Back on the Writing Track After a Tragedy

By Rebecca Waters


When my husband and I decided to retire early, Tom announced he was going to fish and golf every day. “What are you going to do?” he asked me. Now, I like to golf and I fish a little (lay in the sun a bit more) but every day? Not likely. I prayed about it. I was a professor at a Christian university and fully engaged on a day-to-day basis. To go from “all to nothing” held no appeal.

Our plan was to retire at the end of the calendar year. I had twelve months to figure out what I wanted to do…or maybe more importantly, what God wanted me to do. I prayed and on a February morning told Tom I was going to be a published author. I had long harbored a secret desire to write something other than educational reports to the state. Go figure.

Pursuing my dream

I pursued that dream and in March, 2014, my first novel, Breathing on Her Own was published. It was a time of celebration. In the two years after reaching the decision to write, I had published twice in Chicken Soup for the Soul, had several articles published in magazines and writing journals, and had my first novel released. I had three other novels at various stages as well in my “Works in the Mill” file. It was a heady time for me. And Tom was all in. He even went with me to the photographer for my headshot, gently moving one of my unruly strands of hair aside before the shot was taken.


Then the unthinkable happened. Seven months after Breathing on Her Own was released, my precious husband of forty-three years died in a bicycle accident. For months I was frozen. I managed to do the things I had to do, but the wind was out of my sails when it came to writing. Maybe it would be better to say my pen was out of ink. I was living in a fog.

And I felt guilty. God had obviously given me the gift to write and I wasn’t using it. I kept my blog going. I attended writing groups. I took care of business. I just didn’t write. My novels, some unedited, others unfinished lay dormant in the virtual drawer of my computer.

Turning point

January 2017 marked a turning point in my healing. It was when I realized I could no longer live in the large house where Tom and I raised our children. Selling that home and downsizing was healing for me. I lived in the new house only a couple of months when I was asked to move to Kosovo to teach fourth grade for a year. I went. Living in Europe those ten months was also healing.

It was there, in Kosovo, I realized I was not letting God down by not writing or publishing the stories He gave me before Tom’s death. God can see around the corners. He knew it was Tom’s time. I believe He gave me those stories when He did because He knew I wouldn’t be able to write for a while.


That spring, while still living abroad, I pitched Libby’s Cuppa Joe online. I received a contract for the book and it is being released March 8th. In fact, I’m including a link if you want to preorder the book. At that same time, an editor contacted me to see if I would be interested in contributing a novella to an anthology. I retooled one of my works in the mill, cutting it down from nearly 60,000 words to a 20K word novella. The story was accepted and appeared in the book From the Lake to the River in September of 2019.


I’m writing again. I have a new sweet romance nearly completed. I have a suspense novel in the works, and the story of a woman dealing with her mother’s dementia moving along nicely. My point is this: God’s timing is not always the way I would have done things…but it is always right.

About the Author:

Rebecca Waters works hard to create realistic characters facing contemporary issues and stories built around faith, hope, and love. Her first novel, Breathing on Her Own has garnered over 160 positive reviews. Rebecca’s second novel, Libby’s Cuppa Joe is scheduled for release in March 2019.  Courtesy Turn, her first novella is based on her experiences as an avid square dancer. She has also published three books for new writers, Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101, and Writing with E’s.


Split Personality or Writing under a Pen Name


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Donna Schlacter


By Donna Schlacter

Leeann, my alter ego, and I were chatting the other day.

She wanted to know why I created her.

“I was writing and hoping to publish in two different genres: historical suspense and contemporary suspense. I didn’t want to confuse my readers by writing in different genres.”

“How did you pick my name?”

“My husband’s middle name is Lee, his mother’s middle name is Ann, and my mother’s nickname in nursing school was Betts.”

“Isn’t making up a name illegal?”

“Not unless I’m trying to avoid a legal claim or defraud somebody.”

She chewed on her bottom lip, a funny habit she has. “How do you keep us straight?”

I smiled at her. “First of all, you’re cute and perky and all the things I’m not. Second, you write different stories than I write.”


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Leeann Betts


“Such as?”

“Most of my historical suspense are stories about women who have made some bad choices, and now they want to straighten out their lives. Your stories are about stronger, quirkier women who are driven to excel.”

“Sounds like you.”

Now it was my turn to chew my bottom lip. Maybe she inherited that trait from me. “But the women you write about don’t know they are strong. Or quirky. And the women I write about are just like me. Hoping it’s true that God is a God of second chances. And finding out He is.”

“So we’re different but the same?”

I patted her on the head like she was an obedient puppy. “Exactly.”

Question for readers: Leave a comment in response to the following question, and enter a random drawing for a free print (US only) or ebook version of Leeann’s latest release, Silent Partner.

Do you feel that an author who uses a pen name is lying in some way, or do you like the fact that you know what kind of book you are picking up because of the author name?

About the Author:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has more than 25 published books under her pen name and under her own name. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, judges in a number of writing contests, and teaches online and at conferences. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

You can find Donna online at:




Echoes of the Heart:

And you can find Leeann online at:

Website: Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.




Books: Amazon  and Smashwords:



Wishing You Love

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As writers we don’t often get fan mail. Our reviews aren’t always kind, some are even cruel. There is no special day set aside–National Novelist Day or National Children’s Writer Day. Our accolades are often few and far between.

We may hear a condescending tone when they  remark: You’re a writer? Why would you do that? Or I could write a book. Makes us feel unappreciated. Some of us have family members who’ve never read our work. Never attended a book signing or even purchased our book for no other reason than being  kin.



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Today, I send you love.

Good Job!!



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You’re wonderful.

Your words have value.

Even in those times when discouragement grabs you about the throat and chokes out your creativity, know you are loved by a creator who gave you this gift. Who sits with you while you write cheering you on.



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Saint Valentine was martyred for secretly marrying soldiers rather than allowing them to live in sin, going against the Roman Emperor’s decreed.  I like to think that each writer is following their heart even when those around them  think their time could be better spent doing something else.

I’m proud of your perseverance. You continue creating words, sharing stories and helping your readers to understand truths and concepts. Without you the world would be a dismal place.

I wish you love today, fellow authors. Without us valentine cards would not exist. (You know I had to add that.)



Photo by Pexels


Sending you lots of love and encouragement.

Happy Valentines Day to all my readers.



Returned Rights and Navigating the Writing Journey

By Dr. Martin Wiles



My rights have been returned!

Wait a minute. The rights for two books I signed over to the publishing company. The rights they accepted. Now, they were returning them. What exactly did that mean? That my two books would no longer be available? The separate year-long journeys I had made of edits and re-edits. The waiting game I had played—on design, on production—to finally hold a copy of my very own book and know I had written what lay inside the covers. All over.

I emailed my executive editor, a successful novelist, editor, and devotional writer. I needed comfort … reassurance. Was I finished as a writer?

“What they’ve done is typical,” she emailed back. “About two years is the life span for a devotional book. If it’s any comfort, they returned my rights too.” Mine had exceeded the norm. I guess something could be said for that.


Wait a minute. Did she say they had returned her rights? It shouldn’t have, but her statement made me feel better. If she—as a moderately successful writer—could have rights returned, then maybe … just maybe … I wasn’t finished as a writer after all.

A few months before receiving this news, I had learned about the fate of my first three books—published with another company. Perhaps I should have examined that entity more carefully, but I was a newbie to the publishing world. I hadn’t heard anything about royalties in a long time. When I googled my three books on Amazon, I noticed their prices scaled the roof.

I typed the publisher’s url address in my search bar. Nothing. So I asked god … the little god—Google. The company had been bought out by another company which declared bankruptcy shortly thereafter. The problem was, they had not returned the book rights of any author. Lawsuits ensued. Now my first three books are unavailable, and so are my last two.


Is there any saving grace in this dog-eat-dog world of publishing? Sure. Try another publishing company. I did, and I have another book in the works.

Grits Grace and God

I display a copy of each of my five books behind my desk in my classroom. Sometimes students remark, “You have written five books?” As if they wonder why I’m still teaching since I’m such a successful author. They’re too young to understand the writing world completely. The world where most writers—and other artists—starve if they quit their day jobs and try to do full-time what they love most in life.

So, what’s my advice to writers?

  • Dream of and work toward becoming a full-time writer, but in the meantime keep your day job. According to the Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey taken in 2014, “Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 a year…with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors, and 43.6% of hybrid authors, reporting their earnings are below the same threshold.”


  • Accept the fits and starts of the writing life. Continual writing assignments or book contracts might not come. I must make efforts to make them happen at all. But I’ve learned that about the time my spirits are low and I’m saying to my wife, “I’ve haven’t had anything accepted lately,” that I’ll get an email offering a writing assignment or wanting to accept a devotion I’ve sent.


  • Let rejection feed your determination. Even successful writers receive more rejections than acceptances. What makes the difference is their determination to keep writing and to keep sending their writing somewhere.


  • Release jealousy. Jealousy is perhaps the biggest temptation writers face. Each journey is unique. And if I’m a believer, God designs my journey, and I must be satisfied with my journey, while rejoicing over the journeys He sends others on. As writers, we’re not in competition. Enough room exists for us all.

So, put your pen (or pencil or keyboard) to paper, and get busy writing what presses heavily upon your heart.

About Dr.  Martin Wiles

Martin lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He also serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as web content editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications. His next book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World, in under contract with Ambassador International.

Check out his website:







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