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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

5 Keys to Finding Your Focus

by Elizabeth Ludwig

My prayer when I first started out on this writing journey was simple—Lord, please help me to get published, and let my words touch someone’s heart.

Oh, how that prayer has changed over time! After my first book contract, I quickly discovered how unpredictable the publishing industry can be (an article for another time). The joy of holding my first published book disintegrated when I learned that the subsequent two books in the series would not be published as had been promised, and I added this line to my prayer—Lord, please help me to get published, and let my words touch someone’s heart, and let there be another contract.

Proving His love and faithfulness, God did provide another contract. I remember celebrating with thanksgiving the upcoming Christmas novella that would allow me to tell the story of my walk into adulthood. But then the book cover came, and I realized that readers would need a microscope to read the teeny-tiny letters of my name beneath the big, bold letters of the lead author, and I added this line to my prayer—Lord, please help me to get published, and let my words touch someone’s heart, and let there be another contract, and someday, Lord, let my name be the prominent one on the cover.

Since then, I’ve added many lines to that first simple prayer. Weights like good sales numbers, positive reviews, and contest awards now encumber what was once a sincere desire. God reminded me of this during a dark period of wrestling with Him over the path I was to follow. I knew I would have to refocus, and that meant developing five keys:

Key #1: Practice loving God. Everything else will follow
 I always thought there should be an eleventh commandment, and it would read something like this—Thou shalt live thy life with thanksgiving and remember the good that God has done. Later, I realized that this was a commandment and it was connected to the first and greatest—Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (NIV)

Key #2: Do like Facebook and “share”
Hello, my name is Elizabeth Ludwig, and I love facebook. There, I’ve said it. Unfortunately, things like social media, while intended to bring us closer, end up making us rivals. How can we help but be competitive when we’re doing nothing but reading about the successes of others? Still God instructs us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and follows it with a command to mourn with those who mourn. This means taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing on where our friends are.

Key #3: Take up a memorial stone
My writing journey has been filled will all sorts of highs and lows—good reviews followed by bad reviews, new contract followed by poor sales numbers, encouragement followed by discouragement. I realized it was very easy to lose my focus when the only thing I was concentrating on was the lows, but in the back of my mind was a story from the Old Testament. Remember Joshua and his instruction to the Israelites to “take up a stone”? This was to serve as a reminder to the people about God’s intervention in helping them cross the River Jordan, and it can serve as reminder today—about where He has led us and where we have yet to go.

Key #4: Remember God’s plan and cling to it
Writing a book requires quite a bit of time and a whole lot of dedication. On top of the initial commitment, writing something readers will love means pouring a good bit of myself into the work—my pain, the things I’ve learned and lived, even a smidgeon of honesty as I reveal my own personal struggles and vices. When at last the time comes to write “The End”, the finished product can feel very personal—almost like an extension of myself—which is why having a book be unsuccessful can be so excruciatingly painful. Yet God’s word says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (NKJV)

Key #5: Follow God…even if He leads you away from the one thing you thought you couldn’t live without 
Remember this saying? If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. It’s from a poem by an unknown author, and it was brought to mind recently when I was struggling to remember why I even began this writing journey in the first place. Along with all the typical highs and lows, I was facing deadlines, trying to meet promotional and marketing demands, and juggling commitments at home and work. I’m ashamed to admit, this led to an extended period of self-pity, typified by the one question repeated over and over in every situation—why? Well, God had an answer for Job when he asked that question, and He had an answer for me—you didn’t get where you are by yourself. I brought you here, I will lead you on. Follow Me.

5 Keys to Finding Your Focus by Elizabeth Ludwig (Click to Tweet)

Practice loving God. Everything else will follow~ Elizabeth Ludwig (Click to Tweet)

Remember God’s plan and cling to it~ Elizabeth Ludwig (Click to Tweet)

Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, Books One and Two in the popular Edge of Freedom series from Bethany House Publishers. Her literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Prequel to The Remnant, by Author Monte Wolverton

The Remnant by Monte Wolverton
By Monte Wolverton

On a sweltering noon in late September of 2062, Bob Day was walking south along the narrow 2nd St. NW in Washington D.C. He was on a lunch break from his job at a small Capitol Hill publisher. He had skipped breakfast that morning and he was ravenous—seriously drooling for a California Chicken Club at Hamilton’s Bar and Grill. Bob rationalized that the avocado would certainly cancel out the bacon. Not that there had been any California avocados for the last 40 years. Now they all came from Mexico or Central America—the world’s breadbasket.

