Saturday, October 19, 2013


Fall fascinates me. The intrigue of trees dressed in their green summer duds changing into clothes of multi-colored glory sparks my creativity.

I think this is a sassafras tree..

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, fall finally made an appearance in Texas. My hubby and I found fall first, though, when we traveled to Eureka Springs, Ark. on Oct. 10. Such beauty ...

"How far until the highway?" Charles would ask.

I would pick up the map, then lay it down again. "I can't check now, I'm looking at trees."

Charles laughs.

"Look at that one," I say.


"Oh, and lookee, All along there, the red is brilliant."
Overlooking Eureka Spring and Crescent Hotel

We cruise on the Belle of the Ozarks, a 75 minute excursion along the shoreline of Beaver Lake. Our guide gives us the names of many of the trees that captivate us.

Our guide took our windblown picture on the boat.

 In early October, the black gum trees turn dark red, some almost purple. Sassafras trees don orange foliage. Hickory trees prefer yellow leaves. Sumac lines the shoreline and many of the roads with small red bushes. Virginia Creeper winds branches of both green and even brown, dead trees with scarlet.

"But, watch out for the red cover," our guide cautions us. "Poison ivy also decorates trees with red vines of three leaf clusters, while Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves."

As a writer, blogger, Christian, and all around curious individual, I look for a lesson in everything.

Trees are in many stages of turning colors. Some were totally yellow or orange with no green left. Some were half and half, or covered with three or four colors. Many trees retained their luscious greenery with the exception of one branch of orange, or red.

How like that we are in our Christian walk. Many of us are well into the process. Our minds and hearts turn naturally to God in most circumstances. Some of us call on God as the last resort. New Christians may ask Jesus to come into their hearts and start their Christian walk, while still clinging mostly to their old life out of habit.

Do we more mature Christians offer understanding, guidance, and a little patience to those who've only started to travel the path?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It Only Took 5 Years?

Learning has come full circle for me. I guess I'm slow, but, as the cliché goes, I'm sure.

Five years ago, I wrote a manuscript with this tagline:

She’s addicted to overeating.

      He’s compelled to control her.

      But only God has the power to provide




At the ACFW conference in 2008, I pitched this story to an agent and a publisher. Their responses were helpful, but the takeaway was that it wasn't ready for prime time.

I pitched it as an inspirational romance.

"What's your main character's goal?" the publisher asked.

"To overcome her compulsive overeating and prove she isn't insane like her dad."

"Then, it's not a romance, it's a women's fiction."
PROBLEN NO. 1 - wrong genre

"We only publish romance."
PROBLEM NO. 2 - wrong publisher

I pitch it to the agent.

"What's the length?" he asked.

"60,000 words."

"Too short for women's fiction."
PROBLEMS NO. 3 - wrong length

The agent read my ten pages, and gave good feedback. I'll always be grateful for that.
He said, "Either, change the goal to hero and heroine finding love and publish it as a romance, or add 20,000 more words, and keep the same goal."

I prayed and made a decision.

Going through the entire work another several times, I added more drama, fleshed out scenes better, and took scenes from flashbacks to active time. Much better. Then I deleted unnecessary words. I was left with:
66, 000 words

In my inexperience, to add 14,000 more words, I needed another whole subplot, so I gave a fourth character three POV chapters. Now, I had it.
a little over 80,000 words

I pitched it several times after that without success, so I laid it aside.

In summer, 2012, 4RV Publishing released my debut novel. Then, in Dec., 2012, Pen-L Publishing released my devotion book for overeaters. I decided that would team up nicely with my fictional heroine who struggles with overeating, so I pitched it to Pen-L and started the process of rewriting the old story.

Thanks to five years of online courses, reading books, going to ACFW Conference, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Conference, and OWFI conference, I stored up a wealth of writing helps. During this period, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I read many books in my slow-reader style. In September, 2013, I attended the Immersion with Margie Lawson which improved my skill at putting the reader into the story and revving up the emotional impact.

I rewrote all fifty chapters. By the time I finished, the manuscript was 96,000 words.

PROBLEM NO. 3 repeated - wrong length
Only this time, it's too long.

I prayed and made a decision.

With my five years of studying, now I realize that I need to delete the extra POV chapters for the secondary character, and rewrite what happens in the hero's POV.

So, what did I learn in 5 years?

Go full circle. I don't require more characters.

SOLUTION TO ALL PROBLEMS - deepen the emotion in your story

Saturday, October 5, 2013

GEYSERS (and what they teach me)

Are you tired of hearing about my trip to Yellowstone National Park this summer? That sight was beautiful, awe-inspiring, and taught me many lessons. We spent 4 days viewing the park. By that time, we were geysered out. No, for you grammar gals, that's not a real word, but that was how we felt.

Near Yellowstone Lake, an example of fumaroles.
Much of Yellowstone sits within the confines of an ancient exploded crater from volcanic eruption.

The four basic types of thermal features present in the park are geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots.

Ten thousand thermal features are within the park, more than anywhere in the world. Only four other places have any of these; New Zealand, Indonesia, Siberia, and Chile.

Mudpot near Old Faithful

Steam vents (of all kinds)  are cracks in the surface of the ground through which pressurized steam from below escapes to the surface, oftentimes with a hissing sound.

Some give a strong smell of sulphur.  Charles's nose wrinkled at this. Since I have little sense of smell, this didn't bother me.

Crown geyser
One thing that surprised me was that there are five or more geysers that erupt steam at regular, documented times. One of those is the crown geyser. We snapped this photo when the eruption was just beginning. It can be counted on about every 90 minutes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Isn't God's world phenomenal?

The geyser walk scared the daylights out of me. Near Old Faithful where can be found a huge concentration of geysers and mudpots, we strolled a wood-plank broad-walk across miles of geysers. Some periodic, some constant eruptions bubbled on either side. There are no handrails. My overactive imagination built up worries about what happens if you trip and fall in those geysers. Most of them are in excess of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Scary indeed. Praise God, we didn't fall.

Mammoth Hot springs is the home of most of the hot springs. They come in layers and look like white snow. Totally different, but equally interesting to visit. Though we strolled another walkway, the fear wasn't as real because there's no bubbling.
Of course, my pictures of geysers in Yellowstone Park wouldn't be complete without the most famous one, Old Faithful. This one erupts ever 40-90 minutes and attracts visitors from all over the world. We viewed the eruption twice. Awesome!

Now, for the lesson I learned in touring geysers and other thermal features?

Hell is real.
Hell is at the center of the earth.
God is far more powerful than I can imagine or begin to envision

I welcome corrections, suggestions, or observations from my viewers. Have you traveled to Yellowstone? What was your take-away? Did you learn anything from my simple notes?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Interview with Donna Clark Goodrich

Today, my Writing with God's Hope blog welcomes author, proofreader, editor, speaker Donna Clark Goodrich. I met Donna online through the Christian Writers Fellowship International. I ordered and read her book about keeping up with a writer's income tax liability. Realizing I knew little about her, I asked her to visit with us today.
1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Jackson, Michigan and moved to Kansas City when I was 20 to take a job as secretary to the book editor at the Nazarene Publishing House. Met my husband, who was a student at Nazarene Theological Seminary, when I typed his term paper. We got engaged 3 weeks after we met and have been married for 53 years. He pastored 1 year in Michigan, then we moved back to Jackson for 3 years, coming to Arizona in 1969 because of his health. We have 1 son and 2 daughters, one is married to a minister and they live in Cushing, Oklahoma, with our 2 granddaughters. My husband has been on disability since his heart attack at the age of 48, and now has 12 different diseases he is dealing with.

  2.  Sounds like God has led you through a lot. Tell us a little about your writing journey.  

 I've always loved to write. Wrote my first 2 poems at the age of 9--one for Mother's Day and one for Veteran's Day (our pastor put it in the church bulletin). Sold my first poem at 14 (for $1.40) and my first short story to our church S.S. paper at 18 (for $12). After I began work at the publishing house and got to know a lot of the editors, I started selling more. Sold my first book in 1971--a puzzle book, 3 devotional books in 1972, then it took off after that. Most have been devotional books, 2 cookbooks, a biography, 2 secular how-to books with John Wiley & Sons, self-help books, and compiled and edited 3 anthologies.
3. You've been writing for a long time. I probably have viewers who, like me, are saying, "I'd like to read the poems, or see the cookbook."  Your writing encompasses varied subjects. Did you ever feel like giving up?  And how did you press through this?

The one depressing time I remember was when I broke my wrist and had a cast on for 4 months. I thought, "Now I have time to write," sent out dozens of things, sat back, and waited for responses. They came; 12 rejections in one day. I threw them on the floor and told my husband, "I quit, I'm not writing anymore." And it seemed God spoke to me, "I just want you to use this time to get close to Me." I have so many things I still want to write, I don't think I'll ever really quit.

 4.  Tell us about your latest book.
I'd like to tell about my two latest ones. For years I wanted something to offer to people who called and said, "I want to be a writer. How do I get started?" So I took all the material I've been teaching in workshops over the years and put it in book form. It came out 2 years ago under the title: A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers. I also brought out a second, similar student edition with assignments throughout....The second book The Freedom of Letting Go came about after it took me 11 years to let go of my mother after she died. When I was finally to do that, I realized it wasn't just letting go of her; it was the whole principle of letting go of the past. The book covers such things as: letting go of grief, success, failure, material things, children, your youth, people who have hurt you, etc., and then ends with "The Land Beyond Letting Go." I also speak on this subject at different churches.

5.  How do you feel this book will help readers?
The writing book will help beginning writers get started, and encourage advanced writers to keep going. There are also chapters on income taxes for writers, Microsoft Word hints, collaborating with other writers, etc. ... The Letting Go book will help people "forget those things which are behind and press forward."
.    6. What other writing-related careers will we find on your resume?
 I teach my own one- and two-day workshops across the U.S. (just need a location and a registrar), teach at other conferences, and I also proofread and edit manuscripts for writers and publishers.
7.     If your writing resembled a song, what would that song be?
"For all that You've done I will thank You, for all that You're going to do. For all that You've promised and all that You are is all that has carried me through. Jesus, I thank You."  The songwriter is Dennis Jernigan.
8.     Anything more you'd like to add?
 The following quotation changed my life. Up to that time I had sold 4 books and over 200 manuscripts, but writing was just a hobby for me. Then I heard Harold Ivan Smith say, "We are called to write and I feel we will be held responsible at the Judgment for the people we could have helped but didn't because we didn't write what God laid on our hearts to write." That took writing out of the hobby category for me and made it a calling. I feel I'm as called to write as a preacher is called to preach.

     9. I will remember that quote. So inspirational How can readers find you?
My web site is:  and I write a blog for writers every Monday morning at  I'll send it automatically via email to anyone who requests it. Email me at: It includes a personal update, a Thought for the Day, a Laugh for the Day, and Writer's Hints (including answering questions sent in).
Wow, Donna, I've learned so much. I never knew you worked for the Nazarene Publishing House. I was raised in a Nazarene church and have published short stories in Standard, so that publisher is close to my heart.  Thanks for stopping by and answering my questions.
After talking with Donna, I ordered both of these books. Since I teach a weight loss class, I know I'll use the principles of The Freedom of Letting Go there. I'm more than halfway through reading A Step in the Write Direction. Watch for my review on that book on October 6 on  Three other writers and I take turns reviewing books, especially books on the craft of writing. We also view websites, newsletters, conferences, and some fiction books, anything that helps writers.
Thank you, Donna, for visiting with us today. I'm eager to delve into the other book. Reader, if you have further questions or comments for Donna, or for me, leave a comment. Also notice on the side of this page where you can sign up as a follower for Writing with God's Hope blog. Every Saturday, I post. I write devotions, author interviews, weight loss tips, and sometimes, plain fun stuff.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sneak Peek at my Sequel

This week, 4RV Publishing and I signed a contract for a sequel to my inspirational YA, Victoria and the Ghost. We're looking at a release date in May or June, 2014.

For those who have read the first book, you'll remember mean girl, Shelley, who's country born and bred. The sequel tells her story.

                                       A Ghost for Shelley

A guilt-ridden country girl, forced to move to Dallas, confronts betrayal, arrest, and a loss of faith but meets a jet-set jock with a heart for God, and a ghost with a message just for her.

Guilt lassoes country girl, SHELLEY HALVERSON, reminding her of the snide remarks, gossip, and deceit from her past. If she could hurt herself, she might forget.

The only one who seems to care is COLSON CONNELLY, but who can trust him? He’s popular, rich, handsome, and everything she's not.

Thank you, 4RV. Looking forward to getting out this story for teens and adults.

Watch next year for the release date.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Recovering Food Addict

Twenty years ago I entered the room at 250 lbs to join a group the leader called Christian Weight Controllers. For the previous thirty years, I'd been on more diets and indulged in more binges than the many mosquitos that stormed me during a Texas summer.

My hope faltered.

My faith drooped.

The words I heard during that meeting filled me with guilt and drove me to the nearest convenience store for a package of Reese's candy treats. I decided to quit, but God nagged my conscience and nudged me with a glimmer of trust.

I attended the second meeting. A sweet, older lady named Sister Stack sat beside me. "I'm so glad you're here. I prayed for you this week," she said.

At that point, I knew that I must give up, quit fighting, and ask God to do it for me.

He did.

One of the things I did in the beginning was write three goals, three reasons I'd like to lose weight.

Top of Lower Falls (our goal)
Here was my three:
     1. Good health
     2. Increased self esteem
     3. Be able to climb mountains

Now, that last one might make you laugh, but here's my story. My husband and I love the mountains and go there nearly every year. When my mother was alive, we took her with our family. One trip was one of humiliation--mine.

My husband, three daughters, and 78-year-old mother, and I climbed a mountain. I took twice as long as anyone else and arrived with a racing heart, heavy breathing, and red face. My mother had no problems. I broke into tears and never wanted to try to climb a mountain again. Only, I really wanted to climb one. I longed to be that fit. I never lost that dream.

Today, I live my dream.  
Lower Falls at a distance

 I maintain a weight of 155 lbs and keep up activity every day. On our summer trip to Yellowstone National Park, my husband and I hiked to the lower falls of  the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  The trail, steep and rocky, led us 3/4 mile down to the top of the falls to outstanding scenery. Then, we climbed back up the 3/4 mile. Most of the climbers were much younger than us, but it felt good to stretch our abilities. Yes, I had to stop to catch my breath several times, but I made it and I was proud.

My motivation to make that hike showed up my true identity; that of a recovering food addict. I wanted to make the climb so I could eat more and not gain weight. We laughed about that, but, hey, it worked.

Do you have any experiences with recovering from food addiction or compulsive overeating?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

1/2 Price on Divine Dining

My book Divine Dining is featured today on Peg Phifer's blog. Read the devotion for today, Sept. 11 and note the opportunity to purchase the book for half price.

Check out:

Don't miss this chance. It's only through the month of Sept.