Monday, February 24, 2014

Olympic Break

Courtesy of digitalart and
Do you know what the Olympics and writing have in common?

They both cause me to put things on hold.

Reading books. Watching movies. Chores of all sorts. Yep, all of it got shoved aside to watch my favorite Winter Olympic sports. In fact, even my writing got pushed back a little during the last two weeks!

I did, however, continue reading through from the Inside…Out by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck (that’s what commercials are for, right?). That’s helped me keep my story in mind, thinking through possibilities for the plot and characters and theme. Now that the Olympics are wrapping up, hopefully I’ll be able to pick up right where I left off with my writing.

Courtesy of Natara and
Today I’m trying to catch up on my household chores that kept trying to pull me away from short track speed skating, figure skating, and alpine skiing. There’s clothing to be laundered, floors to sweep, dishes to wash, and items to organize. With a bit of determination, I’m sure I’ll make great strides toward a clean house…and in so doing, an organized work space to promote creativity, a very necessary thing for this writer.

What do YOU put on hold during the Olympics? What are some of your favorite memories from this year’s Winter Olympic Games? How do you balance keeping a clean house with writing, or enjoying your favorite hobby (if writing isn’t your thing)?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Trending: eShorts

A relatively new trend in Christian fiction caught my attention recently. Electronic short stories—or eShorts—are popping up everywhere you turn. The neat thing about these miniscule books is that their authors have discovered several different ways in which to use them.

Some writers pen novellas intended for eReaders. JoAnn Durgin’s Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and Starlight, Star Bright are great examples of this type.

Others choose to give their readers a bonus book to share more details about a supporting character the readers fell in love with in a full length novel. Roseanna M. White gave us a glimpse of Isaac Fairchild’s life beyond Ring of Secrets with her eShort, Fairchild’s Lady.

In an upcoming eShort, available for pre-order now at only 99 cents on, You Made Me Love You delivers the much anticipated (at least by me!) bonus story of what happened to Seth Rayner after Beth K. Vogt’s Wish You Were Here.


Another style in this growing trend took me by surprise, mostly for its uniqueness. Joanne Bischof’s Heartfelt Recipes is part cook book, part mini-story. Both accompany her Cadence of Grace series. She’s called it a cookbooklet, which I think is a cool term.

Then there’s a series of novellas written by different authors, all with similar themes. A prime example is the Year of Weddings series. It features authors such as Deborah Raney, Rachel Hauck, Katie Ganshert, and Denise Hunter, among others.

Still another type of eShort I’ve enjoyed is the stand-alone connector. Authors of this kind use them to connect two non-series books (a.k.a. stand-alone novels). Kim Vogel Sawyer released one recently, called Just As I Am, that fits between her novels What Once Was Lost and Echoes of Mercy.

With such variety in this new trend, I’m sure authors of all styles of writing will be able to find one that works for them. And I’m sure their readers will love getting their hands on these bonus books. I, for one, am eager for the next one to come across my Kindle!

Which of your favorite authors has tested the eShort waters? Are you a fan of this growing trend? What trends have you noticed lately?

Don't forget, I've recently updated my website here at Writing to Inspire. Now there's a page about the proofreading services I offer. Feel free to share it with your writer friends!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Simple Change

Late last year, I won a copy of Judith Miller’s book, A Simple Change. This past week, I gave it a read. Even though the title hinted at it, the beautiful simplicity of the tale took me by surprise. That’s not to say there weren’t twists and turns along the way. I wouldn’t like it if those elements were absent. They were there, and boy were they wonderful!

In A Simple Change, Jancey Rhoder’s world gets tipped on its axis when her parents declare they’re moving back to Middle Amana, the colonies they grew up in. Deciding to move with them, 22-year-old Jancey leaves behind a suitor and the life she’s always known. As she wonders if she’ll find a place to belong in this new-to-her town, she uncovers secrets that may threaten the entire village. Will she figure out who she can trust? Or will she let a slip of the tongue destroy her hopes of remaining with her ill mother?

This book reads quite like a memoir or diary, especially since it’s written in the first person. Though a bit unusual, the singular point of view created an intimacy difficult to pull off in other vantage points. Also, it brought a tenderness to the characters that I really enjoyed. If this is what Judith Miller brings to the table, I’ll gladly read more of her novels … and recommend them to you! I’m sure you’ll be just as delighted with this tale as I was. It’s a charming story of trust and devotion, two things difficult to come by in a technology crazed world. So, turn off your cell phones, iPads, and other gadgets and take a step back in time to Middle Amana. You might be surprised at how little you miss your doodads once you submerge yourself into Jancey Rhoder’s new world.

Have you ever read a book that transported you to a different place or time? Did you learn anything that could be applied to today’s world? What historical fiction books do you recommend that achieved this sense of time travel?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Life is Really About...

What is life really about?

Life isn’t about the money we missed because we were out sick for three days.

It isn’t about living paycheck to paycheck.

It isn’t about what we think the world owes us.

It isn’t about losing our job or finding out that we’re not receiving all the benefits we thought we were getting or the fact that our insurance payment is due and we can’t scrape up the money to keep on track.

It’s not about any of that.

Do you know that feeling of pure panic that comes at the end of all the scenarios I just presented to you? Well, it’s not about that panic, either.

It’s what we do when we feel that panic. It’s how we handle that sense of urgency that comes with being the one to figure out what to do next.

Let me tell you: if you think you’re still in the driver’s seat at that point of panic, pull the car over and park it. If you’re in full-blown panic mode, you ain’t in control, honey, that’s for sure.

Believe me, I’ve been there. One week last October, I was sick and missed a lot of work. I only worked four hours (and I usually work around twenty, give or take a couple.) My paycheck was severely lessened, obviously. What I realized, though, is that it’s not about the missing money or the few hours I managed to work or any of that stuff. It’s not even about how I’d somehow survive that week. Nope. It isn’t about me.

It’s all about God.

It’s about how He wanted me to realize that He is the one behind the steering wheel. He is the one who provides everything I need. God has provided me shelter, food, and a loving family. He has provided me with a job that I love with a boss who is flexible and understands when I’m sick and unable to come in for a couple days. God has provided everything I need, and He will continue to do so.

In all of life, good times and bad times alike, it’s super important that we always remember to praise God and thank Him for being in charge of our lives. He looks out for us and provides for us in so many ways, most of which we either take for granted or completely fail to notice.

Too many times we’re focused on where our next meal, paycheck, etc. are coming from that we blind ourselves to how God is moving on our behalf. We all need to just slow down a little bit and observe the ways in which God touches our lives, providing all our needs—and blessing us with fun “extras” simply because He loves us.

I’m reminded of a verse in Matthew chapter seven.

Matthew 7:11 NIV
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

He blesses us with so many gifts, even without asking Him: the ability to breathe, health, food, shelter, family, friends. The list continues. How much more will He bless us when we ask!

A key to this, for me, is to remember to thank Him for the blessings He grants us as they come our way. It’s always wonderful to show our appreciation for His thoughtfulness toward us.

Praise God, for He is good! May He continue to bless each of you as you journey through life with Him. Amen.

How does God remind YOU that He’s in control? Do you find it easy or difficult to turn the wheel over to Him? What do you have to let go of in order for Him to drive the car? Do you remember to praise and thank Him in even the difficult days?

Please share your stories in the comment section.