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Hope by Guest Jill Lynn

Hope by Guest Jill Lynn

 by Jill Lynn

Sometimes I pick a word for the year. I haven’t in the last couple of years, but when 2022 rolled around, the word HOPE came with it for me. I wanted that word and the meaning behind it to be present in my life, so I latched on.

But then…2022 did not start easy for us. I’d planned to come out of the gate full of hope and ready for new things, for setting and meeting goals, for success. Instead, numerous things derailed those attempts. It felt like every time I turned around, something new was slapping at me like those scrubbers attacking my vehicle when I run it through the automatic wash.

I kept trying to stay afloat—to trust and hope—and I kept failing. I don’t know about you, but once I begin to fail, the slope is slippery. I can inch toward depression quite easily, and that is what I feared was happening.

But then one morning I opened my Jesus Calling devotional, and in the very week where my struggle had become huge, I read these words: Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help.

Hope in Me, and you will be protected from depression and self-pity.

Those last two words—depression and self-pity—were what had been weighing me down. It had felt like having a boat anchor tied to my waste and with every step, I had to drag it around behind me.

How could God—infinite and quite busy with all that’s going on in the world—have known that I’d read those words on exactly that day? I wasn’t even on the correct day of the devotional. (I never am!)

It impacted me so much that what I was going through was exactly what God was speaking to me about.

The end of the devotion reads: Heaviness is not of My kingdom. Cling to hope, and My rays of Light will reach you through the darkness.

I love the imagery of light and dark, heavy and light.

Hope by Guest Jill Lynn

I love that God cares about us so much that He’s constantly sending us messages and reminders of His love.

Sometimes it feels scary to hope. Does anyone else experience this? Like it’s easier to stay in the trenches and work hard and not expect too much…because expectations can be followed by such disappointments. As I was hanging up the phone with my parents the other day, we were talking about something important but not life and death. Something big but not overly huge. And my dad said: We’ll just pray for a miracle.

It made me pause. Aren’t miracles reserved for the big things? Should we “waste” a request for a miracle on the thing we’d been talking about?

And then I realized that HOPE says there are enough miracles to go around. Enough miracles for the big and the small things. What an amazing thought!

Ever since my dad’s comment, I’ve been praying for miracles. Wildly, without abandon. Without picking and choosing what to use my “miracle requests” on. It is so freeing. It is so full of HOPE.

How amazing to think that a devotional and an offhand comment can come together like that to remind me that not only is it okay to hope, it’s okay to hope about all the things all the time!

This month I’m celebrating my tenth Love Inspired book being in stores. It is also a story of HOPE: A man who believes he’s broken and not enough. A woman who is working so hard to honor her late brother that she’s losing herself along the way. A teenage boy who has lost his father and is seeking to fill the void. And a dog who’s ready to assist…as long as that assistance is accepted. One might even say a miracle takes place in the story. 😊 One of those middle-of-the-pack miracles that doesn’t register as life or death but that does register as life-changing.

Hope by Guest Jill Lynn

If you happen to grab a copy of The Veteran’s Vow, I hope you enjoy it. 😉 Thanks for letting me be here today. It’s always a pleasure to stop by Seekerville!

Jill Lynn

Jill is giving away a copy of The Veteran's Vow. Simply leave a comment to be entered. (US mailing addresses only, please)

Hope by Guest Jill Lynn

A little about The Veteran’s Vow: When service dog charity head Ellery Watson learns that Behr Delgado suffers from war-induced trauma regarding dogs, she determines to heal that trauma with the one dog who can change his world and assist with his physical disabilities. But she never expects that Behr's assistance with her nephew and impact on her life will heal her in return.

Get your copy here!


Hope by Guest Jill Lynn
Jill pens stories filled with humor, faith and happily-ever-afters. She’s an ACFW Carol Award-winning author and has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. An avid fan of thrift stores, summer and coffee, she lives in Colorado with her husband and two children, who make her laugh on a daily basis. Connect with her at Jill-Lynn.com or via her social media outlets.

https://www.instagram.com/jilllynnauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/JillLynnAuthor/

https://twitter.com/JillLynnAuthor

https://www.pinterest.com/JillLynnAuthor

 

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!

Winnie here. Today it's my pleasure to host  Naomi Craig here at Seekerville. She's going to be discussing how to use Canva to give your graphics a consistent feel regardless of platform. So Naomi, take it away! 

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!

You know when you are scrolling through social media and you know who posted that image? You scroll up and sure enough, the name on the profile is exactly who you thought. How do we know that? Because the poster has consistent images. A similar feel to their account.

 

I’m going to share some ways you can apply that consistency to your account using Canva. To get started you will need a (free) account with Canva.com

I really like Canva’s ease-of-use.  It has a very intuitive Drag-and-drop system that makes it easy to use, even if you have no graphic creating experience. I promise.

 

Consistent Colors

Alright, now that you have Canva opened up, open up another tab and take a screen shot of your website. (Windows: hold down Windows button and “prt sc” at the same time/ Mac Command +Shift +3)

Now open up a new tab for Canva

Select a template of your most commonly used social (IG FB Twitter etc.)

Upload the screen shot (look for it in pictures->screenshots)

Drag it into the template

Click the background-- You will know it is selected with a blue highlight. Select the Rainbow pallet up in the upper left. Now you can see that it is already interpreting you color scheme in Photo Colors! When you hover over a color that you like, a 6-character symbol shows up. Write it down on a sticky! Write down the text you use too! Then you don’t have to eyeball it next time.  Keep pulling different parts of the colors that you already have going for your brand. I have 6 different base colors that rotate between. This keeps it easy for you to just swap out your current graphic on the base

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!


 

Video

Video is the hot thing in marketing. And you know you need to transition to doing more. I know you know.

I know, I know. How are you supposed to get comfortable in front of camera? The majority of us writers are an introverted lot.

Until you get comfortable with getting your face on camera (yes you really should) I have some tips to help you out on Canva.

Target watch time is 15 seconds.

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!


 Make it easy on yourself to start. Duplicate the image and remove or shift a layer

To duplicate the page, click the Double box with the + sign.

You can see I did that for 5 slides.

Another non face video is a fast speed aesthetic of what the book is about. You can download free pictures from Unsplash dot com (Canva has some in their library, but not as extensive) This I used about 21 slides, and set them at a much faster timing.

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!


 

Adjusting the timing

Once you have several slides in one project you should see a clock in the top left corner. You will need to change the timing of each slide individually. The standard time Canva gives you is 5 seconds. Again, your goal for watch time is 15 seconds.

Name it!

Super important. Naming it here will be the difference between using it or losing it (which is ok, you can always find it again on Canva and download again)

Download

When you click on the download button, it will give you several options. For video you want mp4 video.

If you are saving a static graphic, either jpg (compressed, small file) or png (higher quality).

Select the page number. If you are saving as a mp4 video, you will want all the images selected.

If you are saving as a static (yet you have several slides up) make sure to check only the one you are planning to use. Otherwise, it downloads the whole file as a zip. File and gets a little bit harder to navigate.

**Important note. This will save on your computer in the “Download” file. This is where naming it something memorable will come into play😊

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!



The project will also save to your Canva home page. This is a super awesome feature (again, all I use is the free version). This way you can go back to previous projects and update them. Do you have a template for book reviews? Just replace the book cover and maybe switch out for one of your other colors from your custom color palette. Easy peasy. And reusable! Win win!

Other Cool Features

I really like the drag and drop features canva offers. You can even be on amazon, right click your book cover click “copy image”, open up your canva tab and paste it “ctrl V”. Then it actually saves in your upload library.

You can also do all kinds of fun graphics by animating your text and/or your graphic.

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!


 Author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, pastor's wife, Naomi loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church or trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes, you'll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts #BehindTheStory, a Christian author interview show on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts. When not writing and trying to wrangle social media, Naomi is trying to get her rescue dog to be cute on command for Instagram reels. You can check out Naomi's website at https://naomicraig.com

 

 I know this is a whirlwind of information. How do you feel your graphics could use a boost?  

 

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!

Naomi will be giving away a digital copy of Rahab’s Courage to one of our commenters


                               RAHAB'S  COURAGE

Welcome Guest Blogger Naomi Craig!
A scarlet cord tethers one ruined woman to the salvation of mankind.

Harboring two fugitives in a city slated for destruction, Rahab has one small chance of escape. In exchange for their safety, she bargains for her own. Their agreement rewards her courage, and she flees Jericho and a life of prostitution for a new life among the people of Israel. Never again will she have to depend on anyone—especially men.

Except Salmah won’t take the hint.

High ranking soldier and leader of the tribe of Judah, Salmah is determined not to repeat his parents’ mistakes. He will keep the Lord’s commandments. Rahab’s growing faith fits right in with phase one of his plans: find a wife who loves the Lord and settle down in the new land.

Rahab finds shelter and meaning in the Lord’s ways until her past comes back to haunt her. As her new faith is put to test, she finds herself alone. Isn’t that what she’d always wanted?

With her courage waning, only the Lord can turn Rahab’s life around again, but will He do it before she loses everyone and everything that really matters to her—to her heart?

To learn more or purchase a copy, click HERE  

 

 

 


You Survived Your Book Launch. Now What?

 You Survived Your Book Launch. Now What?

by Jill Kemerer

It’s been five weeks since your book released. The months leading up to it were exciting and, yes, chaotic. You did whatever you could to get the word about that bad boy out there. You poured time and energy into making the launch as impactful as possible, and yet, you wonder was it enough? Reviews trickle in—some good, some not-so-good. You can’t seem to shake this deflated feeling.

Everyone’s moved on from your book. Everyone except you.

Now you’re sitting on your couch, sipping tea, trying to figure out what to do next. You mentally tick through what you should be doing.

Writing, duh. But the thought of getting back into that manuscript sends a cold shiver down your spine. You have forty-three pages written.

They are not good pages.

The urge to post on your social media sites hits you strong. You need to stay relevant, right? But what would you even post about? You’ve spent so much time and effort promoting the book, it feels weird to go back to normal.

Maybe that’s the problem. You don’t want to go back to normal. Can’t every day be launch day? Can’t every day be special and exciting and full of celebrating a book you wrote?

Unfortunately, no.

You wish there was some way to check your numbers. Or, if you self-published the book, you check your numbers. All. The. Time.

Are my sales good? Bad? How do they compare to other authors in my genre?

You don’t know. You won’t know. You will never truly know how your sales compare to your peers.

Did I earn out my advance? What happens if I didn’t? Will this contract be my last?

Frowning, you take another sip of tea. And lunge for the nearby muffin.

Slowly it hits you that this is it. You’re back to the same you before you had a book launch to plan. You splashed in the happy waters of a book-release summer, then slid into the autumn of ongoing promotion, and now you’re staring down the writer’s winter.

Work lies ahead, and this winter is cold.

As you sit there, you force yourself to block all those pesky thoughts about sales. You ignore Facebook. And you breathe. A sense of relief tickles the edges of your funk. For it is a funk.

But it’s one that can end at any time.

After brushing off the muffin crumbs from your fingers, you finish your tea and turn on your laptop. You open a file containing that dreadful draft, all forty-three pages of it. For a moment, you close your eyes and say a prayer. Then you start to read.

It’s bad.

But ten pages in, you’re kind of digging it. You clean up a few paragraphs. Jot down some notes.

And there you have it. You’re writing again.

You start thinking ahead to when this book will release. Then you chuckle and shake your head. You have to write it first. And it hits you. This is the fun part, too.

Do you struggle with the feeling of letdown after a book release? How do you deal with it?

Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Jill's new release, The Prodigal's Holiday Hope (paperback for US, ebook for international)

You Survived Your Book Launch. Now What?

He’s learned from his mistakes…

But can he prove he’s changed?

 

When Sawyer Roth is hired to work on his childhood ranch, he knows he has a damaged reputation to repair. Tess Malone, the new ranch owner’s daughter, is the hardest to win over. But as Christmas approaches, Tess and her toddler son find a way into Sawyer’s heart. He lost everything the last time he put his trust in love. Can he risk it all again?

 

Click HERE for Purchase Links and More


 

You Survived Your Book Launch. Now What?

Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of heartwarming, emotional, small-town romance novels often featuring cowboys. Over half a million of her books have sold worldwide. Jill's essentials include coffee, caramels, a stack of books, her mini-doxie, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. For more information, visit her website,jillkemerer.com.

 

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Four Tips to Distancing Distractions to Get the Writing Done

Four Tips to Distancing Distractions to Get the Writing Done

by Lisa Jordan

I glanced at my calendar to see what today’s to-do list entailed. I saw I had a blog post due for Seekerville. I’d been pondering a topic, but nothing concrete had come to mind. I decided to work on something else and then I’d go back to the blog post.

As I began working on my characters’ backstories for my new novel, I sneezed, reached for a tissue, and realized I had grabbed the last one. So I broke down the box, tossed it in the recycling and went to retrieve a new box. But along the way, my dog needed to go outside, so I took her to the door. On the way back to get the box of tissues, I noticed an empty dish in the living room. I grabbed it and took it to the kitchen. I set it in the sink and realized I had started to brew a cup of tea but never finished it. I carried the reheated tea back to my writing chair and started to sit when my dog scratched at the door to come back inside. I let her in, gave her a treat, then refilled her water dish. On the way back from the kitchen I glanced at the few dishes in the sink and decided to put them in the dishwasher. But first I needed to empty it. As I emptied the dishwasher, a puddle of water from an upturned bowl spilled on the floor. So I grabbed a towel and wiped it up. I tossed the towel in the bathroom hamper and noticed my hair brush still on the counter. I put it away, then decided to give the bathroom a quick wipe-down. I returned to the kitchen, finished the dishwasher, and reloaded the few dirty dishes. I gave the counters a quick wipe, then headed back to my computer. I sat, grabbed my cup of tea, and then sneezed again.

I had forgotten to grab the fresh box of tissues.

Okay, I admit not all of my days go like this. I can be pretty linear with my to-do list—I focus on one job until it’s done. However, there are days when my mental train of thought would be a good plot for Laura Numeroff’s If You Give… series. And the same goes when it’s time to write. If I’m not focused on that day’s particular goal, I’m as distracted as Dug in Up.

So how’s a writer to distance himself or herself from distractions when the writing needs to get done?

Many of us who frequent Seekerville on a regular basis have multitudes of distractions every day. We have spouses, families, careers, additional day jobs, church responsibilities, pets, community engagements, and extracurricular activities to manage.

I’m the kind of person who needs to plan out my day. If I don’t, then I don’t have the right focus to get things done. I also like a routine, and that goes for my writing as well. I don’t thrive in chaos. So when life throws curveballs, I do try to be flexible by rolling with flare-ups need to be dealt with that day.

Four Tips to Distancing Distractions to Get the Writing Done

When I’m on deadline, though, I need focused time to get my writing done so I can submit on time. So here are my four tips for distancing distractions:

  1. Plan. Like I said, I’m a planner. I use My Book Therapy’s My Brilliant Writing Planner to map out my story goals, my monthly appointments, events, and deadlines. Then I break down my monthly goals into weekly to-dos. Each day, I write out a to-do list of what needs to be done. I begin with the top three important tasks, then I add in less important things such as housework and laundry. 
  2. Pray. Once I have an idea of what my week is going to be, I give it up to God and ask Him to order my time. I also ask for peace when I need to be flexible and not to stress when I don’t meet my writing goals for the day. Most of all, I want to stay centered in His will and use my time wisely. 
  3. Pause. When it’s time to write, I pause to reflect on what I had written the day before and where I need to take my characters on their story adventures. Then I pause notifications on email, social media, texting, and phone calls. My phone is set up to allow my family to notify me if it’s important. 
  4. Protect. In addition to being an author, I’m also the content manager for My Book Therapy’s online writing school, Novel Academy, so I don’t have all day to write. I’ve always worked an additional day job along with my writing, so I’ve had to protect my writing time. I try to write for two hours in the mornings when my brain is the freshest, then I can use the rest of the day for housework, appointments, and my day job. In order to get the words written, I need to protect that writing time. Sometimes that writing block does get interrupted, but I usually know in advance and can plan a separate writing block accordingly so I can still meet my word count.  

These habits, while not perfect, have helped me to establish the necessary boundaries and writing routine in order to grow my career.

Your Turn: What do you do to distance distractions so you can get words on the page. 

Mindy here. Lisa is giving away a copy of her new release, The Father He Deserves, to one lucky commenter (US mailing addresses only, please). 

Four Tips to Distancing Distractions to Get the Writing Done

A determined dad. A wary mother.

Making amends is never easy… Injured in a kayaking accident, champion Evan Holland returns home to train rescue dogs. But his unexpected partner is the woman he left behind, Natalie Bishop. And she has a secret: a son Evan never knew he had. Now Evan must prove he can be a real father. But earning Natalie’s trust back will take hope, forgiveness—and risking everything on forever…

Four Tips to Distancing Distractions to Get the Writing Done

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Cynthia Ruchti of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her latest book, The Father He Deserves, releases in July 2021. She is the content manager for Novel Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for over thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys quality family time and being creative with words, photos, fibers, and papers. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.

  

The Pigeon by Guest Chris Fabry

Hello, Seekerville!

Jan here, and I'm excited to introduce our guest, Chris Fabry.

I became familiar with Chris through his radio work, and then ten years ago I read his novel, Almost Heaven. He instantly became one of my favorite authors.

Chris has a new book releasing today, A Piece of the Moon. We'll get to the book in a few minutes, but first, it's time to hear from Chris!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The Pigeon by Guest Chris Fabry

The Pigeon

C. S. Lewis once said that his fiction sprang from pictures in his head and from those images he wrote his stories. The idea for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came from an image of a faun, an umbrella, and a lamppost in a snowy wood. There were other images, of course, but those were the seeds that eventually grew the seven books about the land of Narnia.

I’m a believer that such images can spur us toward sensory writing, meaning a story that makes you feel part of it from the first sentence. Those are the types of stories I aspire to write.

The spark for my novel A Piece of the Moon came from an image burned into my subconscious as a teenager. When I was sixteen or seventeen, I went to work for a local radio station a few miles from our home in West Virginia. The station sat on a little knoll that looked over a valley below with a river running through it. Behind the 5,000-watt daytime station was the antenna tower with a flashing red light and guy wires that held the tower secure. I would often wander outside at night and stare at the vista bathed in a ghostly moonglow.

The Pigeon by Guest Chris Fabry

Decades later, I was standing in the office of a junkyard in Tucson, Arizona, waiting for a check for my totaled Honda CR-V. I had been riding in the passenger side of that car when the accident happened and it had shaken me. I walked in a daze for a couple of weeks. But the visit to the junkyard became the unlikely location to discover the last piece of my literary puzzle.

The woman at the makeshift counter worked in searing heat with only a small window air conditioner behind her. She looked haggard and seemed perturbed at something, perhaps because she was surrounded by men all day. On the wooden counter in front of her were files, an aged computer, a calculator, and a pigeon that walked back and forth on the counter.

What was even more strange than the pigeon walking the counter was the fact that nobody in the room acted like it was strange in the least. I walked away with my meager check but never forgot that woman or her pet.

Fast-forward to the writing of A Piece of the Moon. I had the image of a pigeon hitting the guy wire and spiraling down into the bottomland where one of my main characters lives. She adopts the pigeon as a pet and from then on she is known as “Pidge.” As Pidge sees the wounded bird for the first time, she feels like she’s looking in a mirror. She can’t help but nurse the bird back to health and then hang on to it.

As I wrote what turned into a love story and a search for hidden treasure, I had that image of the bird flying in moonlight, the red light flashing on top of the tower, and a junkyard below that represented what many feel about themselves—they are castaway, wounded, junk.

These were the images that became seeds of what I hope is a story that sticks to your soul. So be careful not to dismiss the images that come into your mind and remain. If you’re diligent, you might find your own Narnia.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  

Thank you, Chris!

I was privileged to read an advance copy of A Piece of the Moon and I loved it. The book is full of twists and turns as the characters search for a hidden treasure in their own ways...a treasure that might or might not be real.

Set in the early-1980's with a West Virginia country radio station as the center of the characters’ lives, we are treated to a nostalgic look at the near past. Waite and TD, the main characters, work together at the radio station. On air, they speculate about the treasure and take calls from listeners. As the story progresses and searchers narrow in on the treasure’s location, mysterious events reveal that there may be more to this treasure than anyone has suspected.

Along the way, we see Waite’s heart for lost and broken people, and TD’s dreams for a life free from his past. Pidge, the Kid, the other DJ’s at the station, and a boy-happy dog all work to round out the community. We are also treated to a glimpse of a small-town radio station in a time gone by, born out of the author’s early life.

The story contains twists and turns that kept me reading far too late into the night, and the conclusion was on target, leaving me with a happy sigh.


Chris talked about images as the seeds for our stories - What images have you found that later became the seed for your story?



About the Author:

The Pigeon by Guest Chris Fabry

Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. A graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris's Website link

Read the first chapter of A Piece of the Moon!

 

 


Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories


by Guest Cynthia Herron

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories

 

Hi Seekerville friends ~ Great to join you again today! It’s been a while. 

Settle in. We’re hunkering down for the long haul. But stay with me! Pssst…There’s a giveaway at the end!

Since I last visited, I’ve had my fingers to the keyboard, meeting deadlines and writing books. Speaking of books, today I wanted to touch on something that a reader recently shared with me—I love your voice! You give me warm fuzzies through your word pictures!

Huh? I do? Well, thank you!

Sometimes, an author’s “voice” is hard to describe.

No kidding, right?

I never really thought that much about it when I jumped back into writing ten or so years ago. I established my tagline early—Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction—and I just kind of went from there.

I write in the same vein that’s uniquely me. I’m a simple, unpretentious Ozarks’ gal who grew up the hard way and learned at an early age the true importance of wealth. Not the material kind.

With that in mind, I pen heartwarming, second chance stories with complex, quirky, lovable characters. I blend nostalgia, simplicity, and homespun with twenty-first century reality.

Writing in our own voice isn’t imitating others. It’s staying true to our brand and who we are at our core. That doesn’t mean we put ourselves in a box or erect glass houses that limit us. 

When driven by passion and story, writers’ fictional worlds resuscitate lackluster reality. Our words (and worlds) infuse inspirational oxygen into ordinary life.

In other words, we take the mundane—normal day-to-day chores, work, and perhaps, the boring—and add the wow factor. That unique spin that’s intrinsic to us. (Our voice.)

But let’s dig deeper. 

Maybe it will help to describe “me” so you understand what I mean. In other words, let me share some insight into my“voice.”

Now you might guess that family is very important to me. So is my heritage and the region where I was born and raised. The Ozarks are where “my people” are. 

When we’re children, I don’t know that we can fully appreciate our roots. In fact, I’m sure we can’t.

Things like culture, heritage, family history, and geographic locale aren’t on our “live in the moment” radar.

Children live in the now.

A child’s world is immediacy. It’s Mama’s smile at breakfast. Daddy’s hug as he leaves for work. It’s macaroni and cheese, crayons and coloring books, and stinky socks on a summer day.

Little ones don’t think in terms of tomorrow. They understand the concrete—the tangible. The things that adults so often take for granted.

I once heard it said, “I loved being a child. Though I didn’t realize it then, those years were the best years of my life.

As I’ve matured, I understand that statement and I fully embrace it. (My experiences have given wings to my voice.)

In the present, I have a full and happy life. I know Jesus. I have a loving family, my health, and a beautiful home.

Despite this, life hasn’t always been fair, kind, or easy.

I’ve worked hard.

I’ve survived loss.

I’ve known heartache.

Just like you.

The learning curve’s been chock-full of twists and turns.

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories
 

I’ve grown from where I’ve been, and I’m thankful for the journey and how my roots and milestones influenced me and the stories I write. (Again, this is voice, friends.)

Let’s dig even deeper.

As a youngster, growing up in the Ozarks was an interesting mix of old and new. Life meandered along at a steady, but snail-like pace. Change in some areas arrived slowly, while in larger towns, transformation was more obvious.

I grew up in one of those smaller regions where “new” and “different” had to be mulled over and left to simmer for a while. A long while.

At the little elementary school I attended, most of us shared similar backgrounds and breeding. There was a rump roast sale on Fridays at our local market, and church on Sundays was the town norm. Our mamas and daddies were hard workers who knew the value of a dollar and waste was a foreign concept.

Where I lived, summer was less about boredom and more of an adventure. There was always a bike to ride, a fort to build, and cousins to visit.

We had a drug store that had a real soda fountain, a hardware store that sold everything from A to Z, and a department store that boasted bib overalls for the men, and dresses and aprons for the women. (Yes, it’s different now. But that was then.)

