To go or not to go…I say GO!

Every Christian writer, new or established,
must attend writers conferences.

In the summer of 2009, bestselling author Davis Bunn gave me the following advice: “My one fervent bit of advice would be for you to attend one of the six major Christian writers conferences. Attending one of these big events is crucial. They attract major agents and publishers, people who represent the largest houses, and who can offer you a contract on the spot. This means that any input and criticism they offer carries the weight of the current publishing world. Also, these events have morning tracks taught by bestsellers in each direction–fiction, nonfiction, gift, poetry, and song etc. You will leave these five days with a much clearer sense of what is required to bring your book concept up to commercial standards, and how to proceed from there.”

He went on to recommend some of the best conferences in the USA. Wow! I listened. Why? God had given me the desire to write. I wanted to learn the craft, and learn it well.

2012. Write to Publish, Wheaton College, Chicago. This first conference gave me a chance to test the waters, grow, and work on my new skills as a writer. I made long-lasting friendships, and learned a lot attending continuing classes and workshops. Worth. Every. Penny.

2014 / 2015: Mt Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. What a beautiful setting. My ‘home’ for five days was a spacious cabin, shared with two other writers. When I walked in, I found a welcome note and a snack from one of my roommates who I hadn’t met yet. How sweet! Thanks, April.


Note from a roommate

At the end, someone who was driving back to San Francisco drove me across the GOlden Gate Bridge, and to an area where I could see Alcatraz. What  Treat. Until 2014, I’d never been to CA. I returned the following year and had the wonderful opportunity to take a continuing class from Davis, the author who’d spoken those very wise words to me, encouraging me to attend Christian writers conferences.

2015: Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville NC. Another oasis. That one holds a special spot in my heart. Thanks to Ane Mulligan, I saw many different sites because we drove from Sugar Hill, GA all the way to Ashville NC. I had many God moments at Blue Ridge. It was there I pitched a novel for the first time. Again, totally awesome experience.

2014, St Louis, MO / 2016, Nashville, TN: The second time I attended Mt Hermon, Karen Barnett, historical romance author strongly recommended that I, a fiction writer, attend ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I did.  It was the largest I’d attended so far. Friday evening, many go sightseeing, shop around, and grab a bite to eat downtown. ACFW was also special. I flew to Chicago where another wonderful writer and good friend, Pam Meyers, picked me up at the airport, and we drove to the conference together. Great conference. Trips of a lifetime.

All the above conferences have phenomenal speakers, teachers, worship teams, and of course, writers, people who will leave footprints on your heart! If you asked me which was my favourite, I wouldn’t be able to answer. I loved them all. Though they all offer many similar things, the learning experiences are different and totally indescribable. The friendships that ensue from sharing a room with writers who have so much in common with you are out of this world. Seeing them again when you both attend your next conference is even better and so much fun.

There are many more great conferences throughout the USA. I pray God will open the door to two other ones for me, not necessarily this year but it would be awesome if He did. Hey, I’ve seen Him do much greater things. I’ve had my heart set on Colorado Christian Writers Conference, which is in May, and Oregon Christian Writers Conference in August. Both highly recommended.

Whatever you endeavour to do in 2018, may I encourage you to pray God will open the door to the best learning experience you’ll ever have as a writer. I pray 2018 is the year for you! If you attended a conference, will you please share your experience?

For a more comprehensive list of Christian Writers Conferences, check out this link: BookLaunchMentor.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Until then, be blessed.

Happy Writing.


New Year’s Resolution?

2018 is upon us. Time for New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us writers have set our manuscripts aside after a productive month when we pushed our way through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). On November 1, thousands all over the world take on the challenge to pen 50k words. When the clock strikes 12 on November 30, it’s time to stop. We set it aside for a week or even a month before picking it up to take a good look at what we wrote. I’ll be the first to admit, whatever filled the pages I’ve written is not fit to publish! It needs polishing. Big time! Thus the topic of my post.

The first item on my to-do list is to eliminate what many refer to as weasel words. They make their way into our manuscript where it’s not necessary. Words like that, just, and. Easily done. It’s how we talk. To make sure my manuscript is squeaky clean, I do an intensive search. Have a work in progress? Try along with me. The results might surprise you. Search (CTRL+F) for the word THAT. How often did it pop up in your document? In many cases, you can remove it without losing the meaning of your sentence.

I acquired the following list from fellow writers and conference teachers. Have you used any of them?

  • Then                            few                                          a little, a bit, a lot
  • Gaze                            anything                                 really / very
  • Quite                           anyone                                    obviously
  • So                                everything                              ironically
  • Therefore                  everyone                                 strangely
  • Enough                      sometimes                               nearly / almost
  • Many                          only / just                                 any ‘ly’ words
  • bit her lip                  some                                         even
  • anyway                     rather                                        kind of / sort of / like
  • Seemed                     felt                                             imagine
  • Wondered                hoped                                        heard
  • Thought                    considered                                tasted
  • Knew                         realized                                     saw
  • Looked                      would / could / should            had
  • up / down / back

– At my first ever Christian writers’ conference, an awesome workshop teacher, Eva Marie Everson, had said in some instances we don’t need to use up / down. For example: She sat. She set the book on the table. (Thanks! I never forgot that).

– Began / started (Joy, my editor, said “if he began, he’s doing the action.” Say it. He hummed his favourite tune, vs. he started to hum).

Passive voice, should be limited to one or two per page:
– the verb to be
– had (used for flashbacks, but sparingly in normal writing)

You can strengthen your writing different ways. Getting rid of weasel words is a good place to start. Do you know any more? Will you please share them? See you next time. Until then…

Blessings. Happy writing.

Thanks to all who contributed to this post. Lee, Jamie, Deborah, Mary, Kassy, Heidi. (hope I didn’t miss anyone).

GAME ON – Lillian Duncan

GAME ON—What Would You Do?

What would you do if someone was out to get you, but you didn’t know who it was or why? That’s the question that faces Lucas McMann in my new political thriller, GAME ON.

game on

He believes he’s the victim of an elaborate and bizarre stalking game. The goal being to ruin his political career. The problem is he has no proof that someone is actually stalking him let alone who it is.

His choices are clear—either quit politics or win the game.

And he plans to win! But he can’t do it alone and he can’t go to those around him since he doesn’t know who to trust. But there is someone he trusts.

If only she’s put their past behind her.

Private Investigator, Nikki Kent makes a living finding out other people’s secrets, but she has one of her own. When Lucas shows up asking for her help, she refuses. She can’t take the chance of her own secret coming to light.

But her new-found Christian faith won’t let her turn her back on someone who is desperate for her help—even if he was the first man to break her heart!

Together they search for answers.


To celebrate the release of GAME ON, I’m giving away a virtual basket of goodies at including Amazon gift cards. For all the details go to my blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes. Simply leave a comment on the blog post GAME ON at and you’ll be entered.


Politics is no game when a stalker nears and there’s nowhere to hide.

A run for the senate is just a step on the road to the White House for Congressman Lucas McMann. But his public profile has put him in the middle of a crazed gunman’s twisted game of stalking. If he wants to win the election and reclaim his life, he’ll need the help of the one person who’d rather leave their past behind them.

Private Investigator Nikki Kent knows how to dig up secrets and discover those who exist in the shadows. She should. She’s good at hiding secrets of her own. Can she risk her own discovery for someone so desperate for her help? For the first man who broke her heart?

With new-found faith, she’ll help Lucas search for the answers. But with the truth comes a danger they must face together.

Check out the book trailer video for GAME ON at


Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

lillian duncan

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense and mystery with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at or She also has a devotional blog at

Thanks for sharing, Lillian. The story sounds so captivating. I can see myself starting to read it and being unable to set it down.

To get your copy of Game On click on this AMAZON link or on PELICAN BOOKS.

So now, readers, go on over to Lillian’s blog and enter for your chance to win this virtual basket of goodies. Good luck, everyone. And until next time, be blessed. 


“Don’t ruin your name.”

With today’s technology, we writers have so much electronic help at our disposal. We put fingers to keyboards instead of pen to paper (for the most part). We have programs that spell-check everything and sometimes will even ask, ‘Did you mean this?’  when we use certain homonyms. Thre’s the Internet with online dictionaries, thesauruses, and a slew of other reference books and so much more.

My favourite gadget is Kindle. When I go anywhere to write, I can take all the reference books I need on one device. My favourite app? MS Word, which is available on most devices nowadays. I save my documents to OneDrive (another awesome tool) and access them from anywhere with my iPhone. Anywhere I go, you can see me jotting down ideas in another great app called A Novel Idea, or working on my WIP.

Okay so we’ve established that technology has evolved a lot over the years, and it has taken our writing to a whole new level. In many ways, I must say it’s a good thing.

There is however one thing—or rather one person—technology will never be able to replace. Your editor. No gadget can do that kind of work as efficiently. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a real live person to go over your manuscript and work not only for you but also with you. Why?

After you’ve read something often enough, you’ve memorize it. When editing, you know what’s coming and no longer see the typos/grammatical errors. Your brain reads what it’s supposed to say but fails to see what’s really there. That’s why it’s so important to pass it to someone else, to get another set of eyes.


Actual page from my last novel (c)

When I attended my very first Christian Writers Conference, I was still working on my first novel. I went there to learn and hadn’t planned on meeting with any editors or agents. After some prompting from my new writer-friends, I arrived at my first ever meeting totally unprepared. The editor read only half of the first page and stopped. For me, a newbie, the words that followed were brutal. ‘Don’t publish that book. You’re gonna ruin your name.’ Ouch! How that hurt! I knew my book wasn’t ready, but I didn’t think it was that bad. The next day, after I’d given it some thought and re-read that page, I returned to say thanks. Yes, it was that bad. It needed work. A lot of it.

Please understand, I’m not trying to deter or scare anyone who’s planning editor/agent meetings at their next conference. On the contrary, I want to stress the importance of acquiring an editor. If you walk in prepared, you’re bound to have a good meeting and might even land a contract.

My biggest piece of advice to any writers out there: do not attempt to replace your editor with any kind of technology. Yes, some editors may be expensive, I get that, but they’re worth every penny and then some.

Regardless what kind of gadgets you get, or how much money you invest, no amount of technology, programs, apps, or reference books will ever be able to replace your editor. You won’t get all the perks he/she has to offer in any of the above mentioned tools. Ever!

So now, are you done writing that novel? You think it’s ready? Acquire an editor and let him/her be the judge of that. Don’t ruin your good name

Your EDITOR’s Got Your Back

Did you ever meet someone in a large gathering, someone you thought you’d never thought you’d ever see again? In September 2014, I attended a large Christian Writers Conference in St. Louis, MO. With a gathering of over 600 people, I can’t remember the name of everyone I met. Some, however, left a lasting footprint on my heart.  

On the last night, after the awards ceremony, some of us gathered together. We shared about ourselves, our goals once we returned home, and what we planned to do with all this ‘new’ knowledge we’d acquired throughout the week. I took goofy pictures of Ane, Pam, Joy, and Kristena, to name a few, to remind me of the wonderful friendships that were taking roots. Little did I know what’d happen a year down the road.  

 In Sept 2015, I’d completed my second novel, Emma’s Prayer, and needed someone to edit/critique it. I posted a message on our writers’ loop, asking if anyone was interested AND available to work with me. I received several offers from members of the group but one in particular struck me. Once she’d told me what was expected of me, and she’d listed her fee–which was more than reasonable–I told her I was interested and would give it 200%. She and I were members of the same writers group, but we hadn’t connected on Facebook, so I looked her up. Her name sounded familiar, but I’d attended two more conferences since, and had met a lot more people. She could be any one of them. Finally, I pulled out my pictures from the September 2014 conference in MO, and sure enough, she was one of the beautiful people I’d met on that last night. 

Over the next four months, I learned that Joy Avery Melville and I have so much in common, it wasn’t long before we started calling each other sisters.  


Joy worked very hard with me on this novel, I can’t wait to release it. It’s been a long haul but a great and amazing adventure as one by one, we saw the characters come alive more and more, to the point that when they laughed we laughed, and when they cried, we cried.  Now THAT’s a great feeling.

A good and competent editor is someone who knows how to critique, edit, and improve the weak moments in your manuscript. It is someone who cares enough to tell you-in a gentle way-that you need to strengthen and/or tighten certain scenes, and yes, she can and should tell you when “that’s never gonna fly, delete it.” Oh, it hurts sometimes. You’d poured your blood, sweat, and tears into that story, typing away until your fingers tripped over each other. Know this, though: she’s got your back. In the end when everything is said and done and you look at the big picture, you’ll know it’s stronger, tighter. You will have a better story.  

If you’ve written a novel, and are planning to publish it, have another set of eyes look at it. Hire an editor. It’s well worth it and your NAME depends on it. 



Thanks,  Joy. Because of you, I’m now ready to release Emma’s Prayer, the story of a teen mom who gives up her son for adoption, and her struggle once  she realizes it may have been the worst decision of her life. Is it too late for her to get him back?

Emma’s Prayer will be available on Amazon on February 12 (eBook). Paperback coming soon.   

Tips for Maximizing Your Writing Time – Jennifer Slattery

Hello and welcome back. I’m so pleased to have as a guest today, Jennifer Slattery. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read what she has to say. Jennifer is sharing great tips to help you maximize your writing time. Jennifer writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband. And now, without further ado, I’ll let her do the talking!


Jennifer: Today I’d like to share a few ways to avoid time-sapping pitfalls while maximizing every moment for optimum productivity. In A Woman After God’s Heart by Elizabeth George, she talks about foregoing the good to find the better and foregoing the better to find the best. In writing, this means evaluating each moment in order to determine the best use of your time.

Organize your day around your creativity. For example, I need silence when I write. It took me a while to realize this, and initially, I went through my day following my to-do list without really evaluating each moment. As a result, I’d start with household chores and sometimes leave writing until the evening when my husband and daughter were home. Now I’m proactive about my schedule, making the most of my creative times.

Stay focused! This is a biggie and takes a bit of self-control. Especially if you have an iPhone that beeps every time you get a message or text. You might need to shut off your phone and disconnect your internet until your creative writing time is done. Here’s why…to write effectively, you need to immerse yourself in your work. Every time you pop out of story or book world to check an email, send a text, or pop in on Facebook, you’re breaking the flow. If you’re teetering between reality and story, you’re largely remaining on the surface of your creativity.

Watch out for the email monster. Between Gmail, Yahoo, and Facebook messaging, I’m always buried in emails. If I’m not careful, checking and responding to emails can take up a large chunk of my time. Now, I deal with emails at one set time. (I will periodically check my iPhone for important messages.) Knowing I only have so much time encourages me to skim and delete the unimportant ones.

Utilize every moment. I don’t watch television or movies because they don’t stir my creativity. (You may not be able to say the same.) Novels and books, however, show me strong writing and awaken my muse. Because of this, I read to relax. This means even when I’m relaxing, I’m learning. I also have projects and tasks that I can pick up whenever a spare minute arises. Let’s say I have five minutes between dinner and church each Wednesday. Five minutes a week over the course of a month equals just over a half hour.

I refuse to give in to writer’s block. When I hit a wall, I hit my knees. I believe God has called me to write and has a purpose in everything I write, therefore, I trust Him to give me the ability to follow through. (You can read more of my thoughts about this here in a post entitled, How Big is Your God.) And He’s been faithful. Every time. In fact, I start each day with prayer, laying out my responsibilities and asking God to help me fulfill them. If I hit a major block, I assume He’s asking me to spend more time with Him, so I do. The result has always been exponential.

What about you? Any time-saving tips to share?

~ Jennifer

Thank you so much Jennifer for such awesome tips. I look forward to putting them all into practice. For anyone out there who’d like to contact Jennifer, here’s how:

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently on sale at Amazon for under $4 (print and kindle version)! You can get that here:

When Dawn Breaks:

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with a potential conspiracy at work, one that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. Then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here:



You can buy a copy here:

On Amazon:

On Barnes and Noble:



Dream. Seek. Ask. But Never Ever Ever Give Up ~

How often, when wanting something real bad, have you asked, “Why bother? It’ll never happen!”


Some time ago, best-selling author Davis Bunn impressed on me the importance of attending Christian Writers Conferences, and suggested a few. I did a Google search and what I read amazed me so much, I wanted to attend each one at least once. Yeah right! That’ll never happen! so I thought.

I never imagined I’d ever go to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). Why? I collect “flyer points.” They entitle me to free flights. It helps a lot since I’d want to attend two conferences a year. But there are two problems flying with these points:

1. Destinations are limited;
2. Only 8% of the seats on any given flight are “free points flights,” regardless how many ‘regular’ seats are left on the plane!

