Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Let’s Talk Goals! by Sally Shupe

Can you believe it’s October already? This year has been a year for the books. Storm Sally came through our area and our temperatures dropped. It even frosted a couple of mornings. Since I love snow, of course this was bound to happen lol.

What goals did you set for this year? Start writing a book? Finish a book? Clean out a closet or give a room a makeover? Where do you stand in meeting your goals? Did you meet every one and you’re working ahead? Can’t remember what goals you set? Did your goals change as the year progressed? Wherever you stand, be thankful you’re standing! Setting goals, meeting goals, is not a competition. My goals won’t look like yours, and yours won’t look like mine. Goals are to help keep you on task. But the good thing about goals? They can be changed to meet your needs! Knocking those goals out? Set more. Life hit you hard? Dial back the goals to match. Sometimes just getting through the day is a win. That’s okay. Considering the year we’ve had, goals are made to be flexible.

Do you want to start a book, but can’t seem to find the time? While standing in line, or during commercials, or while on hold, jot down scenes, or snippets of dialogue. You’ve now started your book! Do you want to clean out a closet or room but are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Start with one box, or one bag, or one corner. Just start. Once you see yourself making progress, it will spur you on to continue. Before you know it, you’ll have a chapter written, or a corner of the closet cleared out. I dare you to try it!

Let’s share! What worked for you this year? Which goals did you meet? Which ones were easy to get marked off your list? Which ones did you struggle with? Why were they harder to meet? Did you get that room cleaned out? Or try a new recipe? Discover an exercise program that’s working for you? Share in the comments and let’s encourage one another.

I struggled with writing, but I entered two contests. I also revamped my blog and invited authors and others to guest post with author spotlights, book reviews, and devotion and writing-related posts. I also wrote a snippet for a new story that I’m excited about. I also tried a couple of new recipes that turned out fantastic and are now a permanent go-to meal. I look forward to reading your comments and cheering you on!

My goals won’t look like yours, and yours won’t look like mine. Click to tweet it!

Sally Shupe
lives in southwest Virginia with her husband, has two grown kids-a daughter still at home and a son not-so nearby, and a whole bunch of pets: four dogs, three cats, a rabbit, and birds at the birdfeeder (and the mandatory snowman when the snow cooperates). She is an aspiring Christian author of small town contemporary inspirational romance, with two completed manuscripts and several more in progress.

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/content editor for several e-book publishing companies; performs beta reading for various authors; publishes book reviews; is a member of ACFW; and loves genealogy, running, and crocheting.

Sally publishes weekly blog posts that can be found through her website:, and she posts on the first Thursday of the month at

Double Duty by Sharon Hinck

I'm a frugal person, so I appreciate things that serve more than one purpose. I find I’m that way with my writing as well. When we write a scene with dialogue, we need to give cues to our reader about which character is speaking. But there are ways to make those cues serve more than one purpose.

Why just say, “he said” when you can use the moment to REVEAL something about the character’s appearance, tone, emotion, inner life, motivations?

I’m sure you know how to write dialogue identifiers.

“Hello,” she said.

These days, “fancy” identifiers like,
"'Hello,' he retorted" are out of fashion. Even worse: “Hello,” he retorted angrily.

Side note: while this is a general preference for editors these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally apply a judicious use of a descriptive manner of speech or even a rare adverb. Just know to save that for special occasions. There are craft conventions (I don’t like to think of them as “rules”) – and there are good reasons for most of them – but when it serves the art, there is room to color outside those lines.

While simple dialogue identifiers are best (“said” is virtually invisible to the reader and they slide smoothly past it – which is a good thing for their reading experience), there is an even more powerful way to identify your speaker:


They’re great because they do double duty. They give the cue to the reader about which character is speaking AND they can build characterization or paint the picture of the moment:

“Hello.” She scuffed her toes in the sand, shoulders curved inward like a protective cape.

In the context of the story, this can show you more than, “Hello,” she said.

It’s also valuable to mix it up. Start some dialogue WITH the action tag:

He leaned in, his forehead almost touching hers. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time.”

Not every dialogue paragraph needs to start with the quotation. Play with the rhythm. Scan your page and see if the PATTERN of dialogue and action has become too consistent and rearrange a few. And of course, there will be dialogue exchanges without any dialogue indentifiers needed because you’ve established the two characters responding back and forth and/or they have such unique voices, the reader immediately knows who is speaking.

You can also insert action between longer stretches of dialogue:

“I never knew.” She stepped back, zipped up her jacket, and thrust her hands in her pockets. “I wish you had told me this months ago.”

However, if you string together too many action and dialogue segments, it can become choppy:

George pounded the desk. “I told you to get those figures to me today.” He pushed back his chair and stormed across the office. “I’ll just have to do it myself.” He glared at Frank and thrust a folder at him. “At least take care of this.”

Too many interruptions to dialogue can feel like driving with someone who keeps hitting the brakes.

Of course, interruptions in dialogue are great when it’s another character cutting in.

George pounded the desk. “I told you to get—”

“I did.” Frank held up a folder.

Notice I didn’t say “Frank cut in. Frank interrupted.” Etc. There’s no need to tell the reader that a character interrupted when the m-dash and new dialogue SHOWS that already.

One more note: when you use an action tag that is a complete sentence, it gets a period:

“I told you.” George pounded the desk.

But if you combine an action tag with a dialogue identifier (which you might occasionally do for the rhythm you want) you use a comma:

“I told you,” George said, pounding the desk.

Take time to examine your dialogue segments. See if a thoughtful use of action tags can both identify the speaker AND convey emotion, characterization, or setting.

Write on!

Take time to examine your dialogue segments. via @sharonhinck #SeriouslyWrite


Award-winning author Sharon Hinck writes “stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary women on extraordinary faith journeys. Known for their authenticity, emotional range, and spiritual depth, her novels include the ground-breaking 
Sword of Lyric fantasy series and her imaginative new Dancing Realms series, that begins with Hidden Current and continues with Forsaken Island. She has been honored with a Christy finalist medal, and three Carol awards for her novels.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Write What Readers Won’t See Coming by Mary A. Felkins

Writer's, how do we avoid creating situations that are entirely too coincidental or predictable, providing an easy way out for the characters? 

We don’t want our readers rolling their eyes with, “Yeah, I saw that coming.” Because then our book is closed in favor of another. 

I know authors who make good use of the supernatural invading the natural. Without bordering on ridiculous, I enjoy circumstances which clearly point to the intervening hand of God. 

In my debut, Call to Love, the hero (a law enforcement officer) received several text messages from his ex-wife that were legit. But he received a few mysterious texts from an unknown ID. . . Be compassionate, forgiving just as Christ forgave you. 

Hackles raised, the hero called his ex and fired away with, “Where do you get off preaching to me about forgiveness?”. But the thing was, she didn’t send them. Even investigations was unable to trace the source. 

Hmmm. Were they (as his ex boldy suggested) from God? Or was my hero suffering from work fatigue? 

I left this to the reader’s imagination. 

Writers, let’s harness the endless creativity available to us and utilize the courage to write what readers won’t see coming. When our stories become cozy, common and predictable, our own motivation to write the next scene withering in yawn, let’s toss in any number of obstacles our readers (and we?) won’t see coming. 

No one does this better than God. Hello, 2020? Who saw the pandemic coming? A world where a mask is required to enter a facility? One where we are no longer free to go and do as we please, our interaction with others separated by a screen? 

God, the sovereign Author, saw this coming. And, boy, hasn't it captured our attention?

Although I squirm over the conundrum brought on by the pandemic, what a brilliant plot twist! And on its heels...rioting, devastating fires, a heated political vote on the horizon that holds incredible weight to top off the year. 

Ah, the irony of 2020, a year where we expected to see things clearly and had a good handle on what might lie ahead. 

Personally, I welcomed this year with a very different set of expectations than what has unfolded. Maybe you did too? But I’m very engaged, turning the pages, as it were, to see where God will take us next. It’s created tension, made me want to know more, begging for a happily ever after. 

God has given us what we didn’t see coming and brought much good from it. And writers, this is the same reaction and result we want to offer our readers. 

Working in unpredictable elements that increase stakes for our characters doesn't have to look like a world-wide virus, fires and political division. A simple text from unknown source might work. 

But wherever you are in your story, take time to consider if you’re holding back and ask:

1) What is the worse thing that could happen? 
2) What’s the best thing that could happen? 
3) What might my reader never see coming? 

Then write that.
When our stories become cozy, common and predictable, our own motivation to write the next scene withering in yawn, let’s toss in any number of obstacles our readers won’t see coming. @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite
In 2020, God has given us what we didn’t see coming and brought much good from it. And writers, this is the same reaction and result we want to offer our readers. @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite

Mary A. Felkins
is an inspirational romance author, administrator for Seriously Write writer's blog, and contributor to Refresh, an on-line Bible study magazine. In 2015, she was awarded a bronze medal for her scene submission to My Book Therapy's Frazier contest. Her debut Call to Love (Pelican Book Group) is set in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy
Raised in Houston, Texas (and forever a Lone Star girl), Mary and her husband Bruce moved to Hickory, North Carolina in 1997. They have four young adult children. She can be lured from her writer's cave if presented with a large, unopened bag of Peanut M&Ms or to watch an episode of Fixer Upper. A surprise appearance by her teen idol, Donny Osmond, would also do the trick, although she’d likely pass out. If, upon introduction, she likes your first or last name, expect to see it show up in one of her novels. 

To receive Mary’s story-style devotions via email, along with quarterly author newsletter offering book-related giveaways, subscribe on her website: 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Sharing A "Made Up" Story

When our son Mike (who is now 37 years old) was a young boy, I often “made up” stories to share with him at bedtime and/or nap time. Each story was different and often, was created at the last moment. As our son placed his head on the pillow for rest, I pulled the covers up for him and watched as he began to relax.

I’m not sure if Mike remembers any of the stories. That’s okay because I remember some of them. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

What Are You Waiting For? by Pattie Frampton

The other night a friend stopped over to visit. He ended up staying for dinner and after the meal was finished, he turned to me and asked, “Pattie, when is your next book coming out?”

