Staging a Scene

In addition to my self-confessed chronic chronology challenges, which I’ve written about before, I find that as I write my first draft, I need to track whether I have the right people in the right place at the right time. Here are three quick questions I’ve learned to keep in mind during this process.

1. What do the characters need to see? Obviously, if I don’t have a good answer to that question, ix-nay on the scene entirely. Assuming I do have a good answer, when I finish writing the scene I read through to make sure the right characters are present or in some other manner acquire information or insight they need in order to play their next parts in the unfolding story. Learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Editing Skills

As writers, we are constantly learning new skills and honing old ones. This article is a good one for editing novels.

Adjectives receive a fair amount of discrimination from writing instructors. Sol Stein, author of Stein On Writing, has a great deal to say on the subject. In fact, he created a little writing math formula for adjectives: one plus one equals a half. Here’s his explanation: Learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

Author Ribbons?

A funny thing happened at conference this year. I noticed that some of the name tags had little ribbons on them that said “author.” Now, it’s a fiction writers conference, so I figured we were all “authors,” but since only some folks had the author ribbon, I also figured the ribbon signified something more than just “I sit around all day writing lies and Facebooking.” (What, that’s not what writers do? *slinks away and closes Google Chrome*)

I recognized the name of the person with the ribbon-she was a REAL author with lots of real books out, but I had never met her before, and assumed (as we all do) that she had no sweet clue who I was. So I said, “Ooh! Neat author ribbon! How do you get one of those?” To learn more, click here.

Nancy and Kelly

When Everything Goes Wrong

Lately, my writing journey has been derailed by Murphy. It’s bad enough when my muse takes a vacation. Eventually she returns, and it’s usually when I become self-disciplined and sit down in my computer chair to write-about ten o’clock at night. But I don’t always do that. For good reason.

In August, we decided to update the countertop and get new cabinet doors in our kitchen on the covered patio. The project was scheduled to be finished in September. Again, for good reason. The major events on my calendar for October looked something like this: To read the rest of this adventurous story, click here.

Nancy and Kelly

A Black Suit

As a consequence of writing several novels and posting a regular bog, I get the chance to speak about, you guessed it, writing. After a few speaking engagements I’ve developed a sense on how best to adapt my talk on writing to specific audiences. I begin with a short introduction and jump immediately into answering follow up questions from previous engagements. The most popular answer is to the question, “What are some interesting things that have happened as a result of being an author?” The following is the long answer to a short question; it involves a trip to NYC as a result of donating book proceeds to veterans.

Earlier this year I bought a black suit-it was the first suit I’d purchased in maybe two decades. I also bought a new white shirt, tie, and dress socks but stopped short of new shoes. I’m funny about shoes, one of those rare people that still get them resoled. The new suit, shirt, tie, and socks were for a special event to which Debbie and I had been invited-or so I thought. Learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

Writing Through Adversity

When Angie Arndt invited me to share about persevering in times of adversity I double-clutched. Persevere through hardship and danger? Seriously? And write at the same time? Oops – sounds like this blog’s name. Unfortunately, Angie’s invitation could not have been better timed.

I don’t like adversity unless I’m heaping it upon my characters. It’s not something I care to experience myself. I’d rather imagine how someone feels when difficulty strikes than write about it from a personal perspective. Read more.

Nancy and Kelly

A Reason For The Season

Luke 2:11-14

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas,

Kelly and Nancy

Christmas Fun

If you need a chuckle in this busy season, read this article.

Gather around in a circle with your friends and family. Share the Christmas cheer by telling some funny Christmas stories. Laughter is the best gift anyone can give. These are my favorites. These funny Christmas stories will warm your heart and may even make your stomach hurt from laughing. Making new memories is the best part of Christmas, and this collection of stories is a surefire way to do it. Create a few stories of your own this holiday season. Learn more.

Kelly and Nancy


Like many people, the Christmas season is my very favorite time of year. I love the music, the lights, and most of all remembering the Reason for this holiday season. Even though my life isn’t quite as hectic as it was when my children were little, I still find myself getting caught up in the flurry of Christmas preparations. In addition, now that I’m a writer I strive to continue a somewhat regular routine of writing during the holidays.

However, despite my good intentions and numerous to-do lists, there are many days during December that I don’t come close to my writing goal for that day. And I have a confession to make: Until recently, I’d silently scold myself and think negative thoughts, such as My kiddos are grown, so why can’t I accomplish more each day? Why do I think I can write? Of course, talking down to oneself isn’t good for creativity at all, not to mention self-esteem. Read more.

Nancy and Kelly

Where Do Authors Fit?

A few weeks ago, I asked my Facebook followers a simple question: If you could ask an editor anything, what would be? The responses, for the most part, reminded me that editors don’t often communicate much about their side of the desk. For instance, this one from author Kellie Coates Gilbert:

What is the single most critical question an author often fails to ask when considering partnering with a publishing house? Learn more.

Nancy and Kelly