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Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

Hi, everyone!

We call today a "Blue Moon Monday" - the fifth Monday, when none of the Seekers are scheduled to post! Ruthy often hosts on these "Blue Moon" days, but she's been super busy with her other job.

You DO know Ruthy's family has a pumpkin farm, right? She's been super busy with that for the past couple months!

So today I'm sharing a post I wrote a year ago...and it's just as appropriate this year as it was last year.

Enjoy!

What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

 

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

Hey, y'all. Jan here with a thinking-type post.

(Yes, I can talk Southern. My years in West Texas and in Kentucky taught me how!)

I've been convicted of something lately, and I'd like to share my thoughts with you.

Let's start here - 

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

I'm teaching school-age children at Bible Study Fellowship this year, and we're studying Matthew. The immersion into this study (not only my own study, but in preparing to teach) reminds me that what we put into our hearts is what is going to come out.

In this section of Matthew, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. You know, those religious leaders who were all about religion...but not so much about God. Like many of us, they thought they knew God. They thought they were obeying God with all their laws to "help" people follow God's Law.

But Jesus had a special name for them: brood of vipers. He uses that term more than once! Like I told the students in my BSF class, that means that He considered them to be a nest of venomous snakes.

I don't know about you, but I don't want the Lord of the Universe to consider me to be no better than a venomous snake.

I don't want my heart to spew out poison - untruths, slander, and even "mistakes" when I'm trying communicate to my readers about Jesus and His world...which covers 100% of what I write about.

But as writers, we are constantly filling our heads and hearts with knowledge - research for our latest novel. Sales statistics. The best price points. Reading blogs and listening to podcasts about writing and marketing.

As we watch the news or read the newspapers, we fill our minds and hearts with the noise of the World.

As we go about our non-writerly lives, we deal with family issues, church issues, and what in the world to fix for dinner.

When our heads and hearts become filled with the things of this world, what will overflow into our writing? 

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

What's the answer?

We must balance all of that - over-balance all of that - with God's Word.

Not just reading scripture, but delving deep into it.

Not just reading someone else's teaching on scripture, but studying it for ourselves.

Even if my daily word count suffers...

The time spent in God's Word - just me, my Bible, and the Holy Spirit - is never wasted. That's treasure to fill our hearts.

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

My prayer for all of us is that our heads and our hearts will overflow with Jesus, and that is who our readers will encounter in our books.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests
Christ and Zacchaeus, Niels Larsen Stevns,1913, Randers Museum of Art, Denmark.[PD-US]


 At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.

Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
"He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
"Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over."
And Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost."

Luke 19:1-10

Please join us in praying for the upcoming election! 

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 pray for our country and for an end to the problems that plague us at this current time, such as the increased cost of fuel and food and the rise in crime.

Together, let's pray we can, once again, become a unified nation. Also, please join us in praying for the protection of our military and for law enforcement officers and border agents.   

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 Seekerville2@gmail.com. If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected. **(All winners' emails will receive a response within a week. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, we may not have received it. Please leave a comment in the following Weekend Edition.)


Monday: Erica Vetsch shared some tips for keeping all the details of a series straight.

Wednesday: Cate Nolan offered encouragement for Finding a New Life for Old Books

Thursday: Pam Hillman explored how Quirky People Make Quirky Characters


Weekend Edition


Monday: Blue Moon Monday Hosted by Ruthy!

Wednesday: Mindy Obenhaus will be in house, and we never know what she'll have up her sleeve.

Thursday: Audra Harders explores Rejuvenating Your Writing Chops  
  
Friday: Hannah Mae Linder is our guest, sharing the "Why" behind her desire to write. Come help us celebrate her debut release!






Weekend Edition



Weekend Edition

RELEASES OCT 25th

Weekend Edition

IN A SNIPER’S CROSSHAIRS

By Debby Giusti

An assassin’s loose in Amish country…

and she’s not the only target.

