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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Neither Pro-Lifers Nor Pro-Choicers Have the Answer

         Since the Trump/Hillary debate moment on abortion, many moms have been sharing their stories about babies who died inside of them during the third trimester, saying that late term abortion laws endanger mothers. Pro-lifers have been responding with insistent demands that pro-life laws are perfectly written as is. I've found the social media debates very triggering because I have a four month old, and those stories so easily could have been me.

My son, Baby "Chip"

         In April of this year, at 24 weeks gestation, the doctors discovered that Baby Chip's umbilical cord  had absent bloodflow. Without blood, babies die. The only solution is an emergency c-section and NICU. One problem, at only 16 ounces, babies often die in NICU.
    The doctors suggested taking Baby Chip out that week and gave him a 1 to 5 chance of survival after months of NICU and probably severe delays from prematurity. Or I could choose to keep Baby Chip inside and he very well might die from lack of blood. I chose to keep Baby Chip inside.
     The waiting was torture. I remember counting kicks, counting movements, and wondering every hour between my often thrice weekly appointments if my son still lived.
      I now have a beautiful four-month-old baby with no delays, so I'm thrilled with my decision. It could have turned out very differently though. Either way, as Baby Chip's mother and a mentally competent person, keeping Baby Chip inside me was my decision to make, not some government board's.
    From 20 weeks to about 27 weeks gestation as doctors ran tests and tried to discover what was wrong with Baby Chip, they often threw out the term "incompatible with life." The point of the tests was to discover if Baby Chip had some sort of genetic abnormality which would make it impossible for him to survive outside the womb. Praise God, the tests showed he didn't have anything like that. The doctors warned me though, that should they discover that Baby Chip was incompatible with life, I'd have to make a choice. Did I want to eke out every hour I could with Baby Chip, or would I let him pass sooner rather than later?
     I had a truly horrid pregnancy, nausea the whole time etc. to the point that I was unable to be present for my 4-year-old or husband the way I should have been. If the doctors told me that Baby Chip was incompatible with life, I may have chosen to induce labor early and let him take his first and last breath at 26 or 27 weeks rather than 40 weeks. Parents of minor children who are critically injured by a car accident, brain dead, and only able to function on life support choose what hour they remove the life support. Don't mothers have the right to choose what hour to remove the life support of a placenta for their dying baby? Under many proposed pro-life laws, they don't have that right.
      Pro-lifers like to think that every abortion is a 40-something-married mom with a healthy baby and an SUV. They like to think that a stroke of a pen will turn a would be baby's death into a Walton family. Pro-lifers would like to believe every situation is like that, because then the choice would be easy.
    On the other hand, pro-choicers talk like every single abortion happens because the mother's about to lose her life from a baby who's dying anyway. They'd like to believe that,  because, if so, the choice would be easy.
      No matter what our political orientation, we make up little lies to eliminate the hard decisions. One pro-choice lie I've heard is that babies don't feel pain. Give me a break. I suffered every day knowing my baby was getting starved in-utero from lack of nutrient-rich bloodflow. I knew he was hungry and suffering and there was nothing I could do about it. It would have been easier for me to believe Baby Chip didn't feel pain, but that wasn't true.
My son in-utero

      A pro-life lie I've heard is that doctors are often, even usually wrong. All the tests will say your baby is "incompatible with life", but actually he'll be born perfectly healthy. An amniocentesis is as accurate as a blood draw, genetically speaking. After the amnio, blood DNA test, and 50 gajillion ultrasounds, doctors knew more about my unborn son, than they did about me after thirty years of doctor visits. It would be easier to believe that all children are born healthy because doctors don't know what they're talking about, but it's not true.
      Another pro-choice lie I've heard is that unborn children aren't really babies. Come on. We've all seen sonograms. Even the pregnant 14-year-olds I counseled who ultimately chose abortion still told me in each therapy session that their first trimester pregnancy was a baby. You're as smart as a 14-year-old. Admit it's a baby. It would be easier to believe that the baby who is complicating a woman's life, perhaps even putting her life in danger, is just a fetus, but it's not true.
      A pro-life lie I've heard is that only life or death matters, not suffering. Let's disregard maternal suffering. You're in a domestically violent relationship and getting hospitalized for abuse?--so what, you're not dead. We don't need to change the laws. Those parental rights we fought for mean a child is getting educationally neglected and yet no social worker shows up? Not my problem. No one's dead. We don't have to make hard decisions to stop this suffering. That's a lie. Even when it doesn't result in death, suffering matters.
        For example, hawkish types often post the death toll of the Iraq war. It's a smallish number compared to a lot of wars. See, the cost of war was small, they say. What about all those missing limbs from IEDs though? Four years ago, I met a man missing both arms and legs from the war. What about those with PTSD? What about those kids who didn't get to see Daddy or Mommy for months and years at a time? What about those marriages which broke because of the war? It would be easier to believe that the cost of war is small, but it isn't. I know war comes at a cost, you see, because I'm a military spouse.
my soldier on our wedding day

         One of the biggest lies I've heard from both the pro-life and pro-choice camp is that life matters because it is innocent. This is why some liberal groups focus so hard on saving the endangered random bird while disregarding troubled teens in foster care. This is why some conservative groups focus so hard on passing laws to save an unborn child while turning their backs on laws which could save the mother whose life is at risk from domestic violence.
         As a mental health counselor, I've worked in jails, sex offender programs, substance abuse recovery, and mental health facilities. In my work, I've rubbed shoulders with some of the least innocent in our society.
          Often times, I'm the one who gets the client who is thinking of suicide and I'm tasked with the job of convincing him or her to choose to keep on living because their life matters. How do I convince this man or woman sitting in front of me that they matter? I'm not presented with a lot of material to work with.
         I can't tell him, "oh, look at all the career rungs you've climbed, that makes you matter." For the last thirty years, he's been living on the streets holding up a cardboard sign.
          I can't tell her, "but think of all the loved ones who will miss you if you die, that makes you matter." She grew up in foster care, her friends are drug dealers, her last three boyfriends beat her up, and the man she sees most often is the pervert next door who pays her for sex.
     So I look into their eyes and I tell them, "you matter because you are you." I mean every word I say. Life doesn't matter because it is innocent. Life matters because it is human and, I believe, made in the very image of an all-powerful God. It would be easier to believe that those who have made bad choices no longer matter so we can just focus on saving the babies and the animals, but it isn't true.
     Even when we see evidence that our little lies are wrong, we cling to them, because they make life easier. Without our lies, life is gruesomely difficult. I wish there were easy answers to the brokenness in this world. I wish I could pass a piece of legislation that would prevent all men, women, and children everywhere from ever experiencing death, pain, or suffering. Newsflash pro-lifers and pro-choicers: no government can do that.
       Suffering, death, and disease will haunt us at every turn in this world. If we're to create a culture of life, we have to first acknowledge that we will often be put into situations where we can't save everybody. We have to accept that and we have to work from that premise to save as many as we can.
      What about people who just genuinely hate other human beings and don't value any life at all, you ask? Those people exist and they are horrid human beings. If you're reading this post though, I don't think you're one of those. I think no matter what side of the aisle you come from, all the pain and suffering in this world hurt you as much as they hurt me.
         If you and I can drop the political labels for a moment, I think we can try to work together for solutions that truly minimize suffering, death, and disease for all people, guilty or innocent, man or woman, unborn or born.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Free Clean (PG 13 or less) Romance Books for Book Bloggers

Book bloggers make the world go around. Or at least they make authors' worlds go around because book bloggers are who post the insightful reviews that allow readers to find authors' books.

One of the perks of being a book blogger is free books. One of the downsides of being a book blogger is a ton of authors asking you to review a book of theirs which you have zero interest in reading.

As an author, I've teamed up with some authors to create a Facebook group geared toward book bloggers who like to read clean-ish (PG-13 or less) romance novels.

Bloggers, want to take control over your review requests and pick the free books YOU want to review? Search no further. In my new group (, you can look through files of romance novels sorted by subgenre and request the ones you want to review. No being spammed by authors, ever.

The group launched today and we're actively recruiting bloggers. Newer/smaller-audience bloggers very welcome. Check out the group here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Anne Garboczi Evans' Colorado Voter Guide

Hey Colorado Voters,

  Been mulling over how you will vote this year? I'm sure you have. Care two cents about what initiatives and candidates I endorse? Well, I'm not so sure about that. :) For what it's worth though, here's how I suggest voting this year.

Amendment T (vote NO!!): This ballot initiative would make it illegal to force those convicted of crimes to do unpaid work. This would likely make assigning community service as punishment and jail work programs illegal. As a counselor who has worked in the juvenile jail system, I believe STRONGLY that community service is a wonderful alternative to jail time. Why make juvenile offenders sit behind bars, falling behind in their academics and making bad friends, when they could be doing something good for their community through community service? Far from outlawing jail labor programs, I think we need a lot more of them. Jail labor programs give offenders job skills that they can use once released, thus lowering the possibility that they will re-offend.
    Honestly, I think the biggest problem with incarceration in America is that it's very expensive for the community and basically just sentences offenders to sit in jail and be bored to death. I would prefer much shorter sentences and much more forced work time so that offenders can contribute to the community and learn important job skills that they will be able to use to better their lives.

Amendment U (vote YES): This amendment would eliminate property taxes for certain properties worth less than $6000. Many say that this will actually save the government money since taxes on those cheap properties cost more to collect, as far as using stamps and paperwork, than they are worth. I'm all for less taxes. Also, I'm reminded of how our insurance sometimes sends us bill notifications for $1.25 or other small price tags. With what they're spending on stamps and paper, our insurance would save money not collecting that bill. So to with county and state governments. Save the trees. Vote YES on Amendment U. :)

Amendment 69 (vote NO): This amendment would get the government more involved in healthcare and raise taxes by an exorbitant amount across the board. As a voter with libertarian leanings, there's no way I'm going to vote for increased government involvement in our lives. And I certainly have no desire to pay a ton more taxes.

Amendment 70 (vote NO): This amendment would increase minimum wage gradually until it reaches $12. I do have sympathy for the arguments in favor of this. It's pretty impossible to support a family on current minimum wage. That said, I have a master's degree and I've often worked for $12 an hour or only a few dollars more. Do those with minimum job skills really deserve the same pay as I do with a master's degree? Also, my libertarian leanings make me want less government involvement in my life, not more. I think what really needs to be fixed in our awful economy is wages for mid-level jobs. That way we can leave the minimum wage jobs for highschoolers who don't need to support a family, and other wage earners would be able to move up the ranks and make a lot more than $12 an hour.

Amendment 71 (vote YES): This amendment would make it more difficult for CO voters to get stuff on the ballot. Sick of reading my voter's guide yet? If so, vote yes on Amendment 71 and next year there won't be near as much stuff on the ballot. :) But seriously, all these amendments on the ballot are to the CO constitution, our governing document. We don't want every voter fad set in stone in the constitution where we can't change it and must live with it forever.

Amendment 72 (vote NO): This amendment raises taxes on cigarettes. Smoking is bad for your health and I wish everyone would quit now. That said, it's mostly the poor who are addicted to cigarettes so this is really a tax hike on the poor. I don't think in this economy we should be in the business of making the poor pay higher taxes.

Proposition 106 (vote NO): Physician assisted suicide for those with only 6 months or less to live. Though I am pro-life, I do understand the appeal of this. These people have a terminal diagnosis. They'd like to live, but they can't. Their only goal is to avoid a little pain. It's not like they're actually choosing to die. Their diagnosis chose that.  I'd be the last person to judge if a patient chose to decline say life support or a feeding tube and allow their lethal diagnosis to go faster rather than slower. That said, should we really get physicians involved in the death business?
          Whether I condone it or not, those with terminal illnesses can already easily take their life if they so choose. (Suicide is all too readily available, as I know as a mental health counselor trying to prevent it.) I don't like the idea of getting physicians involved with the death business at any level. It's a slippery slope from physicians saying here's a pill you MAY commit suicide since you're dying anyway, to physicians saying here's a pill we REFUSE to give you any more medical care because you're dying anyway.

Proposition 107 (vote NO): Restore open presidential primaries, rather than the convoluted caucus system we suffer under now. While I agree that the CO caucus system is supremely annoying, it does save the state money and open primaries are what gave us Donald Trump, (or as my 4-year-old fondly refers to him, Trump the Monster). So no, I don't want open primaries.

Proposition 108 (vote NO): This amendment would allow independents to vote in the primaries of either the R's or D's i.e. make Colorado an open primary state. While I respect the right of independents to take part in the primary process, and I think primary voting is very important, this initiative would cost the state as well as counties hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, CO voters who chose to register as independents did that knowing they wouldn't be able to vote in the primaries, so I kind of doubt CO independents are all that interested in voting in the primaries anyway. Additionally, may I remind you that open primaries are what elected Trump. :) All in all, though I did like aspects of this proposition, I don't think it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal Senator CO (vote Daryl Glenn, R): I don't like the man. I think he's all "red meat" with very little substance and I disagree with him quite a bit. But I believe in checks and balances and since at this point Hillary winning is pretty much a foregone conclusion, I think we need a Republican house and senate. Just look at how well the country did economically with Bill Clinton as president and a Republican house and senate. Also, given the lousy job congress has been doing, I'm sick of incumbents and ready for some new blood.

7th Congressional District, Federal House of Representatives (vote Athophonapulous, R): I personally dislike Perlmutter (D) since he never answered my emails when I contacted him about foreign policy concerns as a military spouse. I also dislike how he supports foreign aid and basically every government program out there. I'm sorry, but I don't think my tax dollars need to go to a Senate pay raise or to bail out corporate executives who makes hundreds of thousands more dollars than I could ever dream of making.
   George Athophonapulous (R) is an interesting guy. He's the son of immigrants, served four tours in Iraq, and has multiple sclerosis. He says he wants to reduce the size of government and I like that. I'm not sure I like his foreign policy or other parts of his platform, at all. That said, a guy who did 4 tours in Iraq, and is fighting MS, and still has the drive to want to run for office deserves a chance, I think. I'm going to vote Athophonapulous, at least for the next two years. Though I don't like everything he stands for, again I think a R house and senate would be a good check and balance on a Hillary Clinton presidency. Also, ditto what I said about Daryl Glenn and throwing out the incumbents.

CO senator district 19 (vote Laura Woods): I like Laura Woods. I'm her friend on Facebook and my husband has met her. She comes across as a genuinely reasonable and smart person, something we need more of in politics.

Presidential (vote 3rd party):
         I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton because I feel like her actions in the government smack of "pay to play" and corruption and I do not feel she has any concern for our troops. I also dislike her plans to grow the government.
         I'm not voting for Trump because I do not think he has the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief and deal with delicate negotiations with Russia, etc. without turning things into WWIII. I know pro-life vs. pro-choice Supreme Court justices is a huge issue this election year, and is the reason some Republicans who are disgusted with Trump are still choosing to vote for him. While I do consider myself pro-life, I don't think starting WWIII and getting our troops unnecessarily killed can in anyway be construed as saving lives. Additionally, Trump is so all over the place with policy, I don't think anyone knows exactly what he would do. The only position he's stood staunch on for the last five decades is his right to sexually assault women.
     This year I'm voting for whatever third party candidate is polling highest on election day in the hopes that no major party candidate gets a majority of electoral votes and the house of representatives gets to decide.

      Even if you disagree with everything else I've written, I hope you listen to this next part. Please vote. We live in a country that allows us to vote. My husband deployed for a year and missed our firstborn son's first words, first steps, first haircut, and so many other things all so you could have the freedom to vote. Please don't throw it away. VOTE. Vote your conscience. Vote for freedom. VOTE.

