SPEEDBO Update & New Resource for Writers

Life sure gets crazy, doesn't it? I was all set to charge into SPEEDBO and hammer out a novel during the month of March. Then we had to take my brother to Urgent Care with terrible stomach/back pains. From there we rushed him to the Emergency Room and he's been there for 15 days, now. He has acute pancreatitis.

I've been spending about 10 hours a day at the hospital with him. Haven't been able to work very much on my novel, because I don't want the clickety-clack of the keyboard to wake him when he's trying to get some rest and I want to be available for him when he's awake. I have gotten a few thousand words written in the hospital cafeteria during lunch, but that's all.

The novel is set in Emberwood Hall - here's a picture of my imaginary setting...

Don't you just love it?
 I'm enjoying the story concept, but really need some time alone to hash it all out in my mind.


On another note - this morning I discovered an new resource for writers, thanks to a great article on writing fiction by Julie Lessman on Seekerville.  It's OneLook's Reverse Dictionary.

OneLook's reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word. You'll get back a list of related terms with the best matches shown first.
I typed in the word "desire" (since that's the running theme in romance novels) and got back 100 terms that you could use in your writing to convey that theme. How cool is that? You know, we're always searching for just the right word or for new words that help us communicate with our readers without being repetitive, so check out OneLook's Reverse Dictionary the next time you're stuck for the perfect word to use.

And while you're on the OneLook site, check out all the ways you can search...

Example searches

bluebird Find definitions of bluebird
blue* Find words and phrases that start with blue
*bird Find words and phrases that end with bird
bl????rd Find words that start with bl, end with rd, and have 4 letters in between
bl*:snow Find words that start with bl and have a meaning related to snow
*:snow or :snow Find any words related to snow
*:winter sport Find words related to the concept winter sport
**winter** Find phrases that contain the word winter
expand:nasa Find phrases that spell out n.a.s.a.
Okay, I know your writer mind is going into spasms about right now with all the possibilities, so don't worry, I won't be offended if you run off to play at OneLook. In fact, I will probably be there exploring, too. Maybe we'll run into each other.

Happy Writing!

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Guest Author, Kelly Martin

I'm so pleased to be able to introduce you to a good friend and author, Kelly Martin. I "met" Kelly through this wonderful thing called the internet when I came across her Encourage 365 blog. We hit it off right away and now, we're celebrating the debut of her second novel, Saint Sloan.. I'll let Kelly tell you all about it...
Author, Kelly Martin

I want to thank Jan for having me here! I haven’t been a ‘writer’ long (or a published author long), but Jan has been a very big driving force in my writing life. She has encouraged me when I couldn’t encourage myself. SO thank you so much, Jan! I couldn’t have done this without you!

I wanted to give you guys a sneak peek at SAINT SLOAN, my new YA/Christian/Inspirational thriller out now from Astraea Press. In it, Sloan Bridges just wants her 18th birthday to be perfect… her attacker had different ideas.

Chapter One
The cold November air burned Sloan’s lungs as she ran
down the secluded dirt driveway. Looking over her shoulder at the brightly lit farmhouse swarming with people, she wished she had grabbed her coat from the living room before escaping. Her legs protested with each additional step she forced them to take, and quite frankly, she felt like an idiot. In four days, she would be
eighteen, an adult; why should she care what others thought of
her? Or, more specifically, what Darcy Perry thought of her?

After nearly a quarter of a mile, the driveway sloped down
at a steep angle and met Brown Hollow Road. Sloan stopped at the bottom, doubled over, and put her hands on her knees to catch her breath. The harder her lungs extended, the sillier she felt for running away like that. Sure, Darcy was mean, exceptionally so when she drank, but Sloan shouldn’t have let her words hurt her like they did. And that’s all they were, words. Words and cold beer thrown in her face. She ran her fingers through her damp hair and wondered how she would explain it to her mother.

When her breathing came easier, she stood up and looked back toward the house. From her vantage point behind the short hill, she could see all of the lights burning in the second story windows and hear the music blasting throughout the isolated farmland. The glow from the floodlights surrounding the house made it appear to float in the sky. No doubt about it, Boyd knew how to throw a party. Sloan couldn’t help feeling a little satisfied thinking of how Mr. Lawrence, Boyd’s father, would react when he found out his biology students were getting drunk at his house without his knowledge.

She leaned on the standard--‐‑issue black mailbox and frowned. It wouldn’t be fun to walk all the way back to get her coat and beg Mackenzie to take her home. Everyone would stare at her, mock her, and call her ‘Saint Sloan’, Darcy’s pet name for her. The thought of Darcy’s smug face rising inevitably from Boyd’s muscular neck made Sloan’s stomach knot harder, and she slumped farther down against the mailbox, causing the metal to creak. Sometimes Sloan wondered why she ever went anywhere.
She didn’t drink, do drugs, or make fun of others, and she wasn’t into sleeping around anymore. She was the “reformed bad girl,” and everyone loved to taunt her about it, especially her former best friend, Darcy.

Blinding lights coming toward her right side caught her attention. Turning toward them, she put her hand over her eyes to block the brightness of the passing car. Instead of speeding by, the car slowed down and stopped across the yellow line from her. Goose bumps, not from the cold, formed under her long sleeves. Meeting a strange person in a strange car at night in the middle of an old country road didn’t appeal to her. Bloody flashes from every horror movie she’d ever watched swarmed in her mind.
Suddenly, being made fun of and harassed at the party didn’t seem so bad. She wished she had been able to control her temper better and never have run out of that house. Nervous, she grabbed the little golden cross that had fallen under her dark teal shirt collar and prayed whoever was in the car wasn’t a homicidal manic.

