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"Seekerville" - 5 new articles

  2. The Weekend Edition
  3. The Power Of The Right Turn
  4. Turning Truth Into Fiction
  5. For Writers: Less Is Sometimes More
  6. Search Seekerville
  7. Prior Mailing Archive


Good Morning.  Sandra here with a pot of chocolate velvet coffee, Teavana teas and hot chocolate. Grab a cup and lets talk miracles.  I picked oranges and tangelos off my tree this morning and they are juicy and sweet. So please help yourself to some Arizona sunshine.

Photo A

Have you ever pursued a project or a dream and all of a sudden the people you need appear or the information you need falls into your lap? Some would call this coincidence. There are even scientific studies where they have proven that your brain tunes into things when you have a goal.  Their example showed how you decide you want a certain type of car and suddenly you are seeing that car everywhere, ads for that car, information for that car. I'm sure these rationalizations can be proven, but personally, I believe they are miracles. I believe they are divine intervention and support for my work in progress.

Photo B

Let me give you some examples.  When I finished my first draft of DREAM SONG, one of my earlier novels for Warner, I got called to give some seminars on the Navajo Reservation. The setting for DREAM SONG is Northern Arizona. Debra, the heroine, is searching for her roots. Debra was adopted by Anglo parents but her mother was Navajo. Several ladies I met at the seminar gave me some valuable assistance in developing the characters in DREAM SONG. They even offered to be beta readers which was great, as they found things that would have been inconsistent with Navajo culture. Now I had never worked on the reservation before nor since. Was that coincidence? Did I go looking for that job? No. I was asked by ASU to go because of work I had done as a teacher. But did I need that information? And was it provided in a beautiful way?  You bet.

Photo C

By the way, I'm working on getting DREAM SONG back out there. Hopefully it will be on Amazon some time this spring.

Another example: Have any of you read LOVE'S MIRACLES?  I was spending the summer at Lake Tahoe when I was writing that novel. The hero in LOVE'S MIRACLES is a Vietnam Vet dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome.  I joined the closest RWA group which was in Reno, Nevada and met a woman looking for a critique partner. Guess what her day job was? She was a psychologist at the Rena VA hospital. Now was that coincidence? Did I go looking specifically for a psychologist? No. And was I there all summer to work with her?  Remember that was written in the 80's way before the Internet and online crit partners. So what a miracle that we were able to work together because she provided me with amazing information.

Photo D

CURRENT OF LOVE was written because hubby and I went on a cruise up the Mississippi on a riverboat cruise. And being a writer I interviewed the crew and the story brewed in my mind. It was year later that I started writing this novel so I did not have contact with the crew members. The hero nearly drowned as a child so is not really happy on the water. This is why he is going with his father on a river boat cruise instead of a sea cruise. So of course, we had to have a huge storm, flooding and boat evacuation. I needed to know what they did in that situation. We were camping in our RV and guess who is camped near us? Yep. A retired river boat captain. Now is that coincidence? Did I go to an RV park to find one? Nope. But guess who provided one for me?  Yep. Our Father.

Photo E  (black and white)

My hero in my current work in progress is a retired Army Colonel.  One of the gals I play pickleball with is married to a retired Army Colonel. I have already been interviewing him and getting some great information that will ramp up my plot. Now is that coincidence? Did I go to an RV park looking for a retired colonel? And do I need to know one?  You bet.

Photo F  (sepia)

Not only do these miracles happen in my writing, but in all things related to writing. Many of you know that I signed books in November at the Scottsdale Library. Well book selling was a wash. Who goes to a library to buy books?  LOL   But God makes good out of all things. I met a publicist and since Amber was hired by a publishing house, I needed one. Nanci advised me that I need to update my photos. Well I am presently RVing in a resort on the outskirts of Tucson and its pretty isolated out there. But guess what? The RV resort features a photography club and I met Linda Needham. She took these photos and wow did we have fun. Not only did I get photos, but met a new friend. Oh yes, one of my pickleball friends is an actress and she had fun putting on the makeup and fixing my hair. (something about which I am completely hopeless)

So this brings me to the PHOTOS. Have you been thinking that I'm getting vain? Or losing it?

Photo G

These are some of the headshots. What I need is help with picking out the best ones for my profile shots. I like the black and white. (shows less wrinkles) There is the sepia.  And color shots.  Also we tried some without the glasses which looks better, but hey, I do wear glasses so what is your opinion? Should I have them on or does it really matter?

