you don’t give your heart in pieces

“Unreserved, unrestrained / Your love is wild, Your love is wild for me. It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed. / Your love is proud to be seen with me.”

“Pieces” – Bethel Worship

Sometimes you can hear the same song dozens of times, and that 31st time, it takes on a brand new meaning. When I first listened to “Pieces” by Bethel Worship, I thought about how the love of the Lord is beyond our understanding. In this world, the unashamed way he loves us would be considered embarrassing. And we aren’t used to being loved like that.

The song is on my most-listened playlist, often filtering through the house when I’m scrubbing last night’s sauce off the pan, when I’m zoned out in the pickup line making a grocery list in my head, as I’m hunched over my computer in the dark doing client work. But one time, the lyrics broke through the distractions, the complacency of the familiar melody, and probably some rambunctious children’s voices to show me something new.

It started with a question:

How often do we base our picture of God’s love on the way those who are closest to us are SUPPOSED to love us but cannot?

” Love keeps its promises. It keeps its word. It honors what’s sacred ’cause its vows are good. Your love’s not broken. It’s not insecure. Your love’s not selfish. Your love is pure.”

There’s no agenda or manipulation in God’s love like there is in broken people’s:

*He never withholds love to get what he wants because we are all he wants.

*His love’s not affected by our performance or merit because it’s based on who he is, and his nature never changes.

*He doesn’t look for us to fail so he can feel better about himself because he’s concerned with our good.

*There’s no threat or injury, no room for fear in his love because it’s full and whole, and in him we’re free.

All the broken families of origin, mean girls, unhealthy relationships, conniving co-workers have taught us to wait and see before letting anyone in, to keep one eye always open in our trust, and to carry a proverbial knife behind our back in the event we allow someone to know our old wounds and most vulnerable places.

But that’s not how God intended love and it’s something that needs to be reframed, retrained if we want the fullness and freedom of the proximity he offers us.

We crave intimacy, community, solidarity. On some deep level, we want our whole, true selves to be seen–scars, bad habits, junk drawers, and all–and loved anyway. But first, we have to strip the fears ingrained in us by the people who have failed us and let the Father love us. For me, that looks like making my heart soft where it wants to be hard. Being transparent when the world tells me I’m too much. Prying open my death-clenched fists when an open hand goes against every instinct. Sitting at the Father’s feet when I believe I haven’t done enough to deserve the rest.

“You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hide yourself to tease us.”

It’s hard and completely against human nature to love first, when it isn’t returned, without the safety of asterisks or conditions. But as we begin to grasp the nature of God’s love for a people who don’t deserve it, and let him love us the way only he can love, how can we not try? 

NaNoWriMo resources


Pep Talks:

Helpful Links:

2017 ACFW conference mix & mingle

It’s this week, y’all!!

Welcome to the fifth annual pre-conference mix and mingle, the event with the cheesy name but serious fun. In case you’re new here and have no idea what this is all about, it’s just a little link up with questions that help us get to know each other before conference arrives. I’ve loved the opportunity to “meet” people ahead of time, especially that first year in Indianapolis when I was a newbie  🙂 At the bottom of this post, there’s a little link-up with friends who will be there and their own get-to-know-you posts.

Here’s how to play:

– Copy/paste the questions and fill out your own answers 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 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!

Here are my answers!

Name: Laurie Tomlinson

Location: Tulsa, OK

What you write/tagline/trademark: I write clean + inspirational contemporary romance!

Place in the book world: Published author of one novel and one novella with a few projects currently on submission.

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

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Not a coffee drinker, but chai or iced Passion-Tango tea, please!

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Planners, pens, cooking, Texas Longhorns football, and whatever TV show I’m currently watching (Try Firefly)!

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, 6-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old son. You’d better believe I’ll be missing my yellow Lab snuggles, too!

Conference goals we can pray for? I’ll only be there Friday and Saturday, but I’m praying for productive writing time and fellowship <3

Anything we can celebrate with you? Two book releases since our last conference: That’s When I Knew in the Love at First Laugh collection and With No Reservations, published by Harlequin Heartwarming!

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!

Your turn!

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



Over my morning oatmeal, at my actual desk.


With my faithful canine companion, on the couch.


Yep, with my Vietnamese noodle soup over lunch. I have to sit down when I eat, and my children are usually likewise occupied, so it’s the perfect time to get stuff done 🙂

Where do you work?

{friday mixing bowl} shawarma + link love + weekly update

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Happy Friday, y’all! How was your week? Mine went by FAST!

– This week, I’m currently: –

Dreaming of…

The wrap-style shawarma I had for the first time at Laffa Meditteranean Cafe in downtown Tulsa. Tender lamb and beef with bright pickled vegetables and a creamy lemon hummus sauce. Yes. This was my first shawarma experience, and definitely won’t be my last.

Working on…


Finishing my revise & resubmit for an older project. I’m at 72% and just have to delete a little, reorder, and rewrite the very end. I’ve loved spending time with these long lost characters <3 After I hit send? I’m finishing the last ~25K of my third manuscript in the second half of my NaNoWriMo project.

Listening to…

I’m a huge fan of Ben Rector (random trivia: went to high school and led worship with him, so I’m a tiny bit biased)! He got to perform on The TODAY Show this week.




I have a huge author crush on Emery Lord, who writes YA. Confession: I bought this book solely because of her Twitter account. She’s one of those people who, if you met in real life, you’d probably talk to her like she was your best friend. Since that’s not creepy 🙂


Why I waited so long to get on the Podcast train? My #1 lifehack of 2016 so far is to make cleaning time podcast time. I have been setting my children up with projects (or Cheerios, for the baby) and washing dishes or scrubbing countertops while I listen. And I actually LOOK FORWARD TO CLEANING. How did that even happen? Now, rarely do I get to listen to one all the way through without stopping, but these are the podcasts I always come back to for more! {Click on the image for podcast page}


Thoughts on creativity, small business, and producing the work you’re passionate about from Elise Blaha Cripe. She has amazing guests, too!


Thoughts about intentional living from Tsh Oxenreider. Love her insights and the people of different experiences she brings on the show.


A creative kick in the pants from Liz Gilbert that — disclaimer — sometimes includes with a few *choice* words 😉 I have so many thoughts and so much inspiration from her and her guests.

– link <3 – 


  • THESE peanut butter sugar cookies from Chef in Training blog. Perfect for your Valentine…especially if that Valentine is yourself 🙂
  • It’s no secret that Carla Laureano is one of my favorite authors! Did you see that she’s giving away a free novella to her newsletter subscribers? If you need to escape to tropical Belize for a romantic adventure right about now, be sure to check it out!

– In case you missed it – 

So, tell me about your week? Hope you have a great weekend! 

{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!

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.24.24 AM

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?

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.

#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


thoughts on hitting send

Yep. You read that correctly. Book 2 is now out of my hands and into my agent’s inbox.

So, what are my thoughts?

Finally! It seems like everything that could possibly happen to keep this book from getting finished happened. But even though it’s a few months behind the timeframe I’d originally hoped to finish edits, it’s done!

Grateful. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it definitely takes a village to write and finish a book. My husband — bless him — has had to deal with book brain and lots of takeout. My baby girl has been such a bright spot in every day. My whole family (but especially mom and mother-in-law) have all pitched in to watch Allie so I can work and write. My critique partners and beta readers have kept me (mostly) sane and helped me whip my story into shape. And I love my friends and family for still loving me despite neglect and the aforementioned book brain 🙂

Damage Control. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job keeping things in order during this book. But I will for sure catch up on sleep!

Freedom. What will I do with all my free time? Read books again? Watch movies? Take up a new hobby? I have been compiling a list.

Next book. Yep. You heard that right. I’m already thinking about book 3. If you know anything about my first book, Take Heart, this is the story of Blake and Lacey (who my friends and critique partners lovingly refer to as Blacey). I wrote the first three chapters this past fall and love it already!

But first… I am whisking the husband off on a trip. The first time the two of us have gone on vacation together since baby girl was born. And coincidentally, we’re going back to the city we fell in love with on that last vacation, San Francisco! I’m SO excited to see the ocean, explore the places we didn’t see last time, revisit our favorite restaurants, and read books on the airplane again.


