Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Essential Skills for Writers by Melony Teague

We all have our strengths and weaknesses as writers. Some are natural story tellers, others are gifted in perfect grammar and know exactly what to do with those apostrophes and commas. One thing is for certain, we all have different strong points when it comes to writing.

One skill all writers need is perseverance.

Honestly, if you aren’t going to persist through all the ups and downs of a writer’s life, then you won’t achieve your dreams. Talent can only take you so far. I bet there are many super talented writers out there who say to themselves, “One day I’ll write that book I’ve been dreaming of.”

Without discipline and tenacity, it’s not going to happen.

What does perseverance look like?

It means sitting back down no matter how many times you get up to go make coffee or tea in an attempt to procrastinate.

It means always pushing yourself to do the things you fear, be it guest posts, podcasts, reading another writer’s craft book, or sending your first chapters out to a contest.

It means showing up every day to write something. Whether it’s a to-do list, which keeps you motivated to reach your goals or whether it’s a journal post for your eyes only to work through a problem that’s curbing your creativity.

It means praying and seeking wisdom in all your decisions, especially those related to your writing. It means asking questions. Trust me, I’ve asked a gazillion.

It means not permitting yourself to give up until you’ve at least written 200 words. Even if you end up deleting them later, that’s 200 more words than you had yesterday. Most times you’ll end up writing more.

It means staying the course and being disciplined in your writing. I’m not talking about unrealistic, over the top, land yourself in hospital kind of craziness, but pushing yourself out of your writing rut and certainly out of your comfort zone is a must if you want to progress.

For each victory, celebrate! Then take the next step forward. Everyone’s ‘next step’ is going to look different.

Perseverance means giving yourself grace to have that meltdown, to ask for help, to be talked off that familiar writer’s ledge, but knowing those places don’t need to be a permanent camping spot. Wipe those tears, and move on.

Writing is a tough gig folks. Persevere, invest in your writing, put in the hours and you’ll see the fruit.

Honestly, if you aren’t going to persist through all the ups and downs of a writer’s life, then you won’t achieve your dreams. via @MelonyTeague #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Melony Teague writes contemporary romance with a dash of humor, she loves to inspire and motivate others through her written words, and she believes everyone has a story to tell. Melony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the co-author of As the Ink Flows, a devotional for authors. Her fiction debut, A Promise to Keep released, Jan 21, 2020. Melony was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her handsome husband, their two teenagers, and does the bidding of her two adorable cats.

For More Visit the A Promise to Keep page
Available in Paperback on Amazon

About A Promise to Keep:

Research librarian Savannah Sanderson wants nothing more than to escape into her happily-ever-after novels with their larger-than-life fictional heroes. But a promise to her late husband has her attending her dreaded twenty-year high school reunion, drinking ghastly punch, and taking desperate measures just to keep her vow, even if she has to hide behind the décor to do it.

Once a reckless troublemaker, Michael McCann fled town after graduation. Now a professional technical rescuer, he’s back for the reunion, but on his trip down memory lane, he soon comes face to face with unresolved issues, namely Savannah.

Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

5 New Ways to Start Your Writing Year By Shannon Redmon

The year 2020 has arrived and I can still remember twenty years ago, when I was wondering if this world would make it through Y2K. Many experts believed Y2K could be the downfall of America, the end of man’s existence. The momentous scare at the time ended up being nothing more than a blip in time and the computerized world has grown into every area of our lives.

But let’s think what life might be like in another twenty years. I hope the passing of time will find that we have taken steps in our writing, finished our first book or attended our first writers conference. I hope we will have reached writing milestones and goals that are merely dreams today.

However, my fear is that some of us will still be wondering where the time went with only our lack of effort to show to others.

In the season of making New Year’s Resolutions, I want to challenge you to not make any false claims about grandiose dreams or outlandish writing goals and instead, start small. Try these five small things to get your writing career moving forward in 2020.

1) Buy a fresh new notebook and a pen or pencil
Not sure what it is about unwrinkled paper and blank pages, but something about a fresh notebook encourages an author to write. I’ve created many stories by doodling or writing random words until my brain created a story.

2) Brainstorm ideas
Take a couple of pages of that new notebook and brainstorm ideas. What kind of story would you like to write? Romance? Suspense? Or a combo? Let your ideas flow unhindered onto the paper. Think about your characters. What deep dark secrets do they hide in their heart that you as an author need to reveal?

3) Gather a group of friends
Some of my best story ideas have come from sitting around with friends and throwing out a suspenseful idea and writing down their thoughts. Not only is it fun, but some great scenes can come from the discussion.

4) Go people watching
My downtown area has some interesting characters milling around the square. Sometimes I like to visit and write down what I see. Unique characters can make a story all the more interesting.

5) Sign up for a writer’s conference
I cannot stress this enough. I know they aren’t cheap, but there are so many invaluable lessons to learn when attending, so many welcoming friends to make. Who knows, one of them may very well help you land your first book deal.

So, let’s not wait another twenty years to chase our dreams. Get started writing even if it’s something small.

Reach for your writing milestones and goals that are merely dreams today. @shannon_redmon @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite #amwriting #strategy #dreambig

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
Twitter: @shannon_redmon
Check out Shannon’s story in a compilation with other authors published by Revell.
The Horse of My Dreams

Monday, January 20, 2020

Writing Through the Impossible by Patty Nicholas-Boyte

“What if God allows, or even on purpose puts ministries and individuals in impossible situations so that he could do something in you, and do something through you that couldn’t get done any other way.” Chip Ingram 9/18/2019

Last September, Chip Ingram was the guest speaker at our staff devotion at work. I have thought about his talk often since that day. You see, the conference center where I work, was coming into our busiest months of the year while being significantly understaffed. How did we make it through? We made it with God’s divine protection over employee’s heath, time and energy. We all pulled together, we made it work, and God gets the glory.

As we finished all of our events for the year and took a collective sigh of relief when the last guest left the property, none of us could have imagined what happened that night. A small fire in the Training Center, which set off the sprinkler system, which worked exactly as designed, interrupted the peaceful end of the season.

The subsequent renovations have created an adversity that we never expected. However, this did not take God by surprise. In fact, he had prepared us for the impossible situation to come by the special guest speaker back in September.

While our true adversity is yet to be fully realized. We wait with bated breath for the good that God will bring from this moment of trial.

As we look forward in this New Year, I like many of you, have chosen a word and corresponding scripture verse to guide me. My word, “Vision.” My verse, Habakkuk 1:5.  

Habakkuk 1:5 (NASB) 5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days— You would not believe if [a]you were told

While our true adversity is yet to be fully realized. We wait with bated breath for the good that God will bring from this moment of trail.

Besides the word and the verse, I, like probably many of you have also created writing goals for myself for this year. One of my goals is to complete two of my works in progress that I feel as though I’ve been working on forever. Often I came close to finishing one of these projects then something happened and I had to either do a complete re-write, or shelve one or both of them for a time to work on a new and pressing assignment.

I had many distractions and challenges last year, and I will be the first to admit, on occasion I cried in frustration. I knew my impossible situations that God allowed, would turn into a vision for the new year and a knowledge that God would work in me something above all I could imagine. I eagerly wait for all that God will bring through me and to me in the year to come.

What impossible situations has God placed you in that you can clearly see how His hand worked things for your good and His glory?

Are you in the middle of an impossible situation and you wonder how anything good could ever come of the mess?

Is there someone you know who is going through an impossible situation? Share this quote with them. Hopefully it will encourage them as it encouraged me.

Multi award winning writer, Patty Nicholas-Boyte lives with her Husband Brian 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, January 17, 2020

Staying Relevant and Creating Timeless Fiction by JoAnn Durgin

Photo of a purse with the playbill for the play Private Lives

Staying Relevant and Creating Timeless Fiction

I’ve reached an age where I feel as though I’m “dating” myself at times by mentioning certain people, places, or events in history—meaning those from my lifetime. I’m not quite as old as dirt—yet!—and I don’t feel old except when met with the blank stares from youngsters. Mind you, I’m talking about 25-year-olds, not children.

Let me give you an example. This past October, I commissioned a one-of-a-kind purse at the annual Craftsmen’s Fair in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The purse features a Broadway Playbill with legendary Hollywood “power” couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (see photo). To anyone else, the purse might be considered a mere novelty, but it’s a true treasure for me and brings back fond memories. Why? Because, like many things in my life, there’s a story to be told.

In brief, back in the early 1980s, my mother and I traveled to Italy. We had a marvelous week there and then flew back into New York where my best friend and her mother met us for a four-day weekend. We somehow managed to get second-row tickets on opening night to a Noel Coward play, Private Lives, starring Taylor and Burton. The play had fared poorly in advance reviews during its trial run in Boston, but no one cared. And we, like everyone else, wanted to see the two legends on the same stage together! The celebrities were out in abundance, and we sat so close to the stage that Richard Burton’s spit actually landed on me!

Let’s switch to movies for a moment. In the newest movie version of Louisa May Alcott’s timeless Little Women, my primary “complaint” is that it sometimes slips into modern vernacular in a glaringly obvious way. By vernacular, I mean the everyday language spoken by people today as distinguished from the literary language I expected. Neither did their behavior always “fit” in with the setting and time period. They were sometimes too open, casual, and modern. Not only does Jo lapse into a “Yeah,” but Amy says “Thank you, thank you very much” in the same way Elvis Presley made famous. That statement jarred me out of the story and had me muttering in my popcorn! A couple kissing in a very public place in plain view of others? An editor requesting a “spicy” novel? I seem to be alone in this opinion (and I enjoyed the movie very much overall), but maybe it’s the fact that I am an author and expected a more faithful interpretation of one of my most beloved childhood novels.

You may wonder how this applies to writing novels. I’ve read historical novels that similarly lapse into modern terms and behavior. While I understand this style might attract more readers by being more identifiable, I believe it’s a personal decision from the author on how to best present their story. On the flip side, contemporary authors will often slide into using an overabundance of pop culture terms (brands, actors, movies, etc.). Not that I believe this is a bad thing (and who can keep up with constantly evolving technology?), but give your characters their proper due in terms of motivations, goals, needs, wants, fears, and insecurities. Because that’s what will ultimately hook and keep the reader connected with your story.

So, how can authors stay relevant to readers of all ages? Write as the Lord leads, keeping in mind as you write that—no matter the genre or the setting—you want your stories to age well. If you can successfully accomplish that while remaining true to the setting and time period, like fine wine, they’ll go down that much easier tomorrow or fifty years from now. And that’s what will make them timeless.

Blessings, friends.
~ JoAnn

How to stay relevant in our novels from USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads
How to make your writing timeless! Words of advice from JoAnn Durgin #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Love on Assignment 
in Millcreek
Love on Assignment in Millcreek

Millcreek Christmas Series
Book 1

Lisbeth Lawrence never expected to be catapulted into a snowbank on a bitterly cold December night. Dazed and sprawled in the snow, she looks into the soulful eyes of the boy who’d stolen her heart ten years ago—he just didn’t know it. Rugged and more handsome than ever, he’s now a mystery man who travels the globe and turns up in town from time to time. The only person who knows the truth is one of Lisbeth’s physical therapy patients—and she’s not talking.

Miles Langston is close to personal and professional burnout when he’s given a unique assignment: go home to Millcreek, Connecticut, and regroup, recharge, and reconnect. What he didn’t plan on was accidentally sending a former classmate flying into a snowbank his first night back. “Lis” Lawrence, the quiet “good” girl with the prettiest eyes in school, has grown into a beauty who challenges his heart and mind from the get-go.

Brought together through their mutual love and care for his beloved grandmother, Miles and Lisbeth begin to experience miracles unfolding through the quiet good deeds of the “Millcreek Christmas Elf”…and in their own hearts. Can a man who rarely stays in one place for long find love and contentment with a woman firmly entrenched in little Millcreek?

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

Feel free to connect with her at 
or via her website at

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Not the Right Time Yet by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Last May, as my husband and I drove north through Alabama to attend a writing conference, we looked for blossoming mimosa trees. We do this every time we drive on Interstate 85. We were disappointed and surprised to find fewer than usual trees with blooms.

On our return trip home the following week we spotted tree after beautiful tree full of blossoms. We tried to figure out what may have caused the lack blooms the week before. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Colder than normal winter. Warmer than normal winter. We're not horticulturists, so have no idea for the delayed blossoms. We settled for the fact it simply was not the right time for the trees to bloom yet.

Having spent the previous week with over three hundred writers, I couldn't help make the comparison between those mimosa trees and those of us who write.

We're all on different journeys. We don't achieve our goals, don't blossom, at the same time. Some of us bloom earlier. Some bloom later. Some of our dreams are achieved earlier. Some are achieved later. Some of us have a profusion of blossoms on our tree. Others don't have as many.

Even if our trees lack blossoms, that does not negate the beauty of our tree. No matter how successful or unsuccessful our lives may appear to others, or to ourselves, our lives continue to be beautiful when we offer them for our Creator God's purposes.

I've found when hopes or dreams are delayed, some people think they must know the exact reason for the delay. They theorize the reason for the delay is too much this. Not enough that. When honestly, in much the same way my husband and I theorized about the mimosa blooms, they don't have the slightest idea. And don't need one.

It's just not the right time yet.

The One who told the moon when to shine and the sun when to sleep, told the sea it could only come so far and no further, placed the stars in the heavens and the bars around Orion knows when our not the right time yet will turn into it's time now. The same way God told the blossoms on the mimosa trees that lines I-85 when it was time to bloom, he knows when it is time for our dreams to blossom.

As we wait for whatever dream we hold in our heart, perhaps we should remember the mimosas that bloom at God's appointed time and not one moment sooner.

Is there a dream you're waiting on to bloom?

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Adventures in Indie Writing by Patty Smith Hall

Patty here, and as I shared with you in an earlier blog post, the closure of Lifeway’s brick and mortars was a wake-up call for me last year. Add that with the shrinking book space at Barnes and Noble, and I began to wonder where I, a mid-list writer, would fall in this ever-changing publishing scene. With the hundreds of books that are published each year, how could I compete for a cherished spot on the shelf? I have a healthy backlist of novels and novellas, but they’re getting very little traction in the market.

In other words, for all the time and effort I’ve put into my writing, I’m seeing very little fruit for my labors, and isn’t that why we write? So that readers can see Christ in the pages of our books? To show our characters living out their faith despite their problems? If my ministry is to put out books that point toward Jesus, what do I do if there’s no room on the bookshelf for me?

That’s when I thought about going indie. Indie publishing has lost the stigma it’s held in the past. For the most part, indie writers have learned from past mistakes. They’re hiring editors and professional cover designers to work with them. They’re advertising alongside traditional publishers and pulling in devoted readers, in some cases, making more money than traditional houses.

But indie publishing isn’t for everyone. I took a long hard look at myself to see if this could work for me. I’m a very independent person who doesn’t need a deadline hanging over me to get my work done. I work better alone. I have the financial means to hire editors/cover designers to make my books stand-out and to advertise. I have a good start on a backlist of books and novellas.

The only parts I didn’t have a grasp on was the business and tech side of going indie. Enter my husband and daughter. After years of being in charge of operations for a large international company, Danny is working from home and ready for a new adventure that will use his business skills. He loves the idea of working with me (I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I’ll keep you posted!) And our daughter Carly records and produces her own albums as well as YouTube videos and podcasts.

As all the pieces fell into place, I felt as if the Lord was giving me His okay. I had a peace about it as well as an excitement that I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

But I had a lot to learn. Six months ago, I began my in-depth study of indie publishing. I took classes with Hallee Bridgeman (Hi Hallee!), listened to podcasts on the indie market and read books on the subject. I joined 20Booksto50K, a Facebook group made up of indie authors who share their experiences in the indie publishing world. Most recently, I joined a mastermind group of indie authors.

I’m ready to get started.

For the next year, I’m going to share with you my adventures in indie publishing, the good and the not-so-good. I will be transparent about my wins and misses as I navigate new and uncharted territory for me. I do ask you to do one thing for me—Keep me in your prayers as I embark on the next step in my writing journey.

Have you ever considered indie publishing? What held you back or pushed you forward in your decision?

As all the pieces fell into place, I felt as if the Lord was giving me His okay. I had a peace about it as well as an excitement that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #indiepub


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. 

4 Women Bring Southern Charm to a Cowboy Town 
Crinoline Creek, Texas, 1868
A Cowboy of Her Own by Patty Smith Hall

Bookish southern belle Madalyn Turner knows what she wants—to be a cowboy and own a Texas ranch. But books are far different from real life and soon she realizes she needs help.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bible Study, Anyone? By Marie Wells Coutu

Regardless of the genre or the structure we follow for writing a novel, telling a story means taking our characters on a journey. Our protagonist must have a goal and motivation to achieve that goal, whether the goal is tangible or abstract.

In Christian fiction, the spiritual journey of our characters is just as important, if not more important, than their physical and emotional journeys.

A friend recently shared with me a method she’s using to explore her main character’s beliefs, learn more about her, and understand her spiritual journey.

She’s putting her through a Bible study.

Many writers give our characters personality tests—at least, I do. We “answer” questions for them about their backstory, favorite foods and flowers, and the happiest moment and darkest moment of their life. Perhaps we journal as our character in order to tell part of the story and find the character’s voice.

My friend decided to take this discovery process one step further. She was starting a new Bible study related to the theme of her novel. Instead of reading the book and answering discussion questions as she normally would, she adopted the persona of her main character and went through the study from that perspective.

This revealed aspects of the heroine’s personality and mindset she hadn’t realized and helped my friend gain insight into the character’s faith and struggles.

The “answers” she writes may or may not wind up in the book; heavy-handed biblical teaching is not desirable in today’s fiction. Ultimately, though, the process will deepen the spiritual elements of the story and increase readers’ ability to relate to the character.

This appeals to me as a great strategy, and I plan to use it for at least one character in my next novel.

Have you found other unusual methods to help your characters come alive in your mind? Sometimes the less obvious approach leads a writer closer to the “truth” of the story. Share your ideas and help all of us go deeper with our characters.

Sometimes a less obvious approach leads a writer closer to the “truth” of a character and a story. #amwriting #writingtips @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite

The author adopted the persona of her main character and went through a Bible study from that perspective. This helped her gain insight into the character’s faith and struggles. #amwriting @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite #writingtips

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, January 13, 2020

Passion—Three Keys to Success by Peter Leavell

One of my favorite authors sat across the table. My palms were suddenly sweaty. I’d learned long ago if I didn’t say anything about my emotions, I would hate myself later. How this would go down?

I looked up and opened my mouth to catch her attention, but then I was interrupted. As faculty at the conference, other attenders wanted to chat about my books and workshop. As a famous author, she had people chatting about her books as well. I tried again, but it didn't work.

The interruptions allowed me to observe her personality.

She was shy. Kind. People around her seemed interested in what she had to say. She tried to get others to talk about themselves, deflecting attention away from herself. It worked. She was truly interested in them.

After a few attempts to get her attention, I noticed a puzzled look on her face. She was looking at me, and probably perceived my efforts to say something to her. So, I blurted out my admission, “You’re my favorite author!”


She smiled, and as we chatted, those at the table listened to two veteran, literary historical fiction authors talk. And a few times over the course of the week, we managed to trade industry tips.

Most of the time, she remained reserved, but when she talked of American history, her voice rose above the conversations in the room. Color sprinkled her cheeks. She sat straighter, her elbows flared, and her hand motions were wide and generous. Her reserved manner turned into Jonathan Edwards preaching to crowds of tens of thousands. Everyone listened, enraptured. I found myself loving American history, renewing a passion for the past that had fallen dormant. The feeling was so strong, I’m adding a master’s degree in history to my MA in Literature.

In that moment, I learned three things about passion.

—Passion passes from person to person. Smile, and people smile back. Have you a passion for your books? The genre you write? The subject matter you work with? Your fans feed off of the emotion. Talk about your passion. They will buy your books because of your hunger. They will look at the world through your eyes.

—Passion burns longer than grind. If you don’t like your subject, marketing, editing, or some other aspect to writing, you will burn out. And quickly. Continued passion is sustaining.

—Passion makes life fun. Strong emotion makes the quiet person the center of attention. Passion chases away the shadows of doubt and inconsistency, replacing the darkness with vibrant colors that appears in your work.

Choose passion. Indulge in those things you love most. Talk about them. Write them. Make your passion your playground. You won’t regret it as people flock to see what has you so excited!

Passion and three keys for success in your writing. @peterleavell #seriouslywrite #writerslife

Passion in you creates passion in your writing. People will want to know what you're excited about, and will buy your books. @peterleavell #seriouslywrite #writerslife

The passionate person gets noticed—three keys to success using your passion. @peterleavell #sereiouslywrite #writerslife

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, as well as History 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. An author, 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, January 10, 2020

A New Way to Evangelize: Write and Publish for Christ by Susan C. Fischer

Susan C. Fischer

Not everyone is comfortable with public speaking or even talking in small groups. God gave us different gifts—and writing may be yours. Author Susan C Fisher shares her personal journey to publication, as well as encouragement for introverts. ~ Dawn

A New Way to Evangelize: 
Write and Publish for Christ

Two years ago, I joined a Christian writing group where I live in Bradenton, Florida. I had always wanted to publish a book, but I hadn’t written one yet. Having read and enjoyed Christian romance novels in the past, I thought it would be a genre in which I could write a novel and get it published.

With the encouragement of my writing group members, their critiques of my work, many revisions and holding myself accountable to the goals I set, I wrote a Christian romance novel with a Prologue, an Epilogue, and twenty-two chapters, just over 58,000 words. And, it has been published.

After that, I wasn’t sure if I had another book in me. But God showed me what to write about, which resulted in a second novel with a Prologue, Epilogue and 24 chapters, just over 60,000 words, also published.

I consider both of these books to be miracles in a life blessed with a happy and well-adjusted adult son, a couple of professional careers, and a supportive group of family and friends.

The Holy Spirit gave me the words for the books, and God made it clear to me that the purpose of them is to bring people to Christ, to deepen their faith and to assist them in their spiritual journeys.

In my first novel, Her Next Dance, an attorney who has lost her faith realizes through the people God puts in her path that He exists and has a plan for her, to prosper her, to give her hope and a rewarding future (See Jeremiah 29:11.) In reading about the main character’s journey, I hope that others will discover they can make their own lives better by following the Lord and walking in His word and ways.

In the second novel, Dancing with a Cowboy, a paralegal escapes an abusive relationship by fleeing to another state, but she’s still haunted by the fear that her ex-boyfriend will find her. Even though she didn’t feel worthy of going to church or praying, learning the truth that God didn’t abandon her sets her free to enjoy the abundant life He promised us (See John 8:31-32, 10:10.)

If you’re not interested in romance novels, there are so many genres in which you can write: mystery, suspense, poetry, autobiography, devotionals, etc. So, introverts, take heart. If don’t want to go out on street corners with signs, hand out pamphlets, or engage your acquaintances at the gym about accepting Christ as their Savior, take up your pen or computer and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you on a journey of evangelism, for His sake.

Introverts, take heart! Writing can be a way to share your faith. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @susanfischer

Dancing With a Cowboy
Dancing With a Cowboy

Intelligent and shy, Elaine “Lainey” MacDonald escaped an abusive relationship and is starting a new life as a paralegal, working in her dream law firm in Florida. When she is invited to a ballroom dance class, she meets ranch foreman and former rodeo star, Allan Whitfield. He wants to go out with Lainey, but can she conquer the secret fear that still haunts her?

Persistent and charming, Allan thinks he has overcome his past failures. But would Lainey want to be with him if his own family doesn’t?

Susan Fischer is an author, Christian Mediator, and a speaker with several ministries. She leads a worship service at a local retirement center and is active in the Peacemaking Ministry, Inner Healing Prayer Ministry, leads a Bible Study group, and is a member of the Order of the Daughters of the King. She has a Juris Doctor degree from Detroit College of Law and has practiced Personal Injury Law in Michigan and Florida for over 30 years. She has a son and daughter-in-law and lives in Bradenton, Florida, near a dance studio and her favorite beach.

Connect with Susan and learn more here:

FB: susanfischerbooks
Twitter: @susanfischer

Thursday, January 9, 2020


Happy New Year, my friends! 😊 I will confess I began what is now this blog post as a reminder to myself. Sure, I can comment to my family and friends that I plan to_______ (fill in the blank---exercise more, drink more water instead of cokes, be more organized, etc.etc.) in the new year. And they will smile politely, likely thinking they’ve heard me say those exact words before. Every January.😉

This year, instead of simply commenting about my plans, or even making a list that gets tucked away in a random notebook, I decided to not only write my plans, but write them and post the list where I can’t miss seeing them. For me, that would be on my desk next to my computer. Yes, I know this is common-sense, but if you’re like me, sometimes we need those common-sense reminders. 😉

I recently thought about reasons I haven’t been getting more writing done on a daily basis, and the glaring, obvious truth couldn’t be ignored. Facebook and emails. Sure, I love reading my friends’ posts on Facebook, and who doesn’t love receiving a newsy email from a friend, but I’ve gotten into the (bad) habit of checking those first, after my Bible time and as soon as I start my computer each morning. Before I realize, the clock is showing it’s almost noon, and I’m still scrolling through Facebook posts (“Just one more, and then I’ll log out and open my WIP”). Truthfully, I do like to check for prayer requests, and consider it an honor to pray for my friends, but with so many photos, funny memes, etc. on Facebook, it’s too easy to get distracted. *Sigh*

If you are a naturally disciplined person, I applaud you. But for those of us who easily get sidetracked, we might need a visual reminder. So I’ve got a sheet of bright yellow paper, a permanent marker that’s a bold shade of pink, and I’m ready to list my plans. The goal is for these to become daily habits, keeping me on track so I can be more productive with my writing—and my days in general. Because when I’m productive, that gives me a happy feeling, which in turn makes for a better overall day. 😊

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

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, January 8, 2020

Waiting, Writing, and Why You Must Not Quit by Cynthia Herron

On the first Wednesday of the new year, I like to run the most read Wednesday post of the year before. This one by Cynthia Herron is it. Enjoy! And we look forward to providing you with more writing tips and encouragement on 2020 Wednesdays! ~ Sandy

Most writers will tell you the in-between seasons are the hardest. I won’t sugarcoat it. They are.

Waiting (especially a prolonged season of waiting) is like a knife to the weary writer’s heart. As each hope-filled day passes, so does a tiny bit of our resolve.

We struggle to make sense of the “close, but no cigar” or “not quite there” feedback, while realizing, too, traditional publishing is evolving.

Our season of waiting may entail many dynamics. Maybe we need to refine our craft, work on character development, and eliminate POV bugs. Maybe we need to seek honest feedback from critique partners and mentors. Maybe we need to rethink our genre.

Then again—our season in the abyss may not have anything at all to do with our writing. Perhaps, it’s just not our time.

Of course, you’ve heard it before—the writing life isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s the G-Rated version.

And what about those uninformed souls who ask the tough questions and then add a footnote? Like this gem, instance.

“What on earth’s taking you so long? You’ve been at this forever!”

I have to shake my head.

No idea.

They. Really. Have. No. Idea.

It’s not just a matter of taking pen to paper or putting fingers to a keyboard. It’s not about writing the story. (Oh! If only!) It’s not about getting the agent. The publisher. The whatever.

Let’s get real.

It’s about the season. The timing. The God-ordained This is YOUR moment!

Yes, perhaps, there are things we, as writers, can do to hasten our moment.

  • Read books on the writing craft 
  • Join writing groups and attend conferences 
  • Enlist mentors 
  • Enlist critique partners (vastly different from beta readers) 
  • Hire an editor 
  • Write as much as we possibly can 
Those things make sense.

BUT when we’ve done all that and more, and God’s answer is still “Not yet,” we have no other alternative but to wait…and trust.

Trust that our writing ministry isn’t about us.

Trust that our story will still wait.

Trust that God sees the bigger picture.

Trust that He will bring our season to fruition.

Trust that we can’t quit now.

Why trust? Well, I’m so glad you asked!

  • God can change circumstances in a heartbeat. 
  • He can orchestrate happenstance into the here and now. 
  • He can alter detours into divine appointments. 
  • He can and does demonstrate deliberate turn-of-events in our favor. 

If you quit now, you’ll always wonder.

If you quit now, your stories may die, but the words won’t.

If you quit now, your human flesh might be appeased, but your soul will still ache.


Because your writer’s heart will still beat.

For that deeply intrinsic thing God’s gifted you with.

Your craft.

Write, dear writer, write!

Have you ever experienced a waiting season? If you’re in a season of waiting—be it writing related or something else—how are you staying proactive?

*This post originally appeared on Cynthia’s blog


Is the sure thing worth risking for the possibility of maybe?

Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery.

Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents.

Nestled in the Ozarks’ hills and hollows is Ruby, Missouri, a quaint, cozy town where “neighbor” is merely another word for “friend.” Ruby will charm and delight as will her quirky, lovable characters who will steal your heart, but hand it right back—with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Savor your new friends’ sorrows and successes in the community where offbeat is perfect and mishaps and mayhem never tasted so good!

Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Her Hope Discovered, her début novel and the first in a three-book series, released December 2018 with Mountain Brook Ink. She is a 2017 ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2016 ACFW Genesis (Double) Finalist, and a 2015 ACFW First Impressions winner. Her work is represented by WordServe Literary.

Cindy loves to connect with friends at her online home. She also hangs out on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and Instagram. For love, fun, and encouragement ~ Sign up for Cindy’s monthly e-NEWSLETTERS.

Purchase Her Hope Discovered from your favorite retailer: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Word to the Hurting on Resolutions by Emily Conrad

Numbers 2020 on wooden background

A new year has begun, but perhaps this start doesn’t feel fresh to you.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a loss or faced a difficult life event. Or maybe, a string of both has you knotted up.

Or rather than hardships, you’ve simply taken on something new. You’ve moved. You’ve started a new job. Perhaps gotten married or had a child. Your priorities have shifted, and you’re still not quite sure how to fit everything in.

Or maybe it's nothing so striking. Battle-weariness can creep up slowly, too, so we might not notice our exhaustion so much until we're presented with the extra challenge of tackling something new, like making a resolution.

The calendar marches on, and everyone talks about fresh starts and resolutions, but the thought of trying to better yourself or launch your writing to new levels could bring tears to your eyes.

Calendar showing month of January

On the one hand, I’m imagining what it’s like to feel that way at the start of a new year.

On the other, 2019 held some notable trials for me and my family.

Too overwhelmed by other circumstances, I couldn’t write for weeks. A manuscript I meant to finish took a couple of extra months (thankfully, I'm under only self-imposed deadlines). Blogging became difficult. My reading life changed, too.

God’s timing is not man’s timing. His word tells us there’s a time for everything, but God is certainly not bound by our calendar.

There's a time to pursue things even in the difficult, knowing our God goes before us. In those cases, celebrating New Year's with a resolution might help launch us into exactly what God has for us.

We are to number our days and make the most of them. Writing is an important part of that, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the next milestone is everything.

God is everything.

And sometimes, our Shepherd leads us to rest beside quiet waters, where we can heal from loss, trauma, transition, and all that effort.

Sheep in pasture by water

If this new year finds you in the midst of difficult circumstances and you “can’t even,” the most important thing you can do is dig deeper into Christ.

Let the Good Shepherd lead you through the valley, and rest in the assurance that He will restore you and lift you up in His good time. A green pasture is before you. Quiet waters. The Good Shepherd will care for both you and the abilities He's given you. Stay by His side, and you can't go wrong.

In fact, even if you do feel up to setting goals, the most important resolution a Christian writer can make, the one we can strive for no matter what 2019 held or 2020 brings, is to grow ever closer to Jesus.

We are to number our days and make the most of them. #Writing is an important part of that, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the next milestone is everything. via @emilyrconrad #resolutions #Christianwriter #seriouslywrite

If this #NewYear finds you in the midst of difficult circumstances and you “can’t even,” the most important thing you can do is dig deeper into Christ. @emilyrconrad #writing #resolutions #seriouslywrite

The most important resolution a Christian writer can make, the one we can strive for no matter what 2019 held or 2020 brings, is to grow ever closer to #Jesus. @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite #NewYear #writing

Photo credits
2020 photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
January calendar photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Sheep photo by Millie Olsen on Unsplash


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, January 6, 2020

Stop Playing the What-if Game by Amy K. Rognlie

Amy K. Rognlie
Do anxieties get to you? As creatives, it's helpful if we can cast our cares on God and let Him carry our burdens. That frees us up to create, to write. Today's guest, Amy K. Rognlie, is a fellow Mountain Brook Ink author with some advice around faith and fear. Read on! ~ Annette

What if? What if my main character discovers a dark family secret? What if my antagonist suddenly dies? What if the detective doesn’t find what she is expecting? What if the lover turns out to be an imposter?

For fiction writers, playing the what-if game is a helpful method for setting ideas into motion, jump-starting a boring plot, exploring fresh ideas or rousing new-found enthusiasm when slogging through a long project. Asking “What if?” compels us to dig deeper. To wonder. To discover, rather than to assume.

However, many of us play the what-if game in our own nonfiction, very real lives. Suddenly, we’re not tweaking an imaginary plot. No, we’re playing for keeps, where the well-being of our own hearts and souls are at stake: What if I don’t finish writing this book on time? What if I don’t have enough money to pay my bills? What if something bad happens to my kids? What if my loved one dies of cancer? What if I get laid off? What if…

Hmm. Good idea? No... But we all play the game at times, some of us more than others. So, let’s be honest: the other name for this game is fear.


We live in a society where anxiety, stress, and fear of the future are the norm. We attempt to cope via various methods, seldom acknowledging that the only true antidote to fear is faith. Not a blind faith, but a personal, experiential faith that is grounded in knowing who God is, what He says, and what that means to me…because the promises of God cannot be claimed where the will of God is unknown.

Minister Ron Kussmaul defines what this kind of faith looks like in real life: Faith is seeing the invisible, while saying the impossible, while surrounded by doubt. 

Wow. I want that kind of faith, don’t you?

So. Let’s play the what-if game one more time: What if we committed to discovering God’s will for our life? Our families? Our relationships? Our futures? What if we learned to bring our thoughts into captivity, as instructed in scripture? What if we chose to walk by faith and not by sight? What if we dared to stand on God’s word and trust Him in the midst of the mess?

After all, He is the author of our lives. He already knows our unique and beautiful plot from beginning to end. He was in our past. He is in our present. He will be our future. And He never asks, “What if?”

Anxiety can paralyze a creative person. Stop playing the what-if game. #amwriting @AmyRognlie

To Err is Human

To Err is Human (Short Creek Mysteries #3)

Aunt Dot and Harry are finally tying the knot, and Callie Erickson is buried up to her elbows in flower arrangements and, yet again, more mysteries.

A local businesswoman is found dead, and Callie becomes the main suspect. She is determined to prove her innocence just as much as she’s determined Aunt Dot’s wedding will go on. But when Callie’s missionary parents disappear on their way back to Texas, roses keep mysteriously appearing, and her own family strife is brought to the surface, Callie may just drown in the upheaval.

Can Todd walk the line between his love for Callie and his dedication to his law enforcement career? Will Callie have a chance to make things right with her parents? And who keeps leaving roses for her to find?


Amy K. Rognlie won her first contest for her debut story, “My Pet Kangaroo” in second grade. Since then, she has authored several novels. The third book in her Short Creek Mysteries series, To Err is Human, released January 1, 2020. She also writes adult Sunday School curriculum, devotional material, and educational website content, but her first love is fiction. Amy is a middle-school language arts and Latin teacher at a classical Christian school. She and her husband have three sons—two who are grown and one almost—and one small granddaughter. And while Amy does not currently have a pet kangaroo, she does have two dogs. Amy is active in jail ministry as well as in her local church. She loves reading, writing, gardening, leading Bible studies and speaking to women’s groups.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Resigned to Our Pain by Melinda V. Inman

Meme with 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Resigned to Our Pain

Pain. None of us like it. However, for those of us with chronic pain, it’s a daily fact of life. Every day, we awaken in pain, if we’re able to sleep at all, and we begin our daily battle. We feel horrible every single day.

When human beings hurt deeply, we mention our pain when we require moral support or help finding relief. But, when the pain never ends, we typically quit talking about it, unless the situation is dire.

We don’t want to bore everyone with yet another discussion of our health. We don’t want our lives to consist only of our pain. We want to forget the suffering and ponder the beauty of the winter snow, the tones of the symphony, the preciousness of Christ, the gift of a harmonious family, and the joy and sacred blessing of a newly begun year.

Yet, in our silence, we soon become resigned to the belief that nothing will ever change. We come to feel that there is no solution to the unrelenting pain. We give up seeking for answers that never seem to come to fruition. We lose hope.

Recently, I attended a weekend workshop. During that event, I was surprised to discover that my pain made it impossible for me to sit still and concentrate. Since I work at home alone, I can move about and deal with my pain throughout the day. I’m distracting no one. It’s part of my routine, attended to with no thought.

However, when sitting next to other women at a table all day, the fact that I had to constantly shift in my seat, moving about to deal with my body’s aching joints and muscles, caused me to realize that my pain had worsened. No wonder I’d been experiencing wildly fluctuating emotions and weeping.

My doctor agreed. She proposed a non-opioid prescription painkiller, the only kind I would consider. I’d forgotten there were options. For years, I’ve been using my own pain management techniques—physical therapy, exercise, posture, nutrition, positive focus, ancient medicinal oils, and over-the-counter pain relief.

Yet, the pain continued beneath the surface, ever-present. The fact that there were options was like new information. I’d completely forgotten that these tools even existed. In my resignation, I had lost hope. I had given up.

Writer, our readers are often in this same place emotionally and/or spiritually. Ignoring basic needs of the heart, thinking there are no solutions, results in hopelessness.

All of us sometimes feel resigned to our lots, trudging through our own cheerless January, believing it must simply be endured. We feel nothing can be done about our bleak future. We’re sad, lonely, discouraged, and uncertain. We’ve forgotten there are options, possibilities, and solutions.

We’re in need of encouragement. We may have given up completely. If no one ever comes alongside, offering the comfort that is received in Christ Jesus, then we have no comfort at all.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).

This is where our writing comes in. In the hope of encouraging others, write openly and honestly. Share the story of rebirth, awakening to a new life in Christ with a future and a hope. Write about the gradual ups and downs of growth, the blessings, and yet the shortcomings we experience in this transformed life. Write the bones.

When we’re real, our readers can identify. They can find the remedy.

We need to truly see the people around us, to peer into the depths, beyond the external facade, to discern their needs—needs they may have squelched and ignored, thinking there are no answers.

We need to see their hopelessness. When we do, when we’re moved by compassion, we can write from the heart, offering the needed prescription.

Write to the need. It most certainly exists.

Write about the gradual ups and downs of growth, the blessings, and yet the shortcomings we experience in this transformed life. Write the bones. #SeriouslyWrite #Encouragement via @MelindaVInman
Write from the heart, offering the needed prescription. Write to the need. It most certainly exists. #encouragement #ChristianLife #ChronicPain #WritingCommunity #SeriouslyWrite via @MelindaVInman

The Shadows Come
The Shadows Come

Sequel to No Longer Alone
(WW1 Based on a True Story)

Germany threatens all of Europe. Millions have died. President Woodrow Wilson makes the declaration that the United States must enter the Great War to rescue our allies. Congress approves. Our story begins. In America’s heartland, everyone hunkers down to provide food for the world and resources for the war effort. A draft is necessary, and all young men must register. One by one, these are called to war. With this threat looming, Prentis and Avery raise the necessary horsepower, cultivate the needed crops, and contribute their labors to the Red Cross.

But crises at home, an insidious busybody, and one after another called up to fight in Europe bring the greatest dangers they’ve ever faced together. Then there’s the influenza pandemic. Will they survive the war abroad and the war being waged at home, threatening their love and their lives? Will their loved ones make it home again?

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.


Facebook Author Page: