Another Amazon gift card winner

aaf45-indecisionYes, once again we have drawn from the people who have left a comment or asked a question on a Tuesday or Friday post during the month of August and the winner is…drum roll please…Linda Strawn. Congratulations Linda! You’ve won a $10 Amazon gift card. And to think, dear reader, it could have been you.

You’ll have another chance as we kick off September and Fall with the subject of heroes. Don’t forget to check out this week’s 3 Questions Wednesday interview with author and senior acquisitions editor, Barbara Scott at

The Writing Prompts Crew

Why Write About Pets?

By Betty Thomason Owens

Why would we choose to write about pets? These (usually) quadruped members of our families add so much to our lives and have become wildly popular. Why not write about them? Stroll around any bookstore or library and I guarantee you will find books about animals/pets. I’ve found several books written from the animal’s POV. Seems like a stretch, but could be entertaining, which is probably the point. Those of you who are writers may often include a pet in your stories. Why? Because most of us have them. To describe a family situation without some sort of pet is almost un-American.

An odd sort of person who lives down the hall and has not one—not two—but a dozen cats in her tiny apartment might make an interesting side character. You’d just have to provide the occasional glimpse of the character, maybe a peek at the many cats. You’d have the smell and the noise to round out your sensory points. Odd character could be an ugly old crone or a sweetly gentle octogenarian.

One of my absolute favorite movies includes several dogs owned by an old Italian man. In an incredibly cute and funny scene, he’s walking all the dogs under a gorgeous moon. Care to venture a guess? Yes, it’s the one with Cher and Nicolas Cage: Moonstruck. The dogs add so much to that movie. I’m still smiling at the memory.

Yes, I live in the Bluegrass State!

Yes, I live in the Bluegrass State!

There are dogs and there are cats and then there are…horses. Beautiful animals! Horses can be as loyal and loving as any dog. They can also be mean and/or dangerous (as can dogs). Horses figure highly in the movie industry, from National Velvet to War Horse. Who didn’t fall in love with that wonderful horse in War Horse? These are also considered pets and they can become as much a part of our life as any dog or cat, but they usually eat more and require a lot more care. And the pooper-scoopers are a lot bigger (been there…).

When writing a family style story, you want to appeal to everyone, so why not include an animal and give it humanlike characteristics. Animals tend to communicate very well through actions and eye-contact. Have you ever been stared down by a cat? I have. Have you ever been licked by a cow? That has also happened to me. I mothered a couple of calves in my youth. So cute as calves, they’re just plain scary at a thousand pounds plus, especially when they’re running at you in the pasture. They come to a dead stop directly in front of you and toss their heads. “Just kidding—snort!” Yes, they are actually quite the kidders. I’ve had my heart stop on several occasions.

When writing their characters, you can use some of the same principles as when writing human characters. They have names, hair and eye color, height and weight, distinct voices, and oh yes, instinct. Their natural instincts can get them into a lot of trouble or deliver them to hero status. They can scare off a burglar or bite the hand that feeds them. An animal can be gentled in much the same way your heroine gentles her man. And a woman’s immediate rapport with a guy’s dog is akin to a guy’s immediate affinity with a woman’s child. Oh yes, that’s great romance.

And how much fun would it be to write a Milo and Otis-type story? One of childhood’s great adventures (my guys loved it). So next time you’re mulling over a list of characters for your WIP or you want to pump-up the humor in a story, you might consider adding a pet or two into the mix. Don’t hack the job though, as they can take away or distract from the plot. It’s a little like scratch cooking. You have to know how much to sprinkle in and sometimes it’s ok to add more sugar.

In looking over our articles this month, I thought you cat owners out there might be feeling slighted, so here’s some cuteness to tickle your funny bone at These pictures prove there are some pretty clever cats out there.

If you have a few minutes, complete the prompt below or send us a comment to take part in this month’s contest. Thanks!

Friday Prompt: Numb and shaken, Doug stared at the stirrup. He’d seen this done, but had never actually ridden one of these critters. But his buddy needed help, and the horse was the quickest and best solution. So he sucked in a deep breath, grabbed hold of the pommel, stuck the toe of his boot in the stirrup, and…

A fabulous prize?

While getting our interview with Barbara J. Scott, author and senior acquisitions editor, ready for 3 Questions Wednesday, I left off a most important sentence. So I’ll post it below…

Comment to win either a free line edit of the first five pages of a manuscript or a copy of The Christian Writers Market Guide.</strong>

What a fabulous prize! Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask Barbara any question you have about writing, editing, or publishing in the Christian market.

Barbara Scott


Today we welcome Barbara Scott, author and senior acquisitions editor, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1)Do you watch reality television? Why or why not?

Barbara: I normally don’t watch reality television, because there’s nothing real about it, plus it puts writers out of work. However, I do get my dose of American Idol, and some seasons I watch Survivor, but I’m not watching this season. I prefer dramas and comedies.

(2)What are your thoughts on e-publishing?

Barbara: E-publishing is here to stay, and we either get onboard or lose an opportunity. Lots of published authors who have the rights back to their works are uploading them to Kindle and reaping the rewards. If a new writer has tried to sell their work to every agent and editor in the market, then I say go ahead and self-publish…if you want to take on the extensive work of editing and marketing your own book. Writers have lost credibility by putting unedited manuscripts into e-book formats. There’s a reason God called and anointed editors.

(3)Which do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?

Barbara: I prefer Facebook, but I have my Facebook page set so that it feeds into Twitter. I have followers on both sites.

Thank you, Barbara, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Comment to win either a free line edit of the first five pages of a manuscript or a copy of The Christian Writers Market Guide.

Barbara Scott has more than thirty years of publishing experience, ranging from newspapers and magazines to Christian books for all ages. As a senior acquisitions editor, she is credited for kicking off a well-rounded series of bestselling YA novels at Zondervan and quality, highly reviewed novels at Abingdon Press.

Barbara worked with both fiction and nonfiction authors and sold their work to numerous publishers while acting as a literary agent for WordServe Literary Group. She also is a published author, and currently, she is writing and editing under the banner of her company Heartland Editorial Management (

She partnered with best-selling authors such as Brandilyn Collins and Melody Carlson for the YA fiction line at Zondervan, and many of the authors in her fiction launch at Abingdon Press received rave reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal. Two of her authors at Abingdon Press, Cynthia Ruchti and Richard Mabry, were nominated for Carol Awards by ACFW in 2011, and Nancy Rue, one of her authors at Zonderkidz (the children’s division of Zondervan), has sold more than one million copies of her various children’s and YA series there. The fiction line at Abingdon Press exceeded all sales expectations.

Barbara’s educational background includes a M.A. in English from National University, a B.A. in English from Missouri Southern College, a Certificate in Film from the Mass Media Institute at Stanford University, a graduate-level course in child development from Calvin College, training in screen development with the Robert McKee Story Seminar in Los Angeles, and numerous sales, management, and customer service training courses.

She also posts daily tips, inspirational quotes, and encouragement for writers on her Facebook page at and on Twitter at

Debbie Malone wins!


Debbie Malone is the latest winner on Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! She will receive two e-books, Just A Little Faith and Just A Little Hope from Amy Norris. Congratulations!


Don’t miss tomorrow’s interview with author and senior acquisitions editor, Barbara J. Scott. Comment to win either a free line edit of the first five pages of a manuscript or a  copy of The Christian Writers Market Guide.