Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with author Stephanie Guerrero

By Jeff Reynolds

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? If you're in the mood for a seasonal story, you might try three, in the anthology Christmas Romance at Dickens on Main. I have the honor of interviewing one of the collaborators, Stephanie Guerrero. She also has written … oh, I'll let her tell you.

Jeff Reynolds: Tell us a bit about the anthology you're involved in, and especially your contribution.

Stephanie Guerrero: Thanks, Jeff. The anthology is written around a real life event in Boerne, Tx the weekend after Thanksgiving called the Dickens on Main Event. The event itself involves a town wide, Charles Dickens theme (think Tiny Tim and Mr. Scrooge). There are arts and crafts, wassail-making contests, costumed re-enactments and more. With this as the backdrop, I was tasked with creating a romantic mystery that would weave in the events of the weekend. It was a lot of fun, in fact, the real-life event is coming up in a couple of weeks. Wish I could be there.

As for my story, I had so much fun rocking Gabe and Angelika's world. These two FBI partners are jerked out of vacations that never get off the ground when the FBI uncovers a terrorist plot going down in Gabe's home town the weekend of the Dickens Event. Thrown undercover as a couple out to enjoy the event, the plot thickens as, unexpectedly, the Secret Service show up with President-Elect and his V-P, a vital piece of intel left out of the FBI's briefing. Amidst the jolly Christmas event, someone is not who he seems. Gabe and Angelika must uncover the mole, stop the terrorist plot and sort out their untimely feelings for each other all while learning to practice that we are not to worry about tomorrow. Impossible, right? You have to read it to find out! :)

Shh! (Inside scoop, I had a little fun with their names. It's Christmas, so Angelika is for "Angel" and Gabe is for "Gabriel"!)

JR: How did you get invited to contribute to an anthology? Also, did you have much interaction with your partners-in-crime (i.e. fellow contributors)?

SG: I am part of a writer's email loop and was told of an opportunity to submit a novella. I sent in a sample chapter and a synopsis and, to my delight, was given the opportunity. One of the authors was the lead author and main editor, but we all editted each other's work for technical errors. It was fun to read the different approaches we had taken. One story is definately more romance, one is a balance, and mine leans toward a more complex, suspense plot with the romance intertwined.

JR: Normally, I don't think of Christmas and suspense together. How did you come up with your idea?

SG: It was a difficult jump for me as well, so I tried to pull from current events or rumors to make it believable. There has been a lot of buzz lately, that terrorists are planning events within the heartland and recruiting people who look more like Americans to pull it off. We are also in an election year. It occurred to me that hitting our government officials during their Christmas recess in their home towns would really shake us up. I hope such a thing never happens, but if it does, how would a believer in Jesus Christ cope with such a senario? Once the idea blossomed, the story began to write itself.

JR: Earlier this year, you also had a novel published. Could you tell us about that? And is there a sequel in the works?

SG: Yes, thanks for asking.
Shades of the Orient is an action packed suspense where no one is who they seem... It's classic tale of good versus evil:spies, smugglers and betrayal. Here is the back cover:
The Smuggler
Black Jade is many things… Hiding behind a prominent name by day and a Chinese mask by night, he can be anyone, just not the man he wants to be. Trapped in an ever tightening web of deceit, and pursued relentlessly by the White Dragon (Major Montero) he must choose which man he wants to be. When a way out is offered from a surprising source, will he choose power or let it go?
The Spy
A Spanish officer, a black market dealer, a shipping executive…
Intelligence officer Philip Montero is skilled at wearing masks to defeat the enemy, but this time he must face the enemy within. When his body betrays him with night terrors, he must unlock the past in order to survive, but time is running out and Black Jade has targeted the woman of his heart.
Betrayed by his family, his fiancé, and his fears, WHO can teach him how to trust again?
The Senorita
Shipping heiress turned missionary nurse, Francesca McRae is a target everywhere she turns. Desired as an heiress by power-hungry men and hated by the Chinese Boxers for her interference in the culture… she is surrounded by betrayal and hatred. None of her suitors are who they seem, yet one has stolen her heart. When loving others becomes more than she can handle, WHO can she trust?
Where do you turn when life is too much to handle?
There is a God… Who is waiting to be your answer…
The sequel to Shades of the Orient will be coming out in 2013! I'm so excited!!

JR: How do you approach the faith element in your stories? Did you write with a specific theme in mind, or did the theme enter as you developed your story?

SG: I always write with a specific theme in mind, and more often than not, it is something I have personally come through. I LOVE a good book, but for me, it has to have a great message too. Reading is the area I allow my mind to let down it's guard for a while. Knowing that I can write a great plot, real characters, heart-pounding yet God-centered romance, all rolled into a message is my goal.

With Shades of the Orient, the topic of how to experience betrayal as a Christian and yet move beyond the anger, the bitterness to being able to actively love my enemies, is a real topic I've dealt with in my life. It's one thing to say we forgive and another to act on that forgiveness and continue to love. An added undercurrent in the story is the contrast between romance God's way and the world's way. Purity before marriage is not a lack of passion... it is a valuing and saving of our passions for something beautiful waiting for us inside God's plan of marriage. Passion God's way is the most beautiful, rich blessing. The world's way is always a poor shadow of the real thing.

In Time for Christmas, ( my novella in the anthology Christmas Romance at Dickens on Main), I address being in the middle of overwhelming events and walking moment by moment without worry. Why? Because, I have a tendency (I'm getting better) to want to plan out and fix tomorrow. I love when Jesus says that each day has enough trouble of its own, but seek God first and He'll take care of things.

In the next few weeks, I have another new novella coming out: The Christmas Village of Joy, in the anthology Christmas Village Miracles. The topic is how God takes can trade our sorrows for comfort and JOY! I'm usually the calm, collected one. Shouldn't I be writing about peace or hope? LOL Those two villages were already taken in the anthology. To write about joy was a God-given challenge. He makes me smile, and I'm so glad for the chance to write about it.(My love of fruitcake comes through!)

JR: Thank you very much for your time. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas. (Though I try to have a Joseph Christmas instead of a Merry one.)

SG: LOL, Isn't God amazing! That He would give up everything and be born as a baby, live a sinless life that I can't achieve no matter how hard I try, take my punishment by dying on the cross, resurrect, and turn around and offer me eternal forgiveness and life with Him... I'm blown away by His love! Have a very Merry Christmas! God has blessed us, everyone!
Feel free to follow my blog: or find my author page on under Stephanie Guerrero. God bless you. Thanks, Jeff.

JR:  You're welcome. And I'd like to thank the Hoosier Ink staff for allowing me to post this extra slot so I can get this interview posted in a timely manner to help with your Christmas shopping. (And Stephanie's books would be a better Christmas present than a T-shirt saying "Sarcasm is another service I offer.")

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review

Cedar Creek Seasons

by Eileen Key, Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips & Cynthia Ruchti

Romancing America
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Ulrichsville, Ohio

350 pages
ISBN: 978-1-61626-645-5

The elections were over, and I was ready for a vacation. As God would have it, I met Rachael Phillips at the autumn ACFW-Indiana Chapter luncheon on the north side of Indy. Post-meeting, we lingered over coffee and a sweet treat with fellow writers Ramona K. Cecil and Millie Nelson Samuelson. As we were saying our farewells, Rachael offered me an all-expense paid getaway trip to Cedarburg, Wisconsin!

All right. I must tell the truth and shame the devil. What she actually said was, "Would you be an influencer for this book?" I hesitated ever so briefly. I occasionally review books, but I'm choosy. I will not write a negative review. Though I may point out what I perceive to be a weakness, the general tone of my reviews will be positive--or I'll abstain from writing it.

We've all heard, "You can't judge a book by its cover," but I disagree. The cover of Cedar Creek Seasons has several things going for it. It's appealing. It features an autumn scene; fall is one of my four favorite seasons. (Yeah, I know. That doesn't make sense. What can I say? I love Indiana where each season struts its own beauty.) It has a covered bridge. (Who doesn't love covered bridges?) Then there are the writers: Eileen, Becky, Indiana's own Rachael, and Cynthia--all solid scribes with whom I am familiar, having read their previous novella collection, A Door County Christmas, and Eileen's Dog Gone.  With all that going for the book, I eagerly accepted her invitation and soon was on my way to Cedarburg.

"Love Blooms in Every Season of Life," the back cover blurb headline, has a duo-meaning since the novellas of Cedar Creek Seasons feature protagonists in four life seasons, and each story gives the reader opportunity to enjoy Cedarburg in a different season.

A Contest of Wills by Becky Melby

It's winter when Cedarburg holds a contest. The entrant who garners the most votes from shoppers will win space in the town's historic district rent free for a year. Forty-something Willow Miles finds herself in fierce competition with artist Wilson Woodworth. Willow builds unique children's furniture and has outgrown her present area. A spot in the historic district would give her the room she needs and place her wares on the path of Cedarburg's many tourists. Wilson wants the space as a gallery for his paintings. The contest goes from friendly to fierce as the day draws near for the winner to be announced.

In Tune With You by Rachael Phillips

Chesca Appel, the twenty-five-year-old part-time choral director at Christ the King Church, is ready to begin rehearsals for the Easter cantata. She has carefully selected the music to ensure a magnificent worshipful performance. All is well until the pastor requests that she add drama and children to the program. To help out, he brings in Seth Amundsen, the tone-deaf school football coach, who loves both drama and kids. Seth, in turn, introduces his own cast of characters: several members of the football team, an obstinate donkey, and sheep. Amid all the chaos, enter one beguiling ex-fiancée and her brassy mama. This cantata is to be one Chesca will never forget.

Silvery Summer by Eileen Key

It's not personal. It's business. Recently retired Claire Parsons returns to Cedarburg with daughter Melissa simply as a vendor, to sell her pottery during the Strawberry Festival. She has no intentions of rekindling the embers of a long-dead romance with Eli Mueller. He broke her heart once. She wouldn't let it happen again. Besides, who knew if he was even still around? He is. Banners and flyers proclaiming his role in sponsoring the festival abound. His face is everywhere she looks--older than the face that haunts her memories, but just as handsome. Once he realizes she is in town, he tries to woo her again. But can cold embers be revived?

Eileen proved in Dog Gone she has a way with writing romance that features mature characters, so I knew I would thoroughly enjoy her contribution. Silvery Summer lives up to my expectations.

Maybe Us by Cynthia Ruchti

(I love word plays, and the title of this novella is that, since the main character knits and sells moebius scarves. Moebius, if slightly mispronounced, sounds like maybe us.)

Beth Schurmer, just five years out of college, can't be bothered with love. It has gotten in the way too many times in the past, and she won't let herself get sidetracked again. Her plate is full, thank you, what with caring for her beloved Oompa and managing his Yarn Shop (which, by the way, is another play on words, since her grandfather revels in telling stories to all who will listen--and many come in to do just that). When chocolatier Derrick Hofferman, who is nearly seven feet tall, sets up shop just two doors down, he enlists Beth as his official brownie sampler. She loves chocolate, so that works out well. Derrick and Oompa hit it off immediately. Derrick often leaves his own business unattended to listen to Oompa's tales. As autumn progresses, Beth, Oompa, and Derrick form a strong yarn of three strands. How far will the metaphor extend? Will the yarn be knitted into an unending moebius?

I thoroughly enjoyed my post-election getaway to Cedarburg, Wisconsin, which is near Milwaukee. I checked out the town online and vicariously walked the historic district and the path to the rustic covered bridge pictured on the cover, the only one still standing in Wisconsin.

Christmas gift suggestion: Couple Cedar Creek Seasons with A Door County Christmas.

Review by Sharon Kirk Clifton

Know any young writers and readers? Invite them to visit Quirky Quill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Writer's Review of Siri Mitchell's 'The Messenger' ~~ by member blogger Dawn Crandall

I spent every spare moment of the last few days reading this book until it was finished. This was such a good book! At first I wasnt sure if I was going to like it, but the two characters quickly changed my mind and just kept drawing me in further and further. They were both so... different.

Hannah Sunderland was so quaint saying her thees instead of yous and so darn unabashedly straight-forward! I could really tell at the beginning of the book she was a little lost, caught right smack dab in the middle-ground of having no side in the Revolutionary War since she was raised as a Quaker. I could also tell when she went from just being what any Quaker maiden was supposed be... to living with her her own convictions, but all the while staying just as true to herself as she did to everyone else. 

And the hero, Jeremiah Jones... wow. He really had a ways to grow on me... which he did. Just as he slowly grew on Hannah. The love that slowly grew between them was just plain adorable. There weren't a ton of physical descriptions, or even much description at all since the book was written from first person point of view and the reader is really only able to see what a particular character would be noticing.

And not a single (real) kiss in the whole thing!?! There were lots of displays of affection" that only went as far as hugging (with one arm... so sweet!) and kisses on hair... And all this coming from a writer/reader (me, that is) who is madly obsessed with the romantic passion portrayed in all of Julie Lessmans books! But oh, did this book have passion! It was tied up in their love and in their beliefs and their duty to do what they could... no matter the cost. And it was just so subtle and reserved... so like Hannah and Jeremiah themselves. Which, as it turns out, was a very interesting twist, since Hannah and Jeremiah were polar opposite in every way possible besides this very important aspect.    

Siri Mitchell is an amazing writer. She does first person so well! But so differently than others may write it. Since I also write from first person point of view, I have a particular love-affair with it... especially when I see it so well done... the way Siri Mitchell always writes it. The Messenger was even half written from the heros perspective... which I dont see often done. And I ended up loving it... a lot.

This, put quite plainly, is one of the best books Ive read in a very long time.

My FAVORITE part of the book was one sentence in the second to last scene, on the second to last page. I'm not going to tell you what it is because I want it to perhaps hit you as it did me. Square in the chest. All I will tell you is that I think I'll probably be carrying around that one moment from this book for the rest of my life.      

Bethany House Publishers provided me with a paperback copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I give Siri Mitchells The Messenger 5 (bright and shining) stars.

Dawn Crandall writes long inspirational historical romantic suspense from first person point of view and is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She has written two books which are on submission as part of a series, and is working on the third. Soon after finishing her first book and becoming a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in July 2011 she attended the ACFW national conference where she gained literary representation and soon-after became a 2012 ACFW Genesis Contest Semi-Finalist. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University, writes full-time and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive engineer husband, Jonathan, and their two cats, Lilly and Pumpkin. Dawn co-hosts a book review blog called A Passion for Pages at and tweets those reviews at @dawnwritesfirst. To find out more about her, visit her author webpage at or her Facebook author page:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The (Other) Value of Church as a Writer

By Darren Kehrer

I’m sure there are many of us that do not have full time writing careers. I know I am one of them. My “other life” is one that is submerged in the retail world. As you might imagine, this time of year is even more stressful than the other months of the year.

But even in non-holiday months, my life (and I’ll bet yours) is complex and just plain busy. Everything and everyone is trying to throw a wager in for our time. Each day is full of distractions. Trying to balance my “day job” with my writing time becomes more difficult as the “business of life” progresses like the hands of a clock.

As a writer, my mind is constantly sketching plots, characters, and story ideas onto the iPad screen in my mind. To be blunt: there’s just a lot of stuff going on in my mind. At times, all that clutter can actually hinder my writing efforts....

Then comes Sunday and, of course, Church. 

As Christians, the value of Church would seem to be a “no brainer.”
    • Education
    • Spiritual guidance
    • Fellowship with like minded people
    • A chance to give back financially
    • Praise and worship musically

Recently, however, I have discovered an often overlooked value of attending Church as a writer: the stillness and peace my mind experiences while at Church. 

While all the other “stuff” we experience at Church serves to give our minds a distraction from the daily grind (from both our day job and our writing), I find that being at Church forces me to, as my wife says, sit still and be in one place at one time with a complete focus on what’s in front of me. It forces me to relax and thus relieve tension and stress. It’s like a breathing exercise for your mind. 

If you’re lucky, you might occasionally notice a little note in your mind, one that was logged as an idea for a story you just gleaned from listening to the sermon.

I have found that, after attending Church, my muse seems to flow again after being bottled up by stress and the frustration of daily life. The next time you're at Church, relax, breathe, and let the muse out of the bottle.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ye Shall Know Them By Their T-Shirts

By Jeff Reynolds

On a vacation earlier this year, my wife Becky and I stopped at a rest area. As I headed to the restroom, a gentleman walked out wearing a T-Shirt which read, “Sarcasm is another service I provide.”

A second later, it hit me. I need a line on my character profiles listing what T-shirts they have.

After all, the slogan shirts someone has tells something about them. They also can make a first impression. For example, one weekend I was reading at Lazy Daze Coffeehouse when a young girl and her friends came in. Her shirt read, “Cute is what I aim for.” Over it, she wore a sweater with a pattern of alternating roses and poison symbols.

Bumper stickers and posters can be included in that section. In my WIP, my main character leaves his teen-age daughter in the car as he visits a friend at the hospital. When he leaves, he takes a look at an empty car and wondered if the girl ran off. Then, he notices bumper stickers on the car he thinks at his and realizes that definitely isn't his car.

Side note. In this case, I used bumper stickers that the character would not use. The fact that he wouldn't have certain bumper stickers reveal his character just as clearly as one he would have.

I have several T-shirts with sayings on them. Some were given to me when I was a member of the YMCA in Tennessee ages ago, that rarely are worn off my property. A pair were acquired at work. Another four are from political campaigns, two of which were successful and two which weren't. (One of the two was for my former state rep – last year's redistricting gave me both a different state rep and state senator.)

I also have two T-shirts from Voice of the Martyrs. The first has the VOM logo on the front pocket and on the back the eyes of a lion with the words, “It didn't end at the Roman Coliseum. Christians Still Die.” The other's back features Romans 1:16 on the back while the front informs you, “This shirt is illegal in 52 countries” and lets you know how many countries are restricted (where official government policy persecutes believers) and how many are hostile (where the government's not involved but there are attacks on believers by the general population).

T-shirts and posters promoting certain musicians, actors, and movies/concert tours are another means of revealing something about the character. For that matter, so is sports paraphernalia. I remember a story of someone wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey early in '06, after they eliminated the Colts in the playoffs due to a missed field goal attempt. The name on the back of the jersey was Vanderjagt. If that name doesn't ring a bell, he was the Colts' field goal kicker that year.

The sports outfit reflects something about the person. If a character in Indianapolis is wearing a Manning jersey, is that jersey for the Colts, the Broncos, or the New York Giants? If he's wearing a Colts shirt, is the setting Indy, Baltimore, Boston, Nashville, or Beijing? If the name on the back is Tebow, it reflects something about the character regardless of whether the jersey is Broncos or Jets, or for that matter the city the character is in.

Hope my hints are helpful. Sometimes things like T-Shirts and bumper stickers help with developing personality. So does a blog. Today's blog, for example, let's you know that my genre of writing probably isn't historical romance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Goodbye Copyright

As you eat turkey today, you probably won't think about those Christmas cards you intend to start working on tomorrow. Or maybe you will.

You wonder about buying them while you are at the Black Friday sales. But trying to find the Christ Child among all those "seasons greetings" is depressing.

So if you're like me, you make your own. Or maybe you write a newsy e-mail instead. Either way, you may want to include a verse from your favorite Christmas carol. Can you?"

As my father used to say, "You can, but may you?"  (Groan.)

It depends on how old it is.

"Silent Night"? No problem. It was written in 1818 and any copyright protection expired long ago.

"The Little Drummer Boy"? Sorry. Its copyright was registered in 1959 and renewed in 1987, so you need permission.

But how do you know when a copyright expires and the work passes into the public domain? The term is governed by statute, and Congress changes it from time to time. As a result, the length of protection depends on when the work was created, published, or registered.

If the work was published before 1923, the answer is easy. It's in the public domain and you can use it any way you want.

If it was created in 1978 or later, the earliest it will enter the public domain is 2048. For most of these works, the copyright term is the life of the author plus 70 years. If the author died in 1986, the copyright expires in 2056. If she died in 2006, the copyright expires in 2076. And if the author is still living, all you can know for sure is that the copyright will last at least another 70 years.

If the material you want to quote was a work for hire or the author is unknown, other rules apply. And if it was created, published, or registered from 1923 through 1977, the law gets even more complicated. For more information on these expiration dates, go to and download Circular 15A.

Because a copyright lawsuit is even more terrifying than the Black Friday sales.

Kathryn Page Camp

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We Interrupt to Bring You This Important Message

by Rachael Phillips

You’ve never been interrupted in the middle of a writing session, have you?

You’ve never experienced a spouse’s announcement of the dire lack of his favorite toothpaste. The outbreak of head lice or equally pestilent math homework in your daughter’s class. The phone call from a distant relative—only, not distant enough—who imprisons you for an hour with pleadings for a) money b) sympathy c) more money d) more sympathy and e) all of the above.


If you haven’t been interrupted, may I move in with you? I’m dying to see what it’s like.

I bet I will—die, not move in with you—before I experience a writing session or project without some sort of disruption. 

Still, why should this surprise me? After all, people interrupted Jesus’ work, whining at His elbow, yanking on His robe, tearing off roofs (at least, my grandchildren haven’t tried that yet). 

I certainly do not rate above the Master Author, who has written His love on the lives of so many and has imprinted His love on our hearts.

Yes, we can and should eliminate as many secondary distractions as we can in order to follow the calling God has given us. We may have to sacrifice membership in the Lacrosse Preservation League or the Church Carpet Committee. We may even have to say “no” to excellent causes and defy our personal Guiltzilla, who stalks us every time we don’t sign our names on someone else’s dotted line. Occasionally, changes in our phone numbers, Facebook screenings or front door locks are absolutely necessary. Our mates may even have to [*gasp*] buy their favorite toothpaste without our assistance.

Sometimes, though, opportunities appear, disguised as interruptions. 

A child who is struggling in school—and the fact his mother lives a thousand miles away.

An aged parent who slogs our brains and patience with endlessly repeated stories well past their expiration date. 

Fun friends who contract awful diseases.


Opportunities offered by God to stretch, to share and help absorb the pain—and to feed it in a redeemed form into our writing.

So we can interrupt others’ lives with the enriched messages He has given us. 

What about you? What “interruption” has God sent you lately?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fun with marketing

First off, apologies for this being late. Our dog seemed sick this week. When we took her to the vet, they discovered medical problems requiring surgery we can't afford. So we lost our good old blue heeler, Yosefina, tonight. Anyway ...

My attempts at marketing our novella collection took some unexpected twists and turns last weekend. Marketing to me seems challenging. Like a lot of people I'm afraid of sounding proud and braggadocious as the kids say, but want to do my best to get the news out about what I've written.

Since Barbour Publishing released "Quakers of New Garden" as an e-book this fall, that gave me a hook, a reason to send out an e-mail update.

To my surprise, I heard back from the Levi Coffin House Association. They invited me to their annual banquet and gave me an opportunity to talk about my story, which was set at the historic home in Fountain City (Newport).

What made the event sweeter was talking to volunteers who remembered my late grandmother during her time as a volunteer. Several other folks know my parents. I have not lived in the area for almost 30 years so talking about family and old friends was refreshing.

The manager of the historic site said they are always glad to have more exposure for the house.

I also touched base with a reporter from my hometown paper, who mentioned that she planned to include my story in a round-up of other books by local authors.

At that point I made a vivid impression by discovering I had lost my car keys, so the reporter and Coffin House volunteers teamed up to help me find them. Glad to report that instead of dropping them down a storm drain as I had feared, they had slipped through a hole in the lining of my purse.

The next day my folks saved a corner of their table for books at the Richmond YWCA Christmas Village. There I got to talk to lots of people, sold a few books and later helped my parents folks pack up their artwork.

This attempt at marketing was a lot more fun than I expected!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Possess the Territory God Gives You

When the Children of Israel looked out to see the land the LORD was giving them, they were amazed, and maybe still a little fearful of what that possession might mean. But they had to understand that it would not be gained in their power. They had to be strong and courageous in God's strength, not their own, and this message had to come from their new leader, Joshua. God took time to encourage Joshua so the group would possess their land. 

And this is also applicable to writers. We do not obtain success in our own strength or by our own wonderful writing.But we also need to take the steps to gain that possession of our success. Listening to what God has told ancient leaders can also be applied to our own journey. 

In Joshua 1: 3 God tells them: "I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses."

God is encouraging Joshua to possess this Promise, this tangible land, that was originally promised to Abraham. He's being warm and tender as He tells him where this land He wants them to possess is, laying out the boundaries. God also can lay out the borders of our writing territory if we are listening to Him. Does it concern genre? Yes, it could. Topics? Theme? Where you spend your time in your writing career? Of course.

Further on in Joshua 1: 5 He encourages, "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you."

And He doesn't stop there.

Joshua 1:6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people [us] to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7: "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go."

Being "strong and courageous" is repeated three times and we know that when God does this, it is extremely important. (vs. 6,7, 9) 

Applying this to your writing, note these things:

1. You do not do your writing or achieve success (God's success might look different than the world's version of success!) in your own power. It's by God's strength alone. 

2. Be strong and courageous. Write the tough things and possess that territory that God is giving you! Don't be afraid of it.

3. Accept God's encouragement and rest in it. How many times have we been discouraged in this writing journey? It happens. Go back and read Joshua 1 as many times as you need to.

4. God never leaves you. You can try to shut Him out or push Him back but He doesn't leave you. Sometimes you aren't even aware of how much He is carrying you! So be comforted by that, embrace Him in your life when you can't see Him. Embrace Him in your writing. 

5. Do the work. Take the steps you need to in order to possess the Promised Land.   

Are you tripping yourself up on any of this as you seek to possess the territory that God has given you in writing? You don't have to share your specific flaws, but if you can give encouragement to writers here, please let us know what helps you to move on in God's grace and mercy. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Keep Writing Even When________________: the Why and the How

Life can hit all at once. This October my husband left the country while I stayed behind to pack for a major move. So far, so good until a dear family member became gravely ill. Almost everything—boxing, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and especially writing—went out the 5th story hospital window while we watched, advocated and prayed.

Today my husband is safely home, nearly everything has found its way into a box, and best of all, our beloved is on the mend. There is time to consider how to handle crisis better when it returns. Specifically I’m asking why and especially how to keep writing.

Why keep writing through the storm? Writing can help us remember the rawness of our emotions. Fears, worries, frustrations wash over us like dark waves on a surging sea, and no one emerges unchanged. Writing can chronicle the passage.

Writing can relieve some of the tension that builds through intense conflict. Our writing likely will not flow; it will probably sputter and pop, and that is appropriate. Writing ought to reflect thoughts and emotions, even when they are difficult to express and conflicted.

Writing can help us make sense of what we hear from physicians and family, allowing us to order thoughts, form questions, and make requests and decisions. Writing can restore sanity.

Writing can remind us of what matters most. Grave illness invites deeper, more vulnerable conversations. We return to the really important. The rush of life outside the hospital can seem futile—even silly—compared to the hush of sitting at the side of a beloved.

But how do we keep writing when we’re distracted, anxious and weary? This is a harder question. Here are some possibilities.

Steal away —maybe to a cafeteria, a waiting area on another floor, an off campus coffee shop, a car or even a bathroom just down the hall.

Play music that soothes and infuses hope and joy into the soul.

Allow Scripture to diagnose, comfort and cleanse. Respond in writing if you are able.

Calamity invites prayer. Why not write your prayers just as David often did, his?

Doubtless there are other ways to keep ourselves writing. What have you done even when __________________________?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Christian Writers Events

As I write this, I’m happily sandwiched between two Christian writers events. (No apostrophe, please, because the events are FOR the writers, NOT owned by them.) Both events are nearby. Lucky me!
What’s so great about these events? Why do I wear my writer’s smile for annual events like these?
SEVEN REASONS come quickly to mind:
1 – Spiritual renewal! I remember being caught off guard by this renewing experience at the first Christian writers event I attended decades ago. WOW – what an uplift my soul received! Thank you, Lord! And it happens again and again. . .
2 – Fellowship connections! Who knew that like-minded, like-driven writers can become instant good friends, even living hundreds of miles apart! Another WOW! Even after decades of these special new friends, I still look forward to the meal-time fellowship and other connection opportunities at writers events.
3 – Face-to-face networking! Especially with editors, publishers, and successful authors. And I hope that one of these days, more marketing experts will be in attendance. Since I’m independently published, marketing is one of my growing needs.
4 – Creativity refill! Surely that explains itself. For this very reason, last weekend I attended the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference. The third novel in my trilogy has been on hold most of this year, and now I’m ready to resume writing. Last weekend provided just the creativity refill I need to zoom ahead to completion.
5 – New information! King Solomon said, “Of the writing of books, there is no end.” I say, “Of the knowledge of the craft of writing and publishing, there is no end.” Writers events keep us authors up-dated and progressing.
6 – Craft review! What Cec Murphy said recently about himself is also true for me. Writers eventually reach a point when they need to review what they’ve forgotten or neglected. And there’s no more inspiring place to do so than at a writers event like the one I’m going to tomorrow in Indianapolis. Bob Hostetler will be speaking to the Indiana Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers on the topic, “Write Better Right Now.” Just for the record, his book, The Bone Box, is one of the most intriguing Biblical and historical novels I’ve ever read.
7 – NEW BOOKS! They’re the pecan pie for me at writers events. Both to browse and buy from the event bookstores. Need I say more?
I look forward to fellowshipping with many of you Hoosier Ink-ers tomorrow during our quarterly meeting. See you there!
Millie Samuelson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Writer's Review of Lynn Austin's 'Wonderland Creek' ~~ by member blogger Dawn Crandall

I checked Wonderland Creek out through my local library last week--onto my kindle. I’ve read one other book by Lynn Austin—the only other one I knew to be written in first person point of view, A Proper Pursuit. And perhaps over the years I started to wonder if she’d only written that one book in first person just to see if she could do it well (which she did—an amazing job, in fact!), and stopped looking after so long. 

Well, somehow in the last month or so I found out about her book Wonderland Creek, which came out last year. It wasn’t one I needed to read to review on A Passion For Pages... but one of those books that I just simply wanted to make time for. And I am so glad I did!

Alice Ripley is an adorable protagonist who has everything she ever wanted within hand’s reach... a steady, safe boyfriend, a job at the local library... and all the books in the world to read... and the time to read them. Only she loses her boyfriend and her job in the same day, and suddenly realizes that without them her “real” life had become rather boring...  and that she’d been doing most of her living through the pages of her favorite books.

Alice finds herself deserted in Acorn, KY—dropped off by her eccentric aunt and uncle—to deliver the boxes of books she’d been collecting for the start-up library ran by Miss Leslie McDougal. Only Leslie McDougal isn’t a miss, but a very scruffy young man who (of course) goes by the name Mack... and who is much more than he first seems.

I really liked the whole aspect of Alice being lost in Wonderland—only to find that she wasn’t really lost at all, but constantly finding herself and a real living faith in God past the Sunday School verses she’d had memorized. There was also a very sweet romance involved in the book—however the main story was about Alice learning that life wasn’t all about her and her books.

I give Lynn Austin's Wonderland Creek 5 Stars.


Dawn Crandall writes long inspirational historical romantic suspense from first person point of view and is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She has written two books which are on submission as part of a series, and is working on the third. Soon after finishing her first book and becoming a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in July 2011 she attended the ACFW national conference where she gained literary representation and soon-after became a 2012 ACFW Genesis Contest Semi-Finalist. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University, writes full-time and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive engineer husband, Jonathan, and their two cats, Lilly and Pumpkin. Dawn co-hosts a book review blog called A Passion for Pages at and tweets those reviews at @dawnwritesfirst. To find out more about her, visit her author webpage at or her Facebook author page:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Genesis Judges

In the months leading up to ACFW Conference, contestants wore knee-shaped holes in the rugs beside their beds and judges in the first two rounds kept a low profile, maintaining secret identities. I’m not suggesting they donned trench coats and fedoras, but anonymity helps protect the integrity in the contest. These judges are acknowledged at the conference banquet. However, the final round judges are posted as soon as they are confirmed.

According to Pam Meyers, Genesis Coordinator, “When people see that certain editors or agents are going to be judging the final round in a given category it increases the interest in entering the contest.” Even so, to a contestant, it can seem as if the whole judging process is somehow mysterious.

Pam added, “The final round judges don't necessarily have a different score sheet (than the previous judges, which is available on the website). We always give them one as a guideline of what to look for in the entries, but they are not required to score every element listed on the score sheet. All we need from them is an all-around score for the entry. Of course if they want to make comments regarding the entry, they are more than welcome to do that.”

By the end of September, excitement over this year’s contest had pretty much quieted except for the winner, who can possibly still be seen on clear nights orbiting the earth. It was then that I contacted, Jeff Gerke, the owner and editor of Marcher Lord Press, to get the perspective from the viewpoint of a final round judge.  

Jeff had judged Genesis twice before and knew what he was getting into when he was approached by the contest coordinator. So why did he do it? He laughed. “Mainly because I was asked.”

Jeff went on to explain that the contest coordinators have made the judging very easy. “The biggest difficulty is making sure my scores are consistent across all the entries I judge. I’m not the only judge, even in the final round, so my average scoring level might be higher or lower than other judges. I can’t worry about that. I just call ‘em as I see ‘em.” This year, he received three entries, but recused himself from those he’d already seen as a freelance editor.

“Not many contests are based on just the first fifteen pages of a novel,” Jeff said. “It’s an interesting idea. I usually can spot fantastic writing in the first ten plus pages. Now, whether or not the author can keep it up until the end of the novel is another story.” In his experience, it’s possible to become interested enough in a story that he would request seeing a complete manuscript from even a non-winning participant.

What advice did Jeff offer to future Genesis finalists? “Don’t worry if you enter and get disheartening or even conflicting feedback from judges. There is no ‘right’ way of writing fiction, but pretty much every fiction expert will tell you there is. Only their right way is diametrically opposed to the other guy’s right way. Don’t take it all too seriously. Almost nobody makes more than $5,000/year writing Christian fiction, even authors you’ve heard of, so keep working on your fiction for the love of the task only, not for hope of riches.”
Good advice, Jeff. So to Jeff Gerke and all the other Genesis judges, thank you and God bless. We’ll do it all again next year.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Writing Cave part 2

Karla's Cave Desk

Last month I posted about how much I love writing from my chair in the living room. But family dynamics have changed in my house with a "boomerang kid" (read: adult child moves back home), and his social life. So I've found myself spending more and more time in my writing cave. Don't get me wrong, I love my cave. There's something about being surrounded by my favorite things (books) that makes me feel peaceful. Books make great sound barriers. I can't hear much in here and likewise no one can hear me when I call for them. (I know this because I fell in here once and no one came to help!)

Karla's Cave 2

I have shelves of books, yes, hard copy books, going all around the room and book shelves back to back going down the middle. It's the books down the middle of the room that make for such a great "sound booth." When I do a podcast in here, it doesn't pick up any noise from outside the room (you know, like the kids tying the dogs' tails together and laughing at them running in opposite directions through the house, or sword fights with swimming pool noodles, that sort of thing).

I don't hoard books for the sake of hoarding books. I give away many more than I keep. But I do keep a lot of my books because of research. Yes, I've read all the books in the room except for the ones on that top right hand shelf. That's my "to be read" pile. It's two books deep. I'm a little behind on my "reading for leisure" books. But it's rare anymore that I find a book that I can lose myself in fiction-wise because I'm always looking at the mechanics of it. Do you have that same issue? I do that with movies, too. "Oh, that's a great conflict." "Excellent character trait," etc.

I must confess that my Kindle is just as full of books as my cave. And more and more I prefer reading my Kindle (on my iPad) than a hard copy book with one exception: I buy hard copy books for my research because I like marking in them. I find that more difficult to do on an electronic device. Sure, you can highlight, make notes, etc, but I find it faster to mark up a hard copy book and then remember where that information was. Is that true for you as well?

I have a DO NOT DISTURB placard on my door but everyone ignores it. Not relevant if it's Mom in there. Mom always wants to be disturbed. Or is already disturbed. Can't remember which one of those excuses they use.

As for my desk, it may look busy, but it's organized. I know where everything is. I use magazine file boxes to file papers that I need access to on a regular basis as well as writing notebooks and journals I use when I'm on the road (read: doctor's office waiting rooms, etc.). Most of the papers have to do with my special needs' kids' health, but I also have time management files, research files, etc., right at my finger tips this way.

I like to use little square baskets and small wooden crates on my shelves for those little gift-size-type books such as small devotionals. It seems like those little books always get pushed to the back of the big books and lost. I like being able to see each book.

I'm not an organizing queen but I do like to have things where I know they are. In future posts I'll share some organizing secrets from other parts of my office.

Until then, write on! And please share your thoughts concerning my two questions: as a writer, when you read fiction, do you find yourself noticing the mechanics more than the story? And what about research? Kindle or hard copy?

 Karla Akins is a pastor's wife, mother of five, grandma to five beautiful little girls and author of the best-selling Jacques Cartier (that went #1 on Amazon in its category) and O Canada! Her Story.  Her debut novel The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots  was sold to Pelican Book Group and due out in 2013. One of her columns on was featured on the CNN homepage. Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, she lives in North Manchester with her husband, twin teenage boys with autism, mother-in-law with Alzheimer's and three rambunctious dogs. When she's not writing she dreams of riding her motorcycle through the Smoky Mountains.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

About That Daily Quota

Following the advice of James Scott Bell and innumerable other writers' coaches, I've set myself a daily quota of words to be written. A modest goal, I grant you--just 350 words--but I'm amazed at how long I may agonize over that double-spaced page. And I don't write at all on more days than I'd care to admit.

At this rate, my novel of 70,000 words will take forever to complete!

So I did a crazy-gutsy thing last month. I accepted assignment to write a 50-page nonfiction e-book in ten days. Simple arithmetic reveals that's 5 pages a day, or 5 times my normal quota. And I completed the assignment on time.

This insane marathon taught me several things:
  • I waste a lot of time self-editing my first draft. Better to forge ahead and write that crummy draft (apologies to Anne Lamott) and deal with self-editing later.
  • I waste a lot of time with distractions. Checking my e-mail, checking my voice mail, checking my carrier-pigeon roost. (OK, I'm exaggerating, but not by much.)
  • I waste a lot of time with superfluous research--in the middle of a sentence! What year was it that my subject went to Argentina, etc.? I find that nagging detail, but uncover another curious fact in the process, which sends me down a rabbit trail of other trivia.
  • The long and short of it is, I waste too much time!
Perhaps my real problem is performance anxiety. October's forced march of 1,750 words a day certainly gave me no time to worry about how well I was doing. (I suspect this is one of the greatest benefits of participating in NaNoWriMo as well.)

The rest of the story: My client liked the first draft so much that he's asked me to double the length of the book (at more than twice the fee). He calls the first 50 pages "compelling." Go figure.

Joe Allison and his wife, Judy, live in Anderson IN, where Joe serves as Coordinator of Publishing for Church of God Ministries, Inc. Joe has several nonfiction books in print, including Swords and Whetstones: A Guide to Christian Bible Study Resources. He's currently writing a trilogy of Christian historical novels set in the Great Depression.

Visit Joe's blog at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beware of Blog Overload

Writers have always faced obstacles. Lack of skill with grammar. Lack of inspiration. Lack of technique. Lack of knowledge concerning the publishing process. Lack of a literary agent. The list goes on, but so often the barriers seem to be a lack of one item or another. In an effort to solve these deficits, some would-be authors get bogged down in a massive, new quagmire: blog overload.

Yes, blogs can be great. By following the blogs of experienced agents, editors, and fellow writers, any aspiring author can tap into unlimited knowledge concerning the publishing biz. Without visiting the library or even subscribing to Writer's Digest, you can receive a wealth of advice and insider information for free! All you need is a computer, a mouse, and one finger for clicking.

There's the danger. Free insider tips can become intoxicating. You want to write better, right now, so why be stingy on yourself when the info comes gratis? Your finger goes to work clicking and subscribing to blog after blog. Some of these web logs are more helpful than others, but hey, since they're free, what's the harm in following them, right? Besides, your fellow writers appreciate it when you subscribe. They're delighted when you leave comments on what they've written.

Before you know it, you've clicked your way into a veritable Niagara of writing lore. Your craft gets swamped by endless cascades of tips, questions, answers, pet peeves, query letters, good proposals, lousy proposals, success stories, horror stories, examples to imitate and bad examples to shun. If finding time to write was hard before, now it becomes nearly impossible because the multitude of blogs consumes all your spare minutes. Worse, each blog that gushes about yet another writer's new contract for a 20-book series paralyzes you.

"Why don't I get offers like that?" you wonder. "What do they know that I don't?" So you plunge back into the endless current of blogs in search of the ever-elusive secrets to success.

Don't. Blog overload can smother your writing career. Whittle down that list of blogs you follow. Pick three, maybe four, that deliver the most precious nuggets of gold and stick to them. Don't worry about that new friend from the conference being offended if you stop commenting. Don't fret about not having your name and avatar plastered in daily comments all across the web.

Now, use those freed-up minutes to add new sentences and paragraphs to push your manuscript forward each day. This way, you'll still be learning, but you'll also be applying that new knowledge and creating manuscripts of your own.

Happy writing!

Rick Barry has been freelancing articles and short stories for over twenty years. His two novels to date are Gunner's Run and Kiriath's Quest.