I have numbered each photo. Please pick your favorite and you will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of one of my books or your choice of an available Seeker ebook.

Also, PLEASE SHARE any miracles you've witnessed along your writing path. I love miracles. I believe in miracles. And I love hearing about them.

If you don't have any to share,  start looking for them. Seeing the big and small miracles that happen every day are what build your faith.  And they bring you joy because they are reassurances that the Lord is with you.


The Weekend Edition

As all of you know, the 20th of January was Penguin Awareness Day. This weekend we'd like to salute the penguin. Be sure to hug one today, and don't be afraid to add a penguin to your novel!

We have a jam packed Weekend Edition. Read slowly so you don't miss any giveaways!

We Have Winners

Giveaway rules can be found here. Please drop us a line to claim your giveaway at All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books!

Did you claim your giveaway from LAST WEEK?
Winners of Homestead Bride are Keli Gwyn, Wendy Newcomb and Dawn Leonard.

Winner of Mending the Doctor's Heart are Wilhani Wahl and Becky Dempsey.

 When is my manuscript done? On Monday, Seekerville welcomed back Ruth Kaufman who shared tips when she blogged with us on Monday. Becky Dempsey is the winner of an e copy of the inspirational version of At His Command.

Tuesday we were delighted to welcome Love Inspired Historical author and Indie author, Naomi Rawlings back to Seekerville with her post, "Using Real Life Trials to Grow our Writing." Chill N is the winner of her latest release, Falling for the Enemy.

Wednesday, award-winning author, Debby Giusti, talked about finding writing success, even without publication, in her post entitled, "For Writers: When Less is More." The winner of an advanced copy of Debby's March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED, is KAV. Debby also gave away five print copies of The Writer's Prayer. Those lucky winners are: Melanie Dickerson, Meghan Carver, Pat Jeanne Davis, Deanna Stevens and kaisquared. 

Seeker Tina Radcliffe sat next to an amazing woman on the flight back from the ACFW conference-Elizabeth Van Tassel. Friday she was our guest blogger with her post,"The Power Of The Right Turn." Winner of a twenty minute coaching session is DebH. Winner of a Bath and Body Works gift card is Gabrielle Meyer.

Next Week In Seekerville

Monday: Seeker Sandra  Leesmith blogs today, and she will talk about the miracles that happen when she is writing. Are they coincidence or God's perfect timing? What miracles have you noticed? Those who comment will be eligible for a a signed copy of one of her books or an available e-copy of a Seeker book of their choice.

Tuesday: Pam Hillman is your hostess on Tuesday, discussing the pros and cons of author book plates with advice on when and when not to use them. She'll be giving away a signed copy of Homestead Brides and bookplates on request!

Wednesday: Love Inspired author Seeker Glynna Kaye shares her thoughts on “Flying Through the Fog” – tips to finding your next story idea and getting it off the ground.  In anticipation of Seekerville’s March “Speedbo” challenge, Glynna will be giving away a copy of Jeff Gerke’s  Write Your Novel In a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What To do Next.

Thursday: Today we bring you The Best of the Archives and two super special giveaways so you can buy whatever wasn't under your Christmas tree.

Friday: Time for the February Contest Update. Stop by to meet our February Diva or Divo and we've also got some chocolate giveaways! 

Seeker Sightings

Love Our Readers Lunch
Kennesaw, GA
February 14, 2015 at 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Click here to purchase tickets.

Register by midnight January 25, 2015 and you'll automatically be entered to win a Kindle Fire!! *You must be present to win.*

Join us for an eclectic style lunch with NYT Bestselling Author Karen White, Missy Tippens, Meg Moseley, Lindi Peterson and Ciara Knight. This will be an intimate gathering of approximately 35 readers and five authors. You'll be able to meet ALL the attending authors!! Thank you to FoxTale Book Shoppe for being our bookseller for this event!

CHRISTIAN FICTION ROCKS!! Vote for your favorite book of 2014 in Family Fiction Magazine’s TOP TEN LIST contest and be entered to win your choice of FIVE MORE!! Check out Julie Lessman’s “Christian Fiction Rocks” giveaway HERE, and let your voice be heard! Note: You do not have to vote for Julie to enter the contest.


Just in Time for Valentine's Day! FREE DOWNLOAD of Julie Lessman’s award-winning Irish love story, A Light in the Window (178 five-star reviews on Amazon!) for five days only — February10-14, 2015, so mark your calendars now and spread the word!! And be sure to check out the ALITW video starring Julie’s daughter HERE!!

It was so much fun giving away copies of Homestead Brides with THREE Seekers in the collection of nine novellas,  that we're doing it again this week.  That's right! THREE copies to three lucky commenters this weekend. BUT YOU HAVE TO TELL US YOU WANT IT! Lots of other great authors are included in this collection. You can purchase it HERE-it releases February 1.  Winners announced in the next Weekend Ed

Random News & Information

Thanks to everyone who sent links! 

 How Are You Celebrating National Readathon Day? (GalleyCat) BTW, Seekerville is celebrating by giving away a prize package of books. Just let us know you want your name in the draw. Winner announced next Saturday.

Tweet of note: Emily Rodmell ‏@EmilyRodmell  · Jan 21 
If you don't know who you're submitting to and what they acquire, you're wasting your time. Research editors and agents before hitting send.

4 Steps to Happy Writing Productivity (Writers in the Storm)

In Defense of Editing (PJ Media) 

 Don't Start Your Story Unless You Know These 5 Things (Novel Rocket)

 4 Ways Besides Query Letters You Can Contact Literary Agents (Writers in the Storm)

The 2015 Edgar Award Nominees have been announced. 

Kindle Unlimited December payout to authors rises to $1.43 as KDP Select total royalties double (rogerpacker)

How To Set Writing Goals For The New Year In Six Easy Steps (the Future of ink)\

Two Red-Flag Sentences in Publishing Contracts (Writer Beware)

We Leave You with the  No Limits Quote of the Week: (because every step counts!)



The Power Of The Right Turn

with guest Elizabeth Van Tassel.

When life throws you a major hurdle, how do you survive, not give up, and create a memorable moment in the midst of difficulties?
Time for a break, or way past time?

After we lost our home in a wildfire, survived a season of joblessness, and walked through my son’s and husband’s significant medical emergencies, our family got pretty good at recognizing when we needed a break. Sometimes we waited too long and it felt like we had zoomed through stop signs in our path, which left us drained and exhausted. This season of great loss, punctuated with deaths and other challenges, spurred us to look within a one-to-two hour driving radius for simple outings, such as visiting museums, seeing wildflowers in the spring, trying different beaches to find our favorite one, and driving a bit to enjoy cultural opportunities.

What is a right turn?
During very stressful times, taking a right turn by creating an intentional moment is so important. It can include something small like a walk on the beach or visiting a pretty place to change the topic for a while. Eventually, we developed this saying: “We need a right turn. Let’s try…”

How can right turns help?
 When you’re surrounded by bills from a lengthy hospital stay, or mounds of paperwork, coping with the loss of a family member, or confronted yet again with a difficult situation, it’s very easy to let the problem creep into your sense of self. Like ink bleeding into fabric, the stress weeds its way into every area of your life, exerting itself, until it threatens to choke out gratitude, simplicity, joy, and fruitfulness.

It’s important is to make room for other things so you realize you’re not defined by the crisis; rather, you are walking through it. Together. Planning something to lift your spirits renews your commitment to remain a team and not be divided in how you handle the pressure.

Right turns sometimes come unexpectedly.
For several days in a row I’ve had priority interrupts (like the car dying) and found myself out of the office at unexpected times. Before our years of upheaval I’d get frustrated. Now I take a breath, and ask, “Is there anything positive in this situation?” (For example, at least it didn’t die on the freeway or hurt anyone.)

Taking time-outs for refreshment can help your family remain close in the midst of a great change. It can be a hike, baking something tempting, or seeking out someplace to let your mind rest from the trial at hand.

Time for a break, or way past time?

Right turns refill your creativity.
The right turn can also work for stagnant writing by bringing new freshness to your characters and perspective. Sometimes I need a change of pace. Connecting with a friend over coffee; planning a party; doing something thoughtful for someone; walking alone on the beach; researching some gemstones (since I’m a gemologist and gems feature in my writing and speaking); taking a sketch pad or photo and starting a painting. Doing something wildly creative in a different venue can reinvigorate my writing.

I write tween fiction and feature a talking dragonfly in my upcoming fantasy story. To better connect with gestures he might make, I studied pictures and painted them before writing his character profile.
Need to understand your character? Paint, draw, or create them anew.

These paintings won’t make it to the Met, but it was a helpful exercise to loosen the gears.

When my mother faced breast cancer, and I couldn’t be with her for the whole journey, I painted a huge flower arrangement. With each brush stroke, I prayed through my grief for what she was facing. With each shadow or line, I let God heal the rift in my heart from her struggles. Then I presented it to her, so she had a tangible hug from me whenever she needed it. Another example: when my in-laws recently sold their home, I painted a picture of it. I prayed for the changes ahead for them with each brush stroke. I asked God to bless their new neighbors and bring them hidden joy with this big transition. It was a nice painting to give them, but it also represented my heart on a deeper level of connection to their change.

Right turns can bring God into the rough times.
When you become a parent, nothing can quite prepare you for the great shift in priorities that such a little person makes. Coping with a loss or huge change is similar to early moments of parenting, because time slows down as you address their immediate needs. The laundry can pile, the bills might stack up, but seeing to their needs is most important for a season of life. This constant demand can be very exhausting and draining.

When my youngest son had three years of chronic ear infections, causing him much pain and costing us a lot of sleep, I learned to be much more flexible with the daily schedule. If I’d been up all night, other things had to slip so we could cope. This was happening as we moved repetitively after the fires into rental homes, six times in two-and-a-half years, due to a string of bad luck with people from whom we rented going belly-up financially. I think the Lord wanted us to learn the importance of solvency before we replaced our own belongings. I also know those four years of difficulty brought us so close as a family.
Moving six times in two years? I wouldn’t recommend it!
But the challenges brought us closer.

What could have divided us, instead made us stronger and brought God’s word out of the Bible and into our everyday lives with our deepened dependence on Jesus. Like taking someone’s pulse, I learned to listen more intently to the subtle heart-whispers of the Lord and react in the moment. Whether it was addressing medical needs, or adapting to change, I strove to find a point of joy in the day when things were bleak. When joy was elusive, we piled in the car, prayed, and picked a direction for an outing. We were not evading the problem, but once addressed, we did not let the problem invade our sense of self or family.

Some of our favorite right turns:

Soon after the fires we found this great Star Trek exhibit at a museum.

We love to visit the butterflies each spring. It brings simple joy and wonder.
Years have passed, kids have grown, but we still love a right turn.
This Christmas we surprised our kids with a trip to Hawaii.

What are some ways you handle difficult times? What have been some of your favorite right turns? How do you find encouragement to press on when life throws you a curve ball? I’d love to hear from you.

Elizabeth Van Tassel has faced life’s challenges with humor and grace while maintaining her faith. Having lost her family’s home to a wildfire, as well as experiencing a myriad of health and other life-altering trials, she teaches real-life lessons and helps tweens, teens, and their parents build a treasure box of tools to face the hardest trials of life. Her background with gems and love for history brings a special flair to her speaking, classes, coaching, and fiction and nonfiction writing. You can find her at where she blogs about leading a resilient life and her upcoming tween fantasy work. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by signing up for her updates here.

Today I am offering a special giveaway to three commenters. I’m giving away two 20-minute coaching sessions for two people who need ideas for being more resilient with outlook or priorities (per my website). You can use it for yourself, or perhaps gift it to a friend. You can also use the time for me to research ideas for right turns in your area.

I’m also offering a $25 gift certificate for some pampering at Bath and Bodyworks, so you can take a break when you need it most! Please indicate which items you’d like to be entered for and the winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition.

Don't forget to mention you want your name entered for these giveaways!

Turning Truth Into Fiction

Turning Truth into Fiction
Anne Mateer

As novelists, we are always adding “real life” happenings to our stories. Bits and pieces. Here and there. Mashups of truth layered with fiction. But have you ever come across a real life story—your own or someone else’s, historical or contemporary—and wanted to use it as the plot of your entire novel? My guess is yes. And yet attempting to actually translate a true story into fiction is not as easy as it sounds.

I ran up against this problem fifteen years ago when I wanted to write my great-grandparents’ story of love amidst the Great War and the Spanish flu pandemic. Wrangling it into fiction proved unwieldy, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I set the story aside for nearly ten years. When I came back to it, I’d learned a few things that helped me take a story from my family history and turn it into a readable novel.

photo credit: CanStockPhoto/ 72Soul

Here are three of the biggest problems I’ve found in turning a true story into a novel:

Real life stories don’t usually have a clear story structure.

Few of us have situations in our lives with a definite beginning and a definite end. Perhaps we can find one or the other. Rarely both. Often neither. Add to that the need for a novel to have clear conflict and defined turning points and you will notice that it becomes almost impossible to plop down an entire real life situation and find story structure in place.

Real life stories rarely have a character arc in place that follows the true timeline of the story.

We process the things that happen to us and to others through the lens of time. In the midst of the actual events the person experiencing them may have had little self-awareness as to how the events or situations were changing them. Yes, they might have be aware that their thinking shifted, causing them to make different decisions, but most likely true clarity came as they lived their lives in the aftermath of that change.

Real life stories are often too complicated for a novel—or too simplistic.

Tension and conflict are desirable for a novel. But sometimes a real life situation has too much—too many characters, too many outside issues, too many different threads. Telling that story “as is” makes for a convoluted novel. Or the opposite might be true. A story that sounds rife with conflict and emotion up front might not have enough in the surrounding story or characters to create a full length book.

Photo credit: CanStockPhoto/ bruesw

These three issues can build a brick wall between our efforts to translate the true story of a person or an event into fiction. But there is a sledgehammer that will break through and help us get where we want to go. It is this:

A novelist is a storyteller, first and foremost. When we tackle a real life story, we can have a tendency to allow the substance of the story to overcome the essence of it. Remind your inner historian or journalist that they must let the storyteller drive this train. If you insist on staying true to every fact of the story you want to tell, you need to write it as non-fiction.

With your storytelling sledgehammer in hand, approach the true story with three swings.

Be willing to add to the facts.

Add subplots that heighten tension over the main conflict. Create new characters that didn’t exist in real life to act as mentors or foils to your protagonist. Make sure the protagonist has clear “want” and isn’t just reacting to a situation thrust upon them. Draw a clear epiphany that maybe didn’t happen in real life until much later.

Be willing to subtract from the facts.

You might need to condense the facts of the real story. Shrink the number of characters or the timeline or both. Reorder events. Simplify backstory.

Be willing to reimagine the facts.

Assign motives to characters whose actions in real life were inexplicable. Create logical connections between people and events that remain disconnected in real life. Rethink conflict to make it relatable to the reader. Make the inner or outer journey of the main character more visible than it was in real life. Maybe even reimagine the conclusion of the story, especially if in the true version there was no actual moment of closure.

When you can allow your storytelling sledgehammer to break through the wall of fact, you can transform a real life story into a focused and compelling work of fiction. And if you feel the overwhelming need to set your readers straight on some of the more important facts, there is always the Author’s Note at the end.

Missy here… Do any of you have true stories you're dying to turn into fiction? Do share!

Anne Mateer enjoys exploring history and spiritual truth through fiction. She is the author of four historical novels set in the years just before and during World War I. Besides writing, Anne also teaches an online class on historical fiction through Margie Lawson’s Writers Academy. Anne and her husband live in Texas and have three young adult children. Find out more about Anne’s books and how to connect with her at

Playing By Heart
Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.
After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!
Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.
However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.

For Writers: Less Is Sometimes More

Debby Giusti here.

We’re three weeks into the new year, and if you’re like most people, you’ve already discarded many of the resolutions that seemed so doable on New Year’s Eve. May I offer a suggestion that could provide an easy and workable goal for 2015? Consider adding a few short-term projects to your writing schedule.

We know too well that writing and revising a full-length manuscript takes time and effort. When the manuscript fails to come together, we get discourage and our enthusiasm wanes. Taking on a short-term project can stimulate our Muse and provide a refreshing change of pace that brings satisfaction upon the completion of the task. Spurred on by our success, we can return to the larger project renewed and ready to work.

Some years ago, I posted a blog about freelance writing for magazines called, "How to Get Your Name in Print Before Your Book Sells." (Click here to read the post.)  Prior to publication I wrote for a number of magazines,which is covered in that early blog. Seeing my name in print, having a byline and accruing credits for my cover letters was a productive use of my time.

The first piece I ever published was a filler
about being an Army brat for Army Magazine.
I can hear your objections: “Courting a magazine editor can be as challenging as finding a fiction editor for our full-length work.” Of course, that’s true, which is why less is sometimes more. Start by writing something short, such as a human interest story for your local newspaper.

My son's middle school project turned
into an article for Woman's World.
Is your church involved in outreach that would be of interest to your community? Is your child’s sports team or scout group working on a neighborhood betterment project? Consider writing a news release for your local rag. Adding a photo with caption can catch the eye of a newspaper editor looking for stories. The human interest angle will not only acknowledge the good work being done in your local area, but will also get your name in print, which is always a reason to celebrate.

Short write-ups usually provide more personal satisfaction than monetary reward, but starting small can eventually lead to a paying assignment. While working in the clinical laboratory prior to publication, I mailed a short article about how my lab was celebrating National Laboratory Week to a trade magazine for medical technologists. That news release caught the eye of the editor of ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory, a slick publication with a great distribution.

The short news release that caught the attention of the
ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory editor.
The editor contacted me and asked if I would write an article for ADVANCE. I eagerly accepted her offer and wrote my first story about flex time opportunities in the laboratory. Because I was writing what I knew, the project was fairly easy to pull together and led to a long relationship with ADVANCE. I wrote for their print publication as well as their online e-zine and ended up serving on their editorial advisory board for over twelve years.

My cover article "Atlanta Labs Go For the Glory" about
how Atlanta hospitals were preparing for
the Summer Olympics and the huge influx of
tourists who could bring new diseases to our country.
Writing short doesn’t mean that the work goes unnoticed or isn’t well received. One of the first short pieces I published years and years ago was a brief essay about being an Army wife, entitled Sisterhood. Since then, I have sold thousands of copies of the essay done in calligraphy and suitable for framing to military folks around the world. Sisterhood has been featured in a number of magazines, it’s often included in military wife publications and has even been performed to musical accompaniment at the White House.

Sisterhood has been featured in
military publications for over 40 years.
Another short piece that has been successful is The Writer’s Prayer that God inspired me to create soon after I got “The Call.” I penned the prayer for my own use, then had copies printed for the ACFW and RWA National Conferences. The positive reception the prayer received surprised me, and ten years later, I continue to be touched when writers mention that they start their workday reciting that little prayer.

The Writer's Prayer
On a more personal level, notes of encouragement or affirmation—especially if hand-written—can impact folks in very positive ways. While the notes won’t receive public recognition, they may bring joy to a person struggling with illness or loss. Knowing we’ve reached out to someone in need can lift our own spirits as well as the person on the receiving end.

Some years ago the Lord opened my heart to an elderly woman who lived alone in Florida and had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her daughter was a friend of mine and a strong Christian, but my friend's mother had closed God out of her life. I had only met the mom once, but I knew she could use a pen pal so I wrote her weekly. With each note, I added a few lines about God’s love and that he was walking with her though her battle with cancer. Before she died, the elderly woman accepted the Lord back into her life. My notes weren't the reason she placed her faith in God again, but they may have encouraged her, in some small way, to crack open a door she had closed long ago.

Hand-written notes can uplift and encourage.

Writing an outline for a speech even before we’ve been asked to give a presentation is another good exercise. I have two basic forms that include turning points in my own life. One focuses on my spiritual journey, which I use for church retreats or when speaking to religious groups. The other is for a more secular audience and highlights my road to publication and beyond. Having talking points from which I can pick and choose speeds the process when I’m working on a new presentation. An added plus is that when we look back on our lives, often we can more clearly see the way God has directed our steps. Hindsight offers a good perspective from which to evaluate our progress and growth both spiritually and professionally.

Writing short provides a refreshing break when we’re stalled on a larger project. Seeing our name in print, knowing we’ve reached out to someone in need, or merely completing a project in a limited amount of time can get us back on track and eager to return to our manuscripts. Don’t let your writing life become stagnant. Mix it up at times by remembering that writing less is sometimes more.

Share the ways you write short and any success you’ve had with small writing projects. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an advanced copy of my March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED. I'll also give away five copies of The Writer's Prayer. Let me know if you'd like to be in that drawing as well.

The coffee’s hot. Tea is available, and the breakfast bar is stocked with pastries, bagels and muffins. Now, let’s chat about the writing we do outside of our fiction, when sometimes less is more.

Happy writing!

Abundant blessings!

Debby Giusti


Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer.  But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever.

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