Posts Tagged ‘Guest Post and Giveaway’




Planner vs. Pantser

Mapping out Road trips is a lot like Writing.

I consider myself a rebellious planner, one who plans but is ready to get off course at any moment. I take on writing a new book the same way I take on a road trip. Sure, a trip should have a designated destination from the get-go. That way the traveler won’t end up going the wrong direction, potentially getting lost and losing track of the entire reason for the trip in the first place. Same with a book. The reason/theme for the story needs to be determined before typing the first word. That way I know the direction to head toward.

But… Here’s the exciting part of a road trip as well as writing a book for me. The stops along the way can be more loosely plotted out with lots of wiggle room for spontaneity. I am a foodie and find it fun to research unique places to eat on road trips. No chain restaurants are permitted for my crowd. I think this is a good approach to apply to stories as well. Researching and coming up with unique angles to try out in a story will keep it fresh and interesting. I always have a few options saved in my notes, so I can easily change it up for whatever mood I am in. Again, the same with my stories. Loosely plotting so I’m not so dead-set on a certain chapter subject that I refuse to make adjustments that will improve the story and overall experience of the book for me as well as the reader.

Road trips should be fun and exciting. They shouldn’t be daunting and feel like work. I think strict schedules and plans can stifle the experience. Same with writing. I tell folks that writing is my passion, my hobby. I never want to ruin the fun and creativity of it with planning too strictly. Flexibility is key. Say for example: along the course of a trip, a road may suddenly become blocked due to an accident or for whatever reason. You have to be openminded before leaving your driveway that detours may end up being part of your trip. It can make for miserable traveling when you have an unwilling travel companion who gripes and complains when you have to take a different path than planned. Seriously, there is no fun in that and I’d want to leave them on the side of the road at some point along the way. I can’t help but visualize a reader wanting to do the same thing to a book when it’s clear the author didn’t take a chance in altering the direction of the story or trying out a unique angle simply because it wasn’t in their carefully plotted-out plan for the story.


Road Trip/Writing Tips:


Acknowledge Your Adventure’s Pilot

Seriously, road tripping and writing should be all about the free-spirited experience but with the right guidance. Before pulling out on the road for a trip, my family has prayer, asking God for his guidance and safe traveling mercies. I start each story in the same manner. I don’t want to do either without him or I would surely get off track and make a mess of things.


The Importance of Playlists

Another must for road trips and writing is playlists that help set the mood for the adventure. Gotta have some epic tunes to enjoy along the way. Music is all about experiencing the lyrics and melody. Music is my muse.


Enjoy the Journey

Often times, we can be in such a rush to get to the finish line of a project, a road trip, a novel, etc. that we forget to slow down and just enjoy the experience of it. A while back I found myself in a season of waiting in my writing career, so I took it as an opportunity to slowly write a new book. I savored each chapter without rushing, knowing there was no deadline, no expectation other than to simply enjoy the creative process. I have to admit, it was the most enjoyable book I have ever written. Side note: the novel is complete and just hanging out on my computer with no set plans on publishing. As much as I love sharing my new stories with readers, this has been such a freeing revelation not to have to do anything right away with it. When it’s time to share it, I will, but in the meantime I’m not fretting about it.

If we aren’t careful, life in general can become a burden instead of a blessing. Writing is a gift I have the privilege to do. I never want this to be a burden. My advice: plan loosely and look forward to spontaneity along the way.




Bestselling author T.I. Lowe sees herself as an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories. She knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother and active in her church community, she resides in coastal South Carolina with her family. For a complete list of Lowe’s published books, biography, upcoming events, and other information, visit tilowe.com and be sure to check out her blog, COFFEE CUP, while you’re there!










T.I. is offering a signed Lulu’s Cafe paperback giveaway. Must be in the U.S.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 16 September and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 23 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.




#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, T.I. Lowe, #GIVEAWAY

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Figurative Language—Words That Paint A Picture in Your Head


Can words literally paint a picture inside your head? Nope. But we use this sort of imagery quite often in both everyday conversation and in our writing. Let’s pause for a minute and think about our daily use of figurative language. And, just so you know, by “a” minute, I don’t literally mean that you should set a timer for “one” minute. It’s all figurative. But you already know that.


