January 31, 2022

Jennifer Deibel: The Lady of Galway Manor

                                 Jennifer Deibel

When I was a child, you could always find me immersed in some make-believe world—typically involving a castle, a princess, a prince, and a wedding. Ok, there was always a castle, princess, prince, and wedding…but the details were never the same. So, I guess you could say that I’ve always been captivated by story. Though I didn’t get bitten by the reading bug until early adulthood, I think I have always been a writer. I would spend hours writing in my journal, pouring out my hopes, dreams, and deepest darkest secrets. It was only a matter of time before it morphed into characters on a page. And all throughout high school and college, I continued to write, and relished any creative writing assignment given. But I didn’t start writing publicly until much, much later, when I applied to be a regular contributor for a parenting blog that was starting up. At that time, I was about a quarter of the way through writing what would eventually (a decade later) become my debut novel.

I love the whole process of writing, and it intrigues me that—much like my own children—characters can all be so different and take on personalities of their own. In fact, when I first started writing my current project, someone asked me how it was going. I said, “Well, it’s a little slow. I don’t really know my main character yet.” And I just had to laugh. I mean, how in the world can I not know a character that I am making up? Don’t writers just…pick a name and start writing? Goodness, no. And the more stories I write, the more I’m learning starting each new story is like starting a new friendship. It takes time, commitment, and effort. And you can’t truly know what a character is going to do or say until you take the time to really get to know them—their hopes and dreams, their motivations, their history, and the lies the believe. And just like real life budding friendships, sometimes it’s an instant connection, and others it’s a slog through painful small-talk and niceties.

Thankfully, when it came to writing The Lady of Galway Manor, getting to know Annabeth, Stephen, Seamus, and the rest of the gang was a delight. Oh, they gave me a run for my money, don’t get me wrong. But they each were so full of nuggets of truth, laughable missteps, and relatable flaws that I couldn’t wait to get back into their world and find out what happens next. And I hope you’ll get to know them, too.

When Annabeth’s father is given lordship over county Galway in 1920, it seems to be both a blessing and a curse. The move gives her a window of escape from one hellish situation, but then locks her into a different one—being a British lady in Ireland at the start of the Irish War for Independence.

Stephen Jennings is also looking for an escape, and instead finds himself shackled to a British lass who fancies herself God’s gift to Éireann.

Bored without all the trappings of the British Court, Annabeth convinces her father to arrange an apprenticeship for her with the Jennings family–descendants of the creator of the famed Claddagh Ring.

Stephen longs to do anything other than run his family’s jewelry shop. Having had his heart broken, he no longer believes in love and is weary of peddling the lies the Claddagh Ring promises.

Meanwhile, as the war for Irish independence gains strength, many locals resent Annabeth’s family and decide to take things into their own hands to display their displeasure. As events take a dangerous turn for Annabeth and her family, she and Stephen begin to see that perhaps the “other side” isn’t quite as barbaric and uncultured as they’d been led to believe–and that the bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty are only made stronger when put through the refiner’s fire.

The idea for this story has been rolling around in my brain for years. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it came to me but having lived in Galway and been to the actual Claddagh Jewelers and walked the streets of the Claddagh area of Galway city certainly inspired it.

On the surface it may seem like your typical British versus Irish story, but it goes so much deeper than that. It explores the ideas and beliefs we each hold dear and examines what happens when natural enemies are thrust together in a seemingly impossible situation.

When I started writing The Lady of Galway Manor, the world was a much different place than it is now. None of the things which now are fighting to divide us had happened. And yet, as history shows us, the ugliness we are seeing in ourselves today has been there, under the surface, far longer than any of us realize…or perhaps longer than we are willing to admit.

The author of Ecclesiastes was right when he said that there is nothing new under the sun. The battles we are fighting today have been fought for thousands of years. And if we look, there are lessons hidden for us. But more than that, there is hope. Shining gems of miracles, reconciliation, forgiveness, and renewal. And that is what The Lady of Galway Manor explores, and we get to take journey with them.

Jennifer Deibel is the author of A Dance in Donegal. Her work has appeared on

(in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and in other publications.

After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her

husband and their three children. 

You can find her online at

January 28, 2022

Book Picks and Suggested Reading


The Maid: A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

:Anthem: epic literary thriller set where America is right now, in which a band of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest to save one innocent life—and might end up saving us all.

Reminders of Him: A troubled young mother yearns for a shot at redemption in this heartbreaking yet hopeful story

Searching for Home:  Can three little matchmakers lasso a cowboy father?

Medical Mystery:: The heart problem was hard to solve initially, the subsequent difficulty turned out to be murder, and affected the lives of both Diane and Joe.

Looking for LeRoy: Melody Carlson invites you on a trip to rediscover the carefree days of youth and, just maybe, to get a second chance at love.

The Road An Author Travels

                                  Amanda Cabot

Do you ever wonder what roads an author traveled on the way to her current release? For me, it’s been a long and winding road. I hadn’t expected this post to have a musical theme, but as I keyed those words, the Beatles’ song popped into my brain, the melody and snippets of the lyrics lingering even though I tried to banish them. And when I Googled the full lyrics, I realized how appropriate much of what Paul McCartney wrote was to my writing journey.

It’s definitely been a long road, because I’ve been writing since I was seven. I’m not going to tell you when that was, but I will admit that my first attempts were less than stellar. What do you expect from a seven-year-old who’s trying to write a mystery? The best I can say about those stories is that they helped fuel my never-ending fascination with the written word. Fortunately, as the years passed, my storytelling improved.

There’s no doubt that the road has been winding. As a child, my writing goals changed from fiction to journalism, with a brief interlude writing plays for my fifth-grade class to perform. Imagine the costumes we had for “All About Thermometers”! College and marriage to my high school sweetheart led me along a different path into a career in Information Technology, but even though it wasn’t at the forefront, I never completely abandoned my goal of being a published author. McCartney was right when he wrote about being led back. Something kept bringing me back to writing, although it took me years to discover exactly what that something was. What was it? I’ll tell you at the end of this post.

By the time I was an adult, my focus was clear. I wanted to be a novelist. And, since I’m a goal-oriented person, I set myself a goal of selling my first novel before my thirtieth birthday. When I tell you that I met that goal, you might think the road had stopped winding. Not so.

Selling my second book was much more difficult than the first, and so, while I was collecting an impressive number of rejection letters, I began writing articles for IT journals. I also wrote five books as writer-for-hire before I sold my second manuscript. Even then, the road wasn’t straight. My first books were short contemporary romances for the secular market, and although I continued writing them, a love of historicals led me to write a number of those. The final turn came when a dear friend’s death from leukemia sent my writing in a direction I’d never considered: inspirationals. It was only then that the road stopped winding, because I’d finally found my true calling as a writer.

The long and winding road isn’t the only parallel between the Beatles’ song and my life. McCartney’s words about being alone resonate with me, since although it takes a team to publish a book, writing itself is a solitary task. And while it can be rewarding, it’s also difficult work. Let’s start with the rewarding part. I’m not talking about royalties, although they provide a tangible reward. For me, the true reward is knowing that my stories have touched readers’ hearts. Nothing can compare to having a reader say, “Your story helped me through a difficult part of my life.”

The hardest part of writing, at least for me, is creating characters whose goals and challenges are different from the others I’ve created. And that leads me to The Spark of Love. It’s the third and final book in the Mesquite Springs series and, in many respects, it was the most difficult. Part of the reason is that I have two villains, and while they have similar objectives, I needed to ensure that readers saw them as distinctly different. No doubt about it: that was a challenge, but the biggest challenge was Alexandra, my heroine.

Alexandra is an heiress from New York. When you read that, you may have formed an image of a pampered, possibly spoiled woman whose fortune is her main attraction. While it’s true that some men covet her inheritance, Alexandra would forfeit every penny if it brought her what she most wants in life: her father’s love. And so, when an unwanted suitor threatens her, she flees to Mesquite Springs, the town in the Texas Hill Country where her father is building a hotel.

Their reunion is far from what she’d expected, but no matter what Papa says, she’s determined to stay and establish both a relationship with him and a new life for herself. That’s not as easy as Alexandra would have hoped, because her father seems to be hiding things from her. To make matters worse, two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her. Furthermore, Gabe, the charming man she met on the stagecoach, is an investigator searching for a con man … her father.

It’s a complex book but one that I hope will linger in readers’ memories long after the last page is turned.

Now for the answer I promised you. What was it that kept me traveling the long and winding road, which kept bringing me back to writing? There were times early in my career when I was so discouraged by the seemingly endless stream of rejections that I tried to stop writing. Notice the word “tried.” The hiatus lasted a month or two until I realized there was a huge empty hole inside me that only writing would fill, and so I’d start another story.

It was years later that I learned why I was always being led back to writing. That day the keynote speaker at a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference challenged attendees to answer one question: Is writing what you do or who you are? It was a classic lightbulb moment for me, and all the pieces to the puzzle fell into place. Writing is who I am. It always has been. It always will be.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of Out of the Embers and Dreams Rekindled, as
well as the Cimarron Creek Trilogy and the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and
Westward Winds series. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the
HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

 Learn more at

January 27, 2022

Nostaglic Moment with Lin Stepp


Friday, January 22, 2016

You’ve Written a Book – What Next?

By Dr. Lin Stepp

The calls, emails, and questions I get most often as an author are from new writers who say, “I’ve just finished a book. What do I do now to get it published?” Most hope to be traditionally published—versus self-publishing their book—so I’m addressing my blog response to these writers.

Dear new author …

I am so excited you’ve finished your first book and I know you are eager to find a publishing home for it. As requested, here are my tips to help you in your journey to find a publisher:

(1) First, be sure your book is the best it can be; it’s “your product” and it is your responsibility to prepare and package it in the best way possible. New writers often don’t have enough experience to recognize inherent problems that could keep their work from getting a contract. Like parents with a new baby, they see their creation as beautiful, perfect, and without flaw. But, unfortunately, like any “first effort,” it needs a lot of work. … So a writer’s first job is to self-edit their book extensively using a thorough guidebook like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, and then to pay a qualified editor to read and provide further help before submission.

(2) Once the product is “professionally polished and edited,” the next step is to find an agent or a publisher. An agent helps an author find a publisher and negotiate publishing contracts. Books such as The Writer’s Market provide listings of reputable agents as well as reputable publishers. Many large publishing giants will not accept direct queries from authors without an agent, but many publishers will. There are no “credentialing associations” for agents or publishers, as for attorneys or CPAs, so a new writer must carefully research either for credibility, checking authors they represent and associations they belong to. Authors must also be legally watchful about contracts they sign with either. A website called “Preditors and Editors” can help, as there are many predators willing to take advantage of eager, excited, and inexperienced authors. Be wary and “run” from any agent or publisher who wants money from you to handle your work.

(3) Once a reputable offer comes in from a publisher—directly or via an agent—have a publishing attorney review any contract before signing it. I have heard enough heart-breaking stories of contracts signed in haste to wisely council any new author to be extremely careful of any and all contracts. They are easy to sign but not easy to get out of.

(4) When you are “pitching” your book to an agent or publisher, be aware that you’re creating a marketing pitch for your product. Study the guidelines for creating good query letters, and read the guidelines each agent or publisher provides regarding submissions—and adhere to them rigidly. Be aware that not only is an author pitching their book “for sale” … they are pitching themselves as an author. The question is not simply: Why should an agent or publisher be interested in your book?... but Why should they be interested in you as an author? What qualifies you to write your book? What educational and work background could be an asset as an author? How long did it take you to write your book and how quickly can an agent or publisher expect to see another in follow-up? Agents and publishers want to put their time and money behind “producers.”

Finally, what plans can you present to an agent or publisher as to how you will help market and promote your product? A whole new career begins for an author after a contract is signed and you need to be ready to discuss your proposed part in it. An excellent help book in this area is Chuck Sambuchino’s Create Your Writer Platform.

As you can see from these four tips, it takes a lot of work to find a publisher for a book. It is naïve to assume the job is done when the book is finished. The reality is that getting a book ready to present to an agent or a publisher requires extensive study, research, and effort. If an author is unwilling to study, research, and work in the stages prior to publication, they are unlikely to gain a publisher or to be successful if they do. A popular quote suggests: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”

However, if you’re up for the climb, the view is great from the top.

Dr. Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, a businesswoman, and an educator. She is a past faculty member at Tusculum College where she taught research and a wide variety of psychology and counseling courses for 20 years. Her business background includes over 25 years in marketing, sales, production art, and regional publishing. She has editorial and writing experience in regional magazines and in the academic field.

Lin Stepp has twelve published novels each set in different locations around the Smoky Mountains. Her first five novels were published by an imprint of John F. Blair Publishing of Winston Salem, North Carolina. These novels included The Foster Girls (2009), Tell Me About Orchard Hollow (2010), For Six Good Reasons (2011), Delia’s Place (2012), and Second Hand Rose (2013). Five subsequent novels were published by Kensington Publishing, New York, including Down by the River (June 2014), Makin’ Miracles (January 2015), Saving Laurel Springs (October 2015) and Welcome Back (March 2016) as well as a short novella A Smoky Mountain Gift included in the 2014 Christmas anthology, featuring Fern Michaels, and titled When the Snow Falls.

Continuing books, published by Mountain Hill Press, include Daddy’s Girl (2017), Lost Inheritance (2018), The Interlude (2019), Happy Valley (2020), Downsizing (2021) and three titles in a coastal series Claire at Edisto (2019), Return To Edisto (2020) and Edisto Song (2021). Lin Stepp and her husband J.L. also write regional guidebooks, including a Smokies hiking guide titled The Afternoon Hiker (2014), a guide to all the 56 Tennessee state parks called Discovering Tennessee State Parks (2018) and state parks guide to South Carolina parks Exploring South Carolina State Parks (2021).

January 26, 2022

Perfection or Progress, We Choose!

                               Susan Reichert

Perfection is said to be the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects. (Dictionary)

Mel Swartz L.C.S.W in Psychology Today, 2008,said, “The desire to be perfect burdens many people and ironically dooms them to unhappiness.”

This I have found to be true. I believe we need to work at being our very best, but perhaps we could let go of the picture of being perfect in every way, whether it be looks, smarts, writing, or life.

Deep Patel in Forbes, Jun 16, 2017, said, “Too often, people mistake progress for perfection. They spend more time staring at the weeds than they do assessing the forest. They get lost in the details instead of asking whether their work is moving them in the right direction. And most of all, they are confused about the meaning of “done.”

Vince Lombardi was head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Coach Lombardi led the team to three NFL championships and to victories in Super Bowls I and II (1967 and 1968). He is considered one of the great coaches of all time. Because of his success, he became a national symbol of single-minded determination to win. He said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Michael J. Fox, is an accomplished actor who in 1998 publicly disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease seven years earlier. Fox subsequently became an advocate for finding a cure and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 to help fund research. retired from acting in 2020 due to his declining health. Mr. Fox said, “Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God's business.”

Perhaps as we look at their definitions of perfection, we might readjust our view of this culprit that so many times prevents some from beginning and some from finishing.

It can be that way in our lives in every  aspects. For writers perfection can prevent us from achieving our dream of writing that book that plays scenes in our minds.

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 -

January 25, 2022

Barbara Latta Talks About Reading Another Author's Book

                                      Barbara Latta

My reading choices include a variety of genres. In non-fiction I read Bible studies and Christian living books. When I find a book that can apply to more than one area of my life, I am particularly intrigued. A resource of this nature is one that will remain on my shelf and be re-read and highlighted for future reference.

When I read Destination Hope, A Travel Companion for When Life Falls Apart by Marilyn Nutter and April White, I knew I had found a publication I could rely on frequently.

As I read the stories in Destination Hope, I saw a correlation between navigating the hurdles of our human pain with the barriers we face as writers.

Wordcraft is difficult. The population of non-writers may read a book and think the author sat down and penned the words on the page in a matter of hours. They are not aware of the frustration, rewrites, editing, and explosions of “this will never work” a writer endures.

Marilyn Nutter and April White captured how the challenges of life are answered by the anchor of hope. We need this foundation to hold on to as much in journalistic endeavors as we do in everyday living.

One chapter of Destination Hope discusses triggers. Emotional pain can overwhelm us when a tragic memory surfaces.

What triggers the obstacles to our flow of speech? A past rejection or bad critique? Not winning a contest?

How do we manage these roadblocks? The key is to focus on the reason we live and the reason we write.

Struggles in our personal relationships can hinder our ability to communicate. But when we depend on the power of God and refuse to give up is when we reach a successful pinnacle. And success in verbal expression may not mean a contract or award. Success is when we reach our writing goal and push forward through the doubts and insecurities.

Another chapter discussed soulish detours—those things that blindside us and make us feel as if we have no options. A scribe’s mission is paved with detours and changes. If we allow these transitions in direction to guide us past an event we perceive as a failure, perhaps God is using this detour to redirect us to another adventure. It could be a different idea for an article or devotion, a new critique partner, or guidance toward a publisher.

All these obstacles are overcome by the starting pistol of hope. We hear the burst and take off because we have a goal. In our physical and emotional existence, we want to heal from illness, grief, and disappointment.

In writing we also want to overcome grief and disappointment while we complete an assignment. Expectancy is the catalyst that pushes us forward past the potholes and dangerous curves of rejection, anger, and hurt.

Destination Hope is one book that meets the criteria of what I search for in a non-fiction book—great advice I can refer to over and over. In this case optimism for life and vision for my writing journey.

Barbara Latta is the author of God’s Maps, Stories of Inspiration and Direction for Motorcycle Riders. She has contributed to several anthologies and writes for online magazines and devotional websites. Her column, “Navigating Life’s Curves,” appears monthly in the Pike Journal-Reporter in Zebulon, Georgia and is modeled after her blog by the same name. Barbara and her husband enjoy riding motorcycles, visiting historic sites and spending time with family. They are the parents of two grown sons, two spoiled dogs and are enjoying their one and only granddaughter.

January 24, 2022

Joy in the Mourning


                                 Tricia Pimental


At some point you have probably prepared a tribute: a birthday or a wedding toast, a speech at someone’s retirement, or perhaps a eulogy. Such an exercise not only honors the subject but can be a blessing to the one who crafts it, as it requires introspection, sifting through memories, and thoughtful assessment of the past.


One afternoon in late 2019, our canine companion of almost fourteen years went to sleep and never woke up. The loss was unexpected, a shock that sent me to a cardiologist, where I discovered it is indeed possible to a literally suffer a broken heart.


My husband, Keith, and I and our pup, Carson, were a well-traveled trio. “The Great Carsoni” had accompanied us on journeys all around the United States and Europe. While we were still grieving, the pandemic descended on the world, and our trips came to an immediate halt. I was scheduled to speak in the States, as I did twice each year, at an International Living conference about overseas retirement. I had come out of my own retirement to join the working force again, signing a contract with them as their Portugal Correspondent. On those junkets I always visited my daughters and grandchildren in California, regardless of where I was speaking. Not in 2020. Conferences went virtual.   


With the multitude of changes in my work situation and after much deliberation, I resigned from my position. Working at IL, I had a calendar full of due dates for articles, videos, Facebook posts, fillers, and more. I had managed to write some poetry and flash fiction, and a few short stories, but my personal writing life was neglected. Suddenly free from a demanding schedule, it was time to reassess.


After I retired from a longtime job in 2011, I wrote three books, all for different reasons. My first was published that year, a spiritual memoir titled Rabbit Trail: How a Former Playboy Bunny Found Her Way. In that book I shared my story of how I came out of false religions and New Age practices and became a Christian. The following year brought Slippery Slopes, born of a fast, fun, romp with National Novel Writing Month. (If you haven’t ever taken the NaNoWriMo challenge, I highly recommend it. I broke—at least for a while—the pesky habit of editing every word I type as it appears on my screen.) A Movable Marriage, its title inspired by A Moveable Feast, was my second memoir, published in 2016.

I wasn’t ready to tackle another full-length book, but at the close of 2020, after the anniversary of Carson’s passing, I wrote an essay about him. A few months later the Florida Writers Association was open for submissions for their Royal Palm Literary Award Competition. I entered “Joy in the Mourning” in the short nonfiction category.


We all know the feeling once a project has been completed. What next? The answer to that question came easily, growing naturally out of what I had just written.


My husband and I are avid photographers and put our cameras and phones to good use while exploring much of the world. Typical dog lovers, we featured Carson in many photos. In my essay I had portrayed him as the savvy traveler he was and regretted not being able to accompany “Joy” with pictures, as I had my memoirs.


And that’s how the concept of a pictorial calendar was born.


Unfortunately, an online search for information about designing and self-publishing a wall calendar was disappointing. Units would have to be priced at about $25 apiece, a cost I considered prohibitive for successful marketing.


I had used CreateSpace for my first books, and its new incarnation, Kindle Direct Publishing, for my third. But investigating the possibilities there, I learned that I could not create a calendar through their services. Undaunted, I moved on to a datebook/calendar, filling it with all the features I would want in a such a book. “The Great Carsoni Maltese 18-month (January 2022 through June 2023) Planner Calendar” included a personal message from me to the reader as well as my essay, which had gone on to become a finalist in the RPLA competition. I wrote playful captions for the eighteen monthly photos featuring Carson in locations from Roswell, New Mexico to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I researched quotes applicable to each month, from famous folks like Shakespeare and Steinbeck to British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. Her quote graces the February 2023 page: “There is always in February some one day, at least, when one smells the yet distant, but surely coming summer.” I have always loved Moleskins, so I made a hardcover format available.


I never dreamed when I sat down to record special memories of a very special little guy that my work would morph into what it has. It’s been a journey of learning and love, of surprise and sadness, and of accomplishment. I encourage you to look closely at your work, to “think outside of the page” and reinvent your creations. The possibilities are endless.

Five-time Royal Palm Literary Award recipient Tricia Pimental has lived overseas since 2012. Born in Brooklyn, Tricia is a former actress and Toastmaster. In addition to short stories, poetry, and flash fiction, she has written three award-winning books: A Movable Marriage, Slippery Slopes, and Rabbit Trail: How a Former Playboy Bunny Found Her Way.

Other writing credits include two travel books for International Living, when serving as their Portugal Correspondent: The Old-World Charms of Portugal and Escape to Portugal, and a 14-part video series entitled Portugal 101.

Tricia and her husband traded sunny Portugal for snowy Sweden a year ago.

January 21, 2022

Visiting A Cemetery Finds a Story or Two


Susan Reichert

There are many cemeteries that are historic in every state, and I dare say most date back before the state became a state.

So why am I writing about cemeteries? Well, to let you know, (in case you don’t) there are many stories that would fill volumes of books in each one of them.

You don’t have to be a relative to find the stories. But I dare say, as an author you would find a great many stories to write about.

Look at historic Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, TN. Established in about 1852, it was one of the first rural garden cemeteries in the South. A funeral scene in Paramount’s 1993 legal thriller (book written by John Grisham) The Firm was filmed in this cemetery.

Can you imagine the stories that can be created using this cemetery as a setting? Even as a character?

Beneath ancient elms, oaks, and magnolia trees you will find the famous and infamous, those who were loved and feared. You will find veterans of every American war, including the Revolutionary War. There are generals, governors, mayors and madams, side-by-side.

All you need do is choose a character, do your research, decide your plot, and begin your story.

As you walk through these cemeteries, you will find your mind reacting to the places. Perhaps characters will pop into your head, and they will begin leading you to write their stories. No doubt, you may wind up with many stories to write.

Laura Bullion, female Old West outlaw is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Memphis, TN. In this cemetery there are many musicians buried here.

The American Cemetery in Louisiana’s claim to fame claim to fame is that it’s where Julia Robert’s character was buried in the 1989 film, Steel Magnolias.

Authors obviously find it interesting to include cemeteries in their stories and the movie producers shoot the cemeteries in their films.

I even wrote a short story for an anthology book and set it in a cemetery.

Look around your towns, what do you have that is very old, and has a history to it? Do your research, and in the process, you too may just find “your Elmwood” full of stories. Who knows, you might just find your next series waiting for you there.

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:,, , Amazon -

January 20, 2022

NOSTALGIC MOMENT with John J. Zelenski 2018


  January 31, 2018

When One Door Closes, Don’t Jump Through The First Window

As many in the publishing world may be aware, Tate Publishing & Enterprises ceased operations several months ago and left many authors, including myself, angry, hurt, and confused. Many questions immediately surfaced such as rights to ownership, back payment of royalties, and of course the huge decision on how and where to republish our works. Slowly and painfully, questions were answered and the last one that remained was ultimately the most important to me.

How do I get my books back into the marketplace?

As authors in today’s world, we have more choices than ever on how to publish (or republish) our works and perhaps that creates a problem in and of itself– choices. CreateSpace and a number of indie publishing platforms are readily available for those who have the time, patience, and tech savvy to tackle self-publishing. You remain in complete control of your works and all money is yours to keep from sales. Then there is traditional publishing -the high and lofty Holy Grail for most authors. The credibility and respect that comes from being accepted by a traditional press is certainly something to be proud of and can potentially open many doors to possibilities that self-publishing cannot.

Speaking for myself, I chose to search out a traditional publisher that could bring my books back to market, that would allow me to remain in control of rights and give me the personal attention that I felt my books deserved. I believe I have found such a company with my new publisher Peasantry Press. Their team is a talented group of people and very receptive to my thoughts and insights concerning the uniqueness of my novels.

But what about you? Should you find yourself in a similar situation, my best advice to give would be to step back and allow some time. Time first of all to heal – the anger, bitterness, and other negative feelings that can block a sound decision. Immediately jumping into another bad situation can bring you back to exactly the same ugly spot down the road, or worse yet, cause you to lose your rights to your works. Whether you chose the self-publishing model or choose to seek out a traditional publisher, there should never be a need to sign anything on a whim, especially without some prayerful thought and consideration to how these choices may affect you five or ten years down the road.

In the world of publishing, as many can attest to, time can be our biggest nemesis…. or sometimes it can be our greatest ally. Take your time, find the publisher that works best for your needs, and remember to close that drafty window of impulsion.

Born in beautiful Northeastern, Pennsylvania, John was raised in a strict Christian home where “the fear of the Lord” was taught and put into practice daily. It was a different type of fear however, which proved to be the catapult that started John on the road to the supernatural.

When John and his family moved to their new home in 1977, a series of strange and otherworldly events followed their arrival. Only after two ministers performed a cleansing in each of the rooms of the home, did the paranormal activities cease. Having seen firsthand that there is more to life than meets the physical eye, John started a lifelong journey of research and dedication toward understanding the supernatural. John states, “The supernatural is usually thought of in terms like ghosts, and goblins, but in all actuality, the supernatural simply means that which cannot be explained by natural forces or laws. This can mean evil manifestations yes, but also miracles, supernatural blessings, and divine providence.”

Taking this knowledge and blending it with his passion for storytelling, John’s first work was the award-winning novel, Walker’s Vale. Combining elements of his own experiences with a natural flair for descriptive writing, Walker’s Vale has been released in two editions to fabulous reviews of critics, comparing the storytelling to that of Ted Dekker and Frank Perietti.

Johns’ follow-up to Walker’s Vale was another award-winning effort titled, The Journal of Ezekiel Walker. This novel and prequel to Walker’s Vale, retells the eerie history of the small, fictional town of Walker’s Vale, Pennsylvania. John states, “It was a great honor and pleasure to have The Journal of Ezekiel Walker endorsed by friend and Christian music legend, Les Carlsen of Bloodgood.”

John’s writing accomplishments include being selected as one of the Fifty Great Writers You Should Be Reading, The Spirt-Filled Recognition of Achievement, Five Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite, and placing within the final Top Ten of the 2018 Author Academy Awards. Other short stories by John have appeared on The Untold Podcast and in Hello Horror Literary Journal. John is also an active member of the Horror Writers Association.

John has appeared on television, radio, print, and in public speaking events to tell his story.

When not writing, John enjoys spending time with his family, collecting sports cards and memorabilia, and playing bass guitar.

His motto resides in the words of one of his favorite characters in Walker’s Vale in that, “Not everything in this life can be explained.”

January 19, 2022

Can I Write Good Poetry?

                                Sara Robinson

How will I know if my poetry is good? That is a question I am often asked. And, it is almost impossible to answer. First of all, what do we mean by “good”? The person creating the work should determine his/her own definition. Good is SO subjective. But before you even ask that question, get the poem down, then work on the “good” part. For me to supply either an encouraging answer or to attempt to define it, would be like trying to train a rhino to heel.

But the question does determine an attempt. Here are my thoughts, presented as a list:

With something completed, ask yourself if you like what you wrote. Even if you like it, can you like it even more with some revision? Revision can be the most fun about writing poetry.

What was your original goal for the poetry? Did you achieve that? If yes, then think about the importance of the goal’s satisfaction. If no, then go back over what you write and try to find pieces to fix, keeping the goal in mind.

Read other poets and explore why you like or don’t like their writing. Use their writing to help you put together a definition for “good.”

Poetry is not just about good writing; it is also about feeling. When someone scratches your back, you say “that feels good.” Good poetry should also make you feel good. Also bear in mind that good poetry can make you feel bad. (And that could be good in a totally different context). Poetry is an intimate relationship in which both good and bad exist.

Think about texture of your poem. What other feelings do your words invoke?

Are you satisfied with presentation of the poem? How does it look on the page to you? If you are not happy with it, what changes could you make?

Don’t try to find “good” in one sitting. Let the poem under consideration stew for a while, then come back to it. Time is always on your side.

In her poem, “To Charlie, on His Poetry,” poet Alicia Ostriker writes, “The zoom of your poem would often/ pull far out from the scene you were capturing, // then you would nail it, down to the last/ pixel of the truth.” …

You will write in your life a number of words. Some will come together. Some won’t. When you feel like you have nailed your poem, and you feel good about it, then at the very least, for you the poem is good. Now you can get that rhino to heel.

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).

January 18, 2022

My “Last Book”

                                Richard Mabry

My first book contract was 17 years ago. My reason for writing the book was rather simple. I had read every book I could get my hands on about the loss of a loved one, but none spoke to me. So, I wrote one myself. It was, and is, one of the most satisfying books I have ever had my name on as author. And with its publication, I thought I was done.

I signed the contract without an agent and was thrilled that an established publishing house was willing to put out a non-fiction book based on my emotions after the death of my first wife. I wrote an additional chapter for a second edition of the book over 10 years later, and The Tender Scar remains in print today. It was and is a ministry for me.

Because I didn’t know anything about writing a book or getting it published, I followed the advice of an editor and attended my very first writing conference. To this day, I can’t say why I chose a Christian conference, but perhaps it seemed natural. But I later decided that this was one of the two blessings to come out of my efforts there. The other was advice from a couple of experienced writers, who seemed to like the way I put the words together and suggested that I try my hand at writing fiction.

I accepted the challenge (or, at least, I took it as such) and discovered that having a book published was far from an easy thing. I wrote, re-wrote, submitted, and after four years and forty rejections, I was in the right place at the right time and had my first novel of fiction accepted. Several more followed, from several publishers. But I found a contract wasn’t forever, and eventually—after ten published novels—I had no publisher. Since I’d known this day was coming, I dipped my toe (or rather, my pen) into self-publication by putting out a series of novellas, and by so doing I learned that not only were there advantages and disadvantages to writing for a publisher, but that self-publication came with its own advantages and disadvantages. But it was another avenue for me, and I followed it.

With the advent of the pandemic, I found that it was hard to write. Many of my colleagues evidently felt this way as well. After considering it, I decided that twelve novels and seven novellas was probably a good place to stop. Why not just let it go at that? But my wife felt otherwise, apparently. She dropped occasional hints about writing, and finally came right out and suggested a story arc that I might find interesting: a story about an ER nurse who was trying to write a book. I tried several times to make this work, but just couldn’t. But along the way I became interested in the female protagonist I had created, as well as the male protagonist, a family doctor who had thrown himself into his work after the death of his first wife. I was interested enough to populate the story further, and before you know it, I had written a novella featuring these two. I couldn’t think of an appropriate title until I realized that the story featured a murder that was almost undetectable—a true “medical mystery.” And thus, my eighth novella was born.

Will this be the last? I thought I had already written my last novel, but I was wrong. In a burst of enthusiasm, I included the beginning of another one at the end of this one. Will it come to fruition? I’m not sure. Then again, I’d already thought once that I had written my last one, and I was wrong.

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.” His previously published novels have garnered critical acclaim and been recognized by programs including the ACFW’s Carol Award, the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and its Reviewers’ Choice, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award.

January 17, 2022

Nostalgic Moment with Deborah H. Bateman 2016


Friday, January 29, 2016

Being a Writer

By Deborah H. Bateman

As a writer it is easy to get caught up in doing all the things that go along with being a writer besides writing our books, such as: blogging, marketing, social media, writing conferences, speaking, etc. The list can go on and on. If we aren’t careful we can become obsessed with all of it and forget that we are human beings with many other needs including spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and financial.

Many of us have other roles to play in our lives. We may be parents, spouses, and some of us even employees. We have families to care for, relationships to tend to, and a house to clean, just to mention a few. We have to remember that writing is not our life; it is a part of our life. If we aren’t careful it can consume our lives and cause us to sacrifice some of the things that are most important to us.

I am preaching to the choir as I am writing this article in the middle of the night, but what can you do when you wake up with something on your mind but get up and write it down. That’s what we writers do. These are lessons that I have had to learn and am continuing to learn. If we neglect our families, our homes, our relationships, and our own personal needs all for the sake of writing what kind of life will we have. We need to learn to carve out time for our writing in our lives, and all the things that go along with it and not let it be our life. I challenge you to examine your life today and see what areas you are neglecting and see how you can improve your life.

Deborah H.Bateman is an Author, publisher, blogger and website designer. She is the founder of Christian Daily Resources, a Christian online ministry dedicated to "Sharing God's Word." Deborah was born and raised in South Carolina, where she still resides with her husband. She has two beautiful daughters and five precious grandchildren. Besides writing and publishing books, Deborah enjoys cooking, interior decorating, and crafts. Deborah is the author of the books in the Daily Bible Reading Series. Deborah's Daily Bible Reading blog has been moved to her author site at: She is also the author of Bible Verse Tweet blog where she shares daily Bible studies and Bible verses at You can check out her website at: Deborah enjoys "Sharing God's Word" and empowering others to share their message. Deborah's author site at: Deborah has a blog on her author site where she shares Daily Bible Reading and some self-publishing tips, digital publishing tips, indie publishing tips, book marketing tips, writing tips, and social media tips check it out at: