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13 Years, One Month, and Three Weeks: Forever Grateful

Missy Tippens

 

13 Years, One Month, and Three Weeks: Forever Grateful


Thirteen years, one month, and three weeks ago today, I created my first post for the fairly new Seekerville blog. I was a nervous wreck. I had to follow amazing posts by Seeker bloggers who knew a lot more about publishing than I did (I was still four months away from the release of my debut novel), and who were funnier and more engaging than I am. But our group had come together while running into each other as finalists in writing contests…and that, I knew a LOT about. :) So I told myself that I belonged with these talented women, trying to help others achieve their dream of publication—especially through entering contests.

 

One hundred and seven posts later, I have shared what I’ve learned along the way about writing and publishing and marketing. I’ve tried to share encouraging posts and even inspirational posts as God taught me lessons about myself through the writing of my books. Every few years, I’d wonder how long this blogging journey would last, and each time, I felt God directing me to continue.

 

But a few months ago, I started feeling God nudging me to consider that it was time to retire from the blog. I admit, I was stubborn and doubted. I thought surely I had misunderstood. But I kept praying about it, and over the last several weeks I’ve felt God confirming the change. It seemed that daily, during my Bible study time, He would bring a verse to me that spoke the same message. I have no idea what God has for me next, but I’m excited to find out. I WILL continue writing, because I still feel that calling! I’ve just been offered another contract on some more devotionals, and I’m working on another novel.

 

Though I do have one more guest I’ll be hosting in January, I won’t be a regular blogger here at Seekerville anymore. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll disappear! I’ll still drop by to jump in the discussions and to pester Ruthy (I love to pester Ruthy!). :)

 

Today, in honor of our purpose for this blog, I’d love to offer to critique the first 5 pages (1.5 or double spaced) of someone’s manuscript. Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to be entered!


13 Years, One Month, and Three Weeks: Forever Grateful

It has been one of the privileges of my life to be able to be a part of this blog for the last 13 years. The love of our community here, and the joy we Seekers have felt each time one of you makes your first sale or indie publishes your first book, have often been the encouragement I’ve need to keep plowing through this wild and crazy journey of writing. So, thank you.

 

I pray blessings on each of you.

 


***

 After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Missy also writes devotionals for several publications from Guideposts.


Visit Missy at:

www.missytippens.com

https://twitter.com/MissyTippens 

http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.


Four Tips to Better Focus During Brain Fog

 Missy Tippens

Four Tips to Better Focus During Brain Fog

 

Admission time. I’ve had trouble focusing for most of this calendar year. I’m not talking about a typical blank moment, where you walk into a room and can’t remember what on earth you went in there for. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that.)

 

No, I’m talking about bigger focus problems. Maybe you’ve felt it too… Staring at a screen and finding words fail you, as if your brain is void of synapses. Moments where you can’t summon the energy to string together a sentence. Getting online to look up something, and an hour later signing off, and then realizing you never made it to the website you'd planned to visit.

 

Or maybe you’ve done the opposite during the pandemic. Maybe if you were fortunate enough to stay at home, you wrote like crazy as an escape. But while not in your story, you found it difficult to focus on real life.

 

And what about your One Word? If you’re a person who chooses one each year to focus on, do you remember yours? In my planner, there’s a place to write your One Word each week. About April or May, I realized I had stopped filling in that blank, and I had to go back and look mine up. I couldn’t even remember it for certain. Mine for this year is PURPOSE. Obviously, I lost mine a bit.

 

Then I heard about a little book called Focus: How One Word a Week Will Transform Your Life by Cleere Cherry Reaves. It sounded like exactly what I needed. So I ordered it.


Four Tips to Better Focus During Brain Fog


 

When it arrived in September, I immediately opened it and looked at the first word.

 

Diligent.

 

Ouch. I immediately thought God was hitting me upside the head, trying to tell me to work harder and push through the brain fog.

 

But then the author said that diligence didn’t just mean working hard. That our translation of the root word has lost the connection between diligence and delight.

 

Delight.

 

She went on to say that the person who delights in their work is displaying the character of God.

 

Reaves left us with this…


 “Focus Tip: This week when you find yourself in a hard situation, whisper the word diligence and walk through it—don’t run from it. Try to find the meaning behind it and remember Who you are ultimately doing it for.”

 

Y’all, her words were a balm to my soul. You can read the excerpt at the “Look Inside” feature at Amazon. The words I’ve focused on so far have really spoken to me, and have actually strengthened my understanding of my purpose. I began to find joy again in the writing, because my perspective had changed.

 

If you’re a fan of having a One Word to focus on each year, you might enjoy focusing on a new word each week. You might want to try Cleere Cherry Reaves’s book.


Four Tips to Better Focus During Brain Fog


Today, I wanted to share my own Four Tips to Better Focus:

 

--Take the focus off your lack of focus! Don’t get stuck in your head. It’s like insomnia. The longer you lie in bed, the more you worry about losing sleep, and the worse the insomnia gets. Experts say that after 20 minutes, you should just get up out of bed and do something relaxing before trying again to sleep. I have a feeling this same method can help with focus. If you’re staring at the screen, don’t keep sitting there, fretting. Get up. Do something else for a while, and then try again.

 

--Start your work day with prayer and Bible reading. Let God direct your steps. Then start your tasks with diligence and delight!

 

--Recruit some help from your family, writer friends, or critique partners. Ask them to check in to see how you’re doing with your goals. Maybe encouragement—or even a gentle push—is exactly what you need.

 

-- If your struggle to focus is unrelenting, consider talking with a counselor. Often, a professional can really help.

 

Today, I’m giving away a copy of Focus: How One Word a Week Will Transform Your Life. Please let me know if you’d like to be entered (U.S. only this time, please)! Also, please share with us your tips for focusing!


[P.S. Any links today are for convenience only. They are NOT affiliate links.]

 

 

Four Tips to Better Focus During Brain Fog

After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com,https://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.

 

 

Story Planning Software: Plottr

  Missy Tippens

 

Do you like to visually plan your stories--mind maps, poster boards, sticky notes, charts, Scrivener cork board, notecards, and/or timelines? If so, I’ve discovered a great new app I wanted to share with you today!


Story Planning Software: Plottr

 

Plottr. It helps you create visual timelines that can assist you in generating your outline/synopsis.

 

I bought the program back in May and feel as if I’ve barely put a dent in all I’ll be able to do with it. Plus, as they get feedback from authors, they’re releasing new features constantly. I’ll just share a few of the features I’ve been using and really like.

 

One of my favorite things is being able to use a template. I have a hard time seeing the big picture in a story, so this really helps me keep on target. They offer many templates, some of which you’ve already heard of or used. Just a few examples are The Hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell), Romancing the Beat (Gwen Hayes), 12 Chapter Mystery, The W Plot, and Story Circle (Dan Harmon). I played around with two or three and finally settled on using Romancing the Beat. I love it!

 

What’s great is that you can fill in each beat as is, or you can move things around to suit your story. Everything can be dragged and dropped. You can have multiple plot lines. You can have multiple views (vertical or horizontal). You can use multiple colors. You can pull up your story in outline mode or timeline mode.

 

Here’s an example so you can envision how the timeline works.

 

 

Story Planning Software: Plottr

 

You can create plot cards and also store info about your characters. You can even keep track of a series! You can create a story bible. You can store photos/images. Here's an example of storing information about Places:


Story Planning Software: Plottr


 

You can tag things, so that if you want to do a search—for example one particular character—you can pull up everything with that tag and follow that character’s scenes. You can also tag particular plot lines (romance, character arc, faith journey, etc) so that you can keep up.

 

Here’s an example of tagging and filtering:

 

Story Planning Software: Plottr


 

Once you have your timeline filled in, you can auto-generate an outline.

 

I just discovered you can even add dialogue snippets if they hit you while you’re working. :) I’ll be using that soon.

 

 

Story Planning Software: Plottr

 

I also thought it might help to see the timeline in vertical view in case your brain works better seeing it that way:

 

 

Story Planning Software: Plottr

 

I could go on and on. Here's a link to Plottr so you can check it out. (No affiliate links. I just wanted to include a link to make it easier for you.) You can download a free trial to see what you think of it. They also have demos you can check out.

 

Plottr was created by Cameron Sutter. Cameron was a software engineer by trade who was writing novels but having trouble figuring out how to plan them and be able to keep track of notes, and manage story elements that changed all the time. A friend in his writing group suggested a visual tool for planning stories. So he got to work on one using his software background!

 

I’ve used the Scrivener corkboard for planning my stories (it’s the only feature I use in Scrivener). But I find Plottr works much better for me. I can do a lot more with my plot (scene/beat) cards. I’m pleased that I can get a visual grip on my whole story. And for those who do use Scrivener, you can export to Scrivener. You can also export to Word. Another feature in the works now at Plottr…you’ll eventually be able to sync with Scrivener. 

 

I’ll be here today to answer questions. As I said, I’ve only scratched the surface. One nice thing is that there’s a Facebook page for users to ask questions (or just lurk like I do). :)


If you like to plan your stories visually, I hope you'll check it out. Let me know what you think!


Story Planning Software: Plottr


After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.

Best of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)

Happy Friday, everyone. I wanted to re-share a post from the original Seekerville blog from August 2017. And yes, I will be doing the giveaway again! 


My name is Missy Tippens, and I am a cosmetics and skincare product addict. I love face creams and foundation. Primer and powder. Cleansers and concealer. I’m a sucker for just about anything that declares itself anti-aging. :) (Please bear with me. I WILL tie this in to writing and books.)

Best of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)


My husband has always called me a marketer’s dream. Sales and advertisements draw me in. I love to discover new products, and once I love something, I’m a loyal user. For the last year, I’ve been a big fan of an up-and-coming cosmetics company. I’ve tried many new-to-me products, but have also experienced the release of new items. I have enjoyed the samples that come with every purchase. Very often, I use those samples and then buy the products, discovering new favorites. When I go to their website to shop, I always read the reviews before I buy. They seem to have a crazily loyal customer base, women who heartily share their love of the products with others. I found myself spoiled by the company’s business model and by those new product releases—the samples, the build-up, the special promotions.

