Friday, September 13, 2019

Why Reading May Be the Best Writing Course You’ll Ever Take



By Amanda Barratt  


It’s always a delight to chat with aspiring authors. With a smile, I always ask what kind of stories they love to write, and listen attentively as they share their ideas. Invariably, the conversation leads to me asking another question. “Are you familiar with the work of authors who write in your genre?”

Usually, the answer is yes. But sometimes, I receive a blank look. “No. Not really. I’m not much of a reader.”

The first time this happened, I was left fumbling for words.  A writer who’s not a reader? To me, that’s equivalent to a director who never watches movies, or a chef who never visits restaurants.
Writing workshops are amazing. Books on the craft of writing are wonderful. But there’s no better way to learn the delicate balance of plot and character, the subtleties of emotional resonance, the rapid-fire play of wit-laced dialogue, than by reading the work of authors who are masters of the craft.

Since the beginning stages of my writing journey, I’ve spent twice as much time reading as I have attending workshops, studying how-to books, and reading writing blogs. And I’ve gleaned twice as much insight into the nuances of the craft. Not only do I read, I study. Usually, I begin by reading a novel or work of nonfiction like any ordinary reader, pausing now and then to study sentence structure, consider why that paragraph stirred my heart. If, after finishing the last page, I know I’ve found a book that raises the bar on craft, characters, and storytelling, I re-read it. This time, I pay close attention to every scene, taking mental or sometimes actual notes on what worked and what didn’t. Even in the best stories, there are weak links. A line of dialogue that feels off, or a scene that doesn’t quite flow. I pause and consider what the author could have done differently. 

This critical thinking is especially helpful to cultivate, and then utilize when I’m editing my own work. Mostly, though, I focus on the positive. That unforgettable character or memorable line of dialogue, a seamlessly woven theme that will forever linger in my thoughts. The best books are experiences, and when I discover a story that draws me in and paints a landscape of people and places in vivid color, I know I’ve found one for my keeper shelf.

Our minds are like sponges as we read, growing and absorbing. As we take the time to study the craft of writing through the works of others, our own stories will become all the richer. 

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Charles Spurgeon
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ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt  fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical fiction, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love released from Kregel Publications in June 2019. She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards. Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe. Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net. Social Media Links: Website: www.amandabarratt.net Facebook: www.facebook.com/amandabarrattauthor   Twitter: www.twitter.com/amandambarratt






Thursday, September 12, 2019

Alphabet Writing Exercise Gets The Juices Flowing



By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

At writer’s group our moderator suggested we do a new writing exercise to get our creative juices flowing called simple, alphabet writing. It will make for a very challenging writing exercise, and I recommend having a dictionary and thesaurus near at hand.

Here’s how it goes. Begin writing by starting each sentence with a different letter of the alphabet. You must go in order, and remember it has to link from sentence to sentence to create a story. All 26 letters, from A to Z, must begin the first word in each of the first 26 sentences.

Talk about a challenge!

My friend and author, Michael Hicks Thompson, emailed me while I was writing this blog post and this was his story using the ABC Writing Exercise. You too can be creative, just like Michael.

“The Alphabet from A to Z in Cajun Country"

By Michael Hicks Thompson, author of The Rector and The Actress

“Abacus was his name. Because his parents, Pappy and Zita, were likely insane,” said Jewel, Zita’s sister. “Cajuns can’t hit a lick at naming a baby if theys life depended on it.

“Don’t look down on Pappy and Zita, though,” she continued, “’cause they had twelve babies, and Abacus was the last, so they tried they best, but they just run outta names and chose his from an ancient counting game, strange as that seems.

“Even they neighbors said they was nice folks. Friendly. Grateful. Hard workin’ folks always holding down two jobs each. It was me who taught Abacus about the world he would eventually inherit.”

“Jewel,” he used to ax me, “tell me, what’s the meaning of life?”

“Kinda like a journey,” I’d say, “a short one where you have to make the right choices to have a second life.”

“Like when I was a little boy, got into trouble at school, and told the principal it was my fault?”

“Most definitely just like that, Abacus.”

“Nobody was more scared than me, Aunt Jewel, but I learnt it pays to be honest.”

Opening the door to Pappy’s crab shack was Butra McAlfie, ‘plastic man’ we called him, ‘cause of all the wet weather gear he wore everywhere, even in the hot summa.

“Pappy,” he announced, “Yous in for a big treat. “Queen conch, got plenty of ’em today.”

“Regular price?”

“Sure, ’course.”

“Then put ’em in the freezer out back.”

“Unless you want ’dem conchs to fill up yo whole freezer, you best tell me how many you want.”

“Very well, you musta’ hit the honey pot.”

“World record for me. Xena helped, too, I must admit. You know what a tough woman she is.”

“Zita,” Pappy yelled, “get in here and let’s crack some ’o these queens open and cook us up some conch.””

Y’all can meet Michael and thirteen other talented authors on 9-14-19. You are invited to a Southern Writers Magazine event: 12 SOUTHERN AUTHORS AT COLLIERVILLE BURCH LIBRARY SEPTEMBER 14, 2:00-4:00 pm in Collierville, TN.

Have you tried your hand at Alphabet Writing? Ready, set, go!


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My Woman’s World Magazine Writing



By Jessica Ferguson


My goal for many years was to be published in Woman’s World Magazine. Not because they pay $800 for an 800-word romance, though I admit that’s more than wonderful. Not because they have a readership of 5.7 million, but what a heady experience to think so many people might read my words. My story! My name!

The real reason I’ve always wanted to be published in Woman’s World is because I like the magazine, I enjoy their positive stories—and I love a challenge. Think about it: WW writers have only 800 words to write a satisfying story with just the right touch of chemistry between the hero and heroine, including a witty banter or flirtation within a short beginning, middle and end. How hard can it be to leave the reader smiling? How hard, indeed.

I’ve read hundreds of WW romances. I’ve written and submitted dozens of stories. Since the editors don’t respond or send rejection slips, I never know how I’ve missed the mark. Am I making the same mistakes repeatedly?

Often, I try to be too different. My stories don’t have a logic to them. My characters don’t seem real. Can two strangers really fall in love within minutes of meeting? The answer is HOPE.

Here are a few things I’ve done to educate myself: 

I’ve studied each published story.
I’ve analyzed each sentence and paragraph.
I’ve examined every verb.
I’ve marked sentences that describe emotions.
I’ve color-coded setting. How much is too much?
I’ve even typed out several published stories to get a feel for the flow and the amount of dialogue.

I still can’t tell you how to write one of these deceptively simple reads, but here are my three best tips:

Years ago, I stumbled across Kate Willoughby’s blog, Writing for Woman’s World Magazine. Kate, a bestselling author, reads every published story, blogs about it, and offers an analysis. She also teaches a course on writing for WW. I recommend it to anyone who’s serious about writing short romance. http://womansworldstyle.blogspot.com

Another excellent course is offered by award winning, multi-published author Tina Radcliff who has sold over three dozen short stories to WW. If you subscribe to her once a month newsletter for writers, you’ll get valuable writer info, as well as dates for her next class. http://tinaradcliffe.com

Last, join WW Writers on Facebook. Those of us who submit to Woman’s World—whether we get published or not—enjoy an encouraging fellowship. We’re friends who have a love for the magazine and a common goal. We celebrate each other’s success.

After my acceptance, my excitement became something akin to postpartum depression. My long-time dream had successfully come to an end. And then I realized that getting published once doesn’t mean automatic acceptance in the future. Selling to Woman’s World Magazine is difficult. The competition is fierce. There are many good writers still trying. I’m thrilled the challenge is still there because as crazy as it sounds, what’s fun about easy?
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Jessica Ferguson is a former staff writer for Southern Writers Magazine, and the author of Save The Groom, The Last Daughter and The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies as well as magazines and newspapers in Louisiana and Texas. Summer Promise, her first short story to appear in Woman’s World Magazine, July 22, 2019. Hopefully, there will be more! Christmas in Love (three holiday stories) will release in late July. Keep up with Jess on Facebook, Instagram or by following her blog/website: http://jessicafergusonwriter.com



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tired of Writing?



By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine   


Do you ever get tired of writing? I mean the type of tired you just don’t want to write another word.

It’s okay if you admit it. A lot of writers get to that point sometime in their writing career. Especially if juggling writing with a full-time job, family, home, community, church, promotions, and deadlines. Sooner or later, everyone gets tired.

Yes, a vacation would be nice. But sometimes, you can’t leave, you feel stuck.

One of the most important things a writer can do when tired of writing is to close the computer (or put away pen and pad) and quit for the rest of the day.

I find it helps if we do something for ourselves. What do we enjoy? Maybe a picture show, a bubble bath, or a walk.

Whatever it is, do it with the intention of being present in the moment. Look around, appreciate what we see. 

When we do go back to writing, schedule frequent breaks.

My office is upstairs, so I make a point of not bringing food with me and if I bring anything to drink, it is a small cup. Then when I want something, I must get up and go downstairs. This gives me a much-needed break because truth be told, I could sit at my computer all day and write.

Even when I go downstairs, if I feel tired, I will lay on the couch for twenty minutes and rest my eyes.

If I can’t get my mind to shut off, I turn the TV on and choose the game channel. That gets my mind off writing and I find myself trying to answer the questions. It’s a great break.

Sometimes when I am tired, I find my writing a tad dry. What that says to me is I need to fill my well. I do this by reading some of my favorite authors. Within a few days I find my well filling and I start wanting to get back to my writing.

I hope these ideas help you if you get tired.

Happy Writing!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Sometimes it’s Hard to Say Goodbye, Making the Case for Epilogues



By Dania Voss


“Goodbye is the hardest thing to say to someone who means the world to you, especially when goodbye isn’t what you want.” – Unknown

As authors we strive to bring our stories to a satisfying conclusion. We want the end to be rewarding for our readers.

But what if as writers, we’re not ready to say goodbye to our characters or the story? And what if our readers might not be ready either?

What if we don’t have to be? Quite yet. Enter the epilogue.

An epilogue is the section of your book or story that would come after you type The End. As a reader, I love books that include an epilogue. I personally enjoy including an epilogue in my novels. I’m a romance writer so I share a glimpse into my happy couple’s lives anywhere from a few months to a few years into the future after the main story ends.

What kinds of things can you include in an epilogue? Here are a few ideas for you to consider.

·         You can show how your main characters have grown, or how they have changed since the end of the main story. The epilogue is a wonderful way for your readers to experience your characters still successfully triumph over challenges or issues they may have faced during the main story.
·         If you intend on writing a sequel, your epilogue can include hints or teasers about what your readers can expect next.
·         The epilogue is a place where you can express your main character’s final thoughts on events that happened during the main story.
·         Is your book part of a series? The epilogue can prepare your readers for the next installment. Include a scene with the characters that will be featured in the next book.
·         Include one last (minor) plot twist or conflict that can easily and quickly be resolved.

How long should an epilogue be? In my humble opinion, I believe your story should dictate the length, as long as it doesn’t become tiring for your reader. An epilogue can be as short as two or three pages. I tend to write long chapters of about twenty pages, so my epilogues end up close to full chapter length.

So when you reach The End of your next book or story, but you’re not ready to say goodbye because “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I hope you’ll give serious consideration to the epilogue.
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Born in Rome, Italy and settled in the Chicagoland area, Dania Voss became a romance junkie in her teens.  She is a lover of all things pink and a huge fan of 80's hair bands. After decades of voracious reading, she published her first romance novel On the Ropes, the prequel in her Windy City Nights series in March 2018. It was nominated as best Contemporary Romance in the 2018 Evernight Publishing Reader's Choice Awards. The Windy City Nights series takes place in and around Chicago which means - baseball, men in uniform, sexy Italians and steamy nights...She writes contemporary, steamy romance but at their core, her stories are about love, commitment, family, and friendship. She writes romance with heat and heart. Dania is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America and the Chicago Writers Association. She's been seen on affiliates of NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. She's been featured in the Chicago Tribune, the Artist First Radio Network, and has been a guest speaker for the Red Hat Society. Website / Social Media Links: Website:  http://www.daniavoss.com/ Blog:  http://www.daniavoss.com/blog Newsletter:  http://www.bit.ly/DaniaNews Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDaniaVoss/ Facebook profile:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010582547667 Twitter:  https://twitter.com/dania_voss  Instagram: https://instagram.com/daniavoss Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/daniavoss/  Bookbub:  https://bookbub.com/authors/dania-voss Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/author/daniavoss

Friday, September 6, 2019

Racing the Deadline


By KAREN BARNETT, author of the Vintage National Parks novels


In a perfect world, we’d have unlimited time to let the creative juices flow with our writing, but sometimes the clock is ticking. How do you get great words on the page when you’re facing a tight deadline? Here are six tips to help you meet your goal.

  1. Write wherever 
    Most of us like to be at our quiet desk with a fragrant candle burning, but we don’t always have that luxury. So, take your work with you. Waiting at the doctor’s office? Mechanic? School pick up? Use the time. I’ve worked through all of these, plus dance competitions, the playground, and sitting in the back of workshops. It’s challenging to write in these situations, but it’s possible when you try. Set a small goal for yourself: 100 words, 50 words, two sentences. Every little bit counts.
  2. Write whenever
    Are you a morning writer, or do you prefer the dead of night? When you’re on a deadline, you might have to push yourself to write at other times. Force yourself to do a 30-minute writing sprint in the morning before your shower or a quick fifteen minutes as your kids tackle the dishes. They might not be your most productive sessions, but sometimes you must wring out your clock like a sponge.
  3. Write on whatever
    Don’t own a laptop—how about a pencil? J. K. Rowling wrote most of her first drafts on scraps of paper, including airsick bags. You might discover that writing longhand opens a different part of the creative mind. I’ve met at least two authors who have written novels on their phones. Their PHONES. No excuses!
  4. Get away 
    I’ve heard from many authors who find it hard to write in public spaces (see #1), but some of us struggle to write at home. Projects are calling out: laundry, dishes, e-mails. I sometimes find it easier to head to the library or coffee. Noise cancelling headphones can deaden nearby conversations and signal to others that you’re busy.
  5. Set a timer.
    There is something about knowing that I have four hours to write that encourages my brain to daydream. How do I fix this? Set a timer for 30 minutes and focus only on writing for this period. Race the clock. No snacks, no bathroom breaks, no phone calls, and especially no social media. At the end, take a five-minute break, get up, and move around. Then repeat. Try it!
  6. Turn off your internet. When I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll often dart over to FB to “clear my head.” BIG mistake. Forty-five minutes later, I’m watching videos about baby giraffes. I solve this by manually turning off the wi-fi on my computer and making sure my phone isn’t within arm’s reach. No distractions.


These are some of my methods of squeezing out a few more words while on deadline. What works best for you?
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KAREN BARNETT, author of the Vintage National Parks novels, is a former park ranger. She worked as a ranger naturalist and outdoor educator at Mount Rainier National Park, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park. When not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, and public speaking. She lives in Oregon with her family. Her newest novel, Ever Faithful, releases June 18, 2019. Learn more at KarenBarnettBooks.com. Social Meda Links: Website/Blog: http://www.KarenBarnettBooks.com


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Southern Writers Magazine Supports an Authors Event



By Steve Bradshaw, Specialty Writer for Southern Writers Magazine and Author of The Bell Trilogy books 


You are invited to a Southern Writers Magazine event: 12 SOUTHERN AUTHORS AT COLLIERVILLE BURCH LIBRARY SEPTEMBER 14, 2:00-4:00 pm in Collierville, TN

The Collierville Burch Library is pleased to welcome twelve published southern authors to the SOUTHERN AUTHOR EVENT on Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.

International Thriller author, Steve Bradshaw worked closely with the Collierville Library staff in assembling a gifted group of southern authors to present their latest book releases and to meet the public.

“We wanted to have authors representing each of the most popular genres at this event,” Steve said. “Our authors write historical crime fiction, cozy mysteries, Christian mysteries, Romance, Young Adult, Christian non-fiction, Memoir, Short Stories, and Children books.”

“Attractive promotional elements and fun for the attendees were the keys to organizing an author event supported by SOUTHERN WRITERS MAGAZINE,” said Editor and Chief Susan Reichert. There will be 50 new releases given away on September 14, each signed and personalized for the lucky winners. All you need to do is stop by the Collierville Library before September 14 and drop you name in the registration box. The drawing on September 14 will decide the winners. You must be present to win. The library marketing manager Linda Brown said, “I want everyone to have a good chance at winning a great novel at our library. Although their supplies will be limited, we are pleased the authors will bring more of their books for purchase.”

The SOUTHERN AUTHOR EVENT will debut two nine-year-old writers with their first books. Come by and meet these wonderful young writers and talk to an author in your favorite genre.

Participating Authors include: Nick Nixon, Deborah Sprinkle, Michael Hicks Thompson, Tracy Crump, Jean Brunson, Sharilyn Hunt, Sandra Wright, Rene Dick, Patricia Bradley, and Steve Bradshaw  

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Is Writing A Desire or A Calling?



By Zina Hermez


Are you a writer? Have you found your niche? What do you write about? Right now the popular trends are diversity, culture, and social issues. It's important to write about topics that people care about. But keep in mind that your writing is not for everyone. Who is in your target market? I’m sure your ideas have been explored. Someone may have wanted to encourage others through their personal struggle, or they may have had a similar idea for a novel. With 1.5 million books out each year, make sure your writing is really good! We are not all meant to be writers. We can practice the skill, and I recommend it if you want to grow in your business.

But be aware that you will work long hours. The more you write the more confident you will become. It will become easier to convey your messages. If family or work obligations don’t allow time for it, ask yourself if writing is really your calling. It’s normal to feel fear. You may have a fear of failure or a fear of not fitting in anymore. You may have a fear of going too far! I believe there are endless possibilities for all of us to be successful in some endeavor. But if you are meant to be a writer, your words will not only change the reader, they will change you, also!

Recently I was approached by a company that asked me to take the pay-to-publish method. I was told that if I do business with them, my book may be “picked up” by one of their larger (very recognizable) parent companies because they would take note of it. There are all kinds of tricks, strategies and gimmicks that people use to get you to buy their products—but before you dive deep into your pocket, learn how to write better. Learn how to write a book proposal or a pitch. Start with a one liner!

Writing takes determination and persistence. You can't give up. If you are serious, you won't be able to stop no matter what. You will keep on going despite any criticism or rejection letter.  Join writer’s groups. Most publishers may not pay attention to you until you are established online, so start building your platform. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are important. This is where you can connect with your potential audience.

Create your own blog, or try to write a magazine article. Begin a monthly newsletter. I started by writing Ezine articles. Those short essays can eventually turn into chapters. Maybe one day you can compile an organized manuscript. The exposure will help you seal any potential contracts. I am still working on my craft. It can take years to develop your voice, but once you do it will be worth it because writing is an art and a fascinating field!
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Zina Hermez authored Not Without God: A Story of Survival and her forthcoming book, “Hope After the Storm” will be the second in a II part series. Her stories have been featured in various guest articles, medical journals, magazines, newsletters, and over 200 of her very own blog posts. She works as an English teacher in the Detroit area and has been an educator for almost twenty years. She’s had the privilege of working with thousands of students from different backgrounds and parts of the world. She's taught at General Motors, Nissan, Ford, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota. Zina’s worked with numerous children and accumulated many jobs throughout the years. She began her own teaching services incorporating math and other subjects and currently homeschools at churches. She teaches creative and structured writing as well as other Language arts courses. Her goal is to help others overcome adversity through her writing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Labored Writing



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


With the Labor Day Holiday fresh on our minds I drifted off to an evil menace not at all related to the holiday but was awakened by it. Labored writing. I’m not sure how it is triggered, or exactly what could be the cure but I do know it is something we all get a visit from now and then.

Deadlines seem to have a pull on us in one or two directions. Some it makes us sharper and work harder under the pressure. Some of us tend to approach it like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Then there are the few of us that tend to a combination of the two. No matter how you are approached it tend to make us labor under the spell.

Deadlines are not always the culprit. The culprit could be nothing more than procrastination. Failure to make a fast start out of the gate may lead to a slower pace down the road. A slower pace could lead to taking a sidetrack in the journey or even a layover at the next stop. Labored writing if allowed could eventually end a journey of delay it for years. How do you overcome it?

Pastor and author Bruce Wilkerson known for The Prayer of Jabez, The Secret of the Vine and several other amazing books also wrote one of my favorite books The Dream Giver. Wilkerson tells the story of a young man’s journey to reach his dream, his vision. Wilkerson tells of the obstacles this young man encounters and as you read, it becomes clear to the reader that these obstacles are the same ones each of us has encountered. Wilkerson does a great job laying out for us what to expect on our journey. As I read it, I was of an age I could look back and easily identify those obstacles of family, friends, worldly encounters and shortcomings of every sort.

Wilkerson also touches on what I believe to be true and that is each dream is a gift. A gift from a Higher Power. A gift presented only to you for you to accept and using your talents to bring it to fruition. I also perceived that should you fail to do so that gift would be passed on to another to carry out that gift, that dream which the Higher Power needs completed in their Great Plan. To be it is a “use it or lose it” process. The vision or gift must and will be completed due to the need of it within the Great Plan.

How does that relate to labored writing? Simply put…

“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?”  Tim Burton
As labored as writing may be at times we must think of the greater vision, the greater plan. You were not chosen for this because you were lazy. You were brought this dream because you will complete it. I do realize that we are like the Children of Israel. We are tempted, tend to get sidetracked and wander in the desert. But also remember the generation that caused the forty-year delay did not see the dream. It was others of another generation that completed the dream.

When you tell the labor of writing remember you have an opportunity, no one else has, only you can complete this vision. How uplifting!         

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Three Most Valuable Novel Writing Tips



 By DiAnn Mills, author of Fatal Strike


The power of a thrilling story has entertained readers for hundreds of years. If we venture to say thousands of years, we envision people gathered around a crackling fire listening and imagining themselves as heroes.

The novel is crucial to a culture’s survival. For through story, history is kept alive. Those in the 
present learn from the past and forge ahead into the future. Dreams and tales of wonder propel us to achieve the extraordinary.

So, what does a storyteller need today? The following are three valuable novel writing tips.

A true hero takes risks.
Heroes are launched into action with a goal or a problem to solve. The call is inevitable. They plan how to achieve success and realize challenges and struggles are detours, and not roadblocks. Doubts are prevalent, and weaknesses must be strengthened, but the prize is worth any sacrifice.

Choices play a critical role in moving forward. Sometimes three steps ahead mean four steps back. Staying strong is mandatory because defeat is not in the equation.

Combining the goal with choices involves taking risks. Not foolish ones but an exposure to danger. Heroes accept unpredictability, uncertainty, hazard conditions, and a gamble on losing a life or something of extreme value is part of the process.

For some heroes, taking risks is etched in their DNA.

For other heroes, taking risks is accepted because the goal means more than life itself.

For all heroes, courage is a matter of the heart.

Characters must face the consequences for their actions.
Our parents and caregivers instilled that we must face the consequences for our actions. No one receives a pass on this one.

Positive actions, good deeds, and sincere motivation are desirable to real people, but in a story, readers tend to gag at Mr. or Ms. Perfect. Not only are the goody characters boring and predictable, but they also have no reason to cast aside bad habits and misbehave.

A dimpled grin may lead characters to believe they got away with inappropriate behavior, but sooner or later the past catches up with them. Charming and manipulative characters are three-dimensional, and readers love them.

People are muddy.
Clear, pure water is our preference. But without safeguards, stuff happens. Dirt, sand, and debris invade the water, changing the looks and composition. The water is not appealing, and we search for ways to make it pure again.

Characters/people become muddy because of what they have allowed to enter their lives. Bad habits and selfish tendencies do not necessarily happen overnight but are instead a product of poor decisions.

News flash. We are all muddy. We have psychological baggage, life experiences, and constant battles that make or break us. If we learn from life’s conflicts, then we change and grow into better people. If we choose bitterness and revenge, we become antagonists.

Readers demand messy complications in their stories. Will the character survive or fail? How far will your character venture to take risks, accept the consequences, and realize they are wallowing in mud?
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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure? Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, or any of the social media platforms listed at diannmills.com