Behind the Scenes During the Writing of ‘Quenton’s Honor’

QUENTON GLOBE EXPERIMENT - TRQUS - w. keyboardPeople often ask me where I get ideas for my novels, and they also like to know the “behind-the-scenes” details of the actual writing. So periodically I share some of those details — especially the ones that I found personally enjoyable or that helped me grow as a writer. The writing of Quenton’s Honor taught me much about dedication and commitment to a project — the kind of commitment that refuses to throw in the towel because tracking down those miniscule details takes multiple phone conversations, some with foreign speaking individuals, and hours poring over dusty facts and figures and then double-checking to see if any of them have changed since I started the research. But it also taught me that even the drudgery work has its own rewards in the positive results of self-discipline.

Quenton’s Honor was actually my third novel, but it was the first of all my novels to be published, with the first printing coming out about 7 years ago. The basic story had been hanging around in my mind and my heart for months before it took enough shape to send me to the keyboard to write the first words. Once I was started, however, there was no stopping. I had to do a considerable amount of research where Pakistan was concerned, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was dealing with a huge time difference between St. Louis Missouri, and Karachi, Pakistan. That time difference didn’t cause me nearly as much trouble, though, as the loss of 12 whole days when I decided — after finishing the novel — to substitute Chapter 3 for Chapter 1.

As often happens in writing a work this long, once it’s done, the author can look back and see new possibilities for the beginning chapter — scenes that will better help grab the reader and get him involved with the story immediately. I realized that Quenton’s Honor would be a better story if I took Chapter 3 and gave it to the readers first. It was a beautiful trade, and I was very happy with it, except for the fact that I had lost 12 days of action. Not to be thwarted, however, I managed to squeeze in a little flashback to grab those 12 days. Of course, I’ll admit it took me 3 days to figure out how to make it all work. But in the end, all was well.

Another editing change came when I turned it over to a friend who reads all my novels critically. I like to have him read my works before anyone else, if possible, because he is very particular about the quality of books he reads and is eager and quick to speak up if a book is lacking in any area. When he read Quenton’s Honor, he loved the book overall and was genuinely touched by several parts, but he was not at all happy with one scene where Quenton’s life is about to be snuffed out by his terrorist guards, and the men sent to rescue him have not arrived. My friend insisted the scene needed more energy and physical action.

Now, this friend is a very shy, introverted, quiet-spoken person, and definitely not the physical confrontation type. However, when I asked him for his ideas about changes to that particular scene, he got up from his desk and began to act out all the parts of the physical confrontation for the scene. I sat and watched him with my mouth open. Here was an entirely different person from the one I’d known several years. He was so energized as he acted out all the parts that he made a believer out of me, and I went home and re-wrote that scene exactly the way he had acted it out. Of course, I acknowledged him gratefully in the front of the book.

So far, readers seem to find the changes I made very agreeable. Any of the rest of you who read the book are welcome to let me know what you think as well —  about the beginning, the short flashback, and the fight to save Quenton’s life — or just about the story in general.

The printed version of Quenton’s Honor is available from St. Ellen Press, and the digital version is available from Amazon’s Kindle Store. The publisher plans to make the print version available on Amazon this summer.

[Background globe photo by Prawny. Used by permission. Edited.]


You Know You’re In Love When …

AMOEBA MAN UNDER LOVE WEIGHTI’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks. I’ve had my notes right in front of my computer keyboard — just sitting there — waiting.  But other stuff kept me busy, and before I knew it, one week had gone by and then another. Now, here I am on Thursday of the third week, and I do hope that I haven’t waited so long that some readers out there have been stuck on the verge of a relationship and didn’t know whether to take the plunge or not — all because of my dastardly procrastination.

Well, finally, I am getting this information onto the great Internet information highway. I hope it’s helpful to a few — maybe even several — people who have been looking for love, but weren’t sure what the real thing looked and felt like.Some will agree with me. Some will not. But here are two lists that I think are pretty close to the mark.

You know you’re in love when …

1. You think about the person all the time.

2. You can’t seem to remember to do even the ordinary everyday things that you always did before getting to know the person.

3. You can’t stay focused on any one project because your mind keeps wandering to this person and keeps daydreaming about him/her.

4. Every time you experience something beautiful or good your first thought is that you want to share it with this person.

5. Every time you experience something hurtful or difficult, you want to run and tell him/her.

6. You’d rather be in this person’s presence than anywhere else in the world.

7. When you’re together, you feel that you two are in your own private world and that you don’t really need anybody else.

8. You constantly want to give to this person — give of your time, your energy, your material possessions. You’re eager to buy gifts for this person, to help him/her do his work, to create and plan things and events that will delight him/her.

9. You realize that this person’s welfare and happiness are much more important to you than your own.

Okay, so after studying this list, you have decided that you are indeed in love with the person in question. Now what do you do about it?  Well, don’t do anything at all until you’ve studied this next list:

You know it’s SAFE to love this person because …

1. You know in your heart — and from practical experience — that you can trust this person. He/She has kept your confidences, been totally honest on all fronts, and has actively taken your side in any conflict or attack that could mean hurt to you.

2. You know in your heart — based on this person’s actions and treatment of you — that he/she  will never deliberately hurt you — in fact will go out of his/her way to keep from hurting you — and will cherish and guard your love and your welfare above everything else in his/her life. No other individuals or their opinions affect this person’s feelings for and treatment of you.

3. This person makes you want to be the very best person you can be in all areas of your life. He/she constantly draws out of you your best thoughts, feelings and behavior.

4. This person always makes you feel valuable and worthy of love.

5. This person adds good to your life and enriches you and your life. He/she does not deplete any part of you — or make you feel as if you’re lacking or failing to measure up somehow.

6. This person puts your welfare and happiness above his/her own. When decisions are to be made, he/she bases those decisions on how the outcome will affect you before considering how it will effect himself/herself.

Taking action based on the results of both lists:

If all the descriptions in list # 1 match you — but very few of the descriptions in list # 2 match the person you believe you’re in love with —  RUN — DON’T WALK — RUN from any development of a closer relationship.

On the other hand, if all the descriptions in list # 1 match you — and all the descriptions in list # 2 match the person you believe you’re in love with — GRAB HIM — or HER —  AND DON’T LET GO.


Here’s to falling in love this summer ……..


Date on a budget?

Sandra Conner:

Had to reblog this: SO FUNNY, but also right on target in focusing on what love relationships should be about.

Originally posted on martafrant:

At first glance it might seem that a man who can’t support the economy is unattractive to the opposite sex.

But it is not so. If you have to break your favorite piggy bank to arrange a date but its contents (you have been depriving yourself of school lunches for 2 years) will only be enough to buy some candy and flowers (or some school lunches), you have no reason to despair.

So, how to arrange a date without spending a lot of money:

– Buy bread and feed ducks. This activity can not only tell her that you love animals but also that you will always be the breadwinner in your future family.

–  Buy a small sapling and plant it together. It will shed light on another your virtue. She will realize that since you can plant a tree, to build a house and raise a son is a piece of…

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The Birthing of a Hero

I wrote this piece last year as part of a 20-minute writing exercise. I thought it deserved to have a post as a short story.

WOMAN AT COMPUTER - w. man & cityThe Birthing of a Hero

Matthew couldn’t breathe. Well – no – that wasn’t right. He could breathe, but he felt as though he were being pushed through a very narrow tunnel, and it was squeezing the breath right out of him.

Whooooosh! Ah — now — now he could breathe normally again. But what had just happened? He looked around him.

“Holy cow! Where am I?” Surrounded by buildings taller than anything he could have imagined, with traffic rushing past him just to his left, he felt a little dizzy and disoriented. He shook his head to try to clear it, and that’s when he noticed the girl standing about four feet way from him.

“Hi.” she said, almost bashfully.

“Uh … hi yourself. Uh … do I know you?”

She giggled. “Not yet. But you will.”

“What does that mean?” He looked around in all directions as if trying to locate something. “And what on earth is that racket?”

“What racket?”

“That incessant tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.”

She tilted her head to listen better, and a moment later she answered. “Oh, that. I’ve learned to just close it out after all these weeks. It’s the sound of the keys on the keyboard.”

“What keyboard?”

“Melissa’s, silly. She’s the author.”

“What’s an author?”

“Oh, I forgot that you couldn’t know all that yet. It takes a while to figure things out once you get here, but I’ve been here so long that I’ve pretty well gotten acclimated to everything.”

Matthew tried clearing his head with a shake again. “Wait … what? … What are you talking about? What’s going on? Where am I anyway?”

The girl let out a huge sigh. “Okay. I’ll start from the beginning. Melissa Pendergast is an author, and she writes romance novels. She’s writing one now. I’m the heroine. My name’s Abigail, by the way,” she said, extending her hand to him.

He shook her hand but eyed her suspiciously. “And just what does that have to do with me?”

“Why you’re going to be the hero of the story.” She paused, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “And … the love of my life.”

“You’re crazy! I don’t even know you.”

Abigail sighed again. “Of course you don’t — yet. You just got here. Melissa has just now decided who you will be. Well, just a couple of days ago anyway. I heard her talking to her best friend, so I know what the plan is now. She decided to call you Matthew because her very first boyfriend – in sixth grade – was named Matthew, and she did it in honor of him.”

“Whoa — wait — start over, will you?”

Abigail began to get a little irritated. “I don’t need to start over. You just need to pay attention. Melissa is writing a love story and you are my lover. We are supposed to meet on the street right in front of that store over there on the corner. I’m supposed to get my heel caught in a grate at the edge of the curb, and you come to my rescue before a horde of people practically mow me down in their hurry to cross the street in the short time the light says ‘Walk.’

“So I’m in a book?”

“That’s right. And I understand it’s supposed to get a little steamy.” She smiled broadly now. “But I have to say that I’m not at all sorry. You’re quite a hunk, you know.”

“Well … thanks … but … I’m not sure I want to be in somebody’s book – even this Melissa’s.”

“Oh, don’t worry. She’s a great writer, and thousands of people love her books. We’ll be two of the most popular people in the world before too long. At least … I hope it’s before too long. She had a hard time sticking with this story. That’s why I’ve been around so long – waiting for you. She hit a block of some kind, but now everything seems like a go, and I can hardly wait.”

“So, when I felt like the breath was being squeezed out of me, that’s when I was being birthed into this story, so to speak?”

“That’s right. That’s exactly how it feels! But you’re okay now, aren’t you?”

Matthew looked himself over, took a nice deep breath, relieved that he could, and answered. “Yeah, I think I’m okay. But what do we do now?”

“Just relax for a few minutes. I think Melissa just finished the second chapter, and she’s about to have us meet. This is so exciting. I think I’m falling in love with you already.”


Share Your World, 2015 – Week 21

Cee’s instructions this week are to choose four subjects from a list she has posted. Under each of those subjects, list four things. So here goes.

(This is a particularly difficult category because as a musician, I have some songs that are my favorites to play, but then as a listener, there are some other songs that are my favorites to listen to. And then, of course, there’s my love for Christmas, which automatically puts some of those songs at the top of the list — and my love for Jesus, which throws in a couple dozen hymns and worship songs. So limiting myself to 4 songs is going be hard, but I’ll give it my best shot.)

1. “I’ll Be Seeing You” (This song is my ALL-TIME favorite from all categories)

2. “God Rest You Merry Genglemen” (My favorite Christmas song).

3. “White Christmas” (My second favorite Christmas song and one of my favorites from any category)

4. “Great is Thy Faithfulness” (Classic Hymn)


1. Daisies

2. Sunflowers

3. Peonies

4. Honeysuckle



1. Dogs

2. Cows (I think cows are possibly the most valuable animal God ever made. They are beautiful, they are serene and peace inducing, and they give nourishment. How much more can you ask from any animal?).

3. Birds (Especially Cardinals, Mockingbirds, and Bluebirds)

4. Horses (I haven’t ridden since I was a child, but a beautiful, healthy horse is such a beautiful thing to watch running through the field and enjoying life.)



1. The character of Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.  (Played by one of America’s most talented comedians of all time: Don Knotts. Almost anything he does is truly funny, and some of his scenes are so hilarious that I laugh loud and long even when I’ve seen them zillions of times before.)

2. The scene from the original 1940’s version of Miracle on 34th Street where the toy department manager’s wife is soaked with martinis and is trying to talk on the phone to invite Santa Clause to come and stay at their home. (It’s hilarious, and I love acting out the scene for people who have never seen it. It truly a masterpiece scene from the classic movies library.)

3. Watching puppies play. (Just this week, I watched a video on Facebook that recorded a little dog getting ready to go to sleep in his carrier, but wanting a stuffed teddy bear in the carrier with him. The teddy bear was bigger than he was, but he worked really hard until he had it pulled inside with him. Unfortunately, I can’t get a copy of it to share.)

4. Laid-back, dry-wit humor — especially that from some of my writing friends.

Below is one of my favorite segments of Barney on the “Andy Griffith Show”:


Bonus Question: What are you thankful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week ahead?

I’m thankful that last week my digital books began selling on Amazon and that people are already ordering them. Next week I’m looking forward to getting geared up and prepared to teach the new Creative Writing Camp for Kids, which starts on June 8.

Visit Cee’s blog to get the details and join in the fun



A Novel of Inspiration, Patriotism, and Romance

QUENTON FRONT COVER -- NICE AND SHARP FROM CD FOR KINDLE - croppedDiscovering a terrorist plot and risking your life to stop it before three U.S. cities are destroyed, receiving a visitation from an angel with important information from the Lord, falling in love with someone halfway around the world — through the help of a rusty old computer — and learning that it’s never too late to give your life to Jesus Christ.  What more could any reader want from one book?

QUENTON’S HONOR (by me) has it all, and it’s just waiting at the Amazon Kindle Store to be snatched up by readers for their Kindles, Nooks, iPads, tablets, iPhones, and Androids. The novel has been out in paperback edition for several years, but this month saw its debut in digital format, and it’s available only on Amazon.

If you’re looking for a fresh, inspiring reading experience, check it out.
It’s worth $3.99 — even if I do say so myself.

You can also visit the “Quenton’s Honor” Facebook page to meet the characters and learn more about the book.

(Paperback version is currently available from St. Ellen Press, but will also be available on Amazon in June.)






God’s Angel Protects Us

Sandra Conner:

Are you worried or fearful today? Let this post from “Pure Glory” help change all of that. God’s Word and His angels are just as real and as dependable today as they’ve ever been. Let yourself believe and receive the glorious benefits of child-like trust in Jehovah.

Originally posted on Pure Glory:

iurby Hazel Straub

There is no need for anxious fear. Cry out to God and he will answer, when you have come to the end of yourself. He desires for you to live in freedom. from all your fears. Depend on him, not yourself!

Pray! He will never fail you. No never!

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray. (Psalm 34:7 MSG)

© Crown of Glory International Ministries. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author and/or owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Crown of Glory International Ministries,

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Waking Up in the 21st Century

BOW & ARROW -- QUIVER COVER FOR KINDLE - beige - NARROWEDI don’t like to think of myself as old-fashioned or boring. I enjoy the fact that 21st-century technology has made our lives a lot easier and made communication a lot richer. On the other hand, I do begrudge the quiet time, face-to-face interaction, and just plain good manners in the company of others that were thrown out the window with the adoption of some of that technology.

However, I have faced the fact that the world has changed dramatically during my lifetime. Life is now digital with a capital ‘D.’ So I have finally come to the place that I am eager — okay maybe not eager — but I’m very WILLING —  to get involved in making all of my written work available for the readers out there whose lives are now 90% digital.

And there are so many of them. I’m completely outnumbered. I’ll never forget the day one of my editors (considerably younger than I) said, “Just e-mail me the manuscript.” I looked at him, shocked, and said, but then you’ll have to print it all out yourself.”  He looked back at me with what I’m sure was a mixture of impatience and pity, and said, “We read from the screen now.” I’m sure the words that were really going through his young mind were something like, “You poor, old-fashioned little thing. The world is passing you by, and you don’t even know it.” Now, about 10 years later, I’m finally used to the fact that people love reading words that are not delivered in the form of ink on paper.

That being the case, my publisher and I finally set up shop in the Amazon Kindle store this past week. And several of my books will be available through that market by the end of the month.

Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not going overboard technologically.  I still have my little flip phone rather than a smart phone or an Android. And I still use my trusty old desktop PC with a tower that weighs nearly a ton. So I’m not going super modern here. But I do want all those folks out there who have been asking me for the past couple years if my books are available for e-readers yet to finally hear me say, “Yes, you can get them from Amazon.”

So, there we have it. You’ve heard it here first — well, almost. One or two other people who are excited about the fact that they can FINALLY read my books while they travel have been spreading the news around. But, other than those few, you readers and my Facebook followers are the first to know.

One of the novels that went up this week is A Quiver Full of Arrows, and many of you who were following me last year will remember it. I had written only half of it about three years ago, and I decided to write the rest of it in serialized form right here on the blog — one chapter a day — until I had made myself finish it. You were very gracious in your response to it, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It will no longer be posted here for a free read, however, since it is now in the Kindle store.

If you’re one the folks who read it and enjoyed it, I hope you encourage friends to buy it. And if you were not following at the time I posted it, then that’s a good reason for you to visit the Kindle store and take a peak.

Hint:  If you click on the picture of the book cover above, it will take you to the page where three of the books are already listed in the store.  There should be at least four more in the store by the end of May. You’ll also find the link to my Amazon author’s page in my right sidebar.

Progress is a good thing, generally, but it can also be just a tad poignant. I came close to shedding a tear or two when I said goodbye to my trusty old Canon typewriter several years ago. But I do like the ease with which I can edit and correct text with a computer document program instead. And I’m sure I’m going to enjoy the world of electronic books just as much  — now that I’ve finally gotten myself in gear. So look out, 21st Century: here I come!


Mommy and Me

A girl’s cooking lessons need to start at a very early age. Of course, the fact that I’m obviously trying to look into an oven that has no glass window in the door might make one think that I was not an apt pupil. However, since my mother was a superb cook, I did learn to excel in the kitchen.MOMMY & ME - COOKING -brightened


After a hot day in the kitchen, of course, we had to sit out on the porch and relax in the fresh air. We lived in a very old and very small apartment in Fort Wayne, IN, at the time — while my dad was in college. The war had been over for only three years, and since he had joined the Marines at 17, he’d had no chance to continue his schooling until he was discharged. He was finishing work for his degree and writing for the Fort Wayne Sentinel newspaper.



But little girls do eventually grow up — and mommies too. It’s pretty easy to tell by the flowery dress I’m wearing that this was very late 1960’s.

BRENDA, MOM, SANDY 1968 me and mom only

My mother went to be with the Lord more than 30 years ago, but I still miss her every day. I do not grieve, but I am just aware that my life is a little less bright because of not having her sweetness, her graciousness, and her sense of fun actively in my life now. However, I know I will be with her again when I finish this earthly journey, and that makes all the difference.

To all of you mothers out there who are still sharing this earthly life with your children, I sincerely wish you a happy, blessed, fun-filled, and memorable Mother’s Day, 2015!


Friday Fictioneers, 5/8/15 — ‘Soul Ties’

This week’s Friday Fictioneers photo just pulled the following story right out of me. Had no idea it was in there, but that’s half the fun of writing, isn’t it? Photo is courtesy of Madison Woods.  My story is below the picture.


Photo – © Madison Woods



“Margo, you’ve been staring at that spigot for twenty minutes.”
“What?” Margo suddenly looked at Jane.
“Why are you just staring at that spigot?”
“I was … uh … I was remembering ….”
“Remembering what?”
“You know … the prison camp.”
“What prison?”
“We were each allowed only one small cup a day.”
“You were never in a prison camp!”
“I’ve known you all your seventeen years. You’ve never been in prison.”
“The Nazis ….”
“That was your great-great-great grandmother. You never even met her.”
Margo turned questioning eyes back to the spigot. “But I remember … being so desperately thirsty … and how slowly the water ran out ….”



Sometimes Nonsense Is Good for the Soul

LEMON - CROPPEDLemons Can Be Beneficial to Your Marriage

I cut up a lemon and ate it.
The peel I did wash and then grate it;
Added it to hors d’oeuvres.
But it got on my nerves:
I was still puckered up four hours later.

So my hubby said, “Let’s do some kissin’,
‘Cause, for sure, some of that I’ve been missin.”
So we smooched ’til he said,
“I feel like newlyweds!”
Now, hubby more lemons is fixin.’

(This is the kind of stuff we poets write when we’re straining to find anything else to do in order to keep from doing the work we’re supposed to be doing.)



3 Poems by Christian Authors Featured in the ‘Journal’

This is actually a re-blog from Debut Writers Journal, but the first re-blog did not work correctly, so I’m doing it this way. 

MULTI-COLOR CROSSSeveral of our creative writing students are Christians, and they like to write a lot about Jesus Christ and the things He’s revealed to them in their personal walk of faith. The links below are to poems by two of those writers, published inDebut Writers Journal.  If you do enjoy the poems or are blessed by them, please leave the poets a comment on their individual poem pages to encourage them in their efforts to write poetry that touches hearts.

by Richard T. Tierney

by Melinda Ashley

by Melinda Ashley