Friday, July 30, 2010

"10 Steps to Being a Writer" by Kay Marshall Strom

Today I'm posting a guest blog (below) from my friend and fellow author Kay Marshall Strom. It's some of the best advice for writers that I've seen in a long while. To learn more about Kay and/or to follow her excellent blog, go to


I just got back from a trip to Little Rock where I did several taped interviews. It took three flights to get there and two to get home. One flight was delayed two hours and another was canceled, then reinstated at a different gate. That meant lots of time spent talking and commiserating. Lots of chit-chat. Lots of asking, "So, why are you going to Little Rock?" and "What's your job?"

I've always maintained that 3 out of every 4 people who know I'm a writer say, "Oh, I want to write, too!" And half of those add, "Any hints on how I can get started?" On my trip to Little Rock, I decided to gather some scientific basis for my number estimates, so I kept a tally. Here's what I got:

Asked what I did--14
Want to be a writer too--12
Asked for hints for getting started--8.
For all you people on those flights last week, and everyone else with how-can-I-be-a-writer questions, here is my advice:

Set aside a writing area. You say you plan to clear away a little spot when you're ready to write? Won't happen! My first writing area was a dedicated end of the kitchen table. Yours doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to be yours.
Learn your craft. Locate a writing class (university continuing education classes can be great). Find--or start--a writers' critique group. Start saving your $$ for a good writers conference.
Invest in the tools of the trade. For starters, you need: A computer. A printer. Internet service. A basic set of reference books. A bookcase for your library. (Trust me, you'll accumulate a library!)
Read. Great writers are great readers. Read different things: books on writing, magazines, books both fiction and non-fiction. Read critically, paying attention to characters, plots, tension, the use of details.
Put words down on paper. Loosen up your writing joints by spending five minutes writing whatever pops into your head. Don't stop until the five minutes are up. After that, the sky's the limit.
Write every day. It may mean getting up early. It may mean turning off the TV. (Bonus for the entire family!) But make time to write every day. Oh, and carry a notebook with you so you can jot down ideas. The most unforgettable ones have a way of hitting at inopportune times, then slithering away before you can find paper.
Determine what type of writing you want to pursue. Your first clue might be the type of writing you enjoy reading. That old nugget Write about what you know has a lot of truth to it. If you love reading legal drama, but know nothing about the legal system, you've got a huge amount of research to do. Do you love to ponder life? To know your family? Maybe you want to write a journal, or a family history for your next reunion. All writing doesn't have to be published.
Think small. "I'm writing a novel about..." Why does everyone think novel? Or even book? Write fillers. Start a blog. Write an article for your local newspaper. Contribute to on-line magazines. Writing small hones your work, a vital step for most writers.
Write something someone wants to read. If your intention is to be published, avoid the trap of writing only for yourself. Instead, write with the reader in mind. Locate the Writers' Guidelines for the publisher to which you want to submit and follow the directions. Edit your work until it's the best you can do right now, then send it off.
Expect rejections. Rejection letters are part of the writing process. We all get them. Some of us get lots and lots of them. When you open yours, remember that it's only one editor's opinion. Only one publication's consideration. Lots of great books were rejected many times before they hit stardom. On the other hand, look back over your manuscript with an editor's eye. What problems did she see? What will you rewrite before you send it out again?
Best advice: If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and never give up.

"When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cold and you come to your work and warm as you write."

Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Remember the prisoners...and those who are mistreated"

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, and those who are mistreated,
since you yourselves are in the body also (Hebrews 13:3, NKJV).

It’s obvious that the above admonition to “remember the prisoners…and those who are mistreated” is referring to other believers, since the verse ends with “…you yourselves are in the body ALSO” (emphasis added). Most often, however, this verse is used to encourage believers to minister to prisoners, regardless of the reason they are behind bars or whether or not they are Christians.
That is certainly a valid use of this verse, but even more so is the application to believers who are in prison and/or mistreated simply because they are Christians. And that goes on in countries around the world, each and every day. That very focus is the theme in both my current contemporary series, as well as my stand-alone historical. I’m discovering an interesting difference in the way these books are received, however. Though the contemporary stories of suffering Christians are applauded by some, others have told me they’re uncomfortable and disturbed by reading about something “so depressing going on today.” The historical novel, on the other hand, though dealing with the same topic in a third-century context, doesn’t seem to evoke the same uncomfortable response. Is it because it happened so long ago and therefore doesn’t call us to face the fact that persecution of Christians continues today—in fact, at a much higher rate than at any other time in history?
“Remember the prisoners…and those who are mistreated.” That’s not a suggestion, but rather a command. My next series will take that command a step farther—this time to include the estimated 27 million people around the world (including right here in America!) who are currently enslaved by human traffickers. The Scriptures tell us that we are to “remember” them “as if chained with them.” I must confess that if I were physically enslaved with them, I would suddenly understand another scriptural admonition to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Therefore, I dare not make light of Hebrews 13:3’s command to identify with those who are suffering.
Yesterday, however, God used a seemingly accidental encounter to expand my vision a bit farther. I was in town running errands when I spotted a young homeless couple named Randy and Laurie. I’ve encountered and prayed with them before, and when they saw me they ran toward me and thanked me for always being so kind to them. “Most people won’t even look at us,” they explained. “But you touched us and prayed with us. Thank you.”
I must confess that on other occasions I have averted my eyes so as not to be disturbed by someone’s need, but God says to “remember” them as if I too were in their condition. Thank you, Randy and Laurie, for allowing God to use you to remind me that those who are chained and mistreated can also include the homeless. Sort of gives a whole new meaning to the old saying, “There but for the grace of God,” doesn’t it?
Will you join me in remembering those in chains and those who are mistreated and suffering around the world (and maybe right here in our own hometown) today? Pray without ceasing that God will comfort, protect, and rescue them, for we ourselves “are in the body also.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Totally Desperate Mom will keep you laughing!

Wendy Hagen is a riot! Seriously. Hilariously! And absolutely necessarily. Not only does her sense of humor and open candor about herself and her life as a "totally desperate mom" help maintain her own sanity, but it does the same for other desperate moms. If you happen to be one of them (or know someone who is), you REALLY need this book. You'll laugh all the way through Totally Desperate Mom from WinePress Publishing--and get blessed in the process. The book officially releases August 3, but you can pre-order it at Amazon or on Wendy's website:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stop Squeezing Me!!!

I love this lady! She's so...REAL! And she understands that we don't have to get our nails done and floss first before leading someone to Jesus. Whew! What a relief!!! Because if that were the case, I'd be in serious trouble in the evangelism department. (I had my nails done once because I was getting ready for a TV tour and my sweet husband thought it would be nice to actually have fingernails--or the facsimile--while being interviewed. Couldn't wait to get them off when the tour was finished! How in the world do people type or do dishes with them on???)

Yeah, I know. There's nothing wrong with them, and frilly chicks enjoy them. Good. Go for it! But for those of us who would rather watch a football game than go shopping (SERIOUSLY!), it's refreshing to have someone like Margot (rhymes with Fargo) Starbuck come along and tell us we don't have to be squeezed into that mold. (And with the extra pounds I've put on since I officially left middle-age behind and moved into those so-called "golden years," that's really good news because I'm having trouble squeezing into anything these days!)

If you'd like to spring free from "skinny jeans, nose jobs, highlights, and stilettos" other words, if you have thighs and are actually considering plastic surgery in order to finally feel good about who you are--SAVE YOURSELF A BUNCH OF MONEY AND GET THIS BOOK INSTEAD!

Unsqueezed by Margot Starbuck is available wherever fine books are sold, particularly at, so hop on over there and escape that suffocating mold!

Stop by "Robin's Nest" to read our interview

Please stop by Robin Prater's blog today and check out the interview we did--lots of fun!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A New Favorite Author!

Okay, this seldom happens--actually, almost never!--but I have a new name to add to my very short "favorite author" list: Cynthia Ruchti. Cynthia is President of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and she deserves it! They Almost Always Come Home is her debut novel, and it's a blockbuster! Seriously, I not only thoroughly enjoyed the story as a reader, but as a writer I was captivated by Cynthia's talent and ability. This is one of those instances when I so enjoyed an author's first book that I will make sure I'm on the lookout for all the rest of them.

They Almost Always Come Home is a poignant love story, a real-life, no-holds-barred, right-from-the-heart tale of two people torn apart over a wrenching loss and ready to call it quits. Then one of them gets lost, and they both begin a harrowing, danger-filled journey home. The question is, will there be anything left once they get there?

Set in the beautiful northern woods of rugged Canada, this page-turning, heartbreaking/heartwarming story is truly one of the best I've read in a very long time. Thank you, Cynthia, for calling us back to the Father's heart through your perfectly chosen words.

To learn more about Cynthia and/or to order They Almost Always Come Home, go to (Also available in hard cover, large print in August 2010.)

The Greatest of These...

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV).

Love. Has there ever been a more overused word—or a more needed response to life? We proclaim our love for everything from ice cream to our spouse, but seldom think of the power behind that word.
Why does 1 Corinthians tell us that love is greater than faith or hope? Because once we leave this earth and dwell in the presence of God, faith and hope will no longer be necessary. We will at last be able to see the One who was the object of our faith and hope throughout our earthly sojourn, so faith and hope will have been fully and completely realized when we step into eternity. We will no longer have to have faith in or hope for that which we cannot see, for we will be in His presence.
Love, however, endures forever because God Himself is love. The purest and deepest form of love can only be found in God. True, there is a love based in emotion that we experience in our everyday lives, but selfless love can be found nowhere but in the Person of the One whom the Scriptures declare IS love. And that, beloved, is where those of us who have been born into God’s family will spend forever.
Amazing grace indeed! Now, today, abide faith, hope, and love. But when faith and hope have been fulfilled, God’s love will continue on. That’s why we call it heaven!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seasons of Life article on Crosswalk

Anyone interested in reading about the seasons of life? I have a new article up on Crosswalk today:


Valeria's Cross has arrived!

Guess what I discovered when I opened my back door this morning? Two boxes full of Valeria's Cross, hot off the press, waiting for me on the porch. How lovely is that??? The official release date isn't until September 1, but the countdown is on!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chance to win No Greater Love!

Edgy Inspirational Author Blog is giving away No Greater Love, so hop on over there and register to win before it's too late! (And be sure to read the great review while you're at it!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beyond Me Award

Please stop by the Hartline Literary Agency's blog and read the post about my presentation of the Beyond Me award to Rebekah Montgomery, will you?

Let the Faithful One Carry You!

If we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13, NKJV).

I’m a longtime supporter of Voice of the Martyrs and other such ministries. No doubt that connection fed my desire to write the Extreme Devotion fiction series, four novels loosely based on real-life events and individuals in other countries. As a result, when I hear others express their uncertainty and concern over how they would stand up under serious testing or persecution for their faith, I can reassure them by sharing what I’ve learned.
I too, particularly when I was a new Christian and just learning about what some believers endure for their faith, was apprehensive at what my response might be in such a situation. All I could focus on was my own feeble strength. But as my study of persecuted believers and Christian martyrs continued, I came to see a common thread in their lives—and deaths. None relied on his or her own strength. All recognized their frailties and weaknesses and instead clung to God’s strength and faithfulness to get them through.
I love that, don’t you? If I saw persecution on the horizon and knew I had to walk into it on my own, I’d probably just give up right now. But to know that the God who remains faithful, despite my own faithlessness, stands ready and eager to carry me through it enables me to sing with joy as the flames grow hot around me.
It doesn’t have to be a life-or-death choice that causes us to recognize our need to cling to the faithful One. We learn that reliance in the everyday choices of life. Will we compromise a biblical mandate for convenience…or throw ourselves on God’s mercy and ask for a changed heart to do the right thing? Will we deny Christ to impress the world…or willingly allow God’s Spirit to woo us into making the right choice?
It’s the little choices for righteousness that teach us to rely on God when the big decisions loom—and they will! Now is the time to put into practice the belief that even when “we are faithless, He remains faithful.” He will not leave or forsake us; He will carry us through to victory if we will climb into His arms and allow Him to do so.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Interview on Nora St. Laurent's Blog

I thought you might like to see this excellent interview of me by Nora St. Laurent.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dancing for Jesus!

Need a nudge to rejoice? This made me forget all about my arthritis and scoliosis and anything else that really doesn’t matter. Rejoice, dear ones!!!

Live interview with Jane Hampton Cook!

If you get a chance, please tune in to at 11 AM Pacific today to hear my co-host, Ron DiCianni, and yours truly interview an amazing woman. Jane Hampton Cook is not only a bestselling author and frequent guest on Fox News, but she also served as a webmaster for President George W. Bush (1998-03), as well as serving two years as White House deputy director of Internet news services and three years in the Texas governor’s office. Whether speaking publicly, writing, or analyzing current events, Jane focuses on topics that transcend generations, such as courage, freedom, patriotism, leadership, communication, and womanhood. Her books, columns, and speeches deliver prolific portrayals of modern-day heroes and historic Americans. And don’t forget that if you miss us streaming live this morning, you can catch us in the archives any time after the show.


