Monday, May 30, 2011

The Five Ingredients To A Good Story: Part Three - Dialogue

Conversations. We all have them. We know the power they have to make us feel uplifted, downtrodden, joyful or angry. But do we know the power conversation, or dialogue, can have in our writing? Basically, it can make or break our novels. Bad dialogue between characters can make our work seem unreal and lifeless.

So how do we make our dialogue come alive? If it seems flat, how do we give our characters distinct voices? I offer several tips below to help improve dialogue between characters, plus two short exercises as an aid in developing this in our writing.

Lastly, reading classic literature that has the gift of excellent dialogue helps us to see how this makes all the difference in making a work of fiction come alive for the reader.


1) What is unsaid is often more poignant than what is said. One common problem, especially with beginning writers, is that they have their characters prattle on and on as if they were in some giant therapy session. In real life people do not do this. Real people will tell bits and pieces about themselves as they live life with the people around them, instead of one huge monologue. All these bits and pieces tie together and by the end of the story they have formed a real person, just as if meeting a new acquaintance in your life. Having characters tell small amounts here and there have the added benefit of building suspense. They leave us hanging on their every word while we wait for more to be revealed.

2) Be historically accurate. So often, a historical novel will be ruined by having a character use language that would never have been used during that time period. This happens in movies all the time as well. For example, a character in Regency England would never use the word “okay” even though I have often seen this done in novels. This can be eliminated by completing accurate research so that characters speak in the era in which you are writing. Read historically accurate books that use the common verbiage of that day. But take heed, there is no need to go overboard and write so the modern reader will find your words cumbersome. Just be aware of the words the characters speak. Using modern slang in a historical work of fiction will not drawn in or captivate your reader into the time period in which you are writing.

3) Use dialect sparingly. This tip goes along with number two above. While you want to convey the feeling of the time period, you do not want your readers to get lost in the dialogue because they can’t interpret the dialect. In one of my books the character’s would have spoken in almost unrecognizable dialect. I knew I had to keep this to a minimum so I would not lose the reader. Let your critique partner be a good judge of this in your writing. If they have difficulty interpreting the conversation between your charcters, so will readers. Therefore, keep dialect to a minimum and use it only when it adds flair to the story and doesn’t distract the reader.


1) Be an eavesdropper. Not on others, but on your own conversations. While someone is talking to you analyze the way they talk, the sentence patterns and lengths. Notice how life is full of short scenes and then incorporate these same scenes between characters in your novels. Movies are also helpful, especially if they are set in the era you are writing in. But be careful, some dialogue in movies can be extremely artificial.

2) Have your dialogue read aloud. I’ve found that when someone else is reading my work aloud to me, I can really tell if my dialogue rings true to how I’m portraying my character. When I listen I can really “see” if the conversations my characters are having sound natural, funny, or intriguing.

There are countless great dialogue scenes found in classic literature. I have picked out two below. Notice the distinctions and variances in these two excerpts. The first is from Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House.”

       “Lady Dedlock, I have not yet been able to come to a decision satisfactory to myself, on the course before me. I am not clear what to do, or how to act next. I must request you, in the mean time, to keep your secret as you have kept it so long, and not to wonder that I keep it too.”
      He pauses, but she makes no reply.
     “Pardon me, Lady Dedlock. This is an important subject. Are you honoring me with your attention?”
     “I am.”
     “Thank you. I might have known it, from what I have seen of your strength of character. I ought not to have asked the question, but I have the habit of making sure of my ground, step by step, as I go on. The sole consideration in this unhappy case is Sir Leicester.”
    “Then why,” she asks in a low voice, and without removing her gloomy look from those distant stars, “do you detain me in his house?”
     “Because he is the consideration. Lady Dedlock, I have no occasion to tell you that Sir Leicester is a very proud man; that his reliance upon you is implicit; that the fall of that moon out of the sky, would not amaze him more than your fall from your high position as his wife.”
     She breathes quickly and heavily, but she stands as unflinchingly as ever he has seen her in the midst of her grandest company.
     “I declare to you, Lady Dedlock, that with anything short of this case that I have, I would as soon have hoped to root up, by means of my own strength and my own hands, the oldest tree on this estate, as to shake your hold upon Sir Leicester, and Sir Leicester’s trust and confidence in you. And even now, with this case, I hesitate. Not that he could doubt, (that, even with him, is impossible), but that nothing can prepare him for the blow.”
    “Not my flight?” she returned. “Think of it again.”
     “Your flight, Lady Dedlock, would spread the whole truth, and a hundred times 
the whole truth, far and wide. It would be impossible to save the family credit for a day. It is not to be thought of.”

