The Laws of Writing

I wish I could engrave this in every writer’s mind. Basically, it’s a simple tenet: you have to know the rules before you can break them. But let’s skip the “breaking” part and realize that we must know the rules.

We writers—we creative types—balk at the idea of rules and laws pertaining to our craft, but guess what? They’re there, and they make us better at what we do.

Often, potential clients will write to me, letting me know they want just a proofread, that they’ve already edited, that they’re pleased with the piece as is and just want to be sure they don’t have typos. These are the hardest manuscripts for me to work on because more often than not, what the client is “pleased with” is sub-par. Who wants to be par much less sub-par? But they’re not interested in an honest critique, just that they have no typos. So I do what I’m told. Usually. I accept this type of job less and less these days.

Their attitude should anger every indie author out there. Many indies are scrambling to overcome the stigma of being self-published and to a certain extent are winning. Being independent is gaining in respectability—particularly since so many big-name authors are dipping a toe into the more lucrative waters. But as long as there are writers who don’t care about the quality of their work, the stigma will remain.

I suppose I can’t preach to everyone, even though I try. If I could, I’d tell them to study the craft! Talent is great, but can you imagine how brilliantly talent will shine when coupled with mastery? Having a compelling story is great, but how much greater would it be if told in a compelling fashion?

Sigh. I guess my frustration is showing.

But seriously, if you’ve sent your work out for edit or critique by a professional, take the feedback seriously. Study up on the things that seem to be a weakness for you. And if you haven’t sent your work out for edit or critique, you should. Even the best of writers have professionals go over their work. Why should you be different?

Yes. My frustration is definitely showing. Rant over. I’ll hush now.

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Especially for Writers

By the way, want a chance to win a copy of Coming Home? Come join me on Hallee Bridgeman’s Readers Write to Know!

And don’t miss the 10-novel giveaway! Ten Christian romance ebooks to one lucky winner! Learn more on my website, Linda W. Yezak.

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Also Known as Working

Writers are always working, even when they’re not sitting at the keyboard. Every experience is a writing experience. Earlier this year, we enjoyed a long weekend at Matagorda Bay, and now it’s a setting for my newest novella, Ice Melts in Spring (due out in 2018). Last week, I had to put Mom in the hospital for emergency surgery—which went great, but her heart started acting up, so she has another procedure to endure—and I can promise you, this too will one way or another wind up in one of my books.

Writers say write what you know, which is great advice when applied to human emotion. Doesn’t do you much good as a Sci-Fi writer if the world you’re creating doesn’t exist or a historical fiction author who has no possible way of experiencing life in the preferred era.

But every story involves characters, and every character has emotions. Certain emotions are truly difficult to imagine unless you’ve experienced them. Once you do, you can “write what you know” beautifully and dramatically. Otherwise, you rely on cheater methods that don’t really elicit the emotion you’re looking for from your reader.

So sitting at the hospital with an elderly mom is research. It’s working. While I’m stuffing worry deep inside and wearing a happy face and being a mature woman while wishing I could sit in a corner with a thumb in my mouth or wave a wand and make everything all better, I’m working. Doesn’t particularly feel like it. It feels like I’m stuffing worry deep inside, wearing a happy face, and faking maturity. But if ever one of my characters has to fake maturity, I’ll know just how to show it.

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Especially for Writers

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Christian Romance Giveaway!

Some friends and I are participating in a mega-giveaway, and I don’t want you to miss it! If you love Christian Romance in all its subgenres—contemporary, historical, western—you’ll love this collection.

If you’d like to enter the drawing, you can learn all about it on Lynnette Bonner’s blog. Enter soon! Drawing is September 20th!

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Especially for Writers

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New Christian Titles for September

September 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Planting Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Jess Beaumont is trying to get her separated parents together again by restoring the family cabin gardens that helped them fall in love. Luke Harrison inherited his Gran’s candy store, but would rather have a Vice President position in his family’s land development business—a sure sign of his father’s approval. To get the promotion, he must acquire the land on both sides of his store within five months, including the Beaumont cabin. As Luke gets to know Jess, he realizes buying the Beaumont cabin and land will nip their blossoming romance in the bud. Even worse, it could end her parents’ marriage. But if he doesn’t succeed, he could be trading his corner office for the candy store counter…for good. Is their romance doomed? Or could the classic combination of chocolate and flowers solve everything? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Ruth Reid, and Beth Wiseman — Fall in love this Christmas to the gentle pace of Amish courtship. In Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman, six lonely hearts find healing in the Stoltzfus homestead basement while waiting out a Christmas Eve storm. In The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston, a group of young people and a forbidden house cat bring reminders of love and hope to a grieving widow at Christmas. In Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin, A young woman’s prayer for a Christmas proposal is delayed by the appearance of her potential groom’s first love, whom me met on his rumspringa. In Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid, an Englisch woman thinks she’s breaking into the house her aenti left to her, only to discover she’s trespassing upon an Amish widower and his young daughter, whose quiet way of life tempts her to stay. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Magnolia Storms by Janet W. Ferguson –Maggie Marovich lost her father to Hurricane Katrina, so she’s dedicated her life to meteorology and plans never to return to the Mississippi Coast or the ship pilot she once loved—until a family crisis sends her running headlong into a storm. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

The Christmas Admirer by Laura V. Hilton — Susanna’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington by Annette Irby — Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancé. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and accumulated debt. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue Mikaela if she ever returned to the island single. But what will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Returning Home by Toni Shiloh — Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings. Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker. Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from? (Contemporary, Independently Published)

All This Time by Melissa Tagg — Ten years ago, Bear McKinley gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him. Raegan Walker is happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Home All Along by Beth Wiseman — Charlotte has made a home for herself in Amish Country with Daniel. But unforeseen events rock their fragile world and may move them even further away from the life they long for. Charlotte, an Englisher, is living in Amish Country, and fallen in love with an Amish man. But just when she is considering a permanent conversion to the Amish way of life, her world crashes around her. An unexpected death and a mysterious visitor unsettle Charlotte, and she begins to question her faith and her choices. Will Charlotte and Daniel’s relationship succumb to the many pressures around them, or will their faith and community help them become strong enough to build a life together? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Mercy Triumphs by Jana Kelley — Mia, an American Christian, has lived in Sudan so long that persecution, harassment, and danger have become commonplace for her. Her tough outer shell threatens to harden her heart while her newly Christian friends, Halimah and Rania, former Muslims, are forced to live in exile outside Sudan. All three quickly discover that escaping danger in one place only means facing even greater challenges elsewhere. As God’s mercy becomes evident in their lives, they must choose whether or not to offer mercy to those who don’t deserve it. Based on real-life events, Mercy Triumphs reveals some of the struggles Christians face when living under Islamic law. (General from New Hope Publishers)

Life in Chapel Springs by Ane Mulligan — Is it a midlife pregnancy or … cancer? Claire will keep her secret until she’s sure but it isn’t easy. Neither is trying to buy a home pregnancy test without anyone finding out. Between her twins double wedding, the caterer cancelling, a looming nationwide art tour and her health, Claire s life is upside down. Meanwhile, shy Lacey Dawson faces the emotional effects of traumatic injuries requiring facial reconstruction, and rumors of gold in Chapel Springs have greedy investors clamoring to buy all the homes in town and mine the gold. Will life in Chapel Springs ever be the same? (General from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


A Conspiracy of Breath by Latayne C. Scott — What would it have been like to be a woman, a Gentile, and someone onto whom the Holy Breath moved – to produce what became the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews in the Bible? (Historical from TSU Press [Trinity Southwest University])

Queen of Sheba by Jill Eileen Smith — King Solomon meets his equal in the Queen of Sheba and does his best to give her everything she seeks to find, but will he be able to give her the deepest longing of her heart? (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Historical Romance:

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart — When life takes an unexpected turn, Francine Howard finds work in the mountains as a midwife where healing and love await her. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep — Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation and is promised a sum of five hundred pounds if she will remain a guest at Bleakly Manor for the duration of a twelve-day Christmas celebration. Then she learns Benjamin Lane, who left her at the altar, is also in attendance. Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whomever stole his honor. Torn between money, revenge, and love, will Clara and Ben last the full twelve days at Bleakly Manor and learn what matters most at Christmas? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


When the Bishop Needs and Alibi by Vannetta Chapman — Amish bishop Henry Lapp eagerly awaits the annual arrival of 20,000 sandhill cranes to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. But his visit to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge reveals more than just a miracle of God’s creation. Hidden among the bulrushes and cattails is the deceased body of a young woman. As the local authorities attempt to unravel the mystery, Henry feels God’s calling to use his extraordinary talent to aid in the investigation. His ability to draw from memory in photographic detail could help solve this puzzling case. Henry’s closest friend, Emma Fisher, has always urged him to embrace his gift. As their relationship deepens, Henry realizes his involvement could put him and those he loves in the direct path of a killer, one who is willing to do anything to cover up a brutal crime, including framing the bishop. (Mystery from Harvest House)

The House Next Door by Susan Page Davis — As Jennifer’s due date approaches, Harvey decides to invest in real estate, unaware of the terror this will cause his family. A hidden cupboard isn’t so bad—in fact, it’s almost fun to try to solve the little mystery inside it. But will any of their loved ones want to live next door after they learn what’s in the basement? (Mystery, Independently Published)

Solve by Christmas by Amber Schamel — Detective Jasper Hollock thought he wanted nothing more than a real case. But when the man who raised him stands on the brink of suicide and mysterious incidents sabotage the factory, Jasper has 24 days to unravel the malicious plot and convince his employer that life is worth living. (Mystery, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley — A security specialist is accused of murder and must clear her name or her career is over, but her investigation draws her into the path of a killer, and she finds herself fighting for her life. When a man from her past is called in to investigate, she may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty — An innocent bike ride leads to a hostage situation, jeopardizing an undercover mission and two stubborn hearts. (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan — A female attorney hires a former Army Ranger turned private investigator to help research an alleged pharmaceutical cover-up. As the case deepens, both hearts and lives become endangered. It appears someone is willing to risk everything–even murder–to keep the case from going to trial. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Uncharted Hope by Keely Brooke Keith
Sophia Ashton must prove herself in her new job while researching the gray leaf medicine and dealing with her toxic family. (Romantic Suspense from Edenbrooke Press)


Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig — Perhaps the only person as skilled as Cole “Tox” Russell is Alec King, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago. Now he’s back, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier. Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Witness Protection by Carol Kinsey — After four years in witness protection, Ty Westgate’s identity has been exposed – with the help of a struggling nurse, the ex-lawyer with a new faith must work to unravel the truth behind his adversaries before he’s silenced permanently. (Thriller/Suspense, Independently Published)






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Especially for Writers

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5 Decluttering Techniques for Authors

When I saw this image, the first thing that popped into my mind was that I need to declutter the entire house—something that’s been on my mind for the past four years MSB has said he wants to retire. Decluttering this mess will make it so much easier for us to move to our new home.

But as I work on edits for myself and others, I can see how the five piles could work for authors too during the self-editing phase. Once we declutter our manuscripts and sweep out everything we don’t want to keep, we’re ready to start pitching to an agent or editor—or, for us indies, we’re ready to send our masterpiece-in-the-making to our freelance editors for even more polish.

So, let’s play with the meme and see what we can learn from it.  I’m going to start at the bottom and work up.

  • Trash

Got pet words and phrases that seem to appear on every page? How many filler words do you use? Lots of “wells,” “uhs,” “ers,” and “hmms” in your dialogue? Have you relied on easy terms and clichés instead of being original? Adverbs? Multiple descriptors? Multiple beats in dialogue that emphasize motion over emotion, action rather than reaction?

There’s a Dixie Dumpster for that. It’s called “delete.”

Block it all off and hit that magic ax button. Most pet words, adverbs, and fillers can be eliminated entirely without loss to the context. For everything else, choose stronger verbs, choose to be unique in what you’re presenting. Find action beats that are truly relevant to the scene, context, subcontext of the dialogue or provide props unique to each scene for the characters to fiddle with when you need an identifier. Or just use the invisible words “said” and “asked.”

Be merciless. Kill the common.

  • Donate

You may find something in your manuscript that you dearly love but doesn’t really fit, some darling you have to kill. A great line, a snappy bit of dialogue, an endearing scene—whatever it is, it doesn’t work in this particular peace and really should go.

Don’t cry over it, donate it.

I have a file where I dump all these little jewels for use in other manuscripts. A couple of novels that will never see the light of day donated some wonderfully descriptive phrases to books that are on the market now. When editing one of my novels, I had to combine a couple of characters for expediency, but the personality of one who got the walking papers is sitting in the file, waiting to become a personality in another book.

  • Sell

You have something in your book that is vital, but won’t be easy for your reader to swallow. It has a feasibility issue.

Time to sell it.

I had this problem in The Simulacrum, but didn’t recognize it. The reviewer for Kirkus caught it though, and I’m still kicking myself for not seeing it first. In the novel, Mary wants to hire Gunnar—a brash, argumentative detective who’s supposed to be the best in his field—but the man makes her crazy. He’s about to go on vacation and is unwilling to take the job, and besides, he doesn’t believe what she tells him is the motive behind the murder. Any normal person would have walked away and found someone more accommodating, but no. Mary tempts him to take the job by offering to pay him double his usual fee. Why? Because, eh, she’s already here in his office, and finding another detective would be a bother.

I can’t believe I did that. If I could do it over, I’d sell it better to the reader so that the Kirkus reviewer would have nothing like it in our otherwise stellar review.

  • Recycle

Recycling often means to take something and turn it into something else. For writers, this means taking “dumps” and recycling them into “thread.”

Backstory dumps. Research dumps. Setting dumps. Description dumps. All these dumps work far better when you recycle them. Stretch them out into thin threads to be woven organically throughout the story. Pace their delivery. Weave them over and under and through the plot, discarding what isn’t absolutely necessary and showing what’s vital at the perfect time for best impact.

Once you’ve gone through the decluttering process, you reach your goal:

  • Keep

Whatever is left should be a vast improvement over what you started with. For those taking the traditional route to publication, you’re good to go. See if it sells, and if it does, you’ll have an in-house editor catch the things you didn’t.

For indies, especially those professional and experienced enough to understand just how blind we are to our own work, you’re ready for your freelance editor. If you’ve done your job well, and if your editor charges by the hour, you have just saved yourself some money.

Whether traditional or indie, declutter your work before sending it out.


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Super Sale—LAST DAY!

Today is the last day you can get both ebooks in the Circle Bar Ranch series for only 99c! Both!

Give the Lady a Ride is only 99c and The Final Ride is FREE, meaning you can get both ebooks for less than a dollar!

Hope you lasso this opportunity! (Yeah, okay, that was a groaner—but I still hope you do. 😀 )

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