April 30, 2021

Teachers Picked These Three Books for Children ~ Do You Agree?

 Fun Friday Books and Titles

Theachers picked these three books for good reads for children. 

See if you agree with them! 

#1. Title: Farm Animal Family Rhyme (Patrick the Piglet's Learning Adventures Book 1) 

Ages:   2 to 7

Author: by Belle Brown and Yoga Ariesta.

Description: Patrick wonders why his father is called a BOAR, his mother is a SOW and he is called a PIGLET. Do other farm animal families have different names, too? What better way to learn about the male, female, and baby animal names than to ask the different animals on the farm themselves!

This book, with its bouncy rhymes and playful story, will encourage children to read and learn at the same time. Your child will find out about

·         Different types of farmyard animals

·         The precise names for different ages and genders of animals

·         Simple and useful daily vocabulary

·         The value of family and friendship


Ages: 3-11

Author:  Mary Nhin 

Description: Earth Ninja shows her friends how one little ninja can make a difference in the world by practicing 3 simple life habits. Find out what happens in this fun book about the impact we each have on the earth. 

Life is hard! And it's even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.

The new children's book series, Ninja Life Hacks, was developed to help children learn valuable life skills. Fun, pint-size characters in comedic books easy enough for young readers, yet witty enough for adults.

#3  Title:  The Napping House

Ages:    2 to 4 

Author:  by Audrey Wood and Don Wood

Description: Delightful cumulative rhyme leads up to the consequences of piling too many sleepy people and animals in a cozy bed. “Don Wood’s paintings endow Audrey’s familiar plot with beauty and newness, conveying atmosphere as well as illustrating the story.”--Publishers Weekly (There was no other description)

April 29, 2021

Intentional Celebrations

Erica Vetsch

The last year has been…different, a trial, soooo long? It seems like forever since we thought the wildfires of Australia would be the defining event of 2020. So much happened to upset our plans.

2020 was supposed to be an amazing year for our family. A spring trip to Florida to visit my family, and then, to celebrate our 30th anniversary, my husband and I had planned a May trip to England, our first ever and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

April 28, 2021

Finding Freedom

 Audra Jennings

Barb Roose leads readers in finding freedom in Christ through a study of Galatians.

She says, for some, Christianity is a long list of rules to be followed, and it’s hard to be a “good Christian” because it always seems you’re breaking one of those rules. In Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ, popular women’s conference speaker and author Barb Roose wants to help readers let go of the feeling they are not a “good enough” Christian and find freedom in Christ by studying Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

For anyone who has ever struggled with these questions or felt trapped by rules or religion, Breakthrough will provide a path to discovering freedom in Christ. Through this study participants will learn to:

Stop trying to measure up and embrace God’s grace
Distinguish between lies and truth
Embrace God’s promise of freedom
Roose wrote the Breakthrough Bible study to celebrate God’s amazing grace and unconditional love, especially for Christians who are afraid that they have disappointed God or feel like they have to earn God’s favor or blessing. It seems like since the pandemic began last year that people in general have become more and more argumentative and staunch in their opinions over everything, even related to how the local church handles certain situations but through Galatians it teaches us about agreeing (or disagreeing) together.

Marian Jordan Ellis, author of For His Glory: Living as God’s Masterpiece and founder of This Redeemed Life said, “Barb masterfully unpacks Galatians and equips women to stand firm in the gospel and break through the chains of legalism, pride, insecurity, and self-righteousness.”

Bio of Barb Roose: 

Barb Roose
is a popular speaker and author who is passionate about teaching women to live beautifully strong and courageous in spite of their fears so that they can experience God’s great adventure of faith and purpose for their lives.
Roose enjoys teaching and encouraging women at conferences and events across the country, as well as internationally, including national platforms such as the Aspire Women’s Events, She Speaks Conference, and many more.

She is the author of three books, Surrendered Devotional, Winning the Worry Battle, and Enough Already, and five Bible studies, Breakthrough, Surrendered, I’m Waiting, God, Joshua, and Beautiful Already. Her writing has been featured in many magazines, and she also writes a regular blog at She hosts the “Better Together” Facebook Live events and podcast.

Visit Barb Roose’s online home at Readers can also keep up with her on Facebook (BarbaraRoose), Twitter (barbroose), and Instagram (barbroose).

April 27, 2021


Sandra Mansfield Wright

The days of uncertainty and fears have been surrounding all of us in previous months and have even crept into the year 2021; however, we all wish to think about more positive things. We would like to brighten our dreary days and lighten up our spirits. Some ideas which have helped me I would like to share, and hopefully these will speak more life and lightness into your days.

