Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Behind the Scenes of Robin E. Mason's Tessa + GIVEAWAY

Today we're helping our Alley Pal Robin E. Mason celebrate the book birthday of her debut novel, Tessa! Here are some fun, behind-the-scenes facts you may not have known about this special book from the author herself. Take it away, Robin!


  • The first sentence of this story came to me in July 2008 while I was taking a walk.
  • In June of that year, Father God had told me to go to school for my degree in Interior Design. Little did I know how valuable would be to my story!
  • I loved art history so much I almost added it as a minor.
  • Tessa is set in western New York State. Why, I’ve no clue, except it’s what the story demanded. I have never been there.
  • I Googled maps of the area and situated the town of Sunset Valley north of Salamanca and Allegheny State Park. The town of Kcynia was so named for the Polish immigrant ancestry, and was located west of Sunset Valley at Mayville on the north end of Chautauqua Lake.
  • I wrote Tessa without regard to—truly in ignorance of—genre, Christian Fiction or otherwise.
  • A sequel hadn’t occurred to me as I wrote her story. It was only when asked that I found two specific spots that pointed directly to the second book. And the series was born, the name of which just happened to be in the blurb.
  • I thought for the longest time that, because I didn’t plot and outline, I was doing it wrong! Only when I began to tap into this amazing industry did I learn there are others like me and we have a name—Pantzers!
  • I type by touch, sometimes with my eyes closed, and in the scene when (*no spoilers*) dies, I was so IN the scene I nearly hyperventilated!
  • One of the characters is a behinds-the-scenes prayer warrior. I had no clue when I first met (wrote) this person, and was delighted to make the discovery about 2/3 of the way through the story!



One mother. Two daughters. One favorite. One not.

When Cassie Barclay is presented with an opportunity – or is it a curse – she jumps at the chance. She takes on a new life, her sister’s life, and although at first, it holds appeal and promise, she soon realizes sometimes the fairy tale is tainted.

Assuming the name of Tessa, Cassie moves into the life that was her sister’s, and faces first one realization then another, one disappointment after another. Stepping into Connie’s life does not automatically grant her all that Connie had or was. But it does deny all that she had and was as Cassie. As herself.

Just when she believes her life is on an even keel, something comes along to ripple the waters and remind her of her secret. Until the day she gets a phone call that rips her world apart. Who is the mysterious caller? And who knows her secret? 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

New Releases on The Writer's Alley!

If you need some new reading recommendations, we have you covered! The AlleyCats have been very prolific lately:

When You Look at Me (A Pleasant Gap Romance Book 2) by Pepper Basham

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Available TODAY! Click here to order now:

Christmas with the Enemy by Mary Vee

A Peace on Earth-Good Will to Man With a Twist of Romeo and Juliet Christmas Novel

High in the Rocky Mountains, the front door to the Windermere lodge banged open with a burst of icy wind snapping at Sam’s face. She cowered back toward the sofa, staring at a six-foot intruder covered with snow.

For years she’d stayed away from this place. It wasn’t safe. Her high-rise apartment, complete with fake fireplace and located in downtown Chicago lacked the quiet, but she could at least scream and be heard there.

The mountain man called her Goldilocks and accused her of eating his stew before revealing he was a Tucker and asking her to leave. Like all Tuckers, he was as heartless as Scrooge.

E-book currently on sale for $0.99 on Amazon. Click here to order now: Also available in Dickens-style paperback!

That's When I Knew by Laurie Tomlinson

Two childhood sweethearts. One failed summer romance. Twelve years later.

On most days, Chelsea Scott feels like her rapidly growing planner and stationery business should belong to someone else. Maybe if it did, it wouldn't be hovering near the red due to one costly decision. But the collaboration that will save her company awaits her pitch at the trade show she's keynoting. When her transportation falls through at the last minute, she accepts help from Nick Pearson, who’s unexpectedly come back into her life.

The last time Nick saw Chelsea, he told her he loved her, and she ran. Twelve years later, their lives are different, more complex than the summers they spent playing baseball and eating ice cream cones at their dock with their toes in the lake. But as they spend time together on the road, their feelings for each other become clear: all those years couldn’t take away how good they can be together.

When Chelsea's past decisions resurface at the convention, her newly rekindled relationship with Nick – and her business – are in jeopardy. Will their love be enough to keep them together or will another summer end with them apart?

On sale for $0.99 before price increases November 1! Get it here:

The Once Upon a Laugh Novella Collection

Eight brand new contemporary Christian romantic comedies are here to keep you company. Some of your favorite inspirational authors have come together in this collection of all-new novellas.

From light-hearted romance to laugh-out-loud love, this set will put a smile on your face and keep you reading long into the night.

Get all EIGHT novellas, including stories from Pepper, Krista, and Laurie, for $0.99 here:

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice by Angie Dicken (One-Year Anniversary!)

Journey now to Castle Gate, Utah of 1910 where... Forbidden Love Tries to Survive Old World Expectations

Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart...and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . . though she will be leaving her heart behind.

Thanks for reading :) Keep watching The Writer's Alley for more awesome stories coming soon from the Alley Cats! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

#TipfulTuesday Timeline Details

Today's topic is Timeline Details.

I like to pick a topic I am currently duking it out with...and sometimes winning. It doesn't seem like the timeline in our story should be difficult, but today's discussion might help you rethink the importance of examining and reexamining the details.

Let's look at issues that even a plotter might miss. 

Here is the issue: Some of the days in our story require more text time than others. We skim over unimportant things that would naturally happen, a meal, travel time, etc. The reader knows this. At other times crucial details fill chapters, all for one day! Keeping an eye on the day seems easy when we're writing. Morning. Afternoon. Night. Next day. 


Where we might face trouble in those crucial detail chapters is falsely assuming all the events can happen in the given time period. 

While captivated in a story, time seems to flow. But when tested, we might find too many hours of activity for the allowed time.

To solve the problem in my WIP, I walked through the days and assigned real time for each activity. This conversation and the ancillary details would last 1 hour. This drive would take 4 hours, (I googled the journey to determine this one). This activity lasted 2 hours including walking out the door and getting to the next action.

The day causing my concern had a lot packed into it. When my character arrived home that night, I wondered, could this character really do all of these things in one day? So I mapped out not only the activity but the time required in between to get from one task to the next. Everything had to be considered to keep the readers moving forward in the story and not hung up doubting the validity of the story. How long does it take to walk from the house to the car? How long does it take to order a meal in a busy restaurant or a rather empty restaurant? 

Time is crucial. 

It's easy to think the reader will morph because they are captivated in the story. But a detail like unrealistic time can snag the reader and cause them to fall out of the story and close the book. This reader may not return to the pages.

Time is crucial.

Map out not only the years, the months, the days but also the hours and the minutes. If you're not a plotter, like me, then test these components in the editing process. Actually, plotters need to do this as well. 

Time is crucial. 

A story must move forward from page one to the last. Even in a time-slip, even in flashback, the story always moves forward with realistic allocated units of time. Never assume. Always test. Do this for your readers.

Photo by Mary Vee
Basil, Switzerland
Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Mary's new release, Christmas With The Enemy, is available on Amazon.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Characterization: Digging Deep By Personalization

I'm not great at characterization. Years ago, I had an editor tell me my manuscript was lacking in character development. Good plot, but cardboard characters. So I picked up a book, Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins and began taking notes. I thought I would share with you what I've learned.

When you develop a character, the first place you start is by Personalizing. Most of you already do this by interviewing your character or filling out a questionnaire about them. Great! That is a good start! But now you need to dig a little deeper.

Basics:  General information, such as gender, age, work, social standing, etc...

Specifics: This is where you begin to ask questions. Say your character is wealthy. Has she been wealthy a long time or has she just come into wealth?  Knowing the answer to this will tell you her attitude toward her wealth.

Dig Deeper: Keep going with your questions until you can't ask anymore. Let's find out more about the wealthy character in Step 2. Let's say she had just come into wealth. How had she come into her wealth? Did she win the lottery or did she receive insurance money from the death of both her parents? Is she excited about the money, or does she resent the money because it represents the loneliness of being without family? Let's say she won the lottery and is excited about her money. Is she going to go crazy and spend it, or is she going to hoard it, fearful it might run out? If she goes crazy and spends it, what might she spend it on and why? She might purchase cars if she has had to drive old, beat-up jalopies. Or she might buy nice jewelry and clothes if she had been forced to wear hand-me-downs or shop at thrift stores.

But don't stop there...dig deeper. Why does she feel the need to buy nice things? Maybe she felt like people looked down on her for wearing old, worn-out clothes. Maybe she was teased or made fun of. Her self-worth is tied up in how she looks, so now she dresses nice and gets her hair and nails done to feel good about herself. She is worthy now that she has money. That is her inner value.

Traits and Mannerisms: What kind of traits or mannerisms will your character have resulting from their inner value? Our wealthy lady may continually push her hair behind her ears to show off her large diamond earrings. She may click her long, manicured fingernails together subconsciously. You don't need to give your characters an overabundance of traits, but you need some to reinforce their inner value and make them believable.

This is not a one time process. There will be times when your character will want to do something that is "out of character". Start the process over until you know your character's motivation and inner value. You can also do this process in reverse. Start with a quirky mannerism and work your way back to the specifics. Get to know your character inside and out.

This post is just a little taste of all the good information Brandilyn Collins shared in her book, Getting Into Character, Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors. Check it out!

What is your process for characterization? How do you build a character and make them real?

Repost from 2/14/2014


Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, will release May 2019.

You can connect with her through:

Personal blog:
Twitter: @sherrinda
Instagram: @sherrinda

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tipful Tuesday: Got Nothing?

Got guilt? Not squeezing in time to write "each day", as many writing gurus demand for success? Not feeling completely inspired to write that next great scene? Not aware of what that next scene might even be? Don't fret! There are a couple of things I've discovered by jumping over that guilt, and sticking my tongue out to the should-be writing time that just isn't-going-to be:

1. I don't think it's reasonable to expect every day to have writing time in it (especially if you are living in a busy season of life). I always strive for some daily time, but I can't beat myself up for not doing it. It's exhausting to try and be so stringent. It sucks away my creativity and love of story. So, maybe I'm wrong, but, I'd say, don't be guilted into a black and white theory on the timeline of a writer.

2. Just because I'm not writing, doesn't mean my story's not moving forward. In times that I feel stuck, or I just don't have the desire to pour my heart on the page, I'll jot down some outlines, or notes, or even a segment of dialogue that will appear at some point in my story. Even if my word count isn't showing it, my story IS moving forward on non-writing days.

3. Write bad. Yep. If you have the time, and need to just write something to feel confident in your process, just do it. I swear it helps to just write whatever comes out, even if it's going to be slashed in edits. It gets that story-telling muscle moving. My crit partner Ashley Young Clark​ and I always cheer each other on before we delve into brain dump writing, knowing it's not gonna be great, but it's gonna be--and sometimes that's enough to get your story going! Actually, the brain dump writing can become the time when you give up control of the story, and let God direct it in a whole new way.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

#TipfulTuesday: Taking The Next Step

A few months ago I went to Basil, Switzerland and had my eyes opened to a topic that I believe is appropriate for all of us. Please note, this was my observation in Basil and how that observation could apply to our writing. 

Today's Tipful Tuesday topic is Take the Next Step.

In Basil, I saw elderly men and women, young children, and all ages in between move about the very hilly city, going to whatever place they needed to be. A job, school, etc. I saw people walking, riding a bus, on a motorcycle taking the next step to get where they needed to be. 

I was surprised not to see strollers. Instead, small children rode scooters and kept up. Younger ones clung to their parent on a bicycle or other form of transportation. I was surprised not to see wheelchairs. Those in need had one or two canes. There were so few cars, I truly can't recall seeing many. There was a very efficient bus system that also connected to a railway for day trips to Paris and other locations.

I sensed a prevalent mentality, take the next step no matter your situation. Be mobile.

Some writing days can handicap us. Restrict us to our writing bed. We struggle to think of ideas, creative words, we miss obvious correction, we are unsure how to find an agent, etc. The uncertainties pile so high we sometimes walk away from a wonderful calling.

But God...
Called you to write the story in your head and no one can write that story like you.
Will supply words according to his riches in glory.
Will provide resources to help if we will only use them.
Has readers who need to read this message in your story.

In Basil, I saw people who stepped out of their homes and took the next step to do the task they were supposed to do that day. 

Caveat, the intent of this post is not to convey we should not rest, seek and use aids, etc. This is solely an observation of the people in Basil and the application to our writing spirits.

So. How are you doing today?

I have a friend who has been suffering from a lingering cold. She has pressed through with her writing, talking with her writing sisters for encouragement, taking medicines, and not allowing the spirit of discouragement to hamper her. To hear her talk about her story is inspirational.

No matter how you feel. No matter what seems to block your way. Take the next step. It will be like a medicine, bringing you joy.

Blessings on you my writing sisters and brothers. May your words flow.

~Mary Vee

#amwriting #TakeTheNextStep #GodIsCallingYou #TheWritersAlley 

Photos by Mary Vee 
Basil, Switzerland

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

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

Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.