Stand in Faith (by Sandra Ardoin)

Our church choir sings a praise song on occasion. It’s called “I Will Not Be Shaken.” It’s the kind of song to set your toes tapping and hands clapping. Maybe you know it. If not, here’s a YouTube link to another choir’s version: Enjoy!

I mention this song because of the words in the chorus. As I listened to them one Sunday, my creativity sprang to life, and I saw them as a basis for a story. I began to get ideas right there in the pew. Does that ever happen to you? Frankly, I don’t care for those moments that interfere with my worship time, so I highlighted the words in my bulletin, something I normally throw away, and brought them home with me to ponder later.

If there is one thing we can blame on this writing gig, it’s that it shakes our faith on occasion. No, I’m not referring to our faith in Christ. Hopefully, that’s solid in anyone who writes for Him. I’m writing of our faith in our abilities.

How often have you entered a writing contest, received your feedback, and wanted to curl up on the bed with your thumb in your mouth? (Okay, for writers, it’s a chocolate bar—for me, a Three Musketeers.) Maybe you’ve received rejection after rejection for a story you’ve poured your heart into, one you believed God whispered in your ear as you took dictation. Perhaps, you’ve received rave reviews, but the book isn’t selling as well as others in the same Amazon category. Do you ever wonder why you bother to open the computer in the morning?

Writing is a tough on the self-esteem. We have a tendency to think that, because God gave us the desire to write stories and we spent months (sometimes years) practicing the craft and sweating over each sentence, we’re automatically entitled to hit the ECPA bestseller list. When we don’t, we can sink into discouragement.

Throughout the years, I’ve returned over and over to Isaiah 55:8 when I need a reminder of WHO God is and who I am in relation to Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

FINAL AReluctantMelodyWhew! What a powerful statement—and a humbling one. In my mind, those words go hand-in-hand with Jeremiah 29:11. If both are not a call to trust Him, even when we don’t understand why our plans are “unsuccessful,” I don’t know what it will take.

It can be hard to accept that His will for our writing may be as simple as teaching us something about ourselves through the experiences of fictional characters. I know I’ve grown in my faith through writing about the journeys of my invisible friends. As my hero, Kit Barnes, learns: Be Strong! Be strong in the power of God’s might. Be strong and stand.

He has a plan for each of us in our writing career. Yours will be different from mine. Whatever it is, it’s right for you. Whatever mine is, it’s right for me.

So when you doubt your ability to create, STAND. Stand firm in your trust of His plan. Stand firm in the knowledge that God has placed the desire to write in you for a reason, even if those words never reach anyone but you.


Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotBIO:

Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction who writes inspirational historical romance, such as her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel and her January release, A Reluctant Melody. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina.

Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Receive her newsletter updates.







Confessions of a Writer/Doodler

by Bonnie Lacy

Confession #1 ~ I am so grateful I didn’t get published when I thought I shoulda. One novel under my belt. Oh. I. Had (and still have) so much to learn. I am reading a book on writing/publishing/story at all times, whether print or ebook. Conferences like Realm Makers and others have put me in touch with more than my editor! I am determined to take some kind of class every year. This year I took David Farland’s online workshop, The Story Puzzle. (He enticed with $100 off! Money talks!) Last year I took Kevin Kaiser’s Storyseller University and I still need to apply more of his suggestions than I have. Next year? Any suggestions?


Confession #2 ~ I am so grateful I didn’t give up. I know I’m not where I want to be, but I have come so far from that first novel. I have a firm belief that some of the best writers/talents/artists give up. I am not the best, nor the worst. But I’m still here. Did I ever feel like giving up? Heh. Yeah, me too. Apply the Dori principle—keep on writing, keep on writing … Now I have six novels and over fifty short stories. And still so much to learn.


Confession #3 ~ I am a doodler. And the doodles are weird. But as I write this, I realize why they are a great lead-in to a writing sprint. I tend to doodle a little at a time—a little each day. I don’t plan–I play. Add a little here, a few lines there. Bubbles. Organic. Structure. Each day adds a little more to the mystery of the finished doodle. Just like a story. Whether you’re a pantser or plotter, a story grows upon itself, adding to the mystery of that story.