When a radio broadcast describes taxi driver Lily Hudson’s passenger as an armed criminal, she becomes his immediate target. Narrowly escaping, Lily accepts Matthias Overholt’s offer to hide at his Amish family farm for Christmas—until evidence reveals the gunman’s plan is tied to Lily’s past. Now to prevent an assassination, Lily and Matthias must unravel a years-old conspiracy…and evade a sniper who has them in his sights.

 Order HERE! 

Weekend Edition


Debby Giusti was on Tracy Fredrychowski's Podcast

BUGGY TALK, Episode #65.



Click the link below  to listen to the interview!

https://tracyfredrychowski.com/podcast/debby-giusti-in-a-snipers-crosshairs/







Weekend Edition


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 )
Weekend Edition
Also available as a paperback for slightly more.


Book Idea Validation Mastery by Dave Chesson at Kindleprenuer

How Writers can Infuse Mood into Story Setting by CS Lakin at Helping Writers Become Authors

The Top Three World-Building Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them) by Julie Artz at Writers Helping Writers

Why Every Plot Needs a Ticking Clock by Janice Hardy at Fiction University

The Worst Part of Writing by Rachel Hauck at American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) blog

Create a Fictional Town Your Readers Can Relate To by Ane Mulligan at The Write Conversation

New Outlets for Creativity by Terry Odell at Kill Zone blog

Plotting Made Simple by Shane Millar at The Writer's Cookbook

Writing About Difficult Emotional Experiences by CS Lakin at Live Write Thrive

Writing Beginnings by Shane Millar at The Creative Penn

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

by Pam Hillman

You want your characters to be quirky, but not too quirky, right? You want them to have real flaws and believable habits, but not come across as a basket case of nervous energy, or just plain loopy. And you want people to identify with them, right.

So, how quirky is too quirky?

How about this: A housewife counts the plates as she puts them into the dishwasher, the spoons as she puts them in the drawer. She counts the towels as she folds them. A grandmother cannot bring herself to throw away a note of encouragement or anything of sentimental value.

A man who rubs his feet together to fall asleep. His wife has to be wearing socks to snooze.

What about a dirty napkin phobia? One woman said that she never crumples her used napkin. She folds it. If someone else crumples theirs, she can't keep from looking at it. And don’t expect her to touch someone else's crumpled up napkins when cleaning up. Now that’s a phobia.

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

One of my own pet peeves: A crooked picture drives me insane. I will straighten them whenever I see them.

I can’t stand for a stack of stapled papers to be haphazard. I will take out the staple and re-staple them together all nice and neat. Completely oblivious to my little habit, I did this once while the guy who’d stapled them together was standing next to my desk chatting. It was kinda embarrassing when he pointed out what I’d done. Oops!

I’ve heard of someone saying it was impossible for them to fall asleep lying down. That one has me scratching my head, and I’d like to ask that person how they do fall asleep. Maybe they sleep in a recliner or something!

I'm a hand washer. I wash my hands all the time. The first thing I used to do when I got to work was to wash my hands. Of course this was a good habit to have to keep germs away.

I love this one… One woman reported that she has a thing with even and odd. She doesn't like odd numbers so she only deals with things that are even. She can't just have one cookie, she has to have two, and if she gets three, she’ll need another one to make it even.

So, how about three Krispy Kreme donuts, please? Using her phobia, I’d have to have four!

I’ve got pages and pages of these quirks I’ve saved over the years, and I imagine your particular quirk is on the list. Dollars to donuts, your quirk is also somebody else’s quirk, and even more importantly, can become one of your character’s quirks.

Three more, because I can’t resist….

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters


M&M’s are a popular quirk, from eating them before a flight, to before a doctor’s appointment, to sorting them into piles and eating certain colors. One man said that the more blue M&M’s, the better his flight. A former co-worker of mine sorted her M&M’s before she ate them. She ate all of one color, then the next color, and so on. Any of you have a M&M quirk?

