We Are Moving

Hello Readers,

We want all of you to know that we are starting over at PaddleCreekWriters.com and would love for you to follow us there.  We are picking up speed and putting out books, and feel we need to focus more on the writing aspect of our lives and to encourage writers and so we started Paddle Creek Writers.  Please join us there!

Thanks for the likes, comments, and follows!  See you soon!

Bev, Michelle, Pat and Susan

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Something for You

We have a great special for our readers today and tomorrow—you can download our free e-book, Prompted to Write from Amazon.  The book includes many unique writing prompts, helpful hints and quotes from writers.  Click below for your copy.  If you find it useful or entertaining, please leave a brief review on Amazon.


Paddle Creek Writers



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The Evolution of Communication

It used to be communicating with someone meant looking across the table and speaking or picking up a pen and thoughtfully writing ribbons of words onto beautiful hand or machine made paper.  Later on, thanks to Mr. Bell, it entailed picking up the phone and dialing. The party on the other end would pick up the ringing contraption and say, “Hello” and from there a conversation would ensue. Excluding telemarketers, these conversations followed the rules of phone etiquette and employed the giving and receiving of information in complete sentences. At the conclusion of a phone call, both parties said “Goodbye” and hung up the phone. When a caller made a call and the phone rang at least ten times, it was generally assumed the party was not home, taking a bath, using the toilet, had something boiling on the stove or eating dinner. A polite caller would try back in hour increments until the party was home, out of the bath, off the toilet, made sure the stove didn’t catch fire or finished dinner. If a caller attempted to call a more antisocial friend or family member they could assume the party could refuse to answer the phone or they could be lying dead at the foot of the basement stairs. If the unreached party was not in the hereafter, a wonderful invention was designed just for the cantankerous individual. It is called an answering machine.

Beyond the invention of the answering machine, whole new technologies came into being, e-mail and cellular phone texting; what I otherwise consider the end of communication, courtesy and civility. For instance: A while back my husband went out of town to a conference. He took me along. Every night we went out to dinner and the majority of those meals were shared with his colleagues, all of whom were military members. I have one thing to say to them. “Gentlemen, it is not polite to e-mail, text and browse the internet when you are sitting across from someone who would much rather see your face than your bald spot or chrome dome.”

Short lines of text and e-mail can be fun and used for immediate information sharing, but I find they are often received at inconvenient moments, do little to create true communication and the shortened verbiage can be confusing. Before the days of prohibitive texting while driving, my husband was having an impromptu text session with our daughter. It went like this. Daughter to Dad: I can’t make it home in time to meet the bus. Dad to Daughter: Y Daughter to Dad: ???? Dad to Daughter: Y Daughter to Dad: Y what? Dad to Daughter: What do U mean Y what? Daughter to Dad: ???? At this point my husband tossed me the phone and told me to deal with her. I figured out that Dad was using Y for why and Daughter was using Y for yes.

It took me a year to discover that some people put extra punctuation into an e-mail sentence on purpose. A semi-colon and a left parenthesis is a winking smiley face. 😉 That is only the beginning of my trials by e-mail. I often get accused of not responding to e-mail. When I get busy working at my four part-time jobs I often forget to check my e-mail. I have whittled my negligence down to a couple of days, instead of a week or two, but I still get complaints. Then there are other times I get lost in the flood of e-mails and get so frustrated trying to figure out what is going on, I give up, sort of like an electronic meltdown without the smell of burning wires. And yes, there are times I am the aforementioned cantankerous individual employing the answering machine theory.

For the most part electronic messaging is a good thing, but it is overused, abused and misconstrued as effective communication..Countless misunderstandings have been caused by e-mail and texting because the parties involved cannot see facial expressions or hear voice inflection. In the days when letter writing was the only form of communication, educated individuals learned how to use the written word to convey thoughts, feelings and perpetuate understanding. In our haste to send quick responses, that art has been lost to decades and centuries past. As a writer I am disturbed seeing the written word abbreviated, symbolized and spit out at the speed of light. The written word is trivialized in our schools to the extinction of children learning cursive writing. It makes me sad to know most of our young people would not be able to read Benjamin Franklin’s letters, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address or their grandmother’s hand written recipes.

The point is this. Texting and e-mail are wonderful tools but should never take the place of the thoughtful conveyance of ideas and emotions via the written word. The person you are sending off a quick electronic missive to probably is not the one in the room or car with you. The person, you are within smiling distance of; needs to see your face, read what is in your eyes, longs for your expressions and wants to communicate in the way we have all desired since man learned his first words. Put down the phone, IPad, laptop or tablet and talk to them. When we learn each other’s stories we are compelled to write the fullness of life and cherish the written word.


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A Surefire Way to Fail at Writing

Today we have a guest, author MaryAnn Diorio.  She offers a free booklet you can download, see at the end of her post.  We hope you enjoy this post, let us know in the comments. Michelle

Author Photo - SmallIf you want to avoid failing at writing, then this could be the most important blog post you will ever read. You see, I’ve failed at writing, so I’m highly qualified to tell you what caused me to fail. I’m also highly qualified to tell you how I turned my failure into success.

First, let’s look at the problem. Failure at writing is due to a number of things, but I’ve boiled them down into one single thing:  a lack of belief in oneself.  Bottom line, writers who fail don’t believe they can succeed.

So, let’s say you’re one of those writers who don’t believe you can succeed at writing. Truth is, you’ve got a problem. A big problem. It’s called unbelief, and God isn’t too thrilled about unbelief.  Just check out Hebrews 11:6.  If you don’t solve your problem of unbelief, not only will you fail at writing, but, horror of horrors, you won’t please God.  As far as I’m concerned, nothing could be worse.

Not all that long ago (okay, 30-some years doesn’t seem so long ago), I was in your shoes. I doubted my ability to succeed as a writer. In fact, I couldn’t even call myself a writer. Right there was the single problem I talked about earlier: I didn’t believe in myself.

So what did I do to change things? What did I do to start believing in myself?  I read a Scripture verse that said “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).  An aha moment!  So, I grabbed hold of my tongue and commanded it to call me a writer.

When people started to ask me what I did for a living, I said “I’m a writer.”  Of course, I nearly choked on the words at first. Calling myself something I wasn’t yet felt like lying, and I abhor lying.

But I had also read Romans 4:17: “God calls those things that are not as though they were.”   Now, I knew for sure that God can’t lie, so I asked Him what He meant by that verse.  He said this verse contains the spiritual principle He used when He created the universe. When God created the universe, He first spoke words and then the words He spoke turned into the substance of the universe.

Another aha moment!  Since I’m made in God’s image, I, too, have to speak words before they turn into the substance of what I want.

So, I wasn’t lying at all. I was simply speaking the truth in advance. I figured if speaking the truth in advance is good enough for God, it’s certainly good enough for me.

So I started speaking words to bring into being what I wanted.  I started calling myself a writer. I started saying that editors were asking me to write for them.  At that point in my career, editors were sending me volumes of rejection letters.

But I kept speaking and speaking and speaking that I was a writer and that editors were asking me to write for them.

A few years went by. I grew more comfortable with calling myself a writer. I started receiving a few acceptance letters. And then, lo and behold, the day came when an editor actually asked me to write for her.

Talk about being excited!  Yes, I was excited about the request to write. But I was more excited at the truth that God’s Word always works if we work it.

What worked for me can work for you, too. To help you, I’ve written a short booklet called Self-Image & the Writer.  It expands in about 10 pages what I’ve discussed in this short blog post. It will be available for one week, until midnight Wednesday, May 21, 2014 . To download your copy, write to me at maryann@maryanndiorio.com and type “Self-Image” in the subject line. Deadlines will be determined by the send date of your email.
Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio writes compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest release, A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING, is a story of the power of forgiveness to heal a broken family. Visit MaryAnn at www.maryanndiorio.com.
A Christmas Homecoming

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Everyone Is A Writer — Sometimes

It’s true. You may not agree with that statement. You may not want to be a full-time WRITER writer, but you are a writer. Or at least you should be.

There is not one among us who does not love receiving a handwritten note. Even with the price of stamps what it is, we still love it. Even with the speed of e-mail and the cuteness of an e-card, we still love it. Even with the fun of texting and the joy that comes from a quick and witty greeting or response, we still love that moment when we gather the mail and we spot our name written in ink by someone’s actual hand and our eyes flash to see what the return address says. 

Oh, we love that moment.

So, here’s the punch line. Do it. Be a writer. Be a writer of handwritten notes. Do it.

Who do you have to say thank you to this week? Who has touched you in a special way and you want to let them know about it? Who is struggling and needs a sweet handwritten “hug”? Who has accomplished something noteworthy? Or finished a project? Or graduated from a program or grade or certification? Who passed a licensing test or received their driver’s license? Who received good news from the doctor or their lawyer or their mechanic? Or bad news?

Who would you like to imagine holding a note, written by you, and smiling? That can happen in just a few days, if you write it today.

How can I afford it? you ask. The answer is simple: plan for it. Pick up a roll of stamps from Sam’s or Costco and have them at the ready. Look at dollar stores and sale bins and everywhere for note cards (or make some yourself). Pull out a basket or plastic tray and line up the cards inserted into the tab of the envelope so they are ready to go. Have your pens and stamps and return address labels ready and convenient. And then, to quote Nike, just do it.

If you send 10 cards a month, that is $5.00 in stamps and $4 or $5 in note cards. Can you spare $10.00 a month? Can you cut one thing out to swing that in your budget? Most of us can. If not, go cheaper on the cards. Use pretty paper and cheap business envelopes. You can still get pretty stationery paper from Wal-mart inexpensively, or Deals. I just picked up an 8 pack of cards from Deals for a buck. That brings the price of 8 handwritten notes to $5.00 ($4 for stamps and $1 for the cards).

What will I say? you ask. It doesn’t have to be profound or prolific or fantabulous…just thoughtful. After you do it a while, you’ll get better at it (if you are struggling now). Just take a moment and address the exact reason you are writing with kindness. That is all that is required. Sign off with thoughtfulness.

How will I find the time? you ask. P.L.E.A.S.E!!! is my sarcastic answer. It does not take but a few moments. If everything is handy, you can whip them out in short order. Not that you won’t take a few extra moments on some; but most of the time it is just a quick thought and gracious appreciation and sealing, stamping, and addressing.

Do NOT … I repeat … DO NOT let the time be your excuse. It can be squeezed into anyone’s schedule. 

You can do this. We can all do this. This simple act is worth every moment and every dollar invested. It means that much to the recipients, old and young alike. 

Will you join the handwritten note brigade? I’m in!! All in!

Patricia Meyers

Click here to go to Pat’s Author Page on Amazon:



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My Imaginary Friend

While out writing away from the chaos at home recently, I happened to read two separate articles that mentioned the same concept. Both articles mentioned inventing an imaginary reader to keep in mind while writing your projects (mostly fiction in this case). Why did they say this?

Know Your Audience

Both article writers said that instead of writing to just any reader or all readers, to instead narrow your audience to one specific person that you can make up. Having an imaginary reader of your work will help you focus on keeping your content consistent without surprising or frustrating your reader. They said this also helps you focus on your specific audience, not to the masses. And it may improve your writing to know who exactly you’re writing for.

So, after reading these articles, I decided to make up an imaginary friend or a “reader” from my audience.

My Imaginary Reader

Naomi is a stay-at-home mom, 30, with two kids under five. She has an Associate’s Degree and would like to get an Early Childhood Degree when her youngest starts school. She is happily married, is a great mom but goes to bed exhausted every night.

She likes to go out with her friends for a movie and dinner or a night of scrapbooking. She loves her kids and takes them to the zoo and the park often. But her busy life leaves little time for fun reading, but when she can, she likes to escape in a good romance novel without swearing or anything to make her blush. Sometimes she buys an e-book, but she still loves turning the pages and using one of her many collected bookmarks.

