Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Running the Race by Laura V. Hilton

Laura V. Hilton
Right now (when I’m writing this) we are right in the middle of National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo). Writers all over the nation (maybe world) are writing crazy amounts of words every day, trying to finish an entire novel in a month.

Rough draft form, of course.

Writers are encouraged not to go back and edit. Not to fix mistakes, not to worry about telling versus showing or point of view, just get it on paper.

I have never participated in NaNoWriMo for several reasons. One reason (and probably the most important!) is that I don’t have time. I’m a mother of five, I homeschool, I’m a wife, etc etc etc. I can’t put life on hold, check out of a busy household and write without interruption for a month. No way, no how.

But another reason is that I’m a perfectionist. I like to go back and edit as I write. I’m compelled to do so, by my inner muse. I don’t write rough drafts, when I finish the book it is ready to go to the publisher, because I edit as I write.

The apostle Paul mentions running the race that is set before us: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

In those verses, Paul makes a passing reference to “the cloud of witnesses.” Sure, Paul himself is going to be in that crowd some day, when we make our victory lap. Some of your favorite Bible heroes are going to be there; your loved ones will be there as well, cheering you on.

But that’s really all it is. It’s a passing reference. Because our eyes aren’t supposed to be on them. They aren’t supposed to be even on the course, itself.

Our eyes are supposed to be on Jesus.

The apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers to a life of excellence:
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

And in his letter to the Colossians, Paul exhorts the readers of his letter:
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)

Our focus, on whatever we say, or do, or even think, is supposed to be on the Lord God Almighty, and on our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are running for His glory; our rewards are going to come from Him.

But don’t do it for the rewards alone. Don’t even run the race primarily for the rewards, or to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Yeah, that’s going to be so awesome!

Finishing with another passage from Paul,
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. “ 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NKJV)

Because when you cross that finish line, and you receive that reward, you are bringing glory and honor to your Heavenly Father.

I don’t know about you, but that’s motivation enough for me to run as hard as I can, for as long as I can, as best ever I can.

Because I love my Savior, my Lord, and my God. And He loves me.

I’m proud of my Heavenly Father. I want to brag on Him. I want to boast about Him. And when I cross that finish line, I’m going to be able to point to him and tell the world, “That’s my Heavenly Father. He’s the one who helped me run so well!”

Dear Lord, when I get discouraged, help me to keep pressing on. Amen.

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. 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: @Laura_V_Hilton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

The Bird House
The Bird House
by Laura V. Hilton
Twenty–year–old Greta Miller's daed has been injured in a farming accident during the summer. The supportive Amish community tries to help out, but Greta and her sister must work outside the home to make ends meet, and so Greta rents a booth at the farmers' market. Because Greta is still in her rumspringa and free to explore the world, her family selects her to sell her homemade jams, jellies, and preserves to Englischers. Josh Yoder wants to court Greta, but years ago, he made the mistake of rejecting her during a seemingly innocent game; which resulted in him leaving the Amish. Three years later, he's back, but Greta wants nothing to do with him. Josh struggles to fit in and rebuild relationships he destroyed. Knowing Greta's family needs help, he steps in, hoping to win her back. When Greta admires one of his birdhouses, he gives it to her, hoping that it will open the door to more. But as their friendship begins to grow, a series of unfortunate events pull Greta away from the Amish, leaving her rejected by those she loves. Will Greta get beyond her family's distrust and return home? Will she prove her innocence? Or will she remain outside her Amish community?

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Gift for the King by Annette M. Irby


Ah, it’s the Christmas season. Time to bring out the hot apple cider and egg nog. Time to watch your step on the sidewalks as the temperatures plummet in northern climes. And time to bring out the Christmas music. Our family enjoys listening to Pentatonix and their rendition of one of my all-time favorite songs of this season: TheDrummer Boy.

One of the best lyrics is hidden there, near the end of the song.

A poor drummer boy has no gift to carry for a meeting with the King. Others are encouraging him to bring something. He’s ashamed he doesn’t have a gift. The only thing he can offer is a song, or a rhythm, played on his drum. In this lovely fictional story, he asks Mary if she thinks it’d be all right if he just played a song for the Baby using his most prized possession: his drum. She nods, and he plays. Oh, how he plays. He gives Baby Jesus his best, heartfelt offering.

And that’s when it happens. The boy finishes playing. The stable of animals and the Baby’s family fall hushed. The drummer boy sighs. He did it. He gave his best. There’s a deep satisfaction in that, but he waits to see what will happen. How will the Baby respond? What does He do? He smiles at the boy.

When I hear that song, I look beyond the simplicity of this lovely Christmas tale/song and feel the acceptance of God. I feel His pleasure and His affirmation that when I use my talents (writing among them) for Him, when I know it’s all I can truly give (He’s given me everything; I’m only a steward, but what I create with the talents He’s given me is a true offering) and I give it from my heart, He is pleased. And I’m fulfilled.

He smiles at you too.

Write for Him.

Write for His affirmation.

Write for His kingdom.

Write for His smile.

And look up, because I believe it’s already there on His glorious face aimed directly at you. 


