November 30, 2021

Nostalgic Moment with Linda Rettstatt on "My Little Hobby"



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Little Hobby - or – How Friends and Family Sometimes Viewed My Writing

By Linda Rettstatt

When I first began to write seriously, I found myself alone and wandering in a new world. I had no writer friends and was not connected to any writing group. I just decided one day to give way to this desire that would not go away—the desire to write a book. I doubt I even believed I could accomplish such a task or produce anything readable. But I had to do it. Setting those first words down was like shaking a bottle of champagne and popping the cork. The rest just flowed.

I finished my first book in about four months. It was roughly written and not ready for prime time reading. But once I’d finished the book, one of my friends asked what I planned to do with it. Since the few people with whom I’d shared this new venture thought of it as my new hobby, I was reluctant to have anyone read the book. But what good is a book if it isn’t read?

I printed out three copies and gave them to friends. I was stunned by their responses. All encouraged me to seek publication. Now I was truly lost. I had no idea what to do next. Then it came to me—I needed an agent. (Remember, I was new to this whole writing and getting published thing and very naive.) I bought a copy of The Writer’s Market and sent out about twenty queries to agents. Within days, I began to receive my stamped, self-addressed envelopes back containing form letter no thank you notes.

Someone suggested I talk to an acquaintance who recently published with a small press. Her advice was to find a critique group, do a few rewrites, and then submit to an independent e-publisher. Since she had been published and I wasn’t, I thought it wise to take her advice. When I did submit my book, I received a contract offer within a matter of weeks. I was on my way to moving from ‘writer’ to ‘author.’

But it took a while for some of my family members and friends to catch up with me and understand just what that meant. For quite a while (a few years, at least), many of them still viewed my writing as a ‘hobby’—much like knitting or coin collecting. It was frustrating. Here I was being taken seriously in the publishing arena, and those people closest to me still thought writing was a way to spend a few hours and unwind after work. My day job demanded four days a week. Writing, which I’d already acknowledged as a passion and something I could no more stop doing than I could cease to breathe, consumed the rest of my days. It was not uncommon to spend up to fourteen hours straight on a weekend in front of the laptop.

After years of struggling to be taken seriously as an author, I learned the key—take yourself seriously. Announce yourself as an author. Surround yourself with people who understand and support your efforts. Connect with other authors. Take pride (not arrogance, but honest pride) in your work.

I have twelve novels published to date and four more due for publication in the coming year. I think it’s safe to say, this is more than a hobby. Some might say it’s an obsession J. When someone recently likened my writing to a hobby, I said, “Writing a novel is like hand-knitting your family’s entire wardrobe.”

I think she got the point.

Writing, no matter how much one enjoys doing it, is hard work if you do it well. Truthfully, writing is more demanding and exacting than my day job. I’m not complaining, though. Most of my family and friends have gotten on-board now and know that my writing is not to be compared to doing paint-by-numbers for hours on end. (My father’s hobby at one time.) They respect my work and seem to realize what it demands. As with any true passion, writing gives back so much more than it takes. That, I think, is when you know it’s the one true thing you should follow.

When you find that one thing you are deeply passionate about, embrace it. Own it. And don’t let anyone discount it’s worth.

Linda Rettstatt began her writing career at the tender age of eighteen while working as a classified ad clerk for her hometown newspaper. She covered the local community theater stories no one else wanted to cover, and she did so with enthusiasm, insisting upon a by line. Rettstatt’s creative nature steered her into a career as a semi-professional folk musician for a number of years. Finally, in 2002, she sat at a computer determined to find out if she could write a novel. That novel and three more were contracted by a small press. She moved from small press publishing to self-publishing in 2014 and has forty-one novels and novellas and several short stories in her bibliography. Her most recent novel is Tattered Hearts: A Second Chance Romance. Her Christmas short novelette, Christmas Present, will publish on November 15.

In April of 2021, Linda retired from her social work position in NW Mississippi and relocated back to her home state of Pennsylvania where she continues to write and to offer services as an editor and writing coach.

She can be found on the web at www.authorlindarettstatt and on Facebook at

November 29, 2021

Suite T Nostalgic Moment with Stephanie Hurt on Balancing Full Time Job with Writing



Monday, November 18, 2013

How Do You Balance a Full Time Job and Writing?

By Stephanie Payne Hurt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie Hurt lives in Georgia with her husband Tommy and their son Hunter, along with two dogs, Daisy and Jake. When Stephanie is not lost in one of the worlds that she creates, she’s an accountant and children’s minister. She has been writing the stories that fill her mind since she was a teenager. The moment a story comes into her mind, she’s mesmerized and soon she’s diving into the story with a cup of hot green tea and a notebook. Before long, the story has bones and is ready for the laptop. She happily types away in the early morning and at night. You can always find her with a notebook full of stories that have yet to come to life. Follow her journey in each of her over 40 published works!

Stephanie Payne Hurt loves to hear from fans and hopes that she’s helped them go to another world for at least a while!

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November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!


The time of year has come where we shall
 gather with our families and friends and 
celebrate Thanksgiving. Most of all we will 
celebrate being with our families and friends.
Grateful for the blessings we have and have had all year.

Last year, families and friends were not able to come
 together because of the pandemic. For most of us 
we quietly celebrated wishing we could be with all
 those we loved.

But this year, we will be together. And it will be a 
true thanksgiving, not just for the things we have 
but for each other.

As we gather around the table, my family, one by one, 
will be sharing the things they are grateful for.
It is for certain no one will take being together to 
 celebrate Thanksgiving.

We want to wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2021

Nostalgic Moment with Irene Hannon




Friday, December 29, 2017

One Genre—or Two?

By Irene Hannon

I write in two genres—contemporary romance and romantic suspense—and I’m often asked how this came about and how I make it work. So, let’s talk about that for a few minutes.

My very first book was a romantic suspense novella—and it was really, really, really bad. (Sorry for all those adverbs, but they capture the badness!) One of the many reasons it was so bad is because I had no contacts in law enforcement (a serious problem if your main character is a police detective) and there was no internet. We’re talking the Dark Ages here.

Stymied, I decided to switch to contemporary romance. While most books in that genre do require some research, in general it’s less intense and technical than the kind needed for a heavy-duty suspense novel.

After writing three books, I connected with a publisher and was off and running in contemporary romance.

Or so I thought.

Problem was, after two of my three contracted books were published, the line I wrote for was discontinued.

I did connect with another publisher eventually…then another…and my career picked up momentum.

Twenty-six books later, I got the urge to try romantic suspense again. This time, I not only had contacts, I had the internet. Piece of cake, right?


My 26 mass market series romance books didn’t mean a thing to single-title, trade-paperback publishers—especially since I was an unknown in romantic suspense.

In the end, I did connect with a wonderful publisher, and now write both contemporary romance and romantic suspense for them under the same pen name.

I think this has worked well for me because my books share three common elements.

First, romance is central to all my novels. A reader who picks up an Irene Hannon book knows it will contain a central love story and that the ending will be happy.

Second, my focus in both genres is on my characters. I use the plot to deepen character development as well as to propel the story. As a result, my suspense books are not action/adventure novels, where characters’ lives hang in the balance on every page while shots fly, and bombs explode, and planes are hijacked. Instead, I build toward a suspenseful climax while delving deep into my characters’ minds (including the villain’s), taking readers along with me. Those who read my books know they’ll get an in-depth character dive in every story I write.

Third, all my books contain moments of mirth, deeply emotional scenes, and relatable heroes and heroines the reader can connect with and root for.

As a result of these common elements, I have many readers who enjoy my books in both genres.

That said, some of the suspense readers have dinged me in Amazon reviews because my contemporary romances weren’t to their taste. There are also some readers who enjoy my contemporary romances but find my suspense tales too scary. So, the crossover isn’t one hundred percent.

My publisher does differentiate between the two genres with two very different cover styles, and that helps readers make choices consistent with their tastes. It’s pretty obvious that Sandpiper Cove and Dangerous Illusions are not in the same genre!

Bottom line, writing in two genres has worked for me for the reasons outlined above. But if you’re thinking of writing, say, young adult dystopian fantasy and regency romance—different pseudonyms might be in order!

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including the long-running Hope Harbor series, as well as Point of Danger and the Code of Honor, Private Justice, and Men of Valor suspense series, among others.

Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, and she is a member of that organization’s elite Hall of Fame. Her many other awards include National Readers’ Choice, Daphne du Maurier, Retailers’ Choice, Booksellers’ Best, Carol, and Reviewers’ Choice from RT Book Reviews magazine, which also honored her with a Career Achievement Award for her entire body of work. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at

November 23, 2021

Writing Settings

Alexandra Stoddard, lifestyle author wrote, "When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go.” Obviously she was referring to real-life places. But remember, the same is true of fictional stories too.

