Stir Their Hearts. Make Their Skin Crawl.


Fiction entertains. It mystifies. It sometimes makes us cringe. It oftentimes invites readers to experience different worlds…odd creatures…unusual circumstances. It makes us laugh. It makes us cry. It stirs our hearts…

Non-fiction informs. It often tells of heroes, the downtrodden. It recounts historical events and the people who lived through them. It takes us to different countries, cultures, and peoples. It entices us to travel and experience all that our world has to offer…

As writers, we hold within our pens the power to spark many different emotions in the hearts of our readers: fear, surprise, empathy, anger, love—the list is endless. We take them on a wild ride, of sorts. And, they love it.

Their hearts pound. Their skin crawls. Their tears flow.

They crave it. We deliver it.

But, by the end of the book we need to wrap it all up. Sometimes neatly…sometimes not so much.

For myself, I choose endings that encourage, uplift, offer hope.

In this fast-paced world full of hurting people, in this climate of unrest and uncertainty, my goal is to give readers something to hold onto.

When they read that last page and turn out the light, I want them to rest a little easier, feel a little safer. I want them to have experienced relatable characters that have triumphed over insurmountable odds…who have claimed victory over negativity or self-doubt…who have learned a life lesson and emerged the better for it.

I want my books to change them in some way.

Maybe they’ll experience release from a false belief about their own self-worth. Perhaps they’ll be energized by an idea they find within its pages. Perhaps they’ll be inspired to reunite with a family member or old friend.

I want to give them the same thing I want from a good book: to emerge from the reading experience a little wiser, more sensitive to the needs of others, more open to change, happier—just different somehow.



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If you watch your gas gauge, then you will not run out of gas.

If you clean your plate, then you can have dessert.

If you listen in class, then you will learn.

It’s really simple, isn’t it?


Writers can use the “if…then” principle, too.

If writers will learn the fundamentals of the craft, then the quality of their writing will improve.

If writers will dedicate time to reading, then they will learn much from published authors.

If writers will join a writing/critique group, then they will find encouragement from fellow writers.

If writers will schedule a block of time for writing every day, then they will become a more disciplined writer.

If writers will make a Thesaurus their best friend, then their writing will become more interesting.

If writers will attend a writing conference, then they will find increased opportunities to network.

If writers will pursue writing with their whole hearts, then one day they will find they have a tangible product:

an article

a journal

a book.


If not now, then when?

Balancing Act

If you’re anything like me, you have a stack of books somewhere in your house that keeps getting taller. It seems like every book you read is replaced by one or two more!

The fact is, writers like to read. Need to read.

I’m not just talking about pleasure reading, which is a “given”. Every writer I have ever met has told me that it was the love of reading that sparked within them the desire to write.

No, I’m talking about reading about writing. The craft. Punctuation and grammar to be sure, but also reading about genres, point-of-view, voice, character development, plot and hundreds of more things we need to consider—need to master—in pursuit of excellence.

Once I started writing, I quickly realized the necessity of erecting two stacks of books. One I dubbed “Pleasure”; the other, simply “About Writing”. I have a rule concerning these books: Read from both stacks, simultaneously, so that I fulfill my need for learning AND for enjoyment.

So, what’s next on my stacks? James Scott Bell’s How to Write Dazzling Dialogue and Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro are on top of the “About Writing” stack. And for pleasure, next up is Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan.

So, whether you keep an actual physical stack of books, like I do, or simply a list of “Must Reads”, my suggestion is that you try to balance your reading. After all, didn’t you hear this expression as a child? “All work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”


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Mom Loves To Read

People sometimes ask me how I got started writing. I think it really started with reading. I grew up in a home where my mother modeled the love of reading. To this day, she always has a stack of books waiting on the end table next to her rocking chair. Her closets are filled with books—not clothes! If you ask her where she’d most like to go, she’ll quickly answer, “The bookstore!”

In elementary school, I was fortunate to have teachers who took time to read to the class after lunch recess. (A perfect way to calm down a rowdy group after a lively game of tether ball). I looked forward to this time of day, as they read to us about children in other countries, cultures, and time periods. My understanding of the power of the written word to transport and inspire began in those classrooms decades ago.

It shouldn’t surprise you, then, to hear that I grew up to be a teacher and that one of the favorite parts of my day was reading to my own class after lunch. I literally had to force myself to read only one chapter because I could have easily read to my students all afternoon! I could look out at that sea of young faces and tell which ones were also caught up in the story and were equally disappointed when we rejoined the present world and turned toward our math lesson.

When my own children were small, I didn’t have a lot of time for writing, so I wrote short stories, poems, or skits. I guess it was just enough to satisfy my yearning to create. But, I definitely wanted more.

Once I retired, I worked part time as a reading teaching for a few years before I decided to write in earnest. I remember the day I first sat down in front of the computer. I knocked out a lone paragraph. I was devastated to realize I had carved out time for my passion to write, but had no clue what to say!

My husband and I love to go to movies, so it was a natural next step for me to try my hand at screenwriting. I loved the action and I could see in my mind’s eye just what my characters would say and do—how they would interact—it was an exciting time for me. However, I soon learned that without relocating and forming connections in a world of actors, directors, and producers I was going nowhere.

So, that brings me to the present. It is a stimulating time for me because I have found that writing fiction fulfills that inner longing to create and bring to life characters that not only I, but other readers, can enjoy. By the power of the written word, my characters come to life. They live, they breathe, they have a voice.

I live in their world, as much as I do in mine. They become my friends and my constant companions. And, yes, I do still harbor that secret hope that some day they will live for all to see—on the big screen!

Please write and let me know how you started your writing journey.