friday favs: fun gift ideas for writers


Shopping for the writer on your list? Unsure how to spend your gift cards? Here are a few ideas!

I’ve been seeing prettified pages from this ESV Journaling Bible all over Instagram. Since writers like to process and interpret through their pens, this could be a meaningful gift for the writer in your life. Valerie Wieners, who took the above picture, has an excellent FAQ page about hers!

Technically this one isn’t available yet, but isn’t this Hemingwrite Distraction-free Digital Typewriter such a cool concept? Looks like it will be out soon!

The Passion Planner. How to describe it? It’s an extremely practical way for the busy writer to track priorities and tasks and break it all down in a feasible way. I watched the video for the kickstarter campaign and adored the format of it! If you’re the try-before-you-buy type, you can download PDF copies of the weekly spread, but the actual planner has more resources to help with goal-setting and the like. Check out all of its features here.

Honorable Mentions: You can never go wrong with an Amazon Gift Card, impersonal as it seems. The writer in your life has plenty of comparable titles, craft books, and writing supplies to buy, so an Amazon card may give him/her permission to get something fun. Pens and office supplies are always high on my list. My favorites are here and here and here and here.

Writers, what ranks high on your wishlist?

#FACEme blog tour


I promised I’d never have a little girl who loved princesses. What was I thinking

She took to them with no influence from me whatsoever, and suddenly I was invited to an unfamiliar magical realm of tiaras, gowns, and sparkly jewelry. This glamorous epitome of a three-year-old girl’s ideal.

It soon became clear (when she asked to wear dresses and costume jewelry every day) that she believed one couldn’t be a princess without wearing those things. But it’s been our mission to engrain a requisite association between princesses and traits like kindness to others and unconditional love and bravery and joy. Fortunately there are many illustrations of these qualities threaded in her stories.

When Jaime suggested the blog tour, it got me thinking about some of the engrained requisites women have. While my three-year-old daughter’s stories illustrate positive, enriching values for the most part, I think teenagers and adults aren’t so lucky. Just look at the ideals communicated by pop culture and the multimillion-dollar beauty industry. The fact that plastic surgery is about as common as going to the dentist these days.

Wearing makeup is like a revered rite of passage for young girls. And once they cross that threshold, it’s hard for them to go out in public without it. Without their best face. I think that, instead of allowing it to accentuate their existing beauty in a fun way, which I’m all for, many allow the mask of makeup to create overshadowing flaws. To alter the lens of how they see themselves in the mirror. Without a few coats of mascara, they believe their eyes disappear. Without blush, their complexion is ghastly. Without a daily application from their proven assortment of tubes and compacts, they’re not beautiful. Not worth a second glance.


I don’t ever want my daughter to feel that way. I want her to see in herself the beauty I do, untouched in those big sapphire eyes and creamy skin and little petal smile that has the power to turn the darkest of days on its head. And more importantly, I want her to appreciate the innate kindness and generosity that radiates from within her. To know that every time her first reaction is to compliment someone she meets or comfort someone who’s hurt — those things are way more important to the blueprint of her identity than the shape of her eyes or the color of her hair.

And she, the first person who sees me after I drag myself out of bed in the morning, has helped me appreciate my own beauty in its raw and rugged form. Her mind doesn’t differentiate between my made-up face and this one. She’s looking for comfort, checking to see if she’s made me laugh, and measuring my delight in her. There are far more important things that matter to her than color and lines.

Isn’t that the way God looks at us, though? I think He completely sees through any attempt to dress ourselves up, to embellish any aspect of our life. He sees the real version of us and redeems us anyway.

And I think He wants us to know that there’s nothing we can do (or not do) to make Him love us more or less. Like a three-year-old, He is enraptured by us — bedheaded, broken, and blemished — just as we are.


For more thoughts on true beauty and God’s love, check out the rest of the blog tour by clicking the links below.

