Weekly Drawing ~ Sandra Ardoin

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book! This week's prize is available to residents inside the continental US only.

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Sandra Ardoin and her newest release, The Yuletide Angel.

 Click to Mix and Solve

A Writer’s Work is Never Done by Sandra Ardoin

Thursday, October 30, 2014

We can write “The End,” but is it really?

Writing fiction had lingered in the back of my mind since third grade, but outside of school projects, I never attempted it. I didn’t want to die and have people find what I’d written. J (I still have that fear. Weird.) Still single in my latter twenties, I needed a little extra cash and thought I’d get it through freelance writing. Crazy, huh? The realities of publishing trampled that idea real fast, but by then, I was hooked.

While I’ve written and published small pieces since 1986, I didn’t begin to work on novels until 2008 (2009 with serious intent). It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since. Good news followed by bad news followed by good, etc.

I received great news in May with a contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for my Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel. It’s the first release from Heritage Beacon, their new historical imprint. Then the realities of marketing hit me full in the face. But … in August, I received another contract for my first novel, a follow-up to the novella that will release in January 2016.

Creating whole stories from snippets that pop into my mind gives me a thrill. My best ideas tend to come during the writing process—not necessarily while I’m sitting at the computer. Sometimes, they surprise me as I type.  Other times, they come from pondering the plot as I’m gardening or cleaning. My favorite surprise is when the characters insist on doing something I hadn’t expected, and it fits perfectly into the story.

Call me a plantser, a hybrid, or whatever, I like having some idea of where I’m going when I sit down at the computer, but I’m not one to write out a synopsis for each scene in the book before I start. For one thing, I’m too impatient. For another, it doesn’t work for me. (See the surprises above.) I’ll try to have the major plot points in mind and may do a general synopsis, but that’s about as far as it goes.

For me, writing is a full-time job. I don’t know how I could complete anything any other way. Believe me, I have great admiration for those who work another full-time job, then write in the off hours. I would go crazy trying to keep up with everything. As it is, I sometimes feel snowed under.

In the mornings, I shut the door of my office (which is my guest room), but a closed door makes a lousy “do not disturb” sign. The raising of my hand like a traffic cop stops the words of all intruders until I’m through tapping the keys or reading what I’ve written. Once I lower my arm, the conversation begins.

Unfortunately, writing means sitting on my posterior for hours, so exercise comes in fits and starts. I like to garden, though I don’t get much chance anymore it seems. I also have an old NordicTrac machine in my office. (Yes, we’re stuck in the ’80s around here.) I use it on occasion, along with an exercise ball I sit on at times.

There’s one thing about being a novelist. While individual tasks are accomplished, the ideas remain, waiting for the next day and their opportunity to be turned into printed words.



Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction who writes inspirational historical romance. Her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina.

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Sign up for her newsletter.


Don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of The Yuletide Angel!


It's Christmastime in 1890s Meadowmead, and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed The Yuletide Angel, no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor. 

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others. 

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh's estranged brother shows up in town ... and in Violet's company. 

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.



The Case of the Deadly Slow Writing by Author Sandra Ardoin

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

National Novel Writing Month  is right around the bend. In my mind, I picture writers everywhere sitting at desks with pencils sharpened and held upright in hand, a couple of spares nearby. They stare at the clock. At the stroke of midnight on November 1, they bend over their desks and don’t look up until 11:59 p.m. on November 30. 

**Shiver** It reminds me of thosed timed tests in school.

Now, I’m not putting down anyone’s NaNoWriMo efforts and excitement. Far from it. I think it’s a great exercise in story completion and learning to get that first draft down fast. For some, it’s simply a challenge. For others, it’s a kick in the keister to get them motivated to complete that languishing manuscript. For me, it would be a wide-open Porsche on the Autobahn to an ulcer—a disaster in the making. (The same goes for the 1k/1 hour challenge, although I think I could handle that a little better.) 

You see, I’m a slow writer who can’t seem to shut off the internal editor as I go. I look for just the right word, just the right emotion, just the right … well, whatever … before I continue. I get lost easily and must reread the paragraphs I’ve written in order to move on in the scene.

I sigh every time I read where someone wrote thousands of words in a few measly hours. Sometimes, I want to be just like them; I truly do. It would certainly make my life easier. For one thing, I’d get out in the garden more often. And I wouldn’t need to worry about making my weekly word-count goals. Alas, though, I rarely get in more than 1,200 words in a full day of writing, and it’s usually less.  

For those of you who are like me and suffer from a case of slow writing, take heart. It’s okay. If you keep plugging away at it, your story will get be completed … eventually. 

Just as we each have a desire to write in certain genres, we each go about that writing in a different fashion and at a different speed. We’re pantsers, plotters, hybrids. The key is to accept what you can do and plan accordingly, especially if you have a deadline. If you only write 500 words per day, five days a week, that’s 2,500 words in a week, and an 80,000-word novel in eight months. 