Reflecting Him Blog Tour

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Carla McDougal and also have been reading/enjoying her new book, Reflecting Him. It is my privilege to be part of her blog tour by posting the following guest blog from Carla.

Generations of Praise

One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. – Psalm 145:4 (NKJV)

Have you experienced a family reunion? I don’t mean a gathering that just involves your parents, brothers, sisters, and their children, but one that extends to the previous generations two- and threefold. Each summer, our family is blessed to attend the annual Lucas Family Reunion, which has taken place for about fifty-five years. This year, as I mingled with the more than one hundred relatives in attendance, I realized how many believers are in my family lineage. In my great-great-grandfather’s family there were seventeen sons and one daughter. Can you imagine the food their mama prepared on a daily basis? Think about all the clothes washed by hand on a scrub board! Come to find out, these eighteen children were consistently taught God’s Word by their parents. All of a sudden, this verse popped into my mind: “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

As we gathered on Saturday evening to sing, the harmony of “Amazing Grace” echoed through the retreat camp. At that moment, I realized that I am a product of the generations before me who loved Jesus with all their hearts. Chill bumps covered my whole body! I wondered about the prayers my ancestors prayed years and years ago. Did my great-great-great-grandmother ask the Lord to capture the hearts of her offspring’s children for generations to come? Are these prayers still coming to fruition today? As tears welled up in my eyes, I thanked the Lord for my family.

A personal conviction instantly enveloped me: God is calling me to pass on this same truth to my children and their children and so on. I realized that the more I seek to be like Jesus, the more I will reflect Him—and that, in turn, affects my offspring.

(This is an excerpt from Carla’s 10-week Bible Study, Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It.)

About Reflecting Him:

Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It is a ten-week women’s Bible study. Like Jesus’ parables (which teach important lessons by creating visual pictures for the reader), Reflecting Him uses familiar objects and situations (such as pottery, the human sensory system, and the sun-earth connection) and draws comparisons that help women become aware of Jesus working in various areas of their daily lives. The study is a unique and convenient lay-flat format, so you can write without that annoying bump (you know the one we're talking about.)

Each week is divided into five days (lessons), supporting the central theme for the week. Read the first two chapters (or weeks) online.

The study also has an online component through a Reflecting Him Bible Study Group on Facebook. Individuals working through the study on their own can still get the benefits of a group discussion while working at their own pace. More than 200 people are in the group already and the discussions are really taking off.

This fall a leader's guide, videos, and music will be released to accompany the study.

About Carla:

Carla McDougal is the founder of Reflective Life Ministries and Share Fair, an annual conference for connecting, equipping, and encouraging women in ministry. She speaks at women’s events, retreats, and conferences in the U.S. and internationally. Carla married her high school sweetheart, Fred, and they have four children ages 16 to 23 and live in Magnolia, Texas. Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It (WinePress Publishing, 2010) is Carla’s first book, although she’s been involved in leading and teaching Bible studies for more than 20 years. Carla writes a Monday morning e-votional at her blog, Carla's Corner.

Want Carla to Lead a Lesson for Your Bible Study Group?

With every group purchase of 25 or more studies before August 1, Carla will lead a tele-lesson (over speaker phone) for one of your group meetings. Please email windy(at) to purchase books. Mention the blog tour and tele-lesson at the time of ordering.

You can purchase Reflecting Him through Amazon,, or Reflective Life Ministries.

The Reflecting Him Blog Tour, hosted by RedCouch PR, is June 20 - July 16. Yesterday's post was at To Read or Not to Read and tomorrow’s will be at CafĂ© Lily. Follow along to read a different guest post, interview, or review each day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Interview with Jane Hampton Cook tomorrow--pass it on!

Tomorrow my co-host, Ron DiCianni, and I will interview bestselling author Jane Hampton Cook on our "Communicate the Vision" blogtalkradio show at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Please join us streaming live at or listen in on the archives any time--and pass it on, will you? Here's an introduction to this amazing lady:

Best-selling author, historian, and media analyst Jane Hampton Cook is known for making history both memorable and relevant to today’s news, political events, and issues of faith. Jane is the co-author of Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and author of Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War, The Faith of America’s First Ladies, and Maggie Houston. Jane received a fellowship in 2003 from the Organization of American Historians and the White House Historical Association to conduct historical research on presidents, first ladies, and the White House. She is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel.
A former webmaster for President George W. Bush (1998-03), Jane served two years as White House deputy director of Internet news services and three years in the Texas governor’s office. Whether speaking publicly, writing, or analyzing current events, Jane focuses on topics that transcend generations, such as courage, freedom, patriotism, leadership, communication, and womanhood. Her books, columns, and speeches deliver prolific portrayals of modern-day heroes and historic Americans.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Presenting the Beyond Me Award

What an honor it was to present the first annual Beyond Me award to such a deserving recipient, Rebekah Montgomery, who exemplifies a "you-first life in a me-first world"!

Meet my publisher!

I thought you all might enjoy "meeting" my publisher, Andrea Mullins of New Hope Publishers. She's even more beautiful inside!

Friday, July 9, 2010

CBD is giving my books away! is running a contest to give away copies of No Greater Love and More than Conquerors. Check out these links to enter:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stunning video for Valeria's Cross!

The video trailer for Valeria's Cross, which releases in September, is now up on YouTube, and it's stunning! Please stop by and view it, will you?

Proof that I was working--at least part of the time!

Wish you all could have come!

Meet Half of the Titus 2 Women!

Launching very soon will be the official website of the Titus 2 Women's ministry, consisting of six of us women who have been in the Christian book industry for many, many years, offering our services/experience to young women just starting out on such a venture (more information coming soon!). Meanwhile, here is a photo of three of us from the recent gathering in St. Louis: Sally Stuart, Kathi Macias, and Susan Titus Osborn.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 13, at 11 AM Pacific to listen to my co-host, Ron DiCianni, and me interview author Jane Hampton Cook (who recently appeared on several Fox News segments) on our "Communicate the Vision" blogtalkradio show:

Good times!

Here I am relaxing and doing the "tourist" thing at the Arch in St. Louis with my dear friend and fellow author (aka: "heartbud") Lynni Morrisey (bottom photo) and then back to business in the top photo, waiting with author friend Rosemary Trible for an interview with Pearl Girls' Margaret McSweeney.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kay Marshall Strom's sequel is almost here!

I received the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Kay Marshall Strom's next book in her Grace in Africa series just before leaving for my trip to St. Louis. Naturally I took the book with me on the plane. I thought I'd at least get a chapter or two read before dozing off, which is what I normally do on flights. Not this time! I read the final page just minutes before the plane touched down in St. Louis, and now I can't wait for book three!

The Voyage of Promise releases in October, so if you haven't already read book one of this excellent series--The Call of Zulina--do it now so you'll be ready to jump right in when this second book releases. You can order book one and pre-order book two at (just type in Kay Marshall Strom and start ordering)!

And Kay, get busy, would you? I REALLY want to see what happens to Grace!!!

Another AWSA picture

Here's Rhonda Rhea, named AWSA Member of the Year 2010, sitting in between Charlotte Adelsperger and yours truly during the fiction round table discussion I was leading at the AWSA conference in St. Louis.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thanks to Photographer Charlotte Adelsperger!

Here I am with Charlotte Adelsperger, poet and photographer extraordinaire, who is responsible for all these excellent pictures I've posted so far from my St. Louis trip last week. Will post lots more as soon as I get a chance to download the ones my hubby took!

Old and New Friends Together!

To be more accurate, this is a photo of me between a relatively new friend, multi-published, award-winning author Tricia Goyer (seated on my left), and a LONG-TIME friend of several decades, Martha Bolton. Martha and I started our writing careers together and had our first publicity shots for our first books done together. What an experience that was! (We didn't know then what "glamour shots" were and ended up not using them for our book covers after all!) When we left the studio, we had so much "fat hair" on top of our heads and tons of makeup that we used the drive-through at a fast-food place to get our lunch for fear of being arrested if we went inside. (Good times!) Seriously, Martha has since authored at least a gazillion books, including several that made the NY Times bestseller list, and she worked as a staff writer for many years for the late, great Bob Hope. I never cease to be amazed at the people God connects me with as friends! Thank You, LORD!!!

Another photo from the AWSA conference

This photo was taken just before the Golden Scrolls Award Banquet. I'm standing with my dear friend and beloved "fearless flounder" of AWSA, Linda Evans Shepherd.

AWSA Friends in St. Louis

Here I am at the Golden Scrolls Award Banquet in St. Louis with my wonderful AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) sisters (from left): Rosemary Trible, Kathi Macias, Susan Wales, Susan Titus Osborn. We had a wonderful time! I'll post more soon. Blessings!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

We're BACK!!!

Yes, we're back from St. Louis and I hope to catch you all up soon. Meanwhile, here is an article and a review that I hope will encourage/bless you all!