Crystal Bowman
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! This past spring I had the joy of serving on the faculty at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference with Crystal Bowman. I was impressed with her passion for writing for children, and you’ll be impressed with her creative ideas for speaking events.

Crystal, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

Over 100 books for children. I have also written 3 books for women and contributed to several anthologies, but I have found my niche in the children’s market. Some of my latest titles are Our Daily Bread for Kids, Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers, and M is for Manger. Read More →

Darlene Franklin

Darlene Franklin

Hello, it’s Darlene Franklin ( again! I enter the marketing arena with some fear and trembling, since I sit at the knees of people are masters of the craft, such as my publisher, Cindy Hickey. But I also know that I do more social media marketing than many other indie published authors. So . . .I share what I’ve learned by trial and error. Something is working right.

A popular and fun use of Facebook is a “party.” I’m not discussing how to hold the party today, but what next? How can you utilize the momentum from the party? Read More →


Quilting Encouragement with Mary Tatem


When I visit the Jamestown ship, the Susan Constant, which sailed from England to land in the wilderness of Virginia, I never fail to marvel at the courage of those who left the security of a known life style for the uncertainty of how they would secure the basic necessities. The 116 foot ship bobbed over the ocean for four months with seventy-one passengers crammed into the cramped spaces. I would hesitate to travel to the Bahamas on that  little ship, let alone across the Atlantic. In May of 1607 when they disembarked on mosquito infested land, the hardships of starvation, and death challenged them. They continued to worship God in the midst of their difficulties and even built a church where they sought God’s direction in the midst of their trials. Ultimately the settlement prevailed.


Today people involved in some industries can feel as tossed as those explorers on the tiny Susan Constant. Writers and retailers of physical books produced on paper are among those industries where technological advances have produced the equivalent of stormy seas and unknown terrain. Other industries as well require nimble adjustments to survive change. When we visit  historical sites, we often discover the common thread of praising God in the midst of challenging situations. Those of us in industries that roll and pitch in our times, can copy our ancestors and keep a thankful spirit toward God. He is able to help us negotiate the uncharted seas. His love is greater than turbulence that tosses us around. Cling to His love and watch for his guidance and peace. Psalm 31:3, ‘For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me and guide me.’ Thank you, God, that you care about the details of our lives.


Mary TatemMary Tatem is an author of story based devotional books which boost your spirits. Each devotion uses the craft of quilting or scrapbooking to touch the reader’s heart and show the love of God. Her every day examples of God’s involvement in our lives provide encouragement to rely on God.  She enjoys speaking to women and inspires them to trust God and His warm love. Currently, she is using her love of story to write historical novels.

As the mother of four and grandmother of fifteen, she finds life full of inspiring stories. Join her to read about God’s work in His people.




Turns out, Shakespeare stole his play Othello from another author. I just read a blog that insists: “A little-known Italian novelist and poet named Giovanni Battista Geraldi, also known as Cinthio, wrote a short story in 1565 titled Un Capitano Moro, which historians have noticed shares certain elements with Shakespeare’s Othello. Which elements, you ask? Oh, nothing major; just the plot, characters, certain names, setting, and moral. Cinthio’s version of the story is so similar to Shakespeare’s acclaimed play that we’re surprised Shakespeare even bothered to change the title before ripping it [off].”

In an era of no copyright laws, Shakespeare stole from other works, too. Even the beloved Romeo and Juliet.


The bard exposes questions writers bump into sooner or later: “What if somebody else publishes my idea? What can I do about this?” More likely, the questions should be: ” How can I accept that I don’t solely own my ideas? How can I adjust to an idea overlap and move on gracefully?” These insights help me with the proliferation of ideas in publishing.

No new ideas exist. A few thousand years ago the author of Ecclesiastes lamented, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9). He also observed, “Of making many books there is no end” (12:12). He observed that ideas and events keep repeating themselves; that everything is a derivation of something preceding it. If the ancient writer observed this pattern, how would he feel today? In the speeding electronic age, it’s impossible to possess a completely original idea. We can only mark the idea with our unique viewpoint and presentation, faithfully following God’s call to write.

You can’t copyright an idea. No matter how creative your book, blog, study, or article idea, it can’t be copyrighted. That’s the same for titles. (Note the repetition of exact or similar titles on You can only copyright the contents of your completed work. So until you finish the manuscript, anyone can unknowingly publish a work with the same title and similar content. However, unless that person directly plagiarizes, it’s doubtful the two works would precisely resemble each other.


Few Christian writers steal ideas. The poet T. S. Eliot wrote, “Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.” The incessantly creative Pablo Picasso said something similar about visual artists. Both of these creatives referred to learning from other writers to improve your own work; perhaps imitating or morphing an idea, but not stealing exact words and images. Unless a person directly copies your work, it’s difficult to prove someone intentionally stole your idea. If you think another writer took your idea and its format after you revealed it to him or her, then it’s time to make an appointment and talk. You’d probably discover that writer already had the idea in process. Very seldom would legal procedures be merited. And if it’s Christian to Christian, remember the role of forgiveness.

Procrastination can hurt. At lunch with a friend who wants to write, she mentioned a recently published book by a female author. I responded that the book wrapped around a clever idea–a new “take” on a familiar concept.

Agitated, my friend Rebecca blurted out, “She took my idea.”

“What?” I asked, surprised.

“I had that idea and she wrote about it,” explained Rebecca . “I’ve had that idea for quite awhile and now she’s published it. I feel robbed.”

Rebecca might have felt robbed, but that wasn’t reality. She didn’t know much about the author. Never met her. My friend and that author conceived the same idea, but Rebecca procrastinated. During that time, the author actually wrote the book and published it.

Sitting on an idea too long might mean someone else, anywhere in the world, moves ahead and publishes something similar. Especially if you feel the Lord inspired you to write something, don’t take too long to act on it. Procrastination can turn into disobedience. Or at least serve you a lost opportunity.

You can publish an altered idea. Even if someone else publishes your idea and its format, you can still use the idea. Just alter it. Craft it in a different way. There is plenty of room for one idea to scatter into many life-giving angles and versions. Yes, the market can glut with similar themes, but if God asked you to write about something, that’s not your concern. Write your own version. Reach a narrow readership. This advice sinks the hearts of agents, editors, and financial managers, but we’re not called to be top-listers with our projects. We’re to fulfill our calling. It’s just as valid to impact a few people–or even one–with the hopeful, healing splinters of the Gospel through our writing. In any format. With a small-budget or non-existent marketing plan. Stretch your creativity and write the same idea in a unique or unusual way.


Each generation needs the same messages. More than 20 years ago, I wrote a book about women finding their purpose and passion in life. It was received well, along with a Bible study and seminar to accompany it. Recently when I noticed younger women writing about the same topic–almost using the identical tag line as mine–my first response in my head complained, Well, I wrote about it first! They’re acting like this is a new revelation. Books dwindle in sales over time, but I still wanted recognition for my influence and creativity. For someone to acknowledge I wrote a purpose book if not first, in the early stages of Christian women exploring this topic. Selfish, I know. After awhile I repented for my self-indulged, haughty viewpoint. I conceded this was God’s message, not mine. He could scatter it around wherever, whenever, and through whomever He pleased.

God doesn’t drop an idea or message into the soul of one person, one time in history. Each generation needs the Gospel and biblical principles in fresh ways. In words and formats that introduce Him to the younger generation within a context they comprehend. Women in their twenties through fifties can reach readers I can’t. Instead of claiming someone took my message, I now think, Isn’t that wonderful the message about purpose continues on? How can I celebrate that author encouraging her generation or unique group to embrace God’s individual purpose for each woman? My positive response wasn’t automatic. But when I reminded myself purpose comprises an element of God’s time-evading desire for humanity, I acknowledged my tiny role (a speck, really) in spreading this magnificent message. I applaud my spiritual sisters for carrying it forward. And encourage them to stride with humility.

It’s not a competition. A writer friend Anna attended a conference designed to encourage Christian writers and speakers. During a round-table meal, Anna revealed she was writing a book about a specific topic. Another writer at the table suddenly seemed agitated and explained, “That’s my topic and format, too.” After this admission, the responding writer changed in demeanor and wouldn’t talk much. Anna told me, “I could feel the chill.” My friend was new to the publishing world, but over time she returned from other Christian writer conferences with the same observation: “Most of the writers seem engaged in competition with one another. I can’t stand that.”

God never asked us to compete with one another. It’s poison to the soul, our unity, and collective message. Although we think we’re hiding our competitiveness, readers and other writers detect this spirit. You can destroy effective ministry through competition. Instead of silently comparing, complaining, and competing, we’re to fulfill our calling, our unique expression, our Spirit whispers to write something specific or pursue a ministry theme. A competitor since birth, it’s required years for me to absorb this truth. I damaged myself and others along the way.

Overall, we can’t control the proliferation of ideas. We can only follow God’s impressions on our hearts through our unique viewpoint, personality, and writing style. We can flex when it’s necessary. And contribute to harmony instead of hostility among Christian writers. The world watches us.

If you read the blog about Shakespeare’s theft, you’ll need to pardon the language.


Judith Couchman is the author or compiler of more than forty traditionally published books, compilations, and studies. She’s currently writing the book, How to Keep Writing and Loving It. Sometimes she writes about art, a passion for many years. She’s not worried about somebody stealing her ideas.








Hello from the battered state of Florida. My TIPS FROM THE PROS front porch is propped up with 2 x 4s. The power was off for days, so the fridge and the freezer received a good cleaning. Our gas grill got a workout, cooking up all the thawing meat from the freezer. We lost several days of sleep and gained too many pounds to count. All in all, another day in…uh, paradise.

I do exaggerate a little, but we have to here is the land of blustery days and nights in order to keep our sanity.

Oh, by the way, the tourism industry wants me to tell you Disney is still here. The Pirates of the Caribbean have taken over the Magic Kingdom, however, so the price of rum has gone up considerably. It’s a supply and demand thing.

So, with this backdrop, it seems a little strange to be talking to someone who writes stories set in places that actually have mountains, creeks, deserts, ranches, and more. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Margaret Brownley!margaret

Margaret, I know you’ve been doing this writer thing a long time. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

I’ve published 40 books including my Rocky Creek, Last Chance Ranch, and Undercover Ladies series.  My Christmas novella Do You Hear What I Hear? will be released this month and Left at the Altar will be available November first.

You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

It’s gotten a lot tougher. Many bookstores have closed since 2013, which means there are less sales channels.  One of the biggest problems facing writers today is discovery.  It’s hard to get noticed in this overcrowded market. One of the chief lessons I’ve learned is the importance of keeping my name out there between books.  I used to publish a book every nine months—no problem.  Readers have a shorter memory these days, probably because of being bombarded with so much stuff.  I now work to keep my name out there by filling publishing gaps with novellas or shorter stories.

What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?

I learned that it seems like everyone wants to promote your book for a price, but few can do it well.  Before paying money for book promotion, you have to do your homework. If the site isn’t forthcoming with metrics, it’s a waste of time and money.

That makes sense, Margaret. If they claim they can help you sell your book but have no real numbers to prove it, they’re like an editor saying he’s a good editor but doesn’t have any published titles to offer as proof. Good point. So, what are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?

In terms of selling books, I find that my newsletter is the most effective.  I can actually track the number of click-throughs and watch sales spike. But there’s a trick to writing newsletters.  You have to give readers something worthwhile.  I’ve found contests helpful in getting readers to sign up for my newsletter.

leftatthealtarfinalcoverWhat are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?

In general, I find Facebook and Twitter to be less effective. Mainly, because I have little control over who and how many readers see my posts. I’ve paid for ads on Facebook, but the click-throughs are never as high as they are for my newsletters.

What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?

I enjoy connecting with readers through my newsletter and blogs.  I don’t find personal blogs to be that effective.  I prefer group blogs which bring in more traffic.  I’m a regular blogger on and

What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?

This past summer I attended the Romance Writers of America conference.  To promote my Dog Days of Summer story, I made almost a thousand fleece tug toys for dogs.  These were a big hit and went the first day of the conference. Someone even tweeted that I won the “bling contest.”  It was a lot of work, but worth it.  Some even sent me photos of their dogs playing with the toys.

What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?

I don’t know if this qualifies as the funniest, but I took a bunch of my dog toys to the Librarian Meet and Greet event at the conference—and couldn’t give a single one away.  Why?  Because librarians, it seems, favor cats!

I guess that would be true. Cats are quieter, right?

Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?

Joining CAN has been a blessing in so many ways. It amazes me how dedicated members are to helping each other.

What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?

Promotion can be overwhelming. I would say to pick out one or, at the very most, two social media sites and learn to use them well. It’s important to track the metrics to see what works and what doesn’t.  Most important, relax and have fun.  It takes time to build a readership.

Good advice, Margaret. We want it all, and we want it now, don’t we? Sounds very Varuca Salt-ish, if you ask me. And we remember what happened to her, riiiiiiiight?

Margaret, thanks for stopping by. When you drive home, please be careful. Lots of debris in the streets. Compliments of Matthew.


If you wish to get to know Margaret better, stop by her website @


Thanks for dropping in.

Stay safe.