Archive for June, 2016


 062716 - carol stratton - new week new face - author banner


Writing About Autism and Making It Real


Several readers have asked how I have been able to portray an autistic boy so realistically in my book, Lake Surrender. I answer that it was my job as a teacher’s aide, seventeen years ago where I worked with some severely impaired autistic high school students which inspired Lake Surrender. They put a mark on my heart and a desire to write about these special kids.

Seventeen years ago I walked into a spacious classroom with about five students and a teacher.  A couple of the students looked up and then continued their twirling, stationery bike riding or practicing their name on a whiteboard. Unlike a normal classroom of teenagers, it was silent except for an inappropriate giggle from one student and a “Wahaaa” from another student. Welcome to the A-1 autistic impaired classroom.

The teacher, Ms. Crandall, made up for the class’s lack of communication with her energetic conversation talking about my new position. We went over my assignments as I took in the assortment of kids.

Dustin was the loudest. The curly haired teen loved two things in life, Hoover Dam and the Wright brothers. He would talk in a booming voice about those two subjects for hours on end.

Joel always had a grin on his face. Age sixteen, he lived for slicking back his dark hair with hair ointment and taking his sweet time on the stationery bike as he went for a leisure ride. He was never in a hurry and always repeated back anything anyone said to him. He never had his comb far from him in his back pocket as vanity had his number.

One of the most severely impaired students was Josh. He usually kept himself curled up in a tight ball and had a perpetual grin on his face. No one, not even his mother knew what curious thoughts went through his mind as he couldn’t talk. But, boy could he run. We called him a “bolter.” A few times he threw the entire school into an uproar as he played hide and seek around to the horror of his aide, Dena.

Robby never knew any emotion but happy. With his short buzz cut, he loved to rock back and forth and clap to any music was able to navigate himself with his cane, being blind by birth. When he heard we would be going somewhere outside of class, he’d be the first to up out of his seat.

Paul, on the other hand, had a wicked sense of humor. He had been very heavy but in his junior high school classes his teacher made him walk up and down stairs when he got out of line. Needless to say, he lost lots of weight. Unfortunately, I had to watch myself when I was around. Supervising his stair climbing one day, we took a break and I sat down on a step above him. Before I knew it, he had almost pulled me down the steps below.

The only girl, Sarah, was quite tall and blonde. Although she couldn’t speak physically, she used sign language to communicate her message, loud and clear when she wanted something, using sign language. Her object of desire was usually some other girl’s barrette or headband.

From the minute I walked into the classroom located in our high school’s farthest wing, I knew I wanted to write about these kids. They each lived in a small world of their own and our job as teachers and aides was to bring them into a larger social sphere.

Many students and faculty secretly labeled us the “weirdo” class and stayed miles away from our wing, but others came every week, volunteering and to be a part of our little family. And, the longer I worked with my kids, the more I wanted to know what made them tick. Even with their severe disabilities they had definite personality quirks, likes and dislikes.

I fell in love with the A-1 class, and will always remember them. As they learned to trust me, and I them, I saw God’s goodness working in them. They showed me in their unique way that God hasn’t abandoned someone who can’t relate to the outside world. For all I know my students may have had a deeper understanding of the Almighty than I ever might have.

We live in a world of perfection, but in our search for the ultimate prizes we often miss the quirky and unique experiences. And it’s often those occurrences which reflect the great Creator.




headshopt turtleneck closeupCarol has been a freelance writer for 14 years,writing over 300 articles and is currently a reporter for the Mooresville Weekly. She has a degree in Recreation Therapy and has worked with autistic children in a classroom, an experience that inspired her to write about a woman with an autistic son.


She speaks at national writing conferences as well as MOPS and other women’s groups about personality temperaments, friendship and encouraging yourself.


Carol is married to her husband John who she calls her “muse” and has four grown children and four grandchildren. Currently she and her husband, John, live in Mooresville, North Carolina where she loves to hike and play guitar and mandolin while learning to love liver mush.



Carol’s debut novel, Lake Surrender is published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and is available on Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/hln7nv9.

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Carol’s debut novel, Lake Surrender is published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and is available on Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/hln7nv9.



Carol Stratton, New Week New Face, NWNF, Lake Surrender, Changing Zip Codes, Autism, Teaching Special Needs Children, World of Perfection


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Hullo, All, and welcome! Today’s post is borrowed* from writer pal, the lovely Edie Melson, and was originally posted on her blog, The Write Conversation. http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2013/07/tips-to-silence-your-internal-editor.html

A huge thanks to Edie for letting me share her words!






I’ve spoken with a lot of writers who have trouble disconnecting their INTERNAL EDITOR when they’re working on an early draft of a manuscript. This overly helpful person lives inside most of us and comes in handy when we’re putting the finishing touches on our manuscript. But when we’re in the midst of a creative surge, that same person can short circuit our progress.


Today’s post will give you the tips you need to silence your Internal Editor.


First you should know there’s a scientific reason for that roadblock. The creative act of writing your first draft stems from the right side—or creative side—of the brain. Later in the process, when polishing begins, the left side takes over. Here are some of the characteristics of each side.



Slide2Right Brain

  • Visual in process, focusing more on patterns and images.
  • Generally intuitive, led by feelings.
  • Is the epitome of multi-tasking, able to process ideas simultaneously.
  • Progresses from the big picture to the details.
  • Lacks organization, utilizes free association.

Left Brain

  • More verbal, needs to find specific words to express ideas.
  • Analytical, led by logic.
  • Takes things step by step, one idea at a time.
  • Organizes details first before moving to the big picture.
  • Very organized, utilizing lists and detailed plans.



Mixing up the process—trying to use both sides of the brain at the same time—can lead to a tangled mess and a major roadblock. All of this information is good to know, but what if our left-brained, Internal Editor won’t go away? How do we make her be quiet? Unfortunately, there isn’t one way that works for everyone, but here are some tips that should help.


  • Don’t give in to temptation. Our Internal Editor gets stronger the more frequently we give in to her demands. If she thinks you need a certain word before you can finish that sentence, stay strong. Type XXX and go on. Later, during the rewriting process, you’ll have plenty of time to find the right word. This goes for anything that demands you slow the creative process. At this point in your manuscript speed is your best friend.
  • Set a daily and weekly word count goal. This can often sidetrack the Internal Editor because of her need to meet a goal. Sometimes, in her drive to succeed she can even become an ally.
  • Make lists in a separate notebook. Use your computer for the story, but if the need for details overshadows the creative urge, make a quick note in a notebook. Don’t let yourself get bogged down, but let the free association part of your right brain give you ideas to explore later with your more logical left side.
  • Don’t give in to fear. Many times our Internal Editor is driven by fear. Fear that this draft isn’t good, won’t work or just doesn’t make sense. Remind yourself that this version isn’t written in stone. Sometimes just giving ourselves permission to write what Anne Lamott calls the sh*%&# first draft is all we need to derail our Internal Editor.








All of these can help, but I’d like to know what tricks you use to keep that INNER EDITOR quiet.


Don’t forget to join the conversation!





Thanks again, Edie, for allowing me to share your words of wisdom!



Edie Melson is a leading professional in the writing industry. She’s a sought after writing instructor; and her heart to help others define and reach their dreams has connected her with writers all over the country. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others.

She’s a prolific writer, publishing thousands of articles over the years, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. Edie is a regular contributor on the popular Novel Rocket and Inspire a Fire websites, as well as social media mentor for My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine.

In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, has recently been updated and expanded and re-released as Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. This devotional book for those with family members in the military debuted on Veterans Day, 2011.

Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in January 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves.

She’s a member of numerous civic and professional organizations, including Blue Star Mothers, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, The Christian Pen, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Edie has been married to high school sweetheart, Kirk, for 30+ years and they’ve raised three sons. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter – @EdieMelson and Facebook.




* borrowed because I’m getting ready for my bit trip! (see First Friday Feature, 3 June) And because, well, networking and that’s how that works!


Tips to Silence Your Internal Editor, Edie Melson, The Write Conversaton, Stories by Design, Friday Feature, Right Brain Left Brain, While My Soldier Serves, Fighting Fear, Connections

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Author Interview – ASHLEY CLARK

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 Romance with Southern Grace


rem:  Welcome to my blog, Ashley. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ASHLEY:  I was raised along the Gulf Coast of Florida and still live here now! There’s nowhere else I’d want to be.

rem:  It’s so beautiful there! One of my oldest and dearest friends lives in Santa Rosa Beach! Tell us three things about yourself.

ASHLEY:  Hmm… let’s see! I absolutely love dogs and have two rescued Cocker Spaniels. I’m a new mom to an adorable one year old who loves Mickey Mouse, and I’m an avid fan of Dancing with the Stars.

rem:  I’ll bet the adorable one year old and the doggies are great playmates! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

ASHLEY:  Chocolate chip cookie dough! Unless we’re talking about gelato, and then it would be stracciatella! My favorite cookie? That’d be a tie between good old chocolate chip and Reese’s pieces cookies.

rem:  Ohhh!!!  Reece’s Pieces cookies!! Gonna-gotta try that! If you could have any super power what would it be?

ASHLEY:  The ability to function at full strength without sleep. Did I mention I’m a new mom? 😉 No, seriously, I think I would pick the ability to teleport so I could get my favorite pasta in Venice at a moment’s notice.

rem:  I’m going with you when you do! (Did I mention I’m a pasta nut!!) Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

ASHLEY:  Most resemble? Oh my goodness! That’s a hard and hilarious question. My favorite Muppet has always been Rizzo, but I don’t know that I resemble him. Can I pick Amy Adams, or is that a copy-out answer? I tend to be pretty optimistic and love her clothes in the Muppet movie!

rem:  Not a cop out at all—in fact, I think she’s adorable and I think you’re spot on! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ASHLEY:  Always tea. Always sweet. Being a Southern gal, I’m quite a tea connoisseur, actually. The best I’ve found so far is from Charleston Tea Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina.

rem:  Hmmm… definitely have to check that out! Kids or pets? Names and ages?

ASHLEY:  My son Nathanael just turned one, and my furkids are Maddie and Schroeder. Maddie is seven, and we think Schroeder is about eight, but we don’t know for sure because he was a shelter rescue. Maddie was born at the Humane Society. Her parents were found wandering on the side of the road when her mom was pregnant. We actually named her after her mom.

rem:  I love that you have rescue dogs! Superman or Batman?

ASHLEY:  Can I pick Batgirl instead? I’ve always loved Batgirl. There’s nothing like the old Batman cartoons!

Rem:  It’s your interview, you can pick whomever you like! wink wink Vacation: beach or mountains?

ASHLEY:  I’d pick Oahu so I can have both. J If forced to choose, I would pick the mountains, since we live so close to the beach.

Rem:  That’s logical. What is your most treasured possession?

ASHLEY:  I’m a very sentimental person, so it’s hard to pick just one! Probably either my engagement ring or the photos of my son’s birth. I also have a Pound Puppy I’ve had since childhood in my closet!

rem:  Pound Puppies! Oh, that brings back memories!! What is your greatest fear?

ASHLEY:  Probably losing myself in the process of life.

rem:  Funny you should say that, I have found  myself in the process! What is your greatest regret?

ASHLEY:  I don’t know that I really have any big regrets.

rem:  You are truly a blessed woman! What is your favourite quotation and why?

ASHLEY:  “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings. I love this quote because, while we often think of the process of “growing up,” as a negative thing, in reality we should look with optimism toward the future as a process of growth, of becoming. How powerful a thought to imagine that each day, we might more fully become the person God has called us to be, and reach a little closer to our dreams.

rem:  What a wonderful quote, and what wonderful insight. What do you do as a hobby?

ASHLEY:  Writing! I also enjoy taking day trips to nearby small towns. I used to love swing dancing but haven’t been in ages.

rem:  I always loved swing dancing, too. What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

ASHLEY:  In a friend, I value intentionality and humor. In my husband, I admire his faithfulness, sensitivity, strength, wit, and work ethic.

rem:  When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?  

ASHLEY:  I HATE whenever I’m reading a great story, then the author rushes to sum it all up at the end. I feel cheated! What makes a story for me? A sense of lyricism. Writing that sings. Kristy Cambron is an excellent example. I want to be able to trust that the story world being constructed is intentional, and that the details described are saying something deeper about the story.

rem:  I read one recently that did that—story was great, layers and twists, then the last chapter it was like, BAM, we’re done! What book have you read the most in your lifetime?

ASHLEY:  Oh, goodness! I don’t know. I tend to read a book a couple times, then move on. Maybe Sam and Pepper’s Tree House when I was a kid. HA!

rem:  Might check that one out for my granddaughter. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

ASHLEY:  No question. Todd from the Christy Miller Series. He was my first fiction crush!

rem:  If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?

ASHLEY:  Elizabeth Bennet. Because, Mr. Darcy.

rem:  I’d have to agree with you there—‘specially if it’s the Colin Firth Darcy. Le sigh… Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

ASHLEY:  I generally like contemporary romance, but I appreciate anything with a beautiful story to tell, especially if it has literary elements (which I think transcend genre). Some of my favorite authors are Robin Jones Gunn, Rene Gutteridge, Laura Jensen Walker, Rachel Hauck, Kristy Cambron, Sarah Ladd, and Beth Webb Hart.

rem:  Which is more important: plot or characters?

ASHLEY:  Characters, because I’d read a book with a poor plot if I cared about the characters, but I wouldn’t read a book with a strong plot if the characters were dull.

rem:  What would you do if you weren’t writing?

ASHLEY:  Well, aside from the boring answer of teaching, which I already do, I may be a ballroom dancer. Or I always wanted to be one of those fireflies in the Disney Spectromagic parade. #kiddingnotkidding

rem:  How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?

