Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dubiosity, by Christy Barritt: A review


Book Description

Savannah Harris vowed to leave behind her old life as an intrepid investigative reporter. But when a friend raises suspicions about two migrant workers who’ve gone missing from the sleepy coastal town Savannah calls home, her curiosity spikes.

As ever more eerie incidents begin afflicting the area, each works to draw Savannah out of her seclusion and raise the stakes—for both Savannah and the surrounding community. Even as Savannah’s new boarder, Clive Miller, makes her feel things she thought long forgotten, she suspects he’s hiding something too, and he’s not the only one. Doubts collide in Savannah’s mind: Who can she really trust?

As secrets emerge and danger closes in, Savannah must choose between faith and uncertainty. One wrong decision might spell the end…not just for her, but for everyone around her.

Will she unravel the mystery in time, or will doubt get the best of her?

My Review

I love a good mystery, and Christy Barritt delivers. Again. But mixed into the mystery is a little suspense, and, of course, a little romance, a recipe for a good read.

The setting, rich with history, also filled my cup, but the beauty of the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay is threatened by the presence of a human predator. And he’s spying on our heroine. Savannah Harris is living in relative seclusion, buried in grief and guilt over the death of her husband and child. That car bomb had been meant for her, she was sure of it. As an investigative reporter, she’d gotten too close to the truth for someone’s comfort.

The characters are well developed, some introduced in such a way that the unseen, and unknown predator could be any one of them. The Bay area is temporary home to many migrant workers, and when several of them mysteriously disappear, one dies, and others grow mysteriously ill, Savannah’s investigative instincts are piqued, especially when her best friend Marti is found, apparently from an overdose of depression medication. Marti is hospitalized and lapses into a coma.

But Savannah doesn’t believe her friend tried to commit suicide. Neither does her new male border, Clive, who has recently moved into her guest house. She is drawn to him, but senses he’s not quite what he pretends to be. But as things heat up, Savannah pushes her doubts aside and joins Clive in getting to the bottom of what’s really happening, eventually putting her own life on the line.
You’ll love getting to know Savannah. You’ll even understand why she’s lost her faith in God. While Clive’s faith, even dealing with his own losses, has been strengthened.

I have read several of Christy Barritt’s previous novels, and this one did not disappoint. In fact, in my opinion, this one surpasses them. And that’s the mark of a good writer . . . to make each book better than the last.

Kudos, Christy!

Buy Dubiosity on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Writer-ly Habits

I am an inveterate snacker when I write. Seems, at times, that I can’t write without something to eat close at hand. Mostly salty stuff, like




Yeah, I know, not real healthy, for me OR my keyboard (crumbs, you know) but that’s what floats my boat.

And, of course, there MUST be


and lots of it. I have a coffeemaker quite close to my desk.

So I’m curious. What crazy habits do other writers have? Do share!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

January New Releases-Vote!

Hostess: Gail Pallotta

January 2015, brought us many great fiction books. Contemporary, historical, young adult futuristic and a suspense novel round out this month’s Clash. Which of these will you put at the top of your to-be-read list?

During the 1960s, Henry Youngblood feels the call to plant a new church. Meanwhile, his wife

wonders how to pay the bills for the new baby, keep their teen-aged daughters under control, and temper the family’s dreams with reality.


Spain 1493: In order to flee the Inquisition, Isabel, accompanied by the husband she was forced to marry, must sail with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Indies. There, amid the hardships of the New World, her character is forged and her destiny reshaped as she comes to terms with who she is.


When Jen unravels the family scandal within the walls of an English country manor, will she reveal the truth she’s hidden for so long as well? Or will she choose to live the lie in order to keep the man she loves?


Sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins never questions her country’s pregnancy termination law for underage girls until she becomes pregnant. Now she must comply or fight to save her unborn child, but fighting means Vivica must abandon her mother, a powerful governor, and side with a rebel organization that’s determined to start a revolution.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When is a game like editing a manuscript?

Maybe I’m stretching this a bit, but last night I got to thinking… yeah, I know, but stay with me anyway.

When I’ve spent a long day writing, I like to unwind by playing a game on my Kindle. Sometimes it’s a word game, other times it’s a mind-challenging game, other’s, and more often, it’s a puzzle game. Like Mahjongg. That’s what I was playing last night. This particular version is timed. Not a race against time, but a race against yourself…you have to beat your previous game time.

As I played, trying to match the tiles, eyes busy, I realized this was a lot like self-editing a manuscript. There are times you just don’t see where errors are hidden.


And, with Mahjongg, you have to decide which is the best match to choose. In the above illustration, you’ll see there are several ways to go. For example, to unblock the lower tiles, I need to start at the top of the stack. So, that means I need to get rid of that top tile of three dots. Can you see several ways I can go? Likewise with the the tiles with five dots.

Now, lest you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain my reasoning. When building story, we spend time finding the right words, phrases, or scenes, making sure we’re moving the story forward. Then, when done with the rough draft, we have to read it through, making corrections, rearranging things.

In Mahjongg, when there are no matches left, it reshuffles the tiles, and you keep matching them until you've cleared the board. In editing the manuscript, it's much the same. Sometimes we have to move—or remove—words, sentences, or entire paragraphs, and keep going until the final draft is ready to be sent to the publisher's editors.

Last night, my eyes were so tired I couldn’t see a match, so I clicked on ‘hint’s’ and it showed a very obvious match that jumped right out at me. And I go, ‘How did it miss that?”

Like I said above, maybe I’m stretching the analogy a bit, but that’s the way my mind was working last night.

What do you think?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Last Witness, Jerry Amernic

THE RESEARCH BEHIND THE STORY, by author Jerry Amernic

Author PicI used to be a newspaper reporter and have a pretty good idea what’s required to write a story. It involves doing research and speaking to people who can help you out. But writing a novel about the last living survivor of the Holocaust, and one that takes place in the future yet, does throw a bit of a wrinkle into the mix.

A story like that, even fiction, needs research, especially when you’re dealing with the life of a little boy who is born in a Jewish ghetto and is later whisked away to Auschwitz with his family. He is the only one who survives.

Over a period of years I did a lot of research on the Holocaust, and after I mapped out where my story was going – both the near-future story and the flashbacks – I zeroed in on books, documents, you name it – that would serve my purpose. It meant learning all about the Jewish ghetto of Lodz, Poland, and the massive death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. But reading only does so much for you. You still need people.

And so, I met with a number of real-life, former child survivors. One of them was a woman who miraculously made it out of Auschwitz at the age of nine. Another survivor was only three when he was liberated and doesn’t remember much, but the scars he has carried for his entire life are much in evidence. Then there was the man who spent three of his teenage years in a Jewish ghetto, and was about to commit suicide along with his mother and father when they were liberated.

Every person I met had their own unique story to tell, and there is a little bit of each of them in my character.

The Last Witness wasn’t only about writing a novel. It became a personal mission for me to try and deal with the worst calamity ever to befall a race of people, and to inject that last living survivor – my last living survivor – into a future world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about what happened. And should there be any doubts about such a future, I suggest you watch this video where we asked university students today what they know about the Holocaust and World War II. Not surprisingly, at least to me, they didn’t know very much.

About the book:

Last Witness Book CoverThe year is 2039, and Jack Fisher is the last living survivor of the Holocaust. Set in a world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century, Jack is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where, as a little boy, he had to fend for himself to survive after losing all his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive.

The Last Witness on Amazon:

Author Bio:

Jerry Amernic is a Toronto writer who has been a newspaper reporter and correspondent, newspaper columnist, feature contributor for magazines, and media consultant. He has taught writing and journalism at college, and is the author of several books.

His first book was Victims: The Orphans of Justice, a true story about a former police officer whose daughter was murdered. The man became a leading advocate for victims of crime. Jerry later wrote a column on the criminal justice system for The Toronto Sun, and has since been a contributor to many other newspapers. In 2007 he co-authored Duty – The Life of a Cop with Julian Fantino, the highest-profile police officer Canada has ever produced and currently a member of the country’s federal Cabinet.

Jerry’s first novel Gift of the Bambino (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) was widely praised by the likes of The Wall Street Journal in the U.S., and The Globe and Mail in Canada. His latest novel is the historical thriller The Last Witness, which is set in the year 2039 and is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust. The biblical-historical thriller Qumran will be released next. It’s about an archeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Blogger Christine Lindsay

It is my great pleasure to welcome multi-award winning author Christine Lindsay and her latest release, Veiled at Midnight, a story set in India during the last gasps of the British Empire’s rule.

