Seriously Write: Write What You Don’t Know (Part Two) by Melanie Dobson


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

When I first started writing fiction, I was often told to “write what I know,” but I quickly realized that I don’t know that much, at least not enough to sustain a career as a novelist. 

Author Melanie Dobson is back on the Seriously Write blog today and sharing Part Two of “Write What You Don’t Know.” She concludes with her most important tips regarding novel research.


Do you have additional tips for research?






Strong and Courageous with Zoe M. McCarthy


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Today, I welcome my guest for the September Strong and Courageous post: Zoe M. Carthy. She’s relating her experience with a new endeavor—teaching a writing course—and how we can keep from “succumbing to anxieties.” Welcome, Zoe!


Zoe M. McCarthy_Headshot

Zoe M. McCarthy

Last year, my nonfiction book on writing was in the publishing process. My editor and I brainstormed things I could do to help writers learn about my book. Teaching an ACFW Course online came up. I’d never taught an online course before, but I could do that. I’d use the material from the book that I’ve taught at ACFW Virginia Conferences and other venues.

In the spring of 2017, I submitted an application to teach a course in June 2018. Would prestigious ACFW with over 2000 worldwide members think my proposal worthy? I was a little surprised when the acceptance came soon after I submitted the proposal.

On my calendar, I scrolled forward to April 2018 and entered the task to turn my face-to-face workshop into an online course. No worries. The course was a year away.

When April 2018 arrived. I perused many of ACFW’s April Course posts, looking for pointers for leading my June course. And that’s when the enormity of what I’d signed up for sank in. Sending out two lessons a week for four weeks was a snap. What petrified me was that I’d be on call to read exercise responses and comment on every one for thirty days.

Now that the course was fast approaching, questions nipped at my bravado. How many of the 2,000 ACFW members would sign up? How would I keep them all straight, their names, their intro information, and their stories? Would they find what I taught little help and drop out? Was I qualified to critique their responses? These questions weren’t my only source of fear.

I had chosen June because the community Bible study I teach, the prayer shawl ministry I host, and other regular meetings stop gathering during the summer. Although I’d vowed to keep my calendar free of commitments during June, important events invaded my calendar. Would I let course participants down because I couldn’t keep up?

When fear rose, I reminded myself I’d been praying about the course and excellence. I told myself my job was to help course participants improve their scenes. To have a personal experience with each, I’d make a roster of participants that included nuggets they shared in their introductions. I’d respond to every email I received from the group no matter what happened in my days. (One day, I lost electricity and drove to another city’s library.) If participants needed more examples, I would supply them. If their exercise responses needed help, I’d humbly give suggestions. I’d give each the encouragement I’d covet if I were in their position. I’d pray.

And those activities are what I did.

Feedback during and at the end of the course and an invitation to teach another course, assured me prayer and sticking to my commitments was a good combination for success.

So, when fear rises we must remember God is for us and adhering the best we can to our prayerfully made plan for excellence works much better than succumbing to anxieties.

In times of fear, do you remind yourself that your job is to do what you’re responsible for and let God handle the rest?



The Putting Green Whisperer

Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she ThePuttingGreenWhisperer_w11920_680caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?


A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. She is the author of The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress, Gift of the Magpie, and Calculated Risk. Believing opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. Zoe and her husband live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Book link:

Social media links: Website and blog:

Seriously Write: Write What You Don’t Know (Part One) by Melanie Dobson


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

When I first started writing fiction, I was often told to “write what I know,” but I quickly realized that I don’t know that much, at least not enough to sustain a career as a novelist. 

Join us on the Seriously Write blog today and read Part One of author Melanie Dobson’s post “Write What You Don’t Know.” She shares the first three of five tips regarding novel research.


Which of these means for research do you use?


In the Stack: End of Summer Mini Book Reviews


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

I’ve read several books this summer I haven’t reviewed here, so I thought I’d give you three mini reviews of recently-released novels. Genre-wise, it’s a smorgasbord.

Her Place in Time – I received this time slip novella by Stephenia H. McGee as a giveaway. I had never read anything by her but was drawn to the premise and by the beauty of the cover (created by Evelyne Labelle, who’s doing the cover for my upcoming novella!).

Even without the time-travel plot, I was hooked on Lena’s life and death plight and moved by her mother’s fear. This is a gripping story of love across time—a story set in a real location with a Civil War backdrop. I loved the bittersweet ending.


The MasterpieceThe Masterpiece – Roman Velasco is one of those main characters who should be listed as an antagonist. He’s a brilliant, tortured artist, vulgar, and unconcerned about how he treats others. Reading the book is like watching the train wreck that is Roman’s life, unable to look away for the hope that some good will come of it. Grace Moore is a timid doormat with steel padding and the only one who can work for Roman.

In my mind, there was as much wrong with this book as there was right. I felt for Roman with his past, as well as, Grace with her past, but wasn’t sure how Ms. Rivers would redeem Roman. It wasn’t the best or most scripturally-sound way.  Plus, he did such a 180 that I wasn’t sure how he could appeal to Grace as one personality and also as another. For me, the book took too much time between the black moment and the end, though I do understand why. Even with all that, the story held me captive through its fascination and the depth of the characters. 

Thirst of Steel – What do I say about this third and last novel in Ronie Kendig’s The Tox Files other than “Wow. Wow. Wow.”? I’ve wanted Ram’s story and I got it—not exactly what I expected (though there will be no spoilers here). Frankly, at this writing, I just finished the book and am still processing, not sure how I feel about the ending. Emotionally wrung out for one thing. Actually, I’m not sure I liked it, though it was done well.

There is so much going on in this story, and it all takes place at the speed of sound. I’ll admit, at times, I found it hard to keep up. I marvel at Ms. Kendig’s plotting ability…so complex, yet it draws in and sweeps the reader along on a wild ride. As for the Christian aspect, Tzaddik and company baffle me. Angels? It bothered me that I thought of reincarnation. Maybe I missed something that someone can better explain. That aside, if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll find this one as powerful, as moving, definitely as tense…if not more so. Since Leif (Runt) held such a prominent place in this story, I’m wondering if the author has something in store for him. Hmm… If you haven’t read the first two books, do NOT start with this one!

What’s been your favorite summer read? Why?



Seriously Write: Procrastination vs. Discipline by Jan Drexler


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

I love to write. I love to revise and edit. I love the feeling when God gives me the exact word I need to make a sentence sing.

BUT… Some days I’ll do just about anything else other than write. Do you have that same problem?

Author Jan Drexler visits the Seriously Write blog today to talk about that dreaded “P” word—procrastination—and your secret weapon to battle it.


Do you find it hard to discipline yourself to write? What methods (or weapons!) have you found to be most effective?