Friday, October 7, 2016

7 Reasons to Keep it Real on Social Media

judge not, lest you be judged ;)

       Ever written a Facebook status or posted an Instagram picture that had no bearing on your actual reality just so you could look good? I know I have.
    Thomas Jefferson once said: "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." The modern translation of this quote might be, "You know more about the friend you haven't seen in twenty years, than the friend who've you only kept up with through Facebook."
       Social media wouldn't have to be this way. We could all start telling the truth on Facebook. Here are seven reasons why it's to your advantage to keep it real on social media.


1.  Your opinion matters most. By lying on social media, you're signaling you care a whole lot more about other people's opinions than you should. Who cares about other people's opinions? Be yourself and let them start worrying about your opinion, rather than visa versa. In other words, live the life you want, not the one other people want you to want. Life's too short to live any other way.

2. Fake joy is only skin deep. You can convince the rest of the world your life is perfect. Or you can work on actually making your life perfect. One pursuit will only detract from the other.

3. You're selling false goods. Lying about your life not only messes with your head; it messes with others' heads. Think how guilty you will feel when all your Facebook friends buy two dozen rats because you have convinced them through your photo-shopped Facebook pics that the impulse purchase your husband made for your two-year-old that weekend you were gone at the women's retreat really did enhance your quality of life. ;)

4. Denial is bad. If you spend all your time pretending the bad things in your life don't exist, i.e. the Facebook version of denial, you'll never actually fix the things in your life that need fixing.

5. Lies are bad. Lying is morally wrong. Didn't we all learn that in Sunday School?

6. Have some self-respect. By faking things on social media, you're really showing you lack self-respect in your accomplishments. Your life doesn't actually stink all that bad. Embrace your life. Maybe, wonder of wonders, your friends might like the real you.

7. Everyone knows the truth anyway. If the last six reasons don't motivate you to bring a little honesty to your social media profiles, think of this: you're not actually fooling anyone. We all know Facebook code. Here's the translation tool.

FB post: "My husband is amazing."
Real life translation: "We had a fight last night and I want to make up." Don't you miss the old days where people could kiss and make up behind closed doors? ;)

FB post: "My wife is so hot."
Real life translation: "My highschool ex just friended me on FB and I really want her to know I'm over her."

FB post: "Look at my well-behaved kids."
Real life translation: "My kids tried to burn the house down last night. I narrowly stopped them. At this rate, I'll have no hair left by the time I'm 40."

FB post: "See my perfect Pinterest recipe."
Real life translation: "Pinterest is about the only thing going right in my life right now."

FB post: "Dolled up selfie."
Real life translation: "Ever since my boyfriend cheated on me, I've felt insecure about my looks."

FB post: "My kids are adorable."
Real life translation: "SOS. SOS. Can someone PLEASE bring me a bottle of wine and a babysitter?"

On a scale of 1(lies) to 10(honesty), how honest are you on social media? Comment below...if you dare. ;)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to Become a Successful Writer: Part 5--Josette Downey

      Here's the final installment in my guest blogpost series, how to become a successful writer. I hope you've learned something. I know I have. A big thank you to all the authors who have participated and especially today's guest, Josette Downey. She brings up the excellent point that success as an author isn't just about sales numbers, but about being able to write the stories that you want to write. Read how she succeeded in that goal below.
     Succeeding at writing is always something I want to know more about, so if you're an author and have a guest blogpost to share on this topic, feel free to drop me an email,
     I apologize for being so late posting part 5 of this series. I wish I had some wonderful excuse, but the truth is I've been whiling away my hours doing this.

Ok, just joking. My husband put that octopus on Baby Chip. You can tell we're responsible parents, right? ;)

Writing the Stories On Your Heart
By Josette Downey

I remember the day clearly. I was in church singing, swaying to the music and feeling lost. I had just lost a job I had had for three years, and now was working temp - wondering where my life was heading. My novel had recently been edited and proofed in hopes of seeking traditional publishing, but not one part of me wanted to start submitting to agents or  trying to find a publisher. It just seemed like too much work for little reward. I don’t remember what led me to utter the prayer that  I said, but something must have. In that moment, I asked God to lead me on the writing path he had for me. That single prayer led me to accept the path I’m on now. But if I’m honest with myself I had stepped on that path a long  time ago.
The path began in a small military town in Havelock, a town I now just drive by to get to the beach. See something happened in that town.  An event that would shape my writing. Writing that attempts to reclaim an innocence lost before I even knew what innocence meant.  But God didn’t want me to focus on the innocence, but forgiveness.
If you read my novels, a theme that runs through them is forgiveness. Not only for the hero but also the antagonist - no matter how grave the offense.
I believe that God allowed that horrible early event to happen in my life, so as a writer he could use me to write stories that would remind Christians, we don’t get to set the limits of God’s grace. And no matter the offense, we as Christians are called to forgive.
Shortly after that prayer during church, God put the idea of self-publishing on amazon into my head. So I published my first book A Time to Say Goodbye and soon I followed it with several others including my American Prince series. Now I can see the wisdom of such a move. Why? I could be wrong, but I don’t believe my American Prince
series would have ever been accepted by the CBA. A book series that challenges Christians to forgive, a wife beating/ murderer, a character God wanted me to turn into a great preacher for God. A man much like our beloved Apostle Paul.

Josette Downey  is the Christian romance author of
A Time to Say Goodbye, The Secret Son and Bonds of Tradition. She has a master’s degree in English from East Carolina University, and currently works for a premier test scoring company. She is the mother of a precocious six-year-old girl, who enjoys bugs, snakes and superman.  She enjoys southern cooking, reading and exploring emerging technology, but is best defined by her devotion to her faith and the empowerment of women in the modern world.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to Become a Successful Writer--Part 4: Katie Robles

When I first read Author Katie Robles guest blogpost, I have to admit I did a double take on the post's title. If Katie's book is as vivacious and witty as her following blogpost, and I'm sure it is, I'm eager to read it. Read more about her path to publication below.

A Sexy Soupy Path to Publication
by Katie Robles

If you had told me ten years ago that I would publish nonfiction, I would have laughed in your face. If you had told me that it would be a diet book, I would have rolled on the floor in hysterics. You see, I rarely read nonfiction (I find it mostly boring) and have never been a diet girl (because diets rarely involve butter or brownies). Ten years ago I wrote my first novel, a fantasy. Over the next few years I wrote three more novels, all romances of varying subgenres. I attended a writers conference and acquired an agent—or, rather, he acquired me. At the conference that year there was a big emphasis on blogging. If you want to be a writer, you must blog. Blogging is the future! Platform is key to success! I came home and started a blog the next day.
I had no idea what an author’s blog should look like, especially a yet-to-be-published author, but the year before I had lost over twenty pounds and my cup ranneth over with healthy living tips, encouragement, and ways to make weight loss fun. (That’s right, I said fun! Read the blog.) I started a blog called Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating. I figured I could learn this blogging thing and later use those skills to start an author blog. I posted once a week and learned as I went. Some weeks I was brimming with ideas and other weeks I slumped in front of the computer hoping inspiration could be found at the bottom of my coffee mug.
Two years passed. My agent and I had nibbles, but no bites on the novels. I gathered two years worth of Sex Soup posts, edited them into a book by the same title, wrote a proposal to go with it, and shopped it around at a writers conference. I got lots of positive feedback, but no interest from editors. One month later my agent emailed with good news: I had been offered a contract from a small publishing house. The book Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives is coming out this summer. This is not where I thought I’d be when I started writing ten years ago, but I love where I am.

What works for me:

Beta readers you can trust – Before I submit any articles, short stories, novels, etc. I often have my parents read them and give feedback. Parents as beta readers doesn’t work for everyone, but mine are avid readers and aren’t afraid to critique my work honestly, so it works for us.

Writers conferences – I’ve only been to the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, but I’ve been four times. Conferences give you a look at how the industry works, gives you leads for writing opportunities you might not have considered before (devotionals, articles, etc.-some of which pay, imagine that!), gets you face to face with agents and editors, and connects you to a community of fellow writers.

Blogging – Let me clarify here. Blogging ultimately led to publication for me, but when I signed the contract, I had less than 500 followers, so it wasn’t my platform that attracted the publisher. The value I see in blogging is the discipline of writing a succinct, catchy, interesting post every week. In short, it improves your writing skills. Is an online presence beneficial to writers? Yes. Am I convinced that you must have thousands of followers to succeed as a writer? No. That might be wishful thinking since I’m releasing a book and I don’t have thousands of followers, but it is what it is.

Letting my work breathe – once I have a rough draft revised once or twice, I try to step away from it for a couple weeks or months and then come at it with fresh eyes to do the final revising.

Love what you do – writing is work and success is not guaranteed. It won’t always feel fun, but if you write what you love (and/or learn to love writing what sells and to write it in your own unique voice), then there is joy in the work.

Katie Robles spends her days raising four sons, teaching part time at the YMCA, writing, gardening, and sneaking vegetables into baked goods and entrees. Her blog Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives can be found at

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to Become a Successful Writer--Part 3: Beth Ziarnek

I'm excited to welcome a fellow author from my literary agency, Beth Ann Ziarnik, for part three in my How to Become a Successful Writer series. She has quite the inspiring success story. Read more below and check out her novel here:

Making a Dream Come True
By Beth Ann Ziarnik

When on January 2 this year, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas released my first novel, Her Deadly Inheritance, I was thrilled. At last I reached my elusive dream of becoming an author of romantic suspense—my favorite genre.

What followed astounded me.

Readers raved about it, saying they couldn’t put it down. I would say, “Really?” As it remained on the Amazon bestseller lists for months (and at this writing still is), again, I’d say, “Really?”
If these things entitle me to be named a “successful author,” I confess I did not achieve this alone. Hundreds of friends and professionals helped me during the many years I worked toward learning the fiction writing craft. When Her Deadly Inheritance debuted, hundreds more joyfully helped to promote it. I will be forever grateful.
If you are an aspiring writer or book author, here is my best advice on how to realize your dream of publication. They made a difference in my life. You may find them helpful, too.
BELIEVE in yourself and the writing gift God has given to you. Work hard toward making your manuscript the best it can be. Read and study those books and magazines on writing. Take courses online, at your local college, through the mail. Read the kinds of books and articles you would like to write. Most of all--write, write, and write some more! Reach for excellence.
NETWORK by joining a local writers’ or critique group. If you can’t find one, start one. You’d be surprised how many writers live and dream near you. I helped organize Word & Pen Christian Writers which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and still attend its meetings. Participate in online writers groups like American Christian Fiction Writers. Encourage other writers and let them encourage you. You will grow much faster toward publication.
Go to writers’ conferences and seminars. I try to attend at least one each year—such a worthwhile investment of time and money. This year it was Write-to-Publish where I was named “Writer of the Year” and the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference.
You will have fun, make many wonderful writer friends, and become a familiar face to agents, editors, and publishers. Through attending conferences, I connected with my agent Jim Hart, my book’s publisher Eddie Jones, and my editors Rowena Kuo and Christine Richards.
PERSEVERE. No matter how long it takes to achieve your dream, don’t quit! I had to cling to this piece of advice, especially towards the end when sorely tempted to stop trying. If I had quit, I would’ve missed seeing my dream come true by mere months. The closer you get to publication, the harder it is to hang in there. But don’t quit. Keep honing your craft and marketing your manuscripts, and one day you will hold your published work in your hands.
PRAY and ask others to pray as you work at your writing and marketing. Each week I send reports to my prayer team, telling them what I’ve accomplished and what I intend to work on so that they can support me in prayer. In my humble opinion, every writer needs a caring prayer team. Writing can be a lonely pursuit.

BIO: A long-time fan of romantic suspense, Beth Ann Ziarnik offers her first novel with all the twists and turns, cliffhangers and romantic tension she and readers have come to love. She is a co-founder of Word & Pen Christian Writers in Northeast Wisconsin and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition to her 450 published pieces (several included in anthologies), she is the author of Love With Shoes On, her ten-year devotional column about love in action and based on 1 Corinthians 13.