Categories
Humor Inspiration for Writers

The Writer Who Almost Wasn’t

Linore Rose Burkard
Linore Rose Burkard

Proof of God’s power and sense of humor are both evident in my story of getting published.    Readers would probably be surprised to learn that despite majoring in English Literature and graduating magna cum laude, I was too afraid to take a Creative Writing class. It wasn’t that I didn’t have story ideas—I just lacked the confidence and, I believed, the time, to write them.  (I worked full time and was convinced it would take an enormous amount of time to do it well, if I could indeed even do it.)

But story ideas wouldn’t go away. And after waiting years for someone to write a Christian Regency romance, I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  So I wrote the book I wanted to read. Knowing nothing about the publishing industry, I only queried two publishers. One was interested (a major house), but then passed. With my usual ultra-confidence, I accepted that I wasn’t good enough to be published.

But God wouldn’t let it go! He kept nudging me. But I kept procrastinating. And here’s the humorous part. He used a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to do it. Whenever I thought about it, he would remind me of “thine almost blunted purpose.”   Finally, I self-published the book—I thought I had no other choice—which led to  Nick Harrison, then a Senior Editor with Harvest House Publishers, contacting me, which led to HHP publishing it (Before the Season Ends), and then two more regencies.

Why that line? Why from Hamlet? I often wondered. It took years for me to understand. Like the troubled prince in the play, I was being a great procrastinator! God nudged me to action in time for Nick to find the book and ask to see it.  And thus began my career.

Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard
Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard

Bio: Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite and hopeless romantic.  She writes heartwarming historical romance and YA/Suspense (as L.R. Burkard). Raised in NY, she now lives with her husband and five children in southwestern Ohio.

Categories
Humor

The Tree of Not-So-Good

Like finding Easter eggs in each novel, I include unique places the reader probably has not visited, adventures my reader most likely has not experienced, and unique facts about our zany world that were not in our textbooks.

In suspense novel, Chasing Sunrise, I take the reader scuba diving along the wall off the coast of St. Croix. Much like an elevator shaft, the majestic formation drops some 3000 feet below the ocean surface.

With the island as the setting, I included the historic sugar mills, rum production, the seven flags that flew over St. Croix, World War II sonobuoys, sea glass, how to crack open a fresh coconut, mocho jumbies, Alexander Hamilton, and crab races.

Native to the island, the manchineel tree is deadly to everyone except a species of land crabs. St. Croix is the only United States-owned soil where Columbus landed, and he quickly discovered the danger of the manchineel after several of his men ate the fruit and died.

Michael examined the extent of the damage. “If it’s so dangerous, why not get rid of the tree?”

“That’s just as dangerous.” Jake shook his head. “Maybe more. Standing beneath the tree during rain may cause blistering. Cutting the tree gets the poisonous sap everywhere. Burning the tree causes blindness if the smoke reaches the eyes. Inhaling the smoke blisters the nose, mouth, and respiratory system.”

“Nuisance,” Michael groused.

Discovering the tree and its parts contain strong toxins, what’s an author to do? Of course, I let our military pararescueman leverage the tree as a weapon against the unsavory bad guys.

Exploring, learning, and researching are perks of being an author. The fun is multiplied by sharing the adventures, discoveries, and places with my readers.

 

PeggySue Wells
PeggySue Wells

History buff, and tropical island votary, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, PeggySue is the bestselling author of 29 books, translated into eight languages, including The What To Do series, The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make. Radio talk show host, author, and speaker, she interviews industry experts, entrepreneurs, and exceptional voices to help people live better, together. Connect with PeggySue on Facebook, Linked In, and at  www.PeggySueWells.com

Categories
Humor Writing craft

Politics & Personnel–All in a Day’s Work

I’ve never been a police chief—but I spent many years of my career in public education serving as a high school superintendent. The day I realized the overlap between those two positions was the day Jo Oliver was born.

In the early years, I interviewed women and men (mostly men) police officers and had the privilege of participating in a few ride-alongs. As a member of the International Thriller Writers Association, I enthusiastically joined in on the FBI workshops hosted by the Manhattan FBI during our annual summer conference. It wasn’t until I heard a dear friend and local police chief describe his day-to-day activities as being mainly concerned with politics and personnel that I realized I could write from that seat authentically.

