February 28, 2022

The Love Month Is Ending!


Well, February is ending. The month we celebrate Valentines and Love.

I could not let it pass without bringing these books and author’s to our attention.

Love is a universal language that is true. But Love starts with ourselves, spouse, family and ripples out from there. See what these authors have to say.

For Lovers:

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts  by Gary Chapman—author, speaker, and counselor. Chapman has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He is the bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages® series and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary Travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations.

For more information, visit or connect with Gary on his social platforms:

Twitter @DrGaryChapman

Facebook /5lovelanguages

Instagram /5lovelanguages

A definite read for lovers.

For Ourselves:

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It  by Kamal Ravikant

I've been fortunate enough to have some amazing experiences in my life so far. I've trekked to one of the highest base camps in the Himalayas, earned my US Army Infantry patch, walked 550 miles across Spain, lived in Paris, been the only non-black, non-woman member of the Black Women's writers' group, written several bestsellers, held the hands of dying patients, and worked with some of the best people in Silicon Valley.

But the most transformative experience has been the simple act of loving myself.

Twitter: @kamalravikant

Instagram: @kamalravikant

Important to have a healthy self-love.

Our Choice

Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Dr. Robert Hemfelt (Author), Dr. Frank Minirth (Author), Dr. Paul Meier (Author)

In Love Is a Choice, best-selling doctors Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth, and Paul Meier walk you through their 10 proven stages to recovery from codependency that results from external circumstances. Humans are susceptible to codependency because of our sinful tendency to use defense mechanisms to fool ourselves. In codependent relationships, deceitful games are played, and important Christian principles are often taken out of context and abused. God wants us to have healthy relationships with a balance between being dependent and independent.

The doctors describe how the most effective means of overcoming codependent relationships is to establish or deepen a relationship with Christ himself. They describe the causes of codependency, pointing out the factors that perpetuate it, and lead listeners through their 10 stages of recovery.

Letting Go Of Unhealthy Love (relationships)

Thanks for spending the month of February with us!

February 24, 2022

5 Tips I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

                                    Nancy Roe

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to write a book. I even wrote in my sixth-grade autobiography that I wanted to be an author. It took me until I turned fifty to make the dream a reality.

I’ve learned many lessons in the past eleven years. Here are five tips I wished I’d known at the beginning of my career.

Tip 1: Find a writing group. Writing groups, whether in-person or online, are a valuable source of information. Share your words, your stories, your soul. Sometimes we get so close to our writing that another person can spot weaknesses in plot or ask questions we hadn’t thought to ask ourselves. Perhaps your state or city has a writer’s group. I live in Utah and joined the League of Utah Writers, and the Just Write Chapter.

Tip 2: Take courses. Learn, learn, learn, and never stop. Reedsy Learning has tons of free courses. Jane Cleland offers a free hour webinar every month. For paid courses, look into Writer’s Digest, Margie Lawson, or Sisters in Crime.

Tip 3: Sign up for emails from authors you admire, agents, writing instructors, and writing blogs. After a few weeks or a few months, you’ll know which providers give you the best information, and the ones you dislike, you can always unsubscribe. My favorites are Jane Friedman, Joan Dempsey, K.M. Weiland, Lisa Hall-Wilson, Mary Carroll Moore, Social Media Examiner, and Writers in the Storm. (Of course the #1 blog is Suite T!)

Tip 4: Attend writer’s conferences. Meet fellow writers. Share your experiences. Ask questions. Don’t think of fellow writers as competitors, but as friends. And never, ever be afraid to talk to the guest speakers. The headliners go to conferences to share their wealth of information, not stand on a pedestal.

Tip 5: Read, read, read. Read stories in your genre. Read stories in other genres. Why do you enjoy certain books and not others? Was it how the story made you feel? Did you love the red herrings and plot twists? Did you stop halfway because the book was boring, or did you stay up all night?

Gold Quill Award-Winning Novel

Nancy Roe is an Award-Winning Author and Professional Formatter. She has self-published seven books and is writing her next mystery due for release this summer. (Butterfly Premonitions. A missing father. A murdered stepmother. A reopened cold case. Can Merli find the truth among the lies, or will the murderer get deadly revenge?)

