Posts Tagged ‘New Week New Fact’






The holiday season is nearly upon us. Anyone else freaking out? This year I feel a lot of pressure to make the holidays, and Christmas especially, the best ever because…well…because there won’t be Christmas next year for us. No Christmas trees. No Christmas decorations. No Christmas baking. Next December, for us, will be filled with the excitement and stress of moving to a new state and a new duty station for my military husband. So, the clock is ticking, and the list is growing to make this year one to remember. I’ve already snuck in and hid some presents in the garage (shhh….don’t tell my kids) and bought tickets to a real-life Polar Express experience on a steam train. Hot chocolate, pajamas, and a book come to life? Yes, please!

But even with the added pressure and knowing our holidays will look different next year, I’m thankful because our family will still be together. And that just may not be the case in future years as I know it’s not this year for many military families. So, even if you find your turkey dry, an ugly sweater waiting for you under the tree, or a bit of drama with the in-laws, give your loved ones an extra hug.

If you’d like to support the troops who will not be able to be with their families over the holidays and brighten their day even a little by sending them a card, check out the Operation Christmas Cards for Troops Overseas Facebook page at




Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.




#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Sarah Monzon


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Mamaw Avon’s Pink Stuff


Southerners love their “get-togethers,” especially if the holidays and food are involved. My husband Danny’s family is no exception. Though his mother, Mamaw Avon, now lives in her heavenly residence, her bright smile and recipes live on. Thanksgiving meant turkey, Christmas meant ham, and for both holidays, she made cherry fluff, or as we called it, pink stuff.


On Thanksgiving Day, we’d wake early to the smell of the turkey which had baked all night. “Dressing,” which is a southern-type of cornbread stuffing, was tasted and re-tasted to get the spices just right. Vegetables were cooked and the house filled quickly with family and friends bearing casseroles and cake plates brimming with delectable dishes. The pink stuff was mixed together and chilled before the start of our late afternoon celebration.

The large crowd would be quieted before we’d give thanks to God for His abundant goodness, then to the feasting. Most of us ate our pink stuff with the meal, but a few would save a bowlful for desert later. The left-overs brought us all together for several days thereafter and the fun would begin all over again.


Yield: 10 servings

1 can cherry pie filling

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained

12 oz. Cool Whip

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup miniature marshmallows

½ cup pecans, finely chopped


Mix all ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Pour in decorative bowl and refrigerate for one hour.




Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and fantasy, an interesting combination that keep the creative juices flowing. She’s published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations.

When she isn’t babysitting grandkids or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on one of her two blogs. Or even watching American Ninja Warrior.







#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jennifer Hallmark

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Author Confessions: When Social Media Is NOT My Comfort Zone


Everywhere you look there are blog posts, webinars, online courses and websites all shouting the same message: Join social media! Engage, connect, network! Build your audience! Everyone says that authors must navigate the social media waters to be successful. Is this true?

Well, unless you happen to be a celebrity or are gifted with a giant promotional push from a publisher…then probably yes, if you hope to reach a wider audience.

And herein lies the problem: many writers are introverts. They like having the computer screen between them and the world, thank you very much. They don’t want to get involved in every newfangled social media platform, or blog with no idea what to say, or try to find an ‘in’ on a site when it seems like everyone knows each other already.

When it’s been decades since you’ve had to walk the playground and make friends, the idea of entering a giant online cocktail party can be hive-inducing. So what is a writer to do when they feel they are not suited for social networking or are simply terrified by the very idea of it?


Stay Within Your Comfort Zone

If the idea of social networking is overwhelming, pick something contained and more likely to be in your comfort zone. Forums may feel less intimidating than the biggies of socialization like Twitter or Facebook. In a forum, rather than being bombarded by hundreds of people, interaction is more intimate. Joining conversations in a forum (either with other writers to network, or on focused topics that tie into your book’s audience) will put you together with only a few people at once, and the topic is focused. You can learn, share and make friends at a slower pace.

If you want to find your potential readers, run a google search for a subject of interest that ties into your book. Chances are, if you like it enough to write about it, there’s a forum for it somewhere. If you’re struggling to know who your audience is, read this post. You can also search Goodreads, and look for discussions about books that are similar to your own that you’ve read. This is a good way to start a relationship with people through discussion on something you all enjoy.


Become A Lurker

Rather than be pressured into jumping into the fray, do some lurking. Think about the blogs you visit for book research, the ones that will help you improve your writing and marketing, and other blogs that tie into your interests. Read the comments so you can understand how people engage.

Check out how other writers interact on Twitter by searching up some hashtags like #writersroad #ontheporch or #writechat. See what they share and click on some profiles to find people who interest you. Run searches for your interests. If you like cycling, you’re not alone. Try #Cycling in twitter search. If your book is for dragon lovers, search for #Dragons and you’re sure to find fans.

If you have Facebook, check out a few groups! Again, search by interest to find groups that have interests or passions that tie into your book in some way.







Dip Your Toe In…On A Trial Basis

If you did some lurking and found a social networking medium that seemed like it could be within your comfort zone, then step in, slowly. Reach out and share a bit–it can be things that inspire you, what you find funny, or something about writing (if you want to connect with other writers for support and community).

Friend or follow a few people and comment on what they share. If you’re looking to connect with your direct book audience, then share content that you know they will enjoy (as it ties right in with topics you touch on in your books). Soon, conversations will start and you’ll be off to the races. If you find you enjoy it, great! And if not, then you can walk away, wiser for trying. Just be authentic and open – be yourself!

Social Networking can seem intimidating at first. Some worry it will chew up all their writing time and that they need to be everywhere to be successful–Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and more. Honestly it is much better for you to choose one or two and do them well than scatter yourself across all networks. And remember, YOU are in control. Engage as much or as little as time allows. Writing should come first.


What tips would you share with people looking to start using social media but who are a bit nervous about it? Let us know in the comments!



ANGELA ACKERMAN is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of six bestselling resources including The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. A proud indie author, her books are available in six languages, are sourced by universities, and used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site, Writers Helping Writers ®, as well as One Stop For Writers ®, an innovative online library filled with unique tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.








#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Angela Ackerman

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My Fiction Fantasy Vacation

Earlier this year, Carrie shared her Bookish Places Bucket List over at Reading Is My Superpower, and it got me to thinking of all the book-related places I’ve dreamed of visiting. So I asked myself, “If money grew on trees and I could spend one year visiting any and as many of those places as I like, where would I go?” The result was my fiction fantasy vacation:

First stop would have to be Prince Edward Island since I’ve been dreaming of visiting L.M. Montgomery’s Green Gables since I was a little girl.

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice raved so beautifully of the countryside in Derbyshire it would seem almost sinful not to include it in my fiction fantasy vacation. From Chatsworth to Stanage Edge, there is much to see and do in this beautiful part of England.

Photo from PeriodDramas.com


It may be cliche, but some of my favorite historical romances have taken place along the Oregon Trail. Therefore, I would love the opportunity to retrace or reenact the experience of those brave pioneers (not forgetting the tragedies that went along with this westward expansion). In a perfect world, I could travel back in time and actually join a wagon train for the entire length of the journey – bringing with me my modern medicines and a magical helicopter that could instantly transport me to a very modern hospital in the case of emergency, of course. Barring that, I’d love to do something like the tour outlined here and then take part in a reenactment such as this one.

After my last pick, it will hardly come as a surprise that I also enjoy a well-written cowboy romance. So of course, my fantasy vacation needs to include the closest thing this city girl can get to actual ranching experience:  a dude ranch! Only I’m just crazy enough not to want to simply hang out at a ranch and maybe ride a horse or two. I actually want to muck stalls, drive cattle, groom horses and maybe even learn to lasso. That’s easy, right? Well, whatever the case, I figure one of the top 50 working ranch vacation places listed HERE ought to suit my fancy.

Those horns are soft, right?


I’ll probably be all tuckered out after my stay at the ranch. What better way to recharge than a nice long train ride? Yep. I like a good train romance, too. Although I don’t think it is possible to get the full ash-in-your-face, week-long-travel-on-a-hard-wooden-bench experience, these days, I would like to experience traveling from New York to San Francisco by rail. And perhaps while I’m riding, I’ll travel back in time by reading the “first-person” contemporary accounts available HERE.

Then, to round off my vacation, I’ll test my seafaring skills by learning to crew a gold-rush era replica schooner off the coast of my hometown, San Diego.

