Kind the Kitten

Recently, I saw a Kohl’s advertisement on Facebook, displaying attractive t-shirts for girls to wear to school. The t-shirts promote the non-profit Kind Campaign against girl-to-girl bullying. I like these styles, especially the gray one: Being Kind Never Goes Out of Style, and t he pink and white kitten shirt.

I immediately thought of another kind of kind — our gray and black striped kitten, Kind! We named this kitty Kind to help teach the little ones to be kind to him, and how to hold him properly.🙂 When we named him Kind, I really thought it was crazy, naming an animal after a character trait. But, when the kids were actually nice to the kitty, I’m not laughing as much at this cute kitty. He really is the kindest kitten ever.😀

So, looking for a pet name? Have little kids and want to teach them something that will stick with them forever? Name your pet a character trait!🙂

What’s the funnest pet name you’ve ever heard of?

Rare Photo: Writer’s Desk

That rare moment when your writing desk is clean! I think it lasted all of one day.

Before I jumped into novel editing and preparing for the upcoming ACFW writing conference! Now, I don’t even want to Show you my happy mess.🙂 I’d be afraid you’d send me a desk organizer. I. Like. My. Piles. Well, until they start falling over. Then, okay, I’ll take the tray.

What does your desk look like when it doesn’t have a life? Or what does it look like when it finally can breathe?

writing desk

Friday Fiction Book Review: Anchor in the Storm – Sarah Sundin


anchor in the storm book review

Book 2 in the Waves of Freedom series by Sarah Sundin. Once I opened to the first page, I couldn’t put this book down. Such a treasure of humor amid heartache, heroism, and when love comes from a heart that is focused on God. Sarah’s finest novel yet — well, they’re all wonderful — but this one left me with tears in my eyes.

Arch and Lillian fight inner battles with God and letting go of their own failures, until devastating events cause them to realize how important opening up to God really is. I love the depth of characters that adds to the depth of story. Over and over, I found myself nodding my head, saying, “Oh, that’s so true!” Sarah paints a realistic picture of what the heart really feels — and how much God can heal it.

I laughed, I cried, I gripped the edge of my seat with every page. And I can’t wait for the third installment — Quintessa Beaumont and Dan Avery!

WWII hats

This is just a peek into my vintage hat collection — WWII pieces and a few from the 1950s. Interestingly enough, I found most of these hats at one auction back in 2009.

Post a photo of your favorite hat! I’d love to see it! (Does not have to be vintage.)

National Book Lover’s Day

In honor of National Book Lover’s Day, I thought I’d share what led me to write, and how I began as a writer. I realize it’s almost past this special book-loving day, but I was away all day, working on a book!🙂

I’d always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until I read a book Tall and Proud by British author Vian Smith, that I actually sat down and wrote books, many books–books that turned into a 16-book handwritten series.

The book that had inspired me was about a girl who’d had polio, and wanted to ride her horse again. Only, her horse was injured, too. Naturally, the story was intriguing because both the girl and horse had to get well together. Even if you may not like horses, you might enjoy this quick read — the author spins a compelling tale of dedication and love between the family and the horse. (There’s even a mystery involving escaped convicts!)

For my stories, I wrote on wide-ruled loose leaf paper and bound them in three places with pieces of ribbon. Later, I learned that college ruled paper worked better.

Gone are the days of handwriting novels — although that’s very therapeutic to do now from time to time. You can connect better with the story you’re writing — and I now have two yellow-paged copies of Tall and Proud on my shelf, but the beginning of this desire to write has blossomed into something that I could have never imagined.

It’s 11:58pm. Enjoy your last two minutes of #NationalBookLoversDay!



Novel Writing: Town History, Part 4

It’s always fun to dig into the history of the town you’re writing about.

In my novel, To Rise, I incorporate into one of my scenes a delightful poem written by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr that encourages Laurie, my main character. (Since Laurie’s father is a writer, it’s only fitReinhold Niebuhrting that Niebuhr knows the family — writers unite.)whimsical map of Illinois

Granted, you’re thinking of “The Serenity Prayer,” but this is not the poem I’m referring to, because this well-known poem was published in 1951. And my novel is set in the 1940s. Definitely using the fiction side of historical fiction!

