I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, March 30, 2012

Five Tips for Writing for Love Inspired Suspense

Five Tips for Writing for Love Inspired Suspense

-- By Guest Author Sandra Orchard

Be sure to read all the way to the end to learn how to win a copy of Shades of Truth!

I’ve learned a lot about my editor’s expectations in the process of writing my first three books for the line, and yet, I still don’t always see the pitfalls in my proposed stories until my patient editor points them out. That’s why I’m now revising a proposal for my fourth book.

So…when Roxanne Sherwood invited me to write a guest post for The Ponderers, I decided to share the things I’ve learned (and often forget when caught up in idea) about my editor’s expectations. Although you may not be interested in writing romantic suspense or writing for one of the Love Inspired lines, I hope these tips will provide food for thought and generate some interesting discussion.

Here we go…

Tip 1:

The heroine needs to be in jeopardy throughout the novel. If the impending danger to the heroine isn’t obvious from the outset, ideally it would be hinted at on the first page.

Tip 2:

While the line is not interested in publishing cozy mysteries, they do like a mystery as to who the villain is.

Tip 3:

Romantic tension is as equally important as the suspense. After every proposal I’ve presented, my editor has asked: What is keeping the hero and heroine from pursuing a serious relationship with anyone, not just each other?

Tip 4:

For the reader to truly care, the suspense plot needs to be personal to the heroine. It’s not enough that she’s in danger because she happened into the middle of some dangerous case the hero is working on. She needs a stake in what’s happening beyond getting out alive.

Tip 5:

Bring the hero and heroine together on the page as quickly as possible, and keep them together on the page as much as possible. That is to say, don’t spend scene after scene following the hero as he hunts down a criminal with nothing more than an odd thought about the heroine. On the opposite extreme, do not have the hero and heroine admit their love to themselves, or each other, too soon.

According to my editor, that kills the romantic tension. The obvious exception would be when the hero and heroine start out loving each other and the plot piles on all sorts of reasons why they are not right for each other.


Sandra Orchard won the 2009 Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence for Mystery/Suspense and sold to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense the following year. Shades of Truth (March 2012) is the second book in her series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.

Recently, Sandra also received an offer from a trade-length CBA publisher for a new three-book series! But details will have to wait until the ink is dry on the contract. ~grin~

Sandra is a member of ACFW, RWA (and its Faith Hope Love chapter), and The Word Guild. For those targeting LIS, you might like to know that Sandra is available to do critiques for both this year’s Write!Canada and ACFW’s annual writer’s conference.

You can connect with Sandra at: http://www.SandraOrchard.com where she offers resources for both readers and writers, also at http://www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard and http://www.SandraOrchard.blogspot.com



Big city detective Ethan Reed is working deep undercover at a Christian youth detention center. The kind of place he spent some harrowing time in as a kid. Ethan’s mission: ferret out who’s recruiting resident teens for a drug ring. He expects help from the lovely, devoted director of Hope Manor. But Kim Corbett won’t tell Ethan anything— even when she’s threatened and attacked. When Ethan discovers what Kim is protecting, his guarded heart opens just a bit wider. Enough to make this the most dangerous assignment of his career.

Shades of Truth will only be in stores for one more week so don’t miss your chance to pick up a copy!

Roxanne Sherwood: Sandra, Thank you so much for being with us and sharing those excellent tips. I can't wait to read Shades of Truth and to hear details about your new trade-length series. Congratulations!

It really makes sense to support businesses that sell Christian fiction and buy in bookstores when we have the opportunity. We want to ensure those businesses stay in business when our books are for sale. ;-)

Leave a comment or question for Sandra with your valid email address, and you'll be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Shades of Truth.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Friendships That Last!

Hi Y'all,

It’s Alena Tauriainen and I wanted to talk a little about friendship.

Specifically David and Jonathan.

Have you read the story? You can check it out in 1 Samuel: 18-20.

King Saul was very jealous of David, a mere servant. Saul wanted him to die.

Jonathan was King Saul's son and befriended David. When Jonathan realized his father meant to harm David, he chose to do what was right and help protect David.

Let’s think this friendship through:

He was the king's son with all of the power, wealth and authority that came with that position.
He was next in line to be the king -- as well as his sons after him.

Now let’s look at David.

A shepherd boy.

