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Good morning from Sunny Florida!


Writing while on vacation is a special challenge, whether it be a blog post or a novel. Family, destinations, travel, events...all the things you have been looking forward to doing on your vacation can intrude on the writing time. But the deadlines and writing tasks don't stop.

So, if you, like me, are on vacation, but you still have writing responsibilities, how do you balance, juggle, or otherwise schedule the work and the play?

Here are a few tips:

1. Plan ahead. Take a look at your writing schedule and determine what you need to do to stay on track while you're gone. If you have blog posts due, write them before you leave for your trip. (I'm shaking my head at myself on this one because I'm writing this post while on vacation when I knew in plenty of time that it would be due while I was gone. Do as I say, not as I do!)

2. Downsize. Be realistic about what you will be able to accomplish or even want to accomplish on vacation. If you usually write 1000 words per day, perhaps 500 on vacation...or 250. Or plan to write every other day, or every third day.

3. Ask for help. Non-writing family might not understand your need to get away for an hour or so to put some words on your WIP. Explain to them that you're not avoiding them, but that you need to get in a little bit of work time. Ask them for their patience and help, make them a part of the process.

4. Relax. Sometimes, you just need to put all the writing away while you're on vacation. Refresh your mind and heart and body, knowing that you will dive back in with diligence when you get home. Do what you are comfortable doing while on vacation, and otherwise, let it go.



Are you planning a summer vacation? Do you write while you are away from home?

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

Journey along in the Old West as four women travel to meet their husbands-to-be and discover that nothing is as it was planned. Eve’s fiancé is in jail. Amelia’s fiancé has never heard of her. Zola’s newlywed husband is dead. Maeve’s travel is misdirected. Can these brides can find a true love match?

The Galway Girl by Erica Vetsch
Kansas, 1875
A mail-order mix-up sends Irish lass Maeve O’Reilly to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Will Kaspar Sandberg consider it a happy accident or a disaster to be rectified as soon as possible?

You can order your copy of Mail-Order Mishaps today by clicking HERE.
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If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com







Monday:  Jan Drexler shared her methods of Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity. So many great ideas!

Wednesday:  Debby Giusti explored Storms in the Writing Life. Winner's choice of one of Debby's books goes to Catherine Hackman! Congrats!

Friday: Jane Choate discussed Revisions - A Tiered Approach. Revisions are here to stay, so let's get them done! to get them done. The winner of a copy of Inherited Threat is Glynis. Congratulations!




Monday:  Erica will hold court in Seekerville today!

Wednesday:  Cate will join us live from RWA - NYC! Stop back during the day on Wednesday and Thursday for updates and conversation and to get in the drawings for some RWA swag and books.
  
Friday: Pam will astound all with her wit and wisdom!







DEBBY GIUSTI
will be signing at the RWA Conference
in New York City.
Stop by her table and say hello!






Long Days. Hot Nights. Deadly Secrets.

Grab this red hot Christian Suspense Anthology bargain for just 99 cents for a short time only before the price increases to 9.99.

Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before published tales of Christian suspense from today's most popular mystery and suspense authors.

Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Pre-Order Summer of Suspense at Barnes & NobleApple, and Amazon








Click Here to Enter!


The Novel Series Part V: Story Beats and How To Find Them by Hannah Bauman at Between The Lines Editorial

Is Your Couple Compatible? by Tamela Hancock Murray at Steve Laube Agency

Stop Reading Your Book Reviews by Sam Hooker at The Creative Penn







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-by guest, Jane Choate



As some of you may know, I write for Love Inspired Suspense.  I have just sold my sixth book to them and am rejoicing in the sale, along with despairing if I can pull off another book.  Sometimes I feel like a fraud, a little girl playing at being a writer.


Writing for LIS is not for the faint of heart.  The guidelines constantly keep me on my toes, including having the hero and heroine meet immediately, ending every scene and chapter with something that, as my editor says, “doesn’t fall flat,” and weaving the suspense with the faith element and the romance.  It’s a constant balancing act.


I’ve had my proposals rejected and wonder if I’ll ever get it right.  Fortunately, I have a patient and skilled editor, Dina Davis, who doesn’t give up on me even when I make the same mistakes over and over.  (Putting in too much backstory is one of my “frequent-flyer mistakes.)


Rejections mean revisions, and that’s what I’d like to address today.


Revisions.  We love them.  We hate them.  Sometimes we both love and hate them at the same time.  After writing thirty-seven books and hundreds of short stories and articles, I’ve had some experience with revisions.  You’d think I’d get better doing them over the years, but I still struggle--mightily.


So let me share some things I’ve learned along the way.  We’re going to do this in a step/action way.




STEP 1:  Start big.  That’s right.  Don’t start with words and sentences.  Start with the book itself.  We call this story level edits.   (NOTE:  We’re starting big and working our way down because doing the big-picture edits, which may involve deleting scenes or even whole chapters, before moving on to the micro edits, prevents you from having to re-edit something you’ve already revised.)


ACTION:  Ask yourself the hard questions.  Questions like does my premise work?  Does the book make sense?  Will readers relate to the characters?  Does it have a hook?  Is there continuity to the book or is it just a string of isolated incidents stuck together in some kind of random order?   What do you do if you can’t answer “yes” to these questions?  You get to work and keep working until you can answer “yes.”  if after reading through your manuscript, you decide that the main character or characters (MC) aren’t very likeable.  An unlikeable MC is a sure-fire way to keep your manuscript sitting on the shelf or in the computer.  What can you do to make him more relatable?  Give him strengths; give him flaws.  Make him honest and genuine.  By now, you’re probably getting the idea that if your story doesn’t work on these levels, it’s going to need major revisions.





STEP 2:  Downsize.  Nope.  You’re not downsizing your house, but you are downsizing in your revision structure.  Move on to your scenes.  Scenes are the building blocks of chapters.


ACTION:  Once again, start with questions.  Does each scene have a purpose?  If the sole purpose of a scene is to simply showcase your writing talents, delete it, no matter how much you love the scene, how flawlessly it is written, how you have captured the beauty of a setting.   Every scene should accomplish something—either develop character, move the action forward, illuminate relationships between the characters.  Ideally, a scene will accomplish a couple of purposes.




STEP 3: Does the scene have a cliff-hanger ending?  It should.  It need not be a major cliff-hanger fraught with danger and live or die suspense.  It can end with the MC asking herself a question, the answer of which will impact the story journey.  Or it can end with the MC in mortal danger, her very life in question.  Vary the kind of scene endings.  Don’t always have the character in peril … unless you are writing a PERILS OF PAULINE type novel.


ACTION:  At the risk of being repetitious, start with questions.  Are your paragraphs related?    Are they coherent?  Or do you jump from one subject to another without thought to continuity?  Do the paragraphs in a scene build to a climax?  Then look at the sentences that compose the paragraphs.  Do you vary the sentence length in your paragraphs?  Or are all the sentences appoximately the same length?  Do you vary the kinds of sentences?  Do you vary the tone of the sentences?  Like every scene, every paragraph should serve a purpose.  If, in your revisions, you come across a paragraph whose sole purpose it to wax poetic about a sunset without that sunset in some way giving insights into the character or affecting the plot, get rid of it.  We have all seen beautiful sunsets.  We don’t need to be treated to a lyrical description of it, however artfully you describe it.





STEP 4:   Move on to paragraphs.  Just as scenes are the building blocks of chapters, paragraphs are the building blocks of scenes.  Paragraphs should flow from one to the other in a natural sequence.











STEP 5:  Look at your word choice.

ACTION:  Word choice is a subjective thing.  The words you choose are a product of your education, experiences, personal taste, and a myriad of other things.  First, check your word darlings at the door.  Consider doing a search of your manuscript to determine if you have some of these darlings which you use over and over (and over).  When I did that with a recent manuscript, I discovered that I was in love with the word focus.  Every character was focusing on something.  Every plot point used focus to … well … focus in it.  My use of the word was more than redundant; it was downright embarrassing.  Painstakingly, I went through the whole book and rewrote dozens of sentences, limiting my use of the word to only a few times.  What are your pet words?  One author I know (a very successful author) uses "mutter" repeatedly.  Her characters are always muttering their remarks.  In this case, a simple said would work far better. 

Another consideration in word choice:  are the words your character uses right for her?  If you are writing a coming-of-age novel set in a small town in Tennessee during the Great Depression, your character might not use sophisticated words.  If she does, give her a reason for her choices and the appropriate background to make her using those words make sense.  A cowboy might not use the word ”salacious,” and a city girl might not use the word “over yonder.”  These are, of course, exaggerated examples, but you get the drift.  

What about your word choices in descriptions?  Have you relied on tried-and-true (and boring) cliches?  Or have you found new and fresh ways to describe a graffiti-marred warehouse where drug deals are made?  Have you dug deep for a new way to describe a bucolic setting with fields and cows?  Have you done the hard work necessary to search for not just an okay word, but the absolute best word?  Have you used a precise noun rather than a generic one?  Can you say that “Azelas lined the sidewalk” rather than “Flowers lined the sidewalk?”   Have you employed active, vivid verbs rather than prosaic ones?  Is your six-year-old MC skipping along beside her mother or is she just walking?  Maybe she is hopping over the lines in the sidewalk or jumping from one square to the other.  

These are small but telling changes that will strengthen your writing.


Revisions can turn a ho-hum manuscript into one that shines and sparkles.  They can elevate a second-rate story into a first-rate one?  They can take your story from an almost-sale to a “Yes, I sold my book” one.  And isn’t that what you want?


Bio:

Jane M. Choate dreamed of writing from the time she was a small child, entertaining her friends with outlandish stories, always complete with a happy ending.  Writing for Love Inspired Suspense is a dream come true.  Jane and her own real life hero have been married for 46 years, have 5 children, numerous grandchildren, and a cat who believes she is of royal descent.




INHERITED THREAT - AMAZON


After her estranged mother is killed by a crime syndicate, army ranger Laurel Landry knows she's next … and she needs help from ex-ranger turned bodyguard Mace Ransom.  While Mace is used to doing things his way, their best chance of staying alive is relying on each other.  There enemies aren't backing down … but together Laurel and Mace might be able to stop them for good.  (This is the 5th book in Jane's S&J Security/Protection series.)  INHERITED THREAT is Jane's 37th book.  


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By Debby Giusti

Each summer, my family and I vacation at the beach. Last week, we stayed at Crystal Beach, on the outskirts of Destin, Florida, where the water is sparkling clear and the white sand is silky soft. I have three adult children and four adorable grandchildren so we need a large condo with a pool. Because the beach is our happy place, my husband and I rent waterfront accommodations that provide spectacular views from sunup to sunset.

The adults get up early and enjoy coffee on the balcony. Some days we see dolphin frolicking in the waves and dark patches of fish swimming in large, undulating schools. Pelicans and seagulls fly overhead, then dive into the water for their breakfast. From our lofty perch, we watch fishing vessels with huge nets and private chartered boats head out to sea while fisherman on the shore cast their lines, hoping for a good catch. 


Once the children are up and fed, we don our suits and sunscreen and head to the beach with chairs and umbrellas and inner tubes and floats to spend the day enjoying the sun, sand and water.

If you were following the news last week, you heard about Tropical Storm Barry that blew into the Gulf. By Wednesday afternoon, the waves were rough and eventually strong enough to force us out of the water. We scurried to the pool but kept watch on the rising surf and encroaching storms. 



Thursday morning, the beaches were closed and double red flags alerted beachgoers to stay out of the water. The pool provided lots of fun for the little ones in between intermittent rain showers. When inclement weather moved us indoors, we played cards and board games. Being together made the week special in spite of the storms.

The local lifeguards provided an interesting diversion. Our condo sat next to their beach training area, and each morning twelve to fifteen lifeguards arrived before 8 AM for an hour of strenuous exercise. They jogged on the beach then swam back and forth to a series of buoys some distance from shore.

Double red flags signify the beach is close for swimming.
The sheriff's vehicle is parked at the lifeguard training area.
Some of the lifeguards can be seen leaving the water.
We were all impressed by their daily workouts and amazed that training continued even in the midst of the storms spawned by Barry. An evening exercise held us spellbound as two lifeguards took their rescue boards out while thunder boomed overhead and lightning cut through the sky. The surf was treacherous, yet they performed amazing maneuvers while waves crashed around them and the storm raged overhead.

The last two mornings we were there, the lifeguards swam seemingly effortlessly for nearly an hour through the ten-foot waves. Their endurance swims were followed by extended time on their boards as they trained for rescues and surfed the waves.

Lifeguards are training on their rescue boards. Each
morning they spent an hour in the water, even when
Tropical Storm Barry hit!

This year, we hadn’t expected storms and beach closures, but Barry provided a unique glimpse of nature’s fury as well as God’s grandeur and the majesty of his creation. It also provided food for thought about the writing life.

In my pre-published days, I was a fair-weather writer, who worked when inspiration hit and my schedule provided free time. I was the beachgoer who wanted perfect conditions for my beach vacation.

Publication brought responsibility. My editor and publishing house were relying on me to produce a contracted work of fiction on time. Early on, I was concerned about the level of my writing ability and cautious about jumping into each new story. Like a few of the lifeguards who lagged behind and were always trying to catch up, I needed to hone my craft and pick up my pace.
 
God bless the USA! Old Glory flew throughout our
time at the beach!
In life, storms are inevitable. Rip currents and gale force winds can hamper even the best of swimmers. Similarly, all of us in the writing world, including established authors, can be thrown off course by changes in publishing houses or new trends in the marketplace. Lines close, editors change jobs, genres ebb and flow like the tides, but the committed writer finds the wherewithal to continue in spite of the hardships.

I doubt many beachgoers realize how strenuously the Destin lifeguards train, yet it is because of their daily efforts and dedication to excellence that they are able to perform heroic feats of rescue when swimmers’ lives are in peril. For that, I’m grateful.


I’m also grateful that the writing life does not involve life and death situations, except those on the written page. However, staying true to our calling requires attention to detail and an ongoing desire to improve our craft.  The best way to become a better writer is to write and write and write some more. We also need to read books that stretch our imaginations and expand our creativity. Attending workshops and studying how-to manuals help to enhance our ability as well.

The Gulf is constantly changing and so is the writing life. To be successful, writers need to take the good with the bad, the sunshine with the storms, the times of progress with the times we’re blocked or our creativity seems to wane. Like the lifeguards, we sometimes pause on shore to catch our breath before we grab our boards and jump back into the waves.


At weeks end, my family and I packed our cars for the long drive home and said goodbye to the beach with hopes of returning next year. The memories of our vacation and the physical endurance of the lifeguards will continue to inspire me to keep pushing forward, even when storms threaten.

Where are you in your writing journey? Are you a fair-weather writer or are you ready to face the big waves? What helps you forge ahead even when the going gets tough? How have you faced the storms in your own life?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of my books, winner’s choice.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Summer of Suspense
SUMMER OF SUSPENSE features 16 stories by your favorite Christian Authors.
Pre-order now for only 99 cents!!!
Nook https://bit.ly/2DZC0YQ 
Apple https://apple.co/2VcpYkA 
Amazon https://amzn.to/2VsrPqs
Available Aug 6th. Post-release price: $9.99.

Here’s a sneak peek at ON THE RUN…
When Annalise Bonner reports a murder at Lakeside Lab’s guarded compound, security wants her silenced. Her only hope is Matt Mayor, the man she loved and left because of a covert military assignment. Now she must trust Matt again, not only with her life but also her heart.

Knowing she’s in danger, Matt secrets Anna away from the remote Tennessee research enclave to the Amish community of Ethridge and on to the North Georgia Mountains as a multistate manhunt mounts. Running out of options to keep Anna safe, Matt will sacrifice anything—including his life—to save the woman he loves.

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If you’ve been paying attention here in Seekerville, you’ve probably noticed a theme running through several posts this summer. It started in June with Amanda Barrett’s post about stress reduction for writers, then continued with Cate Nolan’s post about that 15-letter word we all hate: Procrastination. Pam Hillman finished up the June theme with her post on burning the candle at both ends, and Mary Connealy carried it into July with her post on plowing the rough field.

Do you see the connection?

My life this summer is no different. In April my husband and I finally found our retirement home in the Black Hills, ending a year-long search to find the perfect place, and we knew we were facing a long summer of changes. Big changes.

The view from our new deck - I can't get enough of it!
Soli Deo Gloria

But we had no idea how many unexpected changes God had in store for us.

With all these changes comes the list of tasks…applying for a mortgage, having garage sales to downsize our possessions, packing box after box, finding temporary housing for the next four weeks until we can move into our new house, etc. etc. etc. Insurance, changing addresses, changing utility companies, finding a new internet provider... It never ends!

And we're moving THIS WEEK! Suddenly, everything seems VERY URGENT!



Meanwhile, my next deadline is looming, getting closer every day. October 1st will be here before I know it! And THAT is very important!

How do I determine which wins my time? Do I do the important things? The urgent things? Both?

Some days I just want to chuck it all and go back to bed! Sometimes I think the chaos is going to win.

But while my head tends to think I’m standing on a very shaky house of cards, my heart knows that God will take me through this stormy season.

One way He's doing it is through three major tools that are helping me survive the chaos and become more productive, and I’d love to share them with you in case your life is chaotic too! (Who am I kidding? We’re all living crazy-busy lives!)

The first is my Bullet Journal, affectionately known as my BuJo. You can read about the Bullet Journal here, and you can find tons of ideas on Pinterest. I can't say enough about how my BuJo has changed my life in the past few years. No planner made by someone else fits me, but my BuJo is perfect for me because I create it myself.



My BuJo layout is fairly simple – mostly a daily task list – but I also use project pages for major things like moving and tracking my daily word count. I color code my tasks: blue for writing related activities, green for home and family, red for church, orange for moving, and pink for things that are just for me.

I have monthly pages, then a space for the current week, and then daily entries. I use my BuJo to keep track of what I have planned for each day.

In this crazy summer, I've also found it helpful to keep
a countdown to major dates.

The second is an idea from Dwight D. Eisenhower. It’s a matrix for prioritizing tasks that he developed while he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War Two (and I thought my life was stressful!) You can read about the Eisenhower Matrix here.



This matrix helps me separate the urgent AND important tasks from those that are either urgent OR important. It helps me decide which jobs need to be done NOW, which jobs to schedule for another day, and which I shouldn’t be doing AT ALL. That's how I prioritize what I need to do each day.


When I merged these two tools, my to-do list became manageable. I can decide which things are today’s tasks (ideally one major thing – my word count – and two or three less-major things) and which can be scheduled for tomorrow or next week. It also helps me determine which tasks can be delegated (i.e. asking for help from my dear husband).

I confess – I’ve always had a hard time asking someone else to do something I think needs to be done. But I continue to learn how necessary it is.



Not surprisingly, that last square in the Eisenhower matrix, the “Don’t Do” square, has made all the difference. If it’s before 5:00 in the afternoon and I find myself wandering toward “just a few minutes to see what’s on Facebook,” that don't do list brings me back. I keep that list taped to my computer screen!


But I mentioned three things earlier, didn't I?

The third thing that God has brought to my attention this summer is rest.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you." And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 ESV)

Jesus was an incredibly busy man. Everything he did was important. Every waking moment was spent doing his Father's work...except for those times when he went off by himself for prayer. He knew how to separate the urgent from the important.

That's my inspiration - not only for writing, but for life.

If I'm too busy to go off by myself and spend some time with God, then I am too busy. I'm letting the urgent take the place of the important.

If I'm too busy to accept God's gift of rest, not only on Sunday, but every day, then I am too busy.



What effect have these three things had on my productivity?

It's amazing. When I think of what God has helped me accomplish over the last several months, I am astounded.

Believe it or not, I'm naturally lazy. My idea of a pleasant evening is to curl up in my favorite chair, stitching in my hands and an audio book playing or a good movie on television. Add a gentle snow-fall and a fire in the stove, and I'm a happy camper. *sigh* Comfy jammies and all!

But with these tools, I can enjoy steady productivity and my time of rest - with God in the morning and with my cross stitching in the evenings.

And this crazy-stressful season of my life? Easy like Sunday morning. No chaos allowed.

How do you conquer the chaos in your life? Do you use a planner? An on-line calendar? Or have you thrown in the towel? 


Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of more than thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family.



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If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com







Monday: Missy offered us a blast from her past when she asked the question, "What If I'd Given Up Then?" We hope you were encouraged!

Wednesday: Ruthy shared What You've Wanted To Know About Writing But Were Afraid To Ask.The commenters receiving a copy of At Home In Wishing Bridge are Lila and Naomi C!

Friday: Janice Cantore shared the 5 Things I Learned About Faith By Writing Fiction. Laurel Blount, you're going to get a copy of Cold Aim!



Monday:  Jan Drexler is opening the doors and inviting you to take a peek into her crazy-busy life in her post, "Managing the Chaos to Encourage Productivity." (Would you believe one of her secret weapons is rest?)

Wednesday:  Debby Giusti will be talking about the writing journey!
  
Friday: Don't we all need a little insight into revisions? Jane Choate joins us again and talks about Revisions: A Tiered Approach








SUMMER OF SUSPENSE features 16 stories by your favorite Christian Authors.
Pre-order now for only 99 cents!!!
Nook https://bit.ly/2DZC0YQ 
Apple https://apple.co/2VcpYkA 
Amazon https://amzn.to/2VsrPqs
Available Aug 6th. Post-release price: $9.99.

Here’s a sneak peek at Debby Giusti's story, ON THE RUN…
When Annalise Bonner reports a murder at Lakeside Lab’s guarded compound, security wants her silenced. Her only hope is Matt Mayor, the man she loved and left because of a covert military assignment. Can she trust Matt not only with her life but also her heart?

Knowing she’s in danger, Matt secrets Anna away from the remote Tennessee research enclave to the Amish community of Ethridge and on to the North Georgia Mountains as a multistate manhunt mounts. Running out of options to keep Anna safe, Matt will sacrifice anything—including his life—to save the woman he loves.











The Ultimate List of Self-Publishing Resources  by Monica Dube

Writing Tips: Why Writing Yourself Into Your Own Hero's Journey Can Help You Get Unstuck by Lara Zielin at The Creative Penn

How To Write Poorly by Bob Hostetler at Steve Laube Agency

Plotting Made Easy: Do You Need The 3-Act Structure? by Alex Limberg at Fiction University

Developing An Audiobook: An Indie Author's Perspective by Ray Flynt at Fiction University

Why Do So Many Bad Books Sell On Amazon? by Katherine Marsh at Helping Writers Become Authors

Who You Need On Your Publishing Team: The Indie Edition by Hannah Bauman at Between The Lines Editorial


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(special shout-out to Beth Erin who made this awesome banner)

Years ago, when I started writing fiction, besides writing good stories, I wanted to draw people to the message of the gospel, the Good News. I had an aunt who would read novels, but she would never pick up the Bible. I figured that there are a lot of people like my aunt, so I hoped the message in my novels would make such people think, would make them want to pick up a Bible and look inside. The stories were the vehicle to witness, to share the hope within.

I’ve been writing novels since 2006, and along the way writing to inspire others has inspired me. These are five things I’ve learned about faith by writing fiction. 

  1. Faith can seem impossible. How can you believe in something or someone you can’t see? Several of my characters struggle with this question. The heavens are vast, and no one has ever seen God—how can He really be there? God is in the vastness of the universe as much as He is in a single blade of grass. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28, NIV). Recognizing that the complexity of the world requires a Creator and not blind chance makes faith possible.  

  2. Faith is hard. Once you take the step to say, yes, I believe, life often comes down like a ton of bricks. Another character question: How can He be a good God when there is so much suffering? God never promised a life of ease in this world. It’s fallen. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV). It’s hard to believe, to have faith, when you witness acts of evil or you suffer loss or great pain, but there’s really no other choice. Faith tells you that the evil has been overcome and good will be victorious in the end.  

  3. Faith is easy. The joy that comes with embracing the Savior fills a person’s heart to overflowing. When one of my characters stops fighting and starts resting in the promises that he or she has come to believe in, then the burdens become the Lord’s, and yes, faith is easy. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30, NIV). Knowing there is help, that you are not in this hard, harsh world alone, makes faith easy. 

  4. Faith is essential. This is a fallen world, and a person wrapped up in it is easily given to despair. My main characters are all police officers. Police see the worst that humanity has to offer. It’s easy to begin to believe that everyone is wicked, evil, depraved. Faith is essential to change the focus of your mind: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, ESV). Faith gives us the promise of a better world, a perfect world, in eternity.  

  5. Faith is a shield. Nobody gets out of this world without being hurt, betrayed, run over . . . my characters have faced it all. They’ve also been in mortal peril and seen ones they love in life-threatening situations. Whatever we face, faith is a shield against the worst life can throw at us. Because faith tells us that God never lets us go, that we are always safe in His loving hand, no matter what. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). Jesus died for us, and faith in His sacrifice is an impenetrable shield.   

 
What about you?
What have you learned about faith from writing (or reading) fiction?
Which of Janice's points most resonated with you?


Join the conversation in the comments! Thanks to Janice Cantore and Tyndale House, one commenter (US only) will win a copy of Cold Aim!
 
Police Chief Tess O’Rourke’s small town is still reeling from a devastating fire when the FBI asks for help: Could she shelter a witness in a high-profile human trafficking case? Initially reluctant to put the townspeople of Rogue’s Hollow at risk, Tess is swayed after she sees Pastor Oliver Macpherson’s genuine conviction to rescue those in need, a trait in him she’s coming to love more each day.

Tess’s fledgling faith is tested when crews of workmen from out of town come in to assist with the fire cleanup and she worries that one of these strangers might shine a light on things best kept hidden. Neither she nor Oliver knows that Rogue’s Hollow is already home to a suspect from a twenty-five-year-old murder case . . . and someone is taking cold aim at those Tess is sworn to protect.



 
 Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels. Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. She has penned eleven romantic suspense novels: the Line of Duty series, the Cold Case Justice series, the Pacific Coast Justice series, Critical Pursuit, and Visible Threat. Crisis Shot and Lethal Target are the first two books in the Line of Duty series, which wraps up with Cold Aim (July 2019). 

 Visit Janice at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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        Writing As a Business by bossy Seekerville blogger Ruth Logan Herne

        Darlings, this isn't to browbeat you. It's not meant to make you feel bad. It's not intended to spur you to greatness, either. You have yourself and the sweet Lord to do that.


        This is meant to encourage you (those who really want this gig, and I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y) to step back and look at your work as the small business it needs to be to become successful.

        You're like "Right. I'm a writer. Not a business owner. Whatever, Ruthy!"

        To which I will respond "Um. Einstein. What are you smokin'? Because the simple fact is that if you hope to get paid for what you do, that makes you a business, engaged in the sale of goods (books) and/or services.

        Aye Caramba, darlings, let's get with the reality program here.

        I'm giving away two books today... TWO BOOKS.... but here's what I want from you:

        WHAT PARTS OF THE WRITING BUSINESS CONFUSE YOU?


        Because if you're standing on the wannabe side of the fence, and you're reading uber-articles about how all this goes down, about points-of-view, advertising, media presence, social media platforms, press kits, blogging, not blogging, book-signing... okay, what do you want to know about? What worries you? What bothers you? Where do you feel like you fall short?

        This is your day to frankly talk with a writer. Post your questions. Share your concerns, or simply ask us "Hey! What works?"

        Because these answers are important, these answers help you to form a business plan. We've got several Seekers on board today to offer advice, and it's good advice. The important thing we want to share is that while writing is balanced with individual choices (style, timing, scheduling) the business side of it is pretty solid, depending on the level you're at.

        As a newbie aspiring author, what should you be doing?

        Writing. Writing. Writing. Finish projects, rewrite, revise, re-submit. And... to show that marketing does not scare you (darlings, it frightens all of us, we are The Great Pretenders!) begin to establish an online presence to show growth. Now I don't for one minute think that a big social media presence sells books, but it does offer a line of friendship and rapport with readers and writers... and writers are reading. So it's not a bad thing, darling, to jump aboard the train.

        You don't have to have your own blog... blogs are hard to keep up independently. But ask to guest-post on other blogs and offer wisdom and tips and ideas and thoughts of what inspired you. Then keep track of where you've been and what you've done!

        If you're an indie writer, your first order of business is to write the best possible books you can. If you're afraid to invest the money for an editor, you risk alienating readers by putting out less-than-your-best. Now that's up to you but I know that if I put out my original stuff, I wouldn't be the author I am today. Fortunately that WAS NOT an option because I was pretty sure I was the cat's pajamas, people.

        SIGH........

        If you're an established author, mid-list or low-list, then your job is to market with confidence, keep up that website and facebook page, change your banners to reflect the seasons or what you're working on and keep writing... but now that you're making money, you also need to keep records of what you've spent, earned, etc. so that you can take care of taxes. And as a self-employed author, your tax rate is approximately 35% of what you bring home/get paid, and that's a wake up call every April so making quarterly payments to the IRS makes that easier. Not less painless, but easier. The reason for the up-tick is the Social Security tax. An employee pays 50% of their Social Security tax to the government. Self-employed people pay both halves of the tax, so that pushes the tax rate up.

        If you're Nora Roberts or Stephen King then you need no advice from me, so why are you here????

        :)

        A lot to think about, but I want to know WHAT WORRIES YOU? What are you afraid to ask?

        Ask it today.

        Do it.

        No one here thinks these questions are foolish. We began this blog to help pull back the "curtain" surrounding publication and with hundreds of books to our credit, we've got a pretty good take on the ins, the outs, the good, the bad and the ugly.

        Now it's your turn. Fire out the questions, friends, and I've got two copies of my current Maggie finalist "At Home in Wishing Bridge" for two lucky commenters.


        Offer a comment or question to get into the drawing for Thea's story and see for yourself why so many folks email and message Ruthy to find out how they can get to Wishing Bridge... A town where prayers are built on wishes and dreams.

        Multi-published, award-winning, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is busy getting sweaty on her Western New York pumpkin farm this time of year, which makes that cute pic kind of propaganda, but no one needs to see Ruthy a mess, right? Friend her on facebook, check out her website ruthloganherne.com and/or follow her on Twitter where her more conservative views are not always met with LOVE! Silly Twitterverse! Or you can email her at loganherne@gmail.com
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        Missy Tippens

        I recently did a blog interview where I was asked about my first Seekerville post. I thought I would do something fun today. I'm sharing that first post from October 23, 2007! I think it can be encouragement for new writers or any writers having a hard time.

        So, here's old Missy (or should I say YOUNG Missy?!)...



        Okay, admission time. I'm nervous about this post. Let's face it, I'm in very good company among these Seeker ladies. They're funny (as in Julie's hormonal story), clever and great writers. So as I've been thinking and worrying for the past week about what to write (and checking out the other posts to see what I have to live up to!), it hit me that what I'm having is kind of like first-contest jitters.


        Photo of Missy from 2007!
        How hard was it to send out your first contest entry?



        Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to describe the terror. For one thing, at the time, I printed my entry, then went to the store or the church to make copies. Don't ask my why I never thought to print 4 or 5 copies. I made those trips to a copier for at least a year or two. And of course, that meant checking each copy to make sure everything had copied correctly (it didn't always).


        So on that first trip to make copies for my first contest, I spread stacks all over the floor, checking the pages as I went. Then I bound everything with the exact kind of binder clips the contest required. Then I filled out and signed the entry form, once again reading each and every little rule to make sure I had complied--margins, font, spacing, page numbers, headings, name nowhere in sight. Then I labeled the package (mailed in the required envelope with no signature required), inserted the return envelope (no metered postage!), and finally read and re-read the address I was mailing it to. By the time I finished, my stomach hurt from the stress. Then when the postal man took it, I really thought I might throw up on him. What had I done? What if I had 26 lines on one page?! What if my name was on the synopsis?! Mary has a term for this--Senders Remorse (or something like that).



        Well, I eventually got over the trauma of mailing that thing off. And my positive nature took over. Surely, everything was perfect. They would love my baby. My heart and soul had gone into the story, and I just knew it would final, an editor would love it, and I would make my first sale.

        WRONG! When the time came for finalist calls (yes, at the time I posted sticky notes on my monitor that had the date of each contest announcement), did I get a call? No. I didn't. I was disappointed, but not devastated. Maybe next time. I bet I came close.


        Wrong again. Eventually, the packet came in the mail. I was actually a little excited to see the feedback. But nothing prepared me for finding a sheet of paper that told the standing of all the entries (by number, of course, not name). I tied for 35th place out of 37 entries. Or gosh, there may have only been 36 entries. (See, Janet, I feel your pain with the similar results!)


        I can't begin to tell you how humiliated I was. I remember my face burning. And I cried. I told myself I would NEVER, EVER enter another contest again. Of course, I wasn't going to ever write again anyway, so it wouldn't even matter. Surely, if I was bad enough to fall that low in the pack, then I didn't need to be writing anyway.



        Obviously, I managed to keep going. I'm too hard-headed. And I just loved writing too much. So I tossed that envelope in a pile in the basement and moved forward. It was a good while before I entered another contest, though. I joined a critique group, then entered a couple of contests soon after revising the story. And it wasn't long before I finaled in the Laurie. What a thrill! And what a reward for staying on the course, even through the devastation. I remember that at the time I finaled in the Laurie, I was once again considering quitting (I don't remember why). I decided at the time that God had placed that final at the just the right time to encourage me. So I kept going. (But, hey, that topic is for another post.)

        Anyway, tell us what mailing your first contest entry like. Did you nearly throw up on the poor postal worker like I almost did? :)

        ****
        New, older Missy again (notice I didn't say old!)...

        So writers, tell me about your first contest entry! And readers, can you share a time where you put yourself out there and took a risk? Something I keep thinking about after reading this post so many years later: WHAT IF I HAD GIVEN UP THEN? I hope this can be a call for all of us to push through the discouragement and hard times and KEEP GOING.


        Current photo!
        After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.
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        If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com







        Monday: Mary Connealy likened writing to plowing a rough field. Lots of great advice!

        Tuesday: Tara Johnson shared her own personal experience battling identity and acclaim/recognition. Winner's choice of either Engraved on the Heart or Where Dandelions Bloom goes to

        Wednesday: Mindy Obenhaus gave us some tips on handling change in Roll with the Changes. The winner of an advanced copy of her upcoming release, Rocky Mountain Reunion, is Glynis! 

        Thursday/Friday: Seekerville was closed to celebrate the 4th of July!


        Monday:  Missy Tippens will be brining a post titled "What if I Had Given Up Then?" Hoping to share some encouragement, she's re-posting her first ever Seekerville post. If you've ever thought of giving up writing, you don't want to miss this!

        Wednesday: INTERACTIVE POST WITH SEEKERS!!!! Ruthy is our hostess today and she's throwing open the Writers' Brain Trust doors and you can ask ANY QUESTION YOU WANT and we will try to answer it honestly.  
        Are you worried about print publishing?
        We'll tell  you our take on it.
        How can you be ready for the CALL???
        We'll advise you.
        Can you really, really, really do this???
        Well... let's see! Because the Seekers don't beat around the bush and they long for your absolute success, whatever you do. Join Ruthy and whoever gathers at the drinking fountain on Wednesday and let's talk frankly about writing/publishing/social media... whatever YOU WANT TO KNOW!!!!
          
        Friday: Janice Cantore will be in the house!







        Ruthy is over the moon with her 25th LOVE INSPIRED being released! Fully released on 7/1 "Healing the Cowboy's Heart" is already garnering messages, notes and emails as Ruthy finishes up her "Shepherd's Crossing" series in a big way. Congratulations, Ruthy! Available in stores nationwide right now and online at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book dot com!



        SUMMER OF SUSPENSE features 16 stories by your favorite Christian Authors.
        Pre-order now for only 99 cents!!!
        Nook https://bit.ly/2DZC0YQ 
        Apple https://apple.co/2VcpYkA 
        Amazon https://amzn.to/2VsrPqs
        Available Aug 6th. Post-release price: $9.99.

        Here’s a sneak peek at Debby Giusti's story, ON THE RUN…
        When Annalise Bonner reports a murder at Lakeside Lab’s guarded compound, security wants her silenced. Her only hope is Matt Mayor, the man she loved and left because of a covert military assignment. Can she trust Matt not only with her life but also her heart?

        Knowing she’s in danger, Matt secrets Anna away from the remote Tennessee research enclave to the Amish community of Ethridge and on to the North Georgia Mountains as a multistate manhunt mounts. Running out of options to keep Anna safe, Matt will sacrifice anything—including his life—to save the woman he loves.







        Recognizing The Abundance of God's Provision by Edie Melson at The Writer Conversation

        Revising Your Manuscript in Scrivener by Gwen Hernandez at Writer Unboxed

        Legendary by Donald Maass at Writer Unboxed

        Journey To The Perfect Book Cover by Helen Baggott at ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors

        More Reasons for Writers to Use Pseudonums by Karen Van Den Heuvel at Thyme For Writers

        Taking Your Writing To The Next Level: Whole-Life Art by K.M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors

        Put A Stop To Procrastination - TODAY by Shanna Swendson at Fiction University

        Understand Your Premise To Understand Your Novel by Janice Hardy at Fiction University

        Tools For Authors: How To Make Ads With Book Brush by Clayton Noblit at WrittenWord

        A Step-By-Step Guide To Build Your Author Website by Kelsey Worsham at WrittenWord




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