Show, Don't Preach

Some writers think they have to put a salvation scene in every book they write. What they don’t realize is that making their books too similar can make the scene a cliché instead of an emotional turning point for the character.

Good guys have to seem real to the reader or the novel gets abandoned.

If the protagonist finds someone who needs God, she doesn’t necessarily preach to them. She might show God’s love without words. God speaks through actions too.

I’ve written more on the best kind of evangelism at my Seek God With Me blog. Check it out and see if you agree with me.


I know a lot of people have a pile of books they intend to read, their To Be Read pile (TBR).

My TBR pile has interesting books stacked, ready and waiting. A book in my pile has to describe a time and place so vividly it takes me into another world. It has to introduce me to characters I want to know. Aside from being vivid and appealing, it also has to be well-written. I won’t read it if there are too many pages of hard-to-follow narratives or hard-to-believe plots.

As I read, I listen to the sound of the words in my mind. If sentences are awkward or grouped so that words become difficult to pronounce, I lose interest in the book. So many similar words in a sentence sounds silly.

For example, look at genius, ingenious, genuine, and disingenuous.

What’s the difference between Genius and Ingenious?

Ingenious means clever, imaginative, or inventive and usually refers to an object. A genius is a person with extraordinary intellectual abilities. So a genius can write an ingenious plot.

How about the difference between Disingenuous or Genuine?

Disingenuous means lying about being genuine. Genuine means sincere.

How genuine was the genesis of the genius? The disingenuous genius lied about his ingenious genesis.

See what I mean? That was a mouthful.


In order to give something away, you have to have something.

This is a lesson I had to teach my daughter when she was learning about double-digit subtraction. “You can’t take something away from nothing” is a universal truth that applies to more than just math. You can’t give financially, spiritually, physically, or professionally if you don’t have something to begin with.

If you have no singing or song-writing skills, you can’t send a song to a major label for a recording contract. If you have no cows, you can’t give your family hamburgers or even milk from your backyard.

And if you have no conflict in your story, you won’t be able to give away your novels.

Conflict is an adhesive.

If you have enough conflict in your story, you’ll be able to give your characters plenty of ways to make sure the reader sticks with the story.

Conflict is an electrical outlet.

If you have enough conflict in your story, your readers will be energized in the flow of the story as they watch your characters overcome all obstacles.

Conflict is a Sherpa.

If you have enough conflict in your story, it will lead your readers to the highest mountaintop and back down to safety.

Not putting enough conflict in your novel is like trying to borrow from zero. Your reader will find out that there’s nothing there.

Good Works

Good works are waiting for us. What kind of good works? The works we were designed to do.

God created you to excel in the good works which challenge your unique skills. Cherish your uniqueness.

I believe that God creates some people to be writers and some to be math teachers and some to be Olympic swimmers. Some of us can enjoy math, writing, and swimming, but we’ll excel at those tasks which were designed specifically for us.

For example, let’s say that I spend all my time learning to knit, but God didn’t create me to be a knitter. I may learn to knit, but I might miss out on the greater task prepared in advance for me.

What are some of the tasks you were designed to do? Think about it with me at my Seek God With Me blog.

Got Bad Guys?

Who can be an antagonist?

An antagonist is anyone or anything that stands in the way of the protagonist achieving his/her goal.

It can be the loan officer at the bank who won’t give you a loan, the bank robber pointing a gun at the loan officer, the bank robber’s mother-in-law whom he blames for his insanity, the serial killer who is after the mother-in-law, the serial killer’s boss who has just figured out what his employee does after hours, or the hurricane which has knocked out the electricity and cell towers in the boss’s community so he can’t call the police for help.

Anyone or anything can be an antagonist. The one requirement is that an antagonist deter, overwhelm, or hinder the hero or heroine in some way.

Let’s say a man and a woman finally admit over the phone to each other that they’re head-over-heels in love, and they agree to meet behind Mr. MacGregor’s garden, which is midway between their homes. But as soon as they get two hundred and fifty yards from each other, a tornado touches down, ripping up the farmland between them. They can see each other and long to hold each other, but there’s a tornado keeping them apart. Before the bunny clothes start flying off the scarecrow, the man and woman each have to make their own plan of escape from the antagonist. (Okay, it’s not a deep story, but it illustrates how weather can be a character in a story.)

An antagonist can be something innocent like a pet cat or even little Billy from next door. If you’ve owned a pet cat (or a cat has owned you) or if you’ve been around an active little boy, you know that there are plenty of ways these characters can create havoc for the protagonist.

So here’s a “Hurray!” for antagonists. For without them, novelists wouldn’t have much of a story.

What I Learned From Tyra Banks

I watched a show I had recorded out of curiosity and kept my ears open for instructions I could apply to myself. I’m not a model, but the model competitions on TV show me that even beautiful girls struggle with confidence.

Tyra Banks hosts a model competition reality show that proves once again that no matter which industry you work in, there will always be challenges to overcome. If you have talent and work hard to improve yourself, you have a chance to succeed. And if you can keep your head on straight, you just might win.

Some of the girls received a lot of encouragement from the judges, and some received mostly instruction. The girls who could take the instruction and show improvement stayed in the competition. If they became hard to work with, they went home.

I like to learn from the mistakes of others. Since the correction isn’t aimed at me, I don’t have to get over any bad feelings that might come with it. I can internalize anything that fits me and make changes. If I’ll learn from my own challenges and practice using sound advice, I’ll do more than I ever thought I could.

Tyra said some things on the show that could be used outside the modeling industry. She makes me want to be fierce, show life and energy, be generous, take direction, and let who I am come out.

I’m a writer who wants so much to produce bestselling novels that I’m using tips from the modeling industry to improve my craft.

Really, it’s the same thing the writing instructors say; they just say it differently.

Becoming Accomplished

On my Seek God With Me blog, I’ve shared about the effect obedience has on our lives.

In John 14: 23-24, we read the words of Jesus. "If anyone loves me , he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Obedience is one of the ways we maintain our spiritual growth. It just makes sense that you will obey the wisdom of those you love most.

If you really know God, then you love Him. If you love Him, you’ll obey Him. If you obey Him, you’ll thrive in His presence and accomplish much.

Naming Characters

There are probably thousands of ways to come up with good names for characters in novels. I don’t have any problem coming up with names because the character looks a certain way and the name either fits or doesn’t. I’ve traded out characters’ names occasionally when I’ve given a character a name that was too close to another’s name.

In real life, your name could actually be George, and your son’s name could be George, and your other son’s name could be George, and your other… But not in a novel.

There are websites which offer random name-picking help. There are Baby-naming books. And Character-naming books. Some authors see interesting names in newspapers and take someone’s last name and pair it with that interesting first name. Or the other way around. Some authors put parts of their friends’ names on minor characters in their novels.

There are even lists of most-popular names of children born in a certain year.

Some name their characters by saying the name aloud to check if it sounds good. Say, “Randall Evan Williams, the third.” You immediately picture a certain type of character. Now say, “Toby and Estelle Hanks.” Totally different, right?

Working on the right name for a single character is important, but grouping the names together to see how they work in an ensemble cast is also very important. If you had Randall Williams and Toby Hanks in a scene together, you couldn’t call them by their last names or country music fans would be humming a Hank Williams tune before the scene was over.

This is one of the things I love about writing. Naming characters takes time, effort, and creativity, but it is so fun.

What Should You Write?

How funny! This quiz confirms what I already knew. I love to write romances. What do you write?

You Should Be a Romance Novelist

You see the world as it should be, and this goes double for all matters of the heart.

You can find the romance in any situation, and you would make a talented romance story writer...

And while you may be a traditional romantic, you're just as likely to be drawn to quirky or dark love stories.

As long as it deals with infatuation, heartbreak, and soulmates - you could write it.