Wednesday, June 23, 2021


John M. Floyd

Question: When a book is published and released to the marketplace, if no one’s there to hear it land, does it still make a sound?

That’s what happened to me and my publisher in April 2020, not long after Covid-19 arrived. My eighth book was released then, and I think my diehard fans—thanks, both of you! —were the only ones who knew about it.

Here’s some background. I write mostly short mystery stories for magazines. I’ve written a lot of them, and Dogwood Press, a small but traditional publisher here in Mississippi, has produced seven collections of my short stories over the past fifteen years, a total of 240 stories.

For those who might be interested in how that works, we grouped thirty of my stories in each of the first two hardcover collections (Rainbow’s End and Midnight), forty stories in the third (Clockwork), thirty in the fourth (Deception), fifty in the fifth (Fifty Mysteries, which was softcover), and thirty stories each in the sixth and seventh books (Dreamland and The Barrens). Almost all the stories had previously appeared in magazines and short-story anthologies, and Dogwood Press allowed me to retain the rights to the individual stories should I choose to market them again in the future. Thankfully the books have sold pretty well—Rainbow’s End had a second hardcover print run—and I think it helped that each of them was “launched” at a signing at a large bookstore nearby. Mainly because of my publisher’s contacts, the books have been featured regularly at other signings at chain bookstores, independent stores, and libraries.

My eighth project with Dogwood Press was a bit different. It’s a book of 300 pieces of my light verse, all of them previously published in places like Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Writer’s Digest, Farm & Ranch Living, Grit, The Mystery Review, etc. That collection of poetry, called Lighten Up a Little, was different in another way also: it’s the book I was referring to earlier, the one that was published in the first months of the pandemic last year. At that time, we posted on Facebook that the book would available via Amazon and the publisher’s website, but because our usual launch venue had closed its doors to in-store customers by then, there was no kickoff signing. The collection sold a number of copies and is still selling occasionally, though not as well as it would’ve if I’d been out making appearances and signing books as I’d done with previous releases.

My publisher’s answer to all this, since things have begun opening more now due to the decrease in the number of Covid cases, will be to feature this most recent book at signings in the last half of this year, especially in bookstores during the Christmas season. The publisher and I are optimistic that the collection will get a good reception because it will still be “new” to stores and to most bookbuyers. (Note: I have so far done about a dozen Zoom sessions with literary groups and book clubs and have sold some books that way as well.) So that’s been my experience with new-book releases during the pandemic. What’s happened with the writing and selling of my mystery short stories, though, is a different matter. As terrible as these recent times have been, their effect on my writing has been minimal. The truth is, I wrote more short stories (35) in 2020 than the year before and have written 52 stories in the seventeen months since the pandemic began—probably because my wife and I have been home for the duration. No trips, meetings, gatherings, conferences, or even errands, so I’ve had a lot of time to dream up stories and write them down.

My story sales have been mostly unaffected as well. Some print magazines were forced to stop or slow operations for a while, but most are still afloat and thriving, and in these days of emailed submissions, sending stories into them and to online publications was easy. I’ve been fortunate enough to have 67 short stories published in magazines and anthologies since the lockdowns began, and I have 39 more that have been accepted (sold) but not yet published. Thank goodness for electronic submissions, proofs, edits, contracts, etc.

There’s one other bright spot, about my writing during these unusual times. Last year I received a note from a publisher in Moscow (they reached me via my website) saying they’d seen my short stories in The Saturday Evening Post and would like to publish some of them in a bilingual-edition book, with my stories appearing in English side-by-side with their Russian translations. (Another note: The print edition of the S. E. Post features six pieces of short fiction each year—one in every issue.) I immediately put the publisher in touch with my literary agent, and they soon struck a deal. That book, to be called Selected Stories by John M. Floyd, is due out later this year from VKN Publishing in Moscow. This opportunity was proof to me that short fiction in U.S. magazines do sometimes receive a degree of international exposure. In closing, I’ve found that yes, the pandemic has hurt the sales of my latest book—but

mainly because it prevented us from doing a proper in-person launch event and other signings when it was released. And I’ve experienced no negative impact on my short-story production or sales. Having said that, I’m glad—for many reasons—that the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us now, and I wish my fellow writers good luck with all their literary endeavors in the future.

Keep reading, and writing!

John M. Floyd’s work has appeared in more than 300 different publications, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Strand Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and three editions of The Best American Mystery Stories. A former Air Force captain and IBM systems engineer, John is also an Edgar Award finalist, a Shamus Award finalist, a four-time Derringer Award winner, the 2018 recipient of the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement, and the author of nine books.  Visit:


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Twelve-Step Program for NOT Becoming a Successful Writer

DiAnn Mills 


We fiction writers chase successful and entertaining stories like toddlers on a sugar-high. Im one of them. I can dream and plan and plot all day long. Yet sometimes we can be stopped cold by research, social media, and the reality of all the hard work writing takes.


For writers who live and breathe their writing addiction but have a problem staying on task, Im offering a twelve-step program called Story Chasers (SC). These are writers who want to be called authors but dont want to do the necessary work. That is not us! So, let’s beware.


1. Pacifier Writers

A pacifier is used to keep a baby from crying. In the instance of a writer, its whining about the publishing industry instead of writing better manuscripts.


2. Paint Writers

Dont paint your world with illusions such as, My mom says Im the best writer in the state. I dont need feedback.” If you want realistic feedback, ask someone other than a relative.


3. Passionless Writers

If a writers passion is not for his/her story idea, then a reader wont be enthusiastic about it either. Develop ideas that keep you excited about the project.


4.  Peacock Writers

Ouch. Pride stops us from success. It also brands us as unteachable. A humble writer learns the craft, develops a sense of the market, and is enthusiastic about edits.


5. Peanut Writers

George Washington Carver discovered 325 uses for the peanut. A peanut writer pens everything from T-shirt sayings to theology books. We all have varied interests, and thats commendable, but find your writing niche and stick with it.


6. Perspiration Writers

Some writers dont like to sweat. If youre not dripping over your manuscript, then youre not writing a quality story. Writing is a contact sport: your mind is engaged with your heart and fingers. Sweat. Its good for the soul.


7. Pickle Writers

Weak writers are afraid to write themselves into a pickle. They dont want the challenge of discovery, research, or unpredictable outcomes. They also dont sell their work.


8. Plumber Writers

Plumber writers flush all their work down the toilet and never seek publication. Need I say more? Find your confidence and reach your goals.


9. Plywood Writers

Plywood is flexible, inexpensive, easy to work with and reusable. But its very hard to bend perpendicular to the grain. A plywood writer refuses to accept constructive criticism or change with the industry. In short, a plywood writer insists upon writing his/her way. 


10. Popcorn Writers

Popcorn writers are those who jump from one frying pan to another. They submit, are rejected, and submit again without looking at the manuscript for ways to improve it.


11. Potato Writers

Some writers dont want to write for free. Its beneath them. Small potatoes grow into big ones, and those nonpaying manuscripts build our resume. A writer always learns in the creative process.


12. Piranha writers   

Some writers will do anything to keep from writing. They like to swim through swift

waters with published writers, but they have one excuse after another not to work. They never make deadlines, even self-imposed ones. Piranha writers set themselves up to be devoured by the sharks who are swimming upstream.


If youve discovered a characteristic that slides you into a Story Chaser mode, nows the time to change bad habits and begin the next bestseller. How are you changing your writing habits?

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.

For more info visit DiAnn Mills at:

Friday, June 18, 2021

Fun Friday with Color on Books

 Okay! Let's talk color on the covers of books.

What is the first color on which book that draws your eye first?

Why does it draw your eyes to it?

What is the second color?

Why was your eye not drawn to this one first?

And what is the third?

Do you think the third color should have been a different color?

What do you think? Remember, colors draw our attention.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fire in Your Belly

 Sara Robinson

Sometimes we want to write strongly about events or issues that particularly affect us.

I get it. I often feel the same way. But here is the thing: How do really great poets and writers get their words across without coming across as “preachy”? The answer to that lies probably in what can be described as “poetic finesse.” We can research about embracing the “great understanding” and how to write as a “witness,” but what about the real fire that one feels. How do we harness that successfully into words and lines without failing our task?


Poets have always been viewed as having a passion for their writing. We see something, a minor thing, and we can create transformative verse that elevates our mind and if we are so lucky, the mind of the reader. Take the transformative poem, The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams. His first two lines: “so much depends / upon…”  You must agree those four words are transformative. Everything in our lives depends upon something or someone else, no matter how isolated we may be. I can sense Williams’ “fire” in those few words because they speak to such large things out of his control.


Let’s take that premise even further as we look at these opening lines from Lester Speiser: “Your violin shattered stars; / call yourself a nice Jewish / boy?” As the poem progresses, I read Speiser getting more and more angry, but not at the boy (who ended up being a hero) but at the Nazis. The reading of this poem stirred in me an anger as well for the aftermath of the Holocaust.

This anger was that the Holocaust robbed so many of their lives and their futures. This poem certainly showed me his “fire in the belly.” That was certainly his idea, I’m sure.


So, how do you channel this passion, this torch, these flaring embers into remarkable writing?

First, look at word choices. Think of powerful words that can be chosen to make your points.

Think of your senses. Which one(s) do you want to focus on? How you feel? What do you see?

I often look to my surroundings to give me ideas/inspiration. A brightly-colored dolphin fish when in the water, and just hooked, is brilliant. But when it comes onto a boat, within seconds, it turns deathly grey. What an opportunity to use this as a metaphor. Elizabeth Bishop and others have used this same fish. Does “red” conjure up something deep within you?


Search for that fire, stoke it properly, with your creativity, then transform yourself while you transform others.

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).


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Why Put Existing Titles in a Collection?

Pamela S Thibodeaux

When I began my publishing career over twenty years ago, I had a full-time job, marriage, and children at home. If you factor in writing, editing, pitching, contracts, edits from publisher, setting up promotion and/or book signings, speaking events, etc., etc., etc., I decided one book a year was a feasible goal.

As the industry continued to change and evolve, I became more of a “Hybrid” author than trad-published, and a whole new world opened for me. Suddenly things like, audio books and collections and numerous distribution options became a reality. I found there is a lot of trial and error in this business, therefore, I reevaluated my writing/producing one book a year goal and changed that to one product per year and asked myself the following….

Write to market or stay true to my heart – in other words; is it about the money or about the message?

Which categories do the books fit into and what boxes can I think outside of in this?

EBook, Print, Audio, Single title, Series, Collection?

Amazon Exclusive or Wide Distribution?

Marketing (where, when, and how much money can I spend)?

All viable questions each author must answer for him/herself.

Why would an author put existing work in a collection?

Because it is a whole new product. You can offer the collection cheaper than individual titles (after all, the major work in writing, editing, etc. has already been done) and readers LOVE bargains!

Love’s Overcoming Power is a collection of 3 full-length women’s fiction novels and a novella all of which are independently published as single titles. Each had their own set of emotional challenges in writing. The Visionary deals with adult survivors of child abuse – something I never experienced and was terrified of getting wrong. The book is set on a piece of property that once belonged in my family, so researching was imminent but fun. Circles of Fate is a romantic saga covering twenty-years in the lives of the main characters. The intriguing twists and turns fate uses to bring together these people whose lives will forever be entwined was a constant rollercoaster. Keri’s Christmas Wish was a sheer joy to write because through Keri, I got to visit heaven and learn something about one of the most precious times of the year in a Christian’s life. My Heart Weeps deals with one woman’s journey through grief into new life and parallels my own after my husband’s death in 2009.

Blurb: Temptation, Abuse, Grief and Doubt are plagues common to women all over the world. In John, 16 Jesus said…. In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.

In this Women's Fiction collection comprised of three full-length novels and one novella, Pamela S Thibodeaux shares stories that exemplify the power of God's love to overcome whatever situations life throws at you.

Includes: The Visionary, Circles of Fate, My Heart Weeps and Keri's Christmas Wish.

Pamela S. Thibodeaux is an award-winning author, and is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” 

Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

9 Important Steps in Selling Your Book

Susan Reichert

Many authors finish writing their book, publish it and then start trying to market their books.

But you can make it easier on yourself if you start your homework on marketing before and during the writing of the book.

You know what your book is about. You know the genre. So maybe doing some research into what other authors (the ones who write in your genre) will give you a much better understanding of your market. This way you are not groping in the dark for the who, how, and where.

1. Search for successful books in your genre.

2. What kind of ratings do they have?

3. How many stars?

4. How many reviews?

5. Read the reviews.

6. How many women, how many men?

7. What is the ranking?

8. Check out their websites, a lot of times you will see ways they are marketing their books.

9. If they have a blog, see how they are marketing their books there.

Then begin to analyze what they all have in common. Choose what you consider to be the top five and compare, compare, compare their results.

This will give you a much better understanding of your market.

Finally, look at their cover design and their title. Two of the most important features people will see.

It takes a little time to do research, but it is well worth it.

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.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Time Before and the Time Now

Rachel Fordham

I almost hate to use the word pandemic in this post, but it’s unavoidable. Don’t run off though! As much as we are sick of hearing about pandemics, masks and social distancing, it is still good to sit back and reflect, and consider what’s changed and how to move forward. Today I am narrowing in (I almost wrote zooming in, but that felt triggering too) on the pandemic and my writing.

I was halfway through writing my debut when my son was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy. I was a changed person when I finished that novel. I was aware of fear and loss in ways I hadn’t been before his diagnosis. I was also more keenly conscious of how others could lift me up, of my faith and of my love for my family. Other life events since then have confirmed to me that major events leave permanent marks on us (both good and bad) and as an author, they also affect writing.

The pandemic is not as personal as my foster care journey or raising a medically fragile child, it’s something we’ve endured as a group. It’s a shared experience, one that we are likely sick of, but also one that we will always be able to relate to each other about. On a personal level, the pandemic has not only changed the practical nature of writing for me (with my kids home, I have had to learn to write in smaller doses, versus my preferred big chunks of time), but it has also affected the stories I write.

During the pandemic I have become more aware of other’s loneliness, more conscious of our ability to reach out in creative ways, more mindful of how small gestures can brighten days and increasingly in awe of the importance of family and faith. Whenever I grow as an individual, those newly learned skills or lessons tend to sneak their way into my writing (usually without even knowing it). In a way, readers will get to know me, through my fictional characters and their journeys.

I hope that with each novel I write I dig a little deeper into the human heart and experience, while still sending readers on a romantic adventure that leaves them with a happy sigh and all the feels. During this pandemic the need to be entertained, swept away and encouraged by stories has been emphasized. We need each other! I’m sure we knew that before, but we know it in a whole new way now. It’s my hope that my latest release A Lady in Attendance, will remind readers of their importance, of forgiveness and of the healing power of love. Hazel is lonely, not because of a pandemic, but because she doesn’t know where she belongs in the world. Friendship changes everything in her story, in much the same way that connection and friendship can change so much for us.

That was a very long way of saying that the pandemic has affected my life and writing, my reading and family, and my heart.

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas, and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart, and she delivers, diving deep into the human experience and tugging at reader emotions. She loves
connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy
mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she feels passionate about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Fun Friday - Top 3 Best Selling Books - A Surprise


The top three best sellers . . . (on Amazon week June 10) two of which are cookbooks and one is a political comentary and opinon book.

That is quite different, don't you think? The political commentary is sandwiched between two cookbooks.

People have been  quarantined for over a year, so I was surprised to see the #1 and #3 best sellers were cookbooks. For most of us, being at home during pandemic, are probably ready to go out and eat. . . yet cookbooks are needed. 

And after hearing all the noise this past year with politics, I was a little surprised a political book was the number two best seller.

👉So the question is this:

Would you have guessed that two cookbooks would be in the top three books in the "Best Seller" list chosen along with a political book?

Have upi ever thought about writing a "cookbook"?

Should authors think about compiling receipes their families love and putting them together to share with others? And if we deed, would it bring more attention to our other books?

Have you ever thought about writing a comentary on the political scene?


The #1 Seller Skinnytaste Meal Prep by Gina Homolka

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Save time, money, and calories with #1 New York Times bestselling author Gina Homolka's simple, smart solutions for healthy freezer meals, ready-to-serve dishes, grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches, ingenious "planned-overs," and more.



#2 Best Seller -  American Marxism by Mark R. Levin

The six-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, Fox News star, and radio host Mark R. Levin explains how the dangers he warned against in the “timely yet timeless” (David Limbaugh, author of Jesus Is Risen) bestseller Liberty and Tyranny have come to pass.

#3 Best Seller - Joshua Weissman  An Unapologetic Cookbook

With no regrets, excuses, or apologies, Joshua Weissman will instruct you how with his irreverent humor, a little bit of light razzing, and over 100 perfectly delectable recipes. If you love to host and entertain; if you like a good project; if you crave control of your food; if fast food or the frozen aisle or the super-fast-super-easy cookbook keep letting your tastebuds dow

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Interview With Janet Grunst

 Suite T's Interview with Janet Grunst

Janet Grunst is a lifelong student of history. her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, and encouragement to the reader. She is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. The second book in the series, A Heart For Freedom was the 2019 Christian Indie Award for Historical Fiction.

Janet how do you manage to write a historical novel and make it feel fresh?

While historical events and actual people are set at a specific point in time, there are often details about them that readers have little knowledge of and find interesting. Fictional characters in historical novels often experience many of the same issues mankind has struggled with throughout time. The characters’ attitudes and how they navigate life decisions are often a view into the era and culture in which they live. 

What elements do you use to make your historical fiction become what your readers want to read? 

I believe readers want a compelling story, either character or event-driven. Thorough research and accuracy in depicting everything about the era are critical. Readers of historicals expect that and pick up on an author’s errors. Those of us who write historical fiction love the research, and for me, it’s an ongoing process, not just before I start a story. It involves everything from words, idioms, and items in use at the time, modes of travel and communication, and knowledge of the area in which the story takes place.   

Where did the idea come from for this book?


This is the third story in a series about several families. The stories are all stand-alone and focus on a specific period of the American Revolution. A Heart Set Free takes place before the war, A Heart For Freedom early in the war. Setting Two Hearts Free is in the latter years of the war. The third story delves into what we know today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While the condition is better understood in recent decades, often associated with war, it has been around forever. PTSD not only affects the individual but also impacts their family and friends. Both of the story’s main characters are suffering from trauma, though for different reasons.


Did you ask the “What if questions” and if so, what were the first what if questions?

Interesting question. My what-ifs would have to be what if my traumatized characters’ behavior is misunderstood and fractured relationships. And what if there is no easy answer to solve it?

Were you able to put a different twist on your story so it would not seem like other stories?

Yes, I had several characters coping with PTSD, and one with non-combat-related trauma who struggled with it. It’s a complex condition and I wanted to write a story of perseverance and hope. PTSD is a complex condition and isn’t always solved. However, people can learn to have fulfilling and productive lives while coping with it. 

Did you focus on a specific group of people during a turbulent time?

 The Revolutionary War lasted seven years and was our first civil war often pitting neighbors, families, and friends against each other. The series takes place in various parts of Virginia and the Carolinas centering around several families in Fairfax County and Alexandria during the Revolutionary War.  

What time periods do you like to write about?

I find many different eras fascinating. The series takes place in the colonial period through the Revolutionary War. I also have a novella The Year Without Summer, in The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection. It takes place in 1816 Scotland and Ireland. The story I’m currently working on takes place in 1847.

What draws you to that time period?

I find it fascinating how current events can change the course of a person's life. The circumstances my characters find themselves in are the result of personal tragedy, political, economic, cultural, agricultural, and even geological events.

Did you focus on a special individual?

Since my stories are all in the historical romantic fiction genre there are always two main characters. 

Do you think the setting enhances your writing?

Absolutely. I think the setting gives a story depth, and sometimes a vital part of the story.

What advice would you give a novice about writing historical novels?

Write the truth about history, the good and the bad. We live in an era when history is being rewritten and too often our young people are not being educated about what made our country great.

Be faithful in doing the research as much as writing your story. Accuracy is essential and in historical fiction, it will impact almost everything in your story.

And finally how do you feel the pandemic affected your writing?

Other factors impacted my writing during this period, but I can’t blame them on the pandemic. 

We want to thank Janet for spending time with us today, If you love historical fiction you will definitely love Janet Grunst stories.

Here are links to get in touch with Janet Grunst:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Best Laid Plans…

Patricia Bradley

Well, it’s time to see how my plans worked out since my February post. At that time, it was almost the end of February, and I had set what I thought were reachable goals. Let’s see how that turned out:

February 28, 2021, I had 18,000 words. That was 2K less than I’d hoped for, but not bad. After that it was all downhill, and I don’t mean in a good way. My daughter contracted Covid 19 which threw me for a loop. She is almost 800 miles away, but fortunately she had a mild case. Unfortunately, just as she was getting ready to go back to work, she developed Covid pneumonia. Since February 26th she has been in and out of the hospital four times, the last stay lasting almost three weeks. I flew down there for eight days.

It’s amazing to me that there are writers who can write under any circumstance. I am not one of them. By the time I got my head back into the book and had 45,000 words written, guess what? Edits for Crosshairs, the third book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers arrived. And it was a hot mess!

Three weeks later, I turned in the edits and have now started on the fourth book once more…but guess what again? As I write this, it’s the middle of May and there is no way I can meet my June 1 deadline. My agent contacted my editor and explained the situation and she graciously gave me until July 1. That means I need to write 2000 words five days a week to meet a deadline that gives me enough time to polish the manuscript. No goofing off when I’m supposed to be writing. And NO ONE can have an emergency—I don’t have time for it. (You’re supposed to grin here.)

One thing I know—God called me to do this writing gig, and he will enable me to meet my deadline.

I’ll keep you posted when I turn the manuscript it!



Patricia Bradley is a Carol finalist and winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, and three anthologies that included her stories debuted on the USA Today Best Seller List. She and her two cats call Northeast Mississippi home--the South is also where she sets most of her books. Her romantic suspense novels include the Logan Point series and the Memphis Cold Case Novels. Obsession, the second book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, released February 2, 2021. She is now hard at work on the third book and fourth book, Crosshairs and Deception.



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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

When Will Life Get Back To Normal?

 Lynn Austin

We’ve all been at war with the COVID-19 virus this past year, and the fear, uncertainty, and isolation we’ve experienced have been depressing at times. Like many authors, I began to wonder if I had anything worthwhile to say, and if I did, would anyone be interested in reading it. Then I recalled another time when world events had a similar, destructive effect on my writing, and I remembered the lessons I’d learned back then. The event was the 9/11 terror attacks. At the time, I was writing a historical novel about the Civil War, and my first thought was “Who will want to read about that when the world is in such turmoil? With news headlines commanding our attention, will people even read novels anymore?”

In the hours and days after the shocking attacks, we all wondered what would happen next. Would life as we knew it halt like all the air traffic? My daughter was in high school at the time, and one evening she poured out her fear and grief due to her disrupted life and unknown future. Would she ever have the things she’d dreamed of? Would she ever feel safe again? As I listened and wept with her, I realized that her feelings were probably the same as the young main character in my novel. Her country was also at war. An enemy threatened her city, and she feared for her life and her loved ones’ lives. I quickly wrote down everything my daughter had shared (with her permission) and returned to my novel with new insights.

That memory from 9/11 has kept me writing, and has even energized my writing, during this pandemic. What we’ve all experienced this past year—the fear, the isolation, the shortages, the canceling of our travel plans and weddings and graduations, and most of all, the specter of death hovering over us and our loved ones—has been experienced by the generations who have come before us. Their stories and their examples of courage and sacrifice can motivate and inspire us in our current times. I’ve had my dark moments this past year, but I’ve continued to write, pouring my own feelings of grief and worry and helplessness into my characters’ stories with firsthand insight.

When the pandemic struck, I had been researching and writing two novels that take place during World War II. The first book, If I Were You, released four months after the lockdown and tells the story of two young women who endure life in war-torn London, including the terrifying Nazi bombing blitz. The second book, Chasing Shadows, which releases June 8, tells the stories of three women who are trying to survive in the Netherlands after the surprise Nazi invasion and occupation of their country. The events in these novels share many similarities with the current pandemic.

Foremost are our fears: Will I survive? Will my loved ones survive? Also, our sense of helplessness, which can lead to despair, anger, and even hatred. Our many losses are the same, including our dreams and various measures of freedom. We all ride the never-ending emotional ups and downs of hope and disappointment. And we share the uncertainty about tomorrow, the inability to plan for an unknown future, and the anxiety of wondering when our situation will finally end. Of course, we know that World War II did end with the defeat of the Nazis. Life gradually returned to normal. But the men and women who lived through that war, day by day for five long years, had no idea how it would end or how much longer they would be forced to suffer.

In challenging times, we each must choose how we will respond. While some people succumbed to despair and emotional breakdown during WWII, many, many more found sources of great courage and faith that led them to accomplish selfless, courageous acts. In both novels, I chose to write about characters who responded with faith and courage. Yes, they sometimes felt fear and self-pity, but it was love for the people they cared about that helped them rise above their circumstances. I saw many examples of such selfless courage during this pandemic, especially from our medical workers.

“When will life get back to normal?” I hear that longing voiced nearly every day. I want to reply, “Probably never.” Things will never go back to the way they were. For the men and women in WWII, the war finally ended, but their lives were very different—and in some ways, better. They had learned things about themselves and had gained new strengths and new levels of faith in God that transformed them into different people. Better people. Hardship will change us, one way or another. It can destroy us or strengthen us if we allow it to. It’s my hope that the two novels I published during this pandemic will energize readers’ faith and offer this message of hope from author C. S. Lewis, who endured WWII in Great Britain: “There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was one of the first inductees into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. One of her novels, Hidden Places, was made into a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Lynn and her husband have three grown children and make their home in western Michigan. Visit her online at