Each business establishment was locally owned and operated and closed on Sundays. Big box stores and shopping meccas hadn’t arrived yet and neither had the hustle and bustle of life in the fast lane.

In the Ozarks along the expanse of old Route 66, the hills and hollows were lush, green, and scented with honeysuckle. Folks who lived in the nearby, little niches were self-made, salt-of-the-earth, not-afraid-to-get-their-hands-dirty kind of people. They were passionate about God and country, family and friends.

Though I no longer live in the same town where I grew up, my little neck of the woods is still a subtle blend of yesteryear and today. Time has given way to progress, and our growth and change reflect this, but our culture is still unique and our heritage the same.

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories

Now, think about your past. Your present. Your future. Think about the lens with which you view life. Write your story from that perspective using your own voice, because your voice is the most powerful persuader.

In my recent release His Love Revealed, book two in the Welcome to Ruby series, I used my beloved Ozarks as the backdrop to introduce you to new friends in the region where no one is a stranger. 

There’s always room at the table for “just one more,” and to make you feel at home, we’ll even let you wash a dish or two. No need to wear your fancy duds. Just come as you are and limber up those arms for a big, ol’ bear hug! (COVID can’t last forever!)

Writers, please give us a sense of your voice. Please share what makes you “you.” Drop a snippet of your current WIP in the comments. We’d love to get to know you!

Readers, what draws you to an author’s voice? What great books have you read lately that define what you mean?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of His Love Revealed. (Due to postage, U.S. readers only.) 

 

*** 

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories

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. His Love Revealed, book two in the Welcome to Ruby series released October 2020.

“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 2020 Selah Award (Double) Finalist, 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 on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

For love, fun, and encouragement ~

Sign up for Cindy’s monthly e-NEWSLETTERS

 

9 Tips for Writing an Epic Novel by Guest Kathleen D. Bailey

  By Guest Kathleen D. Bailey

 

            Two distinct sets of villains. Two orphaned children. A man without a country and a woman with too much past. And a rambunctious young country where anything went, especially in the West. What could possibly go wrong?


            When I began drafting “Redemption’s Hope,” the third book in my “Western Dreams” series, I knew it had to be different from the first two. “Westward Hope” and “Settler’s Hope” were traditional romances, with a “him” and a “her” battling forces that would keep them apart. While the first book takes place on the Oregon Trail, the external conflict comes from how the hero and heroine respond to the challenges of the trail and how their relationship plays out against it. It’s still the Oregon Trail, but it’s all about them. The second book, “Settler’s Hope,” takes place in one small Oregon Country settlement, a raw hamlet the Irish-immigrant heroine isn’t all sure she wants to make her home. Still the Oregon Country, but all about her.


9 Tips for Writing an Epic Novel by Guest Kathleen D. Bailey

 

            But I knew a one-horse town or even a wagon train tour wouldn’t offer enough scope for my third book, the story of Jenny Thatcher. Gun-toting, swaggering, pants-wearing, horse-stealing but now God-serving Jenny. A girl who was larger than life even in someone else’s book. And her love interest White Bear, a Native man who didn’t feel at home in either world, his or hers, and was larger than life in his own way.


            They had been apart for three years, so the story had to involve a search for each other.  And cruel forces to keep them apart. 


Jenny and White Bear needed a bigger stage for their story to play out from. I found it in the epic format. 


Jenny and White Bear would roam what was then the known world, from Taos to San Antonio to New Orleans to St. Joseph, and through places that didn’t yet have names. They would come together briefly for three glorious days in New Orleans, then be separated by the powers of evil. (See above, two sets of villains!) They would spend the remainder of the book trying to get back together, until a final showdown on the snow-covered plain where it all started three years before. And they would do it with a slew of secondary and minor characters, some real historical figures, some that should have been. 


            Here’s how I made it work.


1.     While I often write my books piecemeal, doing scenes as they occur to me and patching the whole thing together like a quilt, I knew that wouldn’t work for “Redemption’s Hope.” Too many moving pieces, too much risk of losing one or several threads. So I wrote this one in linear fashion. I made notes for things I might want to include in subsequent chapters, but the general progression was chapter by chapter.

 

2.    Details do matter, and in the big book it’s more than just mistaking hazel eyes for blue. With two separate sets of villains, I had to distinguish them not only from each other, but from the other set of bad guys.  I stressed their physical appearance, and also gave one of Jenny’s pursuers an extra interest in abusing her sexually. It never happens, I wouldn’t do that to Jenny, but it gave her pursuers another level of complexity, and gave her one more thing to fear.


3.    I also had to pay attention to timelines, both real and fictional. I printed out a couple of lists of events in my period, 1849 and 1850, and sprinkled them liberally through the novel.

 

4.    I really wanted a couple of real historical characters, and I settled on Christopher “Kit” Carson and Mrs. Susannah Dickinson, the wife of Alamo hero Almaron Dickinson. I researched both heavily until I knew what they might have said to Jenny. But every word and interaction has to move the story forward, even in an epic. I had to not only have them do cameos, but to interact with Jenny in a meaningful way. Carson helps her escape from two killers who’ve tracked her to Taos. Mrs. Dickinson’s influence isn’t so dramatic, but in chatting with Jenny, she influences Jenny to wonder if she would be as brave as Mrs. Dickinson, and stay with White Bear through something like the Alamo. Modern writers don’t have the luxury of a Charles Dickens, or even the 20th-century’s James Michener. Everything has to count in some way.


5.    I also wanted to show the entire scope of the West at the time, so I threw in some fictional characters such as Jenny’s friend Noonday Smith, the would-be gold miner. The same rule went for these as it did for the real characters: they needed to interact with Jenny and her situation, and not just be window dressing. I’ve been fascinated for years – and appalled – by the Creole custom of powerful men taking on “quadroons,” pretty mixed-race women, as mistresses. The process was institutionalized, sanitized and sanctioned in 19th-century New Orleans. I wanted to have Jenny meet a quadroon, and found it in Dominique. But Dominique had to be more than an interesting sidetrack. I found her purpose in having Jenny reflect on her own past as a saloon girl, and fear exposing that part of her life again. She wants Dominique to find God, so she tells her own story as she explains the plan of salvation. It gives insight into Dominique—and Jenny.


6.    At some point I also had to decide what to leave out, and that’s hard with something as vast as the West. The American West was not only physically big, but had a range of characters and potential experiences. As my word count crept up and my characters careened toward their final battle, I knew I couldn’t fit in a cattle drive or a barroom brawl. But that’s all right. There are other Western books to be written, and I can put my stamp on those two classics in another story.


7.    With two sets of villains and Jenny and White Bear spending so much time apart, it was also crucial that I establish Where Everyone Was At A Certain Time. I printed a special copy of my chapter outline and color-coordinated Jenny’s enemies, White Bear’s enemies, Jenny and White Bear as to where they were in a given chapter.  A map of the United States also helped, with color-coordinated push pins guiding me through. Color-coordination is my fallback position for most organizing.


8.    For my epic, I also had to break with the conventions of the romance novel. White Bear and Jenny don’t meet or reunite in the first chapter, because the body of the story is about their search for each other. So I had to establish early on who White Bear was to Jenny, who Jenny was to White Bear, and that they had never forgotten each other. And I had to ramp up the anticipation of their reunion. Flashbacks are a powerful tool. Don’t overuse.


9.    Most of all, I needed to make their quest matter, especially for Jenny. Jenny, my former saloon girl, so tough on the outside, but hurting on the inside, so deeply even she doesn’t realize it. Jenny has accepted the Lord as her Savior, gone her way and sinned no more. But she still bears the load of guilt from all the years she didn’t serve Him. She buries her past in hard work at her horse farm and good times with her friends. But when she finally breaks away to look for White Bear, she also breaks away from the conventions that were holding her guilt at bay. As she roams the West she comes face to face with what she was, who she is now, and the full scope of the Father’s redeeming love. I had to make the journey matter for White Bear too, as he learns that Jenny is strong enough, and then some, to be married to a Native man. They needed to find not only each other, but themselves. 


9 Tips for Writing an Epic Novel by Guest Kathleen D. Bailey


This is what needs to happen in an epic. I could have just concentrated on the plot, the twists and turns, mixing suspense with a travelogue and tying it up with a big bow of narrow escapes for its paper-doll characters. Some writers have done that. Some readers don’t mind. But Jenny and White Bear deserved more: an internal journey to match their external one. I hope I gave it to them.


Now it’s your turn. What do you like/dislike about the epic form? Writers, how do you make it work, or why don’t you write them? Readers, do you enjoy reading epics?


 

Kathy is generously offering giveaways today to three commenters! Let us know in the comments if you’d like to be entered for either a paper copy of "Westward Hope," an e-copy of "Settler's Hope," or a New England gift pack.

 

9 Tips for Writing an Epic Novel by Guest Kathleen D. Bailey


Kathleen Bailey 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.

            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. Her first Pelican book, ‘‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020. She has a Christmas novella, “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle,” scheduled for this December as part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza,” and is completing “Redemption’s Hope,” the third and final book in the Western Dreams series.

She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.

            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.

            

 


How to Increase Your Daily Word Count with Guest Jill Kemerer

 

How to Increase Your Daily Word Count with Guest Jill Kemerer

by Jill Kemerer

You’re sitting at your desk in front of your laptop, and every word you write takes a lifetime. We’re talking two, maybe three, words per minute. You hate those words. Delete them. And you’re right back where you started. This might last an hour, a day, a week, a month. Who knows? But when you’re in a struggle session to figure out the next sentence, your daily word count suffers.

Whenever this happens to me, I procrastinate. Then panic.

And all I can think is that I hate writing.

The longer I stay away from the manuscript, the more I loathe the thought of returning to it.

Call it writer’s block or just another day as a writer, but it’s not fun. How can we meet our goals if we’re staring at a laptop screen, scarfing down M&Ms, and the only thing coming to mind is duhhhh…

The book will not be written. Goals will not be met.

This happened to me regularly until about three years ago. I managed to finish all my projects on time, but I wasn’t looking forward to writing the way I used to. In fact, I dreaded actually writing the first draft.

I decided to come up with a strategy to eliminate as many of those struggle sessions as possible. How? By reading how other writers overcame them and by experimenting to see what would work for me.

I needed to be able to consistently stay in the groove when writing a draft. So I read productivity books written by authors. The two below really stuck with me.

First of all, I highly recommend the book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. The Kindle version is only $2.99. It’s a short, informational book full of personal insights and tips. It helped motivate me to increase my daily word count.

I also recommend Allie Pleiter’s The Chunky Method Handbook: Your Step-by-Step Plan to WRITE THAT BOOK Even When Life Gets in the Way. For $4.99, the Kindle version is full of great advice.

After studying the above books, I realized my momentum in a draft stopped when I didn’t know what would happen next. Now, I’m a plotter, so I know where the story is headed. But I don’t know every scene in advance. It was those in-between scenes that were stalling me out.

Pantsers, I imagine, have the same problem. They’re discovering the story as it’s being written, and when you aren’t certain what direction to take, it’s hard to move forward.

This was an easy fix for me. After each writing session, I simply brainstorm the next scene. I decide whose point of view it needs to be in, where it is taking place, the basic idea of what is happening and how the scene will further the story. Then I think ahead to the following scene and sketch out its details.

Brainstorming the next 1-2 scenes at the end of a writing session takes me less than ten minutes. I’m no longer floundering around trying to figure out what happens next. Now I quickly jump into my draft every day because I know what I’ll be writing.

This step alone helped me increase my daily word count because I wasn’t wasting time.
I didn’t stop there. I was intrigued by the premise of Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K book (see above). I’m a math girl. Before I read her book, I typically wrote between 2000-2500 words a day. I know this because I keep a log of every writing session.

I keep three logs for every book.One is for plotting, one is for writing, and one is for revising. For the writing log, I note the date, number of pages added, number of words added and the total word count to that point. This gives me an overview of how long it reallytakes for me to write a book.

It wasn’t hard to see that if I could write more each day, the book would be finished in less time.

Since I’d figured out how to ACTUALLY WRITE and not stare off into space wondering what comes next, I began to experiment with word count. And I realized something that wasn’t flattering.

Every day I started too late, and I quit too early.

Now, I’m blessed to write full time. I know many of you are fitting your writing in around full-time jobs, children, spouses, hobbies, and other important things. We all have demands on our time. But I had to take a hard look at how I was spending my work days, and when I did, I made some changes.

I organized carpools for my kids’ practices. I exercised earlier. Planned my chores around my writing times. I cut back—way back—on interacting on social media sites. I still check in a few times a week, still blog, still send out a monthly newsletter, still promote my books. For me, social media is a low-energy task, an easy distraction, and it was hindering me from meeting my true goals.

Before you can sell copies of your book, you have to write it. It’s just the way it is.
I created blocks of time for writing. I also set aside a block each weekday (for me, late afternoon is ideal) for all the other stuff writers do, like writing this post! And I pushed myself to get more words on the page every day.

I realized writing 10,000 words a day isn’t something I aspire to, but 5000 words a day is doable. I also realized I needed to schedule a day to review what I’d written so far about midway through a draft. This helps me keep all the threads straight in my mind.

Writing is my job. I treat it like one.And because I treat it like one, I stay ahead of my deadlines. This allows me to meet friends for coffee once in a while or play hooky to visit a museum or the library. I love having the freedom to make my own schedule, but I never allow it to become a free-for-all.

If you want to increase your daily word count, start by jotting down what has to happen in the next 1-2 scenes at the end of each writing session. Log your word count and the time you spend writing EVERY SESSION. Then push yourself to meet bigger goals until you find the number that seems to fit your life best.

You CAN increase your daily word count. And when you do, don’t be surprised when you experience a renewed love of writing. I’ve fallen in love with the process all over again. And you can to!
 
Mindy here. Jill is giving away a copy of her brand new release, The Cowboy's Christmas Blessings. (Paperback for US, ebook for International) Simply leave a comment to be entered.

How to Increase Your Daily Word Count with Guest Jill Kemerer

The Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings

 

Will welcoming them for Christmas have him wishing for more?

 

Judd Wilson lives a solitary life…until he learns Nicole Taylor and her infant triplets need somewhere to stay. The cabin on his ranch is the perfect solution, but now his quiet Christmas alone feels a lot more crowded. Recently widowed, Nicole questions her swiftly developing feelings for Judd, even if the older man is wonderful with her babies. Is she ready to take that leap again?

 

Purchase The Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings








How to Increase Your Daily Word Count with Guest Jill Kemerer

Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of inspirational romance novels for Harlequin Love Inspired. Her essentials include coffee, M&Ms, a stack of books, her mini-dachshund, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. Please visit her website, jillkemerer.com.

 

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The Ins & Out of Co-writing with the Dynamic Duo of Harris & Gentry