Thursday, May 17, 2018

Insidious Doubts of the Writer

Writers are a weird breed. Stuffed with loads of creativity, a writer's brain can veer off in tangents that can make even the sanest of humans look psycho.

We are powerful wordsmiths. We are the worst writers to ever put pen to page.

We are the queen of the kissing scene. We are the dumbest person to ever have written a love scene. 

We can write 10,000 words in one day because we are inspired. We bang our head on the computer screen, begging for at least one word to put on the page. 

Bah....and then there is the doubt that creeps into our hearts. Even after being offered a contract for your story, you begin to wonder if you are ready. Can you really do the required edits? If there are so many changes necessary, why did they even want to publish the story? Were you wrong to put the story out there before it was ready to see the light of day? Will you ever to learn to write well? is an insidious evil that all writers must learn to face and banish from their minds and hearts. As Christian writers, this rings especially true. When you doubt yourself, you doubt God. You doubt His ability to use the creativity He has gifted you with in order to speak to someone.

Here is some advice I've been given this past week from sweet Alley Cats when I was overcome with doubt:

  • We are equipped not because of our credentials, but because of our calling from God.
  • Deep breaths and baby steps! 
  • Remember that God has given you everything you need to do the work - it's inside you, waiting to be released. 
  • You are doing something scary, but it is right where God has you. Trust in Him to carry your dreams through to completion.
Great advice from fantastic, experienced writers who have been there and overcome. We all need truth-sayers in our lives who will help us grow and overcome the paralyzing doubt that can creep in to destroy our dreams. Listen to them, but foremost, listen to God, the giver of dreams and the creator of all.

What doubts are you wrestling with, whether in writing or any other pursuit? Who are the truth-sayers in your life?

Photo credit: geralt @

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, tentatively The Lady's Masquerade, will release April 2019.

You can connect with her through:

Personal blog:
Twitter: @sherrinda
Instagram: @sherrinda

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#TipfulTuesday Writing Conferences and Why

Blue Ridge Mountains
Writing Conference held at Ridgecrest

Not every career offers stirring conferences. I've gone with my husband to some of his medical conferences, and trust me, I had the better time during those days by visiting the sites.

Writers' conferences are a whole different experience. No this is not a sales job. Not by far. But this is a: I have done this and loved it/learned from it/benefitted from it SO much I just have to share with you post.

This Saturday I'm leaving for my 10th writer's conference.Why?

*I'm intrigued by the classes offered in my genre this time at this place.

*Among the instructors, a widely published author in my genre is scheduled to teach some of those classes.

*Other writers/ and women who also talk to characters...will be there. people.:)

*I am forced out of my introvert world by one of the few groups I can feel comfortable with.

*I have an opportunity to tell an editor or agent about my work and see what they think about my idea. There is no added fee.

*For these few days, I can soak in writing waters energized with encouraging and stimulating powers.

These are only a few of my favorite things about writer's conferences.

Bonus Fodder Experiences while I was at past conferences: I've gone zip lining during free time at Mt. Hermon. Walked the streets of musical Nashville. Rode to the top of the St. Louis arch. Saw Chicago's skyline...and its traffic! And more.
There are about fifty gazillion reasons to attend a writer's conference. The cost is so worth saving for. Most conferences have a scholarship program. I applied for one and was happy to get it. You could apply too!

What questions do you have about attending a writer's conference?
Name a benefit you received from attending a writer's conference.
~Mary Vee
#amwriting #conferences#TipfulTuesday#TheWritersAlley

Blue Ridge Photo by Mary Vee

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Before You Get New Headshots...

Last week, I had the time of my life getting new headshots done with a local photographer who’s also become a dear friend of mine. We set out for the middle of nowhere for a yellow wildflower field she’d spotted days prior, only to find IT’D BEEN MOWED DOWN! 😂 So we ended up in a random field of fluffy white weeds behind a marble store, and then headed down to a plant nursery.

And you know what? I LOVE THESE PICTURES. They’re everything I wanted in my first set of professional headshots. So before you get new photos made, take my advice! Because, trust me— I knew next to nothing going into this process!

  • Be less concerned about the perfect location and more concerned about the perfect photographer. (Like Megan at Southern Grace Photography in Gulf Shores!) Find someone whose style you love and whose experience you can trust. That’s a sure fire way to know you’ll be happy with your photos.
  • If your writing voice has a regional flair, consider an outside location that pulls in those vibes.
  • Choose colors that are classic so the photos can transition well from project to project.
  • Similarly, choose classy makeup and jewelry. Don’t be afraid to go for a bold lip color or bright blue necklace, but be sure you’re selective about choosing only one or two bold details.
  • Not sure what to wear? Pick what makes you feel most confident. Headshots are so much about the smile and eyes.
  • And last but not least— have fun! Even if you don’t normally enjoy being photographed, consider the session a chance to invest your time back into yourself. Think about all the places these photos will go, and don’t be afraid to smile wide! The most important thing to convey in these photos is YOU!

I want to hear from you! What tips do you have to add to the list?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Praying over Your Dream


In the summer of 2012 God answered a deep dream of my heart: as a family we spent two months in Germany.

My husband had spent seven years as a youngster growing up in the Far East, and I wanted to give our kids a taste of that.

Then God did the amazing, and we got to do exactly that.

I left part of my heart in Germany.

And I began to pray almost immediately about whether we could do something like that again. It was a dream, but a back-burner dream. After all, God had already done the impossible once.

 So I started praying. Eric and I had traveled to England and Scotland a couple times, but we hadn't been able to travel as a family. I did something that might make you laugh. I put a Euro in the coin compartment of my purse.  And then every time I got change, I asked God if He would do it again.

The coin became a visual reminder to pray. After we spent our summer in Siena, I added my Italian SIM card to my billfold, and each time I spotted it, it was another reminder to ask if God would do it again.

Last summer, after spending two weeks in Florence, I put this Euro in my nightstand drawer...another reminder to pray.

Last month I spent a week in Jordan, and left another piece of my heart behind. Now a Jordanian quarter has joined the 50 cent Euro piece in my change compartment. Now I'm asking God if and when I'll go back there. Who knows? He's done crazier things in my life.

What are you asking God for? What crazy dream has He planted in your heart?

Is is writing?

What do you have to remind you to pray about it?

An award-winning author of twenty books, Cara is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

#TipfulTuesday: 15 Minute Appointments

#TipfulTuesday The full value in the fifteen minute appointment is more than you can imagine. 

ACFW has opened registration on line. Blue Ridge Christian Writer's Conference begins in 3 weeks. And there are more conference opportunities yet to come this year.

While the big questions for you may be, should I go? Can I afford to go? Why should I go? 

Let me answer a little question for you.
At my first ACFW conference... it's been at least 8 years, I signed up for an appointment not knowing--at all--what I would say or what would take place in those precious fifteen minutes. What I did know was I wanted to sit across from an expert and learn from them. If the person happened to like my work, well, that would be an added bonus.

I was excessively nervous.

Unable to formulate a word, I slid my material across the desk to the agent. She read a few paragraphs then looked up. She asked a few questions about the story. During this time she said the unheard of comment, "I would like to known more in the beginning. Could you start the story sooner?"

While the topic is not about the fruit of this conversation, my recently published book, yeah!!, our focus today is on the tremendous advice given during conference appointments.

You have an opportunity to sit across from an expert. You can gleam from their expertise. 

Conferences usually offer three types of appointments: mentors, agents, editors. 

A mentor will gladly listen to issues you may have about your story and make suggestions. Ask questions. Offer advice.
An agent will do the same but also consider your work as something they'd like to represent in the publishing field. 
An editor will listen but will also consider your work as something their publisher may want for publication.

Every single time an appointment ended, whether the expert asked to see more of my work or not, I felt I had learned volumes. 

So, to the writers who are reading, if you are able to attend a conference, sign up for an appointment and look forward to learning reams.

To the mentors, agents and editors who meet with us, know that you truly are appreciated, and you mean a great deal. Your words sink into our minds and help us mold better stories.

~Mary Vee

#TipfulTuesday #amwriting #writingconferences 

Lead Photo by Mary Vee

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Work-Life Balance for Writers + GIVEAWAY {with special guest Kathleen Y'Barbo}

Hi, friends! It's Laurie. Today I have a special treat for you. I was reading the ACFW email loop a few weeks ago and came across a piece of advice so profound and convicting. When I scrolled up to see who had provided such a much-needed dose of reality, I did a double-take. I should have known those words that hit me exactly where and when I needed them were from my very own mentor, Kathleen Y'Barbo Turner. And today, I'm going to share her with you :)

Y'all, she is superwoman. She has multiple books releasing this year and finished this latest one during. a. hurricane. Superwoman, I tell you. Here's Kathleen's response to a budding author asking about the work-life-writing balance. (Shared with permission.)


At last count, I am nearing 100 published books since I got my first contract in 1999. In 2004, when circumstances caused me to become a single mom (of four kids) with a full-time job, I had four novels published. Thus, the rest of those books have been written while I was either in full-time training to get my certification or working a full-time job as a paralegal in a law office.

Here’s the short version of how I wrote multiple books each year and managed a job and a family:

You do what you have to do. Period.

I had to write, both for the financial side of things and for the love of writing. Even on those days — or weeks or months—when I didn’t love writing, I did it anyway. You do what you have to do. Period.

Even as a newlywed back in 2010, I was working and writing. I actually completed copy edits on my honeymoon! Because you do what you have to do. Period.

Last year I wrote five books while working full-time. This year I’ve got three scheduled to complete and several other indie projects calling my name. As witnessed by what I am doing right now—sitting next to my husband as he channel surfs while I type—things can get done in the limited hours you have each day.

A few suggestions: 

1. Plan ahead, but be flexible. I was a pantser for years, but I know that, when I plot, I write faster.
2. Stop being a diva about where and when you write. Acquire the skill of being able to write wherever and whenever you can.
3. Learn how to write fast. There are great books on the topic. Get one. Practice that skill.
4. Value what you do. God gave you this gift. He will give you the time. Ask Him. And thank Him for what He will do while trusting He will do it.

It's Laurie again. I have been struggling with all of this lately, back in school and juggling work and family and studying and writing. Admittedly, I've been a bit of a diva about inspiration and energy and cultivating the perfect conditions to fan my creative flame. So these words were exactly what I needed to stop overthinking and just get. it. done. 

"Value what you do. God gave you this gift. He will give you the time. Ask Him. And thank Him for what He will do while trusting He will do it."


Pasts Collide in New Orleans when a Treasure Goes Missing

Can a former privateer and a determined heiress find lost treasure in 1725? 

Comment with your best work-life balance tips for the chance to win Kathleen's latest book, The Pirate Bride

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tipful Tuesday: Attend A Conference

In 2010, I was about to receive my first major rejection—my entry in the Genesis contest was
SEVERELY lacking in every element that comes with a successful opening to a novel. That book shall never see the light of day. Oh me, oh my. That was also the first year I attended ACFW (a logical next step after very insightful contest critiques). I was in the throes of morning sickness, with a commitment of attending only for one day. Fear (and funds) strapped me to minimal participation.

But, whoa.

What happened? So much happened since that first step into a hotel coffee shop swearing I would just hide my pregnant self behind a book and wait for it to be over. Friends happened. Mentors happened. Networking happened. A year later, I semi-finaled in the Genesis. Two years later, I met my agent. And in 2016, I walked into conference with a book contract signed, and another contract waiting for me the next month.

 In my opinion (and in the opinion of those authors I reached out to before 2010), attending a writer’s conference is the BEST next step for an aspiring writer. ACFW is where I started, and where I continue to go—there is so much to be learned, so many people to befriend, so much community to ground yourself in so your stories can bloom with confidence and encouragement. Any seasoned writer will tell you that conference isn’t about a contract. But if you are sitting there, with words and stories, and you haven’t stepped into a writer’s conference, I’d say this #tipfultuesday take that step in the right direction. My recommendation? Check out

Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in Cambridgeshire, England. Now living in the U.S., she's an ACFW member, a blog contributor to the Writer's Alley, a baseball mom, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Two of her historical romance novels comprise her Fall 2017 debut: The Outlaws Second Chance, Love Inspired Historical, and My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah, Barbour. 

Connect with Angie at