Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The layers of the writer, not the writing

In pursuit of improving my craft, I have been diving into the thoughts from a range of different authors to find out how they produce better stories.

One thing I found common to many of them is an idea that our writing should have different layers, and the deeper we go into them, the more engaging our stories will be.

I’ve read about going to deeper layers within characters. Readers will care about a character with depth, who has quirks and foibles not unlike their own. As the story progresses, they reveal more of themselves that the reader can embrace.

I’ve also read about the deep layers of plot. There is an intricate art to weaving subplots in, through and under the main storyline so there is something there for the reader to sink their teeth into.

There are layers of research, whereby authors don’t just check the spelling of the place name or breed of horse. They know what their story setting sounds like, smells like and feels like. They go deeper into finding out where their stories are set.

Lastly, I’ve read about the layering of scenes, so it’s not just a mad scramble from the opening line to the final phrase. Instead, the scene itself takes the reader deeper into the character’s dilemma.

I’ve embraced this advice and all of them have deepened my writing.

But I’ve been challenged beyond this. There is another level of layering that really makes a story deeper and more engaging.

It’s going deeper into the author. Me. You.

I’ve been challenged by God to respond to this. To not just provide a story that has deeper layers in and of itself, but to look at the layers of myself so my story will go deeper for my reader.

These are the layers I’ve been looking at:

  1. My mind. I’m a pretty cerebral, rational guy and I live in my head most of the time.  I’m comfortable at this level. So when I write stories that are only at this layer, they might be observational but it’s still surface. It’s like reporting on a news channel.  Stories should go deeper than that.
  2. My experience. I’ve found that writing from my experience takes the story another level deeper again, when I convey through my characters that I know the wrenching grief of what it’s like to lose a grandfather, or the heart-pounding sprint to catch a flight. It’s another layer again and drives the reader deeper into the story. But I’ve been challenged to take my stories deeper than that.
  3. My heart. I could take the already-signposted route and claim that as an Aussie bloke this is the element of writing I’ll probably struggle with the most. But I’m surprised by how many other authors struggle with this; bloke or not, Aussie or not.  Peeling away the onion-like layers of mind and experience, and connecting with what you feel – in a tangible, real way for readers and putting it on the page – is scary and confronting. Writing from the heart draws readers even deeper into the story we’ve created. I’ve noticed with my own reading, this is where I connect with characters because I can see the passion bleeding through the words on the page. The author has gone beyond that they think or know, and has dared to put on the page what they feel. But there is another layer deeper than that.
  4. My soul. This deepest layer is where I want to be.  I don’t mean by this that all Christian authors instantly turn into writers who produce sermons dressed up as fiction, but to me, writing from the soul is not just writing what you think, know or feel – it’s writing from who you are. It’s the essence of you.  I’ve read stories recently where there is almost something primal about connecting with someone on that level. I love a good plot twist and clever turn-of-phrase more than the next person, but when I read James L Rubart’s The Five Times I met Myself, I was drawn in by the fact that this wasn’t just Jim’s words on the page, it was Jim himself.
So I’ve been challenged not just to go deeper into the layers of the writing, but more into the layers of the writer. 

In my reading, I can see how this writing is the best and it’s a challenge that I’m working towards.  How about you?

PS: Speaking of layers, I've just launched my eNewsletter, which will be looking at the idea of diving deeper into reading, into writing and into life.  If you'd like to subscribe - - I'll send you a short story I wrote called The Funeral. It's another take on a life event we've all experienced.

About David Rawlings

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, I am a sports-mad, married father-of-three with my own copywriting/communication business who reads everything within an arm’s reach. I can see a typo from across the room and always – always – make sure my text messages are grammatically correct.

Oh, and I love cooking, comedy and surfing. Over 25 years, I’ve made writing my career and paid the bills with words. It’s not a big leap from the six-year-old writing short stories instead of doing homework.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Seeing God When the Windshield is Dirty

Lucy Thompson here.

Life has been tough lately. Tough enough to need an extra pair of these:

Seems like my (mostly) smooth driving through life has been hit by a series of boggy stretches of road and churned up byways that have left my windshield mud splattered and rearview mirrors smudged.

Times like this, sometimes God can be hard to see, if I'm being very honest. 

And I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't loosen my white-knuckled grip of the steering wheel as early as I should. Cos, you know...pride. Thinking I can do this all by myself... More pride... Shame. Being overwhelmed.

Sometimes there are no answers. But there is God. Surprisingly, he is enough.

There's that saying  "Sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child." (Source unknown). 

In those moments when the wheels are churning, demands are unmet, and the view through the windshield is blurred with gobs of mud (stuff life throws at us) I sense God nudging me. Saying "hey... Be still. Sit with me for a spell. Wait."


I don't do waiting very well. Anyone?? Even when trying to sleep I'm more like this:

Credit: Facebook :P

But God.

 He doesn't leave us in our mess. He doesn't leave us alone. He doesn't leave us. He will never leave me. Or you.

Want to know why? 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18The Message (MSG)

 Because he loved. Because he gave. In spite of our messes and mishaps. In spite of our distraction by shiny things and squeaky toys. 

God loves you.
Know that.
Trust that. 

Take your gaze off the dirty windshield and look closer. Perhaps you'll see that God is sitting right next to you just waiting for your attention. :)

About Lucy:
Hi! My name is Lucy Thompson. I’m a stay-at-home mum to five precocious children and wife to the ultra-handy Dave by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical settings, and writing about their exploits. 
I enjoy meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When I can be separated from my laptop, I’m a professional time-waster on Facebook (really!), a slave to the towering stack of books on my bedside table, or can be found hanging out with my five children. 
My home is in central Queensland, Australia where I do not ride a kangaroo to the shops, mainly because my children won’t fit
 Try my books: A Cowboy's Dare if you like full length historical romance. Or if time is shorter, Waltzing Matilda,  a novella in Barbour's Oct release.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nine Years from Creation to Publication - Kara Isaac

As I write this I'm four weeks away from the release of my third book, Then There Was You. While it will be my third published book but it is also the first romantic comedy manuscript I ever started, way back in 2008!

Since it's been nine years from beginning to creation to publication I thought it would be fun to give you some idea of how the timeline has been :)

After being told that chick-lit (the genre of my first manuscript) was dead, I was advised that if I ever wanted to be published I needed to find a new genre to write. Decided to try romcom because I love the movies!

Having no idea how to write a romance I attempted a couple of chapters and entered them in a couple of RWA (Romance Writers' of America) contests to get some feedback. Much to my shock the entry finaled in both contests and ended up coming second in the inspirational category in one and winning the other (I still have the $25 check that came with winning!). However, a couple of judges also provided feedback that even though they loved the story, no US publisher would be interested in a book set in Australia and if I was serious about getting it published I would need to set it in the US.

Kept writing the story and entered it in more contests. More finals! But yet more judges (again) saying that I needed to change the setting to the US. After much contemplation, I reached the decision that the Australian setting was pivotal to the story and so, at 50,000 words I set it aside to work on other ideas and hoped that maybe one day the time would come when it made sense to finish it.

Four years later, my literary agent sends me an email saying that an editor at a CBA publishing house has asked if I have any manuscripts set in New Zealand or Australia. I almost fall out of my chair with surprise! Pulling the manuscript out of hibernation I spent three months rewriting the first 50,000 words and finishing the story.

Early 2014
Editors love the story! It goes to a number of publishing boards but ultimately no contract. The most heartbreaking one being when it got a "yes" all the way through (as part of a three-book deal) and then while the publishing house was finalising the contract the decision was made to review their entire fiction line and the contract was pulled.

After being rejected by every publishing house it is pitched to, I return it to hibernation and focus on other projects.

Late 2014
I get the news that Howard Books will be offering me a two-book contract for the stories that ultimately become Close To You and Can't Help Falling. I spent the next two years focused on them.

Late 2016
The news comes from my agent that with Close To You and Can't Help Falling releasing so close together (six months apart) my publisher won't be making a decision on offering me another contract until they have at least a year's worth of sales figures. With the lead in required for traditional publication that means I won't have a book coming out with them in 2017 and potentially not 2018 either. After much pondering (I was eight months pregnant!), a few people telling me I'd be crazy not to, and some nudges from God, I decide to make a leap of faith and publish Then There Was You independently.

Early 2017
The whirlwind adventure of being an indie author hits (which needs its own blogpost or six!). Finding myself the project manager of everything to do with producing a book I pull together my team of editors, cover designer, proof reader, formatter and give myself crash courses on everything from how to get an ISBN, to distribution options, to who to use to print paperbacks to make them cost effective to sell in New Zealand!

May 2017
Preorders for the eBook go up on Amazon and promotional efforts begin with the cover reveal. Advance copies are sent out to 35 early readers and I hide behind my fingers waiting for the first reviews to start coming (Phew! They like it!). The early readers also help pick up remaining typos and errors for correction before the final versions are locked down. The paperback is formatted allowing my designer to complete the cover design for the paperback.

June now holds checking the proof copy of the paperback to ensure all is as it should be before it is approved for production, uploading the final eBook version to Amazon and a changing focus to marketing and promotion to get the word out!

For those of you who are romance readers, here's a taste of Josh and Paige's story :)

Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.

Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But, in the past, his failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He's determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.

When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?

I have two advance Kindle eBook copies to give away to two commenters. Make sure you include an email address so I can contact you if you're a winner! Entries open internationally and close 5pm, Friday, 1 June (CST).

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can't Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her next book Then There Was You releases on June 22. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac   

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Coming Up This Week 


Kara Isaac


Lucy Thompson


David Rawlings


Carolyn Miller: Facing Fears

Friday Devotion 

Shirley Corder


New Releases

Patricia Beal's debut contemporary women’s fiction set in Germany and in the United States, A Season to Dance, is a May 2017 release from Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sprouts of Love, Book 1 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series), releases independently in May 2017.


Upcoming Releases

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, Book 2 in her Regency Brides series, will be a June 2017 release from Kregel.

Kara Isaac's contemporary romance set in Australia and New Zealand, Then There Was You, releases independently in June 2017.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Memories of Mist, Book 3 in her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in July 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Italy, Fatal Cover-Up, will be a July 2017 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Better Than a Crown, Book 3 in her Christmas in Montana Romance series, releases independently in October 2017.

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Book 3 in her Regency Brides series, will be an October 2017 release from Kregel.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Rooted in Love, Book 2 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series) releases independently in November 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in USA, Vanishing Point: A Nikki Boyd Novel, will be a November 2017 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Fragrance God appreciates.

To accept the fact of the Passover sacrifice pointing to Jesus in His redemptive role, there must be some significance in the other sacrifices. The morning and the evening sacrifices are a case in point (Exodus 29:38-41). This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight….a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire.’ 

These sacrifices began and ended the day. They were to be a perpetual sacrifice. Each lamb was totally consumed by fire as it was exclusively offer to God. Other sacrifices were for the benefit of priest and people in the Lord’s presence. C.H. Mackintosh in ‘Notes on the Pentateuch, p.578 said, ‘(the morning and evening sacrifices pointed to) God’s delight in Christ. Morning by morning, evening by evening, day by day, week by week, from one new moon to another, from the opening to the close of the year, it is Christ in His fragrance and preciousness to God ward…the heart of God is refreshed and delighted by Christ.’ This was testified to at His baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The crucifixion was no chance affair. Political intrigue and personal animosity may appear to have driven the nails and the spear. It was however all in the perfect timing of God’s purposes. We rejoice in the Passover. What is not so apparent is its link with the morning and evening sacrifices. Each morning sacrifice was prepared from 7:30am and sacrificed at 9am. The evening sacrifice was slain at 2:30pm and became a burnt offering at 3:30pm.  We can so easily overlook the significance of what Mark records in chapter 15:25 ‘It was the third hour when they crucified him.’ That was 9am. Luke 23:44-46 (NIV) ‘It was about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour…Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.’  That’s around 3pm. The Passover completed that day’s sacrificial services, which on every other day would have concluded with the evening sacrifice. 

Therefore, what was for us, salvation was combined with the sacrifices which delighted the Father! Ephesians 5:2 ‘Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering to God.’ Because He was accepted our commitment to Him has also made us share in the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15. NRSV)

Of all the sacrifices spoken of in the Old Testament none surpass the morning and evening ones. ‘It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night. (Psalm 92:1-2 NIV). Yes, they have been fulfilled! However, when we uphold the Name of the Lord Jesus before the Father’s throne we maintain the principle of the morning and evening sacrifices.


Ray is the author of a 31 Day devotional series on Biblical themes. You can see his books on  they are available at some Christian bookshops and as ebooks. He can be contacted at

Thursday, May 25, 2017

It's a Great Time to be a ... Reader!

Photo courtesy of Paul/
How often do we read the line “It’s a great time to be an author,” with all the various publishing options, affordable tools and study choices available to us?
An obvious flow-on to the above statement is that readers are winners too. And we are. I can’t believe the deluge of reading opportunities I get everyday. It’s very easy to be distracted by incredible choices available to us at the touch of a few buttons. Hands up who regularly ponders the thought of how great it would be if reading were a paid occupation?
Variety of story lengths
The ebook revolution has enabled reading to be delivered in a variety of story lengths. Certainly the shorter form stories existed prior to the ebook but weren’t easily accessible or as prevalent. Now a reader can discover a new author or series from a favourite author by reading a novella or short story for a minimal cost.
Many of this group has participated in a compilation of stories and once again it’s a fun way to discover new authors and/or read multiple authors who are exploring a similar, eg, an Aussie Christmas.
An Episodic Series
This is one of my favourite forms of stories. It harks back to the days stories were published in newspapers, one chapter at a time each week. Most of us know this is how Dickens stories, for example, were first read.
It also borrows from the TV series: the weekly episode that may have a continuous storyline or a new one each episode. My wife is a great TV series watcher but only enjoys those that feature a new story each episode. However, I have friends who much prefer the continuous storyline style.
I’ve just finished Episode 20 of theHarbingers series. 4 authors take one character and take it in turns to publish an episode in the POV of their particular character. A unique story set in a new location with the gang of four trying to get to the bottom of a riddle that has dire global implications involving a mysterious dastardly enemy who has evaded them for 19 episodes.
Simply delicious!
Featuring the writing talents of Bill Myers, Angie Hunt, Frank Peretti1 and Alton Gansky the series has brought me great enjoyment over the past two years. Each month I eagerly waited for the next episode to land. It became so popular Bethany House elected to publish them in four-book cycles.
Any spec fiction reader should try the series.
What’s a new story form that you’ve discovered in recent years that has added to your reading enjoyment?
Notes: 1. Peretti left part way through to be replaced by Jeff Gerke who introduced a fifth character.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Passing it On

“I am an author,” my 10-year-old granddaughter declares with a conviction many published adults would envy. And, indeed, she is. She will read the cereal box if she has forgotten to take a book to the table. She spends hours alone in her room writing stories. She has sleepovers with a friend, and they spend the night writing. And, like a young Jane Austen, she delights in reading her stories aloud to her family.

Of course, her writer nana is thrilled to encourage her. I pass on writing tips and ask her questions about her plot when she is stuck. I listen to her reading and congratulate her—as she truly deserves. I buy books for her and gave her a pink leather journal to write her stories in—although she has recently moved up to writing them on her brother’s computer.

And, dear to my heart, she is well on her way to becoming a devout Janeite. She reads the Little Miss Austenbooks (supplied by Nana) to her little sisters, and has read an unabridged Pride and Prejudice herself. I followed up her reading with a “book discussion group” between the two of us.

I have also give her Eva Marie Hamilton’s delightful Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility colouring and puzzle books, which we do together when I visit.

The crowning touch came on my latest visit when I was able to take her and her mother to the Pride andPrejudice Ball in Calgary. We began the day with English Country Dance lessons.

Then fashioned a Regency hairstyle for her.

Earlier in the week we had remodeled a Disney princess gown a friend had given her and used the cut-off sleeves to make a reticule. The perfect cloak was waiting on a cupboard—another hand-me-down from a friend. She was very concerned that everything we do be “period correct” which made the entire event a teaching moment—even to her lacing nana into her stays.

The ball was a true Cinderella dream. This was not a children’s event. Many an adult male registered surprise, then grinned, when he turned to “set” to his new corner and found she was four feet tall. Our princess danced every dance and never missed a step.

Will my budding author become a professional? I believe the odds are high. But if not, by encouraging her current interests I have helped give her a foundation for a lifetime of pleasure in books. That may well be the greatest contribution I can make to literature.