I didn’t have an answer, but it’s nice to be asked, and it wasn’t the first time this month. It was the third or fourth. I’d honestly lost count.

In the cycle of the first drafts, rewrites, edits, rewrites, edits, rinse and repeat, I often forget the most important element. The reader.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Back to school…like never before By Lisa Phillips

Back to school…like never before. 

Wow, this has been a crazy year, hasn’t it? I mean, it’s pretty much done at this point. Right? Right?? 

Had you told me six months ago that I would be watching a llama do math I’d probably have laughed at you. But here we are.

Early on in quarantine, my dad (in the UK) mentioned the news broadcasts there kept using the word, “unprecedented” to describe what was happening. And that word might’ve been seriously overused, but it wasn’t untrue.

After the endless summer to end all endless summers, the one that started before spring break and ended when public school started (kind of) a few weeks ago, the fight was on for “back to normal.” I have a 4th grade boy who is a steady blur of chatter and motion who wants to stay home forever and never go anywhere, and an eighth grade girl desperate for social interaction. But why settle for normal? I’ve never liked, “normal” anyway.

As soon as public school got out, we pretty quickly took the “optional” busywork and tossed it out. We rolled straight into summer skills books, and those grade level review books you get at the grocery store. Daily bike rides to walk the dog, and as much family fun as we could muster. My daughter managed to go to a youth girls retreat, and even got baptized. Our family headed to the coast for a vacation with restrictions that was still a peaceful time away. It was great…until it felt like it would never end. (The white planet at the bottom of the solar system is Pluto, because we didn’t want him to feel left out.)

Then came the call: the public school start date will be delayed another month so they can be ready. I had one child, my son, already determined to homeschool for the first time this year. I was researching and figuring out that, as I tend to do every summer just to consider all my options. Then my eighth grader jumped on the bandwagon also, to avoid online learning and all the back and forth that was bound to happen as the school district figured things out. I found her a group Spanish class with youth group friends so she can be social. All that to say…I’m now a first time homeschooler and full time writer.

So how do I do both?

Everyone’s schedule is different. Everyone’s career is different. Everyone’s life situation is different. But here are three tips to help you out if you’re finding yourself doing double-duty in this new season of back to school. Or maybe you’ve been a writer and homeschooler for a while, or a writer and a full time career person, for years and you just need a reminder.

1. Breathe.

In researching homeschooling, I’ve come across several consistent themes. Especially with the start of school. You can’t do everything at once. Don’t try to pack all your subjects into the first day. Start slowly. Let there be a transition period between the old way (in our case, school) and this new season. Something wonderful is on the horizon, but if you’re stressed you won’t enjoy it when it comes. You may even dismiss it as a distraction. Hit the essentials (math and English – and for my son, Science) and add other subjects layer by layer.

In my writing business, I crammed to finish a book at the end of August just so that I would have September open as a brainstorming, new pitch, and revision month. I have done what I could, picked up what I wanted, and maybe not achieved as much as I thought I would (or should have) but I’m constantly moving toward my goals. Baby step by baby step.

In the next couple of weeks I will start a new book, but only when I’m actually ready to start writing it. For the first time in a long time, I’m purposing not to rush myself.

2. Plan

Even if all you do is a simple list on lined paper, figure out what the kids need to achieve. Figure out what you want to work on, if you get some time. Every year I make a schedule for the next calendar year. There’s a list of things I’d like to do, and usually it’s impossible. Then there’s a “slow” schedule of things that’s the bare minimum of what I need to achieve to keep my writer business going.

Life falls somewhere between those things, in a way I’m content with what I got done and always looking for fun ways I can improve productivity. Years ago, when my kids were little, I worked during naptime. It might last fifteen minutes, or it might last three hours. I never knew. But I worked during that time, and I was grateful for it. I never did laundry, or tidied the house during my writing time. I could do those things with little kids at my feet. But writing, in the quiet time that I had, was a precious thing.

Now I write early in the morning, or during dance classes. I take the kids to Ancient Egypt exhibits and try not to have more story ideas. I write in the car at the park, or outside someone’s house waiting for the activity to end. I write early on Saturday morning, or on Sunday afternoon. Thursdays during youth group. On a walk. Watching a movie.

Whether I’m thinking about my book, making notes, or typing, it’s all moving me closer to my goal of a finished book. I can check my ads, or update my website. Format a book for the print version, or chat with readers.

(And honestly, it’s easier to have this continual stream as much as I can. Coming back to my notes or my draft cold – not remembering where I left off – is so much harder to get back into the flow.)

3. Give yourself grace

I have to remind myself this often. If I don’t, then I miss the enjoyable moments because I’m too stressed out to stop and just be present where I’m at. My life isn’t one where I can get away for hours at a time, let alone a whole day, to work on writing.

Sometimes it’s forty minutes. Sometimes it’s a two and a half hour dance class. I have grace from God to get work done, and grace from Him to rest. But what I don’t have is condemnation or guilt. Those aren’t welcome. I have far too much to do to waste time feeling sorry for myself, or getting dragged down by the enemy.

