Seriously Write: by Dana Mentink


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Who says we can’t learn from animals? Not author Dana Mentink. Today, on the Seriously Write blog she reveals some of the things a terrier has taught her about writing.


Have you ever learned anything special from a furbaby?

A Life in the Day of … Jennifer Hallmark


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Writing takes a great deal of mental energy and, frankly, sometimes we can feel burned out or over-extended when it’s combined with the rest of life. Sometimes, we need a break, and sometimes that break can last longer than we would like it. Author Jennifer Hallmark shares her experience and how the life in her days are going at the moment. Glad to have you, Jennifer!

Jennifer Hallmark

Hi, Sandy! Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog. The last seven months have been very different for me in comparison to my first eleven years of taking my writing from a hobby to a career.

Like many writers, I write non-fiction for my blogs and articles for others in addition to short stories and novels. I’ve had no trouble over the years switching back and forth until September of 2016.

I’d just returned from the ACFW conference in Nashville, one that someone had paid for me to attend. You can read that story here. So after a wonderful conference experience which blessed me tremendously, you would think I’d be filled and ready to take on the world.

Except when I returned, my fiction writing dried up. It seemed like my imagination had stayed behind in Nashville.

Why? I couldn’t figure it out. After striving, pushing, bullying myself, and everything I could think of, I gave up and decided to take time off through Christmas. I would seek God (which was the word I’d focused on all year) and get my act together.

And slow down enough to give time for God to speak in a still, small voice to my struggling heart. What did I learn?

  • I was physically tired. Our family had several major events that took a lot out of me over 2016 including my stepfather’s death, my Mom selling her house and moving, my son’s wedding and a lengthy trip to my niece’s wedding.
  • I was emotionally spent. All of the above events pulled on my emotions. Combine that with several intense years before and you see why my energy was sapped.
  • I was spiritually dry. Though I attend a great church, I’d missed a lot because of all the above events and my devotion time had been hit or miss at best. ACFW helped me realize this dryness because my favorite time there was spent in praise and worship and in the prayer room.

The time off helped me and I’d like to be able to say that in January, the well of fiction once again bubbled up and overflowed. But it hasn’t. There is a small stream and I’m thankful for each day that I have something to say in my fiction world.

I keep moving forward, writing longhand for a change. When I transfer it to the computer, more words come and I feel at peace. So if you’re struggling like me, take heart.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 NIV

I know this is another season in my life and at some point it will pass. Until then, I write when I can and rest in God. And it is enough.

As a writer, have you ever experienced what Jennifer has gone through—feeling emotionally and physically spent to the point where writing became more difficult than usual? How did you handle it? If you’re not a writer, you’re not immune to those feelings when life gets busy. Any solutions you’ve found that work?


Jennifer Hallmark has published articles, short stories and been part of four book compilations, A Dozen Apologies, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, Unlikely Merger, and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. Jennifer’s website and the group blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

Book Review: When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

(I can totally see Dan Avery through that cover photo—stiff and super serious.)

When Tides Turn is out and finishes the naval-set stories of Jim, Lillian, and Dan Avery in the Waves of Freedom series.  Readers, don’t even think you’ll finish a Sarah Sundin novel/series without coming away more knowledgeable about World War II. Frankly, you’ll wish you could have read her stories for history class!

Quintessa Beaumont longs to be more than a pretty face. She wants people, especially men, to take her seriously and treat her as someone useful. It doesn’t help that she’s made some poor choices in the romance department in the past, choices Lt. Dan Avery remembers. But Dan is too focused on becoming Admiral Avery to worry about Quintessa, or Tess as she chooses to be called once she makes the decision to join the Navy’s WAVES. 

A figure in white caught her eye—a naval officer with a familiar determined gait. Quintessa’s heart lurched. Dan Avery? What was her roommate’s oldest brother doing here? 

She smoothed her blonde curls but stopped herself. Why bother? The man was already married—to the United States Navy.

Dan grew up too soon and has carried his overblown sense of responsibility into his adult life. All he wants is to be part of the action at sea and to become the naval officer his mentor believes he’s capable of being. When tragedy strikes, it brings with it the realization of what he’s allowed his life to become—all work and no play, none of the Sabbath rest God wants for us.

It would have been easy to find Dan unlikeable. I’ll admit, at first, I had my doubts about him. I’ve liked Quintessa in the previous two books and wanted to see her with someone who would value her. But after a while, I was won over, and by the end, I gave my approval. 😉

There’s a lot going on in this story other than a romance. As Tess fights for respect, she also works to solve the mystery involving her former roommate Yvette, who seems to have gotten mixed up in some type of spying. Tess just isn’t sure which side she’s on. Dan deals with a naval officer from his past who is determined to ruin his career. The themes are strong—self-esteem, ambition, forgiveness, and trusting in God’s plan. And, as usual, the historical setting gives the reader the sense of being transported back in time. 

Bottom line, Ms. Sundin has another hit on her hands! Hmm… Where will she take us next? She mentioned another Avery serving in the Pacific. I wonder.


Seriously Write:


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Are you following your dream as a writer, but feeling discouraged? Author Tamera Lynn Kraft shares with Seriously Write readers why we shouldn’t give up.


Have you ever been tempted to give up on your dream? What helped you to keep going?

Historical Flavor: Where is the Pony Express?


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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express riders left St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California for the west and east, respectively. Its era lasted only a little over a year and a half, but oh my, what an impact! One hundred-fifty-seven years later, in this amazing age of instant communication, its fascination still holds.

I found this video from the Smithsonian to be fun and hope you enjoy it too!

For more information, here’s a good article from the History channel.

Do you have a favorite story—book, movie, TV show—about the Pony Express?