Taking Time To Write

Life and Happiness, Writing

I’ve started writing a new novel.

Don’t get excited just yet. I started it once, revamped it, started over using some of the previous text and am now on my way. I think. The first try had over 10,000 words. The second is creeping just up to the 7,000 mark.

Writing can be frustrating, but I keep at it. I’m not the type of writer who has dozens of ideas in my head for novels. And I’m often so caught up in editing for clients that to write a novel of my own seems too daunting a task. Most days I don’t get two words written because I’m so overwhelmed by words that I can no longer put them together in a sentence.

Some friends and I discussed that I should write in the morning. That way, I get my words down before I submerse myself in someone else’s words. But I’m barely awake in the morning. And the muse is usually still asleep.

Ideas come to me at night. Right before I fall asleep. I try to write them down sometimes, but it doesn’t always work. And, in the morning, when I see, “car trip fighting romance?”, it doesn’t always connect with the grand idea I had the night before.

But in next week I’m going to be at my favorite writing conference. I’ll be surrounded by people who write every day. I’ll have time to write! (Maybe.) I hope my own creative juices flow and I can get at least over that 10,000 word mark while I’m away.

My goal is to have this book written by the end of the year. Because goals are important. And so is prayer. So I’m asking each of you to pray for me when you think about it. Pray that God will give me the time and the word and the motivation to get it done. Pray that the book will hold an element of Christianity that I can share with the world. Pray that His words will be spoken.

Thanks, friends. Have a great week.


Friday Fun!

Life and Happiness

Hi, all! I’m at the great St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this week so I can’t blog too much. My brain is full and I’ve met scores of new people, but I don’t want to leave you all out!

Our conference is almost over this year, but if you know someone who is a writer in the PA, OH or even NJ, NY, MD, VA areas, give them a heads up about this awesome conference. We’d love to have even more people attend next year. Check out our website: www.stdavidswriters.com.

From our website: “St. Davids is special. We’re an intimate gathering of writers that provides an opportunity to build a network, not by exchanging business cards in a busy hallway. Here we connect, like real people – laughing over lunch, chatting about our projects in the lounge, or giving our elevator pitch in genre group meetings. Writing is a different beast with the digital world, but connecting with people is still done face to face.”

Here we connect over hot meals and within cool classrooms. The people I’ve met at this conference have been folks I’ve been able to network and pray with as well as simply be friends. We’re bonded for life. And we have fun!


I hope you’ll consider joining us next year. Make sure you sign up on our website for the newsletter so you can keep abreast of when registration opens for 2018!

Happy Friday!!!

Our characters are stranded!


During my last writers’ critique group, we talked about the stories we’re all working on. It used to be that many of us worked on short stories – writing them down, editing and sending them off in a timely manner. Now, many of us are working on manuscripts – full length novel-type stuff. So we’ve all been with our characters for quite some time. It often takes years to finish a book and hours and hours of editing, rewriting, refining and restructuring. The “work in progress” starts to drag out and it seems like all we do is spend time with these imaginary characters.

And some of us are sick of these people. They never seem to do quite what we want them to and they frequently stray from our very detailed and precise road map. Don’t they know we have an outline to follow?! But, NO, they just go on living their imaginary lives, making choices we didn’t see coming and then we’re forced to rewrite large sections or rethink our ending.

And that’s when we leave them stranded. We let these characters, that had once been so near and dear to our hearts, out in the proverbial cold. (And this is often when some characters get killed off, too. We can do that, you know. We’re writers. We brought you into this world…we can take you out.)

When one group member complained that another member’s story was dragging out and she simply wanted to know the ending, she was asked, “Where are your characters?” She simply replied, “Still swimming.” (They’re mermaids.)


from Pinterest

Another member said, “Mine are stranded in space! I bet their oxygen is running low…”

While some of our characters are languishing about trying to decide which boy to choose, which way they should turn or how to get back home, others are starting to take shape in our minds. As writers, we often start some new story, full of new characters, before ending the last one. Many of us have multiple “works in progress”… in progress. The woman with the space folks? She also has an unfinished teenage series, a biblical epic and probably several short stories just hanging around her computer space. I have a woman character hanging out in her apartment wondering what she’ll do next and a bevy of readers waiting (I hope) on my biblical nonfiction work aimed at negative thinkers. Meanwhile, I’m writing this blog.

All writers do it.

Where does that leave our characters? Stranded.

I thought about this a bit since the meeting and I’ve come up with a solution. We should get all our characters together for a party! The mermaids could take their first trip into space and the teenage girls and boys could have a swim party with the Tritons. Wouldn’t that be fun? Oh! Even better, we’ll splice all these worlds together into one mixed up book. Like one of those “pick your own ending” books. THAT would be some science fiction right there. And we could add in new characters to make it seem plausible – bringing their worlds together! Yes, that’s it! We can bring all our characters to life again in a new story where they all finally FINISH something.

No…wait…that seems like a whole new book.

Darn. I did it again.

Guess we’ll just have to push forward and try to finish off these pieces. Even if our characters do irritate us, it’s only right to give them a ride…since we brought them into the world in the first place.

Are you a writer working on something you think will never be finished? What’s stopping you? Go pick up your characters and remember why you loved them in the first place. And, please, don’t leave them stranded.

Happy Monday!

Additional Services

Editing Advice, Life and Happiness, Writing

I’ve been experiencing a few slow days here in my editing work so I’ve had time to do some work around the house instead. I’ve washed the windows, cleaned the house (goodness, it needed it) and worked a bit on my non fiction book. (My Young Adult novel is being read by a group of awesome writers right now and I’ve gotten good feedback! I can’t wait to get it out there for all of you to read it!)

I’ve also done a bit of extra work for some clients and found that it was a fun way to pass some of the extra time I had on my hands. So, I’d like to pass along my additional skills to every one of my readers in case you’re in need of something I can offer, too.

  • Editor: As you all know by now, I’m primarily a freelance editor. I work mainly with full-length fiction novels, but I’ve done my fair share of non fiction works, too. I specialize in substantive editing (the big picture stuff), but I have a keen eye for detail, too and I’m pretty OCD when it comes to misspellings and punctuation issues. I’m actually looking for some shorter pieces – articles, blog posts, devotions, etc. So if you have something you’d like an editor to look over – give me a shout out! My rates (I’m told) are very reasonable and I love to help others with their writing.
  • Writer: I don’t like to write for others – ghostwriting they call it – but I do some copy writing. Recently, I worked on an author bio for my long-term client, Shannyn Leah. If you haven’t read any of Shannyn’s books yet, you should. Especially if you like romance novels. Her new story, Winters Rising, comes out soon and includes fantasy with the romance – it’s such a good read! Check out the author bio I did for Shannyn here.           In addition to writing bios, I write book descriptions, too. I’ve written all of Shannyn’s – see the one for Winters Rising here.
  • Amateur Genealogist: I’ve done my own genealogy work for almost ten years now for both myself and my husband’s family. I’ve also helped a few friends with their initial family trees. Although, I think Ancestry.com is a pretty straightforward site to use, some folks have a hard time getting started. I’d love to help you start your family tree on Ancestry if you’re interested and see where it might lead! I’ve already identified a Revolutionary War Patriot (several actually) in my family, several in my husband’s family and, probably, at least one in my friend’s family. Not to mention Civil War Veterans! It’s so fun – let me help you discover your family history!
  • Beta Reader: I’ve recently realized the importance of beta readers as I wait patiently for mine to get back to me about my YA. I believe beta reading plays to my own strengths as a substantive editor because I see the big picture of the story first. Does it work together as a whole? Are there lapses in the timeline? Does the story need more … something … to make it shine even brighter? I’d be happy to do beta reading for anyone who needs it and will do so in exchange either for a free copy of your book when it’s complete or for a very minimal fee.

