Tuesday, May 3, 2016

God Always Keeps His Promises by Laura V. Hilton

Laura V. Hilton
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for the past year or so, you know I’ve been struggling with my oldest son. We’ve been through a lot with him, court appearances, picking him up from jail, job losses, bailing his car out of the impound yard… and so much more. A line from a song comes to mind as I write this:

It's a heartache

Nothing but a heartache

Hits you when it's too late

Hits you when you're down
(© Bonnie Tyler)

Yesterday he came home in the middle of the afternoon and said “Hi, Mom. I’m moving out. I’m getting some of my things now, will be back for the rest later.” And he did. Where he moved to, I don’t know. My younger son gives him a week before he calls in trouble. Because the friend he moved in with has a warrant out for his arrest. (Probably why I don’t know where they are living!)

I’ve been praying—well, we all have: the whole family and our church family—for our son to come to Jesus. To make wise decisions. To think before he acts… and right now it seems for naught. My heart is broken. I cried after he left. I wanted so much more for the boy than this. But God pointed me to this verse. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I trained him up the way he should go. I had him in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and in Bible clubs. He memorized scriptures and won awards. Even now he can quote Bible to anyone. I homeschooled him with strong biblically-based curriculum. And yet… Satan wanted my firstborn. Satan got my firstborn.

As I write this I'm struggling with doubt that God will keep His promise. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. My heart is crying out for this promise to be kept now! Not when he is old.

And I’m trying to remember promises God has kept.

He forgave my sins. Every one.
He healed my diseases. Every one.
He redeemed me from Hell. Saved my life!
He crowned me with love and mercy.
He wrapped me in goodness.
God makes everything come out good. He puts victims back on their feet.
Psalm 103:2-6

As David did, before going to fight Goliath, he remembered the times God fought for him. He killed a lion and a bear! He remembered that before going to fight Goliath. And he reminded the Israelites: “Remember whose you are!”

I don’t know what Goliaths you’re facing in your life, but join with me in remembering the times God has fought for you and kept His promises. Let’s go to the trophy room and thank God for His faithfulness before facing this new giant.

Remember whose you are!

Lord God, sometimes it seems as though life is nothing but a heartache. The troubles come in waves. Crashing in on us relentlessly. Hits us when it’s too late. Hits us when we’re down. Please comfort us in this time of adversity. Help us to remember Your promises and the times You have already proved that You are able, that You do care, You do hear, and You will answer again—in Your time. Thank You for this reminder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the Author

About the Author

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and three of their children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Laura also has two adult children.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard, and The Bird House in September 2015. See below for information on Laura's latest, The Amish Firefighter. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Connect with Laura
visit her blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/ & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Laura_V_Hilton or @Laura_V_Hilton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

The Amish Firefighter
by Laura V. Hilton

The Amish Firefighter

A Beautiful Young Woman Banished from Home
Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she'd never heard about, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She's desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody's making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn't seem willing to help.

A Brave Firefighter with an Agenda of His Own
Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a doctor-in-training. When local barn fires escalate, everyone suspects arson. And since the Miller family are among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam.

A Kindled Flame Neither One Could Have Anticipated
When their paths first cross, at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warmth of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or extinguish. And they'll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

Monday, May 2, 2016

When is Self-Promotion TOO MUCH?

I once heard a wonderful speaker (and if I could remember who she was, I’d give her a shout-out here … but I am so sorry to admit that I don’t) on the topic of self-promotion. She said something that made me laugh. And because the visual tickled me, it stuck with me. It went something like this:

“Do you love to go fishing? Me too. But do you think fishing would be any fun at all if the fish jumped out of the lake on their own and smacked you in the face? Uh-uh. I don’t think so.”

It’s a really good analogy, I think, regarding author self-promotion. While I know my many writer friends who’ve tossed their hands in the air at traditional publishing and started putting out books on their own don’t enjoy hearing this from me, I’ve heard readers express their irritation at being “smacked in the face” more times than I could count. One tweet after another begins to feel like more of an assault than an invitation to read someone’s book. Five or six Facebook posts each and every day about your book, its reviews, how crazy readers are if they don’t click on something, access something, enter something … None of it negates the importance of making a simple and genuine connection between author, reader, and book. In the bigger picture, it doesn’t do all that much to sell copies anyway. And wasn’t that the purpose of all that effort?

If I haven’t offended you or turned you off completely yet:  Good on you! I hope you’ll continue to read. Why? Because self-promotion – although imperative in today’s publishing culture, especially for those opting out of traditional contracts – is a delicate balance that has to be learned through experience and focus. And also because if you do it wrong, you risk alienating the very readers you want to attract.

Ask any best-selling author how he/she became so successful, and I can guarantee you their answer will not involve canned-text tweets and twelve posts a day containing links to buy their books. Instead, the answer you’ll likely get will revolve around tenacity, consistency, commitment, and a true and authentic connection with potential readers.

I’ve put together a few helpful tips for those navigating these waters:

  1. Do NOT make every tweet, post, and blog about buying your book. Instead, share a little bit of yourself and your life with readers. Connect with them, entertain them a little, and give them the chance to think you might have something to say in your books that will do the same.
  2. The typical launch cycle for a book is a window of about two months: a month before and a month after the release date of the book. Limit the “big pushes” to those two months. Send more tweets, post more links to buy, and tout your great reviews during that period. But use the time in between for some authenticity, some human interaction that doesn’t involve asking for anything. If readers get to know and like you, they’ll want the chance to know your characters too.
  3. While I’m no proponent of calculating out your interactions, I do really love what Michael Hyatt has to say about a Social Media Formula he's developed:  “This phenomenon is what I have come to call the 20-to-1 rule. It represents a ratio. It means that you have to make 20 relational deposits for every marketing withdrawal.” Relational deposits are so important to avoiding the pitfalls of the Me, Me, Me Show that self-promotion can become.

The bottom line of what I’m sharing with you is that you became a writer in order to ultimately engage readers. So engage them. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. Throwing sales copy at them 100% of the time will absolutely not engage them. In fact, you’ll find that it’s done the opposite when you realize how many are “unfriending” and “unfollowing” a rat-a-tat-tat barrage of promotional social media bullets.

Does the delicate balance of engaging with readers and promoting your books give you nervous flutters?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Author/Editor Sandra D. Bricker
SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rear view mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she was also named ACFW’s 2015 Editor of the Year for her work as managing editor of Bling! Romance, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Sara Ella's Journey to Publication

Sara Ella
Today we have a special treat—something a little different. Author Sara Ella writes for young adults, and with her bubbly personality, she’s created a variety of fun videos for her audience. Today, we get a taste as she shares her personal journey to publication. Her approach to reaching potential readers inspires me to think about ways I might be more imaginative. To watch additional videos, please visit Saras website or YouTube channel.  
Enjoy! ~ Dawn


If you’re unable to see the video because you’re receiving this post via e-mail, please click here. It will take you to the actual post. Thanks!


Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

Once upon a time, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is far more swoony than any cartoon character could ever be. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away” for those who put their faith in the King of kings.

You can learn more and connect with Sara at the following online sites:


Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Most Cherished Lesson by Mischelle Creager

I'm pleased to welcome my friend Mischelle Creager back to Seriously Write. When I first asked Mischelle about visiting with us, she sent me two posts to see if either would work. They were both terrific so I scheduled her for two visits! I hope you'll run over to Amazon and download The Rose and The Thorn. It's free and it is the first book in her MacPherson Brides Books.

Like most writers, I can say that I have learned a lot of lessons about life since I started this journey—things like discipline, balancing my writing and the other parts of my life (especially time with my family), rejection, and so many other things. But the lesson that I am most thankful for is one I learned as I finished a certain scene in the first book of my MacPherson Brides series.
To better understand the situation you need to know that for me, many things changed after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. While I don’t need to go into all the details, I will say that before that day, life was bright and exciting. After that day, things turned dark. Things got worse when on Mother’s Day we visited the site as the employees (my husband worked there) and their families were allowed inside the fence to lay wreaths by department at the base of the ruble. As we left, a single bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

Sometime later on a Sunday night at church, the song leader led “Amazing Grace. I had a flashback to the time at the site—the sights, the smells, the sounds. When I was leaving the building, the preacher touched my arm, tipped his head toward the auditorium, and asked “What happened in there?” I explained. The next time we started to sing that song, I froze and started counting the bumps on the upholstery on the back of the pew in front of me. I got to where I was afraid to go to church, not knowing when we would sing that song again. This went on for over a year. Thankfully, at a survival workshop, a therapist helped me work through the situation and “Amazing Grace” has become one of my favorite hymns.

Now to the lesson, when I was writing the first book of the series, I had a character who had gone through a very abusive marriage. In church one morning, she connects what is going on there (the words of the song/sermon) with the abuse in her marriage. I wrote what she had gone through—her pain, her flashback, how she had to count the stitches on the shawl the lady in front of her wore to take her mind off the remembered horrors. When I finished the scene, I looked at it and dropped my head. For the first time, I thanked God for what I had gone through after the bombing, for the ability to understand such pain, to know that He allowed me to go through what I had so I’d be able to reach out to others who would need those words of understanding of their pain.

Thank you, God, for knowing what we need and being with us as we go through the growing pains that prepare us for the life You have for us.
Mischelle Creager writes inspirational historical romances set in the mid-1800s. She's not sure which she loves more--researching or writing. When she's not doing one of those two things, she can probably be found reading or baking. She love to share her historical research and has a website Under The Attic Eaves, filled with tidbits she's found in books written in the 19th Century. She also "reprints" a historical magazine, Worbly's Family Monthly Magazine, filled with items from books and magazines published in the middle of the 1800s. You can visit these two sites at http://undertheatticeaves.com/ and http://worblysmagazine.com.
If you would like to know more about Mischelle, please visit her author website at http://mischellecreager.com.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You, Too, Can Be An Organized Writer by Edwina Cowgill

Edwina Cowgill
Productivity means organization, and organization comes when we ... well, let Edwina Cowgill give you a few tips to help you makes the most of your daily tasks. -- Sandy

Edwina: I’ve always said I inherited my organizational skills from my dad. But that’s not really true. Organizational skills are not inherited. They can be learned and implemented in every area of our life – even, and most importantly, in our writing.

I am convinced that the more organized we are, the more productive we are. And the more productive we are, the more time for our family. I’m sure I’m “preaching to the choir” (hmmm, that’s one of those pesky clich├ęs) but it never hurts to be reminded of a few organizational techniques. Perhaps if you are one of those people who think you can never be organized, maybe these simple suggestions will be a starting point for you.

  1. The Clean Machine: Before you do any writing, make sure the area where you write is empty of everything, except what you need in order to write. I can hear some of you hysterically laughing now! It’s really quite simple. Assign a place for everything that is currently on your desk. Make files for all of the different topics and file the related paperwork. Anything else on your desk that will distract you: hide it. When you sit down at your desk, you want to be able to totally focus on nothing but your writing.

  2. Schedule your writing time! We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating: Schedule your writing time. Whatever time of the day that works best for you that’s when you need to write. Put it on your calendar, in your iPhone, whatever you use. Be sure to write it on the family calendar. Doing that allows everyone in the family to know that those days/times are your sacred writing time.
  3. Lists, lists and more lists! My family says that I have so many lists, that I have to have a list of all the lists I have! I’m not quite that bad, but I am a firm believer in lists. One of the best tools of organization is what I’ve termed the “roll-over list.” No matter where you work, this list is a lifesaver! At the end of the day, make a list of everything that you need to accomplish the following day. Be sure you “roll-over” what you didn’t finish that day to the next day.
  4. Who’s on First? Once you have your list(s) made, look them over and decide what items are priorities and which ones can rollover to another day. Don’t take those items off of today's list because you want them there as a reminder; just realize that you probably won’t get to them the next day. Number the items in order of priority. You don’t have to rewrite the list, unless you’re a perfectionist, like yours truly. Just put a number beside each item and you’re ready for tomorrow. This system also works well at home!
  5. Your Best Friend There are many more organization tips but here’s one of my favorite: when crunch time comes, and it will, be sure you have the Colonel’s phone number on speed dial!

Do you have something to add to this list? What is your best tip for organizing your day?

About the Author

Edwina has been writing since her teenage years, but began seriously pursuing her writing career in 2008. She has written 600+ blogs for her blog site: www.musingsofedwina.com. She has had a number of articles published in various media outlets and websites and three short stories that were included in anthologies published in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. She is currently working on her memoir that will be published later this year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mapping Encouragement by Emily Conrad

Plants like six-inch tall Truffula trees lined the trail I hiked in the Canadian Rockies. I paused to snap pictures then continued to a mountain lake and on to a tree-sheltered meadow of poppy red, gold, and white wildflowers. 

After that, the inclines became steeper—or maybe my legs were fatigued. Distant mountains disappeared into mist that swallowed scenery closer and closer to me. Soaking rain was moving in. I consulted the map and hurried to shelter.

That hike resembles the writing life. Wonders dot the journey, but it also has its share of uphill stretches, fatigue, and difficulties. Then a storm rolls in, showering us with doubt and worry, and we need a map to guide us to an emotional shelter.

Whether you’ve just started your writing journey or you’re miles down the trail, pausing here to chart an encouragement map will help prepare you for whatever waits around the next bend.

Step 1 – Choose your format

Maps come in all forms—phone GPS to globes. Likewise, an encouragement map can be a physical file, an electronic document, or a series of sealed envelopes. I chose to create a document on my desktop titled “Click Here.”

Step 2 – Add a compass rose

As Christian writers, the Bible is our ultimate compass. Save some Bible verses that will speak to you in times of discouragement. My document includes Luke 1:45 and Isaiah 50:4.

Step 3 – Outline the basic landmarks.

Mine your archives for positives from friends, readers, critique partners, or contest judges. If you’re newer, look for encouragement from family to take the leap into writing or a blog post that inspired you to write in the first place. Your own journal might have something encouraging or insightful to keep you going in tough times. Anything that reminds you of where you’re going and why can go into your map.

Step 4 – Add detail

When you receive encouraging words, take a moment to type or paste them into your file. The more the merrier!

Step 5 – Provide Maps for your Friends

Don’t just collect encouragement; spread praise around. It’ll build a stronger community of writers around you, and yours may be the word that keeps someone going through their own valley.

Step 6 – Read the Map

On those days when you’re not sure why—or if—God called you to write, go to your file. Jesus is there for you in the Bible verses, reminding you of true north. Your friends, family, and co-journeyers are there, too, cheering you along the trail. 

Writing takes us through some rough country. This calling, this opportunity to be used by God in a hurting world, is too valuable a thing to lose to the wilderness of discouragement. Chart your map now. Tuck it in your pack, and carry it until you need it. 

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What has encouraged you along the writing journey?

About the Author
A Thing of Beauty by Emily Conrad

Emily Conrad's short stories are included in the anthologies A Bit of Christmas: 6 Christian Short Stories Celebrating the Season (Dec, 2015) and Sweet Mountain Love (upcoming, mid-2016). Her novel-length women's fiction is represented by Steven Hutson of WordWise Media. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and EmilyConradAuthor.com.


A Thing of Beauty

From a childhood spent in the shadow of her beautiful sister, artist Naomi knows true beauty is deeper than outward appearances. But when Naomi's relationship with her boyfriend, Emmerich, is challenged in unexpected ways, coping means moving beyond a definition of beauty and discovering its ultimate source.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Author By Night by Mary Manners

Author By Night

By Mary Manners
Often during the course of conversation the inevitable question arises, “How long have you been writing?” Well, I’m quick to respond that I was born this way…with a pencil in my hand.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t write. In fact, my earliest memory consists of me sitting on the floor beside the washing machine in my family’s laundry room and scribbling (I didn’t yet know how to read or form words, but I could certainly scratch across the paper) because I had a story in my head that just had to come out and be shared.
Since that day, I have never stopped writing. To me, writing is as essential to life as breathing. I am convinced that, prior to the use of my trusty laptop, I killed a forest of trees on my quest to record all of the stories woven through my brain and my heart.
I wrote my first full-length novel in the sixth grade. Thanks to my supportive parents and a few wonderful teachers who encouraged me along the way, my fledgling confidence flourished and I figured I’d be published by the time I turned thirteen (after all, S.E. Hinton had managed a similar feat with her acclaimed and edgy young adult novel, The Outsiders). God had other plans, though, and many years (and countless edits) would pass before that first novel finally became published as Wisdom Tree.
My life journey has led me to many destinations, including a three-decade career in education. I first spent several years working with special needs children before settling into teaching middle school math (go figure…the writer teaching algebra and loving it) and am currently seated as an intermediate school principal with six-hundred adorable and rambunctious children in my care. Add to that a loyal husband and beautiful daughter, and to say I juggle daily responsibilities is a gross understatement. But, what’s life without a boxcar’s worth of adventure tossed into the mix?
So, when do I manage to write? I pen my stories in the morning, when the rest of the world is sleeping and at night…when the rest of the world is sleeping. My official work day begins at six A.M., so I wake at three to write. My day-job ends at five (on a good day) and I’m happy to say my husband loves just about everything sports-related, so following a daily walk together and then dinner, I write while he yells at the TV. We have fun while we make it work and I’m blessed by his support.
Along the way, day-by-day, I keep writing and breathing…and writing some more. I never leave home without a pad of paper and a pencil. I am a walking, juggling journal. Thirty-six books later, the journey continues. Along with the writing has come on-the-job training in editing (love it) and marketing (not so much). I have decided that sleep is overrated and coffee should be certified as a food group.
All joking aside, God has been good to me and I pray that my writing glorifies Him. I strive to share the message of hope and grace in all I write. Does that mean my characters never struggle? No. Does it mean they are human? Yes (um, really…they are). Does it mean through God all things are possible? Yes, I truly believe it is so.
So, I write and I will continue writing as long as I am breathing. After all, the two go hand-in-hand.
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Neyland and Gus. She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.
Mary believes everyone has a story to tell, and she loves to share hers. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.
Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.

Sometimes the last thing we think we need is exactly what God has planned...

After the death of his parents, Jake Samuels has enough on his plate—including a fledgling church to lead and a mischievous younger brother to raise. The last thing he needs is a rambunctious woman to contend with.

Carin O'Malley is dealing with the death of her brother and a new job as an English teacher at East Ridge Middle School where Corey Samuels reigns as King of Chaos. The last thing she needs is to fall in love with a man...especially a handsome and complicated preacher like Corey’s brother Jake.

But when Corey's antics toss Carin and Jake together, the two must draw from God’s wisdom to find refuge in His perfect plan for them.