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Seekerville: The Journey Continues

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Job #1: They Got Books

Job #1: They Got Books


by Pam Hillman

I participated in a book fair this past weekend, and a good time was had by all. I hope to share more next month about my experience at A Page Away Book Fair, hopefully with thoughts from some of the other vendors who participated.

But there is one small snippet that fits today’s topic. Wifi and phone service in the venue was practically non-existent. So it was either cash, check, or accept credit/debit card payments offline and hope the payments went through later.

I chose to accept payments offline and took a few like that and they went through later when I was able to get reception. I took a chance, but I went in with my eyes wide open. If the cards were declined, I was prepared to just pray the books blessed the recipients.

It was a situation of THEY GOT BOOKS. I GOT MONEY. (I hoped.)

But where am I going with this? Let me back up for a minute.

The idea for this blog post came from setting up the software for the ACFW Bookstore to be held onsite at the ACFW Conference in St. Louis like IMMEDIATELY! (Seriously, it’s September 8-11th).

Job #1: They Got Books

As most of you are aware, I’m the ACFW Treasurer. This year when the bookstore ACFW partners with couldn’t make it due to other commitments, ACFW decided to go ahead with the bookstore anyway. I was slightly familiar with some software that caters exclusively to consignment sales, so started the learning curve for that software months ago.

My training for the bookstore staff has been intensive and one step at a time. The main thing in my view is to get to the point of scanning and selling books during the online book sale which spans a three-day weekend. It is imperative that the bookstore get that part RIGHT, making it seamless and a perfect experience for our customers.

In other words, THEY GET BOOKS. WE GET MONEY. (We hope.)

Everything that happens after that… reconciling remaining inventory, paying consignors, paying sales tax, etc. will come all in good time.

Going even farther BACK in time... Where did this “They Got Books…” mantra come from?

A LONG time ago, I was a fresh-faced kid out of college and working my new job at a furnace/heater manufacturer, a company I worked at for 28 years. It was small family run business that was just getting started and they were still preparing invoices by hand. Computer generated inventory, invoices, and bookkeeping was in the infant stages, but with a computer science degree under my belt, my dream was to take the company into the computer-driven age. (Which did happen eventually, btw.)

But when I started, everything was done by hand. Remember I said SMALL company, as in ONE other lady in the office. Her name was Yvette, and she became my mentor for many years. Not long after I started work, during the busiest season of the company, Yvette’s husband suddenly became very ill and had to be hospitalized. There was nothing for it but for her to go be by his side. I can’t remember how long she was out of the office, a few days, a week or so. Not more than that. Thankfully, her husband recovered and all was well on that front.

When she returned to the office and anxiously asked how things went, I plopped two stacks in front of her.

A stack of handwritten invoices.

A stack of deposit slips.

Then I said, “They got heaters and I got money. That’s all I know.”

(Anybody who knows me knows I got the money! lol)

But the thing is, I was pretty much telling the truth! I hadn’t been there long enough to be 100% sure that I had charged the customers for the right widget, gadget, or gidget. And since this was before the time of computers and you-can’t-mess-this-up item numbers where the customer could turn in a list (with the aforementioned you-can’t-mess-this-up item numbers) of what he wanted or the parts guy (there was no department… there was a guy named Jim) could give me a specific item number, sometimes I was left guessing.

But I knew our customers got what they wanted (always Job #1), and they gave me checks, which I promptly deposited in the bank (always Job #2). The rest would fall into place, and if it didn’t, we could figure it out and fix it later. Most of the sales I made were to distributors and dealers for the company so I was confident that any minor errors I made in invoicing could be corrected later. But some of them had driven hundreds of miles to pick up full truck loads of heaters and parts to take back to IL, TN, KY, ME (wherever) as winter approached. Job #1 (give the customer what he wants) had to be done, no matter what.

With the ACFW Bookstore, the Storyfest readers will get the books they love, and that’s Job #1. A happy customer is a repeat customer. The consignors will receive payment for their books they brought on consignment. (That’s Job #2). Everything else will fall into place, with good planning and a healthy dose of prayer.

Job #1: They Got Books

So what does this have to do with Seekerville? With writing? With reading? With life?

Sometimes you have a hill to climb. You know where the peak is. You have to know what JOB #1 is. In writing, that might be your deadline. Or it might be writing THE END (as the deadline goes swooshing by). With marketing, it might be getting your next newsletter out or writing you Seekerville blog on time. (Ahem.) There are multiple answers to this question, depending on how big or small your project is.

In my “other” life as a grandmother, Job #1 might be to be at my son and DIL’s house no later than 7:30 am on my days to keep their kids so that they can be out the door on time for work and to get the oldest to school on time. Nothing short of the stomach bug or the flu will interfere with THAT Job #1. Trust me!

There are millions of Job #1’s in our lives. Some are as simple as Be There at Seven! Some are much more complicated and involve many moving parts … as I’m finding with learning new software and training others … remotely, even!

