Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Audra Harders


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Scammed? Not Me!

Scammed? Not Me!


Hello everyone! Audra here.

The Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. Such a wonderful, creative invention shared with the world to help and inform us on everything from shopping to research to socializing! It has given us the ability to reach out and touch new friends – like you! 

However, this familiarity has also created a breeding ground for scammers and nogoodniks (as my dad would say). Online scams take many forms, including phishing emails, fake websites, fraudulent advertisements, and malware attacks. As much as you think it might not happen to you, believe me, scams can worm their way into lives before you realize it.

  1. Stay vigilant:

The first step in avoiding online scams is to be aware that they exist. Scammers use sophisticated techniques to trick people into giving away personal information or money, and they can be very convincing. Be wary of any unsolicited emails or messages that ask for personal information or money. Remember the old adage: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  1. Use trusted websites:

When shopping online or using other services, make sure you use trusted websites. Look for the padlock icon in the address bar. Many hosting services offer SSL for free and stand behind the domains they host. Check the website's privacy policy and terms and conditions to ensure that your information is being handled properly. Always deny access to cookies except for the most necessary.

Scammed? Not Me!

  1. Keep your software up to date:

Keeping your computer and other devices up to date with the latest software updates and security patches can help protect you from online scams. Scammers often target older software with known vulnerabilities. By keeping your software up to date, you can minimize the risk of being targeted by these types of scams.

  1. Be careful with email attachments and links:

Phishing emails often contain attachments or links that can download malware onto your computer or take you to a fake website designed to steal your information. Always be careful when opening email attachments or clicking on links, especially if the email is from an unknown sender. More on this in a little bit.

Scammed? Not Me!

  1. Use strong passwords:

Using strong passwords is an essential step in protecting yourself from online scams. Avoid using simple passwords that can be easily guessed or hacked. Instead, use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to create a strong password. Password managers are available to help you remember your passwords and generate strong passwords for you. Personally, I don’t use these services and prefer to write my passwords in a notebook, not on my computer.

  1. Don't overshare on social media:

Be careful about the information you share on social media. Scammers can use information you post online to target you with personalized scams. Talk about the rotten neighbor at the block party! For as much as you want to share all the fun and memorable events with others, think about creating identities for you and your family that can’t be traced easily. Avoid posting personal information, such as your full name, address, or phone number, on social media. Also, be cautious about accepting friend requests from people you don't know.

Scammed? Not Me!

  1. Watch out for fake charities:

Scammers often use natural disasters or other tragedies to set up fake charities and solicit donations from unsuspecting victims. Go to the charity directly rather than through the proffered link. Research a charity before donating to ensure that it is legitimate. Look for information about the charity's mission and their history.

  1. Trust your instincts

Finally, trust your instincts when it comes to online scams. If something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive an email or message that asks for personal information or money, take a moment to think before responding. Don't be afraid to ask for more information or to verify the sender's identity before taking any action.

Scammed? Not Me!

I have a true story to share - the one that inspired this post. It started with a conversation with a woman wanting to purchase some land I had inherited in Lithuania. THAT is a long story (for another time!). These people had done their research - unfortunately for me - and I felt they were legitimate. It wasn’t until I checked out the links she had included in an email that I realized it was a con.

I immediately shut down my computer, but knew it was too late to avoid any malware that might have been downloaded. The next day, I tried to schedule an appointment with my Geek Squad (using that laptop) to have them look through my computer. There was a curious blip on the screen that should have flagged my brain that something was up, but oh nooooo, I cruised ahead and talked to a nice lady - dressed in Geek garb - about using a remote clean up. Let’s not relive the entire sordid affair, but once I realized Geek Care was not Geek Squad, I had already allowed them access to my drive.

I repeat, it was a tiny blip on my screen but that was long enough for them to redirect me to their scam site. 

I took my computer (physically) to Geek Squad, explained this scam happened on their site and left it to their techno-gurus to fix. They were backlogged and said it would take 3 to 4 days to finish. I didn't care; I just wanted it fixed! When I returned to pick it up the next day, they explained a tech had completed a project ahead of schedule and picked up my ticket. He or she spent 10 hours cleaning up my drive. They uninstalled and installed some apps, ran deep diagnostics, and updated my security.

10 hours to clean up planted malware!

I thought I knew all about scams. I had attended numerous trainings on the subject while I worked for the County - we had hands-on sessions. I regularly take my computers in for tune-ups. My son constantly harps on all of us to avoid the traps I had fallen into. Despite all these precautions, a scammer got lucky. 

None of us are immune.

The adage of “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” is one to burn in your gray matter, no doubt. BUT, sometimes we need to be vigilant with our tried and true sites, as well. There was a time when being skeptical wasn’t a welcome trait. Unfortunately, the world around us requires us to be vigilant whether we want to or not.

How about you? Are you ready to fight the good fight and keep the scammers at bay? Has anyone fallen prey to a scam that caught you in the blink of an eye? Let's share. Maybe through our experiences, we can help others before it happens.

~   ~   ~

Scammed? Not Me!
Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:



Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)

I’ve just returned from my first writers conference of the year, Write In The Springs (WITS), hosted by ACFW Colorado Springs chapter. I’ve attended this conference many times over the years and have never been disappointed. This year, the location of the conference was Glen Eyrie Conference Center located close to the Garden of the Gods. 