Nancy served as a panelist at the Killer Nashville International Writer’s Conference, speaking on the subjects of self-publishing, minor characters, and dialogue. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Guppy Chapter, The League of Utah Writers, Just Write Chapter, Writer’s Circle, and Newsletter/Communications Chair of the Newcomers Club of the Greater Park City Area. Nancy is a Midwest farm girl at heart and lives in Utah with her husband and four-legged children, Max and Addison.





February 23, 2022

Do The Books You Read Have Settings?


Susan Reichert

Settings are most important in our writing of fiction and nonfiction.

In February, of 2019, Connie Mann wrote a post for Suite T, that I often go back and read when I am writing because it brings attention to the importance of a setting.

Here is the date, title, and link for you:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019, Wait, Where are we Again?

By Connie Mann

Connie asked the question, “Have you ever started reading a book and several chapters in, had to flip back to the beginning to see if you’d missed clues as to where you were?”

I have had that happen many times. Having to flip back to the front to see if I missed where the story is taking place. Maybe you have too. See what she says about that in her post Wait, Where are we Again?

Connie is the author of Beyond Risk, (Florida Wildlife Warriors #1), Beyond Power (Florida Wildlife Warriors Book #2) the Safe Harbor series (Tangled Lies, Hidden Threat, Deadly Melody), as well as Angel Falls and Trapped!

Updated in August 2021, The Master Class staff article they wrote, How to Create a Vivid Setting for Your Story is an excellent article to help with our knowledge of settings.

Their opening sentence explains why settings are important in our writing. It read,

“A detailed setting draws your readers into the world you’ve built, allowing them to inhabit the storyline. Learn the core elements of setting and apply them to your own writing.”

In their article you will find these items:
What Is Setting?
How to Create a Vivid Setting for Your Story
5 Exercises for Writing Vivid Settings
Want to Learn More About Writing?

I think you will find Connie Mann’s post enlightening as well as the article

from the Master Class most helpful in your writing of settings.

Happy Writing!

February 22, 2022

A Few Things You May Not Know About Jessica R. Patch!

Jessica R. Patch

Thank you so much for having me back. It’s always a pleasure to be here on Suite T!

A few things you may not know about me is that I’m a profiler, or in proper terms, a Behavioral Analyst for the FBI. I’ve also traveled with the FBI to conduct profiles on serial killers, and I’ve also worked for the local sheriff’s office/department. The job isn’t easy, never has been. It’s thankless oftentimes, grueling, and can have an impact on my mental health but my faith in God renews me and keeps me doing what I do. The world is a dark place, and I’ve seen it. Seen the ravaging and devastation of evil, but I’ve also seen God’s goodness and faithfulness. I’ve seen Him take what was meant for evil and use it for good. I’ve seen Him give humans the ability to use DNA, fingerprints, and even genealogy websites for His glory to bring justice to victims and their families. I’ve been able to help solve cold cases, where hope seems lost, using age progression imaging and new ancestry sites where you have to input your DNA. Of course, killers evolve, but so does this justice system.

Okay, so I’m holding all these job titles and hunting serial killers vicariously through my fictional characters, but the research I find is all true. It’s incredible to see what God can do with technology! The minds of humanity intrigue me, and also repulse me, and reminds me that without God, I am as depraved as the next person who doesn’t know God. We all are. I love researching why people think and behave as they do and interviewing people who do actually hold these job titles. It’s the best part of my job! I get to travel and do new things with every book. And I get to show the light of Jesus and what He can do in and through darkness with every single book—actually that’s the best part of my job!

My new series Quantico Profilers will kick off with Texas Cold Case Threat. My heroine is a profiler and she’s just gotten word from a killer that her profile sent the local law in the wrong direction. Her identity rests in her ability to profile a killer but she’ll have to discover that her identity truly is in Jesus Christ. People are fallible, they make mistakes. Enter a Texas Ranger who works cold cases and another killer who collides with my heroine, and we have two killers to catch! It’s a fun and wild ride. I enjoyed researching Texas and putting my characters in a new setting. It felt fresh for me too.

Texas Cold Case Threat
releases Feb. 28th online and in local bookstores and a Walmart near you.

Jessica R. Patch, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author, is known for her dry wit and signature twists whether she’s penned a romantic suspense, a cold case thriller, or a small-town romance. When she’s not getting into fictional mischief with her characters, you can find her cozy on the couch in her mid-south home reading books by some of her favorite authors, watching movies with her family, and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. 

Sign up for her newsletter “Patched In” at

Jessica is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

February 21, 2022

Getting Ready for March 1


Coming March 1 to Suite T, is Lynn H. Blackburn. who is going to share her writing journey with us. Lynn writes romantic suspense. Be sure and visit Suite T March 1, 2022.

If you have not read her books, you truly have missed some great reads.

In 2015 her first book, Covert Justice, was published. Book one in the Faith in the Face of Crime series.AGENT UNDERCOVER

When a woman drags Blake Harrison out of his wrecked car, he knows the mysterious stranger has saved his life. But more shocking than the hit-and-run is the news that a crime cartel has infiltrated his factory. There's a fortune to be made by tampering with the factory's products…but only if Blake is out of the way. Undercover FBI agent Heidi Zimmerman has two goals—catch the criminals in the act, and keep Blake alive. Falling for the single dad and his adorable daughter isn't in the plan. But everything changes when an abduction leaves Heidi face-to-face with a killer, revealing the danger that's been hiding in plain sight all along…

From there, Hidden Legacy followed in 2017.
Book two in the Faith in the Face of Crime series.


Arriving home with the baby she's adopting, Caroline Harrison finds her house vandalized…and an intruder intent on shooting her. She's saved when police sirens approach, but all signs point to the little boy as the true target—and the assailant won't give up. Now she has to rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why someone's after her soon-to-be adoptive son. Reunited after thirteen years apart, Jason can't help but hope their love might be rekindled, but Caroline and her son's safety come first. Because if he wants a chance at a future—and a family—with them, they have to outrun a hit man.

Then in 2018, her first book in her new series, Dive Team Investigation series, Beneath the Surface was released.

After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she'd left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff's Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer--one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

In that same year, book two in that series, Too Deep, was released.

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren't prepared to find an encrypted laptop--or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming--a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills--to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam's own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.

The truth could set hundreds free--but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic fa├žade.

And in 2019 Blackburn closed out her nail-biting Dive Team Investigations series with book three, One Final Breath. This story will have you wondering how long you can hold your breath.

When investigator Gabriel Chavez had his cover blown by an aggressive reporter, the silver lining was being able to rejoin the dive team. The downside? Dive team captain Anissa Bell--a woman who both fascinates and frustrates him.

Anissa grew up as a missionary kid on the Micronesian island of Yap and always planned to return after college. But she remained stateside, determined to solve the case that haunts her--the murder of her best friend and the disappearance of a three-year-old child.

When Anissa's fractured past collides with Gabe's investigation into the tragic shooting death of a teenage boy in Lake Porter, they'll have to put their complicated history with each other aside in order to uncover the identity of a killer. What they'll discover is that revenge has no statute of limitations.

 In 2021 Lynn introduced her new series, Defend and Protect. Book one in that series is Unknown Threat. She has pulled out all the stops in this new romantic suspense series. You will find yourself holding your breath one minute and swooning the next. 

US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He's an expert at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she's assigned. She's been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke's life in danger, the stakes have never been higher. But it's hard to know how to fight back when you don't know who the enemy is.

As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

Be sure and join us March 1 for Lynn H. Blackburn's visit. She will be introducing her new book, book two in this Defend and Protect series. You will not want to miss finding out about her journey and the introduction of her new book.

February 17, 2022

She Just Might Steal Your Heart

An award winning author, including the GOLD in Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards and LDSPMA Praiseworthy's top award for Romance, Jen Geigle Johnson has more stories circulating in her brain than can possibly be told. She discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager. HIstory is her main jam. Her literary heroes include the greats: Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. But she has modern sensibilities as well. Six children and an inspiring husband keep her going and make certain she doesn't stay glued to a keyboard or lost in obscure fascinating details of old castles. She once greeted an ancient turtle under the water by grabbing her fin. She waterskis like a boss and hits the powder, falling down steep moguls with grace. During a study break date in college, she sat on top of a jeep's roll bars up in the mountains and fell in love with the man who would become her everything.

Now, she loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure.



A woman who can't trust herself to make a good marriage choice asks for an arranged marriage, but then falls in love with someone else.

Grace standish is the youngest of the Standish sisters. Years ago, she became flattered by one of the men of the ton, only to find herself rescued from a carriage ride that could have ruined her forever. Since then, and watching each of her sisters marry, she isn't confident in her ability to know what would be best for her. She trusts her eldest sister June completely and knows that she and her husband Morley, will help her. But a new, young, Vicar enters the scene and she finds herself so incredibly curious about him. He's obviously handsome. But he's so much more. Is she correct in her thinking? Her family talks of titles and wealth and security. They seem to overlook the excellent Vicar until it's almost too late.

Lord Stewart has long since tired of the ton and their selfish ways. Though he's only participated in two seasons, he's watched brother after brother have their seasons. Nothing about the elaborate gowns, the entire waste of money on lavish balls, and the backbiting, gossiping ton appeals to him. And so he decides to do everything he can to steer clear of the lot of it. His family is in great need and so he takes a position as a Vicar and dedicates himself to his work. He does nothing to try to appeal to anyone socially, and even still, women are always near, their mothers, guardians and grandmothers as well as the new debutantes. As he attempts to navigate these new relationships while remaining single, he notices one woman who stands out in every way. As they find themselves thrown together, and he at last finds his heart yearning to make her his, he learns she is about to be betrothed to another in a match most anticipated by her entire family.

Enjoy this final book in the Lords for the Sisters of Sussex series and introduce yourselves to a new family of BROTHERS who might just might steal your heart.

February 16, 2022

A New Romantic Tale - Francine Rivers

Francine Rivers

A delightful new western romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love.

Author Francine Rivers returns to the California frontier in this sweeping, romantic tale of a displaced New England suffragette, a former Union soldier disinherited by his Southern family, and the town they join forces to save.

Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America's coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). 

Visit Francine online at and connect with her on Facebook ( and Twitter (Twitter@FrancineRivers).

1875. When Kathryn Walsh arrives in tiny Calvada, a mining town nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, falling in love is the farthest thing from her mind. Banished from Boston by her wealthy stepfather, she has come to claim an inheritance from the uncle she never knew: a defunct newspaper office on a main street overflowing with brothels and saloons, and a seemingly worthless mine. Moved by the oppression of the local miners and their families, Kathryn decides to relaunch her uncle’s newspaper—and then finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom, pitted against Calvada’s most powerful men. But Kathryn intends to continue to say—and publish—whatever she pleases, especially when she knows she’s right.

Matthias Beck, owner of a local saloon and hotel, has a special interest in the new lady in town. He instantly recognizes C. T. Walsh’s same tenacity in the beautiful and outspoken redhead—and knows all too well how dangerous that family trait can be. While Kathryn may be right about Calvada’s problems, her righteousness could also get her killed. But when the handsome hotelier keeps finding himself on the same side of the issues as the opinionated Miss Walsh, Matthias’s restless search for purpose becomes all about answering the call of his heart.

Everyone may be looking to strike it rich in this lawless boomtown, but it’s a love more precious than gold that will ultimately save them all.

February 15, 2022

Writer of Love Stories

                              Jessie Gussman

Jessie Gussman writes sweet, contemporary and inspirational romance from her home in central Pennsylvania. She is the 2017 winner of the short contemporary category of the Catherine and the Marlene contests. She is a member of RWA and is contracted with City Owl Press and Pelican Book Group.

Jessie and her husband own and run several businesses from their rural farm. She also homeschools their five children. Find her on her 

Heartland Stars released February 14, 2022.

After working beside her sisters for years on their Iowa farm, Meg McClosky finds herself alone, trying to do the work of three people.

She’s never been one to mope around, but she’s lonely and tired and at the end of her rope – desperate enough to give serious thought to an offer that has come in for the farm…and for her.

Farris Warner has spent the last ten years fighting. Fighting the cancer that took his wife’s life, leaving him a widower with four small children. Fighting the government as it took the farm that had been in his family for eight generations through eminent domain for a new airport. Fighting to keep his sanity as he tried to work his farm, raise his kids and keep up with lawyers and doctors and teachers and schools.

He’s desperate.

Desperate enough that when an old buddy makes an outrageous suggestion…he’s ready to take him up on it.

Can two down-on-their-luck strangers take the pieces of their lives and make something beautiful out of them?

Also releasing in February, 2022:

Frustrations and tensions fly amid adversaries turned partners in this fun and sweet romance.

When the high school’s float explodes five days before the National Farmer’s Day parade, Principal Calvin Finkenbinder sees his chance at the promotion to Superintendent disintegrate. Unless he enlists the help of Ellie Bright, the most annoying, disorganized and kissable woman he knows.

Standing in Principal Fink’s office, again, for driving her daughter to school late, again, Ellie is given two odious choices. Either her straight A daughter receives detention for another tardy that’s not her fault, or Ellie uses her artistic skills and helps the uptight, stringent principal build a new float.

As they scramble to construct the float in time, Ellie’s chaotic life collides with Fink’s methodical plans. A tangle of arguments and decorations leads to a stolen kiss. Underneath their long established animosity is an unexpected passion that threatens to ruin more than just a school float.

February 11, 2022

Suite T Salutes Hope Callaghan

Hope Callaghan

Author Hope Callaghan has written more than 70 Cozy Mysteries & Christian Mystery Books. Her first book, “Waves of Deception,” in the Samantha Rite Christian Mystery series, garnered much success and set the stage for Hope’s other mystery series.

Born and raised in West Michigan where the winters can be bitterly cold and sometimes seem to drag on forever, she developed a love for reading books, and was affectionately known as the “bookworm” of the family.

She now lives in Florida with her husband and is the proud mother of three children. When she’s not doing the thing she loves best – writing books – she enjoys cooking, traveling and reading.

As of June 2021, there are seven mystery series and 
over 80 cozy mysteries written by Hope.

They are listed below by series.

Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Series

Garden Girls Mystery Series

Garden Girls-The Golden Years Cozy Mystery Series

Divine Cozy Mystery Series

Made in Savannah Cozy Mysteries

Sweet Southern Sleuths Cozy Mysteries (Short Stories)

Samantha Rite Cozy Mystery Series

February 10, 2022

The Month of Love - February - Highlighting Adrienne Chinn


Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer writing, she often can be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk.

Her second novel, The English Wife - a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland - was published in June 2020. It became an international bestseller, sweeping and emotional historical romance novel. This book is about Two women, a world apart. A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.

Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th, 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.

Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…

This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience.
Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. Her third novel, Love in a Time of War, the first in a series of three books, will be published in the spring of 2022.

February 9, 2022

Writing With Love






There are woods around me in my mountain place. It is quiet here but for the sound of water moving over stones in the river. The light filters through the trees. A breeze stirs the leaves. I feel God’s presence here. He has brought me to this quiet place. A few weeks getaway with my husband to escape the pandemic became two years. Here I feel loved, and in the stillness of this place I write.

As I sit, still and quiet each morning, one word comes – then another. Like a pen in God’s hand, I write. The writing comes when I make time for Him. When I release fevered panic over deadlines and let go of the anxiety to produce. When I sit with my pen and journal or open laptop and wait.

I begin in prayer, “Speak God for your servant is listening.” Then like holy dictation, a word may come, a phrase, a sentence, a page, or a torrent of words that I can hardly keep up with. Words may not come as I sit in His peace. I release my goals and expectations in the knowledge that what comes from Him far surpasses my own efforts.

My writing education started as a child as I read my writer mother’s manuscripts for her children’s books. Then as a young mother I began to read the books that my children brought home from the library. I could see in my mind the books that I wanted for my sons but did not know how to write them. I started with an adult education course on writing for children and during the classes our writing was read out loud to the class for feedback. My stories developed a following in that class and I saw that I had the gift of storytelling – connecting through words.

The class led to my first book, The Math Wiz, and I went on to write many more children’s books and publish with Viking, Simon and Schuster, Henry Holt, and others. I loved speaking my words through my books, into the lives of children – words of hope, resilience, humor. Many of those first books are still in print and are speaking to second and third graders now. How to Be Cool in the Third Grade is still on state reading lists and each year speaks words about comfort and reconciliation to children who are bullied.

Midlife brought a time of introspection that led to changes, and I went back to school for a Master’s degree in counseling and began to help homeless women write and tell their stories. The written word brings healing to the writer as well as the reader and my own writing was put aside for a season as I helped others write and as I grew in my own understanding of the power of words. I also grew, deepening in my own faith and connection to God.

