Friday, April 29, 2016

SHOW Me, Don’t TELL Me

Photo Credit
Don’t you just hate that phrase? There is something so abstract about the entire statement that it’s hard to wrap your brain around it. But it’s also one of those phrases that the less you think about it and try so hard to make it fit, it will actually start to make sense. One of the greatest compliments I NEVER expected to receive was from a published author who read my work on critique (and they weren’t be paid to be nice, if you know what I mean. ;-) and told me I was actually quite good at showing instead of telling.

Could have knocked me over with a feather!

So how do you know from a first or second glance that you are telling when you should be showing? (btw, this is also a great way to really dig into deep POV)

Are you addressing the emotion (ie: she was sad) or are you taking a walk in the character’s shoes? Ask yourself a question: how would your character respond to being sad? What physical action would she go and do? Stop and think in those terms for a minute. Not only will you dig deeper into your character and mine her for a stronger reader experience, you’ll also be showing instead of telling.

When you describe a scene in front of your character, especially a landscape scene, dig into the five senses. What metaphors can you use to describe the scent of freshly fallen leaves or the crunch of gravel under the tires? Take a moment to close your eyes and embrace all your senses. As you stand on the balcony of your hotel room, what are you hearing? What are you smelling? What are you seeing? Don’t just list these things, put them on a first name basis with the reader.
Photo Credit

When she stands on the railing is she remembering her wedding night gone wrong? Does the honk and bustle of traffic below remind her of the cheap hotel they stayed in and were kept awake all night because of the noise? Maybe this shows a layer of her discontent—maybe with life? Maybe with her marriage? That’s up to you to decide.

Tie the scene into your character’s emotions and their past. Where they are right now.

When you purposefully try to weave all these layers together it can seem so daunting and insurmountable. But it’s possible. Don’t think long and hard about it. Stick yourself in the character’s shoes. Make their emotions and their thoughts your own. Now superimpose those things onto the character’s surroundings.
The secret to showing instead of telling is…well, at least from where I’m sitting, there is no secret. It’s a matter of storytelling. Something that you learn only by doing and once you start doing it, you realize just how easy it can be.

My best advice? Stop trying. But not if you’re always searching for that “golden nugget” that will give you the promised solution. :- ) Live and breathe through your characters. Everything will fall into place and one day you’ll have a friend read your work and tell how awesome you did in showing. 

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Indie Road: No Man is an Island

I know, I know, I know.

"No man is an island" is horribly cliche.

But it is true.

I think there can be a tendency to go into indie publishing with a mindset of "OHMYGOODNESS I have to do this all by myself!!!"

And yeah... you kinda do. Kinda sorta anyway.

You are now your own publisher.

You make the decisions.

But just like any small-business, it is important not to rely on your strengths alone.

No, you don't have a corporation behind you. No, you don't have already built-in infrastructure and a bank account balance to support you.

But that doesn't mean you can, or should, do this by yourself.

What does a HEALTHY and SUCCESSFUL small business owner (which you are now...) do to overcome the island challenges?

1.) Network. They join groups with other small business owners so they can learn from each other and support each other. Networking in the writing business is SO IMPORTANT. I literally could not have indie published without the amazing support and help of fellow Indie authors. When I thought I was going to lose my mind, I could post on a Facebook group and instantly have responses of people who have been there, who have already traveled that road, who will give HONEST feedback, not "pat you on the back" fake encouragement. People who will tell you when your cover stinks. People who will talk you off a ledge when your KDP rejects your formatting. People who won't roll their eyes when you sheepishly ask what the heck KDP is anyway. There are a TON of these groups out there, you just have to network with other indies to find them. If you are serious about indie publishing, joining one or more of these groups, in my personal opinion, is the first step.

2.) Outsource. Instead of hiring staff that is costly, they do some of it themselves, and the rest they outsource. A big publisher has an accounting department, an editing department, a marketing department, a sales department. You have---well---you. You can't do it all, I hate to tell you. You can do a LOT of it though. Some of outsourcing will depend on your bank account, but remember that time is money too, as is quality. You may think covers should be super easy to do, I mean, YOU know what a good cover is, right? And some authors do a GREAT job of this. But if it takes you a month of work to design and format a cover--- and it is so-so and doesn't entice readers to buy it--- it might be worth a few hundred dollars to hire it out. In fact, it probably is. So you have to decide where YOUR strengths are and what you need help with.

3.) Listen. To those people who are criticizing you. Our culture today shouts that we need to ignore the haters and embrace our individuality. And maybe in some cases that is true... and that's fine if you want to. But just don't be surprised if you don't sell anything. The truth is, we are too close to our work. We NEED the input of others. We are not perfect, and whether you use beta readers or editors for the actual book, or hire an cover designer or do it yourself, listening for feedback is so important. YOU are the publisher. YOU make the final decision. But don't let that power go to your head. Don't let it make you think that your opinions are the only ones that matter--or are right. Would a small business owner tear up customer comment cards as stupid and ignorant? Not if they want to stay in business, they wouldn't.

4.) Observe. One of the best things a small business and an indie publisher can do is to study others. Study traditional publishers. What are they doing right? Study the successful indies. What are THEY doing right? Study the not-so-successful indies. What are they doing WRONG? This isn't being judgmental, it's being a good study and learning from those around you. It's called being wise and informed. Take some time to observe.

Let's chat!

Indie authors, how have you benefited from the help of other people on this journey? Do you have any points to add?

Prospective indie authors, any question? Anything surprise you or frustrate you? Have you thought about how you would need others, or were you excited about the whole "go-it-alone" idea of indie publishing?

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and writes romantic comedy. Her latest book A Side of Love, released February 29, 2016.  She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How A Writer's Vulnerability Can Change the World

"It was a long day. Stressful. My boss, yeah, she criticized me. I went home after five to an empty apartment and threw something in the microwave. While waiting for my food, I picked up this book..."

"I read the first page because the story looked good."

"After finishing the story, I realized I no longer felt the same about...."

Vulnerable in our writing:

Writing story is so much more than enabling the reader to feel the same emotions you once felt or taking the reader to the place you once went.

Writing story creates a metamorphosis. In a well written story, the writer allows their past and present to morph into power-infused words spilled on the page. These words, saturated with emotionally heart wrenching, exhilarating, humorous, and transformed experiences have proven to change lives. 

Well written stories: 
Rouse resolves. 
Create and enhance fears. 

This can ONLY happen when a writer is vulnerable with readers. 


1. Transparency 

Yes, transparency is risky. The doors of our heart have restricted access, no admittance without prior approval. Writing the truth can set us up for criticism. But in story, we can give these genuine feelings to other characters. The what ifs can happen. The MC can go there, knowing the risks and commitments involved.

Transparency allows for expression of bizarre ideas. The ideas, oddly enough, have turned into actual inventions. For example:  
   *Rockets to the moon (Jules Verne, Journey to the Moon and Back). 
   *Cell phones (Star Trek). 
   *Computer virus (Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner, 1970's author) not the best invention, eh?
   *Atomic power (The World Set Free, by H.G. Wells)  
   *The TASER  (invented by Jack Cover, a huge fan of the Tom Swift novels.  It actually stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric 

2. Be assertive about which story you write

Writing a story takes passion. The story in your heart is the seed that will blossom into the story that can change many people. Change, BTW, can mean something as simple as soothe, preparing the reader to face another day at work, etc. Trust yourself to be the writer God has called you to be.

3. You need strength to suffer

Days of misery come. Sometimes it doesn't seem like the situation will end. Stories can can give the strength to suffer through another day. Sometimes knowing someone else (real or fictional) is going through a similar experience, or has overcome a similar trial helps empower us to try or endure another day. Characters MUST suffer real hardships. Their feelings MUST be, not just seem to be, real. Their dilemma, consequences, victories MUST ring true.

4. Be real--then readers will listen

Carol Kent, author and speaker, said, "If you are vulnerable with readers, you will give them the courage to do what they couldn't do." Inundate story with showing. Jesus showed truths in so many ways. First, he lived out loud. Second, he used stories the people would understand to convey the truth. These are written that we may believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. John 20:31 Choose intentional actions in your story. Actions that are powerful even in simplicity.

A fictional male character went to his apartment alone. He didn't bother to turn on the light. She was not there. Her dresses would never be worn again, not even his favorite. Her perfume would remain in the bottle forever. She'd never laugh or touch his skin again. His head lowered, supported by his hands, his elbows wedged on his knees. Fire pounded in his head like lightening piercing, stabbing, ripping everything he was. Her tears would never moisten his shoulder. They'd murdered his wife, the only one he ever loved.

The above is my retelling, a condensed version of a masterpiece written by a male author who clearly poured his heart on a page through the eyes of his male fictional character. I don't know what inspired the author, but after reading the three-page heart wrenching response to hearing his wife had been murdered, I understood his experience and can now better know how a man feels. The character was an agent, who spent the rest of the story solving the crime. The author's choice to include the character's response before solving the crime truly made the story real. 

Our hardships are not hidden. God sees them. He provides so many ways for us to show His love and compassion to each is vulnerability in story which can sometimes display a combustion of emotions.

Consider how you can be vulnerable to your readers. What has happened in your life that has given you a first-hand understanding and a unique ability to convey that moment through story?

**Top Photo by Mary Vee, taken at Mt. Hermon, California

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Help others--tweet or FB share this post


Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. Such adventures can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

All subscribers to Mary's newsletter will receive her new short story an intriguing suspense/mystery. Come, read a good story. To get your free gift, sign up for the newsletter at Mary's website or:  Join the adventure!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why Periscope is One of My Favorite Brainstorming Tools...

It took me several years to catch on to the idea of hashtags and shorter messages, a la Twitter. I hesitate to login to Pinterest as I struggle with losing track of time. Sure, its great for finding the perfect pattern for my heroine's dress (if I don't get "stuck" in the Metropolitan Museum of Art pin section). Facebook is pure fun, but I think my favorite creativity tool is Periscope.

A mere year old Periscope was news to me until one of my favorite bloggers/nonfiction authors began using it daily to update her readers. She offered a short daily vlog sharing a tip from her day or a chance for readers to offer their questions. I loved the fact that if I logged on at the right time, I could interact with this author by commenting or just giving "hearts." Although I was seldom at my computer at the same time as she was I could later "catch up" using katch (a tool which unfortunately is going away).

A few weeks after finding Money Saving Mom's feed and watching semi-regularly, I noticed Michael Hyatt began blogging about Periscope. After using it for 30 days, Hyatt said: "it may be the greatest leadership tool ever invented." High praise from a platform guru who is well-known in the industry for his productivity. I enjoyed his thoughts on his first month here.

Recently, Facebook Live and YouTube Live have launched and I'll have to spend more time checking them out. Productivity guru Chalene Johnson analyzes the ups and downs of Periscope versus Facebook live in this podcast. Its an interesting listen if you are considering marketing options.

Here's why I'm loving Periscope as a writer:

1) The purpose of Periscope is to discover the world through other's eyes.

And isn't that the very purpose of our world as writers? We want to discover the world through our characters' eyes and invite our readers into their world. As creatives we want to take others into the lush rainforests and the hustle-bustle of New York City. God opens our minds to new worlds and we just hope we can provide a gateway so readers can visit these same worlds.

2) What a fun way to market!

Its all about interaction. Livestream provides a further connection to readers. Its the next best thing to face to face as its in real time.

3) Relationships can form more easily in this live platform.

Vlogs are fun and personal and through the livestream it is possible to verbally comment to specific viewers as they are chatting. It is a more intimate platform and gives a chance to form a relationship that is not as easy on Facebook or Twitter.

Ideas for using Periscope for your writing life?

1) Setting, setting, setting.

Its not always possible to travel to the settings of our novels. Perhaps your story is about a child bride in India or a missionary in South Africa during apartheid. Google Earth is a fun way to view your location but a livestream can be even better. Watch live videos that take place in your setting. Recently I watched a video taken during a tropical storm. What a great way to watch in action the little details that I can then add to my writing. I can't conjure up a hurricane, but I can find one online and watch it in my own time, pausing to take notes. Though it is livestream, you can also search for videos and watch them later.

2) Global Map Feature

Zoom in on the map to find an exact location. The map will show both current streams and those created over the last 24 hours. Within seconds, enter your main character's world. I've gained details on the dress of my main character, been able to observe and better write about what a house looks like in China and gained insight into body language in other countries. Cheapest way to world travel on your iPhone.

3) Teleport for inspiration.

Looking for ideas? Coming up dry? Try the teleport feature which instantly transports you to a random location in the world. Five minutes of watching just might land you a new idea and there's just something fun about the concept.

4) Invite your reader into your world.

I love following published authors on Periscope because it is a more personal glimpse into their world. Why not dress up as your main character and conduct an interview? Or take the reader into a setting that is specific to your novel?

5) Build your tribe and have fun doing it!

Looking for some starter scopes to follow to grow in your knowledge of how to use Periscope. Here are some of my favorites:

Crystal Paine: Money Saving Mom discusses how to live the intentional life, use time and resources wisely, and answers weekly questions from readers. She makes it a point to interact with viewers.

Chalene Johnson: guru on marketing, online business and social media.

Michael Hyatt: great ideas on productivity, marketing, and time management.

Jeff Goins: writing, how to find your niche, productivity.

Jon Acuff: just plain funny.

How about you? Do you like Periscope? I would love to hear some of your favorite people to follow?

Julia Reffner enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction from her home in central Virginia. She writes for Library Journal and the blog Wonderfully Woven.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Pitch to Build a Book On

Contest and Conference season is closing in and one of the main things we learn as budding or published authors is ‘the pitch’.

First of all, what IS a pitch?

Well….very loosely, it’s the best pick-up line for an agent or editor.

You’re trying to win them woo them with your story J

For a perfect pick-up line, what do you need?

Here are a few of my ideas – and I hope you all can add some more to the mix J

You’re serious about your story

Lots of people can come up with a story idea, but very few end of writing a book. When you write a pitch, you want to have enough of the story written to show you’re serious. If you’re an unpublished author, you need to have the entire book completed. That in and of itself shows seriousness.

If you’re a published author, your pitch should be strong enough to show you’re committed to the story. I prefer having a solid outline for the book before I pitch it, or at least a sure grasp on my characters’ motivations.

Your concept is clear and interesting

A pitch gives a clear (and succinct) heart of your story. I’m writing a new novel series and just finished working on a proposal for it. Here’s the pitch:

A small town tea shop owner with a sweet-tooth and a devil-may-care Englishman with more savory tastes join forces to cater an England-themed wedding.

A wedding planner with dramatic flair and country charm teams up with an aloof undercover prince to create a fairytale wedding for her best friend.

He’s trying to find a hero within and she’s pretty sure it’s a lost cause, but sparks are sure to fly when this opinionated country girl and an arrogant city boy team up to save a children’s clinic from bankruptcy.

A young inventor who chooses crime fighting instead of matrimony and a handsome detective trying to prove his worth team up to stop the illusive Jack the Ripper before someone they love becomes his next victim.

In these, I HOPE I’ve established a few things.

1.       A little hint of the hero and heroine’s personalities

2.       Possible conflict

3.       Uniqueness of the story

So, how about you try?

                You need a hero (and if it’s a romance you need a hero and heroine)

                                                A little personality touch

                                                                A purpose

                                                                                And a twist

How about you? Share your pitches OR share your tips for pitch writing!

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Writer's Silver Lining... (And mine--BONUS book cover reveal!)

It's no secret that the publishing industry is a volatile beast. Like most everything, it's in constant flux. Some houses stay hot while others close their doors. Certain genre's trend while others dwindle. Bestsellers lose their readers and some newbie breaks into the box-office. Nothing about it is simple. Not pursing publishing. Not getting a contract. And most definitely not publishing a book.

I know what the pre-pubbers are thinking... how hard could it be? So tough to be YOU. With all those book deals and five star reviews! Meanwhile I'm over here churning out gold no one will ever read!

It's impossible not to compare, but being a mother taught be something very important.

Every age has it's challenges. And on the flip side, every stage has it's unique joys.

When you bring home your first newborn you are faced with the looming unknown and lots of untried muscles. You may think you're prepared since you've read all the parenting books about feeding schedules and consistency, about how you'll avoid all those parenting pitfalls like too much sugar or TV. How you'll discipline and it'll work the first time. How you'll be calm and tender and never yell or spank. Until you discover the truth: that terrifying little angel couldn't care less about your plans. He'll sleep all day and scream all night. He'll get colic, or reflux, or violent diaper rashes. He might hate even the slightest wet diaper, only like to sleep in your arms, require constant movement, spit up most of his feeding all over your admittedly disgusting hair and down your last clean shirt. You barely have time to shower off the spit up, much less blow dry your hair since the baby HEARS everything and what had once been a relaxing indulged of blissfully hot spray and sweet smelling soaps, becomes a sprint to scrub and rinse before disaster strikes.

Then again, infant snuggles are heart-melters. There's almost nothing like that tiny peanut curled up on your chest. They're so light, and portable. Their meals are no brainers. They don't talk back. Or fast pitch a flashlight at the flatscreen TV (Ahem, fact or fiction?) And they do sleep. A LOT! It's kind of amazing how much you can do when you have 3 or 4 solid naptimes to work around, that is... IF you can muster the energy to lift your arms much less coordinate your whole body to task.

You might bring home a second baby. Now you have not one infant, but perhaps an infant and a toddler. A toddler who doesn't remember to stay quiet when the baby is sleeping. A toddler who becomes this hulking threat to that infants safety when they whip their toy across the room like a torpedo. A tot who wants mommy to hold them instead of the baby. Who now needs constant attention, and takes maybe one measly catnap. Who complains about the food you prepared or who can find the most dangerous thing in even the most baby-proofed home the moment you turn your back. How much easier was it when that baby couldn't move and get into EVERYTHING? You could plop them down under their mobile and 30 seconds, 5 minutes, an hour later, they will still be right where you left them.

But they don't tell you they love you. They don't sing silly songs and dance around the kitchen with you. They don't draw you reallllly pretty pictures of what they think you look like. :) They don't run and throw their arms around you with abandon.

Every stage has it's challenges and joys. And it's important to remember that every stage has BOTH challenges AND joys. They really are never mutually exclusive.

When I look back now I think, what on earth was so hard about taking care of ONE infant? Piece of cake! Try taking care of a whole tribe of children each at a different stage of finding your hot spots and testing every ounce of your patience and endurance. They WILL get past that phase, you tell yourself, but once they do you'll remember things you miss about that very time you couldn't wait to be over.

There are times when it's so much easier and freeing to write without deadlines and expectations. I remember those times. I was frustrated that no one had recognized my "talent" but the escape there was limitless. You pray for the day you'll be lucky enough to have deadlines because that means you'll be past all the "hard stuff." But even though there are wonderful things to experience in the editing and torturing of your lovingly-crafted words, there are also new challenges to face. More pressure. More distractions. More expectations, and not just yours.

I'd encourage you, wherever you are at, to not only power through, but to look for those silver linings that make each phase of walking out your dreams undoubtedly WORTH IT! It won't be easy, and you won't always be happy, but for everything there is a season. And before you know it, you'll be watching your babies leave the nest, get married, have babies of their own.

Maybe even book babies. And because I'm about to bring my second one home, I'll share my silver lining...


Wait for it...

TADA!!! The cover I LOVED! That's a win, right there! Thank you to all of you who voted, no matter which cover you chose. FROM WINTER'S ASHES is now set to release on June 7th! Hope you check it out!!!!

From Winter's Ashes:
If you can trust your enemy with your life, what’s to stop him from stealing your heart?

Hopelessly unlucky in love and a target for tragedy, Joselyn Whyte hardly leads the charmed life you’d expect of an heiress. When she becomes the mark of an arsonist, the last person she expects to ride to her rescue is her nemesis—the man who sealed her fate as a frigid and lonely “Snow Whyte.”

Firefighter Finn Carson might talk a big game, but behind the swagger and the dimples is a man tormented by a mistake that cost a life. When a force stronger than his stubbornness pulls him off the bench and into a 5-Alarm fire for a miraculous save, Finn decides the key to his redemption lies with the Ice Princess he loathes. But the price to freedom from the guilt and nightmares might be too steep if it means bartering with Joselyn’s father by posing as her boyfriend—her safety and the ruthless billionaire’s Senatorial campaign hanging on the combustible edge of a decade old grudge. 

When secrets from the past resurface, the ruse and reality collide and threaten to thaw their heated rivalry—turning hate into something that terrifies them even more than the cunning predator with a bent sense of justice.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why Writers Should Be Readers

Photo by nuchylee from
I'm always shocked to find so many writers do not spend time reading, especially reading their genre. On the one hand, I get it. We all only have so much time, and it seems that time is best invested... well, writing. Right?

I'm guilty too. I LOVE reading, but when I'm strapped for time or feeling overwhelmed, I usually either turn to my own story or Gilmore Girls (#teamjess).

But I think we are losing so many opportunities by not reading... opportunities to get a fresh perspective on our own writing!

Here are several things that frequent reading allows:

  • It keeps us in touch with what readers want. As a writer, I may not want to introduce my main characters until chapter three. As a reader, if I have to wait until chapter three before the hero and heroine meet, I'm probably putting the book down before then. As a writer, I may want to kill characters when they frustrate me. As a reader, I HATE WHEN WRITERS DO THAT.
  • It keeps us aware of comparable titles. If you're an author or an aspiring author, books are your business. You need to know what's out there so you can bill yourself as relevant.
  • It hones our craft. You can write until the cows come home, but you will never get the skill-sharpening power that only reading allows. Reading is like looking at someone else's art. You learn to appreciate others' work, and that appreciation betters your own. And as an added benefit, you can internalize a sense of story arc in a way that feels "easy" when you aren't forcing the plot like we often do in our own stories.
  • It establishes a sense of community. Reading well and often is one very successful means of linking ourselves within a writing community... it's a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" sort of scenario. If you invest yourself in reading others' work, you're that much more likely to find critique partners, mentors, and friends who will help you with your own.

Your turn! What other benefits have you found in reading? What are you reading right now?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Celebrating The End: What's a Writer to Do?

On Friday night, I typed words that are magic to every author: The End.

They are glorious words, because they mean that an author has reached the end of a journey.

Characters that I first began to imagine two, almost three years ago have been fully developed and have lived their lives on the screen of my mind. I have taken faithful dictation and tried to capture their adventures on the page. I have emailed the crazy long document to my editor, and now I wait, I pause before I receive the macro edits from her next month.

And here's where I, the neurotic writer, have a problem.

My type A personality leaps to the forefront because literally ten minutes after hitting send, characters began screaming at me that it was time for their story to come to light.

You see, I am TERRIBLE at celebrating the end. This book was, I believe, manuscript 23 that I've turned into a publisher. And I'm still an abysmal failure and novice at taking a moment to breath and celebrate. Instead, I'm ready to launch into the very next adventure with barely a pause.

I spent Friday writing anywhere, so I could meet this deadline.
It worked.
I'm pretty sure that's not healthy. I'm sure there is someone out there thinking "this girl needs help."

The ironic thing is I am a big believer in the need to look back and celebrate what God has done in our lives. I fully believe our faith needs those pauses and moments of celebration. That moment where I pause and thank God for carrying me through another book.

About book 8 and 9, I thought I'd take the kids out to a movie every time I finish a book. I'm more of a Redbox girl myself. So this time I bought the new Star Wars movie and watched it with my husband and older kids. Does that count?

This time I purposely scheduled a spa day for Saturday morning. Now before you think that's awesome (which it was), I used a gift card I received last Mother's Day. It's almost this Mother's Day, folks! But I knew I really needed a pause this time. Something to look forward to because this book really kicked my behind. And that facial was sooo relaxing. And I'm still admiring my painted nails and toes. I just don't take the time for me, so it was awesome.

I also went to dinner with friends. The invitation was perfectly timed because one of the things I had to cut this go-around was making time to spend with friends. I was just stretched too thin. So an evening with friends and good food was ideal.

If you're a writer, how do you celebrate the end? And for the readers, how would you tell a writer to celebrate?


An award-winning author of twenty books, Cara is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

{Book Recommendation + Giveaway} The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

If you love Sherlock Holmes -- or just adventure and clever writing in a historical setting -- you'll love The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder, debut novel from Rachel McMillan and the first in her Herringford and Watts Mysteries.

Oh. My. Goodness. The story takes place in 1910, where our heroines Jem and Merinda are sleuthing in the streets of Toronto instead of behaving and preparing for marriage like most girls their age. Readers will love being a third-wheel to their adventures -- and want Merinda to be a "bad influence" on them, too -- as they become embroiled in solving murders with these strong female characters.

McMillan lends a strong voice laced with humor and intrigue. I love this unique, incredibly intelligent addition to the inspirational fiction market. I (Laurie) have had the privilege of meeting her in person (she once saved me when this conference newbie asked a top editor what she writes. Oops!) and she's just as colorful and sensational as her characters.

I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my honest review and, as always, wouldn't share it unless I totally loved it!

About the Book

In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever—if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

The book is available at bookstores nationwide + these online retailers:

About the Author

Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Ra
chel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.


Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy! Annnnnd....

Rachel is celebrating the release of The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder with a Murder Mystery Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on April 28!


One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. The winner will be announced at The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder Facebook party on 4/28.


Happy reading!

Monday, April 18, 2016

When A Bestseller Breaks All the Rules

I check myself to make sure I'm not bitter.

It's been a long journey of rejection, correction and re-writing, and so, I know that my perspective might come from a less than noble place.

But I am sure it's not that. I am positive it's not the ugly green monster creeping up my torso to choke my neck and squeeze out my tears. Nope. After this long journey toward publication, I know that sensation all too well. And it's definitely not a judgement call out of envy, bitterness or the struggle to read when I want to be the one read.

So after I check myself and I am certain it's not that, I wonder how can an NYT Bestseller get away with all this? And it makes me slightly angry and mostly confused.

This book I hold and struggle to read breaks a bunch of rules...and it's a novel from a major house in a time where the market is completely saturated and competitive and fierce.

You may wonder, what in the world? And no, I am not going to mention the name of the book. That would certainly set me up for a debate the size of Facebook.

But I will mention the "rules" that I had once held dear, thinking if I can abide by these rules then I would be a bestselling author. And dilemma to embrace the following and come alongside the critics in their praise is in the face of these:

Head-hopping within one paragraph...but not consistently through the book. Just here and there. ACK!

Repetitive words through out a page...that could easily be changed. Ugh!

And then...

this one had me close the book, because this rule-follower-for-desperation-to-get-it-right just couldn't take it anymore...somewhere in Chapter 2:  While everything is in past-tense, this one scene--of little importance--is in present tense? WHA'??? How can that be? 

You may say, oh, the author has a readership so of course, they get more leniency. Ah, but this is a debut novel. Yes. The author had NO readership before this!

I am just so...annoyed.

And then, as I type this, I realize that I am looking from a backstage perspective. I am seeing all the tricks used by the actors to give the audience an elaborate show. And because I've tried to play out my own performance without any tricks, I can hardly breathe when the rules are broken and given accolades for a well-done performance.

Maybe that green monster really is there more than I care to admit.

Or maybe, I am just weary of this subjective road to be on the shelf and be read and have my story loved by the reader.

It goes to show that this industry really is not a guarantee for anyone. While one kind of book might satiate the needs of a certain house and the craving of a particular readership, another might just miss the mark on that day--that month--or with that single acquisitions team. While one house might play it safe and stick to the rules...AND produce bestsellers...another house might take a leap and break all the rules...AND produce bestsellers.

When it comes to the whys and hows of getting a book out there for all to read, it really is based on timing on many levels. So really, I have no reason to get upset, annoyed, or leave that book to gather dust. I just have to remember, it's not my time yet. And also, maybe broken rules aren't such a big deal if you can give the audience a great show?

What do you think? Have you ever had a difficult time reading a book as an aspiring author knowing the author is getting away with something you didn't?

Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written six historical novels and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check her personal blog at and connect at:
Twitter: @angiedicken

Friday, April 15, 2016

Writing Through the Hard. A Guest Post with Jill Lynn

Casey here. I have a special treat for you today, readers. Today I am hosting a great friend and special guest, Jill Lynn (also writing as Jill Lynn Buteyn). Want to be let in on a little secret? Jill is my boss's wife. That's right. My day job includes working for Jill and her husband, Terry at their family-owned company here in Colorado Springs. So not only do I get to enjoy the writing journey with Jill and call her friend, but also enjoy working for them as well! I keep telling her this just means she'll get sick of me quicker. ;-) Nevertheless, I'm excited to share Jill's encouraging post with you today and be sure to check out her new book that JUST released! 

Don't wait

Writer's block. Is it really a thing? I don't know. I only know writing is hard. We're artists. Creative. Yet we need to take criticism. Online reviews. Edits. Somewhere along the way, the romantic side of writing gets lost. It can feel like climbing a mountain without equipment. In a snow storm. With two kids on your back. (So I'm a little dramatic.) But some days I don't feel like I can do it again.

This was a hard year for me. I wrote Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, then Kara flew away to Heaven, and I went on to do the interviews about the book while missing Kara immensely.

After everything calmed down, I knew it was time to write again. But I already felt way behind. People kept telling me to have grace for myself. And I tried. I'm still trying. Writing would not come easily to me when I did pick up my laptop. I fought for the words, the plot, their personalities. And then I re-wrote and re-wrote. Still, it didn't get easier. I wondered, shouldn't this be easier? Why is this so hard? And then I realized it's never been easy. I've always re-written. I've always struggled through plots and personalities until I got it right. Or hopefully right. Just like when you're a Christian and your relationship with God doesn't depend on how you feel, writing is the same.

Writing is a choice. It won't ever be easy. And if it is easy for you, we can't be friends. I'm joking. (Sort of.)Writing takes lots of prayer, divine intervention, and so, so much patience.

Many days I want to quit. Sometimes—lots of the time—it doesn't feel like it’s going well. Or anywhere near inspired. But then I'll have a moment that reminds me why I do the hard work. Why I write when it's not easy. Why I keep going when it feels overwhelming.

So I don't wait for it to get easy. I do pray (beg) for help, guidance and words. And I keep writing, hoping and praying it will all come together. 

Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, and an author of inspirational Her Texas Family, is in stores April 19th. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. She’s a fan of laughter, thrift stores, boots and chocolate. Connect with her on Facebook:, Twitter:, Instagram:, Pinterest:, and at
romance (as Jill Lynn).