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An Esther Kind of Author


After reading Dan Balow’s purely satirical post about why he wouldn’t represent Bible people, I got to thinking.

If I were an agent, I’d represent Esther. For many reasons.

  • she’s approachable, honest, thoughtful, and wise;
  • she’d pray for you and those in your agency;
  • and she’d negotiate contracts without losing the essence of the message she’s supposed to share and also negotiate contracts fair enough and still get a decent deal.

Although I don’t have an agent (yet), these are the kind of things that I’d like to do for my agent. Well, for anyone for that matter.

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Author Interview: Sheri D. Parmelee


Hello! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post. We’re interviewing the wonderful Sheri D. Parmelee, who takes the world by storm — in the classroom and in her practical tips for daily living. I met Sheri at the 2016 ACFW conference, and we hit it off immediately. It was our first ACFW conference, and she was so encouraging to me every time we ran into each other.

Although she’s still seeking representation for her recent unpublished nonfiction book, Suddenly Single, I thought it’d be great to introduce what she’s doing. I hope you find it fascinating as much as I did.

Why did you write Suddenly Single: A Practical Guide to Maintaining Your Household When Your Spouse is NLA?

I wrote this book because my father had lost his wife of 67 years two years previously after a six- week illness and my Sunday school teacher’s wife of 46 years was in the process of dying; neither man had the slightest idea of how to take care of their houses. I still travel from Maryland to Florida once a month in order to clean my father’s condo. At 89, he is not likely to learn how to do it himself. My teacher’s daughters make trips from Pennsylvania and Illinois every two weeks, to cook two weeks’ worth of food and clean his home. I finished the manuscript the day after my teacher’s wife died; her illness was six months long.

While doing research for the book, I learned that many widows are in similar situations but on the opposite side of the discussion. They have no idea how to complete basic maintenance on their homes because their husbands “always did that.” Additional study showed me that both sides of the domestic equation need basic financial planning information and the book was born!

What do you love best about Suddenly Single?

What I love most about the book is that it can help someone answer the question “What do I do now?” It takes a very helping-hands approach to getting the individual organized and on track.

What was the most work for you during the process?

The most work for me was learning what my husband does to maintain our home. I had no idea about the steps in unclogging a rain gutter or mowing the lawn or keeping rodents at bay.

What did you learn from the process?

I learned from the process that there are many things that we each take for granted that our spouse does without comment.  I had previously written (and just had published) my dissertation on indirect communication and House, M.D., so I knew how to write but this self-help book was a different type of writing than the academic writing I was used to doing.

How long did it take for you to complete Suddenly Single?

It took me 6 months to complete my manuscript for Suddenly Single. I know you aren’t supposed to say that “it wrote itself,” but it really did come to me pretty easily, once my research was complete. It was a joy to write because I could picture the recently-bereaved individual picking up the book and finding answers to the most basic questions. Yes, someone could look things up online but many times we don’t know what we don’t know. This book tells that person what he or she needs to know about and then how to do it!

You’ve chosen a catchy topic. What inspired you toward the topic?

I was inspired to use the title Suddenly Single when I was talking to a friend about the book. I hadn’t come up with a title at that point in time, but I looked at her and asked, “What would you do if you were suddenly single?” That was the title that fit!

What kept you going?

The thing that really kept me going during the research and writing process was the feeling that I had information that could be shared with someone after he or she had emerged from the darkest days of his or her life. It was a very practical way to help someone I had never met and it totally motivated me to continue the writing process. It was truly a labor of love to help those who I got to know through the numerous interviews I did while researching the topic.

What has been the hardest thing about the process so far?

The hardest thing about the process has definitely been the search for the right literary agent. At a recent conference, three out of the four agents I pitched the book to wanted to read the manuscript, but I am still waiting to hear back from them.  The agent/writer relationship is like a marriage, so it is vital that the right agent and I are matched.

An influential person who inspired you to write or helped you along the way.

The person who inspired me the most during this writing process has been my sister-in-law Nancy Dean. She has read the manuscript from the very first draft and offered priceless advice about the writing and my approach to the various topics in the book. She also arranged several interviews with folks she knew would offer professional insights into things such as lawn maintenance and rodent removal.

What was your research path?

My research path began with “what do I know that I wish men knew about cleaning the house, the clothes cleaned, and the family fed?” It went from there to “what financial plans does everyone need to have in place?” It finished with “what do I need to know to maintain the house if something happens to my hubby?”

What is inspiring to you?

I am inspired by people like Emily Barnes, who wrote about home organization many years ago.   The late Erma Brombeck is also a hero of mine; I approach the topics in Suddenly Single with some of the humor that I hope emulates her style of writing.

Any encouraging word?

My book offers guidance on organizing and maintaining one’s home and argues that someone with no background in these types of chore can learn how to do these tasks efficiently and effectively. As a result of lessons learned herein, readers can become more confident in their ability to get their lives and homes under control. The panic that they initially felt should subside, being replaced with the calm self-assurance that their lives are now more organized than they previously thought possible.

Suddenly Single is for Baby Boomers who become unexpectedly unmarried. The Census Bureau states that as of 2013, there were 44.7 million Boomers aged 65+. Of these, 24.7% were widowed and 16.7% were divorced or never married. This equates to more than 18 million people! They usually played specific roles in their families; many of them are clueless about household management. My amusing book beats searching websites to learn how to clean, control finances, or shop for groceries.

Thanks for sharing with us about your book that’s in search of a home , Sheri! I’m excited to see what will happen in the future.

About Sheri D. Parmelee, Ph.D.

Sheri has undergraduate degrees in English and Communication from the University of Maryland College Park. She has an MBA with an emphasis in leadership from Liberty University and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. Since 2006, sheri-parmelee-bio-photoSheri has been adjunct faculty member for three different colleges. When’s she’s not teaching, she’s caring for her father who became suddenly single, speaking at academic conferences. She shares many of her own experiences on her blog through humorous tales of driving with bald tires and a clicking engine; these days, she drives with a bald man and clicking joints.

You may learn more about her and download a free chapter of Suddenly Single from her website and glean many practical tips available on her blog at

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ACFW 2016: Defining Success Pt. 3



It’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve posted. Sorry for the delay, but life decided to take off at rocket speed, and it was quite the ride! Still is quite a ride, but learning to fly with the rocket instead of trying to catch the rocket. 😉

Remember my posts earlier about literary agent Steve Laube challenging the ACFW members to define success? The link’s here and here if you need to brush up. I know I would!

After my slapdash, haphazard (to borrow from agent Steve Laube) attempt to define success, I’ve cemented my definition of success. I think.

Success is not merely flying by the seat of your pants or barreling down the stairs at full speed. In either case, you’re bound to get hurt. Success is careful planning, putting one foot in front of the other with precise reasons in mind.

I have many things that I’d like to be successful at; but at the risk of going crazy, I have to stop and take into account what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

No one is ever successful overnight or even in five years. Like a steamy bowl of soup that needs time for the flavors to marry, it takes time learning about and growing in those talents that you have or those desires that you have. Then, when you have learned and grown, you are well on your way to becoming proficient and turning those talents and desires into the success that you can be proud enough to shout to the world from the top of that rocket.

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Standing Tall

novel marketing part 1The more I sifted through the maroon and wood Scrabble tiles, the more I realized I might have to put in a mystery tile to fulfill my Scrabble word choice for this post.

But I reallly wanted a maroon “k” to match my other letters!  And then something happened.

As I fingered the letters in my hand, the three-letter word “tal” flashed across my mind. Tall. Being a writer is like that. In the book world of self-marketing, writers must stand tall.

I wanted to share a marketing post about being comfortable with talking about yourself and your work. As introverts (some of us are, some of us are not, and that’s what makes us all successful together!), we are wallflowers with people we don’t know very well. Sometimes, it’s hard to jump out there and just say, “Hey! How are you?”

But I’m here to encourage you, that before you can talk about yourself, your writing, and our goals in life, you’ve gotta stand tall. Tall, with the courage that there are others out there just like you — just as timid, just as unsure, just as confused about this whole book and self marketing as you are.

So whether you’re going to a conference, venue, or just bumping into someone at the grocery store, use those moments to inquire after someone and listen, and then talk. You never know what’ll happen.
Former president Franklin Roosevelt said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And that fear, my friend, is the only thing inside you that’s keeping you from standing tall, stepping out, and snatching those goals, those dreams, that agent or editor. (Well, maybe not snatch the agent or editor because he/she snatches you, but I had to use alliteration, and that’s the word that came to mind!)

And so, take heart and take that flying leap! Stand tall. And talk.

And just as much leaping as it takes to talk, it’s also necessary to lip it and be silent. 😉

Now to leave you with the wise words of Mr. Churchill:

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. — Winston Churchill


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Novel Editing: Part 1

steering wheel

With my sleeves rolled up and fingers at the keyboard, I’m taking a short break from editing to comment.

Started digging into chapter 5 (out of 40) in my novel, To Rise. Chapters are short, but each needs to contain one thing, and one thing only: character goal. This-this character goal seems challening.

But I discovered that it’s not. And you can, too.

I stared at my blood-red edited page of black letters, wondering how I could make my drab scene better.

A character goal must have motivation, conflict, and stamina.

Funny. I think I need to grab hold of those things, too!

Well, I’m off to take that steering wheel and turn it into something beautiful!