My other penname (JL Terra) isn’t going to get a lot of love this school year. I just don’t have time. Facebook drama isn’t going to get a lot of airtime. I’m going to have to be particular about what I take the time to read. What I’m writing. What series I focus on. How long my books are going to be. Because I can’t afford to spend time doing all the things, so I have to be very laser focused.

Homeschooling is hard. It’s also beautiful.

Writing books and getting paid a living wage for it is hard. It’s also beautiful in its own way, and I’m so blessed that readers enjoy what I write.

I get to spend time watching my kids be inspired by history and science. I’ve been a guest on a podcast, and I’m back here. In November I’ll be participating in a conference with Donald Maass, where I’ll get personal feedback. How crazy is that??! I’m blessed to have a group of author friends who drag me out in the evening to chat – one of whom I’m collaborating on a miniseries with.

And I’ve been so fortunate to work with fantastic authors in the Dangerous Deceptions boxed set. This set releases in just 3 weeks, and for 99c it’s a STEAL. Eight full novels you won’t want to miss.

You can find out more at

Or click on the image below to preorder this set on Amazon now. 

A British ex-pat who grew up an hour outside of London, Lisa attended Calvary Chapel Bible College where she met her husband. He's from California, but nobody's perfect. It wasn't until her Bible College graduation that she figured out she was a writer (someone told her). Since then she's discovered a penchant for high-stakes stories of mayhem and disaster where you can find made-for-each-other love that always ends in happily ever after. Lisa can be found in Idaho wearing either flip-flops or cowgirl boots, depending on the season. She leads worship with her husband at their local church. Together they have two kids and an all black Airedale known as The Dark Lord Elevator.

Grab the Polish by Sandra Ardoin

Last month, we talked about the need for an editor for your work. Afterward, I was asked to write about finding an editor and the possible costs involved, so I thought I’d concentrate on that in this month’s post.

How do I go about finding the right editor for my work?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Thoughts on Writer's Voice by Emily Wickham

“For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14, NASB 

Years ago a friend told me I was very relational. I’d never thought of that—nor have I ever forgotten. Her observation granted me insight about my God-given personality and how that shapes my approach toward others. This desire to relate well even impacts my writing. I desire to engage every reader’s mind and touch each one’s heart because the Lord fashioned me to do so. 

Writing enables me to express myself. As one who processes information slowly, I think more clearly when I write. My husband, on the other hand, can think quickly in the midst of speaking, an ability I admire. We communicate differently, but that’s okay because God uniquely designed each of us. 

While it’s appropriate to respect another person’s strengths, it’s detrimental to overlook our own. We might be tempted to imitate another writer’s style, thinking, “If I could just write like so-and-so, readers would multiply.” For instance, my sister possesses tremendous writing skills—her words stimulate the imagination and cause me to feel as though I’m within reach of the sights and sounds she describes. Her use of imagery exceeds my own. 

She’s a much better writer than I am… 

Yes, that thought has bruised me from time to time. But God has taught me the value of being me. Using my voice. Expressing my feelings and thoughts in accordance with His design of me. 

The Lord has entrusted certain strengths to each of us, which we should recognize with gratitude. I might not excel at thinking quickly in certain circumstances, and I often struggle to create images with words, but God enables me to listen well, observe beyond the surface, and offer biblical perspective. These skills translate into my writing, prompting me to pen compassionate, thoughtful pieces that implement God’s Word. 

Let’s thank the Lord for the way He made us. He knew what He was doing when He formed each of us in our mother’s womb. As Psalm 139:14 says, we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God’s works are wonderful. Do we understand His works include us? 

Be. You. 

Allow your personality and your heart to shine through the words you write. Be confident in using your God-given voice. And know that the Lord will continue to shape you along with your skills as you progress on your writing journey. 

A Writing Exercise: 

• List five aspects of your personality and explain how each one complements your writing. 
• In a few sentences, describe how your writing is unique (like you!). 
• Journal a prayer. Ask God to increase your ability to use your voice for His glory. 

I’d love to hear what you come up with! Please feel free to share below.

Allow your personality and your heart to shine through the words you write. via @emilywickhamPH @MaryAFelkins #WritersLife #Writing #SeriouslyWrite

Note: Thoughts on Writer's Voice" first appeared on April 2, 2019,

Emily Wickham seeks to stir hearts toward Jesus. She writes for LifeWay, speaks at ladies’ events, and shares “Devotions for Women” videos on social media. Emily encourages Christian women plus equips Christian writers on her blog, She is the author of one Bible study, which was translated into Spanish in 2016. Emily, a resident of North Carolina, is Mark’s wife of 30+ years. They are the blessed parents of four adult children and two daughters-in-love. God’s faithfulness and love inspire Emily on her journey through life as she purposes to exalt Christ through written and spoken words. 

