Friday, July 03, 2015

Are You Discouraged?

Are You Discouraged?  
Have you received some criticism that left you questioning your calling? Are you considering quitting? Finding a new ministry? If you are, consider this: God doesn’t hurt us, nor does He discourage us if He wants us to change directions. God persuades us by changing our hearts and desires and passions.

I discovered this when God wanted me to move beyond the drama ministry I’d started at my church and led for 11 years. Where I’d always been passionate about it, and considered it my ministry, suddenly my passion died. I longed for someone else to lead it and take it new heights. I gave up ownership happily.

As a writer, that’s how God will change you, if you aren’t supposed to be writing for Him. When we publish is up to Him. That part of it we have to give back to Him as a sacrifice of praise.

Then Be Encouraged
But when you’re discouraged or hurt, remember that's from the enemy! After all, you only get stabbed by the enemy's arrows when you’re in the front lines of God’s army.

Think about it. If you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time writing and not doing what God called you to do, is Satan going to bother you? No way. He l leaves you alone in peace to fritter away your time.

But if you’re doing what God has called you to do, then Satan is going to throw everything he has at you to discourage you. So be of good cheer, as Paul always said.

Instead of worrying if you’ll get that contract this year, simply enjoy the journey and know that when the arrows come, you're on the right track. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015


I think part of a critique partner's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

There is great need for a sarcasm font.

Bad decisions make good stories.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during the scene of your work-in-progress when you realize it's in the wrong POV.

I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my 93,000-word manuscript that I swear I didn't make any changes to.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Overcoming the Failure Inside

Elizabeth Ludwig is the bestselling author of Christmas Comes to Bethlehem, Maine and the highly successful Edge of Freedom series from Bethany House Publishers. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit Contact Elizabeth: HERE

Overcoming the Failure Inside

Scarlett O’Hara. Katniss Everdeen. Michael Hosea. Jane Eyre. Do you recognize any of these names? Obviously, they are all characters from books. And yes, they are all heroes. But before they were heroic, they were flawed and fallible. These frail, imperfect, unlikely paragons struggled with weaknesses in their character—like serious flaws—vanity, envy, fear, jealousy, and pride, just to name a few! But instead of turning the reader off, their failings made these characters relatable, and oh, so memorable.

The heroine in my latest novel, Cheryl Cooper, is likewise afflicted (Where Hope Dwells, Guideposts 2015). Instead of being smart, savvy, and self-confident, Cheryl struggles with a less than perfect self-image, and she hides a bitter secret—unforgiveness toward the man who left her standing at the altar. So when circumstances thrust her into an Amish community, in the middle of an investigation into a kidnapping, Cheryl is quite certain she is not the person for the job…or is she?

Very often, the books I write have a theme that coordinates with something I am facing in my personal life. No, I haven’t recently been left standing at the altar. Nor have I ever been the lead investigator into a kidnapping. But I have battled with unforgiveness, and like Cheryl, I could not see the bitterness in myself, yet I readily saw it in the people around me. These two things are what prompted me to tackle the tough issue of forgiveness—both in the church, and outside it in our circle of friends.

Another example is from my last historical romantic suspense, Tide and Tempest. Like Cheryl, the main character, Tillie McGrath, has developed a sense of unworthiness that stems from personal choices she made as a girl. The consequences of these actions not only led to an unplanned pregnancy, they led to the loss of her child and murder of the man she loved. Thankfully, while these circumstances do not exactly mirror mine, I can say that I understand what it means to lose a child. The grief, guilt, and sorrow that I poured into Tillie sprang from my own experience after the death of my son—as do the healing, strength and victory that she claims by tale’s end.

Isn’t that what makes characters in books so endearing? Don’t we hope that these beloved friends for a time will somehow be better than we are ourselves? We want their circumstances to be different. We want their person to be somehow improved. And we want our own lives to reflect what we have read.

I believe the best books—and the most memorable characters—are the ones that reflect something about ourselves—not just in our ugliness, but in our striving toward godliness. Their story urges us toward victory, and encourages us to believe in the strength of our character and power of our Creator to overcome. Their message is healing and hopeful, even if at first, the words we read remind us of our lack. And they linger in our conscience—these beloved books—the pages dog-eared and wrinkled where something we read touched or challenged us.

My prayer is that the names of my characters will someday be added to the list of those that readers count as memorable. That they will linger…and that they will help someone else overcome the failure inside.

Where Hope Dwells
The Amish of Sugarcreek are experiencing a baby boom!

Cheryl Cooper loves the air of excitement these new arrivals bring, and as a recent member of the community, she enjoys getting to know her neighbors by delivering congratulatory gifts to the families. She never dreamed that one of these visits would end in an awful discovery...a baby has been snatched from his cradle.

When Cheryl happens across a lead that could reunite the child with his mother and put the kidnappers behind bars, she must take matters into her own hands. But will the truth she uncovers spell happily ever after or will it expose a deeper, more sinister problem?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Former IT Director To Novelist, Meet Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. You can find Amanda on her website, Facebook,. Twitter, and her blog.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? What sparked this story?
Ideas can come from almost anywhere. Sometimes it’s a snippet of a conversation or a song that just won’t stop reverberating through my mind. Other times it’s a book I’m reading, when I think, “I would have done that differently.”  

In the case of In Firefly Valley, the inspiration was hearing about a family friend who disappeared. I kept trying to imagine what life was like for his family, how they coped with not knowing where he’d gone. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, Marisa St. George became a real person to me.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write – or at least want to write, and so I wrote sporadically until I was almost 29. Since then, I have come to believe that authors have at least one thing in common with oysters, namely we need irritation to produce our pearls … er… our books. For me, that irritation was moving to a new area and discovering what had appeared to be an ideal job was truly awful. Of course, that happened at a time when jobs were hard to find, so I stuck with the one I had for over three years. But the irritation was enough that I decided it was time to become serious about writing. Before I left that job, I’d sold my first book.

Where do you write, a coffee shop, attic nook, or a cave?
I can write almost anywhere. When I had a day job that involved being a very frequent flyer, I wrote in airports, on planes, in hotels. I drew the line at actually writing in a restaurant, but I have to admit I’ve found inspiration there. Now that I’ve retired from the day job and am a full time writer, I’m fortunate to have a dedicated office.  

Of all your characters, which was your favorite and why?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I think characters are like children – each is special. But if I had to pick only one, it would be Elizabeth from With Autumn’s Return. As someone who was often the only woman at management meetings, I could identify with her struggle to be accepted as a woman in what was at the time a man’s world. Elizabeth is stronger and braver than I’ll ever be, but that’s the beauty of fiction, isn’t it?  We can create characters we’d like to be.

Share a few of the techniques you learned that changed the way you write.
Probably the most important technique I learned was to create chapter-by-chapter outlines. Prior to that, although I had a synopsis, I wrote pretty much seat-of-the-pants. But when I did some writer-for-hire work, that publisher required chapter-by-chapter outlines.

The first time I wrote one, it felt forced, but afterwards, I realized how valuable they were. They provide a detailed road map for the story and help me ensure that the pacing is correct. My current outlines aren’t as formal as the ones that publisher wanted, but they show me which scenes will occur in which chapter and help me include subplot scenes at the right times. I highly recommend them.

Now for the fun: Tell us 3 things your readers might not know about you.
  • My first job was as a clerk at a coin-operated laundry.
  • Kate’s wedding cake in In Firefly Valley was modeled on mine.
  • My husband and I visited all fifty states and drove to forty-nine of them. You can guess which one required an airplane. 

If you were a musical instrument, what would you be and why?
What an intriguing question! I have to admit I’ve never considered that, but if I had to pick one instrument, it would be a piano. Why? Probably because it’s the only instrument I’ve ever played. I also like the fact that the piano is one of the few instruments two people can play at the same time, and though we’re each individuals, I believe that others help shape us.

In Firefly Valley

She’s lost her dream job—but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa’s dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake’s real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.