So, for whatever project or life event you’re working on, whether it be short-term or long-term, find the Job #1 for that and work toward it with a vengeance, and everything else will fall into place.

What’s your Job #1 for today? Or even for a bigger project that’s looming?

More Hidden Treasures

More Hidden Treasures

Jaime Jo's post last week was so sweet, wasn't it? She shared some hidden treasures she found after her mother passed away. You can read that post HERE.

When I told her my dad had recently given me my own hidden treasure, she urged me insisted that I share it on my Seekerville post this month. "Sure!" I said. "That would be fun." (That may not be an exact quote.)

More Hidden Treasures

More Hidden Treasures


Unlike Jaime Jo's stellar works of fiction, my first book was non-fiction, done as a school assignment when I was in first grade. But the illustrations are priceless.

More Hidden Treasures

My name is Janet Tomlinson. I have four in my Family. 
I have a brother and a cat.

Other than spelling my last name wrong (it should be Tomlonson - I blame my teacher for the editing error) the story so far is pretty accurate. I wish I had included a picture of my cat.

In fact, this particular teacher stands out in my memory because of incidents like this one. I remember her insistence that my name should be spelled with an "I" rather than an "O." I don't like being corrected, especially when I know the person trying to correct me is wrong!
(And yes, that's still one of my more irritating personality traits - but I've learned to go with the flow unless it's something important.)

Which brings me to the topic for this post. Reading this early story of mine reminded me of the people along the way who stand out in my memory. Some for being encouragers and some for being discouragers.

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Taylor, was a discourager. I never did anything creative in her class. My third grade teacher, Miss Shields, was also a discourager. 

So why did I continue to write stories? Because of the encouragers.

I still remember them vividly, even though it has been more than fifty years since I've seen them: My second grade teacher, Mrs. Griffith; fourth grade, Mrs. VanVorhees; fifth grade, Mrs. Harrington.

Mrs. Harrington stands out because she saw potential in me and let me read. And read. And read. While the other students had reading groups, I had all the books I wanted to read. And tons of book reports.
*sigh* The cost of reading at my own pace. :-)

And to this day, whenever I see a Chickadee, I think of Mrs. Harrington - they were her favorite bird.

More Hidden Treasures

More Hidden Treasures

But my mom was my best encourager. I don't remember anything specific that she said or did, but I knew she had my back, as busy as she was with her day job.

More Hidden Treasures

My mother teaches. She teaches fourth grade. 
Her children are bad sometimes.
 

My mom instilled a love of reading in me. She also taught me the value of being a homemaker, even though as a pastor's wife in a small church, her full-time homemaking only happened during the summer months.

More Hidden Treasures

More Hidden Treasures


When my mother started feeling the effects of Alzheimer's, she still cheered me on as I taught my children in our homeschool. We talked often about how I was using my college education - my degree is in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis - and I knew she hoped that someday I would turn back to writing.

And God's timing is perfect - several years before she passed away, and just before she finally slipped into the enclosed dream world of advanced Alzheimer's, I sold my first story. She understood and celebrated with me as I told her that my story would be published in Woman's World Magazine.

More Hidden Treasures


Mom never got to read any of my published works other than my first book, written when I was six. But she kept those pages - as unwieldy as they are - and moved them from Michigan to Kansas to Indiana. They were among the treasures she kept.

These days, my dad is my biggest cheerleader.

More Hidden Treasures

More Hidden Treasures


He has been known to hang out in the Christian Fiction section of his local library and waylay browsers. "If you like Amish fiction, you should try my daughter's books."

More Hidden Treasures


Like Jaime Jo said, my first book is a Hidden Treasure. A testament of a mother's love and encouragement and a father's continued belief in his daughter.

Who are the encouragers in your life? How have they influenced your writing?

PS - I didn't leave my husband and children off this list to slight them. On the contrary - their encouragement (especially my dear husband's) is off the charts. :-)


Leave a comment to be in the drawing for an e-book copy of my next release, "The Case of the Artist's Mistake!" Due to be released September 14, 2022!

In this second Sweetbrier Inn Mystery, Emma discovers a local artist dead in her art gallery. Deputy Cal is convinced she died from natural causes, but he hasn't convinced Emma.

More details to follow in coming weeks!


Beyond Blessed

by Mindy Obenhaus

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Right now, I'm staring down the barrels of two deadlines, a blessing for sure. But just when I thought I was on track to finish ahead of schedule, life happened. Family came to visit. A granddaughter who wasn't supposed to give birth until after those deadlines develops preeclampsia and the doctor decides they have to induce NOW. So, we made the four-hour drive and waited out the twenty-four-plus hour labor so we could be there to greet our first great-grandchild.

