Greatest influencers in my writing


I’d make a lousy police investigator. When I watch a suspense on TV with my husband, he always figures out who did what before I do. Here’s what bugs me the most. We’re sitting there, both lost in the story. I’m on the edge of my seat, and ready to dig my fingernails into his arm as the momentum builds. Out of the blue, and as matter-of-fact as can be, hubby says “Bang!” The word’s barely out of his mouth, the bad guy gets shot. How in the world did my husband know that was going to happen when neither of those guys had a gun?  Someway, somehow, he’d figured out someone else was going to show up and shoot the bad guy. It used to drive me batty to the point that I didn’t want to watch those movies with him anymore. He’s good at predicting what happens next–I’m not. That’s the reason I sometimes call him my muse and often go to him for help when I write.

I’ve always loved suspense movies. Let me ask you, though, is there anything better than a good whodunit novel? I like that no one can tell me what’s going to happen before it does.

Back in the late 1980s, I came across one of Mary Higgins Clark’s early novels. I wasn’t an avid reader back then, and had never heard of her. The back blurb of the book sounded  quite suspenseful so I bought it. It had me hooked from the start and kept me reading until the end. The moment I closed the paperback, I had to get another one of hers. And then, another. Next thing I knew, I was buying her books left, right, and centre. Clark’s stories held me spellbound. I loved her writing style, how she hooked her readers and kept them turning the pages, and personally, the fact that I couldn’t figure out whodunit until the end. Her books inspired me to read more. Oh the many nights I stayed up until the wee hours. 

Fast forward to 2009. I picked up a book by T. Davis Bunn, but didn’t notice it was part of a series. I must admit, he too hooked me from the start with his Marcus Glenwood 3-book series and once I was done, I had to read the other two. Bunn’s writing is much different from Clark’s but still a suspense/thriller style I absolutely love reading. I have acquired more of his books and he’s actually one of the few authors whose books I still collect. Reading Bunn’s books, more specifically his Marcus Glenwood series, inspired me to write again. It was something I’d done for many years but had never taken seriously. I decided it was time I did. 

Since then, I’ve read tons of books by great novelists. Some have left a footprint on my heart. If you were to ask me who has been the most influential writer when I decided to pen my first novel, there’d be no hesitation. I’d have to name both Mary Higgins Clark, and T. Davis Bunn. Hands down!

Who were your influencers?  


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.

The Benefits of Attending A Writers’ Conference

Have you considered attending a writers’ conference? Maybe you didn’t know where to start? Or couldn’t afford it? This post is for YOU! I provided several links for easy reference.

Writers’ Conferences are a must for every writer, aspiring AND published. Best-selling author Davis Bunn impressed this on me when I wrote Stella’s PleaIt was the greatest lesson I learned as a writer. The tools of the trade you’ll learn at these events from other writers who have been-there-done-that are priceless. The long-lasting friendships you’ll make are invaluable. However, how do you choose among the many conferences out there? Davis recommended the following to me:

WRITE TO PUBLISH (WTP), Wheaton College, IL

I attended in 2012. This was my first major writers’ conference. Words aren’t enough to express the amazing time of growing, and learning. Since I attended, I published Stella’s Plea (Christian Suspense). Others I met there:


Davis had recommended this one first, but I couldn’t make it then. I knew if God wanted me to go, He’d open the door. He did so in April 2014. The setting of Mt Hermon is an absolute haven for writers. Like WTP, it featured awesome writers, teachers, agents and editors. Several of the non-fiction writers I met there urged me to attend ACFW  (American Christian Fiction Writers). I can’t afford two major conferences in one year so I promised I’d look into it later. Oh you of little faith! I may not be able to afford it, but God can. I love the way He orchestrated this.

I’d considered a smaller one-and-half-day conference in Alberta in Sept 2014. When I went to register, a small voice said Wait. So I did. That same week, Karen Wingate, asked our WTP Facebook group if anyone was going to ACFW. I found out it was  same week as the one in Alberta. God knew ACFW was where I needed to go. I can’t wait to meet new writers, and again, to learn more from the best. Here’s a bonus: some of the amazing writers I met at both previous conferences will be there. How sweet is that?

Is God calling you to write? These events are an integral part of your writing/learning process. They are there for YOU. Can’t afford it? Many of them offer full and/or partial scholarships to help you? If it’s in God’s plans, He’ll provide. Just ask Him, have faith, then sit back and watch Him do the rest. His Word tells us He already knows the plan He has for us (Jer 29:11) and, if we take delight in Him, He will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

Blessings always ! Renee-Ann <><

Share The Books

I recently joined a group of authors sharing/exchanging ideas about their writing experiences. I learned a great deal from these people but one of the best ideas I heard was this one:

In her blog, Angela shares 5 novels with her fans on a weekly basis. The first thing that came to mind as I read about that is the wonderful support I’ve had from so many authors since I began writing. I decided to “copy” her idea. I guess it’s time for me to pay it forward.

However, I’m so wrapped up in my WIP (Work in Progress), I can’t promise I will do this weekly. But I’ll try. I also want to go about it a little differently. I’ll start with 1 author, sharing a little bio/bibliography. So without further ado, I’m sharing the books of:

Davis Bunn



What got me AND kept me reading Davis Bunn’s novels is that Christian faith plays a role in his stories.  And for me, as a reader, that’s important.

Fabulous American author, Davis Bunn writes different genres, such as historical fiction and legal thrillers. The latter, his Marcus Glenwood Series, was actually what inspired me to take my writing seriously a few years back. After emailing and telling him how much I enjoyed his series, he replied with great words of encouragement.

His newest release, Unlimited comes out September 1. For more information on this and his other novels, check the Books page on Davis’s site.

For those who are new to my blog, I do want to share and highly recommend the series that inspired me.

great divide



The Great Divide (2001)




   Drummer in the Dark (2001)

winner take all

and Winner Take All (2003)



are fantastic page-turners that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Follow this link to find these and other great novels by Davis Bunn.

Until next time, Happy reading!

Rare Earth: Davis Bunn’s Latest Novel

What do you get when you put Action, Thriller, Adventure, and Suspense all into one? A great page-turner you can’t set down. That’s exactly what Davis Bunn accomplished in his latest novel, Rare Earth, an international thriller that’s sure to please.

I read several of his books, each surprising me more than the last. Davis Bunn’s unpredictability is what I love most about his writing, the way plot twists pop up and how each chapter ends with a “question mark” (so to speak), leaving me wanting to know now what will happen next.

For those who enjoyed Lion of Babylon, the first action packed novel of the Marc Royce thriller series, you’re sure to enjoy the second, Rare Earth as Marc takes on a new assignment in a refugee camp in Kenya, Africa. However, Rare Earth is a stand-alone novel and readers will have no trouble understanding Rare Earth if they haven’t read Lion of Babylon.

After a volcano eruption and drought force people from their villages, Marc goes undercover as a relief worker to bring supplies to those who are hurt, sick, and hungry. But his true mission is to dig deep in the disappearance of a foreigner, and to find answer to several questions. But he’s not exactly welcomed upon arrival. Kitra, a young Israeli nurse and the sister of the kidnapped foreigner, works in one of the camps. Upon finding out who sent Royce, she point-blank tells him to leave. It is only after he earns the trust of a tribal chief and the friendship of a pastor that things start to go in his favour. Together they join forces and aim at finding what’s at the root of the lands biggest problem.

Rare Earth is compelling, riveting, intriguing, not to mention very well written. Davis Bunn has a way of bringing his readers along with him by incorporating historical facts about real places to make reading a learning experience.

Through this wonderful action/thriller/adventure carries a message of faith. Many of the characters are believers and this is brought to the forefront, making this novel a beautiful Christian story.

Rare Earth really touched my heart, for different reasons. I’ve gone to Africa on two separate occasions as a short-term missionary. This experience may have enabled me to connect with the characters more than if I’d never been there. However, Davis Bunn’s clear description makes it easy for his readers to feel as though they were in the background looking in. Even those who’ve never seen this beautiful land called Africa. I highly recommend this book and give it a 5 out of 5.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Centurion’s Wife, by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke


Lately I’ve been sharing not only about the books I’ve read, but those that touched me in a special way. And with Easter less than a month away, I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on a wonderful novel I read recently, one that had a big impact on me.

The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.

Set in the early Christian era, The Centurion’s Wife is a biblically based fiction account of the centurion whose servant Jesus healed before his death on the cross. It tells of Leah, Pilate’s niece and servant to his wife Procula. Leah’s hand in marriage is promised to Centurion Alban but she doesn’t want to marry. In fact, she pleads with her mistress, but to no avail. The wedding will take place, and that’s all there is to it.

Soon after Jesus’ body disappears from the tomb, Procula sends Leah to try to find out whether Jesus’ disciples are planning a revolt. She meets and befriends Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha to name a few. Alban, however, tries to find the guards posted at Jesus’ tomb when the body disappeared. I don’t want to say too much more for fear I’ll give too much of it away, but suffice to say that somewhere in the middle of compelling story of faith and hope, Alban and Leah take you on a fantastic journey of mystery and later, love.

I’m convinced that both believers and non-believers alike will enjoy this book. It is thought-provoking, something I love in a book. I’ve read other books by Davis Bunn but it was the first I read of his novels co-authored by Janette Oke. After reading this one, I’m hooked and definitely want to read more.

To read more about Davis Bunn and Janette Oke, and the books they’ve written, individually and co-authored, visit their websites.