My Main Goal is to Write Well ~ Joan Hall Hovey

Today is day 31. The last day of the blog challenge I started on January 26. I want to end with a bang. With words a lovely and wonderful Canadian author said to me.

My husband and I took a drive about two hours out of town yesterday afternoon. We stopped in to visit a very dear writer friend. In New Brunswick, Joan Hall Hovey is known as the queen of suspense. A title worn by American author, Mary Higgins Clark. Both Joan and I have read many of Clark’s books. In fact, she was one of my first inspirations.

Joan and I talked about a variety of topics… what story I was working on… conferences… editors and publishers… Amazon and Kobo. The topic suddenly veered to what we want to gain out of our writing. What we expect. What we want to achieve.

Some writers want fame. Others want fortune. Many hope to see their titles on the bestsellers’ list. Others want their books to become the next blockbuster movie. A mere few however, simply want to spread their message, bring joy into someone’s heart, and put a smile on their face. 

Earlier in this challenge I blogged about why I write suspense,using recurring themes and topics (deafness and faith) into my stories. I also talked about why I write. It is a God-given desire, and something I absolutely love to do.

But as I listened to Joan, she said something that made me realize I write for something much more important. She said she wanted a number of things to do with her writing, but,

“my main goal is to write well.

Joan Hall Hovey


I can write all sorts of stories, no matter the genre, which to me is so much fun. But if I don’t write well, can I actually hope people will buy and read my books? Can I expect those who do to spread a good word? Whether good or bad, word of mouth goes a long way. 

Joan’s beautiful words of wisdom stuck with me. Now I know what I want. It is to write well

How do we do that? How do we learn to write well? The answer lies in many of the posts I’ve written over the past 31 days.

  • Go to conferences to improve and advance your skills.
  • Attend local classes and workshops to help you with the different aspects of the craft, whether it deals with editing, publishing, marketing, etc.
  • Hire an editor or at the very least, ask beta-readers to proofread your manuscript before you self-publish it.  

I have a deep desire to write, one I know God’s placed on my heart. I don’t just want to write good stories, though. I want to write well. Thanks, Joan. You’re a gem.

I end this 31-day blog challenge with a link toJoan’s website. A writer of Thriller, Suspense, Paranormal, and Mystery. Read about her. Check out her books. Find writing wisdom in her blog. Whatever you do, learn to write well.

What’s your passion? What do you want to achieve with your stories? Leave a comment below. 


Writing Haven


Ahhhh, there you are. It’s first thing in the morning. The house is quiet and you’re awake before everybody else. You get out of bed, make yourself a steaming cup of coffee, and head out onto the back deck where you sit in your favorite spot. From there, you can look across the lake behind your house, and watch the sunrise on the horizon. God’s painted a masterpiece across the sky in an array of red, yellow, and orange colors. The only thing breaking the silence is the sound of birds chirping in the nearby trees. One thought enters your mind.

What better place is there to write?

Each one of us has a special spot where we can secluded ourselves and be alone to pen our stories.

For some–maybe even for manyit’s in nature. A cabin in the woods, a cottage near the water, or even a farmhouse. Those people like the quiet. Those places fuel their inspiration. Nature in itself is inspirational.

For others, watching people going about their daily routine keep them energized. It may be in a busy coffee shop, the food court in a shopping center, or even in a library. Some prefer, or even need, a noisy environment.

Yet for others still, it may be the comfort of home. With or without music in the background, the introvert likes to be home. He or she wants to stay there. It maybe in a room sitting at a desk, on the sofa in front of the TV, or at the kitchen table.

No matter where you like to write, it’s important to make your haven clutter free of distractions. By that I don’t mean turn off email and Facebook notifications (although that’s a great idea). Make sure your desk is clean, and tidy. Papers, advertising flyers, and such can be a major distraction while we try to pen our stories. Otherwise, the mind focuses on one thing only. Cleaning the mess in front of you.

Personally, I don’t know how anyone can write in a busy coffee shop, except perhaps, to get ideas for a busy scene. Nor can I understand how others can concentrate with the music on. All that does to me, is make me sing along and forget what I was doing in the first place.

I need total peace and quiet. That’s when I can work the best.

I have what I call my office / craft room combo. It’s where I do most of my writing. However, there are two other locations where, to break the monotony, I choose to write. Sometimes, I’ll sit in my recliner in the front room, near the fireplace. The comfort of sitting in Mom’s chair and the memory it holds is plenty to spark ideas.

Other times, specially when I know there’ll be traffic going back and forth to the kitchen, I prefer to seclude myself in my bedroom, with my back pillow, my tray and laptop.

What’s your favorite haven? What makes it so special? Leave a comment below.

What to bring at a writers conference.


Congratulations. You’ve decided to attend your first ever Christian Writers Conference. This might be the best experience of your writing career. I’ve put together some dos and don’t, along with a handy list of things to bring. 

  1. The first thing I recommend is to check their website thoroughly. Make sure you choose the conference that’s right for you. Look at the classes and workshops they offer to make sure you’ll benefit from them. 
  2. Conference costs vary so find one within your budget. 
  3. When packing, remember the weather can change drastically in different parts of the country. Don’t forget to check the forecast for that area, and dress accordingly. 
  4. See if they offer an early bird discount. Most conferences do. It pays to sign-up early.
  5. Are you planning to pitch to an editor or agent? You’re not sure what to bring? Read their submission guidelines. Are they accepting the genre you’ve written? It’s important you know the answer to those questions before you leave home. Research is key.
  6. Business cards. You’ll be coming home with many from other writers’ cards.  Don’t leave home without a lot of them. 
  7. Pens. I bring a bunch, and at least one pencil and an eraser.
  8. Unless you bring your laptop or tablet, you’ll want to bring a thick notebook to your classes and workshops. 
  9. One-sheet
  10. Elevator pitch (well rehearsed!). No more than 30 seconds long. 
  11. Depending which conference you attend, and their guidelines, you may need to bring one or all of the following: a printed copy of your synopsis, your first chapter, and your book proposal. Attach to that a short bio.  
  12. Sign up for a critique session. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have professionals look at your work and give you feedback. Their website should tell you how and when to submit it.
  13. A sturdy backpack is a must. Chances are you’ll bring back home more books, papers, and handouts than what you had when you left. Travel light so you have room to pack them, or bring an extra bag.
  14. Save ALL your receipts. You can claim most of your expenses when it’s time to file your income tax. From conference fee, and the cost of your flight, hotel, food, mileage, parking, and many other expenses.
  15. Personal items you may want to take with you.
  • Most hotels have hair driers, but I bring one anyway. Theirs don’t always work the best. 
  • Tissues
  • Some adhesive bandages
  • Snack/protein bars (Airport food is expensive. Sometimes there’s not enough time between flights to grab a bite.
  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Adapters for your laptop/tablet/cell phone. It’s so easy to forget them. 
  • Battery pack if you have them. I found one at the dollar store for $3. It comes in handy when your battery is low but you can’t connect your charger anywhere  
  • Stainless steel/refillable mug. I take mine everywhere. It saves me from buying water bottles, and I can use it for hot or cold. 

Wherever you decide to go, safe travel, and have an amazing stay. Don’t forget to come back and share. 

Sixty is The New Thirty – Michelle Griep

My guest today is Michelle Griep. I love the theme of her post, Sixty is The New Thirty. Her new book, OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, recently released on Tuesday, Sept 6. Read on to find out more about Michelle, and how you can enter to win a copy of her book, read on and leave a comment.

Michelle: Hero. What’s the image that pops into your head when you read that word? Big and beefy? Sporting the requisite six-pack abs and gleaming smile? You’re not alone. That’s the image that appears in most people’s minds.

But not mine.

I’m the rabble rouser who likes to rattle cages. Mix things up. Write a story where two retired sisters-in-law save the day. Why? Because contrary to popular belief, sixty is the new thirty. Think about it . . .

Life Expectancy is LONGER

Medical advances have banished or at least managed many illnesses that used to be a death sentence—and not just for the aged. Childhood diseases aren’t as much of an issue as they were, either.

Quality of Life is BETTER

Clean water. Plenty of food. A growing awareness that exercise should be part of your everyday life. All these things and more combine to make our lives way more stellar than that of our pioneer forefathers.

The Aging Market is GROWING

Baby boomers are booming, which is a reading market to be tapped. You think this population identifies with young bucks storming the castle? Maybe a few decades ago, but now the market is ripe for more mature heroes.

Armed with those facts, my writerly buddy and I penned a story set in a senior community. Here’s a blurb for OUT OF THE FRYING PAN:

OutoftheFryingPanB (2)

Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth for FERN and ZULA HOPKINS. When the retirement center’s chef is found dead, the two ladies get folded in with the case. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective JARED FLYNN. Should he be concerned about their safety—or the criminal’s?

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts, especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene.

Life at Sunset Paradise Retirement Village will never be the same.


View More:

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Historical romance is her usual haunt. THE CAPTIVE HEART is her latest release. Follow her escapades at or or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Thanks so much for being my guest, Michelle. To everyone reading this, Michelle is giving a hard copy of her book. Leave a comment for your chance to win. Until next time, blessings to all.


Life Imitated – Sarah Butland

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk on the news and social media about assisted suicide, and whether it’s right or wrong. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the issue, and as many deferring opinions. My guest today is Sarah Butland, who wrote a fiction about it. Her novel, Life Imitated, released just recently. Here she is to tell us about it.

SARAH: When a devastating accident takes away Asher’s ability to move, he has a huge decision to make. Laying on a bed, with only his voice to express himself, he is waited on hand and foot while he recalls living his prime life on the greens. Being hit by a drunk driver is something that should never happen but still does more than anyone cares to know about. With my newly released short story, Life Imitated, I tackle the big issue of assisted suicide, drinking and driving as well as forgiveness.

It is impossible to know what we would personally do under such circumstances even if we think of it every day. Until we face such dire straits, we cannot know what we would do.

Asher struggles with the trying to balance his personal hope with the feeling of taking lives away from his loved ones. Wonders if he should forgive the person who hit him or try to move on as best he can. Writing this story I struggled a lot with how it would end as I wondered what I would do if things were different. Usually it takes me a long time to figure out how to start a story and the end comes quickly and easily when I do. I write like I read, one word and page at a time and letting the story reveal itself to me, being surprised along with the reader.

When I came to the final words of this story they, too, came naturally like the rest and it left me wondering how many people would speak for themselves.

Please read the story and let me know what you would do.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Butland


Thank you so much, Sarah. I invite everyone to leave comments for a chance to win an ebook  copy of her novel. However, please keep in mind that everyone’s opinion matters, and each one of them counts, even though it may NOT be your own. Please be respectful.

Until next time, blessings



Metaphor and Simile: What They Are and Why You Need Them by James R. Callan

James R Callan, author of A Silver Medallion, is my guest this week. He’s here to talk about metaphors and similes. Hope you find this useful. Enjoy.

James: If you’re writing fiction, you need to use metaphors and similes.  Why?  Because you need to develop memorable characters, characters that your readers can hardly wait to tell their friends about.  “You’ve got to read this book. You’ll (love, hate, laugh at, cry about, want to marry, want to kill—pick one) this character (supply name here).”

So, what do I mean by metaphors and similes in fiction.

“John had big ears.”  That’s not going to make John memorable. “John had large ears.”  Nope. No better.  “John had huge ears.”  A tiny bit better.  “John’s ears looked like weather balloons attached to his head.”  That’s a simile – comparing two things which are dissimilar items, such as comparing ears to weather balloons, and using the word “like” or “as.” Which description are you going to remember?  Sure, it’s a gross exaggeration, but it gets the idea across and in a way that will be remembered.

“Mano’s hand was a catcher’s mitt.”  That is a metaphor — the comparison of two things that are in general not alike, without using “like” or “as.” The reader knows this guy didn’t really have a catcher’s mitt for a hand. But the reader knows very clearly, this guy had big hands, exceptionally big hands, beefy hands. Your reader will remember that feature about him. You, the author, can use that fact later in the book to good advantage. And guess what?  The reader will remember.

“Her eyes were like sapphires cut to catch the light and sparkle.”  Simile. (Her eyes were like…) “His eyes were lasers, the kind that cut through steel.” Metaphor.  (His eyes were …)  “He was only five feet tall, but his feet were as big as a seven foot giant’s.” Simile.

In my latest mystery Over My Dead Body, I say, ” … Syd’s small, frame house, like a giant, square tumbleweed.”  Simile.  In my book A Ton of Gold, I describe a woman’s hair, ” black and shiny as obsidian.”  Simile.

Can you overdo the use of metaphor and simile? You most certainly can. They should be like the habañera: not used on everything, and not used too much. (Simile.)

Remember, one of your goals is to develop memorable characters.  Similes and metaphors can help make a character memorable. <><

Thanks, James. I hope everyone finds it very useful. James is giving away an ebook copy of Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel and also one of How to Write Great Dialog. For your chance to win one of them, leave a comment below.


After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He has had four non-fiction books published.  He now concentrates on his favourite genre, mystery/suspense.  His eleventh book released in June, 2016.



Author’s page on Amazon:

Buy link for A Silver Medallion on Kindle:

Buy link for A Silver Medallion paperback:


Creating Character Emotions – Gail Pallotta

My guest this week is Gail Pallotta, author of Breaking Barriers. I hope you enjoy her tips on creating character emotions.

Portrait shot  Gail Pallotta

Gail: Lately, I’ve heard the more emotion the characters in a story exhibit, the more interesting they and the book become. So, I’ve been exploring ways to create their emotions.

Some physical descriptions that work are lips turned down or shoulders slumping for someone sad; fists balled up ready to strike and a red face for an angry person. Of course, happy characters lips turn up on the corners and their eyes dance or twinkle.

We can also use similes and metaphors and relate them to our particular stories to show emotion. For instance, in a book about a circus, we could describe a sad person as looking like the clown after someone drew tears on his cheeks. If we were writing a book about a quarterback, and he was making a life decision with his wife, he might chew his lip as if he tried to decide what to do on fourth and goal. A wife arguing with her husband while she’s cooking breakfast might have his words turn her brain to scrambled eggs. In a war story, a soldier possibly would stare at someone as though he had him in missile lock. These poetic devices used in conjunction with the subjects of our book keep the reader tuned into our stories and show emotions.

Even though we’re told clichés are a no-no, it’s fine to change them to show emotion. I enjoy swimming, so I like to put swimmers in my books. If one of them becomes weak for one reason or another, I can have them grow as limp as a wet bathing suit as opposed to as limp as a wet dishrag. Other clichés that we could use include someone who’s as angry as a wasp instead of angry as a hornet. We might have a heroine who believes the grass is always greener on the other side. We can’t say that, but we can write she thinks her neighbor’s flowers bloom brighter than hers.

Even after learning how important emotions are and how to give them to my characters, I sometimes get wrapped up in the story and leave the characters on their own. According to my editor for Barely Above Water, Paula Mowery, one good way to make sure I’ve put in emotion is to do a search for telling words, such as “felt,” “sad,” “lonely,” “happy,” “sorry,” and “guilty.” Then take those out and describe how the character looked when he or she experienced that particular emotion.

These are a few of the devices I’ve picked up in my writing journey and try to use in interesting ways to let the reader know how my characters feel.

Book Blurb for Breaking Barriers: In this action-packed thriller gunshots ring out as Ann Jones enters church. She hides in the bathroom until they stop then stumbles into the sanctuary. The congregation lies dead in pools of blood. To rebuild the church she starts True Light Guardians. At the first meeting she’s attacked by a terrorist but rescued by James Crawford. He melts her heart, cold from her father’s abuse, and they fall for each other. She’s afraid to commit to love that might grow angry later like the type she knew as a child. James yearns to stop other attempts on Ann’s life, but can’t. Tormented by her constant risks, he breaks up with her. When an assault sends her to the hospital, an unlikely ally shares Ann’s plight with James, but he reveals a lead that puts all three of them in even more danger.

Click HERE to buy Breaking Barriers:

LoveIs_BreakingBarriers web size

Bio: Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. A 2013 Grace Awards finalist, she’s been a best-selling author on All Romance eBooks. She’s published five books, poems, short stories, and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Gail loves to connect with readers.

Visit Gail her on her WEBSITE 

Gail is giving away an eBook copy to a lucky winner. Leave a comment for your chance to win. A name will be randomly selected on Wednesday June 29. Good luck, everybody.


SING A NEW SONG ~ Caryl McAdoo

Hello everyone and welcome back. A lot has happened over the past few months. But I’m back and delighted to have Caryl McAdoo as a guest today. Welcome!


Caryl: I’m blessed to be with Renee-Ann to tell you about SING A NEW SONG, Book Two in my contemporary Red River Romance series.


The untimely death of her father shatters Mary Esther Robbins’ heart, and her mom moves, separating the twelve-year-old and her best friend. Samuel Baylor writes her without one response in twenty years. She sings God’s praise; he tends cows and shares the Good News. Then the Lord brings her home…

Here’s a sneak peek of Chapter One:

Mary Esther waved her key card then turned around and extended her hand. He took it and pulled her toward him, leaned in. The desire to close her eyes and surrender, let him kiss her, washed over her like a sweet summer rain. She should pull away, but instead, at the last heartbeat, turned her cheek instead.

He smelled of summer pomegranates carried on ocean breezes, crisp and clean, though he’d been on the go with her all day. His lips brushed her burning skin. He kissed her then moved on to her ear. “I don’t want to leave. Can I come in?”

She pushed him back and smiled. “No, you may not. But you can write me. I love long letters.”

“How about I call instead? Where’s the band headed next?”


He nodded then seemed to study her shoes a moment. When he looked back up, a troubled expression wrinkled his forehead. Staring into her eyes, he reached up and tapped the tip of her nose. “There’s something I need to tell you before you go.”

“Okay. What is it?”

“I’m, uh…” He grimaced, showing his perfect teeth clenched, then offered her a weak smile. “See? Uh, I’m married. Well, separated. I mean she’s gone, left me. No one’s –”

“You’re married?”

“Legally, yes—for now—and you’re beautiful.”

She pushed him back hard. The urge to slap his face burned her hand as though she had, but a long time ago, she learned not to go around hitting guys. “Married? What was the last week all about, you jerk? Get away from me, Richard. Go home. I cannot believe you… You… You’re nothing but a…” The only words that came to mind weren’t worth speaking. She shook her head to make them go away. “Mercy, man, you’re an associate pastor. And you’d be an adulterer, too?”


This book is a special favorite story because it contains many of the ‘new songs’ God has given me over the years. A writer must be careful about using lyrics of songs because of copyright laws, but these I could! And I hope to have a YouTube link where readers can go and hear the new songs!

I want to let you know that I give a free book away every quarter for being a subscriber to my newsletter The Caryler. I try to make it interesting and keep everyone up to date on what’s happening in my world, share some of my favorites: authors, bloggers, singers, movies, etcetera. You may subscribe using the link below.

Renee-Ann, thank you again for having me. It’s been a pleasure!

A little About the Author: Christian ‘hybrid’ author, Caryl McAdoo currently has three series: historical ‘Texas Romance’; contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; and ‘The Generations’ Biblical fiction. She loves singing new songs the Lord gives and painting. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from DFW—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. She counts four children and fifteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings, believing all good things come from God. She prays her story gives God glory and minister His love, mercy, and grace. She lives in Clarksville, Texas with her husband and two grandsons.



Thank you so much, Caryl.

You can learn more about Caryl, follow, and contact her at the links below. And if you leave a comment and sign up for her newsletter, The Caryler, you will be entered in a draw.

Until next time, blessings and happy reading.

All Books

Sing a New Song 

Website  (All First Chapters are offered here)

Newsletter  (Get FREE books for subscribing!)

Christian Evaluaters








Christmas Read, anyone? Part 4.

Drum roll please ! I’m delighted to announce the winner of Darlene Franklin’s novel, An Apple For Christmas. Congratulations go to Robert Nacke. Thank you so much for taking part in this giveaway. Darlene will be in touch with you soon.

I can’t believe this is already part 4. But don’t go away. There are several more to come and we draw one random winner for each book we feature. That’s two winners a week. And today is no exception. It is my pleasure to feature Tina Pinson, and her Christmas novel, Christmas in Shades of Grey.


Tina Parson


Award winning author Tina Pinson resides in Mesa, Arizona with her husband of 30+ years, Danny. They have three sons, and seven grandchildren. She writes poetry, loves to doodle, sing, and enjoys gardening. She prays her stories will transport you to worlds beyond, touching your spirit, and giving you a closer insight to yourself and God. Her books are available at online retailers. You can learn more about Tina on her blog, and her website. And you can follow her on Twitter.


Tina's book


Here’s a little about her book:

It’s Christmastime. David Pareman lies in his hospital bed, dying. The staff visits him, as does a drug induced cowboy and yellow-eyed monster. But not his children. He fears he’ll die alone without a chance to share his heart.

When Arion, a stranger with vast knowledge of David’s life and a shroud of mystery over his own, comes to visit, David thinks Arion is from the newspaper. He learns otherwise. Soon David is tripping through his past in search of the answer to a soul-searing question. “What in your life merits God answering your prayer?”

Through his past and those of his children he hopes to reach, David finds little to balance the scales against him. He believes he’s no good, with nothing of merit that would make God want to help in him. Then he remembers the truth of Christmas and the love the Father sent to earth.

Sounds like an awesome read to me. And I know you’ll want to read it too. Here’s your chance to get a copy.

We’ve talked about what we love most about Christmas, we’ve shared our favourite Christmas songs, and the important “things” on our wish list. Now let’s talk about traditions?

In all your years, what was your MOST UNUSUAL Christmas tradition. As a child or grown up, it doesn’t matter. Leave a comment below for a chance to win Christmas in Shades of Grey. Best of luck. I’ll announce the winner Monday. Until then, have a blessed weekend, everybody.

Renee-Ann <><