Doing a bit of research behind the author of the famous poem, I discovered that Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr grew up in Lincoln, Illinois. His father was the administrator of the Deaconess Hospital in Lincoln. One of his brothers, Walter, was managing editor of the Lincoln Daily NewsHerald newspaper, until he passed away in 1946.
Niebuhr children
Siblings, Left to Right: H. Richard, Reinhold, Hulda, and Walter Niebuhr
A theologian, Reinhold was Dean and Professor of Applied Christianity at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. His photo was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1948. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and was in the top 100 most influential people in the twentieth century (Life magazine, 1990).
So, the next time you’re writing historical fiction or reading historical fiction, appreciate the depth of research it took to create even a small scene to “get the facts just right.” It really adds meaning to the depth of the novel.
What interesting research have you read about, or uncovered?

Historical Fiction Author Interview: Marie Sontag

Hello! Thanks for stopping by! I’m pleased to introduce historical fiction author, Marie Sontag, who, in the midst of the unexpected, refused to let her passion die.

Tisha: Hi, Marie! I’m glad you’ve decided to share your heart with us today! What compelled you to write historical fiction centered in WW2 Poland?

when god closes a door

Marie Sontag: “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” A friend had cross-stitched this phrase for me in 1978 when my hopes of teaching ESL in Poland were dashed. The Christian group that I worked with decided not to send me overseas due to health concerns. Having a Polish paternal grandfather, I felt called to touch the lives of those behind the Iron Curtain, knowing that many of them came from the same religious background I had inherited from my parents. Like myself for many years, I knew that many in Poland had “a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Romans 10:2, NASB).

Stas’ in CA, 2008

Fast forward to 1996. Married to a wonderful husband and raising two boys, we opened our home for one year to a sixteen-year-old foreign exchange student from Warsaw, Poland.





Stas Oct 2016
Twenty years later, he still calls us Mom and Dad.Stas’ in CA, 2016

In 2008 we visited Stas’ and his family in Warsaw, and, in addition to visiting sites such as the Royal Castle. We also toured the Warsaw Rising Museum. That’s where I sensed God opening a window.




Tisha: This sounds fascinating! I love that you didn’t give up when your dream drowned, but that you used a disappointment to feed your desire. How did visiting the Warsaw Rising Museum lead to what you would write?

Poland, 2008

Marie:  One of the Rising Museum’s exhibits told how the Polish Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, ages 10-20, fought alongside the Polish Underground during a two-month suicidal effort called “The Rising” in order to drive the Germans from Warsaw. They hoped to show the Allies that they did not want their country turned over to the Communists at the end of WWII. Their hope for freedom did not materialize until 1989.

mail carriers
Mail carriers

I immediately knew I wanted to write the story of those brave scouts so that youth here in the US would know the heights of bravery others their age had reached, inspiring them to dig deep within themselves to find similar causes worthy of such courage. I uncovered research that told of brave ten-year-olds serving as mail couriers carrying illegal Polish newspapers through the occupied streets of Warsaw. I learned of courageous twelve-year-old girls sloshing through fetid sewers to carry ammunition to various parts of the besieged city, and twenty-year-old scout leaders blowing up railroad tracks to prevent German tanks from reaching the eastern front. Using this research, I wove the information into a young adult historical fiction novel titled, Rising Hope.


Tisha: Thanks so much for sharing your passion, Marie! I’ve learned a bit about Poland, too! Readers, if you’re interested, please check out Marie’s website and follow her on social media. Plus, read the thrilling novel, Rising Hope, that was born out of a simple love trip to Poland!

What are some doors that have closed for you? Have you found your open window yet?

Reviews for Hope Rising


Rising Hope tells this story through the eyes of fictional scouts whose lives intersect with historical figures. Reviewers have said, “Rising Hope is a thrilling young adult novel that tells the story of the Polish Scouts’ involvement in the Warsaw Rising against the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1944.” – The Sarmatian Review

Julian Kulski, age ten when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, and twelve when he joined Warsaw’s fight against them, was the son of the Polish mayor of Warsaw in 1939. Now seventy-seven, Kulski states, “Rising Hope is an homage to all Polish teenagers who fought the German evil so bravely during WWII. A must read.” – Kulski, author of The Color of Courage

Rising Hope Book Trailer:


About Marie Sontag

me_2012 copy

Marie Sontag loves to bring history to life through historical fiction. With a BA, MA and PhD in education, she has taught middle school for over 15 years. She has written a middle grade series “Ancient Elements” that takes place in Ancient Mesopotamia, and book 1 of a young adult series, Rising Hope, placing readers alongside Boy Scouts and Girl Guides who helped the Polish Underground fight the Germans during WWII.

