Thursday, January 30, 2014

Visiting a Friend

Visiting author Jen Cudmore at her blog today. 

If you have a moment, hop over and see us!

Have a great weekend,

Karen :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book & Author Spotlight With Marja Meijers

Marja Meijers joins us today to share about her writing journey and latest book, My Neighbor's House. This talented writer has five books to her credit with sales in the U.S. and overseas.  Please join me in welcoming her today. :)

Welcome Marja! Congratulations on My Neighbor's House. What do you hope that readers will take away from this book? 

First of all, thank you Karen, for inviting me here today. As most of us know all too well, there is a constant battle going on for our attention and devotion. The world tries to pull us away from God’s desire, God’s plan, for our lives. In this book I offer practical tools that will help the reader to pursue Godly goals instead of worldly goals. I hope readers will be inspired and encouraged in their walk with God while living on this earth.

It sounds like a helpful and inspiring book. I'm looking forward to reading it. Now that you have written five books, is there anything you wish you'd known when you started? 

It may sound strange or even funny now, but I am actually glad I was so innocent and inexperienced when I started writing. That childlike enthusiasm and zeal kept me going and still keeps me going, even now that I have learned how difficult it is to remain standing in the publishing world. I seriously think it is to a writer’s advantage not to know too much when starting on this journey, otherwise we would never do it!

I don't think that's strange at all. You make a good point, and I do nderstand. :) I love the cover of My Neighbor's House. How involved are you in the cover selection process of your books? 

For this series I have requested covers with colorful flowers, so the publisher lets me pick a cover from several examples. As far as the European translations of my books, I design the covers myself. This is a new area of artistic work I am taking my first steps in.

You made good choices. All of your covers are vivid and eye catching. I saw where your book Grace of Giving was published in Italian. Congratulations! You have books out in other languages as well, don't you? What is involved in having a book produced in another language? 

Yes, I have German translations as well and a Spanish one is being worked on as we speak. Normally you would need to find a foreign publisher first and then sign a contract. In my case, several translators offered to translate the books. That is when I started to look for publishers, which in some cases was successful (just recently I have had a meeting with a Portuguese publisher who is going to publish one of my books in 2015) and in some other cases I decided to self-publish the foreign books. The latter involves a lot of work such as editing, design, printing and distribution.

Self publishing is a lot of work, that's for sure. I admire your initiative. Congrats on the Portuguese contract too. That's exciting. What advice do you have for aspiring authors? 

Write as much as you can and ask for feedback. Learn to take criticism. Practice as many forms of writing as possible: poetry, fiction and non-fiction, short stories, drama, scripts, etc. Work on your skills and refuse to be discouraged.

That is wonderful advice. You are an inspiration! What's next on the horizon? Do you have more books planned? 

I have been working on a Dutch translation of Respectfully Yours which will be published later this year in Holland. I am in contact with several people about translations in other European languages. As far as the original series in the USA is concerned, I should be working on a sixth book, but I have been procrastinating. Yeah, I admit it. I find it hard to keep focus with so many different things going on. But I will definitely start working on the next one in this series.

If it makes you feel any better, I've been procrastinating lately too. Thank you for joining us today. May the Lord bless your work in the future!

Thank you, Karen. :) 

Here is the blurb for Marja's latest book:

What do we do with the old pages of Exodus 20 in this current age and time? How do we apply them in our daily life? It is one thing to say, Oh, I don’t envy my neighbor, his house, car, or wife. I don’t desire what someone else has. But come to think of it, what do you desire? What are the desires of your heart? Are you passionate for the right things? What does the Tenth Commandment offer to today’s society? How can you benefit from its wisdom?

The message of God's last commandment is both bold and obvious: don’t be envious of others. But that is not always the easiest thing to do, especially with an American media that bombards us with images of size zero celebrities, lavish mansions, and Louis Vuitton. In Marja Meijers’s fifth book in the Ten Commandments series, you’ll learn how to desire meaningful things and apply God's word to everyday life. Join Marja as she discovers the spiritual principles behind the Tenth Commandment.

Click here for info on My Neighbor's House.

Find Marja on:

Her website
Her blog

Do you have any questions for Marja? What are you reading this week?

Happy reading and writing, 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Weekend!

Celebrating Blogtastic weekend here, which is a periodic event hosted by my publisher, Helping Hands Press. If you'd like to check out the other Blogtastic posts, stop by the HHP Facebook page.

In keeping with the "What Makes a Good Blog" theme this month, I'm sharing a post from the archives. Happy weekend! :)

The Blog Baby
My husband listened patiently while I reviewed my to-do list out loud. When I mentioned having to write a blog post a thought hit me, and I said,

"My blog is just like a baby. It requires regular attention and care."

The significance was lost on dear hubby, supportive as he is, for who truly knows what it takes to maintain a blog unless you have one? The idea stuck with me. A baby. Yes, that's about right, it is. This roamed about in my head for about a week or so.

And now the thought is a blog post. Who knew? (Most of you, right? We're writers, after all.)

Don't get me wrong. I love blogging. But the fact remains that blogs require a lot of care if we want them to succeed. They need to be fed, changed, and maintained by us blogging mommies and daddies.

So what's a parent to do? Here are a few things I've discovered after several years of blogging.

1) Keep it short.

Great posts don't have to be long. Knowing that they don't have to be novel length can make the process less daunting. Our visitors' time is usually limited, so this helps them out too.

2) Write and schedule posts in advance.

This handy feature is helpful when going away or facing a jam-packed bunch of days. It's also great if an idea strikes and you have a bit of time to write but don't want to post it just yet. Lee at Tossing it Out discusses it a little more in Scheduling Posts.

3) Offer regular features.

Friday Roundup is a staple at Susan J. Reinhardt's Christian Writer/Reader Connection. Susan shares a brief commentary and a link or two to close out the work week. This type of post might help structure thoughts and can be easily written and scheduled in advance, too.

4) Post less often.

When I started blogging, I nearly swooned at the thought of posting five days a week. There was no way I could work that into my schedule. Three days a week seemed less daunting, but I knew that would be pushing it too. So I compromised, posting two days a week, and that's worked out pretty well. (So regular bouts of hyperventilating were avoided.) I'm now posting once a week so I can focus on writing projects.

5) Take a break.

I need to take my own advice and do this more often. Some blogger friends take the third week of the month (or similar) off. A little time to regroup, refresh, and catch up on other things can be downright therapeutic. Oh yeah, and don't forget the chocolate.

6) Watch for ways to manage time efficiently.

I like to think that I manage my time well, but this is not always the case. And some weeks produce events that just blow my perfectly planned agenda out of the water, and adjustments are necessary. So I'm always looking for ways to streamline and weed out things from an oft overcommitted schedule.

Jody Hedlund offers time management tips in her post, When Social Media Becomes a Time-Suck. One point she makes, "Realize the world will go on fine without us," hit home. Really? The blog world will continue to spin if I don't post? Okay, a bit hard to swallow, but true nonetheless.

Another thought she offers, "Give ourselves permission NOT to keep up," is a revelation that I must heed now and then. What's more important, keeping up with everything or preserving our sanity? I'm choosing sanity.

What about you, is your blog a baby? TLC is important, but every parent knows that boundaries are too.

What steps do you take to care for your blog baby?

Happy writing,


Photo Credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Successful Blog

Once upon a time, I wrote a post and asked, "What are the keys to a successful blog?" This is what readers said:

  • Short posts
  • Not preachy
  • Good presentation
  • Special features and links
  • Faithful posting schedule
  • Catchy titles and openings
  • Topics that generate dialogue
  • Like to hear the writer's voice
  • Helping others is your success
  • Quality, original, interesting content
  • Don't be an advertorial for your books
  • Visiting is an enjoyable, productive experience

This list came to mind because I've been considering my blog's direction for the new year. In addition to directional guidance, I think these points can provide a catalyst and inspiration when ideas are lacking. What do you think? Do these points strike a chord with you?

Speaking of direction and inspiration, these writers offer great insight as illustrated in these posts. I'm curious to see if you agree.

How do you define blogging success? What path will your blog take this year?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Code

Have you heard of The Code? You probably have, although maybe not in those terms. It's what I call the blogging guidelines about followers, comments, content, etc. As newbies most of us muddle through, observing the veterans and gaining hands-on experience. While The Code may vary a tad by individual, locale, and genre, these unspoken rules of etiquette have universal threads. Here are my top items:

Followers - When someone follows you, you follow back.

Do you do this? I do, unless I cannot locate their blog, the topic is something I can't embrace, or is written in another language (even with the translate feature it can be tricky).

Comments - When someone comments, you reply, either within the comments or via email later.

What's your policy? Some argue that people don't come back to see the reply you make. While this may be true most of the time, I've had visitors return and comment on my reply. I also think that when someone visits and jumps into the discussion, they can see that you read and value comments enough to leave a reply.

I liken the conversation generated over a post to sitting around talking to friends. It's one way to help us get to know each other and see what's happening out there.

Time is another factor, and writers often find commenting "one more thing to do". I agree, it is, but I like to show my gratitude and interact with visitors this way. I appreciate the bloggers who shoot me a quick email of thanks when I comment on their blogs too.

Content - Offer interesting content with take away value.

Whether it's how-to info on topics A to Z, book spotlights or reviews, links, interesting musings, stories, or other content, this is a key reason why readers return. Right?

Providing meaningful content is important, for I want readers to come away with something useful, or at least feel like we got better acquainted.

Personality - Be a good reflection of you.

A blog, unless it is strictly for business use, reflects the writer's style. It offers a glimpse into our world and unique perspective. Concerning writing style, I was once told to "Relax and be yourself. It develops over time." Good advice. It applies to blogs too, don't you think?

There are exceptions to The Code, of course, such for those who lack time due to pending projects, family situations and emergencies, seasons of life, and commenting issues and whatnot. While we shouldn't let unrealistic expectations or requirements dictate our signature style, there are elements that can help make our blogs shine.

Do you have a code? What would you add to the list? How does your blog reflect your personality?

A Side Note

I've a guest post up at Gelati's Scoop. If you have a moment, I invite you to hop over. Thanks. :)

Have a great week!

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Could Get More Writing Done if Only...

On my recent break, I planned on getting a lot done. While nice in theory, the reality was that I did not accomplish nearly what I'd hoped.

Can anyone relate?

About halfway through the break, this thought crossed my mind:

I Could Get More Writing Done if Only I...

  • Didn't eat
  • Didn't sleep 
  • Ignored email
  • Ignored social media
  • Didn't clean the house
  • Never had an interruption

Okay, so maybe that's being a little unrealistic. Instead, I'm thinking a healthy dose of realistic goals, self discipline, and grace play a big role here. What do you think?

If you can relate in any way, these links might help. They offer tips for the quest for balance and productivity.

What helps you focus and write? What hinders you? Do you set goals for the new year?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Scent of Fear by Susan J. Reinhardt

Happy New Year! Hope you all are doing well. :)

First up for 2014 is a stop on author Susan J. Reinhardt's blog tour. Susan is celebrating the release of her latest book, The Scent of Fear.

The Overview:

First the The Moses Conspiracy, now The Scent of Fear....

The Zimmermans enjoy the tenuous peace in the wake of their hair-raising year battling the New Patriots. Unexpected visitors once again throw them into turmoil.

Jim Kenneman, Director of National Security, masterminded the plan to break up a hate group ravaging the Christian community. Now, his enemies are out to eliminate him. Should he make a run for it or stick by his tried-and-true negotiating skills?

Monty Addison, a topnotch operative, carried out his assignment in Bird-in-Hand. A plot to destroy his boss sends him on a mission. Without agency sanction, it may cost him everything - his career, his family, and maybe his life.

Dr. Abby Weaver strives to save infants and toddlers in Holmes County, Ohio. When she meets two strangers, she can't get the tall, handsome one out of her mind. Will their paths intersect again or will dangerous times keep them apart?

Susan's tour includes a giveaway, so check out the details below.

I thought it would be fun to interview one of Susan's characters, and chose Jim Kenneman. Those of you who have Susan's first book, The Moses Conspiracy, will remember Jim. He plays a more prominent role in The Scent of Fear, and this interview offers his perspective on the action.

Without further ado, I give you Mr. Jim Kenneman:

KLIf someone told you 20 years ago that the United States would have been in this political state, would you have believed them? How would you have responded?

JK: No. I would have said it was impossible. Our Constitution built many safeguards into the government to keep any one branch from becoming too powerful. Americans are a feisty bunch and wouldn't put up with their freedoms being abridged.
KL: What was running through your mind as you were fleeing D.C.?
JK: It was surreal. I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I'd done nothing wrong, and yet the authorities were determined to kill me. Having to take on a new identity and not being able to contact my son and his wife was and is still one of the most difficult aspects of the entire experience.
KL: You were instrumental in shutting down a hate group in the Lancaster, PA area that targeted Christians. What motivated you to take the action that you did?
JK: I have a strong sense of fairness. Even though I wasn't a Christian, I was a husband, father, and grandfather. Having lost my wife and grandson, I knew how much it hurt and didn't want them to suffer a similar fate.
KL:  What do you foresee life in the United States like in 15 years?

We're now in 2032. Life is still difficult for Christians and is getting worse for the general population. We've not been able to travel freely for some time now, and there's still much anti-Christian sentiment. The former methods of the ballot box, pressuring legislators to be accountable, and expecting courts to operate within the confines of the Constitution no longer apply. There's little recourse for the American people. At my age, I may not see how this plays out, but I pray for the younger generation. There will come a time when history books are re-written to suit those in power, and there will be no one with firsthand experience to challenge the lies.

KL: Thanks, Jim (and Susan) for sharing your thoughts with us today! Wishing you all the best, Susan, with your books!

For more info on Susan and her books, visit her blog.

Purchase The Scent of Fear on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

More About Susan 

Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include her debut novel, The Moses Conspiracy, and the Christmas novella The Christmas Wish, as well as devotionals, short articles, and contributions to anthologies. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

A widow, daughter, stepmom, and active church member, Susan resides in Pennsylvania. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, couponing, gardening, and finding small treasures in antique shops.

You can connect with Susan at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

My Review for The Scent of Fear

The sequel to The Moses Conspiracy takes readers on another exciting journey into the future of the United States. Filled with action, suspense, and mystery, this story expands characters from The Moses Conspiracy, sharing their lives, trials, and how they come to terms with future events. Although I highly recommend The Moses Conspiracy, you do not need to read it to understand what is happening in The Scent of Fear. I like that. Reinhardt's latest will entertain, engage, and challenge readers from start to finish. Looking forward to book 3!

The Giveaway

Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of The Scent of Fear. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered: a Rafflecopter giveaway The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced January 17, 2014.

What are you reading in the new year? Have you read any of Susan's books?

Happy reading and writing,


Giveaway is open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Susan J. Reinhardt. The author provided me with a free copy of The Scent of Fear to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.