Seekerville: The Journey Continues | (page 116 of 121)


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Subplots 101

Subplots 101

Think back to your school days. Specifically, to your high school English class.

Think of that reading assignment you enjoyed…until you were in class the next day and the teacher started throwing out words like ‘theme’ and ‘plot.’ Why couldn’t you just enjoy the story?

The thing is, you can enjoy reading a story without dissecting it. But if you’re going to write a story – a good story – you need to know the details that you ignored in your high school English class.

Today we’re going to talk about subplots.

Subplots 101

First, we need to know what a plot is. The basic definition is: The main events of a story presented by the writer in a sequence.

The subplot is a parallel but secondary plot line that supports the main plot. The subplot usually involves secondary characters who interact with the main characters as the plot and subplot intersect.

Think of the plot as an interstate highway. If you’ve ever traveled across the country on I-70, you might have noticed that the highway often intersects with the old highway, US 40. Look at a highway map (like Google maps) to see what I mean. The span between Indianapolis and St. Louis is a perfect example.

I-70 is the main plot. It takes you straight from Indianapolis to St. Louis in a sequence of cities and rest stops. But US 40 takes a parallel route, with stops in small towns and views of rural America that you don’t see from the interstate, adding interest and depth to the journey.

That’s what a subplot does for your story: it adds interest and depth to the plot. But don't forget that the subplot also needs to be directly related to the main plot. You don't want to have two completely different stories going on at the same time. Like the highways, they need to intersect on a regular basis.

Subplots 101

The decision to use a subplot, and how many subplots, depends on your story. In my stories for Love Inspired, I usually have one subplot. In my longer stories for Revell, I will have several subplots.

In a shorter novel, it’s important to concentrate on the main plot. You want your characters to get from point A to point Z without a lot of detours. The action moves quickly, and you don't have a lot of time to wander around in secondary character's stories.

In a longer story, you need subplots to give the story substance. In a story of that length, you have the time to explore all the issues and ideas that the main plot might suggest.

For instance, in “The Sound of Distant Thunder,” my September 2018 release from Revell, my Amish characters are dealing with the effects of the Civil War on their Ohio community. How many issues are brought up in this main conflict? I found several! I use subplots and secondary characters to explore the choices and challenges my characters face.

Subplots 101

I’ll use my book, Naomi’s Hope, as an example. (spoiler alert!)

The main plot centers around motherhood and loss. Naomi’s adopted son, Davey, is curious about his birth family and longs for a father. As Naomi deals with the fear of losing her son, she needs to learn to trust God to keep Davey safe and to bring the situation to the conclusion that pleases Him.

For one of the subplots, I used Naomi’s sister Mattie as the secondary character who has a parallel experience. At the beginning of the story, Mattie is dealing with the burden of infertility. She becomes pregnant, but then suffers the loss of the child part way through the pregnancy.

Subplots 101
Do you see how Naomi’s and Mattie’s experiences are similar? Both love a child that they must face relinquishing through no choice of their own. They both learn that their response to the situation makes all the difference.

By including Mattie’s story, I broaden the effects of Naomi’s story. Naomi’s situation tells the story of motherhood and loss from one perspective. Mattie’s story provides a different slant, strengthening the effect of the theme of the story.

If you’re a writer, how do you use subplots in your stories? Have you thought about the role they play?

If you’re a reader, what are some of your favorite subplots?

Subplots 101

I’m giving away a copy of Cheryl St. John’s “Write Smart Write Happy” to one commenter today. Even though Cheryl wrote this book for writers, I think it provides wonderful inspiration for anyone who wants to take control of the details of their life so they are free to enjoy whatever creative endeavor they engage in.

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.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to
Monday: Lindsay Harrel brought us "7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done." The winner of a copy of The Heart Between Us is Glynis!

Wednesday: Ruth Logan Herne intrigued us with her own special rendition of What Readers Want: A Non-Scientific Fut Fun Poll & Post. A copy of Refuge of the Heart goes to Paula Emmons. Congratulations, Paula!

Friday: Winnie Griggs took us on a journey of Rediscovering the Joy, something all writers need to sit back and enjoy more!

Weekend Edition

Monday:  Jan Drexler will embark on the subject of subplots. Are they really necessary? And how does a writer use them to add depth their stories? And yes, there will be a giveaway, so don't miss it!

Wednesday:  Debby Giusti will talk about Amish suspense, a sub-genre of Amish romance. Be sure to stop by to learn how the suspense stories differ from straight romance in the Amish world.

Thursday:  Kara Isaac comes to us all the way from across the world (for REAL this week) and Kara's going to do something few of us do: Talk honestly about current book sales and the effect on authors. This is not like "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" ... it's a look at how the changing publishing industry is affecting the whole literary food chain, the good, the bad and the ugly. Stop by on Thursday for Kara's post and a little something something from the prize box.

Friday: Guest Dana Lynn will be with us!

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition
Author copies arrived this week for the First Love Forever Collection, featuring Erica Vetsch's novella Prescription for Love! Though the print copies won't ship until 4/1/18, the kindle version is available now! 

Weekend Edition

On the 19th, Jan Drexler starts a week-long blog tour for her newest book, The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart. She's giving away a copy of the book, plus a $10 Amazon gift card. The blog tour is coordinated by fellow Seekers, Annie & Carrie, with JustRead Publicity Tours.

Weekend Edition

On the 21st, Erica Vetsch will be sharing five of her favorites and a giveaway of Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers Romance Collection at Faithfully Bookish with fellow Seeker Beth. 

See if you can spot any Seekers at Faithfully Bookish today! Beth's latest Cover Love installment features book titles and covers inspired by nature and an ebook giveaway of the complete Grace Revealed series by Jennifer Rodewald.

READERS, join the tours to celebrate the re-release of Ruthy Logan Herne's More Than a Promise with JustRead Publicity Tours. You don't even need a blog (just social media)! Sign-ups close on March 27, 2018.

Weekend Edition    Weekend Edition

We'd like to congratulate villager Kathy Bailey on her first sale, made to Pelican Book Group!! Kathy, we can't wait for your debut release!

[Villagers, please email us at the Seeker addy to let us know when you make your first sale. We'd love to announce the sale and celebrate with you!]

Weekend Edition

"Want Your Email Seen? 16 Spam Filter Rules to Avoid" from Boomerang

"Is Your Amazon Account Secure?" from Fiction University

Meaningful Marketing from Janet Kobobel Grant

3 Tips to Hook Your Reader’s Emotions from Writer Unboxed

12 Tips for the Best Writing Ever by Edie Melson, The Write Conversation
Weekend Edition

Rediscovering The Joy

Rediscovering The Joy
Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. 
I normally post on craft-related topics here at Seekerville, but today I'm focusing on a different aspect of the writing life. I hope you will indulge me as I do a bit of personal introspection.

As many of you know, Love Inspired is closing their historical line effective this June. And while I am sad about this for a number of reasons, I’ve also come to look at it as an opportunity of sorts.  By that I mean it has given me a writing time out, a chance to slow down and evaluate where I am in my writing career and try to figure out where I really want to go from here.

I’ve been pondering this for the past six months or so and have reached some rather surprising conclusions.  The ideas I have for new stories, the ones that excite me the most, are all contemporaries – a genre I never thought I’d want to dive fully into this way. And I’m not just talking one book, but three separate multi-book series that I just can’t wait to bring to life.

Rediscovering The Joy

While I’m having my agent shop these to traditional publishers, however, I also realized that I want to test the indie waters as well. So, as a first step to that end, I pulled out one of my earlier releases that I have reacquired the rights to. Something More was my second published book and was released by Dorchester, a secular publisher, in 2001. Dorchester no longer exists and this book was never released digitally so unless you stumble on it in a used book store you can’t find it any longer. And since I really do love this story I thought it deserved a new life.

Before I could put it up, however, I knew it would need some revision.  After all, that book was written over 17 years ago and I have hopefully learned a thing or two since then.

But a strange thing happened when I started reading the original manuscript. I began to see something of the writer I was at the beginning of my career. Yes, I am finding minor problem areas in both plot and craft that I need to revise, but I am also finding glimmers of the exuberant joy and freedom I found in the writing of my early work, before I let the deadlines and expectations of my publishing house editors turn writing into a job. Which is not to say I haven’t enjoyed writing my subsequent work. I have truly loved every book I’ve written and there are many, many more I’m itching to write.

Rediscovering The Joy

But I look back on that joyful, fearless (story-wise at least)  writer I was at the beginning and wonder where she went. I’m hopeful that, as I dig deeper into the revisions I’m doing on this book and take the time to develop new stories I don’t yet have contracts for, that I will find her again.


So what about you? Have you ever faced a fork in the road that had you re-evaluating the course you were on?  Were you able to reinvent yourself to meet the new challenges?

What Readers Want: A Non-Scientific But Fun Poll & Post

That pretty much sums it up, romance writers! And hey, if you're a Women's Fiction writer, stick around, too, because we've got stuff to share with you.

First, you're wondering how I did my research. Understandable.

Umm... facebook???

And here in Seekerville.

And on Twitter.


So I'm not exactly running Gallup polls. I'm not verifying results with Price, Waterhouse and Cooper (aka: PWC) and I''m pretty much making some stuff up as I go along, but I did DO the polls , so that should count for something. Okay, back to serious results:

We're going to talk heroines in this blog. Heroes will come next, right before Easter. Then settings and secondaries in blog #3 at the end of the month.

Let's do heroines first, and you know why? Because they matter. They matter far more than readers might give them credit for because while we are attracted to the hero...

We empathize with the heroines.

While we want to fix the heroes...(what are we thinking, gals??)

We want to sit down and have coffee with a well-drawn heroine.

So here's how it went, with 107 replies/choices:

1. The Kate Beckett profile (Castle): Independent heroines, maybe a little in your face, strong, assertive, sense of humor but reaches out.  (35 votes)

2. Mother Earth profile: Kind, caring and empathetic, loves kids, cats and dogs and will hold frogs. (27 votes)

3. The Martha type: Saucy, sassy, able to handle a job, three kids, the hero and do homework.  (25 votes)

4. The Stephanie Plum gal: Sassy, feisty but humble, always seems to be getting herself into some kind of trouble. (10 votes)

5. The Magdalena: The loner who carries a great deal of weight on her shoulders from undeserved guilt.  (5 votes)

6. The Boss: No nonsense, stay out of her way, she's got this! Until she doesn't. (3 votes)

So here's the point I got from all of this: #1 and #6 are almost the same person, same profile, but here's the difference: We humanized her more in choice #1. Look at the words: Independent, strong, in your face, strong, assertive, in your face but reaches out...

And then #2 is a crowd-pleasing favorite. She's Becky Thatcher... Laura Ingalls mom Caroline... Ma Walton...  She's often the 2nd sister in a trilogy, the one who stays home to run the farm.

#3 is a true Martha... She's got it all, maybe not because she wants to... but because she must. So if she must... she does it well. 

#4 seems to be more likely to find her way in a humorous women's fiction story. Janet Evanovich style... The gal who's always getting into scrapes.  

Strong writing can work within all these prototypes. And a strong writer can blend things together because real people are a blend. What's crucial is to stay in character all the way... The character can grow... but cannot become someone else. 

#5, the loner who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders is my heroine from "Refuge of the Heart", the Maggie award-winning story of a church-sponsored refugee who was held captive by the Russian army in Chechnya before obtaining her freedom and finally a chance to come to America.

It is a beautiful story that's about to be re-published as an indie book, a story that grips the reader and pulls them into Lena's world... But look at how few votes that got in a simple poll.

Here's what that tells us: Any story, told well, can defy the odds.

Let not your heart be troubled... John 14:1

Don't give up on your work if it doesn't seem right. If it's not being received well... yet. :) Because every bit of work you do is preparing you for your goals. Your future. Your chances, possibly magnified.

Believe in yourself but pay attention to what readers want... what they love.

Is that selling out?

Of course not, that's ridiculous! If you know that pink/yellow/green quilts sell well at the fair, is it wrong to create pink/yellow/green quilts?


It's smart.

Very few people drive a Lexus.

Most of us are more in the Subaru/Chevy/Toyota frame of pocketbook.

Writing appealing stories doesn't make us less of a writer... and it can certainly make us more prolific.

Tell me about your heroines! I thought we'd have room for heroes today, but I talked too much. (SHOCKER!!!)

Will I love your heroines? Or want to slap them?

A copy of "Refuge of the Heart" is in the prize vault to celebrate its upcoming re-release...

What Readers Want: A Non-Scientific But Fun Poll & Post
I hope folks will love it.

I know they will.

They already do.

And huge blessings on Franciscan Media for turning the publishing rights back over to its fiction authors, to give these books a chance to meet the audience they deserve. I can honestly say that their actions are rare in Christian fiction... and a true blessing to their former authors.

Come on in! Let's talk heroines, my friends! 

What Readers Want: A Non-Scientific But Fun Poll & Post
Multi-published, award-winning inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves writing stories... big stories and sometimes small stories. Long stories... short stories... and the occasional poem, just because. She writes on her pumpkin farm in Western New York where the winters are long and the springs are muddy, but she loves, loves, loves cats, dogs, donkeys, kids, the good Lord above and chocolate. Friend her on facebook or chase down her website

7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done

by Guest Lindsay Harrel

7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done

I’m a planner, through and through. Call me Type A, Uber Organized, whatever—that’s me. I love lists and calendars and scheduling myself to the brink.

But then, inevitably, life happens: a kid gets sick, I get sick, I don’t have the energy for writing, my dog eats our dinner right off the counter (true story), my husband has a work emergency and can’t come home to watch the kids. Et cetera, et cetera.

And I fall further and further behind on my oh-so-lofty goals.

It’s then I’m tempted to say, “What’s the point? I can’t do this! There just isn’t enough time.”

I’m guessing you’ve been there a time or two (or fifty…who’s counting?). But I’m here tell you that it IS possible—you CAN get that first draft done. I’ve written three books in the last three years as a work-from-home mom (I currently have a 3 year old and an 11 month old), so if I can do it, you can too.

7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done

In fact, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you work toward completing that first draft.

