First Drafts

by Katherine Reay, @Katherine_Reay

The First Draft…

It’s wonderful to be here today. As I write this, The Austen Escape is a couple months from release and I begin a new story. In fact, this very morning, I pulled out my colored pens, opened the file in Scrivener and started, in earnest.

The blank page, or the blank computer screen, is a daunting sight. It’s exciting because it is just that – blank. We can fill it with anything and that anything has the potential to be great. But that catches our breath too because it must be filled – and that it will require hundreds of hours and thousands of words.
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What’s on Your Bucket List?

by Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1

I started my bucket list when I was thirty-five. I wanted to write and eventually get published. If I had known it would take 33 years, would I have pursued my dream?

I think so, because I don’t think I had a choice. I may have been thirty-five when I realized I was born to write, but once I knew it, nothing could stop me. I think most writers are that way.

Some writers take even longer to realize it than I did. Often they think they’re too old to start a new career.

Is there an age limit to what we can do?

…Bear with me a minute—I’m thinking. Part of me wants to say NO! But then I think about how I used to climb trees, and while in my mind, I think I could still do it, I’m not sure I want to, unless there’s a bear chasing me.

Physically, we might get to a place in our lives where we can’t do what we once did, but there are so many other things we can do. One year at Christmas my mother learned to text. She was ninety. She had a Facebook page when she passed away at ninety-three. She always wanted to be challenged and so do I. That’s the key, I think. The desire to stretch ourselves.

I hear it now. But how would I start?

That’s the easy part. Be it writing a book or learning how to use a computer. Take a class. Did you know after age sixty, about 60% of accredited colleges offer a waiver for senior students? And at most colleges you can audit a class for free. Check it out here and here. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to learn the nuts and bolts of how to do it.

I believed God called me to write, and not just any old story, but suspense stories. Except I wasn’t having any luck with them. I was sixty-five when I went to my first writing retreat, Deep Thinkers taught by our own Susan May Warren. I had been writing for almost thirty years with success in writing short pieces but had not gotten any results from my novels. I was making the same mistakes over and over because I didn’t have anyone to tell me what I was doing wrong…or right.

But at the retreat I learned so much and continued to return each year for four years total. After the third year, I got an agent and a publisher and sold my first book. Shadows of the Past was published one week after I turned 69.

So, you can do it! But you need a desire as well as discipline to do what it takes to learn the craft of writing…and then, you’ll be ready when God opens the door.

I’ve completed one series—The Logan Point Series, written two Heartwarming books for Harlequin, and completed three books in my next series, Memphis Cold Case Novels. All since 2013. If I can do it, so can you!

By the way, Justice Buried, the second Memphis Cold Case novel releases tomorrow!


What’s on Your #BucketList? by @PTBradley1 on @NovelRocket #writing

Is writing on your bucket list?~ @PTBradley1 on @NovelRocket #writing

When do you decide to throw in the towel?~ @PTBradley1 on @NovelRocket #writing


Justice Buried

In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens. 

Color Your Writing with Emotion

by DiAnn Mills, @diannmills

Writers are always looking for ways to deepen their writing. That’s who we are and what we do.

We explore the psychology of our characters to add tension and conflict to our projects.

We twist our plots and add dimension to narrative and setting.

When writers use color to establish emotion, the reader is able to experience the actions and reactions on a higher level. Emotions become vivid, and symbolism weaves into the storyline.

Writers, take a look at the following colors and explanations then think about your current writing and how to make your projects more meaningful.

Red is a warm color that causes strong emotions. From warm and comforting to anger and hostility. Red can stimulate the appetite. Now think about your favorite restaurant. Think about these phrases: redneck, red-hot, red-handed, paint the town red or seeing red.

Blue carries a range of emotions from calmness to serenity. Many offices are painted blue because people are more productive in blue rooms. Blue can also mean sadness. Anyone enjoy the blues and a weeping saxophone? Blue Monday? Blue ribbon day. A recent magazine article stated that blue helps a dieter keep her weight in check.

Green symbolizes nature and growth. The color has a calming affect. It’s been proven that those who work in an office painted green have fewer stomach aches. It also can mean wealth, greed, and jealousy. In the 15th century, green represented fertility and wedding dresses were green. Think about that the next time you select a green M&M. What emotions do these spark in you? Green with envy. Greenhorn. A green thumb?

Yellow is often described as cheery and warm. It can also be a color of frustration. More tempers are lost in yellow rooms, and babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms. This is another color that can stimulate the appetite. But what about the coward who’s referred to as yellow? Or a yellow traffic light?

Purple is often associated with royalty, wealth, wisdom, and spirituality. Sometimes it symbolizes arrogance. Remember the book and movie, The Color Purple? The Purple Heart?

Brown is a natural color that invokes a down to earth feeling. However for a person who is isolated on a farm and feels imprisoned, the color brown may be depressing.

Pink is a romance color. It suggests love, femininity, calmness. Some consider it soothing. Are you in the pink? “The very pink of perfection.”

Orange mixes red and yellow to create a warm affect. It means excitement and enthusiasm. Orange is also associated with autumn, the end of the growing season and the entrance into winter.

White signifies purity and innocence. It can also mean spaciousness or a sterile environment. Remember the fairy tale Snow White?

means evil, power, death, or mourning. In the fashion world, it’s used to create a slimming affect, even sophistication. Consider these phrases: Black Death, blackout, black cat, black list, black market, black tie, black belt.

Gray is a mix of black and white, death and life. Gray clouds. Gray moods. What about a gray sea where fishermen brave the seas to provide for their families, but a twist of the weather can mean death?

Understanding color can add emotion and symbolism to your creative process. How can you apply color to your writing?


High Treason

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised – and none too happy – when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.

Kord and Monica must quickly put aside inter-agency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit – plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince – or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?

DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Find her on the web at

Saying No & Letting Go

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

My grandparents owned a dairy farm. When my siblings and I were younger, we’d play in the barn with our large extended family. My cousin, who was a year older and my closest friend at the time, used to convince me to follow her across the barn beams suspended above the hayloft.

We’d practice our gymnastics routines, even though neither of us had any training. As we stood above our adoring audience of barn cats, we’d extend our arms and put one foot in front of the other to make our way across the rough-cut beams. Despite our stupidity, God’s angels shrouded us in safety.

Balance was the key to moving forward without tumbling to the hay-scattered wooden floor about 30 feet below.

The same goes for a writer’s life.

The week I’d received “the call” in January 2011, a friend shared a quote that made me rethink my daily responsibilities, and it prompted me to make some changes in my life. I could hear God whispering He had something more in store for me, but my plate was so full already.

After releasing some additional responsibilities and clearing space on my plate, my agent called two days later with a contract offer for my debut novel.

Finding balance in our everyday lives can be a constant struggle, especially when we have many responsibilities such as family, work, church, and trying to have some sort of social calendar while striving to achieve our dreams.

When I juggled working full time with meeting writing deadlines, caring for my family, and making time for friends, two things had kept me somewhat sane—learning to say no and taking time for myself.

I’m a people pleaser. I say yes to a lot of things because, well, I want to make others happy. Plus, if I can use my abilities for others, that’s good, right? Not so much if I’m headed toward burnout.

Saying no can be a challenge, especially if you’re afraid of letting someone down or feel guilted into shouldering a new responsibility. But the thing is you need to ensure you’re not wearing yourself out. Saying no reduces your stress by releasing time-consuming responsibilities you may not enjoy. Besides, by saying no, you’re allowing someone else to be blessed by taking over that role. You don’t have to say no to everything, but say no to things that steal time away from pursuing your goals.

Before planes take off, flight attendants instruct passengers on safety features in the event of a crash. They instruct them to don the oxygen masks before helping others. The first time I heard that, I thought it was selfish until I realized we needed to make sure we were fit to take care of others.

The same goes with finding the balance in your life.

Before you can take care of others, you need to make sure you’re caring for yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating right and perhaps even exercise. Yes, I heard those groans. I’ve mumbled them on many occasions.

Also, no matter how full your calendar may be, you need to schedule in downtime to relax and refresh your spirit and creativity. If you’re on the go from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until you fall into bed at night, then you’re going to be too worn to care for yourself, let alone anyone else.

Learning to say no to obligations that will steal time away from pursuing your dreams and taking time for yourself may seen easier said than done at first, but once you put it into practice, you’ll be on your way to finding that balance to keep from falling off the beam.


Are you too busy for downtime? Lisa Jordan shares Saying No & Letting Go (Click to Tweet)

Struggling to find balance? Learn to say no. Lisa Jordan shares Saying No & Letting Go on NovelRocket (Click to Tweet)


Lakeside Romance

A Recipe for Romance 

Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at