Posts Tagged ‘New Week New Fact’





Eight Ways Being a Reader is Crucial for Writers


I have been invited to speak to high school and middle school language classes. When we get to the question and answer part of what is the most important thing someone can do to prepare to be a writer, I tell them, “be a reader.” Those who cannot understand are doomed to be neither.

It’s not too much to presume that people who want to play with words do so because they love them. It may be a love/hate relationship, but it must passionate, as passion undergirds story. If you have little experience with story, whether it’s someone else’s or your own, you are in no position to offer a tale to anyone else. As you can read between the lines above, being story—that is, living widely enough to be able to look back and appreciate the scenes that make up life—is the second part of an equation for authorship that has an endless answer like the square root of pi. For now we’ll focus on the first aspect—Why Read?

A person who wants to write literature but will not read it can sound like a human explaining to a guppy what it’s like to sit in a recliner and watch television. Anyone can learn the mechanics of language. People can learn to repeat a joke or assemble facts for a report, but a storyteller is an inventor. Inventors don’t generally birth a concept into an immediate, fully-functional working contraption without some apprenticeship, doodling, tweaking, and trial and error. A person with an idea who refuses to go through the work of developing that notion into a presentable product usually gives up, hires someone else, or fails.

Like inventors, authors are constantly learning. We learn from others, and from trial and error. Here are eight ways being a gluttonous reader helps writers.

  1. Osmosis. Yes, the sponge effect. By soaking up good stuff, it will seep into your membranes. You may not know initially why a sentence sounds good, or a piece of dialog has a great back-and-forth that just works, but it will stay with you and you’ll have a better chance of spitting it back out in a sensible way. However, you know what happens when you let your sponge sit in unpleasant gunk. Rinse and repeat. Do this by
  2. Reading carefully. Read from different large publishers and indies, as well as some self-published material. If you don’t have a library card, get one. Even rural communities have access to public libraries. Become such a good reader that you’ll be able to figure out if the publisher missed an error. Large publishers have several layers of editing and proofreading before they give a product to the public. Learn what sort of material is popular, and are good sellers, talked about, and why. You should also
  3. Read widely, especially outside your genre. Include nonfiction, especially poetry, and fiction. Nonfiction takes a practical approach to a topic. There are often reference and notes about research. Fiction writers can find new avenues of research, and information that will make fiction that much closer to believability. Nonfiction authors can learn to put their material together in ways that create interest and intrigue. Poetry is the ultimate distillation of language to create story. If you don’t know poets, find some! Writers will have to create marketing material for their own work, which often includes back cover copy, a synopsis, a hook sentence, and a biography. This material should be attention-grabbing and poets know how to draw the essence from experience with a perfect word.
  4. Copy. Not plagiarize. Go ahead and keep a notebook of phrases that move you from the books you read.


Why did that word or scene or sentence evoke emotion? How can you create that mood in your story? Begin to appreciate the doodling, the tweaking, the sweat that went into developing that moment. Know that quite likely, that phrase or sentence was the result of several minds mulling over the words. The author may have originated it, or perhaps the urging came from an agent or developmental editor. A copy editor may have requested a tweak. A publisher may have asked for an addition or deletion. Careful, studious readers can understand that writers will have to develop a working relationship with their editors and their readers. Careful readers will eventually come to appreciate the

  1. Rules of language. Grammar. The mere presence of the word can be as frightening as the word algebra is to those of us who think it’s ridiculous there can be an endless answer to the square root of pi. Good readers should pick up some natural grammatical dynamics, general punctuation, and the understanding that syntax will guide your vocabulary choices. As an editor, however, I say this concept is wishful thinking more than it should be. Bibliophiles will need to spend some time undoing whatever it is that made you think it was okay to put a period outside of a quotation mark, or dangle prepositions, or misplace modifiers. Readers who learn grammar will unfortunately be utterly ruined for reading after some of the mystery of untangling language is revealed.