Examples: Check out bonlacy on Instagram. Most times the first day/first doodle is baffling. What is that? But as I let myself play (Grandson Eli always tells me, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.”) and … doodle, I let it grow and be and laugh and … well, I let the strangeness grow. Some lines are smudged—I’m not a machine—then they’d be … perfect.


Same for me in the story. That old rough, first draft. Ick. What is that? But the second and third … well for me, that’s where the magic happens.


And the strangeness grows …


bonnieBonnie Lacy is the author of six novels, one fiction book, devotionals, several children’s books, and over fifty short stories. Her first published novel, Released, can be found here. Rescued, Book 2 in The Great Escapee Series, is due out Fall of 2016. Visit her at: Twitter: @BonnieLLacy. Instagram: bonlacy.

And a Spekkie New Year!

a spekkie new yearChristmas is over (phooey!), and we turn our attention to the coming year. It’s bright, and sparkly, and new. No one has messed it up yet. As we settle down to determine our aspirations and goals, it’s nice to see what others have up their sleeves.

I’ll be doing a whole set of posts on my goals and all that soon, so I won’t give away too much yet. (Sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss the cool stuff I have planned!) I will say that I plan to conquer the small revisions on a couple of manuscripts and then write at least 2 more! And, of course, I continue to hope and pray that my editing business stays consistent (and growing). I love my jobs . . .

But what about other spekkie authors? What are their plans/goals for the New Year? I’m glad you asked . . .


Ronie Kendig:

  1. To be more protective of my time.
  2. As a result of being protective of my time, I will grow as a writer by having more time to learn better craft and be a stronger/better writer.
  3. To help others in the writing craft.


S.D. Grimm:

To finish my Children of the Blood Moon series—the first book in the series releases in October 2016, to write another novel, and to finish at least one more novella in a themed novella series that I’m starting. I know, pretty hefty goals! *cracks knuckles*


Amy McNew:

Writing goals for 2016:

  1. Get published!
  2. Submit more short stories, flash fiction, and articles.
  3. Finish books 2.5, and 3!


A.C. Williams:

My goals as an author for 2016 are mainly to keep producing great novels. I’ve got three novels that should be published in 2016, and my intention is to get three more ready for 2017. But goals need to stretch us. So one goal is continuing to write. A second goal is to take time to enjoy what I’m writing. I get really focused on what I’m doing most of the time, and pretty soon I lose the joy of storytelling. So in 2016, I want to slow down and really remember how to love the art of writing. And a third goal is to do a better job of worshipping God through my writing. Too often, writing is just something I do. I don’t think about it. I just do it. I want to continue to write, but I want to consciously thank the Lord for the ability to write. I don’t want to take it for granted, and I want to make sure that He gets the glory for everything I do. Writing isn’t hard for me. It’s remembering why I write that will stretch me in 2016.


Cindy Koepp:

  1. Do more marketing for the books I already have out. The first 3 came out while I was still teaching or eyeball deep in my Master’s so I didn’t do much with them. The 4th is coming out soon, and I have plans with Tomorrow Comes Media to do some interesting stuff.
  2. Write a novel, at least the draft of it. The idea for the sequel to Lines of Succession has been bouncing around in my brain.
  3. Since a serial didn’t go over real well on my blog, try flash or short fiction next.


C.W. Briar:

Self-publish a short-story collection, finish editing my debut novel, and have at least one short story published in an anthology.


Emilie Hendryx:

Finish up revisions on my manuscript Runaway, finish up my novel Thorn (first of four books), and read more craft books to continue honing my writing!


Nadine Brandes:

  1. Write the first draft of my next two new book ideas in a NaNoWriMo-type flash (aka: one month each.)
  2. Lighten my editing commitments so I can write more.
  3. Mentor new writers as they start the journey of editing and pitching and freaking out. 😉 I’m very passionate about this one.


Victoria Grace Howell:

Goodness! I have so many, but I’ll pick just three.  I want to finish my extended version of my steampunk fantasy novel Red Hood, write the first draft of the sequel of the aforementioned novel called Silver Hood, and edit the first book of my science-fiction series Subsapien.


Lindsay Franklin:

To finish and polish book 2 in my current series, to write book 3 in its entirety, and to decide what series I might want to work on next.


Kristen Stieffel:

  1. Publish my fantasy series … one way or another.
  2. Finish a trio of science fiction novellas set on Mars. The first appeared in the Medieval Mars Anthology.
  3. Develop a daily practice of writing 500 words (two pages) every morning before I start work.


J.L. Mbewe:

My three goals for 2016: publish Darkened Hope in the spring, write the third and final book in the Hidden Dagger trilogy, and publish Clans Divided in the fall/winter. Not so sure about that last one. That depends if there is anything to salvage from my attempt to write it during National Novel Writing Month. We shall see.


Josh Hardt:

  1. Read at least 12 (writing) craft books and 12 new-to-me novels. Both will help me be a better author.
  2. Finish Book One of the Vanguard Saga AND submit six short stories/flash fiction pieces to various places.
  3. Write 2 blogs a month.


Pam Halter:

  1. I want to finish the revisions on my fantasy novel, Fairyeater.
  2. As of Jan. 1st, 2016, I’ll be the editorial director for Bread & Jam Books (part of Fruitbearer Publishing), so I’ll be focused on learning that job and taking submissions.
  3. Getting my costume ready for Realm Makers, of course!!  😀


Ben Wolf:

  1. Finish three novels and one kids book.
  2. Edit my critique group’s collaborative novel so it’s ready for shopping around for publication.
  3. This is pseudo-writing-related, but I need to book a minimum of one speaking engagement per month separate from conferences so I can build my platform and speaking career that way.


Janeen Ippolito:

  1. Write and self-publish Character-Building From the Inside Out.
  2. Speak/teach at two events.
  3. Finish a fiction manuscript, have it professionally edited, and submit it to two publishing houses.

And now it’s YOUR turn! What are 3 of your goals for 2016?

A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 4

A Spekkie Christmas (2)Christmas is a time steeped in tradition–religious, cultural, and family tradition! I don’t think too many families celebrate Christmas just alike. And that’s what makes this month so unique and fun!

At our house, we have started the Family Night Box tradition on Christmas Eve. Kind of like the “open one present” tradition both my husband and I had on Christmas Eve growing up, our family opens up the Family Night Box, which includes new PJs for everyone and either a family movie or family game. (I try to alternate–this year will be a game!)

So, I just had to know how my spekkie friends celebrate their Christmas season and what makes their traditions unique.


When I was a kid, one of our family traditions was making lefse, a Norwegian flatbread. Every Christmas we would make a batch, then eat it with butter and sugar, rolled up or cut into triangles and served with tea. Both sides of my family would serve this traditional Norwegian food as part of our heritage. —Morgan Busse


It’s pretty standard fare for us to splurge on the Christmas meal. We usually get a beef tenderloin and bake it/grill it up with delicious seasonings. It’s typically a larger, more expensive cut of meat, but it always hits the spot. I am a carnivore, so of course I love it. —Ben Wolf


Baking a Birthday cake for Jesus. We get ‘em – so why shouldn’t He? —Josh Hardt


My family and I have a specific routine on Christmas Eve. When it gets dark, we heat up some apple cider (or snag a Starbucks), blast Christmas music, and drive around to look at as many Christmas lights as we can in the area. After we return home, we give each other one or two presents that have something to do with Christmas morning be it a new coffee cup or pajamas or when I was little, a new stuffed animal. —Victoria Grace Howell


We don’t get to do this much anymore, but every Christmas my family would go out soon after Thanksgiving and get our Christmas tree. No, I’m not talking a lot in town or a plastic tree from the attic, we’d pack up snacks and hot chocolate then head up to the mountains. Then the search would begin for the perfect tree. Those are some of my fondest memories with my family, hiking all over (sometimes in feet of snow) to find that perfect, 12 foot tree (we’ve got tall ceilings). I’m excited that this year I get to participate in this tradition again since I’ll be going home earlier than normal. I’m definitely looking forward to it! —Emilie Hendryx


We wrap up a gift for Jesus. It’s an empty box with an imperfect wrapping job to remind us how imperfect we are. Then we put a slit in the top, and every family member writes on a piece of paper what they are going to give to Jesus for the coming year. No one knows what anyone else has written; it’s very personal. Then we put the papers in the box and place the box in the fireplace and light a fire. It’s kind of our burnt offering to God. —S.D. Grimm


One tradition we have that dates back to my own childhood is that we allow the children to choose one small gift to open at midnight Christmas Eve. I loved the tradition my parents started and have enjoyed sharing it with my children. —Ronie Kendig


At New Year’s Eve, we drop the Christmas Yeti. It’s a stuffed toy that my sister in law brought back from the 2012 Winter Olympics. The end of the year always makes me depressed and melancholy, because I’m naturally pessimistic and tend to focus on things I didn’t accomplish. So my husband came up with dropping the yeti as our own personal ‘New Year’s Eve’ ball. Since then that goofy yeti’s descent has been the main thing that really makes me laugh and not overthink the whole end of the year concept. —Janeen Ippolito


What is one unique family tradition YOU have at Christmas time?


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A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 3

A SPEKKIE CHRISTMAS (1)I love giving gifts at Christmas time. I’m definitely one of those who agonizes over finding just the right gift that complements family and friends. Sometimes I run out of time or never land on the perfect present. Still, I love watching people open presents–the light in their eyes, the smiles on their faces . . . *happy sigh*

I think the best present I ever received was the year my husband was deploying to Kosovo. He left in October for training, but wasn’t actually going overseas until January. His unit was able to come home for a short Christmas break before heading off. I think that is one of the most special times I got to spend with him.

So, I asked my spekkie writer friends what their best Christmas present ever was, and they had some very unique answers . . .


One of my best friends got me How To Write A Children’s Book and Get It Published by Barbara Seuling when I first interested in writing picture books. That was back in 1997. I read that thing over and over! But her support of my dream was the most important. She’s still one of my biggest fans! —Pam Halter


I think I was about sixteen, maybe fifteen, when my parents gave me a real desk for Christmas. I’d been asking for one for ages. It had a hutch bookshelf on top. I filled it with all my favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels and writing how-to-books. It made me feel like a real writer to have my own writing desk. —Kristen Stieffel


Oh boy. I’ve gotten so many good presents, but one that I still use a lot today is my WACOM Bamboo Tablet which is an artist’s tablet I use for drawing my characters. My mom gave me the tablet and I didn’t expect to get it because it was expensive, but I put it on my list several years ago anyway. I use the tablet so much and it makes drawing so much easier and faster! —Victoria Grace Howell


My family is so generous and I can think of many that impacted my life one way or another. But one of my favorites was a hope chest. My parents gave one to me and each of my sisters. Before I was married, I filled it with dishes and cute kitchen things for when I’d get married. Now that I’m married, it holds all 23 of my journals. (Yes, twenty-three.) —Nadine Brandes


We brought our newborn daughter home less than 2 days before Christmas. I’m probably required by Proud Daddy Code to say her. —C.W. Briar


A hand-made wooden dollhouse from my parents and grandparents. Mom and Dad bought the kit, and Grandma and Grandpa assembled it. It has windows and doors that open and close, and it was painted the same color as our house at the time. It must have been Christmas of 1992. I still have it, and every time I see it, I smile. Such amazing, fond memories of that Christmas morning. I was so surprised. —A.C. Williams


The best Christmas present I received happened when I was 16. It was the gift of my mom’s ingenuity and humility. My mom and I were on alone and she had just enough money to pay rent. There wasn’t money for food let along gifts, so I was shocked to receive three gifts that year – a sterling silver swan ring holder, a brass/glass mirrored perfume tray, and earrings, I think. She hadn’t bought any of them. She’d gone through the mall, humiliating herself by filling out credit applications she knew she wouldn’t be approved for (based on income), but with each application, they gave away a gift. And that gift became my Christmas present. She was always creative and ingenious that way. I really miss her. —Ronie Kendig


When I was a kid, personal computers weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. When I was ten or twelve or somewhere in there, I woke up on Christmas morning to find two huge boxes sitting amidst all the other presents. One was for me, and the other was for my sister. We tore the paper off and found two brand new desktop computers in the boxes. (My dad was and is a tech geek, so he had the hookup.) —Ben Wolf


What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?


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A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 2

a spekkie authorChristmas is my favorite time of year–always has been. So many memories . . . Like the time I bought my mom a special book and made her cry, or the time we were moving over Christmas and “decorated” our van, or the first Christmas I spent with my husband. What’s not to love?

So, this week, I asked the speculative fiction authors what their favorite Christmas memory is. As with any group, it’s a fun array of answers!


Oh, so many! My siblings and I would stay up all night long reading books in a blanket-tent in our upstairs library, trying to keep the fire going all night long. This was a yearly tradition (that made it tough on Santa since the stockings were over the fire) and cultivated a lot of bonding between me and my siblings. —Nadine Brandes


One Christmas my dad made me a mobile of gifts and I got to cut away each one revealing a fun gift. It wasn’t so much the gifts that I liked as it was the thoughtfulness my dad put into it. He has always loved giving gifts and does so with love and care. It reminds me of how God loves us and cares for each one of us with just as much love and care. —E.A. Hendryx


One year, I found weird ways to wrap everything. Nothing went into a nice, happy box unless the box was the entirely wrong size and shape for the thing that went into it. I wrapped a necklace after putting it into an empty, plastic tape dispenser. A DVD was taped to the bottom of a shirt box. A shirt was wrapped around a metal coat-hanger bent into a loop. This happened because the previous year, one of my relatives boasted that he could guess what all his presents were, and he was right most of the time. I decided to mess with his head, and everyone else’s. —Cindy Koepp


Nearly every year, my mom and my grandma and I would make Christmas candy. We made fudge and peanut butter fudge and toffee cookies and all sorts of treats that we could share with the whole family. Every year, I’d look forward to it because as I got older, I got more responsibility in the kitchen. I used to just fetch ingredients, but then I moved up to stirring pots, and eventually I got to chop nuts. In the last few years, I’m the one in charge of candy making, and it’s my mom and grandma who assist. So it’s pretty cool to see how we’ve come full circle. —A.C. Williams


T’was the night before Christmas, and for some reason I was in a shopping cart in the toy section. Whatever I pointed to usually went into the cart. I didn’t really understand this memory until I spoke with my mom. Apparently they had fallen behind in Christmas shopping, so they had us pick out all our presents, wrapped them, and then we unwrapped them the next day! Apparently we were still completely surprised. —Janeen Ippolito


When I was in fifth grade, my grandma was diagnosed with advance lung cancer. At the time, my mom was a single mother trying to raise four kids and go to college. But when my grandma was diagnosed, my mom took that semester off to take care of her mother (who was also single). All of our income was tied up in school loans, so when mom took that time off from school, we had no money.

A couple days before Christmas, my grandma passed away. It was a dark time for our family. We had no money for Christmas and we had just buried my grandma. Not only was it going to be a hard Christmas, it looked like there would be no presents under the tree.

Unbeknownst to us, a family member submitted our names to an Angel tree to provide us with gifts. On Christmas Eve, a couple packages showed up with food and presents. We all gathered in my grandma’s tiny house and gave thanks for the generosity of others during our time of need. I’ve experienced many Christmases since then, but I will never forget that one. —Morgan Busse


We didn’t start doing the Elf on the Shelf until our kids were older, and the last couple years of elfing have been so fun. Wendy (our elf) gets into lots of mischief. This year, she’s going to be looking for love on some online dating sites. —Lindsay Franklin

What about you? What is YOUR favorite Christmas memory?


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A Spekkie Author Christmas

A Spekkie ChristmasSpekkie? What’s a spekkie? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A spekkie is the nickname people at Realm Makers have given speculative fiction writers. What’s speculative fiction? Well, that’s a term that encompasses genres like fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, and the like.

It’s been several years since I delved into the world of speculative fiction. And what an exciting adventure it has been! I’ve met a lot of amazing people who have imaginations as wild as mine–many more so.

For the next few Wednesdays, I thought I’d introduce y’all to the minds and hearts of these unique people through something we all share: Christmas. Each week, I’ll ask a question and share the answers from a few different authors. Some are published, some are not. Some are older, some are barely 18. Some write fantasy, some write sci-fi. All are wonderful people to know.

So, without further ado, here is the question for Week 1:

We’re finally allowed to listen to Christmas music without people looking at us weird! What is your favorite Christmas song and why?


I tend to be rather Old School when it comes to religious and holiday stuff. In this case, I’m very Old School. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Lulay Mine Liking,” which had its start in the Medieval era (15th C). Other favorites include “O Holy Night” (1847) and “O Come Emmanuel” (tune: 15th C, words: 1710). —Cindy Koepp


Well, it’s hard to stick with just one, but this time I’ll say O Come O Come Emmanuel. When we sang this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, we sang a verse I hadn’t heard before. It wasn’t in our old hymnal:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Kristen Stieffel


I like all the songs mere mortals (like me) shouldn’t even attempt to sing: “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful.” If I sound like a dying cat singing it, it’s probably one of my favorites. —Lindsay A. Franklin


It’s a toss-up between “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night/Night of Silence.” The former because it speaks of simple faith. We all of us are ‘poor boys, too’ – with nothing extravagant to offer God in exchange for the gifts He gives us!

The latter is not only a beautiful song (it gives me chills!); but it speaks in truly tangible ways of the Hope that came in the form of a babe.

“Mary Did you Know?” is a runner-up. It asks poignant questions and really speaks to how little we truly do understand how much God has done for us. —Josh Hardt


This is a hard one. I will say it’s not Christmas without the classics such as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. But to choose one song, I think … “O Holy Night.” The flow of the music, each note weaving together and building to a crescendo until you can’t help but sing along albeit out of tune, because who among us non-singing folk can reach those high notes? Or maybe it’s just me. And the message obviously. Contemplating the birth of Christ and why He came. —J.L. Mbewe


And last of all . . . me! My favorite Christmas song for a long time was “O Holy Night,” and it is still one of my faves. However, in recent years it was surpassed by “Mary, Did You Know?” That song gives me shivers every time I hear it! Could you imagine being the mother of the Son of God?


Thanks to my spekkies for sharing with us today. Next week, we’ll explore the question: What is your favorite Christmas memory? In the meantime . . .

What is YOUR favorite Christmas song?

Never Give Up! (by Ane Mulligan)


God invited you on this writing journey with Him, so even when discouragement hits—and it will—don’t give up. God kept the publishing door shut to me for many years. I first went to committee back in 2006. I didn’t get a contract, but I got an agent out of that trip.

I went ahead and wrote another book. The following year, my first manuscript found its way to committee again. Then the second one did. I was getting a lot of affirmation, but no contract. Then, the second book went to pub board. Then the editor retired and her hard drive got wiped clean. The one with my book on it.

Are you seeing a pattern? I was. And it told me God was telling me, “Not now. Not here.” So, I kept on writing. And writing. I had 5 completed, publishable novels by the time I finally got published.

So, if you’re languishing in that land of “Not Yet”, don’t get discouraged. Instead …


  • Start a new manuscript. Shelve the one that has you tied up in knots. That’s not a good way to write anyway. Rope burns aren’t pretty.
  • Write a blog post. Whine and kick cabinets, then pull up your big kid panties and get back to work.
  • Plant a garden. Plant one for me too. Digging in the dirt makes me really appreciate my clean keyboard.
  • Search on Novel Rocket for author interviews. We have a listing of all the interviews over the past 10 years. See how their journey went. You’ll find you’re not alone.
  • Try a new genre. If you write women’s fiction, try suspenseful women’s fiction.
  • Knit a scarf. If you’re going to quit, at least find something for your poor fingers to do. Otherwise, they’ll be air typing all the time and you’ll look even crazier than you do now.
  • Write a short story. Ahh, now here’s a piece of good advice. Short stories are a great place to tweak your voice, try writing first person, change genre (see above).
  • Hang out with uplifting people. They don’t pull you down.
  • Start a photography journal. A picture is worth a thousand lectures.
  • Send an encouraging email to another writer who’s discouraged. Then read what you wrote. Yeah. You really do know what to do.


And should your discouragement be from writers block, I’ve got good news for you. Really. You see, I’ve found from my age-gained wisdom (and yes, there’s one advantage of growing old) if you simply plant your backside in that chair and start to type, you’ll find inspiration.

One writer shared what she wrote in a spot of blockage: “What am I doing? This is absolute drivel, complete piles of steaming manure. But at least I have words on the page. Now, how did that pile of manure get there? And whose manure is it? ” She went on to say that eventually, the words began to take on meaning. Her characters took over again. They made her delete the drivel and write their story.

Whatever has you discouraged, look to the One Who invited you on this journey. He’s just waiting to inspire you again!


Thank you for sharing with us today, Ane! 

Ane has been gracious enough to offer a giveaway for either the Chapel Springs Cookbook or ebook of Chapel Springs Survival. Leave a comment to enter! 


Ane Mulligan_ headshotAbout the Author:

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a new community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+


Chapel Springs Survival


CSS Cover2A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art.  

How on earth will Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

Claire Bennett’s Operation Marriage Revival succeeded and life is good. That is until the mayor’s brother blabs a secret: Claire’s nineteen-year-old son has married a Brazilian mail order bride. When Claire tries to welcome her, she’s ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus.

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Then her groom’s adult son moves in—on everything.

From the first sighting of a country music star in The Painted Loon, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing residents to flee the area. When her best friends put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son’s future at stake and the town’s problems to solve, it’s Claire’s who needs a guardian angel.





Why I Write Romance (by Patty Smith Hall)

8_CreateaCaption‘And the LORD GOD said, “It is not good than man should be alone; I will make a helpmeet for him.”’ Genesis 2:18 KJV


Love! Romance! Commitment!

And that’s just Genesis, folks!

A lot of folks don’t know this but I almost gave up writing Christian romance years ago. It was after a published author I admired told me to stop writing ‘fluff’ and work on something that would bring honor to the Lord. The pain I felt at those words! I knew God had called me to write romance but I couldn’t help wondering if this author had a point. Were the books I was writing ‘fluff’ in God’s eyes?

I looked no further than Genesis for the answer, and can now make a daring statement.

Our God is a romantic.

Let’s look at the facts. In the first two chapters of Genesis, the Lord worked a masterpiece. Light and darkness. Earth and sky. The seasons. Fully matured plants and fruits to sustain all the animals. And of course, man.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?

But even in all that splendor, God saw a problem. Man was alone. Some folks might asked why God didn’t make Adam and Eve at the same time. After all, He knew man wouldn’t like being alone. Maybe God exposed man to solitude for a reason.

Think about that first meeting. After having all the creatures of the earth brought before him, Adam must have felt an emptiness. Where would he find the one creature who would ease his loneliness, the one person he could share the paradise God had created.

In that moment, the Lord stared into the soul of man and knew that his heart was ready. With just a thought, He put Adam to sleep. When he awakes, he’s not alone.

“Adam, I have brought one more creature for you to name.”

Do you think Adam’s heart fluttered in his throat the first time he saw the slope of Eve’s face? Was he breathless as he compared the woman’s soft curves to his hard angles. Or did he simply stare into her eyes and recognize her for what she truly was?

The missing part of himself.

Ah, romance!

It’s hard to have a Christian marriage in today’s society. The world had made the sacred union between a man and a woman into something cheap and sordid. Cheap sex. Empty relationships. Changing partners.

How sad!

As an author of Christian romance, it’s my ministry to portray love and marriage through the filter of God’s Word. To give young women the honest truth behind a loving marriage, a union that includes God at it’s center. A life full of love and commitment.

I can’t help it. I’m a romantic.

Just like my Heavenly Father.


IMG_1250About the Author:

 Patty Smith Hall is an award-winning, multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong/Harlequin.  She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter and calls North Georgia her home which she shares with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Visit her website at



New Hope Sweethearts

New Hope Sweethearts 2She’s ready to take back her life . . .or what’s left of it.

 After ten years of caring for her invalid grandfather, Kallie Huffman is ready to claim her life as her own. Taking a job in the laboratory of New Hope Community Hospital seems like a logic choice while she waits for her nursing license to be reinstated. That is until she meets Lab Director Jefferson Muster. Kind and intelligent, the handsome doctor is everything Kallie has ever wanted in a man. But what about having a life of her own?

He’s never needed anyone’s help. . .until now.

 Patients are dying at New Hope Community Hospital, and Jeff needs help to discover the culprit before another family loses a loved one. When help comes in the person of Kallie Huffman, the walls Jeff has constructed around his heart after a family tragedy start to crumble. But Kallie craves a life on her own terms. Can two people shaped by heartache trust in a love to last a lifetime?

Confidence in Uncertainty (by Jennifer Slattery)

cohdra_100_8769What would you do, if you knew you couldn’t possibly fail?

You’ve probably heard that question before, maybe at a conference, or perhaps you read it in a Facebook meme. We love questions like that, don’t we? They remind us of God’s incomprehensible power and faithful love. For surely, if He plants the desire within us, and if He calls us to it, the doors will begin to open fast and wide.

But what if I asked a different question? What would you do if you knew you might fail? If you knew the road would be hard and paved with setbacks? What if God was calling you to that road?

Same God. Same call. Vastly different questions. And for some, perhaps they result in vastly different answers.

But either way, the answer comes down to obedience.

When I first sensed God’s call to write, I fought Him. Oh, I dabbled in writing here and there, but my commitment, my determination? My surrender?

Not there.

I wanted to see results. I wanted guarantees—if I do X for Y amount of time, Z will happen. At the time I was going to school, pursuing a teaching degree. Then a chemistry degree. I considered geology. I could never quite settle on anything, because my heart was elsewhere. My heart was meant for story, regardless of how I fought against this.

The more I resisted God’s call, the more frustration I felt. The desire to write welled up within me until it was almost unbearable. But at this point, I’d jammed my schedule so full of classes; I didn’t have the time for much else.

In a way, I felt like Jonah. He knew what God wanted him to do, but God’s call didn’t mesh with Jonah’s plans. So he ran, hard and far, even to the point of asking sailors to throw him into the ocean.

But God pursued him and found him. Until all Jonah could do was surrender, and yet, even then, things didn’t turn out like Jonah had planned.

I was afraid, should I surrender, things wouldn’t go as I’d planned either, and I’d be left, decades later, with nothing to show for my efforts but a bunch of files on my computer.

So I asked God for reassurance, for guarantees.

Instead, He pointed me to a verse:

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives” (NLT).

If I wanted to bear fruit, the kind that would last, I first had to die, truly die—to my will, my life-plan, my security.

God made it clear, I was to obey, without clinging to a safety net or forming a back-up plan, regardless of what lay ahead, whether or not I ever became published.

I was to obey simply because my Savior had asked me to.

That was back in 2009. I didn’t receive my first contract until 2013, and for four long years, God’s message to me was the same: I was to obey out of obedience alone.

Regardless of what lay ahead, where He directed me, or what became of my efforts.

His message to me today, three releases later, is the same.

But the surrender’s become easier, not because of my contracts, but because I realize in my very depths, He’s worth it.

And the divine intimacy I receive from walking in His will, that’s worth more than a thousand contracts.

Where are you in your writing journey? Have you just begun to answer the call? Whether you’ve just started writing or have dozens of titles to your name, this journey is tough and unpredictable, and if we’re not careful, the uncertainty of it all can paralyze us. But obedience and surrender? That frees us. How might focusing on obedience, rather than results, help you walk with determination and confidence?


BCheadshot2013About the Author:

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at and connect with her on Facebook at



Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Intertwined_N154121Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!


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