Rejoice! You’re a writer!

Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction who writes inspirational historical romance. Her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, releases October 2014. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. 

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Sign up for her newsletter.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 94 ~ Where is God?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

This week I read a story—just one of many similar incidents—about a Muslim girl who was stoned to death by a crowd of men, led of all people by her father. Her crime? Uncleanness, in the form of falling victim to rape. The story detailed the girl’s pleas for forgiveness, and her father’s utter implacability.

The man relating the story went on to discuss how God, our true Father, is tender and compassionate by contrast, always forgiving when we throw ourselves on His mercy.

While a part of me acknowledges the truth of that—and is beyond grateful—another part of me burned with my own “righteous” indignation. How did this man’s mini-sermon help this girl? Where is the world’s outcry against this ridiculousness?

And ... where was the Lord?

Then, I came across this ...

Psalm 94 (NKJV)

O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
Render punishment to the proud.
Lord, how long will the wicked,
How long will the wicked triumph?

I’m sure not the first person to ask this question, to cry out to the Lord about His seeming inaction. After all, He’s sovereign—and omnipotent—why wouldn’t He answer?

It’s easy to just brush off the question, to say “these things happen all the time,” or “others have made outcry and failed to change anything.” But sometimes the immediacy of witnessing someone else’s pain, or hearing about it, just cuts too deeply to ignore.

They utter speech, and speak insolent things;
All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.
They break in pieces Your people, O Lord,
And afflict Your heritage.
They slay the widow and the stranger,
And murder the fatherless.
Yet they say, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob understand.”

This is exactly the mindset of those who perpetrate such crimes. Like Pharaoh of Moses’ time, they say, “Who is this God you speak of?” They’re either absolutely convinced of their own righteousness, or they think the consequences of their actions will never catch up with them.

Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
10 He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.

And, as another Scripture aptly says, “in this is the patience and faith of the saints”—that indeed, God knows, He sees, and—furthermore, He takes note.

12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
And teach out of Your law,
13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity,
Until the pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not cast off His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15 But judgment will return to righteousness,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
18 If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

20 Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law,
Have fellowship with You?
21 They gather together against the life of the righteous,
And condemn innocent blood.
22 But the Lord has been my defense,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought on them their own iniquity,
And shall cut them off in their own wickedness;
The Lord our God shall cut them off.

There’s little enough talk of judgment these days, but He promises to bring justice, when the time is right. Although most days I’d rather it be sooner rather than later, the same mercy extended to me as His child is the same mercy that delays judgment so that even our enemies have ample time to come to Him.

And if they do not come to Him—their judgment is sure.

Either way, until that time, the Lord is still our refuge, and He gives us comfort even in the midst of trouble and anxiety. He is God—our God—and that will never change ... regardless of what evils human inflict on each other.

Weekly Drawing ~ Beth Wiseman

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book! This week's prize is available to residents inside the continental US only.

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Beth Wiseman and her newest release, The Promise.

 Click to Mix and Solve

Author Beth Wiseman Talks About 3-D Characters

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We’ve all read books with one or two-dimensional characters, those books that tell a great story but lack the motivations to support the actions, thus making it difficult to stay vested and care about the characters. Three-dimensional characters are layered, but the trick is not stuffing it all down the reader’s throat at one time. Motivations will be easier to digest if they are fed to your audience slowly in a precipitated way that keeps the book moving forward while allowing the reader to have a better understanding about what drives your characters.

For example: Suzie has blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a small scar on her chin. She’s tall and skinny. Suzie works as a paralegal at a law firm. One day she hopes to go to law school and become an attorney. She can’t have children. She sleeps with the light on.

Those little factoids should be sprinkled throughout your introduction to Suzie, but shouldn’t be the main focus of the story in the beginning. Use those supporting tidbits while driving the action.

The second layer should begin to enlighten the reader about what makes Suzie tick. Where did she get the scar on her chin? Why does she want to be an attorney? Why can’t she have children? And why does she sleep with the light on?

So, consider this: Suzie was assaulted when she was a teenager, thus the scar on her chin. She’s wanted to be an attorney since that horrible incident, which left her unable to have children. At this point, the reader assumes Suzie leaves the light on because she is afraid of the dark based on what happened to her. So, instead of driving that point home, let the reader go ahead and assume this for now.

More often than not, that is where a lot of books stop offering layers, which leaves us with a two-dimensional character. But let’s take the reader deeper into Suzie’s psyche in an effort to keep our reader totally vested, caring about Suzie and her outcome. Although, we are still feeding this information slowly.

Third dimension: Suzie doesn’t want to be an attorney in an effort to see justice prevailed. Instead, she is doing it to prove to her father that she can—a man who said she would never amount to anything and who said that she’d enticed the person who raped her. But Suzie helps her father financially just the same. This hints that Suzie came from a bad home life growing up, without force-feeding the information. It also tells the reader that no matter how awful her father might be, Suzie still wants him to be proud of her and she loves him, as shown by her financial support. And Suzie doesn’t sleep with the light on because she is afraid of the dark. She sleeps with the light on because she has a rare neurological condition that requires her to leave the light on.

And throughout the story, you can keep adding layers. Maybe Suzie’s father is so difficult because Suzie’s mother left them both when Suzie was a small child. Does Suzie look just like her mother? Is that why her father resents Suzie or has trouble having a relationship with her? Does Suzie long for a child or never really wanted to be a mother? What is it about Suzie that endears her to the reader? Does she love animals? Maybe so much so that she is constantly bringing home strays?

Then do the same thing for your male character if you’re writing a romance. But ‘Sam’ could be a janitor at the local school who is taking night classes. He has a great family, so he can’t understand why Suzie puts up with her father’s verbal abuse. Has Sam always wanted a houseful of children? Is he allergic to most animals? Take all that conflict, structure an interesting plot, and then let these two people see the essence in each other—the things that no one else sees—and challenge the reader to wonder how these two people will ever end up together.

Even if your story is not a romance, writing multi-layered characters facing insurmountable conflict keeps our readers interested past just the black and white mold of a person without depth.

This process was particularly important for my latest release—The Promise. How many women do you know who would travel to Pakistan, despite warnings from family, friends, and our U.S. State Department? I needed strong motivations for Mallory so that the reader found her actions plausible and wanted to be on the journey with her, rooting for her to achieve her goals. The Promise is inspired by actual events, but sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, so it was doubly important for the reader to understand what drove Mallory to such lengths.

People are complicated. Our characters should be too. Going the extra mile in a novel will keep your reader turning the pages. We want our readers to live the story, not to just be a spectator. Multi-layered characters are a way to make this happen.

Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of
Canaan series.  Wiseman has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. In her daring new novel, Wiseman jumps way outside the box. The Promise will take readers far away from Amish country and the small Texas towns of her previous releases to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by actual events, Wiseman believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time.

Wiseman can be found at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook where she interacts with readers. Learn more about the author and her books at bethwiseman.com and on Twitter (@bethwiseman).

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of The Promise here on The Borrowed Book!

Deleted Scenes—The Pitfalls, The Upside by Author Beth WIseman

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is there anything more painful for an author than to hit the ‘Delete’ button?  We’ve given life to our characters, created scenes that we know are perfect, and bled onto the pages.  How in the world can an editor see what we can’t and insist that some pages—maybe even entire scenes—need to go? The horror.

But if you’re in the game long enough, it will eventually happen.  My latest release, The Promise, was a literary endeavor that was way out of the box for me, and as such, my editor set the bar really high.  I was crossing genres, and she wanted a really tight story that popped on every page.  But I initially had a mental block while writing the book.

The Promise is inspired by a true story, and I knew that once my character got on a plane to head to Pakistan, all of the real-life events would come hurdling back at me, taking me back to a time that was painful and scary.  So, I prolonged putting my character on the plane.  Instead, I sent a secondary character cross-country, filled the pages with a bit of fluff, and basically wrote about a hundred pages that didn’t help to further the story, but caused it do drag.  In the end, it was delete, delete, delete.  

So, is there an upside when this happens?  At the time, it’s hard to see one.  But looking back, there was a silver lining.  Perhaps the reader didn’t need those hundred pages, but I did.  It was an opportunity to get to know my characters.   In that regard, I can’t consider it wasted time and effort.  

Have you ever written a letter and not sent it?  Maybe it was just for you, a way to vent, part of a healing process, or an incentive to forgive.  Sometimes, deleted scenes end up in the same ‘File 13’ as other projects that weren’t really for anyone else’s benefit, except our own.  

In the scene that never made it into The Promise, I felt like I was sitting in the backseat while my character drove to New York City.  I learned a lot about him, his motivations, hopes, and dreams.  I was a silent player in my own book, watching and learning.  In hindsight, these tidbits weren’t anything that the reader needed to know, but the journey enabled me to incorporate the emotions my character was feeling through other ways that drove the story forward.  

At the end of that trip to New York City, Tate and I parted ways, and I returned to my computer to hit the delete button.  But, we had that time together, and I returned from the adventure with a much better understanding about who Tate really is.  

As authors, we must realize that even the deleted scenes serve a purpose.  As readers, we appreciate when an editor or author has gone the extra mile to keep any unnecessary filler out of the book.

As a reader, how many times have you skimmed sections of books that really should have been deleted or shortened?  And author friends, as painful as the deleting process is, has it benefitted you in ways that I mentioned?



Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series.  Wiseman has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. In her daring new novel, Wiseman jumps way outside the box. The Promise will take readers far away from Amish country and the small Texas towns of her previous releases to a dangerous place on the other side of the world.  Inspired by actual events, Wiseman believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time.  


Wiseman can be found at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook where she interacts with readers. Learn more about the author and her books at bethwiseman.com and on Twitter (@bethwiseman).