Friday, January 31, 2014

The Good Old Days

This morning I slipped on the ice by the gate in the back yard while feeding the outdoor cats. My muscles are tender. Everything looks so different under all the snow and ice than in the spring and summer.

This has been a brutal winter, one of the worst I remember since moving to Ohio in 1977. Makes people count days until spring, wishing for warmer weather.

The same holds true for me as a new widow. So easy to look back and long for things as they used to be.  I daydream about simpler times, forgetting those times weren't really simpler...just different.

Sometimes we compare our lives with someone else's and become discouraged. After all, we are human.

Worrying and wishing our lives away instead of being content in the circumstances we find ourselves in is totally fruitless. Even though times might be hard, painful, and filled with fear, God is with us.

If God has called you to write, He will give you the tools you need to get the job done. Don't compare yourself with other writers. You are unique. Doubts come from Satan, not from God. You'll know when He speaks to you. It will be a voice from the Holy Spirit and this voice will ALWAYS follow the scriptures in the Holy Bible. If not, then the voice is not coming from God.

"Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches." ~~I Corinthians 7:17 (NIV)

Low on faith and high on fear, Summer Grant flees from death threats and is involved in an accident which leaves her trapped in Havens Creek, a small town not far enough away from danger.

Though she doesn't trust cops, she has no choice but to accept the hospitality offered by Police Chief Jake Taylor. Staying with his sister and her five-year-old daughter in an isolated mountain home might be the ideal place to recuperate, but if the man Summer's running from finds her, no one will be safe.

Trapped Purchase Link

Visit Carol Ann Erhardt's website

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why You Need Dialog Signatures

We all recognize the significance of our signature.  Certainly John Hancock did. If you glance at the Declaration of Independence, of the fifty-six names, his jumps out at you. He did not want to be missed.  Others, took a difference approach. W. Paca didn’t take up much space, didn’t even spell out his first name, and is generally unnoticed.

Today, with all the audio equipment, there are many people whose audio signature we will recognize.  Most of us would recognize the voice of John Wayne, or Andy Devine, or Phyllis Diller.  They had distinctive audio signatures, as do many singers.  

What does that have to do with writers? Unless we’re doing audio books, the reader doesn’t get to hear the characters.  Right?


You, as the writer, can give your character a distinct sound. When you write passages your character says or thinks, you have the opportunity to make the reader hear the character’s voice. You have the chance to develop a unique speech pattern for that character. In my book How to Write Great Dialog I call this the character’s dialog signature.

What does that mean? It is simply how this character sounds. A good writer can make that determination for the reader without the reader even knowing it was done.

Just how do you do this?  First, you must decide how you want this character to sound.  What impression do you want the reader to have of this character?  Once that is clear, you select a dialog signature that imparts that image to the reader.

Do you want the character to sound educated or uneducated? Young or old? Does this character have a regional dialect? Does she talk with a southern drawl or New York rapid fire? How is the diction, the inflection, the cadence? Does she have certain marker words? (You almost always want one or two marker words for a major character.) What is the flow and volume associated with this character? Will there be a distinct sentence structure, or perhaps no complete sentences at all.  Will you give this character some distinct body language? (A lot of communication is done not with words but with body language.)  Any special mannerisms?  

From those and more, you develop a distinct dialog signature for the character
and use it whenever the character is speaking or thinking. Done well, the reader will begin to recognize the character without attribution, just as we would recognize Andy Griffith or Katherine Hepburn.  As an example, consider Spenser and Hawk in many of Robert B. Parker’s novels. You don’t need attribution to tell who is speaking. They have distinct dialog signatures.

Brief Bio of James R. Callan

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.
Amazon Author page:
Twitter:                               @jamesrcallan

How to Write Great Dialog, (Oak Tree Press, 2014)
On Amazon at :

Friday, January 24, 2014

Small Whispers of Self-Doubt

"I can't do this."

There have been times when these words come into your mind, and other times when you speak them. All of us are guilty.

As writers, the ugly doubt comes in the form of feeling a tiny fish in a huge sea of sharks.

People who don't understand how the whole publishing business works may think we should all be living in a huge house with hired help, a fancy car, and enough money in the bank to never worry about how the bills will be paid. Trying to explain why you aren't the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King can be fruitless and frustrating.

You might stare at a blank white computer screen and think you don't have what it takes. You might even consider walking away, giving up the dream.


You are listening to the wrong voice. The small whispers of self-doubt don't come from the Holy Spirit, but from Satan.

If you've been called to write, God will provide you with everything you need to be the success He wants you to be. You may not be a household name like those mentioned above, but if you reach one weary soul and show them God's grace, you have been successful.

I'm reminded of how Moses told God to send someone else, someone who could speak eloquently. Yet God performed a miracle and brought his people out of Egypt by equipping Moses with the tools to do so.

God uses unlikely people throughout the Bible, and He continues to do so today.

That little guy in the picture...he's a creation painted on a rock by me at a time in my life when I needed extra income. I'm not a painter, or an artist. But God gave me the tools to turn rocks into beautiful creatures: cats, cows, leopards, turtles, frogs, deer, bears... These were sold through a consignment craft shop and brought in exactly what we lacked in our time of need. God does provide our daily bread. Never doubt that.

Give thanks for His gifts and use them as He calls you to do. And when the dark voice of doubt whispers in your ear, speak loudly and say, "Get Thee behind me Satan!".

Read Exodus 3:1-10 and Exodus 4: 10-16

"This is a wonderfully sweet inspirational suspense story that I couldn't put down.
It's not a genre I would ordinarily read but the inspirational parts are handled deftly and with great care and were so much a part of the characters inner beings that I didn't mind at all and didn't feel as if I were being preached at. The suspense is heart pounding as lovely Summer tries to leave her old life behind only to find that sometimes we drag the past along with us."

Review Excerpt for Trapped, Book One in the Havens Creek Series

Friday, January 10, 2014

Looking Forward...

Winter blew in with a polar freeze across the U.S. this week. With wind chill factors of -40 degrees in my neighborhood, I found myself housebound for several days. This became a time of reflection for me on all that has transpired over the past year and what awaited me in the new year.

After completing the last of 11 afghans crocheted for my youngest grandchildren, I can now turn my focus back to making prayer shawls for a ministry through our church. I love taking a ball of yarn and turning it into something to bless another person. This also is time I spend with God while I pray for the person who will receive the shawl. One of my goals this year is to complete one prayer shawl each month.

Writing took a back seat over the past couple of years, especially in 2013. With the new year, my long term goal is to complete two novels. In order to stay on track, my brainstorming group is focusing on each of us keeping a journal where we are writing our yearly writing goals. We also will be meeting every other week where we will set two week objectives. These objectives are directly related to reaching our yearly goals. The journal will be a documentation of our efforts and achievements.

The third yearly goal I'm working on is getting back to a healthier me. This means exercising at least 30 minutes five days a week, eating smaller portions and following the good health guidelines of Weight Watchers.

Each of these three things are Bible focused. My crafting and writing skills are God-given gifts and using them to bring glory to God and bless others is my heart-felt passion. And our bodies are God's temples. This is where our souls reside until we are called home. Thus, exercising and eating healthy are giving honor to God.

 Matthew 25:45 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

I Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

Wishing you an abundance of blessings in the year ahead. Care to share what your goals for 2014 are? Would love to hear them.

Hope Courtland escaped her marriage to save her life. Her only regret is leaving her four-year-old stepson, Joshua, behind. Though she wants custody, the legal system is against her and her faith falters. When she learns Joshua is in danger, she kidnaps him in an act of desperation, only to become a suspect in a murder.
Zack Stone is content being sheriff of Pine Cove, Tennessee. Though his faith is strong, he struggles with issues of forgiveness. When he rescues Hope in a rainstorm, the last thing he expects is a woman who stirs his lonely heart. But Hope hides the truth behind her bruises. Being a small town sheriff shouldn’t involve kidnapping and murder, but Zack can’t turn his back on Hope and the little boy she loves.
A puppy, three lonely people, and time is running out. A killer wants to silence Joshua forever, and his paternal grandparents want custody. When the worst happens, Hope feels she has nothing left to live for, but God has a plan.
Thank you for taking time to read my devotions and posts here on Story and Logic from Christian Authors. Joshua's Hope is now available in all ereader formats. Read more about Joshua's Hope and my other books and get links by visiting my website and clicking the "Books" tab. God bless you and keep you!