Nick Kording:
Lindsay Harrel:
Joseph Courtemanche:
Gabrielle Meyer:
Jaime Wright:
Carrie Wisehart:
Emilie Anne Hendryx:
Andrea ‘Dia’ Nell:
Sarah Baker:
Kristy Cambron:
Rachel Britz:
Cara Putman:
Stacy Monson:
Laurie Tomlinson:
Katherine Reay :
Katie Ganshert


{giveaway} end of October favorites

It’s almost time for my favorite month to come to a close, so I’m ending it with style.

What would you think about a GIVEAWAY? 

Good. I’m glad we can agree.

There are two things that inspired this: 1) Because I just love this social media community and always feel the more the merrier! And 2) because this week is the arrival of something I have long been anticipating, the release of Lizzy & Jane, the follow-up to Katherine Reay’s first book, Dear Mr. Knightley.


Just in case you haven’t heard of Katherine Reay, let me fill you in. Her first book recently won TWO Carol Awards in the same night to add to its proverbial mantle of acclaim. It’s intelligent, raw, compelling, and—get this—written in epistolary form! I love that format. So different, especially in the inspirational romance market. Plus, in case you couldn’t tell by the titles, there are plenty of nods to Jane Austen in these books :)

If you haven’t read Dear Mr. Knightley, rest assured. I’m giving away:

  • A good old-fashioned paperback copy of Dear Mr. Knightley
  • UPDATE: The super sweet Katherine Reay has added a copy of Lizzy & Jane to the loot! Woo hoo!
  • A $25 giftcard to Barnes & Noble or Amazon
  • An assortment of my favorite things that will probably be decided based on who wins, but will likely include a copy of the CD I’ve been listening to nonstop plus the impulsive favorites that land in my Target cart

There are plenty of ways you can win in the Rafflecopter below, a variety of ways you can help me out a lot on my journey to publication! For example, I recently created an email list to be used only for the most special of announcements. (If the direct link doesn’t work in the Rafflecopter, click here to sign up!) Apparently those are pretty important to have :)

May the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{tagged} 20 random questions

My lovely, sweet Casey Herringshaw tagged me in a 20 Random Questions post. So, since it’s been a minute on my blog and it’s Friday, I thought I’d share my answers!


Here goes:

1. How tall are you?

5’6″ since I was 12 years old. Somewhere in the middle of average, and I’m okay with it. :)

2. Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what is it?

I like to sing, but that’s not really a secret. So I’m going to go with trashcan basketball. I am oddly good at landing wadded-up trash into a wastebasket from a distance, but only with my left (weak) hand. The more you know.

3. What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

Mine is the opposite of Casey’s. I don’t like it when people feel they have to stick to a schedule so much that they are constantly apologizing for not blogging when life gets in the way. Life > blogging. Every time. I say be consistent, but you have no reason to be sorry when something comes up. :)

4. What’s your biggest non blog-related pet peeve?

Well, it all sounds kind of silly when I type it out. But I live in Oklahoma, and I don’t like it when people interchange words like “hill” and “heel”. I also don’t like it when people ignore the double verb infinitive rule with the verb “to need”. (When someone says “needs fixed” instead of “needs to be fixed”.)

5. What’s your favorite song?

Ask me again in five minutes. It will probably be different. I’d say my all-time favorite song is “With Everything” by Hillsong. I always go back to it. But right now, the entire You Make Me Brave album by Bethel Worship is getting worn. out. in my Explorer :)

6. What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

I’m not on Etsy much, but I love prints and follow a lot of hand-lettering artists on Instagram. I’ve also really been into gold foil lately!

7. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

I like reading, watching old shows (i.e. House, MD) on Netflix, and writing or drawing :)

8. What’s your favorite junk food?

White cheddar popcorn, Tostitos Hint of Lime chips, Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and anything with Heath Bar.

9.  Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

My favorite animal in the world is our four-year-old yellow Lab, Sampson Hamish. He’s the best dog ever and definitely like our first child.


10.  What are your #1 favorite fiction and nonfiction books?

Hard to pick fiction. I’d say the Harry Potter series and the Christy Miller series. Both were most engaging to me and always stick out in my mind! Nonfiction is much easier. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning changed. my. life.

