Friday, December 4, 2020

Make Your Own Happiness

Sandra Mansfield Wright

It is time we had better learn to be happy by ourselves and learn to play alone. This year has been a year of isolation for many, and we have suffered because we have had to social distance from one another. The holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas may bring loneliness and seclusion to us, but we have the choice to either be sad, lonely, and discouraged by this or find the inner strength to make a conscious decision to be happy, no matter what.

We have the power, by our thoughts, to rise above the loneliness and sadness and decide within ourselves to be happy. Let us think of things to do which will make us happy and to think above our problems. I have made a list of ten possible things we can do to help us “think up” and be happy with what we have.

1. Be grateful.

Make a list of at least 100 things for which we have to be thankful. Writing these will bring them more to our attention. Focus on the good and not the bad!

2. Smile and even laugh out loud.

Put a smile on your face, even if you don’t feel it at the time. It is hard to complain and gripe when we are smiling. Laugh out loud, even if you have to fake it. Laughter is good medicine.

3. Play music you like. Dance to it if you feel the urge.

Having music playing in the house will lift our spirits. Dancing lightens our spirits.

4. Light good smelling candles or have essential oils in a diffuser to cause good smells in the house.

Smells of citrus lighten our spirits. You might even put water in a saucepan and add cloves, cinnamon (or cinnamon sticks), orange peel, and sorghum molasses to create a simmering delicious smell. Make certain you continue to add water to the simmering concoction so it doesn’t cook dry.

5. Have uplifting, good books around to read, or if you aren’t a reader, have magazines to look through which you enjoy.

I like to keep books, magazines, articles, etc. which I want to enjoy in my “joy box” or “joy drawer” to pull out on rainy or alone days when I need an uplift.

6. Make yourself a “joy box.”

In this place items you enjoy; such as a scented candle, bath salts, magazines or books you enjoy, markers and an adult coloring book, possibly needle work projects, puzzles, crossword puzzle books, find-a-word books, etc. You may need to start buying items for your “joy box” along through the months ahead and on days when you are alone and need something fun to do, put these together making your “joy box.” Also you might enjoy making a “job box” for another person to give as a gift.

7. Have delicious foods for yourself.

You may be a good cook yourself, but if not, buy some pre-made meals to keep in your freezer to pull out on days alone when you are needing an uplift. Good foods and the smells of good foods cooking make our home more inviting even to ourselves.

8. Go for a walk.

You might not be a walker normally, but this is a good time to start. Just getting outside in nature and breathing in the fresh air will lighten your mood and is good for you. You don’t have to go fast nor far; just get outside and walk. As you walk, notice the beauty that God has placed in our world for us to enjoy. Notice and be happy.

9. Sit outside when the weather permits.

Some days, even in the winter, may be mild and we can put on a sweater or coat and sit outside in the sunshine. Breathe deeply and slowly. Inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Relax your shoulders and think on good thoughts. Calm – Relax – Refresh – Renew.

10. Do something for someone else.

Think of others. Get outside of ourselves and do for someone else. We can write a note of encouragement to someone, send them a gift, give them a call, leave a bouquet or gift at their front door; just share our love with them. Start a list of things people have done to encourage and lift you up through the years, and send a note telling them what they have meant to you. We all love to be appreciated.

These are just some ideas to start you going. You can possibly think of many more things you enjoy. Think. Open up your mind and brain-storm, coming up with ideas for yourself. Make happiness for yourself and you will always spill that happiness over to others in your life.

“Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144: 15 (NKJV)

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 and visit her blog

Thursday, December 3, 2020

My Writing Non-Process - Part 1

Karen White

If I weren’t the shy type that I am, I might share with you a photo of my desk right now. It’s stacked high with two desk calendars (for current year and next—this last because I remain hopeful that things will actually happen next year), research books for three separate works in progress (final edits for one, beginning of another, and rewrites for a third), itineraries for an April 2021 book tour, a never-ending to-do list that starts with a call to the vet for not just one, but two dogs with different ailments, a book I’m reading for another author for a cover blurb, and a stack of insurance and financial paperwork regarding the care of my elderly parents. Oh, and my laptop.

I’m not trying to impress anyone with my juggling abilities (notice how I didn’t mention the endless stream of texts from my children requesting advice on every subject from boyfriend communication to my laundry expertise or the hours of answering emails or creating Insta stories and witty Tweets required of any published author).

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Giving Poetry A Try ~Part 2

 Clyde McCulley

Continued from Part 1

The next day  I was listening to birds singing in the nearby trees.

 The thought hit me whether a blind person hears the birds as we with hearing or are they blessed with a different symphony.

As I thought about this, a new poem started developing and from those thoughts I wrote a poem entitled The Sound of the Sun.

I have continued writing poetry for the last five months and have now published three books of poems. 

I am under no illusion that these make me a poet, but I am enjoying creating in this new medium.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Giving Poetry A Try ~Part 1

Clyde McCulley

My former training was in the visual arts. I was a college studio art professor for the first part of my career, then spent the last twenty years as the director of an art school.


I retired in early 2000 and my wife and I purchased a weekly summer cottage rental on Grand Manan Island in Canada and ran it for ten years. Then due to health problems we were forced to settle down from our second retirement, making Portland Maine our home.


My grown daughters had been asking me for years to write the stories that I had told them when they were kids about my growing up in the woods of Arkansas. I decided that I would, so in 2015, I wrote a memoir of my early childhood.   The book, “The Boy on Shady Grove Road” began my new career of attempting to be a writer.


Since that first book, I have written a series of books for middle graders about three kids growing up in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s, “Panther Creek Mountain.”


The series are wholesome books about kids learning the essentials of life while living without electricity and running water in their house, yet having many great adventures, much as I had done when I was a kid in Arkansas.


During the last few years, I have continued writing, as well as starting a podcast about memories of the “good old days’ and I have spent a lot of time reading.


This past spring when the Pandemic hit, my wife and I, like so many others, felt the need to cloister in our home to prevent illness. I will turn eighty in March. I have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, a lung disease so I must be very careful.


One day while sitting on our deck I was looking at the sky. It was a cerulean blue with a few spotty clouds. I saw a seagull flying above and watched as it caught an updraft of wind. I watched until it became so small, I could no longer see it.


Immediately a poem started to form in my mind. I had never written a poem before.


I rushed to my computer and started to type my thoughts before they escaped me. The words fell into place and within five to ten minutes, I felt the poem was finished.


I was surprised, trying to figure out how this happened. Here is the poem:

 a gull or an angel


watching a gull

catch an up current of air

higher and higher

until it was so small 
I could not see it


maybe it was an
angel returning home

or a gull who was
seeking freedom


wonder if gull knows

Kris Kristofferson’s line

“freedoms just another

word for nothing left to lose”


It is not that outstanding, but I felt a new creative outlet forming. 

The next day . . .

See December 2 for Part 2

Clyde McCulley was born in Benton, Arkansas in 1941, the last of six kids born to a father, sixty years old, and a mother of forty. Together, they tried to eke out a living on a five-acre farm with no running water and a two-holer outhouse.
He was determined to go to college and pursue fine art, ultimately leading him to complete both an MFA and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration. 
After working as a professor of art at several private colleges, McCulley spent twenty years as the director of the School of Art at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute.
McCulley's memoirs, "The Boy on Shady Grove Road," is a collection of 100 stories from his early years in the conservative segregated South of the 1940s and 50s.
His book captures life on a little farm that was financially poor but rich in love, adventure, and imagination.
Along with humor that makes many readers laugh out loud are the tender, charming, and even poetic musings of a man who recalls childhood with uncommon vividness.
His characters and schemes in "The Boy on Shady Grove Road" bring back memories, to many readers, of Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn."

McCulley has written a series of books for Middle Graders, “Panther Creek Mountain” adventures of three kids growing up as poor kids in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s.

Recently he has written three books of Poems. McCulley lives with his wife, Susan, and their cat, Shadow, in Portland, Maine.

 Visit him at 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Strong Words, Strong Writing

 Chris  Pepple

I love being a writing consultant and coach for both teen writers and adults. I believe that we all need encouragement and guidance through the writing process. When I work with teens or adults, I challenge them with writing prompts that are both creative and academic in nature. Why do I use both creative and academic exercises when I am coaching someone? I am asked this question from time to time, and my answer always remains the same: creative writing strengthens our nonfiction and academic writing skills and introduces us to a variety of creative options when approaching anything we write. Academic writing teaches us to hone our research skills needed for novels and analyze material to be woven into any writing project.

When I wrote my latest book, Write Away, I used a variety of writing prompts and challenges to guide writers through the process of strengthening their writing skills. Here’s one example of a challenge from my book that can help us use stronger, more meaningful and intentional words when we write:

Friday, November 27, 2020


 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:

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


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

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,,



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,


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 - , 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 - , or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano.