Amy Willoughby-Burle: Women's Fiction/ Sweet Romance

You created them, yet you don’t know them. You’re the one crafting them, but they’re managing to keep secrets. How can this be? Characters are like that.  If you’ve got one or two who just won’t let you in–yes, somehow they have that power, pose a few questions to them and see what they have to say. Threaten to cut them from the story if you have to. They really hate that and it makes them more likely to spill the beans. But promise that you’ll write down what they say no matter what. It’s a balance of trust and neither of you can break it. No one word answers. They have to tell the whole story, and you have to write it. And go….


What’s the kindest thing you ever did?

What is the most selfish thing you ever did?

What’s your biggest fear? 

What is your  greatest hope?

What is the one mistake that haunts you, and you could be undone?

What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen?

When was the last time you cried and why?

What is in your  pocket right now?

What was the last lie you told?

What is the one secret that you keep at all costs? Why?


Wow. Ok, now you know. Let’s get this characters story told!



I confess to being a pantser at heart. I love the journey of writing as much as the destination. I’m like that in all things. On road trips, I love to come across those little general stores and unexpected fields of flowers. I love the little towns and their white washed houses with bright orange tiger lilies growing beside the mailboxes. However, I don’t always love having to backtrack 20 miles to where I should have made a left turn instead of a right, and especially if I really needed to be at my original destination a hour ago.

Pantsing is a beautiful thing, IF you have the time to spare. If not… consider plotting.

Yes, I see the face you’re making. I made that face, too, the first time my agent wanted to see the synopsis of a book I hadn’t written. What? How is such a task even possible, right? Oh, yeah, it’s called plotting. I’d heard of it, I’d just never done it. I admit I hesitated.

Wouldn’t it take out all the fun of writing? I loved to discover the story even as it flowed from my brain to my fingers across the keys. What about the surprises? Don’t you love it when you, as the author in the midst of telling the story, are surprised by what happens or what a character says?

No…I couldn’t possibly plot it all out ahead of time.  Except that I had to. Here’s what I learned. Here’s why I’m still a plotter today.

  1. Plotting is merely making an outline. Your outline is a map. You don’t have to go that way, but it keeps you from getting lost and losing time. It keeps you focused.
  2. You can still choose not to write the story in chronological order all the time . Your outline provides “pick and choose” places to jump into the story, which can satisfy the thrill of the unexpected. Bounce around and then come back to fill in the gaps.
  3. Plotting helps you practice the art of pacing and building the story from the ground up. Check out that Freytag’s pyramid. It works for a reason.
  4. Your outline is just that–an outline. It contains notes about what you want to accomplish, what a character learns or does, or what conversation you want to explore, but it doesn’t have all the juicy details. There’s still everything to discover and be surprised by as you write the scene.
  5. Plotting turns your love of daydreaming into a super power. It give you license to daydream, even. You’re working and it’s part of the process. How cool is that?

And truth be told, once you get that first book published, you’re going to have to do this “necessary evil” sooner or later, so embrace it. It’s part of the art of storytelling.

And there will still be tiger lilies along the way. I promise.

Happy Writing (and plotting.)




I can’t change the world. Not by myself” but together we can. This isn’t my post. This is from one of my high school students. I could not be more proud of her and this effort to make sure that everyone is heard, and that a very desperately needed change comes to this world finally, because we took the time to voice ourselves and to listen to each other.

I know you don’t know Ava, but  I do. And I sort of think she could change the world all by herself, but she wants you to be part of it to. She knows that you HAVE TO BE. This is the kind of person who does things, who creates, who shows up passionately and compassionately and who inspires ( I know she inspires me.) I know she has big plans for this project. I hope (and urge) that you will be part of it.

Share this, please. Especially those of you who are educators and influencers, but ALL of you, anyone, everyone. 

What Ava said:

“I’d like to go to the moon. I’d like to paint the world and scream my words at the top of my lungs. I’d like to be unapologetically myself and I want others to do the same.

There are an estimated 7.8 billion people in the world. I’m not very good at math, but my guess is that it would take years and years and years to make everyone be heard. I wish that I could give everyone the chance to be heard, give them that validation. I wish that I could tell every single person that would listen that they matter and that their own particular opinion matters.

Regardless of where they are or what they speak or what they look like or who they believe in. I can’t change the world, not by myself. I can’t do very much at all, but I write words that I hope will someday inspire someone who is slightly better than I am at public speaking, and someone who can paint hopes and dreams, and someone who can write amazing music. I hope that I can inspire people who are incredible in their own fields, who are magical in their own specific interests.

There are so many people out in the world right now doing incredible things. There are people showing up, fighting every night for the basic human rights that everyone should already have. I’m ready to contribute. I’ve signed petitions and sent emails and donated money, but I’m going to try to do something BIG, alongside every one of you.

Here’s my email: Send me something. You being you. You creating, or saying, or being someone or something you love.

Let’s put this together, and show the world who we are. Let’s tell the world that things need to change and learn to accept each and every one of us. I don’t care who you are or what you look like or where you’re from.  So go do your part for the world! Go sign a petition or write an email or donate money or scream what you believe! Make a difference! Acknowledge the current events and MAKE A CHANGE. It has to be done.

And then come here. And send me something that you want to show the world. You can put your name on it or not, you can tell me where you’re from, or not. Please be kind, and don’t hate. I will not include anything that includes harassment or hate speech or discrimination of any kind.

I’m doing this because Everyone of you is beautiful and your individual creation matters.
Thank you dearly for taking the time to read this.”


Please share this everywhere. Send something in and urge others to do the same. Thank you.

Do you ever wonder what it’s like in an author’s mind when they are thick into writing a book? When the world and the characters take over and life becomes this dual place of reality and fiction. I do. And I bet their work space becomes like another world as well.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Kaye D. Schmitz

She’s another of my agency sisters that I’m proud to introduce to you. (Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.) Although, you may know Kaye already if you’re a fan of suspense and mystery! Here newest novel is available now! On Deadly Grounds.

So do you want to see into the writing space of  an author at work? (I love this part.) Kaye shares two views of her desk with us–the one where things are tidy, and the one where the real work is being done. (Looks like a ton of research going on there on the right! )

Kaye has this to say about her space:

“When my husband and I built our house 15 years ago, we designated a room for my office. It is my sanctuary in which I am surrounded by my interests—anything Egyptian, a shelf of signed Steve Berry books, a shelf of unsigned John Grisham books, and my collections of Dept. 56 Snowbabies and miniature globes. My desk overflows with family pictures and toys—including a replica of the house from the movie “UP” (complete with balloons), a bobble-head Thor from the “Avenger” series, Giggle McDimples and Forky from the “Toy Story” franchise, and “Larry” the Croc from the “Pearls Before Swine” comics.

I have loved seeing all of the beautifully clean desks the other authors who have shared their writing spaces on Amy’s blog have shown us. And I occasionally have a clean space as well. But, the way I figure it, if my desk isn’t messy, that means I’m not writing, so it’s most often stacked with research materials or partial manuscripts. I’m writing my fourth and fifth books simultaneously, so it will be messy for quite a while.”

I was right about the research!

Thank you, Kaye, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World and congratulations on your new book, On Deadly Grounds.  


Find Kaye D. Schmitz online and stay in touch!

Thank you for reading,

When I started these posts, we weren’t stuck in our houses doing all our work from home, but still, getting a peek into a writer’s working space at their home intrigued me. Perhaps it’s the same reason we love decorating shows and cooking shows where the chef is at their house–we want to feel connected to their personal world. I do.

I think, now, that many more of us are working from home, that glimpse into each other’s lives that we otherwise don’t have is especially interesting and makes us feel especially connected. So I’m thrilled to do more of these posts and thank you, writer friends, for inviting us into your homes.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Claire Fullerton!

Although I have yet to meet Claire in person, we are agency sisters! Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. It’s release day for Claire’s new book, Little Tea! Happy release day!


Claire has this to say about her beautiful writing space.

“I live in Malibu, California and the way my writing space is set up, my back is against the ocean view, or I’d gaze out the window all day!”

Wow. I probably would too, Claire! Here’s a peek at what she can see from her writing desk. Don’t you love those colors and that light!


Thank you, Claire, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World and happy release day for Little Tea! Fall in love with Claire’s books. This a great one to start with!


Find her online and stay in touch!

Thank you for reading,

Is it just me, or do you really love to get a peek inside someone’s home? Does that makes me weird? My motives are good–I promise. I think it all comes from a desire to know each other better, more deeply. Seeing those places and spaces where a person lives their life give insight into their world, tells us a little more about them. With writers, I want to see where it is that their stories unfold, where their characters spread their wings and fly.

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Leanne W. Smith.

Although I have yet to meet Leanne in person, we are agency sisters! Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. I love having a sisterhood (and brotherhood–there’s some dudes in the group, too) of writers to share stories, struggles, and successes. It makes a lonely occupation much less so!

Leanne has this to say about her wonderful writing space!

“My mother used to have a sun room that could have been a feature for Southern Living, painted a light buttercream. So when I got a home office, that was the color for me. I tend to hug the corner of my desk closest to the window. It’s not exactly the same as being in her sun room, but close. I actually take my laptop and move all over the house whether I’m writing or grading student papers or staying on top of email, but this is the room where the rubber really meets the road. This is where I go when I’m serious about it.”

Thank you, Leanne, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World. I am so happy to connect closer with you, and I know others will be as well.


Find Leanne online and get to know her even better. Now that you know where the magic happens, pick up one of her gorgeous books and start reading! (Don’t you love these covers?)

Website: (Join her email list!)




Thank you for reading,

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Tera Bradham.

Although I have yet to meet Tera in person, we are agency sisters! Both of us are represented by the amazing Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. I’m as happy as you are to learn a little more about Tera and to get to know her better.


She has this to say about her tranquil looking desk!

“This is my happy space. I need a little space to call my own, even if it’s a table in the corner of our guest room. This is proof that you can make any space and budget work for you with enough creativity!”

“The paintings above my desk from left to right are:

-“I have found the one whom my soul loves.” This painting is my constant reminder of Who I’m really working for, of ultimate healing since my ministry focus is physical pain, and of God’s perfect promises with the rainbows throughout.

-My vision board for 2020 that I made at a retreat in the beginning of the year. There is science that shows the more you see something, the more likely you are to make it a realty. This keeps me focused on what I feel like God has put on my heart this year.

-A painting resembling Joel 2:25-32. God will restore the years the locusts have eaten, and the Lion reminds me of both the comfort and power of an Aslan-like God.”


Thank you, Tera, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World. I am so happy to connect closer with you, and I know others will be as well.


Find her online and stay in touch! She’s got a new release, Swimming for Freedom, scheduled for June 2020 and in the meantime, you can tune in to her podcast, Vying for Victory. (Find both and more on her website!)

Instagram and Twitter: @terabradham




Thank you for reading,

Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Heather Bell Adams.

I was paired with Heather at a “speed book dating” event hosted by Page 158 Books at the Wake Forest Literary Festival a while back. Heather and I had the best time moving from table to table talking about our books. It worked, because by the end of the event I certainly wanted to read Maranatha Road. It was fantastic. And now her new novel, The Good Luck Stone, will release this June. Can’t wait to read it.

Here’s what Heather had to say about her writing space at home.


“This is my laptop in our home office. But, in all honesty, I’m just as often perched on the family room couch or on the back porch if the weather is nice. (Nice to me = warm…) And sometimes, I’m with my laptop at a golf course because my son plays a lot of golf. When I’m lucky, my little Yorkie, Blue, is by my side.” Heather


Thank you, Heather, for letting us peek inside your Writer’s World.

Find her online and stay in touch with all the news about her upcoming releases and events.
Facebook: Heather Bell Adams
Instagram: Heather Bell Adams
Twitter: @heatherbelladam


Thank you for reading,


Today on A Writer’s Desk, meet Safari Spell!


I met her at the 2020 Dahlonega Literary Festival in Georgia where I was fortunate enough to have a table right beside hers. I had the best time talking to her. It was like we’d know each other forever.

Her Long Live Dead Reckless series just might be your next binge read! This is book one, but there are three more!

She has this to say about her enchanting writing nook:

“My writing desk has changed several times over the years, depending on my kid’s ages (and mobility levels) at the time. This nook space is my favorite because it’s actually in the upstairs playroom protected by a baby gate, so I can be in my creative space and keep any eye on my little ones at the same time.”

“My husband and I took on the book wallpaper project about a year after we moved in. I went to Goodwill and bought a dozen books with different sizes, fonts, and page designs so they would create the overall look I was going for. Even though it was tiring and took 2 days to finish the whole space, I’m really happy with how it turned out!

I don’t actually write with a typewriter (although I found this one at Goodwill for $5), but I wish I did! I like to leave it there as a placeholder for days/weeks life gets too crazy to write. Seeing that typewriter reminds me what I’m supposed to be doing there because a typewriter has only one obvious purpose – to write – and so do I.” Safari Spell


Thank you for letting us take a peek at your writing space!

Find Safari Spell online via Linktree where you’ll get all her sites and hangouts!

Thank you all for reading!


two shot glasses filled with lemon juice

All this summer I’ll be building a lemonade list. In The Lemonade Year, Nina is a food photographer shooting for a book called 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. She’s having her own lemonade year and it will take a twist or two to get it right.

Enjoy numbers 4-7 on the list.

#4 Blueberry Lemonade Float

#5 Mango Coconut Lemonade Slushy

#6 Rosé Lemonade

#7 Dragon Fruit Lemonade

Watch the video here and get all the recipes below it. (The video does them in a different order, but this is how they are written below it. A little strange, but the funky music makes up for it.)

Get the whole lists as it builds over at Lemonade 32 Ways 

Drink up and stay tuned for more!