What are you up to this weekend? Any Bay Area recommendations?





giveaway winner! + the future of this website


First order of business:

We have a winner of Surprised by Motherhood! Would the lovely Kerry Johnson please send your mailing address + any instructions to laurie {at} laurietomlinson {dot} com!

Thank you to everyone who joined the conversation this week. I love hearing each and every mama’s heart and sharing these experiences with my sisterhood. I hope it was enlightening for whatever role that’s shaping your life whether you’re a mama or not. 🙂

Next week, I’ll be finished talking about motherhood here. Probably.

I’ve been keeping up with my monthly goals this year, especially trying to choose joy more often. My goal for April is to blog more frequently because I have a lot to say! Even though I’m a PR girl, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of scheduled blogging. So here are my rules because this is the way I think it should be across the board. But I realize I’m not the boss of you 🙂

1. I’d like Mondays to be geared toward inspirational tidbits/devotionals/whatever’s on my heart, Wednesdays to be writing- and book-related, and Fridays to be a free-for-all that can be Friday Favorites, #Friday5 (things I’m thankful for), or Five-Minute Friday writing prompts.

2. My goal is to post two of these a week, but I will never post if I’m scrounging or don’t feel like I have valuable information.

3. I will never {or at least try not to} apologize for not blogging.

My top priorities are my family, my work, and my writing. But I will work on choosing blogging over, say, binge-watching 2000s CW dramas on Netflix. Deal?

Any big plans this weekend? If you’re going to be binge-watching Netflix, I am the last person who will judge 🙂


surprised by motherhood {part 1}


The hardest thing for know-it-alls is being in unfamiliar places. Especially when others expect them to come up with answers fast.

Trust me. I’d know.

No matter how many books and articles I read or friends I tried to paduan, I was a driftwood in a vast ocean at times when I became a mother. No matter how deeply I drilled into my own mind to go into this thing without any expectations, there were moments of desperation as I held onto the ledge of my comfort zone with a shaking, one-fingered grip.

Even two and a half years in, I still learn something new about motherhood every day. I’ve learned how selfish I am. That I don’t like people (even tiny ones) telling me what to do very much. I’ve learned to appreciate my own mother more — and how!

And I learned that I’ve been going about the whole prayer thing entirely the wrong way.

I was blessed to become a mother in the social media age. A team of friends were navigating the whole motherhood thing at the very same time as I was — camaraderie and encouragement at my fingertips without ever leaving the plush depths of our powder blue rocking chair. But there as a period of time I distanced myself from them when their babies all slept and I was alone in the middle-of-the-night wasteland. Left for dead, according to my delirious, chocolate-deprived theatrics.

My baby had eczema. She ate at least every two hours until her eighth month of life. It was about that time that my spirit became as worn as the stretch of wood floor and staircase between our room and hers. When this first-time mom with no frame of reference believed the smoky whispers that this would last forever.

To survive, I had to whisper back.

Hillsong released their God is Able album that year. When my baby was full and dry and still didn’t want to sleep, I’d hum a soft version of the songs as my anthem. Swaying in the arcing rhythm my body was created for. Arms full of the tiny, sacred being God placed in my charge.

The lyrics were a constant soundtrack to drown out the desperation of those dark early morning hours when I knew I had to be awake and coherent very shortly to squeeze a stressful full-time job into the cracks of caring for a child. I repeated mantras of optimism and tried to find some positive twist to cover every doubt. But most of the time, I was pleading and bargaining and wagering to God. That I’d do anything to restore some shred of predictability in my life.

And one day, I heard a whisper that breathed warmth into my bones:

What if you stopped praying, “Please make my baby sleep,” and started praying, “Please help me function no matter how much sleep I get”?

After that, I saw God in a completely different way. I got a small, earthside, limited glimpse of His omnipotence. That little things like time and sleep and productivity and circumstances don’t matter when you’re doing His work. He operates on a completely different, miraculous currency that makes a way and helps you cross lines off the checklist and gives you energy when it doesn’t make sense.

Whether you’ve danced this dance or not, this sweeping truth applies across the board. Never forget it for one minute when you’re committed to doing the work of God, no matter how tiresome or mundane or glamorous.

He will be there when you’re clinging to your last thread of patience. His whisper of hope will echo in all of your dark, empty places. He’ll breathe joy into your lifeless, tired bones.

His arms are the ones you’ll feel in the gritty, agonizing moments. Pointing to something refreshing and new when you’ve been down the same road a million times. The same arms that shake you into consciousness when the sun’s out and the rubble has settled but you’re too scared to open your eyes to His promises. Remember this, friends:

When you are doing His work, He. is. always. faithful. Shattering-expectations faithful. 

This is part one of my Surprised by Motherhood series celebrating the release of Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book. Check out part two for my review + a giveaway that ends midnight CST Friday, April 4!

the one where I find out what I’ve been missing

I’m going to share a little piece of trivia that I don’t advertise often because it gets me shunned from the writing community:

I’m not a coffee drinker.

Never have been. My caffeine of choice is Diet Dr. Pepper, which I only indulge in as a treat, and my long hours at coffee shops are fueled by chai or herbal tea. I know.

But yesterday, I discovered what the buzz is all about. (Pun very much intended.) After a skinny vanilla latte, 3000 words = done. Wow. While I don’t think I’ll make this a habit, it’s nice to know there’s a Millenium Falcon Hyperdrive out there to jumpstart my productivity. (Star Wars nerd reference also intended.)



Moving on, there’s good news! Today marks the soft launch of, a brand new website for inspirational contemporary romance authors, which I’m privileged to be a part of!


Check it out for the latest in inspirational romance and some great giveaways!

Okay, y’all. I’m crawling back in my writing cave for awhile. I can see THE END of my first draft, and these scenes aren’t going to write themselves!


an honest (and outlined!) inventory of 2014 dreams

Happy first Monday of 2014! I hope that wherever you are, there is at least an illusion of warmth with the help of a friendly space heater or fireplace. It’s 4 degrees here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and so far this year has brought sickies to 3/3 in my house, a huge spaghetti dinner and game night with my family, and a fine balance of cleaning in the new year, laughter, and relaxation.

Resolutions? I don’t like that word, per se. But here’s what I hope 2014 will look like in my life:



JOY. As you heard in my goodbye to 2013, my One Word for this year is Joy. I’ve always been a pretty happy-go-lucky person, but in 2013, I didn’t feel precisely like myself. So my goal is to pray for joy daily (because we all know who the true Source of joy is), be intentional about choosing thankfulness over stress/bitterness, and to actively seek the bright and lovely in the mundane.

WRITING. My writing goals are simple. (*cough*) Oh boy:

  • Finish book 2. Long story short, when I put book 2 down to focus on book 1 for conference, for some reason, I honestly thought I had 50K words written. But I really had 36K and change. So for some reason, 50K has been this huge mental block for me, but I FINALLY HIT IT last night! (Random fact: my 50,000th word was “collided”) I am debating entering book 2 in the Genesis, so my “deadline” is March 15. I’d LOVE to have my first draft finished by the end of January, which would be another 20,000 words. (I add a lot in second drafts!)
  • Continue to cultivate my writing friendships. They make my writing better and help me stay sane. Or at least, they help me know that I’m not alone in the insanity.
  • Embrace the Unknowns. I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend ACFW conference this year or not. But I will as long as life doesn’t throw any unforeseen curveballs! Aaaaand I’m pretty much setting myself up for one after that, right? I also have no idea if 2014 will bring a contract. While I have no expectations other than doing all I can on my end, it would be pretty earth-shattering!
  • Finish Book 3. The story for two characters in Book 1 came to me right after ACFW conference, and I quickly jotted down a rough one-sheet for it and wrote the first three chapters since they were fresh on my mind. I love this story, though!

WORK. You know, the way I fund my writing habit. 🙂

  • Continue building freelance work. In 2013, I lost my full-time job, and I’ve been blessed with pretty steady work doing PR/social media consulting and writing webpage copy, the latter of which was brand new and daunting but turns out to be pretty fun! My specific (big, scary) goal is to publish a piece in RelevantThere. I said it.
  • Navigate and build my Google+ profile. It’s the way of the future, I’m telling you!

LIFE. Technically this is first in order of importance.

  • Remember that LIFE is first in order of importance. Pretty self-explanatory. In the pursuit of dreams, one always needs to keep her priorities in check.
  • Better time management. Less social media and procrastination. This isn’t some college blow-off class I can spin by the seat of my pants. It’s life. And it’s best done well–or at least as best as I can. I’m the kind of person who walks the fine line between detail-oriented and wing-it because I can’t deal when external variables affect my plans. There’s a balance there somewhere, though. I just know it!
  • Better self-care. Drink more water. Eat real foods. Get more sleep. Guard my thoughts. Allow myself to be all girlie and beautiful sometimes 🙂

I didn’t really think about what was going on this list. So this post is directly from my heart to your screen. And now it’s time for less talking and more doing!

Food for thought: What does your ideal 2014 look like in your life? How are you going to actively pursue that?

2013, I bid thee farewell

How would I say goodbye to the year I decided to go after my dreams? A year that brought struggles I never could have prepared for and mountaintop victories I never could have dreamed God would bless me with?

I wasn’t exactly sure. So my first order of business was to make waffles from scratch. Waffles are the answer to everything, right?

In 2013, I joined the ACFW and found my kindred spirits, brilliant flecks of glitter in all shapes and colors reflecting the same Light.

The only post-college job I’ve ever had was outsourced in May. And that was just one of the variables in my life that changed in ways I never could have prepared for.

But God has a way of showing that we were never really in control to begin with, doesn’t He? That we can feel safe no matter what happens.

My prayer for 2013 was the song “Nothing Holding Me Back” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt, the major theme of which is letting go of everything that holds you back from Jesus. But, related, the bridge is the simple refrain:

“Jesus, You make all things new”

Though I was far from perfect in the surrender department, those words resonated deeply with me this year. I experienced the death of a part of me, the part that was willing to settle for less and disguise subpar ambitions as my deepest dreams. Something beautiful grew in its place thanks to the encouragement of my God and my people.

Even though I’m over the moon about winning Genesis and signing with my top choice of agent, I still consider the biggest victory of 2013 to be pressing send on the application to join ACFW. And especially the little button that sent my manuscript off to the Genesis contest fairies. Because I almost didn’t.

Those little clicks launched a thousand braveries.  I learned what God can do in the business of my deepest dreams, and I can’t wait to see what other areas of my life He wants to transform.  I was like those early explorers, afraid of falling off the edge of a flat and finite map. But my life, like the world, is dimensional. The sphere of possibilities is endless. What this looks like remains to be seen. And I kind of like it that way.

So how do I say goodbye to a year like 2013? I think it’s easy:

Say hello to 2014. 

This year, my One Word is:


I’m greeting 2014 with a goofy smile and a big hug. I have no idea what it will look like, but my primary, overarching prayer is to rehabilitate my joy and restore it in everything I do.

2013, I happily bid you adieu for bigger, brighter, more joyful-ish things.

Do you have a One Word or any big resolutions for 2014? Any big events to look forward to?


a little mixing bowl link sampler

I’ve had this blog draft open in my Google Chrome since Monday. Four flights, 1900 miles, and the cream-filling of the weekday sandwich later, here I am. My first manuscript is edited and off to my agent. My second manuscript is up on my computer. And a first kiss scene for book three is written? Yeah, not sure where that one came from?

Here are my absolute favorite links from the last few weeks. If you missed them, here they are. Or, if you’re like me, take the chance to finally read them if you bookmarked and haven’t gone back for seconds yet!

The Unauthorized Cheat Sheet of Self-Editing Tips for Writers: Seekerville. Wow. So much gold all in one place. The best of the editing books condensed for easy reference. This is so much easier for ADD writer minds than poring through the books (though that’s eventually necessary, too!) without any idea of what to look for. Thanks, Seekerville!

Facebook is Out, But Blogging and Google+ Are In: Social Media Today. Say hello to my New Year’s Resolution: Get my Google+ up and engaging! I know social media is this weird, revolving door of constantly evolving algorithms and techniques. I know Google+ has been touted as difficult to learn and never going to catch on. But it’s very much a thing, and we’re going to learn it together. Facebook is trying to make exposure difficult for brand pages, and they are going to lose a lot since they are over-promising and under-delivering even those who pay for ad space. This article explains what’s going on behind the scenes and what to do.

