Christian Fiction Lovers Romantic Suspense Facebook Party–So Much Fun!

Wow! Monday night’s Christian Fiction Lovers Romantic Suspense Facebook Party was exciting and–in my estimation–a complete success. So much fun!

In case you missed it … I’m super excited to tell you that my friend Christy win one of the event’s two Grand prizes–the Amazon gift card. Congratulations, Christy Calkins!

Arletta Boulton won the other Grand Prize–all five featured novels by the participating authors. So I will send her an autographed copy of Her Deadly Inheritance. Congratulations,Arletta Boulton!

Wondering what goes on at a Facebook book or author party? Well, they’re an exciting mix of getting to know the authors and their latest novels, fun questions and activities to compete for prizes, bumping into old friends and making new ones. And of course, prizes … because each author also gives away one or more prizes. So, lots of prizes.

My half-hour segment’s two prize winners are Brenda Murphree (e-book of Her Deadly Inheritance) and Trixi Oberembt (pre-ordered e-book of Her Deadly Reunion). Congratulations to Brenda and Trixi! 

Next time you are invited to an author or book Facebook party, I hope you’ll make a point of joining in the fun!

See you there!

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See You at Exalt!

Wow! Can’t believe it, but … two broken ankles didn’t keep away an invitation to serve during the annual women’s Exalt Conference this Saturday, October 20. It’s being hosted at New cup of coffeeLife Community Church in Oshkosh WI.

No, I won’t be speaking. But I will have a table to promote my novels, meet readers, and spread the news about Word & Pen Christian Writers. You never know. Writers and wanna-be writers may be lurking among the attendees. What fun it would be to encourage them.

So, if you live in the area and would like to attend, contact Cindy at 920-235-3670.

P.S. As you know, it never hurts when an event includes a fabulous speaker, outstanding music, and a scrumptious breakfast. Right?

Meet Author Cindy Ervin Huff

Please help me welcome author Cindy Ervin Huff, friend and fellow writer for many years whose debut historical romance, Secrets & Charades, has won three awards. The most recent is the Serious Writer Medallion for 2018. Congratulations, Cindy!

Now how about giving us some insights and behind-the-scene peeks at your writing life and your newest release, New Duet?

Beth, I’m so excited to be your guest again. While I’m still writing historicals, I felt God telling me to write a story of broken people in a more modern setting. New Duet is a contemporary romance set in my hometown of Aurora, Illinois. It has a population of over 200,000 and lots of historical architecture. We also have a thriving art community which appeals to Isabella Wilson, my novel’s heroine. The veteran community in our city is very active as well. So, Dan Sweeney, New Duet’s wounded warrior hero, is getting all the help he needs after returning home. And of course, we have strong people of faith in our community. What better place to set a novel?

Book Blurb: Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt-ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in search of her own identity and a new beginning.

Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.

Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?

The idea for New Duet came while I served on a worship team. A writer’s mind can go to strange places! As I glanced over at the worship leader, I thought, what if he died? (No, I had no evil intent.) My characters tend to talk to me before I even get started on a novel. Isabella told me about her late husband, a worship leader, and her need to get away and find her art muse.

My son is a vet with PTSD which can take many forms and isn’t, as is often portrayed by Hollywood, a walking time bomb. Dan Sweeney has PTSD. He also has a prosthetic leg. Starting his life over after planning to make the Army a career is hard. He needs a service dog. Thus enters Brutus. This pitbull-shepherd mix was a delight to write.

Isabella Wilson goes from serving in the music ministry being remade by her husband to becoming a widow to discovering a new love who allows her to be herself. Thus the novel’s title, New Duet. And yes, some singing is involved.

I loved the opportunity to address domestic abuse within the Christian community and touch on what life is like for a disabled veteran. After all, God is the healer and restorer of the broken, and he gives us gifts we can use for his kingdom when we put him first.

In New Duet, readers will find lots of unique and fun characters who surprised me at times with their insights.

For me, the hardest part of writing any novel is editing. Man, I can miss the most obvious things! That’s why I rely on my hubby and my critique partners to point them out. I just was made aware of the audio app in Word. A monotone voice reads my manuscript. Wow! It is amazing what I see as I follow along. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this app when I was writing New Duet. *sigh*

Anyway, I wrote the majority of New Duet during Speedbo, a NANOWRITMO month in March. I finished it in time for Write to Publish in June 2016 where I pitched it to my now agent Cyle Young. Then I continued editing it until it sold to Clean Reads.

Marketing is evil. I manage what I’m comfortable doing but hired a marketing person to do what I’m not comfortable with or good at. I’m doing more book signing this year. Some venues produce great sales, others are a bust, but if I relied only on online sales I might not build a fan base. Fans are the ones who buy books and tell their friends.

If I wasn’t confident God called me to write, I’d curl up into a ball and quit. His strength keeps me pressing forward. Authors kept saying. “Once you’re published the work is only beginning.” It’s kind of like labor. You don’t truly understand the pain until you go through it. Marketing and building a platform and fighting doubts about the quality of each new novel are a daily challenge.

My favorite things to do when I’m not writing are walking with my husband Charley and reading. I do lots of book reviews because I know how important they are for writers. I also love going to the theater to see super hero and Star Trek flicks. What can I say? I’m a geek at heart. Oh, and I love Hallmark movies. My hubby rolls his eyes at those. Hey, who doesn’t like a feel-good movie.

What am I writing now? I’ve just finished a novella for a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas historical romance collection, The Cowboys. It will release in August 2019, and I’m happy to share the byline with Linda Yezak, Jennifer Hough Uhlarik and Sandra Merville Hart. Since I’m an 80,000-word gal, it was a real challenge to produce a complete story in only 22,000 words. Learned a lot. So excited for my fans to read the collection.

I’ve some other projects on my plate and a novel at the pub board, but nothing else to announce.

Thanks for letting me talk about New Duet, Beth.

Your’e welcome, Cindy. Was great having you visit. All the best to you and your books.

Readers, here’ s little more about Cindy and how to stay in touch with her:

Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer, and her debut novel, Secret’s and Charades, won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014 and placed third in the Maxwell Awards in 2017 and took a first place Serious Writer Medal in 2018. Her contemporary romance, New Duet, released in May 2018. She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a member of ACFW and founding member of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers. Although she has been creating stories in her head since childhood, it wasn’t until high school those imaginary characters began appearing on paper. After raising her family, she began her novel writing adventures. Cindy loves to encourage new writers on their journey. She and her husband make their home in Aurora, Illinois. They have five children and six grandchildren.

Visit Cindy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cindyehuff, follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff, or check out her blog at www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com.

Facebook Author Page: https ://www.facebook.com/author.huff11/
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cindyervinhuff
Google+:https://plus.google.com/u/0/117599590227912410637
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8029703-cindy-ervin-huff
Twitter: https:// twitter.com/CindyErvinHuff

Links for Cindy’s books:

Amazon Buy link for Secrets & Charadeshttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946016144/
Amazon Buy link for New Duet: https://www.amazon.com/New-Duet-Cindy-Ervin-Huff-ebook/dp/B07CRV or https://www.amazon.com/New-Duet-Cindy-Ervin-Huff/dp/1621357635

For those of you who would like a taste of New Duet, here’s the first page. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Bitterness and Guilt

Isabella Melinda Marklin scurried ahead of her husband Ron. She reached the driver’s side door of the red Dodge Durango first. Ron closed the gap between. His breath brushed across the top of her head, “I’m driving.”
She faced him feeling for the handle and pulling the door open.
Anger flashed in his dark brown eyes. Melinda stood her ground. “You have one of your migraines. I’ll drive.” She climbed in before he could grab her arm.
“Fine.” Ron moved to the passenger’s side, slammed the door, and leaned back on the gray leather headrest. “It’s so bright.” His forearm covered his face.
“Here’s your sunglasses.” Melinda took them from the visor before gazing into the rear view mirror. The gravel driveway flowed beneath the tires. Her chest tightened and her hand shook as the gears shifted into drive.
Ron adjusted the sunglasses. “Can you drive a little faster?”
“No.” A tremble escaped her lips. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel. Fear wrestled her confident tone. “We’ve got time.”
“You’d better be right.” Ron massaged his temples with his index fingers. “If we’re late, it’s all on you.”
Typical.
Everything always seemed on her lately. Always her fault, always her problem. Blame had been the morning focus.

Reaching for Your Dream

What is it about a dream–that something we would dearly love to accomplish … if only? I wrote this piece as I struggled toward my dream almost eleven years before Her Deadly Inheritance appeared in print and e-book.

