May 31, 2021

Happy Memorial Day


Memorial Day! An American holiday, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.


Originally known as Decoration Day which came about in the years following the Civil War. It was made an official federal holiday in 1971.

Whether we honor by visiting cemeteries, or memorials, holding family gatherings or participating in parades –– let us remember our men and women who died while serving and protecting our country.

Time Set Aside:

On Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at

3:00 p.m. local time.

Happy Memorial Day

May 28, 2021

Fun Friday ~ A Puzzle With Covers and Titles of Mystery Books


An interesting thing about these books. What do you see that all three of them have in common on the cover?

Do the titles convey the story hidden in the enclosed pages?

May 27, 2021

How Do You Balance a Full Time Job and Writing?

Stephanie Payne Hurt

The article that you are about to read I wrote for Suite T in 2013 after I'd been a published author for a little over a year. Now, in 2021, I've published over 50 books and become a bestselling author. It's amazing to look back on my accomplishments and the hard work that brought me to where I am today. I still use the methods in this article, and it must be working because I somehow seem to get it all done. So, take a trip back in time and remember, you too can find your dreams. Just follow the path that leads you there. All my best!

By Stephanie Payne Hurt


Juggling a job and family can be hard to do sometimes, but when you add writing into the mix it can get hectic. As a busy Accountant I put in a lot of hours, but I’m also a Children’s Minister too, not to mention a mother, wife and writer. It’s amazing how I find little pockets of time here and there to write.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the year since I published my first book. I was overwhelmed at first, but as time went by I realized the dream I’d had since I was a teenager had come true. I was a published writer. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager which was a long time ago and we won’t talk about how long.

The first step to finding the time is to make a list of your jobs. Sit down and make a schedule. I learned that I could clean house on Saturday mornings and spend the afternoon writing. I also realized that while I was sitting at night watching television I could have my laptop in my lap writing. I usually do my best writing while sitting with my family at night.

Prioritizing my day has helped a lot. I’ve even set up a schedule in my Accounting office to make sure that I get everything that needs to be done completed, but I also have time in the mornings to blog, tweet and do my author promotions. It’s amazing how much time I wasted just going through the normal day to day things.

In 2012 I published 6 novels, which amazed me. My first was “Ghost Lover” and it was all uphill from there. I was never a social butterfly so doing the social media round was a little daunting, but I managed it. Now I’m on every site I can manage. I now have 9 books published and 5 in progress. I could never do all this without my wonderful assistant. She edits my books, all I do is tell her my idea for a cover, and she designs it. I write contemporary romance, Christian romance and historical.

So if you have the desire to write, you can find the time if you prioritize. Don’t let your dreams die, but let them flourish and take flight. You’ll be glad you did. The fans you meet through writing can be great people and the support you get is amazing. It’s great to hear from fans. I’ve now got people from all over the world writing to me and asking for advice or just to tell me how they like my books. It always makes this southern girl smile.


Stephanie Payne Hurt picked up her first romance novel in her early teens and fell in love. She began to pen stories in notebooks in her teens and throughout her twenties. It was in 2012 when she decided to publish her work and let the world in on her version of romance. Now she has 50+ books published and many more in the works.

A busy woman, she's a accountant, children's minister, wife and mother. Her life may be busy, but when she sits down at her laptop the world slips away and she goes into another place. Sometimes it's a ranch full of horses, or back to the Civil War saving a heroine find her love, but as always, she'll find romance even in the most remote places.

All of her books are clean, wholesome romances, some even dubbed as Christian romances. Her books range from western, historical, time travel, Christian, and she might even dabble in a little paranormal from time to time.

May 26, 2021

Is It Nails or Headlights?

Susan Reichert

The dictionary says a novel is a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.

G. K. Chesterton, an English writer, philosopher, lay theologian, and literary and art critic said, “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”

D. H. Lawrence was an English novelist, poet, and playwright among other things. He said, “‘if you try to nail anything down, in the novel, either it kills the novel, or the novel gets up and walks away with the nail.”

Whereas E. L. Doctorow who is known for historical fiction said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

I think Chesterton is trying to tell us to concentrate on writing about the story, show and do not tell.

Lawrence is saying do not nail everything down in the story and Doctorow is telling us we will be able to see as far as out thoughts go, but that is okay, we can make the whole trip that way.

Perhaps you see their advice different. If so, we would love to know what you think. Everyone sees and hears things different.

Let us face it, each writer either has found a way that works for them in their writing, or they are working on finding a way.

Some writers spend hours working on an outline, months researching, and at the end of the year, they find they have not written anything.

Other writers spend very little time researching, have no outline, just put words that come to them on paper and at the end of 80,000 words call it a novel. However, it may just be words, discombobulated thoughts on paper.

Both scenarios are extreme. If your story requires research, be sure and do it. The book you are writing should dictate the amount of research you need. If it helps you to outline, then do it. If it is easier for you to not outline but to write from the seat of your pants (panster) then do it.

Whichever, you must determine how far down that road the headlights need to shine and how much you want to nail down.

Susan Reichert, author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. She has written numerous magazine articles and stories in anthology books. She is a speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. Also, the founder of

Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group), and founder and co-publisher of Southern Writers Magazine. A national magazine for authors and readers (which is retired now). At the time she was the 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.

Visit Susan at:

Amazon -

Member of the: DAR; First Families of Mississippi.

May 25, 2021


J. William Lewis

When the pandemic struck, the bakery under my loft, the eyrie wherein my loftiest thoughts take flight, closed and has yet to reopen. The bakery had been for years the gathering place for the writers and artists of tomorrow, who are drawn to the Village for inspiration and doughnuts. Every morning we would gather al fresco, sip cappuccino, nibble our scones and talk excitedly about weighty matters of great and lasting import. I remember very distinctly the last day (before COVID-19 intruded into the world of ungraspable truth and ineffable beauty) because I had arrived late and found the tables sprawled out from under the green-and-white-striped awning covering the bakery’s patio.

The tables were bizarrely spaced six feet apart! To make an already dolorous situation worse, the only available chair for me was a wobbly one—you know, one of those with one leg shorter than the others--at the edge of the patio, sitting directly in the morning sun which had already begun to singe all but my frets about the pandemic and the geography that left me at the periphery of the discussion.

--What in the world? I said. My eyebrows were raised almost to my hairline and my palms were turned toward the sky in supplication.

--CDC guidelines, said the group’s version of Myrna Minkoff, whose chair was closest to mine but still in the shade. It’s the law, Ace, so get used to it.

Of course, I need not mention that this statement had two errors buried within it. First, I had no idea what CDC meant (I thought she may have meant CBD). Second, my name is not Ace; it’s Jack, as in Jack of spades.

I grunted, but said nothing further. In addition to the solar fry, my companions were in the shade and I was in bright sun, so that I could hardly see them. Indignity upon indignity, I burn and peer into the dark. Luckily I had worn my turquoise beret and my long-sleeved polo shirt with the library logo. I actually thought that, in light of my gravitas, someone might offer to swap seats with me. (However, as Swift has observed, the dunces are always in a confederacy against true genius.)

Thus, I baked while the narcissists chattered. It was obviously a conspiracy of sorts to pretend not to notice that I had arrived, because the incessant chatter continued and no one gave me so much as a “Good morning, OGO.” (In case you have never joined the in-crowd at the Village bakery, the acronym ‘OGO’ is a deferential shortening of my usual sobriquet: O, Great One.)

--Have you managed to find an N95 mask? asked one shadowed voice.

--No, said a more familiar but still unidentifiable voice. The doctors and nurses can’t even get masks.

--Aren’t we supposed to use hand sanitizer? said the Minkoff imitator. Anybody got any?

The Binx Bolling observation about Kate came into my mind because I could imagine that Minkoff “longs to be an anyone who is anywhere, and she cannot.” (Of course, I would never tell the group that I have no idea what that really means, if anything, but I thought of it because I had tucked it into my mind for use at an appropriate juncture of witty repartee.)

--Does anyone have any hand sanitizer?

--Could we talk about something weightier than ointment? asked someone with an authoritative voice. Have we gathered here to talk about mundane topics like disease?

--And consequent death, someone else added.

--Whatever, said the voice of authority. Unlike you guys, I have a job. I’ve got books to sort, maybe even to read.

--You have a job? I said, straining to see who was claiming to be employed.

--The library is still open. You might try it sometime, Ace. You would probably benefit from an exposure to books.

I said nothing because I didn’t want to reveal to the group that, like Ignatius P. Riley, my library card had been revoked after my discharge. Also, somewhat like Ignatius, I am convinced that I lack some particular perversion which today’s employer is seeking. By perversion, I think Ignatius really meant proclivities, because I think we both have the same proclivities. I also am inclined to think best in the supine position. Indeed, it is the position that I usually aspire to, but job counselors usually advise against revealing too much

--Does anyone have sunscreen, I asked with far more diffidence than I felt.

In response to this question, the conversation stopped and all eyes turned toward me. (For the record, I was the only one in the sun, so the question was clearly irrelevant to the others and, a fortiori, none of the others was likely to have empathy or sunscreen.)

--Suppose we talk about our writing projects? Who wants to go first? A radio silence followed these questions. Even in the shadows, I could see the group looking from person to person. Anyone?

--This pandemic has got me stymied, I finally said. I can’t get anything done with this scythe hanging over my head. The bakery is closed. The movie theater is closed. How am I supposed to get any writing done? Besides, muh deddy hasn’t sent me any money. It’s hard and all . . . ya know.

Alabama native J. William Lewis is a former lawyer who lives in Shoal Creek, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.

Born in Chickasaw, Alabama, Lewis grew up in Mobile. He graduated from Spring Hill College (A.B., magna cum laude, English and Philosophy) where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu and recipient of the Merihl Award. While in college, Lewis served as editor-in-chief of the literary magazine The Motley. Lewis received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and served on the Editorial Board of the Virginia Law Review.

After a clerkship for the Honorable Walter P. Gewin on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Lewis practiced law in Birmingham for over three and a half decades.

Presently, Lewis serves as executive officer of his family’s investment company, Seaman Capital, LLC, and related companies.

He has been married to Lorraine Seaman Lewis for more than half a century.

The Essence of Nathan Biddle is his debut novel.



May 24, 2021

Shining In A Dark World

Betty Thomason Owens

Our world is in travail, but we are not overcome. Even if we suffer illness and loss, our outlook has not changed. The Word of God still stands. Our Father remains in control. Jesus is still King, and sweetest of all, He is still our Savior.

With His banner over us, how can we not shine in a dark world? We are called to be the light and the salt. But we can’t shine or add flavor on our own. We shine when God is on the inside of us.

Within this truth, we find our purpose, something that becomes more relevant with each passing day. As writers, we have a calling. We are called “according to His purpose.”

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV

We have a purpose that God prepared beforehand. He knew when, and he knew where we would be needed. Like Esther, we all have “such a time as this.” Now is the time for all of us, as Christian/inspirational writers to discern the will of God concerning our writing, our path, and our calling.

We, the created ones, can become creators of worlds. Through our stories, we can inspire and train others in righteousness. Some of our readers would never open a Bible, or set foot inside a church, but they may pick up our story. If we write as the Spirit gives utterance, our words can captivate and elevate our readers, opening their hardened hearts to something they had never imagined.

Love. Not the earthly kind of love that is touted in our present world and circumstances, but a deep and satisfying love that can only come from our Father. A love that produces joy and life.

How do we begin? For me, this type of writing begins with prayer and time spent alone with God. If this is truly my calling, as I believe it is, and my main concern is for others, I know He will hear my prayers and bless the work of my hands.

Meditate on His word. Sometimes, a particular verse inspires me, and I find a way to weave it into my story. I don’t have to quote scriptures in my writing, though sometimes I do. I can do what Jesus did—find a way to express it through story. He spoke in parables. Some of those parables were confusing to the hearers, but His stories made people think, which may have been part of His purpose. Modern-day parables can do the same.

The definition of a parable is a story with a moral or a message. Ever read a story like that? A simple message, like a tiny seed of faith, can stick in our minds and begin a life change.

Read a few of those parables, found in the gospels. Jesus talks about ordinary life situations that mirror the times He lived in. He seldom mentioned God or quoted scripture in the parables, but the message was there. Hidden. Subtle. Powerful. Moving.

That is my goal for my writing. It’s a lofty one that requires commitment and sometimes, plain old obedience. There are days when I would rather not spend the time up front—the tithe of my time—given willingly to God. I want to jump right in and start writing. When I do that, my inspiration tends to fizzle out into a dead end.

This work we do is important enough to own our full attention. Lives are at stake. Eternal destinies hang in the balance. Am I overstating it? I don’t think so. The times in which we live are proof enough. As we have so recently witnessed, things can change in an instant.

I could be writing my final story. What will it say about me? Is it important enough to last, or will it fade away like a blossom in summer?

Most writers, especially inspirational ones, would join me in saying, if even one life is changed by our words, all those hours spent planning and plotting and dreaming and writing will be worth it. Every single moment of it.

Betty Thomason Owens is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. An active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she serves as treasurer of the Louisville Area group. She served four years on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Her works include the Legacy series and Kinsman Redeemer series, published by Write Integrity Press, and Jael of Rogan two-book fantasy series in a second edition, published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

You can learn more about her at Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


May 21, 2021

Fun Friday ~Titles and Covers for Cozy Mysteries


We all know how important choosing the right title and cover is for our books. 

What do we want to convey on our covers?

The cover communicates what the book is about. Title and graphics and color are the most important things to draw the reader to your book.

With that in mind, check out these cozy books. Do the graphics, title and color work together to draw the reader?

May 20, 2021

10 Reasons for Writers to Read

DiAnn Mills

I’m a writer who reads incessantly. I believe it’s a healthy and a much-needed approach to creating exciting stories and valuable nonfiction. My reading list includes . . . texts, emails, articles, blogs, novels, nonfiction, devotionals, even cereal boxes.


Every written word is a learning experience, and every sentence is a textbook. My goal is to take what I discover to determine if the principle can be applied to my writing.


Reading while writing encourages me to soar above my best. And here are my 10 reasons why:


1. Appreciate the creativity and imagination of others.

How a writer expresses him/herself through words is an art, a type of beauty that weaves sensory perception into a new adventure.


2. Approach a topic to improve me.

Fiction is a nonthreatening environment to explore our world through story and characters, providing us a unique perspective.

Nonfiction uses facts, documented events, and real people to teach concepts. We read those authors who are committed to truth and accuracy to improve our lives physically, mentally, and spiritually.


3. Challenge me to try a new technique.

Some techniques add a positive dimension to our writing. Others don’t work for us, and we choose to discard them. But until we give one a try, we will never know if a new technique improves and enhances our style, voice, and presentation.


4. Cultivate new ideas.

I believe writers who are open to new ideas are successful. Too many times we get stuck in the same plot line, character, nonfiction focus, method of delivery, or marketing and promotion. Concepts, viewpoints, and opinions that motivate us to review our old practices also cause us to grow in our craft.


5. Deepen characterization.

Studying other novels and authors demonstrates the many ways all areas of novel writing deepens characterization. A word, a phrase, a gesture, or a new perspective can improve a story.


6. Discover what the competition is publishing.

How can I become a better writer if I don’t know what fills the bestseller lists or retailer shelves? Writing fiction or nonfiction is competitive, and we must read and study to win the race.


7. Enjoy the book.

We read to find entertainment, inspiration, encouragement, learn new things about the world and ourselves, and engage our minds in the many possibilities for mental and spiritual growth.


8. Explore plotting techniques.

All the plots have been written, and every story falls into one of those categories. Yet, every writer is a distinct personality who offers a method of spinning his/her story.


9. Increase my vocabulary.

Writers crave and love words. It’s who we are. We ask, “Will this word work for my character or nonfiction topic?” Many writers (like me) have a file of hundreds of favorite words, their meanings, and an example of how to use the word in a sentence.


10. Reading is my mentor.

A writer who reads discovers what he/she prefers A book that fails me as a reader, can mentor me not to use a specific method or technique. If I’m halted in my reading for some reason, pause and analyze why. I certainly wouldn’t want to add those to my own writing.


These are my reasons for reading while I’m writing. What are yours?

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,,

May 19, 2021

Stories In A Well

Susan Reichert

Sometimes we writers forget to look for stories that have roots in our childhood; the ways in which we were raised and everyday life experiences.

Two things to note about these times. One is how they influence our lives and the other how they can influence our writing.

There are many hidden stories in these areas.

Every age has a memory or more that may have a story. Whether we were five, ten, fifteen or older. What about the stories of us as babies our parents talked about?  I have a few of those. Then there are the memories of grammar school, high school, college, young adult, newlywed, birth of our children, raising our children, losing our parents or a loved one and growing old. There are hundreds of stories. Every person we have encountered in our lives has left an influence that may have the beginnings of a story.

You can see now; writers have a vast well to draw forth the makings of stories. There are characters, plots, scenes, dialogues galore down in this well. All writers must do is pull these up and place them on the screen of their computer. Regardless of your age, you have enough material to write many books, I have heard we have at least material for 20 to 30 books or tons of short stories. I would imagine you are now asking yourself, “Why haven’t I written this many books?” The answer could be you never thought of it that way…but your memory knows these stories are there and can direct you to those treasures in your well.

Ernest Hemmingway’s mother insisted he learn to play the cello, which was a source of conflict, as it would be for most children. However, he later admitted the music lessons were useful to his writing structure as evident in For Whom the Bell Tolls. A memory brought forth and used.

 Every time a thought surfaces from our memory of years gone by, we could write it down. Perhaps once we write that memory down, others will start pouring out. Each memory that comes to the surface may be your next best seller.

Take that memory, write down what you remember about it as well as who were the people involved and what kind of conversations do you remember surrounding this memory. Do you remember your emotions or other people’s emotions with this memory? In other words, everything you can pull forth from the recesses of your mind, write down. These memories are trying to connect with you, so let them flow.

It is wise to keep a journal writing these memories in there. Eventually you can either write a book about some of these memories or use them on stories you are in the process of writing. The important thing is to get them on paper. Then you can determine if you will use them.

Massaging every piece is helpful because it brings about more memories. You are priming the pump so to speak.

Some of the things I have written down are stories about my grandparents. Hopefully when my sister and I have enough, we can create a book for our children and grandchildren and other generations that will come so they too can meet and know these two wonderful people and their values.

Most of all, have fun bringing to life these old memories.

Susan Reichert, author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. She has written numerous magazine articles and stories in anthology books. She is a speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. Also, the founder of

Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group), and founder and co-publisher of Southern Writers Magazine. A national magazine for authors and readers (which is retired now). At the time she was the 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.

Visit Susan at:

Amazon -

Member of the: DAR; First Families of Mississippi.

May 18, 2021

When Life Gives You Lemons

Carolyn Miller

Well. Last year certainly has a lot to answer for, doesn’t it? 2020 did not quite fulfil the vision we began the year with. Or did it?

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, so while there were many challenges that we experienced last year, there were also a number of things we can now appreciate and be thankful for.

For me here in Australia, 2020 began with horrendous bushfires that claimed lives and devastated 12.6 million hectares (over 31 million acres) of our land. The effect of Covid 19 forcing us into various degrees of lockdown may have led us to greater levels of social isolation but coming mere weeks after much of the country faced the trauma of bushfires, I believe we were resilient enough to cope. That’s what tough times do: They force us to dig deeper for the grit that helps us to face the next challenge.

May 17, 2021

What Is It Really That We Want Poetry to Say?

Sara Robinson

In post past I’ve discussed how poetry can lead us to a great understanding, can be a call to witness, and can lead us to appreciation of nature and humanity. But that is not all poetry needs to say. The poet Stanley Moss describes poetry as “a carnival of word play.” I ask, how does poetry really come together and say something? We believe we have lots to say. We study forms, words, metrical patterns (or not), other poets, newspapers, and even other genres to give us help.

Here are some thoughts to improve our skills:

1. Slow down, and “smell the roses.” If we rush through our writing, we may miss words and lines that require closer inspection. My work-out trainer constantly has to remind me to slow my movements, let my muscles feel the work. If we speed out the door, we could miss that charming bluebird.

2. Manage effectively your expectations. Start writing without thinking about winning a contest. Get it down. Then get it good.

3. Don’t like what you’ve written? Before you throw it away, look through it and find at least one word or line that you do like. Put it down on a 3 x 5 card, save it for something else.

4. Manage distractions in your writing space. Set aside time. If you can’t write, then at least read. Maybe read a poem you don’t understand. Exercise your brain to dissect it until you find a meaning that satisfies you.

5. Free up your writing to find its own form. Truth be told, there is an organic process to what you write. It may show itself as a natural form to your poem. And if it comes together more like prose, then fine. You are seeking energy here.

We say what we say. We write what we write. Simple, yet complex. What we feel within us can stir us so magnificently that our writing becomes this unified strength. Here is something I am working on in a forthcoming manuscript:

Life and Death

“My feet stay cold

in black water

like some blood’s trickling

in hard rock veins

I’ll die too young

to see my age”

What will your poetry say to you, that you can say to your readers?

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).

May 14, 2021

Fun Friday ~ Covers and Titles


Which of these covers would draw your attention first?

Which of these titles would draw your attention first?

Based on the description, which book would you 
choose for your children or grandchildren?

May 13, 2021

The Winter of Our Discontent

Jan McCanless

2020 will certainly go down as unusual, to say the least. While I waited on my covid vaccine appointment, I did a lot of 'pondering' . For one thing, writers never seem to mind the solitude, we need it in fact, to do our creative writing. I used the year wisely, and, wrote another book, my 16th. Murder on the Rocks, concludes my Beryl's Cove mystery series, as well as my accompaning series, the Brother Jerome books. Two murder mystery series running at the same time.

As much as we need the solitude to write, we also need interaction with our fellow man, it's where our inspiration comes from. If you are just now starting out your writing career, or are in the middle of it, do some 'people watching', you will be amazed at the way seeing other people doing ordinary things, will inspire you. Most of my characters are composites of folks I meet, or see, along the way.

On a few occasions, I've had a friend ask me to write them into my books, and I have, always putting the best spin on their personalities that I can.

There is a very famous, prolific author who gives out tickets at his book signings, and, at the end, he draws a name out, and, that person gets written into his next book. Clever idea, and of course, all of that helps to promote his books.

When it comes to promoting your work, the sky's the limit, I have used home baked cookies, candy, balloons, pens, whatever it takes to get people to come to you and look over the books you are promoting. One of my most successful promotions was giving out stick on tattoos to children, and, they in turn, begged their parents to buy a book from 'that nice lady'. Deceptive? No indeed, the kids got to keep their tattoos, and the parents found out I write a pretty darned good story. Promoting your work is 90 % of the selling of your work. If you don't believe in your writing, how do you expect others to believe in it?

Writing is something that you have to be committed to. I laugh all the time when someone comes up to me at a signing or personal appearance, and, they ask me how many days it takes to write a book and get it published. Days?? Surely they jest! If this is your first book, or magazine article, whatever you are writing at the moment, give yourself a year. Yes, a year. If you whip something out in a few days or a week, and, feel you're through, look again, Creative, GOOD writing, must be honed, and sharpened over the course of time. Read it over, then, read it over again, you will be surprised at the corrections you have to make in spelling, punctuation, content. Are all your T's crossed, all your i's dotted? Is there continuity in your story, does it read well, does it make sense?

My latest book, Murder on the Rocks, was published March of this year. It was slow going with this one. In the middle of writing it, I had surgery on my shoulder, when I went back to it, I had forgotten a lot of the plot. Then, my transcriptionist got sick. Then finally I edited it and my publisher published it. It's been a year.

I know too, when we sent the book in to be published, it was as good as we could make it. Once in a while an unneeded or required apostrophe will slip thru, or a comma left out, this happens to the best writers of the biggest sellers, but, being patient and diligent does pay off.

Being an author is a wonderful thing to be. It is exciting to tell people you are an author, especially if your books are best sellers. All of mine have been,and it's more than gratifying. But, I paid my dues, and yes, I still get an occasional reject on a magazine article or column that I write. It can be frustrating, but, make sure, after each rejection, you double down, and be determined to make it better the next time.

Don't feel dejected just because someone turned down some writing. It could be that what you submitted just does not fit into their publishing schedule at this time. it happens. I wrote a book years and years ago, and submitted it to a publisher. He wrote back that he loved it, wished me well, but, they were only publishing dog stories at that time. So, I had to begin all over again. But, when you do that, and, you finallly 'hit', it will be very satisfying to you, and you can say, with pride, "I'm a published author.

I want every writer to be successful, there's room for all of us on the market, so, good luck in your endeavores,and I wish you well. A little prayer doesn't hurt either!

Author of the Beryl's Cove Mysteries.

Jan McCanless is a well-known author throughout North Carolina. Her list of publications and awards she has received would fill a good-sized volume by themselves. In addition to the Beryl’s Cove Mystery series and other books she is a freelance columnist for the Salisbury Post, a regular contributor to Senior Savvy, The Saturday Evening Post; Sophie Woman's Magazine, and a multitude of other periodicals. Read a current interview of Jan in Southern Writer

May 12, 2021

Do You Show A Photo?

Susan Reichert

Interesting thing happened the other day. I was searching for an author  and was having  difficulty in finding them. When I did find the author, the icon they used on their site was their book. They did not use a picture of themselves. Do not get me wrong, we want the picture of our books everywhere we can put them, but books change, so that means the next book this author writes will show instead of the one they had there previously. It is not consistent.

Books used in place of the author’s photo probably does not make the reader feel warm and fuzzy towards the author. The reader wants to know who you are. Seeing you tells them a lot about your writing, believe it or not. I think the first question they have is why doesn’t the author have a photo of themselves like other authors do? That is a question I find myself asking.

On Amazon they showed the book instead of their photo. If for some reason an author prefers not to use their personal photo, perhaps they can create a logo that will be their brand and use that in everything such as Amazon, websites, and social medias. Just like corporate America, each company has their own logo and that is what they use to market themselves and their products. Be consistent with it, however.

But I will repeat . . .the author’s best marketing tool is their own professional photo of themselves. Oh, and the photo should not be their dog, cat, or child.

I prefer seeing the photo of the author. Plus, the photo establishes the author with their reader immediately.

Using the photo helps people at conferences, such as agents, publishers, and other writers and staff recognize you as well as readers. Isn’t that what we want as authors?

I can understand why someone would be reluctant to put his or her picture on the internet. If that is the case for you, then hire a professional to create a logo for you to use.

A logo of your initials would certainly be a good branding tool. The important thing is to replace the icon of a silhouette with a picture of yourself or your logo.

Being an author is a business. We need to sell books to our readers. What do you want them to see first about you?

It’s the little things we do that bring us the biggest gains.

Can you think of other things that can be used to brand an author?

Susan Reichert, author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. She has written numerous magazine articles and stories in anthology books. She is a speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. Also, the founder of

Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group), and founder and co-publisher of Southern Writers Magazine. A national magazine for authors and readers (which is retired now). At the time she was the 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.

Visit Susan at:

May 11, 2021

Exciting Invitation From Tyndale Publishing!

                                                                    F R E E


Francine Rivers Chats with T. I. Lowe

Thursday, May 13, 2021 7:00 p.m. CT / 8:00 p.m. ET

Join bestselling author Francine Rivers and rising star T. I. Lowe as they chat about their books and more!

This FREE  online discussion will pair the legendary author of The Masterpiece and Redeeming Love with a bright new voice in contemporary women's fiction. Francine and T. I. will discuss their Redeeming Love connection, Southern fiction, how they write fiction that's grounded in truth, T.I.'s buzzworthy new release, and what's next from Francine.

May 10, 2021

10 Online Strategies for the Writer’s Mid-year Slump

 Edie Melson          @EdieMelson

1. Diversify: with all that’s going on in the digital universe we can see the wisdom of not putting all our social media eggs in one basket.

2. Email List: I know in the past I’ve let this one slide. Now that I’ve been reminded that I may not always have access to everyone through social media I’ve become more proactive about building my list.

3. Experiment with Video: We need to be more open about trying new things and new ways to connect. The hottest thing this year is video, particularly Facebook live.

4. Don’t Give Up on Blogging: Now more than ever writers need to build a stable digital foundation. Social media networks no longer qualify as stable. Small changes can hold devastating results if that’s our only audience-building strategy. This means we need a viable website or blog. If we only have a website, it’s hard to get it found because of Search Engine Optimization. That’s why blogging is such an important component.

5. Discover Where Your Audience Hangs Out & Join Them There: So often we make a fundamental mistake when we’re trying to connect with our readers. We expect them to come to us. Instead, we need to find places they hang out and visit them there. What does that mean? It can mean a lot of different things, from Facebook groups, chat rooms, online groups.

6. Look for Opportunities to Guest Post: Along the lines of hanging out where your audience is, look for other sites that have a good following and query about sharing a guest post.

7. Read & Comment on Other Blogs: This is similar to hanging out with your audience. Don't just think of blogs as a place to get or give information. Instead look at them as a gathering place. Interact with the audience, look for new people to connect with and join the conversation.

8. Build the Basics on Multiple Social Media Networks: This is two-part advice. First, don’t just pour all your energy into a single social media network. If it goes down, you’ll be left without an audience. Instead, get comfortable with multiple networks and you’ll be able to weather the changes to come. Second, make sure you have an account on all the major social media networks. You don’t have to be active on all of them. But by having an account, new followers can find you. Here are what I consider the major social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and if you’re nervous about what’s up next, I recommend signing up for an account on the up-and-coming network MeWe.

9. Stay Calm: It's vital that we don't allow social media changes to throw us into a panic. Some will work out for the best, and others, well, not so much. But as long as we stay flexible, we'll be fine.

10. Take a Break & Practice Balance. In times of stress, it’s easy to get in the I-Just-Need-To-Do-More mindset. When I hit a slump or a stressful time, I set a timer. I monitor how much time I’m spending online and make sure it’s balanced.

These are my tips to take us through the mid-year slump. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Edie Melson is the co-author of the bestseller Social Media for Today’s Writer. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and board member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Visit Edie at:

Edie Melson, Facebook

May 7, 2021

Fun Friday ~ Covers and Titles

Which of these covers would draw your attention first?

Which of these titles would draw your attention first?

Based on the description, which book would you choose?



May 6, 2021

Three Basics to Being a Good Writer

Irene Hannon

As I sat down to write this article—and to cull through all the tips I’ve learned through my many years and sixty-plus novels as a writer—I tried to think about which ones would have been most helpful to my rookie self.

It wasn’t easy—because the list is long, and every single thing I’ve learned has allowed me to grow and mature in my use of words and in my storytelling.

But if I have to choose among them, the following are certainly among the top three.

May 5, 2021

Just the Ticket

Amberly Neese

I never liked Chuck E. Cheese. Maybe it was the creepy mascot. Maybe it was the fact that their pizza often tasted like a dryer sheet, cost too much, and underwhelmed this consumer. It could have been the wall of prizes that were low in quality and high in ticket investment. The noise level was always overstimulating and obnoxious, the tables were sticky with soda residue, cake particulates, and kid sweat, and the scent combination of pizza, plastic, and prizes peppered the air. But my kids were there for the tickets—those little yellow tickets that kids treasured, saved, and redeemed for cheap prizes that had the sustainability of a dandelion.

As you can imagine, when Chuck E. Cheese filed for bankruptcy due to COVID, I did not shed a tear. Sure, I am sad that, yet another business came to a screeching halt in this economy, but I was not sad that I would never have to see a man in a giant mouse costume in the noisy pizzeria again. I never thought that having a rodent as a mascot for a restaurant was a good idea, but what do I know?!?!

May 4, 2021

The Gift and Burden of Storytelling

T. I. Lowe

How many people can say they get to daydream and make up stories for a living? As an author I am totally grateful to be able to raise my hand. I love having this ability to use my imagination to create a story. Through this freedom to create, I’m allowed control over the story’s themes and outcomes, which is something I’m not able to do in real life.

In my fictional world, I can also give my reader the gift of taking a break from his or her real world, to live in another setting, to experience something new right along with my characters. How incredibly rewarding is that!

May 3, 2021

Never Miss

Melissa Koslin

The pandemic was crazy. My day job is a commercial property manager (I manage shopping centers). In the middle of March 2020, it all went nuts. Closures started hitting us, and of course, our poor tenants were freaking out. Our entire department went into overdrive, figuring out how to handle all of this and how to best support our suffering tenants. I was answering emails and phone calls as quickly as I could for days. I’d answer one email, and five more would come in. The worst part was not having exactly perfect answers for everything that came up. There was no rulebook for a global pandemic that caused the complete closure of entire countries.

And the whole time, I felt guilty. I still had a job. Several of my family members got laid off, with no idea if they’d still have a job when the lockdowns were lifted. Thankfully, they are all okay now, but it was scary for a while.

Then the riots. A lot of the riots destroyed commercial property and small businesses, so we went on high alert to protect the properties, and more importantly, the tenants and customers.

And then my mom caught COVID. She’s not young, and she has diabetes, so I was worried. She went to the emergency room the first day with a headache so bad she could barely stand it. But thankfully, that was the worst of it for her. She stayed quarantined and recovered.