Ac-cen-tuate the Positive


There’s an old, old song from which we, as writers, could learn self-discipline. It goes like this:

“You’ve got to ac-cen-tuate the positive,

E-lim-inate the negative,

Latch on to the affirmative,

Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between!”

Some of you, I’m sure, recognize those lyrics and are smiling and nodding your heads. They do have something to say, don’t they?

You see, every writer, whether an old pro or a rank beginner, has times when we begin to wonder if we should have chosen another vocation. Those days when sitting in front of the computer staring at a blank screen with blinking cursor can be pretty discouraging. We have no idea why we’re there, what we’re going to say, or how to say it. Been there?

Yes, we all have. I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me when sitting down to write. Today’s is no exception. I avoided staring at the blank screen, though, and gazed out the window for a while, when those lyrics just popped into my head. I thought, well, okay, what do I do with them? As I wrote them, the rest of the idea came right away! Amazing how these things happen.

So, we’re going to talk a bit about ‘e-lim-inate the negative’ part of the song. The old tired-but-true axiom that “can’t never did anything” is as apt today as it was when it was coined. If we say “I can’t” then it’s for sure we won’t. Have days when you feel yourself wavering, wailing “I’ll NEVER be a writer! I just can’t do this!” Um-hum. Deadlines don’t always help, either. Although there are some writers who thrive on them, deadlines do seem to push that panic button that causes us to doubt ourselves and lose faith in our abilities. Here’s something I’ve used before – see what you think:

‘It would have taken about a year to finish the book at this point, but reading it had depressed Peggy severely. The work to be done was tremendous, and if she completed it—then what? How could she submit it anywhere when she feared lawsuits and dreaded professional criticism? And when she compared her work to that of Glasgow and Fitzgerald and Benet—how could she dare to think of herself as a true writer? She had worked hard and long hours, but that was not enough to qualify her as a literary figure. And she was sure that the authors she admired had no need of someone like John at their elbow, helping them all the time. Someday, perhaps, she would go back to the book, but at the moment, the entire project seemed to her like little more than a waste of time.’

Peggy, in the above message, is Margaret Mitchell. And the unworthy manuscript – “Gone With The Wind.”

Interesting? Discouragement, depression, fear . . . all are part of the negative and we need to work really hard on them. If we don’t, then we surely will fail in our attempts to become writers.

Almost as counterproductive is “Mr. In-Between.” He personifies apathy, a lack of passion for this profession. And, his writing shows it! Funny thing is, many of them are big sellers, and that’s pretty ironic, to my way of thinking. How many times have you picked up a book with an interesting title, or colorful cover, or because it was by a well-known author—whatever it was that attracted your attention—bought it (or borrowed at the library) only to get it home and find everything was sterile and generic? You know what I mean. There is a no-name setting in a no-name town (or city) with non-description of much of anything. The story-line may be okay, but there’s a great deal lacking . . . it just doesn’t keep you interested. There’s no enthusiasm to turn the next page. You probably didn’t even finish the book. Makes you wonder how it ever got published. And, I’ll bet you sat back and said “I can write better than that!”

Compare that to a book you have read that was so well written, so captivating, that you couldn’t put it down. You kept turning the pages, one after the other, until you reached The End…and realized it was 4:00 AM. That book was the result of the ‘positive’ side of a writer. No, the writer wasn’t perfect. Probably had a few of those ‘negative’ and ‘in-between’ days, but, more often than not, decided to ‘ac-cen-tuate the positive’ and ‘e-lim-inate the negative’ and gave ‘Mr. In-Between’ the boot. This writer managed to “Latch on to the affirmative!”

We can all do that, and our greatest advantage and assurance is to be sure we are writing in His will. When you face that blank screen, don’t stare at that blinking cursor, put your knees to the floor and ask for His help and guidance. I guarantee that you will be able to surmount those negative and in-between times.

I have found this to be true in my own writing life.

I would love to hear from you on this, share your thoughts. Just leave a comment below and let’s chat!


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The Winner of the February 2015 Clash of the Titles

A big thank you to all four authors for sharing news of their wonderful new releases!
 One voter sums it up

“All of these books sound so good. I would really like to take a vacation where I could just read, read, eat, read, eat, and did I mention read some more? Well, all of your books sound amazing like you! May God bless each of you as you endeavor to do His will. May you shine for His glory.”
Congratulations go to Marissa Shrock for her young adult novel!

Voters had lots to say about The First Principle, many comments from Marissa’s students.

It is a wonderful book! I loved it!

To God Be the Glory…

Really interesting, great book

Very good. My favorite book.

It was amazin’

This is the best book I have ever read.

This book looks so interesting! I look forward to reading it!

While all sound like good reads, I love the concept of a young, pregnant girl fighting against mandatory abortion.

Great book. Looking forward to the sequel.

Great concept!

Great book with lots of non-stop action and wonderful character development. It belongs on your must read list.

It is inspirational even to a grandma like me to read stories such as this.

Bless your efforts!

The latest comment from a teen reader:

I absolutely loved The First Principle, a dystopian story with a Christian twist….Tear-jerking, heart-racing, and beautifully written. — Tessa, 16

About The First Principle

In the not-too-distant future, the United Regions of North America has formed. Governors hold territories instead of states, and while Washington, DC, is gone, the government has more control than ever before. For sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins, the daughter of a governor, this is life as usual. High school seems pretty much the same–until one day, that controlling power steps right through the door during study hall.

When Vivica speaks out to defend her pregnant friend against the harsh treatment of Population Management Officer Martina Ward, she has no idea she’s sowing the seeds of a revolution in her own life. But it isn’t long before she discovers her own illegal pregnancy. Now she has to decide whether to get the mandatory termination–or follow her heart, try to keep the baby, and possibly ruin her mother’s chances at becoming president.

A rebel group called the Emancipation Warriors, who are fighting to restore freedoms once held unalienable, offer her asylum. Can Vivica trust these rebels to help her or will they bring everything crashing down around her? Accepting their help may come with consequences she isn’t ready to face.

Buy Links

Amazon paperback

Amazon kindle

Marissa Shrock is a writer and language arts teacher who enjoys working with her seventh grade students. She is a graduate of Taylor University and has completed the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman courses. She is a member of ACFW.Marissa has written articles for teens and adults in Evangel and Encounter. The First Principle is her debut novel.

In her spare time Marissa loves spending time with family and friends, shopping for cute clothes, traveling, baking, playing golf, and reading. Her favorite genres are young adult, suspense, and science fiction.

Visit Marissa’s web site site

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Great Advice


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Dubiosity, by Christy Barritt: A review


Book Description

Savannah Harris vowed to leave behind her old life as an intrepid investigative reporter. But when a friend raises suspicions about two migrant workers who’ve gone missing from the sleepy coastal town Savannah calls home, her curiosity spikes.

As ever more eerie incidents begin afflicting the area, each works to draw Savannah out of her seclusion and raise the stakes—for both Savannah and the surrounding community. Even as Savannah’s new boarder, Clive Miller, makes her feel things she thought long forgotten, she suspects he’s hiding something too, and he’s not the only one. Doubts collide in Savannah’s mind: Who can she really trust?

As secrets emerge and danger closes in, Savannah must choose between faith and uncertainty. One wrong decision might spell the end…not just for her, but for everyone around her.

Will she unravel the mystery in time, or will doubt get the best of her?

My Review

I love a good mystery, and Christy Barritt delivers. Again. But mixed into the mystery is a little suspense, and, of course, a little romance, a recipe for a good read.

The setting, rich with history, also filled my cup, but the beauty of the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay is threatened by the presence of a human predator. And he’s spying on our heroine. Savannah Harris is living in relative seclusion, buried in grief and guilt over the death of her husband and child. That car bomb had been meant for her, she was sure of it. As an investigative reporter, she’d gotten too close to the truth for someone’s comfort.

The characters are well developed, some introduced in such a way that the unseen, and unknown predator could be any one of them. The Bay area is temporary home to many migrant workers, and when several of them mysteriously disappear, one dies, and others grow mysteriously ill, Savannah’s investigative instincts are piqued, especially when her best friend Marti is found, apparently from an overdose of depression medication. Marti is hospitalized and lapses into a coma.

But Savannah doesn’t believe her friend tried to commit suicide. Neither does her new male border, Clive, who has recently moved into her guest house. She is drawn to him, but senses he’s not quite what he pretends to be. But as things heat up, Savannah pushes her doubts aside and joins Clive in getting to the bottom of what’s really happening, eventually putting her own life on the line.
You’ll love getting to know Savannah. You’ll even understand why she’s lost her faith in God. While Clive’s faith, even dealing with his own losses, has been strengthened.

I have read several of Christy Barritt’s previous novels, and this one did not disappoint. In fact, in my opinion, this one surpasses them. And that’s the mark of a good writer . . . to make each book better than the last.

Kudos, Christy!

Buy Dubiosity on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and Happy Reading!

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One of ‘those’ days

Sad_Slug_D__by_LillyAmongTheThornsI woke up this morning feeling like that little green critter on the left.

Not that I felt unwell, I’m fine. There’s just no ambition…no get-up-and-go. Don’t want to do anything where I have to exert myself. Didn’t even bother to get dressed…still in my jammies.

I really need to get started on my taxes. The slug says, ‘’Nah, not today. One more day won’t hurt,” and I readily agree.

Took the dog out this morning. It was four-below zero. Didn’t stay out any longer than necessary. Coming back in, shivering, I remembered something I saw on Facebook that went something like this:

I refuse to go outside until the temperature is higher than my age.

Nice thought. Problem is, I’d have to wait until July.

Yeah, it’s a sluggish day.

Ever had a day like that?

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Writer-ly Habits

I am an inveterate snacker when I write. Seems, at times, that I can’t write without something to eat close at hand. Mostly salty stuff, like




Yeah, I know, not real healthy, for me OR my keyboard (crumbs, you know) but that’s what floats my boat.

And, of course, there MUST be


and lots of it. I have a coffeemaker quite close to my desk.

So I’m curious. What crazy habits do other writers have? Do share!

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January New Releases-Vote!

Hostess: Gail Pallotta

January 2015, brought us many great fiction books. Contemporary, historical, young adult futuristic and a suspense novel round out this month’s Clash. Which of these will you put at the top of your to-be-read list?

During the 1960s, Henry Youngblood feels the call to plant a new church. Meanwhile, his wife
wonders how to pay the bills for the new baby, keep their teen-aged daughters under control, and temper the family’s dreams with reality.
Spain 1493: In order to flee the Inquisition, Isabel, accompanied by the husband she was forced to marry, must sail with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Indies. There, amid the hardships of the New World, her character is forged and her destiny reshaped as she comes to terms with who she is.

When Jen unravels the family scandal within the walls of an English country manor, will she reveal the truth she’s hidden for so long as well? Or will she choose to live the lie in order to keep the man she loves?


Sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins never questions her country’s pregnancy termination law for underage girls until she becomes pregnant. Now she must comply or fight to save her unborn child, but fighting means Vivica must abandon her mother, a powerful governor, and side with a rebel organization that’s determined to start a revolution.

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