I pinch myself every time I visit Glen Eyrie, it’s a tiny touch of heaven on earth. I mean, who wouldn’t want to explore a nineteenth century castle (they offer guest rooms in the castle, but my budget isn’t in that range), stroll across acres of maintained grounds, snap pictures of a resident herds of mountain goats, a flock of turkeys and the ever-present deer? The location is a definite draw for this conference, but the speakers each year make it a must-go for me.

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)
Glen Eyrie Castle Conference Center

Couple this beautiful setting with the amazing Melanie Dobson as our speaker, and all the attendees enjoyed a day and a half of incredible immersion into the world of fiction writing.

If you’ve been penning word to page for any length of time at all, you’ve probably attended workshops on all the prerequisite topics for successful novel writing. Structure, plotting, setting, etc, right? Since my writing resume extends over decades, I think I have a solid grasp of technique and concept, but I continue to attend conferences and workshops to gain as many new nuggets of wisdom as I can to tuck away in my toolbox. 

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)

Melanie Dobson is not only prolific in her writing career, but she also has the gift of presenting mundane topics and making them spring to life. Her enthusiasm is contagious. We spent an afternoon studying characters and characterization and within the first 1/2 hour, I’d already scribbled down more notes on bringing characters to life than I can remember. That same zeal carried through the next day as we tackled questions about what made books and movies successful, how to pull emotion from readers, and leave them wanting your next book.

I must confess, I came to this conference looking for some method of bringing the male protagonist of my current WIP to life. Using a combination of power point, movie clips, book quotes, and her own warm, unique style of presentation, Melanie Dobson shared ideas and techniques for bringing characters alive on the page that had me experiencing V-8 moments again and again. At the end of the afternoon, I no longer had a 2-dimensional character composed of values and traits, but a vivid, 3-dimensional hero who was ready to fight for his ideals, as well as the woman he loves.

As Melanie Dobson reminded us every step of the way, God is in the details. God gifts us stories. We do not have to walk through the writing process alone. God will see us through, if we only let Him.

Pray for your plot. Pray for your characters. Pray for your words. God listens.

Powerful stuff, that. 

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)
Melanie Dobson

No conference is all work, right? The fun of attending conferences is meeting new peeps and reuniting with old friends. As we all know, and most prefer, writing is a pretty solitary endeavor. Let’s face it, if we were surrounded by our fellow writers all the time, we’d be talking story, piecing together plots, building the perfect characters, etc, oohing and aahing over all the ideas and never get our stories written. 

So, when we get together for a day or a week, we work hard, stretch our brains, incorporate new ideas and techniques. But after the learning is tucked away for the day, free time offers the opportunity to go to the local hangout and enjoy great food.

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)
Friday Night Fun - WITS

When you look at this photo, you’ll see dishes lining one side of the table. The restaurant was busy since it was Friday night and it just so happened that everyone on one side of the table were served first. And then we waited. And waited. Finally the rest of the dishes arrived, but in the meantime we dubbed this photo the “haves and the have nots.”

Roaming around the castle and the grounds, I couldn’t resist seizing a photo op of my own. Have I mentioned that my new series is historical? That visiting a castle segues right into my setting brainstorming? That touching antiquity and breathing in the fragrance of time gone by dusted my imagination with possibilities? 

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)

Have you attended any conferences or workshops lately? I’d love to hear about them. Let's talk! 

Remember, the ACFW conference will be held August 24 - 27 this year at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch in St. Louis, MO. Talk about a great time to learn, network, and make new friends!!

~ ~ ~

Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)
Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who
haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:



Writing Emotional Fiction

Writing Emotional Fiction

“You are never too old to learn more than you already know and to become able to do more than you already can.” -Isaac Asimov

Hello, Everyone! Audra here.

No matter how long you’ve been writing, there’s always something new you can learn. I’ve been scribbling stories since elementary school. Obviously a romantic at heart because even then, my stories were based on love with HEA. My high school creative writing teacher told me I had better come up with something better than the “sap” I’d been turning in if I expected to get an A in her class! (BTW, a simple, short hiaku, that left me no room for sap, earned the A…go figure).

Anyway, as I was saying, learning is a lifelong endeavor. If you just complete the first draft of your first novel, or celebrated the 50th published work, there are always methods and techniques to be explored. Or reviewed. Or studied. If we don’t make an effort to continuously hone and experience our writing, our work might go the way of so many authors I’ve read recently who pump out series stories at the rate of light and sound. One particular series of 7 books - from an author I’d discovered through BookBub - made me think about not finishing the series by the end of book 4, but I was invested in the setting and the potential (and I had already prepaid for the entire series), so I skimmed through the remaining books and then unclicked the “follow” button on Amazon.

What drove me to do that? Predictable plot; cookie cutter characters; inevitable lack of tension.

We put a lot of time, effort and, well, us, in our books. We don’t want people to unclick “follow.” We want them to wait eagerly for our next work.  

So friends, we need to stay up with the current plot topics, desirable locations for settings, AND most of all... 

Writing Emotional Fiction

I belong to a writer’s group that meets monthly. Since COVID, we alternate our meeting between virtual and in-person. Every other month, I drive to the in-person meeting where we’ve chosen a craft book to be read over two months and then we discuss it at our next meeting, and then put into action some of the techniques at the following meeting (January - April, June - August, October - December). 

We are currently studying a Donald Maass book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction. Now, I’ve read Donald Maass books in the past and always thought them dense with information and opinion - a real slog-fest, if you know what I mean. I know I've burned calories just trying to comprehend the nuggets of wisdom he buried in the text. 

Writing Emotional Fiction
on Amazon

This craft book was different. I think the Don relaxed a bit in his tone and technique because for as much as I procrastinated reading the assignment, I found the book easy to navigate and remarkably astute.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned:

In Chapter 3: The Emotional World, he points out we experience life as feelings. Shouldn’t our characters, as well? We’ve all heard and understood the wisdom of getting to know our characters before we drop them into their own world, right? But do we really? Have you truly had a heart to heart with H/H and discovered their fears, their triumphs, their insecurities, all the life struggles they’ve endured up to the point where you write the first sentence of your book? 

  • When we bring our characters’ true feelings to the surface, we may connect with a tiny spot of truth within the reader. 
  • When we share a bit of ourselves with the reader through our characters, we are adding that human element to our story that only a human author can endow. 
  • When our characters respond to conflicts and triumphs throughout the plot as their upbringing (perhaps yours?) has shaped them, we engage on a whole new level of relate-ability with the character.

In Chapter 5: The Emotional Plot, Maass points out even airtight plots can fail to engage the reader emotionally. The reader needs personal stakes to make the story matter. Establish the inner need or yearning that drives the character early in the book. 

Let the reader know the inner and outer journey of the character comes from an emotional place deep inside them. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in each and every novel you write. After all, how can these characters come up with the EMOTIONS to carry a novel when they don’t have any experience?

In Chapter 7: The Writer’s Emotional Journey, underscores how important it is to our characters and our books, to draw on our own rich experiences in life. If you don’t think the inner you has a way of shouldering its way on to the page, you have another think coming! Your mood, your experiences color your novels more than you realize. Your morals, your virtues, your spirit bleeds through the themes of your books whether you recognize it or not.  

I want to share with you the last paragraph of Chapter 7, page 201 paperback:

Writing Emotional Fiction
The Emotional Craft of Fiction

Hope is the core gift we give our reader. If you are an author writing romantic fiction, isn’t hope the best gift you can ever offer your readers?

Yeah, I’ve been accused of being sappy and writing it. Thank you very much! I’m the self-proclaimed Queen of Sap and I embrace the title completely. 

How about you? How are your emotions and experiences showing in your novel?

*   *   *

Writing Emotional Fiction
Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born, and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:


Creating a Series from an Old Story


Creating a Series from an Old Story

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone!! Audra, here. I hope Punxsutawney Phil DOES NOT see his shadow! It's time for warm weather to blow across Colorado again!

Anyway, frigid temps aside, it seems like an eternity since I’ve written something new for a book. And it’s all coming back to me now:

·         The characters

·         The setting

·         The conflicts

And countless other details.

I guess you know you’re chosen to be an author when no matter how hard you try to put writing behind you, stories always seems to find a way of creeping back into your mind, winding through your heart and eventually, hijacking your fingers (or voice if you dictate) demanding attention.

I have a story – a series really – that has followed me for at least two decades. I found a floppy disk containing my first venture into this story with the title and date neatly printed on the yellow plastic.


Creating a Series from an Old Story

Someday I’ll try and access that disk, when I find a floppy reader and have access to a WordPerfect program. It’s not necessary, though. I know exactly how I framed that story back then – dark, mysterious, aloof – exactly how the historical romance writers of the time wrote their bestsellers.

I’ve revisited this series from time to time with little luck in finding a voice and a tone that felt right. Until now.

I’ve opened up a new binder in Scrivener and have begun working on a new series reflecting my old concept.  You might think “wow, piece of cake! The book is essentially written. All I need to do is tweak here and there and I’m done!” Mmm, not so easy. You see, all those years of simmering behind the scenes has led to many changes in my characters and the series itself. I talked about brainstorming ideas for this story/series back in October. In just a couple of days, I had brainstormed and outlined 6 novellas to accompany the original novels.

Fast forward to present day

I’ve started a new binder for my series. I’ve incorporated all my notes so I have everything all in one place. I’ve even scrounged around and found photos of characters to rekindle inspiration.

Creating a Series from an Old Story
I use Moleskin for my daily planner. For my "bullet journal," I use any dot paper notebook I can find that's cheap!!
Ready! Set! Go! Let’s write! Right? WRONG!

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years of reading, writing, workshops, conferences, etc, it’s that you have to have a plan. Not the plan for your character arcs or black moment, or all the other elements of story.

There needs to be a plan in place for your SERIES.

A series needs a blueprint just as much as the first novel. Think about your favorite author and your favorite series. Beloved characters and villains probably made guest appearances in stories beyond their own. Settings contained consistent details. Seasons and fashions progressed with the stories. All of  these details go into a Story bible, but the creation of those details requires insight and vision. Let’s look at a couple of blueprint points.


When I think about my series of novels, I have 3 books, each occurring in succession with circumstances based on outcomes of the previous book. That’s a relatively easy timeline to realize. Incorporating historical events aside, I’ll need a simple timeline to make certain seasons, holidays, schedules, etc all coincide.

When I look at my 6 novellas that compliment my first book, they all happen simultaneously. I am looking at a period of a week where I have dozen primary characters interacting with each other and, at times, the characters of the featured novel. AND, the dozen primary characters all have their own conflicts and desires that sometimes clash with their love interest and characters not necessarily involved in the novella I’m working on. Do I need to know where all these characters are at all times? Yes, I do!

Creating a Series from an Old Story


Let me start by saying, I’ve never been a big one to fill out the routine hair color, eye color, height, etc forms. When I write a book, I’m dealing with 2 primary characters, and I can pretty well look at their pictures and visualize the scene. When I start thinking about a series of novellas that all wrap up in the same week, I better keep in mind which character has the green shawl, the silver reticule, the blue satin slippers. This may be a large estate, but people will interact and personal affects from one character’s situation in one book must show up in another book if the detail is noteworthy to any extent.

Creating a Series from an Old Story


In a prior lifetime, I was a licensed interior designer. Blueprints and creating purposeful environments are still second nature to me. I love researching the layout of an old manor house to see how I can modify it for my purposes. Creating presentation boards remains a tool I use to keep me in sync with the setting of any project. It’s fun; it’s creative; it’s essential.

Creating a Series from an Old Story

These are just a few story points in keep in mind when formulating your next series. Or even, stand-alone book if you have a lot of details to keep straight. Create your own “binder” either by hand or using writing program like Scrivener.

Truth is, I’m not an organized person. I was desperate. I’ve modified Plato’s famous quote to fit: 

Desperation is the mother of invention.

I’d love to hear how you keep story details ordered and accessible. Let’s brainstorm!!

Creating a Series from an Old Story
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 RSV

Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:


Choose Your One Word Wisely

by Audra Harders

Hello Friends, and Happy New Year!

Many writers have joined the trend to choose a One Word for the year. The One Word represents something they wish to change, accomplish or a multitude of other reasons particular to that person, for the year. 

Instead of talking about my One Word choice for this year, I’d like to share with you my word for last year and how my life surprisingly revolved around it. My One Word for 2022 was:

Choose Your One Word Wisely

When I chose the word, I knew I was at a crossroads for many things - family, faith, future. Nothing was meshing together for me any longer so I needed to “defrag” (a button I push on my computer frequently to clean up my harddrive) my brain and my life. I chose this word at the beginning of December 2021 when my local writing friends and I got together to reflect on the year and plan the next.

GENESIS did not wait to step into action!

Over the New Year weekend 21-22, Boulder County experienced a massive wildfire that wiped out two towns almost to entirety. In my office - due to a mass EXODUS of co-workers during 2021 - I was the only person able to update our Extension website for our office with resources to help the multitude of people affected by this disaster. My reasons are many, but this event triggered my decision to retire from the day job a year earlier than planned. I was mentally tired and the thought of doing the job of 2 or 3 people until vacancies could be filled was the impetus for telling my director on January 3, I planned to retire at the end of March.

Without financial income. Without a plan for my future. Without a net.

But I did have the blessing of my husband and kids. And the quiet blessing of my Lord who removed all anxiety over the decision.

My year of GENESIS had begun.

Choose Your One Word Wisely

I will not bore you will all the personal blessings I discovered throughout the year - oh my, I think you’d click off this post and go “phew, enough of that!” LOL!! But I would like to describe my writing GENESIS.

As I said, I didn’t have game plan other than enjoying freedom, spending time with my loving aunt (the last of the older generation on both sides of my family), and regrouping to kickstart my writing career.

Well…the first two were accomplished easily enough. The writing? The more I tried, the more confused and frustrated I became.

I wanted GENESIS to cover my writing - a career I’d put on hold for so many reasons.

But, the words and inspiration would not come.

I didn’t fight it, though I was deeply disappointed. Instead, I turned to books written by authors I loved and respected, and discovered works by new authors fed to me through BookBub.

Choose Your One Word Wisely

Over the past couple of years, I had created a fictional town in the mountains of Colorado. I had planned to work on that series. Contemporary inspirational romance.

But my tastes in reading had honed in on historical romance - mainly the Victorian era. I gobbled up story after delightful story and discovered a nugget of desire to research the time period.

By the end of summer, I had gathered together the research and works of a series I had created at the start of my writing journey oh so many years ago. Originally, the series was set in the Regency era, but I had a strong desire to set the books in Victorian times. 

Frankly, nothing was making sense about this entire change of heart. Though two of my original books had won numerous unpubbed contests - including the GENESIS (ACFW contest for Unpublished writers) - I couldn’t really figure out what to do with the stories to fit into my new inspiration.

Choose Your One Word Wisely

And then I attended the ACFW conference with one of my local writing buddies in St. Louis, MO. That’s where it all changed. I found my direction. 

I had one of the most incredible GENESIS moments of all.

At that conference, we prayed together in the hotel room for wisdom and guidance in writing and all aspects of life. 

The ideas started flowing.

I filled pages of my notebook with handwritten plots and characters.

I mapped how the series would flow together.

I came home with 7 plotted novellas that stemmed from the over-arcing novel that would pull the entire adventure together.

Choose Your One Word Wisely

This entire post took you through my year with a One Word I’d hoped to use to renew my spirit. It did that and so much more. 

If you ascribe to the One Word beacon of fulfillment for the year, I recommend you pray over it and choose wisely. Always remember, the Lord has plans for you. Do not disregard His path when you grow weary along the way. He’s chosen you for special things. Accomplishments in His Name so special we’ll be humbled by His faith in us.

He will rejuvenate your spirit as He did mine.

He will lead you.

He will never leave you.

Oh, and by the way, my One Word for 2023 is DISCERNMENT. I’ll let you know how that goes next January!

Do you have a One Word? Share and let’s talk about how it might shape your year! 

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 RSV

Choose Your One Word Wisely
Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:


Loving the Advent Season

Loving the Advent Season

Merry Christmas, all. Audra Harders here!

First of all, I have to ask, where did the year go? Last time I looked, I was complaining about the hot summer, and then loving our long, beautiful fall...

We celebrated Thanksgiving on so many levels. My daughter had moved to South Dakota in April for a job. We were delighted she made it back for Thanksgiving after a bout with COVID had put that plan in jeopardy. My sweet aunt celebrated her 90th birthday while we were all gathered for Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a golden tiara and sash. I only had to re-bake the cheesecake I was bringing to the dinner once. It was all so good!!

And now, we're at the beginning of the most celebrated season by all. 

Loving the Advent Season

I love the Christmas season with all its shiny ornaments, holiday giving, beautiful caroling. I love that the radio stations I listen to in the car are playing Christmas music. I love saying "Merry Christmas" to all I meet, whether they respond in kind or not. 

With my whole heart, I love celebrating the birth of our dear Saviour. In addition to reading full books and studies, I tend to play a lot of Bible and devotional bingo. In my mind, when I ask the Lord to lead me in my studies, I don't want to follow my own preconceived path. So I pull out books and let them fall open on my lap. There are times I almost cry when I read the message for the day and realize how opportune it is for my life at that very moment.

Lately, my readings have centered around God's great mercy and grace for us. How much He loves us. How relevant His Word is for us today as it was 2000 years ago. 

Loving the Advent Season

This season, I'm dusting off some of my very rusty talents in baking and will be assembling goody trays for neighbors and friends - That I Have Baked Myself! Goodness, I hope we still remain friends after they've tasted my efforts!! LOL!

I ventured online for some ideas and I really want to share this quick bread with you. I found it on the Martha Stewart site, but the recipe was submitted by Jane Kraemer. Jane, I can't tell you enough how this bread came off delicious for me on my very first try! I say that because living at 5600 ft, baking gets a little wonky until you adjust the flour and timing to suit.

Anyway, I offer you my - by way of Jane - new favorite quick bread!

Loving the Advent Season

Cranberry-Walnut Bread


2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan (I spray the loaf pans)

2 cuts all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 large egg (room temp)

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour and 8 1/2-by-4 1/2 inch loaf pan*; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add egg and beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until combined (dough will appear very dry). Reduce speed to low; beat in orange zest and juice. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.

Spread batter in prepared pan(s), smoothing top. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour (tent with foil if top is browning too quickly). Cool in pan 10 minutes; run a knife around edges of loaf, and invert onto a wire rack. Turn top side up; cool completely before slicing.

*I use 3-4 mini loaf pans so I can slice and create trays. Watch the time as they bake a tad faster.

This recipe also doubles very well. I've baked many of these mini loaves over the past week - letting them cool, wrapping them in plastic wrap and then sealing them in freezer bags. I've stacked them in my freezer along side spice loaves and banana bread loaves. If the price of meat gets too high, well, we won't go hungry!!

My favorite movie? A Charlie Brown Christmas is at the top of the list. That's the one we watch as a family every year since my kids first watched it. As for my personal happies, I like to snuggle down in a chair flanked by our Corgies, a mug of decaf peppermint mocha coffee in my hands and the channel tuned to Great American Family. Here's a link to their Christmas movies:

God bless you all through this beautiful season!!

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops

Hi Everyone, Audra here.

I heard an interesting analogy on the radio as I was driving to my monthly writers' meeting. The piece started with, “Would you serve prime rib to an infant?” it continued with “if you’re learning to swim, would you compare yourself to Michael Phelps?” There were other comparisons along the way, but you get the picture. Most logical people would smile and shake their heads with an enthusiastic, "Of Course Not!"

Children must grow and nourish their bodies through development phases until the brain and taste buds can appreciate the food placed before them. The novice swimmer must “pay their dues” in the water swimming laps, developing muscle control, perfecting strokes, and a multitude of other fitness exercises.  

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops
Photo by Benjamin Wong on Unsplash

But such is not always the case where writers are concerned.

As writers, we’re intelligent people, right? So why do we compare our accomplishments as writers to others? Is it because we all know how to speak English? Is it because we've taken composition all through school? Is it because of our love of creative writing? Because we're avid readers?

We, authors, are very delicate creations. Our psyches are fragile, all in tune with the passionate stories that play in the fertile fields of our minds. When I say passionate, I’m not talking romantic, even though romantic fiction is my thing. I’m alluding to the creative gift God has placed in our hearts. Those stories that are so real to us that we have to write them.

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

I could go down the path of emotional attachment to our storylines, characters and words, but that’s not what this post is about. 

I want to focus on the muscle development of our brains. The skills honed through repeated practice and revision. The unfolding of our talents as we work hard at our craft. 

As the only child of immigrant parents, I was often left to my own devices as my parents worked long days to get ahead in their new country. My dad read Bible stories to me every Sunday afternoon and my love of reading was born. Stories equaled adventure! All through school I gravitated toward creative writing, pouring my emotions onto the page and into my characters’ lives.

My high school creative writing teacher labeled me "sappy." Though probably meant as an insult, I embraced it. I loved romance even back then! 

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

After I married and our children arrived, I became a stay-at-home mom. I tried my hand at writing a romance novel. 

18 years later, my first novel was published.

Before a second book could be published, I returned to the world of day job.

16 years later, I’m returning to my first love - writing.

That’s 34 years of story scribbles, yucky writing, writing workshops, writing organizations, multiple typewriters and computers, rejections, rewrites …

All that angst spent becoming an author remained in brain, but with disuse, the term sagging middle applied to everything about me, including the body of my stories! I’m rebuilding my writing muscles by writing something everyday.

My lyrical story-telling skills are slowly returning after years of writing administrative narrative.

My confidence in writing active scenes is building with every to-be verb I identify and replace.

Writing fiction is hard work. It requires mental stamina and digging deep into your well for that personal/emotional touch only you can give your story. 


As an author, you never stop learning about your craft. At the ACFW conference this year, I continued to gain insight into what makes an author.

The authors I talked to all said they have a set a schedule for writing. They treat it as a business. There is a goal they reach every day ranging from 500-1000 new words a day, or completing a scene, or revisions, etc. At least 5 days a week. Every week.

That dedication builds those creative muscles, lubricates the skill joints, keeps the inspiration and creative juices flowing.

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops
Adobe stock licensed 

Hmmm, seems we've circled back to Prime Rib, LOL!

We’ve got to work for our success. We’ve got to be dedicated writing-gym members who set aside time to keep our writing brains alert and in shape just as much as our bodies.

I’ve always been opposed to the theory of “butt-in-chair-every-day” even if you don’t feel the love. I’ve discovered, it’s not so much about the feeling the love in the story I’m working on, but rather, keeping the rhythm and practice in place each day.

In my writing group this month, we talked about morning pages. You’ve heard of them, right? Sit down every day and scribble away in a notebook for however many minutes or pages you subscribe to. The thought of writing for just dumping words out of your brain never appealed to me. I avoided it like the plague.

BUT, as one clever friend in our group offered, how about revamping the morning pages routine to help you with an area of your book where you are stuck? 

Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

That next day, I opened a notebook and wrote down a problem area which happened to be historical nouns describing a character with a love of plants. My goal was to fill up a page with descriptive words and actions and phrases that I could turn to when I might be stuck in a scene with this character.

“Morning pages” suddenly took on a whole new meaning and offered a challenge with a tangible reward.

This is all part of your work out. Your muscle building. Your skill-building, talent-digging, prose-loving conditioning you need to succeed.

And when you’ve completed your task, reward yourself with prime rib...or a swim.

How about you? What keeps your internal writing machine honed? Leave a comment for a random drawing of a sweet little Thanksgiving gift.

Retirement Pt 5, New Beginnings

Hi Everyone! Audra here.

Thanks for following along on my journey into retirement from the day job. Retiring due to age gifting you the right isn’t as easy as people believe. There are pitfalls that occur as we change our years’ honed routines into a world of self-made decisions:

Time Management



Health and Exercise

Still, for those who looked forward to the time when you can make your own schedule and pursue long-awaited hobbies, volunteering activities, devoting more time to family and friends, or (fill in the blank), these bumps in the road aren’t anything for alarm. With a bit of concentration and effort, you too will be ready to live the dream.

Retirement Pt 5, New Beginnings
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Speaking of living the dream, my life now dreams of picking up where I left off in my writing career and has captured a spot on my Prayer Hit Parade. Funny thing, prayers – God has a way of answering them, even though the particular scenario He chooses isn’t exactly how you’d envisioned the answer when you submitted the prayer.

You see, I started writing for publication a looooooong time ago. I prayed the good Lord saw favor with my work. He did. I began to win contests. I prayed He’d steer me to the right editor and publisher. He did. I was honored to join with other contest-winning, contract-driven, God-loving writers who became known as the Seekers, uniting together to pray each other into publication.

God smiled and blessed us with contracts at various publishing houses.

I enjoyed the honor of becoming an author writing for Love Inspired. I envisioned contracts ahead and ideas for future books peppered my brain as I’d never experienced before. My dream had come true.

My Love Inspired book!!

I enjoyed a year of living the dream until a series of events – some book related, some not – caused me to choose between the hit-and-miss, contract-to-contract life doing the work I loved (novel writing) and my stable, but increasingly demanding work I liked very much (admin position). It became increasingly obvious I couldn’t do both and the admin position offered more for my future and for my family.

Fast forward now to my saying good-bye to the 40–70-hour work weeks for an employer who was demanding, but awesomely great to work for. After leaving, I took my time to unwind and enjoy freedom. Then I sat down to write a book.

Retirement Pt 5, New Beginnings
Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

I had a great idea for a series, but every time I sat down to write, the ideas all jumbled together. The idea revolved around a series of books set in a small mountain town in Colorado. I wrote pages, but the story didn’t come alive, it seemed the characters could care less if they saw the light of a printed page.

So, I went back to cleaning out closets and folding laundry (see prior posts about retiring). I’d get an idea and start to run with it but hit a wall. I couldn’t believe God kept the desire to write burning with in me only to stymie my efforts to re-engage with words-on-page.

Friends, it all comes down to timing. God’s timing.

Retirement Pt 5, New Beginnings
Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

With most of the COVID-19 restrictions lifted for travel, I decided to go to the ACFW conference hosted in St Louis and get some hugs and loves from fellow Seekers and author friends I hadn’t seen in forever. That event was so good for the soul!

I traveled and roomed with a fellow author from Colorado and between reuniting with friends and making new memories, we also spent time brainstorming book ideas. From that very first night, ideas sparked and plots ignited. By the time we left the conference, she had 3 books ready to write and I came away with detailed concepts for 6 (count’em 6) novellas that would coincide with an historical romance series I had tried to complete for decades.

Retirement Pt 5, New Beginnings
Photo by Marcin Nowak on Unsplash

God has taken a book of my heart that He wouldn’t let me complete for years and He whispered, “now is the time.”

So there, my friends, is the conclusion of my retirement saga. I hope you find the first 4 parts helpful as you transition away from the work force someday, and that you find hope in resurrecting your dreams that might have been put on hold for the greater good.

Like I said earlier, prayers are a funny thing. Yep, the good Lord answers them, you just have to be open-minded to His plans because they are so much better!!

Your turn! Have you retired from your day job? Are your dreaming about? Please share, I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans!!

And, for sticking with me while I muddled through these past few months, if you leave a comment, you'll put in a drawing for a mystery gift from my recent trip to South Dakota! Check the WE on Saturday for the winner!!

Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:
Twitter: @audraharders

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise


Hello everyone, Audra here. Thanks for riding along with me on my journey of retirement discoveries. Being newly minted to the role of retiree, I’m finding there are stumbling blocks in my “life of freedom” that I took for granted as I woke each morning to a work-a-day routine. Today’s topic? 

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise

I don’t know about you, but from a very young age, I knew the good Lord had created me to be a couch potato. Yep, when left to my own devices, you’d find me either engrossed in my box of 64 Crayola crayons and a coloring book (this went on through college - don’t laugh!), reading a book (early habit - timeless in entertainment), selecting one of my 12 all-time favorite movies to watch for the 100th time.

Pure Julia at Unsplashed

What do they all have in common? They are sedentary activities. Do they give me great joy? Yes. Do they help my body stay tuned and keep my brain alert? Not so much.

You’d think after inhabiting this planet for many, many, many years, I’d know what was good for me and make those choices automatic. 

Ha! Let me repeat that…HA! Everything is up for grabs in retirement!

Here are a few things to consider in order to help your brain and body be the best they can be:

Eat Healthier

By saying “healthier” I mean think about about what goes into your mouth. I’m a grazer by nature, so the 3 squares are nothing to me but the next time it’s socially acceptable to eat. Since I snack pretty much all day, I’m not a big portion eater at meals. That’s a saving grace! So when I think healthier, I try to grab good choices as I make my way through the kitchen. Grapes, rice crackers, popcorn - anything in bite-sized pieces. If packaged, I try to break up the package before I feel the need to eat it, so I can just taste, rather than consume.

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Christian Wiediger Unsplashed

Drink Water

Living in Colorado, “drink more water” is a lifestyle motto. We’re very arid along the Front Range and it’s so easy to mistake hunger for thirst. When I’m out and about, I make sure I have my water bottle with me. At home, I take a quart jar and fill it half way with sparkling water (sweetened) and the rest of the the way with water and ice. It sits beside me at the computer, a constant reminder for me to take a sip. If my pantry is stocked with Wild Cherry, Fuji Apple or Mandarin Orange (those are the Walmart brand flavors), I might refill my jar 3 to 4 times a day! 

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Laura Chouette Unsplashed


It’s embarrassing to admit, but since leaving my office, I’ve lost muscle tone and fluffed up. The County (my employer) was adamant about healthy living and promoted healthy lifestyle choices in the form of workshops and challenges. Get Up And Move email reminders came from our Health representative all the time. You’d think 15 years of encouragement would create a concrete habit!

It did, sort of. My mind knows what I should do, but the desire is weak, LOL! 10K steps a day was easy when I had to run all over the fairgrounds. At home, I depend on my trusty pups to keep me walking. 10K steps a day is easy with them wanting to go on walks all the time.

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Shhhh, don't wake them up! I'm not ready for another walk!!

This summer, I participated a bit more with the yard work. My husband was more than happy to put a weed-whacker in my hands, safety glasses on my face and turn me loose in the back yard. There’s an odd sense of accomplishment to look around the yard and realize I’ve just cleared the area of 18”- 24” high kochia weed and can once again find the Corgis when they roam through it. It’s a rewarding feeling to have muscles, other than hand and fingers, hurt.

I started stretching exercises out of necessity. Since I don’t have many interruptions any more, I noticed my muscles getting stiff when I moved away from the computer after sitting there for a couple of hours. Oh, how embarrassing!! Toe-touches and door jamb stretches have become staples throughout the day. There’s also a series of stretches my 89 year old aunt taught me in order to stay limber. 

Retirement, Pt 4 - Health and Exercise
Timo Volz Unsplashed

Did you catch that? My-89-year-old-aunt-is-giving-me-exercise-advice. Well, she is my favorite, so I listen and obey, LOL.

I know the tips and tricks I just rattled off are probably common place daily routines for most of you. They were in my structured, working world, too. But on my own, I now must take the advice I used to tell my kids: Make good choices.

Stay active. Eat well. Drink often (water)

Retirement does not mean you get to sit back and rust. Being an author does not have to contribute to “secretarial spread.” What works for you? I’d love to hear ideas to break the monotony of my limited routine!!

Now, I’m off to herd the pups around the back field for the third time today. 

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget

Hi Everyone! Audra here. Thanks for joining me on my journey as I transition from Day Job to Retirement. Today, I thought I’d tackle BUDGET.

I was in Sam’s Club the other day. I love to stop by the warehouse store when I have time and browse through their, at times, surprising inventory. Who would have thought I could plan and purchase a vacation through Sam’s? The thought had never occurred, LOL. But, that’s besides the point.

Today on my wandering, after grabbing the necessary fruits, vegetables and paper towels, I spied a display of tired looking plants over by the freezer section. Hmmm, could be a deal here. When I arrived, I checked out the bedraggled species of plant on sale. 

Pachira aquatica —> Guiana  Chestnut —> affectionately known as the Money Tree

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Tumisu at Pixabay

Huh. Money growing on trees. Is that a fact. 

Well, the leaves on these wealth buckets looked a bit short on cash. And no wonder. They thrive in the swampland of South America. These poor plants looked frayed and curled. They'd been innocently enjoying spa weather in the deeeeeeep south before being uprooted, flown through countless climates, and deposited in a cement floored, air-conditioned warehouse at an altitude of 5300 ft. 

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Frank Wittkowski at Pixabay

Needless to say, they didn’t really inspire confidence in endless bounty, but the reality would have come in handy at this point in time!!

We were a two income family for 16 years. When my husband retired last year, we didn’t really feel the pinch of a reduced income having prepared in advance by reducing our spending. That’s all well and good when you think of the expenses for the household.

But my writing budget was about to take a substantive hit.

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Kevin Phillips on Pixabay

The dream of writing full-time is somewhere in every author’s mind. I had started putting a portion of my paycheck into my “Writing” account when I first began planning for retirement. It wasn’t much, but over the months, my writing nest egg grew to a point where I knew my day-to-day expenses could be covered without dipping into our household fund.

Unfortunately, this was the only proactive positioning of finances I had in place, which means counting pennies and weighing options for any workshop, conference, educational tool, etc. has taken on a whole new meaning for my author journey.

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Deidre Weedon on Pixabay

In my defense, I did retire a year earlier than planned, something else to always keep in the back of your mind. 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

Do I regret retiring a year early even though I might have been a bit more financially stable if I had waited? Absolutely not! God gave me the opportunity to write full-time (which I’m slowly forming the habit) and lack of apparent finances does not dampen my spirits one bit. I retired to write, write, write - not buy, buy, buy. 

Retirement, Pt 3 - Budget
Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay

If you’re thinking of retiring from your day job in the next few years, talk to a financial planner in regards to your years ahead, in general. As far as your writing career in concerned, I recommend you keep these costs in mind:

  • Writing supply costs
  • Replacing equipment
  • Educational opportunities
  • Conferences, chapter dues, subscriptions, etc
  • Possible editing, cover art, audio narration, etc
  • Donations

And the list goes on. Start thinking about your expenses now. Look through your check, credit card, Paypal purchases. What writing books and materials have you purchased on Amazon or other online venues? Make that list! Expenses you feel might be nickel and dime right now, might become bones of contention when on a fixed income. 

You’ve waited years to sit down at your writing desk at 8:00 am (or whenever) instead of your day job desk. The dream is about to come true. Plan for it financially now so you can attack your writing projects with a smile on your face.

Until next time, blessings to you!!

Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring fearless men who haven't a clue about relationships, rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and a very strong-willed Corgi. She began writing right after her second kidlet was born and sold her first book to Love Inspired mere months before that same young adult graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between reminds her God does have a plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit Audra at:
Twitter: @audraharders
Scammed? Not Me!Attend A Writers Conference (and Refill Your Creative Well)Writing Emotional FictionCreating a Series from an Old StoryChoose Your One Word WiselyLoving the Advent SeasonRejuvenating Your Writing ChopsRetirement Pt 5, New BeginningsRetirement, Pt 4 - Health and ExerciseRetirement, Pt 3 - Budget

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