Bob was well aware of the big international standoff that had been going on for a week—something about a Russian-backed coup in Mexico City, and the Pope (who was staying there in the Western Vatican) being under house arrest. The U.S. wanted the Russians out. Other nations had taken sides. Powerful warcraft with armed particle beam weapons were cruising around the skies. It all sounded nuts to Bob, and the D.C. culture made even the most earnest person jaded about such crises. And anyway, skilled diplomats and politicians were surely negotiating some kind of truce—possibly within a few blocks.

Bob pushed open the old oak door of Hamilton’s, stepped into the cool air and claimed a table. He ordered a sandwich and a Widmer Hefeweizen (still made in Oregon, but from Mexican hops, wheat and barley). While he waited, he got involved in a holovideo of an ongoing soccer game floating in the center of the room. Coup notwithstanding, Ciudad Juárez was pummeling Atlanta.

His food and drink finally came. Darn—he had let time get away from him, and he still had 50 pages to edit this afternoon. He wolfed down the Chicken Club and quaffed the beer, scanned his ID tat for the 52 dollar tab and walked out the door. This time he decided to walk south around the block and take 1st St. back to his office.

As usual, a view of the brilliant Capitol dome in the midday sun gave Bob a twinge of pride. Funny thing was, when he looked skyward, he saw what seemed to be two suns. One was the normal sun, high in the southern sky. The other was a pinpoint of rapidly intensifying light directly overhead. Then the air began to shimmer. Cars careened off the street. Pedestrians fell limp in their tracks, and with a wave of searing heat that seemed to catch the very air on fire, the capitol dome began to vaporize.

Bob’ mouth opened but no sound came out. He barely had a chance to experience horror, sadness and pain as everything, including Bob, turned to powder. Next thing he knew, he was in some kind of different place.

Prequel to The Remnant, by Author Monte Wolverton (Click to Tweet)

New Book Sneak Peek by Monte Wolverton (Click to Tweet)

Author Monte Wolverton
Monte Wolverton is an author, illustrator and syndicated editorial cartoonist. His 2014 novel, Chasing 120, won an Illumination book award. He serves on the boards of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and Plain Truth Ministries, where he is also as associate editor and contributing writer. His work has appeared frequently in MAD magazine and more recently in Washington (DC) Monthly magazine. He participated in the 2014 St.-Just-le-Martel Editorial Cartoon Festival in France, and in 2015 was invited to serve as a judge for the prestigious Xaimen International Animation Festival in China. He is an ordained minister and holds an MA from Goddard College in Vermont. Wolverton resides in his native southwest Washington State with his wife Kaye.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Backing Away From the Cliffs of Insanity

By Beth K. Vogt

Any Princess Bride aficionados reading this today? If so, when I drop the phrase, “The Cliffs of Insanity,” you’ll instantly envision the harrowing cliffs scaled by Vizzini, Inigo Montoya, and Princess Buttercup – with thanks to Fezzik – and then later climbed by The Dread Pirate Roberts.

If you’re not familiar with The Princess Bride – Gasp! – you may have read “The Cliffs of Insanity” and thought, “Oh yeah. I’m a writer. I’ve spent some time perched on the edge of those cliffs.”

I get it. Being a writer is crazy-making.

