Category: ‘Writing-Related Posts’

What Happened to Harlequin Romance?

June 7, 2017 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


Do you read Harlequin romance novels?

I thought this article was interesting. Granted it’s three years old, but, we’ve been talking about this subject in writers’ circles over the last five years, give or take. I only had one book out with Harlequin, and am open to submitting to them again, time permitting. I like having my book on a store shelf (including Walmart, Kmart, grocery stores, etc.). But, indie books have really been taking off!

Authors are publishing their own works and are actually making good money doing that. From my experience, and from speaking to other authors, most of the money from indie-published e-books comes from Amazon (mostly their Kindle Unlimited program).

So, do you read Harlequin romance novels? If so, which lines do you read? Do you purchase them in the store or as an e-book?

African-American Novels By White Authors

August 30, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

From the blog archives…


Have you ever wanted to write a novel featuring characters of a different race?
I came across these books in my messy basement. They’re old Heartsong Presents titles that I read years ago, back when I was still in the Heartsong Presents book club. Although these books have African-American characters, the authors are Caucasian. I recall I enjoyed them back when I read them, and I thought the authors did a great job of portraying the African-American characters.I feel it takes a fair amount of talent to write a novel having main characters of another race. I have written novels with Caucasian characters, but, they were never published. My Caucasian-character novels were written a long time ago – way before I’d learned much about the craft of writing.

So, have you ever wanted to write a novel featuring characters of a different race? If so, did you write it? Was it hard to do? Leave a comment!

Question From A Writer…

August 14, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

I received the following questions from a writer named Regina:

Hi Cecelia,

Is your latest book project almost done?  I think it had a Key West backdrop.

>>>My novel, First Mates, was set in Miami. I’m revising an old project right now and I plan to self-publish that short novel late this year or early next year.

I had to put my book on hold for awhile. I wanted to ask about websites and their prices. Do you think that writers need to have a website just for poetry?

>>>Poetry? I know next to nothing about poetry since I seldom read it. If you’d like to sell your poetry (I’m assuming you have a book of poems) then it’d probably be best to have a website. That way, other poetry lovers can find you and they might purchase your book.

How effective are blogs? What do you think of them?

>>>Blogs are kind of tricky. Meaning, you have to update often, interact with others regularly, in order for them to be effective. How effective are they? It’s hard to say. I’ve heard some writers say that they can get more effective interaction with social media, like Facebook and Twitter, instead of their blogs. I’ve also heard of writers abandoning their blogs entirely, while focusing on social media. You just have to do what’s best for you.

>>>I recently attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers conference and blogs were discussed. You might want to start slow, like, maybe, one blog post per week. As you gain more momentum, you might want to increase your blog posts to two or more per week. At the conference, they mentioned it’s best to pick a schedule and STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE! I’m not very good with sticking to a blogging schedule anymore. My life has gotten so hectic that I just blog whenever I feel like it. That works for me, but, if you’re starting out with a new blog, I’m not sure if that would be effective? It’s hard to say which blogging method would work – it’s all a process of trial and error.

I’ve been trying to put a budget together to see what are very good options that I can venture into to get an audience for my work.

>>>If I were you, I’d try blogging as well as social media. Try to find other blogs that focus on the same demographic as yours, comment and interact with those people, and they might come to your blog and interact with you. Again, it’s hard to say what will work. Thanks for writing to me, Regina! It was good to hear from you!


Using The Five Senses – From The Blog Archives

May 29, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

How do you describe taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound in your writing?

I attended a local writers’ meeting. We did a free write before we started the meeting. We wrote things that used the five senses. I think it’s important to make your reader feel what you’re writing through taste, touch, smell, etc. It was fun doing the exercise and if you are familiar with my writing, you may guess that I chose to write about food. I described the following three desserts (some of my favorites) in such vivid detail that the other members wanted some: chocolate cake, lemon pound cake, and chocolate chip cookies.

When you write, think about how things feel, smell, taste. If you have a garden with flowers, sit in the garden and sniff – describe the smell. Be sure to sit out there with your laptop or pen and paper so that you can record your smell descriptions. You can do the same exercise with taste. The next time you enjoy your favorite meal or dessert, eat it slowly, think, describe it so that when others read it, they’ll be salivating, wanting some of the food which you’ve described.

Do you have any tips to share about writing about how to tap into our five senses? Leave a comment!