The next is from Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind.”

     "Oh, yes! What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one."
     "And what does all that mean?"

     "Your family, and my family, and everyone here tonight made their money out of changing a wilderness into a civilization. That's empire building. There's good money in empire building. But, there's more in empire wrecking."
     "What empire are you talking about?"
     "This empire we're living in--the South--the Confederacy--the Cotton Kingdom--it's breaking up right under our feet. Only most fools won't see it and take advantage of the situation created by the collapse. I'm making my fortune out of the wreckage."
     "Then you really think we're going to get licked?"
     "Yes. Why be an ostrich?"
      "Oh, dear, it bores me to talk about such. Don't you ever say pretty things, Captain Butler?"
      "Would it please you if I said your eyes were twin goldfish bowls filled to the brim with the clearest green water and that when the fish swim to the top, as they are doing now, you are terribly charming?"

Just from these short snapshots of conversation we feel the tone of the characters. We are drawn into their company. As more dialogue continues throughout the book we fall more and more into the characters world. Both of these examples are portraying a different period in history, and yet, neither one loses the reader with excessive dialect or archaic phrases.

Writing good dialogue is a skill that one does not accomplish overnight. As writers, there is probably always room for improvement in this technique. Listening to good conversations and reading good literature, both old and new, can aid us in this achievement.

Lastly, and most importantly, as Christian writers we are writing for God’s glory. May all of our dialogue be pleasing and acceptable to Him.

Can you think of a particular scene of good dialogue that really inspired you??

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Five Ingredients To A Good Story : Part Two - Setting

The rocky cliffs on a Yorkshire heathland. The rolling plains of the Kansas prairie. The crowded sidewalks and towering skyscrapers of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. All these places paint different images in our minds and hearts. Some we associate with pleasant feelings, others we cringe at the thought of. These scenes can be edited down into one simple word - setting.

Think of what it’s like to buy a house. It can take weeks and weeks of searching to find one that’s suitable, and one we fall in love with. Now transfer this same concept to our novels. Careful thought should go into the setting in which we place our characters.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a setting.

1) Make sure you enjoy the place. This might seem like a given, but to some it’s not. Some of us decide to set our books in our hometown, because we think we know a lot about the area and inhabitants. But what if we don’t like the place we grew up in, and always imagined living somewhere else? For example, although I love the small town atmosphere of northern Michigan, I have always imagined spending a year or two in London or New York City. Why not set your book in a place you’ve always dreamed of? If you feel enamored about a location and convey that to your readers, they will be enamored about it themselves.

2) Make sure you feel confidant about the research. I have found that writing about a place that I have never been to, or am not able to visit, takes a great deal of research. So, while following rule number one, make sure you can do the research and write accurately about the place you choose. Readers will want to feel you have “dropped” them into the location while they read.

3) Lastly, when you pick a setting, do your best not to change your mind mid novel. Although I know of authors who have done this, it will give your story less of the flavor it might have had if you stayed with something throughout the whole course of your novel.

Settings In Literature

Literature is famous for it’s settings. Who can forget the rugged forests and open prairies of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House In The Prairie” series. Or on a darker note, the revolution torn villages and cities of Boris Pasternak’s “Dr Zhivago.” Here are two examples from some of my favorite pieces of literature. The first comes from one of the great masters of the use of setting, Charles Dickens. Here is a selection from “Oliver Twist”.

      As Jack Dawkins objected to their entering London before nightfall, it was nearly eleven o'clock when they reached the turnpike at Islington. They crossed from the Angel into St. John's Road; struck down the small street which terminates at Sadler's Wells Theatre; through Exmouth Street and Coppice Row; down the little court by the side of the workhouse; across the classic ground which once bore the name of Hockley-in-the-Hole; thence into Little Saffron Hill; and so into Saffron Hill the Great: along which the Dodger scudded at a rapid pace, directing Oliver to follow close at his heels.
     Although Oliver had enough to occupy his attention in keeping sight of his leader, he could not help bestowing a few hasty glances on either side of the way, as he passed along. A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odors. There were a good many small shops; but the only stock in trade appeared to be heaps of children, who, even at that time of night, were crawling in and out at the doors, or screaming from the inside. The sole places that seemed to prosper amid the general blight of the place, were the public- houses; and in them, the lowest orders of Irish were wrangling with might and main. Covered ways and yards, which here and there diverged from the main street, disclosed little knots of houses, where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several of the door-ways, great ill-looking fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, on no very well-disposed or harmless errands.

