Encouragement Writing craft

Finding God at the Spelling Bee

Julie Lavender

Most of my newspaper bylines result from faith-based stories that I locate on my own. I enjoy sharing God-stories in the newspaper.

As a newspaper stringer, however, I often have the opportunity to cover news-related stories, and I can honestly say I enjoy most of those stories, too. Some are a bit of a yawner, though, and three-and-a-half hours of spelling words fell in that category when I covered a school district contest a couple of years ago. Towards the end, two young brilliant boys went back and forth for thirty-five rounds before Elikem Gato stumbled on the word “mukhtar,” and Eric Lim was declared the winner. 

Oh, dear – Elikem’s back, I mumbled quietly when I entered the auditorium to cover another spelling contest. This could go on forever.

I was lulled into amazement at the kids’ performance, just like last time, with the first pronunciation. 

When “folksiness” tripped up seventh-grader Nicholas Cortes, Elikem Gato correctly spelled “beneath” and “flail” to become the spelling bee champion. 

Gathering my journalist’s paraphernalia, I made my way to the winner. I snapped the obligatory trophy shot with his school principal and grabbed cute shots with his family, too. Both parents and two brothers congratulated Elikem and beamed with pride. 

All I need is a couple of quotes from the champion, and I’m outta here.

 “How did you prepare for the spelling bee, Elikem?

“I study a lot with my brothers – in the car, after school, at home. We call out words to each other. We grew up memorizing Bible verses at home, so memorizing words comes a lot easier for us.”

Elikem Gato with parents.JPG
Elikem Gato with his parents–and the championship trophy.

I paused from my writing and made eye contact with the youngster. His dad, a college professor, added in his beautiful Ghana-cadence, “We try to train our kids to live out their faith, to let the them know the importance of knowing Jesus and trying to live for him as best as God can help us.”

My grin widened almost as much as the trophy-holding champion’s, and I chatted with the family until the maintenance guy turned off the lights in the auditorium as a not-so-subtle hint.

I had my God-story for the newspaper after all, about a champion of words and the Word, and I couldn’t wait to get home to write the article.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that you’re with me in everything I write. Even when I don’t expect to find you there! 

BIO: Julie Lavender, author of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell), loves finding God in the little stories and the big stories with each newspaper article she pens. Author, journalist, and former homeschooling mom, Julie is a wife, mother of four, and grandmommy of one.

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Pam Farrel

Pam Farrel
Pam Farrel

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing multi-published author and popular speaker Pam Farrel! With fifty-five books under her belt, Pam has lots of interesting stories to share with us today—and a fascinating new book.

Welcome Pam! Please tell us about your book, Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience.

Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament by Pam Farrel
Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament by Pam Farrel

Take a journey to discover all God has planned since before the foundation of the earth. You’ll never grow tired of studying Scripture with this innovative and immersive Bible study experience. Through compelling instruction, creative activities and motivational devotions, it reveals God’s redemptive plan from the beginning of creation into life today.

What a great concept! What inspired you to write this book?

Discovering Jesus in the Old Testamentwas birthed from the desire of all three of us co-authors, editors and the Harvest House team, to create a book to really help readers gain a solid theological foundation, a renewed relationship with Jesus and an appreciation of the Old Testament and its power and ability to speak practical wisdom and insight into our lives today. All the Discovering the Bible series have a goal to equip readers to read, study, understand, and apply God’s truths to their own lives. We also added in creative and devotional elements so readers look forward to time spent with God by engaging with the Word and with God in a personal and profound way.

That sound like a wonderful combination. What was it like to write this book? Any surprises?

This is our third Bible study in the series, and three of us team to create it: Jean E. Jones does the deep dive into the scripture; Karla Dornacher is the artist and she teaches readers to express their own creativity, and I add in the devotional and practical, “apply-this-to-your-life-TODAY” element and I also serve as the marketing director. Being a team project, I am continually delighted by how God uses project after project to deepen each of our own walks—and also our friendships. We each have very unique gifts and personalities, and because we completely trust each other and appreciate each of our unique distinctives, talents and strengths, we are becoming a well-oiled machine. Harvest House has also given us a fabulous editor in Hope Lyda, who is also a best-selling author in her own right.

The other surprise is how Jean took a full wall of color-coded sticky notes and turned it into a story board that tracks all the main eras of the Bible: Genesis, Moses, Abraham, David, Major Prophets, and Christ. The sheer volume of material would have overwhelmed most authors but Jean has an AMAZING mind when it comes to the Bible! And Karla continues to create one amazing illustration after another for every chapter we tackle. It is a delight to be surprised in delightful ways by your talented co-authors.

It sounds like an amazing team. Has God used the message of your book in your own life?

One of my devotionals highlights Jesus as our Emmanual, “God with us” and I draw from the names of the Messiah shared in Isaiah 9:6: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The study was released just before Covid, so in preparation for teaching the study, I always DO the study complete with all the coloring pages and Creative Bible Art. Like many authors and speakers at the onset of the pandemic, in two days, two years of my speaking was cancelled or postponed yet I didn’t panic because I have a history with Christ and His miraculous provision, but also this study was like a personal Divine hand of comfort on my shoulder as we navigated the challenges and created a “pandemic pivot” in our life, marriage and ministry.

I love that! What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?

This is a very fun question to answer because what I THINK should be the best or favorite place to write and what is REALLY where I produce the most writing are very different. When I first began my book writing life, I pictured traveling to beautiful and exotic places and being inspired by scenic vistas and comfortable lodging.

In reality, most of my books have been written from 9 pm-midnight while my children slept and my busy husband (who most of our marriage was also a pastor) was either writing too or shepherding his flock. For many years, I had an office in the garage! As the children launched, we did move to a larger home and for several years, I had a beautiful and large office with an expansive desk, but we were so busy traveling to speak during those years that some of my best writing was done from an airplane seat!

Then we downsized and sold our home and moved on to a live-aboard boat where the views were grand, but the vessel was always moving and swaying with the lapping of the water. In the pandemic, Bill’s 90-year-old parents needed safe and reliable care, so we moved inland to help them and we currently live in a 300 square foot RV so we can be near to help them!

In my book Get It Done, Girl: Maximize Your Moments Action Planner, I encourage people to do a self-study on what boosts their productivity. I write best if it is 66-70 degrees in temperature, and I have plenty of protein and caffeine in me, with instrumental praise music playing in the background, and with my feet higher than my waist! My sweet husband bought a recliner off Craig’s List (one for the boat and he picked up a free one for the RV), so in my tiny house, I write with my feet up. We also set up an outside office under the shade of a tree and I enjoy writing from nature!

A true love of writing must drive you, right? So why do you love writing?

I am addicted to changed lives!

Books have encouraged, equipped, educated and inspired me—and I love to see how God can use the words He gives through my mind and fingers to positively impact and influence others.

When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?

I come from a dysfunctional home where domestic violence was common due to my father’s drinking. The library was a place of peace and solace. In addition, I would check out the maximum number of books, then one at a time, I would take a book up a tree to spend the afternoon reading, or I would spread out a blanket in a pasture on my family farm and spend the days writing. By grade two, I had penned my first picture book, The Tale of Princess Pam.

In high school and college, I served on my school’s newspaper staff and I discovered I loved telling other people’s stories, especially stories of overcoming obstacles and true tales of God-inspired and empowered victories over hardships.

During college, I rededicated my life to Christ and felt a call into full-time ministry. I first thought that it might include a career as a TV journalist, but I had a very bad case of acne. (I joke that I have the perfect face for radio). God used what could be seen as a failing or weakness to direct my path to the written word. Eventually, God healed my skin and He also moved me into speaking and media opportunities—but from a strong and powerful foundation in the Word of God and writing skills to share His message of hope, help and healing.

I love how God works! Now, what is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?

It might interest readers to know that God can empower ANYONE to write. I am ADD/ADHD so writing to me is a miracle of God each time I sit down. For me, writing is a bit like strapping myself into a jet pilot’s seat and HE makes the words fly! I have written 55 books, so each is a sacrifice of love on my part and a miracle on God’s part!

Tell us about your funniest moment with a reader.

One fun experience that repeats over and over is we get baby pictures and thank you notes from the readers of our book, Red Hot Monogamy!(Reproduction of children is a great outcome from that book about God’s view on intimacy!)

Your writing is definitely leaving a . . . legacy! With all you’ve done, do you have an unfulfilled dream?

Yes, before I enter heaven, I want to write an epic children’s picture book with an “I love you” or “bedtime” theme. I started by writing for children and I may end my career in the future writing for children.

What ministries are you involved in, and why?

During the years that our three sons were in high school and college, my plate was very full: pastor’s wife, women’s ministry director, community leader, mom of three multi-sport athletes, and I wrote two to three books a year (or co-authored them). I spent way too much time in the seated position so I put on extra weight and in my early 40s discovered I had health issues I needed to address. I joined First Place 4 Health ministry and over the course of a year, I lost 50 pounds! God has helped me go on to lose a total of 70 pounds and I have kept it off for more than a decade. (I like to say I lost the equivalent of a fourth-grader!) First Place 4 Health is a Biblical wellness program and the leaders have reached out to many authors and speakers and have kept many alive to write more books! I am so grateful that I have been a virtual leader of a First Place 4 Health wellness small group for almost a decade now.

What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?

I am an active woman. I bike, hike, dance, swim, paddle board, kayak, do HIIT workouts and enjoy stretching at sunset on the bow of my boat.

And still you make time to write! So what’s next for you? Please tell us about your next project.

I always have many plates spinning! I am working on a children’s book inspired by my granddaughter, a marriage book co-authored with my husband, Bill, and our next in the creative Discovering the Bible series: Discovering Good News in John is due to release in 2022.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

That all sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing with us, Pam!

To learn more about Pam and her books, please visit Pam’s website and Pam’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Jane Daly

Jane Daly
Jane Daly

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! It’s a treat for me to interview today’s author, Jane Daly. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jane over the years at numerous writers’ conferences, and I love her sense of humor. Jane has written several nonfiction books, and now her first novel is debuting! And…I got to read the first few chapters, and it’s GOOD!!!

Welcome, Jane! Please tell us about your amazing new book, The Girl in the Cardboard Box.

The Girl in the Cardboard Box by Jane Daly
The Girl in the Cardboard Box by Jane Daly

A young girl is found huddled in a cardboard box in a homeless camp. She doesn’t speak and appears feral. Placed in the affluent home of Hayley and Jason Montgomery, she begins to flourish. But will Hayley and Jason’s secrets ruin the appearance of their perfect marriage, and threaten the girl’s newfound security?

With such an intriguing concept, what inspired the idea?

I had a vivid dream about this child wandering alone and surviving in a homeless camp. When I began writing, I placed the girl with Hayley, who seemed on the outside to have it all together, but in reality was a hot mess. She thinks she has to somehow get God’s forgiveness by taking in difficult foster children.

Why did you write this book?

Christian women who have had an abortion in their past suffer from tremendous guilt. Hayley represents those women. Hayley thinks God caused her toddler to die in a hit-and-run as punishment for her abortion. Now she has to earn back His favor. She discovers that God doesn’t work like that.

I’m glad you wrote about this common misconception—one that’s so easy for all of us to fall into. Is there a message you hope readers will take away from this book?

God is merciful and has already dealt with ALL sin, even abortion. His grace is all-sufficient.

Such an important message! How has God used this in your own life?

After my son died, I had to stop and make sure I knew God didn’t take him because of an abortion I had when I was seventeen.

I can tell this story comes from a place of both knowledge and compassion. What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

Writing this was like giving birth to a twelve-pound baby. It took me over three years to write. I had to delve into my own beliefs about God, the sanctity of life, and my views about other women who have made that difficult decision.

What’s your favorite scene in this book?

My favorite scene is where the girl inhales an entire bowl of banana chocolate dessert, provided by Hayley’s neighbor Zola, and promptly vomits it all over Hayley’s shirt.

I had a hunch your sense of humor would come out somehow! What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

Redemption, redemption, redemption. No one is beyond redemption, no matter how far you’ve strayed. No situation is beyond redemption, even the loss of a child.

Beautiful. What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?

My greatest inspiration comes from being on the coast, listening to the waves crash on the beach and feeling the warm breeze flowing through the windows. We have a timeshare on the beach in Baja, and I’ve gotten more writing done there than any other place.

My current reality is writing at my kitchen table, looking out the sliding glass door at the birds who flit around our feeder while my tiny garden sprouts tomatoes and cucumbers.

That sounds lovely too! So, when did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?

When I was in second grade – I had a tiny story win an award and it was published in our local newspaper.

Well, with such an auspicious start, do you still have an unfulfilled dream?

I want to visit the capital cities of all 50 states. When I retire, hubby and I plan to take several road trips in our RV so I can check that off my bucket list.

Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?

I have a day job in a bank. I hear so many stories from my customers – at times we’re like bartenders. People know they can tell us their deepest, darkest secrets and we are legally bound to keep them to ourselves.

I never would have known! How interesting. Now, all writers are readers. Do you have a favorite library memory?

When we moved to Sacramento, California in 1964, our local library was so tiny you had to turn sideways to get down the crowded aisles. The uneven wood floor and dark paneling made it a mysterious place for this imaginative little girl. I loved riding my bike there each week and returning home with a bag of books. When the library moved to a bigger location, it was never the same.

That old library sounds enchanting! Other than exploring states and libraries, what are your hobbies or activities or passions?

I’m a bit of a fitness nut, always trying out new healthy recipes. In addition, I work out four days a week with the same group of women. I call us The Faithful Five. We do spin class (that’s a bike that doesn’t go anywhere) two days a week and PiYo (fast-paced combo of Pilates and Yoga) two days. When it isn’t raining here in the Pacific Northwest, I’ll hop on my bike and explore our new town. Many of the homes here are over a hundred years old.

What fun to have a fitness group! And what’s next for you as a writer? Tell us about your next project.

I just signed a contract with Elk Lake for a novel, Broken. It’s the first in a series of two or three books.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

Congratulations, Jane! I’m so excited for you!

To learn more about Jane and her books, please visit Jane’s website and Jane’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Mary Moore

Mary Moore
Mary Moore

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, novelist Mary Moore! Mary’s Regency romances have won awards, and she’s here to chat about her latest novel!

Welcome, Mary! Please tell us about your novel The Aristocrat’s Lady.

The Aristocrat's Lady by Mary Moore
The Aristocrat’s Lady by Mary Moore

For a few moments on a moonlit balcony, Nicole Beaumont was just a beautiful woman catching the eye of the handsome Lord Devlin—but she knew the illusion couldn’t last. If the enigmatic aristocrat knew her secret, he’d realize that her disability left her unfit for love. So, who could blame her for hiding the truth just a little longer?

Intriguing! What Inspired you to write this story?

First of all, in 1995 I felt like there were very few Christian novels available. There were a few great ones (Eugenia Price, et al.), but you always had to wait for their next book to come out before reading another. So, I decided I would write one, for my own pleasure, not to be shown to anyone else. And I enjoyed it so much I wrote six. For some reason, ten years later I found them in the attic and read them again. Oh, they were awful! So, I rewrote them with ten more years of life experience behind me that I could draw on.

That started my desire to use my own experiences in my stories, if I can, because if I’ve lived it, those scenes are real and a little less contrived. I had gone through a period of ill health that doctors couldn’t figure out. I felt like doctors were just passing me on to new ones when they didn’t immediately have the answers. The frustration was almost harder than the illness. So, I wrote a story around a woman having a disability that doctors (such as they were in the Regency era) could not find the cause for or give her any hope of the outcome. She knows that God sometimes heals and sometimes doesn’t, but ultimately the heroine, and myself, learned to put God first and human answers way below that.

The fun thing about the book is that she doesn’t want anyone to know about this disability. Everyone who knows wraps her in cotton or wants explanations and/or treats her differently, so the reader doesn’t find out what this disability is until the hero does midway through the book. I got great responses from people who were trying to guess what it was all during the first half! And it turned out even better than I could have hope for.

Sounds like a lovely surprise! What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

It was my first book and I sure didn’t know much about publishing. My agent had never represented fiction before, but she loved the story so much that she wanted to take it on. When my publisher signed me, we were excited to be under the Christian umbrella of a larger and well recognized publishing house. It turns out it wasn’t really the Christian umbrella; it was called the “Inspirational” umbrella. We didn’t realize that they would not let me give the salvation message by a character or throughout the story. They wanted inspirational not gospel.