This is Book 3 (and final volume) of the Twilight of the British Raj series. Here’s what Christine wrote for this blog:


VAM Polished cover


You Cannot Write Unless You’ve suffered

Ouch! These days I thank the good Lord for my lousy childhood. But it wasn’t until I became a fiction writer that I could say this. Before that I suffered the same battles with bitterness as the next person, as the grown child of an alcoholic. Not to say that your novel can wallow in self-pity—how boring stories like that are. Same can be said for fictional novels with an agenda. Stories with a heavy line to preach are an easy turnoff to readers. So, it’s true, a lousy childhood is a great place to start as a writer, but unless you’ve reached the stages of healing you have nothing to offer your readers.

What would the shadows in a painting be without the sunshine—only a dark painting.

Good Paintings Have Shadows

Have you ever noticed that the best paintings have shadows? The shadows are a foil for the sunshine. Often when I view a painting it’s the dim corners that intrigue me, because I want to know what’s down that murky trail or around that shadowy alley.

The same with writing. I love to read short pieces on humor, but after a while if the stakes aren’t raised, if danger isn’t imminent, if there’s not a chance the hero or heroine will have their heart broken, I’m bored. Stories that keep me rapidly turning the pages are those filled with the pain of suffering, but with the hint of hope on each page, leading to a climax of joy.

Reach Down Deep into Your Gut to Remember what that Hurt Feels Like

In a romance we need to know what it feels like to be lonely, dumped, forgotten, a wall-flower.

In a mystery we need to know what it feels like to be scared, our heart pounding, have secrets kept from us.

In writing a drama we need to know what it feels like to be abused, poor, sick, neglected, etc., etc.

Tap Into Feelings that are Similar

Now granted we don’t all need to know what it feels like to be attacked, or God-forbid—raped, or live through a war or a kidnapping, but we can tap into feelings that are similar.

I remember the day my middle son disappeared. All the neighbors were out looking for him, people were praying. An hour later, he waltzed home, smiling to beat the band, and clutching a posy of dandelions in his grubby little hand for me. Thank the Lord I do not know what it feels like to have my child kidnapped, but I can tap into those feelings of the “Day of the Dandelions” as it is known in our family for all perpetuity now.

The dark shadows of my fear for my little boy only made the sunshine of our reunion all the brighter.

Tapping Into My Lousy Childhood

Memories of my alcoholic father inspired portions of my multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the British Raj. But it only works because I reached healing a number of years ago. I have something to offer my readers.

My entire series Twilight of the British Raj shows the healing of a family first tainted by a father’s alcoholism. In book 1 Shadowed in Silk, my heroine Abby Fraser stands up to her drunken and abusive husband. In book 2 Captured by Moonlight my Indian heroine Eshana stands up to her fanatical Hindu uncle who won’t allow her to live as a Christian. And in the final book 3 Veiled at Midnight my character Cam (who was a boy in book 1) and is now a man, faces his inner demons that he has inherited his father’s addiction to alcohol.

All that trauma and what I call Big Love Stories too.

A dark childhood can be changed into a bright and beautiful life. Mine was. And I promise my readers a happy ending in all my books because I’ve seen happy endings in my own life through my faith.

In triumph I write not about drunkenness, but the tingling feeling of when God makes everything thing new.

Veiled at Midnight is Book 3, the Explosive and Passionate Finale to my multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj.

As the British Empire comes to an end, millions flee to the roads. Caught up in the turbulent wake is Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah.

Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since the days when he played with the orphans at the mission as a boy. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he?

As this becomes clear to Dassah, she has no option but to run. Cam may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again.

Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soulmate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

The 1947 Partition has separated the country these three love…but can they find their true homes before it separates them forever?




Screenshot (3)Cam memeFull Series with transparent background


Author Bio

Christine Lindsay Author picChristine Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that infamous ship.

Stories of Christine’s ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning, historical series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and newly released Veiled at Midnight.

Londonderry Dreaming is Christine’s first contemporary romance set in N. Ireland, published by Pelican Book Group, and she is looking forward to the release in 2015 of Sofi’s Bridge.

Christine makes her home on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books.


Christine’s website follow her on Twitter and be her friend on Pinterest , “Like” her Facebook Page, and Goodreads

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Featured Novel: "This Redeemer"--Not All Prisons Have Bars

“An exhilarating ride full of suspense and hope...”
“…hits the ground running and never lets up…”
“A riveting story with great characters…”

About This Redeemer:
Not all prisons have bars.
Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in one for years. She can handle getting slapped around by her boyfriend, Tommy, and even being forced to do things she would never choose, but when Tommy turns on her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte must try to escape. With nowhere else to turn, Charlotte runs to the stranger her dying mother believed would help her.
Looking only for shelter or cash, Charlotte finds a family she longs to call her own and a gentle man she could learn to love. But if Tommy catches up with Charlotte, these strangers could discover the truth about her. Will they send her back to Tommy? Or can a Father’s love set her free?
"Jerusha keep up the good work I cant wait to read the next book!"
"I just finished reading This Redeemer by Jerusha Agen, and it was excellent -- the best of the series!"
"Love Jerusha's writing style!"
"I am excited for you! Jerusha Agen this is just the beginning of more great things to come!"
"I loved This Redeemer and think it's Jerusha's best book yet. Great characters!"
"Jerusha Agen, your writing is amazing! Thank you very much for sharing your incredible talent!"
"Jerusha! Keep up the excellent work!"
About Jerusha:
Jerusha Agen is a lifelong lover of story--a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and The Love Boat Bachelor from Write Integrity Press. Jerusha relishes snowy Midwest winters spent with her three large, furry dogs and two small, furry cats.
Visit Jerusha’s website at
Follow Jerusha on Twitter @SDGwords and Facebook (Jerusha Agen – SDG Words).

Q&A Interview with Jerusha Agen, author of This Redeemer, Book Three in the Sisters Redeemed Series:
What message do you hope your readers will take away after reading your novel?
I hope and pray that women who are in abusive relationships, poverty, depression, or any other type of seemingly hopeless situation will see in this story that there is hope even in the most desperate of situations, and that His name is Jesus. For readers who have no experience with such desperation, I hope that they will be convicted of the need to selflessly love the “unlovable” in the world and to humbly forgive the “unforgivable.” For all of us, there is hope!
Do you have any practical advice for writers on how to keep their sanity in our run, run, run world?
Staying sane in our hectic culture is my daily struggle! Some things that help me most are setting writing goals for each day and actually quitting for the day when I reach the goal. I’ve found that I have to limit when I’ll allow myself to check email or go online, so that I don’t end up letting my sleep or work time disappear into the Internet vacuum.
As a writer, it’s also too easy to work whenever I’m home, even on Sundays, which translates into no day off from work and eventual burnout. I believe that rest, especially on our day set aside to worship, is crucial to staying in the rat race for the long haul, so I’ve now made every Sunday a no-writing, no-Internet day. I end up with a free, restful day away from social and work pressures that allows me to recharge for the work week ahead. The other essential for sanity is sleep!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thoughts on Prayer

How to Pray

by Peggy Phifer ©1996

You hear it every day.

Oh, God!” “Oh my God!”Jesus!” “Jesus Christ!“ “Oh, my Lord.” “Good Heavens!”

Generally speaking, these words are exclamations of surprise, disgust, shock, or exasperation. In other cases, it’s just plain swearing, out and out blasphemy.

I got to reflecting on this one day when a co-worker dropped her head to her hands and muttered, “Oh, God.” Obviously, she was in distress, and needed help. Was she praying? I’d like to think so.

When we utter those words or phrases above, we are addressing God, Jesus, Lord, and Heaven. Prayer doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t have to be said loudly, or publicly. Anyone can pray, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. Prayer does not need an audience to be effective. The only audience we need is the One to Whom we are addressing the prayer.

When Christ’s disciples once asked Him how to pray, Jesus replied with these words:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .” Matt. 6:9 [NIV]

Of course you’ve recognized what we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer. It’s been set to music, and is used as a general benediction in many church services around the world. In fact, and unfortunately, it’s become so much a ritual that it has lost most of its meaning.

It’s unlikely that Christ intended us to take His words and turn them into a form to be used in unison, repeatedly, in religious services. It is much more probable that He used them as a guide by which his disciples would know the elements to be included in any prayer they offered.

Let’s look at this prayer a little more closely:

“Our Father in heaven . . .” Here, we are addressing the Person we want to hear our prayer. This is exactly like starting a letter: ‘Dear Father . . .”

“Hallowed be your name . . .” We are to acknowledge that our Father’s name is Holy, Blessed.

“. . . your kingdom come . . . “ We know that one day He will bring His kingdom to earth.

