Thursday, October 04, 2012


In the summer of 2000 I first got the "bug" to write a novel. Of course, I didn't start out thinking, hey, I'm going to write a novel. No, I started out thinking, hmm, let's see if I can write the first page. (That's how most novels begin.)

Back then, I knew nothing about font size, spacing, how to set a paragraph or do page numbers. Word processing meant nothing to me. However, I did know how to type, so, I sat down at my computer and my passion was born! God did plant a deep love for reading in my heart at a young age, but I didn't know He'd also planted a seed of passion for writing until much later in life - age 52 to be exact! It's rather ironic I think that 12 years ago I began this writing journey, and JUST TODAY my 12th PUBLISHED BOOK released and is hopefully filling store shelves even as we speak.

Listen, if I could tell you just one thing about walking a Christian life it would be this: Living for Christ is EXCITING! I'm not kidding! Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." What a promise, my precious friends. God makes a pledge to us that if we place our full hope and trust in Him He will NOT fail us. He has plans for you. You've all heard the phrase, God has a wonderful plan for your life. Well, I beg to differ. He doesn't have "A" plan, He has MANY plans. I'm coming down the hill (sort of fast) on the second half of my life, and I'm here to tell you that God isn't anywhere near done with me yet, not as far as I know anyway.

Do you trust Him with all of your life? Do you want to know what His next steps are for you? Are you standing in the window watching with expectant eyes - waiting for Him to round the bend, come up the drive, knock on your door, and give you your next life assignment? Do you have a willing heart for whatever that might be? If all of the above resonates with you, then get ready because HE HAS PLANS FOR YOU - plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Step out in faith and watch, wait, listen...and obey! THE LORD OUR GOD IS FAITHFUL TO COMPLETE WHATEVER IT IS HE HAS BEGUN IN YOU. He is a good and faithful Father.

Now, just because you were so sweet to indulge me by reading this sermon, ur, blog, I'm going to give you a chance to win my newest release, Sofia's Secret. All you have to do is make a short comment below. Easy-peasy. It can be as short as "Hi! Enter me in the contest." Or it could be something like, "Hey, you're awesome. Can I send you a pie a month?" Ha. Just kidding. Sort of.

Anyway, I'm going to give away THREE copies!!! So, yep, three blessed winners will be receiving a signed copy in the mail! I'll draw three names from a hat on...

READY. SET. GO! Leave a comment. Now. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


For many, editing is their least favorite aspect of writing. I’m probably the weirdo in the bunch because it’s one of my favorites. I love the rereading, revamping, revising, reviewing, reconstructing, rewriting, re-, re-, re-, but perhaps the hardest “re-” of all for me is relinquishing. No writer ever feels quite “done”, but there comes a time to move on to your next project. In fact, a couple of years ago, I penned a poem on this very topic, and here it is:

Inside This Writer’s Head…

The second draft, oh what a blast!
The editing is here at last!
Crossing ‘t’s, dotting ‘i’s,
Reread, rewrite, rethink, revise.

The road to “Finish” takes awhile,
Research, outlines, setting, style,
Files full of worthless news,
Stuff I’ll never even use!

All this for that first, sweet copy,
Who cares if it’s a wee bit sloppy?
Because—guess what— no need to whine,
The editing will make it shine!

Some writers really hate this phase,
Fine-tune, tighten, trim, rephrase.
But me? I find it sheer delight
It means the end is within sight.

I approach it with an eye for fun,
Remembering it’s almost done.
And, then, I’ll finally stop my stewing.
But wait! Another story’s brewing!

Everybody’s looking for a shortcut. When you’re traveling from one place to another you want to know the shortest route, but sometimes taking the shortest route can lead you into unfamiliar territory—which can also lead to roadblocks—which ultimately slow the process even more. It’s best to know where you’re heading and how best to get there, even if it takes a little longer. This will mean researching the market, learning who publishes the genre you write, and what types of stories they’re looking to publish. Don’t send your work of fiction to a house that only publishes Bible studies. Read their requirements for submission then follow them. You’ll find them on their websites. If I could recommend just one book on this very topic, it would be The Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Here is a resource book that will teach you everything you ever needed or wanted to know about how the publishing industry works.

SO, YOU’VE COMPLETED your first novel—or maybe even your second and third! And you’ve gained enough confidence to start submitting your work to an agent or directly to a publisher. (Again, know the publisher you want to submit to and note their requirements pertaining to solicited and unsolicited materials. Many houses will not accept your manuscript without an agent’s recommendation.)

Remember that seed we talked about nurturing? God planted it, but it’s your job to bring it to fruition. If you never water, feed, or care for it, it will wither away and never amount to anything. CARE FOR THAT GIFT OF PASSION GOD PLANTED IN YOUR HEART – and then WATCH IT GROW!

***Thank you for coming with me on this writer's journey. Be on the lookout for an upcoming session on "character development"!

Enjoy your journey, and make it count for God's glory and honor!***

Monday, October 01, 2012


7. READ, READ, READ! (And not always in your genre.)
WHEN I FIRST acquired the bug for writing, I couldn’t read enough about honing my craft! I read books on writing fiction, how to publish your first novel, books on punctuation and grammar, books about the publishing industry itself, and my library grew to the point that my husband had to build more shelves. And that doesn’t even include the books I purchased pertaining to my story plots and themes.

Abbie Ann, the third in my Daughters of Jacob Kane series is about sailing and shipbuilding in the early 1900s, so I went in search of books about shipbuilding and sailing and bought a huge volume called Seamanship and Small Boat Handling. I think it’s about five inches thick, not to mention heavy. And when I wrote Maggie Rose, the second in that series, I had to find books about the orphan trains that ran for 75 years beginning in the mid-1800s. Most of my series are historical, so I have books about 19th Century clothing, Everyday Life in the 1800s, and I even have a book about the origin of hymns because if I write a church service into one of my scenes set in, say, 1850, I can’t have my congregation singing, My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine...because the writer of that old hymn, William R. Featherston, would’ve only been four-years-old at the time, and while he did write the poem at the ripe age of 16, it didn’t appear in The London Book of Hymns till the year 1864. So, beware, somewhere out there in the Kingdom of Readerdom there will be a reader or two who will catch a mistake like that and say, “Hmm, this author isn’t very versed on her facts. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing any more of her books.”

UGH! DID I just say, “Do your homework!”? I don’t know about you, but that word conjures up a whole slew of bad memories! Let’s change that to research. Research can be whatever you make of it, pleasant, unpleasant, interesting, grueling, time-consuming or, well, time consuming, fun or plain old hard work. The fact of the matter is whether you enjoy it or not, you can’t get around it, so live with it! In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Our readers are not dumb; they are well read, well versed, intelligent, and sometimes, dare I say it, critical to the point of hurtful. But we learn from them; they teach us through their critiques and reviews when we’ve messed up. Yes, we write fiction, but that doesn’t give us license to change historical facts. So, in whatever era you happen to be writing, be sure you know who the president of the United States is/was, whether it was an election year, and whether something significant happened in that timeframe that would affect your story. If you’re writing in a contemporary genre, then know the lingo, stay up with the newest, latest and greatest fads and trends, know what’s happening in current affairs, not that you have to address politics per se, but if you want to keep your audience engaged you have to write from a contemporary viewpoint. This is one reason I enjoy writing historical fiction. At 64, I’m having a tough enough time learning to hit the right keys while texting, let alone write about everything else going on in the world of technology.

AND, YES, I do mean for Heaven’s sake, because if you are called by God to write, then it is your responsibility to persevere.

I may have a passion for writing, but that doesn’t mean I wake up every morning and say, “Oh, goody, I get to write today! Yea!” No, some days I crawl out of bed and think to myself, I’d rather go catch snakes than write a single stinking word today. Of course, that’s a huge exaggeration, but you get the idea. Some days are like that. I tell myself I don’t have an ounce of creativity in me, I’m not especially motivated, I lack inspiration, and I’m feeling downright lazy. The thing is, when that happens there’s usually a reason behind it. You either do truly need to take a day off, or you’ve hit a great big roadblock that needs addressing. Maybe you’re stuck and can’t figure out where to go next, so instead of writing your way out of that tough spot, you quit for several days and tell yourself you’re “thinking”. By the time you finally get back to your computer, you’re no further ahead of the game than you were when you quit. Some call it writer’s block, some call it hitting a wall, and some call it brain freeze. Here’s what I call it – are you ready for this? A big – fat – excuse! When I find myself in that position, what helps the most is talking to someone. Brainstorming is an awesome way to pull one’s self out of a hole. Go over that scene you’re struggling to complete with your spouse, your best friend, a family member, or a fellow writer. Few people can write, but lots of people have great ideas! Don’t quit! Quitting leads to discouragement, discouragement leads to despair, and before you know it, you’ve lost your momentum. Don’t let that happen. Remember, you’re called to write, so persevere – all the way to the end! I ran across a quote just the other day that said this: Write from your heart; write from your soul; make the most of your talent, and don’t ever let it go – not for anything!

***Be sure to check back on Wednesday, October 3 for the fourth and final installment in this series of lessons***