What do you say a setting is for a novel?

Is it the town the story is in?

Is it the time of the story?

Is it the mood?

What about the social setting?

The cultural setting?

Do all of these count toward creating a setting?

If so, how?

What about the descriptions we need for these? Don't we need to paint vivid pictures of

sights? How about sounds? And smells? What other sensations do we need to create the


How many settings should a story have?

All of these questions are important when writing stories. How do you go about creating your settings?

November 22, 2021

Nostalgic Moment:Suite T - Mary Ellis on Time Management for Authors



Friday, November 15, 2013   

Time Management for Authors

By Mary Ellis

In my blissful, pre-published days, I erroneously believed that once an author received the coveted “call” and turned in a complete manuscript, she could relax and put her feet up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being published means honoring contracts in a timely fashion, along with a multitude of details. No longer was I squeezing time to “write a book” into my daily routine of tending home, family and day job. With each new release, the juggling act increases from three balls in the air, to four, five or even six. Let’s take a look at how five projects could potentially demand your attention simultaneously:

First, there’s the book you’re currently writing and editing, according to your publisher’s expectations for word count, sensual level, etc.

Secondly, the book you recently submitted is by no means done. A plethora of add-ons must be finished before the book heads to the printer, such as developmental edits, line edits, back cover copy, book cover and trailer suggestions, and blurbs or excerpts for catalogs and sales brochures.

Thirdly, if this was a series, chances are a book was recently released and requires promotion. Your title will either sink or swim during the first several, crucial months. An author must get the word out to readers through blog or radio interviews, website and newsletter giveaways, and book signings, along with social media. Otherwise, with so many fine books releasing each year, how will potential readers find yours?

Fourthly, an author needs to research the next book she intends to write, and that often involves travel or at least long hours spent in the library. Not everything on the internet can be trusted for accuracy, especially with historical fiction.

And finally, what happens when your current beloved series draws to a close? If you don’t wish to be out of a job, you must devise an irresistible proposal that your publisher simply cannot turn down. Publishing houses consider projects well in advance, so authors need to think far down the line too. Considering all this stress, hard work and long hours, you might conclude that I’m complaining. Nothing would be farther from the truth. I love being an author, and pray each night for God to make me a better juggler. Happy writing!

Mary Ellis is a former schoolteacher turned USA Today bestselling author who’s written twenty-six novels including Amish fiction, historical romance, and suspense. Her first mystery, Midnight on the Mississippi, was a finalist for the RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. Her latest series is the Bourbon Tour Mysteries from Severn House. Book two, One Hundred Proof Murder released August 3, 2021. Her latest Amish novella is Missing available on Amazon Kindle. She enjoys gardening and bicycling and lives in Ohio with her husband and dog. or

November 18, 2021

Suite T Nostalgic Moment: A Fine Line by Fay Lamb




Monday, November 21, 2016  

A Fine Line

By Fay Lamb

I didn’t plan it this way. The thought never occurred to me, but somehow the stories in my Amazing Grace series happened to be written by season. With the release of the third book, Everybody’s Broken, what better setting for what I call a modern-day Christian Gothic than the Western North Carolina Mountains in the fictional town of Amazing Grace in autumn? Add a character named Abracadabra (Abra for short) and give her a birthday of October 31, and everything is set for the book to cause an ember to spark divisiveness for a reader.

With all that in play, how could I, as a Christian writer, walk the thin line around, you know, Halloween, and avoid debate with my readers?

Fiction writers who stand so strongly on one side of the line or another on issues such as baptism versus immersion, grape juice versus wine, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, and Halloween are going to diminish the true message behind the story. When I wear my editor’s hat, I step in and ask an author how important those issues are. In most cases, we delete the matters that can cause dispute and nothing in the novel changes. All that is lost is the author’s intrusion into the story, which should be shown by the characters.

Sometimes, though, the issues or the events are important to the story. What does a writer do when that is the case?

With Everybody’s Broken, the message being conveyed is the ability of lies and deceit to shatter lives even when those lies are told with good intentions. Most of the novel takes place during the month of October. Writing the book without a mention of All Hallows Eve would feel stilted whether the reader is a Christian or a non-Christian. In this story, the avoidance of the issue would be counter-productive and distracting to the reader.

In such cases, a writer should draw a fine line and tread as carefully upon it as if it were a rope stretched over Niagara Falls. Tip a little too far to the right or to the left and debate will be sparked and the message lost. Balance is all-important. When the issues are unavoidable or truly necessary, the characters should be used to keep that balance. When two or more characters stand on different sides of the issue, the reader will connect with the one who supports their side of the debate. The reader will fill justified and not agitated.

In Everybody’s Broken I balance carefully. Although the life of each character has shaped his or her viewpoint about the event, the characters are not allowed to stand upon a soapbox. Instead, the actions, the thoughts, and the mentions of the event are subtle. In the end, October 31, the day, becomes more important than Halloween and brings a twist to the hero and heroine’s tale and what I hope the reader will think is a “perfect” last line.


Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.

Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ hearts. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction.

If you’d like to catch up with Fay, visit her at her website, on Amazon, Goodreads, and Twitter. Also, Fay has become a “novel” gardener, and she shares her adventure in her newsletter, Tales from the Azalea Garden. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

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November 17, 2021

A Thank You?

Susan Reichert

“When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author” Sherman Alexie.

Good advice? I think so. But I confess, I do not always take the time to do this.

I am sure there are others who have read good books, admired the writing, enjoyed the story, and made a mental note to let the author know. But life stepped in, and the thought forgotten. Another example of good intentions left undone.

Sherman Alexie was a poet, author, screenwriter, and filmmaker. I like to think he made this statement because he was pleased with his work and wanted to know if others were.

Aren’t we all like that though? Don’t we want to hear from others how they like our work? Even as a little child, we are that way. We proudly take that mud pie we made to show momma.

Being an adult now, I can picture my mother smiling as she looks down at my little hands holding up my mud pie, and somehow, she manages to not gasp at the mud all over my face, hands, and clothes. Instead, she brags on my pie

We all need accolades. I wish I had taken the time to let each author know how much I enjoyed their work.

We are fortunate in that we can let the author know how much we enjoy their work by leaving a review on their book.

I will try and do better and leave reviews for the books I read. I want the author to know I appreciate and enjoy their work. I hope you will 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:,, , Amazon -

November 16, 2021

Does One Thing Lead To Another?

Peggy Trotter

Have you ever heard the saying; one thing leads to another? Or watched a spin-off? That’s a bit how The Lowborn Lady came into existence. In fact, it’s the reason I have three books in a series. It started with my first book, Year of Jubilee. But those secondary characters weren’t ready to let the story…end.

One very reluctant character, the obnoxious, snobby one, kept tap-dancing in my head. I wasn’t happy making her such an unlikable character. Thoughts wound around in my head about why this person was who she was. What had happened to her to cause such a negative, selfish mindset? And what would it take to change her? And then my story-hungry brain began constructing ways for her to break through the loathsome personality, to redeem her. Give her a new life. So many people are searching for just such a thing, fanning a little flame of hope to start anew.

Hope is a lovely thing, isn’t it? It pushes all of us to believe the best, yearn for a happily-ever-after, and realize there really is no place like home. I wanted all this for Rhapsody, Rosemary in Year of Jubilee. I wanted to watch her character discover hope and leave pain and wretchedness behind…so, my series of three, The Misfit Bride, The Lowborn Lady, and The Spellbound Schoolmarm (releasing 6/1/22), actually began with this middle book, even though it is the second one. On a flight from Dallas to St. Louis years ago, I recall furiously tapping ideas on a tablet of Rhapsody’s misadventures to finding, not only hope and a new life, but true love.

Have you met Hope? I have. It burns in me still. Through my novels I strive to fan the flames of hope in all who read them. For hope is a fragile thing.

God takes the broken pieces, battered beyond repair.

And restores.

His comfort seeps in, filling, easing, mending, balming, loving,

Breathing in new life, new hope, new dreams.

And one day you awaken.

Fresh, renewed, filled with the knowledge that on your own, you can do nothing.

But with Christ, you can conquer the greatest ambition,

The greatest calling.

This little snippet of a poem of mine describes Rhapsody’s story so well. Perhaps it reflects your journey, too. If so, feed your hope, stay the course. If Rhapsody can wend her way to a hope eternal, so can we all.

When Peggy Trotter is not crafting or DIY-ing, she’s immersed in a story scene of some sort, always pushing toward that sigh-worthy, happily-ever-after ending. Two kids, two in-law kids, and four grandchildren are the delight of her life, as well as her Batman of 37 years whose cape is much worn from rescuing his wife from one predicament or another.

On a dusty shelf lies a couple of writing honors like the prestigious ACFW Genesis Award, Novella category, even though she writes full-length historical and contemporary Christian Fiction. Peggy flip-flops from historical to contemporary, but always inspirational. Ultimately, it’s about unforgettable, transforming, Ransomed-Ever-After Fiction. Incredible characters and storylines reveal God’s guiding providence and unending love

Always on a search to find one of her many pairs of glasses, Peggy’s a smoldering pot of determined discombobulation who, by the grace of God, occasionally pulls it together to appear in public as a normal, confident woman while privately craving a few hermit hours to woo the printed word.

The Lowborn Lady Blurb:

Rhapsody Hastings finds herself in the arms of a ruffian, Cavanaugh Blackledge, when her carriage breaks down on a dark country road. Wedding him stills the scandal of their late-night tryst while soothing the guilt she holds of her first husband’s untimely death. So, she accepts the arrangement as her own personal penance. Yet, an unexpected mission wakens her dead heart even though a high society lady shouldn’t be involved with such…dangerous illegal conspiracies.


Using his new marriage to shield his clandestine operations proves to be an unanticipated godsend for Cav. And how could he not appreciate the fetching Rhapsody’s presence, creating the perfect buffer when he must face his former true love, now his smug brother’s wife.


But their artificial life turns ugly when information surfaces, putting both Rhapsody’s and Cav’s covert efforts in jeopardy. Secrets reveal even more scandalous secrets, and the skeleton discovered in Rhapsody’s closet may not only undo her, but it may also make them both very dead.




November 15, 2021

Turning the Poem Over to the Poem

Sara M. Robinson

What is this, you say? I’m sure our novelist friends would agree that when they are in the thicket of their manuscript, they find that the book actually writes itself and the author is simply the tool who gets it down on paper. Sometimes the main character or characters take over and all we can do is let she or them do their thing.

This same thing can happen in poetry. Perhaps not so much in a short poem, but I can see it happening in a long narrative poem. Three modern poets who I follow have, I believe, provided poetry done this way: Natasha Trethewey, Rita Dove, and Lesley Wheeler. In fact, Lesley, also a personal friend, wrote a masterful book, The Receptionist, in terza rima (a rhyming verse form used by Dante). The reading community received a huge treat with brown girl dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. This marvelous example of brilliant narrative written as verse won the National Book Award. Using her childhood as inspiration, she let the poetry expand her story and draw us in.

So, how do we know when our poem is about to take us over? I’m not sure, but for me there is this kind of moment when I am writing that I realize I’ve put words down and was on some level not aware that I had done that. Maybe when we feel like our poetry is surprising us is when we know the poem has taken over. When I look back and re-read some pieces, and I ask myself, did I really write that, I must think that the poems had taken over.

When deeply engaged with a poem, I sit back and let my mind wander. In this state I may not be writing anything, but I’m letting go of my immediate ownership. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. When this does work, I sense the poem I’m working on has taken stock of me and what I am trying to say. Again, I stay tuned in to ensure my word choices work.

At last, we come to the fun part: The end or close. So, does the poem tell me when to stop or do I? In a previous Southern Writers’ Column, I discussed the close and how one knew when or how to close the poem. The decision, at this point, for me is take back the poem and decide how I want to end. The final contribution is bringing the poem to a natural and unforced conclusion.

The close may require several edits or revisions to get it right, for you.

With that, I’ll close for now. 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).

November 10, 2021

How Much Time Are You Willing To Spend Researching New Ways?

 Susan Reichert

This is a question every author should answer if they want to sell books. There is one thing that is always certain in life. Things change. Which means, how we sell books can change. So, it is important to stay up to date with anything new that comes into the market.

If you put in Google these words: How to research ways to market your books, many, many sites will pop up. (I normally do not go through more than the first three.)

One site particular site had these six listed things to do, and you had to click to receive the other five, of course, which took you to their website.

1. Share snippets of content from your book across social media.

2. Submit reviews on Amazon.

3. Add their reviews to Goodreads.

4. Share a book review on their YouTube channel.

5. Record a testimonial for your book.

6. Buy extra copies to give to their friends

There are many sites that can give you lots of advice, and most of them say the same things. Have no idea how many are good or not good. Even so, that does not mean we should not research the information and possibly try some of the things they suggest if it seems to fit for us. After all it takes hard work to find good ways to market our books and it does take a great deal of time. But worth it in the long run. Remember you must find not only the ways that work, but you need to also know the ways that don’t work.

I still like the old one, word of mouth. But I am not sure it is practiced much anymore. You know the one, where people told their friends about a book they read, and they recommended it. Maybe it is because every body is so busy today. To me, since we now use social medias, websites, and blogs, why don’t we tell our friends, using these venues, about the books we have read and recommend? Yes I know, we have Amazon to leave our reviews, and other places, but if we took the time to read the book and liked it, would we not want to share that with as many people as we could? After all, don't we want them to enjoy a book 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:,, , Amazon -

November 9, 2021

Nostalgic Moment: Writing Historical Versus Contemporary Romance by Eryn LaPlant

Nostalgic Moment

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writing Historical Versus Contemporary Romance

By Eryn LaPlant

Hello all, I'm Eryn LaPlant, author of historical romances, Beneath the Wall and The Blue Lute, and the contemporary romance Falling for Shock. In the past people have asked me what the difference is between writing historical versus contemporary romance. Usually I shrug and think, “don't know, there isn't a whole lot of difference”. Then I wondered why there isn’t a difference. I believe the answer lies in research.

The way I start any book is with an idea, from there my most favorite thing to do is the research that goes along with it. In Beneath the Wall, I had this idea about what would’ve happened to the little boy at the end of the musical, Miss Saigon? My own storyline came from that seed and before I knew it, I had a plot. But I didn't know a thing about the 1960s, the Vietnam War, or even what the country of Vietnam looked like. I dove into reading about the subject and submersed myself in the era. I dressed in things like military garb and peace beads, and tried using slang like, “far out, man!” in everyday language. It was silly, but it worked and some of the comments I received about the book were that the readers felt like they were actually there, living with the characters and not just reading about them. To me that is an awesome comment. It tells me I did my job right.

Another research tool that helps me is doing interviews. I am one of those extroverted people who loves meeting and talking with others. In fact, I would rather call someone up on the phone and ask an expert on a subject rather than read about it. One of the roughest times I had with using this tool was while I was writing The Blue Lute, a book half set in the 1920s. Not too many people are alive now from that era so instead, I focused on experts on buildings, clothes, cars, and the music of the 20s. It was more than amazing to hear the stories of those say from Family Jewels, vintage clothing in downtown Manhattan, New York, than to look at the pictures of old suits and dresses online. The pictures couldn’t tell me what a linen suit felt like or what it smelled like, and these experts could.

It’s the same with contemporary stories. Falling for Shock is a story about an actor who meets a small-town girl while making a superhero movie. I love superhero movies but have no clue how to make one. Luckily, I have a friend who was an actor in one and he helped me out a lot with terminology, set etiquette and protocol, and what specifically goes into making a man fly. In this case, watching a lot of behind-the-scenes of DVDs was also very helpful.

Overall, research can come in various ways, from the meticulous reading on a subject to meeting people who have been in the situation the writers are putting their characters into. All this helps me, and it can help others get into characters and become them, in a sense, and therefore making them sound like they weren’t simply cut and placed in the time period or scene. It makes these characters come alive and their books become special.


Eryn LaPlant grew up wishing she could have lived in the books she read, living through characters and their romantic adventures. Now she writes romances of her own to share with readers like you. When not writing, she spends her time with her loving husband; their handsome son; three corgis and a fiesta diva of a Pomeranian in the Land of Lincoln.



Instagram: @novelisterynlaplant

November 8, 2021

Suite T Nostalgic Moment: Remember the Meat Fork When Writing by Barbara Lohr


Nostalgic Moment

Friday, November 27, 2015

Remember the Meat Fork When Writing

By Barbara Lohr

One of the challenges writers face is how to keep readers turning the pages. The end of each chapter needs a provocative hook and for me, that's often added in the editing process. Some writers might automatically dribble enticing breadcrumbs. Not me. I must work at those final words for each chapter. Enter the meat fork.

Since my novel Finding Southern Comfort involves a little girl with an eating problem, some pivotal scenes involve food. In her new job as nanny in Cameron Bennett's Savannah mansion, Harper Kirkpatrick attempts to cook Sunday dinner for her employer and his girlfriend, the insufferable Kimmy. But smoke sends Harper flying to her crockpot. When her charge Bella asks if Harper is going to burn the house down, Kimmy comments, "She just might, sugga." Was that enough to make readers stay with the story? Harper helped me out and picked up the meat fork.

Every chapter benefits from a compelling ending. Suspense writers know all about that. The main character of Into the Roaring Fork by Jeff Howe is hiking through the wild on a mission when he stumbles upon a horrifyingly riveting sight. "I blinked to check my eyes, which confirmed that I was wide awake and what was happening was real. Hauntingly real."

Now, what reader is going to turn off the light and go to sleep? But the POV changes in the next chapter. We keep turning pages. After all, our hero is haunted.

He's in good company. Cecelia in Liane Moriarity's The Husband's Secret is sleepless after she discovers a sealed letter to be opened only after her husband's death. Awakened by his bumbling around in the attic after she's asked about her curious discovery, she promptly slits the letter open and reads, "Left to right. Sentence by sentence." But we don't. Readers have to wait. How annoying and delightfully skillful.

Withholding information piques interest. In The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins ends a scene in which Rachel wonders if a ginger-haired man is smiling or sneering at her. What great ambiguity. Also known as foreshadowing, the ambiguity raises a question we want answered. To keep your readers reading, it helps to keep them guessing.

Probably the last thing we want is have the character go to bed at the end of the chapter. Sure, we've all done it. But if your character's calling it a day, your reader might also turn out the light. Let's not put characters to bed unless they have an interesting dream sequence or something else to ponder while they're lying there.

Brevity can be as effective as the meat fork for keeping readers engaged. If your scene runs long, break it. Short chapters keep readers reading. They figure they can handle five more pages, but not fifteen.

Do you have a meat fork in your writing arsenal? Keep readers guessing and they'll keep turning pages.

Update 2021

Barbara Lohr writes romance and women’s fiction, often with a humorous touch. Her series include Windy City Romance, Man from Yesterday, Best Friends to Forever and Romancing the Royals. In addition to romance, her work often explores family relationships. She believes that no man or woman falls in love without family influence, for better or for worse. Dark chocolate is her favorite food group and she makes a mean popover. When she's not writing, she loves to bike, kayak or golf. Barbara lives in the South with her husband and a cat that claims he was Heathcliff in a former life. Visit her on Facebook at

November 5, 2021

How I Write through the Pandemonium

Elizabeth Goddard

I was talking to a dear writing friend today about the nonstop chaos and drama of life happening around us. We met at the beginning of our writing journeys about twenty years ago and have remained close. For the first ten years of our careers, we homeschooled several children as we wrote novels. Our kids are mostly grown now and so that should mean a quiet house and more time to write. That hasn’t happened for either of us. If anything, the noise has grown louder, turning into full-on chaos. I’m not talking distractions. I mean one crisis after another.

A lot of writers might give up or at least put writing aside for a season. Of course, there’s a season for everything and that could be the right choice. But some writers count on the income and have contracts, so they’re committed to meet their deadlines and can’t put writing aside until the quiet reigns again.

If life is throwing too many literal twists and turns at you, how do you find time to write, especially when creative minds can struggle if stress levels are high?

If you’re feeling crushed under the pressures of life, I encourage you to take a deep breath—for your own sanity—and put all the demands away. That’s right—store them away into separate boxes. I’ve found that the best way to carve out time and give myself peace of mind so creative juices can flow is to simply compartmentalize. I love that word. It makes me feel in control every time I think about it. I’m only one person and I can’t do it all or answer everyone’s demands—at least all at once.

Of course, I don’t put my tasks in literal boxes, but I make “to do” lists. I write everything down, and then pick a date or a week when I will focus on one specific task or satisfy a demand. For you as an author, the most important box is your writing box. You open that one every day. Write during the best time of day for you. For me it’s in the morning before the day gets noisy and more demands require compartmentalizing.

You’re not alone in your struggle to carve out writing time and space to think. Do an internet search on compartmentalizing to give ideas on how to live a stress-free life and still get it all done.

If I can do it, you can too.

Elizabeth Goddard is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty novels, including Present Danger and the Uncommon Justice series.
Her books have sold over one million copies. She is a Carol Award winner and a Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. When she's not writing, she loves spending time
with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. For more information about her books, visit her website at

November 4, 2021

Crosshairs 2021

Patricia Bradley

Last year, 2020, was one of the hardest writing years I’ve ever experienced. While many authors were able to pound out stories during our ‘stay-at-home’ period, I wasn’t one of them. My creativity shriveled up like a raisin. July came and went and I had less than 10,000 words written on Crosshairs, book 3 in my Natchez Trace Park Rangers series. It was due November 1.

I learned a few things during 2020 as I wrote Crosshairs. One, if I show up at the computer and make myself write, the words will come. Eventually. Two, I can’t edit what I don’t write. Three, this too shall pass—“And it came to pass” has long been a favorite Bible scripture.

It wasn’t like I didn’t love the story in Crosshairs, more that my mind was paralyzed. I found it easier to spend waste time on social media. Before I knew it, it was September and I only had two months to finish the book.

That’s when I learned the most important lesson—if I practice 1 and 2, the words will add up, ideas will come, and the story will come together, and I will have a completed manuscript and three becomes true.

Someone asked me what character was the hardest to write in Crosshairs. I’ll have to say Lincoln Steele was. As a former FBI sniper who suffered from PTSD from almost killing a child and who believed he was responsible for his friend’s suicide, it was hard to flesh out a hero who was no longer a hero—or who at least didn’t see himself as one since he could no longer even hold a gun. Yet, he had to be strong, someone Ainsley, the heroine, could trust. I discovered there are other ways to show strength in a character—like throwing himself in front of Ainsley to protect her. His willingness to do anything to keep her safe showed his true character, and eventually he came to embrace who he was.

As for Ainsley, she wasn’t a piece of cake to write, either. Stubborn. Strong-willed. She didn’t want to admit she had any faults. And she certainly didn’t want to forgive Linc and her father for undermining her singing career. But if she hadn’t lost the singing career, she would never have found her life’s work—that of an elite Investigative Services Branch Special Agent.

Researching about the Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers and the Investigative Services Branch (ISB) was fascinating. First the ISB—it has thirty-seven special agents who are regarded as the FBI of the National Park Service. They are spread out all over the US and are sent in when needed, sometimes even undercover. The Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers are separate from the National Park Service, although under the same umbrella. That really changed the way I wrote about them.

Linc is an interpretive ranger with the National Park Service in Natchez, while Ainsley is an ISB Special Agent. Interpretive rangers in the South don’t carry guns which worked well for Linc since I wanted him to be a ranger. Writing this series has changed the way I look at the National Park Service. I’ve always admired rangers, but even more now!

Writing Crosshairs, even during a pandemic, was so satisfying. I want to thank Revell for giving me that opportunity and for their support. I hope you enjoy Ainsley and Linc’s story.

Patricia Bradley is the author of Standoff and Obsession, as well as the Memphis Cold Case novels and Logan Point series. Bradley won an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award in Romantic Suspense, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and a
Touched by Love Award; she was a Carol Award finalist; and three of her books were included in anthologies that debuted on the USA Today bestseller list. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at

November 3, 2021

Suite T Nostalgic Moment: Southern Storytelling by T. I. Lowe


Suite T "Nostalgic Theme": Southern Storytelling by T. I. Lowe

Nostalgic Moment

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Southern Storytelling

By T. I. Lowe

I’m a serial storyteller and I can’t help myself. There’s probably a twelve-step program to help me out, but I want no part in it. Stories have long coursed through my southern veins, nagging me to create a world for them to thrive in. Those suckers just pop up in my head and I just have to share them. Really. I have to! I admit I’m completely addicted to doing so too. My fingers itch and my heart beckons until I give in and set the story free. My southern roots entwine meticulously throughout my stories with y’all, ain’t, and dang sneaking in when I’m not paying any attention. I adore taking my readers out to the cornfield for a game of hide-and-seek or down the humble country river to wrangle up some fish for frying. I can probably even talk you into taking a leisurely stroll down a cool dirt road barefooted while the crickets serenade us and the lightening bugs illuminate our paths at dusk.

Stories go way beyond a dance of southern words and settings though. Oh, yes. My words may sound simple, but simple they are not. Readers want someone to hate, someone to fall in love with, someone to mourn, and someone to root for to the very end. Readers need a story that’s going to lead them on an unpredictable roller coaster of emotions, both good and bad.

My stories want nothing more than to deliver all of this while being packaged in a charming southern setting full of twang. There are endless subjects that plead for us to explore and to provide a brave voice. Whether it’s abuse in its various detrimental forms, self-doubts that plague relentlessly, or tragedies that creep in and turn our worlds upside down before tearing it apart.

So, yes, I’m addicted to my southern stories and want nothing more than to give them the chance to ease their way into the readers’ heart and to open their eyes to a whole new world.


T. I. Lowe is an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories and is the author of nearly twenty published novels, including her debut, Lulu’s CafĂ©, a number one bestseller. She lives with her husband and family in coastal South Carolina.

Find her at or on Facebook (T.I.Lowe) , Instagram (tilowe), 
and Twitter (@TiLowe).