Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Jan Drexler


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

by Jan Drexler

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

I have a problem. The hero of my work-in-progress, The First Rose of Spring, is the epitome of a nice guy. He’s smart. He’s brave. He’s willing to sacrifice his future for the well-being of a stranger.

Get this – he’s also a pastor.

And a cowboy.

Some of you are asking, “What’s wrong with that? He sounds perfect!”

Yes, we all love the nice guy. But the problem is that a perfect character doesn’t lend himself to conflict. And without conflict, there’s no story.

What is an author to do?

Justice Cooper’s biggest problem is his perfection.

Think about it – no one is really perfect, right? If someone appears to be perfect, you know it’s only on the surface. Underneath that smooth exterior there’s a flaw.

A big one.

The bigger the better.

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

Coop’s character will only grow when he becomes broken – when he realizes that he is not strong enough, not smart enough, not brave enough to be the man God has called him to be.

My job as the author of this story is to break Coop. Bring him to the lowest point he can possibly reach so that he is forced to look outside himself for the answer to his problems. The way to do that is to tap into his internal conflict.

Finding your character's internal conflict is a post for another day, but in a nutshell, Coop's internal conflict, the Lie he believes, is that God requires him to be perfect before he can be used for His glory.

That brings me to the theme of the story.

What is the theme? In general, it’s the Truth you’re trying to convey to your readers. In a Christian book, the theme quite often involves a Bible verse – in fact, that’s why I include a verse in the front matter of my books.

The verse for this story is, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

How do I convey that theme to my readers throughout the book?

This is a subtle process because we want our readers to discover the all-important truth of our theme through our telling of the story.

I start by brainstorming images that will illustrate my theme of “strength in weakness through relying on God.”

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

A delicate wild rose on a windswept prairie…

An abandoned mail-order bride standing up to her tormentors…

A preacher who is failing until he bends to God’s will…

And then I write those images into my story.

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

The next question is: How do I do this?

I am always thankful for people who are smarter than I am. We learn how to write through reading blog posts like this one, talking to other writers, and reading craft books.

The craft book that helped me the most with relaying the theme through my story is The Moral Premise by Stan Williams. I first heard about this book here on Seekerville back in 2012.

The Moral Premise is used by many people as a method of outlining their stories, but once I had that mastered, I dug further into what the moral premise was and how to use it to deepen my story-telling.

Here are the links to Stan William's appearances on Seekerville: October 15, 2010, Myra's interview with Dr. Williams from October 1, 2012, Missy's take on The Moral Premise from January 13, 2014, and a post from Myra on Irony and The Moral Premise from October 15, 2015.

Here is the link to Stan William's website where you can find all sorts of information, encouragement, and free tools: Stan William's website

And, of course, you can buy his book on Amazon:

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story Depth

If you want to take your writing above and beyond where you are now, I encourage you to spend time learning how to use your characters' internal conflicts to expand the scope of your story. After all, that's what great writing is all about!

Leave a comment to tell us what you do to add depth to your story or share your favorite writing craft book. One commentor will win a $10 Amazon gift card - you can use it to buy a book to add to your TBR pile, or to purchase your own copy of The Moral Premise. :-)

Meanwhile, watch for the release of The First Rose of Spring this summer! 









Should Christian Authors Write for Secular Readers?


Should Christian Authors Write for Secular Readers?

Hello, Seekerville! It's good to be here today!

I don't know if this subject is one you've thought about at all, but it's been on my mind for the past several months/years. 

The question, short and simple is: As a Christian author, should I write Christian fiction for Christian readers? Or is my call broader than that? Should I be trying to reach non-Christian readers with my stories?

Before we dive into this subject, let’s define a couple terms:

Christian fiction: Fiction that is written from a Christian worldview, includes a Christian spiritual thread, and leaves the reader with a sense of hope rather than doom.

Secular fiction: Fiction that is written from a non-Christian worldview, does not include a Christian spiritual thread (although it may include a spiritual thread from another religion,) and can leave the reader with either a sense of hope or a sense of doom and hopelessness.

Christian author: An author of any genre who is a Christian.

Should Christian Authors Write for Secular Readers?

