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Hey there, blog readers.  You may have noticed I’ve missed my last couple of posts.  To be honest, I needed to take a step back and figure out how best to use my time.  It turns out that if I blog regularly, I don’t take much time to actually write.

So, because this blog is pretty pointless without new books to blog about, I’m taking a little hiatus from blogging.  I’ll still post excerpts at least once a month, so you can have a peek of what I’m working on.  And I’ll still blog for Word Alive Press and Redwood Park Communities once a month, but I want to take more time to do the kind of writing I love best.  I hope you’ll understand.

Please feel free to check out my books page, and peruse my archives for the time being.

Have you ever come back to a work in progress after a break and found it a stranger?

This is something I’ve done many a time, especially after the Christmas rush and the flurry of New Year’s resolutions. Hello there, book-to-be. Who are you exactly? And where do we go from here?

I’ve made plenty of mistakes with this process, daunting mistakes that almost made me give up on finishing a neglected novel. Here are some things I’ve learned about getting back in touch with your manuscript.

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In a few short days, Nanowrimo will begin. If you aren’t aware, National Novel Writing Month is an annual challenge where over 300,000 writers band together to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November.

If it sounds a bit crazy, that’s because it is.

But it’s not impossible. I can assure you that, as I’ve done it three times. It’s proven, for me, a great way to blow some dust off my brain, try out an idea that’s been simmering for a while, and practice generating raw word-count output. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered from my three years of Nanowrimo-ing.

The other day I was doing a written interview via email regarding my books. The questions were the usual: “How did you get into writing?”, “Where does your inspiration come from?”, etc. But there’s always that inevitable question (though this time it was “off the record”): “How do you find the time to write with FOUR KIDS??”

It’s a question I get asked often, and a question I don’t have a perfect answer to. The easy answer is I just do. But in the interest of helping other parents have hope for their writing dreams in the midst of kid-chaos, I put some thought into how I make it work. It helps that this is in the forefront of my mind, with all four of my kiddos home from school for the summer.  Here are my five tips for writing with children.

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John Mackilligen is a Covenanter, an illegal Scottish Presbyterian minister in a time when anti-Anglican sentiment is considered treason. Can he hold to his promise even if it means he could lose everything he has—including his freedom and his life?

Over a century later, his kinsman, William McKillican, pastors a Congregational flock. But when his people are displaced to make room for sheep, he must decide whether to follow them to the backwoods of Canada with all its hardships, or leave them alone in the wilderness.

Inspired by the example of her grandfather, Jennie McKillican, a spinster nurse, embarks on the greatest adventure yet—a mission to China. Yet in the midst of spiritual revival, a threat arises that could endanger the lives of every Christian in the country.

Three true stories. Three different centuries. Three generations woven together in a living chain…calling to each other Across the Deep.


“He would have been proud of you, Janet,” Pa said, turning to her at last, running his long fingers over his bushy white beard.

“Grandfather?” she clarified, though she knew of whom he spoke.

He nodded. “He knew what it was to sacrifice, to give himself for the cause of Christ.”

“I wish I had known him,” she said wistfully.

“Aye, he was a great man,” Pa said, and Jennie wondered if he could see his father in memory, striding through the door after a long ride, seated at the head of the table, propped up in his bed at the last. Jennie could see her own past—the cheerful voices of children at play. This house was strong with memories. Even the logs in the walls breathed coolness, as though they remembered still the shade of their vanished forest home. “A great man,” Pa repeated softly. “But you don’t have to have known him in life to know who he was.”

It was true. She had been raised on tales of the Reverend William, as Grandfather was known throughout the county, passed down on the knees of her father, aunts, and uncles. He was legend, and yet real to her.

“He understood what it meant to be called.”

Jennie shivered, feeling that familiar and yet eminently Other presence of the Holy Spirit within her.

“I know that too,” she said. “That is why I must go to China.”

“And that is why I know he would be proud,” Father said, laying his broad, calloused hand on her shoulder.

  

This is the time of year we start to think about spring cleaning: washing those windows to let in the sunshine, dusting away those cobwebs around the ceiling, scrubbing stubborn grime—taking care of those pesky little things that build up over time.

What about that manuscript you’re working on, or the one that’s been sitting on your computer gathering digital dust? Here’s a spring cleaning checklist to help you out with your editing.  

  

The internet is full of helpful lists of questions to ask a blind date so you can get to know them. But have you ever thought about using these questions to get to know your characters?

After all, you’re about to embark on an intimate journey with this person, much like a dating relationship. You need to know more than just height, build, hair colour and eye colour. Just because they’re not actually real doesn’t mean these aren’t important things to know. And even if you never use these details in your writing, they will inform how you think about your character, resulting in a more multi-faceted picture.

Here are a few questions you could ask on a blind date with your character.



Writing my latest novel, Across the Deep, was a unique experience. While most writing falls neatly under the categories of either non-fiction or fiction, I was turning true, historical records into a novel form.

As you might imagine, this posed significant challenges. Here are a few things I kept in mind as I turned fact into fiction. (Keep reading)

I’m very excited to be able to show you the trailer for my new book, Across the Deep.  What do you think?

If I took a poll of writers, I’d bet the vast majority would say they write because they love to. I’m one of them. Writing is a passion for me, a way of caring for myself and having fun.

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But that’s not everything there is to it.

Now I’m not talking about making money, though if you’re a professional writer this is certainly a necessary evil.

I’m talking about communication. What does communication need? A speaker, a message, and a hearer.

So what I’m saying is you could have an amazing message, and you can shout it out there, but if no one is listening, you haven’t communicated. Your writing isn’t achieving its full potential.

How do we as writers get our message heard?

We need to look at writing as giving. (read more)