~Cecelia Dowdy~


Question From A Poet

February 5, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

To whom it may concern:
My name is R.B. and I am a poet. I’ve been writing since the age of twelve and I’ve had several of my poems published. What I would like to do is publish a book of inspirational poems based on my life & the things I’ve been through. I’m well aware of the fact that most publishing companies only pay to publish the books of well known authors and celebrities. I may not be a celebrity, but my Heavenly Father is and I believe that my testimony displayed in each and every one of my poems can touch people in a special way. I perform my pieces at church programs and everyone keeps asking me when they can purchase my book. All I need is for someone to take a chance on me and my work. I am very aware that anything worth having is worth working for and I am willing to put in the work if given the opportunity. Investing in me would be a blessing to me as well as all the people I will reach through my book. Please seriously consider my proposal. Please and thank you in advance. God bless you.
My response:
R.B., thanks for writing to me and for visiting my blog! I appreciate getting questions from writers. I know very little about publishing poetry, so, I’m going to give you advice based upon limited experience. If I were you, I’d self-publish my book of poems. If you’re doing regular performances at churches, then you already have a built-in platform! I think it’s awesome that you’re using your gifts to glorify God’s Kingdom!
I’m not sure which publisher I’d recommend that you use, though, since I’ve never self-published a book. I’d assume you’d want to search for somebody as an editor to help with editing your work before you get it published. You might also want to make your poems available as an e-book, too. However, I’d definitely get paper copies of your books printed because it appears that you’d be able to move/sell a lot of copies after your performances. Also, make sure that your book has a nice, professional-looking cover.
From what I’ve heard over the years, publishers rarely offer book contracts for poetry. It just doesn’t sell very well. That’s why I feel it’d be best if you paid to have your work published (by self-publishing your poems). I’m not sure about the cost of getting your work published, but, with your regular performance engagements, I’d imagine it wouldn’t take long for you to earn your money back when you sell your copies to your audience.
You’d mentioned the following:
I’m well aware of the fact that most publishing companies only pay to publish the books of well known authors and celebrities.
This is simply not true. I’m certainly not famous or well-known and I’ve had five books published. This is a myth that needs to be broken. I guess there is some truth to that statement if you are specifically referring to biographies and true-life stories – in those cases, you’d probably have a better chance of getting a book contract if you were famous/well-known.
From the tone of your email, I sense that you think that I am a publisher. I’m not a publisher, I’m an author, however, I do answer questions on this blog from other writers.
I hope you found my advice helpful, and I hope you have a blessed day!

Creating Characters

December 28, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

How do you create characters for your stories?

This question is for the writers who read my blog. What do you do when you create your characters? At the end of this blog post you’ll find a character chart that I use to help me to create my people. I have no idea where this chart originated. I believe I gleaned some of it from a Writers’ Digest book about creating characters. It’s also possible that I got some of the questions from another author. I’m creating a novel now, and I had to pull this out to create the people that go along with my story.

What method do you use for creating characters? Leave a comment!


~Cecelia Dowdy~

Questions that should be answered when creating characters for novels:

Character Name:




Physical Characteristics:


Best Feature:


Feelings about their own looks:




Ethnic Background:




Neighborhood of Youth:




Church affiliation:


What they believe about God:


Parent’s Attitudes about:


Money/Getting Ahead:


Discipline received:










Attitude about:


Money/Getting Ahead:






Favorite Foods:


Favorite Music:


Favorite Movie/Book:










Strong Points:




Pet Peeves:




A character question: Does your character MAKE things happen or REACT to what happens?


What is the most significant/emotional things that have happened in your character’s life?

Why Do You Want To Get Published?

December 6, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Why do you want to get published?

This question popped into my mind recently. I’ve noticed over the last eighteen years, since I’ve been congregating with other writers, that there’s a desire, a deep desire, for most of us to attain publication. Why?

I know for me, when I first caught the writing bug at the age of about twenty-eight, I felt enthralled to finally discover an occupation that I enjoyed! I’d been reading books my entire life, and the mere thought of sharing shelf space among authors whom I’d enjoyed reading gave me an unexplainable sense of joy and euphoria! Whenever I met new people, the first thing I proclaimed about myself was that I was a writer!

I’m not as vocal about my writing as I used to be, but, the joy of writing is still within me. I still long to see my books in a bookstore again.

So how about you? Why do you want to get published? Leave a comment!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Do The Amish Live In Portugal?

October 26, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


I received the following question recently from a blog reader:

Hello, my name is Sandra, and I live in Lisbon, Portugal.

I am trying to write a book. I have this idea where I would like to include an Amish community, but I have been looking for the possibility of an Amish Community living in Portugal, but I can´t find any. Is there a possibility of an Amish community living in Portugal?

Thank you for your time.

Best regards


Hi, Sandra.

Occasionally, I get questions from blog readers about the Amish because of this series of Amish blog posts that I wrote a few years ago. People mistakenly consider me an “expert” on the subject, but I only have surface knowledge about the Amish. I can tell you what I know based upon my limited knowledge. You might want to email some Amish authors to get a more in-depth answer.