A bit of history

Back in the olden days (like fifty or sixty years ago) readers and authors didn't think too much about worldview. When I was growing up in the 1960's, almost every book that was available through our libraries and bookstores were written from a Christian worldview, whether the author was a Christian or not. Christianity was part of the culture of the United States, Canada, and Europe. 

When I went to the library as a child and teen, I could comfortably read any book on the shelves (and I did!) But our culture has changed. By the 1980's we were beginning to move into the post-Christian era that we're in now. 

One thing that happened during that shift is that Christian fiction books became a thing.

Do you understand how huge this was? Rather than Christian books being part of the mainstream fiction section in the library (Grace Livingston Hill was shelved with Joanna Lindsey, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers,) they were relegated to their own shelves.

For most readers, this was a good thing. A reader looking for Janette Oke or Beverly Lewis didn't have to sort through the hundreds of non-Christian titles to find them.

But I was, and continue to be bothered by it. Did we create a literary Christian ghetto for ourselves? Did we put up a fence that few non-Christians desired to cross?

Why would a Christian author write for non-Christian readers?

I have two thoughts about this question - -

1) A Christian writes Christian books.

Before I became a Christian, my thinking was upside down. I was an enemy of God and avoided anything that "reeked" of Christianity. Now, keep in mind that back then I thought I was a Christian, just not one of those Christians.

In college and for several years beyond school, I read some pretty awful secular trash - books that were considered to be the classics of the time. Authors you would probably recognize, but they were not Christians, and they didn't write from a Christian worldview.

When God started calling me to Himself, I searched for better books. Hawthorne, Dickens, Stevenson, Christie...I discovered a home in their stories. I reread the books of my childhood: Laura Ingalls Wilder, LM Montgomery, and Maud Hart Lovelace. I started developing a new worldview as I read these authors - a Christian worldview.

When God called me to be a writer, I knew that someday I wanted to write books that wouldn't be found in the Christian fiction section of the library - but that would resound with a Christian worldview.

2) The story needs to be told.

The gospel isn't only for Christians - it's for the world. The dirty, messy, sinful, cruel, lost world. 

And the gospel needs to be told in bold ways (I'm thankful for strong preachers!) and in winsome ways - through stories. Romance, mystery, science fiction and fantasy - through all genres.


Some Christian authors are called to write for the Church - to encourage believers and help to strengthen their faith. Other Christian authors are called to write for the World - to introduce them to a Christian worldview in a non-threatening manner, through stories.

Anything a Christian writes will have a Christian worldview – it can’t be any other way.

This is what I'm attempting in my cozy mystery series, The Sweetbrier Inn mysteries. My characters are Christians, they go to church, and they live normal lives (well, as normal as you can get in a cozy mystery.) Somewhere in each book I bring up a moral question and give the Christian answer to it - murder is wrong; vengeance belongs to God; etc. But I try to weave those moral lessons seamlessly into the story. Never preachy. Never obvious.

Books for Christian as well as secular readers.

What do you think?

As a Christian writer, what stories has God called you to write? Is your audience Christian or secular?

And what do you think about my ideas? Agree? Disagree?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for an e-copy of my latest release, The Case of the Artist's Mistake. US addresses only, please.

Should Christian Authors Write for Secular Readers?
The new art gallery in town is causing quite a stir, and Emma is in the middle of it!
The Sweetbrier Inn is filled with guests, and the town is teeming with tourists who have come to celebrate Paragon Days, the official kickoff to the summer tourist season. But even before the festivities start, amateur sleuth Emma Blackwood stumbles upon a dead body. With no visible signs of violence, Deputy Cal determines the death is from natural causes, but Emma isn’t so sure. Why would a seemingly healthy woman drop dead? And what does the picture she was holding have to do with it? If Emma doesn’t solve this puzzle soon, a killer may get away with committing the perfect crime.

And coming soon: the third installment in the Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries...

Should Christian Authors Write for Secular Readers?

The Lingo of Storytelling - reprise edition


The Lingo of Storytelling - reprise edition

Good morning, Seekerville!

Last month I brought you a post about writing in "Baby Bits." (You can read that post HERE.) When I wrote that post, I thought I had been through the proverbial wringer...but God wasn't done with me yet. The week after that post appeared, my father passed away suddenly while I was still in the middle of serving on the jury of that criminal case. Meanwhile some health symptoms related to my hyperparathyroidism were increasing.

So, what is a writer to do? After much prayer, I decided to step down from many responsibilities in my life and take a sabbatical until after my surgery and my father's memorial service at the end of March.

I'm planning to step back into my normal (?) life by April 1st, hopefully energized, thinking clearly, and able to write again.

I have a feeling I'm going to have to refresh my memory on many things about writing - so I'm starting here with a reprise edition of a post I wrote a couple years ago.

I hope the reminder is as valuable to you as it is to me!

The Lingo of Storytelling

The Lingo of Storytelling - reprise edition

A few weeks ago, Mary Conealy brought us a post about the Lingo of Designed Pages – a brief vocabulary of the series of edits we authors enjoy as our stories travel from our computers to published books. You can read that post here: Designed Pages--the Lingo

Today, I’m bringing you a brief introduction to the vocabulary of writing stories. I’ve gleaned these often-used but seldom-defined words from questions posed by newbie writers. Some of these might be familiar to you, but some might not be.

Just for fun, see if you can come up with a definition before reading mine. Keep track of the times we agree, and then share your score in the comments!

1. Protagonist: As the main character in the story, the protagonist is the person that the story is about. Also called the Hero or the Heroine. A romance will have both.

2. Antagonist: The antagonist in the story is the character who is working against the protagonist. The bad guy. Of course, the antagonist doesn’t have to be a guy (think of Cruella D’Ville in 101 Dalmatians) or even a person. It can be a setting, the weather, or even the fallout from a bad decision the protagonist made in the past. The antagonist doesn’t even have to be “bad,” as long as he or she is working against the protagonist’s goals.

3. Secondary Character: This is any character who adds to the characters’ stories without insisting on telling their own. These are the parents, the neighbors, the sidekicks, the grandmotherly woman at church. Secondary characters round out your cast of characters and give your protagonist someone to talk to or to react to. They can also provide a much needed moment of comic relief in a tense scene.

4. Active Voice: This is a grammar term that means that the subject of the sentence is the one doing the action of the verb. Like this: “Sam ate the grasshopper.” The active voice is preferable for modern popular fiction since it tends to keep the reader involved in the action of the story.

5. Passive Voice: Another grammar term. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is the one having the action done to him. Like this: “The grasshopper was eaten by Sam.” Quite often, a passive voice sentence will have an understood agent, as in: “The grasshopper was eaten.” The passive voice is out of favor in popular fiction right now, so learn to identify the passive voice and to turn those sentences into active ones.

By the way, does it help to know that Sam is a dog? He'll eat anything that stays still long enough to go into his mouth!

The Lingo of Storytelling - reprise edition

6. In media res: This is a Latin term that used to be taught in composition and writing classes. It means “in the middle of things.” We quite often refer to the concept without using the Latin phrase – we all know to start our stories in the middle of the action, right?

7. Three-Act Structure: This is one way to structure a plot. There are others, but this is the one you see most often. It’s intuitive to both the author and the reader and easy to use. What are the three acts? 
The basics: 1, 2, 3. Beginning, Middle, End. 
Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy. 
Until someone adds in a “2A” and a “2B.” Then, if you’re like me, you start thinking in four acts instead of three… 
But the main point is that there is a structure to your writing that readers can follow.

8. Plot Points: This subject is big enough for its own book – and many authors have written books about Plot Points! But we’re only talking about vocabulary today.

Plot points are the more-or-less evenly spaced turning points within the structure of your story. Depending on the writer, you might have three plot points, or as many as sixteen. I work with five major plot points and two or three minor ones. Every author develops their own method and names for plot points, and some of the names you might hear are “inciting incident,” “call to adventure,” “moment of grace,” “black moment,” “final battle,” etc.

9. Synopsis: This is a summary of the completed story that tells potential agents, editors, and publishers what your story is about. The length varies depending on the guidelines of the entity you’re sending it to, but one thing never varies: always tell the complete story, including the surprise ending.

10. Back Cover Copy: This is a different kind of summary of your story. This is what you write to entice readers to open the book and start reading the story. It should have a great hook and never, ever give away the ending of the story. 

This was just a beginning of the vocabulary we need to acquire during our steep learning curve of becoming an author. If you think of any that I missed, be sure to mention them in the comments!

Writing in Baby Bits


Writing in Baby Bits

Have you ever had one of those days weeks months?

Here we are on the third Monday of January. In November I had my new year planned with plenty of time for writing along with my usual volunteer activities. Throw in a doctor’s appointment or two and some expected minor surgery, and my winter plans were complete.

But NOTHING has gone the way I planned so far!

It all started with my summons for jury duty…and I was selected to serve on a jury for a criminal case that is expected to last four weeks or more. So every day I show up at the courthouse, listen to testimonies and cross-examinations, and then go home exhausted and heart-sore from the tough testimony I’ve heard. Then I try to keep the details straight until we do it all over again the next day.

I realized before the second day of the trial was over that I needed to be super focused on my writing during my available time – somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning. And I can only squeeze out about ten minutes during that half-hour.

What is an author to do???

Since I know this situation isn’t permanent (it isn’t, right?) I only needed to come up with a solution to last for those four weeks or so. I wanted to make some progress on my WIP, but mostly I didn’t want to lose the story.

What do I mean by losing the story? It’s when you take such a long break that you’ve lost the heartbeat of your story and have to spend time reading through all your notes and what you’ve written so far to bring it back again.

Writing in Baby Bits
Photo courtesy ShutterStock

Enter Baby Bits. I got this concept from homemaking. One YouTuber I listen to calls it “Tiny Tidies.” That’s where instead of dedicating hours to cleaning your house, you take care of tiny messes whenever you see them.

How long does it take to put a magazine back in the magazine rack? Less than a minute. Stick a few dirty dishes in the dishwasher? Maybe two minutes. In fifteen minutes or less your living room and kitchen can look presentable.

Do you get the idea?

How long does it take to write two hundred words? Would you believe about ten minutes?

And two hundred words are enough to breathe life into my story each morning.

Of course, these two hundred words aren’t going to show up if I go into my story cold. It takes preparation.

Writing in Baby Bits

When I decided to approach my story this way, I needed to read through it again, have an idea of what was going to happen in this scene, and since I was introducing a new POV character, I needed to understand who she was and how I wanted to portray her.

By Wednesday morning when I sat down for ten minutes between my first cup of tea and my shower, I knew what I was going to write. That afternoon during a break from the court room, I jotted down some notes that covered the rest of the scene. The next morning, I was able to make more progress.

Is this a permanent solution? No. If I was working full time outside my home, I would need to come up with a different kind of writing schedule.

But the “Baby Bits” of writing each morning will help keep my story alive until I can return to my regular routine - hopefully by the middle of February!

What secrets do have of coping with unexpected breaks in your routine?



A Child's Christmas in the Midwest


Welcome to the last week before Christmas!!!

As a child, I counted down the days until could there be so many??? Could we survive the wait?

And then suddenly it arrived. Somewhere between visiting Santa at Rike's Department Store downtown, baking cookies with my mom, an evening of decorating those cookies with my brother (and maybe a few cousins,) and wrapping presents, Christmas came!

Christmas 1961

The Christmas Eve service, candles glowing, Silver Bells playing on the radio, the excitement of finally hanging our stockings, and reluctantly heading to was magic.

Do you remember that same magic? That same Christmas feeling?

Christmas sometime around 1965

But things changed when I became an adult. I realized that Christmas isn't just ribbons and bows and toys and Christmas cookies...Christmas came to mean A LOT MORE. 

That Christmas giddiness of my childhood was as sweet as sugar, and just as fragile. But as an adult, that sugary sweetness was slowly replaced by lasting, pure AWE.

This Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas was born to glorify the Father, and born to wear the thorns for me...

Another thing that has changed in these grown-up Christmases is that I'm eating a LOT less sugar these days, and I've slowly been adjusting my favorite Christmas treats to sugar-free treats.

It isn't as horrible as it sounds!

My go-to fudge recipes these days come from a website called "My Montana Kitchen," and they are no-guilt delicious!

They all start with a basic recipe - Sugar-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk.

Yes, sugar-free condensed milk. The recipe uses cream, butter, and a stevia/erythritol sweetener blend (aka "Gentle Sweet" from Trim Healthy Mama, or you can use the recipe found on the My Montana Kitchen website.) The recipe takes time, but it's worth it. I have to keep myself from making it too's that delicious!

Here's the link to that recipe: Sugar-Free Keto Sweetened Condensed Milk

Once you have that basic recipe, you can use the sweetened condensed milk in all sort of recipes, and my favorite is chocolate fudge. Here's the link to the fudge recipes: 5 Sugar-Free Fudge Recipes

Eating mostly sugar-free has been an easy transition with recipes like these. I still make the regular fudge for family and friends...but that's okay. I get the sugar-free version all to myself!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas from our family to yours!

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.

The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy

by Jan Drexler 

The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy


Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is one of my top three! I love everything about the day - food, fellowship, PIE! - but most of all,                                                           I love the REASON for this SEASON. 

We might think that the celebration of Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims, but actually, believers have been setting aside days of Thanksgiving since Old Testament times.

The Pilgrims carried this tradition with them to the Plymouth colony in 1620, celebrating the first Thanksgiving in America in 1621 or 1622.
(For those of you with a calendar, that was 400 years ago!)

Here's one participant's description of that first Thanksgiving feast:
The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy

Far from being the joyless, dour folks that some people often portray the Puritans, their lives were full of joy and thanksgiving. Not only one day a year, but every day was filled with thanksgiving. 

The tradition continued with George Washington in 1789:

The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy

And with Abraham Lincoln in 1863:

The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy

One thing that I noticed about all three of these times of Thanksgiving is that they took place during or just after times of great hardship - the horribly difficult time of starvation and death during the first year after the Pilgrims landed, the war for independence that Americans fought against the British, and the American Civil War. Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation was given during the third wearying year of that bloody war.

How could they even think to give thanks during times like those? 

How can we even think to give thanks during times like these?

The secret is joy.

Several years ago I read Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. I was thinking about it recently and was reminded of the year I spent following her advice to find joy.

The exercise was simple. Every day, I was to write down three things that brought me joy. I started in 2014. I created a little diary and I was faithful - through January, February, March...

...and then March 30th came. The day my mother passed away.

This was a challenge - how could I find joy in this circumstance of my life?

The habit to find joy had been ingrained through the previous three months of that year, and I found joy in my thankfulness for the mother God had given me. Day after day I poured out my grief in counting the endless moments of joy I had known with her.

Moments I captured in Thanksgiving and Praise.

The Secret to Thanksgiving is Joy

This Thanksgiving, my challenge to you is to find Joy in your circumstances, 
and give Thanks to God above!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

Hi, everyone!

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

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

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


What Will Spill Onto Your Page?


Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

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

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

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

Let's start here - 

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's the answer?

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

Not just reading scripture, but delving deep into it.

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

Even if my daily word count suffers...

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

Autumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?

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

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Seasons of the Writing Life


Seasons of the Writing Life

Last week, Hallmark Publishing announced that it was closing its doors.

That news rocked the worlds of many of our fellow writers - maybe even you! Authors were left with questions, everything from what would happen to the proposal they had just submitted to what would happen to the book they had under contract. 

While that kind of news is never welcome, it's one of the seasons of the writing life.

I remember back in 2018 (or was it 2017?) when Love Inspired announced that they were discontinuing their historical line. I had published five books with Love Inspired Historical and had a sixth one under contract. 

Seasons of the Writing Life

And yes, the news rocked my world. But I knew that as writers, our careers come with no guarantees. 

There's no guarantee that your publisher won't close its doors. No guarantee that they'll buy your next proposal. No guarantee that your editor won't take a job at another publishing house. No guarantee that they'll even publish the book you have finished and delivered...which is what happened to one author a few years ago.

The only guarantee we have is that things will change.