“. . . your will be done on earth as it is in heaven . . .” Why His will? Because when we allow Him to be in control, we are giving Him the authority, and permission to do what He knows to be the best possible things for us! Do we always know what’s good for us? Of course not!

“Give us today our daily bread.” This is easy. We are asking, and thanking Him for what He has provided. Notice the word ‘today.’ Again, that’s easy. Christ didn’t say ‘give us tomorrow’s daily bread,’ just today’s.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This is a little harder, isn’t it? Now, I don’t believe the ‘debts’ here mean simply all those bills that have piled up. It also means those wrongs we’ve done to someone. The envy, jealousy, gossip . . . things we’re all guilty of doing every single day of our lives. Okay, here we are, asking God to forgive us for these things, which is good. But, Jesus also included that kicker . . . we also must forgive our debtors. That neighbor who spread those rumors about you. The girl at the office who got the promotion you thought you deserved.

“And lead us not into temptation . . .” Hmmm. Does the Lord lead us into temptation? No, rather, this is a plea that He keep us from being led into temptation, as confirmed in the next words “. . . but deliver us from the evil one.”

Now, how should we pray?

We call on His Holy name; we recognize His Kingdom; we instantly turn our wills over to Him, letting Him know that we want Him to have His way and what’s best for our lives. We make our requests of Him, then thank Him for everything we’ve been given. We ask Him to forget our misdeeds even as we tell Him we’re willing to forgive those grudges we’ve been nursing so long. Finally, we pray that He will protect us as we go about our daily lives, and keep us from the temptations all of us face day after day.

Prayer is a personal thing. It is a private conversation between us and God. You don’t have to use big, fancy words. He knows what you mean. He knows what you’re feeling. You can use simple language, just as if you were on the telephone with your best friend. Because He is just that! Your very best Friend.

Peggy Blann Phifer

Rev. Copyright 2008©

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Plundered Christmas--Pirates, Storms, Murder!

Pirate legends, unexpected storms, murder.
Will Jeanine discover the truth before someone else winds up dead?

About Plundered Christmas:
Compelled to spend Christmas on a private island with her father’s future bride and family, Jeanine learns that Margo Banet is descended from a pirate queen.
Relatives and friends all have their reasons for attending the festivities—including the legendary treasure. But when Margo’s nephew winds up dead and a violent storm cuts them off mainland, Jeanine has to wonder if they will solve the mystery before someone else dies trying.

About the author:
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of kids’ comedy, "Guzzy Goofball" and the "Homeschool Play from Outer Space" and the cozy mystery trilogy by Harbourlight Books which includes the recent Plundered Christmas, is a wife and homeschool mother who writes early mornings in the shadow of our nation’s capital. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers online through Write At Home, and by teaching middle and high school co-op classes. Learn more about her and her projects at

What COTT Voters Had to Say:
--Susan Lyttek, you are an amazing and talented writer.
--Susan, I can't wait to read your new book!
--Looking forward to reading Plundered Christmas!
--Love Plundered Christmas.
--Susan, your work continues to thrive, all for the Glory of God! I'm proud to know you, and can't  wait to read this one! A. Montgomery.
--Susan Lyttek, enjoy reading your books.
--I really enjoyed Plundered Christmas--between the character dynamics and the plot twist I never saw coming--well done!
--Great series by Susan Lyttek!

Chat with Susan:

Why do you write the kind of books you do? I homeschooled and am homeschooling. These are the people I’ve been around for the last seventeen years. That’s also why I weave history in. Every homeschool resource I know targets multiple subjects and levels of learning.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life? My goal is for today, whatever day that is, to be the happiest. It doesn’t always work, especially when I get a piece of bad news or insufficient sleep, but it’s my goal. I want to live contentedly in what my Lord hands me each day.

What is your favorite season of the year? Christmas. Hands down. What’s special about it for you?? I love my heritage and the special traditions that we have. Every Christmas creates new memories that adds to the woven tapestry of what it is. I also love celebrating the arrival of the son of God in human form!

What is something that very few people know about you? I like to read my Bible in French. C’est vraiment la belle langue!

What three things about you would surprise readers? I have a second degree black belt in tae kwon do. I like LOUD music. (I’m a quiet person, so the music thing surprises most people.) I earned a marksman ribbon with the M-16 when I was in the Air Force.

What can you tell us about your current project? I assume you mean Plundered Christmas. In this mystery, we need to figure out why the Banet family has hidden their heritage all these years, in addition to learning who killed Margo’s nephew. Secrets can poison a family and damage relationships. As the Talbotts uncover the truth about Anne Bonny/Banet, it leads to healing for those who accept it.

Find more great reads at Clash of the Titles!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Past Times

My intentions this morning was to cull out some very old files in my Documents folder. Something I shouldn’t have taken the time to do. But that’s neither here nor there. (Didn’t work anyway)

I came across an old, old article I’d written and I thought it would be fun to share. (Please be gentle as you read this. I was just beginning to learn the proper writing skills.)


The PegBoard ©
May 21, 2001

Some Thoughts . . .

I've been following a number of interesting threads in one of my mailing lists. It's a busy list and not all topics that come up are of interest, so I exercise my delete key quite ruthlessly. And, of course, I always end up hitting that key once too often and delete something I did actually want to keep. Fortunately, my email program keeps all deleted email until I actually sign out of it, so it's easy enough to retrieve. Unless, that is, I don't realize I've deleted it until I go back to find it the next day. Then, it's gone for good.

Anyway, back to the interesting topics I've been tracking. One has to do with a filing system; keeping track of manuscripts, submissions, rejections, guidelines, etc. The question was: Do you keep separate files for each of these, or do you keep one file for each project. As you would expect, the answers were as varied as the people who devised them. One gal outlined her system in steps: when she does this, it goes there. Then, when something happens, she moves it somewhere else, and so on. It's a pretty nifty system, but it wouldn't work for me. Though I don't intend to be, I am a procrastinator. I tell myself I'm too busy to move that result to it's proper spot, so I set it aside in a 'to-do' folder, and there it sits. And I really am busy at the time something else requires my attention.

The second option of filing, keeping one file per project, works much better for me. All I need to do is reach for that one single folder and stick the item in it. Done. No need to worry about moving it to some other spot. Is it as effective? Probably not. But it's the best I've got and I (usually) know to what point my work has progressed.

How about some of you? Any special methods you use that we could share? I'd love to hear from you.

The other topic has to do with 'pen names' and this has been a lively, fun discussion. Ranging from using a simple first & last name, such as John Doe, or getting a little more creative. John H. Doe; J.H. Doe; J. Henry Doe; John Henry Doe; John Henry Doe, Ph.D.

In the case of Jane Doe, the possibilities are even more creative. Say Doe is Jane's married name. Her maiden name is Fawn. Her middle name is Mary. Now she has the same choices as John has, with the addition of using her maiden name. So, we can now choose from: Jane Mary Fawn-Doe; Jane Fawn; Mary Fawn, and so on. Can you see what fun we had with this?

Take it a step further, some of us on the list have nicknames, not part of our legal, given names. For example, Peggy is a nickname. My real name is Margaret. That makes the combination possibilities even more fun. One more kicker, say Jane Doe is divorced and Doe is her second husband's name. Her first husband's name was Baker. Her nickname, for some obscure reason, is Judy. So, here we go: Jane Judy Mary Fawn-Baker-Doe, or any combination of them all.

This was all from simply using our own real names. One of the gals on the list writes teen books where her main characters are boys. She uses her initials and last name, which is non-gender-specific. This gives her writing more credibility.

Other things we discussed was if a man wrote romance, would he use his own name? Probably not. He would most likely create a feminine name to give his writing acceptance, or use his initials, as mentioned above. Who would pick up a romance book written by John Doe? John would be better served if he becomes Jane.

So, choosing your pen name can be serious business, considering what you write.

I'd be interested in hearing from you if you have any comments on either—or both—of these topics.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Guest Blogger Michelle Griep

Whispers in Purple is so pleased to feature author Michelle Griep. When I scheduled her for this date, she sent me a tantalizing list of topics to choose from. I chose the one below because I’m in the midst of a writing project and I found this particular article on character building most helpful.

I hope you will find it so, too.


Michelle Griep Headshot


Essentials of Character Building

Guest post by Michelle Griep

No matter the genre, every story has characters. Otherwise, you'd be writing a phone directory. Hold on. Bad analogy. I know plenty of characters in a phonebook, and who uses a phonebook anymore anyway?

As I was saying, sans phonebooks, characters are the main ingredients in a story recipe. There are lots of tricks to jazz up a memorable character, but EVERY character needs some basics . . .


What's makes your character scream like a little girl? Centipedes? The IRS? The threat of an alien probe shoved up their—wait a minute. I'm scaring myself. And that, my friends, is the point. Everyone is afraid of something. Identify what your character is afraid of so you can use that fear to ramp up the tension.


I'm not talking six-pack abs here, though in the case of your hero, that's never a bad idea. Think about what skills your character possesses. Is he a crazy freak with nunchucks? Can she hit a raccoon in the eyeball with a slingshot from fifty yards away? Maybe this character has x-ray vision and can see into people's souls. Whatever. Give them something to work with.


Nobody is flawless, so make sure your character isn't either. Not even your super stud that rushes in to save the day and the damsel in distress in one fell swoop. This can be something as small as an inability to balance a checkbook, or you can create a whopper of a wart like a gambling habit using stolen money copped from nuns.

A Secret

Yo. Buddy. Step a little closer. No, closer. I’ve got a juicy secret for you. Are you leaning toward the screen? That's because you want to know what I've got hidden. Secrets are like big, plump nightcrawlers wriggling on a hook, irresistible to the literary fish. Characters with secrets reel in a reader.


Everybody wants something. A brand-spanking-new Tesla. A mutton lettuce tomato sandwich. The stupid hangnail on your thumb to go away. Your character wants something as well. What is it?


Great characters have lots of layers, and the best kind are those at odds with each other. Example: show a heroine battling insecurity on the inside while acting and speaking with careless arrogance on the outside. The more complexity, the better. Your characters are human after all. Okay, so maybe they’re not real humans. But living, breathing people are reading your story, and that’s who your characters must relate to.


A compelling character needs a cause about which they are passionate, usually one that involves justice. Not that they have to be over-the-top, protest-sign waving hippies. Just give them an issue they care deeply about.

Make sure to incorporate these building blocks next time you construct a character and you'll be well on your way to making him or her memorable in a reader's mind.


Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What to Blog About

purple_question-marksComing up with fresh and interesting content for a daily blog is not only challenging, but can also be quite frustrating. Especially when trying to rebuild the blog’s reader base.

Since moving my Whispers in Purple blog from Google/Blogger to WordPress, my subscribers seem to have disappeared. Of course, that is mostly my own fault for neglecting the blog for so long last fall.

Now that Whispers has settled into its new home, I’ve promised myself that I would do my best to blog daily, Monday-Friday. Um, make that Tuesday-Friday. Throughout the year, almost every Monday is dedicated to the Clash of the Titles posts. (See this past Monday’s post featuring author Janet Sketchley.)

The ‘tag line’ for Whispers in Purple is “Where Writers and Readers Connect . . . and Other Topics of Interest” And that’s where I’d love your help.

What do you most like to see on a blog?

What do you NOT like?

What kind of content would keep you coming back?

What topics interest you? Here are a few I’m considering:

  • Slice of Life
  • Devotions
  • Author Interviews
  • Book Reviews
  • Scripture Study
  • Guest Bloggers
  • Humor/Comic Relief
  • ? ? ?

I would really, really love to hear from you. I’ll take any/all suggestions under consideration. If I use them, your name will be mentioned…unless you tell me otherwise.

Again, thanks for visiting.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Rinse, Repeat

rinse-repeatNo, I’m not going to talk about shampooing your hair.

I’m using the slogan, and image, as an analogy, as it applies to writing. Or rather the editing process.

Some writers dread editing their completed rough draft. They enjoy the freedom—and fun—of just letting the words flow. But when it comes time to start rewriting . . .

I am what they call a pantser. I don’t lay out a plot. I don’t even know my characters very well at the start. I have a vague idea for the plot/story, and my main character in mind, usually with a name. I may do a little brainstorming in a blank document, but mostly I just start writing and let the story, and characters, take me wherever it, and they, want to go.

But, unlike other writers, I do enjoy the rewriting process. Some of the things I need to watch out for::

  • Adverbs: They’re weak writing, but way too easy to let slip in. At least I find it so in my own writing. There’s always a better, and stronger way to phrase that sentence.
  • She, or He: I’m so guilty of this. I start way too many paragraphs that way. “He nodded.” “She smiled.” Choosing to do that, I need to be very clear about who she/he is, especially in lengthy dialog. Even more so if several people are in the scene. I don’t want my readers scratching their heads, asking “Who said that?” I’ve been called on that many times. I need to make sure it’s clear who is speaking, or to whom I am referring.
  • Run-on sentences: I like short, snappy sentences, but sometimes I’ll find a section where I got too carried away.
  • Repetitions: As I am writing, I sometimes forget I’ve already said something earlier in the manuscript.  ‘Wait, didn’t I just write about that earlier?’
  • Pet words: I’ve caught myself using a few favorite words too often.
  • Fifty-dollar words: I love words. Words are my friends. And I like big words. But I need to be careful I’m not using a word my reader has to run to a dictionary to find out what it means.
  • Telling vs. showing: That’s a big one, and all too easy to fall into, because its easy.
  • Anton Chekhov

    “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

    Anton Chekhov

So, rewriting and editing is a lot like shampooing:

  • Lather: Write that first draft
  • Rinse: Reread what’s been written
  • Repeat: Rewrite

Thanks for visiting.a


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Novel Feature: Secrets and Lies by Janet Sketchley


A single mother must protect her teenage son—from organized crime and from himself.

Secrets and Lies, by Janet Sketchley

 About the novel:
Carol Daniels thinks she out-ran her enemies, until a detective arrives at her door with a warning from her convict brother. Minor incidents take on a sinister meaning. An anonymous phone call warns her not to hide again. Now she must cooperate with a drug lord while the police work to trap him. Carol has always handled crisis alone, but this one might break her. Late-night deejay Joey Hill offers friendship and moral support. Can she trust him? One thing’s certain. She can’t risk prayer.

What reviewers are saying:
“Secrets and Lies delivers engaging characters and a sweet romance in the midst of a single mom’s worst nightmare.” ~ Sandra Orchard, award-winning author of Deadly Devotion and Blind Trust

“Secrets and Lies takes up where Heaven’s Prey left off, and is another great thriller by Janet Sketchley. With the backdrop of music and family, Secrets and Lies could really be defined as a retelling of the Ultimate Redemption. Sketchley is very adept at writing about the sometimes intricate and confusing relationships that make up a family. This one is not to be missed.” ~ Linda Hall, award-winning author of Steal Away (Christian fiction) and Night Watch (mainstream)

A note from the author:
Secrets and Lies is a book 2 in the Redemption’s Edge series. I met Carol, the heroine, through writing her brother Harry’s story in Heaven’s Prey, and I knew her life had not been easy. I also knew she needed the Lord. Secrets and Lies gives her the chance to find Him—unless her enemies find her first. For more about Carol and the other key characters, visit the Secrets and Lies book page. Scroll past the buy links, and you'll find interviews and features, plus a YouTube playlist of the classic oldies (with a few extras) mentioned by title in the novel. This is a Christian novel, but Carol loves her mainstream classic rock. Check out the Secrets and Lies playlist on YouTube. There are a few other things in there that only make sense if you've read the book.

What COTT voters had to say:
"Janet Sketchley writes with care and integrity, creating suspenseful stories that stay with the reader for a long time."
"I love a good mystery/suspense read and Secrets & Lies looks fantastic!"
"Secrets and Lies by Janet Sketchley intrigues me and I think, of the six books shown, I would be most likely to add this one to my pile of books to read."
"In "Secrets & Lies", Janet Sketchley has written another "can't put me-down book". It equals "Heaven's Prey" and may even surpass it. Can't wait for the third "Redemption's Edge" novel to be published. Keep up the good work, Janet!"
"Janet Sketchley - this book sounds like something I would love!"
"Almost finished Secrets & Lies. It's another "page turner" like Heaven's Prey."
"Secrets and Lies - great cover for a great read."
"It's such a busy month, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to "Secrets & Lies."
"Janet Sketchley, keep on doing what God's calling you to do! Exciting things lie ahead!"
"Janet, despite the darkness indicated in your title, I'm confident that in "Secrets and Lies" you bring forth the light of truth and the triumph of redemption."
"Janet, You continue to inspire me! You went for it and look at where you are now? 2 novels under your belt! Can't wait to see what God has in store..."
"I thoroughly enjoy reading Janet Sketchley's novels. I feel like I personally know the characters. Best of luck Janet!"

About the author: Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven’s Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption (available as print and ebooks). She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she enjoys music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn’t related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true!

Find Janet online.

Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet’s writing journey through her monthly newsletter.