Posts Tagged ‘writing’

This book caught me off-guard. I was expecting a historical tale about a family that lived on the Mississippi River. What I discovered was the devastating story of Georgia Tann’s Tennessee Children’s Home Society and the baby/child trafficking that was so long hidden from the public.

The part about Georgia Tann and her baby business is true. The story itself is a riveting revelation of the terror and helplessness these children could have gone through as they were betrayed into Georgia Tann’s clutches.

The story of the family at the center of the book moves from freedom and happiness to fear, horror and separation. It’s a page-turner in a dark world, and to me, the realization that similar horrors happened to hundreds of children, made it even darker.

I followed up this audio book with an internet search of Georgia Tann and her infamous life, and was stunned by the facts. Some evils take a long time to be uncovered and stopped.

Kudos to Lisa Wingate for finding this story, digging up the facts, and passing them along to fiction readers. A chilling but fascinating read.

Lisa Wingate



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“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12 NIV.

That’s good advice, especially these days when so many people are distracted by their tech devices and busy lives, and fail to realize that life is passing them by.

This year turned out very differently than I had originally planned. As some of you know, shortly after Christmas, my husband and I invited my mother to live with us. She came in April, and our home became hers until her passing in November.

My mom

I had planned to continue writing as usual, but I also wanted to spend time with Mom, having tea or playing a game of dice or watching her favorite game shows. We enjoyed all of the aforementioned activities, and when I look back, I do not regret any of the time spent with her. However, it was not always an easy decision for me, because writing waited, and games are not my favorite thing.

We writers love to be alone with words and ideas and characters, but sometimes God has other plans for us. When I realize how quickly time has flown, how short my time with Mom turned out to be, I’m so glad I chose to be present in her world. Because I won’t have another chance for that.

As David says in Psalm 103:15, “As for man, his days are life grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more.” Or, to quote the lyrics of an old song, “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”

We each have decisions to make about how we spend our time. I pray for discernment as we review the past year and look forward to what God has for us in the future. In the meanwhile, let’s celebrate the mystery and miracle of Christmas, and be present in the lives of those we love. And happy writing too!

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Remember the days of Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys create-your-own-ending books? My daughters were at the perfect age for these books when they first came out, and they loved them.

The idea was to read up to a certain critical point where the heroes/heroines had a choice to make, and then choose one way or another. At each juncture in the story road, the reader had to choose which direction to follow. For the obsessive, the book could be read a number of times, choosing different endings each time until the entire book was consumed.

As a writer, I certainly have many choices to make for my characters. Better to say, they have many choices to make as I set them up. Just recently, I was writing a scene where the lost person was found, but she refused to come home. The following day I re-read the scene and changed it. The lost person did come home, but it didn’t really bring her back.

As in reading, writing and life itself, we have many choices to make all along our journey through our specific storyline. These choices can make a night or day difference in the outcome.

As a Christ-follower, I have the blessing of the Spirit of Christ living in me, and He offers guidance in His still, small voice that I can choose to listen to or not. He knows the beginning from the end and exactly how each decision will affect the outcome. But He allows me to choose. When I choose a wrong or less desirable path, I may lose out on things, but because of His mercy, God always brings me back, through the detour, onto the road He has for me.

I find it such a relief and encouragement to know that God loves me so much that no matter how often I fail Him, as His child, I am the apple of His eye and He loves me enough to bring me through to the best ending for my life. And after that, the promise of eternity with Him.

Joshua 24:15

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

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Writing involves not only good technique but also personal investment. It involves practice and learning.

An acquaintance said recently that practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. In other words, if we continue to repeat our mistakes, we are not getting any closer to perfection.

Michael J. Fox said he doesn’t aim for perfection but for excellence.

Sometimes it’s a matter of semantics. The key is to do our best at whatever we are doing, and that will always require effort, practice, and time.


Here are seven key points that will, in my opinion, help us to grow our writing:

1. Keep writing regularly. This is the practice part, the refining, the trial and error.

2. Keep reading. This is the activity that helps us get the feel of good writing (and poor writing).

3. Keep learning. Attend workshops and conferences, take courses online or through books, videos, etc.

4. Polish your writing. Strive for excellence. Don’t ever say, “Good enough.” Be the best you can be.

5. Publish. This step helps us commit to finishing a project, whether it’s a blog, a guest post or a novel.

6. Market. Oh, bother! This is my greatest challenge in the writing arena. But what do we have to lose? If we want people to read our writing, we must make it and ourselves available. Try writing in a new genre or point of view. Try writing at a different time of day or a location more conducive for you. IMG_1116Subscribe to a new social medium that you’ve so far avoided. Can’t hurt. Then analyze the advantages and disadvantages and refine your lists to what works for you. Most new things become manageable with practice and familiarity. Some remain useless and can be scrapped. But give them a chance. Note: if you don’t have a website, create one. You can do it yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. Without a website, you won’t be searchable.

7. Share. One of the best ways to learn is to share what you know or what you’re learning. Again, use blogs, guest blogs or various social media to accomplish this. It will invariably help strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the topic, method or genre (or show you where you need to bone up a bit).

So let’s keep writing and encouraging each other to strive for excellence.

This post originally appeared on the InScribe Professional Blog in May of 2016.

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chocolateYou’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.”

Here’s another one for you: “You are what you read.”my library photo

I read all the time. I have a shelf of books by my bed that I read from before I go to sleep (a good book will often induce sleep by pulling my scattered thoughts together into the story…unless the storyline is so suspenseful that I can’t stop reading), and sometimes I allow myself a half hour or so of reading while I eat my lunch. And Sunday afternoons, and…

I also have a story going at all times on my iPhone (I don’t have an iPad yet), for those times when I’m stuck waiting for an appointment or having my hair done.

thAnd then there’s the audio book on my little old iPod Nano that I listen to while I’m doing mundane things around the house or in the garden. It makes a job speed by quickly.

Some writers say they stop reading while they’re working on a book, because they don’t want outside influences. However, in my opinion, we are never immune to outside influences. As long as I’m in control of what I feed myself through reading, the effects are positive.

Over the years, I’ve taught myself to read more analytically. I note what works and what doesn’t as I read. That is reflected, I hope, in my own writing. I’ve also done a fair bit of contest judging, mostly fiction because that’s what I write, and that experience always teaches me more about writing.

Reading and writing are intertwined for the writer, impossible to separate. So keep reading, read good books, read the kind you write and the kind you wish you could write! Experiment with new authors and genres. You never know when you’ll come up with something that opens up a whole new avenue of thought and writing for you.14068091_10154440806782389_4960450202972542588_n

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Recently, I was contacted by Debra Butterfield to do an interview on her website. She asked a series of questions about indie publishing and I enjoyed the exchange. I am posting the interview below. Here’s  a direct connection to Debra’s website.

Thanks, Debra, for this opportunity to talk about the Indie Publishing Journey.

Indie publishingMaybe you are struggling with this very question right now. I hope today’s interview with author Janice Dick gives you some insight into making your decision.

Janice, what was the impetus behind your decision to go indie?

Two things:
(1) my first three books are now officially OOP (out of print) after a run of about fourteen years. I need to re-release them.
(2) my fourth book, print version, shipped to me from CreateSpace, and I asked myself why I was paying someone else to do this for me when I could probably learn to do it myself.

What did you do to get back the rights to your books?

As I said, the first three were OOP, and the publisher sent me official release papers. I simply requested my rights back from the publisher of the fourth book and he granted them. No paperwork (no matter how often I asked) but I saved the emails. I also have a couple more manuscripts waiting for readers.

Having said that, most of my previously published books are still up on Amazon. I’m not sure why, because I have the remaining copies of the trilogy and the fourth is POD, and should no longer be printing.

I would assume those copies on Amazon are used copies that booksellers offer via Amazon. Though I don’t have a definitive answer to that issue.

Obviously there have been some problems in this journey. Can you tell us what some of the struggles have been along the way?

Janice Dick

Award-winning author Janice Dick

Learning on so many levels. I continue to learn the craft of writing, and have confidence that my skills are gradually improving. I use those skills to re-edit my previously published works.

Aside from that, there is the issue of cover design. I am not a visual artist in even the broadest sense of the term, so I had to look for an expert. I tried a free design-it-yourself site, but the outcome was so-so, and we know covers sell books.

Then I tried a site called Fiverr, which worked for my publishing logo (not essential, but something I wanted), but not so great for cover design. Some writers love it. I rated the designer 3 stars out of 5, and he messaged me that I had mistakenly not given him 5 stars and I should go back and fix that! Doesn’t seem right, in my opinion.

I am excited to say that I found a real designer I can afford who has not only skills and experience, but is known to me and lives relatively nearby. In a nutshell, this was a miracle. The Lord apparently wants me to have an acceptable cover, so He stepped in to assign me a visual artist.

If you are a Christian author, make sure to pray about your work, because God cares, and miracles do happen. I think He often takes pity on my feeble efforts, but I’m okay with that.

I haven’t reached the formatting stage yet, but that’s next. Right now I’m concentrating on editing. I love that part, and receive excellent suggestions from my local writing group, as well as from a writer friend with amazing insight and the willingness to offer honest critique. What I’m really saying is that I can’t at this point afford a professional editor. I know comments will be coming about that, but it’s the place I’m in financially.

Another area that I’m realizing the great importance of is marketing. I’m an introvert. I just want to write the stories. But when an author goes indie, marketing is part of the package.

To encourage others of you on this journey, there are many books—and good ones—about marketing your own books. Many are free to download, and others are relatively inexpensive. Just search online.
Right now my focus is on learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Amazon uses certain algorithms, which are apparently beyond the grasp of mere mortals, to sell books. No one really knows how these work, but we keep trying to understand/guess at it. Categorizing our books correctly is key. We want to tap into popular categories that readers are searching, but we also want to tweak our categorization so our books are not lost in a broad and widely populated category.

What have been some of the blessings along the way in this journey?

I think being vulnerable has been a blessing. I can identify with others who are on the indie journey. I can’t tell them the full story because it isn’t finished yet, but I am sharing my journey on my blog as it progresses. So many people have helped me, and I want to help others too, in whatever capacity I’m able. I’ve made a lot of great connections through this experiment.

What advice would you give someone considering independent publishing?

Read about it, research, ask for help from people who have done it/are doing it. My greatest encouragement came at a recent writing conference. I participated in a workshop on indie publishing presented by a 79-year-old gentleman. He said if he could do it—and he and his wife regularly self-publish excellent books—then anyone can do it. I believe you, Bryan Norford.

Are there resources (e.g. websites, books, etc.) you found to be helpful that you can share with our readers?

I belong to a Facebook group called Christian Indie Authors that is very helpful. Writers at all levels in the journey post their questions, answers, problems, solutions. They are willing to help someone who’s not as far along on the path.

As I stated above, there are tons of books available to give direction. Most of them are e-books, so they can be immediately downloaded and put to use. I will list a few: [links are to Amazon.ca; titles also available via Amazon.com]

Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn (Free, includes video links.)
Indie Publishing Handbook by Heather Day Gilbert (Free, short.)
Self-Publishing Bootcamp Guide for Authors by Carla King (thorough, complete)
Self-Publishing Attack! The 5 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws for Creating Steady Income Publishing Your Own Books by James Scott Bell (only a buck or so, depending on where you live)

I actually have a list of about 50 e-books in areas referring to writing, publishing, and marketing. They are easily available.

Join groups, attend conferences and workshops, pay attention to email listserves that offer deals from time to time.

Readers, God bless as you consider and pursue independent publishing. You can do it.

Thanks for those great resources. I know Joanna Penn has been very successful with indie publishing and also has a blog. Another person I learned a great deal from concerning indie publishing is Joel Friedlander and his blog, The Book Designer.

I realize indie publishing isn’t for everyone, but it is an option well worth researching. Thank you, Janice, for sharing your journey with us.

Have you considered indie publishing? What helped you make your decision? Leave your comments below.


Janice L. Dick is an award-winning author of four historical fiction books, as well as many book reviews, inspirational writings, short stories, interviews and blogs. She lives with her husband on a farm on the Canadian prairies, where she continues to write under the tagline: Tansy & Thistle Press—faith, fiction, forum.

Connect with Janice at her website: www.janicedick.com
On social media via Facebook and Linked In

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I love a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to improve, to avoid pitfalls from the past, to review and make new plans.

This past year (2015) I’ve poured a lot of my time and energy into writing weekly blogs on my website in an attempt to connect and gradually grow a following. Writing blogs was never something I thought I’d pursue. I’m a fiction writer. But surprise, surprise! I love it.

I’ve created four columns a month, one every Tuesday (and a random blog on each fifth Tuesday). The regular crafting of a meaningful bit of communication has proven an excellent discipline as well as an opportunity to practice my writing skills and become more comfortable with my voice and purpose.

Looking Back

Looking Back


As I look back, the blogs have been fun and challenging. You know how it goes, you always learn more by preparing than by partaking. According to comments, these blogs have been beneficial to readers as well.


NOTE: If you appreciate a blog or other online article, let the writer know. Leave a brief comment, or if you’re set up to do so, tweet or share on various social media. It means a lot to the writer and can expand their readership. We need to help each other on this journey.

Looking forward

Looking forward

Looking ahead, I’m tweaking my column themes for freshness and variety in this new year. I’ve had to evaluate my use of time in order that the blogs don’t take over all my writing time, leaving nothing for my novels.

Speaking of which, I have three novels going out of print, so I need to decide how to re-release them. Then there’s the sequel edit languishing in my WIP folder, waiting for attention, and the contemporary cozy still longing for readers.

Looking back is essential. As a historical author, I do this all the time. But looking ahead is also important as it keeps us on track. Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

I wish for each of you a time to re-evaluate your 2015 writing path, and to formulate plans to reach your goals for 2016. God’s blessings to you as you move forward with confidence.

“He who called you is faithful, who also will do it” I Thess. 5:24 (NKJV).

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