Just like the seasons of the year change from spring to summer to fall, our writing lives will change. And when winter comes with the start of the new year, the cycle will continue...but it will look different.

Have you felt the change of seasons in your writing life?

Not too long ago, I was in a fruitful summer season of contracts, book deadlines, editing deadlines, and blog tours.

Seasons of the Writing Life

A bison's favorite place to be - knee deep in rich summer grass!

When 2020 hit, so did an autumn season which slid into a winter of reflection, reorganization, and rejuvenation.

Seasons of the Writing Life

These days, my career seems to be in an early spring. My new indie publishing venture has been a time of growth for me - much like a flower bulb pushing up a tentative shoot after a long winter. The early spring of indie releases and writing for a different breed of deadline has been like the beginning of a new year and new adventures.

Seasons of the Writing Life

As I'm sliding into late spring, though, I'm exploring different possibilities to turn this spring of beginnings into a fruitful summer.

Seasons of the Writing Life

Of course, it won't look anything like the summer of the past, but I'm excited to see what God will do.

Think of the seasons of the year for a gardener. 

Spring is a time of growth that leads to the fruitfulness of summer. Summer fruitfulness turns into the tasks of harvesting and preserving the produce for the future. The waning days of autumn means it's time to put the garden to bed - work that will lead to a productive garden in the spring. Then winter comes. Not a time of death, but of rest.

Seasons of the Writing Life
This year's crop of potatoes - the result of a summer of work.

What season are you in right now?

One thing I've learned is that the season we're in now won't stay forever. Time moves on. 

But each season has its own purpose. 

When our careers - or our lives - seem to be waning, it's easy to think that we're at the end. 

But each season is a time of preparation for the next one, isn't it?

What preparation are you doing now for the next season in your writing career?

I'm working on a proposal to send to an agent sometime soon - possibly, if it's God's plan, a step back into traditional publishing.

But it's still early spring. Cozy mysteries are still taking up the bulk of my time, and I'm enjoying them immensely!

There are no guarantees except one: Things always change, but God is always in control.

I'm content to see what He will do in the next season of my writing career.

Share your thoughts! Ask for advice! 

One commenter today will win an ebook copy of my newest release, The Case of the Artist's Mistake!

Seasons of the Writing Life
The new art gallery in town is causing quite a stir, and Emma is in the middle of it!
The Sweetbrier Inn is filled with guests, and the town is teeming with tourists who have come to celebrate Paragon Days, the official kickoff to the summer tourist season. But even before the festivities start, amateur sleuth Emma Blackwood stumbles upon a dead body. With no visible signs of violence, Deputy Cal determines the death is from natural causes, but Emma isn’t so sure. Why would a seemingly healthy woman drop dead? And what does the picture she was holding have to do with it? If Emma doesn’t solve this puzzle soon, a killer may get away with committing the perfect crime.

You can order this book HERE!

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing


A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

For the first ten years of my writing career I happily and blissfully wrote the books of my dreams and was thrilled when publishers actually paid me an advance for the privilege of publishing them!
But when 2020 arrived, along with the events-that-shall-not-be-named, everything went topsy-turvy, including the publishing industry.

I don't intend to rehash recent history - it's enough to say I know I wasn't alone in experiencing an upheaval in my professional and personal worlds.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

I wanted to do something different. In the spring of 2020, I decided to pursue a new genre. I wanted something fun. Something lighter. Something that gave me the opportunity to purse-whomp a bad guy or two (didn't we all want to purse-whomp someone at that time?) 

I turned to cozy mysteries with the thought that I would try them out. I had a target publisher, spent a year or so learning the genre, and wrote the first book in my Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries series.

But the world had gotten darker during that year to eighteen months and I quickly realized that traditional publishing wasn't an option for me at that time.*

*I want to emphasize that it wasn't an option for me. And it wasn't for me at that time.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

I started exploring independent publishing. I asked for advice from our own Ruth Logan Herne and Pam Hillman and reached out to a few other friends whose indie work I admired, and started learning.

After all, Ruthy and Pam made the process look so easy! And every blog post I read said it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! 

I knew what I DIDN'T want to do:

1. I didn't want a cover that looked like my aunt had painted it.
2. I didn't want to ask my husband to be my editor.
3. I didn't want the font/paper/margins/etc. to look like I had cut and pasted my story to fit on a Word document.

In short, I wanted my books to have the same professional appearance that my traditionally published books had.

Was it as easy as the various blog posts claimed? No.
Was it doable? Yes.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

I spent as much time learning how to indie publish my book as I had spent learning how to write in this new genre. I made a LOT of errors. I wasted a LOT of time.

At the same time, I "repackaged" myself. Instead of writing only historical romances, I wanted to expand my products. Cozy mysteries were already in the pipeline, plus I wanted to leave my options open to contemporary stories, historical stories, and even historical mysteries. I also wanted to edge into the general market - a market that wasn't really open to my Christian-focused Amish stories.

My new tag line reflected all of that.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

After a new logo, a new website. and many, many hours of watching tutorials on everything related to indie publishing, I released my first indie book in May of this year.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

With that bit of experience under my belt, I'm ready to publish my next book. The release date is September 28th!

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

Do you remember the three things I didn't want to do with my independent publishing?

1. I hired a fabulous cover artist - Hannah Linder. She's a familiar face around here, and she designs the best covers. She caught the vision of what I wanted after only a few emails, and I couldn't be happier with her designs. You'll need to stop by her website: Hannah Linder Designs

2. I hired a great editor - another name familiar to Seekerville - Beth Jamison of Jamison Editing. A great editor finds the hidden errors and inconsistencies in the manuscript, and Beth catches them all.

3. I purchased a program to give my books the professional formatting look I wanted: Atticus. Another option is Vellum, but only if your computer is a Mac.

All of these things cost money. If you're traditionally published, your publisher spends that money instead of you. There are other costs that you also pick up if you are your own publisher, but that comes with the territory. 

Eventually, the income column in my spread sheet should overtake the expenses column, but like any start-up business, that takes time. And work. A lot of work.

Which reminds me. Another little thing I did to enhance the professional appearance of my books (and my small business) was to form my own publishing company. Nothing fancy. But it took my name out of the "publisher" field on Amazon and gave me the opportunity to create my own logo and name. I call it Swift Wings Press, and I love this logo. I use it on bookmarks, my new business cards, and on the spine of my print copies.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

What's next?

I'll keep writing stories for the Sweetbrier Mysteries series - I'm working on a Christmas novella right now. 
There's an historical romance waiting for my attention on my computer.
And I would love to explore all the other ideas swirling in my head...

...but the great thing about independent publishing is that I can go ahead and explore those ideas, because I have the freedom to follow my own path, not the path of a traditional publishing company.

That's why I used Swift Wings Press for my imprint - I'm free to follow the wind, wherever it blows. (John 3:8)

Will I ever traditionally publish again? Of course, given the right opportunity. 

But until then, I'm enjoying what the Lord has placed before me at this time.

Have you ever considered independent publishing, either now or in the future? Or are you already in the midst of the adventure?

One commenter will win an ebook copy of "The Case of the Artist's Mistake!"

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

The new art gallery in town is causing quite a stir, and Emma is in the middle of it!

The Sweetbrier Inn is filled with guests and the town is teeming with tourists who have come to celebrate Paragon Days, the official kickoff to the summer tourist season. But even before the festivities start, amateur sleuth Emma Blackwood stumbles upon a dead body. With no visible signs of violence, Deputy Cal determines the death is from natural causes, but Emma isn’t so sure. Why would a seemingly healthy woman drop dead? And what does the picture she was holding have to do with it? If Emma doesn’t solve this puzzle soon, a killer may get away with committing the perfect crime.

Coming September 28th! Preorders will be available soon!

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!

Using Internal Conflict to Give Your Story DepthShould Christian Authors Write for Secular Readers?The Lingo of Storytelling - reprise editionWriting in Baby BitsA Child's Christmas in the MidwestThe Secret to Thanksgiving is JoyAutumn Musings: What Will Spill Onto Your Page?Seasons of the Writing LifeA Foray into Hybrid PublishingMore Hidden Treasures

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