Seekerville: The Journey Continues


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well

 By Debby Giusti

Growing up as an Army brat and then an Army wife, my family and I delineated the passage of time according to where we had been stationed. We’d say something like, “Such and such happened when we lived at Fort Irwin or before we moved to Germany or after our assignment to the Army War College.”

Similarly, when the children were in school we would reference time by their various school terms, recalling events that happened before Mary started middle school or following Liz’s graduation from high school or when Joseph started college.

After my husband retired and the children were grown, the days passed one after another without much variation except for additional candles on our birthday cakes.         

In 2020, the pandemic ushered in a new way to mark time! From March on of that year, everything became either Pre-COVID or Post-COVID.            

Pre-COVID, my husband and I took yearly trips to Europe and frequent excursions within the United States to destinations that fueled my imagination and helped my creative muse to flow. After the country shut down, going to church and the grocery stores were my major outings. A family vacation to the beach in 2021 made us feel extremely adventurous.            

In the last few months, more COVID restrictions have lifted, and there’s a renewed sense of getting back to our Pre-COVID routines. For my husband and me, that meant taking a trip with our local church group.   

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well


Three weeks ago, we boarded a chartered bus and headed to Blue Ridge, Georgia, where we stepped back in time for a 26-mile ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Train. The friendly conductor punched our tickets as we settled into Car 549 that first transported passengers in the 1930s. Today it’s part of the historic rail line that took us along the Toccoa River to the mountain towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and the sister city of Copperhill, located across the state line in Tennessee.           

The original tracks were laid in the 1880s, and in the early days, the railway helped the mining and timber industries, encouraged the growth of towns and connected folks living along the Toccoa River by providing mail deliveries and supplies. Telegraph poles can still be seen next to the tracks and conjure up stories about life for rural Georgians before the turn of the twentieth century. The last passenger train was retired in 1951, but the line was resurrected in 1998 by a group of Blue Ridge citizens who understood the draw an old-time railroad line would have and the boon it would be to local commerce in that part of Georgia. Pre-COVID, more than 78,000 passengers traveled on the scenic line each year.

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well
Can you spot the T-shaped telegraph pole?

We enjoyed our excursion as the train chugged along at fifteen miles per hour through the idyllic countryside, rolling hills, and lush valleys where we basked in the beauty of Georgia. The weather was perfect, and we spent most of the trip in an open-air car, breathing in the mountain freshness and feasting on the bucolic scenery.

The train’s plaintive whistle echoed through the hills alerting folks of its approach whenever we passed homes—some expansive and modern, others small and cozy. In true neighborly fashion, folks stopped what they were doing and waved as we passed. The Toccoa River is known for trout fishing, and we spotted a number of anglers in their waders casting their reels in the fast-flowing waters. Although intent on their sport, even they nodded a greeting as they waited for a nibble on their lines.     

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well


 The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway runs five days a week transporting four hundred passengers on each trip to McCaysville and Copperhill, the two towns along the Georgia-Tennessee state line, for a lunch and shopping stop. The friendly townspeople, restaurateurs and shop owners welcomed us with open arms. We ate at a delightful riverfront eatery where we soaked in the peaceful ambiance before we hurried back to our train when the whistle alerted us it was time to board for our return to Blue Ridge.            

The day made me realize how I missed the trips and excursions we took Pre-COVID. Sightseeing, learning historical facts and enjoying the food and culture of new areas stimulates this writer. The sights and sounds refresh my spirit and help me conjure up new plot points to weave into my work in progress. They fuel ideas for future stories as well.

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well

International travel is exciting, but I’ll wait until I don’t have to take COVID tests, wear masks or worry about being quarantined in a foreign country. Longer trips within the US will be in our not-too-distant future, but until then, short trips provide refreshing, uplifting breaks in the daily routine to charge my creative batteries and provide fodder for my stories.           

Are there local trips you plan to take or have on your short-term bucket list? Do occasional escapes to nearby parks or gardens provide a much-needed break to fill your creative well? Perhaps you’re an armchair traveler who finds inspiration either through travel books or historical publications? Share the changes in your daily routine from Pre- to Post-COVID and how you’ve been able to prime your creative well during this time.

I’m giving away two copies of my June reissue MILITARY PROTECTOR, that includes two of my earlier stories, The Officer’s Secret and The Soldier’s Sister. Let me know if you’d like to be included in the drawing. 

Happy traveling, dear friends! Toot! Toot!

Wishing you abundant blessings!

Debby Giusti

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing Well

The Officer’s Secret

In the middle of the night, Maggie Bennett finds her army officer sister dead in her military housing. But as US Army criminal investigations agent Nate Patterson begins asking questions, Maggie can’t tell the handsome man everything she knows. Except that her sister was definitely murdered—for a secret Maggie can’t share. Then she walks into the killer’s trap and has to trust Nate with the truth…and her heart.

The Soldier’s Sister

Someone wants Stephanie Upton dead. Fearing for her life, Stephanie turns to Special Agent Brody Goodman for help. But can she trust him when he’s convinced her own brother is a prime suspect? Torn between her devotion to her brother and the agent she may be falling for, Stephanie doesn’t know who or what to believe. But soon she’ll have to choose sides to stay alive…

Pre-Order NOW!

Writing: Art or Business?


Writing: Art or Business?
Hello, Seekerville!

My husband and I (along with our youngest son) just returned yesterday afternoon from a trip east to visit family. From South Dakota to Iowa, to Indiana, to Michigan, to Minnesota, and then home. Nine days, 3000 miles. We're glad to be home again!

But in spite of all my planning, I had no internet access for the entire trip. The wi-fi card in my little traveling computer didn't work and my phone isn't set up to be my #1 computer. So my vacation was a true vacation, right? Except for the work I had been planning to do while we traveled, including writing today's Seekerville post. 

No worries! Welcome to Jan Drexler's blog from March 2015! I hope you enjoy it!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Last year I joined our local writers group. It’s a secular group with a broad range of writing experiences and goals among the members. And like any group of writers, there are a lot of aspiring authors who come to learn and grow. Several of the members have had some success in the indie publishing field, but I’m the only regular attender who is traditionally published.

Writing: Art or Business?

The Prodigal Son Returns
Published by Love Inspired, May 2013
order HERE

That, plus the fact that I’m new means that they really aren’t sure about me yet. (That’s okay. Sometimes I’m not sure about them, either!)

One of the other members and I walked out to our cars together last month. She hadn’t realized before that meeting that I’m a published author with multiple contracts waiting to be fulfilled (i.e. I should spend all of my time writing!).

“How did you do it?” She thought she really wanted to know.

I hesitated for a half-minute. She wasn’t going to be happy with what I wanted to say, so I started with my standby answer for that question:

“I entered contests that put my name and my story in front of publishers and agents.”

Her eyes narrowed.

“You’re published by Harlequin, right?”

“Yes, by Love Inspired, Harlequin’s Inspirational line.”

She looked past my shoulder and unlocked her car door. “Don’t they have pretty strict guidelines? Don’t they make you change your story?”

“They expect you to make revisions to improve your story and so that it will fit their style. Every publisher does.”

She tossed her bag into her car. She said goodbye. She drove away. No, she didn’t really want to hear what I had to say.

If she had stayed around, ready to chat under the street lights on that unusually balmy February evening, I would have told her a secret.

Writing: Art or Business?

A Mother for His Children
Published by Love Inspired, August 2014
order HERE

Writing is an art. But once you hit the send button, it becomes a business.

When you’re in your writing cave, your story is all your own. It’s a wonderful thing to spend an hour or two every day in a world peopled by characters you’ve created. At this point, writing is all about imagination, craft, and answering the “What if?” questions.

I love this part of the process. It’s a little like giving birth, with all the pain, agony, and delight that accompanies bringing a new life into the world. It’s exhilarating! And it’s all yours!

But if you want to become a published author, once you’ve finished your story you need to switch modes. This story needs to have a life of its own.

Let’s take the birth analogy a little bit further. If you’ve raised children, you know that it is unhealthy (and impossible!) to force them to remain babies forever. They need to walk, to explore, to become separate people from their parents. As much as we delight in babies, we don’t want them to turn into some twisted copy of ourselves. We want them to become the people God intended them to be. To become adults.

The same goes for your story. If you have any desire to publish your work, you must put it out there for others to see. You have to listen to and evaluate comments from critique groups, contest judges, and eventually, potential agents and publishers. Why? Because these are the people who are helping your baby grow into a self-sufficient adult.

Writing: Art or Business?

A Home for His Family
Published by Love Inspired, September 2015
order HERE

Some authors hold on to their stories too tightly. They keep their writing snagged within their prideful grasp, thinking no one else understands their story like they do. They refuse to accept help to make it better, and they refuse to change anything to make it fit someone else’s standards.

If you want to be published, you won’t be that kind of author.
You’ll be the kind of author who understands that once you hit “send,” your story is now a business. Rather than keeping it close to your heart, you humbly open your hands and let it grow.

If an agent suggests that your story will sell better told in third person rather than first person, you start planning how to make that change and still keep the meat of your story intact.

When an editor sends you a list of revisions that need to be made and invites you to resubmit your story, you put everything else aside and make those changes.

When you get a request for a partial or full manuscript, you comply in a timely manner because that’s good business practice.

Soon you’ll find that those changes and revisions make your story stronger. More complete. Saleable.

Writing: Art or Business?

Hannah's Choice
Published by Revell 2016
order HERE

And when you see your book for the first time, you’ll cry. You really will. Because that’s what parents do when they see their babies all grown up.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *
Welcome back to 2022!

I'm still treating my writing as a business. Next week, on May 25, my first indie published book will be released! You can preorder it NOW!!! 

Writing: Art or Business?

Ebook is available for preorder now!

Emma Blackwood’s favorite pastime is solving literary murder mysteries…until the body in her living room makes everything a little too real.
When Emma comes to the Black Hills to work at her Aunt Rose’s B&B, the Sweetbrier Inn, she is hoping for a quiet break from the corporate treadmill. But she hadn’t expected murder and intrigue to mar this peaceful setting.
As she wades through too many clues to identify the murderer, she soon finds that the culprit isn’t stopping at only one homicide and may even have placed Emma herself on the list of targets. With the help of her friend Becky, and a deputy sheriff who grudgingly lets them join in on the investigation, Emma tracks down the killer. But will it be in time to save the next victim?

Which kind of author will you be? What do you need to do to move your writing from art to business? #NoLimits!

One commenter will win an ebook copy of "The Sign of the Calico Quartz!" 

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests


Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests
Jesus giving the Farewell Discourse to his eleven remaining disciples
after the Last Supper, from the Maestà by Duccio, c. 1310. [PD-US]

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

John 13:31-33a, 34-35

The Seekerville bloggers are praying for YOU and for our entire blog community. If you have any special intentions that need additional prayer coverage, leave a request for prayer in the comment section below. 

Please join us in praying for our country and for an end to the rising economy. Also, please pray for the people of Ukraine, for a halt to Russian aggression, and 
for the protection of our military.


We are so grateful for all of you—for your friendship and your support! 

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe.   

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition

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.  Please send to If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected.

Monday: Hannah Mae Linder

Tuesday: Gabrielle Meyer was our guest, talking all things Book SWAG, and she gave away a fabulous prize! The winner of her book and swag bundle is: 

Wednesday: Ruthy 


Weekend Edition

Monday:  Jan

Wednesday:  Debby Giusti will be talking about "Inspirational Travel." Stop by to say hello and join in the conversation.
Thursday: Winnie will decide on her topic as soon as she turns her next book in on Monday morning :)

Friday: Debby Giusti is hosting Bestselling Author of Amish Fiction Jennifer Beckstrand who will be talking about character development. Stop by to say hello!

Weekend Edition

a 2-IN-1 featuring
The Officer's Secret and The Soldiers Sister
by Debby Giusti
Releasing June 2022
Weekend Edition
Pre-order NOW!

Weekend Edition

Done with Your Draft - What's Next? by CS Lakin at Live Write Thrive

Setting a Good Pace - How to be Realistic with Your Writing Time by Susan L Tuttle at Learn How To Write A Novel

How to Create a Powerful Synopsis to Sell Your Novel by Kris Maze at Writers In The Storm

Using Crisis to Reveal Character by September C Fawkes at Writers Helping Writers

Does My Fantasy Novel Actually Need A Map? by Rebecca Jean at Writer's Edit

How to Reverse Outline Your Novel by Hannah Bauman at Between The Lines Editorial

Win a Bundle of Sweet Contemporary Romances at BookSweeps

Don't Miss God's Good in Your Writing by Tim Suddeth at The Write Conversation

Sweet Emotion by James Scott Bell at The Kill Zone blog

Best Friends in Love by Elizabeth Maddrey at Inspy Romance

Remembering Vince Mooney (June 14, 1944 - April 29, 2022) ... With Love.

 Vince Mooney, a good and dear friend to Seekerville and the Seekers went home to heaven two weeks ago. When we heard that Vince had entered hospice last fall, we wrote this tribute to him. We repeat it now, knowing that a good, kind, funny, cryptic, smart man has made heaven a more philosophical place than it was on April 28, 2022.

We love you Vince and Linda Mooney... you've stood tall for faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.


Remembering Vince Mooney (June 14, 1944 - April 29, 2022) ... With Love.

BACKSTORY: Sixteen years ago a group of fifteen contest-winning unpublished Christian/Inspirational authors formed a group with one sole goal: To pray one another into publication by a royalty-paying publisher.

Their dreams came true when Pam Hillman was offered her Tyndale contracts. YAY! WE DID IT!

Back in 2007 that original group of 15 started a writers' blog and called it "Seekerville". The goal was to encourage and help aspiring authors, meet readers and build a platform for book launches. The blog-- this blog!-- was successful on all three. Blessed by the work of many and the faith of all, Seekerville was born and achieved the coveted "Top 101 Writing Blogs" multiple years in a row. 

A lot has changed! 

Many of the original Seekers have retired or gone their own way. Life happens.

New bloggers were welcomed on-board and we forge on, loving books, writing, readers and the chance to connect with both through this blog. Vince was right there, encouraging us to keep on keepin' on as seen in this "Changing of the Guard" post nearly five years ago:

From the beginning, or nearly the beginning, Vince Mooney Jr. has been a constant. He's encouraged, laughed, lamented, learned and taught with his wisdom, a wisdom gained through life, love and liberty. A well-read man of faith, a veteran, a sage, philosopher and successful businessman, Vince's comments were often a blog in themselves and he's never been afraid to argue or back up his points.

We've loved him for years. He and his wife Linda have welcomed Seekers with open arms when we've visited Oklahoma. His Amazon reviews are amazing, but then he is amazing so that's no surprise. 

Vince's "Philosophy of Romance" blog offered advice, wisdom and kudos to various authors. I was blessed to be one of those authors. I was blessed to know Vince, to win his love and support, to spar with him, laugh with him, and if we lived closer, I'd have had coffee with him on a regular basis. Yeah. He's that smart. :)

Vince has entered what he predicts to be a short-term hospice. Today's post is to thank him for his love, his words, his wisdom, his constancy, his support and that beautiful faith that has sustained him. Vince, my friend... from me personally... I don't have the right words to tell you how much your love, support, encouragement and enthusiasm for my work has meant to me. I am so glad to have known you for so long... what a blessing to me! And I have never forgotten your reaction to my debut novel... and my gratitude for your belief in me.

Go with God, my friend. I'll miss you. We all will. But that's the way of life, isn't it?

Until we meet again...


Remembering Vince Mooney (June 14, 1944 - April 29, 2022) ... With Love.

 Dear Vince,


Thanks for your support and encouragement over the years. One of my biggest thrills was having THE OFFICER’S SECRET selected as the Philosophy of Romance Inspirational Suspense Book of the Year! You've always been so willing to affirm my writing, and your positive comments have meant so much to me. I still remember your praise for my novella, YULE DIE. Your kind words continue to buoy me, especially when I'm struggling to create a new story and feeling at low ebb. You’re a great cheerleader, Vince, which is what every writer needs.


Thanks, too, for being a loyal Seekervillager. Your posts always provided food for thought and lots of sound advice. You’re a Renaissance Man, dear Vince, and certainly one of a kind. You’ve enhanced my life in so many special ways.


May God bless you. I know the Lord’s holding you in the palm of His hand, and in His perfect time, will call you home to Eternal Glory. Prayers for the journey, dear friend, and God speed!


With love, prayers and gratitude,

Debby Giusti

Remembering Vince Mooney (June 14, 1944 - April 29, 2022) ... With Love.

Dear Vince,

I want you to know that you always have been, and always will be, one of my favorite people, not only in Seekerville, but in the world. So much so that, as you know, I named a character after you in one of my books and then dedicated another to you as well – A Wing and a Prayer – because YOU were the creative force behind this story, my friend. As I said in that dedication, you never cease to amaze (and bless) me with your incredibly brilliant and fertile mind, and I will be forever grateful for both your creative input and your precious friendship. God bless and keep you always. 



From Myra Johnson:

Vince, I will always remember my delight in meeting you in person when you came to one of my very first book signings. Remember Steve’s Sundry in Tulsa? What a special day! You have been such a staunch encourager and advocate for authors of romantic Christian fiction. I treasure your insightful reviews, and I’m honored to know you, truly a man of integrity and deep faith. Praying God’s comfort and strength upon you and your dear wife, now and always.

From Janet Dean...

I treasure knowing Vince Mooney, both as a reviewer of my books and as a vital, faithful member of the community of Seekerville. Vince is a man of faith, well-read, intelligent, and generous with this time and yes, with his opinions. His views might sometimes differ from mine but his points always made me think. His reviews brought depth and meaning to romance books that rightly elevated our genre and encouraged us writers. When I was struggling with getting words on the page, I’d sometimes reread a couple of his reviews and receive a boost to keep on keeping on. When I was active in Seekerville, I appreciated his male point of view and could count on him to show up each day with fresh perspectives and occasionally controversy that made our exchanges interesting. I think of Vince as a true Renaissance man.


God bless you, Vince, on your journey home. My love goes with you.

Janet Dean 

From Mary Connealy:

I had the pleasure of meeting Vince once, and his wife Linda. 

I did a book signing in Tulsa Oklahoma with Ruth Logan Herne and Tina Radcliff, inspired by Tina having lived in Tulsa at one time and setting her book there. 

Vince came to our signing and made us feel welcome in everyway. We visited the Will Rogers Museum with him and shared a meal. I learned so much about Will Rogers from the museum and also from our trusty tour guide Vince. 

Now when I think of Will Rogers, which I do frequently because he’s such a great humorist and cowboy, and his trick roping is fascinating, I think of Vince and what a fan he was of Rogers and how he compared me and my romantic comedy with cowboys to Will Rogers. I consider that a great honor. Vince Yates, the hero of Stuck Together, book #3 of the Trouble in Texas series, is named for Vince.

Vince had been a faithful follower of Seekerville for years and with his marketing background, has always been full of advice that’s different that what we usually get from people more centered on writing. He’s a friend and an encourager and a man of faith. Thank you, Vince. 

Remembering Vince Mooney (June 14, 1944 - April 29, 2022) ... With Love.

From Sandra Leesmith:

Dear Vince, 

What a blessing you have been to all of us in Seekerville.  And you have always been a blessing to me as a writer.  You have an uncanny/godly gift of always saying the right thing at the right time. Your words to me were always right on time.  I always thank God for that my dear friend.  You probably have no idea how much your words touched my heart just when I needed them the most.  I always felt so honored that you enjoyed my books.  And I treasured your reviews.  Thank you dear friend.  Know you will always have a special place in my heart. Love and hugs, 


And so it is that as we pass through life we touch people's lives in so many ways. Their hopes, their dreams, their thoughts, their beginnings and sometimes their ends.

Vince, I hope you see this. I hope you know how much you are loved and respected by so many. And we all hope that when we reconnect in God's heavenly kingdom, we can raise a cup to your health, hope and happiness. All things you shared with us.

"May the Lord bless and keep you. May his face shine upon you and give you peace."


Another Winter Gone

 It's a saying we use up north and it's usually uttered cryptically, sarcastically or candidly ..

"Got through another winter."

There may be a wry note or a hike of expectation. It might be a declaration of success or an anticipation that no matter what you do, winter will come again.

"Got through another winter."

It's funny... and sometimes sad. Sad because not everyone makes it through a rough winter. It's not a guarantee.

I was thinking of this the other day as we were organizing the attic. My attic is finished. It's got two finished rooms, long before the advent of "bonus rooms" in houses up here.

FYI: Bonus rooms are a clever way of getting around a bigger septic system because the size of your septic system here is governed by the number of bedrooms in your house. So a 4 bedroom house must have a bigger system than a 3 bedroom or 2 bedroom and septic systems here are five-figure investments... So that adds up really quick. So houses have begun incorporating "bonus rooms" so that they're not flagged for a bigger, pricier septic system.

I love my attic. At least I will love it again when it's cleared out, so between yesterday and today we organized, filled totes, labeled and moved all those books to the big shed. The sales shed is 14' x 36' so it's like a small house. :) We love this shed. Built by a formerly Amish family in Pennsylvania, they trailered it up last spring and I honestly don't know what we did without it! But I digress, the two-room attic had become a hidden harbor for books. 

Another Winter Gone

So many books! My books! The generosity of publishers meant I had hundreds of books to give away every year so even if I had 50 books that didn't get given away, over 11 years, that's 550 extra books. :) That's a lot of books.  So we've been doing book giveaways for assisted living centers, nursing homes, senior apartments or neighborhoods, fundraisers... we've been making sure that we're getting them out there, but there were still enough to fill 14 plastic totes of varying sizes, but we got smart.... We sorted them, got appropriately sized totes, labeled them and they're all living in their own spot in the big sales shed... My goal to reclaim my attic is near at hand. :) 

What does reclaiming the attic have to do with writing or books or winter?

Stories are created in a step-by-step fashion. They're never a single entity, they're a blending of setting, characters, plot, angst, desire, goals, conflict and resolution, and when an author finishes a book... when we do that last round of edits, that final polish, that slice-and-dice to tighten the laces on a really great new pair of boots, it's like clearing out the attic. Or a closet. Or a pantry. It's that feeling of success and satisfaction. Only--

At least at Blodgett Family Farm--

No one pays me to clean a closet or an attic or a room or anything, LOL! 

But they do pay me to write books, and that's a wonderful reason to finish the book, wrap it up, take a deep breath and move on to the next one.

In my life there's always another room to clean and in my professional life (so far)...

There's always another book to write because it's a lot like getting through another winter. The truth is that I love writing stories...

And I actually like winter because there's nothing like the anticipation of spring and color and grass and flowers and warmth once you've mastered winter. It's a natural high...

So I'm happy to say...

"Got through another winter."

And we're mighty glad it's spring! 

Another Winter Gone

Another Winter Gone

Bestselling inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is living the life she dreamed of a long time ago when she was a little girl, longing to write the stories she loved to read. Here she is, author of nearly 70 books and co-owner of a popular pumpkin farm that delights old and young alike. Come see her on the farm, friend her on Facebook, email Ruthy at , visit her website or visit with her here in Seekerville. She makes a mean cup of coffee and loves to chat with people! 

Five Tips for Choosing Great SWAG! With Gabrielle Meyer!

Erica Here: It's my pleasure to be hosting my friend, Gabrielle Meyer, here on Seekerville today! She's got a fabulous giveaway for you, but first, read this fun article on how authors choose the SWAG that they give to readers with their new releases!

Five Tips for Choosing Great SWAG

Hello Seekers. I’m Gabrielle Meyer and I’m thrilled to be back on Seekerville. Today, I thought
we’d talk about swag, which, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is “promotional goods
or items.” When I think of swag, my mind immediately goes to a conference or convention
where vendors give away free items to draw you into their booth and promote their product.

In the book industry, swag often means a free item associated with a book or a particular author.
There is a lot of different swag ideas. Notebooks, pens, coffee cups, stickers, chocolate,
chapstick, letter openers, flash drives, pocket mirrors and brushes, and keychains are some that
I’ve seen. The swag often has the author’s name and website printed on it, and sometimes a
particular book.

As an author, how do you decide what items to give away? I’ve come up with five tips that I use
when I’m planning swag.

  1. Useable. Is the item something the reader can use? I’m kind of a stickler when it comesto purposeful gifts. I hate wastefulness, so I try to offer swag that is useable, often consumable. Last year, for the Mississippi River Readers Retreat, I gave away chapstick with my name and website on the label. Recently, a reader messaged me and said that she uses it every day!
  2. Recognizable. Is the item something that will make the reader think of me when she uses it? Does it have my name and website on it somewhere? Is there a picture of my book? Is it something so unique, she’ll remember me each time she sees it? I don’t want her to forget where it came from, because it’s meant to promote my book, after all.
  3. Size. Is the item easy to carry? Mail? Use on a daily basis? For my recent release, When the Day Comes, I wanted to offer incentive swag to give away when someone preordered my book from Baker Book House. Because it had to be flat and lightweight, I decided on a bookmark, but not a paper bookmark that is easily discarded. Instead, I handmade ribbon bookmarks with a clock charm to represent my time-crossing novel. The result was elegant, like my book, and drew a lot of attention. It was also easy to mail!
  4. Cost. Think about your budget and how many qualities items you can purchase within that budget. For the Mississippi River Readers Retreat, I needed a hundred and fifty pieces of swag. The chapstick, with the customizable labels, cost me about sixty cents per unit. I felt that it was a good use of my budget and wasn’t something that would be easily discarded. 
  5. Consider Your Audience. This is one of the most important tips. As you plan your swag, think about the person receiving it and what they would enjoy. If you fit within your target demographic, think about what you would like. I knew that almost everyone attending the Mississippi River Readers Retreat were women, about my age, and, like me, they probably carry purses with chapstick. This was an easy choice.

Swag is a fun way to say thank you to your readers or to create buzz about your book. There is 
no right or wrong swag, though some items offer a little more bang for your buck. By being 
thoughtful and purposeful ahead of time, your reader—and you—will reap the benefits of good 

Your Turn: What is the best swag you’ve given or received? Do you have any thoughts for authors looking for swag ideas?

Five Tips for Choosing Great SWAG! With Gabrielle Meyer!

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the upper Mississippi River with her 
husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love 
with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people, 
places, and events. You can learn more about Gabrielle and her books at

Five Tips for Choosing Great SWAG! With Gabrielle Meyer!
When the Day Comes

Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the 

other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the 
other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different 

In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal 
Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, 
Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any 
hope of love--are put in jeopardy.

Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. 
But the only work she cares about--women's suffrage--is discouraged, and her mother is intent on 
marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates 

But Libby knows she's not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she 
must choose one path and forfeit the other--but how can she choose when she has so much to 
lose in each life?

Gabrielle is generously giving away:
  1. A copy of When the Day Comes
  2. A handmade velvet ribbon bookmark
  3. Handmade drop earrings
  4. A customized chapstick
To enter, leave a comment. A winner will be drawn an announced on the Weekend Edition. US Resident only, please!

Five Tips for Choosing Great SWAG! With Gabrielle Meyer!


One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover


One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover

Good Monday morning, Seekerville! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author and professional cover designer Hannah Linder to share what works for her when narrowing down the elements for a book cover.


Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover 

Ms. Example Author has just typed the end on her baby. Her book baby. She’s cried over the manuscript, prayed over it, worked through a thousand kinks—and she’s finally ready to deliver this infant into the world of publishing. This brings her to a crucial stage: the book cover design. What should go on the cover? Which themes, characters, settings, or struggles are vital enough that they should be represented in the design?

So, with enthusiasm and lots of squeals, Ms. Example Author hurries to her keyboard and types her designer this e-mail: “I would like my middle-aged, purple-haired, thin-faced heroine (who also walks with crutches and usually wears a leather jacket) standing outside of her yellow duplex with her curly-haired, next-door neighbor reaching for her hand, a tabby cat sitting in the window, and a red package sticking out of the tin mailbox. And oh yeah, can we add a graveyard in there too? That’s an important part of the story, so we must get that in there somewhere!"

As you might agree, this request already has our brains hurting. Just imagine smashing all this into a book cover! So, how do we proceed with this? How can you, as the designer or the author, help narrow down the basics to portray the most important aspects of your book without overloading the design?

Here’s a quick method that works for me. Let’s run through the questions!

  • What is the genre? A big determining factor on how much, or how little, should go on your cover should be decided after perusing other books in your genre. Nonfiction? Let’s go as simple as possible. Less is more. Historical fiction? We can probably establish the main character, setting, and emotion—and throw in some embellishments too. So do some research and determine what does or doesn’t align with your genre’s current trends.
One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover

  • What is the theme? Surprisingly enough, this is a question for both nonfiction and fiction titles. Granted, it may be more important in deciding for a nonfiction book—because hey, if the recurring theme is beauty from brokenness, let’s throw in something like a flower growing from cracked pavement, right? But the theme of your novel can be helpful to evaluate too. For example, if your protagonist must learn to forgive his father, whose dog tags he wears about his neck, that gives us a starting place. Should said protagonist be on the cover? Should the dog tags, which we’ve now established are an important aspect of the story, be hanging about his neck? If nothing else, knowing your book’s theme will help you identify the emotion your book cover should illuminate. 

One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover

  • What is most important? This can be a hard one because running back to our Ms. Example Author, she might argue that all the things she mentioned in her e-mail were an important part of the story. But let’s narrow it down. Who is the main character? What is the central plot of the story? What is the main setting? What scene or visual would best pull the viewer into your world—and how can you represent that scene or visual in the simplest way?
One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover

  • What is the takeaway? When you present a potential reader with a book cover, you are giving them one glimpse into the world of your book. Sometimes you’ve only got a second before they scroll on, pass to the next shelf, or slide your book back into another stack. So, you need to determine now what the takeaway of your cover should be. Will it promise suspense? Romance? History? A great psychological truth? If you’re throwing too much at the viewer in one book cover, they’ll walk away feeling a little unsure and without that solid impression they need. Make sure the aura, the feel, of your story is going to come out strong in your cover. 

One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover

In conclusion, I defer again to the saying, “Less is more.” Be consistent with your genre, stay in mood with your theme, highlight the most important aspect of your story, and make sure the end result is strong enough to lure readers into your pages and leave an impression. I hope you find this process helpful in deciding what should stay (or not stay) on your book cover. Good luck!  


One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book Cover

Hannah Linder, represented by Books & Such Literary Management, is a Christian fiction author residing in the beautiful mountains of central West Virginia. Her upcoming Regency romantic suspense novel, Beneath His Silence, will be releasing with Barbour Publishing in November of 2022. She is a two-time 2021 Selah Award winner, a 2022 Selah Award finalist, and an ACFW member. Follow her journey at

Also, Hannah is a magna cum laude Graphic Design Associates Degree graduate who specializes in professional book cover design with affordable prices. Having designed for both traditional publishing houses and award-winning authors, Hannah understands the importance of an attractive book cover and the trends of today’s industry. Her clients have included New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors. Find out more at
Authors, what cover design questions do you have for Hannah Linder?
Readers, what attracts you to a book cover?

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Request



Sunday Scripture & Prayer Request
The Good Shepherd, by German Artist Bernard
Plockhorst, 19th C. [PD-US]

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

John 10:27-30 


to all the mothers and to women

with a mother's heart!

The Seekerville bloggers are praying for YOU and for our entire blog community. If you have any special intentions that need additional prayer coverage, leave a request for prayer in the comment section below. 

Please join us in praying for our country and for an end to the rising economy. Also, please pray for the people of Ukraine, for a halt to Russian aggression, and 
for the protection of our military.


We are so grateful for all of you—for your friendship and your support! 

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe.  

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition

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.  Please send to If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected.

Monday: Mary was here to talk about creating characters.

Wednesday: Mindy shared some tips on how to increase your productivity as a writer.

Friday: Fun Friday offered a brain teaser. 13 opening lines to 13 books written by the Seekers! Thanks for playing everyone, it was truly a Fun Friday! The winner of the $20 Amazon Gift Certificate for the most correct answers is ... drumroll ... Tonya! 12 out of 13!!

Weekend Edition

Monday:  Carrie hosts Hannah Mae Linder today to share one thing that works for her when it comes to cover design!

Tuesday: Gabrielle Meyer will be our guest, talking about Book SWAG! And there's a giveaway!

Wednesday: Ruth Logan Herne will offer her words of wisdom with her usual style and flair!

Weekend Edition

a 2-IN-1 featuring
The Officer's Secret and The Soldiers Sister
by Debby Giusti
Releasing June 2022
Weekend Edition
Pre-order NOW!

There are a couple of fun giveaways from Erica Vetsch: 


🎯 Enter to win EIGHT historical intrigue novels by acclaimed authors JaimeJoWright Janyre Tromp, Author michellegriep Kelli Stuart author Erica Vetsch author Crystal Caudill Author Jocelyn Green rachelscottmcdaniel

🎯 Winner: One grand prize winner of 8 books will be chosen at random and announced by May 22.

🎯 Entry deadline: May 21 at 12 noon Eastern.

🎯 Access entry form at the link in my bio or use this link to enter:

Enter to win a copy of every Historical Romance finalist's book in this year's Selah Awards Contest! Enter soon, giveaway ends soon! 

Coming August 23rd!
Preorder your copy here
Weekend Edition

She came home to make things right. Will she be given a second chance?

Gloriana Prescott has returned to her Texas hometown to make amends—even if the townsfolk she left behind aren’t ready to forgive. But when her mother’s ranch manager, Justin Broussard, is tasked with saving the struggling rodeo so his teen daughter can compete, Gloriana sees a chance to prove she’s really changed. But can she prove to Justin, and the town, that she’s trustworthy? 

Available for preorder NOW!

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition

12 Signs Your WordPress Website Is Hacked at WPBEGINNER 

Mark Dawson Self-Publishing Formula 101 by Mark Dawson at Self Publishing Formula

The Role of the Antagonist in Story Structure by KM Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors

Balancing History and Story in Historical Fiction by Shelly Sanders at Writers Digest

About Those New Year's Resolutions by Patricia Bradley at Learn How To Write A Novel

How to Write Your Story with a 5-Act Structure by Rebecca Jean at Writer's Edit

5 Tips for a Successful Book Signing by Lucinda Race at Book Brush blog

What Book Reviews Can Teach Us About Writing by Gina Jackson at Writers Cookbook

DIY Resources to Design a Lead Magnet Cover by Kristen Hogrefe Parnell at The Write Conversation

Storytelling Secrets by Lindi Peterson at Inspy Romance

Disclaimer: Any blog post that includes an offer of product purchase or service is NOT to be considered an endorsement by Seekerville or any of our authors (please see our Legal page )

Inspirational Travel to Prime the Writing WellWriting: Art or Business?Sunday Scripture & Prayer RequestsWeekend EditionRemembering Vince Mooney (June 14, 1944 - April 29, 2022) ... With Love.Another Winter GoneFive Tips for Choosing Great SWAG! With Gabrielle Meyer!One Thing That Works for Me with guest Hannah Linder: Narrowing Down What Should (Or Should Not) Stay on a Book CoverSunday Scripture & Prayer RequestWeekend Edition

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