By Susan G. Mathis

I hate conflict. I don’t like getting into disagreements with my husband. I don’t like having a spat with a friend. As a parent, I hated the constant conflict-resolution needed when my two kids didn’t get along.

As a teacher, I didn’t enjoy being the one to break up tiffs between pubescent girls. And as a Grandma? Well, let’s just say I sometimes choose to become an ostrich. You get the idea.

So when I began writing fiction, I had a problem. Conflict is a main ingredient of a good story, and to write compelling fiction, I had to have compelling conflict that would hold the reader’s attention. But how was I going to address the very thing I was tempted to run from? I had to settle that question—and quick!

Although conflict is often present in daily life, we may overlook or ignore it. Hubby doesn’t want cereal for breakfast. Son wants to play before doing his homework. Daughter doesn’t like the way you did her hair. Colleague disagrees with a decision you made. Neighbor dislikes your dog’s barking. The list goes on and on.

When confronted with conflict, I tend to self-talk, fret, stew, worry, and struggle with sleepless nights. But those ways of dealing with conflict don’t make a good story.

Conflict is uncomfortable and most conflict just plain hurts. But that’s what keeps readers reading. Like you and me, readers want to know how others deal with conflict—how characters try, fail, try again, and finally succeed.

For advice I turned to my first two non-fiction books that deal with preparing for marriage and applied what my counselor-husband and I wrote. We had great tips and guidelines, personality types, and ways to solve difficult conflict. I applied those ideas to my characters’ lives. Bingo!

Because it’s hard for me to invent conflict when I want to avoid it, I had to be aware of this weakness. So while doing rewrites and editing, I often had to add an element of conflict or deepen it. I realized I was, indeed, running from conflict even as I wrote. Recognizing this helps me be cognizant to include the very thing I hate.

As I grow in my craft, though, I trust I will grow in this area as well.

Susan Mathis is the author of Countdown for Couples, The Re-Marriage Adventure, and three other books. She is vice president of Christian Authors Network, founding editor of Thriving Family magazine, and former editor of twelve Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and also serves as a writing coach and consultant. For more, visit


Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer

Hello from Davalynn Spencer in sunny Colorado. On a clear winter’s day, I can see almost all the way east to Illinois where today’s featured author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer lives.

Okay, maybe not all that way, but I know she’s out there writing her “stories from the heartland.”

Welcome, Diana, and give us the back-cover copy for your book, From a Distance.

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

He wants independence. She longs for safety. Will they find a way to be together for good?

Shanna Becket’s first assignment makes a stop at her hometown bringing her dangerously close to meeting her abusive stepfather. What she didn’t count on is the distraction of a handsome stranger. Read More →

12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband
Release date: Feb. 1, 2018 from Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-6867-6

About the book:

When You’re Together …But Feel Miles Apart
What do you do when your marriage isn’t broken, but it doesn’t seem to be growing, either? Noted author and speaker Cindi McMenamin shows you the small changes you can make to touch your husband’s heart in a big way in her Feb. 1 release from Harvest House Publishers:  12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband. Renew and reglue your relationship as you discover ways to strengthen your marriage and reignite the passion you and your husband once shared. Cindi will help you:
  • try seven new ways to “switch it up” at home
  • “close the gap” that seems to grow through unresolved wounds
  • see the bigger picture when misunderstandings arise so you can build a deeper trust with one another

About the author: 

Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, national speaker, and author who helps women find strength for the soul. She has more than 30 years experience ministering to women and is the author of 16 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and Drama Free. Cindi writes regularly for, HomeLife and Journey magazines, and has appeared on numerous national television and radio shows over the past two decades. Cindi lives in Southern California with her husband of 30 years, and they have one grown daughter. 


Bob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Father God Almighty,
you inspired Moses, Samuel, and others
to write when their best tools
were papyrus and parchment,
reed styli and ink made from crushed berries and plants.

For millennia,
your servants have recorded
stirring and soaring works

Read More →


The second annual SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference is coming up June 21-23 at Biola University in La Mirada, CA. Writers of every genre and stage will find community and a place to grow. Learn about the publishing industry from veteran authors, editors, and agents. Hone your craft and develop a deeper understanding of what makes a best-selling novel or nonfiction book. And find a haven of spiritual refreshment that will reignite the passion in your soul that tells you this is the story our Storyteller has put on your heart. Be reminded that with Him, your words can touch lives.

For more info:


Grace Fox, Topics: Life of Fearless Faith * A Woman Who Soars * Passport to Freedom *

Grace Fox

Grace Fox, author of eight books including Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, is making a significant life transition—she and her husband are downsizing and moving onto a sailboat. Read the story of how God has led them in making this decision.





Dr. Sandra Glahn will be speaking at Stonebriar Community Church in Fresco, Texas,

Sandra Glahn

Sandra Glahn

on February 21 at 10:30 AM and 7:15 PM about women of the Bible featured in her recent work, Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible.






Karen Whiting will be speaking at the Children’s Ministry Expo in St Louis, on February 2, on using puppetry in children’s ministry.

Also, Karen would like to share this excellent review from Interviews and Reviews about her inspirational cookbook, The Gift of Bread.

“A feast for the senses that combines inviting recipes, thoughtful reflections, encouragement, and instruction for how to live fully on God’s provision.
Thirty-one chapters, each featuring detailed and easy-to-follow recipes for breads of every kind, celebrate the many ways we come together around the table. Whether you are a baker who enjoys thoughtful, inspirational writing or a reader who loves a good cookbook, you will find heartfelt stories and inspirations throughout this book. Expert tips, how-tos, and pointers will turn even a novice into a successful baker, and the writing will encourage readers to reach out and share their bounty with others, while thanking God for their daily bread.”