Christian Fiction Writer’s Contest

Mt. Zion Ridge Press announces its first writing competition for published and unpublished writers. More info at this link.

Deadline: January 30, 2020

Published and Unpublished Authors of Christian Fiction

Cost: $10 per entry payable upon registration


1st Place: $15 Amazon gift card, winner’s certificate, GIF to put on your website/blog, and a copy of Do Yourself a Favor: Tips and Quips on the Writing Life

2nd & 3rd Place: Winner’s certificate, GIF to put on your website/blog, and a copy of Do Yourself a Favor: Tips and Quips on the Writing Life

4th & 5th Place: Winner’s certificate and GIF to put on your website/blog.

All finalists have a CHANCE (no promises here) to be offered a publishing contract with Mt. Zion Ridge Press.

Rules for Submitting: Any work not following these rules will be disqualified.

  • We accept published and unpublished authors.

  • Fiction work submitted cannot have been published before.

  • All works submitted must have a Christian Worldview with no profanity, occult, or sex scenes on page.

  • We accept all Christian fiction genres except picture books and children’s chapter books.

  • Follow all rules and guidelines to the letter.

  • Nobody who is part of the selecting committee or is a current Mt Zion Ridge Press author or employee may enter the contest.

Your Novel’s Details

by Carole Brown

elephant forget free

Have you ever read a book that has the details wrong? And I’m not just talking about historical details, but mundane details that you didn’t catch when writing–even editing–your manuscript. Examples:

  • You wrote that an event happened on Wednesday, but a couple chapters later, on that same Wednesday, you wrote a totally, and unusable, event happening at the same time?
  • Or what about forgetting to finish a subplot detail by not following through with a satisfactory solution?
  • Did you ever change a name and find out you missed a time or two where he/she’s referred to as the previous name? Ouch!
  • Or start out with the main character’s eyes blue and finish up with a green-eyed protagonist?


If you’ve ever read about this happening and don’t want it to happen to you, or you know you’ve missed a few things in your manuscript, then may I suggest a couple ideas:

 1. Choose a paid-for program that works for you. There are different ones that are available that can give you guidance and steer you in the direction needed to keep all your manuscripts details clear and in order.  Depending on the money you want to invest, it can go from inexpensive to very expensive.

To those who like having it all set up for you in advance and have the money to spend, this is the way to go. There are all kinds of apps out there with varying prices. Google or ask other writers to find out what would work best for you.

programs free


I’ve heard good things about Evernote (basic is free; premium costs a decent price). Use it to keep track of your characters by using tags and keywords: eye and hair colors, photos of possible character look-alikes, clothes, styles, etc., and articles of research that you want to keep and refer to later in your work.

Scrivener: a writing software where you write without worrying about formatting. You also have the ability to use tags and keywords, clip websites, store photos and other research material. It can outline with text or a simulated cork board with index cards. You also have the added benefit of it tracking your daily quota of writing.


2.  Create your own “program” where you keep a detailed list of what’s happening, when, where and who.  This is the one I want to focus on today.

checklist free




First:  you’ll need to decide what you’ll use for your Details List: post it notes, whiteboard, index cards, spreadsheet, physical notebook, etc. Use these to help you:

  • Keep track of all characters, including minor characters who may appear only as a mention or very little in your book. List their names, ages, looks, habits, character traits, quirks, relationships (past and present) and anything else you might want to attribute to them and that helps you understand them better. You may not use everything, but it’s valuable for you to determine why and how your character acts the way he/she does.

Example: It’s easier than some realize to forget a minor character’s name, what color of eyes you first used, etc. I changed a minor character’s name in one book and couldn’t remember what it was. Another time, I changed a pretty important character from one position to another, from one name to another, then back again. Details like this are so much easier to remember when you have your handy, detailed lists.


character2 free


  • Keep track of what happens in each chapter. Some events or thoughts or actions may need follow up in later chapters. This helps you to not miss anything that needs to be visited again.

Example: this saves tons of time when you need to double check something to make sure what you previously wrote vibes with what you’re ready to write (rather than having to scroll through pages trying to find that particular scene).

book chapter free



  • Keep track of all major scenes in your book. This is a more specific listing that keeps you right in line to where you’re headed. You can follow the scenes and know whether you’ve left out any vital action, thought or words that would help clarify it or make it even more realistic.

Example: Recently, I wrote a scene of which I had that vague sense it wasn’t quite what I wanted. But in the push to finish the book, I went on writing. When the first draft was finished, I realized details weren’t as they should be in that one scene. I went back through and rewrote it twice before I came close to being satisfied with it.

Praise on the Bible


  • Keep track of timeline. Obviously, this is a biggie. Writers have to keep track of the time events happen, whether it’s minor or major. Readers are sharp. They can pick up a major error like this easily if they’re detail-oriented. It’s an author’s obligation to make sure their story’s timeline is “time-right.”

Example: Is it on Sunday morning before church or after an evening meal when the bad guy is taken to jail? Sometimes, especially when you switch viewpoints, you can overlap actions and times from various characters, but when it comes to certain actions or the same character, you have to consider that he just might not be able to scale Mount Everest the same time he’s eating luncheon with his girlfriend. Keep it straight with your list!

timeline free


  • Keep track of your plot.  Make sure you’re headed in the right direction. There will be changes and sidelines that create an even better story, but you want to remember that by keeping track of your plot, it will help keep you in line for a satisfactory ending. Every line, every scene, every chapter should lead to the ending of your plot.

Example:  In a couple of my books, I realized, the closer I got to the end, that the bad guy wasn’t the one I’d planned for when I first commenced writing the book. Because I kept track of my plot–which didn’t change–changing the character worked fine.



There are many other things that can be added to your lists, but the main thing is, keep track, however you decide to do it. I like simple and easy, so going my own way (preparing my own lists–usually with physical notebooks or cards) works for me.

However you decide to go, I think you’ll find this a great idea. Many times writers want to write and not be bothered or “distracted” with lists and such. But I encourage you to give it a try. I had the same mentality once I seriously began writing novels. It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed help…and lists was the way to go.

Questions? Ask. If I know the answer, I’ll be glad to respond. If I don’t I’ll try to find the answer. Best to you as you work on your manuscript!

Ideas for Marketing 3

by Carole Brown


                        “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”                                   –Henry Ford

           confused man free            

Henry Ford said it right. Attitude is a large part of a writer’s problem or ability to do the marketing. In today’s world, it’s vital. Besides knowing what a writer should write, a writer must discover for whom they’re writing: widespread or a set group of people or even for themselves. That decides how they should market which leads to where they should market. And sometimes when.

What, Who, How, Where, and When (More on these another time). Keep them all in mind and your writing journey will be that much easier. 

Here’s this month’s marketing tips for your perusal

  • Join some Facebook groups that specifically pertain to what you’re writing. Historical: you’ll find many. Thriller? Poetry? Again, do your research, and, I think you’ll not find a lack of like-minded poets. Just be diligent. Remember, if you write inspirational, use discretion. Some of the groups may not be christian, so decide if you can use them without bothering your conscience. I’ve gotten a few reactions/readers from posting on these sites.
  • Ask David. A Twitter-user-marketing site. This is a very valuable asset to my own marketing. It seems to keep my stand alone, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, higher in the Amazon ranks at times, so check it out. It’s reasonable, cost-wise.
  • Facebook Parties. I know some of them may get annoying or even boring. But if you do decide to use them, then join in with enthusiasm and creatively. Don’t just post information about your book and links, but have fun and brief contests and short information tidbits that catch interest. People love to read interesting facts about you and your work. Just have fun and friendly, and you may gain a new reader or two! 
  • Offer freebies when other writers ask. Yes, sometimes these will gain you readers when you offer your book as a gift. This can be an author’s private launch of a new book where he/she gives gifts of others books. Or a writing conference that requests books for welcoming bags or even bigger conferences where you can create baskets for auctions. DO take advantage of some of these by creating a beautiful and appealing basket that readers are begging and hoping to receive! 