Another plane quirk: One woman said she has to tap the outside of the plane ten times. Someone else said he sleeps with a window open—even in the dead of winter, and will not sleep with his head pointed toward a door. Now, this I can understand. I wouldn’t want my head pointed toward a door while sleeping. Makes perfect sense to me!

Anybody feel up to sharing their quirks, or even better quirks you've given your characters? Or quirks you've discovered while reading other's books that you found interesting, funny, or really odd? Quirks in movies? I can think of a few. :)


Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com



Finding a New Life for Old Books: A Post of Encouragement

 I don't know how old I was when I discovered the awful truth of what happens to books that have outlived their shelf life. Long before I was ever a writer, images of piles of books with their covers torn off, ready to be trashed broke this young booklover's heart.


I was reminded of that today when I saw a post on Twitter from an author who had gone into a bookstore and offered to sign the copies of her books that were in stock. After a number of embarrassing encounters, she was told that the store manager didn't want her to sign them because then "they couldn't be returned."

Finding a New Life for Old Books: A Post of Encouragement

I cringed when I read that, and my heart hurt for that poor (angry!) writer. 

It was a sad reminder of the short shelf life of the work we've labored to create. It's especially painful for category writers who know their books get a mere month in the sun. 

 

All this week, I've been struggling wondering what to write about today. School has commandeered all my time, so my creative well is rather dry. My mind has been painfully blank.

But then my daughter called. It was rainy and foggy and she had a long drive ahead of her. She wanted company. In the the course of conversation, we got to talking about Taylor Swift's new album Midnights - you know, the one that sold a million copies in three days. (Caveat: I have not listened to this album yet, so my comments are strictly on the business aspect of this, not the merits of the music).

 

My daughter mentioned a story she had read recently about Taylor rereleasing her versions of her original albums. Do you know the story of how she wouldn't give in to the music industry claiming ownership over her work? If not, you can catch up with the story here. Why is Taylor Swift Re-Recording her Old Songs?

Our conversation reminded me of a blog post I wrote a few years ago. This was part of it.

She wrote what she loved, until she loved what she wrote, and she sent it out one more time.
I have no idea where this quote came from. I have it on a scrap of paper that is so old it’s turned yellow and brittle.

When I tried to Google the source of that quote, I got a bunch of links to Taylor Swift’s new album. It’s really tempting to tag Taylor in this post and see our views skyrocket. I have no idea why that quote triggered Taylor's name, but when I thought about it, I was glad it had.

 A lesson in procrastination vs. persistence


The other day, I was supposed to be writing, but when I signed on to Twitter to join my #1k1hr group, #TaylorSwiftonGMA was trending. I very easily got sucked down a rabbit hole of Taylor Swift videos. 

Avoiding that kind of rabbit hole is a constant struggle for me. My husband used to drive me crazy flipping channels on the television. It seemed he’d stay on something just long enough for me to get hooked. He would move on, but by that time, I would be begging him to turn it back (to some show I'd probably be embarrassed to admit watching), because once I'm hooked, I need to find out what happens.

Which is what happened last Thursday on Twitter. First there was a video about Taylor's father handing out pizza to the people who waited on line overnight. Then there was Taylor singing a song from her new album. Then... and so on.

It's important to note here, I've never particularly been a Taylor Swift fan. I was just curious about what all the fuss on Good Morning America was about. My interest had been piqued. 

Am I alone in this? I know we joke about going to Facebook to check one thing and discovering we've spent an hour instead of the scheduled 5 minutes.

As it turns out though, watching Taylor Swift videos for an hour wasn’t without some benefit. One of the clips on GMA gave a history of her career starting as an 11 year-old girl determined to make it in Nashville. She explained that her mother and little brother waited in the car while she delivered karaoke demos she’d made. She talked about walking up and down Music Row knocking on doors.

"I would say, 'Hi, I'm Taylor. I'm 11; I want a record deal. Call me."

I cannot imagine having that kind of dedication at my age, let alone at 11. 
But the story didn't end there.


I found an article on ENews that included this:
"She came back from that trip to Nashville and realized she needed to be different, and part of that would be to learn the guitar," Andrea told EW. "Now, at 12, she saw a 12-string guitar and thought it was the coolest thing. And of course we immediately said, 'Oh no, absolutely not, your fingers are too small—not till you're much older will you be able to play the 12-string guitar.'
"Well, that was all it took. Don't ever say never or can't do to Taylor. She started playing it four hours a day—six on the weekends. She would get calluses on her fingers and they would crack and bleed, and we would tape them up and she'd just keep on playing.  ENews

What intrigues me is how someone has that kind of drive to succeed - especially at such a young age. 

Taylor is not unique in her work ethic. We hear stories all the time about athletes and their superior dedication to their sport, practicing endless hours until they can sink that three-point shot flawlessly, or lead a team to another Super Bowl victory.  


What amazes me most? The root of the ownership problem comes from a deal Swift signed at 15!
 

Back to my conversation with my daughter. She related to me a story she had read.

On September 15, following a viral TikTok trend involving "Wildest Dreams" (2015) that was gaining traction, the older recording of the song accumulated 735,000 plays on Spotify, marking the highest single-day streams ever for the song on the streaming platform. On September 17, Swift teased the re-recorded song's bridge as part of the said trend with a snippet on TikTok, captioning "if you guys want to use my version of wildest dreams for the slow zoom trend, here she is!". "Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version)" was subsequently released to streaming platforms. Swift stated that she saw "Wildest Dreams" trending on TikTok and thought fans should have "[her] version" of the song. In its first four hours of availability, "Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version)" amassed 2,003,391 Spotify streams, breaking the record the older "Wildest Dreams" had set a few days prior.  Wikipedia

So what does all of this have to do with a writer's blog?

Well, aside from the persistence and the passion, and the sheer amount of effort our crafts require, it reminded me a lot about those trashed books, and how changes in publishing have allowed writers to re-release their old books, giving them a second chance at life.

Just like Taylor took control of her work, we now have the opportunity to rescue our work. We can get our rights back. We can re-imagine our stories and breathe new life into them. Our work doesn't have to be consigned to a sad stack of cover-less trash! 

So my message today is to take hope from Taylor's success. I certainly don't expect to sell a million copies of any book in 3 days (though it sure would be nice!), but I can remember to persevere (even when things are tough), and I can continue to learn new marketing techniques, new technologies, etc to 

And if Taylor can do it, and I can do it...so can you!

Just remember to reach for the stars!

Finding a New Life for Old Books: A Post of Encouragement


5 Ways to Keep the Details Straight

Erica here. Happy fall, y'all! It's COLD in Minnesota, and we've already had our first (albeit skimpy) snow. 

I'm deep in editing mode on my 2023 release, Children of the Shadows, which is book three in the Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series but is, in fact, book seven in the "Haverly Universe" as I call it. Seven Regency stories that all take place in the same story world with cross-over characters galore.

Over the six books and one novella, we're talking about 630,000 words! Dozens of characters and locations and hundreds, if not thousands, of details.

The question has arisen, "How do you keep it all straight?"

I have a few tips I'd love to share with you.

1. Character photographs. 

I try to find a photograph of each major character, especially my heroes and heroines, so I can fix in my mind exactly what they look like. I find it much easier to describe a person I've seen than one I've just heard about. (I would share some of these photos with you, but for copyright laws regarding pictures on blogs. However, I can give you a link to one of my Pinterest boards full of handsome heroes. ...You're welcome.)

2. A Style Sheet

I keep a style sheet for each book I write, with characters, descriptions, locations, photographs, preferred spellings (curtsy vs. curtsey, etc.) and more. I turn this in with each book to aid in the editing process. I blogged here on Seekerville some time ago about how to create a Style Sheet, and you can read that post HERE



3. A Series Master Document

My Virtual Assistant, (though since she's my daughter and I see her regularly, it's hardly virtual, is it?) Heather Drexler of Mossflower Digital Services, and I are in the process of creating a Master Document for the entire series. A spreadsheet on google docs to which we both have access that contains all the style sheet information from each book, plus anything I've forgotten along the way. Of particular import is, character descriptions and ages at the start of each story. Locations of important scenes. Where is the Haverly mansion located in London? Where did they find the first murder victim in Millstone of Doubt? How many servants work at the Whitelock estate? 

*Sometimes this document is called a series bible, but I don't like that term. As far as I am concerned, there is only one Bible, the very Word of God, hence I call mine a Master Document. 

4. Reuse locations and characters.

By having the above document, it is easy not to have to reinvent something I've already created? Do I need a shopkeeper in London? Why not use one I created in The Lost Lieutenant (book 1) as a character in The Debutante's Code (Book 5)? Rather than branch out all over London, set scenes in familiar locations like Mayfair or Bow Street. This doesn't mean you never bring in something new, but if you can reuse a setting or a character, it will keep the story world tighter and easier to manage.

5. Appreciate how much readers love "Easter Eggs" in stories.

An "Easter Egg" is a term from the video-gaming world that refers to something special and hidden that is discovered by true aficionados of the game. In reading, it's a reward for a dedicated reader. You can bring back something small, or someone that a new reader won't know comes from a previous story, but a dedicated reader will recognize right away. It is work, but it's worth it. Work to weave in those little prizes into your story. Readers LOVE feeling smart and 'in the know' while reading, and rewarding a dedicate reader just strengthens the reader's bond with the author and with the story. It makes the story world seem rounder, richer, and more complex. It also helps retain readers when the next book comes out!


Question for you: If you are an author, do you keep a Style Sheet for each book? If you are a reader, do you enjoy cross-over series stories?

__________________________________

5 Ways to Keep the Details Straight


Regency London's detective duo is back on a new case--and this one is going to be a killer

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street Runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill's owner dead of an apparent gunshot.

Even though the owner's daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, it seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can't take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can, because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage--and his job as a runner--comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him to the fates.

Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha's bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. Still, her instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation. But circumstances intervene, dropping her into the middle of the deadly pursuit.

When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case--and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.


5 Ways to Keep the Details Straight
Best-selling, award-winning author, Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/inspirationalregencyreaders where she spends way too much time!


Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests
The Pharisee and the Publican, watercolor by John Everett Millais (ca.1860),
Aberdeen Art Gallery. [PD-US]


Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
"Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --
greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.'
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke 18:9-14

Please join us in praying for the upcoming election! 

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 pray for our country and for an end to the problems that plague us at this current time, such as the increased cost of fuel and food and the rise in crime.

Together, let's pray we can, once again, become a unified nation. Also, please join us in praying for the protection of our military and for law enforcement officers and border agents.   

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 Seekerville2@gmail.com. If the winner does not contact us within two weeks, another winner may be selected. **(All winners' emails will receive a response within a week. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, we may not have received it. Please leave a comment in the following Weekend Edition.)


Monday: Jan Drexler was in the house talking about the seasons of our writing life. The winner of an ebook copy of "The Case of the Artist's Mistake" is Lee-Ann! Congratulations!!!

Tuesday: Pepper Basham

Wednesday: Debby Giusti told us "How to Make a Story Stew!" in her blogpost. She also hosted a drawing for a copy of her NOV Love Inspired Suspense, IN A SNIPER'S CROSSHAIRS. The winner is Loretta Shumpert!!! Loretta, email your home address to Seekerville2@gmail.com so Debby can get your book in the mail. Congrats!

Thursday: Winnie Griggs discussed the value of family reunions. The winners of her giveaway are Glynis and Connie Porter Saunders. Congratulations ladies - select any one book from my backlist you'd like to have.



Weekend Edition


Monday: Erica Vetsch will give 5 Tips for Keeping the Details Straight in a series.

Wednesday: Cate Nolan

Thursday: Pam Hillman  
  




The paperback copy of Ruthy's newest "Wishing Bridge" story has been released and the Kindle option goes live on TUESDAY, 10/25.... 

Weekend Edition

Not everyone gets a second chance to make things right.

She just got three.

 

In a novel that breaks the heart even as it warms the soul, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne weaves a tale of what-ifs and could-have-beens in this newest story… a story that brings prodigals home… home to Wishing Bridge.

Heather Johnstone swore she'd never come back to Wishing Bridge.
She needed nothing. No family. No links to a past that broke her heart. Heather was successful in her own right, by her own actions. As principal of an acclaimed high school, on track for district superintendent, Heather set her goals and met them on her own terms. She'd built a pristine life, a life that gave no one the right to disrupt it, but then her father called... the one person who'd loved her. Who'd cared…

And that call left her no choice.

She'd face a past that was now tragically changed and fairly unimportant, but that's the thing about growing up. You don't always know what's important until it's too late. But to Heather there’s no such thing as ‘too late’.

There’s simply: Try harder.

Ruthy is so excited to have this wonderful story released! Be among the first to grab a soda, a coffee or a spot of tea and tiptoe back into the small town of Wishing Bridge where wishes and prayers mingle to make dreams come true. 



Weekend Edition

RELEASES OCT 25th

Weekend Edition

IN A SNIPER’S CROSSHAIRS

By Debby Giusti

An assassin’s loose in Amish country…

and she’s not the only target.

When a radio broadcast describes taxi driver Lily Hudson’s passenger as an armed criminal, she becomes his immediate target. Narrowly escaping, Lily accepts Matthias Overholt’s offer to hide at his Amish family farm for Christmas—until evidence reveals the gunman’s plan is tied to Lily’s past. Now to prevent an assassination, Lily and Matthias must unravel a years-old conspiracy…and evade a sniper who has them in his sights.

 Pre-Order HERE! 

Weekend Edition





Weekend Edition


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 )

Why is Writing So Hard? at Write To Done

How to Avoid Taking Edits Too Personally by Hattie Fletcher at Jane Friedman

Things to Consider When Creating an Effective Writing Schedule by Tammy Karasek at The Write Conversation

5 Micro-edits to Hook Readers on Your First Page by Marissa Graff at Writers Helping Writers

How to Work Through Writing Doubts by Kristen Kieffer at Well Storied.

Filtering Phrases and Why You Should Minimalize Them in Your Novel by Hannah Bauman at Between the Line Editorial

The Seven Deadly Thoughts of Many Indie Authors by James Rubart at Learn How To Write A Novel

Ingredients for a Successful Story Climax by Becca Puglisi at Writers In The Storm

Business Plans for Freelance Authors by Sarah Rexford at The Write Life






The Value of Family Reunions

 

The Value of Family Reunions

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.
Earlier this month my hubby’s family had their annual family reunion. It was the first time we were able to hold it since 2019 and it was soooooo good to see everyone again. We always look forward to this gathering -  it’s an opportunity for him and all his siblings, cousins, everyone’s extended families, including in-laws and out-laws, to come together and get reacquainted or acquainted for the first time.

There is table set up at the front of the room where photos of loved ones we’ve lost hold a place of honor. There’s also a place to set out other family photos, family tree info and other memorabilia. There are always groups clustered around these, enjoying the look at times past and adding the names of new family members to the genealogy.

The Value of Family Reunions

Then of course there’s the meal. Oh. My. Goodness! Everyone tries to outdo themselves by cooking up everything from repeats of family favorites to new experiments in food decadence. There’s always much more than our group can possibly eat, though we all do our best to try!

In the afternoon, once the meal is cleared everyone has to pose for pictures. Of course the cameras have been snapping all day but these are the posed groupings in every combination imaginable - born Griggs, siblings, individual families, etc.

When the cleanup is done and folks have started drifting away, my hubby and his siblings, along with their own families, have another reunion of sorts. They make a trip to the cemetery where his parents are buried and then take a trip out to the old home place, which is still very much in the family, though no one lives there currently. One of my daughters has bought a large chunk of it and runs cattle on the place and has gradually been making improvements. So here as well there are lots of opportunities to reminisce and talk about what’s changed and what has remained the same.  

It was fun to hear my kids and their cousins share memories about the old tree swing (the chain is still there since the tree branch has absorbed it), about digging in the dirt under that same tree, playing in the barn and learning to ride bikes on the country road that runs in front of the house. Their own kids were all wide-eyed as they listened to these stories and tried to imagine their parents as children.

The Value of Family Reunions

 
As the day ended I took a moment to think about how very valuable these type of family gatherings are.  While my own family doesn't do family reunions per se, we traditionally all gather at my Mom's house during the days leading up to Christmas. Since we are now counting great-grandkids among our group, the holiday gathering can number into the 30s or 40s. And it is the same pattern - lots of food, reminiscences, vigorous but ultimately friendly debates, games and laughter. So I am lucky to have these sorts of gatherings on both sides of my kids family tree.

So what are some of those valuable takeaways?

They allow us to keep in touch with family that has moved away and who we might never see otherwise. While, texts, emails and social media postings can help, there is nothing like being face-to-face to remind us of all we share.

They give the newer generations a feel for where they come from – the people, the values, the heritage. They learn about family lore, places, history and personalities.

They allow us to create new memories and new traditions that knit the newer members in with those who have been around much longer, they let us form stronger connections between the generations.

And to bring this around to something writing related, if you open yourself up to these kinds of wonderful experiences, you can draw on them later to add another layer of richness and texture to the backstory of your characters.

 

The Value of Family Reunions

So, does your family do reunions, either formal or informal? Can you think of any benefits I left off?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of my backlist books.

 

How to Make a Story Stew

How to Make a Story Stew
By Debby Giusti

Leaves are turning colors, temperatures have dropped, pumpkins decorate doorsteps, football is the sport of the season and folks are cooking comfort food, such as hearty stews.

The recipe is simple. Toss chunks of beef into a pot along with carrots and potatoes, a couple tomatoes, chopped onions and garlic, then cook over a low heat for three to four hours or in a crock pot to have the house filled with savory scents and stomachs growling in anticipation of the delicious dinner ahead.

While the preparation remains fairly constant, good cooks add their own special touches to layer the flavors and add pizazz to the stew. Some common additions include parsley, thyme, cayenne pepper, fresh spinach, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The variations are numerous but always satisfying.

The same can be said for stories. We know the basic elements: the inciting incident, escalating tension, a hero and heroine with their own GMC (goals, motivation and conflict), the black moment, climax and resolution. Throw in an antagonist, AKA the villain in a suspense genre or a nosey neighbor or overbearing relative in a sweet romance. A prologue at the beginning reveals a pertinent detail from the past, and an epilogue brings a sigh of contentment to the happily-ever-after ending.

How to Make a Story Stew

But how can we spice up our stories?

Here are a few suggestions to catch an editor’s interest and ensure your manuscript goes to contract…or similarly to hook a reader into buying not only your current book but your backlist, as well.

SECRETS Readers love secrets. Pepper your story with secrets and add a bit of foreshadowing to enhance the reader’s anticipation—or let your reader in on the secret, especially a secret that either the hero or the heroine doesn’t know about. In COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, every character had a secret. It was a fun challenge for me to write, and from what readers said, they enjoyed the reveals as the story progressed. Note to self: I need to season my next story with a few secrets. Shhh! Don’t tell.

SECRET BABIES are another ingredient that ups the tension and keeps the reader turning the page. When the hero in DANGEROUS AMISH INHERITANCE returns home after almost ten years, he finds the girl he loved living next door with her nine-year-old son who looks just like him.

CHILDREN Whether a secret baby or not, children are a delightful addition to any story. Their innocence and wit and their unexpected revelations keep not only the hero and heroine on their toes but also the reader who hopefully opens her heart to these adorable little ones. Their struggles and upsets will tug at the reader’s heartstrings and provide added depth to your story.

ANIMALS Pets add warmth to any tale. My grand pups had roles in two of my books, and the manuscript I sent to my editor a few weeks ago features an adorable beagle named Sadie who stole my heart the minute she appeared on the page. Don’t limit yourself to only dogs and cats, calves, piglets, goslings, even hamsters and gerbils can find a home in your story.

SYMBOLS I write suspense so my plots pit good against evil. Using light and darkness can underscore the mood at key plot points. Sunlight breaking through the cloudy sky, moonlight filtering through the trees, or the sun rising over the horizon can foreshadow scenes when good triumphs over evil. Conversely, twilight, dark shadows and a blackened sky evoke a more ominous setting.

OBJECTS AS SYMBOLS I used a missing cross necklace in SCARED TO DEATH. The cross is pivotal to the heroine’s journey, and is the reason she leaves her ordinary world and travels to Mercy, Georgia, where the action ensues. A symbol adds emotion to your story and draws your reader more deeply into the protagonist’s plight.

WEATHER Mother Nature provides unexpected twists in a story line. A blizzard, torrential rain, ice or blustery wind can heighten an already exciting scene and make the reader stay up late to ensure the hero and heroine survive the inclement weather. Foreshadowing an encroaching storm is another way to up the tension. Weather can force a hero and heroine to hole up in a deserted cabin or a hidden cave. It can thwart their plans and compound their problems whether writing humor or suspense. If you’re like me, you check the weather app on your phone frequently each day. Weather is important to us so use it in your stories.

MISTAKES and FLAWS When I first started writing, my characters were perfect creatures without flaws, and yes, they were boring. I quickly learned that past wounds and mistakes make interesting characters. What mistake in the hero’s past keeps him from fully embracing life and love? Does he feel unworthy because of something that still plays heavily on his heart? Is he unable to love himself or accept God’s love? A physical handicap can add dimension to a character, but the interior flaw, the baggage from the past, the regret and guilt that he can’t overcome adds even more depth to your story. Additionally, redemption provides a satisfying ending that leaves the reader eager to buy your next book.

SECONDARY CHARACTERS Toss a few secondary characters into your story stew. A mentor can provide sage advice, whether the protagonist accepts it or not. An older family member, such as a grandmother or a favorite aunt or uncle, can be a voice of reason when life seems to be boiling over with unrest. In the same way, a good friend provides a sounding board to whom the hero can bounce off ideas or voice his inner feelings. While good friends seek to help, a conniving friend may throw barriers in the hero’s path and be interested in his own gain instead of the well-being of the protagonist.

How to Make a Story Stew

Remember to start with the basics to make your story stew, then add additional ingredients to provide a delectable tale your readers will savor with delight.

What ingredients have you added to your own story stew? Or what are the special spices you enjoy in the stories you read? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for my NOV release and Christmas story, IN A SNIPER’S CROSSHAIRS.

Happy Writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti

www.DebbyGiusti.com

How to Make a Story Stew


IN A SNIPER’S CROSSHAIRS

By Debby Giusti

An assassin’s loose in Amish country…and she’s not the only target.

When a radio broadcast describes taxi driver Lily Hudson’s passenger as an armed criminal, she becomes his immediate target. Narrowly escaping, Lily accepts Matthias Overholt’s offer to hide at his Amish family farm for Christmas—until evidence reveals the gunman’s plan is tied to Lily’s past. Now to prevent an assassination, Lily and Matthias must unravel a years-old conspiracy…and evade a sniper who has them in his sights.

Pre-Order HERE!


 

 

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?Sunday Scripture & Prayer RequestsWeekend EditionQuirky People Make Quirky CharactersFinding a New Life for Old Books: A Post of Encouragement5 Ways to Keep the Details StraightSunday Scripture & Prayer RequestsWeekend EditionThe Value of Family ReunionsHow to Make a Story Stew

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