1.     Understand your weaknesses—and plan against them. We all have those writing pitfalls we fall into when it comes to procrastination and not making progress on our first draft. Do you get too tired to write if it’s past 7 pm? Try waking up early and writing at 5 am. Is your problem getting distracted at home because of all the unfinished chores you see piling up around you (or because of the TV)? Don’t let it be an issue; change up your locations and see where you write best (the library and Starbucks are a few of my faves).

2.     Commit to smaller writing sessions if you have to. I usually write during my children’s naptime and I can hammer out a scene if I write fast enough (and my kids sleep as long as they’re supposed to!). But there are days when things don’t go according to plan—and that’s okay. Train yourself to think in smaller chunks. Can you find 15 minutes before dinner to write the dialogue for that important scene you’ve been ruminating over? Or maybe you can’t manage to get up a whole hour before everyone else in your household, but you COULD manage a half hour. Remember that any time spent writing is forward motion—and all of that time adds up in the end.

7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done

3.     Think creatively when it comes to your schedule. Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean you have to continue to do it that way, especially when you’re trying to write a first draft quickly. For example, if your family is used to fancy dinners that take an hour to prepare, throw in a few crockpot meals here and there. Or, use Evernote to dictate your story into your phone while you fold laundry or are driving to the school pickup line, doctor’s office, or wherever you’re going. Things don’t have to be as black and white as you sitting at your desk in complete silence writing one whole scene at a time. Get creative and make more time in your busy schedule for writing.

4.     Remember that you are only one person. Something’s gotta give—you cannot be Superwoman (or Superman, if any guys are reading this!) all the time. Inevitably, you’ll falter in some area and will feel guilty (even when you shouldn’t). It’s okay to ask for help. Get the kids to do more chores. Ask a friend or family member to babysit. See if someone else can volunteer at church just this once. Of course, you don’t want to shirk your duties in other areas, but there’s a beautiful balance that’s possible when you remember that you don’t HAVE to do it all—and you shouldn’t expect yourself to.

5.     Keep your editing hat far, far away. If you’re a perfectionist like me, it’s really difficult to write a bad scene and be okay with it. But I have learned over the years that if I don’t just write during a first draft WITHOUT editing, then I’ll never make any progress. If I write something particularly cringe-worthy, I tell myself, “You can fix that later.” Having that knowledge in the back of my mind helps me to pound out the story without worrying so much about the final outcome.

6.     Make sure God is part of the equation if you’re a believer. I recently finished what will be my third published book, The Secrets of Paper and Ink, which won’t release until next February. I have always prayed over first drafts, but not like I did with this book in particular. This time, I felt God calling me to write with Him. That idea came from a session by Allen Arnold I attended a few years ago at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. In this case, “writing with God” meant that I put aside my need for reassurance from critique partners and just relied on Him while writing my first draft. And you guys, I felt such a peace throughout the drafting process. There would be times when I’d question whether I was crazy to do it this way, but when I’d pray about whether to send the story to someone, it just didn’t feel right. I’m not saying you need to do this—critique partners are VERY important!—but just remember to immerse yourself in prayer and ask God for direction as you write. He may lead you to a theme or a story plot you hadn’t anticipated. Just keep yourself open to what He has for the story, even if you had something else planned.

7.     Remember—you and your calling are worth it. It’s easy to let other things in our life take priority over our writing. Sometimes, they should, no doubt. But other times, it’s just an excuse. I firmly believe that if God’s called you to it, He will equip you and give you the time you need to do it. There’s no way I’d get it all done with two little boys and a husband if that wasn’t the case. I have a dear friend who likes to say that she’s actually a better mom because she writes. It doesn’t take away from her life—it adds to it in so many ways. It is worth the time and energy it takes to write stories that will bless others.

Don’t let fear, indecision, unpreparedness, or anything else become your excuse for not getting that first draft done. You CAN do it. Don’t allow anyone—including you—tell yourself differently.

7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done

YOUR TURN: What is something that’s held you back from writing in the past? What can you do to overcome that? Is there some way we can be praying for you in this regard?

Thanks for having me today, Seekerville! To show my appreciation to all of you lovely readers and fellow writers, I’m giving away a copy of The Heart Between Us (U.S. residents only), which releases TOMORROW! This book is a testament to the fact that anyone can get a book completed, as I wrote it with a toddler running around trying to eat up all my attention and edited it when I was seven months pregnant with my second son. J

Please let us know in the comments if you'd like to be entered.

About Lindsay
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. Her debut novel, One More Song to Sing, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist in 2017, and her second, The Heart Between Us, releases this month (March 2018).

When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at

7 Tips for Getting That First Draft Done

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

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.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to
From the Weekend Edition, a sack of books goes to fun contributor KAV.... but since she's in Canada and has a ton of books, we're sending her an Amazon gift card instead! Congratulations, Kav!!!!

Mindy Obenhaus was Wednesday's blogger with The Best Laid Plains... The winner of the first two books in Mindy's Rocky Mountain Heroes series, Their Ranch Reunion and The Deputy's Holiday Family, is... Cindy Regnier.

The winner for the author prize from Annie's Friday post, You are a Salty Bunch, is Carrie Turansky. Carrie, please include in your email your choice of ebook or print of one of the Writer's Guide Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  The reader winner is Chanel M.

Weekend Edition

Monday:  Join guest blogger Lindsay Harrel, bringing us "7 Tips to Get That First Draft Done." Be sure to stop by for some great advice and a giveaway of her new release, The Heart Between Us.

On Wednesday, Ruthy Logan Herne has put together Part 1 of "WHAT READERS WANT", a result of comments here in Seekerville and facebook polls. Stop by on Wednesday, let's chat about reader expectations and how authors can meet them... and she's got the prize vault open on Wednesday, so you never know what  you might find!

Kara Isaac visits Seekerville on Thursday to talk about the tough side of book sales. Only NEWS FLASH!!!! THIS JUST IN!!!! Kara is really coming on 3/22 AND we are entering Ruthy into a course on calendar management. :)

Winnie Griggs rounds out next week with a guest post on Friday. Join us for a great day of chatting with Winnie!

Weekend Edition

Ruthy is doing a WHERE'S WALDO kind of weekend in New York City so if she posts pics on facebook and you guess where she is, you can win a prize! If there's more than one correct answer, she'll draw for a winner.... 

But when she calls time, that's it! (of course she'll probably FORGET to call time, so you're pretty safe!) Check her out at

Pam participated in The Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt last week, along with 29 other Christian fiction authors. There were like a gazillion folks on the hunt. Where you there? If not, check out the winners list to see what you missed! Definitely something to watch for. It comes around twice a year. And if you DID participate in the hunt, THANK YOU!!! You're the reason we do what we do. :)

Weekend Edition
Jan is celebrating the release of her 8th book! Look for "The Amish Nanny's Courtship" in your local store, or head over to her website for links to order:

Weekend Edition

Check out the Great Expectations finalists! Congrats to our Villager finalists! We're proud of you!

Published Author Contest - Deadline approaching!!! March 15th is the deadline to enter The Carol Awards. Last day to overnight your books is Wednesday, March 14th. So don't delay!  ACFW's Carol Awards

Unpublished Author Contest: The deadline to enter the ACFW Genesis Contest is Thursday, March 15th. Full manuscript required. Multiple categories.

Weekend Edition

You are a Salty Bunch

You are a Salty Bunch

“You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13) 

You are a Salty BunchHello friends! Annie here! I am beyond humbled and ecstatic to be here chatting with y’all. Let me introduce myself a bit for those that don’t know me. I’m Annie and I love to read. Surprising, isn’t it?! Yes, I also have a tinge of dry sarcasm that doesn’t always translate well. Nevertheless, I love to share my thoughts, especially when it comes to books. I have two very adorable (and mischievous) puppies, Gabby and Reagan. They haven’t understood the meaning of quality reading time for mommy yet. We’re getting there.   Many of you will know me as Just Commonly, which is the name of my blog, and along with fellow Seeker, Carrie and avid reader, Bonnie Roof, we are also the founders for Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR). The ultimate question: why do I love Christian Fiction so much?  Now begins the story. . .

Many people will have at least one year they can't let go, an unforgettable year, and a year that changed something in them.  That year for me was 2013.

When the double pink line appeared, a smile crossed my face. Our first pregnancy. Elation soon turned to worry as my Darcy was told to keep an eye on me.  Nevertheless, we continued on our days and doctor visits. On our ride to every visit, Plumb's Need You Now played on the radio, despite different days and times of the day. A song that to this day comforts me. Then one day, excruciating pain incapacitated me. I woke up to my front door kicked open by my Darcy trying to get to me, and a trip to the hospital. No one told me anything for what seemed like forever, and finally a familiar face, my doctor, came and told us the news. I had what they called an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy outside the uterus in layman terms. At 12 weeks, I was in serious danger, and my "baby" would not survive.  On May 13, 2013, I was no longer pregnant. I was in a daze for weeks to come, yet on every follow-up visit to the doctor's office, another song played on the radio. Blessings by Laura Story. Nothing is a coincidence. Those songs prepared me and reminded me even when I didn't notice at first, that our God is our Father, and He's comforting me. Some may have already heard this story in one of my earlier posts, "God of Coincidenceson my blog. And you may ask, "What does this have to do with Christian fiction?" Well, you see, the songs prepared me and comforted me at a crucial moment of emotional and physical pain. Yet, it was Christian fiction that healed me. Or at least it was what God used.

