Monday, September 28, 2015

Open the Door to New Ideas

Do you ever get stuck for ideas? Or find yourself in a place where you aren't sure how to proceed?

What helps you get un-stuck?

I think many writers, whether newbies, veterans, or somewhere in between, face this closed door on occasion. Solution advice includes taking a walk or buckling down and pressing through.

There are other simple fixes that help us renew and refocus, like going to a movie, working on another project, or brainstorming. 

Speaking of such, the following brainstorming methods have helped me work out the wrinkles. Maybe they'll help you too.

Freewriting - Set a time limit (five or ten minutes) and write down anything that comes to mind. It matters not what, just write. When the time expires, review the results. Some content won’t be useful, but there might be a nugget or two that stands out.

Clustering (or Mapping) – Choose a word or two from your topic, write it down in the middle of a blank piece of paper, and circle it. Write related words around the main word/s, circle them, and draw a line from each to the main word/s. A visual like this can reveal patterns or fresh leads.

The Five W’s – Ask the questions used when writing a news article - Who, What, Where, When, and Why (don't forget How, too). List these words, then answer each one using related ideas about the theme.  Answers don't have to be extensive, any thoughts can be useful. This is my favorite method. :)

The Flip Side – Consider the subject from a different angle. This is especially helpful for emotional or controversial issues. Place yourself in the other person's shoes and see what happens.

The Top Five List – Make a list of the top five things you or others might like to know about the subject. A list of any size can help sort and clarify ideas. 

Brainstorming methods can offer alternative thoughts or perspectives thus sharpening and polishing our work. Go ahead, give one a try. You never know what fresh ideas might pop out when you swing that door wide open!

I've a guest post about real life and writing at Helping Hands Press blog. If you have a moment, stop over and say hello. :) Thanks so much!

What helps you brainstorm? What are you working on this week?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Free Images

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review - A Noble Masquerade

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter 

Miranda Hathaway is officially a "Lady" in her social circle, but that hasn’t prevented her from teetering on the edge of spinsterhood at the ripe old age of twenty. It’s not that she’s discontent really, for she would make a wonderful aunt to her siblings’ future children. But she does get lonely. Her long standing habit of writing letters (but not sending them) to the Duke of Marshington, her brother Griffith’s friend, is rather therapeutic. She’s never met the Duke, but has formulated a persona based on Griffith's stories from their school days.

She finds herself bumping into Marlow, Griffith’s new valet, at every turn. Even though he belongs to the working class, Miranda is drawn to him.  Although she isn’t quite sure what he’s all about, she finds him interesting and looks forward to opportunities to speak to him. 

To her great dismay, one of her missives somehow finds its way to the Duke. When he responds, she is stunned and embarrassed. The plot thickens (for real!) when Miranda discovers Marlow caught in the crossfire of shady dealings around the estate. Of course, she has no choice but to intervene.

This story offers an action packed glimpse into England’s “genteel” society in 1822 – from the rules and expectations to treason and deceit. Danger lurks in unexpected places, as does love and heartbreak. A Noble Masquerade is full of intrigue and surprises. Miranda, Griffith, Marlow, and the Duke find their loyalty, mettle, and faith tested as they sort through exciting events and details to find the truth. This book kept me on my toes – I like that!

Kristi Ann Hunter does a wonderful job, combining an entertaining and action packed story with great characters. Rich historical details complement this deep and well-balanced tale. It had me engaged from the first page, and didn’t let go until the end - I enjoyed this book from start to finish. 

Ms. Hunter is a delightful and talented storyteller. I’m adding her to my list of favorite authors, and will be on the lookout for more of her books.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase A Noble Masquerade

Just in case you missed it - here's the link to last week's interview with Susan J. Reinhardt complete with info on her new book, Out of the Mist. 

Do you like mysteries? What are you reading now?

Happy reading and writing,


Monday, September 21, 2015

A Visit from Susan J. Reinhardt

I'm excited to share a bit of good news - Out of the Mist by Susan J. Reinhardt is now available! Susan's here to share a little about this long awaited conclusion to her series.

Good to have you back, Susan! Congratulations on Out of the Mist! What is the story about? 

Thanks for inviting me, Karen. I'm excited that Out of The Mist released. Here's the back cover blurb: 

Drive, determination, and an anti-Christian attitude mark Kendra Marshall. When she collides with Peter Gruber (a.k.a., Zimmerman) in a college hallway, she has no idea her life is about to take a sharp turn.

Dave Yoder's geeky ways are a turnoff to the sophisticated, pre-med student. Undaunted by her brush-off, he works to capture her heart.    

Peter's family and friends see red flags in any relationship with the feisty young woman. Trouble is written all over her, but when she's injured, they come to her rescue. They soon find she's marked by The New Patriot organization and could blow their carefully-devised cover.

Once again, the Grubers' (a.k.a., Zimmerman) Amish friends in Bird-in-Hand, PA and Holmes County, Ohio join in the race for answers and protection. Kendra's not always cooperative and gets herself into major trouble. 

Will a young woman accomplish what The New Patriots haven't over the course of two decades? 

This book is the third in a trilogy, yes? Can you give us a brief overview of how the three tie together? Do we have to read them all to understand what is happening? 

All three stories take place in 2025 and later. They track the Zimmerman family and friends through an America that is no longer friendly to Christians. The hostile environment breeds hatred that explodes into a conspiracy led by a secret organization, The New Patriots. 

While each book is a stand alone novel, readers will get a better foundation if they start with The Moses Conspiracy. My novella that's not part of the trilogy, The Christmas Wish, fits between the first two books and gives some information that will enrich the overall story. The Scent of Fear is considered Book 2 of the trilogy. Out of The Mist is the Grand Finale with romance, suspense, and twists. 

I can vouch for that; it is a Grand Finale! Your main character, Kendra, is quite the determined young woman. Did you have any particular inspiration in her development? 

From the beginning, I knew I wanted a feisty woman that was polar opposite to the other female characters. She's the quintessential modern woman who relies on her own abilities. As I wrote the other books, she grew in front of my eyes. Eventually, her part in the grand scheme of things became clear, and I couldn't wait to write her story. 

It is interesting to see her story unfold. You are a seat of the pants writer. Without revealing too much, did you find your characters leading you in any surprising directions? 

The Moses Conspiracy started out as a single volume. When I wrote, "The End," I had this vague feeling that the characters had more to say. 

After several frustrating months, I couldn't seem to get into the story groove. As I prayed, my mind kept rolling out scenes with a secondary character. At one point, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, "This is my story." 

I've discovered the infamous writers' block occurs when I'm on the wrong track. Once I switched gears, the folks in The Scent of Fear took me on a wild ride. 

Characters do clamor for more attention sometimes, don't they? What advice do you have for someone who wants to or is writing a novel? 

I'd say take your time and learn the craft. You might want to try your hand at short stories. I started off as a non-fiction writer and had some modest success with devotionals, short articles, and anthologies. Smaller projects will build your skills and give you the confidence to tackle a novel. Most of all, enjoy each step of the journey. :) 

Good advice! What good is the journey overall if you don't enjoy it, right? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us. Wishing you all the best with your stories! 

Thanks Karen! 

About Susan 

Susan J. Reinhardt is a multi-published author and blogger. Her books include three full-length novels, The Moses Conspiracy, The Scent of Fear, and Out of the Mist, as well as The Christmas Wish, a novella for all seasons. Her passion for faith and freedom are reflected in her characters and stories. 

She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and represented by Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. A widow, stepmom, daughter, and follower of Jesus Christ, Susan resides in Pennsylvania and is active in her church. Her interests include reading, bargain hunting, and searching for small treasures in antique shops. 

Visit Susan


My Review of Out of the Mist

I thoroughly enjoyed all the other books in this trilogy, but this one just might be my favorite. Deep yet down to earth characters complement the plot that offers a delightful pace as events progress. Ms. Reinhardt blends the heroes and the villains, offering readers a good dose of mystery, adventure, and suspense. Hearts and loyalties are tested throughout the story, and I found myself examining my own convictions while reading. This exciting conclusion to the series is, I believe, Reinhardt's best book yet.
 Out of the Mist on Amazon

What are you reading this week?

Happy reading and writing,


Monday, September 14, 2015

The Latest from Sarah Sundin

Congratulations to Sarah Sundin on her latest book, Through Waters Deep! She is a wonderful storyteller; her books are rich and engaging historical tales. If you are a fan of such, I highly recommend her stories.

Hi Sarah - Welcome back to Write Now!  Can you give us a peek at the story?

Hi Karen and friends! It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

It sounds jam packed with adventure and intrigue. :) I love the cover. How involved are you in the cover selection process? 

I love it too! Revell sends me a titling and cover questionnaire well in advance. I share a bit about the story, characters, and setting, and I include pictures of clothing, uniforms, ships, setting, hairstyles—anything that could help them. Before the photo shoot, they often send me pictures of the uniforms or outfits to make sure they’re correct, especially the military insignia. Then they do the photo shoot and send me the cover. I give feedback, and they can make certain adjustments. For example, the first cover for Through Waters Deep had the wrong ship—it looked like a modern destroyer—and they changed it to a WWII-era Gleaves-class destroyer as in the novel.

Wow, there is much more to the process than one might think. The finished product looks great. Since your books are set in or around WW2, am I correct in assuming this period interests you? What originally drew you to write about this era? 

I heard my grandparents’ stories about their war years, and I was always drawn to the era. There’s a certain nostalgia—the great clothing and music and upbeat attitude. But there’s so much more. World War II showed us the very worst and the very best in human nature, and forces us to think what we’d do in similar situations. It was a time when ordinary men and women were placed in extraordinary circumstances, and learned they could do extraordinary things. This inspires us ordinary people today. 

It is indeed an inspiration. The details in your books are so authentic and lend realism to your stories. What steps do you take to maintain accuracy? 

I do a lot of research, finding the best books and websites on each subject and reading thoroughly. For Through Waters Deep, I was even able to conduct research at the National Archives in Boston, a fantastic experience. I also seek out personal stories to lend color and human touches. Whenever possible, I visit the location. I was able to spend a week in Boston last summer, exploring the sites for this series. I took tons of pictures and notes! 

I love the idea of adding color and personal touches. Your research and enthusiasm are evident in your stories. What’s on the horizon for you? Will we see another book in this series in the coming months?

Anchor in the Storm, Book 2 in the Waves of Freedom series, comes out in the summer of 2016. For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg, even if Arch is her brother’s best friend. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast in the darkest days of the war, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch’s efforts to aid Lillian’s investigation and to win her trust fling them both into danger—from torpedoes, drug lords, and opened hearts.

Sounds exciting! Thanks again for coming by to see us, Sarah. Wishing you much success with your books! 

Thank you, Karen!  

About Sarah

Sarah Sundin is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015). Her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten is a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award, and her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.

Connect with Sarah 


Is there a certain era in history to which you are drawn? Why?

Happy reading and writing,


Monday, September 7, 2015

Meet the Blogger with Kenda Turner

Please join me in welcoming Kenda Turner for this month's Meet the Blogger. As you might have guessed, I met this smart and funny writer through blogging. 

Kenda and I are almost neighbors, since we live within 2 hours of each other. Perhaps someday we'll meet in person to discuss all things writing. :) 

I encourage you to visit Kenda's blog, for it's a virtual treasure chest of insight, information, and encouragement. She's a gracious hostess who provides much to think about.

Welcome Kenda! Why did you start blogging? How long have you had your current blog?

Hi, Karen—thanks for inviting me. I started blogging in January 2010. Going on six years now—that’s hard to believe. But at the time I told myself I’d blog as long as it was fun, and so far it has been. I began blogging as a prompt to write regularly and to share what I was learning as I went.

That's a good reason to blog. I'm glad you did. :) What is your blog about?

My blog, Words and Such, is mostly about writing topics—where I am in my journey and what I’ve learned along the way. It’s also about encouraging others as they travel the writing path. In addition, I share everyday life things, quotes, and favorite photos. Thus the tagline under my blog’s name: “a page out of one writer’s notebook.”

I love that tagline - it's so friendly and inviting. What benefits have you gained through blogging?   

I count the people I’ve met through blogging as one of the best benefits—it’s been great to get know others and to share writing experiences. I also feel that blogging has helped me hone the craft of writing and keeps me accountable to some of my writing goals.

The people are great, aren't they? What projects are you working on right now?                      

Right now I’m concentrating on writing middle-grade historical fiction, though I’ve also written picture books, devotionals, and inspirational pieces. I’ve written a children’s historical novel set in the late 18th century Ohio wilderness and am working on a second, a story that takes place during the Civil War.

Your books sound wonderful! Looking forward to reading them. What might people be surprised to learn about you?

That I have a landlady to thank for my name. I was the second child with an older sister. My dad’s name was Kenneth. The story goes that my parents wanted to name me after Dad, but didn’t particularly like the name Kendra (with an –r). It was their landlady who suggested the name ‘Kenda.’ And so, as they say, the rest is history.

Now that is interesting. I never would have guessed! What advice would you share with a newbie blogger?

Allow room to write just for the fun of it. We can get so caught up in goals, deadlines, and expectations that we lose sight of why we write in the first place. Play with words, find ways to stimulate creativity, explore options. Enjoy the process. 

You are right, the "fun" is so important. It's easy to forget that. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Kenda!

Thanks, Karen!

About Kenda

Kenda Turner lives and writes in Cincinnati OH. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort and My Dad is My Hero anthologies, devotionals, children’s magazines, and, most recently, an article in the SCBWI Bulletin (Summer 2015).

Connect with Kenda on her blog Words and Such

Do you sometimes lose sight of the "fun" part of writing? What are you up to this week?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Free Images