Figurative language is defined as a language that uses words or expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation. Literal language states the facts as they are. “Just the facts, ma’am,” a phrase often associated with Detective Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet. Figurative language can transform a dull paragraph into an evocative narrative that helps readers to understand and visualize settings and characters, transforming ordinary writing into full-fledged literature. Some types of figurative language and some of my favorite examples are:


  • Metaphor—a comparison between things which are not alike.

The world is my oyster. You are my sunshine. Metaphors be with you.

  • Simile—similar to a metaphor but uses the words “like” or “as.”

Clean as a whistle. Funny as a barrel of monkeys. He stood out like a sore thumb.

  • Personification—ascribing human qualities to a non-human thing.

The sun spit in my eyes this morning. When opportunity knocks, you should answer.

  • Hyperbole—exaggerating in a humorous way to make a point.

She could start an argument in an empty house. Your snoring is calling the geese.

  • Symbolism—a noun with meaning in itself used to represent something different.

The word “Wuthering” means stormy. Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” describes the nature of the characters.


You have probably studied various constructions and combinations of literary devices in English classes before, but here’s a refresher:


  • Onomatopoeia—name something by imitating the sound it makes.

The burning wood hissed and crackled.

  • Alliteration—repetition of the first consonant sounds in several words.

Betty bought the butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.

  • Idiom—an expression used by a particular group of people.

He’s as mad as a mule chewing bumblebees.

  • Synecdoche—a figure of speech using words that are a part, to represent a whole.

Bring home the bacon. Boots on the ground.

  • Cliché—a phrase that is often repeated and has become meaningless.

Cat got your tongue?

  • Assonance-repeating a vowel sound in a phrase.

“And stepping softly with her air of blooded ruin about the glade in a frail agony of grace, she trailed her rags through dust and ashes…” ~Cormac McCarthy’s book, Outer Dark

The words, “glade, frail, grace, and trailed” set the mood.

  • Metonymy—a figure of speech where one thing is replaced with a word that is closely associated with it. Crown in place of a royal person. Dish instead of a plate of food.


The subtleties of the English language seem to be inherent to native speakers, but a source of frustration for others who try to find logic or make sense of certain words and phrases. While writers cannot remove those challenges entirely, we can be mindful of our reliance on figurative language. The bottom line, sorry I couldn’t resist, is that figurative language should be used with more care and nuance than it is. Think of a dense, rich chocolate cake. The first few bites are wonderful, but the more you eat, sugar overload sets in and you start to feel a bit sick. Is it easier to proclaim, “You are dead to me!” or have your character say, “I hate you?” If you decide to use literary devices, choose your words carefully. Decide which emotions you want the reader to respond to. Anger? Fear? Love? In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s character Gatsby speaks of the object of his obsession, Daisy, “The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain.” The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson evokes a beautiful metaphor in this excerpt from In Memoriam, “Her eyes are homes of silent prayer.”


When you are “literally” writing your next book, consider bringing vibrance and imagery to your work with the use of figurative language. Be mindful that overuse can be overpowering. Try incorporating the perfect combination of figurative words and phrases to enrich your characters, settings, and storyline. Here’s hoping your next book will be so popular that copies fly off the shelves.



Author of over 28 traditional and indie-published books, Linda Kozar, (www.lindakozar.com) is also a speaker, and podcaster (Along Came A Writer, Chat Noir Mystery and Suspense). Linda and her husband of 29 years, Michael, live in The Woodlands, Texas and enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters, their wonderful son-in-law, and Gypsy, their rascally Jack Russell Terrier.










Calliope Ducharme is as breathtaking as the beautiful women in the portraits she paints. The young woman moves back to post WWII New Orleans shortly before her 21stbirthday to claim her inheritance and pursue studies in Paris. But her aunt dies suddenly, and her remaining guardian, Uncle Bernard delays the proceedings. Frustrated, she hires childhood acquaintance Louis Russo, now a handsome, ambitious attorney to represent her. Together they fight to win her estate and, in the process, unmask dreadful secrets about her uncle, who is poised to ascend to the throne as King of Carnival. Though she resists falling in love with Louis, Calliope’s heart begins to soften. Fragmented memories awaken in Calliope when she moves back into her childhood home, memories that flood her canvases, but she cannot make sense of. And her faith, long-buried with the loss of her beloved parents, springs to life again. But time is running out for Calliope as sinister forces conspire to destroy her reputation and her very life. Will she lose the man she dares to love?

Linda is offering a print copy of Calliope’s Kiss. (U.S. address only)

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 9 September and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 16 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Linda Kozar, #GIVEAWAY

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You want me to talk about Street Teams?




Because, my team is just super duper and I don’t know what I’d do without them sharing this writing journey with me.


I’ve had people ask me what works, but to be honest, I think the dynamics of each street team is different based on the members and the author. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all.

I’m a naturally engaged person. I LOVE chatting with my team and sharing information with them. That may sound exhausting for other people, but it’s just how I roll.

So, here are some questions I’ve had asked about street teams and I’ll give MY answers, but remember, those are just one perspective on a varying spectrum of possibilities for a team.


Why a street team?

Street teams, sometimes called influencer teams, are groups of people who help support you and your stories They can be set up as a team for each book OR as a team for you, as the author. Mine is set up more long-term than over each book, though they have to sign up within the team for each book release.


First of all my street team provides a great deal of encouragement to me. That might be the most IMPORTANT personal bonus of a street team – or it is for me, anyway. They are such great people. So kind and fun! And when I share sneek peaks or cover or ask their opinions, they are all so willing to share and celebrate. This writing journey can feel solo lots of the time AND it comes with natural insecurity, so having a team can be a real boost to the heart.


Secondly, and the main reason they were created, is for ‘influence’. Street teams help spread the word about your books. They share on social media, write early reviews, some create fun graphics to share, others offer opportunities to be a part of their blogs. It’s just a great networking opportunity…and did I mention I LOVE MY STREET TEAM!!!


How do I start one?

My street team came about fairly organically, if I remember. I’d been writing and involved in ACFW for a while before my first book debuted, so I had some nice relationships throughout the industry, but when my first book came out, I started paying attention to the bloggers who seemed to like it. Dawn Crandall, Julie Lessman, and Laura Frantz, who all read my first book, quickly spread the word about it. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.


I started a private group on Facebook, and eventually approached bloggers and reviewers who seemed to like my writing style and asked them if they’d like to be on my team. Dawn announced on her team that I was looking, so that brought some too. I had NO script for how it all worked, I just wanted to have some fun sharing stories with people who liked stories…and that began my group. It started with about five people (Carrie Schmidt being one of those early guinea pigs…poor thing. And she still stuck around 😉 We kept things conversational and positive. That’s been my desire ever since.


Since my team has gotten so large, I do have a bit of a vetting process now, but I’m always looking for positive, book savvy people to include on the team.


What do I share?

Lots of things.

I share sneak peeks from my WIPs, graphics (and get their opinions), early book cover ideas, character pic inspiration, setting stuff…oh just lots. I usually ask their opinions on things too.

I love finding out what they’re reading – and sometimes we’ll chat about fictional crushes.

I also share life stuff and ask them life stuff too. Fun memes are always welcome 😉


What makes it work well?

If I had to list three things that seem to work for my team it’s:

  1. Engagement – Since they’re so willing to invest their time/energy into me and my books, I want to invest some of my time into them. Now, there has to be a balance with this, because there are 70-ish of them and only 1 of me, but it’s important to me that they know I’m grateful for them and their involvement in my writing journey. Time shows that, since I usually don’t have as much fun free stuff to send their way (or the $$ to do it). Time, consistency, and gratitude goes a long way, IMO.
  2. Positivity – It’s very important to me to keep the team positive and hopeful. That’s another reason why I make sure the people I invite match that ideal. It creates a much more enjoyable environment when people respect one another, bring joy, and spill that joy out on others around them.
  3. Secrets – I LOVE sharing behind-the-scenes stuff about writing, life, etc, that I don’t regularly share on social media. I can’t tell you more because…well…it’s a secret 😉


There you have it!

Bottom line!

I am SO GRATEFUL for my street team and just love them!

Authors really do appreciate readers! Your words and support matter so much to us!

Thank you for all you do to join us in our journeys and encourage us along the way!!



P.S. Though I’m not accepting new members into my street team at this time, I DO have a Reader’s group on FB called Blame it On A Basham Book Reader’s Group. If you’re interested in learning more about me and my books, this is a great way…and there are some super people involved in this group.




As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family.