Beyond Blessed

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

As an only child, the desire of my heart was to be part of a large family. As a writer, the desire of my heart is to write stories that touch readers' hearts with biblical truths. 
Beyond Blessed

Beyond Blessed
These images bring me to tears. I don't know why God chose to give me the desires of my heart. I certainly don't deserve them. So, I can't help but praise Him for the blessings He's bestowed upon me and live keenly aware that they could also be taken away from me at any time. 

I'm back at my desk now, a good night's sleep behind me, working hard to meet those deadlines. Will it be a challenge? Yes. Can I do it in my own strength? No. But I know that with God nothing is impossible. So, I will trust in Him, knowing that while He may not be early, He's never late. 

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Beyond Blessed

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

It's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny Day

It's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny Day


When the sun goes down on my side of town

That lonesome feeling comes to my door

And the whole world turns blue


Oh, wait, wrong topic, wrong song, wrong everything. Sigh.

Seriously, I heard that country-sad-song yesterday and when I looked out the window and saw the sun going down, and an empty screen staring back at me, it seemed to fit.

It's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny Day


Sigh.

What do you DO when all the ideas for your blog post just get up and walk out on you?

I really wanted to blog about the cool online class that Missy and I, along with THOUSANDS of others took, this past week: Bryan Cohen’s Author Ad Challenge, which is an introductory class to setting up advertising on Amazon. 

It's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny Day


It’s INTENSE and takes about 1-2 hours a day to keep up. And, did I say that it was free, or at least the week-long challenge is. Bryan and his team offer a much more intense program of coaching, teaching and “hand-holding” for a fee called Amazon Ad School (I believe that’s the correct term), but the free training was more than enough to help me get started.

However, I didn’t want to give away information that Bryan and his team have done tons of leg-work on. And what’s the point of blogging about it if I can’t give Seekerville readers a small taste of how Amazon ads work? The good news is that the Amazon Ad Challenge will be offered again in April 13th, so if anyone wants to take the class, you’ll be able to then.


Now if you lose your one and only 

There's always room here for the lonely


So, one topic down. Then I planned to blog about past (as in LONG past) contest entries where I would find snippets of what judges had to say about what was wrong (or right) about a passage from a contest entry, then show the various stages those passages went through before they made it into publication, but that was also a no go. I couldn’t find much in what I kept from 10, 15, and, yes, TWENTY years ago, to be helpful.

It's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny Day


And, let’s be honest. Do I really want to go back all those years and be reminded of how bad some passages were way back in the beginning? And, would I want to share them with you? Probably not.


To watch your broken dreams

Dance in and out of the beams

Of a neon moon


Yeah, let’s just say that it’s best that blog post left me, too! lol

So, here we are, singing a sad song and looking BACKWARDS at lost love (blog posts and horrible writing) and broken dreams … 


Whoa!!!!!

Wrong topic! Wrong Story!

WRONG EVERYTHING AGAIN!!


Let’s turn this train around, folks. Right here… I mean RIGHT HERE, I stopped working on my blog post and read Cate’s post from Wednesday. Why would I feel the urge to do that? In some ways, she already said what I'm saying again today, but I think we're both trying to hammer a point home, without even knowing that the other one was on this same track. Go back and read Cate's post here! What an encouragement!

Seriously, that neon moon song is a catchy tune, but if that gal's gone, she’s gone. Right? Right!

She -- meaning a blog post, that idea for a short story or a novel that packed up and left a long time ago, an submission opportunity I missed in 2020 because my head was stuck in the sand... or even staring (figuratively) at a neon moon… -- ain’t coming back. Let’s stop whining about it. Let’s stop going to the dark, smoky places that aren’t doing us any favors. Stop moping around mooning over that particular story, that particular area of our lives that we can’t fix, that we can’t bring back, that just isn’t working anymore.

And before anyone gets all up in arms, I’m NOT talking about torn relationships, sick family, fractured lives, financial woes, and burning the candle at both ends until you're burned out. I’m talking about writing for those of us who write. I'm talking about just holding on.

Turn on ALL the lights, brighten things up and write something big, beautiful and new. Create a NEW thing. Draw bright, sunny pictures with the kids or the grandkids. And if you don't have any kids in your circle, borrow somebody's for a day or volunteer in Sunday School or at a preschool for a day.

Put some brightness in your life and that neon moon will pale in comparison to the big, beautiful new sunrise you’ll wake up to tomorrow!!

I’ll leave you with this…

It's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny Day


It's gonna be a bright (bright)

Bright (bright) sunshiny day

It's gonna be a bright (bright)

Bright (bright) sunshiny day


Let's choose to live in a bright, sunshiny day, not under a "neon" moon.

A Surpise Post?????

 Good morning all! 

This not-so-surprising post is to remind you that this is a New Year.... Day 7! 

This is where you start pushing yourself to write something each day. 

No shirking.

No excuses.

But if you miss a day, the world will not nor should it end. That's up to God. Not authors.

So then you jump back on the bandwagon and you write.

A Surpise Post?????

Now if you LOVE WRITING this isn't a hard ship.

If you don't love writing then it's more of a job.

I am blessed to be of the former category, but I know a lot of successful authors who are of the latter ilk.

(I wanted to use the word "ilk")

The trick is, there is no trick. They just keep working.

So today is your reminder to pull up your big kid panties and let's get on with it.

"When I stand before God at the end of my days I want to be able to say 'I used everything you gave me'".        Erma Bombeck

Smart lady.

Good mantra.

Enjoy your Friday and please... join me at the keyboard because never have there been so many amazing opportunities for authors!

A Surpise Post?????

Bestselling, multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is loving what she's doing as she creates stories that make folks smile... and sometimes cry. She loves God (He's like her BFF, bestie and really good friend), her family, her country, dogs, puppies, chocolate, little kids and bigger kids, too. She's often seen with coffee. Email her at loganherne@gmail.com or follow her on Facebook. 


What Story Do You Need to Tell?

 

What Story Do You Need to Tell?

 Nearly every day for the past sixteen months, I’ve taken Sam for a two-mile walk.


What Story Do You Need to Tell?
Samwise the border collie

Early morning is our time – before six o’clock is my sweet spot in the summer, and after seven in the winter. I try to walk when most of the rest of the neighborhood is still at home and off the roads.

(Blame Sam. He thinks his job is to control all the cars on our road, and all the deer he can see. That herding instinct is strong!)

But even during this peaceful time, I’ll meet neighbors who are enjoying the same early morning routine as I am. And since we’re fairly new in our little community, some will strike up a conversation.

It usually goes like this:

Neighbor: “I’ve seen you walking your dog.”

Sam lays on the gravel road, waiting for a treat. Or a pat. Or anything.

Me: “He needs his road work every day.”

Neighbor: “You live down there?” (she points)

Me: “We bought Fred’s place and moved in a couple years ago.”

Everyone knows Fred.

Neighbor: “How is he doing?”

Me: “I haven’t heard, but I know he’s living in town now.”

Then comes the ultimate question…

Neighbor: “What do you and your husband do?”

Me: “My husband is retired and I’m an author.”

And then the response…

Neighbor: “Oh.” She looks down the road. “Well, I had better finish my walk.”


I don’t need to ask my neighbor any more questions. I know where she lives – she waves when I walk by with Sam in the morning as she has coffee on her front porch. I know she and her husband leave together every morning at 7:10. I know she likes to feed the deer.

I also know she is not a reader.

 
Because if she WAS a reader, her response would have been something like…

“I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t know where to start.”

And the hopeful look. The questioning glance. After all, I’m an author. I must know the secret.

What Story Do You Need to Tell?
Jack the corgi

 Well, yes, I do know the secret. If you’ve been reading the Seekerville blog for very long, you know the secret, too.

Writing a book is work. Hard work. Work that demands perseverance and determination.

What Story Do You Need to Tell?
  

Sometimes, though, you meet that person who is challenged when you tell her that writing isn’t easy. She is enthusiastic about visiting the blogs I mention (including Seekerville,) and then follows through and actually looks up the blog.

I recently met a young woman on my walk who is house sitting for our neighbors (hi, Shana!) The next time she saw me she said she had stopped by to visit Seekerville.

That is the kind of person who may actually write a book and may actually finish it. And may actually have it published.

Because that kind of person won’t let anything stop her.

Her story will become her life. She’ll think about the next plot point while she’s cooking dinner. She’ll talk to her characters when no one else will listen to her. She’ll be surprised to see green grass in the yard in July because her story is set in the mountains in December.

She will stay up late into the night researching a quirky allergy her character has and rise early in the morning to write five hundred words before work.

Weather won’t stop her. A pandemic won’t stop her. A boat-load of zucchini in the garden will only delay her for a few hours. And a border collie puppy? No problem. The book will still be written.

What Story Do You Need to Tell?

 
Because when we have a story to tell, we have to tell it.

Is there a story you need to tell?

Whether you're a writer or a reader,
whether your story is written down or it's still in your head,
tell us a little bit about it in the comments,
(100 words or less – practice your “elevator pitch”) 
 and you’ll be entered to win a copy of “An Amish Christmas Kitchen.”

Because we all need a bit of Christmas in July!

(US only for paperback, e-copy wherever Amazon will send it.)


What Story Do You Need to Tell?
As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen.

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman's unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.



 

 

Indie Doesn't Mean You're Alone

 

Indie Doesn't Mean You're Alone

By Kathy Geary Anderson

One month ago today, I launched my first book baby into the world. Nine months before that (yes, I’m aware of the irony of that time frame) after lots of prayer, some prodding from my husband, as well as a couple of deep conversations with my agent, I made the decision to pursue indie publishing. COVID may have had a voice in that decision, but honestly, I’d been toying with the idea for some time.

One of the biggest reasons I was balking was the thought of having to do everything on my own. Taking on all those tasks and responsibilities alone seemed almost insurmountable. So much to do. So much to learn. Well, it’s ten months later, and guess what? The biggest lesson I learned throughout this whole process was indie publishing is by no means a solo endeavor.

If, like me, you are considering indie publishing, here are some of the people you’ll want on your team:

1.       The Experts. Very few people are experts at everything. If you decide to indie publish, you are taking on a lot of roles. Not only do you need to write your book, but you’ll also need to see that it’s edited, published and marketed well. Like a general contractor on a building project, be willing to hire experts for the jobs you don’t do well. And, even if you consider yourself a pretty good editor, don’t try to edit your own book. Find a good developmental editor. Then, find a copy editor and proofreader. The money spent on their services is well worth it. Don’t know any experts? Ask around. Look at the front matter of indie published books you admire. You’ll often find the names of editors and cover artists there. Then, do your research.  Professionals will usually have lists of references of other books they’ve edited or portfolios of covers they’ve created. Choose more than one name you’d like to work with and be prepared to be flexible with your publishing timeline because the best experts are also often the busiest.

2.       The Teachers. The writing community is one of the best communities I know for sharing knowledge. If you want to learn something, chances are you can find a blog, a YouTube video, or a writing community (like The Seekers) that will be glad to supply the answers. Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formulais one of the most comprehensive sites I know for the indie publisher. If the cost of his entire Self-Publishing 101 is too prohibitive, be aware he has plenty of podcasts and free resources as well. He also offers mini courses at much cheaper prices. Another gold mine of information is the blog at  Reedsy.com. Their easy-to-understand articles helped me wrangle MetaData, ISBNs and BISACS into manageable bites. Also, KDP University, IngramSpark Academyand Draft2Digital all provide tutorials to help navigate publication on their sites. With the wealth of information out there, you’ll be sure to find a teaching style that works best for you.

3.       The Encouragers. This group is a must for any writer, traditionally or indie pubbed. For me, many in this group are fellow authors--friends I’ve met at writers’ conferences, local writers’ groups, and online communities. Shortly after I made the decision to indie publish, God placed me in an online prayer group with a group of authors, the majority of which were all indie published. Their support has been invaluable, not only for the advice and direction they provide, but for their ability to pray me down off the ledge on those days when frustration and anxiety sought to get the better of me. Cultivate your author friendships, but also surround yourself with close friends and family members who, though they may not fully understand your writing journey, are willing and eager to celebrate each milestone you reach along the way. Celebrations are key.

Who are the most important team members in your publishing journey? Leave a comment below to be eligible for a drawing for a free signed print copy of The Trouble with Jenny. Also, drop by my website kathygearyanderson.com and sign up for my newsletter to receive a free prequel to Jenny’s story.

 A south-Texas transplant to the good life of Nebraska, Kathy Geary Anderson has a passion for story and all things historical. Over the years, she has been an English teacher, a newsletter and ad writer, and a stay-at-home mom. When she’s not reading or writing novels, she can be found cheering (far too loudly) for her favorite football team, traveling the country with her husband, or spending time with her adult children. Connect with her at www.kathygearyanderson.com.

 

Indie Doesn't Mean You're Alone
Click to Buy

She’s always getting into trouble. He’s always getting hurt.

At the turn of the 20th century, New York socialite Jenny Westraven is in trouble . . . again. An orphaned heiress from a large banking family, she’s expected to follow the rules of society and marry according to her wealth and status. But Jenny craves adventure and anything BUT the ordinary. So, when her guardian aunt and uncle return from a European vacation to find Jenny working as a typewriter girl in a Newark law office, they are appalled. Worse yet, they interrupt a kiss between her and her young boss Mr. “Ben” Bennett.

Jenny has been getting Ben in trouble since he was ten, so he’s secretly relieved when her guardians reject him as a suitor. He has other plans for his life, and they don’t include his troublesome childhood friend. When Jenny uses outrageous methods to reject the suitors her family does approve for her, her aunt and uncle decide to send her to her brother in Wyoming.

Then, a family tragedy takes Ben out west as well, and his path crosses with Jenny’s once again. As they work together to end an injustice, what was merely an attraction between them develops into something more. Unfortunately, Jenny’s involvement with another man comes between them and puts her in the worst trouble of her life.

Now Ben must decide whether to risk his heart to rescue her once again or cut his losses and let her go.

Hi, I’m Kathy—a south-Texas transplant to the good life of Nebraska with a passion for story and all things historical. A life-time ago, I earned a Master’s degree in education and over the years that followed have taught school, raised children and written a plethora of ads, newsletters, blogs and stories. Most recently, I retired from my longest, hardest, but most rewarding job as stay-at-home mom. Now an empty-nester, I’m diving full time into my dream of turning the stories in my head into novels. When I’m not reading or writing novels, you can probably find me cheering (far too loudly) for my favorite football team, striking out on traveling adventures with my husband, or spending time with my young adult children.

Kathy's Website

Find Kathy on Facebook

 

Those Flaming Arrows

Those Flaming Arrows

by Mindy Obenhaus

Ever felt as though you’re under attack? You know, going through life, kind of enjoying your comfortable little routine and then along comes something to throw you off balance. So you address that issue, then, before you know it, here comes another one. And then another, none of which are catastrophic, yet they keep bombarding you until suddenly all of those little things start to feel huge.

Yeah, that kinda sums up the last month for me. Not that I should be surprised. After all, Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.”

Well, that doesn’t make me want to jump up and down for joy, but the good news is that Jesus didn’t stop there. He went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Indeed He has. Yet while He’s called us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), I can easily spend more time whining than conquering.

Those Flaming Arrows

You’ve often heard it said here at Seekerville, “If He calls you, He will equip you.” Yes, we’re talking about writing, but the same holds true for every other aspect of our lives. So how do we deal with those flaming arrows when they take aim at us?

Faith.

Ephesians 6:16 NIV says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Yes, right there we see that God has equipped us. He’s given us a shield of faith to have at the ready. Except sometimes we leave our shield in the closet or tuck it under the bed. Even if it’s only in the corner of the room, it takes effort to walk over and pick up our shield.

The King James version is a little more direct. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Not take up but taking. As in always having it with you. And it doesn’t just say “in addition,” but “above all.” Hmm, Paul is really stepping on my toes now.

Those Flaming Arrows

So what is faith? Faith is confidence. Trust. In some ways, faith is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Unlike muscles, though, you can choose to have faith at any time. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or be part of an intensive Bible study or even quote scripture verses. You simply have to believe that God is bigger than whatever you’re facing and that, no matter the outcome, He is with you and will guide you through it.

Why am I sharing this today? Because my posts usually reflect something I’ve been struggling with since we last talked. And I know that somewhere out there one of you is facing the same battle. So sister, I’ve got your back. Let’s take up our bedazzled shields of faith (because let’s face it, why have a plain old shield when you can have a sparkly one?) and quench some fiery darts. 

And while we're at it, let's giveaway something. Giving and/or receiving always brightens my day. So how about this? Leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of my March release, A Brother's Promise, OR the 2-in-1 anthology with Her Colorado Cowboy. Your choice. US mailing addresses only, please.

Those Flaming Arrows
Those Flaming Arrows


Those Flaming Arrows

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

 

Ten Steps of the Successful Author

Okay, there is no mystery in this post, except the one I'm giving away two copies of!!!  My newest Guideposts Mystery from the Savannah Secrets collection "Patterns of Deception"!


Ten Steps of the Successful Author

No mystery to my advice, whatsoever.

None.

Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada.

There are, however, layers of potential success, so let's talk about those today because if you go into this business with a full heart and a gentle soul and wide-eyed dreams of becoming the next Karen Kingsbury, J.K. Rowling or John Grisham, you may succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

YAY! 

Or you may miss seventeen very important steps, trip yourself up, fall flat on your face, and crawl away, sobbing like a two-year-old.

But the difference lies in those seventeen steps! (There aren't really seventeen, there could be twelve or eleven or thirty-two, I used seventeen solely for the purpose of syncopation with the word 'steps'. A long, multi-syllable word sounds even better when paired with a short, snappy word. Can you tell I've been teaching fifth graders all year? And yes-- before you ask the obvious-- I am, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader.)

But let's get back to the steps. Did you know that steps, while a basic form of architecture, are not easily achieved via wood/saw/concrete/stones/etc.? 

Level steps are a simplified masterpiece of mathematics. If your angle for the step is slightly off, then the person going up or down feels that "tilt" and compensates. A good step is flat and requires no compensation. A good step needs to be weather-resistant. It needs clean lines, flat planes, and the same degree of "rise" (from step to step) to make it easy to climb and safe.

Listen up, Einstein! Your book has similar needs.

1. TELL ONE STORY (this was my first major mistake, thinking I was brilliant and all that and a bag of chips. You get the drift...) You can add a subplot or reflective story but it is very difficult to tell multiple stories in one book unless you're penning a book of short stories. Focus on the one story, like a spider focuses on the center of her web, then take avenues from that center. 

2. KEEP WRITING (Your first book is probably junk no matter how much it means to you. There are exceptions to this rule. But that's why they're called exceptions, because they are not the norm. Toughen up, finish the book, let some smart folks read it (other writers or contest judges, critique partners) and grow a firm skin because just like not every baby is the cutest (although every baby IS THE BEST EVER) not every book is good. 

3. WRITE MORE BOOKS.

4. TAKE GOOD ADVICE. (You will hear that not all advice about your book is good, and that's true. But having said that, if you have several people tell you it makes no sense for hero to do/say/act like this, then you haven't laid the groundwork for his actions. That's your bad, darlings, so go back and rewrite. If it isn't clear to the reader, it doesn't matter that you meant it to be clear... That means you have to edit/revise to make it clear and sometimes that means going back to page one and re-delineating your hero and/or heroine's reasons for living and/or being a jerk or a wimp or a whiner or a tough gal or whatever it is they are supposed to be. It all begins on page one.)

5. IGNORE SOME ADVICE  This comes with practice and paying attention. I avoid jerks. I ignore them. If someone is inherently negative (and they are as prevalent in publishing, Christian or otherwise, as they are in life) I avoid them and not all negative people appear to be openly negative. You can often recognize them for the excuses they make about, well, most things. Like forever. Decades. When confronted with that advice, it's a consider-the-source moment. And quietly recede. But recognizing these people sometimes takes work on your part. 

6. STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA  Social media is a total time-suck. It's up to you, of course, but if you waste your ninety minutes of writing time every day by cruising Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever, that was your choice to squander the time. Not for the good of mankind or your new career. Just... a waste pit of lost opportunity. Focus. Focus. Focus. Like a good fifth grader, you learn to allot your time, not put things off, and stay focused. The reason they teach this diligently in fifth grade is because:

       A. Kids are old enough to comprehend it at age ten.

       B. Kids are old enough to make a conscious choice and deal with consequences.

       C. Kids learn from their mistakes.

7. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY (Here's the dealbreaker for so many wannabe authors. They don't want the real responsibility of writing every day, of making up stories and typing them out, of revisions and edits and marketing and they slip away, sometimes not so quietly, blaming all kinds of folks for all kinds of things and you know what? That's okay... This business is sometimes wonderful and often brutal and there are people who do not long for your success so if you don't personally long for it enough to take the heat, then it's okay to leave the writing kitchen. I mean that. Sincerely.)

8. BE GRATEFUL FOR EVERY OPPORTUNITY GIVEN You may not love each opportunity the good Lord puts before you. You may not appreciate what editors have to say, the rewrites and revisions, the phone advice, or the revise and resubmit letters you might receive, but even if it's not what you envisioned, remember that if you're working with a publisher, they call the shots. They want what they want, not necessarily what you want to write. Build a base and stand by that base once built, but don't be afraid to branch out and deliver as requested. You might find out you're not the know-it-all you thought you were. You might-- gasp-- learn something! :) And learning is good.

9. GET UP.  One thing I know about this business and about life is that you will get knocked down. You may want to pout or whine or cry, and that's okay, but let's do the Eleanor Roosevelt thing, okay? Let's go into the bathroom, run the water, and gnash our teeth in there because whiny authors are a pain in the neck... although they are out there and a meany-pants like me just sighs and moves on and refuses (mostly) to engage in their drivel and I will tell you why: because they choose to be that way. You can choose to be that way, too. Or you can pull up your big girl panties, get back on the bike and learn to ride without training wheels because that's what the big kids do... and they don't gnash their terrible teeth, and show their terrible claws and roll their terrible yellow eyes without blinking once in public. Because. Gosh. That's dumb.) 

10. BE GRATEFUL. EVERY SINGLE STINKIN' DAY

CAVEAT: This is the expected Ruthy rant about respecting your country, taking time to appreciate not only your God-given gifts, but each little and big opportunity that comes your way every day. If you woke up? NEW OPPORTUNITIES AWAIT. It's up to you. Consider this your warning that the rant ensues below.

You're welcome! :)

Gratitude should be a no-brainer. 

Unfortunately that is not the current truth.

I look around this great country and I am constantly amazed by whining, lack of industry, laziness, lowered expectations and so many things that seem to fill mainstream media 24/7 today. I look at stories written and I may know that some of that story is actually untrue, but the story is written, edited and published as is because it follows a chosen narrative.... And lately that narrative is to mock, scourge, deride and besmirch our country, the kind of thing that is encouraged when often rich and power-hungry people want things to eventually tip in their favor. Encouraging discouragement in a populace is a very real maneuver, and golly gee whillikers, folks, what have we got to be discouraged about? Depending on your bar of measure, here's my take:

Not much.

We have more material goods than is good for us. We are blessed with opportunity, jobs, income, health and amazing health care, but still we yearn.

Well, we're silly.

We should be like Mary, following that cross. Not whining. Standing strong for the faith we share and the life we have. Standing firm in faith, together.

My "bleeds red/white and blue heart" loves being patriotic. I love this country, this land of opportunity, the options, the choices, the chances we're given to be our best so understandably I cringe when folks go out of their way to bring it down because if you've read history (not Cliff notes, darlings) then you can see the parallels of creating dissent for no other reason than dissent itself and how it affects a nation.

So be grateful. If not for yourself, then your grandparents or great-grandparents who risked life and limb for freedom, not to have it squandered two generations later... but to secure your freedom.

From that spirit of gratitude may come great words! 

Or maybe not.

But at the end of the day you won't feel like a jerk, you'll probably be nicer and maybe less whiny and that right there is a blessing to others. :)

So we bless them by appreciating our blessings. And that's a win for everyone! 

Ten Steps of the Successful Author

Leave a comment below about pretty much anything and I'll enter your name into the drawing for one of these absolutely wonderful mysteries! 

Ten Steps of the Successful Author

Multi-published, award-winning and really bossy author Ruth Logan Herne loves chatting up writing with all kinds of folks. She also loves God, her family, country, she bleeds red/white/blue and has been known to say the Pledge of Allegiance on the spur of the moment... and she thinks God is the coolest of the cool.


Friend her on Facebook, email her at loganherne@gmail.com or stop by her website ruthloganherne.com... she'd love to get to know you when she's not growing pumpkins, making wreaths and running a very busy and fun pumpkin farm!


Facing Turmoil? Write!


I don’t have to tell you that we are in the midst of a tumultuous time. The last eleven months have been anywhere from disruptive to horrendous, depending on where you live.

But depending on how old you are, this isn’t your first go-round with pandemics and political turmoil.

Today, January 18, 2021, is Martin Luther King Day. 


His rise to public prominence, his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” and his shocking assassination all took place during the 1960’s – a time of political turmoil.

Just think of the nation-shattering events that took place during that decade –

Wait, let’s narrow this down to one year: 1968.

On January 23, North Korea seized the USS Pueblo, initiating an eleven-month standoff between the US and North Korea

On January 30, the Tet Offensive was launched (part of the Vietnam War) and continued into September.

On April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, sparking riots in more than one hundred cities across the country.

In April, student protests at Columbia University in New York sparked similar campus protests across the country.

On June 4, Robert Kennedy (John F. Kennedy’s brother) was shot in Los Angeles while campaigning for president.

On August 28, anti-war protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago turned violent, now known as the Chicago Riots.


It was a year filled with violence, division, and hatred. It was the capstone of the 60’s – a decade that changed America. 

What other events shaped that decade? Sputnik, the Cuban Missile crisis, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the US involvement in the Vietnam War exploded, Woodstock happened in the midst of the 1969 “Hong Kong Flu” pandemic, Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 sparking riots in Los Angeles that left more than thirty people dead, and John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Is this beginning to sound familiar?


We aren’t the first generation of writers to be telling our stories in the midst of great upheaval and change – or even a pandemic.

Here is a smattering of the books that were published during the tumultuous 1960’s (there were hundreds):

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Do you see my point?

Writers write. In spite of what is going on outside their writing cave. 


So, have the events of the past eleven months affected your writing life?

Have you spent days staring at your computer, feeling unable to put two words together?

Do you feel like the well of ideas has gone dry?

I’m not surprised if you said yes to every one of these! 


Writing is hard (as if I have to tell you that!) 

My theory (completely untested and based only on my own observations) is that our bodies and brains can only handle one major project at a time. So, while we’re being distracted by pandemics and politics, our minds are looking at our work-in-progress and saying, “I can’t handle that right now.”

What is a writer to do?

Well, we could ignore the news.

Or we could unplug from everyone or anything.

But neither of those are realistic. 

Writers write, remember?

Maybe this is the time to put all that “fight or flight” energy into putting our reaction to the world’s events into our stories.

When historical romance wasn’t working for me back in April, I started writing a cozy mystery. Believe me, thinking and plotting how my bad guy is going to meet his doom (in the form of police handcuffs) is a great outlet for my 2020 emotional roller coaster!

Or when I need a break from my cozy, I go back to my historical romance. There is nothing like escaping to the Old West where the deer and the antelope play. Living in another world for a while is a great way to handle the 2020 stress.

Still don’t feel like you can write? I’m sure authors sixty years ago felt the same way.

But think of this: Where would our culture be without the books I listed above? There would never be an offer we couldn’t refuse, Scout would only exist in Harper Lee’s imagination, and Sam I Am would still be trying to get someone – anyone – to try green eggs and ham.

Where will our culture be if you never wrote the story God has laid on your heart? 



The comments are open and waiting for you! Have you had trouble writing during the past year? Or has it been a year of great inspiration and productivity for you?

Where do you see your writing going in 2021?

One commenter will win an audio copy of "The Sound of Distant Thunder," book one in The Amish of Weaver's Creek series!




 

 

 


Job #1: They Got BooksMore Hidden TreasuresBeyond BlessedIt's Gonna be a Bright (Bright) Sunshiny DayA Surpise Post?????What Story Do You Need to Tell?Indie Doesn't Mean You're AloneThose Flaming ArrowsTen Steps of the Successful Author Facing Turmoil? Write!

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