Destination: Unintended

My guest today is Beth Westcott. Beth pursues her writing career from central New York State, where she lives in semi-retirement with her husband, Frank. She enjoys being a grandmother, walking, gardening, sewing, and music, along with reading and writing.

I like the concept of unintended destinations. I actually can relate to this a lot. Here’s what Beth has to say:

Have you ever planned a trip, set your GPS, and arrived at an unintended destination?

When I became a writer, I didn’t intend to write an Inspirational romance novel. There were plenty of other romance books out there for fans of romance.

I planned to write for children. My first, unsuccessful attempts at writing for publication were stories for children, including articles on historical people: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, King Hendrick of the Mohawks, and a few others. I learned fascinating things about these people as I did the research. I toyed with the idea of writing historical fiction. As a grandmother, I feed my passion for children’s stories by creating books for my grandchildren for their birthdays. This becomes a greater challenge each year as my grandchildren become older and the stories longer, but I feel it’s my legacy to them. One of these stories, “Sadie and the Princess,” is included in Heartwarming Horse Stories, published on Amazon.

I enjoyed combining Scripture and music with narration to create holiday programs (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter) to share with my church family, to give them opportunity to participate in worship services. A church program publisher accepted several of these, including a one-act play, for publication.

The idea of writing a romance novel of 50,000 plus words came as a personal challenge to see if I could hold together characters, setting, and plot for more than 5,000 words. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took years. I may have had “a book inside me,” but it took a while to learn the craft of writing and to produce a manuscript considered worthy of publication. I’m still learning.

When you spend a lot of time developing characters like Kate, Jack, and Blythe in Meadow Song, you come to know them personally and become attached to them, even though they are fictitious. Meadow Song is my first published novel. I plan to write a sequel. I want to know what happens to the characters.

I have three other romance novels I’m preparing for submission, and a novel for preteens.

You can see Beth’s website at

Growing potatoes is kinda like writing a book

I have taken on a new venture. I am growing potatoes that I hope to plant outside in the spring. I had a few potatoes in a bag that I forgot about, and they grew sprouts. So I cut them up and planted them, and they are really growing into plants. I’m going to keep them inside until spring, then out they go, and we’ll see if potatoes actually happen.

That’s kind of like writing. Yes, I am saying that growing potatoes can be on the same time frame as writing a book. I’m going to have to challenge myself to keep writing as I watch my potato plants grow. I planted the sprout, the plant is coming up,but the most interesting thing is the potatoes, which I won’t see for a long time, just like when you read a book and don’t know how it’s going to end. I have to care for them and give them what they need, and I’ll need to put them in a sunny location. Yes, I’m going to keep them in pots. At least I’ll know they won’t spread to where I don’t want them to be.

Will my mystery potatoes be worth the wait?

There’s only one way to find out.

An After Christmas look at what goes on in a writer’s mid

My guest today is Kathy McKinsey. Kathy has been married to Murray for 31 hilarious years, and the shamelessly proud mother of five. She enjoys writing, editing, teaching braille and playing with the cat and dogs.

I think she feels the same way a lot of us do in the melt-down after Christmas. Here’s what she has to say:

I’ll confess. I’m still working on getting myself to write every day. But I’m a writer, and most days, using what goes on around me for writing is almost constantly in my mind.

My husband and I sit at a restaurant for breakfast. At the table next to us are two young men. One says, “I just woke up ten minutes ago. I splashed on some cologne and here I am.”

After church, I watch three kids race toy cars as their parents help with set-up and tear-down of our portable church.

I see a new grandfather cradle his granddaughter during our Christmas service.

During the Christmas service, the young children are on the stage, singing carols and hymns. One little boy doesn’t want to be there and continues to break away and move toward the steps. After a couple of tries, his dad goes up the stairs and picks him up, rescuing him.

All these sound like good stories.

I’m a writer, but I’m also an editor. The best thing to do is write a piece down first, not worrying about spelling, grammar, sentence structure, word usage, but I constantly stop myself as I write to fix things.

When my adult children were all in and out for Christmas, I frequently slipped away to write down things they said and did, for a blog posting about our family gathering.

My sweet husband tells me over and over how much he loves me, how happy he is to share his life with me. How can I use that in a romance about couples who are married for more than thirty years?

I sit on my front porch swing and write down words to put in my “senses” list. A crow cawing; an owl; a car driving by on the wet street; the smell of flowers; the heat of sunshine on my face; a train whistle; kids screaming with laughter, shrieking; teens playing basketball at the house next door; smell of someone barbecuing; the smell of cookies baking from a house window; the neighbor next door running his weed-whip; wind blowing rain against my face.

I want to save all this for stories.

My first book, ALL MY TEARS, is scheduled to be published by Mantle Rock Publishing in April. It is a collection of women’s fiction novellas.

I wanted to tell stories about women where the villain was in themselves, their struggles, pains, goals.

It is not an autobiography, but I have dealt with chronic depression for over thirty years; I’ve wrestled with forgiveness. I’ve struggled with how I can do things that make me feel needed and competent—as a wife, mother and worker. God has blessed me through these stories.

Here’s how you can find Kathy McKinsey



Writing in the winter.

Honestly, writing in the winter is generally my most productive time. Really, sitting in one spot for hours can be hard to do in the summer, when it’s hot out and there’s fun things to do. But in the winter, there is less out there.

The reason I moved here was mostly because I hate the snow. I don’t like driving in it, I don’t like trudging through it. On the west coast where I live, most winters it either doesn’t snow at all, or we get a dusting and within a few hours it’s gone. But, since we hardly get any, and because it’s wet, and this is hilly turrain, most people can’t drive sensibly on it. Which is why when it snows, I don’t go.

Even without the snow, sometimes it rains for a week nonstop. Or longer. And the sky is greyer than grey. That’s a good time to sit at the computer and dream up summer stories.

Maybe that’s also why I write most of my Christmas themed stories in the summer.

Go figure.

Turning Faith into Fiction

Today my guest is Lillian Duncan. Even though her books cross genres, they have one thing in common, faith-based stories that show God’s love—and lots of action. OK—that’s two things. She believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, check out her blog at as well as her devotional blog at

Here’s what Lillian has to say:

What goes on in the mind of a writer? Scary things, according to my husband! He thinks I might be plotting the perfect murder—his.

But I promise I’m not. I watch a lot of TV and most of the shows have a common theme. Murder. Or at the very least danger. I keep telling him it’s research, and he acts like he believes me—sort of.

My usual books are fast-paced suspense and mystery novels but I’ve branched out to some other genres in the past few years. However, that makes sense. I’ve been living a different sort of life for almost seven years. My life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with brain tumors and a genetic condition known as Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) in 2012.

It’s not been an easy journey and I’m not the same person I was before the diagnosis—health-wise or spiritually. So when you’re a writer and your life changes that means your writing changes as well.

I still love mystery/suspense and continue to write it, but my novel, PUZZLE HOUSE, is a different sort of book. In many ways, Puzzle House is the book I never wanted to write because I know had I never been diagnosed with the brain tumors, I would never have written this particular story.

It’s not easy to keep trusting God when we’re suffering, whether it be from a physical condition like brain tumors or it be some other difficulty like losing a loved one. But when we trust God with all the puzzle pieces of our life, He will use them to create a thing of beauty, such as a book called Puzzle House—which ended up as a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award.

The tagline for Puzzle House is a novel of healing and hope and that’s what I want people to take away from the story—that no matter what circumstances they find themselves in God promises that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him (Romans 8: 28).

Here’s the blurb on Lillian’s novel – Puzzle House

Rachel Summers is all about Rachel Summers…until the day she crashes headlong into a semi-truck. As her life hangs in the balance, she has a visitor who asks a very simple question.

Does she want to be healed or to be a healer?

She makes her choice, but the journey doesn’t go quite the way she expected.

And so Rachel now runs Puzzle House. Every guest is different and yet the same. They all come to the Puzzle House for one reason and one reason only—to be healed, usually from a life-threatening illness. Sometimes they receive their miracle, and sometimes they discover there’s more than one kind of healing.

Nia is a fifteen-year-old African-American girl who is dying. The doctors have told her there is nothing else to be done. No more treatments. No more hope. No more life. And she’s angry about that. Very angry. Against her wishes, Nia’s aunt brings her to The Puzzle House.

Together, Nia and Rachel will take a journey that will change both their lives.

Puzzle House on

Blog at

Devotional blog at

Writing about reality. Well, sort of

In the realm of authors, the topic comes out often about writing about a true story, or parallel to that, something that really happened.

In the world of fiction, an author often must be careful. In my historical, The Train Stops Here, while it wasn’t based on a true story, it was based in a place that really existed, and a situation that happened often – which is that the Great Depression, it was the job of the Section Foreman for the railroad to throw the hobos off the train.

When my mother was a child this was her life, her father was the Section Foreman, and this is what she saw happen, although as a young child, she didn’t understand the situation or the times. What she did see was that when her father kicked the men out of the boxcars, when he wasn’t looking, her mother would feed them.  Of course, in the middle of nowhere in the countryside, once kicked off the train there was nowhere for them to go. Everyone knew they jumped on the next train that left, but there was nothing anyone could do, so everyone just let it happen. Bottom line, the hobos were gone. It was true he kicked them off the train, though.

Also, one thing I mentioned in the book was the town bootlegger. My mother made double sure I didn’t give out too much information on him or his family. So that was also based on truth, but only as much truth as could be told.

That’s the thing about fiction. The author has to make it as close to reality as possible.


The real life of an author no one knows about

My guest today is Heather Greer. Heather Greer is a pastor’s wife with a passion for encouraging and challenging women in the body of Christ to grow in faith. In addition to participating in women’s ministry, Heather enjoys directing a week-long youth camp for teenagers each summer. When she’s not busy writing, Heather enjoys reading and baking. And though her nest is nearing the empty stage, she loves spending time with her husband, four kids, and grandson in her hometown of Carbondale, Illinois.


“What do you do?”

“I’m an author.”

“Wow. That must be awesome. To make a living in your pajamas writing stories all day. Do you know Karen Kingsbury?”

There are so many things wrong with those statements. Let’s start with the idea that I make a living at this. I know there are people who make a great living writing. I am not one of those people. Yet. I’m just starting out. I keep a regular nine to five, actually eight to five, job as a receptionist. If I didn’t, my family would starve. I’m writing with the goal of one day being able to focus on it full-time, but until that time I’m pretty much working two full-time jobs while taking care of my family.

That brings me to the second point. I’m not sure what fairy-tale style picture you have in your mind, but the life of a writer is work. Yes, I do most of my writing in lounge pants and a t-shirt because I am comfortable in them. It is a nice perk to working from home. But the important part of that is that I am working. Writing and writing well are two very different things, and I strive to do it well. It takes time and mental energy. It takes a willingness to learn from others who are further down the path. It takes time. And it takes a willingness to go back through the world you worked so hard to create with a red pen and cut out parts of it. The goal is making the writing tighter, but it can feel a lot like cutting out members of your family. And all of this is just the writing part of writing.

A writer’s job doesn’t end with creation of a great book. Nope. Writers have to learn to be bloggers, publicists, speakers, and social media experts. We have to learn how to market ourselves in ways that connect us to readers. We have to create blog posts, Instagram posts, Tweets, Facebook posts, and newsletters. We have to keep our websites, Amazon pages, and Goodreads pages updated. We need proficiency in creating advertisements by piecing together elements from various websites. We have to learn to analyze results and determine what methods give us the best returns for our investments. It’s nothing we thought we’d be doing as authors. We thought writing was about writing.

However, even as I consider all these things, I realize how blessed I am to be able to do what I love. I may not make a living at it now. Some days the writing may flow and on others it seems to stand still. I may struggle with marketing and the programs that I have to learn to use. It may be frustrating to try so hard to successfully build my audience and extend my reach as an author only to have the numbers inch upward at a pace that makes a snail look like a Nascar driver.

But all of this dims in comparison to the satisfaction of creating a story I can take pride in. The sense of a purpose fulfilled when someone tells you they really connected with your character makes the struggles more than worth it. Knowing that I’m doing what God has put in my heart to do brings joy that wipes out the doubts and difficulties.

So, yes, being an author is awesome. And no, I don’t know Karen Kingsbury.






This entry was posted on January 5, 2019, in Gail's BLOG.


Did I put the title of this post in caps? That must mean I’m shouting. And an exclamation mark, too, Yup, definitely shouting.

As a writer, the way we write things have meanings behind the meanings, and we can never forget that. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s there.

As a reader, often we say a book is good, or bad, or… (gulp) really bad. Most readers can’t say why it was bad, only that it was. As a writer, when I read a bad book, I can say why, at least most of the time, and I’ve taken a lot of classes and done a lot of reading to find out why. Mostly, I take those classes so not only do I hope to recognize those things, my goal is to not do them.

I haven’t been writing a lot in the last few months, but this seems like my New Year’s resolution should be to get rolling again. I have a 5 book series I need to get working on, and this seems like a good time.

Happy New Year!

Hidden Secrets – is that a perfect title or what?

2018 is nearly over, my last guest of this year is Kim Kouski. Kim lives Central Illinois. Her first book is Hidden Secrets. She is currently finishing book two of the series, the Last Maul which focuses on Emer, the Captain of the Guard and the last of the Maul warriors. Hidden Secrets is a Christian YA fantasy. Kim teaches writing lessons at different venues, and leads a group for writers at Riverside Community Church, and together, they are family. She is a history lover, and has a YouTube channel called Come Flag with Me. She’s also a sometimes costume seamstress and a huge fantasy/science fiction geek.

Here is what does on in the mind of writer Km Kouski:

My dad once said to me regarding my imagination, “Your imagination scares me.” Which I found very funny. Because it is true. When I was a child, my imagination gave me the ability to be a space traveler, a hunter of wild game, a pilot of a Star Wars X-wing fighter, a Jedi knight, a member of the Star Trek Enterprise, I had a very busy childhood. I was anything that I wanted to be. I was able to bring this into my writing to where I now write Christian YA fantasy, but my novels have a bit of a darker theme, meaning I bring in the evil as well as God’s goodness. One of my writers said my novel was so dark he could see the dark, which is perfect for me.

I love world building which I believe is the heart of all fantasy novels. World building means you step into the novel’s world and you tour it. What does the sky look like? The clouds, the constellations, the sun, the moon, plants, trees and animals? This is were the richness comes in. I get my ideas from reading history, from people, and from weird ideas that pop in my head.

Our history is so rich with inventive ideas that are mostly lost to us. I used to watch History channel Saturday mornings back when the History channel was about history and not aliens, truck drivers, and axe men. I’d grab my notebook and spend most of my day glued to the TV. I took notes on historical weapons, war plans, inventions, betrayals, loves and hatred. Then I’d match all these rich events to my novel and spread them out like frosting on a cake. Life is complicated and so is a novel. I love reaching into my frightening imagination and pulling rabbits out of my top hat. My readers like it too. Don’t ever be afraid of your imagination, you’d be surprised as to what it’s side it.

Please come by and see my on my various social medias.

My Geeky facebook page is


Youtube, Come Flag with Me:


You can buy my novel here:

Geek Blog:

Boxing Day in Canada

I did it. I googled the meaning of Boxing Day in Canada.

Traditionally, it was originally that people gave their servants gift boxes the day after Christmas, gave them a day off, and they took their boxes home to their families on the day after Christmas. I think this was the original beginning of “regifting”. Give what you didn’t want to the servants the next day and send them away for a day.

Another meaning is that Christmas Day, when everyone went to church, they would put donations in boxes, and then the next day, these boxes would be distributed to organizations needing help.

But what really, today, Boxing Day in Canada is what Black Friday is in the USA. A day to go crazy shopping mad-hot deals. Here in Canada, like Black Friday in the USA, it is a paid holiday for most people, which is those who do not work in retail or for an essential service.

I was amused by people who were the first in the door at A&B Sound, which was the first big Stereo and Electronics store to go nutzoid with Boxing Day sales. People lined up outside the door to be the first ones in when the doors opened for shoppers. Then people had to be there earlier and earlier, to the point where some people are already in line on Christmas Day, to get in the store to shop.

Not me.

I have never gone shopping on Boxing Day. My husband did once with a couple of the kids when they were teens. He just said it was an adventure, and he hasn’t done it since.

Me, I stay home and put my feet up and watch the crazyness on the news.