Pepper is offering a print copy of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge (U.S. address only) OR an e-copy of winner’s choice of Pepper’s books.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 26 August and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 2 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Pepper Basham, #GIVEAWAY

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Book Launch Teams


What is a launch team & do I really need one?

A launch team—also called a street team, dream team, tribe, posse, road crew, etc—is a group of readers passionate about your book. These are people who believe in what you’ve written and see the value of sharing it with others. They agree to post reviews, mention it on Goodreads, share about it on social media, and of course talk about it in person.


In today’s publishing paradigm, finding a tribe of people who will advocate for our books is worth pure gold. There is nothing better than word of mouth for helping a book get off to a strong start.

How do I Find These People?

We find them anywhere readers hang out—online and in person. They can be reviewers, bookstore managers, readers and/or friends. Social media is a good way to spread the word that you’re looking for a team. The key is to find people who aren’t just excited, but will also be willing to truly help. The key is to get the ball rolling and people on the street team will recruit new members.


What’s in it for Them?

An author’s street team is a big priority. They always receive advance copies of the book (ebook or soft cover). In addition they get postcards, bookmarks, and other extras. They also get the inside scoop on a book and author they love.

In return, we as authors have a strong commitment to the people on this team. We pray for them regularly, stay in close touch and value their advice. They also get to make suggestions for promotions, blog posts, giveaways, and contests. Their input is valued and rewarded.


How do We Communicate?

That’s up to you. You can set up a Yahoo Group, secret Facebook page, or even a regular Google Hangout. The most important thing is the fact that it’s regular communication. Many of those on your street team will be there for multiple books.


Make a Specific Plan

One of the things I urge you to do is to come up with a detailed plan of how you’re going to interact with your team. I utilize a launch team for approximately six weeks. I find that people are happy to help out when there’s a specific time commitment, rather than an ongoing commitment.


Before I enlisted my team, I had a six-week schedule of what I wanted them to do and what I would be doing for them. Each week I had:

  • A message of encouragement (this could be a newsletter, email, or even a Facebook live if you’re doing everything through a Facebook group.) I tried to tie this encouragement directly to the content of the book. This works equally well whether the book I’m promoting is fiction or nonfiction.
  • A giveaway they would be automatically entered in when they participated that week.
  • Several pre-made social media updates for them to share.
  • A meme with a quote or Bible verse from the book for them to share.
  • Something they could do to raise awareness about the book in person (like visit a local bookstore or library).


The reason I had so many things each week is because everyone has different strengths. I made it clear that I never expected any one person to do all the things listed. I wanted everyone to do what they were comfortable with. By each one doing one or two things, the word spread rapidly.


By having this all mapped out at the beginning, it was much easier to manage in the midst of the excitement and busyness of launching a book.


Now it’s your turn. What questions do you have about launch teams and what experiences can you share?






Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.









Edie is offering a Kindle or print copy of Soul Care for Writers (U.S. address only).

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 12 August and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 19 August. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





Soul Care for Writers

Our lives are busier each day, and the margin we have available for recovery and peace is shrinking. Edie Melson helps you find Soul Care solutions using devotions and prayers and opportunities for creative expression. She has learned that sensory involvement deepens our relationship with the Father and gives rest to our weary souls. She will teach you to tap into your creativity. Reconnect with God using your tactile creativity. Warning! This book may become dog-eared and stained. Draw in it. Experiment with your creative passions. Learn the healing power of play. Allow God’s power to flow through creativity. Soul Care for Writers will become your heart treasure.



#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Edie Melson

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“Maybe you have to know the darkness to truly appreciate the light.”Madeleine L’Engle


“God whispers to our hearts and our hearts whisper back in stories.” – Karen Ball





Congratulations to


Kristena will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!



“I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”


Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995.  She lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years.  Her characters face many of these same demons. They encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?”

For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, Mason’s stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. “I know, I write from experience.”


Ms. Mason is a Christian and writes from a Christian world view, but some of her characters are not believers and therefore do not abide by the Bible and the guidelines for life that we take for granted. Her books contain some mild swear language in a few places—and demonstrate the difference when the grace of God prevails.










Robin is offering an e-copy of one of her books, winner’s choice.


“There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky. And you ask, What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” —Erin Hanson



#Blogwords, Guest Post and Giveaway, Creating an Active and Successful Blog, Giveaway Winner, #WINNER

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Indie vs Trad Publishing


When I first started seriously considering publication, the popularity of indie publishing was just starting to rise. People still laughed scornfully if you mentioned the idea of self-publishing, and the term “indie” had yet to take hold. The overwhelming majority in the writing world looked at self-publishing as the last resort of people who couldn’t let go of the idea of writing a book, even though they clearly lacked the talent to get a contract.


Thankfully, that mindset is mostly gone.


Oh sure, you’ll still find pockets of people who will insist that a traditional publishing contract is the only way to go, but they are not the only voices you’ll hear anymore.


The reality is that it’s a great time to be a writer. There are options available today that didn’t exist even ten years ago, so writers can think, research, and pray about the best path to publication. The one that is going to work best for them and their goals.


I’ve dabbled in both sides of the river.


My first six books were published with a small, traditional press. I wrote the book, they paid me royalties. Unlike with a larger publisher (one of the Big 5), I didn’t get an advance – smaller presses often don’t have the money for that – but I did get a higher royalty percentage. I was very happy with that situation, because the publisher handled the lion’s share of the marketing. I wanted to write. I wanted to be published. I did not want to wear all the business-oriented hats of book publishing.


After a time, unfortunately, the owner of the small press had serious problems in her personal life and the better choice for her safety and sanity was to close the business. I was sad, but I understood. I’d already gone the “try to get an agent” route with no success, and I wasn’t super excited about trying it again, so I decided to take the plunge and go completely indie.


I wish I could say I’ve never looked back, but I’ll be honest and admit that there are days when I wonder if I should dust off my query letter skills and try the traditional route again. Being an indie author can be hard. Mostly, it’s because indie authors wear all the hats.


And there are a lot of hats.


Obviously, the best hat is the author hat. (Well, at least, it’s my favorite one!) I love to write. I love to get lost in my stories as they work their way from my brain to my fingertips. Since I don’t do extensive plotting before I start writing, I love the surprises that come along as I discover the story. In an ideal world, that would be the only hat I’d ever put on.


But indie authors are not only authors, we’re publishers, too. This means I’m responsible for getting my story edited and formatted for publication. (Thankfully, there are wonderful editors out there who work with indies so we don’t also have to dig up an English degree somewhere. I tell anyone who’s interested in writing and going indie that a good editor is worth his or her weight in gold. Never skip the editing process!)


We’re also responsible for covers. When I was with my small press, I got a lot of input into my cover. Much more than I hear about being typical for a traditionally published author. So I was blessed there – and I was already somewhat familiar with the cover process. Still . . . wanna know a secret? I’m terrible at choosing what should be on the cover of my books. I honestly wish I could just send the book to someone who understands covers, they’d read it, and then they’d say, “Oh, of course, this is the best cover that could exist for the story inside!” Even though I hire a cover designer, and I adore my covers, getting from concept to final cover is always like running uphill backwards. While avoiding crocodiles. (Point being, it’s hard, and I sometimes envy trad authors who get to foist that off on someone else.)


The list of hats goes on: back cover copy? All up to me. Uploading to retailers? Me. Marketing plan? Me. Implementing the plan? Also me.


You get the idea.


The thing is, as hard as it is some days? I love it. And while sure, there are hats I wish I could pass along to someone else, there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from knowing that win or lose, success or failure, I have no one to blame but me. And that, in my mind, is one of the best things about being indie – and it’s a sentiment shared by most of my fellow indie authors (at least the ones I know.)


I said earlier that it’s a great time to be a writer and I stand by that. But that also means it’s a fantastic time to be a reader. Indie publishing has opened up opportunities for people like me to release stories filled with realistic struggles in today’s world that, often, traditional publishers won’t touch. But these stories give us a peek into the life of a woman suffering from post-abortion trauma, like Lydia Brown in my book Wisdom to Know. Or twin sisters who, with their husbands, are struggling to conceive like in my Remnants series. And the list goes on and on. Indie authors have so much more freedom with their storylines, which means readers have the chance to be inspired and encouraged in new and exciting ways.



Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace on their way to their own romantic happily ever after.











Elizabeth is giving away one e-book, winner’s choice from her titles.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 15 July and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 22 July. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.






#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Elizabeth Maddrey

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Genre—Why You Write What You Write


Everything in the room, from the stiffly starched crocheted doilies on the side tables, to the ancient iron used as a doorstop, reminded me of Grandma’s house. If I concentrated really hard, I could almost hear the tick of the grandfather clock; the contented cluck of hens; the stamp of horses’ hooves in their stalls.

My breath is bated as I read the words on the page, igniting still more memories. I love to read historical novels. I enjoy researching days gone by, but most of all, I love remembering my childhood. Those days, lived among some of the sweetest folks on earth, who’d endured things like world wars, the Great Depression, and the dustbowl years. They went from horse-drawn buggies to Cadillac convertibles, or maybe something less imposing, like a Plymouth Fury.


Conversations sweep through my memories, of hardship and near defeat. Losses that made me wonder how they had ever gone on living. My grandma told of standing over her husband’s grave, four small children clinging to her, after losing him to a gunshot wound. She seldom spoke of the circumstances of that event, but I relive it whenever I read a similar scene in a novel.


This is the reason I write historical fiction. I’m recreating conversations and events of my growing-up years. I like to craft a scene that steals your breath for the ache of unrequited love and settling for someone who was there rather than live the rest of her life alone. Or, better yet, finding that perfect someone who almost seems too good to be true and couldn’t possibly love me…umm…I mean, my main character, of course.

Oh, the beauty of such a scene. Oh, the pure joy of writing it. Overcome with emotion, I’m swiping tears as I type with shaky fingers. Yes, that kind of scene. When I read an old letter, or hear a story told, my imagination kicks into gear. Sometimes, all it takes is a page from a census record as I read the names of those living in a household. Why were their surnames different? Were they lodgers, in-laws, or a married son or daughter and their spouse?


Inspiration comes at the oddest moments. I’m standing in the buffet line at a meeting and a fellow member mentions a name I hadn’t heard in years. “Whatever happened to him?” The speaker was eager to tell the tale, complete with embellishments, I’m sure. I smile as I listen, but my curiosity is piqued. I must go home and google it. Research is in order.


In my quest for knowledge, I stumbled upon an interesting tidbit. One of my great-great grandfathers (or was it great-great-great?) was a Union sympathizer, living in Missouri during the Civil War. Don’t you know his life was out of the comfort zone? I found a picture of him. He had black hair and a black beard shot through with wide streaks of white or silver. The beard extended to his beltline. His son looked like a cowboy. He wore a ten-gallon hat. The facts told junior left Missouri and settled in the Texas Panhandle.


Oh, the tales they could tell if they could still talk. My research left a lot of blank spaces. I wanted to know, so of course, my writer’s mind kicked into gear and created a fantastic story between those blanks. Someday, I really must write that one.


In the meantime, I’ve written the historical Legacy series, three books set in subsequent eras. Amelia’s Legacy takes place in the 1920’s, Carlotta’s Legacy, the 1930’s, and Rebecca’s Legacy, the 1940’s (personal favorite at this point). I’ve recently finished the Kinsman Redeemer series, also historical. Annabelle’s Ruth tells a “Ruth-like” story, set in the 1950’s. Sutter’s Landing is the sequel, and the final book is Annabelle’s Joy. This series is set in West Tennessee, where I spent a good bit of my childhood. Annabelle’s Joy is set for release in August 2019.


As the August release approaches, I’m pretty sure my publisher will lower prices on the first two books in the Kinsman Redeemer series. If you’ve never read them, leave me a comment here for a chance to win the Kindle version of both books (Annabelle’s Ruth & Sutter’s Landing).


If you’d like to stay up with my latest news, you can sign up for my newsletter on my blog—I love to give away stuff there. You may also “like” my Facebook author page or follow me at the usual places to keep up with my releases. You’ll find all the details in my bio.



Betty Thomason Owens loves being outdoors. Her favorite season is spring, when she can work in the yard or take long walks while thinking through a troublesome scene in one of her stories. She considers herself a word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. She leads the Louisville Area ACFW group, serves on the board of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and is a co-founder of the multi-author Inspired Prompt blog. Married forty-four years, she’s a mother of three, and a grandmother of eight. A part-time bookkeeper at her day-job, she writes for Write Integrity Press, and has eight novels in publication. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com.










“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.”

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.

Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee.  How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?



Betty is giving away ebook copies (Kindle version) of Annabelle’s Ruth and Sutter’s Landing to one winner.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 24 June and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday I July. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.




#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Betty Thomason Owens

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Historical or Historical Romance: Somewhere On the Spectrum


If you’ve read one of my novels then you know I’m a writer with a passion for 18th century history, be it Colonial American, Early Federal American, Native American, even Jacobite Scotland. Most particularly, I’m irresistibly drawn to settings where cultural intermingling occurred, complete with all its conflicts and, at rarer times, surprising harmony. Settings like the Appalachian mountain frontier or—as in my newest release, The King’s Mercy—the backyard, fields, and forests of a rural southern plantation.


The stories of the fictional characters in each of my novels are woven with care around and through real life events that can be found in the pages of history books (some more obscure than others). In many cases those historical events are front and center to the novel’s plot, such as war and battle (The Pathfinders series; Many Sparrows; The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn). Sometimes the history is more subtle, such as war’s aftermath on a frontier population (Burning Sky). I write historical fiction—stories featuring real events that happened in the past—so readers can expect to encounter plenty of detailed and accurate history in the pages of my books, seen through the eyes and experienced through the hopes and hearts of my fictional characters.


But wait, I like a good romance, too! There’s nothing more powerful to draw me into a story, whether I’m reading it or writing it, than the ages-old “boy meets girl” scenario in all its variations, with the exciting complications that inevitably follow that collision. You’ll find at least one such romance thread in each of my books, occasionally more than one. So does that mean what I really write is Historical Romance?


If a spectrum existed for the historical fiction genre, with Historical Romance at one end and Historical novels lacking any romantic element at the other, then every writer of historical fiction falls somewhere uniquely on that spectrum, as do each of their books. How does a reader tell where on the spectrum the book in their hands falls? How does a writer know what she’s writing? Let’s start by defining those two extremes.


On the left of this imaginary spectrum I’ll place Historical Romance. As defined by Romance Writers of America, a romance novel contains a central love story in which two characters meet and struggle to make a relationship work, despite whatever odds are set against them. That love story is the main focus of the novel, though subplots may exist.

On the right of the spectrum is Historical Fiction. Without getting into the complicated minutia and contradictions one encounters if they Google “Historical Fiction genre guidelines,” for the sake of simplicity I’ll define the genre as a story set at least fifty years in the past, with or without a romantic “boy meets girl” scenario as a minor subplot woven into the story.


My basic guideline for judging a book set in the past on whether it falls into Historical or Historical Romance category is to answer one question: assuming that one exists, if the romance thread was removed would there still be a recognizable story arc for each of the main characters? In other words, is there still a story to tell without the romance? If so, the novel in question falls closer to the Historical end of the spectrum. If the romance thread is removed and there’s no other goal or motivation to carry the characters forward, with a recognizable story arc or plot to trace, then what I have in my hands is Historical Romance.


As an avid reader of novels set in the past, I read books at both extremes, but my favorites tend to be those that fall somewhere in the middle ground of that imaginary spectrum. Which comes as no surprise, really, since the Middle Ground of intermingled cultures and world views is one of the primary things that motivates me to write. I’m intrigued by those gray areas where the answers come hard-won, whether of the heart or the mind. The romantic element is part of that, but not the whole.


Tips for writers: unless you’re writing for a specific imprint or line of books with a narrowly defined brand, might I suggest not adhering to a strict set of guidelines in your writing of historical fiction when it comes to the romance element. Especially not with your first book. There’s something to be said about the unfolding of discovery, and not forcing yourself into a mold—or brand—prematurely. As long as you are writing fully fleshed out characters with clear motivations and goals to pursue, focus on what fascinates you and draws you to write, whether it’s historical events or romance that sparks your passion—or both. Once you’ve finished that first novel, then it’s time to analyze what you’ve written and decide where your sweet spot on that spectrum lies.


The best thing? You aren’t bound to remain in that one spot forever. Readers and reviewers have made it clear that each of my books occupies a slightly different position on that spectrum, some closer to the Historical Romance side, some to the Historical. There are readers who clearly prefer one over the other, some romance, others the history, but there’s a readership for each and everywhere in between. There’s no wrong place on that spectrum to be, no wrong way to go about crafting a novel set in whatever historical period has captured your imagination.


A question for readers: when it comes to stories set in the past, do you prefer more romance or more history, or an equal portion of both?


Lori Benton’s novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she expertly brings to life the colonial and early federal periods of American history. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards; The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy finalist The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; Christy finalist Many Sparrows; and The King’s Mercy. She lives in Oregon where she enjoys hiking and landscape photography.










Lori is offering a signed copy of The King’s Mercy. (Sorry, U. S. addresses only.)

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 10 June and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 11 June. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Lori Benton

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Editing Mistakes: Choosing an Editor who Hates Your Genre


Choosing a good editor for your piece of writing is a no brainer, but have you ever considered the importance of choosing an editor who likes your genre? Yes, my good people, a crucial characteristic of a good editor is their general affinity for the genre you write.

As a newbie author (my debut novel, Teal Paisley Tights, released in November 2018) but lifetime writer, I’m always learning new things. And when it comes to editing, I’ve discovered a few things the hard way, including choosing an editor who not only didn’t enjoy the chick lit genre but pretty much loathed it.

When you’re vetting your editor options, you want to consider the cost, their skill, and the type of editing (developmental, line editing, proofing, etc.). But please don’t forget to check for their general affinity for your book’s genre, whether it be mystery, horror, romance, historical, or some mix.

As writers, allowing our work to be edited can be such a vulnerable experience. Of course, we want the writing to be the best it can be, but we also whisper that secret question, “Is it any good?” And when someone reads your book who doesn’t enjoy the genre at all (and in fact, scorns the genre) …well, let’s just say, your secret question is going to get stomped on.

For the record, I didn’t know! I had no idea that the editor I had chosen didn’t enjoy my flirty, glitzy, girly genre. I didn’t know until I was reading through the edits and comments.

Cringe with me.

While many of the comments and edits were “good,” the patronizing and disdainful tone that came across each sentence of critique chipped away at my self-esteem and belief in my story. Each comment shouted at me, “This is no good! Why did you spend hours upon hours of your time working on a crappy story that no one could ever love? Keep your day job, kid.”

I made it through about 5 pages of comments in my 80,000-word WIP.

And stopped.

I had made a HUGE mistake. Although this editor had great points and edits, their bedside manner had me shoveling out the dirt for my book’s grave. I told myself that I could still learn from their edits and that my story was still good…but, can I be frightfully honest for a moment? I haven’t touched that WIP since that experience.

Sure, the editor could have told me they loathed the genre, but as the keeper of my story, it’s vital that I choose the right people to share it with as it’s still growing and becoming what it’s meant to be. As authors and writers, we have to know both when to share our work and when to protect it.

So, my friends, learn from me. When you choose an editor, a beta reader, or just someone to read your new writing, seek someone who actually likes the genre that you write.


Teal Paisley Tights

Life post-graduation was supposed to see the launch of paisley-loving Jadyn’s art career, or at least an art gallery showing one of her watercolor paintings. Instead, this Pittsburgh native is locked into a low-paying, buttoned-up consultant position with an impossible boss. When another colleague is dismissed, Jadyn inherits extra workload, including the company’s biggest client. If she loses him, she’s fired.

Jadyn people-pleases her way through life, resulting in extra work opportunities and a community classroom of art students. But when two guys appear on her doorstep, she just might not be able to people-please her way out of this love triangle. At the end of the day, she can’t please everyone.

Then, because of a small spending problem, Jadyn is evicted from her apartment, and she must move in with her know-it-all sister. Jadyn needs to decide between a job transfer that would place her near her love interest, or a full-time art career with all its risks.

Stretched like canvas between responsibility and dreams, she must choose. Will practicality always win?



Barbara Brutt, a born and raised Pittsburgher, spent her growing-up years with her nose in a book. After claiming her bachelor’s degree in English, she plunked down hard into a smattering of jobs from shop girl to communications director with a healthy dose of nanny and house-cleaner. Flying to new adventures is her favorite, especially on an airplane or aerial silk. Barbara adores ice cream and only buys purses that provide room for a book or two.

Barbara talks books, aerial silks, faith, and travel on her website and blog at barbarabrutt.com.









Barbara is offering a signed copy of Teal Paisley Tights.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 29 April and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 6 May. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.







#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Barbara Brutt

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