Maybe you’ve felt this way–or feel this way now–as you reach for your dream.

The Frustration

I slumped at my desk and closed my eyes in an effort to trap the tears that threatened to escape. “I’m ready to give up, Lord! I’ve worked on this novel and worked on it some more. It’s just not getting anywhere.”

“I’m weary of the battle, Lord. I don’t think I’ll ever finish it.” Tears traced wet paths down my face.

Oh, great! I palmed them away. “Please, Lord, if you have an idea to share, I could sure use it now.”

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.  ~ Proverbs 16:3 (TLB)

What? Surely God knew I had dedicated each piece of my writing dream to him from the very beginning. Obviously, I was missing something behind those twelve short words.

Something important.

Several hours later, I pushed aside my concordances, commentaries, and dictionaries and picked up what I had distilled from them. I stared at the pages.

So that was the problem.

Committing my work to the Lord involved more than offering a quick prayer before I barreled ahead with my plan. It was spreading everything before the Lord each morning — my manuscript, plans, deadline schedules — and most of all, myself. It was sharing my difficulties and delights with him, both writing and otherwise. It was praying, “Lord, here am I. Use me. What do you want me to accomplish today?”

I knelt down to do that very thing.

Before long I saw significant progress in the novel’s development. Excitement about the project returned! I couldn’t wait to get to my desk each morning and boot up my computer.

How glad I am to have learned this valuable lesson: Being a Christian writer isn’t a simple matter of being a Christian and writing. It’s being a Christian who lays her dream at the feet of the Lord and obeys him. As I look back, every one of my published manuscripts was a fruit of God’s plan, not mine. Painful as all the years of struggle have been, I am grateful that God continues to preserve that precious pattern.

Dear Reader, this piece has been a long time coming, and now you know why. Until next time . . . look to the Lord. He will help you overcome your frustrations!

Copyright 2005 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Are you reaching for your dream? May I encourage you to work at it and stick with it until it’s accomplished in the Lord’s timing? It truly will be worth it all.

10 Benefits Awaiting Writers’ Conference First-Timers

You think you might like to write? You’re consumed with a burning idea but no clue how to take it from writing to publication? Maybe you’re sure you don’t write well enough yet.

Don’t let that stop you! Go ahead and attend a Christian writers’ conference. The benefits are astronomical. Here are just a few.

You will:

  1. Jumpstart your writing dream (You know you have one, right?)
  2. Be inspired by fantastic motivational speakers
  3. Learn from professionals how to write and get published
  4. Meet editors, publishers, and agents face-to-face. Find out what they’re looking for and discover that these brothers and sisters in Christ really want you to succeed.
  5. Receive valuable feedback about your writing skills through manuscript evaluations—maybe even an invitation to submit it for publication or suggestions regarding where to submit
  6. Make enthusiastic new friends who will validate your passion to write
  7. Begin to discover your niche as a writer and God’s plan for your coming year of writing.
  8. Spend a few days in Christian writer’s heaven on earth where people are kind, helpful, encouraging—and fun!
  9. Go home believing you can make your dream come true because you’re no longer alone. God and your new writer friends have your back.
  10. Look forward to next year’s conference to reconnect with your new writer friends, learn more, progress more, and enjoy another few days in writer’s heaven.

Don’t miss out! Sign up for a Christian Writers’conference today!

Here are a few I can personally vouch for:

Or check the Christian Writers Market Guide under “Christian Writers Conferences & Workshops” for other options near you!

Experienced conference goers, please help us out here: What favorite writers conference would you recommend to newbies considering first time attendance? And why?

Talk about Joy and Blessing!

Writers’ retreats are one of the highlights of the writing life. Talk about joy and blessing!

Last week ten of us bubbled over as we arrived at Green Lake Conference Center’s Christian Writing Center. Yup, that’s it. An eight-bedroom, half-timbered English mansion overlooking … ah …  you guessed it … Green Lake. (The windows under the two gables on the far right of the second floor mark the location of my room. The large window to the left on the first floor belongs to the great room. More about that later.)

After lots of hugs plus helping each other unload our cars and get settled in our rooms, we enjoyed a Sunday supper of homemade veggie soup, ham & Swiss and Reuben stuffed breads hot from the oven, cold apple salad, and delicious caramel cheesecake one husband made for our enjoyment. Not a good start for our diets, but most excellent, and we didn’t waste a bite!

We put out jigsaw puzzles, colored pencils & coloring sheets, and games. One of our favorites is “Pilgrim’s Progress.” These along with long walks outdoors in the beautiful sunshine and a fire pit by the lake in late afternoon gave us plenty of activity when taking breaks from writing.

Oh, and we can’t forget the impromptu birthday party for the 82-year-old among us. Cake, ice cream, cards, and more laughter.

But …

We all agreed that the best part of each day came in the evening when we gathered by the fireplace in the great room. Debra accompanied us with her Q-chord as we sang to the Lord. His precious presence was so near and dear. And every night He gifted each of us with personal blessings and encouragement as we prayed and were prayed over.

Then, of course, we read manuscripts and shared stories. We couldn’t help but laugh as Kathi read from her father’s memoirs of growing up during the Great Depression. She’s editing and polishing them for publication. Her dad sure had an eye for hilarious goings-on in his small, northern Wisconsin community.

(By the way, the photo above is a view of Green Lake taken by Debra from the lakeside grounds of the house.)

The Lord blessed us one last time as we departed on Friday morning. We had all packed up before the pouring rain began, and each made it home safely before the big April blizzard hit over the weekend.

YOUR TURN TO SHARE! What special event to you look forward to experiencing each year with family or friends?

 

Guest Blog: Why Do I Write?

Writing is a difficult yet rewarding experience. Readers sometimes ask, “Why do you write?” Writers often ask themselves that very same question!

Here is an inspiring word from poet and author Lois A. Wiederhoeft on that subject. Whether you are a writer or reader, I hope it touches your heart as it did mine:

Job 19:23: Oh, that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! (KJV)

As I searched the Bible for the word “write,” I saw many reasons why God assigned old testament prophets to write on a scroll or in a book. His reasons were mostly warnings to the people of Israel. Some were harsh.

You may ask, “How could God give such tough writing assignments? I thought He was a God of Love.”

He is a God of love, but He hates sin, and his people were deep into sin, worshiping false gods or idols. They were going into extreme moral depravity and behavior. Because He still loved them, He warned of judgement if they did not return to Him.

He did the same thing in the New Testament. It gets kind of rough when Jesus called the religious leaders, “white washed sepulchers.” Paul and Peter rebuked people in the book of Acts for their rejection of God’s commandments, and wanting God’s gifts for the wrong reasons.

So what does that have to do with my writing? He told Jeremiah, in Chapter 30, verse 2, “Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.” (KJV)

If Luke had not written two letters to Theophilus. We would not have the books of Luke and Acts. We never would learn how Jesus started His church if the apostles had not followed His directions. I thank God for His faithful prophets and apostles writing for our instruction and about God’s expectations for our lives.

One blessing about writing: people don’t assume what you’re saying and no one interrupts.

My life as a single person gives me more solitude time which writers need. I have uninterrupted time with the Heavenly Author as He inspires me, mostly in poems. They focus on the Lord, His ways, His Truth, His life, and His compassion for the sinner as recorded in the Holy Bible..

Why do I write?

  • I would be miserable if I could not write what God lays on my heart.
  • I write because I have something to say for the Lord.
  • I write because there is a secret fire burning inside of me. I must share my thoughts with someone else.
  • I write because I realize that I might die next week, or tomorrow, or five minutes from now, and I want to leave something behind for posterity.
  • I write because, along with God, nothing else will fill that emptiness. I want to find a way to connect with someone, anyone who might understand.
  • I write because no other person who came before me or who will come after me will be able to write in quite the same way that I was meant to write.

    I began writing poems soon after I was married, for birthdays of nephews, siblings and my mother. I wrote anniversary poems for my grandparents. But there was a vacancy in my soul, that led me to write as a seeker of the Lord. I wanted to know Him better. I wanted others to know Him. Through the years, I found out I will never know everything about Him, but His Word tells me to seek Him with all my heart, and I found Him. When I found the Pearl of Great Price, He commissioned me to share His truth, obey His truth, and walk in His truth.
    I can now do that in poems, devotions, essays, songs, and by stretching my abilities to writing an assigned Bible study, now in the editing process.