Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Lord's Blessings...

God has been so very good to us, right?

He not only calls us to be writers, but then he blesses us with opportunities to turn our work into fruit. Signing with agents. Publishing books. Meeting other writer's we've only know on FB. Applying our writing to other avenues. Sometimes, setting the work aside for a time. All for God's glory. 

God is good. 

Here is how God has blessed us. In the comments, tell us how He's blessed you.

Pepper Basham: God blessed my writing in so many ways. I publish three books this year, two novels and one novella. I also taught my first class at ACFW. (from Mary: A great class on how to write a good hero)

Sherrinda Ketchersid: God blessed me with my first book, Lord of Her Heart, published in May.

Krista Phillips: God blessed in an unusual way. He asked me to set my writing aside. He has shown me it is important to set things aside for a season, to let it grow stronger, and be more fruitful. (note from Mary- Krista's book, Match Me If You Can was published earlier this year.)

Casey Herringshaw: God blessed me with a desire to write. This is such a blessing. An intimidating one, but a blessing nonetheless. AND, I saw so many of you at ACFW!

Mary Vee: I am thankful for the two stories God helped me publish. One a Christmas story: Sylvia's Secret, A Christmas Story the other a fantasy: Fire and Thorn, A Fantasy. AND--in all the crazy road trips and conferences I went to this year, God let me see all but one Alley Cat. As a bonus, I even saw many of you at those conferences. I am soooo thankful!

Ashley Clark: I'm so thankful to have found a home for my stories at Bethany House.

Angie Dicken: I have been so thankful to have readers share in the celebration of my third novel, The Yellow Lantern, my third novel release.

Julia Reffner: I've really been blessed to lead a small group at Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies. It's a way I feel God is able to use my writing on a daily basis and I'm loving it.

Amy Leigh Simpson: God blessed me with a new agent this year

Laurie Tomlinson: God helped me to finish a very difficult manuscript this year.

Karen Schravemade: I'm thankful I was able to fly from Australia to attend ACFW for the first time in eight years. It was a blessing to hug my Alleycats in person, some of whom I met for the very first time. 

Cara Putman: I am thankful to have survived this busy year.

Now it's your turn! 
Please share God's blessing in your writing life.

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Christmas is Mary Vee's favorite holiday. She loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. 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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Artisan Soul

Have you read a book lately that really spoke to your heart? I have to say that The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus is one of those books for me. From the very first chapter, the words I read made my soul burn with yearning, agreement, and connection. I've highlighted most of the book so far, wanting the words to be imprinted on my heart, for they encourage and motivate me to be creative, to be brave, to risk, and to truly be an artist.

McManus is not just an artist. He is a creative who uses his gifts to further the work of God. He started a church in LA, CA called Mosaic where the people of his congregation use their creative talents for the Kingdom. And what he calls us to in The Artisan Soul is a life of creativity...every day...no matter the medium or vehicle through which we create. What he teaches is that every soul is a creative soul, whether they think so or not.

"...the great divide is not between those who are artists and those who are not, but between those who understand that they are creative and those who have become convinced that they are not."

We are all creative. We are created by a creative God who made us into His image.

"Yet what humanity needs most is for us  to set creativity free from this singular category of the extraordinary and release it into the hands of the ordinary. Creativity should be an everyday experience. Creativity should be as common as breathing. We breathe, therefore we create."

A person might say that not all people are creative and that saying everyone is just sets a person up for failure. But as people who have the Spirit of God living within them, we are creative beings. We want to create whether it is through decorating a room, cooking a fabulous dish, writing a short story, blogging, painting, making a yard look good, or crocheting a blanket.

Being creative doesn't mean there won't be failures. There will be.

"...we live in the fear that if we aspire to be more we will discover ourselves to be less. We live in fear of failure, convinced that failure will prove us to be frauds. We have bought into the lie that creative people never fail and hence failure is proof that we are not creative."

"Fear is the shadow of creativity....The creative act is inherently an act of courage....To make our lives a creative act is to marry ourselves to risk and failure...creativity is born of risk and refined from failure. If we are at the core both spiritual beings and creative beings, then the artisan soul is where we live when we have the courage to be our truest selves."

It's so hard to step out and risk it all to share our creative selves. When we hit send on the manuscript we have written, we feel we are sending a part of very essence out for the world to judge. We fear we will be judged as inferior, which reflects on who we are at our core. But those rejections are the building stones of creativity. They are what grounds us and molds us. We are indeed "refined by failure".

This book is one that should grace every artist's bookshelf.

Do you consider yourself creative? Do you embrace your artistic soul? Or is it hard for you to say you are an artistic person...whether it is with words, paint, landscape, or food, etc? 


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, Lord of Her Heart, released in May 2019.

You can connect with her through:
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Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Face Your Writing Fears

First of all, a big cheer for all of you who are doing NaNoWriMo! I tried Nano once. Two days later I gave up and started eating ice cream. I'm kidding! But really, I am not the type of writer who can crank out word count that quickly so if you are, I really do applaud you, and I stand a bit in awe of you as well.

Today I want to talk about something we as writers all face: fear.

Newer writers will sometimes ask, "How do I get over my fear of writing something that stinks?"

The answer is usually, "You don't."

I know-- I'm Miss Positivity today, right? But bear with me.

You will never get over your fear of writing poorly. And that's because to write well, you inevitably end up pouring your heart into the thing. And if you poor your heart into the thing, you are going to care about it deeply.

You can however, write through and beyond your fear, which is a different thing entirely.

If you're writing as a Christian writer, you have the amazing assurance that God is at the helm of your story-- and that is not something to take lightly. Because God's work in us is never wasted. I can tell you that even the books I wrote that didn't sell changed me as a writer and me as a person, and I am so glad looking back that those books aren't floating around in the world because that is no longer the writer I am today (hello, chick lit) and readers would be totally confused.

If you learn to accept those feelings of anxiety over inadequacy, you can acknowledge them and refocus. Typically, I've learned my own fears stem from the perception of scarcity. What if I go to all this work and no one reads it? What if I get this contract and it's the only one I have? What if people think I'm only mediocre?

Many of my friends and students have expressed similar fears-- what if I embarrass myself? What will people think of me?

You know what all of these questions have in common? The mislocation of our identity. As writer. As author. As child of God. In reality, there is only one opinion that matters, and He is the one who has equipped you in the first place. You don't have to prove yourself good enough or worthy because He makes you those things.

It's only when we shift our perspective to the security that can be found in our deeper-rooted identity that we can begin to implement strategies to draw it out. Get away from the lies and the fears you have believed. Try writing them down so you can see in ink how silly they sound. Try going to a coffee shop for a change of scenery as you work on your next scene. Try "writing" via dictation, or write on the notes app of your phone. Do whatever you need to do to write from a place of freedom over fear. Because the fear may not go away, but that doesn't mean you have to let it rule you.


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.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Mentoring + Partnership = An Exciting Publishing Model by Lindsay Harrell

Pepper here!! I am so excited to welcome author Lindsay Harrell today to talk about a brand new opportunity for authors of every level of publication! Without taking up more time, here's Lindsay!

Mentoring + Partnership = An Exciting Publishing Model
Guest post by Lindsay Harrell

One of the most difficult things in today’s world of publishing is finding a place in the market. There are a lot of readers out there, but with so many books on the physical and digital shelves, discoverability can be an issue.

Not only that, but it’s so easy to feel like writing is a solitary endeavor. It can be lonely holed up in your office at home, plugging away at your computer, day after day.

I know personally that I wouldn’t be where I am in my publishing journey if those who had gone ahead of me hadn’t taken the time and energy to slow down, reach back, and guide me through some of the more difficult hurdles of the course.

Susan May Warren is one of those authors. Through her organization, My Book Therapy, she has been in the business of teaching authors to get published, stay published, and build brilliant careers. And, it’s worked—every year she has seen more of her students published, winning awards, and going on to flourish.

I have been blessed to be one such author!

One of a mentor’s key characteristics is a heart for others, and Susie has that in spades. We got together this summer and started talking about ways to help other authors who are ready to be published but having a difficult time finding their place in the crowded market, and Susie shared a vision with me.

The awesome thing about visions? Sometimes, they become reality. In this case, the vision Susie and I discussed has grown into Sunrise Publishing—a publishing venture that combines mentorship and partnership between established authors and newer authors.

Sunrise is the dawn of a new kind of publishing (one that has actually been around for a long time, thanks to James Patterson and so many other authors who have partnered with aspiring authors to help them build their readership!). It’s designed to help launch new or rebooting authors into the readership of an existing author, build the existing fictional world of the lead author, and offer readers a remedy to the story hole they are seeking to fill.

Here’s how it works: Every year Sunrise will choose a lead author in one particular genre. (Susie will be the lead author in year one, so we can work out the kinks!) Once we decide on the kind of stories the lead author is looking for, we put out a request for submissions. (You can see our submission process here.)

Once the lead author picks the draft authors, they will start working on stories. Over the course of the year, the lead author will mentor the draft authors (with the help of Sunrise) to create six novels.

These novels will be traditionally published (print, ebook, and audio) over the course of the following year on all platforms. (We will be using Kindle Unlimited as part of our publishing plan as well.)

Our main criteria is voice. We are not looking for someone with a platform, but instead, draft authors who are interested in learning, understand the basics of writing, and are willing to work hard. Most of all, we are looking for serious authors who want to launch their careers.

If you feel you know an author, ARE an author, or represent an author who fits this criteria, check out our opportunities this year at https://sunrisepublishing.com. Submissions for our first series are due November 10th. (If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you at lindsay@sunrisepublishing.com.)

I know that whoever gets to work with Susie next year will be so incredibly blessed!

At Sunrise, our hope is to offer authors two things that they might currently be missing: a clear place in the market—with lots of new readers—and the clear knowledge that they are not alone on this publishing journey.

Here’s to the dawning of a new day!

Who has been a mentor in your writing career? Does Sunrise Publishing sound like an intriguing opportunity you might be interested in?

 Lindsay Harrel is a CBA best-selling novelist and lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. With more than 13 years of editing and writing experience, Lindsay now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels for HarperCollins Christian Publishing and working as Editorial Director at Sunrise Publishing. She has a passion for not only helping authors improve their stories and find their voice, but also getting messages of hope out into the world. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

When Introducing a New Character...

Of all the zillions of characters introduced since the first book published eons ago, several probably stand out to you. You could probably rattle off several, right? Sure.

On the other hand, we've read--and probably have written--some characters that have evaporated from readers' minds the second the page was turned. 

I'm thinking about the many characters who are introduced like this: a man wearing blue jeans a brown jacket and round glasses ...and blah, blah blah...his hair was brown, walked into the room. 

Usually, these character introductions droll on for a whole paragraph, and sometimes more. I'm bored. Seriously, the unique glasses did not help me see this guy as anyone interesting.

**Authors don't need to specifically describe a character when introducing them. A character simply needs to stand out from the crowd.**

Say my established characters are sitting in a restaurant and a waitress enters the scene. She is important (after all she is the one who killed the detective, but the readers won't know this until page 273.) She is wearing the same uniform as all the other waitresses in the restaurant, so why bother mentioning her black pants, white shirt, and company tie? She also has her hair pulled back like all the other waitresses and has a name tag that no one can read until she stands at the table. All of this can be summed up with a waitress burst into the room. 

What makes her interesting is the tattoo above her wrist. Ah, now we know which waitress. Your turn. Tell me what the tattoo looks like. Where have readers seen similar markings before? Uh-huh. Now you have it. The seed introducing this waitress has been planted. 

Such a unique description initiates a good character introduction. What other striking details say something about the waitress's personality? 

While the reader is distracted by the action, he/she later remembers the way this waitress scanned the restaurant. A typical waitress focuses on her tables, her orders, her food that is ready to be delivered, but the waitress with the tattoo kept tabs on the entire restaurant. Why? Now that the clues are all in on page 273, we remember that it was the waitress with the tattoo who kept tabs on the entire room who happened to pick up a steak knife from the floor, twirled it around to sit point side out on her tray. Like a knife pro.

Since this is a suspense story, we, the writer, will let this waitress, the one with the tattoo, fade after the introduction, not totally disappear from the storyline. She will make tiny, periodic appearances before page 273, so insignificant the readers will be shocked in the discovery, aghast they hadn't seen the clues laced in story after a fabulous introduction. muwhahaha. 

I am a suspense author. You may write a different genre. You too can introduce characters in a memorable way. Look back at the moment when your hero or heroine first stepped on stage. He may seem like the amazing handsome hero...but aren't all heroes? What caused the heroine to take notice of him and only him? What helps the hero notice the heroine over all the other girls. Something is different. What is it?

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee

Mary Vee's newsletters take readers on virtual trips to various places. No umbrella. No packing. No passport. Explore something new in each letter! Sign up today at http://eepurl.com/dITkz5 The next newsletter hits email boxes on November 15.

Sylvia's Secret. A Christmas Story. I have a new book release! 

Fifteen days before Christmas, the staff at Sylvia Duvet's mansion discover she is missing. Her daughter arrives at Detective Carhill's office in a panic, concerned the gossipers and media will create their own story, embarrassing the family name. After all, a wealthy widow only disappears if...she simply can't bear to think of the possibilities.  

Click on the link below to read more.

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Christmas is Mary Vee's favorite holiday. She loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. 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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Truth Bombs for the Hesitant Difference-Maker

As followers of Christ, our number one calling, job, and purpose on earth is to make his name known. That's the common denominator further specialized by the gifts and talents and desires the Father has placed in our hearts.

If we're writers, we write to spread the truth. If we're speakers, we preach it. If we're teachers or parents, we shepherd little ones. If we're natural-born leaders, we rally people.

And when we're obedient to this calling, we're vulnerable. There's nothing that makes the enemy squirm more than to see someone using their gifts to light up the darkness in the world. One of his favorite ways to trick us is by whispering lies into our ears. 

You're not enough.

You're not important.

You don't have what it takes.

It's not the right time.

Nobody's listening.

Today, I want to speak truth into your heart so you can remember it the next time you delete a post, close the speaking engagement or job application, archive the book proposal, or skip an opportunity with the belief that the right time will be later. 

You, brothers and sisters, already have what it takes, through the power of the Spirit in you, to do this good work. You are qualified. You are able to be used right where you are, right now, with what you have in your hands. And if you feel like you're still en route to your big dreams and destination, you'd better believe you can make plenty of difference along the journey. 

If you have a posture of obedience to make his name known and the truth you're speaking aligns with the Gospel, then he will open the doors, make the connections, and direct your words to the lives who are meant to receive them.

Whether it's the five people on your newsletter list, the 5000 in the crowd you're speaking to, the one woman you see at the grocery store after work several times a week, or the children your hands tuck into bed, your work and your words matter to the Lord. Whether you are the one on the stage or the one making sure her microphone works or building her up before her book releases, your purpose is important. 

When more brave souls wake up and see through the lies and decide to do the work, even scared, that's when the enemy's agenda is thwarted and every small yes makes a huge ripple through this world.


Laurie Tomlinson is the award-winning contemporary romance author of That’s When I KnewWith No Reservations, and The Long Game, currently featured in the Once Upon a Laugh novella collection. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.

You can connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Post-Conference Slump

Ashley here! I don't know about all of you, but I am still battling the after-conference slump as I try to return to my normal routine after ACFW. I'm still so tired, I miss my friends, and I'm behind on everything! Sound familiar?

Mary recently blogged about the importance of sending those requested manuscripts to their intended agents/editors, to which I say a resounding YES! Make that happen.

But in the meantime, if you too are wrangling to make your day-to-day more writing friendly, let's talk about some tips that may be helpful. And let the record state, I am very much preaching to myself here!

  • Start small. I have this bad habit of feeling like every little thing I do has to be perfect, and often, the desire for perfection prevents me from taking little and necessary steps toward a goal. I feel like it has to be done masterfully, and if I can't do it masterfully, I'll wait until I can. And then... I never get anything done. Sound familiar? Consider Zechariah 4:10 which tells us do not despise small beginnings. Starting small will help you build steady momentum.
  • Rest. I know, I know. Easier said than done. But try to catch any rest you can, be it physical rest, mental rest, or emotional rest. If you're pushing hard to get a proposal done, give yourself a little breathing room before sending it off. Your subconscious may be working harder than you realize. Try to squeeze in a nap this weekend. Visit a coffee shop or a bookstore or spend an extra five minutes snuggling a dog. You have to give back to your heart if you want to create from a healthy place.
  • Dream big. You'll have plenty of time to be emotionally paralyzed by the fear of rejection. Purposely remind yourself of the highs and excitement you felt during the conference, whether they were professional, or God-moments, or moments with friends. Let your heart dwell among those places a little while, and let your hope be fed.
  • When all else fails, watch a Hallmark movie. You only think I'm kidding.

Let's hear from you! What do you have to add to the list?


Ashley Clark's debut novel releases next fall with Bethany House. 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 website, Facebook, and PinterestShe is represented by Karen Solem.