Monday, March 21, 2016


Where the Rubber Meets the Road.

Just a quick note. The developmental edits for In the Land of White Nights dropped into my email box today. This is a 100,000 word book and I have only ten days to complete the changes and get the manuscript back to my editor. 

Time to work.

If I don't get back here before March 31st please know I am not ignoring you. I will return ... and if all goes well it will be soon. But I have to work now. There is a deadline that cannot be breached. And I have to do whatever it takes to complete the work, to do my job. That means my manuscript and the contract between myself and my editor takes priority. 

That's how it is, when you're a writer. 

See you all soon.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, March 14, 2016

A WRITER'S LIFE - The Dreaded Synopsis

A synopsis. What is a synopsis?

I've heard more groans from writers about creating synopsis than any other topic. And today I received a request to help a fellow writer with a synopsis, so I'll do my best.

Bad news first. If you're going to write you can't avoid creating synopsis. They are mandatory. 

Why mandatory?

  • It is a tool, a succinct guide to help authors nail down a story. 
  • Helpful reference tool as we work.
  • Agents and publishers require a synopsis to provide a quick glimpse at the main components of a story.
  • Reveals weaknesses and strengths of a story line.
I like writing a synopsis. The process helps me find the heart of the tale I want to tell. Often when I set out I feel lost, but by the time I complete a synopsis I am anchored. I know why I'm writing the story, where it begins, where it's going and why. I cannot create a book until I've got a synopsis completed. It is like a photograph of my tale and without it I don't possess the nuggets of truth and texture of the story I hope to create.

Sometimes all I need is one page, but my personal synopsis can be as long a ten or fifteen pages (double spaced). It depends on the project and how complicated it is. When a publisher or agent requests a synopsis they will have a required page length - generally 2 - 5 pages. Make sure to follow their guidelines.

So, what is a synopsis? It is a compressed version of your story. Think about what you'd say if you only had a couple of minutes to explain what your book is about. What would you say? That's what you need to do when creating a synopsis, only with a bit of flair. 

Everyone has their own style and expectations about what a synopsis should look like. Here's what I hope to find when I sit down and read a synopsis. 
  • Begin at the beginning with a strong opening. Make sure to include your precipitating event (what launches the story) and the place of no return. On occasion, there are exceptions to this. For the first time in all my years of writing I've included backstory in the opening of my synopsis and got a thumbs up from my agent.  :-)
  • Include your main characters soon, and when first introducing them write their names in capital letters.
  • Don't skip the middle of your tale. Include major plot twists and turns. 
  • Write in third person, active voice.
  • Avoid cliche ideas and cliche catch phrases.
  • DO NOT leave an editor or agent guessing about the end of the story. They need to know so make sure to include the resolution.
  • Every story has a core, make sure it's clearly revealed.
  • Flair. I've read many synopsis that sound like a grocery list of story ideas. This is a turn off for me. I encourage you to create a flowing expose that reveals who your characters are, unveils the story and introduces your special writing style and voice. Make it sing.
  • Sell the story. Write in such a way that the reader will fall in love with this tale and can't wait read more. 
Keep in mind that a synopsis may be your only opportunity to introduce your story to an editor or agent. It's got to be your very best writing. (no pressure here)

Okay, that's some of the basics. I'm sure you have questions, so fire away. I'll do my best to answer them. And I'm sure I've missed some important points so please don't hesitate to share.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Make sure not to miss any posts - Become a member.

You can leave a comment or question here or contact me privately at or

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hanging On

While spending time with the Lord this morning I went to my devotional Jesus Calling. As I read I broke into tears. Here is what it said.

Save your best striving for seeking my face. I am constantly communicating with you. To find Me and hear My voice, you must seek Me above all else. Anything that you desire more than Me becomes an idol. When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciousness. Instead of single-mindedly pursuing some goal, talk with Me about it. Let the light of My presence shine on this pursuit so that you can see it from My perspective. If the goal fits into My plan for you, I will help you reach it. If it is contrary to My will for you, I will gradually change the desire of your heart. Seek Me first and foremost; then the rest of your life will fall into place, piece by piece. 

I'm sure the tears came because the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart. I went on to read the suggested scriptures and want to share one of them.

Psalm 37:23 - 24 says this, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. 

I'm overwhelmed by this kind of love. The God of the universe delights in every detail of my life. How can that be? I am forever stumbling and falling short. I let people down. I let myself down. And I let the Lord down. And yet scripture is clear - He loves me anyway. And He hangs on to me, saving me from myself.

So often I feel as if I'm striving for goals that I have set forth, not God. And when I recognize this I feel like a failure and a poor disciple. Do you ever feel like that?

We can be encouraged and confident because God will direct us, in spite of our own desires. He will change our heart and we can trust Him ... always, to show us the best way.

So, dear friends. Take heart. Seek God first. He will care for you.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, March 07, 2016


When I received the following letter this is the visual I got.

Donna has a lot going on in her creative mind. Way to go, Donna!

Donna Mork Reed sent me the following letter and I'm posting it with her permission. I love the energy in this letter.

Since you asked ...

Okay, for nanowrimo this year I did write a Christian fiction. I'm just starting the edit part. How do you find someone to look at your work to decide whether it is publishable. I'm a librarian so cost is a factor. Should I edit the heck out of it and do a self publish and hope someone likes it enough to pick it up? Last year I submitted to Guideposts and awaited my rejection letter ... and they wanted to publish my story! (it's now in The Joy's of Christmas 2015!!)

I was shocked. Then I thought maybe I do have some talent. So then I joined a local group late in the year and entered the final contest they hold (a picture prompt story contest) ... and I won 2nd place! So now I'm writing every spare moment. I wrote a picture book (about Frogs in the Library, based on a slightly exaggerated true story) and I've been sending it in to various agents and publishers. And I have an idea for a series of picture books about a Truck Driving Dog (actually the human drives, the dog rides, but the story is from his point of view). I have another idea for another Christian fiction and a sci fi and etc. I also write poetry. I'm not good with the whole cover letter or query letter or whatever you want to call it, so I'd love if you could address that on your blog sometime, how to write a killer query. And whether querying an agent is better than querying a publisher, or how do you find an agent etc. etc. See I'm full of questions and this is just me as I run out the door for church this morning. I'm sure there are/will be more questions. This is all for now. Thanks!

Donna, thank you for contacting me. Congratulations on your successes. You are doing so much right, and I love how you think - you're in nearly unrestrained creative mode. Not all writers have a lot of ideas flying around at one time, but some do. I've been writing many years and I still have way more ideas than I'll ever complete in my lifetime.

There are a lot of good questions here, but I'll only address one today. 

Right up front you ask, 

  • How do you find someone to look at your work?
  This is a good question and there isn't one answer. But I have a few suggestions, one you mentioned. You've got to begin with your very best writing, which means you must do a lot of editing ... go through your manuscript again and again. I once read that James Michener worked through his novels seventeen times before he felt confident that he'd done his best work. If you've read a Michener novel you know that is a mountain of work. We don't want to edit the life out of a story, but we've got to refine the work, tighten the writing, find powerful, unusual images and use uncommon similes and metaphors. I love the book, Word Painting written by Rebecca McClanahan. If you don't have this book, get it.
  Something else you need to do is attend writing conferences. Mingle with people in the business, get to know them. And while you're at a conference schedule appointments with editors and agents. Face to face time is valuable. If you meet with people who are looking for good writing your chances of your amazing work being discovered is much better..
  Do an online search of agents and find those who are looking for the kind of writing you do. Sometimes you might have a better chance of landing an agent if they are just getting off the ground, but remember you want someone who knows what they are doing so choose wisely. Ask those who might know what they do know. When you've found an agency submit your fabulous work while being careful to follow the guidelines to the letter. If you don't submit in the format they request they won't think you are serious.

Okay, that's all I have time for tonight. I will definitely be back, and I'll be watching for your questions and comments. We can help one another along this journey. Let's do it. 

You can contact me privately on my contact page,, or at my email address, which is Make sure to put Writer's Life in the subject line.

Grace and peace to you from God,


To make sure not to miss any posts become a member.

Sunday, March 06, 2016


I've been writing since the early 1990's and one of my favorite things to do as a writer is to mentor other writers. I've been doing it since my first series released way back in 1994. It's so much fun!

I'm going to be at the OCW Summer Conference again this summer where I look forward to mentoring several participating writers. I can't wait for those four incredible days in August, the 15th through the 18th. I hope you'll join us. For information go to

It struck me ... why wait? Why not begin now?

I'm not sure just what this is going to look like, but I invite you writers to contact me here on this page or privately. Bring me your questions, your frustrations, your need for encouragement. I want to help. I'll even take a look at snippets of your work and offer my suggestions. I won't have all the answers, but I will do my best to find them. And I'd love to  hear from some of you with suggestions of your own. We can hep one another.

Being a writer is not easy. The pay is lousy, the hours long with stressful, looming deadlines. But we can't stop.
Creating stories, just like creating any work of art, fulfills a deep need we can't ignore. And although creating a book or a poem or an article is truly hard work it is also beautiful and fun and yes that cliche word ... fulfilling. 

You can post a question here or send it to me privately via the contact button or you can reach me at

I will post some of the questions and answers here on the page. And if you would like your name to be kept confidential I can do that.

This should be fun. And I hope beneficial to us all. So, let's jump in and write, gripe, and smite a few foes.

Grace and peace to you from God,