You are a Salty BunchJust as God inspired and used musicians like Plumb and Laura Story in their music and lyrics, God also inspired and gifted authors the words to their stories. It was these stories that mended the brokenness I felt since. My first encounter with Christian fiction was in that very year, and that's because I used books to escape. Unbeknownst to me, the books with the pretty covers and the historical settings gave me more than a story.  What I thought was an escape, had become the soothing balm to my soul. Physical pain may have dissipated, but the emotional trauma wasn't so easy to forget. I thought hiding behind history and make-believe would never remind me of the loss and inadequacy I felt. God had other plans. He used stories that had nothing to do with me to connect with me. 

You are a Salty Bunch
God called us to be "salt of the earth" and "light of the world." I've heard many say that it applies only to missionaries, but aren't we all missionaries in our own ways?  My author friends, your stories give readers flavors, widespread and essential. When you follow God's heed in your writing, each word, each story, and each novel are granules of salt, scattered, waiting to be tasted.  Now it's up to readers to taste and experience. And don't worry about the negative reviews. The message doesn't always hit us at the same time, and even when it's already tasted, it may not be fully understood until the time is right. You've salted and now it's up to God on when and to whom He plans on letting the flavor of that granule of salt explode. As always, God's timing is perfect.

Personally, I think Christian fiction kind of sneaks up on you.  Just like a kind word, you'll never know when someone will need it. Its many flavors rival the flavors of the world, and there’s always one or more that fills your hunger just at the right moment. As authors, your flavors have the potential to reach masses, so be "the salt of the earth" and continue to implode flavors on us readers, either openly or stealthily.

I guess in short, I love Christian fiction because it's personal, and the experience may not be the same for another. To end, I want to thank every one of you - authors, for your stories and readers, for your support and sharing of these stories. 


I'm gifting an author (from published or on non-published island) their choice of either ebook or print of one of the Writer's Guide Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (open internationally as long as Amazon or Book Depository will send it your way). And 1 reader will win a surprise pack of books that I hope will flavor your life (US mailing addresses only).  Just leave a comment to enter for a chance to win (and let us know if you want to win the author or reader giveaway). 

 Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Even the Best Laid Plans…

Last year our family made a big move. It was one we’d looked forward to for years and our plans had been set in place. Once my husband retired and our youngest graduated high school, we would bid farewell to the suburbs of Ft. Worth and head to the coastal plains of Texas to my husband’s family ranch. There, we would renovate his parents’ house and live happily ever after. 

Even the Best Laid Plans…

I carefully planned my contract and writing schedule around that move, so all books would be turned in well before the big day arrived. It was a good plan. A doable plan. And I was on track.

Then our youngest decided to change things up a bit by graduating early.

Okay… This is good. We could even bump up our move date from June to March or April. Awesome.

But somewhere along the way, the nagging pain I’d had in my right arm for over a year got the best of me, so I went to the doctor. In January they graciously informed me that I had a torn rotator cuff and would need surgery ASAP.

Being a fairly upbeat person, I thought, “I can do this. It’s just a little speedbump.” Then they told me that my recovery would take the better part of a year AND I would not even be allowed to lift that arm for four months.

What? Four months? But we’re about to move.

I wanted to cry. We’d waited so long. We still had to finish getting the house ready to sell. There was tons of packing to do.

I did cry then. And prayed. And a few weeks later, after the final book had been submitted, I had the surgery. That was February 16th. Yet, by the grace of God, our house went on the market in early April and we moved on May 18th. 
Even the Best Laid Plans…

A week later, after we'd somewhat settled into our one-room camphouse (try cramming 3 people, 2 dogs and 2000 sq. feet of stuff into 900 sq. feet),
Even the Best Laid Plans…
We started demo on our new home.
Even the Best Laid Plans…
Even the Best Laid Plans…
And while that kept us busy initially, I just knew there would be lots of downtime to come, giving me all the time I’d need to get a new proposal submitted before ACFW in September.

Boy, was I wrong. The house ended up being taken down to the studs, then, slowly but surely, put back together. I found myself having to make decisions on plumbing and electrical locations. Not to mention flooring, paint colors, appliances and kitchen cabinets. I painted walls, ceilings and doors. And while it was all good, I was busier than ever, up at the crack of dawn and collapsing into bed after a late supper. And then Hurricane Harvey hit. 
Even the Best Laid Plans…

While we suffered no damage personally, our little rural town was hit hard. Work on the big house came to a screeching halt as a community banded together to help those in need. And even though I still had a proposal to write, it suddenly didn’t seem as important.
ACFW came. I went, but still no proposal. I told my editor I’d have it to her by the end of October, then, despite having diligently worked on the proposal, had to let her know it still wasn’t ready. The last day of November, two weeks before we moved into our new home that was originally scheduled to be finished in October, I sent off my proposal.
By now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
We’d planned and planned for our big move. I’d planned to get that proposal knocked out during the downtime I was certain I'd have. Never had I expected I’d suddenly need surgery or that a record-shattering hurricane would strike south-east Texas.
But God…
God wasn’t surprised. He knew all those things would happen.
Sometimes we forget that. So when things don’t go the way we planned, we get discouraged. Frustrated. Dare I say, angry?
So what are we to do during those challenging times when things don’t come together the way we’d envisioned?
  • Pray– This is one of those things that should go without saying, yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve charged ahead without taking the time to pray. Commit the plans you have made to the Lord and then, if they don’t pan out the way you expected, pray some more. Ask God to show you what it is He wants you to do.
  • Trust– Even though we may think we know what’s best, God knows better. Still, there are times when it takes a conscious effort to trust His sovereignty. To let go of those plans we’ve so carefully laid out and allow Him show us something better.
  • Be obedient– There are many times in life when God tells us to wait. Waiting is rarely fun. But when we let go and let God, He can lead us to something far better than we ever imagined. If I had submitted my proposal before last year’s ACFW conference, the ending would have been completely different. And, frankly, somewhat boring. But because I had the opportunity to brainstorm with my roommate, we came up with something much more exciting that elevated the rest of the plot.
  • Trust some more – God’s got your back. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Prayerfully trust and He will lead you in the way you should go, when you should go.

So let's talk about this. Are you a planner or do you tend to go with the flow? How do you respond when God derails your plans? And when you leave a comment, your name will go into the hat for a chance to win the first 2 books in my Rocky Mountain Heroes series.
The Rancher Next Door 

Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she'll have to share ownership of the home she's inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly's too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew's in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly's heart.

Even the Best Laid Plans…
A Family for Christmas
Lacie Collier is determined to give her niece, Kenzie, the best Christmas! But Lacie's got her work cut out for her when they spend the holidays at her Christmas-averse mother's home. With his focus on keeping his own mother's holiday traditions alive, sheriff's deputy Matt Stephens is surprised to see his old friend Lacie back in Ouray. He's always regretted that their friendship became strained after he started dating her sister in high school. But it's pure shock he experiences when he sees Kenzie, whose uncanny resemblance to Matt is undeniable. This Christmas will bring new memories for Lacie and Matt...if they can open themselves to the possibility of love.

Even the Best Laid Plans…
Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at

Revising an Action Scene

Revising an Action Scene
Mary's Website
This is the actual 2nd and 3rd version of an action scene I wrote to introduce a character in my Work in Progress. I seem to have lost the first version....I was hoping not because it was even clunkier than the 2nd.

The 1st one here today is 325 or so words long.
The 2nd is 280.
I tightened it. Took out extraneous words, found shorter and better ways to set the scene, because this is both an intro to this character and an intro to a setting that's unusual for me (the guy is soon headed west, don't panic)

I just thought it was interesting to read both versions and it might be instructive about how to make a scene keep moving by limiting asides, internal thoughts, scene setting...and yet including all of that. just including it with out stopping the action.

Keep this in mind...Mitch Pierce wasn't in the first draft of the book, although he existed in my mind, I just was going to introduce him later.

Revising an Action Scene
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Then I didn't put in this origin scene. Instead I had him show up at the ranch and the reason he was this scene. I told it in backstory.

All these decisions have to be made, used, discarded, come at from different angles.

I decided rather than 'backstory' old Mitch here....I'd act it out.

Show don't tell right?

So enter the mysterious 'Other Character' who know one will quite know why he's even there...until it all comes clear.

I hope I can make it come clear.

Oh for heaven's sakes, of COURSE I can make it come clear-ish.


Mitch Pierce caught a reflection of a rifle in the window of the mansion near his home. He dropped to the ground just as a bullet shattered the glass.

Scrambling, diving, another bullet fired and kicked up splinters from the spindly tree he dove behind. Oil lamps barely cut through the gloom on this stretch of New York City’s finest neighborhood. It was the middle of the night in a part of town with no crime. And Mitch had been careful to check if he was being followed.

Instead, like a fool, he’d never considered that someone might be waiting.

This wasn’t some random thief.

The tree he picked was too thin and the bullets tore at the bark. Mitch rolled, crawled on his belly, crouched and leapt, dodging and moving, keeping the tree between him and his attacker.

The rifle gouged the dirt inches from his head. His attacker had sharp eyes in this deeply shadowed ground.

A set of steps that fronted the house lay just ahead, offering the only shelter. Staying low, he ran for it. The rifleman kept up his firing. Mitch threw himself forward and hit his right shoulder on the side of the steps, so hard he was afraid the bone snapped. He was going to need his right arm, but with it or not, he’d find a way to survive this.

Five shots, six, seven, a repeating rifle and a good one. The second he reached the meager shelter, he came up with his pistol drawn, firing long and hard into the park across the street. It was a goodly distance for a pistol, but Mitch’s gun was a good one, too.

He didn’t need to aim. He’d done all his figuring while he ran. A cry from across the street ended the attack.

Mitch sprinted straight for the gunman. The recklessness that had made him rich rode him hard now.

No one bothered Mitch Pierce without paying a hard price.

And being shot at was surely a bother.


Mitch Pierce caught a reflection of a rifle in the window. He dropped to the ground just as a bullet shattered the glass behind him.

Scrambling, diving, another bullet fired and kicked up splinters from the spindly tree he dove behind. Gas street lights barely cut through the gloom.

The tree he picked was too thin and the bullets tore at the bark. Mitch rolled, crawled on his belly, crouched and leapt, dodging and moving, keeping the tree between him and his attacker.

The rifle gouged the dirt inches from his head. His attacker had sharp eyes in this deeply shadowed ground.

A set of steps that fronted the house lay just ahead, offering the only shelter. Staying low, he ran for it. The rifleman kept up his firing. Mitch threw himself forward and hit his right shoulder on the side of the steps, so hard he was afraid the bone snapped. He was going to need his right arm, but with it or not, he’d find a way to survive this.

Five shots, six, seven, a repeating rifle and a good one. The second he reached the meager shelter, he came up with his pistol drawn, firing long and hard into the park across the street. It was a goodly distance for a pistol, but Mitch’s gun was a good one, too.

He didn’t need to aim. He’d done all his figuring while he ran. A cry from across the street ended the attack.

Mitch sprinted straight for the gunman. The recklessness that had made him rich rode him hard now.

No one bothered Mitch Pierce Warden without paying a hard price.

And being shot at was surely a bother.

Revising an Action Scene
CAN YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE? Did you notice I sort of changed his name?
Is it better or is it the SAME and I am doing all this revising for NO REASON!
Let's talk revisions. Editing. Yeesh. You know, I love it. Editing and revising gives me peace of mind when I'm writing because I know I'm going to have to come back and fix it, which let's me power onward.
So how do you do it...revise I mean. And do revisions trap you and keep you from moving forward? We can fall into the trap of eternal revisions.
The Accidental Guardian is releasing NEXT MONTH!
AAAHHH!!! YAY! A new series begins.

Click Here to Pre-order



Revising an Action Scene

Revising an Action Scene

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.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to

Monday: The winner of Erica Vetsch's A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, EJ!

Wednesday: On Wednesday Melanie Dickerson gave us her second installment of her series on Conflict and Tension. The winner of Melanie's Little Mermaid retelling, The Silent Songbird ... is Trixi!

Friday we had Amanda Cabot visiting with some wise words about writers' conferences! 

Weekend Edition

Monday: Mary Connealy kicks off the week talking about revisions.

Wednesday: Mindy Obenhaus walks us through the chaos of her 2017 and gives us some tips on what to do when things don't go the way we planned. 
Friday: Annie's calling us a Salty Bunch on her  Seekerville debut! She then tries to smooth out the name calling with a giveaway for authors and one for readers! (We'll see if that'll work. 😉)

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition
This week marks a new release for Erica Vetsch. 7 Brides for 7 Texan Rangers released on March 1st! This novella collection is the sequel/companion to 7 Brides for 7 Texans

Weekend Edition

And Ruthy's newest mystery "Swept Away" is available at Guideposts! 

Yes, it's book #9 in the series, but these are all delightful stand-alone books (think Agatha Christie's Miss Marple) and you can enjoy them in any order... and you will enjoy them! Check out Ruthy's mysteries or order the whole series, month by month... cozy mysteries for cozy reading,winter or summer! Here's your link to Guideposts to check it out! 

VILLAGER CALL-OUT!!! What are you looking for in your stories? What satisfies you? What doesn't? How much do you think your personal experiences and life affects that? We authors want to know! 

You can post your ideas for WRITING THE BEST BOOK EVER here in the Weekend Edition... or, if you're a more private person, e-mail Ruthy at with your ideas... Publishers do "call-outs" all the time... Well, now it's us. And you. And we're doing a call-out to find out what readers love, love, love the most... and please tell us what you don't! 

We've got a sack of books to celebrate readers, writers and how "ever the tween shall meet". Leave a comment to have your name thrown into the cat dish, freshly washed!

Weekend Edition
Join Seeker Pam Hillman and 29 other authors on the
Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt!
March 1st through March 4th
To Get Started, Click Here!

Weekend Edition

Final Words: Great Last Lines in Fiction by Sophie Masson, Writer Unboxed 

Lessons Writers Can Learn While Waiting by Lisa Jordan, NovelRocket

5 Quick Ways to Shift Description and Setting into Deep POV by Lisa Hall-Wilson, Writers in the Storm

A True Story of Email List Clean-UP by Misty Beller, The Ambitious Author

Weekend Edition
Subplots 101Weekend EditionRediscovering The JoyWhat Readers Want: A Non-Scientific But Fun Poll & Post7 Tips for Getting That First Draft DoneWeekend EditionYou are a Salty BunchEven the Best Laid Plans…Revising an Action SceneWeekend Edition

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