Monday, March 22, 2021

Seven Things You Can Do with Dialog - Guest blog by Mia Botha

Dialogue is a powerful, but often underutilized, tool in writing. 
Dialogue lets you move away from narration and it allows you to bring your story to life.

TOP TIP: Learn to write better dialogue with The Dialogue Workbook

Good dialogue does the following:

1. Dialogue Advances The Story 

Dialogue forces the writer to make the characters interact. When characters interact you create events and scenarios that bring them closer or further away from achieving their story goal. Get your character off the couch by making them do stuff.


‘We’re out of milk.’ – what happens when you character goes to the store?

1.     Do they run into an old acquaintance?

2.     Is their card declined?

3.     Do they get caught up in a robbery?

2. Dialogue Makes You Show 

When we only use narrative to tell our story we give our readers a secondary version of the events. When we use dialogue the story comes to life and the readers experience the events for themselves. Dialogue is one of the easiest ways to move your story from telling to showing.


Telling: Jonathan didn’t want to enroll for a business degree.

Showing:  Alison upended the third and final draw. ‘You have to know where it is. It’s your college acceptance letter. It’s your entire future.’ She rifled through the papers on the desk.

‘I really don’t know, Mom. I haven’t seen it.’ Jonathan didn’t look up. He was putting the finishing touches on his newest drawing. He held the paper up to the light. You could still see the faint outline of the logo that read Harvard Business School, but he darkened the shadow and it disappeared completely. ‘I haven’t seen the letter anywhere. Maybe Dad threw it out when threw out my sketches.’

3. Dialogue Introduces Conflict

Conflict, whether subtle or overt, is a vital part of fiction, but it doesn’t always have to be physical. Dialogue is a great source of conflict.


‘You never told me about the invitation.’ He stomped to the fridge. The bottles rattled as he yanked open the door.
Beryl took a deep breath and smoothed her skirt. ‘Yes, I did. I said that we were invited and that I accepted.’
‘Well, this is the first I’m hearing of it.’ The bottles rattled again and he slammed it once more. ‘And we’re not going.’
Beryl gathered her clutch and courage. ‘Well, then I guess this the last you’ll hear from me.’ And walked out the door.

4. Dialogue Reveals Character

How we speak reveals so much about who we are. Use your characters’ words to show who they are.


He adjusted his name tag and moved towards the customer. He needed to close at least one deal today. Aaron stuck out his hand to the nearest guy praying the hulk of a man wouldn’t crush it. ‘Aaron Bronson, pleased to meet you.’
‘Impossible.’ The man loomed overhead. ‘The Aaron Bronson I knew was  a sniveling little brat who tattled to the teacher.’
Aaron tried not to flinch as the bones in his hand cracked and groaned under the increasing pressure. ‘Jonty?’ he squeaked.

5. Dialogue Reveals The Setting 

When you use dialogue to convey setting it will help you to avoid writing long blocks of description.


Ally followed the dim pool of light as it bounced down the passage. ‘What is this place?’ She shone the torch into a room crowded with old metal beds.
‘It used to be a psych ward. They closed it down in the sixties.’
Candice sounded so nonchalant, but Ally wasn’t fooled.
‘Why are there handcuffs attached to the beds?’
‘It was a ward for the criminally insane.’

6. Dialogue Gives Information 

We need to share a lot of information with our readers. We also should vary how we present our information. Dialogue is a good tool to do that. 

Without dialogue:

He heard them coming down the passage and prayed they weren’t singing for him, but the dreary rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ limped closer and closer to his desk.

With dialogue:

‘Come on,’ someone hissed, ‘light it.’
Jeff cringed. Please don’t. Please don’t let them be coming here.
‘One, two, three.’ A staged whisper. A whiff of sulphur from the matches and then it began.
‘Haaaaa-ppppp-yyyy Birthdaaaaaaaay, dear Je-ffffffff.’
They sang. He shrunk, but they kept limping closer and closer with that off-key twang.

7. Dialogue Increases The Pace

Sometimes we need to speed up our stories and sometimes we need to slow down. Dialogue speeds up the story. Use it when you need to add a bit of a punch to your scene.


The crime scene tape fluttered in the breeze. The detectives approached the crime scene with caution and dodged the press by crossing to the other side of the street. They needed to be careful and could not afford another blunder. They were on thin ice with the captain already.


Brett glared at the journalists.
‘Vultures,’ he hissed as he crossed the street.
Don held up the crime scene and he ducked under it. The wind tugged at his notebook.
‘Can’t fuck this one up. Not again.’ Brett mumbled as he knelt next to the body.
‘Captain will kill us, that’s for sure.’

The Last Word

Dialogue is an amazing tool to enhance your writing. There are many things you can do with dialogue. When you are stuck or when your scenes seem a little flat, make your characters talk.

TOP TIP: Learn to write better dialogue with The Dialogue Workbook by Mia Botha


Hope you enjoyed this guest blog by Mia!

Spring Blessings,


Elva Cobb Martin is a mother and grandmother who lives in upstate South Carolina. She is the president of  ACFW-SC Chapter. All her Christian romance novels have spent time on Amazon's 100 Bestseller's list for Women's Religious Fiction. 

Link to her books on Amazon

Connect with Elva

Monday, March 8, 2021

Spring at My House: Writing, Baking, Gardening

  I hope and pray you are blessed and healthy this warmer month of March. Here's what's cooking at the Martin house in S.C. The tallest Chocolate Pound cake I've ever baked. Look for the recipe at the end.

Wish I knew what I did differently.    

That's not all that's cooking! Here's my book news.

Drum Roll No. 1

Grab Georgia Ann, English Rose, right now for $.99 through March 12.  (Click the redirect link if it shows up) ( :

Here's a review!


5.0 out of 5 stars A Sweeping & Majestic Tale
Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2020.  Like the first book, which you don't have to read but you should because it's also amazing, this book hooks you from the beginning! It's a majestic tale that takes you to the Barbary Coast to pirates to Tripoli to the Spice Islands to the English rule in other parts of the world in the 1700's and so many parts in between! I could write about this book for days! I loved Georgia Ann and Samuel. What they wouldn't do for each other! The level of sacrifice and love was breathtaking. Slave ships and brother-to-brother secrets plus characters that will endear you or revile you! I just never wanted the book to end! Sometimes you never knew which character was friend or foe. I could easily see this book become a movie because it was so "sweeping" in nature! Spanish Galleons riding the open seas being taken over by pirates and sultans in Tripoli with harems but always, the main characters having a strong faith when they are in terrible circumstances! I loved every word of this book and highly recommend it!

Drum Roll No. 2
The publisher of my first two novels, Summer of Deception and the prequel, In a Pirate's Debt, are honoring their Barrett family connection at a  special sale. Click for your copies March 6-13 at $.99 each.  (click redirect link if it shows up)

The Barretts of Charleston (2 book series)

Set in the beautiful and historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, follow the Barrett family from the days of Captain Lucas Bloodstone Barrett, a pirate in the 1720s, to his descendant, former Marine Special Ops member Luke Barrett, owner of his family's working tea plantation. Prepare for breathless adventure and romance to make you swoon!

The Barretts of Charleston

Elva's Tall Chocolate Pound Cake
Set oven to 325 F. Grease and flour large tube pan.

2 Sticks butter (or substitute 1 cup Crisco)
1/2 cup Crisco
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sour cream
4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tablespoon almond flavoring

Use large mixing bowl. Mix butter, Crisco and sugar, adding eggs one at a time. Add flavorings.  Measure flour and cocoa and sift together. Add flour mixture a cup at a time and alternate with milk.

Spoon dough into tube pan and place in oven on middle rack. Place a square or cake layer pan filled 1/3 full of water in top right corner. This is supposed to help stop deep cracks in the top of cake, but you see I still had a few, happily not too deep. ( :

Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Turn down to 300 degrees and bake one hour. When toothpick is inserted in the middle and it comes out clean, the cake is done. 

Let set about 10-15 minutes, then turn out on a bread rack, and I cover with plastic cake topper to keep cake moist while cooling. Then I transfer it to a cake plate. Usually, however, hubby and I take a warm slice while still on the rack! Once completely cool, this cake can be sliced into about 2 dozen slices, individually wrapped in waxed paper, inserted into two freezer gallon bags and frozen with great results. It is still delicious and moist when taken out as needed. 

Here's something I'm watching grow these days--my Lupin flower seedlings I'll plant outside after the last frost. 

Onward into Spring, my fave season!


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Do You Trust Me? Guest blog by MaryLu Tyndale

 Do You Trust Me? Says the Lord. It's Time to Prove It!

Posted: 18 Jan 2021 12:30 AM PST


 I've been talking to the Lord a lot lately, and like many of you, I feel like something big is right around the corner. Perhaps this week, perhaps not, but something evil lurks on the horizon. Recently I've had the sense that the Lord is saying that it's time for His people to prove that they actually believe the Words they have recited in the Scriptures for years and years. It's so easy to sing worship songs about trusting God and how faithful He is, and quite another to be put in a situation where you have no food, shelter, or water and your life is in danger AND then to trust God. I'm not saying things will get that bad, but I'm saying from what I'm hearing our lives here in America will never be the same. 
Before the faithful few who follow Jesus are rescued from this place, we may see some hard times. This is how the Lord separates the wheat from the chaff, the true believers from the false, the ones who know their God from the ones who play church. Which are you?
It's okay to feel fear. It's a natural emotion that we cannot help. But it's what we do with that fear that matters. Do we bring it to the Lord? Do we get into His Word and claim His promises over us and our families? Or do we sink deeper into a quagmire of despair and doom? 

The Lord Jesus asks you now

Do you believe I will protect you from the evil one?   
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.  2 Thessalonians 3:3
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you Luke 10:19 

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord
. Isaiah 54:17
Do you believe that I will always be with you and will never leave you
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6
For the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’  Deuteronomy 20:4
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.
 Isaiah 46:4
Do you believe I will give you strength and uphold you
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10
Do you believe I will deliver you from ALL your troubles
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;  Psalm 34:19
Do you believe I AM your refuge
 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1 
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.  Psalm 57:1
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10-12
Do you believe that I will preserve your life in the midst of trouble
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.  Psalm 138:7 
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2
Do you believe I will save you from all your enemies?
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.  “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.  2 Samuel 22:3-4 
 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Psalm 23:4-5 
And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!  2 Timothy 4:18 
Do you believe I will keep you from harm and watch over your life?
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;  the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.  Psalm 121:3-8 
Do you believe I AM for you and can conquer all your enemies?
What then shall we say to these things? If God  is for us, who can be] against us?  Romans 8:31
So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:6 
These are only a FEW of the many promises of the Lord to protect His children. How do we know we are His children? Because we love Him and follow Him and His Spirit cries out within us that we are His. 
So when things start to fall apart and you begin to fear, the best thing to do is read over these Scriptures (and others!)  and not just read them, but recite them out loud. Remind the Lord of His promises! Remind Him He said He would never leave you and that He would help you through ALL your troubles. Remind Him! He loves to honor His Word!
I hope this has brought you some comfort and peace in the midst of the storm. I encourage you to either bookmark this page or jot down these Scriptures and have them handy.   

And keep looking up!  The worse things get, the closer we are to our seeing our Prince!
Howdy Friends,
Hope this encouraging word from MaryLu blesses you today!
I would add:

We (the church) have the tremendous power to agree in prayer and CHANGE ANYTHING. Don't neglect your church family and the power of our agreeing prayer.  Matt. 18:19


Elva Cobb Martin is a mother and grandmother who lives in upstate South Carolina. She is the president of  ACFW-SC Chapter. All her novels have spent time on Amazon's 100 Bestseller's list for Women's Religious Fiction. 

Link to her books on Amazon

Connect with Elva