Naomi and her kids go to the library almost weekly, and she checks out more books than she can find time to read. But she can’t help herself; it’s like being a kid in a candy store. But she loves free reading and thus is one of the library’s best patrons. She also finds books at second hand stores or yard sales and when finished with them, donates them to the library. If they can’t use the books in their system, they will add them to their quarterly book sales. It’s a win-win.

How This Helps Writers

Now when I sit down to work on my novels, I have a person in mind and know that I can’t say or write certain things to disturb Naomi or jar her out of the story. It’s always the writer’s job to keep a reader reading and not make her stop. Having Naomi in mind will help with that considerably.

Naomi will help me stay consistent and keep me true to the plotline without deviating or going off in directions that won’t satisfy or make sense to her.

Who is your imaginary friend? Have you ever thought about coming up with a specific reader? We would love to hear about him or her! Please share in the comments.


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Did She Say Deadline?

Born two months premature, I could wear a tea cup for a hat and my first clothes previously fit a baby doll. As I grew older my dad used to say, “Susan was born early and has been late ever since.” Thankfully I overcame the tardy habit and now prefer to be like a train, on time. That is why I hate deadlines. They make it hard to be on time. Yes, they do motivate and spur me on to do superhuman feats in short time frames, but that does not mean I willingly give myself a deadline or gracefully demur when given one by another party. Upon consideration, I think my distaste for having a hard date to finish a project has a lot to do with fear of failure.

Having reached the ripe age of…never mind, I am not telling you how old I am. Suffice to say I am of voting and drinking age times at least two. Having reached this certain age, one would think I would have gained enough wisdom to turn my nose up at worrying about failure. Wrong. The fear of failure can render me immobile, as evidenced by my recent foray into novel writing. No amount of writing guild classes, NaNoWriMo marathons and writing prompt exercises have prepared me for attempting a multifaceted novel.

Currently, I am on chapter five and stuck. I am second and third guessing every concept and find I am terrified of blowing this. I am scared into considering deadlines. I have now passed through the Twilight Zone and entered the first circle of writing hell. I liken it to being on a spit and slow roasted above a cozy blaze of coals. Characters sit in rooms and refuse to move or talk, permanent dusk has settled on the scenery and all of nature has fallen silent. It is up me to cry “Action!” to get everything moving again, bring the landscapes to life and wake the birds, crickets and bees to cue the sound.

There it is again. After my motivational word picture I am stuck. Even threatening to set a deadline, I am still stuck. What do you suppose it is going to take to get me out of this writing quicksand?



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Books We are Reading

We are all a little busy right now, so we thought we’d post about what we have, are, or are going to read.  As writers, we are all readers also.  And we read a lot!  I hope you enjoy seeing what we are reading, and let us know what you are reading as well.


Bev is getting ready to go on a long trip but has these titles in her stack including The Private Patient by P.D. James, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Live Wire by Harlan Coben, and Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor. And she says most importantly, she reads the Bible.


Right now Pat is reading a challenging book on prayer called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, in her very little free time between a full-time and a part-time job.


Susan says she isn’t currently reading a book.  But she recently finished three last week by Penny Reid, they are Neanderthal Seeks Human, Friends Without Benefits and Love Hacked.  Week before last she read The Frog Prince and Alice In Wonderland by Elle Lothlorian.  Before those she read The Atlantis Plague and the Atlantis Gene by A. G. Riddle.  Before those two she read L. L Bartlett, Dead In Red, Murder On The Mind, Room At The Inn, Dark Waters and Cheated By Death.  One of her favorite authors is Susan Elizabeth Phillips and she thinks she has read all of hers, the most recent being Match Me If You Can.  She has also read all of the books she could get her hands on by Harlan Coben, Lee Child, J. D. Robb, Tess Gerritsen, Ann Frasier and Katia Leif.  She loves suspense.


Being home all day with the kiddos doing their schoolwork and around my household duties, I fit in as much reading as possible. In the last few weeks I’ve read two books by Jon Acuff; Start and Quitter, Try Dying by James Scott Bell, and The End of Dieting by Joel Furhman, M.D. Currently I am reading Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and waiting in my stack to read are several books, which include Reunion by Lauraine Snelling; Death by the Book by Julianna Deering; A Heartbeat Away and Six-Liter Club, both by Harry Kraus, M.D.; Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins; Homeschooling Methods by Paul & Gena Suarez; Missing You by Harlan Coben; Gray Ghost by William G. Tapply and Wuthering Heights which I’ve never tackled by Emily Bronte. Good thing the library offers renewals, huh?

What are you reading now and what’s in your to read stack? Do you have a favorite author you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Bev, Pat, Susan, Michelle

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Less Mess

“It’s a beautiful day,” says hubby. “Let’s wash windows.”

“Wait, did you say windows?” said I.

“The sun is shining. All is well in the Universe. And our windows need washing. Where’s the vinegar?” He grinned an irritating grin. “ You can do the front door, but remember not to touch Annie’s window.”

As if I’d forget and wash the slobbered on, mucked up, cloudy, mess of a window pane that brings us a warm feeling every time we see it. It’s covered with a pattern that only the loving nose of a beloved beagle could tattoo on the glass as she waited for us to come home each time we left the house. She was our joy, but she’s been in heaven seven years, and her window hasn’t been cleaned since she left us.

Our kids call it the “Annie Memorial Window,” but I think of it as a reminder that life can be messy but love endures. Don says if we ever decide to sell the house we’ll worry about cleaning it up then. It will take elbow grease and some tears but it can be done.

That windowpane comes to mind sometimes when I’m working on my novel. I’ve been writing that book since NaNoWriMo 2007. Seven years ago. Started it just after Annie left us. It is a joy. But it is a cloudy, undisciplined joy. I know I should clean up the messy parts and wash away the slobber, but unfortunately I have fallen in love with my story and am reluctant to part with things that are clearly muck.

Oh, sure, I could get out the vinegar and make things crystal clear. But the murkiness has grown on me and I like the story the way it is. It’s familiar and I can tinker and play and stay comfortable. However, if I should ever get serious and decide that I would like to sell the book, it’s going to take some elbow grease and some tears to get it shiny clean and ready to show. I don’t want to have to wait for a sunny day, though, maybe I’ll tinker with it today.


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Spring Writer’s Retreat

The four of us drove to a cottage in a town not far from where the Mississippi and Illinois rivers join for a weekend writer’s retreat. What an awesome setting and a great time we had! There was much laughter and writing as we worked together on our individual projects.

As a mother of younger children (who I love dearly, mind you), these retreats not only give me time to think (and to go to the bathroom alone!), but for precious uninterrupted writing time. It is great to get in the groove and be able to stay there for a long stretch without having to answer a homeschooling question or change a dirty diaper or stir the Crockpot. It is also good for the family to experience life without mom for a while and then appreciate me more when I get home (who doesn’t want that?!). It’s a win, win!

There’s something about getting together with likeminded writers and spending a weekend together. We always bring way too much food, and stuff the refrigerator with enough food to feed a small town. And we share jokes and stories from our families and talk about books we’ve read or are reading now.

Other Benefits

Going on retreat also gives me time to think through a novel in progress, or what direction another project needs to go, or about a character’s background or a host of other things that need serious quiet thinking. And the time away energizes me to keep going and to figure out goals for the next conference or retreat.

Getting away from regular routine living is always refreshing and can help creativity flourish. It’s also a great way to ask each other questions and get input on wherever we are on our books. We seem to feed off each other which inspires us to get more work done.

Other Retreat Possibilities

Maybe a whole weekend away is not in your future or possible economically. But there are other ways to go on ‘retreat’—many of them free or for just a few dollars. Perhaps a trip to the local library for a peaceful work atmosphere would satisfy, or reading a book in a quiet café or jazz bar can rejuvenate your spirit. Being outdoors in nature is always a good bet. Just sitting in the sunshine with a book works for me. Another idea is to visit a park depending on the weather to people watch or read a book. Do something you enjoy for a few hours either alone or with a friend without feeling guilty. It’s important to fill ourselves up, especially as women or mothers who might have little ones who constantly need us.

What works for you? How do you ‘retreat’ from life for a while? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you and get new ideas.


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