Friday, January 30, 2015

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is perhaps best known for her book The Girl With the Pearl Earring, about the girl in the famous painting by the same name. Her latest book, The Last Runaway, also combines memorable characters and a fictional story weaved with historical detail.

The story centers on an English Quaker girl named Honor who is involved in the Underground Railroad. She leaves bread and food for the slaves running to freedom, but it is dangerous because it’s against the law, and people have been fined, jailed, and lost their homes for helping the slaves.

When reading books like this, I’m always struck by how few choices women had back then. They were at the mercy of men and society, and this story is no different. Honor comes to America with her sister and shortly after arriving here her much more outgoing sister dies. Honor is forced to figure out her own path, and this restlessness mimicked the American spirit to me.

The women characters are especially strong in this book, and the details on quilting will be of particular interest to anyone who does needlework today. I think this is good read for a book club discussion or just for enjoyment. 

Cherie Burbach has written for, NBC/Universal,, and more. Visit her website,

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Candy Crush Writing Life

A Candy Crush Writing Life
Google Free Images
I had to delete if from all my devices. Candy Crush is an addicting game, and besides, I’m stuck on Level 161. I refuse to buy any boosts (although I have done it in the past). If I was going to get any work done, it had to go. Okay, I retrieved it from the cloud over the holidays. Don’t get me started on Trivia Crack. It has to go, too.
     This article isn’t about the evils of distractions in the writing life, although computer games probably rank right up there on the list of procrastinations. Actually I played Candy Crush so much over the frozen West Texas New Year that I woke up thinking about those little colored balls. My half asleep, half awake state of mind formed an idea, as it often does in the early morning.
Combine three alike and you crush. Crush all required combinations and you advance to the next level. Somewhere in my mind the idea that writing, editing, and submitting are a combination that crushes publication obstacles. We can’t submit something that hasn’t been written, right? Consistent, daily stretching of the writing muscle, combined with editing, self or otherwise, and then submitting will eventually advance us to the next level. Thinking about it won’t. Learning from that process (rejections, rewrites) reminds me of how in the more “mature” levels of Candy Crush, I always fail on the first few tries of a new level. Trying again and again usually garners advancement.
     Ah, how I love those special characters. Combine four or five of the same color and you get a super boost that accomplishes the ultimate Candy Crush experience. Isn’t it true that if we add prayer, faith, and trust to our hard work and consistency then we have something really special? A no fail combination, because what we put into the Lord’s hands will accomplish His goals for us, even if we don’t see it. 
     I realize as I watch the ice slip off the tree out my kitchen window, that 2014 was a bit frozen for me in my writing career. My work after that initial debut novel has not found its place in publication yet. It encourages me to know that putting the whole thing in the hands of my Father for 2015 means that none of it is wasted. I will just keep combining prayer, faith, and trust, with consistent writing, editing and submitting. I know the obstacles will fall. 
     God bless all our readers, and Happy New Year!
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Share and (Don't) Share Alike

Most authors have someone--usually a few someones--they share their work with pre-publication. Typically, they fill the need for beta readers, last minute editors, and the like.

For me, I tend to be a bit neurotic. I like having feedback, but I've always been adamant about one thing: I don't share my work with family. Now, there are a lot of reasons behind this. And in talking to other writers, I've found my reasoning is pretty sound. A lot of writers do share with their loved ones before they publish, but a lot don't.

Reasons not to do so are myriad, and depend entirely on the person, but they may include:
Photo by Sybren Stüvel
  • No one reads the genre you write.
  • Your family doesn't generally read period.
  • They're not familiar enough with grammar or story to be able to give good feedback.
  • They are too judgmental and would be too critical.
  • Fear of gossip.
  • A belief they're doing so only to be nice, and any feedback given would not be very helpful.
  • A belief that you yourself would be mad at the person if they said no.
Now, this is, of course, not going to be everyone. I know plenty of writers whose biggest cheerleaders are their own families. For me, my family doesn't typically read mystery/science fiction books, so it's just safer for me to not bother. My husband isn't a big reader to begin with, so him even reading one of my books would be a form of torture (for him), although with audio books, maybe he'll be able to read them one day.

Of course, then there's the other factor--after publication, your book is out there for anyone to buy. Including your family. That can be just as nerve-wracking, especially if you write darker stories or about bad situations, as I do. The day I wrote this post, my grandmother, who is 91, told me she wanted to read my book as soon as it's in print (still only have it in e-book form as of this writing). I inwardly grimaced, even as I found my mouth was telling her I'd get her a copy as soon as it was available. But, Grandma, I write about murder! And government conspiracies! And I sometimes use foul language! And I have no problem having some heavy sensuality in some of my scenes!

Yeah, I know she's been around the block. She was married for nearly 70 years before my grandfather died. And she knows I'm not a kid anymore (I hope. I really sincerely hope that.) But for the slightly neurotic author, sharing that utterly dark part of yourself with your loved ones can be scary.

At least after publication, they can't very easily convince you to change something that's in the book, now can they?

Question for you: Have you ever used a family member as a beta reader? If so, how did that go? Would you do it again?


Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador. She is the author of Emergence and Retaliation, novellas in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.

She blogs sporadically at
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review Sci fi, time travel, historical? The Land Uncharted, Keely Brooke Keith

Keely Brooke Keith
Edenbrooke Press
October, 2014

3.99 ebook

From the Publisher:

Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, a landmass in the South Atlantic Ocean undetectable to the outside world. When injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw's parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans, her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society. As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia's attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.

My Review:
Reading The Land Uncharted is a curious mix of awe, curiosity, and fear both for the characters and the promised sequels.

Because the reader is meant to be drawn into this curious world slowly, I won’t give away much of the story, so bear with me as I try to tell you about it without actually telling you…about it.
A man falls washes on shore of a definitely not-deserted island. Connor Bradshaw is a military pilot on a failed mission somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. The woman, Lydia Colburn, who comes across him also happens to be the local doctor. As Connor heals from his injuries under the care of this remarkable woman and her family, he realizes the Colburns could be the family he’s always been missing.

When circumstances make it seem Connor cannot return home, he goes about settling in and making himself at home in this intriguing society, descended from families who set out to establish a society of their own.

Connor bears a huge responsibility whether to share a crucial secret that may change this idyllic community or save it. However, all is not completely well in Good Springs, either, as Connor slowly learns.

Keith has created a unique story with several intriguing twists and turns that will keep the reader turning pages, wondering what will happen. It’s not easy creating a society basically from scratch. There are the unusual circumstances of melding faith and culture, setting up profession and trade, and dealing with those who don’t subscribe to life as they know it.

The Land Uncharted is a romantic read, creative, but left me with more questions than answers. I admit to being not wholly satisfied with how some of the circumstances carried out, though Lydia is a woman I’d love for a friend, as well as her Aunt Lillian. Keith offered me a copy for review purposes. I’ll be looking for the following books.

About the Author:
Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely Brooke Keith was a tree-climbing, baseball-loving '80s kid. She grew up in a family who frequently relocated. By graduation, Keely lived in 8 states and attended 14 schools. Keely's many adventures include: being an exchange student, recording with a former Beatles producer, being chased through the New Mexico desert by a rattlesnake, jumping out of an airplane at 14,500 feet, and sleeping under the open sky in the Australian outback.

Keely is a bass guitarist and plays on worship teams and for solo artists. She is married to singer/songwriter John Martin Keith, and they frequently perform and tour together. When she isn't writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview with Marketing Director, Pamela Thibodeaux

Pamela Thibodeaux is one busy lady. She is a multipublished author of romance and creative nonfiction, the former owner and current ad sales director for the ezine, TWJ Magazine, the marketing associate for Pelican Book Group, and the founder/member of The Bayou Writer's Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Pam is quite familiar with the world of publishing.

I invited her here to give us a few tidbits about marketing. I hope you find her responses helpful.
Tell us about TWJ? How is it doing?

TWJ began in 2011, but I was not the founder. I was (at that time too) the Ad Sales Director. I purchased the magazine in 2012 and owned it for about a year-and-a-half before it grew so fast that I couldn’t maintain it alone. (Funny how God brought me full circle with that, huh?)

Our newsletter goes out to over 3000 contacts monthly, we have 6000+ likes on our Facebook page, plus Twitter (1200+), LinkedIn (500+), and Goodreads (900+). And our reach is growing steadily.

What is your favorite marketing tool?

A publicist! LOL! Seriously, I love creating tweets but other than that, I don’t have a favorite marketing tool. I simply do my best at what I know to do….tweet, FaceBook posts, blog spots, and interviews, etc., then trust God to do the rest.

Do you think buying ads in online and print magazines is worth the money?

I believe any advertising you can afford to do is worth the money. Statistics show a person has to see a product seven times before it even registers that they’ve heard about it before. That said, I don’t advocate going into debt buying ads, but when you can afford, yes, advertise any place and every where you can and get your name and/or brand out there!

What do you think of Facebook parties? Are they successful? Is there a way to measure their success?

I guess that all depends on the individual’s definition of success. Anytime you can garner name recognition, attract and engage readers and/or potential readers, and increase awareness of who you are and what you write, it’s a good thing.

Here’s the rub though: If you are basing the success of your advertising against sales and/or royalties, stop! I’ve been the Marketing Associate for PBG for a couple of years now and engaged in self promotion for more than a decade, and I can tell you this: What works for one author/book may not work for another. There is no cut and dried formula to ensure the success of any book/author. The key is consistency. Pick your poison, stick with it, and trust God to get your book(s) into the hands of those who most need its message.

Tell us about Circles of Fate. Why did you write it? What do you want your readers to get out of it?

Circles of Fate was initially penned longhand in two five-subject notebooks in 1989. I wrote it as I have all of my other stories—to get God’s message of hope and healing, of love, to a hurting world. It is my prayer that in reading this romantic saga that covers nearly twenty years in the lives of the main characters, readers will come to realize that God really does work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Blurb: Set at the tail end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson. Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Purchase Links:
Create Space:

Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”


Twitter: @psthib
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Monday, January 19, 2015

How to Get More Comments On Your Blog Posts

One way to build your blog and get more traffic is to write blog posts that readers want to comment on. Search engines love blog posts that have reader engagement. But how do you get readers excited or angry or happy enough to comment on what you’re saying?

Comment on Celebrity News

It seems we all have opinions on celebs in the news so why not use that to engage your readers. I’ve found that you can start off a genuine conversation about something by beginning with a celebrity news item. I’ve written about celebs and their love lives, friendships, and even books. (Nothing gets writers riled up than seeing a celeb get a six-figure book deal.)

The conversation might start out one way and end up in a surprisingly thoughtful place. People feel comfortable commenting on celebs because they’re larger than life and we don’t know them. But as big as their lives are, there might be something going on with them that reminds us about our own lives in some way.

Respond to Your Comments

No one likes to think they’re talking to themselves, so if readers see that you regularly respond to your comments, they’ll be more likely to open up.

One thing I’ve found is that by even commenting (but not arguing) with people that disagree with me it opens up a better discussion with readers. You can defend yourself if someone is rude, but don’t delete a comment if someone responds in a thoughtful way but disagrees with you. Allow them to have their opinions.

Take a Stand

I used to think that I was about the least controversial blogger on the planet. After all, I wrote about relationships and people getting along. I tried to keep things positive. Who could argue with that, right?

Ha! Little did I know…

My writing voice is confident, even though I’m not trying to rile people up. Just by stating my opinions occasionally, I get feedback, both positive and negative. Most of it is good. You don’t have to purposely try and start an argument or be controversial to get people commenting along with you.

Write More Regularly

As odd as it sounds, regular blog posts inspire comments from people. When readers know you’ll have regular posts out there, they feel comfortable giving their time to adding comments to your blog community. If you post once in a blue moon, they might read your posts but not feel it’s worth it to log in and comment.

Make It Easy to Comment

Is it just me or are some blogs really difficult to leave comments on? Do what you have to in order to make it so easy to comment that a reader does it as soon as they feel they have something to say. If you make them use CAPTCHA and log in and put their website address in the form and everything else, they’re going to give up and move on to something else.

Address the Lurkers

Got a lot of hits but not a lot of comment? Talk to those lurkers in a blog post. Be kind to them. They are the bulk of your readership but be sure to speak directly to them when you post. One or two will come out of their lurker hiding place and comment occasionally.

Mention Those Who Email You (With Permission)

I tend to get more direct emails than comments sometimes, and I think this is because I write about delicate subjects, like breakups and affairs and betrayal. Oh my! No one likes to leave comments about that stuff.

Occasionally I ask a reader if I can either post their question on my blog or mention it. Always ask before doing this. If someone asks me a really great question that I think others will benefit from, I ask if I can share it. Some say yes and allow me to use their name, but many say I can use it if I don’t include their name.

Talking about the people who email you will inspire others to comment. They’ll want the person who wrote in not to feel alone and they’ll want to share their experience, too.

Do you have a tip for getting more comments? Share it!

Cherie Burbach has written for, NBC/Universal,, and more. Visit her website,

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Write His Answer: A Bible Study for Christian Writers, Third Edition by Marlene Bagnull

Several years ago I attended a conference at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. In the bookstore, I found a book by Marlene Bagnull titled “Write His Answer.” The cover did not have impressive artwork, yet I was drawn to the book.  Taking it off the self, I noticed the subtitle – “A Bible Study Guide for Christian Writers.”

I remember thinking I had never heard of a Bible study guide for the Christian writer. I opened the book. It is under 200 pages in length; it was not too long to be overwhelming and not too short as to make me think it wouldn't be worth my time or money. I bought the book.

Since that time, two more editions of the book were released. The third edition is November 2014. I own each edition.

Write His Answer: A Bible Study for Christian Writers, Third Edition has 33 short chapters. They can be used as part of a person's daily devotional or quiet time. Chapters include: Called to Write; Overcoming Procrastination; Seek His Kingdom First; Conquering the Deadly D's; Driven or Led?; and Proclaiming Truth to a Dying World

It also includes nine Appendix:

  • Appendix 1 - Called to Write His Answer
  • Appendix 2 - Laying A Biblical Foundation for Your Writing Ministry
  • Appendix 3 - Writing Your Testimony
  • Appendix 4 - From Idea to Published Manuscript
  • Appendix 5 - A Writer's Statement of Faith
  • Appendix 6 - Helps for Forming Critique Groups
  • Appendix 7 - The Critique Process
  • Appendix 8 - Goals for Christian Writers' Groups
  • Appendix 9 - Recommended Resources

It is an excellent resource for discovering your calling as a writer. It gives abundant direction and insight to my purpose as a writer.

Marlene will walk you step by step where you will learn what it takes and will know for sure if you are called to write.

This book is full of Bible-based advice sure to help any writer seeking to further the Kingdom with their writing.

It is an encouraging work that discusses a writer's vision and goals, the need to rightly divide the word of truth, and to share God's message to a hurting world with compassion and faithfulness. The author stresses the importance of first taking off our mask so that we might be real and relevant to others as we strive to give them a clear picture of Jesus Christ.

Marlene Bagnull is quick to share her frustrations and disappointments as an author as rejection slip after rejection slip came her way, but through the encouragement of her pastor and others, she did not give up.

I love a quote from the book that reminds us as Christian writers, "We are literature missionaries!" p. 19

Write His Answer is a wonderful Bible study for all Christian writers.   It will encourage you to do more writing.

I attended the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference in 2013 and will attend it again this year. I met Marlene through the conference.

From her Amazon Bio: “Marlene Bagnull has made over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals. She is the author of eight traditionally published books. As the founder of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Fellowship in 1983 and director of their yearly conference, Marlene has embraced God’s call to encourage and equip you to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives. She teaches Write His Answer Seminars around the nation and has also directed the Colorado Christian Writers Conference since 1997.”

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Squeezing time until it squeals

My writing garret
As a full-time writer, full-time grandmother, and part-time caregiver to my 3-year-old granddaughter, time to write undisturbed is a precious and rare commodity. I live with my oldest daughter, her husband, and their little girl, Molly. I enjoy being able to watch her grow up, but I also have five other grandchildren whom I love to visit when time allows. So with my daughter going to college and my son-in-law working, it's tough to find the time to retire to my garret to languish in front of my computer while I wait for inspiration to grace me with its presence.

I should probably insert this disclaimer: Inspiration rarely graces me with its presence, particularly when I want it to. As with all writers, great thoughts occur to me just as I drift off to sleep, step into the shower, or while I'm in the middle of Walmart or stuck at a stoplight. So I've learned to make the most of my time spent with Molly and during those other endeavors to capture thoughts and not waste any of the time I do have during the day to tend to my writing duties.

Let's face it, even when I do sit at my desk, I'm not writing non-stop (thanks to Facebook, email, checking the news, etc.) so why do I assume I can't write while tending to Molly? A good share of our writing goes on in our heads before it ever reaches a computer, so it's more a matter of finding ways to capture those thoughts than it is bemoaning that we're not at our desks, fingers on the keyboard, spilling great thoughts onto the computer monitor.Yes, it may be sporadic, but those minutes here and there add up, and I often find I've accomplished more on my book during a day spent cleaning the house and chasing a 3-year-old around than I do when I'm at my desk.

We creative folks often think we should be doing more, and doing it better, than anyone else. While we might need to work harder to compete in this insanely tough career we're pursuing, we can work just as well and as efficiently even when we're not at our desks. Here are a few things I've found that help me squeeze time (until it squeals) throughout a day when I'm busy doing other things. They are no doubt familiar (and might be something you already do), but I think they bear reviewing.
  • A small tablet and pen in every room I wander into throughout the day means I'm never without the means to jot down a thought. (It beats scribbling on toilet paper, old receipts, and coupons.) At the end of the day, I tear out the pages and type them into an "idea sheet" I keep on my computer. It usually takes all of ten minutes. Too many notebooks? Put a pen and small tablet in your pocket and you're set to go no matter where you wander. 
  • The same can be done in my car and my purse. Fair warning Walmart and red lights: No longer do you hold the power to rob me of valuable inspiration! (Valuable time, yes, but inspiration? No.)
  • If I find myself (gasp!) without a tablet and/or pen, I say the thought aloud several times. Yes, it garners a few strange glances, but I've found it's easier to recall an idea if I've heard it, rather than just thought it. Weird, I know, but it works for me. And If I'm shopping with someone else, I tell them my idea, ask them to commit it to memory, and then two of us have heard it. Then if we've both forgotten it, I have someone else to blame. Handy. 
  • A small handheld recorder or even today's phones can record thoughts when we're not able to jot down something. 
Let's remember that for centuries books have been written using nothing more than a quill and whatever passed for paper back then. Many great books were penned (and I do mean "penned," not typed or spoken into a computer) during treacherous war years, long imprisonments, even during times of plague. Talk about inconvenient. We're spoiled when you think about it.

And finally, let's keep in mind that if we write just one page a day for a year, at the end of those twelve months, we'll still have written a 365-page book!
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Maybe you are a Christian writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes for the mainstream market. Your goal may focus on writing to develop Christian Believers. Whatever your motivation, "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called," Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says, 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five guidelines that will help you: Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Guideline One: Humility - “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt, of coming across as preachy.

Guideline Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer you should be bold, but under control. This does not mean to be a wimp. Just as a powerful race horse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible.

Guideline Three: Patience - “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." -- 2 Peter 3:9

Guideline Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a love that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is exactly what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian you are, by grace saved through faith … it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Guideline Five: Unity If the Spirit in the Bond of Peace - "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." - Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Guideline five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. "There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." - Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review - Jingle Belle by Delia Latham

Jingle Belle by Delia Latham

 "Jingle Belle Knowles is excited about the opportunity to write a Christmas jingle for a new restaurant in Pohono, Oklahoma—until she meets the company’s cocky PR man. Despite an immediate personality clash with much-too-handsome Italian Nick Santini, Belle finds herself irresistibly and unacceptably drawn to her insufferable client.

Nick isn’t pleased about working with the lovely jingle writer. But with a grand opening date just two weeks before Christmas, he and his brother need something to draw shoppers off the streets and into their Tuscan-themed restaurant. Given Belle's stellar reputation, Nick makes up his mind to grit his teeth and get through the project. They’re both adults. They’re both Christians. And they’re both determined to make the project a success. But when a passionate, self-assured, hard-headed Italian butts heads with a stubborn, auburn-haired, confident Irish spit-fire, the results could make for a highly chaotic Christmas season."

Jingle Belle lives up to this exciting blurb.  The characters were so strong, they felt like real people to me, and I found myself thinking about them when I wasn't reading. Significant, heart-wrenching issues that plague both main characters come to a satisfying conclusion. There are plenty of heart-warming moments as well. Even though the Christmas Season has passed, I highly recommend this book for any time of the year. Oh, yes, and prepare to be hungry as you read about the cuisine in Nick's restaurant.

Jingle Belle is an offering of Pelican Book Group's Pure Amore Line. It is offered as a book of the month selection. 

"Pure Amore romances are sweet, hope-filled tales of youthful Christians who are striving to live their faith in a way that honours God's plan for lovemaking. Be whisked away to a world of romance and hope and help us to spread the message of chastity and purity.

Subscribe now, and receive one Pure Amore romance per month for a year. (visit for a sneak peek at some of the line-up). Subscriptions are available in eBook-only, paperback-only, and an eBook/Paperback combo so you can curl up with a book in your hand, or read on the go at your leisure without having to haul a paperback."
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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Language Pet Peeves: Yea vs. Yeah

Photo by ~Seizen at DeviantArt.
This has been bugging me for a while.

So, today, I'm going to bring you one of my biggest pet peeves, educate you a little, and see whether you share the same pet peeve, or if it's something else.

I see the terms 'yea' and 'yeah' used interchangeably ALL THE TIME. It drives me up the wall. Their definitions are similar, but not the same, and for me, there is a difference. There's definitely a difference in pronunciation. Since when I'm reading I "hear" the words, this can drive me nuts: on Twitter, on FB posts, in an IM conversation like Skype...

 "Yea" is an older term. It's used a lot in formal voting situations, like in Congress. It's pronounced like "yay" and can also be used in place of "hurray" or similar words.

"Yeah" is also a form of yes, but it's more a slang term. You say "yeah" when you're in agreement. "Yeah, I'm coming." "Yeah, I agree with you." It's pronounced more like "yah".

See, a little letter "h" can make a huge difference!

So, next time you're writing, whether a conversation in a book, a FB post, or a text message to your mom, try to get this one little thing right.

And educate others whom you see misusing these words.  

This post was originally published at, and remains a popular post on the site.

Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador.

She blogs periodically at
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Monday, January 5, 2015

Good Critique Groups

The value of a good critique group

“Critiquing,” we'll define here, is working on a manuscript that’s still in draft form This is the time where big ideas, the story arc, the characters, or with non-fiction—the tighter research that can still be added for relevance in the story.

Criticism, as the first definition given in the dictionary, is “to consider the merits and demerits of and to judge accordingly.”

Critiquing is NOT Editing, which is, according to the dictionary, “to prepare for publication or presentation.”

So you can see where these two concepts are different. It’s always good to make your work the best it can be BEFORE you put it out there for public consumption.


What we want to do is find “big picture” issues, whereas, for “editing” today in this workshop, we’ll mean that to be more fine-tuning; for example, when I’m ready to submit a piece to a publisher, or when the publisher is looking at your work before publication, he or she will go over it to look for punctuation, spelling, grammatical issues.


Remember, a critique is “To consider the merits” – Just like the ultimate burger with the meat, or pretend meat, the ketchup, pickle, onion, cheese, lettuce, tomato, bun, a good group is made up of people with different abilities and gifts that add to the entire finished product.

Group Dynamics: What works and what doesn’t.
When I was a brand-new writer, I had little idea about story arcs, and current trends in first person, close third person, whether or not to use dialog tags, and how often and how to introduce your character. I got caught up in other people’s rules because I always assumed everyone else knew more than I did. While that’s often true, it was a bad thing for me. I swayed with whatever another writer told me until I fell into that huge whirlpool of “Writing by Committee.” I no longer recognized my own work and became trapped in a morass of other people’s ideas.

The Best Critique Groups
      Are made up of people who are a different stages of the publication journey – when your group is made up solely of writers who don’t know what they’re doing, you may just all be spinning your wheels; or those who are already multi-published and get too blasé, or those who know each other so well, you find it hard to pick out any issue that could use some work; or writers who never have any plan to publish but just want to have fun. What is your group goal?
      Have different skill sets – Different skills, as well as different genres. You’ll often find that as your group works together, the authors will sort themselves out so that someone will be the “big picture” person, and someone will be the comma queen, and someone will pick up on all those pet words; poetry people are EXCELLENT to have in your group – they’re the ultimate champions of “WRITE TIGHT”
      Are willing to share their own work, not just dish out criticism – upon occasion you end up with someone in a group who no longer brings any work. They show up and sit in on your stuff, but never allow others to look at his. Figure out a way to encourage these people – whether through “fines” or gentle encouragement.
      Are willing to hear the opinions of others., We like to be defensive, right? Learn to LISTEN – you don’t have to agree. Remember – the object is to look for the MERIT
      Have fun – do something outside the norm once in a while, sponsor an open mic night at the coffee shop, field trip to visit an author signing or dinner.

And, establishing some general guidelines, like choosing regular meeting dates, and appointing a particular facilitator to keep things moving – whether permanent or rotating – is good, too.


One, Recognize the other writer’s individual voice and unique story-telling. Rules are good and necessary and important—but don’t let them put your fire out.

We don’t hijack someone else’s work, but even if we don’t agree or like it, we let the author tell his or her own story.

Secondly, Don’t rewrite for someone else, unless he or she asks for specific examples. This is not your piece, but you are charged with helping someone else grow his or her strengths and skills, not do it for him.
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Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: Son of Truth

Morgan L. Busse has a great series going: Follower of the Word. I didn't catch it from the beginning, but if time allows, I may go back and read this series from the first.
But not reading the first book didn't take away from the experience of reading the second. Morgan did a good job of hinting at the backstory without rehashing it and provided just enough information to help me understand what was going on in the new story.
As the Shadonae invade the post-war city of Thyra, healer and truthsayer Rowen Mayer becomes enslaved to the immoral pirate, Drake, and forced to heal for money. Drake sells Nierne, a monastery librarian, to an influential rich woman who intends to use the lovely redhead to "entertain" her male guests. Captain Lore gives up his position in the White City regimen to search for Rowen, and Caleb Tala, the once-assassin, now-truthsayer strives to save Nierne.
The story is action-packed and full of twists, a definite page turner. Every now and then, the author's style distracted me, and I'd play copy editor, going line by line through paragraphs and sometimes whole pages, smoothing things out, varying sentence structures, deleting the unnecessary. But things that bothered me wouldn't bother many others, so I expect this series to make a huge splash in the world of Christian supernatural fiction
Definitely worth reading--but catch it from Book 1.
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