June 30, 2020


Jackie Layton

Jackie Layton

Dog-Gone Dead is the second book of A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series. I created the fictional town of Heyward Beach, South Carolina for the setting of this series. It’s south of Myrtle Beach and north of Charleston. I took parts of some of my favorite beaches to create this special place. The island section of Heyward Beach has a few shops, homes, a pier, and of course a beach. A marsh separates the island from the mainland area of Heyward Beach.

I love the ebb and flow of island life. There’s so much life, beauty, and movement, it’s hard to get bored. Each morning there are new shells to be found, birds to see, and if you’re lucky dolphins to watch playing in the ocean. People who enjoy fishing can choose to fish in the ocean or the marsh, or as the locals often call it, the creek. People may fish from their boats, off a dock, from the bridge on the causeway, and some even pull on their waders and walk right into the creek and fish with nets.

Andi Grace Scott is the main character in this series. She’s a dog walker and grew up in this community. She knows the locals, and they trust her to take care of their pets. In creating Andi Grace, I wanted a character with a big heart who loves people. She thinks everybody needs a dog, and she enjoys matching stray dogs to people. She likes people who aren’t dog people, but she feels sorry for them. When Andi Grace isn’t working

When I started brainstorming this series, I researched careers with flexibility and mobility. I didn’t think my sleuth could be a pharmacist, stockbroker, or banker because these jobs don’t allow people to run around tracking down clues. I also wanted something fun, and what’s more fun than hanging out with animals?

Another interesting aspect of the Low Country is the warm weather and ability to grow different varieties of flowers throughout the year. Oak trees with Spanish moss, pine trees, palmettos, front porches, raised houses, plantation homes, sea turtles, alligators, and golf courses are all part of life in the Low Country.

Dog-Gone Dead opens as Andi Grace and her best friend head to a local historical site early one morning before it opens for tours. Before long, they discover a body and soon Andi Grace is investigating another murder. 

If you love small-town coastal life, dogs, and strong heroines, you’ll love Dog-Gone Dead.

South Carolina has been my home for three years. I’ve fallen in love with the people and the area, and it was easy to pick this for my setting. I hope readers enjoy visiting Heyward Beach and hanging out with Andi Grace and her friends. 

Former Kentucky pharmacist Jackie Layton loves her new life in the Low Country. Walks on the beach, bike riding, and collecting shells are a few of her hobbies when she's not writing. She and her husband also enjoy spending time with their family in Kentucky and Texas.
Jackie enjoys connecting with readers, and she can be found on social media as well as her blogs.

Social media links:
Twitter: @Joyfuljel

June 29, 2020


Sandra Mansfield Wright

In times of stress I find myself writing, possibly as a way to calm myself and think through a situation in a more rational frame of mind. It is a form of self-therapy in my life. Writing has always been a part of my life, beginning with journaling and then going further into writing books.
            At a time when the world around seems uncertain and shaken, writing words of encouragement and hope soothes my soul, and I hope something I write will help others find a calmness in the midst of the world’s madness.
            My first book, Little Gifts of Joy, came out at a time of deep sorrow in my life. It did not begin in this way. It began as a book to my grandchildren about life and the idea of looking for and finding joy in every day. It grew out of that concept into larger and deeper thoughts of finding joy no matter what happens in one’s life, a guide to abundant living.
            From this beginning followed other books; all with the major themes of joy, hope and faith; books of encouragement and thoughts to lift the reader from the depths of sadness, heartache, sickness, despair and hurt into a realm of hope, joy, peace and renewal. My prayer and goals for my writings are to give my readers a ‘daily dose of hope.’ The world in which we live tries to steal our joy and drain us of energy and enthusiasm. My books give practical, down-to-earth, common sense suggestions as to how to find exuberance and practice abundant living every day.
            Quotes are used often throughout the books because quotes lift me when I am down. Memorizing quotes, having them placed in my home where I can see them and read them daily is to me an instant spirit-lift.
            My home is a place of renewal and a haven of tranquility to me, and in my books I often give ideas as to how to create a space of serenity for the reader and ideas on how to design a life of substance and joy.
            A firm believer in the philosophy of remaining positive and thinking on joy, my writings encourage training oneself to re-think and change attitudes and give practical ways to do this. Finding ways to lift ourselves when the world is pulling us down is a focus for everyday living.
            Words, the right words at the right time, can heal our spirit and strengthen our resolve. They can cause us to grow and stretch us to become more than we once thought possible. Words written in love and prayer can soothe the broken soul. This is my constant prayer for the books I put into this world.

Sandra Mansfield Wright has been called an interior designer for the heart, specializing in bringing more joy and hope into the lives of her readers and listeners. She is the author of four books. 

Her book, 365 Daily Gifts of Joy, gives the reader a joyful devotional for every day of the year. Each passage, regardless of topic, points the way to joy and promises that God is there for us in every circumstance.

The Posture of Hope, Sandra's third book, will uplift and motivate the reader to find great power and security in prayer and in the reading of God's Word. A relevant book for today's stressful world, it teaches us how to replace fear with hope.

Sandra's fourth book, is an interactive devotional book entitled Growing in Hope, this book gives the reader a "dose of hope" for the day ahead. Always sharing uplifting and encouraging words to counteract the negative messages given by the world today, Sandra's writings are a breath of refreshment.

In Times Like These (to be released in 2020)

Visit Sandra at: 

June 26, 2020

Being Vulnerable

Susan Reichert

Through the years I have used journals to write my thoughts, words, and ideas. I have written scriptures that meant something special to me and prayers to help me. Perhaps you do to. I have kept these journals through the years.

Writers seem to always have ideas, thoughts and words follow them around.

I especially like to write things down, not just to remember good things that happen, but also write things that were not pleasant. In all honesty, we learn a great deal more from things that were not pleasant or things we were concerned about.

When reading my Bible, many times a scripture would pop up and I would write it down. More times than not, the scripture would speak to what I was experiencing.

Through different times in my life, I would use the scriptures and write the prayers that would speak to my heart while going through different situations.

I have about three boxes of these journals. When I retired as Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine, I felt the Lord leading me to share some of these prayers with others.

To be honest, it took some convincing for me to let others read my prayers.

I pulled out my journals, and prayerfully considered the ones to share. I sent these to several of my friends and from their responses, I knew it was time to publish some of the prayers, hoping they would benefit others. 

My book, God’s Prayer Power was born!

My dilemma was how many prayers? There are many. But I felt fifty-two was the right number. This way each prayer, scripture, and exercise would be something people could use to delve deeper into their prayer life.

The exercise in the book is the one I used to find out what God was saying to me through the scriptures which led me to be able to write the prayers.

It has been my experience, when writing devotions or prayers that you can tell when God is supplying the words.

There have been some great devotional books written through the years, and when you read them, they touch your heart, and many of them give you comfort––or perhaps wisdom to see the answers you seek.

Some of those devotions are Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God is Holding You Close by Lysa Terkeurst; Worry Less, Pray More by Donna K. Maltese; Grace Overcomes Today by Sharilynn Hunt; Growing in Hope by Sandra Mansfield Wright; and of course Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, to name a few. There are hundreds of others and thank God more will be written.

Co-Founder and Co-Publisher of Southern Writers Magazine. Retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magaizne. President of Southern Author Serivces which includes Suite T and The Gallery of Stars, and Collierville Christian Writers Group.

Author of  God's Prayer Power and Storms in Life.

June 25, 2020

3 Tips for Creating Compelling Character Emotion Part 2

Continued from June 24

Amanda Barratt  

The White Rose Resists was inspired by the incredible true story of a group of ordinary men and women who dared to stand against evil.

A gripping testament to courage, The White Rose Resists illuminates the sacrifice and conviction of an unlikely group of revolutionaries who refused to remain silent-no matter the cost.

An excerpt from The White Rose Resists: Annalise Brandt came to the University of Munich to study art, not get involved with conspiracy. The daughter of an SS officer, she's been brought up to believe in the Führer's divinely appointed leadership. But the more she comes to know Sophie and her friends, the more she questions the Nazi propaganda.
Soon Annalise joins their double life--students by day, resisters by night. And as the stakes increase, they're all forced to confront the deadly consequences meted out to any who dare to oppose the Reich.

Tip 3: Make the reader care

June 24, 2020

3 Tips for Creating Compelling Character Emotion - Part !

Amanda Barratt                           @AmandaMBarratt 
Best Selling Author

I’m totally guilty of ending a long day by collapsing on the couch with a favorite show or movie. Though it may look like I’m wasting time, I’ve gleaned valuable insight into the nuts and bolts of storytelling from my before-bed binge watching.

One of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned is how to portray emotion. I’ve learned this from both my favorite cinematic masterpieces, but also from the “that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back” less-than-stellar viewing material. Being able to recognize when art is executed poorly is an important step in learning how to execute it well.

Gathering insight from both the best and the worst emotion I’ve seen and read, here are three tips for creating and conveying compelling character emotion.

June 23, 2020

Characters with Worldview

Andrew Huff          @andrewjohnhuff

When it comes to developing characters in fiction, a writer can spend a lot of time defining a character’s physical traits, forming a compelling backstory, even assigning a complex balance of strengths and weaknesses, and yet still struggle to write the characters in such a way that they feel real and capable of carrying the burden of the plot. When I’m creating characters for my novels, one thing I try to keep in mind to help me write them in an interesting way is that each character has their own worldview.

June 22, 2020

When Water is Symbolic

Johnnie Bernhard

In Sisters of the Undertow, an upmarket fiction novel that debuted February 27, 2020, water is symbolic in much of the storyline detailing the tumultuous relationship between two sisters. I researched The Little Mermaid, The Great Storm of 1900, and Hurricane Harvey to create mood in its setting.

The Great Storm of 1900 struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. It is considered one of the deadliest natural disasters in United States history. Estimates of the death toll range from 6,000 to 12,000, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The Lasker Inn on Sixteenth Street is a survivor of that storm. It bears a plaque on its front entry, noting that history. Following the hurricane, it served as an orphanage.

Today the Lasker Inn is a beautifully restored Colonial Victorian, serving as a popular wedding venue and bed and breakfast for tourists. I am grateful to its host, Richard Connor who has opened the doors to this island jewel for my research. I have spent many hours walking its floors, listening to the voices of the survivors.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas in 2017. What was unusual about this deadly storm was the amount of rainfall that fell over several days in the Houston area. In some places over fifty inches of rain fell causing catastrophic flooding, impacting homes and lives of residents. The last two chapters of the novel are set in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.

As an author, I found the best research tools available online and at my local library. Online resources included NOAA, US Census Bureau, and the Texas Almanac.

The novel was recently recognized as one of the hundred best books published by a university press in a May 1, 2020 article in LIT HUB. I am grateful for the reviews and especially the readers who support my work.

Sisters of the Undertow is a novel of family complexities, sisters who are opposites, and their coming to terms with life and each other. It is available on Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite bookstore. 

A former English teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard is passionate about reading and writing. A traditionally published author, her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, both nationally and internationally. She has written articles and columns for: the Suburban Reporter of Houston, World Oil Magazine, The Mississippi Press, the international Word Among Us, Heart of Ann Arbor Magazine, Houston Style Magazine, and the Cowbird-NPR production on small town America. Johnnie's entry for Cowbird, "The Last Mayberry" received 7,500 views, nationally and internationally. 

Sisters of the Undertow, Johnnie's third novel, was selected for panel discussion for the 2020 AWP National Conference, as well as an official selection for the international Pulpwood Queens Book Club. It was chosen by the Association of University Presses as one of the hundred best books published by university presses. 

Find her on social media and her website,


June 19, 2020

Igniting Your Book Launch – Part III

DiAnn Mills       @diannmills

In our third and final session of the series: Igniting Your Book Launch, we will cover the topics of how to create successful book signings and special events.

Book signing events are an opportunity for the writer to serve:
·        The bookstore owner.
·        The employees.
·        The customers/potential readers.
·        The publisher.

Usually signings are held at bookstores, speaking venues, and in convention type settings. Just about anywhere people shop is an opportunity for a book event. Consider coffee shops, gift stores, craft stores, grocery stores sewing shops, clothing boutiques, and etc. A book signing in a non-bookstore setting means no other book related competition. The goal is to make the signing an event. Be creative and consider your book’s topic and how it can fit into other retail opportunities.

June 18, 2020

How Does A Move Create An Author?

  Nancy Arant Williams


First of all, I would like to thank Susan Reichert for graciously allowing me this opportunity. My name is Nancy Arant Williams, and I am both an author and book editor. But today, I want to speak to the subject of my new book release: Murder Walks on Peachtree Street. To be honest, I penned this book in the early 2000s, and even found an agent to represent it and the four that followed in this 5-book series. But because this series was not done according to the then-accepted formula format, she found no buyer for it. However, that was fine, because I was writing it for myself. (Recently, I was thrilled and excited to obtain a contract for this series with Elk Lake Publishing in Massachusetts after originally self-publishing all forty of my books.)

It was 1999, and we had just retired, moving from the only hometown I’d ever known in Nebraska, to the Missouri Ozarks, and I was at loose ends, homesick and terribly lonely. I had no network or church—even my two adult children and their families were back in Nebraska. People in Missouri have always been very nice, but they were all working two jobs, involved in their social circles, and had no room for a newcomer like me. So, from that lonely place of isolation, I asked the Lord, “What on God’s green earth did you bring me down here for? What am I supposed to do here?” And the Lord responded, “Sit down, because I’m going to teach you how to write.” Until that moment, I’d only written the occasional poem and short pieces as an expression of my personal feelings.

At that point, I told Him I thought He might have started twenty years earlier when I was younger and in better shape. (Just my opinion. Yikes—who was I to question God?) Yet in my spirit, I knew He felt I hadn’t been ready.

To be perfectly candid,

June 17, 2020


Gary Fearon            @Gary_Fearon_

Part 2 continued from June 16

There were some stories I was already familiar with, like how Paul McCartney was robbed at knifepoint while in Nigeria to record Band on the Run. Or how George Harrison was sued because “My Sweet Lord” bears more than a passing resemblance to The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine”. But what was the inspiration behind “Imagine”, “It Don’t Come Easy”, “Silly Love Songs”, and the rest of the 220 singles they have released as solo artists?

Knowing other fans would be as interested in learning these stories as I was, I set about to research the most interesting and insightful details behind each song. At the same time, I was also mindful of the historical significance of these works, so I made sure to include events that happened alongside the writing, such as 9/11 or the death of one of their close friends. My research and writing spanned over six months while I scoured books, Internet sites, newspaper articles, interviews, anything I could get my hands on. Sometimes my biggest challenge was what to leave out. Throughout the process, my Beatlemaniac brother was a huge help, proofreading and making excellent suggestions for clarity.

In the end, instead of the single “year of wonder” I had first envisioned, After Abbey Road covers the entire fifty years of their solo singles in chronological order. Like Clemency Burton-Hill’s book, the songs themselves can be found on YouTube and other streaming sites. As readers go through After Abbey Road, it’s eye-opening to listen to each song and gain a greater appreciation for the individual genius that contributed to the most acclaimed band of all time.

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ last album was May 2020, so I timed the release accordingly. The paperback and eBook of After Abbey Road are available on Amazon, and I have to admit I get a little thrill each time I see a sale coming from Great Britain. I may never get to Liverpool, but maybe my book will!

As we speak, I’m working on the audio version. That will keep me busy for the next few weeks, and I still have other books in me that I can’t wait to get back to. But when I do finish with the audiobook and have a little time to relax and read again, I plan to check out Clemency’s book that gave me the initial spark. It’s the least I can do. 

Musician and songwriter Gary Fearon has written over 300 songs, advertising jingles and morning show parodies. He is also a veteran DJ and producer. As a Beatleologist and avid analyst of entertainment, Gary has produced radio specials on the Beatles, John Lennon, and numerous other recording artists.

A former Billboard Air Personality of the Year, his broadcast work has been recognized by the Associated Press, Radio and Production magazine, and over two dozen MARS awards for commercial production. His voice is heard daily on radio and TV stations across the USA and Canada as well as on audio books such as Eddie: The Life and Times of America's Preeminent Bad Boy.

June 16, 2020


Gary Fearon          @Gary_Fearon_

As I always do when visiting my local bookstore, I found myself browsing the music section. On this particular occasion I came across a book by radio host and violinist Clemency Burton-Hill called Year of Wonder. It’s a book for classical music fans but it’s also for anyone seeking an introduction to the music of the masters. Its 366 entries present one famous classical work for each day of the year and shares background information about it.

What little I know about classical music could fill an orchestra pit, but the premise of Year of Wonder struck me as brilliant, if not classic in its own right. To take a giant genre like classical music and break it down into bite-sized pieces made it much more accessible and appealing. I immediately wondered if anyone had ever written a book using this premise that focused on the music masters of my generation, The Beatles.

June 15, 2020

Welcome to Burning Dress Ranch

Heather  Blanton             @heatherfblanton

Strong-willed, sassy heroines. My favorite archetype. Possibly because I know a little something about the personality type. But sometimes, to quote a book title, even cowgirls get the blues.

The idea for my new release, A Distant Heart—Burning Dress Ranch Book One—started with a news story. I heard about a camp where angry, bitter, newly divorced women went to recover from the trauma, and part of their stay involved burning their wedding gowns. Yes, it’s funny but it left me wondering about those hurting, wounded souls.

June 12, 2020

Hadley Beckett’s NEXT DISH,

Bethany Turner               @SeeBethanyWrite

I love cooking shows. I absolutely love them. I’m not even too picky about the gimmick of choice. A failing restaurant has a limited amount of time and an even more limited budget to fix everything that is wrong with their business…and hopefully heal their broken family in the process? Yep, I’ll watch that. Several world-class chefs go head-to-head to create culinary masterpieces with a basketful of random ingredients like kale, ostrich eggs, rainbow sherbet, and candied lima beans? Well, duh. That’s appointment viewing. People who don’t know how to boil an egg are forced to exhibit their cooking shortcomings by creating haute cuisine in the presence of Michelin starred chefs. Yes, please!

June 11, 2020


Continued from yesterday, in Part 1...
Frustration builds and egos get in the way, causing tempers to flare as Sheriff Pickens and his small band of deputies must deal with the death of one of their own, his killer and catching a serial killer.

            I knew very little about weapons except those I used in the military decades ago, so I had to do research. Google was helpful, but it wasn’t enough. I visited the local sporting goods store and spoke with the manager of the weapons section. He taught me about the different classes of pistols, rifles, and assault weapons. I needed to know which weapons didn’t leave behind shells. He was accommodating, and I learned a lot, but I’m still not a gun enthusiast.
            I also needed to research the effects of getting shot, witnessing a death, and the impact of losing a partner or member of a team. Google was helpful, but I also talked to a couple of law enforcement officers about it and got some insight. They also helped with call signs.
The research was helpful, but when it came to emotions, I was on my own. I delved into my past and remembered what it felt like when a bullet hit the ground three feet from me and what it was like waking up in a hospital room with needles in your hands attached to a monitor. And that feeling when you realize you’re not invincible and rendered to the sidelines.
But one of the most challenging scenes I had to write for Sheriff Pickens, was when he had to address the pregnant wife of his deputy in the hospital. That I had no experience in doing, nor did I have the knowledge or any place to research dealing with the wife when her husband dies, and she goes into labor. The best I could do was watch crime shows to see how scriptwriters did it and read many mystery novels to see how other authors did it. It wasn’t easy, and it was emotional for me.
Writing fictional mysteries is something I enjoy doing. Murder Knows No Boundaries has challenged me to continue the series, and I am now working on the next JD Pickens mystery. It will delve even deeper into the characters’ egos, fears, and emotions.

 George Encizo is an award-winning author and has written seven novels. Murder Knows No Boundaries is his latest. Encizo is a retired banker and lives in Tallahassee, Florida. When not writing, he enjoys a cup of coffee on the back porch with his wife surveying their gardens. 


June 10, 2020


George Encizo

I had always wanted to write a series, and so I wrote two books, Descent into Hell and Murder on Grange Road, with the main character JD Pickens, the sheriff of a small rural county in Central Florida. Then I wanted to continue the series, so I wrote, Murder Knows No Boundaries, as the third in the series.
I knew the characters and their fears and flaws, but I wanted to expand on them. I also had no plot and no story. In the first two books, I used a murder board as Sheriff Pickens did, so I picked up my board and started listing potential plots and titles. Titles generally come to mind before the story does which then, hopefully, leads to a book. Ambushed sounded like a good title, so I went with it, but how could I use it. Recent ambushes of police officers came to mind, and I decided why not give it a try.

June 9, 2020

Choosing A Cover?

Susan Reichert

When I was almost finished with my book, I started thinking about what cover would be perfect. I must admit, I was having a hard time deciding what would look good. I knew the cover had to be one that would grab a reader, but would also, give the reader an idea of what was inside of the book.

I want bore you with how many photos I searched through but will tell you it took a while. Finally, I found a couple that caught my eye...but by then, confusion was rampant. So, I narrowed it down to three I liked, and sent them to one of my daughters. She picked one, and it was perfect.

So, I bought the rights to it, but still something was missing. I called Kristie Koontz of KK Designs and told her I had my cover, but I also needed a sword to go on the cover. And she found it, a perfect sword.

Sometimes it takes more than one person to find the perfect cover for the book you are writing. I am glad before I started looking, I prayed about it. If I had not, I would have probably missed the perfect one and not included my daughter's opinion and Kristie.

Through the years of being with Southern Writers Magazine, I have seen a lot of book covers. Some were terrible, some were okay, but now and then you would see one that would grab you. Looking at those covers (by the way, some of those not-so-okay covers were from the traditional houses) I always tried to put myself in the shoes of the reader, wondering whether or not the cover would catch their eye, enough to pick it up and at least read the first paragraph.

Most of us are sensitive to what something looks like–be it a dress, color of hair, a house, a car, and yes, even a book cover.

That is why it is most important than an author do their best to make sure of two things: The cover of the book and the title. Those are the first two things that are going to grab a reader.

Happy choosing!!!

Retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Founder  of Collierville Christian Writers Group, Owner of Southern  Author Services, Gallery of Stars, and Suite T. Author of Storms in Life and just released book, God's Prayer Power. 

June 8, 2020

Short Story Morphs Into Novel

H. W. "Buzz" Bernard
Thriller Author

My most recent novel, When Heroes Flew, began life as a short story over fifteen years ago. That was well before I knew anything about crafting a novel. But after writing five thrillers, a couple of which did quite well on Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list, I went back to the story, took it apart, and rebuilt it into a novel.

The novel is set against a WWII bombing raid that has absolutely captivated me for more than two decades after I watched a documentary about it on PBS television. The raid occurred on August 1, 1943, when 178 American B-24s, called Liberators, took off from Benghazi, Libya, to bomb the oil refineries of Ploesti, Romania, refineries that supplied the German war machine.

June 5, 2020

The Story Behind the Story: A Cord of Three Strands

Christy Distler                     @ChristyDistler
Faith & Grace Fiction

There’s a story behind every story, and the story behind my debut historical novel, A Cord of Three Strands, is extra special to me. Why? Because some of the characters are my ancestors.

When I was growing up, my mom got into genealogy. She visited libraries, historical societies, cemeteries, and vital records offices, collecting all the information she found into handwritten books. And because some lines of my maternal grandmother’s family have been in this country for almost four centuries, she was able to trace our family tree back pretty far. It also helped that one line had a fairly well-known and respected progenitor, which meant more than the usual amount of information was readily available. (It also works this way when you have a fairly well-known and notorious progenitor, which we also found out, but that’s a story for a different book—well, if I can somehow weave a seventeenth-century female tavernkeeper who got banished from Manhattan Island into Christian Fiction. Yeah. We’ll have to see about that.)

June 3, 2020

14 Tips to Help Manage Time To Write

Edie Melson    @EdieMelson

I think one of the biggest obstacles writers face is finding the time to write. It is a common myth to think that time just magically appears.

Truthfully, we never find time to write, instead, we must carve out time to write.

That is what separates the wanna-be from the professional.

Tips for Finding Time to Write:

June 2, 2020

If I Were You

Lynn Austin   


The idea for my newest novel, If I Were You, began as many of my novels do, with a true story that someone told me: A young British woman met an American soldier when he was stationed in England during World War II, and they fell in love. The only problem was, he had a sweetheart back home who was waiting for him. But he decided to break up with his longtime sweetheart and marry his new British love. The war ended, and the soldier shipped home. Months passed before the new war bride received the paperwork that allowed her to set sail to be with him. But just as her ship docked in America, she received a telegram saying that her husband had died in a tragic accident.

What should she do?

What would you do if you were her? Return to the home and family you had left behind in England? Or stay in America without your husband, living with a family you’d never met? Remember, at least one person in her husband’s hometown had a good reason to hate her.

Authors love to ask these what-if questions when we’re plotting our novels, and this real-life dilemma became the catalyst for my newest novel, If I Were You. I also happened to know a genuine British war bride—a very dignified, tea-drinking lady with a charming accent. She was the mother of a good friend, and she always reminded me of the queen. Wartime romances intrigue me. They’re often fueled by the idea that life is short, so we should live for today because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. For many young women, a wartime romance that was forged in life-and-death circumstances is a love so strong that it compels them to leave everything behind for a new life in a new land.

June 1, 2020

The Story From My Dream…(Part 2)

Stephanie Payne Hurt         @StephanieHurt4

Part 2. . .continuing from Part 1 May 29)

I put my nose to the grind. Let’s just say, this book took a lot out of me emotionally as well as physically. Some nights I couldn’t shut my mind down. Even though the story flowed through me, there was something holding back. I didn’t know until I was midway through the book what that was. But if I tell you, it will spoil the book. Let’s just say, if you read this book, send me a message when you figure out what it was.

I’ll give you a look into To Dance with Dragonflies without giving too much away. This book is a mix between inspirational, Christian, and contemporary romance. The main character, Kaity, is an introvert, just like me and so many other writers. She stays focused on the life around her, not really getting into everyday world events. She has a faith that is strong, but she feels something is missing. Her favorite place to be is lying in a field that is just below her house. That’s where she can get lost in her talks with God, and watch the dragonflies dance from one place to another.

Then in comes Derek, a billionaire that’s walking through life in a haze. He has anything he wants, but there’s something lacking in his life. And he knows he can’t buy it. His search leads him to Savannah, Georgia. It’s a beautiful old town with a lot to offer. That’s where he meets Kaity. She’s different from anyone he’s ever met and the feeling he has the first time he meets her, well, it’s magical.

I had to do a lot of research for this story, but you’ll get that once you read it. It will make Kaity question everything she’s ever believed in and test her faith to the limits. Life will take on a new meaning to both Kaity and Derek. Forever doesn’t seem to be in their future, but with faith and hope, they push forward. Derek won’t give up, even as Kaity decides to let this life go.

Ok, I’m stopping there, because I may give away too much. Needless to say, this wasn’t an easy story to write. Inside this story I had to face some demons of my own. Some of the story is centered around something that has taken many of my family and friends lives. It pulled at every part of my faith, my strength, and my resilience. But, in the end, I was able to get it published. It was powerful!

With this book, it took me a little longer than I’d anticipated. The emotional level that was reached in the book made me have to walk away from my laptop several times. A couple of times I had to get up and get my head back on straight. If you think a book you’re reading makes you cry, try writing one.

Here’s some advice before I leave you. When you are writing a book, if it doesn’t affect you in any way, then something needs to change. Your writing needs to come from your heart. In order to take the reader to another place, you need to make sure that they will have an emotional bond with the book. They need to feel every emotion alongside your characters. And if they don’t, then it’s just words on a page.

So, take time to laugh with all you heart, cry during a book or just sit quietly and watch a dragonfly just doing life. You never know where your next piece of inspiration will come from. 

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, sheps 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's a ranch full or horses, or back to the Civil War saving a heroine, helping her find her love, but as always, she'll find romance even in the most remote places. 

All of 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.