work.

The Artist

When a writer thinks of self as an artist first, the perspective changes. From self-promotion to human condition, the artist breaks from formula and studies with obsessed purpose the written word to create beauty.

As a content creator, I examine my past and see a gold mine. How did I make my dreams coming true? How did I overcome obstacles? Flashing quick stories and antidotes here and there makes for interesting reading. And it makes me look awesome.

Creating an artistic work resounds more deeply in people’s lives.

For example, I’ve seen my writing life in three stages, and they’re reflected in my western series.

Book One: West for the Black Hills. Philip Anderson wants to remain anonymous but is forced to step into the public eye to defend those he loves. In my life, I won $20,000 and a publishing contract. I can no longer sit on the couch and do whatever I wanted. I am an award-winning author, and I must act like one.

Book Two: Shadow of Devil’s Tower. Philip Anderson must take the next step in his life and become a leader in order to rescue the people he loves. In my life, it wasn’t enough just to write. I had to step up and lead.

Book Three: IN PROCESS. Philip Anderson will have to face his past, the past of others, and deal with injustice. No longer simply to lead, he must effect change in the world. While this book is still being written, it reflects my final stage from being a 100% introvert to comfortably standing in front of many and leading through example and direction.

Be the artist you were meant to be. Take the moments you are creating content and spend some time reflecting. Write deeply reflecting the human condition.

Be funny. Be deep. Be ironic. Be clever. Be bold. Be an artist.

Be funny. Be deep. Be ironic. Be clever. Be bold. How to be an artistic writer. #seriouslywrite #writerslife @petereleavell

prepare to Define Yourself: Dueling Authors. Content versus artistry. #seriouslywrite #writerslife @peterleavell

How to use your life to become art. #seriouslywrite #writerslife @peterleavell

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, November 8, 2019

Why I Chose the Long Road to Publication by Karin Beery

Karin Beery
Do you want a writing career? Do you want something in print to share with family and friends? Your goals will determine the steps you take. Author Karin Beery shares her personal decisions and why she made them. ~ Dawn

Why I Chose the Long 
Road to Publication

“I love writing books! It’s so much fun, and really easy to do.” (unnamed writer)

The ease of publishing all depends on what you want to achieve as an author. There are writers who simply want to get published. They don’t necessarily care about industry trends, genre rules, book sales, or reviews. They have stories to tell, and they want to make them available to everyone. There’s nothing wrong with that. It works for a lot of people.

I, however, have different goals.

I want to write as many books for as long as possible and sell them to as many people as are willing to buy them. I want to share my advice with other writers and help them do the same. In a perfect world, I’d like book publishing—specifically fiction publishing, including writing and editing—to be my full-time job. More than a hobby, I’d like to actually get paid to spend my life writing, reading, editing, reviewing, marketing, and publishing novels.

Most of the time it’s fun, but (like any job) it’s also a lot of work. I often hear new writers talking about self-publishing because they’ve spent 1-2 years writing and pitching a book that’s getting rejections. 1-2 years.

I wonder if those writers have any idea how long doctors and lawyers go to school before they’re allowed to do their jobs.

I wrote my first novel in 2007. My second in 2008 (and 2009 and 2010—it went through several revisions). Then I had to stop for a while because I couldn’t handle any more rejections, but I knew what I wanted (full-time fiction work!), so I got back to it. While I worked on another novel, I wrote for the local newspapers and learned to write marketing content (I needed something to pay the bills).

In 2014, with my third novel, I finally landed an agent! He submitted my manuscript everywhere, and I received some of the nicest rejections ever. It took four more years (three weeks before my 40th birthday) before I signed it—my first book contract. It took 11 years and three manuscripts to make it happen, but it did.

Last month, I celebrated the release of my second novel, Practically Married. I’ve also edited five published novels, teach writing and editing at conferences and online, and even work for a small publishing house.

I could have taken a different route and published a book a decade ago, but that wouldn’t have helped me achieve the publishing goals I’d set for myself. It’s been hard (and not always fun!), but this path put me exactly where I wanted to be, even if the timing wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I decided to take the long road, and I’m glad I did.

The ease of publishing all depends on what you want to achieve as an author. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @karinbeery
I decided to take the long road, and I’m glad I did. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @karinbeery

Practically Married
Practically Married

Ashley moves to a new town to marry her fiancé. Instead, she buries him.

Ashley Johnson moves to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrives in time to go to his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farmhouse. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’s problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend.

Karin Beery grew up in a rural Michigan town, where she wrote her first novel in high school. Today, she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s reading, editing, or teaching it. In her free time, she enjoys watching University of Michigan football and action-adventure movies with her husband and fur babies.

Connect with Karin and learn more at these online sites:

Facebook Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

You Need A Goal by Sally Shupe

How is it November already? It seems like just yesterday I was sitting down, planning out my goals for this year, and very excited for the year ahead. And now I find the year is almost winding down. How did your year go? Did you meet the goals you set forth in January? Did you find goals that didn’t work and then set new goals?

I had a planner that I started using in January. I set goals regarding how many words to write in a week, brainstorm blog post ideas, find places to blog, come up with new story ideas, research agents, read a writing book a month, enter contests, participate in NaNoWriMo. Sounds very productive! After thumbing through the planner, I now realize I’d only written out how to meet these goals through February. My new goal is to be consistent!

Since this is the month of thanksgiving, I wanted to be intentional and thankful for what I’ve accomplished this year. One of my goals was met when I started blogging here monthly. Thank you for allowing me to do so! I also entered a contest and got feedback. Another goal I’d set, not related to writing, I’ve met each month as well. Then, my flashdrive broke and I had to set a new, fast goal. Recover my stories that were on there! I had sent some of the stories out to friends to read and so found several of them. The story I was working on I was able to get an earlier version of it, so another new goal is to work on it and bring it back to where it was. But at least I found a copy of it! If your story is only in one place, go right now and save it somewhere else as backup.

But the work doesn’t stop at writing out your goals. You can’t start a project and never finish it. Well, you can. But then you’ll have a hole in the floor, or the wiring showing in the walls, or a sink that overflows. By a dog named George. No, not really, but you get my point. (I wrote about the house-flooding dog in my previous post.) Anyway, you get the picture. Setting goals is for the purpose of completing them. If a goal ends up not working, you can change the goal as situations and circumstances change, but you have to have goals. Goals keep what you want to accomplish right front and center. Zig Ziglar said if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. That is so true with writing. Goals keep us writing when everything else comes at us and wants us to quit.

If you’ve met your goals so far, great job! You’ve made it this far, only two more months to go. You can do it! If you haven’t, you’ve got two months to uncover those goals, dust them off, and work on them. Consider what’s kept you from meeting those goals. Something beyond your control? Don’t fret about those. The ones you have control over, go after them! If you find a goal that won’t work, change it to something that will. But have a goal. This year still has two months left to make your goals a reality. You can do it!

If you need a critique partner, someone to share your writing accomplishments or struggles with, a writing partner, an encourager, a NaNoWriMo buddy, contact me. Send me an email or contact me on social media. I’m on NaNoWriMo as sallyshupe. Writing can be lonely, as it’s just you and a piece of paper, or a screen, or talking into Dragon Naturally Speaking software, but it doesn’t have to be. Reach out to others. We’ve all got different gifts and abilities, and we’re all on this road together.

Now go forth and write. You’ve got two months. Unless you’re doing NaNoWriMo. That gives you like four months in one, right?

Sally Shupe lives in southwest Virginia with her husband, two grown kids, 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 others 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 (now closed); 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 ACFW Virginia; and loves genealogy, running, and crocheting.

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Our Ways versus The Lord’s Ways by Cindy Williams

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11

"The End." We write those sweet words at the end of our story and breathe a sigh of relief… maybe post it online or celebrate with friends. We’ve plunged our characters into danger, immersed them in intrigue, struck them with love. They’ve been driven with purpose, fixed on their goals.

But what if you get to the end and realise that all their plans, all the things they were so concerned about, all the situations that drove them to achieve or fight or flee were not what the story was about at all!

This is the case with my new book, The Silk Merchant of Sychar. It is based on the John 4 account of the Samaritan woman at the well: a woman who had had five husbands and was currently with a man not her husband.

In the culture of her time marriage and children brought honor and security. Yet this woman had married and lost one man after another – five times! Imagine what thoughts occupied her mind. When she went out to the well, was she thinking of Jesus? Was she planning to do something great to please God? I don’t think so. She was coping with life in all its messiness.

Yet God used this woman as one of the first evangelists for Jesus. She was so excited after speaking to this Jewish man that had told her ‘everything she ever did’ that she rushed back to town to tell everyone. As a result, the town leaders invited Jesus to stay – a radical move as there was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans. He taught them for two days and many believed.

The Lord works the same way in our life. We may be trying to live a life pleasing to God or simply trying to get through the day. We may be doing the things we think He wants us to do and writing the words we feel called to write. Yet when the Author of Life planned and created us perhaps He wove in a few fine golden threads that He uses to His glory without us even trying, or maybe even knowing.

The Lord knows the plans he has for us and when we finally get to meet him we may be amazed at what seemingly insignificant events in our life bring a smile to his face and the words to his lips: "Well done good and faithful servant."

"...when the Author of Life planned and created us perhaps He wove in a few fine golden threads that He uses to His glory..." #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Cindy Williams is an Australian author. For over twenty years she spoke and wrote about

healthy eating. Now she writes a more varied diet – of history, health, food and faraway places.

Exercise is her stress relief. Prayer is her sanity. Coffee and croissants are her downfall.

She writes stories of flawed women who battle injustice, and sometimes find romance.

She reviews for the Historical Novel Society, blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers, and teaches scripture in schools.

Her first novel, The Pounamu Prophecy, was short listed for the 2016 Caleb Prize.

One woman, five husbands and a weary rabbi at the well who
knows everything she ever did.

The day after they bury her husband Leah Marcellus loses her
baby. A widow and childless, what man will want her now?
Her father arranges a second marriage – a profitable business
arrangement – sealed on Mount Gerizim, the holy mountain
where every true follower of Yahweh worships. But Leah’s heart
belongs to another. Her passion only brings trouble - jealousy,
murder and lies.

Leah’s skill at the loom and the secrets of dye – the woad, the
murex and madder – brings her renown among the Roman
women of wealth.

Yet death and betrayal soon steal her security. Leah is determined
to protect her family ... at any cost.

From the olive groves of Samaria to the bloodied sand of a
Roman stadium to the exquisite silks brought from the East,
The Silk Merchant of Sychar weaves colour into the biblical
account of the woman at the well.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

When Words Are Scarce by Emily Conrad

Blank Postcard

Writers write.

That’s the only qualification we have to meet to call ourselves writers: we must write.

It sounds easy, but writing is much more complicated than a two- or three-word sentence.

In order to write, we make space in our schedules and we take care of ourselves so we can have both the time and the energy. But, even when these variables are under control, we sometimes lack the spark of inspiration.

Even if we want to write, even if we sit down to write, words do not always appear on the page.

I would know. It’s November, and I’m still trying to wrap up a manuscript I started in February and hoped to finish before August. Entire weeks have gone by without my adding to the word total of the work in progress.

But after months of struggle, on October 27th, I wrote more than 4000 words. That’s more than double what I usually can write—on a good day. What’s more, this standout day is part of a larger streak, where I wrote 24,000 words in just over two weeks. That's an incredible run, considering the first 58,000 words took me about eight months.

So what happened?

God answered a prayer.

As a Christian writer, I’m concerned that my words would honor Him. When I pray about my writing, that tends to be the direction my petitions go.

Lord, whatever I write, may my words bring You glory.

I still want my words to bring God glory, but I've realized now pride laced that prayer. I had this underlying belief that I'd be able to write because of factors I could control. Difficult hours at (or avoiding) the keyboard proved me wrong.

I need God to provide words in the first place, and also for Him to shape those words in the way He desires to fulfill His purposes. So, about two weeks ago, I switched the focus of my prayer.

I prayed for God to give me words.

Ask, and you’ll receive. He's answered that prayer abundantly.

a blank open book

As I write this post, describing what happened, part of me feels like a disclaimer is necessary. This past year has brought some tough events, and it could be that I’ve made progress in healing. I’ve also been using some calming, inspiring routines, like burning a candle and listening to music.

And yet, as the words started to flow, I knew. I knew I’d just changed my prayers, and I knew that whatever tools God used to get me to this breakthrough, the resulting words are from Him.

Routines and moods and all the self-care in the world won’t result in words unless God provides them. God, the Master Creator, the Word become flesh, is the one who gives all good gifts, including any words we might be eager to give back to Him.

Writers write, but Christian writers never write alone.

As we pray for our writing, may we never neglect to acknowledge that we have nothing to dedicate to God that He doesn't give us first. May we humbly ask Him to provide inspiration and words and then ask that He would use those words when and how He sees fit.

Lord, creativity and inspiration come from You. I pray you would give me just the right words today for each project I approach, whether it's a novel, a blog post, or an interaction with a friend. Without You, I have nothing, so I pray you would provide all that I need to serve You. May all my words be pleasing to You and bring glory to Your name.


Writers write. It sounds easy, but writing is much more complicated than a two-word sentence. @emilyrconrad on defeating #writersblock as a #Christianwriter #seriouslywrite

God, the Master Creator, the Word become flesh, is the one who gives all good gifts, including any words we might be eager to give back to Him. @emilyrconrad on #writersblock and #writing #christianfiction for #seriouslywrite

Writers write, but Christian #writers never write alone. @emilyrconrad on #writersblock for #seriouslywrite #writetip

Photo credits
Blank postcard photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Typewriter photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash
Blank book photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

Graphics created on

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

The love of a lifetime, a quest for justice, and redemption that can only be found by faith.

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it.

Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake.

If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.

Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?

Barnes and Noble

Monday, November 4, 2019

Heavy Subject Matter, or Not? by Christa MacDonald

Christa MacDonald
I'm glad to welcome fellow Mountain Brook Ink author Christa MacDonald back to the blog today. She's here with a relatable post about how heavy we make our stories/characters/plots. Check it out. You may relate like I do! ~ Annette

I leave a lot of shorthand for myself when outlining an idea for a new book. Sometimes, I have trouble figuring out what on earth I meant when I wrote it, but this one is easy: “Deep dark past? Light or emotional? Figure this out!” I write contemporary Christian romance and one of the decisions I have to make early on is whether or not to get into the harder realities of modern life. Do I give the characters deep wounds, complicated families, heavy emotional burdens, or do I give them the regular “slings and arrows of fortune” that most of us face?

A few months ago I was helping my father deal with a health crisis. It involved a lot of doctor’s appointments and the stress that goes along with aiding any loved one dealing with illnesses. I reached out to a Christian fiction Facebook group I’m a member of and asked for book recommendations that were light and fun, nothing heavy. They responded with dozens, and I immediately started downloading a few since I desperately needed distraction in the waiting room. There’s something about waiting that chips away at my peace. I need to be distracted or I imagine the absolute worst-case scenario. Books with snappy dialogue, a good plot and relatable characters, but no serious stuff are a perfect distraction, a place to go and visit someone else’s reality. Some might call this “fluff,” but the books I like have depth and meaning aplenty, they just steer clear of the serious.

The stories I have written in the past have the serious stuff in good measure. In fact, I try not to shy away from it and instead find the balance between serious and light. It’s important to me as a person of faith that my books reflect the authentic lives of Christians and that definitely includes some heavy subjects. For me, there is nothing worse than reading a book where Christians are saintly, sinless individuals pitted against broadly drawn secular characters. They end up being cartoonish, I can’t connect to them. When I write, I try to be as real as possible, even when I’m not being serious so readers can feel like they are right there with the characters, experiencing the story with them.

For this new work, I’m writing the kind of book I love to read, one that some other daughter of a stoic dad who never complains and works too hard can read while she waits to see if he’s going to be okay. (My dad is, by the way, and God is good.) In this new project I’m hoping to draw the reader into a small town on the coast of Massachusetts and into the lives of Emma and Finn, the former town princess and the handyman. There will be conflict, sparks, and possibly some swooning. It’s going to be so much fun!

How about you? When you’re reading Christian fiction, do you want to dive into the deeper, edgier topics, or would you rather find something light in order to escape life’s hardships?

Readers of fiction: do you want to see heavy topics in the books you read, or not? @CricketMacD

Writers of fiction: do you want to write about heavy topics, or not? @CricketMacD


The Redemption Road
It’s redemption that he needs, and she’ll pay any price to help him find it.

As the new game warden in Sweet River, Alex Moretti is focused on enforcing Maine’s wildlife laws and little else. Moving from tragedy to a fresh start, all he wants is a way to fix his life in the tranquility of the north woods. Until he meets Annie Caldwell at Coffee by the Book. But his own bitter, dark life is a threat to Annie’s sweetness and light. It’s better for him to stay away.