I had to rewrite those sections of each of my first three books trying to be as bold as I could within their parameters. I heard from many readers who were disappointed there was no actual conversion, and I wrote each one back to try to explain, but I was just as frustrated as they were.

No such restrictions in my current work in progress, so that challenge is gone!

What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

I guess I would have to say strong godly women with a good sense of humor. I never had a plan to have a specific theme to my stories, but when The Aristocrat’s Lady was being written, I wanted my heroine to be a brave, strong woman who could handle her disability, the things she would have to face on her own. When I turned in my second book, Beauty in Disguise, the publisher called and said that they had released something along the same line several months before and they didn’t want to hurt the sales of my book by being so similar, so I told God He would have to show me what He really wanted it to be. The story and heroine turned out to be a special book to me on forgiveness. The heroine had to be strong to get to that point in the new story. In my last book, Accidental Fiancée, I purposely set out for my heroine to have an awesome sense of humor that played well with the hero’s and showed him the opportunity for grace from a God he had only been taught to him legalistically.

And as I mentioned when I was described my WIP above, she’s pretty heartbroken about not being able to have children and must put on a brave front to all the world, giving up the chance of marriage as well. But she’s a very godly woman who accepts God’s plan and uses the sense of humor God gave her to present her true self despite the disappointment.

As I said, I never expected to have a theme that I would keep coming back to, but it seems God had other plans!

Speaking of humor, do you have any funny moments with readers?

I write Christian fiction, primarily romances, during the Regency period. I never expected an email that came through my website from a man! He said he had been visiting some of his wife’s family and had forgotten his Tom Clancy and John Grisham books. He was in the living room and saw my book on the table. He said he was intrigued by the cover so he picked it up and started reading it. He read it in 2 days and was very surprised he liked it!

I texted him back and we had several discussions (he, of course knew nothing about the Regency period, and he was one of those who wondered why I didn’t give the “guy” the gospel message in the end) and I left it with, “See it’s not just for women anymore!”

The next time I went on Amazon, I noticed I had a new review and it was from him! He had explained the background of reading it, speaking to me with lots of questions, and ended it with, “Guys, it’s not just for women anymore!” I laughed and thanked God for a John Grisham fan who liked a Christian Regency romance!

My favorite reader letters from men start with, “I never read romance, but…” I’m glad you receive them too! What ministries are you involved in, and why?

For the past five years, I have been involved in a women’s Bible Study in the capacity of co-leader, co-teacher and co-facilitator (depending on the study we are doing). We have a study every spring and fall and it has grown from a small group of women in our church, to a community study with women from all over our county and from several different churches.

I’m not really sure about the why! I never believed that my gift was in the teaching arena; I hate talking in front of people. But my co-leader asked me how would I know if I never gave it a try. I prayed about it for quite awhile and just felt like she had a point and God seemed to be overwhelming me with the thought that I had a great opportunity to use other gifts that I had as well. So, I said yes, and it has been such a blessing to me. I’ve had to dig into Scripture more than I ever had to before, I’ve met and bonded with so many different women at different times, and I’ve learned so much all the way around.

What do you read for pleasure?

I read my first Regency by Georgette Heyer at 15 and I’ve been hooked on her and the era since then. She is long gone, but ask anyone who has read her 50+ books and they will tell you she is the greatest Regency writer. Of course, I also love Austen and Bronté and Gaskell, but they technically wrote during those Regency years, so they are considered contemporaries! Of course, in addition, they are not Christian stories, though squeaky clean.

It was an interesting time in terms of religion and the beginning of the open air ministries of George Whitefeld and John Wesley working toward the Great Revival in many places across the country, when the Church of England was the nationwide accepted and required religion by the King. The Regency era is a short-lived period in England’s history, where the king is declared mad and his son becomes the Prince Regent. The super elite and the poorest of poor all live in London with only a few miles apart. There are so many interesting ways to write around all of these facets of life then, so when I became a writer, I wanted to write Christian Regencies. When I am working on a new book, as I am now, I will re-read one of my earlier favorites to generate the feel for how good it needs to be and to get immersed in the period. My brother used to tell me that he always knew when I was working on a new book because when I talked to him, I didn’t use contractions and was a little more formal!

Fortunately, there are many more Regency writers now and organizations to promote and help authors in any way that they can. So, I always have one handy when I’m reading for pleasure!

It’s certainly popular now! So what are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

My next book is a Regency novel based on the story of Hannah in the Bible. It’s interesting that during the Regency period, in the upper echelon, a woman’s primary role in life was to marry and provide heirs to carry on the family name for the next generation. That’s one of the reasons the Biblical story of Hannah fits so well into my novel.

The Hannah in my story has wanted children since she was a young girl. But a childhood illness will more than likely make that impossible for her. Since she cannot carry on a gentleman’s legacy, she accepts God’s will, and determines she must never fall in love. So, she claims that she has no desire to marry…until she meets the one man she knows she would marry if she could.

It is a romance that centers on the faith of one godly woman and the redemption for a man who doesn’t want to believe it. It’s a story of waiting in faith on God’s plan, accepting his grace as sufficient, and the joy and laughter that comes new every morning.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing with us Mary!

To learn more about Mary and her books, please visit Mary’s website.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Candy Arrington

Candy Arrington
Candy Arrington

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing nonfiction author Candy Arrington. Candy has addressed some tough topics in her articles and books, including grief, suicide, and caring for aging parents. And her newest book is on a topic that challenges all of us at one time or another—waiting.

Welcome, Candy! Please tell us about your book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well.

Life on Pause by Candy Arrington
Life on Pause by Candy Arrington

We live in a world of instant everything, so life pauses seem negative. When our plans are brought to a halt, we’re frustrated. Is waiting ever beneficial? What if pauses ensure protection, provide time for preparation, or develop patience? Waiting may be the catalyst for successfully navigating what lies ahead.

I call waiting God’s favorite teaching method—and I’ve been on the receiving end of that teaching. What waiting period in your life inspired you to write this book?

Several years ago, my husband lost his job when a major project he was working on was put on hold indefinitely. Initially, we were optimistic about a quick turnaround, but many companies were not hiring, and eight months later we were still waiting. During this life pause, we learned a lot about trusting God’s timing and his provision in waiting. Later, I wrote an article for about that waiting period in our lives and pitched the book idea based on that article to a publisher at a conference.

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

2020! Not only did I have the distraction of a global pandemic and all it entailed, but a number of family crises occurred while I was writing the book that pulled my attention in other directions. Remaining focused and productive to meet the deadline was a struggle.

I think many of us can relate! Do you have any themes you return to again and again in your writing?

Recuring writing themes: moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances, finding positive elements in times of hardship and loss, building on a firm foundation, and personal growth.

What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?

My ideal writing place is a covered outdoor area with a view of water. My actual writing place is my upstairs office beside a large Palladian window that overlooks our yard.

They both sound lovely! When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?

My husband and I attended a weekend retreat with a group from our church. Early the second morning, God woke me. Words swirled in my head, forming phrases. I got up and could hardly get my notebook and pen in hand fast enough to capture the sentences that were pouring from my mind. Later, when I shared what I had written with the group, many asked for a copy of my words. That was the first time I realized my God-given words had the ability to touch hearts.

That’s fabulous! Now that you’ve been writing a while, what is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?

Many people have the illusion that writing is a glamorous endeavor, that you get an idea and it pours onto the page. However, in truth, writing is hard. It requires planning and rewrites and perseverance, and often rejection.

So true! Now, all writers are readers. What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?

I write nonfiction, but enjoy reading fiction, particularly British murder mysteries. Currently, I am reading Saturdays with Billy, written by my pastor, Dr. Don Wilton, about his friendship with Billy Graham.

Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?

My father was a builder and real estate developer, and when he died, I inherited the real estate portion of his business. Today, the other hat I wear in addition to writer is president of a landholding corporation. I frequently use building themes or life lessons I learned from my father in my writing.

Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?

I work well to deadlines, much better than to a nebulous time frame. Part of staying disciplined is knowing my most productive writing times. For me, weekday mornings and late afternoons are when I do my best writing. I have also become aware of cycles in my writing, times when I am more creative and productive. When I am in one of those cycles, I try to clear my schedule to take advantage of the creative surge.

It’s so important to learn those cycles and our own most productive times—I’m glad you’ve found them. Please tell us about your next project.

My next project will be a surprise, maybe even to me! I have been collecting information for several years for two nonfiction books. It remains to be seen which one rises to the top or has the most interest from publishers.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

I love that! We can’t wait to see what it will be!

To learn more about Candy and her books, please visit Candy’s website and Candy’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

Encouragement Humor

On Reading

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

Reading—and the love for it—is not a genetic trait. Parents who read wish it was. However, reading is developed as a love, a passion, or it is shunned just like any other activity. Find me a person who loves to read, and I can find that person’s antithesis who would rather wait for the movie or TV show to come out.

Or just play video games instead. (Maybe “evil twin” is a more apropos term for this character…Just kidding!)

Case in point. I’m a writer. I have three daughters. Two of them like to read. One hates it and does it out of necessity, not enjoyment. All three grew up in the same house, had the same parents—one of them an author in the children’s later years.

The other day, I was at the home of the one who isn’t a reader. She proudly showed me her new bookshelf in their new office area of their new home. On the top shelf sat a copy of all my books, save two (one of them a reprint copy, so we won’t hold that against her). She thought she had them all.

The Letters

She talked about how she recommends them, although she’s never read all of them. She says it with a smile. We understand each other, although I know reading would enhance her life in ways she has yet to experience.

She’s proud of her daddy, and that means a lot. She supports me—her father, the author—whenever she can. But no matter what the book, even my latest novel (and she has read it, by the way, albeit the first pre-publication manuscript), my daughter still smiles and make no bones about her unwillingness to read, even though The Letters was just nominated as a finalist for a prestigious award and came in Second Place is another prestigious award.

Would I love her more if she did read all of them? No. Of course not.

We’d just have more to talk about, that’s all.


Kevin Thompson is a former English teacher who believed that if he was going to teach students about writing, he should put his money where his mouth was. Since that time, he has written three award-winning novels and serves now as an assistant principal at a public high school.


Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: 

Facebook:                               C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page

Twitter:                                   @CKevinThompson

Instagram:                               ckevinthompson

Pinterest:                                 ckevinthompsonauthor

ACFW Fiction Finder: 

BookBub:                                C. Kevin Thompson




Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Karin Beery

Karin Beery
Karin Beery

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, novelist Karin Beery. Karin’s goal in writing was to write clean romances to “fill that middle ground between prairie romances and bodice rippers.”

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman
Crystal Bowman

Davalynn Spencer here, welcoming children’s book author Crystal Bowman to tell us about her board book, My Arms Will Hold You Tight.

Crystal, please give us a thumbnail sketch of your featured book.

My Arms Will Hold You Tight board book
My Arms Will Hold You Tight by Crystal Bowman

Adorable animal babies and their parents share the tenderness of heartfelt love through various playful activities, as well as comforting hugs on days that are sad. Parents can snuggle and cuddle with their little ones as they turn the pages to read the lyrical text.  

What a delightful title, Crystal. Why did you write this book?

I’m enjoying my seven grandchildren and love those early years of snuggling and cuddling. These years go by so quickly and I wanted to write something to capture those special moments. 

With seven opportunities for the snuggling, did anything surprise you during the research or writing of this book?

I was surprised to learn that relationship experts believe children need 4 hugs a day to survive, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day to grow.

That’s some serious need, and I wonder how many hugs we need as adults. Did God use the message of this book in your own life?

It’s been a strong reminder to hug my grandkids and even my adult children. During this pandemic, we are starving for hugs.

So very good to remember. Do you have a favorite section in your book?

At first, I wasn’t excited about the artist wanting to feature bats in one of the spreads, but it turned out to be my favorite. She made them look adorable!

Amazing what perspective can do for us, something that you as an author share with your readers. Has being a writer impacted your perspective of and relationship with Christ?

It’s made me realize how dependent I am on having the Lord direct my writing paths. I am deeply humbled and in awe that this is what He created me to do. 

What drew you to write children’s books?

I love writing for children, to teach them that God loves them. I also love to write in rhythm and rhyme, so board books and picture books are the right genre for me.

Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.

A young mom sent me a video of her son reading one of my books to his military dad over Facetime. I sobbed!

That is touching indeed – reaching all the way into a parent’s heart. With such a ministry in writing, are there other ministries in which you are involved?

I am involved with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) as a speaker and mentor. I write for young children, and the moms are the ones who read my books to their children. I love connecting with them.

Everyone seems to struggle with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?

Deadlines really stress me out, so I set my own deadline two weeks ahead of the publisher’s deadline. I divide my work into segments and figure out how much I need to write each day or week. I love surprising editors by turning in my work early (and they love it too!).

When not working on deadline, do you have any hobbies, activities or passions outside of writing?

I enjoy exercising outdoors and often go for walks. This winter, when the snow came, I bought a pair of cross-country skis and have been skiing in our backyard. It’s great exercise and has helped me enjoy a Midwest winter.  

Now that is a creative way to keep moving in the grip of a snowy winter! What about your future plans – what is your next project?

I had the privilege of writing a picture book based on a true story about a young refugee who left her home in Sudan and came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old.

Davalynn Spencer
Davalynn Spencer

We’ll be looking forward to that book’s release! Thank you for spending time with us today, Crystal.

For more about Crystal Bowman and her books, visit Crystal’s website and blog at and her group blog, Christian Children’s Authors.

Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn’s website

May all that you read be uplifting.

Humor Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Mining For Gold

Miss Wetherham's Wedding
Miss Wetherham’s Wedding

We think of gold primarily as either bullion or jewelry, but the precious metal has many other uses. In the old days, it was used for tooth fillings and even the odd false tooth. Nowadays, uses range from industrial to medical, to agricultural. For instance, gold is used to treat pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It is liquefied, injected into muscle tissue, and reportedly helpful in 70 percent of cases. 

Writing historical fiction doesn’t only mean researching the time period of the book’s setting. For my newest release, Miss Wetherham’s Wedding, my heroine owns the controlling number of shares in a tunneling gold mining venture that’s gone dry. As I dug up whatever I could find on gold mining, I came across some interesting facts most of us probably aren’t aware of.

Another interesting tidbit is that 10 billion tons of gold circle the world in seawater! Before you start panning, the gold isn’t just floating around in specks or nuggets. In fact, the cost of recovering it unfortunately exceeds its value.  

And here’s something to wrap your brain around:  worldwide, the amount of steel poured in just one hour is more than the amount of gold that’s been extracted in all of recorded history! That’s how rare gold is. 

In my book, Miss Wetherham has neither the money to explore the mine for more gold, or the heart to try it even if she did, for there is danger involved. For these reasons, she finds herself in precarious financial straits–the perfect place to introduce a hero, even if he is, by all report, a rogue. 🙂       

Linore Rose Burkard An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first book (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense, contemporary romance, and romantic short stories. Linore resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots. 

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Linore Rose Burkard

A Chat with Author Linore Rose Burkard

Linore Rose Burkard
Linore Rose Burkard

Greetings from Marti Pieper in beautiful, blooming Seneca, South Carolina, where bright azalea and gentle wisteria blossoms enrich our views. Today, I’m delighted to introduce to you a friend I’ve not met in person but who lives near where I grew up in southern Ohio. I’m excited to share the work and the words of Linore Rose Burkard with you today!

Welcome, Linore! Please tell us about your book.

Miss Wetherham's Wedding by Linore Rose Burkard
Miss Wetherham’s Wedding by Linore Rose Burkard

My goal with The Brides of Mayfair Series was to fill every regency romance reader’s wish list for what they enjoy most in the genre. There’s nothing more fun than a clean, traditional regency, but too often modern writers contemporize the plots or their main characters. A recent reviewer’s comment that Miss Wetherham is “an entertaining and romantic tale full of all the story line elements that Regency romance fans adore,” was music to my ears. Another reviewer called me “the Queen of Regency,” (a title I ascribe to Georgette Heyer), so that was hugely gratifying!

(Please note: Miss Wetherham’s Wedding is forthcoming via Ingram. The other two books in the Brides Series are already available.)