The Perils Of Wit

Welcome to Ruth Buchanan, who writes FUNNY STUFF -my hat is off to you, Ruth…easier said than done. And oh, how our serious old world needs to laugh! Besides her gift of humor, Ruth is offering a commenter a digital copy of Collapsible (Use only).

The Four Perils of Wit

I write comedy because I love laughter. It’s a gift from God, and sharing that gift with others is immensely satisfying. There are, however, some distinct downsides to writing humor.

Peril 1: Making jokes nobody understands. 

When you make jokes nobody understands, you’re impressing nobody but yourself. The key is to know your audience and think of what they’d enjoy rather than seeking to highlight your own wit.

Peril 2: Feeling that you must meet expectations. 

Sure, you can deliver droll dialogue in books and plays, but that doesn’t mean you can do the same thing in real time—or that you should even try. In attempting to be “on” all the time despite dips in mood, intermittent personal struggles, or a sluggish mental state, you may wind up trying too hard and displaying a grotesque parody of humor that delights no one.

Peril 3: Encountering the assumption that you don’t think too deeply. 

People tend to equate seriousness with depth and laughter with flippancy. Although there’s some truth at the core of the assumption, it’s still a dangerous over-generalization. Yes, it doesn’t cost much to be flippant, but not all humor is flippant and not all earnestness solemn. There is a type of joy that is serious and a type of humor that is actually quite sad.

Peril 4: Allowing wit to trump all other considerations. 

One of the worst perils of wit is the danger of letting the words fly without first considering the ramifications. When we write, input from early readers and editors can help us temper our impulses in subsequent drafts.

In conversation, however, it’s another matter. Those with quick wits will often allow their tongues to run ahead, speaking first and considering the consequences later.

This is perhaps the greatest peril of wit, and one not easily remedied.

Fortunately, there is hope.

Combatting the Danger

The best way to combat the danger is to fill your mind with things worthy of being said. That way whenever you do speak, you have a significantly lower likelihood of saying something foolish.

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul sets the standard: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Let us think on worthy things so that we may speak worthily.

In this way, we combat the worst perils of wit.

About Ruth

Ruth Buchanan is a Christian freelance writer who holds degrees in ministry and theology. She writes fiction, non-fiction, plays, and sacred scripts. She’s an eager reader, an enthusiastic traveler, and the world’s most reluctant runner. Ruth loves Jesus, family, church, friends, and coffee. She lives and works in South Florida. You can learn more about her and her books by visiting RuthBuchananAuthor.comor following her on social media.

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Check Out Book 1 in the Collapsible trilogy!

Rachel Cooper has life under control: good job, good friends, and good plans for the future. All of that collapses one early morning when she falls and breaks her ankle. Now she must face the horrors of preparing for an upcoming move and handling her tenth year of teaching while clomping around on crutches. Worse, somewhere in the shadows, the Memento Killer lurks—a serial murderer who stalks women with four anonymous gifts before moving in for the kill. When unexpected presents begin arriving on Rachel’s doorstep, she fears that she’ll soon be crutching for her life. Check out Collapsible: A novel of friendship, broken bones, coffee, shenanigans, and the occasional murder.


Stacey Pardoe has such inspiration to share…enjoy.

There Are No Small Moments

I’m on my knees, camera lens inches from a dwarf ginseng, its tiny snowflake head bobbing in the breeze, when I realize we’re not alone.  “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” the khaki-clad elderly gentleman greets, and I’m drawn from my small moment with the ginseng.

“Sure is,” I say, somewhat embarrassed by the black dirt on my knees and elbows.

“Did you see the trout lilies?” he asks, and I notice the camera strapped over his neck.  I’m less embarrassed.

We talk for a long while about trillium and bluebells, and he finally meanders off along the path. Returning to my photo shoot with the ginseng, I remember the way I once looked at thirty-somethings with cameras and wildflower books.  At twenty-two, I kept track of miles logged and elevations reached, not dwarf flora, like violets and ginseng.  At twenty-two, I mostly lived for big moments – summit moments, and the thought of bending low for small moments seemed nothing short of condescending.

We walk farther down the trail, kids running ahead in search of toads and moths, and I consider these changing seasons.  When did small moments begin to take on such an authentic kind of glory?  It must have been before I dug the wildflower books out of the dusty boxes in the attic of the garage.

I remember when I started taking pictures of tiny mushrooms and sphagnum moss.  I believe that was the moment.  The moment I pulled out the camera and committed to capture the miracles I miss every day when I brush past in all my hurry, with my large-moment focus and my desire to prove something.

What if we could all live like we have nothing to prove?  What if we never again needed to prove our worth through demonstrating our intelligence, beauty, humor, and talent?  What if these things were simply gifts with which we blessed others, and we were fully content to live in the midst of our quiet moments in utter contentment?

Have I really learned the secret of being content in any and every situation?

What if there really are no small moments – just quiet moments . . . And what if the quiet moments are worth every bit as much as the loud moments performed before the multitudes?

I think long on it, while the kids build castles along the sandy creek, and I’m sure of it: These quiet moments of walking with children in the woods, baking cornbread, stirring scrambled eggs with a rubber spatula, folding tiny T-shirts, and wiping down dusty furniture are the moments that will make up the bulk of our lives.  There may be loud moments, platform moments, and moments that are broadcast before the world, but these big moments won’t make up the majority of our lives.

So what are we doing with our quiet moments?  Because the quiet moments are the ones that seem small, but they’re really the ones that comprise the essence of our lives.

Sitting along the water, I commit to live with more gratitude.  I commit to recognize the gifts that surround me and magnify God through naming them: dwarf ginseng, blue phlox, garlic mustard, and wild geranium; sandcastles at the creek, lunch on a hilltop, holding hands along the road; the mounds of dirty laundry that remind me of the gift of my family, the meat simmering in the crock-pot, the green crayon on the living room wall.  I won’t write these things off or roll my eyes.  I’ll embrace them and give thanks.

I commit to speak life.  I commit to ask direct questions and bite my tongue when I’m in a bad mood.  I remember to tell the kids that I love them just because they’re mine, that their mistakes will never define them, and that they make my world a better place.

I commit to live intentionally.  We role play the whole way home from the creek, and Bekah thinks of responses to every playground dilemma I can conjure up.  We read Bible stories before Caleb naps, and I pray specific prayers over each of them before he sleeps.  We turn off the TV and dive into imaginary play on the carpet with our assortment of mini characters.  I make some calls and send some cards.

When the sun sinks low that evening, Bekah and I put together a pocket guide of wildflowers from our sanctuary at the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area.  We find Latin names and study the history of each plant. It all feels a bit small, but when she looks at me with dancing blue eyes, filled wild with life and passion, I know for sure that none of this day was small at all.

Bio: Stacey is the wife of a handsome lumberjack, mother of two blue-eyed beauties, a freelance journalist, mentor, and certified special education teacher.  She writes weekly at






A New Release at Eighty!

Let me introduce author, editor and writing instructor, Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen. I had the privilege of taking a class with Mary and learned SO much. What a joy to have her visit, and to hear that she’s still writing, octogenarian or not! Please leave your e-mail if I don’t have it already, because Mary’s offering a free copy of her memoir to one fortunate commenter...I think we’re in for a treat. 

I’ve never been one to hide my age—unless you call hair coloring an attempt to age alter—but since October 1, my birthday, I’ve noticed a strange clutch in my gut, a catch in my throat, a little stammer in my speech when, for whatever reason, I have to say, “Eighty.”

Eighty! It’s crazy. My parents died at 49 and 69, a brother died at 64 and a sister at 68. Cancer all. I’ve lived with the intensity of one who assumes her days are numbered, and the number would be below the national average. Also, this Annie Dillard quotation has driven me: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Spend. Time is like money. My supply is limited. Better make careful choices on how I spend it. Better not waste a minute.

But here I am. The celebration’s over. The shock settling in. And the existential question, “Why?” now haunting my sleep. Insurance predictors tell me that by living this long, I have dodged all the big killers and will likely live to be 98. That’s almost two more decades of days!

Two years ago, I had a health event that for a year left me in pain sliding from a brusque “I’m OK. I’ll be fine,” to a wordless gasp. During that year, assuming it might be my last, I began a practice I had never before attempted and wrote every night, wrote what I called “my Marvel,” wrote on small things and close to home things, on fragile thoughts or fleeting observations. I followed Jesus’ suggestion that we “consider the lilies of the field.” So, noticing what I noticed, I planted it in my mind, allowing it to take root and grow, considering what it had to teach me. Writing about it became my daily purpose.

For a year, I tended those thought seeds. And then for the better part of a year I pruned—trimming, shaping or cutting those daily writings. Consider the Marvels: Writings from My 79thYear is the result. The project filled the two years leading up to my 80th. Now, here I am, potentially looking forward to two decades of days, and my pain-free self, which has lost the passion for daily writing, wonders what of value I can spend my time on now. A question I will need to think about, to ponder, to consider….

Calling all Octogenarians! I need help! Tell us all about the marvels in your days.

Find more information about Mary Nilsen at

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard


I’m so pleased to welcome the winner of the WILLA award, Debra Whiting Alexander. Debra is giving away a print copy of Zetty, a novel that goes deep into loss, deep into the power of friendship, and deep Into joy. Deb is offering one free book to a potential fan who leaves a comment here.

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised on the warm sandy beaches of San Diego and grew up on a steady diet of western movies and musicals. My debut novel, Zetty, takes place in Windansea, California, a little beach community in San Diego. Like the main character in the story, I grew up with a love for the ocean, cowgirls, neighborhood dance shows, pianos, golden retrievers, and art. Friendship and motherhood are the central themes in my life, and in my characters’ lives as well. I miss the San Diego coast, but our home in Oregon backs up to lush green fields, horses, stunning sunsets, and hazelnut orchards. Southern California was the inspiration for my first novel, but it’s here in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest that I’ve found my vision for the next one!

  1. Do you have another job aside from being an author?

I do, and I love my day job as a mental health therapist and clinical supervisor. I hold a Ph.D. in Psychology and am a Licensed Marriage and Child Therapist. I’ve specialized in post trauma treatment for over 30 years and only recently cut back my hours to allow more time to write and care for my granddaughter.

  1. Tell us about your award-winning, debut novel, Zetty. What inspired you to write this book?

Zetty is the story of a mother lost to a rare form of Schizophrenia, and a daughter’s quest to find her. It begins in 1963 when Marjorie McGee suddenly disappears from her home, leaving nine-year-old Zetty motherless and confused. In alternating points of view, the story follows the lives of both mother and daughter as Marjorie’s mental illness progresses, and Zetty’s hope for her return diminishes. But at seventeen, Zetty wants answers. She finds herself in a circle of unconventional women—opinionated, endearing, courageous and keen-eyed women—who offer Zetty their heart and backbone. As unexpected friendships form, Zetty begins an emotional, psychological and spiritual journey in search of her mother—never imagining the joy and tragedy yet to come, the undeniable power of early childhood bonds, and the secret that will change their lives forever.

Inspired by my grandmother who died in a psychiatric hospital at the age of 41, Zetty blends personal history with my professional background. It was important to me to shine a light on the stigma of mental illness, especially in the 1960’s and 70’s. My grandmother’s life experience was a powerful one; she suffered the consequences of a stigmatizing mental illness in the 1940’s. And even though the story isn’t about her, she was important inspiration that kept me going as I labored over this book for fourteen years! It was also important to me to write about the challenges of despair. Trauma is a part of life, but not all of it. The idea that joy can coexist alongside tragedy is a message we don’t often hear or believe. I wanted Zetty to address this idea and other points of view that empower us. That’s what keeps me uplifted and excited about writing.

  1. Tell us about the awards Zetty has received.

Zetty was recently named the 2018 WILLA Literary Award Winner in Contemporary Fiction by the Women Writing the West organization and the 2018 Winner in Women’s Fiction and a Finalist in Regional/West Fiction from the National Indie Excellence Awards.

  1. Zetty is your debut novel, although you have written non-fiction. How has this experience been different from when your other books were published?

After years of writing nonfiction books related to post trauma recovery, I finally gave birth to fiction. People ask all the time why I made the switch. The answer is easy: I couldn’t wait to make things up! It’s fun to lie for a change.

When I was nine, I read the poem, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died”, by Emily Dickinson. That little poem stirred something in me—a desire to capture on paper compelling moments of life in a simple way. So I wrote little books of poetry from then on. But non-fiction was a natural place for me to start with my writing career. At 31, a publisher in New York offered me a contract to write two series of books for children and teens healing from trauma. My nonfiction career took off from there.

One of my most meaningful projects, The Emotional Recovery Resource Kit, was created at the request of my publishers in response to 9/11. Writing it was an honor and deeply satisfying. But I never lost the desire to venture into fiction. Writing Zettywas equally rewarding, but in a different way. I tell my clients all the time how important it is to our brains to engage in activities we feel passionate about and interests that are new and unfamiliar, but meaningful to us. So, for me, writing Zetty was a great aerobics workout for my brain because fiction is so different than non-fiction. I had to learn, study, read, receive critiques, hear a wide range of feedback, take risks, and revise, and revise, and revise.

I relish the opportunity to write about women, friendships, motherhood, mental health, and to do it with spiritual substance —matters of the heart and soul. It’s important to me to write about issues I feel inspired by and care deeply about. Women’s fiction allows me to do that. I’m hooked!

Debra loves to hear from readers! Contact Info:

To learn more about Debra’s books:

Part of a book club? Consider asking Debra to join you for a discussion of Zetty!





Humbling Moments

Welcome, Ellie Gustafson! I love when people share their foibles with the whole world, especially with self-effacing humor. Thanks for this gift–makes the rest of us feel we can be transparent, too. For readers, Ellie is giving away an e-book to someone who comments.


I was always the smart kid on the block. My first block, though, wasn’t all that big. Branchville, population 900, had a four-room schoolhouse with eight grades and kindergarten. After a half year in the latter, I was pushed into first grade and quickly learned that I that I wasn’t thatsmart!

Later on, in fifth or sixth grade, Miss Havens, the principal and seventh/eighth grade teacher, came in to teach a history lesson. You did not mess around with Miss Havens. She was one of the few souls who could hit a softball across the brook. She called on me for an answer, and I had to confess that I had not done my homework. That I still remember shows how sharply it impacted my ego.

I graduated from high school as valedictorian and as one of the best players in the school band and orchestra. I hauled my trombone to Wheaton College—and proceeded to flunk out of band.

The Lord surely notices kids too smart for their britches. The pattern continued into my writing years. First novel—sold well; people liked it. Second novel—ambiguous ending; readers confused. Third novel—hardly anybody liked it.

Then came The Stones,a novel on the life of King David. Everybody liked it. Had TV and radio interviews—and that’s where it all broke down. I write well, read aloud well, but can’t think fast enough to speak well. Had a couple of phone interviews that were absolute disasters.

My latest fiasco came through misreading an email from my publisher that clearly said that Amazon would sell ebooks for .99 all through July. I advertised to hundreds of people that the sale applied to hard copies. I’m still reeling from the impact of that stupidity.

When served by God, humble pie dramatically prunes a person’s ego. It also points us to the crux of humanity’s true function. “Christ does not simply want our compliance. He wants our heart. He wants our love, and he offers us his. He invites us to surrender to his love.” (David Benner)

  • Abraham had his moment in Egypt, as he tried to pass off Sarah as his sister.
  • Joseph’s brothers had to bow before the man next in rank to Pharaoh.
  • David got his comeuppance when the prophet Nathan trapped him with a sheep story.
  • The Apostle Paul not only got knocked off his high horse, but was blinded, as well.

These heroes’ humiliation gives me hope. Do our humbling moments spell out God’s invitation to surrender to His love? The God who knows ALL our faults LOVES us—passionately.

  Ellie grew up in Branchville NJ, in a county with more cows than people. She attended Wheaton College in Illinois as a music major, then married a pastor/college professor/tree farmer/organist and writer. Together, they have three children and eight grandchildren.


Ellie’s early writing attempts saw friends—and even her mother—advising her to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, though, and An Unpresentable Glory is her sixth novel.


You may connect with Ellie in these ways:




Amazon Author Page:

Twitter: @EgusEllie

Facebook: Ellie Gustafson


Amazon link to An Unpresentable Glory:


And here’s the Back cover info from her latest novel: 

“I trusted you, and some day, you may know just how much you hold in your hands.”

Linda Jensen leads a relatively quiet life in Westchester County, New York, as the owner of a highly acclaimed garden. Inherited from her parents, the garden is her pride and joy. It is not so joyful finding a strange man sprawled near her delphiniums! The mysterious man is sick, unable to do anything more than drink water—and beg for secrecy. Ignoring all alarm bells, Linda sees to his needs, but her caring act takes on unexpected significance, and unpresentable glory.

Seeds of trust, and perhaps love, are planted in Linda’s garden haven. But as secrets are revealed and scandal hits the headlines, the act of caring for this man threatens to tarnish both of their reputations. Like weeds in Linda’s garden, circumstances threaten to choke out their fledgling relationship, and small moments prove to be the biggest influencers—on a national scale.

Writing From the Trenches

Now, here is a fabulous concept – I know many of these authors, and if you need a self-help book for your writing, here you go.

How Writing from the Trenches was Born

By MaryLu Tyndall

Who in their right mind would attempt to create a writing instruction book with nine other authors? It’s hard enough to co-write anything with two different personalities. But nine? Especially because most authors—well, how do I put this gently?—we are an eccentric bunch. It goes with the creative territory, I suppose. We all tend to hear voices in our heads, and most of the time we aren’t even present in this world, but drifting in another time and place, constantly creating worlds and characters in our minds. Try to corral ten people like that and get them to focus on a single task!  Honestly, I don’t know what came over me.

The truth is, I’ve read many writing instruction books over the years from many different authors, and I’ve learned a great deal. But I noticed that everyone’s advice, style, and instruction was different. Sometimes they even contradicted each other. So, I thought, why not get a bunch of fabulous authors together to give their own advice on a variety of writing topics and put it in one book? A one-stop shop for the best advice out there on writing!

Hence, Writing From the Trencheswas born. Then, to gather the authors, which ended up being much like gathering and leading cats, I might add. I wanted to get a variety of authors—some successfully published in the traditional market, some who’d made a success as Independent authors, some who did both, some with name-recognition, some without a whole lot, but ALL great writers who had won awards or been on best-selling lists. Those were my criteria, so I went about sending out recruitment emails!  Surprisingly nearly everyone I contacted was excited to be a part of this book.

Working with nine other people is never easy, but I was fairly surprised at how great this group got along, how quickly we came up with the topics we wanted to cover and who wanted to write which ones. We divided up the tasks we needed to accomplish—writing, editing, formatting, printing, cover design, marketing, etc—and then set a timeline. I have to say, everyone has been wonderful to work with, everyone got their chapters done on time, and everyone is contributing to the final product. Truly a miracle has occurred!

Since I was the one pulling all the chapters together and creating the book, I had the privilege of seeing how it was all coming together through the entire process, and the more I saw, the more excited I became. This book is like no other writing book out there. Nowhere can you get ten different authors’ advice on how to write a best-selling novel. No other book provides you with ten different perspectives on the best way to plot or what marketing techniques work the best. We start the book with plotting your novel and end up with marketing, including a section on whether to traditionally publish or go Indie. Each chapter is written by an author who is an expert in that particular area. This is a rare jewel in the writing instruction treasure chest, and not one to be missed by any writer serious about taking their writing to the next level!


TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.




Murder in the Alaska Wilderness

Please welcome Robin Barefield, a bona fide Alaska wilderness guide and award-winning author. She’s graciously offering one of her books to all of my readers–see below. BUT ALSO, she’s giving away a signed print copy of one of her books to one commenter, so please leave her your thoughts. 

Thanks for giving us a taste of your everyday life and your writing, Robin. Take it away…

My novels are set in the wilderness of Kodiak Island, Alaska and feature Dr. Jane Marcus, a fish and wildlife biologist. Jane is intelligent and strong, but she’s not afraid to acknowledge her insecurities. AlthoughJane and my other major characters, FBI Special Agent Nick Morgan and Alaska State Trooper Sergeant Dan Patterson, play key roles in my novels, the Alaska wilderness holds center stage, and I know this environment well.


My husband and I live in the wilderness on Kodiak Island, and our home is surrounded by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Kodiak sits in the Gulf of Alaska, 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. It is a mountainous island with steep peaks rising from sea level and a shoreline carved by glaciers into deep, fjord-like bays. Kodiak is gorgeous, but its weather can be violent, change rapidly, and might vary considerably from one area of the island to another. Can you imagine chasing and catching a killer in such a beautiful but hostile environment?

The city of Kodiak is locatedat the northeastern tip of the island, and most of the 13,500 inhabitants of the island live in or near the city. My home is on the western side of the island, 65 air miles from town, and my neighbors are huge Kodiak brown bears, deer, foxes, eagles, whales, and sea otters.

Thirty-five-hundred bears live on the Kodiak Archipelago, so no fictional hike through the woods would be complete without at least seeing a bear. During the summer, my husband and I guide guests on wildlife viewing and fishing trips. We hike up small streams and sit on the bank to watch Kodiak bears chase and eat salmon. I both love and respect the wilderness.


In addition to my novels, I write a free, monthly newsletter about true murder and mystery in Alaska. You can sign up for my newsletter on my website:

My latest novel, The Fisherman’s Daughter, was recently nominated as a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award as one of the best thriller novels of 2017. To thank Gail and her readers for allowing me to share a little about my books and my life, I would like to give away a signed copy of this novel to one of Gail’s readers.

Robin Barefield is the author of threeAlaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, and The Fisherman’s Daughter. To download a free copy of one of her novels, watch her webinar( how she became an author.

Thank you, Gail, for inviting me to write a guest post.




Save Your Sanity, Authors!

Welcome to Elaine Stock, and congratulations on your recent writing award!

9 Ways to Crunch Time While Saving Sanity by Elaine Stock

In all honesty, this is a fairly wonderful time for me. I can say this without bragging because I’m praising God for His blessings. On top of Life 101 and the day job, I’ve just won a national writing award and am trying to share the news, I’m about to launch my next novel, Christmas Love Year Round, and after a 30-year wait, I’m ecstatic to say that my kitchen is getting remodeled (which means, of course, I’m living with packed boxes all over the living room and no longer have any kitchen counters or cabinets until the new ones are up—and this is the way of life 2 weeks ahead of time because the floor has to be refinished). Lots of craziness, but I’m rejoicing. As one who has seen one too many upheavals through the years that I’d rather not have seen, and who knows what awaits ahead, I’m enjoying these good but chaotic days. Each day I awake and remind myself that I’m in God’s hands. It will all be okay for me.

It will all be okay for you.

Here are some tips I’m sharing to save your sanity:

1)Praise God. Whisper. Say thank you, Father, out loud. Think silently while others are talking to you. Say in prayer as you drift to sleep…while you shower…while you inhale your first mug of coffee. God has the world in control, and yep, that includes you. You are His beloved daughter or son. He doesn’t want you to suffer.

2)Befriend Your Constant Companion. As a continuation of #1, realize and accept that God is not only your Heavenly Father, but also your friend. Your companion. He is with you 24/7. It helps to make life less scary and overwhelming.

3)Consolidate Errands and Chores.  Map out your weekly strategy ahead of time and consolidate time and days. Sure, it may mean you might have to leave for work on the earlier side or arrive home later, but try to run errands on 1 or 2 days rather than 5 or more a week. Trust me—it’s a nice sense of breathing room when you have an extra 30 minutes to yourself here and there.

4)Use Daydreaming Creatively. When did I come up with this blog post? While at the day job yesterday! #ThankfulForBoringWork. You may want to reconsider if you’re a brain surgeon, childcare worker or…you get the picture, I’m sure. However, even if your work or personal demands are more attention-oriented than mine, there must be some downtime, like breaks, that you can constructively ponder away book scenes, uncooperative characters, or writing the next blog post.


5)Allow Off-days and Off-moods. Face it, sometimes it’s just plain okay to stress or be moody. Actually, get it out of your system and then quickly move on. This happened to me a few days ago when I woke up and things just felt off-kilter no matter what I did or thought. It happens. This time though, with everything going on, I remembered the above #1 and #2 and sure enough this mood passed rather quickly and I got back into the proverbial swing of things.

6)Ask for Help. What is it about us humans that we tend to be reluctant to ask for help? I may have asked for how-to help before my novels were published, but it wasn’t until my 3rdbook was released did I start a Street Team. These ladies have blessed me with their time, support, and most importantly, their friendship. Another thing I’ve been late in doing (albeit, I admit I don’t participate enough due to time constraints) is joining a few select Facebook groups to see and to share what others know.

7)Accept that You Can’t do it All. This is a hard one for me, mainly because I want to do it all. I’m like a child with one toy who wants more. Creativity gives me a happy buzz! Yet, financial restraints dictate my limited time; writing desires dictates my social media involvement. It’s a matter of…

8)Prioritizing. Yep, you saw that one coming didn’t you? Daily, prioritize. Family. The day-job. Friends. Obligations. Commitments. Vacations. Kitchen-remodeling. Ah… it’s back to #7. Speaking for myself, I’m slowly but surely realizing that I cannot do it all. And this brings me right back to…

9)Praise God. Thank you Father, that my life is in Your awesome hands. You can handle it. You want to handle it. And I surely cannot.


Elaine Stock is the author of the novels Her Good Girl, winner of the 2018 American Fiction Awards in the Christian Inspirational category,andAlways With You, which won the 2017 Christian Small Publishers Association Book of the Year Award in fiction. And You Came Along, a novella, released in December 2017. Her novels fuse romance, family drama and faith in a clean fiction style. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.

You may connect with Elaine here:


Everyone’s Story blog:




And here’s a summary of Elaine’s latest release, Christmas Love Year Round:

Cami Richardsonis good at chasing away the men in her life:first Gavin Kinkaid, a former classmate she’d helped to bully, and later, her husband who left her widowed and a single mom. Now all she wants is to bring a smile back to her eight-year-old son. What she doesn’t expect is for Gavin to become her new neighbor.

Gavin wants to settle down after serving in the Air Force and mend the separation between him and his dad. What he didn’t count on is his changing feelings when he sees Cami as a kind woman instead of his former adversary.

When Cami’s son blindsides them both during the Christmas season, is their reunion at risk or will it grow stronger?


Independence of Thought

My husband spent considerable quality time with our Independence Day author in Iraq and elsewhere…I hope you enjoy what Colonel Piontkowski, whose writing incites both laughter and thought, has to share. Note how he transports us instantly into a situation. (:
I didn’t realize what was happening until he held the sharp, straight edged razor up and smiled. It was supposed to be a simple haircut, but then I’ve never been in a Barber Shop in Baghdad, Iraq before. The young Iraqi gentlemen asked me how I wanted the hair.
You who’ve enjoyed the military know the style; short on the sides, very little on top. The next question seemed innocent enough, “Do you want the sides shaved?”
Before I could think about it, my mouth said yes. As he stood there smiling, razor in hand, my brain kicked in, “This is an Iraqi holding a sharp razor with nothing between it and my American throat but fear, panic and the sudden need to go to the latrine (restroom).”
As he began shaving the sides of my head I frantically scanned around for any Christian symbol, but seeing none I tried to slowly and calmly remember the Act of Contrition. That finished, small talk seemed the thing to do and something that could, potentially, save my life.
I mentioned what a generous tipper I was to barbers (who let me live). He looked confused when I mentioned what a wonderful god Allah is. He seemed somewhat surprised when I told him that if I ever had a son, I would name him Mohammed.
“Yessirree! I’d do anything to help the Iraqi people (especially the ones with razors near my cranium).” After he finished with the cut, shave and obligatory shoulder massage (another story) he smiled and thanked me for being so calm and quiet in the chair. I tipped him well and left before he saw the puddle where I’d been sitting.
Bigotry and prejudice come in many forms; I’m not proud of the implied mistrust of a stranger with a certain nationality and religion in the foregoing story. With Independence Day approaching, it’s good to engage in a little prepositional pondering.
We are blessed with the freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, among others. There are also “freedoms from.” We should be free from prejudice, bigotry and hatred.
To be free from judging people merely on their racial, religious or national heritage is to live a life of true liberty and peace. (Forgive me, but I still refuse to trust ANYONE with a razor near my throat.)
You’ll enjoy reading our guest’s biography as much as his article, and can find plenty of similar treasures at his blog:
As you can see…maybe he doesn’t shave at all now? (:

Rev. Richard L. Piontkowski, Jr. and his twin sister Carol were born in Knoxville TN where his father attended the University of Tennessee. He was born three minutes after his sister, which was fortunate as her umbilical cord was around his neck; nothing has changed in 60+ years.

He grew up in North Platte NE where his only experience of public education was kindergarten where he was slapped for talking and listened to a Bible story in class every day. His remaining life was in Catholic schools and universities where he was also slapped and learned more Scripture. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Diocese of Grand Island NE in 1982 and eventually earned a Master of Divinity, Licentiates (Masters) in Sacred Theology and Canon Law before successfully defending his doctoral dissertation in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. After finishing school he was forced to get a real job with real people in a real parish.

Fr. Richard joined the Army Reserve in 1989, served one tour in Iraq and retired as a Colonel after 27 years in the Army Reserve. During his tour in Iraq he began writing for his parish bulletin, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island NE, a weekly column entitled “The Rector’s Ramblings.” After returning home he continued to write the Ramblings. After switching pastorates and leaving Cathedral many people asked that he continue to write, which is now “Fr. Richard’s Ramblings.”

He currently lives in Loup City and Ravenna NE where he is the pastor of five Catholic parishes, including Ashton, Hazard and Pleasanton. Fr. Richard lives with his two silky terriers of twelve years, Bert and Ernie. Father had hopes of one of them following in his steps and becoming a priest but neither practiced celibacy or obedience.

Fr. Richard is a voracious reader of anything in print, and enjoys good scotch and bad golf. For him, rural Nebraska is a slice of heaven.

Whispering Hope

It’s wonderful to welcome back Peggy Blann Phifer, who is offering a free kindle version of her latest release, Whispering Hope, to a commenter. Don’t you love the heroine’s gloves and glamour on the cover? 

Thanks for having me on your blog, Gail. I’m pleased to be here. You asked me to share some thoughts about my writing, my book, the genre, and what it took to get it written. So, here goes …

Whispering Hope is what I call Historical Romantic Suspense. I’m not sure there actually is such a genre … officially … but it’s my story and I’m sticking with it. And yes, it’s all three.

Historical: Yes, the time is 1930, during Prohibition. The opening scenes are set in Chicago, but the rest of the story takes place in northwest Wisconsin, my old stomping grounds, in a fictitious town and county created entirely out of my imagination. It was fun to write, drawing on some old memories and locations I knew back in the day. But mostly challenging. It took a lot of research. I bought books, maps, a PBS video of the era produced by Ken Burns, and LOTS of “Googling.” I have at least a ream of paper I printed out during the writing time.

Romance: My lead female protagonist, Virginia “Ginny” Hopewell, Wisconsin country girl, visiting her cousin in Chicago, gets caught in a shooting at a local speakeasy. At the same time and place, was my male protag, Ransom “Rance” Blake, FBI agent for the Chicago Bureau of Prohibition. Their paths cross again after Ginny returns to Wisconsin and Rance is sent up there to apprehend the man responsible for the shooting and to discover how illegal liquor from Canada is getting into Wisconsin and down to Chicago.

Suspense: It’s all there. An elusive gangster. Illegal stills. Suspicious guests at the Whispering Hope Resort. Murder. And a kidnapping.

I hope this whets readers’ appetites!

Back Cover Copy:

1930 Chicago is no place for a Wisconsin country girl.

Virginia Hopewell visits her cousin in Chicago and gets caught up in a deadly gangster shooting at a speakeasy, barley escaping with her life. After learning of the tragic death of her father, brother, and sister-in-law, Ginny returns to Wisconsin and convinces her mother to reopen the resort her father had closed after losing everything in the stock market crash in 1929.

Ransom Blake, an agent with the Chicago Bureau of Prohibition, had been at the same speakeasy acting on a tip about the shooting. Rance is charged with finding the gangster responsible. He and his team are sent to Wisconsin where the man was reported being seen, and to investigate how illegal liquor from Canada is making its way to Chicago.

With the opening of Whispering Hope Resort, Rance registers as a guest and comes face to face with the lovely redhead he’d briefly encountered at the speakeasy during the shooting.


Author Peggy Blann Phifer, a retired executive assistant after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale Industry, lives in the ‘boonies’ of NW Wisconsin. A late bloomer, Peg didn’t start taking writing seriously until age fifty.

Her debut novel, To See the Sun, a contemporary romantic suspense, released in January 2012. A second novel, Somehow, Christmas Will Come, contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of romance and mystery, released in November 2014, revised and re-released in late 2015. A new work titled Whispering Hope, an historical romantic suspense, set during the years of Prohibition, released in early May 2018. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies over the past five years.

Peg is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, Peg enjoys reading, blogging, and sharing her home with her daughter, son-in-law, and a Border Collie mix dog named Rocky.

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Twitter: @pegphifer





Purchase link for Whispering Hope: