Monday, December 2, 2013

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The first time I heard of the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I sat in a romance writer's meeting listening to Margaret Daley speaking how this book can help writers with their character interactions.

Because I highly value any advice Margaret Daley has for me, I immediately bought the book. Unfortunately, for years it has set on my book shelf collecting dust in my "To Be Read" pile.

However, back in June my heart became heavy for marriages. Not just young marriages, but troubled marriages. As I began to pray for marriages something interesting happened. A story developed in heart. To make this story the best it could possibly be, I pulled any books on relationships I had on my shelf, including this one and I purchased others. (Other books include Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans and Lifelong Love Affair: How to Have a Passionate and Deeply Rewarding Marriage by Jimmy Evans)

The Five Love Languages shows the reader that everybody has a love tank inside them from birth. The love tank when it is full, produces a person who is healthy and happy. When the love tank is empty it produces children who crave mischief and adults who file for divorce.

If the love tank is so important than discovering how to fill the love tank is even more important. Filling the love tank requires learning the love language of your spouse and children. Once you learn their language then their love tanks can be full and they can be healthy, happy people. You can teach your family about love languages and they speak your love language helping you become healthy and happy.

The most common love languages, according to Gary Chapman are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. There is an online quiz to take to help you learn your love language: . (I encourage you to take the quiz for you and your family.)

So, how can this love language thing help writers? If speaking the wrong love language or not speaking it at all can cause love tanks to run empty and thus cause divorce, then we can assume if we apply this to our characters we can create real conflicts for our characters.

For example, if you have a heroine whose love language is quality time and she ends up speaking that language to her hero whose love language is acts of service then we have a conflict. He is most likely trying to speak his language to the her. It would look something like this:

Elizabeth touched Eric on the shoulder. "I was thinking it would be fun if we got all dressed up and went to the symphony tomorrow night."

Eric scrunched his nose. "I can't. I have to work late tomorrow night."

"On a Friday night?" Elizabeth removed her hand. "I bet no one else in your office works late on Friday night. They are home with their families."

"If I'm to make partner. I have to put in the time. Besides, when I get off work I want to mow the grass and get those flowers of yours planted so I can enjoy the rest of my weekend."

"So, maybe Saturday we can go to the mountains? Have a picnic?"

"Why do want to plan out my weekend for me?" Eric sighed. "I might've had plans to do things on my day off."

You see, Elizabeth complains to her friends that Eric never wants to spend time with her. He always makes excuses to do other things. She believes he doesn't love her anymore. Each time Eric rejects her idea of quality time, her love tank becomes empty.

Eric has no interest in the symphony and doesn't want to go hiking in the mountains. He loves his wife and feels like he proves it by working late to bring home fat paychecks and by planting her roses.

If only they could understand each others love language then they could be happy. But as writers we know that can't happen yet. They must break up, be broken hearted, think their spouse is interested in someone else and then when all seems lost, then and only then can they learn how to love each other. A Happily Ever After.

Merry Christmas!
From Debra and the Writers of Books To Write By!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Story Template by Amy Deardon

Debra here today to introduce to our readers one of our newest blog contributors, Patti Shene. Patti is currently on hiatus from writing while helping her husband face a serious medical condition. Once in a while, she still manages to get a few words out of her head and onto the computer screen.  Patti enjoyed a thirty year career as an RN in the psychiatric nursing field. Although fascinated with all the modern technology used to improve her husband’s condition, she has retired from her medical career. Her passion now is to influence people in some positive manner with the power of words. She is published in two anthologies, Love is a Verb Devotional (, and Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters: Real Life Stories of Supernatural Events (, as well as some local publications. As a former editor with Written World Communications, she dreams of having her own editing service some day. Find Patti at
Patti, tell us a little bit about yourself:


I hail from Long Island in New York, but have made my home in colorful Colorado for almost forty years. I graduated from Central Islip State Hospital School of Nursing with my RN in 1972. Yep, do the math and you'll see I've reached the big 6-0! I took my first job at a Veterans Administration hospital in the Hudson River Valley, but transferred to a VA Hospital in Colorado in the summer of 1973. I have been married to husband Manuel (lifelong nickname: Speedy) for 36 years. We have one daughter and one son. Our kids always thought it was so romantic that I had to move halfway across the country to find their dad!

Patti, tell us about the book you are reviewing for us today:

The Story Template: Conquer Writer’s Block Using the Universal Structure of Story by Amy Deardon is a must read for any writer who struggles with the next paragraph, sentence, or word in their literary creation.

Amy takes her reader on a journey that begins with preliminary ideas for the type of story you wish to write and ends with techniques for polishing the completed first draft until it is ready for publication. She then takes her reader a step further by giving an overview of the process involved in submitting a manuscript and an explanation of the different types of publishing available to the writer.

The Story Template demonstrates through examples from well-known books and screenplays many aspects of crafting a great story, from the general premise of building a story world and developing a plot to creating an individual scene and employing various storytelling techniques.

Each chapter is packed with exercises that engage the reader and challenge the writer’s imagination. The exercises build upon each other in much the same manner that any project requires basic structure elements followed by more detailed embellishment and fleshing out to create a superb finished product.

Added bonuses include a comprehensive glossary of terms commonly used in the writing and publishing world, a collection of famous opening lines, two sample synopses from well-known published works, and a list of writing books and self-publishing resources.

Amy is the author of the novel A Lever Long Enough, a story about a small military team that travels back in time to film the theft of Jesus’ body from the tomb. Included in The Story Template is a sample passage from her novel before and after editing with an explanation as to why changes were made.

I highly recommend The Story Template to any writer who seeks a blueprint for crafting a successful novel.
Thank you, Patti for your review. The book sounds fantastic! For more information about Patti Shene, please check out these links:


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Step in the Write Direction by Donna Clark Goodrich

You would like to write for a newspaper, or a magazine, or maybe write a book. Questions fill your mind? How do I know what to write? Why would I choose this medium? Where would I send a story after I finish? What format works for publishers? Who buys what I like to write?

How? Why? Where? What? Who?
351 helpful pages

If any of those questions concern you, I recommend A Step in the Write Direction by Donna Clark Goodrich. Ms. Goodrich knows her stuff. She's the author of 22 books and over 700 published manuscripts. She teaches at Christian writing conferences across the nation, began and led for seven years the annual Arizona Christian Writers Seminar, and does freelance proofreading for a major Christian publishing house as well as individual authors.

This book includes "everything you ever wanted to know about writing." Though especially helpful for beginning writers, it provides beneficial information to the advanced writer. Do you need an agent? Help with grammar or punctuation? Suggestions for ideas, deadlines, learning to say "no?"

Since I write both short stories and novels, I found her chapter on the difference between the two  forms interesting. I marked several paragraphs about characterization versus action.

 For those, like me, who delve into an occasional non-fiction book, she lists item by item needed in a proposal. One portion I found particularly helpful was copyright rules; when you need permission from the author to use a quote, and how do you go about getting that permission.

Writers, like Ms. Goodrich, often stretch into other areas of the writing industry, such as editing, proofreading, teaching. This book gives practical ways to do this, even what to charge.

I like the list of trademarks. I'm always wondering do I capitalize Dr Pepper? Goodrich tells us.

I love her attitude. I find it summed up in this quote. "Treat your writing as a calling from God."

A Step in the Write Direction belongs on every Christian writers shelf to be used for reference or inspiration.

Sally E. Stuart, who began and published yearly the Christian Writers' Market Guide, wrote the forward for Ms. Goodrich book. She tell us this: "In buying and reading this book, you are taking a critical step toward finding success as a published writer."

I endorse it as a "must have."

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Emotion Thesaurs: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have published a book called The Emotion Thesaurus:  A Writer's Guide to Character Expression.

The book was a result of postings on their online site, The Bookshelf Muse. I have been a subscriber of The Bookshelf Muse for a long time. I made a file for myself of their postings about character types and how they would behave.

The traits are in alphabetical order. I will use sadness as an example. An example of a physical sign of sadness would be "touching a cross or fingering jewelry for comfort". Almost a whole page of physical signs are listed, which gives the writer a wide range of choices to choose from.

Then, the authors list how the character would react internally to this emotion such as "a scratchy throat or the body feeling cold".

The third area, is Mental Responses. A good example here is "a desire to escape the sadness (through sleep, drink, or companionship)".

Cues of Acute or Long-Term Sadness, is the fourth area of information. "Tears pouring, dripping or coursing" is one of the choices in this area that I would use.

The last area is, Cues of Suppressed Sadness. Changing the Subject is a technique I personally use.

At the bottom of each page is a Writer's Tip. Seventy-five tips on good writing are an additional bonus. The book begins with an eleven page introduction and closes with suggestions of additional reference books that will help the writer "show not tell" about the characters in her/his book.

You should buy this book and also check out The Bookshelf Muse for lots of good writing tips. I purchased this book as soon as it was available, and I keep it within handle reach as one of my favorite reference tools.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Book Doctor by Robyn Conley

The best way to do that is to run stark naked with your creativity. Don’t be afraid to bare those virgin thoughts, no matter how your conscious mind chastises the behavior.
These are just some of the hilarious lines in the book, written by Robyn Conley, Be Your Own Book Doctor.

Robyn Conley, the book doctor and speaker, writes about writing, editing, and marketing what you write. She can show you how to find the problems in your work which keep it from selling to publishers or snatching an agent’s interest.
She writes in a fun and easy to understand way which really helps writers create stories, edit like a professional, and helps sell a book. In the first part of the book, she writes about giving your book a professional diagnosis. By that, she means find problems in your plot. After you find problems from your plot, she gives suggestions on how to fix them.

She gives tips on how to make your book even stronger whether it is fiction or non-fiction. She gives tips on strengthening dialogue, characters, and plot. Telling of her personal experiences, she helps you learn the easy way to making a better book.
Now being done writing and editing, it’s time to sell the book. She calls the last part of her book cosmetic nips and tucks, talking about query letters, synopsis, marketing, and network, network, network. Then after you have cured the book it is time to get a second opinion.  Like hiring people to read your work or getting a critic group to do that for free. By the end of this how-to-book, your book will become a gem all will want to read.

Be Your Own Book Doctor is her tenth book. Others include John Grisham, Cartoonists, Alexander G. Bell, Meerkats, Depression, Motion Pictures, The Automobile, Living the Rapture, and What Really Matters to Me – a journal which helps people discover their goals, and then offers practical tips to make those dreams come true.

Bethany Calloway – high school book reviewer-extraordinaire

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monday Night With the "Big Boys"

Growing up in the South, my family get-togethers started out with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc eating, visiting, fishing, and generally having a good time before it morphed into an innocent, but fierce game of penny-ante poker. You know those games where the mason jars and Folgers cans full of change come out and if the winner went home with five or ten dollars, they’d really owned the table.

While those family times were fun, those backyard poker games aren’t the ones other people can’t wait to watch. It’s shows like Celebrity Poker Showdown that has the public’s attention. Yep. Those little jars filled with nickels and dimes were no match for playing with the big boys.

Writing is the same way. It’s great to be able to pour out our passion on paper or computer and let our family members gush over it and encourage us regardless of how much editing it’s in need of. We all need that. It inspires us to keep writing. But there comes a time that if we want to “play with the big boys” in the publishing world, no matter if it’s a small publishing house or a large one, or even a magazine, we’re going to have to bring more to the table than our pages of passion and prose. We’re going to have to up the ante on our skills.

On this blog, we’ve recommended oodles of books in the past. Today, I want to focus instead on a writer’s site that can potentially help us fine tune our skills so that our passion and prose has a better chance of reaching farther than our families.

My Book Therapy is a great place to connect with other writers of all skill levels in a Monday night chat that focuses on a specific writing related topic. They also have all their past chats archived for our viewing and learning pleasure. I’ve been able to find wealth of information on subjects such as the black moment, GMC, and vast number of topics that are not only more bite-size than a book in reading, but also because of questions and answers within the chat, I’ve often had experiences where I’d have a little different perspective than what I’d read in a book. That explanation within the Monday night chat gave me that “aha” moment I needed in understanding a certain concept.

The chats are held mostMonday nights at 7pm Central time at But, as I mentioned above, they archive their chats to make them available at your leisure.

Before I go, I thought I 'd share some of the recent topics I’ve found interesting. Enjoy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

This month we at Books to Write by introduce a new blogger to our blog, Bethany Calloway. Bethany loves to write fantasy with an element of mystery. She is a high school student who studies AP English and enjoys Marching Band where she is currently Junior Drum Major.

Welcome, Bethany Calloway!

In Writing Magic, by Gail Carson Levine author of Ella Enchanted, helps get the creative juices flowing, tears down writer’s block, and assists writers in creating stories which fly off the page. 

"In Writing Magic, Newberry Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets of great writing. She shows how you, too, can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable characters- and much ,much more. She advises you about what to do when you feel stuck- and how to use helpful criticism. Best of all, she offers writing exercises that will set your imagination on fire. With humor, honesty, and wisdom, Gail Carson Levine shows you that you, too, can make magic with your writing."

The author eases you into writing by starting off with easy little writing assignments then gradually gives more and more challenging writing assignments. The great part of this book is that it helps organize writing ideas and generates possible plots. Also, the exercises have awesome names which make you excited to write like the first exercises is A Running Start and it ends with Exeunt Writing.

The book, has five sections, 1. Liftoff  2. Hearts and Guts 3. Plowing Through  4. Digging Deeper  5. Writing Forever, which help you start the beginning of a book and takes you to the very end. It helps you through the process of writing a book, and shows you how to write each section of a book successfully. 

This is a book about writing fiction. But it should help you write anything from e-mails, essays, and greeting cards to love letter and skywriting. It help you in writers blog by give you easy to do writing exercises that unleashes you creativity.

Writing Magic is a well written non- fiction book that helps ages 8 & up write fiction. It's great book which help people get start writing.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke

We here at Books to Write by are excited to introduce to our readers a guest blogger posting today. She has an amazing book to share with you. However, before we get to the review, let's meet her...

Karin Beery is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. With over 300 articles published, her work also blogs, novels, guide books, and more. An active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network (PEN), and the Evangelical Press Association, Karin enjoys writing and editing in all forms, as well as helping others achieve their writing goals. Karin lives in northern Michigan with her husband, aunt, and two cats.

Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke


What’s more important to a story: a gripping plot or compelling characters? The best fiction is rich in both. This hands-on guide to creating a well-rounded novel embraces both of these crucial story components. Plot Versus Character takes the guesswork out of creating great fiction by giving you the tools you need to inject life into your characters and momentum into your plot. (from the back cover)

 A follow-up to his first craft book, The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, this book is exactly as the title suggests – a look at crafting deep, believable characters and attention-holding plots. 

In Plot Versus Character, Gerke begins by identifying novelists as one of two types: character-focused and plot-focused writers. By focusing on one aspect and ignoring the other, however, writers often end up with one of two stories: rich, interesting characters who do nothing, or stereotypical, shallow characters saving the world.  Though he encourages readers to know which type of writer they are, Gerke’s book discusses both sides and is mapped out to take a writer through the entire process – from character development to the denouement – in order to create a well-rounded novel.

The first section of the book – Memorable Characters – walks you through character development. Gerke starts with Core Personality and Physical Attributes, digs into the character psyche to find The Knot (core issue/struggle), and takes you right to The Final State. It’s more than just knowing whether or not your hero is an introvert. Gerke looks at the complete inner workings of your characters. He shows you the steps to take to find out every little cog that makes them tick. By the time you finish, you’ll know your characters better than you know your spouse.

The second section – Marvelous Plots – looks at the external components of the story: the plot. Using a traditional Three Act layout, Gerke takes the information from section one and shows you how to weave your Memorable Characters into the Marvelous Plots. He shows, using numerous examples from books and movies, how characters and plot work together, complimenting each other to tell a captivating story.

Plot Versus Character is easy to read and hard to put down. I kept a notepad beside me, writing down ideas and concerns that I have for my current work-in-progress. This is not a beginner’s craft book. Gerke doesn’t discuss Point-Of-View or Show vs. Tell. This book is more for the writer working on the story, as opposed to the writer working on the writing. He digs deeper and challenges his readers to not just write stories about people, but to write gripping stories about realistic people. A must-read for any novelist. I’ll be reading it again soon.

For more information about Karin Beery, please contact her at:

Writing Tip of the Day