Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pen to the Page: How to Become a Writer (Giveaway)



Do you have a story inside you that's itching to get out? Does this sounds familiar?

"Writing is hard and WAY TOO COMPLICATED TO LEARN, especially since I don't know which end of a sentence to start with!"

And why do people write books by themselves in the first place? What about all that grammar? Spelling? Outlining and plotting? Yikes!!!
These are good questions and I'd like to help answer them. How about we begin at the beginning.

The process of writing, whether it be poetry or a novel, begins with a pen and paper or the keyboard of a computer. That sounds rather simplistic but it's the truth. Someone can have a multitude of sonnets and stories floating around in his or her head, but until those words find their way to the page, that person is not truly considered a "writer."

Getting Started: Can you be a writer?

The Checklist

____ Characters
____ Story
____ Words
____ Desire to Learn
____ Determination
____ Paper/Computer
____ Time

How did you do? Do you have all of the traits of a writer? The "time" thing might take a bit of rearranging, but if I can write with a full-time job, you can too. I promise.

Now, I'd like to talk to you about what I think it takes to become a writer. If you'd like to try after listening, go for it! Join your local writing association, ACFW, or RWA . . . whatever you think will help you grow as a writer. Touch base with me through my blog and I'll give you pointers as well.

God bless and always,

In Christ,


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Book Giveaway:

Digital Copy

One winner chosen from comments
by random draw on October 2, 2016.
(valid entries must leave their email address)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

About the Book:

He appears the beast but she sees the man.
Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.
He’s been betrayed by his best friend. Miles would rather hide than help, especially his daughter. But it isn’t over. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A war veteran, he knows how to defend his own, the Beast of Stratton can do it again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Coffee Corner: The Layers of Lisa Lickel (With a Fantabulous Giveaway)

Howdy, folks! Welcome to the Coffee Corner.

This week we’re chatting with a great friend and author from Prism Book Group. Please welcome Lisa Lickel to the blog.

I can’t wait to get started but first, I want to mention the giveaway. Lisa’s giving away copies (print or digital) to TWO winners! Make sure you check out the details at the end of the interview, but for now let’s find out more about Lisa…

Renee: Hi, Lisa, I’m so glad you’re here in my corner of the woods. Thanks for coming. Everybody’s waiting, so I guess we’ll dig in. How long have you been writing and why did you start?

Lisa: Thank you, I’m happy to be here, Renee. I started writing professionally, that is, getting a wee bit of financial compensation, in 2003, after completing the Christian Writers Guild course online. I started taking the course because I wanted to learn how to jump in, and the Guild had a good reputation. I had been involved with my local historical society in putting together a community history which involved research, interview, editorial work, and even biographies and press releases. I was fascinated and forgot how much I enjoyed writing.

Renee: Wow. I’ve never thought of writing stuff like that! It’s sounds interesting, though. So how do you decide what to write about and when do you do your research?

Lisa: Early on, I learned of an opportunity to write for Barbour Publishing’s new mystery book club. It didn’t last long, but that was my first lesson is learning to write for the market. A few years later when I was ready to write on topics that intrigued me, I chose to mash several variables, stem cell research and medical ethics, the mysticism—but not really—of an 800-year-old Catholic Brotherhood, and the dynamics of broken families. I researched by shamelessly using my new sister-in-law, who’s in charge of research studies at a prestigious university hospital, people I know who practice their faith, newspaper articles, and the Internet.

Renee: I guess we all have our “sources,” if you know what I mean? How do you pick your character names? Do you pick them from a hat or do you have a more “unique” way of choosing them?

Lisa: For this book, Innocents Pray, I decided to make the character’s names an intrinsic part of the story, yet I didn’t want them to get in the way. They needed to be common and easily pronounceable, yet convey even subtly the larger message of the book. The two main protagonists are Brother Able and Liberty (Libby). Libby’s husband is Victor. The main antagonists are Libby’s son, Jordan and the doctor, Richard (Rich). I’d love to hear what those names summon up for you.

Renee: Considering I haven’t read the book yet, let’s see—now remember, I’m shooting from the hip here—Brother Able makes me think of a competent man of God. Liberty brings to mind freedom. Victor, of course, instills the thought of conquering or victory. Jordan brings to mind the Jordan River in the Bible and to be on the right side of the Jordan is to be on God’s side. And Rich? Well, our riches are not always in gold. How’s that?
What about your titles? How do you pick those?

Lisa: This has been my worst nightmare of this process. Innocents Pray is going to be my twenty-first book release and the first one I’m putting out for myself under a limited imprint I developed for my editorial clients a couple of years ago. The title is one that I researched and decided on early on, at least the one I wanted to submit to publishers and agents with. The manuscript netted me contracts with three agents and received two publisher contract offers, but neither of them ended up being right. Some of my early readers, including my dad, weren’t enchanted by the title, so I went through a month of frantic self-doubt and at least two online discussion forums begging for opinions and help. I learned that if you ask blank, you’ll get every possible title idea under the sun, but if you ask more specifically, the advice is tighter. In the end, I chose not to change the title but added a verse epigraph.

Renee: Titles are tough. I always start writing with a title in mind and it’s hard to let go. Beast of Stratton was that way. When I started that book, it was entitled Another Legacy. I changed it later. I didn’t want to let go of my original title, but the story and marketing required it. Not so much the setting. Speaking of that, is your setting unique and how did you select it?

Lisa: The setting for Innocents Pray starts out in a real place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the Alexian Brothers have their home, and where my characters Libby and Vic, live. The story then moves to a fictional southern California coastal community where Dr. Rich has his famous hospice and where Brother Able serves as hospice chaplain. I selected these places mostly because Milwaukee was familiar to me, and I could still enjoy creating a setting of my own in California.

Renee: I can understand that. I do that with my Snowy Range Chronicles. I love my Wyoming home so much that I created the small town of Timber Springs to share a bit of this rugged life with them. What advice do you have for the new writer?

Lisa: You can do both—enjoy this journey, and be professional—but if you’re going to be serious about writing professionally find a good mentor and treat your work as a business. Learn all you can, be flexible, never give up, and never surrender.

Renee: I agree with you. If you treat it like a hobby, you won’t dedicate the love, energy and time it requires. We know you’re a writer, but are you a reader? If so, what’s your favorite book and where do you like to read the most?

Lisa: My favorite book, fiction, of all time is Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. It’s not really science fiction or even fantasy, but a fictionalized account of growing up in northeastern Illinois in a small community during the forties, when the world was exciting with the possibility of exploring outer space, and there was hope. It’s about being a child on the cusp of adulthood, transitioning into maturity yet able to hang on to childhood and sort out the best parts to take with you. It’s an amazing set of short stories of the first and last summer and always the best summer of your life. I love it and read it at least every other year.
My favorite place to read is wherever I am.

Renee: I can read almost anywhere except the car. Time to get a little personal. Do you have any hobbies or things you like to do when you aren’t working?

Lisa: I love to watch or go to movies, listen to music or the radio, do Sudoku puzzles, play with my grandkids, and take pictures.

Renee: Today’s life isn’t easy. We all struggle in one way or another. I won’t try to dig out any horror stories, but is there a special quote or saying which comes to your mind in times of need or adversity?

Lisa: I’m always comforted (or exasperated) to be reminded that God doesn’t make me go through anything we can’t handle. And there’s always the precious sagacity from Jeremiah that He knows the plans He has for me.

Renee: Yes, God is with us no matter what we face in this life. I cling to the fact (yes, it’s a fact for any skeptics out there!) God offers not only His love but His almighty strength to overcome whatever we must in this fallen world. After all, He may not have caused the fall of Man, but He didn’t abandon us as we deserved.
Thank you so much for visiting the Coffee Corner today, Lisa. It’s an honor and a pleasure. I can’t wait to read your new book!

Okay, folks, now it’s your chance to win a book! TWO people will get a chance to do so, too. Simply answer the question below and comment on the blog (NO, not Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, LOL.) I’ll draw for the two winners in a week from the date of this blog. This looks like an awesome book AND giveaway! Have fun.

----------------- BOOK GIVEAWAY -----------------

Winner's choice of



(Answer in blog comments. Leave your name and email address for valid entry.)
***Five comments required to validate contest***
****WINNERS selected by random draw on 9/25/2016 and announced on blog****



Justice, mercy, and humbleness collide when four people pray for different answers to the same situation. How will God answer all of them?

What is wrong with trying to cure cancer? Brother Able, hospice chaplain, asks himself that question every day. His boss, Dr. Rich Bernard, performs closet genetic experiments at Paradise House. He blackmails Able into keeping his secret. When a grieving husband asks Able to pray for his dying wife, Able finally breaks his silence.
Libby Davis might be prepared to accept death, to sacrifice herself for Rich’s greater cause but fails to comprehend the love of a husband who cannot let her go and the son who’s a whisper from the edge of reason. Brother Able wades into battle for those innocents in her life. If he wins, it won’t be only Libby’s family he saves.