Connect with Marie through her website website

and on Facebook:

Novel Sneak Peak: photo inspiration

I write from inspiration. Photos are a great way to enhance the flavor of your novel. I know it helps me! Over the years, I’ve collected vintage treasures from the era I write about, taken photos at war museums, and so far, these photos have given me clear direction for describing my characters’ world.

Here a few WW2 items that I describe in my WIP novel, To Rise.

I’d love to hear from you! What do you think is the most fascinating? Leave a comment!


Novel Editing: One Sheets Pt. 3

One Sheet Easy

In the midst of editing my novel and preparing for the ACFW writer’s conference, I delved into writing One Sheets for two of the books in my Midwest trilogy.

One piece of paper with author blurb and information, back cover blurb, captivating photo . . . easy, shmeasy, right?

Ah, ha-ha, yeaaaah. No.

Any writer knows that One Sheets are not very easy to write. And I add: not easy to write on your own.

As writers, we work solo until our masterpiece is completed. But then the solo work ends, and we recruit happy beta readers or critical family members to offer their viability on the book matter.

But a One Sheet — now, this is where we can’t do it on our own. Bryan Cohen in his book How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis (which is, by the way, .99 today on Amazon!) hits it home when Bryan says that authors hate writing book cover blurbs, because after they’ve spent countless hours thinking and crafting their novel, a blurb shouldn’t take over eight hours to write.

Alas, it does. I didn’t think it would be too hard, either. Buuut, I slogged through six drafts of my first novel’s One Sheet before I turned to my very honest sister (who will only read a book if the cover blurb is compelling), and said, “Hey, Amanda, will you please read this and tell me if it’s good?”

Five minutes later: “No.”

Ugh. I’d spent hours on it! “Okay, what’s missing?”

“Intrigue. Make me read it.”

I tilted my head, my thoughts turning over and over. “Okay…”

I sat down at my computer and clacked away for about twenty minutes. The adrenaline of trying to please her, to get her to say, “Yes, I want to read this!” spurred me to think very fast.

When the blurb was done, crafted with vivid verbs, imagery, and what I hoped was intrigue, I sat back, very satisfied. But I shouldn’t be the one to be satisfied.

I had to satisfy and sweep the reader into opening the book.

“Okay, Manda, what do you think?”

With interest, she scanned over it. And an eager expression cross her face. “I like it, and I want to read it.”

“Why?” (Always a good question for a writer to ask.)

She smiled. “Because it has the best friend’s brother in there, and I want to know why he’s there.”

Grinning, I knew I had nailed it for at least one reader.

So, the teachable moment? >>> Involved your hard-to-please readers when writing One Sheets! If your back cover blurb sweeps them off their feet, then good chances are, you’ve nailed it!

And you might not even have to spend 10 hours working on it.

>>> I’d like to know — what is your process for One Sheets?  Let me know in the comments! <<<


Standing Tall

novel marketing part 1The more I sifted through the maroon and wood Scrabble tiles, the more I realized I might have to put in a mystery tile to fulfill my Scrabble word choice for this post.

But I reallly wanted a maroon “k” to match my other letters!  And then something happened.

As I fingered the letters in my hand, the three-letter word “tal” flashed across my mind. Tall. Being a writer is like that. In the book world of self-marketing, writers must stand tall.

I wanted to share a marketing post about being comfortable with talking about yourself and your work. As introverts (some of us are, some of us are not, and that’s what makes us all successful together!), we are wallflowers with people we don’t know very well. Sometimes, it’s hard to jump out there and just say, “Hey! How are you?”

But I’m here to encourage you, that before you can talk about yourself, your writing, and our goals in life, you’ve gotta stand tall. Tall, with the courage that there are others out there just like you — just as timid, just as unsure, just as confused about this whole book and self marketing as you are.

So whether you’re going to a conference, venue, or just bumping into someone at the grocery store, use those moments to inquire after someone and listen, and then talk. You never know what’ll happen.
Former president Franklin Roosevelt said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And that fear, my friend, is the only thing inside you that’s keeping you from standing tall, stepping out, and snatching those goals, those dreams, that agent or editor. (Well, maybe not snatch the agent or editor because he/she snatches you, but I had to use alliteration, and that’s the word that came to mind!)

And so, take heart and take that flying leap! Stand tall. And talk.

And just as much leaping as it takes to talk, it’s also necessary to lip it and be silent.😉

Now to leave you with the wise words of Mr. Churchill:

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. — Winston Churchill