A Mentor When the Need Was Greatest

melanieAfter a long lapse in writing, I dove back into the craft in 2010. Honestly, I’m not sure I had any idea what I was doing! I bounced around between writing fictional children’s books, nonfiction children’s books, and novels for teens. I participated in NaNoWriMo in fall of 2010, and what I ended up with was an attempt at a YA historical fiction.

Over the months, I’d learned enough to know I needed to read some other books in this genre to give me an idea of how to revise. After digging through the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble, I came across The Healer’s Apprentice—a Christian YA historical by Melanie Dickerson.

I had never read Melanie’s book—never met Melanie, or even heard of her—but I noticed on the back of the book that she lived near me. Very near me.

Doing what all people do these days, I hurried home and Googled Melanie Dickerson. I found an email address (along with the knowledge that Melanie’s book had won an award!), and I shot her a short note to let her know I’d grabbed a copy of her book and was looking forward to reading it. I also let her know I had written a YA historical.

Melanie emailed me back (which I never expected, as we didn’t even know each other!). She was so kind, and offered to keep in touch. She quickly let me know there was a local group of Christian writers, and asked if I’d like to meet with them. I jumped at the chance!

Melanie took me under her wing without looking back. She introduced me to ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and her excellent books helped me learn so much about what I needed to make my own manuscripts shine. That YA historical I wrote during NaNo didn’t make it out of the trenches, but other books I’ve written have gone on to garner contracts.

My friendship with Melanie has only deepened over the years. She never hesitates to answer my tedious questions, and I consider her a dear friend and mentor. I can only aspire to being such a friend to another writer in need, when the time comes. Thanks, Melanie!

Contributed by Katie Clark 


Vegan Dessert Pizza from Milk Free Mom

220px-Semi-sweet_chocolate_chipsThis dessert pizza would make a great appetizer or dessert at your next holiday gathering. I thank Lyndsay Homme of Milk Free Mom for letting me share this recipe…


a 7 or 8 inch pre-made vegan or regular pizza crust

1 tablespoon vegan or dairy free butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 bananas
1 1/2 tablespoon all natural peanut butter (other nut butters can also be used, such as Sunbutter)
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
tablespoon or so of coconut milk (other vegan milks can be substituted)

Mix the butter and brown sugar together in a small bowl using a fork. Spread evenly on your pizza crust, and cook the crust according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the crust, and spread the peanut butter evenly over the top. Place the banana slices over the peanut butter, slightly overlapping them. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, one minute at a time, stirring between cooking. Add your coconut milk a teaspoon or so at a time, until you get a consistency that will allow you to easily drizzle it. Once you’ve reached a good consistency, drizzle the chocolate over the pizza. Cook for about 10-15 minutes to warm, but don’t let your bananas start to brown. Slice and enjoy!

For more great recipes that are milk free, check her site...



Monday Meet: Roller Coaster Ride

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

Jackie LaytonAlmost every writer knows this writing journey can be a roller coaster ride of excitement and rejection.

Exhilaration when we exceed our word count for a week, or get a request for full manuscript from an agent or editor, or the first time we hold that precious book in our hands. Nothing can compare to these moments!

And then there are the discouraging times, when we’re struggling through the muddy middle of a first draft, or when we receive one more rejection letter to add to the pile, and we second guess whether God ever really wanted us to do this writing thing.

In each of these moments, God has given us a unique gift—friends. Friends that are an extension of Himself, with arms to offer an encouraging hug (sometimes a cyber hug) and the words we need for a strong pep talk.

God has blessed me with a very special friend, who has done all this and more in my highs and lows. Jackie Layton is a fellow writer and one of my critique partners, and is a true light to those around her.

Jackie lives her life as an encouragement to others, always willing to share her time and a smile, and whatever else is needed. I’m so honored to have been blessed with her friendship!


Contributed by Misty M. Beller

Misty M. Beller is the author of The Lady and the Mountain Man. Learn more about her at http://mistymbeller.com.

For the Holidays: Gluten Free-Dairy Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

High altitude chocolate chip cookiesWhat would the holidays be without cakes, pies, and cookies? This month we’ll be sharing some of our favorite dairy and/or gluten free dessert recipes. Enjoy!


*1 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
*1 cup brown sugar
*1 egg
*1 tsp. baking soda
*1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
*1 cup chocolate chips [dairy-free ones]

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together in a large mixing bowl the peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, baking soda and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon by the tablespoon full onto parchment paper-line cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. For crispier cookies bake longer.

Make sure all ingredients are gluten free and have not been contaminated by other members of the household. You never know who’s eating out of the peanut butter jar. ;)



Monday Meet: Because of Him

IMG_2440 B&W vignetteI met Zachariah Kenney in Caronport, Saskatchwan, while I was attending Bible school. God gave me enough presence of mind to recognize his potential and to pursue him until he caught me. I have been blessed by his presence in my life ever since. Without him, I would never have had the courage or the need to share, in written form, the stories swirling in my mind and heart.

The wonderful part of having a loving man read my words is he is both encouraging and honest; he has no qualms about pointing out grammatical errors or plot holes (“here you said they were in a van, but you refer to it as a car in the next chapter…”). He is also perfectly placed to help me brainstorm when my story won’t do what it needs to, to feel ‘right’.

His encouragement takes on practical form when he takes care of the kids or makes sure I remember to eat when I’m in writing mode. I could read every book written about how to be a better writer, but I believe I am a better writer because of him.


Contributed by  Jaël Roy

Summarizing Stories for Searchers of Satisfying Sagas