It's still summer, but get ready for some fun Christmas reading. Releasing today are two books with stories by CAN author Lena Nelson Dooley:

Christmas Love at Lake Tahoe
Lena Nelson Dooley, Jeanie Smith Cash, Jean Kincaid, Jeri Odell

ISBN-10: 1602605637
ISBN-13: 978-1602605633

Love hits the slopes at Christmastime. Four young women, fresh out of college, pursue their careers at a new ski lodge at Lake Tahoe's Incline Village. Bethany has a hard time focusing on her RN career when she meets a handsome paramedic. A man who takes chances on the slopes almost makes Scarlett lose her focus on planning things to the last detail. A rival seems to be undermining Stephanie's efforts to develop a time share program at Snowbird Lodge. A widower and his daughter find a place in the heart of Michaela, even though she's chosen a male-free existence.

Wild West Christmas

Wild West Christmas 
Kahtleen Y'Barbo, Lena Nelson Dooley, Vickie McDonough, Darlene Franklin

ISBN-10: 1602605661
ISBN-13: 978-1602605664
Four sisters are raised on a Texas ranch by their widowed father. Christmas courtships corral these women when a citified tenderfoot, a budding evangelist from a Wild West show, a part-Mexican horse wrangler, and a Texas Ranger ride into their lives.

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Rick on Maui (2)



I love a good suspense novel–the kind that grabs you with the first line, slowly tightens its grip for 400 pages, and doesn't let go until the very end. I've also written suspense since I was in high school, and now I even get paid for it.So when CAN invited me to join this blog, it was only natural to do a series of posts on suspense writing. The series is titled The Author as Terrorist because … well, keep reading and I'll explain.



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While thinking of an appropriate subject to present as my first contribution to the CAN blog, I decided on the topic of discouragement. Why something so negative? And what does discouragement have to do with the craft of writing? We’ve all heard the admonitions to persist in our writing, to fend off discouragement, to plow ahead with our calling. And that’s what we do—knowing that if God has called us to write, he will “sift and search out” our path (Psalm 139:3 AMP), and use our words to glorify him. Oftentimes, writing is a joy—easy, flowing, inspired. But other times it’s a real struggle to keep at it.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king punished in Tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. The word sisyphean means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, “endless and unavailing, as labor or a task.” Sometimes we work so hard at writing our books, rolling them up the hill to be noticed by an agent or editor, excited to share our boulder with the world, only to have the thing roll back down as we watch in dismay—or, worse yet, as we get crushed underneath as it careens down the hill.

I’ve met a few writers who have had an easy course. Within months of writing their first book, contracts were in the mail. Without much effort, their books catapulted to best-seller status, and within a few years, their list of published credits matched the length of my daily to-do list. For we writers who have struggled the long haul to that golden ring, we fight feelings of unworthiness and envy. Perhaps we finally get our books published and chance upon a scathing review, or sales are disappointing. We finally got that boulder up on top of the hill for everyone to see, and then—more discouragement.

As someone who had to wait over twenty years for that first publishing contract, I consider myself an expert in discouragement. The flipside of that coin is persistence. Persistence either leads to determination or giving up. But the blessing of discouragement is closely tied to the writing craft. For, if my determination is continually renewed, my calling reaffirmed with each disappointment and rejection, along with it comes the drive to excel and improve my craft. I have found that my passion to reach out with my words grows more urgent with each year passing, and that translates in my writing as honesty, fervor, urgency, and compassion. I am forced to reflect on what I am writing and why. On how I am writing and to whom—and to what end. Perhaps, because of my personality and background, and my passion to reach and change hearts, God has seen fit to give me a season of discouragement as a way to mature and ripen my sensitivities and insights into human nature. I have no doubt that discouragement has played a huge factor in my growing as a writer—not just personally, but in my craft.

May we all look at the boulder-rolling experience in a positive light—we gain strength from the effort, get a glimpse of what’s on top of the hill, and learn to sidestep the discouragement as it comes barreling at us. Eventually, after so many times of crashing down the hill, the boulder will wear down to a manageable size—perhaps one day ending up a pebble we can carry in our pocket as we take in the glorious view from the heights.


SusieLarson051 Greetings, Friends!

I'll be here on the fourth Thursday of every month to chat with you about the ins and outs of developing a speaking platform. Please feel free to ask questions along the way. 

First, please allow me give you a little background on how I got started as a speaker. God built my platform out of the ashes of my pain. When I was a young mom battling a vicious disease (and the financial hardships that followed), I wondered if God had lost my address. My prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling and God seemed especially silent. Then one day a woman from my church called and said the most amazing thing to me:

"Susie, I've heard about all of the hardships you and your family are going through and I took those concerns to God in prayer. The Lord showed me a picture of a platform that He's building with your pain. Lean in and learn during everything you can during this time, then you'll have something to say when you get to the other side of painful journey."

That's all I needed to hear. God was up to something. In spite of the fear, fatigue, and despair that swirled around me, I leaned in. I listened. I took lots of notes. And I trusted God.

One day, out of the blue, I received a call from the leader of a MOPS group. Somehow she had heard about me and wanted me to share my story with her women. I was a weak, scared, and wounded little bird, but God used me in my weakness. And thus began – from very small beginnings – my speaking ministry.

For me, every new stage of growth in this ministry has always been preceded by a deep (and somewhat painful) character cleansing time. I now know to lean in and learn during those refining times so that I can stand strong in the next place He has for me.

That blessed phone call came about 17 years ago and in His wisdom, God has established my platform in pace with the ages of my kids and with the state of my health. Now that my kids are grown and I have the time, I'm running to keep up with it all. I'm represented by a wonderful national agency (Ambassador Speaker's Bureau) and my platform is steadily growing. I say no to more events than I say yes to, but I have to in order to keep up with my writing and the occasional radio work that I do. It took a while, but now I've got some great momentum and to tell you the truth, I'm hanging on to the Vine for dear life!

I tell you all of this to encourage you. If you have a heart to speak…lean in – right where you are – and learn everything you can from your current season of life. Take lots of notes. Notice how God is working all around you. Be a student of God's Word and a helper of the human condition. Be faithful right where you stand. Be fruitful with what you have. And believe Him for open doors and new opportunities. 

God wants to use you more than you want to be used by Him! 

Next month my blog topic will be: Hone Your Craft and Humble Yourself. 

Until then~

Be blessed, my friend.
Susie Larson


Kern_web shot Jan here . . . hoping to offer a few words of encouragement for those tough moments in a writer’s life.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, I’m going to guess that there is something going on right now that feels . . . well, impossible.

Could be pumping out that amazing, hard-to-turn-down proposal, or getting it into the right hands. Could be, now that you have the contract, the deadline feels impossible . . . or you’re staring at a flashing cursor going nowhere. Maybe the book is published, but effective marketing feels out of reach, either due to limited know-how or resources.

I’m going to take another guess . . .

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