Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Back in the late 70s and 80s, I was involved in various ways with movie, radio, and TV projects. My voice-over work took place in the early 90s. Then when my novel-writing career was taking off, these projects dwindled away.

I learned a long time ago that God has seasons for our lives, and I've enjoyed watching Him take me through various seasons. So when the media things faded away, I moved joyfully into the next season.

Late last year, God brought movie work back into my life. I am the screenwriter for the Christian movie Abducted to Kill which should release next year. I almost laughed when the producer contacted me.

Here I was a 69-year-old woman, and God was bringing a major movie project to me. I will be 71 years old in November. So often as we grow older, we think that our time of making a difference in the world is slipping away. But I don't believe that God is finished with us until He calls us home to heaven. And I'm glad. Being used in a special way is exciting.

Has God brought a major change in your life recently?

Were you excited ... or did you think you couldn't do it?

I hope you grabbed onto the new thing with all your heart and moved forward with gusto. That's what I'm doing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Where DO We Get Our Ideas?

I met a cousin recently who read my latest book. Being my cousin, he was very supportive and complimentary. And then he asked a question that I have been asked frequently: Where do you get your ideas?

That’s a good question. It’s one I haven’t adequately answered yet because the truth of the matter is, I’m not sure. Where DO we as writers get our ideas? Yes, we can be prompted by inspiration from God, a newspaper article, a random comment, or a hundred other sources. But how exactly does the process work of coming up with details and organizing them into something meaningful on the page? I read a comment from a world-famous author who has written sixty books and sold a gazillion copies. He said he doesn’t have a clue where his ideas come from!

My cousin was quite curious about the creative writing process, and he pumped me for information. He referred to several scenes from my book and asked where I got the ideas for them. I told him that some were based on personal experiences, but others were pulled from thin air. That’s the best answer I could give him. Creative writing is pulling ideas from thin air—inspiration, if you will—and organizing them into a logical, sequential manner.

Some days the ideas pour onto the page like water from a pressurized hose. Other days they collect like dew, slowly and imperceptibly. The fun part, however, is looking back over something I’ve written and thinking: Where did that come from? I wasn’t planning on heading in that direction. The story has taken me on a new course.

That is the aspect of writing I like the most—letting the story surprise me. I love it when that happens! Sometimes I laugh out loud at a detail that unexpectedly surfaces, and other times I get out of my chair and pace around excitedly in the realization that an unplanned detail has surfaced, opening up a whole world of new possibilities. And, of course, there are the occasions when I despair and think that I’ll never write a coherent sentence again. Sometimes the well is full; sometimes dry. And I don’t know why that is the case, either way. I only know that when the well is full, boy, my fingers can’t type fast enough to keep up with the ideas.

I’m a huge fan of the Beatles. For all the songs that Lennon and McCartney wrote, they admitted they had no idea where the music came from. They called it the “music of the spheres” because it came from “out there somewhere.” The same place story ideas come from, I suppose.

I do believe in divine assistance, but how exactly does the creative writing process work? Any thoughts?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Preacher's Wife Book Tour/Giveaway

This month has seen the launch of my first novel The Preacher's Wife. To celebrate, I'm giving away a signed copy of the book. Enter your name in the Rafflecopter drawing below for a chance to win!

Want a sneak peek at the book? Here's a sampler.

Book Excerpt:

This excerpt takes place shortly after Rowe arrives in Assurance, Kansas. Marissa sees him on her way to deposit the saloon’s earnings in the bank. The town’s gossipy seamstress Linda Walsh stops to have a word with Marissa about the new preacher.

             “That must be our new preacher.” Linda Walsh, the town’s young seamstress, walked up beside Marissa. Always eager for conversation, Linda would speak to anyone who stopped to listen, as Marissa had learned since coming back to Assurance a couple years ago. “We weren’t expecting him for another two weeks. I wonder what made him take off from home so fast.”

            Marissa groaned at the thought of meeting another preacher. Every preacher she came across had turned her away once they discovered her profession.

            She watched the small schooner pull up to the local inn. She recognized the driver Dusty Sterling seated beside the other man. Dusty hopped down and tethered the horses. The man in black stepped onto the dusty curb. His recently polished boots gleamed.

            “Fancy one, he is,” Linda continued. “I hear he comes from a city somewhere in Virginia.”

            “Where did you hear that?”

            “It was in the paper a month ago. Our advertisement for a new preacher was answered from a man back East.”

            Marissa focused again on what was in front of her. The traveler indeed looked foreign to the prairie. Not a hint of travel dust stuck to his long, black frock coat and four-in-hand necktie, probably changed into just before departing the train. His gray pants were new and expertly tailored. He removed his hat briefly to wipe his brow, and Marissa saw the dark, wavy hair cropped close to his head.

            “He doesn’t have a wife or children with him. Such a shame.” Linda clucked her tongue. “He’s a handsome fellow, for certain.”

            Marissa agreed with her on that. He must have stood over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a powerful build. The man’s profile was strong and rigid, his square jaw and straight nose a true delight for the eyes. Assurance’s former preacher, Reverend Thomas, did not look like this. “Would having a wife and children make him a better preacher?”

            Linda tossed her a look. “That’s got nothing to do with it. One ought to be settled down at a certain age, wouldn’t you say so? Instead of running wild with the barmen?”

            Marissa absorbed the sting of emotional pain. Anything she said in response would not sway Linda or anyone else’s notion that she was just a beer-serving streetwalker. She put on a polite stoic face. “I’m sure the ladies of this town will clamor for his attention. Will you excuse me, Miss Linda? I should be going.”

            She left the seamstress just as Dusty carried the new preacher’s valises inside the inn. The preacher moved to follow then stopped short, pausing for Marissa to walk past. Marissa saw his blue eyes widen and take in her entire form, from the feathered hat on her head to the dainty-heeled boots on her feet. By his expression she didn’t know whether he admired or disapproved.

            His lips settled into a firm line of what looked to be distaste, and she got her answer.

            The preacher hadn’t been there for an hour and already she drew out his scorn. Marissa returned the stare until her image of him blurred with beckoning tears.

            He jolted from his perusal. His low, straight brows flicked. “Good day to you, ma’am.” He amiably tipped his hat to her.

            She paused, not used to being addressed in that fashion. Kindness was in his greeting, not the sarcasm she normally heard from others. Marissa tilted her head to get a clear look at him. His eyes were friendly, calm deep pools. The rest of his face, with its strong, angular lines, remained cordial.

            “Good day,” she replied, hoarse. Awkwardness seized her person. Marissa hastily

continued on her way to the bank.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Different Personalities...Different Styles

Authors are such unique individuals. We all may think alike as far as our writing skills and knowledge are concerned, but when it comes to topics and styles, we all have our own way of doing things. Some are plotters, planners, and organizers. Others of us are Pantsters and don’t know the whole story until we write it.

Those who write mystery, suspense or thrillers have their own way of thinking and keeping their readers on edge until the end. We have gentle, sweet, romance writers who have conflict, but it doesn’t blow up in our face. We have a limited number of true plot ideas from which to draw, but how we present that plot is as varied as the personalities of the authors who write them.

I envy those who can write mystery, suspense, speculative and fantasy. That’s just not me, but I enjoy reading those genres. Perhaps that’s because I don’t feel I am competing with them for a reader base. I want my stories to touch the hearts of my readers as they watch the lives of my characters grow and evolve in their relationships with each other and with the Lord.

The libraries and bookstores are full of books for every kind of reading tastes. If you can’t find something you would enjoy reading, you just haven’t looked hard enough.

Each of us writes with our own style and voice, and that’s how it should be. Being true to ourselves in our writing is what makes our writing sincere and keeps it moving. It also builds our fan base if we strive for excellence in our writing. When the quality of our writing stays true to our voice and style, our readers won’t be disappointed.

So many times we may wonder if that first book was a fluke and if everyone will hate the next one and the one after that. As long as God is helping us write, and we rely on Him to supply us with the stories, we will not disappoint.

With eleven novels and three novellas under my belt and two more contracted, my greatest concern is that the quality will diminish the more I write. I’ve seen it so often in the secular world, but only a few times in CBA authors. Later books by well known, best-selling authors sometimes lose the pizzazz of the first few and the plots and outcomes become much too predictable. That’s what I hope I can overcome and write so that each book keeps getting better rather than predictable.

With my newest release, Love Stays True, I drew on family history sparked by a few letters of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. My dad had them in his possession and passed them on to me. The historical facts are there as well as a few things that actually happened in the family. My imagination did the rest to build a story around their love.

Of course in romance there has to be some predictability in the hero and heroine resolving all issues and coming together at the end, but the journey to that end must be exciting and keep the reader turning the pages to find out how the two will finally be together.  

What makes your writing and your voice unique? What do you do to make sure each book is as good as or even better than the previous one, especially in a series?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Healing Grace

Release day for my latest book, Healing Grace, was October first.
I've had a great response to the cover of this book. The cover artist outdid himself to get everything just right. He even added the hat that kept popping up throughout the story. And it's been said that the male character resembles a famous actor. Can you guess who that might be??? 

Congrats to the other authors who had a book release this month too!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Pain Management for Writers and Other Professionals Who Sit All Day

There has been a lot of talk about writers and pain lately. I've personally experienced this, from neck cramps and back aches, to stabbing or tingling sensations in my wrists. Pain seems to be one of the occupational hazards of desk-sitters, but fortunately it can be managed. If you try a few things at home, but nothing works, you may need to see your doctor to find out if something is more seriously wrong.

Set the Clock

Before you sit down to write, set an alarm clock or timer for an hour or less. When it beeps or buzzes, get up and do something else that forces you to change position for at least five or ten minutes. You can still "write" in your head, but you do need to give your body a break from the computer chair. I like to do some stretches, put a load of laundry into the washing machine, empty the dishwasher, go outside and check the mail, or do anything else that doesn't require sitting.

Do Something Active Everyday

You don't have to be a full-on athlete. Just find something physical that you enjoy doing. I enjoy 10-15 minute sessions on my rebounder throughout the day. When the weather is nice, I like to walk around the block. If you have access to a pool, go for a swim. It doesn't really matter what you do as long as you have spurts of activity to get you out of your sitting position and moving. 
Photo courtesy of Jzlomek/

Eat Healthy Foods

Make sure your diet is filled with foods that have plenty of antioxidants and try to stay away from sugar that causes inflammation. I like to make smoothies with ingredients like kale, broccoli florets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, walnuts, ground flax seeds, and almond milk - but not all at the same time. Mix and match a few ingredients until you find what you like. Here are a couple of my favorites: Drink to Good Health.

Pamper Yourself

After a long day of writing, soak your feet in Epsom salts, or even better, dump some bath salts into a full-size tub and take a long soak. Use vibration or shiatsu massagers made by Homemedics or Dr. Scholl's to help increase circulation to the muscles. Something that brings me a tremendous amount of relief is my Aurawave T.E.N.S. unit that delivers electrical currents directly to the muscles where I feel pain. It really helps my middle back and shoulder pain. I also hang upside-down on my Teeter Hang-Ups inversion table. That thing is amazing!

Have you ever sat at a desk so long your back ached when you got up? What do you do to manage your pain?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Deus Ex Machina

The phrase “deus ex machina” comes from the Latin for "god from the machine". It is a plot device in which a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object. Often, it is intended to move the story forward when the writer has "painted himself into a corner" and sees no other way out.

In preparation for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, I have been watching some of the previous “new” episodes introduced in 2005. At the end of season one, the Doctor and his companion, Rose, are being held hostage by the Doctor’s nemesis, the Daleks. The Daleks, a ruthless race bent on destroying all life but their own kind are about to destroy Earth and all of humanity. There seems to be no hope on the horizon. And yet, in the last 7 minutes of the show, Rose looks into the “heart” of the TARDIS, the Doctor’s space ship and sees the Vortex and absorbs all the power of the TARDIS. This makes her literally like a goddess. She destroys the millions of Dalek ships with a mere thought and saves the universe. One can argue that the “heart” of the TARDIS was mentioned in earlier episodes but this “deus ex machina” came our of nowhere.

Horace in his Ars Poetica, instructs poets that they must never resort to a "god from the machine" to resolve their plots. He was referring to Greek theater, where a machine is used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage. The machine could be either a crane used to lower actors from above, or a riser that brought actors up through a trapdoor.

To the credit of the writers of Doctor Who, the device was not used without a price. Rose almost died and the Doctor had to absorb the Vortex energy from her to save her life. Because of this, the Doctor “died” and regenerated from the ninth doctor to the tenth doctor. In fact, the deus ex machina has become the go to plot device when you have to stop the bad guy. Think about it. How many times have we seen the bad guy hit by a car or a bus in television shows and movies? It is lazy and poor plotting!

In Christian fiction, there is an implicit God from the machine. We have an all powerful, sovereign God who can literally swoop in at the last minute and save us from an impossible situation. Think of the ram in the bush, the parting of the red sea, and the ultimate deus ex machina, the resurrection of Christ. Our fiction by its very nature is a setup for using the deus ex machina.

Lately, I have observed a curious development in secular fiction whether in print, on television, and in movies. It seems the “universe” has become the deus ex machina! The “universe” wanted two people in love to get together. The “universe” saved us from certain doom. Also, in such shows as Once Upon a Time (THE Master of deus ex machina!) Emma Swan is called the “savior” over and over and over until it is almost nauseating.

It would seem that our culture is craving some kind of deus ex machina to save us from our fate. Maybe this is why current fiction is filled with this device. Perhaps it is a subtle desire in our culture for a true God. How then as Christian authors can we handle this device? After all, isn’t every answered prayer a true deus ex machina? Isn’t every “miracle” a deus ex machina?

In my second book, “The 12th Demon: The Mark of the Wolf Dragon” I was very pleased when my editor complemented me on using a device to kill the “bad guy” that was placed very early in the story. This device surfaced about three times before the final scene and hopefully, when the reader saw the device pop up in the final scene, there was a sense of satisfaction that the outcome of this scene would be anything but contrived.

So, here is my question. How do you use God in your stories? How do you avoid the deus ex machina in your stories without coming across as contrived and sending your reader into terminal eye rolling?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Why do you read? I expect that you may have any number of answers, but what comes to mind first? For me, it's pure escapism. I want to experience other lands, other realities, time travel and see it all through amazing characters. The difficulty I run into as an author is that I see others mistakes now. I don't think I noticed these things before I really started to study the craft. Now, I see typos and missing words, confusion about what character is on the page. Of course there are mistakes in many novels, I can think of a couple in my own but I hope readers don't catch them. :)

What does reading mean to you? Do you have an interesting experience you want to share about how reading changed something for you or someone else in your life? I'm on a mission to try and get readers to escape into the past with historical fiction.

Answer any of these questions and I'll put your name in the hat for an opportunity to win your choice of a novel from The Ravensmoore Chronicles. Each book can be read as a stand alone but if you plan to read the entire series I'd start with Secrets of the Heart. Chameleon is book two and Mystery of the Heart is book three. I'll  keep this opportunity open through midnight Pacific time on Saturday, October 12th and post a winner sometime on Sunday the 13th. If you know of a reader 16 -21 years of age that you would like to bless, and that you think would like my novels but hasn't yet read them, and you win this drawing, I will send that reader all three of my novels in the series. All my book giveaways are limited to within the U.S.A. just because of mailing costs.

If you haven't submitted you e-mail for my newsletter over at my website I'd appreciate it. Just go to I don't send newsletters out often and when I do there will be something fun going on so you don't have to worry about getting hit with a lot of unwanted stuff. Also, I have the first chapter of each of my books available for you to read on the site if  you're interested. Check it out. Nothing like having two different types of blogs on the same site. And I thought I was cutting back on blogging. :)

I also blog on the 29th of each month at The Christian Fiction Historical Society:
Twitter @JillKentAuthor
I write articles and coordinate the team of writers for The Well Writer at -

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Conference Experience

Hi, Lena Nelson Dooley here.

I always look forward to the ACFW national conference. I love taking mentoring appointments, and I did quite a few at this conference. Meeting aspiring authors and helping them learn more about the business really makes me happy.

Another of my favorite things about conference is getting together with authors I don't see very often. Hugging, laughing, and feeling as if it had only been yesterday since we were together. It's a lot like a family reunion where the cousins only see each other in person once a year.

One real treat was getting to meet the speaker Robin Jones Gunn in person. I've featured her a number of times on my blog, and she looked me up to thank me.

If you're not familiar with my blog, check it out: . You'll meet a lot of Christian authors there.

Here are some of the pictures:

My Agent Joyce Hart and me

With Robin Jones Gunn
Two of my favorite authors, Kellie Gilbert and Kathleen Y'Barbo Turner

A conference tradition, a picture of me with Chip MacGregor 
in his kilt tuxedo

These two ladies, Joy Melville and Marji Laine, really
blessed me at the conference.

Do you ever go to family reunions where you have relatives you only see once a year?

What is your favorite thing about those times?