What do you think? Would you enjoy coming along on my fantasy fiction vacation? What would your fantasy fiction vacation include?



What would your fantasy fiction vacation include? – Click to Tweet!





This post and all images originally appeared on Kathleen’s blog in August last year:




Kathleen Denly writes stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. She enjoys finding the lesser known pockets of history and bringing them to life through the joys and struggles of her characters.

Sunny southern California, a favorite setting in her stories, is also her home. She lives there with her loving husband, four young children, two cats, and too many fish to count. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories.





#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Kathleen Denly, My Fiction Fantasy Vacation

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Faith. It’s a little word, but holds powerful meaning. People have faith in different things, but often find that they cannot count on the things they have faith in. It could be a family member, best friend, boss, even a church member. These are just people though. They are bound to make mistakes, break promises, and let you down at one point or another, sometimes through no fault of their own. Our Heavenly Father, however, will never let us down. We may not always like what He has to say, but we can have faith that He knows what is best, and will never let us down.

I recently went through a test of faith with the Lord – and boy, did He test me. I have a fifteen year old daughter who is interested in missions. Has been for a few years actually, but I always assumed her interest would go away. Don’t get me wrong – I love and support missionaries. But MY daughter? My one and only child going to who knows what country, for who knows how long? Yeah, I’m not sure my heart can take that.


Have faith.


These words have been whispered in my ears for a few years now. I ignored it at first. I wasn’t ready to let her go. Then came the good news – our minister and his wife made arrangements to take Caitlin to stay with a missions family our church supports in Mexico. Mexico. The place that seems to be the crime capital of the world.


Have faith.


Boy did I put on a good front. I pretended to be so excited and happy for Caitlin, and honestly part of me really was happy for her. I mean, what young woman in today’s world decides at such an early age that they are interested in serving the Lord in this way? But Mexico? I mean why couldn’t she be going to somewhere in the US?


Have faith.


There were those pesky words again. I heard them over and over during the planning stages. I prayed for the Lord to give me wisdom and comfort. I prayed that if this was truly what He wanted, to make things so smooth in the planning stages that it was obvious this was His will. Guess what? Everything came together so easy and so quickly that God was sending a clear message to me. Know what that message was? Yep – I needed to have faith.

You see, as a mother you are very protective of your children. You want them to grow and succeed, as long as it’s right there beside you where you can catch them when they fall. I am probably overprotective – anyone who knows me tends to point that out. So to allow my daughter to go to Mexico without me was going to be a HUGE step. But I needed faith. I trust the Lord with so many things in my life, why was I struggling to trust Him with my daughter?


Have faith.


The bible tells us in in Matthew 17:20 that we need only faith the grain of mustard seed. When you put it in perspective, it’s not all that much. So….I decided to give it my best. I was going to be a woman/mother of faith, and was going to walk around knowing that my daughter was safe in the arms of my Heavenly Father. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen over time. Let me say this – the Lord is great at bringing us closer to Him. As much as this trip was for Caitlin, it was for me. I needed to learn to let her go. I needed to learn that she will still be okay even if she’s not in the same county as me, or the same country for that matter. I needed to learn that I’ll be okay too. Most of all, I needed to learn to have faith.

The day she left I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my entire life. Talk about getting closer to the Lord – I was with Him all day long. Amazingly (but not shocking to the Lord) they arrived safely and had absolutely no problems at any of the airports or going through customs. Caitlin kept in contact with me throughout the week, and I continued my contact with the Lord through prayer. When she was back home, safe in my arms, I kind of blew a sigh of relief. But it was only a little one. For you see, I wasn’t as worried the day she came home as I was the day she left. My faith in the Lord had grown and multiplied, and I knew without the shadow of a doubt that He would keep her safe.

You’ll never guess what the message at church was on the Sunday after they returned…….

Yep, faith. Having faith that the Lord will provide. Having faith that the Lord will take care of us. Having faith enough to give your daughter to the Lord, and trusting Him for her life. Okay, our minister didn’t say those words, but God did. Straight to my heart.


Have faith.


I challenge you today – if there is something in your life that you are stressing over, give it to the Lord. Have faith that He will take care of it for you, whatever it is. Trust me, when you do finally let go, you will feel a HUGE weight lift off your shoulders. Won’t you allow the Lord to ease your burdens?






Jessica Baker lives Central NY with her husband, teenage daughter, beagle and cat. She loves Jesus, her family and her church. She is a wife, mother, church youth group leader, and avid reader.  She loves cooking and baking for family and friends in her spare time.

Jessica’s love for reading began as a young child when her grandmother read her the book Teeny Tiny Woman. In fact, most of the books she read as a child were given to Jessica by her grandmother, to whom she is eternally grateful for encouraging her to read. Today Jessica has a diverse taste in Christian books, ranging from Amish to dystopian, historic to contemporary, and everywhere in between.

Jessica loves sharing her passion for reading with others, and connecting readers with authors. In addition to her blog, she provides support in managing street teams, proofreading, beta reading, copy edits, and assisting authors in any way that she can.











#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jessica Baker

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Some of us love our families without abandon. Other families work better on opposite sides of the room. But no matter the kind of family, you are there for one another. It is engrained into our DNA to lift up and support one another and put aside our differences. We come together on holidays and special occasions and celebrate each achievement. And sometimes, when one is in desperate need, we, link our arms together  and hold that one up through the trial.

This is my matriarchal side of the family. When one of us needs a little extra boost, someone is right there to help. Need a couple more bags of groceries to fill your pantry, you will find them on your door step. If the kids will be home from school before a parent can get there, someone is available and willing to be there to get them off the bus. We are a tight family, no matter our difference in faith, politics, and life choices. There is still a constant bond that remains. A fine thread that binds us all together.  Grandma.

My Grandma A is the last of my grandparents. At one point, she was sassy, bold, opinionated, vivacious, tenacious, stubborn, and will never complain. You would rarely find her home on a Sunday evening because she was out with her girls (ladies she played cards with and I am guessing and adult beverage or two). She was the local VFW’s Queen of Poppies because she sold the most poppies every year to raise money for the Ladies Auxiliary. Having been a widow since 1987, she filled her time with volunteer work and helping her kids. We could always count on grandma to be at school plays, choir and band concerts, dance recitals – well, you name it and she was there.

A little over a decade ago, we began to notice a change in this energetic thread. She began asking the same questions repeatedly in a short amount of time. Then, she forgot where she parked her car in the parking lot. That led to no longer recalling what street signs meant. And the ball began to roll. About eight years ago, that hated D word was mentioned – Dementia. A couple of years later – Alzheimers.

When grandma received these diagnoses, we banded together around her and formed a plan. Well, it was more like my mom, aunt, and uncle. My aunt made arrangements to live with grandma and the siblings would help with care as needed. Since grandma could no longer drive, it was mostly transportation related. Then, she digressed, and it became “check in on her once a day” just to make sure she didn’t feel alone.  A couple years ago, it became, “We need someone at the house twice a day.” She was forgetting how to make simple meals. That awful demon that was robbing my grandmother’s mind continued its journey.

I happen to live a block away from my aunt and grandma. Since I am a stay at home mom, I was the only one who could be there more than even my own mother. Everyone had to work to continue supporting their households. Even my aunt. Someone had to keep the heat on. So, I willingly go over to the house there times a week now. I enjoy our times together as we have shared many tender moments and some great laughs. But the light are flickering behind those amazing blue eyes. The person inside is bumping around in the corners of that 96 year old mind and she is getting pretty banged up.

“God, I really hate this disease!” Is something I remark often in my quiet times. I hate watching this pillar in our family wither away a little more each day. The woman who was once there for her children and grandchildren, never really relying on anyone, now needs all of those she helped to pitch in for her. Though she won’t ask for your help. Each visit is different now. The only routine we have is help her dress, comb her hair, make her breakfast, give her her medications, take her blood pressure, and if she isn’t too tired, play a round of Skip-Bo.

This winter, my husband had another opportunity to move us all south. We struggled with the choice this year. Grandma was slipping even more and I cannot bring myself to leave her. I am so glad my husband understands that I can’t leave her no matter how bad we want to get out of Michigan. In fact, he told me he knew this would be the case.


When we moved into our house five years ago, my journey as a caregiver for grandma began. I knew that God had placed me here to be easily accessible if something happened and when it was time, this door would close, a new door would open and we would move from this home to another. I must admit, moving to a bigger home is something exciting for my family, but my heart is a little scared. It means things are coming to an end. I am not sure I am ready. Then again, is anyone every ready to say goodbye to one they love so much?


Melissa resides in the small mid-Michigan farm community of Corunna with her husband, three children, one cat, and three dogs.

She began writing in 2014. She has 4 titles to her resume and is currently working on her next novel.  In her spare time, she reads a verity of books throughout the year and shares her thoughts on Goodreads or her blog Back Porch Reads.

You can connect with her at www.melissawardwell.com as well as all major social media outlets and Amazon














#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Melissa Wardwell, Family, Grandma A

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Balancing Writing and Family

When my house was full of young children, I attempted to draft my first novel. After only one chapter, I realized I couldn’t write fiction and homeschool a houseful of children simultaneously. Keep a journal, yes, but concentrate on effective fiction plotting, no.


Maybe you can. If so, it might seem silly that I didn’t press on, that I put my fiction writing aside for another season. But my brain didn’t work that way, and I had watched my working mother. Learning from her experience, I knew something had to give. Fiction could wait. The children would grow up and, one day, be gone.


Two decades later, only one child remained, and I started writing fiction again. Words and backlogged stories came bursting forth. Scenes woke me in the night. Inspiration struck while singing hymns at church. Walks were disrupted as I paused to jot phrases. Words streamed like water from a fire hydrant.


Inspiration didn’t turn off or on when it was most convenient. Looking back at those years of balancing my daughter’s high school education with learning to write fiction, I remember the haze induced by pounding out a scene on my laptop in a loud ballet studio. Pausing to watch each piece she danced solo or with the group, to help with pointe shoe dilemmas, and regularly to watch, astonished by her gracefulness, I drafted five novels.


I can still feel the urgency of working fast and sloppy to draft a section before we rushed to the next event. I dragged that laptop to play practices, huddled in halls and libraries during my daughter’s science tutoring, and carried snippets of dialogue in my head as I raced her across town from one event to another.


But I cherish the memories of quiet mornings, each of us working at home, and the time spent in the coffee shop while we awaited the French tutor. Often the two of us enjoyed the pleasure of simply sitting and conversing. I was glad I’d waited.


The stories I drafted then are bound together in my memory with the events of those days. The murder scene in Refuge, my story about Cain and Abel, was written when my writer friend Susan lent us her daughter, who was the best friend of my girl. My husband was out of town, and I needed to write, so the two girls had an entire weekend sleepover. As Susan left, she asked when I needed her to return.


“When I’ve killed Abel,” I said. “I’m not quite sure how to do it yet.”


Only writers can have these kinds of conversations. Two days later Susan returned. I had finished the scene. Wild haired and disheveled, I greeted her at the door. Tears streaming down my face, emotionally distraught and yet triumphant, I still wore the same clothes.


“Abel’s dead,” I wailed. “I’ve done it. I’ve killed him.”


My friends learned to endure these quirks. But my husband and my daughter had to actually live with a writer. When I was still figuring out how to hit the pause button on inspiration, rather than write for fourteen hours a day, they held a family meeting to discuss strategies. When I had a deadline, they vacated. After I had finished a manuscript to send off to the publisher, they took me to the mall for a massage while they went shopping, rewarding us all.


We did it. It was a group effort. If you’re a writer with a family, it has to be. Everyone must be heard, and everyone must work together. This is something you can’t accomplish without their cooperation and your willingness to compromise. Even then, it will require communication and sharing of strategies.


Ironically, now that all my children are grown, I find that I can’t accomplish nearly as much writing as when I had that pressing schedule. Writing was more urgent then, because I had to squeeze it in here and there. Now I find myself waiting for the perfect moment to start. There is no perfect moment. And so, often I don’t start.


Only you and the Lord together can determine whether and when you can write. If the Lord gives you stories, he’ll give you a way. It may not look at all like you expected, for it will impact your family. A writer must always be mindful of that. Listen.


Melinda Viergever Inman, a prodigal now returned, writes with passion, illustrating God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes. Her writing also encompasses chronic illness and autoimmune disease, as she was stricken when her first novel was in production. Melinda’s fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives. Melinda also pens inspirational material and weekly blog posts at http://melindainman.com/blog/. With her family she is involved with Mission India/RIMI, rescuing orphans and providing theological and job training for impoverished students.










#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Melinda Inman, Balancing Writing and Family

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