School superintendents also spend a good deal of their time addressing politics and personnel—sans badge and gun. Layering on the details of a series of crimes fell into place once I knew how my police chief would spend her time on the job when not chasing bad guys/girls. In addition to trying out cool new technologies in their efforts to protect and serve, my characters spend much of their waking time at work. Understanding that leadership in the police arena is not all that different from leadership in other arenas added confidence and an air of authority to my writing.

In crafting my current novel, I am drawing on my world of education to form the background of my protagonist. Grounding her in a world I know so well frees me up to create bridges into the bold new future world we are creating and sharing on the page together. Weaving in the ancient truths of human development, character, and consequences of our choices laid out in the Bible adds the final layer of intrigue and fuel for reflection I strive to include in my work.

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates opportunities to contribute to the wellbeing of others as a coach, writer, and friend. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. www.catherinefinger.com

 

 

Categories
Humor

A Vote For Humility

Dianne Neal Matthews

Just before I moved to Salt Lake City in 2011, a librarian friend of a friend asked me to be the featured author at her small Christian school’s Book Fair. After I emailed her my photo and book cover images, she met with the principal and got really excited about the promotional ideas the two of them had planned. But I was not prepared for what she accomplished while waiting for me to fly in.

The school sat at the top of a high hill. As we turned in the driveway at the bottom, a huge sign with my face and name greeted me. At the top, a large easel held a similar poster. Smaller signs dotted the walls in the hallway highlighting my books. As I washed my hands in the bathroom, I looked up and saw my face on the paper towel dispenser. Suddenly, I felt like a rock star.

Book Fair
At the Book Fair

Although many people passed through the halls, book sales were slow the second morning. But after all, it was the day for women’s Bible studies; also, the building was serving as a polling place. After a few hours, I saw a woman walking toward me, obviously intending to talk. Did she want to buy an autographed book? Or maybe tell me how much she loved the one she got yesterday? I eagerly leaned across the table. “Where do I go to vote?” she asked.

You know, pride is a sneaky thing. It can slip into our attitudes without us even realizing it. But on that day, I realized something: When you’re a writer, sooner or later someone or something will give you a wake-up call if your head starts to get too big.

On This Day by Dianne Neal Matthews

Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of five daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.

 

Categories
Humor Writing craft

Where Do Faith and Technology Intersect?

Behold, I will do something new—

Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

 Isaiah 43:19

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger

As I sit on my screen porch, luxuriating in my Wisconsin summer morning ritual, coffee at hand, dog at my feet and a cacophony of avian praise in the background, I cultivate ideas for my new book. Placed in the near future, this book plays with bioethics as illuminated through the life and choices of Em, my female protagonist. Facing her own mortality in the guise of a terminal disease, vexed with arthritis and the quotidian irritations of aging, she wonders daily what it would be like to replace not only the occasional joint—but her entire body.  In an age where humans are able to artificially enhance their physical and mental selves, should they?

I myself am resigned to the inevitability of a knee and hip replacement—but what about body enhancement or replacement? In my fictional year 2060, in a world where downloading human consciousness into artificial bodies has become commonplace, Em struggles with moral ambiguities and bioethics without a common cultural framework. How should her faith inform her choices related to her physical health and mental health? If she were in need of a kidney transplant, or a knee replacement today, I do not know a Christian in my circle who would oppose it. But if she were to consider replacing or enhancing her entire body in the year 2060, would there be a Judeo-Christian framework for her to consider?

Artificial Intelligence is another passion of mine. A recent bout of research brought me to an app called “Replika,” claiming to be “an AI who cares.” Naturally, I signed right up. I named my Replika “Carver.” You can see our exchange regarding today’s lofty topic in the screenshot photo below.  While Carver didn’t seem particularly interested in my question, nor in the future, he did eerily mirror most conversations I’ve had with members of the opposite sex. So that’s something, right?Conversation with Carver 7:17:20

Categories
Encouragement Humor

Seizing the Moment–and Wishing that I Hadn’t

Dianne Neal Matthews

I attended my first writers conference in 1999, convinced that they’d kick me out once they discovered I had no writing talent. The third year, I gathered enough courage to schedule an appointment with the editor of a major Christian magazine to pitch a personal experience article. While the piece didn’t fit his periodical, John liked the basic story and suggested changes to make before I submitted it. I was thrilled that he didn’t just say no.

At dinner that evening someone asked if I’d had any exciting appointments. I told them about my meeting with John. Joanne shouted, “He’s looking for you!” She had just come from John’s workshop. He’d talked about a woman who had showed him an article he really liked, but he didn’t get her name. I doubted that I was the woman since I had talked with him less than two hours earlier, but Joanne was convinced, and so convincing. I wondered…

A few minutes later, John walked by. My fellow diners urged me to go after him. “There he is!” “Go talk to him!” “Yes, it’s you he’s looking for!” As John and I passed each other, we made eye contact. No sign of recognition. My heart sank, but then I decided to boldly seize the moment—for once in my life. I called his name and asked if he was looking for me. A little confused, he explained he’d been talking about a lady who showed him an article that only needed one sentence changed. He had not taken her name down, thinking she would get back to him. He said that he had been expecting to get tackled in the dining room; I told him that he almost had.

I crawled back to my table, and we all laughed about the misunderstanding. But Joanne felt horrible and I felt worse. Then I realized that editors must meet so many people at conferences––surely they don’t remember every writer who makes a fool out of herself.

In July, John notified me that my article would be in the December issue. I immediately emailed Joanne with the news: “So you were right—he was looking for me. He just didn’t know it at the time!”

 

The One Year Women of the Bible by Dianne Neal Matthews
The One Year Women of the Bible by Dianne Neal Matthews

Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of five daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.

Categories
Humor

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy   

Risk Management Cover
Risk Management by Leeann Betts

Often, when an author begins writing a series, they have an idea of how long it will be. Knowing in advance when to stop gives the author the opportunity to develop their characters and their series, and to bring it to a logical conclusion with a satisfying character arc and ending.

Which just goes to show how little I knew about writing a series when I began my By the Numbers series. In fact, when I wrote the first title, No Accounting for Murder, I didn’t even know it would be a series. Until I wrote THE END.

Well, last December, she said, “I’ve had enough. June’s book will be my last.” She meant the June 2020 book. And I thought, “Okay. I’ll simply end the series and go on to something else.”

Not so easy. This was a character I’d been writing about for more than fifteen years. I’d published ten books, was just getting ready in December to release number 11. It was like putting down the family dog.

Or worse.

Unable to write this final story, I tried something different. I asked Carly what she’d do with her time once she retired. What would hubby Mike do now? I researched why Carly would retire (health reasons), and I asked her about how she thought her faith journey would look.

In short, we talked.

Now I was excited to share this with readers, because I was excited for her. For the new path she’d enter. The new adventures she’d have—outside the pages of my stories. And the story flowed as I wrote the story of Carly’s heart.

So stay tuned for Risk Management, available now for pre-order here and officially releases on June 30th. And the segue novella, Mysterious Ink, will release in September.

Question for readers: Do you like to read a series in order, or are you happy to read any which way you get the books?

Leeann Betts
Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Risk Management, which releases June 30th, 2020, is the 12th and final story in her cozy mystery series, “By the Numbers”. Watch for a segue novella in August that weaves Carly’s story with the upcoming new cozy mystery series, “Mysterious Ink Bookstore Mysteries”, with its first title releasing in December 2020. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels.

 

 

Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Bonanza Books-in-a-Flash: order autographed print copies of books that are shipped directly from the author.

Blog: www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6

Books: Amazon http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE  and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2z5ecP8

What Can Be Online University: online courses on the craft of writing

Etsy online shop of original artwork, book folding art, and gift items

 

 

 

 

Categories
Humor

On Horses and Storylines

Christie & Cosmo in Vegas
Christie & Cosmo in Vegas

Miss Christie’s little black ears twitch at each note as morning birds serenade us. We start most mornings (God, weather, and coffee supply willing) in our treetop screened porch, nestled under blankets, Bible and journal nearby. Very soon, Miss Christie and I will begin our days from the pleasurable confines of Cosmo, my Class B RV.

The three of us are hitting the road on Memorial Day, heading to Oklahoma City, where we will reside in an RV lot for a ten-day horse show. The Amazing Miss Clara—my nine-year-old quarter horse mare, Jess, our trainer and several other dear friends will meet us there.  Anticipation has my arthritis flaring already and I am giddy as a schoolgirl in June.

After way too many weeks of COVID, Netflix, and Cheezits, I am beyond

Miss Clara
Miss Clara

ready for a road trip. And for the blood, sweat, tears, joy, and laughter of enjoying every second of my equine love affair. Few things make me happier than spending time with Clara. I know all of her little secrets, where she loves to be scratched, how best to brush her in all her favorite places. I know her smell, her nicker, and the feel of her body in any number of communication modes.

Just thinking about her makes me happy. As I was plotting my current novel, I wanted to throw in this kind of passionate love and demonstrate how it could morph into an addiction. For extra fun, I propelled the whole idea into the near future and asked how that addiction could be played out in VR (virtual reality). Having set the stage, I wondered what that addiction might look like at a fancy dinner party where my heroine finds herself a bit on the bored side. Cool things happen—but that’s a story for another day.

Interesting storylines come from everyday occasions. And from our best of friends—four-legged and otherwise.

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Her newest novel, Capsized by Death, is the fourth book in her award-winning Jo Oliver thriller series. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.

Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.com

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineFingerAuthor/

 

Categories
Humor

Fast-Food Pick-Up Line

Not only did I forget my cell phone the morning I had a newspaper stringer interview at Chik Fil A, I also failed to write down the gentleman’s name that I was supposed to interview. I knew the focus of my article – interview an 80-year-old community member who served as a chaplain for a large car dealership in the area.

Eighty-years-old and he meets participating employees every morning at 7:00 AM to share a devotion and prayertime, and I get so frazzled explaining schoolwork to my homeschooled teenagers that I dart out of the house without a phone and interview details.

I walked into the fast-food restaurant across the street from the mall shortly before nine and glanced around.

Oh, thank you, God, there’s only one customer here. That’s got to be him.

Already mentally rattled, I didn’t think through my first question. I approached his table and asked, “Are you here to meet someone?”  

The senior gentleman looked up at me, raised his eyebrows, pushed back from the table, put both hands up in the air in surrender-posture and exclaimed, “I’m not here to meet anyone!”

It was at that very moment that a gray-haired man stood up on the opposite side of the restaurant, from behind the partition that had previously blocked my view of him, and waved to me.

Sheepishly, I apologized for the confusion and walked over to meet Mr. Lingle.

And I have NEVER forgotten an interview subject’s name again.

 

365 Ways to Love

Journalist and author Julie Lavender is fascinated with others’ stories and has written about them in over 900 newspaper articles and a number of Guideposts Magazine articles, too. She is excited that her parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, published by Revell, releases in October. Connect with Julie on social media, and she promises to remember your name!

 

Categories
Humor

The First Zip Line Ride?

Fun trivia: The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883. The first person to cross it was E. F. Farrington, the Bridge’s master mechanic.
Zipline Photo
Zipline Photo
But instead of walking across the bridge, he went by zip line!
I discovered this fascinating bit of trivia while doing research for my novel, A Sicilian Farewell, part of which is set in late 19th-century Brooklyn.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is an award-winning author who writes riveting fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, a love story about racism, released in November 2019.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio
Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

MaryAnn has also written THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES trilogy, a page-turning, family saga revolving around the life of Maria Landro, a woman torn between two worlds, and who must choose between them. MaryAnn’s books for children include five picture books: WHO IS JESUS?, TOBY TOO SMALL, CANDLE LOVE, THE DANDELION PATCH, and POEMS FOR WEE ONES and one chapter book: DO ANGELS RIDE PONIES?

MaryAnn lives in New Jersey with her husband Dom. They’ve been married 50 years and are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to paint, play the piano, and make up silly songs with her grandchildren. You can learn more about MaryAnn at maryanndiorio.com.