The Amish immigrated here from Switzerland, I believe? And, right now, they mostly live in the United States and Canada? I’d thought that since they immigrated from a European country, that there would still be some Amish groups in Europe? However, I didn’t see anything about this mentioned when I was doing my research a few years ago.

I did find that there are Mennonites in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s possible that you could focus on that group instead of the Amish? I’m unclear if this Mennonite group is “Old-Order”? Since Amish and Mennonites used to be one group, and since the Mennonites are split from the Amish, the beliefs of both groups overlap. Since you live in that area, you might want to research this. Here’s the link about Mennonites in Portugal.

Are you sure you want to limit your setting to Portugal? According to this short article about the Amish living in Europe, there are Beachy Amish in the Ukraine, Ireland, and Belgium. The difference between Beachy Amish and Old Order Amish is that the Beachy Amish are more liberal.

I hope that helps, Sandra!



~Cecelia Dowdy~

Questions From Writers

July 16, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


Photo courtesy of Suat Eman


I received the following questions from Kelsey and Mary:

Hi my name is Kelsey. I recently visited your blog website and wanted to seek your help. I recently finished a young adult novel and I am seeking help in getting it published.

Hi, Kelsey. Thanks for writing to me. There’s no nice “pat” answer about how to get your book published. If you’re trying to get your book commercially published, the first thing I’d recommend is attending a writers’ conference. That way, you’ll come in touch with like-minded people who share your passion and who can give you some insight about seeking publication. Editors and agents are also in attendance at writers’ conferences, so, you can get a chance to see which publishers are seeking YA stories. You can also meet with editors and agents, making it possible to determine if they may be interested in your novel. Also, you should have your book either critiqued by a good critique group or professionally edited before you submit to publishers.

Hopefully, that’ll be enough to get you started! Since I write Christian romance, the conferences that were most helpful to me were American Christian Fiction Writers conference and Romance Writers of America conference. Simply do a Google search for writers conferences. You might find one in your area if you can’t afford to go to the ones that are far away. I don’t attend writers’ conferences as much as I used to since they can be a bit pricey.


This question came from Mary. Mary’s book cover is to the left:

I love your blog. [I like the] heartwarming photos and great info. I am a published author of Inspirational Romantic Suspense.
I am new to the publishing world. This is my first novel. What happens after the two year contract is up? If neither myself or publisher decides to sign another contract where does that leave my novel? I think what I’m trying to ask is: Do I get to keep the edited novel or does all the edits made revert back to the publisher? If I wanted to self-publish the book myself would I start from scratch with my unedited copy making sure non of the publishers edits are in the manuscript?


Hi, Mary

Thanks for the compliments about my blog! I enjoy blogging and I’m glad when people tell me that they like to visit and look at the wonderful pics!

Congrats on your release of Escape To Big Fork Lake. I’m not a lawyer, but, I’d think it all depends upon what’s stipulated in your contract. I’d imagine if they have rights to the book for two years, after that time span is up, you then need to request the rights back to your book and then you can do what you want with your book – using whichever version you choose to use. Before you sign a contract with a publisher, it’s probably best to get a literary lawyer to review the contract if you don’t have a literary agent.

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Pen Pals – From The Blog Archives

July 9, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

by Cecelia Dowdy

Note, this is a repeat of an old blog post.

Does the title of this blog post bring back memories? Have you ever had pen pals? If so, do you remember their names and where they were from? How long did the writing relationship last?

Pen pals is a somehwat “archaic” term. The reason I say this is because with the advancement of the internet, I don’t think people write letters to one another anymore using pen, ink, envelope and stamp. When I was growing up, I believe my fascination with pen pals was one of the indications that I’d become a writer when I got older.

I recall reading the Archie Comic books and there was a list of people from which to choose pen pals listed in the book. Also, you could send in money to the comic book people and they’d mail you the address for a pen pal. I recall taping approximately 75 cents onto the order form and mailing it out to the comic book people. In return, I received pen pals.

I recall two of my pen pals quite well. One was named Karen G. (I won’t reveal the last name, but I remember it.) and she lived in Jacksonville, Florida. The other one was named Tammy K. and she lived in…Maine, Montana, Massachusetts? I only recall that Tammy’s home state started with a M. I exchanged pictures with both of them. Karen had short curly dark hair and Tammy had long brown straight hair. Sometimes, we’d exchange gifts. Tammy sent me a necklace once and it had a pendant in the shape of a chocolate ice cream cone! 🙂

I wrote to these girls for about a year or so? Then, the relationship just tapered off to nothing. The letters stopped suddenly and when I wrote, I finally received no response from either of them. I wonder where these ladies are today and if they even remember writing to me back in the seventies.

So, have you ever had pen pals? If so, do you remember their names and where they were from? How long did the writing relationship last?

Don’t forget to leave a comment!

~Cecelia Dowdy~