THE MUSE: Don’t Wait For Her, Track That Lady Down

In this season of my life (in the midst of grieving for the loss of my mom), I am having some difficulty finding the writing muse. Mind you, this is not the first time that muse has been tricky with me. Sometimes I find that the house has to be perfectly straight, all my mom chores done (like that ever happens), and I have to be in my office, at my desk, in the zone, with the right music, and my mouth in just the right position…you know what I’m saying?

Well, life doesn’t really allow for that, does it? If I waited for that, I’d write maybe two sentences a month. We can’t always wait for the muse to come to us. We gotta track her down. That calls for a little flexibility and a little determination.


Yes, it would be nice if everything could work out as in my above scenario. But I have had to learn to quiet those OCDish tendencies in myself (or just change my locale to a coffee shop and escape the nagging mom-to-do-list-voice in my head) and focus on my work. That calls for flexibility in my environment. I have found that, with a little flexibility, very few things have to be in place for me to get writing done. Truly only two: my computer (with Scrivener in the “compose” mode – if you don’t know about this, you need to find out) and my music with headphones. I have discovered that with those two things, I can write almost anywhere. Today I’m actually at my friend’s house…she is baking up a storm and her kiddos are screaming like banshees. But I’m still writing.


I’ve talked about determination before. As a writer, it is essential. You are going to be the one who cares the most about your work. And whether or not it gets done. So, when you sit down and can’t get going, you have to make the decision to “make it work” as it were. Journal about something completely off topic from your manuscript, write through a writing prompt you find on the internet, free write about one of your character’s opinions about something…just write. Get the pump primed. Then return to your manuscript. You might discover that the muse has shown up. Writing as a career becomes a job. It’s not just a hobby. If you want to be serious, you have to write whether you feel like it or not. The requires determination.

So, what’s it gonna be? Are you going to be the kind of writer that only writes when the mood hits you? When the inspiration is present? Or will you find that flexibility and determination to make a real go of it? To make it more than a hobby?

A LITTLE OFF TOPIC: Dealing with Grief

Hey, everyone…sorry I haven’t blogged in a little while. I’ve found myself in a hard place. My mother passed away unexpectedly on April 9th. She’s not the first person in my life that I have lost. Not even the first close relationship to have lost to death. But she was my mom. And that makes it different.

And so I have been going through a myriad of emotions. Memories have flooded to the surface…some that make me laugh, some that make me ache. Then a couple of days ago, I realized that the especially difficult place I found myself in was uncomfortably familiar. Depression.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Most of us are aware that there are 5 stages of the grieving process. But I didn’t really delve into it until this week. And here’s what I found at PsychCentral and I will attempt to summarize what I learned.

Grief and its Stages

There are 5 accepted stages of grief. However everyone grieves differently. The stages are not necessarily a roadmap, they are more like guidelines. People in mourning will not necessarily go through the stages linearly or even hit all the stages. They may feel one stage, then another, and jump back to a previous stage because the stages are a response to our feelings. We also spend unpredictable amounts of time in each stage and experience the stages with varying intensities. Some things are the same for most people though:

  • you will move through at least some of the stages toward ACCEPTANCE
  • you will typically think of your own mortality

Another thing to note is that everyone grieves differently. I’ve seen this in my own family. I process things outwardly. I always have. While I have a close family member that deals with these sorts of things in a more private way. It is important not to judge how others grieve. It is personal.


The first reaction to great loss is to deny the reality of the situation. We go numb and just try to survive. The world is meaningless and overwhelming. Life just doesn’t make sense anymore. Denial actually helps pace all the emotions of grief. This is a defense and it’s totally normal. It carries you through the first wave of pain, only letting in what we can handle. but at some point, we ask ourselves questions and opens us up to the healing process. Those denied feelings come to the surface.

I did experience this stage in a very vocal way. I remember the moment my brother told me that my mom had died. I screamed that it wasn’t true. Like I was trying to convince myself that it wasn’t so. As if I could say it loud enough and enough times to make it not true. Inside, my heart was breaking, but everything in me was working to deny the reality of it. I wasn’t ready to deal with the pain.


The initial effects of the denial are wearing off…but we are not ready. We want to deflect from our vulnerable heart, so anger rises to the surface. Anger actually gives us strength. It gives us some structure to the emptiness of the loss. You may even feel guilt over expressing the anger, which can make you angrier. And while it may seem counterproductive, it is important to feel that anger. As you allow yourself to experience this emotion, it will dissipate and the more you will heal, and the feelings underneath can bubble up and you can get to them (in time).

This is a stage I have experienced, moved on from, and come back to. And it has been spent largely on my husband in the form of my irritability shot in his direction. And he has taken it in stride. He is amazing. He is so loving and understand that I am going through something huge and trying to navigate my way through tricky waters (so to speak).


This is a normal reaction to feeling helpless and vulnerable. You want to regain control. You are plagued by the “if only’s” and “what if’s”. You may make a deal with God in the midst of this self doubt. This is a weaker line of defense protecting yourself from the pain. Those “if only’s” lead you to find fault in yourself which only leads to guilt. And guilt is like bargaining’s best friend. They run in a pack. This stage finds you living in the past.

There is no time prescribed to each stage. Some stages may take days/months. Some may take minutes. That is true of this stage for me. There have been moments of bargaining, of “if only’s” for me. “If only” I had asked this question. “If only” I had thought about that. “If only” I had been more attentive in this way. None of it gets me anywhere. But it is a part of the grieving process and dealing with my emotions.


Unlike, bargaining, this stage focuses on the present. It may be a reaction to practical things. Like the costs associated with burial or the guilt of not spending time with friends. Typically this can be eased by clarity and reassurances. Another, more subtle depression may take hold, however. This is a kind of preparation for letting go. This stage is marked by sadness and regret. Empty feelings pervade you, as if it will last forever. Your grief may be as if it has deepened. Experiencing depression as a reaction to loss is NOT a sign of mental illness. Other things you may note: withdrawal from life, intense sadness, wondering if there’s any point to continue without your loved one.

This is where I am now. Having been through postpartum depression three times, this is uncomfortably familiar territory. I struggle to get out of bed, want to return to bed. The world feels “unsafe” emotionally. I have to force myself to get out. But I have an amazing support system and, through counseling and therapy, I have many tools in my toolbox that are helping my ease my passage through this stage. I have essential oils that help. I know to plan something everyday with a friend or loved one to give me something to look forward to. I have my binder of counseling exercises and significant verses. It is not a cure-all, but it helps.


The final stage. Not everyone reaches this stage. Perhaps the death is sudden or we may never see beyond our anger and denial. This stage should not be confused with a feeling of happiness or a sense that we feel okay with what happened. You probably won’t ever feel that what happened is okay. This is simply about accepting the reality that they are gone physically. This stage is marked by withdrawal and calm (and it is different from the withdrawal associated with DEPRESSION). You are now able to accept a new normal and know that the old normal is gone. We must now invest in our other relationships. We begin to live again, but not until we have given grief its time.

How someone copes with death is very personal. And no one can smooth out the process for you. But others (your support network) can be there to comfort and be with you through the process. The best thing you can do for yourself is to allow yourself to feel the grief. Resisting your own emotions only prolongs the process.


A JUGGLING ACT: How Many Books Can I Keep In the Air?

There have been a few times in my short writing career when I have found myself in a juggling act. Too many books, so little time, you know? This would be one of those times. I started a project here, submitted one there, and soon enough, I ended up juggling several things at one time.

The Lady and the Hussites

This sequel to The Lady Bornekova has been contracted by Clean Reads and is its first round of edits. It will go through content edits (working on the continuity of the story, plausibility, closing any loopholes in the plot, etc), then line edits (more the grammar type stuff), and then proofing edits before a final read-through from me. Cover art will come at some point in this process as well (that’s the part I can hardly wait for).

A Convenient Risk

I will be exercising my skills at self-publishing this manuscript. It is in another editing process right now as well. Advanced Reader Copies have been sent to “Turnquist’s Troupe” as well. Though this book was finished after The Lady and the Hussites, it will actually hit your favorite computer ebook store first in all likelihood.

Leaving Waverly

Ah, the novella I wrote crazy fast… It is with my mentor/critique partner to give me some editing feedback before this novella is ready to go out to my newsletter followers for FREE! So, everyone who is signed up currently, or signs up for my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of this novella.

Trail of Fears

I am in the self-editing trenches with this back-logged novel. It’s been too long on the shelf. So long, in fact, that I have grown in my craft skills to the point this now needs a major re-haul. What seemed perfectly fine to me at the time, now looks too tell-y and the point of view too shallow. I’m excited to dig in and a little intimidated at the enormity of the rewrite.

the Diary

This novel is completed, with the last beta reader, and “resting” before I tear through it with my self-editing eye.

Unnamed Work

I am in the “spark” phase for the next novel. I have the “kernel”, the idea, the “what if”… And I am so excited about it, but I am not quite ready to share any more than this: it will be Historical Fiction, still, but will cross into the realm of Biblical Fiction.

In Summary…

I’ve got a lot going on. I don’t know how “normal” this is for an author (to be juggling so many novels in various stages at once). It seems that most of my author/writer friends have only one, maybe two going at a time. I understand that Isaac Asimov would have sometimes in excess of four or five going because he would tire of one and then move to another to work until he bored of that one. This way, he was always working, but never letting his creative juices dry up.

At any rate, having multiple works going is normal for me. It keeps things interesting. And I wouldn’t have it any other way? What about you? Any of you have multiple tasks/works going at once? Any of my author/writer friends wish to share how many works in progress they handle at one time?

PLANTSING: How I Wrote A Novella In 3 Days


What a weird word, huh? Especially to those of you who are not in the writing world. But even for those of you who are writers, this word may not look familiar. It is what happens when a pantser begins to bring plotting into their process or vice a versa.

Hold on a minute…what is a pantser? What is a plotter? I’m lost… Let me help.

Pantser: A pantser is someone who “writes by the seat of their pants”

There is no planning, there is no outlining, they just sit and write and let the story come as it may.

Plotter/Outliner/Planner: Someone who, to the opposite extreme, plans out the entire novel, sometimes down to the most minute detail. Plotters can have pages upon pages of notes, diagrams, charts, and whatnot before they ever write one word of the manuscript.

Pantsing tends to be more work on the back end, giving you a pretty rough first draft. While plotting is a heavier work load on the front side, giving way to a more polished first draft. I’ve heard it said that for a pantser, the first draft is just a very detailed plotting session. Take from that what you will.

So, what are you? What am I?

It is said that what you are in life (a list maker, a scheduler, etc) you tend to be in your writing. That is soooo not true of me. The idea of going to the grocery store without a list makes me anxious. Not having my day planned and a “TO DO” list in hand would probably give me a panic attack.

But I was a total pantser when it came to my novels. I would just sit and write with very little idea about where I was going and how things would turn out. Vague ideas, I tell you…very vague. I loved letting the story unfold and surprise me this way…setting the characters in motion and having them take over the story in a way. Once you have established their character, the way they will react/interact is pretty set. You can’t have them do something or react somewhat outside of the character you’ve established, right? So, through the twists and turns of the plot, you can let your characters lead you where they will go. Pantsing is exciting and exhilarating.


As I have learned more and honed my craft, I have begun to see the wisdom in taking time to plot some. Not a whole lot, but sketching out my characters. This deepens the character, and thus the readers experience with them. And as I began to do some plotting with characters, I found that the novels went deeper and flowed out of me faster. The most recent novella I wrote, was completed in 3 days. And that’s not 3 long, arduous, 10-K-craziness kind of days…I put in probably 5 hours each of those days.

What does that process look like?

First, you have to pull out your hero and heroine, your POV characters. Then you do character profile sheets on them and some preliminary daydreaming. Then, I get down to business. I love Susan May Warren’s The Story EquationThis is how I begin to really drill down and deepen my characters. I have to find their Dark Moment Story (you just have to read Warren’s book).

Then you can take that, and sketch out a basic plot outline, which is discussed in her book. I do one of these skeleton outlines for each of the POV characters. (More character development.)

Now I’m ready to dive in and begin writing. Unless I’m still feeling stuck. Then I might go to the Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method and go through the first 4 steps. This will help wrap my mind around what the novel is really about.

At this point, I have deeply developed characters. I have the whole iceberg, so to speak. Am I going to put everything on the page – no. The reader will only see the tip of the iceberg…what’s above the surface. But I truly need to know the entire structure in order to make that piece the reader interacts with feel three dimensional.

And with my characters firmly in my mind, I can let my pantsing take off. Since I know them well, I can give them more freedom to “take over” the novel and go places I never could have imagined.


Too Many Irons in the Fire & The Need for Rest

My view this morning



This has been a season for illness for many people. My family in particular has been in a holding pattern. A close family member has been in the hospital, in critical condition, for quite sometime. She came home for only a couple of days just to find herself back in the hospital with more infections. Another member of my family has a severe case of the flu, at risk for pneumonia. Please be in prayer for my family.

Medication Challenges

One of my children is on the autism spectrum, in the Asperger’s range. He has also been diagnosed with ADHD. Not a rare combination, as I’ve come to understand. But finding the right medication at the right dose can be even more tricky. We are on that merry-go-round.

Writing Fun

As many of you know, I have two books in the process of being published: The Lady and the Hussites and A Convenient Risk. As well, I am working on an untitled novella right now. I also have two works backlogged (The Diary and Trail of Fears) which need attention. And I’m winding up for Turnquist’s Troupe (which you can still join by clicking here).

I am actually running a mini-contest to name the hero and heroine in my novella. Whoever suggests the name I choose for either character will win a $5 Starbucks or Lasaters (for Clarksville locals) card. But you have to be a part of Turnquist’s Troupe to participate (there is no cost to be part of Turnquist’s Troupe – all fun).

Speaking Engagements

Our writers group in Clarksville is gearing up to host another Workshop in May. We will be teaching about self-publication and marketing. Then, come this summer, I will be preparing to facilitate a couple of workshops at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. I am honored to be listed amongst such amazing talent as Brandilyn Collins, Cara Putman, Twila Belk, and Hallee Bridgeman!

The “Routine” Stuff

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of my normal day-to-day life. I have the everyday laundry, menu-planning, grocery shopping, kid-managing, snuggling, time-outing, all-encompassing life to continue to lead apart from these things. All in all, this makes for one full day/week/month.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Head to Gatlinburg on Spring Break! I need a break. My kids need a break. My husband needs a break. A break from the norm. To escape the humdrum of our daily routine and sneak off, enjoy each other. Run outside with the mountains as our backdrop and a tucked away cabin as our sanctuary. Ah, God is good. My soul is at rest. And I am refreshed.

SPOTLIGHT: Krysten Lindsay Hager’s “Dating the It Guy”

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Book Trailer

Enjoy an Excerpt

He put the magazine between us, and when I moved forward to see it, he put his arm across the back of my chair. Now lots of guys did put their arms on chair backs, even Kirk did that with Rory, and he definitely wasn’t interested in her, but I couldn’t help but hope it meant something. I got this shivery feeling, and he asked if I was cold. I shook my head. I always got a feeling before something major was about to happen, and it has nothing to do with being cold, but I didn’t know why I got the feeling. Grandma used to do the same thing and always said, “Somebody just walked across my grave.” Somehow I didn’t think Brendon would understand if I told him I needed to move my future burial plot to a less high-traffic area.

“Are we still on for the art fair?” he asked.

I had only been circling it with hearts on my calendar since he asked.

“Sure, I think I’m still free,” I said.

We finished up our work, and he walked me out to meet Kylie.

“Okay, I’ll pick you up at three tomorrow,” he said, walking off.

“Can I ask a stupid question?” Kylie asked as soon as Brendon was out of earshot. “What’s he like? Because he’s so well-known, and I can’t imagine what it’d be like to grow up with your whole life under a microscope. I mean, my mom remembers his first birthday party pictures being shown on the news. And he’s hot, but he’s not like I-know-I’m-a-hottie hot, but more like a confident, ‘Yes, I am hot. Any questions?’ I mean, he has to have noticed there aren’t any guys who look like him walking around.”

“I should tell him what you said.”

“Don’t you dare,” Kylie said.

“I get what you mean—he’s grown up with everybody knowing his dad and watching him, but he’s pretty down to earth.”

“So what’s up with you two? You guys didn’t do any work last Saturday, and now you’re going to an art fair.”

“I dunno. He just asked me to go with him.”

“Asked you to go with him as his study buddy or asked you to go with him because he’s desperately in love with you?” she asked.

I said we were just friends, but she wouldn’t let it go.

“Okay, duh, obviously I like him, but let’s be honest. He’s out of my league. He’s out of most people’s league. It’s weird because normally if I like a guy then one of two things happens—either he likes me and asks for my number…or I find out he’s not into me and I cry in my pillow and listen to man-hating music for at least three days,” I said. “But this time’s different because he’s, I dunno, not just ‘some guy.’ I mean, I’m not putting up a shrine to him in my room, and I haven’t rooted though his garbage can, but I have as much chance of going out with him as Kirk does of getting an ‘A’ in this class.”

“You listen to man-hating music?” she asked, and I narrowed my eyes at her. “Whatever. Anyway, Em, he’s asked you out once already, and you are seeing him tomorrow. Plus, he’s always staring at you.”

I said he was probably just bored in class today, but she wouldn’t let it go.

“I’m not just talking about today. When we watched the movie on Monday, he watched you instead, and whenever I see you guys, he acts like there’s no one else in the room,” she said.

I couldn’t hold back the big, stupid smile spreading across my face. “He does? For real?”

She nodded. “You know, it’s weird. Here you were all upset you didn’t have a partner at the beginning of the semester, and then you ended up with like, Mr. Perfection, as your partner.”

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About the Author

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, ​Krysten is a also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes young adult, middle grade, new adult, and adult fiction as well as humor essays. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (she’s addicted to American Dad to the point where she quotes episodes on a daily basis and also loves Girl Meets World). She’s also a third generation Detroit Lions fan.

Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager and her books







TURNQUIST’S TROUPE: Anyone want a FREE advance e-copy of my next release?

Hey, everyone! I have some great news. Well, a couple of things that are great to share. I spent this past weekend at the Mid-south Christian Writers Conference in Collierville, TN (just outside of Memphis). I had a great time and learned quite a bit. And I had some good one-on-one time with mentors. Both mentor sessions, I spent talking about marketing/promoting. And I have decided to put together a Launch Team for my next book. So, if you would like to:

  • get an advanced reader e-copy of my book
  • enter to win contests
  • be a part of a secret Facebook page and get sneak peeks
  • learn more about my writing journey as it happens
Then, “Turnquist’s Troupe” is for you!! I will send out FREE advanced reader e-copies to the members of my launch team. There will be a secret Facebook page and a private newsletter just for this team. I will offer opportunities for contests to this group and give them a little more insight into the writing process. Ever want to help name a character? Join my team!

What am I asking of the members of Turnquist’s Troupe?

I am encouraging the members of the team to participate in this journey with me by sharing their honest opinion in reviews, tweeting and posting about what they are reading, and the like. For the most part, being a part of “Turnquist’s Troupe” is about having fun, reading, connecting, and learning more about the author journey and process.

How do I sign up?

Follow this Google Doc Link to sign up:

Thanks and I hope to see you in the secret Facebook page!!

Pre-editing: The Nitty Gritty

Hey, all! So, my writing tends to go in ebbs and flows. What I mean by that is…either I’m doing a ton of writing, or all editing. Two months ago, it was a lot of writing. These last couple of months, it’s all editing. I have a manuscript that is just newly under contract. So, I have to do a round of pre-edits before it’s turned over to my publisher’s team of editors. And I have one I’m self-publishing that I had to self-edit before turning over to my freelance editor. Edit, edit, edit… So today’s blog is about editing. Imagine that.

I’ve talked before about self-editing and the importance of it. Today, I want to get into the trenches with you and discuss some of the nuances of pre-editing. (Self-editing and pre-editing are essentially the same thing, I believe. For me, “self-editing” is what I do every time I look at the novel and that last round before I submit the manuscript to my publisher, “pre-editing” is when I take a fine-tooth comb and the publisher’s list of preferences and go back through the novel again.)


What’s the deal with adverbs anyway? What’s so harmful about a few -ly words? You’ve probably heard all the typical answers: “It indicates ‘lazy writing'”, “there are better ways to say that”, “it’s telling, do more showing”… Mark Twain encouraged writers to avoid them as an exercise in being “simple and straightforward”. Stephen King has quite a bit to say about the use of adverbs. Bottom line – in most cases, they are not needed. Here is a quote from Stephen King’s On Writing:

Consider the sentence He closed the door firmly. It’s by no means a terrible sentence (at least it’s got an active verb going for it), but ask yourself if firmly really has to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between He closed the door and He slammed the door, and you’ll get no argument from me … but what about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came beforeHe closed the door firmly? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, isn’t firmly an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?

So, check for adverbs in your manuscript. You can do a search for “ly”. Sure you’ll turn up words like “only” that are not adverbs, but it will help you pull out the adverbs more easily. How many should you have?The truth is, there is no “right” answer. That is between you as an artist and your agent/publisher. My publisher’s rule of thumb is one, maybe two per page.

Extraneous Words

These are words that are just that–extra. You don’t need them. But you wrote them. As well you should have. During the first draft phase, you’re writing like a maniac and just putting it on the paper/word processor document. You aren’t thinking about each word and it’s necessity. But now is the time to do that. I’m talking about the “that”s. About the “to her”, “from him”, the dreaded “up” and “down”. Here’s a couple of examples from the manuscript I am working on, my A Convenient Risk,

The silhouette of the figure became visible to her.

The “to her” here is not necessary since we are in her point of view.

“I’ll help.” He knelt down next to the glass and picked up the shards.

The word “down” is not needed here. We understand that he is kneeling on the ground level.

Overused Words

Wait…didn’t we just talk about this? By “overused words”, I’m talking about words that are specific to you. As you read through your manuscript from top to bottom, you may come across a word, or maybe two or more, that you use more than you’d like. Words that may or may not be necessary (i.e. not all are extraneous). I apparently love the words “over” and “toward”. Most of the uses of the word “over” can just be taken out. But I have to replace/rewrite several of the “toward” occurrences. It’s amazing how often I use these words! And, knowing this about myself, I now do a global search during the pre-edit phase for these words to find and hopefully eliminate as many instances as I can.

Holding her chin high, she maneuvered Samuel over to her right hip so she could look the preacher square in the face.

This is but one example of MANY I found in pre-editing where “over” is inserted, but not needed.


It is important to have good flow, rhythm, and pacing to your manuscript. Flow can be helped by varying sentence beginnings. Making sure you don’t start consecutive sentences with the same word. Or multiple sentences in a paragraph with the same word even. And check consecutive paragraphs to ensure they don’t start with the same word. It just makes things more pleasant to read. It can be very off-putting if every other sentence starts with “she”.

Rhythm and pacing is something that comes with your voice. And that is developed as your write. Think about how you would tell your best friend a story. (It’s way different than how you would testify in court about the same event, yeah?) That’s hitting on your voice. You adjust pacing by shortening and lengthening sentences, paragraphs, and scenes. The shorter the sentence/paragraph/scene, the faster the pace and action.

All Time Good Tips

Read it aloud

You should always, always, always read your manuscript aloud. It’s amazing what you can catch this way. There’s something about the way it rolls off the tongue and to the ear that helps you catch mistakes (especially mistakes in flow and pacing) that you may have missed otherwise.

Use multiple word processors

I write in Scrivener.  That software catches a certain set of grammatical mistakes. My publisher and beta readers speak Microsoft Word. So, I convert it into Word before sending it. But before attaching it to an e-mail, I run another spell check in Word. Because Word catches a different set of mistakes. I also can (and usually do) run it through LibreOffice (another word processing program similar to Microsoft Word) which will catch another set of things. Some of these “catches” of course will overlap, but some will not (i.e. Word will catch things Scrivener did not and vice a versa.

In Conclusion…

I know you are all ready to head out, grab your red pen (or track changes) and tear into your manuscript. Many blessings upon you! Happy editing!!


FEATURED GUEST: Author Elle Marlow

Hello, everyone! I am pleased to welcome fellow author Elle Marlow onto my blog today. She is here today sharing a clean historical romance with us (right up my alley!). If pirates and adventure and romance intrigue you, this seems like the book for you. So, let me get out of the way and let you hear more about it (and the author) from Elle:

Thanks for being on the blog today, Elle. First, can you tell us a little about The Black Raven, White Dove?

I’d love to! The Black Raven, White Dove is a sweet, historical romance with light adventure and suspense. It is about 40k words in length, making it a larger novella. The time period of the story is in the 1700 when Portugal ruled the trades, especially by sea. After doing some research into the coastal area, I was completely taken by the beauty of it, and so, decided that a romance must take place!

There’s always room for romance! Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was a child, I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader! LOL. But somewhere around my 20’s I started writing. I have written (and lost) more manuscripts over the course of the years, but one of those I kept, and it sat on a shelf for over 15 years until it finally found a publishing home. So, even if you set your dreams aside for a bit, never give up. I’m an example of better late than never.

Isn’t that the truth! It’s never to late to pursue your dreams. I know that, while writing is something we enjoy, that not all of it is roses and sunshine. There are parts of the process we don’t love so much. What about you? What part of the writing process do you dread?

The synopsis. Seriously, dread the synopsis.

I totally understand. Not my favorite either! I have learned myself that we hone our craft through workshops and conferences, but also through reading. Always reading. Some of what we learn about writing is intuitive I think. What are you currently reading?

Right now, I’m reading A.J. Kohler’s romance titled Repeat. It’s fantastic!

I love a good recommendation! Now when I need to get in the mood to write, I need to have the right atmosphere, but I also need the right music to get in the right headspace. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

My all-time best selling romance is a contemporary western, Josey’s Mountain. I wrote that novel to country music hottie, Luke Bryan’s song “That’s my kind of night.” Okay, we can argue that he isn’t real country, but that book produced real results, so I kind of love him.

Can’t argue with results 🙂 How long does it take you to write a book?

Generally, speaking, a novella will take three months. A full novel up to six or seven. Josey’s Mountain is a full novel and I wrote it in six weeks. (Don’t ask me how.)

Everyone is different. But I know how that happens sometimes. It just flows out of you. Tell us something about The Black Raven, White Dove that is NOT in the blurb.

I loved writing this story because of the good messages within it and the beautiful setting. I wanted to stay there with Bianca and her pirate, Stefan. I was sad when it was over.

That’s good to hear. It is hard to let go of good characters. Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

Sigh. Right now, I am going through a contemporary western novella titled, Horses from Heaven. I cannot decide the heat level. It’s a beautiful story dealing with a young woman who becomes a widow and her journey back to finding love again. I go back and forth in my mind just how much intimacy to add, and if this should be a clean reads or not. It could go either way. It’s the emotional connection I really want to convey, so we’ll see.

Sounds intriguing. Thanks again, Elle, for sharing with us. And now, let’s take a closer look at The Black Raven, White Dove…

The Black Raven, White Dove


Known as the Ice pirate, Stefan Ice captains the Raven, a wicked ship filled with treasures and haunting secrets. The one thing missing from Raven’s coffers is revenge. The only thing missing from Stefan’s life is love. Bianca is the jewel in her father’s crown. When she is captured and bound on the Raven, she becomes an unwilling pawn in an unknown feud between the dark pirate and her father. With every rock of the ship, Stefan steals her heart and unravels their tangled and tragic past. Bianca will need to rely on her faith and her heart to find God’s purpose for her life. Is it with the legendary pirate?

Buy Links


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Also available on iTunes

More About Elle Marlow

Hello, everyone! My name is Elle Marlow, and I am thrilled about my latest release, The Black Raven, White Dove. Never, would I have imagined penning an exciting pirate tale. See, I’m known for my western romances which can range from sweet to sizzling. So, when the inspiration came to return to my love of Christ and find a way to speak of it in and unique and fun way, pirates came to mind!

Crazy, right? Well, the way I see it, what a better way to showcase our true growth then through adversity. Bianca and Stefan have plenty to overcome in this romance. And when you’re on the high seas with such a rough crowd as the crew of the Raven, there are multitudes of ways in which to bring about hope and inspiration, and to show that God’s grace is for all—even crusty old pirates.

I had so much fun trying to take my “writer’s voice” to a whole new level with this story. I’m used to the familiar, “Yes, ma’am and howdy,” of my heroic cowboys. But, a good pirate isn’t too different from a good cowboy, I just had to think outside the box and reach outside my comfort zone.

I would love for you to dare to climb aboard the Raven take this, and many other journeys with me.

Follow Elle Marlow and her books

Or follow one or both of my FB pages: This FB is more personal and candid.

Or, if you prefer not all the small talk, there is my official FB page that is strictly for Elle Marlow current information and new releases.


Swag: I Want My Book Cover On Everything

I just had the privilege of celebrating my nine year anniversary with my husband. Yes, it’s been a wonderful, eventful nine years. And I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. And I will share an example of why. He knows me so well. As evidenced by the present he gave me: book swag. But not just any swag. Take a look:

Yes, those are bracelets of all my book covers, including the one that will be coming out in the next few months. Isn’t he super sweet and thoughtful? I think so, too!

When I first published, I was just like anyone else…I wanted swag, swag, and more swag…I wanted it all! But that can get quite pricey. So, you have to be really choosey. What’s the biggest bang for your buck? I started with bookmarks and postcards that I could hand out easily at conferences and whatnot (and, of course, business cards). At this point it was all about what I could justify to pass out. The bookmarks were wonderful. I handed those out everywhere. I continued to order bookmarks for every book I published.

Then I added notebooks and notepads. Which quickly turned into some playing cards (for myself). And magnets for my friends and family. I had caught the swag bug. But I was really making stuff for myself, not so much to be passed out…unfortunately. This is not so much the point of swag. But I didn’t care at the time, I wanted my book cover on everything. I was a newbie author. I was proud of my cover!

So, I turned my thinking cap on…what could be passed around that would interest people in my book? Maybe entice them to buy? Then I heard about these handouts that were basically the cover and the first chapter of the book. That, I needed to check out. So, I had some done. They were fabulous. Great pieces to hand out. I even put the blurb for my next book on the back. No harm done, right? I might even interest them in that book as well.

And so I got carried away again. Why shouldn’t my stationary be my book covers? Of course, it should be! So every book cover up to that point became a piece of stationary. It’s a disease, I tell you. It gets in your system and you can’t hardly stop it.

That brings us to bracelets. And I’m now researching pens. My goal is to have swag bags–reasonably priced bags that I can pass out at conferences and other functions which would include some of these things (pens, my business card, the one chapter pamphlet, and other things I might think of).

What do you think? What is your favorite piece of swag you’ve gotten from an author? As an author, what is your favorite piece of swag to have? To pass out?