Responding to That Niggle

I joined my husband at the table with six others,
thinking I wouldn’t have much to contribute as they began to plan our church
association’s western region conference. Our district superintendant revealed
details about the main speaker, venue and other things that had already fallen
into place. Then the group began to discuss workshops. These are, typically,
focused on topics pertinent to pastors and lay leaders in the church.
That’s when I felt that little niggle – offer a
writing workshop. I pushed the thought away. I knew the attendees at the
conference would be a group of highly qualified, highly educated people, mostly
pastors. What could I possibly teach them? I reasoned.
But the niggle wouldn’t go away. So finally, in a
soft voice I asked, “Do you think anyone would be interested in a workshop on
writing their testimony?” Our superintendant’s eyebrows rose a bit and his
words surprised me. “Good idea,” he said. Then he grinned. “And do you know
someone who could teach it?” I smiled back and volunteered. As I prepared I
wondered who, if any, would show up.
The majority of the conference was over by the time
the workshop was scheduled and I was very much aware that God had been at work.
The preaching and teaching had been excellent and the general mood was upbeat. I
had facilitated a session for pastor’s wives that morning that had gone very
well. So it was with a lightened spirit that I made my way to the room where
the workshop was to be done. But my heart sank as I stepped into the room.
One man sat in a corner with his head in his hands,
obviously praying. I hesitated. Did I have the wrong room? The man raised his
head, smiled and stood to introduce himself. Franco’s English was halting. As
we waited for others I hoped would join us, I asked where he was from and
discovered he had been in the country for only a couple of years. I was about
to ask him why he wanted to take this workshop when two women arrived. The four
of us sat down and I prayed for our time together.
As I taught, my three students began to scribble
notes. Now and then one of them would ask a question. The ninety minutes flew
by. At the end of the time they gathered around my small book table, each choosing
a purchase and each of them thanking me over and over again for the teaching.
Franco’s face beamed. “Now I can do this,” he said. “Now
I can write to my friends and my church back home.” 
The younger of the two
women nodded. “I know God has been nudging me to write,” she said, but with little
kids it’s hard to find time. This has shown me that I can do it. It’s just what
I needed.”
“I’ve only ever written things for my children,” the
older woman explained. As I encouraged her to reach for a wider audience, the
light in her eyes told me she would.
As I packed up the remainder of my books I was
smiling. Such a small class. Such wonderful potential for God to do mighty
things through them. I thanked the Lord, over and over again.
“Who dares despise the day of small things…?” (Zechariah
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta
Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She
was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel,
One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been
endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia’s
second novel, A Tumbled Stone has just been short-listed in the contemporary
fiction category of The
Word Awards
Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for
writers can be downloaded here.
Visit Marcia’s website

Baby Boomer Jude Urbanski Launches New Career

has written nearly all her life in some fashion, but only with retirement a few
years ago, has she been able to indulge her passion. Since then, Jude has
produced a non-fiction book (in both print and eBook format), magazine and
newspaper articles, and two inspirational romance novels in eBook format. She
has been a columnist for four years with Maximum
magazine and currently has her third novel with a publisher for review.
Jude, you’ve published a
co-authored non-fiction book, short stories and articles. How long did it take
you to get a full-length fiction contract?
2005, I scoured long and hard for a publisher of the true story my daughter and
I had written about our family’s journey through her traumatic brain injury.
The way I hooked that publisher surprised, to say the least. I had called
because they had left the submission guidelines off their web site. One thing
lead to another and the publisher asked for a proposal! The book was published
in 2006.
I began
to write fiction after that first book, but did not receive a contract until
January, 2011. A lot of rejections filled that time. It was a time of honing my
craft, taking classes, going to conferences. And rewriting. And rewriting.
Was there a specific ‘what if’
moment to spark this story?
The Chronicles of Chanute
focuses on spinning tragedy into triumph, which is an evergreen and universal
phenomenon, I believe. The stories start in the post-Vietnam era, which will
always remain in my memory for several reasons. The other ‘what if’ moment
relates to the fact my mother wrote sweet, love stories in the 1930s with this
same setting (that ‘center of the universe’ in Tennessee where we both were
born). So it was fun to take off from this vantage point, too.
Do you have a full or part time
day job? If so, how do you balance your writing time with family and work?
Ane, I’m
“retired” but nearly as busy as when I worked, just don’t get paid!  One would think it would be a cinch
compared to young motherhood and, while it isn’t as all-consuming, a balancing
act is still required. I volunteer at church, in the community, still do an
occasional day of paid work, and have a huge family, including a good husband,
to love and cherish. All of which takes considerable time.
I write
usually in the mornings and whenever Conrad, my husband, is gone! Sometimes I
just quit and run those ‘errands’ with him.
Did anything unusual or funny
happen while researching or writing this book?
Not so
much unusual or funny, but I sure enjoyed visiting the setting in Tennessee and
meeting and befriending folks. I even lapsed into southern dialect at times! On
one visit, we tried to reach “Bald Rock” (a mountain in the story), but became so
concerned about our car getting stuck we abandoned the adventure.
Are you a plotter, a pantster,
or somewhere in between?
started out as a plotter and an outliner. I don’t have the oomph or daring to
be a pure pantster, so accept I am somewhere in between. My characters
sometimes take over and give me word
upon word, which is pure joy for a writer. Once in a while, I must place them
back on the page where they belong and let them know I am the author.
Have you discovered some secret
that has helped your process for writing?
Ane, would that I had! I’d certainly share, but my notion is this is different
for each of us. The music I play, the little rubber frog (FROG=forever relying
on God) I keep close by, the candle I burn and the pin-covered baseball hat I
wear all help, but none are magic.
said, relationships with other writers help tremendously in our solitary world.
What are your thoughts on
critique partners? 
best writing tools in our toolbox. The partnerships take time to develop, but
are worth the effort. I’ve also found it best to critique with writers of like
Do you ever pound your computer over
writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
figuratively! I let things ‘stew’ and do something else for a while. Or use
someone for a brainstorming session.
What’s the most difficult part
of writing for you?
I’d say
creating conflict takes me the most time to thoroughly develop. I’m a pacifist
kind of gal (hangover from the 60s maybe) and I have a hard time taking my
beautiful characters through hardship. I also write women’s fiction, combined
with inspirational romance, where the journey traveled becomes a slower-moving conflict.
What’s your strength in writing?
contests entries, I’ve been told ‘voice’ and character development are
strengths. I feel that honing our craft is an ongoing process and all areas can
always be strengthened.
Did this book give you any
problems? If not, how did you avoid them?
first two novels have been eBooks, but will be in print next year. Marketing
has been more challenging than with a print book. Not everyone, especially
older readers, is on board with an electronic reader or even a computer. It has
taken more creativity, but has also been fun to be part of the cutting edge of
electronic publishing. Through Kindlegraph, eBooks can also be autographed.
Where do you write: In a cave, a
coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
In a
condo! We have a great room and this is where I write. At one end of our big,
dining table. I have an extra book table to my side, holding my most important
items. Everyone knows all the action happens in a great room and sometimes that
is distracting. The magical feature though is I look out patio doors at a
beautiful and secluded yard where woodland creatures, flowers, and tall cedars
speak to me.
When I
really need a break or want to exercise, I take the nearby ‘river walk’ for a
time of regrouping.
What’s the best writing advice
you’ve heard?
We not
only write, we must rewrite.
Do you have any parting words of
because you want to and know being published doesn’t necessarily validate you
as a writer. Know it takes discipline and perseverance to accomplish goals.
 Nurtured in Purple, Book Two in The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, continues the now-married love story of Seth Orbin and Kate Davidson of Joy Restored, Book One, but nemesis’ Willard Wittenberg and Elizabeth Koger come center stage still pursuing personal vendettas against Seth and Kate. 

Seth again faces potential loss of wife and child with Kate’s life-threatening pregnancy complication, while Willard maneuvers to ruin Seth’s business. Willard and Elizabeth, once lovers, engage and marry, but her flame for Seth has never died. Married life proves ragged. Late-blooming love comes to Ninville Cornelius and Margie Craig and new characters of Ruby Moody, alcoholic wife of a deceased Vietnam vet, and her small son Bobo are introduced. 

Can Seth and Kate, modeling God’s grace and forgiveness, bring hope and light to Willard and Elizabeth and Ruby and Bobo, all so needy of God’s redeeming love?

Who Likes Bad Reviews???

Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories that feature those comes naturally to her. She has been writing contemporary Christian romance for more than a decade. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, released in November by Love Inspired. Her second novel, Lakeside Family, releases this month. Happily married for over twenty years, Lisa and her husband have two young adult sons. When she isn’t writing or caring for children in her in-home childcare business, Lisa enjoys family time, romantic comedies, good books, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. Visit her at to learn more about her writing.

NR: Leave a comment for Lisa and be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of her book. (U.S. residents only, please)

Bad Reviews Can Help You to Become a Better Writer
One star.
I read the
reviewer’s words that expressed her displeasure after reading Lakeside Family. My breath caught in my
throat as my heart thumped against my ribs. Heat crawled across my cheekbones. How
could she write such things? Didn’t she realize the struggle and tears that
went into this story?
Of course she
didn’t. She read the words on the page and wrote a well thought out review
citing examples from the novel to prove her points. Despite the one star, I
appreciated her feedback.
After I pondered her
words a while, I considered how I could learn from it to create more likeable
characters from the beginning. But, I also had to consider this character’s
journey throughout the story. She carried a heavy load and needed to go through
her own emotional journey to hear truth so she could learn to trust.
Authors risk
public feedback the moment their books are made available to the public. Of
course we want our readers to love our stories and our characters. But you know
what? We won’t be able to please everyone. We simply need to write our novels
to the best of our abilities and know we are offering our finest work. As
authors learn more in the craft, they write better books.  
When we do get
those tough reviews, we need to consider the source. Is the reviewer someone
who reads a lot of books, reads a variety of genres and expresses her opinion
clearly? Reviewers who like a book, but give it a lower score based on genre
frustrate me. Reading the back cover copy gives the reader a general idea if
the novel is Christian or secular.  
After reading the
reviews, ask yourself if there’s some teachable moment threaded in the
reviewer’s words. Is more than one reviewer saying something similar? Talk
these concerns over with your agent and editor. Is this a weak area in your
writing? Should you strive to change that particular component?
Finally, believe
in yourself and your abilities. You can’t allow every review to shake your
confidence. Otherwise you will be too paralyzed to write something new. When
your novels are released, simply remember you did your best, your editor loved
the story to have offered a contract and you won’t able to please everyone.
Married 23 years to her real life hero, Lisa Jordan knows a thing or two
about romance. She and her husband have two college-aged sons and will be
facing an empty nest soon. By day, Lisa is an early childhood educator, and by
night, she is a contemporary romance novelist with Love Inspired. Lakeside
Reunion, her debut novel, is a 2012 Carol Award Finalist. Lakeside Family, her
second novel, releases in August 2012. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner
of Books & Such Agency. In her free time (ha!), Lisa enjoys good books,
chick flicks, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. To learn
more about Lisa, visit her website at
is celebrating the release of Lakeside Family with a month-long
party of giveaways, including Coffee Lovers and Tea Lovers baskets. For more
details and to enter the gift basket giveaways, leave a comment on:


The one man she never wanted to see again is
the only who can save her daughter’s life.

In the space of a minute, Nick
Brennan learns he has a nine-year-old daughter— and that she desperately needs
his help. All this time, his high school sweetheart, single mother Josie
Peretti, thought he knew about their child. And that he just didn’t care. About
the ill little girl—or Josie, the woman he’s never forgotten. But Nick made a
long-ago promise never to forsake his family the way his father did. A promise
he vows to make good on now… if only Josie will bless him with a second chance.

Think Before You Read ~ Steve Laube

Steve Laube, a literary agent and president of The Steve Laube Agency, has been in the book industry for over 31 years, first as a
bookstore manager where he was awarded the National Store of the Year by
CBA. He then spent over a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was
named the Editor of the Year in 2002. He later became an agent and has
represented over 700 new books and was named Agent of the Year by ACFW.
His office is in Phoenix, Arizona.

Think Before You Read 
by Steve Laube

I collect books. I graze through them like I’m at an all-you-can-eat
buffet. I sample this tidbit and that. Eventually I get enough to eat or
have found the right morsel to consume until it is finished.
It helps make me an eclectic sort. But there are days, even weeks,
where I must discipline myself to become immersed in extraordinary
writing. It is there where the soul can be fed and nourished.

I came across a quote from the great Charles Bridges, a well respected pastor in the Church of England whose Exposition of Psalm 119 (published
1827) is a masterpiece. A couple years later he wrote a book directed
at those in the ministry. But I thought it applicable to everyone who
reads. Especially in our modern era of content consumption without

Ardent minds wish, and seem almost to
expect, to gain all at once. There is here, as in religion, “a zeal not
according to knowledge.”— There is too great haste in decision, and too
little time for weighing, for storing, or for wisely working out the
treasure. Hence arises that most injurious habit of skimming over books,
rather than perusing them. The mind has only hovered upon the surface,
and gained but a confused remembrance of passing matter, and an
acquaintance with first principles far too imperfect for practical
utility. The ore of knowledge is purchased in the lump, but never
separated, or applied to important objects.

Some again need discretion in the direction of their study. They study
books more than themselves. They lose themselves in the multiplicity of
books; and find to their cost, that in reading as well as “making books
there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Bishop
Wilkins observes, “There is as much art and benefit in the right choice
of such books, with which we should be most familiar, as there is in the
election of other friends or acquaintances, with whom we may most
profitably converse.” No man can read everything; nor would our real
store be increased by the capacity to do so. The digestive powers would
be overloaded for want of time to act, and uncontrolled confusion would
reign within. It is far more easy to furnish our library than our

May you be inspired to think about what you are reading and why you are reading it.