When the prophet went to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king, David wasn’t even considered at first! He was the lowest guy on the totem pole. Even his family thought so.

Jonathan puts his future on the line to save his friend. Amazing.

No doubt about it. He saved David’s life one day in the field, when he told David to run away from his father's rage.

Here's another interesting fact: Ultimately Jesus came through the line of David.

Where would we be if Jonathan and David weren’t friends? If Jonathan hadn’t risked his own future for David? We are still reaping the benefits of that friendship many, many generations later.

My friend Julie was a great co-worker. That’s what earned my respect for her and made me listen when she spoke and why I agreed to go with her when she invited me to her church. The day I went, I met my Savior.

I’ve lived for God more than half my life and have raised four children to love and witness to others about our amazing God.

Julie’s friendship has affected the next several generations of my family.

Your friendships matters. Your friendships make a difference in others' lives too -- sometimes for generations to come. Can you see it? How have your friends influenced you?

Alena Tauriainen
Proverbs 3:5&5

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Random Box

by Teri Smith

Writers use many techniques to escape the typical, most expected way of saying things. We beg or bribe (with chocolate) fellow writers or family members to brainstorm with us. We open a dictionary at random and pounce on a word with a finger. Anything to shake us out of the first idea that pops in our heads.

But since writing most often sends us into solitary confinement, I love to use my Random Box. Open my box, and you'll find it's packed words. Words that I've stirred, mixed up, and chosen at whim. I fill it mostly with strong verbs and specific nouns. I toss in the occasional sensory adjective. But most important, I fill it to the brim.

     How in the world do I use such a thing? Suppose I want to describe the heroine looking out over the sea at the sunset. I could use the same, tired phrases to describe a sunset, or I could draw out some random words from my box.

     I'll draw out some words now: scanned, bundled, spattered, whirled, peppered. I might write: Candice scanned the horizon as the sun whirled its reds and pinks across the sky.

     Okay, maybe that's not genius, but it did get me, even at the spur of the moment, out of a typical description of a sunset.

     Now here's a challenge for you. Describe what she might hear while standing on the edge of the cliff gazing at that sunset. Here's some words randomly chosen from my box for you to work with: howl, snip, prowl, wrestled, shuffle, tick, skedaddle. You don't have to use all of them. Choose any that strike your creative fancy!

     Or if you wish, you can tell me how weird writers sound when they talk about things like random boxes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pearls: Turning Insistent Questions into One-of-a-Kind Characters

by Delores Topliff    

Like Harriet Beecher Stowe's character Topsy, sometimes our characters "just growed."

After moving 1800 miles from western Canada to Minnesota, I wanted to write more. My first step? Taking a children's literature course to gear down my college-teacher brain for less-complicated storytelling.

One assignment required developing a character sketch, but who to focus on? I recalled a foster girl entering my 6th grade class one November, who then disappeared during Spring Break. That tall girl, who was my size, started punching me in the restroom one day without provocation. (Nobody won.) Years later, I realized her blows were an effort to communicate. I wished I could find her and befriend her.

I searched for her without results. She may have married. Or, like other classmates, passed away far too young. But I couldn't get Mildred out of my mind. My "what ifs" wondering about her soon prompted me to write a character sketch based on her.

What I knew of Mildred soon blended with my own life experiences and those of young people I've know and taught through the years. Possibilities, imagination, unique character traits -- all combined to grow into someone I knew and mostly liked. She was still recognizably Mildred -- but with added elements of many other girls, as well. The more she came to life, the more I learned from her. In the process, I found I love creating characters and hearing their stories. Love walking their journeys with them as they avoid narrow escapes -- or not -- and regain balance, celebrating victories with wisdom learned that enriches us all.

Pearls grow when small irritations invade oysters but get covered over with protective nacre coatings to make them smooth, comfortable and lustrous. Similarly, our characters often begin with niggling, irritating questions which, under many subsequent protective coatings of our imagination, become something lustrous, valuable -- and worth keeping.

I don't know Mildred's remaining life story. She does have permanence and honor in my mind and writing.

What seed character is niggling your imagination today? What is he/she saying to you now, craving expression? Faithfully record each new story waiting to be born.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Smallest Voice Can Have the Greatest Impact

Good morning, readers! Lisa here bringing you a public awareness post instead of a traditional Ponderers post.