11.   What’s your favorite beauty product?

I am not much of a beauty product girl, but since I’ve grown my nails out, I love Essie nail polish. I also LOVE Philosophy combo bubble bath/shampoo/body wash because they smell like cake and leave the skin oh-so-smooth!

Philosophy - Ooey Gooey Cookie Fresh-Baked Cookie Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath


12.   When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

Ohmygoodness. It happens so often that I don’t notice anymore. It’s just ingrained in my DNA and part of everyday life.

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Diet Dr. Pepper. No, that’s so bad for me. Let’s go with chai tea. Oregon Chai, if we’re really specific.

14.  What’s your favorite movie?

Love and Basketball. Yep.

15.  What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

I think I was kind of a mix between a choir nerd and drama geek who got good grades and played a few sports.

16.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

My favorite cities are Colorado Springs and Austin. But I wouldn’t complain if, say, a beachfront property in Playa Santa Teresa, Costa Rica fell into my lap :)


17.   PC or Mac?

Mac. But not a Mac snob.

18.  Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My husband surprised me with this gorgeous new office this week!


19.  Favorite celebrity?

That’s a tricky one. Talent-wise, I love Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Plus everything Greg Kinnear has ever done. Oh wait, the question was favorite celebrity not favorite actor. I don’t think I have one.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

Now this is definitely more up my alley! I want to be best friends with Jessica from How Sweet Eats and Rachel Khoo, who is more of a celebrity TV chef than a blogger nowadays!

If you’re still reading, I love you. Please tell me something about yourself and how you would have answered the question that most stuck out to you! <3

fear is not the boss of you


I’ve been thinking about fear a lot over the last few years as I’ve dealt with it in my personal life and made it a major theme in my second book. It’s one of those things that, if you don’t keep it in check, it can consume you. It can manifest itself in unhealthy ways and become an enslaving force in your life. It can trap you and keep you from living your full potential in freedom.

And I’ve wrestled with it at different times. I’ve wrestled HARD.

As my writing friends are preparing for ACFW Conference — an integral part of our year as writers, a major stepping stone in our careers — there’s been a lot of talk about fear. Well, it turns out I have a lot to say on the subject.

It’s a pretty cool thing to be sitting in church with no idea what you’re about to hear until the pastor starts speaking about a topic that’s been on your heart. That’s what happened to me yesterday, helping me flesh out some of my thoughts. So here goes.

Fear may come from the sinful nature in us, but it still comes from us. 

In Romans 7, Paul talks about sin’s control over our lives. “So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.”

I think people give the devil way more credit than he deserves. Fear is a product of the lies we’ve chosen to believe. The programming we’ve conditioned our minds to compute. The influences around which we’ve surrounded ourselves.

Sometimes even the comfort that comes with the familiarity of fear.

But if fears come from our own nature, we can actively fight it. 

Romans 8 offers hope for our sinful condition. “So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”

Fear doesn’t hold a candle to the power of Christ in us. Not even a flicker. But it’s our choice, an active decision to reprogram our reactions to the things that normally trigger fear. The thoughts we choose to give our energy and attention. We can decide what to believe as truth in our lives, what chances to take to move toward all the possibilities of bold, unapologetic freedom.

We can surround ourselves with positive influences and media that fills us with truth instead of negativity. We can divert unhealthy ideas instead of dwelling on them. We can focus on freedom one decision at a time and not abandon our efforts completely if we fall short a few times.

If you’re headed to the ACFW Conference, don’t let fear be the boss of you. 

Something is bound to go differently than you’ve expected. It’s inevitable. But know that there is nothing that can happen that will be an ultimate deal-breaker. No worst case scenario that’s as bad as you think it will be. Nothing that can ruin your entire trip unless you let it.

You’re surrounded by people who get you and want you to succeed. Remember that, if God has given you this passion and message to share, no fear can derail that unless you let it.

I’m going to leave you this song, one of my favorites lately, and encourage you to be brave, whether you’re going to ACFW Conference or facing something else.

You make me brave

You make me brave
You called me beyond the shore
Into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now 
The promises You’ve made





my first ACFW conference experience

Last year, I was a brand new ACFW member. I was still new at even considering myself a pre-published author, and if it weren’t for finaling in a contest and the encouragement of a few persistent friends, I probably would have talked myself out of going.

