Entering Contests

We have entered our writing into contests and found the feedback very helpful. ACFW is hosting a contest and we would like to feature it today.


ACFW is a wonderful source of education, networking, and industry information, and offers another opportunity: its annual contest for unpublished writers. There are other non-ACFW contests during the year as well. Entering contests can be very helpful, and here are a few reasons why:  

1. If your critique partners have seen your work over and over, they may not catch details inadvertently lost during your repeated revisions. Contest judges are “fresh readers”, and have a better chance at catching problems.

2. Contests can help you identify weaknesses, set goals and monitor your improvement.  For example, if you score low on “point of view”, then study POV, revise, and strive for higher POV scores in your next contest. Setting smaller goals helps you see satisfying progress, even if your first sale seems far away.

3. Through entry preparation, you will learn professional presentation of your work.

4. If you final in a contest with an editor or agent as the final round judge, you are guaranteed a prompt read–much faster than if you’re part of a tall slush pile on someone’s desk! Click here to learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Lessons from the Promised Land~Cana


Jesus performed His first miracle in Cana. He attended a wedding in a hall built for such occasions. I got the privilege of seeing the remains of this hall.

During the celebration the host ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother, Mary, came and told Jesus that they had run out of wine. “So, why are you telling me?” was Jesus’ basic response. Mary knew her son and just told the servants to do whatever he said to do.


Jesus instructed the servants to fill the water pots with water. I used to have this picture of the servants filling little pitchers with water. This, however, is not at all what they filled. These were pots that were for ritual cleansing. They were large stone pots standing well over four feet high and too large for one man to lift.

There was one of these ancient pots at the site. I realized those poor servants must have made many trips from the well to fill just one of those pots. They knew what they had put into those massive stone containers, and it wasn’t wine.

How shocked they must have been when they dipped it out to the guests at the wedding and it had turned into the best wine available. Jesus’ first miracle was no small miracle. He turned that wedding into the best celebration ever.

Do you need a miracle in your life? Look to Jesus for your miracle, for with Him, nothing is impossible.

A diamond in the rough,


Lessons from the Promised Land~ Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel stands above the valley of Mediggo known also as the place where the battle of Armageddon is prophesied to happen. Some interesting things happened atop this mountain. The main event I’d like to write about today is what Elijah did here.


Much of Israel had fallen into idol worship and worshipped Baal instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so Elijah challenged four-hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to sacrifice to their god and pray for supernatural fire to fall from heaven to consume their sacrifice.

After they prayed, chanted and cut themselves throughout most of the day to inspire their god Baal to send fire, Elijah built his altar, put the sacrifice on the altar and had the whole thing doused with water. He then prayed to the living God to send fire and prove to the Israelites that He was the true and living God.

The Lord sent fire not just to consume the sacrifice, but it burned up the rocks that made the altar and licked up all the water. The Lord proved His existence to the nation of Israel that day.

I find it interesting that the Lord will come in the last days and prove His existence just below this mountain in the valley of Armageddon, but this time it will be to the entire world. We can be confident that the true and living God will show up in your circumstance today, if you don’t doubt Him.

A diamond in the Rough,


Lessons from the Promised Land~ Caesarea


We visited the seaport town of Caesarea. This town was mentioned many times in the New Testament. It is now just ruins, except for a partial rebuilt theater, but in New Testament times it was a thriving city.

It was here that the first gentiles became Christians when Cornelius received a vision to send for Peter in Joppa. It was also the town that Paul was taken to after his arrest in Jerusalem.


He was whisked away from Jerusalem during the middle of the night to save his life, since there was a plot to kill him on the way. Paul spent two years in prison in Caesarea while the leadership tried to figure out what to do with him. It was here that he made his appeal to Caesar.

Before all that happened, it was prophesied that Paul would be bound in chains in Jerusalem. His friends begged him not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul still felt that he was to go. Paul made the hard decision to follow what he felt led to do in spite of what had been prophesied.

Although Paul was never a free man again, it was his time in prison where much of the New Testament was written. Where would we all be today if Paul had not made that hard decision?

Paul reached more people down through the ages in prison, than he would have as a free man. Would we have the New Testament if he had continued preaching from town to town as he had been doing before his arrest? Is God asking you to do a hard thing? Follow Him. It will turn out for the best in the end.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Home Office Deductions

For those of you who are business owners and work from home, you may be able to claim a deduction on your taxes each year. Be sure to check with the IRS concerning this matter.

This article discusses a new tax change entrepreneurs might be interested in.

Most authors have a home office space for writing–or at least a little area for a table and computer. The IRS allows for home-office deductions for small businesses, and I have learned that this year there’s a new way to do your at-home business deductions. An article in the December issue of The Costco Connection highlights this new deduction method. Click here to learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

Lesson from the Promised Land Herod’s Aqueduct

Herod’s Aqueduct

King Herod was known for many things. He was a powerful man and someone people feared. He was known for building great edifices of stone, such as the Jewish temple and Masada.


One such structure we visited gave us an understanding of the power of this man. It was an aqueduct that crossed miles and miles of land transporting water from fresh sources.

Thousands of men did the backbreaking work, lifting millions of stones too heavy for a single man to carry. Why did they do it? They did it because this one man wanted it, and none dare stand in his way.

Yet, this powerful man’s greatest fear was the fear of losing his power. This fear dogged his every decision. It motivated his slaughter of innocent children in Bethlehem all because of an ancient prophecy that the King of the Jews would be born in the city.

He was blinded by his power. Thinking he had the power to thwart God’s plan he became a brutal insane leader whose life ended not long after.

When the plans we’ve made for our lives seems to go another direction, don’t fight it. Remember, the Lord has it in control. He knows what He’s doing and we will benefit by following His lead.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Organizational Ideas For Writers

We are always on the look-out for new ideas on organizing our writing and businesses. This article is very helpful. We hope you enjoy it.


I know, I know. You hear the word “audit” and you imagine that a root canal would be more fun, right?

Let me make the case for scheduling time to perform an internal audit of all your systems. This is my week to do it and I’m already well on my way. As some of you know, I’m a systems junkie. I love organization, productivity, and developing new ways to track information and, hopefully, to do my job more efficiently. Click here to learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Stealing Ideas?

What if someone steals your idea for your novel? That is an interesting question. Over at Books and Such, Rachelle Gardner, literary agent, discusses this topic.


Last week I wrote about two ways your work can be used without your permission: plagiarism and piracy. But questions have come up about another kind of problem that worries writers:

What if someone steals your idea, and writes a book on the same topic as you? Click here to learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Character Development

Action in a story can tell the reader more about the character and what that character is like. This helpful article provides tips for the writer.


In real life, it’s not what a person says that shows us who they are. It’s what they do. The content of a person’s character is revealed in action and behavior. Who a person says they are, or thinks they are, doesn’t necessarily reflect their true character.

In screenwriting, the challenge is to show a character in action, and have their actions reveal to the audience what kind of person they are—what’s important to them, what they want, what they love, and what they hate. You don’t want characters verbally telling each other (and the audience) who they are. We have to see it. Likewise, novelists need to allow their characters to show us who they are through their actions and behavior, rather than “tell” us who they are through narrative, interior monologue, or dialogue. Click here to learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

What Is An Orthoepist?

What is an orthoepist? That is an interesting word. Today’s featured post offers a great definition.



Charles Elster in his Big Book of Beastly Pronunciations submits reluctantly and ungraciously to the fact that a great many educated English speakers pronounce the “l” in almond:

With so many accepted pronunciations of the word, common sense dictates that the prudent orthoepist, like the circumspect politician, refrain from issuing a dictum and instead defer to regional and personal preference–in common parlance, go with the flow. Click here to learn more.


Kelly and Nancy