So there you have it – all my many skills! Truly, truly, I’d love to help you in whatever way you think I could. I believe that God has blessed me with the skill set I have in order to connect to others in a more personal way. I love working one on one with authors to refine their novels. I’ve made many good friends as a result and each and every one has been so equally supportive to me when I need it, too. Life is about relationships and I’m loving meeting new people and reading their work every day.

God bless and have a great week!


To see more of my services, click here. To contact me about any of the above services, go to my contact page and send me a note. I respond typically within 24 hours. In addition, follow me on Instagram and Twitter.


Celebrating an almost finished piece


This past Tuesday I finished my novel. Well, okay, not finished, finished… but I wrote the ending. My word count is just shy of 50,000 and I’ve nothing more to say. It’s finished.

When I was near the end, I cried. And cried. And cried.

You would think that finishing writing my novel would be a cause for celebration, and it was… later. But after almost two years of kicking, screaming and proclaiming that I could write this novel… I finally finished it and the result was an emotional release I had not been forewarned about.

It doesn’t hurt that most of this novel is loosely based on childhood events I experienced with my best friend. That means I used certain moments from my own life in the lives of my characters. While it certainly helps with the word count and to get the story out there, it sometimes also means delving into emotional moments you’ve long forgotten.

With that said, I want my best friend to know – this isn’t a memoir! But the connection she and I had… have, is deep and emotional sometimes. And I think I captured that relationship in this book with my two main characters.

The final push of my novel writing came from a great group of friends who’ve been working to encourage each other to write “one page a day” for the month of August. I wrote my one page faithfully almost every day and it helped me finish this book once and for all. It’s amazing how a little push and encouragement can get you moving. Thanks ladies.

Anyway, after I sobbed for a bit (which I started as I wrote the last 200 words or so and made those last words very difficult to write…), I proclaimed my accomplishment to the world via Facebook. Then I texted one friend and told her we were having lunch together as celebration and another friend to tell her we’d celebrate this weekend. Then I emailed my hubby to share the news with him.

On Facebook, I got the much needed congratulatory responses. My friend hugged me fiercely when we met up for lunch and my other friend texted me with all caps and exclamation points. My husband? “So glad to hear you were able to wrap up your YA in a satisfactory manner.”

Humph. Must have caught him after he’d just written a very strict and professional business email. But I’m sure he’ll celebrate with me later… or else.

In any event, I spent the remainder of my day immersed with some writer friends who understand me completely (after I took a shower, while still sobbing, and cut my leg while shaving). I laughed at my friend’s stories without my own story looming at the back of my thoughts. I could truly just… be and enjoy the moment without that constant nagging in my head, “finish your novel, finish your novel, finish your novel…”

Then, I splurged on a peach-flavored fruit smoothie (YUM) and wrote this blog. Later, I plan on sharing some bubbly with the hubs (or with myself if he’s uncooperative).


Yummy Peach Smoothie at The Well Coffeehouse

I can’t explain to anyone who’s never written something of this length how wonderful this feels. I wouldn’t have understood it before this myself. I was astonished when I cried and even felt a little foolish, but another writer friend told me she always cries when she completes a novel.

Always? That gives me pause. Do I want to complete another one?


Anyway, I know I have a long way to go until this novel is actually “finished” – I have to get some editing done, you know. But it’s compiled and formatted enough right now for my beta readers. I can’t wait (I think) to get their feedback, even though I know it’ll mean more changes. It’s a process I’m ready for despite the possible discontentment it might bring. For now, I’m basking in the glow of the semi-finished product and celebrating my tiny achievement. (And will wait a day or so before sending it off to be critiqued.)

Next, it’s time to work on the Bible study book I’ve also been working on. I hope it doesn’t take two more years of my life, but I know, no matter how long it takes, I’ll cry when it’s done, too.


Oh, That Old Blog

Life and Happiness, Uncategorized, Writing

I met a new writing friend the other day and we starting talking about our blogs. She asked me why I started and I had to really think back on it. I’d originally, in 2011, starting writing a blog called “The Rural Spoon and Dish.” The concept was about reviewing small town eateries – kind of like the Urban Spoon, but from the rural perspective. I had a few followers, and only wrote about ten blogs in this vein.

Soon, God started to creep into my blogs and then the frustrations of my life and eventually, my writing “career.” The blog evolved and so did I. So, I changed it to “Fair Maiden’s Journey” (feel free to check it out as it’s still on the web, but don’t follow it or judge me on the content there…) My last name begins with “Fair” and a friend wrote me a poem for my wedding calling me a Fair Maiden so I went with it.


Anyway, I went back to that blog site the other day and realized there have been a few good posts along the way. I can see my evolution in those posts and can see how I’ve arrived at this spot now in my life. (By the way – this one – about my 10 favorite things… still holds true.)

As I look back on those posts I see scribblings about finding joy, watching my weight, feeling loss of friends and family and even some decisions I had to make. You see, that’s why I changed this blog to “Sue’s Simple Snippets” – they are snippets of my life. The everything that makes me… me.


We all struggle. We all search for our way in life. We all want to be heard in some way. This is my way. And I’m so glad you’re listening (most of the time.) For those who’ve been with me from the beginning – thank you. For new folks – thank you, too and welcome.

I’m going to try and find a way to move all those posts to this blog soon so they can be read more easily. I had thought previously that most of them were junk… but after reading some today, I realize they are still me… still part of me and I don’t want to lose them. I’m proud of my evolution and excited to keep going.

God bless and have a great Friday!

5 Tips for Starting a Writing Critique Group


As some of you know, I belong to an awesome writing critique group. So often, our group is asked about how we started and what makes ours so special. I wasn’t around when it was founded back in 1980 by our beloved Eileen Berger (See our website for all the details.), but I’m grateful to be part of it now and hope I can shed some light for any of you who would like to start your own group.

  1. Find A Space – Since our group is Christian, we meet in local churches. We have members who provide the space for us, but you could ask local churches if they have space. Libraries often will have a small space for cheap or no cost. In addition, I know some groups who meet at places like Panera Bread or other local cafes. If you meet in places like that, be sure to patronize the business and buy lunch or some drinks to pay for your space. Members’ homes could be an option, too, but some new people who don’t know you may not like to come to a stranger’s home. Whatever space you use, be sure to be respectful and put the space back together as it was before you arrived.
  2. Put Together Guidelines – Is there any kind of literature you don’t wish to critique? Again, our group is Christian so we do not allow any foul language or explicit sexual material. Otherwise, anything goes for our group. You may wish to be solely a poetry group or only fiction, make sure you specify in order to find the right members for your particular group. In addition, we (and most others I know) define how many pages or words can be brought to the critique session. This limits the time spent on any one piece and gives everyone a chance for their work to be read. You can check out all our guidelines here.
  3. Decide The Structure of Your Group – Our group does not give each other their pieces beforehand. We each bring multiple copies of our piece to the meeting and then each writer gets a turn to have their piece read out loud. The writer never reads their own piece. This gives the writer a chance to hear their piece as it’s written (you’d be surprised how many mistakes are found this way!) After the piece is read, each member will mark their copy with grammar, punctuation or word choice issues and then a short discussion will ensue, asking the writing what was meant or what they intended. We also discuss where the piece is going to be submitted. Suggestions are given. When all the discussion has ended, the pieces, with their marks, are given back to the writer so they can make changes as they see fit once they return home.                   Some groups distribute the pieces for critique beforehand and members come to group with the already marked up piece. While this seems like it might be also a worthwhile idea, I prefer doing it at the meeting. This way I can directly ask the writer what was intended and the piece is seen organically and without too much overthinking on my part. Check out how other groups structure their meetings and decide what you think will work best for your group.
  4. Find Members – This seems pretty obvious, right? Well, we’ve had many writers come to us and say, “We can’t find a group!” or “I’ve been searching forever!” If you have a group, but no one is coming, maybe you need to advertise. Get your social media presence going, start a website and post on Facebook about your meeting dates and times. Check with local libraries to see if anyone has inquired about writing groups and leave flyers for future interest. Also, seek out English professors or teachers who could give credibility to your meetings and draw in potential members. If you don’t have any English majors in your group, invest in style manuals and dictionaries for your group to use in order to make sure proper writing technique is being utilized. Advertise in local colleges and schools, ask your kids’ teachers, or ask local radio stations or newspapers for a free plug (as a service to the community sort of thing.)
  5. Hold Your First Meeting – If you are the founding member of your group, you will be expected to lead. If this intimidates you, find a partner or friend who can assist you. Leading could mean that you start with prayer, or you keep track of the time. Which brings up another good point: Start on time and don’t waste time. Make the best use of every person’s time so that they will want to come again and continue to partake in the group activities. Remember to keep to your guidelines, be constructive (not mean or condescending) in your critique and have fun!

In the end, if you’ve been successful in starting your own group,  you will find these new people an invaluable part of your writing career. Our group has had many writing successes and we have several published authors among us. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and pray for each other during down times. My group has been not only encouraged me, but has also improved my writing and my confidence.

Good luck in your writing endeavors!

Mini Post Monday

Life and Happiness

Finding Love

Last week, a friend of mine got engaged. It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen in awhile (via Facebook since he lives in Texas!) – he thought it out so lovingly. It’ll be his second wedding, but, I think, his first real marriage. It made me think back to when John and I were dating. We’d both been hurt pretty badly previously and it’s sometimes hard to overcome those hurts in a new relationship. But sometimes it helps to point you in the right direction. I know it did for me and my hubby, I hope it will for my friend, too. My hubs recently started doctorate schooling. It was a big step and one that we agonized over. Would our marriage hold fast? Would we be able to still connect despite the hours of studying he’d need to do? Guess what? He actually needs my help with his papers! I edit for him and it’s caused us to actually grow a little closer together. Isn’t it amazing what God can do? I know he’ll do it for my friend and his new wife, too. I’m praying for them every day.

Finding Inspiration

If you read my last post, you know I’ve been struggling a bit with writing. Sometimes it just happens, I guess. I have a lot of writer friends and they all go through these seasons, but it’s hard to be with those other writing friends when your own words just won’t flow. I’m so frustrated about my work in progress that it’s causing me some anxiety, but my friends have been so supportive and haven’t chided me for not writing or scolded me to “just do it.” I appreciate their love and support. One friend, whom I admire in her writing skills, took a long break off from writing a novel she’d been working on NON-STOP for the last several years. She finally came back to it and is just about to finish it. She gives me hope that I, too, will find that muse again soon. I’m off to another writing conference this week so I hope that the infusion of creative people around me will inspire me to keep writing. Prayers appreciated.

Finding Time for Me

I realized recently that I give a lot of time to others, but can’t seem to have any time for myself. Most days I don’t even take out my Bible to connect with the Lord. I think it’s one of the reasons I’m stuck on my novel. I simply don’t let my mind rest enough to create. In the process, I’m always thinking about editing someone else’s stuff, making dinner, taking out the dog, cleaning the house, returning that email or meeting up a friend who wants to chat for lunch. I like doing all those things, but when I sit down to write I get crickets! Chirp CHIRP! I’m too focused on my to-do list than my creative list. I’ve taken a bit more time to simply BE with myself (phone turned off) and I’m enjoying runs and walks in the morning with some Christian music every day. I pray that as I reconnect to myself, I’ll find that inner inspiration to finish my novel. I’m not far from the end… and I think it’s a good work… I just need that boost to finish it!

This week, I hope you find whatever it is you’re searching for. May God be a blessing onto your life and may you seek Him in all things.


When I envisioned being a writer, I never envisioned this.

Fears, Life and Happiness, Writing

I’ve been struggling to finish my Young Adult fiction novel. I think about it constantly, but its not where it should be and my creativity is stifled when I consider how much I need to change. I seriously don’t even know where to start.