Purchase links:


Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and sometimes magazine editor. Visit

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Faith for the Journey with Susan Baganz (including Giveaway)

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fear

Bugs or Walls

by Susan Baganz

I often think of fear as this humungous monster ready to devour me. In reality it’s more like an annoying gnat or fruit fly. Flits around in an erratic patter to distract and annoy, but impossible to catch and kill.
We lose ourselves in fighting little things and making them bigger than they really are.
I’m an expert at this. I call it proactive worrying. I have to remind myself that God’s already in the future. He’s there and I can trust Him. I have a lifetime of examples of His faithfulness and leading me through things that I definitely could never have done on my own.
God is bigger than my fear. My word for 2016 is “Fearless.” The scripture I paired with it is the: “Say to those with an anxious heart, take courage, fear not.” (Isaiah 35:4 NASB). I don’t think I’m alone in this.
My biggest fear? I’m afraid no one will ever really love me.
Maybe that’s why I write love stories. There is something beautiful about God with skin on, especially in a relationship between a man and a woman. I’ve witnessed real life examples of this.
And outside of marriage: I’ve been hugged by God. I’ve seen Him at work. He and I have a history of watching His faithfulness to me for over thirty years. He really loves me, but there are days when that doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
Ouch. Did she just say God wasn’t enough?
Not really. I said I couldn’t ‘feel’ it. Because fear is an emotion but also a physical manifestation of something going on inside. Think of it this way. If I’m freezing cold but there is a brick wall between me and a warm fire, even though I know it’s there … I’m still going to be shivering.
When fear isn’t an annoying fly—it can be a wall keeping me from the love and warmth God desires for me. I can attempt to kill the fly or bang my head against a wall. Either way it can drive me mad. Sometimes it takes another human being to help us find the door through that wall, or help us put a threat into perspective so we can experience the warmth of His love.
I’m grateful to those who do that for me. Who are Jesus with skin on. Who I can call and cry with. Who will drop everything to meet for lunch or talk on the phone. And pray.
Fear can be an annoying bug or a big wall. Sometimes we let it go and other times we need help to get through it. The challenge then is knowing when and who to ask. Thankfully God’s always available and over the years He’s provided many others as well.
Fear doesn’t have to keep us from following Him when we can acknowledge its presence and that we have a power within us that is bigger.
Have courage.
Keep pressing forward in spite of the fear to taste the faithfulness of God.
And if you need a laugh – watch this commercial featuring Aaron Rodgers. I am after all from Wisconsin, home of the Packers.



Enter by commenting on the blog post or answering the following question:

How does fear impact your life?

(please leave your name and email to be eligible for the drawing)

Minimum of five comments required to validate contest. Winner selected by random draw from eligible comments on 9/18/16 and announced on blog.



He’d never noticed her…till now.

Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break, touring the country with their manager, Tia.

Tia Bartel loved Niko for the longest time, but it wasn’t until she stepped in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust?

As they journey on the freeway of life and love, they encounter struggles as they are forced to rely on their faith, and friends, to make it through.


Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.
Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and serves on the board of the southeast chapter. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.
You can learn more by following her blog, her Twitter feed 6894 @susanbaganz or her fan page,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Return to Me

Says the Lord of hosts, "And I will return to you."

Psalm 10:17-18 “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.”
I watch the news each night and find myself in tears at the atrocities I see. The television is littered with stories that used to be a once in a lifetime occasion. Now, they’re a dime a dozen. Or are they? Let’s just say, it’s amazing what the information age did for the media business.

My soul aches with the unimaginable horror of death, hatred, destruction. I search for any sign of my Lord but He’s so hard to find. I catch a glimpse here and there, and hope blossoms only for the next story to dash it once again.

I ask myself, “Is it too late for us? Is this the end?”

Zechariah 1:3-4 “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: Return to Me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached’, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deedsBut they did not hear nor heed Me, says the LORD.”
Oh, Lord, are You listening? Do You hear me calling?

Isaiah 59:1 “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.”
His promises give me comfort and I take joy in my Lord Jesus. He’s my Savior and no matter the circumstance, He waits for me with open arms to nurse me through the day. His shoulder bears my tears and in the end, He wipes them all away.
When you search for answers, where or whom do you seek? What is your hope in? Your joy? Do you know my Jesus? If not, He's waiting...just for you.     

In Christ,