Although I have read this scene before it still continues to amaze me what Dickens’s can do with only two paragraphs. We vividly see the desolation and grime through the eyes of young Oliver, and feel as repelled as he. We can almost see before us those ragged children crawling around our feet, and we have need to cover our nose to block the “filthy odors.” Need I say more?

The next example is far different from the first. It is from Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of Old New York, “The Age of Innocence.”

     On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York. Though there was already talk of the construction, in remote metropolitan distances, of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendor with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the "new people" whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.
     It was Madame Nilsson's first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as "an exceptionally brilliant audience" had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient "Brown coupe." To come to the Opera in a Brown coupe was almost as honorable a way of arriving as in one's own carriage; and departure by the same means had the immense advantage of enabling one (with a playful allusion to democratic principles) to scramble into the first Brown conveyance in the line, instead of waiting till the cold-and-gin congested nose of one's own coachman gleamed under the portico of the Academy. It was one of the great livery-stableman's most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it.

Again, only two paragraphs, but so vivid. The visions this time are more pleasant, I can fully glimpse the world of luxury and endless ritual. And Wharton immerses us in this world throughout the novel. I read this book recently, then watched the film. Both captured the setting of the Gilded Age quite brilliantly.

Writing exercise:

Do you have trouble with the setting descriptions in your stories? I know I sometimes do. Try the following exercise and see if it helps you to “see” the surroundings through the eyes of your characters.

Pick a very small scene in your current work or a small element in your own life- say your kitchen, bedroom or a small cafĂ© you like to visit. Go through and describe all you see, hear, smell, and feel. Be very elaborate in your description using all your senses. Now re-read what you wrote. Can you narrow things down to just the top elements that would convey to someone else the “feel” or “mood” of what you described. Writers tend to fall into one of two categories; describing too much or too little. I tend towards the later. So I have had to work on this in my craft. Striking a balance is our main objective as writers.

Reading good literature, and then practicing through writing, will make conveying a convicting setting a possibility.

Share with me what helps you to become a master at conveying the setting to your readers! Do you read good literature or just keep practicing your craft?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Five Ingredients To A Good Story: Part One

Writing a good story is like baking a cake. Every ingredient counts. If one is missing the finished product falls flat. In my opinion there are five ingredients that make up a good story. Now, I am by no means an authority on the subject and opinions widely differ. However, to me, the five ingredients to a good story are as follows (these are not in order of importance):

Five Ingredients

1) Characterization
2) Setting
3) Description
4) Plot
5) Dialogue

This will be a five part post, and in each I will discuss one of the above elements using examples from some of my favorite pieces of classic literature. The pieces selected will apply to each element.

When we discuss a book with our friends, we don’t usually say things like (except us writers who have a tendency to over analyze), “I think the story would have been better had the author not described the heroine in such detail; and her thoughts on page forty one seemed out of character.” Instead we say things like “Why didn’t she marry so and so? And why did she give up her only chance of happiness?”
This seems to show us that one of the greatest foundations of a novel is it’s characters. Why? Because it’s people we identify with, not houses or events. As writers, we should put this knowledge to use by putting time and effort into writing interesting and believable characters.

There are numerous articles about the different types of characters and how each should interact in the story. So, rather than adding another article to that pile, I will explore two characters from classic literature. Using their thoughts, dialogue, and additional components, we can discover exactly who they are. Like archeologists who don’t spend their time excavating houses built only last year, we as writers should look not only to modern literature. Some of the most well loved characters are found in the pages of literature penned by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, etc. I will give a few examples below. These are not necessarily physical descriptions of characters, because one of the best ways to discover a character is to “see them in action.”

1) Here is example number one.

The promise of a smooth career, which my first calm introduction to Thornfield Hall seemed to pledge, was not belied on a longer acquaintance with the place and its inmates. Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and then, when I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to the gates and looked through them along the road; or when, while Adele played with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom, I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line--that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen--that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach. I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele; but I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed in I wished to behold. Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third storey, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it--and, certainly, they were many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, expanded it with life; and, best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended--a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence.
Without knowledge of the identity of the narrator, or of her past or current circumstances, we know something about her, just by getting a glimpse into her head. Charlotte Bronte’s character Jane Eyre, in other circumstances, appears to be what she at one time calls herself “a plain quakerish governess.” But when we get a glimpse into her real thoughts we gain a new understanding of her character. By doing this, Charlotte Bronte gives Jane a deeper layer to her character, making her three dimensional: a solid real human being.

