January 3

Make Your Words Hit the Heart!

0036_MillerIn this blog post, my good friends, Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller, share a technique for aiming your words straight to the heart of the reader. Check out what they have to say, and at the end of this post, we’ll tell you how you may be able to win a free copy of their latest book. — Dave Fessenden

How can words, which are read with the mind, touch the heart? That’s the challenge for any author: both fiction and non-fiction. And that was certainly the challenge for my husband and I as we wrote our book Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers).

The reason? Our non-fiction book is about encouraging and equipping Christians to become more holy! But we wanted to encourage holiness at the heart, not only in behavior. Because of counseling and being open to God revealing the hidden—and often sinful—motives of our hearts, we were having a heart change. And we wanted that for others.

But how to touch our readers’ hearts with words?

We found the answer in sharing stories. Yes, we included Bible instruction and practical ideas but we knew we needed “story” to impact the heart. And so we shared our own stories—and those of others—in powerful, fiction kind of techniques. We remembered how to do that using a DEA acrostic:

D: description and dialogue. Give descriptive details of the setting and people. Write out the dialogue.

E: emotion: how are you and other characters feeling?

A: action: include body movements, setting changes, character reactions.

Let me give you an example from our book.

I, Larry, was taking a walk with Kathy recently and she asked me, “Honey, remember how you mentioned that you rarely prayed before a potentially dangerous situation that you faced as a police officer? Why do you think you didn’t pray?”

I paused and stroked my beard. “Well, I would pray for the safety of other officers but frankly I never gave a thought about praying for myself. I was so confident in my training and decision making skills that I believed I was prepared for anything.”

Kathy looked curious. “That seems a little presumptuous. Could your prayerlessness be tied to your first acting role?”

(For the sake of word count, I won’t give all of the interaction but Larry recalled how as a junior higher he had all-consuming stage fright in a play and stood mute on the stage stopping the play. As a result, he vowed to never be out of control again so that his weakness wouldn’t be exposed.)

Then we pick up the story:

I turned to Kathy and my voice raised because I knew an “ah-ha” moment was coming. “I was presumptuous because I was terrified. I falsely believed there was no room for God in those crisis situations. My training, skill, and mastery over my job just took charge. I spent my entire life honing that strategy of depending upon myself to prevent any weakness from being exposed.”

We continued chatting and the puzzle pieces fell into place. “I realize now that anything that threatened my image must be handled by the only one I really trusted: me! I left God out of the equation so that I could maintain control. Of course I would gladly pray for the protection of my peers. That cost me nothing. It didn’t make me look weak—only them!”

As we walked, headed for home, I felt a sense of sadness and repentance that my prayerlessness was rooted in a rebellious spirit that instinctively rejected anything that a sovereign God might place in my path. I exclaimed, “Oh honey, it’s a good thing I am redeemed!”

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 50 books and has spoken in 31 states and 8 foreign countries. Kathy and her husband, Larry, have been married 44 years and he is a retired police lieutenant who also speaks and writes. Larry and Kathy speak often together and individually on a variety of topics. They live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com and www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

9780891124504Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers) offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive patterns of behavior through identifying their sinful self-protective strategies and then being empowered to trust God instead. Their book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It also provides discussion questions that can be used by individuals or groups. Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions at:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy
CBD: http://bit.ly/1AuJZSX
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1BJz3lC

Would you like a free copy of Kathy and Larry’s book? Just leave a comment to enter the drawing, and “one lucky winner” will be sent a copy of Never Ever Be the Same!

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Posted January 3, 2015 by Dave Fessenden in category "Uncategorized


  1. By Deborah Duncan on

    Would love to read another book of yours after I read you other book I passes it along to someone else to read and asked them to do the same after they read it. Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

  2. By Linda Blue on

    I would love to be drawn to receive a copy of Larry and Kathy’s new book.

  3. By Kathy Collard Miller on

    Hi Dave, thanks again for posting this. I hope it’s meaningful and beneficial for your wonderful readers. Two of my friends couldn’t make their comment go through so please put Cherie Montgomery and Lora VanderGlessen into the drawing. Thanks!

  4. By Carolyn Benesh on

    Kathy, I love your writing style! Still think about when I met you at MTWR!
    Love ya!
    Carolyn Benesh

  5. By Dave Fessenden (Post author) on

    OK, Kathy, but please enlighten me about why Cherie and Lora couldn’t make a comment. (You can email me of course.) Is there is any problem with the website I need to correct?

  6. By Jean Stewart on

    You know I’m such a fan, Kathy, and have been for years. It’s been a joy and honor to know you. Look forward to reading your book written with your husband. How special.
    Blessings now and always.

  7. By Steve Dunham on

    And now another picnicker arrives with a wet blanket. 🙂 Dave, did you mean to have all those commas in the introduction to this post? Those commas in “my good friends, Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller,” make it an appositive—that is, “my good friends” means the same, and only the same, as Kathy and Larry. Leaving out the commas would imply that you have other good friends as well.

    Your bad friend and nit-picker,


  8. By Dave Fessenden (Post author) on

    Thanks, Steve, I really get confused about appositives (maybe we could come up with a more descriptive term, like “exclusive commas”?). That is not the first time you’ve caught me on that, and though it stings, I appreciate it. I’m putting you inside my “good friends” appositive! —-Dave

  9. By Steve Dunham on

    Well, I was right about the mistake but wrong about what an appositive is. Appositives can be restrictive or nonrestrictive. Two commas make a nonrestrictive appositive, just as they make a nonrestrictive phrase. But now, as you implied, we’re getting deep in the mud, and we could use a definition or rule using words of two or fewer syllables. Bonnie Trenga, in a guest appearance on the Grammar Girl website, came pretty close with “The rule for appositives is that if the information is essential, you don’t use commas. If it is extra, you use extra commas.”

    But what about the four-syllable “appositive”? We could use a simpler word. How about “noun buddy”?

  10. By Dave Fessenden (Post author) on

    Definitely we have to get away from these old Latin terms, most of which are oriented toward Latin grammar rather than English grammar.

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