guest post, writing


Hey, all! I have been enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee and it has been fabulous! I have been privileged to host so many wonderful authors during this interim. Today is no exception! Author E.A. West has just released Covered with Clean Reads (the company that has published three of my books). I am eager to learn more about her new release, so let’s dive right in.

eawest_authorphoto_300Welcome, E.A. West. Can you tell us, first, what was the inspiration for Covered?

I’d thought about writing a motorcycle-riding hero for a while, but I couldn’t seem to find the right story for him. Then I saw a video about Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) and the way they’d helped an abused girl. That brought to mind a single question: What if a group of bikers protected an abused girl, but then she grew up and her abuser came back? “Covered” grew from there. While the motorcycle club in the story isn’t connected to B.A.C.A., it is definitely inspired by the great work of that organization.

That is interesting. I wasn’t aware of such a group. What a neat organization! Inspiration truly comes from many places. 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 never thought I would become an author. My interests leaned more toward working with animals in some capacity or becoming an artist. I was an avid reader as a kid, but dyslexia and learning disabilities made English class unbelievably difficult.   Thankfully, I managed to overcome those difficulties and started writing. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I took a creative writing class my freshman year of high school. As with most writing assignments up to that point, I didn’t particularly enjoy it at first. But then we had to write a brief biography for a fictional person. I had so much fun with that assignment, that I started creating characters and stories without having them assigned. I haven’t stopped writing since.

Sounds familiar! There are many parts of the process I know we all love, but there are certainly parts we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Writing the synopsis. Trying to condense thousands of words into a few hundred and still make it interesting is unbelievably difficult.

I hear you there! Writing a synopsis can be so challenging. If you’re anything like me, you are always reading for enjoyment and to hone your craft. What are you currently reading?

Right at the moment, I’m reading two books: “Marcelo in the Real World” by Francisco X. Stork and “The Relevance of Religion” by John Danforth.

I also love to listen to music when I write. I find it helps tremendously. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

My music tastes vary depending on my mood and what I’m writing at the time. I’ve listened to everything from classical to metal. Some days I write without music because it’s too distracting.

I can understand that. Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I usually write in the evenings. I’ve always been a night owl, so writing after dark works out perfectly for me. My favorite writing place is anywhere comfortable. When the weather is nice and warm, I enjoy sitting outside and writing longhand in a spiral notebook.

Wow! All my early writing was in longhand. But I am pretty much chained to my laptop now. I may try the longhand again. There something about the texture of paper…

Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

I’m always working on several projects. The most exciting at the moment is “Redeeming Honor”, an inspirational romance novel currently in edits with Pelican Book Group. I can’t wait to share it with readers!

More about Covered

Lacey Daniels wants a normal life where she can go to dinner or the mall without constantly looking over her shoulder. Unfortunately, her abusive father is out of prison and more dangerous than ever. The Hawthorne Guardians, a local motorcycle club that protected her as a child, is her only hope for normalcy. Some of the faces have changed, but the credo is the same: protect the innocent. One Guardian, Ratchet, takes an interest in more than her safety. He wants her heart.

Despite her growing feelings for Ratchet, Lacey can’t escape the threat her father poses. With him free and seeking revenge, she will never be safe. Her only chance for a normal life — and maybe true love — lies with Ratchet, a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her father from hurting her again… even if it means risking his life to save her.

Enjoy an Excerpt

covered_500x750I desperately needed to rest, but stopping even a short time was dangerous. An approaching car didn’t give me a choice. I leaned against a utility pole at the corner, my entire body hurting, and stared at the collection of motorcycles parked outside a bar a little farther down the street. Men wearing black leather vests stood around talking to each other and the few women scattered throughout the group. None of them looked familiar, but I had to hope the patches on their vests did. I needed to find the Hawthorne Guardians. I couldn’t trust anyone else, not even my own mother. She’d become part of the problem.

Tears blurred my vision, but I blinked them away as I forced myself to walk toward the bikers. Crying was a luxury I couldn’t afford at the moment. One man turned his back toward me, and I spotted the familiar stylized HG with a sword in the middle I was searching for. Maybe he could tell me where to find Bear.

Before I reached him, he hopped on a motorcycle and rode away with two others. My heart sank, but I couldn’t give up. I had to find someone who could put me in contact with Bear. I continued on to the bar and hoped for the presence of more Hawthorne Guardians.

I staggered into the dimly lit bar and paused long enough to steady myself. Staying upright was a challenge when it felt as if a spear lanced my skull. Too many people packed the place, and not enough wore the familiar patch. In fact, I couldn’t spot a single Guardian in the crowd. My anxiety shot through the roof, but I shoved it aside. I could deal with it later, after I was safe. If I was ever safe again.

Buy Links:


Amazon UK:


More about the Author

E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Connect with E.A. West and her books:



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FEATURED GUEST POST: A Story Roadmap (with author SM Ford)

I hope everyone is having a great week. I am pleased to welcome fellow author SM Ford onto my blog today. She happens to be another pantser. For those of you who are new to my blog, a “pantser” is someone who “writes by the seat of their pants” it is the opposite of a “plotter” or “outliner”. Well, today she is going to talk about what a Story Roadmap is and how it can assist you in your writing!

A Story Roadmap

road-1668916_1920I am not an outliner. If I outline a story with explicit detail, I find I have no interest in writing it.

So instead, I’m a pantser with a plan.

Here’s how it usually works for me.

  • I start with a character with a problem or in some situation.

Then in no certain order, the following happen:

  • Usually some kind of theme comes to mind.
  • I name my protagonist.
  • Next, I think about other people who would be in the main character’s life, whether in the background, or right up in the action. Whether antagonist(s) or supporting cast.
  • I decide where the main character lives.
  • I think more about the age, personality, habits of this person.
  • I may do some reading and research on their job or schooling or some other aspect of their situation.
  • Somewhere in there, I’m thinking about when and where the story starts.

Have I written anything down at this point? Usually, not much. The gender of the character and his or her problem. A few names, a few brief details—more reminders than anything lengthy. Character sketches don’t work that well for me.

I carry this character around with me for a while until I’ve got:

  • an idea of how the main story problem might be resolved.

I may not be clear on details, but knowing my character will win in some way is an important part of my plan. This and theme gives me a goal to head towards.

Then I start writing by introducing the character in some way and introducing some problem that may not be the main problem of the story. It’s similar to driving from Washington state through Missouri to Florida. You’re generally headed east and south, but there are a variety of routes to get there. Each time you choose a new road it affects how long the trip will take and what you’ll see along the way. In a book the personality, goals, desires, emotions of the main character direct much of the trip. Just like a flat tire or busted axle can change your trip, the problems, antagonist(s), other characters change the story.

This method means I learn about my characters as I write. I discover their voices. We may take side trips together that don’t end up staying in the story. But on the other hand, I’ve pulled scenes out that I thought weren’t important, then had to put them back in later.

Mainly, I’m working on how my character gets himself out of the situation. That keeps me moving forward to the end.

Will I revise once I reach the end? Of course. But so do outliners.


alone_500x750Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job.

Will Cecelia’s faith in God get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

Buy Links:

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Barnes and Noble –

iBooks –

Kobo –

Smashwords –

About SM Ford

smfordSM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too.

When she was thirteen, she got hooked on Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense books, although she has been a reader as long as she can remember, and is an eclectic reader. Inspirational authors she enjoys include: Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Dee Henderson, Jan Karon, and many more.

SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, but has also lived in the midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can’t figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.

She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.

Connect with SM Ford and her books:




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FEATURED GUEST: Author Dana Provo

image3It is my pleasure to introduce to you fellow author Dana Provo! Welcome, Dana, I’m glad you could join us today. Could you tell us a little about your novel?

Orphaned at an early age, now twenty-four-year-old Camryn Lucks is ready to commit to find that special someone, and so accepts a date from a charming, gallant, handsome stranger. The last thing she imagines after accepting that first date with Carson would actually be the beginning of her worst nightmare.

Red roses, a reminder of her parents’ killer, soon become an emblem of horror for Cami as one by one, those closest to her fall victim to a serial killer. Cami becomes an obsession for Carson, the man she had finally allowed herself to love. Not only is he vying for her heart, but also her life.

Finding herself in a whirlwind of torments shadowed by the blood-colored bloom, Cami finds solace in Isaac, a neighboring police officer. She’s desperate to escape the haunting memories, but she must revisit them in order to catch her would-be killer. Living life in constant fear has driven Cami to second-guess every choice she makes. Will the police catch the illusive murderer, or will Cami be forced to face him once again?

Wow! Sounds like an interesting read! What was the inspiration for Bleeding Hearts?

I have always wanted to write a romance, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it, so I opted to write a suspense novel with a romantic element. I loved it. My inspiration for “Bleeding Hearts” came from when I moved into my new apartment. There was an officer that lived down the hall, and I used his wife to craft my main character. My friends don’t have anything to do with the actual story line, they were just inspiration. I loved coming up with the perfect couple and relationship only to tear it apart again. It was fun.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I didn’t always want to be a writer. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a brain surgeon! Then I wanted to be a professional horseback rider. There were so many things I wanted to be growing up.

I can certainly relate. I thought for sure I would be a doctor. But writing was always a part of who I was. And eventually that part of me got louder and louder. I know as authors we love a lot about the process, but I know there are parts we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

I dread the waiting process of trying to get a book published. You are always waiting for that rejection email and often times don’t have the inspiration to keep writing. The other thing I dread most is editing. I think every writer can agree with me on that.

Most definitely! You have my vote there. While I wait, I keep plugging away at that next novel and reading. What are you currently reading?

Right now, I’m trying to read The Jewel by Amy Ewing, but between my full time job and writing two novels, I’m not have much luck on it. When I manage to finish it, I will review it and let everyone know how I like it.

I’m always curious about the things that authors reveal (and don’t reveal) in the back cover copy. Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

“Bleeding Hearts” is about a woman falling in love with the wrong man. She finds herself in an abusive relationship and has a hard time finding herself throughout the novel. Although Cami seems irrational throughout the book, she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from Carson’s torment and can’t get a grip on her life. Some have said she’s crazy, but to me, she’s vulnerable. Cami is both loyal and trusting toward people. She can’t help it, it’s in her blood.

And, finally, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

So I have two projects I’m working on right now. The continuation of “Bleeding Hearts”, called “Bleeding Alone” is in the works. This story follows a secondary character from the first book named Ruby Mae Lavender. She’s an art student at a university and she meets the famous serial killer, Carson but she doesn’t respond with animosity like everyone else has. She’s different from Cami; Ruby Mae is strong, outgoing, independent, and has an attitude the size of Texas. This is going to be another romantic suspense.

The other story I am working on is a YA suspense titled “Scarred”. Jules Martinez was in love at fifteen, but her love story turned into a nightmare when she found herself a victim of domestic abuse. To help with her fear and ending a bad relationship, she joins a mixed martial arts gym, training every day. Now at eighteen years old and ready to go to college, she still suffers from her abusive past. But it gets worse when Christopher comes back into her life again.

Thank you, Dana, for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us some insight into your novel and into you as an author!

Enjoy an Excerpt!

image1My arm trembles as I grip the cool handle of my pistol, keeping a firm grasp to ensure it doesn’t slip out of my sweaty hand. It usually stands sentry in my left nightstand to scare the nightmares away. But this isn’t a dream. The room is dark and hides the face of the man whose intent is to kill me. But I know who he is. A metallic taste fills my mouth; I want to gag. My blood drips off the blade in his hand in slow, steady beats on the carpet. My arms shake as I lift the barrel and point it in his direction. He doesn’t move. His heavy breaths alert me to the meager distance between us.

We’re at a stalemate.

A soft glow from the lamppost just outside my window casts a sliver of light on his face. His dark, beady eyes that I have grown to know rake over my body like I’m another one of his many victims. He lifts the edges of his mouth into a smile. My heart plunges into my stomach. I know what that sinister expression means, and I think back to all the times he had looked at me like that before. I had been so blind.

Before I react he lunges at me, grabbing onto my waist and twisting me to the ground. I shriek as my head slams against the bed frame. Black spots flood my vision. I squeeze my hand only to find it empty. My gun is gone. The sound of the knife clattering on the floor gives me slight hope. Not much though. He climbs up my body trying to pin my arms to the floor. I thrash my fists around, desperate to knock him off.

“Get off!” I scream, pulling on his shirt and kicking him off balance. Wrapping his hands around my arms, my attacker cuts off the circulation of blood. Rug burns flare across my skin as he drags me across the carpet. He closes his hands around my neck, shutting off my air supply. I pull at his hands but it’s no use; he has always been stronger than me. My pulse drums a frantic beat in my ears. The air slowly leaks out from my lungs, killing any hope I may have left. I search for the gun around the room; it may be my only savior now.

“Why are you doing this?” I struggle to get the words out. He squints his dark eyes. I’m wondering if there might be a chance that he will stop this madness. I am wrong.

“It’ll be over soon, sweetheart.” His hands again tighten around my neck, blocking the air from entering my lungs.

More about the Author

Dana Provo has always loved books and reads everything from young adult fantasy to Adult Historical Romances. When she’s not reading or writing her next novel, Dana can be found riding her horses and getting ready for competition. Dana lives with her husband and two house plants in Richmond, Virginia.

Buy Links for Bleeding Hearts:


Barnes & Noble:





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“Hope in Cripple Creek” Cover Reveal!!

cover revealIt is that time again, my friends! I have labored over another novel and am prepared to send it out into the world. This novel is slated to become available in ebook on October 20th. And I couldn’t be more excited!

The Cover. This was the first time I worked with this particular cover artist, Amanda. But what a talented artist she is! I was very much impressed with her ability to feel out the novel from the details provided for her and put them on a cover. I do love Cora Graphics, but I was not at all disappointed with Amanda’s skill. Her work definitely put a smile on my face 🙂

The Story. The blurb for “Hope in Cripple Creek” can be found here. This story follows the obstacles facing Katherine Matthews when she returns home to take an interim teaching position. But something very tragic happened here once, something that made her want to leave. And made an enemy among her peers. Will he still be among the townsfolk when she returns? Can her heart find peace and even love in the midst of loss?

The Collaboration. At each one of these cover reveals, I always at least mention my publisher. As well I should. Clean Reads is a wonderful company and its owner, Stephanie, is everything you could want. She is an author herself, so she truly knows what it’s like to walk in our shoes. But she knows and runs the other sides of the business so well. I feel blessed to be a part of the Clean Reads family. And I must thank my editors, who pulled more out of me this book than ever before.

Here it is…and so, I have rambled on about all these things. Now, I present to you the unveiling of this cover for the first time:

NOTE: If you are having issues with the video playing, “RELOAD” your screen and that should fix it.

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FEATURE GUEST POST: What is Spiritual Suspense? with Author Krista Wagner

Happy Friday! It is my great pleasure to welcome fellow author Krista Wagner onto my blog. She has a great book to share, but first, here’s her informative post about Spiritual Suspense…

What is Spiritual Suspense?

Spiritual Suspense contributes significantly to the literary canon because it explores life-changing moments. Specifically, the reader can relate to the intensity of events, emotions, and spiritual changes. Frankenstein started this trend in 1818, which later became popularized in the YA genre because of the need to control one’s environments and the difficulty of dealing with life and death. C.S. Lewis, over sixty years later, enhanced the delivery of the spiritual and suspenseful world through the addition of fantastical elements, appealing to the vulnerabilities and impressionable nature of youth.

Spiritual Suspense stories trigger the audience’s adrenaline by intensifying pivotal moments in a plot.  In these novels, the protagonist deals with unsuspecting turns and mysterious twists within a world where there is always a villain, but where good ultimately wins out over evil. The main character (s) experience significant growth spiritually, mentally, and emotionally–life-identifying changes.  The relationships of the protagonist are also seriously affected positively or negatively.

Notable books include: nearly all of Dean Koontz’s novels such as Intensity, The Bad Place, Lightning. His stories are filled with characters combating darkness and adversities and then brings the light into the darkness where good is victorious. He also emphasizes the intellectual capacity of his characters who show discernment and make choices judiciously. There are also the classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series.

All of these writers appeal to the cognitive growth of children and young adults by having them deeply examine their own choices and the impact of those choices.

thegold1600x2400The Book

“What do you do with a secret that’s make-believe?”

The Gold is a middle-grade fantasy about a bullied ten-year old girl who stumbles upon a talking pebble.

In her latest novel, author Krista Wagner introduces us to Ten-year old Amanda who is constantly teased and tormented in school. Her home life is less than satisfactory where her widower father, often away on business trips, leaves her in the care of her indifferent teenaged sister. Worse, not a day goes by when Amanda doesn’t miss her mom. To escape reality, Amanda creates fantasy stories, but when she discovers a talking golden pebble, her imagined world turns into a new-fangled reality.


“Her breath got stuck in her chest, and if she had heartstrings, like the characters in her book always did, then they were being pulled right now!”


Buy link:

About the Author

Mother of three and Adjunct English Instructor Krista Wagner has been crafting short stories of dramatic events like murder and kidnapping since she was in high school and has been writing in general since she was seven years old. Wagner received her B.A. in English from UMBC, her M.A. in English Composition with a Literature Concentration from CSUSB, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from National University. Her debut novel Intent, a spiritual dramatic thriller, was published by TouchPoint Press in 2014. . Her psychological thriller Rian Field was released January 2016. Outside of her professional life, Wagner enjoys watching suspenseful films, reading the Bible, and spending time with her family.

Connect with Krista and her books:


So, how’s the blog tour going?


We are about half way through the blog tour for “The General’s Wife” and it is going really, really well! I cannot say enough good things about Goddess Fish Tours and their services. Everything has been smooth and seamless. The bloggers have been great and everything that Goddess Fish Tours promised has been delivered. What more could one ask for?

The Regulars. There are some folks I see commenting regularly on the tour. That’s fantastic. It does warm my heart to see them each day of the tour. I love the questions some ask and that others are just encouraging and seem to enjoy the content they are getting.

The Consistency. Everyday when I get up the blog post is already up. Fantastic! I don’t have to wonder when it’s going to be up or if it’s the wrong day. No, it’s up and running already. I love that.

Marketing. Goddess Fish Promotions is doing an outstanding job of tweeting and putting out Facebook posts regularly (daily, multiple times a day even) about the tour stops and even about the book. They are on it.

The Reviews. Reviews make every author a little nervous. Not because we don’t believe in our work. But because this is our art, this is a piece of ourselves. Will the reviewer “get it”? Will they understand? I have had two so far on the tour – both glowing reviews of the book. I couldn’t be happier. And I am so thankful for the bloggers/reviewers who really took the time to read the book and to “get me”.

The Bloggers. And I appreciate all of the bloggers who have hosted me. They have all been courteous and efficient with, again, getting the post up, moderating comments, and the like. I have been impressed by their sites and have felt inspired to perhaps open my blog up to be a part of tours like this. I don’t know…something to think about.

Please continue to follow along and make the most of this experience with me. I am certain I will be using this blog service in the future for other releases.

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“The General’s Wife” Blog Tour


Well, it’s that time…I’m going on tour again! Blog tour, that is. I will be virtually hopping all over the internet starting TODAY, September 19th, until Friday, October 14th. These stops will include a variety of posts.

Spotlights. These stops will be a blogger’s way of highlighting the book. They will have the short synopsis (the kind that would appear on the back of the book), the cover, the buy links, and some info about me. Some may have an excerpt from the book.

Interviews. Some stops will have interviews with me. And believe me, some of these bloggers dig deep! So if you want to learn more about me, you won’t want to miss these stops!

Guest Posts. I have been busy writing guest blog posts for some of the bloggers. They wanted to get some insight on what it’s like to be an author, to write, find inspiration, at the like. These are fun.

Reviews. These will be rather interesting. These are bloggers who have read the book and will give their feedback on it.

Prizes. There will be a grand prize given along the way. Be sure to follow the tour for more details.

So, without further ado, here’s the line up:

September 19: Long and Short Reviews
September 20: The Reading Addict
September 21: It’s Raining Books
September 22: Reviews by Crystal
September 22: With Love for Books
September 23: Christine Young
September 23: Tina Donahue Books – Heat with Heart
September 26: A Writer’s Life
September 26: Jessica and Gracie’s Tree
September 27: Louise Lyndon Romance Author Hear Me Roar
September 27: LibriAmoriMiei
September 28: EskieMama Reads
September 28: The Avid Reader
September 29: Doorway to History
September 30: Fabulous and Brunette
September 30: Notes From a Romantic’s Heart
October 3: The Book Connection
October 3: History and Other Ponderings
October 4: Unabridged Andra’s
October 4: CBY Book Club
October 5: Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company
October 5: Readeropolis
October 6: Book Lover Promo
October 6: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
October 7: Reading Is My SuperPower
October 7: Two Ends of the Pen
October 10: Danita Minnis
October 11: Nickie’s Views and Interviews
October 12: Where the Story Comes First
October 13: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
October 13: Full Moon Dreaming
October 14: Books,Dreams,Life

If, of course, you haven’t picked up your copy of “The General’s Wife”, you can learn more about it, and even purchase it here.


The Perfect Writers Retreat


I just came home from the perfect writers retreat. And I’m not just saying that because I co-hosted it. I have read through the evaluations and they would serve to support that assertion. It was the first retreat thrown by our little writers critique group, but if we have anything to say about it, it is only the first. There will be more. Will we do things differently? There will be some tweaks. But no changes. Because everything ran smoothly and our guests really enjoyed what we had to offer.

The Venue. We chose a Bed & Breakfast in Murfreesboro, TN: Carriage Lane Inn. It was wonderful. Absolutely perfect. There were so many cozy writing nooks indoors and out-of-doors. And the atmosphere and decor were perfect to set the mood for creativity. Will we host it here again? I truly hope so. The only thing I’d like to do differently is to reserve the entire venue, expand the retreat to the entire grounds, and make it bigger.

living-roomThe Timing. The season was great. If anything, we could do it later in September or early in October. It was cool enough to write outside, but even cooler (not too chilly) would be even better. But much later and we run into Fall Breaks. We did run into minor issues, I think, being so close to a major conference (ACFW). We could have planned to be at least one more week away. It still worked out well.

What exactly was available?

webpage background?Undisturbed writing time. Can I hear an “amen”? If that was all we offered, I think we’d have gotten eager writers signing up. A bed, meals prepared, and a nice spot to write undisturbed. What more could you want? Well, I’ll tell you what more we offered…

Mentor or Critique appointments. In the morning, each guest could have a 20 minute mentor or critique appointment with a published author. They could have a 5 page critique of any pages or a mentor appointment to talk about website, marketing, plotting, character development, really anything they wanted. Everyone said they benefitted from this time.

Meeting writersWorkshops. There were two workshop slots (1 hour long each) and three workshops offered in each slot. So, 6 workshops to choose from, but each guest could go to 2. Because there were so few slots for the retreat, each workshop had few attendees, which made them very personable, interactive, and the instructors were able to make them directly applicable to each guest’s novel/career.

Meals. Meals and snacks were prepared and delicious (thank you, Greg!). So, the attendees really just had to show up hungry.

Would we do anything differently?

20160911_094505Perhaps make it longer. We all felt it was a good length. Check in was Saturday morning at 9 am and check out was Sunday morning at 11 am. We all wished it lasted until Sunday evening or even that it officially began Friday evening and lasted until Sunday evening. This is something we might look into the next time around.

20160911_094806Expand it. As I mentioned before, we would love to offer more slots. We didn’t have many slots available. It would be nice to offer it to more people.

A group reading time. One of the guests mentioned in their evaluation that it would have been nice to have a time when all the writers shared a scene from one of their works or from one of their favorite books. That is a great idea! And one we may very well employ next retreat.

20160911_094916All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. And even though I was busy, busy, busy with food prep, and appointments, and workshops, and plotting, I still got two kid-free naps in and some much needed undisturbed writing time. Just wonderful! So, if you are in driving distance of Middle Tennessee, keep your eyes open for our retreat next fall.


Self-Publishing: Getting My Feet Wet


Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, my latest book “Off to War” went up for sale on Amazon. It was exciting, of course, because every time you are publishing is thrilling. But even more so because this is my first venture in self-publishing. As a newbie in this arena, I cannot yet tell you much about the pros and cons from personal experience, but I can tell you some of the reasons why I chose this route.

Why Not? At the core of it, I retain all my rights. I don’t have to negotiate down the road to get my rights back, or wait “x” amount of years for the reversion of rights. They are always, solely mine. And I only profit share with the distributer (a.k.a. Amazon, iTunes, etc.) as opposed to sharing with the distributer and the publisher. The idea with going with a publisher 10 years ago was for the marketing dollars. Well, in this day and age, authors are pretty much doing all their own marketing. So, why not?

Well, why go with a publisher at all? I would always say to a newbie writer to START with a publisher. And my next book will be published with a publisher still. This is the only way you can “learn the ropes” of the industry. I didn’t know, for example, that books go through three editors (content, line, and proofing). I learned a LOT from those editing processes. When I started, I didn’t know anyone really in the industry. Where do I go for a book cover? I didn’t know how to shop around. Being with a good publisher allowed me to learn my way a little as I went to conferences, networked, and grew in my knowledge of the industry.

Don’t you want to be Traditionally Published? Well, no, not really. It’s a nice dream. But, I am not sure that a traditional publisher in this day and age of publishing can offer me much. It’s hard to get in with a big publisher, first of all. The marketing dollars typically go toward the big authors.  So, they’re taking a bigger cut of my paycheck and I’m doing the same amount of work. They do have a wider reach and it would be nice to have a publisher people recognize on your book. But I don’t shop for books based on publisher, do you? You just have to pick and choose what’s important to you.

And that’s really the long and short of it…you have to decide what is more important to you. You have to take a long, hard look at the industry (after you’ve become reasonably educated about it) and pick your path. I’m trying my hand at self-publishing this one book to see how it goes. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But I’ll never know if I don’t try, right?


ACFW2016: My Perspective

ACFWThis past week/weekend was the annual ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference. It’s the conference I look forward to each year. And for good reason. The teaching is phenomenal. The speakers are great. And the networking and fellowship is the reason to be there. This year was no exception. So, without further ado, let me give you the rundown of what I thought of this year’s conference:

People at the conferenceThe Classes. ACFW sets each class at a level (Freshman-Senior) based on which level of writer it will be most applicable to. I find this very helpful. In some areas, I am further along than in others, so this system means something to me. I walked away with great things from every class I took. Spiritually, I gained from “The Two Realms” the most. While craft-wise, the Early Bird and the Post Session were the most packed (and the longest) sessions. I have already started applying what I learned to my work in progress!

The Early Bird brought some great questions to ask yourself as you look at your manuscript. Questions that will enhance and deepen your plot and writing. While the Post Session went a long way to helping this “pantser” understand the importance of some high level plotting.

conference1The Keynote. Nothing at this conference was as challenging as what the keynote speaker, Ted Dekker, brought to us. Am I right, fellow ACFWers? I am still trying to unpack everything he said. He spoke about intimacy with God and “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” through our writing. It was beautiful and through provoking at the same time.

The Pitching. For me, the pitching is one of the highlights. Not necessarily that I love pitching. But it’s always good practice, a good skill to keep honed. Whether I’m pitching to an agent (which I did…twice), or to another author at lunch. After all, they are readers too. Being able to talk about your books in a concise way is a skill we all must acquire and maintain.

meeting peopleThe Opportunities to Meet Other Authors. This goes hand in hand with the next point, but what I’m talking about here is the authors we fan-girl. The ones we look up to. These big conferences are a chance to walk up to them and say to their face, “I love your work. Can I tell you about my book?” I got that very chance this past weekend. One of my favorite authors, Tamara Leigh, was in the coffee shop with her laptop (probably working…oops). I walked up to her and told her how much I enjoyed her work. And proceeded to tell her how it inspired my own work. Then we chatted a little about one of my books. How cool is that!?!

supportThe Networking. This is, by far, the reason that conferences exist, in my opinion. The classes are great…you can get that online. The pitching is wonderful…and you can do that at home or through your computer. The speakers are tremendous…but you can read compelling blogs and find great speakers online too. But nothing can replace the networking. The face-to-face bumping into another author and striking up a conversation that leads to a connection you didn’t have before. And who knows where that might lead?

All in all, you know my stance: conferences are well worth the money and time and effort you put into them. They show publishers, agents, and acquisition editors that you are investing in yourself and learning more about your craft. And that’s only ONE of the MANY benefits to you. I say take a chance and check one out. Start with a local conference, a small one if you must, but GO! Experience! And have fun!