December 30, 2021

A New List For Resolutions


As I thought about what resolutions I would make for the new year, it occurred to me to make a different list this year.

Instead of making a list of what I would do to make myself better or a list to increase work productivity I would make a list of doing good for others this year.

It takes only a few minutes a day to do kind deeds for someone. And most people yearn for kindness and recognition. So, this year my list could read:

Perhaps you can think of more ideas.

All throughout the year wouldn't it be nice to brighten someone’s day?

Wondering What 2022 Will Bring?

Sitting in my favorite chair in the living room by the fire, I wondered what the ‘New Year 2022’ would be like.

The past two years have been most unusual to say the least. But I did not want to think on these past two years and the devastation they caused around the world. Instead, I wanted to focus on the new year that would soon be here.

I remembered what Anthony T. Hincks said. “Don’t let the New Year get old.”

As I thought about those words, it seemed to me he was saying do not let the feeling we have at the beginning of the new year get to feeling like all the other years. To embrace the new year with awe and expectancy of good things to come into our lives throughout the year. Choosing to make everyday a new day in our lives. To create and achieve all we are capable of each day.

In this way, we will keep the ‘New Year’ alive every day.

Happy New Year to you!

December 28, 2021

December 27, 2021

Our Life’s Niche

Susan Reichert

Growing up we all are looking for our niche in life. The people we associate with. . . these would be the kids we play with growing up to the people we socialize with as adults. We look for the ones we fit into.

Webster dictionary says Niche is a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing best fits in.

We have all been at functions where we were uncomfortable, we did not fit in. So, we know why it is important to find our niche in life so we will be happy and be able to participate in life and be part of the community.

It is the same with an author’s book. It too has a niche; a place where it will flourish.

For every book there is a specialized segment of the market. It is said that the niche for a book is a very specific, tightly defined, focused audience. The secret for author’s is to find that niche.

So it is with life, people have a niche. Are you in yours?

A new year is upon us, and has we begin to look at our thoughts for the new year and making goals or resolutions, it would be good to look at our niche.

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. She is the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own. Susan is a member of the DAR and a member of the First Families of Mississippi

Visit Susan at:,

December 23, 2021

All The Things We do Surrounding Christmas


The day is almost here, we hurry to decorate our front door with lights, wreath and garland. Making sure our Christmas tree is all decked out in lights of color and quickly dash off to the stores to get those last minute Christmas gifts. We hurry home and prepare dinner for family and friends and then off to church for the candlelight service.

This day we don't seem to mind as much that we must hurry around, making the last minute stops on our list and creating dishes to please each one at our table.

When we get to the candlelight service, we slow down, and are reminded it isn't about buying presents, preparing food, or decorating trees and front doors. It's about a night, a night that Mary and Joseph could not find room in an inn and had to bed in a stable. It's about a night a bright star shining high above showed three wise men where to come; bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It's about a night Mary gave birth to a baby boy, placed him in a manger and called Him Immanuel, God with us. It was the night Jesus was born.

December 22, 2021

Sara M. Robinson talks about, Southern Gothic Poetry, What Is It?

Sara M. Robinson

Recently I read an article about Southern Gothic Poetry. I had to ask myself just before diving into the article, is there such a thing? As Southern writers we’ve all heard about Southern Gothic novels. You know the ones: Large white mansion down a tree-lined drive, only the mansion is empty and covered with vines and Spanish moss. The shutters are broken, and the once-majestic staircase is missing steps and creaks at odd times. There is always a ghost or two, an old sword, an ancient caretaker who creeps around and never seems to leave. Oh, and yes, no electricity, but loads of candles. All is climaxed by the raging thunderstorm of the century. You can think of Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor as examples.

You now ask, what does this have to do with poetry? Well, for starters, the language of southern gothic writing is amazing. The visuals must be startling and complex. Everything has to be backed by haunts of historical proportion. The poetry, to not be dismissed as trite or hokey, needs to connect with basic human truths. So, who writes this type of poetry? Here are some names: C.D. Wright, Frank Stanford, Robert Penn Warren, James Dickey (of Deliverance fame), and Donald Justice. The imaginative placement and choice of words strikes me as potently differential. Here is what I mean, from Robert Penn Warren: “A door opening. I see / Your small form black against the light, and the door / Is closed, and I // Hear night crash down a million stairs. / In the ensuing silence / My breath is difficult. // Heat lighting ranges beyond the horizon. // That, also, is worth mentioning… What is special about this is use of night, black, silence, lightning… all good examples of southern writing.