Her Nerdy Cowboy
Whoever heard of a bookish cowboy? When Logan McDaniel’s brother-in-law dies, he steps in to help his beloved sister run her ranch. But what does a city boy know of herding cattle? Claire Langley loved her cousin. After he dies, she agrees to serve as a temporary nanny for two heartbroken children. 

Claire and Logan find they share a love of books, and Claire can’t resist the nerdy uncle who is great with children, and who reads to her of pirate romance. Claire’s ailing mother needs her in Seattle. Can she break away? And if she does, can there ever be a future for Logan and her?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby has three published books and 
runs her own freelance editing business, AMI Editing
See her page here on Seriously Write for more information.

* Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net "djembe" by patrisyu
A version of this article first appeared on SW in 12/2011. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

My Story, Part 2—by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

After my incident with the unscrupulous agent (Part 1 of my story can be found here), I was left a little gun shy. To be perfectly honest, a little ticked, too. No one likes to be taken advantage of, and this embarrassing event forced me to learn what good agents do and don’t do.

Along the way, I also learned the business of writing novels was evolving. The pool of agents, who were touted as “agents who desire to see new authors’ works” by reputable magazines and Sally Stuart’s yearly reference work, seemed to be drying up. Instead, rejection letters stating interest in manuscripts from “already established authors” or “references from the aforementioned already established authors” seemed to be the trend. Despite my efforts at attempting to land an agent, it appeared the only thing I was accomplishing was helping to keep the United States Postal Service solvent.

Then, another evolutionary turn took place. Snail mail was replaced with email queries and submissions. This helped the budget, mind you, but it did little in way of encouragement.

Sometime later, I had read (or maybe I heard it) that the way to go was to attend writers conferences. There, at one of these forays, you could meet editors and agents face-to-face and “pitch” your work. This concept, I have to admit, turned me off for quite some time. I probably postponed my career about two years while I doggedly defied the better part of wisdom and held out from attending a conference while I kept submitting email queries.

My belief was (and don’t laugh, please) that writers conferences were just another step the Christian world had taken down the path of its secular counterpart. “Why do we always have to copy what the world does?”became my mantra. “And do I want to be a part of that?” My answer, for over two years, was, “Negative.” So, I started looking into self-publishing. I mean, if it was good enough for Mark Twain, it was good enough for me, right?

Now, remember, this was in the day when Author House wasn’t Author House. It was 1st Books. CreateSpace had not been invented by Amazon yet because Amazon had just been founded in 1994. All the other self-publishing venues were either in their infancy or still a twinkle in the eyes of their developers. I had some serious dialogue with 1st Books about A Case of Déjà Vu (my very first manuscript) and the ins and outs of publishing it with them. However, I had this feeling in my gut that this wasn’t the right path, either. This feeling was based on what I was seeing published by self-publishing houses. Let’s face it, in the early years, it wasn’t very good. That’s not to say that all the books that come through the traditional publishing routes and houses are all stellar. I’ve read some real groaners and wondered how many favors that editor must have paid off, cashed in, or collected with that one. However, my overall feelings about self-publishing, at that time, were ones of hesitancy. I always wondered if the $1,000-$2,000 I would have to spend to get my manuscript in print would be money well spent. This thought, coming on the heels of just being snookered by the bad agent, was one I was willing to think about for awhile longer.

Take out a loan for my book? Do I believe in it that much? Those were the questions of the day.

Moral of Part 2: Despite all the struggles, disappointments, frustrations, and pity parties, as a Christian writer, you have to keep your eyes on the One who called you to write in the first place. If you are not writing for Him, then you probably shouldn’t be writing (Colossians 3:23-24). 

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Website: www.ckevinthompson.com   
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com  
Kevin’s Educational Blog: www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com  
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Where He Leads...

Autumn is my favorite time of year! I enjoy all those plump pumpkins spilling over the steps of front porches, cheering for the Carolina Panthers, the sound of dried leaves crackling under my shoes, and hanging out with my family. And when the first scent of burning firewood drifts in on a brisk breeze, I know it’s time to pull out the sweaters and kiss summer farewell.

Other than the occasional allergy flare, season changes are easy for me. I’m always ready for the next one, eager to switch my shorts for long pants and vice versa. Other changes are not so simple or painless. Like sacrifices that need to be made for the sake of time. Or saying goodbye, leaving a sweet place of fellowship and friendship, because of a change in direction.

A new year is almost upon us. A fresh slate. A chance for new beginnings. But, just like the Israelites poised on the verge of entering the Promised Land, it’s also a chance to look back and give thanks for God’s blessings, His protection and provision.

We don't always like to look backwards, do we? Usually that means staring at our mistakes, our glaring failures, our regrets.

But that’s also how we realize God's goodness, His leading and guidance, and a time to reflect on His intervention and protection.

Where He led, the Israelites followed. Where He leads, I will follow.

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately, especially in regards to my writing. God's prompting me to dig deep and try new things, to release my dreams and fears to Him, to spread my wings and soar over unfamiliar waters, to reach out and love more.

What does that mean? I don't know exactly, but I trust God. If He points to a road and says, "Go that way. I want you to meet somebody," (Acts 8:26-40), who am I to argue? I'll try not to allow fear or doubt to squelch that giant swell of anticipation that's building and rising for the journey ahead. Where He leads, I will follow.

Who does God want me to connect with this year? 
Who does God want you to meet?

When I look back over the last few years, I see how God poured out love and encouragement through my friends here at Seriously Write. How He shaped and crafted me into the writer I am today through the gracious writers who so willingly shared their talent and experiences.

With a heavy but grateful heart, I say goodbye to my sweet friends at Seriously Write today with this, my last regular post. You are some of my greatest blessings. Wishing you all a glorious Thanksgiving, continued growth in your writing, and a refreshing of your spirit in 2016!

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake." Ps 23:1-3 NIV

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA and her local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. Connect with her on Seriously WriteFiction Faith & FoodiesTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Will Your Words Have An Impact? by Sandra Ardoin

We’re a nation of people who have long expressed our gratitude for our blessings by celebrating those bounties on a special day.

From our youngest years, we’re taught the Pilgrim’s story and about various harvest festivals held throughout history to show our thanks for God’s provision. These celebrations took an official, national turn in 1789 when George Washington was urged to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for the successful end to the American Revolution. This celebration continued in some form and length until the early 1800s. Then it became a scattered event with states and cities setting aside their own holidays.

But along came Sarah Josepha Hale, writer (remember “Mary Had a Little Lamb?”) and editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. Though she wasn’t a suffragist or what we might call a feminist, she was an influential woman in a time when men were considered the leaders outside the home.

Sarah advocated for years for a formal, national day of Thanksgiving. Beginning in the latter 1820s, she wrote editorials and letters to politicians urging them to make one day standard for the whole country.

Finally, in 1863, President Lincoln signed a proclamation that set aside the last Thursday of November as a time of praise to God for all He’s given us. After almost forty years, Sarah Hale was successful in her letter-writing campaign. Part of that proclamation is below:

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
From the proclamation written by William Seward and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

And what is the writer takeaway from this history lesson? Perseverance and Hope. Never give up and never believe that your words can’t affect someone else’s life. Had Sarah Hale stopped writing her letters after the first year or two, tomorrow might be just another work day.

Remember, it only takes the right person to read your words to create an eternal impact.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Will you share an experience when you learned that something you wrote impacted another person's life?


Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Become a part of her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

A Reluctant Melody releases January 2016.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three Ways to Handle A Ticking Clock

Angela E. Arndt

Since this is a week for being thankful, I thought I'd share one reason that I'm thankful this year. I'm talking about handling ticking clock moments.

Have you ever seen MacGyver? In one episode, there was a literal ticking clock counting down to the launch time of a missile aimed at MacGyver and a beautiful woman. As two unlikely heroes struggled to rescue two brilliant scientists, they also had to stem the flood of acid from reaching the water supply of Los Angeles. Of course they did it all with chocolate bars, cigarettes (he coughed as he lit them) and a cold capsule. It was a true MacGyver moment.

Life can have its own ticking clock moments. Last April, I took one of my dogs in to the veterinarian for a simple issue, never dreaming it would lead to heart surgery for me. But she took one look at me and told me to go to the doctor. I’d been having chest pain for about a year. Since chronic pain and I were old friends, I just thought it was another muscle issue. Two weeks later a team of three men repaired one of my coronary arteries with a wire, a balloon and a spring (stent). It was a scary time and I was so blessed to have a team of people all over the country praying for me.

How do you handle your stress-filled moments? How do you start when you have to meet a deadline for a contest, conference, appointment or some other writing “time bomb” that you can’t defuse? Here are some tips to help.

Do Your Research
Since I’d been having chest pain, I had a cardiologist in mind when I went to general practitioner, just in case. Gather all your materials before you start to write. Take advantage of Seriously Write. Just type your subject into the Search box in the sidebar widget, halfway down the page. You’ll find all kinds of posts to help you with your project.

Use a Professional
I’m glad a cardiologist operated on me, not a mechanic. When you’re ready to submit, have your work professionally edited, if possible. If you decide to self publish your book, have the cover designed by a professional designer. Your first book haunts you throughout your career: make it the best you can by using professionals to help.

Gather Your Support Team
When I found out that I had an 80% blockage in my heart, I called on my friends and family to pray for me. Covered in prayer, I was calm (and awake) throughout the procedure. You'll need to gather your own prayer and support team to help you after you click Send to spread the word after you're published. A successful novel is a team effort, it’s never a one-man show.

Those are my tips to de-stress a serious situation. I'd love to know: what’s your best tip to handle a ticking clock?
About the Author
Angela Arndt was a corporate trainer before health issues sidelined her. These days she’s active in her local church, ACFW and My Book Therapy. She’s a team member of Seriously Write, a regular contributor to My Book Therapy's Weekly Spark and she'd love to have you join her on her website, www.angelaarndt.com.

Angie is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She’s currently working on a series of novels set in small Southern towns. She and her husband, a beekeeper, live in the middle of a big wood outside a small town in South Carolina.