Especially for Writers

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The Circle Bar Ranch Coloring Book!

If you take my newsletter or have connected with me on any of my playgrounds—particularly Facebook—you’ll know that I’m excited about my new coloring book for children. I’ve been daydreaming about this for a few years now, and it’s finally here!

Although I took liberties with the plot, the coloring book is based on the action in Give the Lady a RideWhile they color, little ones can learn that with faith and prayer, all things are possible.

This is the first step toward increasing my product line for each book I release through my imprint, Canopy Books of Texas. Last week, I mentioned that I got tons of ideas from Merchandise for Authors, and coloring books were among the things the author listed. I’m tickled that I had a jump on it and mine was already in the making.

When I was ready to release it, I compared prices on Amazon with the one CreateSpace suggested, and decided not to make it available publicly yet. The suggested price is too high and out of line with other coloring books offered on Amazon. I charge $3.00 for the book plus $1.00 to mail it—quite a savings from the suggested price!

Eventually, I’ll add a little store on my website—or open one on zazzle—but right now, there are two ways to get the coloring book. One is to write to me directly ( The other is to enter the giveaway:

Just sign up for my newsletter for more information and to be entered into the contest. You’ll have a chance to win the entire Circle Bar Ranch series!

I’ll be looking for your subscription. Good luck in the drawing!


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Fun While It Lasted

Remember that big ol’ speech I gave about using bitly as a marketing analytics tool? Oops.

Problem with it is that it’s been abused—as have other link-shortening tools. Jerks of all kinds provide a link to cover the offensive trash they want you to click on or arrange for you to become a victim of a computer virus. Legitimate sites are fighting back.

LinkedIn exchanges your link for theirs. Pinterest doesn’t allow customized links, and as of today, neither does Facebook. Can Twitter be far behind?

These are the primary sites where I promote my new releases, giveaways, and sales. I don’t know about Instagram and others, but if they follow suit, bitly won’t be of much use for analytics outside your own newsletter, blog, and website.

So, if you read that first post and considered it a wonderful idea, all I can say is, things change. And things in cyberspace change even faster.

But, since I went through so much trouble to develop bitly links, here’s one for you: I have a new giveaway on my website. Check it out!

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Especially for Writers

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Merchandise for Authors

Merchandise for Authors is a game changing book of hints, tips, ideas, resources—all centered around developing product lines that compliment our novels.

I got excited reading this. I already developed a coloring book for the Circle Bar Ranch series, but this opened my mind up for tons of other ideas too and provided great tips about bringing those ideas into reality. Now I intend to develop a fuller product line for my series to supplement my book sales. Eventually, I hope to open an online store or at least figure out how to sell book-related items on my website—or both.

The resources Melissa introduced are totally new to me, and they helped me to think outside what I expected for book-related products. For instance, did you know there are sites where you can have fabric made with whatever design you want? Want to have your cover on a bolt of cotton? Go to Spoonflower—they do fabric, wall paper, gift-wrapping paper, all sorts of super-cool things that are out of the ordinary for authors. Have your fabric designed, then fashion scarves, purses, whatever, and voila! You have a custom-made product that bears your book images.

Melissa provides enough links to get you started cranking out the ideas and gives you direction of how to use the products you create to enhance your book sales. She also helps you focus on being not just an author, but a business. This book is worth the $7.99 print price, and it’s only 144 pages. Get it and open your mind to new ideas and business opportunities.

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Especially for Writers

Where I am. Intimidation blended with excitement is a good thing.

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New Christian Fiction Titles for July!

July 2017 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Cozy Mystery:

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:


The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)

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A Nation to Celebrate

I’m proud of our country. As a nation, we’ve done some pretty amazing things and have come to the aid of downtrodden peoples all over the world. These days, with the redacted history being taught today—where only our sins are being taught, along with mandatory self-loathing and shame—I doubt too many people remember what good we’ve done.

So, I challenge you: Name something you’re proud of America for.

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Especially for Writers

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Pronouns of Biblical Proportions

Today’s writing lesson comes from the Genesis, right after Joseph ben Jacob was sold by his brothers:

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.

So Joseph found favor in his sight and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate (Genesis 39: 1-6, NKJ version).

Did you have any trouble following that? Or did you have to backtrack to see what was going on? Did the pronouns throw you off?

My bet is that you had no trouble with the passage, except that maybe it was long. Readers are smart. If you make the path clear enough for them to follow, they have no trouble keeping up.

But today’s tendency is to identify each character by name as he is mentioned, to “avoid confusion.” Often that leads to the reader getting ripped out of the story because the practice is making her nuts—or maybe it’s just me. I don’t know, but it does make me nuts. If the above passage were edited by today’s standards, it would look much like this:

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought Joseph from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

The Lord was with Joseph, and Joseph was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord made all Joseph did to prosper in his hand.

So Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s sight and served him. Then Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his house, and all that Potiphar had he put under Joseph’s authority. So it was, from the time that Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that Potiphar had in the house and in the field.

Thus Potiphar left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and Potiphar did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.

I bet you could follow that too, but fess up—didn’t it drive you just a little nuts? Didn’t you find the original a much smoother read? Or, as I said, maybe it’s just me.

Notice that whenever the Lord was included in the mix of characters, giving the scene three male participants, identifiers were in place to avoid confusing the reader. Otherwise, the character was identified easily by the role he played and what we knew about him. Potiphar was the owner; Joseph was the servant. So we understand this sentence in the context:

Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.

We understand this through a logic so simple that we don’t even have to stop and think about it.

That’s why I tend to trust my beta readers more than my editors when it comes to using pronouns. Beta readers let me know when a passage confuses them because they don’t know who’s doing the action, and they’re confused far less often than editors are. Usage rules don’t allow an editor to overlook that line, even though the meaning is made clear through the context. Line editors, especially, would engage in some hair pulling because they focus more on the sentence construction and the rules that dictate them than they do the context.

This issue is more contemporary than historical, probably in rebellion of pieces in which the characters involved weren’t named for several pages. After a while, the context wasn’t just confusing, it was frustrating because we’d have to flip back, retrace, and try to figure out who was who. I remember reading several books like that, but for the life of me, I can’t think of a single example right now.

I think it’s time to find a happy medium. Time to trust our readers again. Like I said, my beta readers let me know when something confuses them. They provide the happy medium between the author, to whom everything makes sense, and the editor, to whom nothing outside the rule of grammatical law makes sense.

Write your piece the way you see it in your head. Trust your reader to let you know if they visualize it the same way you do.


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