Remember, if some of these seem a lot of work for little gain: nothing is to be despised. We can’t all be NYTimes best sellers, but we can all take control of our writing marketing. Gaining one or two readers (plus more!) here and there is not to be overlooked. Most everything is valuable in its own time and way. Smile.

Blessed Marketing to you!


God’s Wonderful World, Scenes and Imagination

by Carole Brown

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. –the Bible

As an author, I marvel at the sights of this beautiful planet. My imagination soars with the heights and floats with the breeze and waves. I imagine my established characters, and sometimes new ones, in these scenes.

Pictures and scenes are one of the greatest ways to foster ideas. I take LOTS of pictures in our travels. Some of them have made it into videos of my books. Others serve to keep my mind agile and brisk with ideas. 

Tell me, what kind of story ideas do these pictures give you?


Do you see a young couple hiking in the northwest? What troubles do they stumble into? A dead body? A raging fire? Kidnapping? Finding themselves with new purpose? Do you imagine a family camping here and encountering wild creatures? Fishing? Hunting? Or can you see something entirely different?

For this one: I imagine one that I’ve begun and have yet to finish: 

Set in Mexico, in a missionary setting, a young girl meets two very different impressive men, but which one is the right one–for her? Then, she must also figure out which one is the drug lord… Can she do both–and survive?



What do you imagine here happening?

An Amish story? an 1800s novel? A wagon train passing through? Or perhaps a country farm setting with a wife who dabbles in mystery problems in the nearby town?

To me, I can see another story,  I’ve begun and hope to finish soon, set during the late 1800s, Destiny and Michael riding their horses through one of the fields he owns, arguing, both strong people who must decipher whose father was the gold thief and find love in the midst of their suspicions.


Forest for Cara2

In this one, what does this scene depict in your mind?

A scary situation? Mystery? A lost child? Can you feel the terror? Do crazy thoughts of someone jumping out at you lurk in your imagination? Can you see children in an adventure book strolling this path?

To me, I can see in my Alex and Denton Davies series, the two of them walking this semi-dark woodland pathway, searching for clues or chasing after a suspect.


entry way free

And one last one to stir your creative juices…

Does this bring to mind a warm, cozy feeling? Can you see an abominable snowmen lurking close by? Or can you see a couple meeting on the ski slopes? A family adventure? A lonely older person meeting his soul mate? 

I see a mountain lodge where a female detective looks for a psycho suspect and runs smack dab into a love she hadn’t planned on. But can she find the bad person…and keep the love?



Can you see how we can use pictures and images to further our writing, to increase our creative juices, to spur us to keep writing, and to give us the encouragement we need when we’re stumped?

Take advantage of everything and all things that keep you writing.

Tell me, what do YOU see in these pictures? What do you use to sit down at your writing desk and add a few more pages to your document?

Themed Christian Fiction Lovers Facebook Parties

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

If you are a published Christian author, I have a marketing opportunity for you.

FaceBook Book Lovers Themed Parties

Themed Facebook Parties for readers take place every other month. She invites other authors to join her in these themed parties. There is a limit of 8 authors per party on a first come, first serve basis. If too many authors sign up for any one party, we may have an additional party with the same theme on another day.

Upcoming Parties:

August 25: Crafts Christian Fiction Lovers Party: Includes novels with a craft such as sewing, quilting, knitting, baking, etc. as an element

October 6: Progressive Era Christian Fiction Lovers Party: Includes fiction set between 1900 and 1929

December 1: Christmas Christian Fiction Lovers Party. Includes only Christmas fiction

Sign up at this link if you are interested in being included in one of these parties, and I will send you more information. Please read the requirements below before submitting.


Authors network to gain exposure for their published novels.

Authors will be able to promote their books during the FB party and on the Themed Christian Book Lovers Parties FB Group.

Authors will gain a larger audience by networking with other authors with similar books.

All the pre-planning work for the party is done for you.


Each author must meet the requirement of having a published book with a Christian world theme that meets the guidelines of the theme.

Each author must have an active FaceBook account.

Each author must participate in the party to promote his or her book for his or her half hour time slot.

Each author must be willing to give away one book (ebook or print)

Each author must contribute $15 for the $50 grand prize and cost of promotion.

FB Prizes:

During these Facebook parties, a drawing will be held.

Giveaways include a grand prize of a $50 Amazon Card or a runner up prize of every participating author’s book.

Authors will also have opportunities to give away other prizes during their time slot.

New Books on the Block

By Carole Brown

One of the best moments in an author’s life is when a book of theirs releases. And probably one of the top pleasures it gives those who love to encourage, is to share the reward of a new book out from a fellow-author-friend. 

Today I want to share with you some new books that recently released and hope you’re intrigued enough to check them out! Here goes…



Coloring Journal. Author: Sharon A. Lavy.

Why should you buy this book?

  • Throughout history, successful people have kept journals.
  • Writing letters and keeping a diary is an ancient tradition that dates back to 10th century Japan.coloring-journal3


  • We now know that journaling has a positive impact on our physical and mental well-being, and modern psychologists contend that regular journaling strengthens the immune cells.
  • Many artistic types swear that three pages a day of free writing by hand boost their creativity.




  • Couple that with the accepted benefits of coloring for calming stress relief and we recognize the usefulness of providing a combination coloring journal.
  • As you fill the following pages with your thoughts and your unique style of expression, please dwell on the goodness of the creator and His great love for us.

Remember, Sharon has a many Adult Coloring Books for your pleasure and relaxation. Do check them out here: 

Sharon A. Lavy’s Amazon Books


* * *


Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing (Writing to Publish Book 1)

Why should you buy this book? 

  • Do you see yourself as a writer?
  • Is your dream to publish?

Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing helps you create a map you can follow to make your dream come true. The examples, reflective assignments, and challenges walk each reader through the process of constructing a thoughtful and achievable plan. While the handbook offers examples of structure, it is in no way formulaic. The plan you design to be a published author is customized to fit your personality traits, your specific gifts, and your busy life.

Check it out HERE:

Rebecca W. Water’s Amazon Book

THERE you have it! Some books to catch your attention this month! Enjoy.

10 Resources for Historical Fiction Research

Writer printby Tamera Lynn Kraft

Anyone who writes historical fiction can tell you a lot of research goes into it. Beginners in the genre might wonder where to start. The following tips and sites are for nineteenth century research, but they can be used for any research project.

Travel:  Your story will have a setting or location even if it’s a mythical town. If you can travel to that location and scope the land, you’ll be able to add details you could never find out from goggling.

For instance, I live in northern Ohio. Somewhere from another part of the country might not know that to an Ohioan toward the river means south and toward the lake means north. They also might not know that most days in northern Ohio are cloud covered. An author from Arizona, if she didn’t do her research, might have too many sunny days in a story about Ohio. Traveling to the area and asking questions of the natives will help eliminate some of those mistakes. If you can’t travel to where your setting is, find someone on the Internet who lives in the area and can scope it out for you.

Museums and Colleges:  Almost every area of the country has local museums that specialize in local history. One thing most writers don’t realize is they love to talk about their history with writers. Calling these museums and asking for the curator will give you a resource that’s invaluable.

Local college history departments are also a great resource. Call the department and ask for an expert in the area you’re researching. One suggestion I would make is to have a list of questions ahead of time.

Maps:  The nation has changed a lot in the last 150 years. Find old maps in the library or on the Internet to map out your setting before you write about it.

Google Earth: If you want to know the terrain of an area your setting is in and you can’t afford to travel, there is nothing like Google Earth to scout out the territory.

Dictionary:  Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary will not only give you the definition of a word, it will give you the year of origin. This helps you know if any word you want to use is too modern for your historical. An example would be ruckus. If my story is dated 1858, I wouldn’t want to use that word because its year of origin isn’t until 1890. But I could use the word, fuss, because it’s been around since 1701.

Journals: Every time period has a way of saying things and a cultural mindset that is unique. One of the best ways to understand that mindset is to read journals written by people in that time period that might have had the same status and experiences as your main characters.

Pictures:  Photographs are a great way to find out what people wore, how they did their hair, how they decorated their houses, and what their towns looked like.

Books:  Books are still a great resource for historicals. Use a little creativity when it comes to checking out books. For instance, if you want to know what to call different parts of a steam train, a children’s book might be the best place to find the information.

Internet Searches:  You can find out almost anything on the Internet if you know how to look. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try different search words or a different search engine. Some of the most common are Google, Yahoo Search, MSN, and Bing.

Historical Blogs: There are many great historical blogs that have a host of information that can be useful when writing historicals. Two where I’m a contributor are Colonial Quills and Heroes, Heroines, and History.


10 Books on How to Plot

When it comes to writing, the biggest debate is between pansters (seat of the pants writers) and plotters (those who do at least a scanty outline before they write). Even for those who don’t like to write an extensive outline, plotting techniques can be valuable. Even pantsers who don’t do any pre-planning can learn valuable techniques from plotting that will help them when they do rewrites and editing.

I am not a major plotter and used to be a panster. As I learned more about the structure of story, I learned to plan my major plot points to keep me out of trouble in the middle, but I’m not a major plotter. Here are 10 of my favorite books on plotting. Click the title to find where to buy it on Amazon.

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

This book is the Bible for learning about plot.

Super Structure by James Scott Bell

A must have book for learning about how a story is structured.

From the Inside Out by Susan May Warren

A great book on how to plot a story based on the character development.

Deep and Wide by Susan May Warren

More plotting techniques for planning a plotting a novel.

My Book Buddy by Susan May Warren

This is a workbook to use for plotting your novel.

Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

A great little book about plotting the middle of your novel first.

How to Write Your Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

Many plotters love the Snowflake method, and this book tells you everything you need to know about it. This is a book for those who are into pre-planning the entire novel and isn’t for you if you have any panster tendencies.

Outlining Your Novel: Mapping Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

This book has excerpts from different authors about their plotting techniques.

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

This book has techniques you can use to outline your novel. It is more for plotters than pansters.

Writing the Hero’s Journey by Rob Parnell

This book teaches you to use the Hero’s Journey method of outlining. This works better for suspense, sci-fi, and fantasy than other genres.

Guest Author Rebecca Waters – Getting On with the Business of Writing

Rebecca WatersRebecca Waters left her position as a professor of teacher education in December 2012 to actively pursue her writing career. She shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. Rebecca has published several freelance articles including two submissions in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Standard Publishing’s Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Rebecca’s debut novel, Breathing on Her Own, was released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

To learn more about Rebecca or to read A Novel Creation, visit her website at

You can also find Rebecca online at Facebook and Twitter.


Strategic Planning Showing Organizational Business Solutions Or GoalsGetting On with the Business of Writing

by Rebecca Waters

You’re a writer. Or you want to be one. It doesn’t matter if you have written a short story for your high school newspaper, a novel, or a blog. Something inside tells you to write. And if you have a desire to share your work with other readers, you are diving into the business of writing. The question becomes “What do you want from your writing?”

Do you want a career to financially support you and your family?

Do you want to be famous?

Do you want to write fiction or nonfiction?

Do you want to write novels, short stories, screenplays or poetry?

Do you want to write a blog?

And as if that isn’t enough, ask yourself these questions:

Who is your audience?

Do you want to self-publish or be traditionally published?

What do you already know about writing?

Answering these questions will address how you view your work as a writer.

And, by the way, don’t be distraught if you find yourself wanting to do it all! I think there are many of us out there.

A business plan for writers:

There are several types of business plans. Some plans are drafted as personal plans while others are developed for corporations. The purpose of some business plans is to secure investors while others inform stakeholders of the growth development and future plans of the organization. Who are your investors? Who are your stakeholders? Your publisher, your agent, your readers. As you move forward in your new business (writing), you need a business plan.


1) A business plan helps you keep focus on your mission.

2) A business plan guides you to “the next step” when you feel uncertain.

3) A business plan reminds you of your objectives and how to reach them.

4) A business plan helps you evaluate the value writing tools being advertised by others.

In short, a business plan will help you reach your goal: to write.

For this post, I’m going to briefly discuss three major elements to developing your business plan: Identifying and addressing your strengths and weaknesses, drafting a mission statement, and setting attainable goals and objectives.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The first step in drafting your business plan is to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. We all have them.

This requires some thoughtful self-examination. For example, I initially identified my weakness in understanding and engaging in social media networks. Since research is one of my strengths, I created a plan that included learning everything I could about Facebook and Twitter. Eventually, I set up a Twitter account and launched an author page on Facebook.

After you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll want to list ways you can build on your strengths and address your weaknesses. Is technology your strength but you have trouble with “show don’t tell?” Learn what you can online, or sign up for a webinar.


Now you’re ready to draft a mission statement. This statement reflects who you want to be as a writer. Think about how you want others to describe you as a writer. Consider your core values. Is it your mission to write murder mysteries? Great. But what if a potential publisher wants you to include vulgar language and steamy sex scenes and these happen to go against your core values? Your mission statement will help you stay true to yourself. Another way to approach this is to think about how you want others to describe you as a writer. “She writes great Christian fiction.” Or “I love to read his suspense novels. They’re hard to put down and they’re good clean reading.”

Goals and Objectives

The final step we’ll discuss in this post is to set goals and objectives for your writing.

You will want to write out a few long-range goals as well as smaller, short term objectives. Try to be specific and make sure your goals are attainable. Setting a goal to write a novel in the next three months is reasonable for me. If I were still teaching full time though, I would need to extend that time frame. A short-term objective to reach that goal is to write 1000 words a day. Get the idea?

Be careful to not write out too many goals or objectives. You will feel overwhelmed. I suggest developing three long-range goals and two objectives for each goal.

Putting it Together

Once you’ve worked through these elements, put them together in a way that is meaningful for you. For example, in my plan I put my mission statement first. I follow that up with my goals and objectives. I then list my strengths and weaknesses and my plan for them to make me a better writer.

I’ve already shared how you can use your plan to keep you moving in the right direction, but you may be wondering if anyone else will ever see your plan. That’s up to you, but I’m pretty sure a publisher or agent is likely to want to work with someone with a clear vision for the business of writing.

BOHO Front Cover HDBreathing on Her Own

Molly Tipton and her husband are looking forward to retirement, but Molly’s life suddenly spirals out of control when her oldest daughter is involved in a terrible accident. An icy road and a sharp turn leave one woman dead, another clinging to life.

While two families grieve, details emerge that reveal Molly’s daughter was driving under the influence. As she prepares her daughter for the prospect of a vehicular homicide lawsuit, Molly discovers her oldest child is not the only one injured and forced to deal with past mistakes.

If it’s true that time heals all wounds, what are we to do with our scars?

Purchase it in paperback or on Kindle here.

Book Review – Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

Write from MiddleWrite Your Novel from the Middle

by James Scott Bell

A new approach for plotters, pantsters, and everyone in between!

What’s the best way to write a “next level” novel? Some writers start at the beginning and let the story unfold without a plan. They are called “pantsers,” because they write by the “seat of the pants.”

Other writers plan and outline and know the ending before they start. These are the “plotters.”

The two sides never seem to agree with each other on the best approach.

But what if it’s not the beginning or the end that is the key to a successful book? What if, amazing as it may seem, the place to begin writing your novel is in the very middle of the story?

I’m excited to tell you, that’s exactly where you’ll find it. I am truly jazzed about the technique I discovered. I’ve used it on every book of mine since, and have now set it out for you in this volume.

My Review:  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

This is one of the best writing books I’ve ever read. It will revolutionize the way you see your story world. I finished it within a day because it was so insightful and easy to understand. The basic premise is there is something that happens at the midpoint of every good novel and movie that connects the entire story. By understanding that midpoint and writing around it, we can transform out stories into something great. I highly recommend this book to all writers.