But recently, when it had been a while since a new product, I found myself losing interest a bit. I started looking around, clicking on links in newsletters from other companies, checking out products by other brands. Then,

In that moment, it hit me… Oh, my goodness, what if books are the same? I suspect voracious readers are the same way I am with my cosmetics. If so, we authors need to stay in contact with our readers. We need to give them new products to sample and buy. We need to keep them excited about our product so they stay loyal. :)

Best of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)

How can we give our readers more books and keep them interested when some of us are slow writers? Or when some of us are at a place in our lives where we have family or other commitments taking us away from our writing? What about those authors facing illness or grief? It got me thinking…wondering…feeling a bit overwhelmed…

And then I got a promotional email from Nick Stephenson of the blog
They key thing to remember is that 'overwhelm' isn't an inherent personality flaw. It's not genetic. It's not communicable. It's not a fault with you. Overwhelm is a by-product of 'not having a plan'.”
That was another
No more saying, “When I finish x, I think I’m going to work on y…or maybe z.” No more being anxious or indecisive. I need to fully commit no matter what. I need to make decisions about the order to work on projects and then set deadlines.
Best of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)
I mentioned in the comments section not long back that I have a new Panda Planner. But I haven’t been using it regularly. I’m now reminded of how important it is to have a plan and to stay on track. Organization is key to keep from getting overwhelmed, which is key to producing more books, which keeps our readers faithful and excited about our work!
So, while planners can be fun and even artistic ventures (some use stickers and artwork!), and while I love my planner because it includes space for recording gratitude as well as a place to list successes, the calendar area should be a priority.
Best of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)

Today, I want to share some ideas I’ve had (inspired by my cosmetics addict lightbulb moment) for keeping readers interested and loyal:

--Focus on our newsletter, and try to keep a regular schedule (whatever that frequency is for you).
--Be generous with samples (first chapter or free prequel, etc.) on our website or wherever we connect with readers.
--Don’t let big gaps of time pass without offering a product, even if it’s something short or just a freebie. Work toward being more prolific so readers will remain excited about new releases. I think several of the Seekers have a good handle on this by just sticking to a daily word count goal. Consistently writing 500 or 1000 or 2000 words a day (or whatever number works for you) can make all the difference.
--Get readers involved in our work. I’ve recently read authors who recommend keeping readers engaged on social media. One author asks them questions and lets them give input on his books while writing them. And he always responds to comments. This is something I know I can improve on. I have tended to think I’m boring so haven’t posted much on my Facebook author page. But in the future, I want to reach out more often.
--Don’t overdo the promotion. The last thing we want to do is shout, “Buy my book!!” over and over until our fans get so sick of our pleas they want to run the other direction. We don’t want to shove our books down their throats. We want to keep them excited and looking forward to hearing from us. Finding this ideal frequency may take a little trial and error, but I think we’d be safe looking at how often we like hearing from our favorite authors (or from our favorite products outside of books).
--Finally, I think we should move beyond thinking of ourselves simply as creatives and try thinking of ourselves as a brand. We should be savvy business owners. Consider who our customers are and what they want. Come up with a plan, and schedule those product releases on our calendar. Break down those projects into manageable steps. Plan well ahead, especially for promotion. And always be learning from other authors who are successful.
I hope you found this helpful! I’d love to hear your input, as I’m still in the process of shoring up my plan.
Best of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)Today, I’ll be doing a fun giveaway! I’m giving away a hanging travel bag that’ll be great for cosmetics (you knew I had to go there :)) or other toiletries or shaving items. It can even be used for packing electronics (for the many chargers you have to haul everywhere). Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to be entered! (Giveaway item will be similar to this photo but may not be exact depending on what’s available when I order it. U.S. entries only this time please.)

After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens andhttp://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.



Back to Basics: From the Seekerville Archives: Battling Through Your Manuscript...One Scene at a Time

This post first appeared in Seekerville on March 14, 2016

*********************************************************************

Battling Through Your Manuscript...Once Scene at a Time


By Missy Tippens

Back to Basics: From the Seekerville Archives: Battling Through Your Manuscript...One Scene at a Time
Photo credit: Bigstock/Yastremska

Have you hit a wall? Do you often get to Chapter 4 or Chapter 5 and say, “What in the world is going to happen now????” Are you at the midpoint of Speedbo (the Seekerville book-in-a-month writing challenge) and having a moment of panic, wondering where your story is supposed to go?

I’ve been there with you, and I’m going to give you two methods that have helped me battle through.

1.   Mine Your GMC Chart

If you’re stuck trying to figure out what’s going to happen in your next scenes and chapters, go back and take a peek at your Goal, Motivation and Conflict Chart (for more information, check out Debra Dixon’s book, Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction). If you haven’t already considered your characters’ GMC, then take some time to figure this out. I’ve already done a couple of posts on this (Click hereand here.) Also, Tina Radcliffe once shared an example of her chart on her white board, so you can take a peek at that (click here.) [Note: many photos from our Archives blog are no longer available.]

So once you have your chart, look at each block on the chart. Brainstorm scene ideas that have to do with that particular block, scenes that will show that particular aspect of the character.

I thought I’d share an example. Below is my GMC chart and scene ideas cut and pasted directly out of my brainstorming file for the book that became The Doctor’s Second Chancefrom Love Inspired. (note: I = Internal and E=External, G = Goal, M = Motivation and C = Conflict)

Back to Basics: From the Seekerville Archives: Battling Through Your Manuscript...One Scene at a Time


***
Example: GMC Chart for The Doctor’s Second Chance
(This changed a little while writing the full book and after critique.)

Jake:
EG—Work hard and play hard
EM—he’s enjoying his freedom; he deserves to have some fun after the responsibility that was thrust on him from a young age (parents’ death and aunt and uncle who worked all the time leaving him with brat cousin)
EC—Cousin Remy has dumped a baby on him (and he goes back into responsible mode)
Int need: secure family unit of his own
IM—deep need for security/belonging/connection
IC—He doesn’t believe that it’s possible so tries to act like it’s not important (instead goes for freedom and living in the moment—even dangerously)

Violet:
EG—build her new practice and take care of children
EM—she didn’t like impersonal large city practice/clinic and felt rootless
EC—it’s a small town where everyone knows everyone, and she’s an outsider so business is not picking up like she’d planned.
Int need: connection
IG: Have kids by doctoring in a small town community
IM: she gave up a child for adoption and thinks she’ll never have her own (thinks she doesn’t deserve it)
IC: She really does want her own but is afraid to risk loving (maybe harbors bitterness toward parents who made her feel worthless for her huge mistake. Needs to forgive and let go to get rid of the bitterness)

Scene ideas:
Jake
EG—Work hard and play hard (although this is really a lie—he’s just a hard worker, and has always felt he needed to earn his way)
Scenes that show him working
Gets asked to go camping but can’t. Asked to go skydiving but can’t (first inkling of having someone to care about besides himself)
Show in charge and strong in his job/contrast with lack of confidence with baby
EM—he’s enjoying his freedom; he deserves to have some fun after the responsibility that was thrust on him from a young age
Discussion with Remy so we know he took care of her
Comment from someone at church about him always being responsible
Scene where he realizes the baby is like him—“deserted” by parents
EC—Remy has dumped a baby on him (and he goes back into responsible mode)
Opening scene
Scenes where it’s difficult to get work done
Fish out of water scenes
Int need: secure family unit of his own
Flashbacks/dialogue where we hear of him missing parents and family of his own—especially when Remy resented him.
Showing him realizing he likes time with Violet and baby better than skydiving or time outdoors with friends (it gets easier to turn down offers of fun adventure)
IM—security/belonging/connection
Realizes Violet is filling needs he didn’t know he had
Doesn’t feel like the 5th wheel with her
IC—He doesn’t believe that it’s possible so tries to act like it’s not important (instead goes for freedom and living in the moment—even dangerously)
Scene where he’s scared of how close he feels to Violet; feels vulnerable and doesn’t like it. Says he doesn’t need that closeness or someone to know him and makes plans to go skydiving, which V doesn’t like. (or does something else against her wishes on purpose to push her away)

Violet:
EG—build her new practice and take care of children
She agrees to help Jake just because she’s helping a baby
She checks up on Abigail, worries for her
Tells him she did not rip off his family—tells him he doesn’t know details
Begins to ask patients to spread the word that she’s good
EM—she didn’t like impersonal large city practice/clinic and felt rootless
Show her enjoying small town life—she sees advantages of being known, appreciates that others know her business
Goes to church and meets people; show first time she goes out and someone recognizes her, making her feel good
EC—it’s a small town where everyone knows everyone, and she’s an outsider so business is not picking up like she’d planned.
Show her going to church and no one really knows her; she’s an outsider
People call her Doc, but she realizes they don’t really know her at all; there’s no one around who knows her likes and dislikes or about her past; they don’t know Violet
Int need: connection
She has struggled and fought her way through medical school and now has trouble opening up and being vulnerable with new friends
Scene where she meets a new friend—in lab, Darcy, gets to know her better, feels she’s actually met a friend (could meet over the winning of the auction)
First time she attends church since the auction—a few people remember her by that. It’s a small sense of connection
She remembers that one time she went and decides to go back because of connection of the auction. It’s her only tie other than work.
IG: Have kids by doctoring in a small town community
Show her bonding with a patient; child reaches for her, which warms her heart. This could actually happen at church or in town so Jake witnesses it.
IM: she gave up a child for adoption and thinks she’ll never have her own (thinks she doesn’t deserve it)
Scene with Remy, can relate to feeling she’s not worthy.
IC: She really does want her own (family/child) but is afraid to risk loving
Scene where fear over loving Jake makes her want to give up
Realizes she needs to call parents and make effort to heal
Goes to see parents, takes Jake/baby for moral support
****

As you can see, I got a lot of scene ideas just from mining my GMC chart! If you’ve read the book, you may recognize some of these ideas that became scenes. (If you haven’t read The Doctor's Second Chance and want to, here’s a link!)

Back to Basics: From the Seekerville Archives: Battling Through Your Manuscript...One Scene at a Time



2.   Know the Middle … And Then Aim for It

I love James Scott Bell’s book Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between. Since I bought the book, I’ve read it each time I’m plotting a new story to help with the scene ideas. (BTW, it’s a short book.) I’ve found that deciding on the mirror moment in the middle gives me something to aim for once I get past the opening chapters. So no more sagging middle! The basic premise of Bell’s how-to book is that once you know your mirror moment in the middle, that moment when the character takes a hard look at himself and wonders what kind of person he is, what he will do to overcome his inner challenges, then you can go forward to figure out the pre-story psychology or go backward to figure out how the character transforms by the end. Knowing this middle scene will help all the scenes have unity. And like I said, for me, it gives me something to aim for.