The driver’s side window rolled down, and Sloan squinted through the dark to see inside. “You okay?” an unfamiliar male voice said. Whoever it was didn’t sound much older than her.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She rocked on the balls of her feet so she could be ready to run if the situation escalated beyond friendly chatter. “Just out for a walk.”

“In the dark?”

“Seemed like a good idea at the time,” she said truthfully.

Sloan heard a hint of laughter coming from the car. At least, it didn’t sound menacing. “Like I said, are you okay?”

“Fine,” she said with an undercurrent of defiance. She wished he’d just go on his merry way.

“In my experience, people don’t go for walks in the dark when everything is fine.”

“I’m… I will be fine. Thanks for stopping. You must be in a hurry.” She tucked her hands under her elbows and walked back up the little hill. Seeing the lights and hearing the annoying music coming from the farmhouse filled her with dread. Between the house and conversing with a stranger alone in the dark, she figured the house would be safer, but not by much.

“I don’t have to be at work until eleven,” he yelled. “I can give you a lift to your house if you want.”

Sloan spun around, half expecting him to be standing behind her with a rag full of chloroform.   “Thanks. That’s sweet, but it’s not necessary. I can get my friend to take me home.” Lord, please don’t let her be drunk.

She started to turn back around when he yelled again. “You don’t know who I am, do you?”

Of course she didn’t. It wasn’t like she could see him in the shadows. “Should I?”

“Guess not. I’ve not been back in town all that long, but I know you.”

The tiny hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Who was this guy?

“You’re Sloan Bridges. You used to date, and I use that term loosely, my brother back in the day.”

That didn’t help much. “Could you be more specific?”

His laugh filled the space between them. “Had a lot of boyfriends, have you?”

“More than my fair share,” she admitted regretfully.

“We all have a past, Sloan. Don’t let it get you down.”

Easier said than done. “So, who is your brother?”

“I’m not surprised you don’t remember. You were both eating paste in Kindergarten back then. Ray Hunter.”

Ray Hunter! Her face lit up when she recognized the name.When she was six years old, Ray had been her first official school boyfriend. He was also her first kiss. Unfortunately, that kiss on the cheek during nap time landed him in time out next to Mrs. Dobson’s desk. Sloan had always felt bad about that. “I remember Ray! Wow, so you’re Adam or Aidan… I’m sorry. I don’t remember your name.”


“Aaron Hunter! Yeah. I remember you now! You and Ray and your mom moved after Christmas that year. Broke my heart.”
“I’m sure you bounced back quickly.”

She couldn’t deny that. “I didn’t know you were back. Are Ray and your mom here, too?”

There was a pause, and Sloan wondered for a second if he had heard her. “Ray is. My mom’s not.” The way he said it let Sloan know he’d rather have his teeth pulled out than talk about her.“Anyway, I’m going back to town to get ready for work. If you still live next to Donna Robinson, it’s on my way.”

“I do, but Donna doesn’t live there anymore. She’s in Evening Oak Nursing Home.” She found herself walking toward him as she spoke.

“I hate that.”

“She’s been in there about a month. I visit her now and then. She’s doing as well as you’d expect, but she can’t take care of herself anymore. Her house has been on the market ever since she went in.”

“They don’t think she’ll come back home?”

“Doesn’t look like it.” Thinking about Donna always made her sad. A few months before, the woman had been full of life.Then a stroke nearly killed her. It did take away her ability to walk and care for herself, but not her mind. Though slow to talk, Donna was as spry as ever. “How do you even  remember where I live?”

“Good memory,” he said. “Donna was always nice to me and Ray. She took care of us when my mom wouldn’t… couldn’t,” he corrected quickly. “And she used to make us cookies. She took us to church a few times.”

Sloan heard the genuine sadness in his voice. Something about it made her not as apprehensive as she had been a few moments before. Anyone who held on to such sweet memories that long wouldn’t hurt her. She hoped not anyway. “Yeah, she was. I always liked her. She took me to church, too. I still go to her church, but it’s not the same without her.”

A few seconds went by before he spoke again. “So, it’s obvious you’re freezing and something or someone ran you out of that house.” He motioned toward the lights on the hill. ”You don’t want to go there, for whatever reason. I can help. Last chance. Let me drive you home. I promise I won’t hurt you.”

“Says the guy sitting in a strange car talking to an innocent girl in the middle of the night.”

“A Mustang isn’t strange.”

“No, but the rest of this is.” Torn, she looked back toward Boyd’s house filled with mostly  judgmental classmates; then she shifted to Aaron’s car and bit her lip. “Okay. Look, I’ll text my
friend, Mackenzie, and tell her I have a ride home.” 


“I’ll also tell her that if she doesn’t hear from me in one hour to call the police.”

“Ouch,” he laughed. “You think that little of me?”

“I don’t know you well enough to think anything about you. That’s the point.”

~Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin is a southern girl who lives with her husband and three rowdy, angelic daughters. By day, she is a teacher. By night, she is a crazy-haired, multi-tasker who writes when the kids go to bed. 

She has two young adult novels out now: SAINT SLOAN (about a girl who can’t get away from her past) and CROSSING THE DEEP (a girl’s faith is tested, stranding on a mountain with a guy she barely knows). Both are Amazon bestsellers.

You can find her at any of her two blogs: www.kellymartinstories.com (author blog) and www.encourage365.com (daily devotional blog).

Kelly loves God, is addicted to chocolate, and would rather write than sleep.