Research A Contemporary Novel

Have you ever wondered how to research a contemporary novel? Today’s featured post presents some great ideas for the writer. Hope you enjoy it.


A contemporary novel is set in the present, and yet I spend a great deal of time researching details of location, seasonal events, health issues, careers and more to bring reality to the novel. The last two books of the Sisters series revolves around firefighters, and I used the Interent to research the career, but knowing firsthand the details as well as mental and emotional stress isn’t answered there, so I discovered two firefighters from different states on FaceBook and they were intricate in my writing a novel based on reality. Here are tips on research for any novel. Click here to learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Lessons from the Promised Land – Believing Promises

Joseph’s Bones

I was privileged enough to spend a couple days in the West Bank. Although we were not allowed to enter the city because it was controlled by the Palestinians, we were able to peer down from the mountaintop into the city of Shechem.

Below us lay the ancient remains of the original town. Within those remains lie the bones of Joseph. Joseph, the son of Jacob who was sold into slavery by his brothers, then cast into prison.


Much could be said about this man, but the point I’m focusing on in this blog is that no matter how much the chips were down Joseph kept an unwavering faith in God. He believed God was working for good no matter what his present circumstances were.

Eventually, God elevated him to second in command of all Egypt, and he understood there was no reason to be bitter against his brothers for their betrayal because God allowed it for a higher purpose.

Put simply, Joseph was a man of faith. As Joseph grew near to death, he believed the promise that the Lord had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He knew someday the Jewish people would return to the land of promise.

Genesis 50:25 says Joseph made the sons of Israel promise to take his bones with them whenever that day came. Three to four hundred years later, as Moses led the children of Israel from Egypt, the bones of Joseph was carried with them.

After forty long years of wandering in the desert, the children of Israel entered the Promised Land and Joseph’s bones finally found their final resting place.

Rarely do our expectations for the future pan out as we planned, but take heart. Have faith in God. He is at work, and that is something you can hang your hat of faith upon.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

I went to the Starbucks near my house the other day. When it was my turn to pay, I was told that the person in front of me had paid my bill and said to tell me “May God Bless You”. Not even thinking I said, “Great, here’s for the next car. Tell them I say the same thing.”

I handed her some money. She smiled and rang it up.

I stopped by later that day to see if this pay it forward was still continuing, sure enough it had gone on all day and over 68 cars had paid for the person behind them all with the message of May God Bless You.

It’s funny how stories like this one don’t make the news or even the local paper, but touch us in a special way.


Lessons from the Promised Land – Tel Aviv

Can a nation be born in a day?

A study of Israeli history going back a mere one hundred years will tell you that God is still the miracle worker of the Old Testament. Ancient prophecy foretold that Israel would be reborn as a nation in one single day and yes, in 1948 Israel was voted into nationhood in a single day by the world community.

As I sat in Israel’s modest Independence Hall, not the grand halls of the U.S. but a converted house, I relived the prophecy fulfilling moment, and couldn’t help but see the hand of God. Moments after Israel became a nation, her enemies and neighbors vowed to push this fledgling nation into the sea.


Somehow, sixty-five years later she has overcome the odds. The day Israel became a nation she had an air force consisting of just two small planes but was immediately plunged into war. There is no other explanation for her continued existence other than a God who lives and who still works miracles.

Many are the stories where God has saved this nation against all odds. Take heart. Give your situation to God and He will work things out for you, too.

A Diamond in the Rough,



Creating Better Fiction

Today’s featured writing post has some interesting ideas. What do you think?


In an effort to draw a fictional narrative closer to reality, I wanted to drop the name of a real famous person into the periphery of my novel. So, I began making a list that first came to mind. Try it and see what you come up with.

Make a list of the greatest names that come to mind. Remember that power comes not only with position, but also by influence – I’ll help you. Jesus Christ, Apostle Paul, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart, Henry Ford, General McArthur, Mother Theresa, General Patton, George Washington, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, your 1st grade teacher, Albert Einstein, John Kennedy, Sally Ride. Keep going…it’s a thought provoking exercise. Memories that float to the surface include characteristics of each person and the environment in which you first learned about them. Click here to learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Special Kids for Special People

Special Kids for Special People

I read a story on Facebook the other day in which a family with a special needs child was eating at a restaurant. I don’t know if their child was disrupting others or not, but the waitress came over with a piece of paper telling them that their bill had been paid and that God only gives special children to special people.

I started to cry when I read that story because someone out there made a difference.  I have a special needs child and let me tell you, it’s a lot of work and going out to eat is hard. I love him to death, but it is tough some days and to hear about a story like that, really made me smile.


Lessons from the Promised Land – Joppa

The House of Simon the Tanner

The first Biblical site we went to in Israel was the house of Simon the Tanner located in modern day Jaffa, also known in scripture as Joppa. Many of you may be wondering what happened there.

Simon the Tanner opened his home to another man named Simon, Simon Peter. We find the story in Acts 10. The chapter begins by telling us about a Roman centurion called Cornelius who believed in the God of Israel.


Cornelius lived in Caesarea and saw a vision of an angel of God instructing him to dispatch men to Joppa to find Simon Peter. The angel also told him Peter was staying with Simon the Tanner in Joppa whose house was by the sea.

When the angel left him, Cornelius did what he had been told to do. The next day, while the dispatched men approached Joppa, Peter sat on the housetop waiting for dinner to be prepared.

Peter also had a vision. His vision was of a sheet full of unclean animals descending before him. A voice told him to kill and eat, but Peter refused because they were unclean. This happened three times. The second and third times the voice said to him. “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

After the third time the sheet full of animals was taken back up to heaven. While Peter sat reflecting on the meaning of this, the men arrived at the gate and called out asking if Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there.

The Spirit told Peter three men were looking for him, and to go downstairs and accompany them without any misgiving. Peter obeyed even though this went against Jewish law. Jews were not to associate with gentiles or stay in the same house.

Because of these two men’s obedience to God, Cornelius and people with him were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. This was the beginning of the gospel being proclaimed to the world and not just to the Jews.

Many of you may be hoping to adopt a child, but wondering if things will ever come together that will make it happen. In this story we see that God will bring together the correct people even if it takes giving two men visions to do so.

Have faith in God. If it’s in his will, He will bring all things together.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Angry With God?

Is it wrong to be angry with God?

So many times I hear the debate on whether it is alright to be angry with God when things don’t go the way we planned. Are we the first ones to get angry with God when we lose a child or don’t get pregnant? No, in fact if you look at Psalms in the Bible you will find a collection of prayers in which the writers show a variety of human emotions from anger to acceptance, happiness to despair, sadness to joy, and more.

God wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us and He knows us better than anyone, He created us.

Can we get mad at Him?

Sure, Jonah did when he didn’t agree with God’s plan, but God is patient with us, even when we don’t agree or understand His plans.


What’s Your Writing Style?

Do you write in a clutter-free space? Does your office area look like a tornado blew threw there? Whatever your style, it is important to keep the goal of a finished project in mind.

My office is in chaos – again. After finishing my course thesis on the parallels between Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground last spring, I spent a Saturday clearing the disarray of books, critical essays, notepads and Post-its with my jotted thoughts and references, my highlighted and dog-eared MLA Handbook and dictionary, half-empty water bottles, bags of kale chips and chocolate covered almonds, and uncapped pens and highlighters scattered on the desk and floor of my den. For weeks this project had consumed me as I worked to create an organized essay from a jumble of notes and fragmented ideas by the midnight deadline.

Within a month the clutter was back and has remained to this day, a manifestation of my perpetual scrambling to meet the ongoing deadlines for several guest blog spots, a newspaper column, my MFA thesis, PhD applications, and the Graduate Record Examination schedule. I’m familiar with the muddle of my surroundings and in my mind and am oddly calmed by it. Scribbles on scraps of paper, napkins, envelopes, receipts, sticky notes, and index cards are once again ubiquitous, tacked to my bulletin board and adhered to my computer monitors, reminding me to add a transition, description, or a bit of dialogue to some work-in-progress. Books, writing magazines, and drafts of my columns, stories, essays, and novel chapters, defaced with nearly illegible edits and suggestions (mine and others’), litter the floor in shambolic piles that seem incongruous with my reputed compulsion toward extreme tidiness. It appears this is how I create. Even without the looming deadlines, disorder is part of my process. Click here to read more.

Kelly and Nancy

Fog and Writing?


We wanted to share this insightful story with you.


My husband and I are long haul truckers and write in my down time. In our recent travels, we’ve encountered fog in many areas around the country. It’s not pleasant to drive through this heavy mist, because it obscures your vision. We can’t see the scenery or traffic ahead. Year after year, many are hurt in auto or truck accidents because they can’t see far enough ahead to see the dangers. So I slow down, turn on the fog lights, and pray. 

As I thought about the fog, I realized many walk around in a spiritual fog. They run through life at full speed oblivious to anything going on around them. Their vision is not clear, they can’t see ahead. Many times they never see road blocks ahead in time to stop. They drive over or around them, or make quick changes in direction causing someone else to crash. There may be times our quick maneuvers work out, but more often than not, it causes a crash in their life. I admit I’ve been in the fog many times, rushing along without a care in the world or only seeing a small distance, only to come to a screeching halt. I simply can’t see well enough to understand what’s truly happening. Click here to read the rest of this inspirational story.

Nancy and Kelly