But when I looked at the ACFW, I saw this big fellowship of people with an unreal camaraderie. And even if it took years, I wanted to be part of it.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t take years.

I dressed like I was going to a job interview and wheeled my suitcase to the terminal at the Tulsa airport, kissed my husband goodbye, and embarked on what I felt was a grand adventure. Because it kind of was.

And I had my first (in-person) experience with the ACFW earlier than planned. My connecting flight at the DFW airport was soon after landing, so I hurried to my gate. There I found a group of women talking and laughing. I didn’t know a soul. But I recognized one, author Betsy St. Amant.

So I inched closer. Casually. Gathered up the nerve to ask if they were going to ACFW. They immediately opened their circle to me and asked me what I write. Can I tell you that it was weird answering that question for the first of many times that week as someone who normally shrugged it off? But it got much easier, I promise. Then we exchanged business cards and went around introducing ourselves.



I don’t remember everyone who was at the airport gate that day. But I remember that, when I said I was flying standby, Lena Nelson Dooley offered to pray for me with the whole group. Wow. Me, a person she had just met minutes before.

When we touched down in Dallas and dispersed to get our luggage, I realized that in my frenzy to get all of my materials ready, I had no way to get to the hotel from the airport. Rookie mistake. But sweet multi-published author Elizabeth Ludwig had pity on me and took me into their taxi. Another WOW moment of unhesitating kindness.

I think that’s the whole point of this post. The members of ACFW are your people. Individuals with whom you can unleash your full writerly self without fear of condemnation or strange looks like the “Muggles” give us when we talk about our characters as if they’re living, breathing people. The Muggles just don’t understand :)

At conference, I encourage you to introduce yourself to people — even that multi-published author you’ve been fangirling. Respect people’s personal space. Be courteous, professional, friendly, and especially gracious. But take that step closer and introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and exchange business cards. Learn somebody’s story. Not everyone will become your new best friend, but you never know what connections you’ll form.

Or who will become your fabulous new critique group. :)

Conference CPs

Laurie Kara

PS: If you’re new to the ACFW Conference, Mary Vee put up a fabulous, informative post today on The Writer’s Alley. It will help you prepare with peace and confidence!

2014 pre-conference mix and mingle

It’s that time again!

Last year, I loved doing this pre-conference mix and mingle. It definitely helped me learn new faces and get to know people my first year at conference :) 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 post (not your home page) 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 St. Louis!

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: Books, good food, and college football!

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, three-year-old daughter, and yellow Lab!

Conference goals we can pray for? That my books will find their perfect publishing home and definitely for peace during pitches!

Anything we can celebrate with you? I’m a finalist in the Romance category of the Genesis contest.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Yes! You can like my author page on Facebook and sign up for my brand new 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 :)

conference prep promo

Hi, everyone! Conference season is upon us, and it’s time to finalize your promotional materials!

To give back to the writing community that has blessed me so much, I’m running a Conference Prep Promo from now until September 22.


Here are the details:

{$40} One-sheet consultation: I will help you refine your one-sheet, including back cover summary, author bio, formatting, and minor graphic design assistance.

{$25} Short Summary / Tagline / Hook: For $25, I will help you develop your 1-2 sentence hook, short book summary, or elevator pitch. 

{Price negotiable} Synopsis / Proposal: If you’d like a critique of your synopsis, proposal, or more in-depth help with your project, please email me at laurie {at} laurietomlinson {dot} com for pricing or use the contact form below!

{10% discount}: I will offer a 10% discount for each paying client you refer to this promo, so be sure to have your friends tell me who sent ‘em! :)

I’d love to let my seven years of experience in book publicity help you present your manuscript in the best possible way so it can grab the attention it deserves from editors and agents. If you have any questions at all, feel free to check out my business page or contact me directly. I look forward to hearing about your project!




a peek inside my planner + time management tips


In a former life, I was an office manager in charge of organizing around 120-140 new projects a month and dividing responsibilities among multiple employees in the most efficient manner. So, I guess you could say I like organizing. Just a little.

I’m not exactly Type A for most things. In fact, I bet my husband is somewhere laughing right about now. But bright color coding and lists are my jive. As a reformed overachiever, I still typically balance a lot of things on my plate and want to be sure my priorities are in the right place and goals get accomplished.

Last year, I found the perfect planner to support my love of lists and intentional living: the Blue Sky 10 x 8″ Weekly/Monthly Planner, especially when teamed with designer Dabney Lee.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you got a front-row seat to my #plannernerd panic when June came to an end and they still hadn’t released their new July-June planners. It wasn’t pretty. But what IS pretty is my the planner I finally ordered.

Here’s a peek inside and some organizational tips. Because we’re friends like that.


Each month, I write out the bigger commitments and events I know about ahead of time as I go. Things I probably should remember but never would be able to keep track of on my own with Mom Brain.


There’s also a really cool feature next to each monthly calendar: lists for To Do, To Call, and To Buy. I typically use the To Do for monthly goals, ranging from personal to professional to writing goals. Do I want to write 25K words this month? Up my running mileage? Read a craft book? Go on a date night every week with my husband? Grow out my fingernails? What fun things can I do with my daughter this month? Since I have a secret aversion to talking on the phone, To Call is for blog posts I want to write. To Buy changes every month, but I’d imagine it would also make a good place for monthly budgeting goals or tracking expenses!

Now (*rubs hands together*) for my favorite part of this planner. The weekly spread!


Every week, I look at my monthly calendar and write down any events. Then I make a list of weekly goals on the far right Notes column. This includes meals I want to cook, work projects that are due, scenes I want to write in my manuscript, what days I’m going to blog, and various and sundry things like house projects. Then I spread them out across the week in the daily list section. I also look at the workout class schedule at my gym and write down any classes I’d like to take.

My weeks rarely go according to plan because that’s just life. But mapping out my week helps me make sense of the craziness, accomplish more, and not let anything super important slip through the cracks.


Each day in the planner is like a to-do list. I LOVE the vertical format. I try to make a list of things I’d like to accomplish based on what commitments I have. This helps me budget my tasks wisely. For example, if I know I have a meeting one night, I can plan a crockpot meal so I don’t have to scramble. If I have two work projects due on the same day, I can budget my word count goals so I can still get my writing done with just less volume that day. If I want to cook at home more since the amount we’ve eaten out lately is atrocious, I can write down the meals I’d like us to have that week, make one grocery list, and plan accordingly based on what our week looks like.

I’m pretty good about sticking to my planner, but I could be better about prioritizing some things. {*cough* following my gym schedule!} My approach is to be ambitious when planning my goals but to give myself plenty of grace and wiggle room. And having a safe place to put ideas is also a really good thing!

As far as planning/time management goes, I’m a firm believer in this:

  1. You can accomplish anything that’s really important to you! Most of the time, when people say “I don’t have time,” realistically they should be saying “I’m not willing to make time.”
  2. No one person can do everything. And that’s okay. It’s important to be flexible and budget in lots of wiggle room, or else you might go crazy. Just ask College Laurie about this.
  3. People are more important than getting everything done. Sometimes throwing the schedule aside and investing in someone else is the absolute best thing you can do.
  4. There is a motivating satisfaction in crossing something off of your [preferably color-coded :) ] to-do list.

Do you use a planner to manage your time? And more importantly, will anyone besides me fess up to adding things you’ve already finished on your to-do list just so you can cross them off? 

Psst: Be on the lookout for one of these in a giveaway next week! Don’t think for a second I could keep this goodness to myself!

{friday favs} link love


So I’m posting this on a late Friday afternoon, first blog post in ages, but I have so many links open on my browser that I want to share! Here’s some link love if you happen to see this post :)

Okay, I have maybe an hour until naptime is over, so I am going to clean my neglected kitchen. Like you do. I’ll be back next week to update you on August goals, link you to my debut as an official AlleyCat, and I’m also going to be doing a giveaway! Lots to be excited about around here :)

Have a great weekend!

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