  • You bet your life on maybes, dependent on the kindness of others. Agents, editors, publishers, reviewers. And, really, their decisions determining your success have nothing to do with kindness. Publishing is business, bay-bee.
  • You balance your hopes on the seesaw of contradictions. Write your passion vs. write what the market wants. Traditional publishing vs. indie. Which do you choose?
  • You hear – and listen to – voices. There’s no ignoring the imaginary characters in your head that tell you what they’re going to do. Meanwhile, there are ever-present voices real world voices. Your boss. Your spouse. Your kids. Your friends. All demand you focus on the here and now. 
  • You face unending professional challenges. The changing world of publishing. Waiting and waiting for the longed-for yes. Accepting rejections. The mixture of joy and jealousy when a friend earns "the call." 
The craziest part? You chose this life. You're committed to this insanity, a.k.a. “the dream.” Here are a few suggestions for managing the madness:
  • Pick your mentors wisely. Writers like Poe and Hemingway battled the writing craziness by indulging in mind-altering escapes. Look elsewhere for your role models. I admire my mentors for their faith and life choices, not just their writing skills. And if you’re farther along the writing road than other writers – and you always are! – mentor to someone else.
  • Don't let all your dreams be based on maybes. I have limited control over my success as a writer. There is more to my life than writing. I'm pursuing other dreams with both short and long-term goals.
  • Choose between your passion and writing for the market. Or not. Maybe you'll be the lucky author who hits the market when your passions collide with what "they" want. (Romantic-Amish-Vampire-Time-Travel-Steampunk-with-a-moral, anyone?)
  • Jump off the seesaw. The whole "balancing the writing world with the real world" challenge? I may never master that. Sometimes my mind seems to be inhabited by shrieking eels, all screaming, "If only my husband, my kids, my friends would leave me alone, I could accomplish the more important goals!" That’s when I know it's time to shut down my computer, walk away from what I’m writing, and reconnect with family.
  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling – the good and the bad. If a wide range of emotions is good for our fictional characters, why are they bad for us? Sometimes we're conflicted: over-the-moon-happy for our friend who landed a contract and also disappointed we're not the one signing on the dotted line. That's reality. I’ve found the best way to battle jealousy is to purposely celebrate someone else’s success. Write them a note or post a “So happy for you” message on Facebook.
How do you back away from the Cliffs of Insanity? (And do you know what cliffs were featured in The Princess Bride?)

Backing Away From the Cliffs of Insanity by Beth K. Vogt (Click to Tweet)

Managing the writing madness~ Beth K. Vogt (Click to Tweet)

Being a writer is crazy-making~ Beth K. Vogt (Click to Tweet)

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” As a contemporary romance novelist, Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner and 2016 Carol Award winner for her novel Crazy Little Thing Called Love.  She was also a 2015 RITA® Finalist for her novel Somebody Like You, which was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Beth introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love, and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She continued the series in 2016 with the e-novella You Can’t Hurry Love (May) and the novel Almost Like Being in Love (June). Her novella A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Beth enjoys writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Find out more about her books at An established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth is also part of the leadership team for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Worry and the Journey to Publication

By Lindsay Harrel

Last week I was cleaning out my home office—which had slowly become the junk room in our house. I’ve been putting it off for awhile now, but with the upcoming arrival of a new baby, it had to be done. When sorting through items I’d long forgotten about, I came upon a journal from five years ago.

As I read, I discovered entries from the very beginning of my writing journey. There were some entries where I was excited to finally be pursuing this dream, one I’d held in my heart since childhood. Other entries expounded upon all the knowledge I’d been gaining through craft books, conferences, and other sources.

But then there were the entries filled with something I’ve struggled with most of my life: worry. Pages and pages full of questions and doubts. Would I ever be able to make this a reality? Would I give up after a year of trying? Would I find out I really didn’t have what it takes to be a published author?

There was one journal entry dated about six months into my journey that really stood out to me. In it, I went back and forth on whether to submit my first novel to an editor who had requested it. I agonized over that decision, fearing that if it wasn’t ready (which it wasn’t!!), I’d ruin any future chances I had in the industry—but also worrying that if I didn’t take that chance, I’d always regret it.

You guys—if I’ve learned anything, it’s that one single action can’t destroy someone’s chances at publication forever (of course, I’m not talking about something that burns bridges or is egregious, rude, or ill-mannered). Either you believe God is in this or you don’t. He has the perfect timing, the perfect path for YOU.

I saw a meme going around the Internet this month that said, “If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” Over the last five years, I’ve stood at many doors and knocked incessantly, begging them to open—to no avail. Then I worried about why they didn’t open. Was I not worthy? Had God forgotten about me? Did I unknowingly upset someone important?

Now I look back and I shake my head. The worry did me absolutely no good. The doubt didn’t help me blossom into a better writer. It only weighed me down and choked the life and energy out of me. It wasn’t until I was able to “let go and let God” have control that I was at peace in my writing journey. I put my head down and kept writing. One book. Another. Another. And another.

And then, seemingly out of the blue (though it wasn’t out of the blue for God), I received my first contract in March of this year. My debut novel, One More Song to Sing, is set to release later this week, on December 1.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine recently. She grinned and said, “Remember all that worrying you did? Guess it wasn’t necessary after all.” She was totally right. Let me tell you, I didn’t add a single moment to my life by worrying (Matthew 6:27).

Learn from my mistakes. Don’t let worry take over your journey. Fight back. Replace those ugly lies Satan is feeding you with healthy doses of the Truth.

God has the right door for you. It may not look the way you thought it would. It may take a lot longer to reach it than you wanted. But every step along this journey is one that leads you closer to your goal.

Keep fighting—and keep writing.


Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family, and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Besides writing, singing, and hanging out with family and friends, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Her debut novel, One More Song to Sing, releases December 2016. Connect with her at

Book Blurb:

More than two decades ago, Olivia Lovett left her old life behind in the red dirt of Oklahoma and forged a career in Nashville as a country music star. Now her voice is failing, forcing her to find a new dream just as the secrets of her past come knocking at the door. Long-time friend Andrew Grant agrees to partner in a new business venture—but would he stick around if he knew her whole story?

After the tragic loss of her father, twenty-one-year-old Ellie Evans headed to Nashville seeking more than just fame. For two years, she’s waitressed, strummed, and sung her way to what may finally be her big break when Olivia offers to sign her to the budding record label. More than anything, Ellie just wants to be seen: by her future fans, by Nick Perry—a fellow musician with a killer smile and kind eyes—and above all else, by the mother who abandoned her. If the spotlight never shines on her, will Ellie ever feel whole?

One More Song to Sing is a romantic drama about the power of forgiveness, second chances, and a God who never fails to see us.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Why Fiction?

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Tweet this: Why Fiction

Christian writers are often posed the questions:

“Why fiction when you could be writing nonfiction?”

“If you feel writing is a ministry, then why are you putting your time and effort into fiction?”

“A real Christian would be writing something with real sustenance, not fiction.”

When I first started writing in 1996, I swallowed my displeasure with those questions and composed a gracious response that sounded like I was playing defense for a losing team. 

Not any more. I’m proud of what I do, and I'm not ashamed of my purpose. After years of following my passion for communicating the written word through story, I simply term the individual questioning my life’s work as a “low information reader.” They mean well. 

"Isn’t nonfiction the means by which people learn how to live life to its fullest and better themselves?"

Not necessarily.

How many abused women purchase books about how to prevent a beating? Do those women reach for information on a retailer’s shelf about abused victim’s legal rights, or counseling, or finding courage in the midst of pain?

How many victims of human trafficking find freedom by asking their captor to buy them a book about overcoming trust issues or how to escape an inappropriate relationship?

How many addictions were resolved by forcing the sufferer to read a book about drug abuse?

How many marriages were saved because a woman shoved a counseling book into her husband’s face? 

How many relationships survived because a man insisted his wife read books about how to cook, clean, child care, etc?

You get the picture. 

It’s unlikely any of the above examples found solace, peace, answers, escape, or courage in a nonfiction book because they were either too frightened to be found reading it, or they simply weren’t interested. But that victim could read a novel about abuse, human trafficking, an addiction, or a failing marriage and learn how someone changed and grew into a better person. 

A novel provides hope and inspires the reader to make needed changes.

A novel is a non-threatening environment that offers sound solutions to real problems. The abuser, the captor, the addicted person, or the unfaithful spouse will not feel exposed when their victims engage in a novel. 

The writer plants the seeds of change and subtlety challengers the reader to grow beyond her own world.

If the suggestion of using story to change dire circumstances sounds familiar, then you’ve read your Bible. Jesus used stories to convict, teach, and comfort the people to whom He ministered. He orchestrated a means of entertainment through culture to reach the people of His day. Story still meets a psychological or spiritual need in 2016, and I believe story will be a means of helping people until this earth ceases to spin.

I challenge the novelist to explore the passions of her theme and premise. Don’t be afraid to tackle the tough issues with grace and truth within the pages of an excellent story.

Now I ask you: Why do you write fiction?

Tweet this: Why Fiction?


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hey, Maybe It’s Time To Move On…

by Rachel Hauck
While everyone is in the throws of NaNoWriMo, some times we have to pause and take stock of where we are in our current WIP. Some of you… it’s time to move on.
“How do I know when it’s time to move on from a story I’ve been working on for so long?”
Great question! I worked on my first book for two years. I tell you, it discouraged me because I wondered how I could ever make any kind of living if writing took so long!
But it was my learning book and at least half of those two years were spent with me editing the book from a complicated, multi-plot story to a straight up romance.
I sent it out and received rejections. It was in the late ‘90s and there weren’t many options, but the doors I knocked on replied, “No thank you.”
By then, I was tired of the book. I didn’t know what else to do with it. It was time to move on.
Another idea came to me while sitting at a high school football game and I got to work on that right away. It was fresh, fun, alive in my heart.
I also changed my strategy. I decided to write a Heartsong Presents. With the first book, I tried for a Bethany House WWII saga. Rightfully, they turned me down.
So for my skill level, maybe a smaller, more focused story – romance – was the answer.
That story became my first published novel! In e-format. Yep, I sold it to an e-publisher.
By now, the Lord had connected me with a published Heartsong author and we collaborated together to create the Lambert series.
So, I was on my way.
The first book slept peacefully in my closet. Later, when I needed parts of a novel for Love Starts With Elle hero, Heath McCord, I pulled from that book.
So, where are you with your novel? Is it your first? Your fifth? Tenth? Are you struggling to keep going? Do you have vision or a passion for the story?
Is it time to move on?
Here’s some guidelines for sticking with a story:
  1. Good feedback from editors, agents or other knowledgeable writers?
  2. Your vision and passion remains high for the story.
  3. You can see clearly how to improve the manuscript.
  4. You’ve not rewritten it so many times – based on feedback – you can see the original heart of the story.
  5. You final in contests or get manuscript requests from editors or agents.

Here’s when you need to move on from a story:
  1. You’ve changed it so many times – based on feedback – you don’t recognize the original vision.
  2. You’re heart and passion for the story couldn’t fill a thimble.
  3. You have no idea how to improve the manuscript. If you have an idea, you’re not sure you want to do it.
  4. It’s been rejected by everyone you’ve submitted to and your mentors are suggesting a new, fresh idea.
  5. Your contest scores indicate you have a long way to go.
  6. You’ve learned much more about the business and know your book will not readily fit into the current market. That’s cool! Move on.
There are stories all over the map about the publication journey. Author Tamera Alexander worked on her first book for four years before it got published. On the other hand, author Jill Eileen Smith had ten or more closet manuscripts gathered up over twenty years.
Charles Martin had 120+ rejections before he sold The Dead Don’t Dance. Susan Warren wrote four or five novels before she sold a novella to Tyndale. When they asked her, “What else do you have?” She pulled out and polished those closet manuscripts.
There’s no end to possibilities. To closed and opened doors.
What is God saying about the book that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? It’s okay to put it away and start over.
Here’s what I find on a rewrite – when I try to edit what I’ve already written, I tend to stick with that story and accept the weaknesses. But when I start over from scratch, I craft the story with stronger elements. I work through the weaknesses. The story isn’t as fun or flowing as the first draft because I’m actually thinking through and working out the problems.
So often, when trying to rewrite or improve a first novel, or a well-rejected novel, we can’t see what really needs to be changed to make the manuscript sellable.
If that’s where you are, start over. Sometimes we don’t want to start over because we don’t want to wait for publication. But it could be on the first or rewritten-rejected manuscript, we could find ourselves waiting forever.
Only you can determine if it’s time to set a manuscript aside, but if you do, do so with confidence and give your whole heart to your next work!
Happy Writing.

New York Times & USA Today best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She is on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship for their annual conference. In 2013 she was named ACFW's Mentor of the Year. She lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat. Read more about Rachel at

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Historical Accuracy in Novels

By Peter Leavell

Herodotus’s Third Law—for every historian, there is an equal and opposite historian.

There’s no record that Herodotus wrote such sage wisdom, but I’m sure I’ll come across it soon.

How important are historical facts in novels?

Two extremes:

Tossing history through a black hole because the past doesn’t fit your plot.

You can’t simply disregard history as some sort of nuisance just because it doesn’t fit the plot. For goodness sake, if Henry VIII switches on the light, you’re in the wrong genre. When Genghis Khan paused at the taco shack on Tuesday to get his salsa fix, you did it all wrong. And Susan B. Anthony didn’t squeeze into skinny jeans, did she?

Stymied completely by making sure every nuance, every word, every fire lit actually happened.

I know a writer who started looking for small Nebraska town’s train schedules from 1905 to accurately portray historical fact, aka, the train will pull in on such and such a time. She started at age 26 and I met her at age 45. And she’d just found her holy grail! She actually found a brochure—copied into the internet—and saw the train arrives in that small town at 4:37PM. She could finally move on with her manuscript…until I asked if the train was late that day. She went into concussion.

Tips on historical accuracy:

History is the pathway from which all we know has come. Explanations for who we are and why we do what we do can be found by studying the past. Staying true to events, known events chronicled by participants, is important, because misrepresentation of the past might change how we proceed with out future. However, the leeway the writer has is picking who to listen to when those chronicles differ. How many stories have been written of John F. Kennedy’s assassination? Everyone picks a specific eye witness chronicler and runs with a fresh version of the story. If you chose to write that the FBI was behind the assassination, then the reader will come away with possible undeserved distaste for the FBI. Be careful.

Don’t lose the main plot in details, ever. John F. Kennedy’s death is sometimes overlooked by the thrilling theories behind the assassination. A man dying is the heart of the story. An important man. The characters need to be drawn back periodically to the main point, like a ship orbiting earth’s gravity.

The political setting of every historical novel is important. A story with John F. Kennedy would miss so much if the writer didn’t research détente, mutually assured destruction, and Catholic phobias of the day. Those tidbits draw out how we came to be the way we are today. Historical romance that incorporates the free spirited heart of the cowboy fenced in by closing ranges and barbed wire adds a new level of emotional tension. How characters reacted to those political tensions can be found in diaries and interviews. You must use your imagination to picture what your characters might do under those circumstances and overlay them into the character.

Instruments used in the past give the story verisimilitude. Knowing they had electricity in the 1960’s can add a nice little historical element. Is the story lost if you can’t find out if electricity existed in the ‘60’s? No. Imagination and writer’s tricks can solve the problem. But before my dad strangles me about ‘did you have electricity when you were a kid, dad?’ we must admit that root beer in the 1960’s was probably more amazing than today. But characters don’t say, ‘oh my, this root beer is far better than they will have in 1999.’ They simply like what they like.

Peter Leavell
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Celebrating The True Meaning of Christmas

By Yvonne Lehman

CHRISTMAS - What makes Christmas special? Decorations, carols, food, gifts, and time spent with those we love can certainly create a memorable legacy. But for Christians, Christmas is about more than personal tradition.

RECOGNIZE - It’s the day set aside to recognize the event that changed everything. It’s the celebration of the birth of Christ.

SEARCH - When the Magi recognized a star – a sign hidden in plain sight – as evidence of the birth of the Messiah, they went in search of him.

ENCOURAGE - In this third installment of Christmas Moments, 55 authors hope their stories will encourage others to recognize the evidence of Christ often hidden in plain sight in their own lives, and seek him not only at Christmas, but throughout the entire year.

BLESS - I am blessed and thrilled to share with readers and writers another Moments book that inspires, delights, changes lives, and gives opportunity for contributors to share their innermost feelings and personal stories.

CELEBRATE - In this seventh book in the Moments series, ADDITIONAL CHRISTMAS MOMENTS has 67 stories celebrating the True Spirit of Christmas.

SHARE - These stories in the series of Divine Moments books are written by multi-published and first-time-published authors who generously share their experiences without compensation, but with the joy of knowing all the royalties go to Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1970, that organization has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through his son, Jesus Christ.

CONTRIBUTE - Contributors are: Cathy Ancewicz, Carolyn Barnum, Robin Bayne, Debby Bellingham, Charlotte Burkholder, Janet Campbell, LeAnn Campbell, Rebecca Carpenter, Autumn Conley Maresa DePuy, Sharon Dobbs, Susan Dollyhigh, Kristin Dossett, Terri Elders, Susan Engebrecht, Bonnie Mae Evans, Dorothy Floyd, Gayle Fraser, Janice Garey, Tommy Gilmore III, Jean Hall, Kristen Harmon, Kay Harper, Lydia Harris, Lori Hatcher, Karen Hessen, Helen Hoover, Terri Kelly, Nancy Kopp, Luke Lehman, David Lehman, Yvonne Lehman, Diana Leagh Matthews, Beverly McKinney, Mary McQueen, Norma Mezoe, Julie Miller, Lynn Mosher, Vicki Moss, Marilyn Nutter, Diana Owens, Colleen Reece, Alisha Ritchie, Robert Robeson, David Russell, Toni Sample, Beverly Sce, June Schmidt, Annmarie Tait, Donn Taylor, Denise Valuk, Jen Waldron, Barbara Wells, Kathy Whirity, Debra DuPree Williams.

Other books in this series are Divine Moments, Christmas Moments, Spoken Moments, Precious Precocious Moments, More Christmas Moments. Loving Moments is scheduled for early 2017. I am now receiving submissions for:
1.      Coola-nary Moments – stories of culinary mishaps, extraordinary cooking stories, and recipes
2.      Romantic Moments – love stories, dating, falling in love, marriage, weddings, bridesmaids, lost love, etc. etc.
3.      Questionable Moments – based on authors’ response to questions asked by God/Jesus in the Bible, or implied, such as: “Where are you?” “Where are you going?” “Do you love me?” “Do you believe?” etc.
4.      Merry Christmas Moments (Book #4) – for 2017

If you would like to share an experience, contact me at


Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 Reasons to Keep Writing

by Lisa Jordan 

NaNoWriMo is winding down. Many of you may be writing strong closing in on that word count. Some of you may have stopped. Others may want to continue, but you’re discouraged.

So what’s holding you back?




Novelist E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Sometimes even seeing beyond the dashboard can be a challenge. So I’m giving you five reasons why you need to keep writing.

1. You have a dream. Cinderella sang, “A dream is a wish the heart makes.” If you’re like the majority of writers I know, you have a dream. A dream to be a writer. In order to fulfill that dream, you need to write.

2. You were created for this. God instilled the desire to write within you. He gave you the ability to create characters, come up with plots and put them together in a story to share with others. He did not say you have to go it alone. He didn’t give you this dream to take it away.

3. You have a voice. Like your handwriting or fingerprints, your writer’s voice is unique. You can learn the craft alongside your peers, but only you can write the same story in your voice. As literary agent Sandra Bishop says, “Voice is your personality on the page.” It’s how your characters are defined, how they speak, how you describe your storyworld, how you plot—that’s all about your voice. Keep writing to allow your Voice to be heard.

4. No one else will do it for you—unlike running the dishwasher, gassing up your car or folding your laundry, no one can write a book for you. Okay, yes, ghostwriters can, but those words aren’t yours. Your head is full of characters begging to be released onto the page. Give your head a rest and let your characters have their say. ;)

5. Personal satisfaction. Do it for yourself—if you stop writing, will it affect your family? Will your friends stop talking to you? Will time stand still? Most likely not. However, if you stop, how will you feel? Only you can answer that question. Believe in yourself and your abilities. You can do this.

Author Phyllis Whitney said, “You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.”

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of writing novels. She tried and tried, but at times, wondered what was the point? Ten years ago, she challenged herself to attempt NaNoWriMo. In thirty days, she wrote a novel. A bad novel, but she still did it. She proved to herself she could do it. Two weeks later, her husband bought her a laptop since he realized this writing thing wasn’t going away.

She studied the craft, wrote, revised, screamed in frustration, deleted, quit for a day or two, joined My Book Therapy, revised, wrote and finally entered another contest, which became a turning point in her writing journey. She finaled and scored a top-notch agent who eventually sold her novel to the publisher of her choice. That NaNoWriMo manuscript released in August as her fifth published novel. She’s been where you are. She knows your pain. She believes you can do this.


5 Reasons to Keep Writing by Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of writing novels~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at

Monday, November 21, 2016

Eight Lies Your Character Might Believe

By Pamela S. Meyers

One of the eye-opening things I learned after I began writing fiction was that most people—if not all—believe certain lies about themselves. If you write in Deep POV, assigning one of the lies to your POV character is a sure-fire way of taking your readers deep into the whys and wherefores of the character as the storyline develops.

I recently Googled “lies people believe about themselves” and came up with a couple lists that cite ten lies. Then, someone gave me a list of eight lies from a psychology-related university study, and that list is below. I think most of us can look at these characteristics and find themselves--perhaps not believing the lie now, but have believed it in the past. People can and do stop believing the lie as they grow and learn more about themselves and their circumstances. I'm living proof of that, but I'll spare you the details. Authors should strive for to determine their characters' lies while developing the character arc for their heroine or hero. It's so much easier to work it into the first draft rather than later when you are on the umpteenth draft. 
 Here’s the list. 

  1. I'm a disappointment.
  2. I'm not good enough (this is a very strong lie, often used for men and strong female leads)
  3. I'm not enough – or defective (similar to #1, but not exactly the same)
  4. I'm too much to handle and will get rejected. 
  5. It's all my fault. 
  6. I'm helpless – powerless to fix (this leads to a fear of being controlled).
  7. I'm unwanted
  8. I'm bad (which could possibly be used as a symptom or excuse for another lie) 

When I’m developing characters for a new story I keep this list handy and as their backstories present themselves, I search for these hidden lies.

A while back I wrote a story called Love Will Find a Way. It’s no longer available except for used copies on the Internet, but I plan to republish it under a different title after I’ve edited the story and deepened the characters.

Included in the story is a friend of April Love, the heroine. Lonnie shows up without warning on April’s doorstep. A relatively new widow, she’d recently walked out on her job as a sous chef and began traveling north from Georgia on her Harley and ended up in Wisconsin. April senses Lonnie is troubled and it involves something more than grieving her husband’s death.

Lonnie believes that the motorcycle accident that caused her husband’s death is her fault and hopes running away from the weight of that guilt will make her feel better. But the guilt came right with her. A reasonable person can see that she had nothing to do with the accident which took place miles away from where Lonnie was at the time, yet she believes the accident was her fault. Here’s what I wrote while developing Lonnie’s story. I free-write my storyline and backstories before I write the actual scenes and this is how that looks.

What if Lonnie feels Keith’s accident is her fault. That the accident happened because he was on his way to do something that she didn’t do. If she’d done it, he wouldn’t have been on the road at the time the guy cut him off and sent him flying off the road and hitting the bridge head-on.
People have tried to convince her it was not her fault. That she had every good reason to not have done what she didn’t do, but she can’t let go of the guilt and along with that, the grief of losing him in a senseless accident. She’s directed her anger onto herself and not even at the guy who caused the accident.
Unable to handle this and unable to focus on her work, she quit her job, thinking that leaving Atlanta and going somewhere else will fix it.

Susan May Warren talks about another element related to showing the lie in her new book on craft called The Story Equation. Not only do we need to know the lie our character believes, but what the wound is that started the lie.  In other words, something had to have happened a long time before Lonnie’s husband’s death that caused her to think so irrationally. And that’s what I need to explore before I rewrite the scene.

Have you been employing the lies your characters believe about themselves? If not,  why not go to your current WIP and work that element into the story? You may be surprised at the results. Please share your thoughts in the comments!


A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Her novella. What Lies Ahead, is part of a novella collection, The Bucket List Dare, which is now available at Amazon in both print and Kindle formats. Second Chance Love from Bling!, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, will release in January 2017. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.