Getting on the Fast Track

One of my favorite subjects to talk about is critique groups. I think because they are (in my opinion) one of the most helpful things an author can do for himself/herself.

I recently moved and have been on the hunt for a writing group in my new area. I was beginning to think I was going to have to start one myself, but just when I began to plan this new venture, I found out about one practically in my own backyard!

This group operates differently than any I have ever been a part of, so I thought I’d share with you how they are set-up.

In this case, there is a large group of thirty-five authors—yep, that’s right. This large group is divided into five groups of roughly seven members each.

The smaller groups meet EACH WEEK—interesting, huh? That’s where the real work of critiquing/editing is done.

Then, the large group meets THAT SAME WEEK. Each author’s submission (reflecting changes due to the small group’s comments) is shown on a screen and read aloud by the author. The large group gives general comments on each submission.

I’ve attended one large group meeting and really enjoyed hearing from authors writing in a variety of genres.

I’d recommend this process for any writers who feel they can keep up with this fast-paced regimen. Submitting to two groups every week can be daunting, but it sure can put you on the fast-track to publishing!


Say “Cheese.”

I read the newest book by a very prolific author. Each time I read one of her books, I turn it over to the back cover and see the same picture. She hasn’t updated her photo in at least the past 20 years.

I checked her Facebook page. Both her picture and bio haven’t been updated there, either.

I had to laugh though, when I realized I hadn’t changed my picture in the last 7 years.

Whether it is just pure laziness or if it’s because I like seeing a younger version of myself, I had to laugh at myself for doing the same thing.

Clearly, I have updated my information in About Myself on my website,, but the picture remains the same one I’ve always used.

I’m told that when you make changes on your website or Facebook page, the little internet crawlers get more interested in visiting you. Then ever-so-slightly, your ranking is improved. The changes don’t have to be huge. A change as small as a new profile picture is all that’s necessary.

So, take a few selfies, upload, and wait to see if you’ve become more visible.

I Missed Out!

We recently moved to a new state—one without a local ACFW chapter. I want to do something about that, but that’s a topic for another day.

Yesterday, in Phoenix, Christian Writers of the West held their spring conference, with guest speaker Author and Editor, Kathy Ide.

This year, I missed out—and you did, too, if you weren’t there.

There are many writing conferences around the country each year, so you are able to do a little research and find just the one for you—the one that contains the subject matter you are most interested in, the one that is most affordable, the one that is easiest for you to travel to.

Why do I feel like we missed out? Because there is lots of good teaching, opportunities to network and visit with friends at conferences.

All is not lost, however. CWOW’s conference wasn’t the only one. Searching for writing conferences online will bring up a generous list of opportunities for you. (And, if not able to attend in person, you can join many of them online.)

Don’t Miss Out!


All of his life, Kevin never finished anything he started. In school, he often turned in uncompleted assignments. Later, he lost a succession of jobs because his projects were either late or only partially done before he was on to something else.

Unfortunately, this carried over to his budding writing career. His efforts were promising, but his publisher had another author work with Kevin on the last quarter of his book, so that it could be finished on time.

Even though he’d had help, his book was the first thing Kevin could remember completing. It gave him a huge boost and today, under a pen name, he is a successful and multi-published author.

I hope this story about Kevin helps inspire those of you who are struggling to complete your book. Perhaps you might go through your files and find something that you’d enjoy working on again.

There’s nothing like the feeling of typing THE END on that last page.

You Can Do It, Too!

Have you ever had your head filled with so many thoughts that you couldn’t move forward with just one? Did you lay awake at night unable to make your brain stop moving at warp speed?

When that happens to me, I write each one down on a pad of paper on my night table. When I awake, I expand on them the next morning and place them in a “future writings” file.

Some authors have the opposite problem. I just finished reading two consecutive fiction books about authors suffering from writer’s block. The ideas just wouldn’t come. They couldn’t get motivated to sit down in front of the computer and tackle the business of writing. (This would be a good time to open that “future writings” file, wouldn’t it?)

I have been away from writing for almost a month, working with my husband on a complete home remodel. Even though we are not nearly done, I feel the need to carve out some time to begin writing again. So, the last couple of days, I have been spending a couple of hours reading my work in progress. Refreshing my memory as to what happened in chapters 1-15, will serve to energize me to dive in again and finish my book. 

If those ideas don’t work for you, may I suggest just one more?

A couple of writer-friends from my critique group published books this past year. I am so proud of their accomplishments and reading their work serves to motivate me to keep going.

So if you are having a hard time beginning to write, or trouble finishing something you are currently working on, maybe reading some of your own past work or a book written by someone you know will reignite your writing.

If they can do it, you can do it, too!


When reading through some book descriptions on the internet, I came across an author who described her writing as Twisted Romance.


Years ago, twisted was often used to describe someone who had weird ideas or actions. Kooky or even kinky might have been synonyms.

I was curious to know if the term twisted, nowadays, meant something different.

Here’s what I found.

The current term twisted romance tells the full spectrum of love stories. Dark, depraved and addictive. Frantic and often painful. They are gritty and seek to take you out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes referred to as adult fantasy, these books may be more than you bargain for and introduce both the reader–and the writer–to the world of pornography. In my opinion, these books are a dangerous inroad to evil and a dark world that I (for one) want no part of.

Much better to stick with cozy mysteries, mainstream romance, and Christian Fiction (of course).

Go for the ‘Bigger Story’

We are in the process of moving, so I am not spending much time writing or looking for information online that I would like to pass along to you. 

But, that’s the way life is, isn’t it?

We have our private lives, and then we have our writing lives. And they are often at odds with one another—vying for one’s available time.

We make our choices and have to live with them. Our move to Nevada is for personal reasons, but it will affect my writing life, too.

I have always been the member of a critique group. Their input is invaluable. Because, as author Colleen Coble has said, “…brainstorming with partners takes us to a bigger story… on a deeper level.” 

My group meets one Friday per month as we each are given the opportunity to submit several pages of our current writing. 

However, the state we are moving to does not have any writing/critique groups listed online, so if I cannot find another group to work with in NEVADA, I have enlisted continued support from my Arizona group. We are going to try mailing critiques back and forth, first. But, if that proves too worrisome, we may try using FaceTime. 

My point in telling you this?  1) In case you are a writer in Nevada that knows of an existing critique group with an opening for a “new” member, please write in and let me know.  2) If sometime in 2023 I start a new writing group in Nevada—and YOU live in Nevada and would be interested in participating—please leave me a message on my website and I will put you on my list.

My website address  is

The Great Anticipation

Our plans sometimes do not go according to THE PLAN. 

We were sick in a hotel room all week. The only glimpse of Hawaii we saw was the ocean from our hotel room. 

We are now back home, feeling only slightly better. But we have, as always, great anticipation of the coming year.

So, I will simply wish you all a Joyous, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year!

Christmas Plans

Our plans sometimes do not go according to THE PLAN. We are sick in a hotel room and may not even feel well enough to attend services at a local church. So, I will simply wish you all a Merry Christmas and send a regular post next week.

May your Christmas celebration be filled with the love of family and friends. May Jesus be exalted in your lives and mine.

The Christmas Gift That Costs Zero Dollars

Want to give your friends a gift they’ll love and costs you absolutely no money?

If you’re an avid reader like me, you likely have read dozens of books this past year. Right?

If you haven’t already given them to a used bookstore, consider starting a new tradition with your reading buddies.

How about agreeing that this year you will select books from those you’ve read for gifting each individual on your list?

If your books are in good condition, who wouldn’t want to receive a book handpicked for your enjoyment from a friend who knows the kind of books you like to read?

With Christmas cards inside and tied with bows or put in glittery bags, they are sure to be a hit without being a drain on your finances.