ASHLEY:  Oh, goodness! I don’t even know… going on six years? Angie was already my critique partner, and when an open spot became available at the Alley, they invited me. I literally jumped up and down when they asked.

rem:  I imagine you did! Ya’ll are a fun bunch! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ASHLEY:  I’ve always loved stories. As a little girl, my mom would take me to story hour at the library. As I grew older, I majored in literature in college, then went on to get my master’s in English and become an adjunct. But not until about seven years ago did I hear God whisper to me that I had a call to be a writer. I’m generally a very confident person, but creative writing was the one thing I thought was too far of a dream. But God has faithfully reminded me He equips when He calls, through words of encouragement, meetings that happen at the right time, and perhaps most beautifully, through dear friends and mentors who mean the world to me. I do have two short stories published with Guideposts but dream of being a full length fiction writer. That said, I am so thankful my previous stories were not published prematurely, because I see now that I just wasn’t ready yet. I’d like to think I’m ready now. 😉 We’ll see.

rem:  I know your stories, whatever you write, and whenever you write, will be just right. As you say, He equips us for what He calls us to do. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ASHLEY:  I do not have a very good routine in place for my writing post-baby! Usually, I try to grab a couple hours a week at a coffee shop, but I’m actually trying to be intentional about carving out a more consistent routine for that.

rem:  Methinks that’s the hardest for all writiers at any stage. What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ASHLEY:  I think the hardest thing for me is the silence. The waiting. I can handle criticism. At least that I can work off. But silence? That’s hard. I try to remind myself that often God speaks loudest when all else in our lives is quiet, and that He’s planting certain seeds right now. If I want to reap the harvest later, I need to tend to those seeds well.

rem:  Ya, silence, ouch! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

ASHLEY:  I like both! I’m pretty perfectionistic, so sometimes that gets the best of me when I’m writing my first drafts, but I’ll also say, there’s nothing like that moment when the words just flow.

rem:  I know that’s right! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ASHLEY:  The privilege of the creative process. The hope of readers entering my story world. The sense of community with some of the coolest, most brilliant people I know.

rem:  I.LOVE.THE.COMMUNITY that I’m privileged to be a part of! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

ASHLEY:  The hardest thing about publishing, in my opinion, is learning to love story for the sake of story. Bringing your mindset back to the simple, rather than getting distracted by rejections, successes, and the like, or seeing those things as a validation (or invalidation) of your calling. The easiest part is the friendships along the way that help keep you going.

rem:  What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

ASHLEY:  1) Spend the bulk of your time actually writing. 2) Go to conferences. 3) Read good books often. What not to do… 1) Don’t take rejection as an invalidation of your dreams. 2) Don’t get too distracted by trends. 3) Don’t quit.

rem:  Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

ASHLEY:  In places that inspire me. Historical streets. A garden picture in a magazine. Sometimes even supporting characters in books or movies whose stories go untold.

rem:  Yup! Ideas, there’s everywhere and anywhere. As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?

ASHLEY:  No, but I’ll tell you something hilarious… Angie, if you’re reading this, please don’t hate me. One of my favorite characters is a germaphobe, which she gets from me. In one particular scene, she rubs her hands together super fast to friction-kill the germs. ANGIE ACTUALLY DID IT and thought someone in real life had given her that advice. Then she remembered it was a fictional character.

rem:  BWAHAHAHAH  (Angie, if you’re reading this, please don’t hate me for laughing!) Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

ASHLEY:  Definitely the character from the story I just mentioned. She learns to live her life in color and let go of fear, which is a message I think speaks to all of us. It was also the first story idea God planted in my heart, so it holds a special place for me.

rem:  I love that—live her life in color! I can so relate. Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

ASHLEY:  The main one, for sure. Especially her fear of public restroom door handles! J

rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

ASHLEY:  My current project doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s set in Charleston, and I am totally in love with the story! My heroine has inherited her grandmother’s old single house, and the hero is trying to buy the property for his father’s development company. It’s equal parts Southern, sassy, and romance.

rem:  Ooohh, I can’t wait to [be able to] read it! I love sassy! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ASHLEY:  God knows you better than anyone else, and He wants you to live fearlessly, boldly, and wholely.

rem:  That is so true! Anything else you’d like to add?

ASHLEY:  Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

rem:  Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!





Blog: http://ashleyclarkwrites.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerashley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001650462676&fref=ts



I’m thrilled to be a part of this collection by Guideposts, alongside so many amazing authors. My story, “The Christmas Thief,” can be found in Volume 2, Tales of Joy and Wonder. 


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Twinkling lights, the scents of cinnamon and pine, family gatherings, favorite carols from the heart. In the spirit of these cozy Christmas traditions, Guideposts is pleased to present A Cup of Christmas Cheer, a two-book set brimming with heartwarming fiction stories of faith and family set in Christmases past and present.

You are invited to enjoy two uplifting Christmas fiction collections that will flood you with the Christmas spirit and bring a smile to your face. As you delve into each well-crafted story, you’ll be swept away on a wave of glad tidings and good cheer as you are reminded of God’s unconditional love and ever-present care at Christmas and all throughout the year.

Affordably priced so you can easily give the set as heartfelt gifts, the messages of hope and faith in these extraordinary works of fiction deliver the truest gifts of the season. They will inspire all who read them as they bring home the joy of God’s presence at Christmastime.


If you’re interested in ordering a copy for yourself or for a Christmas gift, head to the Guideposts website: http://www.shopguideposts.org/gifts/a-cup-of-christmas-cheer.html.




Ashley Clark, The Writers Alley, Author Interview, Interview Blitz, Chat Thursday, Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Christmas Thief

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You may have noticed that Tuesdays are when I post reviews on my blog. And there is a review coming. But there is another “event” today that doesn’t happen very often, at least not for me. In fact, it hasn’t happened for almost 20 years—I will be boarding a plane this evening. Did I mention I love flying?



Now that may not sound extraordinary to you. And I don’t guess in the grand scheme of things it really is. But for me, it’s huge. For me, it is a breakthrough. In many ways, I have been “on hold” for a long time, growing my faith, stretching, trusting Father God to align me, align my life with His Word. It’s not an easy journey but it’s a victorious one.




“But for a girl who grew up as in Invisiblet—Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was invisible.  Or she thought she was invisible, felt that way at least.  And when she felt people were staring at her, she wished she was invisible.  That little girl was me.  Hello, my name is Robin, and I’m a recovering invisiblet.  I wasn’t shy, I was terrified.  And that made it quite difficult to make friends.  Or to be a friend.” [blog post 02 May 2014] —this gift is more than a gift. It is gold. I see Father’s hand, orchestrating the whole thing. All so I could have my desired trip. I asked, and He made a way.” just ‘cause I wanted it, a little girl asking Father for something shiny and pretty. [blog post 03 June 2016]



Besides my high school reunion, there are a few friends I’ll get to see. Kristen Heitzmann is one of those friends. And tomorrow afternoon, she and her daughter and I will be hiking. Oh yes, I can hike now! (Gently still, of course!) See my post, ON KNEE SURGERY and BEING IN HOSPITAL ON MY BIRTHDAY, 12 February 2016.



So hiking AND flying AND spending time with friends! Yeah, that’s a Special Report! And it’s only getting better from here!



And I now return you to [my] regularly scheduled programming…..








Personalities clash. Oil and water, fire and ice. A romantic and a cynic.


Grace Evangeline knows her latest novel will make a smash hit onstage. Devin Bressard is sure his stage is not the place for it. Grace is relentless and tenacious, though, pursuing Devin, leading them to a forced collaboration.


Will the collaboration bring success? Will the resulting script make it to the stage? Or will Devin lose his sanity in the process?


One calamity after another, one too many disasters, and Devin is ready to wash his hands of anything to do with Grave Evangeline. Will they overcome the frisson between them and let the spark of passion ignite? Or will their difference of vision break them and drive a wedge between them that cannot be undone?


A favourite author of this reviewer, Ms. Heitzmann, has written another one out of the fiction ballpark. Intense characters, intense emotions and convictions. Intense situations. Real and honest reactions. Characters who are true to human nature. I could identify with both Grace and with Devin, even as they are seeming polar opposites. I  felt the drive and need that compelled Grace to pursue her goal—and only the best was good enough, Devin Bressard. I also felt Devin’s resistance; I do not like to be pushed or bullied into something (even if I know it’s a good thing.) I felt his hackles burr as Grace was relentless against him.

And I felt the tension of attraction that neither of them desired, or wanted to admit.


I anxiously await the sequel to this suspenseful-romantical-comical nod to Pride and Prejudice, Told You Twice.




Slide9Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of contemporary romantic suspense, psychological suspense, and historical novels, including Colorado Book Award finalist The Still of Night, Christy Award finalists Indivisible and The Tender Vine, and Christy Award winners Secrets and The Breath of Dawn that won both a Christy Award and Inspirational Readers Choice Award and was a finalist for a people’s choice award in the Netherlands. She is a fiction track and workshop teacher at writers conferences. An artist and musician, she’ll also be found hiking the Colorado Rocky Mountain trails near her home where she lives with her husband, pets, extended family, and wildlife.











Blogwords, Special Report, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Tuesday Reviews-Day, Book Review, Told You So, Kristen Heitzmann, Freefall, The Edge of Recall, Told You Twice, Pride and Prejudice




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Personalities and Heroes


Once you begin writing, once you’ve released more than one book, you’re faced with decisions that are peculiar to your first one. That is: creating personalities of your characters that differ from the previous one.


How important is that? Very.


Here’s a couple personality examples I’ve given two of my male protagonists:


  • In Sabotaged Christmas, the first book in the Appleton, West Virginia Romantic Mysteries series, I gave Perrin Douglas a loner personality. Because of his deceased wife’s feckless attitude with her marriage vows, he had little use for the female species that happened to cross his path. He was just as happy sitting secluded (and hidden) in his home, writing, and away from prying eyes that might somehow discern the hurt in his heart. His previous life when he’d worked as a college professor–even then he was serious and responsible about his duties, his life and his family. He didn’t care for nonsense.
  • With Tyrell Walker in the first book of my WWII Spies, With Music in Their Hearts, series, he was an all-around good, smart man and serious about what he wanted out of life, yet fun to be with. He was a person who made others feel safe and comfortable to talk with him about their problems. His parents hadn’t had the best marriage, but his grandparents were prime examples of what love should be all about. They were the influence that Tyrell needed, and it showed in his personality.


Now, in Knight in Shining Apron, I needed a man who was comfortable with himself and others. I have this nifty little book by Tim LaHaye called Why You Act the Way You Do, and in the book are descriptions of different personality types. One of these is the Sanguine Personality.


Here’s how one dictionary explains it: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation. Optimistic, bullish, hopeful, buoyant, positive, cheerful, cheery, upbeat.


So how did I create Joel?

The negative:

  • Bullish: Joel was a bit of a bully, not in a seriously bad way, but he liked his way and he was persistent in trying to bring Starli out of the dumps, getting her to smile, and working to make her forget her troubles
  • Which is a good thing for the most part. But sometimes he was so-o-o confident, he could make the other person feel just a bit uneasy. Joel was such a caring person, that it hardly ever happened, but the tendency was there and had the potentiality to surface.


The positive:

  • He was smart, won awards and received job offers even before finishing school. He was perceptive and discerning with those he was around.
  • Joel was generous to a fault, gave his time and work to countries and those in need.
  • He was creative and talented, and took pride in doing his best and doing well.
  • When he gave his love, he did it with all his love and might.


It’s generally bandied about that opposites attract, and going on that supposition (or is it fact?), pairing Joel with Starli was a good choice. Given that Joel was a faithful Christian  and Starli was a practicing Christian, it was inevitable that both would be able to work out the differences in the way they approached or looked at life.


With Joel, his heart safely in God’s control, gives him the discipline that keeps his negative traits in check.


Personalities matter. Matching the right one with the right character, learning that characters are not all good or all bad, and digging deep into your characters personalities, their lives and their habits is a priority for authors.


If you’re an author I’d love to hear how and why you created a character in your book

If you’re a reader, I’d love to find out what kind of character interests you? Can you forgive a “bad” character if they show change?



CaroleAug14 (14) cropped

Besides being an active participant of many writing groups, Carole enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance and whimsy into her books, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?








Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427898838&sr=8-1

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=67381031

Google+:    https://plus.google.com/u/0/113068871986311965415/posts

Word Sharpeners: https://wordsharpeners.wordpress.com/

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/


Knight in Shining Apron Cover Blurb:

Front Cover1 w apple blossom

Starli Cameron gave up her career plans to be a concert pianist to marry the man of her dreams. He turned out to be a nightmare. When he dies in a car accident, Starli takes the insurance money and builds a successful and upscale restaurant: Apple Blossoms in rural West Virginia.  Threats from someone determined to ruin her life and the suspicious romantic advances from her new chef force Starli to search her heart and finally turn to God for real healing.


Sir Joel Peterman-Blair, top notch chef from England, is roped by his uncle, into filling in as head Chef at Apple Blossoms. Joel, with his sanguine-personality, has always laughed and flirted his way through life. But now, confronted with and attracted to the most beautiful woman he’s ever met, Joel has to prove his sincerity and depth of character to his icy-cold employer. Can his love for God and for this woman reach out far enough to rescue her from her own mistrust and bitterness? Will he learn that life is not all play?


And can they both work together to find the source of threats that seem to be coming from Starli’s past?




062016 - carole brown - book images




Carole Brown, New Week New Face, NWNF, Guest Post, Personalities and Heroes, Knight in Shining Apron, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, Bat Crazy, Sabotaged Christmas

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Hullo, All, and welcome! Today’s post is borrowed* from writer pal, the lovely Casey Herringshaw, and was originally posted on The Writers Alley where she a member of a delightful team of authors, bloggers, and encouragers for those sharing this writing journey. http://www.thewritersalleyblog.com/2016/06/editing-tips-under-pov-microscope.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheWritersAlley+%28The+Writer%27s+Alley%29

A huge thanks to Casey for letting me share her words!



Editing Tips: Under the POV Microscope


061716 - editing tips - POV - writing by design - imagesPoint of View (POV) isn’t that hard once you get the trick of it. It’s just the mastering of the trick that can prove difficult. 😉 But once a couple key elements have been identified, it’s simple to correct the errors and move forward with your story.


Be aware of head-hopping. You’ve probably heard this talked about in the escalators and elevators, in the clusters of attendees and lunch tables, not to mention classes—at conferences: don’t head-hop. Head-hopping is the big picture term. The root cause of so much evil in your novels. (Just kidding…sorta) Once you learn what to spot, it’s easy to see head-hopping in the future. Example: You’re in Mary’s head. Hearing her thoughts. Having a view from what she is seeing. She’s talking with Amy. When you are in Mary’s head, you can’t hear or know what Amy is thinking. You can only interrupt her body language and listen to her dialogue. Head-hopping occurs when we leave Mary’s head and jump into Amy’s thoughts without there being any break in the physical story layout on the page. It’s the most jarring and unsettling event for a reader.


Assumption is your friend. It’s actually your enemy in real life, but in fiction, your characters will have to assume a lot. Why? Because they don’t know what their fellow characters are thinking. A subtle shift of POV can come when the author makes a statement about a character whose head we are not in that scene. These statements can be as simple as “the light was too bright for her eyes”. No, no, no. It’s so tempting to make these comments and most readers might not pick up on it, but once you’re shown the problem, you tend to notice it glaring all the brighter. If the light was “too bright for her eyes” that means she is thinking that it is too bright. If we aren’t in her head, we cannot know her thoughts. However, what we can do is see her reaction. What would the character do if the sun was too bright? She’d squint. And that is definitely something your POV character can notice and mention in passing to the reader.  These little comments are the ones most likely to slip past us. The ones most likely to squirm their way into the story and start to take over.


The key to spotting problem POV areas is to think in terms of, “is this a thought or an action that my character might do?” If it’s not the POV character and it’s something you would stand on the street corner and think, it can’t be in your book—unless of course your POV character is a mind reader. Which, I don’t know…maybe he/she is. 😉 So flip the thought on its head and do an action/reaction: what is the action that your non-POV character is thinking about and what would their reaction be to that thought? Like squinting in the bright sun.


Action is always more powerful than thought. It’s an extension—sometimes involuntary action of their thought. Like a knee-jerk reaction, it can’t be stopped or helped. And how your POV character interprets this becomes a fascinating and fun dance for the reader as the characters clumsily tango across the page.

POV only has to be as difficult as you want to make it. Once the key points are exposed to the light of an editor’s eye, it becomes easier to find those problem areas and edit them clean—usually with minimal work at best.



What are your biggest POV struggles?




Thanks again, Casey, for allowing me to share your words of wisdom!



Casey Herringshaw – Casey is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is an Eastern Oregon native transplanted into a metropolis of Denver, employed as an administrative assistant at Wordserve Literary and FaithHappenings.com.Taking the words and stories God has placed on her heart and putting them on paper is one of her highest passions in life. Casey is a member of ACFW and their Carol Awards Coordinator. You can connect with her through her personal blog, Writing for Christ.

Follow her on Twitter: @C_Herringshaw
And on Facebook: Facebook.com/caseyherringshaw


Writing Credentials:

2013 ACFW Genesis Semi-Finalist
2012 ACFW Genesis Semi-Finalist

2011 My Book Therapy Frasier Finalist



* borrowed because I’m getting ready for my big trip! (see First Friday Feature, 3 June) And because, well, networking and that’s how that works!




Editing Tips: Under The POV Microscope, Casey Herringshaw, The Writers Alley, Stories by Design, Friday Feature, Head Hopping

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Author Interview – JULIA REFFNER


Julia is blessed to be a servant to the King, married to the love of her life, a busy home school mom of two young children, and owned by three beautiful ragdoll cats.





rem:  Welcome to my blog, Julia. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

JULIA:  Thanks for the invite to your corner of the web, Robin. I guess you could call me a transplanted Yankee. I lived in upstate New York for most of my life. I get asked most every day which burough am I from to which I have to answer, no, I’m from the “other New York.” Due to health, jobs, and taxation my family and I moved to a suburb of Richmond, Virginia nearly two years ago. Now I’m addicted to iced tea (I still order unsweetened, blame my Northern roots) and Chick-Fil-A sauce.

rem:  Hey! Nothing wrong with unsweetened tea! Tell us three things about yourself.

JULIA:  1) I’ve homeschooled my children for the past six years. It’s been one of the hardest and best things for our family. 2) I like to fancy myself a foodie, although my family’s style of eating in this season bears more resemblance to Rachael Ray’s 30 MINUTE MEALS. 3) I worked through graduate school by decorating cakes and have a strong aversion to making my kids birthday cakes as a result.

rem:  You’re my first interviewee to share the art of cake decorating! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

JULIA: Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Fudge Core though I’m too cheap to splurge on it unless there’s a coupon and sale match-up. I must admit I LOVE almost all types of cookies, especially warm from the oven, but my favorite ever are my Grandmother’s Butter cookies. They have been made every Christmas for 4 generations in my family and it isn’t Christmas unless someone gets a talking-to for putting too many sprinkles on said cookies.

rem:  ohhh…. Butter cookies!!!  MMMMM If you could have any super power what would it be?

JULIA:  Can I be like Mary Poppins and pick up all my clutter with the snap of a finger? With young kids that would be the best super power ever 🙂

rem:  I hear that! What is your most treasured possession?

JULIA:  A painting of my father as a child, since he died of liver cancer when I was twenty-four. I’m also reminded of the resemblance to my son which comforts me.

rem:  So sorry about your dad. What a precious gift your son resembles him, though. What is your favourite quotation and why?

JULIA:  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) In spite of all my failures and stumblings it is comforting to know that God isn’t finished with me yet.

rem:  Scripture is always a good quote! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

JULIA:  One of my biggest pet peeves is a cardboard antagonist. THE KITCHEN HOUSE was a great example of a well-drawn out antagonist. I alternated between despising the character and finding myself surprised by the lump in my throat when he went through a challenge. By the closure of the book my baser instinct longed to shove the antagonist against a wall. Well done, Kathleen Grissom!

rem:  Yeah, if the characters aren’t real enough, why read the story? Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

JULIA:  Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I love the complexity of his character, his believable motives, and his spiritual story arc. Masterpiece! I thought both Liam Neeson and Hugh Jackman did an extraordinary job of capturing his journey on film.

rem:  Talk about a believable character, eh! Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

JULIA:  Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, L.M. Montgomery, Raymond Carver, C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor…can you tell I’m a fan of classics?

rem:  That’s a great list! Which is more important: plot or characters?

JULIA:  Characters, I meet my characters before I even know what happened to them and I love books with quirky characters such as Anne Tyler and Kathryn Stockett.

rem:  How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?

JULIA:  I’ve been an Alleycat since 2010. The founding cats were looking to expand the blog by adding five new faces several years into their own journey. Casey Herringshaw and I connected on our personal blogs and she was my introduction to the wonderful Alleycats.

rem:  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

JULIA:  I’ve been writing in fits and starts since 2010. With a toddler and kindergartner and home I found myself restless. Now that my littles were getting older, I began to miss the intellectual stimulation I once received from my 9-to-5 job. On a whim, I started a blog which became a site for devotionals and book reviews. Then I discovered novel writing, my first book was women’s fiction and covered in plot holes and every writing blunder you can concoct. I found a wonderful local critique group that met at a local Barnes & Noble where I was chided for my liberal peppering of -ly words and sparseness of sensory detail. But those people were also able to show me how to begin to fix some of those fictional faux-pas. In 2012, I met the fiction editor of LIBRARY JOURNAL at the ACFW conference and began reviewing in various genres for the publication. As a former assistant librarian, I really enjoy the opportunity to explore the trends in literature through researching for articles as well. Since moving to an area rich in military and cultural history (Richmond, Virginia) in 2014 my interest in historical fiction has been rekindled.

rem:  Love your description of your first novel, “covered in plot holes and every writing blunder you can concoct.” So true for all of us, though, don’t you think? What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

JULIA: Do coffee and injunctions to not yell to me unless you’re bleeding count as a routine? I love writing in a coffeehouse but it doesn’t happen too often. In order to make writing happen in this season, the key for me is to be content with small pockets of time. Also, I’m a “procrastichecker” so I need to turn off my Internet.

rem:  “Procrastichecker!” I love it! And so true! What makes you struggle as a writer? How do you handle it?

JULIA:  My biggest struggle in the journey is probably fear. It’s the internal editor that I struggle with shutting off when I am writing rough drafts. You know the voice that tells you, “this stinks, don’t bother.” For me it can help to look at older writing and I see I have grown, though I still have so much to learn. I also rely on my husband to kick my rear back into gear and tell me to keep at it. He’s been my best supporter.

rem:  Talk about a never ending story, er, I mean, journey! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

JULIA:  Writing as therapy. Getting the words out is so healing for my emotions, heart and soul. Also, meeting great writer friends like the Alleycats!

rem:  Amen to both! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

JULIA:  1) Turn off that editor for your rough draft, but 2) humble yourself and recognize just how much you have to learn and be willing to seek out those who will give you constructive criticism and support along the way, 3) read your work out loud. Things I learned the hard way: 1) Don’t worry about trends or what’s selling before publication, just write, and write, and write, 2) I’m going to cite the old cliché about not comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or ending.. 3) Don’t forget your purpose. The writing journey can be discouraging, keeping your eye on why you started (to glorify God) and remember who your true audience is!

rem:  Goodness! That’s some good stuff there! Besides being a contributor at Writers Alley, you write for trade publication Library Journal, and website Wonderfully Woven. Tell us a bit about that.

JULIA:  I met one of LIBRARY JOURNAL’s editors at ACFW in 2012 and started writing reviews and then articles for them. In my former life I was a librarian so I love cataloguing trends and new ideas in the publishing world. I connected with Wonderfully Woven several years ago through an Alleycat and I enjoy the outlet for devotional writing.

rem:  Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

JULIA: The newspaper and the cemetery. I am always reading stories and wondering about what went on beyond the scope of the article. Many of my character ideas have started with “what ifs”. I also love wandering cemeteries with a notebook and find great character names and minor details there!

rem:  Oooohh, intriguing source! Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

JULIA:  Maybe this is typical but my favorite tends to be whatever I’m working on at the time.

rem:  Ii can see that, it’s where you’re / we’re most vested in the moment. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

JULIA:  My current book is a historical exploring the meaning of freedom in all its facets. It centers around the harshest slave jail in the deep South, an unlikely romance, a Quaker quiltmaker with a disturbing secret, and an African American freed man who starts a seminary that ignites revival across the state. I’m in the early stages but loving this story so far.

rem:  WOWIE!! Your plot sounds as criss-crossed as mine get! What is one take-away from your writing that you hope readers identify with?

JULIA:  I hope that God can use my writing whether devotional, fiction, or even articles to glorify Him.

rem:  Yes and Amen to that! Julia, thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!



Find Julia on:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/juliareffner/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/juliareffner/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/juliareffner/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/juliareffner/


http://www.lj.libraryjournal.com/ (articles)

http://www.wonderfullywoven.com/ (devotion)

and of course: http://www.thewritersalleyblog.com/



Julia Reffner, The Writers Alley, Author Interview, Interview Blitz, Chat Thursday, Library Journal, Wonderfully Woven


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In a Christian writers’ group online, a new author recently asked the question, “How do I handle matters of faith in a way that reads true for the reader?”


That question gave me a bit of pause. I currently have 18 fictional works published. All of them tackle some major faith component: either anger at God, mistrust of God, disbelief in God, a lack of faith in oneself, struggling with forgiveness, struggling with God’s intended plans, etc. Even though my books tend to deal with such heavy topics, I often get reviews from readers who praise me for having realistic characters who are working through a realistic life with a faith that rings true.


slide 2


Since I’m writing fictional characters in a fictional world, what makes my characters so realistic? What makes their faith feel real?


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To me, as a Christian romantic suspense author, it’s the same way that the romance needs to feel real, and the suspense needs to feel real. I think so often that Christian authors find that they must go through a checklist of elements to add to their story to make sure the reader understands that they’re reading a Christian novel. Long ago, I read a romantic suspense book by a popular Christian author. About four chapters into this book, the main character picked up a Bible. This was honestly the first moment that any kind of faith was tackled by this character, and it felt forced, unnatural. I quit reading it.


1 Thessalonians 5:16- says this: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


slide 4


If the will of God in our life is to pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, and to rejoice always, then it stands to reason that sometime before chapter 4, I’m going to understand that the main character of a novel is a Christian with a deeply held belief. The faith is going to flow naturally and times of prayer or discussions of God or picking up a Bible are simply going to be something that character does as easily as they are something that *I* do.


Let’s just look at a romance angle for a moment. You’re writing a novel, and you have a male protagonist and a female protagonist. At some point early in the book they meet. Eventually, they might kiss. At the end, it’s expected that they live happily ever after.


slide 5


But if we have no interaction with these characters, if they just move through the book next to each other but we don’t feel their feelings growing for one another, that moment of a kiss, hug, or embrace is going to feel extremely weird, out of place, and forced. By the time we get to the end of the book, we aren’t going to believe there’s any chance for a happily ever after, because we haven’t been taken on a single step of their journey.


Faith is much the same. Faith is our love story with God. When we are giving our characters a love for God, then He is part of their life in every aspect. If we’re moving through the story and these characters are part of a plot and out of blue, in the fourth chapter, they pick up a Bible, then it won’t ring true because we haven’t felt any of the beautiful relationship that comes with that relationship. If an author is just checking boxes, it will pull the reader out of the story when the protagonist suddenly prays expecting an answer.


slide 6


In my life, Christ is the center. I abide in Him. I think about Him, talk about Him and to Him, feel Him. Those aspects of my faith pour into my characters, so that they tend to do the same thing. However, I don’t go into a book intending to “preach the Gospel” or “give a sermon” – I go into a book with the intent of taking my readers on a journey with my characters, as they fall in love with each other, fall in love (or more in love or reacquaint their love) with God, and, on the side, save the world from nuclear annihilation (I am, after all, a suspense writer).


slide 7


Because I let my characters drive the stories, and because I stay true to my characters throughout the story, even when I actually have a sermon in the middle of a book, I get reviews praising me for not being “preachy”. There is nothing forced about the faith of my characters any more than there is something forced about the love of my characters.


My answer to this author who asked the question about tackling matters of faith was this: Stay true to your characters, and if your characters have faith, it will come naturally.






slide 9With over half a million books sold, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her.


You can find Hallee online:

Her website








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Hallee Bridgeman, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Faith in Fiction, Author Checklist, Realism in Fiction, Love Story with God

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BLOGWORDS –  Friday 10 June 2016 – AFTER THE DRAFT

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Hullo, All, and welcome! Two weeks ago I talked about editing-as-you-go. Here, borrowed from writer pal, the lovely Rebecca Waters, was originally posted on her site, http://rebeccaawaters.blogspot.com/2016/06/after-draft.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ANovelCreation+%28A+Novel+Creation%29 is explanation what editing is. A huge thanks to Rebecca for letting me share her words!


After the Draft


Editing. I called this piece After the Draft, but actually editing is an ongoing part of the craft of writing. There is rarely –likely never –a “one and done” writing project.


There are levels of editing as well as many types of editors. It behooves the novelist to become his or her own first editor. Why? Because hiring an editor can be costly and without a careful combing through the manuscript, a publisher will not be able to look past the awkwardness or errors to see the magic of the story you’ve weaved.


The purpose of this post is to examine the types or levels of editing and to point authors in the direction to complete as much of the editing as possible before releasing the manuscript to a professional editor or potential publisher.




This is considered the lowest level of editing. Don’t let that fool you. Without it your manuscript will die and untimely death in the “circular file.” Copyediting or proofreading is the type of editing that looks mostly at mechanics: punctuation, spelling, basic syntax such a noun verb agreement and so forth.


Remember the dreaded red pen your high school English teacher used to mark up your grammar usage and deleted that extra comma here and there? Learn to embrace it. In fact, buy your own red pen.




What You Can Do

Read through your manuscript. Not once. Not Twice. Read through your manuscript a minimum of three times. One of those times should be out loud. When you read out loud word for word, you will find missing words, awkward sentence structures, punctuation that needs repair. I know some writers who actually read paragraphs backwards to make sure everything is spelled correctly. You see, our minds play tricks on us. We know what we wanted to write, what we meant to say, and we tend to read what we intended instead of what is actually on the paper.


Secure a Beta Reader. A beta reader is not a professional editor. It is a person you trust to read through your manuscript and give you feedback. The beta reader  (or an alpha reader) will likely catch spelling, punctuation, missing words, and even sentences that don’t make sense. A good beta reader will offer you a critique of your work that will help you polish it. A beta reader may be a friend, a fellow writer, an avid reader (Though my experience with avid readers is that they often get caught up in the story and forget their job!) or maybe your former high school English teacher!


Educate Yourself!  Yep, study. Break open a book on grammar and punctuation. Take a class. Make it a topic of your next writers group. You will be surprised at what you can learn on your own and from fellow authors. And by the way, don’t be surprised if you sit in a room of English teachers and can’t find three who agree on the use of the comma.


Line Editing/Content Editing


Line editing or content editing is more advanced. Though some sentence structure issues may arise in the proofreading stage, the clarity and flow of the manuscript overall is addressed through good content editing. You can hire someone to assist you with content editing. A good editor will not only help you make changes, but will teach you how to assure you are consistent with your point of view, plotline, and characters. A good content editor will give you tips on how to tighten what you’ve written and to keep the pace of the story moving along.


What You Can Do

First, read good books. Reading helps you recognize good story lines and great flow of the manuscript. It helps you think about technique and story structure. You will gain a feel for sentence structures that work. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your own writing.


You can also join a writing group/critique group. Working with other authors will help you hone your own manuscript and because you are working with writers, they will help you bring your editing skills to a higher level.


I also recommend you put your completed manuscript away for a few weeks. Distance yourself from your story. You will find when you read through it again, you will see it with fresh eyes.


When to Hire an Editor

Though the suggestions I offer here will serve you well, you may need a professional editor for more substantial changes or fixes. You or your publishing house should hire a reliable editor to work with you. If you are planning to publish independently, hire a professional editor. If you find yourself meeting with rejection after rejection from potential publishers, hire a professional editor. If you feel unsure of yourself or it is your first attempt at writing a novel, hire a professional editor. Do everything you can to get your manuscript into the best shape possible then hire a professional editor. Yes, it is an investment but one that will bring you success.




There are many good editors out there. I recommend A Little Red Ink. Click HERE to read more about their services. Run by two sisters, they are fast, affordable, and do an excellent job. For large manuscripts they even offer a few pages free so you can see if you and they are a good fit.


I write this post for all of you writers out there. And for me. You see, I need to be reminded of the power of good editing.


Comments? What have you learned about your writing or yourself as you edit your work?



Thanks again, Becky, for allowing me to share your words of wisdom!




Breathing on Her Own

Molly Tipton and her husband have finally arrived. Their daughters are grown. Two beautiful grandchildren delight their hearts and retirement is within sight. Until Molly’s older daughter, Laney, is in a terrible accident, leaving her seriously injured and her best friend dead. Worse yet, is the realization that Laney was driving under the influence of alcohol. If she can ever walk again, there’s still the risk of jail time.


Losing control of a car is one thing, but when had Laney lost control of her life? How could God let this happen? Gripped with fear, shame, and doubt, Molly questions her own beliefs. Can her relationship with her daughter be restored? How about her faith in the God who allowed all this to happen?


Breathing on Her Own is available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions:




Rebecca Waters has published several freelance articles including two stories in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Standard Publishing’s Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Breathing on Her Own is Rebecca’s first novel. As a published author, she shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. To learn more about Rebecca or to read A Novel Creation, visit her website at www.WatersWords.com








After the Draft, Ongoing Editing, A Novel Creation, Rebecca Waters, Breathing on Her Own, Stories by Design, Friday Feature, Copyediting, Proofreading, Line Editing, Content Editing, Red Pen



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Author Interview – LAURIE TOMLINSON




Likes: Husband’s dimples, daughter’s laugh, alliteration, foxes, Madea movies, Longhorns football and Rangers baseball, making lists, and trying new recipes – especially if I don’t have to do the dishes!




Dislikes: Entitlement, snobbery, cap sleeves, the word “moist”, Claymation, and clowns. They all give me the eebie jeebies!


rem:  Welcome to my blog, Laurie. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

LAURIE:  I am one of those obnoxious Texans who still claim the Lone Star State even though I’ve lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for something like 90% of my life.

rem:  I’m the same way with Colorado; wasn’t born there and I moved away 28 years ago, but 16 years afforded me the claim to Colorado as my “other” home. (I live in SC now.) Tell us three things about yourself.

LAURIE:  1) I write contemporary romance with protagonists in their 20s and 30s. 2) I believe that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 3) I could watch handlettering videos on Instagram all. day. long.

rem:  I am a list-o-phile—lists everywhere! Mini lists and master lists and lists OF lists… What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

LAURIE:  Vanilla ice cream topped with Heath bar (for the moment) and a chocolate chip pudding cookie J

rem:  MUST.TRY.THESE.COOKIES! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

LAURIE:  Unsweetened tea for me! I love a nice tangy berry tea, chai, or a black tea scented with a touch of vanilla.

rem:  I also drink my tea unsweetened but don’t do flavors. I do, however, drink cinnamon hazelnut coffee (also unsweetened.) Vacation: beach or mountains?

LAURIE:  Yes, please. I pick mountains any day, preferably with a river or stream nearby.

rem:  I agree 100%! What do you do as a hobby?

LAURIE:  Cooking, especially when people I love are involved.

rem:  Me too! Gee, we have a lot in common! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

LAURIE: Give me a broken and realistic character with compelling redemption, and I’m sold! My pet peeve in fiction is a character falling in love despite the knowledge that the other person is taken–even if he or she is truly single.

rem:  Yeah, hard to get into characters who have no substance—or faults. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

LAURIE:  For fiction, I always go back to the Harry Potter series. Nonfiction: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning and A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken are regulars in my rotation.

rem:  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

LAURIE:  Robin! This is SUCH an unfair question! In my genre, it would definitely have to be Carla Laureano’s James MacDonald from Five Days in Skye or Becky Wade’s Bo Porter in Undeniably Yours.

rem:  I know! So many to choose from! What would you do if you weren’t writing?

LAURIE:  Let me preface this by saying two things: 1) I wouldn’t redo one second of my life or college career and 2) I can guarantee no one else will have this answer. If I weren’t writing and had unlimited time and money (and patience and youth) to go back to school, I would love to pursue an MD Ph.D. and do research in cell/molecular biology. Yes, I am the rare writer who is also a math and science geek!

rem:  I love science! And although I am not a math person, I don’t hate it either. I hope you get to pursue that degree someday! How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?

LAURIE:  About two years ago, I got a phone call from Pepper asking me to pray about whether I’d like to be an Alleycat. It had been on my writing bucket list since I discovered the website, so I was so thrilled. I loved the community from the outside and love it even more on the inside ❤

rem:  As an Alley Pal, I love all you gals “from the outside.” Tell us a little about your writing journey.

LAURIE:  I have been filling notebooks with fiction since I was a child but only really believed in my dream and decided to go after it in 2013. It’s been a rollercoaster experience for sure, as anyone pursuing publication can attest—but this year has been fantastic because it’s taught me that God is constant. When I’m working for Him, no rejection or setback or difficult storyline can take away the joy and love of writing.

rem:  Right there with ya! My current WIP is hear wrenching and therefore difficult to write, but only because of subject matter not because the story’s not there. (does that make sense) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

LAURIE: My absolute favorite place to write was a coffee shop by my house that actually resembled a cave! But then they remodeled in favor of a clean, hipster vibe, and it totally took that coziness away. I’m still mourning. I usually write late at night in my office or on the living room couch, fueled by excessive amounts of Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper, and to an eclectic soundtrack solely dictated by my muse J

rem:  How dare they steal away your cave like that! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

LAURIE:  My first two books were written out of order with no plotting ahead of time, so they were a hot mess to edit! Fortunately I have learned the error of my ways and developed a better organizational system to keep that from happening again. But I would also say the temptation to compare myself to others is always a struggle. Did this author do this theme/element/trope so much better than I ever could? I try hard to snuff out comparisons and what-ifs before they can gain any momentum because they aren’t productive or rooted in truth.

rem:  Ya, comparisons can be deadly! (hmmm, methinks there might be a plot lurking in that thar statement…) What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

LAURIE:  I love the community the most for sure! It was very liberating to attend my first conference and realize where my people had been hiding all this time.

rem:  Me too! This community of writers is a whole new world, isn’t it! As an editor, do you edit your own work?

LAURIE: Yes, but then I hand it off to trusted critique partners and beta readers. Even the most skilled and experienced editors need fresh eyes for their own work, in my opinion. If I ever self-publish anything, it will be edited by a paid professional for sure.

rem:  The more eyes the better! Tell us about your editing process and service?

LAURIE: When I edit my own work, I do an initial read-through and make notes for any substantial changes that need to be made, correcting smaller things as I go. I will rewrite chapters, fix story issues, etc. and then do more of a line edit where I reword things, make sure I have strong chapter endings/beginnings, my dialogue is paced well and realistic, and things like that. Before I press send, I always run spelling and grammar check to see if it catches any pesky typos I missed. For others’ work, it depends on what kind of edit they are looking for. My favorite focuses on spelling, grammar, and consistency/flow. Anything that jars the reader from the story has to go! I also love editing promo copy like proposals, synopses, and short summaries—as long as they aren’t for my own books! J

rem:  I’m a perpetual editor (I know, I know) and caught the “then-then” typo recently! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

LAURIE:  I would tell a new writer to find a solid community, read like crazy (in her genre and out of it), and write allll the words! Fear is a writer’s worst enemy, and it manifests itself in different ways, so don’t procrastinate or give in to the mind games! I would tell her not to get too caught up in reading craft books and blogs—not to wait until everything is “right” before she starts writing. I would tell her to not approach industry professionals (and especially not to publish on Amazon) until her work has received multiple rounds of trusted feedback and is gleaming.

rem:  Soooo much of which I didn’t know the first time around… Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

LAURIE:  People and that place between brokenness and healing where God is most tangible on this earth.

rem:  As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?

LAURIE: Sometimes when I’m doing a reread or am deep into edits, I talk like them for a bit after I’ve been working. Kind of inconvenient when I’m writing a snarkier character.

rem:  No, really? hee hee Because I’m an actress I’ll start reading in accent. Lots of fun when there are characters with two distinct dialects! (welcome to my brain!) Tell us a little about your current book? What is your current project?

LAURIE:  I just turned in my third book to my agent, so I’m between full-length projects right now. And I haven’t talked about this much yet, but I’m working on my first novella, still in the plotting stages! So far I know that it’s about a guy and girl who grew up playing neighborhood baseball together in the summers and reunite at a college alumni softball game. All of this is subject to change, of course J

rem:  Of course! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

LAURIE:  That no matter what their circumstances look like, not only are they never too far gone or too undeserving of redemption, but God is always good and was with them all along.

rem:  And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? He’s always with us. You’re a virtual assistant, too. How did that come about?

LAURIE:  I was a full-time book publicist for seven years before kids and enjoy working as a busy bee behind the scenes. It incorporates a lot of my skills and training, so I added it to the umbrella of my business last year. I love helping people reach their goals and do what they do best by taking some of the more menial tasks off their plate. Plus, it’s flexible enough for life with littles!

rem:  Key word—flexible! Critical for writers and moms (and grammas!) Anything else you’d like to add?

LAURIE:  Thank you so much for having me and the rest of the AlleyCats! J

rem:  Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!


“Lover of all things intentional living, planner nerd, avid reader and writer, foodie, colored pen hoarder, SisterChuck, reformed know-it-all, singer, half marathoner, and sinner saved by a grace I’ll never fully comprehend. You can find me in a ponytail 99% of the time.”


Facebook – AuthorLaurieTomlinson

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Laurie Tomlinson, The Writers Alley, Author Interview, Chat Thursday, Editing, Critiques, Copy Edits, Virtual Assistant


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