Indeed, passing on our knowledge and enthusiasms and encouraging the next generation is so much of what life is all about. Those of us who love books can support libraries, volunteer with children in schools, Sunday school and other community programs. Picking up on a child’s interests and encouraging them may well be the greatest contribution any of us can make.

Donna Fletcher Crow has 14 grandchildren, all of whom she endeavors to encourage in their varied interests. She has authored 2 contemporary mystery novels with Jane Austen backgrounds: A Jane Austen Encounter which visits all of Jane Austen's homes and A Most Singular Venture, murder in Jane Austen's London. She looks forward to passing  these on to her granddaughter as well.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Writing Through the Dark Times

It was the fall of 1994. My father had just been diagnosed with cancer. Apparently, the disease had been at work for a long time. At Thanksgiving, we traveled to my parents’ home in Alberta for a bittersweet weekend. 

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, who had been feeling poorly for years, was told she had a brain tumor. Surgery would take place Thanksgiving Monday, so we rushed home from Alberta to see her before surgery.

We were in the midst of moving my in-laws to a retirement home in the city, and we were moving into their house. Through a number of renovations, moving households without the in-laws in attendance, visiting my dad and my husband’s mom—we carried on with force of will and prayer that sometimes seemed to bounce off the ceiling.

How did this affect my writing?

I obviously had long stretches of time where I couldn’t write, either because I was otherwise occupied, or because my mind was in neutral. But I did learn a number of things about life, about my level of endurance, about responses to trials.

What did I do with what I learned?

Over the years, I’ve transferred some of these experiences into the lives of my characters. This is not a manipulative move, but a logical use of suffering. Why waste it? We want our characters to be realistic, so we allow them to make convincing responses. We provide them with true-to-life challenges to deal with in our stories. We keep throwing difficulties their way, and look for their reactions.

As writers, we are always opening up our lives to public scrutiny by sharing our deep thoughts, our struggles, our victories and defeats…through our characters. We become vulnerable to our readers. That’s the name of the game. We are writing about life.

What else did I learn from the dark times?

That God is faithful all the time, even when we don’t realize it. That He is always seeking us out, offering comfort and healing. And that’s why I weave a thread of faith and hope into every one of my novels. I don’t want to force it; I want it to be organic to the story, but hope is something God has given me, and I need to share it with my readers.

For those interested in how my personal plot turned out: my dear dad passed away ten weeks after diagnosis, shortly before Christmas 1994. We miss him deeply, but he has gone ahead of us into glory. My mother-in-law’s surgery went well, only to be followed by a disabling stroke. She struggled for ten years before she passed on to her heavenly reward. We endured and healed, and are enjoying the lovely home we’ve now lived in for twenty-two years.

Life is not easy. Sometimes it’s very dark. But in Christ, we have hope in all things. That’s something I want to share.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Season to Dance Cover - Go Behind the Scenes + Giveaway - by Patricia Beal

Hi everyone! So the debut has been out for a couple of weeks, and people love the cover. I want to give away a book, and take you behind the scenes for a look at the cover development and selection.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of A Season to Dance (void where prohibited)

My original idea didn't work out. I wanted something like this Picnic in Provence cover, but in yellows and oranges. Maybe a sunflower field, the Rhine, the girl. But my publisher doesn't do this kind of cover.

We needed a photograph and a person. I was given the opportunity to search a site and provide input, and I offered a dozen photos/ideas. One was a bride and flowers. The designer found a different image inspired on that bridal idea and that was the image that later became the cover. 

I'm so grateful I was able to give so much input. As most of you know, most contracts, mine included, give the publisher full control of the cover.

Here are other ideas we looked at.

This one was too happy. There are happy moments in the novel, but this cover doesn't reflect the overall mood. And while I like partial faces on covers, I wasn't too keen on this one.

And we looked at this option too. The idea could have worked. I love the tree branches and the flowers, but the model is too young for a story of second chances. Wrong hair color too.

So the bridal stood. I love it because it communicates the perfect mood and is so elegant. It's mysterious. She's walking into her story and reflecting at the same time. I'm so thrilled with it.

Promo image designed using PhotoFunia

What did you think about the other options we looked at? How about the process?

Remember to comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of A Season to Dance (void where prohibited).

Thanks for stopping by!


Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, is out now (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas 2017). Order here!

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.