Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's a prompt to try today:

"If I could go back in time.."

Happy writing!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."

— Mikhail Baryshnikov

The only standard you need to meet is the one you set for yourself. You should not compare yourself to others. You should write for yourself. If you don't like your work, how can anyone else? Write something you love.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, March 25, 2016

"No One to Trust" by Melody Carlson

For this "Friday Reads," I'm highlighing No One to Trust by Melody Carlson, a new Love Inspired Suspense release (March 8, 2016). Here's an excerpt:

The guy had a gun trained on the woman Jon had seen earlier.

"Call off that dog!" the man screamed at Jon.

"Come here, boy," Jon said with authority. His tail between his legs, Ralph slowly approached and Jon scooped him up. The little dog's body was tense, as if on high alert, as if something was still very wrong.

"Now get outta here!" the guy yelled, waving his weapon.

The frightened woman watched Jon with a tear-streaked face. He knew he needed to do something — but what?

"I warned you!" The man look flustered and agitated — as if trying to make up his mind. Probably deciding which one of them to shoot next.

In that same split second, Jon looked at the woman and made his decision. "Run!" He yelled at her.

As the man with the gun turned to the woman, Jon sprang at him and knocked him flat onto the gravel road, making the revolver fly from his hand.

"Run for your life!" Jon yelled at her.

You can read my review in the March 2016 issue of RT Bookreviews Magazine or at the following link...
(I rated it 4.5 - TOP PICK/5 stars.)

Amazon link for purchase...

About Melody...

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in my Flip-Flops), but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors, etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Times' Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson visit her website at

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Audience

Tuesday Tip

"My play was a complete success. The audience was a failure."

—Ashleigh Brilliant

Whenever you are writing, it is important for you to first identify the audience. Different audiences  will approach your work with a different set of expectations. In order for it to be a successful match, you need to be sure that you understand and meet their needs. Every word written should keep the target audience in mind. If you do not, your perfect work may never succeed.

Finding your niche will make your book more appealing to the people who will ultimately buy and read it. When trying to determine your target audience, be sure to consider things such as age, gender, geographic location, and genre.You should have a specific picture of your audience in mind when you start writing.

Friday, March 18, 2016

"I Want it All" by Gwen Smith

My Review...

If you are looking for a book that is relatable and designed to help you see yourself as God designed you to be, then this book is for you. Smith is warm and encouraging as she shares her transparent stories in this book, which is broken down into three parts: All the Faith, All the Power, and All the Impact. Everyone wants a wonderful life, but it is sometimes difficult to see how that can occur with the messiness that happens daily. Many people struggle with over-commitment, making it difficult to leave room for God’s unique plan for each of us. Smith’s book reminds the reader that no one is too far gone for God’s grace, which changes everything.

Smith points out the trials happen to everyone. The difference is in how we choose to respond. Trials can actually help us prioritize and provide opportunities for God to show His strength. This book demonstrates that it is still possible to have a strong faith in the midst of conflict and fear. Acronyms such as KNEEL (Know Him; Notify my heart, my enemy, and my girlfriends; Express the mess; Exchange my will for God’s will; Expand my heart and worship; Learn the word) and REST (Reflect, Engage, Surrender, Trust) help solidify her message. She points out that “Worrying might be your natural response, but it doesn’t have to be your chosen response.”

Each chapter ends with a reflection and response section which includes opportunities for the reader to interact with Smith on social media. She states, “You and I were born for greatness…for eternal greatness: to know God and showcase God.” This would be a great book to use for personal or group study or for anyone wanting a deeper walk with Jesus.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher as part of the Litfuse Blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t receive any compensation for my review.

Link for purchase...

About Gwen...

My goal is to encourage you to think big thoughts about God by pointing you to His truth and grace through stories, songs, and Scripture. Without hesitation; I am an unashamed, imperfect worshiper of Jesus Christ. His goodness covers my mess and purposes my days to live out the hope of the Gospel. It is my joy and passion to inspire women to live fully in Christ. How? I speak. I sing. I write books, devotions, and songs. I worship. I post, pin, and Tweet. I am intensely in love with the Word of God and believe, wholeheartedly, that the Bible is divinely inspired truth.

Formal me…

I am the author of Broken into Beautiful (Harvest House Publishing), co-author of Trusting God and Knowing God by Name (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing), and just published I Want it All (David C. Cook Publishing). I am one of three co-founders of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotional ministry with more than 800,000 subscribers from all across the world. I speak, lead worship, and perform concerts for thousands of people annually at Christian women's events and churches. Over the years, I've shared the ministry platform with tons of "big names," but none close to the name of JESUS :-)

I have new songs coming out soon that were written to coordinate with my new book, I Want it All, and I'm giddy excited about them. I was a staff songwriter and worship artist for Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing from 2008 to 2011, have written freelance for LifeWay and Lillenas Publishing, and am now writing for Audio 31 Music, in collaboration with Sunday Best Music out of Nashville, Tennessee.

I have shared my testimony, stories, and songs on such TV shows as Life Today with James and Betty Robison, The 700 Club, The Harvest Show, The Good Life, The HomeKeepers Show, and Atlanta Live. Additionally, I've also been featured on many radio programs.

Not-so-formal Me…

I am a carpooling, coffee-craving, dark chocolate lover who struggles like many with dirty dishes, messy piles, mountains of laundry, complicated relationships, and cellulite. I play guitar and live to lose myself in worship at the piano. Volleyball is my sport of choice. Love. That. Game.

My family rocks my world. They are my first ministry priority. I've been married to Brad, my hunky college honey, for 22 years now. We have three cool kids, all teens, who keep us on our toes and on our knees. On most days, after homework has been done, we can be found on a court, at a field, or in a gym somewhere in the greater Charlotte area. We live in sunny North Carolina and are members of Life Fellowship Church where I serve as a worship leader, occasionally teach an adult Sunday School class, and where my husband serves as an elder.

Where to find Gwen online…

Twitter      @GwenSmithMusic

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's a prompt to try today:

Who is your favorite band and why? 

Happy writing!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

Writers bring richness to the lives of their readers! This has been going on for thousands of years, so you are carrying on a wonderful tradition. Albert Einstein said, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Books educate and entertain. Books cause the reader to be curious about the world around them. Writing and reading are key elements of living. So ... KEEP WRITING!

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, March 11, 2016

"A Baby for the Rancher" by Margaret Daley ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Margaret has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US Only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends March 18, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Margaret...

A Baby for the Rancher is the last book in a continuity series for Love Inspired. I was asked to write this by my editor. I enjoyed working on this continuity book, especially working with the other five authors in the series, and right now I’m finishing up my book for the next "Lone Star Cowboy" series starting later this year (another LI continuity). A Cowboy’s Texas Family will be out next January.

Q & A with Margaret...

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:   I would be teaching. (I did while writing for years until I retired.)

Q:   What advice do you have for new authors?
A:   Don’t give up and read a lot of books in your genre.    

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book? 
A:  Goals, Motivation and Conflict by Deb Dixon

Q:  What can you tell me about your next project? 
A:  My next project will be another book in my "Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations Series." The book is called Deadly Legacy.

Q:  You write for both Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. Do you prefer writing romantic suspense or contemporary romance? 
A:  My preference is writing romantic suspense because I love reading it as well as writing it.

Q:  Introvert or extrovert? 
A:  Usually an extrovert but I can have my times that I prefer being an introvert.

Q:  Mexican or Italian food? 
A:  Mexican

Thanks so much for stopping by, Margaret. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better!

You can read my review at the following link:
(I gave it 4/5 stars.)

Amazon link for purchase...

About Margaret...

Margaret Daley, a USA Today’s Bestselling author of over ninety-five books (five million plus sold worldwide), has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread, and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Ellipsis Points

Tuesday Tip

Many people overuse ellipsis points. Are you one of them? If you are, readers may be more likely to remember your work for the punctuation marks than the story itself. When used sparingly, ellipsis points can be quite effective.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), "Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty, and they should be reserved for that purpose."

They often work well in the middle of a sentence or when one speaker interrupts another in a dialogue section.

Here are some examples:

1. Fragmented Speech (per CMOS #13.39):

  •  "I ... I mean, we ... yeah, we weren't doing anything wrong," David said.

2.   Omissions (per CMOS #13.48):

  • "But why can't we..."

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Web of Shadows" by Susan Sleeman ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Susan has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US Only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends March 11, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Susan...

I love computers and electronics — like stand in line for the next iPhone love them. And since they are becoming more and more a part of our lives, I wanted to use my knowledge to share stories of how cyber crimes can impact our everyday lives. That's how the "Agents Under Fire" series was born. The series features three female FBI agent who work on an elite FBI Cyber Action Team. And, of course, I wanted the plot to have high stakes. So as I was contemplating an upcoming trip, I came up with the idea of a teen hacking into the TSA's No-Fly List, making the list vulnerable to unscrupulous people. Those stakes weren't high enough for me, so I decided to have the computer that was used for the hack placed into a geocache where anyone could find it and thus have access to the No-Fly List. And then, I wanted to make the crime personal to my FBI agent, so I made the hacker be the younger brother of the man my FBI agent was in love with, and, of course, made the man who finds the computer have a grudge against the agent so he wants to frame her for the hack. Which he tries to do using everyday technology. I hope the reader, while enjoying the book, can see the dangers in technology and also see how hard it is to protect our national security.

Q & A with Susan...

Q: Which of your books is your favorite and why?
A:  I think I am like a lot of writers who think whatever book they are working on is their favorite. I guess that's because with each book you grow as a writer. That said, I just did the first edits on Web of Lies and I really enjoyed reading the story again.

Q:  What are your thoughts about the changes taking place in the publishing industry?
A:  Publishing, like any other industry, is changing and evolving. Through the advent of self-publishing, more and more books are available for readers, which is a good thing. What I have a problem with is the devaluing of the price of books. I'm like anyone and love to get a good deal, but most authors cannot make a living from writing, and they work a full-time job, too. With book prices dropping so dramatically to $.99 and free, it becomes even more difficult. Authors spend so many hours working on a book, and I assure you that many authors don't even make minimum wage for their work, which I think needs to change.

Q:  What advice do you have for new authors?
A:  Learn to write. Writing is a craft just like playing a musical instrument. Writers have to practice and learn and practice even more. This is not something that ends when you're published but continues for as long as you are writing.

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  I would go into graphic design. I love doing website and print design and would have loved to have a career in that area, too.

Q: What is the one book you wish you had written?
A:  Oh, gosh, that is such a great question, but I don't have an answer for.

Q:  Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
A:  I currently don't have any pets but have had both dogs and cats over the years. My daughter who still lives with us has a lovely cat named Tabitha. She is seven years old, and Emma adopted her this year. I have never met a more loving and gentle cat in my life. She is truly special, and I enjoy having her as part of our family…especially the early morning snuggles as I wake up and drink my coffee.

Q: What is your favorite movie?
A:  Ah, only one? I don't think I can name just one, but if I must… I love The Parent Trap. I have loved it since the original when I was a kid and still love the modern-day version.

Q:  I always loved that movie, too, particularly the original.What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:  I love anything written by Donald Maass.

Q:  What is your favorite season?
A:  Oh, gosh, there you go asking for one item again, LOL! I love spring as I love to garden and that is when the season begins. I just received all my seeds for this year and can't wait for the soil to warm a few more degrees, and I'll be out there planting peas. I always feel like it's a time of new beginnings. But here in Oregon it is still raining pretty much every day in the spring, so I also love summer when the rain stops and we have day after day of sunshine and I can putter around in the garden with the sun at my back, the birds chirping, and the lawnmowers humming in the distance. This is the time I feel closest to God as I marvel in all the amazing colors of His flowers and the growth of plants that feed and nourish us. Plus, of course, I get to harvest all the veggies and fruits I sowed in the spring :-)

Q: What can you tell me about your next project?
A:  I am super excited about a new series that I recently contracted with Hachette Book Group, FaithWords imprint. The series is called "White Knights,"  and it is about an elite FBI Critical Incident Response Team headquartered in Washington, DC. The team includes experts in crisis management, explosives, ballistics/weapons, negotiating/criminal profiling, cyber crimes, and forensics. All team members are former military, and they stand ready to deploy within four hours anytime and anywhere to mitigate the highest-priority threats facing our nation.

Book One, Fatal Mistake, releases in May 2017 and here's a description:

Each day could be her last…
Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Afraid and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan: to stay alive for another day, because she knows he's coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

But not if he can help it...
Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months — to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf's bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person whose unforgettable memory can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. Now Cal's goal changes. Protect Tara at all costs and make no mistakes while hunting down the bomber, as one wrong move could be fatal.

That sounds like a great book! Thanks so much for stopping by, Susan, and answering a few questions. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better.

My Review...

Wiley has spent the last two years in prison, and he was just released. He is now bent on revenge against FBI agent Nina Brandt, who he feels ruined his life. Wiley has come into possession of a laptop and plans to sell it for parts, until he realizes he can use it for a far more sinister plan: setting up Nina.

Nina is part of a cyber action team and has a feeling she is being watched. She used to date Navy SEAL Quinn Stone. She begrudgingly agrees to help him help his brother Ty, who is accused of hacking the No-Fly List. Quinn hopes Nina’s connections can keep his brother out of jail, prove it was just a stupid prank, and confirm Ty is not working with terrorists.

When Wiley initiates “Operation Payback,” he is quite successful at casting a shadow of suspicion over Nina as he attempts to hijack her life. Will Quinn be able to save Ty and Nina, or will he lose the two people he loves?

This is another winner from Sleeman! It is the second installment in the “Agents Under Fire” series, but it can be read as a standalone. It is apparent that Sleeman put a lot of time and effort into her research, as this is full of realistic details which add to the suspense and fast pace. It’s scary to think about how easy it can be to cause such havoc in someone else’s life, such as Wiley does to Nina. I also enjoy the fact that there is more suspense than romance, as it adds to the chilling, creepy factor! Highly recommended!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase:

About Susan...

Susan Sleeman is a bestselling author of clean read and inspirational romantic suspense books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion —2013 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award, No Way Out and The Christmas Witness —Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalists, and Web of Deceit, an INSPY finalist and Swoony award winner.

Susan grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing novels and hosting the popular Internet website TheSuspenseZone.

Susan currently lives in Oregon, but she and her husband have had the pleasure of living in nine states. They have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. 

Where you can find Susan…


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's a prompt to try today:

Write a three-paragraph essay that compares/contrasts two of your favorite fictional characters.

Happy writing!