Tag Archives: Dancing With Bear Publishing

Writer Wednesdays – Mary L. Bell

Today, Writing Wicket interviews Mary L. Bell. Mary is a multi-published Christian author. She lives in North Carolina and enjoys fishing, reading, and ministering in song with her hubby at functions. Her books are about small-town romance, suspense, and mystery, influenced by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Mary Ball

I asked Mary:

Q. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Through talking with new writers, I think one problem is they believe they have to pay a boutique or vanity publisher to become a published author. That is not the case; many traditional publishers are small and accept queries. Nine years ago, I started the publishing journey and queried about fifty smaller publishers before I was offered a contract with Prism Book Group (now part of Pelican Book Group.)

Q. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Yes. Thanks to Google and Bing, writers can find information about any subject. Goggling a phrase like, “What does a sad person feel?” would give lots feedback to help a writer capture the emotion of a scene.

Q. Do you want each of your books to stand on its own (if you’re writing more than one, that is), or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I like each book to stand alone. In my Celestial Investigation series, the sisters have a part in each story but the series reads fine without the other books.

Q. What book(s) have you written?

Publisher: Pelican Book Group

Escape to Big Fork Lake

Redemption in Big Fork Lake

Sparks of Love

A Love Valley Christmas

Publisher: Forget Me Not Romance (A Division of Winged Publications)

Thanksgiving Secret

Rose Colored Christmas

Sunny’s Dream

Luna’s Treasure

Starr’s Promise

Publisher: Life Inspiring Books

Christmas at Angel Ranch

Postmarked Ever After

Moments with God’s Word

An Angel’s Burden (Co-written with Blake Leonard)

The most recent release is Asheville Hearts, published by Dancing with Bear Christian Publishing

Q. What are you working on now?

Awaken the Past is a novella, which is part of Forget Me Not heroine in danger suspense set to release before summer. My work-in-progress titled A Special Christmas is part of the Romancing the Christmas Angel boxed set for the holiday.

For more information on Mary, check out her blog and other links:

Face Book-https://www.facebook.com/gracefulbooks

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Mary-L-Ball/e/B007O97Y0E

Website/blog- http://www.marylball.com

Twitter- https://twitter.com/inspires4mary

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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Writer Wednesdays – Rhonda Eichman

Writing Wicket welcomes Rhonda Eichman.

Rhonda is a lifetime resident of Kansas and received her education at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City. She offers an authentic view of life on the Kansas prairie where she lives.  As a history buff, she can relate with unique historical culture to create fiction that is entertaining and features life’s lessons through her characters’ actions. She is the author of articles in Kansas Country Magazine and several technical materials and grants. She lives with her husband, Ray, in Seward County, Kansas.

I asked Rhonda:

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? 

My first book, Bargain On The Prairie, lost 5,000 words during edits.

Q: What motivates you (either in writing or otherwise)?

A desire to leave what I know for others to read and understand.

Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?

They’re actually never finished, and I have to keep going with the next book or sequel.

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Oh yes, Christian Fiction as a category.  After I started reading Christian Fiction, I can’t go back to regular fiction. It feels flat, missing something.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

Researching each detail about the historical period I’m writing in to make sure the places, the goods and services, and character actions are correct for the period.

Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The Eagle

Q: Do you ever have trouble coming up with titles for your books?

Yes, the hardest part ever.

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I read them and try to reflect on what I can do better.

Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, characters’ actions and thoughts that only a reader of Christian faith will get.

Q: What was the hardest scene you’ve ever written?

When one of my characters has a miscarriage.  I cried.

Q: Have you set goals?

Yes, when my next book will be finished.  Horsethief Canyon will be done in March or April, 2019.

Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Hurts. You must be able to take criticism and make corrections to move forward and be a better writer.

Q: Do you Google yourself?

Yes, I do have a larger profile now that my first book is out.

Q: When you were growing up, did you ever expect to be a writer?

Always, that was my goal.

Q: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Housework! Lots of laughs. I often put off tasks I should do so I can write. I take on-line seminars to improve and try to connect with other authors, so I don’t feel isolated and give up.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

Oh yes, when I can make myself cry, I’m finally there.

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Stop and write everyday, work always waits on you.

Q: Is there a genre you wish you could write that you can’t?

Hot Romance!

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Six to eight months.

Q: What books have you self-published?

None, I am a traditionally published author with my first book, Bargain On The Prairie, released 9-24-18

Check out Rhonda on social media:



Wix Website:




facebook author page:





C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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Writer Wednesdays – Bill Thomas

Today, I interview Bill Thomas.

Bill lives in Washington, Missouri, and is on staff at First Christian Church there. He’s been in ministry for over twenty-five years. He is also an adjunct instructor in history, Bible, and education for St. Louis Christian College and Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, MO.  He’s authored two novellas, From the Ashes and The Sixty-first Minute published by White Feather Press of MI and three Bible studies, Surrounded by Grace,The Critical Questions and More and The Road to Victory published by CSS Publishing of OH. He co-wrote Give God and Me a Chance with Laney Jeans from Hear My Heart Publishing and wrote a YA book, The Adventurers: The Store Robbery published by DWB Children’s Line, to be released in the spring of 2019.

I asked Bill:

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The first book I wrote that was published was a Christian book. When I first started writing, I felt like it was an extension of my ministry and I’ve tried to view it that way ever since. Like with anyone who writes, I’d like to write a best seller. That’s not been the case, but I do think some of what I’ve written has helped people in their walk with the Lord.

Q: Do you Google yourself?

I am a bit embarrassed to say that I do. There is something cool, I think, about seeing your name in the search engine by the work that you’ve done.

Q: Which means more to you in your writing career: fame or fortune?

I’d like both 😊. Seriously, I don’t know that either is all that important, at least for me. I will try to keep writing to encourage others and improve as much as I can.

Q: How do you know a story/book is finished?

I usually see a story in my head and try to outline it. I try to write what I see. Sometimes, in the process of writing, the story changes. The events turn out differently than what I’d outlined at the beginning. I usually hope to end the story with the reader wanting to have more.

Q: Does your family support your writing?

I’m single, so there isn’t an immediate family, but my family (at large) and church family are encouraging.

Q: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I think it would have been helpful if I’d taken a few classes in creative writing and been a bit bolder in writing when I was younger. I lacked confidence in what I was doing.

Q: Is there a genre you wish you could write that you can’t?

I write in different genres over the years. I suppose I’ve tried many of them. I like the variety of writing it affords. I’ve done some Christian novellas, a YA book, three Bible studies, a couple of plays (Christmas), and helped with a non-fiction biography. I’ve also written for three political websites and written devotions for both online publications and magazines. I think I’ve tried to write in several different ones, but one that I haven’t done that would be interesting, I think, is Science Fiction. I suspect that will remain a “wish,” however. I don’t think I have a good feel for that and how it might connect with faith.

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I would say between six months and a year, depending on the length and the type of book.

Q: How does your life unfold in a normal writing day?

I work at the church and college, so rarely do I get to dedicate a day to writing. For me, writing comes in spurts. Sometimes it flows easily and other times it doesn’t. While working on a project, I try to write some everyday.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

No, I don’t think so. I’ve reread emotional scenes I’ve written and felt that, but as far as tears, no.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes. For me, it isn’t so much a lack of story, but more a lack of how to get it down in the best way. That can be challenging and frustrating at times.

Q: What genre do you favour?

I don’t know if I have a favorite. I enjoy the various kinds of writing I get to do.

Q: Is writing your full time job? If not, what is?

No. I am a minister and Bible college instructor.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

I haven’t done any historical fiction, but I have read it quite a bit. In my mind, the writer must be true to the actual character of whom he/she is writing. Abraham Lincoln, in your story, has to act consistent with the real character of Abraham Lincoln.

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them. I don’t know that I’ve had a ton of them. Most of them have been good and a few have been not quite as good. I take that the same way I take feedback on sermons or lessons. I think you have to not dwell too long on either the good or the bad. Take it for what it is. Learn from it and move on.

Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

In my fiction stories, I like for there to be a bit of a mystery, so there’s that. I don’t know if they are secrets, per se. I do like to have clues that lead up to a reveal later.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write?

I’d say the scenes in the kids’ book I’m working on that involve a character that has special needs has been the most challenging. I want to do it in a way that is realistic and doesn’t “gloss over” or “mock” the character.

Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I suppose one has to have some ego to put himself/herself out there in writing to be read by and discussed by others. I think that kind of ego is important. You have to have the confidence to do that. At the same time, there is always someone (or many someones) better than you, so don’t get too big.

Q: Have you set goals?

I have goals for when doing a writing project but not necessarily for what projects are next.

Thank you, Bill, for this interview!


C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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Writer Wednesdays – Drew Lankford

Today, I interview Drew Lankford.

Drew at Pa Bunks 2 (2)

Drew lives in Murfreesboro, TN, with his three beautiful children and sometimes beautiful cat. He has published four books of poetry: For You, Limitless, Lollipops, and Fluffy Socks. He has also published widely in journals such as Skive, 34th Parallel, and Living with Loss.  Unclear of its tone or direction, he is currently hard at work on his fifth collection of poetry.  Most of his encouragement as a writer comes from his friends at the writing workshop that meets weekly at the local library. Besides writing, Drew loves listening to music, going on long walks, and playing with his children in the backyard.

Q.  How long do you write daily?

I write between 2-3 hours daily depending on how well things are going. If the writing gets tense and seems to be going nowhere, I go for a long walk.

Q.  What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is graduating from Austin Peay State University with an MA in English Creative Writing. That was tough study, and I’m proud to have made it through.

Q.  What is your major emphasis now?

Right now, I’m working on writing. Besides caring for my children, it’s all about writing. Nothing will get written on its own.

Q.  What are you currently reading?

I am reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Her writing looks so simple it’s amazing. She’s one of the best, ever. Besides Austin, I’ve started re-reading some of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Q.  What is your favorite book?

I’ve got to go with two here: The Call of the Wild and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Q.  Which contemporary authors are you reading now?

Billy Collins is one of the coolest authors we have with us today. His imagination is incredible. Also, I enjoy reading the playful and lighthearted M.C. Beaton mystery books.

Q.  What are your goals?

One goal is to have ten collections of poetry finished by the time I’m fifty. That sounds like a good number to me. Also, I’d like to try writing something off the grid: a collection of essays, humorous tales from the classroom, things like that.

Q.  What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working hard on the fifth collection of poetry. If it makes sense, the collection is lifting off a bit–its shiny head in the wind–and I want to keep it down, but I know I can’t restrain it. I’ve got to let go and see where it leads. That’s what I’m working on.

Q. What do you hope to get from writing?

I always want to learn more about myself and others. I love to see how far we’ve come and the possibilities of the future.

Q.  If you could tell your younger self something about writing what would it be?

I would tell my younger self that writing is like life. There are unpleasant times and there are pleasurable times, and the trick to the whole thing is to stay at it, no matter what.

Q.  What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was a child I wanted to be a Major League baseball player. I made it to high school, not bad, considering.

Q.  What do you do for a full time job?

At this time, I’m between jobs and that gives me time to write. Trust me, I’m taking advantage of the time.

Q.  What are your feelings about ethics used in writing about historical figures?

Accurate history must be based in truth or it becomes fiction. If the author is honest and tells us if his or her work is based in fact or fantasy, that would ease much tension.

Q.  Where can we find your work?


or through any normal online locations.


C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].



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Writer Wednesdays – Marie McGaha

This week, Writing Wicket interviews Marie McGaha.

Marie is an ordained minister, addictions counselor,  author, and editor. In real life, she’s a wife, mother, and Nana who loves being in the mountains. She and her husband, Nathan, are members of The Patriot Guard Riders and supporters of Neptune Warriors.

NatenRieAnniversary (2)

I asked Marie:

Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?

I’m not what you would call trendy. Most of what I write is Christian-oriented, and I write what I feel God puts on my heart to help others.

Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

(I seriously don’t know how to answer that.)

Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Most of what I have written over the past several years has been about my own life experiences related to the 30+ years I have in ministry. As far as writing fiction, my characters aren’t necessarily based on real people, but are a conglomeration of people I’ve known.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?


Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Making authors pay to be published.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

Other people’s books! The life of an editor means I spend more time getting other people’s work ready to be published than I do my own. But I do have books coming out next year. First, the sequel to Shine His Light Lessons In Life, titled Shine His Light 2 Directions In Life, and Christy Diachenko is currently working on the voice over for Shine His Light Lessons In Life, which will be out on Audible next spring.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?

A teacher. I actually went to college with the idea of being an English major, so I could teach high school English.

Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

For me it is. Much of what I write is based on my ministerial practice and experience, and biblically based.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

Trying to give them a personality that is likable, yet flawed and real without them seeming too arrogant. I have the greatest husband and I use a lot of him in my male characters, and I also use my sons’ attributes and flaws to round out the characters. None of the male characters are just one man in my life, but a mix of the good men I love.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

The rewrites. I want to do it perfectly the first time so I don’t have to go through a long editing process, but so far, I haven’t hit perfection!

Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?

When I finally hold that book in my hand and know I’ve actually completed something I started.

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

That would be another thing I dislike about writing—there’s never enough hours to write as much as I want. Life keeps interfering and I have to tend to things like cleaning house, cooking, letting dogs in and out and in and out… plus, I have to edit other people’s manuscripts, plus all of the promotions I do, as well as the time required for my ministry, and then there’s grandkids…. I need more hours in the day!

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

When I first decided to be a published author it was because I wanted to be remembered for something, but as I’ve gotten older, that’s been tempered with the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. There are so many hurting people out there, and if any of my life experiences can help, then I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.

Q: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I was sexually abused by two uncles from the age of 3 until I was about 11, and that of course, has had a lifelong affect on who I am and how I’ve lived. Coming to terms with that type of abuse isn’t easy, and learning to forgive an abuser is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. So, that period of life and the after effects play a huge role in what I write.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?

Out of someone else’s book or my own? I’ve edited chapters out of other people’s books, but I’ve tossed entire manuscripts of my own. I’ve read them and thought, wow, that’s crap and started over from scratch. I always put my work away for at least a month before re-reading it. It gives me distance and the ability to read it without my mind seeing what should be there and really isn’t. That way I am more objective and can see my errors.

Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?

Other people. Through the years of counseling, working with probation and parole, and being a minister, I’ve met countless people in every walk of life and I’ve found that there is much more that binds us together than what separates us. One of the things I’ve remained involved with is prison ministry, although it’s gotten much easier with the internet. The federal prison system has an email service for inmates, and I correspond with prisoners all over the country. I send them daily devotionals, and we have a weekly group called Free To Live that covers subjects like addiction and anger management.

Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?

Yes. My favorite story by me is Cross The Line. It’s set just after the Civil War and involves a former Southern belle with a former slave. I love the story, the dynamics between the characters, and their relationship. I was so sad when their story ended.

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Not really. Fiction is like our dreams, anything can happen and it makes perfect sense.

Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I would have to say a bear… I own Dancing With Bear Publishing that is named in honor of my late husband, J. Bear Marler. So, if there is such a thing, my spirit animal is the bear.

Q: What books have you published?


Cross The Line

One Good Man



Comfort & Joy book one: forgiveness

When God Talks, It’s Time To Listen

The Root, The Shoot, The Fruit

Shine His Light Lessons In Life

Fictionalized Non-fiction:

Freedom Worth Dying For


For more information on Marie:













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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].


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The Spot Writers – We Mourn

     Robert (Bob) Bonitz, the founding member of The Spot Writers, passed away on September 19.
Bob Bonitz
     He dropped out of the group last year, but we’ve managed to slog along without him.
     Bob and I had corresponded often re writing issues. We connected years ago via Rebel Ink Press and Dancing With Bear Publishing, and we were also Facebook friends. Bob had novels published with both publishing companies, while I had a novella and short stories.
     The Spot Writers is an online group of four. We each write to a specific prompt once a month and post our individual stories every Thursday. Val Muller and I are still with the group and have been since its inception in 2011. She and I have managed to keep the group going despite having to frequently recruit new members to keep the group at four. We have missed Bob during his absence.
     Such lame, mundane words, but rest in peace, Bob. We won’t forget you.
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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Review of my short story, “Doorbells and December”

This year’s Dancing With Bear Publishing’s Christmas anthology, titled Gingersnaps and Candy Canes, is available as a print book for $8.99 through Create Space at: https://www.createspace.com/4543075#!  The anthology consists of 12 stories by ­­­­9 authors, of which I am one.


Gingersnaps & Candy Canes

My story, “Doorbells and December,” was written in two parts. Part 1 was published in last year’s Christmas anthology. I purposely ended the story abruptly and left the ending to the reader’s imagination. I continued the story for this year’s anthology.  Parts 1 and 2 are published in the 2013 anthology. (Don’t forget to check the Dancing With Bear website in December 2014. Perhaps there will be another installment of this story.)

Excerpt from my  story, DOORBELLS AND DECEMBER:

Corinne knew her daughter wasn’t coming home—ever. The police had said the first seventy-two hours were the most crucial and without those vital leads at the start, there wasn’t much hope. They said she had likely run off to one of the bigger cities where she made her home on the streets, got high on drugs, and delved into prostitution.

“There’s a slim chance she might be alive,” they told her after numerous weeks of investigation. “If she hasn’t overdosed or been killed.”

Corinne listened to the words they didn’t say. She knew in her heart her daughter wouldn’t be coming home, as hard as it was to admit it.

The knock grew louder. Then the doorbell blasted its soulful tune.

Corinne jumped at the sound of the doorbell. She hated that sound. The doorbell had brought the news of her husband’s death. December had brought her daughter’s disappearance. Doorbells and December—two hated words in her vocabulary. If it weren’t for Kevin, she wouldn’t even celebrate Christmas.

The insistent doorbell blared again. She glanced at her grandson. Kevin, her one constant, her main purpose for living, stood in front of her. Henry was gone from her life—dead and buried. Her only daughter, dead or alive, was missing, and only God knew the whereabouts. She didn’t have anything to lose by answering the door, but she did have everything to gain. She opened the door.


Review of my story by Melissa Snark:

This review is written specifically for Catherine A. MacKenzie’s short story, DOORBELLS AND DECEMBER, which is a contemporary suspense thriller set during the Christmas holiday season. The writing is smooth and practiced, editing is solid, and characterization is good, but there were sections where the pacing felt a bit rough. This was certainly not my usual Christmas reading fare. I tend to prefer stories with gooey centers that give warm fuzzies. The subject material of this tale disturbed me, as it was meant to, so the author is successful in accomplishing her goal.

Corinne is grandmother to six-year-old Kevin. She has experienced loss and sorrow in December. First when her husband was killed in an auto accident, and later when her daughter, Miranda, disappeared under mysterious circumstances immediately following Kevin’s birth. Corinne and Kevin are left wondering about Miranda’s fate. Unknown to either, Miranda was kidnapped by a man and held hostage for those absent years. The story picks up with Miranda’s suspenseful escape, which is where the pacing of the plot really picks up.

So far as short stories go, DOORBELLS AND DECEMBER delivers a tale of uncertainty and fear that will involve the reader in the fates of these three characters. It left me unsettled. I liked the story and found the writing to be seamless, but I really wanted more than the ending delivered in terms of a joyous reunion between this distressed little family. However, the potential for a HEA-ending is there.


The stories and authors:

Gingersnaps and Candy Canes – Susan Sundwall

The Quiet Please Lady – Christine Collier

Did You Hear That? – Bobbie Shafer

The Inkwell – Christine Collier

Doorbells and December – Catherine A. MacKenzie

A Loyal Noel – Cyndi Lord

The Mitten Man – Mary C. Ryan

Christmas Pizza – Christine Collier

The Train – Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Departure on Black Friday – Christine Collier

The Messenger – Michael Ritt

The Christmas Tea – Marion Tickner

Adventures in the Aisles – Debbie Roppolo

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