Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Sarah Sundin

Are you a morning person? A night owl? How do you arrange your schedule to allow the most efficient, productive time for writing?

I am definitely a night owl. Many writing teachers say you must write first thing every morning. No internet. Pure writing. That would be a disaster for me. My brain barely functions before nine o’clock, and creativity doesn’t kick in until noon. So I work with how God made me. In the morning, I take care of internet and social media first. For one thing, I live in California, and my publisher is three hours ahead of me. If they need something from me by the end of the day, I need to work on it immediately. Also, busywork allows my brain to wake up. After lunch, my creativity and energy burst in, and I can write nonstop until dinner—if life allows me. When I get an evening to myself (rare), I can really write! God made each of us unique, and the only “must” is we “must” find what works best for us.

When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck?

Because I outline my novels, I rarely get stuck in the rough draft. If I do, I review my notes for the chapter, read the previous chapter, and dive in. Most importantly, I give myself permission to write garbage, knowing I can delete it later. Just put something on the page. Ironically, those “garbage” beginnings often end up as my favorites.

Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it? Have you ever embarrassed yourself doing this?

Oh, yes! I read each novel out loud while editing. This is a great way to catch unnatural dialogue, awkward sentences, poor flow, boring parts, and repetitions. And I often act out bits, from body language to action. Recently I needed to know if my heroine could get up to standing on one leg with her hands tied behind her back, hop through a door, close it behind herself, and lock it—and fast. So I acted it out. Yes, I could do it! Yes, my family thinks I’m weird.

If you’re a plotter, have you ever tried pantsing it? If you’re a pantser, have you ever given plotting a try? Can you swing both ways, or are you a confirmed devotee of one of these methods?

I am a plotter. I wrote my first novel by the seat of the pants, and it was an overblown mess that required extensive editing and is still unpublishable. When I started attending writers’ conferences, I learned various methods of outlining—and the angels sang! Outlining fits my analytical, methodical personality, and I write faster, cleaner, and better with an outline. So I’m a confirmed plotter. But that’s what works for me. Some pantsers find outlines stifle their creativity, and they need to avoid them. For me, the structure of an outline actually unleashes my creativity.

Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more? Do you revise as you write, or do you first produce a big mess that you later have to fix? If your first draft is rough, do you usually have to cut out a lot of dead wood, or add flesh to the bare bones?

While I enjoy most of the pre-writing and outlining phase, I adore the rough draft. Since the story is outlined in advance, my rough drafts are pretty clean, and the editing process is fast and smooth. The changes aren’t usually huge content issues, but smaller details—“add this historical fact,” “add in that bit about her sister,” “weave in the sailing theme,” “decrease internal monologue.” I don’t make the revisions during the rough draft phase—I just take notes. Then all the changes get made after the rough draft is complete.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Revell, 2015
Sarah Sundin is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015). Her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten is a 2015 Carol Award finalist. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.


Buy Through Waters Deep:
Barnes &Noble                
ChristianBook.com        

Thursday, August 20, 2015

by Carrie Stuart Parks

I never thought I could write fiction. Non-fiction, how-to draw books, absolutely, but make up a story? Never. That is, until I actually tried it.

Thomas Nelson, 2014
I wrote the first draft of my novel in 2004. I felt it was quite brilliant. Steller writing. Quite Extraordinary. I proudly shared it with a writing friend of mine. She gently told me it was good for a start. 

Huh? A start? I worked hard on it. Couldn’t she see how terrific it was?

I passed the manuscript on to my mentor, NYT best seller Frank Peretti. He would obviously be in awe of my talent. He told me that I needed to discover the dead body in the first chapter, hopefully on the first page. I just couldn’t see how to do that. The reader needed three chapters of backstory to understand how the body came to be a . . . well, a body. 

Thus began a nine year journey to publication. I had soooo much to learn. High school and college English classes, even creative writing programs, didn’t prepare me for the world of novel writing. Learning to craft a compelling story, create characters with depth, and the fine points of showing, not telling, were some of the writing challenges I faced. 

I had a vision in my head. I was competitive and wanted to be published by a major publisher, not self-publish or even go with a smaller publishing house. I wanted my writing to be unique enough (in a good way,) and riveting enough to catch the eye of “the big guys.”

Like all adventures, this one had wicked witches, winged monkeys, and fields of poppies. One month after Frank agreed to work with me to teach me to write, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. My mom was already dying of emphysema and I was her caretaker. I was under contract to write and illustrate a drawing book, and I was teaching forensic art. Getting through some days was all I could hope for.

Chemo ended September 15, 2004, and I could spend more time learning to write. I attended writer’s conferences and learned more. Mom died April, and I wrote through the tears. I found an agent who sent me back to the editing phase. Completing the manuscript, my agent sent it off to thirteen publishers. Thirteen rejections.

Putting that story aside, I began on the second novel. My agent closed her agency. I wrote on. I found a new agent. He offered to represent me the day after he received the proposal.

Had I finally done it? After years of research, writing, reading books, critique partners and groups, conferences, on-line classes, mentoring, and edit, edit, editing, had I finally learned the craft?
It would seem I had. My first novel, renamed “A Cry from the Dust,” sold at auction to Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian. It went on to final in the Christy, Carol, and Selah awards.
If there is a lesson in all this, it’s to keep going down that yellow brick road. Don’t let the winged monkeys, wicked witch, or poppies pull you off track. Look for snow, good friends, and Munchkins to help you along the way. And keep your eye on going home to success in your publishing vision.

God Bless

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.

Animals have always been a large part of her life. Her parents, Ned and Evelyn Stuart, started Skeel Kennel Great Pyrenees in 1960. Carrie inherited the kennel and continues with her beloved dogs as both an AKC judge and former president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America. She lives on the same ranch she grew up on in Northern Idaho. Visit her at http://www.carriestuartparks.com.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

By Kimberly Rose Johnson

Kimberly Rose Johnson
I am easily distracted and as a writer that can be difficult especially in the summer when the kids are off of school. This past summer has been extra challenging because I had an unexpected tight deadline and I couldn’t be distracted. I had two weeks to write the last half of a book due to a scheduling issue with my editor.

I’ve always been good at time management, and realized if I got up and wrote first thing in the morning, skipping all my other daily rituals, except reading my Bible, then I would have approximately three hours of distraction free silence before my teenage son got out of bed. I’m a creature of habit, so this wasn’t easy, but I did it. I had the book finished with a couple of days to spare!

Because overcoming distractions is a daily issue for me, I’ve learned other methods to cope. I’ve been know to put ear buds on and tune out what’s going on around me, but lol the songs can’t have words because that would distract me. I’ve also sequestered myself in my bedroom until I’ve met my deadline. The other thing that I found that worked well, was explaining to my boys, when they were younger, that I had a deadline and as soon as I met that deadline, life will go back to normal. They understood that and gave me my space for the most part. :-)

Finally, distractions are a part of daily life that come on the form of laundry, ringing phones, pets, social media . . . the list is endless, but with a plan you too can overcome the distractions that eat away at your writing time. I encourage you to make a plan and stick with it for a week, then evaluate how it went. Did it work, or do you need to try something different? If I, the queen of being distracted, can do it then so can you. :-)

Kimberly’s Bio: Kimberly Rose Johnson holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two teenage sons, and their yellow lab. She writes sweet Christian romance and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys taking long walks with her husband and dog, reading, dark chocolate and time with friends. You may contact Kimberly at:

Website: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/krose1990

Kimberly’s latest release is Island Dreams:

Mountain Brook Ink, 2015
Piper Hunt arrives on Wildflower Island to develop family property into an upscale resort knowing this may be her last chance to prove her worth to her father. With grandiose ideas, she soon finds herself at odds with adjoining property owner, Chase Grayson. As she begins to appreciate the simplicity of the island, she struggles to maintain balance between her father's wishes, preserving the natural beauty of the island, and her attraction for Chase.

Chase Grayson values the peace and quiet of Wildflower Island. That serenity is threatened when Piper Hunt discloses her plans to develop an upscale resort that not only butts up to his property, but will turn the island into a busy tourist destination. In fighting her plans, he also finds himself fighting his attraction to her. If he doesn't stop her plans for the resort, his life will be altered forever. If he succeeds, it means he will never see her again. Can he live with either choice?

Buy link for Island Dreams:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Island-Dreams-Wildflower-Romance-Book-ebook/dp/B00XYYRP66

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

By Kimberly Rose Johnson

Mountain Brook Ink, 2015
I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost twenty years now. I worked from home as a piano teacher for eighteen of those years and decided it would be best to stop teaching a couple of years ago. That was a great decision at the time because I was super busy with my new writing career. There weren’t enough hours in a day for all the work I had to do and I loved having extra time. But then everything changed. My oldest went off to college out of state, I caught up on my deadlines and my youngest began his senior year of high school. Suddenly I was alone for most of my day, I had very little work pressing, and I felt completely worthless. I lacked purpose and direction. 

Not long after school started last school year I experience my first serious bout with depression. I have never been that low, and pray I never get there again. Thankfully, it only lasted a few days, but it was a time I will remember forever. I still struggle with feeling down from time to time, but thankfully not the kind of depression I experienced last fall. 

My degree in Behavioral Science, did not prepare me for the dark place depression takes a person. What did help was my relationship with the Lord. Honestly, I don’t want to talk about those days last year. I don’t care to relive them in my mind, but I thought it was important to understand, I know what a deep dark depression feels like. Thankfully that was an isolated incident.

Recently I had a not so serious incident, and I would like to tell you what I did to get through it. I learned from my one experience last fall that I can’t allow myself to get stuck in my head. The moment I feel myself getting depressed I must take action. For me it’s a matter of getting my thought life under control and thinking positive. How do I do that? I ask the Lord for help. 

I prayed for JOY. As soon as I said amen, a song from my childhood about joy came into my mind. God knows that I am greatly affected by music and he gave me the one thing that would instantly snap me out of where I was. I sang that song in my mind until I fell asleep. The following morning my husband and I went to church and guess what? The first song we sang in worship was about joy. ☺ I was overwhelmed with His love for me. He knew my need and my prayer even before I did.
I am still smiling over His love and care. I certainly don’t have the answers for everyone who suffers from serious depression or feeling down, but for me praying and focusing my thoughts on the Lord pull me out. 

There are hotlines to call if you need help and I’m not saying don’t use those, I’m only saying for me in my instances this is what worked for me. So please if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals.

Kimberly Rose Johnson
Kimberly Rose Johnson holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two teenage sons, and their yellow lab. She writes sweet Christian romance and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys taking long walks with her husband and dog, reading, dark chocolate and time with friends.

Kimberly’s latest release is Island Dreams. Piper Hunt arrives on Wildflower Island to develop family property into an upscale resort knowing this may be her last chance to prove her worth to her father. With grandiose ideas, she soon finds herself at odds with adjoining property owner, Chase Grayson. As she begins to appreciate the simplicity of the island, she struggles to maintain balance between her father's wishes, preserving the natural beauty of the island, and her attraction for Chase. 

Chase Grayson values the peace and quiet of Wildflower Island. That serenity is threatened when Piper Hunt discloses her plans to develop an upscale resort that not only butts up to his property, but will turn the island into a busy tourist destination. In fighting her plans, he also finds himself fighting his attraction to her. If he doesn't stop her plans for the resort, his life will be altered forever. If he succeeds, it means he will never see her again. Can he live with either choice? 

Buy link for Island Dreams:
Amazon: www.amazon.com/Island-Dreams-Wildflower-Romance-Book-ebook/dp/B00XYYRP66

Find Kimberly here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/krose1990
Kimberly’s website: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com

Sunday, August 9, 2015

There’s an old song by Bryan Duncan that speaks of the long years of waiting by Abraham and Sarah. Through all that has come this time of year—school wrapping up, graduations, wedding—there’s still a place of waiting inside me for something I’ve dreamed of since I was fifteen.

I catch myself wondering often, does anything I do make any difference? In this season of busyness, where it feels that so much is still undone, am I accomplishing something of worth, or just running myself in circles?

Others I know are in seasons of rest, or waiting. Some feel that God has just put them on the shelf for no apparent reason. Which begs another question: For all that I’ve done, all I’ve worked for ... does God Himself notice?

The answer is, emphatically, yes.

Motives matter, of course. “...which you have shown toward His name.” Can we say we do what we do because it’s good and right? Or because we just really want people to tell us how wonderful we are?

Not that there’s anything wrong with the desire to know we’ve done a good job. Even the famed virtuous woman knew that what she produced with her hands was of good quality. (Proverbs 31:18) And there’s nothing to be gained by false modesty.

But once we’ve examined our hearts, prayed for God to purify us, and gone beyond all that until we’re just bone weary...that’s when we often wonder, has God just forgotten me? Are dreams just something we have to learn to give up, because they get swallowed up in real life?

Those are the moments in which the chorus of the song haunts me most.

I’ll not forget you ...

God sees. He remembers. He does not forget the things He planted in us, the things we long to see to come to fruition. Most of all, even though His word is clear that we can do nothing to earn His favor, He doesn’t overlook what we do for His sake.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Hebrews 6:10, NKJV)

 (first appeared 5/19/13)

Thursday, August 6, 2015



Mary Ellis
 Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or on Facebook.


TBB: Hello, Mary! Welcome to The Borrowed Book. How long were you writing before your first publication?

ME: I started writing around fifteen years ago, finishing two historical romances set during the American Civil War. At a writing conference I was able to land an agent who had faith in my work. She suggested polishing the first manuscript which I did to the best of my abilities. She, however, was unable to find “a home” for my books. Although I received positive feedback from several publishing houses, I was also told “there was no market” for Civil War romances. My agent suggested a genre change and I took her advice. After publishing a dozen romances set in the Amish culture, my publishing house decided to publish my historical romances, although the current books bear little resemblance to my freshman efforts. I learned much about writing over the years, and both books were completely rewritten. However, I’m proud to say nuggets of my original inspiration remain today in all their glory.

TBB: Are you a morning person? A night owl? How do you arrange your schedule to allow the most efficient, productive time for writing? 

ME: I am definitely a morning person, but the creative muse only visits after several cups of coffee. I start out with emails, social media, and promotional endeavors, and then open my work-in-progress and give-it-a-go, as my British friends would say. Evenings are for relaxation and family. As far as nighttime? I’m usually in bed by nine-thirty, so a “night owl” I am not.

TBB: Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it? Have you ever embarrassed yourself doing this? 

ME: I usually read my dialog aloud for a realistic feel. Often when I walk my dog, I talk to myself and work out plot twists and conversations between two key characters. I find this helps me once I return to my computer. My neighbors initially thought me quite mad, however, I’ve lived on this dead-end road for so long, everyone has more or less gotten use to me. My husband and I are still invited to our quota of neighborhood get-togethers.

TBB: If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it? 

ME: Absolutely, I would. The Holy Spirit, which dwells in my heart, is never wrong. Every time I heed the Holy Spirit I thrive. And each time I attempt to “go it alone” I flounder. So if the Holy Spirit was urging me to quit, I would do so.  So far that hasn’t happened, but our Lord knows His children and what is best in each “season” of their life.

TBB: Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more? Do you revise as you write, or do you first produce a big mess that you later have to fix? If your first draft is rough, do you usually have to cut out a lot of dead wood, or add flesh to the bare bones?   

Harvest House, 2015
ME: Oh, my…what an easy question! I absolutely hate revising. So I must edit as I go along. Yes,
it’s slower that way, but I can’t stand having a mess on my hands when I get done with my story. That’s not to say the book doesn’t need a thorough “going over” before I send it to my editor, but I do fix a lot of errors as I go along. I have left all the “editing” until the end, and I almost pulled out every hair on my head trying to untangle the ball of yarn. Everyone writes differently, but after twenty or so books, this works best for me.

I hope you’ll look for Midnight on the Mississippi at your favorite bookstore or online retailers.

Available at CBD:
At Amazon:
And at Barnes &Noble:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

By Mary Ellis

When I consider what challenge I have personally overcome or are in the process of overcoming only one answer comes to mind…time management. Trying to juggle too many balls in the air robs me of my peace of mind, produces many sleepless nights, and sends me to my knees in prayer often. God never lets me down. However, when I try to “go it alone,” even for a single day, I struggle. Jesus is my rock on a daily basis and without Him I would have given up on publishing as a career long ago.

Harvest House Publishers, 2015
In my blissful, pre-published days, I erroneously believed that once an author received the coveted “call” and turned in a completed manuscript, she could relax and put her feet up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being published means honoring contracts in a timely fashion, along with a multitude of details. No longer was I squeezing time to “write a book” into my daily routine of tending home, family and day job. Even though I have “retired” from my day job to write full-time, my life hasn’t gotten any easier. With each new release, the juggling act increases from three balls in the air, to four, five or even six. For readers and writers in the pre-published period of their careers, I’ll explain how five projects can demand your attention simultaneously:

First, there’s the book you’re currently writing and editing, according to your publisher’s expectations for word count, theme, and depth of characters.

 Secondly, the book you recently submitted is by no means done. A plethora of add-ons must be finished before the book heads to the printer, such as developmental edits, line edits, back cover copy, book cover and trailer suggestions, and blurbs or excerpts for catalogs and sales brochures.

Thirdly, if this was a series, chances are a book was recently released and requires promotion. Your title will either sink or swim during the first several, crucial months. An author must get the word out to readers through blog or radio interviews, website and newsletter giveaways, and book signings, along with social media. Otherwise, with so many fine books releasing each year, how will potential readers find yours?

Fourthly, an author needs to research the next book she intends to write, and that often involves travel or at least long hours spent in the library. Not everything on the internet can be trusted for accuracy, so I turn to non-fictions books, travel guides, and in person, hands-on research. Luckily, I have a husband who loves to travel and is willing to pick up and go on short notice.

And finally, what happens when your current beloved series draws to a close? If you don’t wish to be out of a job, you must devise an irresistible proposal that your publisher simply cannot turn down. Publishing houses consider projects well in advance, so authors need to think far down the line too. Considering all this stress, hard work and long hours, you might conclude that I’m complaining. Nothing would be farther from the truth. I love being an author, and pray each night for God to make me a better juggler and time manager. And when I worry and fret? Jesus, my rock, is always ready to pick me up and carry my load.

Mary Ellis
Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

 I hope you’ll look for Midnight on the Mississippi at your favorite bookstore or online retailers:

Available at CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/1-midnight-on-the-mississippi/mary-ellis/9780736961691/pd/961690?event=Fiction

At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Mississippi-Secrets-South-Mysteries/dp/0736961690/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436816683&sr=1-1&keywords=midnight+on+the+mississippi

And at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midnight-on-the-mississippi-mary-ellis/1120894147?ean=9780736961691

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