Writing conferences are terrific for meeting new people, connecting with people that think like you and even for learning, but… it can also sometimes put the brakes on your work. I listened to advice about proposals, character arc, the three act story… and I thought, “I have none of that! My story’s a mess!” It only served to continue my writer’s block.

So yesterday I found a good, simple explanation of the three act story (thank you Pinterest!) and jotted down a bunch of notes. Again, I was overwhelmed. So I put it aside again for a bit. Today, or tomorrow, I’ll sit down with the notes and my YA in hand to see how I can structure it better. I’m afraid of the outcome.

You see… as I begin to understand my own story better I made a huge realization. My character started out as a nerd, someone who didn’t fit in…and she doesn’t. But I figured out that it’s not because she’s a nerd. She’s judgmental. She claims not to be and loves her best friend “unconditionally”… except she’s trying to change her in almost every scene.

So. She has to change. I want her to realize her flaw and work to fix it. God and her faith will be involved. Somehow. Someway.

Here’s the rub… I wrote this character as a reflection of myself when I was younger. She isn’t exactly like me, but I’ve promoted (or talked about to my friends) this book for awhile now and I’ve said, “It’s based loosely on my childhood with me and my best friend as the main characters.” Yep. That’s right. Except, by writing it out, I just realized how judgy I used to be. It hurts. It’s like God used my own words to shine a light back on me… a mirror almost.

Wanna know the best part? I asked Him to do it! *smack my head* When I started writing, I knew He had some kind of plan so I asked Him to guide my work. In addition, over the last several months, I’ve been asking God to show me how He sees me. I’ve asked Him to remove bitterness from my heart. I’ve asked Him to give me compassion. I’ve asked Him to show me how to love myself.

And He’s doing it with this novel. But… you know when you have to learn those lessons from God and… you kind of don’t want to? They might hurt a bit. You know, that whole, change thing? Yeah. He doesn’t just want me to experience it… He wants me to WRITE IT. He wants me to write my own lesson.

Ugh. When I envisioned being a writer, I never envisioned this.

But… I asked for it, so here I go. Wish me luck… no better yet, pray for me.

Pushing My Creative Limits

Life and Happiness, Writing

Recently, I’ve been judging writing contests for an online group called Ink & Insights. At first, I was concerned it would take up too much of my valuable editing and writing time, but as I do more and more of them, I realized two things.


The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio by Sam Howzit (Flickr)

  1. Reading a variety of novels has helped me as a writer and an editor. As I read through each selection, I have to read it as a reader – not an editor. That is sometimes hard for me. What’s worse, these are words that have not yet been completely edited and, sometimes, NEED my editing skills. (In fact, I may have already picked up a new client thanks to this work.) But when I read as a reader, I can get into the story, pick up the nuances and appreciate each writer’s unique style. It doesn’t have to be my style – I can appreciate them for their style alone. It also has shown me that even with editing issues, a story can still shine.
  2. Reading a variety of novels has increased my worldview. This is so important. Typically, in my editing work, I deal mostly with Christian works. On rare occasions, I get the chance to edit something secular. I rarely read Christian works in my spare time, but are almost always secular fiction (Dystopian is currently my favorite genre.). But judging so many different types of work has broadened my worldview even more. I am learning dialects and views of people in different countries. (Be sure though, my Christianity is still intact. I do not read works that encourage practices that are far out of line with God’s word. It is equally important to align yourself always with God first.)

As I continue this work, I’m encouraged by the amount of writers out there – many of them who are very decent writers, too. This work has also stimulated me to step out of my comfort zone in my writing as well. I’ve written much more since starting with Ink & Insights. I think it’s because I see that even a rough piece of work can have potential.


So this week, as I try to put more words down on paper, I’m hoping to take what I’ve learned from these other writers and put it into practice. One that I know I need practice with? Getting words down on paper. They can’t help, encourage, inspire, or stimulate someone else if I don’t write them first.

How about you? What are your goals this week? Do you find ways to stretch yourself and seek out new ways to learn your craft? If so, what works for you?