Our Ponderer friends will recognize this sweet guy’s smiling face. For those of you who may be new to the MBT Ponderers blog, this little guy is Ollie, the nephew of our very own Melissa Tagg

We have been praying for Ollie (and his parents, Amy and Chip) since the day we learned he had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Despite his special abilities & challenging health issues, he has brought a lot of joy and delight to his family... and those of us who never tire of Aunt Melissa's Ollie stories and YouTube videos.

This past Saturday I spent a beautiful sunny day inside our local Holiday Inn attending a six-hour training for my day job in early childhood education. As someone who works with children on a regular basis, I understand the importance of being a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Kurt Kondrich, a husband, dad, former police officer, and an early intervention specialist, directed the first session, Meet Chloe’s Dad—The Importance of Early Intervention. Instead of boring the room with facts and statistics, he made his presentation personal by sharing his story. Kurt’s youngest child Chloe was born with Down Syndrome. Through early intervention, Chloe has overcome many challenges that accompany her special abilities such as reading by the age of 3, attending a full inclusion classroom, and meeting with political officials, community members and major sports personalities for her small voice to be heard.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day. The 21st signifies the extra chromosome people with Down’s Syndrome possess. (And Melissa told me Ollie is 21 months old today!)

Fifteen years ago, my niece was born prematurely due to prenatal complications and special abilities. Through the years Lilly has taught our family what being special truly means. She ministers to people with her unconditional love and ability to encourage others. Her sweetness hasn’t been soured by the cynicism of life. I simply can't imagine not having her in our lives. Naturally we'd prefer she didn't have the physical and medical issues that limit her. God knew what He was doing when He gave her the parents she has. They are her voices when she can't speak for herself. 

This isn't a typical MBT Ponderers post, but writers yearn for their voices to be heard. Imagine if no one could hear us? Then what? Wouldn't we want someone to speak up for us? 

These are just three children of thousands upon thousands whose voices can easily be drowned out. Our words and our actions need to be their loudspeakers. If we partner with our friends who have special abilities, then we can be their voice and advocate on their behalf. And the smallest voices can have the greatest impact. After all, God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 

Your Turn: Has your life been blessed by a child or adult with special abilities? How can you help be a voice?

Lisa Jordan

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why do you read fiction?

Photo Credit
Hey friends, Melissa here, with a truly epic story! Okay, fine, it's really not that mind-blowing. But if you're a fiction reader, it might just cause you a moment's interest...

So, I'm visiting an absolutely wonderful 86-year-old woman.

I arrive at her house and she has tea and treats all ready. And like every time I visit, we spend a couple hours talking. She tells me about the basketball game she's going to watch that night. The 50-some hats she's crocheted for the homeless ministry where I work. And...

How she doesn't read fiction.

Oh, she reads, all right. Probably a dozen books a month. But no fiction. Because in her words, "Why would I?"

Try to imagine me, if you will. Choking on my tea. Snorting it up my nose. Trying not to spit it out. Or laugh. Or cringe.

I love this lady like crazy. She amazes me with her faith and wisdom and energy.

But she doesn't read fiction.

During the course of our conversation a few weeks ago, I decided I'd leave out that teensy tidbit about me being an aspiring novelist. Figured maybe she didn't need to know. But I couldn't help giggling about it later in the day.

See, I'm sooo polar opposite. I can't understand not reading fiction! Sure, I read plenty of nonfiction - usually devotionals and the like. (Um, but I've never read Blue Like Jazz. Am I still technically a Christian? Hehe.)

But her question did get me thinking:

Why do I love fiction so much? 

I drink the stuff in, I'm telling you. Is it the escape? The adventure? The romance? The connection I feel to characters? Maybe the opportunity, while buried in those pages, to experience a life different than my own. I certainly also love stories which make me think, stir up my faith, encourage and inspire me.

It's probably all that and more. Mostly, I love stories. Somehow a good story has this way of giving life to thoughts and emotions in me I sometimes never knew I had...if that makes any sense at all.

I feel like I'd miss out on so much if I didn't read novels. Can't give 'em up.

But if you don't mind, we'll just keep that between you and me and not a certain 86-year-old friend of mine. :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts! I'm guessing most of you do read fiction. Why? What do you love most about it? Are there upsides and downsides of reading fiction? Or if you're more into non-fiction, go ahead and confess... :)

Melissa Tagg

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pondering Writer's Block

writer’s block (noun) : a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.