Hillsong’s “Oceans (in-studio)”: RELEVANT Magazine. I absolutely love this raw studio rendition of one of my favorite songs performed by the original vocalist, Taya Smith. If you haven’t heard this song, listen now. If you have, this might be your new favorite. It’s a pure and powerful reminder.

Hope y’all are too busy to read this, that you’re getting bags packed and presents wrapped and recipes prepped to be shared at big tables full of loved ones.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off, one hand on the vacuum/dish towel/etc and my nose in the Divergent series–even though I told myself I would never, ever get hooked!

Happy Christmas!

morning announcements


the view from my kitchen

Happy December, everyone! Just wanted to pop in and share some announcements with y’all really fast. It’ll be just like second period homeroom–except there’s no pop quiz.

I’ve made this “Facebook official” already, but just in case you missed it, I’m now represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management! I could not be more honored or excited to work with Rachel, and can’t wait to share our story with you!

 Author Laurie Tomlinson

Also, I finally made my Facebook “Author Page” live this morning. If you want some more writing/book updates, I’d love it if you’d like me there!

Upcoming on the blog:

  • Talking December goals
  • My agent story + what this means for my career
  • My first giveaway!

Stay tuned! And stay warm 🙂

conference prep, book two, and other september bits


People have been saying “See you at conference next week.” Ahhhhh! So exciting!

Among other adjectives.

Though things have been quiet on this front, there’s lots going on. So for those of you who aren’t in the middle of conference prep and finalizing last-minute details–or realizing you leave in one week and just beginning–here’s an update on what’s going on in my writing world.

For my finished manuscript, I’ve written a one-sheet, a page of vital details about my book for editors’ and agents’ quick reference. It’s currently in the hands of my graphic designer best friend, waiting to be whipped into a visually-stunning masterpiece {No pressure, LJ :)} Along with it, I still have to piece together my proposal, of which I essentially have all of the components written. My synopsis and first chapters have already been edited and subjected to the blood, sweat, and tears of my critique partners. Now it’s time for the final sweep!

So, what’s this conference all about anyway?

It’s the convergence of the American Christian Fiction Writers and friends in the industry. For family and friends who have been praying, here’s what I’ll be doing at conference:

  • Finally seeing my wonderful writing friends and critique partners in person. This is what I’m most excited about! PS: More and more people are participating in our pre-conference Mix and Mingle if you want to “meet” the lovelies who are going. I’m excited to see what happens when this bunch gets together. The stories I’ve heard are legendary!
  • Meeting some of my favorite authors…or standing in the corner trying to muster the nerve to talk to them. But most likely geeking out, speaking way too fast, and posting lots and lots of pictures on Facebook. In the words of the infamous Smalls, “Don’t be a goofus. Don’t be a goofus.” I’m trying to prepare myself now.
  • Discovering new favorite authors. There’s no hope whatsoever for my To-Be-Read pile.
  • Presenting my first manuscript to at least one editor and one agent, with whom I have scheduled appointments. Somehow I know God has other unscheduled, less scripted opportunities planned. People I know have met their agents at dinner, in the hallways, at the bar after conference activities are finished for the evening, etc. I’m told to expect the unexpected, which is a conundrum for my predisposition. But I’m working on it.
  • Attending classes led by published authors and industry pros. There are classes on writing, editing, marketing, working with agents. I’m excited to bust out my inner Hermione Granger where she’s actually useful 🙂
  • Finding out the results of the Genesis competition. There’s a gala next Sunday night where we will all be dressed to the nines and the Genesis finalists will be announced. To be honest, I already feel like a winner just for hitting send on that competition. It’s already brought me so many opportunities and connected me with wonderful new writing friends.
  • Praying for peace and God’s will over my friends’ work and my work. That God would press the override button on my goals and expectations and guide me in the right direction that will accomplish His will and give Him the glory.

Yes, this conference has the ability to shape the direction of my writing career. But first and foremost, it’s an opportunity to have fun and learn a lot about the craft and industry that I love!

And what of my second manuscript?

I can’t end this post without talking about my second manuscript. Though I never know how much detail to divulge about a story in this avenue, all I can say is that I’m really excited about it. I’ve had to pull myself away from it to make sure I’m preparing my pitches for my first manuscript.

The important details: the main character is a blogger suffering from PTSD, OCD, and a general desire to control everything because of a tragic accident that happened when she was in high school. Her life, work, church, etc. is all online where she can control everything, project a much more put-together version of herself–and hide behind her keyboard. That changes when her employer forces her to become a brand ambassador for a prominent restaurant family in town, specifically, to promote their party boy son’s new restaurant. The theme of the story is healing and that many aspects of growth involve a daily process or battle or decision. I love it!

Oh, one more thing? This is the actor I’d pick to play my main character’s love interest:

Happy September, friends! It’s going to be a good one!

What are your goals for this month? Any fun (or potentially bucket-list-fulfilling) plans?

where the New Adult genre meets inspirational fiction

lauriegradYou think you know.
(But you have no idea!)

I was so excited when the lovely and brilliant collaborators of The Writers Alley posted an article about the emerging New Adult (NA) genre yesterday. While this genre has burst onto the scene in bookstores and its self-published authors are experiencing tremendous success, the CBA market has been slower to introduce New Adult titles.

When I was a new college grad eager to read for fun again after spending four years with my nose in literary anthologies, I got really into inspirational fiction’s offering for my age: chick lit. I gobbled it up and still love it, whether it’s recognized as a legitimate genre today or not. But even though I found these books entertaining, the characters weren’t precisely relatable in my current position. The feisty heroines were all around 30, established in their careers and designer stilettos, simply awaiting Prince Charming as the final puzzle piece to make their lives complete.

Meanwhile, I was grasping at straws about what I was going to do with my degree, learning that expensive piece of paper didn’t guarantee a job by any means, and realizing firsthand that the dollar doesn’t stretch as far these days.

I became aware of a huge chasm in the Church. There are books, magazines, church services, Sunday school classes geared toward teens and college students. But what about the New Adults? They’re stuck in an awkward transition between teen and adult, trying to find their place in the real world, dodging sometimes harsh realities, many shouldering responsibilities with new weight and significance for the first time.

It can be a lonely place.

So that’s the heart behind my first manuscript in a very condensed nutshell. My prayer is that it will encourage people during a very confusing transition of life and point them to the Lord for hope and wisdom when it seems every decision has the power to make or break their future.

The emergent church has made great strides to accommodate this age group in recent years, especially with a pointed focus on community/Bible study groups and the explosion of inspirational nonfiction writers and blogs. So it’s time for the Christian fiction scene to get on board.

One published author I would definitely identify as the pioneer of inspirational New Adult fiction is Erynn Mangum. In fact, a recent USA Today article reviewing her latest novel, Paige Torn, says:

I’ve heard this book referred to as YA {Young Adult}, but the ages of the characters argue with that assignment. Paige and her friends are college grads — so, if anything, this is inspy’s answer to the evolving New Adult category of romance lit. If so, keep it coming, inspirational publishers!

When I had the chance to meet literary agent and publishing guru Chip MacGregor, the first thing I asked was whether it was wise to bill this manuscript “New Adult” as I begin pitching it. His answer? An enthusiastic “Absolutely.”

Hopefully Christian leaders and publishers will continue building their efforts to reach out to New Adults in this very pivotal time of life.

#friday5 {gratefulness on a monday}

friday5(Better late than never, right?) 

This week, I’m thankful:

1) That God provides when two things on the house and two things on the car break in the same week. That even in the midst of wrecked houses, cancelled out-of-town visitors, dragging afternoons at the mechanic, and phone calls that require lots of bravery, God is still unchanging. And His love never, ever fails.

2) For this rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by the Gaither Vocal Band. I know it’s not cool or “emergent” to admit this, but I had so much fun returning to my contemporary Christian music roots with this song and the subsequent YouTube searches that resulted 🙂 No matter what your preferences, it’s undeniable that this is the way our national anthem should be done!

3) That I’ve gotten reacquainted with road running during my self-imposed Crossfit hiatus. (I got sloppy, and my shoulder is telling me to take some time off or else things are going to get ugly.) Even though it’s scorching hot outside, I’m remembering how good the pavement is for my body and soul, a feeling I haven’t had since before Allie was born!

4) For my favorite discovery this week: #1K1HR. It’s a writing sprint that challenges you to unplug all distractions, maximize your word processor, and simply write for an hour, aiming for 1000 words. It seems like there’s always someone starting on Twitter, and it’s fun to have the company. I’ve been trying to do it once a day during naptime, and it’s helped me ramp up my word counts tremendously. More on this later!

5) For one year at CityChurch. I don’t think I’ve ever grown more in a single year than this one.

I started this post on Friday, trying to keep my attitude in check as the hours stretched on at the mechanic.

As you begin a new week, what are you grateful for?

love to the acfw

At the beginning of this year, I “finished” my manuscript. Or at least the first complete version of it. (Does it ever really end?) I felt I’d tied up loose ends and filled holes in a plot that was written haphazardly, randomly, and often in reverse. I even mustered up the bravery to let my husband and a few close friends read it. And then came the million-dollar question:

What do I do next?

I’d heard about the American Christian Fiction Writers from some of my favorite authors and joined primarily so I could enter the Genesis. But it wasn’t until I stopped working full time in May that I truly realized the benefits of membership, what the community behind ACFW is all about.

You know, I could list all of the perks of ACFW, like the Loops (email subscription groups you can join for ACFW/industry news, prayer requests, writing and editing accountability, critiquing, educational courses–whatever). I could mention how cool it is to meet with other Christian fiction writers in your area at local chapter meetings or all of the resources and connections they offer, the eagerness they have to invest in your writing. But I think all of these marvelous things all boil down to one comforting realization:

There are other people out there like me!!

The writer’s life can be kind of isolating, knowing that we’re investing ourselves in fictional characters who don’t always behave like they’re supposed to. Though supportive and sympathetic, non-writers don’t always understand how involved this whole process is. How real of a connection we have with our characters. How strange it feels to be sitting in an airport or privy to a loud conversation at a coffee shop, each detail magnified and begging to be put in a story. How agonizing it when we have time to write and get nothing, yet receive an epiphany about a character’s next direction when there’s no time or computer in sight.

And the guilt. The guilt is an entirely different ballgame.

I will confess that I have broken my rule of friending people on Facebook before meeting them in real life. And I am amazed at the open-arms attitude of this organization. By the amount of people–even “strangers”–who took the time to send me an email or comment after the Genesis results.

Finally, I’m excited about how much I’ve learned in this short amount of time. The resources, the sheer amount of knowledge in this group, the accountability, and the critique partners who have adopted me have been invaluable. I’m seeing my work through an entirely different lens now, and I think that’s so important to a writer.

I would encourage you to join a reputable organization within your writing niche. Go to meetings, take the seminars, read the blog posts. The opportunities, the accountability, and the camaraderie will flat-out take you to another level.

Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

a blank page


photo by RoccoMathijn

When I finished my manuscript’s first draft a few months ago, the first order of celebration was to buy my name as a domain. Fortunately, I’m the first Laurie Tomlinson in this whole wide world to have such an inclination. As an avid book industry nerd and PR professional, I knew that if I was going to build my platform as an author (am I even allowed to call myself that yet?), this was the first logical step.

Then I asked my friend Josh to build a website for me, which I think looks pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. I compiled a website “prospectus” and started a list of article ideas.

But the website collected dust for months.

I stared at the cursor like the surface of the swimming pool from the edge of the high dive, waiting to make the big leap. I’m not sure what took me so long to write this first post, but I’m here now, and that’s what matters.

First of all, this website isn’t meant to replace The Corner Slice blog. There, I’ll still be writing (hopefully more regularly) about motherhood, intentional living, recipes, and daily adventures.

So, what are we doing here?

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re 1) my husband, 2) my mother, or 3) a friend from Facebook or Twitter. But if not, you can find out more about me by clicking here.

On this website, I plan to be writing about:

  • The writing process: my experience with writing and hopefully getting published
  • The book industry: publishing news, publicity tips, industry trends
  • Real-life character profiles: stories about people I know, love, and respect
  • Book reviews

I can tell you I’m no expert, there will be lots of trial and error involved, and my content and direction will change probably dramatically as I grow. But it’s time to stop second-guessing and overanalyzing and trying to figure things out.

It’s time to start writing. And from the girl who could revise and revise forever, it’s especially time to hit publish.