September 29, 2021

What About Reading Poetry?

 Sara M. Robinson

Do poets read others’ poetry with the same enthusiasm as reading their own? Why should we read poetry? Do these questions seem trite to you? They are not meant to be. You might be surprised to learn that many poets do not read poetry. They may read other genres or journals or digital files, I don’t know. But I have come across poets who tell me that they don’t read much poetry. And I ask them why? The response is mostly about time, or lack of it to read. Some offer up that a lot of the poetry now seems to be on themes that are not interesting to them or even relevant to what they are writing.

It’s funny, as in peculiar, to me that writers of particular genres may not read others in that same arena. I don’t think this is an isolated situation either. I think more and more writers are scarce in time and find they have to pick what they do. Do you agree? I wonder if going to a reading would inspire more interest in reading poetry. But now we have to deal with the upsurge in covid-related illness and the growing threat of more isolation. For me this means I will turn more to poetry to read.

To read poetry, is to learn. I have not stopped learning. To read poetry, is to live. I have not stopped living. To read poetry, is to experience language in the most incredible ways. I want to embrace language. To read poetry, is to be reassured that all can be good in the world. I want to see and feel better. To read poetry, is to connect with people of all ethnicities. I want to know these people. To read poetry, is to celebrate an art form that is ageless. I love to celebrate.

Did you know that after 9/11 poetry sales rose? To read poetry, is to offer solace, give succor to those around us. To read poetry in the aftermath of a catastrophe and create a “wellness” is to offer a kind of peace, a kind of rest. We can find in poetry a path to our own acceptance and strengthening of our personal resolve to be a greater person. Maybe a greater poet.

So, yes, we must read poetry. Poets can be everything and everyone. Poets write poems for everyone, even though poets write for themselves. When a book of poetry arrives in my mail, I open the package slowly, knowing that a treasure is within. The late Mary Oliver had a poem, “Humility.” Poems arrive ready to begin.// Poets are only the transportation.”

Find a poetry book and begin.

Until next time…

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


September 28, 2021

Mad Lib Fun

Heidi Gray McGill

We all know reviews do more than encourage authors yet writing a review can be daunting. Many people prefer not to leave one because they may not feel they write well enough or know what to say.

If you fall into that category…here’s a fun way to make it easy to write a review.

Directions: Choose the word(s) that best fits in the blank:

I __verb___ this book! (Loved, enjoyed, adored, treasured, devoured)

The characters were ___adjective__. (Entertaining, delightful, wonderful, amusing, charming, real)

_____Name_____ was my favorite character because _____________________________.

©Author Heidi Gray McGill 2021

The story was ___adjective__. (Engaging, captivating, sweet, uplifting, inspiring)

I will ____adverb_____ (gladly, heartily, definitely) recommend this book to my friends.

I really hope the author writes more books in this series, because ________________. (I want to know more about a certain character, these characters feel like family, I must know what happens to ___name___)

I look forward to reading more books by this author because ____________________________. (I enjoy her writing style; I love the way she reveals the spiritual side of her characters; she ties true, historical events to her storyline.)

See? That was fun!! AND easy!

You don’t have to match the author’s writing skills when leaving a review. A couple of sentences do the trick! If you have read a book recently and haven’t yet left a review, please encourage an author today and submit your completed review on Amazon and other online retailers or sites you frequent. You’ll make someone’s day!

©Author Heidi Gray McGill 2021

Heidi Gray McGill loves to travel, especially to foreign lands, even though she speaks no foreign language. She embraces the culture, the food, and even the inconveniences that come with adventure.

Her thirst for adventure plays out in her writing. If she can’t visit in person, especially in during the Covid-19 Crisis, why not visit in her mind, and eventually in writing? Wh
en mishaps are shared in her stories, a slightly tweaked personal incident could be possible, although she will most likely deny all reference to reality.

In addition to writing, Heidi is the founder and Director of an English as a Second Language Program in her hometown. She is an ESL certified teacher and enjoys providing opportunities for non-native speakers to learn English and of God’s love.

Heidi lives out daily her favorite Bible verse, 1 Samuel 1:18 “[Hannah] said, ‘May your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.” Heidi identifies with Hannah, believing we each choose to be joyful in our hearts, no matter our circumstances. She also agrees that eating something, especially chocolate, can solve myriad issues.

Heidi has been married for nearly 30 years and lives near Charlotte, NC, where she spends her days having fun with her grandson. When she isn’t playing, you’ll find her cooking, scrapbooking, or writing. She recently released her first book, Desire of My Heart, and her r sequel, With All My Heart released in April of 2021.

Visit Heidi at:

Heidi’s thirst for adventure plays out in her writing.  If she can’t visit in person, why not travel in her mind and eventually in writing?  A slightly tweaked personal incident could be possible when mishaps occur in her stories, although she will most likely deny all reference to reality.  Learn more about Heidi and her books at

To receive the FREE prequel to Heidi’s “Discerning God’s Best” series, please join her newsletter

Heidi interacts with her Reader friends through Facebook and Instagram.

Heidi Gray McGill, Author
Please visit my website

September 27, 2021

Leave Your Comfort Zone

Audra Jennings

It’s easy to fall into a routine that’s easy and comfortable because it’s what has always been done. But sometimes we need to get pushed out of our comfort zones in order to do the work God really calls us to do. That’s what happens to the members of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry in Sharon J. Mondragón’s debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady.

“The spiritual theme of The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady is going ‘Beyond the Building,’” Mondragón shares. “I want readers to be inspired to step out of their comfort zones of church ministry to reach those outside of church with the love and care of God.”

Mondragon goes on to say, "Much of The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady was inspired by own experience in a prayer shawl group. Due to a military move, I was the new girl once again, and I joined my first prayer shawl group in hopes of making friends, but it turned out to be so much more. The ministry met in the café of a local health food store. The pastor wanted us to ply our needles in public, not hidden away in the church building. People often stopped by our table to ask what we were making or to tell us about someone they loved who also knitted or crocheted. We were a warm and comforting presence in that space every week.” 

After Sharon's husband’s retirement, they moved again, and she is now the facilitator of her current church’s prayer shawl ministry that meets weekly at a local coffee shop.

Her debut novel is warm and delightful, full of real laughter, grief, and personality. It beautifully illustrates the power of women across generations to reach people for Christ.


Sharon J. Mondragón writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest. Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store. Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.

Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).

September 24, 2021

Here is an Interesting Premise: How Can Thinking Like An Artistic Painter Help a Poet?

Sara Robinson

I have a long-time friend, who in the height of her career was a well-known and highly regarded fashion illustrator. She and I compare notes frequently on techniques for each of our crafts. She wants to write poetry, but I really want to steal some of her ideas. One of my techniques she often brings up is my use of white space. She is intrigued as white space is an essential tool for the artist. I like to think of my white space as an insertion of “pause.” She uses the space more for defining her intended subject. She uses white pigment to create white space while my “writing canvas” is simply left blank.

In some works of art, the artist has created pathos or chaos or poignancy. Think of Van Gogh or Cezanne. In paintings the artist has several ways for expression to not only get a viewer’s attention, but also to invoke an emotional commitment. Since we can’t “write” with colors, texture, or perspective, we must use words to present the same effect. In past columns, I’ve mentioned metaphor and simile as tools. But it all comes down to language. For example, how would you describe a southern mansion, abandoned, in shadows of live oak and Spanish moss? Your decision might be influenced by what emotions you wanted to bring out. Do you want this mansion to be creepy? Or do you want it to be sad? How would you put each into words for a poem?

So, in all this, I’m suggesting that you write as a painter would. Moss, for instance, has a muted green color that is anything but vivid. How does it hang from the trees? Do breezes move the moss in a certain way? Look at the live oak branches. How do they appear? Stately? Forlorn?

Or maybe the branches are still and waiting. As I drive up to this mansion, I see sheer cotton curtains emerge from windows like little thin translucent ghosts escaping the heat.

My friend created an illustration for a play based on my Needville poetry book. It was a coal miner standing in front of a cart of coal. He held a pickaxe on his shoulder. His look was one of stern conviction and accomplishment. I wrote about him in my book that he had to always put on a brave front for his family. Art can give us many ideas to choose from in our writing.

Here is an exercise to consider: Find an illustration and see what you can write about it as a poem. Study it for details that might normally be missed. Your topic might not even have anything to do with the art, but for one little, small detail.

In all your writing, have fun. Write to the end of the page and wrap it around the edge. Like an infinity canvas. A key word or line around the edge could be an interesting surprise.

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).

September 23, 2021

September 22, 2021

Weaving Story Threads


Jane Kirkpatrick

At a Women Writing the West conference several years ago, I attended a session called “Expanded visions: Four Women Artists Print the American West.” The story behind each artist and their work – all of whom were women of color – changed my writing life. I received permission from the curator to get slides of the artwork and use them in teaching writing classes, organizing two non-fiction works and in every historical novel based on the lives of real women that I’ve written. The prints inspired four story threads: Landscape, Relationship, Spirituality, Work.

The landscape print Jackstraw was done by Navajo artist Emmi Whitehorse. The word means “something perceived as worthless or barren.” But in her print of desert seeds and weeds one finds insects used to dye cloth and grind flour. It isn’t barren at all. I use this lens to ask what is the relationship of my characters to rock, wind, fire and water? I use metaphors of landscape to show readers how they see the world. “Like the slow rising of the river after an early snowmelt in the mountain, he seeped into my life, unhurried, almost without notice until the strength and breadth of him covered everything that had once been familiar, made it different, new over old.” (From A Sweetness to the Soul).

Chinese artist Hung Liu’s print she titles Sisters. I describe that theme as “Relationships.” The painting shows a girl carrying another on her back. They’re laughing. I ask my characters who they lean on? Who do they need to avoid and why? I make a list before I start writing identifying possible relationship tensions and how those pressures help or prevent my protagonist from achieving their goal. In memoir, this is a critical question. In biography, answering who supported whom can open up new avenues of exploration.

Hispanic artist Anita Rodriguez gave me “Spirituality” in her work Homage to Selena honoring the singer killed by a fan in 1995. The skeleton in the print is happy, dancing over an undulating floor. It invites exploration of how my characters struggle with mortality. Are they fearful or does danger invite them into risk? Spirituality asks us to question where they get their strength from to endure life’s challenges? What takes them from their cellar of sorrow to new light?

The final print is of an African-American washer woman. We see her face only reflected in the water of the tub she’s carrying. Artist Alison Saar titled her woodcut Washtub Blues and for me it shows how the subject is reflected in her work. Did they choose their profession or fall into it? How someone builds a fence or bakes bread also offers beats for authentic dialogue. “’My stitching is improving, don’t you think?’ “Don’t change the subject,” her mother said.’”

The artistry of these women can help us all weave better stories rich with landscapes, relationships, spirituality and work.

All the prints are now in the Autry Museum in Los Angeles.


Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of forty books, including Something Worth Doing, One More River to Cross, Everything She Didn’t Say, All Together in One Place, A Light in the Wilderness, The Memory Weaver, This Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, andthe 2016 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. Jane divides her time between Central Oregon and California with her husband, Jerry, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,Caesar.

Learn more at

September 21, 2021

Who Influnced our Writing Most?


I have been doing research on finding who are some of the greatest writers of all time. Why? Curiosity, mainly.

And in doing so, I ran across this website:

No Sweat Shakespeare. They have an article on the thirty greatest writers classified under fiction writers. Their criterion would be, “They should be poets, dramatists and prose fiction writers who have had a significant influence on the writers who came after them or on the direction of society.”

I chose to look at the first fifteen that they considered the greatest writers as well as shaping our thinking. These years are from 850 BC to the 1800’s:

Homer – His two epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Sophocles – Oedipus the King is his most famous play, also the greatest Greek drama. A Greek who wrote plays for tragic dramas.

Virgil – A Roman poet, wrote the epic Aeneid.

Mark – The Evangelist who wrote The Gospel of St Mark.

Dante- An Italian poet,  wrote the acclaimed poem The Divine Comedy.

Geoffrey Chaucer- A giant of English poetry wrote The Canterbury Tales.

Francois Rabelais - A French novelist wrote volumes of The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

Miguel Cervantes- He wrote Don Quixote and is the most important writer in the history of the modern novel and one in the history of literature.

John Donne – His famous poem A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.

John Milton- His epic poem Paradise Lost.

John Bunyan – Writer of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Voltaire – (François-Marie Arouet) Novelist, wrote Candide.

William Blake – An English poet best known for Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

Jane Austen – Considered to be her finest work is Mansfield Park.

Hans Christian Andersen – The Emperor’s New Clothes is considered the best short story ever written.

Of these top fifteen writers, you can see seven of these people were poets and these poets influenced our writing, not just poetry, but plays, novels and lyrics.

What you may not know is writing poetry helps us write better. Through poetry we develop a greater understanding of language. We can see our writing through different eyes. It teaches us to express ourselves or our ideas in a more succinct manner.

So, take a break and try your hand at poetry. See what words you can bring to play. As writers it helps our writing to "get out of our box" so to speak. Have fun!

September 20, 2021

Skip Setting and Write Storyworld

Tari Faris

Skip setting? Yes, you heard me correctly. But don’t worry—we won’t leave your readers lost—because in setting’s place we will add Storyworld. Aren’t they the same?

No, setting is just the facts.

The red barn sliding-door stood halfway open. The grass had been worn away in front of the door, as well as along a small path to the tree a few feet away where she had once built a tree house. Emily stepped closer to the remains of the treehouse and picked up a weather board that still contained the letters J+E. She tossed it aside and walked toward the house.

This works to help us see where she is but we don’t feel any emotional attachment to any of it. Storyworld takes the external and connects it to the internal of the observing character. Remember, if they are seeing it and we are in their deep POV, then there needs to be a reason they are noticing it.

Emily stepped out of her car, each step heavier than the last. The red barn still remained after all these years, although the paint had faded with time. The sliding door stood halfway open, as if her father were just inside finishing up his chores. But he wasn’t here—and he’d never be here again. She turned away as her throat began to tighten. Her gaze traveled along the well worn path to the treehouse. What was left of it, anyway. Jonny had convinced her that he’d known what he was doing but they had been lucky that neither had gotten hurt. She took a few steps closer and picked up one of the boards running her fingers over the roughly scratched letters “J+E” then tossed it back in the pile. She needed to sign the papers and go. There was nothing left for her here.

This is rough, but hopefully it will help you see how connecting the internal to the external setting can strengthen the emotion of the scene and help create the Storyworld. Look at one of your scenes: are there areas that you can connect the external setting to what is going on internally?

Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects
manager for My Book Therapy, writes for, and is a
2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children.

Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years. Learn more at

September 17, 2021

Prompts To Help Writer's Blocks


Writing Prompts To Help The Writer's Block

Any writing prompt that has something to do with your time in school, helps  if you have a writer's block. Why? Because you were there and you can pull from your memory things you experienced from the first grade all the way to graduation.

If the suggestions above don't jar your memory, think of other things that happened when you were in school. It can be at any age. No one is going to see this but you so it is okay if you get carried away.

It won't be long, until the writer in you, is throwing words on paper as you relive those days.

Have fun!

September 16, 2021

Do I Use Nails or Do I Use Headlights?

Susan Reichert

D. H. Lawrence who was an English novelist, poet, and playwright among other things once 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.”

Many people have a slant on what D. H. meant with this quote, due to his type of writing, but only he can give us his exact thought, and that’s not going to happen as he has passed on.

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.” This one we definitely understand what he is saying.

One is giving you advice, don’t try to nail everything down and the other is telling you it’s okay if you don’t have everything nailed down, you’re still going to arrive.

Let’s 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’ve 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 of these are extremes. If your story requires research, be sure and do it. The book you are writing should dictate the amount of research you need. The outline, can either be a formal one or it can be notes made to yourself on the ‘who, why, where, when and how’. Maybe you are better picking the subject, or maybe the characters or a topic. 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 Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

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

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

Visit Susan at:,, , Amazon -

September 15, 2021

#! Best Selling Fiction Book



#1 Best Selling Fiction Book

A “gripping” (Entertainment Weekly) mystery about a woman who thinks she’s found the love of her life—until he disappears.

Have you read this book?

Laura Dave, author of The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

September 14, 2021

The Amazing World of Imagination

Adriana Girolami

In today's world filled with anxiety and everlasting challenges, there is a special place that we all can enter and find solace in, even during life's difficulties. It is comforting to know that we can always find a magic wand if we only reach for it in the realm of imagination.

This wonderful gift we are all blessed with is of particular value to storytellers and authors who express their creativity by the power of words. The beauty of imagination is defined by the freedom of thought and the avoidance of boundaries. It will take you any place you wish to go at any time since it stimulates creativity combined with the depths of inner feelings.

Writers tend to be complex and emotionally charged to a greater degree than most people. Therefore, storylines appear to come alive more frequently while confronting challenges that tap our emotions, whether happy or sad, such as exaltation, despair, etc. It is wise to let your imagination guide you in writing new and exciting novels. There is great satisfaction in expressing our innermost feelings and allow them to glide freely through our books' pages.

I experience great happiness when I enter my world of imagination. I consider it my special companion as I travel through that extraordinary place. It can happen as I sit by my computer in the solitude of my study or out in the great outdoors as I jog in my favorite park surrounded by trees and waterways glistening in the sun. Imagination can follow you anywhere, which is most rewarding, especially for an author.

My experience in writing my latest novel, The Zamindar's Bride, was fascinating and closely connected with the gift of imagination and how it guided my creativity in different directions.

At the time, I was busily writing, Daughter of Hades, with an exciting storyline already well defined in my mind. The novel follows my Knights Templar Series twenty years into the future. I was happy and excited about my newest literary project and looked forward to bringing it to a happy conclusion.

Coincidentally, a gentleman from India asked to become my FaceBook friend. The request was not unusual since many wish to be my friends online. I carefully looked through his Facebook page and his profile. He appeared well educated, intelligent, creative, and an all-around fascinating person from an exotic world that captivated my interest and imagination.

We began to communicate online, and he introduced himself as a Zamindar and the scion of a very distinguished family line. He also mentioned that he is the eleventh generation Zamindar of his dynasty. I was immediately curious and interested to learn more since I had no idea who a Zamindar was.

The gentleman proved to be an excellent teacher and explained in detail that they were powerful Feudal Lords and very wealthy landowners. Some even retained the title of Maharajas, and their statute flourished during the British occupation of India.

Being a Historical Author, I was immediately interested and captivated by this engaging, knowledgeable individual as he described the excesses and pitfalls of these fascinating aristocrats—the glamour of the gilded palaces and their exciting and decadent lives.

The Zamindars used to be autocrats, and their power was absolute over their underlings. Although they were married according to Hindu traditions, beautiful concubines were always available in the Zamindars harems. These captive women vied to be the favorite of those powerful Lords by using their sensual prowess. Intrigue and jealousy ferment in the courts, as those unfortunate females who aspired to a more affluent life sometimes became victims of their greed with deadly consequences.

In those days, women were entirely dependent on men's generosity since they had no means of support and were relegated to second-class citizenship. The cruel practice of Sati was at times implemented when their husband died. Many women were burned alive on the funeral pyre with their spouses since they were now expendable without the ability to self-sustain.

My imagination was now beginning to percolate, and a very exciting storyline was fast developing in my mind. I was captivated by the Zamindars and the fascinating perception of reincarnation since the Hindu religion believes in everlasting life. My creativity was now focused on this exciting new premise. My imagination had taken over, and I felt compelled to embrace this new storyline and interrupt writing, Daughter of Hades, at least for the moment.

Suddenly, The Zamindar's Bride was born, a passionate love story between a beautiful European countess and an Indian Zamindar. The novel opens the doors to the glamorous Royal courts of 19th Century Europe and the splendor of exotic India. There is love, mystery, violence, and intrigue in the novel until the surprising ending. Also, as a professional artist, I made the cover for the book.

Happily, my newest novel, The Zamindar's Bride, is the winner of the 2021 FIREBIRD award in three categories, Best Historical fiction, Best Romance, and Best Romantic suspense.

By embracing my imagination as it guided me in an unexpected direction, I am now delighted to be an Award-Winning Author. I am convinced that allowing your innermost feelings to guide you might be the recipe to create novels of exceptional quality.

Award-winning author Adriana Girolami. was born in Rome, Italy, and immigrated to the United States after her father’s untimely death. She attended the Art Students League in New York City, and as an accomplished portrait artist, she illustrates all the covers of her books.

She is the author of the historical romance series, The Templar Trilogy: Mysterious Templar, The Crimson Amulet, and Templar’s Redemption. Her latest offering is the award-winning novel The Zamindar’s Bride, which reflects her passion for different cultures, world travel, and the ever-present love and romance.

The author is presently writing Daughter of Hades, continuing The Knights Templars Series.

Adriana traveled extensively worldwide with her husband, loves physical fitness and Martial Arts. She plays racquetball and is a black belt in Kenpo Karate. A born optimist, she looks forward to a bright tomorrow and writing her exciting new novel.

September 13, 2021

A Counselor’s Perspective on Creating Character Driven Novels

Amanda Cox

When I create a cast of characters I always put on my counselor specs to

examine who this character really is, who they want to become, and what within them keeps them from their goal. And the biggest question of all, “why?” Then, I explore the details of the plot.

One of my favorite things about writing is that you can take two different characters on the same plot journey and get completely different stories. Why? Because if they are well-developed characters, they each will come with their own set of core motivations, desires, fears, and insecurities. The events of the plot will affect different characters in different ways.

A character predisposed to self-sacrifice to the point of derailing their own life will react very differently to a phone call from a sibling whose business is dying than a success-driven character on the brink of their big break. Not only that, the sibling’s role in their childhood can be a huge determining factor in how these characters might react.

Just like real people, the possibilities are endless. One plot and an infinite number of ways it could play out based on who the characters are and what they crave at their core.

When asked if I write character-driven or plot-driven novels, I can only shrug and say, “Character-driven, but both, I guess.”

The traditional definition of a character-driven novel is a novel focused more on character development than on the plot (action). I look at “character-driven” in another way. My characters direct my plot development. Because when you know your character on a unique, individual level, you know what would crush them, inspire them, and heal them. In other words, when you know who the characters are at their core, then you know what types of events to weave into your plot to move the story forward in an authentic and engaging way.

Five basic areas I explore to determine what plot events my characters need:

1. Family background- how would they describe their childhood?

2. Past experiences with love and acceptance- A time they felt most loved? A time they felt unloved?

3. Their life goals- Digging deep into why is this so important to them

4. Basic human needs- which would scare them the most to be without? Why?

5. Desire for change: If they could change one thing about their life what would it be? Outside of excuses, what is the real barrier in their change journey?

And when I get the answers to these questions, I keep digging, keep asking why, until I reach the core of who they are. And when I know what makes them tick, the real plot development begins.

What about you? Do you start with the plot and develop characters to fit? Or start with characters and craft the plot to fit? Another thing I love about writing: There is no wrong way to go about it! Happy Writing!

Amanda Cox is the author of The Edge of Belonging. A blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling, but her first love is communicating through story.

Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her husband and their three children. 

Learn more at

September 9, 2021

What was the Secret of the Dr. Seuss Books?


What made the Dr. Seuss books so wonderfully delightful?

Would you answer the writers brand of humor in his books? For it was definitely unique.

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is famous for several things, including being the first person to articulate an idea called “incongruity theory,” which postulates that people find things funny because they run counter to our expectations. The words in the Dr. Seuss books such as Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz took us by surprise and made us laugh. Who would have preconceived the word Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz?

How about his playful use of words? They were spontaneous and lived in the moment which is what children do. He caught the child in the words.

How about his outlandish characters? They were out of the ordinary and unexpected. Some you might even say were even bizarre.

It has been said that the nonsense rhymes and repetition combine to create sentences that just roll off the tongue in a satisfying rhythm which babies and young children love. Children learn words and laugh and come to enjoy reading.

Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel captured the imagination of children of all ages. And isn’t that what a writer wants? He brought a unique brand of fun and laughter, and not just for young children, but for all to enjoy with fun and whacky words and characters. We totally got out of our boxes as each one of his books came into being.

Perhaps we can all learn something from Geisel that would translate our everyday writing into a writing that captures the hearts of our readers.

September 8, 2021

Husband and Wife Writing Team

Rosemary & Larry Mild

How did the book/idea come about?

Death Rules the Night is the fourth in our Dan & Rivka mystery series. The Shermans bought The Olde Victorian Bookstore in Annapolis, Maryland, thinking it would be a fun, serene life. Instead, they’ve become reluctant sleuths embroiled in violence.

I conjure up all our plots, and for this book I created the prominent Atkins family and their eighteenth-century house in Annapolis. Copies of a tell-all book about the family have disappeared, not only from the bookstore, but from all local libraries, and even from the dead author’s bookshelves. The old house holds hair-raising secrets, but what are they? The three unhappy Atkins sisters don’t have a clue. Dan’s investigation leads to stalking, break-ins—and murder. Rivka fears for his life. I love history, so I invented scenes involving the Atkins family’s involvement in the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and Prohibition. I also included Lord Byron, the Shermans’ wily, heroic cat, who sleeps in the bookstore’s poetry stacks (where else?). He figures importantly in all four Dan & Rivka mysteries and our fans love him.

The ups and downs of writing—and writing together.

Rosemary: Mystery and suspense novels require tremendous concentration: intricate clues; characters that come alive; and convincing, logical solutions. Larry has a much longer attention span than I do, not only inventing our plots but also writing the first drafts. He can write for three straight hours—the only part of his body that’s moving is his fingers on the keyboard (which is one reason he’s in physical therapy). We’re the hare and the tortoise. I take his manuscript and tackle it as if carving a marble sculpture, molding flesh-and-blood characters, sharpening dialogue, adding scenes. I often find an appealing episode, a raw gem, but told in past tense, so I’ll turn it into real time for high suspense.

But what’s tough on Larry is my other creative life: I write personal essays. When Larry finishes his first draft, he hands it over to me. It’s hard for him to sit back and wait until I finish my current nonfiction project, especially my new collection, In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right. These essays are quirky observations on everyday life, ranging from the hilarious to the serious.

I love tackling my first draft of a novel or story. After writing a sketchy synopsis and doing research, if necessary, the words tumble out in a cascade. The tough part is making every facet of a plot “fit.” We always keep our promise to the reader. We never contrive or throw in a villain from left field just to create a surprise ending.

The great advantage to co-authoring is that you’re never working in a vacuum. After we finish our final draft, we read the book aloud to each other. It slows down the word rate to a point where the typos and errors literally jump out at us. It’s so necessary to hear what we wrote—what it sounds like. We might discover Clara walking into the room in a sequined gown and leaving in cut-off jeans. It’s during the reading process that our individual writing styles blend into a single seamless product.

Rosemary: Writing fiction with Larry, and seeing our books in print, is exhilarating. It’s our legacy. But that’s just the beginning. The real exhilaration comes from our fans like this one: “I just finished reading Honolulu Heat and had to email you to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how you continued from Cry Ohana and included places on Oahu.

Our “office” is our second bedroom. We write back-to-back on our dueling computers. When I tell my women friends about our office arrangement, they stare at me in disbelief: “How can you stand working in the same room? I'd go bats if I had to spend that much time with my husband.” A Baltimore Sun reporter once asked us: “How can any couple spend so much time together and not produce real-life mayhem?” It’s chemistry, for one thing. And Larry’s my soul mate. I’m convinced we knew each other in a previous life!

How the pandemic affected your writing?

Larry & Rosemary: In one sense, we’ve been lucky. Our writing is our “job.” We wake up every morning with our writing as the structure to our day. Of course, we’ve been fully vaccinated, and when we do go out for groceries or even have family members over, we religiously wear masks. But COVID has turned our writing world upside down. ZOOM meetings with speakers have replaced our monthly gatherings of Sisters in Crime/Hawaii and the National League of American Pen Women/Honolulu Branch. Hawaii Fiction Writers has canceled its meetings.

But the toughest thing for us has been the cancellation for two years now of our favorite in-person annual craft fairs, where we had excellent sales. At the Hawaii Holiday Gift & Craft Fair at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, we always took a booth for the 2-½ days. We also sorely miss the holiday craft fair at our synagogue. Here in Honolulu, sadly and scarily, there seems to be no end in sight to COVID.

Meanwhile, we keep at our work as a happy writing team, we’re thrilled with a recent review in the Seattle Book Review. “It is not often that a reader picks up a book and gets sucked into the story from the very beginning and held in a trance until the very end. Death Rules the Night is one of those books….”

Rosemary and Larry Mild, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery and thriller novels and short stories. Many of their wickedly entertaining stories appear in anthologies: Kissing Frogs and other Quirky Fairy Tales (2021); Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha; Mystery in Paradise: 13 Tales of Suspense; and Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. 

In 2013 the Milds waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland, and moved to Honolulu, Hawai‘i, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

Email the Milds at:

Visit them at:

September 7, 2021

#1 Amazon Bestselling Amish Romance Author

Releasing September 28

Before irrepressible eighty-somethings Anna and Felty Helmuth became Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s most-beloved matchmakers, they were mismatched young lovers facing seemingly impossible obstacles . . .

September 6, 2021

The Perfect Writing Space

Melody Carlson

After thirty plus years of writing nearly 300 books, and occupying more office spaces and writing studios than I can even recall, I’m planning for what I hope will be my final writing space. Not to be confused with my final resting place! I currently write in what I lovingly refer to as ‘the dungeon.’ Because we’re building a new home and living in a studio apartment, my office space is carved into what is actually a book storage room. Dark and dreary and not exactly inviting. So as our new home move-in date approaches, I’m considering how to arrange my new writing space. What do I really need?

Over the years I’ve amassed a lot of writing related ‘stuff’ that requires space. Stuff like bulky reference books, outdated electronic gadgets, obsolete filing systems, plentiful paper products, dust-collecting writing awards and so on. But how much of this do I really need? How much do I actually use? Like other parts of life, I’m in the less-is-more phase. In the same way I’d like to declutter my mind, I hope to declutter my office. I realize it won’t be easy, but the reward (I hope) will be a serene space that allows room for dreaming, imagining . . . breathing.

Because we’re all wired differently, our ‘perfect’ writing spaces should be different too. Some writers are inspired in a noisy Starbucks. Others seek the silent isolation found alone in a parked car. Some writers require a neat orderly space, others thrive amidst creative chaos. Some of us need windows, others prefer a blank wall. So the question is: What kind of space best fits your style and your needs? How do you like to work? What inspires you to create?

Not that we always have the luxury of occupying an ideal space. I remember early in my writing career when we were remodeling and the only niche available for my little writing desk was next to the refrigerator. It was summertime and my boys were big teenagers with big appetites. The distractions were ongoing, but it did keep me cool. I know other writers who’ve made do with kitchen tables, closet offices, back porches . . . even a woman who put her kids in shopping mall daycare then occupied a public bathroom stall with her laptop on her knees as she pounded out a book. There’ve been times when I wrote by my husband’s hospital bedside, or in a waiting room while my son got medical treatments. Basically I think a writer who wants to write can make any place work.

But as I plan for my new office, my goal is simplicity. An ergonomic writing chair. A generous desk space (which hopefully won’t get too cluttered). Bookshelves for my books. Some limited storage, which will be carefully used. A small bulletin board for reminders, some pleasing art and design touches. And most importantly, a comfortable chair for daydreaming—because the perfect writing space is really in my head

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over 200 books with sales of more than 7 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She and her husband live in central Oregon.

Learn more at


September 3, 2021

Top 3 Selling Cookbooks



These are listed as three of Amazon's top selling cookbooks.

The first one:

Joshua Weissman was the #1 Best Seller in Cooking Encyclopedias is an is your ideal kitchen companion.

The second:

The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Official Cookbook & Entertaining Guide Hardcover has  everything you need to plan the perfect party.

The third:

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook is for beginners to experts, vegetarians to carnivores, and anyone simply looking to eat healthier.

Have you tried recipes from any of these books? 

September 2, 2021

Do We Kill The Reader?

Susan Reichert

Have you had the opportunity to be in a group, and one person starts talking and talking and talking, and you just keep saying to yourself, “Lady, are you ever going to get to the point?” Through the years I have been in groups at experienced this. I confess my mind shuts her off and wanders.

Believe it or not, there are writers who write just like this. They just go on and on and on meandering all over the place until finally readers either close the book or start skipping ahead, page after page, trying to find where they can start reading again.

Ask that author what tight writing is, and they probably will tell you what they believe the definition is and also state that they write tight. The thing is, they don’t.

To me, tight writing is getting your reader immersed in the story, moving them along, turning the pages, become part of the story, seeing it unfold on the screen of their minds.

I like what Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip."

Reading a lot of books, I confess there are pages I skip over in books where the authors do not write tight. I am sure you’ve read books by an author or two who did not write tight.

The best advice I’ve heard on writing tight was from Dr. Seuss, “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

I believe that says it all!

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God's Prayer Power and Storms in Life; numberous magazine articles and nine anthologies. articles, and in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars,  and libraries.

She lives in Tennessee with her husband and grown children with families of their own.

September 1, 2021

She Writes Christian Fiction

"Writing Christian fiction has been a ministry and joy for me. My goal is that every book I write–whether it’s a historical novel for a series, a standalone contemporary novel, a novella or a nonfiction book–would entertain, educate, and encourage each reader in whatever way God sees fit. This is my mission field and passion." Tracie Petersen

Tracie is an award-winning, best-selling author of over 100 books. She said, "Having given my heart to Jesus at the young age of six, I always felt called to some form of ministry, and writing fulfills that mission field."

Coming in October 2021

Waiting on Love – Book 3 

    (Ladies of the Lake Series)