2) The next is slightly different and comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise — she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression — then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.) I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

The above differs in several ways. First of all it is told by the narrator describing someone else, thus giving us a more impartial view. Also, there is dialogue which also gives us a glimpse into how the character responds to those around her.

How can we use the above examples? We can study them and then try some exercises in our own writing to help us create characters that also speak to the reader with the depth that past writers have accomplished.

Writing Exercies
If you feel your characters are lacking the depth they need, try a simple exercise. Write two scenes that may or may not pertain to your story. In the first, give the character something to think about such as another person or the events of the day. Then write what your character would think. This is especially effective when you have your character meditate on something that does not pertain to your story. Doing this will add a layer to your character that he/she may never have thought of in the actual story, but will help better your understanding of the character and add realness and depth. Characters must appear to the reader as full bodied individuals and not just words on a page.

In the second scene have another character think about and observe your character. This will better your understanding of how your character appears to others. This will also add a three dimensional aspect to your character. All of us are in one way or another a product of those around us.

Characters are a complex lot and it takes time and effort to delve into their minds. Doing a character profile before writing your story is also a good idea. However, this should not be the only tool used to develop and expand characterization. Good characters are created just like human beings and they should be seen by the reader as fully functional, well rounded, relational creatures.

In our next post we will look at good examples of the use of Setting.

Now it your turn. 
Please share with all of us some great literature where the characters are very well done/ and or tell what techniques you use to develop believable characters in your own writing.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

CRASH!! It's Your Computer!

Long ago, authors like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen wrote everything out with quill pens and paper. The only way manuscripts could be destroyed was by fire, water, or a very naughty dog. Next came the era of Margret Mitchell, Thomas Wolfe, etc. where authors typed everything on a typewriter. Again, finished pages were for the most part, eternal. Unfortunately, in our day, typing ones work on the computer can have both positive and negative consequences. While we juggle plot, characters, editors, and publishers we also have to deal with these mysterious and sometimes maddening mechanisms called thumb drives, hard drives, viruses, and more.

This past week my own computer crashed taking with it three or four weeks worth of research, and the outline for my current WIP. Needless to say, it took several gallons of chocolate to finally resign myself to my fate - my work was gone.

Among many things I did wrong, the worst was that I neglected to back up my work every day. During the time I was researching, I was so intent on my task that I neglected to back up my work to my thumb drive. This was a very painful lesson to learn and one I would not wish to repeat. For the rest of you readers and writers, I can recommend the following tips from to ensure you do not succumb to the same fate.

Eight Tips to Keep your Computer Operating Smoothly

1. Never, turn your computer off with the power switch until Windows has shut down.
The exception to this is when your computer locks up and the hard drive is not running. In this case you can turn off the power without harmful effects. Only do this when all else fails, as this can result in losing data. Whenever possible, recover from crashes by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys at the same time. Press them again to reboot your computer.

2. Purchase a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for your computer. This will keep your computer from crashing during power outages, and will protect it from low and high voltage occurrences. A UPS is far superior to a surge protector and will save your computer from almost any type of power disaster.

3. Backup, any data you cannot afford to lose to at least two separate physical drives. You can backup data to external hard drives, USB drives(thumb drives) CD-RWs etc. The time to backup is when you create something you can't afford to lose. Don't wait until tomorrow. Thumb drives come with a wide variety of memory storage and they sell for as little as $8.00.

4. Run Scandisk and Defragment at least once a month. This will keep your hard drive healthy and prevent crashes. Alternatively, purchase Norton Utilities and use it to keep your hard drive healthy.

5. Keep at least 300 MBs of your C: drive free for Windows to use. If you use Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 then you should have 400-600 MBs of free space on your C: drive. If you do not have enough free space you will choke Windows and it will start dumping data to your hard drive, or it will just get really, really, slow. Microsoft at home ( ) will guide you step by step on how to do a clean sweep and delete unwanted files and programs. 

6. Do not let a lot of programs load up when you start your computer. They use valuable memory and Windows Resources (Windows internal workspace). All programs in your Windows System Tray (in the lower left of your screen) are running on your computer when you start up. Close them if you don't need them or run them and configure them to not load when you boot up. Other programs running in the background can be found by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete at the same time.

7. Do use a virus checker regularly. Everyone should use a virus checker that is either purchased or found free on the internet. A computer expert friend of ours recommended AVG, which is downloadable free on-line.

8. Create a recovery disk or keep your system disks that came with your computer. These disks contain valuable software drivers, and programs for Windows, and are needed when Windows must be reloaded. If your computer did not come with a recovery disk call customer support or look on-line for instructions on how to create your own properly.

Lastly, note changes in performance. One of the first indicators that something is wrong is when your computer starts operating abnormally. When this occurs, immediately back up any unsaved files, and run a virus scan and defragment and see if this helps.

Hopefully, by using these tips you will not succumb to the same fate as I did, this past week. As writers we prefer to write in blissful oblivion, thinking the box that we are furiously typing away on, will hold our precious data without a glitch. Yet, this is not always the case, and it is best to be prepared. I hope to be writing in blissful, yet wiser, oblivion once again - as soon as my computer comes back from the service center!

Share any tips that you have for saving data or keeping your computer healthy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

An interview with Jody Hedlund, award winning author of, "The Preacher's Bride"

1) What made you want to become a writer? Was there a particular event, person, or book, that inspired you?
I recently watched the Disney Princess movie, Tangled, with my kids. (Okay, I’ll admit, I was more excited about seeing it than they were!) As I was bawling my way through the end, I realized how much I used to love writing my own Princess stories when I was a girl. I spent hours making up fairy-tales and filling notebook after notebook. While my stories are definitely more complex now, I haven’t lost my love for a happily-ever-after.

2) What do you like most and least about being a writer?

*What I like most about being a writer? I love the freedom that comes when I write a first
draft, when I’m transported to another time and place, and can make the story anything I dream it to be.
*What I like least about being a writer? Not ever having quite enough time to write! But then again, if I had all day, I’m still not sure it would be enough!

3) Do you do a lot of research for your novels and do you perform it before, in the middle, or after you write your novel? Since I write historicals, research is an integral part of my writing process. I usually spend anywhere between 6-8 weeks on initial research, reading biographies, getting a feel
for the time period, and digging into the meat that will comprise the plot of my book. Once I start writing the first draft, I have to stop from time to time to do a little more research, particularly if I switch settings within the story. But usually, if I don’t know something, I’ll highlight it and then do more research during my editing phase.

4) What would you say is the biggest mistake beginning writers make? Did you find yourself making this mistake when starting out?
One beginner mistake I’ve noticed is the tendency to try to explain everything that’s happening instead of plunging the reader directly into the story and letting them figure out what’s going on. Then, once a writer figures out how to jump into the action and write by scenes, the next mistake I’ve seen is not including enough information—emotions, sensory details, or setting description. It’s almost as if the writer moves from one extreme (explaining too much) to the opposite extreme (writing too tight). Eventually, we all have to learn how to find just the right amount of exposition, the clothing and accessories that will dress our books and bring out our unique style and personality.

5) Do you have a particular place you write best at? Do you listen to music while you write?
Most days I sit in my big kitchen and write at a tiny counter desk where I’m able to keep my eyes and ears on all that’s going on around me. That way I can see when the dog is about to eat another sock, put a halt to my youngest riding down the steps in laundry baskets, and make sure my daughters are practicing piano diligently (rather than getting up to get a snack every few minutes). Of course, this is all hypothetical. None of this ever happens. And my writing time is always quiet and peaceful as my children go about their work without needing any of my intervention. *Wink*

I actually do my best writing in my office, which is upstairs away from the noise and chaos. But I don’t get to retreat there very often, just a few times a week for extended writing time. Most of the time, I plug in headphones, put on Pandora, and write no matter what’s going on around me. I’ve had to learn to just do it and not wait for the perfect moment.

6) Has there been a particular technical book on writing you return to again and again?
I love everything by James Scott Bell (and no he’s not paying me to promote him!). I really do think he’s got some of the best writing how-to books out there. I suggest Plot & Structure, Revision & Self-Editing, The Art of War for Writers, and his newest e-book, Writing Fiction For All Your Worth.

7) Is there a scripture verse that has inspired you in your writing?

Among many, here’s one I aspire to live by: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” (Ecc. 9:10) I believe in working responsibly and hard with the gifts we’ve been given.

8) What three tips do you have for beginning writers?
My top three tips for beginners (taken from my Top Ten List of Advice For Aspiring
1. Write the first book for yourself without worrying about rules or publication. There’s
something about that first book (or first few) that helps unleash the creative side of story-telling.
2. Finish a book. There’s nothing like the experience of completing a book from first page to the last to help a writer move out of the wannabe category.
3. Study basic fiction-writing techniques. Check out fiction “how-to” books from a local library. Take lots of notes. Then put it all into practice by writing another book or two.

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her next book, The Doctor’s Lady releases in September 2011.

A very special thank you to Jody for doing this interview!!  You can find Jody's books at, your local christian book store, and  book stores on-line.  Please visit Jody at her website: