Friday, November 27, 2020

Part 2: WRITING REAL HISTORY IN A CANCEL CULTURE WORLD (A CAUTIONARY TALE)

 Tamera Alexander


Part 2: Continued from November 25th


Talk about a gut punch.

Again, Id heard of cancel culture, had read about it, had seen plenty of examples in the news. But admittedly, this blindsided me. Because Colors of Truth is about real history. Its a continuation of the two previous books in the Carnton series (Christmas at Carnton and With This Pledge), which contain the same setting, same characters, same storyworld. And those books had been very well received by readers.

After considering my publishers requested changes, I found I simply could not make them in good conscience. First, because many of the suggestions were historically inaccurate, and historical accuracy is something I work very hard to maintain (especially since I work closely with the curators and historians at the Nashville plantations that serve as the backdrop for these Southern novels).

Secondly, to me, the concerns over offending readers stemmed from a misguided desire to "right" history by rewriting it, by altering the parts of Americas past that are especially painful or shameful. But to do such a thing would not only be untruthful, it would, in my opinion, greatly dishonor the real freedmen and freedwomen who struggled under and eventually triumphed over the scourge of slavery, one of the darkest sins of American history. I simply could not make the revisions to the novel and remain true to my personal convictions. So where did that leave us?

Colors of Truthapproved by the publisher in January, printed and ready to ship in Junewas delayed, then ultimately cancelled in September, along with the third book in the Carnton series (that Im currently writing). That certainly wasnt the path to publication Id envisioned for this story. But as weve seen over the course of this past year, life rarely turns out as planned, right?

Yet I still believed in this story, in the power of real historyboth the honorable and the horrificto transform lives. To change hearts and minds. So, thanks to options available to authors today, I formed my own pressFountain Creek Pressand after a major four-week crash course in indie publishing, I published Colors of Truth myself.

Talk about a journey.

The theme of truth runs throughout this story. As does that of lies. Lies told to us. Lies we tell ourselves. Lies we tell others. Lies we even try to tell God (good luck with that last one!). We live in a time when integrity and truth are hard to come by. Major understatement, I realize. Telling the truth often comes at great cost. But through this experience Ive learned, yet again, how very important it is to tell the truth. To live the truth. To stand firm on the truth. To not bend to cancel culture. And to trust, as I do, that Jesus has all of this firmly under his control. That he knows, he sees, and that he’s working through every trough and peak of this life for his glory and for my eternal good. Always.

Talk about empowering.

God met me on the pages of Colors of Truth and drew me closer to him through the charactersstruggles, and through my own struggles as this book found its way to publication. My deepest hope is that readers, too, are drawn closer to him as they read.

On November 12, Tamera Alexander was inducted into The Christy Award® Hall of Fame. Authors honored with four or more Christy Award® wins are inducted into the Hall of Fame, which recognizes their legacy and contributions to Christian fiction.


Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including With This Pledge, A Lasting Impression, A Note Yet Unsung, To Whisper Her Name, and To Wager Her Heart.

Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.

These awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Bookseller’s Best Award, and being listed among Publishers Weekly and Library Journal’s Top Inspirational Fiction, among others.

Tamera's books have been translated into numerous languages. She's toured Germany and The Netherlands meeting readers and cherishes those connections.

Visit Tamera at: https://tameraalexander.com/

To learn more about Tamera Alexander read her article in this magazine.  Click and scroll down to this cover.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving In All Things



Susan Reichert



For everyone all over the world this is a most unusual Thanksgiving.

Most of us will not get to have our Thanksgiving meal with our loved ones, because we are all trying to stay distanced for fear of either getting the COVID virus or spreading it. We are all feeling isolated, after all it has been going on since March.

Never in all my years did I dream or think something like this could happen. And to be honest I resent this COVID coming into our lives and separating us from our loved ones.

Thanksgiving has always been a special time in my family. . . getting together, sharing food, laughing, and sharing birthdays. (One of us has a birthday on the 11th, my mother's was on the 19th and one has one on the 25th).

As I started thinking what to write on this day for Suite T, I started listing things I could be thankful for. These began to replace the sadness with joy as I remembered days of long ago. When I was a child, Thanksgiving included my grandparents, some great aunts and uncles and cousins, too many to mention. This was a long time ago (I am 76 now).

The aroma of food fixings coming from the kitchen; seeing the pies and cakes being set out made our mouth water and our eyes pop open, there were so many. We had apple, pecan, lemon chess, cherry, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate cream, and coconut cream. Even now as I am writing about them my mouth is watering, and I am getting hungry.

Now the cakes–– my goodness, we had coconut cake, German chocolate, pumpkin spice, caramel, carrot, sour cream pumpkin with spiced streusel, and lemon pound cake, and chocolate Bundt. Oh, and let us not forget the fruit cakes, both light and dark.

A lot of food had to be made to serve all the family and kin. There was a beautiful browned (huge) turkey, sugar glazed ham, lots of dressing, gravy, cranberries, and mashed potatoes. Added to those were candied yams, green beans, fried corn, squash, macaroni and cheese, butter beans, and field peas. We had congealed salads like cranberry-orange with walnuts, and lime, cream cheese, pineapple and pecans––all sorts in different shapes and ingredients. We had fruit salads, deviled eggs, and homemade rolls.

You can see why, when I finished remembering my childhood thanksgivings I was full of joy.

Even though we want sit down at my table with family today, we will choose a date that is safe in the future and celebrate when COVID has passed. Fortunately, we can talk to our families and even use Facetime and Zoom.

So, to each of you and your loved ones, Suite T and I would like to wish all of you and your loved ones a Happy day today asking you to remember, this too shall pass! 


Retired from Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine.
Director of Southern Author Services and Suite T.

Susan and her family live in Tennessee. She and her husband have three grown children living in Tennessee and one in Colorado.

Susan is the author of God's Prayer Power and Storms in Life.




Wednesday, November 25, 2020

WRITING REAL HISTORY IN A CANCEL CULTURE WORLD (A CAUTIONARY TALE) PART 1

Tamera Alexander





We’ve all heard of cancel culture by now, right? It’s not a new phenomenon, after all. By nature, we human beings can be a fairly judgmental lot. But in recent weeks, cancel culture has taken on a much deeper meaning for me. One I never expected.

I write historical fiction/romance steeped in real history. Real Southern history in recent years. I often say I could research for a living and be quite a happy camper. And it thrills me to think that someone who might never pick up a history book, might read one of my novels and, in turning the last page, will have gained a deeper understanding of America’s history and the real people who lived it. We can learn so much from those who’ve gone before us.

Do you enjoy exploring old cemeteries? Reading the fading names and dates etched long ago into crumbling stone markers? If yes, then I suspect we’re kindred spirits at heart. My latest novel, Colors of Truth, book 2 in the Carnton series, is rooted in the history of a 19th century Southern cemetery—the McGavock Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee. The largest privately-owned Civil War cemetery in the United States.

The details of the tragic origin of this cemetery are intertwined with the story of two fiery-tempered Irish sisters who come to America in search of their brother, and of a United States Secret Service agent hot on the trail of counterfeiters. Following the tumultuous years of the American Civil War, anywhere from one-third to one-half of the currency in circulation was counterfeit. So, this country, already ripped apart from racial strife and injustice, teetered on the brink of financial bankruptcy as well.

Colors of Truth is about the abhorrence of slavery, about racial reconciliation, and the challenges of the post-war period. It’s a novel based in the unshakable truth that the ground at the foot of the cross of Christ is level, that the immutable Word of God says every nation, tribe, people, and language will be present in the Kingdom of God.

Colors of Truth was initially scheduled to release this past spring but was moved to July 7 due to my own delay in getting the book finished, edited, and resubmitted last fall after what was a very rough year for me personally. My precious Dad passed in August 2019 following a ten-year journey with dementia. But he was 87, bless him, and ready to go Home to be with Christ—and with my Mom. Which made our temporary goodbye, while still painful, considerably sweeter.

In late June, around the day Colors of Truth was scheduled to ship from the warehouse, my publisher called to tell me that the novel was being delayed until October 6 due to newly-arisen concerns about the title, the cover, and the book’s Southern plantation setting. (You’ll no doubt recall the pockets of protest and the vandalism of Civil War statues and memorial sites at that time.) I strongly disagreed with their decision to delay the book and did my best to talk them out of it, but I wasn’t successful.

A month later, my publisher reached out again. This time to request major changes to the novel, sharing that they believed some parts of the story could be offensive to current day readers. They expressed concern, too, that the cover (featuring the actual antebellum home of Carnton in Franklin, Tennessee) and that the title itself (Colors of Truth) could be potentially offensive. They informed me that the already-printed and ready-to-be-shipped books were being destroyed.

Part 2 of the story continues Friday, November 27



Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including With This Pledge, A Lasting Impression, A Note Yet Unsung, To Whisper Her Name, and To Wager Her Heart.

Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.

These awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Bookseller’s Best Award, and being listed among Publishers Weekly and Library Journal’s Top Inspirational Fiction, among others.

Tamera's books have been translated into numerous languages. She's toured Germany and The Netherlands meeting readers and cherishes those connections.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Becoming Part of the Pandemic: A Freelancer’s Tale


Harriett Hodgson 





COVID-19 has affected everyone; the young, the elderly, the healthy, the sick, and people of all occupations. The pandemic is global and, like the air we breathe, it is everywhere. Many industries have been harmed or closed by the pandemic. Authors have also felt the brunt of this deadly virus.

I wasn’t concerned because I have a track record as a health and wellness author. Sales would slow down, I figured, and pick up again once the virus was controlled. But I was wrong. Across the nation, bookstore after bookstore closed its doors and shipped inventory back to publishers.

My award-winning books were part of the return migration. Since some revenue is better than none, my publisher offered deeply discounted books to authors. She also noted that audiobook sales were increasing, useful information for freelancers like me.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Words Are Sunlight in a Dark Time

 Stephanie Hurt 



Covid-19 has taken a toll on so many all over the world. As an accountant I was deemed essential, which meant I stayed working but under different situations. This took a huge toll on my writing. I was working longer hours in my office, and with all the restrictions, PPP planning and keeping my clients up to date on everything, my time was limited.

As a writer, I use every precious minute of time to put words on paper. But now I was spending some of that time working my way through all the new legislation and rules for keeping my business open. And when I did get a minute to sit down, well, it took everything I had to get my mind focused.

The loss of focus and time affected my creativity for a time, but then I realized that during this time of uncertainty and chaos, somewhere, someone needed to hear my voice. I regained a new momentum and set mind blowing deadlines so that I could get my fans as much material out as possible. So many commented that they were trying to read to keep from going crazy.

With that new timeline, I got lost in the words that came flowing out of me. It helped me to get past the tired, cranky situation I was in. I found solace in the written word. And deep down I knew that I had to help others find that in the words that I wrote. So, with a schedule, several outlines and a determination to plow through, I managed to publish multiple books in the last six months.

As I sit back now, I know that I pushed myself and my editor way too hard. But it was necessary to get through this madness the virus has caused.

My advice to you is this –– do not let the outside world affect your writing. It is hard, I know, but you need to lose yourself in the words. That was my constant. If I would have let what was going on around me take away the thing that gives me peace, let’s just say, a piece of me would have disappeared.

Together as writers, we have a goal and that is to bring happiness to our readers. The only way to do that is to continue to put the words on the paper, into the computer, or ever how you write. We are some people’s lifeline and that is a huge thing. To some, our words are all they have holding them together. I know that in some of my darkest times, books have pulled me out and led me into the sunlight.


My prayers are with those affected by this virus. I pray that we soon see an end in sight and that 2021 will be a bright spot in this dismal place we are in.


Stephanie picked up her first romance novel in her early teens and fell in love. She began to pen stories in notebooks in her teens and throughout her twenties.

It was in 2012 when she decided to publish her work and let the world in on her version of romance. Now she has 50+ books published and many more in the works. 

A busy woman, she is an accountant, children's minister, wife, and mother. Her life may be busy, but when she sits down at her laptop the world slips away and she goes into another place. 

Sometimes it is a ranch full of horses, or back to the Civil War saving a heroine find her love, but as always, she will find romance even in the most remote places.

All her books are clean, wholesome romances, some even dubbed as Christian romances. Her books range from western, historical, time travel, Christian, and she might even dabble in a little paranormal from time to time. Visit her at  https://www.stephaniehurtauthor.com/

Friday, November 20, 2020

Staying Healthy During Holidays

 DiAnn Mills




From the Harvest Festival candy corn to Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie, to Christmas cookies, and finally to New Year’s goodies, we are planning and racing from one spectacular event to the other. Workloads and family responsibilities typically do not change, we just slide the holiday activities in.

What can that mean for writers? Holiday activities often mean a little less sleep and a lot more carbs. But our deadlines do not budge. We must keep on top of our game and that means turning in our manuscripts and posting on social media in a timely fashion.

The hurried pace can make us cranky. The fast pace can give us a headache. We might experience weight gain, possible illness—all preventing us from enjoying a most favorite time of the year.

So how can we celebrate, stay healthy, and maintain our writing schedule? Here are 7 tips to help us manage the fun and avoid the stress of a weakened body during precious family times and exciting visits with friends.

1.     Insist upon 8 hours of sleep. This average amount of sleep for an adult is vital to keeping the body physically healthy and mentally alert. While asleep, the body repairs itself which means we stay healthier. Appetites are more easily managed, and our memories are heightened.

2.     Learn to say no. The invitations trickle in until we realize we are too heavily scheduled. Attending parties becomes a chore. Carefully select the events you want to attend. Consider your family’s needs. Your writing responsibilities. What parties include spouses or children?

3.     Make nutritious food choices. Many of todays hosts understand the demands of individual dietary needs. Alongside traditional appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts, you may find gluten-free, sugar-free, and low-fat options are also available.

4.     Drink lots of water. This allows our bodies to flush out wastes, stay hydrated, perform better, fight disease, and maintain a balanced body.

5.     Exercise. Those of you who know me have heard my stand on daily exercise. Not only does it fight diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but it also helps maintain weight, improves mood, fires brain cells for optimum creativity, and gives us energy.

6.     Establish a budget at the start of the season and stick to it. Nothing destroys relationships faster than a refusal to adhere to a budget. The funds allotted for the season should include all expenses. How sad for individuals to go in debt for holiday expenses. We can avoid post-holiday depression by staying within budget.

7.     Start the day with prayer. Let God guide you through every minute of the day.

 

What tips do you have for writers to stay healthy during the holidays?


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.

Visit DiAnn Mills at https://diannmills.com/, https://www.facebook.com/diannmills, https://twitter.com/diannmills


 

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

To Steal A Heart ~ Part 2

Jen Turano



Part 2

After deciding who my main characters were, I then had to plot out the story. There’s a lot of mystery going on, more than one mystery in fact, which made the plotting stage far more involved than I’m used to, but…it was fun. I like twist and turns and unexpected happenstances, so this type of series is just fabulous for me to write. Yes, there were numerous times when a mystery thread wasn’t working, and that’s when the delete button comes in handy. I use that button a lot, but for good reason.

What happens after I finally get through a story and write The End is when the real fun starts. Many people think that writing The End is the conclusion of the process, but it’s not. I would never send what amounts to a rough draft to my editing team. It’s far too unpolished. My next step is to read what I’ve written out loud – three times, making changes as I read. I then print it out and read it out loud again. That’s the stage where I make a lot of changes. For me, holding printed pages in my hand helps me see where I need to change a book – where it may be slow for readers, or where I’ve not been clear in making a point. I then enter those changes into the computer, read it again, and then I send it off to my editing team.

I have two main editors who read that draft, one of whom I’ve worked with since my very first book, “A Change of Fortune.” They then get together, discuss the book, then send me suggestions on where they think I need to rewrite. That’s called the content editing stage. I used to need an entire week to freak out over those suggestions, but now I just get right into them, normally rewriting a good portion of the book because of those pesky ripple effects. After that, I send it back in, my editors, hopefully, love what I’ve done, and then I get galleys from them. This is where my book has been formatted but I can still make changes. After I turn those in, I get what are known as design pages. That’s the coolest step because the pages are formatted exactly how they’ll look in book form. At this stage, there’s never much to change. I’m mostly looking for typos or misused words, things like that. While I’m going through the book one last time, a team of proof-readers is also going through it. We send any corrections we find back to my editing team, and then that is the very last time I ever read that particular book. I think that’s because I’ve read the story a bazillion times at that point, and it’s not really fun to read a story that many times because you know how it ends.

After I turn in those last design pages, I normally take two weeks off from writing because my house is always a disaster by then. Cleaning clears my head of whatever book I’ve just turned in, and by the time my two weeks are up, I have a clean house and I’m ready to start another book.

Thanks so much for visiting with me today. Hope all of you stay safe during these crazy, crazy times!

All the best,

Jen  


Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. 

Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.  

When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at www.jenturano.com - https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ , https://www.instagram.com/jenturanoauthor/ or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano.

 



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

To Steal a Heart - Part 1

Jen Turano




My latest series, “The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency” will start off with book number one, “To Steal a Heart,” coming out November 17th. It’s the story of Miss Gabriella Goodhue and Mr. Nicholas Quinn, who were once the best of friends when they lived on the mean streets of the Lower East Side, but through circumstances beyond their control, became parted from each other and are reunited under the most unusual of situations. 

 

I’d been thinking about doing a series set around women who run an inquiry agency, and after visiting New York City on a research trip, and then roaming around Bleecker Street for hours, I decided that location would be perfect for what I had in mind. I then had to decide why these ladies would run an inquiry agency because, clearly, that was not something ladies did during the Gilded Age. As I tossed around one idea after another, I thought it would be amusing if the inquiry agency came about by chance. That led me to the storyline I ended up using – that the inquiry agency formed when a resident of the Holbrooke boardinghouse was unjustly accused of theft and the police would not investigate further, believing they had the true culprit behind bars. That left the other residents of the boardinghouse with no option but to step in and try to clear this young lady’s name on their own.

 

Each resident needed some type of skill that would benefit an inquiry agency, and Gabriella Goodhue was the one who had the most skills out of any of the boardinghouse residents. Because she’d lived on the streets, and had lived under the guidance of Humphrey Rookwood, one of the most notorious criminals in Five Points, she was well equipped to steal into houses, break into safes, and react well under the pressure of the most daunting investigations. I then included a reclusive author, Miss Daphne Beekman, who has a talent for plotting out crimes because she writes mystery novels, and a scary owner of the boardinghouse, Eunice Holbrooke, who only wears full widow weeds and has more than enough secrets of her own, none of which she’s willing to disclose to any of the residents living under her roof. Mixed in with these main characters are the other residents, all of whom have normal jobs such as paid companion positions, sales clerks at Tiffany’s, assistants at churches, and even a resident artist who has begun dabbling in portrait work, but she’s not very good at it. With an eccentric cast of characters like this, I’m hoping readers will find the series somewhat amusing.

 

After I got the female characters down, I then had to decide who the hero was going to be for this first story. Because Gabriella is almost like an Oliver Twist character, I thought it would be interesting to reunite her with someone from her past, someone she believes abandoned her all those years ago, and Nicholas Quinn was born. He’s an interesting character, and in all honesty, he was a bit inspired by “My Fair Lady,” although it really would be more accurate if that was “My Fair Gentleman.” You’ll have to read the book to find out why I was inspired by that movie.

After deciding who my main characters were, I then had to . . .( see part 2 for continuation of what Jen had to do)

 


Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.  When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. 

Readers may find her at www.jenturano.com - https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ , https://www.instagram.com/jenturanoauthor/ or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

What I Learned About Myself Through This Pandemic:



Sara Robinson



I have managed to have some organization and direction in my life. Not much, but at least some things have been completed. A new publisher approached me, and I took this as a lifeline, dusted off an old manuscript draft, worked on some pieces, and sent it off to them. This summer it was published, and I perked up…. for a bit. Still COVID-19 free.


Then I got new car fever and had to have a reality check as my current car is a 2018 with only 15,000 miles on it. What was I thinking, my financial advisor asked? I responded I was not thinking, I was bored. He worked me through that by convincing me to donate some money to the Food Bank. And that not only made better sense, but then I did feel better. Food is love after all. Remain COVID-19 free.

Friday, November 13, 2020

2020 and COVID

 Patricia Bradley






February 1, 2020, I turned in Obsession, a 97,000-word novel that will release on February 2, 2021. It was such a relief to get that done that I took a month off to relax. Looking back, it seemed like only a couple of days. I did work on the timeline for the next book and caught up on everything I was behind on. Working eight to ten hours a day on a manuscript doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.

Since October of 2009 I have kept a daily journal. On February 11, 2020, my entry was: Please stop the Corona Virus. It was the first time I realized this virus might be more than just the flu. Less than a month later, I attended my last Byhalia Christian Writer’s meeting until no telling when, but at least for 2020…only I didn’t know it would be the last. That same day I attended the wedding of a friend. It was the last time I attended a gathering like that, as well. That same week, our non-profit shut the office down and let everyone work from home. We had entered a new world. Sheltering-in became a buzz-word.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Help From Grandmother

Bethany Mangle



I started writing stories when I was very young. My grandmother would write them out for me because I did not know my letters yet. I would add in illustrations later. It has always been a part of my life and I’m so grateful that I can finally share my work with the world.

The idea for my new book came when I was watching an emergency drill at work and I started to wonder what it would be like to grow up in a community where preparedness was emphasized as a rule. Doomsday prepping seemed like a natural fit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Numbers, Truth and Mystery


Susan Reichert




There are so many things we are hearing on the news about this COVID-19 . . .some days they tell us the numbers are down and the next day they are telling us it is way up. For me, I confess I am having a difficult time believing everything I hear on the news. I wonder if the numbers are true or embellished. This is not to create an argument but just stating a fact of where I am currently.

I love reading mysteries . . . and I am always trying to read between the lines of the stories. Hoping to figure out the “who done-it” before the author reveals the culprit. Perhaps therefore, to a degree, my skepticism is showing regarding the COVID numbers.

Like a book, I look to see who has motive, is there a hidden agenda, or who will benefit from what is going on. So, you can see my dilemma, especially when you are an avid reader of mystery. Do I look at current events realistically or through tinted eyes of mystery?

Also, I must admit, I believe there are times you must take things with a grain of salt.

But whatever the case, we do have this COVID virus going on and it has stopped us from seeing our friends unless we skype, zoom or facetime. It has prevented us from hugging those we love; meeting up for dinner, going to a movie or concert, and visiting our loved ones in a nursing home or hospital. It has even stopped us from going to church. It is almost like we are being isolated from each other.

When you put that on paper, you could take it and write a thriller. Only it would not be fiction it would be reality. 


Susan Reichert, is the Director of Southern Author Services, Suite T and the president and founder of Collierville Christian Writers Group. She is also the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine and publisher.

God's Prayer Power and Storms in Life.

Susan and her husband live in Tennessee
with three of their daughters and their families.



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

An Unusual Year



p. m. terrell





This year has undoubtedly been one for the record books.

In one sense, I discovered my solitary lifestyle is already suited to the restrictions of a pandemic. My writer’s studio is removed from the rest of the house, placing me in a familiar cocoon filled with the characters, settings, and plots that fill my next book. I’ve discovered this to be a blessing, as I have managed to escape for a few hours each day into history. Several years ago, I’d begun transitioning from contemporary fiction to historical fiction, and it had an unexpected benefit in 2020. I found that historical settings were soothing; no matter how dire things became with revolution, pandemics, plagues, or world war, there is the knowledge that the world survived it. The human race moved through it and carried on, many times to peace, prosperity, cooperation, advancement, and renaissance.

However, writing about historical backdrops also compelled me to travel to those settings. Over the years, I’ve met with historians, archeologists, museum curators, university experts, and more. There is nothing like standing on the battlefield itself, especially when it appears so much like it had generations earlier. There is nothing like touring Kilmainham Gaol, where Irish rebels, now revered, were executed or looking at the bullet holes that still grace Dublin’s Old Post Office, or touring the old Viking segment of Dublin Castle. Even if I managed a flight to Ireland, all are closed now, as they have been for most of 2020. It has also been surreal, discovering that while some countries’ citizens are allowed back into Ireland, Americans have not, because the pandemic in the United States is far worse than in many European countries. It has forced me to rely more on memories of my ancestral home.

To work successfully at home:

It helps to have an area dedicated to work, whether an office, he/she shed, or a comfortable spot in the woods.

Routines become crucial, rising at the same time each day, breaking at specific times, and setting the work aside at a particular hour.

Video has become a good friend. Many museums offer digital tours of rooms and whole facilities, historical and educational videos, and much more. Emails and Zoom calls round out my research now.

Learn to exercise outside the gym.

Limit social media. Many people that have been off work or work from home have flocked to social media. Unfortunately, with the upheavals of 2020, it’s easy to get pulled into the negativity. Remember, you control what you see in your newsfeeds. I’ve made a conscious effort to follow Irish photographers. They bring beauty onto my screen, and often their photographs are accompanied by historical information.

Above all, remember this too shall pass. 


p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 24 books in numerous genres, including suspense, historical, instructional, and general fiction. She is the founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina and The Novel Business. Her latest release, A Struggle for Independence, is historical fiction set against Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. Visit www.pmterrell.com for book trailers, excerpts, behind-the-scenes articles, and much more.


You will enjoy reading p. m. terrell's article in the magazine below, she was the cover January 2014. Just click on this link and scroll to January, 2014.

https://www.presspadapp.com/digital-magazine/southern-writers

 





Monday, November 9, 2020

What Has Changed My Writing Life During COVID?



Molly Jebber
Amish Historical Romance Author






I was a keynote speaker for the SOCAL conference this past July. I was excited to go to the conference, meet with friends, visit Disneyland, and more. My friend, Margie, had ordered these beautiful pink flowered Minnie Mouse ears. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? It is fun to do silly things like this with our friends. We couldn’t wait to share this experience together after the conference. We had a wonderful group of girls joining us. Then COVID happened. The conference was held online, and I enjoyed it, but I would’ve much rather spoken, hugged, and chatted with attendees and my friends. I miss hugging my friends the most.

Since COVID limits traveling, I have missed speaking in person. I’ve learned I don’t need to speak as often. God spoke to my heart and said it’s okay to be still, take a breath, and don’t push myself as hard as I had before COVID.

I had shied away from online programs like Zoom and more. COVID forced me to use these programs, and I’m glad. These programs provided a way to meet with friends and talk about my books and sharing about God.

I have more time to write, research, and edit my books, and readers have more time to read which is good.

I was in the grocery the other day, and many times, shoppers would greet each other. Now our smiles are not visible behind our masks, and we shy away from each other to keep our distance for protection. Who would’ve thought we’d be living this way? Life is precious. We need to make the most of each day as we social distance and do our best to stay safe. Phone calls, letters, cards, Facetime, Zoom, and other means of communication certainly help us keep in touch.

I miss attending my writing groups. I love chatting and working with other authors. We brainstorm better face-to-face. We will again someday. In the meantime, I sure did organize my closets, drawers, and files. I’ve also devoured more comfort food during this virus. Exchanging my cookies for cucumber slices isn’t nearly as much fun! Thank you for visiting me on Suite T. I love Southern Writers and the services like Suite T, and I’ve enjoyed sharing this article with you. I hope I’ve made you smile today. Big virtual hugs to each one of you!



I said to my loving   husband, Ed, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. A story that readers would get lost in for a while.” He said, “Do it!” My daughter, Misty, brother, Mitch, and Mom, Sue said, “Take Ed’s advice, do it!” So I did. The road wasn’t easy, but the education, Amish research, and ride along the way to getting published taught me to take my favorite verse to heart.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13 KJV

Why Amish Inspirational Romance?

I love their dedication to serve God. I visited Amish Country in Ohio many times. They work hard and have such a close knit friendship with each other. It’s heartwarming and uplifting. At the same time, they face hardships and difficult problems just like we do.

Thank you for your support and encouragement!     https://www.facebook.com/molly.morrisjebber

https://twitter.com/mollymjebber


Friday, November 6, 2020

COVID-19 A Toll Taken On All


Sandra Mansfield Wright






COVID-19 has taken its toll on everyone in different ways. The virus scare has changed our perceptions and thinking in general. How we people can be led to do things totally out of character and even sometimes against our beliefs is unsettling. Because we have been told so much contradictory information throughout the pandemic, we did not know who to believe. Our faith in people of leadership has been tested and shaken. People and organizations previously trusted, we are now questioning. Our very value and faith systems have been tried through this. Even people within ones’ own family hold different views on the virus situation in America. We all at times have been afraid, disappointed, worried, and even angry.

I feel the isolation and “social distancing” mandated for several months caused me to realize, probably for the first time in my entire life, how blessed I have been up until this time. Having family and friends near to hug, to hold, and to interact with was something I once took for granted, but never will again. Just a simple handshake to an acquaintance no longer will go unappreciated. I am a hugger, and the lack of interaction with fellow human beings caused a deep sadness and loss in my life.

On the positive side, the staying at home caused me to write two new books which were published this year. The first one, Gentleness, I began writing because I felt people had forgotten how to “play well with others” and get along. We, as a society, seemed to have lost the ability to allow others to have opinions different from our own without hate and bitterness. The second book, Strength, began while in isolation when I found myself singing the old hymns of faith out loud as I went around my home. I send a scripture and prayer text to a group every day. During this time of isolation, to these I added a hymn which went along with the scripture and prayer. There was such a positive response to this, the idea came to incorporate this into a book. If these helped me and helped my loved ones, then they might help others who were fearful, lonely, or troubled. So, even though the pandemic and isolation were meant for bad, God used the time for good in my life. The very writing of these two books got me through this difficult time. In writing and research for the two books, I found myself strengthened and encouraged.

Along with many of you, I saw great positives come out of the pandemic isolation. The seclusion seemed to bring out hidden talents and creativity in people all over the country. People thought of new ways to communicate, gather together yet keep their distance, work from home in new ways, have creative family bonding time, and reach out through music and writing.

Let us all appreciate and be thankful for the little everyday things which make our lives good. After this time of social isolation, I know I will never take for granted a smile (without a mask) and a hug from a loved one or friend.


“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant 

it for good in order to bring about this present result.”  Genesis 50: 20 (NASB) 





After retiring from her career in real estate, Sandra Mansfield Wright became an interior designer for the heart. She writes and speaks on the subject of joy and provides practical ways to bring joy more fully into the lives of her listeners.

She is the author of the book Strength; the book Gentleness; Growing in Hope; The Posture of Hope; Little Gifts of Joy and 365 Daily Gifts of Joy. 

Learn more about Sandra at www.sandramansfieldwright.com and visit her blog