Writing News and Tips

robinMy guest today is my friend and editor, Robin Patchen. Robin lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its free prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. Robin is a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Find out more at robinpatchen.com.

Before then, a little writing news:

I met my April marathon goal of writing (rough draft) of two novellas and 5,000 words of an upcoming mystery, Nut Case with 600 words to spare. Praise the Lord!  Matchmaking Mix-up, a Christmas novella, will be published by August 2016. I am devoting May to edits and catching up on numerous other projects.

Remember the ongoing scavenger hunt with Forget Me Not Romances. You have all month to play along. https://www.facebook.com/groups/543716869142197/

May 10th – interview and giveaway of Small-Town Brides at http://theengraftedword.net/

May 11th – post on “Reflections on Aging” at http://mtlmagazine.com/blog/

May 16th – monthly column, “Running Full on an Empty Tank,” published in the Bookfun Magazine at http://www.bookfun.org/

May 23rd – Guest post and giveaway of Small-Town Brides at http://www.gingersolomon.com/blog/

Now to hear from Robin:

Writing the Emotional Journey

By Robin Patchen

Your goal as a fiction writer is to take your reader on an emotional journey.

There are three ways to get emotion across in your manuscript. You can tell it, you can show it, or you can evoke it.

You can tell emotions—sparingly when it’s the best choice. Most authors rely on showing emotions through physiological reactions, crying, yelling, clenching fists—that sort of thing. Nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be the only weapon in a writer’s arsenal.

Great writers learn to manipulate their readers’ emotions through the use of thoughts and actions.

Take this example:

Bob walked into the diner and spotted Sally in the corner booth with John. They were huddled in deep conversation. On the table in front of them sat two cups of coffee, two dirty plates pushed to the side, and a manila envelope.

Bob stomped across the dining room toward them.

Bob feels angry, but what is beneath that anger? We could guess jealousy. Would we be right? Let’s add a thought:

Bob walked into the diner and spotted Sally in the corner booth with John. They were huddled in deep conversation. On the table in front of them sat two cups of coffee, two dirty plates pushed to the side, and a manila envelope.

John was up to his old tricks again, and it seemed he’d picked Sally as his latest victim.

Bob stomped across the dining room toward them.

All I did was add one sentence, and now it’s clear that Bob feels protective. It might manifest itself as anger—don’t many emotions?—but there’s something deeper.

When your reader is emotionally invested in the characters, she will feel protective, too. That’s one great way to evoke emotions.

***P.S. Come back on May 30th when Robin will be our 5th Monday special guest!***

5 editors tackle5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. This in-depth guide to self-editing is an invaluable resource for any writer of any genre. It shows, not just tells, how to write better fiction. Using it, you’ll be armed with the tools and skills you need to conquer the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing.


small town brides

This month the books continue to fly out. A Blessing for Beau from Calico Brides is one of the nine novellas in Small Town Brides (http://www.amazon.com/Small-Town-Brides-Romance-Collection-Neighbors-ebook/dp/B01EBN9B88/) . Cynthia Hickey, my editor at Forget Me Not Romances, put together two other collections: Mail Order Brides, another nine-author collection with my story, Jacob’s Christmas Dream. Reflections includes three full length devotionals.

In June, I’ll be giving away a copy of Small-Town Brides as well as Love’s Glory, my first book with Forget Me Not Romances.

So, why are collections so popular?

I like to think they’re popular with readers because they get lots of stories from different authors for a great price. The publishers look for a popular topic, such as mail order brides, and put together relevant stories. (Or seek them, such as in my upcoming contribution to Pony Express Romance.) Sometimes they discover brand new authors.

They’re great for authors as well. Many authors got their first publishing break through a novella.

And the biggest plus of all? Psst. They sell well.

I had one book one two best-sellers list last month, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and Publisher’s Weekly. Yup, a collection, Cowboy’s Bride. Love Is Patient also showed up on the ECPA list.

Forget Me Not Romances #1 sat #1 on the Amazon best-seller list for months. It still stands at #14 and makes more money for me than any other book.

Yup, collections are a win-win for publishers, authors, and readers alike. Dip in and enjoy.


Hello everyone! I have decided that I must write my third Monday post at the beginning of the month, because I keep forgetting it.

donna schlacterThis month’s guest is Donna Schlacter, who’s been a good friend and supporter. She pens historical suspense while her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense. When not in search of yet another dead body, Donna and Leeann can be found writing in Colorado. Follow them at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com


First a few updates:

Now let’s hear from Donna:

The Opening Line

By Donna Schlachter

Readers are easily bored.

Hopefully that opening line caught your attention and did at least three things. The following can be applied to any written material, whether fiction or non-fiction, short story, epic novel, or flash fiction.

Introduce the topic: the opening sentence establishes a contract with the reader, lets them know what’s coming, sets the tone, and weeds out those who aren’t really interested in what you have to say. Because this one thing is true—not everybody will be part of your target audience, and the quickest way to lose a reader forever is to promise something you don’t deliver.

Causes questions to arise: if you tell the reader everything they need to know in the opening line, they don’t need to read the next 200 words or 200 pages. Instead, your opening line should cause questions to arise in the reader’s mind. In this case: why are readers easily bored? How can I keep them from getting bored?

Makes the reader want to read more: When readers invest time and energy in your writing, they are less likely to give up, which offers you the opportunity to demonstrate what an excellent writer you are and what a compelling story you can weave. This, in turn, will transform your readers into fans and influencers for your products.

In Summary: you want your opening line to give a hint of what the story is about; cause the reader to ask at least one question that cannot be answered unless they continue reading. If you’ve accomplished that, you have written a great opening line. You do this by starting with action, identify the main character or situation the character finds herself in, and foreshadow what’s to come.

Accounting IMG_3982_Resize FinalNo Accounting for Murder by Leeann Betts

Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, has a nose for mystery. When money is embezzled and her daughter is suspected, then the mayor disappears then is found dead, she is more than curious. Can Carly figure out who is behind all this, or will the killer succeed in shutting her up forever? Available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com

Writing News and Tips from Janice Hanna Thompson

Today’s guest is Janice Thompson. When we met at Colorado Christian Writers Conference, she was already an established author and greatly encouraged me. Janice is a Christian author from Spring, Texas. She loves to add faith and humor elements to all of her stories. You can connect with Janice online at www.janiceathompson.com or on Facebook at Janice Hanna Thompson

First, a few words about my world: I am 15,500 words into my 50K April writing challenge. That’s 31% when I would like to be at 33%, but not too bad!

I’m sponsoring a month-long giveaway of Love Is Patient on Goodreads. Check out the widget and link I posted last week.

Now to hear from Janice: From her book, Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. (used by permission):


Before pitching that next idea to your agent or editor, answer this question about your book: Who needs/wants your message? If it’s middle-aged women, you’d better be connected to a few. If it’s teen girls, you’d better have access to hundreds of them. Otherwise, the publishing house might just wonder how you’re going to help them get the word out about your book.

Remember, you’ve got to establish trust with your reader. How do you go about doing that? As you are able, connect with your fans in social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. If someone takes the time to write to you, do your best to write back. If you receive a nasty review (particularly online) don’t lash out or respond out of anger. Take a deep breath. Again, the goal here is to establish trust with the reader.

You will find, particularly after you’ve had several books released, that a handful of fans will want to maintain a closer relationship than most. In my case, I took advantage of this situation. Folks who routinely showed up on my Facebook page to rave about my latest book became my tribe.

What’s a tribe you ask? It’s a group of close-knit readers who maintain relationship with you. Here’s how I work with my tribe. Each tribe member gets a free copy of my book when it comes out. They agree to post a review on amazon.com or elsewhere on the web. They chat about my book on their Facebook page or on Twitter. Best of all, they stay in touch with me, talking me through the rough times and encouraging me to keep going. They know they can trust me to keep putting out fun, quirky comedies, and I know I can trust them to be my support team.

Remember, this is all about relationship. I’m not talking about “faux” relationships, as in, “I’ll pretend to be nice to you so you’ll buy my book,” but real/genuine connections, as we’re able to make them.

It’s going to be a star-studded night at Club Wed. . .literally! Bella Neeley’s at it again, this time coordinating a celestial-themed wedding for a local female meteorologist and her groom, a quirky astronomer/scientist with his own TV show for kids. Scheduled the week before Christmas, this outdoor event is sure to wow guests and paparazzi alike. If the bride’s predictions are right–and when is the famed meteorologist ever wrong?–temperatures will be in the upper 60s on this starry, starry night. Will it be clear skies ahead, or will stormy weather threaten to spoil the big day? Join Bella for a Christmas wedding you’ll never forget!

Purchase Link



Face of Mary 3 (1)This month I am featuring two of my earlier books. Although now re-released, Face of Mary was first published in A Woodland Christmas. It was one of the first proposals I put together on my own. At the time Barbour published 4-author Christmas anthologies, usually with an interesting setting and preferably with something that tied the stories together. The setting was the Piney Woods of East Texas, through which I travelled many times on my way from Idabel, Oklahoma, to seminary in Fort Worth. The connecting thread: an itinerant wood carver. Tamela Hancock Murray, Ramona K. Cecil, and Janelle Mowery sent the proposal with me.

The story of a man looking for a woman to be the model for Mary, the mother of Jesus, had bugged me for years. The story is the most obvious retelling of the Christmas story of all of my holiday novellas. Mary “Polly” Jessup believes she is engaged to her friend’s much older brother, Joseph “Joey” Carpenter. Only once she’s grown, he returns engaged to someone else.

Darlene Franklin woodland christmasA Woodland Christmas contains all four of the novellas featuring Gabriel Noel. It’s one of my favorite collections, one I wish more people had discovered. Now is your chance! Janelle Mowery’s story continued in a full-fledged series and Ramona’s award-winning story is set in an Indian orphanage. Tamela Hancock Murray had the brilliant idea of reuniting Gabe with his family and giving him his own romance.

Do you ever wonder how long to let a publisher hold on to your proposal? This one took at least two years from proposal to contract, then at least a year from then until publication.


Note: Face of Mary is also in A Texas Christmas and Lawmen and the Lawless.

Purchase Link for Lawmen & the Lawless                                              Purchase Link for Texas Christmas


A Texas Christmas

Writing News & Tips from Gail Kittleson

Today we welcome Gail Kittleson to my blog! Gail has been a good friend and supporter of my work, and I am so glad to hear from her today. Her debut novel, In This Together, released in 2015. Her memoir, Catching Up With Daylight, released in 2013, shares the ancient Benedictine meditation process of Lectio Divina with readers. She’s hard at work on other World War II fiction, including a novel contracted with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (2017)

Gail and her husband of almost 38 years live in rural northern Iowa, and enjoy Arizona’s Ponderosa pine forest in winter, and she enjoys facilitating writing workshops and women’s retreats.

A few words before we listen to Gail. Forgive me for not publishing the promised post on the Texas Rangers last Monday. Since last we talked, I received a contract for a novella, The Gambler’s Daughter, in a 9-author collection called Pony Express Romance Collection. I also handed in the manuscript for A Taste of Honey, part of the Blue Ribbon Brides collection to be released in November.

Now let’s hear from Gail:

Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.
Thomas Edison, inventor

My research for a one of a series of World War II novellas has enthralled me lately. Enthralled–that’s a pretty strong verb, eh?

Well, it has. The incredible amount of knowledge to be gleaned about this era amazes me. Honestly, what did people do before there was GOOGLE? I’ve always loved hanging out in libraries, but how would I ever have discovered what I’ve recently learned about the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps?

Army archives overwhelm me with information. It’s taken a couple of days to narrow down what my heroine was called and trained to do, because of so many options. I had no idea women served behind enemy lines in France.

Of course they did, in the Secret Operations Executive, but as G-4’s?

(That’s logistics and supply.) Yes, they did—they dug slit trenches, erected tents to cover them, and somehow managed to come up with the toilet paper to go around.

That’s the thing about research—you never know where it’ll take you. When I started searching for a specific job for my heroine, a small-town Iowa girl with a big hear, integrity, and a love of the outdoors, I thought she was headed for a stint in Secret Operations.

But nope. She took me elsewhere. And that’s the joy of it! I think that may be what Thomas A. Edison meant when he talked about hustling and waiting. You put your mind to a task, you research like crazy, and wait for it all to come together in your head or in your notes. And it does.

InThisTogether_w9364_300Dottie Kyle invites you to share the winter of 1946 with her as she works at Helene’s boarding house after losing her son in WWII and her husband soon after. Her meals satisfy the boarders, and give her a reason to get up in the morning. But her bum knee suffers as she climbs steep stairs to do the laundry and clean rooms.
She makes do, though, with no idea that her next door widower neighbor Al Jensen watches her trek home from work each evening, wondering how he might win her heart. This story of second chances for both Dottie and Al contains nary a reason to blush, and many a reason to cheer as Dottie and Al overcome old, paralyzing fears.

WRITINGS NEWS & TIPS – Davalynn Spencer

Today’s guest is Davalynn Spencer. We both worked on Cowboy’s Bride. Davalynn writes Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. Winner of the 2015 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award for Inspirational Western Fiction, she makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue and two mouse detectors, Annie and Oakley. Visit her at www.davalynnspencer.com (Davalynn, can I join you? I miss Colorado)

davalynn-spencer-media-4My favorite writing tip is so often repeated, it’s ridiculous. However, like chocolate-mint chip ice cream, also my favorite, it bears up under second helpings.

The tip: Don’t quit.

To put it another way, don’t stop writing.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never, never give up.” I forget how many nevers he used, but you get the idea.

Case in point:

Several years ago I submitted a proposal to a publisher’s call-out for a Christmas novella collection. I thought I had a great idea. So did my agent. The publisher said no thank you.

I was devastated for a couple of reasons: it was a good story and I knew I’d done a good job on it. If I hadn’t believed that, I would not have submitted it. However, no is no.

So I reworked the idea, added to it, and submitted it to another publisher as a full-length manuscript. That publisher bought it and offered a three-book contract.

If my idea had sold as a novella, my three-book deal would not have materialized. And if I would have thrown up my hands in despair or disgust—both equally debilitating—I would not have persevered to write the first novel that became one of three.

This experience has inspired me countless times to not give up in the heat of discouragement.

Sometimes God’s timing is a bit different than ours. And it’s always better.

What a great story! I have to agree. Ten years more or less after giving up on writing for magazines, I’ve been offered a monthly column in The Book Fun Magazine, an online magazine with a half a million subscribers. (VERIFY)

cowboy's brideNow here’s Davalynn’s blurb about her novella in The Cowboy’s Bride (see the home page for additional information.)

One of nine novellas in The Cowboy’s Bride, “The Wrangler’s Woman” tells the story of widowed rancher Josiah Hanacker who hires spinster Corra Jameson as a lady-trainer for his young daughter, Jess. He fears losing Jess to his wife’s sister if the girl doesn’t meet her aunt’s ladylike expectations. Turns out, Corra has everything Josiah needs for his daughter. He just never figured she’d have what he needed for himself.


The two books featured this month are alike in one way: they are both western historical romances. In a lot of other ways they’re different.

cowboy's brideMy new book, The Reformed Cowboy, appears in The Cowboy’s Bride, which includes a total of nine novellas from Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Suzanne Dietze, Nancy J. Farrier, Miralee Ferrell, Davalynn Spencer, Becca Witham, and Jaime Jo Wright.

Reviewers like the humor, colorful characters, and glimpses into nineteenth century etiquette. I had fun writing about a woman a lot like me, who moved west after growing up in New England. Culture shock! She decides all the rough cowboys need is some training in “How to Become a Gentleman.” Little does she know that one of the cowboys is the poet and deep thinker she’s been corresponding with for a year.

Darlene Franklin ranger's trailI chose A Ranger’s Trail in honor of Texas Ranger’s Day on March 12th. It’s book four from the Texas Trails series. It’s based on a true story. The year is 1875 and a range war is going strong in Mason County. German Americans and “Americans” (in their view) killed each other tit-for-tat and none of the murderers were ever brought to justice. I added the widow of a fictional “American” killed by the “Germans” and brought in a ranger whose mother was a German immigrant. Historically, the Texas Rangers did try to break up the War. Throughout the book I scattered first-hand accounts of the War.

Ranger’s Trail also draws on personal experience, the painful process of forgiving the unforgiveable. It’s one of the books I’m proudest of writing. Like Tobogganing for Two, which one the Bibliotherapy Book of the Year award from the Overcoming with God blog, writing it tore me from the inside out. My prayer is that it will help others struggling with pain—while enjoying an action-packed romance.


How many times in our lifetimes will February have five Mondays?

Today it is my privilege to introduce you to my good friend and editor, Cindy Hickey. She showed me the ropes to self-publishing and then opened her own company, Forget Me Not Romances, although it includes mysteries and devotions and any other genre the author feels led to write.

A couple of quick reminders:

cowboy's brideTomorrow, March 1st: Release party for Cowboy’s Bride. 2-6:30 PST (that’s 5-9:30 EST). My half hour, discussing The Reformed Cowboy, is from 6:30-7:00 CST (my timezone). Lots of giveaways.https://www.facebook.com/groups/1952112738347901/

Friday, March 5th: Several authors from the Cowboy’s Bride will be guests at http://petticoatsandpistols.com/http://petticoatsandpistols.com/ . Includes giveaways.

Now to hear from Cindy:


Since I opened my first Nancy Drew mystery at the age of nine, I’ve been hooked. What is more fun than trying to figure out a clever crime along with a beloved character? Writing a mystery runs a very close second.

Beware the Orchids 2The challenge of laying subtle clues, depositing red herons like bread crumbs in a forest, provides as much fun for a mystery author as it does for the reader. The challenge comes when the author is successful at keeping the culprit’s identity a secret at the very end, yet leaving the reader satisfied that they weren’t cheated when they think back and realize how the clues led them down a cleverly placed trail. Then, the reader closes the book, smiles, and feels satisfied.

Add a quirky character the reader can relate to, and you’ve got a successful cozy mystery. Not an easy task for the writer. Most mystery authors are not seat-of-the-pants writers. Instead, writing a cozy mystery involves days, if not weeks, of planning and note taking. A lot of hard work and a lot of fun. Especially when the reader leaves positive feedback.

The items needed for a good mystery are:

*A quirky character

*Well-placed red herrings

*A supportive cast of secondary characters

*Humorous happenings

*A clever crook

*A satisfying ending

In my Summer Meadows mysteries, the main character Summer Meadows doesn’t start out with the intentions to take up sleuthing, but when she finds diamonds, a rusty can full of cash, and a bloody gardening glove, what’s a girl to do?

In my latest mystery series, Stormi Nelson is a reclusive author who is told by her agent to get out more. Her first night out as president of the local Neighborhood Watch program results in a murder and a mystery that changes her life.

See all of Cynthia Hickey’s mysteries at www.cynthiahickey.com and connect with her on FaceBook where she loves to talk up a good mystery.

Please check out the first book in her brand new series, Beware the Orchids, book one in the Shady Acres mysteries.

cindy hMulti-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She had several historical romances release in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold half a million copies of her works. She has taught a Continuing Education class at the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers conference. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. She and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs, two cats, three box turtles, and two Sulcata tortoises. She has seven grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com