The More Series started during my morning quiet time when I began to write short devotions for my friend who was undergoing chemotherapy. She wanted something short and meaningful that she could carry in her chemo bag. I started writing devotions on cards for her. As the words continued to come, the cards grew into a small book, More Peace: 30 Experiences of Peace. The vision for the book was small – just the size for someone to carry in a pocket or purse. Since I am a quote collector – my favorite quotes were added, and my love of scripture gave me a verse for each day.

Beautiful Things

Around you things can be hard.

Thoughts are anxious.

Fear abounds.

But inside you there can be peace.

Hold beautiful things in your heart.

A loved one’s smile

The waves on the shore

A seat by the fire

Fall leaves on mountains

Your own bedroom chair

A Christmas memory

A favorite cup


Think of these things often.

Hold these things in your heart.

Feel peace.

I self-published the small book on Kindle and then began to give it away digitally several times a year. I’ve written books as a career and for publishers but this one seemed to be God’s book and I have never thought about making a profit from it. I set the price of the paperback and the ebook as low as Amazon would allow and I give the ebooks away often throughout the year.

The words continue to come in my quiet times with God. His love for us, experienced in my time with Him, became More Love: Experiencing God’s Love. During a season of grief after the loss of my mother, He poured out His comfort on me which became More Comfort: Moving Through Grief. The struggle to let go of my unhelpful behaviors became More Surrender: 30 Experiences of Letting Go. And a season of battling in prayer for a friend with oral cancer became More Strength: Fighting in the Strength of God. The ninth book of the series, More Wonder: Experiencing Christmas helped me to see Christmas in a deeper way.

This holy act of writing with God heals me and heals the readers. It instructs me and the ones who receive the words. It takes me into His presence and these written words can also take the reader into His presence.

We sow our books out into the world like seeds not knowing what impact they will have, if any. But if we are faithful, we keep writing and keep sowing and trust God for the harvest.

My prayer for you – writers and readers – is that God would heal you, instruct you, draw you close to Him and show you how much you are loved. There have been many seasons of writing in my life but this season in the later years is the sweetest. It all comes down to this – write for Love. Write with Love.


February 7, 2022

Can I Write Good Poetry?

                                                Sara M. 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).

February 4, 2022

Nostalgic Moment With Tina Murray And Tribute to Pat Conroy


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pat Conroy and Me

By Tina Murray, Ph.D.

"What do you do?" renowned Southern writer Pat Conroy asked me during his book-signing event at the Miami Book Fair, years ago. Mr. Conroy was about to sign a copy of his latest novel, which I had just purchased.

"Well, I'm trying to be a writer," I replied, my voice feeble and apologetic.

He contemplated me.

The two of us were not alone. Fans stood in line nearby to meet-and-greet the famous author. However, that is how I remember the event--as if, suddenly, Mr. Conroy and I had been set apart from physical reality and isolated by a single spotlight. His response to my whine was immediate and definite.

"You say, 'I am a writer.'" he ordered, signing.

I was astonished.

"I am a writer," I said tentatively. Comprehending, I repeated the words, with conviction. "I am a writer."

He closed the book and handed it to me. He waved an index finger in my direction. "Never let anyone tell you that you can't do it," he said. "Not anyone," he said emphatically.

I nodded, agape. He went on.

"Not your family, your friends, your boyfriend--" He reeled off a laundry list of potential saboteurs.

"No one."

I think I thanked him. I hope I did. Dazed, I had wandered off, drifting back into the milling throng of book enthusiasts. Absorbing what had occurred I wandered, as evening fell, warm and humid.

Something dramatic and significant had happened in my life. That night, my body rode home on the Metrorail, but my head remained in the ozone. Pat Conroy had changed my life.

He had given me the keys to tenacity. Nothing is more crucial to the writing life than tenacity. A writer may possess great talent, be a stellar craftsperson, and approach artistry, but none of it matters if the writer's work is left unfinished. Tenacity matters.

He had given me the keys to Tena City, as it were, or to Tina City. He had unlocked my resolve.

Since that conversation, I have written three novels, each published by ArcheBooks. My latest novel, A BIG FAN OF YOURS, is Volume Three of my series, "Starlight on the Gulf." The series, which also includes Volumes One and Two, A CHANCE TO SAY YES and A WILD DREAM OF LOVE, did not write itself, I promise you. These novels exist because of Pat Conroy's kind words.

His righteous insight gave me permission to persevere, permission I had denied myself, from an early age, in various pursuits. Often, I had taken the advice of naysayers. Worse, I had talked myself out of goals.

Now I know I do not have to give in, bow down, or buckle under to negativity, no matter its source.

Neither do you, writer.

I am a grateful for the opportunity to pass along Pat Conroy's advice to a host of Southern writers. I believe he would have wanted it that way.

Tina Murray, Ph.D. has ventured her way into the publishing world after years spent in a wide range of pursuits. Insight gained, especially as an actress and artist, subsequently enhanced by degrees in art education, education, art and drama from the Florida State University and the University of Miami, has fed her imagination for her debut romance novel A Chance to Say Yes. Now she enjoys the sunny shores of paradise as she prepares the sequel in her movie-star dynasty. Website


February 3, 2022

How Not to Start a Novel-Writing Career

                                                                           Jill Eileen Smith

When my first book, Michal, released, friends I’d known for years didn’t seem surprised. Why? They claimed I’d been talking about writing for years and years. Really? Some said I talked about in my teens, but I have no memory of wanting a writing career that long ago.

Actually, I came into the writing profession doing everything the hard way. I wrote a two-volume epic novel because I wanted to read it, but then thought maybe it could be published. One should not start attempting to publish with an epic-length novel and no previous publishing credits to your name. But I didn’t know that then. Oblivious to the industry, I submitted queries all over the place. Twenty-eight rejections later, I finally realized I had a lot to learn.

Still the publishing bug had bitten, so I set out to learn the craft. I read lots of books, attended writer’s conferences, had three agents over a period of several years and continued to fail and learn. Even my current agent originally told me that my work (eight books by then) was hard to sell because they all featured a male lead. I liked male heroes because I lived in a houseful of men (husband and sons), so I enjoyed pursuing that point of view. But female leads were what sold.

I did have one female lead, but she was in a genre that had been closed to new writers for twenty years—biblical fiction. Again, hard to sell. Until one day, twenty years after I first began and after nearly giving up writing completely, my work suddenly garnered interest.

That was nearly fifteen years ago. I will say that though I went about it backwards and shouldn’t have tried so hard to figure out the nuances of the writing craft on my own, I did learn a lot. And I’m still learning.

Writing will always be a passion for me. I think journaling my prayers has been a big part of why I stay in tune with this artistic outlet. When I write, I release thoughts that needs to stop rolling around in my brain. When I write creatively, I release a part of me that needs artistic expression. I believe the Creator made us to create, and when I step into a somewhat fictional world, I can make sense of the chaotic real world in which we live.

Sometimes I go back and reread something I’ve written and think, “I need to remember this,” or “I should learn to take my own advice.” Not that I’m saying anything that hasn’t already been said by better writers than I, but that the truth I glean from life and put into the mouths of the characters, returns to me in a helpful way. I’m reminded that God is with me, and that no matter what life hands to me, He still loves me and is holding me.

I think both Joseph and Judah, as I write about them in The Prince and the Prodigal, needed to learn that God hadn’t left them even when life’s circumstances were going against them in every possible way. Joseph had some good moments in his life of slavery, but he was still a slave. He couldn’t go home to his father, and you can bet he had to have missed his family despite their betrayal. But he also knew that God was with him. God blessed him in the land of his suffering. And eventually God took him out of slavery and into a place of power and great abundance.

Judah created a lot of his own problems. He had a jealousy issue when it came to Joseph, and he ran away from home, like the prodigal son in Jesus’ story, to escape the guilt and shame he felt over his bad behavior toward Joseph. (At least, that’s how I see it.) He stayed away for over twenty years and suffered much loss. His life became pretty messy, but it took that loss for him to realize that God was still with him as well and he needed to return to his father.

In writing the story of these two brothers, I found their stories and the possible emotions behind their actions or what was forced upon them intriguing. How did Joseph feel all of those years in captivity? And why did God pick Judah to be in the line of the Messiah, the line of kings, when Joseph was the more righteous son?

Writing their stories gave me a lot of time to ponder that sometimes God chooses to remain mysterious, and His ways are not our ways. I came to love Judah as much as I did Joseph, though his story is filled with a lot of pain due to his own choices. He was not a trustworthy man in the beginning, but perhaps he became trustworthy because of his personal suffering and eventual forgiveness. Joseph was a trusted son, but his struggle was more likely with learning to forgive rather than try to forget all that his brothers had done to him.

In a sense, I relate to both of them. I loved diving into their stories and asking why they might have acted the way they did? We are only given the facts in Scripture. I love to flesh out the motives behind the facts and the emotions that followed. Perhaps that’s because I can’t always know those things in real life. In fiction, I can assign motive and speculate and get away with it. In real life, we just can’t know for sure.

Perhaps that is why I will always love writing. It lets me get to know people, historical or fictional, in a way that I can’t know people in my life here unless they tell me what they are thinking. That’s why I began to write. I wanted to understand why. Study and research and getting into character lets me do that.

However, to any potential authors out there, I do not recommend beginning your journey with a massive novel. Learn the craft first. Write many books before trying to sell your first one. The journey takes time, but we can speed it along if we don’t insist on learning the hard way.

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction
series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the
Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a King, Star of Persia: Esther’s Story, and
Miriam’s Song. She is also the author of the nonfiction books When Life Doesn’t
Match Your Dreams and She Walked Before Us. Her research into the lives of biblical
women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how
women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

February 2, 2022

Writing and Vision


Heidi Gray McGill

I’m super excited to share about my newest release, Dial E for Endearment, especially since February is Low Vision Awareness Month.

Everly, the main character in Dial E for Endearment and I have something in common, but it may not be what you’d expect.

I’m an author of Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance, and the retired Director and Founder of an ESL program. I regularly walk 12 plus miles a week in my neighborhood, care for my grandsons as often as possible, scrapbook, read voraciously, cook but do not bake, and am legally blind. That last phrase was difficult for me to say out loud not that long ago.

Vision loss does not discriminate.

It is generally estimated that Retinitis Pigmentosa affects roughly 1 in 4,000 people. My diagnosis in 2001 of this rare eye disease was devastating. There is no cure, and there is no surgery. But that does not mean there is no hope. Those who do not know me well often don’t realize I have low vision. As humans, we are amazingly adaptable, and I do a pretty good job covering up my disability. My friends have learned to watch out for me and alert me to potential pitfalls, some better than others, which is always good for a laugh.

Being blind is certainly not something I would have chosen, but it does not define me.

When I wrote Dial E For Endearment, I purposed in my heart to shed light on blindness in a lighthearted, relatable fashion.

In my book, Everly has discovered fulfillment, but not love, at least not for her—not even from her mother. She wants a man who will open her eyes to everything she cannot see to make her feel more than just the girl with the white cane.

I use a white cane when I am out and about on my own, but I’m usually with another person who helps guide me. One of the most significant challenges in writing this book was ensuring Everly acted and responded in a way that would resonate with other white cane users. Everly’s personality is upbeat, yet she carries the burden of a poor relationship with her mother. Being authentic and realistically portraying life is essential to me, so I had to do some soul searching and people watching to understand human nature better.

I also share my faith in Jesus Christ through my writing, fleshed out through the story’s characters. Although my book is not evangelistic, it does show how Jesus Christ can be an integral part of life and how leaning on Him can bring tremendous peace and fulfillment.

I’d love for you to join me on this fun adventure and see for yourself that God does not discriminate. You’ll laugh your way through mishaps—most of which may have happened to me at some point. But most of all, you’ll learn that we ALL have value, and that includes YOU.

Heidi is an optimist who chooses to find the silver lining in life’s clouds of doubt. This plays out in her writing. Her ability to seamlessly weave scripture into the lives of her characters will uplift and encourage you, while her masterful storytelling will keep you turning page after page and wishing for more.

Heidi lives with her husband of thirty years near Charlotte, NC. When she isn’t writing, you will find her outside playing with her two grandsons, walking, scrapbooking, reading, cooking, traveling, or finding an excuse to have an outing with a girlfriend… as long as they’re driving.

If you’d like to connect with Heidi, here are a few ways:







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