Friday, October 29, 2021

Building the Perfect Team



Natalie Walters





“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” -Phil Jackson

I’ve been “married to the Army” for twenty-five years and have witnessed my share of team dynamics throughout my husband’s career. Watching military members come together for a mission, military spouses united in supporting families, or the civilian community committed to encourage and provide for families who are separated by state lines and deployments, it has inspired me to build this dynamic into my own stories.

In my new book, Lights Out, creating my team for the SNAP Agency was one of best parts of writing this series. Here are some of the guidelines I follow when creating a team or community of characters withing a story:

Individuality: No two people are the same, so when creating your characters remember that their uniqueness is what’s going to make them shine and your scenes are that much better when you “force” them together. Whether they’re planning the next step to catch the villain or simply need to make a decision for dinner, every character should have an opinion…and opinions create tension. Speaking of tension—unique doesn’t always have to mean likeable. Nothing creates better tension in a story than awkward quirks that drive another character batty. Use those opportunities to show character development and up the tension throughout.

Commonality: What unites a team or community? Catching the bad guy and making the world a safer place or coming together to support the local shop owner, or church pastor, or single mom, the sharing of interests is what gives the team or community their best chance at success. However, don’t forget that even with a common interest, those unique personalities are going to bring added tension when they disagree—and they should disagree—making your readers worry, and that is the emotional investment you want.

Functionality: Whether it’s on a team or in the community, every character you bring on scene should have a purpose and I don’t just mean their external skillset. Is there a detail-oriented character who’s always pulling the reins on the impulsive character? Is there an encourager among the group that when things go badly, they’re the one who lifts the team’s spirits and reminds them to keep going? Each character should bring something to the story no one else does that can contribute in a functional way to develop the plot and the other characters.

No matter the genre, my favorite stories have a team or community who come together to support each other through the good, bad, and ugly. Similar to the experience I’ve had as a military spouse for nearly three decades, it’s a reminder of the best in humanity and that’s a story worth telling.



Natalie Walters is the author of Carol Award finalist Living Lies, as well as Deadly Deceit and Silent Shadows. A military wife, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and is a proud mom of three adult kiddos. She has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online.


She loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling.


Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past.


Learn more at www.nataliewalterswriter.com.

 

 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

We Are Less Than 60 Days Away!



We are on countdown for Christmas!
 Less than sixty days. 
 Now is a great time 
to start choosing 
great books
 for family and friends.
 Especially 
 Christmas books.

                      






     
     


   
                 
                               


                                             

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Building Contacts on Social Media



Susan Reichert



Social Media. We all use it. After all, social media is comprised of websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking, according to the dictionary.


For an author this is supposed to be very helpful. It lets us tell people about our books, entice people to like us and get to know us and hopefully buy our books.


While an author needs to tell people about their books, I do believe we need to be tasteful in the way we do it. We have seen from the Covid vaccine, some people do not like people pushing things on them. So, authors do not want to turn people off by pushing our books on them, nor do we want them to feel like we are.


Authors will want to use social media to build contacts. Telling people about our books and having them follow us is one thing, learning how to nurture those people to build relationships with them is another, one that is most important.


We all have people who like us. Do we pay attention to what is of interest to them?


Social media is an avenue used for communicating with others immediately and getting feedback right away.


We want these relationships that we develop on social media to have interest in staying in contact, seeing what is going on, and participating as much as they would like. The more they do, the more they will tell others about us and that will bring new people to our sites.


One thing I want to say here is, we should not get mixed up in political commentaries of hate. If we  have created this social media to tell people about our books and to build contacts we will not want that to be associated with anything that has a hint of anger, rebellion, or hatred. So, staying away from making comments on those things is most important.


It is very important to build a solid foundation with people we interact with on social media. We want them to feel good when they are communicating with us and reading what we are saying. This and finding out what their interest are will keep them coming back.


Years ago, I was taught that people do business with people they like. I believe that to be true even more so today. If you care about people, they will care about you.


Getting to know and care about others makes the world a better place.


Treating the person on social media the way we want to be treated will create a new relationship and follower and probably someone who not only will buy your books but tell their friends about you too.





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: https://www.susanlreichert.com/

https://twitter.com/swmeditorhttps://twitter.com/SouthrnAuthrSer

https://www.facebook.com/SusanLeeReichert, https://www.facebook.com/southernauthorservices, https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-reichert-55922a13/ , Amazon -

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54576850-god-s-prayer-powe

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Why Do I Teach About Contemporary Women Poets?



Sara M. Robinson



When I was in my second fall UVA-OLLI session I was asked this on the first day.


The easy answer is because I like so many of the contemporary women poets. But that’s too easy; and I’m skirting around the issue.


The issue is that women poets have not always received the recognition they’ve earned. I’m not sure I know why, but I can tell you that when I read bios of well-known women poets (i.e. Anne Sexton, Rae Armantrout, Maxine Kumin) I learned that most were influenced by well-known male poets (i.e. Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams). You get the drift.


In one source, I did learn that Gertrude Stein mentored Ernest Hemingway through her famous Paris writing salon. I read in scarce commentaries of the influence of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elizabeth Bishop; I do find comfort in that. However, it’s not enough for me. I want to see more of our spectacular women poets being cited and mentioned more frequently in journals and literary magazines.


Even anthologies need to step up and increase the exposure. For example, I used the 2nd edition (2003) of the Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry in the course I taught. This text contains seventy-five outstanding poets, but only twenty-two are women! Not even half!


In the Best of the Best of American Poetry (25th Anniversary Edition, 2013) there are one hundred poems, of which only thirty-eight are written by women. What gives? I could continue with my count, but again you get the picture. We have Pulitzer Prize winning women poets and yet one had to work pretty darn hard to find them in years past. And, by the way, out of ninety-one Pulitzer Prizes given for poetry, only twenty-five have been given to women. Having said that, to be fair, starting with 2010, all the poetry prizes have gone to women. So, maybe something is happening.


I try to do my part in getting the voices of women poets out there. I don’t buy into the line that there are not as many as men. They are out there all right. We shouldn’t have to dig with a backhoe to find them either. I want to see shelves filled with Tracey K. Smith, Jane Hirshfield, and Sharon Olds books, Lesley Wheeler and Charlotte Matthews, too. I want to see more community-based readings where the list is balanced between the men and women. I want to read more essays about the influence of women poets on our current literature.


While many of the general anthologies omit the presence, never mind neglecting the importance, of women poets, here are several books with women featured: Innovative Women Poets(2007), an anthology of contemporary women’s poetry and interviews; Fire on Her Tongue(2011), a ground-breaking eBook anthology of women’s poetry(1st electronic collection of poems by women who are writing to day!); When She Named Fire: AnAnthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women(2009),the mother lode: 461 poems by 96 American women poets.


Can I hear a call for more?

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).

Monday, October 25, 2021

Getting Ideas from Guilty Pleasures



Leslie Budewitz




I’m a big fan of advice columns in newspapers and magazines. Reading them is like eavesdropping on neighbors you haven’t met yet. The woman who tolerated her husband’s pandemic beard, even though she thinks it looks terrible, but now can’t get him to shave. The cousin of the bride who wonders how many showers she should be expected to attend, gift in hand. The man whose girlfriend has the temerity to ask to be paid for working in his business.



Advice columns provide terrific glimpses of both minor and major tensions in real people’s lives. They offer a window on how people talk and think, what they prioritize, the stories they tell themselves. They brim with potential conflict, the heart of story.



Some of the more substantive columns, like the Hax Files and Ask Amy in the Washington Post (syndicated in other newspapers across the country), portray situations that could easily support a main plot or crop up in a subplot involving work, friendships, or romantic relationships. I’ve learned a lot from writers and the responses, from both columnists and readers, about the shape of grief, and that’s helped me both in real life and in creating my characters, particularly the recent widow who is the main character of Bitterroot Lake, my suspense debut earlier this year. Anything that helps us understand people better is news we can use on and off the page.



Some show us how people attempt to resolve or prevent conflict. A recent letter in the Hax Files came from a mother whose teenage son had come out to the parents, who were firmly supportive of their child but needed advice on telling a grandparent who had made homophobic comments in the past. The kind, compassionate responses helped me think about how to better portray family conflicts, both those that resolve and those that don’t. A minor character in my Spice Shop mysteries is trans, and it’s been useful to read about the experiences of trans people and their families in thinking about her. We as authors need to know what shaped each of our characters, whether that backstory appears on the page or not.



As in real life, letter writers often want confirmation that their behavior is appropriate, even when it isn’t. Such an interesting dynamic—the ways we try to justify and explain our behavior, and yet, the desire to get a pat on the head from someone else reveals that maybe we don’t completely believe the story we’re trying to tell ourselves. Is there a character in your WIP who’s trying to do just that? As writers we’re often reminded that “no one is a villain in their own minds,” and that’s as true of the restaurant customer who deliberately leaves a mess on the table to get back at an annoying server as it is of the serial killer who targets blondes because his peroxide mother abused or neglected him.



Other columns provide terrific examples of microtension. Take that beard story. The wife had been proud of her husband’s looks and resents the loss of that point of pride, which seems to have been more important to her than his comfort or his pleasure in the opportunity to let his hair down. (Disclosure: Mr. Right grew a pandemic beard. I thought it was adorable, but I appreciated him asking if I’d mind if he shaved. I didn’t, of course. It’s his face.) Slip that into a marital relationship between two characters and watch the squirm factor rise.



Some—I’m thinking here of Date Lab, the Washington Post’s write-ups about blind matches its columnists set up—offer fun situations that could liven up a plot. If your characters are going on a date and you’ve been married since Jimmy Carter was president, it can be eye-opening to see what daters of all ages and orientations are thinking and how they respond to unexpected situations. Set up with an ex? Uh-oh! Or worse, your former boss. It happens. What happens next might just give you the perfect idea for a character pairing or a dialogue exchange.



And you might even use the column format to tell a story. Short story writer Barb Goffman’s award-winning “Dear Emily Etiquette,” originally published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, unfolds through a woman’s letters to a columnist and the replies. It’s hilarious and inventive.



“It’s a good thing it takes all kinds,” my mother used to say. “Because there are all kinds.” Writers are always on the hunt for more kinds of people and their troubles, and newspaper advice columns are a great way to find them.




Leslie Budewitz is a three-time Agatha Award winner and the best-selling author of the Spice Shop mysteries, set in Seattle, and the Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, inspired by Bigfork, Montana, where she lives. As Alicia Beckman, she writes moody suspense, making her debut with Bitterroot Lake in April 2021. Leslie is a national board member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.



Find out more about Leslie and her books at her website, www.LeslieBudewitz.com, where she also blogs for writers.

Friday, October 22, 2021

A New Book Series For Children "Misty the Cloud"



Suite T wanted to bring to our readers information about a new children's series.








TODAY Show co-host and meteorologist Dylan Dreyer launches a new picture book series featuring Misty—a little cloud with big feelings! Dylan combines her extensive weather knowledge with her experience as a mom in this very special social-emotional learning franchise. Preschool to 2.

When Misty the Cloud wakes up feeling stormy, nothing seems to make her day better! And Misty’s grumbly mood affects everyone when her big emotions cause a thunderstorm to rumble across the sky.

But with help from friends and family, Misty accepts that sometimes she’s just going to be a little stormy—and it will always pass.

From award-winning meteorologist Dylan Dreyer, Misty the Cloud: A Very Stormy Day is the first book in a sky-high series about how to deal with good days, bad days, and everything in between.



Thursday, October 21, 2021

Her Personal Story


Nancy Naigle


From USA Today Bestselling Author Nancy Naigle Comes a Personal Story of Lost Love and Found Healing through the Gifts of Friendship and Surprising Miracles



"From my experience came this novel of hope, THE SHELL COLLECTOR. It's my goal to help those who are going through or have grieved to find this book comforting and a reminder of all those little things that matter. For those yet to experience that type of loss, I hope this work of fiction nestles in their heart and in the back of their minds and when they need it ... this story will provide a roadmap to comfort and hope to help them navigate the journey more gracefully." ~ Nancy Naigle




Nancy's new book, The Shell Collector: On Whelk’s Island, mysterious inscribed shells are bringing peace and love to those who need them most, including widowed mother Amanda and heartbroken veteran Paul.



"The Shell Collector was inspired by my loss and a true-story of a friend of our family who once found shells with scriptures written in them on the beach. It's so very special to me. If you know someone that could use this kind of hope, please share it with them. It's an enjoyable heartfelt small town read. Yes, their is grief, but more importantly there is friendship, hope and trust." ~ Nancy Naigle




Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Attention Span of Readers?

Susan Reichert




Words are important. Advertisers know this. As writers, we know this too.

Our words need to grab attention, whether it is the title of our book, the title of our blog, the titles of a post, and our websites.

So, what is the human attention span now? You will be shocked to know it is now 8 seconds. Where did I get this? From Kevin McSpadden on a study from Microsoft Corp. https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/.

This study showed people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

According to researchers in Canada they surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.

I guess the question I have is, is our mobile revolution this important to let it take our attention span? What do you think?


According to the article our attention span is less than the attention of a goldfish. Frightening!


What then can a writer do to get and keep the attention of readers? The saving factor is our words and phrases must be powerful. The kind that grabs the reader and causes them to have interest to read further.

This is nothing new.

We all look at the headline first. If it interests us, we will read further. According to David Ogilvy, a British advertising tycoon said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. If you don’t get someone’s attention immediately, your entire landing page fails to reach its potential.” com

My curiosity got the better of me and I researched words and found this: Amanda McArthur, Research Director with Mequoda, said, “The word, “You”, is generally considered to be the most powerful single word, ranking right up there with free, new and save.”

Why are these words so important? Because they speak to human emotion and the emphasis is on them.

People in general will do something either because it makes them feel good or to avoid something painful.

Direct marketing legend, Herschell Gordon Lewis, says in The Art of Writing Copy, “Unless the reader regards himself as the target of your message, benefit can’t exist. Benefit demands a ‘We/You’ relationship.”

Here are a few of Mr. Lewis’ power words and phrases:

· right now

· surprise

· hot

· first time offered

· not sold in stores

· good only until [DATE]

· Don’t miss out

· I’ll look for your order

· Try it at our risk



Happy Writing!




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: https://www.susanlreichert.com/

https://twitter.com/swmeditorhttps://twitter.com/SouthrnAuthrSer

https://www.facebook.com/SusanLeeReichert, https://www.facebook.com/southernauthorservices, https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-reichert-55922a13/ , Amazon -

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54576850-god-s-prayer-power

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

What About Reading Poetry?



Sara 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 must pick what they do. Do you agree? I wonder if going to a reading would inspire more interest in reading poetry. But now we must 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).





Monday, October 18, 2021

Things I Learned the Hard Way So You Don’t Have To



Suzanne Woods Fisher




Small ponds are a great place to start. I volunteered a lot of time as a writer before I ever became published. One of my first writing assignments was to write a newsletter for a diaper service and, in exchange, I received free diapers. Yes, diapers. I had so much to learn. For example, one time, someone mentioned casually that my verb tenses weren’t lining up. She was right! (They’ve lined up ever since.)

Say yes to as many writing opportunities as you can. And seek out feedback on your work, guidance, suggestions, editing. It’ll reap endless benefits.


Rejection isn’t so bad, once you get used to it. Toughen up. Learning how to take criticism is part of the author gig. When my first book came out, it was reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly (which was good) and promptly skewered (which was bad). I thought my writing career was over, before it even began.

Here’s what I learned from that experience:

-Critics have a bias.

-Critics can be wrong. That book, The Choice, has sold over 200,000 copies.


You only get one chance to debut. Don’t blow it. Not long ago, I was asked to judge first pages at a Masters’ Writing Class. In about twenty-five entries, most had so many grammatical errors and typos in those first pages that they interfered with reading the story. So unnecessary! So fixable.


Oy yeh! I should have majored in marketing. Marketing and promotion are half my job. Literally, half. They are entirely different skill sets, yet just as important as the skills of writing a good book

The Twenty Mile March. You’re probably familiar with the story of the 1911 teams that set out to reach the South Pole. They were led by two experienced explorers: Norwegian named Roald Amundsen and Englishman named Robert Falcott Scott.

Both teams departed within days of each other. Amundsen committed to traveling no more than 20 miles per day regardless of conditions. Scott stopped when conditions were bad and made up for lost time when the weather improved.

Stop for a moment. Which team do you see yourself on? Most writers would jump to Scott’s team, preferring to wait until inspiration strikes before they finish that book.

Tragically, Scott and every member of his team perished, only eleven miles from a cache of food. Amundsen and his team made it to the South Pole first, and returned back again.

The 20 Mile March is a great illustration of how consistent, disciplined action wins out over waiting for conditions to be right—because they never will be. I have written three books a year for over a decade by hitting a word count every single day but Sunday. It works!

Set reasonable writing goals for yourself. And then stick to your plan. You’ll be amazed at what can happen when you do.




Carol award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels. She lives with her very big family in northern California.

Holding The Pieces of His Faith With Sorrow of Losing His Son Comes Born for Goodbye

t. s. bell





With both my son and faith in hand the reality that each may soon leave forever scared me. One would soon disappear as a result of tragedy, a simple and brutal turn of fate, while the other found itself being surrendered willingly. I was caught off guard by the swiftness of death, and the resilience of my anger. The passing of my son sent me on a journey of finding myself. As a pastor, husband, and grieving father, who I thought I was as a follower of Christ was now trapped in a pit dug with unanswered questions.

When I sat down to write Born for Goodbye, I had no idea what I was doing. Publishing a book was the farthest thing from my mind. Simply getting out of bed each morning after losing my son was challenging enough, let alone vocalizing my emotions. Typing out my thoughts and questions amid uncertainty of what the future held, all that I really wanted was to calm my racing mind. Beginning to work out my emotions through writing was my way of learning to walk through the darkest time of my life.

Life feeling so out of control had left me disinterested in standing on my faith and had driven me to try and process things on my own. As a follower of Christ, although I would not have admitted it, I felt exempt from suffering. Yes, I knew difficult times always came. However, when it really mattered, I believed that eleventh hour hail Mary pass was coming, but nothing came. With my faith ripped apart as our beautiful son arrived as a stillbirth, the grasp I felt I had on life now seemed meaningless.

My confidence in life had fallen to the ground and shattered. Picking up the pieces and trying to return to who I use to be stood futile. The glue that had held me together for so long was a romanticized view of what living as a Christian meant. My identity had been wrapped in expectations I had placed on God rather than a biblical grasp on who He is. I had always expected Him to intervene in my life in the way I thought was best as opposed to the way scripture teaches. I was looking for answers while the Lord was calling me to have faith. As the sun began to rise on this epiphany, I wondered what awaited me.

After working through the initial hoops of losing someone (hospital and funeral arrangements) there was a stillness to life that was deafening. Everyone who had rallied around my wife and I in support soon returned to their normal lives, and we stood in the past trying to hold onto the few memories we shared with our son. Feeling emotionally closed off to the rest of the world amidst my own grief I did not know how to start living again, or what that even looked like. However, I did choose to believe that there is purpose in everything, and I prayed that some way I might find it through this.

Sifting through my emotions I believed deeply that even in their rawness I may be able to find the purpose I had hoped for. Being naturally introverted I wanted to be intentional in communicating with my wife and make sure those lines did not go dormant. Writing a few sentences that turned into a few paragraphs, I started to show my wife what I had written. The right thing to say often failed to form on my tongue, but I prayed through my journaling she may see the journey I was on. I wanted her to know that my grief, although different than hers, was still present, and I wanted to walk this path with her. With an immense amount of support from my wife I started to find my voice in this tragedy.

Finding myself writing more into the night it dawned on me that my late-night journaling could carry a greater influence than I had originally hoped. As my thoughts poured out and the pages filled up my wife and I started to meet more people who had walked through similar loss to ours. Seeing hurt in so many eyes I wondered if somehow what I had written may at the very least let someone know they would not be lost forever in their grief.

Feeling lost, I believe, is what drove me to begin writing Born for Goodbye. Recognizing the deep sense of abandonment that settled within me made it easy to pour out my grievances yet exposed a greater issue within my heart. I had lost my son and struggled to keep my trust in Christ as questions of “why” overflowed within me. While writing I had chronicled the shattered heart of a father who simply wanted to hold his son again and simultaneously revealed a needed reckoning of my faith.

My words of grief became reflections of faith amidst a darkness I wish I had never known. With each broken emotion I would write I began to see the Lord not waiting on the other side for me but walking with me through it. I never knew that Christ was all I needed until He was all I had. My faith did not give me a free “bypass hardship” card, but it did mean that my savior would be with me through it all. In experiencing my grief and seeing my savior I found the purpose in my pain, and finally what I had journaled made sense.

Born for Goodbye: My Reflections on Faith Through Grief is a firsthand account of tragedy and a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Written from a broken heart and the rawness of loss it examples the very struggle that Christ promises to be faithful through. A friend to the broken hearted, peace where peace should not exist, He is. The late Corrie Ten Boom said it best. “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”



T.S. Bell (Tim) lives in the Raleigh, NC area with his wife and three children. He has worked as a pastor for a number of years in both student ministry and associate roles and studied Theology at Southeastern University. Born for Goodbye is his first book. He loves spending time outdoors, great restaurants, and of course, writing.

Facebook  www.facebook.com/timothybell

Instagram  @_tsbell

Blog          tsbell511.wixsite.com/website 

Amazon    Born for Goodbye: Bell, T.S.: 9798585031397: Amazon.com: Books      

 




















Thursday, October 14, 2021

Getting Ready For New Publication

Deborah Sprinkle




Deborah Sprinkle's  book Death Of An Imposter was released in 2020.

About a rookie detective Bernadette Santos and her first murder case. Will her desire for justice end up breaking her heart? Or worse—get her killed!


DiAnn Mills, Christy Award Winner, said, "Deborah Sprinkle has masterfully created a rollercoaster ride. Destination: to end a murder spree."

     Don't miss her new book in the series, Trouble Valley, Silence Can Be Deadly.

                                            

COMING


                                                           NOVEMBER 2021

                            Deborah Sprinkle's new book, Silence Can Be Deadly!

And here is a post Deborah wrote for Suite T in October, 2019 giving writers advice

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Have You Used Advice In Writing?



Susan Reichert




Sometimes it may be easy for us to forget that writing is a craft, and as with any craft, it takes practice, work, and study, particularly if we want to be good.

We are fortunate that we have successful authors who were willing to pass down to us not only good advice, but also important information that would help guide our writing paths.

It always helps me when I am needing a boost in my own writing to go back and look at some of these pieces of nuggets left to us from those who went before and succeeded.

One of my favorite quotes that brings me into the reality of writing is by Benjamin Franklin. He said, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." This quote helps me realize we all have something to say. If you look back over your life or families lives, you will find something to write about that is worthwhile.

Another piece of advice I have always appreciated, as I am sure many writers will, is what Saul Bellows said, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." For those who are not familiar with his work, he his best known for Henderson the Rain King and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1976 as well as the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976. There have been times I get up during the night, and words will flow to the pages. And when I go back the next day and read them, I don’t have to change anything. I am sure you have experienced this too.

I guess if I had to choose my most favorite quote it would be what Robert Frost said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." As writers when we go back and read that first draft, if it does not stir emotions in us, we can bet our readers will not feel any emotions either. To me this is a sure sign I need to rethink what I am writing. I may need to change some of the story, or I may need to throw it in the trash and start over.


William Faulkner said, "Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window." This is truly good advice. Over the years I have heard my people who are putting their words to paper, hoping someday to be published tell me, “I don’t like to read.” Or here is one I have heard a lot, “I don’t have time to read.” To me reading books is like going to college to get your master’s degree in creative writing. I get to see what worked for each author; how they used dialogues; handle their settings, developed their characters; created the magic of causing their readers to turn the page. Plus was entertained along the way.


Margaret Atwood said it best, "A word after a word after a word is power."




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: https://www.susanlreichert.com/

https://twitter.com/swmeditorhttps://twitter.com/SouthrnAuthrSer

https://www.facebook.com/SusanLeeReichert, https://www.facebook.com/southernauthorservices, https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-reichert-55922a13/ , Amazon -

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54576850-god-s-prayer-power

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Creating Her Own Special Branding



Betsy St. Amant




If you’re an author (or even an avid reader), you have probably heard of the term “branding”. Publishers, editors, and agents want authors to “brand” themselves, which essentially means doing something consistently and giving your readers what they expect.

For example, Colleen Coble writes amazing suspense stories. Sometimes historical, sometimes contemporary, but you can always trust you’re going to get a suspenseful tale with dash of romance and a well-plotted mystery. Or think about Francine Rivers. You know when you open her novels that you’re going to get a story with rich biblical themes and a powerful message of love. Other names, like Frank Peretti, Jaime Jo Wright, and Ted Dekker—well, you know it’s best to shut the curtains and hide under a blanket while you read their work! We would never expect Francine Rivers to write horror novels, or Ted Dekker to whip out an Amish women’s fiction, right? That’s branding.

Over the course of the last several years, I’ve somehow gotten myself branded with bakeries! This is a tad hilarious because I really don’t cook or bake well. (My middle-school daughter, on the other hand, is a genius in the kitchen!) It all started with my 2014 novel All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, where a cupcake baker is trapped making the same boring flavors day in and day out. It’s a friends-to-more romance that heats up when the heroine’s best guy friend enrolls her in a national baking reality show. This was followed by a novella called Love Takes the Cake. In that one, a wedding cake chef who is “always the baker, never the bride” falls for the best man at a wedding she’s catering.

After that, I wrote the The Key To Love, which features a romantic pastry chef named Bri who manages a Parisian bakery in a tiny town in Kansas. The bakery goes viral for their matchmaking schemes, and Bri is stuck having to impress a scorned travel writer, Gerard, in order to save her dreams. That story includes plenty of macarons and petit fours, and I might have gained a few pounds while writing it!

So, when I first started brainstorming the next book in my contract with Revell, I wanted to get out of my (bakery) box a little, but still give my readers what they expected—a fun romance, with humor and deep characterization and yummy snacks. My editor pointed out there never seemed to be any food trucks in Christian fiction, and I was immediately intrigued. Here was a way to step outside the kitchen and do something fresh! I was so excited to get started.


But writing Tacos for Two in the middle of a world-wide pandemic was exciting in a much-different-than-expected kind of way. All my grand plans of touring a local food truck and getting the inside scoop on the ins and outs of the mobile food industry disintegrated faster than you could say “cheese”. (Or COVID-19!)

For me, Tacos for Two is an achievement over and above my other novels. This book took so much more focus and effort. It was hard, honestly. And not because I didn’t love the story, but rather, because writing under duress is a game-changer. There was anxiety and fear over the state of the world in general that I was constantly battling with prayer and Scriptures. There was homeschooling a fourth grader and a seventh grader for the first time, all while working a day job from home and attempting to meet my novel deadline. (I haven’t even mentioned my devotional-writing and freelance editing side-gigs!)

Top all those pressures off with an extensive revision letter from my editor, during an already emotionally volatile time, and well—it’s a wonder I didn’t collapse. I remember getting the revision suggestions from my editor and riding that initial wave of feeling massively overwhelmed. Then, I took a deep breath and reminded myself of something that had proven true during former hard moments in life: “take one step at a time”. I trusted the book would be all the better for the extra work. (And it was—my editor is brilliant!) I simply had to dive in, one line at a time, and shape the book into what it needed to be. Just like I was learning with everything else in a pandemic world—looking too far ahead brought anxiety but looking at the very next thing that needed to be done brought peace and accomplishment.

In hindsight, I think Tacos for Two contains all the emotions that were poured into it. (Along with the extra cilantro!) Humor (because hey, if I didn’t laugh, I would cry, right?), my character’s deep need for connection (via an online dating app), fear of things changing (along with the fear of them never changing!), high stakes (you’ll have to read to see!), pressure under deadline (the food truck cook-off!) and of course, romance.

While there were definitely a few times I wished I had the house to myself, I was very grateful at the end of each day to have my family, quarantined or not. There was a time in my life where it would have been just me—a single mom—and my young daughter figuring things out alone in that unknown season. But because of God’s grace, I made it through the pandemic and my deadline with the support of a loving husband—who thankfully didn’t seem to mind a lot of leftovers and unvacuumed carpets!

I think Jude and Rory, the hero and heroine of Tacos for Two, are highly relatable characters for readers during this unprecedented time we’re all still figuring out. They, too, had to navigate uncertainty, anxieties, unknown futures, and pressures they would have never chosen. Along the way, they discover truths about themselves, create some delicious cuisine (and burn a few things!), and learn important lessons about forgiveness, second chances… and that sometimes love really does begin in the kitchen!




Betsy St. Amant is the author of more than fifteen inspirational romances, including The Key to Love, and a frequent contributor to iBelieve.com. She lives in north Louisiana with her husband, two daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of pickle-flavored Pringles. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white chocolate mocha—no whip. Learn more at www.betsystamant.com.


Monday, October 11, 2021

The Largeness of Love Stories



Angela Ruth Strong





I’d just sold my first book, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, when my first husband left me. I had to write the romance novel as my own marriage fell apart. After that, I didn’t want to write romances anymore. They seemed like fairytales. I didn’t feel lovable. There didn’t seem to be any healthy single men in the world anyway. And I had trouble believing happily ever after could exist.



After I met Mr. Strong, and love changed my life, I wanted to write romance again, but I wanted to write the kind that educates women on healthy relationships. I am now sharing what I’ve learned about marriage in a fun and entertaining way so my readers can make better decisions than I’d once made.


While healing from my own heartbreak, I read about the seven heart issues that destroy relationships: selfishness, pride, anger, jealousy, laziness, fear, and the evil heart. Author Leslie Vernick compares heart issues to a bottle of water that looks clear until it’s shaken, and that’s when the sediment on the bottom rises up and makes everything icky. In the same way, when our lives our shaken up, the ickyness in our hearts arise even though we’d appeared pure in heart before. I decided to write characters dealing with specific heart issues.


In my latest romantic comedy, Husband Auditions, I wrote a lazy (but lovable) hero named Kai. You don’t see many lazy heroes in Christian fiction, but you do see them in real life. And I know many women struggle with loving a man who won’t put in the effort to love her back.


So I countered Kai’s laziness with Meri’s fear. While Kai doesn’t want to get married because it will take too much work on his part, Meri is afraid of never getting married. So what happens when they fall in love?


The lesson they both learn through Husband Auditions will pertain to anyone no matter what kind of heart issue you deal with. And the lesson is this: Don’t choose bad love over no love at all.


In a healthy relationship, we can’t take shortcuts. We can’t step into the other person’s darkness just to be together. We have to value ourselves and value them enough to want what’s best for them. So we choose to step into the light, inviting the other person to join us and knowing that if they don’t (and we lose that relationship), we are still worth loving.


The flip side is true, as well. When someone sets a boundary with us, we shouldn’t take that as rejection and walk away. We value them enough to acknowledge our flaws, learn from our mistakes, and work toward reconciliation.


In my life, that looked like my first husband having multiple affairs then saying, “The only way I see our marriage working is if we move to a new town.” I wanted to keep my marriage, and I didn’t mind moving, but I didn’t think a move could be what saved us. Had we moved, I would have been isolated from support, and his adulterous past would have been kept a secret. It would have been stepping into darkness. So I responded, “I’m only moving if God tells me to move.” Which was not the answer he wanted to hear.


Later I thought, I could have saved my marriage if I’d moved. But what kind of marriage would I have been saving? Would that have been the healthiest thing for either of us? Would it have lasted, or would it have been laying sod over toxic waste?


No. I stayed in the light. I was willing to work on our relationship, but I wasn’t willing to do his work for him.


This is a hard lesson to learn. And it hurts on both sides. But hurt is different from harm. It’s like the chemotherapy I went through last year. It hurt, but it killed the breast cancer that would have harmed me.


So, whether you are currently in a struggling relationship or looking for the right person to commit to, my advice comes from the words of Jesus in The Message translation of Matthew 19:12 that I also quoted in Husband Auditions. If you are capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.


Husband Auditions is not your typical rom-com. Yes, it’s romantic, and yes, it’s funny. But some readers hated the ending. I’m okay with that though because I know it’s exactly what other readers needed.


And perhaps it’s not a romance at all. Perhaps it’s a love story where God is the hero. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll write you all a sequel.

Friday, October 8, 2021

New Fiction Releases for October


 

John Grisham The Judge's List:The Whistler Book 2 (releases October 19)
Nonstop suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author: Investigator Lacy Stoltz follows the trail of a serial killer, and closes in on a shocking suspect—a sitting judge.



Danielle Steel      The Butler (released October 5)
Two different worlds and two very different lives collide in Paris in this captivating novel by Danielle Steel.



Kat Martin       The Last Goodnight (releases October 26)
With the first in a brand new, high-octane romantic thriller series, New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin stirs up a hornet's next of lies, adultery and murder as a betrayed husband and a private detective investigate his estranged wife's disappearance.






Karen Kingsbury     Forgiving Paris (releases October 26)
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of life-changing fiction returns with a wise and worldly novel of forgiveness and hope in the City of Lights.




Lee Child/Andrew Child    Better Off Dead: A Jack Reacher Novel (releases October 26)
Jack Reacher is back in a brand-new page-turning thriller from acclaimed #1 bestselling authors Lee Child and Andrew Child.


Stuart Woods  Foul Play:A Stone Barrington Novel (Releases October 5)In the latest action-packed thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods, Stone Barrington faces down a persistent rival.



What do four out of these six new releases have in common?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Fresh Start



Darlene L.Turner





Every writer loves to type “THE END” on their latest work-in-progress, but that dreaded flashing cursor on a blank “Chapter One” page sends tremors down our spines. Can I get an Amen? However, starting a new manuscript doesn’t have to be daunting. Authors can make it fun. How, you ask? Here’s an overview of my writing process.

Storyline – Before I get too deep into my process, I brainstorm with my author friends on the basic storyline. I determine the main plot, hero and heroine conflicts, and ask that famous “What if” question.

Character sketches – I have to admit, building the characters is my favorite part of the writing process. I love to delve deep into their pasts and find out exactly WHO they are. To do this, I choose their names—first and last. It’s important to me to get it correct. Sometimes I ask for suggestions on social media or browse through an online list of baby names. After I’ve named them, I choose an actor and actress I picture my hero and heroine to look like. I’m all about the visual! Next up—grilling them with a list of questions. What’s their worst fear? Favorite vacation spot? Coffee or tea lover? What happened to them when they were five years old…and the list goes on. This all helps me build their backstory.

Research – After the main storyline is chosen, I create a list of what I need to research. That can be anything from law enforcement duties to medical issues to the town I’m trying to create. It’s important to get the facts straight. Yes, this is fiction, but we still need to keep it believable.

Outline or Not to Outline (that is indeed the question!) – This will depend on whether the writer is a plotter or pantser. When writing for Love Inspired Suspense, you have to include a synopsis, so that is this pantser’s extent of outlining. ;-)

First line – Move that cursor and begin Chapter One. Most writers struggle with that dreaded first line and will probably re-write it ten times. Why? Because they know a reader will either be hooked and buy their book, or put it down. We don’t want readers to set the book back on the shelf, do we?

Write, write, write – Now that I’ve gotten past that first line and paragraph, it’s time to take my hero and heroine on an action-packed adventure filled with switchbacks, surprises, and twists they don’t see coming. To keep me on my deadline track, I add in Scrivener (my writing tool) my end word count and the date I want to finish my draft. Scrivener calculates my word count daily, depending on how much I write on that day. I write until it’s time to type “The End.” After this, the fun begins.

Editing – Most writers have a love-hate relationship with editing. I’m no different. Once I finish the first draft, I print out the entire manuscript and let it sit for a few days. After a break, I read and mark it up with—yes, you guessed it—a red (or maybe pink!) pen. I take many editing passes during this process. First is the storyline—are there any holes that need to be plugged? Then I add in more emotion, search on words I know I repeat too much, then the last pass is through a tool called ProWritingAid. I print the story out again and use the “Speech” option in Scrivener to do another read-through.

Beta Readers – After I’m happy with my story, I send it to a few readers to get their thoughts. They check for typos, story holes, etc. After they’re done, I do another editing pass and read-through before sending to my editor.

I’m almost ready to hit “Send” on book five for Love Inspired Suspense (#feelingblessed). After I do, I’m looking forward to a fresh start on the next manuscript.


Writing full time is a dream come true for me. While the process can be terrifying, I love what I do—creating inspiring stories.



Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning and best-selling author. She lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. 

You can connect with Darlene at www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders.

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