kelly irvinToday we get to meet an author new to both of us, Kelly Irvin. She’s the author of the Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her latest work is the ECPA bestseller, The Saddle Maker’s Son, which debuted in June. She’s currently working on a new series set in an Amish district in Jamesport, Missouri. I’ll have to read them!

I do have some writing news: Here’s the cover of another upcoming novella collection from Barbour. (I’m in the middle of writing my contribution, Sunshine of my Heart, right now!). Isn’t is gorgeous? We’re also working on another novella contract, but I can’t announce it yet. Stay tuned. . .

Back to Kelly:


For beginning writers and those who have yet to begin

By Kelly Irvin

Writing is a tough gig. It requires practice, patience, and perseverance. People often ask me how to get started. So many folks have told me they have always wanted to write a novel. Why haven’t they? Not enough time. Fear of failure. Uncertainty about how to begin. The reasons are many. So here’s what I tell them:

Sit down and begin.

What? No big secret? No magic formula?


The number one tip is to place your behind in the chair and your hands on the keyboard and begin. If you have a story in your head, put it on paper. Tell the story.

You will find that lots of people will want to tell you how to do this. There are all sorts of methods involving heroes and story arcs and three-acts and other formulas. If they work for you, then by all means, use them. What works best for me is to tell the story. I’m what’s known as a “pantser” (seat of the pants writer). Others do best by outlining before they start writing. If that works for you, do it. You won’t know until you begin so begin.

Yes, I recommend that you attend writing conferences, learn the craft, and hone it. I recommend you join a critique group and allow others to help you refine your work. Read writing craft books.

But number one, write every day you possibly can. Practice might not make perfect, but it certainly helps. You can hone your craft until you have one.

If you’re writing Christian fiction, join American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). This organization is a fabulous support group for beginning writers. Check out their website at www.acfw.com. Join a critique group and start pursuing your writing dream today.

Kelly, so true – I tell new writers “write, write, write,” and “read, read, read.” Nothing teaches you how to write like writing.

Saddle Maker Final (2)Introducing The Saddlemaker’s Son:

Rebekah Lantz feels betrayed and abandoned. Tobias Byler is bound by regret. Can two young runaways from a world away teach them the healing power of a true family?

Rebekah simply longs for the chance to be a wife and mother like the other girls. Tobias only wants to escape feelings for a woman he knows he should never have allowed to get close to him. Even a move across the country can’t stop the past from accompanying his every thought.

A surprise encounter with two half-starved runaway children forces both of them to turn their focus on others far more desperate. In doing so, they discover the key to forgetting the past may open the door to the love and the future they both seek.

Purchase Link

August books

matchmaker mixupMatchmaker Mixup is my new book release this month.

I chose to tell the story of Pippin and Margil Cortland, the twins who first appeared in An Apple for Christmas, because I thought we were writing a sequel to the Christmas Traditions success. (It stayed in the top 10 list for months!)

Pippin and Margil were thirteen in An Apple for Christmas, so I moved the time forward eight years, to their senior year of college.

Instead we used the theme matchmaking. So to combine my twins and matchmaking, I had one twin play matchmaker fobeginningsr the other. When Margil accepts two invitations to the homecoming dance, she asks Pippin to pretend to be her with one of the men.

For one of my older titles, I’m celebrating. Since I will turn sixty-two on Wednesday, I am giving away my sixty-second published book: Beginnings, my devotional based on the books of Genesis and Exodus.


The winn3-minute cat lover'ser of the grand prize of the CAN Scavenger matchmaker mixupHunt is Mary McClellan.

Everyone who left a comment on my blog during the scavenger hunt will be receiving a prize from my guest, Rebecca Ondov.

The winners from my interview, on Linda Rondeau’s blog, are: Delores Leisner—3-Minute Cat Lover’s Devotions for a Cat Lover’s Heart; Rhonda—Matchmaker Mixup.

Winners from my sidebar are: Caryl Kane—Courting Disaster; Lynda Bertulli—Prodigal Patriot.


courting disastersprodigal patriotCongratulations to all the winners! Return next week for an introduction to next month’s book giveaway.


Today we have a two-in-one special! Please join me in welcoming Christian author Rebecca Ondov to my blog and learn about participating in the CAN (Christian Author Network) Scavenger Hunt.

I “met” Rebecca through the hunt when I read her book, Horse Tales from Heaven: Reflections Along the Trail with God. A fascinating, adventure-packed life! For fifteen years Rebecca worked from the saddle in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana, taking guests on horse pack trips over rugged Rocky Mountain trails, as well as working for the US Forest Service. Then God called her to write about her adventures and that’s where today’s story begins…

Rebecca, working from horseback is a whole different arena than writing. How did you get started?

I chuckle when I look back at my beginnings. It’s a story that encourages so many people because God has tucked a special gift inside each one of us and He wants us to share it with the world, only my gift was a mystery to me and I nearly missed it.

My writing adventure started on a blustery spring day after pulling my mail out of the mailbox. While walking the long driveway back to the house I excitedly opened my Guideposts magazine to a page announcing a writing contest. The article invited people to submit a manuscript to Guideposts. They would choose the top 15 winners and fly them, all expenses paid, to New York. The winners would be tucked away in a mansion on Long Island Sound, where they would be personally tutored for a week by some of the top Christian authors in the world. When I read about it I felt impressed in my spirit to submit a manuscript.

Instantly I recoiled and blurted out, “But God, You don’t know who I am.”

Can you imagine telling your Creator that?

But, He didn’t listen. Over the next couple months He kept after me and I submitted a manuscript—which won!

Wow, that’s an amazing story! I’m sure you kept writing. Tell us about that.

Yes, I’ve written magazine articles and am a contributing author to Daily Guideposts as well as several other books. But the most exciting has been writing my own books where I’ve corralled my true-life Wild-West (often hair-raising) adventures into devotional books.

Have you conquered your fear of writing? Do you like to do it?

Writing is still hard for me, but for a different reason. I’ve gotten so many letters from my readers, saying that my words have impacted their lives with the power of God, encouraged them to pursue Him on a new level, and to look at life through His eyes. Because of that I have a deep sense of responsibility for every word that I write. I want it to reflect God’s truth and love.

Writing has become the most fulfilling thing I do. I know that I’m serving Him, I bless others, and the relationships I’ve developed with my readers are priceless.

ondov bookDo you have any new books coming out?

Yes. Heavenly Horse Stories: Inspirational Stories from Life in the Saddle just galloped onto the store shelves on July 1. It’s a fabulous family devotional of my adventures with horses—and God. The setting is considered “The Crown Jewel of the American Wilderness System,” the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. The best part is that you don’t have to be a horse-lover to understand the profound Biblical truths that I learned along the trail. I’ll be giving a copy of this book away as well as a copy of my book Great Horse Stories for Girls: Inspiring Tales of Friendship and Fun.

What great additions to the grand prize. Do you have a mission statement?

Yes, my goal is that my readers Be Inspired with Blazing Faith.

Do you have any parting words for us?

Because of God, I’ve been able to “do the impossible” and write. He joined me together with “a group” (which is my phrase for the scavenger hunt) of people who have helped me along the way, from Guideposts magazine, classes, friends and fellow authors, to the Christian Author Network.

I like to say that life is an adventure of discovering the gifts and talents that God has placed inside each of us. If God asks you to do the impossible, say, “Yes!” with confidence, knowing that He’ll show you the way.

And I’d like to invite all of you to “Saddle up and ride with me, through the pages of my books, for an adventure of a life time.”

For anyone who hasn’t reached us through the Scavenger Hunt, what is your website? https://rebeccaondov.wordpress.com

To enter for your chance at the grand prize, go back to http://christianauthorsnetwork.com/blog/ and complete the entry form. For anyone who hasn’t taken part in the scavenger hunt, go to that link to start. It’s open through Saturday, July 23rd.


At each stop along the way, readers need to collect the phrase divulged and then piece them together and send their end result as detailed on that first blog for a chance to win a load of books. The next stop on the hunt is Rebecca’s blog where she’s interviewing. . .well, go over and find out!

Writing News and Tips – Welcome Ada Brownell

Excuses. I know. My computer has been out of business for most of June.

Ada Brownell has graciously agreed to be my guest this week. I have read part of her book, Peach Blossom Rancher, (another victim of the computer blow out). Let me tell you, you’re in for romance where the outcome is in doubt, a murder mystery, and abuse of the mentally ill in the 19th century–who can ask for more than that?

When Ada wrote The Peach Blossom Rancher, she drew from her experiences growing up in Colorado’s Peach Country and covering the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo on her beat as a journalist for The Pueblo Chieftain.

Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell

Here are Ada’s words for writers:

Power up your writing by creating


By Ada Brownell

 Your brand defines the distinctive elements of your writing.

A brand is defined as a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. Among synonyms are make, line, label, marque, type, kind, sort, variety.

A brand can also be an identifying mark burned on livestock and in times past criminals or slaves. Synonyms for this could be identification marker, or earmark.

An author’s brand is a short line, almost like a subtitle or a slogan that tells everyone what to expect from a writer. It not only identifies the genre, but also the author’s personal touch, style and voice.


  1. Nike – Just do it.
  2. Volkswagen – Think Small.
  3. Hallmark – When you care enough to send the very best.
  4. Fortune – For the men in charge of change.
  5. Ajax – Stronger than dirt.


I couldn’t pass up this one from a Twitter follower: Mike Whitaker: Christian. “In the shipping business: Friendshipping, Partnershipping, Entrepreneurshipping, Leadershipping and Fellowshipping.

Harry Wegley, a retired meteorologist: Always a Climate of Suspense and a Forecast of Stormy Weather

Very insightful, Ava! I believe your brand is “Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement.” Mine is “writing at the crossroads of love and grace.”

A handsome young man with a ranch in ruin and a brilliant doctor confined to an insane asylum because of one seizure. Yet their lives intersect.

peach blossomJohn Lincoln Parks yearns for a wife to help rebuild the ranch and eyes Valerie MacDougal, a young widow.

Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor who he constantly fusses with? This neighbor has a Peeping Tom whose bootprints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?

Look for the release July 2016 by http://www.elklakepublishing.com

Writing News and Tips

Happy Memorial Day!

Today’s guest is fairly new to me, so let’s get to know Lee Carver together. She is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads. Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have two children and five grandchildren who live entirely too far away.

I am enjoying a five-day “vacation” from my ordinary writing routines. Starting on June 1st, I am plunging into another month-long writing marathon, this time finishing the sec
ond mystery in my upcoming Murder By the Case series.

valiant heartsValiant Hearts, which includes my novella Buttons for Birdie, releases onJune 1st. Stop by the two blogs below for a chance to win a copy.

            Friday, June 2ndhttp://shannonvannatter.com/blog/

Friday, June 2ndhttp://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/

And now to hear from Lee:

Writing a Blurb that Works

Creating a back cover blurb is the most important writing you will do. In a sense, it’s more important than writing the book, because if the blurb doesn’t appeal to the reader, the book won’t be read. It becomes the book description on Amazon, Goodreads, ACFW’s Fiction Finder, and anywhere else the book is offered or discussed. It’s the advertising copy, the hook, the reason your book will fly off the (electronic) shelves.

My first (and only original) tip is to write the blurb BEFORE the book, when you’re in love with your undeveloped characters and your mind tingles with the plot that will happen to them. Jot something down at the top of your manuscript so you see it every time the file opens. This is not the finished form, but later you will know TOO much about the characters, the complications, the contortions of plot. The blurb will actually be harder to write when details collect like dust on fine art.

Read book descriptions on Amazon, Goodreads, and Fiction Finder of others in your genre. Pretend you want to buy and read a book. What works for you? What makes you want to leave that book and look for something else?

My pet peeve is a final blurb sentence for a romance novel, “Will John and Mary overcome their differences and find love and happiness together?” Of course they will! This is inspirational fiction. No need to read that book. And while trust between characters is hugely important, I feel the word “trust” in a blurb has become cliché.

The blurb must fit the genre. If the novel is a comedy, it should be amusing. For literary fiction, show some poetry in prose. If it’s historical, indicate the time and place setting.

Now to be quite specific, here is a simple formula for writing the blurb:

  1. Setup. Briefly describe the main character(s) and their situation. Omit every detail not essential to the story.
  2. Problem. The absolute necessity of a change.
  3. Tightening Plot
  4. Mood, Genre, Tone, Emotion reflected in every phrase above.
  5. A conclusion which sparks the reader’s imagination.

In short:

  • Cut the details
  • Keep it brief: 150-200 words
  • Don’t give away the resolution or other spoilers
  • Don’t employ over-used phrases
  • Appeal to emotion
  • Make it dramatic

lee carverBlurb for Retreat to Shelter Creek:

Seeking relief from her disastrous marriage, a high school biology teacher returns to Shelter Creek for the summer to help her grandmother through chemo. She is surprised by a roofer with stamina through Texas heat and life’s hard spots. Her path away from bitterness involves the family guard-pig and teaching first grade.

Painful discoveries of her husband’s duplicity develop into danger. Murder is so much quicker than divorce.

As a wife betrayed and dumped by her husband, she could either lock herself away from further hurt or forgive and start over.

Was there a man alive worth the investment?

Writing News and Tips

ginger solomonMy guest today is Ginger Solomon, who has honored me by hosting me on her blog several times. Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest four, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre.

Author Links: Website  Inspy Romance Blog Facebook Author Page  Twitter @GingerS219 Pinterest Amazon Author Page

First a few updates on my writing:

I finished the edits on Matchmaking Mix-Up, this year’s Christmas novella, and sent it to my editor for her comments before publication.

One week remains on the Forget Me Not scavenger hunt . Grand prize is a Kindle Fire! Check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/543716869142197/ for further information.

My column, “Running Full on an Empty Tank,” is live at http://digital.turn-page.com/i/679884-may-2016-book-fun-magazine

Now, more from Ginger:

Adjusting our Expectations

By Ginger Solomon

Has life ever thrown something at you at the last minute that you’re not sure how to deal with? Or maybe it was a lot of somethings all at once. Either way, you had to adjust your expectations to meet with your new circumstances.

You had to go with the flow.

I don’t know about you, but I’m bad at it. I prefer events where I know what to expect and when. Spontaneity is NOT my strong suit.

When my husband and I got married over 25 years ago, my wedding was just such an event. I planned things nearly to the minute. It was scheduled for two in the afternoon. Most weddings I’ve been to start a few minutes late. Not mine. I was walking down the aisle at 2:00pm on the dot. According the video, guests walked in behind me. A little sheepishly, I might add.

I’d love to say that everything moved like clockwork during the entire ceremony, but it didn’t. My cousin, my matron of honor, dropped the wedding ring when she went to hand it to me. We were standing on a platform and that ring decided it wanted to roll all the way down the stairs. Not in my plans, but I managed to be flexible and go with the flow—really, what choice did I have? As soon as the ring was recovered, we continued.

There have been many other such times in my life when circumstances made me step outside of my organized comfort zone and be spontaneous. I didn’t like them, but when life becomes a roller coaster ride, you buckle up and hold on for dear life.

In my newest release, Second Choice, my heroine, Princess Anaya, faces such a challenge. Her father gave her one year to choose a husband from five candidates, whom he thought worthy of her hand in marriage. She met with each one individually, and six months later, after much consideration and prayer, she chose one. They spent several months getting to know one another and planning their wedding.

Then he disappeared. Three weeks before the wedding.

What would she do?

Knowing her father the way she did, she knew he would insist she make a second choice so the wedding could continue forward as planned.

She had to be flexible.

And she was because we all do what we have to do to make it through any given situation. We make choices that we may later regret, but we do the best we can with the knowledge that we have at the time.

What about you? Have you been in a situation that required you to adjust your expectations

SecondChoice_500x750Set to be married in less than a month, Princess Anaya Vallis’s intended runs away, leaving only a cryptic note behind. Her father insists the wedding go forth as planned with a new groom. She has days to make a second choice.

Titus Vasco is like a ship without a rudder, floating through life without purpose. Until she calls. He accepts her proposal without hesitation.

But wedded bliss does not come easily. Two virtual strangers brought together by unforeseen circumstances must learn to trust each other and God’s plan for their lives in order to achieve the happily-ever-after they both long for.


Kobo Books
Barnes and Noble


tolkeinFifty years ago, between the fantasy of Camelot and three assassinations that rocked the decade, an English teacher introduced me to Middle Earth. I discovered Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf and later Frodo and Aragorn. Like so many of my generation, The Lord of the Rings became the touchtone of my imagination. I read the trilogy five times during my teens. In college, I became friends friends with “Legolas” to my “Gimli”—and we remain close to this day.

Unfortunately, studies took over reading for fun, until the summer I walked through a wardrobe and discovered Narnia. I plowed through all seven books.

cs lewisI tried Tolkein’s other books but nothing else captured my imagination. C.S. Lewis, however—what a journey! His science fiction series, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and Mere Christianity. “Jesus is either a liar or a lunatic or He is Lord of all.” Amen! And other books which tantalize me but which I have never read.

After I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis separately, I learned they were friends. Not only that, but Tolkien had led Lewis to Christ. That they went for a walk one day, and when they returned, Lewis had become a Christian. Something inside of me warmed. What the world would have lost without that friendship, without Lewis’s salvation and his emergency as a champion of the faith.

Between Lewis’s work, and Tolkien’s description of “eucastastrophe” (a cataclysmic event brought about by good news), a hunger awakened in me for story, for the telling of the Christian story through fiction. I began my own journey toward sharing the faith through fiction. I don’t write fantasy, but romance reflects the greatest love of all.

I just finished reading a biography of Lewis, A Life Inspired, by Christopher Gordon. He reminded me of two of my heroes, and I wanted to share them with you.

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.