Do you ever feel tired, weak, and weary of the struggles of life? Are you feeling insignificant and alone and wondering who cares and who will help you through another day?

American bald eagle in flight

We can soar like eagles when we put our hope in the Lord.

The truth is you are chosen, loved, and so very special to God. He is the amazing creator of everyone and everything on earth. There is no one like our God. He is awesome, powerful and huge, yet He loves you and me, and He wants to give us the strength we need for whatever we are facing today. How do I know this? Because here’s what I read this morning:

“Do you know know? Have you not heard? the LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 28- 31.

How about you? Do you need His strength today? How can I pray for you?


SuzyQ and Carrie at the 2012 ACFW National Conference

SuzyQ and Carrie at the 2012 ACFW National Conference

Hi Friends,

Are you an aspiring author? Would you like to learn what it takes to see your manuscript become a published novel? If the answer is yes, then I want to encourage you to attend a  writers’ conference. If you want to write novels for the Christian market, I recommend The American Christian Fiction Writer’s National Conference, which will be held this year in Indianapolis, September 13 – 15.

I have been blessed to attend the ACFW National Conference every year since it first began in 2002. Attending classes and workshops taught by published authors, editors, and agents will give you valuable information and help steer you and your manuscript in the right direction. Because the conference schedule is packed and there are so many workshops and classes to choose from, I usually buy the Conference CD  so I can listen and learn throughout the year. That alleviates the pressure to take it all in during the conference, and it frees up some time for networking and appointments.

Connecting with other like-minded authors, editors, agents, and publishing professionals is another great benefit of attending a writers’ conference. I’ve made many wonderful friends, found critique partners, met my agent, my editors and my publishers at a writers’ conference, and most of these relationships began before I was published. After the conference you can nurture those relationships as you follow up and connect via email and social media.

There are several other good conferences around the country, and many of them feature teaching on both fiction and non-fiction. The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, The Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference, Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. The Oregon Christian Writers Conference, and the Florida Christian Writers Conference are just a few with great reputations. It may seem like a big investment to fly across the country and attend a conference . . . but there are some great benefits and rewards. And if you are serious about writing and hope to move toward publication, then it’s a worthwhile investment to consider.

I love to encourage aspiring authors, and here are two ways we can connect this summer. I will be teaching two workshops and doing critiques at the Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference July 31 – Aug. 4. I’d love to meet with you and give you helpful suggestions for polishing your pros. I’ll also be doing critiques at the ACFW Conference Sept. 13 – 15. Each of these require attending the conference, signing up online, and submitting your chapter ahead of time.

So . . . how about you? Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, how was it helpful for you? If not, what would you hope to gain from attending?

Hi Friends,

It has been one week since I fell while gardening and broke my right ankle . . . and what a week it’s been! I am doing a little better each day, and I’m thankful to have ways to get around the house.

A rolling chair has been a great help in the kitchen where we have hardwood floors. I can scoot and roll around and reach most things. It’s awkard . . . but I am grateful to be able to get a glass of water and reach for a snack in the pantry without having to call my husband, who has been so kind and caring.

Here I am with my knee scooter.

Here I am with my knee scooter.

This knee scooter is a great invention, and it helps me move from room to room. It was tough to use at first because me knees were very sore from the fall, but as my knees healed, I was able to use the scooter and make tracks!

My church, Calvary Chapel Living Hope, in Robbinsville, NJ, has been a great help, bringing us meals, calling, praying, and even planting the rest of the flowers in my flowerbeds. I am humbled and very greatful for their love and support.

I want to say a huge thank you to all those who have sent cards, offered prayers, brought meals, or called to check on me. I feel very loved and cared for by you all.

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Hi Friends, With Father’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share some stories and encourage you to honor those special men in your life. I was blessed to grow up in a home where my dad, Bob Swain, showed me a lot of love. And when I married, I added another dad in my life, my father-in-law, John Turansky. Both of these men have had a profound impact on me, and I have been blessed to be their daughter.

Carrie and her dad Bob Swain at the lake

Carrie and her dad Bob Swain at the lake

Bob Swain was just about the sweetest guy you could ever meet. He was soft-spoken and kind, yet also strong and determined, and best of all, he was a man of his word. Born in 1920, Bob grew up durring the depression and had his first job, selling apples from a wagon, when he was eight. As a teenager he ran track, did the pole vault, and became interested in airplanes and skiing. When he was 21 Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he joined the Army Air Corp. He fought in the Pacific during WW2, and he told some very chilling stories of dangerous situation and close calls.

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IMG_1047Hi Friends, I am spending a lot of time on the couch since I broke my ankle last Sunday. Here’s how it happened. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and I decided to spend some time working in my front flower gardens. I had purchased three flats of annuals to brighten up the yard, and I was anxious to transplant them. But first I had to clean out the old oak leaves and pull the wilted tulip and daffodil leaves. I find a lot of joy being outdoors, digging in the dirt, and coaxing blooms from my flowerbeds.

Our front garden is terraced, and I stepped up to pull some weeds, and when I stepped down I missed the lower row of bricks landed on the driveway with a crashing thud. I heard my ankle break, and I knew I was in trouble. Fortunately, I had my phone with me, and I was able to call my friend and neighbor who is a nurse. She came over and helped me, then I called Scott, and he came home and took me to the ER.

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top-10Whether you’re an aspiring author or multi-published, it’s often a challenge to meet your writing goals. Here are ten tips that will help increase your writing productivity.

1. Write with instrumental music playing in the background. I recently saw an informal survey that found those who listened to music while writing were able to write more words per day than those who didn’t. I like to write with instrumental praise music or movie soundtracks playing in the background. Some of my favorite soundtracks are Prince of Tides, The Cider House Rules, and Little Women.

2. Set a timer. Try this trick. Set your timer for fifteen minutes, and tell yourself you will focus and write for that long. Keep writing and moving ahead in your story without going back to review or revise. Then take a short break and set the timer again. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in short periods of time like this.

3. Outline the scene first. Before you start writing think through your scene, choose your POV character, the mood and setting and goals for each character. Create a list of descriptive and sensory words you could use in that scene. I find taking a walk and thinking it through first helps me a lot. Lately I’ve been writing by hand some dialogue and outline what will happen in the scene. This gets my creative juices flowing and the scene seems to come together much more quickly when I start typing from those notes.

4. Set a word count goal. Word count goals can be motivating and a helpful guide. I know if I meet my goal each week, then I’ll finish my book on time. That relieves some of the pressure and helps my creativity flow.

5. Write at your most productive time of the day. When are you the most productive and creative? Set aside that time to write, and don’t allow email, Facebook or Pinterest to eat up your best writing time. Turn off your email program and use your less productive times of the day to check email and social media.

6. Wear earphones. Earphones are a great way to block out noise as well as pipe in your favorite music. I have some very comfortable rubber tipped earphones that I wear, and even when I am not listening to music I put them in. I’ve found it helps my family realize I am working and won’t hear them, so they are less likely to interrupt me unless it’s something important.

7. Give yourself permission to write fast and messy. Turn off the internal editor who questions every word, and let your creativity flow. I tell myself I don’t have to write it perfectly, I just have to get it down. You can only revise what you’ve written. So tell yourself it’s okay if it’s awful. You can fix it when you revise.

8. Find an accountability partner. Team up with another writer and commit to checking up on each other. Share your goals and exchange emails at the end of the day to report your word count. Don’t ask them to commit for life, just try it for a set period of time. Knowing someone is waiting to hear how you’ve done that day can be very motivating.

9. Reward yourself for reaching your goals. Why wait until you’ve finished your book to enjoy a reward? Set several short-term goals and celebrate when you reach them. Do something you enjoy when you meet your weekly word count or half way point.

10. Get a comfortable, chair, clothing, and drink. Feeling comfortable while you write is important. Invest in a good chair, wear comfortable clothes and stock up on your favorite drinks. Some authors find changing locations around the house gives them a mental break and it also helps prevent back issues.

I hope you’ll try some of these tips and they’ll help you reach your writing goals!