Connect with Emily: 

Alcanzando la Justicia
Do you know any missionaries to Spanish-speaking women? Or, is your church involved in outreach to the Hispanic community? Emily would love to put her Bible study on Esther into their hands, and she’s willing to fundraise for this purpose. Please see her website for more information. You also can purchase Alcanzando la Justicia on Amazon.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Interview for your Characters by Patty Nicholas-Boyte

Years ago, before I even thought about writing, my late father told me about interviewing his characters. I thought that was kind of funny, but today, this is one of my most favorite things to do. As I begin a new story, and I think about who my characters are and what kind of personalities they need to have, I find an interview is one of the best ways there is to connect with the people I will be spending a lot of time with in months to come.
Bill Luellen - Patty's Dad
I find interviewing my characters is one of the best ways there is to connect with the people I will be spending a lot of time with in the months to come. The following are some of the basic interview questions I use. 
I hope you find these as helpful I do. 
  • What is your full name? 
  • Do you have a nickname (if so, who calls you this)? 
  • Where and when were you born? 
  • Who are/were your parents? (Their names, birthplaces, occupations, personalities, etc.) 
  • Do you have any siblings? If you do, what are/were they like? 
  • Where do you live now, and with whom? 
  • Describe the place (home and location) and the person/people you live with. 
  • What is your occupation? To which social class do you belong? 
  • Are you right- or left handed? 
  • What does your voice sound like? 
  • On what occasions do you lie? 
  • Do you have a motto? If so, what is it? 
  • Do you have any annoying habits, quirks, strange mannerisms, or other defining characteristics? 
  • What is your hair color and eye color? 
  • What kind of distinguishing facial features do you have? 
  • Do you have any physical traits that stand out (such as scars, birthmarks, tattoos, etc.)? 
  • If you have scars, how did you get them? 
  • If you have tattoos, why did you get them and what meaning do they have to you? 
  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
  • How would you describe your childhood? 
  • How much schooling have you had? 
  • Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities? 
  • Did you have any role models? If so, describe them and why they were your role models. 
  • How did you get along with the other members of your family? 
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? 
  • What were your favorite activities? 
  • When and where were you the happiest? 
  • Who were your friends, and what were they like? 
  • When did you have your first kiss, and who with? 
  • Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today. 
  • What do you consider the most important event of your life so far? 
  • Who has had the most influence on you? What do you consider your greatest achievement so far, why? What is your greatest regret so far, why? 
  • Has this regret formed you into the person you are today? If so, why? 
  • What is the most evil thing you have ever done so far? 
  • Do you have a criminal record? 
  • What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you so far? 
  • If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why? 
  • What is your best memory so far? 
  • Why is it so powerful and lasting? 
  • What is your worst memory so far? 
  • Why is it so powerful and lasting? 
  • What is you biggest secret? Does anyone else know about this? 
  • Which person do you least want to know about this secret, why? 
Beliefs and Opinions 
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic? 
  • What is your greatest fear? 
  • Which other person knows about this fear of yours? 
  • Who do you not want to know about this fear of yours, why? 
  • What is your greatest extravagance? 
  • What are your religious views? 
  • What are your political views? 
  • Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love? 
  • Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable? What do you measure success in? (Money, career, husband/wife, children, happiness, etc.) 
  • How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings in the company of others? 
  • Do you have any prejudices? If so, what are they and why do you have those specific prejudices? 
  • Who or what would you die for, or otherwise go to extremes for? 
Relationships With Others 
  • In general, how do you treat others (politely, as they treat you, by keeping them at a distance, with sarcasm, etc.)? 
  • Does your treatment of them change depending on how well you know them, and if so, how? 
  • How close are you to your family? 
  • Which person do you wish you were closest to? 
  • Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person in some rough strokes. 
  • Have you started your own family? If so, describe them in rough strokes. If not, do you want to start a family? Why or why not? 
  • Who is the most important person in your life, why? 
  • Who is the person you respect the most, why? Who are your friends? 
  • Do you have a best friend? 
  • What do you most value in your friends? Describe them with some basics like their personalities, how you met them, what you have in common, etc. 
  • Have you ever been in love? If so, describe in some rough strokes what happened (love at first sight, unrequited love, ended up marrying him/her, ended with heartbreak, etc.). 
  • Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help? 
  • Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who, and why? 
  • If you died or went missing, who would miss you? 
  • Who is the person you despise the most, why? 
  • Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict? 
  • Do you tend to take on leadership roles in social situations? 
  • Do you like interacting with large groups of people? Why or why not? 
  • Do you care what others think of you? Why or why not? 
Likes and Dislikes 
  • What is/are your favorite hobbies and pastimes? 
  • What is your favorite color? 
  • What is your favorite food? 
  • What is your most treasured possession? 
  • Do you like to read? If so, what do you like to read? 
  • What do you believe is good entertainment (music, movies, dance, art, etc.)? 
  • Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? How do you get the money for it? 
  • Do you want to quit? 
  • How do you spend a typical Saturday night? 
  • What makes you laugh? 
  • What shocks or offends you? 
  • What makes you happy? 
  • What makes you sad? 
  • What makes you angry? 
  • If you usually walk away from a situation that makes you angry, where do you go to calm yourself? 
  • How do you deal with stress? 
  • How do you deal with pain (physical and emotional)? 
  • Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan? 
  • What are your pet peeves? 
  • Which living person do you most despise? Why? 
  • What is the quality you most like in a man? 
  • What is the quality you most like in a woman? 
  • Where would you like to live? Why? 
  • Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted? 
  • What is your greatest strength? 
  • What is your greatest weakness? 
  • Which talent would you most like to have? Why? 
  • Do you like yourself?

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. 

Patty Nicholas-Boyte

She is a regular contributor to the Cove Blog.
Devotions are published in compilations by Lighthouse Bible Studies.

Heart Renovation a Construction Guide to Godly CharacterFeed Your Soul

Friday, September 18, 2020

There's No Place Like Home by JoAnn Durgin

A meme stating "My home is in heaven..."

There’s No Place Like Home

Who can forget the classic scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy clicks the heels of her ruby red shoes and says, “There’s no place like home”? Although Dorothy’s incantation was popularized by the 1939 film, the sentiment originated in the song, “Home, Sweet Home” (1823) in the opera Clari and introduced at London’s Covent Garden. Performed at the end of the first act, the text of the song goes like this:

“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

While the lyrics allegedly alluded to the lyricist’s homesickness, the song became an instant hit, and its popularity quickly spread throughout the English-speaking world.

Have you ever been homesick? At age twelve, I went to summer camp for the first time and was desperately homesick. In my defense, the campground was rustic and bare-bones (the name Gnawbone should give you a clue what it was like). During my first semester in college, my mom said if she’d given me a dime (the price of a phone call in those days), I’d have begged her to come “rescue” me and take me home.

In my sophomore year, I spent a semester abroad. When I turned on the news on the first Saturday in May, I burst into tears when I heard the first few notes played by a trumpeter. You see, I’d forgotten it was the day for the Kentucky Derby. Although I’ve never attended, the event takes place close to my hometown in southern Indiana. Our family moved back to the area in 2005 after living in a number of states coast-to-coast. However, I will probably always grow teary-eyed when I’m traveling by air, and the pilot announces the plane’s approach into Louisville. The region known as “Kentuckiana” has always been “home” in my heart, although it admittedly took me a few years to reach that conclusion.

Do your favorite authors give you a sense of “home” in their writing? I’m not talking about sappy and sentimental writing, although you might feel a strong tug on your emotions. Neither am I necessarily talking about making you feel immediately “comfortable” with the characters and setting (although that can be part of it). It’s possible to write any genre in an exciting, involving way that makes readers feel like they’re “home.” I’d challenge you to study the author’s style and examine how he/she combines the pivotal and necessary elements of writing—a unique writing voice, well-developed characters, a vivid setting you can feel and see (using all the senses), a great plot, and steady pacing. But there’s more.

Our favorite novels appeal to our sense of belonging. When we identify with and relate to someone or something in the novel, it draws upon our memories, sensibilities, and reaffirms our humanity and place in the world. Ideally, Christian novels glorify God and offer hope to the reader. The characters and their story touch something deep inside us that reassures us we’re not alone. And reminds us that we’re saved by grace and redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb.

It’s a high honor and privilege to write books which reflect His love for us. Let’s do our best before He calls us to our heavenly, eternal home.

Until His Nets Are Full,
Matthew 5:16

Do your favorite authors give you a sense of "home" in their writing? #seriouslywrite #tipsforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Our favorite novels appeal to our sense of belonging. #seriouslywrite #tipsforwriters via @Gr8tReads

When we identify with and relate to someone or something in the novel, it draws upon our memories, our sensibilities, and reaffirms our humanity and place in the world. #seriouslywrite #tipsforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Only a Breath Away

As the daughter of a lighting technician and a costumer, Madalina (“Madi”) Pavel grew up in the shadows of the famed Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Now 26, Madalina is the coloratura soprano understudy for the Met Opera who seeks the breakout role of a lifetime.

Julian Rhodes is the owner/manager of Harmonia, a popular Manhattan breakfast bistro frequented by the Met staff and performers. He devotes all his energies into making his restaurant a success, but when he meets the beautiful coloratura soprano, Julian begins to rethink his priorities.

Can a romantic relationship survive between a workaholic business owner and a promising opera singer? When Madalina is offered a fabulous career opportunity, their love is put to the test. Come backstage for a firsthand look into the fascinating world of the opera where stories are beautifully and passionately told through drama and song. 

Julianna Desmond is the pen name of USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin. Her books in release include the following three novels (with more to come!)—Only A Heartbeat Away, Only A Breath Away, and Only A Whisper Away. Each standalone story features a heroine with an unusual occupation and the faithful hero who can’t help but fall in love with her. Overflowing with faith, humor, and romance, the novels are a lively escape for those seeking an uplifting and lively read!

A former estate administration paralegal, JoAnn writes contemporary Christian romance full-time and lives with her family in her native southern Indiana.

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Don’t forsake assembling together by Elizabeth Goddard

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

Most of us recognize the opening lines from A Tale of Two Cites by Charles Dickens

Supposedly the beginning paragraph intends to emphasize the conflicts between good and evil. Light and darkness, wisdom and foolishness . . . you get the picture. Conflict that is nothing new to us.

I’ll add that right now it feels like we’re living in the strangest of times.

COVID-19 has turned our world upside in too many ways to mention. For those of us on the West Coast, horrific fires and hazardous air quality on top of the pandemic might make some of us feel like we’re in book 2 of an apocalyptic series. Okay, maybe I went too far with that—but truly, it’s surreal.

How To Give Your Story Legs by Patty Smith Hall

Recently, I bought myself a standing desk for the little nook in our bedroom that serves as my office. The assembly instructions seemed simple enough, and being a proficient do-it-yourselfer, I surprised myself at how quickly the first half was done.

Then I got to the legs. For almost an hour, I worked on lining the screws up, even going so far as to disassemble some pieces. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to work. In the end, I put up my tools and went downstairs to make dinner. The next morning, I went at it again, trying to line up the screws and failing miserably. Then, I had a thought. Maybe, I was looking at it from the wrong angle. So, I flipped the legs of the desk around, and guess what? The screws fell perfectly into place!

This lesson holds true for writing as well. We’ve written character charts and narrowed down the motivations that will carry our characters through the story. Maybe even plotted out the scenes, so we know what the story looks like. While all that’s good and you’re rearing to go, it’s good to take a couple of days and work on something else before you go back to your story. A new perspective will help you tighten your storyline or give you new insights into your character’s mindset. Because even as you’re ‘resting,’ your brain is at work, figuring out ways to make your work better. So how do you do this?

1. Take an afternoon and just read for pleasure. Maybe it’s a book in your To-Be-Read file or a new book you’ve been dying to get into. Whatever it is, relax and enjoy it. Reading someone else, hearing their voice and seeing how they handle certain problems with their characters will help you with your own plotting problems.

2. Do something else completely. Sometimes, the thought of reading or listening to another podcast on writing can make me feel overwhelmed and a lot like work. On those days, I do something completely different. I’ve always gotten my best ideas cleaning porcelain but if housekeeping isn’t something you like to do, then try another art form. Many writers like to knit or crochet; some make jewelry or paint. I recently bought an adult paint-by-numbers set and enjoy spending an hour in the evening, listening to music and painting. Garden is a good way to burn off energy but be creative at the same time. Working in a different art medium can help you in your writing.

3. Make your writing space personal. It’s widely known I write from my back porch spring through early fall. I love being outdoors and watching my little visitors throughout the day. It’s usually my most productive time of the year. In the winter, I’m stuck inside, either at the kitchen counter or at the side of my bed which means I’m out in the open where everyone can (and does!) interrupt me. So I seized a small nook in my bedroom and made it my own. I bought a standing desk (yes, THE desk!), brought up a rocking chair from the basement and repurposed a rug I’d bought for the kitchen. Now I have a place that will allow me some privacy to start my own podcast and a comfortable space to read and write. Knowing I have that space has me excited about writing this winter in a way I haven’t been in years.

So, take a break! Look at things from a different angle! You might be surprised just how much it will affect your writing!

A new perspective will help you tighten your storyline or give you new insights into your character’s mindset. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite


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.

To celebrate my birthday, the second book in my Bell Bomber Bride series, Hearts in Hiding is free September 14-18, then next week (September 21-25) you can get Hearts Rekindled for 0.99! It’s my birthday gift to you!

Hearts in Hiding

Engineer Edie Michaels loves her life—she has a good job, close friends, even a chance at
romance with former soldier Beau Daniels. But she could lose everything if her secret comes out…that she's the German daughter of a devoted Nazi.

And when her father sends spies to force her loyalty, everything Edie values is at risk.

Time in a Nazi POW camp changed army medic Beau Daniels. When he discovers a letter of Edie's written in German, he can't help his suspicions. Is she truly the woman he's started to love? Or has she been the enemy all along? With Nazis on Edie's trail, the pair must fight for truth, for survival—and for love.

Hearts Rekindled

"I'm here to See My Daughter."

She never thought she'd see John Davenport again. Merrilee Daniels Davenport's former husband has returned to their small Georgia town after fighting in the Pacific. And now the soldier is bearing a letter from the little girl he didn't know he had. Merrilee wishes that she and her daughter could lean on John's able shoulders, but her new assignment as a homeland informant won't allow it. 

Twelve years have only made Merrilee more beautiful in John's eyes. Back then, he was the proud fool who walked away. Now all he wants is to prove he can be the husband she deserves, and the daddy his daughter needs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Distracted Writer by Shannon Redmon

Every been smack dab in the middle of writing an amazing story scene when the dog, cat or toddler runs into your room or your wonderful partner plops down for an untimely discussion that completely rips you from the concentrated effort to be creative?

Then this post is for you.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Practicing History Without a License

Your dream to write historical fiction isn’t simply a someday choice. The passion is too strong to ignore. Give in. Don’t let it fade. Because the dream includes the following images: 

—library studies with ancient texts
Trinity College Library, Dublin
Trinity College Library, Dublin photo dune

—discovering lost and untold stories 
—late nights wrestling with historians’ opinions 
—making the past come alive through your writing 
—taking a picture as you sign a contract and posting the photo on social media 
—opening the box of books and holding your baby for the first time 
—the cover…a picture of the character you created 
—book signings where people pay money to read your creation 
—speaking gigs 

The work doesn’t scare you. Okay, yes, it's terrifying. But there's more. What’s holding you back? One hesitation might be the following question: are you qualified? 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Keep Moving Forward by J.D. Rempel

We all have days when it’s difficult to grab inspiration or focus on the task in front of us. Author J.D. Rempel knows what it’s like to feel discouraged—and encouraged. See what she has to say. ~ Dawn 

Keep Moving Forward 

In these troubling times, it’s easy to believe that we are close to the end and that Jesus may come any day. Today is the anniversary of a terrible day in our history. For the generations who were alive during those horrific events, we might have thought Jesus would be coming soon. But, that was 19 years ago, and God has shown us mercy to continue in this life to reach out to others through our ministry as writers.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Writing Through the Fog By Patti Jo Moore

Chances are, if you’ve been a writer for more than a day, you’ve experienced some less-than-ideal writing times. Even when we carefully plan out a segment of time to write, we have notes and materials ready, coffee and snacks nearby, and we’re all ready to dive into our project, unexpected happenings can (and often do) arise.

Over the summer, I knew a writing deadline was fast approaching, yet I struggled to lose myself in this project. After all, writing a story set in a mountain town in December—complete with chilly temperatures and festive decorations—is a challenge when you live in Georgia, the calendar says July, and your weather is hot and humid. Even playing Christmas music and sipping hot cocoa just didn’t convince my fingers to produce the needed amount of words. In mid-August I was excitedly planning a long-awaited family vacation (with grandbabies!) to our coast, determined I’d have my writing project finished before we left. Then, two sweet friends died unexpectedly within the same week, and I couldn’t seem to write anything. My heart was heavy as I began my vacation, but I was thankful for time with family at our most favorite place.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

How We Wrote a Multi-Author Series by A. M. Heath

Multi-author series are nothing new, but the Librarians of Willow Hollow was my first time participating in one. Thanks for giving me the chance to share my experience. I’m going to address some commonly asked questions. Maybe this will encourage you to step out into a multi-author series.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Do You Have 2020 Vision? By Marie Wells Coutu

Our eyesight is precious.

I’m writing this two days after having surgery on my right eye, and it’s given me a new appreciation for how much we rely on vision. An air bubble from the surgery is hanging around the bottom half of the eye, providing a weird darkish circle that affects everything I look at. (No worries; they tell me it will dissolve in a few days)

But this dark circle brings to mind the Apostle Paul’s comment:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Other versions translate the first part as seeing “through a dim window obscurely” or “a blurred image in a mirror.” We view our circumstances with human, flawed eyesight. We look at the trials and tribulations that have come our way this year, and we wonder at the irony: 2020 has given us anything but “2020” perfection.

And yet, God reminds us that He is in control.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Ten Tips for Writing During Stressful Times by Kimberly Rose Johnson


Kimberly Rose Johnson
Anyone else feel like creativity takes a backseat to stress sometimes? Fellow Mountain Brook Ink author Kimberly Rose Johnson is here today to share her strategies for writing, even when she's stressed. Read on! ~ Annette

I think we can all agree that writing during times of stress or uncertainty can be challenging. Yet we have deadlines and can’t stop creating content. So what do we do?

How do we create when we are distracted or unable to focus?

The following are strategies I’ve used to effectively combat lack of focus and stress.

• Turn off the TV and don’t read the news.

• Eat healthy food. It’s scientifically proven that our mood can be affected by the food we eat.

• Exercise regularly. I enjoy my stationary bike as well as walking.

• Watch movies and read books. These allow me to relax and clear my head. While reading, my mind often wanders and suddenly I have clarity with my own writing.

• Participate in an enjoyable activity. This will promote relaxation and unlock those creative juices.

• Do something nice for someone else.

• Think positive thoughts rather than focusing on the negative.

• Keep a regular sleep schedule. A rested mind is able to deal with the stress of life better.

• Find a routine and stick to it.

Tips for writing during stressful times. #amwriting @kimberlyrosejoh

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord. Are there any other control freaks out there besides me? This can be a tough verse to follow; yet I do trust Him. I have to remind myself daily to release control to Him.

Because I trust the Lord, I am able to give him the reins, but it takes a conscious effort on my part since trust in general does not come naturally for me. The key to writing during times of stress is to find effective ways to relax and free your mind to create, then write with God.

Do you have any other tips that have helped you write during times of stress?


The Sleuth's Surprise
Mary Daley has been the sheriff of Tipton County for more than two decades, but someone wants her job. When it seems circumstances can’t get more complicated, a murder happens on her watch. Had she been the intended victim?

Deputy Chief Lyle Griffin only wants Mary to be happy, but when he asks her if she’d consider retiring, it sets off a string of events and emotions that muddy their friendship.

Nancy Daley-Malone can’t believe anyone would run for sheriff against her mom. She is onboard to help run the best campaign Tipton County has ever seen until the sheriff’s opponent is murdered and Nancy’s husband joins the race. On top of that, it appears someone is out to kill her mother as well.

Can Nancy, along with the sheriff’s department, find the murderer before it’s too late? Will Lyle and Mary be able to admit their feelings for one another or will the status quo remain?



Award-winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can sign up for Kimberly's newsletter via her website at: Twitter: @kimberlyrosejoh