For your reading enjoyment, here is my offering:

Short History of a Southern Mansion

Every Southern mansion with a mysterious past is called Twin Oaks. All have massive front yards with boxwoods and a shiny black gate at the end of a mile-long drive which creaks on rusted hinges when it opens.

In a raked dirt backyard near the kitchen porch a small vegetable garden with heirloom tomatoes and summer squash gourds, lavender-colored hollyhocks and a compost pile home for night crawlers.

Behind the chicken coop, a small green grass cemetery holds children’s pets: dogs, cats, turtles, a bunny. On a knoll tangled fences surround a family of tombstones dating back to before the Civil War. Like returned soldiers the ancient Bur Oak lost
a few limbs & gained a few scars. Thorns and thistles line the path leading down to the river. Spanish moss hangs like old weeping spinsters waiting for a trace of company. Fog and sheer curtains invite misty humid days inside where the damp can find a home on damask parlor chairs.

The fireplace is huge, deep, with a hidden staircase where Yankee ghosts make another pass. An old faded floor globe stands by cast iron Pal, Colonel’s favorite hunting dog.

Something always rattles in a far room on the top floor, followed by a not-so-subtle door creak. Maybe the breeze, then maybe not. Stairs moan a hollow sound of intrusion. Dust flies, then settles.

Luther, the ancient darkie handyman, and his wife, Loretta, who live back behind the kitchen either shell peas or roast a chicken on most days. Their three children, two boys and a girl, are grown and now live-in town. They spend Sundays here, always leave with a box of vegetables, some cured ham.

Colonel and his missus are the same age as Luther. Their children are long gone, too. They won’t come back but send letters imploring their folks to move into town
to an old-age home that fronts main street. The oldest boy is an attorney in the state capita with a trophy wife who heads up the local junior league. Neither like the country and when they have returned they always manage to either attract ticks or trip on an old dog. Some day the house will be too old to keep.

A young couple will buy the property and in the attic will discover an old trunk filled with uniforms, christening gowns, a few yellowed papers. A door will slam somewhere on the second floor. Upon further investigation a secret will be revealed. A secret so remarkable, so horrible that for years books will be written about it. Grade B Movies made. The house will burn down. In smoldering ashes, a lone firefighter will find an old, jeweled ring, still connected to a finger bone. Clean cut.

Until next time…

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

NOSTALGIC MOMENT with Chris Pepple on Strong Words, Strong Writing


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:

As writers, sometimes we say a whole lot of nothing. We use too many words or “empty” words that sound impressive but don’t tell the readers much. We also tend to overuse words. For example, if I am telling you about a product or describing a person and I use the word “special,” what does that really mean to you if you are not be familiar with that product or that person? The word “special” has been used so much that it really doesn’t always mean a lot to the reader. You have to tell us what is extraordinary about your product, person, or belief rather than say they are special or extraordinary.

Example of weak/empty writing: Mike is an extraordinary cyclist! Buy his book today to read about his wonderful adventures.

Better: Mike amazed the cycling community when he completed the 2,007-mile bike route in three months. Buy his book to read about his trek along the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. (This is specific and communicates details.

This challenge requires you to consider two writing styles to communicate to your audience: persuasive and descriptive. Persuasive writing encourages the reader to do something (support an organization, donate money, buy a product, vote for a candidate, etc.). The language persuades someone to take action. Descriptive writing, however, uses words to paint a picture or relay a thought or feeling to someone. In descriptive writing, you may choose to use more adjectives or more emotions to tell your story.

This writing challenge has two parts. First, think of your favorite homemade meal. This can be a dish you make or one that another family member cooks for you. (Take a few minutes to jot down notes on what you like best about this particular dish or meal.)

Part one: Now you have to market this meal or dish. In 60 words or less, tell me about your product and try to convince me to buy this dish as if you had it for sale in my local market or restaurant. This challenge uses persuasive writing.

Part two: Now you have to write about this dish as if you are including it as part of a short story or novel. In 150 words or less, describe this meal as if a character in your book is cooking it or eating it. Make the reader picture a scene with the food in the kitchen or just coming out of the oven or write as if the food is already on the table with a character tasting, smelling, and enjoying this food. This part of the challenge will be descriptive writing. (You don’t have to describe anything about the character or your “book” in order for you to write the food scene.)

Notice how your objective will be different for each part of the assignment. In the first part, you are trying to market or sell your product. You want someone to take action. In the second part, you are entertaining your reader and drawing your reader into a story with specific details of a meal. Your word choices will be different in each part.

How does this help a writer at all? Each writing challenge helps you strengthen your writing skills overall by just getting you to write. As with any skill, the more you practice, the

better you become. Also, this writing challenge helps you identify your objectives for writing. At times in life, you will need to use persuasive writing to convince someone to hire you or consider you for a scholarship. You might be trying to influence someone to publish your book or hire your band. At other times, you are going to be writing to convey an idea or entertain a reader. This writing challenge also forces you to choose strong, active, specific words to convey your idea in a limited amount of space.

Never stop challenging yourself to sharpen your writing skills and find new, fresh ways to get your words down on paper and to your readers. Happy writing!

Chris Pepple is an award-winning author and a freelance writer, manuscript consultant, and editor living in Germantown, Tenn. As a published author,her works include Write Away: Writing Guides from an Author and Teacher (2020), Finding Me (2020), Looking, Seeing (2018), Without a Voice (2017), Two Frontiers (2016), Writing Your Faith Journey (2016), Look to See Me: A Collection of Reflections (2006) and Reflections on Suffering: Defining Our Crosses and Letting Go of Pain (2012). My first novel, Two Frontiers, was a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist.

She was long-time writer-at-large for Southern Writers Magazine, interviewing national authors for each issue. Her articles have appeared in many other local and national publications, including Delta Magazine.

She speaks to writing groups on topics such as self-publishing, how to find your own creative voice and how to break writer's block. Along with speaking to writing groups, She also speaks nationally to churches and nonprofit organizations on a variety of motivational and spiritual topics.

December 21, 2021

Nostalgic Moment with Susan Reichert on Why Build a World for Your Story?



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why Build a World for Your Story?

By Susan Reichert

Believe it or not, most times, the setting we choose for our story is like a character. We must create that world. It may look like the world you live in, but it will have its differences.

This world is going to need its own look, sounds, and smells.

Even if you choose a setting like where you grew up, you will still add stores, houses, malls, a river, or stream or mountain that did not exist in your town.

The characters you create will need certain locations. You may need to create the places they work, the restaurants where they eat, or a diner they visit every morning for breakfast. You may want to put a particular church or a hardware store.

All these things you could create and place in this world.

This world will have a feel about it that is different from other places. Real or imagined.

This is the place your characters are going to come to life. The more you know about this world, the more you bring it to life for your reader. Even though you may not use everything you create for this new world in your story, by just knowing these things it puts more richness in your story.

Take it a few steps further, you could develop a little history for this new world. What are its laws, rules, does it have folk lore?

The most important rule of all when creating your world, is show, do not tell the reader. Open the door and bring them into this world you have created.

Some authors draw maps of their towns and surrounding countryside and put them in their books. Having read some of those authors, like Lin Stepp, it made it much more interesting and just delivered me into the world she created. As I read other author’s books I could picture the towns, a post office if they had it, where the general store was . . . across the street, with its red roof and black writing on the front of the store. I can follow the street a character takes to walk down to the bait shop and know that when the character is walking up Main Street they will run right into the courthouse. It creates for the reader a picture in their minds drawing them into the story feeling like they are there.

What all can you add to your new world you create for your story? What about the type of weather in that location? The flowers and fauna you find. Everything is usable in the world you create. The secret is to make this created world seem real.

However, you do not want it to overshadow your story. So, think about what type of world you want to create and how you can help your reader enter that world and be part of what you have created.

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. She is the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own. Susan is a member of the DAR and a member of the First Families of Mississippi

Visit Susan at:,, , Amazon -

December 20, 2021

NOSTAGLIC MOMENT with Dianne Harman on It's Never Too Late


Monday, December 21, 2015

It’s Never Too Late!

By Dianne Harman

According to whatever written word one is reading, I’m elderly, or so they refer to people my age in the newspapers and in books. I’ve always liked the saying that goes something like, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” I think I’d be in my 40’s or 50’s. You probably wonder why I even bother to bring this up.

Well, I wrote my first book and published it when I was 68. Now, its three years later, and I have fourteen books out and all of them have been best sellers and several are #1 now in various categories on Amazon. Too late to start something new? Don’t think so. At least that memo never made it to me.

It all started when my husband and I were at a wedding in Palm Springs. It was 107 degrees in October. I made an offhand statement that changed my life. I looked at him and said, “Wouldn’t it be wild if someone put a drug in the air conditioning and everyone felt good all the time. And so Blue Coyote Motel was born, the first of three in the suspense series. I started writing it that afternoon on my iPad at the hotel. It received great reviews and even won a couple of awards. I was pleasantly shocked.

I changed genres a year ago. I remember the moment well. We were at a resort in Arizona, and I was having coffee in bed, playing with my iPad. I started making some notes about a coffee shop on the Oregon Coast. At that moment I decided to write a cozy mystery because I love dogs, food, and cooking. A month later I published Kelly’s Koffee Shop, the first of the Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery Series. For whatever reason, it was an instant hit with people and climbed to the top of the charts, even making Amazon’s Best Seller List of Top 100 Paid Kindle Books. Without setting out to do it, I’d started a series. People wanted more of Kelly and Mike and their adventures. Several books into the series I wondered what would happen if I started another series.

I wrote about a woman who is widowed and owns a spa/lodge north of San Francisco on the coast. The first book in that series, Murder at Cottage #6, sold amazingly well. I was thrilled that I wasn’t a one series author.

Now I’m getting ready to publish the first book in yet another series, Murder and the Monkey Band, a High Desert Cozy Mystery Series set in a small town near Palm Springs, California. The protagonist in this series is an antique and art appraiser with a psychic sister. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will do.

I’ve been told by readers that one of the reasons they love my books is because the main characters are middle-aged. They’ve seen a lot of life and even have a little baggage at this time of their lives, but don’t we all? Children, grandchildren, ex-husbands, deceased husbands, all of these are part of my books.

When I speak to groups I’m often asked if I have any advice for someone who would like to write a book. Sure do – just do it. You don’t need a million workshops, review groups, or a degree in writing. Just do it! Follow your passion. Who knows? You may have a best seller on your hand.

USA Today Bestselling Author and Amazon All-Star, Dianne Harman, draws her stories and characters from a diverse business and personal background. She owned a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, left that industry, and opened two yoga centers where she taught yoga and certified yoga instructors.

She's traveled extensively throughout the world and loves nothing more than cooking with her husband, Tom, and playing with their boxer dog, Kelly.

Being a dog lover and having attended numerous cooking schools, she couldn't resist writing about food and dogs. She’s the author of several cozy mystery series: Cedar Bay, Liz Lucas, High Desert, Midwest, Cottonwood Springs, and Chef Dani Rosetti. Most of these books contains recipes from her travels.

She is also the author of the award-winning suspenseful Coyote Series, Midlife Journey Series, Holly Lewis Mystery Series, Miranda Riley Paranormal Cozy Mystery Series, and the Maria Rodriguez Mystery Series.

She hopes you enjoy the reads as much as she enjoyed the writes.

December 17, 2021

NOSTALGIC MOMENT with Kathi Daley on The Myth of Writer's Block


Monday, November 16, 2015

The Myth of Writer’s Block

By Kathi Daley

People often write to me asking how I deal with certain aspects of the writing process. One of the most popular questions I’ve been asked has to do with writer’s block and how I deal with it. The reality is I don’t have to deal with writer’s block because I don’t believe in it.

Don’t get me wrong—there are days when I feel uninspired, and there’s at least one point in every book I write when I feel stuck, but if I allowed myself to give in to the luxury of being blocked, I never would have been able to write 32 books in the 24 months I’ve been a writer.

So, what do I do when I’m stuck? I write. There are days when I write an entire paragraph filled with “I’m so stuck, so very, very stuck”—yes, those actual words—but I’ve found that if I keep writing the nonsense starts to make sense and from the rubbish magic appears.

Another method I at times employ is to let the character in the book I’m writing be as stuck as I am. I then team up with the character to work out the direction of the book. When I was writing Hopscotch Homicide, I was quite a ways into the book and had no idea who the killer was or where to go with the story. I was scribbling on my notepad, making little happy faces, and asking myself the obvious questions, such as who did it and why. I decided to have my character, Zoe, mimic my movement, and the text below is the result.

(Text below is from the book; Zoe is narrating the passage late at night.)

Who killed Mrs. Brown?

I looked at the question for several minutes without anything coming to mind.

Why was Mrs. Brown at the school the day she was murdered?

I tapped my pen on the pad at least a hundred times. Then I drew a happy face, as well as a few random squiggles.


Why was Mrs. Brown making a huge pot of hamburger gravy?

This last one should be solvable. There were most likely, only limited answers. The correct answer might lead to the killer. Unless some random person happened along and killed Mrs. Brown on impulse, the killer had to have known she would be at the school that day. It seemed likely the person or persons she was making the gravy for would know she planned to use the school kitchen to make the large batch, ergo, the person the gravy was intended for was the killer.

Long shot? Maybe. But at this point it was all I had to go on.

I clicked my pen open and closed. I drew a series of random shapes on my tablet. I was really, really stuck.

I looked at Charlie. He glared at me. It was obvious he thought it was time for us to be in bed. And he was right. I was getting nowhere.

“Are you ready to go back up?” I asked Charlie.

He lifted his head and wagged his tail.

“I’m really losing my edge,” I complained. “Maybe I do have too much going on and there really isn’t room left in my brain for sleuthing.”

So, in answer to the question: “How do you deal with writer’s block?” I just keep on writing.

USA Today Bestselling Author Kathi Daley lives in the beautiful alpine community of Lake Tahoe with her husband Ken. When she's not writing she enjoys hanging out on the beach with her children and grandchildren. During the summer she enjoys hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and sunset cruises on the lake. During the winter she enjoys cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and curling up by a fire with a good book.

Kathi uses her mountain home as inspiration for her books, all which include appearances by the wildlife she shares her life with.

December 16, 2021

NOSTALGIC MOMENT with Marion Ueckermann on How to Keep Readers Reading



Wednesday, November 23, 2016



“I couldn’t put the book down...”

That’s what all writers want to hear in reviews, isn’t it?

So how do we keep readers reading?

‘O Happy Day’ it was when I came across a formula by Dwight Swain that turned my critiquers’ comments from “...this is where I’d stop reading,” to “ a reader I loved the conflict which works because often I was tired and needed to go to bed but I had to see the next sub to know what happened.” And if my crit partners felt that way, readers certainly would.

Fiction 101 is a course by Randy Ingermanson that I purchased some years ago. There he teaches about Scenes and Sequels; the two distinct types of scenes Dwight Swain identifies in his book Techniques of the Selling Writer. A Scene and a Sequel are both made up of three parts:

· SCENE (action packed)

o Goal (what does your Scene’s POV character want to achieve within the Scene)

o Conflict (without this the reader becomes bored!)

o Disaster (do not let your POV character reach their goal – this is your hook)

· SEQUEL (gives the reader time to catch their breath)

o Reaction (the Sequel POV character’s reaction to the Scene’s disaster - emotive)

o Dilemma (no good options)

o Decision (best choice under the circumstances – becomes the goal for the next Scene)

Being a Panster at heart, this method has made me think about each chapter before I write it because I now plot out the Scenes and Sequels first. It makes it easier to write, too. I do this by keeping an Excel spreadsheet for each story, with a page for each chapter. I’m sure there’s a way to do this easily in Scrivener, but I’ve not yet mastered the Scrivener monster. I still hope to someday, but for now I choose to remain old school with Word and Excel. So, here’s where I plot what to write in a chapter (see image below), where I go from Panster to Plotser (my interpretation of a Panster / Plotter hybrid).

“...kept me reading long into the nights,” formed part of a review of one of my latest releases. No doubt, I’ve Dwight Swain and his Scene / Sequel formula to thank for that. Again.

Do you want to have readers reading long into the night, too? Follow this formula. It will revolutionize your writing. It did mine. The first story I applied this method to was contracted for publication. And the second. And so on ...

USA Today bestselling author, MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa and are setting their sights on retirement when they can join their family in the beautiful Cape.

December 15, 2021

Suite T "Nostalgic Theme": Writing Inspiration by Jennifer Wilck



Monday, December 15, 2014

What’s My Writing Inspiration?

By Jennifer Wilck

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by people when they hear I write romance is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

The question is surprisingly difficult for me to answer, or at least it used to be, because it makes it sound as if I’m sitting down and consciously making an effort to come up with a plot and characters and a conflict. Perhaps some writers do that, but for me, the process is more organic.

My best ideas for a story come to me when I’m most relaxed—right before I fall asleep, while I’m driving (and trying to shut out my kids’ music) or when I’m walking the dog. They are all times when I’m not thinking about what I should write. Although I think he’s gotten used to it, my husband doesn’t really understand why I bolt out of bed and race to my computer in the middle of the night, rather than waiting until a decent hour in the morning, and my neighbors know me as the crazy lady who talks to herself while walking the dog.

But that’s how my brain works best, and I’ve gotten used to keeping a pad beside my bed (if I can’t race to my computer) and downloading a robust dictation device onto my phone (so at least I can pretend I’m talking to someone). The ideas are ephemeral, so I have to jot them down when I get them.

Sometimes the inspiration pops into my head as a conversation between two heretofore-unknown characters (and when they use accents, it’s amusing). Other times I’ll see something and ask myself, “What if...” I could see a character on TV and wonder what would happen if I put him or her into that situation X. Occasionally, I’ll pass a store or a billboard that intrigues me and provides a setting that I want to flesh out. And once, I was inspired by touring an old Victorian mansion and imagining who would live there now and why (I’m still working on that story, actually).

Once I jot down my idea or scene, I flesh out the characters, figure out their motivation and conflict and try to get them to their happily ever after. There’s always a lot of emotion in my books and I favor strong, sassy heroines and strong but vulnerable heroes.

As you can probably guess by now, I don’t outline ahead of time, but I do create one afterwards. As I start round one of edits, I write down what happens in each scene and chapter, where certain descriptions are (that helps me make sure that blue eyes don’t change to green midway through the story) and the progression of the love scenes.

There’s a fine balance between the discipline of writing and the creativity of my muse. The key to completing my manuscript is maintaining that balance. Tell me, where do you get your ideas and how do you turn them into a book?

UPDATE:  2021

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong, and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with her family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open in the first place. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

She is an award-winning author of contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and The Wild Rose Press.

She can be reached at:







December 14, 2021

The Holidays and Writing

Susan Reichert

I was so anxious for the holidays to get here as were my daughters. Even though they are grown, they were as anxious as their mother. And this year we were able to get together and put up the old Christmas tree with decorations and all; like we did when they were kids. A special addition was my great-granddaughter, who at ten years of age helped us decorate and had as much fun as we did. Wished our other two daughters could have been here too.

Yet I have not wrapped the presents, but I will and soon they will be under the tree, so everyone can guess what they are getting. (They will have no clue what we have in store for them this year.)

Even though my children are grown, they still get excited about Christmas, not just for the gifts, fun and food, but the joining of  all  together at church on Christmas Eve to celebrate our Lord’s birth. A true blessing for me, that we are together at this special time of year. Because of the pandemic we could not be together last year. My husband and I enjoy the time we spend with our kids and their husbands. We are blessed to have great son-in-laws.

It’s a wonderful time for children, young and old.

What does this have to do with writing you ask? I think this holiday would be a perfect time, to write a few short stories about what Christmas meant to us as children; things we did, places we went. Trees we decorated, presents we got and  family members who were there. Describing all the wonder and joy during those special times would make a beautiful set of stories to pass on to our children, grandchildren, and those yet to come. It will give them an opportunity to see how special holidays were with our families.

So, try it during the holidays. As memories pop up in your head, put them to paper. Who knows, you might have enough short stories to use to write a Christmas book  for the holidays in 2022.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May God bless you all.

December 13, 2021

A Suite T Nostalgic Moment : "How To Sell A Pie" by Kathleen Y'Barbo



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

HOW TO SELL A PIE: Three Ideas for Bringing the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club to Readers

By Kathleen Y’Barbo

When I learned that FIREFLY SUMMER, my Southern tale of a small-town book club called the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club, would finally be published, I was beyond thrilled. You see, for almost ten years, this was one of those books of the heart that just wouldn’t let me go. From the small-town setting, so like the little Texas town where I grew up, to the characters who populated the story—including one who is aptly named after my mother—FIREFLY SUMMER is, in a word, special.

Finding a way to get the word out about this book and the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club series meant putting on my Southern thinking cap, or rather my straw hat, and coming up with a plan. Social media has been a great place to spread the word, but there are so many more places to talk about Southern fiction than just on Facebook and Twitter. I decided to go for a three-pronged approach that includes reader engagement, special promotions, and a giving back to the readers.

First, reader engagement: What better way to introduce readers to the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club than by creating an actual book club? I’ve got a page set up on Facebook where readers can gather and discuss the same books the characters in the series are reading. The page is still a work in progress and will grow as the series grows, but you can check it out here:

Though using special promotions is nothing new in the writing world, offering a series that is interactive—that is letting the readers choose which characters will get the next story—is. Readers who follow my Facebook author page or who connect with me through the book club page will get to vote on story lines, choose covers, and maybe even name a character or two. I truly want this series to be reader centric and reader driven.

And finally, I want to give back to my readers. Any Southern lady knows if guests show up, you offer sweet tea and a slice of pie. While I wish I could do that, I think I’ve come up with an acceptable substitute. Readers who sign up for newsletter alerts will be getting several special surprises. I don’t want to tell too much, but there are several plans in the works to give readers inside information on the books as well as specially written short stories and character backstories that cannot be found anywhere else.

Beyond promoting FIREFLY SUMMER and the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club series, including the upcoming novella AUTUMN SKYE (releasing October 2016 in The Boy Next Door collection) and the 2016 novel tentatively titled SPRING FLING, I want to offer an experience to my readers that will be both rewarding and entertaining. So, watch my website,, and Facebook author page, for the details! In the meantime, thanks y’all, and happy reading!

UPDATE 2021 

Publishers Weekly Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Sisters in Crime, Faith Hope & Love writers, and the American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and a family of three adorable Londoners.

To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at

Since this article was written in 2015, the third book in the Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club series—renamed THE YES DARE—is out, and a fourth book (not yet titled) is in the works with a spring 2022 release date. I never did publicize the book club page for this series because I found I got more interest from speaking to actual book clubs and communicating via newsletters and social media (Instagram is my new favorite).

In addition to this series, I am also working on a project to get my older books back into print, including the 20th Anniversary Special Edition Novellas that celebrate my 20th anniversary of becoming a published author and my Louisiana-based books (Bayou Nouvelle series). Sign up to receive my newsletter here and you will always be the first to see what is next!

December 10, 2021

A Suite T Nostalgic Moment "Crafting the Perfect Chapter" by Crystal Caudill



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Crafting the Perfect Chapter – It’s Elementary, My Dears

By Crystal Caudill

Before becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I taught fifth-grade students to analyze writing. I hadn't given much thought to applying what I taught to my own writing until I substitute taught a fifth grade reading class. That day, I discovered a crucial concept for every fiction writer.

Students all over the country are forced to summarize every chapter they read by looking for these key things: Somebody... wants... but... so... then...

We, as writers, need to zero in on every chapter we write to make sure we can answer: Somebody… wants.... but.... so... then...

How do we do this? It's elementary, my dears.

Someone...Who is the central focus of this chapter? This can be one or two characters if you are splitting your story between points of view, but even if there are multiple points of view, a chapter is generally about one person. Who would students identify as the main character for your chapter? One children’s book has five characters, but only one is the focus of each chapter.

Wants...This is the goal of the main character for this chapter only. What is it that the character wants to accomplish in this small timeframe? Often it is a small goal that builds into something bigger. In the children’s novel George Washington’s Socks, Matt wants to return General Washington’s cape.

But...No story is engaging without conflict, and neither is a chapter. What obstacle does the character face? It can be internal or external in nature, but it needs to be plausible and, if possible, unforeseen. Matt’s challenge comes in the form of a captain who believes Matt is a rebel soldier.

So, this is the reaction to the conflict. What does the character do? What does he/she think? Do they change their goal? That is what Matt does. He goes from wanting to return General Washington’s cape to retreating to the safety of the boat. What about the supporting characters? How do they respond to the conflict, and how does their response affect the main character?

Then...This is where a consequence occurs, or an additional problem is added to the plot. There could be a hint to the subplot, or a difficult obstacle the character must face, or it could leave the reader with a cliffhanger. Whichever course you choose, the “then” is used as a hook for the next chapter. Matt’s chapter doesn’t end with him being forced into battle. His “then” is the fatal injury of the only man who can get Matt home.

Somebody… wants… but… so… then… is a quick, easy summary that drives to the heart of a chapter. Do each of your chapters contain these elements? Could you summarize them in this way?

Even scarier.... could a fifth grader?


Crystal Caudill is the author of "dangerously good historical romance," with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW. She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn’t writing, Caudill can be found playing board games with her family, drinking hot tea, or reading other great books at her home outside Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Find out more at

December 9, 2021

Nostalgic Moments with Laura Drake in Trust Your Voice



Monday, December 28, 2015

Trust Your Voice

By Laura Drake

In 2004, Christopher Booker published The Seven Basic Plots. There have been others who’ve put forth other numbers, but let’s just agree; whether it’s six, seven, or twenty, it means that your plot isn’t going to be unique. Grammar rules can’t be bent, not broken, and we all have the same number of words at our disposal.

So, what’s the use of slaving away if someone has already written your story? Ah, but they haven’t.

If you gave the exact same writing prompt to a roomful of writers, you’d end up with a roomful of different stories. Some would be sad, some funny, some snarky, some sweet. Wheaton College says voice is style, diction, and tone.

But I think it’s more than that. There’s an indefinable quality you recognize in your favorite authors. I could read a story and recognize Stephen King wrote it, or Pat Conroy. I’m sure you could as well, for your favorite go-to authors.

One of my old friends, upon reading my first book told me, “I felt like you were telling me the story. I heard you in my head.” That is voice.

But how do you find yours?

I have good news. You don’t have to. You already have it. This isn’t like POV, dialogue, characterization, or other craft skills you need to learn as an author. Whenever I hear a new writer struggling for voice, it’s invariably because they’re trying to emulate someone else’s. I mean you’ve been reading books your entire life and those authors got published, so they must be doing it right, right? Wrong. Those authors have their voice, you have yours, and yours is every bit as legitimate as ________ (insert your favorite author’s name).

Okay, let’s say you buy into that. So, what is your voice? How will you know it when you hear it (or see it on the page?)

I have an exercise for you. Go find your best friend, or your husband, or your child. Tell them a story. Make it a good one – you know, the kind that makes their eyes light up and hang on your every word. I promise, when you’re doing that, you’re doing it in your voice.

Now, find a story you’re that excited about telling, relax, get out of your own way, and write. Your voice will shine through.

I promise.

Laura Drake is a New York published author of Women's Fiction and Romance.

Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 12 books, and has a Women's Fiction, The Road to Me, releasing in March of 2022.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.


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December 8, 2021

Nostalgic Moment with DiAnn Mills on Staying Healthy During Holidays



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 today’s 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, the Golden Scroll, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, BookBub, YouTube, LinkedIn. or her website: