Friday, September 28, 2012

Dialogue Isn't Just Talking

Here is my diagnosis for making dialogue dynamic:

D Different Goals
The best dialogue comes when two characters desire
different goals from the conversation. This increases the

I Interview your characters
Find out how they would answer certain questions even if
the questions aren’t posed in your manuscript. This
deepens your knowledge of a character’s reaction.

A Action
Fiction and non-fiction are similar to stage plays.
Dialogue is more than words. We need gestures, body
language, even moments of silence to set the stage.

L Listen to your characters talk
Each character should have a distinctive manner
so readers recognize the speech without putting the
name to the line of talk. Educated/use slang? Pet
names? Recurrent phrases?

O Out loud reading
Prose and poetry have meter. When you read
your work out loud, does it have rhythm, cadence,
and energy? Is it missing a word or is it three words
too long? You can only tell by reading it out loud.

G Go along with the story
Dialogue should fit your story-does it show tension
when applicable? Does it fit the mood-teasing & light
or dark and heavy? The shorter the piece, the more
important to inject a sense of time and place.

U Use of dialogue
Dialogue only has three uses.
1. Move the story along.
2. Intensify characterization
3. Both
If none of this apply, take out the dialogue.

E Eliminate words
Dialogue should be concise. Eliminating words that
we’ve slaved over and think are beautiful is hard,
but sometimes necessary to strengthen.
One part of speech to eliminate almost totally is
Adverbs—like almost totally.
Beats or tags? Which is best?
Beats – gestures/body language
Tags - he said
Sometimes using neither is best.

Summary advice to helping your dialogue:
1. Read every day from your favorite writers- both in your
chosen genre and in other genres.
2. Periodically read or reread a writing craft book or take an online
course. Go to our group blog for further helps:
3. Write something every day even if you delete and restart.

Remember the letters that spell out DIALOGUE to strengthen the talking in you sotry.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

WIN A FREE BOOK - get excerpts

Go to

Comment now through Oct. 3. On Oct.4, we'll draw one name from the comments. Winner receives a free copy of Victoria and the Ghost.

On that same blog, you'll find an excerpt from the book to give you a taste.

I also have part of one of the devotions coming up in a devotion book for compulsive overeaters. See what you think. Let me know.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I must be the only one who returned from ACFW conference with no pictures. I left my camera at home, crazy, untech person that I am. Though I didn't get my picture with some of my favorite authors and publishers, I cherish every memory from those four days.

Thank you to Margaret Daley, Brandolyn Collins and the entire team who made this conference happen. God guided every word and action. I came away with a better knowledge of what lies ahead of me.

I received requests for my new romance. Yeah!

Encouragement came through Fay Lamb, Laura Holland/Stolmeier, Linda Yezak, Tara Johnson, Karen Gaus and far more wonderful people than I can list.

Rubbing shoulders with the greats of Christian fiction does nothing but spur on my own efforts to write the words God gives me.

Again, a big thank-you to God who placed an unknown woman in the prayer room when I needed a hug from God.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Lesson I Learned at ACFW so far

Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Now, half way through ACFW conference, the main take-away for me has been that Jesus gave us the best marketing strategy. The verse above sums up Jesus' advice.

It's been a bitter wake-up call for me. It's really not all about me. Imagine that. With trembling hands, I erupted in tears. I left the praise and worship and ran for the prayer room to pour out my heart to a Lord who forever stands waiting for His children to notice Him and ask His forgiveness.

One sweet lady waited. "Are you allright?"

"I'm fine," I told her.

"Could you use a hug?"

I nodded.

With the lady's arms wrapped around me in Jesus' stead, He forgave and charged me to go and be His servant.

When my first book released, I knew I was now my officer in charge of marketing. I hawked the book as if I were a used car salesman or one from a cut-rate furniture store. Every class, every song, every speaker has denounced my methods. Our keynote speaker, Michael Hyatt, said to receive one follower, we must help twenty.

Lord, give me a servant's heart, and guide me to whome I might be of assistance.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm off to ACFW. What an exciting place to be for a Christian writer. I'm thankful it's in my back yard (250 miles away) in Dallas, Texas. This conference is a biggie. People come from all over the world to network and learn. Editors and agents come looking for new clients. Authors, both old and new, attend for continuing education in the writing craft and find recognition for their stories.

I love reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There's nothing like the feeling of "talking" with someone online for months or years and finally seeing that friend as a real-life person.

Despite all these good things, the best comes from communing with the Lord in a new and fresh manner. The praise and worship of hundreds of writers who call on the name of Christ, though from different denominations and homelands, must be a prelude to heaven. A prayer room stands ready for us to take a break and pray about situations or conflicts that arise. (We're human, after all.) I go searching for God's will and find Him ready to meet and guide me through the next year.

Four days of God and writers. I can hardely wait. Lord, send me to those to whom I can minister or encourage, and that will be enough.

Watch for further posts about activities, workshops, and comrades.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Salute to America

On this the eleventh anniversary of the bombing on 9/11, I wish to salute my country.

In America, I can go to the church of my choice and praise God in a manner I like without worrying that an army will break down the doors and set fire to the sanctuary.

I can criticize the policies of my president without fear of being jailed.

I have the freedom to plan my life, to write what I like, to speak as I wish, and do as I want as long as I don't hurt others.

I can vote and participate in the determination of my leaders.

I am free to pursue my dream, and in America, they can still come true.

Praise God for the idea and reality of America. May her flag wave for another hundred years over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I send this as a tribute to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and as a message of gratitude to those who fight today around the world for my liberty.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jim Callan tells us Why We Need A Critique Partner

I wish to introduce James R. Callas, the author of Sweet Adelines and Father Frank mysteries. I "met" Jim on the online loop for American Christian Fiction Writers. Thank you, Jim for visiting us today on my Writing with Hope blog and for instructing us on the wisdom of selecting a critique partner.

Why do I need a critique partner?

The answer is basically the same as one would give to, “Why do I need an editor?”

The answer is simple. We cannot see our own mistakes.

There are two reasons for this. One, we may not know we’re making a mistake. Unless we are very experienced in writing in the specific area of our current work, there are things we may not know or understand. For instance, if I write a mystery, there will be certain police or medical procedures I don’t know about. Some I will research. Others I don’t understand that I need to.

There may be basic accepted practices of writing I don’t know. As an example, I might not know how to handle internalization. Do I use quotes, italics, first or third person, present or past tense, attribution?

The worse aspect of this is you may not know you don’t know. You do what you think is correct. Checking on what is accepted never enters your mind.

The second reason we can’t see our own mistakes is that our mind knows what we intend, and if our fingers don’t accomplish this, our mind will. I can write a sentence and leave out an important word. But when I read that sentence, my mind will automatically supply the missing word. I am not even aware that a word is missing.

A good critique partner can help on both of those. Ideally, she’ll know the area in which you are weak. If not, perhaps she may question your choice and cause you to do more checking. And when she reads the sentence in which you left out a word, her mind will not supply it. She will immediately see that you have left out a word.

The same thing is true of certain spelling errors. A spellchecker won’t catch many spelling problems. If you put down “your” when you need “you’re,” the spellchecker won’t catch it but your critique partner will. You type “there” when you mean “their”—no help from spellchecker. But the dependable critique partner will circle it in red.

There are two points I must make before I close. First, you need a good critique partner. You are not looking for someone to pat you on the back and say, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever read.” You need one who is knowledgeable in writing, particularly in your area. You need one who will catch the mistakes and tell you what they think you need to do to improve the writing. The second point is, you must be willing to listen objectively. I’m not saying you must follow all suggestions. You must consider all suggestions and then implement those that make sense to you, that fit your style. Remember, the partner is not criticizing you, rather trying to help you improve your writing.

So select a critique partner carefully. Work closely with her. And both of you can become better writers.

That's good advice. I treasure my own critique partners. I couldn't do without them. Jim, tell us about your latest release. I love mysteries.

Cleansed by Fire, by James R. Callan

Churches are burning and a man is murdered, plunging a small Texas town into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. But the disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone—even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town’s residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out into alcohol and drugs who attacks the priest with a knife?

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist.

Father Frank’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the local drug scene and he soon discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life?
In paperback and Kindle editions on at:

Jim, would you tell my readers more about yourself and where they can find you online?

James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing. He went to graduate school in mathematics to support a family and mathematics became a thirty-year detour from writing. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Data Processing Management Association. He has been listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science, and Two Thousand Notable Americans.

But writing was his first love. He has published a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and picked up several awards along the way. Cleansed by Fire, 2012, is the first of the Father Frank mysteries. Murder a Cappella, a Sweet Adelines Mystery, was released in April by Wayside Press. Callan wrote this mystery with one of his daughters, Diane Bailey, a well published YA author.

Callan lives with his wife in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta. They have four grown children and six grand children. A Sweet Adelines mystery. Book Trailer at: A Father Frank mystery. Book Trailer at:

Thank you for being my guest today. I know my readers will enjoy making your acquaintance and checking out your latest novel. I know I look forward to it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Best Tips for Permanent Weight Loss

After years of overeating and suffering with an overweight body, I lost weight and have maintained the loss for 19 years. Here's the 5 most important tips that I've utilized.

1. Start when you can. Eight o'clock on Thursday evening is a perfect new beginning time if that's when you realize your need to change. I no longer have to wait until Monday morning. "Now, is the time of salvation," God says. Now is the time to start eating better.

2. Move it or Lose it. Even if I'm struggling and eating too much food, I need to push myself to do some activity. I need to move my body. That helps my attitude and revs up my metabolism to melt pounds.

3. Pick your fav. Activity should not be measured only in trips to the gym or laps around the field. One stone can hit two birds by cleaning your house or mowing your yard (actiivty and job completed). Pick what you like to do. I was on the school drill team in junior high and high school, but then went years without dancing because it's usually associated with bars or drinking. I found a line dancing class where I made friends and learned to love something that was great exercise. Find what works for you.

4. Is it worth it? Ask this question before you plan what to eat. A friend of mine would rather not have a baked potato if it isn't topped with butter. I like plain baked potatoes, so that's what I choose, so that I can have a larger steak. I like lean cuts of meat best, so that's all I buy, so I can indulge in pasta or rice as sides. I might choose grilled fish and steamed broccoli, so that I can indulge in a slice of cheesecake. No plan is a one-size-fits-all. The main thing is that it works for you.

5. Most Important Every morning, ask God to take over your choices, your life, and your will. Don't let a day go by without communing with Him and reading His Word. Also, read inspirational books to improve your motivation.