But, wait! Now writers who are qualified to know when it’s okay to break the rules will be inducted into the secret society of those who can break them well. You may not have even noticed the number of times I begin a sentence or a paragraph with a conjunction.  What you won’t know is how many adverbs and modifiers I removed or the tenses or plurals I adjusted in my self-edit, and that’s as it should be. Don’t be one of those authors who argue with their editor about how so-and-so author broke this-and-such rule. Don’t bother to hire an editor if you know everything. If you’re smart enough to know that you don’t know everything, you’ll be admitted to the inner circle of knowing when it’s okay for YOU to break the rules. Because writers who read know general rules, they see patterns. A single paisley flower in a plaid weave sticks out. So does your attempt to change points of view or use the wrong tense. These errors make writers look bad. It can affect your

  1. Natural marketing and networking.


If you ask for endorsements or reviews from authors you respect, but are turned down or get a bad review, readers are not inclined to spend money on a product they don’t think they will enjoy. They won’t tell others to buy the book, or worse, will tell others how bad it is. Word of mouth will always be the best marketing for any product or service. Authors who read should talk about what we’re reading and something about why we like it or think others will like it. We recommend books to book clubs, our friends, and our circles of influence. Those of us who teach use your work as material in our talks and workshops.

  1. Reading also shows us how to do Market Analysis for our own work. Reading other books like ours and comparing our work helps define our readership. And finally, reading authors
  2. Help other authors with a REVIEW! Review books on as many social and publisher’s sites as you can. Use your name and website link. Reviewing is a great service networking with other authors and their readers.

Ultimately, our goal as Authors should be that we are Read. If all you want is to be published, that’s a pretty small niche. Anyone can get published these days. Any writer can write. An author shares a gift that multiplies and enlarges a reader’s spirit.


Photos within the post are licensed by Creative Commons and free to reprint for personal and commercial use. They are courtesy of Pixabay.





After being left at the altar, Ivy Amanda McTeague Preston uproots herself and her cat, an Egyptian Mau named Memnet, from her boring and lonely life to start over at the urging of Mayor Conklin, a fellow pedigreed Mau owner.
Ready to move in a fresh direction, Adam Thompson, accepts the mayor’s invitation and uproots himself and his beloved Mau, Isis, to open a branch of his trendy bookstore and coffee shop in the small town.
When Ivy takes a mysterious message while the mayor is away on business, only her criminology professor mom and Adam believe there’s something rotten in Apple Grove. Then Ivy discovers the community grant money that Adam was allotted to start the store is mysteriously being siphoned off, a dead body surfaces, and the victim’s missing Mau becomes the primary suspect. . .just another day in Ivy’s far-from-boring new life.
In love with Apple Grove and with Adam, Ivy hopes to carry on their romance while saving the town from further mayhem.



Ebook release is January 25, 2019; Print release is February 1, 2019; Hardcover Large Print release is May 8, 2019


Barnes and Noble

Pelican Ventures, LLC



Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin author who loves books, collects dragons, and writes inspiring fiction. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater, and loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa is a member of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association, the Chicago Writer’s Association, and vice president/instructor for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. She is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor.









#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Lisa Lickel

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and the winning post was by


Congrats to both winners!


#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Who’s Your Favorite Winners

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Comment on this post for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Each commenter will be entered, and the FAVORITE GUEST POST will win one as well.


* Voting open through 7 January.


I’ve had 21 guest posts this year on NEW WEEK NEW FACE and it’s time for you, MY READERS, to vote on your favorite. So here, in no particular order—just kidding, in chronological order—are my guest posts this year.


15 January                   Carrie Schmidt


22 January                   Murray Pura


05 February                 Ginger Solomon


12 February                 Peter Leavell


19 February                 Lisa Lickel


26 February                 Stephenia McGee


12March                      Robin Patchen


19 March                     Melinda Inman


2 March                       Melissa Wardwell


7 May                          Linda Rodante


14 May                        Becca Puglisi


21 May                        Lynn Dean


03 September              Jessica Baker


10 September              Kathleen Denly


24 September              Angela Ackerman


01 October                  Jennifer Hallmark


15 October                  Sarah Monzon


22 October                  Toni Shiloh


29 October                  Bethany Jett


05 November              Heather Gilbert


19 November              DiAnn Mills




I’ll tally the votes after the first of the year and post the results on Monday 14 January.



