even when it’s hard to find the words…


Paris. Beirut. Iraq. Syria.

What can you possibly say in the face of these attacks, the mass loss of life across the world in a small period of time? The blatant hatred and disregard for the beauty of humanity?

Jesus, come quickly.

When things like this happen, I can’t stop reading the stories that emerge. The stories that give faces to human lives snuffed out senselessly.

And what always wrecks me the most? Imagining these people minutes before their lives forever changed. Happy. Unsuspecting. Maybe fighting about trivial things. They had no idea. They were innocent.

I know it doesn’t begin to compare, but in a tiny way, it’s like watching my baby giggle and kick on the doctor’s table while we wait for the nurse to come back with his shots. He doesn’t know the pain his perfect fat thighs are about to feel because he’s never experienced it before. Because he’s a human being, he has to learn what pain is.

But the victims of these attacks and the bystanders shouldn’t have had to learn what it’s like to experience debiliating pain. Life without the people who were standing next to them. They shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of loss and trauma at the hands of hatred.

So, what do we say from across the world? What do we do?

There’s a common theme when someone loses a loved one. Sometimes the only words they can offer are: “Hug the ones you love. You never know how much time you have left.”

Sure we can help by providing even a sliver of financial relief to those who are suffering. We can go to them to help rebuild if we are able. We can pray before we crawl into our warm, safe beds. But I think the best thing we can do is to live, not in fear, but in gratitude for who we love and what we have. Not with no regrets or no uncertainties — those are inevitable — but with no hindrances.

I think sometimes it’s hard for us Americans to empathize with the third-world countries who face this kind of violence on a daily basis. But my husband and I got babysitters and went to a concert a few weeks ago. We enjoyed good music and uninterrupted conversation, basking in the fun and freeing hours away from our normal responsibilities. Our anticipation, our defenses that help us navigate our busy lives were lowered.

The people at the concert hall in Paris were no different than us. The people whose babies get caught in gunfire in Syria are no different than us. So we have no excuse.

We cannot give this faceless enemy our fear. We need to focus on mindfulness, bravery, compassion, and kindness.

We have to keep going to concerts, singing as loudly as we can.

We have to walk boldly, hand-in-hand with the ones we love. Vigilant but not looking over our shoulders so much that we miss what’s in front of us.

We have to love, not raising our hackles every time we pass someone who might be Muslim on the street.

Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again

Even when the fight seems lost
I’ll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise

{friday 5} #NaNoWriMo2015 update, milestones, and more

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It’s here! Friday is finally here! This week was a busy but good one. Let’s just say that my Cub was down for his morning nap by 7:30am this morning. Eeesh. But the kids are off to grandma’s for the day, and my husband left on a camping trip, so by day, I’ll be a writing machine, and by night, a Harry Potter movie marathoner. I like this arrangement.

On the writing front, I celebrated a huge milestone this week!

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See that? I hit 50K on my third manuscript last night! After the crazy rollercoaster that’s been the last year, I’ve really needed this month to get back into a strong writing routine. And this night owl has become a morning person, because most of the time, that’s the only way word count will happen.

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Things are slow but steady on the NaNoWriMo front. I’ve missed a few days here and there but still have a reasonable word count goal for each day to stay on track. I’m hoping to gain major momentum with an epic writing spree today!

Speaking of writing sprees, if you missed it, I shared some of the places I write on The Writer’s Alley this week! I share a writing-related post there every other Tuesday. I link to those on my author Facebook page.

Oh! Oh! Oh! From now until November 17, the Love Inspired backlist is on sale for $1.99 a pop. I took the liberty of stocking up on all things Liz Johnson and Sarah Varland. These are sweet shorter reads, including lots of Christmasy titles. If you need to make like a bear and fill your Kindle cave for the winter, this is the fountain of honey!

Credit: The Rambling Epicure

Last but not least, if you’re looking to step up your editing game, my girl Bethany Kaczmarek wrote a comprehensive post on style guides. These are helpful to keep track of the details in your novel and maintain uniformity.

What’s new in your world this week? Any big plans for the weekend?

friday 5: fun news + FREE #NaNoWriMo printable

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Happy Friday! It’s an October Friday, so even better. I have a few things to share today, so here goes.

LS Sealwhite(1) finalist (1)1. This week, I found out one of my new manuscripts was the runner-up in the RWA Lone Star Contest’s Inspirational Category! I entered this manuscript to get feedback and direction moving forward with it, so it was a huge surprise and affirmation to what I learned at conference that this story is one that needs to be told :) More on that later, though.


2. I made the decision to enter National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. This means that novelists have the month of November to write 50,000 words on their WIP. I’ll be dividing that between two projects and spending the rest of this month preparing so it doesn’t end up like past attempts — falling on my face and then skidding some. I’ll share my plans here next week.

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3. You know how I love being intentional and planning things? I made a planner printable for NaNoWriMo, and you can download it for FREE by clicking here. It’s 15 pages with two days on each page. The layout’s designed to encourage you to jot down non-writing responsibilities so you can have an overview of things that might get in the way (no excuses!), intentionally plan out times of the day to write, and then jot down notes for the next day so you can jump right into it more easily.

Kara book

4. My writing sister Kara Isaac got to see a real, live copy of her first published book baby this week! So the sisters and I have kind of been partying all week and remembering our favorite parts of the story. I can’t wait until the rest of you can read this stellar romantic comedy in April 2016! If I ever had a book recommendation, it’s this one. Kara has these clever turns of phrase and gets her characters into predicaments that will make you laugh out loud.  She’s a fantastic storyteller! You can pre-order it here: Amazon + Barnes&Noble.

Homegirl read all the books at @antoinettebakingco after finishing her blueberry crumb bar. #allieG

A photo posted by laurie (@laurietomlinson) on

5. Yesterday my kids and I met some friends at our favorite bakery in town. After eating her blueberry crumb bar, I caught my girl surrounded by books in the window. She just turned four, so she can’t read quite yet. But she really loves looking at the pictures and telling the stories out loud. If this picture doesn’t make me feel like I’m doing something right as a #wordnerd mama, nothing will! :)


BONUS: Last but not least, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me as I expand my consulting business to serve individuals. So many shared and showed the love last week! I truly have the best friends, family, and hopefully new clients! <3

Hope you find time this weekend to watch some good football (or read a book while everyone else does), warm a mug with your favorite hot chocolate, and feel the hug of soft flannel or fleece.

my writing bucket list


You can learn a lot about someone by looking at her bucket list. I found a handwritten one for writing I started in 2012 when I first got my booty into gear about writing for publication.

I know it’s not news to you how much I love a good to-do list, but bucket lists have always especially fascinated me. That makes that person come alive? Where do his or her priorities lie? What unique places does this individual mind go to in terms of this topic?

For the sake of accountability and fun (and because I’m turning 30!!!) I’ve added a tab to my website with my own writing bucket list in progress. And here it is — short, sweet, sometimes a little weird.

Finish a novel [x 2]

Sign with a literary agent

Write for The Writer’s Alley

Sign a book contract

Win a Genesis Award [x 2]

Publish an article in Relevant Magazine

Start a sustainable freelance business

Take a selfie with my own book at Barnes & Noble

Indie publish my NA series

Finish a NaNoWriMo month (50,000 words in one month)

Writing Retreat at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs

Attend Mt. Hermon Writing Conference

Celebrate book contracts with my critique partners

Write a nonfiction eBook to give away

Research trip to Ireland :)

Teach a class at a conference

Research trip to Texas Hill Country

Does anything on this list surprise you? What are some of the things on your bucket list?

What are you doing to make it happen?

2015 pre-conference mix and mingle


It’s about that time again!

I can’t believe this is the third year for the pre-conference mix and mingle. In case you’re new here and have no idea what this is all about, it’s just a little link up with some questions that help us get to know each other before conference. I’ve loved the opportunity to meet people before I meet them in person, especially the first year in Indianapolis when I was a newbie  :) Assuming all technology goes according to plan, there should be a little link-up at the bottom of this post with links to different people going to conference and their own get-to-know-you questions.

