The Perfect Ending

The Perfect Ending

By Dorothy Love

Is it just me, or do we spend an inordinate amount of time in workshops worrying about crafting the perfect opening? Of course openings are important–a reader or editor wants to be drawn into the story immediately. But, to leave a lasting impression, we should work just as hard at crafting the perfect ending. By “perfect ending” I don’t necessarily mean one in which everything is neatly resolved, every problem is solved, every wrong forgiven.  On the contrary; wrapping up everything too  neatly can result in the dreaded “pat” resolution.

What, then, is a perfect ending? To me, it’s one that leaves the reader closing the book with a deep sense of satisfaction, a sense of “rightness” about the outcome of the story. One that seems both believable and logical given what the author has told them about the story and the characters. A perfect ending gives the reader another way to think about what has transpired, a way to put the story into perspective.

As you are crafting your ending, decide upon a final image, or final thought you wish the reader to carry with them as they close your book. John LeCarre, the master of the spy thrillers, says to close with a spectacular image. In his book, The Tailor of Panama, it’s a huge fire. In Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, it’s the scene that slowly expands to emphasize the isolation of the main characters in a deserted wood.  My own preference is for some striking visual image, as opposed to philosophical musings. But much depends upon the overall tone and mood of the story.

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Motivation and Inspiration – Keep Plugging Along

Did you set goals or resolutions in January? How’s it going for you?

Well, if you are like most people, the answer is probably “not so great.” We are now on day 51 of 2015, and statistically, a good portion of folks aren’t sticking to whatever their goals were for the year – at least not as well as they were in January.

But I am not here to get you down about yourself. Those of you who know me are fully aware I am an optimist, and those of you who don’t now know that ;) . So how about some inspiration and motivation to keep you (or get you back) on track with your goals – whether they be spiritual, writing, or anything else. You CAN do it!

Let’s start with a bit of Scripture – shall we?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

And how about a few quotes?

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ - Muhammad Ali

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. ~Jacob A. Riis

What is your favorite motivational quote or scripture? Please share in the comments!

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In the Beginning was the Word

In the Beginning was the Word

By Lynda Lee Schab

Words have been around since the beginning of time. Christians trust the writer of Genesis when he claims that God spoke the world into existence.

The world became because God spoke a word.

As demonstrated when God created the world, spoken words are powerful. Yet, this is also true with the written word. Just as hearing a lecture or a sermon sometimes shape our views, thoughts, and opinions, books also have the ability to change the way we think. And books are able to affect not only our minds, but our hearts.

When the Bible was written, God’s words were put to paper. While God could have simply given us a list of rules and regulations, or an essay or commentary of sorts, He chose instead to speak to us through stories. Particularly through passionate and heart-felt accounts that move us, teach us, touch our emotions and, ultimately, change us.

In fact, the Bible is packed with stories about the issues of life. It is bursting with characters who are not perfect. They make mistakes, get into trouble, have errors in judgement. They drink too much, they commit adultery, lie, cheat, steal, and kill. They struggle with greed, gluttony, lust, pride, anger, and unforgiveness.

Although Christians believe the Bible to be true, almost all fiction deals with the same real human conditions or circumstances as those described in the Bible. And Christian fiction is no different. It offers exactly the same elements as general fiction: romance, humor, mystery, thrill, suspense, twists, and happy endings. The difference is that unlike general fiction, Christian fiction also includes underlying messages of forgiveness, grace, hope, and redemption. The redemption that comes only through a relationship with a Savior.

A good story is one that leaves you satisfied. And satisfaction is something that can be found between the pages of many books, Christian or non-Christian. But sometimes we need more than just a good story. We need a gentle reminder that even though, like the Bible characters, we are not perfect, we serve a God who is. A God who loves us despite our imperfections. A powerful God who spoke the world into existence with a word. A God who is passionate about speaking to us through His Word - the ultimate Christian story.


lyndaschabLYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards and has many articles and stories published in magazines and online publications. She is also a regular book reviewer for, but Lynda’s passion has always been fiction. Her novels, MIND OVER MADI and MADILY IN LOVE, are available in print and on Kindle. Lynda lives in Michigan with her two children. Learn more about Lynda on her website,

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Be HIS–A Valentine’s Devotional
By LauraLee Shaw

I’ll never forget receiving the candy hearts on Valentine’s Day when I was in middle school. You know, the ones that taste a little bit like Pepto-Bismol? My friends and I would tear our little bitty envelopes open to see which hearts someone put inside with the generic card. Reading into every phrase, we fantasized of that special someone spending tireless efforts to make sure he delivered the perfect message and emotion to each of us. It was dreamy.

It didn’t take me too many years to realize that the boys’ mamas probably just threw them in an envelope for them, OR worst case scenario, picked out the girl SHE wanted for him to like via pepto-heart-a-grams. So much for dreamy.

The reality of the analogy the Lord laid on my heart today was not so dreamy either. I realized that He has written His message on my heart. It is forever inscribed and perfectly perfect, which is a beautiful truth. But when others look at my heart, so often I have covered up His words with my own unintentional messages.

Sometimes my heart begs, “Be mine,” when it really should cry out, “Be His.” Often it shouts out, “Love me,” when God begs me to “Love them” or “Love Him” instead. The mixed messages my heart delivers to others can leave them with mixed feelings about the heart of God.

This is deep stuff, I know, but bear with me. Luke 6:45b says, “for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” It’s saying that the ‘stuff’ we stuff into our minds gets stored in the treasury of our hearts, and eventually it begins to flow out of the heart via tunnel of the mouth. Then it is spread to others, and “round and round it goes, where it stops?”

When I complain frequently, I have probably listened to a bunch of complaints. As I throw out a zinger in the name of humor, I realize I have maybe seen a few too many sit-coms. During those moments of pouring out flattery to others, could it be that I have enjoyed the empty, false praise that I have indeed received myself? What ‘line’ do others see displayed on the tablet of your life?

All the static this world has to offer us can cloud the message he has carved on our hearts:

Hebrews 8:10b
“I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Do you see His Valentine’s message for us? ***BE MINE*** Make HIM our True Love. Let’s not mix His message with overflow from the world’s waste. Instead, let’s spread His Word, the Word that He has written front and center in bold letters on our heart– the Word that we have fallen in love with so that we could keep from sin and love others God’s way.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded, friends. I know I do. The way we spend our time matters. The people we allow to rub off on us are important. The shows we watch and the websites we visit and the novels we read–it has an affect on us. Pray about it, allow the Lord to lead and guide you into the perfect balance of freedom and works. It is then, and only then that our hearts–the new ones He gave us when we became a Christian–will show the world that we are His.

Psalm 86:11
“Teach me YOUR way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your Truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

Copyright 2008 Laura L. Shaw

LauraLee Shaw: Daughter of the Almighty, wife of 22 yrs. to Brian, Mama bear & taxi driver to 3 stinkers, mentor, sister, friend, writer & speaker. I long to be authentic & share the Word of Truth in person and online.

I’ve been writing, leading worship, performing, directing and acting in front of audiences since childhood. God has recently called me to use the gifts He’s given me to speak to Christian women.

I like to mix my life experiences–the big, the small, the great & the ugly–with a bit of dramatic humor in order to show how the Lord has been up close and personal each step of the way.

Whether it’s parenting toddlers or teens, being a church volunteer, trying to make sense of the marriage thing, or overcoming tragedies or struggles–past or present, I hope to communicate God’s largeness through it all.

Article Source: WRITER

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Just for Fun: Those Sneaky Austrians

Do you struggle with with distraction when you are trying to write? I’m guessing it isn’t as extreme as this scenario I made up a few years ago for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge.

Those Sneaky Austrians

By Joanne Sher

12:54pm Well, today’s the day. My professor told me that I just needed to set some time aside and protect it, and my goal will be within reach.

So, I did. Three hours once a month, starting in about five minutes. The phone will be off the hook. Email, Facebook, Twitter, and my cell phone will be off limits. This time, the kids will have The Sound of Music and Jenny from down the street to keep them company.

One hundred and eighty minutes to sit in my recliner: computer on my lap and reference books (and snacks) to my left and right. Three glorious hours to let my muse take over and actually make some progress on my novel. Ten thousand eight hundred precious seconds of uninterrupted writing time. I can hardly wait. Better get started. Jenny has to leave at 4pm sharp.

1:10pm Remind me to close the door next time. Apparently, while I was making breakfast for the kids, Evan came in and…um…reorganized my stack of books. I’ve found about half of them so far, and the cover has only been torn off one (praise God it wasn’t a library book). Glad I hadn’t opened my can of root beer, though it appears my drink choice will still have to change. Better find the rest of these books before any more time is wasted.

1:45pm Well, I found my thesaurus: under Lily’s rear end on the living room couch. That was when I remembered how much I loved this movie. Watching Julie Andrews sing “I Have Confidence” was enough to boost my own-self esteem, and I couldn’t possibly get to writing when I knew the scene with the children marching down those stairs was coming so soon. Finally tore myself away when the family finished dinner.

Doesn’t mean I’m not humming “My Favorite Things” as I get settled.

2:10pm I wish they’d turn down the volume on that TV. The soundtrack is lousy background music for my murder mystery. Every time I get into the ambiance and start writing those words, I hear the Von Trapps singing, or catch a favorite line from the movie. Totally ruins the mood.

Wish I had earplugs.

2:30pm For future reference: as odd as it may seem, stuffing cheetos in your ears is actually a very effective way to block out background noise.

3:05pm I am SOOO tempted to check Facebook. I just remembered Yvonne had a doctor’s appointment about her hip, and I’m sure there’s an update there now. Besides, I just found the most remarkable quote on writing in my reference book. Totally tweetable.

No, girl. Time is running out. The muse rules.

3:15pm The muse lost. Yvonne needs to have surgery. And I’ve already had 3 RTs on that quote. Good marketing, right? Getting my name out is important too – isn’t it?

3:30pm Okay – really buckling down now. I will write out this scene. Half an hour? Plenty of time.

3:55pm I did it! Got my scene done. Certainly not as much as I’d hoped for three hours ago, but at least the scene is done.

But wait. I don’t remember a hike through the Austrian Alps in my outline.


How do you deal with distractions?


Respect your Readers

Respect your Readers

by Megan DiMaria

This 2008 Associate Press news article caught my eye, and I think it has an application to writing.

Trust me, I’ll explain. But first, here’s the story:

Woman Shoots Self While Trying to Kill Mice

POTTER VALLEY, Calif. — A Mendocino County woman who was trying to kill mice in her trailer with a gun ended up shooting herself and another person.

The 43-year-old woman pulled out her .44-caliber Magnum revolver after she saw the mice scurrying across the floor of her trailer on Highway 20 in Potter Valley, sheriff’s officials said.

But she accidentally dropped the gun, which went off as it struck the floor. The bullet went through the woman’s kneecap, bounced off the keys sitting on the belt loop of a 42-year-old man in the trailer and grazed the man’s groin before ending up in his coin pocket.

Authorities did not release the shooting victims’ names.

The mice escaped the shooting unharmed.

Okay, here’s my take on this bizarre connection: writers need to respect their readers. When tempted to take out the big guns (READ: over explain or add too much unnecessary detail), don’t do it! Our readers are smart people. They like nuance, they like to use their imagination when reading a scene. All the dots do not need to be connected to be understood.

Sometimes the big guns just backfire!

megan dimariaMegan DiMaria is an author and speaker who enjoys cheering on other writers. One of her speaking presentations is an in-depth study designed to encourage, refresh, and minister to writers as they pursue the journey of publication. She’d love to join to your next writer’s retreat and share the (hard-earned!) wisdom and encouragement she’s accumulated on her own writing journey.

Megan is an active member of several writers groups and is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands. Visit Megan online at her blog at

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It’s Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week!

Have you ever written for children? A lot of people seem to think it is easier to do than writing for adults – but, as someone who has spent the past year or so learning about the genre, I do not agree. In fact, I think it is harder.

Writing so kids can understand without talking down to them. Including a “message” without them feeling preached to. Rich description with a MUCH shorter word count. Writing relatable stories for an audience several decades younger than you. In fact, one of my favorite quotes about children’s writing (picture books in particular) has this to say:

Writing a picture book is like writing War and Peace in haiku. Mem Fox

Despite the difficulty, there is a wide variety of opportunities for children’s writers – and considering that most people become Christ-followers before they enter adulthood, this age group is a prime audience for witnessing and conversion. If you are interested in looking into this genre, you can check out the Children’s Author’s Network (the sponsor of Children’ Authors and Illustrators Week – held the first full week of February each year) and/or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Have you tried writing for children? What is your favorite children’s book?


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An Opportunity for Publication :)

It is almost time for the second Mixed Blessings book to release – with the theme of Classically Inspired – and even if you didn’t have an entry in this particular book, there is still one opportunity for your work to be in the next FaithWriters Writing Challenge anthology.

Writing Challenge Coordinator Deb Porter has put out a call for a “gap filler” entry for the book, due to the slight possibility of a copyright infringement issue on one of the winning entries. The normal Writing Challenge guidelines for length (between 150 and 750 words) apply. The topic is “The Importance of Being Earnest” (though not on the play of that name). Please check out the Breath of Fresh Air Press website for specific details, including how to submit your entry.

But don’t take TOO much time – the deadline to enter is this coming Tuesday, February 3! Deb will choose one entry from those submitted to be included in the book.

Got an idea? Plan to enter?

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7 Things to do NOW to be Ready when Writing Inspiration Hits

7 Things to do NOW to be Ready when Writing Inspiration Hits

by Edie Melson

As writers, we know that inspiration is a fickle thing. And while we all need to keep writing whether we’re inspired or not, that rush of creativity is nice. What’s not nice is not being ready.
There’s nothing as disheartening as those times happens when inspiration strikes and we’re not ready to capitalize on it.
So today I’m sharing 7 things to do now to be ready when writing inspiration strikes.

1. Always keep a notebook nearby.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital app or a physical book filled with actual paper. All too often I’ve thought I’d remember an idea or a new twist without writing it down. I rarely do. Beyond that, I spend a lot of time and angst trying to remember the brilliant idea.

2. When driving, make sure you have a voice recorder within arms reach.

My darling husband decreed note-taking off limits to me while driving—even if I was stopped at a red light. Because of that, I used to keep a digital recorder with me. Now that I have my smart phone, I use that to capture fleeting thoughts.

3. Snag headlines and news stories that intrigue you.

You can take a screenshot of digital articles, or use a program like Evernote. For newspaper headlines, use old-fashioned scissors and a manila file folder to keep track.

4. When you snap or snip an interesting article, be sure to include notes to remind yourself why that particular piece caught your attention.

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Some “Sinful” Writing Challenge Topics

Well, we are working our way through the FaithWriters Writing Challenge‘s first quarter of 2015, and the topics are certainly different from most of the ones we have had in the past. There’s a reason it’s called the Writing CHALLENGE.

The winners for Lust were announced yesterday, and entries for Gluttony are now available for view and comments. And, if you feel like writing an entry, the new topic is Greed. So stretch those writing muscles!

Not familiar with the challenge, or need a refresher? On Thursdays at 11am ET, a new topic is announced. Simply write an entry in any genre between 150 and 750 words (with a Christian worldview) on the topic for the week and enter it in the appropriate level (click here for guidelines for choosing a level). The following Thursday, the entries are available for viewing and comments on the Writing Challenge portion of the website. Go by and give others’ comments – and watch for the brick throwing thread in the forums, which allows you to post a direct link to your entry (wait for this post before you do so!). The FOLLOWING Thursday, winners are announced.

Gold and Platinum members can enter the challenge every week if they choose. Silver members can give it a try a total of four times.

So, what are you waiting for?


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