Just Tell Me Why

A few years ago, my daughter and her friends were standing in their schoolyard across from a dollar store. They noticed a teenaged woman running out of the store with a big bag in each hand. As she hurried across the parking lot, several items from the bags spilled onto the ground. The young woman ignored them and kept going, to the road and across the street. When she reached my daughter and her friends, she stopped for a moment and blurted out that she’d been caught taking things from the dollar store and did anyone want any of the items. Thankfully, they knew enough to refuse and watched her as she rushed down the sidewalk and disappeared around a corner.

My daughter and the other kids decided they should do something, so they went across to the parking lot picking up all the items. They returned them to the store and explained what they had seen. The manager was grateful and thanked them profusely.

Later, as my daughter told me the story, she stopped at this point, looked thoughtful, and said, “I know what she did was wrong, but I actually felt really sorry for her.”

When I asked her why, she replied, “Because all the stuff she stole was for a baby.”


The entire story changed here, with the introduction of a plausible (and heart-wrenching) motivation for the crime. Clearly the teenager was a frightened new mom, desperately trying to provide for her child. Although her actions were undeniably wrong, it was difficult not to feel sympathy for her, as my daughter did.

The same thing happens with our characters when we write. Motivation for actions,  questionable or undeniably evil, can explain, if not necessarily excuse, those behaviours, thereby creating at least a tiny amount of sympathy for the character. And that sympathy is imperative in order to develop a multi-dimensional character that the reader can relate to, at least in some small way.

And maybe taking motivation into account can help to understand and empathize with not only the characters we are reading and writing about, but the people we encounter in our everyday lives as well. Something to consider, anyway.

Press on, my friends.

Press on,





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Judging a book by its Cover

My latest romantic suspense series, The Seven Trilogy, came out in 2015 and 2016. The books received great feedback, including a 4 ½ star, Top Pick rating from RT Reviews. They were finalists for several awards, including two Daphne du Maurier awards for excellence in suspense, and a Carol Award. The second book in the series won the Word Award for best inspirational suspense novel in Canada in 2016 and book three won a Cascade Award for best published contemporary fiction.
I was equally thrilled and mystified by what was happening with the books.
Thrilled by the great critical response, and mystified that the starred reviews and awards did not translate into sales. I conducted a poll recently in an effort to discover why. More than a hundred people responded, and about ninety percent told me what I had long suspected, that the problem was …

For complete post, go to https://wordservewatercooler.com/2018/06/04/judging-a-book-by-its-cover/

Press on, my friends.

Press on,



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Have We Met? Creating Characters Readers Will Feel They Know

Last semester at school, my daughter made friends with quite a few international students, including several from Mexico. So when one of them invited her to visit Mexico this past summer, my daughter was ecstatic. She had the time of her life, deepened her relationships with the friends she’d made here, and returned home already talking about her next trip.
A few days ago, an earthquake struck Mexico City, where her friends live. They texted her that day as they stood outside their school watching the walls crack and nearby buildings collapse.


She and I watched the news together, glued to scenes of rescue efforts. My daughter studied faces, searching through the throngs of people stumbling over debris as they searched for the missing. Had she passed by some of those collapsed buildings when she’d been in that city just a few weeks earlier? Quite possibly. Did she know any of the people walking by, streaked with dirt, hands scratched from digging through rubble, or shouting with joy when they were reunited with a loved one? She might. People she knew well, friends she loved, were impacted by this disaster. They were afraid, traumatized, comforting friends and strangers, tired, homeless, helping others. So she couldn’t tear her eyes from the screen. And because I knew their names, had heard their stories, had witnessed the love and friendship they shared with my daughter, neither could I …

Blogging today over at the WordServe Watercooler. Check out the rest of this post at https://wordservewatercooler.com/2017/10/03/have-we-met-creating-characters-your-readers-will-feel-they-know/

Press on, my friends. Press on,



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The God We Draw Our Readers To

“Your book really helped draw me closer to God.”

Are there any more thrilling words for a Christian author to hear? That is, after all, our ultimate goal, isn’t it? To point our readers to God?

That is certainly the main reason I write. Because God gives me the stories and I want to be obedient in writing them down to the best of my ability and to do what I can to get them into the hands of readers. Not for my glory, so they can know me better, but for His glory, so they can know Him better.

So yes, that feedback thrills me like no other. And it also terrifies me like no other…

Blogging today over at the WordServe Watercooler. Check out the rest of this post here: https://wordservewatercooler.com/2017/08/29/the-god-we-draw-our-readers-to/


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Seven Steps to Guaranteed Success as a Writer

Every author seems to have a different idea of what “success” in their field means to him or her. For some, selling at least five thousand (in Canada) or ten thousand (in the States) books, thereby qualifying them to claim the lofty title of “Bestselling Author” is the goal on which they set their sights. For others, maybe it’s a hundred thousand copies, or a million.

For some, it isn’t about the numbers, but about awards. But which award is the one that will make them feel as though they have finally arrived? Is it the Carol? The Christie? The Pulitzer? I’ve noticed several big-name authors who have won awards in the past entering the contests again, so maybe one award isn’t enough. What, then, is the magic number?

Or maybe it’s a certain amount of positive feedback, a sufficient number of glowing reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, recognition at conferences or even on the streets, enough followers on social media.

You see the problem. Success is a wildly ambiguous and deeply personal concept. Chasing that elusive label can be and, I suspect, is in most cases, a discouraging, disheartening, and depressing endeavour. The intended audience for our work can be mind-numbingly uncooperative when it comes to providing us with the accolades, reviews, purchases, and general awestrucked-ness in our presence that would finally push us up to that mountain peak we are continually scrambling to reach. So too, for that matter, can agents, publishers, editors, and judges of contests….


Blogging today over at the WordServe Watercooler. Check out the rest of this post at:https://wordservewatercooler.com/2017/06/27/seven-steps-to-guaranteed-success-as-a-writer/


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The Sacred Trust of Words

As I write this, the Manchester bombing occurred just two days ago and I am still struggling to comprehend the horror. Only twenty-four hours ago, parents still searched, frantic, for their missing daughters, not knowing if they were alive or dead.

Once again, as it so often does now, the world seems a darker place today. Fear and fury and an overwhelming helplessness hang so thick in the air, at times it is difficult to breathe. Can light ever hope to pierce such a thick darkness?

Genesis tells us that, in the beginning, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. What an impermeable darkness that must have seemed, with no sun or moon or stars to lift it. But then God spoke. Let there be light.

  light 6

And there was light…

I’m blogging today over at the International Christian Fiction Writers website. Check out the site and the rest of this post at: http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.ca/

Press on, my friends. Press on.


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The Power of Words

One of the things I love the most about being a writer is that I can make my characters say, do, and be anything I want them to. I have absolute control over every little thing that happens in my stories. The feeling of power is heady. A little too heady, sometimes. But once in a while something happens to bring my feet right back to the ground where they belong.

Recently I sought the advice of fellow authors on the type of poison a character in my book might use to taint a water supply. To me this was just an interesting storyline, an intriguing plot development. Then someone responded to ask me to please make sure I accurately depicted the depth of suffering such an action on the part of my character would cause to others. His brother had been poisoned and had died when he was young.

The idea of someone being poisoned wasn’t simply part of a story-line to him, it was real life. He had seen first-hand how the evil or horrifying actions we put into books as entertainment for our readers can, in reality, destroy lives and cause actual pain.

Any excitement I was feeling over incorporating this act into my story evaporated immediately. Suddenly this wasn’t just a plotline to me, either. Suffering had taken on a human face…

Blogging over at the Word Alive Press blog today. Check out the rest of this post and other great posts at: http://wordalivepress.ca/blog/The-Power-of-Words


Press on, my friends. Press on,






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