Chautona Havig

If It’s a Favorite Series, Why the Complete Makeover?

I fell in love with the photo the moment it came up.  Wide, vivid-green eyes, a hand clapped over her mouth.  The image screamed “terrified,” which is what I wanted.  I put it in my favorites and waited for the day I’d need to make that cover.

The name of the book was Deceptive Appearances, and I loved that stock photo so much that I changed my main female character’s eye color to match.  This is big, because usually, I’d just change the eye color in the photo.  But it was just too powerful not to use as it was.

By the time I was ready to publish and needed that cover, a ministry I knew about was using it for a book about “snowflakes.”  No, not GenZ or millennials but frozen embryos who, without parents to adopt them, would be conceived, frozen, and die.

It wasn’t that I objected to the book’s concern for the frozen babies out there.  But I didn’t get the point of that photo with the subject matter.  And it became a problem.  Did I want to use the same photo?

For the uninitiated, stock photos work like this.  The photographer takes the picture and uploads it to the site (often multiple sites). People scroll, and like eBooks, mp3s, videos or whatever, you pay for permission to download and use it.  One person might.  One hundred might.  Possibly even thousands.

But knowing it was being used by a Christian ministry on a book already?  That seemed like asking for trouble.

Then I saw it.  A new cover for that book. Bought “my” photo so fast I’m still spinning!

And the cover for the newly renamed, Justified Means was “born.”

When another book got roped into the Agency Files series, I decided to keep with the “green theme.”  Black and green was really working for me. It continued through to book five—Hashtag Rogue.

But I’d planned for Hashtag Rogue to be book one of a trilogy within the Agency Files Series, so I thought I’d phase the series out into a yellow and black by the end. So there I was, lining up the covers to see what I’d need to do when I saw something that made my gut clench.


There was none.  While I loved the individual covers, I did not love the look of all of them lined up. That’s when I knew it was time to do the hard thing.  I needed all new covers. It took hours to get the feel right, but I’m pleased to announce that I’ve got something that I think will flow into Pointed Suspicion (book six) and Take Cover (book seven).  Meanwhile, may I introduce you to The Agency Files?

Dana Mentink

The Wacky World of Fiction

I have been writing professionally for twenty two years and I can say with out equivocation that the fiction world is pretty odd. I mean really. How many people do you know who earn their living making up whole worlds and slapping them on paper? Perhaps that is why writers of fiction can get a bit, er, eccentric. All those long hours, steeped in imaginary lands, can lead to some interesting quirks. Now mind you, I’m not terribly quirky myself, except for the odd habit of avoiding red pen, the inability to write with any kind of music playing, and my tendency to switch locations every hour or so. Hmmm. Now that I spell those things out, maybe I am a little eccentric. But I have very good company!  Let’s look at three fascinating examples.

  1. I am a big fan of the pencil. I believe there is nothing more wonderful that a sharp pencil with a new eraser. I avoid writing in pen like the plague. The great John Steinbeck had a thing for pencils too. He started every day with 24 sharpened pencils. He would write until all of them were dull, and then sharpen them and dive in again. Some days he could go through dozens of pencils!


  1. My parents both grew up in Cuba where Ernest “Papa” Hemingway was a hero. He had a four story tower on his Finca Vigia (Lookout Estate) property where he would climb every morning and write until noon. No one dared disturb him. I’d like to give that a try, if only I could hide from my two children, hubby, dog, and box turtle in my tiny one story home. The best I can do it go outside in the garden. I’d give my eye teeth for a tower!


  1. And perhaps the quirkiest of all….famous children’s author Dr. Seuss invented the word ‘nerd.’ It took him a year to writeThe Cat in the Hat and it only uses 236 different words. His first book, And To Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was published. By the way, he wasn’t a doctor, but he called himself one in honor of his father who wanted him to go into medicine. So there you go! If that doesn’t show you that fiction writers are made of different stuff, I don’t know what does!

And one more weird fiction fact….just for fun. Did you know that a road in the UK, the M6 Toll, was paved using more than 2 million recycled Mills and Boon romance novels? See? What did I tell you? The world of fiction is WEIRD!

Julie B. Cosgrove

Whose Strength?

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Psalm 22:19

Rabbi David Wolpe tells the story of a father and son walking along a path. They come across a huge rock in the road. The son flexes his muscles and asks if his father thinks he can move it.

The father answers, “Of course, if you use all of your strength.”

The son tries and tries, but it barely budges. He gives up, exhausted. “You said I could move it if I used all my strength. You were wrong.”

The father crouches down to his eye level. “But you didn’t use all of your strength. You didn’t ask me for help.”

When I heard that my heart crunched. How often have I relied on my own strength? If, as Scripture states, God prepares me for whatever comes along so I should be handle it myself. True to my Anglo heritage, I put on a stiff upper lip and soldier on. Then alone in my room, exhausted and frustrated, I admit my weakness and cry out as tears flow. Have I failed not only myself but God?

As I get older, I realize that there are more and more things I can’t do on my own. I need someone else’s strength. In my weakness, when I ask for help, I am become stronger because someone is right there with me, helping me.

If I am going to ask for help, who better to ask than my Father in Heaven? The One who will never let me down, Who is all powerful and all knowledgeable.

When did I forget that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13), not because Christ has given me the strength to do it on my own? He prepares me by teaching me to trust Him. He comes alongside and adds His power to my powerlessness. In my weakness, I am made strong because I lean on Him. I gain confidence through a growing faith in Him, not in my own abilities.

We are never too old to call on Daddy.

Paul knew this. He told the Corinthians in his second letter―

But he [Christ] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Life has a habit of dropping boulders in our path. Illness, job loss, divorce, death, betrayal. Instead of asking for God to give us the strength to endure, let us ask our Father to use His strength to help us. He will help us find a way around it, under it, over it, or to move it away.

We were never meant to battle this world on our own. Our faith is not weak if we cry out for help. Our strength is multiplied when we apply faith to our situation and ask Daddy for help.

Help can come in many ways. A friend, a stranger at the right place and the right time, a Bible verse you never noticed before. Perhaps a hymn or praise song on the radio that zaps into your heart or the words in a sermon or Bible study that is the answer you sought.

Rest assured. God will respond. You don’t have to move all the rocks in your path alone.

In Leaf Me Alone, many of the characters learn to ask for godly help. Mrs. Perkins, who is in hospice, needs help locating her long-lost nephew, Mannie, who finally sought help to kick a drug habit and the endless despair of homelessness. Shannon needs her hubby’s help to locate the nephew, and they both discover how God places strangers in their path to help them accomplish this goal.

Go to to preview all of Julie B Cosgrove’s mysteries and contemporary  suspense/romance novels where God meets real people in real struggles and brings redemption into their lives.


Marji Laine

I have been so blessed for so long to have all of my family living nearby. My brother and sisters live within two hours from me and all of my

kids and my mom have lived no more than forty minutes away.

Until this week. My precious redhead and her groom have moved four states away from me. That might not be such a big deal in some areas,

but I live in Texas. We’re talking about a fourteen hour trip at the very least.

That’s what we took last weekend, moving my girl and dear son-in-law along with a moving truck carrying all their worldly possessions and both of their cars to Georgia.

And it was actually fun.

I know this is where the Lord is leading them. He has given me such peace about their move. Oh, don’t worry. I shed the tears, but at the same time, this was right and good. I loved getting to see their little apartment and helping them set up the kitchen. (It was a third-floor walk-up, so I wasn’t doing a lot of carrying!) And we took pictures and had movie night while we were there, just relaxing and spending time together with no other responsibilities.

Then we said goodbye with a few tears and a few hugs. But we’re not giving up our close relationship – we have Zoom and weekly game nights. And we aren’t giving up on spending time with them. In fact, we’re planning another trip in October. Yea.

We have released them to pursue their dreams, though and find the path that God has intended for them.

My character Alynne has a little trouble with that in the book Breaking Point. She was going through the motions in Dallas, doing what she assumed she was supposed to do without even talking to the Lord about it. When tragedy strikes, it jars her out of her comfort. Still attempting to jump through the hoops she’d imposed on herself, she begins to realize what a mess her life has become.

Her story is different from my daughters – I certainly hope so, since it’s a murder mystery and suspense! But the essence is there. Change is good. Necessary for life. Needed for growth. Even though it’s sometimes a little uncomfortable or even painful, we’re usually better off with the change than without it.