Purchase a calendar of days or make your own, sectioning off enough space to write a quote for the day. Each month choose a word to be your motto or mantra for that month. For January, my word was “calm” and for February my word is “blessing.” Each day find a quote in keeping with your word and write it in the day’s quote space. This will lift your spirit every day, and at the end of the year you will have a wonderful book of quotes you can look back through and read to uplift yourself. This is also a great resource to pull quotes you might want to use in writing notes of encouragement to others throughout your year.

I know hand-written notes have gone out of style somewhat; however, who of us doesn’t still like receiving a note in the mail? This is the year to write those encouraging words. It will bless us to bless others with our words. Keeping nice stationary, pretty note cards or special pens and papers on our desk will help speak life into our day, as we use these to write at least one letter or note a week to encourage someone else. We can commit to this project and look for ways to make another’s life happier, maybe a bit brighter. Think outside-the-box. We might have a talent for painting or drawing and could incorporate this into our note. We may want to design or paint our own notecards. I found a quote which is my motto for the year and made an insert to put inside my notes so the one receiving could use it as a bookmark or display on their desk. To this quote I added a picture of a beautiful bird. My motto quote is:

“Never be in a hurry: do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.

Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if

your whole world seems upset.”

- St. Francis de Sales

Another thing to help bring more life and light into our days is to look for ways to help others. Just by thinking of helping others and making plans will bless our days. People are hurting and need our help. We may be able to help them financially, but there are many ways to help others. Giving our time and talents is often of even more benefit. With COVID-19 we cannot always go and help in person. Small businesses have been hurt due to the pandemic and whenever possible we can shop small businesses in our neighborhoods. Many local businesses have made ways for people to shop safely and will even deliver packages to the car or mail our purchases. We might take or order food to be delivered to our essential workers: police, hospital employees, nursing home workers, health workers. I don’t want to leave anyone out of this list, but you can think of all types of essential workers having to be out there in the workforce to keep us going. With nursing homes and assisted living facilities not being able to allow family to visit their patients, the residents are facing unprecedented loneliness and depression. Think of what we might do to lift their spirits. We might set up a Zoom meeting with residents and read to them or sing to them. Call and ask the administration what we might do to help and offer. We might send flowers or balloon bouquets to the facility to cheer up the gathering room. Just think. What talents do we have which would help others?

Rather than thinking of this time in our lives as a dreary, sad, horrible time, let us look upon it with new eyes. Let us use our imagination, our talents and energy to be of benefit to others, to alleviate someone’s sadness, to improve their lives and speak or write life into every new day in some way. Let us bless and be blessed!

Sandra Mansfield Wright, is the author of Gentleness, Strength, The Posture of Hope, Growing in Hope,365 Daily Gifts of Joy  and Little Gifts of Joy.

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 readers and listeners. Sandra lives near Memphis, TN,

Visit Sandra at 
for more information and to read her blog.

April 26, 2021

Our Year of Jubilee that Wasn’t

Jodie Niznik

When 2020 started, I jokingly called it our year of jubilee. My husband and I were celebrating 25 years of marriage, and we were going to make it a special year. I set my sights on a year to rest, celebrate and treasure the gifts we have been given. We had a few special things planned, including an epic adventure of a lifetime anniversary trip.

So much for making plans.

As the year wore on, the disappointing restrictions kept piling up. We finally cancelled that trip of a lifetime and celebrated our anniversary at our kitchen table. I told myself and anyone who would listen that I would rather be married to this amazing person than go on any amazing trip. It was deeply true for me. Maybe someday we’ll get the trip—maybe not.

Plans are fragile. I’ve always known this truth. In fact, I can quote you James 4:15 right now: “Instead you ought to say, ‘if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” And while I can quote this verse and I absolutely believe it, I’m not sure I really believed it. What 2020 revealed to me is that deep down I thought I had a lot more control over my life than I really did.

Of course, it wasn’t just the anniversary plans that were dashed. There were so many other losses. Like, my daughter who graduated from college in piano performance and was weeks away from her pinnacle achievement of a solo concert. She had spent countless hours  perfecting pieces I can’t even pronounce and in one swift moment it was cancelled. Then my parents got COVID. It got really severe, and I couldn’t get on a plane to go see them or care for them. I felt stuck, angry, and helpless. Not to mention that my husband works for an airline, and with no one flying and job losses too high to count, we were thankful to just receive a pay cut. And that’s just a sanitized sampling of my year. The hits kept coming… you know them because you experienced them too. There were so many losses, some tragic and some just sadly inconvenient.

The experiences of this last year renewed my awareness for how fragile my plans really were and helped me recenter myself on the only thing that was certain in my life—my faith in God.

As a pastor and Bible study author, that probably sounds odd. Shouldn’t I have already been focused on God? Yes. And truthfully, I was. But 2020 had a way of revealing blind spots I didn’t even know were there. I did trust God, but I also started to see how I was relying on my own efforts and planning a little too much. This awareness brought about two changes in me. First, my plans became more open-handed. They were open-handed because I was looking to the Lord in a new way to see if these were his plans—or just mine. This brought new freedom and peace to me. If it was the Lord’s will, it would happen. If it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t.

Second, as a pastor and author, I was different in how I received others and how I ministered to them. I understood dashed dreams, unrealized hope, and deep pain in a new way. Not that I hadn’t known these things in the past, I most certainly had. But this time I felt a more kindred spirit to my brothers and sisters who were traveling hard roads and experiencing fear about their future. I started to speak and write as a fellow journeyer not as someone who had gone before and figured some things out to pass back. My words became filled with more compassion and more hope. And I saw that these types of words were more needed than they ever have been.

We’ve gone through a collective trauma in 2020 and as I look forward into the rest of 2021, I have hope that better days lie ahead of us. But I also know that we can’t control when or if those days come to fruition. And neither can you. What we can control is our words and how we use them. I am choosing to use them to speak hope and life. May you do the same. Because our little world needs a lot of hope and life spoken over it.

Jodie Niznik is the women’s and adult ministries pastor at Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. Her calling and passion is to equip people to take the next step in their journey with Jesus. She loves to write about and teach scriptural truths in practical and easy-to-understand ways. She is the author of Crossroads: A Study of Esther and Jonah for Boldly Responding to Your Call and Choose: A Study of Moses for a Life That Matters.

To learn more about Jodie Niznik, visit She can also be found on Facebook (@JodieGNiznik) and Instagram (@jodieniznik).

April 22, 2021


Angela Howard

Was 2020 a crazy year or what? Yes, much has changed since 2019. Our communities have weathered many storms in the past year. Social and racial injustices, a deadly pandemic, and influential powers of our great United States that have provoked violence across our country. Yet, here we are, still standing as the sparks of the storms begin to lighten.

We’ve all had to live through adversities, but it is what we do with those adversities that truly shape us. Instead of “mission impossible,” here are a few ways to make a positive difference. First of all we need to begin communicating in a way that has a powerful effect in shaping the interpretation of all that comes after to create a more productive perspective. We need to make sure negative data is accounted for, but try to pair it with positive data. After an entire childhood and young adulthood, I decided I was the sole person letting all of the traumatic events I had experienced control my thoughts, my emotions, and my actions. I realized I had to look at all of the bad situations that ate away at my very being and try my best to pull something good from it. Before I knew it I had pulled some of the most important good in my life from these situations. I was a better mother because of what I had endured. I was a much stronger person than I had ever been. I realized that I was resilient and had tipped my hat toward resiliency instead of abomination.

I had to remind myself of this again when my first memoir, Sin Child, was released on March 31, 2020. I had worked for several years writing Sin Child and had long anticipated holding that first printed book in my hand and spreading it to the world. The process of writing and editing the book made me dive deeper into Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which led to the establishment of a non-profit organization, PTSD-ACED Foundation. I had decided to launch the foundation at the same time as the book launch. On March 19, 2020, California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order and other states began to quickly follow suit. As the launch of my first book that had taken me four years to write, and a brand new non-profit that I had been preparing to launch for two years approached I found myself becoming distraught. Speaking engagements were postponed in the beginning and then indefinitely cancelled. With each passing day my frustration grew and I found myself slowly giving up.

I finally realized that once again, I was the only person who could change how I was dealing with matters. I began trying to push the negative aside and started looking at different ways to handle the situation we all were forced to live in. It was then I was led to an amazing publicist who would change the way I think about being an author forever! While I had dreamed of a book tour and meeting tons of wonderful people along the way I had to accept that for now that was definitely not going to happen and I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone and into a world that was strictly online. Soon I was doing podcasts and online speaking engagements. I was again pushed out of my comfort zone to write guest blogs and articles for online publications. The sales of Sin Child ending up exceeding expectations for it’s first year and I stepped up to challenges that have made me a better writer and a better speaker. I also know that I have been able to reach far more people than an ordinary book tour alone would have allowed me to reach and that was my goal while writing the book, to help as many people as possible. It was learning how to navigate change that made this achievable.

it’s impossible to know what lies ahead, but it’s like a great book. While we may not know the ending, we must keep reading.

Angela Howard is a first-time author and the founder of PTSD-ACED Foundation, Inc. Angela is a registered nurse and has worked in the medical field for the past 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and certifications in Life Care Planning and Medical Case Management. She is highly impacted by the adverse effects of PTSD secondary to ACEs. She herself has overcome extreme adverse childhood experiences with the highest ACE score of 10. Angela’s health has been adversely affected as she suffers from multiple autoimmune disorders. Angela’s desire is to bring increased awareness of ACEs by educating those affected and individuals in medical and educational fields.

Visit Angela Howard at


April 21, 2021

Tips For Marketing Our Books

Susan Reichert

Marketing? Most of us hate it. But it is mandatory if we are publishing books. After all, who knows the book better than the person who wrote it?

Promoting our book will take energy, time, and money. But it must be done. Also, we must create a plan as to how we are going to market our book. This is a business. We need to be able to draw readers (customers) to our book (product) like any other business.

This plan needs to show us who our readers are; where our readers are; what our readers want to know and how much money can we spend on marketing venues.


1. We must determine who our reader is.

This information is most important. This shows us who to

market to.

2. Where do we find our readers?

This shows us where to market.

3. Do they know what our book is about?

We tell them why they will want to read our book.

4. What is our budget to market our book?

This tells us the amount of money we can spend.


Our Readers

1. The readers who read our book genre.

2. They may be a specific age group.

3. People who have interest in the subject matter.

*Did we have a target audience in mind when we were writing the book?

Where the readers are.

1. Check out blog post of authors who write the same genre.

2. Join on-line reader groups in the genre.

3. Your own email lists. This is an excellent source.

4. Social Media – yours and other authors.

5. Newsletters – yours and other authors.

6. Create your own Podcasts.

7. Create your own You Tube Channel.

Describing our book.

1. We tell a reader why they would want our book.

2. What it will do for them.

Setting our budget.

1. Check where people spend their time online.

2. Find out the cost to advertise on these sites.

3. Determine how much money we can spend on all sites or just one. Stay within our budget. If we have a small budget spend it where most of the readers spend their time. As you sell books, you can always add more to your spending budget.

Researching successful authors who write in our genre is a plus for us. Check out their websites, blogs, reviews on Amazon, and their rankings. By joining their blogs and newsletters we will be able to analyze how they are marketing their books. Which in turn will give us ideas for our book marketing.

Each thing we do, brings us one step closer in our endeavor to put our book in front of others to enjoy.

Susan Reichert is the founder of Southern Author Services and Editor of Suite T. Prior to this was the co-publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine, a national magazine for authors and readers.

She is the author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life, numerous magazine articles, and in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, libraries and founder of Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group).

Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own.


Visit Susan at:


Member of the:  DAR and First Families of Mississippi.


April 20, 2021

How to Stand Out as a Professional Writer

DiAnn Mills

A professional writer stands out like a shining star on a moonless night. No need to ask if the person is a professional writer because we know their status by the way they react and respond to others.

· We see the way they carry themselves.

· We hear their wisdom and insight.

· We taste their sweet way of explaining literary techniques.

· We smell the fresh scent of vitality and energy in their mannerisms.

· We feel their warmth to all levels and genres of writers.

How can we writers emulate our heroes and heroines of the writing and publishing world?

Professional Writers are Active on Social Media

They recognize readers are why we write. Writers focus on followers who are interested in what the writer has to offer. Social media isn’t an opportunity to push our books but help others.

Professional Writers are Relational

They are real people. The writer we see in public appearances is the same person in a face-to-face meeting.

Professional Writers are Sincere

They believe in helping serious writers by passing along writing tips, instruction, and encouragement.

Professional Writers Care About Their Health

These people aim high with proper nutrition, exercise, and regular medical and dental checkups—a mindset that a healthy body fuels a healthy mind.

Professional Writers Look the Part

They dress their role in public. My husband laughs at me, but I refuse to walk the half block to our mailbox without decent clothes, makeup, and my hair in a stylish manner. We never know who will see us or judge our writing based on how good or not-so-good that we look.

Professional Writers Never Stop Learning

Not a day goes by without these writers sharpening their craft, social media skills, marketing, and learning more about themselves.

Professional Writers Practice Priorities

They protect God, family, friendship responsibilities, and then writing.

Professional Writers Understand the Creative Soul

They too live in a world where creativity is how we worship and experience life. Many writers simply observe their surroundings. They feel deeply so they can express their emotions onto the written page and share them with others.

Professional Writers Write

They spend time diligently working their craft. They don’t talk about writing; they schedule when to do it.

A writing career is not for the faint-hearted. Professionalism is critical in every aspect of their lives. What other characteristics surfaced in your mind?

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,,

April 19, 2021

Blue Is For Healing

Saundra Kelley

Early last year, when COVID 19 first raged out of control all over the planet, it seemed the nasty bug would kill us all. It’s not as if the virus were the only thing after us; we were inundated by huge problems at every turn. Our former president, and his followers wouldn’t or couldn’t accept his loss of the national election. Riots ensued, breaching even the People’s House in Washington D.C. Despite dire warnings from national and world health officials, many Americans refused to wear masks to protect both themselves and others. Hospitals overflowed with people of every age and ethnicity fighting for life, served by medical professionals who were just as vulnerable as they, felled by a virus we could not see.

As a writer and oral tradition storyteller, the horror stories struck me to my core. With unrest at every corner, I sensed America would never be the same again. The loss of income struck me first. Last March my plate was full of venue dates, with concerts, presentations at conferences, book sales, and more to look forward to. Then it was over. The bottom fell out when all my gigs were canceled almost overnight, and I was left spinning in place with nowhere to go. “Stay home, wear your mask, and socially distance,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, so I did. But I wasn’t happy about it.

From my perspective, the world was spinning completely out of control. My sense of individuality and unique perspective on life began to dissolve with each news report, leaving me stuck in a dark murky morass of depression. In that seething dark blue place, I struggled to hold onto the dregs of what was left of myself. In the midst of the pandemic, however, I learned a life lesson I hope stays with me always: in the deepest darkness the creative mind continues to churn.

Once I was aware of my brain’s continuing creativity, I turned the tap to full throttle and learned to listen to it, to work with that inner voice. What I needed most was to express my own experiences and imagination, so I backed away from television and changed my reading habits, which I should have done long ago. When words began pouring out, I grabbed pen and paper, instead of the laptop, to catch and distill the nuances of those ideas. Eventually, irrational thought gave way to clarity. Producing stories again provided relief to my pent-up emotions and salvation for my sanity.

Writing in all its forms--journaling, poetry, prose, became a safe harbor during the storm as did the verbal telling of those stories. I couldn’t go anywhere in public; with an immune system dysfunction, I was mostly stuck at home no matter what. With the virus raging outside my door, I turned to a book I’d written earlier, Danger on Roan Mountain. Close revision gave it the polish I knew would make the work publishable. Romantic suspense with an environmental foundation is my favorite genre. Since this was the long-overdue sequel to Danger in Blackwater Swamp published in 2013, I began finetuning the new book to its predecessor. Once that was done, submitted, and accepted by my publisher, I realized the original book needed an update and a new cover. With time on my hands and a green light from SYP Publishing, I tackled that project, too, bringing it to completion. Then I overhauled a mid-grade dragon manuscript that I was dissatisfied with and now it’s shopping for a publisher. In other words, my petrifying brains were eager to work.

When the unrelenting pandemic raged on, I knew that to continue writing about the relationship between nature and people, I needed to be closer to it myself. In response, I turned to a lovely park near my home, spending more solitary time in nature than ever before. The result from those hours of observation came out in my writing when healing shades of blue and green touched my hungry soul. The lake, with its shimmering blue surface a reflection of the never-ending blue of the sky above, offered the peace I longed for.

Today, gratitude for every breath, though difficult to achieve at times, informs each day. I am not beguiled by a false sense of success, just grateful to have a release. In my case, writing about the pandemic from my personal perspective has offered hope. Using my imagination to push through to other worlds and better times helps me cope and prepare for a future we cannot see.

A native of north Florida, Saundra Kelley graduated from Florida State University, raised her family, and enjoyed a career in the non-profit sector for many years. During that time, she wrote for the Tallahassee Democrat and other local papers. When the notion of storytelling hit, she left the live oaks and crystal white sands of home and headed north to upper east Tennessee. There, she earned a master's degree in Applied Storytelling and Performance Art at East Tennessee State University and took to the road collecting, telling, and writing the stories she heard. Kelley's most recent book, Danger on Roan Mountain came out in 2020. Her other books include Danger in Blackwater Swamp, The Day the Mirror Cried: a collection of short stories and poetry, and Storytelling in Southern Appalachia: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition. She is currently back home in Florida living with her family, and a Labradoodle named Winston while telling stories about her adventures in the mountains and writing yet another book in the 'Danger' series.

April 16, 2021


Candice Cox Wheeler

My debut novel, Cradle in the Oak, is a historical fiction inspired by an intriguing newspaper clipping from 1906 found among the possessions of my husband’s grandmother after her death. The sentence that caught my attention was: Handicapped by traveling alone across the country as a woman, she had cut her hair, donned masculine garments, and changed her name to Harry. But it was the rest of the article that had me hooked. It mentioned her determination to obtain possession of her children, who were abducted from their home in Biloxi, Mississippi, by her unfaithful husband and his young mistress, and described her journey by train to locate them.

Since this difficult period of her life remained a well-guarded family secret, I used my imagination, along with some research tools, to uncover the fascinating history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the East Coast of Florida at the turn of the twentieth century. The only clue as to where this newspaper article originated were the words, Special dispatch to the Evening News – Califon, October 2. Through genealogy records, I was able to pinpoint the year of the incident to 1906, and an internet search revealed that Califon was a small railroad town near Baltimore, Maryland. I’m still searching for the newspaper that published the article.

The research methods I used in developing this story were a welcome change of pace from the legal research engines used in preparing briefs and legal arguments on behalf of our law firm’s clients. As a first-time author, one of the things I quickly learned is that you can spend as much time researching a historical fiction as in the creative process of writing it. Research tools come in varying shapes and forms, anything that will transport the writer back in time. It is like a big jigsaw puzzle where you fill in one piece and it leads you to another amazing revelation. I cannot tell you how many times I thought, I love that – how can I use that in my story? The only problem was that I loved so much of the material, I wanted to include it all. This is where my great publisher/editor, Joe Lee of Dogwood Press, stepped in and kept me on track.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is fortunate to have a treasure trove of helpful reference books published by writers and preservers of the area’s history. These books transported me to the early 1900s through words and pictures. Due to the number of devastating hurricanes which have hampered this area over the years, we are lucky to have these references because many of our historic gems have been destroyed. Questions not answered in these books led me to the local history department of the Biloxi library and its head librarian who gave generously of her time, pointing me in the direction of the microfilm machines and teaching me how to use them. Old newspaper articles and advertisements provided invaluable information, leading to many answers and more questions, which led to old periodicals, such as the 1902 Biographical and Historical Review of Biloxi, Mississippi, published by the Biloxi Daily Herald, where pictures and biographies of many of the real-life characters in my novel were discovered.

Sometimes research tools can come from unexpected places. Each year, around Halloween, a group of volunteers reenact the lives of our dearly departed in our local cemetery. They recently printed a small booklet with interesting information on Coastal residents of the early 1900s and

their lifestyles, which I found extremely useful. The City of Biloxi also hosts an annual history fair at their beautiful Visitor’s Center where organizations from all over the Coast set up booths to share their history. My arms were loaded down with helpful pamphlets from that excursion.

One of the most valuable research tools a writer can use is the personal interview. Some of the most enjoyable days of my literary journey were spent in conversations with old Coastal historians, listening to them recount stories from interviews they conducted for their own research twenty or thirty years ago.

Internet searches led me to a Collectors Weekly article where I discovered exactly what I needed to know about candlestick telephones in 1906, and to an antique newspaper pamphlet published by McCall Bazar of Fashions which provided clothing details from that era. A Preservation in Mississippi website led me to the architect who designed many of the historic structures frequented by characters in my novel. And never underestimate the benefits of a blog. One blog provided a copy of an article written by a New York boating editor from an old magazine no longer in print that provided a first-hand account of a schooner race held in Biloxi in the early 1900s.

Maps are also great tools, especially when your protagonist will be traveling across state lines by train. The State Library and Archives of Florida in Tallahassee, Florida, was a great resource for a copy of a 16-inch by 20-inch map of the State of Florida Atlantic Coast Line Railroad: Florida and the South (c. 1906). This map allowed me to find stops along the railway line. Along with the internet searches which provided great photographs of the depots from the era, I was able to visualize my storyline. From there, I moved on to references that described the train’s interior, amenities and even menus.

I enjoyed each of the researching techniques used in developing Cradle in the Oak but visiting museums and actual sights where the story takes place is the most inspiring and enjoyable research tool a writer can use. I hear my next novel calling and I can’t wait to make a list of subjects to research and places to visit. Happy researching everyone!

A fourth-generation Biloxi, Mississippi, girl, Candace Cox Wheeler is a partner in the law firm of Wheeler and Wheeler, PLLC, where she has worked alongside her husband, David, since 1982 and raised two sons. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi School of Law. Cradle in the Oak is her first novel.


Author Facebook page: Candace Cox Wheeler

First edition signed copies can be ordered through beginning on April 17

The book’s release date is April 17, at which time Candace will have in-person signings at Hillyer House in Ocean Springs, MS, from 10am-12pm, and that same day from 2-4pm at The Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi, MS. 

April 15, 2021

Three Basic Habits That Will Improve Your Writing - Part 2

Elizabeth Goddard

This is Number 2# on the Three Habits That Will Improve Your Writing:


 Again, this advice is nothing new—write, write write—but it’s a requirement. Write something every single day. If you want to be a novelist, give yourself a word count or a time limit, whatever works for you and get those words on the page. Even if they’re awful words, once you’ve written them, you can always fix them. I have sometimes told friends that I’m slinging mud, meaning that I’m just throwing awful words on the page. It’s easier to fix the words than a blank page. In this process of writing every day, you also want to increase your skills. Read craft books on dialogue, story structure, etc. Since you’re reading more, you’ll build skills that will become natural, and you’ll also see where you need to improve. Another way to improve your writing is to judge a contest. The first contest I judged, I had that “Aha” moment and I knew what good writing looked like. I understood what kind of magic caught an editor’s eye, so I then tried to insert that “magic” into my own writing.


But craft isn’t everything. I almost want to say that content is king. Your storytelling ability is equally important. I’ve taught a workshop on brainstorming ideas and finding inspiration. Along with reading and writing, you’ll want to train your brain to become an idea generator by looking for ideas every single day. Create a file and keep everything that snags your attention. At some point you won’t be able to turn the idea machine off. Then you’ll learn how to find the best idea to create a novel or a series out of what you’ve collected.

Within each of these essential daily habits, I expanded on the tips so you can see just how far you can go by taking advantage of the basics to become a better writer.

The sky is the limit!

Happy reading, writing and story crafting!

Elizabeth Goddard has sold over one million books and is the award-winning author of more than fifty novels and counting, including the romantic mystery The Camera Never Lies—a 2011 Carol Award winner. She is a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense finalist for her Mountain Cove series—Buried, Backfire, and Deception—and a Carol Award finalist for Submerged. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. For more information about her books, visit her website at

April 14, 2021

Three Basic Habits That Will Improve Your Writing - Part 1

Elizabeth Goddard

So much has changed in the publishing world since I first started writing for publication in 2001. I distinguish writing for publication from simply writing for fun because, for me, there truly is a different mindset when writing with the hope that an editor would acquire my manuscript or that an agent would sign me. That mentality allowed me to take writing seriously. Sure, I could have fun with it. If I love what I’m writing, that’s going to shine through. But my goal to write something I could be proud of, something professional and publishable, meant I had to learn everything about how to improve my writing.

With the tremendous increase in the need for written content, the number of writers has also increased and hence the competition. In my opinion, there’s never been a better time to be a writer. That said, the bar is even higher. If I want to stay relevant as a novelist, even now after fifty novels, I must continue to educate myself, improve my skills and learn new techniques.

Aspiring writers often believe what they’ve written is amazing. I’m guilty, so I’m not pointing fingers. It isn’t easy to truly see how your writing compares or fully understand how much better you need to be before you start sending your work out.

Ask any multi-published experienced writer about those first attempts—those manuscripts that never sold that are now stuck in a drawer. Often, you’ll be told the writing is awful and the story would need to be rewritten. Or in some cases the novel did sell, and that writer will tell you she cringes that anyone read it. I’m both of those writers. I have manuscripts that should never see the light of day, and I have works published that make me cringe. I’ve been able to get rights reverted to most of my first novels and I plan to rewrite them, using my experience and the well-developed skills to create a much better book. Now, years later, I can easily see how they can be improved.

How does any of this help a new writer? Understanding that writing is a journey is key. Getting from point A to point B requires travel time—your mileage may vary.

The idea is that you should never give up. You’ll get there one day. Good writing, great writing—for most of us—doesn’t happen overnight. To give an example . . . You can’t expect to take one guitar lesson this week and play at Carnegie Hall next weekend. To get to Carnegie Hall, you’ll need to practice your guitar several hours every day, while learning new techniques and excelling at them. Getting there might even take years. While gaining exceptional skills playing the guitar, you’ll also need to develop contacts who can help you get where you want to go professionally.

But everyone must start somewhere. The three basics to improving your writing are:


You’ve probably already heard this writing advice—read, read, read. It’s true and it bears repeating here. There’s no getting around reading wide and reading often if you want to excel at the writing craft. At one conference where I was a mentor, I had breakfast with an aspiring novelist who wasn’t sure what she wanted to write. I asked her what she enjoyed reading. Her answer? She hated to read. I admit I was so surprised that I wasn’t sure how to respond. Let me put it this way, you can’t be a great writer if you don’t even like to read. In the case that you want to be a good writer, or a better writer, then you’ll want to read more. Read as much as you can. There have been seasons during my writing career that I found it hard to find time to read, but I’ve remedied that. Every evening I set aside time—thirty minutes or an hour--and I read for pleasure and usually that’s in my genre because I love to read what I love to write. I read my favorite authors along with new-to-me authors. Reading also increases your vocabulary, stimulates your brain, improves your memory, focus and concentration. I could go on. But most important to an aspiring writer—reading intuitively makes you a better writer.

Let’s say you want to write romantic suspense novels. Reading those novels will give you the sense of pacing and romance you’ll want to put into you own novels, and you can do that without too much thought because it will come naturally to you.


April 13, 2021

Before You Post on Social Media — T.H.I.N.K.

Edie Melson         

I didn’t always enjoy social media.

Before I spent time on the various networks, I assumed that interactions there were at best, shallow, with little or no real-world value. I’d formed my opinions by listening to the comments and complaints of others.

It wasn’t until I actually took time to interact online that I discovered there were lots of things of value being shared. The people I’ve met and the skills I’ve learned through online connections have added so much to my life—professionally and personally.

April 12, 2021

Writing - A Lonely Profession?

Susan Reichert

All writers know we have chosen a lonely profession. However, it is not always lonely. Especially if we participate in all the things open to writers.

There are writer’s groups, critique groups, webinars, podcasts, and writer conferences. All of these give us the opportunity to network with like-minded people and through these opportunities we develop wonderful friendships who are right there with us.

While at conferences, professionals are educating us on the writing craft. They help us learn the ins and outs of writing techniques to help us become more successful in our writing. They are delighted to answer any questions we have and to make our learning experience better. A perk with this is networking with someone in the business that knows what you need and can give you answers based on real experience. They graciously teach us more about our industry.

Another opportunity at a writers conference is we meet agents and publishers and spend time with them, face to face. These contacts are invaluable. And the perks? Having their full attention to pitch our work to them; we get to pick their brain. And remember they are also looking for people who have a book or book idea. This is a great benefit for writers.

One thing for sure, attending a conference will improve our writing, learn more about the industry and network with some great people.

We will be inspired by the people we meet and hear and being surrounded by other writers will energize and refresh us.

The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is coming soon. It is a conference we do not want to miss. It is considered the premier training and networking event for both seasoned and aspiring writers and speakers. Their workshops are some of the bests in the industry. Here we will interact with the top professionals in the industry. Truly a conference that is made for a writer.

Whether you are a professional writer expanding your skills and networking contacts, or a brand-new writer just beginning to chase your dream, this Christian Writers Conference is the ideal opportunity to take your creative goals to a higher level.

Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills are Co-Directors of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. They bring much more to the table than their combined half-century of writing expertise. They exhibit a proven passion to equip writers today.

To get more information about this conference click on this link:


They also offer special Facebook Live training in our Blue Ridge Conference Writers FB group ( ). This is called Mentoring Moments and is led by coordinators Edwina Perkins and Karynthia Phillips. It is held twice a month in April on Monday evening (the next one is the 19th) and every Monday evening in May. Attendees can also pay for a mentor to help them get ready for the conference for $70. Here is a link to all that information:

The blue ridge conference also now has a podcast run by Linda Goldfarb: Your Best Writing Life:

We all need an inspiring week of writing, encouragement, and inspiration.

Susan Reichert is the founder of Southern Author Services and Editor of Suite T. Prior to this was the co-publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine, a national magazine for authors and readers.

She is the author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life, numerous magazine articles, and in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, libraries and founder of Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group).

Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own.

Visit Susan at:


Member of the:  DAR; First Families of Mississippi.