Saturday, May 30, 2015

Refuse Average

So often, I'm afraid we aim too low. How do you rise above average?

Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will. ~A.W. Tozer
Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The ABCs of the Writer's Life—26 Tips to Take Your Writing to the Next Level

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

A is for Abundance. Write out of the overflow. Feed your soul and you'll always have the words you need to sustain your calling.

B is for Bravery. Don't shrink from the hard stuff, whether it's tough topics or just the courage to continue.

C is for Commonplace. Don't overlook the magic and beauty that surrounds you. It's the spaces between that often add depth and meaning to our words.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Know What You Write

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverbendSagas

Many of us have heard the statement, “Write what you know” so often it has become a cliché.

It intimidated me the first time I heard. Write what I know? I don’t know all that much that would make a good story. To me, my life was the opposite of Hitchcock’s definition of a movie: life with the dull parts taken out. Mine had all the dull parts left in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How Far are You Willing to Extend Yourself to Write a Novel?

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Are you aware of the sacrifices that partner with the rewards of becoming a published writer?

Do you ever wonder if you’re all alone in your pursuit of publication?

Has anyone ever posed those questions to you? If not, let me give you a little advice taken from the ups and downs of the life of our friend Zaccheus.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

9 Tips to Become a Resilient Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

"The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak
which breaks in a storm." ~ Confucius

It’s those writers who can bend in the hurricane force of the change that continue to find success in publishing. This is different from being tossed about, chasing fads and trends. It’s the ability to change direction when it makes sense for you. It’s a difficult line to walk, so today I’m sharing tips to become a resilient writer.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Worry Room vs. The “War Room”

by Brenda McGraw @BrendaMMcGraw

When we worry, we whine. We whine about our finances, job, children and spouse. Then there is the worry that goes with aging parents who need us to assist them to the doctor or with household problems, or maybe they even live with us. What about the loved ones who are away serving our country, and we don’t even know where they are? We worry.

I have never had a nineteen-year-old son go into the military and leave the country, but many have, and I can’t imagine the worry that accompanies the fear of the unknown. 

Reasons for worry are everywhere. We wake up to daily concerns and go to bed with them every night. When we worry—and I venture to say we have all done this—we enter an area that, as believers, God has told us not to. He plainly says, “Do not worry.” 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Little Seeds

Little deeds are like little seeds, they grow to flowers or to weeds. Daniel D Palmer
(Image taken during the 2015 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center)
I spent this past week at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. There were some amazing people there who did some pretty amazing things. They went out of their way to bless others.

There were also those who let the stress of circumstances influence the way they treated others. 

As the co-director, I had the opportunity to see the fruit of seemingly small seeds spread by those attending. Some blossomed into beautiful flowers, and others, well, not so much.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Friday, May 22, 2015

3 Ways I Save Money as a Writer

By Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2        

I was born into a frugal family. We reused, reduced, and recycled long before it was cool. When I embraced my inner self and came out of my writer’s closet, I quickly realized if I wanted to survive, I also needed to apply my family’s thrifty ways to my writing life. Today I’d like to share three ways I save money as a writer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

15 Questions to Help Writers Launch Their Summer

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowell

Summertime and the season for….. writers conferences, book conventions and intense writing sojourns! I have discovered that each time I return to an annual event, it is helpful to use it as an intentional time of evaluation and focus.

So, whatever your writing/speaking milestone is this summer (I will be returning to the Christian Bookseller’s Convention – ICRS and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association - AWSA), may I encourage you to take some time and consider these questions?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Let Your Words be Worth More Than Silence

Oh the power of words—to hurt, to heal, to help.
When have the words of someone else helped you? 

"Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence." -Pythagoras
Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Build powerful TURNING POINTS in a novel (An Equation!)

Edie here: I'm super excited to have my dear friend and writing-coach-extraordinaire, Susan May Warren guest posting today. I begged her to come for two reasons: 1. because she always has such incredible information to share about novel writing and 2. because she has a new novella collection available for preorder and I wanted to help spread the word. So be sure and take a look at the offer for  Somewhere, My Love at the end of the post!

Build powerful TURNING POINTS in a novel (An Equation!)
by Susan May Warren @SusanMayWarren

For most authors, setting up the right Act 1 feels natural—you introduce a character, give him a problem, invite him on a journey and then . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Myth of the Suicidal Writer

by Warren Adler @WarrenAdler

There is a long list of writers
who have committed suicide.
Looking at the long list of writers who have committed suicide, one is tempted to associate the so-called artistic temperament, the agony of creative achievement, with the primary motivation for that final act.

The list is long and includes many well-known literary figures like Earnest Hemingway, Richard Brautigan, Louis Adamic, Romain Gary, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Koestler, Primo Levi, Ross Lockridge Jr., John Kennedy Toole, David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf, Jack London Stefan Zweig, Raymond Chandler and Hunter Thompson among others.

Those who tend to associate the internal struggles of the creative life with suicide often concoct reasons based on romantic, legendary assumptions that making art requires a private agony based on a God-given talent that forces its possessor to see and feel more than ordinary mortals.

The myth contends that because the artist is blessed with such extraordinary insight, he or she can see into deeper truths where there is only futility, darkness, disillusion and death. It is all part of the tortured artist stereotype.
The gift of talent is mysterious.
I'm not entirely sold. Granted, the gift of talent is mysterious and for lack of better definitions, God-given or gene-driven. Its development and flowering requires grueling work, deep discipline and ferocious dedication.

Writers of fiction, of which I am a practitioner, spend a lot of time creating parallel worlds in which characters interact and pursue experiences that are activated within the mind. These worlds are based on the writer's own experiences, hearsay and an amalgamation of memories, observations and ideas scrambling around in the imagination, all willfully whipped into order in a story format that seeks to find truth out of this muddle.

It is hard to convey the difficulties required to create fiction whether in the form of a novel, play or short story. It requires long hours of deep thinking and is a time-consuming and lonely effort of physical and mental labor to write and rewrite, ponder and argue with one's muse on how best to render a story. It is, indeed, a profound exercise difficult to explain as a process except to like-minded people engaged in such a pursuit.

It's easy to attribute a breakdown or a wish to escape from such a difficult and mysterious process. There have been many false romantic notions created by those who do not share these singular human talents. Some might conclude that one motive for suicide might be that the well has run dry, and the writer has reached the end of some mythical creative journey that has taken them to the edge of an equally mythical cliff, leaving the sole option of jumping into oblivion.

Sometimes the creative well runs dry.
This so called "well run dry" theory has a long history and offers a satisfying explanation. It can't be rejected completely. For writers and all artists, the creative impulse is the oxygen that sustains them, and the possibilities of its perceived loss is consequential and could very well spark end of life thoughts.

Then there is the theory of the failed writer, those who believe in their talent and creations, yet are repeatedly rejected and, out of frustration and failure, take their own life. John Kennedy Toole seems to be an example of that category. His literary recognition came after his suicide by his mother's efforts to get his work published.

Perceived failure has long been a motive for suicide. But doesn't that apply to anyonewho is unable to cope with unfulfilled dreams? Strangely, there is the case of Ross Lockridge, Jr. who authored the well-received novel Raintree County. Favorably compared to Gone With the Wind, it was made into a movie with the two reigning stars of the day, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. Any creative writer would consider this a home run. Not Mr. Lockridge. He shot himself on the eve of the movie's release after the novel's long run on the New York Times bestseller list.

But there are many wonderfully creative and successful writers, Shakespeare may be a pinnacle example, who seem to have decided to pack it in for other reasons. As they say, using the poker analogy, there is a time to hold and a time to fold.

The list of famous writers who chose the path of continuation of their creative efforts or simple retirement is far longer than those writers who snuffed out their lives through suicide, and many have engaged in a large spectrum of occupations and endeavors.
The creative life offers both agony and ecstasy.
My own view is that the creative life offers both agony and ecstasy. Whether one is a writer, painter, composer or any other occupation where the gift of imaginary invention is required, one should accept their talent as a cause for celebration. The lucky possessor who discovers its power should accept the gift as long as it lasts. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime. Sometimes it flowers and wilts. As the poet Robert Herrick opines.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

The underlying causes of suicide are complex and numerous. It is a human fault line and is not exclusive to artists.

What is your opinion? Does the creative life of a writer bring with it added stress and susceptibility? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Does the writer's life bring added stress & susceptibility to suicide? @WarrenAdler on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Writing Through the Pain

By Andrea Merrell @AndreaMerrell

Many people feel called to write, but don’t know what to write about. This is especially true for new writers. Even seasoned authors look for inspiration wherever they can find it, but sometimes they miss one of the most valuable resources available . . . pain.

Why in the world would we want to write about pain? Because it’s a fact of life. It’s something everyone goes through, whether physical, mental, emotional, or relational. And it’s something everyone can not only relate to, but learn from—especially when we’re willing to be open, honest, and transparent with what we’ve experienced.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Kid You Not—The Truth about Writing for Children

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

When new writers enter the world of publishing, the genre they lean toward is children. I’ve often wondered why until I realized it’s a mindset – and a wrong mindset at that.

I began to ask new writers the question, “Why this genre? Why children’s?” Eighty percent of the time, I got a deer in the headlights look; the remaining twenty percent responded they thought writing for children was easy and short.

There is some element of truth to that – children’s stories are short. The reminding mindset is just wrong. Writing for children is not as easy as it sounds. As writers, we assume children are so low on the learning scale that we can write anything and it will qualify.

Writing for children requires skill. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Size Your Social Media Image Correctly for More Shares

NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect the changes in social media size requirements as of 10-28-15

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

There's not a lot as frustrating as trying to look at an image on Facebook that's the wrong size. By the time I blow it up big enough to see it, it's too blurry. Here are some exact dimensions to help you avoid that trap, and not just for Facebook.

This is the third time I've posted information on Social Media Images, but this isn't just repeated information. Social media is in a constant state of flux, and that pertains to the size and type of images that work best on each network.

So this is my UPDATED Social Media Image Cheat Sheet
This list will give you the specific information you need to upload photos to various social media sites.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother’s Day Mayhem

by Sarah Van Diest

Mother’s Day doesn’t necessarily mean everything goes Mother’s way. Last year’s special day was not what I signed up for.

The church service was over and the youth band was packing up. They had done a great job leading worship so I bee-lined my way to the front to congratulate them, especially Zach, the lead kid on the team.

I hopped up the stairs to the stage, but misjudged the final step. (Yep. Feel free to picture what was about to happen.) My right foot caught the lip of the stage and a forward fall commenced. In slow motion, or lightning speed, both are fitting, I crashed head first into the side of the black grand piano; the brunt of the impact landing on my right front teeth. My face turned sideways and my cheek suction-cupped itself to the black surface as I slipped down it.

Everything went black.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Be All There

by Beth Vogt @BethVogt

"Wherever you are - Be all there." ~Jim Elliot

Wherever you are … be all there.

It’s easy to “be all there” when where I am is a good place to be.                            

When life is going my way. When circumstances are favorable. When all’s well with the world — and when my relationships are peaceful and easy.

But being all there — and staying there — when life is careening out of my control? When the longed for yes is an unwanted and unyielding no? Well, sometimes that’s when I go looking for the EXIT.

The times when I am able to stay … to be all there when I really, really want to be somewhere else — that’s when I learn the most. When I change the most. When I see the things … or the people … or the hidden truth that I might have missed if I’d walked away.

Being all there is about doing life on purpose. Paying attention. Being all there costs you something. But it also gives you something in return: experience. Life change. Understanding. Appreciation.

In Your Words: How do you ensure that you’re “all there” in the day to day of your life? What have you learned by doing life on purpose and paying attention?


Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’Words.

Friday, May 8, 2015

7 Lessons for Creatives from the Life of J.R.R. Tolkien, Part 1

Vonda here: I’m pleased to share Part 1 of a post from Trevor McMaken, pastor and artist at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, IL. 

He has a passion for pastoring artists in the church and equipping them to grow in their gifts and in their relationship with the Lord, and releasing them to serve the church and the world with their creativity. 

Follow the McMakens’ writing and music at

7 Lessons for Creatives from the Life of J.R.R. Tolkien, Part 1 
by Trevor McMaken

Like many in my generation, I have spent countless hours following diminutive folks with hairy feet around the magical, yet familiar world of Middle Earth. As an artist, I’ve often wondered how anyone could create a world so immersive—complete with millennia of histories and language lexicons—and still so personal and spiritual. In the face of such genius, I often feel insecure in my own meager artistic endeavors. How could I ever create something of such lasting depth and beauty? But after reading J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter, I came away refreshed and recommitted to my own art.

Here are seven ways in which reading about Tolkien’s creative life has inspired mine.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stay in the Writing Game

Edie here. Today's post is important for every single one of you who have the dream of holding your published book in your hand. 

It's also a celebration of Lynn's first book. 

I've watched her through the years, never giving up, never giving in and a couple of weeks ago, she handed me a copy of her first book, Covert Justice. It's a GREAT book and I encourage you to get your own copy. It's available everywhere June 2. But you can preorder it on Amazon. Now back to our regularly scheduled post...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

One Author's Pet Peeves & How She uses Them to Strengthen Her Characters

by Lynette Eason @LynetteEason

Get some good out of those irritating pet peeves!
Hi all, glad you could stop by on this fabulous first Wednesday in May. How can it be MAY? Didn’t we just take down the Christmas tree last week? Well maybe not, but it certainly feels that way.

So anyway, how may of you have pet peeves? I do. A lot of them it seems like.

Oh. What IS a pet peeve, you ask? Well, this is what Miriam’s Dictionary says: An irritating experience caused by others in which you cannot control.

So, irritating is bad enough. But one I can’t control? Yeah. That’s the part that gets me. I don’t like things I can’t control. Just ask my husband. Ha.

Some of my pet peeves:
  • Singing a completely different song than what’s playing on the radio.
  • Playing a game on your phone with the sound ON while I’m watching television.
  • Making the dog go out when I’ve just let him in.
  • Telling me you will be finished with a home improvement project in one week and three weeks later…

You get the idea.

So, what’s the point of this post?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Harbingers—Four Books, Four Established Novelists, One GREAT Series


The Girl, book four of the novella series The Harbingers is now available. This is my contribution to the team effort. For those who may not know or may have forgotten, let me explain. The Harbingers is a series of novellas (short novels) each centered on a group of very different people forced to work as a team to deal with a series of seemingly unrelated supernatural events. Each has a talent and none know why they've been thrown together.

Monday, May 4, 2015

More Facebook Changes and How They Affect Scheduling Programs

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

If you use a scheduling program, like Hootsuite or Buffer, you probably received a fairly technical email last week warning of Facebook changes. 

It went through the changes that Facebook has made regarding Facebook groups and to personal profiles.

These FB changes only affect scheduling posts for FB groups. This will NOT affect scheduling any posts for professional pages or your regular newsfeed.

But there are additional changes that will affect personal profiles.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Screeching Halt

So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again. Numbers 12:15

Miriam's sin brought the entire nation of Israel to a screeching halt for seven days while God dealt with her and brought her back in line with His will. It must have been devastating for Miriam to realize she was the cause of an unscheduled stop.

How do I know presume to know what she was feeling? Because recently I discovered I'm a Miriam.

Have you ever said yes to something because you thought you should, or continued serving even though God was leading you in a different direction? In my zeal to serve God, I’d become prideful and thought I knew better than Him. I once again ran ahead of His will. I'd said yes to too many things and become a stumbling block to a ministry I love. 

For years I've known that trying to do too many things at once means I wouldn't be able to do them well. But I seem to be a slow learner, or at least someone with a poor memory. When I pay attention to the Holy Spirit, this misguided urge stays in check, but when I stray, life gets stressful . . . for everyone.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity make things right by turning over some of my responsibilities to those God had called to serve. And as I sat, listening to them express their joy at that opportunity, it hit me how selfish I'd been. Not only was I disobedient (bad enough) but I stood in the way of others who wanted to serve. In effect, I brought the whole thing to a screeching halt while God dealt with my disobedience.

It felt good to let go of the duties I’d disobediently taken up as mine, to once again align myself with God’s will and let Him be the only one in charge. As I relearn the lesson of listening, the stress is receding and the joy is returning.