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Seekerville: The Journey Continues

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Learning Your Family's Stories with Guest Blogger Amanda Wen

Erica here: I am delighted to welcome today's guest-blogger, Amanda Wen. Amanda is a debut author, and her new book is called Roots of Wood and Stone, a split time set in Sedgwick County, Kansas. As a native Kansan, I was so excited when I read the synopsis for this book. Amanda is published by Kregel, my publisher, so we're not only Kansans at heart, we're pub-mates! If you get a chance, I recommend following/friending Amanda on social media. Her posts about her kids, affectionately dubbed "The Wenlets" are hysterical!

Learning Your Family's Stories with Guest Blogger Amanda Wen
Amanda Wen

If you’ve been a writer for any length of time, you’ve probably been asked—or perhaps wondered yourself—where to get story ideas. For my debut, Roots of Wood and Stone, the answer centers around a century-old farmhouse, an ancestor’s memoir, and my mom’s hobby of genealogy.

Mom’s been tracing our ancestry longer than I’ve been alive, so my childhood is peppered with vacations to places like Bean Blossom, Indiana (really!). While my mother combed through census records and property deeds, my brother and I would spend hours in small town libraries and courthouses devouring Dave Barry and Calvin and Hobbes, watching the clock, and trying to ignore our snack-deprived stomachs. As a kid, this resulted in decidedly lukewarm enthusiasm for my mom’s hobby, but now as an adult and a writer, I’m immensely grateful for all the stories she learned over the years, some of which have found their way into fiction.

But if you didn’t spend your formative years vacationing to Middle-Of-Nowhere, West Virginia, all is not lost. I’m here with a few easy pointers to help you start learning your family’s stories, and possibly even sowing seeds for your own.

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your parents or grandparents around, take time to listen to—and maybe even record!—their stories. You might be surprised what they already know about who you are and where you came from. In addition—and historical writers can attest to this—such conversations are invaluable when it comes to details like food, slang terms, and trends of bygone eras. But even if you’re a contemporary writer, story ideas can still surface. Maybe your grandparents’ meet-cute can find its way into your next contemporary romance!


Learning Your Family's Stories with Guest Blogger Amanda Wen
From Amanda's Family Archives

The Internet is also chock-full of resources for genealogists. Ancestry.com, a site my mom has used for years, contains a wealth of birth, marriage, and death certificates, passenger registries, military records, census indices, and more. If someone else has already looked into your family, that information will be there, so you might find a photo of an ancestor you never even knew existed! You may learn that one of your forbears was killed by a falling icicle (as one of mine was) or that your great-great-grandmother was carried across the Isthmus of Panama on the back of a native guide (also a true family story). Ancestry has a monthly subscription fee for those who really get into it, but if all you’re needing is ideas, their free 14-day trial should suffice. 


Another amazing—and free!—online resource is
Find A Grave. Tombstone inscriptions frequently include valuable genealogical information like birth and death dates as well as names of parents, children, or spouses. Before the Interwebz, the only way to find this information was to physically visit the cemetery. This meant that, yes, our family vacations also involved trudging through cemeteries in indescribably remote places, scraping away lichen to reveal worn inscriptions, and very often picking thorns out of our socks for hours afterward (“What’d you do on your vacation?” “I went to Disney World! What about you?” “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you…”). But now with Find A Grave, you can pay a virtual visit to any cemetery with just a few clicks of your fingers.

As with Ancestry, Find A Grave often contains a wealth of information submitted by other users. This information can and often does include obituaries, photos, and links to other family members, all of which can easily spark story ideas. Through Find A Grave, I learned the story of my great-great-great grandmother, Sarah Stevens, who, along with her infant son, George, died shortly after she and her husband, William, arrived as early settlers of Sedgwick County, Kansas. Included in her online memorial is a quote from a biography of her husband: “[William] was visited with a sore affliction in the death of his wife, which occurred the following year, 13 May 1871, while she was still a young woman, being but thirty-eight years of age.”

This quote really sparked my imagination. What would a recently-arrived pioneer do when gutted by such a “sore affliction?” How would he cope with the tasks of running a farm and raising his other children and emerge with his faith intact (as was the case with William Stevens)? These questions, and the resulting rumination, eventually found their way into the pages of Roots of Wood and Stone in the character arc of my historical-timeline hero, Jack Brennan.

I won’t spoil Jack’s story for you, but I will give you a post-script to the story of William and Sarah Stevens. One of their older children, Mattie, was my great-great-grandmother. She went on to marry another pioneer, an Irish immigrant named Francis Little. That memoir I mentioned at the beginning of this post was Francis’s memoir, and that farmhouse? That was Francis and Mattie’s house. While researching the book, I learned that a distant cousin still has access to the (now-abandoned) home and offered to give me a personal tour.

Of course I invited my mom.

I hope I’ve helped spark a new way to get inspiration for all you Seekers, and I can’t wait to see what stories emerge as you all mine your heritage for ideas. Have you ever put any of your family history in a story? Any memorable ancestor stories you’d like to share? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below, and one lucky commenter will win a signed paperback copy of Roots of Wood and Stone!


Learning Your Family's Stories with Guest Blogger Amanda Wen
Releasing TOMORROW!
Get your copy today!

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and worship teams, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat. Roots of Wood and Stone is her debut novel.

Social Links:

               Website: www.amandawen.com

               Newsletter (with free short story): http://eepurl.com/c_xqXr

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaWen

               Insta: www.instagram.com/authoramandawen




Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur

 

Happy Monday after Thanksgiving! Carrie here & while movers are loading all my (and my husband's) earthly possessions and more boxes of books than should be legal onto a truck bound for Georgia, debut author (and Seeker Villager) Ann Brodeur is here to share her heart with us as she sails off the island!! 

Welcome, Ann - and BIG CONGRATULATIONS on your debut novel! We are thrilled for you!

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Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur

Hello.

My name is Ann Brodeur. And I’ve sailed off the island.

Whew! I’ve been waiting to say that for years, and I am so happy to be sharing that news today. Like many of you, I’ve been a dedicated follower of Seekerville for a long time.

Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur
*picture taken by author
Thanksgiving seems like it happened months ago for those of us living in the Great White North (a.k.a. Canada). We celebrate the holiday on the second Monday of October when all the trees are displaying their magnificent colours and we are deep in the autumn flavours of Pumpkin Spice and Maple. And for a fun fact (that I didn’t learn until this year) Canada’s first thanksgiving celebration happened FORTY-THREE years BEFORE the pilgrims celebrated the first American thanksgiving (Canada’s first was in 1578 and America’s was in 1621).

But I digress…

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday despite the craziness 2020 has brought.

This journey to publication has been a lot like sailing in unchartered waters. The waves have been rough, and at times it felt like I was sinking without hope of rescue or coming out of the storm unscathed. And there were better moments where calm waters prevailed.

Then…there was land.

I’m so thankful to be on land.

Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur
As I work through the month of launching my book baby into the world, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. There are so many people who have invested in me throughout my writerly life, that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

I think of my Grade Five Librarian (that was eons ago when no one had a home computer, we stayed outside until the streetlights came on and we had to WALK across the room to the television set to change the channel). Mrs. Waind encouraged me to enter a writing contest, and I won. The first seed was planted.

My high school teachers who ran the literary magazine and school newspapers taught me how to find a story and how to edit the work. I loved those club meetings.

I think of my college English professor who planted the idea of someday writing for Harlequin (I’m not there yet, but I’m trying!). At the time, Love Inspired had just launched, but all I knew of the parent company was those bodice-ripping front covers (and no – I never picked up one of those; they terrified me). It wasn’t something I would consider until twenty-two years later.

I’m thankful for my experience working at Mission Aviation Fellowship. My boss at the time saw potential in me and added grant writing to my already full portfolio. Finding the story from real life and weaving a compelling narrative was something I thrived on. It was through grant writing I re-discovered the love of story.

My best friend gave me my first copy of Writers Digest magazine and filled my carry-on suitcase with books on writing. Apparently she’d grown tired of me just talking about “maybe-someday”.

My local chapter of Multiple Births Canada put out the call for articles dealing with issues surrounding twins, triplets and more for the volunteer magazine (we have twins). An article I’d written for the magazine won an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in 2017.

It was with that contest placement I seriously thought about writing long term. My youngest was an infant and I knew I needed to upgrade my skills in order to re-enter the workforce. My heart was pulling me toward grant-writing again.

But God had a different plan.

As I started to pray about what I should do, which courses I should take to sharpen my skills, I kept getting the sense I wasn’t to go back to the non-profit world. Instead, there was a recollection of all those seeds that had been planted in the garden of my heart, and I started to wonder if I should write a book.

Wonder of wonders, I checked out Harlequin’s website. There was a romance blitz - an opportunity to write a first chapter and a synopsis for consideration. And there was only two weeks left to submit. Being the over-achiever I am, I read absolutely everything I could find on how to write a romance and what a synopsis was. I spent feeding time day-dreaming of the perfect plot and what my trope would be. Mistaken identity. Twins. Exotic places. Tropes and hooks that were perfect for romance readers. I wrote my chapter, sent in my submission, and…waited.

To make a long story short – I had a full request (which was ultimately rejected) but with amazing feedback and an invitation to send another project to the editor. Since that time, the line has made changes that I’m not totally comfortable with. But I’m thankful for Nic. She opened my eyes to the world of possibilities and gave me the confidence that writing was worth pursuing.

Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur
I found Seekerville through Writer’s Digest. It was listed as one of the top 100 websites and from the first click, I became an avid seeker. I’ve learnt so much from the writers who have shared their experiences, expertise and critique. It was through Seekerville that I found Candee, my editor at Anaiah Press. I had bookmarked the page when she made the announcement she was starting with Anaiah. I didn’t have a completed manuscript to send to her just then, but I knew I’d at least have to try her when I did.

And you know those critique days? Take every opportunity to use them! I had submitted my first few paragraphs of my debut for one of those days (the one with “Hallmark” stamped all over it…). I took the advice I received, made changes and saw the difference to my text. It’s in the details and the Seekers have an eye for it.

I’m thankful for Seekerville and the investment they make every week into our lives.

There have been contests with judges. Writer groups and individual writers who have taken a moment of their time to answer a question or to offer advice. Webinars. Online courses. Authors-in-Residence who have shown me how to make my story stronger. Beta readers who have been pretty blunt in their opinions. Editors, designers and printing presses. And prayer warriors who have prayed me through the journey. A godly husband who holds down the fort and pushes me out the door to write. My kids who pray for “Maman’s book”.

And God. He’s given me the stories to write. Without His direction, there wouldn’t be a story worth telling in my heart.

Without any one of these people I’ve listed, my novel wouldn’t be out in the world.

So even though the journey has been challenging, disappointing, exhilarating, and sometimes downright frustrating, I am truly thankful for those who have helped me along the way.  

To you, it may be a little thing or perhaps an inconvenience, but to one aspiring writer it could be the difference in helping him or her sail off the island.

So – to the Seekers and all those who have helped me along the way, I am forever thankful that you are a part of my story.

And now your turn: What things are you thankful for as a reader? As a writer?

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Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur
SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS by Ann Brodeur 

Unwrapping their past – one secret at a time.

Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last minute vacation road trip to focus and seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget.

Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge.

When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper—and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance—cost her everything she’s ever wanted?

Released November 6, 2020 by Anaiah Press - Buy on Amazon, Amazon CA, B&N or Bookshop!

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Guest Blogger Ann Brodeur
ANN BRODEUR is an award-winning novelist who writes inspirational and contemporary romances offering sweet hope and happy endings.

When she’s not reading, writing, chasing after her kids or enjoying long chats with her husband, Ann can be found drinking coffee, that’s been reheated several times throughout the day. She aspires to someday drink a hot beverage in one sitting.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Join other readers in finding out the latest news from Ann and for bookish fun, by signing up for my newsletter on my website: http://brodeurwrites.com/

Check out novel inspiration, book reviews and more on my Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.ca/brodeurwrites

Follow and Like my author page: https://www.facebook.com/annbrodeurauthor

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20786619.Ann_Brodeur

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-brodeur

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Brodeur

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Ann is offering a giveaway of a Christmas Ornament to Canadian readers only (due to postage costs). This giveaway is open to all Canadian residents who have reached the legal age of majority. Giveaway value of one item is $10CDN or less. Valid except where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. Redemption is contingent on answering a skill testing question. Winner has until Saturday,  December 5 at 1:00pm EST to claim their prize, otherwise prize is forfeited.

Thank you, Ann!!! Y'all, let's show Ann some Seekerville love today! Comment below (and sign up for her newsletter while you're at it!) with your congratulations & what you're thankful for as a reader and/or an author!

Writing--The Desire of Our Hearts

Guest Jamie Adams

Writing--The Desire of Our Hearts


Life doesn’t always go as planned. As I started to jot down notes about my writing journey the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office calling to tell us our daughter’s surgery planned for May 2nd had to be moved up to April 3rd. This conversation took place on April 1st, but it was not an April Fool’s joke. 

I had to drop everything and start juggling schedules. There were teachers to notify (my girls go to an online virtual academy) and my students in China (I teach ESL online) would need to have classes rescheduled. When I sat back down to write my thoughts were on my child and I was reminded of something that happened years ago. I want to share it here and then tie it in with my journey to becoming published. It took place in 2008. 

Writing--The Desire of Our Hearts


While listening to my six-year-old daughter praying before bed she asked God to make our roses bloom. Sweet, but it was February and our pretty rose bush was sleeping. I didn’t discourage her but thought to myself ‘she won’t remember in the morning.’
I know you expect me to share how a flower bloomed the next day, but what is truly amazing isn’t the flower so much as how and where. We have a circular driveway and I always pull forward to leave the house. On this particular morning my path was blocked. I don’t recall what it was, but I had to back up to leave. After everyone was buckled, I turned the key and looked in my side view mirror. The first thing I saw was the rose bush beside the mailbox. Centered in the reflection was one little bud that had bloomed. I would not have seen it had I pulled forward and it was not visible from the road. 
I was humbled, but my lesson in faith had just begun. That year was the year of the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak. After traveling 122 miles and wiping out our little town’s business district, the whirlwind lifted less than 300 yards from our house. What happened that evening is a story in itself. As you can imagine there was a lot of praising God going on at hour house that night. I was reminded of the rosebush and threw that into the mix of praises. 
Three nights later, energized by the power of answered prayer my dear daughter had an even bigger request. She asked God to fill the yard with flowers. I didn’t discourage her, but I was a bit concerned because this time she would surely remember her request in the morning. The next day was Saturday. There were still broken limbs from the tornado to clean up. We live on two acres in the woods. Most of our outdoor time is spent on the front deck where we can enjoy the view and listen to the birds sing. The back yard is that area that must be mowed in the summer but otherwise doesn’t get a lot of attention. Our clean up led us to the back and some interesting debris. Somewhere along the tornado’s path it must have lifted a florist supply store. Scattered all over the back yard were tiny plastic flowers of every color imaginable. To this day I can still see the looks of joy on the faces of my little girls as they filled my arms with flower after flower. 

Writing--The Desire of Our Hearts

God is amazing. He knew what my daughter was going to ask for that night before she was even born. It reminds me of Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
I love books. As a child, I made up stories before I could read. As an adult, I rarely get a good night’s sleep because I lay awake acting out stories in my mind. In my heart there is a strong desire to write. I believe God put it there. 
The best advice I could give to anyone who wants to become a writer is to read, read, read and then write what you like. One thing that surprised me when I first sought publication was the support that came from other writers. Seekerville is a testimony to that truth. So many of us have found a treasure trove of information and support from this wonderful group of authors. 
My first traditionally published book, Cold Creek Mountain is a Western Romance set in Colorado. 
Writing--The Desire of Our Hearts

Lilly Fletcher’s last duty to her recently deceased employer is to deliver his orphaned grandchildren to their uncle on Cold Creek Mountain. The final step of the journey requires securing a guide, which is not an easy task for a governess who prides herself on being independent.

Ex-scout Hayden Dawson has been grieving the tragic loss of his family for several years. When he’s asked to take a fancy governess from the city along with her wards up the mountain, he refuses at first. He has a ranch to run. However, outnumbered, by his foreman and his meddling childhood teacher, he’s coerced out of retirement for one last trip. When the ride up Cold Creek Mountain doesn’t go as planned, can these two wounded hearts work together to protect the children?

*****Jamie will be giving away two e-book copies of her debut, Cold Creek Mountain, from Anaiah Press today! Please let us know in the comments if you'd like to be entered.

Writing--The Desire of Our Hearts
Jamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade. A graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart. She and her family live in the Ozarks surrounded by forest and wild life. Visit Jamie at her Facebook author page and her Amazon Author Page.

Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea


Christy LaShea

Happy, Happy Monday! Wow! I hope you all are well, wherever you are in this world. I am so excited to be here in Seekerville today. As a new writer, I stuck close to this blog. I had the honor of meeting several Seekers at ACFW conferences… this would have been sometime during 2007 to 2012. I was also a guest here in 2009. Search the archives and you’ll find me!
I’m telling my writer age here… I’ve been around a long time.  
Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

Y’all, (can I say y’all? I am from the south, you know ;)) I’ve been trying to get published for about 20 years. If you count the stories I wrote in middle school, well, that’s longer than 20! I believe being a writer takes talent, imagination, and a whole lot of faith. That’s faith in yourself and, more important, in God. 
 I’ve got to be honest. I’ve struggled with fear for a long time, but only recently have I admitted the issue. I’m stubborn and red-headed. My salty stubbornness only got worse after I turned 40. Oh, I’m a nice person. If we meet, you may think sugar won’t melt in my mouth, but there are two sides to every story. For me, I’ve got several sides. I love the Lord and I pray a lot – usually while driving in the car or in the shower. I’m stubborn. I’m sweet. I’m scared. I started getting honest with myself about fear when in 2017 so many of my writer friends, even those that started after me were getting published and I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be cheerleaders for all of my friends. I am thrilled for them, but I had to look at myself and ask why I was parked in neutral. I’d push the gas, but doggone it…it was like the emergency brake was on, and stuck!
My problem, I finally figured out after nearly 20 years of contest wins and final spots, but no publication, was that I feared rejection. You see, I would pitch my heart out at conferences. I’d get requests! Then, I’d get home, look over my work in progress and I’d point out all of the things wrong with it. Or, I’d polish the first 3 chapters a million times and when I sent the full manuscript to the publisher, the rest of it was like an uncooked casserole! Who wants that let down?
Here’s an example of that half baked casserole… In 2009, my manuscript, The Bridge Between, won in the Contemporary Romance category of the ACFW Genesis Contest.  
Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

Mindy Obenhaus and I at ACFW Conference Denver 2009 – Mindy’s a wonderful roommate and has a stunning fashion sense! And she’s got a great way with words! Love her stories!

Wow! I just knew my publishing career was set by that win. Plus, a New York publisher had requested it from the Genesis Contest. So I sent the full manuscript, and by 2010 I got a rejection letter. The editor said she wanted to like it, but…
Hey, y’all, if it’s not in God’s time, in His plan, then it’s not going to happen. 
Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

Ane Mulligan and I were both Genesis Finalists in 2009. Awesome and funny writer!

Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

Missy Tippens and I after the ACFW awards gala 2009.Missy has always been one of my sweetest cheerleaders, mentors, and she’s a wonderful writer!

After the 2010 rejection, life went on. My second child was born and my family rejoiced. Then, I changed positions at work. Soon I found myself in a spiral that involved high stress at work, little time for family or anything else, and a lot of confusion as the years plodded ahead. Despite all of the difficulty, I continued to think of new storylines even though my writing time was less and less. When I was able to write, creating the manuscripts helped me escape that stressful time in life. Eventually, unable to take the pressure of the job any longer, I transferred out of the department. The relief of stress on me was a true blessing. 
By 2018, I received more nods from contests as the manuscript finaled, but fear kept choking my creativity. I didn’t have the finances to self publish. I wanted to be a traditionally published author but I didn’t write cookie-cutter stories. My stories were a little gritty. Where did they fit in? I started considering maybe I shouldn’t write Christian fiction. I could write sweet but not have the spiritual arc… That voice inside my heart started talking: 
“I’m not good enough.”
“No one wants to read my stories.”
“I should just quit.”
I’d started praying more. Instead of praying for a publishing contract, I prayed for God to take the desire away from me. I’d be happier if I could focus on something else if I wasn’t meant to be a published author. 
 As I have struggled with fear, I’ve also struggled with knowing when God is speaking to me. God has never told me to do something or go somewhere. I’ve never heard his powerful voice from Heaven. Instead, He speaks to me by pressing something upon my conscience that I can’t release until the deed is done. Sometimes the feeling is so heavy it’s like someone is sitting on my shoulders. I will do anything to get this off of my shoulders and if I don’t, I feel really bad about it! 
In the spring of 2018, I had something bothering me about my health that I had been ignoring for quite some time. I had not seen a doctor in four years.  As a busy, working wife and mom of two, I made sure everyone else went to the doctor. That pressing feeling began to infiltrate my thoughts that this lump I felt in my left breast had been there for a long time. It wasn’t going away and it wasn’t getting smaller. Still, I ignored it a little while longer.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to write new stories, but a story I had worked on for a long time, the same one that won Genesis, would not leave my heart. I couldn’t put “The Bridge Between” in a drawer and move on. I kept shopping it, kept pitching it, kept tweaking… By March of 2018, I had an email from an editor which indicated interest in the story, but she requested changes. A revise and resubmit letter! I’d never gotten one of those! I agreed with the changes and knew the story needed something but I couldn’t understand what...
By May of 2018, that nudging, annoying, pressing feeling would not let go of me. I saw a new doctor and told her about the lump that had been bothering me. I’d never had a mammogram as women at 40 are instructed to do. My family didn’t have a history of breast cancer. Following a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound on the same day, the radiologist came in to the ultrasound room and somberly advised that the results were very serious and he would notify my doctor immediately. In July of 2018, at 43 years old, I began treatments for Stage 3 breast cancer. 
Earlier, I mentioned I was stubborn. Well, this is the time when my stubbornness jumped to a whole new level. A cancer diagnosis was not going to be the end for me. Irritated worse than the Tasmanian devil, I put on my big girl pants and I faced those cancer treatments. On the first infusion, I took my laptop thinking I could revise while I went through chemo. That didn’t work out too well, but what I learned was that God is at work everywhere! 
God has put some of the kindest nurses in those infusion centers. He has sent friends and family my way to pass on what they learned from their own journeys. He also showed me through this journey that I have friends everywhere. Friends across the country that I did not even know that were praying for me. Y’all, I received so many cards and letters, it was humbling.  People from my church brought food. Others were at the hospital waiting with my family to offer them comfort. I am truly blessed and forever grateful.
Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

I had to take multiple forms of chemotherapy from July 2018 until June 2019. Radiation followed in the fall of 2019. My body went through many changes.  Some of those changes were painful – emotionally and physically. In the photo below, my daughter and I are in the pre-op room in July of 2018 on the day I receive my chemo port. This was the first of many trips to the hospital, but as you can see, we try to remain in good and goofy spirits.

Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea


Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

No hair, don’t care! September 2018

Despite chemo treatments, continuing to work full time, and stay involved with my children’s activities, I finished the revisions for my story. Those past rejections seemed small after being slapped with a cancer diagnosis. God had given me another chance and I was determined that cancer was not going to take over my life. Life is precious, it can be short. If you want something, you have to go after it, each and every day. So, I did…
Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea

Christmas 2018, before my first mastectomy.
By the end of 2018, I had my first surgery, a left mastectomy. Prior to surgery, I sent the manuscript back to the requesting editor. She rejected it again with an invite to resubmit if I made additional changes. By this time, I felt I needed a different editor to look at it to help me figure out what was wrong. 
Here’s another nod from God… About that time, my good friend and fellow author Patty Smith Hall posted that she was looking to edit manuscripts on the side and needed some clients. I sent Patty some of my chapters, but I never ended up hiring her. Instead, Patty told me about a contest her publisher, Winged Publications, was holding. By August of 2019, my manuscript was a finalist. And by September 2019, Patty called me to tell me I’d placed 2nd in the contest, but Cynthia Hickey at Winged Publications wanted to publish my book! 
We made a round of revisions, we moved the black moment (I had it happening too early), and by November of 2019, two things happened. I had a right mastectomy and six days later, my first book, Hope Between Us, was released. Talk about multi-tasking… I never imagined I’d be recovering from surgery while celebrating a book release! That’s life! My crazy life! 
I praise Jesus that I am cancer free today. I give all the glory to God. He heard the prayers of my family and friends and He answered! 
He also ignored my prayer to take away my desire to write! 
As God had a plan for me and my crazy dreams, He also has a plan for you. If you’re afraid of something, pray about it. Keep your ears, your eyes, and your mind open to Him.
 Stay strong in your faith, because God’s plan is bigger than any of our fears.
Thank you for having me on Seekerville today! If you’d like to find out more about me, visit me at my website. While you're there, please sign up for my newsletter! I’d also love to give away an autographed copy of Hope Between Us. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, let us know in a comment here. I’m headed to my day job now, but I’ll jump in to chat later this afternoon and evening.

Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea
Hope Between Us: A Christian Romance
Aimee McClain returns home to Point Peace, Georgia, hoping for a fresh start. She wants to find a new treatment for her seven-year-old son’s Aplastic Anemia. After the devastating loss of her parents and her husband Aimee can’t lose someone else she loves, but as a single mom with limited resources, she’s running out of time and her son’s life is at stake.
Ever since being behind the wheel the night his best friend died, Seth Garrett works hard to help people. He is a coach and a teacher, he helps his parents, he feels like his debt of sorry will never be paid. At first, Aimee is just another person who Seth can help, but soon he realizes her trouble is a lot more than fixing an old car. 

The Kevin Ridley Walk/Run, an event Seth started ten years earlier to honor his best friend, has garnered statewide attention and continues to raise money for underprivileged youth. When Aimee’s family asks Seth to help her organize a bone marrow drive and fundraiser for her son, he jumps at the chance to help the pretty widow and her adorable child. 
Aimee, fighting to make ends meet in the face of Luke’s illness and single parenthood, doesn’t like this interception with Seth. He may not remember her now, but Aimee knows in time the truth of Seth’s accident will come out. How can they continue a relationship, build a new life together, with this between them?
Author Bio:
Stay in Faith by Guest Christy LaShea
Claims adjuster by day, writer all other times, Christy wrote her first book, a mystery, while in seventh grade. Currently, Christy writes heartwarming southern romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, Christy has a daughter, a son, and four fur-babies: Thomas: a nosey German Shepherd; Josie-Bobo: an adorable English Bulldog; and last but never least, Twitter and Ranger, two very loud Parakeets. Connect with Christy online:

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies

Guest Tanya Agler


What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies


Thank you so much to Missy Tippens and Seekerville for allowing me to be today’s guest blogger. I started reading Seekerville in 2013, and I’m so thankful for this community as it has supported me through my writing journey, including the call I received from Harlequin Heartwarming in January of 2019 for my debut novel The Sheriff’s Second Chance. From the beginning, I’ve learned so much about perseverance, plotting, and writing from this great group of authors and their supporters, readers and writers alike. When I sat and contemplated what possible piece of advice I could add, writer’s block crept in and I froze like a doe in headlights. Then, I remembered how open and honest the contributors have been and that gave me my idea. Anyone who’s been around me, even for a short time, knows I love classic movies. I’m talking Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and Jimmy Stewart movies. So here are some lessons I’ve learned from movies about writing.

1.     “Life is a banquet…!” Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame in Auntie Mame

Whenever I write, this is one lesson I think of quite often. When I apply this lesson to the act of writing, it reminds me how fortunate I am and I ask myself whether I’m smiling. Here I am with the time and a story to write. To me, writing is a banquet, and I hope I’m taking time to enjoy the process and enjoy my characters. Plus, I love that this quote has a double meaning. I not only think of my writing process as a banquet, but I also think of the book itself as a banquet of emotions. When I work on the first draft, I remind myself to question whether my character’s lives are a banquet of laughter and tears, of joy and sorrow, of emotions of all kinds.

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies


2.     “That should be in the brief. That’s the most interesting part of the case.” Judge Bryson in My Favorite Wife starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne

When I’m editing, I think about what is in my head versus what is on the page. That’s one reason I now wait for two weeks after completing a first draft to start editing. That way I read what I wrote rather what I thought I wrote. When I read through the manuscript for the first time, this quote often pops into my head as a reminder to make sure the most interesting parts of the story are written on the page. Is there romance? Did I show the attributes of the heroine that made the hero fall in love with her and vice versa? Is the story interesting?

3.     “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh.” Joel McCrea as John L. Sullivan in Sullivan’s Travels

This is another one of my go-to lines during editing. When I’m reading through for the final time before I hit send, did I laugh? Did I cry? I hope that doesn’t sound vain, but if my characters aren’t making me feel something, I might not be able to say the same for my readers either.

4.     “No man is a failure who has friends.” Clarence’s book inscription to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life

As I wrote at the beginning of the blog, I was fortunate to start following Seekerville in 2013, and it was my critique partner who introduced me to Seekerville, My writing friends and supporters have helped me through this journey with its twists and turns of rejection and reviews. Some say writers need thick skins, but I find friends cheering me on from the sidelines and even helping me on the path itself has lifted me up on a number of occasions, and I’m thankful for all of them.

5.     “Worse, I can’t seem to stop saying things. Everything I think and feel.” Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music

In this exchange, Maria is talking to the Mother Abbess about singing and praying as they discuss Maria’s behavior in the abbey. At other times in the movie, Maria offers prayers to God during mealtime, at bedtime, and during thunderstorms. Throughout my writing journey, prayer has played an integral role in reminding me of God’s grace, His mercy, and His love.

Are there any movie quotes that resonate with you in your writing journey?

****
Tanya has generously offered to give away a print copy of The Sheriff’s Second Chance (plus some surprises) to a U.S. winner or an e-book copy to a Canadian winner. Please let us know in the comments if you’d like to be entered!


Broken things can’t be fixed…Or can they?

Officer and single dad Mike Harrison doesn’t believe in second chances. Ever. That is, until he learns that his former best friend—gorgeous green-eyed car mechanic Georgie Bennett—is back in town. Unfortunately, she’s also a suspect in a recent break-in! But it’ll take an old classic car to show Mike and Georgie that almost anything can be restored with a little patience…and a whole lot of love.

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies
An award-winning author, Tanya makes her home in Georgia with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable Basset, who really rules the roost. Her debut novel, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a January 2020 Harlequin Heartwarming release and is available on Amazon and Harlequin.com. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies and a good cup of tea. Visit her at www.tanyaagler.com or email her at tanyaagler@gmail.com.






Don't Nickel-And-Dime This by guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey


Don't Nickel-And-Dime This by guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey


Happy Friday, Seekerville!

Carrie here - I have the utmost privilege of welcoming 'the author formerly known as kaybee' to the blog today. That's right, Seekerville's own Kathleen D. Bailey (a faithful commenter under the handle 'kaybee') has just released her first novel, and we are thrilled at the chance to help her celebrate!

Michael once betrayed Caroline in the worst possible way.
Can she trust him to get her across the Oregon Trail?
Can he trust himself to accept her forgiveness and God’s?




Take it away, Kathleen!

~*~*~*~*~

For years, my father-in-law drove a vehicle which we famously referred to as the “Chinese Junk.” It was a 1960s station wagon that, with judicious replacing of parts, he had kept functional well into the 80s. He eventually got a better car for himself, but he kept the Chinese Junk as a spare and his children and extended family drove it when we were between vehicles or having our vehicles worked on. (We do not go to the kind of places that have loaner cars, sigh.) Toward the end of its life you had to connect two wires under the hood to start it, but there was no question in any of our minds that the Chinese Junk worked.

My father-in-law nickeled and dimed that car for years. The Junk gave up its particular ghost when the mechanics in the family couldn’t FIND parts, but even then it refused to die and it’s rusting somewhere in a secluded part of my brother-in-law’s property. Now that was a car. And also, probably by today’s standards, not legal.

You can nickel-and-dime a car, but only for so long. Trust me on this. Eventually even the Chinese Junk had to be retired, though family members still raid IT for parts.

But there are other areas of our lives where we can’t take the nickel-and-dime approach, and we shouldn’t.

Not Depressed Enough?


I stood up with eagerness as the medical researcher came back into the room, but her expression told me I had nothing to be eager about. “You didn’t qualify for the depression study,” she told me. “The doctor said we need someone who’s actively depressed.”

She said she’d try to get me a check for the time I spent on the screening, and as I walked out to the reception area she patted me on the back. “Look at it this way, at least you’re not depressed.”

Indeed.

For several years my husband and I have done medical research trials to help with an ever-expanding budget and ever-shrinking paychecks. I had had my eye on this one for catching up on our property taxes. But as I started my car, I knew that God would provide for the taxes in His own way and His own time.

It wasn’t always that way.

We have struggled financially for most of our marriage, from Dave’s college days to the Great Recession, which never receded fast enough for me. I clipped coupons, looked for deals on everything, and found secondary ways to make money. When I had full-time jobs, I always freelanced around the side; and when I lost one of those jobs due to budget cuts, I never collected a dime of unemployment. At one point during the laid-off years, I had six different income streams. At once.

But they never did what I hoped they would.

I would plan on a certain check to come to take care of a certain need, and when it came, another, more urgent need nudged it out of the way. So I’d roll the need over to the next freelance check, bonus or medical trial compensation. And the “need” would get eaten up by something else, a still more urgent one.

There was never enough to go around, and my plans for what there was always fell through.

This financial patchwork quilt, with plenty of holes, extended into our sixties. When friends paid off their children’s student loans and their houses, I continued to scramble for freelance jobs. Sometimes I got them, sometimes I didn’t.

Until the day I was grousing about yet another need going unmet because another need had superseded it. And the Lord spoke to me. Not a burning bush thing, I’ve unfortunately never had those, but it was clear enough: “Kathy, you are never going to nickel-and-dime your way out of your financial problems. If you could, you would have done it by now.”

Whoa.

Was that what I had been doing? I’d thought it was Good Financial Planning.

And maybe it had been, but God had a bigger plan. A spreadsheet I couldn’t argue with. I still plan, but I’m a lot more flexible in allowing Him to meet our needs. Because He will. In His time and His way.

I asked myself what else I’d been approaching this way, or seeing other people dealing with in the nickel-and-dime way.  

Mysterious ways


Could you nickel and dime a marriage? Could one go into that most intricate of human relationships with a checklist?

Only if one or more of the parties walked away with a broken heart.

Don't Nickel-And-Dime This by guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey
If Dave or I had had a checklist, we wouldn’t be here today. Not together, anyway. There is no earthly reason why we should be married, or even a couple. But God wanted it that way, and the three of us are greater than the sum of our parts.

In writing (yes, I knew we’d eventually get here), I held to a punch-list format for years and years. If I did everything right, whatever “everything” was at the time, I would snag THAT editor, THAT agent, or THAT door would open and I’d walk in and not look back. I schmoozed and slaved. Boxes were checked. Formulas got followed, disciplines observed. But formulas and checklists don’t always follow the patterns of an industry in flux. Because there aren’t any patterns. Houses close or merge, agents burn out, trends flow away from my genre.

There is no formula for being published. There is only writing, hard work and God.


Being “anxious for nothing”


But God wasn’t done with me even then, as He pointed out that we can’t nickel-and-dime our salvation, either.

I thought I’d mastered that one. Raised in a liturgical church, I’d looked for salvation through sacramental observances and good works for most of my childhood and teen years, and thrown that off in the tumult of the 60s. When the Lord found me, a drugged, directionless little hippie girl, I learned that the road back wasn’t paved with good works, and I joyously accepted salvation by faith.

But there was still a lot to learn, and as with my finances, the idea of doing it myself wouldn’t go away. When there was a need I tried to fill it, even when He had other plans. I was Doing and not necessarily Being.

Until I couldn’t. Age caught up with me, along with a demanding job, and I couldn’t necessarily Do. Who would Do if I Didn’t?

I could never be good enough, smart enough, “Christian” enough for God. And He knows that. He knew it when I was born, He knew it on that fateful Friday 2,000 years ago. But that’s never been what He wanted.

We can’t nickel-and-dime the way to heaven. But when faced with the sacrifice of everything He was in spite of everything we are, really, who would want to? Wouldn’t you rather be loved with an Everlasting Love than check off, or be checked off a punch list?

He wants me, and you, to Be first.

And He’ll take it from there.

~*~*~*~*~

Don't Nickel-And-Dime This by guest blogger Kathleen D. Bailey


Kathleen Bailey, known locally as “Kaybee,” is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.

She attended a mixture of public and parochial schools, graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She married the Rev. David W. Bailey in 1977, and they lived in Colorado, Wisconsin and Michigan before returning to their home state of New Hampshire. They are the parents of two adult daughters.

She has worked as both a staff and freelance journalist. She semi-retired in 2017, in order to devote herself to a growing interest in Christian fiction. She has won or finaled in several contests, including the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest.

She blogs on other writers’ sites and on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. She is involved in an active critiquing relationship with another author. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she participates in continuing education, judges writing contests, and continues to enjoy the world of words.

Bailey “sailed off the island” Sept. 20 with the publication of her first novel, “Westward Hope,” by Pelican/White Rose Publishers. She is contracted for the second book in the series, “Settler’s Hope,” and also has a novella with minor characters from “Settler’s Hope” to be published in Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza.”

Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other.

For more information, contact her at ampie86@comcast.net; @piechick1 on Twitter; Kathleen D. Bailey on Facebook and LinkedIn; or at www.kathleendbailey.weebly.com.  

~*~*~*~*~

What about you?
What's something that maybe you've been trying to nickel-and-dime in your writing or in life?

 Comment for a chance to win an ebook of Westward Hope by Kathleen D. Bailey!
                                                                                                                                                                                   

An Unexpected Journey

with guest Sherrinda Ketchersid

An Unexpected Journey


I don’t know about you, but life can get complicated. You think you are on a smooth path, and then a storm hits, throwing a huge tree across the road. What do you do? Climb over it? Go around it? Chop your way through the tree branches? There are different ways to get around your obstacles and choosing the right one can seem overwhelming.

You might choose one way around the hardship, only to find another one just around the bend. You wonder if another way would have been easier. Maybe. Maybe not. We can’t know. We pray for direction, then take the path we feel God is leading us toward. We trust that He is leading us toward the best path for us—even if it has another obstacle along the way. And to be honest, there will be more obstacles.

That’s the thing about life. There’s good and bad all the time. It’s a roller coaster. An adventure. A journey of anticipation and expectation. We know to expect difficulty at some point, yet when it hits it sometimes blows us out of the water. We want to keep traveling on the smooth path. The one with untold blessings.

Let me just say, there are blessings on the difficult path too. What??? Yes, you heard me. Blessings! You are blessed when you reach out to God for help and direction. You are blessed when a friend calls or sends a card to encourage you. You are blessed when you learn to praise God during the turmoil. You are blessed when your tough experiences enable you to help someone else. There are multiple blessings for the hard journey.

The same rings true for the characters we create in our stories. We know there is no real story without conflict, so our characters must face hardship during the plot points you have laid out. They must decide how they will handle the conflict and move past it. Will they encounter more hardship because of their decisions? (Of course! It’s a novel!)

But will your characters find unexpected blessing along the way? Will they recognize the good in the midst of the bad? I don’t know. It depends on the character and their journey. It depends on you, the writer. What kinds of journey will your character take? Will the road him lead to self-discovery? Will the road lead him to God? Or will the road lead him to despair? These are choices you and your character must make.
An Unexpected Journey

In my debut novel, Lord of Her Heart, both my hero and heroine face twists and turns along their journey. My heroine, Jocelyn, flees the convent where she was receiving an education when she hears she is being forced to take her vows or marry an overbearing man. She disguises as a boy and tries to get home to see why she is being forced into what she feels is bondage. She faces dangers and complications on this journey, but finds a sweet blessing in getting to know the knight who saves her. She finds love. She finds someone she can trust in the end. Best of all, she finds she can trust God throughout her difficult journey.

Nothing in this post is new, but it’s something I like to remind myself every so often. Not only for my journey, but for my characters as well.

What kind of hardship or obstacles have you given your character in your current work-in-progress? Do they ever find the blessing in the midst of the problems?  What books have you read where the characters find blessing in the midst of hardship? Or what book’s character had the most hardships to endure?

Sherrinda is giving away an ecopy of Lord of Her Heart. Leave a comment and check out the WE on Saturday -- maybe it will be yours when it releases on May 14!!


Lord of Her Heart

He’s fighting for his future—she’s running for her life.

Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle 
because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to 
force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises 
herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth.

Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament 
and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on 
the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny 
lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. 
Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite 
of her conniving ways.

Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are 
determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only 
way either of them survives.

An Unexpected Journey
Sherrinda Ketchersid is a lover of stories with happily-ever-after endings. Whether set in the past or present, romance is what she writes and where her dreams reside. Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her preacher husband. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

Connect with Sherrinda:
BUY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q4R9L8Z/

Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis


Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis

Welcome to Villager Pat Jeanne Davis as she encourages us today in Seekerville!

It’s been ten years since I connected with Seekerville as an aspiring author. This month my debut historical novel When Valleys Bloom Again launched. Today as a new novelist, I’m delighted and honored to be here and to see another dream come true. Over the years, I’ve learned much from the teaching, sisterly encouragement and your steadfast examples. Truth be told, there were days I wanted to finally abandon my dream of being a published author. Then I’d check in with the Seekers and the topic under discussion spoke to my need in that moment. All this to say “thank you” for the instruction and encouragement you’ve given.

What I’ve  learned while on the path to publication?

All aspects of my life are to be placed before a loving Heavenly Father who holds me and His promises are sure. He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I remind myself that I’m a work in progress. This writing experience is also part of my walk of faith and that, too, requires patience, perseverance and prayer. That with God’s help and guidance it’s never too late to follow your dream.

Do you, too, yearn to obtain a heartfelt goal? Do you cherish a life-long dream—one that you’re convinced God placed in your heart—that seems impossible?

Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis

Be Patient.

If that dream is to be an author, the journey toward publication may take a long time. I know first hand the disappointment when a positive answer you hoped to get on your work is not the one you receive. When the goal you’ve set for yourself seems unobtainable. Remember our chief goal is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We’re in sync with God’s perfect timing when we ask Him to direct our path.

Be Persistent

I’ve been listening to a book on Louis Pasteur, a believing scientist and the founder of modern medicine. He never gave up in his quest to discover what caused food and wine to spoil. If he had, we would not be benefiting from his discovery of what has come to be called pasteurization. How many lives have been spared and other lives made more bearable through the dogged persistence of scientists and inventors. Is there an author whose words have impacted your life? As a writer, your words can broaden your reader’s horizons or they may touch your reader’s heart and mind and greatly impact their life for good.

Be Purposeful

In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine, Abby, speaks with a stammer. She loves children and dreams of becoming a teacher. She does exercises to overcome her speech impediment and attends college to receive the instruction necessary to qualify as a teacher. Whether we want to be a scientist, a teacher or a writer, we need training. A new writer must learn the craft through taking courses, studying the work of other writers, attending conferences, getting feedback from writing contests, having her work critiqued and through critiquing the work of others. While waiting for “the call” from an agent or editor, work on another novel, or write an article or short stories.

Be Prepared

When an opportunity to submit your writing comes your way, be ready. And be prepared to face rejection of your work and not become discouraged and continue to submit elsewhere. I’ve come to appreciate even more the wisdom in not having high expectations but to keep the feeling of anticipation nonetheless.

Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis


Be Participating

Work with an editor and take direction when given. You may cringe when told to rework a paragraph or get rid of a sentence or scene. Your editor is only helping your work to shine and you to become a better writer. I’m thankful for the numerous critiques from editors and other writers. Wherever possible try to reciprocate.

Be Praying

When your dreams are yet unrealized and you’re tempted to despair, pray for patient perseverance while you wait on His perfect timing. Share you dream with close family and friends and let them cheer you on. In my novel, Abby confides in her beloved Uncle Will when she begins to doubt. He reassures her, “You’ll make a fine teacher. Remember that determination is half the battle.” He patted her hand. “The other half is jolly hard work.”

Be Praising

We should praise Him for His unfailing promises. When we believe in God we have the certainty that what He has promised is true, has occurred, and will happen in accordance with His Word. We also can praise God for His plan, purpose, protection, power and His peace.

My prayer is that after you have done all that is required to achieve your dream, you may experience a renewed perspective and that you keep anticipation alive.

Do you have a dream that you’re pursuing? What are you doing to realize that dream?


Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?


Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?



Giveaway! Pat is giving away one print copy of When Valleys Bloom Again to one US resident. Please comment for a chance to win.


Keep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne Davis
PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. She is a volunteer in the nursery at the church she attends and at the local chapter of MOP’s. 


Pat published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in mid-twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter here www.patjeannedavis.com





Now let's give Pat some love and celebrate the release of her debut novel:

When Valleys Bloom Again

Congratulations, Pat!

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

By Guest Cynthia Herron

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)


Hi Seekerville friends!
I’m delighted to join you today! And guess what? I recently sailed off Unpubbed Island! Today I join you as a published author. *tosses confetti* Hooray!
There are so many things I’d love to chat about—lessons learned, wisdom gleaned—that sort of thing, but in planning this blog post, something I continued circling back to was time management.
It’s a discipline we grow into. Baby writers write and chase squirrels. Savvy writers write while others chase squirrels. Veteran authors fry those squirrels and serve them to their readers—in the form of “story.” Stay with me, friends! It’s just an analogy to illustrate my point—although, fried squirrel isn’t terrible. Oops! See what I did there. 😉

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)
via Kylli Kittus on Unsplash

Reality check.
Writing is a full-time job. For those who work outside the home and write, they have double the fun…er, responsibility. If that’s you, you have my deepest respect.
Although it wasn’t always the case, writing is now my full-time job. After my husband heads out the door for work each morning, I tuck myself away in my home office, slug back coffee, and start my own workday. 
And yet…when writers work from home, distractions abound.
We care for families and homes, chauffeur kids, tackle laundry, prepare meals, and handle the day-to-day affairs that go with the territory.
We also field infringements on our time from outside sources. Those come by way of well-intentioned friends and family who may not realize that while we’re home, we are indeed still working. We’re writing. Yes—that.
And though we are home, our time still matters.

But how do we manage our time…and still be nice?
The truth is if we don’t value our time and treat writing as our career, no one else will either.
Prioritizing our work load isn’t something that always comes naturally. We must be intentional, focused, and goal-oriented. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be some leeway involved.
Life ebbs and flows. Of course, there’s bound to be those unforeseen things that crop up and upend our schedule. We know we have a problem, though, when we begin to see a pattern—when we allow those things that could wait to hijack our day.
For people-pleasers, time management is difficult. We want to be approachable (and available), yet we also understand the rigors of working from home. We have X number of hours during the day to get our work done before our families arrive home and our evening routine begins.
Sometimes, we think we can juggle it all and we have to learn the hard way that we can’t.
Writing is our job. Maybe we don’t yet earn the income from it we’d like. Maybe we’re still pursuing career goals. Maybe we’re still wrangling a few squirrels.

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)
via Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Does that mean our work is less meaningful?
Many years ago, Sally Sue (not her real name) used to call me—usually more than once a day. I dreaded answering the phone because I knew what was coming.
“Hey, gal. Whatcha doin’? There’s a great meat sale down at the market. Of course, they tried to cheat me out of some deals, but I got everything worked out. Let me tell you about it.”
As usual, I tried the polite approach. “I’m working just now, Sally Sue. Can I call you back when I take a break later?”
“Oh, this will only take a minute. Five, tops.”
What do you think happened? Well, of course those just take a minute/five, tops phone calls morphed into thirty-minute commentaries.
And Sally Sue was always in a tizzy. Nothing ever went right. The world was against her. 
Her calls left me resentful and deflated. For this see-the-glass-half-full gal, I was thoroughly parched by the time the calls ended.
As much as I wanted to be there for Sally Sue, it became apparent I needed to distance myself from what had become a disturbing pattern.
Here’s how I handled it.
“Sally Sue, I won’t be available to talk as often,” I announced one day. Subtle hints hadn’t worked and neither had direct cues. It was time to cut to the chase. Tactfully. Truthfully. Lovingly. (Did I mention truthfully?)
“Oh, what do you mean?” The sound of an electric mixer whirred in the background.
I sighed and plunged ahead. “My time matters, Sally Sue. I work from home and when you call, that’s time away from work.”
“So, you want me to call in the evenings? I can do that.”
No.
That’s not what I wanted at all. Evenings were family time.
Long story short, I nipped this situation in the bud. I regretted not doing it sooner.
I told Sally Sue I could only take calls on Friday afternoons and I would no longer chat beyond the ten-minute mark.
And when she pushed the envelope, as I feared she would, I didn’t budge. I refused to answer her calls other than on Fridays, and when ten minutes passed, I ended the conversation. Politely, but firmly.
Her parting sentence was always: “Wow. I guess you’re serious. Your time really matters, huh?”
Yes. And yes.
I eventually lost touch with Sally Sue.
Fast-forward twenty years…
Since I’m a firm believer that God brings folks together for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, I recognize that period as a defining point in my writing career.
When I got serious about managing my time, I began to think in a new way. My craft (my work) no longer took a backseat to other “nobler” professions. I approached my job with a new mindset, having learned a valuable lesson in the process.
There will be times of sacrifice, but self-respect is non-negotiable.
For instance…
  • I may not always answer the phone.
  • I may not answer my door.
  • Dusting may have to wait, as well as clothes-folding, toilet-scrubbing, and errand-running.
And call me a “meanie,” BUT
  • I will no longer serve on every committee, join every club, or attend social functions for the sake of “putting in an appearance.”
  • I can’t walk your dog.
  • I don’t do laundry (other than my own).
  • I won’t organize your closets, clean your kitchen, or mow your lawn.
  • I know nothing about stamp-collecting, bee-keeping, or turnip-growing.
Now, I love folks. I really do. But because writing is my full-time profession, I find if I don’t value my time and my career, no one else will. 

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)
via Simon Hattinga Verschure on Unsplash

Sometimes, I have to say this.
“No, thank you” and “I’m sorry—I’d like to, but I’ll have to pass.”
Trust me, wordsmiths—you’ll get better at this. Some folks will understand. Others won’t. That’s when we love them anyway.
And then we silence our phones. Pound keys. Craft stories. And eat chocolate. 😊 
While we work.
Rah-rah-rah!!!
***
Have you navigated a time-management issue? How did you address it?
What are your best time-saving tips? Please share!
I’m giving away a print copy of Her Hope Discovered, my debut novel! Let me know in the comments if you’d like your name tossed in the hat! (Due to mailing costs, drawing open to U.S. residents only.) 
  
The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

Author Bio
Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. A hopeless romantic at heart, she enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her Hope Discovered, her début novel and the first in a three-book series, released December 2018 with Mountain Brook Ink. 

“Cindy” has a degree in psychology and a background in social work. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA. 

She is a 2017 ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2016 ACFW Genesis (Double) Finalist, and a 2015 ACFW First Impressions Winner. Her work is represented by WordServe Literary.

Besides writing, Cindy enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. She also adores a great cup of coffee and she never met a sticky note she didn’t like.
Cindy loves to connect with friends at her online homeShe also hangs out onTwitterFacebook,Pinterest, and Instagram.
For love, fun, and encouragement ~

***


The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

Her Hope Discovered
Welcome to Ruby, Book one
Is the sure thing worth risking for the possibility of maybe?

Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. 
Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents.
Nestled in the Ozarks’ hills and hollows is Ruby, Missouri, a quaint, cozy town where “neighbor” is merely another word for “friend.” Ruby will charm and delight as will her quirky, lovable characters who will steal your heart, but hand it right back—with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Savor your new friends’ sorrows and successes in the community where offbeat is perfect and mishaps and mayhem never tasted so good!




Learning Your Family's Stories with Guest Blogger Amanda WenGuest Blogger Ann BrodeurWriting--The Desire of Our HeartsStay in Faith by Guest Christy LaSheaWhat I’ve Learned about Writing from MoviesDon't Nickel-And-Dime This by guest blogger Kathleen D. BaileyAn Unexpected JourneyKeep Your Dream with Guest Pat Jeanne DavisThe One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

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