Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tips for Writing Research

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Writing and research go hand in hand. Every topic, whether fiction or non-fiction, needs an element of research. If the manuscript isn’t accurate, the reader will recognize the flaw and toss your work aside. If a writer is spot-on, she will be rewarded with good reviews and more readers. Sort of a no-brainer for us writers.

How do we conduct the process effectively and efficiently?
  • Focus: List what is needed for the writing project in chronological order. This includes setting, characters, dialogue, and culture.
  • Develop: What specialty people need to be contacted to ensured reliable information.
  • Map: Where does the writer need to visit for experience and sensory perception?

The following questions and suggestions will help the writer focus, develop, and map out a strategic plan.

  • 1. Visit the area’s chamber of commerce.
  • 2. Conduct a web search of the area. Some apps will help you with this: Google Maps, Google Earth, Weather Bug, or travel sites that can be found via apps or websites.
  • 3. Take or download more pictures than you think you’ll ever use.
  • 4. Interview people living in the area. For a historical setting, this also means reading diaries and journals. How has history affected the community?
  • 5. Listen to how local people talk. Do they use a distinct vocabulary?
  • 6. What are the community’s values and expectations for life and each other?
  • 7. What is their diet? How much of their food supply is local?
  • 8. How is the area governed?
  • 9. What are the local hotels? Restaurants? What’s featured on the menus? Any daily specials?
  • 10. What are the sources of entertainment?
  • 11. How do the residents celebrate holidays?
  • 12. Does the community have special festivals?
  • 13. How does the area experience the seasons, and what are average temperatures?
  • 14. What are the medical concerns? What kind of medical care is available?
  • 15. In what kinds of homes do they live?
  • 16. Where do they shop?
  • 17. How do the people dress?
  • 18. Do the arts play a vital role in the community?
  • 19. How do the people view education, sports teams, and favorite colleges?
  • 20. How do they earn a living?

Other Considerations
  • 21. If the area is near a national or state park, look for research material in the visitors’ section.
  • 22. Discover the wildlife and birds of the region.
  • 23. Locate a map of the area.
  • 24. Visit the local library. View newspaper archives.
  • 25. Look for documentaries on the area.

When a writer is cognizant of what is needed to make a manuscript zip with authenticity, readers clamor for more.

How do you conduct writing research?


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. 

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Get More Writing Time By Learning How to Say No

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I don’t mean no to writing opportunities—say no to some other things in your life. 

We all only have so much time in a day. And if you’re like me, it’s filled to overflowing. So that means changing some priorities. 

Sounds easy, but to anyone who’s tried, it can be tough to carve out time for writing.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why Writers Need to keep (Social) Media in Motion

by Molly Jo Realy @RealMoJo68

Y’all know the phrase. “An object in motion tends to stay in motion . . .” It’s true with social media, too.

If you’re a writer or other type of creative, social media is a must. In this day and age, if someone can’t easily find you online, it’s detrimental to your public image. But do you know having an inactive media platform can be more hurtful than not having one at all?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Too Busy to Say No: The Secret to Thriving in a Yes World

by Andy Lee @WordsByAndyLee

I’ve never been good at saying the “no” word.

I’m your typical “yes” gal.

I find it’s easy to say because the corners of my mouth turn up when the word is formed.

Just try it. Say it with me out loud, “Yes!” See? A smile naturally forms on your face when this word is spoken. (It’s possible to say it with a straight face, but I contend that it’s work to do so; therefore, not natural. But I digress.)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Contrasts of Life

We are a people defined by contrast. We judge good by bad, abundance by lack, happy by sad. We can't even imagine one without the other—think I'm wrong? Try to picture a coin with only one side. Not possible, is it?

Often my most treasured times follow my most trying times. What about you?

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. - John Steinbeck

Friday, February 17, 2017

When the Doctor Says, "Stop Typing"

by Traci Tyne Hilton 

Carpel Tunnel.
Autoimmune diseases.
Neurological diseases.
Accident with experimental flying machine.

You get the picture. There are an awful lot of people who have heard they will have to stop typing.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

3 “Hot” Amazon Subgenres or Trends?

by Cyle Young 

As both an author and agent, people are always asking what are some “hot” Amazon subgenres or trends. This is always a loaded question and one that is very difficult to answer.

I recently reviewed some interviews from some of the biggest traditional publishers on this topic. Most of them refused to give an answer, and those that didn’t dodged the question.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Seven Giants All Writers Must Slay

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

Sometimes they creep up on us. Sometimes they hit us with a battering ram. We may try to push them away, but until we slay our giants with the right weapons, they will ambush us in our writing journey.

You know what I’m talking about. The nagging voice of self-doubt, the bully of perfectionism. They keep us from finishing our work in progress by stealing our zeal and plugging up our creativity.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

5 Tips for Writing Truth with Love

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

"Times, they is hard and they is clampin' down on a body's heart like a snake that bites and won't let go."

I loved my grandmother. She was such true woman of the Appalachians whose mountain phrases would either make you roll with laughter or scratch your head. Either way, there was always great wisdom there.

Monday, February 13, 2017

9 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid


Yep, I've finally done it. I had a website built. 

But whether you can tell or not, this blog is still on blogger, it's just been coded to look like my brand new website. As long as you're on the blog page, you're on my Blogger account. If you click the home button, you have migrated to my new website.

I want to thank my website designer - Katrina Glover - from kikaDESIGN. She has been amazing to work with.  Be sure to take a look around and let me know what you think! 

9 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid
by Edie Melson 

Blogging is a great way to connect with our online audience. And while  there are a lot more people out there doing it well, I still see some common mistakes. These things affect a blog, making readers click away before they finish a post and even unsubscribe altogether. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Do I Know You?

by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

“Pardon me, but do I know you from somewhere?”

Recently I watched the movie Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in which being seen, recognized and known for who you really are is a theme. 

Almost every character undergoes some sort of tension as they work to either hide who they are, or struggle to uncover who they are. 

Though the movie is relatively light-hearted, it is a sad commentary on the prevalence of our desire to find our particular brand of fig leaf to hide behind.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Riches of Love

"Who, being loved, is poor?" Oscar Wilde
by Beth Vogt @BethVogt

When my husband and I were first married, we had very different views when it came to money. If the bills are paid — and they always were — and there was no money left in the bank, as far as Rob was concerned, we were fine. Nowadays, there’s always money left in the bank. When we were first married … well, that was another story.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Guard Against the Attitudes of an Ineffective Writer

by Edie Melson 

We read a lot about what it takes to become a writer. We talk about craft, practice, networking. 

But one thing we often neglect is girding our minds for the journey to publication. 

Today I’m sharing some of the things we need to guard against in our minds and hearts if we’re truly serious about achieving our dreams.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Quotes on Love & Marriage from Warren Adler

by Warren Adler @WarrenAdler

On Marriage…

Those of us who marry for love, must understand that there is no logic to love. It strikes from nowhere and goes through stages. For the lucky ones it endures, deepens and morphs into deep commitment and friendship.

The cruelest joke is on those who enter the marriage bond only to discover that the love aspect was no more than a passing illusion, a false expectation, a lie fueled by imagination.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Writers are World Changers

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

“If you want to change the world, pick up a pen.” This is one of my favorite writing quotes and is from Martin Luther. Since the moment I heard it, I knew I had heard directly from God as to my calling.

I had always wanted to do something that made a difference. When I first started writing, I was content to write in my office and have a few things published. But sitting there all alone with my computer, didn’t make me feel like a world changer. Looking across the top of my computer out the window at the vast landscape in front of should have been inspirational. Instead because it was all the world I could see every day, it felt very small.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Name Writing Files for Easy Access

by Cynthia Owens 

Recently, I spoke with our local American Christian Fiction Writers chapter in Anderson, South Carolina about how to organize writing files. Two simple tips we discussed really got those writers excited. So, in honor of National Clean Out Your Computer Day this Monday, February 13th, I’m sharing them with you today.

Monday, February 6, 2017

3 Social Media & Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Successful social media is something of an art form—with lots of gray areas. 

Building a successful online presence takes a good amount of flexibility and a little bit of experimentation. 

But even though I encourage people to find their sweet spots, there are a few things you want to avoid. 

Today I’d to weigh in on linking your social media accounts and other major blogging and social media no-nos.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The God Who Sees Me

by Danetta Kellar @DanettaKellar

You are the God who sees me. Genesis 16:13

He watched me as I wrote notes to Him in my first Bible. My seven-year-old hands formed those letters big and loopy, hoping He would like the words I chose. They were my first love notes.

He leaned near and chuckled as I wrote an essay in third grade for the President. It was about a jellybean’s journey from the factory all the way to the Big Guy’s desk in the Oval Office. The President at that time had a weakness for jellybeans. God smiled as I won that competition and received my very own letter from the Commander-in-Chief.

God cried with me over the words I wrote in secret as a nine year old when the ones who should have protected me hurt me instead.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

TEDTalks, A Resource for Speakers & Writers

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddenth

Be ready in season and out of season. II Tim 4:2

To reach our biggest audience, often writers are called on to be able to speak in public. When some of us hear that, we perk our ears up like a good bird dog. Send me after it.

Others run and hide under the porch. Writing in the solitary of our homes, on our back porch, or at our favorite coffee house does not prepare us for standing in front of two, twenty, or two hundred people. Why, we’d have to get out of our pj’s. (Just the thought made you tremble, didn’t it?)

But there could come that opportunity to get out of the house and share about that topic you care about with others. And public speaking, whether in person or through a monitor is becoming even more popular. You know your story matters. What do you do?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Writing is a Gift

by Bruce Brady @BDBrady007

“Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan

Amy’s words reminded me the Lord has blessed me with the privilege and gift of writing. It’s in my blood. I must write. Oh, I can ignore it for a season, but I can’t quit.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Troubleshooting Your Novel - A Book Review for Writers

Troubleshooting Your Novel
by Lynn Huggins Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I have a bit of an issue with writing craft books.

I love them.

My craft shelf is loaded with them, but there are only a few that get pulled out time and time again.

Troubleshooting Your Novel by Steven James is going to be one of them.

Troubleshooting Your Novel is divided into five parts:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Idea Starters for Writers—February Calendar Days

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

It’s time again for Calendar Days. These are just fun to read. They’re also a great way to jumpstart our creativity when looking for ideas for articles and blog posts. They’re also a fun writing prompt idea. 

In addition, calendar days are great conversation starters for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, especially when two contrasting holidays fall on the same date. Here are some that tickled my funny bone this month: