How Does One Write Well – Part 2

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

In the first part of this article, previously posted here, I mostly addressed why a Christian writer should write well, though I also touched on some ways we can do that. In this article, I will address more ways in which we actually can write well.

In the first article, I mentioned learning. What do we need to learn? Every writer should have a fairly good knowledge of the basics of writing: spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and how to know when to begin and end a paragraph. Every writer should also know how to properly write dialogue. These are the mechanics of writing, and if you find any of these items difficult, you can still be a good writer. How? You will need to hire an editor. I will address editors more in depth later in this article.

What do writers need to…

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More Self-Editing Tips From the Thrifty Editor


When your manuscript is complete and you are reading over it looking for errors, remember to read aloud. I mentioned this in my last “Self-Editing Tips” post, but now I’d like to add that you may have to read aloud through your manuscript more than once in order to catch all of the things I am sharing in these posts. But remember, the more errors you can find and fix on your own, the less you will have to pay an editor to find, and the less will end up in the final published copy.

So, what are you looking for this time?

I want to mention a couple more grammar items here. One I mentioned in the last “Self-Editing Tips” post, (click on editing in Categories to find all my posts about editing and self-editing), is a very common error in the use of the words lie and lay. I am going to ask you to read a post on another blog that explains this very well, along with one or two other common grammatical errors, so click here. This post was written by a writer friend of mine on a blog that a group of six writers, including me, post on.

In addition to the grammar you just read on that post, I would like to address who and whom. I continually see writers using who but never using whom when they should.

Who is used as the subject of a verb or as a complement of a linking verb. For example: It was Sara who baked the peach pies. When writing a sentence, first determine what the verbs are — was and baked. Next, find the subject for each verb: Sara and who. Because who is a subject, it is correct. Who won the fifty yard dash?

Whom is used as the object of the verb or as the object of a preposition. It’s an objective pronoun. For example: Jason took whom to the prom? In this sentence, the subject and verb are “Jason took”. The pronoun that follows the verb is the object of the verb. Therefore whom is correct. Example: She’s playing tennis with whom? This pronoun is the object of the preposition with, so whom is the proper choice.

However, you need to be careful. Sometimes the prepositional pronoun in question can also be a subject — if it is, you need to use who. For example: Princess Liana cheered for who exhibited the best character. Even though the pronoun follows the preposition “for”, it is also the subject of the second verb “exhibited”. When used as a subject, always use who.

How Does One Write Well? Part 1

As a writer and an avid reader, I find that just as two of the writing tools above have changed a lot over the years, so have the books that get published. Due to the option of self-publishing and the ability to publish not only hardcover or paperback books, but also ebooks. The market is over saturated with writers and their works.

In some ways this is a good thing. In other ways, not so much. I do not mean to step on anyone’s toes in this article nor am I looking for an argument. I simply want to write what I have seen, learned, and experienced for myself with the hope that it may present food for thought for both readers and writers alike.

I have loved to read ever since I learned how to do so. I have also dreamed of being a published writer for many years…

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Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery by Gloria Oliver

Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery (Daiyu Wu Mysteries Book 1) by [Gloria Oliver]

Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery is the first book of the Daiyu Wu Mysteries series by Gloria Oliver. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

The setting of Black Jade is Texas in 1930. In Black Jade, Ms. Oliver often refers to the Yellow Terror and Daiyu Wu and her family are treated as strange and looked down upon, and to be feared. If you know anything about 1930s U.S. history, it was at that time that Chinese immigrants were coming into the United States and westerners feared that the Chinese would invade their lands. They also believed the Chinese were a threat to Western values, and the media coined the term “Yellow Peril” when referring to the Chinese.

Apparently, Ms. Oliver decided to use the term “Yellow Terror” in her story and she portrayed how it affected a Chinese family who wanted nothing but to live in the United States and run their business. They had fled China because their daughter was not accepted in the Chinese culture because she was blind.

Black Jade is both a historical mystery and an amateur sleuth mystery, as young Daiyu is quite intelligent and very aware of her surroundings, and one day while working in the family’s laundry, she stumbles upon the scent of garlic. With the help of her friend, Jacques, she discovers the source of the odor is a green ballgown. This leads Daiyu to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic.

That is the beginning of the mystery that sends Daiyu, her dog, Prince Razor, and Jacques on quite an adventure to discover who was murdered and who committed the crime.

Gloria Oliver paints wonderful descriptions that take the reader deep into the places that Daiyu and Jacques go, into a society that isn’t quite sure how to react to a clever, blind Chinese girl, into a family that has problems, and into a coroner’s lab. She has created unique characters that are very interesting and engaging, and a murder mystery that will keep you guessing.

The only thing I struggled with while reading this story was being able to see Daiyu and Jacques as adults. The way they are treated by Daiyu’s parents and most of the people they came into contact with, as well as their interactions with and reactions to each other, convinced me they were youth. However, this did not, in any way, hinder my enjoyment of the story.

Daiyu’s dog, Prince Razor, and a young man who showed interest in Daiyu were wonderful additions to the cast of characters.

If you enjoy good murder mysteries on the cozy side, you will enjoy Black Jade. I will issue one warning for sensitive readers that there are a handful of curse words scattered about the story, but they can easily be overlooked.

Black Jade is well written, educational, and entertaining.

I give Black Jade by Gloria Oliver 5 stars.

A Few Changes to this Blog

This is a photo I used before here on the blog, from Unsplash.

I have tried to have a set schedule of posts here on my blog, but that’s kind of gotten left by the wayside. Every now and then, I have to take time to re-evaluate what I’m doing here based on life circumstances or just a desire to freshen up the blog.

Right now, in my life, my time is divided between family responsibilities, finishing the school year with my youngest son, my writing, and reading and writing book reviews. Although my Wordless Wednesday photo posts were very popular, since Covid started, I don’t go many places and therefore don’t take very many photos anymore. So, for now, Wordless Wednesday will not appear. I hope to be able to post them, at least occasionally, in the future.

I am planning to start a monthly e-newsletter where I will give updates on my upcoming novel, self-editing tips for writers, and other goodies. I should have that all figured out and set up for you to sign up for it here on the blog by the end of the month.

So, for now, I will continue to post lots of book reviews, and anything else that I feel pressed to share, but it will all be either writing related or stuff that’s going on in my life. I also hope to get back to writing Flash Fiction pieces for Fridays.

I hope you all are well, and that if you’re a writer, that you are continuing to write.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

It’s “Writing Prompt” Thursday. I really hope more of you will begin to participate in this activity. It’s wonderful practice for those of you who write as well as an opportunity to share your writing with others.

Remember, no disrespectful or degrading comments will be posted here about anyone’s writing, as all comments must be approved by me before they post. This site is for encouraging and helping writers. It is a place to lift each other up.

The prompt for this month is:

Suzy ran from the house, letting the screen door bang behind her. She ran to her favorite hiding place.

This can be used anywhere in your story. It doesn’t have to be the first sentence.

Remember, if your story is 500 words or less, please post it in the comments section below. If your story is over 500 words, please email it to me at and I will create a special post for it here on a Saturday, or you can post it on your own blog or website and post a link to it in the comments section below.

Also, remember, you have until the first Thursday of October to write and submit something for this prompt — plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing!

Timeless Tuesday–History Related to my Novel

The Pony Express never made a profit, and it had a short life — only 19 months.

As you will read in my novel, the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860.

Some of the highlights of the life of the Pony Express:

The Pony Express delivered President Abraham Lincoln’s March 4th inaugural address to California in the fastest time ever — just 7 days and 17 hours. The message it brought was news that helped the state stay loyal.

In April 1861, The Pony Express delivered the word that the Civil War had begun. The Pony Express brought news of battles and lists of the dead and wounded to anxious westerners until the Pony Express’s last run in November 1861.

Due to the completion of the transcontinental telegraph, the Pony Express officially shut down on October 26, 1861, but it made it’s last run on November 20, 1861.During its time of operation, the Pony Express completed 300 runs each way over 600,000 miles and carried more than 33,000 pieces of mail.

The Pony Express lives on today–in books and movies, and in the hearts of people who love its history.

The National Pony Express Association rides a 1,943-mile route that is as close as possible to the original trail. It is a 10-day, round-the-clock non-stop event and more than 500 riders participate. But today’s Pony Express riders use short-wave radios and cell phones to spread the news of their journey.

Flash Fiction Friday: Love by Messenger

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Love by Messenger

by Kelly F. Barr

When Tracy stopped walking and looked around, she was in the middle of a wheat field. All she could see were golden stalks of wheat being blown into waves by the wind all around her. The sun was warm on her head and face. Her knees buckled and she collapsed in a heap and sobbed.

What was she supposed to do now? How was she supposed to live without the love of her life? How had this happened? Questions tormented her thoughts as the sobs wracked her body.

When the sobs subsided and Tracy had no tears left to shed, she closed her red, swollen eyes and covered them with her arm. Sheer exhaustion soon plunged her into sleep, but when Austin stepped into her dream, she gasped and sat up. The sun hung low in the sky. How long had she been asleep?

She scrambled to her feet and started back through the wheat in the direction she had come. Austin went with her—in her thoughts. Austin, tall and tan with sun-kissed golden brown hair and a dazzling white smile. At least that’s what he looked like in the photos he sent, but were the photos real?

She met Austin online. He sent her a private message on Messenger. He seemed so kind, caring, and interested in her. She knew the dangers of talking to strangers online, but Austin had a way of drawing her in. Online, people could portray themselves any way they wanted. They could use fake or photo-shopped photos.

Austin told her he loved her just a month after they started speaking to one another. She was thrilled and doubtful at the same time. She hadn’t had any luck finding a good man in person. She knew people who had found their boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé, or spouse online. Of course, they used online dating services. Were those services any safer or more reliable?

Two days ago, Austin suggested they meet in person, but he lived in Arkansas and she was in Pennsylvania. He said he’d come to Pennsylvania but needed help to pay for the airline ticket.

He’d asked her to send $200 via Western Union.

She wasn’t sure why that bothered her so much. She knew airline tickets weren’t cheap. So, why was she so leery of sending the money? Was it her old-fashioned ideals that the man should be the breadwinner and take care of the woman?

That’s when the doubts, fears, and questions started pounding in her brain with a relentless rhythm: what do you really know about him; how do you know he’ll really use the money toward a plane ticket.

Yesterday Tracy had messaged him and said she couldn’t talk to him anymore, that she thought it would be best if they ended their relationship.

Austin’s response was immediate. Tracy, baby, what’s wrong? Did I say something to hurt you? Please, I’m in love with you. I don’t want to lose you. I thought if we could spend some time face-to-face, we could get to know each other better.

Tracy tried to make some sense of the situation. How could she consider a man she had never met, “the love of her life”?

After a night of tossing and turning, Tracy stumbled to the bathroom and splashed cool water on her face, relieving the grittiness from her eyes. She took a shower and dressed in her favorite shorts and t-shirt then rambled to the kitchen, poured herself a cup of coffee, grabbed her cell phone from the counter, and texted Austin.

Good morning. I’m sorry I ran like a scared rabbit. I will send the money today. When will you arrive?

I’m so happy you changed your mind. I will arrive on Wednesday and plan to stay until Sunday. I will make a reservation at the Country Inn and Suites on Route 30 in Lancaster. Will that be convenient?

Tracy smiled. He would be a half hour’s drive away. She texted, Perfect.

Wednesday afternoon Tracy’s cell phone rang. “Hello.”

“Hello baby. I just got into my hotel room.”

Austin’s smooth baritone voice made her heart skip a beat. “Okay. How about I pick you up in an hour and a half? That’ll give us both a chance to freshen up and give me driving time.”

“See you soon.” Austin hung up the phone.

Tracy showered and dressed in a pale yellow sundress and white sandals. She grabbed her purse, keys, and cell phone, slipped out the door and into her blue Honda Fit and was on her way.

When she arrived at the hotel, she checked her hair in the rearview mirror before stepping out of the car and making her way to the hotel lobby.

She stepped into the hotel and scanned the open room. She moved toward a green settee across from the elevators. Before she reached the settee, a tall man, who had been sitting on the gold chair next to the settee, stood and stepped toward her.

“Tracy, what a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”

Her breath caught in her throat. Austin stood gazing at her through bright azure eyes. He looked exactly like his pictures, only more strikingly handsome in person.

Austin took another step toward her, and she could feel the warmth from his body. She inhaled the woody scent of him. She wondered what it would be like to be held in his arms, then he lowered his head and placed his lips on hers.

The kiss was soft, gentle and brief. Tracy found herself wanting more.

“I hope you don’t mind my greeting you with a kiss. I’ve been dreaming of kissing you for several weeks now.” He took her hand in his.

“No. I don’t mind. It was nice.” She smiled at him. “So, are you ready for dinner?”

“Lead the way.” He swung his arm in an arc and bowed slightly.

Tracy took Austin to her favorite restaurant, P. F. Chang’s. They shared Mongolian beef, Oolong Chilean Sea Bass, and Singapore Street Noodles. The waiter boxed the leftovers for Tracy to take home.

“That was delicious. I can see why it’s your favorite restaurant.” Austin patted his flat stomach.

“Tomorrow I’ll take you to a restaurant where you can try traditional Lancaster County fare.”

Tracy drove to Long’s Park, parked the car, and they got out to walk. They ended their walk by the large pond in the center of the park. The sun was low in the sky and the breeze chilled Tracy. She had forgotten to bring a sweater. She crossed her arms over her chest and put her hands on her upper arms.

Austin stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Better?”

“Mm-mm. Much better.” She leaned back into him. After a few minutes, she turned to face him. “This is the largest park in the area. They have summer concerts on Sunday evenings. It’s a great way to come and spend a relaxing evening enjoying some great music. Too bad you leave Sunday afternoon.”

“I’m sure I’ll be back again before the summer is over.”

“Really? How will you afford the airfare?”

“Tracy, I don’t ordinarily have money issues, but my parents are getting older and starting to have health issues. My mom was in the hospital recently, and Dad isn’t very good at housekeeping. Therefore, I hired a housekeeping company to clean my parents home once a week. I paid a couple months in advance before I decided to come for a visit. I could’ve waited until I saved the money again, but I didn’t want to wait. As soon as I have the money, I’ll pay you back.”

“Don’t worry about it, Austin. I’m sorry. What you do with your money is really none of my business.”

He placed a finger under her chin and lifted so that she looked in his eyes once again. “It is your business if we’re going to have a serious relationship. We need to be completely open and honest about everything.” He ran a thumb down the side of her face and over her lips. “You’re beautiful.”

His lips descended to hers and he kissed her, a longer, more passionate kiss than earlier, and she slipped her arms up and around his neck. He pulled her closer.

When the kiss ended, they were both breathing hard. “I guess we should get back,” Tracy whispered.

The next three days passed quickly. Tracy was quiet over breakfast in the hotel restaurant Sunday morning.

“Dollar for your thoughts.” Austin broke the silence.

She grinned. “I thought it was supposed to be a penny.”

“Pennies don’t buy anything these days.”

“I was just thinking about how I almost threw all of this away out of fear, and now I don’t want you to go.”

“I don’t want to go either, but I promise I’ll be back.”

“Can we really make this work? I mean, there are so many miles between us, and you have your parents. You can’t leave them.”

Austin reached across the table and took her hand. “What keeps you here?”

“It’s all I’ve ever known. I have friends and a job here.”

“What about family?”

“I’ve always been the family outcast. I never really fit in, so once my grandparents and parents were gone … well, I have no family ties.”

“We’ll have to give it some thought. All I know is that now that I’ve found you, I don’t ever want to lose you.” He squeezed her hand.

That night, Austin called her when he arrived home. That was the beginning of nightly phone conversations that went on for a month. Then, Tracy asked, “Austin, what are your thoughts about me moving to Arkansas?”

Tracy heard an intake of breath on the other end of the phone line, then an exhale. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. I can take care of everything here and arrive in Arkansas in three weeks.”

“I will be waiting.”

Additional Book Review Posts


Hi Everyone. I want to make you all aware of my new addition to this blog. I have been posting Book Reviews here on my blog on Mondays. However, as I have become a much more sought after Book Reviewer, reviews won’t be posted soon enough if I don’t add another day for Book Reviews.

Therefore, from now on, Book Reviews will be posted on Sundays AND Mondays, beginning this coming Sunday — tomorrow, when my review of The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano will be posted. Then, for those of you who enjoy reading my Book Reviews, be sure to stop by and check out my Sunday and Monday Book Review posts every week.

Thursday writing prompt

Here is the first response to this month’s writing prompt which was posted earlier today. You can find the writing prompt post right below this post. I hope you all enjoy it, and I hope you will be encouraged to try your hand at writing something for this prompt as well.

Stine Writing


This photo prompt comes from Kelly at


Through the deep woods we go strolling

Sweetly talking of love and hope

Silent ‘cept the sound of our feet

Although air is humid, we cope.

Yellow lilies bloom in the brush

Waving so softly in the wind

Love blossoms here alongside us

Happily showing there’s no end.

©2020 CBialczak Poetry

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