My name is Heidi and I am paralyzed by the fear of deadlines. I didn't realize it (or I was in denial) until a few weeks back when I had a startling revelation while commenting on another blog post. Apparently, it terrifies me that my favorite authors’ books are often available for pre-order on Amazon when I know for a fact they are still being written.  Deep down, I know once I actually publish something, I will be subject to these kinds of deadlines. This has, I think, led to an extended period of writer’s block.

Writer’s block happens for a variety of reasons, from physical problems to mental blocks to simply trying to do too many things at once. Whatever the cause, it can be incredibly frustrating to know you have a story to tell, yet be unable to tell it.

I wish my fear of deadlines was my only problem. I know I regularly take on more projects than my physical limitations allow and I never seem to get enough sleep. In addition, during the cold, gray months of winter, I often feel like my creativity is hibernating.

So, with Spring scheduled to, well, spring next week, I’d like to share a few suggestions to beat the block.
  1. Treat writing like it’s your career and schedule yourself to work, preferably at the same time every day. Then, show up.
  2. Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself permission to write badly.
  3.   Remove as many distractions as possible. Disconnect your computer from the Internet if you have to.
  4. Set deadlines. If it helps, find a partner and set goals together. It doesn’t have to be another writer; I have a friend who is a painter and we just figured out we both struggle to make our art a priority. We recently agreed to pray for and encourage each other as we try to attain our goals.
  5. Consider your writing space; make sure your chair is comfortable and your desk is well-lit. If you are struggling at a desk, charge your laptop and go to a coffee shop or head outside to the patio.
  6. Try writing the old-fashioned way: on a notepad, with a pen or pencil.
  7. Watch your favorite movie and take notes. Find the lies the characters believe and the black moment. Rewrite the ending.
  8. Talk over your story with a non-writer friend. Put on your thickest skin and then give your friend permission to give you brutally honest feedback.
  9. Go for a walk or a run. There's nothing like some fresh air and exercise to get the creative juices flowing. I know a lot of writers who do their best thinking when they're sweating.
  10. Remind yourself why you write. Read my fellow Ponderer Melissa's recent post and ask yourself the WHY questions.
Above all else, remember that by its very definition, writer’s block is usually temporary. The sun will shine, and the words will come. But, if all else fails, call Writer's Block 9-1-1 or download this free e-book on breaking through 20 Creative Blocks.

Your turn:  What do you think causes writer's block? What do you do when you are blocked?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pondering God...as a New Parent

There’s nothing quite as precious as a baby. Their little hands, their little feet, their absolute dependency on someone to take care of them.

I love kids, but I have to admit, I was completely unprepared for how much I would love my own daughter. She had my heart from the moment I laid eyes on her. I’d do anything for her, and want nothing but the very best for her. Confession: this means I’ve already called the after hours emergency hotline convinced she had an intestinal bleed. Oh…the perils of being a new mother. I can’t imagine what I’ll do when she’s actually bleeding!

Looking at her has made me look at my relationship with God in a different light. Intellectually, I’ve always known I’m God’s kid. I know He has good plans for me. But I never knew what this meant from the perspective of a parent’s heart. Looking at Haley, I have the tiniest insight into what God sees when He looks at me. Someone He longs to hold, to comfort, to protect and provide everything for. Someone He finds joy in spending time with and watching grow.

I can’t fathom how painful it will be if my daughter tells me she doesn’t need me someday. I anticipate this will happen somewhere between ages two and thirteen. Even so, I know I will always love Haley, even if her actions hurt me. Her birth has caused me to ponder how often my actions tell God I don’t need Him. Yet, He still loves me unconditionally. Her arrival has taught me an unforgettable lesson about God’s character.

What life experiences has God used to teach you about who He is?

(And yes that is a shameless picture of my adorable daughter Haley Grace!)


Photo by Stephanie Gullifer Photography

Monday, March 12, 2012

4 Tips for Using Contest Feedback to Improve Your Writing

Guest post by Jeanne Takenaka

I've had some firsts this last year. The one that stretched me the most has been learning the craft of writing. I entered my first writing contest last spring -- The Frasier -- hosted by My Book Therapy (MBT). I went in with goals, nurtured a few hopes, and did my best to leave expectations sitting on my back deck.

I endeavored to not think about the contest every day between "Send Day" and "Receive Day." The afternoon the email arrived in my inbox, eagerness jumped up and down in my heart. How did I do?

After reading the introductory letter from Susan May Warren, I prayed that the Lord would help me have a teachable heart. My goal had been to learn how to become a better writer. I read the judges' comments and studied my scores. The positive remarks encouraged me. The suggestions for improvement gave me much to contemplate. I read through them twice. Then I set the pages aside for a day or two, allowing the judges' thoughts to simmer in my head.

Being an analytical person, I considered how to best benefit from the gold I'd received from the judges. I created a chart that showed each category and sub-category. Inputting the judges' scores for each sub-category, I evaluated them considering a few things:

  • I figured that the sub-categories where both judges' scores were the same reflected a consistent strength or weakness in my writing. If there was a big discrepancy between the two scores, I decided to speak with a trusted mentor on how to decipher what that meant.
  • Looking at the categories where both judges gave a lower score showed me areas I need to develop my writing skills. I considered both the positive and negative teaching comments. Each judge offered specific suggestions for enhancing my writing.
Though not everyone is an analyzer, here are a few things I learned from my contest experience:
  1. Identify what will best help you use contest scores to better your writing skills. Charts may not be your thing. Maybe highlight the positive comments in green and the "needs improvement" comments in yellow. 
  2. Don't focus only on the negative. When judges offer positive comments and suggestions for improvement, believe in your writing strengths as well.
  3. Add the proverbial grain of salt. Remember scores tell you something about your writing, but judges are subjective because, well, they're human. If you disagree or don't understand a score, talk with someone you trust -- a mentor or critique partner -- for clarification.
  4. Above all, have a teachable spirit. Remember, God gave you your story, and He'll help you write it with help from others.
How have you taken contest scores and used them to become a better writer?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Friend Challenge

The bird a nest,
the spider a web,
man friendship.

~ William Blake ~

Hi, my name is Jenness Walker, and as you probably already know, I’m a list-a-holic.

It’s true. I write them. I lose them. I write more. I add things just so I can cross them off in five minutes. At work, at home, in the car…I have lists everywhere. Partly because I’m busy. Partly because I’m disorganized and need something to keep me in line. Partly because I feel a compulsion to write something—anything—all the time.

But sometimes I get caught up in making lists and checking them twice (or, um, losing them) and forget that relationships deserve my time, too. My solution? They’re going to be added to my list. J But I have a feeling this one thing will have more return dividends than most of the other items.
Here are some things I’m working on:

~ Make one phone call a month to someone I haven’t talked to in a while.

~ Send one hand-written letter/card a month to someone who has blessed me over the years.

~ Send one Facebook message a month to an old friend I need to catch up with. No having to look up
an address or anything on this one. How easy is that?

~ Organize a girls’ outing every month—from something as simple as a quick fun for Frosty Floats that we drink in the car while me and my bestie talk, to a dinner and shopping outing with all my gal-pals.

This last one, I believe, is vitally important for us girls—not necessarily to keep friendships going, but for the sake of our sanity!
That all should be easy enough, right? The letter thing is the hardest, in my opinion. Something about hunting down an address stalls me every time. But I will persevere.

Meanwhile, is there anything else I should add to my list? Friendships are obviously very important to us here on the Ponderers’ blog. What do you do to keep your friendships alive?
A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often--
just to save it from drying out completely.
~ Pam Brown ~

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Picked Up Any Snakes Lately?

by Pat Trainum

Have you ever put your heart’s desires on God’s altar? Given them to Him in order to pick them up His way? Like Moses...The LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it (the staff that had become a snake) by its tail.”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. Exodus 4:4

God didn’t put something new in Moses’ hand—He created something better out of what Moses already had. But it was no longer an ordinary staff. This is the staff that brought plagues down on Pharaoh and parted the Red Sea. It struck the rock at Horeb and gave water, and gave victory to the Israelites over Amelek. It was God's amazing staff.

God can do the same thing with us, if we’re willing to give him our desires.

Several years ago, I had decided to take a year off to write my murder mystery. I was cruising along, totally loving this writing time, when I felt God leading me to write an abstinence curriculum.

“God, are you sure? I mean…I don’t like to write non-fiction. I want to write about romance and murder and suspense..You know, scary stuff.”

Did I mention I didn’t want to do it? But I had recently put my writing on God's altar, and if that's what He wanted...

For the next ten years, I worked in the abstinence program, co-writing a curriculum and then teaching it. Lives were absolutely changed. Mine included. He didn’t give me something new. He took what I had and made it powerful.

Then, one day during my prayer time, a fragment for a new scene in my old manuscript popped into my mind. Then another. It was like God giving me permission to go back to writing suspense and romance. Again not something new, He just made the old better, giving me really great mentors like Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. And He blessed me with the best critique partners in the world.

I’m going to leave you with Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. I believe when you delight yourself in Him, His desires become your desires.

Leave a comment, and tell me the kind of snakes God has asked you to pick up.

Pat Trainum

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Being Intentional

By Paula Boire,

writing as Sara L. Jameson

Here we are, on the cusp of spring. And if you’re one of the lucky ones living in the Desert Southwest, spring is already here. All those autumn rains have blessed us with a bumper crop of wildflowers. It makes hiking the canyons, my water bottles on my hips, a mini journal in my fanny pack, even more delightful. In fact I so love being out there, sometimes it’s hard to make myself do those other pesky things I need to do.

As a confirmed workaholic and multi-tasker, the past months I worked hard (I’m not talking about hiking here) but nothing seemed to get finished, so I prayed about it. A lot. God’s answer was, “be intentional.” Uncertain what He meant, it slowly became clearer: it wasn’t enough to set general goals.

He wanted me to prayerfully commit a time frame to work on a project and determine a specific goal to be accomplished within it; whether it’s doing laundry, ironing, working out at the gym, writing letters, editing, working on one of my WIPs, or—Wow!—even a specific chunk of time for fun!

For me, having goal-dedicated time for R&R was a novel idea. Surprisingly, this makes doing lunch or a movie with friends, extra special. And the minutes of the day begin to feel like gift-wrapped presents.

Because being intentional is also about enjoying the moment. Getting things done in less time. Deciding on a specific goal—I will iron four shirts in the next half hour—creates a sense of real accomplishment. (Leaving more guilt-free time for writing!) Even ironing is more enjoyable. Well . . . sort of.

I still pray about how to spend the day and I still stumble with being intentional.

As a writer it has meant designating a specific time frame to explore some of Donald Maas’s writing prompts on his website. Result: some scenes and paragraphs I’m now incorporating in a new WIP. Or focusing on specific scenes or a novel by a favorite author. Goal: to master a troublesome craft issue.

You’ll notice the word “specific” a lot in this post. I’m finding specificity is key to mastering being intentional. It adds variety to life. Things are more fun. Yep. Even the ironing.

How is God teaching you to juggle life’s responsibilities as a writer?

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Book Therapy Deep Thinkers Retreat: It's all about the friends (and writing too!)

By Jennie Atkins

One house…seventeen women…three square meals a day plus snacks…two fabulous teachers…one guardian angel…one house mom…five days…three movies…a smattering of sunshine…no husbands or kids…twelve new stories…fourteen plus hours a day of pressing in…five different colors of Post It notes…a little dancing…

New friendships formed…


You can’t live in one house with sixteen other women and not bond. Let’s face it women communicate, share their dreams, and proudly display pictures of their children and grandchildren. Then we let Susie read aloud our “creations”, our works of art, and the words drawn from the depth of our very being.

Talk about baring your souls!!!

I just returned from My Book Therapy’s Deep Thinker’s Retreat in Destin, Florida. The sunshine decided to limit its appearance to one morning, but that didn’t stop us from soaking in all we could from authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. But more importantly, writers bonded.

Although writing is a very personal process, we need a support group. We cannot write a book alone. You can…but…it’s always helpful to be able to bounce concepts and story snippets off someone else, brainstorm different options, or just to be encouraged that you are not the only one stressing over the words in one sentence, or the fact that your character lacks depth. The best part of being a writer (besides a signed contract from a publisher) is getting to know other writers along the journey.

From the start, the writing community has amazed me. Even published authors have been eager to help and cheer me on. Why? Because they’ve struggled just like me and you to create a masterpiece, to make their presence known, and to be published.

From this I can only encourage you to…one…plan on attending the next Deep Thinker’s retreat (my plug for Susie & Rachel), and…two…get involved with other writers.

Now it’s your turn. What friendship have you formed at any of the MBT retreats or other writing events that has helped in your writing adventure?