Annie doesn’t know how to label her relationship with Alex, but she is determined to figure it out. After a few false starts and a kiss under the Christmas lights, their romance goes from fiction to fact. Annie has fallen hard. Then trouble shows up. Someone is stalking Alex, seeking to punish him for a mistake which ended in deadly consequences. When Annie becomes a target, he tries to push her away, but she won’t abandon him. Alex is desperate to keep Annie safe while he attempts to reconcile the past, but what he really needs is redemption. And she will risk her life to help him find it.


Christa MacDonald began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. While at Gordon College she traded the sketchbooks for floppy discs, publishing short personal narratives in the literary journal The Idiom. After graduation and traveling cross-country she settled down to focus first on her career in operations management and then her growing family. When her children reached grade school Christa returned to her love of writing, finding the time between conference calls, dance lessons, and baseball games. This November Mountain Brook Ink will be publishing her first novel, The Broken Trail. When not at her desk working or writing, Christa can be found curled up in her favorite chair reading, out and about with her husband and kids, or in the garden. She lives with her family along the coast of Massachusetts in the converted barn they share with a dog and two formerly-feral cats.

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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Breaking Has a Purpose by Melinda V. Inman

Melinda V. Inman

The Breaking Has a Purpose

Every single one of us is broken. First, as members of Adam’s race, we are all broken by sin. Our sins and resultant weaknesses leak out of us daily, even after our salvation, causing consternation, harm, and the necessity of repentance, apologies, and amends. Daily, we sin in thought, word, and/or deed.

Simultaneously, as we move through life, our bodies deteriorate. The march of time causes them to gradually wear down, stretching us thin, taking us closer and closer to heaven, step by step. This, we must yield to God, recognizing that we are not in control of the outcome.

On top of that, we live in a fallen world. Everyone around us and every single human institution is also broken, moving toward decay and decadence. A look at our crumbling society makes this obvious. Brokenness permeates everything, regardless of our efforts.

These circumstances all combine, causing our edges to feel ragged, our emotions fragile, and our sense of self broken. We’re at wit’s end. We’re uncertain what to do. We feel undone.

Jesus was even more aware of this brokenness than we are, and so he came to earth as a human being—fully God and yet fully man simultaneously. As such, he took on the weight of our sins, paying for our redemption with his own blood. He offered salvation to all who would believe in him. That’s the Gospel, the Good News.

Part of that Good News is that no matter the condition of our human frame, our tumultuous emotions, or our current shattered and falling apart circumstances, God can and will use that situation for his purposes. For those who love him, he orchestrates even the breaking for our good.

Photo of trees with the Bible verse from Romans 8:28

He has given us the task of telling others, of writing about the reality of these broken places. This is why we write. This is the place where every one of our readers live. They need the Good News. Our words proclaim the truth that we all need to hear. We write for the Savior.

If we’re humble, if we’re transparent, if we’re yielded tools in his hands, he will use our words to open eyes and hearts and lives to the work of his Spirit, bringing men and women to Christ. To reach people where they most need his care, we must write about the breaking. That is its purpose.

After being nearly completely beat down and destroyed, Paul phrased it thus: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-6 ESV).

There we have it. These are our marching orders. Will we write about the breaking, so we can comfort others where they are? When sufferings are abundant, will we share about God’s abundant comfort, helping our readers to patiently endure?

Will we personally write from a place of honesty and transparency, so others can know that they are not alone, that they, too, can turn to Christ?

In our fiction, will we write characters who are real and broken? Will we fill our fiction with people who may not come to a place of tidy resolution? Will we create persons who must struggle and strive to hope in God, in both good circumstances and in tragic ones? Will we write about the breaking, so we can comfort others where they are? When sufferings are abundant, will we share about God’s abundant comfort, helping our readers to patiently endure?

How has the Lord called you to write about the breaking?

Will we write from a place of honesty and transparency, so others can know that they are not alone, that they, too, can turn to Christ? #WritingCommunity #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @MelindaVInman

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

Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda Viergever Inman now spins tales from her writer's cave in the coastal South. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.

Melinda has two projects releasing this fall. One is a novella—Benjamin’s Blessing, Book #2 in a Mafia Princesses and Mountain Men series written with a group of Christian writers. If you loved 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, you’ll love this modern take on the story. Book 0 is already available for preorder at

Melinda’s other project for 2019 is the sequel to No Longer Alone—the novel The Shadows Come, publishing near Thanksgiving, just in time for Christmas gifts! All of Melinda’s work, including past titles, can be found on her Amazon Author page at


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