Here’s what to do:

– Copy/paste and fill out your own answers (you don’t have to answer all of them!) in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that specific post (not your homepage) using this handy link-up tool. Just click on the blue button below that says “Add your link”. If you don’t have a website, feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!

– Make sure to link back to this post after you fill out your answers so any of your readers who are conference attendees can participate, too! The more, the merrier.

– Click through the links below to get to know other conference attendees before Dallas!

Here are the questions and my answers!

Name: Laurie Tomlinson

Location: Tulsa, OK

What you write/tagline/trademark: Contemporary Romance / “Stories of grace in the beautiful mess”

Place in the book world: Pre-published author represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary. Currently working on my third manuscript while the first two are out on submission!

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: All the hugs.

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Food, planners, and college football! (Go Longhorns!)

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, daughter who will be turning four while I’m gone, and five-month-old baby boy who is a new addition this year! But you’d better believe I’ll also be missing my yellow Lab snuggles.

Conference goals we can pray for? My goal is to soak in the joy of writing and be refreshed by the community of my writing people. Please pray that my eyes will be open for the vision/purpose God has for my writing journey and any opportunities He brings my way.

Anything we can celebrate with you? That my writing “muse” didn’t abandon me after a crazy year :)

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can like my author page on Facebook and sign up for my email list by clicking here! (I will NOT share your email with anyone and will only send an email with the very most important news.)

That’s it!

Be sure to check out who’s going to conference as (hopefully) the links start showing up!

If not, now you know a little more about me :)

when mamas create


{Originally posted on The Writer’s Alley}

Have you listened to the podcast Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert? The bestselling author who’s had Julia Roberts star in the movie version of her book (Eat, Pray, Love)? She’s on a mission to help artists get past their fears so they can do their thing once and for all.

I’ve only listened to the first episode, but was inspired by what was there. Obviously I can’t quite endorse it yet because I’ve only heard the first one, not to mention we have very different views on life and faith. But in the episode, Ms. Gilbert interviewed a woman who had the nagging desire to write. She became an English teacher instead and later had two children, shelving the dream and refining her craft in the meantime. Now that her kids are in school, she can’t ignore that niggling desire anymore. And she’s out of excuses, but she just can’t seem to get started. 

In Ms. Gilbert’s advice to her were some very important points that resonated with me in my current relationship with work and art and writing:

Mothers need to be given permission to do the things that ignite their souls. 

And fear shows up as perfectionism, insecurity, guilt, procrastination, and anything else that keeps them from doing those things.

I’m going to say this up front: The number one person who needs to give a mother permission to create is herself. The mom on the podcast is one example of so many who are riddled with guilt that their desires and attentions are pointed on anything but their children. They second guess any compromise involving their kids and often err on the side of sacrifice.

But children notice things. When Mama creates, they will either see her guarding her time, protecting her art, working hard, and investing in becoming the best version of herself. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, they will see a martyr-mother and become conditioned to letting duties delegate dreams to the back seat — both hers and their own.

Yikes. The reality of that possibility makes me cringe.

The truth is, children of a certain age can learn to be self-sufficient during that pocket of time designated for your writing. They can learn to be creators themselves, if not in words or art, then in opportunities. Even if they’re not natural creatives, per se, they’ll live in a climate that encourages them to nurture their own dreams, give them feet, and pursue them unrelentingly.

Ms. Gilbert compared the guest caller to a plane on a runway. She’s spent plenty of time refining her craft, starting a blog, and building momentum, but she’s reached the point where it’s either run out of gas from excess taxiing, crash and burn into the neighboring field, or take off.

This is my commission, not just for moms, but for anyone with that chance within them that’s begging to be taken. It’s time to stop letting fear (and its various disguises) sabotage the passion God has given us. It’s time to take off, to do and create, find the healthiest balance, and discover the best version of ourselves so we can give more freely and love more deeply

{summer favs giveaway}

{edited} The winner is Stephanie J! I also drew a surprise second prize winner, Rachel Brown Dodson. 

I can’t thank everyone who entered enough for showing support to this author and me! I love love love doing giveaways, so keep checking back :) 

Can you believe it’s almost the end of July? Me neither. But to celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway!


Enter below to win a prize bundle that includes:

I’ve been posting regularly on The Writer’s Alley, but I’m excited to get this website up and running again! You can check out the Rafflecopter to see how you can win, share the love about one of my favorite authors, and support my journey as an author at the same time.

Thanks for entering, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

beauty from brokenness: the glorious dichotomy

{Originally posted on The Writer’s Alley}

Today I went to the funeral of a 20-day-old baby, the firstborn son of some dear friends of ours. It was a hard, but beautiful day. This couple has been so faith-filled and authentic about their roller coaster journey from battling fiercely in prayer for his life to wrestling with God after his death. Praising Him endlessly.

But as their loved ones gathered to say goodbye, my friends led them in worship, using their gifts to serve and give God glory even in the face of crushing grief. The theme of the afternoon was that, even though no parents should have to lose a child, even though we don’t understand why it happened, God is still good. That’s constant, along with the fact that He’s always with us.

The baby’s brave and beautiful mother shared something that stuck with me, something I wanted to share. Because, I promise, it has everything to do with writing.

In a raw and poignant piece she wrote after her son’s death, “Where I Found God,” she talked about how she’s experienced God when everything in life was going according to plan and, now, when the ground disintegrated beneath her feet.

Our God didn’t change due to her circumstances, she said: He is constant. He always remains the same.

And she pointed out that we don’t have to wait to approach Him in our proverbial Sunday finest, with a pristine face, when it’s easiest to remember to praise Him. We can come to Him messy, broken, raw, speechless. Angry, even. We can ask Him questions and wrestle with Him when faith is living up to its definition, heavy on the “not knowing” aspect.

I think it’s important to capture this in our writing. To give our characters real problems where they begin to lose hope. Where they’re hanging by a thread. It’s important to show how they learn a full reliance on God and His strength, even if it takes them a bit to get to that point.

I think it’s important to show that the end doesn’t always turn out the way we imagined it would be, but it can still be beautiful.

But I think it’s our duty as writers to emphasize the beauty rising from the brokenness. God’s power being made perfect in weakness. That He will scale even the steepest of slopes to redeem a situation and then carry you on His back the whole way home.

Today, I was privileged to witness that dichotomy. The powerful worship of broken, grieving people held together by hope. The place where darkness couldn’t extinguish the light.

And in real life, in fiction, whatever, there’s nothing else that points people to Christ quite like it.

the most important ingredient in your writing recipe

{originally posted on The Writer’s Alley}

Hermione Granger is my spirit animal.

Just a little tidbit you may not know about me.

Like our favorite wild-haired brainiac, I’m a reformed know-it-all, hopefully a little more bearable to live with than the girl whose hand was raised so high, her fanny had lift-off from the plastic, grade school chair-desk. But I still devour information about topics that interest me. Google has especially enabled this tendency. 

Now that you know this important piece of trivia about me, let me tell you what happened after pressing send on my second manuscript. I bought a ton of craft books. I studied the industry — both my little subsection of it and on the whole. I tried a variety of writing tactics recommended by plotters, pantsers, speed-writers, and the like. But despite abiding by my tried and true M.O., I began to flounder between book ideas. The DELETE key became my BFF.

Why were my first and second books so much easier to get on the page? After months, I finally had an epiphany this weekend.


Yes, it’s important to study what’s selling in the industry, to follow your agent’s recommendations if you have one, and to sharpen your craft until it reaches an almost deadly fine point. But there was one important thing I’d forgotten:

You have to write what you want to read. 

I learned that you can read all the books and blogs until you’ve fine-tuned a rubric with the most popular and sellable aspects in your genre, but if you don’t start with what makes your story one you’d like to read, 1) it likely won’t be unique enough to thrive in the industry, 2) it might not have the pulse that breathes life into the muscles and bones of the plot anyway.


So. What kinds of ideas spark your stories? Inspiration from real-life? Music? Movies? Themes or scriptures? That indignant feeling when you would have ended a novel differently? 


Tell us in the comments!

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