Seriously Write: Plotter or Pantser? by Jenna Brandt


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

As I progressed in my writing and started a second series, I realized I needed to create a loose plot to save time when I was working on multiple projects. 

On the Seriously Write blog today, author Jenna Brandt provides insight into why she went from being a pantser writer to a plotter.


Have you gone from being a pantser to a plotter? What advantages/disadvantages have you noticed?



Book Review: Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Out of the Ordinary is the second novel in the Apart from the Crowd series by Jen Turano. I looked forward to reading this story with its hint at a host of peculiar characters sure to provoke laugh-out-loud moments.

You see, it all boils down to the fact that the fashion-designer-wannabe Mrs. Davenport depends on her wallflower companion, Gertrude Cadwalader, to save her from her kleptomaniac self. Gertrude’s job is to prevent her employer’s tendency to relieve other wealthy individuals from their possessions or, failing that, return them without the person knowing they were stolen or by whom. Add in Gertrue’s friend Harrison Sinclair, a sought-after shipping magnet whose penchant is for outlandishly-colored clothing, and the potential for humorous mayhem ensues, making for a great story.


I normally enjoy Jen Turano’s stories and really wanted to like this one a lot after the hint of it in the prequel novella and first novel of the series. As usual, she placed her odd characters in equally odd situations. (I mean, really, half a birdcage as a bustle?) And those situations were entertaining.

However, the first setting (an engagement party) went on far too long for me. As in the previous book, the author spent at least the first third of the novel there. While that isn’t bad in and of itself, it became one incident after another that did little for moving the story along in an exciting and timely manner. There were too many instances where a situation or reactions were dragged out after the fact, much of it telling narrative not shown in real time. On the other hand, the second half moved much better. 🙂 

I really liked Harrison and, for the most part, I liked Gertrude. I thought I would like Mrs. Davenport much more than I did. Previously, I’d seen her as a loveable eccentric. Though she has a compelling backstory, overall, it didn’t change the moments I found her selfish and unpleasant.

I’ve read fiction long enough to know that no matter how much I like an author, on occasion there will be individual books I’m not as crazy about. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading that person’s work. So, because of the second half, along with the humorous moments and one laugh-out-loud situation, my stars on Amazon will show four (barely).

Your thoughts?

Seriously Write: When You Feel Like Quitting by Heather Day Gilbert


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Sandra Ardoin @Sandraardoin

Ask any author who’s been at it for several years (well, except someone like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King), and they’ll probably tell you they reached a point where they thought about throwing in the towel. 

Author Heather Day Gilbert is on the Seriously Write blog today giving herself and other writers a pep talk to keep at it when facing writing discouragements.


Has there been a time when you’ve considered giving up your writing career?



December 2017 ACFW New Fiction Releases


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Are you making that list and checking it twice? Here are a number of just-released novels you might want to add to your Christmas list.


Rebecca’s Redemption by Lee Carver — A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing. (Contemporary, Independently Published)



Contemporary Romance:

The Christmas Baby by Lisa Carter– Mistletoe Mommy Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher — Nick’s love of thrills and danger and Samantha’s love of safety and security drove them apart two years ago. After her worst fears came true, can they build something new upon the ashes of the past? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf — Conrad Hamilton thought his life would be easy. A great job running his own construction business, living in his hometown in Door County, Wisconsin, with Lila Clark by his side. He planned on marrying her as soon as she returned from her Chicago internship but it never happened.
Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor did she plan on spending the last decade in New York. But she did. Can the magic of Christmas turn two hearts back to one another again or is it too late to capture that special kind of perfect? (Contemporary Romance from Prism Christian Publishing)

Under the Mistletoe: A Christian Christmas Anthology by Jenna Brandt, Lorana Hoopes, Carol E. Keen, Elle E. Kay, Mary C. Findley, Judith Robl, Evangeline Kelly, C.J. Samuels — Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you 8 wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Making Spirits Bright by Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, April Hayman — Christmas is a season for new beginnings and second chances. A time for hope and joy and laughter. A time for people of all ages to find love and come together in community. Making Spirits Bright is a collection of just such stories – four never-before-published inspirational Christmas novellas. From romance to cozy mystery, with a generous dash of humor, these contemporary stories are sure to warm your heart as well as brighten your season and lift your Christmas spirit. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:
The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection by Mary Connealy — The Old West comes to life under the talented pen of bestselling author Mary Connealy. Enjoy a lighthearted ride alongside seven historical and one contemporary cowboys and the women who tame their hearts. (Historical/Contemporary Romance Novella from Barbour Publishing)

Would-Be Mistletoe Wife by Christine Johnson — Worried she might lose her teaching job if funding is cut for her boarding school, widow Louise Smythe must consider marriage. But the only prospective groom in town is lighthouse-keeper Jesse Hammond, and he wants children–something she may never be able to provide. While Jesse waits for the ideal woman to make his wife, though, Louise can’t help but long for something more than his friendship. If he wants to be promoted to head lighthouse keeper, Jesse needs to find a wife suited to his rustic lifestyle. But as he and Louise partner to give the town’s homeless orphans a joyous holiday, he’s drawn to the petite woman. Will the light of Christmas finally inspire them to trust in each other’s hearts? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Circle of Blessings by Deborah Raney — A young college student is determined to win the love of her English professor at the university in the Dakota Territory where she is studying to be an architect. (Historical Romance from Raney Day Press)



Return to Bella Terra by MaryAnn Diorio — When she receives word that her mother is terminally ill, Maria Landro Tonetta travels to her Sicilianhomeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When, however, Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream.
But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul? (Historical, Independently Published)

Brides of Minnesota by Lena Nelson Dooley — Follow a Swedish family’s journey as they settle in Minnesota where each brother seeks a living—andwife. (Historical from Barbour Publishing)



Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert — When the dead body of an overdosed teen turns up next to Tess Spencer’s mom’s trailer, it’ll take a miracle to keep Tess from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs. (Mystery, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman — The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they? (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)



Holiday Secrets by Susan Sleeman — When his ex is thrust into the crosshairs of a deadly syndicate, FBI agent Gavin McKade will do whatever it takes to protect her. Even work the case with his stubborn sheriff dad. As if protecting Lexie from professional killers isn’t difficult enough, the unlikely reunion has rekindled their complicated romantic connection. But if Gavin can’t untangle Lexie from this dangerous web, the blurring line between duty and love may not matter…because this Christmas could be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



The Redemption of Jedidiah Pinkney by J.R. Pitts — A crippled and bullied young boy finds redemption and healing after an encounter with Jesus.(Speculative from Ambassador International)



What books are on your Christmas list either to give or receive?


More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Note: This list is compiled from those books registered by ACFW member authors on Fiction Finder and reprinted with permission of ACFW.

I have received no compensation for this post and have no material connection with any product(s) mentioned. Embedded links are strictly for the convenience of my readers.

Seriously Write: How To Write Over the Holidays by Jaime Jo Wright


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

How does a writer find the stamina and/or the discipline to write over the holidays? That’s a tricky question. Family flying in, dinners to prepare for, Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, grandkids, kids, kids-kids-kids, etc., things can get quite harried! So what do I do, as a writer, with a deadline barreling down on me? 

Author Jaime Jo Wright visits on the Seriously Write Blog today to discuss the ways in which she copes with meeting a deadline during the holidays.


What helps you get through the holidays while meeting your word count goals?