I thought I’d share another example. Again, this is from my brainstorming notes, directly cut and pasted, for the story that became The Doctor’s Second Chance. (Spoiler alert! I give away a lot here, all stuff I figured out before I finished writing the book.)

***
Example: Midpoint Brainstorming for The Doctor’s Second Chance
Story Question:
Will Jake be able to take care of this newborn and locate his cousin before Violet gets the court involved? Can Violet fulfill her goal of helping children without falling in love with the baby…and with Jake? Or might the two of them discover that family comes in all shapes and sizes?

Mid-point mirror moment:
Jake: Is there really such thing as a secure family…this ideal little family bubble? For me? And if so, do I dare go for it? What if it got taken away? Show him taking a risky step: asking her out on a date. It’s a concrete move toward making them a unit.

Violet: Do I deserve to be happy? Can I really move forward and let go of the past? Show her admitting some weakness to him. Maybe she shares about rift with her family (but not why), how she’s felt she has to do everything herself. And then she opens up with how she needs him somehow (maybe she needs him to support her in town, by letting people know his opinion of her has changed). [but I’d kind of like him to do this on his own, and she discovers he’s done it because he cares. So maybe she doesn’t ask him to do that. Maybe she just opens up and shares her hurts.]

Pre-story psychology:
Jake: Parents died, “abandoning” him. Aunt and uncle took him in but he always felt he needed to be good for them to keep him. That “being good” alienated his cousin, so he never felt part of the family. His aunt and uncle worked a lot, and he got stuck trying to keep Remy out of trouble since he felt like her destructive behavior was probably his fault. Once she ran off, he felt a sense of relief, of freedom. Has been working hard so he can play and enjoy that freedom. Thinks he has just what he wants. The baby being dropped on him limits that freedom, and he feels that renewed sense of guilt, as if he does owe her. Plus, he’s just naturally responsible.

Violet: Parents were socialites, valued what others thought of them, worried about appearances. Were often gone, lots of baby sitters. She fell for a guy who needed her, and got pregnant. Parents insisted she give up for adoption, would not consider helping her keep baby, claiming she couldn’t give up her lifelong goal to be a doctor. But she felt they were more worried about how it would make them look. She resented them. No relationship since, even though they’ve tried and dad has apologized (mom insists it was best for everyone). She has been independent, putting herself through school and medical school. Feels she was weak and failed her child. Decided she would help other children by becoming pediatrician. Didn’t like large clinic and impersonal medicine. Bought small town clinic to be part of patients’ lives.

Transformation:
How can I show it?
Both have had ideals of the perfect family that they never had. Have to learn to let go of that. Have to accept a new picture of what family means to them now that God has brought them together, and to let go of fear of the rug being yanked out from under them. Must learn to trust God instead of themselves (what I’m learning now).
Jake: In the beginning, he’s still trying to be responsible and take care of others, finding it hard to ask for help. Connection is out of a sense of duty rather than out of love. Needs to extend love. Needs to accept love freely given. He doesn’t have to earn the right to be part of a family.
To show his transformation…He’ll ask her to be his family (scary and risky but worth it). And he’ll ask it even while she’s still acting cool toward him, so it’s even riskier. He’ll do it with God’s strength (when he is weak, God is strong).

Violet: In the beginning, she’s independent and all business, only willing to reach out for the good of the child. She feels driven to work to deserve anything good that comes to her. She’s driving herself, fighting her nature to want closeness and family. She learns she doesn’t have to work hard to earn happiness just because of her past. Needs to accept love freely given. She is worthy of love, because God loves her just as she is.
Or maybe what she thought she needed was control over her life when what she really needed was to give up control, to just accept love.
To show her transformation…she’ll sleep in past sunrise. (maybe in epilogue? On honeymoon?)
****

So you can see how I started by figuring out the middle. Then I backed up to figure out some backstory and scenes that will show it. Then I figured out how to concretely show the ending of the story with my characters in a new place emotionally.

I hope sharing my methods helps some of you! If you’re stuck, try brainstorming using these two methods. Come up with as many ideas as you can. You most likely won’t use them all, but you may find some nuggets that you end up loving! And at least you can keep moving forward on your first draft, even if you change some of it later.


Back to Basics: From the Seekerville Archives: Battling Through Your Manuscript...One Scene at a Time

After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.


Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion


Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion


Before our post today, I would like to take a moment to honor our veterans and families.  Thank you for all you’ve given in service to our country. Please let us know in the comments today if you're a veteran or family member. We want to honor you!



Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion


We recently had a blog reader email us asking where we get our story ideas, and whether it’s okay to write a story if the idea got sparked while reading someone else’s story. I’m not an attorney or able to give any legal advice about copyright law. But I can say that story ideas come from everywhere! And certainly, our creative brains get clicking while we’re reading. If you’re concerned, I’d suggest reading more info on copyright (click here). It specifically says ideas cannot be copyrighted. Still, I suggest reading up on the topic. It’s always good to be informed!

However, all of us reading here today could be told to write a story, and given details about the characters and plot, and each story would turn out differently. We all bring different perspectives, different life experiences, different voices to our work. This is what makes stories so rich!

I thought it would be fun to share a bit today about where some of us get our story ideas. I recently polled the Seeker authors, and we had a discussion about this topic. Here’s what they shared with me…

Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion



I get a lot of my story ideas from research on my work in progress. I come across some interesting detail that doesn't work for the current book but sparks a whole idea for another book. I've also gotten ideas from movies, books, travel and people watching.

My idea for The Kincaid Brides Series came from a long-ago trip to Carlsbad Cavern.

Petticoat Ranch came from my husband growing up with a family with seven sons, then us having four daughters and watching his mind be boggled by the way girls act.

The Sophie's Daughters Series was based on my belief that despite all the very strict rules for women's behavior back in history, folks who headed west probably went their own way a LOT. Women NOT riding side saddle. Wearing pants. Working alongside husbands and husbands not being afraid of women's work. Thus the female doctor, wrangler and sharpshooter....all manly jobs.

A new idea came from the founder of my home town, Decatur, Nebraska....he LIED and said his name was Stephen Decatur, related to a famed Revolutionary War general. And OUR Stephen Decatur was a scoundrel...much of that has been hushed up. I'm changing the names to protect the legacy.

Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion



Lots of my ideas come from research and visiting museums. Or from wanting to tackle a social issue like PTSD, war veterans, orphans, social sins...I tackle all those issues in my upcoming Regency series. Finding a timeless issue and putting it in a different social, economic, or historical environment and seeing what happens. :)

Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion


We all get inspired by stories and each person tells it differently.

I'd remind folks that it's not just creativity. It's science. Action/reaction. Character arcs. I think that's where writers lack inspiration, is keeping people in their lane and building the story from how they would react under the circumstances. The mathematical side of writing fascinates me.

I'm a people watcher. And listener. And, like Mary, when I'm researching one book, a detail will jump out and be used for a different book.

Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion



The basic is, where don't I get story ideas? They're EVERYWHERE. I have WAY TOO MANY, and not nearly enough time to write them all.

One example - I got the idea for Christmas in Hiding when I was standing at my kitchen sink doing dishes.  I could hear a block party on the next block and I started thinking, what if everyone was invited except one person, and what if everyone got poisoned (not fatal) except for that one person? Would she get blamed? Would she have done it? Ultimately, everything about the opening scene (and the book) changed, but that party was what triggered it.  

Another story idea (that I haven't used yet and probably won't) came as I was walking to school and saw a muddy communion veil by the curb. Like every other idea, my brain immediately turns it into a story. How did it get there? Was it just lost, thrown away? Since I write suspense.... the questions get darker. 

Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion



Ideas can come from just about anywhere. Watching the news, hearing a story about someone… Other times things just pop into my head. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the middle of writing a book and then read another one with the same premise. But every writer comes at a specific situation with a different perspective. Like Ruthy said, no two books would be written the same. Different voice, different life experiences, all those things play into the telling of a story.

Story Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark Passion


From my experience:

I get ideas from everywhere—listening to conversations at restaurants and elsewhere, watching people (while trying not to look too nosy!), reading news reports, and listening to sermons. Because I love to write about opposites attracting, I often dream up two entirely different people to throw together in a story.

In Her Unlikely Family, I wanted to put together a stiff banker in a tough situation with a unique, generous waitress ready to jump in to help. In The Doctor’s Second Chance, I wanted to throw together a small-town rugged home contractor with an uptight big-city pediatrician whom he resented.

In A Family for Faith, I was on a flight home from an RWA conference and watched as a single dad tried over and over to put a bow in his daughter’s hair and could not manage it. I yanked out a notepad and started writing ideas for a story about dad with a daughter at an age where she really needed a mother. I also used the real-life experience of a friend of mine as part of my divorced heroine’s backstory—where her child chose to go live with his dad and the pain that caused. So that story had ideas from everywhere!

You know, for this post, I was originally going to try to create a list of places or methods for getting story ideas. But now that I’ve re-read all the input from these writers, I don’t think I’ll try to do that. Every one of us gets ideas from whatever inspires us, whatever makes us question things, whatever sends our brains off in wild directions (worse-case-scenario-itis for some of us!). :)

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, look at what interests you. Open your eyes, ears, and heart. Pray for God to show you something that you can get passionate about. Because no matter how great an idea might seem, it really needs to be something you can wholeheartedly throw yourself into for the book to resonate and have heart.

Each of us is unique. Each of us has a lot to offer the world. Now go, enjoy writing those stories that are uniquely yours to tell!

Let’s chat! Tell us where you get your ideas. And those who aren’t writers, tell us story ideas you’d love to see written.


****** 
After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.



An Inspiring Mother-Daughter Story

Missy Tippens


It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. 
-- Hugh Laurie, English actor, musician, and comedian


I loved that quote. And it reminded me of someone I met the week before last...

An Inspiring Mother-Daughter Story


I recently attended the ACFW and Moonlight & Magnolias Conferences and was inspired by great workshops, time with writer friends, and conversations with writers I met for the first time.


At the M&M Conference, while waiting for an appointment, I met Crystal Ramos and noticed by the ribbons under her name tag that she was a finalist for the Maggie Award (unpublished). In the discussion, she mentioned her mother being at the conference with her. I commented on how fun that was that they had writing in common. So she filled me in on their story...


Crystal's mom, Colleen Baxter, used to write many years ago. Crystal has memories of waking during the night to go get a glass of water and seeing her mom at her computer writing. It didn't happen just once or twice, it was her mom's routine, part of her dream of publishing. Her mom eventually attended a writing conference and came home excited that an editor was interested in her work. Crystal says she doesn't know exactly what happened, but because of some family conflict, her mom never followed up with that editor and she quit writing altogether. So when Crystal decided she wanted to start writing, she knew she might be on her own and might not find 100% support, just like her mom hadn't had support. She also knew that if she ever got The Call, it wouldn't feel right to get that call before her mom did.


But Crystal started writing anyway. The third book she wrote finaled in The Daphne. She decided to attend her very first conference, the 2018 RWA conference. She was blown away by the support and encouragement of other writers and knew it was time to heal an old wound.
An Inspiring Mother-Daughter Story
Colleen and Crystal (and Crystal's son)

She went home and told her mom she was going to pay for her to go to the Moonlight and Magnolias conference that year and that she should have a book ready to go. So her mom began writing again. She kicked it in gear and wrote an historical romance novel in 6 weeks. Though it was too late to enter the Maggie Awards in 2018, Colleen did attend the M&M conference with Crystal. And though she didn't feel ready to pitch her story (we all know how scary that can be!), Colleen ended up revising it and entering it (along with two other stories!) in the 2019 Maggies.


And guess what. Both Crystal and Colleen finaled in the 2019 Maggie Awards! Yes, Colleen also wore that finalist ribbon at this conference she attended with her daughter.


Crystal, who finaled again in The 2019 Daphne, is still working to find a publisher but got requests at the conference. Colleen has decided to indie publish a three-book sci-fi series next year.


As Crystal told me their story, I was so moved I nearly cried. What a wonderful thing to encourage your mother like that. Now, she has no worries about having a writing career without her mom. They're on this journey together!


An Inspiring Mother-Daughter Story


I hope this story will inspire y'all to encourage someone you know, to help them hold on to their dreams. Like the Laurie quote above said, we may not feel ready, but the time is now.


I'd like to give a big thank you to Crystal and Colleen for letting me share their story with Seekerville!


Today, I had also planned to talk about story ideas. We had a blog reader email to ask us about where we get story ideas, and whether ideas can be copyrighted. But I think I'm going to save that for a future post to have space to go into more detail.


So, for today, let's hear your inspirational stories of how someone encouraged you, or how God gave you a boost when you were ready to give up. Or maybe you have given up at one time or another. Tell us your story. And if you need encouragement, please let us know so we can help. We want to support you!


As I promised in the Weekend Edition blurb, I'll be giving away a dot journal! (U.S. entrants this time). Please let me know in the comments if you'd like to be entered. Let's chat!

**********


After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com, https://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer


Missy Tippens

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer
Photo Credit: Bigstock/Ammentorp

A few of months ago, I read a wonderful post by Edie Melson on her blog, The Write Conversation. She shared 9 Tips for Supporting Your Writing Spouse. In it, she shared ways her husband has helped support her career--a very inspiring post!

Edie's post gave me the idea to come up with my own suggestions we writers can share with our family and friends, especially if we have trouble asking for support. Now, we can just send them a link to this post! :) And you who are readers can share this with your family as well, to help them know how to support you in your creative pursuits.

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer


--If we’re writing (or knitting or making jewelry or…) as a career, then please respect that it’s actually a career. Please don’t call it a hobby or act as if it’s less important than any other job.

--Offer to read our work. If you’re good at grammar, offer to proof it for us. If you’re not, but enjoy reading, offer to read it and give feedback. Also, please give encouraging and positive feedback along with the constructive criticism. (Use the “sandwich method” of sandwiching criticism between two slices of positive!) :)

--When we’re stuck, help us brainstorm ideas. Your different view of the world can give us lots of new ideas.

--At holidays and birthdays, writerly gifts (including cash to go toward conferences, contests, and office supplies) are much appreciated! A writer can never have too many cool pens or notebooks.

--Please be our supporter. Your encouragement can make all the difference in an industry that can be tough sometimes. When we’re down, it helps to know you’re on our side. Let us vent to you, but please keep that confidential. Then, if needed, give us a little tough love that boots us out of our pity party.

--If you like our books, please share them by giving a shout out on social media or by word of mouth. It can make all the difference in our sales!

--Please allow us time and space to think and write. Don’t feel offended when our mind suddenly goes off into our fictional world in moments of inspiration. Just be happy for us when our characters start to speak!

--If we don’t have a designated office, please allow us to claim some space for our computer, books and papers. We know things can get chaotic before a deadline, so bear with us!

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer
Photo credit: Crestock / fotodesign_jegg

--Speaking of deadlines… Please forgive us for all the frozen pizzas and bowls of cereal you may be fed when we’re responsible for meals around deadline time. It would be a huge blessing to us if you took over and offered to cook! (This is especially helpful when small children are involved.)

--Please know that we often experience guilt for time and money taken away from the family, especially before we’re published. Your generosity and reassurance through that period can make all the difference.

--Following our dream takes courage. It helps to know you understand and are proud of us for making sacrifices to pursue that dream.

--For many of us, writing (or knitting or making jewelry or…) is a calling. We feel led by God to make this journey. We hope you’ll honor our calling as we honor your calling.

--We love you, our family and friends, and thank you for supporting us!


Now, Seekerville, I hope you’ll add to my list! What would you like others to know about how to best support your creative endeavors?

Write with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite Writer


After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.


What if I had Given Up Then?


Missy Tippens

I recently did a blog interview where I was asked about my first Seekerville post. I thought I would do something fun today. I'm sharing that first post from October 23, 2007! I think it can be encouragement for new writers or any writers having a hard time.

So, here's old Missy (or should I say YOUNG Missy?!)...



Okay, admission time. I'm nervous about this post. Let's face it, I'm in very good company among these Seeker ladies. They're funny (as in Julie's hormonal story), clever and great writers. So as I've been thinking and worrying for the past week about what to write (and checking out the other posts to see what I have to live up to!), it hit me that what I'm having is kind of like first-contest jitters.


Photo of Missy from 2007!
How hard was it to send out your first contest entry?



Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to describe the terror. For one thing, at the time, I printed my entry, then went to the store or the church to make copies. Don't ask my why I never thought to print 4 or 5 copies. I made those trips to a copier for at least a year or two. And of course, that meant checking each copy to make sure everything had copied correctly (it didn't always).


So on that first trip to make copies for my first contest, I spread stacks all over the floor, checking the pages as I went. Then I bound everything with the exact kind of binder clips the contest required. Then I filled out and signed the entry form, once again reading each and every little rule to make sure I had complied--margins, font, spacing, page numbers, headings, name nowhere in sight. Then I labeled the package (mailed in the required envelope with no signature required), inserted the return envelope (no metered postage!), and finally read and re-read the address I was mailing it to. By the time I finished, my stomach hurt from the stress. Then when the postal man took it, I really thought I might throw up on him. What had I done? What if I had 26 lines on one page?! What if my name was on the synopsis?! Mary has a term for this--Senders Remorse (or something like that).

What if I had Given Up Then?


Well, I eventually got over the trauma of mailing that thing off. And my positive nature took over. Surely, everything was perfect. They would love my baby. My heart and soul had gone into the story, and I just knew it would final, an editor would love it, and I would make my first sale.

WRONG! When the time came for finalist calls (yes, at the time I posted sticky notes on my monitor that had the date of each contest announcement), did I get a call? No. I didn't. I was disappointed, but not devastated. Maybe next time. I bet I came close.


Wrong again. Eventually, the packet came in the mail. I was actually a little excited to see the feedback. But nothing prepared me for finding a sheet of paper that told the standing of all the entries (by number, of course, not name). I tied for 35th place out of 37 entries. Or gosh, there may have only been 36 entries. (See, Janet, I feel your pain with the similar results!)


I can't begin to tell you how humiliated I was. I remember my face burning. And I cried. I told myself I would NEVER, EVER enter another contest again. Of course, I wasn't going to ever write again anyway, so it wouldn't even matter. Surely, if I was bad enough to fall that low in the pack, then I didn't need to be writing anyway.

What if I had Given Up Then?


Obviously, I managed to keep going. I'm too hard-headed. And I just loved writing too much. So I tossed that envelope in a pile in the basement and moved forward. It was a good while before I entered another contest, though. I joined a critique group, then entered a couple of contests soon after revising the story. And it wasn't long before I finaled in the Laurie. What a thrill! And what a reward for staying on the course, even through the devastation. I remember that at the time I finaled in the Laurie, I was once again considering quitting (I don't remember why). I decided at the time that God had placed that final at the just the right time to encourage me. So I kept going. (But, hey, that topic is for another post.)

Anyway, tell us what mailing your first contest entry like. Did you nearly throw up on the poor postal worker like I almost did? :)

****
New, older Missy again (notice I didn't say old!)...

So writers, tell me about your first contest entry! And readers, can you share a time where you put yourself out there and took a risk? Something I keep thinking about after reading this post so many years later: WHAT IF I HAD GIVEN UP THEN? I hope this can be a call for all of us to push through the discouragement and hard times and KEEP GOING.



What if I had Given Up Then?
Current photo!
After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.
13 Years, One Month, and Three Weeks: Forever GratefulFour Tips to Better Focus During Brain FogStory Planning Software: PlottrBest of the Archives: Giving Readers What They Want...Consistently (aka: What I learned from being a cosmetics junkie.)Back to Basics: From the Seekerville Archives: Battling Through Your Manuscript...One Scene at a TimeAdvent Day 9: A Christmas Tradition -- the Chrismon TreeStory Ideas: More Than a List of Sources, They Must Spark PassionAn Inspiring Mother-Daughter StoryWrite with a Little Help from My Friends (and Family): Ways to Support Your Favorite WriterWhat if I had Given Up Then?

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