#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Who’s Your Favorite

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rem note: November is brought to you by the number FORTY—because my firstborn turns forty this month.

40 Writing Tips for the Extraordinary Writer

Writers today search for tips to help them move forward in the craft. The following are 40 ways to sharpen your writing tools.


  1. Pray for your writing ministry
  2. Read in the genre you are writing
  3. Read a craft how-to book each month
  4. Read a marketing book each month
  5. Study the bestsellers like a text book
  6. Study daily a blog about the craft
  7. Study daily a blog about branding, social media, marketing and promotion
  8. Establish a daily writing schedule and stick to it
  9. Establish goals for every area of your writing career and analyze quarterly
  10. Analyze your career quarterly and make changes if necessary
  11. Participate in a writer’s group, either online or face to face
  12. Invest in a professional writer’s conference
  13. Invest in time and knowledge to raise your visibility in the publishing world
  14. Invest in text to voice software
  15. Invest in techniques to learn effective speaking
  16. Learn your genre and be an expert
  17. Learn Facebook and post regularly
  18. Learn Twitter and post regularly
  19. Learn how to blog effectively and do it
  20. Learn how to Instagram and post regularly
  21. Use your knowledge and expertise on social media to help and encourage others.
  22. Use the 80/20 rule in posting on social media.
  23. Use a scheduling tool for social media posts
  24. Use an app to check grammar on all writing projects
  25. Mentor a serious writer who needs assistance
  26. Edit everything you write before pushing Send.
  27. Follow social media experts online
  28. Follow writers online and post to them
  29. Follow editors and publishing houses online
  30. Develop a data base for libraries
  31. Develop your brand
  32. Schedule events not book signings
  33. Visit bookstores and introduce yourself to manager or PR person.
  34. Request permission to take photos with store owners and librarians. Post and tag on social media
  35. Create a spreadsheet for blog posts
  36. Create a social media library for all platforms
  37. Create a street team.
  38. Give back more to your street team than you expect from them
  39. Remember your agent and editor(s) on special occasions
  40. Remember your marketing and promotion team on special occasions


There you are! 40 tips to help you move forward in your writing career. What tip can you give that’s not mentioned above?



DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?


Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, or any of the social media platforms listed at diannmills.com



#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, DiAnn Mills, 40 Writing Tips for the Extraordinary Writer

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rem note: November is brought to you by the number FORTY—because my firstborn turns forty this month.

Four Life Lessons You’ll Likely Learn by Forty


I had every intention of finding an original angle for Robin’s series highlighting the number 40. But here’s the thing, friends: in January I turn 38. Forty is tip-toeing behind me like Snidely Whiplash, the creepy mustache-twirling villain from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. (Yes, before my time, but the best iconic villain that sprang to mind.) Do you see age as a threat? I actually don’t – not at all!

Instead of quickening my pace and trying to lose 40 around the next corner, I’m actually gearing up to throw 40 an epic welcome home party. For those of you giving your screen an I-don’t-buy-it side eye, let me explain. As I approach 40, some things are becoming crystal clear. I guess you could say, I’m finally learning some life lessons my younger self wasn’t capable of understanding.


Here are four lessons you’ll likely learn (and celebrate learning) by the time you turn 40:

  1. You’ll never have all the answers. In my 20s I got married, earned an advanced degree, and my husband and I bought a home. We were crushing this life thing! Fast forward a few years and my 30s included selling a home during the biggest recession in my lifetime, realizing my student loans could follow me to my grave, and raising a baby. (There’s nothing like having a child to make you realize how little you know.) Now at 38, I’ve not only accepted the fact that I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve embraced the not-knowing. It’s not our calling to know everything. There is real freedom in acknowledging the answers aren’t always ours to have.
  2. The little things are really the big things. I used to be slightly obsessed with creating picture-perfect birthday parties, Instagram-worthy holiday meals, and other grand gestures to fill our life scrapbooks. And while all of those things are wonderful, as 40 approaches I’m realizing that it’s the moments without any kind of spotlight that stand out to me the most: lying next to my 10 year-old singing the same lullaby I sang to her in her nursery, unwrapping Christmas ornaments and remembering the story behind each one, holding my husband’s hand during worship at church. It’s the day-in-day-out moments that really make a lifetime of memories.
  3. It really does take a village. I’m still learning this life lesson, but it’s really coming into focus as 40 draws near. You’ve heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Let’s edit that to read, “It takes a village to live life.” Better. God created me to be an introverted, INFJ, Enneagram 4 (Google those personality types if you’re not sure about them). Despite my natural loner tendencies, I have been blessed beyond belief the times that I invite someone in to be a part of my village. For me, my villagers have included other moms, pastors, my daughter’s teachers, neighbors, and co-workers. When we share both the good and bad, high and low with others, I believe we live into the true Earthly experience God intends for us. It’s better than trying to prove we can go it alone.
  4. Kindness is your greatest asset/tool/weapon and believing so doesn’t make you naive. Y’all, this world is a harsh and unyielding environment. We encounter so much uncertainty, shady characters, and reasons to surrender. Yet in my almost 40 years on this planet, I’ve never felt more empowered than when I chose to be kind. Genuine kindness diffuses hate, prejudice, disappointment, hopelessness, loneliness, and despair. When drawn like a sword, I dare say kindness could avoid war and eventually alleviate rampant poverty. Someone once told me that this belief was naivety on my part. I may not have all the answers, choose to revel in the little things, and surrender to my own limitations and need to accept help. I am also 100% convinced that understanding my superpower is kindness and can be used as a renewable energy to fight all sorts of evil this side of heaven makes me more confident than in my teens, 20s, and 30s.


With each month I inch closer to 40, I pray that these lessons burn deeper into my heart. I pray that for you, too, no matter your age. We’re being refined, you and I, sometimes by fire and sometimes by gentle rolling waves. Whether the refining force is chaotic or gentle, I welcome the lessons that mold me into God’s image a little more every day.

Here’s to 40!




Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina now living in Nashville. When not working as a communications/graphic design professional, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. Her debut novel, Someplace Familiar is available here. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications. Teresa loves Jesus, coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings!

Get to know Teresa more online…

Website: https://teresatysinger.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teresatysingerauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teresatysinger/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tmtysinger




#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Teresa Tysinger, Four Life Lessons You’ll Likely Learn by Forty

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rem note: November is brought to you by the number FORTY—because my firstborn turns forty this month.


On Hitting Forty…and Beyond


When Robin asked if I could share a blogpost on the number forty, of course my thoughts slid to my age. Let’s just say that when I hit forty, I immediately felt it. I hadn’t realized how much I’d enjoyed my thirties until my final day of that delicious decade slid right by me!

The truth is, when I was growing up, I looked forward to getting older. I wanted all that experience and wisdom…because I knew I’d be a better writer for it. My husband always joked that I was crazy for wanting to be old.

But then age started sneaking up on me. A few lines around the eyes, more than a few white hairs, and plenty of other signs I wasn’t a spring chicken anymore. When my forties hit, they hit like a heavy-laden freight train. I wished I could run the other way!

And then, when I was 42, God had a little surprise plan for me. At that point, my three teenage children (who were stair-stepped in grades—so a senior, junior, and sophomore at the time) were becoming quite independent. My husband and I had more time for dates and we were enjoying our new freedom. But God opened our eyes and showed us that we needed to step in and foster a little girl.

That little girl was two and a half years old.

This year, I turned 44, and praise the Lord, this February, that little girl became our daughter. There are forty years separating her age and my own. Some days I feel like the oldest mom on the planet (I know I’m not). But then she calls me “Momma” and puts her little hand on my face and says, “I love you” and I know I’m capable of being there for her the same way I was for my other children, so many years ago.

Turns out, my forties will be memorable in ways I never saw coming—ways I’ll always be grateful for.

But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to stop coloring my hair just yet!



HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.” Find out more at heatherdaygilbert.com.







#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Heather Gilbert, On Hitting Forty… and Beyond

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When Life is a Struggle, Look for This.


God always comes through in hard times. We all have story after story about how something bad happened and then God.

Then. God.

What a wonderful phrase I heard once in a Beth Moore Bible study.

I love “then God” moments, Rely on them, actually.

But recently I had a “God, then…” moment and I realized that sometimes He cushions our hearts before a fall. And merciful Father that He is, still picks us up and holds us through it.

Like when your husband deploys.

Deployment is like mixing up all your worst nightmares, tossing in some anxiety and sadness, and spreading the remaining energy and time so thin it will seemingly crack under the slightest pressure.

However, when God made military wives, He instilled them with the spidey-superpowers of resiliency, passion, and determination. Spiderwebs are magnificent creations. “A spider’s web is silky, beautiful and fragile, but it’s stronger than steel on a pound-for-pound basis. The strands soften or stiffen, depending on the situation. Paradoxically, when a strand breaks, the web becomes stronger, not weaker. The beauty is in the design.”[i]

That’s the beauty of our design.

It’s God’s strength that defeats the enemy’s attacks on every level. Like when the car breaks down, the paycheck arrival date changes without notice, or your checking account gets hacked and since it’s your husband’s card, the bank wants to talk to him, except he’s six million miles away with no internet service and you both forgot to fill out power of attorney paperwork.

You know. Things like that.

Or maybe your health takes a nosedive, or someone gets sick, the house floods, nothing works, everything breaks, and you think you’re about to lose your mind.

Then God.

But sometimes, “God, then…”

One afternoon my kids and I were running late to get to the gym. Being behind schedule drives me crazy and yet even when I plan for the inevitable, something still comes up and we’re fifteen-minutes behind instead of fifteen-minutes early.

This particular day, we’re about thirty-minutes behind. We arrive, I sign the kids into the childcare area, and before heading to the treadmill, I went to the locker room. I sat on one of the benches, inhaled the chlorine-filled air, and enjoyed this beautiful few minutes where I could hide momentarily from life.

Instinctively, I checked my phone for any messages from my husband.


Then I heard a familiar song, the notes swirled around me like Elsa on her frozen castle top and the lyrics washed over me like golden caresses straight to my heart.

Justin used to sing “When I See You Smile” by Bad English to me when we’d peruse the grocery store aisles and would belt it in the car when it came up on his iPod playlist. While it was not my first choice for our first dance as husband and wife, it became the only choice, and this beautiful wonderful song that I typically only hear when I watch our wedding video on our anniversary played through the speakers.

And I wept.

And I thanked God for His gentleness and His goodness. If I hadn’t been thirty-minutes behind schedule, I wouldn’t have been in the locker room when the song played. Or maybe God timed the song to play when I got there. Either way, I felt His fingerprints all over the situation and I silently praised Him with my tears.

The wave of sadness left me. I wiped my eyes, got on the treadmill, and started my workout.

Fifteen-minutes later, I receive a suspicious activity bank alert. Over $500 has left our account using my husband’s card number. Justin can’t be reached and I wait for the rush of overwhelming anxiety to hit.

But it doesn’t.

I was prepared.

God came through. I was able to work with the bank and the security team was incredible and supportive. We got our money back with very little hassle, because then God. But this time the incident was bookmarked with a “God, then…”

He knew when I went into that locker room for a quick respite that the hackers were already in our account.

He knew the bank alert was coming.

He knew my day was about to be turned upside-down for a few hours.

And He knew my heart was already raw and lonely and overwhelmed, so He cushioned the upcoming frustration with the one song that reminded me of how in love I am with my husband. Yet in a much stronger sense, it was the one song that reminded me of how much God loves me.

And God loves you.

Let us never take the “God, then…” moments for granted because I know now that I’ve missed lots of them, mistaking them for nice things that happened or not recognizing their significance at all.

“The LORD is near the brokenhearted,” Psalms 34 says.

If your heart is hurting today, I pray that God reveals to you the big and small ways that He’s next to you, holding you, and providing you with spiderweb-like resilience so that when one small part of your world breaks, the rest of it becomes stronger. When life is a struggle, look for the “God, then…” moment and know that He’s got this and He’s got you.



Bethany is a military spouse, momma-of-boys, suspense-novel junkie who describes herself as “mid-maintenance” and loves cute shoes and all things girly. Download her free 30-day #LiveBrilliant Checklist here.


Connect with her at BethanyJett.com and across all major social media platforms:

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn: @bethanyjett | Twitter: @betjett | Pinterest: @thebethanyjett




Photo Credit (spiderweb)

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash


Photo Credit (book meme)
Photo by jill111 on Pixabay

[i] Jett, Bethany. The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After (Kindle Locations 1218-1220). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.



Bethany is giving away the perfect stocking stuffer: a signed copy of The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After which is “is a beautiful and compelling look at what it means to be a daughter of the King and bride of Christ” according to Nicole O’Dell, author and founder of CHOOSE NOW Ministries. Get your copy today.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment for Bethany. Tell us a “Then God” moment you’ve experienced. Giveaway closes Sunday 4 November at midnight, EST.



#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Bethany Jett, Then God



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“Family not only need to consist of merely those whom we share blood, but also for those whom we’d give blood.”
― Charles Dickens


“Merry Christmas!” Deuce shouted with delight as he pounced on Quinton’s stomach.

Q gasped for air. “My stomach, Deuce!”

“Sorry, Daddy.” Deuce wiggled off of him and laid next to Q’s side. “Are you going to lay here all morning?”

“No.” Q shook his head. “I was just thinking.” He would be meeting Kendall’s mom for the first time and couldn’t shake the worry of making a good impression.

“Thinking about your presents?”

“No,” he chuckled. He stared down at his son, loving the innocence and joy that shone on his face.

“Thinking about Christmas dinner?”

“Kind of.” Because Kendall and her mom would be joining them.

“I like the presents more than the food.”

No kidding. “You mean you don’t want to eat any candied yams?”

Deuce looked up at him. “Is that the orange stuff with the marshmallows?”

“It is.”

“Okay. I like the food too.” Deuce patted his belly then peered up at him. “But you can’t play with it, just the toys.”

“How do you know you’re getting toys?”

Deuce rolled his eyes. “You always get me toys.” He frowned. “Right?”

“Sometimes I get you books.”

“Don’t do that this year.” Deuce shuddered. “Ms. Kendall probably bought me some.”

Q smiled against his son’s head. “She might have.” He loved how much the two got along.

“Do you think she’ll like our present?” Deuce squeezed Q’s arm in a hug.

“I think so.”

“Good, because we can’t keep a bookshelf. No room.” Deuce sat up, kneeling on the mattress. “I think we should go open presents.”

“Gran and Grandpa are probably still sleeping.”

“Nuh uh. Gran is cooking.”

Q sniffed the air. Huh. He could smell some type of bread baking. Guess she was up. “And Grandpa?”

“Reading the newspaper in his chair.”

“Then I’ll get up.”

“And we’ll open presents?” Deuce clasped his hands in a begging motion.


“Finally!” Deuce ran out of Q’s room.


Excerpt from Deck the Shelves, part of Comfort and Joy box set, which releases tomorrow.

Kendall Jackson is the proud owner of Heartfalls’ bookstore, The Cozy Shelf. Her life is one straight out of the pages, except she’s missing that leading man. Although she has a crush on the handsome auto mechanic, Quinton Hendricks, Kendall wants an old-fashioned type of romance—the stuff swoon-worthy romance books are made of. But Quinton seems to need a little prodding.

Something about Kendall sparks hope in Quinton Hendricks that love could be his again. Only being abandoned by his ex-wife has made him cautious to the point of non-moving.

Can two people hesitant on second chances find love as they Deck the Shelves?

The third-annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present: Comfort & Joy–five Christmas Novellas.  From contemporary romance to cozy mystery and suspense, this diverse collection celebrates the comforts and joys of Christmas.

Frost HeavesA missing child. A single mom. An Alaskan trooper. There’s more to fear this winter than just the cold.

Deck the ShelvesCan a bookstore owner looking for a swoon-worthy romance and a mechanic hesitant to trust his heart find love that will last?

The Christmas Glory QuiltScrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish homestead, and a family mystery. What more can you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance?

The Ghosts of New Cheltenham:  When the ghosts of Mitchell’s past converge on those he must conjure in the present, the results become ghastly.




Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

You can find her at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.





#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Toni Shiloh,

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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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