When I looked into BRMCWC, I wasn’t surprised that Asheville wasn’t one of the destinations. My consolation, though disappointed, was that there are other great conferences out there. I attended Write to Publish (2012), Mt Hermon (2014), ACFW (2014), and returned to Mt Hermon this Spring. I can’t say enough about these amazing conferences, nor can I thank Davis enough for mentioning them. I enjoyed every moment, learned a great deal, and would do it all over again. And God knows my heart. Inside and Out.

Recently, a picture of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a magazine rekindled my desire. I mentioned it to Ane Mulligan, a dear friend and writer. She said she wished I could come. Then out of the blue (no pun intended), knowing I couldn’t fly to Asheville, she  asked if I could fly to Atlanta. I felt a nudge. So strong, I knew it was God’s. I heeded, and checked the flights. I could get there but couldn’t get back. Huh? What was He trying to say? I searched all weekend, nothing. Monday came, still nothing.

Refusing to give up on what I knew was God’s voice, I sought His guidance, and checked 3 other airports. Nothing. Then a 4th. P.T.L. One seat. 2 1/2 hours away from home but still… one seat. Scheduled two days later than I’m supposed to report back to work, but still, there was one single available seat. And I couldn’t even book it! I had to clear it with work first.

I asked. She said no. Disappointed, I nodded my reply in understanding…sort of. Until… moments later, she gave me the go-ahead. I booked my flights, many thoughts going through my mind. Thoughts of God’s Greatness; His provisions when I thought there was no way. He’d provided by putting the right people in my path at the right time:

– Davis Bunn who told me about Christian writers conferences;

– Ane Mulligan who offered a drive, a place to stay before/during/after the conference;

– A husband who supports my writing 200 percent.

But best of all, God showed me His unending love for me. He knows the desire of my heart–Psalms 37:4–and even though I had pretty well given up on Blue Ridge Mountains, thinking it simply wasn’t possible, God hadn’t given up on ME. He made a way.

God has big plans for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has: “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is not to say He’s going to say YES to everything we ask, nor is He going to open every door. Yes, it may hurt when He says no. Keep in mind, though, He knows what’s behind that door better than we do.

So when you feel His nudge, heed his calling. Even when things seem impossible. Keep dreaming. Keep seeking Him. And keep asking.

In closing, here’s an amazing video. FLAWLESS by Mercy Me

Until next time,


Renee-Ann <><

Today’s Special Guest: Christian Author Ada Brownell

Welcome back. This week I have the pleasure of hosting Ada Brownell, author of The Lady Fugitive. Instead of a Q&A interview, Ada is going to share about God’s love for us.

God Loves Us Every Moment

My first Sunday school teacher probably was the first person to tell me about Jesus with her flannelgraph board and Bible. Sister McPherson didn’t seem to mind my freckles or my flour-sack dress. Maybe she liked my red naturally curly hair combed into little coils like Shirley Temple’s.

Ten or more of us little girls and boys squeezed into that tiny classroom for preschoolers. Every Sunday we sang, “Jesus Loves Me.” The words hugged me inside.

Then my greedy nature was revealed to the whole church. The congregation sang a song and whoever had a birthday went forward and gave the Lord a penny for each year. So, Mama put four pennies in my hand and told me to go and put them in the offering plate. She shoved into the aisle. I clutched the pennies over the wooden offering plate with a red velvet bottom sitting on the altar. I didn’t let go. The congregation sang and waited. And waited.

Finally Mama, red-faced, marched down the aisle, took my hand and pried each finger open until the money dropped.

By age 5, I knew Jesus, God’s only Son, came to earth as a baby, but He also died on the cross for our sins, rose from the grave, and was coming back.

The church was excited. The Jews returned from all over the world and Israel was going to be a nation, living again like Ezekiel’s dry bones,—one of the signs He was coming soon.

The preacher told about the catching away of the church (1 Thessalonians 4) when Jesus came in the clouds. Through the stained glass window I thought I could see Him coming. When the altar call was given, I ran and asked Him to come into my heart.

Listening to the family, I learned Jesus loved me even in times I couldn’t remember. He loved me as a baby when my two-year-old brother emptied a salt shaker in my eyes. The family prayed, and I can see.

He loved me as a toddler when my sister gave me a bath on a wood-burning cookstove that hadn’t been in use. She didn’t realize it was hot. When she sat my bare bottom on the stove, I suffered severe burns. I still have scars that tell me Jesus loves me.

The Lord led me into a deep relationship with Him, found me a fine Christian husband. He was there through 12 moves the first three years of our marriage because my husband kept getting bumped on his railroad job.

Jesus stayed when we lived in a tar-paper shack, in a railroad car, a railroad depot where they brought our water on a motor car, but came with us to beautiful homes.

He surprised me with a career as a journalist and as a Christian writer. He helped through parenting five wonderful children, conflicts, victories, financial need, discouragement, blessings, health crises.

The Lord was my Comforter when my mother died of a stroke when I was 21, and when we lost a beautiful, talented daughter to cancer when she was age 31.

No wonder the inspired Word of God tells us “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

Jesus. The Redeemer promised in Genesis right after Adam and Eve sinned. God not only loving from Heaven, but every moment He is with us.  That God would be with me is still amazing.

©Ada Brownell 2014

Thank you for this beautiful story, Ada.

You can read more about Ada on her Amazon Author page. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.

Here’s a quick blurb about her novel:

How does a respected elocutionist become a face on a wanted poster?

Jenny Louise Parks escapes from the coal bin, and her abusive uncle offers a handsome reward for her return. Because he is a judge, he will find her or he won’t inherit her parents’ ranch.

Determination to remain free grips Jenny, especially after she meets William and there’s a hint of romance. But while peddling household goods and showing a Passion of the Christ moving picture, he discovers his father’s brutal.

Will Jenny avoid the bounty hunters? Can she forgive the person who turns her in? Will she find peace, joy and love?

Get it on Ada Brownell’s author page  or at

Until next time, blessings, everyone.

Renee-Ann <><

Forensic Speak – An interview with Jennifer Dornbush

Welcome back, everybody, and Happy New Year. After a hand injury and longer-than-hoped absence from this blog for most of December, I’m delighted to be back. And if you’re a writer, specially one who writes Crime/Forensics/Police Procedural kind of stories, you won’t want to miss this.

I have the wonderful privilege of chatting with Jennifer Dornbush, author of Forensic Speak. One of you will win a copy of this amazing book. I took Jennifer’s Forensic and Fiction class when I attended the ACFW conference last Fall. Honestly, I doubt they could have selected anybody better to teach it. What an awesome class. Her stories fascinated me so much, I asked her to share some of them with you.

jennifer dornbush

Renee-Ann: Welcome, Jennifer, and thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule. I’m delighted you agreed to chat with us. First would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Jennifer: Renee-Ann, Thank you for inviting me to your blog. Such a pleasure! Me… well, I’m a storyteller… I knew that’s what God had called me to be since I was 8 years old. I tell stories through screenplays, books, speaking, and teaching. I’ve lived several places but the past eight years I’ve been in Los Angeles with my awesome husband of 20 years this December! That’s like triple the time of most Hollywood marriages! 🙂 I come from humble beginnings. I grew up outside a small town in northern Michigan where my father served was the local Medical Examiner, which is where I get a lot of fodder for my stories and my interest and experience in forensic science.     

Renee-Ann: Congrats on your 20 years. 😀  How did you come up with the idea for this book? And why did you write it?

forensic speaks

Jennifer: It’s ironic because I never meant for Forensic Speak to be published. It started as a project for my studies at the Forensic Science Academy. I was the only writer in my class of 50, and the director of the academy graciously allowed me to produce the “Forensic Handbook for Writers” to complete one of my graduation requirements. Later, some of my TV writer friends prodded me to get it published. One of them was so insistent she sent me a link from my current publisher who was requesting submissions. I queried them and they returned my email within 30 minutes. They loved the idea. But it took another year to hammer out the details and get the contract. I’m so grateful for that one pushy friend! 🙂

Renee-Ann:  What kind of take-away does this book offer its readers?

Jennifer: Forensic Speak is a mega-tool for writers of crime, suspense, thrillers, and mysteries. Every writer will find at least one thing (probably more) in this book to help them create more authentic and engaging stories.

Renee-Ann: What was the biggest challenge and the most exciting part of writing it?

Jennifer: The biggest challenge I find when starting any new project is just getting that first draft on paper. As one of my mentors put it: getting your butt in the seat is the hardest part. But once that happens I get distracted by emails, FB, Twitter, news-links, texts, and on and on. I have to turn it all off and then give myself a reward for getting my pages written. You’d think after 12 years of writing full time that I’d be over this hurdle, right? Haha! The most exciting part of writing is “having written.” I love rewriting.

I should be writing my pages right now, but I’m procrastinating with your blog questions! 🙂

Renee-Ann: Humm, somebody’s got to take the blame, I might as well… hahaha! Do you have any advice for beginner writers who want to write “crime” stories but who aren’t familiar with the forensic side of things?

Jennifer: Not to self-promote, but get a copy of Forensic Speak. It’s written simply, yet contains highly specific forensic information for writers. It will give you a base from which to start and tons of suggested resources where you can do more research. I also recommend finding experts in the field and asking if they will help you with questions you have. Retired experts are the best because they have time and they love to tell their war stories!

 Renee-Ann:  What great advice that is. So now, we’re going to draw  a random name among the comments, but where can people get this book?

Jennifer:  Of course, you can get it on Amazon. But I love supporting my awesome publisher, who always offers it at 25% off. Here’s the link.

Renee-Ann: And how can your readers contact you, and/or read more about you?

Jennifer:    You can also sign up for my free quarterly Forensic Speak newsletter on my website.  Or feel free to say hello or ask me questions at:

Renee-Ann: Any final words or piece of advice you want to share?

Jennifer:  Don’t bury your talent. Use what God has given you. Be okay with mystery in your life. Let it surprise you. Bless and love others, by doing this you bless and love God.

Thank you Renee-Ann for this moment! Blessings!!!

Renee-Ann: And thank you so much, Jennifer. I look forward to reading all the comments.

So now, go ahead and leave a comment, telling us WHY you should win a copy of Jennifer’s book, Forensic Speak, and we will select a random winner on Wednesday 14.

Until then, blessings!

Renee-Ann <><

Christmas Read, anyone? Part 8

Welcome back to the Christmas Read series. First let’s announce Monday’s winner for Alexis A Goring’s Hope in my Heart, and the book goes to Robert Nacke. Keep an eye on your email, Alexis will be in touch with you.

Throughout this series, we’ve covered several topics, but one we haven’t touched on much is that of food. Ever wonder where our traditions come from? Why does a traditional Christmas dinner consist of turkey for so many countries around the world? For many people, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without this big bird. What about you?

This week, I’m delighted to feature a beautiful collection. For all of you Christmas Read fanatics, you’ll love this. It is called An Old Fashion Christmas Romance Collection: 9 Stories Celebrate Christmas Traditions and Love From Bygone Years.

old fashioned christmas romance collection

Many of us have a secret picture of Christmases past–a time when windows shimmered with lacy frost and candlelight, fireplaces kept homes warm and snug, ladies’ skirts swirled and gracefully skimmed the floor, and gentlemen were gallant and true. Within each of these nine historical novellas, the nostalgia is relived and new traditions are born when two lives are joined at Christmastime. 

1851 Pennsylvania — Dreams and Secrets (DiAnn Mills) 

1865 Virginia — Miracle on Kismet Hill (Loree Lough) 

1875 Michigan — Yuletide Treasures (Gail Gaymer Martin)  

1878 Pennsylvania — For the Love of a Child (Sally Laity) 

1893 Minnesota — Paper Roses (JoAnn A. Grote) 

1894 Alabama — Dreams (Peggy Darty) 

1925 Vermont — Eyes of the Heart (Rosie Dow) 

1936 Ohio — Bittersweet (Rebecca Germany) 

Taken to settings from New England to Pennsylvania to Minnesota that span nearly a hundred years of history, readers will discover traditions to implement and hope that will linger beyond the season. 

Christmas is a time when families get together, to celebrate the birth of Christ. And with billions of people around the world, we all celebrate differently. Though there are many similarities, we do have traditions passed down from generations to generations. A special recipe Grandma used to bake; how we decorate the tree; door-to-door caroling; story-telling; gift exchange; and so much more. Back in the days of our ancestors, how did they celebrate Christmas? Was it the same? Or totally different?

These 9 stories are filled with traditions.  You now have a chance to win a copy of this beautiful book. Leave us a comment and tell us what is your favourite food at this time of year.

Until next time, blessings! Renee-Ann <><